Classic American cars, while full of style and presence, weren’t known for their ability to stretch miles out of a gallon of fuel.
These are five of are exceptions to the rule, all capable of at least 20 miles per gallon, which was good back in the day. (more…)
Station wagons are officially and endangered species in North America.
Richard Nixon was president when the last really cool one was built in America. A quick look at the cars on this list might make you re-think any preconceived notions that wagons were all “Mom Mobiles” for the pre-minivan generation.
1955-57 Chevrolet Nomad
The iconic Tri-Five Chevy, built from 1955-1957, was likely the post-war high-water mark for Chevrolet. It came in myriad body styles and was available with the first version of Chevrolet’s legendary small-block V-8. The two-door Nomad wagon gives even the convertible a serious run for its money in the cool department.
The 1950s were littered with cool station wagons with over-the-top styling. Our vote goes for the ’59 Pontiac Safari. That was the model year in which tail fins reached their absurd apex. The ’59 Safari actually had two sets of fins on the top and the bottom of the rear fenders, making it look like a Redstone ballistic missile – which was probably not an accident.
1964-65 Chevrolet Chevelle
Two-door wagons are very impractical to the point of defeating the purpose of having a wagon in the first place, but they look cool. We love the first-generation Chevelle two-door wagon for its handy size, great looks and the fact that all of the performance parts from the two-door SS coupe will fit on the wagon, making it a great sleeper muscle car.
The Vista Cruiser and the Ford Country Squire are the cars that immediately come to mind when referring to the “back backseat,” and it was probably in one of these wagons where the classic slow-burn phrase “Don’t make me come back there” was first uttered by an agitated father. The Olds gets the nod in terms of cool, simply because we love the glass roof and GM’s spot-on styling work.
1971-73 Volvo 1800ES
Volvo of the 1960s and ‘70s wasn’t exactly a company synonymous with high style. Frumpy but practical 544s, Amazons and brick-like 240s were the stereotypical Volvos of the day. But the P1800 coupe was gorgeous, and for a few brief model years it was available as a very pretty two-door sports wagon. Nicknamed “Cinderella’s Coffin” by some for their long, flat roof lines and generous glass, these wagons are among the few truly collectible Volvos — and they run virtually forever.
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
Baby boomers are in full nostalgia mode as they contemplate their lost youth. (more…)
Most of the time, the automotive world doesn’t serve up a Godfather II, the rare sequel that is the equal or better of the original.
(Sometimes, of course, you get Godfather III.)
Here are the Top 5 cars that today are regarded as classics in their own right, but initially had a hard time living up to the legacy of their predecessors:
1. 1958 Thunderbird
The original two-seater 1955-57 Thunderbirds – or “Baby Birds” – were recognized as classics almost as soon as they went out of production. They were replaced by a larger four-seater that came to be known as “The Square Bird.” While the Square Bird was an immensely popular car that handily outsold its predecessor, the original two-seater remains the one that most people think of when the topic of T-Birds comes up.
2. 1979 Datsun 280ZX
The 280ZX had the misfortune of following one of the all-time greatest classic sports cars, the Datsun 240/260/280Z. And it also committed the cardinal sin in the eyes of sports car enthusiasts (although not necessarily in the eyes of the buying public) of being heavier and more luxurious.
It was derided by the magazines of the time as being a flashy “discomobile” and collectors are only now starting to realize the merits of the comfy and more grownup ZX.
3. 1971 Oldsmobile Toronado
The first generation Toronado that appeared in 1966 was a stylistic and engineering tour de force. Reminiscent of the great classic Cord 810 of 1936, it was a milestone car for GM. Hardly anyone remembers its successor, the second generation Toronado.
Where the ’66 broke the mold, the ’71 was the mold for generic American luxury cars of the 1970s.
4. 1976 Jaguar XJS
This one had the extreme misfortune of replacing one of the most beautiful cars of all time, the Jaguar E-Type. So naturally, people were predisposed to hate it when it came out. Other than initial quality control issues, which have become legendary, the XJS was neither a bad nor ugly car — quite the contrary.
But for Jaguar, lightning just couldn’t strike twice: There was simply no way that the XJS could be as lovely as the E-Type.
5. 1974 Ford Mustang II
The early 1970s were dark times for the automobile. The Arab Oil Embargo of 1973 put the brakes on large displacement high performance engines. What was Ford to do about cars like the Mustang, whose reputation was built on V-8 performance? Replace it with a four-cylinder version based on the Pinto, of course. Although V-6s and V-8s were offered, it was the sting of the anemic four-banger that stuck with the II until Ford replaced it in 1979 with what would become the very good and very popular Fox body Mustang.