PCH, Factory Supercharger Edition: Kaiser Manhattan or VW Corrado G60?

It would appear that sheer number of doors trumps all other factors when it comes time to pick an airport limo for your next punitive project car, as evidenced by the results of yesterday's Choose Your Eternity poll. And I've got to admit that I almost didn't include the Hexador Suburban... because I was calculating how hard it would be to go up to Boise and get it for myself (still bummed that I didn't buy the 20R-powered Sprite in the first PCH). And today we have another car that presented such a dilemma... but then I came to my senses and remembered that I'm holding out for a Warsaw Pact hot rod project: Zaporozhets with Tatra drivetrain.


The steel company that became a shipbuilding company that became a healthcare company also built cars for a while during the car-hungry era right after World War II. Some of their cars came with McCullough superchargers installed, which was sort of like putting a nuclear reactor in a Liberty ship (here's an interesting article about the blown Kaisers, by the way). And, well, when I saw this 1954 Kaiser Manhattan (go here if the ad disappears) with factory supercharger for a mere $3,000, I almost drove straight to Fresno to get it... until the Commie virus that's taken over my brain steered me back to the idea of getting a Tatra 503-powered ZAZ, that is. But: a supercharged '54 Kaiser! And just look at that thing- why, the right side and front look pretty good, and it appears to have a front seat, so it's 14% of the way there to being a nice running, driving machine! Not only that, you get "a few boxes of extra parts," which may or may not have some association with the car. Just imagine driving this Kaiser with way, way more boost than ol' Henry ever intended for that engine and that garish two-tone paint job restored to its former glory!

Thing is, who drives 1954 cars these days? That's right, really obsessive guys who hang out at car shows and cruise nights and who get a menacing look in their eyes, punctuated by scary facial tics, when you don't acknowledge that their personal machine was the Greatest Engineering Achievement of All Time. Do you want to be one of them? Sure, not all drivers of 50+-year-old hardware are like that, but you'd be on the safe side by going with a more modern factory-supercharged car. For example, you could get this 1990 Volkswagen Corrado G60 (go here if the ad disappears) for the amazingly low price of $2,500. Yes, a blown front-drive European car- if you Taurus SHO guys think you know torque steer, just try driving one of these after the boost has been jacked up a few extra notches... and that's what you'll want to do when you get this Corrado. Of course, you'd have to fix all the stuff that doesn't work first; the seller doesn't list them, because he or she doesn't have to! You know the electrical system is dodgy, and the aftermarket mods paint a vivid picture of this car's recent history: the seller's mouth frozen in mid-"Oooohhh shiiiit!" as the tach needle hovers a grand over redline and the mall-parking-lot light pole emerges from the tire smoke and heads straight for the front left fender... the seller's friends capturing the action on their cellphone cameras. Yes, that's the picture, and that means every component that ever dealt with engine torque, from axles to main bearings, is hovering on the edge of failure. But who cares? Imagine driving this Corrado after you've exorcised the demons and fixed all the broken stuff- it'll be off the scale of the Fun-O-Meter!

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