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HomeAutoHunterDiego’s AutoHunter Picks

Diego’s AutoHunter Picks

I talk to the wind

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The older we get, the less patience we have? That’s a thought I have after choosing this week’s AutoHunter Picks. Does the style of a 1960 Ford ragtop trump the driving experience considering modern cars are simply so much better? Or would I be able to tolerate driving a Sunliner as a daily driver, enjoying the required mechanical input?

The thought occurred to me when I singled out the Bimmer below this paragraph. Here we have another car for wind-in-the-hair driving, but this one has the expectation of reliability (no throwing the dice to see if it’ll start so I can make my dentist appointment) with handling chops. It’s also faster and likely will cost less when the auction’s over. There are two other open-air vehicles to consider (a gray area for the Blazer, but that cap is removable), so which of the four is your jam for this week?

1998 BMW Z3 M Roadster
When these came out, I wasn’t too keen on the styling. Then I drove one and made an about-face. The 1990s were a decade where BMW truly was coming into its own, and any M-series Bimmer is always worth a second glance. A big bummer with these cars, however, is that the U.S.-spec M Roadster was powered by a detuned version of what the Europeans had. Maybe 240 horses was adequate for a 3.2-liter six at the time, but 321 horsepower sounds much better. Was this an EPA thing?

This Cosmos Black 1998 M Roadster features a low 51,748 miles and is shifted by a five-speed manual. Nice touches and improvements include Euro-spec lighting front and back, clear marker lamps, strut tower bar and aftermarket intake. The center console features VDO gauges and an upgraded Bluetooth audio system. CARFAX checks out nicely too! Loads of Teutonic fun waiting for you here.

1960 Ford Sunliner
I used to adore these. The sleek style of the Starliner and Sunliner was light-years better than those goofy 1959s that looked so stodgy with their pre-Galaxie rooflines and styling that wasn’t as contemporary as Chevrolet’s. That changed with the ’60, which also received a performance injection with the midyear 352/360. That was the most hp this side of a 300-F, but it was saddled by a three-on-the-tree (advantage: Chevrolet due to an available four-speed manual).

But the vast majority of 1960 Fords featured more pedestrian engines. This Sunliner was originally built with the Thunderbird 352 V8, which is a huge plus, even if it was originally a two-barrel, but that’s loads better than the Thunderbird 292 “Y-block.” The Monte Carlo Red with matching red top and tri-tone red/black/white interior is just so stylish too! I personally could do without the Continental kit but, hey, win some/lose some. This is a fine example of the Great American Convertible.

1980 Chevrolet K5 Blazer Silverado
Yeah, I know, I keep on picking trucks for my AutoHunter Picks, but I enjoy singling out interesting vehicles that I know little about. In the case of this Blazer, it reminds me of elementary school and Mrs. Taylor picking up her sons in a solid red Blazer surrounded by a sea of Custom Cruiser wagons. I don’t think hers was a Silverado, but it wasn’t austere either. This was in the pre-SUV days, yet it fit in nicely.

This mildly tricked-out 1980 K5 Blazer Silverado 4X4 doesn’t quite fit in among polite company, but so what? It has a four-speed manual behind a 350 (the biggest engine available), which sounds like a nice place to start. Then there’s the gorgeous plaid interior that checks another box. Is the lift kit a plus or minus? I dunno and don’t care – I want to sit in this thing and play “Another One Bites the Dust” while people stare with envy.

1989 Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z Convertible
You may not be aware, but 1980s Camaro convertibles can be somewhat rare. In the case of the 1989 Camaro, only 3,245 RSs and 3,940 IROC-Zs were built with a soft top. Of course, the IROC came standard with the L03 5.0-liter V8, but at a tepid 170 horsepower. An upgrade was the Tuned Port Injection LB9 305, which offered 195 (automatic) or 225 horses (five-speed), but the Big Kahuna was the L98 350 with 240 horses (automatic-only), but not for the convertible.

This 1989 Camaro IROC-Z convertible originally came with the L03 but now features a contemporary-for-its-time, fuel-injected 350 that’s been rebuilt. It’s been a Texas car all its life, so there shouldn’t be any Rust Belt issues. A roll bar, custom maroon and black custom interior, modern stereo, and backup camera clearly aren’t stock, but that’s the attraction to this classic ragtop where you can play with it without guilt yet strut your classic 1980s style.

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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.

1 COMMENT

  1. Happy St.Pats Day, Diego! I love all these save the Beamer, which I like; but as delicious as it is like modern Toyota/Lexus offerings strikes me as something my 9ur old nephew might have doodled while avoiding learning math😁. And I dislike Continental kits as well.

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