Saturday Car Post

I’ve driven a lot
of cars in my life-
I love em, and I’ll take
anything out for a spin
that I have the chance
to, not to mention always
insisting on renting
a model I’ve never
driven before when
it’s possible.

I frankly don’t think
much of the newer
reproductions of older
classics, like the Challenger
and the Mustang –
not because they don’t
have plenty of power –
they do – but because
they lack originality in
their form, while their
function is limited by the
constraints of the vintage
look they’re emulating.

Ok, so maybe I’m
just a crank.

But spending $70,000 for
a car that looks like it was
built 50 years ago just
doesn’t appeal to me.

Give me original or
give me new –
don’t confuse me with
something that’s neither
and both.

I’ve been asked to write
about the qualities that
made the cars I loved
my favorites…..

1: Power, sure, One;
and by that I mean
power to the street –
it does me no good
if the tires burn out
at every traffic light,
so,

2: Two is the correct
Gear Ratio.

3: Steering, is next-
you can’t really enjoy
a car with a huge
turning radius.
You wanna make that
U-turn without hitting
the curb or needing 5
lanes to do it.

4: And Suspension is
Four – I don’t want to
bounce around like a
buckle bunny in the
back of a pickup.

Only after one other
thing,
5: Weight
do Looks start to mean
something . By weight,
I mean, how hefty a
vehicle is when the
wind is blowing –
does it bounce off the
car like a nerf ball or
does it make me feel
like I’m driving a kite?

6: Looks.
Of course, it matters.
But, like so many other
things in life, without
the basics, looks are
nothing but junior
class bimbette bait.
Life’s too short, and
any woman worth
her salt knows a lemon
from a good hunk of
go when she sees it.

!!! HOY !!!

Index (from top):
1967 Pontiac LeMans
2003 Ford Thunderbird
1963 Chevrolet Impala SS
1961 Lincoln Continental
1965 Ford Thunderbird
1974 Plymouth Fury
1971 Triumph TR-6

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The Saturday Car Post – Movie Cars Part 1

You might have been noticing the series about TV cars on recent Saturday Car Posts – and my blogging friend over at TaoTalk asked if I couldn’t take it a step further and do something about movie cars.

Absolutely, man;
happy to oblige.

Ok… so maybe you
noticed the guy on
that very attractive mule.

Well, ya see, that guy
happens to be Clint
Eastwood – and that
wonderful mule was
the one that got insulted
by those five nasty
gunfighters in
” Fistful Of Dollars ” –
and, you should
definitely watch what
you say, cause it didn’t
go all that well for those
guys.

I was conjuring up some
of my favorite movies,
and since they didn’t have
cars back in the old west …

Ok..
back on topic.

Hey- CAR CHASES .

Who don’t like em ?

We talked about the Charger
in the Steve McQueen movie
“Bullitt” already … and that
dark green 1968 Ford
Mustang GT Fastback was
pretty much a hoss, too-
equipped with that
muscular Ford 390
four-barrel V-8.

They recently located the
original car from the movie…
–it’s in Tennessee somewhere
currently getting
rebuilt and restored.

My favorite car chase,
all things considered,
though … was the
one through
the mall in
“The Blues Brothers”.

I dunno if it was the
background music
combined with all
that wonderful crashing –
did you know that 103
cars were wrecked in the
1980 original version ?

The boys drove a
retired California
Highway Patrol car- a
1974 Dodge Monaco,
with a big 440 V-8 –
“cop tires,
cop suspension,
and cop motor” .

Legend has it that
the scene was shot in
a real mall —
the Dixie Square Mall
in Harvey, Illinois.

Henry Gibson,
and his on-screen
Illinois Nazis also
owned a fleet of 6
1977 Ford Pintos –
including the orange
station wagon that
went flying off the
end of the unfinished
highway bridge.

Couldn’t happen to
a nicer group of guys.

!!! HOY !!!

.

 

The 1968 Dodge Charger R/T

It’d be hard to get me
to say anything nice
about the cars produced
by Chrysler Plymouth
after the year 1972.
(Other than Dodge Ram)

The worst vehicle I’ve
ever owned was a
Chrysler Pacifica, and
I’ve had spectacularly
disastrous experiences
with Prowlers and
New Yorkers.

Previous to those,
however, I had much
more success with
70’s era Dodge Darts,
early 60’s Plymouth
Valiants, Plymouth
Furys, and
today’s featured car:
The 1968 Dodge
Charger R/T.

It sold new for
about $3600,
and was the
sharpest looking
car on the market
for the money.

(disregarding that
horrible avocado
paint in the ad, ->
of course)

I know it’s irrelevant,
by the time I got it,
it had 120,000 miles
on the odo and was
still running like it
was new.

1968 was the first year
for the new “B-Body”
line-up – and the boys
in Hamtramck on the
line were working hard
to improve build quality.

What they produced was
a worth adversary to it’s
competition –

– what it lacked in
creature comforts,
it made up for in
speed, handling,
and classic good looks.

The R/T model came
stock with the V-8
440 Magnum package,
which made about
360 horsepower –

– but if that weren’t
enough for ya, you
could order the
legendary 426 Hemi
engine as an option.

It also came standard
with “bee stripes” –
but anybody with
any sense ordered
that thing deleted.

Think the
world’s greatest
car chase ever filmed —
in ” Bullitt “, with Steve
McQueen in a hopped
up Mustang being
chased/chased
through the streets
of San Francisco by a
couple of thugs in a
Charger 440 R/T –

— there weren’t no
damn sissy stripes on
that stone-cold black
beauty.

Yes,
that car, man.

You might say it was
the pinnacle of that
company’s design
history – sleek, lean,
fast, and looked like
it would jack your
lunch money.

Alas, all too soon,
higher gas prices,
federal regulations,
insurance costs,
economic issues,
and planned
obsolescence
brought the domestic
production of cars
like this to an end-
especially for the
Mopar Group.

( Except for a couple of
overpriced, underwhelming
exceptions like the Viper
and the Demon, which are,
for all practical purposes,
un-driveable in city conditions,
and un-affordable to the
average working man looking
for a really fun daily driver. )

It’s a shame, really.

Because that
68 Charger R/T
was really something, man.

!!!! HOY !!!!

TV Cars of the 1960’s – Mannix

Alrighty—

You probably already
figured out this post
is part two of our
TV Cars series that
we started a
couple weeks ago.

Yep.

If you missed
Part One, well <— .

Today, we’re looking
at more ‘ action cars ‘ –
– you know, the cars
the tough guys like
‘Mannix’ drove.

Actually, Mannix
was on TV quite
a while, from 1967
to 1975 –

– and they used different
models for most seasons,
although overwhelmingly
Mopar for most of the
show’s run.

But, the first year
used a 1967 Oldsmobile
Toronado Convertible.

And no, GM didn’t
produce a 67 Toronado
drop-top –
– it was a one of a kind,
customized by George
Barris for the show.

Another Barris
customization job
was done for season
two and three :

1968/69 Dodge Dart
340 GTS rag-tops –
in a non-stock color,
British Racing Green.

The functional hood
scoop, rear spoiler,
mag wheels,
and a lot of other stuff
wasn’t stock, either .

But it was a hot
looking car, right ?

Season four and five’s car
was a 1970/1971 Plymouth
Cuda 340 in dark green.

(In season five, the 340
was alternated with
another Cuda with a
383 c.i.)

Season six was
still a Cuda –
the 1971’s updated
with ’73(?) trim –
since the car had
been discontinued by then.

Season seven:
1974 Dodge
Challenger 360
Rallye’s,
with added
mag wheels
and tires was used –

— and the car was mainly
stock (although it was
equipped with every
possible option including
the factory sunroof ).

The last year, 1975, brought
a change in the car brand
used by the TV production
company, so the show
rotated a 1974 blue
Chevy Camaro LT hardtop
with a 1975 Caprice
Convertible.

(HUH?)

(That was the last year
for the rag-top Caprice.)

But, there are also
traces of a green
1974 Gran Torino
in several episodes
in season eight.

By far- the Toronado
and the Dart GTS
were the coolest, man.

!!! HOY !!!

.

The BMW 507

Originally intended as
market competition for
the Mercedes Benz 300SL
at a lower price point,
the sporty and quirky
BMW 507 was only
produced for three
years —
– between 1956 and 1959.

The car, although
quite beautiful, had
some serious challenges
that took it, almost
immediately, out of
the running for Americans
interested in purchasing
a sporty mid-priced
roadster in the late
1950’s.

The first release of the
507 was plagued with
issues, including an
oversized gas tank
which took up valuable
trunk and passenger
room, and which leaked
the odor of gas when
the convertible top was
deployed.

The drum brakes
weren’t very good,
and an available
removable hard-top
option had to be
custom made to
each car, so it only
fit the car it came on.

And the production
costs, predicted to be
about $1500 under
the cost of a 300SL
in 1956, doubled –
and priced the car way
too expensive for it’s
intended market.
($10,700 in 1958)

By the time the car’s
issues were resolved,
BMW is said to have
lost about 5 million
dollars on it, and only
252 of them were
actually produced.

Still, the styling of
the 507 was first rate,
and the aluminum
193 V-8 produced a
reasonable quantity
of power for the car-
– about 150 HP, with
the double two-barrel
carb set up and the
4 speed manual, and
had a top speed of
over 120 MPH.

Acceleration was also
decent; zero to sixty
could be as quick as
11 seconds.

But it’s looks are what
is best remembered
about the car, and the
507 notably influenced
the styling of future
models , especially the
BMW Z-8.

.

Saturday Car Post: The Changing Of The Guard?

The 1970’s was a rough time for the automobile business in the United States and Canada-

— it represented a fundamental and permanent shake-up not only in what kinds of domestic cars consumers were willing to buy, but also in the penetration of the market by imports, particularly of Japanese origin.

The big domestic car makers
had been reticent to commit the necessary resources to improve build quality and
fuel efficiency – and North American buyers started to look elsewhere – and they
haven’t looked back since,
it seems.

While in 1975, almost 90% of
the cars on the road were
American (or Canadian) made,
the sad and hard reality of
today’s situation is much different:

“There are no purely American
vehicles,” said Michelle Krebs,
senior analyst at AutoTrader.

“These are global automakers
who use global sources for
all types of parts.”

Which, perhaps, goes a long way to explain why the new cars appear so similar to each other.

Several of my favorite vintage
models were built in the 1970’s, and the whole question of ‘style’ as it relates to current automobile models seems somehow no longer germane.

That notwithstanding,
one can’t help but wonder
whether such dependency
on foreign products,
especially one as iconic and
essential to the American
lifestyle, is a good thing
or not –

– and about how
long policies about such
things should be left in the hands of multi-national corporations that care, not about North American security,
economies, or jobs,
but only about profit.

HOY !

The Chrysler Thunderbolt

When one thinks
of a car designed
for the pre-World War II
automotive marketplace,
one would
have certain
expectations —

rather boxy things,
elongated from
the ‘C’ pillar
back and from
the ‘A’ pillar
forward –

– big chrome grills,
massive bumpers often
with running boards….

and without a trace
of aerodynamic styling.

So our featured car today –
the 1941 Chrysler Thunderbolt ,
won’t fail to surprise most folks.

For one thing, the exterior
styling, designed by
Alex Tremulis
(of Tucker fame),
is much more akin to cars
that were put into production
10 years later —
— the 1951 Ford Custom,
for instance.

The lag in progress,
if you want to call it that,
was simply due to the
onset of World War II–

Car manufacturers put
their designs for consumer
vehicles on the back burner
and went about building
the tanks, airplanes, trucks
and stuff to aid the war effort.

And directly after the war,
most car companies went
right back where they left off-

building the same models
and using the old toolings
stamps and templates —

Any real innovations took
years of peacetime and a
large amount of capital to
come to practical fruition,
and it was well into
the 1950’s before
consumers really started
to see them applied
directly to the marketplace.

So, there was, for all
practical purposes,
a ten year lag in
development and
automotive creativity.

This can clearly be seen
when we look at the
1941 Thunderbolt :

the “A” pillar was deleted
on this car, which had
an all aluminum-body
(with the exception of
the steel hood
and deck lid) ,
which featured
all kinds of
technological
accomplishments –

– like an electrically retractable roof –

(not seen in the United States
on a production car until the
1957 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner ),

plus hydraulically
powered windows,
push button door handles,
concealed vacuum
activated headlamps,
Lucite-edged
back-lit gauges,
vertically mounted
and inset radio,
and with a push button
Chrysler Fluid Drive
automatic transmission.

A two-seater coupe,
it was powered
by a 323.5 cubic-inch
straight-eight
“Spitfire” engine capable of
producing 143 horsepower,
used an independent front
suspension with coil springs,
and a live rear axle with
semi-elliptic leaf springs.

First shown at the New York
Auto Show in October, 1940
there were a total of 6 Thunderbolts
manufactured, each with it’s
own unique color scheme,
and of these, 4 are known
to have survived.

If you wanted to drive one –
well,
up until December 2016-

you could have at least seen
a silver Thunderbolt at the
Walter P. Chrysler Museum
located in Auburn Hills, Michigan,
but that place has since closed down-

-a red Thunderbolt
(remember, each one had
it’s own color scheme)
sold at auction in 2006
for over a million dollars,

-and a green one that once
belonged to actor Bruce Cabot went for just under
a million in 2011.

But you know,
with enough $$$$ ,
I guess anything’s possible.

Umm.. yeah.

HOY !