Saturday, August 4, 2018

Three Lancia Scorpions - Probably Best Used As Parts Cars, But If You're REALLY Brave...

I've written about the Lancia Scorpion in the past. It was a very cool car that didn't stand a chance in North America.

Performance was a huge problem. To meet US emissions Fiat / Lancia dropped an 81 HP 1756cc engine in it. The rest of the world - where the car was known as the Montecarlo - got a 120 HP 1995cc. The two liter engine didn't make the car a rocket, but the 1756 engine was truly anemic.

The second problem was reputation. By the time this car came out, Lancia's parent company, Fiat, was struggling in the US. Rust, mechanical issues, rust, electrical issues and more rust were big problems. Lancia's Beta line of cars - a coupe, sedan, and hatchback / wagon in the US - seemed to have more of those problems - especially the rust - than the Fiat line had.

What it had going for it was it being a mid engine, rear wheel drive and - most of all - Pininfarina styled car. The Scorpion is a looker.

Ironically, the Scorpion was somewhat more reliable and much less prone to rust than the rest of the Fiat / Lancia line.

Proving that, I guess, are these cars. They look like they have been outside for a very long time. The two red cars don't have much rust (by 1970s Fiat / Lancia standards).

Honestly, these are probably parts cars. Restoring one would be a monumental task. Mechanical parts were, for the most part, shared with Fiat models and not too difficult to source. But the unique body, interior and trim pieces are getting very difficult to find. Still, if you're really brave...

It's depressing to see cars as cool as the Scorpion sitting like this in a junkyard. But, with any luck at these will help keep another Scorpion or two on the road.

Located in Prosperity, SC, click here to see the Craigslist ad.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

R.I.P. Sergio Marchionne - Thank You For The Fiat 500 Abarth.

Sergio Marchionne passed away on Wednesday. He was just 66 years old. He was quite possibly the most important man in the auto industry in the 21 century. Unlike Elon Musk many in the industry, he had the personality and business sense to create a successful, vibrant company. Creating that company from the train wrecks known as Fiat and Chrysler was a Herculean task, but Marchionne pulled it off. He's been eulogized in hundreds of publications (Jalopnik's being especially good) so I won't do it here. I just want to point out one of the reasons I admired him so much

Bringing the Fiat 500 to the U.S. was a ballsy move. In general we are not fond of tiny cars. Mini wasn't selling a ton of cars here and they had a head start. There was no reason to believe that the Fiat 500 was going to do any better, and it didn't.

But if bringing in the 500 was ballsy, bringing in the 500 Abarth was just plain insane. It's that insanity that makes it the coolest modern used sports car you can buy for under $10K

Yes, the 500 Abarth is a sports car. It doesn't look much like a traditional sports car, but in the behind-the-wheel-smiles-per-gallon-category it is every bit a sports car.

In a nutshell, to create the 500 Abarth, Fiat basically stuck a turbocharger on their tried and true 1.4 liter 4 cylinder engine. It was good for 160+ horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque. That may not sound like much, but the 500 Abarth only weighs around 2500 lbs. They also tweaked the 500 suspension, making that horsepower very usable and enjoying. Oh yeah, they also deleted the muffler. The 500 Abarth is loud and sounds as good as many sports car costing 5X the Abarth's base price.

On the inside Fiat gave the Abarth a cool flat bottomed steering wheel, hung a boost gauge next to the steering wheel and generally upgraded the interior. It's not fancy, but its not a bad place to be.

As I mentioned, you can find these cars all day long for less than $10K. Yes, you could get an older Miata for well less than 10K. Even a decent Triumph Spitfire or MGB will cost less. But the Miata is common and the Triumphs and MGs are old. The 500 Abarth is a car with all the charm and personality of an older British or Italian sports car along with the reliability (and they are relatively reliable) and dealer network / parts availability of a modern car.

If I were in the market today for a fun to drive, quirky sports car, I'd be buying a 500 Abarth. Thank you Mr. Marchionne for giving us this car.

This particular 500 Abarth is located in Shrewsbury, MA. But, you can mostly likely find one closer to wherever you live. Click here to see the Craigslist ad.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

2007 Renault Megane - It's In The U.S.

We haven't been able to buy a French car in the U.S. for quite some time. Citroen bailed in the early seventies. Renault left in 1987. (You could buy a couple of Renault designed cars - badged as Eagles - for a few more years.) Peugeot tried to hang on, but even though they were selling a very nice car  - the 405 - they packed it in in 1991. 

If you look back on this blog you will know how much I like French cars. They had personality. They had  a unique style. They were, well, French.

The Megane never officially came to this country. It was introduced in 1995. It is still being built today.

This is a second generation Megane. Most of the Megane range had somewhat "normal" styling. Except this one. This is a Megane hatchback. It has a rear end that only could have been designed by the French. 

According to the seller, this car came to the U.S. in 2010 from Mexico. The owner passed away and it sounds like the car sat for some time with an "electrical problem." That was eventually sorted out and the current owner has put 2000 miles on it since. The only thing wrong with it now is a broken window regulator. Unfortunately, he only includes 2 pictures in his ad. 

The seller says "This car was part of the invitational display at Carlisle Import and performance. While there it won a award in its class, participated in the autocross and was featured on Jalopnik."

The seller is asking $1900.00. Nineteen-hundred-dollars. That's it. But, you know what's coming...

This car is 11 years old. In the US, a non-complying car needs to be 25+ in order to legally import it. Titling, registering and insuring this car could be a nightmare. Not to mention that the feds could confiscate it at any time. Still, it's $1900.00! What else can you get that is this unique for $1900.00?  You can't even get a good set of wheels and tires for that price. 

If you have the guts (and knowledge) to buy a car like this, this is a hell of a bargain for a car that is quite possibly the only one in the U.S.

Located in Lenoir City, TN, click here to see the Craigslist ad. 

Monday, July 9, 2018

1969 AMC Badger Javelin - I Had No Idea This Was A Thing Until Today

I love AMC Javelins. Even as a kid, when they were still selling them new, I would have taken a Javelin over a Mustang, Camaro, Firebird, etc., etc.

Until today I had no idea there was a "Badger Javelin." Built only in 1969, it was sold only in Wisconsin. (Known as the "Badger State" - Something else I didn't know until today.)

It is estimated that just around 80 were built. All were white with the red stripes and had lettering on the doors. It came with a 343 or 390 V8. A  roof mounted spoiler and hood scoops were standard on the Badger.

The seller says only 4 are known top exist today. This, I assume, is one of them. 

This car is in rough shape. Really rough shape. There is plenty of rust and at some point its original engine was replaced with a 304. It has been on and off the internet for quite awhile and the photos are from 2008, if the time stamp is correct. 

As far as I know, the Badger was not given a special VIN. Many of the "cool" parts (i.e. spoiler, hood scoops) were available as AMC options. If you could find those parts you could create a bootleg Badger fairly easily. The graphics could be reproduced. Still, this is a real Badger. 1 of 4 known to exist. It would be an intense labor of love, but it would be cool to see this one brought back to its former glory. 

Located in Iola, WI, click here to see the Craigslist listing. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

1976 Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV Turbo - Someone Needs To Rescue / Restore This

Although I still keep this blog site alive (mainly for my own entertainment), I haven't updated it in quite awhile...

This car made me want to do a new post. (I also posted it to a pretty cool Facebook page called Obscure Cars For Sale.)

My friend Jeff sent this to me Monday. Jeff is one of the foremost Alfa mechanics in the country and has a nice collection of exotic Italian cars. When something catches his attention, you know it's special.

A number of companies created Alfetta Turbos. I'm not sure who did this one, but it looks to be very well done. It appears like it still uses the original Spica injection system.

For some reason Alfettas have not increased in value at the same pace other Alfas have. I owned 3 Alfettas (2 GTs and a sedan) and found them to be very entertaining cars. 

Alfettas were prone to rust. This car, which looks like it was repainted, has plenty of surface rust but appears to have very little structural rust. The ad does not state the condition of the engine, but the seller says the clutch "works" and the brakes are "spongy," which makes me believe he must have, at the very least, started it to figure that out.

The seller says it would be "a nice vintage racer road racer or rally car," Me? I'd love to see it on the road. An Alfetta sleeper.

Located in New Milford, CT, click here to see the Craigslist ad.