So I pull up to grab some beer at a local convenience store and right next to me is this cool-looking Rolls, or I thought it was until I spotted the Bentley B on it. An image search shows it being a Bentley S1, this week’s car spot.
This is one of just 3,538 produced between 1955 and 1959. Not sure what year since they all look about the same. I wasn’t far off in thinking this was a Rolls because the S1 was derived from the Silver Cloud. Powered by a 4.9 L straight-6 a British magazine was able to get it to go 0-60 in just over 13 seconds and a top speed of 103. Not bad for a car riding on a 123-inch wheelbase. A 4-speed automatic transmission was standard.
Back in 1957, the car tested in the speed run cost £6305, $7,223.29 in USD and adjusted for inflation $78,585.34 now. What are they worth? 1955s average from $133.000 to $332,000. In the next two years, they really jump in price. Ones in mint condition have sold at auction anywhere from $1.6M to $1.8M but the average prices are in the mid $60s. That’s pretty wild and plus one ended up here in Wisconsin.
Just in case you couldn’t tell, I have a soft spot for the cars and Jeeps made by American Motors Corp. Maybe it was because my dad worked there for 17 years starting in 1963 and ending just after Chrysler bought AMC. Not sure why he did, because his dad was into Chevys and my mom’s dad was a Pontiac and Hudson salesman. It was just something about a certain pluckiness of the company that would almost always come up with something the other manufacturers weren’t offering.
Did you know that at one time AMC was No. 3 in sales, ahead of Chrysler? Part of that was because of the station wagons they produced, like this week’s car spot, a 1961 Rambler Classic Cross Country I found on a car lot in Johnson Creek, Wis.
In 1961, the redesigned Classic Cross Country wagons were among the most popular station wagons in the land and Rambler moved nearly 82,000 of them that year pushing them into the No. 3 sales spot with a car that had not seen much change since 1956. Studebaker, still selling cars, was fifth.
Among the things that made the Classic such a value was its standard engine, the 195.6 Inline Six. Not as powerful as Chrysler’s 225 Slant Six, but with up to 138 hp from the 2-barrel version it got the job done. Better than Ford’s anemic Falcon Thriftmaster or the Lark’s Skybolt, which tended to blow its head gasket.
This almost always happened though, throughout AMC’s history, the other manufacturers out-engineered the company, this time with their magic door gates and Vista Cruisers. The ride was over. AMC would slip to No. 4 until Chrysler bought the firm in 1987.
Bob Lutz is one of my all-time favorite car guys. He brought so much to the automotive world in fun cars like this week’s spot, the Dodge Viper.
Looking to create a modern-day Cobra, the first prototype was tested in January 1989 and went on sale in January 1992 as the RT/10 Roadster. This car was all business when it came to performance. The heart of the beast was a V10 based on Chrysler’s LA V8 and designed with the help of Lamborghini, which was then owned by Chrysler Corp. The engine weighed just 712 lbs. and was rated at 400 hp. The SR I version could accelerate from 0–62 mph in 4.2 seconds, 100 mph in 9.2 seconds, and ran the quarter mile in 12.6 seconds, hitting 113.8 mph. It’s maximum speed was nearly 165 mph. Viper had large tires that allowed the car to average close to one lateral g in corners. However, with no driver aids like traction control the car proved tricky to drive at high speeds, particularly for the unskilled driver. All this fun only set a very enthusiastic owner back $52,000.
The first Vipers were bare-bones performance cars. They had no exterior-mounted door handles or key cylinders and no air conditioning. The roof was made from canvas, and the windows were made from vinyl using zippers to open and close, much like a Jeep Wrangler.
Viper did have some creature comforts, like manually-adjustable leather-trimmed sport bucket seats with lumbar support, an AM/FM stereo, a cassette player with clock and a high-fidelity sound system, and interior carpeting. Aluminum alloy wheels, and a lightweight fiberglass roof was optional on later models. An adjustable performance suspension was also an option for most Vipers.
The car was an immediate hit giving the Dodge brand some much-needed juice among enthusiasts and the automotive press. Its popularity overshadowed the recent failure of Lee Iacocca’s pet car, the TC, which had cost five times as much to develop.
In 1996 Dodge introduced the Viper GTS, a new coupé version of the Viper RT/10. Dubbed the “double bubble”, the roof featured slightly raised sections that looked like bubbles to accommodate the usage of helmets and taking major design cues from the Shelby Daytona designed by Peter Brock. More than 90% of the GTS was new compared with the RT/10. It came with the same 8.0 L; 487.6 cu in V10, but power was upped to 450 hp/490 lb.-ft. of torque. This was also the first Viper to be equipped with airbags and also included air conditioning, power windows, and power door locks standard. That year it also was chosen as the pace car for the Indianapolis 500.
All this fun came to an end when the Fiat Chrysler group announced the Viper would end production in 2017 due to flagging sales. Also contributing to the axing was that the car was unable to comply with federal safety regulations, requiring side curtain airbags.
What are these worth now? Somewhere around $100K like this one that I saw at a dealership in Southcentral Wisconsin. This Viper looked to be ignored for quite some time as yup, those spots you see all over it are bird shit. What a way to treat an automotive icon, especially if you expect to get top dollar for it.
It’s so sad as next year there will be no V8s available in Dodge cars and trucks thanks to our government which has managed to suck all the fun out of performance vehicles by insisting on electric cars. I’m not happy at all with EVs.
Should a car be restored to factory specs or brought back to life as a restomod? I can go either way. This week’s car spot, a 1969 Dodge Charger, is a Resto Mod. I found this at the same car show in Oconto, Wis., where I spotted the earlier Corvair Greenbriar.
Charger was introduced by Dodge in 1966 positioned as an upscale, upsized pony car. It had an uncanny resemblance to American Motors’ Marlin, which debuted one year earlier, just not the extreme fastback. The Marlin however was positioned as a personal car, an emerging market niche at the time.
This is a second-gen Charger which I think looks way cooler. Redesigned for 1968, and Dodge thought they’d only sell 35,000 units but the public loved the redesign and 96,100 Chargers were produced. The second-gen is based on the Chrysler B platform and saw various cosmetic changes to the exterior and interior including an undivided grill, rounded taillights, and hidden headlights.
Available engines were a 225 cu in, 1bbl I6, although why somebody would order that on this car is beyond me; a 318 cu in, 2bbl LA V8; a 383 cu in, 2bbl B V8; a 383 cu in, 4bbl B V8; a 426 cu in, 2×4bbl Hemi V8; and a 440 cu in, 4bbl RB V8.
So what’s something like this worth? I found a bunch of them for anywhere from $90-100K, more than an original restored one with a 383, but that’s way less than the higher horsepower ones, like the 440s. They go for around a buck 50.
Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check back next week for another one of my car spots along with some history behind the find. Have a great weekend.
The Chevy Camaro was second on the scene in the pony car era debuting on Sept. 29, 1966, for the 1967 model year a bit after the Ford Mustang. Four distinct generations of the Camaro have been developed before production ended for the first time in 2002. Chevy brought it back as a concept car that evolved into the current fifth-generation Camaro starting in 2009. What I love about it is that it’s pretty much a blank canvas when it comes to performance mods. This week’s car spot is. a great example, a 2022 Callaway Camaro SC750 I saw near our daughter’s apartment in Monona, WI.
Started by former race car driver Reeves Callaway in 1977, Callaway Cars, the company has evolved into a revered specialist manufacturer. It all started when Callaway installed a turbo compression and other components into a BMW 320i. Car & Driver magazine tested the modified BMW and the next thing he knew that PR gave him his start.
Callaway started by making turbo kits for cars made by Audi, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Porsche, and Volkswagen. In 1986 he added the Corvette. In 2017, Callaway took the already powerful ZL1 and raised the power from 650 horsepower and 650 lb.-ft. of torque to 750 horsepower and 739 lb.-ft. of torque, removed the standard blower and replaced it with a Gen III Magnuson TVS 2300 with a triple row intercooler. Callaway also added a high-flow intake system and high-performance exhaust which gave it extra horsepower.
What made the big difference was Callaway’s GenThree Supercharger system matched to the proprietary TripleCooled intercooler setup. It produces more horsepower and torque than any other mass-produced muscle car. With a top speed of 198 mph and 0-60 in 3.5 seconds, it’s no wonder the SC750 is one of the fastest Camaros on the market today doing 0-60 in just 3.3 seconds. That beats the Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye by .3 seconds.
So what will all this fun cost an adrenalin junkie? I’m one!
At a reasonable $81,830 that includes the engine upgrades, all kinds of suspension upgrades and either a six-speed manual or 10-speed automatic. By comparison a Redeye is slightly less at $76,430, but that price is going to go way up with the end of the line coming soon for Dodge’s V8 engines.
It’s sad really. Remember back in the late ’60s and early ’70s? It was the golden age for pony cars. The Ford Mustang started it all, the Camero, Pontiac Firebird, Dodge Challenger, Plymouth Barracuda, and AMC Javelin all followed.
Next year Dodge and Chevy are scheduled to end production of the Challenger and Camero. Why? Because of this push for EVs. I am not a fan!
Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check back next week for another spot along with some history. Have a great weekend.