Feral treasure found in Tucson

 

SAABaritic sports car

SAABaritic sports car

A hot weekend visit to Tucson, gem of the Sonoran Desert, yielded a diverse array of feral finds, kissed (well, maybe “baked” is more like it) by the sun.  Cars that don’t have to endure humidity and snow, not not to mention body corroding road salt, last longer and we found some excellent and rare examples parked all over that spread-out ‘burg in southern Arizona.

Open the window, no trunk lid required!

Open the window, no trunk lid required!

A yellow SAAB Sonett III was truly an exciting “get” during our desert sojourn.   It’s powered by a German-built Ford V4 that seems to be trying to pop out of the hood.  The federally mandated protruding bumpers peg this one to be a late run ’73 or ’74 and just one of 8,368 made over a four year model run.   Haven’t seen one of these in the “wild” for quite a spell — maybe 40 years.

Springtime for.. (you know the song by now)

Springtime for.. (you know the song by now)

Less uncommon but still most noteworthy is this VW Thing, the civilian iteration of the World War II Wehrmacht Kübelwagen adaptation of the Beetle platform. The Thing was introduced more than 22 years after the “unpleasantness” concluded in 1945.   Those ribs in the body work are not for pleasure but, rather, to provide a modicum of structural rigidity.  Despite the off-road look, Things were not four wheel drive vehicles so being stuck in soft sand and/or mud is a distinct possibility if you insist on straying from the pavement. On the road or off, the look is as funky as you could possibly want it to be.  While safety regulations put an end to US sales in 1975, VW of Mexico continued to build these, under the model name Safari, until 1980.

Letting it all hang out back

Letting it all hang out back

Both more mainstream and more sun baked is this ’64 Ford Thunderbird.   The paint seems past the point of rubbing it out to restore the shine but we think it looks menacing in a Breaking Bad sort of way. We leave it to your imagination to guess what might be stored in the trunk, aside from the missing wheel covers.  Scary!

'Bird, man

Big, bad ‘bird, man

We were glad to happen upon this ecumenical tableau in an open car port.  Housed together were an upright sedan for formal occasions and a smart pick up for work, from GM and Ford, respectively.  The sedan is, of course, a 1989 Oldsmobile 98 Regency, a conservative conveyance, swathed in velour that is a reflection of the era when George Herbert Walker Bush lived in the White House, declared a war on drugs and the Exxon Valdez hemorraged 12 or so million barrels of crude oil that had just been extracted from Prudhoe Bay onto the shores — and far beyond — of Prince William Sound.  Ah, what a glorious time it was!  The truck is a ’66 Fairlane Ranchero, a melding of Ford’s mid-size car of the time and a pick-up, long a favorite of pool service guys over the ensuing fifty years.

Yes, actually it is your father's Oldsmobile (and your pool man's Ranchero)

Yes, actually it is your father’s Oldsmobile (and your pool man’s Ranchero)

We like the juxtaposition of this 1968 Pontiac Bonneville and late model Honda Civic.  Both were common family sedans in their respective time and dramatically underscore how the definition evolved over the decades.  That big ol’ “Pon-ton” tips the scales at more than 4100 pounds and measures just shy of 19 feet in length; the Honda is 14+ feet long and weighs under 3,000 pounds.  Not sure what the point of this exercise is except to state the obvious: times sure have changed.  The motors?  The Honda is powered by a 1.8 liter 4 cylinder unit driving the front wheels; the Bonneville is powered by a 6.5 liter V8 powering the rear wheels.  Apart from the fact that they’re both painted blue, there’s very little else in common.

..and they said Edsel looked funny?

..and they said Edsel looked funny?

Remember that ’66 Ranchero that is bunking with the Olds 98?  By the late ’70s, it had evolved into this strange thing that’s finished a tasteful shade of Halloween orange with matte black accents.  If the hood isn’t as long as the pickup bed, it’s damn close.  This “only in America” beast is powered by Ford’s “Boss 302” V8.  We know this because we can read.

"Orange" you glad you saw this?

“Orange” you glad you saw this?

Lastly, we encountered a very pristine Mazda RX7 rotary-powered sports car parked on a busy street.  This one is an early ’80s example wearing — how to put this?  — a see-through bra.  Yes, the RX7 of this era had pop-up headlights which necessitates the bra being roll up-able.  Sexy? Not really.  Ridiculous?  You be the judge.

Peek-a-boo

Peek-a-boo

We sincerely enjoyed the time spent in Tucson where the saguaro grow tall and the cars just seem to last forever.  It’s kind of a low humidity paradise in some way.

We found a really sharp 1974 SAAB Sonett for sale in nearby Tallahassee, Florida for a mere $12000 here.  It’s orange, too, like a certain Ranchero we recently encountered.

We thought you might like to check out this Olds 98 commercial from ’88.  It’s lack of any real content is stunning but it does take a moment to disparage the imports that ultimately seals Oldsmobile’s fate.  Well done, Olds!

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:  info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

Note: While we strive for factual accuracy in our posts, we readily acknowledge that we we sometimes make inadvertent mistakes.  If you happen to catch one please don’t sit there and fume; let us know where we went wrong and we’ll do our best to correct things.

"Air deece"

It’s pronounced “Rruh-no”

You had me a Marchal rally lights

You had us at Marchal rally lights

A French strain of feral fever just struck close to home and, in the spirit of liberté, égalité and fraternité, we’re here to let you know that a 1968 Renault R10 has just joined the fleet.  It’s the damnedest thing when an off-the-wall purchase seems to make sense but that’s the basic story.

Moment of transition

Moment of transition

Air vs water

Air vs water

We had two rear engine cars in the paddock: a ’67 Fiat 500 (Cinquecento) Giardiniera baby station wagon and a ’70 Volkswagen Type III Fastback.  Both of these have air cooled motors stashed under trap doors in the back.   Both have trunks in the front and room for cargo above their respective motors.  The water-cooled Renault R10 is the last rear engine model that the #1 French builder exported to the US.  Their later offerings, the R5 (marketed as “Le Car”) and Kenosha, Wisconsin-built Renault Alliance didn’t really find a market here, especially in the face of the ’70s Japanese car invasion.  After Renault sold its controlling stake in American Motors to Chrysler, it was all over for the offerings of the Régie Nationale des Usines Renault as far as the North American market was concerned. Some Renaults, however,  were sold by Chrysler as the Eagle Medallion (in concept, a great car for Sammy Davis, Jr)  and Eagle Premier which sounds like the code name for a South American dictator. 

Respect pour les anciennes

Respect pour les anciennes

We’re now down to just the “new” Renault and the little Giardinera as the Volkswagen Fastback was quickly sold off to make room for the Gallic newcomer.  Maybe it was just too “normal” to make the final cut but it was the most powerful of the three pushers with a 1.6 liter motor developing a whopping 65 horsepower.  The Cinquecento is powered by a minuscule two cylinder motor displacing slightly less than half a liter, making freeway cruising mostly a theoretical endeavor.

Open skies all'italiana

Open skies all’italiana

The Renault R10 falls somewhere in the middle of these two with a 1.1 liter motor that produces 48 horsepower.  It’s vaguely competitive on the freeway — meaning it’s capable of 65 mph under ideal conditions.  The point of its acquisition was not performance but.. hmm.. what was the point?  Oh, yes, the point was that we hadn’t had a proper French car since dear mom’s 1968 Peugeot 404 and a recent visit this winter to the giant Rétromobile* vintage car expo in Paris fired up one’s inner Francophile feelings on a certain level.  There’s always a reason, isn’t there?

Giardinera = gardener, capice?

Giardinera = gardener, capisce?

At any rate, it’s fun to drive and gets more comments than the VW since it’s so unusual and, let’s face it, kinda cute.  So there you have it or, more appropriately, voici la voiture.  Fun to drive, fun to say:  we’ll call that a win/win.

Room for tous les copains

Room for “tous les copains”

Great speedometer font or greatest speedometer font

Great speedometer font or greatest speedometer font?

If you’re interested in acquiring your very own Renault, we wish you good luck.  There are very few for sale in this country, probably because they were thought to be disposable but we did find a doppelgänger — is it OK to use a German word in describing a French car? — in nearby Arudel, ME for just $8500.   Enjoy this commercial for the R10 from 1970 in which the car is favorably compared to a horse.

*Here’s our Rétromobile coverage for Automobile Magazine’s website.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:  info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

Note: While we strive for factual accuracy in our posts, we readily acknowledge that we we sometimes make inadvertent mistakes.  If you happen to catch one please don’t sit there and fume; let us know where we went wrong and we’ll do our best to correct things.

Yes, it is Chelsea’s mother’s Oldsmobile

We just caught wind of the fact that an ’86 Olds Cutlass Ciera that once belonged to Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton is up for sale.  That gave us an excuse to delve into our extensive image bank and retrieve some examples of similar cars we’ve captured in the wild.

Hill's ride

Hill’s last ride

The Cutlass Ciera was a GM A-platform car that had much in common with corporate siblings Pontiac 6000, Chevy Celebrity and Buick Century, distinct from the rear wheel drive Cutlass Supreme and smaller Cutlass Calais.  We have no idea what Ciera is supposed to mean but we’re thinking that Ford of Europe used Sierra so maybe GM just improvised something that sounded similar. Oldsmobile had so much luck with the Cutlass nameplate that their marketers were profligate in applying it to just about anything that wasn’t a full size Ninety-Eight or Eighty-Eight.   The ploy worked; over the course of its 14 years of production the dull-as-dishwater Cutlass Ciera was Oldsmobile’s best selling model.  We found a very clean, not to mention very boring, ’90 Cutlass Ciera S wearing fake wire wheels recently and had the foresight to photograph it.  Like the former First Lady and would-be 45th President’s ’86 Cutlass Brougham, it wears badging that includes flags of many European nations plus Canada.  This was meant to denote a level of technical sophistication and worthy of consideration for potential foreign car buyers.  As if!

USA! Canada! Belgium! Finland! Italy! Great Britain! Netherlands! Switzerland! France! Portugal! Sweden! Spain! Denmark! Italy! Germany! (but not East Germany!) Norway didn't make the cut for some reason.

USA! Canada! Belgium! Finland! Italy! Great Britain! Netherlands! Switzerland! France! Portugal! Sweden! Spain! Denmark! Ireland! Germany! (but not East Germany!) Norway, where are you?

According to current owner and former White House gardener — we’re not making this up — Mike Lawn, the car which wears its original Arkansas plates may very well have been the last car which she personally drove, hanging up her keys when her husband was inaugurated on January 20, 1993.  It seems to have been retained to give First Daughter a hooptie on which to learn to drive.  If only those WH family residence walls could talk: “Thanks, mom.  My father is the leader of the free world and I have to figure out how to parallel park with this?”

The excitement builds!

The excitement builds!

The car that Mr. (really his name) Lawn is selling has only  33,000 miles on it, a reflection of the fact that the Presidential limo (a ‘93 Cadillac Fleetwood-based car) obviated the need to run up any miles on the car for an eight year span.  It offers a modicum of middle class  elegance — it has blue crush-velour seats — but is, in fact, very basic, despite the fact that it wears a the quasi-luxury “Brougham” badge.  Yes, it has crank ’em up windows.   Then again, with power from a mighty 4-cylinder, 151 cubic inch “Tech IV” motor generating 110 horsepower and 135 pounds of torque, who would really voluntarily drive such a vehicle if they didn’t absolutely have to do so?  

The wild blue yawn-der

The wild blue yawn-der

We found an Cutlass of minimally more recent vintage, a Ciera SL, that proudly wears an ABS badge on its his ample aft.  This denotes that it is equipped with an anti-lock braking system,  the equivalent of having an “I’m trying to be responsible” sign on the back of one’s car. We’re OK with that but not the fact that the trunk lid seems to need adjustment.

Trunk funk

Trunk funk

There’s a walk-around video of Mrs. Clinton’s former car and we feel compelled to share it with you in the spirit of full disclosure.  Try to stay awake through its duration and, for heaven’s sake, don’t post nasty political comments.  It’s just someone’s old car so try to restrain yourself if you truly want to make America great again.

If you’d like to purchase your very own Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera there are many to choose from.  We especially like this ’89 in Washington.  Washington, Indiana that is. It’s price to go at just $1900 and the sales pitch on this ad could very well be appropriated by a Presidential candidate. To wit: “How comforting is the low-mileage of this great 1989 Oldsmobile Cutlass? This terrific Oldsmobile is one of the most sought after used vehicles on the market because it NEVER lets owners down.”   How can you NOT vote for that?

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

Note: While we strive for factual accuracy in our posts, we readily acknowledge that we we sometimes make inadvertent mistakes.  If you happen to catch one please don’t sit there and fume; let us know where we went wrong and we’ll do our best to correct things.

Mercedes-based mutant is the work of a true visionary

Somewhere, Johnny Cash is smiling

Somewhere, Johnny Cash is smiling (note similar paint scheme of adjacent Mini. Coincidence? Perhaps not)

Meet James, the proud owner and, to a large extant, the creator of this fine automobile. It  started out in the mid-1990s as a run of the mill Mercedes Benz C280 sedan.  James, it seems, has a penchant for lily gilding, aggregating and doing his own thing that would definitely make him persona non grata in Stuttgart.  But this is America so why not let your creative juices and gonzo instincts run rampant?

Details, details..

Spoiler alert! James is In touch with his inner Earl Scheib

For reasons known only to James, he saw fit to “improve” his whip by grafting the nose of a late model Mercedes GLK sport utility onto the pedestrian C Class.  The height of the new nose didn’t correlate exactly with the altitude of the hood which has created a swayback look to the front end. It’s a very unexpected design feature that we found most impressive.

The side scoops were created by affixing a chunk of chrome ordinarily found on the rear of a Honda onto the lower front fenders. He’s also added some swanky fender flairs to the car and added red accents to the car’s original black body color.  We encountered James at a local hardware store where he was stocking up on black spray paint which he applied to the matte finish aluminum wheels in an effort to have the wheels match the tires and the bulk of the body.

There’s not much we can add to this post but to salute a guy whose personal quest for automotive distinction seems to know no bounds other than the parameters his own  imagination and, of course, a supply of Bondo® to hold his continuing efforts together.

We invite you to watch James work his special magic on the left rear wheel of his bespoke Benzo.  Behold the master at work in this video that is exclusive to FeralCars.   You are most welcome!

This commercial, set to the tune of “My Way,” aired on French TV when the C Class was launched in the early ’90s.  It serves as s commentary on James’s continuing efforts to personalize his car.  Indeed, he does it his way.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

Note: While we strive for factual accuracy in our posts, we readily acknowledge that we we sometimes make inadvertent mistakes.  If you happen to catch one please don’t sit there and fume; let us know where we went wrong and we’ll do our best to correct things.

 

 

Coupe de Ville: Caddy casual

To quote Barry White, "so much to love.."

To quote Barry White, “so much to love..”

The idea of the biggest possible car expressed via a two door coupé seems oxymoronic on the surface.  Why wouldn’t you want a behemoth like that equipped with doors in the back?  Come on, nobody would mistake a land yacht like this to be a sports car.

Yet, when Cadillac added “de Ville” to Coupé” back in 1949 while dropping the accent aigu,  the comparatively sporty two door rose to become one of Cadillac’s best sellers. The air of genteel informality it conveys is truly intoxicating.

Suddenly, it's 1960!

Suddenly, it’s 1960!

Our fixation on these rolling paradoxes was catalyzed by an encounter with a buttercup yellow 1960 Coupe deVille parked near the Rat Pack-y Purple Room in Palm Springs. In essence, it was a minimally toned-down version of the eye popping ’59 Cadillac that was the apex of juke box-inspired style.

Jimmy Hoffa approved

Jimmy Hoffa approved

Soon thereafter we encountered a dusty but, otherwise, quite perfect 1973 Coupe deVille (yes, also in Palm Springs) that has aged well over the past 4+ decades, the car has an aura of dignity that serves it well.  It’s restrained in the manner of a mob don who wears well tailored suits with a certain menacing assuredness, as only a car weighing 5,000 pounds (two and half tons?) powered by a 7.7 liter motor can. Sexy but scary!

This thing has got it all: wire wheels, skinny whitewalls, a “cow catcher” bumper, fender skirts, padded vinyl top.  An eloquent expression of graceful heft if ever there was.

Spacial profiling

Spacial profiling

A while back we cottoned up to this wonderful white ’61 Coupe de Ville.  While it’s true that fin height was down from its 1959 apogee, this was the year that Caddy’s sprouted dorsal fins under the rear fenders.  We’re talking NASA style in no uncertain terms and keep in mind that  The Jetsons didn’t premiere until a year after this was introduced.

Fintacular

Fintacular

Isn’t that roof line as Mid Century Modern as you could ever hope?  To borrow from the great Charles Phoenix, “I knoooow…”

Coupe de la Nouvelle Frontière

Coupe de la Nouvelle Frontière

Lastly we offer a work-in-progress, a ’64 Coupe de Ville that seems to be on the receiving end of some TLC.   We’d love to see how this one turns out after the right front fender is reprimered — not to mention the left front and left and right rear fenders, too.

Full frontal, Cadillac style

Full frontal, Cadillac style

Cadillac has recently signaled interest in revisiting the two door luxury market.  There was a CTS coupe that looked like no other car: an oragami-inspired folded planes exercise that is, perhaps, too futuristic for some.  That car wasn’t really much of a sales success so was discontinued but Cadillac does offer a two door version of its smallish ATS series that is not as radically styled as its immediate predecessor.  We find this a bit reminiscent of the ’59 – ’60 return from the brink of outrageousness

Points well taken

Points well taken

These cars and their reputation for excellence starts at the source: the Cadillac assembly line about which Albert King sings and plays so wonderfully in this performance filmed in Sweden in 1980.

We’re not prone to long distance psychoanalysis but we’ve concluded that you’d have to be completely out of your mind if you ignore this breathtaking low mileage (under 10,000) ’73 Coupe de Ville  offered for a negligible $18,350 in nearby Millbank SD.  What, we’re moved to ask, are you waiting for??  A new season of Fargo, perhaps?

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 9.43.09 PM

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

Note: While we strive for factual accuracy in our posts, we readily acknowledge that we we sometimes make inadvertent mistakes.  If you happen to catch one please don’t sit there and fume; let us know where we went wrong and we’ll do our best to correct things.