Gateway Classic Cars
While visiting Beth's family in Wisconsin, I drove down to nearby Kenosha to see the Gateway Classic Cars collection.
They have an interesting variety of vehicles from relatively unknown makes (Nash Statesman) to Corvettes.
My favorites are the late 60s and 70s cars that I grew up with and learned to drive in.
Read on to find the car I would drive home if given the choice.
When I walked through the showroom and into the warehouse area where the cars are kept, I knew I'd be here looking awhile.
Row after row of interesting cars - All for Sale!!!
Let's get started.
1965 Ford Cobra (Replica)
Although it looks like the real thing, unfortunately it's not.
But, it's not priced like the real thing, either. The real ones are well into 6-figures prices, some even 7-figures!
Bring your own earplugs.
Designed for racing, not comfort. The steering wheels on many race cars easily detach to aid entry/exit.
For just a little more than a new Miata........
Next to it was this 1967 Ford Cobra - also a replica. But a very nice one!
A name to be feared in the '60s.
All that horsepower generates a lot of heat.
Again, a lot less than the real thing. (And 95% of the people would not be able to tell.)
Next on this row was a beautiful 1973 Jaguar XKE with the V-12 Engine. Nice!
A true classic. Note the luggage rack and quad exhaust.
Nice stylistic touch.
Nice leather, but note the crank windows. LOL
It also has a grab handle for the passenger. (Top speed was 150 MPH)
Not wire wheel covers - actual wire wheels.
This will make a rich person happy.
Or, they could buy BOTH Shelby Cobra replicas and have $65,000 left over for gas and repairs.
Next on this row was a group of 3 VW Beetles.
Of the 3 Beetles, I liked this '67 convertible.
Perfect car for cruising to the beach this summer.
Back when cars were much simpler.
A lot more reasonable than the Cobras or Jaguar.
Next was this nice '63 Chevrolet Corvair Monza.
OK - who remembers "Unsafe At Any Speed" by Ralph Nader?
The Corvair was Chevrolet's answer to Volkswagen and the imports that were starting to show up in American showrooms.
The engine was very similar to the Beetle's - Air Cooled opposed 4-cylinder in the rear. (Note the fuel tank filler on the front fender.)
Corvairs were available in Coupe, Sedan, Station Wagon, Convertible, and even a windowed van (like VW) and pickup!!
The Monza was near the top of the line trim in 1963.
With only 80 HP available, the gearshift got a frequent workout.
AM Radio, crank windows, and cigarette lighters. Oh, the '60s.
Nice, but not my cup o' tea.
1957 Nash Metropolitan. You don't see many of these, and they are interesting.
Handy location for the spare tire if you need it.
Remember bench seats? And window cranks? "Three-On-The-Tree" shifters?
Price is reasonable. Very interesting, but not quite my first choice. Close.
1937 Ford Pickup with V-8. Nice.
Very nice woodwork in the bed.
Telling everyone you have a V-8 under the hood!
Very clean interior.
Oops - glare covered up the price. $32,995.
Next in line was a 1986 Suzuki Samurai.
One of the smallest-ever SUVs parked next to a Hummer that weighs probably 4x or 5x that of the Samurai.
These were great little SUVs built when gas was expensive and most SUVs got 10 MPG. Pretty rugged, too.
Check out the heavy-duty door hinges.
Stick shift and Low-Range Transfer Case. Ready for off-roading.
Very nice, but 91K miles bumps it off my #1 pick list. Still one of the top 3, though.
1985 AM General M998 - also known as the "Hummer" or "Humm-Vee"
Very nicely restored, but not what I need. Fun to look at.
About half the cost of new, but parts and insurance would be expensive. I'll pass.
At the back of the room were several cars parked too close together to get good photos,
but I was drawn to the neat graphics and ornamentation.
From a 1973 Plymouth Duster. Meep-Meep.
Side graphics on a 1971 Plymouth Duster
The rear graphics on that same 1971 Duster.
Going up the middle row, I spotted this nice 1969 Mercury Cougar.
Classy - the turn signals had 3 lights, and lit up in order of inner-middle-outer. Pretty hi-tech for 1969.
They had this Cougar parked close to the Jaguar. Coincidence?
Typical late-60s sports car interior. Complete with 8-Track Stereo!!
Lots of 16-year-olds dreamed about being in the driver's seat of these cars.
Very nicely restored, but I'm not a big convertible fan. Still looking for the one I would drive home.
Next to the Cougar was this very nice 1970 Buick GS.
Another view of the front of the 1970 Buick GS.
Up until 1969, General Motors did not install their largest V-8 engines in the midsize cars.
In 1970, they changed their mind, and classics like this and the Chevelle SS454 were born.
In 1972, engines were "tamed down" to run on unleaded gasoline, and horse-powers dropped. A lot!
This GS emblem was your only warning you weren't messing with Uncle Louis' Century.
Stage 1 was not only the biggest V-8 (455 Cubic Inches) but also "tuned" for even more power.
Hidden under this family car is one of the fastest cars of 1970.
I guess it's a collector car, so the price is not going to be cheap. Very nice, though.
Next up is a very nice 1965 Chevrolet Malibu. (One of the oldest names still sold by Chevy)
Typical mid-60s interior.
Look closely behind the foot parking brake - you can barely see it.... a floor mounted headlight dimmer switch!
The 327 was a popular V-8 with Chevrolet for many years, from mild to wild.
This one is backed up by a 2-speed automatic transmission. (Many new cars have 8- to 10-speed automatics)
More affordable than the Buick, but not nearly the horsepower as the Stage 1 Big Block 455 V-8.
Here is probably the #1 Collector Car in the building - a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro COPO with the L-72.
The L-72 is a 427ci High Performance V-8 made from 1966-1969. Due to General Motors' rules, this engine was not allowed in midsize or pony-car models (only full size and Corvettes) until 1969, when dealers were allowed to secretly order them through the Central Office Production Order (COPO) system. Only about 1,000 were made and are highly collectible.
This particular model has no fancy wheels or anything that would make it look like a high-performance model.
To most people, it looked like the base model with a "Straight Six" engine. Until the light turned green.
The 427 Engine sucked in a lot of air, so this cowl-induction hood scoop kept it fed.
Another classic Chevrolet nameplate.
Although the car had nearly 450 Horsepower, it rode on tires smaller than a new Honda Civic base model.
Another car many high-school boys dreamed about driving.
Very nice, but STILL not my choice to drive home.
Wow! Maybe if I sell our house and first-born.
Moving on, the next car was a true classic - 1957 Chevrolet BelAir Convertible.
Just the front bumper probably weighs half of what our Kia Soul weighs.
Remember when cool hood ornaments were popular?
And, on the opposite end, remember these huge tail fins? Nice!
Pretty snazzy interior for the late '50s.
AM Radio and a clock! Deeeeeee-luxe.
Very classy, but way out of my price range. Not as rare as you would think, though. Lots of '57s still driving around.
Beautiful 1948 Ford Convertible with a Flathead V-8. Love the plain but elegant styling.
Clean styling compared to the '57 Chevy above.
Look at the size of that trunk! This car was very close to being my "take home" pick.
The simplicity of style even extended to the wheels.
Pretty luxurious for the late '40s. Very nice!
Actually not a bad price for this nice car.
Next car on this row was a nice 1959 Pontiac Bonneville Coupe. It's yours for only $43,595.
The late '50s was an era of overwrought styling. More glitz - More "Bling".
(Compare this to the 1963 Buick Riviera coming up soon)
You could go to Lowes and bring home a riding lawn mower in that trunk!
One tail-fin wasn't enough. Let's have TWO on each side. Make your neighbor jealous.
All this trim and glitz was metal, not plastic. That's why these cars weighed as much as today's SUVs.
Moving into the area with sportier cars, I found this nice 1969 Pontiac Firebird 455.
Price - $58,000.
General Motors' quality standards (or lack thereof) are apparent in this photo.
Too many large gaps between panels and raw edges. Classy car, but for this much money, I'll pass.
Here's what makes this Firebird special.
Classy lines, but too many gaps in the bodywork. (Look at the corner of the hood)
Nice to look at, but I'll pass.
I'm not much of an authority on early Chrysler products, but this 1968 Plymouth Satellite Convertible caught my eye.
Very nice car! I wish it had the original wheels, though.
See those little pieces sticking up on the front corners of the hood? They are turn signal indicators for the driver. High tech!
Simple styling sometimes works best. This is nice.
One of many classic car names gone by the wayside.
Very nice interior with bench seats. Remember those?
Very nice, but a few things kept it off my "take home" list.
1) I'm not a big convertible fan 2) It only has the 273 V-8 3) Needs original wheels
This beautiful 1963 Buick Riviera is a perfect example of how Bill Mitchell led the GM design teams out of the flamboyant '50s and into the simple, but elegant, styling of the '60s. Just go back a few cars and compare this to the '59 Bonneville or '57 Chevy BelAir.
Pretty modern for 1963.
Another classic nameplate gone from the showrooms.
Again, compare Bill Mitchell's simple styling to the rear of the '57 Chevy BelAir or '59 Bonneville.
Quite a leap forward in styling in just a few years.
The elegant styling carried over into the interior.
Very nice car for $21,995. This would be a top contender for "take home", but not in the end.
Beautiful 1963 Cadillac Coupe de Ville with only 39K miles.
Under that huge hood sits a powerful (for 1963) 390ci V-8 engine.
Don't even ask about gas mileage.
By 1963, Bill Mitchell (remember him with the Buick Riviera?) had eliminated tail fins on all GM cars except Cadillac.
Very close to being my pick, except for gas mileage and trying to park it in our crowded university town.
And, I'd still have to sell our first-born to pay for it.
They also had a couple of highly modified Corvettes for the 1/4 mile drags.
With gas mileage at less than 1 MPG, I'll have to pass. Sorry.
Next was this very nice 1960 Ford Thunderbird Convertible.
The original 1955-1957 Thunderbirds were 2-seaters. This new model was designed as a 4-seater for families.
But, wait - I only see 2 seats. (Read on...)
There are actually 2 rear seats under that cover.
To make the car sportier for those owners without families, you could buy this rear-seat cover that turned it into a 2-seater.
Pretty sporty for 1960. Look at the rear of the console - those are power window switches. Oooo...
If I was a convertible fan, this would be at or near the top of my wish list.
(Along with enough money to pay for it)
*** DRUM ROLL, PLEASE ****
OK, by now, (if you are still with us) you are wondering what car I would want to take home.
Here is the answer.
My "Take Home" choice would be this 1954 Nash Statesman. A what???
Nash Motors was based in Kenosha, Wisconsin and was founded in 1916 by a former GM President. Throughout the next several decades, they focused on building cars "embodying honest worth and at a price level which held out possibilities of a very wide market."
In World War I, they produced rugged Jeffery Quad 4-WD vehicles that earned Nash the reputation of building the best 4-WD trucks in the country, and they became the largest builder of trucks for several decades. In 1937, they merged with Kelvinator (as in refrigerators) in what was the largest merger of dissimilar companies at the time, and designed the heating and ventilation systems that are still used in today's cars. In 1941, they revolutionized the unibody construction method which is used on almost all family vehicles today except trucks. In 1950, they were among the first to install seatbelts and one-piece safety glass windshields in their vehicles.
In 1954, they merged with Hudson Motor Company, as in Doc Hudson in Disney/Pixar's Cars, to form American Motors. In 1970, they bought Kaiser/Jeep and produced the long-famous Jeeps. Chrysler bought AMC in 1987 and eventually dissolved all of it except the "Jeep" brand name.
In 1949, Nash introduced the Airflyte sedan, which featured enclosed front fenders to enhance aerodynamics. There were improvements made each year, but in 1954, Nash (with the help of its partner Kelvinator) became the first American automobile to feature a single-unit Air Conditioner / Heating unit in a car. The competition used a separate heater and the A/C had a trunk-mounted condenser with the cold air blowing in from the rear parcel shelf.
It was a very progressive and forward-thinking company. Too bad they didn't survive.
With a history like that, I would like to drive one of their cars. The Metropolitan is just a little too small. This one is just right.
Nice design! Lots of chrome, just like many '50s cars.
Classy hood ornament.
Famous name - gone.
Every car manufacturer had their emblem. This is Nash's.
Pininfarina of Italy was contracted to re-design the new Airflyte Ambassador in 1952. Nash did not like the design and the resulting car used part of Pininfarina's design and part of their own. And, apparently, only part of the Pininfarina name. Ha!
Nice clean interior - well designed. "Three on the Tree" shifter and an economical 6-cyl engine.
Here's the best part - one of the best bargains of the day!
Hope you enjoyed looking around Gateway Motors in Kenosha, Wisconsin. They have 18 stores nationwide.
Find one near you (and maybe your next car) at: