Tag Archives: amc

Car Spot: 1970 Plymouth Barracuda

A car from the golden age of muscle cars

If you’ve read any of my posts, you know that I love cars with big V8 engines, especially the ones from the late 1960s and early 1970s. Of course, my dad having worked for American Motors, I’m partial to AMXs and Javelins, but I love them all like this week’s spot, a 1970 Barracuda.

I see all kinds of cool cars like this in the parking lot of Ironwood Golf Course where I work during the summer.

Like the AMC Gremlin, it debuted on April Fool’s Day, but in 1964. Plymouth took a page out of Ford’s book, speeding up development time and keeping costs low by using the Ford Falcon, but in this case, the Cuda was based on Chrysler’s A-body Valiant.

This was the beginning of the pony car era, started by the Mustang, but soon after joined by the Camero, Firebird, Cuda, and Challenger.

RELATED Spot: Muscle cars made a comeback with the Dodge Viper

The new model used the Valiant’s 106-inch wheelbase along with the Valiant hood, headlamp bezels, windshield, vent windows, quarter panels, doors, A-pillar, and bumpers. Only the trunk and some of the glass were new. It wasn’t until the third generation, debuting in 1970, that anything left over from the Valiant was finally gone.

plymouth barracuda, cuda, pony cars

Consisting of coupe and convertible models, the all-new Cuda was built on a shorter, wider version of Chrysler’s existing B platform, the E-body. Dodge saw an opportunity and launched the Challenger and although it shared the same platform there were differences. They shared no exterior sheet metal and the Challenger, at 110 inches, had a wheelbase that was two inches longer, and a body five inches longer than the Barracuda’s.

plymouth barracuda, cuda, cuda 340
This fish could fly with all those ponies.

Buyers had a choice of ten engines (image that) ranging from the base slant six all the way up to two 440s. Now you’d be lucky if you had two options.

340 Six Pack340ci3x2bbl290 hp @ 5000 rpm345 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm
340340ci1x4bbl275 hp @ 5000 rpm340 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm
383383ci1x4bbl330 hp @ 5000 rpm425 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm
383383ci1x2bbl290 hp @ 4400 rpm390 lb-ft @ 2800 rpm
426 Hemi426ci2x4bbl425 hp @ 5000 rpm490 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
440 Six Pack440ci3x2bbl390 hp @ 4700 rpm490 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm
440440ci1x4bbl375 hp @ 4600 rpm480 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm

According to TopSpeed.com, a Cuda mated to either a four-speed manual or a three-speed TorqueFlite automatic, with a 426 HEMI got from 0 to 60 mph in only 5.8 seconds, the 0-to-100-mph sprint stood at 13 seconds, while top speed was rated at 117 mph. On the quarter-mile strip, the HEMI Cuda was one of the fastest muscle cars available, needing only 14 seconds to complete the run.

RELATED Spot: See its older cousin given a second chance, 67 Dodge Charger Restomod.

cuda, plymouth barracuda
pony cars
This Cuda looks fast even parked.
plymouth barracuda, cuda
pony cars
This Cuda had the total package with a 4-speed.

So what are they worth now?

1970 was the best year in sales with 55,499 Barracudas sold, 25,651 base Hardtops, 1,554 base Convertibles, 18,880 ’Cuda Hardtops, 635 ’Cuda Convertibles, and 2,724 AAR ’Cudas. Obviously, the droptops command the most.

In 2015 a 1970 Plymouth Hemi Cuda convertible, one of just 14 produced, sold at auction for $2.5 million bucks but ones like this week’s spot are much more affordable. According to Hagerty, one in Fair condition will fetch just over $45,000, Good condition, $54,000, Excellent, $74,500, and $92, 200 all very reasonable prices for a piece of American automotive history. Because of the energy crisis in 1973, the end of the line for Cuda came in 1974.

75 Cuda Concept. Photo Source: Hot Rod

But before that, this really cool concept had been produced featuring a Superbird-inspired aerodynamic body and it came close to being built. According to the website Chrome Fin Restorations, the prototype was taken to Cincinnati to be viewed by a consumer group for feedback and the results weren’t great, they weren’t even good.

“That wild body went to Cincinnati of all places, and it was a disaster,” remembers designer Milt Antonick. “I came back from Cincinnati and realized it was all over; management didn’t want muscle cars anymore. It was the saddest day of my career at Chrysler.” This would have easily rocked anything else in the market!

It’s really sad that the pony car era, which came back in 2008, is riding off into the sunset again with the emphasis on cars going green. Certainly electric cars with their fake ICE sounds will never replace the excitement and rumble of these cars.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check back next Friday for another one of my car spots along with some history behind it. Have a great weekend.

#Plymouth

#Barracuda

#Muscle Cars

Car Spot: A Bathtub Nash

America’s first adventure car before there were SUVs

This spot brought back flashbacks for me when I spotted it on a lot/salvage yard because we had one as a kid, a 1950 Bathtub Nash.

The pride of Kenosha.

In the late 40s and early 50s, the bathtub styling trend was hot and Nash was seen as the leader. But this was much more than just styling. Nash Engineering VP Nils Wahlberg had thing about aerodynamics, along with his designers performed wind tunnel studies with a full-sized plaster model. Almost unheard of in the automotive world and long before coefficient drag was even a factor. They found that their eventual design required significantly less road horsepower to maintain 60 mph than a comparable Buick or Chrysler at the time and came up with the name Airflyte.

RELATED Spot: See its distant cousin, the AMC Pacer.

But beyond aerodynamics, these cars were ahead of their time by utilizing an early form of unitized construction, with the frame and body shell welded together into a single unit. They also featured an independent front suspension, torque-tube drive, and coil springs at all four corners providing a plush ride. Like its American Motors’ family of cars like the Pacer and Gremlin, the styling was considered cartoonish. Meh, everybody’s a critic.

This is what you get when a company that made refrigerators, Kelvinator, and cars come up with.

But inside was bigger than big, even by today’s standards. People who were into the outdoors loved it because of its seats that turned into a reasonably comfortable double bed, living-room comfort for six adult riders, tornadic ventilation, maximum cruising range, capacious ashtrays, a bag-limit-size trunk and screens for the windows on those car-camping nights. Sound familiar?

My 1/24th scale resin cast I bought a bunch of years ago. This is probably the closest I’ll get to owning the real deal. No rust, oil changes, and zero storage space.

What are they worth now? Original MSRP according to J.D. Power was $2,223, $27,488.82 in today’s market which would still be a lot of car for the money. The average high retail is $25,600, $12,800 on average, and $6,900 low average. This one is most likely on the high end because it had zero rust, especially being here in Wisconsin.

Thanks for stopping by. Tell your friends and check back next week when I’ll have another car spot along with some history about it. Have a great weekend and Happy New Year.

Car Spot: Studebaker Lark and Pickup

One of the last of the independents that just ran out of cash

Being a big fan of the cars from American Motors, I can appreciate what Studebaker brought to market and how they tried to challenge the Big Three. Like AMC, at times they were brilliant, but other times, not so much. In 1939, the company entered the low-priced field with the popular Studebaker Champion, propelling it past the other independents and becoming a major automobile producer, passing Rambler at the time, and making Studebaker the No. 4 auto manufacturer.

In the ’50s Studebakers were considered to be among the most beautiful automobiles ever built. The 1953 Studebaker models were the automaker’s first new designs since 1947, and automotive historians have long agreed that they were great-looking designs. But a series of events led to the company’s downfall.

While the ’53s looked cool, they suffered from quality issues, then there was a sales blitz by Ford in 1954 that hit both Studebaker and Rambler hard, and then in 1960, the Big 3 found the compact car market. Finally, a change in leadership and a difficult union spelled the end for Studebaker, which had started as a carriage and wagon maker.

I’ve heard this story before because it’s almost the same sad ending that American Motors faced. Like AMC, Studebaker had some really cool-looking cars like the early Commander and later the Avanti. For all the issues the cars had, bland styling wasn’t one of them.

Car Trivia: Studebaker sponsored what comedy show? Click here and see if you got the answer correct. Bonus points if you can sing the opening theme song:)

This week’s car spot, a 1965 Commander I found at a Cars and Guitars sponsored by The Automobile Gallery in Green Bay this summer, is an example of how Studebaker didn’t go down swinging. This was Studebaker’s mainstream model and was most likely built in Canada since they stopped building cars in South Bend, Ind., in 1963.

This car has a great story too. It had 15,000 original miles on it when it was purchased by the current owner in 2019. And get this, it was purchased from some nuns in Green Bay who hadn’t driven it in a long time. I’m not making that up.

This is its original paint, It packs a Chevy-sourced 230-cubic-inch six-cylinder, and twin-traction. Like Corvairs and many AMC cars, a Studebaker is a great entry into the collector game. According to Hagerty, one in fair condition should run about $6,400. A cheap way of getting into the game and having a car that will almost always get noticed.

RELATED Spot: The other independent’s wagon, the Rambler Classic Cross Country wagon.

Did you know that Studebaker also made trucks?

From 1929 until 1963 from half-ton all the way up to two-ton. This one I found on a trip up to Appleton, Wis., where I was picking up a project motorcycle. This looks like a late ’40s, or early ’50s model that is up for restoration. The guy also had a Lark that he had plans for. Trucks are more valuable than passenger cars these days. One in good condition according to Hagerty is worth about $18,000. Again, a cheap entry into the collector market.

Thanks for stopping by and checking out our blog. Check back next Friday for another car spot along with some of the history with it. Have a great weekend.

Car spot: AMC’s Javelin hit the mark

It took on the Big 3 and won

I’ll admit that I love American Motors cars. It seemed the company was always swinging for the fence with every new car. And they had to because they never had a big development budget.

Take for example the Javelin. Tardy to the pony car party in 1968. The Mustang started it all followed by the Camaro. Mopar had its Challenger and Barracuda. The first-gen Javelin did well and to prove it had performance chops, AMC took it racing in the Trans-Am series and it did well. Like its competition, you could buy one with a big V-8 and other performance goodies.

The second-gen debuted in 1971. Designed by Richard Teague, this was totally different than its predecessor. Longer, wider, and those hump bulges on each side of the hood. This was one of those designs that were hated or loved. I love it but blogging partner Mark Savage does not. To each his own. While it won the Trans-Am title, the pony cars’ days were numbered.

This second-gen 1974 I found on a trip up to Appleton, WI was the Javelin’s final year. Faced with tougher crash and emissions standards AMC decided to pull the plug. AMC estimated it would take $12 million in engineering and design work to revise the bumpers to meet the 1975 standards so that was it.

The first-gen Javelin sold just over 104,000 units, while the second-gen sold slightly less at just over 97,000 units. The most desirable in the first-gen would be the Mark Donohue and the same with the second-gen.

The plan I’m told for this car is to restore it and replace the 360 V8 in it with a 401. These cars are rapidly rising in collectibility. A 71 Pierre Cardin edition recently sold at a Mecum Auction for over $100,000. Not too long ago they were less than half that. Glad to see people appreciating these cars.

Be sure to check back next Friday for another car spot. And have a great weekend.

Car Spot: Dodge Magnum

A superfast grocery getter …

Show of hands. How many reading this remember station wagons? Most likely it was your parents who purchased one to haul the family around on vacations. We had a 1967 AMC Rebel and went all over the country with it. I remember dad ordering it and opting for the 290 V8. This was the Gen-2 short-deck that produced a respectable 225 hp. That engine was the basis for AMC’s upcoming entry into Trans-Am and the muscle car era. But the words station wagon and muscle car were almost never mentioned in the same breath.

Magnum ad I found for sale on eBay

Fast forward to 2005 when the words came together in the form of the Dodge Magnum. Where, for under $38 grand you could get a people hauler that was capable of 0-60 in less than six seconds, when ordered as the RT version with its 345ci Hemi V8 producing 340 horsepower.

Dodge Magnum I spotted in for service at a shop in Florida when I was visiting

This was the handywork of soon to retire head of design Tom Gale and done before the “merger of equals” with Daimler in 1998. Don’t get me started on that because my dad was there during that fiasco.

Based on the Chrysler LX platform the Magnum RT used the Mercedes-Benz derived 5-speed automatic. It also had fog lights; a bright grille; leather seats, steering wheel, and shifter; and a six-speaker stereo along with four-wheel disc brakes and anti-locks were also part of the deal.

The car sold well and was well-received by the automotive press and in 2005 was one of Car and Driver’s Ten Best. There’s an AMC connection here because it was built in Brampton, Ontario, a plant that AMC had bought just before being purchased by Chrysler in 1987.

Like so many fun cars, this one has a sad ending.

On Nov. 1, 2007, Chrysler announced that, as part of its restructuring plans, the Dodge Magnum would be one of four models discontinued after the 2008 model year. In Chrysler’s words: “The Magnum, along with the PT Cruiser convertible, the Crossfire, and the Pacifica were not earning their keep”. Production ended on March 28, 2008.

I was at a media event just after this and was told by an insider that it was a retiring Chrysler executive who never liked the Magnum that convinced management to pull the plug. There were almost 170,000 of this iteration of the Magnum which is not a bad number when you consider vehicles that have sold less have stuck around a lot longer. Had this vehicle somehow found a fan in the company to save it for a bit longer, there’s almost no way it would still be alive in the current environment where SUVs have taken the place of the station wagon.

But the vehicle has created almost a cult following and you can pick up the RT’s more muscular brother, the SRT8, which had a bigger Hemi and could do 0-60 in just a touch over 5 seconds for under $25 grand.

Be sure to check back next Friday for another one of my car spots and have a great weekend.

Car spotting: America’s other two-seat sports car

This one I know well

The AMX was produced by American Motors from 1968 to 1970 as a two-seat sports car. Its short wheelbase, one inch shorter than the Corvette, and big engines, 290 to 390, V8’s made it a hit for AMC who was a late arrival at the muscle car party. To show it had the chops, Craig Breedlove and his wife set all kinds of land speed records when it was introduced.

Red 1968 AMX I spotted while on my way to Mark’s house.

The American Society of Automotive Engineers named the AMX as the “best-engineered car of the year” in 1969 and 1970. In its three-year run, it sold a total of just under 20,000. It was discontinued by AMC because of tougher crash standards and they didn’t have the money. The AMX rode on as a performance package on various other AMC cars concluding with the Spirit in 1980. I was fortunate to own two AMX’s, a ’70 and ’79 Spirit AMX. The value of the two-seaters continues to rise on the collector market with excellent examples going for around $60,000.

I spotted this clean 1970 while out for a ride. Owner did a great job on the restoration. It had a 390 and 4 speed.
amc, amx
My two AMX’s. 1970 had a 390 V8 while the 1979 a 304.

It ripped up rally racing

It’s light weight and gobs of torque made it an ideal car for rally racing and still is to this day. This AMX was spotted by fellow AMC geek Joe Schliz at the Lake Superior Performance Rally held this past fall near Marquette, MI. This car still has it finishing eigth driven by Tim O’Neil and Constatine Mantopoulos and against competators like Ken Block who came in first. It was sponsored by Team O’Neil Rally School in NH.

My car spots appear on SavageOnWheels.com every Friday. Have a great weekend and keep that phone ready.

Back to a time when American motors built cars worldwide

The Concord with a side of rice and beans

 

France, Germany, Iran, New Zealand, South Africa, and England all at one time manufactured Jeeps, Javelins, Americans, Hornets and more through partnerships put together by AMC’s E-VP, International Operations Roy D. Chapin Jr. One of those unique partnerships was set up about 2,000 south of the company’s major assembly operation, Kenosha, WI, in Mexico with Vehiculos Automotores Mexicanos, S.A.

For 40 years, this government-controlled company imported and produced automobiles and light trucks under license from Willys, AMC, Eagle, Jeep, Chrysler, Renault and designed their own vehicles based on AMC platforms.

One of the more interesting cars they designed and produced was the VAM Lerma, a cross between the Concord and Spirit. It was available as a three-door or a five-door hatchback, something not available on AMC cars built in Kenosha. It was named after Lerma, a city in Mexico where VAM produced engines. This wasn’t just a warmed-over Concord, it featured a different interior and the only element carried over from AMC was the instrument panel. It was focused on the top-end market in Mexico and never exported. While I couldn’t find sales numbers specific to the Lerma, it was a top 10 seller and at one time held a 9% market share.  But when Renault bought into AMC in the mid-eighties they had no interest in building AMC cars in Mexico and the partnership ended.

The Lerma lives on

It’s a 1/43 diecast model of the Lerma manufactured by IXO Models in Hong Kong. Besides this, they make all kinds of hard-to-find cars, motorcycles, and trucks based mostly on non-u.s models.

This one has a ton of miles on it. While it was manufactured in Hong Kong, I bought it off eBay and it came from Spain. That’s a lot more miles than you would see on the real deal. While I knew about VAM because of my dad working at AMC, I had never seen a model until I was poking around on Facebook and found a group of VAM enthusiasts.

The detail on this one that I acquired has amazing details. While the doors, hood, and hatch don’t open, there is a full interior. Exterior details include a hood ornament, simulated glass headlights, windshield wipers, side view mirrors, even the scripted name of the car on the back. I don’t normally collect cars this small because they lack the details of their larger counterparts but would consider any of their cars.

Die-cast: NEO’s 1958 Rambler Cross Country 6

Rambler wagon was economical, so is model …  

Station Wagons were the SUVs and crossovers of years ago, long before we knew to call them anything but wagons.

And there’s some thinking now in the car world that wagons, which behave much more like cars than trucks, may be on the verge of a comeback. Rumor has it that Millennials prefer the lower-riding wagons to the taller SUVs and CUVs of today. We’ll see. Continue reading Die-cast: NEO’s 1958 Rambler Cross Country 6

Die-cast: Jeep CJ-7 Renegade

Model Car Group launches a 1/18 scale Jeep CJ-7 …

Few vehicles are as recognizable as a Jeep, and yet Jeeps have been restyled multiple times since World War II and are now the younger generation’s urban vehicle of choice.

But back in the 1970s (remember those?), the CJ-7 was the cool retro-styled Jeep that outdoorsy folks ached for. Still mostly an open truck, the CJ was mostly utilitarian, but it offered a rugged exterior that everyone could identify as a Jeep. And as they weren’t the trendy wheels of the day, they were somewhat rare on the roads. Continue reading Die-cast: Jeep CJ-7 Renegade

Holy crap, I think that car might have been mine!

My one shot at a collector car

promotional model cars, AMX, AMC, American MotorsCame in 1987 while living in Green Bay. I always kept an eye out in the papers, this was before that interweb thing got big, looking for, well, I wasn’t sure. Then, bingo, a 1970 AMX was for sale in Milwaukee similar to the image of this model I built to remind myself about the experience. I had to have it. Never mind I hadn’t even seen it yet. They seller didn’t want too much for it, $2,500, which should have been a red flag, but I was laser focused. I needed fast cash since I didn’t have that much saved up and this was an impulse purchase so I went to my local bank Continue reading Holy crap, I think that car might have been mine!