Tag: History

By on March 22, 2017

Subaru STI bobsled

Most automotive advertising has little to nothing to do with the actual car. It’s usually about presenting an image or hawking brand identity and then loosely associating it with a vehicle — Mercedes’ current “Grow Up” campaign is a perfect, cringeworthy example. However, enthusiasts know that the best car ads feature incredible shenanigans and loads of life-or-death action.

Dave Chapelle mocked Mitsubishi for its pop-and-lock Eclipse spot, while Top Gear honored Land Rover for winching a Defender up the side of a dam. Keenly aware of this is Subaru, which, after sending Mark Higgins and a WRX STI around the Isle of Man TT course in 2014, brought both man and vehicle to the world’s oldest bobsled run in St. Moritz, Switzerland to record another automotive spectacle.

Unfortunately, Subaru is more than 50 years too late for this particular publicity stunt. Ford filmed an identical feature in the Italian Alps with the Cortina GT way back in 1964. It even named the car after the Cortina d’Ampezzo ski resort, where it later held the event. Subaru may be calling it “boxersledding” today, but it’s really just a rehash of Ford’s classic “auto-bobbing.”  (Read More…)

By on March 6, 2017

bullitt mustang

Steve McQueen tear-assing around the streets of San Francisco in a Highland Green 1968 Mustang GT, hoping desperately to catch the two contract killers in a stealth black Dodge Charger R/T of the same vintage, is the standout moment from the film Bullitt. Three minutes of tension-building tailing followed by seven minutes of the most enjoyable and realistic on-screen tire-smoking mayhem ever set to jazz fusion. It is still one of the best car chases in any film, if not the best.

Sadly, as with most movie cars, the Mustang that did the majority of that incredible driving and took the brunt of the abuse vanished while the one kept pristine for the camera ended up on the East Coast in someone’s private collection. The owner of that car is notoriously secretive about it and has used it off-and-on as a daily driver, which is a shame, as the stunt car was assumed to have been sent to a junkyard and destroyed.

Then it cropped up in Mexico after having languished in anonymity for decades.  (Read More…)

By on February 21, 2017

Fordlandia

Welcome to the Paradise of Fordlândia. Three rules: no booze, no Jews, and we want to check your junk now and then.

Well, those were the rules (one of them unwritten) when the Brazilian town, hacked out of the jungle in 1928, was at its peak. Abandoned by Ford Motor Company in 1945, the bizarre utopian industrial and social experiment remains, slowly decomposing and encroached upon by vegetation, on the shores of an Amazonian backwater.

It is here, along the Tapajós river, that revolutionary industrialist and noted oddball Henry Ford created his rubber-producing settlement in the image of a modern Michigan city. Thanks to one enterprising reporter who probably owns a dog-eared copy of Heart of Darkness, we can now see what the failed experiment looks like in 2017. (Read More…)

By on February 9, 2017

Citroen Traction Avant 11C, Image: Citroen

The Volkswagen Golf GTi may be what many consider the definitive “hot hatch,” and most enthusiasts credit it with popularizing the idea of a functional yet fun-to-drive and economical daily driver. From its roots have sprung countless pocket-sized performance variants, right up to today’s current Focus RS.

But the Volkswagen Golf was far from the world’s first hatchback. It wasn’t even close.

So where did the idea of a hinged-rear body panel begin? More than 40 years prior to the launch of the GTi, another innovative car introduced the world to the idea of the hatchback, among a few other new features. Are you surprised that it was French, after our Matra article last month?

(Read More…)

By on February 3, 2017

1960 BMW 700, Image: BMW

Following in the footsteps of last week’s Karmann Ghia article, it seemed natural to take a look at two other lesser-known German alternatives to Volkswagen’s Type 1 Beetle and the ‘Beetle-in-a-suit’ Karmann Ghia.

Like the Karmann Ghia, both were attempts to capitalize on a new and expanding market for automobiles in Germany during the postwar economic boom times. That meant that the models had to incorporate existing technology, yet also appeal to a crowd increasingly interested in performance and style. However, both had to be at least somewhat economical and practical as family cars.

The result was a series of interesting and mostly forgotten air-cooled, rear-engine, rear-drive sedans, coupes and convertibles from both BMW and NSU.

(Read More…)

By on January 19, 2017

untitled

No, not Kato Kaelin. (That’s two OJ references on one day. We’re done. – Ed.)

Mouth-watering classics hit the block at Bonhams’ Scottsdale auction house all the time, but few were ever driven by the embodiment of 1980s masculinity. Well, today’s your chance to clear out your retirement funds and make a bid on one of the most recognizable vehicles in all of TV Land. (Read More…)

By on January 12, 2017

1971_dodge_demon (Wikimedia)

Here’s some sage advice: there’s no known way to use snippets of Metallica’s ‘Fuel’ in an automotive video without prompting audience eye-rolling. Scientists are working around the clock, but hopes remain dim.

The song appears towards the end of a teaser video produced by Fiat Chrysler’s Dodge division, featuring a snarling, caged beast that suddenly shape shifts into a fiery demon once released. There’s no new vehicle in sight — just a Ram Heavy Duty pulling the cage. More videos will follow, we’re told, but it’s the name that’s the focus here.

Demon. (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 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.

(Read More…)

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.

(Read More…)

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.

(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…)

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Seth Parks, United States
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Kyree Williams, United States