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The Forgotten Mustang

As of this year, the Ford Mustang, the prototype, archetype, and trope maker of the "pony car," has been in production for half a century. In all the discussion of the Mustang's golden anniversary, and its unquestionably important place in the history of the American automobile, I've seeen very little about the other Mustang, the Mustang that came before the Mustangs that we all know and love.

Ford publicity photo, 1962The "Mustang I" concept car of 1962.

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RIP James Garner

The world lost a fine gentleman and actor this past week. We here at Car Lust express our thanks to Mr. Garner for gracing us with his craft all these years and our regrets at his passing. To help celebrate his life in our own somewhat peculiar way, we're linking to an old post of mine about the car(s) of The Rockford Files. Garner had some input into the choice of automobile for the show and did most if not all of the stunt driving himself; he was that good. And he earned kudos from the real drivers on the set of Grand Prix for learning the craft of Formula 1 racing to a high level. And if that weren't enough, by all accounts Garner was just a damned decent fellow. 

Rest in peace, Mr. Garner. And thank you.

1970-1981 Pontiac Firebird Esprit

by Anthony Cagle on February 08, 2011

You may not ever have heard of this car, but many of you over a certain age probably already know of it. The Firebird, arguably, rarely gets quite the attention that the Chevrolet division's sister car, the EspritCamaro, does but it has a nice lineage and it produced quite a few memorable cars--even though a lot of them appear here at Car Lust rather than in the big muscle car magazines and web sites.

I always preferred the Firebird to the Camaro myself, for whatever reason, and the second generation has always been my favorite, especially the later '70s. Again, for whatever reason, the first generation'sstyling never quite did it for me; it just looks to me like something that was thrown together quickly to get something into the pony car market (this is all apart from the performance which was generally stellar). The second generation's styling just seems to have been well thought out with clean lines, good proportions all around, and manages to seem elegant, powerful, and sporty all at the same time. They look good from any angle. Although I adore my Mustang II the Firebirds from that time remain my absolute favorite car.

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1963 Volkswagen Dunebuggy

Sometimes life gets in the way of having fun.  This is true when it comes to having fun with our cars.  Cars should be more than just tools in our lives.  Many (all?) of us dream of having a great car to have fun in, but for some of us it takes a while to reach the place where that can happen.  For others that "while" is 36 years.

2012-07-15 12.47.54

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Willys Jeep Wagon

Submitted for your consideration, a charming example of a Willys Jeep Station Wagon, the first all-steel wagon and the mother of all SUVs.

Willys Jeep Wagon 4

This particular Willys was spotted and photographed on the streets of Rocky Ford, Colorado, this past Fourth of July, by my friend Norman Kincaide.

Willys Jeep Wagon 6

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VW Rabbit Pickup: 1980-1983

This is what I wrote some time ago about the Chevrolet El Camino:

Ladies, you may stop reading right now. Avert your eyes, if you must, because this post is about men. Real men. Manly men. Who do manly things in manly ways, that only manly men can do them. Men who mow their own lawns, fix a leaky faucet, and change their own oil. Men who brew up a pot of battery acid every morning. Men who use after-shave, not "post-shave skin conditioner with aloe, seaweed extract and Vitamin E with a subtle scent of coriander." Men who wouldn't touch a quiche with a 10-foot fork. Men who only drink whiskeys that are named after animals or people. Men who only cry when their father or best hunting dogs die. Men who frankly, my dear, don't give a damn. Men who know every manly cliche from the last 30 years and aren't afraid to use them.

These men drive a particular type of car. A car that drips testosterone like a leaky gasket. A car that says, "I know what I need, and this is it." These type of men know that they'll never drive the length and breadth of the Kalahari, but they will sure as hell be hauling 4-by-8s home from the lumberyard (note: not the "home improvement store"). Men who don't need fine Corinthian leather or a station wagon dressed up as an Urban Assault Vehicle. No, this is the Steve McQueen of cars: no entourage, no workout video, and no froufrou drinks with umbrellas in them.

This...

"That's no ordinary Rabbit."...is not that kind of car. 

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Car Lust Classic: 1961 Lincoln Continental

Hey folks, it's the Good Old Summertime, and what better way to spend it than in a classy convertible? And is there any more class than a Lincoln Continental convertible... one not just with 4 doors, but with 2 suicide doors as well?

This Car Lust post was originally presented by Cookie The Dog's Owner on July 14, 2011. It begins with the sedan models, but the pictures of the available convertibles farther into the post are definitely lustworthy:

Mid-century modernist design is making something of a comeback. No small number of our fellow citizens are enamored of martinis and blond wood and Barcelona chairs and boomerang-patterned Formica, eagerly re-creating the look and feel of the culture that the Sixties counterculture was countering.

It doesn't get much more mid-century than this. The mid-century movement broke out into the mainstream in 2007 with Mad Men, the AMC drama series that perfectly captures the look of the Eisenhower-Kennedy era. Mad Men wasn't the start of the trend, though: there had been a lounge-music revival and a Googie architecture preservation movement around for quite a while, you just had to know where to look for them. This fall [(2011)], there will be two new series on broadcast TV that are aiming for that Mad Men vibe: one about Pan American World Airways which features gorgeous stewardesses CGI Boeing 707s, and another about Playboy bunnies that I can't watch because my wife would kill me it'll air opposite Hawaii Five-0.

It therefore seems an auspicious time to take a look at what is arguably the ultimate mid-century automobile, a car that's a perfect summary of its time and place. It's Nat King Cole on wheels dressed in Botany 500 sheetmetal, as elegant as Jacqueline Kennedy and so swank you could fuel it with cocktails....

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"Cruise-In" at the Templar Motors Factory

David Buehler, who showed me around the old Templar Motors factory in Lakewood for the post I wrote last winter, was interviewed for last Sunday's episode of Cruise-In, a locally-produced car show. Here's the episode on YouTube; David and the Templars take up the first twelve minutes or so.

--Cookie the Dog's Owner

The Luxury Chevette, The "1977 Leata"

They say that you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. But nobody told these folks that, because they did. Sort of. In a way. Kind of.

Yes, it's our duty here at Car Lust to bring some obscure, unloved vehicles to light, and Holy Moly, do we have a winner today. Move over Mustang II Silver Ghia, step aside Vega Notchback Cabriolet, begone Levi's Gremlin... we hereby present the 1977 Leata. No, not the Reatta, the Leata.

The formula for this automobilia luxuriouso obscuriata: Take one brand new stock 1977 Chevy Chevette. Install fiberglass body panels. A rear vinyl half-roof with opera windows is a must. Nicer wheels are a definite improvement. Reupholster the seats, door panels, and everything else in that spartan interior that you possibly can.

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Subaru Justy 1987-1994

Following a bit on my post from last week on the Subaru Outback, I thought I'd send a shout out to another of Subaru's goofy little models: the Justy. I'll be honest: I don't really lust after this car. It was Suby_justysmall and underpowered and not very interesting to look at and I'm not sure what all else, but I never thought much of it, with one exception: I really liked the commercial. 

Other than that, it was more or less derived from a Kei car, and had a tiny 1.2-liter 3-cylinder engine and came with either front- or four-wheel drive. The 4WD was what really set it apart; it may not have been the first or only 4WD subcompact out there, but it's the only one that immediately springs to my mind at least. And while I gently deride the engine -- the original carbed engine put out a (none too) whopping 66 bhp -- it did get fuel injection in 1991 which bumped that up a bit and I think was a neat feature for such a tiny little car. 

And, no, I don't know where the name "Justy" came from. 

But, alas, unlike the BRAT which I would dearly love to have, I'm content to just reminisce a bit over the Justy. And it gives me an opportunity to link to their utterly and completely brilliant commercial:

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Subaru Outback: I've Got a Dyslexic Heart

Do I read you correctly, I need you directly
Now, help me with this part
Do I love you? Do I hate you?
I got a dyslexic heart
-- Paul Westerberg, "Dyslexic Heart"

OutbackGen1Yeah, that pretty much sums up my feelings regarding the Subaru Outback. Do I love it for being a practical, non-offensive-looking, Everyman's sport utility wagon? Or do I hate it for being soulless and and styleless and intimately associated with the Birkenstocks-and-socks-wearing set? Who will get irritated most depending on which side I come down on? 

Sometimes it's tough being a Car Lust contributor.

I'll readily concede that I'm occasionally influenced in my taste for a lot of things by the (real or imagined) kinds of people associated with certain items. I admitted as much in my gentle diatribe against the BMW 3-Series and that same sentiment extends to other things. Ferinstance, I was reluctant to get a Mac for a long time because, well, I didn't want to be seen as a Mac PersonTM ("OOOoo, let's wait in line 36 hours for the new iPhone. The headphone jack is on the bottom this time!"). There's even a chance I might have bought a Grateful Dead album at one point but I'd never have gotten past the thought that someone, somewhere might associate me with Deadheads (What do Deadheads say when they're not high? "Hey, this band really sucks."). Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I also admit that I have a proclivity, on occasion, to try for the Ironically HipTM look. You know, like driving around in a hopped-up old pickup truck with fuzzy dice dangling from the rear view and Spandau Ballet cranked up really loud. But I digress.

So I have some trouble with the Outback. I want to hate it, but I just can't; I want to love it, but I just can't. It's functional and practical and efficient and reliable and . . . .bland. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But. . . .

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

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