Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Random Car Wednesday: 1970 Chevrolet Camaro RS

While the Mustang may have started the pony car craze, Chevrolet's competitor, the Camaro, became a legend as well. Three years after its introduction, in 1970, Chevrolet gave the Camaro its first major redesign. Intended to give a more sporty European look to a decidedly American car, the new "F-body" cars were a big change from the original design, but still offered plenty of muscle car attitude. Today's RCW is a 1970 Chevrolet Camaro RS. As shown by the side badging, RS stood for Rally Sport, and in previous years the RS package was easily identified by the hideaway headlights. For the new 1970 models, the RS package moved the turn signal lights up above the bumper. The bumper itself was changed, too. RS cars had split bumpers, or "bumperettes", as opposed to a single-piece unit. Many owners like to mix and match parts on these cars, but between the bumpers, turn lights, and badges I'm inclined to believe this is a genuine RS. The Z/28 badge, though, is likely an add-on part, like the custom wheels. This Camaro is overall very handsome, and the white stripes on black paint are a lovable muscle car trope. The light customization makes it unique, and also very drivable. By the looks of it, this is a car that gets driven on a semi-regular basis. If nothing else, it's a very handsome Camaro that somebody is taking good care of.

1970 Chevrolet Camaro RS

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Random Car Wednesday: 1960 Pontiac Catalina

Austin is a pretty crazy place, and if you wander around for long enough you're bound to see something you like. Take, for example, today's RCW: A very neat 1960 Pontiac Catalina. The Catalina utilized the same overall architecture as Chevrolet, Buick, Oldsmobile and Cadillac models, but each brand had a different and unique design philosophy. A look at the windshield, however, and the connection becomes clear. Of the 1960 GM lineup, the Pontiac cars were among the most handsome, this sporty two-door Catalina in particular. The owner of this car is going for the custom cruiser look that was so popular in the 1960's, and it makes for a one-of-a-kind car. The bright green and white color scheme is something you don't see terribly often, and red wheels with white walls are another distinguishing feature. Overall, it's a good-looking car, and it makes me happy knowing it gets driven out on the city streets. That is, after all, what these old cars were built for.

1960 Pontiac Catalina

Monday, July 14, 2014

Cars and Coffee Roundup

With not a cloud to be seen, yesterday's weather was perfect for a car show, and the turnout at Cars and Coffee was impressive, to say the least. There were tons of cars in attendance, ranging from the Preludes and Integras of the tuner crowd to the Mustangs and GTOs of the muscle car guys. The heat and sunshine were a welcome departure from last month's show, which was marked by sporadic rain showers. Anyways, here are some photos for you to look at. Enjoy!

The aptly-named "lead sled" Mercury coupes of this era are extremely popular cars to customize. This one has a fair bit of work done, but nothing too crazy. The chrome has been painted a metalflake silver, the roof appears to have been chopped, the wheels are custom but period-correct, and the hood bears portholes from a vintage Buick. That's a lot of modification, and yet it doesn't look too extreme or outrageous. A nice cruiser, that's for sure.

The BMW M4 is the brand-new replacement for the M3 coupe. The M3 will only be available as a sedan, so the M4 will become the new performance coupe for BMW. According to reviews, it's an incredible car that has more than earned the M badge. This is the first M4 I've seen in person, and I have to say I was impressed. The proportions are good, and I like the looks of it. Something tells me I'll be seeing more of these in the future.

Perhaps my favorite variation of the Porsche 911 is the track-focused GT3 RS. It's a stripped-down racecar for the road, and its factory-stock graphics make it easily identifiable. The red accents are a major contrast to the white bodywork, and make the car look like a Hot Wheels. Still, I like it, and the pedigree of this machine commands a certain amount of respect.

How can you not love this? One of the wildest supercars of all time, the Ferrari Testarossa is not just a car, it's an icon. It symbolizes the 1980's just as much as the Delorean, or Michael Jackson. Just look at it, with its wide stance, enormous side vents and pop-up lights. Despite the radical looks, it's a painfully beautiful automobile, and this one was a highlight of the show.

This Camaro looks rather menacing, as well it should. The little badge on the side indicates that this car is packing a 572 cubic inch V8 crate motor. That's a terrifying amount of engine for such a car, but with those massive rear tires, I suspect that straight-line speed is the driver's goal. This is a pretty cool car, and while not quite a sleeper, the conservative looks betray the car's colossal potential.

The import crowd usually brings out customized Z-cars and S2000s, but this is something new. It's a Lexus LS400, but modified like a typical tuner car. Lowered suspension brings the car down on top of its custom wheels and tires, and I suspect the customization continues under the hood. While not a car that usually gets this kind of treatment, I actually kind of like it. The lines of the car keep it from looking too cartoony or ridiculous, and the license plate is clever.

This is a 2008 Mercedes Benz CLK 63 AMG Black Series. The Black Series cars are notable because they are the most insane, unadulterated, downright terrifying speed machines you can get from AMG. This isn't so much a sports coupe as it is a ballistic missile with a steering wheel. It'll hit 60 in four seconds flat. Your right foot can open the floodgates on a 500 horsepower V8 that wants nothing more than to break your face. What that all means is that I like this car very much.

The Smokey and the Bandit Trans Am is adored by the automotive community, and for good reason. It was one of few muscle cars of the 70's that actually retained any muscle, and those graphics are ridiculous, yet perfect. This car is a spot-on replica of the movie car, right down to the "BAN ONE" license plate. Super cool.

Now, this one is something a bit different. After a little research, I've figured out that this is a Fiat 616 tow truck. The paint job suggests that this vehicle did time as a servizio corse (course service) truck for Abarth. Fiat and Abarth were very close, so this could very well be the real deal. Even if it isn't, I can't imagine there being more than one or two of these trucks in the U.S.

This little vehicle is an MEV Rocket. Apparently the Rocket is meant to be a more affordable counterpart to the Ariel Atom. The Ariel and the MEV look very similar, and fulfill the same role. Both cars are road-legal racing vehicles that emphasize lightness. The Rocket is basically a go-kart that you can drive on the road, and then take to the track on the weekend. These cars are British, so seeing one in the U.S. is uncommon at best.

Also falling into the street-legal go-kart category is this little yellow torpedo, the Caterham R300. Whereas the MEV is a relatively unheard of company, Caterham is legendary. They build kit cars based off of the old Lotus 7 design, and they've earned quite a reputation. The R300 model is a slightly less psychotic version of the R500 Superlight, although visually they are almost identical. These cars are also British, but their popularity means that there are companies who import these cars to America. This one was brought in through a dealership in Hollywood before finding its way to Texas.

This Ford coupe symbolizes the temperature of the car show rather nicely. Calling it a warm day would be a massive understatement. Anyway, this hot rod has all the usual tropes of the genre, from flame decals to chrome wheels. It's a cool car, or I guess a hot car if you want to be technical about it, and represented the hot rod culture rather nicely. Admittedly, that is a perfect shade of red.

This FJ40 Land Cruiser seems to be ready for a desert expedition. Based on the front plates, though, it may have already done just that. These old Land Cruisers are popular around here, and this one is one of the coolest examples I've come across. It's a no-nonsense off-roader, and I quite like it.

I'm a sucker for the Gulf livery. It's one of the most iconic designs in racing, and it has a habit of making any car look good. Famous Gulf cars consist of the Ford GT40 and the Porsche 917 from Le Mans. This Porsche, then, has the Gulf livery in its bloodline, and wears it proudly. Paint job aside, a background check on this car shows that it's a Hennessey-tuned version, producing 700 horsepower. Could this car get any better?

Continuing with the Porsche trend, this is a very new Porsche 911 GT3. These cars came out a while ago, but engine fire issues forced Porsche to recall every single car and replace the engines. Only now are the GT3s starting to hit the streets, and I have to admit, these cars look great. The GT3 model is my favorite 911, and this one in particular looks stellar in black.

The Bentley Continental is no stranger to Cars and Coffee, but this is the first Continental Supersports I've seen. The Supersports is a performance version of the standard Continental, boasting slight bodywork changes, a more powerful motor, and a shocking top speed of 204 mph. This is the first one I've come across, and it does a terrific job of looking both aggressive and refined.

Looking more refined and less aggressive is this colossal Packard convertible. In its day, this was one of the nicest cars money could buy, and even today it stands out amongst lesser vehicles. This one is simply immaculate, with no shortage of chrome. Green looks beautiful on this car, and the convertible bodywork is sensational. This is beauty, pure and simple.

A 1963 Corvette is a desirable car, and one that commands a high premium in today's market. But a 1963 Corvette with fuel injection? Well, I hope you have deep pockets. The fuel-injected 327 was the most powerful motor available in the 1963 Corvette, and was also a very rare option. To see this car here in such splendid condition was a treat, and the Corvette fans in particular were all but worshipping it. To call this car impressive would be an understatement.

I adore the new Viper, and I get excited every time I see one. This Viper GTS made an appearance at yesterday's show, and it looked great. Red and black is a killer color combo, although my favorite color scheme remains the iconic blue and white of the Launch Edition cars. Everything about the way this car is designed appeals to me. The proportions are achingly beautiful, and the performance is just an added bonus.

Gullwing doors will always be cool. Perhaps not practical, but definitely cool. This Mercedes Benz SLS AMG was showing off its gullwing doors at the show, and I made sure to snag a photo or two. This is the first SLS I've seen in black, and I think the color works well on the car. Someone at the show had an SLS AMG GT in red, which I admittedly preferred, but I'd take either without complaint.

Say what you will about the color, the craftsmanship of this classic 911 is museum-grade. The flush bumpers, racing mirror, rollbar and mismatched wheels all make for a competition-inspired look that simply blew people away. The older 911 models are pretty little cars, but this is simply gorgeous. It reminds me of the Singer 911s. I'm on the fence about the color, but the car itself is an undeniable work of sheer beauty.

The new Viper shown a few photos back could trace its heritage back to this beauty. It's a 1990s Viper GTS, the coolest Chrysler product of the era. This one is looking sharp with a deep metallic blue paint job adorned with silver stripes. Custom rims also distinguish this car from stock.

The Jeep Jeepster was not the most creatively-named vehicle ever built, but it was still pretty cool. Aimed at the Bronco, Blazer, and Scout, the Jeepster was bigger and more refined than the CJ line. The design was heavily based off of the original Willys Jeepster of the 1950s. These are popular collector cars now, and this one is unbelievably well-preserved, right down to the hubcaps. Impressive doesn't even begin to cover it.

Taking the trophy for wildest paint was this Mercury coupe. This custom cruiser had color-shift paint, which changes hue based on sunlight. You can walk around the car and watch the color change hues. In addition to the crazy colors, this Mercury also has lake pipes and other custom touches that set it apart from the crowd. Compared with the other lead sled Mercury from the beginning of this post, it becomes evident just how much these cars can be customized.

This 1969 Mustang convertible is a lightly-modified Sunday cruiser. The Torq-Thrusts are standard fare for muscle cars such as this, and the hood decal is from a sportier Mach 1 model. Otherwise, this car is pretty much stock, especially the interior, which looked just as it did in 1969. On such a nice summer day, I envy the person who has a convertible as nice as this.

I've seen this custom Charger before, but this is the first time I was able to get a good photo. It's a 1973 Charger, modified to resemble a vintage stock car. The paint job is an homage to the Blue Angels, a fighter jet exhibition team based in Florida. This car is absolutely terrific, and very unique.

Lastly we have this 1966 Plymouth Barracuda Formula S. The Formula S was the sporty version of the Barracuda, the equivalent of the Mustang GT. This one is beautiful, with shiny Cragars being the only deviation from the car's stock appearance. It's a pony car, pure and simple.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Random Car Wednesday: 1965 Mercury Monterey

Although they went out of business a few years ago, Mercury had a long history of building very nice cars. More upscale than a common Ford, but not as opulent as a Lincoln, Mercury fulfilled the same role for Ford as Buick did for GM. Penultimate luxury, so to speak. For example, look at today's RCW, a 1965 Mercury Monterey. Based off of the Fairlane and Galaxie platforms, the Monterey was a big, luxury four-door that boasted comfort, quality, and style. The design incorporates what may be more right-angles than any other vehicle ever produced. Nevertheless, it actually looks good, in a jet-age kind of way. It's handsome in a way similar to the Lincoln Continental. This particular car has period-correct custom rims and a very green paint job. It makes for a unique look on an equally unique machine. There aren't a tremendous amount of these cars left, so to see one in good shape is an uncommon occurrence. This particular car was in the parking lot at LSRU this year.

1965 Mercury Monterey Sedan

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Random Car Wednesday: 1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1

In 1968, the Plymouth Road Runner debuted as a cheap muscle car that could be had with sporty graphics, good looks, and a variety of engines. The formula was a hit, and the other manufacturers were quick to create their own budget muscle cars. The most successful by far was Ford, with the Mustang Mach 1. Arriving in 1969, the Mach 1 was one of several new Mustang trim levels. While not as track-focused as the Boss 302 or as straight-line fast as the Boss 429, the Mach 1 slotted above the GT and the luxury-oriented Grandé. The Mustang was redesigned for 1969, and was now bigger and meaner than before. The Mach 1 package capitalized on the new design, and included a black hood, side stripes, sporty wheels, and optional louvers and front and rear spoilers. The interior also got revised, with sporty seats and steering wheel. But the Mach 1 wasn't just a sticker package, it was a serious muscle car. Engine options ranged from the 351 Windsor up through to the 428 Cobra Jet and Super Cobra Jet, which boasted 335 horsepower. In the end, the Mach 1 was a smash hit. Sales were strong, and the model survived into the Mustang II era. It even returned in 2003 for a limited run, and was successful then, too. This car in particular is a Wimbledon White example with the 390 V8. It has the optional spoilers and louvers, and the original wheels which were exclusive to the Mach 1. It's a very pretty car, and as I've mentioned before, I'm partial towards the 1969 Mustang models. But can you blame me?

1969 Ford Mustang Mach 1