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HomeAutoHunterDiego’s AutoHunter Picks

Diego’s AutoHunter Picks

Style leaders

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This week’s AutoHunter Picks have styling on their side—not all of them good. Design is in the eye of the beholder, of course but, as an idealist, I do believe there is a way to establish a kernel of truth on what’s good and what’s not. If you remain unconvinced, join the crowd because imposing objectivity to a subjective matter is another way of appearing like a jackass!

So, here we have four cars, three of which are paragons of style and design, while one of them is polarizing yet has its fans. You’re the biggest fan of which?

1964 Buick Riviera
For years, we were told the 1963-65 Buick Riviera was America’s most beautiful car of the decade, and that’s arguably true. But the Riviera has never been able to use that title to pump up its value. As the hobby has evolved, the Riviera’s value has never achieved the heights of many other cars during the decade. Blame it on the muscle cars that took a commanding lead in demand.

Yet when I see a Riviera, it always causes me to take notice. Though the first is sometimes the one to get, the ’64 is better because the standard engine was upgraded to a 425, aka the Wildcat 465. This one is a less conservative red and features those fabulous Buick mags, power windows, air conditioning, power trunk release, and more. This is a classy car with torque to match.

1970 Dodge Super Bee
Nineteen seventy Coronets are a love/hate affair. Me? I think they’re pretty cool, but there’s nothing wrong with pointing out it’s kinda ugly yet liking it. It almost seems the designers were evolving the design but then the deadline was looming and they had to settle for this. There are other features that are likely more aesthetically pleasing, like the more pronounced Coke-bottle rear fenders, so by no means is it all bad.

The Super Bee featured two choices of stripes for 1970, as the “hockey stick” stripes on this one was an alternative from the traditional “bumblebee” stripe. This one has received a 392 Hemi transplant, creating a nice crossroads between vintage and new Scat Pack wrapped in a package that looks like it’s going to sting you. This car is more tasteful than many others that have received similar treatment.

1953 Chevrolet Corvette Replica
When it comes to cars from the early 1950s, I am hot and cold — some cars I feel look great, while others needed to wait a few years before their style fully showed through. But when it comes to the 1953 Corvette, it gave us a hint of the greatness GM would have in store starting in 1955 (though, admittedly, some senior cars were all-new for 1954). Even if you prefer the 1956-57 or 1958-62, they all originate with the 1953.

But 1953s are quite expensive, and you wouldn’t want to drive them around much. Ditto the similar 1954-55, so here we have a solution: a replica powered by a 350 crate engine with dual-quads. Perhaps visually there’s some authenticity lost due to the wheels and stance, but everything else is there. To these eyes, a more vintage hot rod treatment would float my boat more, but there’s a lot to like here.

1956 Studebaker Flight Hawk
This is more like it! When I mentioned above the hit/miss aspect of early 1950s cars, few cars hit it as well as the 1953-54 Studebaker coupe. In fact, that holds true for the entire decade, and I bet few would argue with me. The proportions and clean styling belie its American roots in some respects, which is ironic because this was the beginning of the end for the manufacturer from South Bend.

This 1956 Studebaker Flight Hawk has been the recipient of a 1953 front clip, which can’t be a bad thing. I’m less keen on hot-rodded aspect of the Stude but, like the Corvette, it makes the car easier to drive semi-regularly. This one features a Chevy ZZ4 crate engine, and keeping tabs on its vitals is easy since Studebaker originally equipped the Hawk with a full complement of gauges

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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.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Love all the Rivvies, but it’s gotta be a boat tail GS455 if I’m buying. The ’70 StupidBee holds a place in my heart for being the car I worked on most in HS. Best bud had a GoMango one with a 440 we built, aftermarket 727, Mopar 3.23 SureGrip axle.
    The hyper aggressive styling fails most when you’re under the hood. That lil filler between the bumpers hangs down just enough to scalp you if you forget, and you will. I still have scars on my head from this, 40+ years later. Fastest and quickest car at our school, tho’, so there’s that.

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