Willyam asked: What are some vehicles that were right for only ONE generation, before they went back to being awful? Just one brief, shining, moment… when everything came together and the product was genuinely good, you know? It makes me think of Richard Burton signing:
In short, there’s simply not
A more congenial spot
For happily-ever-aftering than here… in… Camelot!
I won’t spoil the fun by listing all the usual suspects here. Instead, I’ll give you my own eccentric opinion about a moment when a really crappy car became surprisingly desirable.
Between 1996 and 1998, it was possible to get a Grand Am GT coupe with a very aggressive bodykit, a 2.4-liter, 150-horsepower twin-cam four-cylinder that was a “Quad 4” by any other name, and a five-speed stick shift. I don’t think this was the fastest FWD Grand Am — that honor would probably go to the turbocharged ’86 stick-shift models — but it looked surprisingly good and it had an entirely acceptable power-to-weight ratio. They weren’t expensive, and you could get them in a monochrome gloss black colorway.
Equipped the right way, this was a car that was cheaper than a VR6 GTI while being about as quick and actually possessing a mild handling edge over the Mexi-German hatch. And the N-body cars were absolute cockroaches in terms of low-budget durability, even if they were more popular with some demographics than others.
When the Grand Am got bigger and heavier in 1999, it lost whatever charm it had possessed for me. It was also not even close to the best variant of its new platform; that honor would surely go to the Alero. So that’s my choice for a Camelot car. What about yours?
[Image: © 2014 Murilee Martin]