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May 16, 2008

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Brian Williams

I don't want you to sell the Hornet, for sure, at least not until you enter it into Targa Newfoundland, and not the Grand Touring class either!
Imagine, a roll cage, fire extinguisher, radios and equipment, and all the necessary stuff for Targa, plus all those sponsor stickers - man, it would turn more heads than the MINI which you must be getting tired of...

Brian Williams
Gander NL
Deputy Stage Commander, Timing Control Team D

Hi Brian:

Sorry, no roll cage is ever going to be installed in that car!

But I did fire it up for the first time this year the other day, and it started first time.

What a great car...

Speaking of great cars, we will be back with the red MINI - see you in September!

Jim

Peter

Good for you Jim. American cars are the best value per lb or kilo that one can find in North America.

I have lived in Germany (3 years), New Zealand, and just driven 8500 kms in Australia (Apr 18 - May 15 2008). I own a 2000 Intrigue, 1990 Miata (#3) - it's a long story but centers around a titanium hip replacement from osteoarthritis, and a 2006 Suzuki DL650. If you enjoy driving it and believe the Urban Myth why not.

I agree with most of your comments on TVs Motoring

Keep up the good work,

I enjoy reading while I'm spending my pensions on cheap fossil fuels and the associated interests!

Hi Peter:

That titanium hip wouldn't be related to that Suzuki, would it?

Thanks for the kind words. Don't know what I have to do to get you to enjoy ALL my Motoring comments! I guess I'll settle for "most".

I think the time when we could refer to "American" cars - or cars from any particular country actually - is pretty much over. Even if the brand is "national" it's no guarantee. Chevrolets built in Mexico and Korea, Hondas built in Ohio and Ontario, Toyotas built in Kentucky and Texas - all with components that come from everywhere.

The sooner we get over whatever national prejudices we may have one way or another and just enjoy cars for their inherent goodness, the better we'll all be! I do think that what you're getting at is that "domestic" cars now are better than most people give them credit for, and I would agree.

Cheers,

Jim

David

Jim:

First, congrats on the blog! I always love reading your columns, and you've been downright friendly the two times I've chatted with you at the Auto Show, so I'm looking forward to a daily fix o' Kenzie!

My Mom still swears that her favourite car in over 50 years of driving was the Hornet Sportabout wagon we had when I was a kid. A wonderful beige beast with a 4-on-the-tree manual transmission and a cargo area that could hold me and my 2 sisters for rides at the cottage. I think she would still be driving it today had she not been rear-ended on Yonge St. by an idiot who thought 110 was a great speed for Yonge and Sheppard. The car was a write-off, but Mom still wishes she had it back.

Yours is a beaut - let's hope there's many more years left in 'er!

Hi David:

FOUR on the tree? Maybe four on the floor, although I don't know that any Hornet ever had more than a three-speed manual transmission (but I KNOW I'm gonna hear about it if they did!)

If so, I don't think there was ever a steering column manual that was more than three speeds - in a Hornet, anyway.

That reminds me of a story, which I'll post soon as a separate item.

The Sportabout wagon was indeed a wonderful car, and still looks good today. Richard Teague, who came to American Motors from Packard if memory serves, did a wonderful job on that entire family of cars. Every year the management would say, "Richard, we need an entirely new look. You have a budget of twenty-five dollars. Go nuts!"

The guy was a genius.

People laugh when I say things like this, but look at even the base Hornet sedan, and remember it was launched in 1968, give or take. Long, low hood. Thick C-pillar. High but short-in-length rear deck. And mostly, those fabulously flared fender wells. Sure, they usually stuck skinny tires in them, which didn't enhance the looks, but that was a very advanced car for its time, especially when you consider some of the dreck that came from other car makers in that era.

And when they stuffed the full-time four-wheel drive system underneath to create the Eagle, they truly invented what Subaru now calls the "sport-utility sedan/wagon" - and, in effect, the world's first cross-over, twenty-five years ahead of its time.

AMC never really had a chance to survive financially, even with Jeep, but they sure built cars with character.

Thanks for your reminiscences, and say hello to your Mom for me.

Cheers,

Jim

John May

Whoa, what a surprise to see the beautiful Hornet. I just purchased a 1971 Hornet Sportabout with a few spots of rust but for a Quebec driven vehicle, it's in very good condition. I was told the owner was a 72 year old women and I also hope this story is true.

By the way, I've always appreciated your work.

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