PCH, Fear And Loathing On The Campaign Trail '72 Edition: Mercury Cougar Or Volvo 1800ES?

In possibly the most humiliating defeat for France since the whole Algerian débâcle, a French car lost a Project Car Hell challenge to American machinery, with the '61 Simca Aronde getting crushed beneath the rusted hulks of a pair of Lincoln Continentals... and that's with the Simca getting some help from one of the finest PCH commenter tirades we've ever seen (notice hereby given: Graverobber has raised the Commenter Tirade Bar to hitherto unprecedented levels). We'll need to give France a chance to regain its former PCH glory very soon, but we're going to get all political-journalist on your ass with today's choices.


I'm not one of those guys (and they're all guys) who blindly worship every mark that the dope-palsied hand of Hunter S. Thompson ever set on paper, but when the man was on, he was really on (insert rant here about annoying HST wannabes who focus on the lifestyle instead of the writing). Fear And Loathing On The Campaign Trail '72 stands as one of the finest works of American political journalism ever written. It's so good, in fact, that we can disregard all the weaker stuff Thompson wrote when he became a parody of himself in later years and lost the ability to meet any sort of deadline. In the book, Thompson refers to several vehicles he drove while covering the 1972 presidential race, and since the current contest features a pair of candidates who differ as widely as Richard M. Nixon and George McGovern did back then, it seems only right to grab a couple of the cars from the book for today's challenge.

Thompson rented an "Auto/Stick Cougar" in Washington DC, a car "built by junkies to teach the rest of us a lesson." While it's possible that rental car companies were using '71 or maybe even '73 models in the fall of 1972, we're going to assume it was a '72 and go with this 1972 Mercury Cougar, which is priced at a price that will inspire very little fear or loathing: a thousand bucks! The seller figures it's best to let the grainy, ill-focused photos tell the whole story, with "72 cougar,351ci-runs-needs some work" being the only description. But what more do you need? You'll be spitting hot black divots all over the road when you get a 460 in this thing!

Thompson arrived in DC behind the wheel of a brand-new Volvo wagon issued to him by Rolling Stone; there's no mention of whether it was a boring ol' 145 or a snazzy 1800ES, so we're going with the latter option. Yes, you'll suddenly find yourself aiming a .44 Magnum at the Mojo Wire as it beeps, beeps, beeps for more copy once you buy this 1972 Volvo 1800ES... well, no you won't, because you'll need to get it running before you head off to stalk cover the '08 candidates. The transmission went bad last year and it hasn't run since, but the driver alleges that the engine "ran good" up to that point. There's rust. Parts are hard to find. Your project will be nothing next to what faces the guy who wins the ticket to the Oval Office, however, so keep that in mind as you shout into the phone to "Big Sven," your parts man in Malmö.

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