The streets of Minneapolis were a hard pill for this Portland local to swallow. They were devoid of true classics short of the sunny Sunday posers. Portland on the other hand is the Mecca for classic cars that are actually used daily. I guess this makes sense considering the harsh Minneapolis winters and corrosive salt capable of destroying cars, old and new, in no time. So I was surprised and impressed to see this rusty, oil-leaking Swedish classic stationed near the Walker Art Center. B18 badge and Swedish flag proudly displayed, I wondered if this survivor belonged to one of the Scandinavian natives of Minnesota (Viking or something). It was an odd combo, Walker Art Center, the home of modern art, and a half-dead, classic 122S. Nevertheless a pretty good choice for the slippery Minneapolis roads – it was the first car with three-point seat belts, and the first to have any kind of seat belt as standard equipment. They don’t call ‘em safe for nothing folks.
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Soccer moms and squared-off backs? PSSSHHHH. Before they made the safest cars on the planet, they made cars good enough for second rate James Bond actor’s wannabe James Bond roles. Yeah, I said it. Understated yet classy, refined yet tough. Almost makes me wish our Swedish friends would jump on the American throwback train, dip into their archives and design a heavily inspired 2013 1800.
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Our man on the street in Portland spotted this beautiful Volvo P1800 parked in front of a loading dock in the Pearl District. The classic lines and taught profile look good enough to be displayed in one of the many high end galleries strewn about the neighborhood. For those of you too young to remember, Roger Moore drove a white one of these in the popular 1960s TV series The Saint (Val Kilmer drove a C70 in the 1997 movie). We also like the P1800ES that came out in ‘72 because of the all glass rear tailgate – it was one of the major inspirations when stylists penned the current Volvo C30. I can’t decide which I would rather own, this or a Karmann Ghia.
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With intoxicating curves hammered into cold steel by the legendary design house Pininfarina, the seductive Brera represents one more reason to bring the Italian brand back over to this side of the pond. Sporting a rather modest (by American standards) 256 hp powerplant from its 3.2 liter V6, the Brera won’t knock your head back (0 – 62 mph in about 7.0 secs), but is certainly competitive with other premium hot hatches like the VW GTI, Mini Cooper S and Volvo C30.