Build Your Own 50s-60s Dream Car

Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
edited March 2014 in Buick

1. You can pick any 1950-69 vehicle, car or truck up to 3/4 ton, no busses, tanks, etc.

2. It can be foreign or domestic.

3. You can match any engine to any car, even if it is ridiculous or expensive, BUT IT MUST BE A 50s or 60S POWERPLANT. No modern hot rods in other words. Also all the components you add must be 50s or 60s.

4. You MUST, however, explain to use why you built the Dream Car you built...I mean, other than "because I wanted to". We'd like to know your rational, goal, strategy, prejudices, etc.

5. You can modify the bodies within reason, such as cutting a coupe that was never a convertible, but not welding two cars together, etc. etc, like Monster Garage.

6. Basically, think of the game this way---you are building the car that no manufacturer had the genius to build for you.

Remember, 50s or 60s components throughout, no Monster Garage stuff, jet engines, etc. This is to be a roadable everyday driver.
Cost is no object. You can have all the Mopar Hemi or Ferrari engines you want.



  • argentargent Member Posts: 176
    I like classy two-door coupes with decent ride and handling. So:

    A 1965 Buick Riviera Gran Sport with all the interior trimmings. Add the "ride and handling" package (HD shocks and springs, fast-ratio steering), a rear anti-roll bar (dunno if one off an Olds 442 would fit, but there were lots of aftermarket parts that probably would). Adapt the four-wheel disc brakes from a Corvette Sting Ray with a set of Hurst's short-lived but quite nice alloy wheels. Replace the old nailhead engine with a '69 Buick 400 Stage One out of a GS400, and maybe add a Hurst dual-gate shifter. Not exactly a dragstrip scorcher, but an attractive and flexible 'gentleman's express' that would not be embarrassed to show its face in polite society.
  • bhill2bhill2 Member Posts: 2,257
    The GTO, at least through '67, was just a Lemans of the same body style with enhancements. Pontiac, for obvious(?) reasons, never offered that treatment on the 4-door hardtop. That's what I would do. Take the chassis, with suspension, brakes, and drivetrain, of a GTO and screw on (in) the body and interior of the 4-door hardtop. No GTO badges. I don't know why that would delight me, but it would. Call me weird. You won't be the first.

    2009 BMW 335i, 2003 Corvette cnv. (RIP 2001 Jaguar XK8 cnv and 1985 MB 380SE [the best of the lot])

  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHMember Posts: 22,250
    remember the Ranchero pickup on the little Falcon? How about a full Shelby treatment:

    Start with a '66 Falcon Ranchero, add K-Code 289 V8 (305hp in GT-350 trim), add Mustang disc brakes, oil cooler, GT-350 gears and rear end, springs and shocks. Some halogen headlights, grille center fogs and a Shelby Blue paint job with white LeMans striping, Halibrand Cobra style mags.

    If that's not fast enough there's always the Paxton supercharger set up from the GT-350S.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • argentargent Member Posts: 176
    A Dodge Fire Arrow III convertible (Virgil Exner-styled roadster built by Ghia on a 1954 Dodge convertible chassis, the basis for the limited-production Dual-Ghia of 1956-1958), but on a more modern chassis -- perhaps a '67-'68 Plymouth Road Runner/GTX, which had similar dimensions -- with torsion-beam front suspension, heavy-duty springs and shocks, and disc brakes, at least in front. Rather than a Hemi, which seems obvious, I'd go with a 440 Super Commando 4-bbl and Torqueflite.


    Leather interior like this, full gauges, custom wheels -- although I think it demands the fat whitewalls.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Nice idea argent. Could we get rid of the bumper car strip around the beltline, though?

    These were all good ideas so far.

    Here's mine:

    A '55 Buick convertible, fitted with a medium powered, low compression Corvette engine from the mid-60s, coupled to a TH400 automatic, Camaro disc brakes from I don't know what yet, and GS suspension pieces wherever possible. Baloney whites, spinner hubs, fake stock radio that hides a CD stacker, later GM a/c unit, Corvette p/s steering box. I might also think of imaginative ways to decrease sprung and unsprung weight wherever possible., like inflatable spare tire, and if it saved enough weight, IRS with disk brakes in the rear (lotta work there).
  • argentargent Member Posts: 176
    Well, I'd probably go with chrome side trim rather than the white painted strip, but I like the idea of the trim strip. The Grand Prix/Riviera clean body sides look may be great in the showroom, but for actual driving in cities with parking lots, it sucks!
    Rear disc brakes were optional (albeit very, very rare) on Camaros in 1968 and 1969. IRS does not necessarily reduce total weight versus a live axle (on a modern Mustang Cobra, for example, the IRS is heavier than the live axle)...the key is to reduce _unsprung_ weight to improve ride and handling.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Member Posts: 1,711
    Here's my choice: a '65 Volvo PV544 sedan, with these modifications- a high-output dual-carb (Weber) B18 from a '66 or '67 P1800, hooked to an M46 manual gearbox, Mercedes SL 4-wheel-disc brakes, and a rear end from an 1800. I think this would be the ultimate, sporting, indestructible old Volvo around. Everything else would remain stock.
  • argentargent Member Posts: 176
    Okay, both of my previous ideas have been relatively we need some "things that should not be...unless it's fun."

    So here's a perverse idea. A 1964 Checker Marathon sedan...

    Let's see, a blocky, sturdy, stodgy taxi cab (actually not at all huge by 60s standards -- a '64 sedan was 200 inches long on a 120-inch wheelbase, with a shipping weight of around 3650 pounds). A small voice screams "Hemi," but how about an Oldsmobile 455 ala Hurst/Olds, with a Turbo Hydramatic and Positraction? Perhaps with a W-30-type fresh-air intake fabricated for the purpose.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,785
    ...but I was always under the impression that they were H-U-G-E inside! I found some stats on the web though, that list interior volumes of cars in 1978, and the Checker only comes up as a midsize. Something like 100 cubic feet of interior volume, and 14 cubic feet of trunk space. In comparison, a downsized '78 Malibu sedan is 102/17, while a '78 Caprice/Impala sedan is around 110/21. Were they really not all that big inside?

    I like that idea though, taking something stodgy and conservative and turning it into a monster. Another car I always thought would be a good candidate for that would be a '67-69 Valiant 2-door sedan (or maybe a '67-68 Dart 2-door sedan). Something like this you wouldn't even need a big-block...a 340 would do just fine! Maybe upgrade it to the 4.5" bolt pattern, so that you could put some 15x7 copcar rims on it with the little dog-dish hubcaps.
  • hudnut2hudnut2 Member Posts: 13
    My dream car is the Italia with "different" styling. The european styling plus,a slight update in the engine department, not the 202 jet motor with Twin "H", but the 192 hp 4.0 litre jeep tweeked with Clifford Performance parts and Borla disc's all the way around.. just a little improvement
  • argentargent Member Posts: 176
    American cars of the 50s and 60s were big in terms of overall size, not so hot on efficient use of space -- you got lots of monstrous cars with mammoth hoods, lots of overhang, but cramped rear legroom. Checkers were built on the minivan principle...their overall exterior dimensions weren't colossal, but being basically large boxes on wheels, they had much more available space.
    Making a Dart or Valiant into a monster is not all that tough. There were at least 50 '69 Darts built with Hemis, for example, although they weren't very driveable on the street. If you don't want to sweat, a 340 is the better bet--a 383 crowds the engine bay very badly (it took Chrysler engineers two years to work out a new power steering pump to allow p/s to be ordered on 383 Darts and Barracudas), and a 440 has wider heads that basically rule out power steering or brakes. The 340 also weighs 90 pounds or so less than the 383, and it doesn't have so much torque that traction becomes a major problem.
  • wq59bwq59b Member Posts: 61
    There was an updated-to-'56 styling Packard Panther Daytona hardtop concept with a 3-window close-coupled greenhouse & '56's thru-bumper exhaust & cathedral taillights. Slick- but I don't have a pic of the front end- a '56 400's front would be fine. I'd take that with a '64 Caddy 390/TH400 powertrain and a buckets/console interior, scratch-built to fit the period & marque.

    There was also an earlier prototype '53 Panther with another close-coupled roofline & an enormous rear deck. Let's go with a Chrysler Crossram 413 and a TF727 in that one.
    I like both these designs because the proportions are so different than anything else & I prefer long deck/short hood designs. They're both sleek & 'jukebox' at the same time.

    I also really like the '55 Packard Request because the front end is so wonderfully intimidating & beautiful. (I have no idea why I am gravitating towards Packards tonight). Perhaps I'd go with Pontiac power in that one- a nice '64 421 HO and a 4-speed, a Dana 60 rear and Buick aluminum drums. Or.... maybe drop the Request body on the chassis of a '58 Fury and keep the 305HP/350 & pushbutton TF727 Fury powertrain.

    The '63 Chrysler Turbine is a pretty clean design too, lots of 'thrust' in it's lines. I'd get a good-performing turbine plant in there, alter the front finned headlight bezels to free-wheel in motion, do the same for those giant back-up light bezels (electrically driven?). The wild contour of the rear deck is awesome- nothing like that has ever been done automotively since. But the car needs to be dropped evenly a good 2-3 inches and it also needs a good 2-3" chop & no vinyl top. The interior is fantastic as is. Bigger wheels/wider tires.

    On the other hand, I am building something that almost follows these rules to a T: '59 Buick Invicta coupe, '72 Buick 455, Stage 2 aluminum heads (aftermarket), '59 aluminum drums with Kevlar shoes, TH400, Dana 60, ladder bars, nosed, decked & shaved, period interior, dropped & raked.

    The only things I'd do other than what I am (budget restrictions) is go with a 4L80-E (TH400 with electronic OD), an underhood blower on mild boost and angle-chop the top (1" lower in the back & 2.5" lower in front). Bodywise I'd visually extend the rear deck by shortening the greenhouse. And scratch-build a 4-bucket/full-console interior in the vein of the '60 300-F.
    This one I like because it's the angriest car ever penned and I identify with that. A rip-snorting performance car should LOOK as mean as it's fast. The '59 Buick is graceful and well-integrated overall, yet the front looks like a stainless steel ramming device. That's good.
  • grbeckgrbeck Member Posts: 2,361
    An alternative to the minivan - a 1965 Oldsmobile Cutlass Vista Cruiser (the model with the raised roof) with the engine and suspension from a 1965 4-4-2, along with disc brakes from a late 1960s Cutlass. Or, better yet, Corvette four-wheel disc brakes. The transmission would be a late 1960s Turbohydramatic.

    The interior would feature bucket seats from a late 1960s 4-4-2, while the exterior would boast the styled steel wheels that Oldsmobile offered in the late 1960s on the Cutlasses. Chrome would be kept to a minimum, with no hood scoops, stripes, etc., to clutter up the design. And, of course, no woodgrain along the sides.
  • ndancendance Member Posts: 323
    A simple to build one would be the following...a '69 Camaro SS/RS convertible with an L72 (since 454's are not allowed given the rules)/rock crusher/JL8 brakes/ZL2 hood/gauge package/power steering/ factory FM/ konis / bars / Minilite wheels... I used to own nearly this (except with L89 / 2 wheel disks) and wouldn't mind another. Pretty boring concept, really.

    Next...street legal Lola T70 with 302 Chevy.

    A non fender flared / non hood scooped / non side piped 427 Cobra except pitch the 427 and use a Boss 302 (a 1969 one, of course).

    Hmmm...maybe a 1955 Porsche Speedster, except built like a Baja Bug. Raised, 2 liter VW engine (maybe a type IV if I can if those were around in really late 1969), tall wheels and tires, cage, etc.

    How about a 1969 Ford (Mercury, whatever) Capri with a Cosworth V8...there was a road racer built with this setup back in the day.

    ...a 1969 Monteverdi 375 with Paxton-blown 426 hemi.
  • grbeckgrbeck Member Posts: 2,361
    The perfect stealth car - a white 1960 Rambler American two-door sedan, complete with dog dish hubcaps. Somehow, stuff a fuel-injected small-block Chevy V-8 in the engine bay, connect it to a four-speed Corvette transmission and use the suspension and brakes from a 1965 Corvette. The tires would be 1960s Michelin radials. Make sure the exhaust sounds like a stock Rambler (if that is possible). Then go a-huntin'.
  • argentargent Member Posts: 176
    I had a wonderful idea last night. It's awful, and it's clear I'm going straight to hell just for contemplating this.

    We all know that Pontiac's GTO shared its name with the famous Ferrari. I was thinking, "what else do 60's Ferraris and Pontiacs have in common?"

    So here's the recipe:

    - Take one 1963 Pontiac Tempest Custom sports coupe. (I prefer the exterior of the Custom to the LeMans, except perhaps the LeMans three-bar grille -- I think the LeMans horizontal taillights are dowdy.)
    - Remove slant-four engine and transmission. Install:

    3.3L DOHC V-12, driveshaft, and 5-speed transaxle from a mid-60s Ferrari 275 GTB/4. Yup, that's right, the Colombo V-12, all alloy, twin cams, six Weber 40DCN carburetors. It was claimed to have 300 hp, but from what I've read 260 or so was more likely -- no matter.

    I dunno what kind of nightmarish fabrication would be necessary to make this fit. The Colombo V-12 is actually about six inches shorter than the Pontiac engine, and somewhat lighter, but beyond that...well, since I'd be selling my soul to the devil to make this happen in the first place, why not?

    - Some judicious modifications to the suspension and brakes. I don't know how much could be done with the handling, especially the Tempest's miserably slow steering box. '63 Tempests I think had an improved trailing arm rear suspension (ala '63 Sting Ray or '65 Corvair), but they're still pretty hoppy. Best available radial tires, alloy wheels.
    - Custom interior with a full set of gauges replacing the awful Tempest dash, and some proper bucket seats.
    - A liberal helping of "GTO" badges for the exterior.
    Why would I do such a thing? Sheer perversity. This is a sick idea, but it makes me giggle just thinking about it, and the looks of horror on the faces of purists in both the Poncho and prancing-horse cults alone would almost be worth it.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Well Bill Harrah, the famous collector/entrepreneur in Nevada, actually did install that engine into a Jeep Wagoneer...yes, it was called a Jerrari I believe.

    The biggest problem I see with this "Tempari", aside from the expense (let's see...maybe $15K for a rebuildable 3.3 V-12 and another $30K to really do it up), would be how to keep a Pontiac Tempest on the ground at 170 mph.

    I'd expect you'd want to gear it down differentially and fiddly with the aero considerably.

    You might not win a 0-60 with a big block but you could kiss them goodbye at about 115 mph.
  • bhill2bhill2 Member Posts: 2,257
    Hmmm, your idea of the Rambler American with a small block Chevy interests me, but you may be making life more difficult than necessary. The American ran strictly sixes, but its square and befinned not-much-larger sibling (I think that it was just called the Rambler) was available with a 250 ci V-8. This was not a small engine on the outside, so I bet a Chevy 327 or 350, or a Chrysler 340, should fit in with only fabricated engine mounts. The rest of the treatment would be as you described. This car looks so funky that I think it would be as good a sleeper as the American.

    2009 BMW 335i, 2003 Corvette cnv. (RIP 2001 Jaguar XK8 cnv and 1985 MB 380SE [the best of the lot])

  • rea98drea98d Member Posts: 982
    Well, my dream car has always been a '57 Thunderbird with a 4.0 Jaguar V-8, but since that's a '90's engine, I'll have to find something else to power it. I'm thinking F-code supercharged 318 V-8 that a very few Thunderbirds came with that year. Color would have to be turquoise, with white hard & soft tops and white leather interior. Chromed wire wheels, with wide whitewalls.
    Why? It's perhaps one of the most beautiful cars Ford ever made, and with the supercharged engine, it'll move, even if handling and braking aren't up to 2003 standards.
  • argentargent Member Posts: 176
    Given the "dream car" theme, if you weren't obsessed with authenticity, why not a '57 Thunderbird with a later 289/302 engine? For example, a 1968 Shelby GT-350 302 engine with the Paxton supercharger -- it had similar power, wasn't as highly tuned or rough as a 289 K-code (hydraulic lifters), and was at least 100 pounds lighter than the old Y-block. With less weight on the nose, and a switch back to the faster steering ratio of the '55 Thunderbird, the handling's a bit better. Dump the original transmission for a Select-Shift C6 Cruise-O-Matic, upgrade the brakes, and it seems a much more driveable package.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHMember Posts: 22,250
    with Paxton blowers (factory option)?

    The biggest problem with that Temparri would be that cruddy rope of a driveshaft Pontic used. Maybe you could use the Ferrari one, I'm not savvy about adapting driveshafts.

    Fun topic Mr. S, even better than the Mink test.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • argentargent Member Posts: 176
    Yes, as the previous poster said, there were about 200 or so "F-code" '57 T-birds with a $500 supercharger package. They were basically only for racing. I'm suggesting that the hydraulic-lifter 302, which is a lighter and generally better engine, would be better, if we're dreaming.
    I figure to make the unholy V-12 Tempest, the Ferrari driveshaft would be adapted -- since the engine on one end and transaxle on the other would be the Ferrari parts anyway. The driveshafts on the Tempest and the 275 had very different design philosophies. On the Tempest, the shaft was deliberately somewhat flexible (hence the "rope drive" nickname) to absorb the massive, unbalanced vertical shaking of the big four-cylinder engine. High revs were not a priority (maximum usable rpm was well under 5,000). On the Ferrari, after the earliest production models they adopted a rigid tube to enclose the driveshaft. Because the Ferrari engine was much higher revving (and, being a 12, didn't have the same secondary forces), what was a big problem was that if the driveshaft alignment wasn't precise, it could shake things loose in a very expensive and dangerous manner.

    The difference between an engine with an 8,000 rpm redline and a 4,600 rpm redline...
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I don't think a 60s Rambler American could take a big engine of that power. The frame would just twist massively. The American was an incredibly cheesy car as I recall, and I don't think any amount of strengthening would stabilize it.

    Basically you'd have to lift the body off and put it on some other structure, like with a funny car.

    Oh, yeah, 55-57 T-Birds would be excellent candidates for a powertrain transplant. Don't forget to insulate the passenger compartment against engine heat, which Ford did forget to do.
  • hudnut2hudnut2 Member Posts: 13
    As the Rambler American {all amc's} were/are unitized bodies, often prone to the old recycles SALT. evens everything out.. The 57 AMC v-8 was a 327 cu in surprise. The block was thick enough to start at 250 cu in all the way to 401 cubes in the Matador.. Remember the L.A police cars? anyway the 327 would make a 57 283 gasp in disbelief-just the torque tube driveshafts wouldn't take a beating for too awful long...
  • hudnut2hudnut2 Member Posts: 13
    1st find a rust free Yugo {har har}
    then get a 3800 twin turbo out of a GMC cyclone P/U. Then reinforce the Yugo with about 500lbs of titanium boxed tubing, tub the rearend, and move the drivers seat to the back. Then find the biggest disc's you can hang on that baby along with a parachute on the back just in case... oh, ah, shoot I was just getting to the good stuff..golly this isn't a 50-60s..darn
  • argentargent Member Posts: 176
    AMC dropped the torque-tube rear suspension for 1967. The '67-on AMCs had four-link coil spring rear suspensions. They also got the new AMC V-8, which was considerably lighter and more efficient than the old 327. It started in '66 as a 290, and was eventually offered in 304, 343, 360, 390, and 401 form (all the same basic block). The '67-'68 models had an anemic valvetrain that got breathless above 4500 rpm, but the later Javelin and AMX layouts were better. I think the '67 AMCs were generally pretty handsome by late-sixties standards -- obviously derivative of popular Chevy and Ford style elements, but tasteful if not distinctive. The temptation to put a Hemi in a '67 Marlin is intriguing...
  • grbeckgrbeck Member Posts: 2,361
    bhill2: You're right - the standard-size Ramblers (called Classic after 1960) would be a better candidate. They still look like an old maid's car, but can accept a V-8 under the hood.

    hudnut2: The Rambler American first offered a V-8 in 1966, when it became available with AMC's new thin-wall 290 V-8. AMC did offer the 343 V-8 in a few special-order 1967 Rambler Americans, but, as Mr. Shiftright noted, those engines were too much for the body. I don't think that was a problem with the 290 V-8.

    Of course, the American was never designed for a V-8. The car was originally only supposed to be available with the straight six. Post-1963 Americans are pretty good looking cars, especially the hardtops. The previous two generations - 1958-60 and 1961-63 - are pretty homely, but have a kind of goofy charm.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Remember the early 60s American with a FLATHEAD engine? That was a piece of had DECALS for the instrument panel labels, like you put on model airplanes.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHMember Posts: 22,250
    to Porsche: brakes, suspension, wheels, engine, transaxle, exhaust etc. Since early Porsches were VW based a lot of Porsche stuff is compatible and when you're done you have a nice Q-Ship.

    This was actually done back in the day, most famously by race driver P.L. Newman (Joanne Woodward's husband).

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • rea98drea98d Member Posts: 982
    I think I'd rather do that to a Karman Ghia convertable than a Beetle, but it's still a cool idea.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    It's not really so easy, there are clearance issues with the VW bell housing, flywheel and starter changes, linkages, wiring, engine sealing, sheet metal cutting, etc., and of course you want to be careful not too install too powerful a Porsche 4 cylinder engine, as the early VW bug is very evil-handling.

    Ironically it's much easier to bolt a VW engine into a Porsche, which some people used to do, since rebuilding the Porsche engine (which is really not like a VW engine at all if you had them side by side) often costs as much as the entire car.

    I've seen Corvair engines installed in VeeDubs, mostly in busses and pickups, which is great EXCEPT you have to remember that the Corvair engine turns in the *opposite* direction of the VW engine, so that if you don't flip the VW pinion gear over, you'll have a car with one forward speed and four reverses---LOL!

    (Oh, it's been done, many times).
  • ndancendance Member Posts: 323
    in a practical world, I can't see any point in dealing with 356 engines unless there is an originality issue. Type I motors have been so heavily developed through the years that they are pretty hard to beat...there does seem to be a lot of interest in type IV lately though.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    That's right---Actually a nicely built VW engine would produce considerably more power than a 356 engine...but it wouldn't last as long of course.

    I agree. A 356 engine is not the one you want to be trying to turn into a powerhouse.

    You could cram a Porsche 911S engine into a 914---that would be scary and mighty quick.
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHMember Posts: 22,250
    would be the motor from a 911 Turbo in a 914 but that takes us out of range of this topic (911 turbos debuted in'76).

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Yes, we'd have to open a "How To Commit Suicide By Engine Conversion" topic for that one---LOL!

    Just the THOUGHT of combining the natural tendency of mid engine cars to spin visciously (once they get started I mean), added to the viscious early 911 turbo lag (often coming on when the car is totally imbalanced in the turn) and you'd have, probably, one of the scariest cars ever built.

    I once researched putting a 1973 Porsche 911 engine into a 1966 Porsche 912. That would have been a sweet car, because I could have left the "912" emblem on it and cleaned up every British sports car in the county.

    The reason I would not use 60s 911 engines is because the Porsche Webers are a pain to tune and the 60s fuel injection (mechanical only) is rough running and cranky.
  • argentargent Member Posts: 176
    I've long had a hankering to customize a Thunderbird along the lines of how Bob Tasca Ford did a '64 T-Bird in an old HRM article I read a while back. When the "Glamour Bird" was introduced, Tasca (the same Ford dealer who originated a number of other high-performance Ford packages, including the 428CJ Mustang) gave it a thorough working over. Out went the 390 and standard Cruise-O-Matic; in went a blueprinted 427 with a shift-kit C-6. He pulled off most of the chrome gewgaws and added a set of tasteful single side-trim strips, and replaced the nose clip with a simpler, lighter arrangement (I didn't care for the French rectangular headlamps he used, though). The car's suspension was lowered, heavy-duty shocks, an "export" sway bar and springs were installed, beefier wheels and brakes were fitted, and the steering ratio was reduced numerically. HRM was amazed: the T-bird weighed something like 150 pounds less than stock, and it flew -- 0-60 in 6 seconds flat, with an observed top speed of over 130 mph. Handling and braking were about an order of magnitude better (and this with the '64 drums, not discs)...which means that it'd probably just about qualify for "sick whale" status by modern standards.

    I like the looks of the Flair 'birds, basically for the opposite reason I like the '63-'65 Riviera. The Riv is actually tasteful; the T-Bird is not, but it's such an astonishing pastiche of 60s styling cliches (fake scoops, fake landau S-bars, fender skirts, the 'sport roadster' tonneau) that it's a wonderful period piece. But it's SO awful dynamically that it'd be hard for me to live with one without extensive working over, I suspect. This is a car that was decried for its ghastly handling and brakes _by the standards of 1964_, an era from which the BEST American cars generally handle like drunken shopping cars.
  • argentargent Member Posts: 176
    (I dunno about the rest of you, but I'm having so much fun with this topic that I don't want to let it die...)

    I have a strange affection for the Kaiser Manhattans of the early 50s, especially the '53 in lavish Dragon trim -- with "bambu" vinyl. Not a sexy car, but certainly neat-looking.
    image (interior)

    Although I like the blue ones better (Kaiser specialized in unusual and distinctive paint schemes).

    Kaiser designers penned a true hardtop Manhattan, but KF's finances didn't allow that, or a convertible. But it would've been a nifty-looking car, and a pillarless coupe with bigger side windows would've eliminated the heavy door frames that are arguably the most jarring visual element of the design.

    So make me a '53 Manhattan hardtop coupe. The other problem with Kaisers is that they didn't have money for a V-8, and the old L-head six struggled to make 112-118 gross horsepower (the last few '54-'55s got a McCulloch supercharger for about 140 hp, but they also tended to blow up). The Kaisers weren't that heavy (3100-3200 lbs), but they could barely get out of their own way. Substituting a later lightweight V-8 would probably help. This isn't a muscle car, so perhaps a Mopar 273 in 4-bbl (235 hp) form. It could use more brake, of course, and if there was some way to install a better, faster ratio power steering box, that'd be nice, too. It would certainly be an attention-grabbing car, but in a sort of laid-back and funky manner.
  • bhill2bhill2 Member Posts: 2,257
    so can I. I have always had an irrational attraction to the '58-'60(ish) Ramblers. They are so square and funky. For maximum funk make mine an Ambassador 4-door hardtop -- oh hell, make it an Ambassador 4-door hardtop station wagon. The engine would have to be a small block, perhaps one of the gnarlier Corvette 327s. It would have to be backed up with an automatic (Turbohydramatic, I guess), a 4-speed would be too out of character. Usual upgrades on the steering, brakes, suspension. I'm into comfort, so I want A/C.

    There is in this scenario a question that I have always wondered about, however. The engine that came in that car (327/270) had made the '57 Rambler Rebel a major player in the performance arena. In fact I remember reading that in '57 only the fuel-injected Corvette could stay with it. So how quick was my dream car in stock form? Maybe I shouldn't mess with the drivetrain, and should concentrate on the other stuff. I'll have to think about that.

    2009 BMW 335i, 2003 Corvette cnv. (RIP 2001 Jaguar XK8 cnv and 1985 MB 380SE [the best of the lot])

  • argentargent Member Posts: 176
    The 1957 Rambler Rebel was rated 255 hp and 345 lbs-ft of torque with the 327 engine. Only 1500 of them were built, with a base price of $2,786.

    Bendix "Electrojector" fuel injection (developed with Chrysler and advertised for 1958 Chryslers) was shown at auto shows and in ads, claiming 288 hp, but it's not entirely clear if any were actually sold that way.

    A Rebel did 0-60 in 7.2 seconds and topped 115 mph at the Daytona Speed Week trials, although I dunno how stock it actually was, and I suspect that was probably with stick shift (and a high numerical axle ratio). Given the Rambler economy car image, more Ramblers were sold with three-speed or overdrive than most other domestics, but I imagine most V-8 models had automatic -- in '57 that was still the GM controlled-coupling Hydra-Matic, which Nash called "Flashaway."

    Funky lookin' thing, to be sure.

    image (I think this is Bill Lenharth's car, which has won lots of show trophies.)
  • rea98drea98d Member Posts: 982
    Back in the closet!!!!!
    Please! Put it back in the closet!!!!

    That thing is........BAAAHHHHHH!!!!!

    (This coing from a guy who likes '59 Cadillacs!)
  • grbeckgrbeck Member Posts: 2,361
    At least Rambler had abandoned skirted front wheels by 1957.

    Every year a former Nash/AMC dealer in Orbisonia, Pa. (about 70 miles northwest of Harrisburg in a VERY rural part of the state) puts on a show of Nash and AMC products at his home in the mountains. Last year he had several very clean Nashes and Ramblers for sale. Unfortunately, his asking prices were way out of line, even for original cars in #2 condition. If I had a scanner, I could post some of the photos I took at the show...although they might give rea98d a good scare.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,785
    ...were a good early example of form following function. Even though they were considered compacts, they probably had almost as much useable interior room as a '57 Chevy, Ford or Plymouth. It was just packaged in a more upright, stubby package. Kinda like alot of the cars of today.

    I always kinda likened the '87-91 Camry to a '60's AMC had the same clean, appliance-like lines. The current Camry is more like the '57 Rambler. Upright, roomy and efficient, but not too pretty to look at ;-)
  • hudnut2hudnut2 Member Posts: 13
    I'd like to put up a pic of an AMC3 concept vehicle, sharp, however I don't have one.. I think you would be surprised that AMC styling was that good. Still like an AMX, dark green with a beige interior, ah someday. Meanwhile my '54 Blue Super Wasp will be in S.I.A. Special Interest Autos issue.. We did a 5 car compersion drive report in August 2001. I'll never do another one like that again!!
  • argentargent Member Posts: 176
    I think the AMX/3 was pretty nice -- it was built by Giotto Bizzarrini from a Richard Teague design. Teague is one of the most underrated designers of the American industry, the Pacer not withstanding. It was intended as AMC's answer to the De Tomaso Pantera, which Ford sold through L-M dealers in the early 70s, but abandoned because management chickened out on the anticipated price. It would've had a mid-mounted 390 with a four-speed transaxle. The prototypes were quick, but had lots of aerodynamic lift, making them scary at track speeds. Six of them were built, the first one a non-running prototype; Dick Teague owned three of them for a while.

  • bhill2bhill2 Member Posts: 2,257
    Well, I was thinking of the '58-'60 jobs, which were somewhat less, uhhhh, 'unique' than the '57, but if argent can have his Kaiser Dragon then I get to have my Nash Rambler.

    2009 BMW 335i, 2003 Corvette cnv. (RIP 2001 Jaguar XK8 cnv and 1985 MB 380SE [the best of the lot])

  • argentargent Member Posts: 176
    This is a '59 Rambler Custom:

    Not substantively less weird than the '57, I think, and it wasn't until '63 that the bigger Ramblers lost the awkward reverse-canted C pillars.

    The smaller Rambler Americans looked considerably less peculiar. This '59 actually looks a lot like a Volvo PV544 to me --

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    It looks less peculiar because it was influenced by Italian designers, who knew a lot more about avoiding ugliness than whoever designed the '59 Classic---if anyone actually would admit to it.
  • argentargent Member Posts: 176
    I think the later 60's AMCs, with the exception of the '65-'66 Marlin, are at least tasteful, thanks to Dick Teague. The mid-sixties Ambassadors, in particular, while obviously borrowing a lot of cues from the big three, were nicely done. The late 50s models tend to seem like gruesome 7/8ths-scale parodies of the worst excess of GM and Chrysler styling, though.
  • chris396chris396 Member Posts: 53
    How about a '69 RS SS Camaro with a ZL1 detuned a bit and topped with a ?67 Corvette tripower setup for better street drivability. Add 4-wheel disks and maybe some kind of foreign 5-speed overdrive.

    Or maybe a ?65 Riviera with the same 4-wheel Corvette disk brakes, later Buick suspension, and a 455 stage one with all power options and AC.
  • ndancendance Member Posts: 323
    the ZL1 to live for very long, that would be cool...I'd stick with a single 4bbl, though. Definitely throw in a better pair of seats, go for the tach/speedo/gas gauge setup instead of the floor console (probably the most single dangerous thing in these cars, IMO). Nash 6-speed of course...and some real work on suspension, I've always been amazed how badly SS's handle.
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