Tag: Matt Litwin

Which Last-gasp Orphan Brand Car Would You Choose for Your Dream Garage? – Matt Litwin @Hemmings

Which Last-gasp Orphan Brand Car Would You Choose for Your Dream Garage? – Matt Litwin @Hemmings

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One of the aspects of the auto industry we gearheads love to “armchair quarterback” is the demise of brands during the postwar era. Some were planned, many were not. And while we have the benefit of hindsight and tactful study, back in the day management bet on a hunch, optimism, and a clever sales pitch. So, in this week’s This or That window shopping exercise, let’s take a look at a quartette of the more memorable – good, bad, or indifferent – makes and models that were one of the last offerings before a brand’s demise, all of which are currently available in the Hemmings classifieds. So, which one would you take home this week?

1957 HUDSON HORNET CUSTOM SEDAN

Price new: $3,011 (Today’s currency: $30,416)

There were two significant mergers during the Fifties, the first being the January 1954 union of Nash and Hudson, which became the foundation of American Motors Corporation. Volumes have been written about the fiscal pros and cons behind the scenes, all while the separate brands continued to develop models over the next few years. After ’56, though, management dropped three Hudson series—Rambler, Wasp, and Hornet Special, 11 models in total—leaving only the the Hornet Super and Custom series available through AMC’s dealer network in 1957, including this Hornet Custom sedan, which would prove to be the most popular model after attaining 1,256 buyers. That low number was due to production ceasing on October 25. In total, just 4,108 Hudsons were built (including exports), despite several “new” advances touted by the division. From the seller’s description:

Presenting well in Tri-color White, Gotham Grey and Red with reupholstered red, grey, and black interior. Originally equipped with Hudson/AMC 327/255HP Overhead valve V-8 motor mated to an optional column shift Automatic transmission. Generously equipped with Power Brakes, Power steering, optional Radio, and Parkomatic A/C. This Hornet shows well with nice paint finish and re-chromed bumpers and grill work. Has operating center emblem light, dual side mirrors, sound trunk floor and undercarriage. Short comings include door handle finish and A/C compressor removed and intact coming with vehicle purchase. Recent Service including: Engine out; Resealing of Engine; Cleaning and Repainting of Engine; Oil Change; Coolant Flush; Belts; Flush gas tank and clean out inside; Spark Plugs; Plug Wires; Ignition Coil; Motor Mounts; Rebuilt Holley Carb; New Battery; Rebuilt brake booster; Exhaust Manifold Gaskets; Fuel Pump Gasket; Fuel Filter; Battery Cables

Price$42,500LocationSarasota, FLAvailabilityAvailable

1958 PACKARD 58L HARDTOP COUPE

Price new: $3,262 (Today’s currency: $32,023)We can’t discuss mergers without bringing up the 1955 announcement pertaining to Studebaker and Packard. Here again, entire libraries could be filled with the vast assessments of the union that were penned decades later. Suffice it to say, it didn’t fare so well for Packard by the time the thinly veiled ’57 models were announced. Damage control did no better, which pitched the ’58 models – such as this 58L hardtop coupe – as a mid-year line, complete with a very identifiable front end that eventually attained a fishy nickname. Arguably a styling flop, total Packard output numbered 2,622 units, including 675 hardtop coupes. From the seller’s description:

Complete restoration including the engine, transmission, drive- train, interior and exterior. Rare, gorgeous car from the dry Nevada desert; Vintage Air Conditioning; Rebuilt 289 V-8 motor; two-speed Flight-O-Matic transmission; red with tan leather exterior trim and a beautiful gray and tweed interior; power steering; power disc brakes up front; brand new tires; 12 Volt system; Edelbrock carburetor; new exhaust; new gas tank; super straight gorgeous body; beautifully reupholstered interior; new carpet; JVC sound system; tons Of receipts included; extra parts, plaques and awards included.

Price$28,750LocationWest Babylon, NYAvailabilityAvailable

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Which $40,000-or-less Convertible Would You Choose for Your Dream Garage? – Matt Litwin @Hemmings

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It’s official: Geese are migrating north, bees are buzzing about, and the early buds on the trees are all telling us – here in the Northeast, anyway – that spring is truly on our doorstep. Sure, there may be a little leftover frost to contend with yet, but sunny days are nearing nonetheless. Which means it’s time to dream about warm weather cruising, and what finer way to do so then at the helm of a convertible? In our latest edition of This or That, we’ve upped the dream garage price ceiling to $40,000 to bring forth a wider selection of what were originally mid-range drop-top rides, all of which are currently available in the Hemmings classifieds. You know the drill: Which one would you take home this week?

1948 CHRYSLER WINDSOR

Price new: $2,434 (Today’s currency: $29,000)Let’s begin this week’s venture in the late Forties, when manufacturers could sell anything on wheels in the blink of an eye, despite what some might consider already-outdated styling. It explains, in part, why Chrysler didn’t make any appreciable visual changes to its line of cars through 1948, as depicted by this Windsor convertible trimmed out with the “Highlander” upholstery option. From 1946 until the debut of the new ’49s, Chrysler built 11,200 Windsor two-door convertibles; it was the third-most-popular body style in the series behind the 161,139 four-door sedans and 26,482 Club coupes. From the seller’s description:

Highlander convertible; great condition; very nice paint; great looking chrome; like new interior; 250-cu.in. inline six engine; great condition car

Price$35,950Locationst-jerome, QCAvailabilityAvailable

1948 PACKARD SUPER 8 VICTORIA

Price new: $3,250 (Today’s currency: $38,723)While Chrysler was preparing to tool up with revised bodies to be debuted in 1949, independent automaker Packard had already redesigned its “Twenty-Second Series” line of cars that were unveiled in 1948, among them this midrange Super 8 Victoria Convertible Coupe. The old pontoon-style front fenders that flowed into the front doors were replaced outright; clean, slab-sided styling was in vogue. Similarly, the tall, narrow grille, while retaining a traditional Packard shape, was considerably more compact. All-new to the postwar Packard family was the Victoria convertible, which found 4,700 buyers in 1948, along with another 4,250 a year later. From the seller’s description:

Stock eight-cylinder engine with three-speed manual transmission. This is an older restoration that still shows very well. Runs and drives great!

Price$30,900LocationUtica, OHAvailabilityAvailable

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Which $20,000-or-Less Malaise-Era Four-Door Would You Choose for Your Dream Garage? – Matt Litwin @Hemmings

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Like a kid in a candy store, we’re zipping our way around a vast, virtual car market that is the Hemmings Classifieds. In our latest edition of This or That, we’re circling around to a specific asking price point between $10,000 and $20,000, this time rounding up four-door hardtops and sedans from the 1970s that are currently available in the Hemmings classifieds. We’ve mentioned this plenty of times before, but for those new to this game, the good news about a $20k cap is that it offers options in good condition (even in our inflated market). So, given the money and space, which one would you take home?

1973 OLDSMOBILE NINETY-EIGHT LUXURY SEDAN

With exception of the Toronado, Oldsmobile’s Ninety-Eight (or, 98) continued its reign as the division’s top-of-the-line series for 1973, now offered in five body styles, including this four-door Ninety-Eight Luxury Sedan. Bested in fine accoutrements by only the Ninety-Eight Regency, the hardtop’s lengthy listed of standard features included – but were not limited to – a 275-hp 455-cu.in. engine, Turbo Hydra-Matic transmission, power steering, power front disc brakes, power windows, bench seats finished in “luxurious Bravo cloth with Morocceen trim” upholstery, windshield antenna, and more, all strapped to a 127-inch wheelbase chassis that cost $5,234 (or $34,335 in today’s currency). Olds built 21,896 four-door Luxury Sedans that year, making it the second most popular car within the Ninety-Eight series. From the seller’s description:

Talk about Old School Cool, once you see it, you won’t be able to walk away. Often turned into low-riders, or used for cruising or hopping, this car has the potential for it all. However, it’s perfect as is… a car that your Father drove and swore it was the best car ever. Finished in Honey Beige with Black 60/40 cloth upholstery, the looks are sure to get the town talking. Drive this one home now, it’s ready to go, in close to perfect condition. Solid body, chassis and drive train. Everything works and was a central part of an estate collection. Do you want to win car show trophies or just take the family out for an ice cream? Pile em’ and go. This car is an amazing drive that you don’t want to miss out on.

Price$18,500LocationCampbellsville, KYAvailability Available

1974 CHRYSLER NEW YORKER BROUGHAM SEDAN

Like the Olds Ninety-Eight, Chrysler’s New Yorker Brougham was bested only by the Imperial in terms of divisional luxury hierarchy by the time our featured 1974 four-door Brougham sedan was sold to its first owner. The Brougham’s mechanical DNA was identical to that of its base New Yorker sibling, meaning it was fitted with a 230-hp 440-cu.in. engine, TorqueFlite automatic transmission, torsion bar front suspension, power disc brakes, power steering, and 15-inch wheels, yet the Brougham also benefitted from the installation of power windows, plusher 50/50 front bench seat with additional arm rests, upscale trim, and a few other bits, all for a standard base price of $6,479 (or $39,099 in today’s currency). While pillared four-door sedans sold exceptionally well in the entry-level Newport and Newport Custom series, the pillared four-door New Yorker Brougham flopped: just 4,533 examples were built. From the seller’s description:

This highly desirable top of the line 1974 Chrysler New Yorker Brougham has only 50,500 miles! Highly optioned with the iconic big-block 440 four-barrel V-8, three-speed 727 TorqueFlite automatic, power steering, power disc brakes, working air conditioning, power windows, locks, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, vinyl top, factory AM/FM stereo, 50/50 power bench seat with dual armrests, etc. The body’s finished in Lucerne Blue Iridium, and is super straight rust free both top and bottom. All lights are in working order, the trunk trunk and engine compartment look like new. This car drives as good as it looks, and is guaranteed to draw attention. The 1974 models were the last full-size models Chrysler designed from the ground up, and one of the last to receive the big dog 440 V-8. Here’s your chance to own one at a very affordable price!

Price$12,950LocationMaple Lake, MNAvailability Available

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The well-planned purchase of a 1969 Mercury Cougar turned into five decades of family car memories. – Matt Litwin @Hemmings

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Mercury, it seemed, was in the habit of being the division that never truly fit where it was intended. Throughout much of its existence, it was perceived as either a plush Ford or a baby Lincoln, and Dearborn’s front office never really helped change the public opinion along the way. That’s not to say there weren’t a few valiant efforts during the Fifties and early Sixties. However, if there was ever a moment when Mercury stood out as intended, it was when the division announced the arrival of the Cougar for 1967.

Rather than simply giving the Mustang a facelift, Mercury designers reimagined the platform by creating a new foundation that was both longer and wider, coupled with a suspension tuned for a spirited, yet discerning buyer. Power was derived not from a six-cylinder, but rather a 200-hp 289-cu.in. V-8 issued as standard equipment. Stylists crafted a body tinged with European influences, with elegant, narrow wrap-around front and rear bumpers, finely contoured flanks, and larger sail panels emphasizing its coupe style. Cougar also got hidden headlamps and broad taillamps (with sequential turn signals) that reflected the design of the front end. Interiors were outfitted with vinyl bucket seats, plush carpeting, and a three-spoke “sport style” steering wheel. In effect, the Cougar was a harmonious blend of Thunderbird’s personal luxury accoutrements with Mustang’s agility and adaptable performance

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As one of several new “pony cars” to emerge on the market at that time, the Cougar was a resounding success in its first year, attracting 123,672 buyers. If that weren’t enough, 27,221 more sprung for the mid-year release of the modestly fancier Cougar XR-7. Among those 150,800-plus buyers was Brooks Baldwin, then a recent college graduate who was living with her three girlfriends in Indianapolis, Indiana.“As we were graduating, the other girls purchased Mustangs. However, my father, Tom, was a salesman at C.R. Barkman Lincoln-Mercury, which was in nearby Rochester, so naturally I ended up buying a new Cougar instead. It was painted Lime Frost and had a black vinyl top, with a black interior, and my boyfriend Bill Thompson and I enjoyed driving around the area. It was also a perfect car for my commute,” Brooks remembers.

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Why the 1971-’73 Mustang Is My Preferred Pony – Matt Litwin @Hemmings

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By Matt Litwin from December 2021 issue of Muscle Machines



In This ArticleCategory: Hemmings Classic CarDuring the 2018 AACA Fall Meet, I had the unexpected pleasure of spending some time with retired Ford stylist Gale Halderman, who has since sadly passed away. If you’re not familiar with the name, Gale began his employment at Ford Motor Company in 1954, but within a decade the otherwise unassuming employee was thrust into a path of what would prove to be automotive greatness, at least in the eyes of today’s classic car enthusiasts. It started when Gale submitted his early sports car concept sketch — one of what turned out to be a field of 24 such renderings — to project planners for review. Gale’s drawing struck a chord, and he was subsequently selected by Lee Iacocca, special projects manager Hal Sperlich, and Ford studio chief Joe Oros to oversee the design of a new car that was eventually named Mustang.

Gale’s time with the Mustang didn’t stop with the smashing success of its first year on the market. He was destined to serve as the car’s design chief for another eight years, and his advances led to the development of the 1965 2+2 fastback and 1967 SportsRoof. In 1968, Gale was promoted to director of the Lincoln-Mercury design studio, a stint in the luxury divisions that lasted less than a decade. Why? Who better to oversee the development of the Fox-platform Mustang — introduced in 1979 — than the designer responsible for “the original” pony car?

Despite creating a legacy of automotive design that should register with old car enthusiasts as easily as Darrin, Earl, and a host of others, Gale, it seemed to me, hovered below the radar and remained a humble Ford employee who was simply proud of being in the right place at the right time, throughout his career. You could hear it in his voice that fall afternoon, as he thoughtfully reflected on his time at Ford

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The Pontiac Grand Safari was a flagship station wagon hauling on in an era of downsizing – Matt Litwin @Hemmings

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By 1974, 5,000-plus-pound family cars were suddenly as impractical as the ol’ muscle car had been to newlyweds holding a freshly printed mortgage and a newborn baby just a few years earlier. Detuned as they were, the large-displacement—still a prevalent means of motivation within the market segment-remained incredibly thirsty. As a result, Pontiac’s full-size output fell to just under 145,500 cars in 1975, and only 137,216 were sold a year later.

Suffice it to say, Detroit needed a diet, and the automakers knew it well in advance thanks in large part to looming federal mandates. At GM, the first to be first slimmed down were the 1977 model-year full-size cars. Among them was Pontiac’s flagship station wagon—the Grand Safari.

The downsized wagon’s chassis was reduced from 127 inches to a svelte 115.9 inches. Much of the basic architecture, however, carried over from the previous generation: independent coil spring front suspension, rear leaf-sprung suspension, power steering, and power front disc brakes. Also included as a standard were FR78-15 radial tires that provided sure-footed control in all driving conditions.

The redesigned chassis cradled an equally new 5.0-liter (301-cu.in.) V-8 engine. It was more than the division’s new “economy” powerplant; rated for a rather capable 135 horsepower, the block, crankshaft, cylinder heads, and intake manifold—collectively—weighed 136 pounds less than the 350-cu.in. V-8. Factory literature touted the availability of a “new 6.6 litre (400/403 CID) V-8” on the Grand Safari’s option chart—technically a carryover engine revamped for ’77—that was rated for 180 or 200 hp. Californians could have opted for the 170-hp 350. A Turbo Hydra-Matic automatic was the only transmission available.

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The luxurious 1961 Ford Country Squire contributed to Dearborn’s dominance in the station wagon segment – Matt Litwin @Hemmings

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Without question, Ford was once America’s biggest builder of station wagons. From Ford’s station wagon debut in 1929 through 1960, the automaker sold 1,970,785 wagons in total. Concurrent to this family hauler’s rise in popularity, its market segment went from 2 percent of the U.S. industry in 1950 to 18 percent in ’59. It kept rising through ’61, thanks to Ford’s 256,597-unit output, including this Country Squire.

While use of “Country Squire” first surfaced in Ford’s 1950 ads, the emblems weren’t secured to sheetmetal until ’51. It instantly became the division’s top-tier wagon, furnished with equipment that was otherwise optional on lesser models. Further setting it apart, the Country Squire was adorned with faux wood paneling in homage to its origins without the expensive upkeep.

That exterior trim remained on the updated 1961 model, decorated with mahogany-look panels framed with fiberglass maple woodgrain strips. The rest mirrored the upscale Galaxie series, including the concave grille, crisp tailfins, and circular taillamps. Cabins were equally Galaxie-based and, for the first time, the Country Squire was offered with six- or nine-passenger seating.

Coachwork and cabin were supported by a 119-inch-wheelbase chassis, the critical element being Ford’s “Wide-Contoured Frame” that offered, “more flexible inner channels for less harshness and a more gentle ride.” Bolted to it was a “swept back, angle-poised ball-joint” front/rear leaf-spring suspension system. Hydraulic shocks, drum brakes, and 8.00 x 14 tires fitted to 6-inch-wide steel wheels completed the ensemble.

Country Squires came with a 135-hp, 223-cu.in. Mileage Maker Six, or the Thunderbird 292 V-8 rated for 175 hp—power from either was sent through a column-shifted three-speed manual. Two V-8 powerplants were optional, beginning with the Thunderbird 352 Special; its high-lift camshaft and 8.9:1 compression helped produce 220 hp. The other was the new-for-’61 Thunderbird 390 Special, which was essentially a fine-tuned 352 enlarged to 390-cu.in. Equipped with a true dual-exhaust system, higher 9.6:1 compression, and a Holley four-barrel carburetor, it made 300 hp.

A three-speed manual with overdrive was optional, as was the Ford-O-Matic two-speed automatic, available with all but the 390. So, too, was the Cruise-O-Matic “dual range” automatic, offered only against V-8 engines. Other options included power steering and brakes, A/C, radio, electric clock, hood ornament, spotlamp/mirror, and a power tailgate window.

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Which Eighties television hero vehicle would you choose for your dream garage? – Matt Litwin @Hemmings

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n our latest edition of This or That, we’re continuing our selection of hero cars, though this time from a 1980s small-screen perspective. One-hour action dramas were hardly new to television audiences; however, rather than the generic good guys versus bad guys, a la the Dragnet / Adam-12 style of story telling, writers, directors and producers – in most cases – took things to a whole new level of weeknight entertainment. Thus, once again we’ve picked four different rides from four different shows that debuted (with one exception) during the Reagan administration. Let’s take a look at this week’s big impact players, in order of appearance, all of which are currently available in the Hemmings classifieds.

1969 DODGE CHARGER SE

Though it made its debut in 1979, the Dukes of Hazzard was a staple of early Eighties television; save for the delayed start of the fifth season initiated when Tom Wopat and John Schneider – disenchanted with scripts, salaries and royalties – opted to walk out in protest. They were famously replaced by Byron Cherry (as Coy Duke) and Christopher Mayer (as Vance Duke). Bo and Luke were explained as having joined the NASCAR circuit; a laughable situation considering their probation for peddling moonshine was a direct violation of the famed stock car governing body’s rule book. Ratings plummeted, and 19 episodes later Tom and John were back in action. Ratings recovered, but only slightly. The one constant, of course, was the 1969 Dodge Charger – such as this example for sale – that arguably was the biggest star of the show, which ended in 1986. It’s no secret that a couple hundred were callously destroyed in the making of the Dukes. As to our featured example, portions of the seller’s listing states:

Original Window Sticker, Broadcast Sheet, Build Sheet. Original 383 Car, has the original engine. Has paperwork on car with receipts and other items added to car. Painted Light Green Metallic, Hood mounted turn signals, roof drip rail moldings, newer green vinyl roof, dual outside mirrors, window moldings, felt and rubber, tinted glass, door handles, gas cap, taillights and trim, backup lights, front & rear bumpers and bumper guards, headlight doors, grill, antenna, wiper arms, side marker lights all look great. Original rims with BF Goodrich radial T/A white letter tires. The interior is the Original Green on bucket seats with headrest, back seats, door panels, arm rest with bases, back side panels, door handles, window cranks, rearview mirror, Woodgrain on gauge cluster, Factory AM/FM radio. Factory A/C vents in dash, Pioneer AM/FM/CD/XM radio mounted in glove box with remote. Factory console with woodgrain. Green headliner and Sunvisor’s, seat belt and shoulder belts. Door sill plates, dark green Carpet, black carpeted floor mats. Package tray, all factory gauges and clock. Powered by a 440 engine that has been rebuilt, 727 Torque Flite transmission that is automatic. Weiand intake, Edelbrock carb, original air cleaner is chrome. Chrome oil breather, stock exhaust manifolds, power steering, power front disc brakes. Rear drum brakes, dual exhaust with stainless tips. Factory A/C.

1983 PONTIAC TRANS AM

The Eights delivered a new array of technology to mainstream America. Artificial intelligence, wider use of digital equipment, and sleek aerodynamic automotive designs all came together in one tidy package called KITT (or Knight Industries Two Thousand), a highly modified, third-gen 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am developed for the use of Foundation for Law and Government (FLAG) field agent Michael Knight, formerly known as police Detective Lieutenant Michael Arthur Long in the opening segment of the 1982 pilot episode of Knight Rider. Unlike this 1983 Pontiac Trans Am for sale, reportedly the studio built the initial KITT at the cost of $100,000, which included the car’s iconic side-to-side light beam in the nose cone, apparently modelled after the the Cylons’ light beam in Battlestar Galactica. Equipped with an array of surveillance cameras, bulletproof shielding, a security system, remote communication devices, insane turbo boosters, autonomous driving mode and the ability to fly like a certain orange General, it’s really no wonder Knight Rider was an instant hit. All good things come to an end – or at least the original series – which lasted through 1986. According to portions of the seller’s listing:

t’s only showing just over 1,300 miles; clean Carfax with no accidents. It’s of course a numbers matching car; All the lines flow perfectly down the sides and the fit of all the panels is equally impressive with every gap being even and symmetrical. This is a factory Bright Red car that has clearly been garage stored and kept polished to a mirror finish; this car is factory rear hatch car with T-Tops. Every piece of glass in this ’83 checks out to be original. This Trans AM was factory ordered with the rear spoiler that’s done in black. It also has the Black Side Trim, Lower Black Accents and the black grill that really makes the Bright Red pop. To finish off the exterior it’s sitting on the original 14” Finned Cast Aluminum Wheels with Uniroyal White Letter Tires. On the inside it’s done in the factory Two Tone Charcoal interior with Black Accents; All the door panels are in excellent condition; the dash shows no signs of sun abuse or any damage. It comes with factory AC that blows cold and even the original radio is still in it; has the factory steering wheel and does come with cruise and tilt wheel. The center console is in excellent condition. Under the hood it’s powered by the matching numbers 305 V8 engine dressed in the original valve covers and air cleaner that seals to the Power Bulge Hood. The V8 is mated to the Matching Numbers 700R Automatic Trans and 10 Bolt Rear End with 3.23 Gears. It comes with Front Disc Brakes and Rear Drums.

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1960-’61 Chrysler 300F & 300G Buyer’s Guide – Matt Litwin @Hemmings

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The original “businessman’s hot rod” combined a racing pedigree with luxury trimmings

When people boasted of the performance of Chrysler-branded automobiles during the postwar years, it was usually in reference to the cars’ mechanical prowess: smooth and reliable, just like a luxury vehicle should be. Naturally, powerful acceleration was a key element, but it was intended to make premium models more capable on the road, and not meant for speed contests. The corporation’s other divisions were better equipped to manage a young buyer’s stoplight-sprint antics.

Part of that perspective changed when the division released the C-300 in 1955. Fitted with the 300-hp, 331-cu.in. “FirePower” V-8 capable of pushing it to a top speed of 130 mph, the specially trimmed hardtop coupe broke the mold while redefining the parameters of a luxury coupe. Adventurous CEOs could feel the excitement of raw power while seated in a luxurious cabin, surrounded by coachwork that spoke of edgy—yet not audacious — exclusivity. And it was exclusive: Just 1,725 were built in the first year, each costing $4,110 (or $40,095 today) without options.

More compelling was how the C-300 began to cement its legacy beyond the boulevard. Trimmed for racing, it utterly dominated the NASCAR and AAA stock car ranks, which continued a year later with the updated 300B. For 1957, the 300C set a notable production car speed record at Daytona Beach before the Chrysler division took a bow and left the business of racing to Dodge and Plymouth, prior to the AMA embargo.

Although the on-track exploits may have been put to rest, the exclusive “Letter Cars” remained in production, continuously improved both visually and mechanically. The model’s evolution took a significant leap forward when the 300F was introduced in 1960, the basic elements of which carried through to the 300G of ’61, with attributes that not only set these cars apart from their predecessors but have attracted both collectors and vintage-car driving enthusiasts alike since. If you’ve been considering the purchase of one, here are some things you should be aware of

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Which hero car from these four car-chase cult classics would you choose for your dream garage? – Matt Litwin @Hemmings

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In our latest edition of This or That, we’re continuing our selection of movie cars, though with a bit of a twist. Rather than focus our attention on a single film, we’ve carefully picked four different rides from four different movies released in the Seventies. Hero cars, if you will, that may or may not have been “hero cars” by the very basic definition. And rather than offer a few of the obvious, here are four that are iconic yet may have you thinking twice. Let’s take a look at this week’s platter of power, all of which are currently available in the Hemmings classifieds.

1970 Dodge Challenger R/T

Released in 1971, Vanishing Point gets little ink outside of top-10-car-chase lists, but those who know, know. It’s been a car cult classic for decades. If you’re not familiar with the film, the main character – Kowalski, portrayed by Barry Newman – is a hired gun who delivers cars across the country; the latest in his long resume that is unveiled during flashbacks throughout the movie. After dropping off an Imperial in Denver, Colorado, Kowalski is tasked with transporting what is supposed to be a supercharged 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T, similar to this example for sale, to San Francisco, California, within 48 hours. Even then, it probably wasn’t an impossible task, but Kowalski bets that he can make it before Sunday night, which sets off a Desert Southwest chase. While the Dodge meets an inglorious end, the seller of our featured example states:

This 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T has been highly maintained and has only 81,000 original miles. This Challenger is in excellent condition. This vehicle is original and unrestored. The car has had some exterior paint (in its original HEMI orange) at some point in its life, but it looks great and is very honest. This car drives excellent and is very tight. Has the original style Goodyear Polyglass tires. The interior is in amazing condition. Vintage Air conditioning installed.

1966 Chevrolet Impala

More than one car chase movie has started with some sort of heist, and the 1974 release of Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry was no exception. In this case, it’s a $150,000 haul from a local supermarket executed by NASCAR hopeful Larry Rayder (Peter Fonda) and mechanic pal Deke Sommers (Adam Roarke). Helping their escape plan is a four-door 1966 Chevrolet Impala, similar to our featured example, along with Larry’s former one-night stand, Mary Coombs (Susan George). Pursued by local authorities, the trio ultimately ditch the Impala for a more thrifty 1969 Dodge Charger R/T conveniently commandeered at a flea market. It’s another cult classic with an inglorious ending, whereas portions of the seller’s listing of our featured Chevy states:

Sitting right in the fat part of the affordability-versus-condition curve is this handsome 4-door hardtop, featuring low ‘believed-actual’ miles on the body, a strong-running 283 V-8, and a classic White-over-Red color combination…Fortunately, this Imp has clearly lived an easy life by the looks of the sheetmetal, and with a believed actual mileage of just over 36K, it’s obvious it was only driven on special occasions. It is a survivor finish though, so there’s some light patina and minor surface rust to consider…The sheetmetal is still straight, with good gaps and body lines…All the correct brightwork and trim is still intact and in decent shape…The front bench seat cover was replaced at some point since it’s all-vinyl, whereas the rear seat cover, door panels, headliner, and plush red carpets are all original Code 847 red cloth-and-vinyl spec…the original dash with bright red paint and aluminum panels is a wonderful complement of the exterior theme. The wide instrument panel shows crisp markings on the gauges, a retro-style AM/FM/AUX stereo was installed in the factory slot, and the factory A/C system is still in place, although it could use a R134a refrigerant charge (it has been converted) to blow cold again. The 283 V-8 under the hood may very well be the car’s original, but it’s been covered with years of dirt and grime so pulling a VIN stamp has proved difficult. It is correctly coded with a GF suffix code, and it remains completely stock…The 2-speed PowerGlide automatic transmission feeds the original 10-bolt rear end, which carries highway-friendly rear gears so it’s a fantastic cruiser.

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