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This is where the Rabbit originated: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_K70
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On 2/26/2013 7:33 AM, Jim Wilkins wrote:

Alec Issigonis pretty much changed the car and car manufacturing. I used to have a 65 Austin America back in the early 70s. I told my wife that one of these days, all cars would be built with a transverse engine/transmission/drivetrain in a single package driving the front wheels. As usual, I was right.
There was a lot of hatred towards the idea but the progress of technology and economics is like a giant tidal wave. I wasn't a big fan of FWD but was able to see the writing on the wall. The other guys thought that they could cover the wall by closing their eyes and holding their fingers in their ears and stomping - always, they stomp. :-)
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On 2/26/2013 12:30 PM, dsi1 wrote:

For me, my Corvair Corsa has it right and all the frontsies are built backwards. If you like them, drive them. I don't.
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Andrew Muzi
<www.yellowjersey.org/>
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On 2/26/2013 9:54 AM, AMuzi wrote:

These days I'm too old to be concerned about which wheels have the power applied. The only thing I want is a reliable, cost effective, car that can move 4 persons in comfort. You are correct in assuming that I don't drive cars that I don't like.
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Ah, yes, the Austin America -- British Leyland's attempt at grabbing a piece of VW's 1960s action in the U.S. As I recall the Austin America actually debuted as a 1968 model, though a variation of it was sold as the "MG Sport Sedan" in the U.S. several years beforehand. (The Sport Sedan was a 4-door with 1100cc engine, the America a 2-door with 1300cc.)
Did it manage to get to 20k miles before needing a complete overhaul? :-) The 4-speed automatic transmissions were particularly problematical. The transmissions in these cars lived in the crankcase and worked with the engine oil. Clever packaging, but not a recipe for longevity.
The few Austin Americas that didn't have their drivetrains self-destruct just out of warranty crumbled to heaps of rust within a relatively few years. There's a reason that so few of those cars were sold and almost none survived! (Even at this late date original VW Beetles are not an uncommon sight. On the other hand, It has been decades since I've seen an Austin America.)
The Austin America was a very advanced car for its time, but could not compete at all with the relative anvil-like reliability of the antiquated VW Beetle.

You were wrong. :-) Although a popular configuration, far from "all cars" make use of it.
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On 2/26/2013 11:40 AM, Roger Blake wrote:

I don't know of anybody in America that thought these cars were very good. Perhaps it's different in the UK. No matter, the idea changed everything.

Your options for RWD cars are pretty good these days. Most of them are cars in the "sporty" and/or high-priced market luxury segments. If you just want a good old family car that an average Joe can afford, your choices are pretty limited. This is pretty much the way it's been since the 80s.
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It was a brilliant car from a purely technical standpoint but suffered mightily from poor excecution, spotty build quality, and nonexistent rustproofing. (In other words, a pretty typical BMC/British Leyland product. :-) The Austin America was heavily advertised in the U.S. as having a fully-automatic 4-speed transmission available, which was unheard of in a small import at the time. Even full-size Chevys were still using a 2-speed automatic back then. Unfortunately those transmissions, sharing the engine oil, frequently would not even make it through the warranty period without grenading, particulary given the typical American driver's penchant for skipping oil changes..
The transverse engine idea was actually introduced with the original Mini in 1959. The Austin America shared the same basic drivetrain but with a larger displacement engine, which is another reason so few are left -- many were tossed aside after the power unit was plucked to install in a Mini.
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On 2/26/2013 7:28 PM, Roger Blake wrote:

The hydro-elastic was pretty radical and cool too. It did have that nasty habit of uncontrolled steering oscillation but that was just part of the excitement of owning this FWD English car. You couldn't get that kind of fun from a rear drive MG or Spitfire - those had the self-jacking rear ends. :-)

That's right - we had the big Mini.
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On 2/27/2013 6:23 AM, dsi1 wrote:

Sorry, I meant hydro-elastic SUSPENSION. I guess the proper BMC or BLMC term would be "hydrolastic."
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On Wed, 27 Feb 2013 06:45:29 -1000, dsi1

The "self-jacking rear ends" were early Spitfires, not MGs. MGs were solid rear axles with semi-elliptics. Early Spitfires had swing axles.
You may be thinking of the first AH Sprites. They had quarter-elliptic springs and were almost self-steering (into the ditches on the side of the road) above 70 mph. No jacking, though.
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Ed Huntress

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On 2/27/2013 6:52 AM, Ed Huntress wrote:

You are correct. I should have said Spitfires and Corvairs. Sorry about that. The Spitfires were just spiffy but I only had live axle Fiats. The only question that I have is which cars leaked more oil - English or Italian? :-)

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Back in the sixties there was a whole range of similar hydroelastic cars of different sizes.
We had one of these.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:1966.morris.1100.arp.jpg
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The only reason front wheel drive cars exist is that they are cheaper to manufacture.
They will never handle as well as front /mid engine, rear wheel drive.
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If you want to remember a particularly shit car intended for America, how about this? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austin_Metropolitan
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On 2/26/2013 11:33 AM, Jim Wilkins wrote:

I don't remember seeing that vehicle being sold in The U.S. like the R10 was. The VW Rabbit I remember was a small two door front wheel drive car that showed up in The U.S. in the 1970's. ^_^
TDD
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On Tue, 26 Feb 2013 13:38:35 -0600, The Daring Dufas

It wasn't. Nor is it where the Rabbit "originated." The K70 was actually an NSU, much heavier than the Rabbit. The Rabbit was an all-new car, with an engine developed jointly with Audi.

It was. Starting in 1974. It was called the "Golf" in Europe. Later, the "Golf" name was adopted in the US, as well.
The Rabbit's dry weight was around 1,750 pounds (790 kg). The Renault R10 was identical in weight to the Rabbit.
FWIW, the old Beetles were somewhat lighter -- around 1,630 pounds for the 1200 cc (ended in 1964, IIRC).
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It morphed into the Passat/Dasher before coming here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Passat
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On 02-25-2013 17:49, Attila Iskander wrote:

Mine went a thousand miles between three-dollar fill-ups.
Drove forty miles inland to cross into Mexico without having to wait in line. One peso per liter, eighty-liter limit.
Stock tank held forty liters, but I put another forty liters in an add-on tank in the spare tire well. Piped so I could fill both through the stock tube, and empty both with the stock fuel pump.
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Wes Groleau

Don't get even — get odd!
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On 2/25/2013 11:40 AM, The Daring Dufas wrote:

I don't have any pie-in-the-sky idea that the electric car will solve the world's problems. Whatever gave you that idea? Beats the hell out of me how they're gonna generate all the electricity. My solution would be to build a shitload of nuke powerplants in Alaska and send the power South. I doubt that will happen but I don't believe that the technical problems are too big to solve. We built a frickin' interstate highway system out of practically nothing, didn't we? Now that must have seemed like an impossible task at the beginning.
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One Kwh takes me five miles in my car. Optimum conditions.
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