Tag Archives: Chrysler

5 cars that will never be classics…

…and guys should never be seen driving in.

Levi's edition gremlin, amc gremlin, iconic small carsBefore I reveal what they are, I want to get a couple of things out there. I love cars, some that get great mileage, some of them are small, and some of them are unusual designs. This comes from a guy who drove a Gremlin and a Pacer which by the way are no longer manufactured. However, a Gremlin X with a 304 and Levi’s interior is a popular collector car since they are difficult to find in good shape. I’ve seen some for sale in the $20,000 range. I know you’re probably thinking, a guy who lives in a glass house….. you will for sure once I get rolling on the list so here goes. Continue reading 5 cars that will never be classics…

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Bar Finds: A couple of Dodges

Have camera, will travel

You mean barn finds, right? Nope, not this time. The cars for this entry I saw at a couple of local bars. I’m not a bar fly but love to have a couple of beers. I love beer about the same as I love classic cars.

Dodge’s entry into the pony car market

Introduced in the fall of 1969 for the 1970 model year the Challenger was Dodge’s answer to the Mustang and Camaro but was tardy to the party. The Challenger was conceived in the late 1960s as Dodge’s equivalent of the Plymouth Barracuda. A bit of trivia here, the Barracuda was actually the first car in this sporty car segment by a few months ahead of the Mustang but we all know how history played out. So out with the family one night for dinner and it was actually my daughter who spotted this car first. She loves cars too. Good girl.

Continue reading Bar Finds: A couple of Dodges

2014 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4×4

New Cherokee brings modern look, but same off-road capability

Some folks had their doubts about Chrysler and Jeep when Italian carmaker Fiat assumed control of them a few years back. Now Fiat owns them outright and the new product parade can’t have been more impressive.

jeep1Latest on the list is the new Jeep Cherokee. It’s an old name, but that’s all that’s old here. Thankfully the looks are all new with thin lights front and rear and a modern interpretation of Jeep’s 7 portal grille. Jeep loyalists that think all Jeeps should still look like World War II Willys will just have to get over it. Besides, the Jeep Luddites still have the Wrangler to take rock crushing.

Yet because most folks Don’t drive their SUVs over cliffs and through mud bogs, the new Cherokee is a welcome replacement for the top-heavy, gas-sucking Liberty. Cherokee is refined in looks and execution. It’s a fine on-road vehicle that oh, by the way, still could be taken off road and slopped around a bit.

First let’s look at the new mechanicals that help make this Jeep, which is based on the Dodge Dart platform, such a step up from Liberty.

Atop the efficiency list is the combination of its 2.4-liter MultiAir2 Tigershark I4 engine that creates 184 horsepower, and the segment’s first 9-speed automatic transmission. That’s right, 9 speeds. Most vehicles now use a 6-speed automatic, but Fiat puts a ZF-developed 9-speed into Cherokee. The upshot is not only decent power, but smooth fuel-efficient application of that to the road. The only hiccup I experienced was occasionally on a cold start when the car would hesitate in first and second gear and bog just a bit. All was fine once the SUV warmed.

How efficient is this combo? Continue reading 2014 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4×4

Braking News: Chrysler Reports Best Feb. Sales Since ’07

Chrysler seems to be on a roll

jeep sales, dodge sales, dodge ram sales, chrysler sales, auto monthly sales reports
Chrysler LLC

Sometimes bad weather leads to good things like increased sales for Chrysler’s Jeep and Dodge brands. Jeep brand sales, up 47 percent in February, are the brand’s best February sales ever and the largest percentage sales gain of any Chrysler Group brand for the month. The  Compass, Patriot and Wrangler each set sales records for the month of February. Grand Cherokee sales were up 34 percent while the all-new Jeep Cherokee mid-size SUV were up 12 percent compared with sales in January. Dodge Ram pickup trucks posted its best February sales in eight years, up 26%. Read more here.

2013 Dodge Challenger SRT8 Core

Challenger SRT8 puts 470 ponies under you

Muscle is one thing. Looks are another. But I still expect a boatload of amenities at $41 grand.

This is the RT version and the SRT8 just takes it to a whole new level ... yes, it has a HEMI.
This is the RT version and the SRT8 just takes it to a whole new level … yes, it has a HEMI.

The “TorRed” Dodge Challenger SRT8 Core that I blasted around town in last week targets the fanatical muscle car lover. It packs a 6.4-liter V8 SRT HEMI that punches out a nasty 470 horses. You don’t think that’s enough? You may want to get your noggin checked.

Slapping the 6-speed manual shifter through its gate you can squeal the rear tires in any gear, exploding up to 60 mph, or beyond, in just under five seconds. You can embarrass about any other vehicle you want with this wild child of a car.But even at $41 grand, including delivery and a Gas Guzzler tax (the price for all that power), you won’t have a navigation system, back-up camera, automatic lights or leather seats. I guess that’s why this is the Core SRT8.

SRT is Chrysler Corp.’s high-performance team and it makes any of the Fiat-owned firm’s vehicles, including the Jeep Grand Cherokee, into land rockets. Certainly performance is SRT’s main focus, along with some street-ability, but many daily driver features and comforts are side-stepped. Continue reading 2013 Dodge Challenger SRT8 Core

1957-59 Plymouth Belevedere: Restored to better than new

A car built in the big fin era

59plymIMGP7260I love big fins as mentioned in my previous post on another Chrysler product, the Imperial. For me it’s as much a piece of art as it is an automobile. Think about it, what car stands out for you now? Sure some do like the Corvette for me or the Mustang or Camero but outside of that, not much. Quick, tell me what was the last car you saw drive by? Now if a ’57 Plymouth Belevedere drove by, you’d really notice that, wouldn’t you?

America loved the car

For the third generation of  cars from Chrysler Corporation and completely changed its car lines, dropping the bodies that had been brought out for 1955 and replaciPlymouth_Fury_1959__adng them with the designs heralded as Virgil Exner’s best 1957 would be a banner year for the Chrysler Corporation, and Plymouth as its design was so revolutionary that Chrysler used the slogan “Suddenly, it’s 1960!” to promote the new car. Belevederes were loaded and positioned as a top of the line Plymouth. Unfortunately, the cars were rushed into production (argh!), and while they sold extremely well, they also ticked off customers, and destroyed Chrysler’s reputation for quality and reliability. Rust was everywhere and parts broke off. Gee there is a surprise. The car did have its claim to fame later on as a ’58 appearing as the star in the movie Christine. After 33 years, this car still lives as you can see in this video.

Collectors love the car now but have their work cut out for them

59-plymouthSince the cars were pretty much rust buckets at the end of their lives restoring one will require lots of time and deep pockets. Here’s a video of a ’59 which is rare and boy does it look good. On ClassicCars.com I found this ’59 for sale for $45,000 which is about the going rate for a restored model. Look closely in the first picture. This guy is into Mopar. A Dodge sits right next to it while in the background is I believe a ’59 or ’60 Rambler. Sorry, had to get that in.

And now for the promo model

So think about that promo model of the Plymouth that your dad gave you as a kid. If you haven’t blown it up or burned it (which by the way does look cool) it is probably sitting in a box somewhere. Occasionally you look at it and say to yourself, maybe one day. Well check out this professionally rebuilt model I recently found on eBay and it sold for 898 bucks! Now you ready to start? I have featured this builder before and he does off the charts restorations. If you don’t look to long at the background, this Plymouth looks like the real deal. Everything is better than like new. Check out the chrome where it looks like it just came out of the box. Look at the fins and spare tire on the trunk. Don’t forget to gaze at the finish to and it doesn’t take too much to imagine your reflection on it. And he always goes the extra mile with the underside where the exhaust and bottom of the engine are painted the correct colors. Cherry, cherry, cherry is what I say about this restoration job. Doesn’t it inspire you? Now go find that car you have and get going.

Aviary ebay-com 59 p;ymouth 1Aviary ebay-com plyouth 2

Aviary ebay-com plymouth 3

Chrysler Imperial: When fins were in

Automotive Art

finsI love some of the cars of the late 50’s and early 60’s. Some were huge and of course there were the fins. Fins were in at the time because designers were taking their cues from the jet age. The luxury cars all had them like the Chrysler Imperial. Early on these cars were all designed by one of the legends of auto design, Virgil Exner. When he joined Chrysler, he discovered that the company’s vehicles were being styled by engineers and not by designers making the cars kind of frumpy looking.

1960-Chrysler-Imperial-Front endExner took over and frumpy was gone. General Motors and Ford were caught napping as Exner’s designs featured a lowered roofline making the cars sleeker, smoother, and more aggressive. These were really wild for the time period. The front featured featuring a swooping bumper, gaping mesh grille, giant chrome eagle, and hooded quad headlights, and tall rear fins with bullet style tail lamps with a chrome ring surrounding it. The chrome ring  called a “Sparrow Strainer” an element taken from jets at the time that utilized a functional treatment meant to keep the birds out. This car looked like it had an attitude with all the chrome and extended fenders giving it the look of some big cat on the attack.

63_Chrysler_Imperial_Crown_DV-06_BJ-INT-01He also had some really cool design elements inside the car like a space age dashboard. No incandescent bulbs were used instead electricity running through a five-layer laminate caused the phosphorescent paint to glow in the dark. Chrysler called it “Panelescent”. With its glowing green face and red needles it looked eerie and surprisingly modern. Does this design sound familiar? Most of the new cars use updated lighting technology to achieve this look. Let’s not forget about the squared off at the top and bottom steering wheel designed for better leg room and view through the windshield in the straight ahead position. Exner was always battling the board with his designs and won until sales started to slip. The public hand grown tired of the look.

Exner out, Engel in, fins out

Chrysler ImperialIn 1961, Chrysler scored a coup by hiring Elwood Engel away from Ford, where he had designed the 1961 Lincoln Continental. Engel’s waisted little time making his mark on future Imperials featuring the more familiar three-box design. His first car was the ’64 and some said it looked similar in design to was thought to strongly resemble the 1961 Lincoln Continental. However, Engel used subtle curves and parallelogram angles to give the Imperial a distinct and novel look.

58 ImperialIf you’re looking to collect the real deal, you better have deep pockets. The older ones, like the 1958 are prized possessions of collectors. This is a frame off restoration that began as a rust-free project. For cars of this era, finding a car with out it are hard to come by since they have all rusted away. There are however examples, not as good as this one, that are nice and can be bought in the mid 20’s.

Even though the promotional models don’t have to deal with rust, they too can command a decent amount of cash. I found several going for $150 but these examples, a 10 on the 10 scale 64 convertible (super rare) was going for $800 while the 62 was going for $750.

64-800-10-out-of-1062-750

So which is my favorite designer? I would have to go with Virgil Exner just because I love the fins and that might be because I am an aviation nut.