A Good Year: Do You Conform With These Rules?

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air

Like fine wines and their ‘good years’, a car’s desirability can also be¬†signified by its year of manufacture. Just as a season of perfect weather conditions grace the land, producing palate-tantalising grape nectar, car designers manage to merge the combination of curves, lines and technological advancements to create an automotive ‘good’ year.

One of the finest years has to be 1957, a year Chevrolet nailed the Bel Air pictured above. Out of all the automotive TV programs I watch, “57” comes up the most. It’s not surprising, either; just look at the combination of curves and lines and the way it’s a fairly compact car but features those glorious fins.

This article features American cars because, although Euro and Japanese cars have their ‘good’ modes, they are defined more by their chassis number, spec¬†and ‘facelift’ improvements.

1962 Ford Thunderbird

1962 Ford Thunderbird

Take the Ford Thunderbird above, for example, one of my favourite looking cars. Despite it being in my top 5 garage, I could only have one from 1961-63 because of those rear afterburner tail lights. American cars seemed to change their looks considerably over a short period of time, whereas the rest of the world hang on to their chassis number longer and work on technology and subtle design improvements.

1963 Corvette

1963 Corvette

Another extremely desirable car is the 1963 Corvette Stingray for the simple reason ’63 was the only year Chevrolet produced the rear split-screen.

1970 Plymouth Hemi Cuda

1970 Plymouth Hemi Cuda

In 1970, after Plymouth had a redesign on their Barracuda, shifting it away from resembling their Valiant design, they built a limited number Hemi ‘Cudas, a car now highly sought after because of its place and heritage in the 1970s muscle car story.

Last but not least… 1987… the Buick GNX. How could Gargling Gas not feature its all time favourite car? After Buick transformed their rather bland Regal into a turbocharged monster in 1984, calling it the Grand National, just three years on saw a farewell with their GNX, the X standing for ‘experimental’. This X meant 275-hp, a massively understated figure¬†that left the GNX a must for the serious collector.

1987 Buick GNX

1987 Buick GNX

Of course, there are many more cars I could list, so forgive me for not listing them, but I’d be getting away from the point of my article:

So with my long-winded explanation that cars have their good years and all this talk of desirable models, do you conform to prescribed? Do you go along with these ‘good’ years, or do you like the ‘undesirables’, the ‘ugly ducklings’ you find alluring, looks that appeal to you simply because they tick all your personal boxes?

 

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Resto-modding: Saving The Underdogs Of Yesteryear

Ford Escort Mk1

To some people, resto-modding is nothing more than¬†stripping a car of all its originality. This group of people are called ‘Purists’, a breed I totally respect and fully understand their views on maintaining originality, but there are some cars that just don’t warrant the expense of sourcing original parts, whether resto-modded or not.

Take the Mk1 Ford Escort above, for example, the base for a potential resto-mod project that could end up resembling the rally legend featured in Fast N Furious 6.

Paul Walker Ford Escort Fast N Furious

The Ford driven by the late Paul Walker in the Fast N Furious 6 was the legendary Escort Mexico, a car still used today for amateur rally because of its superb yet simple layout and chassis.

To find an original Mk1 Mexico in good condition today will set you back around ¬£25,000, a car I’d personally like to see kept 100% original because of its adequate power and sufficient brakes. However, the Ford pictured at the beginning and below is just the 1.1-L Popular base model.

A half decent 2 door example can be sourced for around the £3-5K mark. Now instead of scrapping the poor car or parting it out, how about giving it a big heart transplant, disc brakes and a cool paint job?

 

Mk1 Ford Escort

Keeping a classic on the road with modern parts and technology is surely a good thing? Whether it’s an original Mexico or not, the finished project could still look like the car below. I’m all for keeping cars original, but¬†when you can take a base model and inject it with fire breathing technology, I’m all for saving the underdogs of yesteryear.

Mk1 Ford Escort Mexico

As a side note, Paul Walker was a real petrolhead, a Gas Gargler like myself. He had a great ‘car guy’ collection. Check out my Fast N Furious personal rides piece ¬†here¬†and see for yourself.

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Dirty, Filthy, Evil, Naughty, Sexy and Bad

Those are just six adjectives I attribute to the noise the Jaguar F-Type R creates when petrol ignites within its eight cylinders. Never mind mpg, reliability, looks (in this case the Jag does just fine), or handling, for when a car sounds this bad (the good kind of “bad”), you only have to drop the windows and hammer and all those niggling problems magically vanish –¬†and as far as I’m concerned, magic and alchemy is exactly what Jaguar have applied to this big cat’s heart.

Should you ever need to unblock your ears, just watch the video below.

The Bandit Makes $480K On His Trans Am

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If you like Burt Reynolds, Smokey and The Bandit films, or movie cars in general, this article I penned for Motorward should interest you.

Not only was the Bandit’s car up for sale, but Reynolds put up a whole host of items including movie props, awards and clothing.

The Pontiac’s greatest asset was the fact Reynolds kept hold of it after the movie was shot.

Click the link above for the full story.

I Need A Big Pussy In My Life

hellcat1

Non super car manufacturers not particularly associated with producing gargantuan power figures rarely decide to let their hair down and offer up a piece of kit capable of splitting the atom, but when they do, the news spreads like wildfire, especially if the creation is worthy of all the hype.

Remember when the ‘older persons’ brand of choice, Buick, released the muscle car-eating Grand National version of their Regal? Well, times that image by 10 and you have some idea as to the hype making the rounds surrounding Dodge.

Dodge may produce the Viper, and they’ve certainly produced great muscle cars¬†of¬†past, even rekindling their Challenger and Charger with¬†modern Hemi SRT tributes, but to take this platform and give it a supercharged 707-hp is just plain… genius – a Dodge with more horse power than a Lamborghini Aventador!

The atomic version of the Dodge Challenger SRT pictured above also comes with a¬†great name,¬†a simple yet perfectly apt title: Hellcat. Imagine being able to say: “I own a Hellcat,” safe in the knowledge your 2-tonne feline can hit 62-mph in 3.7 seconds. Even if the person asking is a Ford guy with a Shelby GT 500, you’d trump him by 45 ponies.

That collection of nuts and bolts pictured above makes up a supercharged 6.2-L Hemi V8 boasting 707-hp and 650 lb·ft of torque. Notice the headlight Рor lack of Рallowing RAM air induction to produce more torque? I really like that touch; in an age concerned with helping the environment, I love Dodge for creating this car. Was it irony they unleashed this powerhouse in green?

I hope so…

Watch the Hellcat with its claws bared, 707-hp drifting in anger.

Buick, Please Don’t Taint The GNX Legend

When car companies decide to revive¬†an old and popular model by building a ‘tribute’, they usually don’t do it any justice – it’s a bit like Hollywood rehashing a classic – think Gus Van Sant and his audacious yet¬†appalling¬†remake of Psycho.

One of my favourite cars (I’m going to own one to spank my midlife crisis into submission) is indeed the ’87 Buick GNX – I have professed my adoration for the Vader car in a previous¬†post, Love At First Sight. The GNX is special in that is was unexpected and completely insane. Buicks weren’t and still aren’t known for power or outrageous¬†styling; they were and still are comfortable and luxurious. When Buick released the Regal Grand National in 1982, the public took notice, and when Buick noticed the public taking notice, they upped the power almost every year until its final run in 1987 – the 87s are the most sought after because Buick wanted to bid the GNX farewell with a memorable send off, a special edition stroked by the McLaren brush and boasting a wildly underrated 245-bhp.

When Buick released the GNX, they gave birth to their black sheep of the fleet, a muscle car eater, a sinister machine fit for only Darth Vader, the choice of hitmen and serial killers.

Over the past year or so I’ve been following any news on the 2015 GNX, trying to find an accurate idea of what it’s going to look like – despite being released as a four door sedan and not like its coupe predecessor, I’d like to think it will resemble the picture above and the 2013 Regal GS below, because as far as modern designs are concerned, they looks pretty aggressive. Both the Grand National and GNX will be created on a RWD platform previously used by the sixth-generation Camaro and also the third-generation Cadillac CTS. Although¬†concepts have varied, I know the figures are encouraging enough, but are they good enough to earn the GNX badge and status.

Owning a 2015 GNX doesn’t need to be the stuff of midlife crisis dreams either – the performance and looks will come cheaper than the 40s fantasy Porsche 911. Even if this is just out of reach, securing a car loan from a good bank will ensure the legendary GNX badge sits in your garage.

Casting the smaller engine options and models aside, the daddy GNX will have a twin-turbo 3.6-L V6. Phew, thank god they stuck with the V6 instead of using a V8. Twin-turbo is also good because it remains true to the original in that instead of using V8s like all the other muscle cars of its era, Buick decided to go with a V6 and a big turbo. The new model will possess around 400-bhp, but is this enough to challenge the likes of the Cadillac CTS, something Buick intended?

I personally don’t think it will live up to the GNX name in ground-breaking performance, but I do think Buick will create a great looking and fast sedan. The GNX will only come in black, just like its 80s daddy, so at least they’ve got that right. Perhaps if Buick found a few more horses and stripped away some of the¬†weight using exotic materials (think BMW CSL), the GNX will be another Buick to remember. Okay, so it will push the prices up¬†shedding¬†weight, but it’s not like there’s going to be a shortage of people lining up to buy the new GNX.

 

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Driving Slow Cars Fast

Whilst the title is a little ambiguous, it holds the key to the ultimate driving experience and will make sense once you watched the following video.

I fervently follow Jalopnik and their YouTube /DRIVE channel, knowing my automotive needs will be satiated with either interesting news or all-out mayhem.

It obviously comes down to personal taste in what you look for in a car’s chassis, but I have to go with the Toyota MR2 or the Mazda MX-5 (Miata) for slow(ish) cars you know you can throw around and experience that feeling of speed due to the car’s compact size and the¬†minuscule¬†gap between you and the tarmac.

Whilst both of these cars are RWD and excellent for kicking out the rear (the MR2 perhaps too easy due to its mid-mounted engine), you may prefer FWD or AWD, the ability to attack corners without the risk of spinning or ending up in a ditch more suited to your style.

Check out the video below and tell me your favourite slow car you know feels fast when it is either sideways or zipping along bendy country lanes.