I’ll admit to a soft spot for early Plymouth Valiants, and I think it’s justified.
First, they were more stylish than other compacts of the day, and second, our family had a 1963 Valiant convertible with a push-button transmission. My mom learned to drive on that car and I spent a lot of years peeling my legs off the red vinyl seats in that car each summer.
BoS-Models now offers the bare bones early 1960 model, the first of its ilk, in 1/18 scale.
Chrysler Corp. came out with the Valiant in 1960 as its entry into the compact car market that was just taking off. Ford had the Falcon. In fact, Valiant was almost named Falcon, but Henry Ford II got permission from Chrysler to use the name, which it had previously used on a show car.
But Valiant was a much better engineered car than its competitors, plus has the long-nose and slightly finned styling that styling guru Virgil Exner had been delivering in earlier Chrysler models – think Chrysler 300. In fact, some say the Valiant nose is a mix of Chrysler 300 and Studebaker Lark grille. I always saw that resemblance. Continue reading Die-cast: BoS-Models’ 1960 Plymouth Valiant→
Stylish Toyota Avalon long on comfort at good price
Toyota’s Avalon is a breath of fresh air, a full-size sedan with stylish lines and oodles of comfort and features at a reasonable price.
In days of yore, that would be enough to make it one of the top sellers in the marketplace, but alas, modern times belong to trucks, SUVs and crossovers.
Still, if you enjoy a smooth well-controlled ride and a roomy quiet interior that will coddle five adults on a road trip, Avalon should be atop your shopping list.
Toyota restyled Avalon a couple years ago, all to the good. It looks modern, youthful and sporty for a big sedan. Its 111-inch wheelbase gives it one of the most pleasant rides of any car, truck or ute, no matter the price.
Avalon’s strong 268-horse V6 engine delivers excellent power so the sedan will hoof it up to highway speeds like a race horse, not a plow horse like most SUVs. Amazingly its gas mileage is excellent too, rated at 21 mpg city and 31 mpg highway by the EPA. I got 26.7 mpg in about 75% highway driving, including a roundtrip to Chicago with two folks aboard and light luggage.
This has three driving modes too, Normal, Eco and Sport, but I felt little difference between Normal and Sport. Eco allows the transmission to shift earlier to save fuel, so cuts power a bit. Yet the gas mileage, as stated earlier, is fine without using Eco. Continue reading 2016 Toyota Avalon Touring→
I admit to having a soft spot in my car styling heart for the “Forward Look” Chrysler and Dodge models created by Virgil Exner in the late 1950s and early ‘60s.
These big-finned beauties featured dramatic taillights and oodles of chrome trim on their fronts, sides and backs. My Uncle Paul had a white 1959 Chrysler 300 that barely fit in his garage with fins taller than me.
So I’m a big fan of NEO’s 1:43 scale Dodge Custom Royal Lancer Convertible and its beautiful red and white paint scheme.
Dodge offered the Royal and Custom Royal from 1955-59 and the NEO model depicts the top-level Custom Royal in its heyday and final year, featuring dual jet exhaust taillights under each chrome-laden fin. The convertible featured a “Wedge” big-block V8 that used a wedge-shaped combustion chamber along with 383 cubic inches of displacement. The serious performance buyers snagged Dodge’s Super D-500 V8 overhead valve engine, a $415 option, with a massive 345 horsepower.
Royals and Custom Royals were available in hardtop, sedan, convertible and station wagon body styles and a base four-door listed at $2,934 in 1959. The premium Custom Royal convertible sold for $3,422 and 984 were sold that model year. Chrysler touted the use of front torsion bars and its mighty engines, plus push-button automatic transmissions. For 1959 there was an elliptical steering wheel and swivel front bucket seats too. Continue reading Die-cast: 1959 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer Convertible→
OK, cue the music! ” got me a car, it’s as big as a whale and we’re headin’ on down to the Love Shack. I got me a Chrysler, it seats about 20 so come on and bring your jukebox money….”. Those lyrics sound familiar? How about a clue? It was the B52’s biggest hit. Right, Love Shack. If you go to the music video you will see a 1965 Chrysler 300 L which was the last year of the traditional letter series. It was as big as a whale with a 124 inch wheelbase.
The Chrysler 300 “letter series” were high-performance luxury cars built in very limited numbers by the Chrysler Corporation in the U.S. from 1955-1965. You could identify a 300 by the special logo placed on the car on the grill and rear quarter. Each year’s model used a new letter of the alphabet as a suffix (skipping “i”), reaching 300L by 1965, after which the traditional letter series was dropped until coming back a couple of years ago. Chrysler said it best “It’s The Most Beautiful Chrysler Ever Built”. The base engine was 315 horsepower. The 390 horsepower 413ci engine was no longer available though any three hundred could be ordered with a floor shifting four speed manual gearbox. Fronm what I read from owners, it’s a great cruising car car but makes turn as wide as an aircraft carrier and is tough to parallel park. Well duh! I had a tough enough time learning that with my dad’s 1967 Rebel wagon! But how can you not love a convertible? I can see myself in it. Add a nice loud sound system and I’d be good to go. That would be a blast in the warm weather. BTW, up here in Wisconsin, we consider warm weather 60 and above although I’ve ridden my motorcycle down to 40 degrees. Hey, the season in short.
In the final year there were just 2,405 coupes (rare) and 440 convertibles (even rarer) were sold. OK, so I got really excited to see what a good example of the real dear might cost. Thinking they were made in such small numbers, what, $50K? $110K. Not even close. Right now coupes go for around $10K and the convertibles in the $25K range. Convertibles, I found out are a good deal, as the 300 isn’t as sought after as the muscle cars that defined the era. The new on is cool. I have seen some convertibles but they were made by the aftermarket shops. I met the car’s designer, Ralph Gilles, at Road American this summer. Gilles is currently the President and CEO of the SRT Brand and Senior Vice President of Design at Chrysler Group LLC Really nice guy. So much passion for cars and funny too. I could see myself in that too especially in some place warm, with palm trees. Sweet.
OK, now for the promo models. Same deal. The coupes can go for around 100 bucks while like the big guys, the convertibles, about twice as much. I found this super mint ’65 300 L convertible on ebay recently. Now these are the cars I get excited about. Something you might see in a lot of collections. Solid body, good chrome, no scratches and both windshield posts. This is a car if one were to buy would go in a special case, maybe near a sound system where the B52’s could be heard singing, ” got me a car, it’s as big as a whale and we’re headin’ on down to the Love Shack. I got me a Chrysler, it seats about 20 so come on and bring your jukebox money….”.