Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Random Car Wednesday: 1970 Ford Bronco

For a civilian-ized military vehicle, the Jeep has become far more successful than anyone in 1944 could have predicted. As such, many manufacturers tried to cash in on the same idea: a small, off-road ready vehicle that could work on pavement, as well as everywhere else. The Land Rover Series I and Toyota FJ-40 Land Cruiser were the first to use the Jeep formula, and later vehicles such as the International Scout and Chevrolet Blazer were met with great success. Today's RCW, though, might have been the most successful of them all. 

The Ford Bronco debuted in 1966 as a compact off-roader. A 170 cubic inch straight-6 was available, along with a more powerful 289 cubic inch V8. Bodystyles included a full "wagon" version, a pickup-style half cab, and a convertible option. Other novelties, such as dual gas tanks and a fold-down windshield, guaranteed strong sales. So strong, in fact, that the original bodystyle lasted until 1977. There were a handful of tweaks, such as more powerful engines and an automatic transmission, but the ruggedly simple styling went unchanged until the larger fullsize Bronco debuted in 1978.

Nowadays, the Bronco is still popular, with a devoted fanbase and a massive amount of aftermarket support. Customization is common with classic Broncos, so it's very rare to ever see two that look the same. Lift kits, custom paint, and roll bars are all standard fare. Here in Austin there are a number of classic Broncos that I've seen about, but this one is the first I've really been able to photograph.

The lack of styling changes makes it difficult to nail down an exact year for this beauty, but I'm going to tentatively call it a 1970 model, as that was the first year for the higher-mounted side marker lights. This is the so-called "wagon" roof, making the Bronco a scaled-down SUV of sorts. The paint color doesn't appear to be original, but the blue-jean blue looks good with the white roof and grille. The wheels are also handsome aftermarket pieces, riding on what appears to be a mild lift. As far as Broncos go, this is a very handsome specimen.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Mecum Auction Coverage

The Mecum collector car auctions are great venues to see some really amazing cars. They've only just recently started holding auctions here in Austin, so I just had to go take a look at what a real car auction is like in person. It's safe to say I wasn't disappointed. There was some amazing machinery going up for sale, as well as some genuinely cool stuff that didn't require an endless bank account to bid on. I look forward to their next Austin auction, as this one was definitely a blast.

Arguably the star of the show, this iconic Mustang is one of the actual screen-used "Eleanor" GT500's used in the remake of Gone in 60 Seconds. Though not one of Hollywood's finest motion pictures, this car has spawned countless clones and replicas. As such, this car was one of the main attractions.

There was no shortage of American muscle on display, with plenty of classics such as this 440-powered 1969 Plymouth Roadrunner.

Amongst the big-block muscle cars, smaller-displacement roadsters such as this delightful MGB stood out. One of the weekend's top sellers was a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 190SL that brought a handsome sum.

The beautiful color combination on this antique Dodge sedan was simply spectacular. This was one of the oldest vehicles to cross the block during the weekend, with most of the vehicles being 1960's era muscle cars.

This 1962 Ford Thunderbird was in good shape, attracting many buyers who wanted something that wouldn't break the bank. There were a number of vehicles that sold for less than the $10,000 mark, allowing happy bidders to bring home a cool car for a cool price.

Newer cars, like this McLaren 12C Spider, were a minority during the weekend. A set of Audi R8 coupes and a smattering of late model Ferraris were on hand, but most vehicles were pre-1990.

Another main attraction was this 1966 Shelby GT350H. Originally a Hertz rental car, the white and gold paint scheme is very rare, as most cars were black and gold.

Pickups were fairly common, too, with well-preserved classics such as this Chevrolet drawing plenty of attention. I personally liked the colors on this one.

Those looking for something with a bit more luxury could bid on this immense 1961 Cadillac limousine. The black paint and whitewalls are very formal, and supposedly the car was used in a film recently.

Another classic roadster, this Austin-Healey was very original. The wire wheels are perfectly 60's, and the design has aged well through the years.

The iconic 80's supercar, this Ferrari Testarossa looked stellar in white. Having seen multiple Testarossas, all in red, the white is refreshing change of pace and really seems to emphasize the car's distinctive looks.

One of the most desirable muscle cars of all time, this 1970 Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda is a numbers-matching original. Flat black decals over black paint with black interior make for a very sinister Mopar.

This Nash Statesman was an oddity, but a very well-preserved one. I imagine changing a tire is an interesting occasion in one of these.

A collection of rare classic pickups was being auctioned off, including a Studebaker, a Hudson, and this very lovely yellow Willys Jeep truck. I personally adore Jeep pickups in general, so this one caught my eye almost immediately.

There were at least ten different 1969 Chevelles on hand, ranging from base-level Malibu convertibles to spot-on Yenko clones. This one, however, stood out to me. Decked out as a pro-tourer, this Chevelle SS 396 has new rims and a pretty wild color scheme. Muscle cars are known for their vivid colors and wild decals, so this definitely fits the bill.

Naturally there had to be at least a few Porsches around, and I think this may have been a personal favorite. It's a 1979 Porsche 911SC, the very iconic whale-tail design that everyone recognizes.

There are a lot of GSX replicas floating around, but this isn't one of them. This is a genuine 1970 Buick GSX Stage 1 in Apollo White. One of the quickest cars in America in 1970, the GSX is an awesome car from an era when Buick of all people built a muscle car that could blow Camaros and Mustangs out of the water.

While plenty of well-restored and bone-stock cars were available, there were also some tastefully-modified rides, such as this 1959 Chevrolet pickup. Lowered suspension, custom wheels, and pinstriping give this truck a hot rod vibe.

This 1939 DeSoto S6 is a very rare machine. I've never encountered one before, and I doubt I'll see another one this nice ever again.

This is the ultimate sleeper. It's a 1967 Mercury Comet 202, the base-level coupe with door pillars and bench seats. However, this particular Comet was ordered from the factory with Ford's R-Code 427 and a 4-speed manual. Apart from the easy-to-miss fender badges, there's nothing to suggest that this little Mercury is a serious tire-shredder.

If you want a truly opulent automobile, look no further than this 1956 Continental Mark II. The Continental was technically a Lincoln model, but stood as its own individual brand, much like how Imperials were independent from Chrysler. The Mark II was extraordinarily luxurious, even being compared to contemporary Bentley and Mercedes-Benz models.

Few cars look as good in the Gulf livery as the Ford GT and GT40. Well aware of this, Ford offered a handful of Ford GT Heritage Edition models that came from the factory wearing the iconic racing livery. This 2006 model is a beauty, and one of three GT's to attend.

This one was a big surprise. It's a Fiat 2300 S with bodywork by Ghia. The beautiful coupe is a pretty rare automobile, and not something I had even remotely expected to see. The styling seems reminiscent of classic Maserati models from the 1960's.

Lastly, this one is likely my personal favorite. It's a 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A, the Trans-Am derived variant of the regular Challenger. The T/a got a 340 Six Pack, flashy graphics, front and rear spoilers, a flat black snorkel hood, and distinctive "trumpet" side exhaust. This car's equipped with an automatic transmission and wears high-visibility "Sassy Grass Green" paint. It's safe to say I wouldn't mind taking this one home with me.