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Ardent Motors Corporation


#21

Ardent Manhattan Mk.2

1965 - 1972


1965 Ardent Manhattan L in Pure White

Further development of the A7 platform continued almost immediately after the release of the first Manhattan models. The Ardent-Townsend merger had put both companies behind the game in the upscale markets. Warren Cole was set loose to head up the project. At hand was significant upgrading of interior packaging, as well as updated styling.

The chassis was actually developed in tandem with the Chesapeake, taking the existing pan and platform, and giving it more strength. This increased weight, but for the luxury-oriented model, that was of little concern.

Power was still provided by a 333 cubic inch Toledo Iron Eight, but the old 2 barrel carb was replaced with a 4 barrel version. Power was up to 206 horses in this iteration. Sufficient, but by no means scorching. Ardent’s A32B ShiftGuard 3-speed automatic was standard on all Manhattan models, as well as the derivative Townsend Toulouse.

The level of creature comforts increased over the previous iteration. Power windows were now standard on all trims, and power output for the radio increased to 25 watts. A new intermittent windshield wiper system was installed for the first time. Under-carpet sound deadening was thickened slightly as well. Premium cloth-faced seats came with the L trim, with the S trim continuing on with full leather.


1965 Ardent Manhattan S in Navy Blue with Glacier Ice roof

Trim pricing in 1965:
Manhattan L, MSRP $3699
Manhattan S, MSRP $4259

Notable options:
Air Conditioning ($50, Standard on S)
Metallic paint ($35)
Two-tone paint ($40, S only)

Available colors:
Pure White
Ink Black
Flame Red
Lemon Creme
Caribbean Blue
Dark Sandstone
Dusk Rose
Navy Blue
Pewter Silver
Copper Cream Metallic (Premium)
Aquamarine Metallic (Premium)
Fuschia Metallic (Premium)
Glacier Ice (Premium)
Cobalt Metallic (Premium)
Champagne Metallic (Premium)


Townsend Coachworks
#22

Ardent Marathon

1967 - 1974


1967 Ardent Marathon L in Sunshine Yellow

The first car that was commissioned by Ardent CEO Charles Bergman was not a revamp or redesign of any existing model, but rather a whole new beast. Trends from other companies toward powerful, sporty V8 models was apparent, and he wanted to get into the action as quickly as he could.

Stanton Glass headed the design effort of the Marathon. At his side was his new protege, Steve Richards. Design was made with simplicity in mind, but also with flexibility of drivetrains.

The entry-level L model utilized a 120-horsepower 203 cubic inch Orion straight six, mated to a 3-speed manual. Stepping up to the S granted an extra cog in the box, and a 294 Taurus V8 good for 167 horses. Next up on the scale was the GT, which added a body-colored aero kit and 329 4-barrel V8 putting out 231 ponies. At the top of the food chain was the Super T/A, with a tuned 329 Taurus with 260 horsepower, and blackout trim (Except black Super T/A’s, which were color inverted).


1968 Marathon GT in Champagne Metallic

Interior kit included a single-speaker AM radio, full carpeting, and fold-forward seats in both front positions, allowing easy access to the rear from either side. Four seats were standard on all trims, along with power steering.


Rear fascia of Marathon Super T/A

This design allowed Ardent to give muscle flash to a wide variety of budgets, with excellent performance on the top models.


1967 Ardent Marathon Super T/A in Marine Blue Metallic

Trim pricing in 1967:
L, MSRP $2179
S, MSRP $2399
GT, MSRP $2669
Super T/A, MSRP $2949

Notable options:
Automatic Transmission - $120
Metallic Paint - $70 (Not available on L)
Limited Slip Differential (GT and Super T/A only) - $200

Available colors:
Pure White
Ink Black
Sunshine Yellow
Cherry Red
Valencia Gold
Pewter Silver
Dark Sandstone
Dusk Rose
Lagoon Blue
Aquamarine Metallic (Premium)
Copper Cream Metallic (Premium)
Fuschia Metallic (Premium)
Marine Blue Metallic (Premium)
Champagne Metallic (Premium)
Avocado Metallic (Premium)
Shock Green Metallic (Premium)


1969 Marathon Super T/A in Shock Green Metallic. Courtesy of Ardent Motors Historical Society, and on display at Ardent Motors Museum.

(Thanks to @HighOctaneLove for the extra color combo)


#23

Ardent Huron

1959 - 1964


1959 Ardent Huron Carrier in Lemon Creme

While the Ardent A1 series was holding up well as a workhorse machine, Jack Chancellor sought ways to capture a broader market of utility buyers. Eugene Morrow was tasked with heading up a team to create an adaptable chassis, capable of two vastly different body styles. The result was the Huron.

Available in a “coupe utility” style truck with a (barely) one-ton rating and a traditional station wagon, the Huron was exactly the kind of vehicle that Chancellor was looking for.

At launch, the Huron was only available with the 286 Vela straight-six, borrowed from its larger A1 cousin. Trims in '59 were the Carrier (the name for the coupe Utility) and L wagon. In 1961, a second wagon trim would be added, the “S”.

Standard features included a 4-speed manual transmission, AM radio, and vinyl bench seating. The S trim received additional pillowing in the upholstery and an upgraded ClearWave AM radio, an automatic transmission (which was optional on other trims), and a 333 cubic inch V8 (optional on the carrier starting in '61).

Ultimately, the Carrier coupe utility did not sell as well as hoped, and was discontinued after the 1963 model years, along with its Townsend twin. Both the L and S wagon continued on into 1964, though the former ended production only three months into the model year cycle.


1961 Ardent Huron L in Sandstone

Trim pricing:
1959 Huron Carrier, MSRP $1949
1959 Huron L, MSRP $1989
1961 Huron Carrier, MSRP $2019
1961 Huron L, MSRP $2069
1961 Huron S, MSRP $2399

Notable options in 1961:
Air Conditioning - $100
Automatic Transmission (Carrier, L) - $100
333cid V8 engine (Carrier only) - $85
Power Windows (S only) - $40
Metallilc Paint - $50

Available Colors:
Lagoon Blue
Caribbean Blue
Sunshine Yellow
Copper Cream
Pure White
Ink Black
Cherry Red
Navy Blue
Sandstone
Lemon Creme
Marigold
Aquamarine Metallic (premium)
Marine Blue Metallic (premium)
Toreador Red Metallic (premium)


#24

Ardent Marathon Mk.2 (Vizcaya Mk.1)

1975 - 1981


Cover of the 1975 Marathon sales brochure. Marathon DL in Fir Green Clearcoat shown.

The original muscle car Marathon died an unceremoneous death almost immediately after the 1973 Oil Crisis. A new generation, based on the size and power of the original, was scrapped from the drawing board in early 1974 by CEO Charles Bergman. Instead, a project named “Vx”, originally designed exclusively for Europe (and other select markets), was quickly adapted to use in the home market. This model was headed up by Steve Richards, with oversight by Stanton Glass.

The resultant 2nd generation Marathon was a small sports coupe, a shadow of its former glory. The European version kept its originally intended name of “Vizcaya”.

At first, prospective Marathon buyers were elated at the lower model pricing. For enthusiasts of the original Marathon, however, having nothing larger than a 247 cubic inch V6 was a disappointment, even if the diminutive platform was able to use it reasonably well.

Marathon and Vizcaya were available in three trims: base DL, mid-range GL, and top-notch GT V6. However, standard equipment differed somewhat between the two nameplates.

Marathon and Vizcaya DL both came equipped with a standard 4-speed manual transmission, steel wheels with center caps, cloth-faced vinyl seating, wall-to-wall carpeting, and an AM radio. However, the Vizcaya’s wheels were 15" as opposed to the 14" on the Marathon. Also, the Vizcaya used the 2.0 liter Aurora from the European Sentinel, whereas the Marathon utilized the new Cygnus Type 2 122 cubic inch, putting out a modest 70 horsepower thanks to newly mandated emissions equipment. The Marathon DL lacked the “power bulge” in the hood that all other M/V models had.


Magazine advertisement from Sweden. Vizcaya GT V6 shown in Cobalt Metallic. (Thanks @Knugcab)

The GL models both gained power steering, and the Vizcaya also gained alloy wheels. Marathon’s steel wheels were up to 15".

Where the models really split was at the GT V6 level. Vizcaya got a 3.6 liter “World” version of the Eridani V6, which still utilized leaded fuel. However, the Marathon got a bigger 4.0 liter Eridani, refitted for unleaded and Federal emissions. Vizcaya GT received FM and 8-track functions on the radio; Marathon went a step further with 4 speakers and fader control. Also, Marathon at this level received alloy wheels, and power windows, and was the only model to receive premium Corduroy fabric seating.

Whereas all Vizcayas had both a driver and passenger mirror, only Marathon GT received both.

First generation Marathon buyers would not have to wait long for the return of a performance model; in 1976, Ardent released a stretch-wheelbase version of the Marathon Mk.2, which would once again see V8 power.


Page 2 of the 1975 Marathon brochure. Model shown is a Marathon GT V6 in Plum Metallic.

USDM Trim pricing in 1975:
Marathon DL, MSRP $2379
Marathon GL, MSRP $2949
Marathon GT V6, MSRP $3999

Notable options:
Automatic transmission (GL, GT V6, USDM DL) - $190
Air Conditioning (GL, GT V6) - $150
Metallic paint - $80
Power Windows (GL only) - $75
Sport gauge pack (GL, GT V6) - $45

Available colors:
Pure White
Ink Black
Flame Red Clearcoat
Sunshine Yellow Clearcoat
Fir Green Clearcoat
Dark Sandstone Clearcoat
Pewter Silver
Valencia Gold
Milk Chocolate Metallic
Copper Cream Metallic
Aquamarine Metallic
Champagne Metallic
Plum Metallic
Exquisite Mint Metallic


#25

Ardent Piper (Cantabria)

1975 - 1979


1976 Ardent Piper DL in Spanish Olive

The year after the Sentinel Mk.2 debuted, Ardent rolled out an even smaller entry model. Primarily designed for Europe, South America, and Southeast Asia, a North American version was produced as well. In Ardent’s home markets, it was called the Piper. Overseas it bore the name Cantabria.

Piper/Cantabria was only available in a single body style, a 3-door hatchback, but with three trims: DL, GL, and 2.0 GT. For the first time, official Ardent literature and sales references noted a US model’s engine displacement in liters instead of cubic centimeters.


1975 Ardent Piper 2.0GT in Flame Red

This series was the first Ardent to utilize front wheel drive, and came equipped with a standard 4-speed manual transmission. A 3-speed ShiftGuard automatic was available as an option on GL and 2.0 GT trims. Other standard equipment included a padded safety dash, radial tires, an electric rear defroster, and heavy-duty rubberized floor coating.

Compared to other Ardent series, features and options were rather scant. Stepping up to the GL trim added cloth-faced vinyl seats and full carpeting. The 2.0 GT gained wider tires, a 2.0 liter engine, and longer-geared transmission. Creature features such as power windows and steering and alloy wheels were not available on any trim.

Two engines were available for the Piper. A 56 horsepower 1.6 liter 4-cylinder powered the lower trims, with a 70 horsepower 2.0 liter Cygnus being under the hood of the 2.0 GT. Aurora series motors provided motivation for the Cantabria, with the 1.6 clocking in at 73 horsepower, and the dual-sidedraft 2.0 liter putting out a healthy 105 horses.


1975 Ardent Cantabria GL in Marigold

USDM trim pricing in 1975:
Piper DL, MSRP $1929
Piper GL, MSRP $2049
Piper 2.0 GT, MSRP $2199

Notable options:
Automatic Transmission (GL, 2.0 GT) - $200
Metallic paint (2.0 GT only) - $65

Available colors:
Pure White
Ink Black
Flame Red
Spanish Olive
Marigold
Sunshine Yellow
Caribbean Blue
Pewter Silver
Shock Green Metallic (premium)
Aquamarine Metallic (premium)
Toreador Red Metallic (premium)
Milk Chocolate Metallic (premium)


#26

Ardent Manhattan Mk.3

1975 - 1982


1975 Ardent Manhattan DL in Avocado Metallic

The last of the Ardents to get a complete reworking in '75 was the Manhattan. As before, Townsend got an upscale version called the Toulouse. But now all cars on the platform shared one common motor. The Toulouse eschewed its previous V12 version in exchange for a 333 cubic inch Toledo V8.

The old “Triple Three” was reworked, and now utilized a fuel injection system and unleaded fuel. It put out 185 horsepower, and boasted a 15% economy increase over the previous carbureted model. This “333 MechJect” would be exclusive to the Manhattans for this single sales year, with a new premium model just on the horizon that would end up with it as well. Starting in 1978, the base-trim DL would be downgraded to a 289 MechJect, with the 333 as an option.

Appointments were, as expected, quite good, even in base trim. The DL received standard power windows, power steering, automatic transmission, air conditioning, AM/FM with 8-track, and full cloth velour seating surfaces. Stepping up to the GL, a buyer would get a power sunroof, power seats, power side mirrors, leather seating surfaces, and a 40 watt, 4-speaker stereo system.

Manhattan enjoyed a brief sales bump initially after the redesign, but sales steadily declined through the late 70’s. High fuel prices, stagnant wages, and operating costs all contributed to lackluster sales performance.


1975 Ardent Manhattan GL in Pure White

Trim pricing in 1975:
Manhattan DL, MSRP $6399
Manhattan GL, MSRP $8299

Notable options:
Metallic Paint - $100
Power Side Mirrors (DL only) - $65
Wheel Trim Paint - $50

Available Colors (All non-metallics are Clearcoats):
Pure White
Ink Black
Dark Sandstone
Pewter Silver
Navy Blue
Avocado Green Metallic
Toreador Red Metallic
Copper Cream Metallic
Champagne Metallic
Glacier Ice Metallic


#27

Ardent Smoke

1976 - 1983


Magazine advertisement for the 1976 Smoke GT. Shown in Shock Green Metallic.

The design for the Ardent Smoke started out as a “little brother” to what would have been the second generation Marathon, had Stanton Glass been able to bring it to fruition. As it ended up playing out, Smoke ended up doing a lateral step and combining somewhat with the luxury Manhattan model, while still retaining its smaller chassis. The result was Ardent’s first true Grand Touring model.

Powered by a 289 MechJect in GL trim or 333 MechJect in top GT trim, Smoke offered big V8 power in a relatively compact coupe body. The wheels were turned by a standard 5-speed manual transmission, with a 3-speed ShiftGuard automatic optional on both trims.

The “entry” level GL was nicely appointed, with full cloth high-back buckets with sport bolsters and lumbar support, power windows, power steering, and an AM/FM with 8 track standard. The GT received full leather seating with a power driver’s seat and mirrors, a 4-speaker premium stereo, air conditioning, and Rally Gauge instrument cluster.

Though not blistering, performance was good across the board. The 289 automatic GL could get up to 60 in 10 seconds, with the 333 GT manual able to do the same feat in 8.5, despite its extra weight.


1976 Ardent Smoke GL in Florida Orange with wheel accent paint

Trim pricing in 1976:
Smoke GL, MSRP $6349
Smoke GT, MSRP $8199

Notable options:
Automatic Transmission - $220
Air Conditioning (GL only) - $250
Rally Gauge Pack (GL only) - $195
Wheel Trim Paint - $70
Metallic Paint - $140
Power Sunroof - $375

Available colors:
Pure White
Ink Black
Florida Orange
Lagoon Blue
Flame Red
Pewter Silver
Sunshine Yellow
Shock Green Metallic
Marine Blue Metallic
Exquisite Mint Metallic
Toreador Red Metallic
Plum Metallic


#28

Ardent Sentinel Mk.3

1979 - 1990


1979 Sentinel advertisement. Model shown in Copper Cream.

Almost immediately after the launch of the Mark 2 Sentinel, Ardent CEO Charles Bergman ordered a complete redesign. While it was a decent base model, it fell short of Bergman’s design and sales expectations at the time. Much of the blame lay in the Sentinel’s archaic design. Bergman realized, albeit too late, that a thoroughly modern model was going to be the key to is company’s success.

With the retirement of Charles Bergman in early 1978, the third iteration of the Sentinel became the first model under new CEO Matthew Seldon’s watch.

The new Sentinel lacked, for the most part, the performance punch that was a hallmark of earlier generations. The standard 2.0 liter engine put out 76 horsepower, which was functional for motivation, but not much else. A single trim in the home markets had a V6 option, the 3.6 GL. At 127 horses and with 172 ft-lbs of torque, this single trim had some punch to it, even though it was nearly exclusively mated to an automatic transmission (With the exception of the 1988 model year. See below). This also marked the switch of the Sentinel platform to front-wheel drive.


1979 Sentinel 3.6 GL sedan in Toreador Red Metallic

The Sentinel was available in three body styles: a 5-door wagon, 3 door hatchback, and 4-door sedan. Each style was available in three trims: Sport, DL, and GL. The Sport model was designed to compete fiercely in the entry level compact segment, in which there was explosive growth. The two higher trims were upsells, with the fully loaded 3.6 GL aimed at sporty imports.

Sport trim appointments included full vinyl seating surfaces, wall to wall carpeting, an AM radio, and an in-dash clock. Upgrades in the DL included a tachometer, cloth-faced vinyl seating, and a 2-speaker AM/FM radio. The final step up to the GL added full-cloth seating, power steering, and power windows. The 3.6 GL also received alloy wheels and an automatic transmission, the latter of which was optional on all other trims.


The Sentinel Sport Hatchback was Ardent’s price leader at the time of launch, and sold quite strongly. This 1979 is shown in Sunshine Yellow.

For the Export market, all models were powered by an Aurora 2.0 liter single-cam engine. Alloy wheels were standard on the GL, but otherwise equipment was identical to their equivalent North American models.

Seldon set an aggressive marketing and sales campaign on the Sentinel, and it ended up being one of Ardent’s major anchors during the tumultuous 80’s.


1979 Ardent Sentinel DL wagon in Dark Sandstone

A mild redesign occurred in 1986, changing a few exterior details and bringing the interior up to more modern standards. Toward the latter half of the decade, a single-year special edition would be released. The 1988 “Silver Sentinel” commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Sentinel model. This special package hearkened back to the original GT model, and was available in all 3 body styles, based on the GL trim. All Silver Sentinels were of a metallic color, except for two high-impact clearcoats (Sunshine Yellow and Florida Orange), and had wheel trim paint matching their body color. Each was powered by a brand new 3.2 liter Eridani Type 2 V6, and were equipped with an exclusive Antilock Braking System. This new twin-cam motor put out 169 horses, and could be mated to either a manual or automatic transmission. The 3.2 liter was only available on the Silver Sentinel package in '88, but replaced the aging 3.6 liter V6 as the optional GL engine for the final two years of this generation’s production run. ABS also became optional on the GL in '89 as a carryover from the anniversary model.


1988 Ardent Silver Sentinel in Florida Orange

Trim pricing in 1979:
Sport Hatchback, MSRP $2849
Sport Sedan or Wagon, MSRP $2899
DL Hatchback, MSRP $2999
DL Sedan or Wagon, MSRP $3049
GL Hatchback, MSRP $3599
GL Sedan or Wagon, MSRP $3649
3.6 GL (all bodies), MSRP $4199

Notable options:
Automatic transmission (exc. 3.6 GL) - $270
Power steering (DL only) - $175
Air conditioning (not avail. Sport) - $250
Alloy wheels (USDM 2.0 GL only) - $150
Sport graphics package - $90
Metallic paint (DL or GL only) - $190
Silver Sentinel package (1988 GL only) - $650
Antilock Brakes (1989+ GL only) - $300

Available colors:
Pure White
Ink Black (Except Sport)
Cherry Red (Except Wagon)
Copper Cream (1979-1982)
Sunshine Yellow (Sport, Silver Sentinel only)
Florida Orange (1983+ Sport, Silver Sentinel only)
Pewter Silver (Except Sport)
Dark Sandstone (1979-1984, Except Sport and Hatchback)
Fir Green (1979-1983, Excl. Sedan)
Gulf Blue Metallic
Toreador Red Metallic
Shock Green Metallic (Except Wagon)
Glacier Ice Metallic (Except Hatchback)
Milk Chocolate Metallic (1979-1983, Excl. Sedan)
Avocado Metallic (1979-1983)
Fir Green Metallic (1984+)


#29

Ardent Chancellor

1975 - 1982


1975 Ardent Chancellor DL in Deep Maroon Metallic

Released in mid-1974 as an early '75 model, the Chancellor was originally designed as the second generation Chesapeake. It received its name halfway through development, in honor of the late Ardent CEO.

It was moderately downsized from the original version, which increased affordability. Like its predecessor, there was a base model put out for the masses in hopes of driving not only sales to the middle class, but potential trim upgrades once customers stepped foot on the sales floor. Unlike the outgoing model, there was neither a coupe body nor a performance version.


1975 Ardent Chancellor GL, equipped with a 294 V8, shown in Century Silver

Motivation for the base trim DL model came from a 247 cubic inch Eridani V6, mated to a 5-speed manual transmission. Available drivetrain options included a 3-speed ShiftGuard automatic and a 294 cubic inch Taurus V8, the latter of which was not available with a manual. Other standard features for the model included veloured cloth seating surfaces, AM/FM radio with an 8-track player, power steering, child safety locks, and in-dash clock.

The upscale GL received the 294 V8 standard, with a 329 V8 as an option. Both came mated to an automatic transmission. Upgraded features included alloy wheels, leatherette upholstery, power windows, air conditioning, and a 4-speaker stereo. Both models had a handful of options available.

Chancellors sold well, given the market conditions, but the first generation never quite had the image or allure of the Chesapeake. Nevertheless, Ardent would overhaul the model after the 1982 sales campaign.

Trim pricing in 1975:
DL, MSRP $4029
GL, MSRP $5049

Notable options:
Automatic (DL V6 only) - $100
294 V8 and Automatic (DL only) - $250
329 V8 (GL only) - $180
Air Conditioning (DL only) - $125
Power sunroof - $160
Metallic Paint - $80
Alloy Wheels (DL only) - $75
AM/FM/8-track with CB (GL only) - $120
Rally gauge pack (requires V8) - $70

Available colors:
Pure White
Ink Black
Century Silver
Navy Blue
Dusk Rose
Fir Green
Champagne Metallic
Marine Blue Metallic
Deep Maroon Metallic
Milk Chocolate Metallic