The Truth About Cars » Curbside Classics http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 12 Apr 2014 23:33:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Curbside Classics http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Steve Lang Says Farewell (For Now) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/steve-lang-says-farewell-for-now/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/steve-lang-says-farewell-for-now/#comments Sun, 14 Jul 2013 20:42:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=495118 Image courtesy of the author.

After the leadership change last week, we opened up some communication with Steve Lang about returning to TTAC. Most of our readers would like to see the man behind the gavel back in action here. Unfortunately, Mr. Lang is as tough a negotiator behind the scenes as he is on the gravel of a buy-here-pay-here lot. We’ll continue to work with him to return “Hammer Time” to these pages, but in the meantime Steve’s asked us to print his “final goodbye”. While we haggle with the man, you can find him at Curbside Classic. Cross your fingers! — JB

“Wow! How many people have you helped?”

My father was looking at an article I wrote about car buying during the last few months of his life. He was shocked to see how many folks here at TTAC left their insightful comments and ideas within a matter of a few hours.


It was odd, and yet gratifying, for me to see the handles of commenters such as EducatorDan, VanillaDude, mikey and Zackman have such an enduring impact on my father’s psyche. Regardless of the unusual informality of what he read, my father was a proud man that evening. His son had done good for this world.

The Truth About Cars was a truly wonderful place that day and hopefully, it will continue to be so for countless others. I want to thank you all for making my life a better one. 60 years from now, I hope my own grandchildren will look at the archives at this site, ponder that golden question, and realize that their crazy old Grandpa was a truly helpful guy. I thank you. Personally. There can be no greater honor in life than having a chance to help your fellow man.

I wish you all the very best.

Steve Lang

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Down On the Farm: The General’s Troops Wait For Orders In Wisconsin http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/down-on-the-farm-the-generals-troops-wait-for-orders-in-wisconsin/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/down-on-the-farm-the-generals-troops-wait-for-orders-in-wisconsin/#comments Sat, 04 May 2013 16:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=487152 08 - Washington Island Farm Trucks - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI was born in Minnesota, my wife is from Wisconsin, and I have a job that ships me to the Upper Midwest several times per year. For all these reasons, I find myself in Door County every summer, eating cheese curds, drinking Spotted Cow, and going to vintage tractor shows. Last year, on my way to becoming a card-carrying Bitters Club member on Washington Island, I spotted these old General Motors survivors sitting in a field.
02 - Washington Island Farm Trucks - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinLooks like a couple of early postwar Chevy pickups and a GMC COE winch truck from the same era.
03 - Washington Island Farm Trucks - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThey’re not terribly rusty (for Wisconsin), which suggests that someone still cares for them.
09 - Washington Island Farm Trucks - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAnd why not? A farm truck is still useful, whether it’s five years old or 65.
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Down On the Mile High Street: Fiat 124 Sport Spider http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/down-on-the-mile-high-street-fiat-124-sport-spider/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/down-on-the-mile-high-street-fiat-124-sport-spider/#comments Wed, 12 Oct 2011 15:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=414429 After seeing the sad little yellow Fiat convertible in a Denver junkyard, let’s admire a happy little yellow Fiat convertible that’s still managing to evade the cruel jaws of The Crusher.
These things didn’t change much during the first few years of production, and I’m not a sufficiently maniacal devoted Fiat aficionado to spot the subtle model-year identifiers on this car, but I’m going to guess it’s a ’70 or ’71 model. I found it parked in front of a Denver church on a Sunday, so it may be one of those much-sought-after “little old lady only drove it to church on Sunday” cars. If so, I’m impressed by the little old lady’s choice of a 40-year-old Fiat over, say, a Buick LeSabre.
This car appears to be a super-original, rust-free example; probably not worth a ton of money (if we are to go by the Hemmings Motor News Classifieds), but a lot rarer nowadays than its British competitor, the MGB. The ’71 124 Sport Spider listed at $3,382 and boasted 90 horsepower, while the ’71 MGB sold for $2,875 and had 92 horsepower. Having driven both types, I’d say both are pretty poky, but the Fiat seems faster.
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Down On The Alameda Street: 1967 Plymouth Barracuda Convertible http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/down-on-the-alameda-street-1967-plymouth-barracuda-convertible/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/down-on-the-alameda-street-1967-plymouth-barracuda-convertible/#comments Tue, 20 Sep 2011 13:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=411843 Back when I lived in Alameda, California (also known as “The Island That Rust Forgot”), I photographed and posted nearly 600 interesting street-parked cars and trucks on Jalopnik. The first one was this Cadillac Cimarron d’Oro, back in May of ’07; the next 499 may be found here. I moved to Denver last year… which means the ITRF has had ample time to add many new DOTS candidates. I was on the island for a very brief time over the weekend and managed to shoot a couple of them.
This specimen wasn’t actually parked on the street, though it was in a blue-zone spot in a public parking lot downtown. I’ll make an exception to the “must be parked on the street” rule for a handicapped-placard-equipped Datsun 411.
I’ve always had a soft spot for the forgotten ’67-69 Barracudas, which ended up hidden in the shadows cast by the goofy Valiant-with-vast-fastback-glass versions that came before and the Baby-Boomer-nostalgia-inducing E-body versions that came after. I had a couple of friends at Alameda High with ’67 Barracuda fastbacks, which they were able to buy cheaply because— even in the early 1980s— nobody wanted them. This car is still an A Body, like the Dart/Valiant, but the sheet metal no longer looks quite so Valiant-ish.
Apologies for the crappy phone-camera photos here; one uses the camera on hand when a car like this appears. This extremely rare convertible looks a little rough, but I didn’t see any rust and it appears to be on the road to restoration.
The important thing is that it’s a classic Detroit pony car convertible that still sees the street as its native habitat. Perhaps it will be worth too much for street use in a few years, but for now it’s still out there.

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Down On The Mile High Street: Volkswagen Beetle http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/down-on-the-mile-high-street-volkswagen-beetle/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/down-on-the-mile-high-street-volkswagen-beetle/#comments Fri, 12 Aug 2011 19:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=406871 I don’t see quite as many Old Beetles on the streets of Denver as I did when I lived on the Island That Rust Forgot, but a few of the clattery old Germans still serve as daily transportation in the Mile High City. Even though I’ve owned several Beetles, I still can’t nail down exact model years at a glance; we’ll leave that to you Volkswagen zealots aficionados.
Judging by the taillights, bumpers, and flow-through air vents, I’d say this is an early-to-mid-70s Beetle. By 1974, the Beetle’s 1600cc engine was rated at an even-worse-than-the-MGB 46 horsepower. Can you imagine what Beetles with the air-conditioning option were like to drive?
I thought this was a Super Beetle at first glance, but it doesn’t have the long hood of the Super. Even with its allegedly more modern McPherson strut front suspension, the Super had even scarier handling characteristics than the torsion-bar regular Beetle. Hey, what’s that black stuff on the engine lid?
Air-cooled VWs often have a little problem with fires in the engine compartment, thanks to the hot engine and leak-prone fuel pump and lines. The driver of this car was on the ball when his or her engine started to burn and put out the fire in time.

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Curbside Classic Special: 1959 Edsel “Eco-Boost” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/curbside-classic-special-1959-edsel-%e2%80%9ceco-boost%e2%80%9d/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/curbside-classic-special-1959-edsel-%e2%80%9ceco-boost%e2%80%9d/#comments Wed, 08 Jun 2011 23:47:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=397846

Editor’s note: Ladies and gentlemen, for one night only, it’s the return of Curbside Classics to TTAC. You can catch Paul Niedermeyer’s work (along with contributions from an ever expanding crew of TTAC commenters and more) on a regular basis at the new Curbside Classics site. But this piece? It just had to be on TTAC.

There’s a big difference between creating and re-creating. The proto-hot rodders of yore scoured the junk yards for new solutions, not to replicate. The competition was as much in creativity as it was pure speed. Much of that has given way to endless replication, whether it’s a perfect restoration or a 1000 hp resto-mod. But creative juices are irrepressible, and they were certainly at work here. Want a daily driver Edsel, but not its 1950′s fuel-gulping ways? The solution was just a $200 junkyard engine away. But it had to be imagined first. Now that’s creativity, and a harbinger of the future. Which is exactly what the old car hobby needs: a new model, like this “Eco-Boost” Edsel.

 

If there was room for a third CC logomobile at the top of our homepage, this would be it. But not just because it’s an Edsel, although daily drivers of that brand are hardly common even here in Havana, Oregon. It’s because this car actually manages to bridge the two extremes the two cars at the top of our page embody: The 1950 hot-rod Caddy represents the glorious past, but it’s hardly the thing for a run to The Laughing Planet cafe, where I found the Edsel. The 1980 Datsun 210 is a highly-practical daily driver, but a mundane living cockroach.

 

This Edsel is some of both, in a brilliant and refreshingly unlikely combination. In a reversal of the traditional engine swapping protocol, its heavy inefficient V8 was tossed overboard like the proverbial anchor it is, and a 1988 Ford 2.3 liter turbo four has taken up residence behind the distinctive anatomically almost-correct grille. The result is the best of both worlds: a highly unique but practical daily driver. What more could a lover of old cars ask for?

 

For the record, this is not the sort of mega-bucks green-washing display that appear at SEMA; this Edsel’s owner, Randall, built it on a very tight budget, and has done all the work himself. The car was found in Portland in reasonable shape, and the body got treated to a low-bucks paint job. After driving eighties FWD turbo-four Chrysler products, he wanted something more distinctive, and its hard to beat an Edsel for that. He was also hooked on a turbo-four’s unique potential for economy and performance, so the two had their unlikely encounter here.

 

We’re not going to recite the whole Edsel bucket-of-tears story verse-by-verse here; most of you know it well enough. Ford’s ambitious attempt to create five full divisions to go mano-a-mano against GM fell apart in 1958 when the gaudy Edsel arrived in the midst of a nasty recession. 1958 Edsels came in two distinct sizes; the smaller Pacer shared a Ford body shell, and the larger Corsair a Mercury shell.

 

For 1959, Edsels were decidedly toned down, and all of them shared a slightly lengthened Ford body shell. One could even get a Pacer with the 232 cubic inch six, as a delete option. But the standard engine was the old Y-block 292 cubic incher, a heavy and notoriously inefficient lumpen-element. Together with the cast-iron housing Fordomatic, there was probably close to a half ton of iron sitting over the front wheels.

 

And a notoriously inefficient half ton. A vintage Popular Mechanics review of a ’59 Edsel yielded 12.1 mpg (20 L/100km) on the highway and 8.5 mpg (28 L/100km) in city driving. Randall says the Eco-boost Edsel can get 24 mpg (9.8 L) in gentle driving, and 20 mpg (12 L) comes quite readily. That’s a solid 100% improvement. Or more accurately, a 50% reduction in fuel used.

Speaking of weight, this Pacer sedan was listed as weighing some 3800 lbs, which probably translates to about 4000 real-world pounds. I don’t have ready access to what a 2.3 turbo four and T-5 manual weighs, but I’m guessing about half, if not less. That made the Edsel’s sit pointed skyward. Randall’s solution:

The front was still sitting up too high so I used an oxy acetylene torch to selectively add many thousands of calories into the bottom three coils on each side. I carefully wrapped the rest of the springs with water soaked rags to help isolate heat transfer. The car is now perfectly level.

That, and lots of other details comes from one of his blog posts at eco-modder, where he describes the journey of his Edsel’s inner transformation. A reader had sent me the link some time ago, and I tried vainly to contact him, but I knew it was just a matter of time before I ran into it.

 

As soon as he started it, the sound was very familiar indeed: I bought a Thunderbird Turbo-Coupe in 1983, the first year for this engine. And its strengths and vices were well known to me. I could easily hit 30 mpg in the aerodynamic T-Bird. So the Edsel’s 24 mpg seems perfectly credible.

The Edsel probably weighs about 3300-3500 lbs now, a bit more than the T-Bird, but not much. But then maximum performance was not the goal here, although the Edsel is undoubtedly brisker than in its V8 incarnation. The 292 was rated at 200 gross hp, which equates to some 165 net hp. The 1988 turbo four was rated at 190 (net) hp, although it’s not quite making all of that here.

 

Randall purchased the engine and transmission for $200, but not all the electronics came with it. So it’s currently being controlled by a 1984 computer, and the intercooler is still missing (for now). It probably makes closer to the 145-155 hp of the earlier versions. A mega-squirt set-up is high on the wish list, but it runs quite fine in the meantime.

 

The Edsel’s 3.11 rear axle gearing were an obstacle, since the little four doesn’t have the low end grunt of the big V8, at least until the boost comes up. A rear end swap would have been pricey, and a new set of tires to replace the old tall 800×14″ bias ply donuts were necessary anyway, so the solution was to, once again, go against the grain. A set of low-rolling resistance 195/70 14 inchers, painted white, increased the effective ratio by 7.3%. Not quite perfect, but fifth gear is now very usable by 55 mph, and starting out on a hill no longer raises beads of sweat.

 

Curbside Classics is all about honoring cars still at work on the streets. And every time gas shoots up, I start worrying about finding that Mark III or some other gas hog I’ve yet to encounter. Its given impetus, along with a bit of anxiety to my documentation of the survivors. But finding this Edsel was like a giant boost to my all-too often lagging optimism: this is the way forward.

 

After decades of stuffing ever bigger and more powerful monster V8s into old cars, that past time has reached its obvious limits. 600 cubic inches and a 1000 hp? Sure, why not? Everybody can have their idea of fun. But if the old car hobby is going to be more accessible and affordable, not to mention drivable, than a new paradigm is needed.

The earliest hot-rodders were truly creative in their search for speed and power: GMC truck engine sixes with five carburetors. Or Buick nailhead V8s with their porting completely reversed. Writing a check for a 600 hp crate engine ain’t exactly the definition of creativity or originality.

 

My hat’s off to Randall and his “Eco-Boost” Edsel. It’s as good of a role model for the next generation of old-car car hobbyists as it gets. And he’s infected with me with thoughts of slipping a turbo four to slip into my ’66 F-100, and beating Ford with an Eco-Boost four cylinder full-sized truck.

Despite my fertile mental ramblings, in 1983 I certainly didn’t ever imagine that my T-Bird’s engine would someday be powering an Edsel, or mentally powering a pickup. Now it seems so obvious. That’s how paradigm shifts work; they sneak up, and suddenly they’re the next big thing. Now just watch Ford add a RWD Eco-Boost turbo four to its line of crate engines.

This piece originally appeared at www.curbsideclassic.com

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Down On The Mile High Street: 1971 Chrysler Newport Custom http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/03/down-on-the-mile-high-street-1970-chrysler-newport-custom/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/03/down-on-the-mile-high-street-1970-chrysler-newport-custom/#comments Wed, 09 Mar 2011 14:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=386643
Plenty of interesting street-marked machinery in my Denver neighborhood; on the same block as the Subaru GL hatchback coupe is this huge survivor of three major fuel-price upswings. It didn’t get crushed after 1973 or 1979, and so we can assume— or at least hope— that it won’t get crushed now.

Four-door hardtops are inherently cool, even when they sport a green vinyl top… or maybe that’s especially when they sport a green vinyl top.

The ’71 Newport was a pretty good deal at the time (some would say it kicked off the cheapening of the Chrysler brand that reached its nadir with the Sebring), with the four-door hardtop sedan priced at $4,496 (about $25,500 in 2011 bucks). As Aaron Severson points out in his excellent history of the Plymouth Fury, the more upscale Furies came with sticker prices within a few hundred bucks of their Chrysler-badged C-body siblings, so why buy the Fury?

The base engine in the ’71 Newport was the reliable, though thirsty, 383 V8; for $198, Newport buyers could get the monstrous 375-horse 440 engine. Sure, you’d get 8 MPG instead of 11 MPG, but it would be so worth it!

I’ve always liked the early-70s big Chryslers, and I’m glad to have found a Newport in Denver after shooting several in my former place of residence. There’s this ’71 Newport sedan, for example.

But I much prefer the Newport coupes, even though a 4,000-pound two-door is a pretty silly idea. Here’s a ’71 Newport Royal down on the Alameda street.

And, of course, my favorite: This mean-looking (and mean-sounding) ’70 Newport coupe. I tried to contact the owner of this car, with the idea that I’d buy it and install a 4-speed and 6-71 blower, but (probably fortunately) he or she never responded to the notes I left under the wiper.

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Down On The Mile High Street: 1951 Chevrolet Pickup http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/02/down-on-the-mile-high-street-1951-chevrolet-pickup/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/02/down-on-the-mile-high-street-1951-chevrolet-pickup/#comments Thu, 17 Feb 2011 14:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=384080
This truck has been parked a block from my house since I moved to Denver in June, but early-1950s GMC and Chevy trucks are sort of like fire hydrants or street signs to me— they’ve been around so long that they just seem like standard street accessories, and I tend to overlook them. Finally, I went over and got some shots of this great-looking survivor.

How many 60-year-old vehicles do you know that still do work? Aircraft, sure, but light trucks? I’m putting this one down as a 1951 model, based on the lever-type door handles and lack of pop-out driver’s vent (yes, I’ve photographed a few of these things over the years), but junkyard parts swaps tend to blur model-year lines on workhorses like this; it might be a ’53 with ’50 doors, or it could be a ’49 with a ’52 cab… oh, hell, it could be a GMC with Chevrolet grille and emblems, and God only knows what weird engine is under the hood. I’ll leave that debate to the purists.

The half-ton ’51 Chevy pickup scaled in at a mere 3,120 pounds. The current Chevy Colorado weighs 3,735 pounds, so Model Bloat hasn’t been too bad over the last 60 years (though you could make the case that the Silverado is more the descendant of the ’51, in which case its 4,733-pound curb weight does trigger the Model Bloat alarm).

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Down On The Mile High Street: 1966 Dodge A100 Sportsman http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/02/down-on-the-mile-high-street-1966-dodge-a100/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/02/down-on-the-mile-high-street-1966-dodge-a100/#comments Sat, 05 Feb 2011 01:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=382939
It just occurred to me that my own A100 Hell Project hasn’t been featured on Whatever I’m Calling The Series Of Photographs Of Old Street-Parked Vehicles These Days. It’s a total nightmare to drive in the snow (particularly for a snow-country n00b like me), but it looks pretty good with the white stuff.

I think a limited-slip differential and some snow tires would make this thing much a much more civilized winter driver, but Denver snow usually doesn’t stay around for long and I’m not all that motivated to drive my van on the ice (though a limited-slip would be fun for 318-powered smokey burnouts). Did I mention that I still haven’t gotten around to fixing the heater?

Right now I’m building up parts for a suspension rebuild and shopping around for an upholstery shop that will do the seats in the proper metalflake-red Naugahyde with gold piping. I’m also hoping to find some seriously sci-fi-looking 1970s speakers for the 8-track sound system; those Mandrill and Montrose tapes need to be heard!. When the warm weather arrives, this van needs to be ready!

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Down On The Mile High Street: Subaru GL Hatchback Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/02/down-on-the-mile-high-street-subaru-gl-hatchback-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/02/down-on-the-mile-high-street-subaru-gl-hatchback-coupe/#comments Thu, 03 Feb 2011 22:30:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=382815
Denver being the Land of Subarus, I see plenty of 20-year-old GLs, Loyales, and whatever else the marketing wizards at Fuji Heavy Industries decided to call the Leone over here. What I don’t see often is examples of the hatchback coupe version of the Leone, so I did a double-take when this car caught my eye today.

Denver’s getting some snow now, which means I was able to photograph this car in its natural setting.

I don’t have the obsessive Subie knowledge necessary to pin down the exact year of this sporty four-wheel-drive coupe, but I believe Subaru went to the Loyale name by 1990 and the Libby Light indicates that this car— or, at any rate, the silver car that donated the hatch— is an ’86 or newer model. Let’s say it’s a 1988 until one of you can make a better guess!
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Curbside Classic: 1975 Chevrolet Monte Carlo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/01/curbside-classic-1975-chevrolet-monte-carlo/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/01/curbside-classic-1975-chevrolet-monte-carlo/#comments Wed, 19 Jan 2011 14:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=381017
You’d think that all the Malaise Era Montes would have been crushed 15 years ago, but you still see the occasional survivor chugging around these days. I spotted this battered-but-solid example in a Denver park a few months back.

You could get a 235-horse 454 V8 for the Monte Carlo in ’75, but most of them came with a 145-horsepower 350. This in a car that weighed 3,950 pounds. Think about that next time you complain that your rented Cobalt (205 horsepower, 2,783 pounds) lacks power.
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Snorkel-ized, RHD Diesel Land Cruiser Laughs At Denver Winter http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/01/snorkel-ized-rhd-diesel-land-cruiser-laughs-at-denver-winter/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/01/snorkel-ized-rhd-diesel-land-cruiser-laughs-at-denver-winter/#comments Thu, 13 Jan 2011 19:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=380374
In my first Denver winter after a driving lifetime in coastal California, I’m now experiencing my first real taste of driving in snow. My ’92 Civic is doing pretty well (i.e., I haven’t crashed or become stuck yet), but I’m starting to eyeball Craigslist listings for IHC Scouts and FJ40 Land Cruisers. After spotting this Toyota in my neighborhood, I may have to forget about the Scouts.

I know better than to attempt to specify an exact model year on one of these things, especially when it’s an visitor from some far-off land where drivers sit on the right and engines drink oil. Let’s say early 1980s and leave it at that.

Australia? Japan? The UK? Land Cruiser experts, what do you say?

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Shorty Shoebox-amino Astounds, Confounds http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/01/shorty-shoebox-amino-astounds-confounds/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/01/shorty-shoebox-amino-astounds-confounds/#comments Mon, 10 Jan 2011 19:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=380039
Not many of us wake up in the morning and say to ourselves, “I think I’m going to shorten and narrow a ’57 Chevy wagon, give it a truck bed, and install a 427 with a 5-speed!”

Check out the powered bed-cover! The owner of this incredible machine, however, did say that to himself, and I spotted the result parked in front of a Denver wrecking yard. He didn’t have a lot to say about his creation, no doubt because he’s burned out from all the constant questions lobbed at him from dudes with eyeballs bugged out of their heads in amazed Rat Fink fashion, but I was able to get the summary of what he’d done.

The best part? This beast gets driven on the street for everyday errands such as junkyard shopping expeditions. If only someone would do this for a Studebaker Scotsman wagon…

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1975 BMW 2002tii http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/1975-bmw-2002tii/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/1975-bmw-2002tii/#comments Sat, 25 Dec 2010 19:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=378583
Yes, owners of classic cars still drive them on the street during the winter in Denver (though we haven’t seen any real snow yet); I spotted this rare Bavarian at the park yesterday.

It’s nowhere near show quality, but it’s a solid, running example of a car you almost never see outside of shows and vintage races. I’m guessing that it gets driven regularly, so I’ll take it over any trailer queen.

I’m guessing on the exact model year here; the 5 MPH crash bumpers indicate that we’re looking at a 1973-75 model, but you’d to be a far scarier more devoted BMW zealot aficionado than I’ll ever be to nail down the precise year from these photos (yes, I know, I should have shot the dash).

Even though this car came right out of the Malaise Era, its 1990cc engine was rated at a respectable-for-its-time 125 horsepower. Compare that to the ’75 Corvette’s base engine, which displaced nearly three times as much and made 165 horsepower (a 205-horse 350 was optional).

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Curbside Classics Central: Portal To All Of Them Here http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/10/curbside-classics-central-portal-to-all-of-them-here/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/10/curbside-classics-central-portal-to-all-of-them-here/#comments Fri, 15 Oct 2010 00:43:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=348053

 

Alfa Romeo                                                                                                          

1975 Alfetta GT/GTV Coupe

1991 Alfa Romeo 164

Allard

1954 Allard K2 (outtake)

American Motors (incl. Nash; but not Jeep)                       

1957 Metropolitan

*1961 Rambler Classic Cross Country

1964 Rambler Classic 770 Coupe

1968 Rambler American

1971 AMC Gremlin (1971 Small Car Comparison)

1975 AMC Pacer X

British Motors/BLM/Austin/Morris/Triumph/Rover/Sterling/Etc.

1951 Austin A40 Devon

1967 MGB-GT

1971 Mini

1987 Sterling 825 SL (Rover 825i)

1973 Triumph TR-6

BMW                                                                   

1964 BMW 1800

1972 BMW 2002Tii – The Second Most Influential Modern Car In America

1985 BMW 635CSi

Buick

1956 Buick Century Riviera Hardtop

1964 Buick Riviera

1967 Buick Electra 225: The Jayne Mansfield Of Convertibles

1968 Buick Riviera

1972 Buick “Boattail” Riviera

1986 Buick Riviera: GM’s Deadly Sin #1

1990 Buick Roadmaster Woody Wagon (Outtake)

Cadillac

1950 Cadillac Vintage Hot Rod Series 61 Coupe (the official CC Logo-mobile)

1954 Cadillac Series 62 Sedan: GM’s Greatest Hit #2

1962 Cadillac Series 62 Six-Window Sedan

1966 Cadillac Coupe DeVille (Outtake)

1970 Cadillac Hearse

1971 Cadillac Coupe DeVille (the first CC)

1977 Seville – GM’s Deadly Sin #11

1978 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Classic Coupe

Cimarron: GM’s Deadly Sin #10

Checker

1967 Checker Marathon (also Checker Motors History)

Chevrolet                                                              

1959 Chevrolet Biscayne

1960 Chevrolet Impala

1962 Corvette – The Marilyn Monroe Of Cars [NSFW]

1965 Corvair Monza: The Best European Car Ever Made In America

1967 Chevrolet El Camino (Outtake)

1968 Camaro

1968 Chevrolet Impala Coupe (with Olds 455 engine)

1970 Camaro RS: GM’s Greatest Hits #1

1970 Chevrolet Impala: The Best Big Car Of Its Time

1971 Chevrolet Vega: GM’s Deadly Sin #2 (1971 Small Car Virtual Comparison)

1976 Chevrolet Malibu Classic: GM’s Deadly Sin #7

1976 Chevrolet Nova Coupe

1979 Caprice Classic: GM’s Greatest Hit #3

1979 Chevrolet Malibu Coupe

1980 Citation – GM’s Deadliest Sin Ever

1987 Turbo Sprint (Suzuki Cultus)

1989 Camaro RS: GM’s Deadly Sin #6

1990 Corvette: GM’s Deadly Sin #9

1990 Chevrolet Beretta GTZ (Outtake)

2000 & 1990 Chevrolet Cavalier Coupes (Outtake)

Chevrolet Trucks                                                       

1950 Chevrolet COE truck (Outtake)

1951 Chevrolet 3100 Pickup

1964 Chevrolet Suburban

1967 Chevrolet C20 Pickup

1970 Chevrolet Suburban C10

1980 Chevy Vanup (Outtake)

1977 Chevy LUV Long Bed Pickup (Outtake)

1983 Chevy S-10 Blazer: GM’s Deadly Sin #5

Chrysler/Imperial

1960 Imperial Crown Southampton: The Frankenstein Of Cars

1965 Chrysler New Yorker

1965 Chrysler Newport Coupe

1974 Imperial LeBaron Coupe

1985 Chrysler New Yorker

1987 Fifth Avenue Edition – Chrysler’s Deadly Sin #2

Cisitalia

1946 Cisistalia 202GT (MoMA)

Citroen

Citroen Ami 8

Citroen 2CV Hoffman Cabriolet

Citroen H Van

Daihatsu

1989 Daihatsu Charade

Datsun/Nissan

The First Mini-Pickups: Datsun’s 1964, 1967 and 1969 Pickups

1970 Datsun 510 (Bluebird/1600)

The Revolutionary 1971 Datsun 240Z

1976 Datsun 710 Wagon (Outtake)

1977 Datsun 810

1977 Datsun F-10: The Ugliest Car Ever?

1978 Datsun 310GX (Outtake)

1980 Datsun 210 Wagon (Sunny)

1984 Nissan 300 ZX Turbo

Nissan Pulsars (gen1 & gen2)

1986 Nissan Stanza Wagon (Prairie)

1989 Nissan Pao

1989 Nissan 240SX (S13) and Silvia/SX History

1990 Infiniti M30 Coupe (Outtake)

Infiniti Q45 gen1 & gen2 (Outtake)

Dodge  

1948 Dodge (Outtake)

1974 Dodge D-100 “Gypsy Wagon” Camper

Chrysler’s Deadly Sin #1: 1976 Plymouth Volare And Dodge Aspen

1976 Dodge Royal Monaco Coupe

1978 Dodge Omni (and Plymouth Horizon): Detroit Finally Builds A Proper Small Car

1981 Dodge Challenger

1982 Dodge Rampage mini-pickup

1983 Dodge Aries (The Original K-Car)

1984 Dodge Caravan

1985 Dodge Ram Van (Caravan C/V) (Outtake)

1986 Dodge Daytona

1986 Dodge 600ES Convertible

Fiat 

1972 Fiat 850

Ford

1950 Hot Rod Ford: A True Love Story

1956 Ford (UK) Consul II

1958 Ford Thunderbird

1959 Ford Courier Wagon

1961 Thunderbird Convertible – The American Dream Car

1962 Ford Fairlane

1964 Ford “Police Car”

1964 Ford Galaxie 500 Coupe (Outtake)

1965 Mustang six

1966 Galaxie 500 7-Litre

1971 Ford Galaxie 500

1971 Ford Pinto (1971 Small Car Virtual Comparison)

1973 Mustang Mach 1

1975 Mustang Cobra II-Ford’s Deadly Sin #1

1978 Ford Fiesta

1984 Ford Bronco II Eddie Bauer

1985 Ford EXP: Ford’s Ugly Little Sin

1986 Ford Tempo: A Deadly Sin? Mostly

1989 Ford Festiva – Shitbox Shootout Loser (Winner)

1995 Ford ZX2 With Lambo Doors (Outtake)

Ford Trucks

The Ultimate CC: 1956 Ford F-350 Still Hard At Work Six Days A Week

1960 Ford F-600 Truck Also Still Hard At Work

1963 Econoline Pickup

1965 Econoline SuperVan Camper

1984 Bronco II

Geo

1990 Geo Metro Convertible

GMC & GM Coach

1947 PD-3751 Greyhound Bus “Silversides” – The First Modern Diesel Bus

1956 GMC 300 Truck (Outtake)

1965 GMC Handi-Van

GMC TDH-4523 “New Look” Transit Bus

Grumman

1983 Grumman KubVan

Honda

1963 Honda T360/T500 trucks (history)

1970 Honda 600

1973 Honda Civic – The Revolutionary Small Car

1976 Honda Accord: The Most Influential Modern Car In America

1980-1983 Civics – When Honda’s Mojo Was Working

1981 Honda Prelude

1985 Honda Civic CR-X (Outtake)

Hyundai

1988 Hyundai Excel – The Damn Near Deadly Sin

International

1963 International Scout 80

1964 International Travelette Pickup

Isuzu   

1982 Isuzu I-Mark Diesel

1983 Isuzu Trooper II

Jaguar

1973 Jaguar XJ12

1975 Jaguar XJC V12 Coupe

Jeep

1945 Willys Jeep MB

Jeep Gladiator pickups

1987 Wagoneer (XJ) Outtake

Jensen

1973 Jensen-Healey

Kia  

gen1 Kia Sportage shorty (Outtake)

LaForza

1989 Laforza 5 Liter (Outtake)

Lincoln/Continental

An Illustrated History of Lincoln Up To 1961

1946 Lincoln Continental Coupe

1965 Lincoln Continental

1968 Lincoln Continental (Outtake)

1970 Lincoln Continental Coupe

1973 Continental Mark IV

1977 Lincoln Town Car

1977  Lincoln Versailles

1985 Lincoln Town Car

1986  Lincoln Continental

1989 Lincoln Mark VII

Lincoln Mark VIII

Lincoln Mark VIII (Outtake)

Mack  

Mack B77 (Outtake)

Mazda

1983 Mazda RX-7

2000 Mazda 626 (Outtakeke)

Mercedes         

1965 Mercedes 220S (W111)

1966 Mercedes 250S (W108)

1977 Mecedes 24oD (W123)

Mercedes 207D and other older Mercedes Vans/Small Buses

Mercury

1960 Comet

1968 Cougar – Mercury’s Greatest (only) Hit

1970 Marauder X-100

1970 Mercury Montego Coupe (Outtake)

1978 Mercury Grand Marquis Brougham

Steam Injected 1978 Mercury Bobcat

Ford’s Sin of Name Debasement: 1981 Mercury Cougar

Military Vehicles (no brand name)

M37 Military Truck (Outtake)

Mitsubishi 

1986 Mitsubishi Cordia

1987 Mitsubishi VanUp

1987 Mitsubishi Precis (Outtake)

1992 Mitsubishi Eclipse

Oldsmobile  

1951 Oldsmobile Super 88

1959 Oldsmobile Super 88

1963 Olds Dynamic 88 Convertible

1968 Oldsmobile 442

1985 Olds Toronado

Opel

1971 Opel Manta (Outtake)

1974 Opel Manta

Packard

1946 Packard Clipper Super

1951 Packard 200

Panhard

Panhard Dyna Junior X-87 Roadster

Plymouth

1936 Plymouth

1951 Plymouth Cranbrook

1958 Plymouth Savoy

1965 Plymouth Valiant Wagon: The Ultimate A-Body – Daily Long-Distance Driver

1966 Plymouth Barracuda

1970 Plymouth Duster 340

1972 Plymouth Fury Suburban

1971 Simca 1204 (no original pictures) (1971 Small Car Comparison)

1978 Plymouth Horizon: Detroit Finally Builds A Proper Small Car

1983 Plymouth Colt & 198o Champ

Pontiac

1963 Tempest LeMans: Pontiac Tries To Build A BMW Before BMW Built Theirs And Almost Succeeds

1963 Pontiac Catalina: The Sexiest Big Car Of Its Time

1969 Pontiac Grand Prix

1965 Pontiac Le Mans Coupe

1971 Pontiac Ventura II: GM’s Deadly Sin #3

1976 Pontiac Firebird (Outtake)

1979 Firebird Trans Am

1984 Pontiac Bonneville Brougham: GM’s Deadly Sin #8

Pontiac Transvertible and Trans Sport

1987 Sunbird GT: The Exciting Collectable Deadly Sin

1988 Pontiac Safari

1990 Le Mans (Daewoo) GM’s Deadly Sin #12

Porsche

1958 Porsche 356A

1978 Porsche 928 (Outtake)

Porsche 944 (Outtake)

Renault

Renault R4

Renault R-17 (Outtake)

Saab

1968 Saab 96

1969 Saab 99

1970 Saab 95 Wagon

Saturn

1991 Saturn SL2: GM’s Deadly Sin #4

Simca

1971 Simca 1204 (no original pictures) (1971 Small Car Comparison)

Studebaker

1961 Studebaker Lark VI

1962 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk

Subaru

1977 Subaru Four Wheel Drive Wagon: The First Of Its Kind

1992 Subaru SVX

Subaru Legacy Wagon (Outtake)

Sunbeam

1965 Sunbeam Tiger – The Other Cobra

Suzuki  

1979 Suzuki Jimny (LJ80/SJ20) Pickup

Suzuki Samurai (Outtake)

Suzuki X-90 (Outtake)

Toyota

1965 FJ40 Land Cruiser

1971 Toyota Corolla (1971 Small Car Comparison)

1974 Toyota Celica Coupe

1975 Toyota Hilux Pickup

1976 Toyota Corolla Liftback (editorial)

1980 Toyota Celica Supra Mk I

1983 Toyota Starlet: The Most Reliable Car Ever Built?

1984 Toyota Celica Supra Mk II

1984 Toyota Tercel Wagon

1985 Toyota Corolla EA86 GT-S

1986 Toyota Camry

1987 Toyota Supra Mk III

1990 Toyota Camry LE V6

2001 Toyota Prius

1993 Toyota T-100

gen1 Rav4 shorty (Outtake)

JDM Toyota Hi-Ace 4×4 Van

Vauxhall

1966 (Vauxhall) Envoy Epic (guest writer)

Volkswagen

1957 Volkswagen 1200

1960 VW Bus (Type 2) Westfalia

VW Beetle Shorty Pickup

1969 VW Type 3 1600 Fastback

1971 Volkswagen Super Beetle (Small Car Comparison)

1972 VW Super Beetle Cabriolet (Outtake)

1973 VW Type 181 “Thing”

1974 VW 412: Volkswagen’s Deadly Sin #1

1975 VW Rabbit/Golf Mk.I: The Most Influential Modern Global Car

1978 VW Dasher/Passat

Volvo

1965 Volvo 122S

1968 Volvo 142 S

RVs

Ultra Van: Cross An Airplane With A Corvair For The Ultimate RV

1985 Winnebago LeSharo Turbo Diesel

Concours

The Curbside Classic Treasure Hunt: Skinner Butte District

The Curbside Classic Graveyard: May They Rust In Peace

The Official Curbside Classic Sales Lot: All $895 Or Less

Holiday Market: Eighty Parking Lot Curbside Classics

Wal Mart Concours

Miscellaneous: 

Art Car #1

Human Powered RV (Outtake)

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Curbside Classic Outtake: EcoHUMMER http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/06/curbside-classic-outtake-ecohummer/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/06/curbside-classic-outtake-ecohummer/#comments Mon, 28 Jun 2010 15:20:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=359652

Nothing is worse than turning into something you’re not. I am not my father, and yet here I am besmirching his Curbside Classic series with this mystifying find. This Mk1 Scion xB is emphatically not a HUMMER, and yet… well, just look at it.

Despite the fact that there’s clearly no curb in sight in these pictures, there’s at least one more reason they belong in the category: the EcoHUMMER might never have been immortalized had I not visited the spiritual home of the Curbside Classic, Eugene, Oregon, over the weekend. This Hummerified xB was parked in the field that serves as the parking lot for the Oregon Country Fair, an annual hippie festival that typically trebles the number of mysterious, quirky and incomprehensible cars in and around Eugene for several weeks each summer.

Given this milieu, the EcoHUMMER is almost certainly  intended as a parody of the HUMMER aesthetic, albeit at a significant penalty to the xB’s impressive around-town efficiency. Which seems a little self-defeating, and based on the reaction of several nappy-headed gents lounging nearby, the irony (or whatever they call it these days) of the retrofit was lost on the fair’s more thoroughly laid-back elements. “Like, why would someone do that?” one glassy-eyed fellow asked his friend. “Like, why would he want to make his car look like that?”

Still, it’s a fitting tribute to HUMMER’s polarizing influence, that someone was inspired to retrofit a Japanese city car to resemble one. It’s even more fitting that reactions to a replica HUMMER are just as confused, emotional and intense as they are to the real thing. It turns out that you could put HUMMER badges and hood vents on a biodiesel W123 (still the unofficial car of the Country Fair after all these years) and you’d still get dirty looks. And come to think of it, you’d probably have more off-road ability than this Toyota-cum-HUMMER. On the other hand, at least with the EcoHUMMER, you’d stand out from the acres of Prius, Subaru, W123, Volvo 240, and assorted vintage Volkswagen drivers who prove that, regardless of the ethos, every subculture enforces conformity through automotive dress code.

Which, in turn, always produces cars like the EcoHUMMER. Rebellion is rebellion is rebellion, and HUMMERs will always be built, bought and converted to get a rise out of civilians in parking lots as much as anything else. And damn does it work. Even when the HUMMER isn’t even a HUMMER.

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Paul Niedermeyer Says Farewell; Moves On To The Next Curbside Classic http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/paul-niedermeyer-says-farewell-moves-on-to-the-next-curbside-classic/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/paul-niedermeyer-says-farewell-moves-on-to-the-next-curbside-classic/#comments Fri, 14 May 2010 15:02:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=356473

Transitions are almost never easy, and leaving TTAC and Curbside Classics is downright painful. But for a number of reasons, that’s what needs to happen right now. Two of them are in the picture above.

That’s my younger son Will, who recently turned eighteen, with his just acquired ’02 Ranger. He and I are going to fix up this wreck of a 110 year-old empty former farm house that we’ve owned for years, just down the street from our place . It needs to be either saved now or be lost to the elements forever. And it’s no small undertaking. To start with, we’re going to move it (not with the Fords) forty feet, and then turn it ninety degrees, because right now it’s sitting across the line of two lots. Talk about the ultimate Curbside Classic.

I spent several years doing this kind of thing, saving houses from the wrecking ball, having them moved, and turning them into a whole little fleet of rentals. I like to photograph and write about old cars, but collecting old houses is a properly-paying proposition, unlike collecting old cars (or writing about them). Four years ago, I was ready to give it a break, and I started writing for TTAC. And for those that were around then, they may remember that I stopped for the first two summers, to keep up on maintenance and enjoy the outdoors.

Than a little over a year ago, I started Curbside Classics on a whim. It started out as a once-a-week habit, escalated to twice a week, and I never stopped last summer, despite the fact that there was no pay at all back then, and I was neglecting things at home. It had become an addiction, to find and record the old cars still on the streets of Eugene. And since my rate of finding them was much greater than the rate of writing them up and posting them, the addiction eventually became a six-times a week habit. Time to go cold turkey.

After older son Edward took over at TTAC last fall, I offered to help in any way I could, and stepped it up with a new title and writing all kinds of other articles; everything from taking apart gas pedals to histories that interested me and hopefully you. It was my dream job, and I’ve had as much or more enthusiasm about it than anything I’ve ever done; way too many late nights and weekends.

TTAC is now on solid footing, and I need to switch gears, completely. I can’t split my energy two ways; I need to focus on one main project at a time. And this is going to be a big one (close to 3000 sq.ft. with a new daylight basement under it). We’re planning to make it a model of environmentally-responsible building techniques: recycling the basic structure, turning it east-west for maximum passive solar gain, putting in new south-facing dormers and windows upstairs, making it energy efficient by sheathing it completely in foil-faced foam insulation, solar panels, a new metal roof, rain water catchment, etc..

And when it’s been moved on to the back lot, there will be room for another house on the front lot. And Will has an option to buy all of it from me. I’ve shown him how the numbers pan out so he can live in the daylight basement apartment for free and pay the mortgage out of the rent he collects from the five/six-bedroom house above him. He was very ambivalent about starting college anyway: this will be the hands-on home-schooling alternative version.  And if it works out like planned, I won’t have to ever help him find (or pay) for an apartment or house to rent (Landlords hate to pay other landlords rent).

The hard part is leaving my unwritten Curbside Classics as well as you, dear readers. I have over a thousand cars shot. And your support, encouragement and comments have been the single biggest factor in feeding my CC addiction. I can’t thank you all enough!

It’s hard for me to imagine leaving them unfinished for too long. If the past is a reliable predictor of the future, I will be back. But it’s too early to say if and when with certainty. Right now, summer’s sunshine is calling me outside. Let’s see what happens when it gets cold and dreary. In the meantime, you’ll have to be content with summer reruns from Curbside Classics Central and Automotive Histories Central.  I tried to leave them well stocked. Farewell, until we meet again!

contact PN: curbsideclassics@gmail.com

]]> http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/paul-niedermeyer-says-farewell-moves-on-to-the-next-curbside-classic/feed/ 99 Curbside Classic Clue http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/11/curbside-classic-clue-26/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/11/curbside-classic-clue-26/#comments Mon, 23 Nov 2009 21:55:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=336746 CC 44 072 clue

Last week’s fuel filler door clue for the Blazer was a bust. Everyone piled in on it, right from the start. But I’m going to give the win to CyCarConsulting, because Hank limited the time frame too much by saying it was an early-mid nineties Blazer. OK, this week, we need some different parts to look at, like under the hood. Calling all driveway mechanics; you’ve got the advantage here. Now where’s that can of starting fluid?

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Curbside Classics: 1970 Camaro RS http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/08/curbside-classics-1970-camaro-rs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/08/curbside-classics-1970-camaro-rs/#comments Tue, 11 Aug 2009 15:43:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=325800

After being trapped six weeks in a 1971 time warp, I had the controls of the Curbside Classics time machine all set for the mid-eighties. But once again, fate interceded. Running some errands, I had my first encounter with no less than two 2010 Camaros. Then, on the way home, something called out to me as I tooled down Franklin Boulevard. I found it parked behind the old boarded-up Chevy dealer, and it had an important message for you and me: "beauty is not in the eye of the beholder; it's in the object itself."

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After being trapped six weeks in a 1971 time warp, I had the controls of the Curbside Classics time machine all set for the mid-eighties. But once again, fate interceded. Running some errands, I had my first encounter with no less than two 2010 Camaros. Then, on the way home, something called out to me as I tooled down Franklin Boulevard. I found it parked behind the old boarded-up Chevy dealer, and it had an important message for you and me: “beauty is not in the eye of the beholder; it’s in the object itself.”

I needed to hear that, after trying to make aesthetic sense of the new Camaro. Which was going nowhere, until it hit me: the 2010 Camaro is the Pamela Anderson of automobiles: exaggerated proportions, desperately trying to evoke a (long distant) youthful past, cartoonish, crude, clumsy, and just plain stupid—Borat would love it (“you like?!”), although he would have a hell of a time trying to stuff over-stuffed Pamela into its tiny trunk.

The fact that Chevy picked the ’69 Camaro for its “inspiration” tells it all, because the gen-1 Camaro was a rushed, half-baked stylistic lightweight. Yes, it was cheerful and youthfully innocent, kind of like the high-school Pamela. But it was hopelessly outclassed by the timelessly elegant, handsome, mature and universally praised 1970 version. Perhaps we should thank GM for leaving well enough alone, although I have a sinking feeling that if the Camaro revival doesn’t peter out quickly, its successor may well be a horrible pastiche of this 1970 Rally Sport.

I was never quite as stunned by a new car from Detroit as when I first saw the 1970 Camaro. One of the reasons was that Chevrolet managed to keep it a perfect secret right to the end: no spy shots in Popular Science or elsewhere. One day, I opened a magazine, and kazow!, that incredible front end was staring at me from a full-page ad. And such a complete break with its predecessor. Who saw that coming? It was quite the change from the three and a half years-long strip-tease we’ve just endured. Enough, Pamela, enough!

Obviously, Bill Mitchell had his Pontiac and Chevy design studios perusing old Pininfarina-designed Ferraris while they were fleshing out the 1970 F-body. If you’re going to crib, might as well go to the master. And when the master returns a compliment, bask in it. But inspiration is one thing; to put it all together in a balanced, fresh, yet timeless way requires skill, time, encouragement and most of all, taste. Either you have it, or you don’t. Bill did, often enough.

The Camaro’s perpetual nemesis sure didn’t. Ford must been mighty nervous when the ’70 Camaro was released in February of that year. The Camaro’s ads even made references to it here. Because Ford’s ’71 Mustang, due six months later, was an ugly POS: overwrought, heavy, terrible visibility, cartoonish; umm . . . sounds familiar. And it was a sales bomb, as in the dirty kind. After a few more stumbles, Ford eventually got the formula down, and now sticks to it. Unlike Chevy, which couldn’t seem to ever find its way out of the trailer park since the 1970-1981 edition.

GM knew its ’67-’69 F-bodies were immature, which explains the lack of any stylistic carry-over. The 1964 Mustang caught GM totally asleep at the wheel, as usual. And its phenomenal instantaneous success meant rush, rush, rush. The two years it took to cram the ’67 Camaro and Firebird out the door showed.

So Bill Mitchell had Chevy and Pontiac studios working on a gen-2 F-body worthy of the Mark of Excellence right from the beginning. And, not surprisingly, it was the Pontiac studio that came up with the basic shape. But both versions received enough differentiation to make them each worthy of praise, interest and attention despite sharing the same basic body—kind of like Isabeli Fontana and Izabel Goulart. Take your pick; you can’t go wrong. Personally, I favor Isabeli and the Camaro.

This particular Rally Sport (which is actually quite likely a ’71 or ’72) is not exactly how I like my gen-2 Camaro dressed and made up: no two-tone paint job, please, and either Chevy Rally wheels, Z-28 stock wheels, or minilite type vintage mags. But then this is not a “garage queen”; it’s a regular driver, has numerous dings, and an interesting crude hood cut-out for the after-market air cleaner. I’ll gladly take this for a car parked on the street.

I could go on way too long talking about the elegant lines and proportions of this car. But the front end is brilliant; the contours of the hood and fenders as they drop to that protruding nose. And that unusual windshield compound curve with a hint of a dog leg. Nobody was doing that since 1961. But my favorite part is that delicious front fender line as it tightly hugs the wheel and delicately nips and tucks into the head light. Unfortunately, that detail was ruined with the 5-mph bumpered 1974s.

The 1970 Camaro was anything but a poseur. It (not the Vega) set a new high for American passenger-car handling. The whole platform, and especially the suspension and steering were extensively re-engineered. The result was superb for its time. And not just in the race-track oriented way like the max-performance versions of Detroit’s pony cars, the previous Z-28 and Boss 302 Mustang. Ultra-stiff springs and a fast manual steering ratio are great on a smooth track, but in real world driving, especially on uneven surfaces, most muscle cars of the era were profoundly compromised.

Even the base version of the Camaro offered a level of balance, steering precision and feel, stout brakes, stiff body structure, and reasonable chassis compliance that finally brought US cars into world-class levels (of course, the ‘vette had been there since ’63). It was a huge step from the Falcon/Chevy II/Valiant based gen-1 pony cars. So good, that even at the end of its unusually long twelve year production run, the gen-2 Camaro was still being praised for its all-round handling competence, if not the performance from its de-smogged engines.

Chevrolet positioned the new Camaro much more as an all-round sports car/GT tourer than the ’67-’69 muscle/pony cars. You could still get a big-block 396 (actually a 402) SS Camaro, but it was no longer at the top of the horsepower pecking order. That would be the brilliant LT-1 powered Z-28. Whereas the previous Z-28 was a limited production Trans-Am race series homologation special, with a very peaky 302 engine, the new Z-28 essentially took the role of the old SS model. Even the THM autobox was finally welcome (if not preferred) in the Z.

The 1970 LT-1 350 cubic inch (5.7 liter) engine was the crowning glory of the Chevy small block V8, its ultimate evolution until the all-new LS-1 replaced it some twenty years later. All the goodies developed in the sixties for the Corvette were present and accounted for: four-bolt block, big-valve heads, solid-lifter cam, aluminum intake, 780cfm Holley, and that lumpy idle. It was rated at 360 hp (gross), but essentially the same parts in the smaller 327 used to be rated at 365 hp. It probably churned out at least 310 of today’s net horsepower. At 3150 lb., the Z-28 had a 10 lb/net hp ratio, resulting in a 0-60 of 5.8 seconds, and a ¼ mile of 14.2 @100 mph (C/D stats). Superb, for a small-block, non-understeering, great-handling car of the times (big-blocks need not apply).

And what has forty years of progress delivered? The porky 2010 Camaro has a slightly better 9.15 lb/hp ratio, and delivers the 0-60 in 5 seconds flat, and the ¼ mile in 13.5 @ 103 mph (Edmund’s stats). Stickier tires probably account for most of that. And GM’s sticky fingers account for the price difference. The 1970 Z-28 cost $3,412 ($18.7K adjusted) complete with the go-fast goodies. A new SS starts at $31K. In 1970, that was money well invested: Z-28s go for $40K-$80K today.

The timing of the gen-2 Camaro’s arrival was less than auspicious. The whole performance era was peaking and about to crash under the weight of insurance, smog-controls, and a change in attitudes, especially once the energy crisis hit. But it was exactly because of the gen-2 Camaro’s balance of qualities that allowed it survive, and actually prosper the whole decade, right through 1981. Well, it did almost die after the 1973 model year because the new 5-mph bumper and other safety regulations seemed like a huge obstacle especially in light of weak sales. But that’s the makings of another Curbside Classics.

For the brief golden period of 1970-1973, new Camaros graced us with their svelte elegance. And a few are still at it today, giving us a lasting lesson on how ugly and malformed way too many new cars are today. Raw attraction is all too often crude, hormonal, and indiscriminate; but true beauty is self-evident and timeless, like good art, a beautiful woman, or an inspired car.

As I got ready to leave, the Camaro had a parting thought for me: “Folks who can’t tell the difference between attraction and beauty should be held accountable for their bad taste.” Like getting stuffed into the trunk of a 2010 Camaro, perhaps, I suggested. “Yes,” it replied, “along with Pamela. That should teach them a lasting lesson.”


More New Curbside Classics Here

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