1980 Renault Alpine A310

Today’s post comes from another guest poster, my good friend Dan who may have slightly lost his mind and bought this insane rear-engined French rally machine.

The A310 was the successor to the A110 and ran from 1971-84. It has the honor of sharing it’s PRV powertrain with another rare rear-engined vehicle, the DeLorean.  It was also penned by one of my favorite French designers, Robert Opron of Citröen SM fame.

Found through the excellent Bringatrailer.com his example isn’t museum quality, but Dan is ready for the task of maintaining and making this one his own. Nice find!

You can follow his progress on Dan’s Tumblr page here.

AMC Rambler American Station Wagon (330 trim, 3rd Generation 1964-69)

Today’s post comes is another dose of car culture thanks to Shahin of Paykan Hunter

This fascinating find would be rare in the States, but is even more interesting since this American happens to be in Iran. Shahin was able to chat with the owner and learned some interesting details; the car was owned by a former US Embassy staffer, and is (most likely) the only one of it’s kind in the country.

On top of that, here’s a little bit of trivia: from 1966-74 the Rambler was assembled in Iran for domestic use. They didn’t use the name, but rather rebadged them Aria and, coincidentally, Shahin to denote trim levels. 

Seen in Iran

Land Rover Series III LWB (1971-85)

First and foremost I have to apologize for neglecting the blog for some time now. Truth is I have a fair excuse, having just returned from climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. Fitting that today’s post is a Portland based Series III with an (implied) African connection. I’ve seen this Series III around town, but never parked.  It has a great deal of accessories, including the cool tropical roof (to deflect heat). Did it really travel the whole of Africa, or the Amazon, as it’s Camel Trophy sticker implies?  No idea, but it’s missing the characteristic snorkel intake I witnessed on so many Land Rovers in Tanzania.  Either way, it’s a beautiful vehicle.

Seen in NW Portland

Fiat 124 Spyder (2000, 1979-83)

Strange, how a “timeless” design can be treated in such a way that the era of it’s creation is instantly identifiable.  Take a sleek 1960’s silhouette add some graphics and custom wheels and suddenly we’re in 1980.  

I’ve covered a more classic example but I couldn’t resist cataloging this larger displacement model with subtle updates, including a much loved one finger door handle.

Desipte the Atari-age graphics and other period details, you can’t ignore the 2.0L engine and fuel injection were welcome benefits over its predecessors.

Seen in NW Portland.

1973 Plymouth Fury (5th Generation, 1969-73)

The Fury was billed as Plymouth’s sporty full size model throughout it’s existence, though 1973 marked the end of the fun, as it’s muscle car era front end was replaced with a conservative grille and fixed double rounds. 

There are still a few details that help it avoid accountant status, however. The single backup light and recessed tail lamps, the two tone paint (though my guess was that it was originally a landau), and of course the distinct “Fuselage” styling of the rear quarter. 

The ‘73 was a big departure from the aggressive and eccentric models that came before it. A conservative and refined car for the post muscle car generation. Was it better? Probably not, but let’s appreciate it for what it was because they only got worse.

Seen in SE Portland

International Harvester B 120 Pickup (1959-61)

This is something of an oddity in the International timeline, the B 120 was neither as stylish as the quintessential ’50s A series that it replaced, nor the modern C series that came shortly after.  

A true working class truck, the 120 offered International’s first ever V8 in a pickup, perhaps to keep up with competition, or perhaps just to give the massive truck enough power to get up to cruising speed. This one, though well used, looks great with its period winch and some massive horns.

A nice find in SE Portland 

Toyota Corolla Coupe (E31, 1974-81)

While I’ve covered the wagon previously, the coupe is nice in its own right (despite not having classy faux wood trim).  Simple lines and the rear quarter panel detailing are well executed.

If you were in the market for one of these, the coupe was probably the least useful of Corolla configurations. The hatchback offered more storage for your junk, the sedan was better for your friends, and the wagon was the best of both worlds. This little coupe seems to have been the definition of simplicity and frugality. That being said, it still has a sunroof.

Seen in SE Portland

Mitsubishi Galant (Fifth Generation, 1988-90)

In the scramble for Japanese dominance of the US automotive market in the late 1980’s, I always feel like Mitsubishi is forgotten about. Tangled up in the DSM joint venture, it seems like there are less Galants of this era out there than say, Cressidas, Accords, or even Datsun 810s.

This 5th generation was short lived, being replaced by the much more popular 6th gen, which was oddly sold alongside this model for two of its three model years. To me, it seems like this car must have been a stopgap, since it’s actually just a rebadged Sapporo; the most luxurious of Mitusbishi’s offerings overseas. That being said, it’s really less of a Galant and more so the beginnings for the more prestigious Diamante.

Regardless of what it was, my opinion is that it became like many of Mitsubishi’s US offerings, a well appointed, comfortable third party candidate.

Seen in SE Portland

Shahin, Paykan Hunter & New York Times

Shahin Armin (pictured above) has been one of this little project’s biggest supporter. The enthusiasm he had for what I was doing has probably kept me doing it, honestly.  At the time his blog was already a great success and inspired me to keep going.

Anyways, Shahin as taken it to the next level by going and getting himself published in the NYT for his ongoing project celebrating Iran’s automotive history. Talk about inspirational. Congrats Shahin!

Lincoln Continental Mark III (1969-71)

Based on it’s Thunderbird cousin, this massive Aqua Poly colored Continental is well preserved in the desert air of Palm Springs.

The Mark III was Lincoln’s first real attempt at beating out it’s Cadillac competitor, the El Dorado. While it never really did, the car had great success and became the template for the even larger Continentals of the ’70s and 80’s.  

Big, heavy and soft, the Continental is the definition of vintage American luxury. With a huge V8 pulling 2.5 tons of sheet metal around, It fits right in among the post modern homes and long stretches of desert highway.

Seen in Palm Springs, CA

Citroën XM (Series 2, 1994-2000)

Well, I went to Paris and all I got was pictures of this one car (to be fair I was there for work).  Disappointing, but the XM is probably one of my favorite modern Citroëns, ever since I saw it in that awesome Ronin car chase scene.

Regarded as one of “the last true Citroëns”, the XM was styled by Bertone, with a long low hood and quirky angular rear proportions that echoed it’s CX predecessor. It also retained the classic hydraulic suspension, something that I am sure is just another thing to worry about, but is so damn cool.

So, is it a DS or SM?  No, but I am sure if mechanically looked after these rust resistant XMs will be future collectors items. I just learned several of them were legally imported to the US from ‘91-97, something else to look out for…

Seen on a recent trip to Paris

Chevrolet Blazer Chalet + C/K Pickup (1976-77)

Another submission from my good friend abroad, Shahin of Paykan Hunter, this Blazer Chalet is an oddity…since the camper is attached to a Chevrolet C/K pickup and not a Blazer.

According to this site only 1500 Chalets were ever made.The fiberglass camper was a factory package, being assembled and semi-permanently mounted to your Blazer by Chinook Mobilodge in Washington State. With time and patience you can remove the fiberglass pop-up camper and install it into another vehicle,but you’d have to get creative. This owner has added a fiberglass section where the camper used to go over the roof on the Blazer, something I didn’t realize until I looked closely.

This mix of Chevy history was found in the strangest of places: Iran. Thanks again Shahin for sharing, and Nathalie Taleghani for the first photo.

Volvo 144 (1966-74, this is a ‘73-74)

Strange to think that the thoroughly modern 144 was first introduced way back in 1966, when the Amazon and PV Series were still rolling off the line, but that’s just the way Volvo works; the 240 Series ran well past its expiration date as well, produced alongside cars meant to replace them.

Good friends of mine have owned various 144 and 145s and there’s much to love about them. There is the emergency brake between the driver seat and the door in anticipation of a bench seat that never was developed, or the fact that you shifted through the first four gears using the floor mounted gearshift, but overdrive was engaged via a small column shift lever. Strange, but awesome.

Outside there is that long elegant grille that I wish was still a Volvo design cue, and that little stylized “V” trim on the C-pillar. Lastly there’s that fuel injection system which despite having it explained several times, is still a mystery to me. 

Seen in NE Portland

Subaru XT Turbo (1985-87)

Probably one of the most bizzare Subarus to make it to the US (even more so than the SVX, I’d say), the XT is one unique car. First and foremost the shape. The exterior’s wedge-like shape is definitely dated, but must have been great for aerodynamics, with designers going so far as to create flaps to seal the door handles.

Inside it was essentially an Atari on wheels with an asymmetric steering wheel, fighter jet inspired shifter and if you opted for the digital display you were essentially playing Pole Position as you drove.

Couple that to a turbocharged flat four, adjustable suspension and optional four-wheel drive and you have a spec sheet that no other manufacturer could come close to, even today.

Seen in the N. Portland neighborhood of St, Johns

First Generation Ford Falcon 2-Door Station Wagon (1960-63)

There are few automobile configurations as perplexing to me as the two-door station wagon. How frustrating must it be to have all of that storage and passenger carrying capacity, yet make it so hard to access it by removing two of the side doors.

Don’t get me wrong, I find it quite attractive. Perhaps they were popular with the dads not yet ready to look like they dove head on into a family cruiser. Or the hobbyist woodworker that didn’t quite need a truck, choosing the wagon for its enclosed storage area. Or maybe it was driven off the lot simply because four doors tend to clutter any design.

Regardless, this Falcon stirs up nostalgia for a time in which I never lived. A time when it was actually possible to make a business case for a two-door wagon. A time when a little bit of irrationality was what made things cool.

Seen in the N Portland neighborhood of St. Johns