Category Archives: BMW

It has a passion, the Continental

Red and no longer dead

Red and no longer dead

There’s nothing like reviving an iconic name from history to bolster the fortunes of a flagging brand.  At the very least, it gets consumers nostalgic about the glorious past and builds awareness.  It seems to have worked for Chrysler (“300”), Chevrolet (“Impala”) and Volkswagen (“Beetle”) and now moribund Lincoln is getting into the act.  Ford’s luxury brand that hasn’t really offered any luxury cars of late changed its name to The Lincoln Motor Company but its range of offerings were just warmed over Fords with more sound deadening and thicker seat cushions. Model designations seem to have been chosen at random from a box of Alpha Bits — MKS, MKZ, MKT, MKX, MKC — grabbed nobody’s attention. Matthew McConaughey’s commercials did make some noise: the sound of many millions of fingers scratching millions of heads.    This past week TLMC took the wraps off its Continental Concept at the New York Auto Show and the buzz began in earnest. It’s clearly, ahem, “influenced” by the current Bentley Flying Spur (see  comparison photo) and Bentley has accused Lincoln of outright plagiarism.  Come to think of it, Continental is also a Bentley model so this may get interesting in terms of litigation not that anybody’s threatened that. Bentley’s chief designer, Luc Donckerwolke —  a fine English name if ever there was –threw down the gauntlet when he publicly mused, “Do they want us to send them the product tooling?”

Plain or peanut?

Plain or peanut?

All of which gives us an excuse to look at some older (Lincoln, not Bentley) Continentals caught in the wild and to rev up the old Victrola to hear Fred Astaire croon, “It’s quite the fashion, The Continental.

Do we have to spell it out for you?

Do we have to spell it out for you?

Over the years, starting in 1939 and continuing with some interruptions until 2002, the Continental nameplate has been affixed to both sedans and convertibles as well as two door coupés , the later usually sporting the “Mark” designation (as in Mark II, Mark III and so on).  The very last “Mark” was Mark VIII but, truth be told, Ford repeated Marks III, IV and V as part of a “do over” program that began with the introduction of the Mark III in 1968, as opposed to the 1958 Mark III.  We know what you’re thinking so go ahead and breathe a sigh of relief because there definitely won’t be a midterm.

Money pit for FoMoCo

Money pit for FoMoCo

Feral Cars Field Scout Matthew Reader found this ’57 Mark II posing glamorously the other day.  Despite the fact that when new it cost more than a Rolls, Ford lost money on every one sold.  The cost of prestige can be steep and unprofitable.  Still, we think it’s on of the most distinguished designs of the ’50s and flies in the face of be-finned, chrome dripping, excess that typified the era.

Land shark!

Land shark!

Did somebody just say “excess”?  Here you go: it’s a 1960 Mark V convertible loitering by the side of the road. This behemoth weighed almost 5200 lbs, measured 19 feet from step to stern and could be counted on to get a solid 8 – 10 miles per gallon.  We kinda love it.

White flight

White flight

Breezin'

Breezin’

We caught another Mark V, this one a four door hardtop, in motion.  Dig those “Dagmar” bumper bullets and the “breezway” rear window, a feature that sister brand Mercury featured over the years.  It’s a great way to let fumes into the car to lull the rear seat passengers to the land of nod.

Aircraft carrier wanna be

Nothing succeeds like excess

Speaking of huge, here’s a ’79 Continental Town Car that has its predecessor beat in the length department by another half foot.  Those oval portholes, the half padded roof treatment and the B-pillar opera lights  and fender skirts presaged the whole “Dynasty” look by a good two years. We don’t have much to say about the somewhat older one seen below except that it may very well have been hit by a meteorite and seem none the worse for wear. Certainly, nothing that a little duct tape couldn’t handle.

Needs some work

Needs some work

Suicide mission

Suicide mission

Say “Lincoln Continental” and chances are someone will respond with “suicide doors” or “JFK.”  Here’s a dusty ’63 convertible– yes, the same model year as the one that wasn’t able to get through Dealey Plaza unscathed.  Those rear-hinged doors in the back make ingress and egress a breeze and it’s kind of shame that Ford The Lincoln Motor Company didn’t see fit to equip the new Continental with this signature feature since that’s what, inevitably, springs to mind and Bentley doesn’t have them.

Formal looker

Formal looker

Tight!

If you were a Mafia don in ’62 this is what you’d drive — so much trunk room!

This ’62 Continental sedan says “New Frontier” in no uncertain terms and we applaud the fact that vinyl roofs hadn’t yet been foisted upon us. This is the car we wish the new Continental recalled but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards.  Pity.

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 11.51.36 PM

 

We think the Continental Mark III a/k/a “The French Connection Car” presents better in black but it’s unfortunate that this one seem to have its “eyes” stuck open.

Straight outta Marseilles

Straight outta Marseilles

We never "tire" of this classic look

We never “tire” of this classic look

The Mark V was produced from 1977 to the 1979 and was is the biggest of all “Marks” and  the best seller:  an average of 75,000 of these big boys were sold in each model year.  This example also sports that wide-eyed look.

Those fender gills help it breathe

Those fender gills help it breathe

By ’82 Continental was back as a sedan but significantly downsized from the aircraft carrier class of which it had been part.  The truth was that underneath that “eleganza” exterior with “bustle back” styling, was the platform upon which the lowly Ford Fairmont was built.  Talk about selling the sizzle sans steak!

The bustle makes a comeback!

The bustle makes a comeback!

Two tone baloney

Two tone baloney

The Mark VII, introduced in 1983, shared much with Ford’s Thunderbird and Mercury’s Cougar but held its own for nine model years.  This one is an LSC, the performance variant, and if you don’t look too closely it does sort of resemble BMW’s 635CSi except that BMW hasn’t, to date, ever built a car with a fake spare tire stamped into the trunk lid.  Their loss.

Mark-ing time

Mark-ing time

Bimmer wanna be

Bimmer wanna be

As noted, the last of the “Marks” was the Mark VIII.  We found a ’97 LSC that seems to have some issues with its clear coat, not to mention the rear-mounted cell phone antenna. Those “salad shooter” wheels are aftermarket so don’t blame The Lincoln Motor Company for this particular lapse of taste.

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 11.56.55 PM Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 11.55.51 PMIt’s a fact that your President Nixon gave Brezhnev a Continental when the latter visited the former at Camp David in 1972.  We just love this dramatization of that wild encounter.

We think this low mileage (66,800) ’69 Continental Mark III with brilliant read leather interior offered in nearby Beverly, MA for under $13,000 would make a great addition to your fleet.  We’re happy to help you make the “connection.”

 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.

BMW, PDA*

*Pre Douchebag Anschluss

Boxy lady!

Boxy lady! ’72 2002

It’s certainly not our place or intent to engage in wholesale character assassination and, we hasten to add, some of our best friends drive contemporary BMW automobiles. In fact, we like these cars; it’s some of their drivers with whom we have a beef.  We have no gripe with anyone’s choice of branded transport, Hummers excepted, but it’s a demonstrable fact that a significant percentage of BMW drivers tend to act in an anti-social manner.  To wit, we have a routine that takes us into a crosswalk everyday and invariably, BMW drivers speed up so as not to be inconvenienced by stopping to spare human life while drivers of other makes dutifully apply the brakes. We encountered such a person just the other day at a different intersection; he seemed lost in conversation on the phone which he held to his ear. (What? They don’t equip these things with a Bluetooth interface ?) He blithely barreled through the intersection, making a right turn on a red light, oblivious to the people attempting to cross the street.  When one of them had the temerity to bang a fist on his precious Bimmer’s hindquarters, its Bluetoothless pilot became infuriated, made an illegal u-turn and caught up with the outraged fist banger and verbally berated the, heretofore, imperiled pedestrian.  His actions and vituperous tone (“YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO BANG ON MY CAR!”) reflect a droit du seigneur attitude endemic to many BMW drivers. Those would be the ones who think that their “ultimate driving machine” exempts them from having to act in a quasi-civil manner.

Plain, not fancy

Plain, not fancy

Our crosswalk theory is borne out by actual scientific research which concludes that, yes, “BMW drivers were far less likely to stop for a pedestrian who had just entered a crosswalk” and another study which “found men between the ages of 35 and 50 driving blue BMWs were  most likely to be reported as having engaged in road-rage behaviors such as aggressive driving and swearing.”  The Urban Dictionary even has a definition of BMW Douche.   We’ll let you read that for yourself.

Upright citizen

Upright citizen

But we’re not here to beat up a sector of the driving public so reviled that their haters have a popular dedicated Facebook page. Our purpose is to celebrate BMWs which, in the past, were delightful, sporty, unpretentious, beautifully made cars, most notably the 2002 model, produced between 1968 and 1976.  The very basic “three box” styling was certainly unassuming  but its brilliant handling and feisty performance gave BMW a big boost with savvy consumers.  The idea was revolutionary and paved the way for the storied 3 series that built on the acceptance of the 2002. Revolutions often start with the best of intentions; the excesses that followed this one have put us in the bind in which we find ourselves today. We like cars, it’s the people who drive them with whom we have a problem.

Bangle buttless

Bangle buttless

It’s difficult to find unmolested BMW 2002s these day as they’ve typically been modified with flatulent aftermarket exhaust systems and fender flares to accommodate fat tires and trick wheels.  We, have, however encountered some original examples which we’re delighted to share as reminders of a time when BMWs — and their drivers — were celebrated rather than reviled.

Towards the end of their production 2002s were equipped with energy absorbing bumpers to comply with new new Federal safety standards; their inelegant placement tends to conjure up thoughts of Tonka Toys or a car made of Lego pieces.  The 3 series debuted in 1975 and, initially, carried on the same no-frills attitude of its predecessor. But as the years rolled by things evolved in terms of more convoluted styling, bigger motors, higher weight and they were crammed full of electronics. More importantly, they appealed to some drivers whose approach to civility could be characterized as ‘challenged.’  Pass the hair gel!

Bimmer's 'boingy' bumper

Bimmer’s ‘boingy’ bumper

To its credit, BMW did try to rekindle the spirit of the 2002 with the 318ti hatchback that was introduced in the ’90s.  It was shortened, decontented and equipped with a smaller 4 cylinder motor.  Unfortunately, it was a sales failure and discontinued, plausibly, because it had minimal douche appeal.

Just before the 'doucheluge'

318ti: They tried

We’re not trying to beat a dead horse and, certainly, the BMW ‘horse’ is alive and kicking with first six months sales in 2014 12% higher than last year’s. Arch rival Audi is not, however, above the fray.  Their current Nice Performance commercial speaks volumes without spelling things out too overtly.   BMW, for its part, cashes in on its storied 2002 heritage in this commercialto introduce the smaller 2 series.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that members of the Baader-Meinhoff Gang who terrorized West Germany in the ’70s favored BMW 2002s.   Paranoid Polizei of the time considered anyone who drove a 2002 to be suspicious and the  BMW acronyn was perverted to stand for “Baader-Meinhof Wagen.”  This video explains the phenomenon most wonderfully and, then, dig this still from the film Baader-Meinhof Komplex.

Das verecht Banhof-Meinhof Wagen!

Die authentische Banhof-Meinhof Wagen!

Full disclosure, we drove one from 1970 to 1992 and it’s sorely missed.  Prices for good surviving or restored examples have skyrocketed.  You can browse here but we’d be surprised if you really found a bargain but one never knows.

 If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com.  Include your name, location of the car and some thoughts about the vehicle and we’ll look into getting it posted

 

 

 

 

Audi, partner

Four wheels afield

Four wheels afield

We spotted a rare 1984 Audi Quattro on the sylvan streets of Burlington, VT the other day and had to think if we’d ever seen another one of these “in the wild” before.  Our research finds that a mere 664 of these purpose-built all wheel drive rally cars were imported to the US over the course of five model years and it’s a safe bet that crashes, rust (see our example’s hood) and mechanical issues have claimed the bulk of these over the past three decades.

Spoil sport

Spoil sport

Audi’s much vaunted “quattropermanent” four-wheel drive system, mated with a 2.1 liter five cylinder turbocharged motor made for all-weather not-so-cheap thrills thirty years ago.  These little stormers were priced at $35,000 when new which translates to something like $80,000 today.

Glassy font!

Glassy font!

Quattro was a specialty car that helped define Audi as a no-holds-barred race and rally presence. It was a halo car for the full Audi line that parent Volkswagen did its best to establish in the face of entrenched  in Deutschland hergestellt competitors Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

Unintended family portrait

Unintended family portrait

Audi’s four-door standard bearer in those days was the 5000 and here we see a nicely preserved ’86 5000S in front of a Victorian manse with a relatively recent Audi TT roadster, painted to match the house, in the driveway.  VW almost withdrew the brand from the US market after a 1986 CBS 60 Minutes piece delved into a series of mysterious wrecks caused by “unintended acceleration.”  Down went Audi sales and, at just about the same time, Toyota introduced its luxury Lexus brand to fill the gap, giving MBZ/BMW a run for the (big) money.  In recent years the “unintended acceleration” badge of shame has been hung on Lexus. How’s that for karmic justice?

Sweet anodyne

Sweet anodyne

Maybe you’ve wondered about the four interlocking rings that are Audi’s logo.  Contrary to popular belief, this is not an appropriation of the symbol of the Olympic Games but, rather, a representation of the four marques that came together to form Auto-Union in 1932, a big year in German history on many levels.  That aggregation of DKW, Horch, Audi and Wanderer continued — with a bit of an interruption in the early 1940’s — until Auto-Union was acquired by Daimler-Benz in 1958. Daimler dumped the operation on Volkswagen in 1964 with only the Audi brand surviving, at times just barely, to the present day. What a long, strange and, sometimes, unintended trip it’s been.

Just last year Audi posted a video of a current S3 in competition against an ’83 Quattro Sport.  Of course, the modern car vanquished the older one.. but only by 12 seconds.  It’s a foregone conclusion that Audi will continue to conjure up the old Quattro to underscore its present day badass bonafides even if the originals are few and far between.  It’s still a “halo” car after all these years.

If you’re interested in a UR-Quattro (UR = German prefix meaning “primitive/original”) ) we suggest you browse on over to Ebay Motors where an ’83 “barn find” with under 50,000 miles awaits your bid.

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.

 

 

 

Datsun enough for now?

The fairest of them all?

The fairest of them all?

Somehow, we missed out on the 80th anniversary of the founding of  Jidosha-Seizo Co., Ltd., on the day after Christmas in 1933.  The company, later known as Nissan, commenced to build Datsun cars and trucks, shortly thereafter, including this stellar 1969 2000 Roadster which did everything that an MG-B of the time did except break down regularly. These Datsun roadsters, which bore the Fairlady name in the home market, deemed not macho enough for American sports car enthusiasts , helped add glow to the brand whose bread and butter vehicles were less glamorous small cars and compact trucks.

From the land of the rising (Dat) sun

From the land of the rising (Dat)sun

Datsun pickups, such as this one that has been decorated with a symbol that might be associated with imperialist interventionism, were the leading edge in the small truck revolution that began in the 60s.  We doubt that the legions of pool men, pizza delivery guys and gardeners who flocked to Datsun’s rugged and appropriately-sized offerings, had any designs on Manchuria or The Philippines.

Cute widdle white wagon

Cute widdle white wagon

Datsun’s 510 line — badged Bluebird in Japan — built the brand’s reputation for quality and value.  We found a splendid 1970 white wagon that illustrates the classic appeal of the car’s tasteful design.  These were terrific rally cars and known as “the poor man’s BMW,” a reference to some engineering similarities with BMW’s 1600/2002.  The 510 was Datsun’s “big” car, the smaller offering being the 210 and 1200, known as the Sunny outside North America. We like this 1971 1200 Coupe, riding on some gnarly aftermarket wheels and tires, finished in sunburned orange with vanilla highlights like a Creamsicle® ice cream pop, a.k.a. “50/50 bar.”  The “Datsun” script on the rear fender is “classique” to our eyes.

Too much sun for Sunny?

Too much sun for Sunny?

The Datsun name was abandoned and all products from the mid-1980s onward were sold as Nissans.  Now in its 80th year, Nissan has seen fit to relaunch the Datsun brand with a focus on basic products marketed in developing countries.  Do we qualify?

The corporate image folks at Nissan offer this 3 minute  video history of what’s happened since December 26, 1933. Domo arigato!

Here’s a much better than fair Fairlady that you can make your own for the right price.

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.

 

 

El Camino: Real after 55 years

Seems as though there’s an automotive anniversary noted daily.  We told you about the 50th anniversary of the closing of Studebaker’s South Bend plant a few days ago and just  got word that 2014 is the centennial of Maserati’s founding. Today’s news is that Chevy’s El Camino was introduced 55 years ago.

Chevy's caruck

Chevy’s ‘caruck’

Chevrolet was caught blindsided when Ford launched its Ranchero in 1957.  It was a truck, carved out of a Ford station wagon, offering the utility of a pick up and the comfort and style of a car.  Chevrolet responded with the ’59 El Camino, an adaptation of the truly bizarre Chevy of that year, complete with bat wing rear fenders.  After the 1960 model year, Chevy abandoned the market but came roaring back with a Chevelle-based incarnation of the El Camino in 1964 and stayed with it for the next 23 years.

Glamor hauler

Glamor hauler

Feral Cars scout Lynda Keeler found this very glossy tourquoise ’67 with jaunty load bed tonneau cover and très cherchez California “black plates.” Sweet!

Nice and rough!

Ruff! Ruff!

Because they’re actually trucks, El Caminos aren’t necessarily babied as with this beastly SS396 from 1969.  Prepare to roll up your t-shirt sleeve and insert a pack of Luckies.

Pebble finish, not Pebble Beach

Pebble finish, not Pebble Beach

An alternative to both high gloss and beat down looks is this pebble finish treatment that is, with apologies to Ike and Tina Turner,  both nice and rough.

End of the line Elco: when it works, it works hard.

End of the line Elco: when it works, it works hard.

El Camino production ended in 1987 as standard pick up trucks, like Chevy’s own C/K, offered more amenities with interiors as plush as many upmarket passenger cars.  Production of the last generation El Caminos shifted south in 1985, as evidenced by this “Hecho En Mexico” window sticker.

Screen Shot 2013-12-12 at 10.41.24 PM

Despite the fact that El Caminos are no longer built, one can certainly find many, many used examples, in varying states of repair from which to choose such as this “pre-owned” cream puff.

"Runs Great" says it all!

“Runs Great” says it all!

OR you can build your own out of a cast off passenger car.  We especially like this nifty little green “Beameramino,” cobbled together from an early 70s BMW 2002.

Munich mover

Munich mover

Every now and then there’s a rumor that GM will start building the El Camino again and that’s because so many have fond memories of these trucklettes.  No less a light than the 42nd President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton, admitted to owning an El Camino.  In a 1994 speech before an audience of GM plant workers in Shreveport, LA he famously noted,  “I owned, when I was a younger man and had a life.. an El Camino pickup in the seventies. It was a real sort of southern deal. I had Astroturf in the back. You don’t want to know why, but I did.”  Astroturf?  That must have been so he could practice his putts, right?

More recently, groovy rockers The Black Keys released an album entitled “El Camino” but, inexplicably, it featured a mid-1980s Plymouth Voyager minivan on the cover.  Yes, those nutty hipsters sure know how to blow your mind!

Country music great Tom T. Hall was El Camino’s spokesperson when the truck was downsized in the 1978 model year.  In this commercial he makes smaller seem better.  He’s the composer of many celebrated songs including  “Harper Valley P.T.A.” and “I Love,” the latter of which includes the verse “I love I little baby ducks, old pick-up trucks / Slow movin’ trains and rain.”  Our version would be “I love Babe, the Bambino and El Caminos/crazy old cars and bars.” Yes, the never-to-be-forgotten Chevy El Camino was poetry in motion.

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. Include your name, location of the car and some thoughts about the vehicle and we’ll look into getting it the attention it deserves.