Welcome to another Shitbox Showdown! Today we’re going to look at two cars you almost never see for sale, at least in reasonable condition for reasonable prices. They both have four round headlights, they’re both blue, and they’re both just a little fettling away from motoring perfection. But before we dive into those, let’s see the final tally of yesterday’s snooze-cruisers:
Well, crank up the Roxy Music, because the Avalon is the clear winner here. But I don’t think you could go too far wrong with either choice.
Today, I have found two cars that I am absolutely in love with. If I had the money and space, I’d be contacting both of these sellers, I think. On the one hand, we have a stylish and seldom-seen British businessman’s saloon, and on the other, a sweet Italian coupe in some other color than red. How can you go wrong? Presented with both keys and both titles, I’d have a hell of a time choosing. But luckily, I don’t have to. You do.
Engine/drivetrain: 2.0 liter overhead cam inline 4, four-speed manual, RWD
Location: Colfax, CA
Odometer reading: 87,000 miles
Runs/drives? Runs great, but needs brake work
It’s weird for most Americans to see the name “Rover” without “Land” or “Range” in front of it. Rover’s off-road vehicles are legendary, and the only products that survive today, but for a long time Rover’s saloon cars were comfortable, good-performing, and technologically advanced. The P6 (or 2000, or sometimes both) featured four-wheel disc brakes, an overhead cam engine, and a DeDion tube rear suspension – all in 1963. Rover competed with Jaguar in the years before the two companies came under the same corporate umbrella, and the P6 was every inch the executive car that Jaguar’s Mark II was, only more efficient and less expensive.
The “SC” in this car’s name refers to its single SU carburetor. 1966 saw the introduction of the P6 2000 TC, with the more-commonly-seen twin SUs and a corresponding bump in power. A couple years later, the P6 would receive an even bigger boost from Rover’s Buick-derived 3.5 liter V8, creating the P6 3500, but for some reason Rover saw fit to equip US-market 3500s with a trio of really hideous tacked-on hood scoops. As someone who doesn’t really care much about horsepower, I’d much rather have the 2000 and its smooth bonnet.
This P6 runs like a top, according to the seller, and includes all the service records dating back to 1966. The Wedgwood Blue paint is original, as is all the leather, and while the driver’s seat has some wear and cracks, the rest of the interior looks beautiful, including one of my favorite P6 features: that magnificent curved wood dash. It does need some brake work before it can be driven, but the seller isn’t clear on how pressing the need is: Can you limp it home? Shouid it be towed instead? The brakes are discs all around, and the rears are inboard, Jaguar-style, so refurbishing them will be a little more involved than slapping brake pads on your cousin’s Elantra.
But personally, I would gladly put in the effort to get the brakes back up to snuff. This is a rare car anyway, and to find one in such good original condition for less than five grand is remarkable. Show up to next month’s All-British Field Meet here in Portland in this pale blue lady, and you’ll draw a crowd for sure.
Engine/drivetrain: 1.8 liter dual overhead cam inline 4, five-speed manual, RWD
Location: El Verano, CA
Odometer reading: 12,900 miles (probably rolled over)
Runs/drives? Yep, but starts hard
Alfa Romeo’s Alfetta GT had a tough act to follow. The 105/115 series coupes, available in a wide assortment of flavors, were all drop-dead gorgeous, and by all accounts wonderful to drive, though I have never had the pleasure myself. The Giugiaro-designed Alfetta GT, based on the Alfetta sedan introduced in 1972, isn’t quite the looker that the 105/115 was (though I wouldn’t kick one out of the garage), but I have driven one of these, and I can confirm that it’s an absolute delight.
This Alfetta was recently awakened from a 23 year slumber, and has had a lot of work put into it. The fuel system, brakes (coincidentally also four-wheel discs inboard of a DeDion tube), clutch hydraulics, ignition, and more have all been gone through, and the seller says it runs and drives well. It does start hard, which seems to be a nagging problem with the Spica fuel injection system. US-market Alfettas were all fuel-injected for emissions reasons, and I’ve heard it’s a finicky system to set up and adjust.
You can tell this is a driver’s car; see the one gauge in its own pod directly in front of the driver? That’s the tachometer. The speedometer and other “lesser” gauges and warning lights are all in the larger pod in the center of the dash. Surprisingly, the dash itself appears crack-free, a minor miracle for California. It must have spent its Rip Van Winkle years indoors. The upholstery looks nice and clean as well. The seller does note some rust in the right front fender, but it wouldn’t be an Alfa Romeo without some rust somewhere.
I love the fact that it’s blue. Red Italian cars, especially Alfas and Ferraris, are so common that seeing one in a different color is a breath of fresh air. And if I don’t mention the lack of amber turn signals in the rear, signifying that this is a US-spec car, Jason will probably dock my pay.
So that’s what we’ve got: two affordable, good-looking, fun-to-drive classics that are just about ready to go, but need a little tinkering. Personally, I know my answer – both – and just this once I’m going to include that as a poll option, just in case you’re as enamored with these as I am. (And if you want a “Neither” option, I’m sure there’s a nice Prius review somewhere you can read.) What’ll it be?
(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)