Although I feel my automotive proficiency is fairly well-rounded, there are a couple gaps in my knowledge. I understand that nobody is perfect, so I try not to beat myself up over the fact that I can’t make myself get into anything European or Japanese made before the mid-eighties, I’m not up to date on current supercars (hypercars? what are they calling them now?), and street rods all just look like the same ZZ Top album cover to me.
I also have a bad habit of calling everything that that looks really old but not American either an Excalibur or a “Cruella de Vil Car”, depending on whether I am talking to a car guy or not. So when I saw this old lady barreling down the 17, with a death grip on the steering wheel and, I’m imagining, a cartoonish twinkle of determination in her eyes, taking a folding card table somewhere, wearing a rain poncho underneath her jacket, on a very hot, very dry day in Phoenix, I just assumed that I had just seen an Excalibur. A Cruella de Vil car.
It wasn’t until I got home and looked at the pictures, that I really started noticing that the car I had seen looked a little different from the pictures of the Excaliburs I was looking at.
First of all, while it had the same basic shape, it just looked, well, there is no nice way to put this- shittier. Things don’t seem to line up quite perfectly, and the materials just don’t look as nice. It wasn’t too long until it occured to me that other companies must make replicas of weird old cars too.
The Excalibur that everyone thinks of when they think of an Excalibur is actually styled to look like a 1928 Mercedes-Benz SSK. Somehow, they became the ones everyone associates with that body shape, even though tons of companies have ripped off the design of the SSK as well, with varying degrees of accuracy and success. I looked some pictures of quite a few other SSK kit cars before I found one by a little company called CMC.
Classic Motor Carriages’ “Gazelle” is actually a replica of the 1929 SSK, although there really weren’t any noteworthy changes that I can find between the 1928 and 1929 models. Although the Gazelle looked like an antique exotic car, it was usually built out of either a Pinto or a Chevette. I think it would be kind of cool to drop a Ford 2.3 turbo motor in one of the Pinto-based ones. About the only exciting thing I can think of doing with the Chevette version might be jumping out of it at the last second before it nosedives down a canyon or something.
I wish I knew who the old lady was, I’d like to get some better shots of her car and also thank her for forcing me better myself by learning something new. I now plan on calling anything that even remotely looks like an Excalibur a Mercedes-Benz SSK.
Thanks, random weird old lady.