Friday, March 15, 2013

Favorite Cars

Would you believe that I used to be a "grease monkey" in a service station? Yeah, nobody else believes that either (Typical coworker reaction: You? Really?), but it's true! I even seriously considered taking up auto repair as a vocation. One of the things I miss most about living on the West Coast is seeing lots of old cars everywhere. Today, I've been happily car-free for fifteen years, but if I were to get behind the wheel again, I'd want it to be in one of these (based purely on looks):


1965-67 Rambler Marlin. AMC's flop fastback. Mitt Romney used to have one! Such a weird and wonderful looking car. The Javelin today is more popular and was more powerful, but the Marlin's design has aged better.


Studebaker Hawk (any model). Actually, any Studebaker would do, including the bullet-nosed Commander.The first time I saw a Silver Hawk, I literally gasped. So, so beautiful.


BMW Isetta (any year). Are you noticing a trend here? Yes, I like weird looking cars. The Isetta must be one of the most bizarre, impractical, and probably crazily dangerous vehicles ever made. I used to see a fair number of these around in Tucson; there must have been a collectors' club or something.


1961 Dodge Polara. Features the most beautiful back-end treatment of any car I've ever seen. Plus, you could get it with an optional 45 record player! Early 60s Chrysler products were gorgeous, much lovelier than anything Chevy or Ford produced. Later Polara models were incredibly ugly.


1960 Plymouth Valiant. OMG, so cute with its vaguely insect-like look and adorable spare tire articulation on the trunk cover. See what I mean about early 60s Chrysler designs?


1961-1964 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia. My first car was a bright yellow 1964 KG, and it was so much fun to drive, like a Beetle with all the design flaws removed.  Mine eventually got into an argument (not my fault!) with a 1969 Ford Galaxy and guess who won? My next car was a '72 model, not as nice, and it burned to the ground almost instantly. :(


1964 Ford Falcon Futura. My last car was this exact model in this color. I loved that car! Ford introduced the Falcon as an "economy" vehicle, but in '64 briefly changed their mind and made it a muscle car with a small yet powerful 260 V8 engine. Mine had a three-on-the-tree transmission. Later that same year, Ford changed their mind yet again, altered the side treatment and tail lights on this model, and renamed it Mustang, but I prefer the big chrome wedge and round "target" lights. I'm sure a few of you long-time Pony Pals have fond memories of this one.


AMC Gremlin (all models). Joke all you want, but I think these are really cool looking cars, and with each passing year, they appear more exotic. I went to a car show in about 1997, and the biggest crowds were ogling the tricked-out, customized Gremlins and Pacers, and they were SUPERB.

There are many other cars I love, but I generally don't care for 50s cars or anything at all past 1980, unless it's, you know, a Rolls Royce (I've driven one; it's like steering a cloud) or something.

What's your favorite?

21 comments:

Angry Parakeet said...

Remember a couple years ago in some small Virginia town the perp of an ATM theft/fraud was fingered by locals who saw the security camera footage which revealed his Gremlin...

Comrade Physioprof said...

1971 Cadillac Eldorado convertible, yellow with white leather interior.

Peteykins said...

Mmmm, that sounds nice, Physioprof. Pony Pal Nixie Bunny in Tucson used to routinely buy and restore late 50s/early 60s Caddys, and they were beautiful.

Fran said...

Having met you, I will admit some surprise; but, you are full of surprises... so I am not totally shocked by this.

What cool cars. I loved those Gremlins and Pacers!

Trivia fact, my father was selling German cars at the time and my parents owned the first Karmann Ghia that got registeed in the US, if family history is accurate. If not the first, one of the first.

I love that little BMW - wow!

A personal favorite oddball from my bizarre childhood was the Borgward. I think that it might have been the Isabella; I can't recall, I was only 4 when we had it.

Peteykins said...

OOOH, I forgot about Borgwards. Some of those are gorgeous.

samael7 said...

My Aunt had a late-60s model Ghia until about the mid-1980s. I got to drive it all of once. Looked great, but I never cared much for how it operated.

I've only ever owned one car that was basically given to me in the 90s when its owner left the country for a while, and that was a 1977 Toyota Celica GT. This photo is pretty much a dead ringer for it, color and all, except that a) I had a hand-crank sunroof that I loved, and b) mine wasn't British.

Anonymous said...

How does one get into that BMW, through the front, it looks like? Neat-looking little car. Did the Polara come in a station wagon? Until my teens, our family car was always a station wagon but I think we had a Polara when I was 3 or 4 (mid-1960s).

Anonymous said...

Oh god...1969 Jaguar XKE convertible, hands down. It would look lovely in my garage, where it would spend all its time, because..hey Lucas Electrics...

Second choice would be a Volvo 1800es .

Peteykins said...

Anonymous #1, yes, through the front, and yes, the Polara did come in mutated station wagon form.

Anonymous #2, a lovely choice.

Anonymous said...

OMG Peter,Childhood trauma revealed!!

My Mom had a 1960 Plymouth Valiant with the push button transmission (with some type of safety/interlock lever).

About age 4 or 5 I was playing with the push buttons and the lever and of course I let it loose to roll out of the driveway and block the street.

Naturally a fleet of buses was leaving the school nearby and coming our way. Mom saved the day and my ass. But not my psyche.

I only think about it when I see one of these cars or its corporate cousin, the Dodge Lancer.

Rich In Fla

dinthebeast said...

Speaking of "Lucas, Prince of Darkness", my brother had an Austin-Healy bug eye Sprite that he painted a color very close to that of the above Valiant... It seemed an odd choice at the time, as my brother was 6'5" and we lived in Eureka, Ca. where it rains a lot and it was a rag top... I used to sit in it and listen to 8-track tapes.

-Doug in Oakland

TexasYankee said...

Early 1970s Citroen DS 21. Elegance and technology beyond compare.

Lucy Huestis said...

Karmann Ghias for sure! I also had two that met with sad ends: one was stolen and the other burned up (that one when I was 9 months pregnant!)

Peteykins said...

Pony Sibling YAY!

Philip said...

I remember your Karmann Ghia and Ford Falcon Futura (FFF = 666). So stylish. My soft spots are for the '67 Mercury Cougar and Studebaker Avanti.

king quaker said...

'74 Mustang II Ghia. Dark blue; beautiful.
My mother-in-law could just barely fit in the back seat.
I loved Grandma Daphne. Man, could she cook! And she was a realist in all things.
It was stolen from our apartment building parking lot in Brooklyn. I moved on to a Toyota Celica. Not much more room, but a far superior transmission.

yellowdogfox said...

The Studebaker Hawk was OK, but the ultimate was the 1953-4 Studebaker Starliner -- Raymond Loewy's masterpiece, and the best looking American car ever.

http://www.curbsideclassic.com/curbside-classics-american/curbside-classic-1953-1954-studebaker-commander-starliner-coupe-star-light-star-bright/

I also lusted mightily as a teen after the BMW 507 -- turns out that history has agreed with my taste.

J. Matt said...

I had a friend in High School (backwoods Florida) that traded his 1941 Oldsmobile for 1964 Plymouth Valiant. It was the most beautiful lime green. He completed the trade at a junkyard where the owner had one eye and 8 fingers and a sign at the entrance that said "Anyone found here at night will be found here in the morning". We used to love scrounging his lot for treasures.

dianegsocialist said...

My father collected Studebakers. He had a pickup, a couple of station wagons, and one Gran Turisimo. We had another one which I'm not remembering well (maybe another pickup.) I thought they were the coolest thing, especially since no one else had one.

Anonymous said...

Citro├źn Traction Avant.

LIBear said...

I have three Studebakers:
1957 Silver Hawk
1961 Lark
1963 Avanti