Here's one of the cars I used to own - I sold it in November 1997 as I knew I'd never get the time to finish its restoration and it would actually cost more to complete than to buy another example that had already been restored. I'm currently in two minds about whether I'll ever have another one - they're not particularly 'green' or 'environmentally conscious' cars and I actually prefer driving my Rover 3500; I'll leave it to my son to persuade me one way or the other when he's old enough to understand.
This car is a 2 seater with a couple of seats thrown in at the rear as an afterthought - suitable for children under 5. It's very comfortable for those in the front though - big leather armchairs, suround quadraphonic sound system (from an 8-track cartridge player - anyone remember those?) and of course, air conditioning.
It is BIG - everything about the car is big, from its huge wrap-round rear window (which inspired the similar but much smaller window on the Renault Fuego) to its engine - all 7,212 ccs of it. It costs about £2.50 to start it up but once it has warmed up, it averages around 15 mpg around town. It weighs 2.5 tons but nontheless can accelerate to 60 mph in just 6 seconds with a top speed of 140 mph. The engine in this particular car is the optional high performance version and produces around 500 bhp even though it runs on 2-star petrol.
Mechanically, it is quite crude with a layout similar to that of most British cars in the 60s and 70s, such as the Ford Cortina. The American Chrysler V8 engine drives the rear wheels through a 3-speed automatic transmission (the Chrysler TorqueFlite, said to be the smoothest auto box ever made; the version fitted to this car is the extra-heavy duty variant intended for New York taxis). Although there are big disc brakes all round, the car is let down by its relatively crude suspension - at the rear, conventional cartsprings are all that hold the tyres on the road :-(.
Great fun to drive on the autobahn and a head-turner in town, handling gets a bit hairy on B roads and can be downright dangerous on winding country lanes. The back end breaks away at the slightest provocation and applying 500 horsepower to the wheels at the wrong moment can lead to interesting results ...
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Andy Thomas, March 2nd, 1998.