One of the things that makes Murilee Martin’s Junkyard Find series so engaging is not just his fine writing and photography, it’s the elegiac nature of the subjects and their settings. As with any elegy it’s hard to come away without a sense of sadness, at what was and is no longer and at what could have been and never was. I was uploading some images for a post that I was writing and I noticed that Murilee was working on another Nash Metropolitan Junkyard Find. The “little Nash Rambler” is such a cheerful, happy looking car, one that never fails to bring a smile to faces of both their drivers and those who see those drivers motoring around in their Metropolitans, that they look particularly forlorn sitting waiting to get recycled into scrap steel. I thought that some of you might enjoy seeing some Metropolitans that are treasured, not trashed. Read More >
Category: Look What I Found!
If you’re an average Mopar enthusiast you may be wondering what the front of a Plymouth Valiant is doing on a 1963 Dodge Dart. Unlike urban legends about cars with front ends from one brand and rear ends from another of that automaker’s brands that was being built on the same assembly line, and unlike custom car mashups, this was factory built and sold by authorized dealers.
If you were born after the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show you can be excused for not knowing this, but Dodge Darts and Plymouth Valiants weren’t always badge engineered twins. In 1963 they were more like bigger and smaller brothers, with an odd Canadian cousin in the family.
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.
After years of retrenching, financial crisis and bankruptcies, the world’s automakers are now introducing new concept and production vehicles. The 2012 NAIAS in Detroit was one of the more product-rich big auto shows of the past decade. Just about every exhibitor at the show was revealing all-new vehicles or concepts giving us a look at future production plans. Cadillac’s 3 Series fighter, the ATS, Lincoln’s all new and attractive MKZ, Ford’s Aston-Martin looking Fusion and Chrysler’s Alfa Romeo based Dodge Dart were all significant new introductions by the domestics. Toyota showed concepts that will probably end up as the next Camry and Prius (plus Lexus’ stunning LF-LC concept that will most likely not see production). Mercedes introduced the first all-new SL roadster in a decade. Hyundai showed the highly anticipated Veloster Turbo. I could go down the list of exhibitors with other examples but you get the idea: lots of significant new product. However, over at the far end of Cobo Hall, tucked away upstairs in a corner of the Lincoln exhibit, was probably the most significant car of the entire show. I suppose you could call it a concept car, but it represents a concept that is larger than just the design of one individual car. It’s one of the cars that can be said to have been part of the invention of automotive styling. I think that makes it the most significant car, new or old, at the 2012 NAIAS. Read More >
It should come as no surprise to anyone that Look At What I Found! was inspired by Murilee Martin’s original Down On The Street series over at Jalopnik. For today’s installment I’ll be performing a trifecta of plagiarizing M&M’s work because we’ll be talking about not just a car I found when out and about, but about an exact model that Murilee covered in a Junkyard Find, with a side dish of Nice Price or Crack Pipe, another car blog staple that sprang, Athena-like, from the fertile mind of our own ‘Ms. Martin’. The main difference between Murilee’s find and mine is the car’s condition. Murilee’s was ready for the crusher, but this one belongs in a museum, showing only 18,000 original miles on the odometer. With a little detailing it could win a prize at a car show, maybe even a concours. That’s not much of an exaggeration. Other than the barest hint of surface rust inside one of the rear wheel wells and the door hinges, the body is flawless. No dents or dings or any sign of damage. The interior looks just about brand new. The carpet by the driver’s seat shows minor wear but the pedals are not worn at all. The kick panels on the doors look like they’ve never been kicked. Other interior panels look similarly pristine. The back seat appears to never have been occupied, certainly not by any enfant terrible scribe pitching woo at an autojourno’s wife.
Photos courtesy of Cars In Depth
Every year, the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum sponsors the Orphan Car Show, dedicated to vehicles, brands, and companies that are not with us anymore. Lots of oddball cars and classes means lots of graphic content for Cars In Depth and maybe an article or two at TTAC. It looks like there are more than 800 images on the memory cards so it’s going to be a bit before I get them all processed and winnowed for a proper report on the show for the Best & Brightest. Still, as I’ve said before, you never know when you’re going to find an interesting car or something else automotive worthy of note. Driving to the Orphan show I decided not to take the Interstates and instead took winding two lane roads out to the Ann Arbor / Ypsilanti area. I wasn’t sure about an intersection and ended up going a couple of miles in the wrong direction. On the way back I noticed a home with a bunch of old Fords in front of the garage. There were a couple of 1970s vintage LTDs, two Fox body Mustangs, and a Pinto. One of the Mustangs has current license plates and looks like it’s a daily driver. The rest of the cars appeared, from a distance of about 100 feet, to be solid restoration candidates, but they had the look of “when I get the time” projects. What really caught my eye, though, was the yard sign standing by one of the big Ford sedans: “Cars NOT For Sale – Don’t Ask!”. It’s enticing to wonder what’s out of sight in the garage, but it’s still a nice collection of Fords.
Photos courtesy of Cars In Depth
About a year ago TTAC ran a two part piece of mine on Carroll Shelby’s Cobra and Bill Thomas’ Cheetah, which some say could have been Chevy’s parry to Ford’s Cobra. The formula was pretty much the same, put a big block engine in a lightweight tube frame car, covered in a minimal but viscerally sexy body. The Cheetah is derivative. I see elements of E Type Jaguar, Devin, Cobra Daytona Coupe, and maybe some Corvette, but it works very well for me and is a very distinctive shape. Thomas, though, didn’t originally intend the Cheetah as a racer, but rather as a boulevard cruiser, so the frame and suspension weren’t really up to competitive racing. While the Cheetah won eleven SCCA races, it never developed a racing pedigree like the LeMans winning Ferrari vanquishing Cobras. Then GM stopped selling Thomas engines and he decided to walk away from the project.
A few replicar companies today offer Cheetahs in various stages of construction. The car has a bit of a following because of plastic models and slot cars back in the 1960s. Unlike the other firms building Cheetahs, Robert Auxier established a relationship with the late Bill Thomas and was licensed by Thomas to build up to 100 “continuation” Cheetahs, made by BTM in Arizona using the original molds and fixtures. For safety reasons, the original’s spindly frame was replaced with one made of larger tubing that is 33% stiffer, brakes were upgraded to modern units and the suspension was made fully adjustable. Auxier made a run of 31 cars before the severe recession put a damper on all kinds of car sales, not just hand fabricated high end replicars. It’s not clear if he’ll make any more but don’t worry, recently two of those 31 cars have come up for sale on eBay, a coupe and a convertible, according to Autoblog. Sorry if you had your heart set on a Cheetah roadster, the convertible has been withdrawn from sale but the coupe is still available. I know, I saw it in person this afternoon.
Photos courtesy of Cars In Depth
Jack Baruth called the 1976 Cadillac Fleetwood Sixty Special Talisman that he delivered to Sajeev’s brother “majestic”. While Jack and Sajeev have been playing with a big Caddy, lately I’ve been seeing a lot of Dearborn’s favorite luxury brand and it’s given me a lot of opportunity to think about Lincoln’s past and future. Today, Cadillac, buoyed by the success of the CTS and its variants, along with profitable sales of the SRX (and Escalade too) seems strong compared to Lincoln. As has been the case since Henry Leland’s day Lincoln has almost always been Detroit’s weaker sister when it’s come to luxury cars. Almost always…
On Tuesday, I will go to the Fuji racetrack in the hills halfway between Tokyo and Nagoya. I will test drive a Toyota that is not available in Japan, nor is it in the U.S. It is however available and quite a success in India. Can you guess which one it is?
When I pointed at the map, my wife mentioned that her father, bless his heart, has some real estate in Yugawara, and that she has the keys. Yugawara, famous for its hot springs and not much else, sits right smack in the middle of the area which has an 87 percent chance of getting hit by an earthquake with a magnitude of about 8 within the next 30 years.
I was reminded of that this morning. Instead of being woken up with kisses and a cup of coffee, the house kicked me in the butt. Earthquake. Read More >
Photos courtesy of Cars In Depth. TTAC thanks Mr. Barry Wolk for graciously making his car available for this photo shoot.
You can divide collectors into two main groups, generalists and specialists. In my taxonomy Barney Pollard and the Sultan of Brunei would be generalists and Joe Bortz would be a specialist. Some people collect Chevys. Others collect just “tri-five” mid 1950s Chevrolets. Of course for every specialty there’s a subspecialty, so some people collect only ’57 two-door Chevy pillarless hardtops with fuel injection and factory two tone paint.
Barry Wolk is a specialist. He collects Continentals. There’s his big black 1977 Lincoln Continental Town Car along with his 1956 Chris Craft Continental wood boat. He’s even got a Porsche Continental. In the mid 1950s, importer Max Hoffman convinced the headquarters in Stuttgart that Americans bought cars with names, not numbers, and the 356A with the 1500cc engine was briefly marketed in the US in 1955 and 1956 as the Continental. Ford, having established prior use for that model name in the late 1930s, complained and Porsche changed the badging from “Continental” to “European” before reverting to alphanumerics. One reason why Ford was concerned is that in 1955 they were about to relaunch the Continental brand with the Continental Mark II. Barry has one of those Continentals too, but as you might expect from a specialist collector, Wolk has a very unique Mark II, a Mark II convertible. Even more unique than that, it’s one of only two Mark IIs made into convertibles by Ford Motor Company.