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Project VW Polo 86c Classic: Bluemotion, but when?

As it is my white 1986 Volkswagen Polo that most readily drives me to writing, I was in luck to find this earlier example on an inspection station forecourt today. Well, there are also multiple dealers nearby and a carwash, but I think it’s the yearly roadworthiness inspection that has been the closest eminence for this humble blue two-door saloon. The plates are gone, and the car looks like a future project, one that has sat for a while. Funnily enough, at the very station I struck a deal on mine.

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Back on track: the 60 Euro Polo slides again

Out of all the varied cars in my fleet, it is with the 1986 Volkswagen Polo Classic I feel the strongest kinship. I’ve often said I like a good underdog car, and what better demonstration of that than a literally rescued car I bought for less than a tank of fuel? Obviously it came with a ton of issues, but it had been so sparingly used I saw great potential in its bare-bones appearance.

We’re talking about a 725kg two-door saloon with 54 factory horsepower, a four-speed manual, a 99% rust free body and an enormous trunk, complete with early-1980s minimalistic Volkswagen design. I had to have it, I grabbed it, I wrenched on it, I let it sit, I admitted nothing was going to happen to it if I didn’t take it to a shop, I took it to a shop, I bought a very expensive carburetor for it, they put it on wrong and adjusted it wrong, and then I got it back. This is where we probably left off in the tale of a man’s slow descent into project car hell the #60EuroPolo and how it regained its funky Wolfsburg mojo.

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Shower Thoughts: What if there was an American Opel Vectra?

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This past weekend I noticed a first generation Opel Vectra parked on a side street. Their numbers are dwindling, as is the fate of a long-unremarkable car that doesn’t really have an enthusiast following. Sure, there have been Vectra hobbyists, but that has often been a result of an everyday hand-me-down car receiving sound systems and fiberglass add-ons and a dodgy paint job; after a Vectra has lost its new-car value, it hasn’t been anything for anyone to really pine for, as a dream car. The Calibra coupe versions are more exciting looking, and have a future as enthusiast cars; Vectras will slowly continue to disappear, like Asconas have.

But that’s past the point I was going to make. What if the Vectra had been available in the USA? In 1988, it was a hot offering after the C-generation Ascona bowed; that car, a J-body was available in the States in numerous guises from the Cavalier to the Cimarron. Ford tried to market its German/UK-derived Vectra competitors in the States with little success; the Sierra was rebranded as the Merkur XR4ti which was too weird and pseudo-posh to succeed, especially with the 2.3 turbo unit. The Mondeo was reborn as the Contour and the Mystique, which were too cramped in the back to catch buyers. Would the Vectra have fared similarly?

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Thanksgiving Turkey: My 1992 Peugeot 405 Mi16

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How’s this for a thanksgiving turkey? The Peugeot 405 Mi16 I bought a year ago is still in bits, still unfinished – and now with lapsed MOT. Remember the scene in Money Pit where Tom Hanks has no other choice than to laugh at the gaping hole on the floor where his bathtub once was? Why do I mention that scene? No reason, really…

As we speak, there isn’t a Flintstones-style hole in the Mi16’s bottom, and it’s not likely that there ever has been. But in the past year, I’ve had to shell out money to replace most everything between the licence plates – which I’ve also replaced some time ago. It’s not going to be a complete restoration, but it’s not far from one, either.

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For Sale: 23,000-mile ’82 Austin Ambassador looks factory fresh

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The 1982-1984 Austin Ambassador was the last iteration of what was once the Austin Princess, or just the Princess, or the 18-22 series, or the Raymond Luxury-Yacht. Or something like that. In any case, by 1982 the Ambassador was woefully dated despite finally featuring the one thing it should have had from new – a hatchback.

This 1.7-litre car is from the Ambassador’s launch year, and the nameplate survived only til March of 1984, succeeded by the Montego. It’s only done a piffling 23,000 miles from new, and it will be offered up to be auctioned on October 22nd by Roxby Garage in North Yorkshire.

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Weekend Edition Brochure Scan: Lamborghini Diablo

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Hey, it’s not only Chris “Carchive” Haining who hoards old automotive brochures here. I am more than happy to let him do the most of the work on that front, since scanning these is a bit of a pain, but here is an exception: the pre-facelift Lamborghini Diablo in brochure form. I just have to hand it over to you, our dear readers, for a look.

I often visit the next town over as they have some outstandingly good flea markets there, as well as some places that make a decent burger and a number of really nice cafes. I’ve started buying old vinyl albums, and after having scored a stack of finds such as a Todd Rundgren compilation and the Fire and Ice theme tune in 12″ single form, I ran into this great-condition Lamborghini brochure. It shows the pre-facelift car, but it’s not the earliest possible edition as there is mention of the 1993-unveiled 4WD VT version.

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For Sale: 2003 Mercury Marauder with just 59 miles on the clock

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Would it not be a perfect world where car models would never cease to be produced? Where you could still get a brand new version of whatever it was that flew your fancy, instead of having to deal with all the gremlins that take hold after the car becomes five, ten, fifteen, twenty years old. In a world where only the ’91 Nissan Sentra survives to the present day – albeit vigorously decontented to become the 2016 bargain basement Mexican-spec Tsuru – this is somewhat of a faint dream.

But all is not lost! For less than 47,000 dollars if you’re lucky, with three days to go, you can become the new owner of an as-new 2003 Mercury Marauder, with only 59 miles on the odometer and everything still wrapped in plastic after all these years.

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A little off the top: 1996 Peugeot 406 Toscana Concept

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It is perhaps not unreasonable to view the Peugeot 406 as one of the last minimalistically styled Peugeots. Its successor, the 407 did with a somewhat goofy elongated front treatment that didn’t translate well to a coupé derivative; earlier, in 1999, the bigger 605 was replaced with the 607, a far swoopier, overhangier effort. But the 1996-2004 406, well remembered from the Ronin chase, didn’t have a single line wrong in its design.

So, it makes perfect sense for Pininfarina to display this speedster version with barely any sense left in it. It’s brilliantly baffling.

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Centro Storico Fiat Weekend Edition: 1983 Fiat Regata promo

The Fiat Regata was the ’80s saloon version of the Ritmo/Strada, with a slightly boxier outlook and a big trunk. The build quality is well described in this clip, with parts seemingly coming from nowhere and the driver looking very excited to see what falls out of the sky next, like doors and a steering wheel. This was also the car used for the Gung Ho! film in 1986, with Michael Keaton. For the movie, the Regatas were branded as cars from Assan Motors, a Japanese manufacturer.

Centro Storico Fiat Weekend Edition: Winning with Lancia 037 & LC2

One of the nicest things about the 30-year-old Fiat-produced promotional videos is the combination of Italo Disco music with grainy film footage. This 20-minute documentary is dedicated to both the rally weapon Lancia 037 and the asphalt track Group C car LC2.

Both wear characteristic Martini Racing colours, and the opening shots highlight the liveries to a great effect, comparing the 037’s aggressive angles to the LC2’s fluid lines. A great deal of the documentary’s length is dedicated to tech close-ups and flinging gravel; snow rallies aren’t alien to the 037, either.