A Ferrari for Everyman (or Woman)

The Lamborghini Countach may have had the dorm room poster market, but the 308 got screen time with “Magnum, P.I.”

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The great automotive die-off of the 1970s claimed muscle cars, full-sized American convertibles, and traditional British sports cars. Italian exotics came perilously close to being on that list. In addition to U.S. emission and bumper regulations, in Europe escalating fuel prices and shortages, along with punitive taxes, were threatening Maserati, Read More

Credit-Card Specials in Monterey

The DB7 led directly to the current top-notch Astons, and it’s a huge amount of swagger and eyeball for $50,000

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Finding an affordable classic in Monterey seems about as likely as grabbing the “early-bird special” at Alain Ducasse’s newest restaurant. This is after all Monterey, and for five days in August, even the meanest Econo Lodge becomes the $300/night “Hotel Costa Plenté.”

Nevertheless, there were some interesting $50,000-and-under cars Read More

The Unaffordable Classic

A dead DS that has settled to the bottom of the suspension travel is likely to become part of the fossil record at precisely the spot where it died

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The introduction of the Citroën DS19 at the Paris Motor Show in 1955 had all the drama of Klaatu’s flying saucer landing in Washington, DC in the 1950s sci-fi movie “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” By the end of the Read More

A Beetle in a Lovely Italian Suit

The real bug with any Karmann-Ghia is rust. It’s claimed nearly all of the early cars, and it can appear anywhere on the body

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By the mid-1950s, it appeared certain that the West German economic miracle would be sustained. Luxury models from BMW and Mercedes-Benz began to reappear. Even Volkswagen began to consider something more special than the prosaic Beetle sedan.

The Italian coachbuilder Ghia had proposed designs for Read More

Ford’s Sleeping Beasty

The Pantera was legendary for either killing famous owners or inciting them to violence-Elvis pumped a .38 caliber slug into his

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By the late 1960s, Ford seemed to be concentrating more on holding grudges than building cars. Still smarting from its failure to acquire Ferrari, Ford grabbed a weak consolation prize when it acquired the DeTomaso organization, along with past-their-prime coachbuilders Ghia and Vignale.

At the time of its Read More

Zoom-Zoom, Slurp-Slurp

Early RX-7s rarely see 20 mpg highway and can be driven down into single digits; owners laugh at later claims of 30 mpg

By the late 1970s, the sports car world was looking bleak indeed. A 1975 Road & Track comparison test of the Maserati Merak, Lamborghini Urraco, and Ferrari Dino 308 GT4 showed none of these detoxed beasts to be capable of a sub-eight-second 0-60 mph run. It was far worse Read More

Nash’s “Mini Me” for ’53

The American automotive scene is littered with the tiny carcasses of small cars that U.S. manufacturers have tried to foist on a largely unwilling and disinterested market. American Bantam, Playboy, Crosley and Nash with the Metropolitan all tried, with varying degrees of success. But in the end, the American market’s love for large cars would always prove too strong.

But in the early 1950s, with the postwar import fad in full swing, the unconventional Nash-Kelvinator corporation believed there was a Read More

Too Late the Fiero.

The transformation was astonishing. The 1988 car had performance, braking, and handling to go with the good looks

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The manner in which the Pontiac Fiero was sold to the unimaginative Roger B. Smith-era GM management (now thankfully long gone)-a generation of inbred, know-nothing dullards, who nearly killed GM-speaks volumes about how obtuse they were.

One sports car, the Corvette, was enough for Smith’s beady-eyed bean counters, so the mid-engine, two-seater Read More

Avoidable Classic: GM Diesels

Have I Got a Smokin’ Deal for You.

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When pundits ponder why diesel cars failed in the U.S., the infamous engines built by Oldsmobile from 1978 to 1985 come to mind instantly.

Critical engineering flaws, consumers who ignored strict maintenance schedules, and the handicap of a casually water-logged diesel supply turned the cackling diesels into rolling grenades. Most have gone off by now.

Since the last Oldsmobile diesel Read More

Good Value out of the Box (Its Own)

The 2-liter is really the car to have, as it transforms the 914 from an also-ran into a car capable of out-running a TR6

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By the late 1960s, it was apparent the 912 was no longer the answer to Porsche’s need for a lower-cost, higher-volume model. High production costs and currency issues had forced the 912 far above 356 price levels and at not enough of a discount versus the Read More