(first posted 5/16/2015) Last week, Paul Niedermeyer posted a feature on an orange ’75 Corvette which had taken a pretty nasty hit to its front clip (CC Outtake: 1975 Corvette – Not What It Was Cracked Up To Be). Ensuing comments ranged from acknowledgement that the ’75s lacked performance compared to previous ‘Vettes, to praise of this generation’s distinctive styling and ease with which performance could be enhanced, to straight-up disgust with the whole malaise-era package. I was born in the mid-70’s, and by the time I was in elementary school in the early 80’s (when the C3 was still being produced and on its way out), many kids my age had no frame of reference to know how relatively fast or slow these Corvettes were. We just knew we liked seeing them on the street, that they were a cut above a Camaro or Firebird, and also that we wanted one, one day.
A couple weeks ago, we saw two examples of smallish pillared hardtops that really tested the outer size limits of the concept. Last week’s Nissan Leopard and this Toyota Crown will demonstrate that, given a decently-sized RWD platform, the bizarre Japanese obsession that was the pillared hardtop did make some sense and could meet success.
(first published 7 February 2012) Hello again, Curbside Classic fans. As promised on the nostalgia trip I took here in September, I’ve returned to write about the design of my 1973 Imperial. This story isn’t a procedural from the Chrysler studios – the shadowy “Auto Editors of Consumer Guide” have taken care of that already – but rather a rumination on how such a strange beast as the 1973 Imperial came to be, why it went away, and why people notice it today. “I’ve always been fascinated by failure,” Charlie Brown once said, and he’s our dashboard icon for this excursion. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve been promising to do the most amazing story on the Tucker for 15 years, with all kinds of new details and surprising insights that nobody but I could possibly do. It’ll instantly make every other Tucker story look obsolete. I’ve been keeping my eye out for one in Eugene, but no luck so far. But don’t give up hope yet! I’m an optimist, and I’m sure if I keep looking hard enough I’ll eventually find one. And then everyone will be able to read the only really true story of the Tucker. It’s not at all like what those naysayers have been saying. Here’s a sneak preview: the Tucker isn’t dead at all; it’s going to arrive in 2020, and it’ll still be years ahead!
When Chevy introduced their new Trailblazer last year and I subsequently saw a few on the roads I was excited as it seemed to tap into all the things that buyers are looking for these days. I just needed to be able to get my hands on one to see if it really was all it appeared to be. The only thing I initially considered odd about it was reusing the Trailblazer name since the new one has virtually nothing in common with the long defunct model, especially the size, this one is much smaller. Yet the old one was clearly a success for Chevy, or enough of one anyway to not need to dustbin the name forever. In any case, last week I finally got my request granted and now I can report my findings. Read the rest of this entry »
Curbside Classic: 1968 Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu Coupe – Reality Sucks, But It Beats The Alternative
(first posted 5/16/2015) Once upon a time, faded Malibu coupes like this in gold, brown, green or blue could be found by the multiples in every high school parking lot during the week or prowling the streets or fast-food parking lots on weekend nights. Although kids back then aspired (like always) to something more ambitious, like a cherry red Malibu SS454, in truth, this is what they ended up with: a tired second or third-hand Malibu coupe with the weak-chested 307 and a Powerglide. Young adult life is often about adjusting lofty expectations with a diminished reality. It’s no wonder there are more red SS454s nowadays than Plain-Jane Malibus; the middle-aged means of so many frustrated kids finally caught up to their long-deferred aspirations. Read the rest of this entry »
A fully automatic ventilation system with optional (G3) filtration mats. Automatic temperature control, constantly monitored. A drinking water system. Overpressure in the perfectly illuminated interior. Insulated roof and sides. Now just to be clear, those are some hallmarks of modern livestock bodies.
While I’m overdue for an update on our 2020 Tesla Model Y, it’s currently at 5,558 miles without any significant issues and has settled in to the garage as “just another car”, not being treated or looked at much differently than any of the others. Which is a good thing, I’ll hasten to add, it just gets us around well. The regular non-winter tires are back on it and I do have a roadtrip to Minnesota planned with it next month. I intend to report back after that as it will entail multiple Supercharger stops for the 1000+mile journey each way, much of it across the Middle Of Nowhere, USA. Along with four days near Minneapolis it should enable me to generate some good range data.
However, and more to the point of this particular post, for the last month a rattle inside the car has been driving my wife nuts. Oh no, Lordstown 2.0, drunken disgruntled assembly workers, union agitator sabotage, what could it be? It sounded like something rolling around on the floor and she dispatched me, Mr. Fancy Big Red Tool Chest Man, to figure it out. I therefore went out to the car, opened the rear door and found an Advil pill on the rear winter floor mat, clearly it had been rolling around there. Triumphantly I returned to the house, the great problem solver. Until the next day, when I was informed of my failure; the noise was still present and still annoying. I then drove the car, was able to replicate the noise, and sort of isolated it to the right side of the car. We loaded our son into the back seat, then the cargo area and tried to localize it more, and I myself rode laying on the rear floor with my wife accelerating, braking and turning hard until I almost barfed to realize it was actually under the floor. Read the rest of this entry »
Curbside Classics from Neukölln and Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf (Berlin) Part 4: The Americans, The French, VW and some cars from the mystery garage
I was unaware of Kaiser Motors until one summer in 2007 – by some twist of fate I was living in the very wealthy neighborhood of Wilmersdorf at the time – I saw a Kaiser Darrin driving past me. I had no idea what I was looking at, so, naturally, I followed the strange vehicle and tracked it down in an underground parking garage. Turned out the guy who drove the car had no clear idea either what he was driving (he showed me the engine and claimed it was a V-12!). He was paid by the owner to regularly move the Darrin (and its fluids) around the city so as to stay in good health. So imagine my joy when some 13 years later I ran into what I believe to be a Custom 6 (corrections welcome) by the side of Treptower Park! It’s on Bavarian historic plates (as indicated by the “H”) and I would guess it is a 1953….So, welcome back to CC Berlin, everyone!
After my relatively good experience with the Kadett, it might have been obvious that I should get another German car, but the truth is that it was my older brother who suggested that I consider a VW Beetle.
(first posted 5/1/5/2015) Chrysler is one of the few brands today that doesn’t offer a crossover, a fact made all the more mystifying by CEO Sergio Marchionne’s plan to make the Chrysler division FCA’s mainstream marque in North America. Their lineup at present consists merely of two sedans and a minivan, but there was once a Chrysler crossover. The defunct Pacifica actually beat Dodge, Ford and GMC to the crossover market, but was axed without replacement during the throes of America’s rapidly growing obsession with crossovers. The real question is: why did the Pacifica not earn a replacement? Was it something it did?
Don Kincl found a veteran of the shorty VW bus craze that swept the land like a minor pandemic back in the late 60s and 70s. Yes, these were not that uncommon, kids. It was a time when creative impulses were indulged, especially when it came to VWs. And yes, that “drag bar” in the back was highly functional, as it didn’t take much to lift the front wheels.
I wonder what’s the fastest anyone ever dared to drive one of these?