Happy Friday once again, Autopians! It’s Friday the 13th, so be careful out there. Don’t go walking under any ladders or petting any black cats (especially ours; she’ll bite you), and whatever you do, stay away from the lake at the old abandoned summer camp.
Looks like it’s bad luck for our Chevy Venture from yesterday’s showdown. Should have gotten that Looney Tunes package. Then you would have at least had a couple of rabbit’s feet for luck. (Which I never understood; always seemed like bad luck for the rabbit. But I digress).
So with that, we have our four for the week. Let’s take a second look at them…
This AWD stickshift spaceship-on-wheels beat out a scruffy Celica convertible, and I think a big part of the reason why is this unassailably cool steering wheel:
I mean, come on! No car has ever had a cooler steering wheel than that. Though I do wonder if it would mess with your perceptions until you got used to it. Maybe that’s what the nub on the left is for, to give you a clearer sense of where “straight ahead” is.
This is one of those cars I loved to gawk at in Road & Track when I was in high school. That wedge shape, the stunning interior, the high-tech specs… the future really was so bright, we had to wear shades. But looking at this car now, I don’t see the future; I don’t even see nostalgia. I see Weird Science – something that was cool when I was 15, but hasn’t aged well at all. (The movie, I mean, not the Oingo Boingo soundtrack. That has aged quite well.) I want to feel nostalgia for it, I just… don’t. I’ll rank this number 3 out of our foursome for me.
David may not have liked the V8 in our scruffy Jeep, but I don’t mind. Honestly, as far as engines go, for me, condition matters a lot more than spec. If it runs reliably, it’s good; I don’t care about the output. [Editor’s note: I don’t like the engine precisely because it often doesn’t run reliably. Do I look like a man who cares about engine output?! -DT]. It’s all here, more or less, and it doesn’t need much mechanical work to get it going again.
Lots of commenters feared it would be a money pit, and that might be true, if your intent were total restoration. But I look at this old Jeep and I see a reason to learn how to weld. It’s the one glaring gap in my auto-repair knowledge, the one thing I’ve never done, and that really ought to change someday. Patching up an old Jeep tub like this would be a great excuse, then give it a quick and dirty coat of paint (anything but flat black or olive green, I don’t like either) and bomb around in it as-is. This would rank number two for me.
This sporty little number won by what might be our largest margin yet. And frankly, I’m not sure why. It’s an interesting relic, and would probably be a reliable-ish runner, but that CRT touch-screen just turns me off. Especially since it’s damn near impossible to retrofit it with a normal stereo and HVAC controls. Maybe I’d like a newer Reatta better, but then you lose that nice three-spoke steering wheel.
Too much GM overreach here. They’re at their best when they stick to the basics. Other people seem willing to take these on as projects; they’re welcome to them. This is number 4 for me.
To be honest, I don’t have any nostalgia for this one either. The ’80s Chrysler product in our garage was a Dodge 600 ES sedan; we never jumped on the minivan bandwagon. But I have always liked practical vehicles, and they don’t get much more practical than this.
The red velour seems to have given this one the win, and even if you’re not willing to concede the usefulness of a small van, you have to admit that Chrysler’s interior game was on-point in the late ’80s. First that blue New Yorker that won last week, and now these cushy captain’s chairs. And I have to say, now that I’m pushing fifty and have done my time in a variety of rough-riding sports cars and pickup trucks, the idea of nice cushy seats gets more and more tempting every day. This would be my top pick this week, and if it were a little more logistically feasible, I might be headed up to look more closely at it.
So that’s our week. Vote for your favorite, and feel free to rank them in the comments. I haven’t had time to figure out a different poll format yet.
Next week will be a little different; I’ll be writing two or three days in advance this weekend, because I’ll be traveling. But I’ve got leads on some really interesting stuff, and you’re going to have some great discussions, and I’ll catch up when I get back. See you then!