Category: History

By on September 11, 2017

Image; 1983 DeLorean DMC 12

The DeLorean DMC-12 is forever linked to the classic film Back to the Future, where the stainless steel wonder was converted into a conveyance for the purposes of time travel. But the silver screen was not the only place the DMC-12 underwent a transformation. A certain credit card company had a PR stunt in mind that saw the DeLorean plated with 24-carat gold.

Our Rare Ride today is what happens when a private owner attempts the same thing.

Read More >

By on June 25, 2017

pfaff-mclaren-mclaren-rally-june-2017-7196

With contributions by Sebastien Bell and Sam McEachern

Mechanics have made their last-minute checks, drivers circulate sur la piste managing tire and brake temperatures, engineers confirm strategies; cars stage on the starting grid, the dissonant cacophony of twenty 1.6-liter V6 hybrid Formula 1 engines spooling reverberates through the grandstands as five red lights illuminate sequentially…

Hosted on Montreal’s Île Notre-Dame since 1978, the Grand Prix Du Canada has always been a special place for the Formula 1 paddock. For decades, drivers have loved the city’s vibrating atmosphere and unbridled passion for the sport, but what they really love is the circuit’s proximity to a devilish downtown core drowning in alcohol and impeccably dressed women.

Why do you think we like it? Read More >

By on June 21, 2017

Image: 1983 Talbot Matra Ranco, image via KGF Classic Cars

Today’s Rare Ride was inspired directly by this comment on the Question of the Day, where I asked which car brand you’d bring back from the dead if given the chance. Commenter Menlo suggested the oft-forgotten Talbot, and specifically a unique vehicle they used to make.

Now we can all learn about the Matra Rancho.

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By on May 19, 2017

olds omega 1977

Around the time of the Bicentennial, 300 horsepower was reserved for from-the-factory supercars and custom builds aimed at the drag strip. Today, you can find family sedans eclipsing that benchmark without a lot of trouble. Compare the first decade of Toyota Corollas to hit North American shores to their modern day equivalents and you’ll note that 0 to 60 time have been almost halved.

It’s the same with most models. A few years ago, I had the privilege of driving a well-maintained 1977 Oldsmobile Omega and wondered how enthusiasm ever survived malaise era automobiles. It must have been the gorgeous styling keeping us going.

Modern cars aren’t just more powerful, they’re also far more efficient and significantly less dirty. Additional safety regulations and standard equipment should have left us with bogged-down fuel hogs, yet automakers have managed to roll with the punches — not just maintaining the status quo but routinely moving it forward. However, to really appreciate just how far we’ve come you need to see those decades of progress plotted.  Read More >

By on April 20, 2017

Hyundai Santa Fe Antarctica

Northerners, and almost all Canadians, will tell you that starting your car in -28 Celsius (-18.4 Fahrenheit) weather is a drag, but at least it wasn’t colder that morning.

With this in mind, the temperatures experienced during an expedition to the South Pole in that continent’s high summer aren’t outside the realm of personal knowledge. A good many of us have gauged the frostiness of the outside air by the speed in which our nose hair freezes.

Still, Hyundai’s recent stunt, which put famed explorer Ernest Shackleton’s great-grandson behind the wheel of a modified Santa Fe Sport, impresses. It’s not solely the distance covered, the conditions experienced during the 3,600-mile crossing of Antarctica, or the mechanical feat of turning a pedestrian crossover into the most rugged of all-terrain vehicles. It’s the historical tie-in.

If you grew up reading — and re-reading — Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, you know what I mean. Hollywood writers could not have penned a better adventure, nor can any scientific-minded person believe that such a feat was even survivable. Read More >

By on April 8, 2017

[Inmage: Ford Motor Company]

By now, you’ve probably read that Ford Motor Company has developed a crib that mimics a late-night car ride. You know, those journeys to nowhere fueled by nothing other than a desperate desire to shut your kid up for a few hours?

Yes, with Ford’s prototype crib, your bundle of joy will be rocked and jostled to sleep while you grab some much-needed shuteye. Your car never needs to leave the garage. Had my parents owned such a thing, it would have curtailed many nocturnal forays in a Lean Burn-equipped Plymouth Volaré that stalled when it reached a stop sign — at least, until the engine temperature rose.

There’s no need for compromised Slant Six engines when Mark Fields is doing the babysitting. You see, Ford’s Max Motor Dreams cot will record the vehicle movements and sounds of your go-to driving route and reproduce them in the comfort of your home. The company even claims that the German-designed cot might see production.

That’s great, but a crib isn’t a vehicle.

So, in light of this static, motorized cot (why didn’t Ford shape it like a Fox-body Mustang?), here are some neat Blue Oval products from yesteryear: one of which will kill you, another that killed one of its two operators, and a final product that could kill your entire neighborhood. Read More >

By on March 1, 2017

oldsmobile-ciera-coupe

A bill for the assembly of two decades-old models — one from a defunct marque — will come due on April 1. And unlike much of the debts written off during General Motors’ bankruptcy, a major subsidiary now has to pay this chunk back.

The money, $220 million in all, was handed to GM Canada back in 1987 to save the Montreal-area Sainte-Thérèse Assembly plant. GM Canada used that bankroll to build the stunningly sexy Chevrolet Celebrity and Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera. It later cranked out the last Pontiac Firebirds and fourth-generation Chevrolet Camaros.

The thing about 30-year interest-free loans is that someone eventually comes to collect. Read More >

By on February 28, 2017

tupac-murder-car

In case you’re a particularly macabre automotive collector, Tupac Shakur’s murder car is currently available for purchase. California’s chotchkie dealer, Moments in Time, is listing Death Row co-founder Suge Knight’s black 1996 BMW 750iL on its website for a cool $1.5 million. That’s roughly $1.49 million over the estimated private party value of an E38 Bimmer — and I even gave Moments in Time enough credit to assume it was in extremely good condition.

Apparently, one of the best things you can do for the resale value of your car is to make sure that a celebrity was killed inside of it. However, Shakur technically died several days later as a result of injuries sustained in the September 7, 1996 Last Vegas drive-by shooting. Perhaps you can use that information to haggle down the price.  Read More >

By on February 25, 2017

untitled

Onlookers outside Detroit’s Cobo Center took part in a great American pastime yesterday. That is, thrilling at the impending destruction of an airborne 1969 Dodge Charger.

You know the one. Orange, Confederate flag emblazoned on the roof, once the star of a popular TV show that was serviceable in its first season, but then got really stupid. There’s a pull, an irresistible force that compels us to find old B-body Chargers — ideally a ’69, sometimes a ’68 but never a ’70 — and launch those nose-heavy suckers to a frame-twisting death.

It’s the only classic, lusted-after muscle car that we associate with low-altitude flight and, for some reason, we continue to applaud the torture and destruction of the remaining examples. Why? Read More >

By on February 21, 2017

Fordlandia

Welcome to the Paradise of Fordlândia. Three rules: no booze, no Jews, and we want to check your junk now and then.

Well, those were the rules (one of them unwritten) when the Brazilian town, hacked out of the jungle in 1928, was at its peak. Abandoned by Ford Motor Company in 1945, the bizarre utopian industrial and social experiment remains, slowly decomposing and encroached upon by vegetation, on the shores of an Amazonian backwater.

It is here, along the Tapajós river, that revolutionary industrialist and noted oddball Henry Ford created his rubber-producing settlement in the image of a modern Michigan city. Thanks to one enterprising reporter who probably owns a dog-eared copy of Heart of Darkness, we can now see what the failed experiment looks like in 2017. Read More >

By on February 16, 2017

Hindustan Ambassador Nova (1990)

Peugeot seems to be on a roll. PSA Group, formerly known as PSA Peugeot Citroën, announced a new five-year strategy last year after its bailout by the French government. This week we’ve seen some big movement on a potential purchase of Opel and Vauxhall from General Motors. The news was upsetting at Opel’s headquarters in Rüsselsheim, Germany, and the rumblings were loud enough to warrant a personal visit from GM CEO Mary Barra.

In lesser reported news, however, Peugeot’s net has already been cast over a storied Indian nameplate — the Hindustan Ambassador.

Read More >

By on February 4, 2017

It was a dark and unexciting night. The setting: my apartment. The time: well, last night.

The hour was was growing late, but going to bed at a normal time on a Friday night — even my definition of a normal time — seemed like an invitation to early onset senility. I’m a human being, dammit, I’m alive, and doing anything — anything — besides refreshing my taxed brain cells seemed like a good plan.

So, a Budweiser was cracked, an old movie was sought out, and my feet soon raised themselves to a comfortable, elevated position. Now, many who aren’t familiar with my history are unaware of a shocking secret — something that could prompt fits of laughter if you’re not ready for the news. Read More >

By on January 19, 2017

untitled

No, not Kato Kaelin. (That’s two OJ references on one day. We’re done. – Ed.)

Mouth-watering classics hit the block at Bonhams’ Scottsdale auction house all the time, but few were ever driven by the embodiment of 1980s masculinity. Well, today’s your chance to clear out your retirement funds and make a bid on one of the most recognizable vehicles in all of TV Land. Read More >

By on January 5, 2017

1998 Subaru Impreza WRC; Image: Prodrive

The name Prodrive isn’t one you’ll stumble across every day, and sounds a bit like a company that might offer teen driving courses. However, it’s one of the world’s most successful race car shops, and bests many individual manufacturer efforts.

How successful?

How does six World Rally Championships, four Le Mans wins, five World Endurance Championships, and four British Touring Car Championships victories sound for a start?

But while “race on Sunday, sell on Monday” is the parable that motivates many marques in motorsport, Prodrive sells no road cars.

How does a small, generally unheard of firm compete against the likes of Porsche, Honda, and Ford? Simple — those companies hire Prodrive to run their race programs. Read More >

By on December 27, 2016

Boss Chrysler's Garage Walter P Chrysler Museum, Source: Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

Museums are among my favorite places in the world, but it was difficult to genuinely enjoy my last visit to the Walter P. Chrysler Museum on the Chrysler campus in Auburn Hills. That’s because it was indeed my last visit.

About 15 minutes after I left the museum on December 18th, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles closed it forever and began moving the vehicles to the Highland Park warehouse where Chrysler keeps its corporate car collection. The automaker has said the museum will be turned into office space.

Read More >

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