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TVR Prototype

TVR Prototype

TVR Prototype

TVR Prototype

TVR Prototype

TVR Prototype

TVR Prototype

TVR Prototype

Title: Isuzu 117 Coupé
submitted by: Slade Yuille

A stunning sporty car from a manufacturer few had ever heard of had jaws dropping at the 1966 Geneva Auto Salon. That car was...the Lamborghini Miura. But just down the show floor was another car that had people talking: the Isuzu 117. The unlikely gran turismo came from an unusual far-eastern source. Isuzu had been building old Hillmans under license for years before branching out into its own cars in the sixties, and even then its cars were relatively old fashioned and conservative, save for the Bellett GT.

This was only just a few months after the Toyota 2000GT broke cover, so the idea that Japanese car could be this striking was very radical at the time. The 117 looked ultra-modern, and its shape came from styling icon Giorgetto Giugiaro. There was just one problem - Isuzu had no way to build the car - with no factory space and no plan to market it. The attractive machine that drew interest even in the shadow of the Miura looked destined to remain only a dream.

Giugiaro left Ghia shortly thereafter. He'd done stints at Bertone and Ghia (where he had worked unhappily under the mercurial Alejandro DeTomaso) and opened his own firm, ItalDesign, in 1967. Modifying the 117 design so that it would be easier to put into production and pushing Isuzu to commit to the car were two of his first projects.

Isuzu finally came up with a plan for the car. The styling would remain virtually the same but the car would be built, lock, stock, and barrel, on the platform of the decidedly un-beautiful Florian sedan. The car would be the absolute top of Isuzu's range, a limited production car built virtually by hand for the sole purpose of generating interest in Isuzu's more mainstream products.

Thus, in 1968, the 117 coupe finally came to market. Limited production (about 500 a year) meant that the car was going to stay in the home market, with limited (if any) exports. The complicated build process also kept prices high for those few who could get them. The car came equipped with almost every luxury toy that Isuzu could think to add - a must in the luxury market within Japan. Mechanically it was a fairly up-to-date package for the mid-1960's.

Power came from a 1584-cc twin-cam four fed by twin Mikuni carburetors, mated to a four-speed gearbox - both borrowed from the Bellett GT. All of the running gear came purely from the Florian. Even with its peppy engine, the weight of the 117 held back overall performance, as did the wildly over assisted power steering. The 117 were more of a boulevardier or a long-distance GT than a sports car.

It was Giugiaro's styling, however, that really launched the 117 into the stratosphere. It looked great from almost any angle and bore a striking resemblance to the Ferrari-powered Fiat Dino coupe - which had also been penned by Giugiaro when he was at Bertone. In many ways, the 117 are thought to have been the "first draft" for the Dino Coupe. Unfortunately, just like the Dino, the 117 were a rare item in those early days. Later on, the 117's styling would influence Pininfarina's Peugeot 504 coupe, the Audi 100S coupe, and British Leyland's "Princess" wedge.

Everything changed in 1971, when GM purchased 34% of Isuzu (a company it now virtually controls). This GM investment would see Isuzu’s exported to the United States under the Buick and Chevrolet labels, and Isuzu's participation in the design of the GM T-car, which became the Chevette and Isuzu/Holden Gemini. More importantly for fans of the 117, the production of the car was to be raised to 12,000 units a year and the price was to be lowered.

GM helped refine the production process and wanted Isuzu to have a fully filled out lineup. This meant changes to the car, of course. As the 70's progressed, the car got square headlights, lost many of its chrome details, and got huge black bumpers and even more power accessories. This meant more weight, so despite the enlargement of the engine and the addition of all-disc brakes and a five-speed gearbox (as well as an optional GM automatic), the car got heavier and performance flagged. Despite all this, there was frequently a two to four month waiting list for the 117 even into its last days.

The 117 ran until 1981 and almost 90,000 of them were made, though few ever left Japan (and those that did mostly ended up in Australia or New Zealand). That year it was replaced by a new car - the futuristic, aerodynamic Piazza - known in some export markets as the Impulse. Like the 117 before it, it was designed by Giugiaro and had evolved from one of his concept cars, the 1979 Ace of Clubs. The timeless 117 have yet to fully come into its own as a classic outside of Japan, but is a revered classic in its homeland.

Ford Falcon XT

Title: My First Love
submitted by: Michelle, Somerville, VIC

I was out searching for my first car and my boyfriend at the time kept taking me to car yards for the ‘Blokes” you know the type I mean. The ones with V8’s supercharged, blown, lowered etc, well out of my price bracket. The last one we visited I asked the sales person if he had any thing around the $1200.00 mark knowing full well there was nothing under $10,000.00 on the block.

He looked at me and pointed to the vacant block of land opposite his sales yard and there she was ‘my Christine’. I had never seen a Ford XT with trims as she wore. I took my baby for a test drive and she was mine.

I have only seen one other car like her and it was in mint green color. As far as I am aware the trims were an option that most XT buyers never took up. If anyone knows the full story on trims it would be much appreciated.

aka XT Lover

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