Monthly Archives: May 2014

Scout it out loud

Scoutman

Scout’s owner: this man is actually smiling.

We found a first generation International Harvester Scout and its happy owner on Sunset Boulevard in the swanky/funky Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles that lies east of Hollywood.  He was disappointed that his ’62 Scout had chosen this location to dislodge the linkage that connects the accelerator to the throttle and, for the first time in memory, we had no bailing wire to offer to remedy the situation.  Nonetheless, this Scout’s owner was confident he’d get it going in short order as a wire coat hanger from a nearby dry cleaner was sourced.

Wow! You coulda had a half a V8!

Wow! You coulda had a half a V8!

Truck maker International introduced this rival to Jeep’s eternal CJ  in 1961, the very embodiment of simplicity in terms of “styling” and technology  The motor was a 304 cubic inch International V8 that had been, essentially, sawed in half.  The resulting 4 cylinder motor was slanted (half a “V”) and displaced 152 cubic inches (152+152 = 304).   All Scouts were built in Fort Wayne, Indiana just in case you wondered.

Far from shiftless

Pro-choice

The interior is as spartan as possible but the real attraction of these, as opposed to today’s opulent SUVs, is actual utility.  See those four shift levers sprouting from the floor?  That gives you some indication of what International had in mind: the one with the wooden knob offers 1st, 2nd, 3rd and reverse, another is overdrive and the other two sticks control front axle engagement and hi/lo range.  It’s no wonder that very few of these survive — they were used for rock climbing and tend to shake themselves apart from that kind of mountain goat-style treatment.

A near perfect topless example, built some years later, should convince you that these have the potential to be stunning vehicles, albeit a bit angular in affect.

Spiffy Sout

Spiffy Scout

Here’s a second generation Scout out on the town.  We like its straightforward elegance and command of the night.

Honorable Scout

Honorable Scout

International Harvester built its last Scout in 1980 but we’ve found more than a few haunting the streets and roads of urban and rural America.  And here’s  one getting a ride with some contemporary vehicles we probably won’t be discussing 52 years from now.

Top shelf Scout

Top shelf Scout

There are still some of these to be had though the price is entirely dependent on condition.  Here’s one on Ebay you may wish to consider if you have some cash to spare.

Urging you to click on this commercial for a ’68 Scout if you like Beagle puppies. You do like Beagle puppies, don’t you?

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cadillac keepers: superannuated standard bearers

The jewel within still shines

The jewel within still shines

We just encountered  a very “original” (meaning unrestored, unfettered and unmonkeyed with) ’69 Cadillac Hardtop Sedan de Ville that we find to be a fitting Memorial Day cover car.  It couldn’t be more American and more worth fighting for. The Vietnam War was raging and Dick Nixon’s mailing address was about to change from Palookaville to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue when this big, bad Cad was introduced.  There are 472 cubic inches of good old pushrod V8 under that front hood-cum aircraft carrier deck with 375 horses of ‘go power’ providing convincing locomotive force for all 4660 pounds of cushioned luxury. All told, this is almost 19 linear feet of muffled rolling thunder that floats — on land.

Queen of patina

Queen of patina

We really have a soft spot for veteran Cads still in service, their faded elegance is, perhaps, a reflection of our appreciation for Gloria Swanson’s performance in Sunset Boulevard. Here’s an “as is” ’63 Sedan de Ville sweating it out on a Noe Valley street in San Francisco.  Sorry about the parking ticket — no respect for the elders!

Caddy condensation

Caddy condensation

This ’64 Coupe de Ville is noteworthy for the fact that it doesn’t have a vinyl-clad top.  That rear deck lid looks like it could accommodate a small helicopter, doesn’t it? This was the last model year that Cadillac fins were distinct from the rear fenders, the end of an era that had begun in 1948 and reached its apogee in 1959.

Collolasal Coupe de Ville

Colossal Coupe de Ville

And weren’t we lucky to get a view of this ’64 Sedan de Ville as it shot past on the freeway?  The red wheels add some nice counterpoint to the Bahamaha Sand body color and we’re digging the intact rear fender skirts.

No tuboat required

Under its own steam, no tugboat required

Here are the hind quarters of an ’82 Fleetwood Brougham, a latter day behemoth in the same larger-than-life Caddy tradition. This full size Cad had it all, including the much cherchezed optional “d’Elegance” package that included button-tufted seating and rear-seat reading lamps. Missing in action are the plastic inserts between the end of the rear fenders and start of the rear bumper which, typically, age at a more accelerated rate than the metal parts to which they were formerly juxtaposed.

Très, très elegant!

Très, très elegant!

Yes, they had to spell it out for us

Yes, they had to spell it out for us

Tush plush d'Elegance

Tush, plush and tufted

We admit a fascination with rolling ruins and offer these images of Cadillac badging, distressed yet enduring.

Faded but not forgotten

Faded but not forgotten

 

Formerly much for Bia-ritz

Echoes of a Bia-rritzy past

We’re over the moon about this ’63 Cadillac TV spot. The announcer proclaims, in tones most stentorian,  “These are extraordinary Cadillacs, Cadillacs that can do things that no other motor car ever did.”  Not sure what that those things are but we’re pretty thrilled that they’ve been doing them for more than 50 years.. and counting.

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

British idles

Humans are actual size

Humans are actual size

We offer an original Mini Cooper here, bookended by Amy and Scott who, we freely admit, are tall individuals but do provide some human scale as testimony as to just how tiny these are.  They were built in mass numbers from 1959 until 2001 by British Motor Corporation, formed by a merger between Austin and Morris.  The original Mini was just voted Britain’s Best Car of All Time by the readers of Autocar. So take that, Aston-Martin, Armstrong-Siddeley and other hyphenates (Rolls-Royce?) too numerous to mention! Today’s version is built by BMW, which insists that the brand be formatted as MINI.  Isn’t the use of all upper case letters tantamount to shouting? Pipe down!  It’s huge by comparison.  The original weighs in at something like 1400 pounds and the new, ALL CAPS, edition weighs more than twice that amount.

All ears

All ears

FeralCars Field Scout Heather Crist captured this Mini variant, a 1969 Riley Elf, just the other day.  It’s a more deluxe version with an extended trunk and luxury interior and never, officially, imported (note: steering wheel on the “wrong” side).  We don’t think the Union Jack painted on the roof came standard but, hey, who are we to suggest not letting one’s freak flag fly?

We encountered a stunning ’65 3.8 litre Jaguar Mk 2, the other day and were, frankly, enthralled.  The interior replicates the leather and wood look of a mens club and the curvy body lives up to its feline moniker.

Jagadelic

Jagadelic

Mark of the beast/Nice kitty!

Nice kitty but we’ll NEVER pronounce it “Jag-You-Wahr”

Today the British motor industry is essentially, foreign owned.  Of course there’s Ford and GM’s Vauxhall, which are American controlled and Jaguar and Land Rover which are, most improbably, part of Tata of India. Stifle those titters, will you please?  MINI is under BMW control; Rolls Royce, too,  is a vassal of BMW while Bentley is Volkswagen’s English trophy marque.  Lotus is owned by a Malaysian conglomerate and Aston Martin is funded by a consortium of Italian, American and Kuwaiti investors and headed by Stuttgart-educated CEO Ulrich Bez who just made a deal with Mercedes’ AMG division to provide engines for these “British” supercars.  It’s kind of sad that the only British-owned car makers today are niche players Bristol, Morgan, Caterham and McLaren.

 

B all you can be

B all you can be

MG was once had significant presence in the US market and is now, for better or worse,  a Chinese brand. There are still lots of MG B roadsters in various states of repair to be found as these recent shots attest.

Sometimes it B like that

Sometimes it B like that

Triumph was MG’s big competitor in the US sports car market.  Not sure if they actually offered them in fuchsia as seen on this “tasteful” TR-6

Union jack on

Union jack: on

In the 1950s and ’60s, and into the ’70s British cars were a real presence in the American market but faded out, almost completely when such brands such as Hillman (that’s one below) Humber, Austin, Morris, MG, bit the dust. To be sure, there’s a resurgence going on with current sales successes enjoyed by MINI, Rolls, Bentley, Land Rover, Jaguar but, again, all of those brands are foreign owned.  Dare we say it? The sun may very well have set on the British automotive empire.

Over the hill, man

Over the hill, man

We found a film clip shot at the 1961 Earls Court car, ahem, motor show and there’s actually a Riley Elf featured!  You simply must check it out!

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stars, Strikes and the Grandest of Prix

As we noted earlier, when reporting on a cream puffy ’76 Ford Elite, we’re big fans of Dan Epstein’s baseball cum-cultural cypher Stars and Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of ’76.

Bicentennial Pon-ton

Bicentennial Pon-ton

Yes, 38 years after Sparky Anderson’s Cincinnati Reds swept the World Series in four straight games, demolishing the Yankees, in the third year of the reign of Steinbrenner with Billy Martin at the helm, there’s a book that puts it all into funky perspective.  So does this stellar, “as is” 1976 Pontiac Grand Prix.  It’s one of the era’s “personal luxury coupes,” on par with Chrysler’s Cordoba, that Ford Elite and Chevy’s Monte Carlo. They all had long hoods, short rear decks for that bicentennial “eleganza” air.  Grand Prix shared its GM A body architecture with Monte Carlo and, in fact,  it was the same platform used to underpin Buick’s Century and Olds Cutlass Supreme.

What a difference a dozen years makes

What a difference a dozen years make

The pillar free hardtop, the most sought-after body style of the ’50’s and ’60’s, as seen in this breathtaking ’64 Grand Prix, was swept into the dustbin of automotive design history. That breezy look was replaced by cars with a fortress-like aspect; the rear windows, etched with decorative scroll work, were fixed in place. GM described the look, set off by frameless side windows and a thick pillar aft the front doors, as  “Colonnade” styling. It’s as much of the (Gerald) Ford era as was Oscar Gamble’s outtasite ‘fro.

“They Don’t Think It Be Like It Is, But It Do”  - Oscar Gamble

“They don’t think It be like it is, but It do” – Oscar Gamble

Feds to lead: get out!

Feds to lead: get out!

This Grand Prix carries a reminder that lead was on the way out of gasoline at that time.  New cars, from ’75 forward, were equipped with catalytic converters, incompatible with that toxic additive that had been poisoining us for decades. ’76: the year we began to breathe easier.

Collonade coupe

Colonnade coupe

Speaking of no-lead, this ’62 Pontiac, badged “Grand Prix,” was caught tanking up the other day but it’s not what it appears to be. Note that Pontiac didn’t offer a Grand Prix convertible in ’62, the first model year for the most sporting full-size Pontiac.  Huh?

Faux Prix

Faux Prix

It’s really a Catalina convertible to which every possible Grand Prix-specific piece of trim, inside and out, has been appended.  It’s a masterful creation, filling a perceived gap in Pontiac’s model line more than a half century after the fact.

We found a ’76 Grand Prix in very impressive condition here for under $10K.  You can’t go wrong with this kind of true personal luxury at a low price like this. I’s the biggest bargain we’ve seen since the Kansas City Royals shelled out a measly $126,000 to pay George Brett’s salary in 1976.  His batting average was .333 the year American celebrated its second century.

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.