1963 Split Window Corvette

By Vern Parker

The owner of the Blackley Chevrolet dealership in Hornbeak, Tenn., was related to a salesman there. A half century ago most of the dealership sales involved pickup trucks and durable sedans.

Regardless of that fact the salesman ordered as a demonstrator one of the freshly redesigned Corvette Sting Ray split window coupes.

He selected a new color that was offered that year – saddle tan – for the new Corvette. Because he considered the sleek Corvette a manly sports car he ordered the car with no power brakes, no power steering, no power windows, no automatic transmission nor air conditioning. All such features, the salesman explained, merely added weight and consumed horsepower.


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1956 DeSoto Sportsman

By Vern Parker

Parts from about one-fourth of the United States have contributed to the restoration of Jack Gallagher's 1956 DeSoto Fireflite Sportsman.

“I've always liked orphan cars,” Gallagher confesses. Automobiles which no longer are in production appeal to him.

In August of 2010 he located the 1956 DeSoto two-door hardtop offered for sale by a broker of antique cars in Florida.

Detailed information about the car was transmitted and Gallagher discovered that the car was originally sold in Mississippi once it had left the factory in Detroit on Nov. 28, 1956.


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1958 Mercedes-Benz 180D

By Vern Parker

More than 25 years ago Barbara Frank found herself in West Germany -- Munich to be specific. At the time she was teaching an extension program of the University of Maryland.

One of her more mature students mentioned to her that he knew of a recently widowed German woman who had an automobile that she was unable to drive. The student encouraged Frank to go inspect the car.

Frank eventually went to investigate the car and discovered a pristine, always garaged, 1958 Mercedes-Benz 180D, a small diesel-powered four-door sedan, the sort of vehicle usually found parked at taxi cab stands in many German cities.

The black sedan had obviously received excellent care and the widow wasn't up to the task of learning to drive a four-speed manual transmission.


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2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK: Better in Every Way

By Brian Armstead

When Mercedes-Benz launched the then new GLK in 2009, the auto industry was still in a bad way. Sales were down in every segment, and some questioned the sanity of Mercedes for launching a premium, small, SUV.

But hindsight is always 20/20, and the segment is now rife with competitors, most notably the BMW X3 and Audi Q5. Both are solid vehicles, but both need to be very afraid of the 2013 GLK 350, which is better in every way than its predecessor.

Let’s start with styling. Where the 2009 GLK looked like a mini G Wagen (which Mercedes says is the bloodline vehicle for the GLK), the 2013 model still has the G’s rugged appeal, but also features the swoopy look that now adorns many Mercedes, including the SL550 sports car. The front of the GLK features new headlights with LED daytime running lights, a new bumper and grille. Redesigned roof rails and sculpted door panels enhance the side profile. At the rear, LED tail lights are now standard, and chrome plated tailpipe trim adds design flair. New 19” wheels are also standard, while 20” wheels are optional and part of two packages – the Appearance Package and the AMG Styling Package. The AMG package also adds AMG front and rear skirts, AMG grille with two chrome louvers, AMG LED daytime running lights and aluminum roof rails.


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2012 ┬áKia Rio EX is No Bottom Feeder

By  Ted Orme

Boy,  the jokes we used to make about small cars not long ago. They were bottom  feeders in every way. Not anymore. As I have exclaimed in earlier reviews, the quality, performance, reliability and content of the modern class of  compact and subcompact vehicles are a quantum leap over the tin cans of old. And  there is no better example of that evolution than Kia.

How far has the  company come? Well, the U.S. Supreme Court just refused to hear  an appeal of a $5.6 million verdict against Kia Motors Inc. in a class-action  lawsuit brought by 9,400 owners of ill-fated 2000 Sephia sedans over allegedly  faulty brakes. (The  company changed the brakes starting in the 2001 model year.) A neighbor of mine took a chance on a 2001 Kia and ended up turning it  back in under Lemon Laws. And a Texas Ford dealer told me he gave up his Kia  franchise after a couple of years because, as he put it, “ I can’t fix them.”

He should have hung in there. Under the Hyundai umbrella, both Korean brands have not only righted themselves but they are steadily creeping up the Consumer  Reports and J.D. Power quality ratings and are aggressively and successfully looking to become best sellers in all small and midsize vehicle  segments.

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