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Automotive History (Japan Edition): 1996 Toyota Classic – Peak Retro (Part 1)

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This past couple of months I’ve been really getting into Japanese cars. Not the usual faire mind, but the really odd ones that are not commonly seen unless you’re either in Japan or on another country with lax import restrictions or particularly shade importers (I’m in the latter category). So I thought about sharing some of the ones I’ve found particularly interesting. First up on the list are two retro-styled Toyota’s that took the concept of “retro” and took it to its logical extreme. Let’s start with the ugliest of the two, shall we?

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Curbside Classic: 1990 Toyota Previa/Tarago – The First and Final Frontier For The Space Pod

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Rover Sterling. Ford Scorpio. Nissan Cube. These are all cars that have been successful in one market, but have flopped in another. You can add to that list the Toyota Previa/Tarago. Toyota’s daringly styled and intriguingly packaged minivan failed to eke out a significant portion of minivan market share in North America, and yet simultaneously became Australia’s best-selling minivan for many years.

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CC Outtake: Volvo PV 544 – No, It’s Not 1969

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This old Volvo PV 544 with a load on its roof takes me back to the late sixties and early seventies, when these cars were very popular with youthful owners, as a faster alternative to a VW Beetle. My brother’s best friend had one, and I used to love riding in it, hearing the throb of its engine, and watching the long shift lever move in relationship to the engine’s torque output.

My full CC on the 444/544 is here

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Curbside Classic: 1956 Chrysler Windsor Town & Country – You’ve Come A Long Way

(first posted 3/20/2012)   Chrysler had indeed come a long way from the dowdy boxes K.T. Keller insisted on for the late 1940s and early 1950s. But before the flamboyant plumage of the second wave of The Foward Look, These Million Dollar Look wagons added a posh touch to a few select well to do driveways around the country.

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Cohort DIY Outtake: Plymouth Laser

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It’s past my bedtime, but I’m going to post this Laser found by Cohort cjcz92, and let you add the commentary. Let’s just say it was one of the Diamond Star triplets, along with the Mitsubishi Eclipse and Eagle Talon. I did a CC on the Eclipse hereRead the rest of this entry »

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CC Outtake: 1939 Chevrolet Truck With Twin Toronado V8 Drivetrains – Thank You Stephanie

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Friday 7:15 PM.  Temp: 102° F.  30th Ave Exit of I-5. Headed to the river, for our nightly hike along its cool shady banks to our little (semi)secret swimming hole.

Stephanie: Oooh; look at that cute old truck at the gas station over there. You need to shoot it. 

Paul: I can’t be bothered; I’ve shot a few of those already, and I can already tell it’s anything but original. There’s so many of these old resto-mod trucks sitting on a modern pickup truck chassis. 

Stephanie: Oh, but look at the cute little tiny canoe on the trailer.

Paul: Whatever; I want to get to to the water.

And so I drove on, and made the turn toward Mt. Pisgah. But after a 100 yards or so, something about that truck, which I only saw for a moment from some distance, called to me. Or maybe I felt guilty about the cute little canoe. I made a U-turn, and pulled into the gas station. Good call.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Curbside Classic: 1996-99 Toyota Starlet – It’s a Car!!

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When the 2012 Yaris was released in America, it was decided that it should have a lavish marketing campaign. Unfortunately, when it came to actually do it they came upon the realization that there was absolutely nothing to actually say about the car apart from the fact that it was a car. And this being the same people that later brought you “Grounded to the ground” they decided that was good enough, so the slogan for the Yaris became “It’s a car!”. I wonder if they could’ve done much more with the last Starlet. Probably not.

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Saturday Cinema: Ingenuity In Action – The Long Road To The 1959 NHRA Nationals

(first posted 7/17/2011)   Here’s a quarter-mile trip down memory lane. A professionally-made film documenting getting to and participating in the 1959 Nationals in Detroit, in the tail end of the era before before the big-bucks pros dominated the sports. Lots of unique hot vintage machinery, not to mention the plain old cars.

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Cohort On The Go Outtake: Roadmaster Road Train

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CC Commenter haroldinpatrick shot this incredible lash-up of two Buick Roadmasters “sweaving” on I-85, and left it in the comments at today’s Cadillac Fleetwood post. These deserve their own post, needless to say.  Read the rest of this entry »

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CC Outtake: Suddenly It’s 1970 and 1980!

 

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The inner city is a tough environment for cars, with stop-and-go driving, potholed streets, lack of garages, and break-ins conspiring to send most cars to early deaths, but on one street in Washington, DC two upright European sedans 30 to 50 years of age continue to live the curbside life.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Cohort On The Go Outtake: 1993-1996 Cadillac Fleetwood – The End Of The Road For That Storied Name

Cadillac Fleetwood low

William Rubano caught a final-series Cadillac Fleetwood in a rather unfortunate shot, one that really accentuates the basic problems with this car. Read the rest of this entry »

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CC Outtake: 1981 or 1982 Chevrolet LUV Diesel – A Survivor

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Old Japanese pickup trucks come to Eugene in order to find immortality. There’s folks here who will give these tough old workhorses the luv, care and feeding (biodiesel, in this case), so that they can stay productive members of society well beyond their expected lifespan. This Chevy LUV, otherwise known as an Isuzu Faster (or P’up), is perhaps the ultimate representative of the breed, as these Isuzu diesel engines seemingly won’t stop, ever.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Challenge of the Day: “Say One Nice Thing” – AMC & Chrysler Edition

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The Curbside Classic Cohort is one of the most respectful and friendly communities on the entire internet. I can think of no other website where I actually read the comments. You guys and girls help make this my favourite website, and I can’t read an article on here without reading the lively discussions and conversations that flow from it. So, I have a Challenge of the Day for the Cohort. I will present to you a series of vehicles. Unlike your favourite FM radio station, this is not a collection of the greatest hits from the 70s, 80s, 90s and Now. This will be a collection of misfires, failed starts, deadly sins and just in general, cars that don’t get much love. Your challenge? Say one nice thing.

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Auto-Biography/CC Outtake: Studebaker R Series Pickup (1949-1953) – Near Death Experience

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I’ve got a soft spot for these Studebaker pickups, despite the fact that one tried to kill me once. They were the most advanced pickup design-wise in 1949, with Studebaker taking the bold step of widening the cargo box a bit and eliminating the running board for the bed, which made it look pretty sleek for the times.  Read the rest of this entry »

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CC Outtake: VW T3 Transporter Double-Cabin Tristar: Much Rarer Than I Realized

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As Amazonray and I were crossing this grassy parking lot at the Powerland Museum a few weeks back, I peeled off a few quick shots of this double-cabin (“DoKa”) VW T3 Transporter, given that it’s pretty unusual in the US. As best as I can tell, VW did not import these officially to the US, due to the infamous 25% chicken tax. But it turns out to be even rarer than I thought.  Read the rest of this entry »