Archive for September, 2014

Continuing from my last post, but hopefully with a more measured and sane state of mind, I’d like to come back to car shows. Specifically, a few types of cars that might be overlooked as potential show cars. Yeah, we’d all love to be the guy that rolls in driving a chopped Merc or a 440-equipped Dodge Charger. But a lot of us can’t afford or just plain can’t find a car like that…so here are a few cars that don’t quite fit the traditional hot rod mold, but are interesting enough to get attention and foot traffic at any car show- and most of them can still be had under ten grand.

Nash Metropolitan (1954-1962)

NashMetTruly a strange car in its day, the Metropolitan (built in Britain and marketed under a variety of American Motors marques) managed to flout the current fashion of building ever larger and more extravagant cars while still having a very streamlined, 50’s-friendly design. While today it’s not unusual to see a small car like a Chevy Spark or a Smart FourTwo on the road, in the atomic age it was strange to see. The compact Metropolitan can always reliably turn heads and get people talking. 

AMC Gremlin (1970-1978)

GremlinWhile it is notoriously ugly, the famed Gremlin is a distinctive-looking car that may qualify as a cult classic. Either way, you’re guaranteed to get people looking at the oddly-proportioned car. Add to this that the engine bay is large enough to easily mount a powerful V8 engine and you can take it from economy car to street rod with a little bit of work. Love it or hate it, the Gremlin never fails to get people’s attention. 

Willys Jeepster (1948-1950)

JeepsterThe original Army Jeeps of World War II made a huge impact, and after the war Willys continued producing both the original vehicle and trucks, wagons, and other cars based on the simple but rugged features and go-anywhere attitude the G.I.s had come to depend on. Most interesting of these was the Jeepster, a drop-top that doesn’t look out of place on the beach, in the desert, or cruising old Route 66. The Jeepster is an attractive, eye-catching classic that can still go just about anywhere and do whatever you want.

Side note: The Jeepster name was revived in 1966 for the Jeepster Commando, a more off-road centered take on the concept. 

Studebaker Champion (1950-1951)

StudebakerThe Studebaker Champion entered the 1950’s with a stunning bullet-nosed style that immediately differentiated itself from many of the more conservative-looking entries on the market. This style only made it for two years before Studebaker began to move toward a less outrageous look. It’s a bold car that maybe went wild a little too far ahead of when the futuristic fashions of the late 50’s came into style.

Volkswagen Karmann Ghia (1954-1974)

KarmannGhiaSharing a lot of its underpinnings with the universally well-known VW Beetle, the Karmann Ghia has a lot going for it. It’s stylish, bridging the gap between the common lineage of VW and Porsche, as well as retaining most of the Beetle’s solid and easy to work with (and readily available) mechanical parts. Offered as both a coupe and convertible, there are enough decent Karmann Ghias out there going at a reasonable price that they make an attractive project car that you can easily use as a daily driver. 

Advertisements