Five of the coolest nearly extinct cars from the ’70s and ’80s

The attrition rate of cars from the mid-disco to late Reagan-era is huge. And while we’d love to see someone somewhere driving any one of the cars on this list, in truth, we can’t remember the last time we saw any of them.  Here are five of our favorite nearly extinct cars:

Ford Capri XL
Ford Capri XL
1971-77 Mercury Capri — Few people remember the 1980s Fox-body Mustang’s near-identical twin, the Mercury Capri. Fewer still can recall the Australian-built front-wheel-drive convertible Capri. This isn’t either of those cars— it’s not even the first to wear the Capri badge. It’s the German Ford mini-Mustang Capri. Sold in the U.S. through Mercury dealers and marketed as “The Sexy European” with an assortment of four- and six-cylinder engines, it was nice looking and great to drive—at least we’re assured of this from vintage road tests. One Capri recently offered on was the first that we’ve seen in ages.
Mitsubishi Starion
Mitsubishi Starion
Chrysler Conquest/Mitsubishi Starion — The Conquest was the captive import twin of the Mitsubishi Starion. In the hottest turbo spec with 197 HP, these cars would put the fear of God into Porsche 924/ 944 owners who had the privilege of paying almost twice as much for less performance. Where have they all gone?
International Harvester Travelall
International Harvester Travelall - Photo courtesy of John Lloyd
1969-75 International Harvester Travelall — The Travelall was the Scout’s big brother, and while Scouts are still regularly seen (particularly in the summer with tops off), the Travelall has all but disappeared. In reality, it was one of the pioneers of the modern SUV and one of the first vehicles to offer anti-lock brakes. Sadly, it was completely overshadowed by the Jeep Wagoneer.
Chrysler Laser
Chrysler Laser
Chrysler Laser/ Dodge Daytona Z Turbo — The K-car platform saved Chrysler in the 1980s and underpinned nearly everything that they built, including the sporty Laser/Daytona twins. The car was nowhere near as bad as the foregoing would suggest; 2.2- and 2.5-liter turbo fours produced anywhere from 175 HP to 224 HP in their hottest states of tune. Carroll Shelby versions of the Daytona are somewhat collectible, assuming you can find one.
Volkswagen Scirocco MKI
Volkswagen Scirocco MKI - Photo courtesy of Charles01
1975-81 Volkswagen Scirocco MKI — The Scirocco was the spiritual successor to the Karmann-Ghia. It followed the same formula of a pretty Italian body over more pedestrian underpinnings (in this case a body designed by Ital Design clothing Rabbit-derived mechanicals). No matter, it was a decent handler and quick enough for the day. Today, there are probably more Bentley Continentals on the road than MK I Sciroccos.

Rare Ford GT40 Roadster in RM Monterey auction

The Ford GT40 Roadster Prototype was the first of four roadsters built | RM Auctions
The Ford GT40 Roadster Prototype was the first of four roadsters built | RM Auctions

Probably the most famous American race car ever, the Ford GT40 is famed both for beating Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the 1960s and for its soaring value today as one of the world’s most-coveted collector cars.

The 1965 Ford GT40 Roadster Prototype, chassis GT/108, that RM Auctions has announced for its Monterey sale in August, is also one of the most significant survivors of the legendary brand. One of just a few prototypes ever built, and the first of just four GT40 roadsters, GT/108 served as a demonstration car for Ford and Shelby American during 1965, when it was piloted by a number of famous drivers, including the performance maestro Carroll Shelby.

Carroll Shelby was among the car’s famous drivers | RM Auctions
Carroll Shelby was among the car’s famous drivers | RM Auctions

The iconic mid-engine sports car, so named because of its 40-inch roof height, is also in excellent original condition, according to RM, and fully documented with limited long-term ownership after its year as an exhibition and demonstration car. The Monterey appearance will mark the first time the car has ever been offered at auction.

According to John S. Allen in his book, GT40: The Legend Lives On, “Prototype GT/108 is currently the only intact example of the marque still to carry the correct 1965-style nose and the low tail section unique to roadsters. (Further) 108 is the only roadster, or ‘spyder,’ to remain in as-built condition.”

RM Auction has not placed an estimated value on the GT40 Roadster Prototype, but according to the Hagerty Insurance Cars That Matter price guide, a 1965 GT40 Roadster Prototype in excellent condition is valued between $6.5 million and $8 million.

“Ford and Ferrari were at the center of one of the most intense feuds in international motorsport,” said Shelby Myers, car specialist for RM Auctions, in a news release. “The GT40 of the 1960s was the result of Henry Ford II’s declaration of war on Ferrari after a failed buyout; if he couldn’t own the small Modenese sports-car outfit, he vowed to beat them on the track…no matter what the cost.

“GT/108 is very special, as it is one of the early prototype cars. It is the first roadster version and certainly one of the most important of the twelve prototype cars built, as it was Ford and Shelby’s factory development car, driven by Carroll Shelby himself.”

Five classic Mustangs you can still afford

With the big 50th anniversary of the Mustang, prices of the classic first version of the Mustang, the 1964½ (technically a 1965 model) through 1966, have been moving up. The best convertibles and fastbacks with the highest horsepower engines can bring well over $65,000 and there has been renewed interest in vintage Mustangs of all years.  All isn’t lost however for the Mustang collector on a budget.

Here are five of our favorite Mustangs that are still affordable:

1966 Ford Mustang Convertible
1966 Ford Mustang Convertible
1964½-66 Convertible (six cylinder): If you simply must have the first version of the Mustang in a convertible and have $25,000 or less to spend on a nice one, well then you’re likely to have to settle for the six-cylinder model instead of the 260 or 289 V-8. And the six of the ’60s was nothing like today’s 300-plus hp base V-6. Nope, the 200-cubic-inch straight-six was good for just 120 hp, so performance was leisurely at best. No matter; the six still looked great.
1964 1/2 Ford Mustang
1964 1/2 Ford Mustang
1964 ½-66 V-8 Coupe: If you’d really rather have a V-8, there’s still time to find one for less than $25,000. Granted, it won’t be a swoopy fastback or a drop-top, but the basic hardtop is still a pretty car. Don’t expect the highest horsepower versions of the Mustang 289-cubic-inch V-8 at this price point, but nice cars are still out there. For now anyway.
1973 Ford Mustang Mach 1
1973 Ford Mustang Mach 1
1971-1973 Mach I 302 Coupe: “Mach I” was one of the more audacious names of the Pony Car era, however in actual fact, its top speed was a bit shy of the speed of sound. But it had pumped up good looks and none other than Sean Connery as James Bond drove a ’71 Mach 1 in the movie “Diamonds are Forever.” As usual, the biggest engine version has sailed past affordability, but the 302 V-8 Mach Ican still be had for around $25,000 if you look hard enough.
1986 Ford Mustang SVO
1986 Ford Mustang SVO
1984-86 SVO: This selection will likely get the trolls’ attention: a four-cylinder Mustang on a list of collectible Mustangs. But the SVO wasn’t a Pinto-based Mustang II or your dental hygienist’s 88 hp four-banger Fox Body Mustang; the SVO sported a turbo 2.3-liter four that made as much horsepower as the 5.0-liter V-8 of the day, a biplane rear spoiler, unique front fascia, and hood complete with a totally cool NACA duct-style air scoop. It was faster and more expensive than the V-8. Fuel prices never climbed the way that the industry expected, and the 5.0-liter V-8 was further developed with new, more-efficient cylinder heads, and eventually fuel injection, giving it better gas mileage and much more horsepower with less complication and expense, so the sophisticated SVO disappeared after 1986.
1988 Ford Mustang GT5.0 Convertible
1988 Ford Mustang GT5.0 Convertible
1987-93 GT 5.0 Convertible: We like the 1989 model because it was the 25th anniversary year of the Mustang (which Ford barely noticed). The Fox Body Mustang might not have been the most glamorous body style ever, but it was one of the cars responsible for ending the “Malaise Era” of sluggish and dull American cars. With the 5.0-liter V-8 boosted to 225 hp, in 1987, the Mustang brought cheap V-8 performance back to the masses. Care for something a bit newer? We also love the 2008-09 Bullitt Edition Mustang and think it’s a future collectible.

My Classic Car: Tad’s 1963 Ford Fairlane 500

Tad Alberts spent 3 years restoring this 1963 Ford Fairlane 500 sports coupe | Tad Albert photo
Tad Alberts spent 3 years restoring this 1963 Ford Fairlane 500 sports coupe | Tad Albert photo

I traded one of my old snow plow trucks for this car, which I recently sold.

My friend saw it sitting for about 10 years when he would visit his family in Tennessee. After our trade, he trailered it up to Michigan for me and I took it apart down to just the shell.

I spent 3 years restoring it with a 302 Ford Motorsport crate engine, Holley, Edelbrock, Comp Cams, MSD, Headman, built C-4 with B&M shifter.

I also put on new quarters in it, new floors and patched the front fenders.

Other changes included 1998 Ford Escort bucket seats, Weld Racing wheels, Flowmasters with 2/12″ duals to the rear bumper.

The project cost $20,000, $8,000 of it in paint and body work.

No power steering, no A/C, drum brakes, but so much fun to cruise and show.

I go to the Woodward Dream Cruise every year. The car has won 2 peoples choice trophies.


$7 million GT40 goes to Utah motorsports museum

The Ford GT40 was raced by Shelby America during the 1965 season | Mecum Auctions
The Ford GT40 was raced by Shelby America during the 1965 season | Mecum Auctions

The Ford GT40 prototype racecar that hammered sold at a record $7 million April 12 at the Mecum auction in Houston will be put on permanent display at the Larry H. Miller Total Performance Museum in Tooele, Utah.

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It’s the Petersen’s turn to celebrate Mustang’s birthday

Eleanors from both Gone in 60 Seconds movies will be at the museum | Petersen photos
Eleanors from both Gone in 60 Seconds movies will be at the museum | Petersen photos

The big celebrations at the New York Auto Show and at speedways in Charlotte and Las Vegas may be over, but festivities staged to observe the 50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang continue.

This weekend, May 3-4, the Petersen Automotive museum presents Mustang Madness which will include:

  • An all-Mustang car show.
  • A look at the next-generation 2015 Mustang that doesn’t arrive in Ford dealerships until sometime this fall.
  • The unveiling of the museum’s Mustangs Forever: 50 Years of a Legend exhibit.
  • Live interviews with various “Mustang Heroes.”
  • A visit Saturday morning by Mustang RTR creator and world drift-driving champion Vaughn Gittin Jr. and one Sunday morning by Beau Boeckmann, president of Galpin Auto Sports (Galpin Ford is the sponsor for the special weekend Mustang celebration at the Petersen).
  • Additional appearances by Bob Fria with the first Ford Mustang, by Hollywood Hot Rods’ Troy Ladd with his custom Mustang, and by Pure Vision’s Martini Mustang.
  • A “Value of the Mustang” seminar Sunday afternoon by experts from Hagerty Collector Car Insurance.
  • Screenings of both the 1974 and 2000 versions of the movie, Gone in 60 Seconds, with the Eleanor Mustangs from both movies on display.
  • Food tents, live music and a play area and scavenger hunt for children.
  • A special museum rooftop Mustang Lounge.
It will be all-Mustangs at the show
It will be all-Mustangs at the show

Speaking of the all-Mustang car show, there will be prizes awarded, and Henry Ford III will present a special Ford Heritage Award.

For more information and a time schedule, visit the website.


It’s worth what? 5 classics you’d never guess are so valuable

Some classics wear their price tags on their sleeves. Look at a fuel-injected ’57 Chevy Bel Air, and it’s immediately apparent that it’s valuable merchandise. On the other hand, there are the sleepers of the classic car world, the cars that are worth a lot of money but it’s only obvious to those in-the-know. Your Accord-driving neighbor would, for example, never guess that the proceeds from a restored VW microbus could put his kid through college at a very good state school. Here are five you’d never suspect of being quite pricey:

1.Volkswagen “Samba” Microbus: There’s a simple rule of thumb with VW Microbuses: More windows equals more money. The 21- and 23-window versions of the venerable ’50s bus can bring money that would shock the hippies who ran them into the ground in the 1960s—around 70 grand for a nicely restored one. They’ve even been known to break $100,000 at the right auction.
2.Fiat Jolly: The Jolly was an open-top version of the classic Fiat 500 that was meant to be stowed onboard yachts and used as transport in places like Monaco and Positano. They have no doors, the seats are made of wicker and the tops are meant only to provide shade. Appallingly cute, the pint-sized Jolly can sell for upwards of $70,000.
3.Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser: The classic Jeep-like 1960-1984 Toyota Land Cruiser was one tough vehicle—so tough that they invited horrific abuse, which explains the dearth of clean examples. A nicely restored one sold at an auction in Scottsdale, Ariz., last January for $88,000. We’ve heard stories of $100,000-plus examples. In response to FJ40s getting so expensive, first-generation 4Runners are starting to increase in value. Don’t say we didn’t mention it.
4.Ford Bronco: The humble 1966-77 Ford Bronco was a product of the same team that brought us the classic 1964½ Mustang. Unlike the Mustang, which sat on Ford Falcon underpinnings, the first Bronco was a totally unique platform. The size and shape were just right, and collectors have latched onto them in droves. Totally stock, unrusted Broncos without cut fenders and flares are rare; it takes around $30,000 to get a nice one.
5.BMW Isetta: Prior to becoming known as the ultimate driving machine, BMW suffered from a case of bipolar disorder, selling the super-expensive V-8 507 roadster and the tiny egg-like Isetta microcar out of the same showrooms. It’s no shock that the gorgeous 507 roadster sells for a ton of money, but the fact that Isettas can pull more than $40,000 is surprising indeed.

Danbury Mint ends die-cast model sales

The final die-cast car from Danbury Mint was a limited-edition model of a 1935 Ford Deluxe | Danbury Mint
The final die-cast car from Danbury Mint was a limited-edition model of a 1935 Ford Deluxe | Danbury Mint

The Danbury Mint has gone out of the car business. The Connecticut-based collectibles company, known for its finely honed 1:24 scale replicas of classic cars, announced recently that it would no longer include the die-cast cars among its lineup.

The final offering was a limited-edition model of a 1935 Ford Deluxe three-window coupe, of which the company produced 2,500 versions that quickly sold out.

Danbury Mint has been marketing the die-cast replicas for more than 20 years, producing hundreds of brands rendered in miniature. But the two Chinese factories that produced the cars have closed, the company said, leaving it with no production facilities. The rising cost of producing the high-quality models was also cited for ending their sales.

The Danbury Mint website includes no mention of model-car sales, but shows the company’s continuing concentration on jewelry, commemorative coins, sports memorabilia and figurines.

Future Classic: Tesla Roadster


Tesla Roadster | Tesla photos
Tesla Roadster | Tesla photos

Exotic styling. Limited production numbers. Breakthrough technology. Outstanding dynamic dexterity. Fun to drive. Bonus points if the top goes down or can be removed.

Each of those is an attribute that applies for separating mere used cars from desirable classic cars. And each of those attributes applies to our suggested Future Classic for this week. That car is the Tesla Roadster.

Exotic styling: Although they may share only 6 percent of their components, the Tesla Roadster was pretty much based on the Lotus Elise.

Limited production: Tesla reportedly built fewer than 2,500 of the electric-powered two-seat sports cars.

Electricity powers the Tesla Roadster
Electricity powers the Tesla Roadster

Breakthrough technology: Did you read that previous sentence? “Electric-powered.” At first, Tesla used AC Propulsion’s electric power train, but then it developed its own state-of-the-art system.

Outstanding dynamic dexterity: Try zero to 60 in 3.7 seconds, and that’s only in a straight line. With mid-rear “engine” architecture and rear-wheel drive, the Tesla Roadster can turn nicely as well.

Fun to drive: Duh, plus nearly 245 miles of range on a charge (well, depending on just how heavy you are with your right foot).

Bonus points: Yes, the top can be removed.

Automobile magazine reported that the Tesla Roadster “exploded off the line, pulling like a small jet plane… like driving a Lamborghini with a big V12 revved over 6,000 rpm at all times, waiting to pounce (but) without the noise, vibration, or misdemeanor arrest for disturbing the peace.”

_jl78196The magazine’s week long test concluded the Tesla Roadster was the coolest car the writer ever had driven.

“Why? Despite the flat-out sprints, the drag racing, the donuts, the top-speed runs, and dicing through traffic like there’s a jet pack strapped to the trunk, Pacific Gas and Electric—which generated power for the Tesla—released into the atmosphere the same amount of carbon dioxide as would a gasoline-powered car getting 99 mpg. And the Roadster didn’t break. It didn’t smoke, lock up, freeze, or experience flux-capacitor failure.

“Over the past ten decades, no company has been able to reinvent the car — not General Motors with the EV1, not Toyota with the Prius. And now, a bunch of dudes from Silicon Valley have created an electric car that really works — as both an environmental fix and a speed fix.”

A Future Classic, indeed.


History of the Ford Windsor 351 Engine


The Windsor, Ontario-built 90° V8 was introduced in 1962 as a 221 cubic inch engine. It was Ford’s first modern lightweight small-block replacing the old Y-block. Through the years, not all small-block Windsors were produced solely at the Ontario plant, but the name stuck with the engine.

In 1962, the small block displacement was bumped up to 260. In 1963, the small block displacement was bumped up further to 289. The changes included an increase in the cylinder bores on early 221s from 3.5″ to 3.8″ on the 260 and the later standardization to 4″ bores on later engines. The 289 was also fitted with larger valves than found in the earlier small blocks. The photo above shows a 289 Windsor V8 sitting smartly in the engine bay of 1965 Mustang.

In 1962-63 the gross horsepower rating of the 221 engine was only 145 HP. With the introduction of the 289 in 1963, horsepower jumped to 195 HP with a 2-barrel carburetor and 225 HP with the 4-barrel. The 289 engine pushed horsepower ratings to 271 HP in 1965 which required the addition of many heavy-duty factory parts, including different cylinder heads, bigger valves and smaller combustion chambers. This high performance version of the 289 is informally known as a 289 “HiPo” or K-Code engine, which was available for the following Ford years and makes:  Ford Fairlane starting in 1963 and the Ford Mustang starting in 1964.

Carol Shelby used the 289 K-Code engine as the base for his GT 350. The Shelbys were rated at 306 HP by using a larger carburetor, high-rise intake and less restrictive exhaust. In 1966, High-Performance Models of the Mustang were also fitted with 289 HP engines as an option.

In 1968 the stroke was increased by using shorter connecting rods increasing displacement to 302 cubic inches (5.0 liters). This engine was used in Ford products through 1995. In 1968 , 2 and 4 barrel version of the 302 were also available. 302’s found there way into Shelby GT 350 in 1968.

The 351 Windsor officially debuted in 1969 and 4 barrel versions of the 302 were subsequently dropped. By 1971 emissions regulations began robbing horsepower from the once mighty small block. With reduced compression ratios and the addition of mechanical smog devices, the 302 managed to only pony-up 140 HP in 1975. In the mid to late 70’s, small block performance stagnated among factory built 302’s.

Ford introduced the “High Output” 302 in 1982, sparking new interest in Ford small block racing. Throttle Body Fuel Injection came in 1984 and Sequential Electronic Fuel Injection in 1986. As computers started taking-over control of emissions and fuel injection systems in the early 1980s, horsepower gains would become regular feature of the 302 for it’s remaining years.

As mentioned earlier, 1969 introduced the 351W engine rated at 250 HP with a 2 barrel and 290 HP with the 4 barrel. The 351W has a taller deck height to increase the stroke. While all 289, 302 and 351 Windsor’s share a 4″ bore, the 351W engine has many changes that set it apart from other Windsor engines. The intake, heads, pushrods, block height, and firing order are just a few of the more notable differences between the 351W and other 4″ bore Windsor engines.

Another variant of the small block Windsor is the Boss 302. These engines where built as Ford’s entrance into Trans-Am road racing. SCCA racing rules required that at least 1,000 production vehicles were to be fitted with the Boss 302 in order to qualify for the event. Boss 302’s used a standard 302 Windsor engine block, but are fitted with cylinder heads from the 351 Cleveland. This and other improvements set it apart from the standard 302.

Even though the Windsor engines no longer adorn today’s Ford production vehicles, the aftermarket offers enthusiasts a long list of specialty parts made especially for the 5.0-liter engines.