1969 Opel GT 1.1L Coupe

1969-opel-gt-frontToday’s post is about an interesting little car from Opel, the German arm of General Motors. The Opel GT was a small, sporty car with an inline 4-cylinder engine that was produced from 1968 to 1973.

There were two engine choices available: a 1.1L engine and a larger 1.9L engine. The 1.1L engine made 67 horsepower and 62 lb-ft of torque and was coupled to a 4-speed manual. The 1.9L engine could be ordered with an optional 3-speed automatic transmission if desired. Buyers overwhelmingly chose the larger motor, causing Opel to discontinue the 1.1L engine after 1970.

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Jet Industries Electravan 600

jet-electravan-600-profileElectric cars such as the Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf are all the rage these days. These sexy cars offer zero emissions, good fuel economy, and near-silent operation. But there was a time not long ago when electric vehicles were not sexy or cool.

Early electric vehicles were converted from gasoline-powered vehicles using primitive chargers and batteries. They were a novelty item, mostly reserved for hippies and fringe-thinkers. They lacked the mass-market appeal of today’s sophisticated alt-fuel vehicles. Let’s revisit those times for a moment to take a look at once such vehicle: the Electravan.

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1972-1973 Citroen SM Coupe

citroen-sm-sideIf there’s one thing you don’t see a whole lot of in America, it’s French cars. I’ve crossed paths with a few Citroens before including the Traction Avant and the Chevrolet V8-swapped DS that formerly belonged to Alice Cooper. Today I present another of Citroen’s automotive oddities: the 1973-1973 SM coupe.

The SM was Citroen’s attempt at making a sporty 2-door car based on the popular DS. Though it was sold in Europe and the rest of the world, the SM was only available in the U.S. for two years, making this a very rare car. Sales in the United States totaled 1,250 in 1972 and 1,150 in 1973, for a grand total of just 2,400 vehicles. The car was not imported after that because it did not meet the newly-enacted 5 mph safety bumper standards passed by the NHTSA.

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1971 DeTomaso Pantera ‘ADRNLN’ by Ringbrothers

Imagine for a moment that the 2013 SEMA show was transformed into a high school cafeteria.

The Mustangs, Camaros, Chevelles and Novas would be the cool kids, flexing their muscles and throwing a football back and forth while the girls swooned over them. The Hyundai Genesis Coupes and the Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZs would be the geeks, wiping off their glasses as they rewire their ECUs. The Jeeps and lifted/baja/prerunner trucks would be the band geeks, a tightly-knit group who knows that all they’ve got is each other.

Then you have the DeTomaso Pantera. While it came with a big V8 engine and was sold in Ford Dealerships, this car doesn’t fit in with the rest of the crowd. It is closer to an exotic car than a muscle car. Its mid-engine layout, low production numbers, and premium price tag place it in a different social class from the other cars.  At a show like SEMA, the Pantera is something of a misfit.

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1974 Jensen Interceptor III

Walking around the SEMA show last year, I happened upon this cool ride in a parking lot near the convention center. It’s a 1974 Jensen Interceptor III, a rare British car that you don’t often see.

Between 1966 and 1976, just 6,400 of these cars were built  – which is an extremely small number for a production car. I have to wonder how many of them were left-hand drive and how many are in the United States? Probably not very many, which makes this car all the more special.

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1973 Chevrolet Camaro “Project Envious”

This is one of those cars that you either love or hate – there is no in between.To some, a 2nd gen Camaro with a green paint job is the definition of automotive hell. Others may see this car for what it really is: a pro-touring car that can dominate any environment from street to strip to autocross course.

Built by D&Z Customs in Kewaskum, Wisconsin, this ’73 Camaro was on display at the AutoMeter booth at SEMA 2013. The car is nicknamed “Project Envious” as in green with envy – get it?

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1973 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am “KLRBRD”

It’s hard to look at a second-gen Firebird and not think of “Smokey and the Bandit.” While this car has been forever etched into our memories by the 1977 film, this car is so much more than a movie cliche.

When this car was new, people were worried about Vietnam War protests, the emerging counterculture movement, the start of punk rock, vehicle emissions laws, and The Man taking away their rights. With its Screaming Chicken logo on the hood and its utter lack of subtlety, the Firebird Trans Am is a middle-finger response to the social changes of the 1970s. As long as I’ve got my horsepower, you and your issues can sit on it and rotate!

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1971 Chevrolet Camaro ‘The ProfeSSor’

When I go to SEMA, I expect to see hot rods that are above and beyond what the average joe is building in his garage. SEMA is sort of like the World Series of Hot Rodding, where the best in the business put their projects on display for all to see. These are guys at the top of their game, building the wildest cars that anyone can dream up.

This car is a perfect example of an “all-star build.” This 1971 Chevrolet Camaro is nicknamed “The ProfeSSor” and was created as a tribute to legendary drag racer Warren Johnson’s pro stock Camaro. The car was done by Lakeside Rods and Rides of Rockwell City, Iowa, with design from Eric Brockmeyer Designs. Dan Weber did the interior and Gemini Technologies did all of the carbon fiber work. The owner of the car is Dave Leisinger of DK Camaros.

Basically, the team set out to build a modern interpretation of a pro stock car. What they created is one of the wildest second-gens I’ve ever seen!

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