Participation Trophy

Following last week’s punctured dream, I got to thinking about finding a replacement dream car, and in so doing came up with another one of Kim’s Stupid Suppose games.  Here it is:

Rich old Uncle Elmer always liked you, and when the old boy croaked, he left you a provision in his will that said you could buy any two cars (or trucks) in the world, provided that one was made before 1970, and the other after that date.  There would be sufficient funds set aside for repairs and parts, in perpetuity.

Which would be your pre-1970 car, and which would be your modern choice?  Answers as always in Comments.  You can provide a rationale for your selections, or not.

To kick the thing off, I’ll give my pre-1970 choice, which is a slam-dunk:  the W186-body (1951-1958) Mercedes 300S (two-door version) — my only indecision being whether to get the soft-top roadster

…or the hard-top coupé:

It was engineered to drive for at least 12 hours at a constant 100mph without breaking down, and from what I can gather, the 300S and its 3-liter 6-cylinder engine did just that, all the time.

That’s my “old car” choice.

I’m still reeling from the disappointment of losing my modern  dream car, so it may take me a while to find a replacement — just as it did when I was forced to replace Nigella Lawson as my stalking obsession Dream Girl.  So watch this space…

But in the meantime, get into Comments and give me some ideas.


  1. What a fun exercise as I have my first cup of coffee and play with the dog. These vehicles have always been on my “should the Powerball gods ever smile on me” list so I’ll just transfer the thanks over to Uncle Elmer. I did have an Uncle Leo and Uncle Forrest so maybe there’s another unusual name out there in the woods.

    Pre 1970 – that one is easy. A 1961 XKE Jag convertible in British racing green with a tan interior. The most voluptuous car ever built. The “old model” Nigella Lawson of cars. I’ll take a semi load of spare parts and a live in mechanic to keep it running.

    Post 70 choice is a little harder but since trucks are in the game let’s go for a late (post 2000) civilian model Unimog. I’d want the 4 wheel short wheelbase version with all of the creature comforts. I know that a number of these types were built for oil sheiks who had lots more money than good sense. Let’s paint it panzer grey or desert tan. We’ll park the trailer full of spares next to the Jag parts although I think that it won’t be opened as often.

    If there’s a couple of bucks left in the pot, I’ll buy a nice flatbed trailer so that I can use the Mog to tow the Jag home.

  2. Pondered for a while, but very quickly came to the conclusion that if Uncle Elmer’s bequest was going to fund all the care and maintenance, then I want a Jaguar E-Type in the garage.

    Temperamental, uncomfortable, quirky handling and power delivery, but so what, the E-Type is the most beautiful car ever made. Gimme, gimme.

    For post 70’s there is a serious paucity of desirable or lustworthy cars, so go for comfort, reliability, power and road presence and the best pick is a boring but super efficient Toyota Landcruiser SUV.

    *runs for cover*

  3. All these furrin cars? Not me.

    1968 Dodge Charger with a 426 Hemi. I’m assuming Uncle left some gas money too. Since nothing specified keeping it stock, I’m upgrading to disk brakes, better suspension, tires, etc to improve everyday driveability. Modern a/c too since I live in South Texas.

    For the second choice, as much as I’d love a brand new truck, I also want to avoid all the GPS tracking crap. So let’s look at a late 80’s Dodge 3/4 ton extended cab truck. 4×4, Cummins turbo diesel, top trim package.

    And then a whole garage full of motorcycles bought on my own dime.

  4. Kim; Good choice with the Benz. A few corrections however. The car was powered by a 3 liter inline 6 cylinder SOHC engine, originally with carburettors and later with the MB mechanical fuel injection system that was in the block of the engine. Just like the engine in the 300 SL but not laid over for hood clearance. They were magnificently engineered and built. At the time, probably the finest motorcars ever produced.

    1. Mercedes has gone back to the in-line 6 cyl. Engine in the M156 engine which features an ISG, integrated starter generator, between the engine and transmission. There are no accessories hanging off the front of the engine. It has electric water pump, A/C compressor, power steering, etc. In AMG trim the 3.0 liter power plant sports a humongous hot turbo and on the other side of the engine an electric supercharger which spools up in a fraction of a second. The ISG is also a motor providing 21 hp and 160 ft-lbs of torque. This version is rated at a total of 419 hp.

  5. Pre-’70: a ’63 Rambler American 220. My Old Man had one, and I inherited it when he died. Great car. Very roomy inside. Lots of memories of that old thing.

    Post-’70: a ’74 VW Bus w/ pop-up camper top. I had one until ~10 years ago when it died. Drove all over the US in that thing and saved a ton of money on motel bills.

    1. Ah, yes. Ramblers with their fold-down front seat backs. Show up for a date in one of those, and you were guaranteed a “Looka here boy” from her dad.

    2. ’63 Rambler Classic 770…my first car. Taught me a LOT about wrenching, especially replacing head gaskets…which this thing needed quite a lot. Fortunately the trunk was large enough that I could keep a Kennedy Machinist Chest on one side (tied down), and spare parts and fluids on the other, and still have the majority of the trunk available for dead bodies or whatever.

      A lot of fun, though

      1. Following crazyeighter’s comment with Flight-ER-Doc about the Old Ramblers I read Doc’s first sentences as wenching not wrenching the first time through.

  6. For the pre-1970, there are just too many to choose from – Studebaker Loewy coupe, Duesenberg SJ dual-cowl phaeton, Jaguar XKE, and on and on. I’d probably end up choosing a car from my own family history – a 1960 Mercedes 300D Automatic (the “Adenauer”), like the one my father owned. It got wrecked before I got a chance to drive it, unfortunately. Post 1970, there’s not a lot that really grabs me. A Mercedes SL sports coupe, maybe, or an International Travelall, but I think I could have more fun with a 1974 Volkswagen Thing.

    1. For a while I had a major car project going but had to abandon it because of finances. The base car was a1953 Studebaker post coupe. The donor was a 2007 Cadillac CTS-V with a six-speed stick. We were in the process of making a modern interpretation of the Studillac, an actual aftermarket car with a Caddie V8 and some brake and suspension work. If you can’t afford James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5, you can have Felix Leiter’s Studillac.

  7. Ahhh, to go retro and return to my youth. It would be fun to bring back my ’69 BMW 2002 with all my mods. I added stock side marker lights and some trim so it looked more like a ’71/’72. Also a Weber carb, headers, 320i rims and rubber, and new coil springs and shocks. I lived in California then and there were many roads that were fun to drive. Alas, here in the flat lands of Texas, not so much.

    For modern day, I would be happy with a restoration of my 2001 Silverado to factory new, maybe with the addition of dual exhaust.

    1. I had a 1972 2002 in Malaga. The original 2-bbl Solex was a POS and when the throttle shaft started to leak, I replaced it with a Holly-Weber 28/36. A Weber design built by Holly and used on Pintos. Got it for $66 at NAPA. Bought new in’72 when I returned from overseas and sold in 1985 to a young engineer who had it professionally restored with much engine work such as dual Weber sidedraft carbs. Unfortunately someone cut in front of him entering a shopping mall and it was totaled. He got $8k and kept the hulk.

  8. Nice early Mercedes choice, but for I would prefer a 1930 Supercharged SSK, Specifically this one from the Ralph Loren Collection.

    As for post 1970 , I going for a nice Hybrid powered car. I want be able to claim i’m envro friendly. I’d chose a nice Hybrid Porsche. – 80 mile electric only range. 200+ MPH , 900 combined HP – the 918

  9. For the main request my pre-70 car would be an Eagle E-Type speedster built on a pre-70 E-Type donor. Stick, of course with either the V12 or a Jaguar V8. I hope that is legal within the rules. My post-70 car would be a Mercedes E500 built on a W124 platform. The one that went back and forth between Mercedes and Porsche there in Stuggart. Said to be the first sedan built by Porsche. 1994 or 1995 was the last year. I’d have it converted to stick with a Tremec six-speed.
    I still have my one-owner 1986 300E with stick outside. The ODO broke at 297k miles and change 15 years ago. It is in the original desert tan paint. Since we are WASPs and name everting, we call it the Rommelvagon.

  10. My pre-1970 pick would be a BMW 507 roadster.

    Gullwing and V12 E-Type would be close behind. Yes, I know the E-Type isn’t the generally preferred version, but I love the sound of the V-12.

    1. One of my buddies had a V12 E-Type, and claimed you could actually watch the gas gauge needle move down when you accelerated to overtake another car.

  11. MPW Bentley Continental, basically a 2 door Silver Shadow (scoffs at people worrying about E type fuel consumption) and a 1989 Porsche 930, last year of the classic 80s 911 with turbo and Gertrag G50 five speed.

  12. Kim, take the cabriolet over the hard-top – it’s got the bling you deserve; and no valet will ever park it in the back.
    As for me, I had the opportunity once to work on and drive an Early 50’s Silver Wraith, Mulliner Sedanca de Ville, RHD, owned by a client who “rented” it out for weddings. An impressive vehicle with a steamer-chest rack on the inside of the boot cover that held the chest perfectly level while securely belted down – leaving the boot clear for incidentals.
    Or, also pre-70’s, his DB-5 convertible with Vantage engine, that he forced on me for a trip up the coast and back over a week-end. The things we’ll do to satisfy a client.
    But, Post-70: A Ferrari F-40!

  13. Having once been a car dealer I really don’t have any over fondness for anything. But If I had my choice I would like one of the 62 corvettes they are putting on a 2016 corvette chassis. As for newer I might want a pristine 2010 or so Colorado crew cab 4×4 with the g80 differential and the 305 V8. Since there is not a diesel option.

    If reliable was the option ether a mid 90’s accord or Camry would out last anything else on the road.

  14. I note Uncle Elmer hasn’t left funds to cover insurance, nor storage…

    Pre 1970? If I’m to have a hangar queen I’ll go for an interesting one: a 1907 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost. If that’s not possible I’ll have an Aston Martin DB5, with all the James Bond fittings.

    Post 1970? BMW i8. It’s a lovely car, goes like stink, and is affordable to insure.

    1. Q, insurance is part of “maintenance”.
      As for storage… why would you want to store the car, instead of driving it?

      1. I’d want somewhere to store my vehicles to protect them from the elements – I don’t have a garage – like rain and skurries, and from thieving scrotes and vandals.

        Now, with your clarification on insurance, I’ll go for a new Aston Martin DB11. Assuming I can fit in one. Otherwise it’s the 2019 BMW i8.

  15. For me, the 1967 4.2 Jaguar E-Type. Convertible please, for the fall afternoon blast down our New Hampshire roads.
    I must disagree about your Mercedes choice, not my cup of tea at all. Though I think when they were imported here you could buy one at a Rambler dealership. This may be a vague recollection that is wrong, but maybe someone can find out.
    For a post 1970 choice, I would like to try a new C8 Corvette, though I have yet to see or drive one as yet. My friend has one coming, and that could change everything.

  16. I notice that just about everybody, including myself, wants an E-Jag. Convertible.

    Modern: Hmm….There’s part of me that says Porsche 911 cabriolet. It’s the gold standard of sports cars these days. But the Aston Martin DB11 is tempting.

  17. The XKE Jags were really neat driving cars between breakdowns, I had a 4.2 Ltr. 1969 and it was a smooth riding car and lots of fun. Having said that, the XK140 Roadster with side curtains would be my choice, I got to drive one a few times and it was much more real sports car feeling than the more civilized E type.

    As for the 1950’s Mercedes my uncle had a 190SL he got in the 1950’s kept it in great shape until he passed away about 40 years ago, his son, my cousin has it stored in a garage in Virginia and it need complete restoration on all the old rubber parts but it would make nice ride. A friend of mine had a frame up restoration done in the 1970’s on a 1955 Mercedes convertible which was a nice car to drive however, to me Mercedes never had that sports car feel like the Brit cars my friend kept that 1950’s car until last summer when he realized it was starting to need a whole lot of restoration just due to age and it still was a great looking strong running car and that was a good time to pass it along.

    Old cars had some style and character that has certainly been missing for a number of years and I am glad I was a kid born during WWII, growing up in the 1950’s and 60’s when the music was good, the girls were beautiful and the cars made a lot of noise when you moved up through the gears.

  18. Sold in 1982, my 1953 Austin Healy 100-4 is missed daily.
    400hp in 1,800#.
    After we swapped in the Chevy V-8 and added enormous fenders mimicking the original contours to house the yuge gumballs, I no longer needed to abuse the four-banger to keep up with traffic.
    Nope, not at all.

    And uncle would be happy to see me commanding a BlissMobil ExpeditionVehicle.

  19. ’67 Fairlane – 2 door – 289 – 2 barrel – 3 on the tree – candy apple red – clean, no chrome. Reasonably nimble and quick. Just for the memories.

    Late model 3/4 or 1 ton turbo diesel P.U. – Ford or Dodge, I’m not particular.

  20. I would take a different tack, Pre 1970: a 1969 MGB Roadster with knockoff wheels (I had 5 of these and not one of them ever broke down) and Post 1970: a 1971 Double Rear Wheel Ford Transit Van, they drove like a car and you could carry a heap of crap in them (even live in them if it came to it) what I would be after would be practical reliability interspersed with fun. I think someone’s going to shoot me down…..

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