Ardell Brown Classic Cars in Midvale, Utah one of my favorite places to go on my lunch break and bum around. For the most part, their cars are generally older, with mostly muscle cars and classic 1950s rides comprising the bulk of the collection. Some are for sale, and some are not. Unfortunately, today’s hatchback is not one of those available for purchase. Sad too, since it’s rare enough to be the only one I’ve ever seen in person.
Billed as the most fuel efficient luxury car in the US, the CT200h is the latest in a line of interminably named, but generally fine automobiles from Toyota’s luxury division. It is currently Lexus’ only hatchback (if you don’t count their myriad SUVs, which I don’t), and in my opinion, their best looking offering.
With the exception of an oddly-styled C-pillar – that instead of making the car look like a 3-door coupe, makes it look strangely rear-heavy – the CT is a very nice looking car. It does have some of the tiresome current styling memes such as poor rearward visibility, the high beltline and appendage-y looking stalk-mounted door mirrors, but all-in-all, it is a refined, clean and handsome design.
It also wore the best looking set of wheels at the 2012 Utah International Auto Expo.
You may recall yesterday’s Hawking a Hatch post – a one-of-a-kind Geo Metro limousine. If you read through the Craigslist post to the end, you would have seen that the seller suggested potential buyers view a Youtube video that would flesh out some details about the car and probably answer some questions for you.
- Do I know anything about luxury?
- What does the awesome Betty Boop mural referred to in the ad look like?
- How is the extended roof attached?
- What does the paint job look like up close?
- What does the undercarriage look like?
Honestly, you just have to see it to believe it. Via Justin Hyde at Motoramic, the Yahoo car blog, I present you perhaps the world’s only Geo Metro limousine. In my mind, this one’ s circled the idiotic/brilliant continuum a few times and landed squarely in the brilliant quadrant. Except of course, if there are only two options, then you can’t really have “quadrants,” so…
and yes that is a tiger giving betty boop the eye on the hood of the car!
The house in the background of this photo was built in Salt Lake City, Utah around 1890. One hundred years later in Normal, Illinois, the first generation of the “Diamond Star Motors” trio of sporty hatchbacks was built as a joint venture between Chrysler and Mitsubishi. Sold as Plymouth Laser, Eagle Talon and Mitsubishi Eclipse models, and powered by a variety of normally-aspirated and turbocharged four-cylinders, available as front- or all-wheel drive, they competed in a crowded segment populated by such others as the Ford Probe/Mazda MX6 twins, the Toyota Celica, and Nissan 240sx. What the DSM cars had on most in that class was the aforementioned powerful turbo engine and all-wheel drive. With horsepower ratings up to 190, the DSMs generally outgunned the competition by 40 or more horses, placing their performance more on par with the next class of sporty vehicles, anchored by the pony cars – Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro. That performance, paired with reasonable prices, made the trio a popular pick in the early 90s.
But by the time the second generation was released for the ’95 model year, those pony cars had started to separate themselves from the rest of the sporty hatchback crowd. A horsepower war was brewing between Chevy and Ford, and their V8 engines were finally starting to put out the sort of power that many expected after years of malaise-era emissions-choked disappointments. Meanwhile, the popularity of the SUV was starting to put the pinch on the sporty hatchback and personal luxury coupe markets – those looking for status symbols wanted to be seen in a rugged truck rather than a low-slung coupe.
The 1980s – sub-dollar gasoline and 59-cent 32-ounce drinks. Why do I mention those two items and not the typical low-hanging fruit like bad music and worse fashion? Because those are two items you’ll see in this retro gallery. In this blog, I’ve made a few mentions of the Golden Age of Hatchbacks and never once fully explained what I mean by that term. Rest assured, I’m working on a fleshed-out explanation, but until then, I’ll let this collection of photos speak their thousand words.
The Lancia Fulvia, while a fairly rare vehicle, is not unheard of in the US – a quick search at bringatrailer.com shows several listed in just the last few months. What makes this particular example unusual is that it was imported directly from Europe – note the funky euro headlights rather than the typical US-spec round sealed beams.
The first in a regular series – a quick-strike overview of some of the design features of a particular car. This week, the Chevrolet Volt, a new hybrid car from General Motors. The Volt has been significantly hyped in the media, winning the 2011 Motor Trend Car of the Year award. Does the design live up to the hype? Will it stand the test of time? Take a look and share your thoughts on the Chevrolet Volt in the comments below.
The 2012 Utah International Auto Expo is not a big-time event like Detroit, rather a more down-home affair along the lines of what your meat-and-potatoes American experiences every year about this time. I remember going to the Kansas City show back in high school and this is about the same – row upon row of everyday vehicles that you can get some seat time in while in a brightly light room. A showroom on steroids if you will.
Along these lines, the UIAE reflects the auto industry pretty well. The first thing that I noticed was the Jeep indoor test track. Sign up, show your driver license and you get to take a Jeep up and over a massive incline, over an obstacle course and back to the start. A cool event to be sure, but in years past, that space was taken by cars. The auto industry has shrunk and what used to be relegated to the north parking lot of the South Towne Expo Center is now in the north end of the hall.
But the reason we’re here is the hatchback. And there’s quite a few of them in many different classes – from basic econoboxes to the most exotic of exotics. This recap should be in no way be construed as a be-all, end-all overview of what’s available, more just what caught my eye. In that vein, I’m going to organize this post not by manufacturer and list off a bunch of boring stats, but rather into some more… esoteric categories. Special thanks goes out to Scott from needthatcar.com for setting some rather nasty picks on unsuspecting people, allowing me clear space for the (camera) shot.
Click on the photos for hi-res goodness. Let’s begin…