Tag: Heritage

By on January 18, 2017

checker-pickup-1

Being a non-conformist used to mean driving a German or Japanese car. For those who really wanted to make a scene, Sweden was more than happy to provide a quirky Volvo or Saab. Well, that strategy is out. Everything’s just too mainstream.

What’s an individualist to do? Electric cars have become too commonplace, and regulations make building your own car too much of a hassle. Enter Checker, which tentatively plans to build two offbeat versions of an already offbeat classic starting next year. (Read More…)

By on January 18, 2017

volkswagen i.d. buzz concept

If we’re to believe a source inside Volkswagen, 2022 could bring a latter-day Summer of Love.

The company’s latest Microbus concept — the eye-rollingly named I.D. Buzz — might not stay a concept for long, an insider claims, stirring hope in eco-conscious Germanophiles and fans of the original hippie wagon. (Read More…)

By on January 14, 2017

Volkswagen I.D. Buzz, Image: Volkswagen

It seems that even Volkswagen executives realize you can’t keep showing off different variants of the same concept before the public grows weary of the tease.

At the North American International Auto Show this week, visitors to Detroit feasted their eyes on the eleventy billionth latter-day VW Microbus concept, this time called the I.D. Buzz. Okay, maybe that number is a bit high, but the folks from Wolfsburg have kept up a steady trickle of retro Microbus concepts for 16 years. This time, it’s fully electric. No wheezy four-cylinder (or raucous five) in sight.

Naturally, the automaker hopes this latest concept’s name doesn’t prove a lie, but this latest offering — and the atmosphere around it — feels different. The mood implies it’s now or never for the concept — not just this one-off vehicle, but the concept of a reborn Microbus altogether. (Read More…)

By on December 22, 2016

volkswagen_microbus

For a solid 15 years — longer than the combined duration of World War I, II, and Korea — Volkswagen has made a habit of teasing consumers with boxy concepts that draw inspiration from the company’s far-out Microbus of yesteryear.

It doesn’t matter whether the automaker is flying high, like it was at the turn of the century (and decade), or digging itself out of a scandal, like it is now. There’s always a piece of flower power vaporware lurking nearby, ready to trigger increasingly distant memories of a free-wheeling, free-love past.

We’ve been tentatively promised some sort of modern-day Microbus since the New Beetle still seemed somewhat new, but to no avail. Well, times are changing, and along with it, technology. But VW’s tactics aren’t. (Read More…)

By on November 23, 2016

2017 Ram 1500 Outdoorsman Crew Cab 4x4 EcoDiesel

Fearing a backlash from die-hard Ram loyalists, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles executives seem hesitant to move the next-generation 1500 pickup away from the styling that’s made it a bright sales light in the FCA portfolio.

Still, as much as they’d like to avoid it, many say the time has come to drop Ram’s most signature design element — the crosshair grille. (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 July 22, 2016

Detroit (Bryan Debus/Flickr)

The Automotive Hall of Fame thinks it can better tell the history of the automobile if it makes a move to the Motor City.

William Chapin, the museum’s president, wants to expand the facility’s scope and become part of Detroit’s resurgence, so he’s looking for space near downtown, according to the Detroit Free Press. (Read More…)

By on July 15, 2016

Jeep Wrangler 75th anniversary concept

Jeep turns 75 years old today, and its birthday promises to be a lot more upbeat than, say, Plymouth’s.

The storied brand, which started life producing a hastily built battlefield runabout, is now a sales juggernaut for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which could be its reward for suffering through so many ownership changes over the years. To mark the special occasion, FCA built a one-off Wrangler that takes the brand back to its roots.

You can’t buy it, but you can remove the doors and fold down the windshield on your own Wrangler, head to a nearby field, paint some signs in German and pretend it’s two weeks ’till V-E Day. (Read More…)

By on March 15, 2015
Gallery links below

Gallery links below

An old friend ran the Aragon Ballroom back in the days when it was Chicago’s version of Bill Graham’s Fillmores. He told me that contemporary rock bands that didn’t know any better would insist on being higher on the bill than Sha-Na-Na. After all, Sha-Na-Na was an oldies act, with gold lame suits and greaser shtick. Sha-Na-Na, however, were great entertainers and they would kill the audience. Bowser would come to the edge of the stage, spit something out about “f’in hippies” and by the end of the set the hippies would be dancing in the aisles. The musicians who insisted on higher billing would afterwards insist on never following Sha-Na-Na again. Sometimes, though, following a great act can inspire greatness too, as when Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones reluctantly followed James Brown on the TAMI Show. Performing music or introducing new cars, you don’t want to be upstaged and if you do happen to follow your inspirations, you had better be inspired. (Read More…)

By on June 12, 2014

File photo of General Motors logo outside its headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit

Bloomberg reports the compensation fund designed by attorney Kenneth Feinberg for General Motors will have “a relatively modest timetable to invite claimants to file their claims” once the claim period begins August 1. Feinberg also said by the end of June, he and his team will have a program “that will define who’s eligible to file a claim… what the dollars will look like for those who file,” as well as the obligations the plaintiffs will need to have “to prove their claim.” GM CEO Mary Barra added that her company won’t know the final cost of the fund “until the actual compensation has been run,” though an estimate may come at the end of Q2 2014.

(Read More…)

By on December 1, 2012

Chrysler Thunderbolt and Newport Show Cars in the atrium of the Walter P. Chrysler Museum

I’m an unabashed booster of Detroit area institutions so it was with some sadness that I read that the Walter P. Chrysler Museum on the Chrysler campus in Auburn Hills will be closing to the public at the end of the year. Apparently admission fees and facility rentals were not sufficient to sustain continued operations.

(Read More…)

By on November 18, 2011

Are you familiar with the Fridolin? If so, hit the jump. If not, here’s the brief version of its history. Unhappy with its adorable but inadequate, two-cylinder Goggomobil Transporters, the German Postal Service approached Volkswagen and Westfalia in the early 60s, looking for a new interpretation of what it was looking for, namely “arbeitspsychologisch optimaler Ausstattung zu einem günstigen Anschaffungspreis.” This is a tough phrase to translate, but essentially it means “equipment optimized for the workplace psychology, at an affordable price,” and in 1963 that’s what the VW-Westalia team delivered. A mixture of Type 1 (Beetle), Type 2 (Bus) and Type 3 (Fastback/Squareback), the Type 147 was first shown to the German Post in 1963, and was quickly nicknamed “Fridolin” (an uncommon German boy’s name) apparently because workers said “it looks like a Fridolin.” Only 6,126 were built between 1964 and 1973, and they continue to enjoy a strong collector’s cachet (primarily as slammed campers, apparently). And now, Volkswagen wants to re-create the classic… for the future. 

(Read More…)

By on October 22, 2011

The LeMay Museum in Tacoma, WA won’t be completed until June, but the NY Times reports that it aims to become on of the premiere automotive museums in the country, rivaling collections like the Peterson and Harrah museums. And at 165,000 square feet, the building that is rising in Tacoma needs to be huge: though “only” 750 vehicles will be exhibited at a time when the building is done, the LeMay collection is far larger than that. Although even curator David Madeira isn’t sure how many vehicles actually belong to the collection.

“I don’t know,” Mr. Madeira said recently in an interview at The Times, when asked how many vehicles were in the possession of Harold LeMay, the garbage-disposal magnate whose collection of American automobiles would comprise the majority of the museum’s holdings. Mr. LeMay, who died in 2000, was prone to buying a barn or even a field containing old automobiles just to prevent their contents from landing in a junkyard. “He was not a connoisseur; he was a true collector,” Mr. Madeira said.

Once holding at least 3,500 vehicles, the collection has been cut to “north of a thousand” aimed at representing the sweep of American automotive history. And those will be joined by vehicles from the collection of watchmaker Nicolai Bulgari in order to create an automotive museum that founders hope lives up to the name “America’s Car Museum.” Since it’s right up I-5 from me, I’ll be sure to report on the collection and whether it reaches that lofty goal when it opens to the public next Summer.

 

By on October 5, 2011

How much do things change in 60 years? Sometimes the best answer to that kind of question is a picture. Here you can see an original Unimog (right), built sometime between the start of production in 1948 and 1951, when Mercedes bought the operation in order to expand it enough to keep up with demand. On the left is a “60th Anniversary” Unimog design concept, celebrating not the actual birth of the Unimog, but its purchase by Mercedes. Needless to say, the contrast between the two is… breathtaking. And if you’re curious about the evolution of this hugely influential vehicle, if you can’t help wondering how it grew from a (relatively) tiny, spartan utility vehicle to a garish, Mercedes-starred behemoth, be sure to check out Bertel’s illustrated history of the Unimog. It makes you wonder what the next 60 years have in store for vehicles like this… [images courtesy: Autobild]

 

 

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