Cars and Coffee is a monthly gathering that is held in major cities around the US. This free event is open to all makes and models of vehicles, and brings together people who share a passion for cars and coffee. Most of these posts are from Cars and Coffee in Scottsdale, Arizona.


Not Sold Here: Honda Beat

In today’s edition of Not Sold Here, we are featuring the Honda Beat. The Beat is a special class of super small vehicles for which there is no equivalent in the United States. Smaller than a subcompact, these cars are often called “kei cars” in Japan. I featured another Japanese vehicle, the Subaru Microvan, a few years ago. The difference is that the Subaru was actually imported to the U.S. while the Honda Beat was not.

I ran across this Honda Beat at the monthly Cars and Coffee gathering in Scottsdale. It is unbelievably small in person. Although it’s hard to visualize, the Honda Beat is nearly 10 inches narrower and 400 lbs lighter than the original Mazda Miata. It really is like a street legal go-kart. The philosophy behind these kei cars is to have small, efficient transportation for the narrow streets and crowded cities of Japan. As such, they were not designed to be particularly sporty. The inline 3-cylinder engine displaces 656 cc (40.0 cubic inches) and puts out a whopping 63 horsepower. The Honda Beat was only available with a 5-speed manual transmission.

There is a law in the United States that allows vehicles 25 years or older to be imported and driven on the roads, even though the vehicles do not meet US Federal crash test standards. This “show and display” law is the reason why you might be seeing more R32 Skylines and other right-hand drive Japanese vehicles at your favorite car shows. It is very likely that this Honda was imported under that same law.

About 34,000 of these cars were built during the production run from 1991 to 1996. It is unknown how many of them have made it to the U.S., but I’m certain the number is quite small. The car drew a huge number of curious onlookers at the show – much more than some of the brand new exotics and supercars that cost many times what this vehicle is worth.

This is a very unique car and I’m glad to have run across it at the Saturday Motorsports Gathering put on by Scuderia Southwest.

Intermeccanica Indra 2+2 Coupe

Now HERE’s something you don’t see every day! In fact, I would be quite surprised if you had heard of an Intermeccanica Indra before. I certainly had not, until I was standing in front of this one at the monthly Cars and Coffee car show in Scottsdale, Arizona. I was vaguely familiar with Intermeccanica because of the Italia, the car which took me years to figure out what it was.

Founded in Torino, Italy in 1959, the company began producing small numbers of sports cars such as the Apollo GT. I think the design of the Indra is very representative of what was happening in Italy in the 1970s. You can see a little bit of everything in this car, yet it doesn’t look like a carbon copy of a Ferrari, Lamborghini, or DeTomaso. The Intermeccanica has some distinct design elements, like the shape of the quarter windows, the flares over the wheel arches, and the vents on the front fenders.
The Indra is an exceptionally rare car, with only 127 examples completed between early 1971 and mid-1974. According to the website intermeccanica.org, the breakdown was approximately 60 convertibles, 40 coupes and 27 two plus twos. That makes this yellow 2+2 the rarest of the rare! This one is well-equipped with an automatic transmission, power windows, air conditioning, a stereo, and a full complement of gauges.With a Chevrolet 350 under the hood, maintenance is both affordable and easy on the powertrain. I spent a few minutes chatting with the owner of this wonderful and unique car. He told me the car has had a complete restoration on the paint and body, with everything sorted out. Standing next to it, I can attest that for a 1970s Italian car, this one was in stunning condition.

The one custom touch the owner made was to have the Intermeccanica logo embroidered on the seats – he said it didn’t come that way from the factory, but he really liked it.

I really enjoyed learning about this interesting piece of automotive history, and I hope that you enjoyed reading about it!

 

Cadillac LSA-Swapped 1968 Buick Riviera

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of resto-mods, as I cover plenty of them every year at the SEMA Show. The combination of timeless styling and modern turn-key reliability is a formula that many people find appealing. But as is so often the case, people tend to overdo it.

I understand that if you’re going to upgrade the engine and build a car, you’re also going to do better brakes, suspension, and fix up the rest of the car. As a matter of personal opinion, I am conflicted when I see an old car with 20-inch billet wheels, fender flares, and massive disc brakes. Are you trying to build a muscle car or a modern race car? It looks a bit odd to me to see carbon fiber air dams and projector headlights on a 1960s car.

With this 1968 Buick Riviera, they really got it right.

I spotted this car at the monthly Cars and Coffee gathering in Scottsdale, Arizona. The original engine has been swapped with a supercharged 6.2L LSA V8 from the Cadillac CTS-V. With 556 horsepower, it certainly packs more power than the original engine.

And again, there is that turn-key reliability. Modern engines can run on ethanol-blended fuels with no problem (ethanol blended fuels are sold in Maricopa County). Modern engines don’t need to have the valves adjusted every 30,000 miles. You don’t need to let it warm up on a cold morning. You don’t need to worry about vapor lock on hot summer days. You just get in, turn the key, and cruise.

This car appears to be set up as something of a sleeper/cruiser. It doesn’t have a wild paint job, crazy wheels, or anything to indicate that it’s packing a serious wallop under the hood. From the outside, it just looks like a clean, restored classic car. Even the exhaust tips with stock-looking turndowns are present.

I’ve got to hand it to the owner on this Rivera for doing it right by not over-doing it. Well done.

Racecar Replicas Superlite Coupe

racecar-replicas-superlite-coupe-frontThere are a lot of different reasons why people get into cars as a hobby. For some people, cars are a way to re-live their youth or to fulfill the dreams they always wanted. To others, cars are merely an investment to be bought and sold. A car can be a status symbol for attracting attention and showing others that you’ve “made it.” Still others get into cars because they love driving. And finally, there are those who get into cars because they love building them. This is a car for that last type of person – the do-it-yourself wrench-turner.

This car is a Superlite Coupe from Racecar Replicas in Fraser, Michigan. Unlike a Ferrari or Lamborghini, this car is not built on a production line in Italy. It is sold as a component vehicle (also known as a kit car) that you build yourself. Some assembly is required!

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1981-1988 Lamborghini Jalpa 3.5

lamborghini-jalpa-frontAs far as Lamborghinis go, this one was a real oddball. Let’s just say that if Lamborghini were to release a “Greatest Hits” album, this car wouldn’t be on it.

Sold from 1981 to 1988, it competed against the Ferrari 308 and the Mondial – neither of which are remembered as shining examples of Maranello’s best work.
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1969 Lamborghini Islero S

1969-lamborghini-islero-frontBy their very nature, supercars are produced in limited numbers, which means that not everyone who wants one can have one. Within the world of supercars, there are models which are more common than others. If you have the money, it shouldn’t be that hard to find a Porsche 911, Lamborghini Gallardo, or a Ferrari 355, 360, or 430 for sale. Then there are cars which are so rare that you cannot buy one, even if you have the money. The Lamborghini Islero is one such car.

The Islero was only manufactured in 1968 and 1969, with just 225 cars produced. These are very low numbers – there are almost twice as many Ferrari Enzos in the world as there are of these – and when was the last time you saw an Enzo?
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1958 Ford Fairlane with 5.0L V8 Swap

1958-ford-fairlane-profileWe continue our series of engine swapped cars with this 1958 Ford Fairlane. This is a real classic cruiser from the era of whitewall tires and acres of chrome trim. I don’t know what the story was on the original motor, if it was underpowered or just not worth the cost to rebuild.

In either case, this car has been swapped to a 5.0L Ford small block from a Fox-body Mustang! It makes me wonder if this car was restored sometime in the 1990s or early 2000s. Based on this engine, I would guess the car was done before 2005 when the S197 platform made its debut. I particularly like the black painted intake manifold. Continue reading