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February 2010

1968 Plymouth Road Runner

Hot on the heels of our Camaro muscle-fest I went back and pulled this post out of the "Pending" box and decided to finally finish it. When I hear the word 'muscle car' the '68 Road Runner is the first car that leaps to mind. The Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro probably get the lion's share of attention these days Plymouth-Road-Runner-lg given,  as Rob noted, the abundance of aftermarket parts and experience out there such that just about anyone with a modicum of mechanical aptitude can get a decent, great-looking street machine going. And, truth be told, those cars have a certain fascination; they captured the cultural zeitgeist of the mid-late '60s youth culture perfectly and that nostalgia for lost youth is probably the major driver (pun intended) behind the huge market for those two models.

That and they were serious street racers. Big engines. Cool names. Camaro! Mustang! And heck, throw in Corvette! as well.

Then along comes a car from Plymouth named after a cartoon character with that bird's signature Beep! Beep! for a horn. Hello? 

Although many came before and after, the Road Runner--and I really include only the '68 in this--is, to my mind, as close as you get to the bare essence of what American muscle was all about: a cheap, stripped-down, mid-size coupe, bereft of nearly anything that didn't contribute to its getting down a quarter-mile strip of street or track in as little time as possible. Nearly anyone could afford to buy one and commence doing whatever modifications it took to take on anything else on the road. 

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This Specific Citroen CX

In the spirit of this old post that celebrates a specific Jeep Cherkoee, I offer my lust of this specific Citroen CX. I have already offered my more general praise of the delectable CX, a gorgeous and highly advanced car that ranks as my favorite Citroen of all time, higher even than the rally-car BX or the futuristic DS. Given all that, imagine my enthusiastic reaction when I opened up Craigslist and found this gorgeous CX wagon. My enthusiastic "Holy ****!" rattled windows in a five-mile radius. Photos after the jump.

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Saab Sonett III

Sonett II Green With all the news and hope of the survival and success of Saab and the upcoming release of their new 9-5, I'd like to pay tribute to the Saab that I hold dear and true. From my high school days of wanting a true "image" sports car, as well as getting away from all the same cars my friends had, I chased after the Saab Sonnet III more than once.

Its styling has been called Italian-inspired, and for good reason. These cars were, and still are, stunningly beautiful to the eyes. What other car could wear this shade of lime green and get away with it? In fact, the color and the car seem to compliment each other, in my opinion. This is the Euro version; after 1972, we got some really nasty bumpers on them (The last image here has the larger bumpers).

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Star Trek Cars -- the Jupiter 8

The one thing missing from our recent series on cars and Star Trek (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) was any mention of cars that actually appeared in Star Trek. There's a pretty good reason for this: there weren't a whole lot of science fictional ground vehicles in the original Trek series or the movies. The original series was produced on an impossibly tight budget which did not allow for the construction of full-sized vehicles or the special effects necessary to, say, show us Vulcan freeways or the monorail system on Tarsus IV. That was the whole reason for the transporter--get the characters from scene to scene quickly, and inexpensively.

The few vehicles that Trek did show us were mostly plain old Earth automobiles. The time travel stories which had the Enterprise crew visiting "present-day" Earth ("Tomorrow is Yesterday," "Assignment: Earth," The Search for Spock) had street scenes and stock footage, and vintage vehicles appeared in "City on the Edge of Forever" (time travel to New York in the 1930s) and "A Piece of the Action" (a planet where the locals had recreated Chicago, circa 1925). "A Piece of the Action" is also notable as the only instance where we see a member of the Enterprise crew operating a ground vehicle.

Despite the budget limitations, we did see one example of an alien automobile: the Jupiter 8 sports car produced on Planet 892-IV.

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Feb. 22 Weekly Open Thread - Checker Edition

As usual, this serves as the repository for any conversation that doesn't belong anywhere else.

We have a suggested theme from reader Bill T.:

"How about the Checker? I grew up in Detroit, and as I remember, all the cabs were Checkers. I was in Checkers a few times, and they were spartan but very functional. They were built in, I believe, Kalamazoo, several miles from Detroit. After several years, they introduced a sedan for the regular market, and one of its many features were doors (at least the back ones) that opened a full ninety degrees from the body. I don't know what led to Checker's demise, but it may have been the advent of the livery services that drove/used luxury models instead. Maybe it was the fact that they almost never changed much, but why change a good thing?"

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Camaro Super-Hugger . . . er, Hobbit


This Camaro "super-hugger" checks nearly all of the boxes on the drag racer's to-do list: immense "blown" (supercharged) V-8, extroverted paint colors, flames, stripes, side-pipes. What you can't tell from the picture above ...

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Car Disgust--1969 Chevrolet Camaro


Wait, Car Disgust? Say again?

Yes. The Chevrolet Camaro, one of the most iconic muscle cars of all time, is a car I loathe. In fact, it's one of my all time least favorite cars.

Sure, it has a prominent place in muscle-car history. Yes, it has quite attractive proportions, and classy yet aggressive styling. And yes, it can be quite the performer, depending on what lurks under the hood. All of these qualities made it huge success for Chevrolet, and to this day it remains as one of the most popular sporty cars in history ... which is why I can't stand the thing.

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Toyota Acceleration Issue Open Thread

We haven't really tackled the Toyota acceleration issue yet, both because we're not really a current events blog and because there's not much innately car lusty about alleged car failure and deaths.

But, if you'd like to talk about it, here's the place to do it. Remember--keep it respectful and stay away from politics.

--Chris H.

Feb. 15 Weekly Open Thread

My apologies for not providing an open thread last week--but here's this week's receptacle for all of our automotive wit, wisdom, and general tomfoolery.

--Chris H.

Ford/Mercury Capri II

Capri II 2 Chris Hafner whetted my curiosity with his Ford Capri post when he mentioned the Capri II. Though I remembered the Capri well, the Capri II somehow escaped my memory. Sure, the later '79 Mustang clone and the little car from Down Under are familiar, but the Capri II just drew a blank.

Our neighbors had a '72 Capri, so I saw their car almost every day. It was blue, and it represented a slightly more sophisticated means of travel than, say, a Pinto. And the one thing they taught me in that car was to pull way over to the right at an intersection when you're going to make a left. This is just a simple driving courtesy, like dimming your lights.

Hmmm... Mustang II, LTD II, Bronco II, Capri II... there seems to be a pattern forming here. Do you think we will see an Edsel II? Probably not.

So I did some homework on this forgotten car, and here's what I found: First and foremost, it was a hatchback, unlike the coupe version that Chris wrote about. The all-new Mercury Capri II made its debut here in 1975 as a '76 model. Nearly all of the previous model Capri had sold out, so the dealers started with clean lots. In its peak years, Capri sales in North America were the highest for any import model except the VW Beetle.

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Pictured above: This is a forlorn Chevy Vega photographed by reader Gary Sinar. (Share yours)

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