Multi-national Ford Motor Company has charted a quite conservative path through the years.

Unlike dedicated eccentrics SAAB, Citroën and even American Motors, Ford has produced few cars that could be characterized as weird, but here are five from Ford (and its Lincoln and Mercury divisions) that still have us scratching our heads…

1982-85 Ford Escort EXP

The EXP (along with its twin the Mercury Lynx LN-7) was simply bizarre. It was supposed to be a sporty two-seater version of the Escort compact, but the styling was incomprehensible. It was touted as a modern, affordable and efficient version of the concept that brought the car world the classic two-seater 1955-57 Thunderbird. But where the T-Bird was graceful and elegant, the EXP was just odd, and the squinty, hung-over look to the headlight treatment was particularly strange.


1963 Mercury Monterey Breezeway

The Monterey and its predecessor, the Turnpike Cruiser, were standard 1950s and 1960s full-size Ford Motor Company products, but it was the backward-slanted rear roofline and a rear window that lowered for ventilation that added a truly strange look to the car, as well as providing ready ingress for exhaust fumes.

RS 63_Mercury_Monterey

2002 Lincoln Blackwood

The Blackwood was a one-year-only Lincoln luxury pickup designed to compete with the Cadillac Escalade XLT. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the answer to a question that nobody was asking—a shortbed luxury pickup that was too nice to haul anything. Less than 3,500 were made in that single year.

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1959-67 Ford Anglia 105E

Famous as the flying car from the “Harry Potter” series, this English Ford sported a distinctly American feature — the bizarre, backward-slanted rear window that Lincolns and Mercurys had sported in the U.S.


1996-08 Ford Ka

Another odd duck Ford not seen in the U.S, the Ka was both an oddly named and strangely styled city car that measured just over 142” overall. Performance was largely theoretical as the Ka was powered by a derivative of the ancient four-cylinder that powered the Anglia. Handling was at least said to be entertaining.

RS 2003_Ford_Ka

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

The attrition rate of cars from the mid-disco to late Reagan-era is huge.

And while it would be great to see someone somewhere driving any one of the cars on this list, in truth, it’s hard to remember the last time anybody was seen driving any of them.

Here are my five favourite nearly extinct cars…

RS Ford Capri XL

1971-77 Mercury Capri

Few people remember the 1980s Fox-body Mustang’s near-identical twin, the Mercury Capri. Fewer still can recall the Australian-built front-wheel-drive convertible Capri. This isn’t either of those cars— it’s not even the first to wear the Capri badge. It’s the German Ford mini-Mustang Capri. Sold in the U.S. through Mercury dealers and marketed as “The Sexy European” with an assortment of four- and six-cylinder engines, it was nice looking and great to drive—at least we’re assured of this from vintage road tests. One Capri recently offered on was the first that we’ve seen in ages.

RS Mitsubishi Starion

Chrysler Conquest/Mitsubishi Starion

The Conquest was the captive import twin of the Mitsubishi Starion. In the hottest turbo spec with 197 HP, these cars would put the fear of God into Porsche 924/944 owners who had the privilege of paying almost twice as much for less performance.

Where have they all gone?

RS Travelall John Lloyd

1969-75 International Harvester Travelall

The Travelall was the Scout’s big brother, and while Scouts are still regularly seen (particularly in the summer with tops off), the Travelall has all but disappeared. In reality, it was one of the pioneers of the modern SUV and one of the first vehicles to offer anti-lock brakes. Sadly, it was completely overshadowed by the Jeep Wagoneer.

RS Chrysler Laser

Chrysler Laser/ Dodge Daytona Z Turbo

The K-car platform saved Chrysler in the 1980s and underpinned nearly everything that they built, including the sporty Laser/Daytona twins.  The car was nowhere near as bad as the foregoing would suggest; 2.2- and 2.5-liter turbo fours produced anywhere from 175 HP to 224 HP in their hottest states of tune. Carroll Shelby versions of the Daytona are somewhat collectible, assuming you can find one.

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1975-81 Volkswagen Scirocco MKI

The Scirocco was the spiritual successor to the Karmann-Ghia. It followed the same formula of a pretty Italian body over more pedestrian underpinnings (in this case a body designed by Ital Design clothing Rabbit-derived mechanicals). No matter, it was a decent handler and quick enough for the day. Today, there are probably more Bentley Continentals on the road than MK I Sciroccos.


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 and you can email rsass [at] hagerty [dot] com

There was nothing even slightly swoopy or jet-like about the Hudson Jet, or the rest of these oxymoronic automobiles…

Few things in the development of a new car are more crucial than the name.

In the case of a bland or mediocre car, it’s the last chance the marketers have to generate some buzz. That may well be why some of the most ordinary cars have wound up with some of the fiercest and flashiest names. Here are five inappropriately named cars:

RS Chevy_Sprint_1991

1. Chevrolet Sprint

The Sprint was built by Suzuki for Chevrolet. Powered by a rather anemic three-cylinder engine, its acceleration off the line resembled not so much a sprint but more of a drunken stumble. Its Suzuki-badged counterpart was known by an equally inappropriate name, the Swift.

RS 77_Bobcat

2. Mercury Bobcat

A bobcat is a rather fierce North American wild cat. The Mercury Bobcat, on the other hand, was essentially a fancy Ford Pinto over laden with chrome trim and other options that added on additional pounds, sacrificing what little performance the Pinto possessed. While the feline Bobcat is plentiful in the wild, the Mercury version is all but extinct.

RS 89_Hyundai_Excel_Sedan

3. Hyundai Excel

The Excel was first car sold by Hyundai in the U.S., and given the top-to-bottom excellence of the current Hyundai lineup, it’s probably a car they’d prefer to forget. Other than cheapness, the Excel essentially excelled at nothing — unless someone handed out an award for “crudest interior” or “oddest-smelling plastic.”

RS 1971_AMC_Hornet

4. AMC Hornet

The hornet is one pugnacious insect, and as anyone who has ever been on the wrong side of one can attest, they definitely can sting. With the exception of the rare S/C 360 version from 1971, the AMC Hornet was a pleasant-looking and practical compact sedan/wagon/hatchback without much of a sting.

RS 1954_Hudson_Jet Rex Gray

5. Hudson Jet

Jet planes were on the mind of nearly every car designer and ad man in the U.S. during the 1950s. Fins, bogus jet intakes, jet exhausts and jet hood ornaments found their way onto countless cars from that decade. Curiously, the Jet wasn’t among them. There was nothing even slightly swoopy or jet-like about the Hudson Jet. It was a thoroughly upright and conventional compact from a company that later became part of American Motors.

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 and you can email rsass [at] hagerty [dot] com

As venomous snakes go, Cobras are wicked cool… (more…)

Several years ago, there was a large reward posted for evidence that the Ivory Billed Woodpecker was not extinct, as was previously thought.

Strangely, the classic car world has yet to respond in like fashion for evidence that breeding pairs of Plymouth Crickets or Mercury Bobcats are still out there.

We’re not offering a reward but – for what it’s worth – here’s the Hagerty Insurance list of some of our favourite threatened, endangered and extinct cars:

1. 1975-80 Chevrolet Monza: The Monza, based on the infamous Chevy Vega, might well have been the most attractive GM car of the mid-1970s. More than 300,000 were built, and although the styling was a high-quality job, build quality wasn’t any better than anything else of the era, which may explain the extreme scarcity of survivors.

Status: Threatened

2. 1971-76 Mercury Capri: The Capri was Ford of Europe’s answer to the Mustang. Like the Mustang, it was built on rather ordinary sedan underpinnings but the result was handsome, well made and, in the case of the V-6 powered cars, fast. It was quite popular in the early 1970s, selling more than 100,000 units in its first two years. Where they all went is anyone’s guess.

Status: Endangered

1973 Capri

3. 1984 Plymouth Voyager (Dodge Caravan): Introduced in 1983, Chrysler’s original was powered by a carbureted 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine making just 96 horsepower. Chrysler’s reinvention of the station wagon relegated that very category to “endangered” within a decade. Despite its massive sales, we’re not sure if a single collector-grade example exists outside of Chrysler’s own museum.

Status: Extinct

1984 Plymouth Voyager

4. 1984-1985 Ford EXP Turbo: The basic idea was simple: Take an Escort coupe, rip out the back seats to make it a “sporty” two-seater. The problem was that the EXP weighed 200 pounds more than the already pathetically slow Escort. It took two years to remedy the issue by giving the EXP an optional turbocharged 1.6-liter that made 120 horsepower. But the car was priced at nearly $10,000, making it more expensive than a Mustang GT 5.0

Status: Endangered

5. 1975-81 Volkswagen Scirocco: The VW Scirocco was a replacement for the popular VW Karmann-Ghia. The VW Rabbit-based, front-wheel drive, water-cooled car had angular styling, courtesy of Italdesign and Giorgetto Giugiaro. As rust-prone as anything of the era, the first-generation has thinned almost to extinction, particularly those first-year cars with pretty chrome bumpers and funky plaid seats.

Status: Threatened

1981 Silver Scirocco

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