Great on the track, terrible on the road.
Minschier Gilmore
How many cars do you know of that were maligned for one reason or another as terrible road cars, but were very popular as racing cars?? (at least their bodies, at any rate)

Here's a few American examples:

Chevrolet Vega--It's lack of quality was legendary, but the drag racers embraced it.

Chevrolet Monza--Again, rotten quality, but everyone from the road-racers to hill-climbers ran them.

Ford Pinto--Very popular with the sports-car crowd AND the drag racing crowd alike.

Ford Mustang II--Even though it was the best-selling Mustang ever, it was still a Pinto underneath. Yet, they were raced just about everywhere. (and some are STILL racing)

Dodge Omni 024--Nothing brilliant, (in fact, rather terrible), but again, the drag-racers loved their shape, and the rally enthusiasts ran the devil out of them.

Chevrolet Corvair--Despite Ralph Nader's crusade against it, the second-gen Corvair made one heck of a race car. There are still quite a few competing in vintage races today.

AMC Hornet/Eagle hatchback--Opinions vary on this car as to how good/bad it truly was, but did you know that an Eagle AMX won it's class at the Nurburgring 24hrs? No joke, and with actor James Brolin as one of it's drivers!

I could go on, but you get the idea. Any others you can think of, foreign or domestic? (depending on the country you live in?)

People who drive glass cars...
'57 Plymouth
Here's a color I've never seen offered by anyone - see through.
1939 Pontiac show car...

The Mayor of "Imp"leton
Minschier Gilmore
We get some unusual cars in the parking lot at work every so often, but it's not common for one to be so unusual as to make all of us take turns going outside to look it over. Even with my somewhat obsessive nature concerning unusual foreign cars, I had to read the nameplate to find out what it was. Turns out it was a 1964 Sumbeam Imp. (in fact, it was the same color as the one pictured here)

Good grief this thing is tiny. I can't imagine driving on our SUV-infested roads in a car this small. While very uncommon here stateside, I'm told that these cars have a cult-following in their native country of Great Britain. (although I think most wore the "Hillman" badge over there)


(no subject)
Can you name any of these hood ornaments and their respected manufacturers?

How about the others at Thrillingwonder?

GSM Flamingo, 1962-64
Stauros by AnimeCat
It's a fiberglass-bodied South African sports car with Ford power (Taunus and later, Cortina). All pix come from (click for larger versions).

Another blast from the past: Syd Mead’s Futuristic Playboy Land Yacht
Steppenwolf live

Syd Mead's Land Yacht was commissioned by Playboy Magazine as the ultimate go-anywhere, do-anyone ride in an alternate Blade Runner-meets-Ladies Man future. Despite the 70's look, its predictions of modern driving technology are surprisingly accurate.

Mead's Land Yacht debuted in the June 1975 issue of Playboy, serving as both a roving bachelor pad and a vision of future travel. It's designed with a central computer system which manages vehicle systems as well as the duties of over the road driving, leaving you to lounge in the luxurious cabin and leather recliners.

And you thought they just made scooters.........
Minschier Gilmore
Everyone knows what a Vespa scooter is, but did you know that for about four years, they actually made cars? From 1957 to 1961, Vespa produced the "400". It was rather tiny, with room for two "friendly" adults, and a rear seat that was more of a suggestion than a useable place to sit, even for kids. With an air-cooled two-stroke, two-cylinder engine making about 14bhp, the 400 certainly didn't set any speed records. (it's top speed was about 50mph) The whole car weighed less than 900lbs. The Vespa turned out to be rather successful as micro-cars go, with over 30,000 produced. Quite a few were even sold state-side.

With it's tiny motor, it took nearly 25 seconds to hit top speed, but that didn't stop some enterprising American hot-rodders from "improving" on things..........

How about 146mph in about 9 seconds? With a 454c.i. Chevrolet engine, it must have been a hell of a ride! (and believe it or not, this car not only still exists, it still makes exhibition passes every so often) Wow.

Illuminated tires?
Found this to be interesting. Invented by Goodyear in 1961. Boy, were they ahead of their time!

Looking Forward, Looking Back--At The Same Time!
Minschier Gilmore
In the world of poat-war European micro-cars, they don't get much weirder than the Zundapp Janus.

Named for the Ancient Roman god of the doorway, (who had two opposite facing "faces"), the Janus had a back end nearly identical to it's front. Often, observers had to see whether there were headlamps or tail lamps on the end they were viewing to know which end of the car they were looking at! Entrance and exit was through a pair of side-opening doors on the front and back of the car, much like the equally weird BMW Isetta. The passengers in the back seat faced backward.
The Janus' small, 14bhp engine sat in between the front and rear seats, and could push the weird-wonder to nearly 50mph. It's unlikely too many folks saw the upper-end of the car's capabilities, as the Janus' odd configuration contributed to rather unstable handling when not completely loaded. Only about 6500 Jaunuses were ever built, thus making them very rare today, even in Europe.

As a side note, check out the character of "Professor Z" in the new "CARS 2" film. After reading this entry, I'll bet you recognize him. :)

meet the Bagheera
Stauros by AnimeCat
Everything was polyester in the 1970s -- even the cars -- but the Matra-Simca Bagheera was no leisure suit.

Beneath the lightweight body panels was an equally unusual three-across seating arrangement. Behind the seats was a 90-hp inline four that made the Bagheera competitive with other "poor man's sports cars" like the Opel Manta and Alfa Romeo GT1300.

It's a shame so few of these are still around. Polyester may last forever, but an ungalvanised steel chassis is no match for rust. They fixed that with the short-lived Murena, which was essentially an updated Bagheera. And if you want to see some other beautiful cars, check out the Djet and 530.

(click the pictures for bigness)

x-ray drawing showing the unique innards of this unique car
they came in other colours but yellow is tops on my list


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