KETTLEY CLASSIC CARS

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1966 Buick Wildcat Custom 445

            This beauty was all about horsepower and luxury touring.  The Custom convertibles came with two engine options in 1966 both with the historically significant "401CID Nailhead Engines" in the 445 or 465 versions.  Oddly, Buick named these engines based on their torque output rather than cubic inch displacement which was common at the time.  The tamer 445 had a high capacity 4 barrel carburetor and the 465 had two high capacity 4 barrel carburetors.   This naming oddity is understandable because in the mid to late 60's luxury cruisers had grown in weight and volume similar to an average sized New York apartment.  It took a lot of torque to get these babies up to the newly ubiquitous freeway speeds of the day.  Posted speed limits of 70 or 80 mph even in urban areas was not unusual  These cars were designed to cruise at high speed and high luxury and at the time that meant bigger was better.  Thus more torque was important to the target audience for these open air land yachts.  Today this would be unthinkable to designers and consumers alike, but once you take a ride it is easy to become a believer.                                            

     Another oddity for the 66 Super Wildcat's (and Riviera's) with the 465 engines was that the cars were delivered to the dealers with the manifolds in the car's trunk to be installed by the dealer. The carbs were taken out of dealer stock and bolted on.  Toward the end of the 1966 model year, in approximately May 1966, Buick offered the Super Wildcat 465 with dual 4BBL Carter AFB carburetors as a factory-installed option.  This car has the 445 engine.  Even with the single four barrel breather this red and white Wildcat is reluctant to pass a gas station without stopping for a drink.  On a road trip I got about 21 miles to the gallon but around town that drops significantly to under 10 mpg.  As a result this Wildcat stays in the garage a lot also to preserve it as an original car.

The 1951 Packard 200 

This model was introduced as Packard's least expensive model range on August 24, 1950, taking the place of the low-line Packard Standard models which were eliminated for the 1951 model year. The 200 debuted as part of the fully redesigned Packard line, attributed to John Reinhart. Replacing the bulbous 1948-1950 Packards in the 22nd and 23rd Packard Series, Reinhart's "High Pockets" design was more formal than its predecessor, and would serve Packard until the end of the 1956 model year when true Packard production ceased.  The 200 was considered a "junior" series car, and was separated from the Packard 300 and Packard Patrician 400 models by their shorter wheelbases (122 in or 3,100 mm versus 127 in or 3,230 mm) and lesser trim appointments. While similar in appearance to the senior cars, the junior Packard lacked the noted Packard cormorant hood ornament and had vertical tail lights instead of the horizontal units on the senior models. The junior models also lacked the wrap-around rear window feature found on senior Packard sedan models.

     All Packard 200 models came with twin horns, two sun visors, front and rear bumper guards, spare tire and jack set. Deluxe trim level included the spartan appointments found on the standard models, and added chrome wheel rings, and turn indications as standard. White-wall tires and full-wheel covers were also extra.  Items which have since become standard to the auto industry since the late 1960s such as heater, radio, tinted glass, carpeting, etc., were all optional on the Packard, as well as other premium cars during that era. Packard also became the first car-maker to offer power-brakes in 1951. “Easamatic” as they were trademarked, were a product of Bendix and an exclusive to Packard.  There were approximately 47,000 of these units built in 1951.

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1926 Mercedes Gazelle  (Kit Replica)

The name “Gazelle” may bring to mind 1930s-styled kit cars, but the origins of the design come from a time when Mercedes dominated the motorsports world. The nickname refers to four S-chassis models built between 1927 and 1932: the “S,” “SS,” “SSK” and “SSKL.” Designed by Ferdinand Porsche and Hans Nibel, these lightweight cars helped Mercedes secure numerous race wins in the late ’20s and early ’30s. Unlike its predecessor, the “K,” these Gazelles were offered for sale as road cars as well as race cars, letting anyone with enough cash experience the best performance available.

       Power is provided by an overhead cam straight 6 equipped with a gear-driven supercharger. To save owners money on registration taxes, the supercharger only engages at high RPM; this lets the cars be classified under their naturally aspirated output.  The S was a success from its launch in 1927, securing several race wins and setting the German passenger car speed record at 110.3 mph. It was replaced two years later by the “SS,” which increased engine displacement from 6.8 to 7 liters and boosted the compression ratio, bringing output from 180 to 200 hp. Although the SS was technically in production until 1932, few were built after 1929. 

     A total of 300 Gazelles were produced. Only five or six original SSK’s still exist with the rest of the 33 car run either destroyed or used to repair S and SS models. The last unrestored SSK sold for $7.4 million in 2004, making it one of the most expensive cars in the world. There are only two surviving SSKL’s, both of which are owned by Mercedes-Benz.


1983 Buick Riviera Convertible

There were less than 1,700 of these 1983 Buick Riviera convertibles built with the desirable V8 engine., which means the ones that survive in this kind of original condition today are quite few. So the value price on this low-production numbers-matching droptop is just the cherry on top.

     The burgundy leather interior is a great complementing standout color to the bright white exterior.  The burled walnut veneer is some of the most handsome trim for any car in the 80s, and as expected with such an expensive convertible, it came loaded.   

Under the hood is the optional 307 cubic inch V8 that is original to this car. The V8 motor was a valuable piece to give the Riviera the right kind of torque to move it around with authority. The attitude on this one was to be the comfortable and classy cruiser.   This survivor came with luxury driving features like the grand touring suspension and four-speed overdrive automatic transmission. This is the kind of classic that you're not intimidated to take on the long trips thanks to power steering and four-wheel disc brakes. 

 

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1955 Buick Special
1974 Chrysler Cordoba
1940 Buick Special
1964 Ford Thunderbird