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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. Studebaker is the coolest, but like the article says, would require a lot of time and money to do right by it.

    The VW is dirt cheap, and probably has the second best upside here to the Studebaker without requiring so much dedication. VW it is.

  2. It wasn’t until I went to vote did I realize that the crown vic is a 2009. Good God that styling is dated. I drive a 2006 touareg and it looks 15 years newer than that thing!

    The vic is probably the most reasonable purchase based on age and reliability. Sucks it has low compression but I imagine it would be pretty easy to do a head job or find a motor for it.

    I voted for the vw though. I have a soft spot for those cars and pretty much any vw that’s not a Routan

  3. I voted Scirocco because I have a “good” car and the VW would be the most fun to drive as a project when finished. The Stude would be the most fun to show off, though.

    And if you need transportation, the Vic would be the best beater of the bunch.

  4. Gimme that Skylark! The TH350 in my ’74 Buick Apollo only cost me $600 to have rebuilt by a good local shop, including the labor to take it in and out. Granted that was about a decade ago, but even if it was a grand now, you’re still only $3 grand into a VERY clean car.

    1. Consider all the crap they have to take off on this newer cars for a “tune up”. Look at the average time it takes to tune up a car like the Lark,
      Compared to something from the last decade.
      Even with going the route of electric (steering, drive by wire brakes, etc), it’s way more complicated than it has to be.

      My first car was an 89 Cougar XR-7. While at the time it had quite a few “electric features”, it was still an *ANALOG* engine. Wrenched quite a bit on it, all the while beating it into the ground. I’m 34, and kick myself in the ass, because when I got it, it is what most of y’all would consider “excellent” condition. Paint was beautiful, that faux vinyl top was custom done by Joe-Schmo (which was clean; no tears, sag, fade, or anything like that). Perhaps that’s why I went with the Crown Vic in the poll (I sadly have an affection for shitbox Fords lol).

      I am currently facing issues with a family members 2010 Buick LaCrosse. Air bleed tube from the block to the overflow blew. No one has the part (fun fact – I found out they share the same part with a similarly aged Cadillac?) yet still, no one has it. Getting it shipped atm. While Ford is known for their issues (I don’t envy an F150 owner from the last 20 years lol), growing up, I’ve had the worst experiences with GMs. (We use mostly Chevys for our work vans, the issues with them are all over the place)!


  5. I’m torn between the Scirocco and the Crown Vic as my favorites this week, but the Scirocco edges out. Some time with better paint prep and spray could leave me with a pretty decent example that I don’t need to worry about keeping perfect.

  6. I went Scirocco here because as awesome as the Studebaker is I don’t think I could have the patience to get it back to the condition it deserves. I’m talking full on restoration. The Scirocco would be basically just a cheap red paint job and an interior replacement and driving it until the doors fell off.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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 ????

  10. If I needed a cheap daily, I’d pick the Crown Vic and find a salavage yard Mustang V8 to put into it.

    My own personal tastes bias toward the Scirocco. It has the lowest curb weight and lowest CdA of the four choices. It would make the best racing machine, and if I were to convert any of these cars to electric, the most efficient platform for conversion. Plus, there’s potential to shove a 1.9L 4-cylinder TDI into the Scirocco and get something with impressive performance and fuel economy for minimal expense and labor, relative to the time/expense restomodding the other cars to my liking.

    The Studebaker is definitely the best looking of the bunch from an aesthetic standpoint.

    I voted for the Scirocco.

  11. Resident data nerd checking in. The graph trending votes may be referenced from GMT instead of a timezone relative to the posting time on the site. Loving the site and happy to help make it better!

    1. Wouldn’t the trend be calculated by “x amount of time” AFTER poll was created? Time zone shouldn’t affect results. Wether you vote at 10 am, while I do at 9, we still both voted an hour after poll was created?

  12. For me it’d be the scirocco, if i found a nicer one for around 3k id definetely be a buyer. But that studebaker is just so cool. And a little fugly, but that’s ok. Because its a studebaker.

  13. 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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