Monthly Archives: October 2011

Inviting A Vixen Into Your Home

It stands to reason that an enthusiast who is passionate about a marque would be at least a little interested in machinery peripherally related to said marque. I am referring to vehicles which don’t immediately come to mind when thinking or talking about a brand. A vehicular outlier, let’s say.

For example, a BMW car enthusiast could be interested in BMW motorcycles, but that would be too obvious. Our enthusiast would be excited about BMW-powered boats. The Ferrari geek in our group would get excited not about the latest Pebble Beach results, but rather a Lancia Thema 8.32, a generic sedan stuffed full of glorious Ferrari V8.
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1983 Mazda Rx-7: Disposable Sports Car #3

Around the late 1970s and early 1980s, small, affordable, two-seat sports cars were a dying breed. Sure, you could still spend tens of thousands of dollars on a new Porsche 911 and even more on a Ferrari, but sports cars for everymen were few and far between. Enter a small niche manufacturer out of Japan by the name of Mazda. Mazda was not the typical Japanese car company building what would become a mainstream empire similar to the likes of Toyota and Honda, rather the company embraced an image of sporting innovation with just a dash of quirky. Their biggest challenge to convention was their use of the Rotary engine, like you will find in this clean and inexpensive 1983 Mazda Rx-7 here on eBay in Bend, Oregon with a buy it now price of just $2700.

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Thought For The Day

I don’t have any real issue with the Smart Fortwo. I think if you lived in some impossibly hip urban environment, or San Francisco, it could be a nice little runabout. It’s certainly no Smart Roadster, even in Cabriolet guise, and that’s a shame. But forget all that. My thought for the day is this: you don’t need park distance sensors in a car where the rear bumper is 10 inches behind your skull. Seriously?

If you do need the sensors, maybe you should Google “training wheels” while you’re at it.

~Jonathan


Cool Car Places: Techno Classica Essen

Essen, Germany isn’t really much to look at. It is somewhat typical of many cities in der Vaterland, having been bombed-out during the second World War and rebuilt using one heck of a lot of grey concrete. It also has the requisite burned-out church tower as a reminder. Not sure what it’s supposed to be a reminder of, ar at least I’m not going to get into that here. There is a bright spot in Essen, though, and it comes once a year to Messe Essen, the city’s huge convention center complex: Techno Classica Essen.

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1974 Jensen-Healey Roadster: Lotus Power and British Reliability……

It was 1984. I was 13 and my family had just moved from Southeast Asia back to New England. Among the important tasks that had to be completed (there was a very long list on a yellow legal pad) was for my Dad to purchase a “station” car. Commuting into New York City from the Connecticut suburbs happens one of two ways: you take your life into your hands, pay a small fortune, and drive in every day or you drive to the train station and relax in the quiet serenity of the Metro-North railway. At the time, my dad opted for the latter and wanted a cheap, fun car that he didn’t mind leaving at the station. The Jensen-Healey was on the short list, and we went to look at a car remarkably similar to this nice red Mk II/JH5 example which can be found here on Craigslist in Appleton, Wisconsin with an asking price of $4500.

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1979 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC 5.0: Homologation Special Barn Find

The Mercedes-Benz 107-series SLC coupes are largely unloved, having been succeeded with the larger and more glamorous C126 SECs of the 1980s. Still, the 107 coupes should not be cast aside and discounted as some sort of afterthought to the R107 SL roadsters, having been formidable rally contenders in the late 1970s, and being a hoot to drive in their own right. These Euro-only cars were produced in very small numbers (only 1636 according to some sources, 1470 according to others) and are exceedingly rare, especially in the U.S., in the condition that this amazingly low-mile example on eBay in Export, Pennsylvania is in.

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