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September 2012

Carspotters' Challenge #31--Oregon Trail

Here's a vintage postcard of Madras, Oregon for your carspotting pleasure:

"You have reached Madras. Do you want to (1) eat (2) buy gas (3) buy souveniers or (4) continue?"

Have a seat by the window in the Towne House and look for interesting cars.

--Cookie the Dog's Owner

(Image obtained from the Studebaker Drivers Club Forum.)

Plymouth Sapporo

Sapporo!I was reading some old posts on the Studebaker Drivers Club forum for research purposes the other day when I came upon one thread where a gentleman referred to "the Car Lust weblog...where they think a Plymouth Sapporo is a classic". I get the feeling he didn't mean that as a compliment.

I also don't think he realized just how correct he was.

By Car Lust's (admittedly warped) standards, the Plymouth Sapporo is a classic. We at Car Lust appreciate--nay, celebrate!--cars that may have been a bit behind the curve, outside the mainstream, or otherwise below average in popularity or performance even in their heyday--including more than a few Studebakers. It should therefore come as no surprise that we would have warm, fuzzy feelings toward a half-forgotten Chrysler captive import from the Malaise Era.

More to the point, even when viewed more objectively, the Plymouth Sapporo was a pretty decent car--and that's no small accomplishment for a Malaise Era Mopar.

Continue reading "Plymouth Sapporo" »

Zamboni

Our subject for today is one of the most beloved four-wheeled vehicles of all time. Who among us has not dreamed of driving one?

Well I went down to the local arena
Asked to see the manager man
He came from his office, said "Son can I help you?"
Looked at him and said "Yes you can.
"Hey, I wanna drive the Zamboni
"Hey, I wanna drive the Zamboni
"Yes I do"

--"Zamboni" (1990). Composed by Martin Zellar; performed by The Gear Daddies

"Ladies and gentlemen, presenting...The Great Zamboni!"

Continue reading "Zamboni" »

September 24 Weekly Open Thread: Non-Muscle Muscle Car Edition

Submitted for your approval. . . .or ridicule or amusement or whatever: Popular Mechanics' Ten Wimpiest Muscle Cars Ever:

There's a dead zone in the history of performance cars between the hairy-chested muscle cars of the 1960s and the rebirth of power in the mid-1980s: the 1972–82 "malaise era," 03-chevy-monza-jpg_232414when machines were so strangled by new emissions rules that their performance levels were an embarrassment to even today's compact cars. Automakers slathered flashy paint and taped racy stripes and stickers to the hoods of the cars, but these 10 just couldn't get'er done at the dragstrip.

Regular readers will recognize some of these that have had starring(?) roles here at Car Lust.

Yeah, yeah, it's hard to argue that any of these are really "muscle cars" so I suppose you might wonder why I'm bothering even linking this. Well, that's the point: Virtually none of them were muscle cars. So why call attention to them being wimpy muscle cars? Look, the muscle car era ended in 1974 or thereabouts. Between insurance costs and emissions and mileage requirements, it didn't make financial sense to build muscle cars anymore. The technology just wasn't there to satisfy enviro requirements at any kind of reasonable cost. Besides, tastes had started to change by then, with customers moving more toward smaller and sportier (and better made) imports. So they quit making them.

The Mustang II, for instance, simply wasn't meant to be a muscle car from the beginning: it was. . .well, it ended up being pulled in a dozen different directions, from traditional pony car to sporty compact to personal luxury car. . .but never a muscle car. Yeah, they dressed it up some with paint-on performance, but that was more marketing concept than design.

Like we say here, judge many of these cars by what they were, not by what we thought they should be.

As always, feel free to discuss anything else vaguely car-related. Image taken from the article.

Carspotters' Challenge #30--Surfside Safari

We're at the Surfside Pier in Surfside Beach, South Carolina this week.

Surfside Pier 1967
The photo is dated 1967.  There should be more than enough in here to keep you all busy for a while.

--Cookie the Dog's Owner

1935-36 Auburn "Boattail" Speedster

The Auburn Automobile Company was one of the many "independent" automakers that was unable to survive the Great Depression. Like its fellow Hoosier Studebaker a generation later, Auburn did not go gentle into that good night.

Studebaker made its last stand in the early '60s with a burst of creativity all out of proportion to the resources it had to work with, producing the Gran Turismo Hawk, the Lark, the unique Wagonaire, and the timelessly swank Avanti. So, too, with Auburn, whose last years produced two cars which are still counted as among the most beautiful things ever to roll on four wheels: the "coffin nosed" Cord 810/812 and the topic of today's lesson, the Auburn Model 851 and 852 Speedsters, the last of the "Boattails."

This is what Art Deco looks like, pal.

Continue reading "1935-36 Auburn "Boattail" Speedster" »

September 17 Weekly Open Thread--Electric Car Whines

Leaf WOTSome say that electric cars are too quiet in everyday traffic. That they need some sort of artificial noise maker so that everybody around them can hear them. Well, some real life experiences tell me that all the flak about dangerously quiet electric cars is unnecessary.

The Nissan Leaf will be built in Smyrna, TN, starting in December of this year. So with the close proximity of the plant to me, and with Nissan's corporate headquarters literally between home and my favorite jumbo home improvement store, it seems we have an overabundance of Leafs. There are even a few running around in my neighborhood judging by their multitude of hues, and I'm sure there will be more to come.

Part of the reason for having a roadster is to let the top down and enjoy the outdoors wherever you go. So in these warm summer nights, I'll drop the top while heading over to the warehouse store. That exposes me to the traffic and elements probably moreso than any other vehicle except a motorcycle.

This has given me many opportunities to listen to them in traffic, as well as walking beside them while I'm on a sidewalk. And you know what? I think they make about as much noise as any other small car. That makes the addition of any noise-making device seem unnecessary, at best.

So is all of the noise about silent cars just a bunch of whining? Has anybody else been around electric cars lately and heard (or not heard) them? Do you think they need audible warning devices?

And of course, this is your once-in-a-weektime opportunity to say anything about vehicular transportation.

--That Car Guy (Chuck)

Image Credit: The black Leaf image is from the post here on Car Lust.

Carspotters' Challenge #29--Come Fly With Me

This week, we return to Idlewild Airport (now JFK) in New York City, in the Age of Swank.  Here's the parking lot outside the Pan Am Worldport...

Pan Am Worldport
...and the taxi stand outside the TWA Flight Center.

TWA terminal
See anything that stands out for you?

--Cookie the Dog's Owner

(Images obtained from the SDC Forum.)

1991/1992 Ford F-150 "Nite"

1183While on vacation in California in July/August, 2012, I saw this pristine 20-year-old Ford F-150 Nite. It was a rare Styleside model, short wheelbase. Luckily I had the camera with me.

Obviously somebody else appreciates them, as few classic trucks look like this. It looked 100% stock and brand new... even the reflective stripes were shiny and working. And inside the rear wheel well, do we see any dirt? I don't.

Seeing this pristine beauty appear out of nowhere brought back a lot of memories and was the inspiration for this post. I mean... the truck looked as new as the one I had driven back in 1990. Its perfect, reflective black sheen and multi-hued tape stripe made it stand out even among the brand new cars.

It brought back many other memories as well.

Continue reading "1991/1992 Ford F-150 "Nite"" »

Car Disgust: 1997-1999 Oldsmobile Cutlass

(Submitted by Car Lust reader and commenter Al Sapp)

Cutlass 4In the late 80’s, Pontiac’s ad campaigns forced themselves right into your face. One such commercial, seen on this blog a few years back, featured a kick-ass hair metal jingle, with people dressed in all white power sliding Trans-Ams and Fieros around dark neon-y streets, high fiving, and pointlessly jumping into the back seats of drop top Sunbirds. The whole theme for all the tin Indians back then was “We build excitement!”  However, this was still a period when the Firebird’s speedometer still only went up to 85. Of course, Pontiac paid no attention to that, and still stressed the “buy a Grand Am or get left in the dust” spiel.

Down the hall at Oldsmobile, things were just a little bit different. From commercials ranging from a car singing about the fact that it “knows the roads from Oregon to Maine”; ads claiming “this is the new generation of Oldsmobile.” And then there’s the one we all fall over laughing at: This is not your father’s Oldsmobile.” (Note from TCG [Chuck]: Al, I inserted that link; that's my house at 16:00.)

Olds tried telling everybody that they didn’t build bland, dull, boring cars. This was just plain ol’ simple denial. They didn’t build interesting cars. They built hoary cars, and labeled them exciting. The reason we laugh at “This is not father’s Oldsmobile” is because it’s a good source of irony. When Olds was running these ads, the cars they were building were your father’s Oldsmobile.

Continue reading "Car Disgust: 1997-1999 Oldsmobile Cutlass" »

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

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