The advent of the EV age has given plenty of opportunity for automakers to reinvent their identities, evidenced by the launch of several electric sub-brands. But automotive history also has no shortage of past marques to build upon, whether they were electric to begin with, or offered a compelling brand identity and design. Some dead brands have already returned after decades on ice, and have their sights set on becoming EV makers soon, like Borgward, resurrected a few years ago. But there are a few others that have been gone just about as long and featured distinctive design language or engineering that we'd like to see return in some form.
The collector car community was set abuzz back in March when Mecum Auctions announced that “Big Oly,” the custom-built Ford Bronco that Parnelli Jones drove to back-to-back victories in the Baja 1000 in the early 1970s, would be offered for bidding at Mecum’s 34th annual Original Spring Classic auction, scheduled for May 14-22 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
But the historic and innovative off-road racing machine isn’t the only consignment to the sale coming from the 1963 Indianapolis 500-mile race winner, who is considered not only one of the best but perhaps the most versatile of all American auto racers.
Assembled in Hamtramck, Michigan, and destined for France, this 1971 Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda Convertible was one of the last of its kind, built as the muscle car era neared its end. It is one of 12 built for the 1971 model year and among the five examples earmarked for non-U.S. destinations. Designed by John E. Herlitz and built on the new E-body platform, the 1971 Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda featured a wider body and a lower stance than its second-generation predecessor.
The Lancia Rally 037, the first-ever championship winner purpose-built for the legendary Group B rule set and last-ever RWD World Rally champion, is a certified legend. It was also the first formally introduced Group B car, meaning that this chassis number 001 development prototype is among the first cars built for rallying's most storied era. This particular 037 was never actually run in an official World Rally Championship event, but it was the single most important testing component in the development cycle of what would eventually become the 1983 championship-winning 037 competition cars. As a development car, this particular 037 was used as both a baseline for the final product's initial design and as a way to test out significant new components.
We’ve all heard the horror stories about restorations gone awry, with cautionary tales of shoddy workmanship, of shops that seem to evaporate overnight, with customer cars left unfinished or their more valuable parts sold off by the unscrupulous shop owner. There’s no question about it: Committing to a restoration is a monumental, expensive undertaking — and one that brings inevitable anxiety when put it in the hands of someone else. Entrusting your vintage vehicle to a professional restorer demands a leap of faith, but not blind faith. The more you know about the shop, its processes, and the quality of the work it produces, the more likely the finished product will live up to your expectations. It will keep your blood pressure in check, too.