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.

Automotive Eurotrash adds feral dash to the City of Light

We’re just back from a sojourn to Paris where Feral Cars participated in the 40th annual Rétromobile conclave.  Rétromobile is the vintage car event in Europe, if not the world, a  combination  trade show, exotic used car lot, movable museum, high stakes auction and grand bazaar of all manner of automobilia, auto-related emphemera but, mainly, cars.  Lots of car — over 500, mostly high end European makes spread out over two floors of exhibits.   It was, in a word, stupendous, thanks to cadres of professional installers, scenic designers and lighting experts doing their thing.  The result is that even the most pedestrian car takes on added aura with glamorous Rétromobile production values imparting that much more “car cred” to just about everything in the show.

La vie en noir

La vie en noir

While Rétromobile was stellar, our forays into the greater Paris metroplex juxtaposed us with quite a number of continental cruisers of a certain age.  Rétromobile may have brought some of these out of storage but it seemed that some were just les objets trouvés on a certain level.

The future departs

The future departs

We found a number of noteworthy German, Italian and French veterans that appeared to be in regular service and did our best to capture them for you. This being Paris, let’s start with two Citroëns that had us enthralled. That black sedan is a DS of later vintage (note the faired in headlight configuration).  Introduced in 1955, the DS with its air-oil suspension, revolutionary construction and aerodynamic design was truly the car of the future.  When it finally went out of production, nearly 20 years and 1.4 million examples later, the DS was still ahead of its time.

Promotion in motion

Promotion in motion

We’re glad to have seen some rolling examples, at least 40 years old, on the streets of Paris including a station wagon that was used to highlight events sponsored by Citroën Heritage, the forward looking brand’s backward looking promotion department.  We’ll forgive the fact that its rear bumper (le bouclier) was un peu cassee.

Le Truckster de la famille

Le Truckster de la famille

While adhering to a more traditional three box design than Citroën’s aerodynamically advanced line topper, BMW’s 5 series is the embodiment of German sports luxury.  This snow white example which we estimate to be an ’86 or ’87 is impressively pristine.

Beamer en blanc

Beamer en blanc

That sunshade in the back is a nice touch, n’est-ce pas?

White privilege

White privilege

Unlike the many of the Maseratis, Ferraris and Lamborghinis seen at Rétromobile, Italian cars parked on the nicely swept streets of Paris were of the decidedly non-exotic variety but still quite interesting. 

Micro muscle car

Micro muscle car

When was the last time you saw an Autobianchi parked at a curb?  The answer is “never,” of course, since this Fiat-derived compact never made it over here. We found two on the same street and both had parking tickets under the wipers so our assumption is they’re owned by the same obsessive person.   They’reAutobianchi 112s but the gray one is technically a Lancia A112 as Fiat slapped that badge on the car for sale outside of Italy.  We like the “70 HP” notice on the front hood as this is the hot Abarth factory tuner model.  We’re pegging this one and the less swanky (only 42 hp) white car to be from the early ’80s.

Abarth = performance

Abarth = performance

That'll rub right out

Think that’ll rub right out?

We noted a super clean dark green VW Golf Cabriolet, the choice of high school girls during the ’80s and ’90s, not far from those Italian anomalies. We’re guessing this is a ’90 or ’91 but it’s unimaginable that it’s parked outside on a regular basis.  This is one clean machine.

Cabrio for thee-o

Cabrio for thee-o

On the other end of the tidiness spectrum is this funky Renault Twingo, a car that could very well have been named after a candy bar.  The expressive headlights that are flat on the bottom make it seem like you’d be more prone to adopt than own it.  The design by Jean-Pierre Ploué debuted in 1993 and the intention was for the front end to resemble a smile. Seems like a tight-lipped one to us but we kind of get it.  We’re not sure what those three asymmetrically placed air intakes are supposed to conjure up. Maybe a set of face tattoos like gang members give themselves in prison?  Probably not.

Smile, darn you, smile!

Smile, darn you, smile!

This smiling, possibly smirking, Twingo seems to have suffered some abuse as indicated by:

  • A huge dent on the rear passenger side
  • The “Party Girl” sticker on the hatch
Party out of bounds

Party out of bounds?

We’ve got a bigger Renault to share but this one is most decidedly not cute.  It’s an early ’80s Renault 18i wagon that also wears a parking ticket under its wiper and, more importantly, more than a modicum of rust, especially under the lift gate.

Rusty wagon

Rusty wagon

These were actually sold in the US back when Renault controlled American Motors before selling it off to Chrysler. They could have called it Franco American Motors and offered promotional cans of spaghetti with the purchase of every car.  No, huh?

How do you say 'bondo' in French?

How do you say ‘bondo’ in French?

Lastly, we encountered a big Alfa Romeo sedan on that same street in the 15th arrondissement. Its official model designation is Alfa Romeo Alfa 6.  Seems as though the Department of Redundancy Department named the car which was Alfa’s top of the line sedan from 1979 – 1983.  Yes,  it’s a six cylinder car — and had a carburetor for each one of them — and was considered to be in the “executive class” just like that BMW 5 series up top.  Coming as it did when the price of gasoline was spiking, this Alfa found few buyers and was never officially imported into the US.

Big brown Alfa

Importata dall’Italia alla Francia

Booty

Smart/Smarter

Rétromobile attracts old car nuts from all over but locally based ones use the expo as an excuse to participate in ad hoc street rallies.  We had to rub our eyes to make sure we weren’t hallucinating when we shot this video of a mass of Fiat Cinquecentos, led by a an ultra-rare Ferves Ranger, one of only six hundred Cinquento-based mini SUVs like this ever made.  Only fifty survive and here’s one in spirited action.  No less an authority than Jalopnik named it “The Mostest Cutest Off-Roader Ever.”

And speaking of cute, you must click to see the introductory commercial back when Twingo was launched in 1993.

We found a breathtaking ’72 Citroën DS wagon for sale in nearby San Francisco, CA.  for a paltry $40,000 which is only around 35,000 so, dépêchez-vous and buy it maintainant!

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.