Tuesday, October 4, 2011

1977 Leata Cabalero

I really don't know what to say about this car. I'm not even sure why I'm writing about it. I guess it's just too weird to ignore...

This is a Leata Cabalero. It was built by Stinebaugh Manufacturing in Post Falls, Idaho. This is not some sort of just-for-fun one-off, built after hours by a body shop. Sonny Stinebaugh built around 100 of these things (coupe and pickup truck versions combined) and (presumably) sold them all. Stinebaugh's brochure stated "The Cabalero owner knows he is one of a few people fortunate to experience the pleasure of a truly exceptional automobile meant to be a landmark in automotive history."

This "truly exceptional automobile" is based on the truly unexceptional Chevy Chevette. The body panels are fiberglass. Supposedly, there is a frame added underneath the Chevette's unibody that prevents the car from folding in half.

The interior is, uh, interesting. Just what is that in front of the passenger? It looks like some sort of crude 1970s attempt at an airbag, but I suspect it's a pocket of sorts. It has power windows, a feature I don't think was ever available on a Chevette. The window switches are mounted by the shifter and look like they're from a 1970s Renault. Apparently a CB radio was part of the Cabalero package and it sits just below the AM/ FM / 8 Track player.

The engine is GM's durable, but unexciting, "Iron Duke" 4.

According to the seller, this car sold new for over $10,000.00. Earlier this year, this very same car sold for $7700.00 at a Barrett-Jackson auction.

Sonny Stinebaugh said the he lost three quarters of a million dollars on the Cabalero project, which I don't find too surprising. It was his last automobile venture. He died in 2001 at age 54.

I have absolutely no desire to own this car. But, Just a Car Geek isn't always about great cars, just interesting cars. The Cabalero is interesting, even if it's only in a "Whoa! Just what the hell were they thinking?" kind of way.

Located in Bonham, TX, click here to see the eBay listing.

5 comments:

Max Power said...

Wow!!! I mean...wow!!! Yes, this thing is awful but sooo cool at the same time. It's cars like these that I miss these days...small volume bizarre-o's filling a niche that doesn't exist except in the manfacturers warped brain. Then again, I also miss the days when Eastern European cars would either be some home-grown concoction of poorly made parts or building some Western European castoff with odd 'modernization' for thirty years when it was already ten years or so past their due date.

I mean, Skoda...and Dacia...they are legitimate companies now. Sigh...someone needs to build convertible pickup based on a Dodge Avenger cross bred with a Buick Lucerne stat!

Blair Russell said...

What a wacky, wacky vehicle... and yet I dig it! And it doesn't cost a lot to own something truly rare. I remember reading about it somewhere earlier in the year and since then I've dug it due to its strangeness.

The hilarious thing is that this wasn't the first Leata! The first car, a coupe, was simply known as the Leata and if you look up "1975 Leata" on Google you'll find an in-depth article on it and if you thought the Cabalero was ugly...

Jon said...

Thanks Geek, you really made my morning with this one. This makes the Ford Pinto Cruising Wagon seem like a really good idea.

When I looked up Leata, I saw the coupe that Blair referred to above. Wow...

While it's refreshing to see a design that is not a neoclassic, it's downright hilarious to read superlatives such as a "landmark in automotive history" for a vehicle based on mere Chevette mechanicals.

JACG BONUS POINTS

Geek asked "Just what is that in front of the passenger?"

Well, it looks like a pair of my old boxer briefs that have been sewn in half, and velcroed to the dash.

Myron Vernis said...

As a proud(?) Leata Cabalero coupe owner, I am very excited to see this car. Speaking from experience, they make people who see it smile. Buy this one so I don't have to. Then, we can have a club!

Anonymous said...

please post some new vehicles to so that this thing drops off the front page....