Good morning, Autopians! I’m back once again to show you two cars you don’t want, but must choose between anyway. Today’s search takes us down to the Big Easy, but before we go, let’s see what you made of yesterday’s small-town heroes:
Looks like a comfortable win for the Impala. I think that’s the right call. I do love a good pickup truck, but that GMC is just too damn rusty.
New Orleans is a city unlike any other. I haven’t been there since I was small, but even then I could tell the place was something special. New Orleans holds a special place in the collective unconscious and popular culture; it’s a place steeped in folklore, history, and even a little magic. It has withstood wars, hurricanes, floods, and throngs of invading Mardi Gras tourists. From voodoo to jazz, from cradle-robbing vampires to Ignatius J. Reilly, [Editor’s Note: I should mention my valve – JT] there’s no place quite like it. Such a special place demands a special mode of transport; you can’t just roll up to the House of the Rising Sun in a Sonata or something. So, as is our custom, we’re going to check out two rides, in this case thirty years apart in age, both just a little out of the ordinary, and see which one you would choose to get around this strange city.
Engine/drivetrain: 195.6 cubic inch overhead valve inline 6, three-speed manual, RWD
Location: Franklinton, LA
Odometer reading: 11,000 miles (no really!)
Runs/drives? Yes, but needs brake work
The early days of America’s fourth-largest automaker were a mishmash of nameplates and badge engineering. Before everything wore an AMC badge, Nashes and Hudsons rolled off the same assembly line. The all-new-for-1956 Rambler came with either badge, and was bigger than the previous Nash Rambler, but still a lot smaller than most cars of the era. No more two-doors were offered; you could only get a Rambler as a four-door sedan, four-door hardtop, or station wagon.
This four-door sedan Rambler is reported to have only 11,000 miles on it, and have mostly original paint, with one front fender in primer. Oddly, the interior does not match the exterior at all. Could you order a car with salmon-pink paint outside and a turquoise interior? I know some weird color combinations existed in the ’50s, but my guess is that the interior parts were replaced in anticipation of a repaint. But I kinda like the mismatch, personally.
The seller says this car runs and drives, but the brakes need some attention before putting it into regular service. It’s a three-on-the-tree, of course, with a simple pushrod inline six in front of it. All nice, simple stuff to repair, and while replacement parts aren’t as easy to source as for a Ford or a Chevy, they’re not impossible to find. And with this one, to find some parts, you need only turn your head:
Yep. Another ’56 Rambler is included, though the slight differences in trim tell me that the parts car might be a Hudson. The parts car has a complete engine that has reportedly been rebuilt, but we have no idea when; it could have been decades ago.
Engine/drivetrain: 2.2 liter overhead cam inline 4, three-speed automatic, FWD
Location: New Orleans, LA
Odometer reading: 62,000 miles
Fifties style too old for you? Fancy a little open-air experience? I’ve got you covered. I know that very few of you share my strange affinity for K-cars, but that’s fine. You have the right to be wrong.
What we’re looking at here is a post-facelift first-generation LeBaron convertible, after Chrysler softened the sharp edges a bit all across the K-car range. It has a fuel-injected 2.2 liter four under the hood, powering the front wheels through a three-speed Torqueflite automatic. It’s not going to be fast, but it’s a reasonably reliable and efficient drivetrain, and how fast do you want to go in a LeBaron anyway?
It’s in fantastic shape, with only 62,000 miles, and the seller says it runs great, and everything works. It’s got new tires, a new top, new brakes, and a long list of other stuff. I do have a feeling that the left rear quarter window won’t roll down; in every top-down photo in the ad it’s sticking up like a glass fin. But if one dead power window is the only problem, then it’s still probably one of the nicest K-cars left.
Oh, all right. It’s a dorky old car with zero sex appeal, lousy performance, and a lot of cultural baggage stuffed into its trunk. You almost certainly can find a better car, and you probably should buy it, but I don’t care. I like it. And yeah, it’s a little expensive, but it isn’t like first-generation LeBaron convertibles are in every used car lot anymore. You want a good one, this is what they cost now.
You can choose to drive a boring car instead of one of these, of course, but why would you, especially in a colorful and vibrant city like New Orleans? Why not instead drive a bona-fide ’50s classic, or an ’80s icon?
(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)