Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Top 10 Collector Cars In B.C.

Spring is officially here and B.C. collector-plated vehicles are yawning and waking from their winter storage locations. Dust covers will come off, fluids will be checked and replenished, and some air will be added to sagging tyres in preparation for that first spin of the collector car season.

British Columbia has to be one of the best places in Canada to own and enjoy a collector vehicle, be it a two-wheel or four-wheel vehicle. And with the Vancouver International Auto Show just around the corner, here are the top 10 collector cars in B.C., according to active insurance policies with ICBC:

  • Ford Mustang: The Mustang galloped out of the stable into history. Before the first year of production had ended, more than 126,000 had sold. The concept of an inexpensive sports car was the brainchild of a young and energetic vice president, Lee Iacocca. The Mustang coupé and convertible had such an extensive option list; there was a model for everyone – mothers, husbands, daughters, sons, even some young-at-heart grandparents. It has experienced an uninterrupted production run of 45 years.
  • Chevrolet Corvette: Returning GI’s were importing Jaguars, MGs and Alfa Romeos when they returned from WWII. Harley Earl convinced the board at General Motors that it was time to build a two-seat sports car. That sports car was the Corvette; today it is known as America ’s native sports car. The first Corvettes off the production line were all painted white and fitted with a red interior, this was done to keep the cost down to $3,000. The Corvette came alive when a Soviet émigré, Zora Arkus-Duntov, took a 283-cid V-8 engine and a four-speed transmission and dropped it into the Corvette, making it a serious competitor to the Ford Thunderbird.
  • Camaro/Firebird: General Motors motivation for building the Camaro and Firebird was, without question, to compete with the Ford Mustang. The Camaro which was code-named Panther came first, reaching showrooms in September of 1966, soon followed by the Firebird. Other than the obvious external design differences, the Firebird used a Pontiac specific engine. The Pontiac name is scheduled to be dropped, which will place it in the history books. The last Firebird was built in 2003. The Camaro was discontinued in 2002, but will be reintroduced for 2010 model year.
  • Mercedes-Benz: The unmistakable three-pointed star logo dates back to 1910 when the company was know as Daimler-Benz. The star symbolizes Daimler’s ambition of universal motorization – “On land, on water and in the air”. The 300SL Gullwing is the most sought-after model, with less than 1,400 Coupés and 1,838 roadsters built between 1954 and 1963. The 190 SL was the replacement model sports car – it looked like a smaller version of the 300SL. The most popular models recognized today would be the 230, 250 and 280SL “Pagoda” cars built between 1963 and 1971. They were referred to as the pagoda cars because of the concave shape of their removable hard top roof.
  • MG: Or should that be M.G.? Early advertising literature in England called these automobiles “M.G.” In North America they were simply MG. The MG Midget TC, even though looking rather dated, was very popular with GIs returning from Europe – the early cars that they imported were all right-hand drive. The MGA was the first modern MG sports car to invade North America, followed by the MGB which was the largest single model sports car to ever come out of the U.K., totalling 512,000 units. The new Chinese owners of the company have stated that they want their consumers to know this brand as something new – “Modern Gentleman,” representing grace and style.
  • Triumph: The Triumph TR2 was a brave attempt at building a sports car specifically for the North American market by a company that was almost unknown in North America, with no proven track record. The TR tale played out like a fairy story with a full range of TR models, from the TR2 up to the TR8. Many consider the TR6 as the last of the man’s man sports cars to come out of the UK. They were reminiscent of the Austin-Healy 3000, a bit of a handful to drive with a magnificent throaty exhaust note from the straight six-cylinder engine. The TR7 & TR8 that followed did not have such a loyal following.
  • Cadillac: The first Cadillac to bear the Eldorado name was in 1953 – it was considered the ultimate luxury car in America, costing five times as much as a Chevrolet with a price tag exceeding $7,000. The 1959 Cadillac sums up America in the ‘50s. It was more than a car, it was a styling icon built during an era when America was obsessed with rockets and space travel. By the mid ‘60s, finless rear wings appeared on longer and lower Cadillac’s. In 1967 Cadillac broke away from the traditional rear wheel-drive model and launched the front wheel-drive Eldorado Coupé. The Cadillac models built for 30 years after WWII were considered the standard of North American luxury.
  • Jaguar: Jaguar cars have a long history of elegance and sporting performance, synonymous with the British upper class. Jaguar incorporated a company in New York in 1954 and began exporting cars to North America. The popularity of the XK120 to the XK150 sports car range spilled over into the ‘60s. Jaguar benefited from the popularity of all things British, which was often referred to as the “British Invasion”. The E-Type, or XKE as it was known in North America, leaped as a Jaguar would onto the sports car stage in 1961. By the time production ceased in 1974, the E-Type had become one of the most important sports cars of the 20 th century.
  • Tri-Five Chevrolets: The Tri-Five Chevrolets 1955, ‘56 & ‘57 represent a turning point in American automobile history – what many believe to be the golden age of Chevrolet and its assault on a new, growing youth market. With Chevrolets’ new 265-cid V-8 engine (soon to be the legendary small-block V-8) Chevrolets were no longer considered an old mans car. In 1957, Chevrolet bored the engine out to 283-cid and also offered Ramjet-Fuel-Injection. The body style and size changed dramatically in 1958, leaving the younger generation to scour used car lots for the popular ’55 to ’57 power-packed cars.
  • A Multitude of Hot Rods: The original Hot Rod was an older car, typically a Model T, Model A, and the ultimate flat-head V-8 Model B. These cars were modified to reduce the weight and improve aerodynamics. During the 1950s, the term Hot Rod was sometimes used in a derogatory context, blanketing any car that did not fit into the mainstream. The lure of the Hot Rod began to wane as the major manufacturers offered cars from the muscle car era. The 1973 oil crisis also had an impact on the automobile. The performance car was out, replaced with safety and fuel efficiency. All of a sudden, the Hot Rod was back in vogue

Editor’s note: High resolution images of each of these vehicles can be downloaded (7.2MB self-extracting zip file) at icbc.com.


1 comment:

  1. The E Types will always be the nicest looking classics to me. Check this one out! Jaguar E -Type


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