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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.

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The 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage: Little, But Not Necessarily Mighty

Currently, the Mitsubishi trades paint with Chevy Spark for the questionable honor of being the cheapest new car you can buy in America. But for one thing, how cheap is $14K? Even after adjusting for inflation, it seems that entry-level Basic Transportation used to cost less. And second, what are you giving up for that extra few thousand bucks? At the end of the day, it worth it to get the cheapest car on the market, just for the sake of having a new car? Let’s investigate.

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Notes from the 2014 Cleveland Auto Show - Part One

The 2014 Cleveland Auto Show runs through Sunday, March 9. I was there on Saturday the 1st, and here's some of what I saw.

Ford would like one of these to be in your future.100_3939100_3942

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Scion: 10 Years After

(This post was submitted by longtime Car Lust reader, commentor, and occasional contributor Tigerstrypes.)

Scion at 10 1

I'll admit that I make it a habit to see what turns 20, 30, 40, etc., years old. But I'll also admit that I was caught off guard by Scion's 10th Anniversary until I saw their Scion 10 Series commercial:

 

  

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The Way We Were - Big Chris

While I haven't had a list of tremedous vehicles I've driven, what I lack in quality I make up for in quantity.

My first two cars were Toyota Corollas.  I started with a 1979 in white with 4 doors and a 5-speed manual.  We got this from some relatives and my parents drove it for a year or so before I was old enough to drive.  Unfortunately, I don't own photos of most of my vehicles (or most of my childhood).  We didn't own a camera most of my life (crazy huh?) and it just was never a concern of mine to document these sorts of things.  The '79 was a great learner car.  It was a stick, and it was slow.  So I got good experience but was limited in how quickly I could do stupid things.  Eventually the clutch cable broke, and the car wasn't worth fixing with some of the other issues that began to crop up with it.

The second Corolla was a dirt brown 1978 2-door with the automatic transmission (was previously my grandparent's car).  The only option it had was a rear window defroster.  Both Corollas were glorified beer cans with wheels.  I give thanks I was never in an accident in them.  The only claim to fame for the brown car was that we sold it with nearly 300K on it for something like $500.  The body was shot, everything mechanical worked, but barely.  Suspension was laughable.  But 4 years later the same guy who bought it was driving it around town still.  You just couldn't kill it.  A cockroach of cars.

The next car I got was a 1984 VW Rabbit.  4 doors, tan everywhere, and epically slow.  My first front wheel drive car and my first hatchback.  It was as uninspiring as a car could get, but it served me well until the distributor broke off in the motor.  I regularly ferried about a half ton of offensive linemen home after football practice in this little car.  Rear bumper just barely above rubbing pavement.  Imagine three linemen in the back seat of a VW Rabbit.  Yeah.

Bob

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The Way We Were: Chuck Lynch, aka That Car Guy

Chuck Lynch (That Car Guy)

Well Anthony, you asked for it, you got it. First off, here's a picture of me in 1972 standing beside my first street legal motor vehicle, a 1972 Harley-Davidson 125cc Rapido. That's me, second from left, under the arrow. The late Mr. Bill Abernathy, who sponsored the event, is to the left; David and Kevin are to the right. Dave owned a 1966 GMC Value Van about three years after this picture was taken:

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Car Lust Classic: Car Respect--Geo Metro

Please note: This feature was first posted by Chris Hafner on April 22, 2008. Please place any new comments on the original post.

Metro1I'm not actually going to write a Car Lust for a Geo Metro, simply because it doesn't generate lust for me. I have a lot of respect for the Metro, but as we can see in other walks of life, respect does not always equal lust. My respect for the Metro is a purely intellectual response; the only real emotion the Metro prompts in me is a slight tinge of ennui.

(Note that this isn't really true of the Metro's predecessor, the Chevy Sprint--its turbocharged variant will be appearing in this space someday as a bona fide Car Lust.)

Yet the Metro, in its own way, was as superlative as any Porsche, as extreme a performer in its sphere as any Ferrari. Its forte? Providing maximum fuel economy and usefulness for the minimum price. Within that context, the Metro was the ne plus ultra.

There has been a lot of conversation lately about alternative-fuel cars, hybrids, electric cars, hydrogen-fueled cars, Smart cars, and the like--all very cool developments, all interesting additions to the automotive world. Then fellow Amazon blogger Rich Sloan blogged about his friend's Smart fortwo--and subsequently got roasted in the comments for saying that his friend's fuel costs were $0 after 142 miles.

All of this really puts into context just how amazing the Geo Metro was--or, possibly, that we just haven't made much progress on fuel economy in the last decade. I like both the Smart and the Prius--there's something gadgety about them that appeals to me--but if your goal is just to have a useful gas-sipping car, it would be hard to do better than a Geo Metro.

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2013 Nashville British Car Club Show... "Brits At The Parthenon"

"Brits At The Parthenon"

2013 Nashville British Car Club Show 058

Well, we're back again. And it's another unbelievably perfect Autumn day, October 12, 2013, to be exact. We're in Centennial Park in Nashville, Tennessee, to see the 2013 Nashville British Car Club Show.

And does it get any better than a British Racing Green Jaguar E-Type in front of the Parthenon? Yes of course it could, but only if the Vanderbilt University Marching Band was practicing right across the street... which it was.

This was the fourth year in a row (2010, 2011, 2012) that I have motored into Music City USA to see this event. And never has it been disappointing. This year's theme was simply "Brits At The Parthenon," which didn't single out any particular make, model, or time period. And I think that was a good thing.

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1978 Toyota Corolla

Toyota Corolla coupe
Photo from Wikipedia
My first two cars were both Toyota Corollas.  My parents had been driving a white third generation 1978 Corolla for a year or so after having purchased it from my great aunt.  She wanted something newer, and we were broke, so it was a win-win situation I guess.  That is if you can call getting one of these Corollas a win.

The 1978 Corolla was an incredibly unremarkable vehicle.  It was basic transportation and nothing more.  The interior was as spartan as they come. Mostly plastic and metal, with some flimsy pressboard panels on the doors.  The seats were uncomfortable and unsupportive, and as they aged, prone to moving a notch or two on their own at times.

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A cheap new car?

7-scion-iq-2dr-hatchBack in February, Kiplinger did a story on the 10 cheapest cars to own in 2013 that I recently stumbled upon and found interesting.

They seem to arrive at a fairly accurate conclusion on the expenses of owning a car.

"The price you negotiate for a car and the interest on your car loan are only part of the cost of owning a new vehicle. Depreciation, taxes and fees, and what you pay over the years for insurance, fuel, maintenance and repairs are all important ingredients in the long-term cost of ownership. Even the opportunity cost of out-of-pocket expenses (what you'd make by investing the money elsewhere) is part of the overall tally."

and

 

"The market price is the average transaction cost and reflects consumer rebates. Fuel costs are based on $3.23 a gallon for regular gasoline and 15,000 miles a year of mixed city and highway driving. The ownership cost assumes you are paying 2.76% interest on a five-year loan but that you can recoup the cost of the car, minus depreciation, when you sell the vehicle after five years."

 

They selected vehicles with manual transmissions (unless noted otherwise) due to fuel economy for operations costs. The cars were largely without options, though most had CD players (they're still putting them in cars?!?) and AUX input for audio options. All cars have stability control, at least 6 airbags, traction control and anti-lock brakes.

(Click through here for the full article with more details on each car)

The cars they came up with were (with total 5-year ownership costs):

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

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