Benchmarks come and then they go. Personal luxury coupes occupied the hottest sector of the American car market in the late ’70s and early ’80s. What were they?
Editor’s note: This piece originally appeared as part of the Benchmarks Theme on DTW in March 2015.
A personal luxury coupe is understood as a two door, four seat car with at least a V6 or ideally a V8. Whilst the advertising for these may have suggested sporting capability, the body-on-frame and bench seat reality spoke of cars whose main talent lay in getting quickly up to 65 mph and staying there from Baker, Ca. to Frederick, Md.
The image above is my idea of the archetype of this car. I don’t think Europe had equivalents of the PLC. Two-door Ford Granadas (such as the 1975 example owned by our stalwart contributor Myles Gorfe) don’t strike the same note. Whether with two doors or four they retain their Granada-ness (the Ghia fastback came a bit closer to the concept). The Opel Monza offered a sporty experience and isn’t formal enough. BMW’s 1976 633 CSi also promised and provided athletic capabilities. Perhaps Mercedes 450 SLC came closest of all as it was certainly luxurious, it had a V8 and the back seats were cramped for occasional use, despite the car’s length. Continue reading “Benchmarks – Personal Luxury Coupés”
With the death of Graham Robson on 5 August 2021, the world of automotive history has lost an extraordinary and prolific chronicler.
Graham Robson was born and schooled in Skipton, a North Yorkshire market town. His family, middle-class but certainly not moneyed, had no connection with the motor industry other than his father’s interest in motorcycle racing. His interest in cars and engineering evolved from his early years, and the clever and motivated grammar-school boy was awarded a place at Lincoln College, Oxford, where he studied Engineering Science.
On graduation in 1957, the young Robson joined Jaguar as a graduate engineering trainee. Without doubt, Coventry shaped him, and in his free time from Jaguar, he was active in club rallying, making important contacts which led to co-driving opportunities with the Rootes factory team, and in 1961 a new job at Standard-Triumph, first as a development engineer, and in due course taking on the role of Competition Secretary.
“Special” might not be a term that many would use in its positive sense to describe a Maestro of any kind, but I think this one deserves a mention as part of this month’s thematic celebration.
I like to think that this was a car marketed with a twinkle in the eye of those involved. It was as if they knew that the public and journalists in particular would scoff at the very notion of it, and so they just added a little wry smile to the way that it was presented to the market. Continue reading “Theme: Special – 1988 MG Maestro Turbo”
Murilee Martin used to post Down At The Junkyard at Jalopnik. Here’s a discovery from 2010, a 1989 Volvo 780 ES. Alas, there’s no commentary, which is puzzling.
The 780 ES was presented the 1985 Geneva motorshow, and went on sale in 1986. That means this is its 30th anniversary year. Skol!
There is a nice collection of photos here plus a little bit of history. What I didn’t know is that the 780 ES was not only sold with the 6-cylinder PRV engine. One could also have a 2.0 L turbo I4, a 2.0 L turbo dohc I4 ,2.3 L turbo I4 and 2.4 L I6 turbodiesel. They only made about 6000 of the things so some of those must have been made in very small numbers indeed. Continue reading “A Bit More Volvo 780 ES: It’s 30 This Year”
Those were the days: Lybra (saloon and wagon), Z multipurpose vehicle, Kappa (coupe, saloon and wagon) and the Ypsilon. It’s 1998.
Lancia had a full line-up of vehicles, offering in most cases something distinctively different to what Fiat was selling. The Lybra had its basis in the Alfa 156 but you’d be hard pressed to tell. With the passage of time you can see a robust-looking car with a distinctive form language. Maybe it could have used some brightwork around the windows. Enrico Fumia started the development of the design in 1992 and Peter Robinson completed it. Where is he now? The rather pleasant interior is the work of Flavio Manzoni who is now at Ferrari, with a string of cars to his name. Some of them include the later Musa (not so good) and Ypsilon (treasurable). Continue reading “A photo for Sunday: 1998 Lancia Lybra SW”
The Mk 2 Ford Granada had a lot going for it writes editor-at-large Myles Gorfe.
With a range of powerful engines, excellent roadholding and sharp-styling, it virtually sold itself. Ford didn’t like to rest on their laurels though. So, to celebrate the Olympics of 1980, they made a limited run of Chasseur special edition estates.
Ford are making a bit of a meal of their luxurious Vignale-edition Mondeo, but this idea is not new for Ford who have actually presented smart, luxury versions of their mainstays for decades. The Granada Chasseur estate, to be precise. During the week, the Granada estate worked like any other large, prestigious and fast saloon. At the weekends, the huge load bay meant it could Continue reading “Gorfe´s Granadas: 1980 Granada Chasseur 2.8”
What once passed for normal, becomes a rarity (think: Renault 12). Usage debases the value of language so while our words remain set on the page, the meanings attached to them drift off and new meanings, hunting for home, attach themselves. So it is that the world outside our head is unstable and shifting and the words inside our heads lose value like sweating gold coin in a sack or drachmas, lire and roubles in wallets.
Via the Bristol Owner’s website I found this nice American take on Bristol cars. The photo is from the Curbside Classics website which I can’t recommend highly enough.
The 411 looks like a combination of the proportions of a Jaguar XJ-6 and the surface treatment of a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow. We have had some debate about the British ability to style cars. This one shows that a British car need not be heavily ornate to look good.
Our good friends at Renault UK’s press office have sent us a reminder that the Renault 16 is fifty years old this year.
Philippe Charbonneaux is credited with the design of this car which was in production from 1965 to 1980. Its main claim to fame is related to its innovative deployment of a hatchback in the middle-to-large sized car class. At that point there developed a marked fork in the road in car design. Some manufacturers followed this path, those makers most like Renault. Continue reading “The Renault 16 Is Fifty This Year. There Are None Left.”