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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When just about anybody mentions VW, the first image is probably the bug. Not exactly a family-friendly vehicle and that’s part of the reason VW introduced the Type 3 at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1961. In the U.S. it was to compete with Chevy’s Corvair which hit the market a year earlier. The Type 3 came in three body styles, Notchback, Fastback, and this Squareback (sort of a wagon) that I spotted near Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., on a recent trip.
More than a million of these were manufactured in Germany, Brazil, and Australia until production ended in 1973. What are they worth? I checked on Classic.com and found them just as affordable as the bug ranging from $3,000 all the way up to $43,000 while averaging around $15,000.
No, I do not mean the Batmobile. Outdoor retailer L.L. Bean decided that it needed something to celebrate its 100th anniversary by creating this memorable vehicle. I was stopped at a major intersection not far from my home when I spotted it across from me in the oncoming lane. I could not get my phone up fast enough to grab this picture and I’m sure that’s the thought behind it.
The Bootmobile is 20.5 feet long, 7.5 feet wide, 13 feet tall, and of course, street legal. The base vehicle is a Ford F-250a Super Duty Power Stroke with a fiberglass body. What size would this be in real life? Picture a man that’s 143 feet tall.
What normal car person doesn’t turn their head when they see a Ferrari? I had one drive right up to me this past summer while working at Ironwood Golf Course in Wisconsin. My duties at bag drop for a charity golf outing were put on hold as I grabbed my phone to take these pictures. All my co-workers know what a car geek I am and laughed as I started drooling. I mean first, it was a Ferrari and second, a California.
Introduced in 2008, it’s powered by a front-mid-mounted 4.3-liter V8. Later models were powered by a twin-turbo 3.9-liter V8. I have to be honest with you, I’m not sure what year this was. Forgot to ask. This car incorporates a bunch of Ferrari firsts:
First front-engined Ferrari with a V8
First to feature a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission
First hardtop convertible with a folding metal roof
First with a multi-link rear suspension
First with direct fuel injection
As far as I could find there were not a lot of these built each year, less than 1,500, which makes them rare, even rarer for one to have made its way to Wisconsin.
Have a great weekend and come back next Friday for another Wisconsin car spot.
Most of us think of the performance-based Mustangs targeted towards the youth market yet there was one that took a different direction, the upscale Grande. Produced from 1969 to 1973 it was only available as a hardtop. It had tons of options, 45 to be exact, which was a lot at the time and included “Comfortweave” hopsack upholstery, extra-thick carpet on the floorboards, two-tone narrow stripes, faux woodgrain dashboard, padded interior side panels, racing-style mirrors, chrome rocker panel moldings, and wire-style wheel covers.
Ford also gave drivers the option to order any Mustang engine for the Grande, even including the 428 Cobra Jet V8. This option drove up the price significantly, especially combined with the more elegant Grande package. That said, any surviving Grandes with miscellaneous engines have become very collectible, and only 62 Grandes were built with a 428 Cobra Jet in 1969. Hagery lists an average price for all four years of production at around $12,000 with almost $30,000 for a Concours level example making it a very affordable collectible like this one.
My car spots appear every Friday here on SavageOnWheels.com. Be sure to check back and keep your phone out and ready to snap that next great spot. Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
During the summer months, I work part-time at Ironwood Golf Course, a short drive from where I live. The area is a haven for cool cars like this Chevy SS, produced from 2014-2017. While this might look like just another four-door sedan, it will beat a ton of cars while doing it with less cash.
GM had to do little in the way of development for this car because it was a rebadged Holden Commodore. GM owned Holden at the time but later pulled out of the Australian market ceasing operations just last year. Too bad because Holden turned out some really badass cars.
This family sedan was only offered with a 6.2-liter V8 engine putting out 415 horsepower. It can with a six-speed manual or automatic and could do 0-60 in under 5 seconds. Inside It had ample seating for five and came standard with leather seats that were embroidered and luxuriously stitched all for just $45,000. Should have sold GM’s projected 12,000-15,000 units a year but this is GM you’re talking about. They only sold around 3,000. Why? Never advertised the car. You can still buy one today but don’t expect any deals. Now they are in demand and expect to pay close to what they retailed at.