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

Ed Kellock ekellock at gmail.com
Mon Nov 23 12:27:17 PST 2009

Just recently, here in the States, Ford has begun advertising their
small front wheel drive box van from Europe.  I think it makes great
sense and look forward to seeing them on the streets.  We'll see...
I've also been please to see more (Daimler) Chrysler Sprinters on the

The VW Caddy, Combi and the Corvair p/u were destined to be failures,
along with the Ranchero and El Camino mainly because they were the
all-season tire of the car vs. truck world....  They don't do any one
thing especially well.


On Mon, Nov 23, 2009 at 9:40 AM, Roger Woodbury
<rmwoodbury at roadrunner.com> wrote:
> Oh, and I forgot to diatribe about trucks.
> It is strange that we have not developed a new and more intelligent form of
> light commercially based utility vehicle.  But the truth is that we are
> still making the same sort of truck that Henry first made out of his Model
> T:  long nose with room for two in the cab and a cargo bed out back.  The US
> auto industry makes trucks the same way today.
> I wonder why it is that in this time of increased congestion and rising fuel
> costs, we still cling to the old fashioned front engine rear drive
> configuration that is very short on utility and long on consumption.  To
> make matters worse, many trucks now have extended cabs that will hold as
> many as six occupants while the beds have shrunk to as little as six feet in
> length.
> Having a near daily need to a truck-like utility vehicle, I wonder why the
> makers can't come up with a cab-over or at least short nosed truck, with a
> modern high performance and high efficiency engine?  As a practical matter a
> bed of at least eight feet in length is not really very usable where real
> utility is concerned.  If the nose was shorter on utility vehicles like
> pickup trucks, beds could be as long as say, ten feet, or as short as eight
> feet with the expanded cab still provided where more inside cargo or
> passenger capacity was needed.  A pickup truck that is sixteen feet long
> while still maintaining an eightfoot bed seems to make far more sense to me
> than the great big trucks that we produce now as "utility" vehicles.
> And a truck that could have 3/4 ton capacity with a four cylinder
> turbodiesel engine ought to be extremely popular.  If the transmission had
> seven speeds, it would be more than fast enough to keep pace with traffic
> even carrying a large payload.
> So far all that truck manufacturers seem to be able to do is build 1918
> vintage trucks that are "updated" with bigger engines and more cupholders
> than they could even imagine back then.
> Roger
> -----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.
> John
> -----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
> lot
> 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
> I
> never considered, NOR would have considered, have sparked some renewed
> interest.
> 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
> here
> 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
> car,
> then why not a Porsche 904GTS that you could have ordered from the
> Porsche
> 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
> pass
> 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
> Seamus's
> Cordoba as not particularly significant and certainly not "the best" in
> any
> 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
> Carlo
> or Grand Prix?  They were all big boxy coupes with the same old
> suspension
> and driveline that had been made here for decades.  The only significant
> personal coupe built in the US since WWII was the Oldsmobile Toronado,
> and
> while's I would love to have one now as a summer car, they really
> weren't
> 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
> be
> surprised, I'll bet.
> *1957 Chevrolet Corvette -  Now, I am not a Corvette fan.  Never have
> been.
> 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
> "buckboard"?
> But the truth is that the Chevrolet Corvette is a significant event in
> US
> 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
> there
> are much better Corvettes in terms of handling, driving, creature
> comforts,
> power etc, etc, etc.  But this particular year was significant because
> it
> marked a true change away from what was originally a nice car to drive
> to
> the country club and GM's attempt at producing a real, world class
> sports
> car.  This car...the 1977...had optional fuel injection, and to make a
> the
> point a bit clearer, the Corvette had fuel injection BEFORE Mercedes
> brought
> out the 300SL with it's injection.  Now I suppose one could carp that
> the
> Rochester system in the 'Vette was more akin to a pot burning kerosene
> stove
> 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
> here.
> But this is truly one of the great cars every produced by anyone.  By
> 1983
> Mercedes has perfected its wax like undercoating so the cars were far
> more
> resistant to corrosion here in the US than before and the cars would
> stand
> up to regular use in US driving conditions.  This was the last year for
> this
> car, and when it gave way to the new generation 190/190D in 1984, it
> gave
> away an awful lot.  Never again would there be a virtually hand built
> and
> carefully hand checked and rechecked economy car produced in the world.
> The
> 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
> well
> 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
> belief.
> 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.
> Slow
> 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
> decades.
> So, those are two more of the ten best.  I will have two more perhaps
> later,
> but it is a nice morning here, and I need to go outside and   fix the
> barn
> doors so that they close properly. Winter is coming and I fear it is
> coming
> too soon!
> Roger
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