If you’ve read any of my previous spots about General Motors cars, I’ve shared how the company had what seemed at the time a good idea but it ends up getting killed by a bloated corporate culture. This week’s spot, a Saturn Sky, is yet another example.
The Saturn Corporation was created by GM in 1985 and designed to compete against Japanese Imports. Everything was new, dealer network, pricing, workforce, and a brand new plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee. Marketed as a “different kind of car company”, its cars utilized GM’s advanced spaceframe construction with dent-resistant polymer exterior panels.
Saturn took a lot of resources and when the economy went south in 2008, GM cut Saturn’s development budget leaving them with rebadged cars from other divisions. So Saturn essentially lost its unique selling proposition and production ended in 2009. Its highest level of sales was 1994 with just under 300,000 vehicles marked. Penske Automotive saw an opportunity and tried to buy the brand but it never worked out and another brand faded into the sunset.
This Sky was a fun little car. Initially released in the first quarter of 2006 as a 2007. It was built at GM’s plant in Willmington, Delaware alongside the Pontiac Solstice. It featured 18-inch wheels and was powered by a 2.4 L I4 that produced 177 hp. There were two other options for more fun. A 2.0 L turbocharged direct-injected engine that bumped horsepower up to 260 and a dealer-installed turbo upgrade that ran the ponies up to 290. Wheeee. 0-60 times were around five seconds.
You can find these turbo Red Line editions for sale on the major car sites, anywhere from 12 grand to just under 20 on average. Prices have bumped up quite a bit in the last year or so. I even found one on Hemings for $31,500. These cars were not cheap, to begin with, and while they are holding their values, they really aren’t jumping in value so would not be a great investment but what a fun summer car:)
Have a great weekend and be sure to check back next Friday for another one of my car spots.
A stylish 1:18 scale Series 62 with opening hood, trunk, doors …
Cadillac was near the top of the U.S. automotive world as far as a reputation for luxury coupled with performance prior to World War II. Oh sure, there was Packard too, but the Series 62 Caddy was king of the heap.
And of course that meant a lead sled as these were all steel and assorted metal compounds at the time, with engine blocks that were so heavy they could have been battleship anchors.
But still there was style, and chrome was a big part of that. Auto World is practiced at the art of creating 1950s to 1970s muscle cars with all their chrome grilles and bumpers, but it had to turn it up a notch for this new 1947 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible. To use phrasing of the time you bought one to grandstand that you’ve got a lot of lettuce!
Cadillac launched the Series 62 in 1940 as an entry-level Caddy, but production ended in 1942 as auto factories turned their efforts to war machines. In fact, by 1947, just after the war as Cadillac was converting back to car production, the automaker was only making 12 models in four different Series, roughly a quarter of the models it had made pre-war.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that the Series 62 was most popular as it had been fairly new when the war began and was entry-level for Caddy. The Series 62 reportedly made up 84% of Caddy’s sales in 1947 and Cadillac reported it had a 100,000 backlog of orders.
Series 62 models included a hardtop, convertible and 4-door sedan. More than 55,600 were sold, a record at the time. In 1947 a Series 62 4-door sedan went for $2,553, up from $2,359 in 1946. With strong demand came higher prices. Likewise today a ’47 convertible is coveted among collectors and can go for north of $100,000 depending on its restoration level.
AW models the 1947 Caddy with its Monobloc flathead 5.7-liter V8, which made 150 horsepower. The chrome fender guards and 5-bar grille were new styling cues for 1947 as GM tried to freshen its lineup that essentially reflected 1942 styling. Oh, and the hub caps were known as Sombrero wheel covers. Ah, marketing!
For the record, the third generation Series 62, like the second-gen model, was designed by GM’s now famous Harley Earl. It went into production as a 1949 model and featured GM’s new overhead-valve V8. The engine was a big deal at the time as it replaced the lower powered, heavier model. The new 5.4-liter V8 delivered 10 more horses at 160, yet weighed 200 lbs. less than the 1948 model. The 1949 model was Motor Trend’s first Car of the Year.
Convertible die-cast cars are fun because they let you see the car’s full interior, plus they just look a little sleeker.
AW delivers this one in Madeira Maroon, a dark maroon with creamy white convertible tonneau cover and interior door panels. While the Caddy looks like a beast with its egg-crate grille and chrome bullet-shaped bumper guards front and rear, the color makes it seem as elegant as it was at the time. Note though that the paint job easily shows fingerprints, so if you’re handling it gloves are a wise idea.
Chrome here, as it was in 1947, is nearly overpowering, but certainly adds a high bling level to the Series 62. The nose and tail are dripping with it via those bumpers, the grille, Caddy insignias and hood ornament. Plus this model includes a bold chrome trim line from the front wheel to mid-door at the end of the bulging fenders that wrap into the doors. Likewise there are chrome stone guards and trim on the rear fenders from in front of the rear wheel to just behind it.
Clear textured headlights feature chrome bezels and the rear lights are a threesome on a vertical chrome bar. Wipers, windshield and door trim, a big extended side mirror and stubby antenna on the driver’s side fender also are chrome, as are the door handles and trunk release.
For realism note that the hood, trunk and doors all open and the front wheels are poseable.
Under that massive hood is the aqua block of GM’s 5.7-liter V8 at the time, plus wiring and other detailing, although to be honest the car looks more interesting with the hood lowered, likewise the trunk.
Inside the seats are a matte red and include built-in armrests in back and chrome window cranks and door release levers up front on the doors. The dash is a busy place with massive grille work at its center, a row of buttons along the top, plus a speedometer and analog clock (no digital in 1947!). A few other gauges are easily seen along with controls under the passenger-side dash.
The Series 62’s steering wheel matches that creamy interior trim, but with a three-spoke chrome hub and horn ring. Over the windshield is a built-in roof support and the chrome rearview mirror.
Know too there is a detailed undercarriage with single exhaust system and solid axle rear suspension. If you pose this on a base with mirrored bottom a viewer can see some of that. Wheels also highlight those big Sombrero wheel covers and wide white-sidewall tires.
I prefer 1950s through 1970s cars myself, but this is an elegant look back at post-war heavy metal and will accurately reflect those times in your collection, plus highlight the big jump forward in styling that the 1950s cars represent.
Vital Stats: 1947 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible
Maker: Auto World Scale: 1/18 Stock No.: AW273 MSRP: $123.99
American Motors almost always had to swing for the fence when it came to introducing new products because they didn’t have the big budgets to work with like GM, Ford, and Chrysler did. The same went for their marketing.
Enter the second generation Matador in 1974 and with the Ambassador being dropped became AMC’s largest car. With its second generation, the Matador became AMC’s largest automobile after the discontinuation of the Ambassador. A lot of effort went into this entry in the personal luxury market, one which AMC was looking to cash into. Premium trim levels of the second generation Matador coupe were marketed as the Barcelona and Oleg Cassini.
The Barcelona edition was loaded with a 360 V8, auto transmission, tilt steering, air conditioning, 8-track player, matching vinyl landau roof, rear opera windows along with unique interior markings and seats your butt could get lost in.
There was a love-it-or-hate-it mentality regarding the Matador coupe even among AMC geeks. I liked it. It beat the coffin-nose front end that the Matador adopted when it replaced the Rebel in 1971. My first car was a 70 Rebel SST with the one year only aluminum side molding.
The coupe, designed by Richard Teague, sold well the first couple of years, outselling the four-door by nearly 25,000 units in 1974 but dropped to less than 10,000 in 1978 just over 2,000 and the company pulled the plug. It had a claim to fame being featured in the James Bond movie Man with the Golden Gun where it flew.
These don’t sell for a lot of money. According to Classic.com an average of just short of $20,000 which makes this one sold on Bring A Trailer for $41,000. An eye-popping price even for me. That’s quite a return on a car that listed for around 7 grand. This is the kind of money that first-gen AMX’s sell for!
What makes this one so special? According to the listing it was built for its designer, Teague, and was the last one off the line. It went up for sale with only 7,000 miles and the original window sticker. Like most of the ones ordered, this one two was well equipped and lived in Minnesota. Check out that interior. Those seats were pure butt vacuums. Love the license plate. Hope it found a good home.
There’s big, and then there’s Max. In this case Max is Ford’s new Expedition Max, as if the original Expedition weren’t large enough. Apparently it was not.
The Max is nearly a full foot longer than the original’s 210 inches and this special Burgundy Velvet Metallic ($395) test SUV was the Platinum edition with 4-wheel-drive, the tippy top of Ford’s SUV lineup.
And let’s get this out of the way right up front, it’s priced like the Platinum edition it is, starting at $81,505 with delivery and checking in at $84,065 as equipped. That’s way up there and competes well with its cousin, the Lincoln Navigator, which with 4WD lists at $76,185. Note too that Navigator’s twin-turbo V6 creates 450 horsepower, while the tested Ford’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 delivers a healthy 400 hp. Continue reading 2020 Ford Expedition Max Platinum 4×4→
Buick’s 1956 concept car really did have futuristic features …
GM’s concept cars of the 1950s were showcased in traveling shows called Motorama and actually looked futuristic and in some cases included features that would show up on future cars, sometimes way into the future.
One was the bright red over white Buick Centurion XP-301 that was displayed in 1956 Motorama shows. NEO now offers a stellar example of the show car in 1:43 scale, and the resin model may surprise you.
The Centurion, a name later used in the 1970s by Buick, was a Harley Earl design reflecting the aircraft and rocket styling touches that were so popular in the 1950s as the U.S. was rushing toward the space race.
Its pincher like nose design with headlights in rocketlike pods would grab everyone’s attention at the time, along with the tapered tail that looks like a jet engine with overhanging flat fins. Oh, and then there’s the bubble top, completely clear except for the metal support structure and window frames. Continue reading Die-cast: NEO’s 1956 Buick Centurion XP-301→
I can still remember the first time I saw a Buick Riviera. As a kid, I was wowed. Its sleek lines, the headlights canted forward to make it look fast and sporty. There was just something about it that oozed elegance and class, and a bit of speed too!
Automodello brings us a bevy of new 1965 Riviera Gran Sport models to fulfill any collector’s fantasies about owning one. These are 1/24 scale resin models that continue Automodello’s tradition of creating beautifully finished models that fit well in any plastic car modeler’s collection.
Like variety? Automodello delivers the Riviera in seven colors and in various quantities, from the snazzy Astro Blue with 299 models made, to the Enthusiasts Editions in Arctic White, Flame Red with black top and interior, and Burgundy Mist with black interior. Just 19 will be made of each Enthusiasts Edition.
Today the blending of cars and trucks seems natural as SUVs and crossovers have become the preferred mode of personal transportation in the United States. But in the late 1950s and early 1960s such a thought was downright odd.
Ford stirred the beast first when it created the Ranchero and within two years Chevrolet answered with El Camino, basically wagons made into pickups with a big open bed behind the enclosed front seat compartment. Some considered El Camino a coupe utility pickup, a fairly apt description.
NEO has created a sharp 1/43 scale version of the 1959 El Camino in black with a red interior and plenty of chrome nose and tail.
The original El Camino was only around two years 1959–1960 and was made in GM’s Arlington, Texas plant. It rode on the 1959 Chevy Brookwood platform, a new two-door station wagon that was longer, lower and wider than existing full-size Chevys. Continue reading Die-cast: NEO’s 1959 Chevy El Camino→
Imperial Crown Southampton: When styling still mattered …
As a kid I, like many folks at the time, liked cars with jet-like fins. Plus I’ve always been a sucker for the cool fake spare tire molded into the trunk lid. So Imperials, Chrysler’s luxury brand, were, and are, a favorite.
Few Imperials were more impressive than the 1957 Crown Southampton, a monster of a car, but dripping with style. Its nose with twin dual headlights favored Cadillac styling, but its slightly outward leaning tail fins and aircraft-like pointed taillights set it apart from the more staid luxury models of the day.
BoS-Models now creates a beautiful 1957 Southampton in a stunning bronze paint scheme with a cream-colored roof and enough chrome to blind an army of car show onlookers on a sunny day. This is in 1/18 scale and the body is cast resin.
Imperial became its own brand, like Cadillac for GM and Lincoln for Ford, in 1955. The second generation Imperials debuted in 1957 and had their own distinct platforms, something that lasted until 1966.
These brutes were big and strong, so sturdy in fact that they were banned from most demolition derbies as being too tough to knock out of competition. Much of the reason was the Imperial’s full perimeter frame with box cross sections forming an “X” for strength. Meanwhile most cars were moving to lighter unibody construction.
1948 Chevy Fleetline Aerosedan a slick family sedan . . .
Cars that bridged the gap between pre-war America and post-World War II are an interesting lot, often dowdy and pedestrian of styling. Most consider the 1930s and 1950s as primo styling eras.
But Chevrolet’s hot-selling Fleetline series, starting in 1941 is an exception, particularly its sleek streamlined looking Aerosedan, a two-door family car with a fastback design that looks slick still today.
That’s the 1948 Chevrolet that NEO has produced in 1/43 scale, a somewhat sporty full-size car that GM began cranking out for the 1941 model year, just before converting its car plants to war machinery. And for the 1946-48 model years they cranked up the assembly lines again using the satisfying 1941 design.
Look at a four-door Fleetline and you’ll quickly see why the two-door Aerosedan and its smooth curves was such a hit. Blah describes the former, but Chevy knew it had a winner with the Aerosedan. In 1948 it sold 211,861 of the cars vs. just 64,217 of the four-door. Of course the baby boom hadn’t quite caught on just yet either.
The car, which was a sub-series of Chevy’s Fleetmaster, featured a Chevy Blue Flame 216 cu.in., inline six engine that created 90 horsepower. That meant the car was no slouch. It could hit nearly 80 mph. The Fleetline rode on a 115-inch wheelbase, about three inches longer than the current Chevy Impala, and was 197 inches long, about four inches shorter than today’s Impala.
Bottom line, it was nothing fancy, but looked good, with good power and was reliable. If you’re a Chevy guy, it also wasn’t a Ford!
NEO’s resin bodied Aerosedan is beautifully shaped and perfectly reflects the smooth lines of the sedan, plus hood, trunk and door seams are all stellar. This tiny Chevy also includes all the chrome trim as seen on the original.
That includes three thin chrome styling strips flaring back from the front wheel well and along the rear fender to the taillights. Bumpers are chrome too and include dual raised guards front and rear. There’s a chrome Chevy hood ornament along with all window trim, including vents and the flat split windshield. Door handles, gas filler cap, headlight bezels, wipers, trunk release and grille are chrome.
I like the fine detail of the photo-etched Fleetline logos along the hood’s sides, the script name on the trunk and winged Chevy logo on the nose. Head and taillights are fine too and there’s a yellow Ohio license plate front and rear. Broad whitewall tires treaded tires with large chrome hubcaps put the car on the road. Those caps are the fancy Chevy models with painted red swooshes (sorry Nike, Chevy beat you) and Chevrolet in blue too. Cool!
Inside is a reddish brown dash and door trim that really sets off the gray bench seats in the interior. The dash top doesn’t look as metallic as it might, but the color is nicely mated to the car and the dash face looks authentic, including a giant clock in the glove box door. This was a wind-up clock that would run for a week on one full wind. The speedometer is similarly large and visible, of course the side windows are all up, which does slightly limit your taking a peek inside.
NEO creates a fine two-spoke cream steering wheel with horn ring, and the steering column and hub match that reddish brown dash color. Sharp!
A cool addition to the model would be a green translucent sun visor like so many of these have worn over the years to keep the sun from reflecting from what was a metal dash. Maybe on a future model!
Cadillac has mastered the styling, now it needs to work on the details.
The new Cadillac XT5 crossover continues Cadillac’s sharp chiseled styling with tall taillights and noteworthy nose and headlight stylings. Its interior is luxurious and attractive in a way most German makes have yet to figure out because of their love for black leather.
But the XT5’s seats are way too snug in the hip and the ride too firm for our crumbling Wisconsin roads that are cracked by time, winter and a lack of willingness to pay for improving them. Additionally its CUE audio screen is improved, but still not the easiest to master while driving.
The XT5, which replaces the SRX and rides on what should be a smoothing 112.5-inch wheelbase delivers a firm ride that turns too sharp and bumpy on cracked streets and highways.
Yet like other Cadillac’s and GM products, the XT5 delivers ample power with a new 3.6-liter direct-injected V6 with variable valve timing. It’s rated at 310 horsepower and 271 ft.-lbs. of torque, so it’ll scoot when required to. That happens best when in Sport mode which holds gears longer in the 8-speed automatic. In normal mode acceleration is moderate. Continue reading 2017 Cadillac XT5 Premium AWD→