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Retro Rides, Part 4

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  Chevrolet Corvette C1, Buick Reatta, Ford F-1, Ford Gran Torino, Dodge Road Runner, Mercedes-Benz 300SL, Mercury Cougar
Opinions expressed by Bill Crittenden are not official policies or positions of The Crittenden Automotive Library. You can read more about the Library's goals, mission, policies, and operations on the About Us page.

Retro Rides, Part 4

Bill Crittenden
February 16, 2006

Bill's Retro Rides

The last installment of the Retro Rides series are some of my personal ideas for making retro cars using modern platforms and components, the same way most automakers do it to reduce costs.

Chevrolet Corvette

I know the Corvette is still being produced.  So there would have to be some special name attached to it, like Corvette Classic or Corvette Heritage.  Chevrolet has done this before, with two versions of the Blazer in the same year (K-5 and S-10).

Anyway, the car itself would be a Pontiac Solstice based two-seater styled after the original 1954 Corvette.  The interior features can be styled like the 1954 but would have to include modern amenities such as cupholder, airbags and CD player.  However, if they could get the exterior to an almost perfect recreation of the original (including the wheels), it should be a hit.

Plus, the Solstice costs much less than an actual modern Corvette, meaning someone like me could potentially put a brand-new Corvette in the garage!  There are body kits that can make a modern Corvette look like a 1954, but then you have the cost of the newer Corvette plus body kit and then all the labor that goes into it, whether you do it or pay for it.

Performance is not an issue, as the Solstice likely outperforms the original two-speed Corvette, and this car is all about style to begin with.

Of course, the concept version should be a white exterior/red interior car, like the 1953 Motorama car.

Buick Reatta

As mentioned in my article, Advice for Buick, Buick could remake the relatively recent Reatta by giving a Pontiac Solstice the plush tan leather and soft ride treament.

Ford F-1

Unlike the impractical and untrucklike Chevrolet SSR, Ford can fit retro style body panels onto and dashboard parts into a modern F-150 and create a retro truck worthy of the name "truck".

OK, Dodge or Chevrolet could do it, too, but Ford pulled off the Mustang so well, and the F-150 is a great truck, so I think a Ford would come out best.

I think sales would be good considering how many people buy trucks and don't use them for hauling.  It would be the perfect vehicle to hitch an Airstream to and go camping with, or for towing classic cars.  Ford might even find business users who like the image of the classic Ford truck, the way some delivery companies bought PT Cruisers and New Beetles when they came out.

Ford Gran Torino

All Ford would have to do is take a look at what Dodge did with the recent Challenger concept car's styling and apply that principle to the Gran Torino's body.  With the tried-and-true Crown Victoria chassis as the foundation, the car should be easy to produce and make profitable.  Extra points for applying a higher-performance engine to a few and calling them "Talladega".

Dodge Roadrunner

The Charger-based Roadrunner was produced for NASCAR duty by adding the pointed front end and wing.  The same could be done to the modern Charger or Challenger (if produced).

Instead of producing a minimum number for NASCAR as they had to do in the old days they could make it an option on the Charger or new Challenger, reducing the risk if nobody buys them.  Or they could make the parts and offer them though the Mopar catalog.

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL

The gullwing coupe is among the most famous Mercedes-Benz cars ever produced.  While the proportions aren't quite right on the outside, the Chrysler Crossfire coupe could be a good starting point at a 300 SL gullwing-inspired coupe.  The Crossfire looks wide and flat compared to the 300 SL, but that could be corrected with artfully styled bodywork.

Mercury Cougar XR-7

The classic Mercury Cougars were loosely based on Ford Mustangs, and Ford's new retro Mustang could be the basis of a retro Cougar as well.

The Cougar could differentiate itself from the Mustang based on the obvious differences in styling and luxury.  Most price differences in Mustangs are determined based on what's under the hood.  The Cougar could cost a little more or less based on what's under the roof.

The problem with the Cougar stems from where the vehicle would fit in their lineup.  While Mercury just came out with a new Zephyr, that car is very modern.  The Cougar just might look odd in a Mercury showroom, unless they gave it the retro-inspired modern styling similar to what Chevrolet did with this year's Camaro concept.

©2006 Bill Crittenden

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