If it hadn’t been for the success of the Mini-Cooper S as driven by Paddy Hopkirk in the Monte Carlo Rally and similar challenging long-distance races in the mid-’60s, the Mini probably never would have achieved the worldwide recognition it has enjoyed. And there certainly never would have been a BMW Mini in showrooms in 2002. With the release of the new model, the originals are enjoying a renaissance of interest in the classic car marketplace.
The Austin/Morris Mini, Read More
It was either love or hate at first sight when the 914 was introduced in 1970. Three decades later, the situation is pretty much the same.
To appreciate the 914, you have to understand its design brief: to recreate the 356 Speedster. That is, produce a simple, reliable, tossable, two-seat sports car with an immediately identifiable appearance. The biggest challenge was to produce this thoroughly modern roadster at about the same price as the final Speedsters: $3,495.
To achieve Read More
The Volvo P1800 has always been a bit of an odd duck in the sports car world. With its chrome-tipped rear wings and high belt-line, its looks were futuristic when introduced. By the 1970s they were dated, but now, 30 years later, they are pleasingly classic.
Over the lifespan of the 1800, its engine grew from 1780 cc to 1986 cc, induction changed from twin SU to Zenith-Stromberg carburetors to Bosch K-Jetronic injection, and horsepower went from 100 to 130. Read More
If striking design and technical sophistication were the prime factors in determining a car’s collectibility, the Subaru SVX (1992-97) would certainly make the grade.
Introduced in 1991 as a Giugiaro-designed show car, it wowed the public and the motoring press with its trend-setting Italian design. The SVX was both praised and criticized for its originality, especially the odd two-part side windows. The full-time all-wheel drive in most models presaged what has become commonplace in high-performance cars, but a full Read More
In the mid-’50s, as the costs of Austin-Healeys, Triumphs, and MGs began to increase with each new model year, Donald Healey saw a niche opening up for a car that would be fun to drive, inexpensive to own, and “small enough to store in a chap’s motorcycle shed.” From that inspiration was born the Austin-Healey Sprite, introduced in 1958.
In its first “cheap and cheerful” form, it used simple body panels, had no outside trunk lid and was powered (if Read More
In its day, the Citroën SM was a deserving member of the supercar ranks. Capable of 0 to 60 in 8.6 seconds, and with a top speed of 140 mph, the Citroën SM offered a unique blend of Gallic insouciance and Italian con brio. When introduced to the US in 1971, the SM was selected by Motor Trend as its car of the year.
The name SM comes from the “systeme Maserati” under the hood. The all-alloy 2.7-liter four-cam Read More
In 1979 Mazda jumped into the two-seat sports car market with the basic, no-frills, rotary-powered RX-7. The car was an instant winner, and Road & Track referred to it as “a major breakthrough for the enthusiast.” Its primary competition, the once lean and mean Datsun 240Z of the early ’70s, had become the 280ZX, an overweight boulevard cruiser.
Mazda had been using the Wankel rotary engine in its cars since the late 60s, but problems with poor fuel economy and Read More
After the success of the Volkswagen Beetle in the 1960s, VW resurrected the idea of an on- and off-road car, and called it the Type 181 “Thing.” Inspired by the WWII Type 82 Kübelwagen, the Thing was updated with the Beetle baseline engine and running gear, but with the beefier Transporter/Microbus suspension. Also along the lines of the Kübelwagen was its Dumpsteresque-yet practical-styling. The simple doors and standard soft top could easily be removed, and the windshield folded flat. Read More
At the Monterey auctions this year, roadster-bodied Series I Jaguar E-types that were brilliantly restored were selling for $75,000 to $100,000. Yet at the same auction, a Series I E-type coupe in similar condition sold for less than $30,000. For the motoring enthusiast, as opposed to the investor, this anomaly is one of the great bargains in the marketplace.
In 1961, when Sir William Lyons introduced the replacement for the long-in-the-tooth XK 150, the E-type coupe was the Read More
In theory, the marriage of a Ferrari drive-train with an inexpensive Fiat body should have resulted in an affordable sports car with sparkling performance. Over the years, though, the initial promise of the Fiat Dino has simply not been kept. The Ferrari engine has proven expensive to maintain and the Fiat bodies have disintegrated.
By now, most Fiat Dino Spiders have been through the same wringer, or cycle, that 246 Dinos went through. In the late ’70s and early Read More