It’s unofficially been Chrysler Time around the Rare Rides pages lately, and another Chrysler product follows up the New Yorker and Conquest. It was much more important product than either of those two, however, and it signified the end of one of Chrysler’s divisions.
Picture it: 1995, Eagle Vision.
Quick badge swaps between Chrysler and Mitsubishi were common throughout the Eighties. Mostly a one-way affair, Chrysler rebranded Mitsubishi products as Colts, Plymouths, and Dodges. These captive imports generated revenue via Chrysler’s brand recognition while cheaply filling gaps in the domestic company’s lineup.
Today marks our first Chrysler-branded Mitsubishi, and it’s certainly the sportiest rebadge we’ve seen here. Presenting the Chrysler Conquest, from 1988.
Rare Rides has featured plenty of Chrysler vehicles before, and some of them were even as large as today’s range-topping sedan. But none of them had quite as much trim as today’s subject.
From the last gasp of the truly full-size offerings from domestic manufacturers, it’s the 1979 Chrysler New Yorker Fifth Avenue Edition.
Today’s Rare Ride popped up on the Internet recently, hailing from the archive of Long Forgotten Concept Cars. This particular concept happens to be a high-riding off-road cabriolet, created from a Frankenstein-like amalgam of Mercedes-Benz parts and custom fabrications by French alteration firm Heuliez.
Buckle up — it’s gonna get weird.
Rare Rides featured exactly one example of the legendary Thunderbird name in previous entries: A late Eighties Turbo Coupe that was basically brand new. While the Turbo Coupe has a following amongst classic car folks, today’s early ’80s Thunderbird is not held in such high regard.
In fact, I’ll go ahead and call it the worst Thunderbird ever.
Bring on the Malaise.
Rare Rides has featured many an Alfa Romeo in past editions, but none as new as today’s 8C. With its very striking design, a limited manufacturing run, and a very high price when new, the low-slung coupe was instantly rare. A daring coupe from a small Italian manufacturer.
Rare Rides has featured a couple of Peugeot cars in previous entries. From the Nineties was the sporty front-drive 405 Mi16, which had the honor of being the last Peugeot model sold in the United States.
We also featured a Seventies Peugeot: The graceful 504, which was predecessor to today’s 505.
Ever hear of a sporting automotive manufacturer called Spectre? I hadn’t either, until I watched a very old Top Gear clip on YouTube in which Clarkson and some other people visit the 1997 British International Motor Show.
Intrigued, I decide I’d find one for sale. Turns out the listing I found was for the rarest Spectre of all.
Though North Americans were offered a few car-turned-truck vehicles like the Ford Ranchero and Chevrolet El Camino between the 1950s and 1980s, domestic appetites for ute-type vehicles never approached that of Australia. Down Under, interest in such vehicles persisted for over 80 years.
Let’s take a look at one of the most popular types, the Ford Falcon.
The Rare Rides series has featured around 10 special edition cars in past, depending on how generous you are with the term.
And while every special edition presented here thus far was designed to add some padding to a manufacturer’s bottom line, today’s special edition McDonald’s van had a much more benevolent purpose.
Rare Rides occasionally features vehicles that have somehow slipped through the 25-year importation net and exist in this country as illegal immigrants. First up was a little Citroën Picasso hatchback from Arizona, and more recently we featured a bright orange Fiat Barchetta from Florida.
Today we venture into illegality once more, with the luxurious and beautiful Lancia Thesis from 2003.
Today’s Rare Ride is from the period in the Eighties when many compact pickup trucks were available to the North American consumer. While most of these vehicles were Japanese, some covered their origins with American badges. Others wore both Japanese and American branding, albeit at different dealerships.
Wouldn’t you LUV to check out this P’up? Ugh.
The Bronco II was a compact SUV marketed on the long-term brand recognition of the Bronco. But only a few years into its production run, the Bronco II had established an infamous reputation all its own — and eventually proved one of the most costly models Ford ever created.
Today’s Rare Ride is a seriously sporty evolution of Ferrari’s well-known 308 GTB. Built as a homologation special, the 288 GTO was one of the most exclusive vehicles Ferrari produced in the Eighties.
It’s a car which became relevant to me this past weekend, when a rusty example was unearthed in my parents’ backyard.
Today’s Rare Ride is one of those last-of moments for a historical nameplate. For nearly 40 years, Toronado was the luxurious coupe flagship of the Oldsmobile brand. But changing consumer tastes and a thinning of the herd at General Motors meant that, by 1990, the Toronado name was not long for the world.
Let’s talk about some personal luxury as we pour one out for the Troféo.
We’ve spilled a lot of digital ink on Infiniti lately, primarily due to the grim announcement that the brand will become “Nissan-plus” in the coming years. While the brand produced a few bright spots like the G35 and FX over its 30-year history, most of its products were duds.
That got me thinking about one such dud product, and one that happened to appear for sale right as I was pondering. It’s the 1998 Q45, a disappointing flagship.
Most examples of the popular first-generation Focus lived life as appliances. Use and abused, they filtered to the used car lots during the late 2000s alongside brethren like the Mercury Cougar and Jaguar S-Type. However, a select few were spared from such an ignominious fate by performance tuner Saleen. The Californian company took some new Foci and imbued them with extra performance.
Today’s Rare Ride is among the chosen — it’s the 2005 Saleen Focus.
Today’s Rare Ride is boxy, brown, and well-equipped. It’s an unpopular variant of a less-than-mainstream midsize car of the Eighties. And at 38 years old, it’s managed to escape the rusty fate to which most all of these succumbed long ago.
Let’s check out the 1982 Mazda 626.
Today’s Rare Ride is one which defies most all expectations of vehicles in its class. It’s larger, more powerful, more exclusive, and more ridiculous than any of its contemporaries. Suitably, it has a raging bull emblem on its hood.
Presenting the Lamborghini LM002 from 1990.
Rare Rides has featured a couple of JDM import vans previously, namely the Mazda Bongo and Toyota Town Ace. Today’s van is of similar JDM fashion, except this Mitsubishi is one of the few examples actually sold in North America during the model’s very short domestic run.
Let’s learn a bit more about the only large van Mitsubishi ever sold in America. Once again, it’s Van Time.
A light dew suspends itself on finely manicured lawns as you glide past. Lucky Strike in hand, Miles Davis plays on the radio as you adjust the six-way power seat. At the office, the space in front of the door has your name on it.
The year is 1960, the winner of capitalism is you, and your car is the Cadillac Eldorado Seville.
Today’s Ferrari 400 took a more upscale approach than its contemporaries wearing the prancing horse badge. The engine was at the front instead of the middle, the seats numbered four instead of two, and the accommodations were more cocktail lounge than race car.
Let’s find out more about the vintage Ferrari many fans gloss over entirely.
Rare Rides has covered a few De Tomaso vehicles in past, but today’s Italian classic predates all those presented thus far. From 1970, it’s the second car ever offered by its parent brand, and the first model which was produced in a mass quantity of over 100 vehicles.
Let’s learn about the Mangusta.
The standard Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volare are primarily remembered (and not seen) because they rusted as soon as the dew settled on them on a spring morning. While that makes standard examples sort of rare today, there’s a very special model which was very rare from the beginning.
It’s the 1978 Dodge Aspen Kit Car, and that’s its real name.
By my count, Rare Rides has featured exactly four Lancias in the past. Ranging in scope from two-doors to four-doors, they all contained Italian passion and were designed with a ruler. Today’s coupe bucks the trend: It’s an elegant and curvaceous Flaminia, and more specifically, a very desirable Super Sport Zagato.
Rare Rides has featured a classic Jeep previously, with the Kaiser-Jeep-produced Jeepster Commando. While that model was eventually succeeded by the Jeep Cherokee, today’s Rare Ride was predecessor to the Wagoneer.
Let’s learn about a seven-seat SUV from 1948: the Willys Overland Station Wagon.
Rare Rides previously featured the last rear-drive Town & Country wagon, a model closely related to the sturdy and reliable M-body Dodge Diplomat. Today’s wagon is a sign of its times: It’s front-drive, efficient, and based on the K-car platform (like 98 percent of Chrysler’s offerings for the years 1981 through 1995).
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Much like our recently presented Tempo, today’s Ford is a well-kept oddity that’s already considered a classic due to its age. A ho-hum family van, the Aerostar was the sort of vehicle that got well-used and (usually) rusted by its eighth birthday.
Today’s short-wheelbase beauty, however, made it to 26.
If the Bizzarrini name seems familiar, it’s because we previously learned about one of the very last designs to wear the name: the BZ 2001. In contrast to that failed Nineties project, today’s Rare Ride was Bizzarrini’s most successful commercial offering.
It’s the Strada, from 1967.
The AMC Gremlin celebrated its 50th birthday recently, a fact which would have passed by without notice were it not for commenter Steve Biro. And since we’re talking Gremlin today, we may as well take a look at an oddball trim that’s as quirky as it is rare.
It’s a Levi’s Gremlin from 1976, and it comes standard with an invitation to the Pants Party.
Rare Rides previously featured the weather-inspired SVT Lightning, an effort that saw Ford add a healthy dose of power and sporty handling to its full-size pickup.
Today we’ll have a look at Lightning’s smaller sibling, which is named after the same weather event: the Ranger Thunderbolt, from 2002.
Pontiac is one of the most featured marques of the Rare Rides series, and to date there have been seven of its models represented here. Today’s Rare Ride was in showrooms the very same time as the odd and short-lived Sunbird Safari Wagon, but was intended to entice a much more traditional customer.
Let’s have a look at the upright and respectable Bonneville coupe.
The Toyota 2000GT’s been a legend for decades now. A simple mention of its name conjures up the correct silhouette. Eyes glaze over at the gentle curves, classic sports coupe proportions, and the big front lamps trapped behind plexiglass.
Today we’ll dig a little deeper into this legend.
There’s nothing especially unique about a first-generation Ford Expedition, given that the company sold hundreds of thousands of them in the late Nineties. But things get a bit more exciting when the Expedition in question was a custom build for SEMA.
So today let’s remember the boat times, with this 1998 SeaScape.
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- Beachy Asphalt only works to keep the dirt road below it dry, and it is the dry dirt that holds up the asphalt surface to make a smooth road surface. Once the asphalt cracks or a spring wells up and the dirt gets wet, all bets are off. It is usually due to a spring that perennial potholes form. They are very hard to get rid of.
- JamesG I’m the owner of the featured car that’s currently on EBay. Thanks for such a nice write up on these cars. Mine happens to be in excellent condition and the photos don’t do it justice. The HT4100 isn’t as bad as some made them out to be and they can go 200k miles with proper maintenance. I also own a 79 w/the analog fuel injected 5.7 350 which should have been used through 1985 but ever-increasing CAFE regulations called for more economical power plants which made GM shelve this great motor.
- Jeff S Adam on Rare Classic Cars recently bought a pristine 71 Kenosha Cadillac.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lY-G2dExgXE&ab_channel=RareClassicCars%26AutomotiveHistory
- Jeff S Wouldn't most of the large suvs in NYC be livery vehicles? If so that would be hurting those who make their living by driving for hire.
- EBFlex Yes their mass transit is great if you want to be beat within an inch of your life or pushed onto the tracks by some random psycho.