There will probably never be a consensus on who conceived the “Cars and Coffee” style meeting, but wherever it did start up, there is no doubt that the formula proved hugely popular and very quickly, The idea of getting together for a couple of hours, first thing in the morning, to see a wide variety of cars, many of which would be exotic, rare or unusual, and to chat to the owners, before heading off for a day doing something else was a real hit and literally hundreds of these events sprung up wherever a suitable venue could be found. with social media being a way of spreading the word beyond simply relying on word of mouth. Inevitably, this had a down-side as well as lots of advantages and many event became too big for the available space. Some anti-social, and sometimes plain dangerous, behaviour especially on leaving the event did not help either. So the location of events has changed over the years. That has certainly been the case in Southern California, where the events around the Irvine area which were among the very first of all, have moved on several times. I’ve generally been able to find where they are, but struggled to attend any, as they are scattered over a very wide area and tend to finish very early indeed. It occurred to me a while back that it ought to be possible to find similar events in the Phoenix area, but my researches only ever turned up one, which appeared to be held monthly in the Scottsdale area. And my visits never seemed to coincide with the Saturday when they were taking place. It was only when I saw some photos of another event in the area on a friend’s Facebook page that I realised that I needed to be more granular in my search, looking not under Phoenix” but all he various town names that make up the metropolitan area. And then I discovered that there are a load of regular gatherings in the metro Phoenix area. This is one of them, which actually takes place every week, in the Scottsdale area, but rather than being in the morning, it is a late afternoon and early evening. Armed with this new discovery, I went along to have a look.
I arrived at about 4pm, and found a large area of what is otherwise Mall parking lot roped off and with a lot of cars already in situ, parked up by theme. I stayed for several hours during which time there were constant comings and goings, with quite a variety of cars on show. An awful lot of them were difficult to photograph, either because of the shadows or because the owners had the bonnet up and were sitting so close to the car that the photo would have been not that good. Here are the better ones.
Original Cobra models are few and far between but over the years there have been all manner of replica models, and continuation series cars, many of them built to a very high standard, and worth significant money in their own right. There were a couple of them here.
Although the NS-X, in both its first and current generation are sold as Honda models in the rest of the world, in America, they bear Acura badging. There was one of the first generation cars here. Its origins go back all the way to 1984, when Honda commissioned the Italian car designer Pininfarina to design the HP-X (Honda Pininfarina eXperimental), which had a mid-mounted C20A 2.0 L V6 configuration. After Honda committed to the project, management informed the engineers that the new car would have to be as fast as anything coming from Italy and Germany .The HP-X concept car evolved into a prototype called the NS-X, which stood for “New”, “Sportscar” and “eXperimental”. The NS-X prototype and eventual production model were designed by a team led by Chief Designer Ken Okuyama and Executive Chief Engineer Shigeru Uehara, who subsequently were placed in charge of the S2000 project. The original performance target for the NS-X was the Ferrari 328, and later the 348 as the design neared completion. Honda intended the NS-X to meet or exceed the performance of the Ferrari, while offering targeted reliability and a lower price point. For this reason, the 2.0L V6 of the HP-X was abandoned and replaced with a more powerful 3.0L VTEC V6 engine. The bodywork design had been specifically researched by Okuyama and Uehara after studying the 360 degree visibility inside an F-16 fighter jet cockpit. Thematically the F-16 came into play in the exterior design as well as establishing the conceptual goals of the NSX. In the F-16 and other high performance craft such as unlimited hydroplanes, single seat race cars etc. the cockpit is located far forward on the body and in front of the power plant. This “cab-forward” layout was chosen early in the NSX’s design to optimise visibility while the long tail design enhanced high speed directional stability. The NS-X was designed to showcase several Honda automotive technologies, many derived from its F1 motor-sports program. The NS-X was the first production car to feature an all-aluminium monocoque body, incorporating a revolutionary extruded aluminium alloy frame, and suspension. The use of aluminium in the body alone saved nearly 200 kg in weight over the steel equivalent, while the aluminium suspension saved an additional 20 kg; a suspension compliance pivot helped maintain wheel alignment changes at a near zero value. Other notable features included an independent, 4-channel anti-lock brake system; titanium connecting rods in the engine to permit reliable high-rpm operation; an electric power steering system; Honda’s proprietary VTEC variable valve timing system (a first in the US) and, in 1995, the first electronic throttle control fitted to a Honda. With a robust motorsports division, Honda had significant development resources at its disposal and made extensive use of them. Respected Japanese Formula One driver Satoru Nakajima, for example, was involved with Honda in the NS-X’s early on track development at Suzuka race circuit, where he performed many endurance distance duties related to chassis tuning. Brazilian Formula One World Champion Ayrton Senna, for whom Honda had powered all three of his world championship-winning Formula One race cars before his death in 1994, was considered Honda’s main innovator in convincing the company to stiffen the NSX chassis further after initially testing the car at Honda’s Suzuka GP circuit in Japan. Senna further helped refine the original NSX’s suspension tuning and handling spending a whole day test driving prototypes and reporting his findings to Honda engineers after each of the day’s five testing sessions. Senna also tested the NSX at the Nurburgring and other tracks. The suspension development program was far-ranging and took place at the Tochigi Proving Grounds, the Suzuka circuit, the 179-turn Nurburgring Course in Germany, HPCC, and Hondas newest test track in Takasu, Hokkaido. Honda automobile dealer Bobby Rahal (two-time CART PPG Cup and 1986 Indianapolis 500 champion) also participated in the car’s development. The production car made its first public appearances as the NS-X at the Chicago Auto Show in February 1989, and at the Tokyo Motor Show in October 1989 to positive reviews. Honda revised the vehicle’s name from NS-X to NSX before final production and sale. The NSX went on sale in Japan in 1990 at Honda Verno dealership sales channels, supplanting the Honda Prelude as the flagship model. The NSX was marketed under Honda’s flagship Acura luxury brand starting in 1991 in North America and Hong Kong. It sent shockwaves through the industry, as the car was considerably better than the Ferrari 348 in just about every respect. But that was not the end of the story, of course. While the NSX always was intended to be a world-class sports car, engineers had made some compromises in order to strike a suitable balance between raw performance and daily driveability. For those NSX customers seeking a no-compromise racing experience, Honda decided in 1992 to produce a version of the NSX specifically modified for superior on-track performance at the expense of customary creature comforts. Thus, the NSX Type R (or NSX-R) was born. Honda chose to use its moniker of Type R to designate the NSX-R’s race-oriented design. In 1995, a Targa model was released, the NSX-T, which allowed customers to experience fresh air thanks to two removable targa top panels. The original NSX body design received only minor modifications from Honda in the new millennium when in 2002 the original pop-up headlamps were replaced with fixed xenon HID headlamp units. There was just one of these much admired cars here.
Also here was an Integra Type R in its third, DC4, generation. Honda debuted the third iteration of the Integra in 1993 in Japan at Honda Verno locations. It had an unusual four headlight front end design which was dubbed “bug eyes” by some enthusiasts. Standard power (in Japan) from the B18B engine increased to 142 hp (105.9 kW). In the U.S., the B18B1 produced slightly less power due to a lower compression ratio (emissions related).The top model was known in Japan as “Si”, and it was powered by a B18C engine with a power of 178 PS VTEC. The “bug eye” headlights proved unpopular in Japan so all JDM Integras were given a minor facelift in 1995 with more conventional elongated flat headlights and a revised front bumper, the top model was relabelled the Integra SiR. In 1995, Honda introduced the Integra Type R to the Japanese domestic market. The Type R came standard with a 200 PS (figure may vary in different countries, 195 hp USDM, 190 hp in Europe) factory-tuned variant of the B18C engine. Equipped with a close ratio 5-speed manual transmission and a Helical LSD, the DC2 Integra Type R had significantly improved performance and handling relative to the GS-R/Si/SiR-G Integra. These were the result of extensive changes, including a strengthened chassis with extra spot welds and thicker metal around the rear shock towers and lower subframe, weight reduction (reduced sound insulation, 10% thinner windscreen, lighter wheels), more power, rev limiter set at 8,600 rpm JDM (8,500 rpm USDM, 8,700 rpm UKDM), hand built engine featuring hand-polished and ported intake ports, high compression pistons, undercut valves and revised intake and exhaust systems, and suspension upgrades. The result was a capable sports hatchback which was acclaimed by motoring journalists worldwide. The JDM version was significantly lighter than the SiR Integra (The 96–97 spec model could delete the air bags, A/C, rear wiper, radio, centre console, clock, P/S and ABS), However There is only a 33 lb (15 kg) net weight difference between the USDM Integra Type R and the Integra GS-R because the extra metal and cross bracing in the Type R negate much of the 98 lb of weight reductions. The DC2 Type R was the only Type R ever sold in North America with the Acura badge. For the European, Australian and New Zealand market the DC2 was sold as a Honda. The JDM DC2 Type R received significant upgrades in 1998 and is known as the ’98 Spec R. Some of the main changes were a redesigned rear bumper, 16-inch wheel with 215/45R16 tires, 5-lug nut wheel hubs and bigger brakes. Gear ratios for the final drive were higher, making 1st to 3rd gears closer, while 4th and 5th were longer to maintain the ’96 Spec cruising comfort. The engine power remained the same, but use of a new 4–1 long tube header brought torque lower down to 6,200 rpm. A final revision of the JDM DC2 Type R known as the ’00 Spec R included a revised intake camshaft, and more finely balanced drive shafts. A final trim version offered in mid 2000 onwards for the JDM market (known as the “Type Rx”) came factory fitted with motorized folding mirrors, dashboard clock, blue-hue carbon trim interiors, and an audio system as part of the standard package. it also included a hash pocket in the centre console. In Japan the Integra is revered as one of the best sports cars of the ’90s. On Japanese car review show “Best Motoring” the Integra Type R punched well above its weight competing with fastest 4WD Turbo cars of the time, the Nissan Skyline GTR and WRX STI. It has been acclaimed by motoring journalists worldwide, including Evo magazine, which named the Type R ‘the greatest front-wheel-drive performance car ever’, and TheAutoChannel.com, which similarly called it ‘the best handling front-wheel drive car ever’. The Integra type R is considered a modern classic and prices have steadily risen. An original Type R can sell for twice its dealership price with a low mileage example reaching US$63,800 at auction in 2018.
Alfa had followed up the 1950 launch of the 1900 Berlina with a smaller model, the Giulietta. Known as the Type 750 and later 101 Series, the Giulietta evolved into a family of models. The first to be introduced was the Giulietta Sprint 2+2 coupé at the 1954 Turin Motor Show. Designed by Franco Scaglione at Bertone, it was produced at the coachbuilder’s Grugliasco plant near Turin. A year later, at the Turin Motor Show in April 1955, the Sprint was joined by the 4-door saloon Berlina. In mid 1955, the open two-seat Giulietta Spider, featuring convertible bodywork by Pininfarina, and it was one of these achingly pretty cars that was to be seen here. Alfa replaced the Giulietta with the Giulia in 1962, but as the Coupe and Spider were not ready, the Giulietta based models were kept in production, and renamed as Giulia. They gained a larger 1600cc engine, and this meant that the bonnet need to be raised a little to accommodate the new unit, so the easy recognition beyond Giulietta and Giulia Spiders is whether there is a flat bonnet or one with a slight hump and a vent in it. This one is a Giulietta.
This is a Spirit AMX. The Spirit was launched as an updated version of the Gremlin, and the fact that AMC could not afford an all-new model after so many years was an indication of the financial difficulties the company was in by the end of the 70s. An AMX version of the Spirit liftback was offered for 1979 and 1980 as a way of invoking the memory of the original two-seat 1968 to 1970 AMX. Spirit AMX model featured special body colour-matched fender flares and front air dam, “Rally-Tuned” suspension with 1.06 in (27 mm) front and 0.75 in (19 mm) rear sway bars, high-effort power steering gears, front and rear three-way adjustable “Strider” Gabriel (brand name) shock absorbers, heavy-duty semi-metallic 10.8 in (274 mm) front disk brakes with ribbed 10×1.2-inch (254×30.5 mm) rear drum brakes, unique AMX grille, “Turbocast II” 14×7-inch aluminium road wheels with ER60x14 Goodyear “Flexten” GT radial RWL (raised white letter) tyres, rear spoiler, special striping package, hood and door decals, console shifted automatic or manual transmission with “Rallye Gauge” package (total of eight dials including an intake-manifold vacuum gauge), as well as simulated aluminum dash overlays with AMX badge on the glove compartment door. Changes in the standard AMX equipment for 1980 were exclusively flat finished black flares and air dam, standard 14×6-inch “Magnum 500” styled road wheels with the wider aluminium wheels now made optional, and deletion of the simulated aluminum dash overlays. Although the car “wasn’t actually fast, it sure looked the part” with an “aggressive appearance.” The quick-ratio power steering, large diameter front and rear sway bars, as well as racing-tuned shock absorbers provided excellent handling.” The biggest powerplant on the 1979 AMX was AMC’s 304 cu in (5.0 L) V8 and it was the last AMC passenger car to have a factory installed V8 engine. With the required emission devices and lowered compression ratios, the car felt adequately powered and could still deliver highway fuel economy ratings of about 20 mpg‑US. The 304 V8 equipped AMXs came with “sport tuned exhaust” that made a noticeably different gurgle sound in contrast to the regular stock quiet muffler. For 1980, the V8 option was dropped making the 258 cu in (4.2 L) I6 engine standard with only a 2.53 real axle ratio with either the standard floor shifter 4-speed manual or 3-speed automatic transmissions. The Spirit AMX was an innovative concept and was well executed from an engineering standpoint, highlighting the creative thinking and skilled engineering on a low budget that characterized AMC’s efforts.” The Spirit line was markedly improved and performed well, but AMC was unable to overcome perception that its products were outdated. Moreover, the Spirit AMX was introduced the same year as the similar but new Fox Platform Ford Mustang. The Spirit AMX cancelled after two model years, with the similar Eagle SX/4, a sporty four-wheel-drive successor. This model was the last car to wear the AMX name and has achieved popularity with AMC enthusiasts. Some owners modify the cars since it is easy to install a larger displacement AMC engine.
There were only a couple of BMWs here. Older of the pair was a late model 2002, complete with the ungainly US-market bumpers. The 1600-2, as the first “02 Series” BMW was designated, was an entry-level BMW, and was smaller, less expensive, and less well-appointed than the New Class Sedan on which it was based. BMW’s design director Wilhelm Hofmeister assigned the two-door project to staff designers Georg Bertram and Manfred Rennen. The 9.1 in shorter length and wheelbase and lighter weight of the two-door sedan made it more suitable than the original New Class sedan for sporting applications. As a result, the two door sedan became the basis of the sporting 02 Series. The 1600-2 (the “-2” meaning “2-door”) made its debut at the Geneva Show in March 1966 and was sold until 1975, with the designation being simplified to “1602” in 1971. The 1.6 litre M10 engine produced 84 hp at 5,700 rpm and 96 lb·ft. A high performance version, the 1600 TI, was introduced in September 1967. With a compression ratio of 9.5:1 and the dual Solex PHH side-draft carburettor system from the 1800 TI, the 1600 TI produced 110 hp at 6,000 rpm. Also introduced in September 1967 was a limited-production cabriolet, which would be produced by Baur from 1967 through 1971. A hatchback 1600 Touring model was introduced in 1971 but was discontinued in 1972. It was what came next which was more significant. Helmut Werner Bönsch, BMW’s director of product planning, and Alex von Falkenhausen, designer of the M10 engine, each had a two litre engine installed in a 1600-2 for their respective personal use. When they realised they had both made the same modification to their own cars, they prepared a joint proposal to BMW’s board to manufacture a two litre version of the 1600-2. At the same time, American importer Max Hoffman was asking BMW for a sporting version of the 02 series that could be sold in the United States. As per the larger coupe and 4-door saloon models, the 2.0 engine was sold in two states of tune: the base single-carburettor 2002 producing 101 hp and the dual-carburettor high compression 2002 ti producing 119 hp.In 1971, the Baur cabriolet was switched from the 1.6 litre engine to the 2.0 litre engine to become the 2002 cabriolet, the Touring hatchback version of the 02 Series became available with all engine sizes available in the 02 Series at the time and the 2002 tii was introduced as the replacement for the 2002 ti. The 2002 tii used the fuel-injected 130 hp engine from the 2000 tii, which resulted in a top speed of 185 km/h (115 mph). A 2002 tii Touring model was available throughout the run of the tii engine and the Touring body, both of which ended production in 1974. The 2002 Turbo was launched at the 1973 Frankfurt Motor Show. This was BMW’s first turbocharged production car and the first turbocharged car since General Motors’ brief offerings in the early 1960s. It produced 170 hp. The 2002 Turbo used the 2002 tii engine with a KKK turbocharger and a compression ratio of 6.9:1 in order to prevent engine knocking. Kugelfischer mechanical fuel injection was used, with a sliding throttle plate instead of the usual throttle butterfly. The 2002 Turbo was introduced just before the 1973 oil crisis, therefore only 1,672 were built. The 1802 was introduced in 1971 and was available with either the original 2-door sedan body or the 3-door Touring hatchback introduced that year. Production of the Touring model continued until 1974, with the 1802 sedan ending production the following year. The 1502, an economy model with an engine displacement of 1573 cc was introduced in 1975. This engine had a lower compression ratio of 8.0:1, therefore standard-octane petrol could be used. While the rest of the 02 Series was replaced in 1975 by the E21 3 Series, the 1502 was continued until 1977.
First introduced as the Concept Vision EfficientDynamics, the i8 is part of BMW’s “Project i” and it is being marketed as a new brand, BMW i, sold separately from BMW or Mini. The BMW i3, launched for retail customers in Europe in the fourth quarter of 2013, was the first model of the i brand available in the market, and it was followed by the i8, released in Germany in June 2014 as a 2015 model year. Other i models are expected to follow. The initial turbodiesel concept car was unveiled at the 2009 International Motor Show Germany, In 2010, BMW announced the mass production of the Vision EfficientDynamics concept in Leipzig beginning in 2013 as the BMW i8. The BMW i8 gasoline-powered concept car destined for production was unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. The production version of the BMW i8 was unveiled at the 2013 International Motor Show Germany. It features butterfly doors, head-up display, rear-view cameras and partially false engine noise. Series production of customer vehicles began in April 2014. The electric two-speed drivetrain is developed and produced by GKN. It is the first production car with laser headlights, reaching further than LED lights. The i8 has a vehicle weight of 1,485 kg (3,274 lb) (DIN kerb weight) and a low drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.26. In all-electric mode the BMW i8 has a top speed of 120 km/h (75 mph). In Sport mode the i8 delivers a mid-range acceleration from 80 to 120 km/h (50 to 75 mph) in 2.6 seconds. The electronically controlled top speed is 250 km/h (155 mph). The production i8 has a 7.1 kWh lithium-ion battery pack with a usable capacity of 5.2 kWh and intelligent energy management that delivers an all-electric range of 37 km (23 mi) under the NEDC cycle. Under the EPA cycle, the range in EV mode is 15 mi (24 km), with a gasoline consumption of 0.1 gallons per 100 mi, and as a result, EPA’s all-electric range is zero. The total range is 330 mi (530 km). The production version has a fuel efficiency of 2.1 L/100 km (134.5 mpg‑) under the NEDC test with carbon emissions of 49 g/km. A Spider version was added to the range in 2016. Global deliveries to retail customers totalled 1,741 units in 2014, and 5,456 in 2015, totalling cumulative sales of 7,197 units worldwide through December 2015. In 2015 global sales of the BMW i8 exceeded the combined figure of all other hybrid sports cars produced by other manufacturers. The United States is the leading market with 4,108 units delivered through October 2016, followed by the UK with about 1,700 units sold through October 2016, and Germany with 986 i8s registered through September 2016. Since mid-2014 more than 10,000 BMW i8s have been sold worldwide by early November 2016, representing 10% of BMW global electrified model sales, and making the i8 the world’s top selling plug-in electrified sports car.
There were a number of Skylark-based models from around the late 1960s here. The 1968 model year was one of significant change for the Buick Skylark. Although still using the same basic chassis, all of GM’s mid-sized cars adopted a policy of using two different length wheelbases. Two-door models used a shorter wheelbase of 112 in, while four-door models used a longer wheelbase of 116 in (the Buick Sport Wagon and Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser used an even longer wheelbase of 121 in). All of GM’s mid-sized cars received all-new sheet metal. More Federally mandated safety features improved occupant protection and accident avoidance, including side marker lights, shoulder belts (on all models built after January 1, 1968), and parking lights that illuminated with headlights. The Buick Gran Sport, previously an option package available on the Skylark, became a separate series, starting with the 340 hp/440 lbs torque 400 c.i.d. V8 1968 GS 400, using the 2 door Skylark body and chassis. In a reshuffling of models in the lineup, the Special Deluxe replaced the previous Special. The Skylark nameplate was shuffled down a notch to replace the previous Special Deluxe. The previous Skylark was replaced by a new Skylark Custom. The basic Skylark was available as a two-door hardtop coupe or a four-door sedan. The Skylark Custom came as a two-door convertible coupe, two-door hardtop coupe, four-door hardtop sedan, or four-door sedan. The previous V6 was discontinued and the associated tooling was sold to Kaiser Industries, which used the V6 in its Jeep trucks and sport utility vehicles. The base engine in Buick Skylarks (and Buick Special sedans) became a 250-cubic-inch 250 cu in (4.1 L) Chevrolet I6, that produced 155 hp at 4200 rpm using a single-barrel Rochester carburettor. Optional on the Skylark and standard on the Skylark Custom was a new 350-cubic-inch V8 derived from the 340, using a two-barrel Rochester carburetor that produced 230 hp at 4400 rpm. The Buick Special name was dropped after the 1969 model year. A locking steering column with a new, rectangular ignition key became standard on all 1969 GM cars (except Corvair), one year ahead of the Federal requirement. For 1970, the mid-sized Buicks once again received new sheet metal and the Buick Skylark name was moved down another notch, replacing the previous entry-level Buick Special. It was available in two- and four-door sedans with the 250-cubic-inch inline-six as standard and the optional 350-cubic-inch V8 (260 horsepower at 4600 rpm). Two-door models shared their roofline with the 1970 Chevelle, distinct from that of the shared Pontiac LeMans and Oldsmobile Cutlass. The two-door sedan was unique to Buick, sharing its roofline as the hardtop but having a thick “B” pillar, with Buick’s traditional “Sweepspear” feature appearing as a crease running the length of the vehicle. Chevrolet did not offer a pillared coupe for the Chevelle from 1970 to 1972; all two-doors were hardtops. Replacing the previous Buick Skylark was the Buick Skylark 350, available as a two-door hardtop coupe or four-door sedan with the 350-cubic-inch V8 as standard equipment. This 350-cubic-inch engine was a different design than the Chevy’s 350 CID engine the Buick design had a longer stroke and smaller bore (3.80 X 3.85 in) allowing for lower-end torque, deep-skirt block construction, higher nickel-content cast iron, 3.0 in (76 mm) crank main journals, and 6.5 in (165 mm) connecting rods, the distributor was located in front of the engine (typical of Buick), the oil pump was external and mounted in the front of the engine, the rocker arm assembly had all rocker arms mounted on a single rod and were not adjustable. The Skylark Custom continued to be available, also using the 350-cubic-inch V8 as standard equipment and still available as a two-door convertible coupe, two-door hardtop coupe, four-door hardtop sedan, and four-door sedan. Buick Gran Sport models continued to be available as a separate series. The Buick Sport Wagon name was now used on a conventional four-door station wagon that no longer featured a raised roof with glass panels over the cargo area, or a longer wheelbase, as in the past. It now used the same 116 in (2,946 mm) wheelbase as the Buick Skylark four-door sedan and the now-discontinued Buick Special four-door Station Wagon. It became, in effect, a Buick Skylark four-door station wagon in all respects but the name. For the 1971 model year, the base Skylark was available only with the inline-6, now only putting out 145 hp due to emission control devices, but in a two-door hardtop coupe body-style (in addition to the previous two- and four-door sedans). The Skylark 350 had a V8 engine that put out only 230 hp. It was now available as a two-door sedan in addition to the previous two-door hardtop coupe and four-door sedan. 1972 was the last model year for the mid-sized Buick Skylark. During this model year many pollution controls were added to the engines, Compression was lowered, engines had to accept leaded and unleaded gas, and spark timing was retarded (no vacuum advance in lower gears) while driving in lower gears to reduce emissions. For 1972, the base Buick Skylark used the 350-cubic-inch V8 with the 2-barrel Rochester carburettor (now putting out 145 hp) as standard equipment. A new federally mandated system to calculate power was put into effect that year, and the actual engine performance was probably comparable but slightly lower because of pollution controls in the 1972 model year to the 230 hp that was listed for the previous year. The Skylark 350 now used a version of the same V8 engine as the base Skylark, but with a 4-barrel Rochester carburetor that generated 180 hp. Skylark Customs were available with the same 350-cubic-inch V8 engines available in the basic Skylark and the Skylark 350. The Custom had an upgraded interior and dash with some extra chrome. Convertibles only came in the Skylark Customs and the Skylark 350s. For the 1973 model year, the Buick Gran Sports, Skylarks, and Sport Wagons would all be replaced by the new mid-sized Buick Century. Since Centurys were available with Gran Sport trim, the Gran Sport name was once again reduced to being an option package.
In February 1982, the Regal Grand National debuted, which was named for the NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National Series (the “Grand National” term was part of the Cup series nomenclature until 1986). Buick had won the Manufacturers Cup in 1981 and 1982, and wanted to capitalize on its success: “What wins on Sunday, sells on Monday”. These 1982 cars were not painted black, which may confuse those not familiar with them. All started out as charcoal gray Regals that were shipped off to a subcontractor for finishing. Originally intended for a run of 100 units, Cars and Concepts of Brighton, Michigan, retrofitted 215 Regals with the GN package. Most obvious was the light silver gray firemist paint added to each side. Red pinstripes and billboard shadow lettering proclaiming “Buick” were applied. The wheel opening mouldings and rocker panel mouldings were blacked out using black vinyl tape. Finally, a front air dam and rear spoiler were installed. On the inside, special “Lear-Siegler” seats were installed. These seats are fully adjustable and were covered with silver brandon cloth with black vinyl inserts. The front seat had Buick’s “6” emblem embroidered onto them. Also, a special clock delete plate was added to the instrument panel which contained the yellow and orange “6” logo and the words “Grand National Buick Motor Division”. The 1982 GN came with a naturally aspirated 252 cu in (4.1 L) V6 engine with 125 hp at 4000 rpm and 205 lb/ft (278 Nm) of torque at 2000 rpm. Of the 215 Regal Grand Nationals produced in 1982, at least 35 were based on the Buick Regal Sport coupe package with the turbocharged 3,791 cc V6 engine with 175 hp at 4000 rpm and 275 lb/ft (373 Nm) of torque at 2600 rpm. There were only 2022 Sport coupes produced in 1982, and the number of cars with both the GN and Sport coupe packages is estimated to be fewer than 50. For 1983, there was no Grand National. The Sport coupe model was renamed the T-Type; 3,732 were produced (190 hp at 1600 rpm and 280 lb/ft (380 Nm) of torque at 2400 rpm). The T-Type had been used on other Buicks, starting with the Riviera in 1981 (in 1979 and 1980, it was the S Type). The 1983 Regal T-Type featured tube headers, Hydro-Boost II brakes, 200-4R 4-speed overdrive trans and 3.42 rear axle (7.5″). For 1984, the Grand National returned, now in all black paint. The turbocharged 3,791 cc (3.8 L; 231.3 cu in) became standard and was refined with sequential fuel injection, distributor-less computer controlled ignition, and boasted 200 hp at 4400 rpm and 300 lb/ft (407 Nm) of torque at 2400 rpm. Only 5,204 turbo Regals were produced that year, only 2,000 of which were Grand Nationals. Because this was the first year production of the computer controlled sequential fuel injection and distributor-less ignition, this is often considered the year and model that started the development of the legendary intercooled Grand Nationals. The performance of this package was well ahead of its time and the “little V6” easily kept up with the bigger V8s. 1⁄4 mile performance was listed at 15.9 seconds at stock boost levels of 10 psi (0.69 bar), while for the same year, the Chevrolet Camaro V6 was listed at 17.0 and the Chevrolet Corvette at 15.2 seconds.Soon, performance enthusiasts determined the modifications that worked and the Grand Nationals easily broke into the 13-second territory. All Grand Nationals had the Lear Siegler-made cloth/leather interior which was only available for this year. An estimated 200 of the 1984 Grand Nationals were produced with the T-Top option which makes these the rarest of the Grand Nationals. For 1986, a modified engine design with air-air intercooling boosted the performance even further to a specified 235 hp at 4000 rpm and 330 lb/ft (447 Nm) of torque at 2400 rpm. The Grand Nationals (quantity 5,512) and T-Types (quantity 2,384) were both produced in 1986. For 1987, performance reached 245 hp and 355 lb/ft (481 Nm) of torque. Buick dropped the T-Type package for Regal for 1987 models and opted for a “T” sport package instead. There were only 7,896 turbo Regals produced in 1986. In 1987, when turbo Regals reached their peak in popularity, a total of 27,590 turbo Regals were produced through December, with those models produced between September and December of that year window stickered as “1987½ Buick Grand National” vehicles. For 1987, a lightweight WE4 (turbo T) option was offered. Only 1,547 of this variant were produced. The differences between a WE4 and the Grand National were the interior trim package, wheels, exterior badging, aluminium bumper supports, and aluminium rear drum brakes as opposed to the Grand National’s cast iron, making the WE4 a lighter and faster car. The rear spoiler was only available as a dealer installed option. Nineteen eighty-seven was the only year that the LC2 turbo option was available on any Regal, making it possible to even see a Limited with a vinyl landau roof and a power bulge turbo hood. Turbo Regal Limiteds were one of the rarest models of turbo Regals produced second only to the GNX at 1,035 turbo Limiteds. Turbo Regal Limiteds could be ordered with many options with most having chrome external trim but for $35 could have been built with the full black-out trim option making them extremely rare. Limiteds were treated to a very luxurious interior with plush carpeting and optional bench pillow seats and a column shift. The 1987 model would be the end of the manufacture of the RWD “G-Body” Regal, but GM had to extend the build of the Grand National to meet customer demand into December. For the final year, 1987, Buick introduced the limited production GNX, for “Grand National Experimental”, at $29,900. Made in partnership with McLaren Performance Technologies/ASC, Buick produced only 547 GNs with the interior trim package, that were then sent off to McLaren and upgraded into the Buick GNX. Buick underrated the GNX at 276 hp at 4400 rpm and a very substantial 360 lb⋅ft (488 Nm) at 3000 rpm of torque, although actual output is 300 bhp and 420 lb/ft (569 Nm). This was created to be the “Grand National to end all Grand Nationals.” Changes made included a special Garrett AiResearch T-3 turbocharger with a ceramic-impeller blowing through a more efficient and significantly larger capacity intercooler with a “Cermatel (ceramic-aluminum) coated” pipe connecting the intercooler to the engine. A GNX specific E-EPROM, low-restriction exhaust with dual mufflers, reprogrammed turbo Hydramatic 200-4R transmission with a custom torque converter and transmission cooler, and unique differential cover/Panhard bar included more of the performance modifications. Exterior styling changes include vents located on each front fender, 16 inch black mesh style wheels with VR-speed rated tires, and deletion of the hood and fender emblems. The interior changes of the GNX included a serial number on the dash plaque and a revised instrument cluster providing Stewart-Warner analog gauges, including an analog turbo boost gauge. Performance was measured faster than the Ferrari F40 and the Porsche 930 with a 1⁄4 mile time of 12.7 seconds at 113.1 mph (0.3 and 0.8 seconds quicker, 2.9 and 13.3 mph faster) and a 0-60 mph time of 4.6 seconds (0.4 and 0.3 seconds quicker, respectively). GNX #001 is the 1986 prototype currently owned by Buick and sometimes makes appearances at car shows around the US. The GNX used a unique torque arm that was mounted to a special, GNX only, rear differential cover, for increased traction. The torque arm rear suspension alters the suspension geometry, making the body lift while planting the rear tires down, resulting in increased traction. The stealthy appearance of the all-black GNX and Grand National (and the resemblance of its grill to his helmet’s mouthpiece), coupled with the fact that the Grand National was initially released during the popularity of Star Wars movies, earned it the title “Darth Vader’s Car”. Car and Driver covered the GNX model’s introduction with the headline “Lord Vader, your car is ready.” Due to the turbocharged six cylinder engine, the Buick make, and the black paint Grand Nationals were sometimes referred to as the “Dark Side”. The “Dark Side” contrasted with the more common V8 Mustangs and Camaros that were popular at the time. The cars are highly collectible now.
The first all-new postwar Cadillacs arrived in 1948, sporting an aircraft-inspired look and the first tail fins on a Cadillac. Series 62 Cadillacs had a slightly shortened wheelbase, but the track width was widened by two inches, increasing interior room. However, updated drivetrains would have to wait another year and for the time being, the new Cadillacs were still powered by the same 346 CID flathead V8 used across the board since 1941, which delivered only fair performance (0-60 in 16 seconds with a top speed of 93 mph). Fuel mileage was an estimated 14 mpg highway, 10 mpg city with the Hydramatic transmission, which was rapidly becoming the norm on Cadillacs–by 1949, only 10% of Cadillacs were ordered with the 3-speed manual gearbox. Series 62 production totalled 34,213 vehicles for the 1948 model year, accounting for 68% of Cadillac’s volume. The 1948 models had been slow to get into production and did not arrive in showrooms until February 1948, consequently Cadillac produced on 50,599 total vehicles for the abbreviated model year. The new Cadillac OHV V8 was the big news for 1949, with minor trim differences otherwise. This 331 cu in (5.4 L) engine produced 160 hp and weighed 200 pounds less than the old flathead V8 in addition to being shorter and lower. The 331 V8 could also handle higher compression levels to take advantage of improved, higher octane postwar gasoline formulations. The major difference between Series 61 and Series 62 models of similar body style was minor trim variations. The higher-priced series again had grooved, front fender stone shields and bright rocker panel moldings. Chevrons below the taillights were no longer seen. The convertible was an exclusive offering. A heater was optional. Sales reached a record 55,643. The Cadillac Series 62 Coupe de Ville was introduced late in the 1949 model year. Along with the Buick Roadmaster Riviera, and the Oldsmobile 98 Holiday, it was among the first pillarless hardtop coupes ever produced. At $3,496 it was only a dollar less than the Series 62 convertible, and like the convertible, it came with power windows standard. It was luxuriously trimmed, with leather upholstery and chrome ‘bows’ in the headliner to simulate the ribs of a convertible top. 55,643 Series 62 Cadillacs were produced in 1949 out of a total volume of 92,554 vehicles. For 1950, major styling changes were performed. The cars were lower and sleeker, with longer hoods, and one-piece windshields were fitted. Hydra Matic transmission was now standard. The Series 61 was again a short wheelbase model, having been reduced to 122 in (3099 mm). Sales set yet another record at 59,818. Full-length chrome rocker panels set off the 1951 model, and the Coupe de Ville was now marked with noticeably-improved trim, including Coupe de Ville script on the rear roof pillar. Sales were 81,844, or a record of over 74% of all Cadillacs sold. Popular Mechanics reported about 12-MPG at 45 mph. In 1952, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Cadillac, the V-shaped hood and deck emblems were done as gold castings. The Series 62 sedan was also characterized by a higher rear deck lid contour. This provided additional luggage space. Back up lights were now standard equipment and were incorporated in the taillights. The grille wraparound panels were redesigned once again having broad chrome trim below each headlight with side scoop styling and gold-colored winged emblem mounted in the center. At the rear all Cadillacs adopted a through the bumper dual exhaust system. Deck ornamentation took the form of a Cadillac crest over abroad golden “V”. New standard features included self-winding clocks, improved direction signal indicators, glare proof mirrors, stannate treated pistons, and four barrel carburetion. Engine output for the 331 was up to 190 hp. Sales fell to 70,255, but with the Series 61 out of the way, Series 62 sales accounted for a record 78% of all Cadillacs. The 1953 Series 62 saw a redesigned grille with heavier integral bumper and bumper guards, the repositioning of parking lamps directly under the headlights, chrome “eyebrow” type headlamp doors, and one piece rear windows without division bars. Wheel discs were fashioned in an attractive new disced design. Series 62 bodystyles were identified by non louvered rear fenders, the use of thin bright metal underscores on the bottom rear of the cars only and the decoration of both hood and deck lid with Cadillac crests and V- shaped ornaments. The Club Coupe model disappeared. Two door Series 62 were now all hardtops (including the better equipped Coupe de Ville) or convertibles. Another familiar name appeared on 1953’s Series 62. The top of the line sub-series Eldorado was one of three specialty convertibles produced in 1953 by General Motors, the other two being the Oldsmobile 98 Fiesta and the Buick Roadmaster Skylark. The Eldorado was a limited-edition luxury convertible, and would eventually become its own series. It featured a full assortment of deluxe accessories, including wire wheels, and introduced the wraparound windshield to Cadillac standard production. Sales set a new record at 85,446.
The 1959 Cadillac is remembered for its huge sharp tailfins with dual bullet tail lights, two distinctive rooflines and roof pillar configurations, new jewel-like grille patterns and matching deck lid beauty panels. In 1959 the Series 62 had become the Series 6200. De Villes and 2-door Eldorados were moved from the Series 62 to their own series, the Series 6300 and Series 6400 respectively, though they all, including the 4-door Eldorado Brougham (which was moved from the Series 70 to Series 6900), shared the same 130 in wheelbase. New mechanical items were a “scientifically engineered” drainage system and new shock absorbers. All Eldorados were characterised by a three-deck, jewelled, rear grille insert, but other trim and equipment features varied. The Seville and Biarritz models had the Eldorado name spelled out behind the front wheel opening and featured broad, full-length body sill highlights that curved over the rear fender profile and back along the upper beltline region. Engine output was an even 345 hp from the 390 cu in (6.4 litre) engine. Standard equipment included power brakes, power steering, automatic transmission, back-up lamps, two-speed wipers, wheel discs, outside rearview mirror, vanity mirror, oil filter, power windows, six way power seats, heater, fog lamps, remote control deck lid, radio and antenna with rear speaker, power vent windows, air suspension, electric door locks and license frames. The Eldorado Brougham also came with air conditioning, automatic headlight dimmer, and a cruise control standard on the Seville and Biarritz trim lines. For 1960, the year that this Fleetwood Eldorado was made, the styling was toned down a little. General changes included a full-width grille, the elimination of pointed front bumper guards, increased restraint in the application of chrome trim, lower tailfins with oval shaped nacelles and front fender mounted directional indicator lamps. External variations on the Seville two-door hardtop and Biarritz convertible took the form of bright body sill highlights that extended across the lower edge of fender skirts and Eldorado lettering on the sides of the front fenders, just behind the headlamps. Standard equipment included power brakes, power steering, automatic transmission, dual back-up lamps, windshield wipers, two-speed wipers, wheel discs, outside rearview mirror, vanity mirror, oil filter, power windows, six-way power seats, heater, fog lamps, Eldorado engine, remote control trunk lock, radio with antenna and rear speaker, power vent windows, air suspension, electric door locks, license frames, and five whitewall tyres. Technical highlights were finned rear drums and an X-frame construction. Interiors were done in Chadwick cloth or optional Cambray cloth and leather combinations. The last Eldorado Seville was built in 1960. The idea of a large car finished in pink now is simply unthinkable, but the colour goes quite well with the style here. These 59 and 60 Cadillacs attract lots of interest from collectors and the public and this one was no exception.
1959 marked the absolute peak of the fins, as can be seen from this 1960 Convertible.
This massive Convertible dates from 1964. an example of the final year of a bodystyle which was first seen in 1961. It looked quite different from the previous generation. The new grille slanted back towards both the bumper and the bonnet lip, along the horizontal plane, and sat between dual headlamps. New forward slanting front pillars with non-wraparound windshield glass were seen. The revised backlight treatment had crisp angular lines with thin pillars on some models and heavier semi-blind quarter roof posts on others. DeVille models featured front series designation scripts and a lower body “skeg” trimmed with a thin, three-quarter-length spear moulding running from behind the front wheel opening to the rear of the car. Standard equipment included power brakes, power steering, automatic transmission, dual backup lights, windshield washer, dual speed wipers, wheel discs, plain fender skirts, outside rearview mirror, vanity mirror, oil filter, power windows and 2-way power seats. Rubberised front and rear coil springs replaced the trouble prone air suspension system. Four-barrel induction systems were now the sole power choice and dual exhaust were no longer available. A new short-decked four-door Town Sedan hardtop appeared mid-season. A mild face lift characterised Cadillac styling trends for 1962. A flatter grille with a thicker horizontal centre bar and more delicate cross-hatched insert appeared. Ribbed chrome trim panel, seen ahead of the front wheel housings in 1961, were now replaced with cornering lamps and front fender model and series identification badges were eliminated. More massive front bumper end pieces appeared and housed rectangular parking lamps. At the rear tail lamps were now housed in vertical nacelles designed with an angled peak at the centre. A vertically ribbed rear beauty panel appeared on the boot lid latch panel. Cadillac script also appeared on the lower left side of the radiator grille. The short-deck hardtop Town Sedan was moved from the DeVille series to the Series 6200, being replaced by a short-deck Park Avenue. In addition all short deck Cadillac models went from being 6-window sedans in 1961 to 4-window sedans in 1962 and 1963. Standard equipment included all of last year’s equipment plus remote controlled outside rearview mirror, five tubeless black wall tyres, heater and defroster and front cornering lamps. Cadillac refined the ride and quietness, with more insulation in the floor and behind the firewall. DeVille sales as a separate series exceeded their sales level as a trim level for the first time ever at 71,883 units, or nearly 45% of Cadillac’s total sales. In overall terms 1963 Cadillac was essentially the same as the previous year. Exterior changes imparted a bolder and longer look. Bonnets and boot lids were redesigned. The front wings projected 4.625 inches further forward than in 1962 while the tailfins were trimmed down somewhat to provide a lower profile. Body-side sculpturing was entirely eliminated. The slightly V-shaped radiator grille was taller and now incorporated outer extensions that swept below the flush-fender dual headlamps. Smaller circular front parking lamps were mounted in those extensions. A DeVille signature script was incorporated above the lower beltline moulding near the rear of the body. A total of 143 options including bucket seats with wool, leather, or nylon upholstery fabrics and wood veneer facings on dash, doors, and seatbacks, set an all-time record for interior appointment choices. Standard equipment was the same as the previous year. The engine was entirely changed, though the displacement and output remained the same: 390 cu in (6.4 litres) and 325 hp.It was time for another facelift in 1964 and really a minor one. New up front was a bi-angular grille that formed a V-shape along both its vertical and horizontal planes. The main horizontal grille bar was now carried around the body sides. Outer grille extension panels again housed the parking and cornering lamps. It was the 17th consecutive year for the Cadillac tailfins with a new fine-blade design carrying on the tradition. Performance improvements including a larger V-8 were the dominant changes for the model run. Equipment features were same as in 1963 for the most part. Comfort Control, a completely automatic heating and air conditioning system controlled by a dial thermostat on the instrument panel, was introduced as an industry first. The engine was bumped to 429 cu in (7 litres), with 340 hp available. Performance gains from the new engine showed best in the lower range, at 20 to 50 mph traffic driving speeds. A new technical feature was the Turbo-Hydramatic transmission, also used in the Eldorado and the Sixty Special. A DeVille script above the lower belt moulding was continued as an identifier. This was the first year for the DeVille convertible. DeVille sales reached 110,379 units, accounting for nearly two thirds of all Cadillacs sold. The gradual evolution of the model was shown by a later model parked alongside it.
The Cadillac Allanté is a two-door, two-seater luxury roadster produced from 1987 until 1993. It used a Cadillac chassis and running gear with a body built in Italy by coachbuilder Pininfarina. It was expensive to produce with the complete bodies flown to Detroit for final assembly. Over 21,000 were built during its seven-year production run. The name Allanté was selected by General Motors from a list of 1,700 computer generated selections. Originally designed to compete with the Mercedes-Benz SL and Jaguar XJS, the Allanté originally featured a slightly modified variant of the 4.1 L V8 used across Cadillac’s model line. This was expanded to 4.5 L in 1989, and upgraded to the 4.6 L L37 Northstar in its final year, 1993. The Allanté incorporated an international production arrangement that was similar to the early 1950s Nash-Healey two-seat sports car. The Allanté bodies were designed and manufactured in Italy by Pininfarina and were shipped 4,600 miles to the U.S. final assembly with domestically manufactured chassis and engine. Specially equipped Boeing 747s departed from Turin International Airport with 56 bodies at a time, arriving at Detroit’s Coleman A. Young International Airport about 3 miles northeast of Cadillac’s new Hamtramck Assembly plant, known as the “Allanté Air Bridge”. The expensive shipping process stemmed from GM’s recent closing of Fisher Body Plant #18, which had supplied Cadillac bodies since 1921. It was not the first time that Cadillac utilized Pininfarina, having farmed out body production for the 1959 Eldorado Brougham and design and coachworks for several one-offs, customs, and concept cars. All Allanté models featured a fully electronic instrument and control panel, which was angled towards the driver, and featured no knobs or manual controls. General Motors (GM) also implemented electronic controls in its mid-to-late 1980s vehicles such as the Buick Reatta, Buick Riviera, and Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo, although these vehicles included a touchscreen control panel called the Graphic Control Center (GCC), which the Allanté did not feature.
Chevrolet replaced the entire range of cars for 1955, producing what are sometimes referred to as the “Tri-Five” range, which would live for three years. Revolutionary in their day, they spawned a cult following that exists in clubs, website and even entire businesses that exclusively cater to the enthusiasts of the Tri Five automobiles. All featured a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout. They remain some of the most popular years for collectors and hot rodders. 1955-1957 were watershed years for Chevrolet, who spent a million dollars in 1956 alone for retooling, in order to make their less expensive Bel Air models look more like a Cadillac, culminating in 1957 with their most extravagant tailfins and Cadillac inspired bumper guards. In 1955, Americans purchased 7.1 million new automobiles, including 1.7 million Chevrolets, giving the company fully 44% of the low-price market and surpassing Ford in total unit sales by 250,000. The Bel Air was an instant hit with consumers, with Base One-Fifty models starting under $1600 and featuring a six cylinder engine. The introduction of the new optional 170 hpr 265ci V8, coupled with the Powerglide automatic transmission quickly earned the model the nickname “The Hot One”. In the first year of production, the oil filter was considered an option, although not having it led to significantly shorter engine life. With three basic model lines of 150, 210 and Bel Air and a range of body styles from 2 and 4 door Sedans to Coupes, Convertibles and Wagons, there were as many as 19 different Tri-five models available. The 1956 cars saw minor changes to the grille, trim and other accessories. It meant huge gains in sales for Chevrolet, who sold 104,849 Bel Air models, due in part to the new V8 engine introduced a year before. By this time, their 265cid V8 had gained popularity with hot rodders who found the engine easy to modify for horsepower gains. This wasn’t lost on Chevrolet’s engineers, who managed to up the horsepower in 1956 from 170 hp to 225 hp with optional add-ons. The average two door Bel Air in 1956 sold for $2100, which was considered a good value at the time. Prices ranging from $1665 for the 150 sedan with six cylinder engine to $2443 for the V8 equipped convertible, with Nomad models running slightly higher. Bigger changes came for 1957, including the large tailfins, “twin rocket” bonnet design, even more chrome, tri-colour paint and a choice from no less than seven different V8 engines. While in 1957, Ford outsold Chevrolet for the first time in a great while, years later the used 1957 Chevrolets would sell for hundreds more than their Ford counterparts. As the horsepower race continued, Chevrolet introduced a new version of their small block, with 283 cubic inches of displacement and 245 hp. They also introduced a limited number of Rochester fuel injected 283 engines that produced 283 hp, the first production engine to achieve 1 hp per cubic inch. For all intent and purposes, this made the 1957 Bel Air a “hot rod”, right off the production line. It was available with manual transmission only. The base 265cid engine saw an increase from 170 to 185 hp as well. While not as popular as the previous year’s offering, Chevrolet still managed to sell 1.5 million cars in 1957. Today, a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air like this one is one of the most sought after collector cars ever produced and there were a couple here including the Wagon version, and there were also a number of the 1956 cars.
For 1958, GM was promoting their fiftieth year of production, and introduced anniversary models for each brand; Cadillac, Buick, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, and Chevrolet. The 1958 models shared a common appearance on the top models for each brand; Cadillac Eldorado Seville, Buick Roadmaster Riviera, Oldsmobile Super 88 Holiday, Pontiac Bonneville Catalina, and the Chevrolet Bel-Air Impala. The Impala was introduced for the 1958 model year as top of the line Bel Air hardtops and convertibles. From the windshield pillar rearward, the 1958 Bel Air Impala differed structurally from the lower-priced Chevrolet models. Hardtops had a slightly shorter greenhouse and longer rear deck. The wheelbase of the Impala was longer than the lower priced models, although the overall length was identical. Interiors held a two-spoke steering wheel and colour-keyed door panels with brushed aluminium trim. No other series included a convertible. The 1958 Chevrolet models were longer, lower, and wider than its predecessors. The 1958 model year was the first with dual headlamps. The tailfins of the 1957 were replaced by deeply sculptured rear fenders. Impalas had three taillights each side, while lesser models had two and wagons just one. The Impalas included crossed-flag insignias above the side moldings, as well as bright rocker moldings and dummy rear-fender scoops. The standard perimeter-type frame was abandoned, replaced by a unit with rails laid out in the form of an elongated “X.” Chevrolet claimed that the new frame offered increased torsional rigidity and allowed for a lower placement of the passenger compartment. This was a transitional step between traditional construction and the later fully unitized body/chassis, the body structure was strengthened in the rocker panels and firewall. However, this frame was not as effective in protecting the interior structure in a side impact crash, as a traditional perimeter frame. A coil spring suspension replaced the previous year’s rear leaf springs, and an air ride system was optional. A 283 cu in (4,640 cc) engine was the standard V8, with ratings that ranged from 185 to 290 horsepower. A “W” block (not to be confused with the big-block) 348 cu in (5,700 cc) Turbo-Thrust V8 was optional, producing 250 hp, 280 hp , or 315 hp. The Ramjet fuel injection was available as an option for the Turbo-Fire 283 V8, not popular in 1958. A total of 55,989 Impala convertibles and 125,480 coupes were built representing 15 percent of Chevrolet production. The 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air Impala helped Chevrolet regain the number one production spot in this recession year.
It was no surprise to come across lots of Corvette models here, with examples of all 7 generations on display. There was one of the first generation C1 cars, dating from towards the end of the model’s life The first generation of Corvette was introduced late in the 1953 model year. Originally designed as a show car for the 1953 Motorama display at the New York Auto Show, it generated enough interest to induce GM to make a production version to sell to the public. First production was on June 30, 1953. This generation was often referred to as the “solid-axle” models (the independent rear suspension was not introduced until the second generation).Three hundred hand-built polo white Corvette convertibles were produced for the 1953 model year. The 1954 model year vehicles could be ordered in Pennant Blue, Sportsman Red, Black, or Polo White. 3,640 were built, and sold slowly. The 1955 model offered a 265 cu in (4.34 litre) V8 engine as an option. With a large inventory of unsold 1954 models, GM limited production to 700 for 1955. With the new V8, the 0-60 mph time improved by 1.5 seconds. A new body was introduced for the 1956 model featuring a new “face” and side coves; the taillamp fins were also gone. An optional fuel injection system was made available in the middle of the 1957 model year. It was one of the first mass-produced engines in history to reach 1 bhp per cubic inch (16.4 cc) and Chevrolet’s advertising agency used a “one hp per cubic inch” slogan for advertising the 283 bhp 283 cu in (4.64 litre) Small-Block engine. Other options included power windows (1956), hydraulically operated power convertible top (1956), heavy duty brakes and suspension (1957), and four speed manual transmission (late 1957). Delco Radio transistorised signal-seeking “hybrid” car radio, which used both vacuum tubes and transistors in its radio’s circuitry (1956 option). The 1958 Corvette received a body and interior freshening which included a longer front end with quad headlamps, bumper exiting exhaust tips, a new steering wheel, and a dashboard with all gauges mounted directly in front of the driver. Exclusive to the 1958 model were bonnet louvres and twin trunk spears. The 1959–60 model years had few changes except a decreased amount of body chrome and more powerful engine offerings. In 1961, the rear of the car was completely redesigned with the addition of a “duck tail” with four round lights. The light treatment would continue for all following model year Corvettes until 2014. In 1962, the Chevrolet 283 cu in (4.64 litre) Small-Block was enlarged to 327 cu in (5.36 litre). In standard form it produced 250 bhp. For an extra 12% over list price, the fuel-injected version produced 360 bhp, making it the fastest of the C1 generation. 1962 was also the last year for the wrap around windshield, solid rear axle, and convertible-only body style. The boot lid and exposed headlamps did not reappear for many decades. An all-new C2 generation model was launched for 1963.
Launched in the fall of 1959, the 1960 model year introduced a new body style of Chevrolet light pick-up truck that featured many firsts. Most important of these were a drop-centre ladder frame, allowing the cab to sit lower, and independent front suspension, giving an almost car-like ride in a truck. Also new for 1960 was a new designation system for trucks made by GM. Gone were the 3100, 3200, and 3600 designations for short 1/2, long 1/2 and 3/4-ton models. Instead, a new scheme assigned a 10, 20, or 30 for 1/2, 3/4, and 1-ton models. Since 1957, trucks were available from the factory as four-wheel drive, and the new class scheme would make this known. A C (conventional) in front of the series number designates 2-wheel rear drive while a K designates 4-wheel drive. Actual badging on Chevrolet trucks carried the series name system from the previous generation for 1960 and 1961: the 10, 20, 30, and 40 series (C and K) were badged as “Apaches”, 50 and 60 series trucks were badged as “Vikings”, and the largest 70 and 80 series models were marked “Spartans”. For 1960, C/K trucks were available in smooth “Fleetside” or fendered “Stepside” versions. GMC called these “Wide-Side” and “Fenderside”. Half-ton models were the C10 and K10 long-bed and short-bed trucks, and The 3/4-ton C20 and K20, as well as the one-ton C30, were also available. GMC did not use the “C” nomenclature, though their 4×4 versions used the “K” nomenclature. GMC model numbers for 1/2, 3/4, 1, and 1.5 ton were 1000, 1500, 2500, and 3000. The 1.5 ton Chevrolet C40 and GMC 3000, which were using the light-duty cab (but only as chassis-cab and stake models), were discontinued for the 1963 model year. The 1960, 1961, and 1962 models featured torsion bar front suspensions, with trailing arm suspension rears. Trim lines were base and “Custom”. Engines included the base GMC 305 in3 V6 for the GMC version, 135 hp (3.9 L and 150 hp 4.3 L straight-6s, and a 4.6 L V8 with 185 hp. A coil-spring front suspension came in 1963, along with a new base engine, a 140 hp 3.8 L)I6, and an optional 165 hp 4.8 L I6. The cab was modified for 1964, with elimination of the “wraparound” windshield and a new front grille design, along with various interior changes, while retaining the original design on the body. Air conditioning and a 220 hp 5.3 L V8 came in 1965. A new base engine finished the model in 1966 with a 155 hp 4.1 L I6. A new generation was launched for 1967.
Plenty has been written about the Corvair, following the publication of consumerist Ralph Nader’s book “Unsafe at any Speed”, even though subsequent research found that the car was no more prone to the things which the non-driving Nader alleged than many others on sale at the same time. Although the book damaged sales, that was not the only reason why the car ultimately was not that commercially successful. Until 1960, the “Big Three” domestic auto manufacturers (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler) produced only one basic size of passenger cars: large. However, a successful modern “compact car” market segment was established in the US by the 1950 Nash Rambler. Moreover, imports from Europe, such as Volkswagen, Renault, and Fiat, showed that there was demand in the US for small cars, often as a second car or an alternative for budget-minded consumers. While the “Big Three” continued to introduce ever-larger cars during the 1950s, the newly formed American Motors Corporation (AMC) focused its business strategy on smaller-sized and fuel-efficient cars, years before there was a real need for them. The sale success of the Rambler did not go unnoticed, so during 1959 and 1960, the Big Three automakers planned to introduce their own “compact” cars. Most of these designs were scaled-down versions of the conventional American car, using four- or six-cylinder engines instead of V8s, and with bodies about 20% smaller than their standard cars. The exception to this was going to be Chevrolet’s offering, the Corvair. Led by General Manager Cole, Chevrolet designed a revolutionary new car. It was powered by an air-cooled horizontal six-cylinder 2.3 litre engine made almost entirely out of aluminium, which initially produced 80 bhp. The engine was mounted in the rear of the car, driving the rear wheels through a compact transaxle. Suspension was independent at all four wheels. There was no conventional frame, it was the first unibody built by Fisher Body. The tyres were an entirely new wide low-profile design. The styling was unconventional for Detroit: subtle and elegant, with no tailfins or chrome grille. Its engineering earned numerous patents, while Time magazine put Ed Cole and the Corvair on the cover, and Motor Trend named the Corvair as the 1960 “Car of the Year”. As well as a four door saloon, the range included a two door coupe, a convertible, and from 1961, an estate car as well as a range of light commercial vehicles including a panel van and a pick up. The Corvair’s sales exceeded 200,000 for each of its first six model years. Sales figures revealed to Chevrolet management that the Corvair was more of a specialty car than a competitor to the conventionally designed Ford Falcon or Chrysler’s Valiant. Corvair was not as competitive in the economy segment and Chevrolet began a design program that resulted in a compact car with a conventional layout, the Chevy II, for the 1962 model year. That meant that the Corvair was developed in a different way, with more emphasis put on the sporting models. so in 1962 a high performance 150 hp turbocharged “Spyder” option was added for the Monza coupes and convertibles, making the Corvair the second production automobile to come with a turbocharger as a factory option The Monza Coupe was the most popular model with 151,738 produced out of 292,531 total Corvair passenger car production for 1962. The Corvair was fast becoming the darling of the sporty car crowd. Many after-market companies offered a vast array of accessories for the Corvair, everything from imitation front grilles to serious performance upgrades such as additional carburettors, superchargers and performance exhaust and suspension upgrades. There were numerous detailed changes for 1963 and 1964. The Monza line really came into its own, as in 1963, 80% of sales were Monzas. The Convertible model counted for over 20% of all the Monzas sold. A sporty image meant big profits. In October 1964, Chevrolet presented a new Corvair, with different styling and detailed refinements to the mechanical parts, as well as fully independent rear suspension replacing the former swing axles. Saloon, coupe and convertibles were the only body styles offered, the other versions having been not renewed. Although the new car received rave reviews from journalists such as the often-critical David E Davies, sales were not that strong, and they declined every year thereafter. By 1967, the range was pruned to just the 500 and Monza Hardtop Coupes and Hardtop Sedans, and the Monza Convertible. Chevrolet was still actively marketing the Corvair in 1967, including colour print ads and an “I Love My Corvair” bumper sticker campaign by dealers, but production and sales continued to fall off drastically. Only 27,253 copies were built. In 1968, the four-door hardtop was discontinued, leaving three models—the 500 and Monza Hardtop Coupes and the Monza Convertible. All advertising was virtually stopped and sales were down to 15,400. The final model-year 1969 Corvairs were assembled almost by hand at the same plant as the Nova in Willow Run, Michigan. A total of 1,786,243 Corvairs were produced between 1960 and 1969. The phenomenal success of the Ford Mustang and that 1966 book had proved very damaging to the Corvair, and GM decided that their sporting future lay with the Camaro and for families, with the Nova. These days, there is something of a cult-following for the Corvair.
Showing the evolution of the Corvette was this second generation C2 model. First seen in 1963, this model introduced us to the name Sting Ray. It continued with fibreglass body panels, and overall, was smaller than the first generation. The car was designed by Larry Shinoda with major inspiration from a previous concept design called the “Q Corvette,” which was created by Peter Brock and Chuck Pohlmann under the styling direction of Bill Mitchell. Earlier, Mitchell had sponsored a car known as the “Mitchell Sting Ray” in 1959 because Chevrolet no longer participated in factory racing. This vehicle had the largest impact on the styling of this generation, although it had no top and did not give away what the final version of the C2 would look like. The third inspiration was a Mako Shark Mitchell had caught while deep-sea fishing. Production started for the 1963 model year and ended in 1967. The 1963 model was the first year for a Corvette coupé and it featured a distinctive tapering rear deck (a feature that later reappeared on the 1971 “Boattail” Buick Riviera) with, for 1963 only, a split rear window. The Sting Ray featured hidden headlamps, non-functional bonnet vents, and an independent rear suspension. Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov never liked the split rear window because it blocked rear vision, but Mitchell thought it to be a key part of the entire design. Maximum power for 1963 was 360 bhp, raised to 375 bhp in 1964. Options included electronic ignition, the breakerless magnetic pulse-triggered Delcotronic first offered on some 1963 Pontiac models. On 1964 models the decorative bonnet vents were eliminated and Duntov, the Corvette’s chief engineer, got his way with the split rear window changed to a full width window. Four-wheel disc brakes were introduced in 1965, as was a “big block” engine option: the 396 cu in (6.49 litre) V8. Side exhaust pipes were also optionally available in 1965, and continued to be offered through 1967. The introduction of the 425 bhp 396 cu in big block in 1965 spelled the beginning of the end for the Rochester fuel injection system. The 396 cu in option cost $292.70 while the fuel injected 327 cu in (5.36 litre) engine cost $538.00. Few people could justify spending $245.00 more for 50 bhp less, even though FI could deliver over 20 mpg on the highway and would keep delivering fuel despite high G-loading in corners taken at racing speeds. Another rare ’63 and ’64 option was the Z06 competition package, which offered stiffer suspension, bigger, multi-segment lined brakes with finned drums and more, only a couple hundred coupes and ONE convertible were factory-equipped this way in 1963. With only 771 fuel-injected cars built in 1965, Chevrolet discontinued the option at the end of the ’65 production, having introduced a less-expensive big block 396 engine rated at 425 hp in the middle of the production year and selling over 2,000 in just a few months. For 1966, Chevrolet introduced an even larger 427 cu in 7 litre Big Block version. Other options available on the C2 included the Wonderbar auto-tuning AM radio, AM-FM radio (mid-1963), air conditioning (late-1963), a telescopic steering wheel (1965), and headrests (1966). The Sting Ray’s independent rear suspension was successfully adapted for the new-for-1965 Chevrolet Corvair, which solved the quirky handling problems of that unique rear-engine compact. 1967 was the final year for the C2 generation. The 1967 model featured restyled bumper vents, less ornamentation, and back-up lamps which were on the inboard in 1966 were now rectangular and centrally located. The first use of all four taillights in red started in 1961 and was continued thru the C-2 line-up except for the 1966. The 1967 and subsequent models continuing on all Corvettes since. 1967 had the first L88 engine option which was rated at 430 bhp, but unofficial estimates place the actual output at 560 bhp or more. Only twenty such engines were installed at the factory. From 1967 (to 1969), the Holley triple two-barrel carburettor, or Tri-Power, was available on the 427 L89 (a $368 option, on top of the cost for the high-performance 427). Despite these changes, sales slipped over 15%, to 22,940 – 8,504 coupes and 14,436 convertibles.
The Impala was restyled on the GM B platform for the first time for 1961. The new body styling was more trim and boxy than the 1958–1960 models. Sport Coupe models featured a “bubbleback” roof line style for 1961, and a unique model, the 2-door pillared sedan, was available for 1961 only. It was rarely ordered. A “Super Sport” (SS) option debuted for 1961. This was also the last year the top station wagon model would have the Nomad name. Power brakes were $43. The 1962 model featured new “C” pillar styling for all models except the 4-door hardtop. Sport Coupe models now featured the “convertible roof” styling, shared with other GM “B” full-size hardtop coupes, although the less expensive Bel Air hardtop was still available with the 1961-style roofline. This style proved popular. The “overhang” roof style of the sedans was replaced with a wider “C” pillar with wraparound rear window. Engine choices for 1962 included the 348-cubic-inch (5.7 L) V8 discontinued and replaced by the 380 bhp 409-cubic-inch (6.7 L) or 409 bhp 409-cubic-inch (6.7 L) engine. These engines could only be ordered with a manual shift transmission. The small-block 283 was offered with a two barrel carburettor. The 283 was also enlarged to 327-cubic-inch (5.4 L), offered in two versions, one with 250 bhp and one with 300 bhp which added more engine choices for small-block fans. The Beach Boys produced a hit single, “409”, referring to the Chevrolet, which became an iconic song for these cars. Impalas again featured premium interior appointments, plusher seats could be done by the dealerships on customer request. And more chrome trim outside, including a full-width aluminium-and-chrome panel to house the triple-unit taillight assembly. Super Sport (SS) models featured that panel in a special engine-turned aluminium, which was also used to fill the side mouldings, making the SS more distinctive in appearance. The Impala also gained the top trim station wagon body design, in place of the Chevrolet Nomad model. However, unlike the passenger cars, Impala wagons had dual-unit taillights. Due to reliability problems, the optional Turboglide automatic transmission was discontinued, leaving Powerglide the only automatic transmission available until 1965. A new radio was optional. The 1963 Impala featured rectilinear styling with an engine-turned aluminum rear taillight panel surrounded by a chrome border on SS models. Engine choice was similar to 1962, with the small-block 283-and-327-cubic-inch (4.6 and 5.4 L) V8s most popular. The Sport Sedan featured a new, creased roof line. A new “coved” instrument panel with simple indicator lights for hot and cold engine conditions. An optional factory tachometer was built into the dashboard, just above the steering wheel; it was rarely ordered. Impala wagons got triple-unit taillights for the first time. A special 427-cubic-inch (7.0 L) version of the 409 engine was used in the 1963 Chevrolet Impala Sport Coupe, ordered under Chevrolet Regular Production Option (RPO) Z11. This was a special package created for drag racers, as well as NASCAR, and it consisted of a 427 cubic inch engine with aluminium body parts, and a cowl-induction air intake system. The aluminium body parts were fabricated in Flint, Michigan at the facility now known as GM Flint Metal Center. Unlike the later, second-generation 427, it was based on the W-series 409 engine, but with a longer 3.65 in (93 mm) stroke. A high-rise, two-piece aluminium intake manifold and dual Carter AFB carburettors fed a 13.5:1 compression ratio to produce an under-rated 430 hp and 575 lb·ft (780 N·m) of torque. 50 RPO Z11 cars were produced at the Flint GM plant. For 1964, the Impala was restyled to a more rounded, softer look. The signature taillight assembly had an “upside-down U” shaped aluminium trim strip above the taillights, but the individual lights were surrounded by a body-coloured panel. The 409 cu in (6.7 L) V8 engine returned as the big-block option, as well as the Rochester 2X4-barrel carburettors setup for the 425 bhp at 6,000 rpm and 425 lb/ft (576 Nm) at 4,200 rpm of torque engines. SS models continued to feature the engine-turned aluminium trim. Rooflines were carried over from 1963 unchanged. Back-up lights were standard. All full size 1964 Chevrolet station wagons got small rectangular taillight lenses mounted vertically, one for each side of the car.
The third generation Corvette, patterned after the Mako Shark II concept car, was introduced for the 1968 model year and was in production until 1982. C3 coupes featured the first use of T-top removable roof panels. The C3 introduced monikers that were later revived, such as LT-1, ZR-1, Z07 and Collector Edition. In 1978, the Corvette’s 25th anniversary was celebrated with a two-tone Silver Anniversary Edition and an Indy Pace Car replica edition of the C3. This was also the first time that a Corvette was used as a Pace Car for the Indianapolis 500. Engines and chassis components were mostly carried over from the C2, but the body and interior were new. The 350 cu in (5.7 litre) engine replaced the old 327 cu in (5.36 litre) as the base engine in 1969, but power remained at 300 bhp. 1969 was the only year for a C3 to optionally offer either a factory installed side exhaust or normal rear exit with chrome tips. The all-aluminium ZL1 engine was also new for 1969; the special big-block engine was listed at 430-hp , but was reported to produce 560 hp and propelled a ZL1 through the 1/4 mile in 10.89 seconds. There was an extended production run for the 1969 model year due a lengthy labour strike, which meant sales were down on the 1970 models, to 17,316. 1970 small-block power peaked with the optional high compression, high-revving LT-1 that produced 370 bhp. The 427 big-block was enlarged to 454 cu in (7.44 litre) with a 390 bhp rating. The ZR-1 special package was an option available on the 1970 through 1972 model years, and included the LT-1 engine combined with special racing equipment. Only 53 ZR-1’s were built. In 1971, to accommodate regular low-lead fuel with lower anti-knock properties, the engine compression ratios were lowered which resulted in reduced power ratings. The power rating for the 350 cu in (5.7 litre) L48 base engine decreased from 300 to 270 hp and the optional special high performance LT1 engine decreased from 370 to 330 hp. The big-block LS6 454 was reduced from 450 to 425 bhp, though it was not used in Corvettes for 1970; it was used in the Chevelle SS. For the 1972 model year, GM moved to the SAE Net measurement which resulted in further reduced, but more realistic, power ratings than the previous SAE Gross standard. Although the 1972 model’s 350 cu in horsepower was actually the same as that for the 1971 model year, the lower net horsepower numbers were used instead of gross horsepower. The L48 base engine was now rated at 200 bhp and the optional LT1 engine was now rated at 270 bhp. 1974 models had the last true dual exhaust system that was dropped on the 1975 models with the introduction of catalytic converters requiring the use of no-lead fuel. Engine power decreased with the base ZQ3 engine producing 165 bhp), the optional L82’s output 250 bhp, while the 454 big-block engine was discontinued. Gradual power increases after 1975 peaked with the 1980 model’s optional L82 producing 230 bhp. Styling changed subtly throughout the generation until 1978 for the car’s 25th anniversary. The Sting Ray nameplate was not used on the 1968 model, but Chevrolet still referred to the Corvette as a Sting Ray; however, the 1969 (through 1976) models used the “Stingray” name as one word, without the space. In 1970, the body design was updated including fender flares, and interiors were refined, which included redesigned seats, and indication lights near the gear shift that were an early use of fibre optics . Due to government regulation, the 1973 Corvette’s chrome front bumper was changed to a 5-mile-per-hour (8 km/h)system with a urethane bumper cover. 1973 Corvettes are unique in that sense, as they are the only year where the front bumper was polyurethane and the rear retained the chrome two-piece bumper set. 1973 was also the last year chrome bumpers were used. The optional wire-spoked wheel covers (left) were offered for the last time in 1973. Only 45 Z07 were built in 1973. From 1974 onwards both the front and rear bumpers were polyurethane. In 1974, a 5-mph rear bumper system with a two-piece, tapering urethane bumper cover replaced the Kamm-tail and chrome bumper blades, and matched the new front design from the previous year. 1975 was the last year for the convertible, (which did not return for 11 years). For the 1976 models the fibreglass floor was replaced with steel panels to provide protection from the catalytic converter’s high operating temperature. 1977 was last year the tunnelled roof treatment with vertical back window was used, in addition leather seats were available at no additional cost for the first time. The 1978 25th Anniversary model introduced the fastback glass rear window and featured a new interior and dashboard. Corvette’s 25th anniversary was celebrated with the Indy 500 Pace Car limited edition and a Silver Anniversary model featuring silver over gray lower body paint. All 1979 models featured the previous year’s pace car seats and offered the front and rear spoilers as optional equipment. 53,807 were produced for the model year, making 1979 the peak production year for all versions of the Corvette. Sales have trended downward since then. In 1980, the Corvette received an integrated aerodynamic redesign that resulted in a significant reduction in drag. After several years of weight increases, 1980 Corvettes were lighter as engineers trimmed both body and chassis weight. In mid-1981, production shifted from St. Louis, Missouri to Bowling Green, Kentucky, and several two-tone paint options were offered. The 1981 models were the last available with a manual transmission until well into the 1984 production run. In 1982, a fuel-injected engine returned, and a final C3 tribute Collectors Edition featured an exclusive, opening rear window hatch.
There was a nice example of the first generation Camaro here. The Camaro was GM’s very definite response to the huge success of Ford’s Mustang, which had been codenamed Panther. Although there had been rumours that GM was doing something, this was an era when even the journalists were surprised. and on June 21, 1966, around 200 automotive journalists of them were when they received a telegram from General Motors stating, “…please save noon of June 28 for important SEPAW meeting. Hope you can be on hand to help scratch a cat. Details will follow…(signed) John L. Cutter – Chevrolet public relations – SEPAW secretary.” The following day, the same journalists received another General Motors telegram stating, “Society for the Eradication of Panthers from the Automotive World will hold first and last meeting on June 28…(signed) John L. Cutter – Chevrolet public relations SEPAW secretary.” These telegrams were something of a puzzle at the time. On June 28, 1966, General Motors held a live press conference in Detroit’s Statler-Hilton Hotel. It was to be the first time in history that 14 cities were connected in real time for a press conference via telephone lines. Chevrolet general manager Pete Estes started the news conference stating that all attendees of the conference were charter members of the Society for the Elimination of Panthers from the Automotive World and that this would be the first and last meeting of SEPAW. Estes then announced a new car line, project designation XP-836, with a name that Chevrolet chose in keeping with other car names beginning with the letter C such as the Corvair, Chevelle, Chevy II, and Corvette. He claimed the name, suggests the comradeship of good friends as a personal car should be to its owner and that to us, the name means just what we think the car will do… go. The Camaro name was then unveiled. Automotive press asked Chevrolet product managers, what is a Camaro? and were told it was a small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs. According to the book “The Complete Book of Camaro: Every Model Since 1967”, the name Camaro was conceived by Chevrolet merchandising manager Bob Lund and General Motors vice president Ed Rollett, while they were reading the book Heath’s French and English Dictionary by James Boïelle and by de V. Payen-Payne printed in 1936. Lund and Rollett found the word “camaro” in the French-English dictionary to mean friend, pal, or comrade. The article further repeated Estes’s statement of what the word camaro was meant to imply, that the car’s name “suggests the comradeship of good friends, as a personal car should be to its owner”. In fact, the actual French word that has that meaning is “camarade”, from which the English word “comrade” is derived, and not “camaro”. “Camaro” is not a recognised word in the French language. Be that as it may, the Camaro was first shown at a press preview in Detroit, Michigan, on September 12, 1966, and then later in Los Angeles, California, on September 19, 1966. Public introduction of the new model was on September 26, 1966. The Camaro officially went on sale in dealerships on September 29, 1966, for the 1967 model year It was an instant success. The first generation model ran for three years before an all new second generation car premiered (late) for the 1970 model year.
The 1968 Chevelle received an all-new distinctly sculpted body with tapered front fenders and a rounded beltline. The car adopted a long-hood/short-deck profile with a high rear-quarter “kick-up”. While all 1967 Chevelle models rode a 115-inch wheelbase, the 1968 coupes and convertibles now rode a 112-inch wheelbase. The sedans and wagons turned to a 116-inch span. Tread width grew an inch front and rear. Hardtop coupes featured a semi-fastback, flowing roofline (with a long hood and short deck, mimicking the Camaro (which itself was an answer to the Ford Mustang). These days it is the high end SS cars which are most highly prized. There had been SS models since 1964, as Chevrolet’s entrant in the muscle car battle. There were annual changes during the 5 year life of this body style. The car seen here is from 1970 when sheetmetal revisions gave the bodies a more squared-up stance following the coke bottle styling, and interiors were also redesigned. The 1970 Chevelle shared many sheet metal body parts with the 1970 Buick Skylark GSX, both are GM automobiles and have interchangeable sheet metal. They are also the only two muscle cars to share the same roofline. The 1970 Chevelle came in Sport Coupe, Sport Sedan, convertible, four-door sedan, a couple of wagons, and coupé utility (the El Camino) body styles. Only three of these (Malibu sport coupe, Malibu convertible and El Camino pickup) were available with a choice of one of two SS options; RPO Z25 with the SS 396 (402 cid) engine and RPO Z15 with the new 454 cid engine.
A new Camaro debuted in early 1970 and this would run through to 1982 before replacement. Dubbed “Super Hugger”, the second-generation Camaro was developed without the rush of the first generation and benefitted from a greater budget justified by the success of the first generation.Although it was an all-new car, the basic mechanical layout of the new Camaro was familiar, engineered much like its predecessor with a unibody structure utilising a front subframe, A-arm and coil spring front suspension, and rear leaf springs. The chassis and suspension of the second generation were greatly refined in both performance and comfort; base models offered significant advances in sound-proofing, ride isolation, and road-holding. Extensive experience Chevrolet engineers had gained racing the first-generation led directly to advances in second-generation Camaro steering, braking, and balance. Although it began its run with a number of high-performance configurations, as the 1970s progressed, the Camaro grew less powerful, succumbing, like many production cars of the era, to the pressures of tightening emissions regulations and a fuel crisis. Detailed changes were made in every year of production and major styling changes were made in 1974 and 1978; 1981 was the final model year for the second-generation Camaro.
Chevrolet first used the El Camino name in 1959 when they produced a rival to the Ford Ranchero which had debuted a couple of years earlier, with a pick-up version of their large full-sized Bel Air and Impala saloons, and then following a gap of a few years, from 1964 the name saw continuous services right through to the end of production of the model seen here, in 1987. This is an example of the fourth style to bear the name, and it first appeared in 1978, based on the new mid-sized Malibu. The 1978 through 1987 El Caminos were produced in four trim levels: Classic, Black Knight (1978)/Royal Knight (1979–83), Conquista and Super Sport, and shared chassis components with the Chevrolet Malibu. Chevrolet 90° V6 and Buick V6 engines were used for the first time. The optional 305 cubic-inch small block V8 was rated at 150 or 165 hp, and from 1982–1984, the Oldsmobile-sourced Diesel engine was also optional. The front end sheet metal and doors were shared with the Malibu, and the rear tailgate and bumper was shared with the Malibu station wagon. For the first time, though, the El Camino had a unique chassis , shared with no other Chevrolet. The front end featured a new single rectangular headlight design. The base engine was a 3.3 litre V6 that developed 95 hp except in California where, to meet emissions standards, the larger 231-cubic-inch Buick engine was the base engine . Two upgrades could be ordered: a 305-cubic-inch V8 with 145 hp, or a 350-cubic-inch V8 with 170 hp that was only available in El Caminos and Malibu station wagons. It was not available on Malibu passenger cars (with exception to coupe and sedan Malibu 9C1 police vehicles). Among GM makes, at least, the era of bigness was fading into history, overtaken by a new age of efficiency and economy. The 1979 model got minimal changes following its debut as a redesigned “new-size” model in 1978. Alterations to the 1979 El Camino amounting to little more than a new divided grille. However, a “small-block” 267-cubic-inch (4.4-litre) V8 joined the options list and slotted between the standard 3.3-litre V6 and the optional 5.0-litre four-barrel V8. The 350-cubic-inch (5.7-litre) V8, developing 170 hp was again available. Both three- and four-speed manual transmissions had floor shifters. The 1980 El Camino started out the 1980s with few changes, though engine choices were shuffled a little. The base V6 displaced 229 cubic inches, up from 200 the year before. Horsepower increased from 94 to 115. Optional again were a 267-cubic-inch V8 with 125 hp and a 305 V8, now with 155 hp (down five). The 350 with 170 hp offered in 1979 was dropped. A three speed floor shifted manual transmission was standard, but most got the optional three-speed automatic. The 1981 models received a new horizontal tube grille. The 1981 engines mostly continued from 1980, but now used GM’s Computer Command Control (CCC) emission system. The base 229-cubic-inch V6 made 110 hp (down from 115), as did the California-only 231-cubic-inch Buick V6. Optional engines were the 267-cubic-inch V8 with 115 hp and the 305-cubic-inch V8, now with 150 hp. The three-speed automatic added a lock-up torque converter to aid highway mileage. The 1982 (through the final 1987) El Camino sported a new frontal appearance with a crosshatch grille flanked by quad rectangular headlights. New under the bonnet for 1982 was a 105 hp 5.7-litre Diesel V8, which was also offered in Chevy’s full-size cars. Though mileage with the diesel was commendable, it was an expensive option and would eventually amass a dismal repair record. Petrol engine choices were unchanged, except Chevy’s 3.8-litre V6 was now standard in California-bound cars, replacing Buick’s 231-cubic-inch V6. In 1983, the 4.4-litre V8 was gone, leaving the 5.0-litre version as the only optional gas V8. The standard engine was again Chevy’s 3.8-litre V6 with 110 hp, though California cars, once again, got a Buick V6 with similar specifications. Continuing on the options list was the 5.7-litre V8 Diesel with 105 hp. The sister Malibu sedan and wagon were discontinued after the 1983 model year. The 1984-87 El Camino SS was offered as a conversion (completed by Choo-Choo Customs Inc., of Chattanooga, Tennessee) to include the aerodynamic front end similar to the Monte Carlo SS, but did not receive the L69 engine package. For 1985, GM shifted El Camino production to Mexico, and the new 4.3 litre was standard through 1987.
Next up chronologically was this C4 Corvette, the fourth generation to near the name. It was was the first complete redesign of the Corvette since 1963. Production was to begin for the 1983 model year but quality issues and part delays resulted in only 43 prototypes for the 1983 model year being produced that were never sold. All of the 1983 prototypes were destroyed or serialised to 1984 except one with a white exterior, medium blue interior, L83 350 ci, 205 bhp V8, and 4-speed automatic transmission. After extensive testing and modifications were completed, it was initially retired as a display sitting in an external wall over the Bowling Green Assembly Plant’s employee entrance. Later this only surviving 1983 prototype was removed, restored and is now on public display at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. It is still owned by GM. On February 12, 2014, it was nearly lost to a sinkhole which opened up under the museum. Regular fourth generation production began on January 3, 1983; the 1984 model year and delivery to customers began in March 1983. The 1984 model carried over the 350 cu in (5.7 litre) L83 slightly more powerful (5 bhp) “Crossfire” V8 engine from the final 1982 third generation model. New chassis features were aluminium brake calipers and an all-aluminium suspension for weight savings and rigidity. The new one piece targa top had no centre reinforcement. A new electronic dashboard with digital liquid crystal displays for the speedometer and tachometer was standard. Beginning in 1985, the 230 bhp L98 engine with tuned port fuel injection became the standard engine. September 1984 through 1988 Corvettes offered a Doug Nash designed “4+3” transmission – a 4-speed manual coupled to an automatic overdrive on the top three gears. It was designed to help the Corvette meet U.S. fuel economy standards. Since 1981, when it was last offered, a manual transmission returned to the Corvette starting with production in late-1984. The transmission proved to be problematic and was replaced by a modern ZF 6-speed manual transmission in 1989. In 1986, the second Corvette Indy Pace Car was released. It was the first convertible Corvette since 1975. A Centre High Mounted Signal Light – a third centre brake light – was added in 1986 to comply with safety regulations. While the colour of the pace car used in the race was yellow, all 1986 convertibles also had an Indy 500 emblem mounted on the console, making any colour a “pace car edition”. In 1987, the B2K twin-turbo option became available from the factory. The Callaway Corvette was a Regular Production Option (RPO B2K). The B2K option coexisted from 1990 to 1991 with the ZR-1 option, which then replaced it. Early B2Ks produced 345 bhp and 450 lb·ft later versions boasted 450 bhp and 613 lb·ft .1988 saw the 35th Anniversary Edition of the Corvette. Each of these featured a special badge with an identification number mounted next to the gear selector, and were finished with a white exterior, wheels, and interior. In 1991, all Corvettes received updates to the body, interior, and wheels. The convex rear fascia that set the 1990 ZR-1 apart from the base model was now included on L98 Corvettes, making the styling of the expensive ZR-1 even closer to that of the base cars. The most obvious difference remaining between the base and ZR-1 models besides the wider rear wheels was the location of the CHMSL, which was integrated into the new rear fascia used on the base model, but remained at the top of the rear-hatch on the ZR-1’s. For the 1992 model year, the 300 bhp LT1 engine was introduced, an increase of 50 bhp over 1991’s L98 engine. This engine featured reverse-flow cooling (the heads were cooled before the block), which allowed for a higher compression ratio of 10.5:1. A new distributor was also debuted. Called “Optispark”, the distributor was driven directly off the front of the camshaft and mounted in front of the timing cover, just above the crankshaft and harmonic balancer. Also new for 1992 was Acceleration Slip Regulation (ASR), a form of traction control which utilised the Corvette’s brakes, spark retard, and throttle close-down to prevent excessive rear wheel spin and possible loss of control. The traction control device could be switched off if desired. A special 40th Anniversary Edition was released in 1993, which featured a commemorative Ruby Red colour, 40th anniversary badges, and embroidered seat backs. The 1993 Corvette also marked the introduction of the Passive Keyless Entry System, making it the first GM car to feature it. Production of the ZR-1 ended in 1995, after 6,939 cars had been built. 1996 was the final year of C4 production, and featured special models and options, including the Grand Sport and Collector Edition, OBD II (On-Board Diagnostics), run flat tyres, and the LT4 engine. The 330 bhp LT4 V8 was available only with a manual transmission, while all 300 bhp LT1 Corvettes used automatic transmissions. Chevrolet released the Grand Sport (GS) version in 1996 to mark the end of production of the C4 Corvette. The Grand Sport moniker was a nod to the original Grand Sport model produced in 1963. A total of 1,000 GS Corvettes were produced, 810 as coupes and 190 as convertibles. The 1996 GS came with the high-performance LT4 V8 engine, producing 330 bhp and 340 lb·ft . The Grand Sport came only in Admiral Blue with a white stripe down the middle, and black wheels and two red stripes on the front left wheel arch Seen here was an early C4 coupe and one of the 40th anniversary convertible cars.
There were several examples of the fifth and sixth generation Corvette and completing the array of Chevrolet models were the latest Camaro and the Corvette in current C7 guise.
This is a 1957 Firesweep. The Firesweep was a lower-priced entry which combined a Dodge shell and chassis with a DeSoto bumper and grill. 1957 models were sold only as imports in Canada. While the Firesweep featured DeSoto’s signature tailfins, the front clip (the front section, forward of the firewall) was based on the Dodge Coronet. The most telling feature was the headlight design, housed under heavily chromed lids typical of Dodge. Firesweep grilles were similar to those on other contemporary DeSoto models. The Firesweep could seat six passengers. It was available initially as a four-door sedan, four-door station wagon, two-door hardtop and four-door hardtop. A convertible was added for 1958. Depending on the body style, Firesweeps weighed betwee n 3,660 and 3,980 lb (1,660 and 1,674 kg). The base price of the Firesweep (1957) was US$3,169 and it was offered in one and two-tone exterior finishes. Features included power steering, power brakes, dashboard clock, push-button radio and whitewall tyres. In 1957, the DeSoto Firesweep was powered by the Dodge “Poly” 325 V8 with a 2bbl Stromberg down draft carburettor. The 325 was basically a detuned polyspherical combustion chambered version of the Dodge “Red Ram” 325 Hemi. With the optional power-pack four-barrel V8, the 1957 Firesweep produced 260 hp at 4400 rpm. This represented an increase of fifteen horsepower over the two-barrel engine. The 1958 Firesweep was fitted with a 350 cu in (5.7 L) V8 and the 1959 model with a 361 cu in (5.9 L) V8. The Firesweep was offered with three different transmissions as well, a two-speed PowerFlite, a three-speed TorqueFlite, or a three-speed column-shifted manual. The Firesweep was available with up to a three-colour paint job (the body was a different colour than the “sweep” on the side of the body, and the roof was a different colour still). DeSoto offered a laundry list of options for the vehicle to include, but not limited to: clock, AM radio, rear speaker, air conditioning, carpeting, deluxe cloth seat inserts, dual rear antennae, deluxe interior lighting, stainless steel stone shields, power steering, and power brakes. The first year of the car’s production, 1957, was the best year for Firesweep sales. A decline in DeSoto quality and increasing market pressures led to the end of the Firesweep’s production at the end of the 1959 model year. During 1959 Firesweep cars carried only DeSoto external nameplates. For 1960, DeSoto automobiles came in two series, Fireflite and the Adventurer. The final Desoto model, lacking a series name, was offered for the 1961 model year. DeSoto production ended in November 1960.
There were a couple of examples of the first generation Challenger here. Almost certainly a belated response by Dodge to the Mustang and Camaro, the Challenger was introduced in the autumn of 1969 for the 1970 model year, one of two Chrysler E-body cars, the other being the slightly smaller Plymouth Barracuda. Both the Challenger and Barracuda were available in a staggering number of trim and option levels, offering virtually every engine in Chrysler’s inventory. The first Barracuda had actually beaten the Mustang to market by a few weeks, but it was the Ford which really captured the public’s imagination and which came to define the sector known as the “Pony Car”. There was room for more models, as GM discovered when they produced the Camaro and Firebird in 1967. The Challenger’s longer wheelbase, larger dimensions and more luxurious interior were prompted by the launch of the 1967 Mercury Cougar, likewise a bigger, more luxurious and more expensive pony car aimed at affluent young American buyers. The wheelbase, at 110 inches was two inches longer than the Barracuda, and the Dodge differed substantially from the Plymouth in its outer sheetmetal, much as the Cougar differed from the shorter-wheelbase Ford Mustang. Air conditioning and a heated rear window were optional. Exterior design was done by Carl Cameron, who also did the exterior for the 1966 Dodge Charger. Cameron based the 1970 Challenger grille off an older sketch of his 1966 Charger prototype that was to have a turbine engine. The Charger never got the turbine, but the Challenger featured that car’s grille. Although the Challenger was well received by the public (with 76,935 produced for the 1970 model year), it was criticised by the press, and the pony car segment was already declining by the time the Challenger arrived. Sales fell dramatically after 1970, and though sales rose for the 1973 model year with over 27,800 cars being sold, Challenger production ceased midway through the 1974 model year. A total of 165,437 Challengers were sold over this generation’s lifespan.
The Viper started out as a concept car, but, unlike most such show cars, as Chrysler Corp have proved several times in recent years, public reaction was such that the model was put into production. Initially offered as an open topped roadster, the GTS Coupe was added to the range in 1996. Dubbed the “double bubble”, the roof featured slightly raised sections that looked like a bubble to accommodate the usage of helmets and taking design cues from the Pete Brock designed Shelby Daytona. More than 90% of the GTS was new in comparison to the RT/10 despite similar looks. The GTS came with the same 8.0 litre V-10 engine but power would be increased to 450 hp. This was the first Viper to be equipped with airbags and also included air conditioning, power windows and door locks. The model was chosen as the pace car for the Indianapolis 500. These days the cars still turn heads everywhere they go.
Sole Ferrari that was there whilst I was, was this 812 Superfast, a current model of the top of the range, as Ferrari’s latest 2-seater V12 sports GT which took over from the F12 Berlinetta a couple of years ago.
Oldest Ford present was this customised car based on a 1930s V8. Cars of that era are very popular subjects for such treatment and have been for a while. Even now there are a plentiful supply of source cars in places like Arizona where rust is generally not an issue.
Like most manufacturers, Ford resumed production of their pre-war models after the end of hostilities and it was not until 1949 when they produced an all-new design. Popularly called the “Shoebox Ford” for its slab-sided, “ponton” design, the 1949 Ford is credited both with saving Ford and ushering in modern streamlined car design with changes such as integrated fenders and more. This design would continue through the 1951 model year, with an updated design offered in 1952. The crest was designed by Frank L. Engle. After sticking with its well-received previous model through model year 1948, Ford completely redesigned its namesake car for the year 1949. Save for its drive-train, this was an all-new car in every way, with a modern ladder frame now supporting a coil spring independent suspension in front and longitudinal semi-elliptical springs in back. The engine was moved forward to make more room in the passenger compartment and the antiquated “torque tube” was replaced by a modern drive shaft. Ford’s popular 226 CID (3.7 L) L-head straight-6 and 239 CID (3.9 L) Flathead V8 remained, now rated at 90 hp and 100 hp, respectively. The 1949 models debuted at a gala at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City in June 1948, with a carousel of the new Fords complemented by a revolving demonstration of the new chassis. The new integrated steel structure was advertised as a “lifeguard body”, and even the woody wagon was steel at heart. The convertible frame had an “X member” for structural rigidity. From a customer’s perspective, the old Custom, De Luxe, and Super De Luxe lines were replaced by new Standard and Custom trims and the cars gained a modern look with completely integrated rear fenders and just a hint of a fender in front. The new styling approach was also evident in the 1949 Mercury Eight and the all-new Lincoln Cosmopolitan. The styling was influential on many European manufacturers, such as Mercedes Benz, Borgward, Austin, Volvo and many others. The all new 1949 Ford was said at the time to be the car that saved the Ford Corporation. Competition from GMH was surpassing the Old Ford designs. In some ways the vehicle was rushed into production, particularly the door mechanism design. It was said that the doors could fling open on corners. In the 1950 model there were some 10 changes in the door latching mechanism alone. 1950 saw a new Crestliner “sports sedan”—a 2-door sedan with 2-tone paint intended to battle Chevrolet’s popular hardtop coupe of 1950. Another new name was Country Squire, which referred to the 2-door wood-sided station wagon. All wagons received flat-folding middle seats at mid-year, an innovation that would reappear in the minivans of the 1990s. The 1949 and 1950 styling was similar, with a single central “bullet” in the frowning chrome grille. In the centre there was a red space that had either a 6 or 8 depending if the car had the six-cylinder engine or the V8. The trim lines were renamed as well, with “Standard” becoming “Deluxe” and “Custom” renamed “Custom Deluxe”. The new Fords got the now-famous “Ford Crest” which appeared on the division’s vehicles for many decades in one form or another. A Deluxe Business Coupe was also marketed. The 1951 Fords featured an optional Ford-O-Matic automatic transmission for the first time. Ford finally answered the Chevrolet Bel Air and Plymouth Belvedere charge with the Victoria hardtop in 1951, borrowing the term from the victoria carriage. The car was an instant hit, outselling the Chevrolet by nearly 10%. The Crestliner continued for one more year, however. All 1951 Fords sported a new “dual-bullet” grille and heavy chrome bumpers. This year Ford also added a new “turn-key” ignition. Front suspension is independent coil springs. Head room was 36.1 inches. An all new design arrived for 1952.
The Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner is a two-door full-size car with a retractable hardtop that was produced by Ford Motor Company for the model years 1957 to 1959. In 1959 the model name changed to Ford Galaxie Skyliner very shortly after production of the 1959 models had started. The Ford Skyliner Retractable was only the second car in history to be mass-produced produced with a retractable hardtop; the first to reach four and five digit mass-production numbers, and the first series produced coupé convertible to feature a roof composed of more than one segment. Additionally, the trunk-lid also consisted of two pieces — one segment took the place where other convertibles typically had a separate lid to cover the soft-top stowage compartment. Both the folding roof and trunk-lid are power operated through an exceptionally complex system. At the time of its introduction, the Skyliner was the only true hardtop convertible in the world. Part of the Ford Fairlane 500 range, the Skyliner had a complex mechanism which folded the front of the roof and retracted it under the rear decklid. No hydraulic mechanisms were used as in regular convertibles of the era. The Skyliner top has seven reversible electric motors (only six for 1959 models), four lift jacks, a series of relays, ten limit switches, ten solenoids, four locking mechanisms for the roof and two locking mechanisms for the trunk lid, and a total of 610 ft (185.9 m) of wiring. The large top took up vast amounts of trunk space, limiting the car’s sales (however, unlike what most people believe, the mechanism had decent reliability).Production totalled 20,766 units in 1957, declining to 14,713 in 1958 and to 12,915 in 1959. An electric clock was standard. Fuel consumption was around 14 mpg‑US overall. The fuel tank was placed vertically in back of the rear seat, which inadvertently added safety in rear collisions. The wheelbase of the Skyliner was 118 in (3,000 mm) and the overall length was 210.8 in (5,350 mm). During the 1959 model year the Galaxie series was added to Ford’s full-size range and the Skyliner model was absorbed into that series.Although the 1959 Galaxie was designated as a separate series, Galaxies carried both “Fairlane 500” and “Galaxie” badging, on the rear and sides respectively.It came with the standard 292 cu in (4.8 L) 2-barrel 200 hp V8 engine. The design attracted more attention than sales; the option was expensive, suspected to be unreliable, and took up almost all the trunk space when retracted. It required the roof to be made shorter than the other Fords, and the trunk to be larger. This was because the design was originally to be a Continental coupe. Projected losses of the retractable roof Continental resulted in a decision to restyle the vehicle, from the bottom of the windows down, as a member of the Fairlane 500 family because it could attract more buyers as a Ford with more reasonable retail price compared to adding extra costs to the already expensive retail price of a Lincoln Continental. The solid roof pillar of the Skyliner is similar to the appearance of 2nd generation Ford Thunderbirds of 1958-1960. Although the actual mechanical differed, the Skyliner’s retractable roof design was adopted for the Lincoln Continental convertibles of 1961-67. . A total of 48,394 units were built.
Earlier of the two Thunderbird models I spotted was a second generation car. Although the 1955–57 Thunderbird was a success, Ford executives—particularly Robert McNamara—were concerned that the car’s position as a two-seater limited its sales potential. As a result, the car was redesigned as a four-seater for 1958. The new Thunderbird began a sales momentum previously unseen with the car, selling 200,000 units in three years, four times the result of the two seat model. This success spawned a new market segment, the personal luxury car. It was the first individual model line (as opposed to an entire company) to earn Motor Trend “Car of the Year” honours. It was offered in both hardtop and convertible body styles, although the latter was not introduced until June 1958, five months after the release of the hardtop. The new Thunderbird was considerably larger than the previous generation, with a longer 113.0 in (2,870 mm) wheelbase to accommodate the new back seat. The increased size also increased the car’s weight to 1,000 lb (454 kg). Along with a new, more rigid unibody construction was new styling, including quad headlights, more prominent tailfins, a bolder chrome grille, and a larger, though non-functional, hood scoop. Powering the Thunderbird was a new, 300 hp 352 cu in (5.8 L) FE V8, available with a three-speed manual or automatic transmissions. In the 1958 model year in which the car was introduced, sales were 37,892 units, outselling the previous model year’s 16,000 units. For 1959, the car received a new grille and a newly optional, 350 hp 430 cu in (7.0 L) MEL V8 for 1959, sales climbed even higher to 67,456 units. For 1960, the Thunderbird was given another new grille and other minor styling changes along with a newly optional manually operated sunroof for hardtop models. Dual-unit round taillights from 1958 to 1959 were changed to triple-units after the fashion of the Chevrolet Impala. Sales increased again with 92,843 sold for 1960. A new model arrived for 1961.
For 1964 the Thunderbird was restyled in favour of a more squared-off appearance, which was mostly evident when viewing the car from the side or rear. Hinting at its roots in the previous generation Thunderbird that it evolved from, the new model retained a similar grille design with quad headlights and a 113.2 inches wheelbase. As before, the new Thunderbird continued to be offered in hardtop, convertible, and Landau versions. The 300 horsepower 6.4 litre V8 continued as the standard engine for the Thunderbird. It was paired with a 3-speed automatic transmission. For 1965, sequential turn signals were added, flashing the individual segments of the broad, horizontal tail lights in sequences from inside to outside to indicate a turn. Also new for 1965 were standard front disc brakes, and doubled sided keys. Even though it was the last year of the generation, 1966 saw a stylistic revision for the Thunderbird highlighted by a new egg-crate style grille with a large Thunderbird emblem at its centre and a single-blade front bumper. The rear bumper was restyled to include new full-width taillamps. Engine choices were also revised for 1966. The standard 390 cu in (6.4 litre) V8 equipped with a single four-barrel carburettor produced 315 horsepower. Newly optional and taking the top position for performance was a 345 horsepower 428 cu in (7.0 litre) FE V8. The 428 cost only $86 over the base engine, and was a popular option. This would be the last year for the convertible until the “retro” models of 2002-05.
It was not really a surprise to find that the Mustang was the most numerous of all American cars at this event. Drawing on inspiration from the mid-engined Ford Mustang I concept vehicle, Lee Iacocca ordered development of a new “small car” to vice-president of design at Ford, Eugene Bordinat. Bordinat tasked Ford’s three design studios (Ford, Lincoln-Mercury, and Advanced Design) to create proposals for the new vehicle. The design teams had been given five goals for the design of the Mustang: It would seat four, have bucket seats and a floor mounted shifter, weigh no more than 2,500 pounds (1,100 kg) and be no more than 180 inches (4,572 mm) in length, sell for less than $2,500, and have multiple power, comfort, and luxury options. The Lincoln–Mercury design studio ultimately produced the winning design in the intramural contest, under Project Design Chief Joe Oros and his team of L. David Ash, Gale Halderman, and John Foster. Development of the Mustang was completed in a record 18 months from September 1962 to March 1964. and Iacocca himself championed the project as Ford Division general manager. The styling is often credited to one person, and that is not accurate, as this was very much a team effort, it has been reported by those involved. To decrease developmental costs, the Mustang used chassis, suspension, and drivetrain components derived from the Ford Falcon and Fairlane. It used a unitised platform-type frame from the 1964 Falcon, and welded box-section side rails, including welded crossmembers. Although hardtop Mustangs accounted for the highest sales, durability problems with the new frame led to the engineering of a convertible first, which ensured adequate stiffness. Overall length of the Mustang and Falcon was identical, although the Mustang’s wheelbase was slightly shorter. With an overall width of 68.2 in (1,732 mm), it was 2.4 in (61 mm) narrower, yet the wheel track was nearly identical. Shipping weight, approximately 2,570 lb (1,166 kg) with the straight six-cylinder engine, was also similar to the Falcon. A fully equipped V8 model weighed approximately 3,000 lb (1,361 kg). Although most of the mechanical parts were from the Falcon, the Mustang’s body was completely different; sporting a shorter wheelbase, wider track, lower seating position and lower overall height. An industry first, the “torque box” was an innovative structural system that greatly stiffened the Mustang’s construction and helped contribute to better handling. The car was launched in 17th April 1964, as a hardtop and a convertible, with the fastback version following in August. It was an instant sensation, with demand massively exceeding supply.
Since it was introduced four months before the normal start of the 1965 production year and manufactured alongside 1964 Ford Falcons and 1964 Mercury Comets, the earliest Mustangs are widely referred to as the 1964½ model. Nevertheless, all “1964½” cars were given 1965 U.S. standard VINs at the time of production, and – with limited exception to the earliest of promotional materials – were marketed by Ford as 1965 models. The low-end model hardtop used a “U-code” 170 cu in (2.8 litre) straight-6 engine borrowed from the Falcon, as well as a three-speed manual transmission and retailed for US$2,368. Standard equipment for the early 1965 Mustangs included black front seat belts, a glove box light, and a padded dash board. Production began in March 1964 and official introduction following on April 17 at the 1964 World’s Fair. V8 models got a badge on the front fender that spelled out the engine’s cubic inch displacement (“260” or “289”) over a wide “V.” This emblem was identical to the one on the 1964 Fairlane. Several changes to the Mustang occurred at the start of the “normal” 1965 model year in August 1964, about four months after its introduction. These cars are known as “late 65’s”. The engine lineup was changed, with a 200 cu in (3.3 litre) “T-code” engine that produced 120 hp. Production of the Fairlane’s “F-code” 260 cu in (4.3 litre) engine ceased when the 1964 model year ended. It was replaced with a new 200 hp (150 kW) “C-code” 289 cu in (4.7 litre) engine with a two-barrel carburettor as the base V8. An “A-code” 225 hp four-barrel carburettor version was next in line, followed by the unchanged “Hi-Po” “K-code” 271 hp 289. The DC electrical generator was replaced by a new AC alternator on all Fords (a way to distinguish a 1964 from a 1965 is to see if the alternator light on the dash says “GEN” or “ALT”). The Mustang GT version was introduced as the “GT Equipment Package” and included a V8 engine (most often the 225 hp 289), grille-mounted fog lamps, rocker panel stripes, and disc brakes. In the interior the GT option added a different instrument panel that included a speedometer, fuel gauge, temp. gauge, oil pressure gauge and ammeter in five round dials (the gauges were not marked with numbers, however.) A four-barrel carburettor engine was now available with any body style. Additionally, reverse lights were an option added to the car from August 1964 production. In 1965, the Shelby Mustang was born, it was available only in newly introduced fastback body version with its swept-back rear glass and distinctive ventilation louvres. The standard interior features of the 1965 Mustang included adjustable driver and passenger bucket seats, an AM radio, and a floor mounted shifter in a variety of colour options. Ford added additional interior options during the 1965 model year. The Interior Decor Group was popularly known as “Pony Interior” due to the addition of embossed running ponies on the seat fronts, and also included integral armrests, woodgrain appliqué accents, and a round gauge cluster that would replace the standard Falcon instrumentation. Also available were sun visors, a (mechanical) remote-operated mirror, a floor console, and a bench seat. Ford later offered an under-dash air-conditioning unit, and discontinued the vinyl with cloth insert seat option, offered only in early 1965 models. One option designed strictly for fun was the Rally-Pac. Introduced in 1963 after Ford’s success at that year’s Monte Carlo Rally and available on other Ford and Mercury compacts and intermediates, the Rally-Pac was a combination clock and tachometer mounted to the steering column. It was available as a factory ordered item for US$69.30. Installed by a dealer, the Rally-Pac cost US$75.95.A 14″ rim option was available for Rally-pac and GT350R vehicles widening front and rear track to 57.5″. Reproductions are presently available from any number of Mustang restoration parts sources. A compass, rear seat belts, A/C, and back-up lights were also optional. The 1966 Mustang debuted with moderate trim changes including a new grille, side ornamentation, wheel covers and filler cap. Ford’s new C-4 “cruise-o-matic” three-speed auto transmission became available for the 225 hp V8. The 289 “HiPo” K-code engine was also offered with a c4 transmission, but it had stronger internals and can be identified by the outer casing of the servo which is marked with a ‘C’. The long duration solid-lifter camshaft that allowed the high revving 289 to make the horsepower it was known for, was not friendly for a low stall speed automatic torque converter. The “HiPo” could be spotted very easily by the 1-inch-thick vibration damper, (as compared to 1/2 inch on the 225-hp version) and the absence of a vacuum advance unit on the dual point distributor. With the valve covers off, there is a large letter “K” stamped between the valve springs, along with screw in studs (vs. a pressed in stud for other 289s) for the adjustable rocker arms. A large number of new paint and interior color options, an AM/eight-track sound system, and one of the first AM/FM mono automobile radios were also offered. It also removed the Falcon instrument cluster; the previously optional features, including the round gauges and padded sun visors, became standard equipment. The Mustang would be the best-selling convertible in 1966, with 72,119 sold, beating the number two Impala by almost 2:1. The 1965 and 1966 Mustangs are differentiated by variations in the exterior, despite similar design. These variations include the emblem on the quarter-panels behind the doors. From August 1964 production, the emblem was a single vertical piece of chrome, while for 1966 models the emblem was smaller in height and had three horizontal bars extending from the design, resembling an “E”. The front intake grilles and ornaments were also different. The 1965 front grille used a “honeycomb” pattern, while the 1966 version was a “slotted” style. While both model years used the “Horse and Corral” emblem on the grille, the 1965 had four bars extending from each side of the corral, while on the 1966, these bars were removed. The 1966 model year saw introduction of ‘High Country Special’ limited edition, 333 of them were sold in Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska. When Ford wanted to introduce the Mustang in Germany, they discovered that Krupp company had already registered the name for a truck. The German company offered to sell the rights for US$10,000. Ford refused and removed Mustang badges from exported units, instead naming the cars as T-5 (a pre-production Mustang project name) for the German market until 1979 when Krupp copyrights expired. In 1965, Harry Ferguson Research purchased 3 Mustang notchbacks and converted them to 4×4 in an attempt to sell potential clients on their FF AWD system. A similar system was used in the Ferguson P99 Formula One car, and would go on to be featured in the Jensen FF, widely considered the first AWD passenger car. As in the Jensen FF, the AWD Mustangs also featured an ABS braking system, long before such a feature was commonplace. Ford Australia organised the importation and conversion of 1966 Mustang to right-hand-drive for the Australian market. This coincided with the launch of new XR Falcon for 1966, which was marketed as “Mustang-bred Falcon”. To set the official conversion apart from the cottage industry, the RHD Mustangs were called “Ford Australia Delivered Mustang” and had compliance plates similar to XR Falcon. About 209 were imported to Australia with 48 units were converted in 1965 while the further 161 were done in 1966. The 1967 model year Mustang was the first redesign of the original model. Ford’s designers began drawing up a larger version even as the original was achieving sales success, and while “Iacocca later complained about the Mustang’s growth, he did oversee the redesign for 1967 .” The major mechanical feature was to allow the installation of a big-block V8 engine. The overall size, interior and cargo space were increased. Exterior trim changes included concave taillights, side scoop (1967 model) and chrome (1968 model) side ornamentation, square rear-view mirrors, and usual yearly wheel and gas cap changes. The high-performance 289 option was placed behind the newer 335 hp 6.4 litre FE engine from the Ford Thunderbird, which was equipped with a four-barrel carburettor. During the mid-1968 model year, a drag racer for the street could be ordered with the optional 428 cu in (7.0 litre) Cobra Jet engine which was officially rated at 335 hp. All of these Mustangs were issued R codes on their VIN’s. The 1967 Deluxe Interior was revised, discontinuing the embossed running horse motif on the seat backs (the source for the “pony interior” nickname) in favor of a new deluxe interior package, which included special colour options, brushed aluminium (from August 1966 production) or woodgrain dash trim, seat buttons, and special door panels. The hardtop also included upholstered quarter trim panels, a carryover from the 1965-66 deluxe interior. The 1967 hardtop also had the chrome quarter trim caps, carried over from 1965-66, but these were painted to match the interior in 1968 models. The 1967 deluxe interior included stainless steel-trimmed seat back shells, similar to those in the Thunderbird. These were dropped at the end of the 1967 model year, and were not included in the woodgrain-trimmed 1968 interior. The deluxe steering wheel, which had been included in the deluxe interior for the 1965-66, became optional, and could also be ordered with the standard interior. The 1968 models that were produced from January 1968 were also the first model year to incorporate three-point lap and shoulder belts (which had previously been optional, in 1967-68 models) as opposed to the standard lap belts. The air-conditioning option was fully integrated into the dash, the speakers and stereo were upgraded, and unique center and overhead consoles were options. The fastback model offered the option of a rear fold-down seat, and the convertible was available with folding glass windows. Gone was the Rally-Pac, since the new instrument cluster had provisions for an optional tachometer and clock. Its size and shape also precluded the installation of the accessory atop the steering column. The convenience group with four warning lights for low fuel, seat belt reminder, parking brake not released, and door ajar were added to the instrument panel, or, if one ordered the optional console and A/C, the lights were mounted on the console. Changes for the 1968 model increased safety with a two-spoke energy-absorbing steering wheel, along with newly introduced shoulder belts. Other changes included front and rear side markers, “FORD” lettering removed from hood, rearview mirror moved from frame to windscreen, a 302 cu in (4.9 litre) V8 engine was now available, and C-Stripe graphics were added. The California Special Mustang, or GT/CS, was visually based on the Shelby model and was only sold in Western states. Its sister, the ‘High Country Special’, was sold in Denver, Colorado. While the GT/CS was only available as a coupe, the ‘High Country Special’ model was available in fastback and convertible configurations during the 1966 and 1967 model years, and as a coupe for 1968. The 1968 Ford Mustang GT Fastback reached iconic status after it was featured in the 1968 film Bullitt, starring Steve McQueen. In the film, McQueen drove a modified 1968 Mustang GT 2+2 Fastback chasing a Dodge Charger through the streets of San Francisco. There were further annual updates until the model’s replacement in 1973, but with each the car got steadily bigger and less overtly sporty. Sales reduced, too, suggesting that Ford were losing their way. Mustang II did not fix that, of course, but gradually, the legendary nameplate has returned to delivering the same sort of promise as those early and much loved cars were able to do.
There was also an example of the “rent-a-racer”, the 1966 Mustang Shelby GT350H. These were produced for Hertz in 1966 and were based on the Shelby GT350 model The deal with the Hertz Corporation to offer ~1,000 GT350s for rental that, after their rental-car lives were finished, were returned to Ford, refurbished, and sold to the public as “GT350H” models. Most Hertz cars were black with gold LeMans stripes and rocker panel stripes, although a few were white with blue stripes. The first 85 Hertz cars were available with four-speed manual transmissions and Hertz advertised them as “Rent-a-Racer” cars. During rental, these cars were sometimes used as production class cars at SCCA events, and were rumoured to have been returned to Hertz with evidence of roll bars being welded in. Ford pushed another 800 models on Hertz with black paint, gold stripes and black interior, as well as automatic transmissions. When the Hertz cars were returned to Ford to be prepared for sale to the public, the high-performance parts were often “lost” (presumably at the manufacturer) before final sale. The program was extremely popular at the time. and provided the inspiration for a series of more recent recreations of the concept of special version of the Mustang, with Shelby parts and approval.
The idea behind the Bronco began with Ford product manager Donald N. Frey in the early 1960s (who also conceived the Ford Mustang) and engineered by Ford engineer Paul G. Axelrad, with Lee Iacocca approving the final model for production in February 1964, after the first clay models were built in mid-1963. Developed as an off-road vehicle (ORV), the Bronco was intended as a competitor for the Jeep CJ-5 and International Harvester Scout. Today a compact SUV in terms of size, Ford marketing shows a very early example of promoting a civilian off-roader as a “Sports Utility” (the two-door pickup version). Initially selling well, following the introduction of the Chevrolet Blazer, Jeep Cherokee, and International Scout II (from 1969 to 1974), demand shifted towards SUVs with better on-road capability, leading to a decline in demand for the Bronco. The first-generation Bronco is built upon a chassis developed specifically for the model range, shared with no other Ford or Lincoln-Mercury vehicle. Built on a 92-inch wheelbase (sized between the CJ-5 and Scout; only an inch shorter than the later CJ-7), the Bronco used box-section body-on-frame construction. To simplify production, all examples were sold with four-wheel drive; a shift-on the-fly Dana 20 transfer case and locking hubs were standard. The rear axle was a Ford 9-inch axle, with Hotchkiss drive and leaf springs; the front axle was a Dana 30, replaced by a Dana 44 in 1971. In contrast to the Twin I-Beams of larger Ford trucks, the Bronco used radius arms to locate the coil-sprung front axle, along with a lateral track bar, allowing for a 34-foot turning circle, long wheel travel, and antidive geometry (useful for snowplowing). A heavier-duty suspension system was an option, along with air front springs. At its August 1965 launch, the Bronco was offered with a 170-cubic-inch inline six. Derived from the Ford Falcon, the 105-hp engine was modified with solid valve lifters, a 6-US-quart (6 L) oil pan, heavy-duty fuel pump, oil-bath air cleaner, and carburettor with a float bowl compensated against tilting. In March 1966, a 200-hp 289-cubic-inch V8 was introduced as an option.For the 1969 model year, the 289 V8 was enlarged to 302 cubic inches, remaining through the 1977 model year. For 1973, a 200 cubic-inch inline six became the standard engine, offered through 1977. To lower production costs, at its launch, the Bronco was offered solely with a three-speed, column-shifted manual transmission and floor-mounted transfer case shifter (with a floor-mounted transmission shifter later becoming a popular modification). In 1973, in response to buyer demand, a three-speed automatic transmission was offered as an option. In a central theme of the first-generation Bronco, styling was subordinated to simplicity and economy, so all glass was flat, bumpers were straight C-sections, and the left and right door skins were symmetrical (prior to the fitment of door-mounting hardware). For 1966, three body configurations were offered, including a two-door wagon and half-cab pickup, and open-body roadster. At its $2,194 base price ($17,507 in 2018 dollars), the Bronco included few amenities as standard. However, a large number of options were offered through both Ford and its dealers, including front bucket seats, a rear bench seat, a tachometer, and a CB radio, as well as functional items such as a tow bar, an auxiliary gas tank, a power take-off, a snowplow, a winch, and a posthole digger. Aftermarket accessories included campers, overdrive units, and the usual array of wheels, tyres, chassis, and engine parts for increased performance. For 1967, Ford introduced the Sport option package for the Bronco wagon. Consisting primarily of chrome exterior trim and wheelcovers, the Sport package was distinguished by red-painted FORD grille lettering. For 1970, the Bronco Sport became a freestanding model rather than an option package. To comply with federal regulations, the Bronco was fitted with backup lights and side marker lamps (in 1967 and 1968, respectively). After struggling with sales, the open-body Bronco roadster was withdrawn after the 1968 model year.After 1972, the Bronco half-cab was withdrawn; along with its lower sales compared to the wagon, Ford had introduced the larger Ford Courier compact pickup. In a minor revision, for 1977, the exterior-mounted fuel tank caps were replaced behind hinged doors (as on all other Ford trucks). Initially offered as a single trim level with a long option list, for 1967, Ford introduced the Sport option package for the Bronco wagon. Consisting primarily of chrome exterior trim and wheelcovers, the Sport package was distinguished by red-painted FORD grille lettering. For 1970, the Bronco Sport became a freestanding model rather than an option package. For 1972, in line with the F-Series trucks, the Ranger trim became the top-of-the-line Bronco, offering body stripes, model-specific wheel covers, cloth seats, woodgrain door panels, and carpeted interior. In a 1975 interior revision, the Bronco Sport and Bronco Ranger adapted the two-spoke steering wheel from the F-Series.
The Maverick was introduced on April 17, 1969 as a 1970 model. The Maverick was originally conceived and marketed as a subcompact “import fighter”, intended to do battle with the Volkswagen Beetle and newer Japanese rivals for North America from Honda, Datsun, and Toyota. The Falcon, Ford’s compact offering since 1960 and main rival to the Chevrolet Nova and Dodge Dart, had seen its sales decimated by the introduction of the Mustang in 1964, and despite a redesign in 1966, was unable to meet the then forthcoming U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration motor vehicle standards that would come into effect on January 1, 1970. Consequently, the Falcon was discontinued midway through the 1970 model year, and the Maverick repositioned as Ford’s compact entry, giving the Nova and Dart a new rival. A bigger Falcon was a rebranded low-trim version of the Fairlane for the second half of the model year, then went away. The Maverick’s styling featured the long hood, fastback roof, and short deck popularised by the Mustang, on a 103-inch wheelbase — and featured pop-out rear side windows. Nearly 579,000 Mavericks were produced in its first year, approaching the record-setting first year of Mustang sales (nearly 619,000), and easily outpaced the Mustang’s sales of fewer than 200,000 in 1970. Total North American Maverick production (1969-1977) reached 2.1 million units. Initially available only as a 2-door sedan, early models lacked a glove compartment, which was added during the model year 1973 (early 1973 models still lacked a glove compartment). A 4-door sedan on a 109.9-inch wheelbase was introduced for 1971. At introduction, exterior paint colours were named with puns, including Anti-Establish Mint, Hulla Blue, Original Cinnamon, Freudian Gilt, Thanks Vermillion — along with more typical names including Black Jade, Champagne Gold, Gulfstream Aqua, Meadowlark Yellow, Brittany Blue, Lime Gold, Dresden Blue, Raven Black, Wimbledon White, and Candyapple Red. In the first half of production for the 1970 model, two engine options were available, a 105 hp 170 cu in (2,800 cc) straight 6 and a 120 hp 200 cu in (3,300 cc) straight 6. A 250 cu in (4,100 cc) straight 6 was added mid-year. Commercials and advertising compared the Maverick at $1995 to the smaller Volkswagen Beetle which was about $500 less in price. The Pinto was later Ford’s primary competitor to the Beetle in the subcompact class, while also competing in that segment with the Chevrolet Vega and AMC Gremlin subcompacts new to the market at that time. The earliest Mavericks featured a two-spoke steering wheel with a partial horn ring, also found on other 1969 Fords, while late 1969 production was changed to a revised steering wheel with no horn ring. Also, the early models located the ignition switch in the instrument panel while the cars built after September 1, 1969 had the ignition switch mounted on a locking steering column, as did all other 1970 Fords in compliance with a new federal safety mandate that took effect with the 1970 model year. A four-door model was introduced for 1971, available was a vinyl roof. Mercury also revived the Mercury Comet as a rebadged variant of the Maverick. Also for 1971, an optional 210 hp 302 CID V8 was introduced for both the Comet and the Maverick. The Comet was distinguished from the Maverick using a different grille, taillights, trim, and hood. The Maverick Grabber trim package was introduced in mid-1970. In addition to larger tire fitment, the package included graphics and trim, including a spoiler. It was offered from 1970 to 1975. In 1971 and 1972, the Grabber came with a special “Dual Dome” hood. A Sprint package offered for 1972 featured white and blue two-toned paint with red pinstripes and a special colour coordinated interior. The rear quarter panels included a stylized U.S.A. flag shield. This trim package acknowledged the 1972 Olympics and was available for only one year. A “Luxury Decor Option” (LDO) trim level introduced late in the 1972 model year included reclining bucket seats in a soft vinyl material, plush carpeting, woodgrained instrument panel trim, radial tires with body-colour deluxe wheel covers, and a vinyl roof. The Maverick LDO option was one of the first American compacts to be marketed as a lower-priced (and domestic) alternative to the more expensive European luxury/touring sedans from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, and other makes. Minor changes were made from 1973 to 1975. For 1973, the 170 CID engine was dropped, making the 200 CID I6 the standard engine. Additionally, improved brakes and a previously optional chrome grille became standard. An AM/FM stereo, aluminium wheels, and a new slightly larger front bumper to comply with federal 5 MPH regulations. In 1974, the Maverick was unchanged except for new even larger federally required 5 MPH bumpers for both front and rear which required new rear quarter panel end caps. Jumping gas prices and increasing demand for smaller cars resulting from the Arab oil embargo did cause the Maverick to grow in popularity, selling 10,000 more units than the year before. Production of the Maverick dropped in 1975 with the release of the Granada as a more European-style luxury compact (the Granada and Maverick shared the same basic chassis). The Maverick received minor trim changes for 1975 that included new grilles and the replacement of nameplates on the hood and trunklid with FORD nameplates, in block letters. In 1976, the Grabber was dropped, and a Stallion package was introduced. The Stallion option came with special paint and trim. Standard Mavericks received another new grille and gained front disc brakes as standard equipment along with a new foot-operated parking brake that replaced the old under-dash T-handle unit. Sales continued to drop. In its final year, the Maverick remained unchanged for 1977 except for a police package which was not sufficiently upgraded for police work and sold less than 400 units. The Maverick was produced in Brazil until 1979. Maverick’s place in the North American Ford lineup was essentially taken by the 1978 Fairmont. The Maverick had no significant changes towards the end of its lifespan, since it was originally meant to be replaced in 1975 by the Granada. However, Ford decided to keep selling both lines until the 1978 model year introduction of the Fairmont.
There were plenty of much more recent Mustang models here, with examples from the current and previous generation, some more standard than others as well as one of the third generation cars.
Final Ford here was a car which is still familiar, not least as for years it was the archetypal police car and taxi, the Crown Victoria.
For a long time now, GMC have produced a range of vehicles, mostly trucks, which closely parallel those of Chevrolet, so this one is the GMC equivalent of the Chevrolet Apache seen above in this report.
Imperial was the Chrysler Corporation’s luxury automobile brand from 1955 to 1975, and again from 1981 to 1983. The Imperial name had been used since 1926, but was never a separate make, just the top-of-the-line Chrysler. However, in 1955, the company decided to spin Imperial off as its own make and division to better compete with its North American rivals, Lincoln and Cadillac. Imperial would see new or modified body styles introduced every two to three years, all with V8 engines and automatic transmissions, as well as technologies that would filter down to Chrysler Corporation’s other models. For the 1957 model year, the Imperial received its own platform, setting it apart from any other division of Chrysler. This would last through the 1966 model year. Imperials during this period were substantially wider, both inside and out, than other Mopars with front and rear shoulder room equal to 64.0 in and 62.0 in respectively. The front seat shoulder room measurement remains an unsurpassed record for Imperial and would remain the record for any car until the 1971–1976 GM full-size models. Exterior width reached a maximum of 81.7 in (2,075 mm) for 1961–1963, which remains the record for the widest non-limousine American car. After Lincoln downsized for 1961 this generation of Imperial had no real competitor for the title of largest car for the remainder of its decade-long lifespan. One advantage of Imperials of this vintage was their strength; their crash-worthiness got them banned from most demolition derbies for being too durable and too tough to take down. Unlike the rest of the Chrysler Corporation makes (Chrysler, De Soto, Dodge and Plymouth), that began unibody construction for 1960, the Imperial retained separate full perimeter frames for rigidity through the 1966 model year. These substantial frames had a box cross section with cross-members forming an “X”. The drive shaft passed through a hole in the “X” frame. The parking brake gripped the drive shaft, and was not connected to the rear drum brakes prior to the 1963 model year. Another advantage was that Imperial, and all Mopars, received “Torsion-Aire” suspension for 1957. Torsion-Aire was an indirect-acting, torsion-bar front suspension system which reduced unsprung weight and shifted the car’s center of gravity downward and rearward. Torsion-bar suspension on the front combined with multi-leaf springs on the rear provided a smoother ride and improved handling. Pillarless hardtops, in both two and four door configurations, got the Southampton designation. The 1957 model year was based to an even greater degree on Virgil Exner’s “Forward Look” styling (also used on other full-size Chryslers of the period). It featured a “biplane” front bumper, a full-width egg crate grille and quad headlights (where legal). Taller tailfins now encompassed the trademark gunsight taillights and framed a downward tapering decklid that met the rear bumper. Curved side glass was employed for the first time on a U.S. production car. The Hemi engine with a displacement enlarged to 392 cu in (6.4 L) was standard for 1957-58. Power seats and dual exhaust were made standard across the line. A convertible was available for the first time on an Imperial and only offered in the mid-range Crown series. Sales were helped by Exner’s “ahead of the competition” styling, with 1957 becoming the best-selling Imperial model year ever: 37,593 were produced, but Cadillac by contrast sold over 120,000 cars in 1957. Quality control also slipped considerably, a consequence of the second total redesign in two years. There were changes on an annual basis right through to 1966. The car seen here dates from 1959.
Replacement for the XK models came in 1961 with the E Type, or as it was known in the US, the XK-E and it stunned the world at its premier at the 1961 Geneva Show. Considered by many to be Sir William Lyons’ greatest achievement, not only did the car have stop-you-in-your-tracks gorgeous styling, but it had explosive performance (even if the 150 mph that was achieved in The Autocar’s Road Test is now known to have been with a little “help”), but it was the price that amazed people more than anything else. Whilst out of reach for most people, who could barely afford any new car, it was massively cheaper than contemporary Aston Martins and Ferraris, its market rivals. It was not perfect, though, and over the coming years, Jaguar made constant improvements. A 2+2 model joined the initial range of Roadster and Coupe, and more powerful and larger engines came when the 3.8 litre was enlarged to 4.2 litres, before more significant styling changes came with the 1967 Series 2 and the 1971 Series 3, where new front end treatments and lights were a consequence of legislative demands of the E Type’s most important market, America. There were a couple of examples of the Series 2 here.
Sole Lamborghini here, and one of few supercars was this dramatic-looking Murcielago. Launched in 2001 and taking its name from the Spanish for “bat”, this was Lamborghini’s first new design in eleven years and more importantly, the brand’s first new model under the ownership of German parent company Audi, which was manifest in a much higher level of quality and reliability. The Murcielago was styled by Peruvian-born Belgian Luc Donckerwolke, Lamborghini’s head of design from 1998 to 2005. Initially it was only available as a Coupe. The Murciélago was an all-wheel drive, mid-engined supersports car. With an angular design and an exceptionally low slung body, the highest point of the roof is just under 4 feet above the ground. One of the vehicle’s most distinguishing features are its scissor doors. which lends to the extreme image. First-generation Murciélagos, produced between 2001 and 2006, were powered by a Lamborghini V12 that traces its roots back to the company’s beginnings in the 1960s. The rear differential is integrated with the engine itself, with a viscous coupling centre differential providing drive to the front wheels. Power is delivered through a 6-speed manual transmission. The Murciélago suspension uses an independent double-wishbone design, and bodywork features carbon fibre, steel and aluminium parts. The rear spoiler and the active air intakes integrated into the car’s shoulders are electromechanically controlled, deploying automatically only at high speeds in an effort to maximise both aerodynamic and cooling efficiency. The first generation cars were produced between 2001 and 2006, and known simply as Murciélago, sometimes Murciélago VT. Their V12 engines produced just under 580 PS (572 hp), and powered the car to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.8 seconds. Subsequent versions incorporated an alphanumeric designation to the name Murciélago, which indicated their engine configuration and output. However, the original cars are never referred to as “LP 580s”. The Murciélago Roadster was introduced in 2004. Primarily designed to be an open top car, it employed a manually attached soft roof as cover from adverse weather, but a warning on the windshield header advised the driver not to exceed 100 mph (160 km/h) with the top in place. The designer used the B-2 stealth bomber, the Wally 118 WallyPower yacht, and architect Santiago Calatrava’s Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències in Valencia, Spain as his inspiration for the roadster’s revised rear pillars and engine cover. In March 2006, Lamborghini unveiled a new version of its halo car at the Geneva Motor Show: the Murciélago LP 640. The new title incorporated the car’s name, along with an alphanumeric designation which indicated the engine’s orientation (Longitudinale Posteriore), along with the newly updated power output. With displacement now increased to 6.5 litres, the new car made 640 PS ( 631 hp) at 8000 rpm. The Murciélago’s exterior received a minor facelift. Front and rear details were revised, and side air intakes were now asymmetrical with the left side feeding an oil cooler. A new single outlet exhaust system incorporated into the rear diffuser, modified suspension tuning, revised programming and upgraded clutch for the 6-speed “e-Gear” automated sequential transmission with launch control rounded out the performance modifications. Interior seating was also re-shaped to provide greater headroom, and a new stereo system formed part of the updated dashboard. Optional equipment included Carbon fibre-reinforced Silicon Carbide (C/SiC) ceramic composite brakes, chrome paddle shifters and a glass engine cover. At the 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show, Lamborghini announced that the roadster version of the Murciélago would also be updated to LP 640 status. At the 2009 Geneva Motor Show, Lamborghini unveiled the ultimate version of the Murciélago, the LP 670–4 SuperVeloce. The SV moniker had previously appeared on the Diablo SV, and Miura. SV variants are more extreme and track-oriented, and are released at the end of each model’s production run. The SuperVeloce’s V12 produced 670 PS (661 hp) at 8000 rpm and 660 N·m (490 lbf·ft) of torque at 6500 rpm, thanks to revised valve timing and upgraded intake system. The car’s weight was also reduced by 100 kg (220 lb) through extensive use of carbon fibre inside and out. A new lighter exhaust system was also used. As a result of the extensive weight loss, the SV had a power-to-weight ratio of 429 bhp/ton. Also standard were the LP 640’s optional 15-inch carbon-ceramic disc brakes with 6 piston calipers. The original production plan for the SV was limited to 350 cars, , but in fact only 186 LP 670-4s were produced before the factory had to make room for the new Aventador production line. Numbered cars 1–350 do not represent the order in which cars were manufactured. Only 5-6 were made with manual transmission. Production of the Murciélago ended on November 5, 2010, with a total run of 4,099 cars. Its successor, the Aventador, was released at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show.
Another current model, the RC-F was launched with lots of expectation by Lexus that they had a serious challenger for the BMW M4 and Mercedes C63 AMG Coupe. In reality, the car has barely troubled either, with an initial interest in Europe petering out very quickly after only a few had been sold and even in America, where Lexus sells strongly, it has disappointed in the sales charts.
Sole Lotus model here was a first generation Exige. This was launched in 2000 and was effectively a closed coupe version of the Elise. It was fitted with a naturally aspirated 1.8 litre Rover K Series Inline-four engine in VHPD (Very High Performance Derivative) tune. It produces 177 bhp at 7,800 rpm in standard form. There was also a “track spec” version with 192 bhp available. The car has a five-speed manual gearbox, and a claimed top speed of 219 km/h (136 mph). 0–60 mph was achieved in 4.7 seconds and 0–100 km/h (62 mph) in 4.9 seconds. The first Exige used the round, less aggressive headlights of the first generation Elise, although the Elise was updated soon after the introduction of the Exige. The Series 1 was built until 2002, and 604 examples were made. It was not replaced until the Series 2 of 2004.
The second generation RX7, also known initially as the Series 4, appeared in 1985. Still known as the Mazda Savanna RX-7 in Japan, the new car featured a complete restyling reminiscent of the Porsche 924. Mazda’s stylists, led by Chief Project Engineer Akio Uchiyama, focused on the Porsche 924 for their inspiration in designing the FC because the new car was being styled primarily for the American market, where the majority of first-generation RX-7s had been sold. This strategy was chosen after Uchiyama and others on the design team spent time in the United States studying owners of earlier RX-7s and other sports cars popular in the American market. The Porsche 944 was selling particularly well at the time and provided clues as to what sports-car enthusiasts might find compelling in future RX-7 styling and equipment. While the SA22/FB was a purer sports car, the FC tended toward the softer sport-tourer trends of its day, sharing some similarities with the HB series Cosmo. Handling was much improved, with less of the oversteer tendencies of the FB. The rear end design was vastly improved from the FB’s live rear axle to a more modern, Independent Rear Suspension (rear axle). Steering was more precise, with rack and pinion steering replacing the old recirculating ball steering of the FB. Disc brakes also became standard, with some models (S4: Sport, GXL, GTU, Turbo II, Convertible; S5: GXL, GTUs, Turbo, Convertible) offering four-piston front brakes. The rear seats were optional in some models of the FC RX-7, but are not commonly found in the American Market. Mazda also introduced Dynamic Tracking Suspension System (DTSS) in the 2nd generation RX-7. The revised independent rear suspension incorporated special toe control hubs which were capable of introducing a limited degree of passive rear steering under cornering loads. The DTSS worked by allowing a slight amount of toe-out under normal driving conditions but induced slight toe-in under heavier cornering loads at around 0.5 Gs or more; toe-out in the rear allows for a more responsive rotation of the rear, but toe-in allowed for a more stable rear under heavier cornering. Mazda also introduced Auto Adjusting Suspension (AAS) in the 2nd generation RX-7. The system changed damping characteristics according to the road and driving conditions. The system compensated for camber changes and provided anti-dive and anti-squat effects. The Turbo 2 uses a turbocharger with a twin scroll design. The smaller primary chamber is engineered to cancel the turbo lag at low engine speeds. At higher revolutions, the secondary chamber is opened, pumping out 33% more power than the naturally aspirated counterpart. The Turbo 2 also has an air-to-air intercooler which has a dedicated intake on the bonnet. The intake is slightly offset toward the left side of the bonnet. Though about 800 lb (363 kg) heavier and more isolated than its predecessor, the FC continued to win accolades from the press. The FC RX-7 was Motor Trend’s Import Car of the Year for 1986, and the Turbo II was on Car and Driver magazine’s 10Best list for a second time in 1987. In the Japanese market, only the turbo engine was available; the naturally-aspirated version was allowed only as an export. This can be attributed to insurance companies in many Western nations penalising turbo cars (thus restricting potential sales). This emphasis on containing horsepower and placating insurance companies to make RX-7’s more affordable seems ironic in retrospect. Shortly after the discontinuance of the second generation RX-7s in 1992, an outright horsepower “arms race” broke out between sports car manufacturers, with higher and higher levels of power required to meet buyer demands. This rising horsepower phenomena arose from the US CAFE standards remaining stable while engine technologies marched forward rapidly. Mazda sold 86,000 RX-7s in the US alone in 1986, its first model year, with sales peaking in 1988. Mazda introduced a convertible version of the RX-7 in 1988 which featured a removable rigid section over the passengers and a folding textile rear section with heatable rear glass window. Power operated, lowering the top required unlatching two header catches, power lowering the top, exiting the car (or reaching over to the right side latch), and folding down the rigid section manually. Mazda introduced with the convertible the first integral windblocker, a rigid panel that folded up from behind the passenger seats to block unwanted drafts from reaching the passengers—thereby extending the driving season for the car in open mode. The convertible also featured optional headrest mounted audio speakers and a folding leather snap-fastened tonneau cover. The convertible assembly was precisely engineered and manufactured, and dropped into the ready body assembly as a complete unit—a first in convertible production. Several car magazines at the time lauded the convertible. Production ceasing in 1991 after Mazda marketed a limited run of 500 example for 1992 for the domestic market only. In Japan, the United Kingdom, and other regions outside the US, a turbocharged version of the convertible was available. Mazda introduced the 10th Anniversary RX-7 in 1988 as a limited production run based on the RX-7 Turbo II. Production was limited to 1,500 models. The 10th Anniversary RX-7 features a Crystal White (paint code UC) monochromatic paint scheme with matching white body side mouldings, taillight housings, mirrors and 16-inch alloy 7-spoke wheels. There were two “series” of 10th Anniversary models, with essentially a VIN-split running production change between the two. The most notable difference between the series can be found on the exterior- the earlier “Series I” cars had a black “Mazda” logo decal on the front bumper cover, whereas most if not all “Series II” cars did not have the decal. Series II cars also received the lower seat cushion height/tilt feature that Series I cars lacked. Another distinctive exterior feature is the bright gold rotor-shaped 10th Anniversary Edition badge on the front fenders (yellow-gold on the Series II cars). A distinctive 10th Anniversary package feature is the all black leather interior (code D7), which included not just the seats, but the door panel inserts as well and a leather-wrapped MOMO steering wheel (with 10th Anniversary Edition embossed horn button) and MOMO leather shift knob with integrated boot. All exterior glass is bronze tinted (specific in North America to only the 10th Anniversary), and the windshield was equipped with the embedded secondary antenna also found on some other select models with the upgraded stereo packages. Other 10th Anniversary Edition specific items were headlight washers (the only RX-7 in the US market that got this feature), glass breakage detectors added to the factory alarm system, 10th Anniversary Edition logoed floormats, 10th Anniversary Edition embroidered front hood protector and accompanying front end mask (or “bra”), and an aluminium under pan.
From 1960–1965, the Comet was based on the Ford Falcon platform (stretched 5 in (130 mm) for sedans, but not for wagons). The 1960–1963 Comets share a similar basic shape. These are sometimes referred to as the “round body” Comets. For 1962 and 1963, the Comet shared a considerable number of body and mechanical parts with the short-lived Fairlane-based Mercury Meteor intermediate. The Comet was initially released without any divisional badging, only “Comet” badges, similar to Valiant which didn’t have Plymouth badging at first. It was sold through Mercury-Comet dealers, but would not be branded as a Mercury Comet for two more years. This was similar to Ford’s treatment of the Meteor and Frontenac of Canada, sold thru Meteor – Mercury – Frontenac dealers. Introduced in March 1960, initial body styles were 2-door and 4-door sedans and 2- and 4-door station wagons. Two trim levels were available, standard and “Custom”, with the custom package including badging, additional chrome trim and all-vinyl interiors. In 1960, the only engine available was the 144 cid Thriftpower straight six with a single-barrel Holley carburetor which produced 90 hp at 4200 rpm. (Some sources list it as producing 85 hp at 4200 rpm). Transmission options were a column-shifted 3-speed manual and a 2-speed Merc-O-Matic automatic transmission (unique to the Comet, despite sharing a name with the Merc-O-Matic installed in other Mercurys). Ford had purchased the name “Comet” from Comet Coach Company, a professional car manufacturer in which the term belonged to a line of funeral coaches, mainly Oldsmobiles. The coach company then was renamed Cotner-Bevington. In Canada, for the 1960 model year, Meteor-Mercury dealers sold a compact car called the “Frontenac”. Frontenac was considered a marque in its own right and was a badge-engineered version of the Ford Falcon with only minor trim differences to distinguish it from the Falcon. The Frontenac was produced for only one year. The Comet was introduced to the Canadian market for the 1961 model year and replaced the Frontenac as the compact offering by Meteor-Mercury dealers. In response to complaints about the low performance of the 144 cid engine, a 170 cid straight-six with a single-barrel Holley carburettor producing 101 hp at 4400 rpm was released for the 1961 model year. A new 4-speed manual transmission was also an option (a Dagenham without 1st gear synchromesh). The changes to the 1961 Comet were minimal such as moving the Comet Script from the front fender to the rear quarter as well as a new grille design. The optional S-22 package was released. Available only on the 2-door sedan, it was billed as a “sport” package, although it shared the same mechanicals as regular Comets, with the only changes being S-22 badging, bucket seats and a centre console. Comet was officially made a Mercury model for the 1962 model year, and it received some minor restyling, mainly a redesign of the trunk and taillight area to bring the car more in line with the Mercury look. This is the first year the car carried Mercury badging. The S-22 had six bullet shaped tail lights, while regular Comets had four oval with 2 optional flat reverse lights. A Comet Villager station wagon, basically a Comet Custom 4-door station wagon with simulated woodgrain side panels, was added to the line-up. (The Villager name had previously been used to denote the 4-door steel-sided station wagon in the Edsel Ranger series.) While the 1963 model looked almost identical to the earlier models, the chassis and suspension were redesigned to accommodate an optional 260 cid V8 engine (Borrowed from the Fairlane) using a 2-barrel carburettor and producing 164 hp. Convertible and hardtop (pillar-less) coupe models were added to the Comet Custom and Comet S-22 lines this year. The front ends of these Comets differed from their Falcon counterparts in that they had four headlights instead of two; similar situations would resurface in the late 1970s, with the Ford Thunderbird/Mercury Cougar and the Ford Fairmont/Mercury Zephyr. The 1964 Comet was redesigned with a much more square shape, though it was still built on the same unibody as the 1963 model. Its basic lines were shared with the new Falcon, but the front grille used styling similar to that of the Lincoln Continental. Along with the redesign, the model designations were changed. The performance version was known as the Cyclone, replacing the previous S-22. Then in descending order of trim levels were the Caliente, 404 and 202, replacing the previous Custom and base models. The 2-door station wagon bodystyle was discontinued. The top-of-the-line station wagon continued to be known as the Villager. The base 144 cid six engine was dropped and the 170 cid six became the new base engine. The 260 V8 was available at the beginning of the production run, with the new 289 being available mid-year. Due to the success of the full size Ford and Mercury “fastback” roofline introduced in mid-1963, the Falcon and Comet 2-door hardtops got a similar roofline with sharper corners. For 1964, Ford produced about 50 ultra high performance lightweight Comet Cyclones, equipped with their racing two-carburettor 427 engine, similar to their cousin, the Ford Thunderbolt. To avoid competing with each other, the Thunderbolts ran in super stock on 7-inch (180 mm) tyres, but the Cyclones were modified to run in A/FX on 10-inch tyres, where they were as dominant as the Thunderbolts were in super stock. Drivers included Ronnie Sox, Don Nicholson and Wild Bill Shrewsberry in conjunction with Jack Chrisman. Shrewsberry still owns his original 427 Comet in Caliente trim. For 1965, the Comet received updated styling front and rear (including stacked headlights, similar to what Pontiacs and Cadillacs would use at the same time). The base 6-cylinder engine was increased from 170 cid to 200 cid. Still using a single-barrel carburettor, it produced 120 hp at 4400 rpm. The base 8-cylinder engine was increased from 260 to 289 cid and, using a 2-barrel carburetor, it produced 200 hp at 4400 rpm. The standard transmission continued as a column-shifted 3-speed manual transmission. The optional automatic was changed to a “Merc-O-Matic” 3-speed automatic transmission (essentially a Ford C4 transmission). The 289 V8 was available in three horsepower ratings, base 2-barrel 200 hp, 4-barrel 225 hp and the premier driveline option was the 289 cubic inch, 271 hp high-performance engine and four-speed manual transmission found on the Ford Mustang.
The introduction of the Cougar finally gave Mercury its own “pony car”. Slotted between the Ford Mustang and the Ford Thunderbird, the Cougar was the performance icon and eventually the icon for the Mercury name for several decades. The Cougar was available in two models (base and XR-7) and only came in one body style (a two-door hardtop, no centre or B-pillar). Engine choices ranged from the 200 hp 289 cu in (4.7 L) two-barrel V8 to the 335 hp 390 cu in (6.4 L) four-barrel V8. A performance package called the GT was available on both the base and XR-7 Cougars. This included the 390 cu in (6.4 L) V8, as well as a performance handling package and other performance enhancements. The 1967 Cougar, with the internal code T-7, went on sale 30 September 1966. It was based on the 1967 refreshed first-generation Mustang, but with a 3-in-longer (111 in) wheelbase and new sheet metal. A full-width divided grille with hidden headlamps and vertical bars defined the front fascia—it was sometimes called the electric shaver grille. At the rear, a similar treatment had the license plate surrounded on both sides with vertically slatted grillework concealing tail lights (with sequential turn signals), a styling touch taken from the Thunderbird. A deliberate effort was made to give the car a more “European” flavor than the Mustang, at least to American buyers’ eyes, drawing inspiration from the popular Jaguar E-Type. Aside from the base model and the luxurious XR-7, only one performance package was available for either model: the sporty GT. The XR-7 model brought a simulated wood-grained dashboard with a full set of black-faced competition instruments and toggle switches, an overhead console, a T-type center automatic transmission shifter (if equipped with the optional Merc-O-Matic transmission), and leather-vinyl upholstery. This was the only generation with covered headlights. In 1967 and 1968, they were deployed using a vacuum canister system that opened and closed the headlamp doors. For 1969 and 1970, a redesigned vacuum system kept the doors down when a vacuum condition existed in the lines, provided by the engine when it was running. If a loss of vacuum occurred, the doors would retract up so that the headlights were visible if the system should fail. The GT package included Ford’s 390 cu in (6.4 L) FE-series big block, along with an upgraded suspension to handle the extra weight of the big engine and give better handling, more powerful brakes, better tires, and a low-restriction exhaust system. Introduced with the music of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass’ “The Work Song”, the Cougar was a sales success from its introduction and helped the Lincoln-Mercury Division’s 1967 sales figures substantially. The Cougar was Motor Trend magazine’s car of the year for 1967. The Cougar continued to be a Mustang twin for seven years, and could be optioned as a muscle car. Nevertheless, the focus continued away from performance and toward luxury, evolving it into a plush pony car. The signs were becoming clear as early as 1970, when special options styled by fashion designer Pauline Trigère appeared, a houndstooth-patterned vinyl roof and matching upholstery, available together or separately. A facelift in 1971 did away with the hidden headlights and hidden wipers were adopted. Between 1969 and 1973, Cougar convertibles were offered. The 1968 model year included federally mandated side marker lights and front outboard shoulder belts (sash belt, shoulder harness) among some minor changes. A 210 hp 302 cu in (4.9 L) two-barrel V8 was the base engine on all XR-7s and early standard Cougars. Three new engines were added to the option list this year: the 230 hp 302 cu in (4.9 L), four-barrel V8; the 335 hp 428 cu in (7.0 L), four-barrel V8; and the 390 hp 427 cu in (7.0 L), four-barrel V8. In addition, the 289 cu in (4.7 L) engine was made standard on base cars without the interior decor group midway through the model year. Comfort and performance options available for the Cougar included the “Tilt-Away” steering wheel that swung up and out of the way when the driver’s door was opened, the transmission in “park”, and the ignition was off, and from 1971, a power driver’s seat. The new option appeared in 1968: Ford’s first factory-installed electric sunroof. It was available on any hardtop Cougar, but rarely ordered on early cars. Mercury also made limited versions of Cougar in the performance-market segment. The XR7-G, named for Mercury road racer Dan Gurney, included performance add-ons, such as a hood scoop, Lucas (brand) fog lamps, and hood pins. Engine selection was limited to the 302, 390, and 428 V8s. A total of 619 XR7-Gs were produced, and only 14 Gs were produced with the 428 CJ. The 7.0 L GT-E package was available on both the standard and XR-7 Cougars and came with the 427 V8. The 428 Cobra Jet Ram Air was available in limited numbers on the GT-E beginning 1 April 1968. Conservatively rated at 335 hp at 5200 rpm and 440 lb⋅ft (597 N⋅m) of torque at 3400 rpm, the 428 Cobra Jet could produce more than the 410 hp from the factory. A total of 394 GT-Es were manufactured, 357 with the 427 and 37 with the 428. The GT-E came with power front disc brakes as standard. The third year of production, 1969, brought several new additions to the Cougar lineup. A convertible model was now available in either standard and XR-7 trim. The grille switched from vertical bars to horizontal bars. Tail lights still spanned the entire rear of the car and retained vertical chrome dividers, but were now concave rather than convex. Body sides now featured a prominent line that swept downward from the nose to just ahead of the rear wheels. Vent windows were removed. Performance packages were revised. The GT, XR-7G, and 7.0-L GT-E were discontinued, but the 390 and 428 V8s remained. The 302 engines were dropped, except for the “Boss” version, available only with the Eliminator package. The new standard Cougar engine was a 250-horsepower 351 Windsor. A 290 hp 351 Windsor V8 was also added to the engine lineup. The Eliminator performance package appeared for the first time. A 351 cu in (5.8 L) four-barrel Windsor V8 was standard, with the 390 four-barrel V8, the 428CJ, and the Boss 302 available as options. The Eliminator also featured a blacked-out grille, special side stripes, front and rear spoilers, an optional Ram Air induction system, a full gauge package including tachometer, upgraded “Decor” interior trim, special high-back bucket seats, rally wheels, raised white letter tires, and a performance-tuned suspension and handling package. It also came in vibrant colors, such as white, bright blue metallic, competition orange, and bright yellow. Only two Cougars were produced with the Boss 429 V8 as factory drag cars for “Fast Eddie” Schartman and “Dyno” Don Nicholson. A 1969-only package was the Cougar Sports Special that included unique pin striping, “turbine” style wheel covers, and rocker panel mouldings with simulated side scoops. Décor interior and performance suspension were available for the Sports Special, as were any of the optional Cougar engines, other than the Boss 302. No badges or decals denoted the Sports Special option on either the interior or exterior. For 1970, the Cougar appearance was similar to the 1969 model, but changes were made. A new front end featured a pronounced centre hood extension and electric shaver grille similar to the 1967 and 1968 Cougars. Federally mandated locking steering columns appeared inside, and high-backed bucket seats, similar to those included in the 1969 Eliminator package, became standard on all Cougars. Other changes included revised tail light bezels, new front bumper and front fender extensions, and larger, recessed side markers. The 300 hp 351 “Cleveland” V8 was now more available, having been featured in some 1969 XR7 models. though both the Cleveland and Windsor engines were available as the base model two-barrel engine. The 390 FE engine was now dropped, and the Boss 302 and 428CJ continued. The Eliminator received with new striping, revised colours, and the four-barrel 351 Cleveland replacing the four-barrel 351 Windsor as the standard engine. The upgraded “Décor” interior and styled steel wheels, standard ’69 Eliminator equipment, were moved to the options list for the 1970 Eliminator. No Eliminator convertibles were factory produced in either 1969 or 1970. New options for the 1970 Cougar were interior upholstery and vinyl top in bold houndstooth check patterns. A new model arrived for 1971.
Still showing its UK registation plates was this Austin Mini Cooper. The Mini was sold in America in the early 1960s, but it found few buyers as it was seen as simply too small. A few have been imported more recently.
In 2001, Mitsubishi was forced by the FIA to race in the WRC using WRC rules for building a car instead of the Group A class rules, and thus did not need to follow homologation rules. The Evolution VII was based on the larger Lancer Cedia platform and as a result gained more weight over the Evolution VI, but Mitsubishi made up for this with multiple important chassis tweaks. The biggest change was the addition of an active center differential and a more effective limited-slip differential, while a front helical limited-slip differential was added. Torque was increased again to 385 Nm (284 lb/ft) with engine tweaks that allowed greater airflow, and horsepower officially remained at 280 PS (276 bhp). The introduction of the Evolution VII also marked the first time an automatic drivetrain was included within the model lineup—the GT-A. Seen as the ‘gentleman’s express’ version of the visually similar VII GSR and the RS2, the GT-A model was only produced in 2002 and had the following distinguishing interior and exterior specification: GT-A-only diamond cut finish 17-inch alloy wheels, clear rear light lenses and all-in-one style front headlights (later used on the Evolution VIII). The GT-A had the option of either no spoiler, the short spoiler (as per the Lancer Cedia; and later used on the Evolution VIII 260) or the thunderspoiler as used on the standard Evolution VII models. The most distinguishing feature was a smooth bonnet with no air-grills on it at all and the revised front bumper. Although offering inferior cooling capabilities, the bonnet was designed to give a cleaner line through the air with less air resistance at motorway speeds. Interior could be specified with factory options of a deluxe velour interior, full leather or the Recaro sports seats. The GT-A interior was different in that it had chromed door handles, a different instrument panel (to show the gear selection) and chrome edged bezels around the speedo and tach. The GT-A also had additional sound deadening installed from the factory and the engine manifold and downpipe had been engineered to be quieter. The 5-speed automatic gearbox had what Mitsubishi called “fuzzy logic”, which meant that the car would learn what the driver’s driving characteristics were like and would adapt the gear change timings and kick down reactions accordingly. The gears could be manually selected as with most Tiptronics via steering wheel + and – buttons (a pair both sides) or via selecting the tiptronic gate with the gear lever. Power was down a little from the standard manual cars with 272 PS. The GT-A gearbox did not appear again in the Evolution VIII but has been installed in the estate version of the Evolution IX Wagon. It was replaced by the Twin Clutch SST gearbox since the introduction of Evolution X. There were three versions: RS – “rally sport”, close-ratio 5-speed, minimal interior, rally suspension, LSD, (Enkei Wheels, Recaro bucket seat, AYC (Active Yaw Control), Sports ABS (Anti-Lock braking system), Brembo brakes, double-din audio, power window are available as option); GSR – 5-speed, gauge pack, AYC (Active Yaw Control), Sports ABS, Recaro front bucket and rear seat, double-din audio, power window, Brembo brakes, Momo sports steering wheel; GT-A – Same option with GSR with 5-speed automatic transmission, gauge pack, deluxe velour interior, full leather or the Recaro sports seats, GT-A-only diamond cut finish 17-inch (430 mm) alloy wheels, clear rear light lenses and all-in-one style front headlights, and short spoiler option. The Evo VIII took its place in August 2003.
It was quite a surprise to see the evergreen Morris Minor here. The Minor was conceived in 1941. Although the Nuffield Organization was heavily involved in war work and there was a governmental ban on civilian car production, Morris Motors’ vice chairman, Miles Thomas, wanted to prepare the ground for new products to be launched as soon as the war was over. Vic Oak, the company’s chief engineer, had already brought to Thomas’ attention a promising junior engineer, Alec Issigonis, who had been employed at Morris since 1935 and specialised in suspension design but he had frequently impressed Oak with his advanced ideas about car design in general. Issigonis had come to Oak’s particular attention with his work on the new Morris Ten, which was in development during 1936/7. This was the first Morris to use unitary construction and was conceived with independent front suspension. Issigonis designed a coil-sprung wishbone system which was later dropped on cost grounds. Although the design would later be used on the MG Y-type and many other post-war MGs the Morris Ten entered production with a front beam axle. Despite his brief being to focus on the Ten’s suspension Issigonis had also drawn up a rack and pinion steering system for the car. Like his suspension design this was not adopted but would resurface in the post-war years on the MG Y-type, but these ideas proved that he was the perfect candidate to lead the design work on a new advanced small car. With virtually all resources required for the war effort, Thomas nonetheless approved the development of a new small family car that would replace the Morris Eight. Although Oak (and Morris’ technical director, Sidney Smith) were in overall charge of the project it was Issigonis who was ultimately responsible for the design, working with only two other draughtsmen. Thomas named the project ‘Mosquito’ and ensured that it remained as secret as possible, both from the Ministry of Supply and from company founder William Morris (now Lord Nuffield), who was still chairman of Morris Motors and, it was widely expected, would not look favourably on Issigonis’ radical ideas. Issigonis’ overall concept was to produce a practical, economical and affordable car for the general public that would equal, if not surpass, the convenience and design quality of a more expensive car. In later years he summed up his approach to the Minor; that he wanted to design an economy car that “the average man would take pleasure in owning, rather than feeling of it as something he’d been sentenced to” and “people who drive small cars are the same size as those who drive large cars and they should not be expected to put up with claustrophobic interiors.” Issigonis wanted the car to be as spacious as possible for its size and comfortable to drive for inexperienced motorists. Just as he would with the Mini ten years later, he designed the Mosquito with excellent roadholding and accurate, quick steering not with any pretence of making a sports car, but to make it safe and easy to drive by all. As work proceeded, there were plenty of battle to overcome, to get Issigonis’ ideas approved, and not all of them were. The production car, called the Minor was launched at the British Motor Show at Earls Court in London on October 27, 1948. At the same show Morris also launched the new Morris Oxford and Morris Six models, plus Wolseley variants of both cars, which were scaled-up versions of the new Minor, incorporating all the same features and designed with Issigonis’ input under Vic Oak’s supervision. Thus Issigonis’ ideas and design principles underpinned the complete post-war Morris and Wolseley car ranges. The original Minor MM series was produced from 1948 until 1953. It included a pair of four-seat saloons, two-door and (from 1950) a four-door, and a convertible four-seat Tourer. The front torsion bar suspension was shared with the larger Morris Oxford MO, as was the almost-unibody construction. Although the Minor was originally designed to accept a flat-4 engine, late in the development stage it was replaced by a 918 cc side-valve inline-four engine, little changed from that fitted in the 1935 Morris 8, and producing 27.5 hp and 39 lbf·ft of torque. This little engine pushed the Minor to just 64 mph but delivered 40 mpg. Brakes were four-wheel drums. Early cars had a painted section in the centre of the bumpers to cover the widening of the production car from the prototypes. This widening of 4 inches is also visible in the creases in the bonnet. Exports to the United States began in 1949 with the headlamps removed from within the grille surround to be mounted higher on the wings to meet local safety requirements. In 1950 a four-door version was released, initially available only for export, and featuring from the start the headlamps faired into the wings rather than set lower down on either side of the grille. The raised headlight position became standard on all Minors in time for 1951. From the start, the Minor had semaphore-type turn indicators, and subsequent Minor versions persisted with these until 1961 An Autocar magazine road test in 1950 reported that these were “not of the usual self-cancelling type, but incorporate[d] a time-basis return mechanism in a switch below the facia, in front of the driver”. It was all too easy for a passenger hurriedly emerging from the front passenger seat to collide with and snap off a tardy indicator “flipper” that was still sticking out of the B-pillar, having not yet been safely returned by the time-basis return mechanism to its folded position. Another innovation towards the end of 1950 was a water pump (replacing a gravity dependent system), which permitted the manufacturer to offer an interior heater “as optional equipment”. When production of the first series ended, just over a quarter of a million had been sold, 30 per cent of them the convertible Tourer model. In 1952, the Minor line was updated with an Austin-designed 803 cc overhead valve A-series engine, replacing the original side-valve unit. The engine had been designed for the Minor’s main competition, the Austin A30, but became available as Austin and Morris were merged into the British Motor Corporation. The new engine felt stronger, though all measurements were smaller than the old. The 52 second drive to 60 mph was still calm, with 63 mph as the top speed. Fuel consumption also rose to 36 mpg. An estate version was introduced in 1952, known as the Traveller (a Morris naming tradition for estates, also seen on the Mini). The Traveller featured an external structural ash (wood) frame for the rear bodywork, with two side-hinged rear doors. The frame was varnished rather than painted and a highly visible feature of the body style. Commercial models, marketed as the Morris Quarter Ton Van and Pick-up were added in May 1953. Rear bodies of the van versions were all steel. The 4-seat convertible and saloon variants continued as well. The car was again updated in 1956 when the engine was increased in capacity to 948 cc. The two-piece split windscreen was replaced with a curved one-piece one and the rear window was enlarged. In 1961 the semaphore-style trafficators were replaced by the flashing direction indicators, these were US-style red at the rear (using the same bulb filament as the brake lamp) and white at the front (using a second brighter filament in the parking lamp bulb) which was legal in the UK and many export markets at the time (such as New Zealand). An upmarket car based on the Minor floorpan using the larger BMC B-Series engine was sold as the Riley One-Point-Five/Wolseley 1500 beginning in 1957: versions of this Wolseley/Riley variant were also produced by BMC Australia as the Morris Major and the Austin Lancer. In December 1960 the Morris Minor became the first British car to sell more than 1,000,000 units. To commemorate the achievement, a limited edition of 350 two-door Minor saloons (one for each UK Morris dealership) was produced with distinctive lilac paintwork and a white interior. Also the badge name on the side of the bonnet was modified to read “Minor 1,000,000” instead of the standard “Minor 1000”. The millionth Minor was donated to the National Union of Journalists, who planned to use it as a prize in a competition in aid of the union’s Widow and Orphan Fund. The company, at the same time, presented a celebratory Minor to London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, but this car was constructed of cake. The final major upgrades to the Minor were made in 1962. Although the name Minor 1000 was retained, the changes were sufficient for the new model to be given its own ADO development number. A larger version of the existing A-Series engine had been developed in conjunction with cylinder head specialist Harry Weslake for the then new ADO16 Austin/Morris 1100 range. This new engine used a taller block than did the 948 cc unit, with increased bore and stroke bringing total capacity up to 1,098 cc. Although fuel consumption suffered moderately at 38 mpg, the Minor’s top speed increased to 77 mph with noticeable improvements in low-end torque, giving an altogether more responsive drive. Other changes included a modified dashboard layout with toggle switches, textured steel instrument binnacle, and larger convex glove box covers. A different heater completed the interior upgrade, whilst the larger combined front side/indicator light units, common to many BMC vehicles of the time, were fitted to the front wings. These now included a separate bulb and amber lens for indicators while larger tail lamp units also included amber rear flashers. During the life of the Minor 1000 model, production declined. The last Convertible/Tourer was manufactured on 18 August 1969, and the saloon models were discontinued the following year. Production of the more practical Traveller and commercial versions ceased in 1972, although examples of all models were still theoretically available from dealers with a surplus of unsold cars for a short time afterwards. 1,619,857 Minors of all variants were ultimately sold.
Although not many of the Datsun 240Z were sold in the UK, or indeed Europe, this car proved phenomenally popular in the US, and was really the beginning of the end for the British sports cars which American buyers had been buying in large quantities throughout the 1960s, so it was no surprise to find a couple of them here. Known internally as the Nissan S30, and sold in Japan as the Nissan Fairlady Z, the car we call the the Datsun 240Z, and the later 260Z and 280Z was the first generation of Z GT two-seat coupe, produced by Nissan from 1969 to 1978. It was designed by a team led by Yoshihiko Matsuo, the head of Nissan’s Sports Car Styling Studio. With strong performance from the 2.4 litre engine, and excellent ride and handling from the four-wheel independent suspension, the car was good to drive, In the United States, Datsun priced the 240Z within $200 of the MGB-GT, and dealers soon had long waiting lists for the “Z”. Its modern design, relatively low price, and growing dealer network compared to other imported sports cars of the time (Jaguar, BMW, Porsche, etc.), made it a major success for the Nissan Motor Corporation, which at the time sold cars in North America under the name Datsun. As a “halo” car, the 240Z broadened the image of Japanese car-makers beyond their econobox success. The car was updated to the 260Z in 1975, when a larger 2.6 litre engine was used.
After the ever softer evolution of the Z car, Nissan reversed the trend with the Z31 model, known as the 300ZX, introduced in late 1983. Designed by Kazumasu Takagi and his team of developers, the 300ZX had improved aerodynamics and increased power when compared to its predecessor, with a drag coefficient of 0.30. It was powered by Japan’s first mass-produced V6 engine instead of an inline 6. According to Nissan, the V6 engine was supposed to re-create the spirit of the original Fairlady 240Z. The Z31 generation featured five engine options, including a pair of 2 litre V6 units which were never available in Europe. Cars sold in the UK all had the 3.0 litre V6 unit. which made 240 hp in turbo form due to a better camshaft profile, also known outside of Europe as the Nismo camshafts. All European turbocharged models received a different front lower spoiler as well, with 84-86 models being unique and 87-89 production having the same spoiler as the USDM 1988 “SS” model. The Z31 body was slightly restyled in 1986 with the addition of side skirts, flared fenders, and sixteen inch wheels (turbo models only). Many black plastic trim pieces were also painted to match the body colour, and the bonnet scoop was removed. The car was given a final makeover in 1987 that included more aerodynamic bumpers, fog lamps within the front air dam, and 9004 bulb-based headlamps that replaced the outdated sealed beam headlights. The 300ZX-titled reflector in the rear was updated to a narrow set of tail lights running the entire width of the car and an LED third brake light on top of the rear hatch. The Z31 continued selling until 1989, more than any other Z-Car at the time. Over 70,000 units were sold in 1985. Cars produced from 1984-1985 are referred to as “Zenki” models, while cars produced from 1987-1989 are known as “Kouki” models. The 1986 models are a special due to sharing some major features from both. They are sometimes referred to as “Chuki” models, but are usually grouped with the Zenki models because of the head and tail lights.
The Nissan C22 was modified for the United States market to compete with the similar sized Toyota Van and Mitsubishi Van, and to join the growing minivan market in the US. This van was sold as the “Nissan Van” in the US from 1986–1989, where it was billed as a cheaper alternative to Chrysler’s minivans. Most of the vans were sold in the Sun Belt states, particularly California, Texas, and Florida, and sales were strongest for the first two years. Nissan had to engineer its larger 2.4 litre Z24i engine into the C22 to handle American market requirements which included air conditioning and highway driving. The C22 was not originally designed for such a large engine, and the resulting tight quarters would later contribute to overheating and engine fire issues. In 1994, after four safety recalls did not end the engine fire problems, and with a class action lawsuit pending, Nissan took the unprecedented step of recalling every Nissan Van sold in the US. Van owners were offered Kelly Blue Book value or more for their van, and most accepted, but a few opted to keep their vans. Critics argued that Nissan had been long aware of the problems with the vans (the first reports of fires appeared in 1987, shortly after they went on sale in the US), but did not take action for years, after which they had been replaced by the Nissan Quest. By the time of the recall in 1994, at least 135 fires had been reported, although none of them had resulted in deaths or injuries. The class-action settlement offered discounts on the purchase of a new Nissan vehicle. The vehicles which were recalled were crushed en masse. The Nissan Van was intended mainly as a stopgap for the North American market until a proper minivan could be introduced, and it was replaced by the Nissan Quest in 1993, a vehicle designed in a joint venture with Ford.
Introduced in January 1961 as a convertible, the Starfire was separated into its own model line and shared its body and wheelbase with the Super 88 and the lower-priced Dynamic 88. It was loaded with standard equipment including leather bucket seats, centre console with tachometer and floor shifter for the Hydra-matic transmission, and was the first U.S. full-sized production car to feature an automatic transmission with a console-mounted floor shifter, brushed aluminium side panels and power steering, brakes, windows and driver’s seat. With a base price of $4,647 in 1961, it was the most expensive Oldsmobile, even more than the larger Ninety-Eight models. The standard 394 cubic inch V-8 Skyrocket V8 engine – Oldsmobile’s most powerful in 1961 – used a 4-barrel Rochester carburetor and generated 330 hp at 4600 rpm. Sales of the 1961 model were 1,500. For the 1962 model year, the convertible was joined by a two-door hardtop, which featured a new convertible-styled roofline shared with other Oldsmobile 88 coupes. Horsepower was increased to 345 hp. 1962 was the best sales year for this generation Starfire, with sales of the hardtop coupe being 34,839 and sales of the convertible being 7,149. Styling changes for the 1963 model year included a move away from the sculpted sides of the previous years model, to a flatter, more conventional look with an exclusive squared off roofline that included a concave rear window. Sales of the coupe were down to 21,489 and the convertible was down to 4,401, a drop of 38%, probably due to intense competition from Buick’s all-new Riviera, which was in the same price range as the Starfire but had its own unique bodyshell. The Pontiac Grand Prix was also restyled for 1963 with a similar squared-off roof, which no doubt stole some sales from Oldsmobile showrooms. The 1964 model appeared very similar to the 1963. Curb weight was down, but overall length was up to 215.3 inches (5,468.6 mm). Sales dropped further, to 13,753 coupes (down 36%) and 2,410 convertibles (down 45%). The Starfire now shared its basic bodyshell with the new and lower-priced Jetstar I hardtop coupe which competed directly against the Pontiac Grand Prix. The Jetstar also used the Starfire’s 345 hp 394 cu in (6.5 l) “Ultra High Compression” Rocket V8, but had a pricetag that was over $500 lower than the Starfire due to the use of a vinyl bucket seat interior and the fact that many Starfire standard features were optional on the Jetstar including Hydra-Matic transmission, power steering and brakes. Front seat belts were now standard. For the 1965 model year, all Oldsmobiles would receive new styling, and the Starfire Coupe would receive a modified version of the 1963–1964 unique roofline with an inversely curved rear window. The Hardtop Sports Coupe body-style was again shared with the Jetstar I. Other 88 models adopted a Holiday Hardtop Coupe body-style that featured more of a fastback roof design, while the Ninety-Eight featured a more squared-off formal roof-line. A new version of the Rocket V8 engine was offered for the 1965 model year, this one measuring 425 cu in (7.0 l) displacement, still using a Rochester 4-barrel carburetor, and generating 375 hp at 4800 rpm. This was still the most powerful engine in the Oldsmobile lineup and used only in the Starfire and the Jetstar I. Also new for 1965 was the three-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic automatic transmission which replaced the previous fluid-coupling Hydra-Matic used by Oldsmobile since 1940. Added to the option list for the first time on Starfires and other B-body cars was a four-speed manual transmission with Hurst shifter that was rarely ordered. 1965 sales were 13,024 for the coupe and 2,236 for the convertible. In 1966 the all-new, front-wheel drive Toronado took the crown from the Starfire as Oldsmobile’s premier personal luxury car and most expensive model. Only the Starfire Coupe was offered, as the convertible was discontinued for this final year for the nameplate as a full-sized sporty/luxury coupe. The Starfire was moved downmarket and priced like the former Jetstar I. Equipment level dropped considerably from previous years, with a less plush interior thanks to the leather seats being replaced by Morroceen vinyl for both the Strato bucket seats or no-cost optional notchback bench seat, and no longer standard power windows and power seats. The Turbo Hydra-Matic transmission, power steering and power brakes also went to the optional equipment list; all were standard on Toronado. While the 425 cu.in. V8 still produced 375 hp, the Starfire no longer had the most powerful engine offered for sale in an Oldsmobile. Here the Starfire was again upstaged by the Toronado, which had a similar engine offering 385 hp. Sales of the 1966 Starfire Coupe were 13,019. For 1967 the Starfire was discontinued, and in its place Oldsmobile offered a new upmarket version of the Delta 88, the Delta 88 Custom. At a $3522 base price, nearly unchanged from the 1966 Starfire, it had similar interior trimmings and even carried the trademark brushed side trim with faux vents on the front fender. The two-door Holiday Coupe hardtop was complemented by a four-door Holiday Sedan, with the notchback bench seat. Later full-sized Oldsmobile coupes to carry on the Starfire tradition included the 1969–1970 Delta 88 Royale and 1978–1981 Delta 88 Holiday Coupe.
Disappointing sales of the compact F-85, along with the introduction of Ford Motor Company’s intermediate Fairlane in 1962, prompted GM to enlarge the senior compacts for the 1964 model year. The new intermediate F-85 now rode a conventional body-on-frame chassis with a perimeter frame which it shared with the newly-introduced “A-body” Chevrolet Chevelle, and upgraded Buick Special and Pontiac Tempest. Wheelbase grew to 115 inches, overall length to 203 inches, and weight by more than 300 pounds (140 kg). Both the aluminum V8 and the Roto Hydramatic were discontinued in favour of a new cast-iron small-block V8 of 330 cu in (5.4 L) displacement and an optional two-speed Jetaway automatic transmission with variable-pitch stator. Buick’s 225 cu in (3.7 L) V6 was the standard engine. The body styles of the previous model returned, and a new Vista Cruiser, a stretched-wheelbase (120 inches) version of the standard station wagon featuring a raised rear roof with tinted skylights and a fold-down, forward-facing third seat, debuted on February 4, 1964. The 4-4-2 model, derived from the BO-9 police package, was also introduced in March 1964 (costing $285.14 in 1964), as an answer to the new intermediate muscle car market created by the Pontiac GTO that same year. Sales increased to 167,002 for 1964, not counting Vista Cruisers. For 1965 a modest facelift increased overall length to 204.3 inches (5,190 mm) while the front end received a “dumbbell-style” grille similar to full-sized Olds models. A bigger 400 cu in (6.6 L) engine was included with the 4-4-2 option, based on the newly introduced 425 cu in (6.9 L) engine from the full-sized Oldsmobiles while the Buick 225 V6 and Olds 330 Jetfire Rocket V8 were carried over from the previous year, with increased power ratings for the V8 options. Sales increased again to 187,097. The year 1965 was the first for Oldsmobile’s “Rocket” logo that would last, with minor variations, until the 1990s. The 1966 models were slightly restyled again, with body lines similar to the full-sized 88, and semi-fastback rooflines with extended sail panels and tunneled rear windows on Sport (pillared) and Holiday (hardtop) coupes. The Buick V6 was replaced on base models by an Oldsmobile-badged “Action-Line 6” version of Chevrolet’s 250 cu in (4.1 L) “Turbo-Thrift” straight-6 engine, while the 330 cu in (5.4 L) Jetfire Rocket V8 continued with power ratings of 250 and 320 hp. New that year was the Cutlass Supreme four-door hardtop sedan also dubbed the Holiday Sedan by Oldsmobile, the first such body style for Olds’ intermediate line. Changes for 1967 included the availability of optional disc brakes and the three-speed Turbo-Hydramatic to supplement the two-speed Jetaway. A new option was the Turnpike Cruiser package on Cutlass Supreme coupes and convertibles, which used a two-barrel carburetor and mild camshaft with the 400 cu in (6.6 L) engine and a (numerically) low axle ratio for efficient and relatively economical freeway cruising. The Turnpike Cruiser used the heavy-duty suspension of the 4-4-2, and was available only with a Turbo-Hydramatic. A new generation model arrived for 1968.
The Oldsmobile 4-4-2 (also known as the 442) is a muscle car produced between the 1964 and 1987 model years. Introduced as an option package for US-sold F-85 and Cutlass models, it became a model in its own right from 1968 to 1971, spawned the Hurst/Olds in 1968, then reverted to an option through the mid-1970s. The name was revived in the 1980s on the rear-wheel drive Cutlass Supreme and early 1990s as an option package for the new front-wheel drive Cutlass Calais. The “4-4-2” name (pronounced “Four-four-two”) derives from the original car’s four-barrel carburettor, four-speed manual transmission, and dual exhausts (Some maintain that the ‘2’ indicated positive traction rear differential). It was originally written “4-4-2” (with badging showing hyphens between the numerals) and remained hyphenated throughout Oldsmobile’s use of the designation. This is a second generation car, which ran from 1968 to 1973, with the 4-4-2 a separate model from 1968 through 1971. The wheelbase was 112 in and over 33,000 were sold for 1968. Despite the engine displacement staying at 400 CID, the engine was based on the new 455 cranktrain (4.25 stroke) and the bore decreased (to 3.87). Torque now came at 3000–3200 rpm as opposed to the early 400’s 3600 rpm peak, mostly due to a milder base cam grind. Car Life tested a 1968 4-4-2 with a 3.42:1 rear axle ratio and Hydramatic and attained 0–60 times of 7.0 seconds, and a quarter-mile time of 15.13 seconds at 92 mph. Top speed was reported as 115 mph. The base motor was still rated at 350 hp, but only with the standard three-speed and optional four-speed; automatics were rated at 325 hp. W-30s were rated again at 360 hp. Car Life also tested a four-speed W-30 with 4.33 rearend gears and recorded a 13.3 at 103.30 mph, which shows the long stroke did not affect actual performance although long term durability at high (6000 plus) engine speeds might be affected. All standard 1968 4-4-2 engines are painted a bronze–copper color, as with the 1967s, topped with a fire-red air cleaner. W-30 option cars were equipped with Ram Air intake hoses leading from a chrome-topped dual snorkel black air cleaner to special under-bumper air scoops and set off by bright red plastic fender wells. In addition, a Turnpike Cruiser option was made available with a two-barrel carburettor; this was previously available on the Cutlass Supreme for 1967. 1968 was the first year for side marker lights and front outboard shoulder belts, and the last year for vent windows on hardtops and convertibles. 4-4-2s for ’68 had unique rear bumpers, with exhaust cutouts and special exhaust tips.1969 4-4-2s were very similar to the 1968 except the division tooth between the grilles, the trunk lid inlets for the tail lights, wing windows deleted on Holiday Coupes and convertibles, steering lock ignition switch on the steering column, standard headrests were added to the front seats, and the paint scheme. Twin hood stripes were now available to highlight the new dual-bulged hood. The 4-4-2 numerals grew to nearly double their previous size. Optional disc brakes now had updated single-piston calipers. The exhaust manifolds featured a new centre divider for better performance. Other changes to the engine were minimal, but the Turnpike Cruiser option was deleted. However, another high-performance engine was offered. Called the W-32, it came with the Forced Air Induction plumbing found on the W-30s, but it had a milder cam like the base engine. It was only available with an automatic, and 297 were built, including 25 sport coupes and convertibles each. 1970 was the pinnacle of performance from Oldsmobile. In order to keep up in the horsepower arms-race, General Motors dropped the cap on engine size in 1970, and Oldsmobile responded by making the Olds 455 V8 the standard 4-4-2 engine. Output was 365 hp and 500 lb/ft (680 Nm), with a 370 hp variant available with the W30 option. The revised body style and increased performance resulted in the 4-4-2 being awarded pace car duties at the Indianapolis 500 race in 1970. Those seeking to experience the ultimate in performance from Lansing could order a “W-Machine” version of the 4-4-2, dubbed the W-30 package. The 4-4-2 W-30 added a fibreglass hood (option W25) with functional air scoops and low-restriction air cleaner, aluminium intake manifold, special camshaft, cylinder heads, distributor, and carburettor. Two W-30 equipped 4-4-2 Vista Cruisers were produced by special order. Rear shoulder seat belts were optional at $23. 1970 model year spotting tips: vertical bars in silver grille, rectangular parking lights in front bumper, vertical tail lights. Despite storm clouds on the muscle car horizon, the 4-4-2 returned in 1971 with only minor modifications from the previous year. Engine output was down for 1971 due to a lower compression ratio (8.5:1), which affected all of GM’s engines as the result of a corporate policy requiring engines to run on lower-octane regular leaded, low lead, or unleaded gasoline, in preparation for the introduction of the catalytic converter on 1975-model cars. The base 455 was rated at 340 hp, with the W-30 achieving a rating of 350 hp. The W-27 option was downgraded to an aluminium cover for the cast iron differential housing. The 1971 4-4-2 was available in a hardtop coupe and convertible body type. The sport coupe disappeared for the first time since 1964, only to return in 1972. 1971 Model Year Spotting Tips: Black grille with silver surround, silver headlight bezels, round parking lights in front bumper, horizontal tail lights. Quarter mile performance as reported by Road Test magazine was 15.2 seconds at 99 mph, and 0–60 in 8.9 seconds, using the TH400 automatic transmission. By 1972, the muscle car era was unmistakably in decline due to the twin blows of rising insurance rates and soaring gas prices. The 4-4-2 name reverted to an appearance and handling option package (option code W-29) in 1972 on the Cutlass Holiday coupe, Cutlass S sport coupe and Holiday coupe, and Cutlass Supreme convertible. The W-29 option was not available on Cutlass Supreme notchback hardtops. The 4-4-2 option package, which carried a modest sticker price of $29, consisted of the “FE2” suspension upgrades (heavy duty springs & shocks, front and rear sway bars, boxed lower rear control arms, and 14- by 7-in wheels), side striping, fender and decklid badging, faux hood louvers, and a unique grille. The rear bumper sported cutouts for exhaust tips, but only when paired with the optional L75 455 CID V8 in place of the standard Oldsmobile 350 V8. Interior trims differed on each bodystyle for which the 4-4-2 option was offered, much like the early 1964–66 models. For the base Cutlass hardtop coupe, a baseline two-spoke steering wheel, and vinyl or cloth/vinyl bench seat was standard along with rubber floor mats (carpeting was optional); Cutlass S sport coupe and Holiday hardtop coupe featured full carpeting, deluxe steering wheel, courtesy lighting, and bench seats with cloth-and-vinyl or all-vinyl upholstery or optional Strato bucket seats; and the Cutlass Supreme convertible came with more woodgrain interior accents than the “S” along with an all-vinyl notchback bench seat with armrest or no-cost Strato bucket seats, between which a centre console was an extra-cost option. An AM/FM stereo radio with a tape player was $363. An all new model arrived for 1973.
This 1969 Roadrunner dates from the height of the Muscle Car era. Plymouth launched the Roadrunner in 1968, keen to capitalise on the growing enthusiasm for this type of car. Although Plymouth already had a performance car in the GTX, it wanted to reincarnate the original muscle car concept in a car able to run 14-second quarter mile times and sell for less than US$3000. Both goals were met, and the Road Runner would outsell the upscale GTX. Paying $50,000 to Warner Bros.-Seven Arts to use the name and likeness of their Road Runner cartoon character (as well as a “beep, beep” horn, which Plymouth paid $10,000 to develop), and using the Chrysler B platform as a base (the same as the Belvedere), Plymouth set out to build a back-to-basics mid-size performance car. Everything essential to performance and handling was beefed-up and improved; everything non-essential was left out. The interior was spartan with a basic vinyl bench seat, lacking even carpets in early models, and few options were available – just the basics such as power steering and front disc brakes, AM radio, air conditioning (except with the 426 Hemi) and automatic transmission. A floor-mounted gearlever featured only a rubber boot and no console so that a bench seat could be used. The earliest of the 1968 models were available only as 2-door pillared coupes (with a B-pillar between the front and rear windows), but later in the model year a 2-door “hardtop” model (sans pillar) was offered. The Road Runner of 1968-1970 was based on the Belvedere, while the GTX was based on the Sport Satellite, a car with higher level trim and slight differences in the grilles and taillights. The standard engine was an exclusive-to-the-Road Runner 6.3 litre V8 rated at 335 bhp and 425 lb·ft of torque. Its extra 5 hp rating was the result of using the radical cam from the 440 Super Commando and a .25 raise in compression to 10.5:1 (vs. 10.25:1 with the 330 hp 383). When air conditioning was ordered, the cars received the 330 hp version, as the radical cam specs of the 335 bhp version didn’t create enough vacuum to accommodate a/c; and there were concerns of over-revving which would destroy the RV-2 compressor. For an extra $714, Plymouth would install a 426 CID Hemi rated at 425 bhp and 490 lb·ft of torque. Combined with low weight, the 6-passenger Road Runner could run the 1/4 mile in 13.5 seconds at 105 mph (169 km/h). It would prove to be one of the best engines of the muscle car era, and the Road Runner one of the best platforms to utilise it. The standard equipment transmission was a 4-speed manual with floor change and Chrysler’s three-speed TorqueFlite automatic was optional. Early four-speed ’68 Road Runners featured Inland shifters, which were replaced by the more precise Hurst shifters during the course of the model year. Plymouth expected to sell 20,000 units in the first year but actually shifted 45,000 of the cars. It was updated for 1969 and then 1970 brought new front and rear end looks to the basic 1968 body, and it would prove to be another success. Updates included a new grille, a cloth & vinyl bench seat, hood, front fenders, quarter panels, single-piston Kelsey-Hayes disc brakes (improved from the rather small-rotor Bendix 4 piston calipers of ’68 – ’69 ), and even non-functional scoops in the rear quarters. The design and functionality of the Air Grabber option was changed this year to increase both efficiency and the “intimidation factor”. A switch below the dash actuated a vacuum servo to slowly raise the forward-facing scoop, exposing shark-like teeth on either side. “High Impact” colours, with names like In-Violet, Moulin Rouge, and Vitamin C, were options available for that year. The engine lineup was left unchanged although a heavy-duty three-speed manual became the standard transmission, relegating the four-speed to the option list along with the TorqueFlite automatic. This was to be the second and last year of the Road Runner convertible, with only 834 made. These cars are considered more valuable than the 1969 version due to a better dash, high impact colours and more options including the new high-back bucket seats shared with other Chrysler products which featured built-in headrests. The 440 Six Barrel remained an option for 1970. The 1969 “M” Code Edelbrock aluminium intake was replaced by a factory-produced cast iron piece; however there were some early cars built prior to January 1, 1970 that were equipped with the left over aluminium Edelbrock intake from the year prior. Sales of the ’70 Road Runner dropped by more than 50 percent over the previous year to around 41,000 units (about 1,000 ahead of Pontiac’s GTO but still about 13,000 units behind Chevy’s Chevelle SS-396/454). This would also be the last year of the Road Runner convertible with 834 total production. Only 3 Hemi (R) code Road Runner convertibles were built (plus 1 to CANADA). The declining sales of Road Runner and other muscle cars were the result of a move by insurance companies to add surcharges for muscle car policies – making insurance premiums for high-performance vehicles a very expensive proposition. Also, Plymouth introduced another bargain-basement muscle car for 1970, the compact Duster 340 which was powered by a 275 hp 340 4BBL V8 which in the lighter-weight compact A-body could perform as well if not better than a 383 Road Runner. Furthermore, the Duster 340 was priced even lower than the Road Runner and its smaller engine qualified it for much lower insurance rates.
This GTO Convertible is from the second generation of model to bear the iconic name, General Motors redesigned its A-body line for 1968, with more curvaceous, semi-fastback styling. The wheelbase was shortened to 112.0 in on all two-door models. Overall length was reduced 5.9 inches and height dropped half an inch, but overall weight was up about 75 lb (34 kg). Pontiac abandoned the familiar vertically stacked headlights in favor of a horizontal layout, but made hidden headlights available at extra cost. The concealed headlights were a popular option. The signature hood scoop was replaced by dual scoops on either side of a prominent hood bulge extending rearward from the protruding nose. A unique feature was the body-color Endura front bumper. It was designed to absorb impact without permanent deformation at low speeds. Pontiac touted this feature heavily in advertising, showing hammering at the bumper to no discernible effect. A GTO could be ordered with “Endura delete”, in which case the Endura bumper would be replaced by a chrome front bumper and grille from the Pontiac LeMans. Powertrain options remained substantially the same as in 1967, but the standard GTO engine’s power rating rose to 350 hp at 5,000 rpm. At mid-year, a new Ram Air package, known as Ram Air II, became available. It included freer-breathing cylinder heads, round port exhaust, and the 041 cam. The ‘official’ power rating was not changed. Another carry-over from 1967 was the four-piston caliper disc brake option. However, most 1968 models had drum brakes all around as this seldom ordered option provided greater stopping power. The 1968 model year was also the last year the GTOs offered separate crank-operated front door vents. Concealed windshield wipers, which presented a cleaner appearance hidden below the rear edge of the hood, were standard on the GTO and other 1968 GM products after having been originally introduced on the 1967 Pontiac Grand Prix. A popular option, actually introduced during the 1967 model year, was a hood-mounted tachometer, located in front of the windshield and lit for visibility at night. An in-dash tachometer was also available. Redline bias-ply tyres continued as standard equipment on the 1968 GTO, though they could be replaced by whitewall tires at no extra cost. A new option was radial tires for improved ride and handling. However, very few were delivered with the radial tyres because of manufacturing problems encountered by supplier B.F. Goodrich. The radial tire option was discontinued after 1968. Pontiac did not offer radial tires as a factory option on the GTO again until the 1974 model. Now facing competition both within GM and from Ford, Dodge, and Plymouth—particularly the low-cost Plymouth Road Runner—the GTO won the Motor Trend Car of the Year Award. Sales reached 87,684 units, which would ultimately prove to be the second-best sales year for the GTO. There were minor changes every year to the model through to its replacement in 1974 by the next generation car.
This vast “land yacht” is a 1972 Catalina Convertible. For 1971, Catalina and other full-sized Pontiacs were completely redesigned and restyled from the wheels up with long hood/short deck proportions and fuselage styling somewhat similar to Chrysler Corporation’s 1969 full-sized cars, along with a double shell roof for improved roll-over protection and flush pull-up exterior door handles – the latter two features first seen on the 1970 1⁄2 Firebird. Catalina and Catalina Brougham sedans and coupes rode on a 123.4-inch (3,130 mm) wheelbase while Bonneville and Grand Ville used a longer 126-inch (3,200 mm) wheelbase, and Safari wagons were an inch longer at 127 inches. Station wagons also got their own multi-leaf spring rear suspensions, while sedans and coupes continued to be suspended with front and rear coil springs. New for 1971 was the Catalina Brougham series, which offered a more luxurious interior trim than the regular Catalina, available as a two-door hardtop, four-door hardtop and four-door pillared sedan. It was similar in concept to the Ventura series (1960-1961, 1966-1969) and the Ventura custom trim option on the Catalina (1962-1965, 1970). It was dropped in 1973 after its sales failed to meet expectations. 1972 was also the Catalina convertible’s final year. The Catalina Safari wagon became simply the Pontiac Safari for 1971 (though it continued to share interior and exterior trimmings with Catalina sedans and coupes) while the more luxurious Executive and Bonneville wagons were replaced by the new Grand Safari wagon. While the Grand Safari shared its grille design with the new Grand Ville series, its interior trim was identical to the optional vinyl interior offered on the Bonneville series. Pontiac now grouped its full-sized wagons as a separate series from their sedan counterparts, as did Chevrolet (Brookwood, Townsman, Kingswood, Kingswood Estate), Oldsmobile (Custom Cruiser), and Buick (Estate Wagon). As did all GM B-Body wagons, the Safari and Grand Safari received GM’s new clamshell tailgate. Operated by switches on the instrument panel or a key switch on the rear quarter panel, the tailgate slid into a recess under the cargo floor while the electric window slid upward into the rear roof section. Pontiac boasted the new system made it easier to load and unload the wagon in tight spaces, but the “Glide-Away” tailgate was prone to electrical and mechanical problems, and water and air leakage problems, as the cars aged. Another trouble-prone feature Pontiacs shared with all GM B- and C-body cars for 1971 was a new power ventilation system. The system, also shared with the ill-fated Vega, used the heater fan to draw air into the car from the cowl intake, and force it out through vents in the trunk lid or tailgate. In theory, passengers could enjoy fresh air even when the car was moving slowly or stopped, as in heavy traffic. In practice, however, it didn’t work. Within weeks of the 1971 models’ debut, however, Pontiac—and all other GM dealers—received multiple complaints from drivers who complained the ventilation system pulled cold air into the car before the heater could warm up—and could not be shut off. The ventilation system was extensively revised for 1972. All models featured new Grand Prix-style wrap-around cockpit instrument panels that placed controls and instruments within easy reach of the driver along with two round pods for a speedometer and the other for warning lights, fuel gauge or optional gauges and electric clock. Interior trims were available in cloth and Morrokide vinyl or expanded Morrokide depending on model. Standard engine in Catalina sedans and coupes was a 255-horsepower “350” (actually 355 cid) V8 with two-barrel carburetor. Catalina Brougham models and Safari wagons came standard with a 400 cubic-inch V8 with two-barrel carburetor rated at 265 gross horsepower that was optional on other Catalina models. Optional engines included a 455 cubic-inch V8 with two- or four-barrel carburetion and respective horsepower ratings of 285 and 325, respectively. All Pontiac engines for 1971 were designed to run on lower-octane regular leaded, low lead or unleaded gasoline thanks to a GM corporate edict, necessitating reductions in compression ratios. Power front disc brakes were made standard equipment for the first time in 1971. As in previous years, variable ratio power steering and Turbo Hydramatic transmission were extra-cost options but became standard equipment midway through the 1971 model run. Also available on early 1971 Catalinas with the 350 engine was a two-speed automatic transmission in addition to the standard column-shift three-speed manual. For 1972, Catalinas and other full-sized Pontiacs received new Grand Prix-style “V” nose grilles and sturdier front bumpers that could withstand crashes of up to 5 mph (8.0 km/h), a year ahead of the Federal standard that took effect in 1973, along with revised taillight lenses. The two-barrel 400 cubic-inch V8 was standard on all Catalina/Brougham/Safari models rated at 175 net horsepower compared to 265 gross horses in 1971 thanks to a switch in power measurements from gross ratings which were measured by a dynometer with no accessories attached while the “net” figures were measured “as installed” in a vehicle with all accessories and emission gear hooked up. Optional engines included a two-barrel 455 rated at 185 horsepower and a four-barrel 455 rated at 250 horsepower (190 kW). The year 1972 was the last for the Catalina convertible and the Catalina Brougham series. Catalina and other 1973 full-sized Pontiacs featured fuller-width split grilles along with the now-federally mandated 5 mph front bumper, and revised taillight lenses. Instrument panels continued the “wrap-around” theme but the two round gauges were housed in square pods. With the Catalina Brougham discontinued only the regular Catalina models and Safari wagons were offered this year. Catalinas and other full-sized Pontiacs including Bonnevilles and Grand Villes now rode on a common 123.4-inch (3,130 mm) wheelbaase for sedans and coupes though Safari and Grand Safari wagons continued on their own 127-inch (3,200 mm) wheelbase. Catalina sedans and coupes came standard with a 350 cubic-inch V8 rated at 150 hp with a 170-horsepower 400 two-barrel optional and standard on Safari wagons. Optional engines included a 230 hp 400 four-barrel and 250 hp 455 four-barrel V8. The 1974 Catalina and other big Pontiacs had a new Mercedes-like center split grille and revised rear styling with new 5 mph bumpers on the aft end and license plate moved above the bumper. Two-door hardtop coupes featured new fixed triangular side windows, but kept the pillarless style with roll-down rear quarter windows, unlike Chevrolet, which eliminated the rolldown rear quarters in the Caprice and Impala Custom coupes. The four-door pillared and hardtop sedans were virtually unchanged from 1973. Interiors were much the same as 1973 except for a revised standard steering wheel and new cut-pile carpeting. New to the option list were adjustable accelerator and brake pedals, a Pontiac exclusive (and seldom ordered), and a Radial Tuned Suspension that included the upgraded tires along with other suspension mods such as front and rear sway bars. The 170-horsepower 400 V8 with two-barrel carburetor was now the standard engine on all models with a 225-horsepower 400 four-barrel and 250-horsepower 455 four-barrel V8 available as options. Also for 1974, the Safari wagon was renamed the Catalina Safari and continued to share interior and exterior trims with sedans and coupes. The year 1975 brought revised front and rear styling to Catalinas and other full-sized Pontiacs, along with standard radial tires and electronic ignition. The same assortment of 400 and 455 engines carried over from 1974 with reduced horsepower ratings ranging from 170 to 200, but now mated to catalytic converters, which provided improved driveability and fuel economy over previous emission control equipment, but mandated the use of unleaded gasoline. Four-door pillared and hardtop sedans featured new six-window styling with the sixth window on the hardtop sedan functioning as an opera window. 1975 also marked the end of Pontiac convertible production until 1982; the Grand Ville Brougham was the last full-size Pontiac convertible. For 1976, only minor detail changes were made to Catalinas and other full-sized Pontiacs that included revised grilles (with rectangular headlights now on Catalinas with the “Custom Trim Option-round headlights continued on base models) and taillight lenses. This year was the last for the 1971-vintage bodyshell, optional adjustable pedals, 455 V8 and the clamshell tailgate on Safari wagons. 1976 also marked the return of the Bonneville Brougham series to the top of the full-size line, as Pontiac marketers abandoned the Grand Ville name entirely.
This was a nice late model second generation Firebird Trans Am. The Firebird was closely related to the Chevrolet Camaro, and the two evolved in very similar ways from launch for the 1970 model year right up to their deletion in 1981.
The 356 was created by Ferdinand “Ferry” Porsche (son of Dr. Ing. Ferdinand Porsche, founder of the German company), who founded the Austrian company with his sister, Louise. Like its cousin, the Volkswagen Beetle (which Ferdinand Porsche Senior had designed), the 356 was a four-cylinder, air-cooled, rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive car utilising unitised pan and body construction. The chassis was a completely new design as was the 356’s body which was designed by Porsche employee Erwin Komenda, while certain mechanical components including the engine case and some suspension components were based on and initially sourced from Volkswagen. Ferry Porsche described the thinking behind the development of the 356 in an interview with the editor of Panorama, the PCA magazine, in September 1972. “….I had always driven very speedy cars. I had an Alfa Romeo, also a BMW and others. ….By the end of the war I had a Volkswagen Cabriolet with a supercharged engine and that was the basic idea. I saw that if you had enough power in a small car it is nicer to drive than if you have a big car which is also overpowered. And it is more fun. On this basic idea we started the first Porsche prototype. To make the car lighter, to have an engine with more horsepower…that was the first two seater that we built in Carinthia (Gmünd)”. The first 356 was road certified in Austria on June 8, 1948, and was entered in a race in Innsbruck where it won its class. Porsche re-engineered and refined the car with a focus on performance. Fewer and fewer parts were shared between Volkswagen and Porsche as the ’50’s progressed. The early 356 automobile bodies produced at Gmünd were handcrafted in aluminium, but when production moved to Zuffenhausen, Germany in 1950, models produced there were steel-bodied. Looking back, the aluminium bodied cars from that very small company are what we now would refer to as prototypes. Porsche contracted with Reutter to build the steel bodies and eventually bought the Reutter company in 1963. The Reutter company retained the seat manufacturing part of the business and changed its name to Recaro. Little noticed at its inception, mostly by a small number of auto racing enthusiasts, the first 356s sold primarily in Austria and Germany. It took Porsche two years, starting with the first prototype in 1948, to manufacture the first 50 automobiles. By the early 1950s the 356 had gained some renown among enthusiasts on both sides of the Atlantic for its aerodynamics, handling, and excellent build quality. The class win at Le Mans in 1951 was clearly a factor. It was always common for owners to race the car as well as drive them on the streets. They introduced the four-cam racing “Carrera” engine, a totally new design and unique to Porsche sports cars, in late 1954. Increasing success with its racing and road cars brought Porsche orders for over 10,000 units in 1964, and by the time 356 production ended in 1965 approximately 76,000 had been produced. The 356 was built in four distinct series, the original (“pre-A”), followed by the 356 A, 356 B, and then finally the 356 C. To distinguish among the major revisions of the model, 356’s are generally classified into a few major groups. 356 coupés and “cabriolets” (soft-top) built through 1955 are readily identifiable by their split (1948 to 1952) or bent (centre-creased, 1953 to 1955) windscreens. In late 1955 the 356 A appeared, with a curved windshield. The A was the first road going Porsche to offer the Carrera 4 cam engine as an option. In late 1959 the T5 356 B appeared; followed by the redesigned T6 series 356 B in 1962. The final version was the 356 C, little changed from the late T6 B cars but with disc brakes to replace the drums. Seen here was a 356 Speedster.
Although rare in the UK, you are more likely to see a 914 here, as the vast majority of these cars were sold new into the US. Accordingly, there was a 914 2.0 here. The 914 was born of a joint need that Porsche had for a replacement for the 912, and Volkswagen’s desire for a new range-topping sports coupe to replace the Karmann Ghia. At the time, the majority of Volkswagen’s developmental work was handled by Porsche, part of a setup that dated back to Porsche’s founding; Volkswagen needed to contract out one last project to Porsche to fulfill the contract, and decided to make this that project. Ferdinand Piëch, who was in charge of research and development at Porsche, was put in charge of the 914 project. Originally intending to sell the vehicle with a flat four-cylinder engine as a Volkswagen and with a flat six-cylinder engine as a Porsche, Porsche decided during development that having Volkswagen and Porsche models sharing the same body would be risky for business in the American market, and convinced Volkswagen to allow them to sell both versions as Porsches in North America. On March 1, 1968, the first 914 prototype was presented. However, development became complicated after the death of Volkswagen’s chairman, Heinz Nordhoff, on April 12, 1968. His successor, Kurt Lotz, was not connected with the Porsche dynasty and the verbal agreement between Volkswagen and Porsche fell apart. In Lotz’s opinion, Volkswagen had all rights to the model, and no incentive to share it with Porsche if they would not share in tooling expenses. With this decision, the price and marketing concept for the 914 had failed before series production had begun. As a result, the price of the chassis went up considerably, and the 914/6 ended up costing only a bit less than the 911T, Porsche’s next lowest price car. The 914/6 sold quite poorly while the much less expensive 914/4 became Porsche’s top seller during its model run, outselling the Porsche 911 by a wide margin with over 118,000 units sold worldwide. Volkswagen versions originally featured an 80 PS fuel-injected 1.7 L flat-4 engine based on the Volkswagen air-cooled engine. Porsche’s 914/6 variant featured a carburettor 110 PS 2.0 litre flat-6 engine from the 1969 911T, placed amidships in front of a version of the 1969 911’s “901” gearbox configured for a mid-engine car. Karmann manufactured the rolling chassis at their plant, completing Volkswagen production in-house or delivering versions to Porsche for their final assembly. 914/6 models used lower gear ratios and high brake gearing in order to try to overcome the greater weight of the 6 cylinder engine along with higher power output. Suspension, brakes, and handling were otherwise the same. A Volkswagen-Porsche joint venture, Volkswagen of America, handled export to the U.S., where both versions were badged and sold as Porsches, except in California, where they were sold in Volkswagen dealerships. The four-cylinder cars were sold as Volkswagen-Porsches at European Volkswagen dealerships. Slow sales and rising costs prompted Porsche to discontinue the 914/6 variant in 1972 after producing 3,351 of them; its place in the lineup was filled by a variant powered by a new 100 PS 2.0 litre, fuel-injected version of Volkswagen’s Type 4 engine in 1973. For 1974, the 1.7 L engine was replaced by a 85 PS 1.8 litre, and the new Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection system was added to American units to help with emissions control. 914 production ended in 1976. The 2.0 litre flat-4 engine continued to be used in the 912E, which provided an entry-level model until the 924 was introduced.
Looking a bit different to European spec cars because of the federalisation changes was this 944. Whilst its precursor, the 924, had received largely positive reviews, it was criticised by many including Porsche enthusiasts for its Audi-sourced engine and although the Turbo model had increased performance, this model carried a high price, which caused Porsche to decide to develop the 924, as they had with generations of the 911. They re-worked the platform and a new all-alloy 2.5 litre inline-four engine, that was, in essence, half of the 928’s 5.0 litre V8, although very few parts were actually interchangeable. Not typical in luxury sports cars, the four-cylinder engine was chosen for fuel efficiency and size, because it had to be fitted from below on the Neckarsulm production line. To overcome roughness caused by the unbalanced secondary forces that are typical of four-cylinder engines, Porsche included two counter-rotating balance shafts running at twice engine speed. Invented in 1904 by British engineer Frederick Lanchester, and further developed and patented in 1975 by Mitsubishi Motors, balance shafts carry eccentric weights which produce inertial forces that balance out the unbalanced secondary forces, making a four-cylinder engine feel as smooth as a six-cylinder. The engine was factory-rated at 150 hp in its U.S. configuration. Revised bodywork with wider wheel arches, similar to that of the 924 Carrera GT, a fresh interior and upgrades to the braking and suspension systems rounded out the major changes and Porsche introduced the car as the 944 in 1982. It was slightly faster (despite having a poorer drag co-efficient than the 924), the 944 was better equipped and more refined than the 924; it had better handling and stopping power, and was more comfortable to drive. The factory-claimed 0-60 mph time of less than 9 seconds and a top speed of 130 mph which turned out to be somewhat pessimistic, In mid-1985, the 944 underwent its first significant changes. These included : a new dash and door panels, embedded radio antenna, upgraded alternator, increased oil sump capacity, new front and rear cast alloy control arms and semi-trailing arms, larger fuel tank, optional heated and powered seats, Porsche HiFi sound system, and revisions in the mounting of the transaxle to reduce noise and vibration. The “cookie cutter” style wheels used in the early 944s were upgraded to new “phone dial” style wheels (Fuchs wheels remained an option). 1985 model year cars incorporating these changes are sometimes referred to as “1985B”, “85.5” or “1985½” cars. For the 1987 model year, the 944 Motronic DME was updated, and newly incorporated anti-lock braking and air bags. Because of the ABS system, the wheel offset changed and Fuchs wheels were no longer an option. In early 1989 before the release of the 944S2, Porsche upgraded the 944 from the 2.5 to a 2.7 litre engine, with a rated 162 hp and a significant increase in torque. For the 1985 model year, Porsche introduced the 944 Turbo, known internally as the 951. This had a turbocharged and intercooled version of the standard car’s engine that produced 220 PS at 6000 rpm. In 1987, Car and Driver tested the 944 Turbo and achieved a 0-60 mph time of 5.9 seconds. The Turbo was the first car using a ceramic port liner to retain exhaust gas temperature and new forged pistons and was also the first vehicle to produce identical power output with or without a catalytic converter. The Turbo also featured several other changes, such as improved aerodynamics, notably an integrated front bumper. This featured the widest turn signals (indicators) fitted to any production car, a strengthened gearbox with a different final drive ratio, standard external oil coolers for both the engine and transmission, standard 16 inch wheels (optional forged Fuchs wheels), and a slightly stiffer suspension (progressive springs) to handle the extra weight. The Turbo’s front and rear brakes were borrowed from the Porsche 911, with Brembo 4-piston fixed calipers and 12-inch discs as ABS also came standard. Engine component revisions, more than thirty in all, were made to the 951 to compensate for increased internal loads and heat. Changes occurred for the 1987 model year. On the interior, the 1987 944 Turbo for North America became the first production car in the world to be equipped with driver and passenger side air bags as standard equipment. A low oil level light was added to the dash as well as a 180 mph (290 km/h) speedometer as opposed to the 170 mph speedometer on the 1986 model Turbos. Also included is the deletion of the transmission oil cooler, and a change in suspension control arms to reduce the car’s scrub radius. The engine remained the same M44/51 as in the 1986 model. In 1988, Porsche introduced the Turbo S. The 944 Turbo S had a more powerful engine (designation number M44/52) with 250 hp and 258 lb·ft torque (standard 944 Turbo 220 hp and 243 lb·ft. This higher output was achieved by using a larger K26-8 turbine housing and revised engine mapping which allowed maintaining maximum boost until 5800 rpm, compared to the standard 944 Turbo the boost would decrease from 1.75 bar at 3000 rpm to 1.52 bar at 5800 rpm. Top speed was factory rated at 162 mph. The 944 Turbo S’s suspension had the “M030” option consisting of Koni adjustable shocks front and rear, with ride height adjusting threaded collars on the front struts, progressive rate springs, larger hollow rear anti-roll/torsion bars, harder durometer suspension bushings, larger hollow anti-roll/torsion bars at the front, and chassis stiffening brackets in the front frame rails. The air conditioning dryer lines are routed so as to clear the front frame brace on the driver’s side. The 944 Turbo S wheels, known as the Club Sport design, were 16-inch Fuchs forged and flat-dished, similar to the Design 90 wheel. Wheel widths were 7 inches in the front, and 9 inches in the rear with 2.047 in offset; sizes of the Z-rated tyres were 225/50 in the front and 245/45 in the rear. The front and rear fender edges were rolled to accommodate the larger wheels. The manual transmission featured a higher friction clutch disc setup, an external cooler, and a limited slip differential with a 40% lockup setting. The Turbo S front brakes were borrowed from the Porsche 928 S4, with larger Brembo GT 4-piston fixed calipers and 12-inch discs; rear Brembo brakes remained the same as a standard Turbo. ABS also came standard. The 944 Turbo S interior featured power seats for both driver and passenger, where the majority of the factory-built Turbo S models sported a “Burgundy plaid” (Silver Rose edition) but other interior/exterior colours were available. A 10-speaker sound system and equalizer + amp was a common option with the Turbo S and S/SE prototypes. Only the earlier 1986, 250 bhp prototypes featured a “special wishes custom interior” options package. In 1989 and later production, the ‘S’ designation was dropped from the 944 Turbo S, and all 944 Turbos featured the Turbo S enhancements as standard, however the “M030” suspension and the Club Sport wheels were not part of that standard. The 944 Turbo S was the fastest production four cylinder car of its time. For the 1987 model year, the 944S “Super” was introduced, featuring a high performance normally aspirated, dual-overhead-cam 16-valve 190 PS version of the 2.5 litre engine (M44/40) featuring a self-adjusting timing belt tensioner. This marked the first use of four-valve-per-cylinder heads and DOHC in the 944 series, derived from the 928 S4 featuring a redesigned camshaft drive, a magnesium intake tract/passages, magnesium valve cover, larger capacity oil sump, and revised exhaust system. The alternator capacity was 115 amps. The wheel bearings were also strengthened and the brake servo action was made more powerful. Floating 944 calipers were standard, but the rear wheel brake circuit pressure regulator from the 944 turbo was used. Small ’16 Ventiler’ script badges were added on the sides in front of the body protection mouldings. Performance was quoted as 0 – 100 km/h in 6.5 seconds and a 144 mph top speed due to a 2857 lb weight. It also featured an improved programmed Bosch Digital Motronic 2 Computer/DME with dual knock sensors for improved fuel performance for the higher 10.9:1 compression ratio cylinder head. Like the 944 Turbo, the 944S received progressive springs for greater handling, Larger front and rear anti-roll bars, revised transmission and gearing to better suit the 2.5 litre DOHC higher 6800 rpm rev limit. Dual safety air bags, limited-slip differential, and ABS braking system were optional on the 944S. A Club Sport touring package (M637) was available as was the lightweight 16 inch CS/Sport Fuch 16×7 and 16×9 forged alloy wheels. This SC version car was raced in Canada, Europe and in the U.S. IMSA Firehawk Cup Series. Production was only during 1987 and 1988. It was superseded in 1989 by the ‘S2’ 944 edition. The 1987 944S power-to-weight ratio was such that it was able to accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 6.5 seconds thus matching the acceleration of its newer larger displacement 3.0 litre 944 S2 sibling. In 1989 the 944S2 was introduced, powered by a 211 PS normally aspirated, dual-overhead-cam 16-valve 3.0 litre version of the 944S engine, the largest production 4-cylinder engine of its time. The 944S2 also received a revised transmission and gearing to better suit the 3.0 litre M44/41 powerplant. The 944S2 had the same rounded nose and a rear valance found on the Turbo model. This was the first example of the use of an integrated front bumper, where the fender and hood profiles would merge smoothly with the bumper, a design feature that has only now seen widespread adoption on the 1990 onward production cars. Performance was quoted as 0-60 mph in 6.0 seconds with a top speed of 240 km/h (150 mph) via manual transmission. A Club Sport touring package (M637) was also available. Dual air bags (left hand drive models), limited-slip differential and ABS were optional. Series 90 16-inch cast alloy wheels were standard equipment. In 1989, Porsche released the 944 S2 Cabriolet, a first for the 944 line that featured the cabriolet body built by ASC-American Sunroof Company at Weinsberg Germany. The first year of production included sixteen 944 S2 Cabriolet for the U.S. market. For the 1990 model year, Porsche produced 3,938 944 S2 Cabriolets for all markets including right-hand drive units for the United Kingdom, Australia and South Africa. This car was raced, including the British championship that was called the Porsche Motorsport Championship. Production was during 1989, 1990, and 1991. The 944 S2 power-to-weight ratio was such that it was able to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. In February 1991, Porsche released the 944 Turbo Cabriolet, which combined the Turbo S’s 250 hp engine with the cabriolet body built by ASC-American Sunroof Company at Weinsberg Germany. Porsche initially announced that 600 would be made; ultimately 625 were built, 100 of which were right-hand drive for the United Kingdom, Japanese, Australian, and South African market. None were imported to the U.S. and The Americas. In early 1990, Porsche engineers began working on what they had intended to be the third evolution of the 944, the S3. As they progressed with the development process, they realised that so many parts were being changed that they had produced an almost entirely new vehicle. Porsche consequently shifted development from the 944 S/S2 to the car that would replace the 944 entirely, the 968. The 944’s final year of production was 1991. A grand total 163,192 cars in the 944 family were produced between 1982 and 1991. This made it the most successful car line in Porsche’s history until the introductions of the Boxster and 997 Carrera.
Final Porsche here was a 987 generation Cayman.
Whilst Subaru sales have slowed to trickle in Europe in recent years, in America, the brand goes from strength to strength. That success is mostly down to sales of the practical Forester and Outback models, but in case enthusiasts have forgotten there are still performance models offered as well, the latest versions of the cars which so made the brand’s name in the UK and Europe around 15 years ago. There were a number here, with examples of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation WRX STi all parked up together.
Sole Toyota to attract my camera was this Supra, the fourth generation of the model, known as the A80. Design work began in February 1989 under various teams for design, product planning, and engineering. By the middle of 1990, a final A80 design concept from Toyota Technical Centre Aichi was approved and frozen for production in late 1990. The first test mules were hand-built in A70 bodies during late 1990, followed by the first A80 prototypes being hand-assembled in 1991. Again using subframe, suspension, and drivetrain assemblies from the Z30 Soarer (Lexus SC300/400), test model pre-production started in December 1992 with 20 models, and official mass production began in April 1993. This redesign saw Toyota placing great emphasis on a more serious high-performance car. The new Supra was completely redesigned, with rounded body styling and featured two new engines: a naturally aspirated Toyota 2JZ-GE producing 220 hp at 5800 rpm and 210 lb·ft at 4800 rpm of torque and a twin turbocharged Toyota 2JZ-GTE making 276 hp and 318 lb·ft of torque for the Japanese version. The styling, while modern, does seem to borrow some elements from Toyota’s first grand touring sports car, the Toyota 2000GT. For the export model (America/Europe) Toyota upgraded the Supra turbo’s engine which increased the power output to 320 hp at 5600 rpm and 315 lb·ft at 4000 rpm. The turbocharged variant could achieve 0–60 mph in as low as 4.6 seconds and 1/4-mile in 13.1 seconds at 109 mph. The turbo version was tested to reach over 285 km/h (177 mph), but the cars were restricted to just 180 km/h (112 mph) in Japan and 250 km/h (155 mph) elsewhere. The twin turbos operated in sequential mode, not parallel. Initially, all of the exhaust is routed to the first turbine for reduced lag. This resulted in boost and enhanced torque as early as 1800 rpm, where it already produced 300 lb·ft (410 N·m) of torque. At 3500 rpm, some of the exhaust is routed to the second turbine for a “pre-boost” mode, although none of the compressor output is used by the engine at this point. At 4000 rpm, the second turbo’s output is used to augment the first turbo’s output. Compared to the parallel mode, sequential mode turbos provide quicker low RPM response and increased high RPM boost. This high RPM boost was also aided with technology originally present in the 7M-GE in the form of the Acoustic Control Induction System (ACIS) which is a way of managing the air compression pulses within the intake piping as to increase power. For this generation, the Supra received a new 6-speed Getrag/Toyota V160 gearbox on the turbo models while the naturally aspirated models made do with a 5-speed manual W58, revised from the previous version. Each model was offered with a 4-speed automatic with manual shifting mode. All vehicles were equipped with 5-spoke aluminium alloy wheels, the naturally aspirated model had 16″ rims and the turbo models were 17″. The difference in wheel size was to accommodate the larger brakes equipped as standard onto the turbo model, but in Japan were optional extras. Both models had a space saver spare tire on a steel rim to save both space and weight. Toyota took measures to reduce the weight of this new model. Aluminium was used for the hood, targa top (when fitted), front crossmember, oil and transmission pans, and the suspension upper A-arms. Other measures included hollow carpet fibres, magnesium-alloy steering wheel, plastic gas tank and lid, gas injected rear spoiler, and a single pipe exhaust. Despite having more features such as dual airbags, traction control, larger brakes, wheels, tyres, and an additional turbo, the car was at least 200 lb lighter than its predecessor. The base model with a manual transmission had a curb weight of 3,210 lb (1,460 kg). The Sport Roof added 40 lb while the automatic transmission added 55 lb. It had a 51:49 (front:rear) weight distribution. The turbo model weighed 3,450 lb (1,560 kg) for the manual, automatic added another 10 lb (4.5 kg). Weight distribution was 53% front/47% rear. The Supra was heavier than the spartan Mazda RX-7 and all aluminium bodied Acura/Honda NSX, but it was lighter than the Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4. The Supra soon became something of a legend, establishing itself as an effective platform for drifting in Japan, and for roadracing, with several top 20 and top 10 One Lap of America finishes in the SSGT1 class. Despite its curb weight, in 1994 the A80 managed remarkable skidpad ratings of 0.95 lateral g’s (200 ft) and 0.98 lateral g’s (300 ft), and the car has proved popular even as it ages in the UK, with several “grey market” cars having been brought here over the years.
First introduced in 2004, Volvo’s S60 R used a Haldex all-wheel-drive system mated to a 300 PS / 400 Nm (300 lb/ft) inline-5. The 2004–2005 models came with a 6-speed manual transmission, or an available 5-speed automatic which allowed only 258 lb/ft (350 Nm) torque in 1st and 2nd gears. The 2006–2007 models came with a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission (which was no longer torque-restricted). Other aspects which set the R apart from standard S60s were the large Brembo front and rear four-piston brakes, 18-inch 5-spoke “Pegasus” wheels (available as an upgrade to the standard 17-inch wheels of the same design), blue faced “R” gauges, standard HID headlights, as well as the Four-C suspension system. Semi-active suspension with Four-C (a short name for “Continuously Controlled Chassis Concept”) allows the user to select from three modes: Comfort, Sport, and Advanced. “Comfort” attempts to soften the car over bumps, while “Advanced” firms the suspension considerably and gives more aggressive throttle response – a setting Volvo implies is for use on the race track. This is accomplished through a drive by wire throttle, allowing the same pedal travel to result in different performance when the appropriate mode is selected, electronically controlled shock absorbers that can adjust themselves 500 times a second, and a complex series of sensors throughout the body of the vehicle. Volvo collaborated with high-tech system developer Ohlins Racing AB and shock absorber manufacturer Monroe for the self-adjusting shock absorbers. The Rs had three interior colour options: Nordkap (metallic dark blue), Gobi (light tan metallic) and a R-only leather option; Atacama, available for an additional charge. It was an unpainted, orangey-coloured natural leather with a baseball glove thickness and feel. The small trunk lid spoiler that was standard on the S60 R created a 20% increased downforce at the rear wheels at high speeds compared to the standard S60s. The S60 Rs have a 0.29 Drag coefficient, compared to the standard S60’s 0.28, due to the larger lower front bumper spoiler to support the secondary intercooler. Another Volvo factory option for only the S60 R was a body kit which included front bumper splitters, side skirts and a rear valance, colour matched to the body. The body kit was only available with certain body colours and in certain markets. The S60 R continued the tradition of “R” cars for Volvo beginning in 1995 with the introduction of the 850 T-5 R.
I enjoyed this. It is always good to go to a different location and see some cars that you don’t see at other events. And obviously, you get quite a different collection of cars at an American even that you will find in Europe or the UK. The timing of this one works better than the early morning ones where a lot of people do only stay for as long as it takes to drink their coffee, though you do still have to be fleet of foot to see cars more or less as soon as they park up. I will certainly be looking to attend this one on future visits to the Phoenix area.