Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Cars and Coffee Roundup

August may signal the start of fall, but the Texas heat isn't going away just yet. This month's show was unbelievably hot, but the turnout was impressive enough to draw a sizable crowd. Corvettes, Jeeps, Porsches and more descended upon the lot and made for an enjoyable experience. Here are some highlights from the madness.

Don't let the ratty paint fool you. This dilapidated Datsun is packing a swapped-in Chevy LS V8. This 280Z hails from the mid-1970's, and while it's seen better days, it's faster now than it ever was when new. A bit of a sleeper, then.

Speaking of sleepers, here's a great example. The Taurus SHO is a discreet performance variant of the otherwise plain Ford Taurus. The name dates back to the 1980's, and those three letters identify this car as a hot rod in disguise. Moreover, this car has been tuned by the fine folks at Hennessey, and now sports twin turbos. This one gets my personal seal of approval.

Car design in the 1990's was overwhelmingly bland, but this is a rare exception. BMW's 8-series coupe was remarkably pretty, integrating all of the hallmarks of 90's design into a shape that was actually brilliant-looking. The pop-up lights, subtle fender bulges, and sporty proportions made this performance coupe stand out from the pack. As time went on, the car's questionable reliability became an issue, but at least if it broke down you could sit and look at it while waiting for the tow truck.

Take away the side pipes, doghouse hood scoop, and the aggressive hood decals, and you remember that the Corvette was a proper sports car. This 1964 convertible, with its split bumpers and knock-offs, bears the appeal of a classic European roadster. The V8 powerplant is a reminder of the car's red, white, and blue roots, but it sure cleans up nice.

The Burke Rally is coming up next weekend, and hopefully I'll get to go check it out. As part of the event, they're raffling off this 1983 Jeep CJ. It looks only lightly modified, and the lucky winner will get to take home a sweet retro 4x4.

The Camaro lineup is ripe with performance options these days. The ZL1 is your all-out horsepower machine, the Z/28 is the track-focused racing machine, and then this car, the 1LE, is a sort of jack-of-all-trades. Sportier than the SS, but not as brash as the ZL1, the 1LE offers a bit of extra horsepower and slightly sharper handling qualities. Outward visibility is still absent from the formula, but if you want a solid all-around muscle car, this might be your answer.

This classic Suburban is the perfect family hauler. The sturdy 350 V8 is a rock-solid motor, and there's enough room inside the cabin to carry an entire NFL team. The rims are a mild custom touch, and those seats look like they might be swapped in from a newer vehicle, but otherwise this is a well-preserved old cruiser.

For 1967, the Nova was a very conservatively-styled car, but in SS format it could take on pretty much anything. This car has new wheels and tires, along with some snappy graphics along the side. I can only hope it has air-conditioning, too.

The E46 M3 has become the bargain sports car of choice in today's market, and thus it's become a common sight at Cars and Coffee. This one, though, stands out from the crowd. I'm pretty sure that shade of orange is a BMW color, offered on the E92 M3 GTS and M3 Lime Rock Park Edition. It's a hard color to miss, and it works well here. Custom hood vents and aero parts further separate this car from its contemporaries.

Also a bit of a standout is this 1972 El Camino. Lavender with flames is a bold look, but if ever there was a car that could make it work, it'd be an El Camino. The ever-so-shiny Cragar S/S rims complete the look. It's not exactly a low-key form of transportation, but the look is growing on me.

Part of the Porsche posse that pulled in was this lovely little 914. It's the 4-cylinder version, known for its utter lack of horsepower, but the racing stripes and sporty rims say otherwise. The 914 is a quirky little car that gets mixed reviews from the auto world, but I for one think it's neat. The styling is odd in the right ways, and the concept is a proven winner. The Fiero and MR2 utilize the same setup, but with enough horsepower to get results. Perhaps the 914 was just ahead of its time.

I wish the BMW Z8 was less rare. It was a bigger, more powerful alternative to the lovable Z3, and it was downright beautiful. The design mimics the classic BMW 507 of the 1950's, and incorporates much of the classic look into a modern roadster. It was even a Bond car, featuring in The World is Not Enough. That said, they've become very uncommon lately, which is a shame.

The 1968 Ford Mustang Fastback is a purebred muscle car. The electric motor that powers this example, though, is a stranger to the muscle car world. That said, if you're going to drive an electric car, it might as well be a good-looking one, and there are more than enough Mustangs laying around to serve as the donor vehicle. I give this one a pass.

If ever there was a vehicle I didn't expect to see at a Texas car show, the Renault Alpine GTA is probably it. An updated successor to the A310, the GTA was a plucky turbo-powered sports car from France. Alpine had plenty of experience with performance cars, most notably the A110, which was a force to be reckoned with on a rally stage. This GTA is a 1986 model, and I imagine there aren't many of these in the U.S. As such, it's a treat to see one, especially one in such incredible condition.

The Volkswagen Beetle is a very popular car in Austin. Most of them are 1970's models, with a healthy smattering of 1960's models mixed in. This, however, is a 1959 Beetle, and that is decidedly less ubiquitous. Custom wheels and a roof rack add a personal flair, but this would be cool regardless. Even flanked by Porsches, this little VW left an impression.

To call this Camaro loud would be insulting. The noise that emitted from this archaic yellow monster was utterly tremendous. It was violent and cacophonous, like a fleet of vintage F1 cars screaming through a tunnel full of chainsaws. While on fire. It was fantastically unadulterated. The 1969 Camaro is a common sight at a car show, but this one stands out from the pack. I have no doubt this car has seen drag strip duty.

This custom '66 Ford F-100 perfectly describes the temperature at the show. In fact, the truck might actually be on fire. Custom wheels, exhaust, and shaved door handles are all hints to this truck's modified state. Custom pickups are popular around here, mostly because of the vast number of pickup trucks just laying around. This one is particularly well done, though. A true hot rod, I guess.

Finally, the Aston Martin Rapide. One of the most handsome four-doors of all time, the Rapide is a handsome and powerful machine. I especially prefer the earlier models, such as this one, with their smaller grilles. The new cars have a colossal gaping mouth, like a whale shark. This design is much more enticing. I also love this color. It's a very executive shade of blue, and it adds a certain level of intrigue. Much more attractive than the usual black or silver.

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