by Matt Lewis, Driveway
With winter still hitting some northern regions of the country, it seems only right to highlight some of the lesser-known AWD vehicles from our automotive past.
Completely by accident, this list starts with attractive vehicles, and it is downhill from there!
Toyota Celica GT-Four All-Trac Turbo
One of my favorite lesser-known AWD vehicles, the Toyota Celica GT-Four All-Trac Turbo, was not only attractive but packed a punch compared to the standard Celica seen in many high school parking lots. The intercooled turbo four-cylinder engine was capable of producing over 200 hp and 200 lb-ft. Plenty of power for helping you through some snow drifts on your way to work, or getting air over some crests in a rally stage.
Mitsubishi Galant VR-4
Sitting on top of the Galant line, this Evolution predecessor was limited in the USDM to only 3,000 units reaching our shore from 1991-1992. Any owner of the Galant VR-4 will proudly show you the production number plate on the dash. While the stock 237 hp from the factory is nothing to be ashamed of, the tuner favorite 4G63T engine is capable of making this an alarming sleeper car.
Honda Civic Wagovan AWD
I don’t know which I love more — the prospect of an AWD Civic (I’m a fan) or the fact that they named this the Wagovan. While you won’t be passing any other car on this list while driving one, you will get a fair number of people commenting, “I’ve never seen one of these.”
AMC Eagle Kammback
Any list of odd AWD vehicles is going to include the Eagle wagon. But if you want to get even weirder, here is the Kammback. Utilizing the aerodynamics derived from Wunibald Kamm, the Eagle Kammback was available for two whole years. AMC dropped the Kammback in 1983 due to slow sales after only 6,123 made it to the streets.
Toyota Previa S/C AWD
Okay, this is not a car, it’s a van but it’s undeniably cool. Toyota decided to produce a jellybean, then super charge it and push the power to all four wheels. The Roots-type supercharger provided 6psi through the air-to-air intercooler pushing the 2.4-litre four cylinder to an “impressive” 160 hp.
Pontiac 6000 STE AWD
For a whole two years Pontiac offered the 6000 STE that could turn all four wheels. The standard 3.1-litre V-6 had 135 hp. Not a crazy amount, but still enough to get you down the road in 1988. With hopes to compete with BMW and Audi, the Special Touring Edition fell short in multiple categories.
*Matt Lewis writes for Hagerty Insurance. Hagerty is the world’s leading specialist provider of classic car and boat insurance. Learn more at hagerty.ca.
“Chevrolet certainly had an interesting way of celebrating the Camaro’s birthday – they killed it at age thirty-five.”
Canada has an automotive heritage every bit as rich as that of the United States. Some extraordinarily interesting collectible cars have been produced here over the years.
These are five favourites:
Rob Sass is the vice-president of content for Hagerty Insurance. Hagerty is the world’s leading specialist provider of classic car and boat insurance. Learn more at hagerty.ca.
by Jonathan A. Stein
Like people, certain cars have a sinister look about them, especially in dark colours and particularly in black.
Some cars have been typecast for the large and small screens and others just look evil without any help from the mass media. Here are a handful of production cars that look as if they could scatter children and make law-abiding citizens run for their lives.
1935 Cord 810 Beverly or Westchester: Sleek and low for its era with that coffin nose, few cars have more of an air of threat about them. To me, the chrome pipes of the 812 take away a lot of the menace.
1957 Lincoln Premiere: Low, long, and wide, from its stacked headlamps to its perfectly proportioned fins, there is an air of menace about any ’57 Premiere in a dark colour.
I can’t see a ’52 or ’53 Cadillac Fleetwood in a dark colour without expecting Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) to step in or out of it. If ever a car was typecast, this is it.
1959-1966 Jaguar Mk II: This car has been cast repeatedly as the villain’s ride in all manner of British television and movies, though its menace is largely due to expectation rather than appearance.
1957 Plymouth Fury: This car would look threatening and scary even if it hadn’t been immortalized in Stephen King’s “Christine” as the embodiment of evil.
Very few cars look scarier than a Facel Vega HK 500 — in black. I’ll never forget the last time I saw a somewhat questionable – and now departed – car dealer. He was moving a black Facel Vega and it had a powerful burble and looked ready to spirit him away from a bank job or armored car heist.
1968-1972 Corvette Stingray: Talk about a car that looks “Bad Ass”; few cars top a black Stingray with chrome bumpers.
1961-1964 Lagonda Rapide: If there hadn’t been so few of them, this car definitely would have been a stereotypical “bad guy’s” car. They’re just plain menacing, even in white.
1963-1968 Marcos 1600 or 1800GT: Few cars are lower or look more sinister than these terrifically styled sports cars from England. They’re seldom seen on our shores. And although they look scary, they’d be hard to hop into for a quick getaway and there’s limited space to haul the loot.
The SAAB 900 Turbo had a very long life — from 1978 until 1998 — but it’s the cars from the mid-80s that will be best remembered as extremely predatory-looking. I’m talking about a black three-door Turbo, probably with tinted windows.
All kinds of cars make statements, but when you combine, long, low and wide with great presence, sometimes a car can be a little scary.
Jonathan A. Stein writes for Hagerty Insurance. Hagerty is the world’s leading specialist provider of classic car and boat insurance. Learn more at hagerty.ca
“The theory behind the ‘his-and-hers’ shifter was women wouldn’t want to be bothered by changing gears while driving!”
by Matt Lewis
Anyone who has purchased a car has faced an overwhelming list of features on the window sticker.
Over the years, there have been some imaginative features offered right from the dealership. Here are five of the more ‘interesting” examples.
Lightning Rods Shifter – 1984 Oldsmobile Hurst
The perfect option for any automotive enthusiast who just can’t get enough levers, the Lightning Rods shifter walks a very strange line between a typical automatic and a full ratchet shifter. As goofy as it may look, Lightning Rods have no problem putting the power to the ground.
Swivel Seats – 1975 Chevrolet Laguna S3
It’s a wonder that more cars weren’t offered with swivelling seats, seeing as those troublesome stationary seats are always such a bother to get in and out of. While the swivel seat was designed for easy egress, an added benefit is that your vinyl won’t wear out nearly as quickly.
Highway Hi-Fi record player – 1957 Chrysler 300
The Highway Hi-Fi did its best to stop the needle scratching your precious 45s. Not only is there a generous amount of suspension built into the record player, but the pressure placed on the needle was known to prematurely wear records out.
Rim Blow Steering Wheel – 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429
In a time before road rage, Ford, AMC, Chrysler, and GM all thought it would be much better to get rid of the pesky horn button and just have drivers squeeze the wheel. One major defect of the Rim Blow was shrinkage, which caused the horn to sound all the time!
‘His-and-Hers’ Shifter (Hurst Dual/Gate) – 1969 Oldsmobile Hurst 442
One of the more sexist options to be offered on a car (to date), the Hurst Dual/Gate shifter was branded as the “His and Hers” shifter. The theory behind the ‘his-and-hers’ shifter was women wouldn’t want to be bothered by changing gears while driving! This option allowed the driver to kick the stick over and access all three gears “manually.”
“Comparatively few celebs over the years have actually been obsessive enough in their enthusiasm for cars and motorsports to be considered accomplished drivers or lifelong gearheads…”
It’s no surprise that celebrities gravitate to cool cars.
For the vast majority of them though, cars are just fashion accessories. Comparatively few celebs over the years have actually been obsessive enough in their enthusiasm for cars and motorsports to be considered accomplished drivers or lifelong gearheads. Here are six with real cred:
Jay Leno is probably one of the best-known celebrity gearheads. His “Jay Leno’s Garage” website is well trafficked and his videos garner thousands of views on YouTube. Leno is no poser; he’s a consummate car guy and he has a very independent collecting philosophy – he’s out to impress no one. He buys what he likes and what he finds technically interesting, and he even has been known to turn a wrench or two.
The King of Cool, the late Steve McQueen owned some of the greatest collectible cars of all time, from a one-of-16-built Jaguar XK SS to a Ferrari 250 GT Lusso. Whenever any of the movie actor’s former cars hit the auction circuit, they sell for several multiples of what a non-McQueen car could expect to garner. Hell, even the guy’s sunglasses once fetched $70,000 at auction.
Most people remember the late James Garner as the laidback private eye Jim Rockford who drove an equally cool Pontiac Firebird and devised the trademark Jim Rockford “J turn.” The owner of numerous classic cars over the years, Garner starred in the 1965 John Frankenheimer racing epic Grand Prix, where the real drivers serving as technical advisers told him that he had serious talent. As a team owner in the 1960s, his cars had frequent successes included taking five of the first seven places in the brutal Baja 500 race.
As a New Yorker, it seems odd that comedian Jerry Seinfeld would turn out to be one of Hollywood’s most accomplished gearheads. Conventional wisdom holds that New Yorkers don’t own cars, and to the extent that they interact with them, they’re yellow and have a light on the roof. But Seinfeld has over the years become one of the world’s premier Porsche collectors. The exact extent of his collection is not widely known, but it is said to include some of the earliest Porsches from the late 1940s as well as some of Porsche’s most famous racing cars. Not a subscriber to the trailer and velvet ropes philosophy of collecting, Seinfeld actually drives most of his cars on a regular basis.
Grey’s Anatomy actor Patrick Dempsey is a fixture at many of the big collector car auctions, particularly Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale sale in January, and he maintains a serious collection of vintage cars. But Dempsey’s biggest footprint is in the motorsports world. He’s competed at serious venues like Le Mans and Daytona and in the Baja 1000. At this point, it’s difficult to say whether Dempsey is an actor who races cars or a racer who acts.
Paul Newman was no stranger to cool street cars. We loved him in the hockey epic Slapshot in a Gold 1970 Pontiac GTO and in the Porsche Speedster from Harper. Out of films and on the street, he tended to be more low-key though, famously taking to the streets of Westport, Conn., in an innocuous-looking Volvo wagon that hid a fire-breathing GM V-8. But it was on the race track that Newman earned his gearhead cred – successful showings at The 24 Hours of Le Mans, Daytona and numerous races in the SCCA Trans Am series were among his major accomplishments. Respect for him as a driver was universal and he was posthumously inducted into the SCCA Hall of Fame in 2009.
Rob Sass is the vice-president of content for Hagerty Insurance. Hagerty is the world’s leading specialist provider of classic car and boat insurance. Learn more at hagerty.ca
‘Twas the week before New Year’s, and all through the car
Components were groaning, it couldn’t drive far.
The tow straps were hung by the work bench with care,
In hopes that new parts soon would be there.
The poor old engine had ran out of puff
With thick smoke billowing, it needed more than a buff.
The transmission was leaking, the engine misfired
Leaving me weeping, from these repairs I would tire.
When out on the lawn there arose a low rumble
So smoothly it sounded.
No roughness, no stumble.
“I envy that sound,” I said with a mumble.
Just as I’d feared, prognosis: not good.
When a deep voice behind me said “You did all you could.”
As you can imagine, I turned mighty quick,
And there by my work bench, stood my old friend Nick!
A bundle of car parts strapped to his back,
He went to my work bench, and opened the sack.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to my ride,
And fixed it with love, horsepower and pride!
He started the engine and said with a smile,
“This car was worn out, it has been a while!
Enjoy your ride, all shiny and new,
For it’s not very often that car dreams come true!”
Then his big block exploded with Flowmaster sound,
Nick dropped the clutch, the tires shredded the ground.
I heard him exclaim, as he blasted from sight,
“Merry Cruisemas to all, and to all a good night!”
Twas the Night before Cruisemas” was created by Hagerty Insurance. Hagerty is the world’s leading specialist provider of classic car and boat insurance. Learn more at hagerty.ca
“The ’48 Cadillacs were the first all-new Caddies after the end of WWII and they were drop-dead gorgeous.”
The big stories out the of classic car world today are the multi-million dollar rarities that will be offered for sale at the big auctions in Monterey, Ca.
With those cars making headlines, it’s easy to forget that there isn’t a millionaires-only policy when it comes to classic cars. Here are four favourite all-American classics that can still be had for less than the price of a loaded new Ford Focus:
The ’48 Cadillacs were the first all-new Caddies after the end of WWII (the 1946-47 cars were similar to the 1942 model), and they were drop-dead gorgeous with the first of the fighter plane-inspired tail fins that would grow to near mutant proportions by 1959. As elegant as any Bentley of the era, the ’49 model was the first with Cadillac’s modern overhead valve V-8.
1961-63 Ford Thunderbird
The third generation T-Bird is arguably the prettiest. The epitome of jet-age, mid-century modern style, it was dubbed “the bullet bird” for its streamlined shape. Nice coupes are particularly reasonable, and with a little searching, decent convertibles can be found for $25,000 or less.
1964-66 Ford Mustang
The first generation Mustang which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, has clearly aged beautifully, looking just as fresh today as it did in April of 1964 at its New York World’s Fair introduction. Prices seem to be firming up, but six-cylinder coupes and convertibles are still available at a reasonable price.
1927-31 Ford Model A
Like movie sequels, few automakers have had the ability to follow up one blockbuster with another of equal magnitude. The Model A was “The Godfather II” to the Model T’s “The Godfather.” If you look at American period photos from the 1930s-40s, it sometimes seems like there was nothing else on the road. They can still provide reliable transportation even in the 21st century. Amazingly, this piece of automotive history is still affordable. Tudor sedans range from $15,000 to $20,000 and roadsters $20,000 to $25,000.
Rob Sass is the vice-president of content for Hagerty Insurance. Hagerty is the world’s leading specialist provider of classic car and boat insurance. Learn more at hagerty.ca and you can email rsass [at] hagerty [dot] com
I spend the entire year driving new cars so this seemed like a fun way to spend some fun time in a classic.” – Keith Morgan
The Hagerty Spring Thaw is a budget-minded driving adventure through British Columbia for pre-1979 touring and sportscars.
And that was all cost conscious Driveway editor Keith Morgan needed to know to take part in this un-scored, non-competitive event, which takes place next month entirely within the province of British Columbia.
“I spend the entire year driving new cars so this seemed like a fun way to spend some fun time in a classic,” Morgan explained.
“My old friend George Holt, from Gabriola Island, has a rather fine 1954 Jaguar XK120 roadster so I’m going to ‘nagivate’ for him. Yes, knowing George I will be doing more ‘nag’ than ‘nav’!”
The drive starts on Friday, April 25, in Squamish and finishes in Hope, on Sunday, April 27. To ensure an “adventure”, the route will remain secret until competitors receive their entry packages at registration.
Way-finding instructions will be detailed and clear, and will not require any calculations or rally knowledge. The event consists of 100 percent paved roads, with some mountainous terrain, and driving is scheduled during daylight hours. Car wash facilities are available at each overnight stop.
The Morgan and Holt Driveway team will photograph the event and their journey along the spectacular 1,200km route over three days. The account of their adventure will appear in Driveway and online at drivewaybc.ca in early May.
Squamish Classic Car Adventures and the West Coast Rally Association organize the Spring Thaw and follow the BC Rally Regulations.
The event is open to sport, touring and classic cars from 1979 and earlier. The organizers say that if people believe they have a unique car that fits, but doesn’t meet the age category they should make contact, regardless.
Nigel Matthews is the director of sales and marketing for Hagerty Insurance Canada.
E-mail him at: nmatthews [at] hagerty [dot] com