Autopalooza, the umbrella PR campaign for sixteen top shelf automotive events in southeast Michigan, including races, cruises and car shows, had a kick off press event this past week. As a Detroit booster, I urge you to check out the schedule of events and try to attend as many of them as you can. While I haven’t been to all of them, I’ve attended most and if you get to check any of them out, you’ll find out why car events around Detroit are special.
It started with a photo of a strange looking Pinto with a targa style roof and it metastasized into an encyclopedia of just about every concept car you never heard about. Part One, Acura to Chevrolet, is here. Part two, Chrysler to Ford, is here. Part three, Honda to Mercury, is here.
Mitsubishi likes three letter acronyms and alphanumerics. Behold, above, the HSR III from 1992, some kind of Eclipse concept, I think. Read More >
As the owner of a geriatric, but otherwise well maintained car, you know that getting parts can be a bitch. Depending on company policy, ex-factory supply of parts can cease after 12, or, if you are the lucky customer of a more dedicated maker, 15 years after the end of regular production. BMW now goes against that trend and offers parts for a car that went out of style 73 years ago. Read More >
An alert REDDIT reader (manuelv 19) spotted the Seattle Police Museum’s 1970 Plymouth Satellite patrol car responding to calls on the coffee scented streets of dowtown Seattle earlier this week. According to the Seattle Police Museum website, only 53 Special Order Police Satellites were produced in 1970 and 21 of those were purchased by the Seattle Police Department. The cars were mid-size police vehicles and featured the 383 Super Commando engine package complete with 4 bbl carburetors. They were reputed top be quite fast at the time.
I’m not a reporter. I don’t even pretend to be one. What I do is tell stories and sometimes, if I am fortunate, they resonate with people. So when guy name Joe here in Buffalo contacted me and offered me a ride in his 1995 Lotus Esprit I was torn. Naturally, I wanted a ride, who wouldn’t? Still, I had to tell him up-front that I didn’t know if that a ride would generate a story good enough for the illustrious readership here at TTAC. Luckily for me, he invited me over anyhow and I got my ride, but in the end it turns out I was right. A ride, no matter how exhilarating, really wasn’t enough for me to create an entire story. That’s fortunate though, because Joe’s story about his almost lifelong connection to this one specific car is better than anything I could have invented.
The salesman must have thought I was nuts. I could hear the incredulous tone in his voice, “Some guy calling from Okinawa wants to buy a used car that we put on Craigslist? When does he want to come and look at it? He doesn’t? How’s he going to pick it up? He isn’t?” Fortunately for the both of us, money talks.
When you say the word Cord, most car enthusiasts think of the “coffin nose” 810/812 models, designed by Gordon Buehrig for the 1936 and 1937 model years. There was much about the ’36-’37 Cords that was revolutionary, or at the very least advanced for their day. Buehrig’s art deco masterpiece was E. L. Cord’s automotive swan song. His styling included hideaway headlights flush mounted in pontoon fenders, hidden door hinges, no running boards, and that distinctive one piece hood was hinged at the cowl and opened from the front, not from the sides as in most prewar cars. From a technical standpoint, what people remember about the ’36 Cord is that it had front wheel drive. Some mistakenly believe that the Cord 810 was the first front wheel drive American production car. Actually, the first front wheel drive Cord was the L-29, named for 1929, its year of introduction. The L-29 was not just the first Cord with front wheel drive, it was indeed the first American car with front wheel drive that was offered for sale to the public, beating the now obscure Ruxton to the market by a few months.
I stumbled upon this car at the Packard Proving Grounds‘ fall open house.
Of late I’ve been enamored of classic dual cowl phaetons. Forget Lamborghinis, if you want to make a statement, a dual cowl phaeton from the late 1920s or early 1930s is the definition of arriving in style. While getting some photos of a burgundy red Packard phaeton, I noticed that the classic behind the Packard was a Duesenberg, or rather it had a Duesenberg hood ornament. It turns out that it’s a one-off replica of a Duesenberg built for a man who owns a real Duesey.
Since I’m the guy who generally won’t take photographs of ’69 Camaros and ’57 Chevys (well, unless they’re really special ’69 Camaros and ’57 Chevys ) and who will walk past 5 “Eleanor” Mustangs to look at one American Motors Hornet, it should come as no surprise that for the past couple of years I’ve made it a point to attend the annual Orphan Car Show held in Ypsilanti, Michigan’s Riverside Park. This year was the 16th iteration of the OCS, which is affiliated with Ypsi’s Automotive Heritage Museum. With a number of century old (and older) brass era cars at the event, it’s not surprising that some of them had to be started with hand cranks. What is surprising is that not all the crank starting cars dated to before World War One. Actually, a couple of them date to the Vietnam War era and later.
A few months ago, BMW announced that it was throttling back (or should that be rheostating back?) on it’s “i” branded EV program, in part due to a lack of public charging station infrastructure. A company that sells as many gasoline and diesel powered cars as BMW does can afford to temper its enthusiasm for cars that run on electrons. A company that only sells battery powered electric cars, as Tesla does, doesn’t have that luxury.
In a recent post on Stillen’s contest to design a body kit for the Scion FR-S, I brought up the history of the Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild, a scholarship based model making contest for budding designers that ran from 1930 to 1968. Since just about all of the promotional materials for the Guild were targeted at boys, I wondered if any girls ever tried to enter the competition.
Former Nissan racer Steve Millen’s aftermarket performance company Stillen is running a contest involving Facebook. Amateur designers can style the company’s body kit that will accompany Stillen’s performance toys for the Scion FR-S. The winner will get to attend SEMA this November, when the body kit will have its first public display. When I saw the headline my first thought was, “What, another social media hypefest?” Just the other day, Derek Kreindler questioned the value of Nissan’s efforts to crowdsource product planning via social media sites. Does the general public know any more about designing cars than it does about product planning? Read More >
The early 90s were tough times. Stock markets had crashed, real estate bubbles had popped, budgets were slashed. The fabled Daytona 24 hours endurance race survived (barely) with Rolex as a sponsor.
In 1992, the field was down to 49 cars, one of them a newcomer from Japan, Number 23, fielded by Nissan’s Nismo (Nissan Motorsports International) factory team. Read More >
Remember Sakura and Fuji, the two tiny Datsun 210s that went to “The World’s Cruelest Rally” and came home with a trophy? This story has a sequel.
In 1958, two Datsuns, named “Fujii” and “Sakura” entered the Mobilgas Trial, 10,000 miles all around Australia. Surprisingly, “Fuji” won its class title. “Sakura” finished fourth.
Half a century later, the cars were found in a warehouse in Japan. Read More >