What’s in a Box? (Pt. 1)

Recently we have seen many styles of cars brought back to life that were popular in the heyday of muscle cars and no fuel emission standards.  The Mustang, Camaro, Challenger and Charger all come directly to mind when thinking about the styles that have come back to life.  Have you ever thought of the Scion xB or Nissan Cube as retro cars?  It might be a bit of stretch on these two specifically, but cars of previous decades were also squared off like these two and considered to be boxy in style.  For whatever reason; practicality or style, it was certainly hip to be square in the 70’s and 80’s and here are several from those eras that were some of the best boxes on wheels.

Volvo 240

The Volvo 240 was the original Volvo boxy wagon and became highly popular due to the safety offered for this great car.  Even though these bests were somewhat small, the trunks were huge and the power became pretty strong after a time.  This car was built from 1975-1993 and prowled many streets in several countries during its time.  A run to sixty mph in a wagon under eight seconds and a 71 cubic foot trunk made these cars fun to drive.


The M3 brought in crisp, clean lines, a smooth look and in a black finish nearly looked like a spy machine.  This car was a fantastic performance model and the original E30 ran from 1988-1991 giving us a car worth our attention. With only a turbocharged four-cylinder engine under the hood, this car produced 200 horsepower which was awesome in the late 1980’s considering the Corvette of the time was only pushing out 240 from a mighty V8.  This was a car built for the track and one of the marque vehicles for handling of its time.

Mercedes-Benz 500E

What made Mercedes-Benz popular in the luxury sedan world; the mini wipers on the headlights of course.  Other than this understandably unnecessary feature, the W124 series E-Class offered angles and sharp edges that were uncommon on Mercedes-Benz vehicles.  This model ran from 1991-1994 and shows up as one of the best build and most durable cars of the era.  This model was the collaboration between Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, and became their performance model long before AMG ever became a part of Mercedes-Benz.  The 500E offered 322 horsepower from its V8 engine which was strong enough to reach sixty mph in only 5.5 seconds.

Jeep Cherokee

Not that Jeep hasn’t kept a majority of its square shape over the year but this Cherokee was one that offered outstanding performance on and off the road.  The unibody construction that ran from 1984-2001 is still a fan favorite as a great vehicle to build and extreme off roading machine from.  This XJ model was highly capable and the perfect vehicle for camping, fishing and many other outdoor adventures but was only offered in the two-door version.

Chevrolet Blazer

The big and beefy Blazer was one of the most popular SUVs ever on the market.  From 1969-1972 it actually had curves, but starting in 1973 the Blazer was square and stout as a truck that would be a proud and loud performer on and off the road.  As a direct competitor to the Jeep brand, the Blazer in this second generation unit lasted a full eighteen year and even was the basis for the military M1009 vehicle that offered a diesel powered V8.

Dodge Spirit R/T

When you see vehicles from the mid-‘80’s into the early 1990’s you see almost all cars were front wheel drive.  This was certainly the case from Chrysler who only held onto a rear drive platform in the Viper.  The Spirit benefited from the K-Platform and the power from the 2.2-liter turbocharged engine which brought in 224 horsepower and was able to make the run to sixty mph in only 5.8 seconds.  This compared to the Corvette of the day which had a time of 5.2 seconds.

Ford Mustang LX 5.0 Notchback

For some reason Ford abandoned a sports car style in the Mustang and came up with the old Fox platform to fit this car from 1979-1993.  This model was the only one of the three versions (hatchback, convertible, notchback) that has an actual trunk on it.  Even though the Mustang wasn’t much to look at it still offered a huge punch with the 5.0-liter V8 engine, allowing owners of this version of the Mustang to sneak up on other sports cars and leave them standing at the line.

Land Rover Defender

A box on wheels that has been the pinnacle of off road performance for many years, Land Rover has been leading the charge for those who want to experience extreme off road excitement.  This box on wheels from 1993-1997 was even equipped to handle being submerged to a point with its engine breathing snorkel that reached up over the top of the roof.  The Defender was powered by a 215 cubic inch V8 from Buick that gave it plenty of power and allowed Land Rover to continue to build on its reputation for being at the top of its game when it came to outdoor adventure.

This is part 1 of a 3 part series. Stay tuned for the next installments!


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