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Birth Year Fantasy Garage Challenge: Chris Hafner (1976)

Birth Year Fantasy Garage--Introduction
Birth Year Fantasy Garage--Cookie the Dog's Owner (1961)
Birth Year Fantasy Garage--Tigerstrypes (1989)
Birth Year Fantasy Garage--Anthony Cagle (1962)
Birth Year Fantasy Garage--Chris Hafner (1976)

Spirit 76At first glance, it might seem foolish and misguided to assemble a $100K Fantasy Garage exclusively from cars available in my birth year of 1976. Compared to the classic 1950s and high-horsepower 1960s, the 1970s seem to be remembered by enthusiasts as the decade in which car enthusiasm cratered.

The first fuel crisis and emissions standards had sapped horsepower and drivability, leaving the fire-breathing muscle cars of the 1960s largely extinct by the early 1970s. Imports were still rare and out of the mainstream, the domestics were experimenting half-heartedly with downsizing, and the disco era manifested in the size and styling excess of the personal luxury land yachts.

This is a pretty dire picture, but I'd argue that there were still good cars made in 1976, and even those cars that weren't empirically good are at least interesting for a car enthusiast in 2015 who doesn't need to depend on them for daily transportation. In fact, the relative unpopularity of mid-to-late 1970s cars makes them much less expensive and more accessible than the more universally loved cars out there. Interesting and inexpensive? Sounds like a perfect formula for Car Lust.

I outlined the rules in the introduction, but I included a few personal rules. For example, I excluded any cars that I have already owned--which explains the absence of the Jeep Wagoneer, Cadillac Eldorado, Ford Gran Torino Wagon and Plymouth Valiant from my list. I also organized my choices into specific roles to curb my natural inclination to invest solely in land yachts and sports coupes. I chose average values from Hagerty and NADA in cases where actual listings weren't available; Hagerty's average value corresponds to something between Condition 2 (drivable show car) and Condition 3 (very nice driver), which perfectly fits my expectations for these cars. The eBay listings I chose were finished, above-reserve listings, in which the car actually sold.

In many cases I was faced with tough choices in a given category, but in the case of a tie I tried to break that tie in favor of the car more evocative of its time and most likely to put me in a 1976 mindset. Below I'm starting with my chosen daily driver and then working from most expensive choice to least.

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Carspotters' Challenge #132: "Where Were You In '62?"

I guess this Carspotters' Challenge fits in with this week's Birth Year Fantasy Garage Challenge. After all, these beauties of yore were then and are now treasures to behold. But being born five years before 1962, few if any of them meet the requirements for my own Fantasy Garage Challenge.

One of the best car movies of all time is "American Graffiti," set in the year 1962. After all, car-wise, 1962 was also A Very Good Year as well. So here are a few scenes from the movie with some great cars:

Mel's wide

A nice wide shot of "Mel's Drive-In."

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Birth Year Fantasy Garage Challenge: Anthony Cagle (1962)

Birth Year Fantasy Garage--Introduction
Birth Year Fantasy Garage--Cookie the Dog's Owner (1961)
Birth Year Fantasy Garage--Tigerstrypes (1989)
Birth Year Fantasy Garage--Anthony Cagle (1962)
Birth Year Fantasy Garage--Chris Hafner (1976)

Heck, for me this post almost wrote itself. In addition to the Cagle Mark III model, this annus incredibilis also saw a slough of really great cars that defined the post-1950s pre-muscle car era as one of ultimate cool. I had to do a little fiddling, but only with the middle-range car. I was really interested in a Buick Riviera but, while many were probably produced in 1962, it only started as a '63. I also wanted to Images62buickspecialconvinclude a Pontiac Star Chief but was unable to find one of that year for sale that wasn't a wreck, and I was a bit uneasy using published prices on these. But I also adore the Catalina/Bonneville so I went with those in my final search as well, along with a few others that have struck my fancy over the years. 

I took this challenge as a true "What if. . . ." with something of an added stipulation of my own devising that I would ditch whatever other vehicles I have and truly use these on a daily basis. What if I had $100k to spend on vehicles that would get me through pretty much the rest of my earthly existence? Admittedly, the long term costs of these could be substantial, although it is my belief that cars from this era are simple enough mechanically that you could keep them going for a long, long time if properly maintained and repaired when the inevitable happens. I don't live in a big rust state so I could reasonably expect the body and chassis to maintain integrity for the next 20-30 (hopefully!) years or so and I'm used to the other (often rather significant) odds and ends with my '78 that crop up; heck, I've driven that since 1990 on a regular basis as my only vehicle so it can be done (albeit somewhat expensively). 

Consequently, I chose a set of vehicles that would cover all the bases for me. . . .mostly. I wanted something really special for cruising around on those long summer days and nights, something to use more as a "daily driver", and another for a work vehicle. At the moment I'm doing a lot of fieldwork, so some form of truck was a necessity, although to be honest a 50+ year old truck won't be the most comfortable or economic means of transporting me and equipment around the state. 

On we go. . .to 1962!

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Birth Year Fantasy Garage Challenge: Tigerstrypes (1989)

Birth Year Fantasy Garage--Introduction
Birth Year Fantasy Garage--Cookie the Dog's Owner (1961)
Birth Year Fantasy Garage--Tigerstrypes (1989)
Birth Year Fantasy Garage--Anthony Cagle (1962)
Birth Year Fantasy Garage--Chris Hafner (1976)

Let me give you further evidence to why 1989 was A Very Good Year.

IROC-Z 1LE 1989 Chevrolet Camaro Z-28 IROC-Z 1LE – IROC-Zs have always been a long-time favorites of mine. While any IROC-Z would do, I couldn’t pass up on picking up the best one of all: the 1LE. It included unique goodies intended for SCCA Showroom Stock racing.

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Birth Year Fantasy Garage Challenge: Cookie the Dog's Owner (1961)

Sheesh! Everybody's a critic.Birth Year Fantasy Garage--Introduction
Birth Year Fantasy Garage--Cookie the Dog's Owner (1961)
Birth Year Fantasy Garage--Tigerstrypes (1989)
Birth Year Fantasy Garage--Anthony Cagle (1962)
Birth Year Fantasy Garage--Chris Hafner (1976)

The year 1961 was one of momentous historical events: President Kennedy's inauguration, the first human in space, the first American spaceflights, the Bay of Pigs invasion, the erection of the Berlin Wall, and my birth.

Okay, so maybe that last one doesn't rate quite so high on the historical importance scale.

For purposes of this fantasy garage challenge, the timing of my birth just ain't fair! Two of my little sisters get to have Avantis and Wagonaires in their birth year fantasy garages, but noooooo, not me, I'm too old for those. At the same time, I'm too young for Forward Look Mopars and Loewy coupes.

So where does that leave me? Is it possible to assemble an appropriately Car-Lustful collection entirely out of vehicles from model year 1961? Follow along and we'll see what we can do.

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Carspotters’ Challenge #131: Against all Odds

Some years ago, I read an Internet article about great car chases. In its list included this one:

It’s from the movie Against All Odds. Honestly, I wanted to use the original chase scene, as it didn’t need a soundtrack to get you on the edge to your seat, and the only music one needed was from the cars themselves. But I had to use this one due to the coarse language (this is getting habitual, and annoying). If you must know, the track’s called Redline Hero, by Canadian artist MK Ultra.

Instead of 7+ minutes of Carspotting glory, the video is only 2:30, the same duration of the movie’s chase, but it more than makes up with a great variety of vehicles. Don’t let me down, now.

 

--Tigerstrypes

Car Lust's $100,000 Fantasy Garage Challenge Update #1: The Jeep

A while back, we here at the Car Lust home office and used vending machine storage area suggested a $100,000 Fantasy Garage Challenge. And among other dream machines, I said that I wanted a Jeep.

DSC_1023Yes, a new CBR600RR found its way into the delapidated smokehouse/shed structure that doubles as its garage, but since I didn't mention that bike in the Challenge, we won't count it. But I did recently make one addition to the "fleet" that should be mentioned here, a 2001 Jeep Wrangler SE.

In my contribution to that Theme Week, I wanted a brand new Jeep per the Challenge's requirements that required at least one new vehicle. But after nearly a year of failed negotiations with our local dealer, I gave up searching for a Jeep... for a while. Then this one popped up out of nowhere.

Somehow I knew this Jeep was "right" as soon as I saw the ad's pictures. This one looked clean. And I mean clean! And it was. It's a 14-year-old TJ Series, but just look at that shine... and that's the original paint! Plus, there's not even a door ding on it. The only scratches are where a previous driver's boots met the paint under the door while climbing in and out. Rust? Nada!

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March 16 Weekly Open Thread: "What Is A Crate Motor?"

Crate motor 3We've all heard the term tossed around a lot, but do we really know what a "crate motor" is?

Well, there is no easy definition of a crate motor. It's easy to say that a crate motor is a brand new engine assembly, usually with a warranty, delivered right to your front door. And though that's true, things don't stop right there.

Some crate motors are just an engine block, crankshaft, and pistons, all nicely bolted and torqued together. This is called a short-block. A long-block crate motor is a short-block, but with the cylinder heads and gaskets also in place.

Next up the menu (And price range) is the more or less complete engine with all of the above, plus an intake manifold and exhaust headers. And finally, there is the ready-to-run option that includes everything you'll need except for oil, fuel, and electricity.

Oh, and money. You'll need money. Most crate motors are expensive. Really expensive. Why, a new GM 640-horsepower Supercharged LS9 like they drop into a Corvette will set you back around 30,000 big 'uns. But the ease of just dropping in one of these power plants saves a lot of time which makes up for a lot of that expense. Or so "They" say.

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2015 Nissan Versa Note S: Bare-Bones Basic

Imagine a modern car... without automatic locks. That's right, no fob: you actually have to stick a key in a lock to open the driver's-side door. Opening the locked rear doors? A mystery. Cars no longer have easily-accessible lock-knobs that you can just reach behind your headrest and pop up. While literally every single one of the five pre-1985 vehicles that I currently own has manual locks, a feature for which on those cars I am frequently grateful, this modern lockless wonder left me baffled. At some point, when I found myself heaving bags of groceries over the front seats into the rear because it seemed less harrowing than pretzeling myself three-quarters of the way into the backseat to pop the locks (but... how would I ever get those groceries out again?), I had to wonder: can modern cars function without modern amenities? Can I? Nissan, no stranger to design risks and outside-the-box automotive engineering, actually takes on a bit of a thought experiment with the Versa Note S, the stripped-to-the-bone edition of its economical compact. This base-level Versa is a true throwback econobox of a kind that few other automakers would have the guts to build. So how does it fare in the modern world? Read on to find out.

DSCN1127

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Great Commercials--The Inexplicable Melancholy of the 2015 Nissan Super Bowl Ad

Here at Car Lust, we love talking about car commercials. Like vintage car magazines, commercials allow us to see cars through the lens of the times in which they were made. The results can be weird and wonderful; such as commercials including moonscapes and purposeful shifting, minivans with attitudea Citroen driving out of Grace Jones' mouth, gasoline-powered cell phones, a 1973 Chrysler New Yorker Brougham indistinguishable from the Apollo lunar module; a really awful mid-century salesman, Pontiac as a cultural touchstone, flowing yellow neck-sweaters, downright dangerous outbreaks of Dodge Feverfine Corinthian leather, and Joe Isuzu. These commercials are all hugely entertaining, and nearly all funny--either intentionally or not.

I'm almost convinced that the 2015 Nissan Super Bowl ad is a great commercial, but it certainly isn't funny. If anything, it's inexplicably maudlin given its subject matter. But it's also beautifully shot and executed, and perhaps most importantly, it has some truly sensational endurance racing imagery. The commercial itself is fascinating and memorable, warts and all. It is below; I break it down after the jump.

 

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

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