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Archive for the ‘Classic & Vintage Cars’ Category

Investing In Cars Could Save Your Life

August 28th, 2015

1966 Griffith 400

You wouldn’t think a former school teacher could have owned so many rare and exceptional cars in his life.

Gary, though, is different.

I met Gary, a 72-year-old retiree, at his home on Priest Lake in Coolin, Idaho. My family went to escape the Washington wildfires and rented his home on the beach. As we sat near the water and discussed life, we discovered a common love: cars.

Gary, it turns out, also dabbled in the buying real estate during his teaching career and amassed a small fortune that he used to invest in cars. One investment turned out to be a silly mistake, but the others ended up saving his life.

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Here Comes the Revolution of Nissan’s Z Car

August 26th, 2015

1970_nissan_240z

When I was nothing but a gleam in my father’s eye, he raced his 1967 Mercury Cougar XR-7, with the 390 cubic-inch Ford V8, against anything that was up for the challenge.

Dad raced Mustangs, Camaros, Corvettes, Chargers, and virtually all other muscle cars that were around in the late ’60s and early ’70s. He didn’t win all of those impromptu races, but he had fun and knew exactly what to expect when challenged by one of the familiar American cars.

Then something strange happened. A small Japanese car wanted to race. Dad revved his engine, and the two cars bolted ahead.

Dad lost.

The challenger was a 1970 Datsun 240Z, a car that went on to become a Nissan and dominate the hearts of sports car lovers everywhere.

Now a new Z could take over the streets and challenge unsuspecting cars everywhere. Only this time the targets will be the likes of the CR-V and RAV4.

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Guess Who Would Have Been 50 This Month?

August 20th, 2015

1970_Ford_Bronco

Nine days ago there was a birthday that went largely unacknowledged. On August 11, 1965, a legend was born that would go down in history as one of the most influential of its kind.

This legend helped found an all-new category of vehicle and established itself as a forerunner of all others to exist since.

Unfortunately, like too many other world-influencing figures, this legend died an early death. That was in 1996, and even today rumors abound that it’s not really dead, just hibernating and waiting for the right time to return to Earth.

August 11, 2015, would have been the 50th birthday of the great Ford Bronco.

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These SUVs Paved the Way for the F-PACE

August 14th, 2015
Cold-weather testing the Jaguar F-PACE

Cold-weather testing the Jaguar F-PACE

Before the crossovers of today roamed the roads, the SUVs of yesterday paved the way to give them smooth access.

My oh my, have the big utes evolved. This year we have news that crossover SUVs from Jaguar, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, and even Lamborghini are on the way, while existing stalwarts such as Jeep, Land Rover, Ford, Chevy, and more, continue to rake in huge profits from the people-movers.

Of all the new SUVs coming our way, Jaguar’s F-PACE looks the most intriguing. Jaguar Vehicle Program Director Andrew Whyman said,

We developed the F-PACE to offer the ride, handling and refinement demanded from a Jaguar car, together with new levels of ability and composure on a variety of surfaces and weather conditions. Just as we paid obsessive attention to detail over the engineering of every single component, we’ve exhaustively tested the F-PACE in the most challenging conditions to ensure that it will exceed the expectations of our customers around the world.

We don’t have any specs yet, but we do know the Jag, thus far, looks like it’ll be one of the most attractive SUVs in the world.

It couldn’t exist, though, without a little help from these ancestors.

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Why I Don’t Like American Muscle Cars Anymore

August 7th, 2015

1964.5 Value Mustang

The American muscle car craze started with the 1964.5 Ford Mustang. That’s the car that showed Americans that high power could fit into a small package, be inexpensive, and look good at the same time.

The Mustang gave way to a new era of loud-and-fast rear-wheel-drive two-door cars powered by V8 engines. They defined a generation of rebels and teenagers who wanted to live fast and drive hard. The cars were different from sports cars of the time, because they lacked the grace and sophistication of European cars. To put it simply, American cars overcame that lack of grace with pure, raw muscle.

Buyers ate them up for the better part of the next 50 years. But as buyers aged, muscle cars came to represent something different. Instead of symbolizing youth and rebellion, the cars started to represent lost youth and cheap power.

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Ridiculously Cool Vehicles for Under $5,000

July 27th, 2015

1957 fire truck

What car would you buy for under $5,000?

That might seem like a ridiculously low budget for getting a cool car, but start shopping around and you might be surprised at how much car you can get for five grand.

You’ll find all the usual economical commuter cars, some old-but-sleek sports cars, plenty of hard-working pickup trucks, a few worthy classics, and so much more. Look a little deeper, though, and you’ll find vehicles outside the norm.

Like a fire truck.

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Own a Land Yacht? Get a Dinghy Instead

July 6th, 2015

1988 Honda Civic

Three cars sat in the driveway, and there was only one that I desperately wanted.

We were high in the Sierra Nevada mountains somewhere just south of Lake Tahoe. My aunt lives in the area, and in her driveway sat a Lexus RX 350, an Audi Q7, and a 1988 Honda Civic.

The two luxury utes looked like behemoths next to the diminutive Honda, but that’s the one I would’ve loved to take home.

Here’s why.

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Have You Ever Heard of These Toyotas?

June 22nd, 2015

Toyota_Vitz_TRD_Turbo_M_1

Do you recognize the logo in this picture?

Look close. You’ll see a familiar shape in the car but the logo itself is probably completely unknown.

For car people like you and me, seeing a logo on the road that isn’t instantly recognizable is a little jarring. Questions swirl in our heads. We wonder if a new brand has quietly been launched or if we’re spotting something rare and exotic.

This happened recently on the streets near my home but after some research I discovered the logo in question didn’t belong to anything exotic, but was a disguise for something far more common.

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Comparing Cars from Back in Our Fathers’ Day

June 19th, 2015

1961 Jaguar E-Type

No matter what the application, technology always advances. In the 1980s, Casio was famous for its Databank watch. It included enough storage memory for some addresses and phone numbers, and it had a handy calculator, just in case you decided to tip 18.7%. In April, 2015, Apple released its own smart watch. It’s roughly the same shape as Casio’s Databank, but the technology now allows for 8 gigabytes of storage, a touchscreen, haptic feedback, and a range of apps that cover everything from the weather to the Red Sox score to what Jeremy Clarkson’s been tweeting this week. Cars are no different.

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How Many Decades Does It Take for an Ugly Car to Look Cool?

June 19th, 2015

Ford Edsel 2-Door

When you’re asked to think of the biggest car flop of all time and the ugliest car ever made, there’s one car that is most likely to come to mind.

The 1958 Ford Edsel (officially known as the Edsel Ranger).

The car has ended up on countless lists of the world’s ugliest cars and has become synonymous with failure. The Washington Post called it The Flop Heard Round the World.

The Edsel did fail upon its introduction, but that’s not necessarily because it was a bad car. It failed because of bad marketing.

Ford over-promised on the Edsel and over-hyped the car to the point of unrealistic expectations. When it was finally revealed, the public was left with the bitter taste of disappointment and turned their backs on the car that Ford had spent the equivalent of $2 billion to develop.

More than 50 years later, though, the Edsel might finally be cool.

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