Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Clénet looks old school cool, but is actually less than forty years young and features a lot of modern amenities. Let’s see if this retro-ruling ride comes with a price tag that might make you want to put some class under your ass.
Soooo, fake Ferraris are not your thing, huh? Even though it was built on top of the last model year Fiero—and hence the best possible one to have—yesterday’s historically interesting but unfortunately flawed 1988 Pontiac Fiero Mera couldn’t catch a break.
You might have thought that looking like one of Ferrari’s prettier cars would have been in the Mera’s favor. Unfortunately for the seller, its $12,500 price tag was seen as woefully aspirational, and in the end it dropped in an overwhelming 90 percent Crack Pipe loss.
Okay, how about if we now class up the joint a bit?
I know that most neo-classic cars—makes like Zimmer and Classic Motor Carriages—can for the most part be pretty unappealing. Typically, those feature an unfortunate mix of rolling fenders and Tarantino-length hoods, all wrapped around a the center husk of some common-ass car like a Cougar or Mustang. The results are usually overwrought and stunningly tacky.
Neo-classics are often most successful when the conceptual vision is more fully realized and the modern bits are more cleverly hidden. That was the case with the original neo-classic, the Excalibur SS. That car was designed by legendary industrial designer Brooks Stevens, originally for Studebaker. Built on a Corvette frame, the swooping-fendered roadster earned a reputation for its style and, owing to its 300 horse ‘Vette drivetrain, its performance.
Another car company that went went to the well for its old school styling was Santa Barbra County-based Clénet Coachworks Inc. Founded in 1975 by a consortium led by namesake Alain Clénet, the company produced handful of coach-built cars throughout the late ‘70s and early ‘80s before financial difficulties eventually dragged everything to a halt. Once favored by celebrities in the TV, Movie and Music industries, the clutch of Clénets surviving today have a small but loyal following among those who appreciate the cars’ style, build quality, and panache.
This 1980 Clénet Series II is one such car. With its generous dimensions and stately paint job it also makes a pretty bold statement.
Now, you may be looking at the car and thinking to yourself that certain parts seem vaguely familiar. Let me help you out with that. The Clénet’s cabin, windscreen, doors and side glass are all sourced from the Volkswagen Super Beetle.
That allowed for the company to compress design, certification, and production time since much of the car’s more complicated elements—door latches, window winders, wipers, etc.—had already been engineered. The preceding two-seat Series I undertook a similar path, only using an MG Midget shell as its base.
Both Series I and II rode on a Mercury Marquis ladder frame chassis with coil-sprung solid axle in back and double A-arms up front. A Ford 351 Cleveland V8 was the only engine option or the car. That engine matched the car’s vintage style by only putting out 145 horsepower and a modest 270 lb-ft of torque. No, the Clénet isn’t going to perform like an Excalibur, but then it will still look just as classy.
This one is number 27 out of the 187 Series IIs constructed under Alain Clénet’s corporate leadership. Remarkably for such a unique ride, it’s a one-owner car.
The seller says this two-tone yellow and ebony-grey four-seater presents in excellent if not perfect condition. The paintwork is claimed to be in fine shape albeit exhibiting a few areas where it has been touched up. Details are not provided for those. Likewise, the top is described as functional but showing its age. Dayton wire wheels underpin and are dressed up by both Clénet center caps and narrow whitewall tires.
The interior looks to be in terrific shape. It features leather-wrapped Recaro seats up front and an expanse of Italian burlwood for the dash. One of the more interesting features here is the shifter for the Ford 4-speed AOD automatic. You might expect it and its gear indicator to reside on the steering column. Instead, the shifter sprouts from the dash from one of the holes otherwise occupied by gauges and vents. The PRNDL sits above that in a strip that also contains various warning lights. More leather and wood adorns the doors while deep pile carpet covers everything below sea level.
There’s a mere 69K on this Clénet’s clock and it’s seemingly in decent mechanical condition. At least the seller doesn’t mention any issue and honestly there’s pretty little to actually go wrong on a car with those ancient Marquis mechanicals. The title is clear and the car is classy AF.
With so few to go around, Clénets don’t trade hands all that frequently. As such, they do tend to command a premium when they do. This one, at $29,995 is actually among the cheaper options out there. The question for you of course, is whether or not it’s cheap enough.
What do you think, could this Clénet command that kind of cash? Or, is this neo-classic priced only for old money buyers?
H/T to RevUnlimiter for the hookup!
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