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Diego’s Friday AutoHunter Picks

Horsepower is the name of the game … or is it?


Today’s Friday Pick is all about horsepower: a little, a little more, and a little more than that. Sometimes our culture runs with the idea that more is better, much to our detriment — more grub could lead to more obesity, for example. But more waves could mean more surfing, and more love could mean more well-being.

To be sure, more horsepower is never bad, yet a vehicle’s particular charm could be because it lacks horsepower. Can you see the charm in each of these Friday AutoHunter Picks?

1970 Cushman Truckster

1970 Cushman Truckster

Cushman, the company of farm equipment, airborne scooters, and little utilities like this Truckster has quite a collector following. Like antique farm tractors, you wouldn’t know that until something brought it to your attention. Produced from 1952 through 2002, the Truckster is somewhat ubiquitous in daily American life but in a somewhat passive manner, much like a fire hydrant. Flip through the pictures and this Truckster’s charms are quite evident, especially the dual exhaust stacks and rustic trim around the pickup bed.

And who wouldn’t like the illustration on the rear picturing Popeye, Olive Oyl, Swee’Pea, Bluto and Wimpy. Better yet, as the auction ends on a Tuesday, you can pull your best Wimpy impersonation and gladly pay the seller on Tuesday.

1965 Oldsmobile Cutlass

1965 Oldsmobile Cutlass Sports Coupe

Initially an upmarket F85 introduced late in the 1961 model year, the Cutlass came standard with the aluminum 215 V8 in the top state of tune thanks to the 4bbl. This would be the Cutlass’ modus operandi for several years: a sporty, practical car with plenty of power. Maybe a 215 doesn’t give you images of taking on Hemis but, when this 1965 Cutlass was new, it featured a standard 315 horsepower from its 330cid small-block. Few regular models in the American market had a better power-to-weight ratio in standard form than the Cutlass. It didn’t hurt that the Cutlass came standard with bucket seats either.

As such, Cutlasses like this Sports Coupe (note the B-pillar) are underrated collectibles that can have enough muscle for most people and have style in spades. Icing on the cake here is the somewhat unusual color combination of gold interior with Saffron Yellow paint.

1970 Dodge Challenger R/T SE

1970 Challenger R/T SE

Dodge was playing its A game in 1970, replete with High Impact colors and an engine for every purse and purpose (with apologies to Alfred P. Sloan). While a Johnny-come-lately, the stylish Challenger was a fine addition to the American automotive scene, and it was distinguished nicely from its Barracuda sister thanks to a longer wheelbase and quad headlights. Models in the series were the standard Challenger, upscale SE, performance R/T, and the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink R/T SE. Interestingly, the Challenger outsold the Barracuda, and this Plum Crazy R/T SE perfectly demonstrates why Dodge was so hot.

440 Six Pack with standard air cleaner

But remember, we were talking about horsepower, and this Chally has it in spades thanks to the 390-horsepower 440 Six Pack. One step below the Hemi in prestige, the tri-carbed 440’s proponents often venture into sacrilege by believing that, out of the showroom floor, the Six Pack was faster down the quarter. Imagine pulling 13-second ETs while being coddled in leather-trimmed buckets (with cloth and deluxe vinyl being options), overhead console, small backlite, and special moldings.  

Diego Rosenberg
Diego Rosenberg
Lead Writer Diego Rosenberg is a native of Wilmington, Delaware and Princeton, New Jersey, giving him plenty of exposure to the charms of Carlisle and Englishtown. Though his first love is Citroen, he fell for muscle cars after being seduced by 1950s finned flyers—in fact, he’s written two books on American muscle. But please don’t think there is a strong American bias because foreign weirdness is never far from his heart. With a penchant for underground music from the 1960-70s, Diego and his family reside in metropolitan Phoenix.


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