Sweden is home to an automotive cult known as “Raggare” (roughly translated: “pick-up artist.”) Its adherents revere American hot rods and the cruising lifestyle depicted by the film "American Graffiti." It’s helpful to think of the Volvo C70 hardtop convertible in this context, as a latter day Swedish pony-car. I know; it's a bizarre concept. A hardtop convertible produced by a car company known for impeccable safety and wildly inoffensive design aspiring to super-cool sex appeal? Like Swedish meatballs, it tastes a lot better than it sounds.
Posts By: Terry Parkhurst
Buying an automobile from a private seller is risky business. There’s only one guarantee: you have less chance of successful legal compensation than you would trying to recover your $5 tip from a New York City cabbie. On the positive side, you can make out like a bandit. This is especially true for a privately owned collector car. Whether it’s a classic or a street rod, if someone else gets stuck with the time and expense of restoration, you win.
Buying a car from a reputable auction house is a “safe” way to add to your collection. Yes, you must compete against equally serious buyers, but auctioneers depend on repeat business for their survival; they don’t stay afloat by ripping people off. And there’s far more legal comeback on a going concern than an individual seller. But buying a collectible car privately can be just as rewarding and much cheaper— if you use common sense, basic psychology and due diligence. First, you gotta know where to look.
As the New Year dawns, serious car collectors are about to take Horace Greely’s advice. They’re heading into the Arizona and Nevada deserts for the annual automotive auction feeding frenzy. Barrett-Jackson, Kruse International, RM Auctions, Russo & Steele, Silver Auctions— there’s enough action west of the Mississippi to satisfy the most voracious automotive aficionado. But as Public Enemy advised, don’t believe the hype. While the warm weather bidding frenzy appeals to high rollers, the best opportunities to locate a future heirloom at a bargain basement price usually lie within a 50-mile radius of your front door.
Hunkered down inside the Nissan 350Z Roadster convertible with the top up, you know the way a clam must feel when it looks outside its shell. The top is screwed down like one of those heavy-duty chop jobs on a lead sled of yore. While claustrophobics need not apply, the Z’s powerplant’s guttural moan vibrates through the floorboards and around the metal carcoon in a most sensually satisfying manner. Open the lid and this is what a proper sports car is all about: pure, unadulterated exhilaration.
A $60 tip might not seem like much in Reno, but at a Taco Bell? A customer asked the manager if she ever gave anything away for free. When she handed him the entire meal for nothing, he threw her three Andrew Jacksons. The exchange was no more inexplicable than some of the deals going down at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center during the Hot August Nights (HAN) car auction.
When you punch the Pontiac Solstice’s go pedal to the floor, you can almost hear that great Les McCann/Eddie Harris tune “Compared to what?” Normally, the Solstice is compared to the Mazda MX5 or its twin-under-the-skin, the Saturn Sky– which is a bit like comparing Heather Graham to Sarah Michelle Gellar and Salma Hayek. While it's clear that the GM cars have more visual appeal than the Japanese roadster, looks can be deceiving. Has GM “made it real,” or is the Solstice just playing a part?
The Upper Middle Fork road into Washington State’s Snoqualmie National Forest is the kind of road a SUV buyer sees all the time– in glossy ads. It’s a roller-coaster ride of immense potholes, fist-sized rocks and ankle-deep snow that carves through an ancient, awe-inspiring landscape. As such, it’s the perfect testing ground for the Mercedes-Benz ML500: a vehicle appealing to well-heeled suburbanites who want to know they could drive their $63k SUV down treacherous roads like this, at speed, even though they never will.