CC Outtakes: Adventures Of A Mall Mole, Part 3

Sometimes, you see a car that’s really worth photographing. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s parked in a dingy, poorly-lit, underground parking lot. These are some of those sightings.

The Rapier was the Sunbeam edition of the Rootes Group’s Audax line of cars, also sold under the Commer, Singer and Hillman marques. The Audax cars had been styled with the help of Raymond Loewy’s design firm, thus explaining the resemblance to the famously beautiful 1953 Studebaker coupes. The Rapier was intended to be the sportiest of the Audax cars and was available only as a two-door coupe or convertible.

These were manufactured from 1956 to 1967 and the mild revisions along the way make it hard for me to pin down an exact year. I believe, though, this is a 1958-59 Series II, powered by the Rallymaster 1.5 four-cylinder which produced 73 horsepower.

I’m not sure what the story is behind the tail affixed to the bumper. The Sunbeam Rapier was based on the Hillman Minx, after all, not the Hillman Mink.

This is a VN Commodore wagon, manufactured from 1988 to 1991. I’ve shared with you the story of how Holden heavily reengineered the Opel Omega A/Vauxhall Carlton to make the Commodore and how this was Holden’s first application of the Buick 3.8 V6. These VNs are quite scarce nowadays, largely following the traditional trajectory of used Commodores and Falcons: initially owned by families and fleets, they’ll change hands a couple of times and then end up being hooned to death by bogans. You can generally gauge the depreciation of a Commodore or Falcon by its owners: once you start seeing guys with rat’s tails behind the wheel, you’ll know the car has depreciated as far as it can.

I knew someone around twelve years ago who still had one of these VNs, which were becoming rare even then. Australian cars’ build quality wasn’t exactly spectacular in the late 1980s and early 1990s and even the Japanese, bar Toyota, had issues with quality control. This lady had gotten many years of faithful service out of her VN but it was ageing poorly with numerous cosmetic issues. The worst, by far, was the sagging headliner which made the cabin look like a Moroccan harem (albeit trimmed in dull gray mouse fur). It drooped lower than any headliner I’d ever seen droop.

This is the only Mitsubishi i-MiEV I’ve ever seen in person. Its rarity can be chalked up to two reasons: it looks like a background vehicle in some 1990s sci-fi film, and it was extremely expensive. The i-MiEV was really a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it affair here and I doubt many people even realize it was sold here. Until Tesla, we weren’t really big on electric cars. What little demand there was for them earlier this decade shifted to the far more, well, normal Nissan Leaf.

Our Brendan Saur will probably be able to use his encyclopedic knowledge of BMW paint colors to tell us this 4-Series’ shade. Truly a stunning color, even in the ghastly lighting of an undercover parking lot.

I don’t have any more to say about the final generation of Toyota Celica that I haven’t already said, other than this car looked so much better without a rear spoiler. This angle best shows off the daring, angular, concept car lines. Hell, this is probably the only photo where the parking lot lighting doesn’t look that bad.

Well, there we have it. A bunch of cars I wish I’d seen literally anywhere else but instead had the misfortune of seeing in a parking lot. Now I think it’s time for a walk around the neighborhood to hopefully spot some Curbside Classics in the clear light of day.