The Truth About Cars » hardtop http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 28 Jul 2015 22:00:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 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 » hardtop http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Small Screen, Big Car: The Hawaii Five-O Mercury Marquis and the Supernatural Impala http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/small-screen-big-car-hawaii-five-o-mercury-marquis-supernatural-impala/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/small-screen-big-car-hawaii-five-o-mercury-marquis-supernatural-impala/#comments Thu, 18 Jun 2015 17:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1083865 Smoke and mirrors – but sometimes also steel. In the odd world of movies and television, things are not always what they seem: the fake blower on the Mad Max Pursuit Special, the digital tire smoke from the Merc’ 6.9 in Ronin. It’s always a bit disappointing when you meet a hero car to learn […]

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Impala vs Marquis

Smoke and mirrors – but sometimes also steel. In the odd world of movies and television, things are not always what they seem: the fake blower on the Mad Max Pursuit Special, the digital tire smoke from the Merc’ 6.9 in Ronin.

It’s always a bit disappointing when you meet a hero car to learn that, behind the polish, it’s all hat and no cattle. But not with these two beasts. These are the real deal: guts, dents, motor, and chrome. One’s a modern hearthrob, the other’s a lantern-jawed archetype that even today outshines its modern co-stars.

One Ford product, one vehicle cranked out by the General. Black paint, V8 rumble, and more character than the small screen can contain. Here are their stories.
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Supernatural‘s been filming in my hometown for close-on ten years now. The show’s premise is pretty straightforward: the trials and tribulations of a pair of demon-fighting brothers as they wander around America in a 1967 Impala, putting evil back in the ground. Dukes of Hazzard meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer: justa good ol’ boys, never meaning no harm; beats all you ever saw, punched the Devil in the jaw, and gave Death a dead arm.

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Sometimes it’s serious, sometimes it’s goofy, sometimes it’s overdramatic, and sometimes the show’s genuinely funny. The fanbase is large and loyal, and there’s a lot of love for the Impala, which is sort of a third Winchester brother on the show. It’s a constant companion, rumbling into a new town with a trunk filled with salt, crucifixes, and wooden stakes. They call it Baby, as that’s so often what Dean Winchester – played by Jensen Ackles – fondly calls his lead sled.

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As is usual in filming, there are multiple copies of this thing, all suited up identically in shabby black. Of the seven, one’s a buck cut up into movable sections for filming (not used much any more with the compact nature of modern cameras), a couple are stunt cars with extra pedals to lock up the rear brakes, and a couple are stand-ins for positioning shots. And one main one.

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A 1967 Chevrolet Impala hardtop sedan is a pretty rare car in its own right; people preserved more coupes and convertibles than sedans, and over the years many of these things rusted away unloved. It landed the role essentially out of the necessity for a musclecar large enough to have a cameraman riding around in the back seat while filming. The LA-shot pilot used a couple of ex-cop machines and a star was born.

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Part of the Supernatural Impala’s charm is its slightly menacing air and garage-project look. It doesn’t wear huge Chip Foose style rims, nor is it factory-trim prim and proper. The doors creak when you open them. There’s a line-lock strapped to the gearshift stalk. And then there’s what’s under the skin.

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Six of the Impalas are just props. One of them is something else: a fully-built car that’s used for closeups and star work. The work is partially Ackles’ doing – rumor has it he’s hoping to keep the car after the show wraps, so he’s pushed for a few upgrades. More than a few actually.

Under that huge hood is a fully-built big-block Chevy V8, a 502 cubic-inch monster that idles like a bowling ball in an industrial dryer and barks like a Hellhound when you prod the throttle. The suspension is a complete Hotchkiss set up, and the car actually handles and brakes reasonably well. When the crew needed to set up a few establishing shots for a season’s traveling, they strapped cameras to the Impala and spent a week aimlessly roaming around the canyon roads and deserts of BC’s interior. “Most fun two weeks of my life,” says the car’s long-time caretaker.

The Impala is at least as potent in person as it is on screen, even if the demon-fighting apparatus in its trunk is just a prop. Supernatural? No – it’s the real deal.

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In far rougher shape, but no less impressive, is the 1974 Mercury Marquis from Hawaii Five-O. This was Detective Steve McGarrett’s (as played by Jack Lord) car in the original series for six seasons. It continues to feature in the modern remake, functioning as the link between the two shows.

Unlike the Impala, there was only ever one Marquis. While a ’67 coupe was used in the pilot episode, and a ’68 Park Lane sedan filled in for the first six seasons, the black ’74 that saw out Five-O‘s run didn’t have a stunt double to take the punches. Like the original Ectomobile, it was the only car used, and that meant week after week of damage and repair. Often-times the mechanic, Mike Sakamoto, would be welding it back together into the wee hours of the morning.

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The old girl’s in pretty sad condition. That salt-filled Hawaiian air is easy on the skin but rusty murder on old Detroit iron like this. Open the door and a small shower of iron oxide hisses down – it’s a miracle that a forty-year-old unrestored car survives like this.

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Yet survive it does. The owner, John Nordlum, puts the key in the ignition and cranks the engine. The starter whirrs creakily, there’s a weak tuff-tuff-tuff of an old engine coughing to life, and then she fires. The Ford 460ci V8 sets up a beat, and once again McGarrett’s car glides off the set, and out onto patrol on the streets of Honolulu.

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Nordlum was Jack Lord’s body double, and later Tom Selleck’s double on Magnum PI (which mostly used the same crew as Five-O). He was given the Marquis at the end of shooting the series, a gift from Jack Lord. Notoriously a forceful personality, Lord steamrollered any studio objections, and Nordlum got the keys.

The Marquis rumbles around the block without a catch in its step, though the body rolls like an ill-ballasted ship through the corners. There’s creaks and rattles aplenty, and even the shifter is liver-spotted with patina. But she still runs and drives, even after all these years. “We can’t get crew that’s lasted as long as that car,” Nordlum laughs, “It’s got a life of its own.”

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Perhaps either the show or some eager fan will foot the restoration bill for the Marquis. Perhaps the Impala will end up in Ackles’ personal garage, to be trotted out now and then for a blitz around the block.

That’s the hope anyway – sure, both have been immortalized through the lens of a camera already, but each is not just a ephemeral fantasy. There is solidity here, realness beyond the showbiz glitz. It’s something to be honored and preserved.

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Review: 2012 Mercedes SLK350 Convertible http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/review-2012-mercedes-slk350-convertible-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/review-2012-mercedes-slk350-convertible-2/#comments Thu, 19 Jan 2012 23:28:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=427200 Luxury roadsters have always been niche vehicles. With the economic implosion over the last decade, that niche has become even smaller. Last year the Mercedes SLK and BMW Z4 each sold less than 3,500 units on our shores, down from over 10,000 each back in 2006 and Canadian sales are roughly a tenth of that. […]

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Luxury roadsters have always been niche vehicles. With the economic implosion over the last decade, that niche has become even smaller. Last year the Mercedes SLK and BMW Z4 each sold less than 3,500 units on our shores, down from over 10,000 each back in 2006 and Canadian sales are roughly a tenth of that. While Mercedes is likely crying in their delicious geflügelsuppe, roadster shoppers benefit by being able to drive one of the most exclusive Mercedes models available on our shores. While the last model awkwardly aped the unholy union of a Mercdes F1 car and a bottlenose dolphin, the new model sells itself with sexy new sheet metal, 29 MPG on the highway and a $54,800 base price.

Now in its third generation Mercedes has finally found a style that fits the SLK. The first generation SLK in 1997 was described by all my college buddies as “cute” – not exactly how a dude wants his potential ride described. The second generation in 2005 struck me as more awkward than Ugly Betty in a southern beauty pageant. I’m not sure what the 2005-2011 SLK looked like inside because I couldn’t bring myself to get close enough to find out. Fortunately for the 50-something, six-figure earning, multiple car owning target buyer as well as the 30-something Silicon Valley professional, the SLK’s new duds are decidedly delicious. From the aggressive hood to the pert little trunk, the SLK looks like the hot love child of an SLS AMG and the recently announced 2013 SL550. Adding to the appeal is one of the best expressions of Mercedes new-found love for angles that (to me at least), is considerably more aggressive than the Porsche Boxster’s slippery sheet metal.

Luxury cars are all about options and features, and the SLK is no different. Our tester wore one of two optional wheel packages; the 5-spoke “AMG” wheels included in the $2,500 “Sport Package.” While AMG doesn’t use said wheels on any AMG car, they are quite attractive, as are the $500 wheels in the stand-alone wheel upgrade. Either option will get you 5-spoke rims and identical tire selections. The sport package also adds a more aggressive (and more SL-esque) front and rear bumper, faux-carbon fiber gauges, and more expressive side sill treatments. Our tester also wore a $720 premium metallic paint job, and had the $1090 lighting package which added bi-xenon headlamps that steer into corners and headlamp washers. The Xenon lamp upgrade seriously aids vision at night, and if you are balking at an $1090 option, it is time to pick a cheaper car.

According to Mercedes, SLK stands for “sportlich leicht kurz.” In English this means sporty, light and short. 300+ HP? Sporty: check. But at 3400lbs, light must be a relative term. The SLK is 17-inches shorter than a Toyota corolla, 10-inches shorter than a Boxster, and 3-inches shorter than a Golf, and the “short” part becomes obvious when anyone over 6-feet tall tries to gain entry into the SLK with the top up. You don’t so much get into the SLK as “put the SLK on.” Despite being a tight entry (due as much to the dimensions as the low ride height) once inside, the 38-inches of headroom and 42.5-inches of leg room are similar to the baby-Porsche and even a Volvo C70 (a four-seat hard-top convertible). Being 6-feet tall, I had no problems getting comfortable in the SLK. My six-foot-five friend however fit snugly ( yet with ample leg room) and found the ride a bit more claustrophobic with the lid up.

The SLK350’s cabin is all high rent as long as you don’t look skyward. Oddly enough some of the mechanicals of the two-piece folding hard-top remain completely uncovered with the lid closed, something you don’t even see in the bargain basement Chrysler convertibles. Aside from this haptic mis-step, the rest of the interior is absolutely top-notch from the soft, cross-stitched leather seats to the thick-rimmed, flat-bottomed sport steering wheel. Our model was equipped with the standard aluminum trim which many reviewers seem to favor, but I’d pony up the $990 to get the burl walnut trim to satisfy my deforestation desires. The real-tree upgrade includes highly lacquered walnut door and center console trim as well as a wood/leather steering wheel and wood shift knob. Strangely not available at any price is Mercedes’ excellent radar cruise control and collision warning system dubbed “Distronic Plus.”


Since our tester was equipped with the aforementioned “Sport Package,” our interior was bathed in red ambient lighting from the doors and a glowing red stripe down both sides of the center console. Also included was the $2,590 “Premium Package” which brings a few options that really ought to be standard on a $54,000 car, namely: the iPod/MP3 player interface and heated seats. On the flip side, the package does also buy the 11-speaker, 500-watt Logic 7 sound system by Harman/Kardon and a pair of “Airscarfs” (yes, I’m told that is the correct plural). The up-level sound system is as crisp as the Logic 7 sound systems in the rest of the top-tier Mercedes lineup but it lacks any bass punch at all. Apparently there was no room to squeeze a subwoofer so if thumping bass tunes are required for your cruising, you might want to look elsewhere. As gimmicky as the “Airscarf” sounds, they proved worthy of the name and kept our topless napes warm as December temperatures in California “plummeted” into the 40s.


Rounding out the gadget list is the $2,150 “Multimedia Package”, also known as Mercedes COMAND. The system comes with XM radio, XM weather (and a short 6 month subscription), voice controlled navigation, voice controlled Bluetooth phone interface, 10GB of usable storage for your music, an SD card reader, and a 6-disc DVD/CD changer. If you have read any of my other late-model Mercedes reviews you will know I’m not the biggest COMAND fan, I find it somewhat awkward and a decent step behind iDrive. I’d rather have COMAND than nothing, but the price tag is a bitter pill to swallow. Also on our option list was the $760 dual-zone climate control option, $650 for keyless-go and a whopping $970 for ultrasonic parking sensors. While parking sensors on something as big as a size-10 cross-trainer seems silly, rearward visibility isn’t that great with the lid closed so you might want to consider coughing up the cash before bashing your $60,000 roadster into a pole, or accidentally cracking the center surround speaker with your elbow as I did. Oops.

Click here to view the embedded video.

 

If the options above have your head spinning already, as they say on TV: but wait! There’s more! While the SLK doesn’t have a “sunroof” that opens like the VW EOS, in the front section of the two-piece hard top you still have some choices. You can opt for the basic all-metal lid, a “panorama sunroof” which is a fixed, slightly tinted piece of polycarbonate for $500, or the $2,500 variable tint sunroof dubbed “Magic Sky,” which, at its darkest setting, comes as close as you can get to an actual cover in the SLK. Our tester had the $500 plastic porthole option and I have to say, I’d skip it or jump up to the active window. (Given the price, just skip). On a bright sunny day I found myself jamming envelopes, papers, anything I could get my hands on, into the seams around the “sunroof” to block the hot sun and glare. Regardless of your choice, the SLK350 goes topless in 21-seconds flat.

Once the two-piece top is stowed, trunk space drops from 10.1 cubic feet to 6.4. While I find this number a bit disappointing given that there are no back seats to use as a padded cargo area, it is on par with a wide variety of four-seat convertibles and significantly better than the 1.99 cubic feet the Infiniti G37 convertible is left with. There is just about enough room for a weekend away as I was able to fit one computer bag, one camera backpack, and one carry-on rollerbag in the trunk with the top down. Since Mercedes doesn’t offer a feature like Volvo where the roof segments lift up and out of the way to make cargo retrieval easier, the top must be closed to stow or retrieve those larger bags. The Boxster on the other hand gives you 9.9 cubic feet of cargo space at all times, but splits it into his and hers trunks in the front and rear. For safe topless driving the new SLK350 also includes head airbags that pop out of the sides of the seat, active headrests and tiny roll-over hoops behind the seats.

Putting out 302HP at a lofty 6,500 RPM and 273 lb-ft of twist at 3,500 RPM, the new engine drops the SLK’s sprint to 60 by just over half a second (to 5.06 seconds) compared to the former SLK350, thanks to a broader torque curve and a reworked transmission. In addition to being a hair faster, the new 3.5L V6 features a 60-degree bank angle making it considerably smoother than the outgoing 90-degree V6. Joining the new engine is a revised Mercedes 7-speed automatic with three drives modes: Eco, Sport and Manual. As with other Mercedes products, Eco mode causes the transmission to be reluctant to downshift but supposedly improves economy by 7% in mixed driving. Sport mode makes the transmission hold a lower gear for longer and in addition allows this new 7-speed unit to downshift directly from 7th to 3rd for improves padding performance. “Manual” attempts to replicate the paddle shifting tendencies of Infiniti and Jaguar with rev-matched downshifts. Unfortunately the Mercedes transmission has absolutely no sense of urgency when it comes to the flappy-paddles and treats flaps like mere suggestions, not commands. Just leave the transmission in Sport and mash the pedal or put it in Eco and enjoy the “greener” leanings of the new V6. For 2012 EPA numbers are up from 18/25 MPG to 20/29 MPG, and in our 578 miles with the SLK we averaged a respectable 24 miles per gallon.

While the SLK’s primary mission is to be a stylish luxury roadster that’s a cheaper alternative to the six-figure SL, the 2012 baby-Benz makes a compelling argument against the likes of the Porsche Boxster S. The optional ($990) dynamic handling package which includes a variable suspension system and a torque-vectoring rear axle is an absolute most for anyone that wants to have a bit of fun in the twisties and remain parallel to the lane lines. The well-weighted steering, balanced chassis and an engine that sounds like a banshee when pressed to the limit, make getting sideways in the SLK easy, entertaining, slightly unexpected, thoroughly butt-clenching and strangely addictive. Compared to the Boxster S, the more compliant suspension, narrower 225-width front and 245-width rear rubber and nearly 400lb heavier curb weight mean the SLK will never handle as well as the small Porsche (or indeed a Subaru WRX STi that was my mountain dance-partner for a short while) but in my heart of hearts I would have to say I prefer the softer GT characteristics of the SLK. If crazy is what you seek, the SLK55 AMG is dropping soon with a 412HP 5.5L V8 under the hood and a rumored base price around $70,000.

Speaking of pricing, our SLK started at $54,800 and ended up at $67,565 after options. ($720 Diamond White Metallic paint, $630 Bengal Red Premium Leather, $2590 premium package, $1070 lighting package, $2150 Multimedia Package, $500 Panorama Roof, $2500 Sport Package, $760 dual-zone climate control and $970 “parktronic” parking sensors). Price aside, roadsters are such a niche market that somehow the first and second generation SLKs came and went without TTAC taking one for a spin. If the sales numbers are anything to go by, the same happens on dealer lots.  Largely forgotten by shoppers who lay down similar cash for E350s, ML350s or GL350s at Mercedes dealers, buyers are walking right past one of the best Mercedes models available. Forget about the school run, forget about the trailer you never tow and buy an SLK350 as your commuter car. After all, a pair of commuters in an SLK can drive in the 3+ HOV lanes in California and Texas. Sounds practical to me.

 

Statistics as tested

0-30: 2.08 Seconds

0-60: 5.06 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 13.46 @ 105.5 MPH

Mercedes provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

 

2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Exterior, rear 3/4, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Exterior, left side, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Exterior, left side, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Exterior, rear top down, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Exterior, side, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Exterior, front 3/4, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Exterior, front, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Exterior, front, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Exterior, front 3/4, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Exterior, rear 3/4, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Exterior, side, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Exterior, front, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Exterior, front, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Exterior, front, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Exterior, front 3/4, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Exterior, rear 3/4, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Exterior, rear, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Exterior, rear 3/4, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Exterior, roll over protection, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Exterior, SLK350 badge, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, 3.5L engine, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, 3.5L engine, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Exterior, Mercedes logo, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Exterior, headlamp, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, folding top operation, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, folding top operation, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Exterior, top up, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Exterior, top up, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Interior, passanger seat, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Interior, COMAND screen, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Interior, driver's door, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Interior, driver's door, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Interior, steering wheel, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Interior, driver's seat with air scarf, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Interior, cockpit, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Interior, dashboard, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Interior, seat and airscarf controls, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Interior, AMG package speedometer, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Interior, steering wheel controls, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Interior, hard top switch, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Interior, trunk space, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Interior, trunk space, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Interior, trunk space, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350, Interior, driver's door, Picture courtesy of Alex L Dykes slk350 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Junkyard Find: 1969 Ford LTD Four-Door Hardtop http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/junkyard-find-1969-ford-ltd-four-door-hardtop/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/junkyard-find-1969-ford-ltd-four-door-hardtop/#comments Fri, 11 Nov 2011 14:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=417721 You don’t see a lot of intact 60s Detroit cars in the junkyards of Denver, where I now live. When I return to my old haunts in the San Francisco Bay Area, as I did last month, I find that a steady trickle of these old survivors still flows into the self-serve yards. Here’s a […]

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You don’t see a lot of intact 60s Detroit cars in the junkyards of Denver, where I now live. When I return to my old haunts in the San Francisco Bay Area, as I did last month, I find that a steady trickle of these old survivors still flows into the self-serve yards. Here’s a big Ford I found in Oakland.
The sight of this car gave me some weird childhood flashbacks, because my grandfather had a black LTD hardtop just like this one when I was a little kid. I remember being awed by the grandfatherly luxury of the thing as a four-year-old. The vast interior, the quiet ride. When I grow up, I thought, I’ll have one of these!
Of course, the fact that these things had all become hopeless 13-year-old hoopties by the time I got my driver’s license sort of soured me on my ’69 LTD dreams, especially since one of my scurvier high-school friends drove one with a coat hanger for a radio antenna and a bunch of Fang stickers all over the interior.
Of course, I also thought the Porsche 914 was a seriously cool car when I was a little kid, particularly the ones with the big P O R S C H E decals on the sides. At least the LTD has all these great pieces of Detroit style all over the place.
Like, for example, the hideaway headlights. Yes, I know, these things never worked once the car got past about five years of age, but you still have to admire them.
The vacuum-operated mechanism for the headlights is big, cheap, and clunky. The whole setup probably added 50 pounds to the car’s weight, but anyone who objected to that probably also thought that the F-105 was too heavy. In other words, communists. Bad people.
In 1969, the LTD was the top trim level for the full-sized Ford, and the four-door hardtop listed for $3,261. Compare that to the $2,632 price tag on the six-cylinder base ’69 Custom two-door. This car’s curb weight was listed at 3,840 pounds… or 90 pounds more than the 2012 V6 Mustang. The 302 Windsor was the standard engine for the ’69 LTD, but this one appears to have received a Malaise 400M swap at some point along its long journey… which has now come to an end.

DOTJ-69_LTD-22 DOTJ-69_LTD-01 DOTJ-69_LTD-02 DOTJ-69_LTD-03 DOTJ-69_LTD-04 DOTJ-69_LTD-05 DOTJ-69_LTD-06 DOTJ-69_LTD-07 DOTJ-69_LTD-08 DOTJ-69_LTD-09 DOTJ-69_LTD-10 DOTJ-69_LTD-11 DOTJ-69_LTD-12 DOTJ-69_LTD-13 DOTJ-69_LTD-14 DOTJ-69_LTD-15 DOTJ-69_LTD-16 DOTJ-69_LTD-17 DOTJ-69_LTD-18 DOTJ-69_LTD-19 DOTJ-69_LTD-20 DOTJ-69_LTD-21

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Piston Slap: A Panther Lover is a Folding Hardtop Lover http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/05/piston-slap-a-panther-lover-is-a-folding-hardtop-lover/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/05/piston-slap-a-panther-lover-is-a-folding-hardtop-lover/#comments Mon, 23 May 2011 20:17:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=395781 Frank A. writes: It’s been a while since you advised me on Town Car engine cleaning.  I’ve still got the TC, but I’ve got an itch to add something less practical to the fleet–a retractable hardtop.  Probably anybody who is old enough to have been frightened by a Ford Skyliner as a child has had […]

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Frank A. writes:

It’s been a while since you advised me on Town Car engine cleaning.  I’ve still got the TC, but I’ve got an itch to add something less practical to the fleet–a retractable hardtop.  Probably anybody who is old enough to have been frightened by a Ford Skyliner as a child has had this impulse now and then.

I’m interested in the Pontiac G6.  They were made ’06-’09 and are percolating down into a practical price range.  I can’t spend the bucks on a high dollar retractable, so the VW Eos and Chrysler Sebring would be my only other choices.

Gee whiz: Pontiac quality, Volkswagen quality, or Chrysler quality: what are you gonna choose?

So, what do you think, of retractables in general and the G6 in particular?  Are they reasonably reliable?  What kind of maintenance does the top require as it ages?  (Assuming Pontiac dealer support is going to recede into the past.)  And how loopy an idea would buying one be?

Before you reply that this is too bizarre a kink for a Panther guy to take up, just remember–the Skyliner is a direct ancestor of the Big Cat.  It must have left a few retractable genes in there somewhere.

Sajeev answers:

Having recently spent time in a restored 1958 Skyliner, these systems aren’t exactly the stuff of rocket science. And my goodness, the Skyliners are one of the high points in Detroit’s history: when you consider the historical implications of Panther Love.  It is a truly stunning machine.

I get it. You need a folding roof.

And a few unique hinge pieces, custom rubber bits and the appropriate electrics is all that’s in play. That said, retractable tops will be a nightmare if a greenhorn with a wrench and a shop manual gets their hands on it. As time goes by, the rubber bits are my biggest concern. Unlike most droptops, I suspect the G6’s folding hard top has a fair bit of unique molded rubber that will be tough to find. But this won’t be a problem if Steele Rubber Products stays in business for the next 30 years. If they go away, start crying: I know I will.

But go for it, life’s too short to drive nothing but a Lincoln Town Car.  Compared the out-of-warranty repair costs of a VW and the stunning crappiness of Chrysler, the Pontiac G6 is a smart move. If any vehicle shall be blessed with an overabundance of replacement bits and service expertise, it will be a GM product. But that’s discounting the G6’s unique folding roof.

Whatever.  Just do it, but much like your Town Cars dirty engine, be proactive about cleaning the hardtop’s moving parts.  Get the dirt out of the rubber and finish them off with a touch of silicone spray lubricant. Clean and lubricate the hinges, conservatively. Overdoing it might let more dirt and grime build up. Buy the GM factory service manual, read the specifics about the folding top and learn how the experts tune and tweak these things as the ravages of time do their duty.

And if you get into a significant accident, don’t get too attached: I suspect any insurance company will total a depreciated G6 with a jammed roof.  This ain’t a valuable Mercedes SL, as you well know.

Good luck, the Town Car and the G6 will be a fun Detroit pairing.

Send your queries to sajeev@ttac.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

The post Piston Slap: A Panther Lover is a Folding Hardtop Lover appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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