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Diego’s Friday AutoHunter Picks

A wish list of hardtops for Father’s Day


Attention Significant Others! In approximately one week, it will be Father’s Day. If you have yet to select a gift for your mate of the XY persuasion, may I suggest flipping through the AutoHunter roster and finding automotive gold?  There’s something for everyone there.

Me? I’m sending my wife a list of these four vehicles. While I’m not holding my breath that she’ll take the hint, I’ll never know if I don’t try.

What would you like your significant other to buy for you?

1991 BMW 850i
Here’s another one of those “when I was a kid …” intros — this Bimmer was a neat car when I was teen. The front reminds me of a BMW M1, the profile reminds me that pillarless hardtops should never have gone away, and the V12 reminds me of a time of which we likely will never see again. This was when BMW was being BMW and not trying to be an overwrought Mercedes with an ugly grille. The Ultimate Driving Machine indeed!

This 1991 850i coupe features 39,000 miles, so it’s barely broken in. Plus, with a whole host of features like sunroof, dual-zone climate control, and a vintage, period cell phone, it has all the conveniences you’d ever want for those Sunday drives. This thing cost $90,000 new, so it’s an easy way to become a prince at a price point more suited to a pauper, something that can’t be done with the similarly priced (at the time) Porsche 911 Turbo.

1989 Mercedes-Benz 300 CE
Another interesting car from my youth. As we were emerging from the Malaise Era, Mercedes introduced the E-Class for 1985 (with the coupe arriving in 1987) and gave us performance from a six-cylinder sedan that suggested that yes, Virginia, there was light at the end of the tunnel after all. These cars are solid in ways that Mercedes was known for but for some reason (tech? regulation?) the company lost its way in much the same way it seems BMW has.

This 1989 300 CE features everything great about the “W124” series in coupe form. Sure, the dynamics may be outdated today, but these still feel competent and are built like a tank. Zero to sixty at eight seconds for a straight-six was fabulous in its time and is enough to not feel like you’re driving a diesel. Again, pillarless styling makes this one a winner.

1953 Mercury Monterey
Mercurys of this vintage are somewhat of a mystery to me, as they’re somewhat squeezed between the James Dean Mercs and the popular 1955-56s, but we’ve got a good two-door hardtop theme going so why not? The Monterey Special Custom Coupe was the sportiest and most prestigious Mercury save the Monterey convertible (though, possibly, the eight-passenger station wagon was the most expensive of the bunch).

While still saddled with the “Flathead” V8, the spiffy red and white interior is the perfect complement to what would have been considered a spiffy hardtop coupe in its day. However, the true magic is under the hood, where you’ll find finned aluminum Offenhauser heads and Edelbrock intake with dual carburetors. Maybe it’s not a fabulous Atomic Age chariot, but I bet I’d like Ike if I was driving it.

1970 Ford Mustang Mach I
From my observation, muscle car folks seem to prefer the 1969 Mach I as their all-time favorite, but for some reason I prefer the ’70. Perhaps it’s the parking lights in the grille? Or the variety of day-glow colors? Even the side trim makes it look, um, trimmer. Plus, the new 351 Cleveland was a great performance companion to the 428 Cobra Jet, which was making its final appearance.

This Calypso Coral 1970 Mach I features the Q-code 428, which means it’s a Cobra Jet without ram air. While lacking that novelty of the Shaker, the Q-code CJ is much rarer at 364 with an automatic transmission (versus 1,130 with ram air). The “6” on the data plate means it has a 3.00 open rear, which sounds great for high-speed cruising in the Arizona desert, but it’s been replaced with 3.73s and limited-slip, which is more fun around town.

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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