Archive for February, 2010

White Lines (Don’t Do It!) – 1985 Chevrolet Corvette

February 26, 2010

So I was trying to think of how to intro this epitome of a 1980s car without a cliched reference to Prince (or any number of other musical references I could probably come up with if I tried), when I thought of what a bad idea buying a cheap, high-powered sports car really is. And that’s when I thought of White Lines… anyway, in trying to branch out a bit I’m going to have something of a series of Bad Ideas, inspired by some of the challenges on Top Gear. To intro the series, I thought I’d start with the C4 Corvette. Before you Corvette nerds start spluttering on your NCRS handbooks, I’m not saying the Corvette is a bad car by any means… but there is a point beyond which buying one is liable to get you or your bank account seriously injured or killed. These cars have always held a spot in my mind – for some reason, even though I’m not a huge Corvette fanatic, I can clearly remember the first time I saw one of these back in 1984. It was summer vacation, and my family and I had driven up to Konocti Harbor on Clear Lake in the less-than-trusty Saab 99 LE Wagonback… I can still picture the silver-gray car sitting there in the lot.

Anyway, enough nostalgia. Twenty-six years on, with new Corvettes far outshining them, the early C4s have been subject to some serious depreciation. Some, like the car we’re about to see, have probably been subject to some serious abuse. However, it’s allegedly running and driving, and while there were nicer automatic cars, this manual popped out at me since I prefer to row my own. At $3000, this red 1985 example in Lake Elsinore seems like just the ticket for some 80s-style fun.

1985 Chevrolet Corvette left


Still Alive? Fiat 128 sedan double happiness

February 25, 2010

So I was trying to name this in honor of Lunar New Year…. hmm, maybe I should write about a Sunbeam Tiger. If only they were still $3K…. so instead I’ll write about a Fiat 128. Hey, 8 is a lucky number, right?

I’m still fascinated by these cars, although experience is starting to tell me I should keep my fascination to rear-wheel drive cars. Access in the engine compartment is easier, thanks to nobody trying to squeeze in a transmission and drive shafts where engine stuff should be. That said, it’s pretty rare to find one of these, let alone in Kentucky, and apparently rust-free. So that brings us to our first car, whose seller has the same sense of irony (or resignation) in light of the Fiat takeover of Chrysler as the seller of last month’s 124 spider. Find our first example, a 1978 128 sedan, at Mann Chrysler Dodge Jeep in Richmond, KY for $1980.

1978 Fiat 128 left


The Heartbeat of…. England? 1975 Austin Marina Coupe

February 19, 2010

Well, here’s something you don’t see every day – an Austin Marina. I’ve been to a fair amount of oddball car shows, plus I live in California, and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen one of these, on the road or off. To many people in England, this would be a good indicator that I’m lucky enough to go out and buy a lottery ticket, but having never been exposed to one, I’d like to find out why. Check out this ad from Unique Cars and Parts, which is apparently convincing the 1975 version of me to consider something other than the Hillman-based Plymouth Cricket at the dealer lot across the street.

Here’s the text (technical #$@%$ is keeping me from pasting the video into this post):

Life, performance – they depend on your heart – same goes for a car! It’s power, it’s efficiency depend on its heart.

That’s why we’ve taken the heart of the MGB sports car and put it into the Austin Marina, where it yields economy at a beat of over 20 miles per gallon, based on government tests.

The Marina, the family car, with the heart of the MGB sports car.

Wow, over 20mpg!! During a fuel crisis. In a 4-cylinder compact sedan. I think I know what part of the problem is!

1975 Austin Marina front