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Curbside Classic: 1988 Merkur Scorpio – Yes, I Finally Found One!

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True story: I’ve never been more dumbfounded at finding a Curbside Classic than I was when I spotted this Merkur Scorpio two weeks ago. Ever since I learned of this car over a decade ago, I’ve made it my great quest to find one. Unfortunately, selling just over 22,000 examples in North America, now almost three decades ago, the chances of finding one in existence, in any condition, are slim to none.

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Truckstop Classic: 1960 Studebaker Champ – Just Needs Some Fresh Horsepower

(first posted 7/6/2011)    No, this multi-hued Studebaker Champ is not trying to be artistic. Its cab appears to have been stitched together out of a number of junkyard Champs (Anderson Bros. is a truck junkard, after all). And rather appropriate, because Studebaker stitched the Champ together out of the body dies in its junkyard out back, more or less. Sounds a bit harsh, but as we’ve seen over and over, when it comes to the dying years of the independents, necessity is the mother of desperate acts of cobbling up things from whatever one has on hand. Or can beg from someone else. Now this particular one is also missing some major 20th Century components, but fear not, this Champ has a very viable future in the 21st Century indeed. Read the rest of this entry »

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CC Outtake: Old Goat

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After sampling a 1971 Buick Skylark living the good life curbside earlier today, it is an appropriate time to take a sobering look at how the ravages of time have affected a nearby example of the Skylark’s more famous and desirable 1968-72 A-Body brother: a 1969 Pontiac GTO.  Spotted only about only 10 blocks from where the Skylark was parked and only a few days later, this GTO is at a very different stage in its life cycle, but possibly only a temporary one before it rises again.

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Curbside Fiction: The Unwitting Passenger

1975 thunderbird

(It’s been a while since we’ve seen what Louis is doing.  The last installment is here.)

Louis Broderick could feel his consciousness fading away.  Bent over the cold tile floor, the gorilla sized arm around his neck was continuing its unrelenting push into his windpipe.  He was desperately needing air and his world was starting to spin and grow dim.

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CC Capsule: Beefy Buick

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The emergence from hibernation of classic cars this spring has been inhibited in Washington, DC and the mid-Atlantic region by weeks of continuous rains worthy of Washington State and the Pacific Northwest, but the few days of fair weather have brought out the annual street and curbside display of drivable classics.  Among the usual Mustangs, Corvettes, and other commonly seen muscle machines was a relatively infrequently encountered example: one of Buick’s 1968-72 A-Bodies.  A 1971 based on its grille, this Buick from the muscle car era added a rather menacing presence to the common downtown traffic of modern sedans and SUVs.

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Automotive Histories: Mazda’s Amati Division – Is It Better To Have Loved And Lost, Or To Never Have Loved At All?

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Honda, Toyota and Nissan had all launched luxury divisions by the dawn of the nineties and Mazda saw no reason why they couldn’t launch one of their own, too. Like an envious younger sibling that wanted to do what the older kids were doing, Mazda excitedly prepared to launch its new luxury division, to be called Amati (Latin for “to love”). Its shareholders, like stern parents, had to tell them they couldn’t go out and play. Read the rest of this entry »

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Truckstop Classic: 1953 Diamond T Model 323 – A Rare Diamond In The Rough

(first posted 7/4/2011. Updated)   This Diamond T Model 323 is a rare find these days. My search of the web brings up little on this truck, so I’m going to have to piece together a bit of history on it as best as I can. (Update: thanks to a comment left here, more details were filled in and updated). I’m not even sure of the year (I forgot to shoot the manufacturer’s plate), but it seems that the 323 likely appeared in about 1953, a successor to the similar 322 that first premiered the new cab style in 1950 1/2. Diamond Ts had a legendary reputation, as being particularly well built trucks.  But first, a bit of Diamond T history, and a glorious one it is: Read the rest of this entry »

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Vintage Picture Outtake: Lunchtime, Then And Now

Fairfax Roy Rogers 1980 B

Few things capture the aura of a bygone time like a photograph of an everyday scene.  And this picture of a restaurant in Fairfax, Virginia from 1980 serves as a good illustration.  Readers from the U.S. East Coast may recognize the restaurant as a Roy Rogers franchise, a fast food restaurant popular in the 1970s and ’80s.  The parking lot provides a good snapshot of cars at a bustling restaurant 36 years ago.

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CC Outtake: 2001 Jeep Cherokee Sport – The Fewer Doors, The Fewer Buyers

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I don’t even need to bother searching for production figures — it’s clear that Jeep sold far fewer 2-door XJ Cherokees than 4-door, especially among the face-lifted 1997-2001 versions. It’s interesting to think that there was a time when the majority of SUVs available on the market only had two doors.

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Rampside Classic: BAC/Sud Aviation Concorde – Before You Leave, You Arrive

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Forty years ago today, two aircraft landed at Washington Dulles Airport.  The supersonic age had arrived, and with it a true design and technology icon. The Spitfire, the Hurricane, the Harrier, the Vulcan, the Lancaster – all are significant aircraft and arguably icons  each with a deserved place in history, alongside so many others – the 707, the 737 and the 747, the B52, the DC-3 and DC-8, the Constellation and too many others to list. But one aircraft stands out so much it needs no introduction. It does not even need the definite article. Truly, Concorde is a case apart. Read the rest of this entry »

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Truckstop Classics Festival Kick-Off: The Official Curbside Classic Truck Sales Lot And 1941 Ford COE

(first posted 7/1/2011)    Here in Havana, Oregon, in addition to the Official CC Car Sales Lot we also have the Official CC Truck Sales Lot for every trucking need. Facing Hwy 99 just a mile or so past the car lot is this multi-hued patina-rich array of vintage trucks for sale. They’re ready for work, mostly; although a few might need a key component or two before they’re back earning their daily keep. But each one has a very colorful story to tell, too much so to compress into one very long post, so we’ll take them in a daily dose: Truckstop Classics. And we’ll start today with the first one, that venerable white 1941 Ford COE. Read the rest of this entry »

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Curbside Classic: 1968 Ford LTD – Peak Ford Hate Turns To…

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In 1968, I was fifteen, rebellious and insolent. I was a smoker, and my intoxicant of choice late that year switched over from alcohol to marijuana, and soon LSD. I had very strong opinions on all sorts of subjects, most of all the Vietnam war and other related socio-political issues. And in terms of cars, my long-simmering anti-Ford bias came into full bloom, directed most of all at their 1968 full size cars. They were ugly, bland, boring, boxy, klutzy, pretentious, slow, dull, out-of date, and just reeked of all the values I was railing against.

Almost fifty years later, it’s time to make amends. I hope I’m finally up to it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Service Center Classics: Not New; Not Classic Just Yet

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Last Thursday I had the Corsa serviced. As it’s still on Opel warranty, I took it to the dealer’s service center in Tel Aviv (that photo above showing the entrance to the garage, is taken from the dash-cam video). Read the rest of this entry »

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CC Capsule: Monday Morning Rarities – Suzuki Wagon R+

Suzuki Wagon Rplus

It seems like there is a never-ending stream of niche vehicles that find their way to Australia hoping they will catch on, such as this over-engined (a whopping 1000 cc compared to its native 660 cc!), over-sized Kei car.  And what better colour for such an odd-ball car than purple?

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Dealer Classic: 1997 Toyota Paseo Convertible – Quiero dar un paseo, pero no quiero comprar este coche.

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If you crave a comprehensive history about the 1997 Toyota Paseo Convertible, keep on walking, because this is among the last cars I’d be willing to buy, drive, or otherwise be seen in.  I’m also not all that keen on researching every last detail regarding its genesis and eventual execution.  It is, however, a somewhat nonconforming addition to the local used car lot, which is reason enough to give it a quick once over.

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