Hello Autopians! Well, would you look at that. It’s Friday again already! Time for another weekly roundup. Of course, we need to know what the fourth car we’re rounding up is, so let’s check yesterday’s results:
Really? Come on, you guys. No kid ever spent hours driving a toy beige sedan around the sandbox. (Well, maybe some kids did, but no kids I knew.) But I guess, if you’d rather have Dick Teague’s funny-looking four door instead of a real live fire truck, that’s your choice.
I did like the suggestion of turning the fire truck into a mobile taproom. Especially here in Portland, I feel like that would be a big hit. Park it next to the nearest taco truck and watch the sales roll in.
So with that, our foursome is set: two Reagan-era Volkswagens and two American orphan sedans. Let’s take another look at them.
As I think I mentioned, I have fond memories of another old VW diesel: a white two-door Dasher that my mom drove when I was in grade school. It was slow, and noisy, and got a bazillion miles to the gallon, and she absolutely drove the wheels off it. It had air conditioning, and you could feel when it kicked in: it’s like the car dropped anchor. But speed isn’t everything, and my goal on Monday was to find cars that could hit fifty miles to the gallon. So here it is.
I still want to know the story behind its Evel Knievel tramp-stamp. But it’s charming, and you’d certainly be able to spot it in a parking lot. This Rabbit needs a little mechanical attention, but there are so many VW diesel aficionados around that it shouldn’t be a problem to get it clattering down the road again. All four cars this week are projects to some degree or another, but this one is the one I’d personally be most likely to take on. Cheap and cheerful, just how I like ’em.
Rabbit too small for you, but you still want that ’80s VW goodness? This Quantum GL-5 beat out a pretty but dying Dodge Daytona in our vote. It’s a wagon, and a manual, and weird. Generally a winning combination around these parts.
It does need to have reverse gear fixed, or the transmission exchanged for a junkyard unit (if you can find one), but that’s worth doing. This car has that wonderful Audi five-cylinder engine in it, good road manners, cavernous cargo space, and a cool offbeat vibe to it. I dig it. This is a close second for me.
The phrase “they don’t make ’em like they used to” might have been coined for Packard. This grand old lady would have been the jewel of the neighborhood in 1954, even in low-level Clipper trim. With its silky-smooth inline eight and ingenious “Ultradrive” automatic transmission, noise, vibration, and harshness were things that applied to other cars, not Packard.
This car is well beyond my abilities and resources to bring back, unless I could devote myself to it exclusively. But it’s the one I’d most like to see back on the road out of these four. It’s number four for me personally, but if someone did see this old Packard, fell in love with it, and decided to return it to its rightful condition, I’d be very happy. My finder’s fee is that I get to drive it once. Sound fair?
Let’s be clear: I don’t dislike this car. It’s funny-looking, but by most accounts a reliable and comfortable way to get down the road, and if you’re willing to patch up a couple holes in the floor, in good shape. I just would want an old fire truck more, given the hypothetical choice. But with both vehicles sitting in front of me, yeah, I’d probably choose this old Matador as well.
The biggest appeal to me of these ’70s cruisers is the interior. The “Malaise Era” may have done terrible things to the engine compartments of American cars, but it also brought some wonderful cabins. This car’s plush bench and fake woodgrain dash look homey and inviting, and I just know that three-spoke steering wheel (the same as a Jeep, I think?) and column shifter both feel good in your hands. This is my third choice out of the four, but only because I have more familiarity with old VWs than with old AMCs.
So that’s it for this week. I’ve seen several comments on some of the more oddball cars requesting more of the same. I’m all for that, so I’ll try to find some more oddities. Of course, occasionally, we should look at a few sensible choices here and there as well. It’s all about balance, right? See you next week!