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Is the 1990s Nissan Pulsar the most boring car turned interesting?

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A friend of mine has a pretty straight-forward approach towards commuter cars. For winter, his idea is to buy the Nissan Sunny that offers the most value for his money – namely, the longest valid inspection for the least initial cash. He will then proceed to drive the car to the ground or until the road legality inspection runs out, whichever comes first. The idea has been taken as far as to create a currency based on Nissan Sunny values: since beater Nissans are so plentiful here, they can be bought for simply a couple hundred euros. If I suggest another, more expensive car for his winterbeater duties, he’ll most likely respond “But that’s at least a couple Sunny’s worth.” It’s also noteworthy he’s taken a liking to the rounded N14 shape Sunny saloon, as they are more disposable than the already-cool, sharply designed ’80s ones. The underbody is usually quite rusty and the rear wheelarches and wheelwells have as much Bondo in them as is physically possible.

But, in addition to churning out soulless 1.4-litre Sunnys by the boatload in several countries, Nissan also created the GTI-R version from the three-door hatchback. Under the bulging hood was a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine producing 227 horsepower and distributing it to all four wheels by an ATTESA all-wheel-drive system. It could reach 60 mph in five seconds something and hit 140mph, which is certainly far removed from the humdrum family saloon’s abilities. It could well be the biggest single turnaround within one model series, especially considering the bodyshell is still very much a regular-issue Sunny, albeit surely strengthened.

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Diecast Delights: A 1958 Studebaker Golden Hawk in 1:18 scale

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This model has actual, genuine, honest-to-goodness, working crank windows. That’s all you need to know, and all you need as justification to go and buy one.

The subject matter itself is almost a side issue. It’s a 1958 Studebaker Golden Hawk, in gold, of course.

Check it out in stills and in video (!) after the jump.

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The Carchive: The GKN Lotus Europa V8 (GKN47D)

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For this week’s visit to The Carchive we venture into one of many small chambers which are subsidiary to the main cave network, the furthest you can go without potholing. This is where I keep all those automotive artefacts which fit into the category of “specialist” which is another word for “miscellaneous”.

Everybody knows The Lotus Europa, the first of the mid-engined Lotus coupé’s  and variously built with Renault or Ford four cylinder engines. Of course, it was inevitable that somebody would take the initiative to install a bigger, more powerful engine at some point, and many Europas have been butchered by have-a-go heretics over time. However, there was one organisation who managed to double the cylinder count of the Europa, and did it properly.

Yes, this was what GKN did in 1968 to prove that they knew a thing or three about cars.

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The 1994 Toyota Camry Coupe and the 1976 Mercedes-Benz 280CE are virtually the same thing

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Mercedes-Benz unveiled their W123 body cars 40 years ago, in late January 1976. The coupe version, carrying the model code C 123, followed suit in the spring months, and despite having a very attractive hardtop coupe roof, both the front end and the rear matched the saloon’s design. With Mercedes-Benz coupes of yesteryear, this is not unheard-of, but the 123 series makes it clear how high the manufacturer rated a familiar look throughout the body style. The succeeding W124/C124 pair at least tried to disguise the latter as a more slimline effort, but the C123 treads similar water as the Bertone-chopped Volvo 262 C.

But if you were shopping for a new car some fifteen years later, and also wanted a saloon-derived coupe with a six up front – yet one that didn’t stray too far from the saloon’s lines? The obvious choice would be the mid-1990s Toyota Camry Coupe. Obvious, I tell you.

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FOLDAKAR – Cyber Marian is Racing a Folding Bicycle in Dakar Rally!

We have met Cyber Marian, the modern Polish hero, previously when he Wrecked to the Future in an FSO Polonez and was involved in Car Wars, where he helped protect old cars from the environmental, bicycle-riding, Evil Empire. Now Cyber Marian is back and this is a story of how he competed in this year’s Dakar Rally!

Marian being Marian, he has chosen his vehicle carefully – a Polish folding bicycle from communist era!

Marian, like me, apparently grew up in the 1980s, in typical communist block building neighborhood that is present in every city in Poland, as seen in the beginning of the film. Back then every one of us had dreams, dreams of being able to do things that we’ve seen in the movies and on TV. Unfortunately, the Iron Curtain only allowed us a peak at this other world and left the rest of it to our imaginations.

Bikes were popular in Poland but, like everything else, hard to come by. There were about half a dozen popular models in varying sizes, each one of them a folding kind so that it could fit in one’s undersized city apartment. The Wigry 3 bicycle was one of young Cyber Marian’s first vehicles and an obvious choice to compete the grueling rally with.

Here is the amazing part about this film – Cyber Marian and his crew actually traveled to the Dakar Rally in South America with the Polish ORLEN Team. The ORLEN team had three vehicles in the race; two MINIS and a Toyota HiLux. Everything was shot on location. Enjoy the film, subtitled for your viewing pleasure.

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Diecast Delights: A 1975 Peugeot 504 in 1:18 Scale

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Now here’s a car which ought to appeal to Hoons on either side of the Atlantic. Indeed, one which is probably somehow more revered in the USA than it is in the UK.

The Peugeot 504 is one of the more iconic shapes ever to have emerged from the nominally dull-as-dishwater category of “ordinary family sedan”, although that would probably be to undersell it somewhat. Plaudits rained down on the 504 from launch in ’68 right up to now, and with have been as important to the development of Africa as the Industrial Revolution was to the development of England, the Peugeot isn’t in danger of being culturally forgotten any time soon.

Still, having a 1:18 copy handy for safe keeping won’t do anybody any harm.

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The Carchive: The Asia Rocsta.

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Time for our weekly trawl through the filthsome deposits at the bottom of the swamp of motoring history. Put on your drysuit and plug your nostrils, it’s The Carchive and we’re going in.

From last week’s Volvo we’re heading forward in time to the mid ’90s, but diverting to the Pacific Rim, as we check out the South Korean car that R Kelly and Kid Rock had in mind when they sang “I’m a Rocsta, baby”.

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Italian Cars Living and Dying in Poland

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Let’s start of with some sad news: Zlomnik.pl, the Polish website that I have come to love, the website that I blatantly stole all these pictures from over the years, is no more. I talked to the man behind the site, the only Polish auto journalist I know, and he basically said that he was done with the site, that he has written everything he wanted to write on it. I certainly understand him, and I also understand that it probably took him a significant amount of time to run and maintain the site, along with some FB pages. He has decided to run a different site, one that deals strictly with obscure and/or interesting cars. Personally, I see where he is coming from.

But there is good news! In my years reading that website I managed to steal enough pictures from it for a few more “Living and Dying in Poland” articles that at least a dozen of you love so much. Today we once again check out the Italian cars that are living and dying there. Funny thing about Italian cars, while they were made under license in Poland, very few were actually sold there, so a vast majority of the cars seen here was likely privately imported. Grab a beverage and enjoy!

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Retro Heaven on the A127

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Just outside Basildon, on the A127 arterial road linking London with the coast, there sits a pub and roadside eatery which, it feels, hasn’t really changed since the early Eighties. This made it the perfect venue for a weekend meeting of the South-Eastern chapter of the UK’s notorious group of aficionados of The Worthless Car. Autoshite, as it’s otherwise known.

When you spend a lot of your time exchanging views with other people digitally, it’s nice to occasionally interface with blood and flesh and put faces to the internet psuedonyms. This last Sunday I seized the opportunity to mingle and bask in the glory of the inglorious.

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Diecast Delights: An Opel Ascona (B) i2000

IMAG4499As has been mentioned here before, my favourite 1:18 models tend to be of ordinary, everyday cars, albeit those which no longer feature on the road prominently enough to still be in the collective conscious of the general public.

A case in point is the second generation Opel Ascona, a car which, seemingly bizarre in hindsight, was sold alongside its Vauxhall Cavalier sister on the UK market for a good few years towards the end of the ’70s. In a parking lot the bluff-fronted Ascona looked oddly distinctive beside the shovel-nosed Cavalier; which wore the nose of the Opel Manta, which was also based on this platform. Confused? So were GM.

Anyway, here’s Opel Ascona (B), the limited edition i2000 model, in 1:18 scale.

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