Think You Know Your Classic Cars?
Put your knowledge of vintage vehicles to the ultimate test with our tricky classic car quiz.
Classic Car Quiz
Can you identify this classic? Here are five hints:
1. This car’s maker started in 1899 in Warren, Ohio.
2. The company’s longtime slogan was “Ask the man who owns one.”
3. This model launched in 1935 as a mid-priced car, a step down from the company’s usual luxury niche.
4. The company merged with Studebaker in 1954.
5. During this car’s model year, Chrysler launched its famous Mopar brand.
Answer: 1937 Packard 120
My story is about the car that brought me home from the hospital where I was born in February 1937. Its claim to fame came a little more than two years later, in the summer of 1939, when it towed a new Cadillac out of Death Valley, California.
My parents, my grandmother and I had visited Scotty’s Castle, a landmark mansion in Death Valley. After touring the villa, my parents took many photos, which meant we were the last visitors to drive off the grounds that day.
Not far down the rural two-lane road, we came across a couple in a disabled Cadillac. As my father rolled to a stop, the young man rushed over to say their car had broken down while they were headed to the castle to see a friend who worked there. He asked my father to stop at the Furnace Creek Inn, where the man and his wife were staying, and tell the desk clerk to send a tow truck. My father, who always helped everyone, offered to save them the wait and tow their car back to Furnace Creek himself.
Father pulled our car in front of the Cadillac and got a tow chain out of our trunk—he always came prepared! He hitched the two cars together and, driving slowly and carefully, towed the Cadillac some 20 miles across the desert to the hotel.
When we arrived at the inn, the young wife, who seemed overcome by the strain, sighed with relief.
I hope that couple had a long, happy life together. I now own the car that towed them out of the desert, and it’s still pulling its weight after all these years. —Dixie Starr, San Jose, California
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Mystery Classic #2
1. The manufacturer’s advertising once tied the brand to baseball, hot dogs and apple pie.
2. This model made its debut as a personal luxury coupe in 1970.
3. The final assembly point for this vehicle was in Fremont, California.
4. The model was redesigned to make its third-generation debut for the model year shown.
5. That year, Ford recalled 1.9 million Pintos and Mercury Bobcats to fix a fuel tank flaw that increased the risk of fire in rear-end collisions.
Classic #2: 1978 Monte Carlo
“My mother, Lorraine Fischer, bought this beautiful car brand new when she was in her 60s. It actually was her second choice. She first picked out a Chevy Nova but returned it, saying ‘it had trouble making it up a hill.’ She wanted something with more power. This two-tone beauty caught her eye, and it was love at first sight. It turned out to have all the power she wanted.” —Linda Dills
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Mystery Classic #3
1. The industrialist who founded this motor company said he got the idea for its famous “bowtie” logo from the wallpaper design in a Paris hotel.
2. The year this car was built, Nash-Kelvinator merged with the Hudson Motor Car Co. to form American Motors.
3. This model was the top of the line for the automaker, which also offered midline 210 models and no-frills 150s.
4. The two-door body style featured a special hardtop roofline treatment introduced a few years earlier.
Classic #3: 1954 Chevrolet Bel Air
“Michelle [my wife] and I have won many trophies at car shows, and our retro car has been featured in Betty Ace Broads & Rods magazine, on the custom-car website Cool Rides Online, and in a classic car insurance ad. Our mascot, Duke, a stuffed German shepherd, always rides in the backseat. This is our dream car, and we love it!” —Ted MacHugo
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Mystery Classic #4
1. The vehicle was manufactured in South Bend, Indiana.
2. The model name is also a title for an elected official.
3. The manufacturer ceased making automobiles in 1966.
4. It retailed for around $2,500.
5. The year this car was built, racer A.J. Foyt achieved his first victory as a professional driver.
Classic #4: 1957 Studebaker President
“In 1990, I bought this sedan, made by the same manufacturer as our old family car, from a World War II veteran who had acquired it in an estate sale.” —Edward Lemansi
Read the incredible story of a man who missed out on his dream car as a teenager—then found it parked in his driveway 25 years later!
Mystery Classic #5
1. The manufacturer celebrated its 40th anniversary the year this model was introduced.
2. Priced around $2,350, it was the company’s most luxurious model, featuring full-time power steering and a 150-horsepower V-8 engine.
3. It established 198 new AAA stock-car performance and endurance records at the Bonneville Salt Flats—reportedly more than any other standard American car.
4. The year it hit the market, a convertible model of this car served as the Indy 500 pace car.
5. The auto came in 11 new colours and 14 two-tone combinations.
Classic #5: 1954 Dodge Royal
“John Rowerdink still remembers the day that he first set eyes on this car, which his father, Cornelius, ought in Bismarck, North Dakota. It was love at first sight. ‘I was 10 years old,’ John recalls. ‘I still remember getting up and seeing that brand-new car parked in the backyard. It really made an impression on me.'”
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Mystery Classic #6
1. The maker is often popularly known as FoMoCo, its acronym.
2. Automotive tycoon Walter P. Chrysler bought the company in 1928.
3. This was the final year for a body style that had debuted in 1957.
4. The model had the options of a 292-cubic-inch V8 engine or a 223-cubic-inch six.
5. The maker boasted in its advertising that its trucks “cost less.”
Classic #6: 1960 Ford F100
I tracked down the owner at a local bar, and we settled on a price of $1,000. I spent the next six years restoring it to factory condition, specifications, and colour with original replacement parts. I had to range far and wide for those parts, including a tailgate and bumper I shipped in from North Carolina. The cab headliner is an original factory replacement, as are the radio antenna and cab floor mat. —Fred Duersch Jr.
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Mystery Classic #7
1. Chrysler Corp. launched this marque in 1928.
2. For years, the brand used a stylized Mayflower as its logo.
3. This was the last model year for the marque’s 201-cubic-inch engine.
4. It was the first model year in which station wagon buyers could specify the colour of the wood body panels—maple or mahogany.
5. This was the top-of-the-line model for the year.
Classic #7: 1941 Plymouth P12 Special Deluxe
We’ve had this wooden-bodied Eddins blue station wagon in the family since it was new, affectionately calling it the Banana Wagon. My uncle bought it at C.E. Fay Co. on Boston’s famed Automobile Row along Commonwealth Avenue.
The car still runs almost like new these many years later and has just over 56,000 original miles on it. It has a three-speed column shifter; the straight six-cylinder engine runs very smoothly and has never been taken apart. In cold weather the car rattles, but in humid summer weather, when the wood swells, it is tighter.
The car is largely unrestored and has always been garaged and maintained. The wood is original and sound but was stripped of its old yellowed varnish and refinished in the early 1990s. The front seat was reupholstered, and several years ago we replaced the car’s canvas roof. —Christopher Morss
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Mystery Classic #8
1. Ads associated the marque with baseball, hot dogs and apple pie.
2. The model is named after an African antelope.
3. The model name includes a designation for this car’s two-door hardtop body style.
4. This model’s taillight design departed from the previous year’s.
5. It was built the year Lee Petty won the first Daytona 500 in a photo finish.
Classic #8: 1959 Chevy Impala Sport Coupe
As a kid growing up near the corner of Rosemont and Warren in Detroit, I used to hang around the older guys and their hot rods. Those guys were generous to a squirt like me—they’d let me sit in their cars and pretend I was driving and shifting gears. They had ’49 Fords, ’50s Chevrolets, and old pickup trucks. I know that was the beginning of my love of hot-rodding.
I’ve had several classic cars since those childhood days, but this one is my favorite. I pursued this red beauty for almost three years before the man who’d owned it for 19 years decided to sell it when he moved into a condo. This is a beautiful, sleek automobile, with styling all its own. It comes from an era when there was a passion for design, a special point in time when the outrageous tail fins of the 1950s met the Space Age, with its rocket and sputnik design cues. —Gary Pietraniec
Mystery Classic #9
1. The automobile manufacturer was headquartered in South Bend, Indiana.
2. The company began as a blacksmith shop that made horse-drawn wagons and eventually carriages.
3. The model name is a synonym for hero or title holder.
4. The 1947 model line introduced an aeronautical theme under the slogan “First by far with a postwar car.”
5. The year after this car was built, the manufacturer celebrated its 100th anniversary.
Classic #9: 1951 Studebaker Champion Custom
My sister Valerie, who is 10 years older than me, had a similar model. She drove it until the head gasket gave way. The defunct car sat in our driveway, though I would pretend to drive it and dream about how I would fix it up one day. Little did I know that I would have to wait decades for the opportunity after my dad finally sold Valerie’s car for parts.
I saw this one several years ago sitting in the previous owner’s driveway. Bud had gotten it from his father, who had gotten it from his father, who’d bought it new. I’ve been attracted to the brand all my life, so I bought Bud’s car as a project for my retirement. It sports the iconic styling that comes to mind when people think of the make. Bud’s was a basic model with little chrome; its only original option was an electric wiper motor. No radio, not even a heater—when I say “basic,” I’m not exaggerating. So when I bought it, the car needed just about everything.
I figured it deserved to come back better than original. Now it looks more like a deluxe model, with lots of chrome, wide whitewalls, deluxe hubcaps, and power everything. It has heat and air conditioning. People often ask me if I did all the work, and my favorite response is “No, but I wrote all the checks.” —Jon Stalnaker
Don’t miss this impressive 1952 Studebaker restoration.
Mystery Classic #10
1. The maker was named for an Ottawa chief who led an alliance of tribes against the British in the 18th century.
2. The four-cylinder engine was dubbed the Iron Duke.
3. Developers considered the model name Pegasus, which survived in the car’s equine logo.
4. The car’s name is the Italian word for proud.
5. During this car’s model year, GM bought Electronic Data Systems, placing future presidential candidate H. Ross Perot on its board of directors.
Classic #10: 1984 Pontiac Fiero
A short time before I retired, my wife, Nancy, and I began looking for a collector car we could enjoy on what would soon be a limited budget. This one was a perfect choice because it shares many parts with other models from this manufacturer, so they are easy to find at local auto parts stores.
We found this one for sale on Craigslist at a reasonable price, with only 50,000 miles on it. The original owner had put it in storage when he started fixing up Corvettes and never bothered to sell it. The car had been unregistered for so long that it had been dropped from the Department of Motor Vehicles’ listings. It had no history on Carfax.
This model, which was in production from 1984 to 1988, has the honour of being the only American-made mid-engine car ever to go into mass production. (The Chevrolet Corvair had a rear-engine design). —Anthony Bauman
Mystery Classic #11
1. Cale Yarborough drove one for the first two of his three NASCAR Winston Cup championships.
2. A high-performance package was an option for three model years.
3. NASCAR effectively banned it after the 1977 season because of its aerodynamic styling.
4. A 454 big-block engine was an option in the first two years of the run.
5. The model is named for a beach in Orange County, California.
Classic #11: 1976 Chevelle Laguna Type S-3
Almost 40 years ago my wife and I were looking for a midsize car to avoid having to use our gas-guzzling, full-size station wagon all the time. We couldn’t afford a new car, but wanted something recent with few obvious problems. We looked around local car lots and found nothing we wanted, so I turned to our local buy-or-sell weekly.
An ad for a two-door midsize car with low miles caught my eye. I still recall the woman telling me that the car “absolutely MUST be sold this weekend.” To me, that meant “price very negotiable,” so I headed to her house.
My pulse quickened when I saw that the vehicle was no plain-Jane model, but a limited edition. It had an optional 400-cubic-inch V-8 along with a sport roof and body striping. The ad hadn’t mentioned any of these features, nor had the seller when I’d spoken to her earlier.
In fact, when I got there the seller apologized for the large engine and its lackluster fuel economy. My reason for car shopping in the first place, fuel efficiency, was now forgotten as I coveted this low-mileage beauty. After a short test drive, I tried to wear my best poker face as I made my offer. She quickly agreed. I really can’t say which of us was the happiest at that moment! —Ben Shipe
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Mystery Classic #12
1. This make’s logo had an image of the Mayflower.
2. The gearshift lever on the steering column was an innovation for this upscale model.
3. The trunk lid has a bulge for extra storage space.
4. This model was designed with four wing-vent windows, one for each door.
5. This was the last model year before automakers were required to use sealed-beam headlamps
Classic #12: 1939 Plymouth De Luxe Touring Sedan
The object mounted on the right side of my car that looks like a miniature jet engine is a type of air conditioner called an evaporative cooler, popularly known as a swamp cooler.
Here’s how it works: As the car moves, air hits the intake and passes through a moistened pad before entering the car. As the moisture evaporates, it cools the air. Swamp coolers were popular aftermarket accessories before factory air conditioning became available, especially in arid climates where they’re most effective. A bag hanging from the front bumper holds water for the cooler’s reservoir.
I got the cooler from a seller in Arizona, but I bought the car in Danville, Illinois, nearly 30 years ago. After we closed the deal, I drove it the 120 miles home to the Chicago area. It was in such good shape, it needed only a paint job to bring it back to looking like new.
This car appeared in two films in 1992—A League of Their Own with Geena Davis and Tom Hanks, and The Public Eye with Joe Pesci—and once again in 2006, in director Clint Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima. —Charles Rouse
Scoring well so far? See if you can guess the decade these iconic photos were taken.
Mystery Classic #13
1. The automaker’s flagship hub is known as the River Rouge complex.
2. A letter to the maker—said to be from bank robber Clyde Barrow but unverifiable—calls the V-8 “a fine car.”
3. A less popular 60-horsepower version didn’t last.
4. The maker used a play on its name to identify all its four-door sedans.
5. This model year was the first that the manufacturer incorporated a car’s headlights into the front fender.
Classic #13: 1937 Ford Standard Model 78 Slantback
Most anything automotive holds a fascination for me, but as a member of the pre-baby-boom generation, my first and biggest love always has been for vehicles like this one. To me, they have the cleanest and prettiest lines.
When I learned in 2013 of a restored one for sale in a neighboring county, I was determined to find out everything I could about it.
These models were frequently used by law officers because of their no-frills price and powerful engine. This one is equipped with an 85-horsepower flathead V-8 for chasing down bad guys.
M.G. Sams, former sheriff of Fayette County, Georgia, where I live, had owned this car in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The man who restored the car in the 1980s discovered that the lower half of all four doors had been filled with concrete to stabilize the car while in hot pursuit of lawbreakers on Georgia’s dirt roads.
I bought it, brought it back to its original home county and added sheriff’s stars to the doors and trunk. I took it to many car shows, where it was always popular.
Today, the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office owns the vehicle, which appears in parades and other events. Seniors around town love to recount stories of seeing it in action back in the day. —Doug Fields
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Mystery Classic #14
1. The company was formed in a 1954 merger, the largest in U.S. history to that date.
2. The original concept car had a compact chassis and was dubbed the Tarpon.
3. CEO Roy Abernethy scrapped the original concept and had it redesigned on a midsize chassis.
4. Ads said the model offered “man-size comfort.”
5. The car shown was built in the model’s first year.
Classic #14: 1965 Rambler Marlin
My wife, Theresa, and I bought this car off the showroom floor at Warner’s Auto Sales in Fergus Falls, Minnesota.
We intended to buy a popular sedan the manufacturer offered, but Warner’s was out of them. This model, though, was built on the same chassis and had all the sedan features I was looking for, just in a spiffier package. This was the maker’s answer to the Ford Mustang fastback.
Only about 10,000 were built in the year ours came off the assembly line. It’s one of the first American cars to have front disc brakes as standard equipment; it also has fully reclining bucket seats and an overdrive manual transmission with an unusual twin-stick floor shifter.
We ended up buying it as an end-of-season closeout. While the car gets pampered now, it was our daily driver for seven years, and it suffered the typical wear and tear of most family vehicles—and once, a not-so-typical treatment.
Its only accident happened around Christmastime a few short months after we bought it. After attending a performance of Handel’s Messiah, my wife and her friends stopped for lunch at a cafe, and someone backed into the right front fender in the restaurant’s parking lot.
The atypical treatment? That was courtesy of two of our five children. I walked into the garage one day to find the car’s back fender covered with gravel and our 4-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter doing a soft-shoe routine on top of it.
Fortunately, our local body shop repaired the damaged finish. And, incidentally, neither child grew up to dance professionally, on cars or anywhere else, although our daughter has turned out to be very fussy about her own car. —Virgil Fults
Mystery Classic #15
1. This make is a contender for the best-selling domestic auto brand in the U.S.
2. The “stovebolt” overhead-valve six-cylinder engine was the only type offered in this make for more than 25 years.
3. This model was the very top of the line.
4. The vertical bar bisecting the grille is one of the few changes from the prior model year.
5. In this model year, Preston Tucker tried without success to bring his innovative car design to market.
Classic #15: 1948 Chevy Fleetline Aerosedan
Our family’s connection to this vehicle began in 1967. I needed a second car for my job, and so a friend offered to sell me this one for $200. I used it for work for three years until I decided a pickup truck would be better. I parked this in the garage, where it sat for five years. One day I decided to try to get it started. I put a fresh battery in it, and it fired right up.
I used to drive our daughter all over in it when she was a toddler. I’d hold her with one arm and steer with the other. If she was out of sorts, we’d go for a ride and she’d settle down. When she got married, she asked me if we could use the car in her wedding. And so we did.
While he was in college, our son had a summer job at our local country club, which by coincidence was founded the year the car was built. One day he was unable to find a parking space, so he parked the car on the grass. People assumed that it was there as a prop to celebrate the club’s anniversary. Some folks offered to buy it, but I wasn’t selling. —James Beck
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Mystery Classic #16
1. When this was built, George Romney was in his last year as head of the manufacturer.
2. The company was formed in 1954 by the merger of Nash-Kelvinator Corp. and Hudson Motor Car Co.
3. This model’s name was part of its corporate parent’s title.
4. The engine series was dubbed the Flying Scot to emphasize its thriftiness.
5. The marque was first used from 1904 through 1913.
Classic #16: 1962 Rambler American
While I was in the Navy stationed at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station in Washington, I bought my first new car. Later I was transferred to San Diego, and I met Katy, my future wife. I told her I had a new car back home and, knowing sailors, she didn’t believe me at first.
After we married we put all our belongings into the car and moved back to the Seattle area, where I was stationed on a submarine in the Bremerton shipyard. Two years later our son was born, and the car proved too small for all the baby items. We traded it in for a station wagon.
I always longed to get another car like my first, but I never saw one for sale until 2015, when I spotted this one sitting along the road. I showed it to my wife, who said she “wouldn’t own that rust bucket on a bet.”
I bought it the next day. I kept it a secret for nine months while I fixed it up, giving it a new interior and paint. Then, on our 52nd anniversary, I told Katy I was taking her to lunch. Earlier that day, I’d had my brother-in-law drive the car over and park it in front of our house.
“Look,” Katy said, “there’s a car exactly like the one we owned on our wedding day. I wonder whose it is?” “Yours,” I told her. “That’s the rust bucket you wouldn’t own on a bet.” She looked as if she might faint. All she could say was “Oh, my God,” over and over. Since then I have taken it to three car shows; it took second among the top 10 best cars in our local show last October. —James Jans
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Mystery Classic #17
1. The maker offered its flagship chassis in three body styles: Customline, Mainline and this one, named for the founder’s Dearborn, Michigan, estate.
2. The distinctive stainless steel rooftop tiara merited a reference to royal headgear.
3. This luxurious model shared a feminine appellation with a long-reigning British monarch.
4. The maker dropped the tiara in the third model year.
5. One limited edition version of the model featured a transparent, tinted roof panel.
Classic #17: 1956 Ford Fairlane Crown Victoria
Almost as far back as I can remember, I have loved this model’s perfect lines and fancied owning one. Over the years, I’ve owned three, including the top-of-the-line version that I still have.
The version I still own was dubbed the Easter car because the polished stainless steel tiara across the roof gave it the appearance of an Easter basket with a handle. And the factory options for pastel colours—yellow, pink, green, blue, orange—put an exclamation point on the nickname.
Mine is from the second year of production for the Easter car, when about one-fourth as many cars were produced as in the introductory year. So the second-year model, with updates like heavier stainless and chrome and a larger engine, is more desirable to collectors.
It had the new “lifeguard design” features—deep-dish steering wheel, padded dash, and seat belt options. Many (including me) regard this as one of the most beautiful cars ever produced for the average driver. Back then it sold for about $2,400. —Ken Colbert
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Mystery Classic #18
1. The maker is the namesake of its co-founder, a Swiss-born race car driver.
2. The maker launched this model in 1953 and dubbed it “America’s sports car.”
3. The model body has been made of fiberglass/composite material throughout its production.
4. For this model year, the maker dropped its rounded tail in favor of a ducktail design.
5. A car from this model year starred in the first season of the TV series Route 66.