Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Random Car Wednesday: 1989 Shelby CSX

Carroll Shelby is responsible for some of the most iconic performance vehicles of all time. The Cobra and Shelby Mustangs are obvious examples, and Shelby also had a hand in creating the Ford GT40. That said, after leaving Ford in the 1980's, Mr. Shelby went on to partner with Chrysler, which led to the creation of many interesting machines that are decidedly less iconic nowadays. Vehicles such as the Shelby Dakota, the Omni GLHS, and today's RCW: the Shelby CSX.

The CSX was essentially Shelby's take on the wholly unremarkable Dodge Shadow, which was a compact car with about as much style and substance as a plastic school chair. The first CSX debuted in 1987, followed by the CSX-T in 1988, and this car appears to be one of the final models, a CSX-VNT. Only 500 were produced, this car being number 62. In its final iteration, the CSX was surprisingly advanced. The bodywork was considerably more aggressive than the stock Shadow's bleak styling, and it was reasonably quick as well. The 2.2-liter "Turbo IV" powerplant was good for 175 horses, and made 205 pound-feet of torque at a staggering 2100 rpm. Top speed was somewhere along the lines of 156 mph, respectable considering the car's mundane roots.

This particular car was being offered at the Mecum auction in Austin not long ago, and I believe the bidding topped out around the $6,000 mark. Depending on what you think of the car, that's either a complete steal or a waste of money. Personally, I find the CSX to be quirky and different, an uncommon trait in 90's American cars. In particular, I'm amused by the upholstery: you'll certainly never forget what type of car you're in.

I'll have more auction photos up in the near future, but until then: Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Random Car Wednesday: 1958 Chevrolet Impala

The late 1950's were a wild time for American automotive design. Between sky-high tail fins and acres of chrome, subtle was never really an option. That said, some designs were more tasteful than others. This 1958 Chevy, a one-year-only design, is likely one of the prettiest automobiles of the era.

1958 Chevrolet Impala
In 1957, all Chevrolet passenger cars had fins, such as the iconic Bel Air. In 1959, fins were also present in a very big way. Yet in 1958, Chevrolet cars looked like this. Sure, there was no shortage of chrome, but the fins that were so popular in this era, especially in GM vehicles, were notably absent. The design comes across as less outlandish, and more handsome. The 1958 Chevrolet is a well-proportioned, neatly-packaged car.

This year also marked the introduction of a legendary Chevrolet model: The Impala. Whereas the Bel Air was aimed at being luxurious, and could be had as a coupe, sedan or wagon, the Impala was more sporty. The only options were the "Sport Coupe" and the convertible, with the Impala being the only convertible in Chevrolet's lineup other than the Corvette. Impala models were also characterized by a slightly different roofline, a longer wheelbase, sportier interior trim, and the three-taillight setup that would become an iconic characteristic of the Impala throughout the 1960's.

This particular car was spotted on a side street in Austin not far from the Capitol, and I cannot stress how perfect it is. For a car that's over 50 years old, this Impala is incredible. No scratches or dings, no rust, no imperfections of any sort. The interior is essentially a time capsule, and the chrome was so polished it looked like liquid metal. The fact that it was parked on the street is especially noteworthy, as that means it does get driven, as opposed to being a trailer queen found only at car shows.

The Impala is one of Chevrolet's most iconic marques, and this car sums up the appeal nicely. It's a dashing and sporty automobile for the motorist who enjoys driving. Sadly, the current-gen Impala is a shadow of its former self, found mostly in rental car lots or as a fleet car. That said, at least there's still an Impala at all. The same can't be said for models such as the Cadillac Eldorado, Ford Thunderbird, or Lincoln Continental. The Impala still exists, and maybe one day it'll be as impressive as it once was.