8 Forgotten variants of popular cars
A collection of rare metal that slipped under everyone's radar.
Now, that Christmas is over. The majority of us in the weird period of the holidays between the festive celebrations and the beginning of a cold, new year in January.
In fact, did you know that there are actually 14 religious holidays in what many see as the Christmas period? It does open your eyes to a whole new world of variety.
Talking of which, I imagine most petrolheads reading this article will recognise the names of the cars I've listed, but not necessarily the particular variant. These are eight forgotten versions of some not-so-forgotten cars.
4th gen Dodge Charger
Made between 1975-78, the 4th gen Charger carried over the B-body from the 3rd gen, but it was heavily re-styled and made to be more of a personal luxury car rather than a kick-ass muscle car.
This was inevitable due to the new emissions regulations and the 1973 oil crisis. Even with the top-of-the-range 400ci V8 on board, it was about as powerful as a mouse blowing a whistle.
It may have been rather disappointing when compared to earlier Chargers, but it remains an interesting demonstration of just how the political hiccups of the 70s affected the car industry.
Ford Granada Perana
My own photograph - saw one at a car show.
Thanks to South African tuner and racing team, Basil Green Motors, you could have the Granada fitted with the torquey Ford 302ci Windsor V8. It made 250bhp and was a huge step up from the 3.0 litre Essex V6.
Both the 4-door saloon and 2-door coupe could be fitted with the V8 and any variant remains a rare and forgotten Granada to this day.
The Granada Perana was only available in South Africa.
Ford Capri Perana
My own photograph - it was on the same stand as the Granada.
In an almost seamless transition, we move onto another popular South African-market Ford with that very same 302 V8.
The Capri was tuned - once again - by Basil Green Motors, and the Capri Perana was a beast in its own right. 0-60 was dealt with in under 7 seconds and was a success on track.
In 1970, the Capri Perana won 13 out of the 14 races of the South African Saloon Car Championship with consistent lap records - making it an incredibly capable racer.
A Prince Skyline from 1963. Image credit: Favcars.com
I feel like a lot of people (younger ones, especially) seem to not know that the Skyline's ethos was actually to be a practical family saloon car rather than a Porsche-challenging 'tuner' car.
Nevertheless, the Skyline name was first introduced by the Prince Motor Company in 1957 and not at least until the 2000 GT came along, was it aimed at anything to do with performance.
Prince and Nissan eventually merged in 1966 and later, the more recognisable GT-R came along. But it's still interesting to see where names begun before they became famous.
Toyota Corolla E30 Liftback
Image credit: Favcars.com
The Corolla arrived in 1966 and played a key role in the sheer demand and growth for Japanese cars - especially in the United States.
A slightly forgotten variant of the Corolla though, is the cool-looking 'Liftback' on the 3rd generation from the mid 70s. The styling is interesting as it blends both the stern aggression of a Mustang and a sort-of elegant flow of a Lancia Beta HPE.
Available with a selection of frugal 4-cylinder engines, the Liftback Corolla was both practical and stylish. If only the current one was this interesting...
VW Golf Country
Many will remember the MK2 Golf as a car. Heck, my family went through two GTIs in the space of my life and it appears that almost everyone has a story surrounding one. A fascinating thing, for sure.
What almost nobody remembers though, is the go-anywhere Country variant. Co-manufactured by Steyr-Daimler-Puch in Austria, it had over 8 inches more ground clearance, 4WD and a 98bhp 1.8 litre engine, it was a capable off-roader which proved to be relatively popular in mountainous areas around Europe.
I say relatively because only around 7,700 units were ever made. 50 of which even had the GTI engine! Though, these were only for the hands of the project's staff.
Porsche 911 Bertone Spyder
Porsches were popular in the sunny state of California. They enjoyed the 356 and the 911 Targa didn't quite cut it for southern Californian Porsche dealer, Johnny von Neumann and some of his customers. With Porsche's approval, he ordered Italian styling house, Bertone, to design something new.
The result was the 911 Spyder, it was unveiled at the 1966 Geneva motor show and housed the 130bhp 2.0 litre flat six engine. Buyers were told it would cost around $8,000. However, this would've made it around 30% more expensive than the Targa. It therefore became unjustifiable.
The other main criticism was that removing the roof completely would spoil the handling and create a burden of chassis flex. It was certainly an interesting experiment in the 911's timeline, but not one that could be executed successfully.
Lamborghini Countach Evoluzione
This was a mad project led by Horacio Pagani under the new Composites Department at Lamborghini. The body panels were a blend of carbon fibre and Kevlar and the result was a massive 500kg than the production Countach QV5000S.
Power was upped to 490bhp and a test at the Nardo test track proved that this car was capable of 205mph. Most of the creature comforts were stripped and they even experimented with a 4WD system before crash testing.
Production of this mad thing was deemed to be too expensive and the project was dropped. Though the ideas taken were later applied to cars like the Diablo.
Thanks for reading
Prince Skyline from 1960. Image credit: Favcars.com
So, there we are. That was my list of forgotten versions of popular cars. If I've missed anything out you'd like to throw in, feel free to throw it into the comments.
Nevertheless, I hope you enjoyed reading the article.