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?
Panther lovers, look away! The Detroit News has picked up a story on Bayliff Custom Automotive which… well, let’s just let the words take over where that unforgettable image leaves off, shall we?
“We’ve been custom-building Packard automobiles since 1978,” said [C. Budd] Bayliff, whose Bayliff Custom Automotive of Lima, Ohio, builds old-style Packards (and other cars) from the ground up and offers Packard-inspired customization styling kits for contemporary vehicles.
Bayliff Custom Automotive also does conversion work for another Ohio-based company that specializes in funeral vehicles.
The Packard kit, as shown here on a Ford Crown Victoria, is priced from $15,000 to $18,500 and includes a Packard-style grille and overhood, headlamps, rear fender skirts, an oval rear window, stylized trunk lid, custom two-tone paint, and various changes to the interior.
If that’s a Packard, I’m Enzo Ferrari. Oh, and I have a lovely original 250 GTO to sell you…
General Motors was the largest supplier of war materiel to the American armed forces. Ford famously built B-24 Liberators that rolled off the Willow Run assembly line at a rate of one per hour. Chrysler alone built as many tanks as all the German tank manufacturers combined. With those high profile contributions to the war effort made by the big three automakers, it’s easy to forget that the independent automakers (and automotive suppliers as well) also switched over completely to military production.
To commemorate Memorial Day here in the US, we’re taking a look at how the American auto industry was mobilized into war production for World War Two. Because that mobilization was so extensive, the conversion to military production so complete, a blog post by it’s very nature cannot really do the subject justice. This is only the most cursory review of the topic, which truly deserves a book length treatment. As a matter of fact, historian Arthur Herman is currently working on a book about the “arsenal of democracy”, American industry during the war.
Herman will have a lot of material to work with.Today we’ll be looking at the role of the Big Three automakers in war production, starting with General Motors. (Read More…)
Memorial Day is a time set aside to remember those who gave their lives in military service to the United States. Today, even as we are fighting two wars and have men and women in harms way in yet other places, though, a relatively small fraction of Americans serve in the military. Few civilians, except military families, understand the sacrifices necessary to protect our country. There was a time, though, when the military conflict was genuinely existential and just about every able bodied man was drafted or enlisted, while virtually the entire civilian population was directly involved in the war effort, either through their jobs in military production, or more personally, because just about everything was rationed giving the military a higher priority for things like vehicles, tires, fuel and food. With the dawn of total war, the plants and proving grounds of Detroit became a new kind of battlefield, in which the tools of economic prosperity were turned into munitions and machines that would change the course of history.
SB Medien may call the forthcoming FT-86 a “Celica replacement,” but in this first video of the latest near-production prototype, the budget rear-drive coupe nearly runs into a Supra which apparently belongs to the development team. The Supra shows up once more in the video’s ‘ring testing footage (about 1:55 in), suggesting again that it’s somehow involved in the testing or benchmarking process. How and why? Your speculation is as good as mine…
The reboot at Lotus has been much discussed in the motoring press, but amidst all the talk of styling and strategy, one of the brand’s major competitive issues has been widely overlooked. Lotus’s strategy is, in essence, to build up its brand to the level of a Porsche or Ferrari… in other words, reviving the UK’s position in the brutally competitive world of European sportscars. But just as Lotus is eying a return to greatness, targeting the top-tier of the sportscar market, another UK competitor with (at least) equally-burnished credentials is making is own play for a slice of the high-performance road car market: McLaren. Unlike Lotus, McLaren’s racing roots aren’t just deep, but are recent as well; the brand is rebuilding its legacy on the strength of its Formula One racing heritage as much as its legendary F1 road car. And unlike Lotus, McLaren has already delivered one of the more intriguing road cars in recent memory, the MP4-12C, which is lighter and faster than Ferrari’s lauded 458, while breaking new technical ground with its carbon fiber monocoque and adaptive hydraulic suspension.
And now Autocar reports that McLaren is following up its Mp4-12C with a limited-edition flagship hypercar boasting 800 HP from a 5 liter V8 that should hit 100 MPH in 5.5 seconds. With a 2014 launch date, the “Mega Mac” should hit the market just after Lotus introduces its first, rapidly-developed sportscars… and make Lotus’s task of capturing the position of UK’s top sportscar brand much, much harder. Can Lotus make up the difference with branding alone? We’ll sure enjoy watching the battle unfold, as nerdy, product-led, race-tech-happy McLaren takes on splashy, branding-led, glamor-happy Lotus.
Photos courtesy of Cars In Depth
As a Detroiter I hate ruin porn. I particularly hate it when lazy journalists, bloggers, editors and video crews shoot photos or video, or worse, use stock footage and pics, of the Michigan Central Station and the old Packard plant. So I’m a little reluctant to share these photos that I shot just south of State Fair, east of Woodward. Ultimately, the photos were just too good, so emblematic of Detroit’s decay, that I had to share them. Also, it’s an opportunity to share some hope about the city.
Start the video, then pause. Click on the “3D” icon on the YouTube menu bar to select your choice of 3D formats or 2D. Video and original photos courtesy of Cars In Depth
We’ve all seen too many pictures and videos of the magnificent ruin that was once the Packard plant on Detroit’s east side. It turns out that there’s a Packard site in the Detroit area that’s not a ruin, the Packard Proving Grounds in Shelby Twp. about 15 miles north of Eight Mile Road. Like the Packard plant on East Grand Blvd, Albert Kahn designed all the original Packard buildings on the proving grounds site, including a tudorish looking lodge where the facility’s manager and his family lived. It may be the only place where Kahn designed both residential and industrial buildings. It was built in 1927 at a cost of over a million dollars. Packard used the facility to develop and test their cars, aviation engines (there was a small airfield inside the big oval track – Charles Lindbergh visited the site), and also for publicity and marketing. The proving grounds even had a role in the Arsenal of Democracy. Chrysler used the facility during WWII to test Sherman tanks, erecting a building used to service the tanks that were tested inside the paved oval.
Additional video after the jump.