What Is It?

Our weekly photo contest was different last week in that it had no photo. Instead, we asked our readers – who are, for the most part, auto enthusiasts – to answer three questions:


1. What car from any year would you love to own today, and why?

2. If money were not a factor, what new car would you love to run out and buy today?

3. Finally, what new car would you buy today if money were a factor – and isn’t it always?

Chosen randomly from the correct entries was Barbara Wilke, of Evans, who told us:

“1. I would love to have: 1956 Ford Thunderbird – it is just gorgeous, and I’ve always wanted one.

“2. Rolls-Royce Phantom

“3. 2014 car I would buy with limited funds: the new VW Bug.”

Wilke wins a prize from The Augusta Chronicle. Other readers identifying the vehicle were:

AUGUSTA: Sam Roney said:

“1. A 1957 Pontiac Star Chief four-door hardtop

“2. A Honda CR-V crossover. I think it’s a great car for the money.

“3. Also the CR-V. I haven’t got one, but I’d like to get one. It’s a great car.”

Carolyn Ogles wrote:

“1. The 1989 Toyota Camry is one we have now and plan to keep. It has been terrific, with 163,408 miles and lots of zip! Just replaced the radio.

“We had a beautiful 1985 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme that was custom-ordered. After three years, the transmission and then the engine expired. The tow truck driver said, ‘If you want dependable, buy Japanese.’ That was the second year of being made in the United States with the Japanese overseeing production in Kentucky.

2. Lexus owners seem to be very satisfied with sedans and SUVs.

3. Mazda3. Excellent reviews. Our daughter bought one in October and has 100,000 miles on it so the warranty has expired. She drives 50 miles to and from work. One hundred miles times five days a week equals 500, or 2,000 miles a month, plus visiting numerous health care facilities. It gets good gas mileage.”

Tom Turner took us in another direction with the word “car” for his first answer, selecting a train car:

“1. The car I would like to own today is a Pullman Palace, circa 1920, because I could live in it and it would look great whether sidetracked or rolling.

“2. If money were not a factor, the new car I would love to run out and buy today would be whichever crossover SUV is the tallest and smallest, but I don’t believe they make one that does not look like the world’s biggest Creek Chub fishing lure. Do you know of one?

“3. (See No. 2).”

Lowell Fritsche called in an entry to the previous week’s What Is It? involving the 1934 DeSoto Airflow but we never received it. We apologize for leaving him out. This week, his picks are:

“1. This is a hard one for me. But I have to go with my 1937 Chevrolet two-door sedan.

“2. If I could get in it, I would go with a Bugatti Veyron.

“3. I would go with a GMC crew-cab Sierra.”

CANTON, GA.: David Anderson wrote:

“1. Since I already own a 1959 Cadillac Coupe de Ville, the obvious answer to this one would be to trade it for a 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible. Why? This is the top-of-the-line model and the one that every ’59 Caddy lover lusts for… but wait, there are so many other choices.

“Instead I would choose a 1965 Buick Riviera GS. Introduced in 1963, this is one of the last GM designs heavily influenced by Bill Mitchell and was originally slated as a rebirth of the LaSalle brand.

“1965 is the last year of the first generation Riviera, but the first year for the GS performance option and, most important, the stacked hidden headlights behind those clamshell doors. One of my existing Caddies might yet have to step aside for one of these beauties!

“2. If money were no factor, it is actually tougher for me to decide on what new car I would purchase. Anyone that has read my responses in this column knows that I am a dyed-through-and-through-to-my-very-core Detroit Iron guy, even if almost none are actually built in Detroit anymore. I marvel at the styling and intricacies of the exotic brands, and I respect and appreciate the Jags, Mercedes and BMWs; but those are not my cup of tea.

“Until this fantasy becomes reality, this one would be a tie between old-school brute force with a Cadillac CTS-V Sport Wagon with six-speed manual or a new-school, in-your-face-technology Tesla S.

“3. Back in reality where money is always a factor, I can honestly say there is not a single new car I can afford that I would go out and buy. The cars to which I am drawn are the Camaro, Corvette, Mustang and the Cadillac V and V-Sport lines.

“Once you add performance V-8s, turbos, superchargers and manual transmissions to any of these, the budget is blown.

“Having said that, if I could go purchase something to supplement my daily driver, I would probably go for something small and fun to drive like a Hyundai Genesis coupe or Mini Cooper S. I have test-driven both of these in the past year, and they are an absolute blast to drive – not very practical, but definitely fun!”

EVANS: Wayne Wilke wrote:

“1. A 1948 Tucker Torpedo. The Tucker was and is a beautiful car and was way ahead of its time. Preston Tucker, a man whom I admire, was a designer, dreamer and entrepreneur. Although his original dream was blocked by the Big Three automakers and Michigan Sen. Homer Ferguson, his accomplishment and the cars he produced have stood the test of time.

“2. New car that I would love to run out and buy today: Mercedes-Benz S-Class

“3. New car if money were a factor: Honda Accord V-6 sedan.”

Pam Harrison wrote:

“1. I would want to own the 1954 Mercedes-Benz race car that sold for $30 million at an auction in 2013. Obviously, I would have lots of money if I owned such a vehicle.

“2. If money were not a factor, I would run out and buy a new Aston Martin One-77.

“3. I would buy another Honda CR-V if I were to buy a vehicle today.”

Paul Perdue wrote:

“1. I would love to own a 2014 Tesla Model S because it gets great mileage and looks good.

“2. If money was no factor, I would love to own a vehicle with a nuclear reactor in the trunk. Every time I go to the gas station I cuss the Arabs and Mr. Obama for the high price of gas. The U.S. is No. 1 in natural gas production and soon will be No. 1 in oil production, yet Mr. Obama won’t approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Thanks, Mr. Obama, for $3.50 gas.

“3. I would buy a 2014 Lexus ES 350 if money were a factor. Wait, that’s what I drive.”

Bill Harding wrote:

“1. The 1964 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk. The 1964 cars were introduced in the fall of ’63 when I was a high school senior. All of my fellow car nut buddies were into performance cars from the Big Three carmakers (Chrysler, Ford, and GM) such as 426 Dodges and Plymouths, 427 Fords and Mercurys, 409 Chevys and 421 Pontiacs. The Pontiac Tempest GTO option was not yet common knowledge, and the Mustang was half a year away.

“I have always been a champion of the underdog, and of all the U.S. automakers at the time, Studebaker was the ultimate underdog. The Avanti was created to compete with the Corvette; the Lark competed with everybody’s compacts; and the Gran Turismo Hawk, based on the ’53 Studebaker Starlight, competed with the Grand Prix and the Thunderbird. The Lark was the only car producing enough revenue to justify its existence.

“Studebaker in 1963 was financially desperate. Rumors about the corporation’s imminent demise were all over the media. However, thanks to its tie-in with Paxton Superchargers and STP, the company made some powerful engines. The top-performance V-8s were identified as R1 through R4. R1 and R2 mills were stock Studebaker 289s. The R3 and R4 engines were expanded (by Paxton through Andy Granatelli) to 304½ cubic inches.

“R1 through R3 engines had a four-barrel carburetor, with superchargers on R2s and R3s. R-4s had dual four-barrel carburetors. The R3 was the most powerful of the lot (and the most expensive) but Studebaker tried to copy Rolls Royce by withholding ratings for horsepower and torque, describing the engines’ power as ‘sufficient.’ From what I have read, very few R3s were ever produced, and only two 1964 Hawk GTs were so equipped.

“A news conference was held on Dec. 6, 1963, announcing an end to car and truck production at Studebaker’s plant in South Bend, Ind. After the plant closed down, assembly of only the Lark was continued at Studebaker of Canada in Hamilton, Ontario.

“2. And now, a new car I’d like to own. If Chrysler could find it in its heart to build a 2015 Dodge Challenger as a convertible (the way Chevy and Ford build Camaros and Mustangs) with the 6.4-liter V-8 and the six-speed stick shift transmission, the company would have my business.”

Larry Heath wrote:

“1. Any car from any year: 1977-81 Pontiac Trans Am. Black SE version with gold striping. ‘Bandit’ car from the Smokey and the Bandit movie. You left the movie with a smile on your face. CB radios were popular, and life was simpler. My wife and I still have our 1981 model we acquired 33 years ago. It has been the favorite of all my muscle cars and collectible cars over the years.

“2. Money is no object: If picking new at any cost it would have to be a 911 Porsche GT3. Classic styling and unmatched performance at the $150,000 price level. The car is understated and sophisticated at the same time.

“3. If money was a consideration, I would not look to new cars. For everyday use there are low mileage cars for sale by owners that date back to the ’90s up to 2005 or so. These cars are available if you look at one-third or less the price of a new one.”

HEPHZIBAH: Charlie Byrd wrote:

“1. The car I would love to own today would be a 1966 Ford Fairlane GT. This factory Ford came with the high-performance 390-cubic-inch-displacement motor and an optional 427-cubic-inch motor, which had more horsepower than engine size. A Hurst shifter was standard, as were the factory headers.

“2. If money was not a factor, it would be the 2015 Shelby Mustang.

“3. If money was a factor, my choice would be a new Ford F150. Just the best all-around truck for the value and durability. Even women love them.”

LOUISVILLE, GA.: Bob Holbert wrote:

“1. The answer to the first question is easy: the 1964 GTO I sold when I went back to graduate school. Not only was it an instant classic, it would be worth six figures today.

“2. If money were no object I would have any model Ferrari, the faster the better. For sheer speed and indulgence, nothing can beat them.

“3. Finally, I have the car now where money was a factor: a 2014 Dodge Challenger R/T with a 5.7 Hemi engine. At 72 and retired, I had to use some sense and not spend the extra $7,000 for the 6.4-liter engine. I feel I have come almost full circle from the GTO to the Challenger.”

KEYSVILLE, GA.: Glenn Widner wrote:

“1. 1955 Ford Crown Victoria. Ford found perfection in 1955, and so did Chevrolet. Ford GT40. Ford Explorer. I like Fords.”

MARTINEZ: Perry Austin wrote:

“1. My choice for any car no matter what year comes down to two: a 1969 Plymouth Road Runner with either the 440 six-pack or the 426 Hemi. The other car would be a 1965 Corvette Stingray. I had a ’69 Plymouth Satellite growing up and really liked the lines on the car. A neighbor had a Stingray that was just cool.

“2. As far as a new car that price isn’t a concern, I would buy my wife a Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit.

“3. As far as any car today, I did, a couple of years ago. I bought a Dodge Challenger R/T Classic.”

Joe Bert said:

“That was a very interesting challenge you gave us.

“1. That would be a 1935-36 Packard four-door convertible touring automobile. Touring cars had no roll-up windows, but side curtains. Very limited edition, very stately car. The Packard was the closest luxury automobile produced in Amercia compared with the Dusenberg, and of course the Auburn was a very very rich car in America that the working man could not afford.

“2. I’d probably pick a nice new Dodge Viper coupe in elegant silver coloring. It’s very nice car with a V-10 engine.

“3. Chrysler Town & Country minivan. Very reliable family transportation.”

Kurt Breitinger wrote:

“1. The car I would most like to own is a 1961 Ferrari California Spyder. The car is rare, beautiful and has an amazing-sounding V-12 engine that gives you goose bumps just listening to it. It comes from an era when things were a lot simpler and gas was cheap.

“2. If money were no object, I would go out and buy the new Porsche 918 Spyder. It is rare, very expensive and very fast. It’s a hybrid – but has a much different purpose from a Prius hybrid.

“3. If money were a factor, I’d probably buy the new Mazda6. Good-looking car that’s gotten rave reviews and gets good gas mileage. There is a practical side of me after all!”

Jim Muraski wrote: “Here’s my answers to this week’s questions:

“1. A black with red interior 1957 Chevy Nomad. This was always my dream car!

“2. A 2014-15 Chevy Corvette Z06. Awesome!

“3. A 2014 Chevy Cruze turbo diesel. Nice little car with great fuel mileage.

“Yes, I am and always will be a Chevy man!”


OK, we’re back to photos this week. Do you know the year, make and model of this old automobile? Give it your best shot, even if you don’t get everything.

Send your e-mail to glynn.moore@augustachronicle.com or leave a message at (706) 823-3419.

Please tell us your name and telephone number and the city you live in. It helps if you spell your name for us so we can include your response along with everybody else’s.

You have until midnight Tuesday to respond. A winner will be chosen randomly.

Thank you for guessing What Is It?

– Glynn Moore, staff writer