CC Outtakes: Adventures Of A Mall Mole, Part 1

It’s funny the things you miss when you move to a new place. I moved into my new apartment a couple of months ago and I love that I can now walk to work, but I miss being situated directly between two shopping malls. They both had my preferred supermarket chain, good produce stores (with free samples!), and ample parking, which also meant they afforded plenty of great car sightings.

Of course, the crappy thing about shopping mall parking lots is they’re dingy and ugly and poorly lit. I try to avoid using parking lot photos in my articles but evidently a few have slipped through, to the point where our Jim Klein has dubbed me Curbside Classic’s resident “mole”*. Well, I may have to surrender that title as I no longer find myself in undercover parking lots quite so frequently. I’d like to start seeing cars like this Volkswagen Type 3 Squareback above ground, thank you.

To my eyes, this is the most attractive of the three Type 3 variants. Oh, and this body style was actually called Variant in some markets. This particular example has some patina here and there but looks to be holding up well. There’s not many of these left on Aussie roads, perhaps because the related Beetle and Kombi (Bus) hold more retro appeal to classic car buyers.

I’ve shared with you the story of the Ford Laser Lynx, an eccentrically styled Mazda 323 derivative sold in Asia-Pacific markets. If you’ll recall, I hadn’t seen any in years and then saw three in the same week, two of them on the very same street! Well, there were no further Lynx sightings in the wild until I stumbled across this one at my local.

The paint job on this Lynx was holding up much better than the very faded red and blue examples I’d previously seen. The quad headlights, the funky wheels, and the curvy wedge shape of these seemed so bizarre at the time but, in my opinion, the Lynx has aged well.

It was never really destined for success here, however. A restyled version of the three-door Mazda 323F/Lantis not sold here, the Lynx was positioned as the flagship of the Laser range. But while it was well-equipped, it came only with a manual and didn’t offer any extra performance even though past Laser flagships had offered four-wheel-drive and turbocharged engines. The rising Yen also made the Lynx a pricey proposition and so it was quietly retired after just a few years. The three-door 323F wasn’t positioned as a flagship in the markets where it was sold but even if the Lynx had been correspondingly repositioned, its lack of two back doors may still have doomed it.

Speaking of bug-eyed cars, the Jaguar S-Type always struck me as rather gauche—that retro design fad of the late 1990s and early 2000s wore thin rather quickly. With the right trim and wheels, however, the S-Type looked passable. In R trim, it looked downright handsome.

Even if you didn’t like the look, it was hard to argue with a supercharged 4.2 V8 producing 390 hp and 399 ft-lbs. Or a 0-60 time of just 5.3 seconds. Seeing it parked next to my similarly-sized Falcon made me realize how much of a shame it was Ford didn’t borrow the R’s V8 for a sporty Lincoln LS. After all, the S-Type and LS shared a platform. The 4.2 produced roughly the same horsepower and torque numbers as the Cadillac CTS-V, which would have made for a real Hot Rod Lincoln. Sadly, it was never to be.

Yes, among the hordes of late-model compacts and crossovers, there were often interesting cars to be spotted at my local shopping malls. In the next instalment, we’ll look at some more mediocre photographs of another motley assortment of cars.

Related Reading:

Curbside Classic: 1969 Volkswagen 1600 Type 3 Fastback – Fast In Name Only

Curbside Capsule: 1994-96 Ford Laser Lynx – The Sun Sets In The East