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Curbside Classic: Gilbern Genie – The Welsh Grand Tourer

gilbern-genie-3

(first posted 12/8/2016)     The complete list of Welsh automobile manufacturers is not exactly overly long, but perhaps the best known is Gilbern. That is not to say it is a household name, or something one would expect to find in Southern Alberta. The story of how this low-volume marque came to be is quite interesting, however. Founded in 1959, Gilbern got it name from a butcher and an engineer. That’s not to say its engineering was butchered, although its entrails are something of a hash.

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45

Vintage R&T Review: 1975 Porsche 911 Carrera – Survivng the Malaise Era Just Fine

911-a-crop

(first posted 12/9/2016)    Whereas almost every car sold in the US struggled with serious performance drops as a result of tightening emission controls during the 1970s, there was one powerful exception: the Porsche 911. Well, yes, there were some impacts, but I can’t think of another car that mostly kept performance intact, and began to improve performance again so quickly and steadily. The secret: keep making the engines bigger! Well, that wasn’t a good option for American cars with their already-too large engines, but it worked like a charm for the 911. Read the rest of this entry »

24

QOTD — Auto Theft. Got Any Stories?

The other morning, I was browsing the online news bulletin that arrives daily from my son’s University. This day’s lead headline caught my eye due to the mentioning of cars before the usual spate of self-congratulatory “news” about giant lasers, notable faculty achievements, and dining hall hours.

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5

Vintage Trucks: The Rare 1974-1977 Dodge D-Series Medium Trucks (D500-D800)

I’d almost forgotten these D-Series medium duty trucks existed; they were always a quite rare sight even in their day. The fact that they were built for only four years is part of the reason; Dodge didn’t switch their medium duty trucks to the new D-Series cab until 1974, two years after it first appeared on pickups and light duty trucks.

Dodge exited the HD truck market after the 1975 MY, but kept the mediums going for two more years, through 1977. But they continued to be built in Mexico for a number of years yet, well into the 1990’s.

Here’s a small sampling:

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11

Cohort Pic(k) of the Day: Suddenly It’s 1960 – And There’s No Traffic On The New Freeway

posted by canadiancatgreen

 

12

Junkyard Musings: Color Me Verklempt – The Joy Of The Saddest Mercedes-Benz R107

Mercedes-Benz R107

At the junkyard, all is equal.  Whether American, German, Japanese, Korean, or British, at the end of the day its value is measured per pound of steel, no more, no less.  Even French stuff is treated the same.  Oh, and Italian too, except perhaps there’s a little less of it at the weigh-in due to the trail of iron oxide flakes in its wake.  No matter if a car was a loss leader at $5,795 Take It Home Today! and abused like a rented mule for two decades or cost $120,000 and with a seat buffed to a high shine before milady’s posterior sits down on it and never driven in the wet (because, of course, they knew what they had), it all ends up in the same place; sitting in the rain, mud, snow, heat, dust, dirt, and whatever other elements there may be.  Poked, prodded, cut apart, disassembled skillfully or more often not so skillfully, occasionally photographed, sometimes wistfully examined, and occasionally even kicked or worse by someone with a reason known only to themselves and their therapist or parole officer, which may or may not be the same person depending on circumstance.

But there are joyous moments too. Read the rest of this entry »

117

Springfield Buick: The Little Dealership That Time Forgot – Is It The Last (Or Smallest) Stand-Alone Buick Dealer? (Update: They Closed In 2019)

CC 193 055 950

(first posted 2/22/2013. Springfield Buick closed in August 2019)    You want to know what small-town car dealerships were like many decades ago? In downtown Springfield, across the river from Eugene, Springfield Buick is like a time machine, except that the cars are new. Family owned since its opening in 1949, this little Buick store has bucked many trends, as well as GM’s edict to eliminate stand-alone stores as part of their post-bankruptcy reorganization. Did it somehow fall through the cracks? No matter; here it still is, just like it always has been for 64 years. Let’s drop in for a visit. Read the rest of this entry »

173

Curbside Classic: 1979-1982 Ford Mustang – A Clean Break

ford-mustang-notchback-1

(first posted 12/7/2016)    Retro styling, so beloved in the early 2000s, lives on in the pony car segment. The bulging fenders and swooping rooflines of the newest Mustang and Camaro and the slavish homage that is the Challenger show the Big 3 aren’t taking any chances with the designs of their sporty offerings. Their styling plays like a Greatest Hits compilation, even if underneath the sheetmetal is all manner of modern technology like magnetorheological shocks and cylinder deactivation. But let’s cast our minds back to a time where Ford was far more willing to subvert the design orthodoxy in the segment they effectively created, when they launched the clean-sheet 1979 Mustang. Read the rest of this entry »

10

Curbside Classic: 1998 Nissan R’nessa – Rock Bottom Wagon With A High Floor

As I was saying in my previous post, I’m going to try and only post “CC virgins” this month – stuff we’ve not had a look at before. There is a bunch of JDM models that potentially fit this profile, but they can’t all be cool obscure RWD ‘70s coupés. So here’s a somewhat underwhelming unknown-unknown FWD wagon from the darkest days of Nissan, complete with a rather weird (yet oddly prescient) name.

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43

Cohort Pic(k) of the Day: 1970 Camaro – Restored Base Coupe; Six or V8?

nifticus found something a bit out of the ordinary here: a 1970 Camaro base coupe diligently restored to its original appearance. No Rally wheels or mags, no big exhaust pipes, no Z-28 clone badges and stripes, no nothing, other than how it looked the day it rolled off the lines.

And for all we know, this may very well be a six; its Canadian provenance makes that even substantially more likely.

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12

Artificial Intelligence Classics: “Improvements” on some of my previous rides

There is no doubt that artificial intelligence (AI) generated art is a big thing right now. It can produce some amazing and creative images as well as some very weird and/or disturbing ones. There is also some debate about who the ultimate creator of the resulting piece is. The human feeding it prompts or the machine doing the generation via gathering source images to combine and manipulate with various algorithms. Luckily, we are not here to debate that but instead ponder if any of its creations are any good. I fed it some of my greatest hit vehicles with suggested improvements to see what comes out.

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29

COAL: 2002 Mazda Protégé – Mazda’s The Answer…What Was The Question?

By 2001 our 1992 Ford Aerostar was heading towards its long home; I was topping up the transmission fluid on a bi-weekly basis, the air conditioning was kaput, the power steering pump was leaking again and I forget what all else.  At least the stereo still worked, which helped mask any new noises coming from underneath the Ford’s abbreviated hood.  All those ills could have been addressed, but only at great expense and with the understanding that a new list would soon be forthcoming.  As the old saying goes, it was time to either fish or cut bait.

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87

Book Report: Elon Musk; Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future – The Henry Ford Of Our Times?

elon-musk-bio

(first posted 12/6/2016. At first thought, I wasn’t going to rerun this. But in rereading it and the comments, I changed my mind. It is a decent short take on a Musk history, especially as applies to Space X and Tesla. Obviously, both companies have prospered since then, especially so Tesla, whose growth is still on a tear as well as its profits. Tesla continues to reduce production costs, and its top-selling Model Y has had some radical under-the-skin changes (Megacastings, structural battery pack, etc.) that have driven down its cost to build and thus creates very large profits. In Q3, Tesla had a profit of $9,500 per car sold, a truly stellar performance given that no mass-producer of EVs is yet making a profit on them. That alone continues to keep Tesla well ahead of the “Tesla Killers”.

As to Musk’s personality issues and its manifestations, let’s just say that success has amplified them, as it almost invariably does. I’m not very interested in spending time on them, but would rather focus on the results. There’s still a lot of unfinished business for Musk. We shall see…)

For those of us with an interest in automotive history, Elon Musk and Tesla is the biggest story that’s come along in a very long time. Watching it unfold in real time is highly fascinating and absorbing; we’re in the middle of the most transformative era in the automobile’s history since the 1920s. And Tesla is pioneering two of the most revolutionary technologies at the same time: electric propulsion and autonomous capability. The last successful start-up of a new automobile manufacturer in the US was Chrysler, in 1925. And even it failed, eventually. The only other major effort to break into this very competitive market was Kaiser-Frazer, in 1946, which lasted less than ten years. Neither of their efforts were genuinely revolutionary; Musk’s breadth of vision and scale overpowers them by a huge margin. The only possible parallel is Henry Ford.

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114

Curbside Classic: 1977 Chevrolet Bel Air Coupe – A Once-Storied Name’s Last Stand In Canada

1977 Chevrolet Bel Air

(first posted 2/21/2013)    The storied Bel Air name is mostly remembered for the glamorous 1955-1957 models. As a top line model it was dripping with flashy chrome, but the name ended its run in 1981 in Canada on something much more pedestrian, as a poverty-trim companion to the downsized Caprice/Impala.

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Vintage Dealer Postcard: M & C Motors – “The Correct Time And Place To Buy Your New DeSoto & Plymouth