QOTD: Know Anyone With a Pre-War Car?
So, it seems the Cannonball Run record was smashed once again this week, with a team from Ohio making the New York-Los Angeles run in XX hours and XX minutes thanks to a specially outfitted German land missile and plenty of electronic help. The actual duration of the feat has no bearing on today’s question, so we’ll leave you to read about it somewhere else.
These Cannonball Run attempts are, frankly, getting annoying. They’re also inherently dangerous. But the news did dredge up an old article about a very different cross-country trip that proved far more interesting to this writer.
QOTD: High School Superstar?
If you’re someone who enjoys thinking back to your high school days, you were either exceedingly popular at the time (jerk!) OR achieved absolutely nothing in later life. The two are not mutually exclusive.
Four touchdowns in a single game at Polk High — that kind of thing.
Others only think back out of distaste for the present and nostalgia for that long-ago era; the simplicity of life, the fashions, the relaxed social and regulatory norms… and the cars populating the student lot. It’s more than a little jarring to see near-mundane rides that could have been had for a few grand in my senior year now fetching eye-popping prices on Bring a Trailer.
Thinking back, should you have invested in an airtight car bubble upon graduation?
QOTD: Which Classic(s) to Resurrect?
Despite the presence of the well-regarded, all-new Ram 1500 on the market, penny-pinching truck buyers still have the opportunity to save cash while remaining true to their preferred brand. The 1500 Classic, a “new old” pickup, keeps the previous-generation model alive as a lower-priced alternative. It’s looking like this won’t simply be a single model year experiment, either.
Not that Fiat Chrysler is the sole player of this game. For 2019, the previous-gen Chevrolet Silverado soldiers on alongside its fresh-faced successor. Ask for an “LD” model. And anyone remember the Volkswagen City Golf and City Jetta? Keeping decently popular old relics around beyond their best-before date can earn an automaker extra spending money.
But what if these so-called classics were actual classics?
Rare Rides: 1985 Toyota Tercel 4WD Wagon in As-new Condition
Time for the third entry into the sub-class of vehicles from the 1980s that I call Tall Import Wagons. The first was a light blue Nissan Stanza, known as “Multi” up north in Canada. Then, a similarly blue Colt Vista showed us what Dodge could do when it swapped the emblems on a Mitsubishi.
Today, a third competitor takes center stage: the Toyota Tercel 4WD wagon.
The Empire Strikes Back: Anglo Quirkiness at the British Invasion of Stowe
Just imagine for a second that Britain’s best-known automotive nameplates aren’t owned by the Germans and Indians. Once upon a time, the Union Jack fluttered proudly over a vast empire of brands. The sun never set on the nation’s impressive array of automobiles, and enthusiasts the world over lusted over the scorching, sexy offerings emerging from a country best known for fog, breakfast fishes and military might.
When Britain decided to let its hair down, oh boy. Any red-blooded driver would gladly put up with weird electrical issues or leaks for a chance to sit behind the wheel of a curvacious, inline-six-powered dream machine that oozed sex (and perhaps oil) every mile of its life. Though the dream eventually collapsed, foreign ownership brought it partway back. (I’m poking fun just a bit, but the stinking nationalized mess that was British-Leyland is a comedy mine that never runs out.)
But we’re not here to rehash the dismal 1970s. This is a celebration — a brimming glass of scotch, gin, sherry, or port raised in honour of a quirky industry with a diverse heritage. Detroit may have cranked out the wheels that moved America, but Britain — at least for a while — cranked out cheap exports for people who couldn’t afford a Dodge. North of the border especially, postwar British cars with alarmingly low horsepower figures stoically braved weather they weren’t designed for.
Sure, my parents’ childhoods contained Fords, Chevrolets, Studebakers and Plymouths, but they also contained an Austin A30, Morris Minor 1000, Morris Oxford, two Vauxhall Victors, and a grandparent’s Triumph Mayflower (0-50 mph in 26.6 seconds). Dad still raves about the Vauxhall Firenza (“half of a V8!”) he bought in the ’70s. Maybe it’s a Commonwealth thing.
It was with these tales in mind that I travelled to tony Stowe, Vermont last weekend for the British Invasion, the Northeast’s annual celebration of UK rolling stock. Let’s take a look at some oddities and bonafide classics, shall we?
Why Do We Still Applaud the Destruction of 1969 Dodge Chargers?
Onlookers outside Detroit’s Cobo Center took part in a great American pastime yesterday. That is, thrilling at the impending destruction of an airborne 1969 Dodge Charger.
You know the one. Orange, Confederate flag emblazoned on the roof, once the star of a popular TV show that was serviceable in its first season, but then got really stupid. There’s a pull, an irresistible force that compels us to find old B-body Chargers — ideally a ’69, sometimes a ’68 but never a ’70 — and launch those nose-heavy suckers to a frame-twisting death.
It’s the only classic, lusted-after muscle car that we associate with low-altitude flight and, for some reason, we continue to applaud the torture and destruction of the remaining examples. Why?
QOTD: Which Forbidden Classic Would You Import?
It’s the last week of the year, which means it’s time for end-of-year or new-year listicles. Time to recount all the celebrities who’ve passed, or to predict what will happen in the coming year. It’s a convenient time, certainly, as the turning of the calendar page allows one to mentally erase the past in favor of a potentially brighter future.
For guys like me, though, the lists of legally importable 25-year-old cars are the ones I’ll read the most. Heck, I wrote one last year.
QOTD: What Dead Model Would You Resurrect?
Despite the scores of new cars available to North American drivers, not every niche is filled. Entire segments of the new car market have all but been abandoned in the almighty search for profitability — or in the case of some OEMs, mere solvency.
Whither the personal luxury coupe? How about the almighty two-door, full size SUV? Buyers would certainly snap up tens of these every year.
Aston Martin Brings Back the DB4 GT for the Reasonable Price of $1.9 Million
As things get older they gradually become “priceless.” However, before that happens, there is a long period of grotesquely inflated cost mathematically intertwined with the object’s historical relevance.
When Jaguar announced they would resume production on the 1957 XKSS in 2017, they added up the D-Type’s success at Le Mans, Steve McQueen’s seal of approval, the car’s extremely limited numbers, and the tragic production-ending fire at the Browns Lane factory. A continuation car dripping with so much historical mystique wasn’t going to go cheap. Jaguar sold the nine “new” cars at $1.5 million each.
Aston Martin’s DB4 GT has a similar allure. It’s a low-production high-performance version of an already coveted classic. Even if you are filthy rich enough to own one, it probably exists in a temperature controlled garage next to other massively expensive vintage automobiles you dare not drive. Well, sixty years after being first introduced, Aston Martin plans to build twenty-five new track-only continuations of the DB4 GT.
SoCal Rockabilly in the City of Glass
Vancouver’s a funny place when it comes to car culture. One one hand, we’ve got a downtown core that’s switching over to highly affluent residential living, similarly well-heeled Western regions and, carved into the hillsides of West Vancouver, a community that rates its own “Real Housewives Of…” unreality show.
Fuelled by wealth swirling off the Pacific Rim, there’re a lot of high-status automobiles on the streets: throw a rock at random and you’ll likely hit a Supercharged Range Rover, but only after a bounce off two 911s and a Ferrari California. I’ve seen more curbed dubs, beat-up Vantages and hack-job ‘tuner’ M3s than I care to remember. I even recall seeing an RS4 with doilies on the headrests.
Still, to each his own, and for the residents of East Vancouver that means a backlash against conspic-consump buggies and an affinity for hot-rodding. Quick, hand me a ballpoint before somebody notices I don’t have a neck tattoo.
Look At What I Found!: My Continental Summer
Jack Baruth called the 1976 Cadillac Fleetwood Sixty Special Talisman that he delivered to Sajeev’s brother “majestic”. While Jack and Sajeev have been playing with a big Caddy, lately I’ve been seeing a lot of Dearborn’s favorite luxury brand and it’s given me a lot of opportunity to think about Lincoln’s past and future. Today, Cadillac, buoyed by the success of the CTS and its variants, along with profitable sales of the SRX (and Escalade too) seems strong compared to Lincoln. As has been the case since Henry Leland’s day Lincoln has almost always been Detroit’s weaker sister when it’s come to luxury cars. Almost always…
Feature: Five Automotive Passenger Pigeons
Passenger pigeons were the most common bird found in North America. So common that flocks numbering 2 billion were up to a mile wide and 300 miles long. In other words, the average North American in the 18th and 19th Century saw a lot of these pigeons. You could easily argue that a passenger pigeon sighting in 1812 was something on the same scale today as seeing mind-numbing crap on TV. Not a particularly noteworthy or unique experience. So what took the passenger pigeon down? It was a combination of things but the biggest factor was that these pigeons tasted pretty good (a lot like chicken) and they were plentiful-hence a cheap source of food.bThey were wiped out at the pace of millions per year, so the last documented passenger pigeon named Martha died on September 1st 1914. In other words, something the average American had seen every day was extinct in a matter of a few decades. Quick extinction of a very common species is not a phenomenon exclusive to Mother Nature because cars can disappear overnight too. Here are a few that will soon be joining that “whatever happened to…” list.
Capsule Review: 1947 Dodge Regent
I have always had a soft spot for the post-war late 40s Detroit automobile look which looked eerily like the pre-war early 40s Detroit look. You can’t send Cadillacs into combat zones and DeSotos made poor amphibious assault vehicles, so Detroit became lead manufacturer for the war effort in 1941. Forget cars, the free world needed Sherman tanks until 1945. People just wanted cars in 1947 and supply fell well behind demand for the North American auto manufacturers. The 1947 market conditions must seem like a long lost beautiful dream for the former Big Three in 2009. But enough with the history lesson, I had a chance to test drive a very well preserved 1947 Dodge Regent with 38,000 original miles on it and I leapt at the opportunity. The car was a time capsule; complete with rear suicide doors, front and back vent windows instead of air conditioning, and human arms instead of signal lights.
Capsule Review: 1984 Audi 4000 S Quattro
Living in Breckenridge, Colorado, you need some sort of All-Wheel Drive setup. Snow remains the small town’s primary reason to exist. This explains the multitudes of Subarus, Audis, Volvos, and SUVs all equipped with four wheel motivation. Most drive away blissfully unaware of how recent this feature came to market (as little as 27 years ago). In 1980, Audi introduced the first permanently engaged all-wheel drive system in the Audi Quattro. Prior to this, all vehicles had a part-time system where only two wheels were driven most of the time, requiring driver intervention should the going get slippery. Audi changed all this by putting one driveshaft inside the other, saving space and weight and making it possible for a complex, permanently engaged system to function on a small car. Vorsprung durch Technik, baby!