Brethren, we are once again gathered together to mourn the passing of another automobile company. Saab was of that rare breed of car that always had a band of devoted, aye, fanatical followers. In her prime, Saab could not fail to ignite the after-burners of anyone with a predilection to genuine character, speed, innovation, intelligence, and even sexy good looks (at times). Not bad for a company that never once designed a clean-sheet new engine and borrowed more platforms than Heidi Klum. But when you’re small and from Sweden, resourcefulness is essential: Saab finagled an existence in this brutal industry far longer than might have been expected. But now she joins an august group of other fallen automotive heroes in Valhalla: Borgward, Panhard, Tatra, Kaiser, Glas, TVR, Jowett, etc…better that then whoring herself to another rich benefactor. But Saab’s story is worth retelling. (Read More…)
Posts By: Paul Niedermeyer
Editor’s note: Ladies and gentlemen, for one night only, it’s the return of Curbside Classics to TTAC. You can catch Paul Niedermeyer’s work (along with contributions from an ever expanding crew of TTAC commenters and more) on a regular basis at the new Curbside Classics site. But this piece? It just had to be on TTAC.
There’s a big difference between creating and re-creating. The proto-hot rodders of yore scoured the junk yards for new solutions, not to replicate. The competition was as much in creativity as it was pure speed. Much of that has given way to endless replication, whether it’s a perfect restoration or a 1000 hp resto-mod. But creative juices are irrepressible, and they were certainly at work here. Want a daily driver Edsel, but not its 1950′s fuel-gulping ways? The solution was just a $200 junkyard engine away. But it had to be imagined first. Now that’s creativity, and a harbinger of the future. Which is exactly what the old car hobby needs: a new model, like this “Eco-Boost” Edsel.
The greatest crime in ancient Greece was hubris. And the perpetrator that carried out the sins as a result of their hubris inevitably faced great shame and retribution, most often fatal. So for the sake of this CC, we’re going to drop the Citation’s X-Car moniker, and call them the H-Cars. And just in case you’re not convinced that the Citation truly was GM’s greatest sin rather than the Vega (coincidentally numbered GM’s DS #2), let me cite you the incontrovertible evidence: (Read More…)
The ’64 Datsun pickup had you guys stumped good, but I could tell you were working hard. There were some really good shots at an obscure vehicle. I’m guessing it was the fact that these very early Datsun pickups were essentially unheard of anywhere except pretty much just in LA and maybe the Bay Area. Now I try to avoid hints, but let’s just say that this vehicle was much more evenly distributed across the land, so you midwesterners have an equally good shot at it. Happy head scratching!
The Toyota pickup has become such a dominant vehicle in its class worldwide, its easy to assume that it was always that way. Not so. It was Nissan’s little Datsun trucks that essentially invented the modern mini-pickup genre, and was top puppy in the US for well over a decade before handing over the throne. In fact, trucks were the only vehicle that Datsun imported for quite a few years, and made its reputation with them. They’re a significant piece of automotive history, and many are still hard at work, at least hereabouts. (Read More…)
The good old simple days, when a couple of knobs pretty much took care of everything a dashboard had to offer. Take your time with this Clue, because I’m just sitting down to put it together. See you in a few hours.
A hearty congratulations go to texan01 who knew a Tempest transaxle when he saw one.
This week’s Silversides Bus and Tempest CCs were high on my wish list, and finding them motivated me to put in some serious overtime. So today I need a breather, say an urban hike from our house to Skinner Butte, the geographic focal point of Eugene. Now some of you have asked if you could join me sometime on a CC hunt in Eugene; of course you all have a standing invitation; just show up. In the meantime you can join me on a virtual tour/hunt of the Skinner Butte District. I’ll just point out the highlights of the neighborhood, and you just give a shout out when you see something that interests you. (Read More…)
In the thirties and forties, GM pioneered and brought to market some of the most innovative, successful and lasting new technologies: diesel-electric locomotives, the modern diesel bus, automatic transmissions, refrigeration and air conditioning systems, high compression engines, independent front suspension, and many more. But GM’s technology prowess was just one facet of its endlessly warring multiple personalities. Planned obsolescence, chrome, fins and financial rationalization were the real moneymakers, especially during the technically conservative fifties. But in the period from 1960 to 1966, GM built three production cars that tried to upend the traditional format: the rear engined 1960 Corvair, the front-wheel drive 1966 Toronado, and the 1961 Tempest. And although the Corvair and Toronado tend to get the bulk of the attention, the Tempest’s format was by far the most enduring one: it was a BMW before BMW built theirs. If only they had stuck with it. (Read More…)
This GM bus revolutionized the industry, and set the template for all over-the road buses to come: forward control, rear transverse diesel engine, the famous fluted aluminum “Silversides” cladding, semi-monocoque construction, high floor and underfloor luggage compartments. But its wildest feature was not replicated: a four-on-the-tree shifter and its mechanical linkage back to the non-synchronized gear box; something had to be left to improve. Let’s check it out and delve into the history and workings of its legendary Detroit Diesel 6-71 engine, which first made its appearance here. (Read More…)
Yesterday’s piece about Honda’s slippage left little doubt that its mojo ain’t quite what it used to be. But there was a time when Honda was on fire, and could do (almost) no wrong. The gen 1 Civic was like a little cherry bomb lobbed into a Weight-Watcher’s convention. Tiny, tinny, rude and crude as it was, the first Civic already embodied the unique qualities, if in somewhat embryonic form, that would revolutionize the American small car market and establish Honda’s meteoric rise. And this gen2 Civic was huge step forward; now instead of wearing a Civic like a badge of honor, one could now actually step into it and think of it as a legitimate car. How civil and civic-minded. But the best was yet to come. (Read More…)
Since the 1946 Continental was missing its eponymous spare tire, I meant to add this shot as evidence that the Conti’s influence is not yet finished (will it ever?). This may be a familiar sight in some parts of the country, but finding this in Eugene?? Either someone took the wrong exit and kept going for a very long time, or someone inherited grandpa’s car and couldn’t resist shocking/amusing the drab Toyota-driving locals. This gets my nomination for the most un-Eugene car to date. Oh wait…I have another contender for that crown somewhere: (Read More…)
Is the Clue too hard or is it too easy? Is the Clue too hard or is it too easy? Is the Clue…that’s what haunts my dreams at night (I guess things could be worse). The last two have been too hard, obviously. This one may be too easy; or not; BTW, it’s the blue roof in front of the red van we’re guessing about. But help yourself to the rest of this eclectic collection while you’re at it.