[V8] More of Roger's Ten Best....

Roger Woodbury rmwoodbury at roadrunner.com
Mon Nov 23 09:17:51 PST 2009

The reason why I chose the 240D over the 300D was because the 240D is
relatively speaking, very simple.  While it has the same brakes and
steering, it has a much simpler engine and although the turbocharger in the
five cylinder engines makes the cars much more able to keep up with the
traffic pressure of modern US driving conditions, the engine is
significantly more expensive to operate and maintain.  I have never had a
240D, although I have had three 300D's all used, and had the extreme joy of
having one of the engines rebuilt.  Wonderful cars, really, but there is an
attraction for me to have such a magnificent vehicle with small, frugal and
simple engine, even if it is slow.  From time to time I see them at
auctions, and wonder about spending six or seven grand for one to hang onto
as a summer car.

There are no vans of any sort on my list.  Nor are there any trucks.  While
the minivan was a common item in recent American driving, their popularity
is waning and being replaced by the "crossover", which like the SUV's that
have spawned them, are a fad that will likely pass away.  These are all just
great big unnecessarily expensive and foolish wastes of space on the public
highway, in my opinion.  The SUV may or may not have a long term future, but
I think that the crossover will pass, victim to rising costs of fuel.  While
not popular right now, I expect that there will be a return to more station
wagon type vehicles. Utility vehicles that will deliver much better fuel
mileage than any SUV, minivan or crossover: vehicles that will deliver
greater efficiency in the face of $5 per gallon gasoline.

At any rate, even if they are a fixture forever, I don't see any of them as
"best" of anything.  They are just big ugly boxes to carry stuff around, and
one is pretty much like another, and none of them do much of anything
especially well.  I have driven several of them, and decided after driving a
new Chrysler Pacifica a few years ago, that I would never drive another one.
That Pacifica was a fine riding and handling vehicle, needing only a real
engine to make it bearable:  but the small conventional V6 coupled to a
nervous automatic transmission that downshifted when you even thought about
making the thing move faster on a level surface, made me turn around and
drive back to the dealer as fast as I could.


-----Original Message-----
From: diemarthadie at aol.com [mailto:diemarthadie at aol.com] 
Sent: Monday, November 23, 2009 9:57 AM
To: rmwoodbury at roadrunner.com; V8 at audifans.com
Subject: Re: [V8] More of Roger's Ten Best....

Just to be clear, Roger, I was joking about the X1/9 and the Chevy 
wagon, and the Jeepster, and the Scout.  Dead serious about the 
Chevette though ;)

Why the 240D over the 300D?  Personal experience or ?

The 300D has become a bit of a collector/biofuel prize.  I've been very 
surprised at the asking prices for decent models of late - and for 
crappy ones too.  I briefly shopped them when looking for a new family 
truckster, before finding a very serviceable and cheap Voyager.

BTW, as much as it pains me, I would probably have to put a minivan on 
the list.  Whether it was the Dodge Caravan for really starting it all 
or the Honda Odyssey (or current Town & Country) for perfecting much of 
it.  My work vehicle was a first generation Caravan for many years.  We 
put 200k on it, loading and unloading it with complete radio studios 
and transmission systems, trekking from the wilds of SC to NYC.  It 
lost most of the rooftop paint and rusted around the rear window, but 
everything else just kept working.


-----Original Message-----
From: Roger Woodbury <rmwoodbury at roadrunner.com>
To: V8 at audifans.com
Sent: Sun, Nov 22, 2009 9:17 am
Subject: [V8] More of Roger's Ten Best....

I am having trouble with this list, and have found that I am considering
revisions as I go along. All of this is taking time, and making me do a 
of reading of old articles and books that I have on my shelf.  It is
interesting because some of the cars that at first appeared to me to be
obvious choices have paled and passed into shadow, while some cars that 
never considered, NOR would have considered, have sparked some renewed

Appreciated also are the comments that I have received.  I certainly had
forgotten all about the Fiat X1/9.  And why not:  Fiat was fading away 
when that car was introduced, but I did think a bit about one as I was
commuting to Massachusetts for reserve military duty, and figured that I
could buy one out of my reserve pay.  Then I came to my senses realizing
that a Fiat was going to be, well, a Fiat, and here in Maine that 
wasn't a
good thing.  Besides, if one wanted to point to a mid engined sports 
then why not a Porsche 904GTS that you could have ordered from the 
dealer, or perhaps later on a 914-6 (which I loved the sound of best), 
or a
914 -2 litre which was a better car?  Nope. All of these simply don't 
over the bars that I have put up to mark the ten best.

So also I think of the big Chevrolet Caprices and other cars like 
Cordoba as not particularly significant and certainly not "the best" in 
way.  Why a big Chevvy when Dodges, Fords, Plymouths etc, etc, etc, 
were all
much the same:  solid rear axles and big relatively slow turning eight
cylinder engines carrying a great big box?  Why a Cordoba over a Monte 
or Grand Prix?  They were all big boxy coupes with the same old 
and driveline that had been made here for decades.  The only significant
personal coupe built in the US since WWII was the Oldsmobile Toronado, 
while's I would love to have one now as a summer car, they really 
the "best" at much of anything....of course: that's just MY opinion.

Right now, I am actually running out of room on the list.  I want to 
add a
couple more as I think they were the "best" for some reason or other.  
So, I
am struggling, and no more so than with the general classification of
"sports car".  So, this morning, I will start with that.  And you will 
surprised, I'll bet.

*1957 Chevrolet Corvette -  Now, I am not a Corvette fan.  Never have 
A friend of mine in high school had one and I was insanely jealous 
until I
was given a ride.  I couldn't believe that anyone was serious about such
vehicles after that one ride:  holy cowl shake?  Can you say 
But the truth is that the Chevrolet Corvette is a significant event in 
automobile history, and the best of the cars I believe was probably the
first revision of the C1 car that came out in 1957.  Oh, I know that 
are much better Corvettes in terms of handling, driving, creature 
power etc, etc, etc.  But this particular year was significant because 
marked a true change away from what was originally a nice car to drive 
the country club and GM's attempt at producing a real, world class 
car.  This car...the 1977...had optional fuel injection, and to make a 
point a bit clearer, the Corvette had fuel injection BEFORE Mercedes 
out the 300SL with it's injection.  Now I suppose one could carp that 
Rochester system in the 'Vette was more akin to a pot burning kerosene 
than the first Bosch system in the Mercedes, but it did produce a
significant increase in power and performance for the Corvette.

*1983 Mercedes-Benz 240D -  Oh, I can hear the howls and screams from 
But this is truly one of the great cars every produced by anyone.  By 
Mercedes has perfected its wax like undercoating so the cars were far 
resistant to corrosion here in the US than before and the cars would 
up to regular use in US driving conditions.  This was the last year for 
car, and when it gave way to the new generation 190/190D in 1984, it 
away an awful lot.  Never again would there be a virtually hand built 
carefully hand checked and rechecked economy car produced in the world. 
1984 190/190D was a find small car and very much a Mercedes, but 
nothing was
the same:  the old 240 D was rugged and overbuilt and its quality and
engineering excellent can be illustrated by the design of the door latch
which was discontinued with the end of the model run. The latch was so 
made that the car could be picked up and hung by the door handle (if the
handle itself would hold togther):  the cars were crash proof beyond 
Also the 240D engine was a "generations" power plant:  with basic 
service it
would run forever, and many the world over are still running on and on
today.  I'd love to have one of these cars now, as a fun, summer car.  
as a snail going up hill in a howling downhill wind, but reliable.
Inexpensive to buy and maintain if you measure such things in terms of

So, those are two more of the ten best.  I will have two more perhaps 
but it is a nice morning here, and I need to go outside and   fix the 
doors so that they close properly. Winter is coming and I fear it is 
too soon!


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