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Remembering George Barris Week: "1914" Stutz Bearcat replica

(Originally posted by Cookie The Dog's Owner on November 13, 2008.)

Submitted by John Boyle

BearcatI am the owner of one of the replica 1914 Stutz Bearcats built for the 1971 TV series Bearcats! by custom car builder George Barris.

I bought the car in 1998 and spent two years restoring it while I was living in Abilene, Texas. I had never owned a unique (that's a good word for a Barris car) car before so I went into the restoration with blind faith and a lot of luck. Luckily, I had just finished helping a friend restore my 1977 Jeep CJ-5 Levi's Edition Renegade, so I was much less a "babe in the woods"automotively speaking than I would have been a couple of years before.

We did all the work locally, with the exception of some brass refinishing and overhauling the brass radiator, which I sent to a specialist who restores high-dollar brass cars in California. I was the general contractor and, with my friend Charlie's help, put the car back together. Mechanically, it was sound--the Ford drivetrain really paid off. I changed the generator to a GM “one-wire” alternator, and had the master cylinder and carb rebuilt. I was able to walk into an auto parts store with a wheel cylinder and walk out 45 minutes later with a new set--try that with a real Bearcat! By comparison, I have a friend in the Stutz Club whose '18 Bearcat was off the road for two years while he sourced a starter. No such troubles with mine. (Knock wood.) The body is all metal and required only a repaint. I had new upholstery done and a new instrument panel made with new old-fashioned looking dials. The new wood wheels took a wheelwright in Oklahoma a year to fashion out of solid hickory. They came out great.

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Our First Cars Week (Week Two): 1967 Pontiac LeMans 2dr Hardtop

1967-Pontiac-LeMans-3Dad's '67 LeMans wasn't the first car I actually owned, but it was the car I learned to drive in, and the car I had more or less unrestricted use of once the state of Ohio gave me permission to be out on the public roads without adult supervision.

Ours was a bronze-ish shade called "Coronado Gold," topped with a black vinyl roof, much like the one in the photo at right.  It had bucket seats and a console shifter for the automatic, and there was a V-8 under the hood, probably a 326, with a single carb. Even with steelies and hubcaps instead of mag wheels, and a mere AM radio with a single speaker in the dash, it seemed sporty enough to a 15-year old with a learner's permit and a burning desire to go faster than the law would allow as long as Mom and Dad weren't watching.

Truth be told, it wasn't all that great a car.

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Our First Cars Week (Week Two): 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo

IMG_0725The Our First Cars series couldn’t have come at a more opportune time: 2015 marks the 10th Anniversary of when I got my driver’s license. With that in mind, I’ve toyed with the idea of breaking the silence and talk about “my” first car: a 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo.

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Our First Cars Week (Week Two): Chris Hafner's 1986 Toyota Celica

Chris Toyota CelicaI can't say I actually feel Car Lust towards this scabby 1986 Toyota Celica GT--it's probably more like Car Love. Or, at the very least, Car Affection. It's the sort of feeling reserved not for your first love, or your first crush--those are more intense emotions--but the gentle fondness that you feel for your first girlfriend or boyfriend.

You see, this Celica was my first car. Not the first car I drove regularly, but the first car to be owned and driven exclusively by me. Because of that, and the fact that it was such a trustworthy companion, it holds a special place in my heart and first nurtured in me the love of nondescript older cars. The Celica was also my first hands-on experience with the beauty and majesty of a hatchback.

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Our First Cars Week (Week Two): Chuck's 1972 Vega Hatchback

Fair Warning Dear Readers. This may be the most positive review of a Chevy Vega since 1973.

Vega day 1I wasn't even halfway through my 16th year, but it was time to have a car. I had a couple of motorcycles up to then, but the junior year of high school wasn't far away, and I needed a ride.

For whatever reasons, the idea of a small car won out over and large or muscle cars. Or any trucks. I really wanted a '65 or '66 Mustang, but they were just considered "old cars" in 1973. A Chevy Nova would have been nice, but...

The Vega was still new to the car scene, and they were really cool in those early years. The Vega GT was the most fun and racy looking, especially with the sport stripes that were usually found on them.

One day while riding around our little town, I spotted a red Hatchback on a used car lot. We stopped in, and it looked like new. Plus it had some very desirable options... air conditioning (This was July in Tennessee after all), tinted glass, the Custom Interior, and it had a 4-speed. The Hatchback also had wheel trim rings, "bright" metal body side moldings, and the all-important AM push button radio. Immediately, I began to wonder how many gears I could bark the tires in.

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Carspotters’ Challenge #153: UNO Criss Library, April 1979

Since this week's theme is about Our First Cars, this picture came to mind. It's the Dr. C.C. and Mabel L. Criss Library at the University of Nebraska Omaha. 

Flickr uno criss library Color. Parking South of ASH. April 1979 5425784303_62b1eb35f2_b
Click here for bigger version.

Flickr uno criss library Color. Parking South of ASH. April 1979  5425784261_8d65333262_b
Click here for bigger version.

The reason? Many of us used our first cars to go to high-school and/or college. The time period we've attended these places may or may not be the same, but those of us that were blessed with not only a decent education but also a set wheels to get there can find reasons to relate to it.




References: and University Archives, University of Nebraska Omaha Criss Library.


Our First Cars Week: My First Car(s)

I'm a bit torn on this one because this discussion more or less depends on what the definition of my first car entails. Is it the first one I drove almost exclusively as mine, or the first one I actually owned and drove outright? 

One might think that the latter would be my car of choice, the one I look back on with fond memories

Anthony's Buickthrough rose colored glasses and lament that I ever let it slip away from me. One might think that, but one would be dead wrong in my case. I hated that thing. That 1975 Buick Century perfectly embodied everything that was wrong with the American automotive industry in the later 1970s: heavy, underpowered, and unreliable. I did have quite a few memorable (née, nostalgic) adventures in that old Buick -- from an epic road trip from the mid-west bound for the west coast to a delightful summer on an island with a nicely attractive young blonde -- but I still hated it then and hate it now. No matter how much of my hard-earned money I spent on it (which was to say, $1; I "bought" it from my parents). 

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Our First Cars Week - 1979 Toyota Corolla (E71)

image from
"Toyota Corolla E70 4 door sedan" by Charles01 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons -

My first two cars were both Toyota Corollas.  I started with a 1979, and after a few years replaced it with a 1978 model.  Both were interesting in their own right.

Growing up, my family didn't have a lot of money. So when the opportunity came to buy my great uncle's 1979 Corolla with a family discount, my parents jumped at it.  My parents drove the car for a couple of years leading up to my being old enough to drive.  I grew up in South Dakota, where you can get your permit at the age of 14, so my driving years came earlier than it does for most.

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September 21 Weekly Open Thread: "Our First Car(s) Week"

Our first car imageGreetings and salutations, dear and faithful Car Lust readers. It seems that we, your humble contributors, have been working on something special as of late. So we bring to you, for better or worse, the first cars we either owned, or drove as our principal mode of transportation, back in the day.

No, Mumsie and Daddykins didn't leave the keys to a new Ferrari next to the birthday cake; most of these machines were brought to us by our own labors. Or we shared them with others in our households.

Either way, these were the first contrivances that gave us freedoms we had only dreamt about.

We'll try to post all of these in one week, but we may go into next week as well. All I'll say is that we have some pleasant posts in the hopper. Maybe they helped make each of us the car enthusiasts we are, and/or maybe they taught us how to differentiate between a metric and an SAE Crescent Wrench.

And of course, this is the usual place for discussing anything else even remotely relating to motor vehicles.

So let's get started!

--That Car Guy (Chuck)

Image Credit: Our photo was found at

Car Lusts of the '00s: The List

  CXT vs GTI R32With the introduction outta the way, let’s begin listing the (probably) lust-worthy vehicles of the 00’s. A quick reminder: This list doesn’t list said vehicles from model year 2000 to 2010 one by one but categorizes vehicles that fit into the Car Lust way of thinking, so that means that obvious choices aren’t included unless given an explanation. Yes, there’s gonna be exceptions. Yes, there will be disagreements, but just give ‘em time to grow on you, like a decade. Or three. Now, onto the wall of text list.

Continue reading "Car Lusts of the '00s: The List" »

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

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