Have You Ever Heard of a _________?!!

Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
edited March 2014 in Ford
Maybe you're walking down the street and you see
one. Strangest car you ever laid eyes on. Or you're
paging through an old magazine, perhaps watching
an old movie, and there in front of you is a car
you never even knew existed.

If you'd like to know more about a certain unusual
make of car from the past, or would like to share
one of your recent discoveries, please post here.


  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    Saw a Simca the other day, still running.

    Anybody remember which US dealer sold them?
  • GTRocksGTRocks Member Posts: 48
    In 1934 Henri Pigozzi founded Simca (Societe Industrielle de Mecanique et Carrosserie Automobile - translated it means an industrial company that makes car mechanics and
    bodywork) at Nanterre, France. Initially the company built Fiat cars under licence, with the odd "special" being constructed (Fiat chassis with unique bodywork). The
    successful Aronde models of 1951-60 marked the end of Fiat control, although the engine design continued to be used. However, the Fiat influence carried through to the
    1000 series of 1960-79, of which over 1.6 million were built.

    In the 1950s Simca bought Unic, Talbot and Ford of France (which made the Vedette - a car once planned to be a smaller American Ford, and which looked like a mini-1949
    Mercury, but was neither one). Chrysler became the majority holder in 1963 and by 1970 changed the name to Chrysler France. The new model programme initiated by
    Chrysler produced the succesful (2 million made over 1967 to 1982) 1100 series, which formed the basis of the Chrysler Europe Alpine and Horizon (and Dodge
    Omni/Plymouth Horizon too), and was briefly fielded in the States in the early 70's as the Simca 1204, one of the Chrysler's trio of captive import subcompacts (along with
    the Plymouth Cricket from Hillman and Dodge Colt from Mitsubishi). After the Peugeot takeover of 1978, the Simca name survived until 1981 when Talbot was used
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    So there you go...everything you ever wanted to know about Simca......I had a Simca Aronde briefly (two door hardtop, looked something like a 60s Volvo 122S but uglier in the grille). I can't say that anything they ever made that I ever saw captured my imagination, with the possible exception of a version of the Fiat Toppolino that I think was called the R5.
  • C13C13 Member Posts: 390
    That's an impressive Simca history, but R5-wise, you're way off, unless there's another R5 I don't know about.

    The Fiat Topolino (which, incidently, was named after Mickey Mouse, believe it or not) was decades before the Renault R5; a completely different machine.

    The R5 was a derivative of the 5, known here as Le Car because the French figured we couldn't pronounce 'cinque', even though most of us can handle the word 'sank' without much trouble.

    For homologation for rallying, they built a series of 5's so highly modified that really nothing was the same but the body (like Nascar). It had a different chassis and a powerful V6 mounted between the axles (not like Nascar), driving the rears. Must have been quite a machine. Due to its intended use in rallies, it was literally built for powerslides (like midget racers).

    I've often thought that it would be a great car for the States, cuz people would assume that it was impotent, but it could, in fact, out-handle and out-accelerate almost anything on the road. Probably fairly tough too (for a French car), since it was made to be thrashed.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Nope, looked it up...a 1937 Simca "Cinq", but no mention of the "R", so I could have just made that part up, I dunno. Anyway, it was a French licensed copy of the Topolino. Yes, it actually means "Mickey Mouse" in Italian.

    I wasn't thinking of the "new" R-5...I try never to think of them, although Mickey Mouse would be a great name for it.

    The car you're thinking about, the R-5 Turbo 2 was truly awesome, a low production (3,576) rallye car, nothing much like the original little rat built by Renault. It was mid-engine, but it did use the actual R-5 platform. Apparently it came in varying packages, from 160 to 250 horsepower. The 160 HP did 0-60 in 7 seconds, so with another 90, it must have been fast. That's a lot of power out of 1300 ccs!

    Remember the SHOGUN? An R-5 with Ford SHO engine. Now we're talkin' a serious car. It had that same steroid look of the R-5 turbo 2 you mentioned.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350

    A+ for your efforts!

    Now, Buick sold the Opel.

    What was the name of the import that Pontiac Dealers sold during the late fifties?

    No cheating, now!
  • C13C13 Member Posts: 390
    Should have known you wouldn't make a mistake like that.

    My compliments.

    Now as to this Pontiac thing. Holy Xmas. That was a ways back. I don't even have any car magazines that old. This was an import, I take it? Sporty? Mundane?

    What could it have been...Austin? Renault? Peugeot?
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    Nope, keep trying. It was an oddball. When I was a kid, there was a guy down the street from my folks that had one of these.

  • carnut4carnut4 Member Posts: 574
    What import did Pontiac dealers sell in the 50's? I'm going to guess Vauxhall- a neighbor had one of these around 1959. It had a wraparound windshield and was styled to look like a smaller version of GM's 58 cars. I think it came from England-but I'm not sure. Am I right? Now here's another trivia- ever seen a '58 Skoda? What country made this one?
  • GTRocksGTRocks Member Posts: 48
    ok...I'll bite. How about this Canadian import...

    1958 Canadian Pontiac Laurentian

  • C13C13 Member Posts: 390
    Hey Vauxhall. That sounds good. There was a guy across the street from me that had one. Maybe we lived on the same street.
  • ajvdhajvdh Member Posts: 223
    Close but no cigar on the Shogun. It did use the SHO drivetrain, but it was based on the Ford Festiva chassis (Kia?). There's a black one around here I see once in a while. There's no mistaking it for a stock Festiva - the fenders are hugely flared. The build quality appears to be superb. The guy who drives it told me it's very easy to spin when it's wet out. Something about all that power and a really short wheelbase.

    BTW, I believe the R5 motor was a Turbo-4. Small one too, well under 2 liters with levels of boost that ranged from "high" to "insane."
  • C13C13 Member Posts: 390
    I think you might be right about the R5.

    I also seem to recal a distant memory of the Shogun. Maybe I have an article somewhere. Wasn't it Fiesta-based rather than Festiva?

    Alright, I got one - Marcos. British sportscar, late 60's I think. Extensive use of plywood in the chassis/body, if I have the right car.

    That's what this world needs. More wooden cars.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    Good job!

    When I was in college, a buddy bought one for 50.00. It was a P.O.S. that had one redeeming feature.

    We would fly down a quiet street, or better yet, a tunnel. Shift the thing into second gear, turn off the ignition, wait for awhile and turn it back on.

    The resultant backfire would make an M-80 sound like a cap gun!!

    Now, we did this same trick with a lot of other cars and the results were mixed.

    But..NOTHING would make a window busting explosion like that old Vauxall!!

    Oh, the good old days....
  • MarkinAtlantaMarkinAtlanta Member Posts: 194
    The English have been making these since, I think, the 1930s. The current Roadster (they hand make about 300 per year) hasn't changed much in 30 years. One of their earliest cars was a trike (yup, three wheeler).
  • MarkinAtlantaMarkinAtlanta Member Posts: 194
    That car at the top of this page is a Morgan.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Hmmmm....maybe it is a Morgan...similar but doors don't look right...could be a generic picture...biggest change in the last ten years to the new Morgan is the V-8 engine, a reworked Buick made by Rover, and I believe no more wood in the body...I can't imagine paying that kind of money for that kind of car...we are talking primitive here....

    Yes, R5 turbo2 was about 1300cc 4 cylinder motor...I think you're right, SHOGUN wasn't an R-5, then...yeah, might have been Fiesta chassis, very possible, tough little car...I can't imagine a Festiva supporting any modifications...
  • C13C13 Member Posts: 390
    Fiesta had a robust chassis? I'm surprised.

    Always thought the Festiva had great styling for its class. I like mini's, micros,...all categories.

    Lots of good little mini's (not to be confused with the original Mini) seem to me to have deserved getting one fairly hot model. Not, perhaps, quite as hot as the Shogun, but something approaching a Mini Cooper S.

    Let's have a contest. Name the car on the top of the page. Employees are ineligible to compete, unless they don't know who to go ask, in which case their guess is as good as anybody's, but then how will we ever confirm the car's i.d.?

    I'm gonna take a wild stab and call it a Fiat, partly to make everybody say "You're nuts!" and partly because I think it might actually be.
  • ajvdhajvdh Member Posts: 223
    The Shogun was based on the Festiva (Kia/Mazda) chassis. Like I said, I see a Shogun around here on a semi-regular basis. Part of the process of turning a Festiva into a Shogun involves adding a bunch of chassis reinforcement. The Festiva was sold here in the early 90s, and was replaced by the Aspire(ing to be a car). The Fiesta was built by Ford of Germany and imported in the late '70s to early/mid '80s. Nice little car too - on par with the Civics and Rabbits of the time, and a step up from the Omni/Horizon when it came to ride and handling. We won't even mention the Chevette. OK, we will. One of my cow-orkers had one, and with 20k on the clock the shift lever came off in his hand.
  • ajvdhajvdh Member Posts: 223
    Here's a scary thought: The patent on Morgan's "sliding pillar" front suspension dates from 1910. And yes, that's still the design they use. It's actually not all that different from a McPherson strut in how it functions.

    They use a steel frame, but the body panels are hung on wood (Ash) supports.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Well, live and learn...a Festiva...my only experience with those is when I was riding with a friend and we slid into a curb and the car was totalled because the frame broke right in half. That was confidence inspiring. He liked the car a lot, though. I really enjoyed peering out the window at th lugnuts on the trucks next to me. I could beat that car up with my bare hands.

    The Fiesta was a tough little car, yes...had that Ford Kent engine, pretty peppy and fun to drive.
  • carnut4carnut4 Member Posts: 574
    I thought Vauxhall was it- I remember seeing them on the new car lot everytime my Dad took in his '57 Pontiac for repairs...and around the corner and down a mile or two[this wasin an L.A. suburb called Bellflower] was a small lot of really oddball imports. One of them was a Skoda. There were several of these on the lot at the time. Anyone know what country they came from?

    About the Vauxhall backfires-a high school friend and I did the same thing in his '53 Plymouth. One time, though, he left the key off a little too long. The resulting backfire blew the muffler apart. We had to dodge cops on the way home because of the noise of that old flathead six.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Kids knew how to have fun then.
    Okay, looks like your average TVR is pulling about $5-7,000 these days, except for the roadster, which must be pretty rare, I've never seen one live--called the "Taimar", made in 78 or 79...

    There's a Skoda for sale in Hemmings...a "felicia" convertible of all things, 1959...$6,000, which sounds like about $5,990 too much but I wish them luck...oh, it's got 17,000 miles on it, so maybe it's at least in pretty good shape...okay, then, $5,500 too much. Be fun to have one, though... I presume you'd be the only one on your block.
  • C13C13 Member Posts: 390
    Imagine having $6K to spend on a car and choosing a Skoda.
  • ralph124cralph124c Member Posts: 36
    Anyone seen a ROVER 3500 ? They were the result of Rover's purchase of the old Buick all-aluminum V-8 (vintage 1963), and shohorning it into the Rover 2000 sedan. I saw one in Copenhagen, Denmark a few years ago, and it looked like it was just driven out of a showroom. Unfortunately, the car suffered from many problems, one of them being the fact that they equippped the engine with those miserable SU cargurators-the engine compartment layout dictated that the carbs had to lie horizontally-no good for an SU. Anyway, are parst for these still around? With a 4-speed, it should be quite a screamer (when re-carbed).
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Actually, Ralph, that Rover V-8 is a sturdy engine but kind of a dog...we're talking very low tech here...I've only seen it perform fairly well in a Morgan, which of course is fairly light-weight. In the Range Rover, it's been, until very recently, a gas eating cow. In the 3500, you'd be lucky to do 0-60 in 12 seconds. TRIVIA: This is the car Princess Grace was killed in I believe.

    But I always liked the IDEA of the Rover 2000 very much...it tried to do what BMW succeeded in doing, just didn't have the R&D I guess. Too bad.

    Oh,I think SU carbs are actually quite good and have a completely undeserved bad reputation. They are simple and remarkably efficient. They only suffered at the hands of American mechanics who didn't take the time to understand all 3 moving parts inside...simplicity has its virtues, but one bad thing about 3 moving parts is that if you put a vice grip on one of them and beat on it with a hammer, the other two remaining good parts can't function at all. I will defend SUs to the death, so be careful what you say! ;)

    Hmmm...I also remember a Rover SD1 V-8 in a different body style than the 2000 in the USA, around late 70s, early 80s.
  • ralph124cralph124c Member Posts: 36
    Mr. Shiftright: thanks for your comments on the SU carbs. My experience is that yes, they are mechanically simple, but they do not respond to throttle changes very quickly (unlike a downdraft carburator like a Holly-Weber). In addition (I have had British cars), when the temperature got very low, the oil in the damper cylinder would get thick and gooey-inhibiting the piston movement-I generally rode around at 30 MPH on a cold morning, till the oil warmed up.I recall that the original 240Z came with Hitachi-Mikuni dual carbs that were dead ringers for the SU's, must have been made under licence? Anyhow, since the advent of EFI, all carbs have gone to that great junkyard in the sky!
  • carnut4carnut4 Member Posts: 574
    Speaking of trivia-anyone ever hear of a small import called the Lloyd? It had a gearshift lever sticking right out of the dashboard, and you worked it just like you would on the steering column-pull out and moveit up and down,etc. A really weird deal-as was the car. Can't remember what country it came from. By the way-the Skoda came from Czechoslavakia. I'm surprised there are any around. I think it was kind of like the Trabant in quality-for $6000? I don't think so-unless it included a $5500 enclosed trailer as paret of the deal.....
  • SporinSporin Member Posts: 1,066
    I agree the Skoda is made in the Czech Republic, doesn't Volkswagen AG own them now? Seems to me that modern Skodas share VW's A3 platform (NB, Golf IV, Jetta/Bora IV, Audi A3).

    The SHOGUN was definately a FESTIVA based car. I distinctly remember it because my girlfriend at the time had a regular Festiva and I remember pointing the SHOGUN out in one of my car mags. The one you always saw in the magazines was bright yellow, huge rear fender bulges with air ducts carved into them to cool the SHO engine mounted behind the driver. I didn't think it ever went into production.
  • ajvdhajvdh Member Posts: 223
    The Shogun was built by some little outfit in California. I don't know how many were actually built, but there are a few running around. They were insanely expensive, partly because Ford wouldn't sell the SHO drivetrain seperatly, nor would they sell Festiva bodyshells. So the company had to buy complete SHOs and Festivas, and then pull the drivetrain out of the SHO and gut the Festiva. No, I don't know what they did with their leftovers.
  • HenryHenry Member Posts: 1,106
    Anyone ever HEARD of a Buick Century Grand Sport.
    It is a convertible that I saw with 90,000 miles on it. It was a 1985. Guy wanted $3,000 for it.
    Tried searching the web, but nuthin came up?

    Car will probably need a new top. How expensive?
    How was Buick quilty in 1985? Am I buying a lemon if i get it?

    Is having this car going to be the parts search from hell??
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    In the early fifties, Sears, Roebuck sold new cars!

    What were they called?
  • C13C13 Member Posts: 390
  • ralph124cralph124c Member Posts: 36
    The car that SEARs sold (in very small numbers) was called the "ALLSTATE" (just like their lousy insurance. From what I read, the car was basically a slightly restyled Kaiser-Fraser (one of the worst junkheaps ever to be foisted on the American public). The cars were sold at Sears stores and from the catalogue, but due to the fact that the public had much better choices from Chevy/Ford, etc., the car was never a big seller. Eventually, Kaiser-Fraser was purchased by Nash (later American Motors), and the line disappeared.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Yes, good analysis of the problem. Too little valu for th money.

    Small correction, if I may make it for the sake of history and not for the sake of being right...Kaiser merged with Willys and then went out of business. That's why the Henry J (aka ALLSTATE) had a Willys engine. You must have been thinking of the Nash-Hudson merger that took place about the same time?

    Thanks for the other info.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    Good job!

    Yep, it was a Henry J. These were made in 4 cyl and 6 cyl versions but I think Sears only sold the 4 cyl versions.
  • ralph124cralph124c Member Posts: 36
    Mr. Shiftright: Right you are! I did a little more research on the subject of mr. Kaiser: H. J. Kaiser was a successful businessman who made a fortune building ships for the US Government during WWII. He pioneered the mass production of ships, by building them in sections, then welding them together-unlike the traditional practice of building them one by one. After the war, he decided to get into the auto business, and lost a fortune-even his expertise in ships did'nt prepare hime for the cutthroat world of autos! Shows you how difficult it is to enter this market-even more so now than in the 50's! Makes you wonder if the latest entrant (DAEWOO) will sink without a trace!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    How true, marketing a new marque is very difficult....think of all the entrepreneurs who have failed! Kaiser, Tucker, Crosley (radio & appliance baron)Delorean (no comment). I believe the last *successful* person to put their own name on a car produced in significant numbers for an appreciable time was Walter Chrysler, and that's going back...to 1924!
  • bcathcartbcathcart Member Posts: 54
    Some trivia on SU carbs from freezing Scotland.In cold areas use auto trans fluid in dampers rather than engine oil.Polish the surface of the damper chamber and the needle with fine metal polish.Do not overfill the damper chamber.Carefull balancing of pairs and triples is essential. SU name comes from Skinners Union the leather company that produced the original leather bellowed carbs.Still a good simple device which will still be in use and easily repaired when all the efi stuff is unrepairable junk.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Hear! Hear! Good for you and thanks for those very good suggestions.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Actually your question has two right answers.
  • ralph124cralph124c Member Posts: 36
    Anybody seen an NSU PRINZ lately? They were (if I'm not mistaken) the very first production car equipped with a rotary (Wankel) engine. I remeber seeing one on a used car lot-it looked a bit like a BMW 1600.
    They dealer was never able to move it-nobody knew NSU from a hole in the wall.
    Anyway, I wonder how successful they were with the Wankel rotary-as far as I know, only the Japanese (MAZDA) really made a go of rotaries.
    As for NSU; I believe they were absorbed by AUTO-UNION (AUDI) some time during the early 1970's.
    Is there any chance that the Wankel engine will stage a comeback?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Hi Ralph,

    Close, but not quite on the NSU...it was indeed an NSU that offered the true first large production Wankel engined-car, but it was the R0 80, not the Prinz...perhaps you were thinking of the Wankel Spyder, which was a two-seat convertible based on the Prinz platform but totally redesigned by Bertone...they made very few, in 1964-66.

    The R0 80 was a problem-ridden car, due to the fact that the Germans could not solve the sealing problem with the rotary's internal apex seals. This was later mastered by the Japanese, who solved all the rotary engine's problems and producted (eventually) a first-class and reliable power plant.

    The R0 80 is a much unappreciated car for another reason, though...the styling..which was really the world's first aerodynamic 4-door sedan, soon copied by the Audi 5000 and then really copied by the Taurus, which was a huge sales success.

    The Wankel was withdrawn because Mazda felt that it could not be competitive into the 21st Century, with regards to fuel consumption and emissions. I think they were right to do so, since now everyone in the compact and intermediate class production cars seems to be raising the stakes for higher and higher fuel mileage and lower and lower emissions.

    Too bad, the Wankel rotary was a great engine and a great achievement. Thanks for bringing this subject up!
  • ralph124cralph124c Member Posts: 36
    Mr. Shiftright: thanks for the info. On the subject of rotary engines, I learned from someone in the ZUK, that a rotary-engined motorcycle is made by NORTON in England.
    Also understand that GM made a major investment in rotary engines in the mid-70's , only to drop the whole project (after spending megabucks).
    I guess the piston engine still rules! I also recall that Chrysler made a few turbine powered cars in the mid-60's (and leased them out as test vehicles); wonder how that effort ended?
    Finally, we have the steam engined caes-understand a few were still made in the 1930s.
  • carnut4carnut4 Member Posts: 574
    I have a Prinz story. When I was in Jr High, the vice-principal had a red '59 Prinz. One day as he was stepping out of his office door, he found that the door wouldn't open. A bunch of rowdy eigth-graders had picked up his car and placed it sideways against his office door. [California school with those 'wings' and exterior doors on every room]. I think he had to climb out his window to move the car. A bunch of us laughed about that one.
  • C13C13 Member Posts: 390
    Tsk, tsk, tsk.

    Rowdy behavior, Carnut.

    I, for one, am shocked.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    A vice-principal driving an NSU Prinz? Maybe he should have kept a lower profile...

    Yes, GM was going to put the Wankel in a number of their cars, but backed out because the engines were so fuel-thirsty at the time...early 70s...same with the Chrysler turbines, to say nothing of red hot exhaust blasting out the tailpipe and melting everything (or everyone) close by.....Rover actually raced a turbine car, as I recall....steam cars were put out of business by the self-starter motor in 1913, and just hung on for another 10-15 years.

    Yep, piston engines rule, and will continue to rule into the foreseeable future. You can thank microprocessors for saving it.
  • carnut4carnut4 Member Posts: 574
    I forgot to mention something about that jr. high I went to where the vice-principal drove the Prinz. The janitor was a retired military, and drove a new Cadillac! I also remember the counselor, who drove a little RAmbler American station wagon. Go figure....
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Someone driving a Rambler giving OTHER people advice?!! Be afraid, be very afraid....
  • badgerpaulbadgerpaul Member Posts: 219
    I remember my elementary school principal had a new aqua 65 Impala SS 396. She had to be about 30 at the time, we were all scared to death of her, but I remember our fathers never minded having to go to parent teacher conferences.
This discussion has been closed.