Monthly Archives: January 2014

MK IX mk’d down

This little beauty has got to go!

This little beauty has got to go!

Not too long ago we discovered a rare and stately 1959 Jaguar MK IX (“mark nine” to us commoners) and posted some photos and a commentary about it which you can read here.

With the bearing of a Rolls and the sporting affect of the Jag that it is, it made a big impression on us but we’re not alone.  Our friends at Bring A Trailer spotted this very car for sale on Craigslist for $11,000.

Seems like a bargain insofar you get so much for comparatively little but the truth is this kitty could use some work to bring it up to snuff.  Still, we like to think that even as a quasi-static piece of sculpture, it has real charm.  If you threw another $20K into it you might be able to drive it around and impress the punters.

One more, we present its sumptuous rear seating/dining area for your perusal.

Tray tables set in the downright position

Tray tables set in the downright position

We mentioned that Kim Novak drove one in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo and found a still from the film to share. Our assumption is that Kim’s Madeleine character threw herself into the chilly waters beneath the Golden Gate Bridge because she just couldn’t deal with her Jag’s dodgy electrical system.  Jimmy Stewart, who drove a ’56 DeSoto (see below) in the film, fished her out most gallantly.

Kimmy and Jimmy

Jimmy saves Kimmy

 

Groucho sent him

Groucho sent him

 

Big family fun on the run easy as G-M-C

The General goes camping

The General goes camping on six wheels

Back in the early 70s, when gas cost less than 40 cents per gallon, it seemed like a great idea for General Motors to enter the RV field with its own motor home. The burgeoning market for RVs, led by Winnebago, Travco, Clark, FMC, Glastron, etc., convinced GM to jump into the business, whole hog, rather than just providing chassis and drive train components to third parties.  The result was the stunning GMC Motorhome, a self-contained vehicle that was groundbreaking in terms of design, engineering and packaging.  Taking advantage of the Oldsmobile Toronado-derived motor (a 7.5 liter beast) and front wheel drive set-up, GM engineers came up with a vehicle, produced from 1973 – 1978,  that continues to be a cult favorite.  Of the almost 13,000 built over the course of that time, it is estimated that 9,000 have survived and thrive today.

Feral Cars fan Andrew Keeler captured this one in rural Anderson Springs, California just the other day and it looks factory fresh.  Note the Freeman Family’s coat of arms that adorns the six- wheeler’s flanks.  If driving a 12,500 pound vehicle that gets somewhere between 9 to 11 miles per gallon wherever you damn well please doesn’t make you free you don’t know the meaning of the word.

Ye olde arrvee

Motorhomies

The camper van trend began, of course, much earlier with conversions that changed delivery trucks into mobile abodes such as this ’69 Dodge Tradesman-based Travco Family Wagon with optional wooden front bumper.  Looks like claustrophobic fun, no?

High camp from the Dodge Boys

High camp from the Dodge Boys

The wackadoodle font tells you this is a fun ride!

The wackadoodle font tells you this is a fun ride!

Of course, ground zero for all of this in-vehicle camping is the good ol’ Volkswagen Microbus.  Here’s a late 80’s Vanagon with a pop-top roof for enhanced headroom.  It looks like it could use a good going over with a damp mop before hitting the open road.  By the way this third generation VW Transporter is the last rear-engined vehicle VW ever introduced.

Pop top Veedub needs scrub

Pop top Veedub needs scrub

Check out this GMC Motorhome demo video hosted by an RV salesman whose comment about the vehicle’s size, “Twenty-six foot, you can park it just about anywhere anywhere,” bears repeating.  Got the GMC Motorhome fever?  Click here to shop and become an honorary member of the Freeman Family.

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.

 

 

 

Chevy rolled the dice: Monte Carlo

Chevy's broad strokes take on personal luxury

Chevy’s broad strokes take on personal luxury

When Ford’s Thunderbird grew from two-seat roadster to four-place grand tourer in 1958 the car business took note of the market for “the personal luxury coupe.”  Other makes soon fielded entrants into the new sector, some with great aplomb.  Think: 1963-’65  Buick Riviera, ’62-’64 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk, ’63-’64 Pontiac Grand Prix, ’66-’70 Olds Toronado, ’75 – ’79 Chrysler Cordoba. As Jimmy Durante might have suggested, everybody wanted to get into the act.

A Malibu lurks within

A Malibu lurks within

For the 1970 model year, Chevy adapted its mid-size Chevelle platform to do duty as a snooty upscale personal luxury coupe dubbed Monte Carlo, not to be confused with Dodge’s Monaco the nameplate of which dates back to 1965 — so there!   Monte Carlo followed the personal luxury coupe styling convention of long hood, short rear deck, thick C-pillar and vinyl roof, denoting formal, yet sporting, elegance rather than straight-up muscle car macho.

Monte Carlo was a runaway success with sales of over 130,000 the first year, generating significant profits for the company insofar as development costs were minimal thanks to shared architecture with the lesser Chevelle.  The model’s slogan was “At $3123, a lot more car than it has to be.”  The subtext seems to be that Chevy is doing you a favor selling you such a nice Malibu for comparatively little money.

Did Prince Rainier get to skim any of the profits or did he put the touch on Dodge five years earlier?

Did Prince Rainier get to skim any of the profits or did he put the touch on Dodge five years earlier?

Many surviving first generation Monte Carlos have been customized and/or turned into street hopping lowrider cars as in this video.  In light of that reality, we like this minimally messed-with example, finished in Laguna Gray, that we found sans wheel covers.  Not sure about the red outline around the grill that matches the left rear wheel’s sidewall; they didn’t come from the factory this way.

Here’s a must-see commercial from the car’s introduction, wherein government agents harass a hard working paisan because they confuse his new Chevy Monte Carlo with an expensive imported exotic.   It’s a great example of Nixon era paranoia.  Did someone just say “I am not a Malibu”?

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.

 

On a Jag jag

English muffin, toasted

English muffin, toasted

Hard to believe that we bumped into an unrestored 1959 Jaguar MK IX being used for — hold breath — transportation!   We met the owner coming out of a drug store and he told us that he’s owned it for the past 30 years, that the car has 70,000 original miles and that its combination of Lucas electrical components and Smiths instruments does pose certain, ahem, challenges from time to time.

Maple drive

Maple, drive

While keeping it going may be problematic after dark, it does seem a nice place to spend time thanks to the sumptuous pleated seats, finished in red Connolly leather, the bird’s eye maple wood dash, interior trim and, of course those rear passenger picnic tables. In short, a comfy spot in which to pass the time while waiting for the Auto Club.

Set 'em up, Jeeves

Set ’em up, Jeeves

Seriously, this is a grand automobile motorcar that has tremendous presence.  The motor is the same twin overhead cam 3.8 liter inline six that powered the XK150 sports car of this era but, of course, was called upon to propel a much weightier car.  Still, even with two tons of stately British steel, glass, leather, wood and rubber, to move around, the MK IX could achieve 115 mph and arrive at 60 mph in a matter of mere seconds, specifically 11,  according to contemporary road tests.

 

It's pronounced "Mark Nine"

Pronounced “Jag-you-are Mark Nine”

Alfred Hitchcock, being of British birth, cast a Jaguar like this, an earlier MK VIII, as Kim Novak’s ride in Vertigo.  Here’s a clip where she lets co-star Jimmy Stewart do the driving.

Speaking of showbiz, we have it on very good authority that Mel Brooks, whose film High Anxiety was a Hitchcock parody, owned a MK IX in the 1960s and he seems to have been quite savvy about British cars, in general.  In Get Smart, the TV series he created, Don Adam’s character, Maxwell Smart/Agent 86, drove a Sunbeam Tiger and in Silent Movie, Dom DeLuise, Marty Feldman and Brooks all stuffed themselves into a Morgan roadster.

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.

 

DRIVEN: hosted by Billy F Gibbons + feralcars.com, 2/19 in Palm Springs

Art + Cars = feral fun!

Art + Cars = feral fun!

We’re excited to be involved with DRIVEN, an event that features the drawings of Eric Nash and some of his automotive subject matter in the flesh.  If you find yourself anywhere near Palm Springs on February 19th please come on by.  Eric’s art is nothing short of brilliant and we intend to populate the curb with some freaky feral finds.

Host for the event is ZZ Top’s Billy F Gibbons who knows a thing or two about cool cars.   Here he is with a fine ’66 Mercury.

Clearly, Billy is crazy 'bout a Mercury

Clearly, Billy is crazy ’bout a Mercury

Click here for an interview with Eric Nash by Angela Romeo.  The guy is a talent!

Billy Gibbons spoke to Autoline about some the cars in his collection.  Good stuff.

And here’s “that Gibbons boy” enlisting the help of Manny, Moe & Jack to help with an “out of round” tire.

Jeepers! ZZ Topper seems to have a case of the Willys

Jeepers! ZZ Topper seems to have a case of the Willys

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.