Sunday, October 14, 2018

1986 Hyundai Pony "Magnifique Hyundai Pony"

There's a pretty good chance that you will never see one of these on the road. Certainly, you will never see one as nice as this one.

The Pony was the first car Hyundai sold in North America. In this case, North America meant Canada. Unable to pass the U.S. emissions standards, it was never sold here.

Hyundai starting building cars in 1967. They were building a Ford Cortina under license. In the early seventies they wanted something of their own. They hired George Turnbull, former managing director at British Leyland to create it. He in turn brought along some of British Leyland's top engineers. The chassis is loosely based on the Morris Marina. Some of the suspension parts came from the Cortina they were already building. The engine was from Mitsubishi. The body was designed by Italdesign Giugiaro S.p.A. It was introduced to the Korean market in 1975.

In 1982 the Pony got a bit of a facelift, making it look slightly more modern. Hyundai started exporting the car to Canada in 1984. It was a huge success. Hyundai expected to sell 5,000 cars in Canada in 1984. They wound up selling over 25,000.

The Canadians weren't buying this car for its technology or performance, however. They bought it for its price. At $5,795 (Canadian), it was considerably less expensive than the Japanese imports and only slightly more than a Lada.

But, as in most cases, you get what you pay for. The Pony was slow, crude, not very well screwed together and rusted horribly.

That's what makes this car so interesting... It's in remarkable condition.

This Pony is being offered by a dealer in Brossard, Quebec, Canada. They don't give us a lot of information about it. It has just 22,028 Km (13,687 miles) on it. It looks like what I assume a new Pony looked like. (The seller calls it a "Magnifique Hyundai Pony," which sounds so much better than any way we could describe it in English.)

Ah, but the price... The dealer is asking $14,995 (Canadian). That's about $11,500.00 US. No matter what currency you're using, that's a lot of money for this car.

So why would anyone buy this car? History, that's all. Hyundai followed up the Pony with the marginally better FWD Excel, which was the first Hyundai sold in the U.S.. Now, of course, they are a huge player in the North American market. They offer everything from cheap entry level cars to expensive luxury sedans. Whether any of this would have happened had the Pony been a flop is questionable.

This is not something I desire to own. But, if you are a Hyundai collector / aficionado - with a lot of cash - this may be for you.

Click here to see the dealer's ad.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

1977 Jaguar XJ6 C - Just A Beautiful Car

Sometimes I just post a car because it's beautiful. This is one of those times.

I've written about the XJ6 C in the past. You can find one of those posts here.

This car has an interesting "Quarterbreed transmission conversion." I had no idea what that was, so I did some research. Essentially, it's a kit that allows you to replace the antiquated Borg Warner transmission that came in this car with a more reliable, better shifting, GM Turbo-Hydra-Matic transmission. I know there will be some arguments about this. Some people will say you should swap over a manual transmission. That's a valid argument. But, I would argue that A) This car came with an automatic, and B) This isn't a sports car. It's a beautiful cruiser. It doesn't need a manual.

Other folks might say that you should rip out the engine and transmission and drop in a Chevy drivetrain. To that, my argument would be... No. Don't. Never. Ever. If you want something with a Chevy engine in it, buy a Chevy. The Jaguar engine is a gem. Yes, it needs more maintenance than a U.S. V8, but it's worth it.

This car has also had its engine rebuilt. There really appears to be nothing wrong with it. The seller says it is a Jaguar Club of North America National Champion.

The price, $16,000.00, is very reasonable for it's condition.

I don't know what else to write about this car. There is nothing to pick on. I'm just going to shut up and look at the pictures. Damn. This is gorgeous.

Located in Glouster, MA, click here to see the Craigslist ad.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

1988 Pontiac Trans Am GTA Notchback

If you look back on this site, you will notice that I haven't written about many American muscle cars. I have nothing against them; some are really cool. But, there are plenty of really good websites out there dedicated to muscle cars. The people who write them have a passion for - and knowledge of - these cars that I don't have. I leave it up to those folks to write about them. This car, however, is too cool and too obscure for me not to mention.

The Notchback was an option only available on the Trans AM GTA in 1988 and early 1989. The idea was to have a body style that was unique to the Firebird and not shared with the Camaro. Instead of the normal hatch that was found on the Firebird, the Notchback package replaced the hatch glass with a fiberglass decklid created by Auto-Fab. The small rear window reportedly came from the Corvette.

Pontiac believed they could sell an average of 10,000 Notcbacks per year. (Auto-Fab only had the capacity to build around 2000 decklids per years, so I assume Pontiac had some sort of plan for the additional decklids they thought they would need.)

Problems occurred right away. Hotrod.com wrote this about the car: "According to Pontiac’s Sporty Car Marketing Manager Lou Wassel, shortly after the announcement, problems surfaced at the Van Nuys F-body assembly plant in Southern California. It appeared that the notchback didn’t fit and all orders were put on hold until Auto-Fab could identify the cause of the problem. Lou recalled that Auto-Fab rebuilt its molds using a new design. Fresh notchbacks were sent out to Van Nuys where they faced the same obstacles. The assembly was yet again closely inspected. Lou claims that the notchback wasn’t actually the cause of the fitment issue; rather it was variances in the production tolerances of the car bodies. Lou says that modifications were made to the design one more time before they reached an acceptable fit. By this time, it was late in the ’88 model year. Some dealers had lost interest and were hesitant to promote an option that had been delayed twice, certainly affecting their sales. Adding to this, there wasn’t any mention of the option in dealer literature that year and many of the salespeople weren’t educated on the notchback, either."

When all was said and done, just 718 Notchbacks were built and the option disappeared at the end of 1988.

Along with the decklid, the Notchback came with different rear seats that included built in headrests.

The styling of the Nocthback is a matter of personal taste. Personally, I like the original hatch. To me, the Nocthback decklid makes the back end look a little to Fiero-ish.

This car looks like it needs restoration. At the very least it needs paint. The seller says it is just 1 of 50 to have a 350 V8 in it.

The seller does not list an asking price and at one point in his ad says "Great investment ...If you can find one!" That could mean he's looking for offers. Or, it could mean he's asking top dollar or more. With so few built and no real data on how many remain, this car's value can only be based on how badly a person wants one. Haggertys shows the value of a "Good" regular Trans Am at around $5000.00.

Located in somewhere in New Hampshire, click here to see the Craigslist ad.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

1993 RHD Fiat Tempra - Only One In The U.S.

I suspect that this is being sold by the same person who has the 1988 Fiat Tipo for sale. I don't know that for a fact, but what are the chances of two people in a state the size of Rhode Island having imported Fiats for sale?

The Tempra was built from 1990 until 1996. It shares its platform with the Lancia Dedra and Alfa Romeo 155. The body, which is not exciting, but was never meant to be, was designed by Ercole Spada at I.DE.A Institute. Fiat built the Tempra in Italy until 1996, but it remained in production in Turkey until 1999 and Vietnam until 2000.

I've spent my entire life in the United States, so I have never seen - let alone driven - a Tempra. What I know about it is from what I have seen on the internet.

The British site, RAC, has this to say aboput buying a used Tempra: "A fully galvanised body means that tin worm is hardly ever an issue with these cars. Such was the corporate paranoia in the Fiat Group surrounding the dreaded R word that Fiat went almost over the top with corrosion protection. The Tempra is not a badly built car but be wary of electrics in older cars - just check that everything works as it should and watch for oil leaks and leaky radiators. Trim materials can be a bit cheap and prone to wear on base-model cars. It could be worth haggling over, if you feel strongly enough. Don't be overly concerned by noisy power-steering pumps; they may sound strange occasionally, but they're mostly reliable. Some cars can suffer poor paint quality. Again, a cosmetic thing but maybe on the list of items that add up for negotiation with the seller."

Of course, that means little when it comes to this car. I don't think anyone in the U.S. would buy a right-hand drive Fiat Tempra to use as a daily commuter. This is a weekend driver / show car.

This car looks to be in very nice condition. The body looks great. The interior also looks great. I especially like the retro-cool digital dash, although I have to wonder how easy parts are to find for it if it goes bad. Other parts while non-existent in North America, should be fairly easy to find overseas.

The seller says this is the only Fiat Tempra in the United States. I have no reason to doubt that. It's an Italian classic. OK, its not an old Ferrari, Maserati or Alfa, but it's far more uncommon - and a lot cheaper - in the US and will draw attention anywhere you drive it.

Located in Providence, RI, click here to see the Craigslist ad.

Friday, October 5, 2018

2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart

Last summer my girlfriend and I were eating in the outdoor dining area of our favorite burrito place. I glanced across the street and saw this boxy station wagon with very long tail lights. It was dusk and it was tough to see. I had absolutely no idea what it was. I know cars. Even cars I'm not particularly fond of I can usually identify. What the hell was this?

When I was younger I would have jumped up from the table - knocking food and drinks everywhere - and ran across the street to get a closer look. But, I'm older now. I have manners. (Right. Actually, the car pulled away before I had a chance to stand up.)

I went home and did a Google search. "Station wagons with vertical tail lights." A bunch of Volvos popped up. "Boxy station wagons with long tail lights." More Volvos. "Boxy station wagons with long vertical tail lights that aren't Volvos." More Volvos appeared on the screen. Thanks, Google. I figure that I had seen a unicorn and would go to my grave never knowing what it was.

A few weeks later I was in a shopping center parking lot. Pulling out of a parking spot was the car I had seen that night. I sped up to get behind it. On the tailgate was a Mitsubishi logo. I went home and googled "Mitsubishi station wagon." After scrolling for a bit I found it. What I had seen was a 2004 "Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback."

While I hadn't seen a Unicorn that night, it would be fair to say that I saw a Zebra. Like the Zebra, the Lancer Sportback exists. There aren't many of them.

The Lancer Sportback was available in two different versions; the base LS and this, the Ralliart. To the best of my knowledge, it was only available in the U.S. in 2004.

The Ralliart was the sporty model and came with some cool features the LS didn't have. Among other things, the Ralliart had a stiffer / lower suspension, some sport seats, a cool instrument cluster and a few more horsepower. What it didn't have was a manual transmission. From what I gather, the other Lancer models - including the Ralliart sedan - could be ordered with a manual transmission. The Sportback Ralliart could not. Go figure.

I love the body style of the Sportback. The Lancer sedan was plain looking. The Sportback looks like few other cars. You notice the Sportback.

This Ralliart looks to be in overall decent condition. The paint could use a buffing and the miles are on the high side (191K), but it appears to be complete and without any visible damage.

Located in Shoreline, WA, click here to see the dealer's ad.