1986-1991 Toyota Soarer Z20

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The Ford Thunderbird will go down in history as the car that created an entire market segment: the personal luxury coupe. Since that time, many other auto makers have produced their own version of the Thunderbird. Over time, the segment came to be defined by a few characteristics: an emphasis on luxury and the latest technology, powerful engines with comfortable suspensions, and of course, a 2-door, 4-passenger seating arrangement.

Although the American economy went through a recession in the early 1980s, things  turned around and the demand for personal luxury coupes was on the rise by the later end of the decade. General Motors had the Buick Riviera, Ford had the Lincoln Mark VII, and Chrysler had resurrected the Imperial name for their 1981-1983 coupe. The United States wouldn’t see the Lexus SC400 until 1991, but this car was its Japanese predecessor: the Toyota Soarer Z20.

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What’s the Deal with JDM Badges?

jdm-badges-acura-nsxI have noticed that a lot of drivers in the import car scene like to re-badge their vehicles with emblems from the Japanese Domestic Market.

Acura NSX change theirs out to Honda NSX, since they don’t have Acura in Japan. Some Lexus drivers do this with Toyota, although they did start selling Lexus-branded vehicles in Japan in 2005. Nissan 350Z drivers rebadge their cars as Fairlady Z. Here’s a Pontiac GTO driver who re-badged his car as a Holden, as they are sold in Australia.

I want to ask every one of these people: what satisfaction do you get out of doing this?

How can you slap a Honda badge on your Acura NSX because it’s “more authentic” but overlook the fact that the steering wheel is still on the left hand side? Have you already done every other mod to your car and just couldn’t think of anything else to do? I just don’t understand the motivation behind putting JDM emblems on your US-spec car. Maybe it does something for you, but I find it utterly silly.

1971-1975 Opel Manta

opel-manta-frontIn the United States, there are stereotypes associated with drivers of certain types of cars.

For example, if you drive an air-cooled Volkswagen, people may assume you are a hippie. If you drive a BMW, people will assume you are both affluent and inconsiderate – the type of driver who would change lanes without signaling. And finally, if you drive a Honda Civic or other “tuner” car, you might be associated with street racing punks.

I have recently learned that such car/driver stereotypes are not unique to the U.S. In fact, there’s a popular one in Germany about Opel Manta drivers: that they are dull, lower-class, macho guys who drive aggressively, love their cars, and have a blonde girlfriend who works as a hairdresser.

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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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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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Burton Car: Citroen 2CV Kit Car

burton-car-rearKit cars are a particularly interesting niche of the automotive world, and we write about them often here on Generation High Output. At a local car show, I spotted a car that I’d never seen before – a Burton!

A quick Internet search revealed that Burton is an automobile manufacturer in the Netherlands. The company was founded in 1993 by Dimitri and Iwan Göbel – brothers with a shared passion for automobiles. Their main product is a two-seat, two-door roadster based on the Citroen 2CV. The 2CV is one of the most-produced cars of all time and is renowned and beloved for its utter simplicity and reliability.

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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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