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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.

Continue reading "The Luxury Chevette, The "1977 Leata"" »

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. . . .

Continue reading "Subaru Outback: I've Got a Dyslexic Heart" »

Car Lust Mustang Classic: Mustang II Cobra II

We end our Mustang retrospective week with a true classic Car Lust: The Mustang II. This post generate moderate interest when it was first put up, but after I linked to it on a Mustang II enthusiast site the partisans came out to defend their car. As much as I love the II's -- I own one, after all -- I had to admit that Chris was mostly correct: It wasn't the greatest car of its time. My view is that the II tried to be too many different things at once -- pony car, personal luxury car, small sporty import, etc. -- and ended up not being very good at any of them. I still think it was a far better car in a lot of ways than the preceding generations, but there you have it. 

by Chris Hafner on September 21, 2007

I wouldn't feel right running a week-long Poseur Muscle Cars in the Afternoon feature without honoring the granddaddy of faux muscle cars, the hands-down premier combination of puffed-up ostentation with knock-kneed weakness, the in-the-sheetmetal realization of the saying "All Hat and No Cattle."

Yes, we're discussing the Ford Mustang II--the Pinto-based blasphemy to the Mustang name. Even today, if you mention the Mustang II to hard-core Mustang fans, they're likely to blanch and quickly change the subject.

When the Mustang II was introduced in 1974, the idea of a downsized Mustang was a pretty solid one. The previous-generation Mach 1 was a massive car--still easily the largest Mustang of all time--that could nevertheless really only fit two people comfortably. Given the trends of the time, a smaller car and a smaller engine made much more sense.

Still... a Mustang based on a Pinto? The Mustang II, symbolizing, I suppose, the rebirth of the Mustang, wasn't a terrible-looking car when it debuted. In fastback trim, with the original relatively understated graphics, it looked pretty good. The Ghia luxury notchback edition, on the other hand, looked pretty awful.
 

Car Lust Mustang Classic: 1964-1966 Mustang

This post was part of our All-America Week back in 2011 where we celebrated many classic American cars. The original Mustang could not conceivably be excluded from that list.

Ya know, I can't believe we haven't done this car yet. After all, this may be the most lusted-after MustangTempaffordable and available car in American history. "Mustang Fever" overtook the USA in 1964, and it hasn't gone away yet.

I guess this post is a little late to the party to be included in our recent "Old Fords Week," but as timeless as these cars are, maybe they don't belong there anyway. I'll stay away from just a boring history of the car (We all pretty well know it anyway) and just try to explain why I think we admire these so much.

I think the main reason people first liked these Mustangs is because anybody could make a Mustang their Mustang, and on a reasonable budget. Each Mustang could be carefully built from Ford's options list, and would be truly unique to the customer.

Mustang showRather than today's mundane trim packages that let you constantly meet yourself on the highway, personalization was what these first Mustangs were all about. And I don't think that philosophy has ever changed.

At one time, there were over 500 dealer spon- sored Mustang Clubs across the country and around the world. 1970 was the peak year with over 200,000 Mustang club members worldwide. In addition to swapping information and stories about them, they are also a great source for parts, or maybe even to find the Mustang of your dreams.

So, do you want to keep it all original? Maybe make it look stock, but replace the suspension, brakes, and drivetrain with modern stuff? You can do anything you want to a Mustang to make it your car.

To read the rest of this post and comment click here

 

Car Lust Mustang Classic: The First Special Edition Mustang

Today's Mustang Classic deals with one of the "Special Edition" Mustangs from the first generation. 

I was cashing a check at the bank recently, and the friendly teller lady had a picture of her '66 Mustang MustangTempright there. I knew we had cars in common and that car obviously meant a lot to her, so I asked her about it. She proudly told me it was a "High Country" Mustang; a car that I had never heard of.

There were people in line behind me, so I got all of the information from her that I could as quickly as I could. She motioned to the extra fender badge, and I smiled and acted like I knew what she was talking about.

But later I talked with a bud of mine who has owned several Mustangs and taken them down to their last lock washer. He hadn't heard of them either... so then I didn't feel so bad.

HC Ad 1966Sales were slow in late 1966, so to boost them locally, a special promotion vehicle for Colorado-area Ford dealers was made. The 1966 High Country Mustangs were special in that they had an extra badge on each front fender, a choice of three unique colors: Aspen Gold, Columbine Blue, or Timberline Green, and, well, that's about it. But all 1966 Mustang body styles, powertrain combinations, and all other options were available with the package.

To read the rest of this post and comment click here

 

Car Lust Mustang Classic: Can You Go Home Again?

Today's Mustang classic was originally submitted by Car Lust reader and Carspotting: Auto Archeology Editor Michael E. Gouge. It's a wonderful ode to Michael's automotive youth and rekindling at least some of what made it such a grand time, connecting two generations of Mustang. 

Mustang guest post
For my fellow car lovers, there is no need to explain the bond a 16-year-old has with his first car. Mine was a 1966 Mustang in Nightmist Blue, and it opened up a world of freedom, of escapism, of pleasure in the sound of an engine purring along an open road. In other words, this angst-filled teenager discovered a home, a sanctuary, in a Mustang.  Three decades hence, that old pony car--along with my youth and a new-found euphoria for the open road--are but memories.

Thomas Wolfe, the acclaimed Lost Generation author who hailed from my hometown of Asheville, N.C., famously wrote, “You can’t go home again.”  The phrase comes from the title of Wolfe’s follow-up novel, published posthumously, to his thinly veiled scathing depiction of Asheville in his classic 1929 work, “Look Homeward Angel.”

Wolfe wrote, “You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood, back home to romantic love, back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and fame … back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.”

I’m offering this brief note on literature because I find myself in some ways journeying back to those youthful dreams and memories Wolfe found are often ruined by time and circumstance. My time machine: A descendant of my long-lost Mustang.

To read the rest of this post click here.

 

Car Lust Mustang Classic: 1984-86 SVO

Another day, another Mustang. This time a true Car Lust Classic: the 1984-86 Mustang SVO. It was a different kind of Mustang in a more European mold, with a turbo 4-cylinder and an emphasis on handling over straight-line performance. While a truly fine car, it didn't make much of a lasting impact on the Mustang line.

I usually go on and on about cars with big honkin' V-8s in big American iron and leave the sporty little 1980

2-MustangSVOs turbo coupes to my fellow bloggers. That's probably the result of the era that I grew up in, where displacement was king and handling an afterthought, if that. Long hood, short deck, and no fewer than 8 cylinders of raw muscle, that's for me, thankyouverymuch.

In a departure from my usual schtick, I shall now sing the praises of another of the forgotten Mustangs  and a true Car Lust special: a 4-cylinder turbocharged Mustang, the SVO (Special Vehicle Operations) made from 1984-1986. It was probably the closest the Mustang ever came to a European-style coupe in terms of execution and all-around performance. And, of course, in true Car Lust fashion, it pretty much went nowhere, too.

To continue reading this post, click here.

Car Lust Mustang Classic: Ford Mustang Boss 302

We begin our retrospective tribute to the Mustang with one of the (few) truly classic cars we've covered, the Boss 302 by our own Chris Hafner.
 

Boss3021_2 I've been doing a little bit of introspection lately, and in the course of that introspection I've realized I've done a really poor job of representing muscle cars. Okay, I started off with a few bona fide muscle cars, but after that most of the muscle car-related Car Lusts have been poseur muscle cars, or cars like the Chevy Cavalier Z24 or Shelby Charger. Don't get me wrong--I love those cars--but frankly my inattention to true, glorious muscle cars is scandalous and unrepresentative.

I've also realized that the only love I've thrown the Ford Mustang's way, in the form of dubbing the Mustang II a poseur muscle car, was pretty backhanded. Happily, Anthony Cagle responded with a post extolling the virtues of his Mustang II. Well, no more of this shabby treatment.

 

Happy Birthday, Mustang!

It was 50 years ago this month that one of the most iconic cars in American history went on sale. April 17, 1964 to be exact. It debuted on April 16 at the World's Fair and went on sale the next day, going on to become one of the best selling cars in Ford's history and giving its name to a new class of automobile: the Pony Car. And we here at Car Lust are going to spend the next week or two looking back at some of TwoMustangsthe models we've profiled over the years. 

The Mustang went through a lot of changes over the past half century. What started out as, essentially, a dressed-up Ford Falcon soon became a monster muscle car, an accomplished Trans-Am racer, and the automotive star of numerous films. Through the dark performance days of the 1970s, it shifted back to its roots as a small sporty car, the Mustang II, probably by doing so saved itself from the fate of several other of its pony car stable mates. After a thorough redesign in 1979 it matured through the 1980s and 1990s to become a favorite of the tuner crowd, especially the 1989-1993 model years (which they very nearly screwed up). After a questionable redesign in 1994, Ford reached back into the nostalgia bin in 2005 and made the Mustang a classic once again. And now they've evolved it even further for its Golden Anniversary year into. . .well, we'll have to wait an see a bit longer how it all comes together. 

How to explain its success? 

Continue reading "Happy Birthday, Mustang!" »

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

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