Tag Archives: Car Spots

Car Spot: 2nd gen Z28 Camaro

Iconic pony car took on the Mustang

The late 60s and early 70s were great times in the auto industry because it was all about American muscle. Ford had just launched the Mustang to kick off the pony car era and Chevy followed up with its answer, the Camaro. It first went on sale on September 29, 1966, for the 1967 model year. It was code-named Panther but in keeping with Chevy starting the name of every vehicle with the letter C, named Camaro. Automotive press asked Chevrolet product managers, “what is a Camaro?” and were told it was “a small, vicious animal that eats Mustang.

The Z28 was created at launch by Camaro to make them a force in SCCA’s Trans-AM series and that time from 69-72 was really its golden era.

RELATED: Read Paul’s post about racing Trans-Am on a budget.

This is a 1970-ish Z28 that I spotted in a garage while helping my daughter move into her new apartment. She actually saw the car first.

This is a second-gen Camaro that was totally different than the one it replaced. It featured a new Z28 engine that was essentially the same as a Corvette LT-1. But because in Chevy world the Corvette has to be the big dog the engine was rated at ten less horsepower (360 vs. 370), while torque ratings were the same (380 lb-ft). This one looks like a project that is close to completion, still missing the turn signals, front bumperettes, rear bumper, and tail lights. Definitely ready to race though with the wide-body flairs, spoiler, four-speed, and roll bars. I think it might make a great autocross car.

A quick check on Hemmings found these cars to be affordable selling for the mid-40s. Too bad the Camaro goes away in 2024 and be replaced by a four-door electric car. I call them toasters. What a wasted opportunity. Check back next Friday for another car spot and have a great weekend.

RELATED: Read Paul’s argument on why this rush to electric cars is crazy.

Car Spot: This Midget was a King

Billed as the World’s Most Exciting Small Car

Just after World War II ended the car business was booming. All those GI’s coming home wanting something new and/or cool to drive. Claud Dry and Dale Orcutt cashed in on that and created the King Midget in 1946. For a time, their company, Midget Motors Corporation was the sixth-largest auto manufacturer. The car was built until 1970. I spotted this at a recent car show in town.

The Model 3 was sold fully assembled, and advertised in magazines like Popular Mechanics and Mechanix Illustrated. It was powered by a rear-mounted, air-cooled, one-cylinder Wisconsin or Kohler engine making 9.2 or 12 horsepower mated to a two-speed automatic transmission. It has a fully independent suspension and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. It gets around 50 mpg and had a top speed of about the same. The 177-inch runabout rides on eight-inch wheels. The car ranged in price from just under $900 up to a bit over $1,000 during its 13-year run. If you’re looking to get into the old car hobby, this is a great entry point. According to NADA pricing, today’s low and high values are $4,300 to $13,000. This car reminds me of Corvairs and VW Beatles in that their smiles per gallon factor are huge.

RELATED POST: See my story about one of the last VW Beatle Convertibles.

Be sure to check back next Friday when I’ll have another car spot. Have a great weekend.

Car Spot: It set the bar for luxo SUV

The Jeep Grand Wagoneer is still grand

I’m a huge Jeep guy. I’ve driven and/or owned them for over 30 years. My love affair began when I was fresh out of school TV news reporter in Cedar Rapids, IA and I drove was a 1977 Cherokee Chief (SJ). The other TV stations only had passenger cars so if there was any snow on the ground or any reason to go off-road (sometimes I made them up) they were left behind. My love affair was solidified because my dad worked for American Motors who bought Jeep in 1970 and besides Hornets, Javelins, Matadors, and Gremlins, there were Jeeps in the driveway. The one I remember most was a Grand Wagoneer similar to the one pictured below.

Photo: Jeep

AMC decided to take the Grand Waggy (as it’s affectionately known by fans) and open an entirely new market, luxury SUV’s. So they took this aging platform that had been around since the 60s and loaded it up. It was introduced in 1984. Most examples were powered by AMC’s 360 V-8 and later 401 a 5.9-liter V-8 good for 140 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive, power everything including the rear tailgate window, leather all around, and carpeting you could bury your toes in. The asking price for all of this was just under $19,000. Just think what that buys you now. Pretty much a tin can with wheels. Nobody in the market had anything like this and its sales were solid but all this fun came to an end after Chrysler purchased AMC in 1987 and discontinued the Grand Waggy in 1991.

This 1987 lives at the Automobile Gallery in Green Bay, WI, and is run by friend Darrel Burnett. It was purchased by founder William “Red” Lewis. It is beyond mint-like most of the cars Red bought and are displayed in the museum. There is not a spot of rust on it and the interior looks just like the day Red took delivery.

Today, even with the intro of the new Grand Wagoneer, it remains in a class of one and is being rediscovered by a new generation of fans. You can find these all over places like BaT ranging in prices from the mid-20s to 50 ish. Some are commanding crazy six-figure pricing at the auctions.

RELATED VIDEO: See my first impression of the new Grand Wagoneer.

I got the bug after seeing this example. I tried to buy it off Darrel but Darrell politely declined. He told me others have asked too. I started doing some research and found that by buying an affordable one you can later sell it without losing money.

RELATED POST: See the other classic Jeep at the museum.

Ah but found it’s probably not a good daily driver. It gets crappy gas mpg, around 10, and the carbureted engine is sometimes finicky. Because of that many are converted to fuel injection. Still, with all of its quirkiness, I want one of these badly. Dealbreaker is my wife who won’t drive a car without all the safety stuff they have on vehicles now.

The Jeep Grand Wagoneer may have demonstrated the extreme profitability of the luxo-truck concept, but with a few exceptions, it remains in a class of one. Unduplicated even decades later, it is now being rediscovered by a new generation of fans seeking a classic respite from the same/same people movers sitting on dealer lots across the country.

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

Car Spot: The ultimate ride for a Green Bay Packer Fan

You can look but not touch this one.

Green Bay Packer fans are the best in the NFL. Sure, I’m biased since I am one but they/we are not ashamed to show our pride for the green and gold. One thing we love to do is tailgate before a game and this 1958 Chevy Pickup is a great example of what it’s all about. So much so, it’s on display at the Packer Hall of Fame.

This pickup was fully restored by a local car dealer donated to the Hall of Fame. It’s a 1958 3100 pickup that rolled off the assembly line in Baltimore, MD equipped with a 235 cubic inch 6 and puts out 145 hp. In the day that was pretty good. As a tribute to the team, it is dressed in Polar Green. Go Pack Go!

Be sure to check back on Friday as I’ll share a new car spot. Have a great weekend.

Car Spotting: 2019 Ford GT

One of 50

Show of hands. How many of you have seen the movie Ford vs. Ferarri? That’s part of the reason behind the creation of this special edition 2019 Ford GT. As if they’re not special enough, right? This one was built to commemorate the 1968 LeMans race where a Ford GT in Gulf colors won the race. This one I spotted while on vacation in Florida. The owner also owns the previous model Ford GT. Lucky guy.

When he was chosen by Ford to be able to purchase it, yup, you need to apply before you can even buy it, it set him back around $600,000. Now they go for around 1.3 Mil. Oh, and I forgot to mention that Ford makes the owner sign an agreement that they will not sell it for two years after purchase.

RELATED VIDEO: Paul takes a lap in a Ford GT at Road America.

This Heritage Edition features the 647 HP twin-turbo V6, 7-speed dual-clutch transaxle, top speed of 216 and will go 0-60 in about three seconds. Imagine that. Going fast and looking cool all at the same time. I’m down with that.

Check back each Friday as I feature a cool car I spotted out and about.

Car Spotting: A wagon as big as a whale

It was the master of the road in its time

I don’t know about you but when I was a kid we always had two cars and one of them was a station wagon. One I remember was a 1967 AMC Rebel. Mom and dad loaded us all up and we went on epic trips, Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore, the World’s Fair in New York, and tons of other places. Station wagons are pretty much ignored now. SUVs and minivans have taken their place.

I spotted a monster of a wagon the other day, this Buick Roadmaster. Manufactured from 1991 to 1996, everything about it was big. Its wheelbase was 115.9 inches, and its total length was 220 inches making it one of the largest vehicles ever built. As a frame of reference, the new Jeep Wagoneer’s wheelbase is larger yet at 123 inches, but total length is a bit shorter at 215.

To get that massive amount of steel moving it was powered by a Chevy 5.0-liter L03 V8. and since that wasn’t enough, it was replaced a year later with a 180 hp 5.7-liter small-block L05 V8. But that still wasn’t enough and in 1994 it received a modified dual-exhaust version of the advanced Corvette-derived 5.7-liter sequential point fuel-injection LT1 V8, increasing output to 260 hp. That’s the same engine used in the Impala SS, Chevrolet police interceptors, Cadillac Fleetwood, Corvette C4, Camaro Z-28, and Firebird Trans-AM.

You gotta love the vista roof and the fake wood paneling on this behemoth. Built on GM’s B-body, the last of these rolled off the Arlington, Texas, assembly line in December of 1996.

Be sure to check out my other car spots and check out my new ones published each Friday.

Car Spotting: Jeep Gladiator’s Great Great Grandpa

Enjoying retirement in Florida

Florida is a great place to see classic cars since the weather is great. No salt on the roads means that a car can have a very long life. Take for example this Willys Jeep I spotted on a recent trip. As best I can tell, it began life as a pickup or wagon and was later converted to this flatbed. It has some restomoding but otherwise looks original. I couldn’t help but notice the shift knob that looks like it came from an AMC.

They were manufactured in the U.S. from 1946 to 1964, with production in Argentina and Brazil continuing until 1970 and 1977 respectively. They were the first mass-market all-steel station wagons designed and built as passenger vehicles. There were over 300,000 wagons and variants built in the U.S. It was one of Willys’ most successful post-World War II models.

It looks as if this Jeep’s tour of duty might be over as right now it spends the bulk of its time in front of a bar/restaurant on Matlacha Island located about an hour north of Ft. Myers, FL.

This Jeep lives in a northern clime but has never been on the roads during the winters. This 1950 Jeepster I discovered on a recent trip to The Automobile Gallery in Green Bay, WI. This is a fascinating place to visit and it’s run by my former TV boss and fellow car geek Darrel Burnett.

This Jeepster, and hundreds more vehicles, are part of a collection of Wm “Red” Lewis. Like all of the cars he owned, this one looks as if it just came off the assembly line in Toledo. 20,000 were produced from 1948 to 1950 but only 5,845 in its last year. For those looking for an entry into the collector car scene, these are very affordable going for around $20,000 and a blast to drive in the summer. And no, it’s not for sale. I already worked Darrel over on that. Be sure to check out my other car spots. A new one is added on Fridays.

How I came to be the temporary caretaker of a rare VW Convertible

Just sort of fell into it

When you think about all the cars that were made since the history of cars, there’s one that just about guarantees a smile every time you see one, the VW Beetle. I’m talking about the original Type 1 Beatle, not the most recent version that just went out of production. The subject of the one in this blog entry is a 1979 Convertible.

Mint 1979 VW Convertible

The one that got away

If you’re any kind of car geek like me, you remember your first car, or one you owned very early on and wish you had again. Mine was a 1970 AMX in this case Dan Chaudoir’s was this Beatle. Like any good dad, put his family first so had to let one like this go to put bread on the table and sold it. Flash forward to last year and Dan lets me know that he’s looking for another ’79 convertible Florida Blue just like this one. I found several of them but none were really in great shape and the one was located in Finland. Go figure, drop-top in a cold climate. Not that Wisconsin isn’t. The hunt was on.

Related: This might have been Paul’s 1970 AMX

I had kind of forgotten about the search for a while when a got a call from Dan who had found one in Florida not in Florida Blue but in Nepal Orange. Of course, there’s a story behind this. He had found it originally on Bring A Trailer but it had been sold. He left his contact information with the seller in case things didn’t work out on the sale. You guessed it, he got the call because the sale fell through. So Dan does the deal and arranges for transportation from Jacksonville to Fort Meyers.

Dan’s VW in Door County

The Beetle led a very charmed life. It was part of a collection in a museum in South Carolina for 13 years and then sold to the collector that Dan bought it from. It had just over 12,000 miles. This bug is cherry and all original. The body has no dents or scratches and the paint looks like it just came off the showroom floor. The chrome and other brightwork are also in excellent shape. The interior has no rips or tears and the rubber isn’t even cracked.

A pristine interior

Mechanically it is sound. All U.S. Beetle Convertibles in 1979 featured a 1,584-cc horizontally opposed, OHV four-cylinder engine. With Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection, the air-cooled engine was rated at 48 horsepower at 4,200 rpm when new. The engine looks new. The four-speed manual is in great shape too. I remember Dan taking me for a ride in it and warning me of the neck bending acceleration. I’m kidding. It goes 0-60 when it’s ready.

Like new engine.

1979 was the last full year for the VW Beetle in the U.S. and VW built 1,156,455 vehicles in 1979 but only 10,681 were Super Beetle cabriolets sold in the U.S. Production. It listed at $6800 and today has become a fairly collectible car. According to Hagerty prices range from #4 Fair: $9900, #3 Good: $17,200, #2 Excellent: $44,500, and #1 Concours: $62,000. Hagerty defines Concours as “the best in the world. The visual image is of the best vehicle, in the right colors, driving onto the lawn at the finest Concours. Perfectly clean, the vehicle has been groomed down to the tire treads. Painted and chromed surfaces are mirror-like. Dust and dirt are banned, and the materials used are correct and superbly fitted. The one-word description for #1 vehicles is “Concours.” With very little effort this big could fall into that category. Dan even kept the original tires although it rides on new ones now. Just recently on Hemmings this Florida Blue Convertible with just 94 miles (that is not a typo) sold for$65,625.

Photo: Hemmings

How I became caretaker

Dan took delivery of the car in mid-July and drove it around his summer home in Sturgeon Bay, WI but unfortunately did not get much time to enjoy is as he passed away in October of last year.

Dan with the top down at his place in Florida

I’m not exactly why his wife Jody chose me to be the caretaker but am happy to do it. Maybe it’s because I Iove classic cars or maybe I’m the only one she knows that can drive a manual transmission.

Related: Read about the VW fleet in Oshkosh

I drove it down from Sturgeon Bay to Jody’s home in Grafton with my daughter Meg last Fall abiding by Dan’s wish, taking the scenic route, and not going over 60 mph. In some ways, this car is like Jeep Wranglers and older CJ’s because there was always a smile when I stopped for gas or was passed on the highway.

Grandpa meets one of the kids at a pit stop along the way home

What happens next? The VW is spending the winter in a heated garage in Wisconsin. When the weather warms up and salt on the roads gets washed away I will drive it to its summer home in Door County, an area just north of Green Bay where it will enjoy top-down days just like Dan would have wanted it to.

Car Spotting: One of one Mercury

Automotive icon steps in to make it happen

The Mercury Park Lane was a full-sized automobile that produced by the Mercury division of Ford Motor Company. It was the flagship of the Mercury model line upon its introduction. Typical of the big cars in the mid-60’s, long wheelbase, nicely appointed interior, and a big V-8. While it would easily keep up with traffic, it wasn’t really a speed demon. Except for this example.

John Kroll went to his local Lincoln-Mercury in Escanaba, MI, looking to take a Park Lane to the next level. Starting with the top-of-the-line Park Lane S55, he wanted it equipted with the Special Police Interceptor Package. Beyond the upgrades to the chassis and suspension, it included a Super High-Performance 428 V-8 with 400+ horsepower. An engine normally found in Cobras and Mustangs. The dealer sent the order along only to have it cancelled by Ford saying that the package is only available to police departments.

Not to be denied John picked up the phone and called Detroit to find out the reason for the order being cancelled. He made his case and it got sent up the line, way up the line. The next voice he heard was Lee Iacocca, yup Lido himself, asking if he could help John with something. Iacocca told John his order was cancelled because Ford Motor Company didn’t make Police Specials in 2-door hardtops with bucket seats and especially for civilians. But John persisted and on March 22nd of 1966 took delivery of the only car of its kind in the world with the Special Police Interceptor Package!

This car is located at The Automotive Gallery in Green Bay, WI. Oh, and just happens to be run by fellow car geek Darrel Burnett. My car spots run every Friday so check back next week to read about another interesting car I found.

Its mother was an S-10 Blazer

Supercool Rodster

I love unusual cars. Maybe that’s why I like AMC cars so much. They tend to attract me. So I was at this car show in Florida recently where there were all kinds of cool Corvettes, Ford GTs, and even a 1970 AMX. But it was this Rodster that caught my eye. It’s called the Cruisin’ Machine and it’s a kit car.

The Rodster is the brainchild of Henry Caroselli, a talented designer with a background in award-winning advertising work for the Mazda RX-7, the Miata, and a stint at the Magic Kingdon. His intent with the Rodster was to design a cruisin’ machine with several styling traits of historic automobilia and place it on a stout, modern chassis that would make the build easy and make the finished car reliable and dependable and a drive-anywhere looker. The kit costs $3,999 and includes all the body parts and interior. The builder just needs to acquire a Chevy/GMC S-10 Blazer/Jimmy. If you like to build, this one is for you. It’s certainly something you don’t see every day.