It carried a bad nickname for some owners, Ruster.
OK, so right out of the gate, Mopar fans, I really like the Duster. Easy now. We OK? My personal experience comes from my best friend who owned one. He bought it used and I’m not sure how many miles he had on it. I do remember it had a 3 on the floor, the slant six and was some sort of orangish/yellow. I also remember kicking the rear quarters and it raining rust. It was a solid car though otherwise. Rust wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for the cars of this era. They all rusted. He traded it for a Chevy Nova when he had to I think buy a new manifold for his Duster and didn’t fare much better because the Nova he got caught on fire while he was driving it. Good name, Nova. Puffffff! Continue reading Plymouth Ruster….err Duster→
Barn find is a term used when somebody finds a really special car which has been sitting in the corner of a barn all covered up. What the treasure hunter will do is restore the car to the way it came out of the factory. But restoration projects are not just limited to the barn finds for the real cars.
The Pony Car market was red hot in 1967. After seeing what Ford had in the Mustang introduced three years before, the other manufactures jumped into the game big time. General Motors had two entries in the game, the Chevy Camaro and Pontiac Firebird which shared the same F-body platforms. There were differences between the two cars. The Firebirds bumpers were integrated into the design of the front end and its rear “slit” taillights were inspired by the Pontiac GTO.
For GM, the Firebird was their Plan B for Pontiac, who had initially wished to produce a two-seat sports car of its own design, based on the original Banshee concept car. However, GM feared such a vehicle would directly compete with Chevrolet’s Corvette. Whoa….can’t do that. Instead, let’s just have it compete with the Camaro. The Banshee was really a cool car and too bad some product manager had his toes stepped on.
Back to the Firebird which was not really a bad Plan B. Since Pontiac was the performance division of GM, there were two V8 engines: the 326 CID (5.3 L) with a two-barrel carburetor producing 250 hp; the “H.O.” (High Output) engine of the same displacement, but with a four-barrel carburetor and producing 285 hp or the 400 CID (6.6 L) from the GTO with 325 hp.
In 1969, it was off to the races as a $725 optional handling package called the “Trans Am Performance and Appearance Package,”, named after the Trans Am Series, which included a rear spoiler, was introduced. Of these first “Trans Ams,” only 689 hardtops and eight convertibles were made.
Of course where were some very famous Firebirds. Starting in 1977, the Firebird, and more specifically the Trans Am, received a number of roles in big movies, most of which starring Burt Reynolds. Later on a Trans Am, named KIT was he star of Knight Rider. What to take a guess on what KIT stood for? Cue the Jeopardy music….. Give up? Knight Industries Two Thousand. “Knight Rider, a shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist. Michael Knight, a young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of the innocent, the helpless, the powerless, in a world of criminals who operate above the law.” Sorry, I watched way too much TV.
Promo model prices are on a similar scale with the real deals in that the tougher ones to find cost more to own. The first generation 1967-1969 Firebird promos were available in coupe and convertible and generally two or three colors for the coupe and one or two colors for the convertible. Many of the first generation promos have become difficult to obtain in presentable condition. This is due to the fact they were given to small children to play with making the attrition rate very high. I can attest to this myself!
According to John M. Witzke, who writes for the Firebird Gallery website, the 1968 Firebird Convertible is one of the rarest Pontiac promotional models and is considered the most sought after of the first generation models. Value of the first generation Firebird promos in near mint condition generally range from approx. $225.00 for a ’67 coupe to $475.00 for a ’68 convertible. The first gen, 67-68 tend to command the higher prices for collectors.
When the second generation was introduced in 1970, prices dropped in about half to around $180 until 1974 where they can be found for around $50. The second gen is considered to be a good starting point at collecting.
This was, and still is, a great car. There are several factors on why the Firebird has joined the orphan class, one being simply bad management at Pontiac. Too bad since the Camaro, which was killed with the Firebird and now the Camaro is back. I think there is an after market company which is taking the new Camaro and giving it a look similar to what the real deal could have been.
Even though I was only 9 in 1963…there, I blew the cover on my age, I still remember a lot about that year, the Kennedy assassination for sure. The Beatle’s U.S. TV concert, Route 66, and we had just moved from Madison to Milwaukee when dad got a job at….wait for it…American Motors. And to think he almost took the job at the chicken factory. It was also the year we had traded our 58 Rambler for the 63. It was white with a red interior. I’ve been looking for a promo car like that for a long time.
The 1963 Classic was the first all-new cars developed by AMC since 1956. Keeping the philosophy of the company, they were more compact – shorter and narrower by one inch, as well as over two inches lower than the preceding models. Even though they were smaller, they lost none of their “family-sized” passenger room or luggage capacity featuring a longer 112-inch wheelbase. Now does that sound familiar today in cars?
Throughout its life in the AMC model line-up, the Classic was the high-volume seller for the independent automaker. In 1963 mostly because of that car, many times the company was listed by some as part of the Big 4, outselling other brands such as Buick, Dodge, Mercury Chrysler, and Cadillac.
So here’s my 63 Rambler. Dad might have brought some home but most likely they were victims of car bombs (firecrackers) or car fires, or ???? I bought this one at a car show. Not sure how much I paid for it but it wasn’t a lot. Maybe $50-$70. All the parts are on this one. There is some minor warping on the right front quarter panel and the bumpers could probably need a re-chroming but otherwise in pretty good shape. I’m still looking for the white body, red interior one. If you’re not an AMC geek like me it could be for an entire Car of the Year collection. Good luck on finding the other AMC COTY in a promo model. It was the Renault Alliance.
What were you doing in 1967? For me, even though I was a kid, I was pumped because the Green Bay Packers become the first team in the modern era to win their third consecutive NFL Championship, 21-17 over the Dallas Cowboys in what became known as “The Ice Bowl”. It was a great year for cars with lots of new ones coming out.
One I remember is the Karmann Ghia made by Voltswagen originally called the Type 14 which combined the chassis and mechanics of the Volkswagen Type 1 (Beetle), styling by Luigi Segre of the Italian carrozzeria Ghia, and hand-built bodywork by German coach-builder Karmann. A guy I worked with at one time had one of these, a green one. Tall guy too. Always wondered how he fit into it. The car was a hit with consumers too. Production doubled in Germany so it was exported to America where it was also popularity especially the convertible.
It was also a hit on TV too. Trivia time here. In this spy spoof the lead spy talked to his boss on a shoe phone. Not ringing a bell? The agency he worked for was trying to bust up KAOS. OK, one more. His partner was agent 99 (Barbara Feldman). Bingo, Get Smart! The 1967 Type 14 Karmann Ghia convertible was driven by CONTROL Agent 86 Maxwell Smart (Don Adams) in the opening credits of the third and fourth seasons of Get Smart. Agent 86 would be seen in the opening credits screeching to a halt outside of his headquarters. Click on the screenshot and watch the open. Fun stuff.
In the 2008 film of the same name, a Karmann Ghia once again made an appearance driven by Smart, along with its two sister cars, though the car in the film was a model from 1970. On the 1970s sitcom Good Times an orange Karmann Ghia convertible is seen briefly during the intro. The Karmann Ghia is also the subject of a secret pass phrase in the 2011 movie Cars 2. Love that movie.
The Karmann Ghia’s last year of production was 1974 and replaced by the Volkswagen Rabbit in the U.S market. But the car’s lengthy production run, reliable underpinnings, and striking styling ensure the Karmann Ghia can be recognized in virtually every town in America. It also means it enjoys strong appreciation amongst collectors. With an original list price of $2,395 restored ones can go from around 8 grand to up to $22K for a convertible.
The promo car can be hard to find, as I can attest but are very affordable. You will have to do some looking beyond eBay to the sites that specialize in selling promo models such as Wheat’s Nostalgia and Bob’s Promotional Cars. This example I did find on eBay and is in pretty good shape. It’s so darn cute. Sorry, can’t say that with guys in the room. Nice detail on the floor pan too. It ended up finding a new home for around $150. Not bad for a good memory from 1967. Pardon me while I get my shoe phone.
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….”.
Let’s start with a bit of trivia first. What TV show did Studebaker sponsor? I’ll start singing the theme. Ooops, forgot you wouldn’t be able to hear me. By the way, I do know all the words. One clue. Alan Young f was the star, at least the two legged one. Give up? It was one of my favorite old shows, Mr. Ed. You know, a horse is a course of course of course. Ok, I’ll stop now. Do go and check out this commercial I found. I like Studebakers, maybe because like AMC, their cars are now orphans. Again like AMC, they had to compete against the Big 3 with limited assets. Also like AMC, their collectors are total geek about their cars as they should be. Their reputation was one of well-built cars but ran into trouble trying to go up against the Big 3 in a pricing war in the early 50’s. The independents only hope was seen as a merger of Studebaker, Packard, Hudson, and Nash into a third giant combine. This had been unsuccessfully attempted by George W. Mason. In this scheme, Studebaker had the disadvantage that its South Bend location would make centralization difficult and its labor costs were also the highest in the industry. What eventually happened was a merger with Packard but it made no difference. The last cars rolled out of the South Bend plant in 1964 and two years later at their Canadian operations.
They had one car in the hopper for 1964, this cool looking Spectre prototype was built in metal by Sibona-Bassano of Torino, Italy. It was a 2-door, 5- place coupe and destined to be the pattern for a 4 door family sedan and a 8-passenger station wagon. Brooks Stevens had been hired to do design work for Studebaker in its waning days and even though the company had few resources to devote to product development, Stevens managed to come up with some extremely innovative concepts. The Sceptre could have been Studebaker’s flagship car had it been introduced in 1966 as Stevens envisioned. It boasted a bevy of advanced features including full-width lighting in front using a system developed by Sylvania and fully adjustable instrumentation that could be configured almost any way the driver wished.
Some of the cars which did make it off the line were cool. My favorite is the Avanti, which is still being made by another company, the Gran Turismo Hawk, and the later Hawks which were designed by Brooks Stevens. I’ve seen 1963 Avantis going for $30,000. I found a Grand Turismo Hawk on eBay for $37,000 The sedan Larks are much more affordable, under $20,000, except for the convertibles.
Because of those prices, which are out of reach for a lot of us, there are the promo models. The ones that I found, a couple of Hawks, and a Lark Convertible, were all very affordable. You will find the later models have little or no warp so it’s going to be difficult finding an older one in perfect shape. These are great little gems from a time gone by. After you buy a promo model, all you need is a Mr. Ed model standing right next to it.