Saturday, December 2, 2017

1968 Volkswagen Beetle

Unlike the '59 we spotted in Georgetown, this Beetle has a speedometer and a gas gauge.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Ford Pinto Roundup: Our Most Explosive Post Ever!

Yeehaw! Howdy pardners! Let's corral them Pintos, but don't you ride 'em too close unless you want a facefull of burning gasoline! Yessir, the Pinto was right at the top of the list of American cars of the 1970s that caused folks to switch to imports and never look back.

The "exploding Pinto" story is a long and complicated one, but here's a short summary from Time: "The Ford Pinto was a famously bad automobile, but worse still might be Ford's handling of the safety concerns surrounding the '70s-era subcompact. Before the car ever reached the market, concerns emerged that a rear-end collision might cause the Pinto to blow up — the positioning of the fuel tank sparked fears it could be punctured in a crash and cause a fire or an explosion. But instead of fixing the Pinto's design, Ford, in a bit of morbid calculus, determined it would be cheaper to settle any lawsuits resulting from the Pinto's flaws. After several lawsuits and criminal charges (Ford was eventually found not guilty), the automaker recalled 1.5 million Pintos in 1978, retrofitting the fuel-tank assembly with additional protections to prevent the Pinto from going up in flames."

While the above summary is more or less accurate, many have noted that the accusations made against the Pinto may have been wildly inflated. From "the total number of Pinto fires, out of 2 million cars and 10 years of production, stalled at 27. It was no more than any other vehicle."

The three Pintos pictured below are a 1972 Runabout, a 1971 wagon and a 1979 hatchback. Besides the hatchback and wagon pictured, the Pinto was also available as a "Cruising Wagon" that included one of those small round windows you often saw on conversion vans in the 70s.

I'm of course curious what would motivate anyone to go to the trouble and expense of keeping these cars on the road. When it comes to what folks find endearing in vintage cars, to each his own I guess. But in the case of the last Pinto, I really have to wonder, at least about the original owner. What would drive a person to spend their hard-earned money on a new Pinto after the exploding gas tank controversy came to light?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

1964 Sunbeam Alpine

You may remember it as the car that Max drove in Get Smart!. The British-made Alpine managed to produce 93 horsepower from an engine of only 105 cubic inches. But that of course was not enough for anything considered a sports car in the US, so in 1964 Carol Shelby began selling them here with Ford V-8s as the Sunbeam Tiger. Shelby also put Ford V-8s into the legendary AC Cobra.

Last July, we also saw a Sumbeam Imp.