Rare Rides: The Practical and Luxurious 1979 Mercury Zephyr Villager

Today’s Rare Ride comes from a time when the family wagon segment was alive and well and Ford was eager to use its brand new Fox platform on as many vehicles as possible.

Presenting the wood-clad Mercury Zephyr Villager wagon, from 1979.

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Rare Rides: The Unfortunate 1998 Infiniti Q45

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.

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Rare Rides: The 2005 Ford Saleen Focus S121 - an Improved Hot Hatch

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.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: Unpopular V8 Sedans From 2016

Commenter Chocolatedeath is absolutely adamant we talk about today’s trio of unpopular sedans. They’ve all got V8s, rear-drive, and found few buyers in their day, but that won’t stop us from choosing one among them to take home.

So, without further adieu, let’s take a look at Chocolatedeath’s car comparison, shall we?

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Rare Rides: The Practical and Elegant Lamborghini LM002

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.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: Three Family Sedans From 1989

Today’s trio of sedans was suggested by an old MotorWeek review of the new-for-’89 Maxima. Let’s pit that fresh-faced midsizer against the more established Taurus and the more luxurious Mazda 929.

Which is worth a Buy?

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Rare Rides: The 1984 Ferrari 400 GTi - Luxurious Ruching for Four

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.

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Rare Rides: The Grandiose Cadillac Eldorado Seville, From 1960

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.

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QOTD: Making Considerable Model Improvements?

Some new vehicles remain mired in the muck of mediocrity, never to emerge in an improved form before their inevitable replacement. Others are able to reinvent themselves and become better vehicles than they were previously. They rise like a phoenix, changing from caterpillar to butterfly (or some other trite verbiage).

Today we talk about those vehicle models which raised the bar over their predecessor.

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Rare Rides: The 1969 De Tomaso Mangusta - Building a Brand

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.

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Rare Rides: The 1988 Mitsubishi Wagon, Forgotten Long Ago

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.

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Rare Rides: An Incredibly Rare 1965 Lancia Flaminia Super Sport Zagato

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.

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Rare Rides: The 1948 Willys-Overland Station Wagon - the First SUV?

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.

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Rare Rides: The Especially Forgotten 1978 Dodge Aspen Kit Car

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.

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Rare Rides: A 'Clean Florida Title' Fiat Barchetta From 1997

There was one prior case where a too hot to title European car appeared on these pages, and it was a boring Citroën hatchback. Today’s forbidden, ahem, “legal” fruit is a bit more zesty. Presenting an underage Fiat Barchetta from 1997.

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  • Dwford How many more wealthy performance car buyers does Chevy think they can drag into their showroom full of middle of the road crossovers? I guess they will find out
  • SCE to AUX It's been done before, with varied success:Ford --> LincolnHyundai --> GenesisGM --> XLR (Cadillac), ELR (Cadillac)VW Touareg --> Porsche CayenneI suspect GM is trying to avoid the Mustang fiasco (which is working for Ford, BTW), by not making the Corvette name a sub-brand - only its hardware.(In the Mustang's case, YTD 46% of "Mustang" branded vehicles are the Mach-E, but they share no hardware. GM's plan is much different and less controversial.)Back to the sub-brand: the XLR and ELR experiments were total duds, borrowing hardware from the Corvette and Volt respectively. Both sullied Cadillac's name - not Chevy's.
  • Art Vandelay I don’t care what they do with the brand. But I do want to see how a mid engined platform spawns a 4 door and a crossover
  • Varezhka If they’re going to do this, might as well go all the way and make it a standalone brand instead of a Chevy sub-brand. They already have a unique emblem, after all. Shouldn’t there be enough empty former Hummer, Saab, or Cadillac dealer showrooms to house them?
  • Steve Biro Not only do I not want this technology in any vehicle that I own, I will not have it. As in I will never buy it or, if forced by circumstances to accept its presence, I will find a way to disarm it.