By on April 15, 2013
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I saw it this morning. Slipping along the in the dim, pre-dawn light and shrouded in the thin early morning fog that wicked up in wispy tendrils from the damp pavement, it was an apparition, a beast from another age. Like poor Yorick, alas I knew it well and although, in time, it has become the subject of infinite jest, it was in its day the most excellent fancy of many young men and it bore my youthful dreams upon its back a thousand times. It had, I thought, no right to be among the living when so many other, better, vehicles of its era were consigned to their graves, rotting away in fields, pulled apart for their components or crushed, shredded and melted wholesale back into their base elements. Why then, knowing through the clarifying lens of history the terrible truth about the trouble that lurked beneath its slick sheet metal, did its unexpected appearance stir a long-forgotten longing in my heart?

“May you live,” So goes the Chinese curse, “in interesting times.” Now well into my 40s, I can tell you that the times, especially from an automotive standpoint, have indeed been interesting. Waxing less rhapsodic, there has been a whole lot of suck built in the last four decades but the awful truth is that some of those cars still set my heart aflutter. I’m not sure what the attraction is, honestly. Is it the curve of a fender, the sweep of a windshield, or is it the fact that just seeing one sends me back to a more innocent time in my life when many of these cars were aspirational? I don’t know.

20/20 hindsight tells me many of these cars lack power and have an unacceptably high level of fuel consumption. They lack most real, modern safety equipment. They lack build quality, hell most of them came off the assembly line with issues, but I still fantasize about them. Crazy as it may seem, the following are “bad cars” that I would like to own –

Pontiac Grand Prix GTP

It’s hard to tell people today what a breath of fresh air the 1991 Pontiac Grand Prix was. It looked clean and its plastic body cladding accentuated just the right spots, making the car look wide and muscular. Door handles up on the door frame seemed like a real innovation as well and the interior, complete with buttons on the steering wheel and various switches mounted on the gauge cowl made feel like you were sitting in a rocketship. In GTP trim, the V6 produced more than 200 horsepower and could be had with an automatic or a stick. Frankly, I thought these cars looked great back in the day, and I think they look pretty darn good today, too.

Chrysler LeBaron Turbo, Coupe

When Kitty changed her name to Karen and traded her MG for a white Chrylser LeBaron, this is the one the she got. With their long hood line and short rear deck lids, the mid to late 80s Chrysler LeBarons are still, in my opinion, one of the best looking cars ever. By 1990 a V6 had been added to the mix, but I am a Chrysler Turbo guy and that would be my first choice. I understand that the 148 horsepower turbo could also be ordered with a 5 speed manual, but I have never seen one in person. Inside they are “budget plush” and they don’t come anywhere equaling the interior design and build quality of a modern sub compact like the new Dart, but they were functional and comfortable enough for long trips. Many convertible LeBarons have survived into the present day and I even see them offered occasionally on the Buffalo area Craigslist at reasonable prices, but my preference is for the coupe.

Jaguar XJS- V12

When I was a kid I used to stay up past my bed time and watch a British TV show called “The New Avengers.” I don’t remember much about it, but one thing that has stuck in my mind was the car used in the show, a pre-production Jaguar XJS-V12. They have terrible reputations, I know, but that classic shape, the hand built interiors and the idea of 12 cylinders under the hood stills sets my heart aflutter. I would love to own one of these, providing I could find one in good condition and then not have to rely upon it. As usual, my inclination is to avoid the convertible and stick with the coupe.

So there you have it, three “bad cars” that I would still love to own. Don’t try to talk me out of it, love is a funny thing. Fortunately, I am in a committed relationship so I won’t be sticking my key in crazy anytime soon. Tell me though, validate my unexpected rush of emotion and tell us about the cars that bring out your own psycho love.

Thomas M Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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90 Comments on “Psycho Love: Sticking Your Key In Crazy...”


  • avatar
    thats one fast cat

    I know this makes me a complete prole, but…

    1987 Pontiac Fiero Formula.

    Terrible interior, not fast enough to match its looks, and built by GM in the 80s. Yeah, the trifecta of badness. Still, I can’t help surfing ebay to find out just how cheap I could get one.

    BTW, the XJS really isn’t as bad as its reputation. As long as you have a hate-hate relationship with your excess money, you should be fine…..

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Man, the Fiero GT body style is a fine looking car. And given that they had enough room for a 400 small block… No shame in admitting it! :)

    • 0 avatar
      bryanska

      I had a 1986 Fiero and loved the interior. It was perfectly fine for me. The 1988s could handle to match the looks, for sure.

    • 0 avatar
      juicy sushi

      The Fiero inspires such longing, I think because everyone knows how good it could and should have been. Many have made them awesome on their own initiative to make up for it.

      I remember Bob Lutz’s comment about the Fiero (made during the launch of the Viper): “If that thing had’ve had a decent motor and they’d made about 20,000 a year it would have been one of the hottest cars in the world right now.”

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        Fortunately dropping in a supercharged 3800 out of a W-body seems to be fairly easy, and since the Fiero is lighter than a W-body and that motor has great power potential, you should end up with one hella fast Fiero.

        300+ hp and fat supercharged torque going right to the rear wheels sounds like a recipe for a hell of a fun ride.

    • 0 avatar
      86Fiero

      The Formula Trim level was only available in 1988.

  • avatar
    majo8

    Porsche 928 – Any year, any model. Although I’d be to afraid to ask for a commitment, knowing my heart and wallet would eventually be broken.

    Mercury LN7 – If I could find one that hasn’t let herself go in the last 30 years, I’d take her home today…..

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The 928 is a great pick. I remember when it was the car of F1 drivers. They have so many thoughtful, luxurious details, like a refrigerated glove box. Too bad actually keeping all those features functioning requires the resources of an F1 team. We looked at them new in the late ’80s. The Porsche salesman didn’t even seem that comfortable about selling them, and basically said to get an automatic if you insist on buying one. The clutches on the manuals were making life miserable for the service department.

      My favorite 928 is the first one, with the frangible clutch. They possess all the interior complexity, handling that caught out some early magazine scribes, more aerodynamic drag than their looks justified, massive fuel consumption, and all the straight line speed of a new Civic LX 5-speed. I love the telephone dials, lack of a spoiler, and original body shape with the tear-drop pop-up headlights that much, and a friend’s father picked him up from school in one when we were 6 years old. I was mesmerized when he cycled the headlights and haven’t seen a new Porsche that was as exciting and actually new since.

      • 0 avatar
        mankyman

        You can’t leave out the 924 and 944 either! My cousin picked up a 1984(?) 924 for about $1500. He had the laughable idea that he would fix it up and turn it into his daily driver. It was cherry red and he fell in love with it as he drove past the service station where it was being stored. The repair bills just started piling up. I don’t believe he actually drove the thing more than about 50 miles before he gave up in defeat and sold it to the next mark.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          We had a 1987 924S from 1986-2004. It was a great car for the first 35,000 miles. Then it was relegated to almost occasional use, and that didn’t agree with it a bit. Our dealer hit financial difficulties too, and tried to make ends meet with incredible service charges. I think it had 43,000 miles when we sold it, the last 5K at a bout a dollar per.

          • 0 avatar
            Carl Kolchak

            Buddy of mine a year out of High School had a 77 924 with an auto. One of the slowest vehicle ever. Best part was his beater had the license plate frame “My other car is a Porsche.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            The 924S had the 944’s mechanicals, so it was about as fast as the 924 Turbo had been. It was quick enough for the mid-80s. Car and Driver saw 0-60 in 7.5, which was quicker than a BMW 325i, but not really a threat to turbocharged Diamond Star or Mustang GT. The original 924 was just born at a slow time. I’m sure the 3-speed automatic borrowed from the Audi 5000 did it no favors, but in stick form it was no slower than an Alfetta GT, a TR7, a 320i, or a Fiat 124. Bumpers were at their biggest and heaviest, and emissions controls were doing the most harm to performance.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @CJinSD

            I currently have an ’87 924S as a project. You ain’t kidding – even doing the work myself it is horrifyingly expensive, and this car has not THAT much wrong with it, just old car that has sat too much issues. Just as expensive to fix as a 911 for a car with the resale value of an old VW. Sigh. At least the actual VW parts are cheap, and there are a lot more of them than on a 944/968.

            Gives me something to tinker with in the garage, but I gave up on it being my autocross demon which was it’s initial lot in life. I MIGHT have it back on the road next year or the year after. A sunk cost at this point, just need to put in the time. Some guys waste money on golf or hookers and blow, I waste it on old European sportscars.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Some parts of the 924S just oozed quality, like the body and the hardware it was put together with. Some aspects of it were quite frustrating. Does yours have the power roof? It lifts up a bit at the back on little fingers that rise out of the C-pillars. They also serve to retain the top in its closed position, or to release it so that you can lift it off. The fingers have little plastic teeth on them, which are gear driven by motors. A few of the teeth on ours fell off, leading to one side of the roof being lifted higher than the other. That put the end to tilting the roof. It also meant that getting one side to be high enough to retain the roof without the other side being so high that it opened the roof became a pain. Repairs? G&W told us that the new parts would be just as old an brittle as the ones we were seeking to replace. Yippee!

            The car also had struts for the hood and hatchback. When new, they worked great. You could push a button in the kick panel and the hatch would open. The button released two pin retaining clasps on the hatch. When the struts lost their charge, the hatch didn’t want to open unless you lifted it simultaneously with triggering the release. The hood struts also lost their charge, even though it wasn’t open much early in the car’s life. We were advised about replacing any of the struts. The new ones would have been in their boxes long enough to have lost their charges too.

            The HVAC system was a source of amusement early on. A/C was added at some time in the car’s evolution from the 1976 924, and it was not integrated. It had its own fan speed and temperature controls, in addition to the ones for the heating, defrosting, and other ventilation functions. The routing of the air was controlled by two small sliders. There was a pictogram indicating how to get maximum defrosting. Do you instead want floor heating or fresh air from the dash vents? You figure it out. The outer vents were thumb sized and the A/C had a hard time with Virginia summers and a black interior. There were two valves buried deep in the dash that must have been connected to the sliders. One valve failed. The Porsche dealer said that they should replace both, as the second was bound to be as used up as the failed one. They were right next to each other, so it only made sense to replace both of them. Then they charged full book rate for each valve replacement. Good times!

            The speaker placement was perfection. Even with 4×6 speakers, the audio quality was excellent. Naturally, the right channel of the $657(1986 dollars) Blaupunkt went into early retirement. IIRC, that car had a separately mounted fader scroll. I don’t know why.

            In spite of the headaches, if you get yours sorted then I’m jealous. That car was magical when it was new. The steering was probably the best ever fitted to a road car. The chassis balance let me catch a slide as a 17 year old while going faster around a curve than I’d previously driven in a straight line. We should have used it more, particularly back in the early ’90s. I’d drive it when I was in Virginia, which was never that often. The rest of the time it mostly just sat. Ironically, I did go back to Virginia for a couple years. Right after we sold it.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @CJin SD

            Luckily, mine is an EARLY ’87, so no silly roof. Gold with tan interior, and the A/C still works fine, thankfully. I can imagine with the black interior that goldfish bowl interior would become a TAD toasty… Not a problem up here in Maine. Mine has 55K on it, but as you said, they sure don’t like sitting. I am having to replace the entire cooling system, worst of which being resealing the water-oil intercooler, which is leaking coolant into the sump. To get that out, you have to remove the headers – which there isn’t really room to do. All the power steering hoses are leaking too, of course, and the vacuum lines are crumbling. Changing the motor mounts was a fun project too… And when all that is done, the dread timing belt/front of engine service. And the brake calipers are siezed from sitting too. But it is all there and un-messed with, so it is a good start. It needs about 4-5 more good weekends of work. Mine didn’t come with a stereo, and it is too early to have the silly fader, but one speaker isn’t working even with the new stereo, and of course it is one of the back ones that you have to take a window out to access it properly. Sigh.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            We took delivery of ours in July or August of 1986, so your car being early probably isn’t a factor in the different equipment levels. Maybe I’m wrong about the separate faders. I could be confusing it with one of our BMWs. I know the 1988 E30 had one when new. We ordered it without the sunroof or the radio and with a tan interior, but the sunroof, radio, and black interior showed up. At least it was guards red.

            The radio didn’t match the window sticker description now that I think about it. The window sticker listed a higher end model(the $657 model mentioned above), but the car was built with a Blaupunkt Houston, for which we paid $418. Crutchfield is in my hometown, and a better radio from them would have been half the price. People that obsess about Porsche restoration accuracy and documentation make me laugh. I’ve seen disparities between build sheets and cars on brand new ones.

            I had no idea that you had to take a window out to get to the rear side panel speakers. Yuck. You can’t just pull the side panel? I guess that’s why all of the cars had “radio prep” including the speakers.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Only the VERY first batch of “87” 924S did not have the sunroof. Mine was built in January of ’86 and was one of the first 500 built. There are a WHOLE bunch of other mechanical differences too – it has more in common with an ’85 944 than it does with your car in a lot of ways – the cutover was in April for a lot of this stuff, supposedly. The cooling system is different, the brakes are different, the oil system is different. Makes getting the right parts all sorts of fun. And of course, most of the online parts vendors have not a clue. My local Porsche dealer does not even bear visiting…

            Oh, you can get that panel OUT with the window in place, but you can’t get it back in correctly. That rear side panel goes behind and around the window gasket. Bloody Germans!

        • 0 avatar
          MrWhopee

          While we’re talking about the 924s and 944s, how about the 968? I thought they were the best looking of the series, and the best too, being the latest. I remember a guy from the place I bought brakes from pulled up in a race prepped one. I mean, it has roll cages and racing seats, five point harness and everything! Just soo beautiful.

          • 0 avatar
            Darkhorse

            I had a 1989 944S2. Loved that car and had very few problems with it. I traded in on a 1994 911 RS America that I sold within 6 months. Stupid.

        • 0 avatar
          Syke

          Gotta dive in on this one. Bought an ’87 924S in 2009 with 116k on the clock (was looking for a first gen Miata). Fell in love with the car on the twisties, forget the Mazda.

          Now it’s 2013, the car has 130K on the clock, the license plate “PZKW 924″, and has been a solid recreational driver for me for the past four years. Of course a few things have had to be replaced, normally about one item a year. I still love driving it (to the point that it’s seriously gotten in the way of my motorcycles). Only have one complaint . . . .

          It’s not a roadster. Amazingly, I’ve never owned a convertible (the Miata hunt?), and at 63 I better start thinking along those lines Real Soon Now. I’m trying to figure a way to get another toy car (Miata, S2000, a nice Alfa, etc.) and not give up the 924.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      +1 on the 928 AND the LN7.

      I think every product of the 80’s who saw Risky Business dreamed of a 928. I had to “settle” with a 944S2 – loved that car.

      I also had a Ford EXP. A horrid car by so many different definitions. I believe it holds the distinction of the most out of balanced car every produced 68/32 F/R weight ratio. Incredible amounts of understeer, and if you ever managed to somehow get that feathery light tail to kick out, you were just along for the ride until it all stopped. But it was unstoppable in the snow (seriously – one of the best in the snow with crap tires car I ever drove) got great MPG and there was something endearing about the go-kart grade ride and seating position. The hatch was also very flexible, the little car could swallow a lot.

    • 0 avatar
      Scout_Number_4

      My favorite memory of the 928: “Who’s the U-Boat Commander?”

  • avatar
    lon888

    My boss had one of the LeBaron ragtops. He absolutely loved it, but could barely keep it running. It’s the reason he drives a Prius today.

    One would nearly have to be mad to own ANY Jaguar – especially the V-12 models. I still have nightmares about doing a valve adjustment on a Jag 3.8 litre. I guess the valves adjusted me more than I adjusted them. Beautiful cars but what a pain…

    • 0 avatar
      bryanska

      I have always wanted to do a Chevy V8 swap.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        With the relatively lightweight refined LS V8’s you might not even miss the 12…actually I take that back…two friends in high school had these to use (mom’s ride) and that 12 sounded awesome. As these aged, you know two or three years old, they became nightmares to keep running correctly. Sportique Motors was glad to take your money to keep them running.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Four fuel pumps on that V-12. And if one quits, they all stop. And then you get to figure out which one is the problem.

      I’d love an XJ-S. Six cylinder.

  • avatar
    JoelW

    Mid-80’s Chevy Monte Carlo SS.

    ‘Nuff said.

  • avatar
    ...m...

    1967 Lotus Europa S1
    1981-1986 Lotus Esprit Turbo

    1992-1996 Jaguar XJS V12 Coupé
    2004-2005 Jaguar XKR Coupé

    1988 Pontiac Fiero GT
    2009 Pontiac Solstice GXP Coupé

    • 0 avatar
      thats one fast cat

      +1 on the Lotus Esprit Turbo. So cool. So Fragile. So completely insane to own.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        Love love love the Lotus Esprit Turbo. However, you could get the turbo four in the early ’90s with that perfection straight line styling. It was the car Richard Gere was driving, albeit badly, in Pretty Woman. Of course, he could be excused, the hamster probably caused him to be uncomfortably with the clutch.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    That GTP is a fine looking car. No need to feel odd about admitting it out loud.

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    Just yesterday I was in back of a spotless Jaguar XJS V12 convertible. It was so so beautiful. I can’t even describe…

    Oh yeah..My fantasy bad car would have to be a Dodge Diplomat, police car with 4 barrel 360 is preferable. I know it would a slow noisy rough gas guzzler, but I love it’s mechanical simplicity and boxiness.

  • avatar
    mankyman

    I always lusted after the late 1990s BMW M3 and M5. I never owned one but I got the distinct impression these cars mostly served to drain money from your pocketbook. But isn’t that true of all these older European cars? Good from afar but far from good.

  • avatar
    pdieten

    I was trolling some used car dealer’s website yesterday and stumbled across a listing for a 1983 Pontiac Bonneville G. The car itself wasn’t that interesting but they included pictures of its soft, plush brown velour interior that looked as good as new. At that moment I would have given anything to sit in that car on that velour bench seat. I really don’t know why, but it looked like the most comfortable thing in the world.

    The car has the Chevy 5.0L V8. Low miles & not that expensive. Maybe I should go look at it…..

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      Buy it and review it.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Looks comfortable, causes agony in 30 minutes due to lack of support. Those rock hard European seats can be sat in for 20 hours at a stretch, the American sofa style not so much. Feels GREAT on a 10 minute test drive though.

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        If your back got sore after 30 minutes you’ve got front not back problems. I took many a road trip in my ’81 Olds Cutlass Supreme and those velour bench seats were just as comfy after 15 hours of driving as they were when I sat down in them.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          Some of those cars were less miserable than others, but the bench front seat in a rented Buick Regal messed up my thin mother’s back in 1984. The magazines were commenting on the short lived comfort of many American luxury cars compared to German alternatives in the ’70s and ’80s, and it was quite common to see the driver of cars like your Oldsmobile and the Cadillac Coupe De Ville with their heads near the center of the windshield as they slumped over on the armrest.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          Carlson, some were pretty damn good, but quite a few sucked to say the least. It depended. The most comfortable American seat I ever sat in was the leather semi-buckets that were in a 1984 New Yorker. It was the only car that we owned that fit the American “rep” for poor reliability, but it had a really comfortable seat. So good in fact that I bought the interior out of a wrecked one and swapped most of it into my 87 Reliant. Most people were quite surprised when the sat in that cheap little car….

  • avatar
    threeer

    Though I grew up in Germany and harbor a deep love of (older) BMWs (say, up to the E46 3-series), I still find myself secretly looking at ads for a mid 80’s Buikc Regal/Olds Cutlass. My uncle had a white Regal with deep red vinyl interior that I just loved. Something about that squared off shape…toss in one with t-tops and I’d probably bite.

    • 0 avatar

      You saw the article I wrote about my 84 Cutlass, right? Great car, and if you get them without a bunch of power options they have aged remarkably gracefully.

      • 0 avatar
        threeer

        Yep. Something about them just sits right with me. I know they aren’t fast and don’t handle worth a dang…but to be able to take the tops off and cruise on a Saturday night would be sublime.

        • 0 avatar

          Owning an mid-80s Cutlass in great shape is what owning a 57 Chevy must be like. It is an iconic car and it makes people crazy. I can’t tell you how many offers people made on it – one time on a cross country trip a guy saw it parked in front of a restaurant, came in and went table to table asking about it before he finally found me.

          Everyone remembers them, everyone has a story about them. Owning one is a chance to make people happy and to see them at their best. If you ever get the chance to own one, get it.

          • 0 avatar
            wsimon

            So how crazy am I for wanting to do an LS1 engine swap to said Cutlass?

          • 0 avatar

            I don’t think the extra power would be a bad thing, but they really need suspension work to bring them into the modern age. I’m no mechanic so I couldn’t tell you what to do, but less body roll and power sterring with some sense of feedback would do wonders.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “So how crazy am I for wanting to do an LS1 engine swap to said Cutlass?”

            None at all. Many of these G-bodies are finding new life with these modern powertrains.

            Depending on what you want to do with it, it can be done mild to wild, or budget friendly to wallet draining.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            And the suspensions are easy to upgrade. Also modern ball joints and other parts make a big difference in and of themselves. You’d be surprised just how good these can be made to handle….

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        As I stated in replies to Beelzebubba’s emotion-filled comments and stories (which I re-read yesterday..and wept again), keeping with how long-lived GM lines seem, the best year is usually the last year. (Even as a dyed-in-the-wool Honda fanboi, I was still raised GM (before the failings which took my family into the Honda camp): took my driver’s test in Mom’s 1980 Cutlass Sedan, and my first car was a used-up 1978 Cutlass Salon Coupe (the “aeroback,” which looked like a hatchback).)

        To that end, if I could find a near-mint (or a low-mile “normal”-use example, which would only take a $couple-K of NOS parts to bring to showroom) condition 1987 Cutlass Supreme Brougham Sedan with EVERY option, down to the WHITEWALLS, wire wheels, F-41 suspension, and especially the 5.0 V8 with 4-speed auto overdrive, I’d snap it up in a heartbeat! Use it as a “summer” toy, take it to a local car show, Olds meet or two, and just show it off while sitting in a lawn chair next to it, working on my tan, enjoying malt beverages in the cooler next to me, and just chillin’!

        (Unfortunately, as I’ve stated elsewhere, I suspect most of these that haven’t been remade into Chinese appliances are awaiting their fate as demo-derby or monster-truck-crush fodder, or have been snapped up by a certain demographic with predelictions toward wheels and tires off the average 747, non-standard paint jobs, and sound systems that register on the Richter scale at nearby seismographs.)

  • avatar

    A Ford built on a Renault Project (that would become the R12 in Europe). A car with an engine designed in the 50s, that sold in Brazil until the late 80s. Slower than molasses, comfortable as sin. I guess living in the US as a child shows off on my crazy love for this car as to my eyes it looks so American, Caddy-like in its squared off lines. The best finished car in Brazil for many years, plush ride, all the things that are still extras in many a Brazilian car (AC, power everything). Something similar to the link below, but make mine in that light blue that has always screamed Ford in my mind. One day, when I have the cash and the space, I’ll bite and be the butt of jokes of my friends, and a rolling of eyes and incomprehension by my wife.

    http://www.webmotors.com.br/comprar/ford/del-rey/1-6-ghia-8v-alcool-2p-manual/2-portas/1987-1988/9296069

    • 0 avatar
      juicy sushi

      That link didn’t work for me, but a google search told me all I needed to know. It’s ok Macelo, I get what you’re on about. It’s not the car I would dream about myself, but I know where those dreams are coming from.

      I still envy you your Ka though…

      • 0 avatar

        Hey juicy sushi,

        I knew there’d be at least one fellow enthusiast who’d understand. It’s no sports car, but it’s the Brazilian version of the American barge…Plus it has that design that is never coming back. Plus, my granddad had one and I rode many a time in it..Who am I kidding? It’s ridiculous, and no amount of self justification can put even a smidgeon of rationality into it. That’s why it’s so appropriate for Thomas’s article.

        BTW, as you can easily surmise it’s a completely different beast from the Ka. But both are cool in their own very different way.

  • avatar
    Mike

    I agree with this list completely, and would add majo8’s 928 (my very first Radio Controlled car) with great enthusiasm.

    Also, 300 bonus points for the Cake reference.

  • avatar
    dolorean

    - early ’90s Dodge Daytona RS. The other mullet-mobile, but I love ‘em.
    – late ’80s Pontiac Formula Firebird
    – late ’70s Toyota Celica Coupe, the original Jelly-Bean car. Not much power, but unbelievably bullet proof reliable and the 5 spd was a joy to row.
    – 1985 Renault Feugo. Shut up, that’s why.
    – 1982 AMC Eagle Talon Wagon. On the fly, four wheel drive.
    – Any year Subaru Brat.
    – 1983 Jeep Scrambler Golden Eagle.
    – 1985 Mitsu Starion turbo.
    – 1992 Eagle Talon AWD turbo coupe.
    – 1986 Nissan 300ZX Turbo 2+2 with T-tops.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I have soft spot for the Renault/Eagle Medallion.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Agree on the Starion and 300ZX. They just such iconic 80s rides.

      I had a ’96 Eclipse GS-T (FWD turbo) and it was a blast to drive. Sure my current Z is quicker (by a full second to 60) but the Jekyll & Hyde personally of that 210 HP turbo made that Eclipse seem wicked fast.

  • avatar
    Hezz

    Would a Merkur XR4Ti fit in this category or is it too legitimately awesome?

    Oldsmobile Aurora, Cadillac Allante, and my personal best for “you wouldn’t dare” style lust, the MVS Venturi.

    • 0 avatar
      Cubista

      Merkur XR4Ti? Bucketloads of awesome…Ford USA never made anything CLOSE to that cool at the time; the Mustang SVO was a poor attempt.

      For me it’s the Porsche 944. There’s a garage/salvage lot on the way to work that has DOZENS of them on display in all their rotary dial-wheeled glory. I still remember the MTV contest that gave away Jake Ryan’s “Sixteen Candles” 944 when the movie came out.

      “Many convertible LeBarons have survived into the present day and I even see them offered occasionally on the Buffalo area Craigslist at reasonable prices, but my preference is for the coupe.”

      That is probably wise…I’ve owned that generation of LeBaron ragtop, and the seal for the top is notorious for wearing out/detaching, meaning that if you live in any kind of a wet climate without the protection of a garage/carport, you would be wise to invest in a portable Shopvac to bail up to two inches of water from your floorboards after every rainfall.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      Last week I was surprised to see two Allantes, one daily driver on the freeway that looked a little more clapped out, and one sitting on someone’s driveway that looked like it was a daily driver too.

      I also saw at least 6 Tesla Model S’s just on Sunday alone.

  • avatar
    cls12vg30

    I originally learned to drive in my father’s 1988 LeBaron coupe. It looked identical to the one in the ad pictured. I remember when he brought it home after selling his POS ’85 Duster. I was 15 or so at the time and I thought it was one of the most beautiful cars I had ever seen.

    It’s too bad the 2.5L four was such crap. Even after a new set of pistons that thing sounded like a diesel at idle. But as I recall the car handled and rode very well, and it was comfortable inside.

    I wouldn’t mind finding one of the later V6 models, even though it’s the same Mitsu 3.0 that we had in an ’88 Voyager, and it went through 3 sets of headgaskets in 110K miles. I wonder if a VG30E would fit?

  • avatar
    aparagusP

    I know I would regret owning a 66 Toronado along with its single digit MPG but it sure would turn the heads.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Jaguar XJ sedan, from 1968 to 2009, love that classic look. I really lust after the XJ8s from 1998 to 2009. My desire is strongest for the 2002 to 2009 models with the naturally aspirated V8. Make mine a Valden Plas model, dark exterior (British Racing Green PLEASE!) and a tan leather interior. I can’t get them out of my head and the resale on them is terrible, I see them all over eBay and AutoTrader for around $12,000 with reasonable miles. I know it would likely bleed me dry but I want one so badly.

    My other lust is Northstar powered Caddys, especially the DTS from 2006 to 2011. Even my favorite car salesman (who happens to be the scion of a local family that has been in the car bis since the 1910s and has been selling GM products that entire time) says; “Damn that Northstar is sweet to drive but when something goes wrong… Hide your wallet.” The DTS is another car with piss poor resale so I get tempted to buy clean used models for $11,000 to $15,000 dollars.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      I say go for it. The later Northstars have an undeserved reputation. They are everything a Cadillac engine should be, smooth, refined with solid power and responsiveness. I miss my Northstar-powered STS.

      My irrational car fantasy cars are Opel GTs (I came close to owning one once) and the Triumph GT-6+ (which I did own).

    • 0 avatar
      Firestorm 500

      My wife has an ’01 STS Sport, black on black, that she absolutely loves.

      I dread trying to find her a newer car someday that will live up to her expectations. I’m keeping this sucker as long as it runs. 156K miles and we wouldn’t be afraid to take it anywhere.

  • avatar
    Mrb00st

    “When Kitty changed her name to Karen and traded her MG for a white Chrylser LeBaron, this is the one the she got. With their long hood line and short rear deck lids…”

    with their short skirts and long jackets, perhaps?

    Nice Cake reference.

  • avatar
    Mrb00st

    Also, my nomination is a first-generation Olds Aurora. I know the downfalls: the northstar that randomly pukes it’s fluids, pops head gaskets, eats head studs, that 4-speed that shits the bed at random intervals, all that.

    But back then, WHAT A CAR. That smooth as silk quad-cam V8 beating away *just* quietly enough under the hood. Enough power to feel special, but not enough to overwhelm the front tires. That interior: a page stolen straight out of the “Supra” text book, with the dash curving towards the driver. That digital trip computer with the tinted clear lid that flipped down to hide the buttons. Those plush leather seats. That futuristic (the future I want to live in…) styling. Such a car. Such a swan-song.

    The second generation was a big, stinking turd by comparison. Of course Olds failed. The world was too busy buying Camrys with fake wood trim and a oil-sludging gutless V6 to pay attention to a freakin’ Oldsmobile.

    • 0 avatar
      juicy sushi

      All of what you say is true, but for me, the second generation just looked so much better. Perhaps the best production car GM did (looks-wise)in the 1990s…

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    Mark IV VW Golf TDI. First car I ever paid off completely, and second favorite car I ever had. Foolishly sold it to an ex girlfriend for a song, and she didn’t take care of it worth a damn. Last time I saw it (2008 or 2009), it was in HORRIBLE condition. Made me regret not keeping it. Fortunately for the car, Bambi took one for the team and put it out of its misery in December 2012.

    Just knowing that it would break my heart and wallet to own another one keeps me away, but I do feel a pang of longing every time I see one. Especially if it’s black.

    I made it through 2.5 minutes of the video before I couldn’t take it anymore. I’m a glutton, no?

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    I’m still looking for a 1983 AMC Spirit GT. A hatch with a straight six and 5-speed, what could be a better sports car wannabe? I almost bought one from a co-worker, but her husband sold it to his brother, who wrecked it.

  • avatar
    David Hester

    1998- 2002 Cadillac Eldorado. FWD, the Northstar V-8 with all of it’s attendant drama, and general GM crapitude that nearly killed Caddy before the advent of the Art and Science theme. I don’t care. Make mine dark red with a landau roof and white interior.

  • avatar
    cfclark

    I second the Porsche 928, and I’ll go one better and add the Citroen SM. In fact, I’d love to have both at the same time. And a bus pass. :D

  • avatar
    JKC

    In no particular order…

    A Series III Land Rover. Diesel, LWB.

    A Jaguar E-Type convertible.

    And at the risk of losing all my liberal street cred… a Hummer H1. Got to drive one in Arizona on an off-road desert tour. It was cool…

  • avatar
    luvmyv8

    I like the Z31 Nissan 300ZX myself, one of my most treasured toys from when I was a kid was a Hot Wheels 300ZX in white with the red and orange 300ZX stripe on the sides and gold wheels, plus it came in a box that looked like a California plate that read ‘300ZX’.

    Plus I love Nissan VG engines. The way they sound and plus those bastards are hard to kill, I know first hand…. I couldn’t kill my ’88 Maxima’s engine and I TRIED. That car survived my high school years. It can handle a little boost just fine.

    Funny too, how vilified the Z31 is, why? Maybe the non-turbo wasn’t all that great, especially if it’s a 2+2 and automatic, but the Turbo 25 Anniversary Edition looks great, even today. That and 200 hp was pretty good power in the early 80’s, back then Ford’s 5.0 cranked out 160 hp.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    1. Last Gen RX7 Twin Turbo.
    2. One of those Power Stroke Diesels that makes the exhaust do the blowtorch bit.
    3. 94 Capri XR2 Turbo with stick
    4. Chevy Citation X11

    Honorable mention to the VW Karmann Ghia

    • 0 avatar
      gator marco

      The Citation X11 !!
      Am I the only other person who would love to have a shot at another one of those!
      Nothing said cheapo GM transportation like the sideways radio, and the power windows that had a mind of their own. I’d want one with the stickers peeling off.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    I give promiscuity a bad name. Most old cars that perform craptastically in today’s world could snag me easily.I guess I never got over the ford flathead and that should be easy to do.In the meantime It think I will continue to have new DDs and a truck thats old enough to be simple and new enough to be pretty reliable. My wife keeps me from spending the family fortune.

  • avatar
    thomm

    Other than Edwardian Grey SAAB SPG’s, Alfa 164S’ s have always attracted me…espescially one I saw for sale in royal blue just after I had bought a 528i 5MT. Came close to selling off the bmw to get it even though I had only owned it for two weeks. A spinal injury that keeps me from working a clutch correctly will forever keep it on the look but don’t touch list for me….also Alfa GTV6’s fall under the same heading…and Milano’s. Too much time staring at the alfa emblems on the ’68 duetto my pops restored when I was a kid, I guess. Ha!

    • 0 avatar

      I had an Edwardian Grey SPG. 1988. Trans sh*t the bed 30k after a full rebuild – only mods were exhaust and a Swedish Dynamics red series APC, open intake, like 18psi. So great and so terrible at the same time…

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    That’s kind of shady.

  • avatar
    Mikein08

    Oh how I still lust after my mother’s 1969 Mercury Cougar with the
    351 v8 … she traded it for a 1970 AMC hornet with a 304 v8, and I
    lust for that car too. Both were maintenance nightmares, but they
    were fast …

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    The V-12 Jag XK-S certainly continues the E-Types “crumpet collector” tradition. Sadly, Jaguar cars were so short of funds by that time that their tooling machines had literally worn out. So, for example, cylinder bores were sometimes not quite round — slightly oval. These kinds of problems are simply unrepairable . . . and the complexity of the V-12 is legendary.

  • avatar
    MK

    Lol, irony….thy initials are TTAC.

    My mom bought her first and only new car as an 87 Lebaron convertible with the 2.2 turbo…:( sadly one of the most unreliable cars we’ve ever owned. Not great for folks who could ill afford unreliable cars….the irony is that this replaced a 78 cutlass supreme that had failed spectacularly on the family trip back from NOLA.

    The most reliable car she owned was an 84 300zx turbo 5spd that yours truly totaled in a rollover accident caused by another guy. That was an excellent car in the 80’s.

    To top off all the name dropping in the thread, a good friends brother had recently bought a used 928 with the fantastically awesome Op-art Interior….which I “borrowed” one day for about 3 hours to pickup lunch for the office….damn he was pissed about that! That was one sweet money pit for sure! Even being quite well – off he couldn’t stomach the repair bills and sold it within a year or so.

    My cars that I know better than to buy:
    928, 944turbo (I had a 924 Weltmeister edition and aside from the seat coulor i knew it was a poor substitute!) , Triumph TR8 cabrio (power dome hood!), a red X19, bmw850, 56 studebaker golden hawk.

    The older I get, the more I value reliability with a minimum of fuss.

  • avatar
    tim850csi

    A cousin’s girl-friend at the time had a red 1989 LeBaron GTC coupe complete with gray leather interior, turbo 4 and … the mythical 5spd manual.

    Also recall it having a Turbo gauge mounted just above the center console which my parents 86 Lebaron GTS hatchback did NOT have. Doh.

  • avatar
    Reino

    If you like the LeBaron, what about the ‘TC by Maserati’? Sure, everyone likes to laugh at the poorly attempted joint venture, but that car still turns my head on the rare occasion I see it on the road. I’ve sat in one and have never seen more plush leather on any other car. They can be had in great shape for less than $4,000 with the same turbo-4 as the LeBaron, except you can put a sticker on your regular car that says ‘My other car is a Maserati’ ;)

    • 0 avatar

      It wasn’t the same turbo 4 as other turbo mopars – it was actually a predecessor to the hot-rod Spirit R/T and Dayton IROC-Z motor. 2.2L, 16v head cast by Cosworth, Mahle pistons, Crane Cams, better crank & rods, IHI turbocharger, Getrag 5-speed.

      Only 501 made like that. Early build TC autos had the normal Turbo II (160bhp to the 16v’s 200) and a 3-speed; that drivetrain was thankfully replaced by the Mitsu V6.

      /nerdrant

  • avatar
    Micah

    My dad really wants an XJS-V12. When asked why, the only explanation is “I know it will never run right, never be reliable, and never make any sense… but it HAS A V12.”

    Cars I wish I could own, but I know I’m better off without:
    Porsche 944
    old Range Rover
    any Lotus


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