Wednesday, September 19, 2012


I could make a pretty long list of cars I'd love to own. Over the next little while, I'm going to try to list the cars I could own - modern, affordable autos that I'm hoping to actually drive once I'm a licensed driver. But then there's the dream garage, the long line of gleaming holy grails that sit, gassed up and ready to go, in the heated warehouse in your mind.

Kind of like Jay Leno's collection. I don't understand why people give Leno stick - he's as rich as Croesus, and he spends his money on something he loves, and which he's happy to take out and enjoy in public, at parking lot car meets and auto shows all over California, and God bless him for that. Also, one day he'll have to get rid of all these cars, and they'll be out in the wild again, beautifully restored, and ready for new owners to ride and enjoy (or hoard and display. Whatever - it's their money.)

He's an amiable soul, so pretty much anyone with an interesting ride wants to bring them to his garage to get immortalized, and I was happy to see that Jonathan Ward from Icon brought one of his Derelicts to Leno. I love what Ward does - re-building classic 4x4s with updated components and drivetrains to make them safer and better, but it's his Derelicts that really excite me.

If I was a rich man, this is the car I'd buy in a minute, before the Shelby Mustang and the Fiat Dino and the 1940 Ford V8 coupe. The Chrysler/De Soto bastard wagon that Ward brought to Leno - his daily driver - has a modern chassis and Dodge engine inside, with updated brakes and suspension. He's even put in new climate controls and a stereo/Bluetooth.

There are some eccentric touches all over the rebuild, but the interior is restored to look like your Great-Uncle Jim took really, really good care of the car he bought new in 1954. I'd love to see what he could do with a 1940 Ford V8 coupe, but since prices on the website are by inquiry only, I can't imagine that I'll ever have the cash for this sort of thing.

Ward took the Chrysler/De Soto Derelict to Adam Carolla's Carcast, and showed it off in a bit more detail. He's adamant that it's not a "rat rod," and while I think he's drawing an unnecessary line in the car geek sand, I can see his point. This is not a car meant to scare passersby or evoke some Mad Max gas-pirate future, but a shrine to the wistful possibilities we imagine when we walk through a junkyard and see some pitiful heap slowly returning to the earth.

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