Category: History

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.

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By on December 12, 2016

aston martin db4 gt

As things get older they gradually become “priceless.” However, before that happens, there is a long period of grotesquely inflated cost mathematically intertwined with the object’s historical relevance.

When Jaguar announced they would resume production on the 1957 XKSS in 2017, they added up the D-Type’s success at Le Mans, Steve McQueen’s seal of approval, the car’s extremely limited numbers, and the tragic production-ending fire at the Browns Lane factory. A continuation car dripping with so much historical mystique wasn’t going to go cheap. Jaguar sold the nine “new” cars at $1.5 million each.

Aston Martin’s DB4 GT has a similar allure. It’s a low-production high-performance version of an already coveted classic. Even if you are filthy rich enough to own one, it probably exists in a temperature controlled garage next to other massively expensive vintage automobiles you dare not drive. Well, sixty years after being first introduced, Aston Martin plans to build twenty-five new track-only continuations of the DB4 GT. Read More >

By on November 27, 2016

dealership

Have you ever wondered why the model year and actual calendar year of production vehicles rarely coincide? Do you ever notice American-made cars have a tendency to come out almost comically early? Have you ever wondered why?

The answer is as uniquely American as the question itself, revolving around agriculture, consumer culture, and television.

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By on November 26, 2016

C1937 Cord 812 (Jane Nealing/Flickr)

Amelia Earhart owned one, and likely would have seen more sunsets had she chosen it as her ride of choice, instead of a Lockheed Electra.

It was one of the great American automobiles of the interwar era, and a favorite of matinee stars — a nameplate steeped in style, class and technological innovation. But, ultimately, short-lived.

Or was it? If one Texan has his way, we could soon see a small-scale revival of the Cord brand. Read More >

By on November 18, 2016

1983 Volkswagen Scirocco BiMotor (A1), Image: Volkswagen

Though today’s hybrids have popularized it, the idea of installing more than one engine in a car to supplement power isn’t particularly new or innovative. In fact, it’s almost as old as the automobile itself.

There are plenty of historical examples of multi-engine cars; probably the most notable are absolute land speed record attempts. Just last week, for example, was the 51st anniversary of the American-made Goldenrod’s 409 mph record, set using no less than four 426 Hemi V8s borrowed from Chrysler.

But even further back, Alfa-Romeo had tried to break the stranglehold of the Silver Arrows in Grand Prix racing by utilizing two straight-eights in a P3 Grand Prix chassis. The solution was innovative, if not particularly successful.

But the exploits of sticking multiple motors in a vehicle to boost power and traction were not limited to exotic racers and record setters. In the 1980s, the concept was reintroduced in a few interesting packages. As it became increasingly clear that Audi’s all-wheel drive would revolutionize the world of rally, Volkswagen Motorsport director Klaus-Peter Rosorius felt Volkswagen shouldn’t play second fiddle to the Quattro.

Instead, they’d play with a second engine.

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By on November 9, 2016

Robert_S._McNamara_and_General_Westmoreland_in_Vietnam_1965

November 9, 1960: Robert McNamara becomes president of Ford Motor Company just one day after John F. Kennedy is elected President of the United States.

He may have only held automotive office for a handful of weeks before becoming JFK’s Secretary of Defense, but McNamara’s legacy at Ford is everlasting. However, after saving the company from its own ill-planned and cannibalistic Edsel division, he later created an Edsel of his own in the Vietnam War.

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By on November 4, 2016

volkswagen 1938

The sudden termination of historian Manfred Grieger’s contract with Volkswagen is generating controversy in Germany, with some accusing the automaker of trying to put a lid on its dark past.

Grieger spent 18 years on the VW payroll, and was hired specifically to air the automaker’s dirty laundry. During his time with the company, Grieger penned detailed accounts of Volkswagen’s wartime use of forced labor from concentration camps while opening up the company’s archives to journalists and historians.

The New York Times reports that his contract came to an end this week. Some suspect that Grieger’s criticism of a report on Audi’s past led to his departure, and they worry VW could be trying to downplay revelations about its history with the Nazis and Brazil’s military dictatorship. Read More >

By on October 27, 2016

Poling Ford Taurus

Exactly a decade ago today, Ford ended production of the legendary Ford Taurus.

Along with Dodge’s Caravan, the Taurus is absolutely one of the most influential and important cars of the 1980s. It ushered in a new era of automotive design in North America and created a wholly new template for the modern sedan — and Ford turned its back on it.

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By on October 21, 2016

01 - Chevrolet Chevettes Down On The Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin

The former General Motors Wilmington Assembly Plant, which cranked out Saturns, Oldsmobiles and Pontiacs before falling victim to economic and corporate forces, is looking for a new owner.

This time, however, it wants a buyer that isn’t a luxury plug-in electric car maker that folds before a single vehicle can leave the factory. Read More >

By on October 7, 2016

AMC Pacer

There’s some weird stuff out there today, but let’s get to the pop culture stuff first.

One of the world’s ugliest and most unappealing cars is going on the auction block by way of Barrett-Jackson next week — and it could fetch a ridiculous price.

Yes, it’s the Wayne’s World car. Read More >

By on October 7, 2016

Falcon (Five Starr Photos/Flickr)

It’s a sad day in Australia as Ford Motor Company closes the door on 91 years of domestic vehicle production.

Some 600 Ford employees are now out of work after the automaker shut down factories in Melbourne and Geelong. This marks not just the end of Australian Ford production, but the death of a long-running nameplate. Read More >

By on September 23, 2016

1956 Cadillac (Adam Singer/Flickr)

Is your car truly rare or unique? Does it represent a small but significant piece of American history? (We’re not talking about a 1983 Mercedes-Benz 380SL once owned by Gary Busey.)

If so, your ride could one day be immortalized — in a bureaucratic sense. Yesterday, Michigan Senator Gary Peters (D) introduced a bill that, if passed, would create a federal registry for historic vehicles. Read More >

By on September 15, 2016

Nigel Mills of Brentwood, Essex, UK, has owned a 1982 DeLorean since he bought it at auction for £22,000 in 2004. With only 13,000 miles on the odometer, the car is rarely driven, with Mills taking it for a spin three or four times a year and displaying it at a couple of car shows.

Any DeLorean will attract attention from the public and police alike, but Mills’ DMC-12 really stands out because its tinted blue stainless steel exterior.

Mills was out for a “run around” on the A12 highway when, “I saw the guy with the speed gun and thought I better check my speed and low and behold, the letter turns up,” Mills told the Telegraph. The summons said the he was clocked at 89 miles per hour. That speed is significant both to fans of DeLorean, and a certain movie. Read More >

By on September 9, 2016

blazing magnums

Very few people enjoy Canadian films, and there’s damn good reason for it. Public funding is heavily bureaucratized, giving birth to movies essentially “filmed by committee.” Artsy, yes. Depressing? Very often so. But Scandinavia already has that covered!

This wasn’t the case in the glorious, sleazy 1970s. For a brief era, Canada was a free-wheeling, balls-out orgy of low-grade filmmaking, all thanks to insane tax write-offs. Slasher flicks and soft-core porn, lewd sex comedies and gritty crime dramas, this era had it all — and most of it was awful.

One film crew, who probably saw Bullitt way too many times, knew what audiences — American audiences especially — wanted to see, and set about filming one of the most un-Canadian films ever shot north of the border.

They also produced one of the greatest and least-known car chases ever filmed.

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By on September 3, 2016

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The seaside city-state of Monaco is no stranger to yachts, but in late 1973 an American barge powered by a smog-strangled V8 appeared on its shores.

Chrysler Corporation was on site to film a TV commercial for the new full-size Dodge Monaco, a conservatively styled model with terrible timing. The model’s name evoked glamour and elegance, and the automaker hoped some of the glitz would rub off on the redesigned ’74 full-sizer.

There was another reason for the location shoot. A very special guest would appear in the ad — Princess Grace of Monaco (formerly American actress Grace Kelly). And the princess would help sell the car, whether she wanted to or not. Read More >

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