Recent Posts

COAL: 2002 Audi TT Quattro Roadster – The Impulse Purchase

Our Audi TT and a distant cousin.

It all started with a bad test grade in the spring of 2015. Our oldest son Josh, then in 8th grade, had just bombed a math test, and as a result we had grounded him from his Xbox. Josh was 14 1/2 at the time, was about a year away from getting his learner’s permit (which in Ohio you can get as young as 15 1/2). Since Josh has a hard time envisioning any kind of entertainment other than video games, Kristen and I decided to occupy him by looking around online at what kind of car he could expect to get for his first car the following year. Our price range was about $5,000, so we did some Googling to see what you can get for that kind of money.

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Indianapolis 500 Official Trucks: Special Editions 1974-1984

While reading JP Cavanagh’s excellent series on Indy Pace cars, I noticed when discussing the 1979 Mustang Pace car he also mentioned the 1979 Ford Official Truck.  Reading about the 1979 Ford Indy 500 Official Truck got me thinking, why not write a quick piece on the other special trucks of the Indy 500?  While the Ford was the only truck mentioned in the Indy Pace Car articles, there were a number of other special pickups utilized during the Indy 500 over the years.

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Vintage Snapshot: The Lowrider Corvair and Its Tall Friends

I’m feeling another wave of Corvair love coming on; like in a Corvair Fest or such. We have so many fab articles on it in our archives, and I still have a few new things to add. Hopefully soon. This vintage snapshot really brings home a key point about the Corvair: it was shockingly low. How low? Take a guess. Read the rest of this entry »


Automotive History: Indianapolis 500 Pace Cars (Part 8, 1980-84)


(Originally published May 24, 2013)  As we accelerate  into “Turn One” of Race Weekend, we continue our look back at previous Indianapolis 500 Pace Cars.  We have reached a point in Pace Car history where, with rare exceptions, this was an annual GM event.  However, there  certainly was more variety than the unbroken string of Chevrolets we’ve seen over the past twelve years.

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Bus Stop Classics: Hino S’Elega – If Lexus Built a Bus…

Think of Toyota and the first thing that’s likely to pop into your mind is a Corolla or a Camry.  But the Toyota Group, like most Asian conglomerates, has an amazing number of subsidiaries and affiliates – you may be surprised to know that here in Japan you can buy a Toyota house – supposedly built with the same precision as an LS 460 and the sturdiness of a Land Cruiser.   But as we’re Curbside and not Neighborhood Classics, we’ll focus on Toyota’s wheeled products.  One of the company’s major affiliates is Hino Motors, their large vehicle manufacturer and a member of the Toyota family since 1967 – and one of Hino’s most popular models is its large intercity and touring coach, the S’Elega.  Read the rest of this entry »


COAL: 1978 Mercury Zephyr Z-7 – My First COAL

(note: the cars in this COAL series have not been in chronological order. ED)      My first car.  A friend saw this car for sale in a nearby trailer park.  He noted that the price was very, very low.  Like high school student-low.  So after school, we got on our motorcycles and went to have a look.  We found a two-tone, tan and yellow 1978 Mercury Zephyr Z-7.  It was a 302/automatic car with a yellow interior and yellow vinyl seats.  At the time, it was only seven years old, but it was rusty.  The seller was honest and mentioned a coolant leak, I’d have to add water to get it home. I was elated, excited.  Giddy about buying my first car!

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Vintage Snapshot: CA Beach Scene, Circa 1964?

I just stumbled into this great vintage shot at an unlikely place, a Corvair-themed Youtube video. This is a terrific shot that so perfectly captures why and how California invariably set the trends for the future. Converted buses, campers and vans. Vintage woodie wagon. Imports. Corvairs (2). And lots of station wagons. No date was given, and I’m guessing at the year; but I think that’s probably within a year or so. Read the rest of this entry »


Curbside Capsule: 1986 Toyota Tercel – Eugene-Mobile of Yesteryear

When we think of this second generation Tercel (L20) the tendency is to focus on the wagon, especially the 4WD version. We’ve covered it here and a few other times too, and it has become rather iconic. But its hatchback sibling has gotten short shrift hereabouts, so it’s time to give it a bit of Eugenian love. And I can assure you, there’s plenty of love for these hereabouts, or was, as even these little cockroaches are starting to get a bit thin on the ground. Read the rest of this entry »


CC Global: 2017 WSI XXL Truck Show – Part Three, Special And Heavy Transport

Special and heavy transport, one might say the final boss of road transport, a job done by specialists. In this final part of the 2017 WSI Truck Show tour we walk along some of the heaviest and most powerful on-road vehicles.

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Automotive History: Indianapolis 500 Pace Cars (Part 7, 1975-79)


(Originally published May 17, 2013)  We Midwestern CC contributors are still recovering from our Iowa confab, but are back nonetheless, with the latest installment of our Indianapolis 500 Pace Car retrospective.  The last half of the 1970s would see Pace Cars that were (mostly) far from showroom-stock; they were, however, an interesting bunch.

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Automotive History: Shockingly Low Volume Production Cars – The Pontiac Edition

Welcome once again to our journey into the world of shockingly low volume production cars.  Today, we are moving out of the low-priced field a smidgeon by looking at Pontiac.

As before, this scrutiny is centered around the time period of 1946 to 1995.  While this list is fairly extensive, it isn’t necessarily comprehensive as it’s always possible one slipped through the fingers.  Interestingly, Pontiac does not report anything below the magic threshold volume of 1,000 until much later than most; in fact, it’s in the midst of the Nixon Administration. Read the rest of this entry »


Curbside Classic: 1996 Chevrolet Beretta – A Dash Of Sportiness

(first posted 8/5/2012)   Some cars are invisible. Due to large production numbers and affordable pricing, certain cars are seen all over the place. Slowly and surely though, rust, deferred maintenance and fender benders take them off the road – and nobody notices. The Chevrolet Beretta (and its L-body Corsica cousin) is such a car. You never even notice they’re gone, until one day you spot one and finally realize: I haven’t seen one of those in years! Read the rest of this entry »


Automotive History: Shockingly Low Volume Production Cars – The Mercury Edition

Welcome to the Mercury Edition of this ongoing series exploring low volume production cars.

As usual, we are looking at those models built between 1946 and 1995 having production volumes of less than 1,000.  Similar to Ford, Mercury reports sales by body – there is no breaking it down by engine like Chevrolet.

In a fashion that perhaps mimics the peaks and valleys of Mercury itself, many years are not represented while there are multiple occasions of several models appearing during one, single model year.

This list is perhaps one of the most varied so far, so let’s take a look.

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Automotive History: Indianapolis 500 Pace Cars (Part 6, 1970-74)


(Originally published May 10, 2013)  The 1970s marked a beginning of a change in Indianapolis 500 Pace Cars.  As the ’70s unfolded, the undertaking of supplying a Pace Car, along with all of the other vehicles used in connection with the race, would become more and more a duty of General Motors.  Still, the early 70s certainly provided its own kind of variety, as well as the most famous (infamous?) Pace Car of them all.

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Curbside Classic Driving Impressions: 1967 Corvette L79 327/350 Convertible – A 50 Year-Old Dream Fulfilled

hood not closed all the way from our ogling the engine

What guy my age hasn’t wanted to take a 327/350 4-speed Corvette Sting Ray convertible out for a brisk drive, never mind own one? Well, it was a long wait, but well worth it. CC reader Rob Tessier showed up at our Nashville CC Meet-Up last June in this pristine Elkhart-blue family heirloom bought by his dad, sporting the desirable 350 hp L79 327, and the four-speed. We all ogled it at the parking lot of the Lane Motor Museum in the morning. And as we were leaving to head to our dinner in downtown Nashville, Rob asked if I wanted to drive it there? My response to that question was even faster than the 327’s response to a stab at its throttle. Read the rest of this entry »