January 30, 2008

Seis punto nueve.

Here's a rare sight. I realize it's not terribly appropriate for this blog, since we discuss barn/field finds and "barely runners" with enough patina to scare off women and children, but here's something a little different. It's a late '70s or early '80s Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9. These legendary 6.9s featured an overtested, overbuilt, overpowered monster of a V8 that truly was the precursor to today's top-end AMG models. In addition, the 6.9 featured a suspension not unlike the Citroen DS' self-leveling system.

I won't try to play historian as I don't know a ton about these cars, but others masquerading as Mercedes-Benz Classic Center employees have shared some unique details and mesmerizing tales about these rare 6.9 supersedans at Wikipedia. Check out the story of Brock Yates writing the PR material or of Automobile Magazine founder David E. Davis Jr.'s comparison of the 6.9 to a Mini.

I spotted this particular car in the winter of 2005 in San Diego, California. Note that it features Mexico, D.F. (Distrito Federal, or Mexico City) license plates. No doubt the car belongs to a wealthy enthusiast or collector. Lucky them.

January 28, 2008

The ugly duckling.

I got this 1978 2CV from a guy in Les Milles, a small commune of Aix. It ran when parked (go figure) and that was about a year and a half ago. We got it running courtesy of starting fluid. I'm not quite sure if it drives yet, I'll find out when I get it home later this week. It needs a new top and some minor bits and pieces (left taillight is broken, some interior work, etc).

All 2CVs came with an air-cooled 2-cylinder. This is a 2CV4 so it has the 435cc as opposed to the 602cc found in the 2CV6. And, like all 2CVs, it has a 4-speed manual with the dash-mounted shifter.
More on this car as soon as I get it home.

January 22, 2008

Citroen HY.

Found this Citroen HY sitting in a field between Toulon and Le Revest in the Var department. Not much of it left and unfortunately, that's how a lot of H vans (and Renault Estafette vans) end their lives.
Bit of an interesting side note, this one was probably used by an Alfa Romeo dealer. Look closely in it and there's an Alfa emblem painted on the side of it.

January 10, 2008

"Behind the Curtain"

Off and on for the last 5 years I've worked for a local foreign car mechanic in Erie, PA named Wolfgang. As his name would suggest, he really is a stereotypical German mechanic. He's a notorious pack rat and has been collecting cars, car parts, and parts cars for the last 30 years. In his shop, he has an area he refers to as "behind the curtain" (though to be correct, one has to say 'behind ze curtain') This is where he keeps most of the 'good' junk. It's really just a big room sepparated from the main work area thats filled with Mercedes, VW, Audi, Volvo and Jaguar parts among other things. Wolfgang's entire shop could take up many posts in this blog, so at this point, I'm only going to show these pictures of some of the non-running cars stored in there:

The Audi 5000 Quattro Turbo that's burried under these boxes, is actually pretty clean aside from its thick layer of dust. The story goes on this car that it had a major front suspension issue (hence the missing wheel) and the customer opted to give Wolfgang the car rather than pay for the costs. Last registered in 1995. This car could be cleaned up, repaired and be rather nice, unfortunately late 80's Audi sedans haven't made much of an impact on the collector car market and it's probably not worth the effort.

This 1971 Opel Kadett Combi was last registered for road use in 1992. Since then, it's been a semi-permanent fixture in the back room. It cargo space is filled with parts for other cars. It may seem to be in a rather sorry state - and essentially it is, but it really wouldn't take much to get it running and driving again. The body appears to be pretty solid and, to quote the name of this site, it ran when parked.

Also of note is this early 70s Mercedes Benz 280 SE. It's in need of some body work, but the rest of it appears to be pretty decent. It sports a red MB-Tex interior, and is powered by the 6 cylinder engine. This could definately be a worthy canditate for a modest restoration. Im not aware at the moment how this Benz came to rest in the back room. As you can see, it's currently primarily a storage box and table.

January 8, 2008

I dream of Fintails

I visited a Dallas junkyard over the weekend and found myself pleasantly surprised by the selection of obscure European cars. Expect more and more photos of the cars as this blog progresses.

Rarely do you see any Mercedes-Benz older than a W123 240D or 300D (with the occasional 280E or European 230E), but this yard was full of Fintails, the decadent, American-themed Mercedes-Benz sedans that represented family travel for the marque through the 1960s.

First up is the picturesque Mercedes-Benz W110 220S. The 220S was not a high end model, though it was powered by a 2.2 liter inline 6. This particular car looks to have been the subject of a restoration attempt at some point in its life, but obviously the valiant effort wasn't enough to keep it out of a junkyard.

Next up is a W110 200D. This was the lower end Fintail sedan, distinguished by its dual round headlamps, rather than the vertical headlamps of the six cylinder W111 and luxurious W112. I don't claim to be anything resembling an expert on Fintails, so I'll ask you, the readership... why does this badge say "200 Diesel" rather than 200D?

And, finally, we have another W110, a rusty, battered 190D nestled in between a rare W114 250 C coupe and a W115 240D.

More vehicles from this fantastic yard to come!

Panhard PL17.

There's a Renault Juvaquatre in a field not too far from here with a sign on it that reads "OLD CARS AVAILABLE" with a phone number. I called the number and the guy told me some of he cars he had available. One of them was a Citroen Dyane. Could be interesting for 500 Euros so I went to look at it.

One look at the Acadiane and I wasn't interested. First of all, it's not a Dyane but an Acadiane, the "truckette" version of the Dyane. The body is full of poorly covered rust and a lot of parts are missing.

What caught my eye was a Panhard PL17 behind the Dyane. For those who don't know, Panhard was a French car company that made cars until the late 1960s. They were taken over by Citroen and died shortly after. They're the guys who invented the Panhard rod in your car (if it has one). Panhards are far from common, even in France.

PL17s have an air cooled 2-cylinder (very similar mechanically to the Citroen 2CV) so it's a bit of an interesting engine to work on. This particular one apparently ran recently but is out of gas right now. The owner claims it runs fine, I want to find out for myself. It's well worn but 98% complete. The floodboards are rusty and would eventually need to be replaced but that's the worst rust on it.

Stay tuned, if I can get it started I'll likely buy it.