Recent Posts

CC TV: Cars Of The Flintstones

Today is a good day as any to attend pending matters at CC. While a good deal of automotive history has already been covered in these pages, there’s been a gross oversight; to this day, there’s nary a mention on the pre-history of the automobile! I’m not finger pointing here; the lack of enthusiasm is understandable, as most of those long-gone vehicles lacked combustion engines, and animal / human powered transport is far from CC’s mainstay.

The subject is long overdue though. We might as well get it over with, regardless of how much dyno manure may get in the way.

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The Radioactive Cars of Chernobyl – Can You Identify Them?

I’ve been contacted by the University of Turin, which recently found a collection of photographic prints in their archives made thirteen years after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear meltdown. In 1999, a team of Italian roboticists was allowed to send rovers equipped with cameras into the Ukrainian city of Pripyat and its surroundings. Venturing deep into the radioactive exclusion zone, the remotely controlled rovers returned with hundreds of stunning photographs, some of which were of abandoned cars and trucks left exposed to the elements.

The University is planning an exhibition of these photos, but they are struggling to identify the cars, trucks and buses in them. So they’ve asked if CC could assist in that process. I’m really not an expert on older Russian vehicles, but since we have readers who undoubtedly are, I’m sure we’ll be able to help them out.

These photos have never been seen before by the public, so in any case, it’s a privilege to share them with you and the world.  I’m sure you’ll be amazed as much as I was.

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Salvage Yard Classic & Automotive History: 1987 Chevrolet Caprice Classic Landaulet – Roger Wanted To Bury The Hatchet

Much has been written over the years about former General Motors CEO Roger Smith.  His various and diverse foibles in attempting to better position the company to face a rapidly changing marketplace during the 1980s have certainly provided a wealth of writing fodder and critique.  Rightly or wrongly, Smith’s tenure at the helm of General Motors is often regarded as a failure, despite his genuine ambition to improve the company’s fortunes.

But these failures are not a reflection of any lack of effort on Smith’s part, however misguided these efforts may have been.  For this particular slice of Smith’s tenure, we need to explore the particular sub-plot of Smith’s tenure which involves Electronic Data Systems founder, and 1992 United States Presidential candidate, H. Ross Perot.

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Automotive History: When The New 1960 Compacts Went Racing – The 130 MPH Valiants Cream The Corvairs And Falcons

(first posted 1/17/2012)     The arrival of the new compacts by the Big Three in 1960 was the beginning of a major new era. The race for sales also turned into a literal race, when NASCAR created a new Compact Sedan Class and invited the Little Three to Daytona for the 1960 races. All three accepted, and quickly developed “speed kits” or such, to be sold by dealers in order to homologate the cars.

Chrysler not only took the challenge more seriously than the other two, they also were starting with a significantly more powerful motor, the new 170 cubic inch slant six. The Valiants took the top seven finishing posts, the winning car averaging 122.282 mph on the banked oval. A Falcon came in eighth, and the top Corvair in ninth. Zora Arkus Duntov was not happy that day. Read the rest of this entry »


Vintage C&D Review: The Power Brokers (Aug ’86) – Tri-National Luxury Car Championships

(first posted 3/31/2017)    I love comparison tests. Oh, sure, some infuriate me, like when a car receives a glowing review but isn’t rated the winner because of some subjective nonsense, or when the author has had to overly condense the discussion on each car. For the most part, though, they are a delight to read. This applies especially to comparisons from years ago, like this 1986 shootout between luxury sedans from Germany, Japan and the US. Read the rest of this entry »


On The Go Outtake: Toyota Crown Majesta – A First In Eugene

25+ year old Japanese imports are very common here in Oregon, but almost invariably they’re AWD vans and some SUVs. But then I saw this in front of me in traffic the other day, and I did a double take: What’s that? Thanks to the V8 and “Majesta” badges, I was quickly enlightened.

Somebody likes big RWD V8 Toyota sedans.

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Cohort Pic(k) of the Day: 1964 Autobianchi Bianchina – A (Literary) Bridge Too Far

shot and posted by J.C.

I need to explain why I selected this car from the Cohort as well as the title. I started listening to Walter Mosley’s latest book, “Every Man A King”, and after an hour so, I stopped. It just wasn’t working for me, for a number of reasons, which is odd, as I loved all of his Easy Rawlins books. This one has a new protagonist, Jo King Oliver, a Black private detective, set in today’s New York City.

And what does Mosley have King drive? An Autobianchi Bianchina. It’s a Fiat 500 with a cute convertible or coupe body, and with 15, 17.5 or 21 hp, depending on the version. Yes cute, and yes, Mosley has demonstarted his knowledge of cars, but come on; driving a Bianchina in New York City, as his daily driver? Today? That’s just a bridge too far for me.

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Curbside Travel: The Kleins Go To Europe – Barcelona, Day 3

Hello again, seasoned compatriots, after a hearty meal at the end of day two we have arisen early on a Sunday to see much of what else Barcelona is known for.  Or at least what we remembered from last time as well as what our daughter wanted to show us.  Note that Sunday is generally a day on which most retail establishments are closed in Europe, so many people including workers truly relax or do things of a non-consumer nature.

This is great, if not for the fact that it tends to create greater masses of people wandering around and sometimes results in larger crowds than normal.  But that’s okay since we are on vacation and time is cheap today, we have all day and not a care in the world.  We’ve decided to start the day by taking a subway and then walking the rest of the way to Parc Güell, one of Barcelona’s signature features.  Come and join us, we don’t walk very fast… Read the rest of this entry »


Vintage Car Life Road Test: Two 1967 Rambler Rebels; 770 Six And 343 V8 SST – Styling Good; Performance Disappointing

This was one of the more interesting vintage reviews I’ve come across, because I don’t remember reading about these new 1967 AMC Rebels at the time; not too surprising, as my 14 year-old attention was more captivated by the Lamborghini Marzal or such. Ramblers—curiously, the new Rebel was still a Rambler in 1967—just didn’t light my fire, despite the new styling and the new name.

Yes, these were quite well-styled for the time, but did it make a difference? Not in sales; ’67 Rebel sales were down 17% from the boxy ’66 Classic! Ouch; that must have hurt.

But how did they drive? CL tested two very different version: a 770 with the 232 six, and an SST with the top 280 hp 343 V8. Their one word summation on both: “disappointment“. More ouch.

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Automotive History: The Sad Final Years Of Saturn

(first posted 10/18/2011)

Earlier in this space we traced the promising birth (and rapid maturation) of GM’s first new nameplate since the depression. The car was the Saturn and in its earliest days, it offered the hope that a new way of designing, building and marketing cars would revitalize its parent company. For a moment, at the pinnacle of success and acceptance, Saturn looked like the long sought answer to GM’s continuing failure in small cars. But as we’ll see, the descent of the division was a slow, painful experience that revealed that the old GM way was not dead, just dormant.

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Curbside Classic: 1989-94 Ford/Mercury Capri – Unfashionably Late

(first posted 3/30/2017)     Building and exporting a compact convertible was quite a challenge for Ford Australia. They had built small, front-wheel-drive models before but never droptops. The Capri was to establish an Australian export program and fly the flag for the Australian automotive industry, the first Aussie car exported in any real numbers to North America. Read the rest of this entry »


Curbside Outtake: 1963 Ford F100, Or Is It A ’64? Have A Coke While You Wait For The Oregon Electric Railway Train

This bright red F100 wearing Coca Cola livery was hard to miss, sitting in the parking lot of the Oregon Electric Station restaurant, which of course is in the former Oregon Electric Railway station, a line that served the Willamette Valley back in the days when we had such things as quick and reliable regional and interurban electric railways. And Coca Cola; something to have while you’re waiting for the next train to take you to Corvallis or Portland.

Back to the F100: it’s a bit of a puzzle as the grille says “1963” but the style of the bed says “1964”. So one of those two items was changed somewhere along the line.

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Vintage Ad: RHD Jeep Cherokee – “All Right!”

I’m struggling to find an exact year when Subaru first started selling RHD versions of the Legacy in the US specifically for rural mail carriers, but I do know they stopped doing so in 1999, to the consternation of that market. That’s led to all sorts of Rube Goldberg solutions, but back in 1993, Jeep decided to jump in too, with this Cherokee.

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Cohort Pic(k) of the Day: A Study In Contrasts

Jerome Solberg caught this fine pairing at the curb. Given that these FWD DeVilles weren’t really all that big, it’s a testament to the MGB’s size to make it look huge.

Driving these back-to-back would make a nice study in contrasts too.

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Vintage Car Life Road Test: 1964 Pontiac GTO – “Honest In Performance”?

Are there any truly honest vintage tests of a genuinely stock 1964 GTO? Pontiac was a notorious provider of “ringer” press cars, including the most famous one supplied to Car and Driver that did 0-60 in 4.6 seconds and the 1/4 mile in an absurd 13.1 sec.@115(!)mph. That turned out to have a 421 SD super-tuned within an inch of its life by Royal Pontiac.

Car Life tested a 348 hp Tri-Power version that “had been checked out by Pontiac Engineering before the car was released to the Car Life staff“. That should have been a tip-off, but then this GTO wasn’t a blatant cheater like the C&D Bobcat. Given its performance stats, more likely it was a “stock” 389 engine, but very well tuned by its maker. Or maybe not.

In any case, Car Life’s test focused on quite a bit more than just its acceleration numbers, as the GTO was seen as a genuine enthusiast’s car when it arrived, and not just a drag strip terror.

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