This story isn’t about cars, it’s about Detroit. One of the nice things about writing for this site is the freedom we have to explore topics not specifically about automobiles.
Of course, the simple truth is anything significant that affects the city of Detroit will, sooner or later, have an impact on the auto industry. Over on the east side, not that far from the infamous ruins of the Packard plant, the city is literally being regrown from the roots up. (Read More…)
Some automotive production figures are etched in cast iron, if you will. There are only six Bugatti Royales and likewise only a half dozen real Shelby Daytona Coupes. Read any history of the Tucker car written in the last three decades and you’ll find that there have been 51 Tuckers, of which 47 have survived in one form or another. Now not all of those 51 were assembled by Preston Tucker’s company. History says 37 production Tuckers were completed, more or less, before the company was shut down with 13 cars left unfinished on the assembly line.
Shortly after the Tucker firm closed, a dozen of those cars were completed, with a final car being assembled from remaining parts many years later. Add the “Tin Goose” prototype and you get 51. Now that a well-known pile of Tucker parts has finally been assembled into a completed car, it will be interesting to see if historians and Tucker enthusiasts change that number to 52. (Read More…)
There are a lot of things that I like about the car hobby and, at the same time, there are annoyances. As someone who writes about automotive history, I can well appreciate the need for authenticity when it comes to restorations. I also understand that humans are competitive and that car shows are often actual competitions. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be such a thing as Best of Show. Consequently, there’s a place in this world for quibbling whether or not the wingnut on a 1958 Chevy is true to the VIN, but as I said, it can be annoying. (Read More…)
Every year about three dozen children die after being accidentally left in hot cars. Babies fall asleep, parents get distracted, and tragedy results. Baby products maker Evenflo and retailer Walmart have worked together to produce a baby car seat that alerts the driver if the seat is occupied when the car’s ignition is turned off. (Read More…)
When was the last time you saw a pretty race car? Maybe I’m turning into Walt Kowalski, but it seems to me that the racing machines of my youth looked nicer. Is there a purer shape than Jim Clark’s Indy 500 winning Lotus 38? Is not the Lola T70 sensuous? Some of Jim Hall’s Chaparrals, like the 2H “vacuum” car and the 2J streamliner with its center mounted high wing look a little odd, but even the 2J has an aesthetically pleasing shape, something you can’t say about a modern Formula One racer, with it’s dizzying array of airfoils, winglets and canards. (Read More…)
We’ll probably never again see something like the combination real world test and publicity campaign that put 50 Chrysler Turbine cars in the hands of American families to test drive for a few months in the mid 1960s. That we’re talking about it more than 50 years later shows just how effective the PR for the Turbine was. Consequently, the Chrysler Turbine is undoubtedly one of the best known concept cars ever. Less well known is the fact that the Chrysler Turbine as we know it started out as a Ford. (Read More…)
The facility was mostly deserted by the time I got there deliberately late to avoid politicians’ speechifying. Between the very realistic — but empty — roadways with functional traffic lights, railway crossings, and even parking meters, on one hand, and the two city blocks of obviously faux buildings, theatrical scrims really, on the other, I felt that at any second, things might switch to black and white and Rod Serling would step out from behind one of the backdrops.
I wasn’t in the Twilight Zone, though. I was on a gentle hillside on the north side of Ann Arbor. (Read More…)
One of my editors once described researching a topic as “falling down a rabbit hole.” Four hours later, you end up far afield from the 1963 Whizbang X500 you started with. You never know what you’ll discover that could be new to you or your readers.
While tracking down details on the 1:10 scale 1939 Lincoln Continental styling model that sat on the desk of Edsel Ford —whose idea the Continental was — I heard a great story involving his father, Henry, and the clay modeler, Larry Wilson, who later discovered Edsel’s Continental clay styling model forgotten in storage.
It’s a true story about a 15-year-old boy who took a train ride to ask Henry Ford for a job and, as far as I know, it’s never been published before. (Read More…)
It’s funny how it sometimes takes a while to recognize something familiar. In the mid-1980s, when my daily driver was a slightly hi-po’d 1972 VW Type 2, I was driving a work vehicle from the Detroit area to Toledo to pick up a part. As I drove down I-75 and got closer to Ohio, I noticed one Volkswagen Bus traveling north in the opposite direction — and then another. “That’s unusual,” I thought. By then air-cooled Vee Dubs weren’t terribly common, and *Transporters were less common than Beetles. Then a Vanagon passed by, but, as I said, this was the 1980s and Vanagons were still being sold new and didn’t think much about it until I saw a few more Type 2s, including some older split-windows. Was there a VW club convention going on? I once drove to Cincinnati and I passed a large group of MG enthusiasts on their way to a meet. (Read More…)
The United States International Trade Commission issued a split 3-3 ruling on a petition regarding Chinese tires filed by the United Steel Workers under U.S. Antidumping and Countervailing Duty (AD/CVD) laws. That means that — in all likelihood — the United States will put tariffs or other controls on tires imported from China. Counterintuitively, not one of the nine domestic American tire companies that produce 100 percent of the tires made here supports the AD/CVD petition. (Read More…)