Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Random Car Wednesday: 1990 Laforza 5-Liter

There's a difference between rare and obscure. A Mercedes 300SL Gullwing is rare, but chances are you're familiar with it. But some vehicles, like today's RCW, seem to fly well under the radar. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Laforza 5-Liter. Born in 1984 as the Rayton-Fissore Magnum 4x4, this Iveco-derived all-terrain SUV was meant to offer a combination of rugged capability and refined luxury. The idea is comparable with the original Range Rover, or the Mercedes G-Wagen. It wasn't until 1988 that the Magnum made its way to the US, where it adopted the Laforza name. Despite being produced up until 2003, the Laforza never really caught on with buyers, falling in amongst marques like Eagle or Merkur. That's a shame, because there was some real potential in this oddball Italian SUV. The chassis was a modified version of an Iveco unit, built for use in medium-duty army vehicles. Other underpinnings came from Iveco as well, such as the suspension and brakes. These truck-grade parts meant the Laforza was built to last, and was very versatile. It also came with a Ford 5.0 V8, hence the name "Laforza 5-Liter". The American powerplant leant reliability and ease of maintenance to the equation, making this SUV relatively practical. Finally, there's the design. It's oddly generic, like something you'd see in a Matchbox playset or a video game. It's not ugly by any means, but it's not really exciting either. The word "refined" seems most appropriate. It's handsome but not overdone. Like it or not, the Laforza never really caught on. More than likely it was the lack of a well-established manufacturer. The same thing happened to Tucker and DMC. Nowadays, these are very uncommon, so it was a nice treat to see one up close. Especially considering the fact that I may not see another.

1990 Laforza 5-Liter

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Random Car Wednesday: 1975 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale

Today's RCW is a bit short, but the same certainly can't be said for the car itself. This is a 1975 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale Convertible. For a vehicle with only two doors, this thing is colossal. The mammoth 124-inch wheelbase and 4595-pound curb weight give you an idea of this car's size. Power was derived from a 350 or 450 cubic inch Rocket V8. The Delta 88 Royale was meant to be the perfect luxury cruising machine. Attractive design, comfortable interior and excellent ride were the main targets for the car, and it hit every one. Now, gas mileage and practicality? Not so much. It's bigger than most garages or parking spaces. Driving one in the city is almost impossible. However, on a nice open road the Royale makes sense. Put the top down, find a good radio station, and let the road take you away. Sometimes it's just that simple.

1975 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale Convertible

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Random Car Wednesday: 1966 Chevrolet C-10

Pickup trucks are typically viewed as utilitarian vehicles. They appeal to farmers or construction workers, or really anybody who requires a vehicle that can take a lot of abuse and move objects of varying shape, size and quantity. However, classic pickups are becoming more collectible, and are popular vehicles to modify or restore. Many are still being used as dependable workhorses, but others, such as today's RCW, are well-cared-for show cars. This particular pickup is a 1966 Chevrolet C-10. It has the Fleetside bed as opposed to the iconic Stepside design, and is looking very sharp in a lovely shade of red. There are no badges to indicate what engine this Chevy has, but this generation of C-10 was offered with a slew of inline-6 motors, as well as one V6 and a pair of V8s. 1966 was the last year for this bodystyle, which had been introduced in 1960. This is a very clean and attractive pickup, and looks very capable of being a daily driver. I hope to see more trucks of this era included in car shows. They certainly deserve some recognition.

1966 Chevrolet C-10 Fleetside

Monday, February 10, 2014

Cars and Coffee Roundup February 2014

Sensory overload. With a turnout in excess of 1100 cars, that's the only way to describe this month's Cars and Coffee meet. The sheer volume of cars present was absolutely staggering, and every subculture was well-represented. The Austin Jeep People arrived en masse, and large groups of American muscle cars, Japanese imports, and European exotics arrived throughout the day. This was hands-down the largest turnout so far, and sets the bar pretty high for future months. As always, here are some of the coolest machines that were on display.

Simple and understated, for a hot rod.

Track-prepped Factory 5 '33 Coupe.

Pretty red '40 Ford.

I admire a well-executed flame job.

Pretty color.

Absolutely jaw-dropping. Jaguar D-Type.

1960 Corvette in good shape.

Prettiest C2 'Vette I've seen in a while.

Mustang GT 2+2.

More-door Bronco.

Real-deal Austin Cooper S.

Very pretty Chevelle SS.

Fastback Barracuda in the parking garage.

Holy God, it's a Miura. Possibly my favorite car of the show.

Genuine GT350 with a 4-speed manual.

Astrovette. See this link for a full article on this very rare Corvette.

Sporty Firebird 400.

1970 El Camino in great condition.

MGB from before the ugly rubber bumper years.


Super-original '77 Bronco. Killer paint job.

Ferrari 308 GTB. Always loved this bodystyle.

This Trans Am stood out in a crowd of Italian exotics.

From Ferrari's greatest hits collection.

My favorite F355, the targa-topped GTS.

These are less common in Texas than you'd think, actually.

Twin-turbo Ford GT. Pure evil.

Spyker C8 Spyder. Not something you see often.

Skittles-green Murcielago.

NISMO-spec 370Z.

This is...different.

Vanquish Volante. Yes, please.

SRT8 variant of the Charger.

Viper GTS Launch Edition. That color combination is beautiful.

First Chevrolet SS I've seen on the streets. I kind of like it.

The Lamborghini Miura and the Jaguar D-Type stand out as two of my favorites, but I enjoyed everything. This was a wonderful show, and I can't wait to see what next month brings. If you're in the area, be sure to come check it out! I assure you, you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Random Car Wednesday: Ferrari 360 Modena

There is a definite connection between people who are rich and people who own Ferraris. If you want one of those iconic Italian performance machines, you're going to need some deep pockets. That said, some are more attainable than others. A decent Mondial can be had for twenty or thirty thousand bucks, but that's because it's essentially the ugly duckling of the Ferrari family. So what if you want a good Ferrari, but you don't want to totally break the bank? Cue today's RCW, the Ferrari 360 Modena. Introduced in 1999 as a replacement for the F355, the Modena had all the ingredients needed for a proper performance car. It had a 3.6 liter V8 located behind the seats which sent 400 horsepower directly to the rear wheels by way of a six-speed manual gearbox. Weighing in at a respectable 2,844 pounds, the Modena could do 0-60 in 4.2 seconds, and had a top speed of 189 mph. Visually, the Modena is an attractive car if you look at it objectively. A handsome car, but it's not quite as sensationally beautiful as the F355 it replaced, or even as chiseled and aggressive looking as the F430 that succeeded it. Thus, you can get your hands on one for less than some of the more popular Ferraris. Pricing seems to fall in the seventy to eighty thousand dollar range, which is a lot of money for a car, but not that much compared to most Ferraris. This particular car is in very good shape, and stands out with bright yellow paint. I usually think a Ferrari should be red, but in this case the yellow works well. The Modena is not the ultimate Ferrari by any stretch of the imagination. It's an under-appreciated performance machine with an outstanding pedigree. The perfect mix of practical and impractical. What more do you want, really?

Ferrari 360 Modena