Citroën Rendezvous Preview: The Citroën XM

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A funny thing happened on my way to the 2012 Citroen Rendezvous in upstate New York. I got lost. The venue had changed from the previous year, so even though the event stayed around Saratoga Springs the new location was quite a few miles off the interstate. I vaguely glimpsed the route on The Mapquests the night before my 100+ mile drive from Connecticut, and somehow convinced myself that I knew it cold. But I got lost almost as soon as I got off the interstate in Saratoga Springs, simultaneously forgetting the name of the farm that I was looking for. After driving in circles for about 20 minutes I finally pulled into a gas station, not to ask for directions but to fiddle with my “navigation system,” a 2007 vintage Blackberry that’s been dropped so many times it should have been in a million pieces by now. But since they make them out of a metal whose formula was sent back from the year 2379, it works perfectly. If there is reception. In rural NY there wasn’t any.

Confronted with the reality that I was going to have to actually ask for directions for the first time in nine years, I got out of my car in an attempt to make contact with the local population when suddenly a group of weird cars traveling in an unusually tight formation flew through an intersection just a hundred yards away. I knew that I was rescued, if I actually managed to catch up to them. And leading the pack was a Citroen XM.

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Carlisle Import Nationals Preview: 1973 Fiat 124TC Special

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Continuing our preview of the 2013 Carlisle Import Nationals, here’s a crowd favorite that has appeared at this event at least twice in the last five years. This Fiat 124 Special hails from 1973, and has been resprayed in one of the most charming colors for the 124, or any other 1970s Fiat sedan or station wagon for that matter. It will come as no surprise that this car was just as nice in person, right down to the interior and engine bay.

Personally, I’ve lost track of all the places that the Fiat 124 has been manufactured under license, so here is a partial list of cities that I’m pretty sure it wasn’t manufactured in: Oslo, Dakar, Topeka, Minsk, Milwaukee, Ottawa, Minneapolis, Leeds, and Antananarivo (not sure about that one). Let’s take a closer look at this saloon after the jump.

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Citroën Rendezvous Preview: Peugeot 505 STX

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The annual Citroen Rendezvous isn’t all about Citroens, as every year a number of other French cars make an appearance, most of them from Poozhoe Province. And last year showgoers were treated to a bumper crop of Peugeots, which included the 604, 504, and 406 cars. While we’re all used to 505 sedans, at least those of us living in regions where they were actually sold until they all sort of melted/shorted out, we’re probably not used to seeing them in club concours condition, which is what this lovely 505 STX example from Quebec happened to be in.

Even though this 505 wears European glasses, the STX was actually a US-market trim level, which was available only from 1987 till 1989. In the US the 505 was offered in a bunch of trim levels that the rest of the world didn’t receive, as well as a truncated choice of engines. The STX trim featured the 2.8 liter V6, straight out of the automotive hit parade powered by the much maligned PRV engine. Yes, that V6.

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Greenwich Concours Preview: 1956 Fiat 1101 Campagnola

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It’s rare to see any kind of truck at a top tier concours event, unless the truck in question is a Subaru Brat at Concours d’Lemons, so it was a real treat to see this vintage 4×4 at Greenwich Concours 2012. This of course is the 1101 Campagnolo, which was Fiat’s riff on the wartime Willys MB model which went on to inspire quite a few other 4x4s.

This particular example was offered for sale on Sir Craig’s Suggestions and Listings in 2010, and promptly caught the attention of a website that encourages its users to bring a trailer everywhere they go for unspecified reasons. In the advert the seller claimed this to be the only Campagnola in the US, but merely days later a commenter on Bringatrailer who lived minutes from the where that Campagnola was offered revealed that he also had a Campagnola. Which, if anything, should teach us to always take the “only one in the US!” claims with a big helping of salt. Let’s take a closer look at this non-bro truck after the jump.

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Volvo 343 Surprises at Rhinebeck Spring Dust Off

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There is perhaps no classic event in the northeast that brings out more hard to find domestic cars than the Rhinebeck Spring Dust Off. But every year there are one or two foreign cars that simply reset the bar. A few years ago it was the Tatra 613 that we have since seen up close, and this year it was the Volvo 343DL, with the similarly engineered DAF 66 a close second. But as much as I’d like to make it seem that this sort of thing is normal for Rhinebeck, it just simply isn’t. And since you weren’t there on Sunday, you missed it, and you will never see it again. That is, until Hooniverse does a feature on a Volvo 343DL.

Getting back to what Rhinebeck is about, it is undoubtedly about insanely rare American cars. Cars that you didn’t know existed, cars that your dad never saw in Road & Track, and cars that Road & Track never got to test because it didn’t exist yet. This year’s 42nd annual Rhinebeck featured not only tremendously rare cars from all over the northeast, but unbelievably nice weather as well, for the fifth year in a row as a matter of fact. And now that I’ve jinxed it, prepare to bring an umbrella and rubber boots to next year’s Spring Dust Off. Organized by the Hudson River Valley Antique Auto Association and held on the Dutchess County Fairgrounds, this event is actually two car shows in one, with hot rods and custom cars taking center field on Saturday, and unmodified classic and antique cars appearing on Sunday. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights from this year.

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Greenwich Concours Preview: Rolls-Royce Silver Spur by Mulliner Park Ward

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It’s a bit unusual to see something at Greenwich that is squarely in the Mobile Conference Room class, but in my eyes this was one of the overlooked gems of the 2012 Greenwich Concours d’Elegance. Known to people outside the limousine industry as the C-pillar stretch, this Rolls-Royce Silver Spur by Mulliner Park Ward from 1993 was easily one of the heaviest things at the show, and also one of the most stealthy.

How can that be? It was simply lost in a sea of restored and overrestored pre-war European classics and a dozen gleaming Ferraris. But what makes this example hard to find (aside from the styling being somewhat dated) is the architecture of the body itself, where a new C-pillar section is created using the rear doors, and the rear doors themselves are reengineered entirely. A very labor intensive process, needless to say, and one that has fallen out of favor by the late 1990s. The more traveled among you will perhaps recall that this basic architecture was employed on the Bertone-styled Volvo 264TE and some of Carat Duchatelet’s W140 stretches. What makes this car rare is that this style of coachbuilt limousine just isn’t made anymore simply due to the expense of reworking so many parts of the car.

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Greenwich Concours Preview: 1973 Momo Mirage

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2012 was not only the year that the Mayan prophecy came true (the one about New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys combining to battle the forces of good), but it was also the year that the Momo Mirage emerged from relative anonymity from one of the dustier pages of automotive history. Specifically, it was the chapter on late 1960s hybrids that made a big splash early on but then quickly fizzled for various reasons. And it is perhaps one of the best cars to begin our preview of Greenwich Concours, as this is the type of machine you’re likely to come across while wandering the field at the 2013 edition of the event.

Like many mid-century hybrids, the Mirage was the result of a collaboration between many different companies and people. As the story goes, Peter Kalikow was shopping for a DBS but was talked out of buying one by Alfredo Momo, who had a Jaguar dealership in New York City at the time. Disappointed with the DBS (cause who wouldn’t be?) Kalikow and Momo decided to create their own grand tourer, with Kalikow providing the funding and Momo providing his contacts in the automotive business. What resulted was a striking car, but one whose life was cut short very early on.

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Carlisle Import Nationals Preview: 1983 Plymouth Sapporo Technika

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If you thought that the Carlisle Import Nationals was all about European cars…. you were mostly correct. But what the Japanese car contingent lacks in numbers, it more than makes up for in content. Just take a look at this rare Plymouth Sapporo Technika owned by Brad DeSantis, which appeared at the 2012 Carlisle Import Nationals. A little over a year ago Hagerty Insurance commented in Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car that this car was believed to be extinct in America based on the fact that they do not insure a single one. But it appears that a few examples have indeed survived, including this sharp 1983 example.

The Plymouth Sapporo was of course a rebadged Mitsubishi Galant Lambda, which was also sold as the Dodge Challenger in North America while being known as the Mitsubishi Sapporo in Europe. Even though the model was available from 1976 till 1984 in most markets, in the US the model was only sold from 1978 till 1983. The current owner purchased this Sapporo from a friend on the west coast who found it in a junkyard in running condition, and mostly complete.

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Carlisle Import Nationals Preview: 1978 Fiat 131S Supermirafiori

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As it has been pointed out to me many times, Sittrons and Poozhoes are all nice and everything, but what about all the cars for everyday people, ones who don’t wear birkenstocks over loud socks and who don’t have Italo-Czech-Swedish accents? Well here’s your answer to that, in the form of another Carlisle Import Nationals preview, a 1978 Fiat 131S Supermirafiori. A common enough car at the time, I’m sure we’d agree. Obviously, not common everywhere in America. But a common car, driven by everyday folks just like yourselves who collect parts for German cars that they don’t actually own but may be planning on acquiring one day. It’s smart to plan ahead, so who could fault you for purchasing an engine for a Puch-manufactured G-wagen, right?

All kidding aside, this 131S Supermirafiori is one of my annual favorites at Carlisle Import Nationals, and happens to be in great shape inside and out. Sold in America from 1974 till 1981, the 131 was available with a range of 4-cylinder engines making just under 100bhp, and managed to disappear quite quickly from our roads. Since this 131S is a regular visitor to Carlisle, you may just see it there again this year.

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Carlisle Import Nationals Preview: Volvo 145

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Isn’t it amazing how quickly the 140-series Volvos disappeared from our roads? There are still plenty of 240s used as daily drivers to be sure, but I remember a time in the early 1990s when it was still pretty common to see a 145 station wagon. Actually, the Volvo contingent at the Carlisle Import Nationals has reliably been one of the strongest at this annual event.

While there is always a great turnout of 80s and 90s Volvos, occasionally with V8 power, my annual favorites to see are stock 140 and 240 series cars in great condition such as this example. Let’s take a closer look.

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