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→
This coming Father’s Day will be my first without my dad as he passed away February 14th. At his funeral, I did the eulogy, and after rewriting it a couple of times, decided to go with a car theme comparing his qualities to the window sticker on a car, one produced by American Motors where he worked for 27 years.
While going through pictures to display at his funeral, I found a bunch with the cars that were part of growing up. It also jogged my memory of things we did, or places we went over the years that I will fondly remember like the following.
Traveling to Kenosha for the American Motors Owners Association homecoming event where there were hundreds of Nash, Rambler, and AMC cars that were built there over the years. We never did buy a car but did purchase rare promotional model cars we were missing from our collections.
When I was in high school nearby the AMC National Parts Distribution Center, I would come and meet dad for my ride home. Many times he was tied up in some meeting so I would head down to the Tech Center and see what cars they had in torn apart, many times seeing AMC cars that were a year or so from production. It was the tech service guys that gave me a manual to help me figure out how to install an engine in my 1970 AMX after blowing up the 390 that came with it. Those tech guys were great!
Dad was also there when i decided to hop up my 1972 Gremlin by replacing the exhaust manifold with high performance headers. How’d that work out? Not so good.
When AMC sponsored Mark Donahue’s Trans-Am Javelin and raced at Road America in the early 70’s, the Chicago Zone Office chartered busses for employees and set up a tent by turn 14. We always made the trip. It was so much fun. We’d get a ride on the track in a Javelin and Roger Penske and Donahue would swing by the tent to sign autographs. I grabbed this flag from the event one year and today display it on my slot car track which is a replica of Road America.
Related: Read about my blogging partner, Mark Savage, and our recent trip to Road America.
Until dad had problems getting around, we would spend a day up in Oshkosh at the Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture event. He loved seeing the WWII vintage aircraft he was familiar with having served in the army during that time.
Fond memories. Happy Father’s Day dad. I be thinking about you.
Came 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!→
For those of you who have not read my posts before, I love Jeeps! My love affair began in 1970 when American Motors purchased The Jeep Corporation from Kaiser Industries. My dad worked for AMC at the time at its National Parts Distribution Center in Milwaukee, WI. so now I would receive employee pricing on Jeeps. Dad was the first family member to hop on when he purchased a Cherokee Wagoneer in 1988 exactly like the one in the picture. This wasn’t the larger SJ version but the XJ built on the new Cherokee platform introed by AMC in 1984 and over its 17-year run, just under three million were sold. This was ground-breaking stuff at the time essentially kicking off the SUV segment. Later on, mom wanted something easier to get in and out of and he sold this Jeep to me. That started a relationship that would last a very long time. Continue reading Jeepless for the 1st time in 30 years and the quest for 71 inches→
Originally I was not a big Dodge Charger or American Motors Marlin fan. Both were too radical in their fastback designs for me. I preferred the Plymouth Baracuda and Ford’s Mustang 2+2.
But by 1968 the second generation Charger looked racier to me and in 1969 Dodge launched the Charger 500 to help it better compete in NASCAR with the likes of Ford’s Torino Talladega and Mercury Cyclone models. The 500 was a limited edition, of (you guessed it) 500, which allowed it to meet NASCAR production standards, back in the day when the racers really were stock cars, or based on them. Continue reading Die-cast: Auto World’s 1969 Dodge Charger 500→
I had never heard of this before my dad gave me a book to read “The Cars of American Motors”, by Marc Cranswick, McFarland Publishing. The “this” were not the Pacers that rolled off the assembly line in Kenosha, WI. I had one, just like this, a 1975 with a 258. My buddies and I tailgate with this at Milwaukee Brewer games and made a trip to Cleveland in it to visit a friend going to John Carroll University. Side note: Bob Hope was the commencement speaker. What fun. Named it the Astrodome or Astro for short. Later I sold it to my buddy who went to school in Cleveland after he graduated. Sorry Joe but it was good when I had it. The AMC Pacer was built between 1975 and 1980 and was the first modern mass-produced, U.S. automobile design using the cab forward concept. AMC marketed it as “the first wide small car.” Later in the production run a 304 V8 was an option.
Before I reveal what they are, I want to get a couple of things out there. I love cars, some that get great mileage, some of them are small, and some of them are unusual designs. This comes from a guy who drove a Gremlin and a Pacer which by the way are no longer manufactured. However, a Gremlin X with a 304 and Levi’s interior is a popular collector car since they are difficult to find in good shape. I’ve seen some for sale in the $20,000 range. I know you’re probably thinking, a guy who lives in a glass house….. you will for sure once I get rolling on the list so here goes. Continue reading 5 cars that will never be classics…→
I love American Motors’ products. Part of my sickness comes from my dad working for the company. Sure they had the clunkers but also had some cool cars. Dad brought home tons of stuff and now it’s time to thin things out a bit.
My collection includes full-line catalogues mostly from the 70’s and 80’s. Dad would bring them home, I’d page through them and throw them in a box. I even have some super-rare Press Kits.
My promo model collects has a little bit of everything. What I’m offering up are a couple of Javelins, AMX’s, and an Ambassador still with the hood ornament on it. Rare. So check out this micro site I put up and then let’s talk.
I daydream a lot about “if money was no object” and I had a place to store them (like Jay Leno’s Garage) what five cars would I own. Of course I’d want more but in this blog entry decided to stick with five. So here you go.
I admit this is an emotional pick because I had one of these. It was my first entry into restoring cars and turned out to be a disaster. The engine blew up on me, there were holes in the floor pan and the back sail panels were mostly Bondo. I call it my $1,500 lesson. Ouch. But more on the car.
The AMX was built by American Motors from 1968-1970. Since it was a two-seater the only other car like it was the Corvette. This was one of AMC’s entries in the muscle car era although also classified sports car and touring car. It was available with a massive 390 V8 and one version pumped out and incredible 420 hp! I picked this year because I had one and it was the last and was built in small numbers, around 2,000 making it the most collectible of the AMX’s. A really good one right now would go for around 25 grand.
1963 split-window Corvette
I love all Corvettes so it was tough to narrow it down to just one. I picked the ’63 because these are rare finds now since they only made them that one year. Legend has it that Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov never liked the split rear window because it blocked rear vision, but Bill Mitchell thought it to be a key part of the entire design. In the end Duntov won out and it was gone the next year. This was also the first year when they began designating them Sting Rays. According to Hagerty’s price guide, a split-window Z06 (big tank) with the 327cid/360hp F1 L84 will dent you for $335,000. But wait, money is no object, right?
1969 Camero SS
This was the last year of the first-generation Cameros. Remember, Ford had already beaten Chevy to the gun with the Mustang. Chrysler and AMC also fielded entries. I picked the SS version because of the power option, an 8-cyl. 396cid/375hp 4bbl L89. Wheeee, that’s a lot of juice under the hood. Parts for 1967-69 Camaros are limited only by the restorer’s checkbook. But then again, who cares in this case. The one I would have is currently valued at 107 grand. This of course for your insurance.
1962-63 Studebaker Avanti
Studebaker positioned this as “America’s Only 4 Passenger High-Performance Personal Car!”. It sure was. Equiped with it’s 289 cid/240 hp V8, it was a screamer. A Paxton supercharger was offered as an option and many of these Avantis went on to break Bonneville speed records. Twenty nine of them with the fastest with a Paxton almost 200 mph while a stock one 168 mph!
Maybe it’s because I like the underdogs I like this car but it’s bold new styling was not enough to save Studebaker as it shut down its South Bend, IN plant in 1963. I also like the rarity. The ’62 model had about 1,200 come off the line while the ’63 had slightly less than 4,600. With these low numbers I thought the Avanti would command a six figure price, instead found them around $20,000 (for insurance purposes) and the supercharged ones around $60,000.
1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider
I struggled for the last spot for a while because there are lots of cars I would have, if I could. This time I decided to hit it out of the park with one of the rarest of the rare Ferraris, a 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider, one of only ten made. This is not the same model that appeared in the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. That was a 250 GT California. Why this? It’s a Ferrari and just recently set an auction world-record for a non-race car going for…wait for it…$27.5 in Los Angeles this past August!
I know there are lots of more expensive cars I could have put on the list but these are the cars I had an a certain coolness factor. What is your top five car list? Let’s start the discussion.