Tag Archives: Dodge Dart

Die-cast: Whitebox’s Valiant Acapulco

1960s Valiant Acapulco a simple car, no matter the year …Valiant Acapulco

We all have our first car stories, but in 1963 my dad brought home our first new car, at least in my lifetime. It was a white 1963 Plymouth Valiant convertible with black soft top and red vinyl interior and a push-button automatic transmission.

It was nothing fancy, but to have a convertible was certainly exotic. Plus the car’s slant-6 engine was solid and the car ran like a top for 7 years.

So there’s a certain nostalgia I felt when WhiteBox’s red Chrysler Valiant Acapulco arrived for review. The 1/43 scale model is a nice reproduction of a mainline car that a lot of folks owned, and only a slight change from that ’63 model of which I was so fond. In fact, more than 225,000 Valiants were sold in 1963, its record year.

The Chrysler Valiant was a rebadged Plymouth Valiant sold in Mexico, hence the Acapulco model designation. Dodge also had a similar model, the Dart. There’s a bit of confusion with the labeling here in that the Acapulco was sold in Mexico starting in 1967 and the review car’s license is a 1967 Oklahoma plate. I confirmed with American-Excellence, who had sent the car, that it’s mislabeled as a 1965 model.  It is in fact a 1967 Valiant.

The History

Valiant was Plymouth’s compact car entry and was remodeled in 1963 to be less radical looking. It appeared slim and trim with a slightly longer hood than trunk. The fake spare tire on the trunk lid from earlier models was abandoned. Continue reading Die-cast: Whitebox’s Valiant Acapulco

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It’s alive!

A Frankenstein classic car

dodge dart, plymouth Barracuda. cadillac, cars with fins, cuda, dartWell maybe not a classic but for sure the guy who combined what I believe to be a ’66 Valiant Barracuda, a ’64 Dodge Dart, and the fins from maybe ’61 Caddy (my best guess). It caught my eye one day when I was out for a ride on my Busa passing through Hartford, WI. Of course I had to turn around to grab some pictures. The ‘Cuda is the base car and a real quick look at it did not show any major signs of rust. Ok, I can see doing a bit special on the hood with the Dart parts but when he added the fins, I’m out. If you take a close look at the pics I shot of the fins, he did not do a very good job grafting them on. But hey, who am I to judge? It’s his car and as long as the guy is happy with it, let ‘er rip tatter chip. Continue reading It’s alive!

Zoomie Car of the Year Awards 1990-2014

25 Years of Zoomies

Here are my Car of the Year Awards for the first 25 years of the Savage On Wheels column, as they appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. This year the Zoomies will appear only on this website. Watch for their posting …. very soon!

Art: Stuart Carlson
Art: Stuart Carlson

Here are the past Zoomie winners:

2014: Mazda3 (light, swoopy hatchback with power, fun handling and fuel efficiency)

2013: Dodge Dart (sassy smart looking small car, full of youthful features, value)

2012: Chevrolet Volt (good looking, well built and cutting edge technology)

2011: Ford Mustang (in any trim a beautiful, fast, fun car with excellent ride and handling)

2010: Suzuki Kizashi SLS (modest price, good looks/handling, loaded with goodies)

2009: Volvo C30 (sassy, economical, fun with fresh styling)

2008: Nissan Altima Coupe (awesome looks, good value, fun drive with power)

2007: Mazda5 (stylish blend of sportwagon-van, low price, practical)

2006: Ford Fusion (good looks, good value, improved fit and finish) Continue reading Zoomie Car of the Year Awards 1990-2014

2014 Scion tC

Scion’s tC edges out some competitors with style, quickness … a fun drive

I know the street racers out there, and many of my media colleagues, will disagree, but I like the Scion tC sports coupe better than Scion’s base FR-S, for a couple reasons.scion

I think its styling is edgier and more fun, and despite it being a front-drive coupe compared with the rear-drive FR-S, it handles extremely well. Plus, with its easy shifting 6-speed manual and more than sufficient 2.5-liter VVT-I 4-cylinder engine, it’s quick and fun to drive.

Then there’s the base tC’s starting price of just $19,200, with a $795 delivery fee. That’s affordable, and my bright “absolutely red” test car managed 27 mpg in about 60% highway driving. Quite respectable! The EPA rates this t 23 mpg city and 31 mpg highway.

The tC is bare bones fun without a totally bare bones feel. It’s great for first-time buyers needing value and valuing style and fun behind the wheel. The coupe doesn’t feel cheap and looks spectacular. For 2014 the nose is restyled with a wide-mouth grille, more attractive lightning-bolt-shaped headlights with LED running lights and I like its flat roofline that gives it a distinctive profile compared with the plethora of round roof sports coupes.
You already know some of what I like, but the heart of my appreciation for the coupe starts with its performance.

Slip into the well-shaped sports seats and the car delivers a straightforward no nonsense dash, albeit a blah gray plastic trim that looks a little too value minded. But turn the key, yes it still has a key, and the test car fired up with a throaty roar that would make most drift car pilots envious. This is a big can that really stirs up the 4-cylinder’s exhaust tone. All that is due to a TRD (Toyota Racing Development) performance exhaust that costs $699 extra. You’ll love the sound, so if you can spare the cash, go for it. Continue reading 2014 Scion tC

2013 Toyota Corolla S

 New Corolla  S a family sedan, with sporty look

corollaMy family owned a Toyota Corolla back in the early 1980s. That’s family as in me, my wife and two small kids. So, take note young families, you CAN survive without a minivan, crossover or sport-utility truck.

That’s even easier now as the current Corolla, the 10th generation, is nearly as large as a Camry was a decade ago. Call it dimensional creep.

The 2013 Corolla rides on a 102.4-inch wheelbase and is 179.3 inches long. But it still weighs a seemingly svelte 2,767 lbs. and is rated at 26 mpg city and 34 mpg highway. I got 28.3 mpg in a fairly even mix of city and highway driving. That’s good for a young family’s budget.

My tested magnetic gray metallic (dark metallic gray) test car was the top-level S model that offers sportier looks, but not much in the way of sporty performance. This one came with an automatic transmission and even with that it remains a solid choice for youngsters needing just a step up from basic wheels. But don’t confuse this with a sports sedan. Continue reading 2013 Toyota Corolla S

2013 Dodge Dart Limited

New Dart hits the mark

As a kid in the 1960s we had a Plymouth Valiant convertible, a kissin’ cousin to the Dodge Dart, both pleasant, sturdy, reliable compact cars.Dodge Dart

But by the 1970s, the Dart and Valiant had grown into ugly boxy things with parts that readily fell off. They, and other Dodge, Chrysler and Plymouth cars helped turn a lot of buyers off to Chrysler products. So much so that Chrysler has been climbing a steep hill much of the past 35-40 years toward respectability. That is, until now.

Now comes the new Dodge Dart, the first car jointly designed and produced by Chrysler and its financial rescuer, Fiat, the large Italian carmaker. That somewhat forced marriage of a few years back seems to have spurred a renaissance for Detroit’s former No. 3 carmaker. Respectability is growing.

Here’s why Dart, is a winner. Continue reading 2013 Dodge Dart Limited