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Car Disgust: 1977-1980 Lincoln Versailles
From a little out-of-the-way building somewhere between Hollywood and Burbank, California, comes the work of one of the best custom automotive builders in history.

Mr. Dean Jeffries was born not far away, in Compton, Calif., the mecca of custom car design; presently he operates Jeffries Auto Styling. His career started with automotive pinstriping, and one of his first notable car modifications was to paint “Little Bastard” on James Dean’s Porsche 550 Spyder.

Race car owner and promoter J.C. Agajanian hired Dean to stripe cars, and took him to the 1952 Indy 500. Mobil Oil hired him to paint race cars, and he would also paint and stripe helmets of racers such as Jim Rathmann, Parnelli Jones, and A.J. Foyt. He also worked with Carroll Shelby on the Cobra, and gained fame for painting flames on cars.

Karl Marx once said, “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.” He could have been talking about Cadillac.

We’ve previously told you the tragic tale of the Cadillac Cimarron. A half-baked attempt at badge engineering a small Caddy out of the not-very-good-to-begin-with J-car, the Cimarron lives in infamy as one of GM’s most heinous offenses against its own brand equity.

How bad was it? Let’s put norwegian outlet canada goose for sale this way: one of Cadillac’s executives had a picture of a Cimarron prominently placed in the design offices–as a shining example to all of what not to do.

Ignoring that object lesson, Cadillac tried the same trick again fifteen years later, badge-engineering another new small Caddy out of a car from a more pedestrian GM division. The car that resulted when history repeated itself wasn’t quite as tragically flawed as the Cimarron, but what seemed like a promising little ride at first glance quickly became a farce involving a duck, a supermodel, a lot of warranty claims, and a doctor on TV.

I’m talking about the Cadillac Catera, introduced in 1997 as “The Caddy that zigs.”

A few years back, I wrote a series of tributes to Poseur Muscle Cars–the Ford Mustang II Cobra II, Chevy Monte Carlo SS, Dodge Magnum XE, Ford Gran Torino, and Spirit-based AMC AMX–celebrating those toothless but highly endearing cars that matched their highly extroverted visual bravado with a nearly complete lack of actual performance. Like its Magnum cousin, the Dodge Mirada richly deserves inclusion into this hallowed pantheon.

Like those other other flabby would-be performance cars, the Mirada had star potential that didn’t quite translate into reality. The Mirada was built to the tried-and-true muscle-car formula, with a large V-8 driving the rear wheels and bold, aggressive styling enhancing its large long-hood, short-deck proportions. It’s a formula that, when executed well back in the 1960s, helped make the Mirada’s Dodge Challenger and Dodge Charger forebears.

Unfortunately, just as the Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna Type S-3 was a tepid, leisure-suited distortion of the classic Chevelle muscle car, the Mirada was a pale shadow of a muscle car. Like the Laguna, the Mirada’s otherwise clean styling had a strong late-1970s, early-1980s disco flavor, and its V-8 power was sapped by the anti-performance influences of its time.

A ’57 Lincoln sleeper? A Cowboy Cadillac diesel dragster? A V-8 Miata? A prewar sedan with a 21st-century chassis? This could mean only one thing: . . .

. . . the results of the Restomod Challenge are in!

Shall we have a little fun with “restomodding” and project cars? Based on some recent discussion threads, I think a lot of you are up for it.

In the discussion thread for That Car Guy’s deliciously ruthless takedown of the Lincoln Versailles, he and I exchanged speculations about the possibility of turning a two-door Granada into a two-door Versailles. Minutes later, reader “jed” posted a link to a web page about, you guessed it, a two-door Granada that had been kitbashed into a two-door Versailles. That’s norwegian outlet canada goose for sale in the photo at right. Looks like he did a really nice job.

There was another interesting exchange the next day under the post on the “Land Yacht Mothball Fleet.”

When naval vessels are no longer immediately needed, they are decommissioned and stored in what is colloquially known as “mothballs.” A mothballed ship is not operable, but it’s maintained in a condition that preserves its internal equipment and allows norwegian outlet canada goose for sale to be returned to service in fairly short order if the need arises. There are fleets of mothballed ships in places like Suisun Bay, Calif., sitting quietly at anchor in neat rows, awaiting a call to duty.

Much like their nautical counterparts, these decommissioned 1970s land yachts are “anchored” in a row at a restoration shop in Newark, Ohio. Here we see a Lincoln Continental Mark IV and Mark V with a four-door 1980-81 “Panther platform” Continental alongside.

Fleets of massive capital-ship luxury cars like these once cruised highways and moored in parking lots throughout the land, their leather seats coddling passengers in first-cabin luxury, their soft suspensions and immense curb weight inducing seasickness should the captain call down to the engine room for flank speed on a twisty back road. Most of them are gone now, done in by road salt, changing public tastes, and a fatal lack of fuel economy.

These three survivors looked to be reasonably solid. They probably need a bit of “demothballing” before they’ll run again–in contrast to the Mercedes at the end of the row, which will likely start right up as long as the battery is charged and there’s diesel in the tank. Any of the three would be a plausible candidate for restoration, should you be inclined to re-live the disco era in all of its opera-windowed, vinyl-landaued, 10 MPG glory.

Not long ago, we here at Car Lust went back to the days of Marlon Brando, greasy hair, and leather jackets. Now let’s slingshot around the sun, hit warp drive, and time-travel to the age of leisure suits, twirling mirrored balls, psychedelic lighting, and thumping dance floor music… those now-distant, dearly departed, dreaded days of Disco.

I’m not sure if a more superfluous period of car (or fashion) design has ever existed. Sure, the 1950s had chrome and 3-tone paint schemes. But the late 1970s and early ’80s was an era of padded vinyl roofs, opera windows, wide body-side moldings, wide pinstripes, fake wire-wheel hubcaps, flip-up headlights (some were even padded vinyl), requisite upright hood ornaments, pillowy crushed velour seating, and fine Corinthian leather. It is a period of garishly concocted automotive design that should be remembered only so that we will never repeat it again.

This time slot was all about flash, not substance. After all, how long could a vinyl roof last in the Florida sunshine? Surely nowhere near as long as 1950s chrome and paint would.

Some of these cars were designed almost from the ground up to be in this class, such as the Chrysler Cordoba or 1977 Ford Thunderbird. Others were quickly transformed from whatever was already on the assembly line, like the 1975 Mustang II Ghia Silver Edition. But in any sense, the Lincoln Versailles (pronounced ver-sigh) surely did not spend near enough time in the bake oven, and was served to us both rare and bleeding. Its origins actually trace back to the humble 1960 Ford Falcon.

All was well until a month or so ago, when I dropped the GM off at the shop for an oil change and tire rotation. About an hour later, I got a call from the service manager. They would, he reported, be unable to change the oil because the oil pan was so badly rusted that attempting to unscrew the drain plug would lead to a ful

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