Sunday Rambling: CCs For Every Taste

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Sunday is a good day for CC spotting. Not only do many babied oldsters make appearances for pleasure cruises, trips to the grocery store and the like, but all the dealerships, repair shops and tire stores are closed, too. Sometimes these places harbor all sorts of interesting four-wheeled rolling stock, as was borne out on a recent Sunday.

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Gotta start with the Corvair. I think no other GM car is as polarizing, fun, loved and misunderstood as the flat-six Chevy. That the 1965-69 coupes and convertibles are beautifully-styled cars is without question, as this black-over-red example proves.

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I had first spotted this ‘Vair at a local Ford agency back in March. The weather was crummy, cold and windy, so I didn’t stop for a while.

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Finally, one late night I stopped to check it out. I even attempted to take some night shots to use in a post, but they all turned out poorly. I am going to have to get a tripod if I ever want good night shots apropos to a CC write-up!

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But the main task for my motoring about town that day was to get good shots of this Corvair. I really liked the red interior, and it was near pristine.

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Even the back seat riders didn’t get claustrophobic, thanks to the airy greenhouse. Remember when you could actually see out of cars?

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But the goofy boy-racer speakers in the back look really, really stupid on a car of this vintage. Come on, at least try to make them look like they belong!

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Upon further examination, some other less-than-great modifications became apparent, including black-painted headlight bezels, and the nose garnish molding with custom stone chips. I imagine they were becoming pitted and the previous owner, too cheap to do it the right way, decided for the Rustoleum fix. At least they didn’t paint the Corvair script black. The front spoiler is a bit contrived as well. I do like the stone guards on the headlights, though.

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So, what do second-gen Corvair coupes go for? This one has an asking price of $10K, which may explain why it’s been sitting on the lot for three months. Heck, right now there’s a nice ’65 Monza ‘vert on Hemmings for 10.5K, with no blacked-out trim or “pump the volume” rear speakers.

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And so it sits, but at the right price and with a new parcel shelf and some NOS trim bits, this car could be quite a pleasant summer runabout. And the rear windows roll down, Zackman!

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Next, let’s take a look at this Riv. Unlike the 1986 original, the 1989 update (CC here) was actually good-looking, and its proportions were much better. Curiously, this one appears to have a 1987-88 grille, as ’89 and later versions had a busier appearance.

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This one looked pretty nice in pearl white, and the turbine-style alloys are much more attractive than the rattly wire wheel covers most of these cars sported when new. Sadly, this one appears to have only three wheels, judging from that plain black wheel on the driver’s side.

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But look, it has an Astroroof! Until the mid- to late-’90s, moonroofs were not frequently seen on GM lux brands, as they were rather expensive. I know, it’s hard to believe when you consider all the 2013 Sonatas and Civics with sunroofs and moonroofs running around today!

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The interior is a bit worn–especially the door armrest–but the burgundy interior still looks presentable. That Grant GT steering wheel has to go, however.

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Here’s the back seat. A bit more confining than in the Corvair, wouldn’t you say? Like a Broughamy cocoon. Depending on what floats your boat, that could be good or bad.

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All in all, this was a successful facelift. I was in junior high when these were mid-cycle, and I saw a LOT of them; the 1986-88s, not so much.

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Lasting all the way to 1993, these outlived their Caddy (1991) and Olds (1992) cousins. The Eldo was redesigned for 1992, and the Toro just faded away. One question for Carmine or CraiginNC: Did these have the electroluminescent “R” emblems like the 1980-85 Rivs? From this example, it looks like they do, but I’m not sure.

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How about another Buick? A-bodies of the 1982-96 generation are all over the place in the Quad Cities, but very few are of the pre-1989 variety. This Limited has seen better days, but you can still see it was a nice ride in the mid-’80s, in a cookie-cutter GM kind of way.

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We’ve all seen the Fortune cover with the ’82 A-bodies on it, but the Buick, as the most expensive variant, still had a Buick-grade interior. Naturally, the top-tier Limited had the plushest velour, finest fake wood and full power.

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Yes, they were boxy, but that paid off in ample rear headroom. I rather like the light-sage color of this one. I believe it was called Jadestone.

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How do I know it’s an ’84? Easy–all 1984 Flint Flexible Flyers were plastered with Olympic sponsor decals. GM must have printed out five million of them. In fact, I’ll bet there are still three million of them sitting in a dusty GM warehouse. They’ll really make hay when these cars are being collected and restored in another twenty years. Or not.

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This particular Limited had some sort of problem with a stationary object. Perhaps the final outing taken by someone’s Aunt Hilda before her relatives took away her keys?

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Like the Riv we looked at earlier, this one has the rarer alloys instead of the ubiquitous wire-wheel covers. Good luck finding replacement center caps for those…

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These were nice looking cars, despite their obvious similarity to the other A-bodies. A childhood friend’s mother had an ’85 version (I think) in burgundy-on-burgundy, with wire wheel covers, of course. I remember it as a silent, comfy cruiser. His dad had a GMC Safari van (neé Astro).

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As I recall, their Buick was traded for a silver ’90 Mitsubishi Galant–a common ’80s-’90s tale as GM customers moved on. And yes, I did notice that white Mark IV; we’ll leave it for another time.

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Tired of Broughams, you say? No problem. Let’s close with a remarkably preserved first-gen Eagle Talon. These were pretty respectable sport coupes when new, especially in AWD TSi form.

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But thanks to a recent string of uglify-your-Asian-sporty-car movies, just about all of them have been painted pink, purple or lime green, with rubber-band wheels, five-point harnesses and other assorted garbage.

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The ones that escaped that treatment were largely driven into the ground, which makes this one a rare treat today.

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Look, it even still has the factory alloys! And remember the 7/70 plan Chrysler cars had back in the late-’80s and early-90s? It was a pretty big deal until Hyundai came along in the ‘oughts and introduced their 10-year, 100K warranty.

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Unfortunately, this one was shoehorned between a Nissan minivan and a Landie Disco, which prevented any profile or front-quarter shots. This was the best I could do, nose-wise.

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I also liked the interiors on these cars, particularly the instrument panel. The Eagle was my favorite, followed by the Plymouth Laser. Ironically, the original version of the Diamond Star trio, the Eclipse (CC here), was my least favorite.

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Clearly, this car has been babied from new. I would not want to be a backseat passenger, though–where the blinkety-blank do you put your legs?! And the glare and heat from the backlight would make all but the shortest jaunts uncomfortable, even if you did manage to find a place for your legs and feet–wrapped around your neck, perhaps?

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Here’s a better shot of that dash. In those pre-airbag days, the steering wheel was a slim, sporty design, and I always liked the angled HVAC vents. Did these ever come in colors other than gray, black or tan? A Talon in this color with red cloth would have been a stunner!

Well, that’s all for today. When you write for CC, your “car radar” is greatly enhanced. I can only speculate at how many interesting old cars I missed before I started writing CCs! ‘Til next time…

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