Tag Archives: Chevrolet

Car Spot: Chevy SSR

A craft vehicle from Chevy that never took off

In the early 2000’s it seems that just about every manufacturer was into the retro movement. There was the Mini Cooper, new VW Bug, and PT Cruiser. One of Chevy’s entry was the SSR which stood for Super Sport Roadster.

Introduced in 2003 on New Year’s Eve, Chevy had big plans. It was built for speed and used GM’s 5.3 L 300 hp Vortec V8 making it go from 0-60 in 7.7 seconds with a 15.9 second quarter mile run at 86.4 mph. In 2005 the upped the hp to 390 by using the LS2 V8, the same engine found in the C6 Corvette. It was mated to a six-speed manual taking the 0-60 time down to 5.29 seconds. It also came with all the luxo items available at the time.

The manufacturing process was unusual to say the least. It rode on a GM368 platform specific to it, and featured a steel body retractable hardtop designed by Karmann and built by ASC. The front fenders, were made with deep draw stampings, a forming technique that had not been used in automotive stampings in decades. It sold for around 42 hundred bucks.

Despite heavy promotion, it was the 2003 Indy 500 Pace Car, it never sold well. On November 21, 2005, GM announced that it would close the Craft Center, where the vehicle was built, in mid-2006, and that was the end for the SSR. The final SSR, a unique black-on-silver model, was built on March 17, 2006. Total production was just 24,112.

Like the Cadillac Allante I shared a couple of weeks ago, the long term prospects for this GM oddball probably aren’t great. Giving it any juice right now is interest from retirement-age guys like me but the younger buyers, not so much. Even with a six-speed it’s not rare enough. So what are they going for now? According to the Hagerty Price Guide they are selling for slightly over their original sticker and the 2005 and 2006 LS2-powered SSR are the most desirable. It you’re looking for one of the 2,200 sold with a six-speed you’ll need to add, and in an extra 5 grand. I kind of like it because of its quirky design and how it stands out. I mean look, I saw this one in a grocery store parking lot next to the mundane SUVs and pick up trucks.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check back next Friday for another one of my car spots. Have a great weekend.

Diecast: 1956 Ford F-100 pickup

Auto World creates a simple, iconinc Ford pickup …

Ford’s pickup hasn’t always been the best-selling vehicle in North America, it just seems that way. But in the 1950s Ford redesigned its F-1 pickup and renamed it the F-100 (now the F-150), all in an effort to overtake Chevrolet.

By 1956 the second generation Ford pickup had been restyled several times in just four years, the grille, logo and windshield getting new touches each time, yet the ’56 model is iconic in its look and started driving Ford toward its pickup dominance.

Auto World marks that moment in time with the release of its 1:18 scale 1956 Ford F-100 Pickup in Diamond Blue, the factory color that so many pickups were bathed in before leaving one of the dozen factories, including one each in Canada and Brazil, that made them.

Again AW’s model delivers high value as the pickup features opening hood, doors and in this case, a tailgate that will drop flat if unhooked. Front wheels also are steerable.

The History

The ’56 Ford had a nose-heavy look created by its set-back front-axle, low profile and prominent front fenders. The grille was new for this year with the V8 emblem at its middle, the A-pillars were vertical now, and the snazzy Ford truck logo featuring a gear with a lightning bolt through it, the background being a red and black shield.

Ford also used a wraparound windshield this year and added an energy-absorbing steering wheel and double-grip door latches for safety. Inside, there also was a hooded instrument panel, much like cars were then offering.

A hooded instrument panel was new to trucks in 1956.

Pricing was $1,580 and the F-100 was offered with eight engine choices from a 100-horse base Straight-6 or Flathead V8 up to a powerful 300-horse Y-Block V8. That made this the most powerful Ford pickup to date. Of course that battle for best pulling power and hot rod performance continues with Ford’s Raptor models.

Ironically, despite the redesign, power, and safety improvements, sales still slumped in 1956, with Ford selling just 137,581 pickups. By comparison, Ford sold 363,032 F-150 pickups in 2021.

The Model

               Simplicity reigns in this nostalgic 1956 Ford pickup, even the soft light blue color feels homey and vintage.

               The opening doors are basically vertical rectangles, the A-pillar being straight-up and the silver-trimmed vent windows being tall rectangles inside a horizontal rectangle-shaped window. Fenders are big rounded metal coverings to keep all that mud and muck stirred up in the farm field from flipping up on the wide black running boards as the farmer or construction worker went about their daily duties.

The tailgate notches in place or will fold straight down.

               The bed in back is a simple box stuck inside those rear fenders with a black bed liner and a tailgate that notches in place. Pull up on that and it unhooks to lay flat down behind the vehicle, no hinges here, as there were none on a pickup in 1956.

               The nose features a white grille with the V8 logo and single round lights also housed in that white metal trim. The Ford truck logo is dead center on the raised hood’s center bulge and the bumpers, front and rear are straight flat metal bars that have been chromed. Fancy this ain’t!

               But I like the truck’s basic nature.

               Naturally that big hood will open via large hinges and beneath is the yellowish-orange V8 block with Ford-labeled headers and a round black air filter. There’s a radiator and a few other under-hood bits and pieces, plus molded in firewall and hood features that give this a simple air of realism. Probably could use some oil splattered about or mud under the hood to show it has been used, but maybe that model will be another version from AW.

               Wipers are chrome trimmed as are the big side mirrors, door handles and round dog dish style hub caps with Ford simply engraves across their center. Wheels are blue to match the truck’s body and there are thin whitewalls for the unbranded, but treaded tires.

               A chrome and red Ford F-100 logo sticks on the side of the hood for branding purposes and to add a little bling to a truck that was definitely for work, not play, as they are today.

               AW also delivers a nicely detailed underbody here with exhaust and suspension pieces, so something to see if you display in a mirror-bottom display case.

               But as with all other models from Auto World, this comes in a sharply decorated window-box container that could easily serve as your display box. There’s even a panel in the box bottom so you can see some of that undercarriage.

               Super paint quality on a real metal die-cast model that looks and feels authentic. Auto World’s latest home run, and this pre-production sample was perfect. You can pre-order now.              

Vital Stats: 1956 Ford F-100 Pickup

Maker: Auto World
Scale: 1/18
Stock No.: AW290
MSRP: $115.99

Link: Autoworldstore.com

Die-Cast: Auto World’s 1971 Chevy Camaro RS/SS

1971 Camaro RS/SS full of sophisticated style, sharp detail …

Fond memories of an early car follow many of us who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s and the second generation Camaro fills this category for me, and likely many others.

I loved the original Camaro’s shape, but the second gen was a smooth and sexy new look in the muscle car wars. The pointy snout with the two big headlights, smooth uncomplicated body lines and handsome four round taillights was a winner, and then down the road they were used as the International Race of Champions race cars. Bingo, loved it!

All that was plenty, but my first serious girlfriend’s dad had one that he loaned us for a date night. The car was as red as her hair, and I dare say we looked a spectacular couple heading to the show. While I should remember more, I mainly recall being able to bury the accelerator and squeal the tires, once we were out of dad’s earshot, and I made sure to take the highway that night so I could push the speed envelope. Continue reading Die-Cast: Auto World’s 1971 Chevy Camaro RS/SS

Die-cast: Greenlight’s 2017 Indy 500 podium diorama

Greenlight delivers flashy Indy 500 diorama …Greenlight 2017 Indy 500 podium finishers

OK, I’m an Indy 500 nut and I know that shows in some of the products we cover here. But, to be honest, Indy has been regained much of its luster in the last 5-6 years and there’s a lot more IndyCar die-cast being offered. Continue reading Die-cast: Greenlight’s 2017 Indy 500 podium diorama

Die-cast: BoS-Models’ Chevrolet Corvette Corvair Concept

Corvette Corvair Concept sharp car at low costDSCF0143

Early Corvettes were stylish sports cars, not the big fire-breathing muscle rods they became by the 1970s and that they continue as today.

So a fastback model in 1954 would have been cooler than even Ford’s Thunderbird and shows General Motors had the right idea, if only in concept form. Funny too, they named it the Corvette Corvair, joining two names that Chevrolet would ultimately use.

Now BoS-Models has created a high-value 1:43 of this unusual concept as it first appeared in a bright Ruby Red paint scheme. And while I don’t usually dwell on price here, I’ve got to mention it’s just $38.95 and looks fabulous in its acrylic case.

The History

First, an explanation of the concept car that made its debut at the 1954 GM Motorama, a show in New York City. Chevrolet used the front-end of its new Corvette, but made it into a fastback coupe by grafting a sloping roof onto the sporty Vette. The tail here reflects the popular aircraft styling of the mid- to late-1950s. Continue reading Die-cast: BoS-Models’ Chevrolet Corvette Corvair Concept

The car that nearly killed GM, the 2nd time

And has virtually no value beyond sentimental

Chevy citation, citation, promotional model cars, dealer promotional cars
Courtesy General Motors

I remember when the Chevy Citation was introduced by General Motors in 1980. This X-body car was Chevy‘s front wheel drive car. Because of the transverse mounted engine, no transmission hump, it had tons of interior space. My experience comes from working at two TV stations where the news department bought entire fleets of Citations. Those entire fleets sometimes spent more time in the shop than gathering the news. I was on a trip from Green Bay to Indianapolis to cover the 500, and on our way back, the clutch gave out just south of Chicago. So it was rush hour, on a Friday, a tow truck comes along, cha-ching, a chevy citation, citation, bad cars, 80's cars, promotional model cars, dealer promo modelscouple hundred bucks, then tows us to a transmission shop, cha-ching,  more hundred bucks. Luckily the shop had a hotel right across from it because we were going to have to stay overnight. So when I get back, this is good, you’ll like this, I hand in my expense account in and the bean counter questions the towing charge, ah, hello, you don’t make deals with tow trucks on the Illinois Tollway at rush hour, and then about the bill for the new clutch. So again, hello, no clutch, no car, so were my photographer and I supposed to push the car from shop to shop? Jeez, these guys. Don’t they know that sometimes you’re in a situation where there is no cheap?

chevy citation, chevrolet citation, crappy cars of the 80's, promotional model cars, dealer promo models
General Motors Archives

Kind of got off topic there, back to the Citation. It was built to try to fight back the Japanese cars like the Honda Accord, still alive and kicking, and the Volkswagen Dasher, not around anymore. The Citation had through the roof sales its first year and the production lines were unable to keep up with the demand, causing huge delays in delivery to customers, some waiting nine months to receive their vehicle. Can you believe waiting nine months for a car? Well maybe a special one but not this one. First-year sales were more than 800,000, good enough for No. 1 among cars sold in the United States.

The automotive press loved it…but then didn’t

Car and Driver magazine named the Citation their 1980 Car of the Year but there was skullduggery a foot. Turns out that GM provided the writers with specially modified versions of the X-body vehicles in which the often noted torque steer (famous for) had been engineered out. Patrick Bedard of Car and Driver later admitted that they were completely surprised when they later drove a production version. In an article in 2009, the magazine put the Citation on their 10 Most Embarrassing Award Winners in Automotive History list. What a surprise, the 1983 AMC/Renault Alliance was also on the take back list. Go figure.

chevy citation x-11, chevy citation 2, carppy cars of the 80's, promotional model cars, dealer promo models
General Motors Archives

The reason it made the list was, because like so many other cars of that era (including AMC), were built crappy. Citation owners were having trim bits fall off in their hands, hearing their transmissions groan and seize, and the cars started rusting in a very short time. At times it seemed the suspension in some X-cars wasn’t even bolted in correctly. Because of an on-center dead spot in the steering, the ride motions grew funkier and funkier. GM tried to save the train wreck by introducing the Citation II along with the performance-enhanced Citation X-11. Chevrolet wanted to remind the car buying public that this front wheel drive newcomer was made by the same people as the Corvette and Camaro. It actually won at SCCA events running in the Showroom Stock B class. Bob McConnell drove a 1981 X-11 to SSB National Championships in 1982 and 1984. Of the 1.64 million Citation models built between 1979 and 1985, only 20,574 were in X-11 trim, meaning that surviving examples are a rare sight today.

And we’re done

GM dropped the Citation, and it’s other X-body siblings, after the 1985 model year, ultimately replaced by the L-body Beretta coupe and Corsica sedan in 1987. Better, sort of. This is a familiar car story from the 80’s, a ground-breaking car that never lived up to its billing. You have to wonder had the cars, GM’s or the other manufacturers, displayed both the initial build quality and lasting reliability of the Japanese competition, the automotive world might be very different today.

And they made a promo model

chevy citation, chevrolet citation, crappy cars of the 80's, promotional model cars, dealer promo models, general motorschevy citation, chevrolet citation, crappy cars of the 80's, promotional model cars, dealer promo modelschevy citation, chevrolet citation, crappy cars of the 80's, promotional model cars, dealer promo models, general motorsSo I found this black one, an ’82, which is pretty good shape for being over 30 years old. Some minor scratches but otherwise everything was good but has little value, around 20 bucks. I suppose somebody might buy it to remind them of their time waiting in the shop. Then I found this Citation, probably a kit, and got a laugh. This guy probably hung around at the junk yards a lot. I know, I know, I’m an AMC guy so shouldn’t be throwing stones.

Chasing Classic Cars: A Camaro soon to be classic.

2014 Camaro Hot Wheels edition

2014 Hot Wheels Camero, Hot Wheels Camero, Hot WheelsEvery may Mark and I head up to Road America (our favorite place) to the Midwest Automotive Writer Association event. There are cars from just about every manufacturer with the cars they want us to write about. Sure there are “family” cars but sprinkled in are lots of fun cars. In this case it was the 2014 Hot Wheels edition Camaro. This is the dream of millions of Hot Wheels® fans and the first time a full-size, production Hot Wheels® car has been offered for sale by any manufacturer. What a hoot! Check out the video by clicking on the image.

Chasing Classic Cars in the woods

Sometimes you never know where you will find them

If you’re like me out on the road, your head turns if you see even a slight view of a piece of metal resembling a potential classic car. My neck gets sore on many trips and if I want to stop, it drives my wife nuts. It’s even tougher when I’m out on my Hayabusa. Eyes on the road Paul.

Remember the Lambrecht Chevrolet sale back in September?

500-car-cache-in-the-woods-Well this collection of mostly European cars is even bigger. Found in, well we don’t know since the owner was afraid if he let the cat out of the bag he would be open to looters. This is a really interesting article I read on AutoWeek. Who wouldn’t want to walk around and just look. Yea right?

 

 

 

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51 1LT

Fast & furious new Stingray sets a new standard 

The company parking lot was alive with color, as was the driveway at home. People stared, gave a thumbs up and admired what for 60 years has been America’s Sports Car.1LT, 2014 Corvette Stingray, auto reviews, Chevrolet, chevy, Corvette, heads-up display, savageonwheels.com, sexy cars, Stingray, Vette, Z51

This was a Torch Red Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51, fresh off the assembly line in Bowling Green, Ky., and raring to have its legs stretched, its engine thrummed, its giant near slick ZR-rated tires warmed and spun. The Corvette remains a two-seater, but by the late 1960s had transitioned from sports car to muscle car.

Oh, these babies are raced to be sure, but on the highway, on our city streets, it’s their muscle that most folks admire. They are low, so low I found myself looking up to a Mini Cooper that I was passing on the freeway. Vettes are fast. Chevy claims 3.8 seconds from 0-60 mph and even it if it’s 4.0 or a touch more, it’ll haul butt.

Top speed? It’s rated at 190 mph and there’s no good place to test that out, legally. Suffice it to say I got within 90 mph of that. Highway entry ramps are too short in a Corvette, which for its seventh generation that debuts as a 2014, brings back the much loved Stingray name.

1LT, 2014 Corvette Stingray, auto reviews, Chevrolet, chevy, Corvette, heads-up display, savageonwheels.com, sexy cars, Stingray, Vette, Z51For the record Chevy has revamped its giant 6.2-liter V8 to add direct injection and variable valve timing. That translates into 460 horses and a torque rating of 465. Consider that a Porsche 911 Carrera S manages 400 horses, albeit from a flat-6, and costs almost twice as much. Continue reading 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51 1LT

Chasing Classic Cars: Lambrecht Chevrolet auction

Some are calling it the field of dreams

Photo credit: AutoWeek
Photo credit: AutoWeek

Hundreds of low mileage went on the auction block this past weekend in the historic Lambrecht Chevy Sale. Click here to see an update from AutoWeek.