As a kid in the 1960s we had a Plymouth Valiant convertible, a kissin’ cousin to the Dodge Dart, both pleasant, sturdy, reliable compact cars.
But by the 1970s, the Dart and Valiant had grown into ugly boxy things with parts that readily fell off. They, and other Dodge, Chrysler and Plymouth cars helped turn a lot of buyers off to Chrysler products. So much so that Chrysler has been climbing a steep hill much of the past 35-40 years toward respectability. That is, until now.
Now comes the new Dodge Dart, the first car jointly designed and produced by Chrysler and its financial rescuer, Fiat, the large Italian carmaker. That somewhat forced marriage of a few years back seems to have spurred a renaissance for Detroit’s former No. 3 carmaker. Respectability is growing.
Who doesn’t love a good car chase? Show of hands. Yup, that’s everybody. Good car chases are a big part of a movie. Perhaps the first one that comes to mind is the classic chase in Bullitt. Now think Bond, James Bond. Super awesome car chases in those movies but because, as you all know, I have this sick love affair for AMC cars, I remember the 1974 AMC Hornet in The Man with the Golden Gun. The action begins as secret agent 007 commandeers the Hornet from a dealership in Bangkok with a vacationer who was looking at the car. The Hornet performs an “airborne pirouette as it makes a hold-your-breath jump across a broken bridge“. Of course the stunt car is significantly modified with a redesigned chassis to place the steering wheel in the center and a lower stance, as well as larger wheel wells compared to the stock Hornet used in all the other movie shots.
OK, now lets back up a bit for a history of the Hornet which was a compact automobile made by the American Motors Corporation(AMC) in one generation beginning with the 1970 model year and continuing through the 1977 model year. The Hornet replaced the compact Rambler American marking the end of the Rambler marque in the American and Canadian markets. Hornets were also marketed in foreign markets, as well as assembled under license agreements with AMC that included Vehículos Automotores Mexicanos (VAM), Australian Motor Industries (AMI), and by Toyota S.A. Ltd. in South Africa.
The Hornet name plate goes back to the mid-1950s. The name originated from the merger of Hudson Motor Company and Nash-Kelvinator Corporation in 1954. Hudson introduced the first Hudson Hornet in 1951. The new Hornet became an important vehicle and platform for AMC. It served the company in one form or another for eighteen years, until the 1988 model year. It would outlast all other compact platforms from the competition that included the Chevrolet Nova, Ford Maverick, and Plymouth Valiant. The Hornet marked the return of AMC to its original role as a “niche” marketer specializing in small cars. It also became one of AMCs best sellers.
We had a 73, like this one, the first year they made the Hornet in a hatchback. It was green so of course we could call it the green Hornet. Our’s had AMC’s 258 4.2 liter in it and that 170 horse power engine moved it around nicely. OK now promise me you won’t tell my dad but it was really easy to lay rubber with. I really liked that car. Now the real deal can be had for around 4 grand. More if you want the 1970 SC with the 360 in it. Now that laid rubber even if you looked at the accelerator.
For the promo models, they are very affordable to plus, they don’t have the usual rust found on AMC cars in the 70’s. I have a couple of Hornets, a 1970 2-door and a 73 fastback. Mine are both in mint condition although I’m not sure if I have the boxes for them. My bad. I might have another 73 around somewhere to. Nope, these were not freebies, I actually bought these at one of those car model swap shows since I most likely blew up/burned up/smashed the ones dad brought home for me. Hey, I was a kid. You know, living for the moment. These are pretty inexpensive to too. I think around 30-50 bucks.
Hey look, I got my 73 to do the Bond stunt. Fishing line,what fishing line?
OK, so they aren’t really spy shots, but someone we know who is close to the project has sent us more “spy photos” of the new Replicarz Marmon Wasp. This is the racer that won the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911 with Ray Harroun aboard.
Paint details are still being worked out, but you can see here that the car looks great with the No. 32 now in place on both sides of the car and on the grille. Replicarz will be the first to produce the Wasp in 1:18 scale and the folks at the Vermont-based diecast firm expect it to be something special. Continue reading Latest Replicarz Marmon Wasp spy photos→
OK, cue the music! ” got me a car, it’s as big as a whale and we’re headin’ on down to the Love Shack. I got me a Chrysler, it seats about 20 so come on and bring your jukebox money….”. Those lyrics sound familiar? How about a clue? It was the B52’s biggest hit. Right, Love Shack. If you go to the music video you will see a 1965 Chrysler 300 L which was the last year of the traditional letter series. It was as big as a whale with a 124 inch wheelbase.
The Chrysler 300 “letter series” were high-performance luxury cars built in very limited numbers by the Chrysler Corporation in the U.S. from 1955-1965. You could identify a 300 by the special logo placed on the car on the grill and rear quarter. Each year’s model used a new letter of the alphabet as a suffix (skipping “i”), reaching 300L by 1965, after which the traditional letter series was dropped until coming back a couple of years ago. Chrysler said it best “It’s The Most Beautiful Chrysler Ever Built”. The base engine was 315 horsepower. The 390 horsepower 413ci engine was no longer available though any three hundred could be ordered with a floor shifting four speed manual gearbox. Fronm what I read from owners, it’s a great cruising car car but makes turn as wide as an aircraft carrier and is tough to parallel park. Well duh! I had a tough enough time learning that with my dad’s 1967 Rebel wagon! But how can you not love a convertible? I can see myself in it. Add a nice loud sound system and I’d be good to go. That would be a blast in the warm weather. BTW, up here in Wisconsin, we consider warm weather 60 and above although I’ve ridden my motorcycle down to 40 degrees. Hey, the season in short.
In the final year there were just 2,405 coupes (rare) and 440 convertibles (even rarer) were sold. OK, so I got really excited to see what a good example of the real dear might cost. Thinking they were made in such small numbers, what, $50K? $110K. Not even close. Right now coupes go for around $10K and the convertibles in the $25K range. Convertibles, I found out are a good deal, as the 300 isn’t as sought after as the muscle cars that defined the era. The new on is cool. I have seen some convertibles but they were made by the aftermarket shops. I met the car’s designer, Ralph Gilles, at Road American this summer. Gilles is currently the President and CEO of the SRT Brand and Senior Vice President of Design at Chrysler Group LLC Really nice guy. So much passion for cars and funny too. I could see myself in that too especially in some place warm, with palm trees. Sweet.
OK, now for the promo models. Same deal. The coupes can go for around 100 bucks while like the big guys, the convertibles, about twice as much. I found this super mint ’65 300 L convertible on ebay recently. Now these are the cars I get excited about. Something you might see in a lot of collections. Solid body, good chrome, no scratches and both windshield posts. This is a car if one were to buy would go in a special case, maybe near a sound system where the B52’s could be heard singing, ” got me a car, it’s as big as a whale and we’re headin’ on down to the Love Shack. I got me a Chrysler, it seats about 20 so come on and bring your jukebox money….”.
A Volvo wagon (crossover) with style, luxury? YES!
Volvo has been a master of wagons for decades, its sturdy boxy 240s setting the standard for boring (yet safe) upscale suburban transport.
So it’s no surprise when its tall wagons, the XC crossover vehicles push that bar higher and give the Lexus RX 350 a run for its money. It may surprise you though, that the XC models do so with a good deal of style and luxury. Adios boxy!
The tested XC60’s shoulders are broad and well sculpted and the taillights tall and balanced above sensuously curved rear haunches. This is more Venus in ivory than corrugated box, and a welcome styling change. Continue reading 2013 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD→
Pickups used to be for farmers, builders and such, tradesmen if you will. That was before we all decided we need pickups just to drive around town taller than the rest of the world and to haul sod, peat moss and soccer players on weekends.
Well Chrysler, under the guise of its truck brand, Ram, thought tradesmen needed a good solid low-cost truck. Voila! The 2012 Ram 1500 Tradesman 4X4 in basic white, the most popular color for vehicles in the U.S. market.
This is a bare bones workers truck with standard cab and comes with a 4.7-liter, 310-horse V8. Base price for a 2-wheel drive standard cab pickup, with RamBox cargo system is $22,125. An even more basic model without the RamBox system, which entails two giant toolbox bins built into each side of the cargo bed, is $21,125 and that’s with a 6-foot 4-inch bed that’ll hold a sheet of plywood. Continue reading 2012 Ram 1500 Tradesman 4×4→
W25 dominates die-cast like real racer did the track
Before WWII and before Formula 1 racing there was the European Championship with major European automakers like Alfa Romeo, Auto Union, Maserati, Bugatti and later Ferrari. But in 1934 Mercedes-Benz jumped into the fray with its W25 racer and by 1935, after a year of development, the W25 was dominant.
The silver racer’s inline 8-cylinder engine boasted up to a monstrous, for the time, 430 horsepower and the team featured three top drivers, Rudolf Caracciola, Manfred von Brauchitsch and Luigi Fagioli. Caracciola would win six of the 11 races in 1935 and become European Champion. Fagioli won the lead-off Monaco Grand Prix and two others that season. Continue reading Die-cast: 1935 Mercedes-Benz W25 racer→