Each weekend, TTAC turns its attention to some of the more obscure news and stories from around the world, taking you from Jakarta to Haiti to Monaco… and now to New Zealand. Hungarian Skoda blog stipstop.com takes us to New Zealand in 1966, when Auckland-based Motor Lines were able to adapt a Jowett Bradford-based utility vehicle made by Kawerau into a Skoda Octavia-based Land Rover lookalike… and the Trekka was born! Only 2,500 of the little runabouts were made in steel-paneled wagon and “ute” bodystyles (specs here), of which five served duty in Vietnam and one was purchased for unknown reasons by General Motors, which shipped it to Detroit in 1969. The Trekka was an “icon of the Kiwi can-do spirit” by the time it went out of production in 1973, and it was much loved in New Zealand, although it was never as capable as its Landie-alike bodywork suggested (a limited-slip differential was eventually developed for it). But the low-cost Trekka (it cost £895, less than a Morris 1100) was ultimately a product of New Zealand’s import tariffs, and as these began to fall in the 1970s, the Trekka’s day had passed. Today, fewer than 30 remaining models have been documented by trekka.co.nz.
“Ask Amy” advice columnist and self-help memoir author Amy Dickinson has the late Ann Landers’ old slot on the Chicago Tribune. She also has a 1967 Morris Minor. She fell in love with the car the first time she saw one, soon after she moved to London with her then-husband, in 1986. “They are so cute, they look like ice cream cones,” she says. She loves the clatter of its engine, and the way people smile when she drives by, and she says it is her favorite material object in the world.
So after her husband embarked on an open-endedly extended business trip, in 1988, Dickinson, then a housewife, took her five week old baby, Emily, in a taxi to a dealer who restored Morrises, and made her purchase, for 1,500 pounds (roughly $5,000 in current dollars). “One advantage of driving a beautiful, quirky vintage car is that it really helped me meet people,” she says. “So many men said to me, ‘I had one of these,’ and ‘my dad had one of these,’ not to mention ‘getting rid of my Morris Minor was my biggest mistake.’”
Surf over to www.lada.ru, and click on “Автомобили” (automobiles), and you’ll find four model lines: Priora, Kalina, Samara and the classic, Putin-favored 4×4. Not pictured in the lineup, but still present in a sidebar on the site, is a link for one more model: the 2107. The first 2107 (then called the 2101), was built in April, 1970, developed off the internals of the Fiat 124, which itself was already four years old. And ever since 1970, the 2101 “Classic” has been rolling off an assembly line in Tolyatti, providing over 16.8 million sets of cheap wheels (MSRP: about $7,500)… and the model accounts for two-thirds of all Ladas ever built. But, reports Automotive News Europe [sub]’s Luca Ciferri:
The Classic was scheduled to die at the end of 2009 when sales began fading, but the Russian government scrappage program introduced in March 2010 gave it a new lease of life. Helped by the incentive, Classic sales last year doubled to 136,006, making it Russia best-selling car by far. In the first half of this year, sales grew 35 percent to 69,500.
But the scrapping program ended in May, heralding the end for the Classic.
The Lada Classic will be replaced by the Lada Granta, which was launched inauspiciously, when, in a scene straight from “Borat,” the car refused to start for President Vladimir Putin. But perhaps, if the Granta is built for another 40 years, car writers will be looking back fondly at it someday.
China doesn’t have the world’s best reputation for respecting intellectual property (pdf). TTAC’s own old China hand Bertel might give us an on-the-ground report that could differ with the reputation, but reputations are still what they are. We’ve seen knockoffs of MINIs and smart cars (do you think that smart could borrow a capital letter from MINI?), and of course there is the notorious Chery QQ’s take on the Daewoo Matiz/Chevrolet Spark. GM was already not thrilled with “Chery” being one letter removed from “Chevy”, but the QQ was kinda overt so GM was understandably upset. Bertel can correct me if I’m wrong but I believe that Chery prevailed in both the Chinese court system and in the Chinese marketplace (apparently by offering more features/value).
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…
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.
Did you know that Colorado has more hearse enthusiasts than any other region in America? Neither did I, until I checked out HearseCon 2011, which took place a few miles from Chez Murilee last weekend. Hearses, ambulances, and flower cars! Coffins, goths, rodders, and— of course— Hearse Girls! (Read More…)
The Freep’s Mark Phelan identifies yet another vanishing automotive phenomenon: the six-seater sedan. He notes
The Chevrolet Impala is the only six-person sedan you can buy. Other sedans — regardless of how big they are — have front bucket seats rather than the three-person front bench seat that was once common…
Chevrolet is weighing whether to build a six-seat version of the next Impala. Weighing against it, the car will probably be narrower than the current model. It’s based on GM’s Epsilon II global platform. It’s roomy, but probably not enough to fit three comfortably across up front.
About a quarter of Impalas sold last year were six-seaters…It probably makes sense for Chevrolet to concentrate on giving the next Impala a comfortable and attractive front seat that appeals to the other 75% of its buyers and wins some new customers.
I’m sure that front benches bring back a host of memories for TTAC’s Best and Brightest (mine is of grabbing the Hurst floor shifter in my dad’s 1966 F-100 with both hands and clunking from gear to gear on the way to the dump), and yet somehow I’m guessing that not many will agitate for its return. Like tape decks and carburetor tune-ups, the nostalgia of sitting between two other people in front seat might have a certain appeal in reminiscences, but anyone who actually transports six people regularly these days just buys a crossover. And guess what: the kids might be robbed of valuable future nostalgia (replaced by reruns of Spongebob Squarepants on the rear-seat entertainment system), but neither they nor their parents are likely to choose to go back. And so, we march onward, into an unfamiliar future…
The idea of a “spiritual successor to the E-Type,” has been around since the XJ-S turned out to be anything but, and since 1997 we’ve been tormented with lust-worthy visions of small-roadster loveliness like the XK180 and F-Type concepts. Beyond the realm of ideas, however, the neo-XKE has had a tougher time of things. Jaguar has threatened several times to produce a version of its stunning concepts, but each time the rumors have ended in disappointment. But now Autocar has caught the first physical evidence that a new “E-Type” is actually crossing over into the realm of reality, with these first shots of a test mule.
Serious Civil War reenactors have a term for folks who don’t measure up to those activists’ high standards for authenticity. They call them “farbs”, as in “far be it from me to criticize another enactor but if they want to be authentic they should be wearing hand stitched woolen underwear that hasn’t been changed or washed for two months, not BVDs”. Every hobby has its one-uppers. One of the things that I like about car culture is that it’s a mosaic of subcultures. Diversity can be a good thing and I’m a big tent car enthusiast. You may be a trackday fiend who would never slam a lowrider or restore a Messerchmitt microcar, but you can appreciate the folks who would and you can find common ground with them in your shared love of things automotive. Still, none of us like folks who put on airs. Every hobby, though, has its snobs.
We all love our cars and can bore even other car guys with minutia about our favorite marques and models, but at a car show with prewar Packards, don’t you think that it’s a bit pretentious to put “historical’ license plates on a Chrysler K-car?