Hooniverse Asks: What's the Best (or Least Embarrassing) Retro-Classic?

If you live here in the United States and have access to a working television then you have no doubt seen the KFC ads that feature a Colonel Sanders look/sound-alike hawking the company’s delicious but heart attacking original recipe bird parts. They’ve even gone back to calling the place Kentucky Fried Chicken after years of masquerading as Kitchen Fresh Chicken.  Yeah, right.
That resurrection of a long dead spokesman gives me the creeps, and makes me wonder who’s next, Lee Iacocca? Wait, what do you mean Iacocca’s not dead? Well, that’s okay because the auto industry has for the past 40 years been trying to bring back the past in the form of retro-classic cars. The original Excalibur attempted to give Mercedes’ SSK another go, while open-fendered and baroque mods, based on everything from Cougars to MG Midgets, tried to bring generic olde-timey class back in vogue.
Most of these have been crass and tasteless odes to wretched excess, although that hasn’t always been the case. After all, look at that Excalibur up there, that’s not that bad, right? Is that the best retro-classic there is, however? What do you think, what is the best – or maybe least embarrassing – retro-classic?
Image: Romerosportscars


  1. Man, those new KFC ads irk me to no end. I keep expecting the “Colonel” to close the commercial by yelling “Live, from New York, it’s Saturday Night!” It’s like they are mocking themselves, but not in a fun, self-deprecating way.
    As for Neoclassics, there isn’t a good one, unless you count Morgan. But, Morgan isn’t a throwback as much as it’s a hold-back.

    1. This was actually a production vehicle made by the factory? Why would it look so Kit Car-ish if it was built on an assembly line of sorts?

    1. That Talbot tops my list for ‘ The Most Beautiful Car Ever‘. To know that there is a modern copy available is exciting.
      What would be the appropriate engine to put under that magnificent hood? A Mercedes V-12 perhaps?
      Anyone who says “SBC” will be required to write,
      “The Small Block Chevy is NOT the solution to every problem in the world” N 500 times….

        1. I can’t explain it, but when I look at it I picture a BMW inline-6 under the hood. More specifically, the M30, for maximum low revving torquey smoothness.

      1. But SBC is the cheapest, often easiest, most boring, solution to many old car drivetrain problems,

    1. It depends on what sort of clown suit you would have to wear.
      Ronald Mcd would be to trashy.

    2. I looked up the dealership hoping that American Eagle Motors sold AMC/Eagle products. I am sadly disappointed…

      Tangent: I saw an Eagle Premier today.

  2. I’ve wanted a real Kubelwagen since I was a kid but they are pretty much unobtainable. The metal Kooblekar kit is on my bucketlist. To me they are much better looking than a thing.

      1. That Wombat reminded me of the HumBug (for very obvious reasons, it turns out).
        I guess I hadn’t been following the novelty VW kit car scene very closely, since I was unaware of the legal wranglings resulting in the name change.
        It’ll always be a HumBug to me.

    1. I was just now on their website, half of which is non functional, no updates for several years, and no prices listed. Carp!
      It should be simple enough to find on of those shitcan Gazelle’s for cheap and build one of these. Manxman how much do the kits cost ?

      1. I just checked the Kooblekar site and I have a feeling they are no longer in business. I can guess they couldn’t build steel bodied cars turnkey for $20K and sustain a business. News Flash…they are now doing business as Kubelkraft in the same location. Looks like their T82 starts a $18K turnkey.

    1. Is someone making a GPW/MB again ??
      I hope so, always wanted one with a little Yanmar Diesel and just a little bit taller gearing.

  3. The majority of these all have the same problem, the modern tires are too fat and the wheels too small; it’s a dead giveaway and ruins the proportions. Getting the wheel and tire dimensionally closer to the ’30s standards would improve them no end.

    1. Wait it out: the trend is going towards child bicycle tires (above 18″, plus 1-2″ rubber) anyway.
      (I bought 16″ wheels because of the limited availability/high price of 215/60 R15, grmpf).

  4. Gazelle, yuck – I know. Could one of them evil Subaru turbos be shoehorned in this ?
    Hoonmobile, blow the Camaros off the road, deathtrap in the making … and look fugly
    cream and brown naugahyde, fake wire wheels – in the process .

  5. As with most thing, the original is the best. Brooks Stevens created the genre and the series one Excalibur Roadster is his original, pure design. No doors, cycle fenders and a 327/350 set back 29″ in the frame for true mid-engine placement. Weighing in at less than 2400 pounds, zero to sixty times were in the low five second range; a huge achievement in 1965. Only 97 of the original series one Roadsters were built, making the owners’ club pretty exclusive.

    1. My answer exactly. Great performance and decent looks and an original idea at the time. Winner !!

  6. First take, blurring the lines between neo-classic and retro-styled: the Nissan S-Cargo. When I was younger, the local Nissan dealer had one that they used as a parts runner.

    1. There is no better name for that vehicle.

      It just suits it so many ways.

      Somebody deserves a medal.

  7. And second take, blurring the lines between neo-classic and replica: the Intermeccanica Speedster. These are arguably better-built than the Porsche originals ever were.

    1. OK, I’ll argue with that. I’ve owned and driven both. The original Porsche Speedster is significantly better than any replica. Not that the replicas are bad, they’re just inferior to the original. That’s why you can buy nice replicas at 10% of the cost of a 356 Speedster.

      1. Fair enough – I haven’t owned either one, but have driven both.
        Out of curiosity, what makes the Porsche superior to the Intermeccanica in your opinion?

        1. To me, it’s all about the chassis design and engineering and how it truly works as a unit with the entire structure.

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