See the 1986 Excalibur Series V Phaeton / The Brooks Stevens Design

The first Excalibur was an automobile fitted on a Studebaker chassis and for a real short time with a Studebaker engine. This was the year 1964 and just about the same time that the first Excalibur received a Studebaker engine, Studebaker stopped building cars. This is the story about a show car that went on for a very successful production run.

excalibur phaeton

1986 Excalibur Series V Phaeton

Brooks Stevens Excalibur

The fine automobile featured in this article is a 1986 Excalibur Series V Phaeton. A beautifully styled automobile which was designed by Brooks Stevens. At that time, Stevens was a design consultant for Studebaker and was asked to design a new automobile for the upcoming New York Auto Show. Studebaker wanted a "show car". In fact, Studebaker sales had been going south for a long time and the company wanted the show car to help boost their presence and image. At that time the only think Studebaker was building was the Lark model in Ontario, Canada. They were holding on by a thread.

Stevens and his team actually built the prototype car in about two months. The car would be a contemporary classic. A car with 1930's type styling. When the prototype was ready just a few days before the auto show was to begin, Studebaker announced it was ceasing production. The 1964 Excalibur nevertheless was displayed at the New York show. Steven's himself and his sons decided to move forward with their car project and purchased a small booth at the show and proceeded to show the car themselves. The reception was extraordinary. In fact, Brooks Stevens immediately had a list of enthusiastic buyers.

excalibur car

1986 Excalibur

Vintage auto enthusiasts may remember that the Excalibur was designed after the Mercedes-Benz SSK. Not line for line but with a lot of similarities. Brooks Stevens had even owned an SSK at one time.

Excalibur's GM Engine

With Studebaker and it's 289 cubic inch V-8 out of the picture, Stevens arranged to receive Chevrolet engines for his new car. The engines that Chevrolet provided were 327 cubic inch V-8's that could deliver 300 HP. Chevy had tuned the engines to Corvette standards. All of a sudden the new Excalibur became a true performance car. The Excalibur with it;s new engine was rated at a top speed of 160 MPH and the 0-60 in under 5 seconds. Truly a much higher performer that the Studebaker engine Excalibur.

Celebrities Flock to the Excalibur

The Excalibur was produced from 1964 to 1986. The automobile had and has a long list of celebrity owners. Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin were just two of that long list. It was reported that Phyllis Diller owned four Excaliburs.

The Successes of Brooks Stevens

Brooks Stevens was a very successful industrial designer. During his career he would design everything from washing machines to motorcycles, to lawnmowers and tractors and of course automobiles. Add to that boats and the famous Oscar Meyer Weinermobile. He was the most successful industrial designer of the twentieth century. Stevens even taught a class in design up until his death in 1995.

Brooks Stevens was a very successful automobile designer who would con­tribute designs to over forty makes of car. His Jeep Wagoneer was just one of those that achieved great success. You would think that with the design ability that Stevens truly possessed, why are there not more of his designs still around. The answer is simply that much of his work was for automobile manufacturers who were in trouble. Stevens did fine work for Willys- Overland as well as for Kaiser, and as mentioned, for Studebaker.  If Stevens had done design work for one of the Big Three, we probably would see more of his automotive work around today.

1986 Excalibur Specifications

The 1986 Excalibur Phaeton had a Chevrolet small block 305 cubic inch V-8 engine delivering 155 HP.

Transmission as an automatic four speed.

Brakes were four wheel power disc.

Dimensions included an outside length of 204 inches and a wheelbase of 124 inches. Curb weight was 4,600 lbs.

The Excalibur is the only car built with two spare tires.

See the Auto Museum Online articles on the links below...

The 1972 jaguar E-Type V-12

The 2006 Ford GT Mid Engine Supercar

1968 Plymouth Barracuda Formula S

An excellent book regarding Brooks Stevens' amazing design career includes...Industrial Strength Design : How Brooks Stevens Shaped Your World by author Glenn Adamson.

excalibur dashboard

Excalibur dashboard

Excalibur Company Fails

The company started by Brooks Stevens in 1964, the Excalibur Automobile Corp, failed in 1986. The downturn began with the recession in 1981. The company was eventually sold by the Stevens family and by 1986 production of the automobile model ceased. Over 3,200 Excaliburs were produced by the original company.

Brooks Stevens Automobile Museum

At one time there was a Brooks Stevens Automobile Museum in a Milwaukee, Wisconsin suburb. Stevens put a lot of time and effort into the museum.

The museum itself had 12,500 square feet of exhibition space and, when it opened, displayed thirty-four autos, most of them from Stevens’s personal collection.

The museum also exhibited postwar vehicles that Stevens respected, including a 1954 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith town car. The museum unfortunately closed in 1999, five years after Stevens death. At that time his vast car collection was auctioned off by Stevens' family.
excalibur phaeton brooks stevens
Today's Excalibur Collector Car Values
The Exclaibur remains a popular collector car. The original automobiles are rare considering that only over 3,200 were built.
Some are more collectable than others and are much rarer than others. This is determined by the design and number built. The Excalibur has been officially added to AACA as a factory built Antique Automobile as of 2007.
Depending on mileage and overall condition you'll find Excaliburs priced from the $28,000 range to $80,000 or more.
(Article and photos copyright 2015 Auto Museum Online)


1986 Jeep Grand Wagoneer / A Classic on the Rise

The Jeep Wagoneer was Jeep's first luxury go anywhere vehicle. The Jeep Wagoneer was introduced in 1962 by Willys Jeep prior to the American Motors years and was still produced well into the Chrysler ownership.Things were changing rapidly during the early 1960's for Jeep and not soon after the first Wagoneers came out the company changed it's name to Kaiser Jeep.

jeep grand wagoneer

1986 Jeep Grand Wagoneer

The Jeep Wagoneer Production Years

The first Jeep Wagoneer was named a 1963 model and the line lasted until 1991 and was succeeded by the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Production stopped about mid-year in 1991 on the Wagoneers. With production ending so soon in 1991, these models became quickly collectible because of the relatively low number built, some 1,560 units.

The Jeep Utility is the vehicle many think of when remembering the Jeep brand. Jeep Utility Wagons were brought out right after the end of World War Two. The Jeep Wagons stayed with the same design for years and was the basis for the first Wagoneer.

1986 grand wagoneer

86 Jeep Grand Wagoneer showing wood grain side panels

The 1986 Jeep Grand Wagoneer

The automobile featured in this article is the 1986 Jeep Grand Wagoneer. The “Grand” in Grand Wagoneer was added in 1984 when the Cherokee moved to the downsized XJ platform taking the regular Wagoneer name with it. The automobile as marketed and sold as a station wagon. The 1986 Grand Wagoneer was a luxurious vehicle with a leather interior, power everything, a comfortable ride and with 4 wheel drive.

Starting in the 1986 model year, the Grand Wagoneer received a new four part front grille and a stand-up hood ornament. The interior of these models were changed significantly. The instrument panel gauges were made square along with wood grain overlays. The vehicle was also given a stand-up hood ornament and the 1986 Grand Wagoneers offered a power sunroof as a factory option.

Fuel economy as we know it today was not the 1986 Wagoneer's strong suit. According to mileage was rated as 10 MPG city and 12 MPG highway. This was for an eight cylinder 5.9 liter engine with a three speed automatic transmission.

1986 Jeep Grand Wagoneer Specifications

As mentioned above the 1986 Jeep Grand Wagoneer came out with a 5.9 liter 360 cubic inch V-8 that delivered 140 horsepower. Also mentioned above was the fact that fuel efficiency wasn't terrific at 12 MPG highway. Nevertheless, the engine did produce good power.

Another 1986 engine was the 4.2 liter 260 cubic inch V-8 delivering 112 horsepower. Mileage ratings on this vehicle were 15 city and 17 highway.

Transmission was a Chrysler TorqueFlite A727 three speed automatic.

Wheelbase for the 1986 Jeep Grand Wagoneer was 108.7 inches with an overall outside length of 186.4 inches. Width was 74.8 inches and height 66.4 inches. Curb weight was about 4,510 lbs.

See the AutoMuseumOnline articles on the links below...

The 1950 Willys Station Wagon

A Great Looking 1936 Ford Woodie Wagon

The Willys Military MBPatrick Foster

Two good reads regarding Jeep and the Wagoneer include...Jeep Wagoneer 1963-91 Performance Portfolio by R.M. Clarke and The Story of Jeep by author Patrick Foster.

jeep grand wagoneer station wagon

1986 Jeep Grand Wagoneer station wagon

Jeep Grand Wagoneer / A Classic That May Have A Bright Future

It's our belief that the Jeep Grand Wagoneer could have a good future as a collector automobile. As it stands today, the car is a collector automobile and it's popularity could grow as time goes by. Remember, the Wagoneer was the precursor of the Jeep Cherokee.

Many people assume it’s a 1970's vintage vehicle based on the wood panels and the styling. The fact of the matter is the model was launched in the early 1960s and was built into the 1990's.

The common engines in the latter years were the Chrysler 340 and 360 cubic-inch engines. The 360 cubic inch was the last carbureted engine offered in North America.

Fortune Magazine in a 2012 article named the Jeep Grand Wagoneer among the ten classic cars worth reviving. Jeep's owner, AMC, created a Grand Wagoneer by making the original Jeep design more car-like and adding luxury features like artificial wood trim and a new grille to the old body-on-frame platform. With the automobile's primitive engineering, the Grand Wagoneer is a luxury sport utility vehicle for people who can't afford -- or don't want to be seen in -- a Cadillac Escalade.

jeep wagoneer

Jeep Grand Wagoneer, a classic automobile

Regarding current asking prices for Jeep Grand Wagoneers, the range is wide. As of this writing the range for a 1989 Grand Wagoneer can vary from $10,000 to $29,000 depending on condition and restoration. The higher figure represents a Grand Wagoneer with a rebuilt engine, brakes and suspension. The car has about 57,000 miles.

We also see a low mileage (48,000) 1988 Grand Wagoneer being offered for $49,000 and a 1988 Grand Wagoneer with 83,000 miles with a price tag of $27,900 as well as a 1990 Jeep Grand Wagoneer with 104,000 miles with an asking price of $12,750. This model has dual Exhaust with Hedman Hedders, Magnaflow performance exhaust, and an Edelbrock 4-bbl carburetor.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline)

A Rare 1981 “DMC-12” DeLorean

What was billed as the DeLorean sports car is rare only in as much as only about 8,500 units were built. Like the Tucker car, the DeLorean came and went in a flash, although many more DeLorean DMC-12's were produced that the fifty odd Tuckers. Some might say that the DeLorean was the world's most notorious car since the Tucker.

delorean dmc 12

DeLorean DMC 12

To be sure, the DeLorean was an eye catcher in 1981 although it's trademark gullwing doors were first introduced by Mercedes. The Delorean's engine was rear mounted and the inner body was fiberglass constructed while the outer panels were made of stainless steel.

John Z. DeLorean

In all probability, the DeLorean DMC-12 sports car has collector appeal that's a bit different than the ordinary. When you talk about the DeLorean automobile you're talking about it's founder, John Z. DeLorean, a one time "golden boy" of General Motors.

DeLorean was the executive at GM behind the Pontiac GTO of the 1960's. Some of his other attributes included but not limited to creating the overhead-cam engine, concealed windshield wipers, the lane-change turn signal, vertically stacked headlights, racing stripes and an emphasis on cockpitlike driver consoles. DeLorean claimed to have over 200 patents.

delorean sports car

Stainless steel outer body of the DeLorean DMC-12

DeLorean's automotive career was both brilliant and troubled. At one time many actually thought that John Z. DeLorean would take over the helm at General Motors. For a variety of reasons, mainly political, he didn't. Instead, DeLorean left GM and formed his own automobile company.

While this was a surprise to some, others knew of the politics of the time at GM and were not surprised to see the golden boy who went against the GM grain depart. Possibly DeLoreans well known flamboyance created more than a few foes at GM.

The DeLorean DMC-12

The DeLorean Motor Company was formed in 1975 with the help of funds from the British government. The plan was to build cars in Northern Ireland near Belfast with a six building manufacturing plant while creating some 2,000 jobs.

The design of the DeLorean DMC-12 took about seven years to complete and was mostly designed by Bill Collins, another former engineer from GM. The idea was to have a relatively economical sports car with a lot of innovation. Eventually the design was reworked by Lotus of England. The DeLorean DMC-12 was the company's first and only model.

delorean dmc 12 interior photo

Interior of the 1981 DeLorean DMC-12

Trouble Came Quickly

Production of the DMC-12 was originally planned to begin in 1979 but because of engineering delays and cost overruns the production was delayed until 1981. Cost overruns would hammer the new automaker during it's entire short life. The cost overruns meant that the DeLorean had a price tag of $25,000. A very high price tag in 1981 for a relatively low powered sports car. The DMC-12 was rated at Zero to 60 at about 10 seconds. Not exactly a 1981 muscle car.

The price was thousands more than what was in the business plan and the initial reception by the media and the public was mixed, most likely because of the price tag versus performance.

Even though the DeLorean DMC-12 was promoted very heavily, sales never met expectations. In addition there were many fixes required because of assembly problems.

Cash was getting tight and the British government was putting pressure on DeLorean to raise more financing. Everything really came to a head when John Z. DeLorean was indicted on drug charges after a federal drug sting which was videotaped. DeLorean was cleared of those charges but there were also accusations that DeLorean bilked some investors. As a result of all this the DeLorean Motor Company went bankrupt in 1982.

1981 delorean

1981 DeLorean

It was said that when the company went bankrupt there were about 1,200 vehicles in production that ended up being sold for about $6,000 under the sticker price.

1981 DeLorean DMC-12 Specifications

The DMC-12 was built with a light alloy V-6 engine.

The transmission was a choice of a five speed fully synchronized manual or a three speed automatic.

Brakes were power assisted discs on all four wheels.

Suspension in the front consisted of unequal length wishbones and coil boxed spring, telescopic shock absorbers and anti-roll bar. Rear suspension were diagonal trailing radius arms with upper and lower links, coil spring with telescopic shock absorbers.

The DeLorean DMC-12's overall length was 168.0 inches. The wheelbase was 94.8 inches, the width 78.3 inches and the height 44.88 inches. Ground clearance in the front was 5.6 inches and 6.10 inches in the rear.

See the AutoMuseumOnline articles on the links below...

The 1962 Porsche Carrera 2

1989 Lamborghini Countach

The 1969 De Tomaso Mangusta

A good book regarding John Z. DeLorean, his career and the DeLorean DMC-12 is Dream Maker: The Rise and Fall of John Z. DeLorean by authors Ivan Fallon and James Srodes.

delorean dmc 12 sports car

Rear view of the DeLorean DMC-12

The DeLorean DMC-12 Collector Car

There are only two model years for the DeLorean DMC-12, 1981 and 1982. As mentioned above total production over the two years was about 8,500 units.

Today's asking prices for existing DMC-12's usually range from about $20,000 to $39,000. A lot will depend on miles and overall condition. We have also a museum quality model with very low mileage being priced in the $60,000 range.

Prices for the DeLorean will also vary widely on how much a collector wants the vehicle. There's obviously a lot of history connected to the car and the man and company it was named for. John Z. DeLorean made a name for himself and had numerous achievements while at General Motors but he is thought of more today due to his connection with the ill-fated DeLorean Motor Company.

The DeLorean DMC-12 is certainly not as rare or expensive as a Tucker car but it does represent a chapter in the history of the automobile industry.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline)