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Classic Car News - ClassicCars.com Journal

Automotive Lies and Urban Legends: Drive the Bid Podcast

Ever have a friend who tells you an automotive tale that just doesn’t jibe with reality? Or do you keep on stumbling upon bad click-bait online articles from Eastern European car websites with bad information? Maybe there’s that casual meme on Facebook that is patently false, yet brand patriots don’t care about the truth? Then this episode of AutoHunter Drive the Bid Podcast is for you!

Derek Shiekhi and I discuss lame, lying friends and automotive urban legends that lie to the unwitting about the cars we love. Sometimes it’s not intentional but nostalgia has a way of refining history that meets another purpose.

Volkswagen New Beetle RSi (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Our Quick Take features the 2001-03 Volkswagen New Beetle RSi, while a quick profile focuses on pioneering aftermarket hot rodder Ed Iskenderian.

For news, we discuss the station wagon that Volkswagen is not planning to send to America, and the Porsche that Delta Airlines is using to help you make your connection.

Finally, we discuss several vehicles currently listed on AutoHunter that include a hot-rodded 1971 Chevrolet Nova, 2006 Corvette Z06 with 2,800 miles, two-tone 1964 Pontiac GTO, and 1977 GMC C2500 Sierra Classic with a nice mix of options.

AutoHunter Cinema has plenty of other videos and podcasts created by the experts behind ClassicCars.com, the world’s largest online collector car marketplace. AutoHunter brings forth a dedicated live customer support team, quicker auction listings and exclusive benefits for both buyers and sellers.


AutoHunter Spotlight: 1996 Toyota Hilux Surf

Are you looking for a 4×4 that will stand out from other vehicles on the trail?

Featured on AutoHunter, the online auction platform driven by ClassicCars.com, is this 1996 Toyota Hilux Surf SSR-X.

This eye-catching sport-utility vehicle was originally manufactured for the Japanese market but was imported to the United States later in life. It is being sold by a dealer in Cleveland, Tennessee, and the auction ends on Tuesday. And the closer we look at it, the more we realize it is a truly unique find.

The Toyota 4Runner has been around for 40 years – first sold in 1984 in the United States as a version of the Japanese-market “Hilux Surf” N60 Series sport-utility vehicle. At its core, that vehicle was essentially a modified version of the brand’s short-bed compact pickups. The formula worked, and Toyota continued to build on the momentum in subsequent generations. By the mid-1990s, an all-new body design was launched called the N180. 

Today’s featured N180 is special because its already-capable chassis has been upgraded with enhancements that give it a competitive advantage in off-road scenarios: Included on the list are LED headlights, a roof-mounted light bar, fender flares, 33-inch Yokohama tires, a four-inch body lift, and a recently-serviced braking system. This Hilux Surf is ready for the street or trail.

Of course, one of the most unique things about this vehicle is the fact that it has a right-hand-drive cabin configuration. Also, the gauge cluster is presented in kilometers per hour instead of miles per hour, consistent with units of measure from where it originated. The 161,426 indicated kilometers comes out to about 100,206 miles, which for a Toyota like this just getting started.

Under the hood, power comes from a 3RZ-FE 2.7-liter inline-four mated to a four-speed automatic transmission and dual-range transfer case. This combination isn’t known to be a hugely powerful source of momentum, but the good news is that maintenance is up to date. Recent work included replacement of the transmission fluid, battery, air conditioning refrigerant, spark plugs, serpentine belt, distributor cap, and rotor.

Be sure to check out the dealer’s detailed 24-minute video included in the listing which outlines the cosmetic, mechanical, and driveability aspects of the vehicle. With a presentation this thorough, potential bidders can enjoy a greater level of confidence in buying something sight-unseen. And one lucky winner will drive this unique 4×4 home. Will it be you?

The auction for this 1996 Toyota Hilux Surf SSR-X ends Tuesday, February 27, 2024 at 11:30 a.m. (MST)

Visit the AutoHunter listing for more information and photo gallery


Acura ZDX Prices Will Start at $65,745

Remember the Cadillac Lyriq? It’s the fancy EV SUV that doesn’t seem to have been a hot seller (calendar year sales for 2023 amounted to 9,155). Possibly a hotter seller will be Acura’s first EV effort based on the Lyriq’s Ultium platform. As Acura has just released pricing on this Yankee-Nipponese hybrid (the joint project, not the propulsion method), we thought it appropriate to tell you a little bit more about this SUV since it’s not every day you find a Japanese car based on an American.

If the name “ZDX” seems familiar, it may be because Acura used this name for a coupe-like SUV from 2010-13. The 2024 ZDX is completely different, playing the role of large, conventional SUV aside of the fact that it’s an EV. The model starts off as an A-Spec RWD with one electric motor that produces 342 horsepower. Along with a 102-kWh battery pack, you should be able to go 325 miles on one charge when the planets are aligned. Add AWD to the A-Spec (a $4,000 bump in price that includes a second motor), and your horsepower goes up to 459 and your range goes down to 315.

If you wish for something more exciting, then the Type S is your jam. Does 500 horsepower interest you? The powertrain consists of dual motors, adjustable air suspension with adaptive dampers, 22-inch wheels, and Brembo brakes. Alas, its range is 288 miles, which is little enough to possibly cause a case of range anxiety for some.

If you’re a potential customer, you may be interested in knowing that there is a choice of three charging packages, all of which include 60 kWh of free charging at Electrify America stations plus your choice of home charging station, portable charging kit, installation credit, and credits at EVGo charging stations. Is that like a Sinclair station?

The 2024 Acura ZDX will begin arriving to dealerships in the U.S. this spring starting at $65,745 for the A-Spec RWD and tops at $74.745 base for the Type S. Add summer performance tires to the latter and you can also add another grand to its price.


Pick of the Day: 1991 Nissan 300ZX Turbo Convertible

Remember when there were no convertibles in the market so resourceful companies were converting turret-tops into something more fun? A need was determined and, years later, we have these unusual collectibles to consider. Exhibit A of this type of automobile is our Pick of the Day: a 1991 Nissan 300ZX Turbo convertible conversion by Straman. It is listed for sale on ClassicCars.com by a private seller in Warren, Ohio. (Click the link to view the listing)

When the revamped “Z32” 300ZX began production in 1989, it was a much-needed nod back to the 240Z after the previous-generation “Z31” 300ZX got too soft. To be certain, the Z31 was a nice car when it debuted in 1983, but it got long in the tooth as the decade wore on, becoming more of a Japanese Camaro than a cut-rate Porsche. That was rectified with Z32, which also was introduced with a new DOHC version of its trusty 3.0-liter V6 that included variable valve timing. And just like the engine gaining another camshaft, the turbo version gained another turbo, something unique in the market at the time. Those cars were putting out 300 horsepower and capable of hitting 0-60 in the low-5 range. Twin-turbo 300ZXs also featured a novel four-wheel steering system.

For the 1993 model year, Nissan commissioned ASC to chop the tops of 300ZX and make it official but, previous to that, a fabrication firm in Costa Mesa, California called the R. Straman Company was converting 300ZXs to convertibles complete with power-operated tops at $8,500 a pop. The company had already built a reputation on automotive restoration and was branching out into specialty engineering and prototyping, according to a period article in Car and Driver. The magazine reported that only 25 pounds had been added to the Nissan’s curb weight, and chassis flex was not an issue.

This 129,000-mile 1991 Nissan 300ZX Turbo is one of the rare Straman conversion. Included in the conversion and presented here are custom “Z”-embroidered leather seats with matching floor mats. “Brand-new custom top and refreshed interior look like new!” says the seller. “Newly installed Sony touch-screen sound system with Bose speakers.” Luckily, this 300ZX Turbo came from the factory with the important stuff, meaning the five-speed manual. Other features include power windows, seats, and mirrors, the latter the anti-fog kind.

Fewer than 4,000 300ZX convertibles were built for the U.S. market, but Nissan never offered a 300ZX Turbo as a convertible, making this Straman conversion quite the unique collectible. For $25,750 OBO, this Nissan checks all the boxes.

Click here for this ClassicCars.com Pick of the Day.


2024 Concours in the Hills Benefits Phoenix Children’s Hospital

Arizona’s beautiful February weather provided the perfect setting for a colorful display of cars and culture. The annual “Concours in the Hills” in Fountain Hills, about 30 miles from Phoenix, took place on Sunday, February 18 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The venue attracted far more than just vehicles – it was home to over 100 vendors, as well as food trucks, entertainment, and even aircraft. The centerpiece for the event was the 560-foot-tall water fountain that at one time was the world’s tallest.

Best of all, this was a show with a charitable cause: As in prior years, the beneficiary was Phoenix Children’s Hospital. In 2023, the event raised more than $480,000, and based on the crowds and cars I witnessed, this year easily met or exceeded that figure. Last year’s event coverage can be found here.

Vehicles came from all around the region and were entered (and parked) according to the eight general categories:

  • Alternative Fuel
  • Asian
  • Domestic
  • European
  • Military
  • Motorbikes
  • Off-road
  • Race Cars

Admission was free for spectators, and I spent some time enjoying the scenery. Six of my favorite vehicles on display were as follows, in ascending order by model year:

1966 Chevrolet Corvette

This C2 stood out to me for its originality and thorough presentation. It was finished in a stunning Trophy Blue paint finish with matching blue vinyl upholstery. It had a numbers-matching big-block 427cid V8 mated to a four-speed manual transmission and was a well-optioned car, complete with a Positraction rear end, power brakes, power steering, and an upgraded suspension. Best of all, the owner had documentation back to the original owner as well as a window sticker and Protect-O-Plate.

1974 Triumph TR6

These British-built roadsters are highly collectible today, and this one looked incredibly well kept. It was powered by a 2.5-liter inline-six. One interesting thing about the car was that its color configuration was not original: According to a certification document from the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust, the car was built on December 17, 1973, and was originally finished in French Blue with a black interior. It was dispatched to a dealership in Newark, New Jersey on January 8, 1974. What a perfect opportunity to showcase this gorgeous car around the anniversary of its 50th birthday.

1990 Audi S2

Another eye-catcher in red paint was this sporty German-built three-door liftback coupe. The S2 was significant because it was the first model in the Audi “S” lineup. This example was reportedly 1 of only 847 imported to the United States in 1990 and was powered by a 1.8-liter turbocharged inline-four paired with a later-model six-speed manual transmission. The enhancements continue from there, including a short-shift kit, a Porsche Boxster S front brake conversion, and H&R lowering springs. I bet this car drove as well as it looked!

1995 Ferrari 348 Spider

It seems like most of these were finished in red, so when I came across this stunning black example, it was worthy of a second look. The 348 was one of Ferrari’s legendary sports cars and it was manufactured in Maranello, Italy between 1989 and 1995. The convertible variant, named Spider, came out in 1993 and came with body-colored lower cladding, a special engine cover, and a manual-folding soft top. Power for this example came from a 320-horsepower 3.4-liter V8 mated to a five-speed manual transmission. On display in front of the car was a collection of Ferrari luggage – quite the accessory, I must say.

1997 Lexus LX450

The Toyota 80-Series Land Cruiser is an incredibly popular off-road rig, and the upscale 1995-1997 Lexus version has always been a favorite of mine. This vehicle stood out for me because it was a rare SUV in a sea of sports cars, and it also had a long list of “overlanding” style modifications for go-anywhere capability. Power came from a Toyota Racing Development (TRD) supercharged 1Z-FE 4.5-liter inline-six mated to an automatic transmission. Adding to the appeal was a four-inch suspension lift, a rooftop tent, LED lighting, and factory differential lockers. This vehicle drove to Central America and back!

2011 Aston Martin V12 Vantage

I had to do a double-take when I saw the signage that accompanied this brilliant V12 roadster. “One of the lowest mileage in existence,” it said. The car had only 394 miles on it and was finished in a rare “Carbon Black” edition. This V12 Vantage was hand-built in Britain and was powered by a 510-horsepower 5.9-liter V12. I did not get a chance to meet the owner, but according to a sign on the dash, the car was being offered for sale for $219,000. Wish I had that kind of pocket change.

Did any of these cars catch your eye like they did mine? Many thanks to the Concours in the Hills sponsors and organizers for organizing such a great event for a worthy cause.

Stay tuned to The Journal for more automotive event coverage as we move throughout 2024!


AutoHunter Spotlight: 1985 Toyota Celica Supra

Featured on AutoHunter, the online auction platform driven by ClassicCars.com, is this 1985 Toyota Celica Supra “P-Type,” which is the more performance-oriented of the two Supras available that year. It gets its power from a 2.8-liter inline-six paired with a four-speed automatic transmission. Equipment includes a color-keyed body kit, dual rear spoilers, air conditioning, modern touchscreen sound system, power disc brakes, and BFGoodrich tires. Finished in red over two-tone gray cloth interior, this Celica Supra is offered with a clear title.

This Toyota has been California-owned until 2021. Sometime during prior ownership, the red exterior was resprayed. As a Performance-type Celica Supra, this vehicle features fiberglass fender flares, though the aero kit is a period aftermarket item. Other features include black pinstriping, body side moldings, upper and lower hatch-mounted spoilers, and twin exhaust tips.

Aluminum 14-inch split-spoke wheels are wrapped in 225/60 BFGoodrich Radial T/A tires.

The cabin is furnished with two-tone gray cloth interior with high-back bucket seats up front and two-tone gray cloth two-passenger seating in the rear. Features include power windows, power steering with leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, air conditioning, and touchscreen audio system with back-up camera.

Instrumentation includes a 130-mph speedometer, 8,000-rpm tachometer, and gauges for the coolant temperature, oil pressure, fuel level, and voltage. The six-digit mechanical odometer reads 117,779 miles, which is in line with the CARFAX report.

The 5M-GE 2.8-liter DOHC inline-six was rated at 161 horsepower and 169 lb-ft of torque. Power is channeled to the rear wheels via a console-shifted four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive.

Braking is handled by power-assisted four-wheel discs.

The auction for this 1985 Toyota Celica Supra “P-type” ends Thursday, February 22, 2024 at 12:00 p.m. (MST)

Visit the AutoHunter listing for more information and photo gallery


How Much Would You Pay For A Premium Diecast Car?

Welcome back to Collectible Corner! In this episode we ask a common question among the hobbyists who collect models. “How much would you pay for a premium diecast car?” We will then discuss some of the differences between models set at various price ranges to get a better understanding of what these “premium” models have to offer.

Make sure to stick around to the end of the video, you will also see some leaked photos from the THunted Blog featuring an upcoming Hot Wheels collab hitting the shelves later this year.

Subscribe to the ClassicCars TV channel for more Collectible Corner, interesting finds, car reviews, and event recaps!


Pick of the Day: 1976 Cadillac DeVille

In the 1970s, executive comfort meant floating around in a sedan the size of a modern-day Suburban, while being surrounded by niceties like leather upholstery, woodgrain trim, and a multitude of ashtrays. If that sort of travel experience piques your interest, we definitely have the car for you.

The Pick of the Day is a 1976 Cadillac DeVille listed for sale on ClassicCars.com by a dealer in Clearwater, Florida. (Click the link to view the listing)

“A well cared-for heavyweight cruiser with room for family and friends!” the listing says. This car screams big-body American luxury. My favorite aspect of the body style is the hardtop roofline, which a unique feature for a big-body car such as this. The dealer itemizes some of the appointments that are optioned on the car including power windows, power door locks, a six-way power front seat, a tilt steering column, cruise control, and an AM/FM stereo with an eight-track cassette.

One of the things I like about some of these classics is that you can readily decode a trim tag to identify or verify the original equipment. Luckily, this car comes with a photo of its tag. It decodes as follows:

  • ST 76: 1976 Model Year
  • 6CD49: DeVille Four-Door Hardtop Sedan
  • FWD: Fleetwood Detroit Plant
  • 044685: Body Number
  • Trim 642: Antique Light Buckskin Leather
  • Paint 50T: Calumet Cream with Buckskin Cross Grain Padded Roof
  • 05B: Built Second Week of May
  • A65: Split Back Front Seat
  • BLWDU: Automatic Level Control, Dual Comfort Seat 50/50, Door Edge Guards, Guide-Matic Headlight Control

This big 230-inch-long sedan moves under the power of a similarly-huge 500cid V8 mated to a column-shifted three-speed automatic transmission. At about 5,200 pounds, this won’t be a zero-to-sixty race car, but I don’t think people buy these cars for speed. This baby is all about cruising comfort. And best of all, it has room for you, five of your friends, and all of their luggage for a week-long road trip.

Incidentally, I checked Ebay and found a number of sellers with available eight-track cassette tapes. If you buy this car, shop around and find a nice “easy listening” artist to listen to for the ultimate experience!

“This Caddy is ready to enjoy and drive,” the listing concludes. Someone come pick me up in this thing.

The asking price is $15,900.

To view this Pick of the Day on ClassicCars.com, see the listing here.


AutoHunter Spotlight: 1984 Porsche 944

Featured on AutoHunter, the online auction platform driven by ClassicCars.com, is this 1984 Porsche 944.

Over the years I have owned many Porsche road cars including 28 911s, a 912, a Boxster S, a 914, and a 914/6. All of them were amazing cars and delivered on the Porsche promise of performance, quality, and reliability, but the Porsche I owned most recently was a 1984 Porsche 944.

That 944 was a car that I had wanted to buy for years but it always seemed that another air cooled Porsche got in the way bumping the 944 out of the running. Then I got a call from my friend Peter Lombardo who told me that he had a 1984 Porsche 944 for sale and that I might like it. I saw the car and realized that it was completely original, in a great color combination, and had service records from new. I bought the car from Peter on the spot and after having the timing belt, water pump, and engine mounts replaced, drove it cross country to Monterey Car Week with my best friend Trent.

As you can see from the above links to the story of the trip with the car, did not miss a beat and performed faultlessly. My takeaway was that the 944 was everything I wanted in a Porsche road car: it was fun to drive, comfortable, had enough room to hold a week’s worth of clothes for the two of us, and made for a great adventure. In a lot of ways the 944 was a better road car for a cross country trip than any of the various 911 cars I have owned, yet still felt like a Porsche in every way. Some idiots will tell you that a 944 is not a real Porsche and my answer to them is that since Porsche said it was a Porsche, who was I to disagree with the company. I ended up selling the car at the end of Monterey Car Week to the (then) head of Pirelli Motorsports, and in many ways wish I had kept it. Happily you can still find nice examples of the 944 on the market, and this AutoHunter Spotlight is one of those.

The seller of this 1984 Porsche 944 states that it is an all original Guards Red over a tan vinyl and cloth interior and has covered a total of only 33,732 miles from new.

The exterior of this 944 is stated to be in its original paint and features contrasting black accent trim and badging. Equipment includes fog lamps, pop-up headlights, an integrated rear spoiler, and a polished exhaust outlet. It rides on its factory 15-inch “Cookie Cutter” wheels wrapped in 215/60 Bridgestone Winter Radial tires.

The interior of the car has its original tan vinyl and cloth bucket seats, matched to the door panels, carpeting, and Porsche-branded floor mats. Amenities include air conditioning, a Blaupunkt AM/FM/cassette radio, an analog clock, and power windows. Instrumentation consists of an optimistic 170-mph speedometer, a 6,500-rpm tachometer, and auxiliary gauges for the fuel level, coolant temperature, and instantaneous fuel economy. The five-digit mechanical odometer reads 33,732 miles, which according to the selling dealer is accurate and is backed up by the car’s last mileage figure of 33,130 miles on the CARFAX report dated August 2012.

The engine compartment and the underside of the car also look to be in excellent condition, being clean and rust free. There is some slight surface rust on the muffler, but this is common and nothing I would worry about. The dealer states that this 944 received a recent oil change and inspection per the selling dealer. A sticker in the engine compartment states that the timing belt and water pump were changed in 2006. Personally, I might take a look at the belt condition and replace it not due to the mileage, but the age of the belt as rubber does wear down over time and it is an inexpensive service item.

The CARFAX report for this 944 shows no history of accidents or damage. The vehicle passed a New York safety inspection in June 2021. The sale includes documentation from the original point of sale, two sets of keys, owner’s booklets, toolkit, and a folder filled with service records.

If I were to buy another 944 this is one that I would seriously consider. I personally like cars from this era that are original and not restored, as you are buying the car the way it was built originally and a car is only original once. This truly looks to be a great example of the first generation 944 and one I would happily park in my garage. Finding a 944 this original is getting harder and harder and I would bid on this one if I were in the market for one of these great Porsches.

The auction for this 1984 Porsche 944 with 33,000 original miles ends Thursday, February 22, 2024 at 11:45 a.m. (MST)

Visit the AutoHunter listing for more information and photo gallery


Gateway Classic Cars Turns 25

The year 1999 might have marked the end of one millennium, but it marked the earliest beginnings of one of the world’s widest-reaching classic car marketplaces in history. In the 25 years since that time, Gateway Classic Cars has served as just that – a gateway to classic cars – for over 70,000 buyers around the globe. Gateway’s reach and influence have brought buyers and sellers together in over 20 locations. As the organization celebrates its quarter-century of existence, I connected with some of the key players to find out more about the past, present, and future of this classic-car powerhouse.

On a personal level, the Gateway enterprise has caught my eye over the years for a few reasons. Gateway sold a 1968 Chevrolet Chevy II Nova that my brother used to own, and I recently saw my old 1982 Honda Prelude show up in the Dallas showroom. The car-collector community sure is small sometimes. And my story is not unique; the statistics speak for themselves: Over $800 million in cars have changed hands via Gateway’s showrooms, and there are 4,100 vehicles for sale currently. How did the company grow to this scale?

Background

As the world was gearing up for Y2K with anxious anticipation, the founding pioneers of Gateway were putting the wheels in motion on a new concept in classic car buying and selling. Gateway’s launch took place on February 8, 1999, with a single location in Fairmont City, Illinois. I caught up with Ken Dusman, Gateway’s Marketing Director, for a conversation about how things evolved from there.

The company’s reach now covers 21 showrooms. All are indoors and climate-controlled, and though footprints and layouts may vary, the experience is largely the same across the board. Some stores have 360-degree tours available online. This sort of presentation, and the consistent experience that goes along with it, have kept repeat customers coming back over the years. The brick-and-mortar approach gives a personal touch to people who want to see, feel, and drive. Since 2014, the main office has been located in O’Fallon, Illinois.

Frequently, the hunt is challenging for the perfect classic car, and sometimes the right car is in another region of the country entirely. One of the things that Gateway demonstrated early on was accommodating buyers and sellers who weren’t geographically convenient to one another. In fact, about 70% of Gateway’s sales have been for “out of market” scenarios. Gateway assembles hundreds of photos as well as video documentation for each vehicle, and representatives frequently do live video chats with potential buyers. It is important for people to feel comfortable with any sight-unseen transaction.

Ribbon cutting ceremony at the Atlanta showroom

Current

Now that the momentum is consistent, Gateway has car-selling down to a science. At any given time, you are likely to find over 4,000 vehicles in inventory. Some months, Gateway brings in more vehicles than it sells, and other months it’s the reverse. As with many industries, the market and other factors can determine the variations in volume.

One of the guiding principles that have led to Gateway’s success it a focus on community engagement. The company hosts monthly events called “Caffeine and Chrome” between January and October. These free, family-friendly, and pet-friendly events give an opportunity for people to come out and enjoy not just the cars themselves, but also the community of enthusiasts that make the hobby so rewarding. Events are held the last Saturday of each month from 9:00 a.m. to noon.

Future

The collector car marketplace shows no signs of slowing down, and Gateway is a big part of the movement. The company is considering about a dozen additional markets for expansion. There are a lot of factors that determine where the company decides to operate. At the top of the list, of course, is the presence of a collector car community, since Gateway is as much about the community as it is about selling cars. Concurrent efforts are also underway to move existing showrooms into upgraded facilities.

One exciting strategic move for Gateway is to expand its online presence to include timed auctions. This platform recently launched in 2023 and shows how Gateway adapts to the evolving new technologies available to make buying and selling easier. Look for innovations like this to continue.

Parting Thoughts

It’s no mystery that many classic cars are solid investments. As the saying goes, “The difference between a classic car and a treasury bond is that you can enjoy the classic car while you own it.”

I love being part of the classic car journalist world. For eight years, I have written for The Journal and I’ve had about 600 stories published featuring everything from Acura to Zimmer. In talking with the people at Gateway, they share the same sense of passion for the collector car hobby that I have.

The only feeling better than driving your own dream car is seeing the smile on someone else’s face when they’re driving theirs. Thanks to our friends at Gateway for creating that magical match for so many people. Here’s to another 25 years.


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