By on August 6, 2019

Morgan is a carmaker for traditionalists who wear tweeds, enjoy wooden car frames, and shun modern technology. Its customers’ tobacco pipes are firmly pointed toward the past.

Seems like today’s Rare Ride is not for them. Presenting the 2007 Aero 8.

(Read More…)

By on July 10, 2019

Earlier this year, we took a look at the unique fastback style worn by the original Plymouth Barracuda. A few years after the Barracuda, British manufacturer Sunbeam decided to make their own miniaturized version. Don’t fear the Rapier.

(Read More…)

By on April 29, 2019

1979 MG Midget in California wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsBMC and then British Leyland churned out MG Midgets and near-identical Austin-Healey Sprites for 20 years, with the final example coming off the Abingdon line in 1980. Because project-grade Midgets still clutter garages, driveways, yards, and fields throughout the land and they’re not worth much, the clock runs out for many of them every year.

The next stop, usually, is among the Sephias and Jettas of the IMPORTS section at a self-service wrecking yard. Here’s a forlorn ’79 I spotted last week in California. (Read More…)

By on February 21, 2019

The Rare Rides series is fond of Aston Martin, and has previously featured a Lagonda, Virage, and a bespoke V8 shooting brake. Today we have a look at the closest the brand ever got to making a British Mustang.

It’s a V8 Volante from 1988.
(Read More…)

By on February 14, 2019

The Rare Rides series has featured a couple Lotus-related items before. The first was this Isuzu I-Mark RS, which was an Isuzu with some Lotus badges on it. Then came the Elite, which was a real Lotus. Today we take a look at the Elan, which mixes it up with Lotus badges and an Isuzu engine.

(Read More…)

By on February 4, 2019

1992 Jaguar XJ6 Vanden Plas Majestic in Colorado wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsJaguar XJ40s are so plentiful in U-Wrench-It yards that I don’t even notice them as I wander around searching for the elusive Suzuki Equator (no luck there, yet). In fact, none of the Jags I’ve photographed prior to today’s Junkyard Find have been XJ40s, but we’ve got a one-of-121-built super-rarity here in Denver: a genuine Vanden Plas Majestic! (Read More…)

By on January 28, 2019

Long before the Ford-based retro throwback began showing up on dealer lots, Jaguar produced a contemporary and modern sedan called the S-type. Let’s check out a brown example, this one hailing from 1966.
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By on January 25, 2019

MG marked a return to its roadster roots after a long slumber with its 1990s F model. Wanting more, they developed it into today’s Rare Ride, a TF from 2003.
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By on January 22, 2019

Ever wondered what a bespoke shooting brake might look like if its donor vehicle were a long-wheelbase convertible? Wonder no more, for today’s Rare Ride is just such a vehicle, and is also an Aston Martin.

(Read More…)

By on December 26, 2018

1976 MGB in California wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
In all of my decades of visiting junkyards, one thing has remained constant: I’ll see a handful of Fiat 124 Sport Spiders and MG MGBs every year, about the same number in 2018 as I saw each year in 2001 or 1987. Here’s the latest: a red ’76 convertible in a self-service wrecking yard in California’s Central Valley. (Read More…)

By on October 16, 2018

The Rare Rides series featured a vintage Aston Martin once before, when we took a look at the luxurious Lagonda sedan from 1984. Today we move forward in history a few years to see a luxurious, large coupe that’s more along the lines of what you’d expect from the Aston Martin brand.

It’s a Virage, from 1990.

(Read More…)

By on April 2, 2018

1969 Jaguar XJ6 in California wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The Series 1 Jaguar XJ, built for the 1968 through 1973 model years, sold fairly well in the United States but became a rare sight in self-service wrecking yards well before the 20th century was through. I photographed this ’69 in a Northern California yard all the way back in 2007, when I was busy harvesting clocks for my collection and gauges in general for my team’s 24 Hours of Lemons Volvo, and I think it’s time to share them. (Read More…)

By on October 2, 2017

1999 Jaguar XJR in California wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
Say it’s 1999 and you’re shopping for a powerful and flashy European luxury sedan. Do you spend $51,300 for a new Mercedes-Benz E430? $65,000 for an Audi A8 4.2? A gleaming BMW 740i with a $66,970 price tag? Or do you pony up $68,450 for the Jaguar XJR, knowing it will depreciate faster than Confederate money after Appomattox… and not caring, because you’re such a baller that you know you’ll get another Jag in a couple of years?

Today’s Junkyard Find, spotted in a Northern California self-service yard, shows us what happens to such a car when it ends up in the hands of its third or fourth owner. (Read More…)

By on September 19, 2017

Jaguar E-Type, Image: Steph Willems

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? (Read More…)

By on May 5, 2017

tvr griffith

It’s exciting times for the independent British automaker. TVR, which reappeared on the automotive scene in 2013 after an absence of seven years, plans to unveil a production sports car in September.

Apparently, many TVR aficionados were itching for an opportunity to get their hands on a boutique vehicle from the low-volume automaker, money in hand. When the company showcased a prototype at a private event, hundreds ponied up deposits for a vehicle that might appear bearing a familiar name. (Read More…)

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