Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Playing Catch Up, III - A Pink Lancia, an Audi Avant, a Maserati Biturbo

Catching up on some of the cars I've missed...

1960 Lancia Flaminia - Someone, most likely in the late 1960s, thought it would be a clever idea to paint this Flaminia pink. Pink Flaminia / Pink Flamingo... Get it? Then the drugs wore off. He realized he was driving a pink car and parked it in a barn, where it remained until recently.

That's going to be the story of this car, as the seller doesn't give us one.

Not a lot of info is given about this car. It runs. It looks like it might have left the factory with a proper Italian red paint job.

These are quite handsome cars, when not painted pink. The body was designed by Pininfarina and the car was built in the Pininfarina factory. The engine is a 2.5 liter V6. It's based on the earlier Aurelia engine, which was the world's first V6.

Lancia built some incredible, ground breaking cars. Until recently, all but a few were ignored by collectors. That has changed and restored Flaminia coupes now sell for over $30K in nice condition.

This car looks to be rough, but restorable. You'll probably wind up spending $30K to make it perfect, buy if you're a DIY person, it will be worth the money and effort when you're done.

Located in Lake Station, IN, click here to see the Craigslist ad.

1989 Audi 100 Avant - Audi introduced the C3 100 (called the 5000 in North America until 1989) in 1982. Voted European Car of the Year, it was a groundbreaking car.

It's not often that a station wagon version of a car looks sportier than the sedan, but that's the case with the 100. With it's sloped, almost fastback roof, it looked like nothing else on the road. It still looks good today.

This 100 looks to be in immaculate condition. The paint is original and it has no rust. The seller recently did the timing belt. The driver's side window is not working at the moment (a common problem on older Audis), but the seller has the part on order.

This is a FWD Audi. That's going turn off a few potential buyers. So is the price. $4500.00 is a lot of money for a 2WD Audi. But, if you don't need or care about quattro, this looks to be one of the nicest 100 Avants around. It might be worth every penny.

Located in Cleveland, OH, click here to see the Craigslist ad.

A big thanks to Jon for sending me the links to the Lancia and Audi

1987 Maserati Biturbo SI - It's been awhile since I've taken some heat for defending / desiring a Biturbo. ;-)

If you are lucky enough to be driving a new Maserati, you have the Biturbo to thank for that. As problematic as they were - and even I won't deny that they were problematic - they sold enough of them to keep the company afloat long enough for Fiat to buy it.

Say what you want about its reliability, but the Biturbo could perform. 60 MPH came in just 6.5 seconds. Pretty impressive for a mid-1980s car. The interior was as luxurious as you'd find in any car - at any price - built in the 1980s.

So what about the problems? Pre-1986 cars were the worst. Spontaneous combustion was common. The carburetor leaked gas, with predictable results. The insulation around the catalytic converter was flammable, with predictable results. The fusebox melted, with predictable results.

Eventually, Maserati switched to fuel injection, issued a recall for the catalytic converter insulation and redesigned the fusebox. Later cars, which also had an intercooler for the turbos, are actually fairly reliable. 1987 is generally considered to be the best year. All Biturbos require consistent / constant maintenance, some of which requires more time and effort than it does on other cars.

This car is a 1987 Biturbo SI. It is, in my opinion, the most desirable coupe to wear the Biturbo name. It has been well maintained. It recently had a valve job and tht timing belt done. Biturbos rust, but this one looks to be clean. I'm not crazy about the aftermarket wheels, but that's just a matter of personal taste, I guess.

Located in Suttons Bay, MI, click here to see the eBay listing.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Playing Catch Up II - An Innocenti, A Mercedes Motorhome and a Peugeot Twofer...

As I mentioned yesterday, I spent most of last week doing "spring things," as the temperature here in New England was up in the mid to high 60s. (Last night however, there were frost warnings. This truly has been the never ending winter.) I'm posting cars that were sent to me or I spotted while I was taking in the nice weather...

1985 Mini Innocenti De Tomaso Turbo - I've written about the Innocenti De Tomaso before. It's a car that I would like to own someday.

In 1961 Innocenti began building the BMC Mini under license. They did well with it. In 1971 alone Innocenti built over 52,000 Minis. British Leyland took notice and in 1972 bought the company with the idea of turning it into their Italian subsidiary. By 1975 BL was in serious financial trouble (little, if any, of that trouble was due to Innocenti) and the company was acquired by Alejandro de Tomaso.

Innocenti was still owned by British Leyland when the Bertone bodied Innocenti Mini was introduced. It was available with BL's 998cc and 1275cc A-Series engine.

In 1982, de Tomaso replaced the British engines with more modern, 3 cylinder engines from Daihatsu. In 1983, Innocenti introduced the turbocharged version.

This car looks to be in good shape. It sounds like the owner was planning to race it / autocross it. It looks like he didn't get very far, and everything is still intact.

I'm not sure how successful an Innocenti De Tomaso Turbo would be as a racer, but it's a blast to drive on the street.

Located in Coquitlam, BC, Canada, click here to see the Craigslist ad.

A big thanks to Todd for sending me this link!

1977 25' Class A Mercedes Benz Motorhome - I have always had a fantasy of taking off and spending a year seeing the country in a camper / motorhome. Being the car geek I am, no ordinary Winnebago would do, I'd want something unusual. Something like this.

According to the seller, it has recently had $12,000.00 worth of repairs and updating done to it. "The repairs/restoration include: New roof, extensive rust repair and panel replacement with aluminum, new custom windows ($800 worth), new rear panels and corners, new paint, new A/C cover, new rear lights and bumpers, new mirrors, new front brakes, new batteries, new exhaust system, new carpet, repairs to water damaged interior paneling in bdrm, many other cosmetic and mechanical items."

This would be a great, attention getting vehicle to see the country in. There is one big downside however; the 3.8 liter, 4 cylinder diesel engine. As JaCG reader Michael wrote when he sent me this link, it is going to be "terrifyingly, road rage inducing, SLOW."

Located in Riverside, CA, click here to see the ad on PeachParts Mercedes Shop Forum.

A big thanks to Michael for sending me this link!

1958 & 1959 Peugeot 403 - There isn't a lot of information about these cars, but based on the pictures and brief description you may be able to build one car out of the two.

Located in Colfax, WA, click here to see the Craigslist ad.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Festival of the Unexceptional: A Concours de l’Ordinaire

I posted this on the Just a Car Geek Facebook page. For those of you not on Facebook, I thought I should post it here, too.

Festival of the Unexceptional: A Concours de l’Ordinaire. (Click on the link.)

I think this is a brilliant idea. We need one (two, three, four...) of these in the US. We especially need one in New England. :-)

Many, many years ago, the Labor Day weekend event at Lime Rock Park was called the Vintage Fall Festival. You would see old Fiats, Volvos, Rovers, MGBs, Saabs, Renaults, Peugeots, etc. among the more high price classics. Now it's called the Lime Rock Historic Festival and it's much more upscale. I still love the event, but I miss the mundane...

The British event is sponsored Haggerty Insurance in the UK. Maybe the the good folks at Haggerty Insurance US would get involved with one (two, three, four...) here? Maybe we could do it on our own? Hmmm...

Playing Catch Up - A Volvo and a Fiat...

This winter was nasty. If it wasn't snowing, it was bone chilling cold. Last week we had a few 60+ degree days in a row. It felt like 75 degrees. I spent time outdoors, doing the things I couldn't do for the past 5 months, including cleaning the interior of my Saab by taking a high speed run with the top down. (Dog hair and dust fly around the interior before exiting. So do small scraps of paper. Some, I'm sure, were receipts that I will need someday. Sh*t.) I didn't spend a lot of time working on this blog. I'm playing catch up now...

1983 Volvo 242 - Looking for a classic to commute to work in? This may be the car for you.

The seller says this 242 has 115,000 miles on it. But, he then mentions that the odometer stopped working a month ago and it now really has 118K on it. Ask for some sort of proof of that.

This car looks to be in good condition, and has had a lot of work done to it. It has a manual transmission. The pictures are poor, but it doesn't appear to have any serious rust. The trunk lid is a different color than the rest of the car, but no explanation is given.

If this 242 is everything the seller says it is, it will most likely run for another 118K (at least) before needing any major work. The asking price is a reasonable $1600.00

Located in Oregon, somewhere near Portland International Airport, click here to see the Craigslist ad.

1988 Fiat Tipo 1.6 - The Tipo was introduced in 1988. During its 8 year run it was available with an insane number of engines (1.1, 1.4, 1.6, 1.7, 1.8, 1.8 16v, 2.0, and 2.0 16v gas engines, as well as 1.7, 1.9 and 1.9 turbo diesel engines). A Tipo with a 1.1 was as boring as a car gets, a Tipo with a 2.0 16 valve engine would outrun a VW GTI with no problem.

The Tipo was a very successful car for Fiat. It was sold worldwide by Fiat, except, of course, in the United States. This car was privately imported from Germany.

This Tipo has the 1.6 liter engine in it. It is a typical family car, offering enough power to be safe and enough creature comforts to be enjoyable. It looks to be in great shape. Fiat used galvanized steel to build this car, so it shouldn't rust as badly as earlier Fiats did. Still, it's a Fiat, so check it thoroughly.

Located in Providence, RI, click here to see the eBay listing.

A big thanks to Colin for sending me the link to this car!

An aside... Fiat is now selling cars in the US again. The 500 is, by all accounts, a fun, economical car. The Abarth version is a car I would love to own. But, it's going to be tough for Fiat to survive in the US with just one model, one with limited appeal at that. (The 500L, the larger "MPV," is just plain ugly and not selling well at all.) If Fiat is going to survive in North America, it needs to sell a car like the Tipo here. Something with Italian design and flair that competes - in price and performance - with the Golf and Jetta. If they ever do, I will be the first in line - with a deposit check in my wallet - for a test drive.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

1991 Mercury Capri - A Commuter Car With A Soft Top...

The Capri was built by Ford of Australia. It used Mazda mechanicals. It had a small back seat. It had Italian roots, with its body being loosely based on the 1983 Ford Ghia Barchetta concept car. It could be ordered with a turbocharged engine. It was sold in the US by Lincoln Mercury dealers. It should have been a success. It wasn't.

The Capri had a lot of little problems and one big one. First the little problems... The initial build quality was poor. There was nothing inherently evil, things just weren't screwed together well. It was FWD and its chassis was based on Mazda's 323 sedan. The design was old. The Ghia Barchetta concept car looked stunning in its day, but by the time the Capri was introduced in 1991, the slab sided wedge design was quickly going out of fashion. Lastly, selling it through Lincoln / Mercury dealers doomed it from the get go. They were (and still are) one of the last places you'd think about looking for a sporty, modern car. Ford had problems selling the original European Capri (a world beater) and the star crossed Merkur line at those dealerships. There was no reason to believe they would do any better with an Australian built, Mazda econo-box based sports car. And they didn't.

The big problem was, of course, the Miata. Ford owned a good chunk of Mazda in the 1980s and 1990s, so it's somewhat (but not totally) surprising that they didn't see this coming. The Miata, with its classic looks and tight RWD platform, took the world by storm. It was everything that was good about the 1960s British and Italian sports cars in a fairly comfortable, dead nuts reliable package. It also managed to highlight everything that was wrong with the Capri.

Ford thought they could overcome all this by promoting the Capri's tiny rear seat and good sized trunk. It didn't work. While Mazda was selling as many Miatas as they could get into the showrooms, Ford was having all sorts of problems moving the Capri. They had hoped to sell 33,000 in 1991 - its introduction year - but managed to move just 22,000. It only got worse from there and Ford pulled the plug on the Capri in 1994.

The Capri was available in two forms, the standard version - like this one - with a normally aspirated 100 HP engine, and the XR2, with a turbocharged 132 HP engine. The XR2 could be mildly entertaining, with a 7.3 second 0 - 60 time. I could not find any 0 - 60 times for the normally aspirated Capri. (Maybe no one bothered to test it.) I suspect it's in the high 9s, but that's a guess.

So why buy one like this, with the normally aspirated engine? One reason and one reason only... They are cheap. A really nice one will cost you less than $2000.00. Decent ones sometimes sell for half of that. It's a commuter car, pure and simple. It gets decent gas mileage (22 city / 28 highway) and has enough power to be safe. On a sunny summer night, you can put the top down on the way home from work. That alone makes it more fun than a similar era Civic, 323, Corolla, Sentra, etc.

This 116,000 mile car looks to be in overall nice condition. The only visible flaw is a seat cover over a ripped driver's seat. The seller says the dashboard has some cracks, but does not show any pictures of them. It has the desirable hardtop. My only concern with this car is that it is a "donation car." In some instances a donation car receives an automatic salvage title. The seller doesn't mention if this is the case with this car. (Really, though, it doesn't matter. It's not like you'll be selling this car as a collector's car, or even selling it at all. Just drive it until it won't drive anymore.)

Located in Glen Rock, PA, click here to see the eBay listing.

Monday, April 28, 2014

1959 Renault Domaine - I've Never Seen One For Sale in North America Before

I've never seen one of these for sale in North America before...

The Domaine is based on the Renault Frégate. It's large car by Euopean standards, with a wheelbase that is 4" longer than the same era Ponton Mercedes-Benz. It is around 100 lbs heavier than the MB.

The Domaine's engine was a 2.1 liter 4 that produced 80 horsepower. A 4 speed manual transmission, with a column mounted shifter, was standard. Renault's unique 'Transfluide' semi-automatic transmission was optional.

The Domaine was roomy and comfortable. The rear hatch opened up clam-shell style, and there was plenty of storage space.

The Frégate / Domaine cars competed against the Citroen Traction Avant 11 and, later, the Peugeot 403. They never sold well. Less than 200,000 Fregates (all variations) were built during its 10 year run. In 1962 It was replaced by the Rambler Renault, a Rambler Classic Six built under license from American Motors.

There is not a lot of information given about this car. The seller gives us three poor pictures of the car and one "this is what it could look like" picture. He says it has new tires, new brakes, a rebuilt carb and a "renewed" gas tank. The seats have been recovered and look good. It looks like it has the manual transmission. There is no mention of the condition of the engine. The body looks respectable in the pictures, but these cars rusted badly, so check it out thoroughly.

Located in Richmond Hill, ON, Canada, click here to see the eBay listing.