Category: Crapwagon Outtake

By on October 30, 2015

1999 Isuzu Vehicross

Most mainstream consumers don’t recall much about Isuzu. If asked, they’ll either remember their friends’ droptop Amigo back in college, or if they are of a certain age, they’ll know Joe Isuzu and his outlandish claims. Some enthusiasts might know Isuzu as the partner in numerous joint ventures with GM, Honda and Subaru, among others.

That said, Isuzu built some remarkably good SUVs worthy of both halves of that descriptor. The Trooper especially was a good, sturdy off-roader that could handle family duties.

However, for a few short years, Isuzu made a wacky, limited-edition truck that could handle nearly any terrain in style.

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By on October 19, 2015

Merkur XR4Ti

A few months ago, I lamented how Blue Oval enthusiasts never got the “good stuff” from Europe. When all we saw here was powered by pushrod-laden V-8 lumps, the “sophisticates” to our East could buy high-revving, twin-cam fours in light, sturdy, rally-and-race proven sedans.

I was wrong. For a few short years, Merkur set up shop in Mercury dealers, trying to sell Americans a Cologne version of performance. However, most recall Merkur as “the car with the funny name and the funny wing.”

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By on October 16, 2015

Porsche 924S

The lure of the cheap “exotic” car can be irresistible for some gearheads. Just open up eBay Motors sometime and type “project” into the search bar. Instantly, dozens of cars, old and new, are there to haunt your bargain-hunting dreams. In a quick glance, I spotted a Viper, a Z32 300ZX, and even a Local Motors Rally Fighter that can all be picked up for a fraction of the cost of a clean one.

The problem with any project, of course, is the time and money required to complete is typically underestimated, often by some unforeseen order of magnitude. Many of these “projects” will likely be listed on eBay in twenty years as “barn finds”, in basically the same state — save for entropy — as today.

Take today’s feature car, the 1987 Porsche 924S.

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By on October 9, 2015

1990 Plymouth Voyager

Earlier this week, several friends separately sent me this eBay Motors article, highlighting this relatively obscure performance machine sold at Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth dealers back in the late Eighties.

No, it never carried the vaunted Shelby badges, nor was it an R/T — though one could (and I almost did) buy such a vehicle these days. However, with proper application of a well-stocked junkyard or two (or eBay, naturally), one could easily build a family hauler that could haul down the quarter mile in around twelve seconds.

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By on October 5, 2015

Nissan Sentra SE-R

The Nissan Sentra SE-R was often compared to Nissan’s OG hot sedan — the 510. With decent power and handling in a three-box profile, I can see the resemblance. The factory limited-slip differential helped put all those whopping 140 horsepower to the ground better than most other front drivers.

And that SR20DE engine also pulls a premium the week before Race Wars.

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By on October 2, 2015

1981 Fiat X19

I like the unusual when it comes to cars — as must be quite clear from the pieces I’ve written over the last few months. However, my current fleet is quite mainstream, consisting of a Chrysler minivan, the wife’s Chevy Trailblazer, and a first-generation Miata. Perhaps that explains my wandering eye.

Over the last couple years, I’ve developed an appreciation for Fiats that is nearly inexplicable, and potentially unhealthy. I’ve even caught myself ogling Yugos in junkyards. I’ve said it before; I’m a sucker for a great exhaust note, and somehow even this single-cam four cylinder sounds amazing.

Rust, of course, is always an issue with anything built in the Seventies. This 1981 Fiat X1/9 isn’t immune, and it appears to have some of the typical surface rot in the sills. The seller claims that the paint is mostly original, so it shouldn’t be hiding anything.

He also says it’s unmolested. I hate that term.

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By on September 30, 2015

1967 Mustang

1968 Olds Cutlass

Mark’s look today at a couple of late Sixties’ performance icons has inspired me. Yes, my automotive ADD kicked in and off I went to eBay in search of affordable Cutlass and Mustang projects.

And, really, I’m still searching. The majority of what I’ve found are either total basketcases, poorly-done “customs,” or pristine show cars with prices to match. I’d love to find a car that has needs, but could be driven away and worked on over time.

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By on September 24, 2015

1978 VW Rabbit Diesel

I recall a few years ago when gearheads and tinkerers happened upon waste vegetable oil as the answer to the high fuel prices of the day. In theory, recycling used fryer grease seems like an elegant solution. In practice, however, restaurants quickly realized there was gold at the bottom of the vat, and the price advantage diminished.

Back in those days, the hot car for WVO conversion was the Volkswagen Rabbit. Cheap, reasonable reliability, and light weight meant a 45-50 mpg package for a few grand out of pocket. I knew of a few people who converted and, for a while, the cost savings was tangible.

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By on September 22, 2015

VW DoKa

What remarkable times these are. A week ago, a Volkswagen diesel was a sensible choice for a reliable, fuel efficient family vehicle. Now, those same cars make their owners pariahs in the green car community.

The devils’ advocate in me tells me to embrace the newfound hatred for VW — and diesels in general. After all, I live in an area without emissions regulations. Sadly, there are plenty of brodozers around here, rolling coal between suburban roundabouts. Let’s combine the two. Here’s a Braudozer!

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By on September 16, 2015

01

I wanna live with a Cimarron girl

Life would be crappy, on the side of the road

With my Cimarron girl

Apologies to Mr. Young. Even more apologies to anyone who has ever heard my attempts to sing. And more to those enthusiasts at j-body.org, who might consider punishing anyone who dares slander the pride of Janesville.

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By on September 14, 2015

TR7 Front Quarter

MGB Front Quarter

Today, I’m asking the readers to look at a couple underappreciated classics. I’m lumping them under the Crapwagon banner, as they are relatively unloved developments of some special British roadsters.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a child of the Eighties, so hot hatches and poster-style supercars certainly appeal to me. However, like many gearheads, my dad influenced my automotive wanderlust. Dad was into Datsun Z-cars as well as the MGB. There was rarely a time in my young life when the garage didn’t hold at least one of these paragons of Nixon-era cheap performance. I never got to drive Dad’s last MG, though, as he sold it (after I helped him restore it) when I was about fifteen.

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By on September 9, 2015

$_57

Here’s a fun game for those of us with petrol-addled minds: Go to eBay Motors, and type in “Project” in the search field. Marvel at the sea of rust. When I’m feeling forlorn about the enormity of the project I have on jackstands, seeing the guy who exploded his Ferrari V8 on the way home from buying it tends to cheer me up in a perverse way.

This sobering look at the bottom end of the classic-car spectrum also reminds me that I’m not exactly swimming in cash. Yet, there are automotive desires that must be met someday. My wife, for example, has only two cars that she has dreamed of owning: A lifted, large-tired, full-sized pickup (a remnant of her childhood in Appalachia, I’m sure) and a Corvette convertible.

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By on September 4, 2015

rampsidefront

This week on the TTAC forum, we’ve had a few interesting rides on the Classic and Collector subsection. Not just the stuff I’ve posted, either, as our own Ronnie Schreiber posted a very cool vintage truck he had photographed.

This weekly feature isn’t just for TTAC writers, either. I’d love nothing more than to wake up on Friday and not write about a single car that I’d posted. Please, post links to cars you’ve found as you search the web, and I’ll give a shoutout to the best.

This week, we have Ronnie’s Corvair, a Jeep, a K-Car, an Eighties-vintage Alfa, a cheap Ferrari, and a Lotus.

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By on September 2, 2015

$_57

Go to any small town cruise-in, and you’re likely to find one: a tribute to the owner’s favorite “movie car.” A “Bullitt Mustang, or for the younger guys who like fixing stress cracks in cheap fiberglass, a “Gone in Sixty Seconds” Mustang. A “Smokey and The Bandit” Trans Am, complete with screaming chicken. A racist General Lee. If the show is at a private golf club rather than the back lot of a Sonic Drive-In, perhaps a “Goldfinger” DB5.

DeLoreans figure heavily into this mix, too. Faux flux capacitors abound. But for me, my absolute favorite movie car is Marty’s Toyota HiLux from “Back to The Future.” Gleaming in black, with polished rims, a phalanx of lights atop a useless roll bar, the truck of Marty’s dreams was also that of mine when I was seven. I recall building a plastic scale version as a poor substitute.

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By on August 28, 2015

Scout

Last week, we began our occasional look back at the interesting cars I’ve been posting daily in our Classic and Collector Car forum. Maybe these cars aren’t quite worthy of the full Crapwagon treatment, so we call this the Forum ReCrap.

(To the 2 percent of our readers that are female, please recall that nearly all males — especially those who happen to love cars — are perpetually twelve years old, and thus still find toilet humor titillating.)

This week, the forum featured: an SUV from a tractor company; a modern shooting brake; a legendary FWD sports car that will likely be stolen; a Japanese-built, Italian-styled derivative of a Chevette; and a hatchback that was born from jets.

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  • Adam Tonge
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