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.
I’ve always enjoyed the healthy dose of nostalgia which accompanies old advertisements. This is doubly so when any of them are car-related. The style, the jingles, pricing, long-dead nameplates – it’s all there. And through an accidental YouTube discovery, hundreds are in a single location.
Our last Rare Ride was a convertible Cadillac by the name of Allanté. It mixed American power and engineering with a body designed in Italy. Today we take a look at something with the same sort of principles, but with the additional quirkiness of a British backstory.
And it’s much, much rarer than the Cadillac.
Back in June, Rare Rides profiled a different blue British beauty in the form of the Aston Martin Lagonda. Down in the comments section, TTAC reader Heino requested coverage of a Hooper-bodied Bentley.
Frankly, I forgot about the request in short order. But it sprang back to mind as soon as I saw the awkward visage of what would become today’s Rare Ride: a Bentley Hooper Empress II. Ready for a history lesson?
Your Rare Ride today is a quite old 1981 Subaru GL wagon. It comes complete with a manual transmission, brownish paint, 4×4 drivetrain, brougham Desert Fox trim, and plaid seats. I figured you wouldn’t be too interested in seeing it.
Oh, who am I kidding? You all clicked through as soon as you saw the headline image, and you’ll be glad you did.
Initially, I drove to Penmar Golf Course expecting to find a Rolls-Royce.
My partner Leslie (a fine car spotter herself and the originator of the “Parked in Drive” name) mentioned seeing a swoopy car with a “flying lady” radiator mascot parked there for sale. When I pulled into the parking lot and saw this tan-on-brown behemoth, it was clear the Rolls was gone, replaced by something far more fascinating.
All the typical cues — separate fenders, landau top, whitewall tires — indicating a classic car also placed it in that most self-contradictory of categories: “Neo-Classic.” The coupe’s “bustle-back” trunk initially reminded me of the last Cadillac design approved by Bill Mitchell, the second-generation Cadillac Seville (which, in turn, took inspiration from t he mid-1930s “Razor Edge” Bentley), and gave me a useful spread of dates to search: 1980-1985.
Since the 1980s, draconian federal importation laws have meant enthusiasts in the United States must wait a full 25 years before some of their favorite brand’s models are legal on these shores. And every year, groups of enthusiasts take to the internet to contemplate what cars will be available for importation with the turn of the new year. The arrival of each new calendar year then becomes a celebration of the past, a revisit of forsaken models, a festival of other-market obscurity.
The Land of the Rising Sun is becoming more than just a source for tuners looking for their next drift car. That’s right, Japanese cars are now collectible.
Want to Buy a Classic Porsche? Here Are 10 Limited Edition 924s That Aren't Selling for Bonkers Prices
There are few better ways to get instant recognition as a connoisseur of cars than to drive a classic. People will applaud your discerning taste, your unique choice in an age of appliance automobiles. Good for you!
You’ve decided to get something German because you like your 1970s classic to run. And you’d like a sports car, which pretty much makes Porsche your default choice. Few models now generate the collective automotive “OOoooo!” of the air-cooled 911. It’s so cool, it’s backwards!
But then you find out what classic 911s cost. If you’ve been living under a rock recently, prices for classic and rare 911s are through the roof. One of the last great air-cooled models just sold at RM Sotheby’s London Auction for £1,848,000. I’ll save you some quick math: that’s $2,460,242 USD at time of writing.
As you wipe the coffee from your screen, allow me to suggest it doesn’t have to be this way. You, too, can have an obscure, classic Porsche for only around 1/1000th the price of an air-cooled 911.
We have 5 cars and 4 drivers. My wife and I drive the three oldest vehicles: 2003 LS430, 2005 Z4, and 2000 Frontier. My question is regarding collision insurance on the Lexus and the BMW. I currently carry full coverage on both and am considering dropping collision coverage to save money.
The Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC 5.0 isn’t a dream car, because it’s obscurity and touring car blueprint is a relative buzzkill. But this Bauhaus-worthy super coupe is a homologated racer much like it’s 300 SL forefather. I’ll skip the basics to focus on unit #1576: a grey market import from a USAF officer stationed in Germany. The current owner, Leif Skare, let me drive this meticulously kept, nearly stock (period correct 15” wheels and AMG front spoiler aside) SLC 5.0 before it heads back to Europe. Perhaps the SLC 5.0 is a dream car, when viewed in the right light. In the right place.
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- Carsofchaos Bike lanes are in use what maybe 10 to 12 hours a day? The other periods of the day they aren't in use whatsoever. A bike can carry one person and a vehicle can carry multiple people. It's very simple math to figure out that a bike lane in no way shape or form will handle more people than cars will.The bigger issue is double parked delivery vehicles. They are often double parked and taking up lanes because there are cars parked on the curb. You combine that with a bike lane and pedestrians Crossing wherever they feel like it and it's a recipe for disaster. I think if we could just go back to two lanes of traffic things would flow much better. I started coming to the city in 2003 before a lot of these bike lanes were implemented and the traffic is definitely much worse now than it was back then. Sadly at this point I don't really think there is a solution but I can guarantee that congestion pricing will not fix this problem.
- Charles When I lived in Los Angeles I saw a 9-5 a few times and instanly admired the sweeping low slug aerodynamic jet tech influenced lines and all that beautiful glass. The car was very different from what I expected from a Saab even though the 900 Turbo was nice. A casual lady friend had a Saab Sonnet, never drove or rode in it but nonetheless chilled my enthusiasm and I eventually forgot about Saabs. In the following years I have had seven Mercedes's, three or four Jaguars even two Daimlers both the 250 V-8 and the massive and powerful Majestic Major. Daily drivers of a brand new 300ZX 2+2 and Lincolns, plus a few diesel trucks. Having moved to my big farm in central New York, trucks and SUV's are the standard, even though I have a Mercedes S500 in one of my barns. Due to circumstances with my Ford Explorer and needing a second driver I found the 2006 9-5 locally. Very little surface rust, none undercarriage, original owner, garage kept, wife driver and all the original literature and a ton of paid receipts and history. The car just turned 200,000 miles and I love it. Feels new like I'm back in my Nissan 300ZX with a lot more European class and ready power with the awesome turbo. So fun to drive, the smooth power and torque is incredible! Great price paid to justify going through the car and giving her everything she needs, i.e., new tires, battery, all shocks, struts, control arms, timing chain and rust removable to come, plus more. The problem now is I want to restore it and likely put it in my concrete barn and only drive in good weather. As to the writer, Alex Dykes, I take great exception calling the 9-5 Saab "ugly," finding myself looking back at her beauty and uniqueness. Moreover, I get new looks from others not quite recognizing, like the days out west with my more expensive European cars. There are Saabs eclipsing 300K rourinely and one at a million miles and I believe one car with 500K on the original engine. So clearly, this is a keeper, in love already with my SportCombi. I want to be in that elite club.
- Marky S. I own the same C.C. XSE Hybrid AWD as in this article, but in Barcelona Red with the black roof. I love my car for its size, packaging, and the fact that it offers both AWD and Hybrid technology together. Visibility is impressive, as is its small turning circle. I consider the C.C. more of a "station wagon" by proportion, rather than an “SUV.” It is fun to drive, with zippy response and perky pick-up. It is a pleasant car to drive and ride in. It is not trying to be a “Butch Off-Roader”, or a cosseting “Luxury Cruiser.” Those are not its goals or purpose. The Corolla Cross XSE Hybrid AWD is a wonderful All-Purpose Car (O.K. – “SUV” if you must hear me say it!) with a combination of all the features it has at a reasonable price.
- Ernesto Perez There's a line in the movie Armageddon where Bruce Willis says " is this the best idea NASA came up with?". Don't quote me. I'm asking is this the best idea NY came up with? What's next? Charging pedestrians to walk in certain parts of the city? Every year the price for everything gets more expensive and most of the services we pay for gets worse. Obviously more money is not the solution. What we need are better ideas, strategies and inventions. You want to charge drivers in the city - then put tolls on the free bridges like the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges. There's always a better way or product. It's just the idiots on top think they know best.
- Carsofchaos The bike lanes aren't even close to carrying "more than the car lanes replaced". You clearly don't drive in Midtown Manhattan on a daily like I do.