Last week I explored the two-pedal options for the 2020 SCM 1000. I was looking at cars from 1974 and earlier — and under $50,000.

Among the many thoughtful responses I got were those encouraging me not to overlook the compact American cars of that era. Suggested were Ford Falcons, Chevrolet Novas and Corvairs.

You can find decent driver examples of all of these for under $25,000. They are easy to make reliable, and once they are set right they tend to say right. Troublesome maintenance issues are few.

Even better, handling packages consisting of sway bars, springs and shocks are affordable and easily sourced.

While no one will ever confuse a Falcon Futura for a Jaguar E-type, they can be made to work well enough so that driving one offers some pleasure, rather than being an exercise in drudgery.

But the question I ask myself — and by extension you — does driving that kind of domestic car degrade the quality of an event like the SCM 1000?

By their nature, these American cars were intended to be inexpensive transportation, not sporting cars.  If one of the goals of the SCM 1000 is to bring the pages of SCM to life, are we accomplishing this by having American economy cars involved, (even if vintage)?

I know I’d much rather be part of a string of 1960s sports cars including MGs, TVRs, Jaguars and Healeys than Chevy IIs.

What’s your opinion? Should I add vintage American econoboxes to my list of choices? Or stick with the sports cars that SCM is known for?


  1. OF COURSE you should consider American.

    While I’ve always preferred European, Alfas specifically, we must acknowledge the spirts-car capabilities of such wonders as the AMC Javelin and AMX, some of the Corvairs, GT350(H), etc.

    No need to come to a party dressed like everyone else.

    And, there were some late 115 and 116 Alfas with an automatic.

  2. Keith,
    There are plenty of venues for “vintage” American Econoboxes but the SCM 1000 is definitely not one of them! You would never forgive yourself. What’s wrong with a ‘ride along’ with one or more of your buddies?

  3. This is easy. A powerglide Corvair would be gutless. A Falcon with some suspension and brake upgrades, a small block V-8 and an automatic would be a great choice. Properly done, it could embarrass quite a few proper sports cars!

  4. Keith, you would enjoy a 2-pedal ’65 or ’66 Mustang GT on the tour. After all it’s known as “the All American Sports car”.

  5. While not as nimble as most European cars, a Corsa convertible with turbo could be an enjoyable and comfortable ride.

  6. If you got to go American to get an automatic for the SMC1000 I think the late body Corvair would be a good fit. Looks good, looks and sounds foreign! Probably handles better too. Don’t know how an auto from those days would be on a tour though. Back in the day my church had two Greenbrier vans (manual). I remember it was not uncommon for that odd 90-degree change of direction fan belt to come off. At least it was easy to put back on.

  7. Didn’t Falcon Sprints win some major rallies like Montie Carlo, etc.? After all, the Falcon is the same platform as the Mustang so anything Shelby did to the GT350 can be done for the Falcon.

  8. As much as your chosen niche is pre 1974 sports cars, practically they were not made with automatics in most cases. Besides, it makes little sense to buy a car you have no affinity for when you will only use it once. Be the navigator or drive a more modern car.

  9. B.Mitchell Carlson

    Keith, you already have the solution in the company garage – the ACC ’66 Mustang.

  10. Do something you have never done before.
    Although I (thankfully) don’t have your health issues, I’m over 60 and feel a bit like “If I don’t do it now…” and thus looking for new things to do, places to go, people to meet and if course, cars to drive.
    We know a Falcon will never replace an Alfa, but driving one around the Northwest would still be a great experience.
    I’ve had plenty of drives, but even when I’ve driven a great car, my memories of the trip are of the sights and interactions more than the car, whatever it’s qualities…or lack of them.

    Just go and have fun. You’ll have other times in Sofas and exotics, but now enjoy the trip, the sights and people…you’ll have fun, even in an econobox.
    Trust me on this.

  11. Under $50k will see you in an E-type auto – though you’d have to put up with the lumpen 2+2 styling too.

  12. My family and I owned the all! The most outstanding was the Plymouth Valiant which we purchased new in 1960. Much later in life in my 60’s I purchased a 1964 Valiant convertible (no rust) over a few years changed the suspension to disc front brakes and a later rear axle that would accommodate the Rally style wheels. The duel master cylinder bolted in. With the 6 cylinder and automatic it was a pleasant car to drive on a Sunday afternoon. A Corvair Corsa came in the mid 70’s it was fun to drive and with the quick steering it became as close to as sports car as you could wish for. It lacked air conditioning which obsoleted it as a family vehicle.
    FINALLY, we come to the Ford Falcon’s from the early 60’s Every two years my father would purchase a Falcon pick up and a station wagon. Standard shift, no air, the radio was in the wagon. Living on the Florida Keys not much else was necessary since the speed limit was 55 MPH. The Falcon’s were TERRIBLE. I finally talked him into a M-B and a full size Chevrolet pick up. In 1961 I was given a used Volvo 544 for college withing a year I was working as a mechanic. It was not long before I was converted to Porsche. I have owned one since 1963.

  13. Have you considered an automatic Sunbeam Tiger? Yes, I know that they were all equipped with 4 speeds from the factory however I have seen several converted to C4 automatics to accommodate folks with mobility challenges. They are around and when you find one they are generally priced at a discount to the 4 speeds, plus assuming that they didn’t hack it up during the conversion (most don’t – it is basically a bolt in with the right cross member), you can easily convert it back to 3 pedal down the road if you choose.

  14. How about a C3 Corvette with chrome bumpers, auto and air?

  15. Keith,

    Great to see you at Chattanooga, it’s good to see you progress, keep pushing. Now for a car, Mercedes 280SL. A Mercedes is comfortable and easy to get in and out of. The 280 SL is better suited in an automatic anyway. The car is comfortable, safe and has ample room for luggage. Older domestic cars are fun but not so great in the curves. Enjoy the ride.

  16. I think a 260 or 289 Falcon Sprint would be a great addition as would a Corvair Spyder. I don’t think the early 60’s MGs and TRs were that technologically advanced.

  17. Keith – go with a Mustang or Camaro. I think the “sporty trim” versions could be worthy entrants for the event!

  18. the 63 Falcon Sprint, with a 289 and 4 speed is basically a Mustang and a cheap alternative to a Cobra. get the convertible

  19. How about a 240Z with an automatic transmission? A real sports car, and 2-pedal, and not finicky either. They made ’em; I know because I owned one once.

  20. First, the issue about American vs Foreign is a non-issue. Unless this is a one marque rally, drive what fits the rules.
    Second, the Falcon would probably be best, as it had a three-speed auto and lots of aftermarket parts.

  21. Third, everyone on this rally knows what your deal is. Expect lots of ribbing. That’s how you know that they love you.

  22. Keith, why do you have to DRIVE on the tour???

    Why not sit back in the passenger seat of one of your cool (already sorted) Alfas, as the navigator? Kick back and enjoy the scenery, as…

    Your daughter Alex does the driving!!!

    While I have no idea of her current work obligations. If she could get away, I say go for it…

    Daddy / Daughter road trip!!! As you both get older, the opportunities for this type of adventure will get less and less…

    As you know from your recent health scare and recovery. Life is precious and unfortunately can be cut short at any time…

    So I say make some great family memories, that will stay with Alex and you forever, while you both are able to do so…

    PS – 5 years from now in 2025 (even though you’ll be fully recovered and in great health) it will be Bradley’s turn behind the wheel of the family Alfa for his special time with DAD…