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Eric
04-26-2010, 10:01 AM
I'd put the original Beetle (and other air-cooled/rear-engineed Veedubs) at the top of the list.

Paralyzingly slow (0-60 in 30 seconds; top speed not much more than that) with carbon monoxide "climate control" and bodies that rusted out almost as soon as they left the dealer's lot.

Still, they had personality and were fun to own. Sort of like a mechanical Chihuahua. Plenty of attitude, even if next to useless!

Another fave of mine is the old Datsun B210. It was ugly as hell and born to rust, but it was rear-drive and it came with a full array of gauges (including a tach, rare in the mid-late '70s) as well as five-speed stick on later models.

I also like the Pinto wagon. Especially if the back area was customized with shag carpet and smoked porthole windows. A Love Machine, baby!

An oddball entrant: 1980-'81 Pontiac Turbo Trans-Am. A toothless sore-gummed stripe and decal gas hog that was slower than a current Prius - but damn, it looked cool. I just loved that turbo bulge scoop, with three lights telling you whether the boost was "normal" "medium" or "high." Either way, you still got nowhere fast!

Any other contenders?

dieseleverything
04-26-2010, 11:21 AM
Maybe the Trabant? It had a loud, smokey 2 stroke, a shit transmission, and poor handling characteristics. But, it was extremely durable, had fully independent suspension, and the plastic bodies didn't rust out. The aluminum motor is so light, one person can lift it out of the car. Plus it had rather good interior room for such a small and lightweight (less than 1500 lbs) car. Still not as good as the Beetle or Datsun. But I think it's better than one of those turbo Trans Am's.

The AMC Gremlin. Other than looking strange, it had a simple, common drive train. It came with a 6 cylinder, which was more than all the other compacts of the time. Plus, I think it looks kinda cool.

And I'd put the Citroen 2CV on the list somewhere too. Very simple, practical, and easy to work on. Although still a French POS.

swamprat
04-28-2010, 08:27 AM
This may be borderline, but I think that the Chevy Chevette was a crappy but good car. It had a top speed of about 80, but was fairly competent and easy to work on.
Unfortunately for the Chevette, the Japanese competition at the time was formidable. Car and Driver said of the Toyota Starlet that it beat the Chevette at its own game, including the rattle free interior and "peppy" acceleration, which the Chevette did not possess.

Eric
04-28-2010, 12:42 PM
This may be borderline, but I think that the Chevy Chevette was a crappy but good car. It had a top speed of about 80, but was fairly competent and easy to work on.
Unfortunately for the Chevette, the Japanese competition at the time was formidable. Car and Driver said of the Toyota Starlet that it beat the Chevette at its own game, including the rattle free interior and "peppy" acceleration, which the Chevette did not possess.

I agree - because the Chevette was RWD. That made it simpler/cheaper/rugged/tougher. Plus, you could drop a V-6 in the thing and then it was pretty quick!

swamprat
05-01-2010, 06:04 PM
I agree - because the Chevette was RWD. That made it simpler/cheaper/rugged/tougher. Plus, you could drop a V-6 in the thing and then it was pretty quick!

The Toyota Starlet was RWD as well. Modders put Wankel engines in them for drag racing purposes. They were quick as well.

Eric
05-04-2010, 07:46 AM
The Toyota Starlet was RWD as well. Modders put Wankel engines in them for drag racing purposes. They were quick as well.

So was the Datsun B210 and the early Corolla (if I'm remembering right).

They were actually fun little cars to knock around in.

The main weak point was they'd literally have rusted-out quarter panels before they were five years old. It was almost unbelievable. You had to be there. I know you remember it, like I do - but someone who is 25 today has no clue how bad it was.

I remember seeing three or four year old Japo cars in the '70s that already had bubbling paint around the fender lips - and major rust holes by the time they were five or six years old....

grouch
05-04-2010, 10:28 PM
So was the Datsun B210 and the early Corolla (if I'm remembering right).

They were actually fun little cars to knock around in.

The main weak point was they'd literally have rusted-out quarter panels before they were five years old. It was almost unbelievable. You had to be there. I know you remember it, like I do - but someone who is 25 today has no clue how bad it was.

I remember seeing three or four year old Japo cars in the '70s that already had bubbling paint around the fender lips - and major rust holes by the time they were five or six years old....


I had a Toyota Carrolla at the salvage yard I used to run. It was only 6 or 7 years old but was so rusted it just wasn't safe to drive on the road. I was using it as a tank truck. These are beat to pieces getting parts and hauling cutting torches and their tankage around. I used it for 5 months like that. I would have used it longer but a guy forgot to check his antifreeze and froze his block. I got his car because of rust a couple of years later. I believe Japan requires cars to be scrapped at 65K, hence all the Japanese engines for sale here. Japan realized that we run our cars longer and the bodies have to last so rust control is now a concern.

Eric
05-05-2010, 07:01 AM
I had a Toyota Carrolla at the salvage yard I used to run. It was only 6 or 7 years old but was so rusted it just wasn't safe to drive on the road. I was using it as a tank truck. These are beat to pieces getting parts and hauling cutting torches and their tankage around. I used it for 5 months like that. I would have used it longer but a guy forgot to check his antifreeze and froze his block. I got his car because of rust a couple of years later. I believe Japan requires cars to be scrapped at 65K, hence all the Japanese engines for sale here. Japan realized that we run our cars longer and the bodies have to last so rust control is now a concern.

Yep!

They are much improved lately.

I've got a '98 (and a 2002) Frontier pick-up. The '98 is a "work truck" and sits outside all year long; rarely gets washed. Sees road salt every winter. No sign of body rot yet - and the paint still shines. Amazing!

swamprat
05-07-2010, 09:10 AM
So was the Datsun B210 and the early Corolla (if I'm remembering right).

They were actually fun little cars to knock around in.

The main weak point was they'd literally have rusted-out quarter panels before they were five years old. It was almost unbelievable. You had to be there. I know you remember it, like I do - but someone who is 25 today has no clue how bad it was.

I remember seeing three or four year old Japo cars in the '70s that already had bubbling paint around the fender lips - and major rust holes by the time they were five or six years old....

I can't speak for the other cars, but my Starlet lasted 24 years before I sold it. The key was to keep it clean and wash under the Q panels. I did have it repainted in 1997, where some minor rust was removed in the rear quarter panel and behind the front fenders underneath the car.

Starlets did not rust that badly probably due to its smaller size and better undercoating...

Eric
05-07-2010, 10:34 AM
I can't speak for the other cars, but my Starlet lasted 24 years before I sold it. The key was to keep it clean and wash under the Q panels. I did have it repainted in 1997, where some minor rust was removed in the rear quarter panel and behind the front fenders underneath the car.

Starlets did not rust that badly probably due to its smaller size and better undercoating...

Wow, I'm impressed!

That's got to be some kind of record... :D