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
The dual-purpose road/race car that could be built from a kit of parts pretty much characterizes the early efforts by Colin Chapman and Lotus. The concept came more clearly into focus with the Six, but after more than 100 cars, the swing-axle front suspension became antiquated and the bodywork expensive to fabricate.
Compared to the Lotus Six, the Seven was a simplified, modernized and productionized club racer that set new standards in appearance and performance. Still roadable and sold Read More
The 1984-89 Carrera, as the final iteration of the original “widebody” normally-aspirated 911, is a good choice for someone looking for an affordable sports car coupled with a high degree of refinement, reliability and sparkling performance.
Comparisons to the 1978-83 911SC are natural, as they share nearly identical bodies and interiors. But the Carrera has many significant improvements, starting with a 3.2 rather than a 3.0-liter engine. The Achilles heel of the 911 engine-hydraulic chain tensioner failure-was solved in Read More
The Triumph TR3 may be the last real bargain among English sports cars. For reasons Triumph lovers can’t understand but don’t complain much about, these cars never caught the tide that swelled prices of Austin-Healeys and Jaguars. Nevertheless, the TR3 offers all the quirky touches so dear to an Anglophile’s heart, is capable of hearty performance on secondary roads and interstate speed when necessary, and attracts a large and loyal following of enthusiastic owners.
The prototype Triumph was introduced Read More
In April 1964, Ford introduced the Mustang and started the pony car era. It set sales records that have yet to be broken and caught the powers-that-be at General Motors completely off guard, as they had nothing in their line-up that could compete.
A contingent within Chevrolet wanted to counter with a modified Chevy II but saner heads prevailed and the Panther Project, later named the Camaro, was initiated. Introduced a little Read More
630 (1977), 633 (1978-84), 635 (1985-89)
As the logical extension of the exquisite 2800/3.0 CS coupes, the 6 Series brought the new look of the 7 Series to BMW’s large two-door grand touring machine. Even more than the earlier coupes, the 6 Series traded tossability for comfort, sophistication and
The 3.3- and 3.5-liter straight sixes brought a worthwhile improvement in torque over the 3-liter. As you would expect from Read More
The Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider, introduced in 1966, continued in production until Alfa withdrew from the US market after 1994. A 28-year run for one model is a notable accomplishment, similar to the Model T and VW Beetle.
The original Duetto (a name which Alfa only officially used for the 1967 models) drew mixed reviews. For the US 1971 model year, the delicate tail was cut off. However, the basic “Kamm-tail” bodywork remained (with front and rear spoilers Read More