Happy New Year!

Well folks, after a few months of pretty terrible blogging, I’ve managed to retain at least a handful of readers (that’s right, you’re not alone!). On my resolution list is a dedication towards updating CYSB with as-yet unseen regularity, and although only 15% of people actually keep their resolutions, I intend to do substantially better in the new year. Then again, this is coming from the same guy that’s been rebuilding his own truck for over two years, so I’ll forgive you if you take it with a grain of salt! I sincerely hope that 2012 sees improvements for one and all, and I wish you all the best of luck in the coming 365 days in every facet of your life. May Vancouver find a bit more respect, a bit more humility, and a solution to the god-damned traffic jams.

1969 ChevyVan – $3900

“Strong running 350, automatic with shift kit, 12-bolt Posi, Dual Flowmaster’s, Alpine stereo. 604-351-5234. Ask for Tony.”

In the sixties, there was a very strange movement out of station wagons and sedans, and into vans. At one point, they even earned themselves the cover of Hot Rod Magazine. Although that particular point in time has become the low water mark for that magazine, vans are on the cusp of becoming just that cool again. With styling that looks equal parts Pan Am and Mad Men, a pretty good helping of practicality, and somehow lacking the environmentally unfriendly attitude of their contemporaries, they’re going to catch on like a cold as soon as the hipster crowd realizes they exist. And when it comes to classic, hip vans, it doesn’t get much better than this: a 1969 ChevyVan. Yes, that’s right, it’s actually called a ChevyVan. The last year of the second generation ChevyVan (it never gets old, does it?), it marks the last time a ChevyVan (no, it doesn’t!) would look more at home on a beach than in Chester Molester’s driveway. Available in a myriad of configurations that really haven’t changed between 1969 and the current Chevy Express van, you could order your van in one of two different wheelbases; either the surprisingly short 90″ or then-new 108″ wheelbase. Furthermore, buyers could choose from either the basic cargo-oriented ChevyVan, or the passenger-prepared Sportvan Custom, or even the luxurious Sportvan Deluxe. While ChevyVans made do with the basic slab-sided panelling and spartan interiors, the Sportvans got an additional pair of barn doors on the passenger side, chrome bumpers, a tons of windows, more seats, and two tone paint.

That, of course, makes the Sportvans a wee bit more desirable than this basic ChevyVan. But one shouldn’t discount the ridiculous practicality of a proper van-sized van, and in that regard, this ChevyVan could prove incredibly useful to anyone looking to haul things around occasionally. Equipped with the range-topping 350 small block V8 and TH350 three-speed automatic, it’s certainly capable of fulfilling the role of workhorse without breaking a sweat, and would have had a respectable 255 horsepower when new. Paired with a 12 bolt Posi-Traction rear end, one would expect the drivetrain to be totally reliable, but as with most vans, the drivetrain isn’t exactly the biggest concern. No, with all that sheetmetal, rust has always been the van’s arch-nemesis. With ChevyVans specifically, you typically want to ensure that the floors, corners, and rocker panels are sound before buying, so it might be a good idea to either bring a magnet or someone that knows how to tap on steel. But, if sound, there’s really nothing stopping this unique little vehicle from surviving another 43 years. With a strong enthusiasts community (they even have their own magazines now, so they don’t need to steal Hot Rod!), classic vans are even getting some aftermarket restoration parts support from the larger suppliers, so ownership shouldn’t be a chore. And wouldn’t it look so cool with your single speed commuter bike and second hand guitar in the back? Click on the blue text to follow through to the Craigslist ad.

1960 Vauxhall Victor Super – $1730

“1960 Vauxhall Victor real classic car, this car runs, and every thing works, all original paint, motor. Easy classic plates; cheap to drive and insure. Fun cool ride, this car has been in dry storage 25 yrs. Beautiful in side, get in the classic car game cheap no overseas b/s or pay pay. 778 889 9135 same owner for many years well looked after, no hurry to sell need nothing drive home”

In 1957, Vauxhall decided that they needed a new large family sedan to replace the aging (but awesomely named) Wyvern. Looking towards their American cousins for inspiration, this was the result: the Vauxhall Victor. Before it’s reinvention in 1961, it would become Britian’s most exported car, earning accolades for its classy 1957 Chevy Bel Air-inspired styling and reputation for robustness. However, there were some key differences that set the Victor and the Bel Air apart, and a huge one was under the hood where drivers would find, instead of a sexy small block V8, a familiar 1.5 litre four cylinder producing 55 horsepower. Borrowed from the Wyvern, General Motors’ engineers outfitted the engine with a higher compression ratio (7.8:1 as opposed to the Wyvern’s 6.8:1), which subsequently required the car run Premium fuel. However, with recorded fuel economy in the 31 mpg realm, it wasn’t exactly an expensive car to run, regardless of what you put in the tank.

Of course, there probably isn’t much in this particular Victor’s tank. Having been in dry storage for 25 years, it looks to be in excellent shape for its age, and although the mechanical components should probably be sorted before driving it any great distance, one cannot stress the value of a complete car quite enough. Although it was a popular export, it isn’t exactly a common car here in North America, and seeing as this is the Super model (which simply denoted extra trim), I imagine that trying to find any of the body cladding, badges, or interior pieces could prove nigh impossible… so it’s a good thing this car has them all! Furthermore, having the original paint is a real boon, as it appears as if it could use little more than a quick scrub with a buffing wheel. Sure, it’ll probably bear a few scuffs and scratches, but don’t we all? In any case, at just $1,730 it’s an absolute steal.

1969 Triumph GT6+ – $4500

“Selling my 1969 Triumph GT6+, pretty much stock, very minor mods like twin K&N air filters, stainless exhaust, all electrical works, even the wipers! Newer tires, older paint and body work a few dings and scratches. Interior could use a makeover but it’s a get in and drive, turn key car. Open to offers. I drove this car a few times a week to work and back (64 km round trip) during the summer. The car is lowered. BEST OFFER! Also comes with 1990 miata seats. This is not a show car, it’s not “mint” or perfect!”

reinvigorated by love affair with British cars… but after the abortive post about yesterday’s Land Rover 101 Forward Control, I thought I should follow up with something a bit more in keeping with the blog’s title. So I present to you, dear reader, one of the most underappreciated classic cars on the market today: the 1976 Triumph GT6+. Based upon the better known Spitfire model, the GT6+ grew out of Triumph’s desire to bring their freshly designed (by an Italian, no less) Spitfire roadster to bear upon the coupe market that was, at the time, dominated by the wildly successful MGBGT sports coupe. However smart that idea may have been in a country world renowned for its dampness, initial attempts were complete and utter failures: the little four cylinder found within the Spitfire’s engine bay simply couldn’t cope with the heavier fastback body. But, after fibreglass bodied versions of what was called the Spitfire GT4 won their class at Le Mans, Triumph decided to pursue the matter further, and subsequently installed a 2.0L inline six in place of the four pot to rectify the car’s dismal performance. After dropping the Spitfire prefix and changing the 4 for a 6, the Triumph GT6 was born. A couple years later, the much-maligned swing-axle rear suspension was reengineered to better cope with the increased output of the six cylinder (it had been designed for the four cylinder Spitfire) and reduce the car’s propensity for lifting-throttle oversteer, which gave rise to the GT6+.

And it’s precisely that revised rear suspension that makes GT6+’s like this the ones to look for. Although a little bit less classically styled than the Mark 1 GT6, these Mark 2’s are a damn sight better than the massive bumperette-equipped Mark 3’s, and drive very well indeed. As one would expect of a Spitfire-based coupe, interior space isn’t the car’s forte and rear seats were quite literally optional, but the flowing lines and fastback styling are equal parts British class and race car. From the big clamshell, reverse-hinged hood with its straight-from-pit-lane side clasp closures to the equally racy Le Mans-style filler cap, the GT6 and GT6+both owe a lot of their styling to that aerodynamically designed Le Mans winning body, and look all the more awesome for it. Sadly, you don’t see many of these excellent little cars around as rust, time, club racers and weekend warriors have claimed too many of them. But, that doesn’t mean they’re overly hard to own: with a solid roof and a pretty robust drivetrain, they don’t possess many of the same pitfalls that many old convertibles befall here in the pacific northwest, and their British lineage ensures a vast array of restoration and maintenance parts remain available from a myriad of sources. Overall it’s an excellent car to buy, and buy now, as their low numbers and sleek good looks are sure to galvanize the market towards appreciation at any moment. And with a price of just $4500, this may be one of those rare classic cars that actually proves to be a money-making proposition! As always, the blue text above will carry you through to the Craigslist ad.

1973 Land Rover Forward Control – $25000

“1973 Land Rover 101 Forward Control, 1.5L 3B diesel with AXT turbocharger; 5 speed gearbox. ARB diff lockers front and rear; electric 10,000 lb. winch; custom free-wheeling hubs. Six Michelin tires. Very low mileage for its age. Comes with brand new canvas (not shown). For appointment to view, contact Jay 604-760-5350. Currently in storage.”

When it comes to awesome vehicles, the Land Rover 101″ Forward Control is right near the top of the list. A little known variant of the brand’s all-conquering Series IIA and Series III trucks, the forward control fulfilled the British military’s need for an air-transportable 1-tonne utility truck, and did so in much the same manner as did Volvo’s Laplander and Steyr-Puch’s Pinzgauer. Produced in a variety of formats for the military alone (there were no civilian forward controls manufactured), the forward control could be had in radio car, ambulance, and truck layouts, with varying body styles and widths befitting their specific roles; radio trucks typically possess an enclosed shell that is no wider than the front end, while ambulances bulge outward to allow additional room for stretchers and medical equipment. Trucks, such as the one pictured here, feature your standard issue, military-style folding bed sides and typically benefit from the fitment of a hoop set and canvas roof.

Although this blog may be called “Cars You Should Buy,” I fear this first entry after the holiday season breaks with tradition and brings you a car you most certainly should not, regardless of how cool it may appear. Having had the unfortunate fortune of undergoing an engine and transmission swap at some point, the truck has lost one of its best features; the ability to use a huge amount of standard Land Rover parts. Whilst Laplanders, Pinzgauers, and even Unimogs are specific vehicles with very little parts sharing with their stablemates, the 101 utilized much of the same running gear as the regular Land Rover Series IIA and III trucks, which means that any current owner can take advantage of a huge parts supply network. Of course, that pedestrian design also makes it a bit less capable than the similarly-sized, portal-axle-equipped forward control trucks from Steyr, Volvo, and Mercedes, and the prices typically reflect that. It also doesn’t help that due to their relatively awkward looks, punishing ride, and niche status, they simply don’t command much of a market. Readily available in the UK for around nine grand in restored condition, and typically carrying a $2,500 shipping cost, this truck’s $25,000 price tag is absolutely ridiculous. But, if nothing else, it does serve as a great excuse to search eBay Motors UK for a better one. As always, interested parties can click the blue text alongside the topmost picture to navigate to the seller’s Craigslist ad… but I wouldn’t recommend it.