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Back on Track Day: Hooniverse Goes to Ahvenisto


Out of all the racetracks in Finland, Ahvenisto stands out. Most of the tracks here have been built somewhere in the middle of nowhere, and that usually renders them quite flat. But Ahvenisto stands proud by a ridge, with uphill sections and daring curves without yards and yards of run-off area. Originally, there wasn’t much close by but woodlands and fields, but urban sprawl reached the track quite quickly. Nowadays the track has to hold its ground to be able to exist in modern smalltown Finland, where people move next to race tracks and then complain about engine noise. But I digress: every minute spent at the track is worth it, as long as the track is in active use and respected for the motorsport history it embodies.

It has become sort of customary for our circle of FinalGearheads to end the summer season with an Ahvenisto trackday somewhere in late September or early October, and this year was no exception. I was eager to take my Miata there, as it’s the closest thing to an actually track-ready car I’ve had in my fleet.

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Heavy Metal: 1977 Cadillac Coupé de Ville

Antti Kautonen September 23, 2015 Finnish Line


I love the deep copper colour on this Cadillac. I love the faux wire wheel trims on it, and the matching vinyl roof. Most of all, I love the very heavy-looking bumper and the ton of chrome on the front of this 1977 Coupe de Ville: it looks like it accounts for a quarter of the vehicle’s weight.

I shot this Caddy on the same lot as one of the first cars I photographed for this site, the Buick Roadmaster. The presence of both cars is pretty spot on.

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Finnish Line: On the 2015 Mazda MX-5 ND’s Pricing in Finland

Antti Kautonen September 22, 2015 Finnish Line


The Finnish prices for the new generation Mazda MX-5 were recently announced. I’ve been eagerly waiting for the final prices, even if I’m the kind of guy who only brings in dirt at a new car dealership. But since there’s a Miata in my life, I’m keen to observe where the model line is going. And technically I’m slap bang in the middle of the focus group, as I’m an enthusiast who rarely needs to transport more than one passenger. And when the need arises, I have alternative transport waiting in the wings. It’s not preposterous to consider the ND as the ideal new car on the market.

As a prelude of sorts, the German-market cars start at 23 000 euros at their most basic, 1500 cc “Prime Line” version. You get electric windows, manual A/C and so on; stuff to keep practically anybody happy, but nothing outrageous. If you want more kit, there’s the Center Line specification for a grand more, and the two-litre engine is available on the Exclusive Line and Sports Line, at 27 000 and 29 000 euros, respectively. This makes a fair bit of sense, as if you want a base car and want to focus on the car’s abilities themselves, you can do that.

Not so in Finland.

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Weekend Edition: The Mk3.5 Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet


Much like the Ford P100 pickup truck seen in the earlier Weekend Edition post, the Mk3.5 Golf Cabriolet is something wearing the face of something else. The hardware and the hard points, along with the rest of the car from the A-pillars backwards, mean that you’re still getting the same Golf that debuted in 1993, but the appearance was tailored to match the new fourth generation car. It’s hardly different from what Volkswagen did earlier, as the first-generation droptop doubled for the Cabriolet when the Mk2 Golf was built.

This 1999 car actually looks quite good in black, and the Azev A wheels are always a favorite.

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Weekend Edition: On the Ford P100 “Euromaster”


Some of the things I dislike on my Ford Sierra are the trucklike handling, slow steering, long-throw gearshift and unrefined engine, along with the utilitarian controls. These are ill-fitted on a passenger car such as the humble Sierra of yours truly, but on a truck they fit the picture, as expected. What, then, a more suitable vehicle than a pickup truck that bears the face of a Ford Sierra?

The Ford P100 has been the name tag for the earlier, Cortina/Taunus based pickup, ute or a bakkie, whatever you would want to call it. The “Sierrachero” here was the appearance for the 1987-on P100, but it’s somewhat removed from an actual Sierra.

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Red Riding Hood: Taking a 1982 Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet for a spin


Today, I did the sensible thing and handed over my 1986 Volkswagen Polo to the local school’s auto shop. They, in turn, will mount the cylinder head, time the belt, adjust the carb and generally pay attention to turning the white VW into something other than a paperweight. Make no mistake, I haven’t given up on it; I just want to pass the bottleneck so I can continue at another save point when it actually runs.

This meant I did a little parts run earlier today, and happened upon this 1982 Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet for sale. It’s very similar to my Polo in a lot of respects, even if it’s a droptop. The dealer was more than happy to throw me the keys, so I took it for a little drive around the town.

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Weekend Edition: On the Chrysler Neon


It’s not only the Lumina and Cavalier I’ve had on my mind recently. Unlike the Cavalier, the Chrysler Neon was sold here officially, and as a result the low end of the Finnish used car market is plentiful, if not flooded with cheap Neons. They are worth nothing here, which means you can pick up a road-legal one for 500 euros. If you want a clean one, you can buy one for 500 euros. If you want to spend more money, you can buy one for 1500 euros. You get the picture: there are Neons available, no-one cares about them, and no-one really cares how much money they will make by selling their Neon and no longer having to worry about anything related to Neons.

This is exactly why I want to get in on the game.

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Weekend Edition: On 1997 Chevrolets


For the past weeks, I’ve been scratching an itch that doesn’t go away until I get to experience something. For the life of me, I can’t wrap my head around why I would really like to drive a Chevrolet Cavalier or a Lumina for the coming winter, to get behind those somewhat horribly shaped steering wheels, feel the Scotchgard-treated velour seats, really get into the 1990s feeling of it all.

Is it because those swoopy, rounded things are rarer here than Peugeots in the States? Is it because I want an awesomely terrible cassette stereo with enormous buttons? Is it because I would be trying to make an ironic statement, turning a Lumina into something cool?

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Visionary: 1994 Eagle Vision Aerie Concept in an alternative timeline


Chrysler showcased this enhanced version of the then-fresh Eagle Vision at the 1994 Chicago Auto Show, amidst what seems like bubble wrap. The Eagle Vision Aerie Concept benefited from a pokier development of the 3.5-litre V6 under the hood: the regular, consumer-issue unit had 214 horsepower, but the one in the Aerie was said to produce as much as 274 horses. As well as the improved engine, the Aerie had fancy phone and fax capabilities with an automated emergency call system.

In any case, the Vision was short-lived in Eagle guise, even if the capable FWD platform ended up birthing the even-more-swoopy Chrysler 300M. The Vision nameplate died without siring a son, and there were no latter-day Talons to accompany Mitsubishi Eclipse sales. But looking at the concept’s front end treatment, there’s something unanswered deep inside that can only be brought to the light of day via PhotoShop.

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Weekend Edition: On the Polo Harlekin


That recent stroll around the junkyard near Hamburg, Germany, left a lasting impression. The Volkswagen Polo Harlekin appealed to me perhaps stronger than before: seeing a partially disassembled one teetering above a regular blue one drove the point home that it would make actual, yet ludicrous sense to buy Harlekins now, as there still are decent ones for sale.

They’re priced about the same as a regular, uh, colour-coded Polo would, which means you wouldn’t really need to pay much more than a grand or a grand and a half for one. You can get a rough one for only a few hundred, too, but there’s likely to be welding in your near future. As 800 euro cars come, the Harlekin makes a strong case for itself.

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