Chrysler-Plymouth had a pretty good lineup of full-size muscle cars in the 60s, and today the Super Bee is one of the hardest to come by. The Super Bee was a hot-rodded version of the Coronet two-door, only around for two years; its name came from the Coronet’s B-body designation. While similar to the Plymouth Road Runner, the Super Bee featured a special graphics package and a dashboard/instrument cluster borrowed from the Dodge Charger.
The base engine for the Super Bee was the 335 horsepower 383 V8, with the 425 horsepower 426 Hemi available as an option (only 125 were sold). The Super Bee also featured a beefed-up suspension, high-performance tires and optional Mopar 4-speed transmission. One of the car’s more novel features was the &l ...[more]Read More
Something about the mid-size B-body Dodge/Plymouth cars has always held an appeal; their no-frills appearance called to mind a muscle car version of a highway patrol car. In ’68, Plymouth already had the GTX , based on the Satellite two-door, but they felt the need for a stripped-down counterpart to the more upscale GTX. Their goal: a car that could run a 14-second quarter mile and sell for under $3000.
Chrysler paid $50,000 to Warner Brothers for the name and likeness of Wile E. Coyote’s nemesis the Road Runner (as well as $10,000 to engineer a “beep beep” horn), and the Road Runner was born. The no-frills Road Runner had a plain-jane cloth-and-vinyl bench seat and rubber floor mats; its base engine was the 335-hp 383 V8. For an extra $714, you could get the Road Runner with the 425-hp ...[more]Read More
Henry Ford wasn’t the first out of the gate with automobiles and the internal-combustion engine – Daimler had a jump on that in the late 19th century – but Ford was definitely the first to see the potential of mass production, mass marketing, and the economy of scale that could make cars affordable for the middle class.
On July 15, 1903, Ford Motor Company took its first order, for an $850 two-cylinder Model A with a “tonneau,” or back seat. Manufactured at Ford’s early Mack Street plant in Detroit, the car was delivered to its new owner, a Chicago dentist, about a week later.
Ford had been working as chief engineer at Detroit’s Edison Illuminating Company plant when he designed and built his first car, the Quadricycle, in 1896. By 1903, he had lined up the investors and financing to fo ...[more]Read More
Engineer/architect Buckminster Fuller was a true early-20th-century eccentric, perhaps best known for his geodesic dome and semi-prefab Dymaxion House, which could be assembled on-site almost anywhere.
In the 1920s, Fuller began drawing up his Dymaxion Car (the name is a mashup of “dynamic,” “maximum” and “ion”). The first sketches were pure left-field stuff, with a teardrop design, a single tail fin and a third wheel that was intended to lift off the ground at speed. After some redesigns, Fuller set up a production facility for the Dymaxion in an old Locomobile automotive factory in Connecticut. The first Dymaxion was produced on July 12, 1933, with a steel frame and a body made of curved ash wood panels with an aluminum skin and painted canvas roof.
The Dymaxion was projected to to ...[more]Read More
With the introduction of the 240Z, Datsun changed the sports-car world by introducing a serious, good-looking true sports car with Japanese reliability and practicality. Sold in Japan as the Nissan Fairlady, the 240Z was an instant hit in the US, with a 2.4 liter single-overhead-cam inline 6 that put out 151 horsepower. Equipped with a four-speed manual transmission, the 240Z could sprint to 60 mph in 8.0 seconds and top out at 125 mph, while getting 21 mpg on the highway.
The two-seater 240Z was fairly sophisticated mechanically, with MacPherson struts in front and 4-wheel independent suspension and twin Hitachi side-draft carburetors. It also undercut the prices of its competitors from Jaguar, Porsche and BMW, making it a popular seller in the US, and was a solid performer on the rally and ...[more]Read More
Few cars are as recognizable as the Jaguar E-Type, with its sleek lines, long hood and elegant profile. It’s a model that’s so renowned that Enzo Ferrari called it “the most beautiful car ever made,” and The Daily Telegraph put it on their list of the 100 most beautiful cars of all time.
The E-Type got its start back in ’57, based around the highly successful dual-overhead-cam XK straight-six engine. By ’61, the Series 1 XKE was ready to go, with a 3.8 liter three-carburetor version of the XK6 engine putting out 265 horsepower, for a top speed of 150 mph and a 0-60 time of around seven seconds. The XKE was mechanically advanced, with an independent coil spring rear suspension and torsion bar front end; it was also one of the first cars to f ...[more]Read More
Ferrari Dino models may not have the cachet of their exotic models; named after Enzo Ferrari’s son Dino, the name represents Ferrari’s attempt to brand a relatively low-cost sports car. The 246 GT and GTS, produced from ’69 to ’74, was designed with a dual-overhead-cam 2.4 liter V6; in a 2,425 lb car, the 195 horsepower engine meant a 150-mph top speed, with 0-60 in about 6 seconds or so.
Of course, “low-cost” is relative…as is performance! The Dino 246 GT was a solid performer against its contemporaries like the Porsche 911S, Fiat Dino or the Citroen SM, and had a respectable production run of 3,569 cars over its five years. The V6 was a winner, making its way into other Italian performance cars such as the Lancia Stratos.Read More
The ’64 Aston Martin DB5 is going to be familiar to any fan of the early James Bond movies – Sean Connery was behind the wheel of a DB5 in “Goldfinger,” a role that made it “the most famous car in the world” at the time. The real-life DB5 was almost as exotic as its Bond-movie counterpart, minus all the weaponry and gadgets; standard equipment on the DB5 included a magnesium-alloy body, a 282 horsepower 4-liter aluminum inline six engine, wool pile carpets, reclining seats, power windows, an oil cooler and even a fire extinguisher. The 2 + 2 coupe was available with a five-speed manual transmission or Borg-Warner automatic, with a 145 mph top speed and 0-60 times of around eight seconds. The DB5 Vantage was a high-performance version of the DB5, with three Weber carburetors and a revised camshaft, producing 315 horsepower. &n ...[more]Read More
The 300SL name has been in the Mercedes stable for a long time, but the 50s-era Gull Wing models may be the best known, and for good reason. Along with the distinctive gull-wing doors, the 300SL had the world’s fastest top speed for its day and was the first car to offer fuel injection for consumer models.
The 300SL was an offshoot of the 1952 W194 race car, with “300” referring to its 3.0-liter engine and SL standing for “Sport Light.” The 300SL featured a tubular steel chassis for balance of strength and light weight. It was this frame that made the gull-wing doors necessary, with part of the chassis passing through the area where the lower half of a standard door would be. Without the gull-wing design, the 300SL would have been awkward to get in and out of; a tilt-away steering column wa ...[more]Read More
Produced from ’66 to ’72, the mid-engine two-seater Lamborghini Miura was the fastest production road car available in its day. It didn’t come cheap – its $20k pricetag would come out to well over $100k in today’s dollars – but it was the state-of-the-art in its day.
The Miura featured a 3.9 liter V12 that produced 350 horsepower, with sheet metal that was only 0.9mm thick for a curb weight that was well under 3000 lbs. The result was a top speed of 174 mph, but the tall gearing meant a quarter-mile in over 14 seconds and 0-60 in about 6.5 seconds. It hardly mattered, though; Lamborghini Miura drivers weren’t likely to be drag-racing Detroit muscle cars anyway.
The Miura’s swoopy, aerodynamic body style was the very definition of an exotic car for the day, and ...[more]Read More