The No Mass Production flag is an absolute and not negotiable. As it is, you can still make some pretty exotic stuff within the existing rules.
Edit: I’ve already had to reject at least one entry due to this.
The No Mass Production flag is an absolute and not negotiable. As it is, you can still make some pretty exotic stuff within the existing rules.
Edit: I’ve already had to reject at least one entry due to this.
In 1960 Franklin Automotive decided to convert one of their vans into a touring camper van. The vehicle was named the Passenger and here is the most popular model of the series, the 1600E. A cheaper option was available but the 1600E was the most popular. They also brought out a more expensive model but this didn’t sell too well and most were converted back to the 1600E.
In today’s blog, we’re going to touch on something of an “instant classic.” One of those cars that was so well-received and loved that, despite being a newer model, we know is going to be a collectible. If not already designated as such.
Rennen’s 3rd generation Angeles first showed up on showroom floors in 1977, but it was the 1984 facelift that made people sit up and take notice. Especially in the boldly-styled MT-R form, available only as a sedan.
Believe it or not, there was a time when Corduroy was a popular thing. So when you look inside and see brightly contrasting red-and-white heavy-duty Corduroy seating, don’t be alarmed. This was considered high class, just short of full leather. Rennen also incorporated standard air conditioning on the upper-trim models, and the MT-R was one of the first cars ever to employ a driver’s air bag.
The Angeles MT-R was rather advanced for the time, further evidenced by its all-wheel drive system with limited slip diff, and a 3.4 Liter twin-cam turbo flat-six, producing 270 horsepower. Shifting was done via a 5-speed manual. This all led to a very impressive 6.2 second 0-60 time. And, thanks to big, sport-tuned all-wheel disc brakes, the MT-R could come to a stop from that same speed in just over 110 feet.
Nowadays, the Angeles MT-R shows up in a variety of environments from autocross and rallycross to white-glove auto shows. As a bonus to owners, the two major classic car insurers have recently recognized all models of the 3rd-gen Angeles as a “classic”, joining the MT-R trim, which has been on the list for a decade now.
Mainstream Culture - Retro Motorsport: High (Currently in 2nd)
Mainstream Culture - Classics: Medium (Currently in 1st)
One of the quirkier cars to come out of the early 1970’s was a French car in American clothing. Or, at least, an American badge.
Not many people will know what a Merciel 300 is, but most people of the older generations will at least have heard of the ACA 300, though probably not driven one. They’re the same thing, just with different badging and slight revisions to the bumper brackets to meet US safety standards, as well as slightly different heads to accommodate the upcoming Unleaded mandate in the States starting with the 1974 model year.
So what made it so quirky? Well, a number of things, really. Even though it existed in the 60’s, front-wheel drive was still unusual in '73. As well, the engine had two tiny carburetors; at the time, multiple carbs was only common on sports cars or high-output V8s, not little 1600cc 4-bangers. As well, a fine, leatherette interior was not expected in a small, inexpensive sedan. Yet ACA had the audacity to provide one.
So it’s hard to tell what exactly the aim was. The 300’s good fuel economy was a boon, given the timing of the Oil Crisis. Yet ACA didn’t import nearly enough of them over their 4-year production run to make a big impact.
The classic car community has, by and large, thumbed their noses as the little pseudo-luxury car. But that doesn’t stop owners from crashing cruise-ins or organizing their own mini-meets. They may be small in number, but they are also fierce in their loyalty to their cars.
Counter Culture - Classics: Medium (Currently in 2nd)
PS… sorry about the screen cap, must have been post-update armageddon.
Even by the standards of 1958, Epoch cars were considered extremely stodgy and outdated. Most of them were still using pre-depression technology of at least some sort.
In 1958, Epoch changed all of that, with their first “modern” design. With a new engine and fresh design and suspension techniques, the M10 was aimed that reversing the company’s fortunes and making them a mainstream contender.
Tens of thousands were built and sold, so the argument is that it worked. Automotive historians will argue until they pass out as to whether that was due to a quantum leap in design, or due to the low price of the M10 model. All we know is that they were popular enough then to create a glut of lovely, used examples decades later.
The M10 was built in 3 trims, using 2 engines. The two “base” models were the A1300 and A1300 Trayback, both utilizing the 43 horsepower 1300 (imagine that) engine. On the top end, you had a “sporty” A1500, which utilized a larger motor with a hotter tune, putting out 67 ponies. The A1500 also had an extra cog in the gearbox, further improving its performance.
A1300 models were pretty spartan inside, having two or four thinly padded vinyl seats, a couple of window cranks, and a basic heater. And really nothing else. A1500’s got a little more padding, and an AM radio.
Now, the sands of time have blown across the model line, and each one has had a distinct destiny. A1300 sedans have been left to rot and become parts cars, mostly for Traybacks. The A1500 sedans are sought after for those looking for a little peppy car with a classic chic look to take autocrossing, or sometimes even to classic club racing days. As for the A1300 Traybacks? Well, their story is even more unique.
Most of them are in Cuba, Haiti, or the Dominican Republic now. It seems that after they lost value and started being put out to pasture in the States around the early 70’s, intrepid individuals started gathering them up and shipping them to the two countries on Hispaniola, where they then got put to work hauling everything from sugar cane to building materials. And, since the US won’t allow direct export of vehicles to Cuba, other “enterprising” individuals started selling and exporting them to Cuban nationals. US authorities didn’t try to track down people violating the export chain with any vigor. After all, these cars were undesirables rotting in fields, so what could the commies in Cuba possibly want them for?
It is getting harder to find A1500’s, and the Traybacks are simply as rare as hens’ teeth at this point, thanks to decades of opportunistic scavengers. Still, a very interesting model in automotive history.
Counter Culture - Motorsport: High (A1500)(Currently in 1st)
Counter Culture - Import/Export: High (A1300 Trayback)(Currently in 1st)
How can the ACA 300 be #2 in the “Counter culture-classics” category while the Vagant is #1, yet the ACA scored high and the Vagant medium?
In 1984, Triton released the Lexion, a small, affordable family car for the British public. The 2.4m wheelbase made it very nimble and agile and became an instant hit with young drivers wanting some fun in their car. The Lexion was offered as both a coupe and saloon, in both FWD and RWD configurations
In 1986, Triton released a sportier version: the T-RS Turbo. Under the bonnet, it featured a 1.9L twin-turbo Boxer 4, producing 190hp, more than enough for a small car like the Lexion. The T-RS Turbo was the only trim to feature an AWD system as its one, and only, drivetrain option, with a 45/55 fixed torque split (Front/Rear). It was also only offered with a 5-speed manual gearbox. Triton purposefully tailored it to the little hoonigans and automotive purists in everyone. As with the rest of the Lexion lineup, the T-RS Turbo was offered in both coupe and saloon variants.
The T-RS Turbo was now the hottest trim in the Lexion lineup. It was also the most sought after, being snatched up quickly from all the dealers, mainly by young teens who had just acquired their licence. All the young automotive enthusiasts loved it for it’s small wheelbase and agile handling, powerful Boxer engine, simplistic manual gearbox, and grippy AWD system. The same year the T-RS Turbo was released, Triton equipped one for rallying. This was using the coupe version. To tie-in to this, Triton made an option for a pair of rally lights to be fitted to the front bumper, mimicking the spot-light setup on the rally car.
For many years after its release, the Lexion proved its own in the rallying scene, with the works-backed one acquiring various wins and podium finishes, until Triton stopped production of this first generation of Lexion in 1989. Since then, the Lexion T-RS Turbo has become very sought after, with pristine examples selling for over £10,000 at auction, sometimes over £20,000. The coupe has become a very rare sight, with Triton having produced less of the coupes than the saloons. Few examples are still left on the roads, with most having been imported to the US by collectors seeking little gems like the T-RS Turbo.
To this day, the Lexion T-RS Turbo can be found participating in historic rally events with great success, often beating Mk2 Escorts that would usually dominate, due to its superior AWD drivetrain, while excited youngsters look on in awe, wishing they could own one of these lovely little sports cars someday.
The Martlet, in many revisions over the years, was the quintessential model of Rutherford Motors: a driver’s car, prioritizing weight and handling above all else. While the 1979 model was all new, refreshing aging visuals and introducing a new turbocharged, fuel-injected engine, itkept to the model’s reputation: a short wheelbase and fiberglass paneling kept weight below 900kg, while over 200hp from the top-end trim’s I6 engine provided surprising performance.
Quite possibly a typo caused by improperly cut/pasting my review template. I’ll look back and fix it in a bit.
Edit: Fixed two typos, including the one mentioned above. They were both incorrect copy/pastes. My bad. Doesn’t change any of the positions listed in the OP, though.
Up next in our series of “quirky as hell” is the 1960 Franklin Passenger 1600E.
Marketed in the early 1960’s as a camper van, the Passenger 1600E was an oddly packaged vehicle. A single-cam 1600cc four cylinder motivated the 1600E, via a 3-speed manual transmission. The front bench seat was made of fine houndstooth vinyl with extra padding, but Franklin then proceeded to build a pair of pop-up, rear-facing jumpseats behind the first row, expanding the seating arrangement to five. Given the short wheelbase and overall lenght of the van, this was a curious choice.
Many 1600E owners ended up removing the jump seats and using the cavity below as under-floor storage for their camping gear or emergency supplies, extending their cargo space by just a hair.
As this was a niche market van, not many were sold to begin with. However, those that are left generally have ended up in the hands of dedicated restorers and campers. In 1997, the Franklin Passenger Owners Club held its first annual club campout, a tradition that has been held every year since, with each year’s event being held in a different state.
Counter Culture - Spiritual Classics: High (Currently in 1st)
By the late 60’s, Muscle Car Fever was in full swing. Every manufacturer had to get their own on the market, or risk losing out on a large number of potential customers.
If a manufacturer threw a huge engine into a big rear-drive body and showed that it could do donuts, chances are its name was known. Unfortunately for Jaffil, their Hercules was known as a poor performer.
Sure, it could spit out smoke with the best of them in a burnout, but that was really the only bright spot about its performance when compared to the competition. Its 5.8 liter Zeus V8 put out a respectable 283 horsepower, but major design flaws assured that the car’s nickname ended up being “Achilles”.
The worst of it was an transmission with an incredibly short final drive ratio, at 4.63:1. While this allowed a nice, quick 7.3 second 0-60 and a sub-16 second quarter mile, it also made the Hercules top out at a mere 108 MPH. Even a base 289-powered Ardent Chesapeake could eventually outrun a Hercules (at a fraction of the cost), and a comparably priced Ardent Marathon Super T/A had only slightly slower drag numbers (7.6 seconds and 15.66 seconds, respectively), while enjoying a 21 mile per hour top speed advantage, better reliability, and significantly better control. An aftermarket 4.10:1 rear end was eventually made available for the Hercules via aftermarket companies, which improved the top speed to 122 without affecting 0-60 at all, but by then it was too late; the Hercules couldn’t hang with the big boys.
But hey, at least drivers could enjoy sweet, kicking tunes as they were getting their asses kicked everywhere but the drag strip, which is about the only place you can still find any.
Mainstream Culture - Muscle: Low (Currently in 3rd)
Captive imports were a fact of life in the immediate aftermath of the Oil Crisis. As most American companies didn’t have ready-made subcompacts, smaller cars were imported and sold, with varying degrees of success, under American partner names.
Bogliq didn’t have to rename vehicles they brought over from their Japanese subsidiary, of course, existing under the same name on just about every continent.
In the early 80’s, Bogliq of America tried their hand at the captive import game, pitting their Celestial up against their own Coyote sports coupes. Celestials were cheaper, with small 2 liter motors, but reasonably sporty performance. It was hoped that these would gain a foothold and attract younger buyers to the brand.
It worked for Bogliq to an extent. While there were growing pains around the idea of competing Bogliqs on the same turf, the Celestial found enough of a market to warrant importation for a few years. This came at the expense of sales from the Coyote, however. But continued economic struggles and concerns over fuel economy led Bogliq to rethink their strategy in 1985.
The Celestial 2000LT was a neat enough car. It sported cloth-faced vinyl seats, with buckets up front and a folding rear seat with 2 belts. Its 2 liter motor put out a healthy 96 horses, allowing the economical little coupe to power up to 60 in 11 seconds. Fuel economy fell short of the expectations of the era, at a mere 20 MPG highway. This was topped by nemesis Ardent and their Piper, which had the same level of performance but managed 33% better economy. Buyers torn between the two would often have to choose between the thrift of the Ardent and the comfort of the Bogliq.
Speaking of the rivalry between the two, an interesting play has come to pass over the past decade. So-called “brand anarchist” gearheads have started taking Ardent engines and throwing them in old Bogliqs, and vice versa, then creating their own race challenges of all sorts. We have to admit, though. Watching old brand purists of both companies turn purple and vibrate out of sheer hatred and disgust is something absolutely hilarious to see.
Don’t believe us? Check out this video taken at a cruise-in two months ago where some old guy goes off on a kid for putting a 1S-34Mi Shrike from a fourth-gen Chancellor into an '83 Celestial. The kid’s shit-eating grin, and the subsequent burnout are absolutely epic.
It’s also noteworthy that, now nearly 40 years later, the market for these old captive imports as show cars is finally starting to take off. It’s pretty small, now. But once the supply of old 70’s barges is completely dried up, we expect these to truly explode in popularity.
Mainstream Culture - Classics: Low (Currently in 3rd)
Counter Culture - Motorsport High (Currently in 2nd)
In 1975, the Comet was born. It was a project of an affordable turbocharged mid-engined compact sports car. They wanted to introduce turbos to the masses. But because of the oil crisis, not many people bought these until 1981 when the Turbo 2 came out. But that’s for a different story… The Comets are recognizable by its rear wing.
A parked TSR Comet Turbo in Japan.
Killer B’s. No, not the insects from Africa. We’re talking FIA rally cars. Light, super powerful, and dangerous as hell to drive. Professional drivers have died trying to wrangle them around the blur of the courses.
And then you’ve got some rich schmucks who bought the homologation version. Required to be produced in a minimum quantity to allow competition, these cars weren’t quite as wild as their race-ready brethren. But an arrogant and outmatched driver would be a nightmare to himself and others on the road.
That’s part of why you just don’t see Satalite Mk3 X4RS’s anymore. With the other part being “they all crumbled away to dust long ago”.
Not quite all of them. Our senior editor was making a tour of high profile car shows in California this summer, and came across this blinding green beauty. An unmolested survivor with only 13,000 miles on the clock, it shows a glimpse into a bygone era of motorsports, before sanctioning bodies really gave a crap about driver safety.
This homologation version of the Satalite has only 233 horsepower, in a fat (by racing standards, anyway) 2500 pound chassis. Even in this so-called sedate tune, acceleration to 60 happens in under 6 seconds, and the quarter mile in just 14.23. Of course, our editor asked if he could “test” to make sure, and was told “no” in no uncertain terms.
Damn, what a shame. But we all agree here; we would very much have loved to see the real deal in action, back in the day. Even if it meant getting a high speed dirt shower.
Mainstream Culture - Retro Motorsport: Very High (Currently in 2nd)
In today’s blog, we’re going to talk a little bit about insanity. Some define it as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. We’ll go a little different here.
Insane is a 4-liter, non-turbo straight-six that churns out over 300 horsepower. In 1987. And that’s in the TAME version.
We’re talking the Lagau APC, a fiberglass-bodied purebred sports car with fire in its soul. Available in N, S, and GT trims, the Lagau set a high bar for performance, even in its lowest trim. Able to slingshot to 60 in just over 6 seconds, and staying glued with better-than-1G handling, the 6-cylinder Lagau N absolutely destroyed most of the competition, in every aspect.
Including cost of ownership, and not in a good way either. With pricing approaching $80,000 for the N trim and north of $110,000 for the GT, this was a toy only the rich could afford. But what a toy it was. And we haven’t even approached the GT yet.
That GT version boasted a 6.5 liter V12 and all-wheel drive. While power was only marginally increased over the N version’s six, the GT’s tune improved low- and mid-range power. And while the N version had a very spartan interior, with sport seats and harnesses, the GT had all the luxury trappings expected of a larger grand tourer. Despite nearly 600 pounds of added weight from all of this, the overall effect was that the GT was even faster to 60, at 4.8 seconds.
You can see them come up at Jarret-Backson auction every now and then, commanding very high prices. But a number of owners, particularly of the GT version, regularly drive their cars. After all, not everyone appreciates a driveway ornament.
Mainstream Culture - Rods and Sports Cars: Very High (Currently in 2nd)
(OOC question: even if I had my car reviewed already and I can’t submit a new one until Thursday, can I post it here?)
Please don’t until you’re submission eligible, to keep down the clutter I go through when writing the reviews.
OK, going back and reviewing some things, I think I’ve let two entrants get away with a little bit of “murder” here. Certain body materials are No Mass Production in the early years, but only Limited Production in later years. I’ve actually rejected a couple cars for using the same materials, but in earlier years where they are considered No Mass Production.
I am considering my options here, but from here on out, I will NOT accept any full aluminum or fiberglass bodies. I am also going to update the original post to more clearly identify selections that are not allowed.
In the interest of fairness, rather than invalidating their entries, I am considering reducing their score from “Very High” to “High”. That will not affect their current positions, but will make them easier to “catch” in the future.
First off… I have officially dropped the scores of the Lagau and the Pfeil-Hunsrueck to “High” because of the body parts adjustment mentioned above. And after these next two posts, I’m all caught up! HOORAY! (no, you can’t submit your week 2 cars until I change the thread topic to say week 2… )
You may recall our recent article on a certain FIA Group B homologation car, and the insanity of the package that one could get if they were lucky enough to snatch one of them back in the day.
Today we’re back with another rally-inspired homologation car, this time a Group N contender. As sucb, the manufacturer had to be a lot less stingy about limiting production… We’re talking about the triton Lexion T-RS Turbo.
The Lexion T-RS, in 1986, went head-to-head against other rally giants of the era, creating an unforgettable season that year. But when you put these two homologation cars side by side, you can see how different they truly are at a basic level.
Most notably, the Lexion has significantly less power in this iteration, at only 191. This, along with the slightly different drivetrain setups, meant that Lexion was almost 2 seconds slower to 60, and topped out 10 miles per hour earlier. The Lexion’s interior was also not up to the same level of sophistication or detail as LHE’s.
Yet there are a couple major, key differences that swing in Triton’s favor. First of all, the Lexion stays absolutely glued to the road surface, pulling in well over one-g in the slalom. Second, and most importantly, is that Triton galvanized the chassis on the Lexion. Between that and higher production numbers, one can actually find a Lexion T-RS to restore and drive. Just make sure you have deep pockets, as this model is not exactly a paragon of reliability.
After our editor’s disappointment with not being able to secure a test drive in the LHE Satalite X4RS, he was determined to at least sate his apetite for dirt and speed. Thankfully, he was able to find a Lexion owner who was much more open to the thought of having his car tested by a publication.
We haven’t been able to get any details from him afterward as to how it went. His face seems to just be stuck with a grin on it. It’s been weeks. Someone please send help.
Mainstream Culture - Retro Motorsport: High (Currently in 3rd)
Alright, readers. Are you ready for a head-to-head beat down? We certainly are!
The late 70’s was a crazy time, to be sure. The muscle car was essentially dead, but performance lived on in a new generation of (generally) smaller, lighter sports cars. Suddenly, overhead cam configurations in the States were no longer just for “weird little foreign cars”. So when a glut of nimble, powerful cars was introduced across the globe, it was game on.
We managed too get our hands on a pair of rather high-profile sports cars, often found at the track doing any discipline their owners can find time for. The first is a 1978 AM Talon 2T (sadly never directly sold in the US, this one is an import from Britain), the other a 1979 Rutherford Martlet T.
At first glance, the two look worlds apart. The Talon is sleek and sculpted, with a design that flows from one end to the other. Next to it, the Martlet looks rather plain jane, with only side pillar scoops to break up the monotony on either side. Point for AM on this one.
Inside, both cars are very similar. Both are two-seaters, with cloth-faced vinyl seating, full carpeting, small storage cubbies in the shelf behind the seats, and AM/FM/8-track radios. The Martlet boasts a slightly better sound system, with two speakers and an extra mechanical station preset. Also, the Martlet has just a little more legroom than the Talon, and the wheel sits a hair higher. This last bit is critical, as some of us had problems hitting our knees on the steering wheel during spirited shifting in the Talon.
Both are impressive performers. The AM Talon’s front-engine, rear drive setup is headed by a 2.2 liter turbocharged engine with a 4-barrel carb, putting out 202 horses. This is good for a 6.5 second 0-62 and 123 mph top speed. Even harder charging is the Martlet, with a 2.4 liter turbocharged, injected straight six, with output of 235 ponies. This rockets the mid-engined speedster to 60 in 4.7 seconds, with a 146 mile per hour top-out. The Martlet’s longer overall gearing makes it nicer to cruise on the freeway as well, running only 2400 RPM versus 2900 for the Talon.
Both are extremely capable handling vehicles and an utter blast to drive in the twisties.
The only other factor is cost. At this time, it’s actually a little cheaper to import a Talon than it is to find a Martlet domestically in good condition. Maintenance and repair on the Martlet is also a pain due to its mid-engine configuration.
Either case, they’re both good for tons of fun on the track, and are guaranteed to turn heads anywhere else. But for us, we give a slight overall advantage to the Rutherford Martlet T. But if you’re on a bit of a budget, or style carries more weight than pure performance, the AM Talon 2T is your cup of tea.
(AM Talon) Counter Culture - Import/Export: Very High (Currently in 1st)
(Rutherford Martlet) Mainstream Culture - Rods and Sports Cars: Very High (Currently in 1st)