Tag: Hagerty

Ute Culture: Ranchero, El Camino, Caballero, and Brat – Andrew Newton @Hagerty

Ute Culture: Ranchero, El Camino, Caballero, and Brat – Andrew Newton @Hagerty

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That’s utes, in this case, not youths, your honor.

The car-based pickup, also known as the “ute,” has always been a bit of an oddball. That’s certainly the case in the U.S., at least. Legend has it that in the mid-1930s, a farmer’s wife in Australia was tired of Down Under dust blowing into her Ford roadster pickup on the way to church. She requested one with a metal top and wind-up windows. It caught on, and the ute became an Australian automotive institution.

The concept has witnessed its peaks and valleys of popularity in North America. Utes can work pretty well as cars or trucks, but they’ve never really excelled at either task. During the muscle car years of the 1960s, high-powered utes held a certain appeal; they could hit the hardware store or tow a trailer and also dust commuter cars between stop lights. By the time the 1970s were underway, though, big performance was gone. Small, plucky pickups from the likes of Toyota were gaining favor. By the end of the 1980s, utes were a thing of the past on these shores. The oddball 2003–06 Subaru Baja is the only one we’ve had since.

Although we’ve written at length about the mustache muscle phenomenon, ’80s cars, and vintage trucks, we haven’t checked in on the market for this last gasp of car-based pickups. So here’s the lowdown on three domestic utes, plus one famous Japanese upstart.

(As a side note for you Mopar maniacs, we didn’t forget about the short-lived 1982–84 Dodge Rampage/Plymouth Scamp. We just don’t track them in our price guide because of insufficient data; there really aren’t many left and they hardly pop up for sale.)

Ford Ranchero (1972–76, 1977–79)

Despite the ute’s Australian roots going back to the 1930s, this clever concept didn’t come to America in full force until more than 20 years later—with the 1957 Ford Ranchero (which means, you guessed it, “Rancher” in Spanish).

“More Than A Car! More Than A Truck!” the Ford ads exclaimed. And though the Ranchero morphed quite a bit over the years, moving from a full-sized platform to the compact Falcon and back up to the Torino and finally the LTD II, it always combined the good looks and occasional sportiness of a car with the utility of a pickup.

By 1972, though, the sixth-generation Ranchero started to gain that early ’70s bulk, and its most prominent design cue was the gaping semi-oval grille it shared with the Torino. Engines started with a 250-cubic inch six, but myriad V-8 options included a 302, Cleveland and Windsor 351s, a new 400-cubic-inch V-8, and a 429. That year also marked the change from gross to net horsepower ratings, so even the two biggest V-8s technically only pumped out 168 and 205 horsepower, respectively, while the hottest Ranchero of the mid-’70s emissions era was the 1974, 4-barrel 351 with 255 hp.

The 1973 Ranchero sprouted bigger 5-mph bumpers, while 1974 brought a new 460-cu-in, 220-hp V-8, and 1975 brought catalytic converters. Trim for the 1974–76 Ranchero included the 500, the GT, the 500 GT, and the woodgrain-wearing Squire.

The final-gen 1977–79 Ranchero got downsized and shared its platform with the mid-size LTD II, abandoning coke-bottle contours for a more squared-off appearance and stacked rectangular headlights. There were three V-8s available (302-, 351-, and 400-cubic inches), all with two-barrel carburetion, and three trim levels (500, GT, and Squire). Ford read the tea leaves and saw that the brighter future in the American market was with compact pickups rather than car-based utes. The company pivoted in that direction, starting with the Mazda-built Ford Courier and ultimately replacing that with the home-grown Ranger. Ford hasn’t sold a ute here in the States since.

As they transitioned to become classics, late Rancheros have quietly but consistently crept up in value—less than many classic trucks but more than most malaise-era cars. The median-condition #2 (Excellent) value for a 1972–76 Ranchero is $20,900, up 101 percent over the past 10 years. Naturally, those with the hottest engines and highest trim command the most money, but driver-quality cars can still be had in the mid-teens.

The 1977–79 Ranchero is cheaper still, and though the median condition #2 value is up 81 percent over the past decade, it’s still just $15,700. Some #3 driver-quality values are in the four-figure range. The most we’ve seen somebody pay for a stock Ranchero of either of these generations is $37,500, and that happened back in 2015. Buyer interest for Rancheros of this era also skews slightly older than the collector car market as a whole, so there isn’t an infusion of younger enthusiasts snatching these up. Malaise era Rancheros also have a natural buffer in that they’ll never be worth more than the sexier, faster, earlier versions from the muscle car era.

Chevrolet El Camino (1973-77, 1978-87)

Ask the average person on the street to name a car-based pickup, and chances are they’ll either look at you funny and walk away or answer “El Camino.” It’s the American ute that lasted the longest, sold the best, and spawned the most memorable offerings.

The GM ute’s origins have a familiar story: like with the Mustang and Bronco, Ford’s Ranchero tapped into a fresh segment of the market, forcing GM to play catch-up with a version of its own. The El Camino (Spanish for “the way” or “the path”) arrived in 1959, two years after the Ford. After some initial success, sales plummeted in 1960 and Chevrolet discontinued the model, only to revive it for 1964. From 1964–77 it was based on the Chevelle, and from 1978–87 it shared the GM A- and G-body platform with the Malibu and Monte CarloOlds CutlassBuick Regal, and others.

The 1973 model year brought GM’s all-new “Colonnade” look for its mid-size cars. As with the Ranchero, this was the largest era of El Camino, with big bumpers and larger overall dimensions despite shrinking performance. Engines for the 1973-77 generation ranged from the base 307/115-hp 2-barrel V-8 up to 400- and 454-cubic-inch V-8s. The SS, as always, was the sporty option and could be had with either the 350 or 454, but only made up about 10 percent of production in most years.

A new El Camino arrived for 1978 with slimmed-down looks and smaller engines, with Chevrolet or (in California) Buick V-6s at the bottom and 305- or 350-cubic inch small-blocks at the top. The SS continued as the sporty offering, while other special models included the two-tone Conquista as well as the Black Knight/Royal Knight, which were appearances had enough stripes and winged hood decals to give a screaming chicken Trans Am a run for its money. There was also a 1983–87 Choo Choo Customs El Camino—a spiced up SS built by a Chattanooga aftermarket shop. The Choo Choo packages added sportier wheels and mirrors, a Monte Carlo SS polyurethane nose and, of course, decals. The El Camino was even available with the efficient but unreliable Oldsmobile diesel engine, but chances of finding one of those today are slim.

Obviously, these later El Caminos lack the classic status of their tire-spinning descendants from the ’60s and early ’70s, but they’re a way to get a distinctive, relatively practical and fun old car for cheap. The median condition #2 value for both generations is still under $20K despite a spike over the past two years, and all #3 values are under $15K. Expect to pay more for the bigger engines and for loud and proud paint schemes like the Royal/Black Knights or Choo Choo SS. As with the Ranchero, buyer interest for the malaise era El Camino skews slightly older and the serious money chases the high-spec cars from the ’60s, so these will likely always be attainable classics.

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Each generation’s favourite classic cars – David Zenlea @Hagerty

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Want to know something kids today can’t get enough of? Dogs. Especially really cute ones with sad eyes. Gen-Zers are also into—get this—hot drinks on cold days. Some like cilantro, but others hate it. Spend enough time on TikTok and you’ll get the sense that many teens—gosh, this is so weird—crave the approval and affection of others.

OK, I’ll stop. My point, in case all that wasn’t obvious enough, is that lots of people tend to be into lots of the same stuff, regardless of age. The ballyhooed “generation gap,” although grounded in certain realities of our fast-changing world, is largely a figment of marketers’ imagination.

Hagerty’s demographic data tell a similar story. When someone calls us about insurance on a particular car, we ask for basic details like their age. Since we get thousands upon thousands of these calls every year, we have a pretty solid sense of what enthusiasts in each age group are into. Turns out that whether the caller is 16 or 101 (actual ages of our youngest and oldest callers) there’s a really good chance they’re asking about a Chevrolet Corvette or Ford Mustang.

Of course, there are differences, and we’ll get into some of them below. In the interest of presenting a fuller picture, I’ve shown two metrics for each generation—first, the vehicles that age group calls about the most, and second, the cars for which it represents the highest percentage of interest. The latter metric helps us spot trends early on but it also, in isolation, can be very deceiving. For instance, looking solely at generational share, you’ll see that Gen-Z represents 44 percent of insurance quotes for the 1989–1994 Nissan Laurel. Woah! Before you start filling warehouses with the JDM sedans, though, perhaps I should tell you the raw total of calls that represents: 24. In contrast, some five thousand kiddos called us about Mustangs. (Note: In the interest of avoiding such misrepresentations, I have in the sections below excluded vehicles for which we received fewer than 100 calls from a particular age group.)

Read on to see what each generation craves, but don’t forget the key takeaway: What we share in common far outweighs what separates us.

Pre-baby boomer (1920–1945)

Most-called-about vehicle: 1928–1931 Ford Model A

Highest share of calls: 1950-1953 MG TD

These shouldn’t surprise anyone. Not only are both cars, um, old, but they’re also the two archetypes of the attainable classics favored by younger generations. In the Ford Model A, we have a passenger car that, due to its ubiquity, charisma, and association with a time and a place, found its way into enthusiasts’ hearts. The MG TD, meanwhile, was the sports car that made Americans love sports cars—every Corvette, Miata, and Boxster produced owes it a small debt.

On that note, we all owe a debt to these older collectors. They founded the car-collector hobby and, to a large extent, created car culture as we know it in this country. The greasers who popularized hot rodding, the tweed-wearing East Coasters who brought over British roadsters, our pantheon of American racing greats, including Phil Hill, Carroll Shelby, Dan Gurney, and Mario Andretti—all of them hail from the generation born before 1945, and all continue to resonate today.

This generation also continues to throw a lot of weight around the collector car market. Although its ranks, sadly, are thinning, pre-baby boomers are still more numerous in our insurance quote data than 

Baby boomers (1946–1964)

Most called-about vehicle: 1972–1984 Chevrolet Corvette

Highest share of calls: 1969-1976 Triumph TR6

If you’re reading this article, based on our stats, you’re likely a baby boomer. For all the obsession with the growing youth contingent, baby boomers still represent the lion’s share of interest in cars: Nearly four out of every ten people who called Hagerty for a quote on insurance in the past year come from that generation. This is to a large extent a by-product of wealth—baby boomers control more than 50 percent of it in the United States, per the Federal Reserve—yet there’s no denying that the generation which came of age in the 1960s has a unique connection to the automobile.

When it comes to what these enthusiasts crave most, there’s no contest. It’s all about Corvette. The most-produced Vette, the 1972–1984 C3, naturally tops the list, but the C2, C4, and C5 all make the top ten.

What sets American baby boomer enthusiasts apart, however, is their fascination with British sports cars. The folks who grew up with The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and The Who have a special relationship with the cars from that country. Four out of the ten cars for which Baby Boomers represent the highest share of insurance quotes are Brits, topped by the venerable Triumph TR6.

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Girl Power: Send your carburetor to Riley’s Rebuilds, the teenage tuners – Steven Cole Smith @Hagerty

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A gated neighborhood in an upscale Tampa suburb is a strange place to send your carburetors for rebuilding. The shop sits in the three-car garage of a lovely home, alongside a similarly lovely turquoise 1957 Chevrolet Nomad wagon. There is a long table with some chairs, and a workbench is parked next to a couple of soda blasters. All is lit by florescent bulbs overhead.

This the modest domain of Riley’s Rebuilds, a carburetor rebuilding service headed by Riley Schlick.

Riley is a 17-year-old girl: A surfing, skating, soccer-playing, Jeep-driving high school senior. Four of her high school friends, all girls, have learned to rebuild carburetors too, rounding out the staff of Riley’s Rebuilds. Ship them your worn-out carburetor, and they’ll ship it back soda-blasted, ultrasonic-cleaned and rebuilt to original specifications.

On what planet is this happening?

Here on Earth, actually, where a girl with a screwdriver, a drill, and some wrenches can earn “really good money,” Riley says. Her father, Dane, is an amateur mechanic. That’s his Nomad, which he’s had for about 15 years, and he also has a much-modified Dodge Little Red Wagon pickup that he drag races. He’s the one who taught Riley how to rebuild carbs, and she taught her friends, and now they all have part-time jobs “that pay us well,” Riley says. “For teenagers, anyway. So much better than minimum wage.”

Riley has always been interested in cars, starting out “holding the flashlight for my dad.” When she was 14, she told her parents, who are both in the medical field, that she wanted to buy a car that she could rebuild, getting it ready for when she was old enough to drive. Her parents said it needed to have a manual transmission, not go above 80 mph, and have a real roll bar. The logical answer was a manual-transmission, four-cylinder Jeep.

To buy it, she needed a job, and the only place that would hire a 14-year-old is a local grocery chain. No, her father said, we’re going to go out in the garage and figure out a way to make money. Hence the carburetor rebuilding operation, which has been in business for three years.

“I made the money to buy the Jeep in three or four months,” Riley says. They bought seats, wheels, tires, a new transmission, and had it painted in a “Jurassic Park” livery. She kept rebuilding carbs to pay for all that, and when it was done, she kind of eased off on Riley’s Rebuilds. But then she totaled out her friend’s Honda Civic, “and I had to pay for that—$10,000.” So it was carburetor game on again, and it hasn’t slowed. She’s saving money for college, even though she already has a scholarship offer to play soccer, which she does three or four nights a week.

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12 Detroit luxury cars that died on the show floor – Ronnie Schreiber @Hagerty

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For what seems like decades, American car enthusiasts have clamored for domestic automakers to make a serious effort to compete in the luxury-car segment. Brands such as Cadillac, Lincoln, and Imperial pretty much invented the full-size luxury sedan, but those U.S. brands have long since yielded to the German and Japanese. It has, in fact, been decades since Toyota upset the automotive apple cart with the Lexus LS400 in 1990.

Finally, Cadillac has accepted the challenge—and raised its sights even higher. Revealed in concept form last week, the $300,000 Celestiq leapfrogs the Lexus LSMercedes-Benz S-Class, and BMW 7 Series to challenge Rolls-Royce and Bentley. Caddy’s battery-powered flagship will be handbuilt to customer specification at GM’s Tech Center in Warren, Michigan.

Of course, Detroit has tried to step into the ring multiple times since the LS400. In the past twenty years, the Big Three debuted a number of promising luxury concepts that positive reactions from consumers, dealers, and the automotive press. If not ready for immediate production, most looked quite feasible—that is, if C-suite executives had the guts. On second thought, perhaps that’s unfair to the people running the domestic automakers. As attractive as these cars were to enthusiasts, by the time some of them would have come to market, the business case had evaporated.

We’ll never know whether these high-class studies would have succeeded, but we can wonder, can’t we? Here are 12 concept luxury cars introduced by the American automakers that never made it off the display stand. While a couple of them might be better described as supercars, I think it’s safe to say that anything with a projected retail price in the six figures is a luxury item.

2001 Lincoln MK9

The Lincoln MK9 was introduced at the New York Auto Show in 2001, at a time when Lincoln decided to imitate European luxury automakers’ penchant for alphanumeric designations, as opposed to model names. The problem was that Lincoln chose a combination of letters and numbers that evoked some giants in its history: the Continental Mark series, starting with the landmark Mark II in 1956, through the then-recently retired Mark VIII, last sold in 1998. One would think that the MK9 would at least be pronounced “Mark Nine,” thus positioning the two-door as a descendant of the Mark III personal luxury coupe—but no. Lincoln brand managers insisted the ongoing pronunciation of MK branded vehicles would be “Em Kay.”  Were they embarrassed by the big land barges of the 1970s and ’80s?

The MK9 rode on a stretched version Ford’s DEW98 platform, which was also the basis of the Lincoln LS, 2003 Ford Thunderbird, and the Jaguar S Type. The traditional, rear-wheel-drive platform had independent rear suspension with coil springs at all four corners. The exterior styling, by Gerry McGovern, who later headed Land Rover’s design department, features a long hood fronted by Lincoln’s waterfall grille (then a defining characteristic) with a big star in the middle. In general, the MK9 tried to reimagine the classic ’61 Continental and its long, bladed fenders and belt line for the 21st century. A chrome trim line running most of the length of the car gave it a retro touch, complemented by supposedly functional vents behind the front wheels, flush aluminum door handles, and 22-inch ten-spoke alloys.

The MK9’s interior was trimmed in chocolate brown, with lipstick red leather and brushed aluminum. An aluminum console cascaded down the dashboard, flowing the length of the passenger cabin. In the early 2000s, lacquered wood finishes were quite popular with luxury automakers. The MK9 sports dark cherry wood floors and a white leather headliner with fiber optics that lit up like a starry nighttime sky. The seats were modeled after the famous Eames Lounge Chair, designed by the influential husband and wife team of Charles and Ray Eames. The Eames met while attending the Cranbrook Academy of Art in suburban Detroit, taught there, and their work has been popular with the Detroit design community. Just as the Eames chair comes with a matching ottoman, the MK9’s red-upholstered front passenger seat boasts a foot rest trimmed in leather and aluminum

Since it was based on a production vehicle, the MK9 was fully functional. When Ford conducted one of its periodic auctions of concept vehicles to raise money for charity in 2010, the MK9 sold for an impressive $101,750.

2004 Lincoln Mark X

By 2004, Lincoln had reverted to traditional names, and the Roman numeric Mark X (pronounced “Mark 10”) debuted at the 2004 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. It was a convertible take on themes introduced with the Em Kay Nine.

Also based on the Thunderbird, the Mark X swapped the T-bird’s soft top and removeable hard top with a folding metal roof with a panoramic glass insert. The Mark X’s interior was, per Ford’s press release: “dressed in Lime Sorbet with white Corian accents, polished aluminum, dark chrome, natural grain leather seating surfaces, plush sheepskin flooring and tailored tone-on-tone stitching throughout. Its four-spoke, power-adjustable steering wheel also is leather wrapped.”

Lincoln chief of design Marek Reichman was responsible for the exterior design, which did riff on some of the MK9’s themes. The waterfall grille, however, was replaced with Lincoln’s new egg-crate affair, a throwback feature from the 1960s. The Mark X was shorter than the MK9 by more than a foot, and had slightly smaller, 21-inch chromed aluminum wheels. A functional vehicle but, like most modern concepts, not street-legal, the Mark X was powered by a 280-hp 3.9-liter DOHC V-8 paired with a five-speed automatic transmission.

While it was close to production-ready, the Mark X was born into the wrong time: Sales of the Thunderbird were waning, and Lincoln decided that the market was then ripe for a traditional, personal-luxury car.

Speaking of brandnomenclature, the Mark X was not the first time that name was used for a Lincoln concept, at least phonetically. In 1992, Lincoln showed the “Marque X” concept, a convertible based on the then-new Mark VIII.

The Mark X was sold by Ford at the same 2010 auction as the MK9 and, in a remarkable coincidence, it fetched the same $101,750 price. Four years later, it changed hands for $129,250.

2002 Lincoln Continental Concept

The end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st saw a wave of nostalgia sweep across the auto industry. Retro( more properly, “retrofuturism” was in), and modern cars adopted a vintage look. There was VW’s New Beetle, Chrysler’s PT Cruiser, and Ford’s reissue of the Thunderbird. The Lincoln Continental Concept introduced at the 2002 Los Angeles Auto Show fit nicely into that ethos, expressing the look of the classic 1961 Continental for a modern audience. Perhaps the most eye-catching homage was the suicide doors, which opened a full 90 degrees. One thing the ’61 Conti didn’t have but the ’02 concept did was a powered trunk lid that opened vertically on a parallelogram linkage. Beneath it, a bumper-level draw slid out to reveal a bespoke set of Zero Halliburton luggage.

The interior featured indirect fiber-optic lighting for the headliner and door panels along with the use of LEDs, features that have since proliferated throughout the automotive world

Apparently two versions of the ’02 Continental concept were made, a display-only “pushmobile” used at some car show and a fully functional vehicle powered by a 414-hp V-12 engine (created by mating two Duratec V-6s, a trick that showed up on other FoMoCo concepts of the era), with a six-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel disc brakes, multilink suspension front and rear, and 22-inch aluminum wheels. The static display car sold for $15,400 in 2010 and again in 2014 for $27,500. The functional concept sold for $56,100 at that same 2010 sale.

Responses from the public and press were almost uniformly positive, but it would be more than 10 years before Lincoln introduced a new Continental. Thankfully, when it did offer the new Conti, it was available in a coach (or “suicide”) door edition.

2007 Lincoln MKR

Revealed at the 2007 NAIAS in Detroit, the MKR, designed by a team led by Peter Horbury, was introduced at a time when the Mercedes-Benz CLS and other swoopy “four door coupes” were becoming popular. Powered by a twin-turbo, direct-injection 3.5 liter V-6 with 415 hp that introduced Ford and Lincoln’s TwinForce engine branding, the MKR was supposed to presage Lincoln’s new styling theme, billed as “elegant simplicity.”

Exterior design, headed by Gordon Platto, featured a high beltline with a chamfered surface that ran the length of the car, a cantilevered roof that transitioned to a wide C pillar, full-width horizontal taillights, upward swinging doors, and 10-spoke, chromed 21-inch wheels. The most dramatic exterior styling cues were yet another new grille—the split “bow wave,” said to be based on that of the classic 1940 Lincoln Continental Cabriolet—and an expansive glass roof that integrated a structural Lincoln star. The tread of the MKR’s custom Michelin tires also bears the Lincoln star.

It’s possible that Platto’s team settled on a glass roof to show off the impressive interior, promoted as “guilt-free” luxury, filled with premium amenities that were environmentally friendly. The instrument panel is made from a piece of recycled black oak that extends from left to right, flowing down into a two-level center console. Ice-blue ambient lighting illuminated the interior, which feature self-standing “floating” seats made with soy-based foam, glossy exterior shells, and upholstered with cashmere leather tanned in an environmentally conscious chromium-free process.

2003 Mercury Messenger

While it wasn’t branded as a Lincoln, I’m including the Mercury Messenger concept because a grand touring sports coupe could have been part of Lincoln’s portfolio. (Also because I think it’s a very handsome automobile and deserves attention.) “In my opinion, it’s as good looking as any Ferrari,” concept vehicle collector Joe Bortz, who owns the Messenger, says. “This car could’ve saved Mercury.”

The Messenger was supposed to send the message that moribund Mercury was about to undergo a rejuvenation. Unfortunately, the brand would die just seven years later

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12 parts you wish were still available for your car – Sajeev Mehta @Hagerty

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Odds are, every Hagerty reader either owns an older car or dreams of owning a vehicle that has clearly survived past the manufacturer’s intended expiration date. Many times these cars neither have a fully comprehensive aftermarket support system, nor do they have factory support on par with a late model vehicle’s overabundant supply of spare parts.

So we asked you, the Hagerty Community, what part you would consider a dream come true were you to find it for sale, and the answers were diverse and enlightening. Haven’t joined the Hagerty Community yet? You should consider registering, and getting in on the fun next time around! No matter, let’s see what part you wish was still available for your car.

Anything Zeta, everything Zeta

Perhaps this is low hanging fruit, as a large amount of parts for the GM Zeta platform were thin on the ground even when the Pontiac G8 (and Chevrolet Caprice) were new vehicles. I recall Caprice cop cars were parked waiting for parts to arrive from Australia even during the warranty period, and Hagerty Community user tabboo wishes everything GM discontinued for his 2009 Pontiac G8 GT would come back into local warehouses. While many parts are available if you can stomach the wait for international shipping, this is a very valid concern for all G8 owners.

Window “tape” for the Italian Cadillac

Hagerty Community user TG has a specific request for his Cadillac Allanté, looking for “the plastic ‘tape’ used by the power window mechanism.” As he states, the part used on a run-of-the-mill GM product is “about half an inch thinner.” Since the Allanté was about as bespoke a vehicle can be in the modern era, we wish TG all the luck in the world. That part will likely have to be rebuilt using the original part as a core for someone to conjur a workable replacement.

Speaking of rare Cadillacs…

Let’s stick with Cadillacs and discuss Hagerty Community member RobHarris’ concern. Rob needs a horn ring for a 1959 Cadillac, preferably one that is “much stronger than original.” Rob is also looking for cruise control-related parts that are priced for “an average consumer like me” which he knows is a big ask—parts with less than 1957 Chevrolet appeal will be expensive to scale, and have a limited audience. Or as he put it, “owning an expensive to restore car is not for average people.”

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Jeep trucks are bucking a common 4×4 price trend – Brandan Gillogly @Hagerty

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You’d have to be living under a sandstone outcropping in Moab to not notice that two-door 4×4 SUVs are among the hottest collectibles of the last decade or so. Led by the Ford Bronco, the classic two-door 4×4 SUV market has seemed to spur along the values of classic trucks as well.

As we explained in a story earlier this year in which we compared the values of wagon to their sedan counterparts, a longer roof is sometimes worth quite a bit more. We thought we might see the same when it came to pickups and their SUV relatives, so we asked James Hewitt, Hagerty Valuation Specialist, to run some numbers for us. The numbers mostly reflected our expectations, but there was one interesting surprise we saved for last.

1966–77 Ford Bronco

Whether it’s an uncut, all-original survivor or an orange-mocha-Frappuccino-seeking restomod, first-generation Ford Broncos are the king of the segment, with prices to match. In May of 2012, median #2 (Excellent) values for a first-gen Bronco and its contemporary F-100 pickup were separated by just four percent. By 2018, Bronco values had doubled while F-100 had barely moved.

Today, the median #2 (Excellent) Bronco is valued at $77,850—nearly five times its value from just ten years prior. Meanwhile, a 1967–1972 F-Series truck carries a #2 (Excellent) value of just less than half that, at $35,800. That’s a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison, as the Bronco was not based on the same full-size platform as the F-Series, but that generation of Ford full-size trucks has some off-road racing history of its own. The F-Series is establishing itself as a collectible in its own right thanks to its good looks and utility, as are plenty of other trucks from that era.

1969–72 Chevrolet C/K Blazer (K5)

The SUV premium looks just a bit lower when comparing a first-generation K5 Blazer to the same-year K10 pickup. Seeking to cash in on the growing SUV trend kicked off by International Harvester and Jeep, Chevy was working its own entrant before the Bronco was even on the market. After considering a smaller model to compete head-to-head with the Scout, Chevrolet decided to go full-size and base the Blazer on its existing pickup line. Those 1969–1972 K5s are rivaling the Bronco when it comes to value, as #2 (Excellent) versions of 1969 K5s are currently valued at $78,200 on average, when equipped with a 350 V-8. A similarly equipped K10 is valued at 45 percent less.

1974–80 Dodge Ramcharger

Mopar’s entry into the full-size SUV segment, Ramcharger, arrived in 1974, and, like GM’s K5 Chevy Blazer and GMC Jimmy, it featured a full-length removable hardtop. The Dodge doesn’t have quite the following of the K5, making it one of the best bargains in the full-size two-door SUV market—especially if open-air driving is a priority. Median #2 (Excellent) examples of 1974–1980 Ramchargers are valued at $32,950, which is double what they were just four years ago. Meanwhile, Dodge D/W Series pickups have also doubled but remain even more affordable, with a median #2 (Excellent) value of $24,000.

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Coming to America: Czech hot-rodders find their place in the sun – Lyn Woodward @Hagerty

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At 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday, in an industrial Southern California suburb a stone’s throw from Disneyland, the guttural rumble of a straight-eight thundered ever closer. Stanley Chavik arrived with the squeal of cross-ply tires, climbed out of his replica 1933 Buick Shafer 8 looking like a Viking headed to battle, then cracked a broad, gap-toothed smile. “Oh, I remember you.” Stanley’s thick Czech accent rolled over his respectable English, which he learned only four years ago. “Come in!”

Stanley hails from the Czech Republic, where his father and grandfather were both car guys. It was a pale yellow 1940s DeSoto, its bumper heavy with metal spikes for an Italian Mad Max knockoff called I Predatori Di Atlantide, that captured his attention. Stanley got hooked on American hot rods.

The internet nourished his hot-rod daydreams. He’d browse classic images from the likes of Gene Winfield, George Barris, and modern builders like Chip Foose. After opening his own welding and fabrication shop in the Czech town of Zlín in 2003, Stanley married Daisy, who applied her business savvy and determination to the venture.

European automotive regulations choked the Chaviks when it came to how they built their cars, but a ramshackle 1939 Buick he’d acquired made Stanley’s dreams manifest when he rebuilt it into a replica of a Shafer 8, inspired by Phil Shafer’s early Indy racers.

After the car’s completion, and much contemplation, the Chaviks packed up the Shafer 8, their U.S. E-2 visa for new businesses, and what money they had. The family, now three with the birth of their son, Stanley Jr., landed in California in late 2017.

Hot-Rod Chavik USA, in sunny Orange County, isn’t large—only about 2000 square feet, with three garage doors that roll skyward to the lofted ceiling. The space owns its Eastern European orderliness. Any color comes thanks to the candy-hued cars that roll in and out.

Upon arrival to the States, Stanley had to buy the cheapest tools he could afford from Home Depot. “We don’t do credit. When we have money, we buy tools,” Daisy says. Stanley does most of his shaping with a Pullmax and his hammers. “I stopped using the English wheel. I prefer a pummeling hammer,” he explains, as if the famous British machine were too delicate.

Aluminum has always been Stanley’s medium. Daisy revealed that he used to shape metal roses for the girls at school. “I like weapons, also,” Stanley interjects, slightly puffing his barreled chest lest I think he’s just a flower guy

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The wonders of the Chrysler Norseman lie shipwrecked in the Atlantic – Jeff Peek @Hagerty

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Chrysler Corp. archives

In the late-night hours of July 26, 1956, about 40 miles off the coast of Nantucket Island and nearing the end of its transatlantic journey from Italy to New York, the luxurious ocean liner SS Andrea Doria collided with another ship in heavy fog. Fifty-one people were killed, a number that would have been much higher had the Doria not remained afloat for 11 hours before it slipped below the water’s surface to its final resting place.

Considering the loss of life, less attention was given to the cargo that went down with the ship, but Chrysler Corporation quickly crafted a press release, matter-of-factly sharing the details of an “idea” car—the Norseman—that had been lost while making its way to America from Italian coachbuilder Carrozzeria Ghia.

Calling the car’s pillarless design “revolutionary,” the press release acknowledged that the Norseman “must be considered a complete loss.” And then, oddly, Chrysler shared that the car was “covered by insurance.” The New York Times reported that the automaker invested $200,000 into the project, the equivalent to $2.1 million today. What Chrysler didn’t say in its press release was that it could never recoup the time and effort that went into creating the four-door hardtop sedan: 50,000 hours of research and labor, two years in design, and another 15 months to build it. All gone, thanks to the the unfortunate confluence of bad weather and certain regrettable decisions.

SS Andrea Doria

Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

The SS Andrea Doria was a source of great national pride when it was launched in 1951. Named for a 16th-century Genoese admiral, it was considered the largest, fastest, and (supposedly) safest of all Italian ships when it took its maiden voyage in January 1953. The opulent 29,100-ton ship had a normal capacity of 1200 passengers and 500 crew, and it had successfully completed 50 transatlantic voyages when it left the port of Genoa on July 17, 1956—with 1706 on board—and headed west to New York City. In an odd coincidence with the more famous RMS Titanic, which sank in 1912 during what was to be Captain Edward Smith’s final turn at the helm before retirement, Cpt. Piero Calamai was taking his final tour on the Andrea Doria before moving to its sister ship, the SS Christopher Columbo.

Nine days into the journey across the Atlantic Ocean and less than 300 miles from New York, dense fog made it difficult to see beyond the bow. Regardless, Calamai maintained a speed of more than 20 knots in the heavily trafficked area while the ship’s crew became completely reliant on radar.

MS Stockholm

Meanwhile, the MS Stockholm, having recently left New York for Sweden, was fast approaching in the same shipping lane, heading east. The Stockholm, less than half the size of the Doria but designed with a reinforced ice-breaking bow, was also operating solely by radar due to the heavy fog.

Both ships were aware of the other as they drew closer, but it was later revealed that the Stockholm’s radar was set to a different range, so the Doria was actually closer to the Swedish ship than its crew realized. Nevertheless, it was Doria Cpt. Calamai’s decision to turn his ship to port—not starboard, in accordance with maritime rules—that proved fatal. With both ships turning in the same direction, the Stockholm struck the Doria at an almost 90-degree angle.

Chrysler Norseman

Chrysler Corp. Archives

Below deck was the Norseman. Designed by Chrysler’s engineering division and built by Ghia, Chrysler claimed the concept “incorporated more structural, chassis, electrical, and styling innovations than any other ‘idea’ car every designed by Chrysler.”

The automaker’s press release added:

“Although the car was intended to have as great structural strength as today’s automobiles, it had no posts or pillars to support the roof. This was accomplished by means of structural cantilever arch, which curved upward from the rear of the frame and over the passenger compartment of the car.

“Glass surrounding the passenger compartment was uninterrupted, with the exception of the two arches of steel curving upward in the rear. In addition, there was a 12-square-foot panel of glass in the rook that was power operated and slid forward, leaving the roof over the rear seat open.

“All major body panels on the car were made of aluminum, as a result of research in advanced structural techniques to reduce weight. It had a sharply sloping hoof, unswept tail fins, and a covered, smooth underbody for aerodynamic efficiency.”

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Disassembling our 1993 Jeep XJ engine – Hagerty

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Last week you saw us pull in our most recent shop addition, a 1993 Jeep XJ with a 4.0L. Davin got it all pulled out and this week he wasted no time tearing into it. Things went fairly quickly as the pieces flew off this straight-six. Davin had his detective hat on as he uncovered a little more about this engine with every bit removed. You never know what you’re going to discover.

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GN34: The fastest Ford the world never saw – Steve Saxty @Hagerty

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It was billed as Ford vs Ferrari: Round Two, with a new Detroit supercar to take on Maranello’s finest. So what happened to GN34, the secret prototype that could have wowed the world? Steve Saxty, a former Ford product designer and author of Secret Fords, takes you inside the hidden world of the canceled supercar.

The Ford GT40 might have crushed Ferrari on the track in the Sixties, but twenty years later Ferrari and Porsche were winning the sales race for highly profitable sports cars—and Ford had no answer.

Or at least, that was the perceived wisdom. Behind the scenes at Ford, a crack team of product planners and engineers were putting their heads together in response to growing numbers of buyers with money to burn on sports cars and luxury models, which were bursting with profit if you played your cards right.

Since the start of the Eighties, Ford had been pondering how it could enter the sports car market with a Ferrari rival costing Corvette money. By the end of October 1983, some of the brightest brains in the company had pulled together a strategic paper that set out the case for a world-class supercar and tackled the thorny issue of how to circumvent the company’s corporate culture that was tuned to conceptualizing and building mass market, everyday cars. At the time, even the Mustang was limping along on just four cylinders.

The Detroit product planners ran the numbers; there was money to be made and an obvious place to start looking for it. They reached out to Ford’s Special Vehicle Operations group (SVO), the performance division ultimately responsible for the turbocharged Mustang SVO. (The department’s equivalent in the U.K. was the British Special Vehicle Engineering group that created the Capri Injection and Sierra Cosworth.) SVO consisted of a 30-strong team of engineers, planners and marketers led by Mike Kranefuss, Ford’s competitions manager who had successfully campaigned the Cologne Capris against the BMW Batmobiles a few years before moving stateside.

Kranefuss was a racer through and through, unused to making road cars, but after his young team created the highly regarded Mustang SVO, it was clear that they could move far faster than Ford’s huge, but lumbering, engineering team. SVO were perfect for the job; an internationally-minded group of Ford mavericks familiar with the external resources necessary to assemble a Ferrari rival sold at a Corvette or Porsche 944 price.

Kranefuss’s 30-strong team, aided by its 46-year-old Chief Engineer Glen Lyall and abetted by 36-year-old Planning/Program Manager Ronald Muccioli leapt at the chance. “For us it was more than a job and another product, it was our dream.” SVO took on the supercar project, now dubbed GN34.

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