Category: History

By on March 31, 2016

Chrysler 300M, Image: © 2015 Thomas Kreutzer/The Truth About Cars

The shopping center had seen better days.

Most of its smaller spaces were vacant, long since abandoned with only the leaves left scuttling about on the breeze to give the empty storefronts the illusion of life. Now, only the anchor stores remained. On one end of the complex, a dollar store. It somehow managed to look even more run down than most and had perhaps a dozen cars parked out front. At the other end, a cut rate supermarket — one of those places that sell mostly canned food and dried goods on the verge of expiry — had a dozen more cars sitting at its doors.

Much to my disappointment, a Chrysler 300M was among them. Read More >

By on March 9, 2016

Tom Mix Duesenberg front 3/4 right, Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

The high-dollar-custom Ridler Award at the Detroit Autorama gets a lot of worthy attention, but real salt of the earth Detroit car culture can be found in Cobo Hall’s basement, The promoters bill the area as Autorama Extreme, and I always make it a point to check out the cars and people downstairs. There’s usually something worthwhile down there like “the first Mustang,” a bassackwards, mid-engine Ford F-1 pickup, or even an Allison V12-powered ’39 Chevy.

This year, walking past the bandstand where a local rockabilly band was doing a Jerry Lee Lewis song, I spotted something around a corner and immediately recognized it as a Duesenberg I’d written about before here at TTAC. It’s a distinctive car. For aesthetic reasons, I doubt anyone would make a replica. So even before I got near enough to see the longhorns up front and the tailfin that looks more like a hunchback’s deformity in back, I knew it was the so-called Tom Mix Duesenberg — a real Doozy in more ways than one.

Read More >

By on March 3, 2016

Kreutzer Nissan March 5

February ends. March begins. What better way to celebrate the sunny-but-cool weather of early spring than by looking at military castoffs? Luckily, the Lemon Lot full of them, and some were quite appropriately named.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you one of Nissan’s cutest products: the March. Read More >

By on February 26, 2016

Round Door Rolls, 1925 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Jonckheere Aerodynamic Coupe front 3/4, Petersen Automotive Museum, Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

I’ve tangentially touched on the topic of this post, the famous art deco “Round Door Rolls-Royce”, before when discussing Audi advertising and some Detroit history. On my recent trip to Los Angeles to drive a McLaren 675LT (you think Jack Baruth is the only TTAC staffer who can swing the loan of a supercar?), I took the opportunity to visit the newly renovated Petersen Automotive Museum and the unusually bodied Rolls happened to be on display right where you walk into the building.

It’s a striking looking car, to say the least, and a multiple show winner undoubtedly worthy of historical note. Almost more interesting than the car, though, is the way its tale is presented and what that teaches us about the way ideas get entrenched, how a single facet of a story can obscure its context. Read More >

By on February 22, 2016

1925 Bugatti Type 22 Brescia Roadster Lake Maggiore Mullin Museum front 3/4 beauty shot flash © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

Every car has a story. In the case of this 1925 Bugatti Type 22 Brescia Roadster, it has two. Both are good stories. One, however, is the stuff of legend, and the other closer to historical truth. Read More >

By on February 19, 2016

Toyota Soarer Celica

I had another opportunity to visit United States Fleet Activities Yokosuka last week and, naturally, I brought along my camera for another visit to the “Lemon Lot.”

While my last visit noted the many people haulers for sale and focused on a pair of cheerful Toyota Fun Cargoes, this time, my attention was drawn to sportier fare. Read More >

By on January 26, 2016


Before U.S. importer Max Hoffman convinced Mercedes-Benz there was a market for the now famous gull-winged grand tourer, the 300SL badge was earlier applied to the company’s first postwar factory racecar, the W194 that was victorious at LeMans in 1952.

Sixty years later, at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Mercedes-Benz introduced their latest iteration of the SL concept: the SL 550. To commemorate the occasion, and the original SL’s 60th birthday, Daimler restored the oldest existing 1952 300SL — chassis #002 — and brought it to Detroit with its newest descendant. Unfortunately for the hundreds of photographers who tried to seize what was likely their only opportunity to capture such a rare and historic car, stagehands quickly surrounded the car with stanchions and rope almost as soon as the 300SL #002 came to a halt on the stage. Read More >

By on December 28, 2015
The first Ford electric car, 1914

The first Ford electric car, 1914

Ford Motor Company recently announced that it will be investing more than $4.5 billion over the next five years into its electric vehicle program and that it will have 13 electric vehicles on sale by 2020. The announcement follows the Ford company’s original investment in EV technology and the first Ford electric cars by 102 years.

Hopefully, the current spending will yield more fruitful results than did Henry Ford’s original look into EVs more than a century ago. Read More >

By on December 22, 2015


Our friend Mr. Baruth is on a bit of a motorcycle kick lately and, while he’s not quite ready to cruise the interstate highways on a Honda Gold Wing, he recently described the Wing as “one of those brilliant products that both defines a market segment and then comes to utterly dominate it.”

The same could be said for another two-wheeler, though one that couldn’t be more different from the Gold Wing. I’m talking about the Vespa scooter: Introduced in war torn Europe in 1946 and used as basic transportation by Italians rebuilding their country, the Vespa scooter became a bit of a fashion statement by the 1960s (and an essential accessory for the Mod craze in England). It’s been adopted by the developing world as basic transport in the decades since then, and is once again becoming a fashion statement in the 21st century. Virtually every motor scooter made in the last 70 years has followed the Vespa’s template.

This post, however, isn’t about a Vespa scooter. It’s about a Vespa car. Read More >

By on December 17, 2015


The email had all the stopping power of a fart at an office Christmas party.


“Were they returning from 1943?” I wondered. How could any team be named “Jap” anything in 2015?

As it turns out, there are a lot of automotive-related companies and events with the prefix Jap. JapFest, JapAuto, JapSpeed. JustJap. Uh, huh.

I mean, “Jap” is still a bad word, right?

Read More >

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