Three Americans and a German Set a Low Bar. Vote For Shitbox Of The Week!

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Folks, it’s that time, the moment none of you have been waiting for. After hours of internet classified searches, many sleepless nights spent thinking up pop culture references to stump David, and a good solid five minutes devoted to meticulously researching each car, it has all come down to this. Four sub-$2500 cars. Only one can win.

It’s not even 5:30 here on the West Coast, but I’m calling it. Yesterday’s Shitbox Showdown was a 70-30 split; it’s clear that you all like Studebakers (and the band Devo, apparently). The 1976 Datsun 710 is also a worthy project, and many of you seem to agree, but we’re here to arbitrarily choose one car or the other, and yesterday that car was the 1962 Studebaker Lark.

Anyway, let’s recap our four finalists of the week; since you’ve all had your say, I’ll throw in my two cents as I go through these. That’s half a cent per car… yeah, that’s probably about what my opinion is worth.

1985 Volkswagen Scirocco: $500

I have a soft spot for Sciroccos. My first car was a ’79 Scirocco, in Diamond Silver Metallic and rust two-tone. I loved it until it succumbed to underbody rust so bad that it nearly broke in two. I actually cried a little when it went to the junkyard. I’ve wanted another ever since. One of these later Karmann Sciroccos would be all right, I guess, but It can’t hold a candle to that crisp folded-paper Giugiaro original. But for 500 bones, if I had the space and bandwidth for another car project, I’d have bought this yesterday. (And it looks like someone did; the ad is gone.)

I’ve never been a fan of flat black; I’d put it back to the original red, I think. I’ve been wanting to try that “Rust-Oleum and a foam roller” paint job, and this would be a good candidate. The ripped and busted GTI seats would have to go, as would that tacky aftermarket steering wheel (what is that, an EMPI knockoff?). Then I’d do what these old early water cooled VWs do best: just drive.

1975 Buick Skylark: $2000

This one surprised me; I didn’t expect it to win. I like it, but I didn’t think anyone else would. Chalk one up for seventies GM nostalgia, I guess. Or I underestimated the overall dislike for the PT Cruiser. But this Buick is a sharp-looking car inside and out, and the transmission issue could be as simple as a fluid change and a cable adjustment. (Or it might not be. You pays your money, you takes your chances).

Since bolt-on self-tuning electronic fuel injection systems became a thing, I’ve wondered what they would do for the drivability of these old early smog boat-anchor engines. Low-compression no-cam-lift V8s like this run forever, but they barely run in the first place. I’d be curious to see what a Holley Sniper EFI kit would do to this old Oldsmobile 260. Not with the goal of improving performance, just making it run properly. And as I said in the original post, I’m a sucker for a liftback.

2009 Ford Crown Victoria: $800

I wouldn’t want this car for myself, honestly. Too big, too new, and I would get annoyed by the police-car stigma quickly, I think. But I’m sure somebody will want to fix it up. It sure got enough votes; this was our most lopsided win of the week.

1962 Studebaker Lark VIII Wagon: $2500

Studebaker Lark wagon

I agree with David; I love this car. But I’m even less equipped to take this on as a project than I would be the Scirocco. To do this car justice, you need to devote yourself to it. You need to eat, breathe, and sleep Studebaker. You need a garage space with a lift dedicated to it, and the patience to take it apart and assess the condition of each system and lovingly coax it back into working order. This isn’t some damn common Ford Falcon; it’s a Studebaker, for Pete’s sake, and you need to treat it with respect. And then, when you’ve found out where to get parts, go drive the wheels off it. I couldn’t do that with this car because my MGB GT would get jealous. And when a British car gets jealous, watch out. Get ready to break out the multimeter.

In short, for my money, it’d be a hard choice between the Scirocco and the Skylark. But I don’t have to make that choice; you do. I’ll announce the winner on Monday, and then we’ll take a look at two new bad ideas. See you then!

 

Quiz MakerImages: Sellers
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42 Responses

  1. I’d probably buy the Rocco, because I’m a VW guy and an idiot.
    I know how cool it could be all fixed up, but I’d never finish it…

    Second choice would be the Crown Vic. Those things are bulletproof (see what I did there?). They run forever, plenty of power, handle surprisingly well, are as comfortable as driving your living room, cheap to fix or mod and easy to find parts for.

    The Buick and the Stude don’t fit the “shitbox” vibe for me.
    The Skylark is so 70’s vintage cool.
    And the Lark is a labor of love resto project.

  2. I’m probably a generation (or two) away from most members, so I can’t outrun decades of mistakes with cars that were beyond my means or skills to deal with. For tired, old me, the conundrum is that the Skylark doesn’t look very shitboxy, but it has to be my choice because it doesn’t need much, and it looks like a happy face, or a slice of lemon meringue pie, both of which are simply irresistible. That Scirocco is about to fall apart, the Studebaker is a money pit, and the Crown Vic doesn’t fit my politics. Voted for Mellow Yellow.

  3. A few years ago between jobs, I drove a cab for a few months. Everyone else has vans, while I drove the only car in the fleet, an early aughts Police Interceptor variant of the Crown Vic. Sure, I probably got nearly half the mpg of anyone else ( considering you split fares, tolls, and gas with the cab company, sucks for me!), but, there were certain customers who *requested* the Vic. Sure, I’d attribute my handsome, charming self as the main reason; but especially for the elderly – getting in and out of the lower car, plus the room and comfortability – the vans couldn’t hold a *Torch* (see what I did there? 😉 ) to the Vic. Plenty of torque when you need it, and if it was still white, with the dark tints, and still had that spot-light still working (or at least hanging there, visible lol), people wouldn’t screw around with you.

    But more importantly, this is a “shitbox showdown”! What other car on this list would you be able to hoon into Mercedes Streeter off the track in those little derbies she runs, where you could fly to a parts store, wether OEM, or even the aftermarket community for this engine?

    Parts availability has me sold on this more so than any other car on this list (sure, 70s GM parts are easily sourced for an engine, but good luck finding anything original for that body, if they haven’t already been painted over/bondo’d up).

    On another take, the Scirocco would be my other choice. In the sense of “purest enjoyment” (think twisty back road run), as long as the car isn’t about to snap in half ;)!

    Good luck with the site guys! I haven’t checked it since after the first week of announcement, and it’s GLORIOUS

    1. 89 Cougar XR-7 was my first car.
      Basically a big boy Mustang.
      Never drove a fox body, not sure how they handled. But if I didn’t have two sand bags in the trunk, I could *not* drive in the snow. (All-season rubber here in NJ is just fine). Was probably the comfiest car I’ve ever owned tbh. That backseat was… AWESOME ????

  4. Man, I just don’t get all y’all who see anything at all in that Scirocco. I’ve ridden in one, and it was not memorable. And this one is just old and worn out and nasty and, as an important disqualifier in my state, not smog exempt. Thank goodness enough of you see the sense of the Studbucket. You’ll have the only one in your neighborhood, and nobody will confuse it for a tired CVCC from twenty yards.

    1. “Man, I just don’t get all y’all who see anything at all in that Scirocco. I’ve ridden in one, and it was not memorable.”

      You should have driven it. I owned one and it WAS memorable. It was light, tossable and fun. Very easy to wrench on, got good mileage and parts were cheap. Had the internet and in particular Ebay been a thing while I owned it I’d likely have found solutions to its issues much quicker and enjoyed it even more.

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