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SPORTS CARS OF THE 60's

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  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,386
    Actually I like the Big Healeys even more now than I did then and I like the lighter, more spartan 100/6 even more than the 3000. Who'da thunk we'd miss side curtains, tonneau covers and erect-a-tops. ;)

    I thought the Jensen-Healey was ugly then, it hasn't improved with age.

    I'm sure you could think of a Kammback you liked, Shifty>

    image
    ;)
  • Well you see, the Italians made it look so good I didn't even regard it as a kammback.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,386
    65 Alfa? YES
    85 Alfa? Eh.


    05 Alfa Si!>

    image
  • Problem is the Alfas we might see here in the US are the very expensive models for the glitterati. The nicest Alfas were really the modest and affordable and lovely 50s and 60s and early 70s models. Marketing $45,000 ++ Alfas in the US will just be a turn off for 95% of Alfa lovers IMO.

    Alfa needs to send us a Miata, not a Lexus.

    If you look at a 60s Alfa spider or coupe, they are so clean simple well-made and stylish. Not enormously powerful, they are enormously fun to drive, rev like crazy (up to 7,000 rpm and perhaps more). They are light, economical, easy to fix, comfortable, weather-proof and technically right up to date.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,386
    Alfa needs to send us a Miata, not a Lexus.

    Agreed but at least they're considering sending one Alfa over for the Budget crowd, the Mi.To and there are rumors that it'll be priced to compete with a Mini. There's even speculation that they'll make a Spider version.

    I think the Brera in basic 4-cyl trim cost less than $45K across the pond. The bad news is the Brera and Mi.To are both FWD.
  • Anytime someone tells me FWD cars can be "sportscars" I ask them if they'd buy a FWD Corvette or Cobra. Unless you consider a Honda Del Sol a sports car I guess.

    True the original MINI was FWD but even that's only a sports sedan.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,118
    Andys 120, your reply to Shifty's message #369 took te words right out of my mouth. And Shifty, you're spot on; enthusiasts would prefer to see a competitor to the Miata from Alfa, instead of a competitor to the MINI. Unfortunately it doesn't appear as though this will happen. I've read that Alfa will convert its large sedan to RWD, but it'll be an expensive car. I haven't heard of any plans for Alfa to introduce a small RWD platform.

    But wait, there will be a small Alpha car after all. Cadillac will introduce a RWD Series 3 fighter in 2010, as a 2011 model. It won't be an Alfa, but I'm excited about GM's forthcoming Alpha platform.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 7,349
    Mr. Shiftright, there's sure a lot of "fuzzy memory" in your post about the Avanti.

    It surely didn't handle like a 'pig' compared to an Impala convertible of the day, with its traction bars and radius rods, and braking was the best in the industry with the only domestic use of discs at the time. In automatic form, it had a 3-speed that could be shifted manually through three gears, as opposed to Powerglide only in the Chevy. And frankly, at $4,445 base cost, it was more than an Impala convertible and was priced right up there with its fiberglass cousin, the Corvette!

    As far as the purchase of Studebaker by Packard, Packard had more money on hand at the time of the 'merger', but they should have, with as little updating as they did on any of their postwar offerings right up until the '55 model year, unlike Studebaker (new cars in '47, new trucks in '49, an OHV V8 in '51, two new bodies in '53). In '56, the company's combined loss was $43 million. In '57, without Packard and with only a modestly-restyled '57 Studebaker, the loss was down to $11 million. In '59, with the Lark, they had a $28 million profit, and Packard (and Edsel, run by Packard's Jim Nance and with two levels, senior and junior, like Packard) were gone or near-gone. This should show where the production costs and sales problems really were in '55 or '56 for Studebaker-Packard Corporation.

    Styling is of course subjective, but the Avanti, with its curved side glass and lack of fake scoops and bright trim, certainly looks less dated today (and I mean by today's standards) than absolutely any '63 domestic I can think of..and I include Corvette...

    Although, I must admit I still love a '64 Studebaker Hawk, which was basically the '53 bodyshell, heavily updated. Such was the beauty of the '53, as eleven model years later with updates, it still looked great, in and out, and is considered a "Milestone" car now.

    And I grew up thinking there was no other car worth looking at besides a Chevy!

    Bill P.
  • That was not to imply that the Impala didn't handle like a pig as well. In fact, just about all Americans sedans and coupes of the day handled like pigs.

    But yes, you're right, relative to all other cars, the Avanti certainly was not the worst handling car of its type and probably better than most. I've driven Avantis, and they are alas typically American in how they feel---soft, lots of push, and god help you if you hit a bumpy turn at high speed. Fast, fun, primitive. You must remember that American automakers were under no compulsion to innovate at this period of time.

    You hit it right on the head---the Avanti was WAY too expensive.

    Yes I liked the Gran Turismo Hawk as well. I used to own one and it was a good 'ol car and very handsome I thought.

    An interesting car, the Avanti, to be sure, but surely not a 'sports car' by any stretch of MY imagination at least. Even a Corvette barely makes the grade in 1962, but a Vette could handle reasonably well on a smooth flat track without too many sharp turns. Take it on a *tight twisty road course* and the MINI Cooper S used to beat up the Corvettes pretty badly. The Corvettes roared ahead on the first stretch, the MINI caught them in turn 2, and the Vettes never saw the MINI again, because their brakes were on fire. This is why Corvette never amassed much of an International racing records. It had way too much power for its suspension and brakes. We'd have to wait for the Ford GT40 for that kind of glory.

    Of course you are correct, styling is subjective. I think though that if we include all the subsequent failures of the Avanti design (as we speak, someone is probably coming out with the Avanti XII), we have to entertain the possibility that not too many people really want to look at that shape anymore, or at least not PAY for it.

    Consider how many still pay for the shape of a replica Cobra!

    As for Studebaker, compared to Packard, it did not have anywhere near the engineering skills and its management style was near-barbaric, even by GM standards. As a member of a Packard family, I was delighted to see Studebaker fall victim of its own business incompetence.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 7,349
    Well, now that I know you were a member of a 'Packard family', things become clearer (just joking!).

    I admire many Packards, but they were late to the party with a postwar car (and even when they did one, it was still the pre-war car underneath...the 'bathtub' or 'pregnant elephant' models); they were last to the party with a V8 (inexcusable in their price class), and to go fro '51 to '54 in that price class with such little styling change and that old-fuddy-duddy high beltline...well, I'm not so sure I agree with your engineering assessment.

    They tried to play catch-up in '55, and the Torsion-Level provided a remarkable ride; best in the industry I've heard folks say and I agree it's smooth (I've ridden in several), but quality control was among the worst in the industry too, with many, many fit and finish issues and problems with rear axles, Ultramatic, and the V8 engine, right out of the box. An excellent book on this period is James Ward's "The Rise and Fall of the Packard Motor Car Company" which is available in my local library. It's the most unbiased reading on the subject I've seen, and was written largely from documents of that period located in the Studebaker National Museum, without the hindsight of years and wishful thinking to cloud realities.

    Bill P.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 7,349
    Also, not sure where the 'barbaric management' style concept came from; that is in direct contrast with everything, and I mean, EVERYTHING, I've read. They had a thoroughly spoiled workforce up until the mid or late '50's...in fact, were paid hourly rates higher than the Big Three. Their plant was widely known as "America's Friendliest Factory", and in fact took extreme steps to avoid strikes, which ended up being part of the company's problem. Their ads show many, many two and three-generation teams of family members who worked in the plant.

    Perhaps the way they ended up South Bend production was harsh, true.

    If ever in South Bend, check out the brand-new Studebaker National Museum building and its collection, and Archives Center right next door. Truly impressive for a defunct auto maker (and in fact, truck maker until Dec. 1963).

    I always thought that even though they were smaller than AMC, they made more interesting cars right up 'til near the end (Gran Turismo Hawk, fiberglass Avanti, Lark Daytonas, sliding-roof wagons, pickups, big trucks with or without diesel, superchargers, three-speed automatics that could be shifted manually through three gears, disc brakes, full gauges, sun roofs, reclining seats, etc.)

    One last thing, in your assessment of 'Vettes of that period...my favorite 'Vette is a '62 with hardtop! Primitive in the way a '64 Studebaker Hawk might be considered, but I think better styling than the better-engineered Sting Rays!

    Bill P.
  • You want barbaric. I'll give you barbaric.

    How about this?

    Studebaker threw the entire Packard archives into the trash. :cry:

    Hey this is a great subject but let's not veer from topic, which is "Sports Cars of the 60s"

    I'm a Host, I'm supposed to set a good example about 'topic drift'. :P

    We can continue this discussion here if you'd like!

    PACKARDS
  • interesting stuff Bill. Have you read #377 yet? If so, let's meet over at the other topic, or if you wish, you can start one on Studebaker.

    best

    MrShiftright
    Host
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 7,349
    Another item about the original Studebaker Avanti that I think bears mentioning in this forum about '60's "Sports Cars"...it set 29 new stock car records at Bonneville under the direction of Andy Granatelli...including the American and National Closed Car Division records of the U.S. Auto Club for the five-and-ten-kilometer and five-and ten-mile standing start; and for the one-, five-, and ten-kilometer and one-, five-, and ten-mile flying start. In Oct. '63, Bill Burke set an E-Supercharged class record (147.36 mph) driving a blown Avanti. At the same time, Studebaker President Sherwood Egbert became the fastest American auto company president in history (Langworth feels he still holds that title) by personally driving an R3 Avanti to 168 mph at Bonneville.

    Bill P.
  • That's a muscle car though not a sports car :P If Andy had tried to turn at those speeds he'd still be out there.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,386
    50 years ago this month in March 1961 the Jaguar XK-E/E-type was first revealed at Geneva. It's hard to recall just how completely this daringly styled car blew away the automotive conventions of the era.

    Here's how it looked the next month at the International Auto Show in NY>

    image

    The E-Type was technically advanced with twin cam heads, 3 carbs, 4wheel disc brakes and IRS. In fact it was so technically advanced that Enzo Ferrari's sales chief told him they'd better get to work on matching it and eventually this resulted in the fabulous racer, the 250 GTO and the road-going 275 GTB which cribbed the entire front end of the Jag.

    There's no doubt that however advanced the E-Type's design was marginal, cooling systems, electrics and braking systems were maintenance nightmares and you had to pull the engine to change the clutch. However I was fortunate enough to drive a well-maintained '67 Series II (4.2 motor/all syncro trans) and I've never driven a nicer car, in fact I'm not sure there ever could be a car nicer to drive. I also doubt anyone will ever make a regular production sports car more exciting to look at.

    Happy 50th Anniversary, E-Type Jag!
  • martianmartian Posts: 220
    You are certainly correct-the E type was a nice looing car. But it was an engineering nightmare-the braking and cooling systems gave all kinds of troble, and the winshield had an annoying tendency to vibrate (a kluge fix was added-a bicycle-spoke like rod holding the top of the window frame to the dash! Add in unreliable Lucas electrics, and the car was a disaster
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,644
    All automakers should have such disasters. :P

    The car's bugs didn't seem to slow down its popularity, sex appeal, current high values or the ambition of restorers, so what's not to like?

    Besides, modern fixes for all those bugaboos are now abundantly available.

    Even the 300SL Gullwing (a far better, and way more technically advanced car) couldn't match the impact the E-Type had on the automotive world. I doubt another car will ever equal the shock and awe of it in 1961.

    It looked *great*, it went *fast*, and the rest is history, yep. I think it was the only car to ever be put in the Museum of Modern Art in NY
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,909
    Not to mention, it was a bargain. It wasn't cheap by any means, but in bang for the buck, not much else compared. Milestone car for sure, amazing follow up to the XK120.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,644
    edited May 2011
    They are a challenge to restore, that's for sure, but a pleasure to drive. Yes it'll be a long time before we see that level of "bang for the buck" again in a hi-performance car.

    The car also makes you realize how far the modern day Jaguar company has deviated from its origins.
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