Posts Tagged ‘classic’

Oh, irony, how I love thee. While out hooning an ATV around Wisconsin cornfields with my cousin Jared, we stumbled across this fifth generation Dodge Coronet—produced between 1965 and 1970—abandoned in the woods, tire well deep in sand and dirt. Literally, a car in the wild. My first reaction upon seeing the Coronet was sadness—who would abandon such a vehicle to the relentless clutches of time and decay? My second thought was, “Could  there possibly be a more perfect candidate for a Cars in the Wild post?”

I’d like to think that this particular Coronet ended up fading peacefully into the Wisconsin landscape because its former owner would rather keep it than ship it out for scrap metal. It’s still a sad ending for such a classic car, but it certainly did make for an interesting find. As I’ve discussed before, I’m not a huge fan of older cars, but I do appreciate them and know that many paved the way for the current generation of machines that I deeply adore.

Back in the mid-60’s, you could have ordered your Dodge Coronet in range of different flavors. There was this four-door iteration, and it was also available as a two-door coupe and a station wagon. In 1968, Dodge completely overhauled the Coronet and also released the Coronet Super Bee as a compliment to the Plymouth Road Runner. The addition of the famous Super Bee name to the Coronet gave the car special visual upgrades, as well as a 390 horsepower 440 V-8, upgraded suspension, special wheels, and a fiberglass hood. In 1965 when the fifth generation was introduced, the Coronet became the best selling model in Dodge’s lineup, and the Coronet soldiered on until 1976 when it was renamed the Monaco.

But enough of that learning and factual nonsense, here’s a video of a Coronet Super Bee doing a burnout. That’s better.

I salute you, abandoned Dodge Coronet. May your journey to the great drag strip in the sky be filled with wide open roads, new paint and primer, and shiny memories of your glory days. And no mouse nests.

At an undisclosed warehouse somewhere in New Hampshire, I’m lead through a smeared and smudged glass door, then through a curtain of blue plastic sheeting who’s function is to deter prying eyes. There’s a musty smell in here, something like damp concrete, dust and age. I flip the lightswitch and several overhead fluorescent lights snap on with the classic tink-tinktink-tink sound. The long room I’m standing in contains a partially restored antique truck, a white 1970’s Porsche Carrera, a jet ski, and judging its the sheer size, something clearly very special underneath a tan car cover.

Resting under that cover is an absolutely mint Packard Carribean. Long acres of hoods and gleaming yards of chrome reflect the long bands of sharp flourescent light as the cover is gently rolled back. In the ’50’s, the Caribbean was Packard’s halo vehicle and was only produced from 1953 to 1956. This car, a 1955, has a great hunk of American iron under it’s sculpted hood – two sets of Rochester four-barrel carburetors on it’s 352 cubic-inch V8 help make 275 antique horsepower. Even today, the Caribbean’s proportions feel right and there is something truly attractive about its design. But don’t take my word for it, click HERE to check out a video from someone who knows a thing or two about classic cars – Jay Leno. It runs a little long, but it’s worth it to watch it to the end.

Cars from this era have a unique “something” in their character and design that seems to have been lost in the few decades since the Caribbean first hit the road. Case-in-point, the sensational “cathedral” taillights on the Caribbean: styling cues like those just don’t translate into most modern cars. You take a look at those epic taillights, then you see the supremely bland-tastic new Toyota Camry or the mind numbingly dull Nissan Sentra, and you can’t help but wonder where that gusto all went. Don’t be mistaken, this isn’t a nostalgic appeal for cars to be made “like they used to”, just an observance that you have to swing way, way above the Caribbean’s pay grade and into an entirely different class of vehicle to find anything with this much style.

While older cars don’t normally make their way onto the pages of TDC, it seemed appropriate to feature the Caribbean as it is such a special machine. If given a choice between choosing a classic car or a modern vehicle, the majority of the time, the newer car would make the cut and end up in the TDC garage. However, with a car that looks this fantastic and has this much style, I’d make an exception for the Caribbean. All I saw in that musty warehouse when I first looked at the car was riding low and slow down a sun soaked boulevard, one hand on the wheel and the other resting on the door. Someone hand me my Ray Ban’s, let’s go for a ride.