Craigslist find: TWO 1982 Cub Commuter microcars!


About four-fifths through the previous Century, a category of car that had lain dormant for a while suddenly went through a renaissance. The microcar. There were many reasons that people should be tempted by a tiny, lightweight, basic car – cost savings to the driver, reduced environmental impact and the smug feeling of grabbing that hard-to-use last parking space.

We’ve all heard of the most popular microcars – the KV MINI naturally leaps to mind, but others are a little more obscure. If Mr Hollis Danley is in da house, smash him a high five for unearthing this buried gem from the vermont Craigslist. It’s a Cub Commuter. Of course it is.

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Motorboat Monday: 455Ci in a Kindsvater Jet Boat

Chris Haining January 16, 2017 Motorboat Monday


455 Cubic Inches. Oldsmobile V8 power. In a boat which displaces so little it’s practically on the plane when it’s not moving.

This glorious machine was glinting away on the Classic Motor Boat Association stand at the 2017 London International Boat Show. And I’ll bet that, given an opportunity, it would have been one of the very loudest vessels on display, as well as one of the smallest.

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A Datsun 160J: When the tinworm loses its appetite


Though it’s nowhere near as hostile as that of Iceland, the British climate is one that incubates tinworms to an extent that they will feverishly tuck into any metalwork that takes their fancy.

My forum moniker alludes to the fact that the pesky blighters evidently find the 1988 Rover 800 a particular delicacy, and will make any metalwork concealed by plastic panelling disappear in short order. And, while the rapid lessening of heavy steelwork will undoubtedly improve your acceleration times, waking up one morning to find that your car is growing smaller is a constant fear of the Rover owner.

But ‘eighties Rovers are low-fat compared to what tinworms liked to eat in the past. They may have found Thatcher-era Fords, Vauxhalls and Leyland products delicious, and really liked to chow down on an occasional non-galvanised Italian, but they enjoyed nothing more than a Japanese meal from the ’70s. All of this makes this immaculate ’79 Datsun 160J an improbable survivor.

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Not The Carchive: To finish on a bright note.


It’s been a good day. I was going to fill the 15:00 slot with a visit to The Carchive, and I had photographed – and you’re gonna love this – a 1987 brochure for the Mercury Topaz. But one thing lead to another and I’ve run out of time to write it up. So lets finish up on something a bit different, and a whole lot more yellow.

Here’s a car that the world doesn’t tend to mention very often any more. It’s fallen off many radars, living firmly in the shadow of two more recent cars from the same Germano-French-Italian brand – as it would later become. It’s a bit of a favourite of mine.

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P66: The Forgotten Jensen


Back before the great Intensedebate Apocolypse of 2014, I managed to find myself behind the wheel of one of the most spectacular cars ever to come out of Birmingham. Not an especially long list, admittedly, but a star-studded one. Nevertheless, the Jensen Interceptor was a British car with Italian style and American brute power – an intoxicating combination.

But what if Italy hadn’t got involved? With Britain now about to bid adieu to our European partnership once and for all, it’s interesting to look back at how the Interceptor might have developed if Jensen’s in-house stylist, Eric Neale’s suggestion had gone into production. This is the P66, the Interceptor that never did.

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Diecast Delights: The Audi Avus Concept


Concept cars. As an impressionable kid the unveiling of new concept cars was always the highlight of my motor show trips. On any manufacturers stand these lurid flights of fancy would stand out from the massed ranks of more spacious superminis and cleaner-burning diesels, which, naturally, bored the shit out of me.

No, give me something in chrome, with crazy doors and a mountain of power, and all those earnest, practical conveyances are suddenly put in context. They represented where we were, the concepts would show us where we were going. But fast-forward a few decades and yesterday’s concepts become even more fascinating.

Like the original Metropolis; as channelled by Matt Groenings Futurama; yesterday’s vision of tomorrow is often way more exciting than what inevitably surfaces when its time comes. The Audi Avus concept was unveiled in an era before the TT and the R8; neither of which really owe all that much to the Avus, apart perhaps from its spirit. It was Audi’s tangible sci-fi vision of a future supercar, before later concepts came to define the design language that would soon ensure that every Ingolstadt product seems uncomfortably familiar. The Avus presents such a fascinating parallel to the present that I just had to add it to my diecast collection.

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Carchive New Year Special: The 1937 Plymouths


As 2016 dons its hat and scarf and prepares itself to hobble uselessly into history, a brand spanking new year has beamed in from the future and is presesently plumping up the sofa cushions, ready to make itself comfortable.

How better for The Carchive to welcome 2017 than by peering back a solid 80 years into the past? For one last time, I ask you to follow me down the the dank, dark staircase into the dungeons that house ghosts from roads gone by. Let’s take a look at the ‘new for ’37’ Plymouth line.

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V.I.S.I.T.: A 1972 Triumph TR6 Pleases all my senses


What could be better on a winter’s day off than a stroll down to the riverside? It’s one of our favourite activities after the Christmas dust has settled, and it so happens that several of the classic car owning locals are of very much the same persuasion.

The Mistley Walls is a popular haunt in the summer months where the ice-cream vans fight for business and Andy’s superb mobile coffee dispensary is on hand for a caffeine injection, you’ll find motorists in concours convertibles mixing with bikers astride their polished steeds. But it’s rare that you see something interesting down here when there’s a risk of salt on the roads. So I was thrilled to get a chance to see, hear and smell this beautiful TR6 on bank holiday Tuesday.

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The Carchive: The Ferrari 612 Scaglietti


It’s Christmas Eve eve, and I’m just about to round off my day by wrapping family gifts in an inimitable, shambolic way that I have perfected. With my special technique, I could start with a perfectly rectangular gift and end up with something the shape of a rugby ball. Anyway, it’s time to put on our red and white suits and hats, play with our fine, white, candy-floss beards for a while and then delve into our bulging sacks. Welcome to the Christmas Carchive.

What is it we like about Ferraris? There are some, many in fact, that we can love for their beauty. The 308 and its derivatives were pretty, culminating in the downright explicit 288 GTO with its gaping holes and dirty, exposed running gear. Many call the 456 GT bland, but while it may start out as merely easy on the eye, it continues to work on you until it becomes insufferably handsome.  The F50 wasn’t exactly an oil painting, but it had the mechanical wherewithal to more than make up for it. Generally, if you can’t fall in love with the looks of a Ferrari, it’ll have another attribute that’ll get you back on side.

The 612 Scaglietti is nobody’s favourite Ferrari, but it tries so, so hard.

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An English car better than the Rover P6?


Here’s startling revelation for anybody who hasn’t spent a lot of time in this comfy little corner of the internet: I’m English. Yep, a fully paid up, tiffin nibbling, tea drinking, cricket… uh, ignoring, monarchy…uh, tolerating limey. We all have our problems.

Here’s another truth. Though I have a huge fondness for ’em, I’m by no means diehard fan of the English car; especially not if there is a direct equivalent from another nation that can beat it, either on points or issue a comprehensive wholesale drubbing. There are some, though, that will never test my allegiance, and a prime example is the Rover P6.

Running (if you got a good one – JK) from 1963 to 1977, the Rover P6 can surely be judged as an example of the British doing the car properly. It was a pretty sophisticated machine, really, with a De Dion rear suspension setup, inboard rear disc brakes (that may be effective are absolute hell to work on) and a cleverly designed ‘safety first’ interior. It was also one of the very first cars to receive the ex-Buick 215 c.i V8 that would soon become the doyen of the British sports car industry. It was certainly better than the Chevy Corvair, with anti-sway bar enthusiast Ralph Nader citing it as an example of how all cars should be built.

But how could you make it better?

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