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Diego’s AutoHunter Picks

Just shut up and drive


Some week’s AutoHunter Picks are easier than others — it all depends on what’s listed at the moment. This week was a snap, as there were many cars that I felt were worth telling you about for one reason or another. All of them do have appeal for those who prefer driving over sittin’ pretty, but that wasn’t the impetus of the selection. Considering they all were built to go from Point A to Point B, it does stand to reason.

I gravitate to each one for different reasons, but certainly one stands out as the car that suits your personality best. Which is it?

1969 Plymouth Road Runner
The Road Runner was introduced in 1968 as a cheap performance car after several years being inundated with the likes of the GTO and others being based on premium trim levels. The car was a success beyond Plymouth’s imagination, so why a convertible, the antithesis of the Road Runner’s credo? I’ll guess the bean counters wanted it, but only 2,128 were built — a small percentage of production.

This 1969 Road Runner convertible features the standard four-speed transmission, which puts this ragtop on the rarer side of ‘Runners. Then there’s the “N96” Coyote Duster/Air Grabber induction system, which is another feather in its cap. The interior color has been changed and the “V21” stripes added, which is no problem because this car looks like one you can hop in, drive, and enjoy, which is the best kind of ragtop.

1967 Plymouth Barracuda Formula S Fastback
The pony car market was a tough arena in 1967: the Mustang was redesigned, the new Cougar joined it, and the Camaro and Firebird cousins were introduced. Add the Barracuda to the list of redesigns and, like all the competitors, a big-block was available. However, the 383 was such a tight squeeze that the 325-horsepower engine was emasculated to 280 horsepower. Power steering wasn’t even available.

This 1967 Barracuda Formula S fastback is one of the rare Plymouths available with the 383, plus this one has a four-speed. The Dark Copper metallic would look fabulous with the original copper interior, but big-block cars don’t exactly grow on trees so why be so picky? This car has all the looks, rarity, and style of any car available in ’67, plus it looks ready to drive the Cragars off it — why not?

1964 Mercury Monterey “Breezeway” Sedan
Mercury introduced the Breezeway roofline in 1963 on all its coupes and sedans. The big selling point was that the backlite retracted, a gimmick introduced on the 1957 Turnpike Cruiser. Mid-year 1964, the Breezeway was joined by the Marauder roofline, which was the semi-fastback “NASCAR” roofline. From 1965-68, Breezeways continued to be available for four-door sedans, though with a conventional roofline starting in 1967.

This Breezeway is a 1964 Monterey, which was cheaper than the Montclair and Park Lane. The data plate shows it to be painted Peacock Blue originally but, in the ensuing years, someone has added contrasting white paint to the roof and rear, which is attractive enough to wonder why Mercury didn’t do that from the factory. A 390 two-barrel and automatic means you have torque, economy(?), and comfort all rolled in one.

1992 Porsche 968
Porsche sure milked the 924 nicely! From 1976 through 1995, the same basic car played the role of Porsche’s entry-level model. For the 1992 model year, a heavily reengineered version christened 968 helped carry the series through 1995. Included was a huge 3.0-liter inline-four plus styling tweaks influenced by the 928. Impressive for its time, the 240-horsepower 968 reached 60 in 6.5 seconds.

This 1992 968 is one of 1,440 produced for the American/Canadian market. It has been modified for competition driving but remains street-legal. The big four has been rebuilt and reinforced with Pauter forged connecting rods, Wossner pistons, and other heavy-duty bits. Transmission is a six-speed transaxle, which would feel contemporary today. I see a lot of fun in the horizon with this one.

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.


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