Recent Posts
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Curbside Classic: 1988 Chrysler LeBaron Town & Country Turbo – Most Downsized Vehicle Of The Malaise Era?

Throughout its lengthy history, the Chrysler Town & Country was a vehicle that came in many different shapes and sizes. Yet throughout nearly eight decades of uninterrupted production (save for WWII), there was always at least one of two constants: 1) the Town & Country was Chrysler’s most family-oriented vehicle and/or 2) it was a “woodie” in one form or another. In many years, these two qualities happened to overlap, with one of those such being 1988.

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Curbside Outtake: 1980 Rover 3500 – Fulfilling My Duty To The CC Community

At CC, as a Curbivore I have various duties, primarily associated with European classics and the nostalgia of motors and motoring. But my real role in life, the reason I have breakfast every morning and carry a camera phone, the reason my Curbivore antennae are permanently powered up, is actually quite simple. Any Rover SD1, from 1976 to 1986, is a sighting to be, if at all possible, on the road or at a show, recorded and shared. Pretty much, it’s the law. For me, anyway. Read the rest of this entry »

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Curbside Classic: 1968 AMC Ambassador SST – When Borrowing Is A Deadly Sin

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(first posted 4/30/2014) Automakers have always been happy to borrow ideas from their competitors and proudly claim them as their own.  It’s a trick even the proudest of parents have pulled when conceiving a new model, and one which has given birth to a Deadly Sin on more than one occasion.  AMC, whose struggle has been well documented on Curbside Classic, found itself an unenviable position after the departure of its inimitable chairman, George Romney, who made hay by poking fun at the “dinosaurs in the driveway” produced by the Big Three, and exhorting the industry to make smaller cars.

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CC Outtake: Unused but not Abandoned Cadillac?

I had to go downtown this morning.

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Auction Classic: 1966 Buick Riviera GS – the best in Scottsdale 2018

 

 

So here it is. After nineteen articles and a few hundred cars profiled, I’m declaring this to be my favorite of all the vehicles I saw in January in Scottsdale at three auctions: a 1966 Buick Riviera GS. I would not necessarily expect anyone who is not me and wasn’t there to agree as it’s entirely based on my particular tastes and experience there. I’ll try to explain why this car captured my attention so intently. Read the rest of this entry »

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CC Rental Review: 2018 Dodge Grand Caravan – Old Faithful

In my recent review of the 2018 Kia Sedona, I mentioned that one of the terms of the rental provided by my Kia dealer was that I could not take it out of state.  Unfortunately, I had a pressing need to take a van several hundred miles away to collect my daughter and her possessions after a summer internship in North Carolina.  My dealer contacted the good people at Enterprise and I was put into another minivan for the weekend.

I wondered for several days what I might get.  A different Sedona?  One of the now discontinued Nissan Quests?   Or maybe I would get to experience one of the newer Siennas or the new Chrysler Pacifica.  I got . . . a Grand Caravan.

First thought: “Dammit.”  However, as the weekend progressed I came to appreciate the van on its own terms.  While it suffers from a number of deficiencies, it still does a thing or two that no other entrant in the segment can do.  And it turned out to be a good fit for my trip.

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Vintage Road Test: Car & Driver Tests The New 1964 Rambler American, Rather Unhappily

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(first posted 1/22/2014)    A not uncommon accusation around these parts is that folks who haven’t driven a certain car have no right to write articles or comment on them. There’s some validity in that, but then owners of certain cars are all-too often lacking in any objectivity too, especially when it comes to their beloved older cars. Of course, the criticism can go the other way too.

I happen to have an intrinsic soft spot for Ramblers, but don’t have a lot of seat time in them. Whereas the earlier Ramblers from the late 50s were generally considered to be decent to good handling cars compared to the wallowing Big Three cars of the times, by the mid sixties, they were generally being left behind. The few I have driven from that era felt clumsy, with very slow steering and general dullness. Were my perceptions colored by Rambler’s frumpy image? When I stumbled unto this old Road Test from my April 1964 Car and Driver, it gave me a reality check: Apparently not. Read the rest of this entry »

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Curbside Classic: 1963 Rambler Classic 770 Cross Country – The Last Great AMC Car?

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(Originally published 1/14/2014)This is it. The pinnacle of American Motors Corporation. Between 1958 and 1963, the Rambler automobile, in its frugal American, mid-price Classic and deluxe Ambassador lineup, hit a sweet spot in the domestic market that it really never recaptured. When the all-new 1963 Classic and Ambassador debuted, AMC was at the top of its game, with appealing, well-built, sensible cars. After that, save the brief spark of the Javelin, Hornet and Eagle, it was all downhill.

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Junkyard Classic: 1993 Eagle Summit DL Wagon – Soaring No More

This week, while looking in a local junkyard for a part for my newest COAL (yes, you knew it had to happen sooner or…uh, ok, sooner), I came across this often forgotten sibling of the Mitsubishi Expo LRV.  You can be forgiven if you forgot about the Mitsubishi as well as they didn’t have a hugely successful career on the sales floor either.  This particular one is a 1993, they were offered in the US between 1992 and 1996.

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Auction Classic: Buicks in Scottsdale 2018

Today’s Buicks are mostly pleasant, but unexceptional, sedans and SUVs made for the Chinese market (oh, and also sold in the U.S.!). It wasn’t always so. Buicks had an important place in GM’s ladder of brands as the top non-Cadillac. For most of Buick’s history, they were “doctors’ cars”. Classy, luxurious and consistently handsome cars signifying a level of achievement by the owner but not so ostentatious or pretentious as Caddys could be. At least that was the image. Buick got involved in the compact, midsize and muscle car markets, so the image was self-diluted in many ways. Still, it held pretty well until this century, when the Sloan ladder has become more of a step stool. Settle in to see twelve more drool-worthy Buicks I slobbered on during Scottsdale, Arizona’s January auction week. Read the rest of this entry »

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Curbside Classic: 1963 Studebaker Champ Long Bed Pickup – I’m a Chump for This Champ

Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. I’ve had my fun with the Champ, suggesting one of the stepside versions be turned into a horse-drawn wagon, and calling another one out for “The Most Ill-Fitting Bed Ever”.  But that second one was from the Cohort, and it had the short 6.5′ bed. Then this summer I found myself walking around a neighborhood in Portland one evening, and I stumbled into this Champ with the 8′ bed. And a light went on! This is a Studebaker I could really use, and even want. I have a thing about big, wide 8′ beds but short, compact front ends, even if the combination ends up looking a bit unbalanced. But so am I.

So is this the most compact 8′ bed wideside bed pickup ever? Read the rest of this entry »

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Vintage Review. Road & Track. April 1973. Testing Nine Showroom Stock Sports Cars As SCCA Racers

As the Pony Car Wars seen and experienced during the  mid to late 1960’s-early 1970’s Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Trans-Am race series began to fade with declining factory support and waning fan interest, the SCCA began to shift to race series using “showroom stock” small sedans (like the Opel Ascona 1900 and the Vega 2300) and to an additional “showroom stock” series using the multiple affordable sports cars available in the early 1970’s.

To make the sports car racing series affordable $4000 (inflation adjusted to $22,742 in 2018) was the allowable price ceiling.  This R&T test comparison included most of the sports cars available in the US in 1973 qualifying within the financial limits of the SCCA.  The results in many ways were surprising, not the results expected by “common sense”.  Sophistication didn’t always translate to racetrack success.  Who would have suspected that the relatively ancient Triumph GT6 and the MGB roadsters would be as good as they actual were on the race track.  Who would have suspected that the Opel GT would set the second fastest lap times, or that the mid engine 914 would come in third place.

The horsepower figures for all the participating cars were all lower than the same cars in 1970/1971 due to the industry wide shift from S.A.E gross horsepower to the newer S.A.E. net horsepower values.

Some of these cars were soon to disappear (Opel GT and Karmann Ghia) from the market or would soon have large, heavy even ugly bumpers (like the MG’s, Triumph, and Fiat)  due to the pending soon to be required Federal mandated bumper standards.

The Datsun 240Z  didn’t qualify for the Showroom Stock Sports Car due to price and power.  When the 240Z was initially placed in a class with the MGB GT, Porsche 914, and Opel GT, in 1970-1971 , it blew the doors off its competitors, by having a higher top speed than the Porsche 911T.  Ineligible for the Showroom Stock Sports Car Series,  Datsun 240Z was placed into the SCCA C-Production class where it dominated with drivers like Peter Brock, Bob Sharp, and later Paul Newman (who ultimately won the C-production national championship in his 240Z).

This comparison test was published by R&T in April 1973.

 

 

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Curbside Classic: 1957 Rambler Super- The Rambler of Many Firsts

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(first posted 1/22/2014)     Sitting in a San Pedro Service Station parking lot, this little car looks somewhat unremarkable. Despite that, this 1957 Rambler Super V-8 marks the beginning of a very successful venture for American Motors.

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Rental Car Review & Travelogue: 2018 Dodge Challenger R/T – In A Class Of Its Own

What better way is there to explore some of the most iconic locations in the United States than from behind the wheel of a big, V8 pony car? My friend Jason and I reserved a car from Enterprise’s American Muscle category, which meant we would get either a Dodge Challenger, Ford Mustang or Chevrolet Camaro. Our steed ending up being a Challenger R/T. But while the Challenger rivals the Mustang and Camaro, it’s so vastly different in character to those two that it might as well exist in an entirely different segment. Read the rest of this entry »

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Automotive Analysis: More Automakers Are Poised To Follow Ford In Dropping Sedans From Their Lineup

The automotive industry is currently being transformed by autonomous driving technology, electrification, and shifting consumer preferences. Those first two issues still exist on the margins, while the latter trend has already produced seismic shifts in the North American market and elsewhere. Sedans are being ignored by car shoppers and its a change that will force automakers to make tough decisions about the future of their passenger car lineups. In North America, FCA and Ford already bit the proverbial bullet by axing their sedans. Who will be next?  Read the rest of this entry »