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

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57 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: What's the Best (or Least Embarrassing) Retro-Classic?”

  1. Maymar Avatar

    Shout out to the podcast for mentioning the Zimmer Quicksliver.

  2. smalleyxb122 Avatar

    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. AlexG55 Avatar

      I think the three-wheeler counts as a throwback given that they hadn’t made anything like it for 50 years:

      1. Facel Vega Avatar
        Facel Vega

        Well, Morgan hadn’t, but others have been making them, including Liberty Motors– Morgan sensibly bought Liberty’s Ace Cyclecar as the basis for its own new 3-wheeler, after all, and now makes Liberty put an “under license from Morgan” notice on its site.

    2. Rover 1 Avatar
      Rover 1

      Even better, for some of us is the latest Morgan +8 Speedster in a nice period colour, and the latest chassis engineering. Quicker than Porsches and Ferraris and looking like this.

  3. 0A5599 Avatar

    What counts as retro-classic?
    Challenger Hellcat?
    Cobra replica?

  4. mdharrell Avatar

    The Ruger Special. Regrettably production ceased at a total of two.

  5. Alff Avatar

    The Alfa Romeo Gran Sport Quattroruote, factory produced by Alfa between 1965 and 1967.

    1. Kyle Allen Avatar

      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. Monkey10is Avatar

        You hardly need ask: Did you see Alfa’s production line between 1965 & 1967?

    2. jim Avatar

      These weren’t factory produced, they were built by Zagato. Here’s a pic of the assembly line.

      1. Jeepster Avatar

        Just bleed the brakes on the lift & floor Tony…

  6. Tanshanomi Avatar

    I don’t know if this contains too much authentic Model A in it to qualify, and it’s not a production car, but nothing embarrassing about BDA-29, M.A.T’s 250-HP, Cosworth powered Model A.

  7. tonyola Avatar

    TLC Talbo. I’ve seen one of these up close and it was well finmished.

    1. Lokki Avatar

      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. tonyola Avatar

        The TLC Talbo uses Mustang GT engines and running gear.

        1. Andrew_theS2kBore Avatar

          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.

        2. Rover 1 Avatar
          Rover 1

          Or more recently, Lincoln LS/Jaguar S-Type V8 running gear. And the whole operation of making the car is currently for sale, if anyone is interested.These cars are quite nicely engineered. http://tlccar.com/index.htm

      2. Roger Henry Avatar
        Roger Henry

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

        1. mdharrell Avatar

          So it’s the car world’s equivalent of the Camry?

          1. Roger Henry Avatar
            Roger Henry

            The car world’s equivalent of a cheap hooker.

    1. Jeepster Avatar

      Yes – You should feel bad

    2. Alff Avatar

      Looks like a Moke and a Moggie got busy.

    3. Rover 1 Avatar
      Rover 1

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

    4. Guest Avatar

      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.

  8. Tanshanomi Avatar

    I drove a Marlene 500K neo-replica once many years ago. It had a Ford 302 and a Corvette steering column, IIRC. I had a blast.

    1. Manxman Avatar

      Now that looks very nicely proportioned and doesn’t look cobbled together.

  9. Manxman Avatar

    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. Jeepster Avatar

      Yep – this one indeed. And the Schwimmwagen !

      1. Jeepster Avatar

        type 166

    2. Tanshanomi Avatar

      Can I interest you in a Wombat?

      1. smalleyxb122 Avatar

        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.

      2. Jeepster Avatar

        Tanshanomi will it float ?

    3. Jeepster Avatar

      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. Manxman Avatar

        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.

  10. Age_of_Aerostar Avatar

    I probably got the spirit of the question wrong, and this still doesn’t fit my incorrect understanding…. but it was what came to mind….

    1. Jeepster Avatar

      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.

  11. kogashiwa Avatar

    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. HDS Avatar

      You are 100% right

    2. nanoop Avatar

      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).

  12. Letstakeawalk Avatar

    Nothing embarrassing about driving a Wiesmann. Rebodied BMW.

  13. Jeepster Avatar

    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 .

  14. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    If you like the idea of an 1940s MG TF with Mazda reliability, there’s always this kit available.http://www.sportscars.net.nz/

  15. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    Though I think I’d prefer the Simpson Designs Italia and keep more MX5-ness while adding more ‘Italian’

    1. Myron Vernis Avatar
      Myron Vernis

      The Simpson design cars are very cool and well engineered.

  16. Myron Vernis Avatar
    Myron Vernis

    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. DavidCulberson Avatar

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

  17. karonetwentyc Avatar

    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. Guest Avatar

      There is no better name for that vehicle.

      It just suits it so many ways.

      Somebody deserves a medal.

  18. karonetwentyc Avatar

    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. Myron Vernis Avatar
      Myron Vernis

      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. karonetwentyc Avatar

        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. Myron Vernis Avatar
          Myron Vernis

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