With it being below freezing outside my window right now with snow all over the place, I thought it the perfect time to remember the walk I took around Antibes-Juan-Les-Pins in the South of France this summer while my family was at the beach. I was sunburned enough so decided to get some exercise.
(first published 4/25/2012) This is it. The biggest Thunderbird ever built, a Mark IV in disguise. It’s hard to believe this car is related to the trim, befinned 1955-57 two seat T-Birds, but the Seventies changed a lot of people–and cars. Read the rest of this entry »
The same word can conjure up different images for different people. Take ‘Bermuda’, for example. A sun worshiper immediately thinks of pink-sand beaches and tropical paradise. To clothiers and white-belt wearing geezers, Bermuda means a pair of shorts. Farmers have visions of big Bermuda onions. And for Car Guys like us, the name recalls the one-year-only, top-of-the-line station wagon from that most unfortunate of of nameplates, Edsel.
I needed wheels, and borrowing my dad’s old Swift wasn’t cutting it for me. I had flirted with the idea of a spicy Italian, but my pragmatism kicked in and I decided that something cheaper to repair and service was the way to go. Still, I didn’t want to buy something too ordinary, and I’ll admit a small part of me wanted to selfishly buy something that most of you, my fellow Curbsiders could not… I mean, altruistically buy something most of you, my fellow Curbsiders could not, so that you can live vicariously through my experiences. Yes, that’s it. A practical Australian purchase sounded like just the ticket, and a little bit of national pride played into my decision too.
I was 36 years old. I had a wife, two kids and a mortgage, not to mention a 120-mile daily commute. I needed to take a new approach to my car purchases. What I was doing was definitely not working…it was time to balance practicality and romanticism in car buying. As much as I wanted to be the guy with the old school Curbside Classic American iron as a daily driver, I no longer had the time, money or mechanical skills to live this dream.
(First published December 29, 2011) Now it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the 1981 Escort SS very quickly became the Escort GT in late 1982. And not just because it didn’t sell well, but perhaps because there was a bit of, um, complaining from another certain party that rather thought of that set of letters as its own? Never mind that the first year SS was nothing but an appearance package, still sporting the 69 hp CVH 1.6. And good luck trying to find any pictures of one: I gave poor google the dry heaves trying. This is it. On to the the diesel: Read the rest of this entry »
(first posted in 2007) I was fifteen and had never driven a car on the street before. The parents were away for the weekend in my father’s Dart. And there I was, looking out over the long hood of the ’65 Dodge Coronet wagon towards the far end of the driveway and the street, the fast-idling 318 V8 taunting my quivering foot with its gentle tug against the brakes. I looked down at the shift quadrant: I was in R. But very nearby was D. That stands for Drive. So I did. Read the rest of this entry »
February is a magical time in Palm Springs. Glorious weather, the McCormick vintage and collector car auction, and Modernism Week. For those of you unfamiliar with the last, Modernism Week is a ten-day celebration of all things retro and mid-century, part of which is the Vintage Travel Trailer Show. Which brings us to the subject of this article: the estimable Wally Byam, founder of Airstream.
Free from its relationship with Ford, Mazda is forging ahead as an independent against unfavorable odds. Perhaps it’s only natural for a carmaker born out of Hiroshima’s postwar ashes, but the company is more well-acquainted with struggle than many of its Japanese counterparts. Unlike Honda, which never had to rely on incentives during its heyday, or Toyota and Nissan, who could move massive volumes of cars, Mazda was often in the unenviable position of importing the bulk of its cars from Japan and frequently offering discounts.
Max.P. found what he calls “The Ultimate Delivery Beater”, in the form of an $800 1985 Caprice wagon. If you were driving over 20,000 miles per year delivering food, and wanted to maximize your income by minimizing expenses, what would you look for in the ultimate delivery car? Read the rest of this entry »
While it became clear instantly that delivery driving at a busy restaurant would be the most lucrative form of income for a college undergraduate (full time drivers at good restaurants net between $30,000 to $40,000–about the average starting salary for my major), it also became painfully clear the brand new car I was diligently working to make monthly payments on was becoming a well-worn used car much too quickly.
With over 20,000 miles in the first year alone, multiple dings, thoroughly abused suspension and brakes, interior stains, and bumpers damaged in multiple places, I realized that my strippo Jetta was going to become one of those sad appliances that ends up at the Pick-and-Pull before its tenth birthday (aka: the fate of most Pontiac Sunfires ever built). Forget the cheap monthly payments… why spend $16,000 over all these years on something that will be edging close to beater territory by the time I finish grad school and get my first full-time office job?
Does Curbside Classic have the most comprehensive history of Crosley on the Internet? If not, we’re surely pretty high up on the list. Jeff Nelson’s excellent article on the history of the brand is a must-read if you want to know about America’s home-grown microcar company what went against everything that American manufacturers were doing (and brought us something that looked like it belonged in France). Now you too can experience a Crosley, provided you’re strong of stomach and wallet.
Rampside Classic: 1968 Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR3 – When It Is Easier To Stop And Land Than It Is To Land And Stop.
Here’s a thought for the day: Ever since man achieved powered flight, pilots and engineers have dreamt of taking off and landing vertically, but there has only been one successful vertical take-off jet aircraft. It is now over fifty years since it first flew, the newest examples are over a decade old, and it has not been directly replaced. It has achieved success in combat and peacekeeping roles, operating from airfields, aircraft carriers and gaps in the trees. At its heart is one of the world’s most famous jet engines, and an adaptation of it that is, like many great inventions, simple, effective and seemingly unimprovable. And its lead engineer was a man whose apprenticeship started before the First World War, in a carpenter’s shop, and whose earlier career covered aircraft from wooden gliders to the Hawker Hurricane and Typhoon–a quiet Englishman who turned to the idea of vertical take off and landing just to save his business from extinction. Read the rest of this entry »
I SUPPOSE this was bound to happen at some point: a eulogy to my departed BMW M Coupe. You all know the car; a small Z3-based coupe, with a 321 hp S50 M engine, developed by a renegade band of engineers to be the ultimate driving machine. It is the stuff of legends, and for a year it was mine.
Cast your mind back to when you were young and that first romance with the wrong sort. The one who taught you all those little things. Ordinary moments were transformed into something special. Your friends knew it would never work out, and secretly you knew they were right. That was the M Coupe and like Icarus, the wings did not hold. Let me explain.