History

Junkyard Find: 1987 Ford Taurus LX
Ford sold just a hair under two million first-generation Tauruses during the 1986 through 1991 model years, so these cars still show up regularly in the car graveyards I frequent. I won’t bother documenting an early Taurus at Ewe Pullet unless it’s something interestingly rare and/or weird— say, an MT-5 model with manual transmission or a factory-hot-rod SHO or a Groovalicious Purple Princess of Peace wagon— and today’s Junkyard Find certainly qualifies. This wretched-looking hooptie began life as a top-trim-level Taurus LX with just about every possible option, found in a Denver-area self-service yard recently.
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Junkyard Find: 1962 Chevrolet Corvair Monza Club Coupe

Ah, the Chevrolet Corvair. Easily the most controversial American car ever made, nearly two million examples were sold during the 1960 through 1969 model years. It remains one of the most common 1960s Detroit cars in Ewe Pullet-style car graveyards to this day. I found this sporty 1962 Monza Club Coupe in a Denver-area yard last month.

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Junkyard Find: 1989 Mazda 626 DX
After selling a rear-wheel-drive 626 here starting in the 1978 model year, Mazda introduced a brand-new front-wheel-drive version for 1983. That was the same year the Camry first appeared on our shores, and the cheaper 626 lured many car shoppers away from Toyota showrooms with its impressive list of standard features. The Camry got a major update for 1987, and a new generation of 626 appeared the following year. Here’s one of those cars, photographed in a Northern California self-service yard last winter.
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Junkyard Find: 1985 Ford Escort GL Wagon

Remember the era, around the middle of the 2010s, when we were all supposed to desire a brown station wagon with a manual transmission (or mock those who liked brown wagons after it was cool)? Well, today’s Junkyard Find is just that!

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Junkyard Find: 1987 Nissan Pulsar NX XE
The End of Leaded Gasoline, Lessons to Remember

Prior to 1970, buying leaded gasoline in the United States was as normal as picking up a carton of eggs or relaxing in your asbestos-laden home. After 1970, the U.S. Congress had officially adopted the Clean Air Act created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the gradual phasing out of leaded fuel began. While many bemoaned the lackluster performance of the malaise-era automobiles that followed, the rules continued to inform how vehicle manufacturers operated on a global scale.

But leaded gasoline hung in there for longer than you might assume. Most Western nations (including the United States) didn’t totally phase out leaded gasoline intended for passenger vehicles until the 1990s. Central Asia took even longer and parts of the Middle East and Africa continued to offer lead additives well into the 2000s. However, the United Nations Environment Program announced that leaded gasoline had officially become extinct over the summer, with Algeria being the final country to deplete its now-banned supply.

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Junkyard Find: 1999 Subaru Legacy Outback Limited Wagon
It feels like the Subaru Outback has existed in wagon-only form forever, but you could get a new Outback sedan until 2004. In fact, the Outback name was once used by Subaru USA for outdoorsy option packages on both the Legacy and (from 1995 through 2000) the Impreza. If you want to go back down the branches of the Subaru family tree to find the current Outback‘s direct ancestor, you’ll come to something like today’s Junkyard Find: a second-generation Legacy station wagon with the Outback package, found in a Silicon Valley self-serve yard in June.
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Junkyard Find: 1986 Ford Mustang LX Hatchback
Because the 1979-1993 Fox Mustang remains so popular with enthusiasts, I don’t find so many non– crashed examples in the big self-service car graveyards I frequent. In fact, these days I see more 1974–1978 Mustang IIs than I do Fox Mustangs (unless you consider the 1994-2004 SN95 Mustang to be a true Fox). Last week, I found this very solid ’86 Mustang LX hatchback in a Denver yard, and my camera was ready for it.
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2021 Bronco Badlands Podiums at Mexican 1000 Rally

A stock 2021 Bronco Badlands finished third in the NORRA Mexican 1000 off-road rally, driven by two Ford engineers. The podium finish came in the Pre-Runner Truck class.

Bronco engineer manager Jamie Groves and Seth Goslawski, another Bronco engineer, drove the majority of the 1,141 mile race across the Baja peninsula. Brad Lovell, a Bronco advisory panel member and prior NORRA winner, helped navigate and drove one stage during the five-day event.

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QOTD: Is the 1Moto Show the Best in the US?

’60 H-D Bobber 113 CI, rigid frame, 4-speed, suicide shift. Harvey Mushman, owner/builder.

The 1Moto Show, the annual showcase for custom motorcycles held in Portland, Oregon, took place April 30-May 2. Is the 1Moto Show the best bike show in the country?

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Five of the Worst Halo Cars From the Modern Era

There’s always going to be some debate about what constitutes a good halo vehicle. Many will argue that it has to be a flagship model, representing the absolute best specifications and features the manufacturer could cobble together for an eyewatering price. While that’s often the case, successful halo vehicles don’t always need to be at the top of the pyramid since the real purpose is to embody the best of what any given brand represents.

But there’s little disagreement on what makes a bad one and they frequently have a lot in common. Irrational pricing and a sudden shift away from brand identity are usually at the core of a real stinker. If you don’t believe me, here are five of the absolute worst halo cars from the modern era in no particular order…

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8th Gen Mercedes-AMG SL Unveiled

Mercedes-AMG wanted to show you its new SL Roadster, a 2+2 seater, testing its 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive system at a private proving ground in Sweden near the Arctic Circle. In typical Mercedes fashion, they said it was as much a test of the Roadster’s convertible top as it was the all-wheel-drive system under these harsh conditions.

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You May Have Missed Me: 2020 Ford Mustang Bullitt

While Americans were busy scratching their heads over how to manage a Very Covid Christmas, Ford was producing the final examples of the Mustang Bullitt. Modeled after the Mustang GT driven by Lt. Frank Bullitt (Steve McQueen) in the 1968 American action thriller that shares the lead character’s last name, the Bullitt tends to hit the market whenever Ford feels the itch.

For its third incarnation, the automaker decided the 2019-2020 model years were enough and had previously hinted that the model would be supplanted by an updated Mach 1. That unit has since been confirmed for 2021, taking the best components in the Mustang lineup to build a solid performer that’s economical to produce. But it didn’t leave any room for the Bullitt, with Mustang spokesperson Berj Alexanian confirming to Ford Authority that the final batch left Flat Rock Assembly right around the time we published our last review on the throwback coupe.

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Continental Commissions Curious Study About Its Own Nazi History

Continental commissioned an independent researcher to see what it was up to in the 1940s, with the auto parts supplier issuing a press release detailing the results.

“The study shows that Continental was an important part of Hitler’s war machine,” said CEO Dr. Elmar Degenhart, before adding, “We commissioned the study in order to gain more clarity about the darkest chapter in our company’s history. That’s why we specifically included those companies that were not part of Continental at the time. The study is a consciously chosen opportunity and a renewed motive for us to face up to our responsibility and, on the basis of past experiences, to understand our identity more clearly and to create a better future.”

The company has decided to not only “take responsibility” for acts committed 70-plus years ago, but to also include businesses that were complicit with the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP/Nazi) long before they joined its ranks.

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Traffic Fantasy: Michigan Pitches Dumb Idea

As if we needed more evidence that the people running things may actually be even dumber than we are, Michigan leadership has proposed building a separate lane for autonomous cars to run between Ann Arbor and Detroit. The special road would implement a vehicle-to-infrastructure communications network and is planned to be built alongside Michigan Avenue and I-94 as its own separate lane. Kind of like a bus line or railroad.

Reminiscent of the “ Highway of Tomorrow” that premiered in General Motors’ 1956 Motorama short Design for Dreaming, where a woman dances around the latest automotive products before the whole thing descends into futurist madness, Michigan’s more-modern concept is only slightly less ridiculous. State governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the project on Thursday, noting that it already had support from both the public and private sectors.

That doesn’t mean it will leave the realm of fantasy, however.

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A Problematic Pickup: International Harvester Johnnie Reb Edition

Rustic and western-themed special editions have been part of the pickup truck business for generations. Dodge sold Prospector versions of the Ram pickup in the 1980s, and the same company sold “The Dude” “sport trim package” for its “Sweptline” pickups in 1970 and 1971.

The Dude is most famously — or rather, infamously — known because Dodge (or more likely its ad agency) made the peculiar choice of using actor Don Knotts as a celebrity endorser. People loved Knotts, but his best-known role as bumbling sheriff’s deputy Barney Fife hardly projected a “tough” image.

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Trick Your Family Into Learning About Cars While Everything's Closed

With health concerns keeping everyone largely indoors, you may have spent this morning asking the mirror how you intend to get through the next few weeks with your sanity intact. We’ve been asking ourselves the same question. There’s not a lot going on out there and little reason to risk infection so you can witness nothingness first hand. That leaves millions of us at home trying to cobble together a battle plan on how to combat weapon’s grade boredom. The least fortunate will also have to do this for increasingly stir-crazy children. Luckily, reinforcements have arrived to stave off their youthful ennui for a few hours per day.

Temporarily closed on account of the coronavirus, Los Angeles’ Petersen Automotive Museum is offering free educational programing starting today. While the content is aimed at children under 12, the site is primarily concerned with producing family entertainment that will satisfy those isolated in the homes. The museum intends on providing daily opportunities to learn about the physics and/or history behind the automobile through the month of March.

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Aston Martin Celebrates 70 Years of Vantage by Parking a Bunch Inside an Empty Hangar

Listen, I know I’ve given Aston Martin a hard time ever since I’ve started writing about cars. My diatribe about the marque choosing New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady as a brand ambassador netted me no shortage of attention from upset sportswriters and morning DJs who cared more about football than I ever could. To my surprise, the ordeal even landed my name in a book about the NFL that nobody read. Despite the indescribable waves of pleasure I feel from bashing the marketing efforts of any high-end brand, Aston’s cars have historically been quite desirable. In fact, I have a gigantic soft spot in my head heart for the V8 Vantage Volante Timothy Dalton drove around in The Living Daylights.

That bodes well for Aston as I prepare to exercise every ounce of pettiness from within my soul to comment up its 70th anniversary celebration of the Vantage. But then the manufacturer decided to put a bunch in an empty aircraft hangar for a photo op and I suddenly remembered that the Vantage name has been tainted by more than just Mr. Brady.

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How Henry Ford, Who Published Racist Diatribes Against Jazz, Helped Popularize the Sound of Jazz and R&B

Henry Ford playing fiddle with his old-time dance orchestra on his 70th birthday in 1933. (From the collections of The Henry Ford)

Henry Ford was unquestionably a great man, but he was not a very good man. As an entrepreneur and industrialist, he may have changed the world — for the better, I personally think — but as a human being he had serious failings. According to Richard Bak’s Henry and Edsel, the elder Ford would humiliate his son, Edsel, in public because Henry, a farm boy, worried that his only child would become the soft son of a rich man. That practice continued into Edsel’s adulthood.

Clara (Mrs. Ford) had to make her peace with Henry’s long-term relationship with Evangeline Cote Dahlinger, whom the industrialist met when he was 50 and she was 23 — his associate C. Harold Wills’ secretary at the Highland Park plant. Her son John Dahlinger asserted that he was the son of Henry Ford, whom he strongly resembled.

Ford’s public life was no less unsavory. His bigotries are well known. In his mind he divided the Jewish community between “good Jews” — those he personally knew, like architect Albert Kahn — and “bad Jews,” the boogeymen “bankers” of his fevered imaginations. Less well-known is the fact that many of the most hateful things attributed to Ford were not his own words.

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Jeep Museum Allegedly Coming to Ohio in 2022

After years of trying, an urban revitalization group attempting to get Toledo, Ohio, back on track has gotten an affirmative nod from Fiat Chrysler to build an automotive museum devoted entirely to the Jeep brand. The 56,000 square-foot facility will be called “The Jeep Experience” and play host to numerous interactive exhibits.

Modeled after the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee and the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, the site has not yet been officially announced. Final negotiations are necessary before a contract is put in play. However, The Toledo Blade recently received confirmation from ProMedica President and CEO Randy Oostra, a member of the revitalization group, that there shouldn’t be anything standing in the way of the museum opening in 2022.

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Bentley Putting Depression Era Darling Back Into Production

Even if antique autos aren’t your jam, you’ve probably heard of the Blower Bentley. It’s the exceptionally rare racing variant of the brand’s pre-war 4½ Litre model. While perhaps not as iconic as the 6½ Litre/Speed Six, the Blower has become prominent for its ultra-thirsty, persnickety powertrain and straight-line performance. By attaching a Roots-style supercharger to the engine, Bentley turned the standard 4½ Litre into an absolute freight train. Upon seeing it in action, Ettore Bugatti famously referred to the gigantic car as “the fastest lorry in the world.”

Seemingly inspired by other British manufacturers’ recent foray into continuation vehicles, Bentley has decided to rerelease the 1929 Team Blower for a limited production run. Like Jaguar’s XKSS and D-Type, as well as Aston Martin’s DB4 GT, the Bentley will be recreated as painstakingly close to the original as possible.

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Jim Perkins, Who Saved the Corvette From a Moribund GM, Dies

Much has been written about Jim Perkins, the Texas boy with a keen love of Chevrolet whose relentless ambition finally placed him in GM’s sphere of influence. It’s thanks to Perkins that Chevrolet’s Corvette is still General Motors’ halo car, and not some long-departed nameplate culled during the height of badge engineering.

Perkins’ quintessentially American life came to an end this week. The two-time GM and one-time Toyota exec passed away in Charlotte, North Carolina, Friday at the age of 83, earning him tributes from fans of the car he saved.

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When Cultures Clash: Coach Door Edition Conti Triggers Folks Worried About Suicide

Considering they’re only making 160 of them, the suicide doors on the eighty Coach Door Edition Lincoln Continentals to be sold next year have garnered quite a bit of attention.

The use of rear-hinged doors on vehicles dates to the horse age. It seems that sometime in the 1930s the moniker “suicide doors” was applied to them, apparently due to people’s propensity for falling out of cars in the decades before Ford introduced the seat belt (as an option in 1956). There’s also, at least according to something frequently reproduced online, a connection with gangsters pushing people out of cars — though to my ears, that would be more like homicide doors.

I’m not convinced, though, it’s any easier to fall (or be pushed) out of a car with such doors, other than the fact that aerodynamics will help keep the door open while you’re falling (or being pushed).

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King of Egress: Lincoln Stretches 2019 Continental, Swaps Rear Doors for a Limited Few

It’s true. You’ll soon be able to slap down a pile of hard-earned cash for a 2019 Lincoln Continental with [s]suicide[/s] coach-style doors. Well, 80 of you will.

To mark the 80th anniversary of the Continental nameplate, Lincoln Motor Company went the extra mile for heritage devotees, revealing a limited-edition model that dispenses with front-hinged rear doors and adds half a foot of wheelbase to pull it off. You’ve never had a better look at the Continental’s B-pillar.

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Spooky: Hispano-Suiza Car Brand Hopes to Return From the Dead

It’s fitting that we’re bringing you this story today. For years, scientists have longed to resurrect a dead corpse, but there’s now a plan afoot to do the same with a long-defunct car brand: Hispano-Suiza.

Known for its production of aircraft engines as much as its series of glitzy, early 20th century automobiles, the original Hispano-Suiza brand ceased to exist in 1968, some 30 years after building its last car. Come next March’s Geneva Motor Show, we’ll see what the founder’ great-grandson has in mind for the brand’s future.

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VW Reveals the Last Beetle - And This Time, It's Final. Maybe.

The Volkswagen Beetle, a machine that has a grand total of three (count ’em) generations since its introduction, will be ushered out the factory door in Puebla next July. The modern Bug, as we know it today, showed up as a concept car in 1997 and entered production a couple of years later as the New Beetle. In 2011, the car found itself restyled and rechristened as simply the Beetle, just like the old Beetle. But not the New Beetle, even though most people continued to call the New New Beetle the New Beetle, despite its official name being simply Beetle.

Achtung! No one ever said naming conventions had to make sense.

Whatever you want to call it, production of the car will wrap up in mid-2019. As a send off, VW has crafted a special model option called the Final Edition.

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Niva No More? Lada Concept Vehicle Heralds the Demise of a Communist Classic

We’ve all seen movies set in the perpetually grey, bitterly cold Soviet Union (later Hollywood films featuring Russia were apparently allowed to show sunlight), but if you lived north of the border a few decades ago, it wasn’t just the weather that looked familiar.

Lada Canada imported Iron Curtain cars for two decades (1979 to 1997), offering rudimentary, pinko automobiles to Canadian cheapskates for very few kopeks. Your author recalls entering the high school library at the dawn of the internet age and slowly booting up the Lada Canada website, where a five-door Samara was advertised for $4,995. Few of these showed up on local roads, as Hyundai offered slightly better no-cost transportation options.

However, there was one Lada vehicle that can truly be considered a classic, and it’s the one everyone remembers best. Sadly, after more than 40 years of production, the virtually unchanged Niva (now known simply as the 4×4) seems destined, like the Berlin Wall, to pass into history.

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Ferrari Museum Exhibitions Mark Enzo Ferrari 120th Birthday, Showcase Bevy of Ultra-rare Italian Steel

To mark the 120th anniversary of the birth of Ferrari founder Enzo Ferrari, the Ferrari Museum in Maranello is launching two new exhibitions showcasing the man and the machines he was particularly fond of.

The first display is a photographic journey entitled “Passion and Legend,” which follows Enzo’s life and times at Ferrari. However, the second exhibit, called “Driven by Enzo,” looks to be the more interesting of the two. It features the various four-seater models driven personally by Ferrari. While Enzo was known to test every vehicle the company produced, his penchant for the more-practical 2+2 frequently resulted in them becoming his daily driver. Interesting, considering the man supposedly only built road-going cars to fund his love of racing.

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Down the Freeway of Love in a Pink Cadillac, Up the Stairway to Heaven in a White LaSalle

As someone strongly identified with the Motor City, it’s not surprising that the music of Detroit’s Aretha Franklin had some association with cars. While she first gained superstardom in the 1960s, the Queen of Soul roared back into the Top 10 in 1985 with Freeway of Love, featuring the lyric “We goin’ ridin’ on the freeway of love/In my pink Cadillac.” Franklin, whose voice was likely unmatched in her generation, had a good ear for lyrics. A little known piece of music trivia is that Mack Rice changed Mustang Mama to Mustang Sally at Aretha’s suggestion.

If Detroit is famous for two things, they are indeed music and automobiles. Ms. Franklin’s career combined them both, so for her funeral the Motor City gave its Queen ‘Retha a proper automotive sendoff.

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Rare Rides: NSU's New Way to Wankel - the Spider From 1965 (Part IV)

Part III of this Rare Rides series explored how NSU readied itself to re-enter the car market and end its longstanding production tie-up with Fiat. Shortly after the painful divorce from the Italians, NSU’s first rotary-powered car was ready.

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Rare Rides: NSU's New Way to Wankel - the Spider From 1965 (Part III)

Part II of the NSU story gave some color to the company’s first bout of financial trouble, and how it passed on a Ferdinand Porsche design that would go on to become the Volkswagen Beetle a few years later.

As we left off last time, NSU and Fiat were locked in a longstanding disagreement about who could brand which cars in which way.

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Rare Rides: NSU's New Way to Wankel, the Spider From 1965 (Part II)

In Part I of this four-part NSU Rare Rides series, we covered the beginning of the NSU brand and its initial product offerings — which included knitting machines. The company moved into bikes and motorcycles, as well as a three-wheeler considered a midpoint between motorcycle and car.

The engineers were certainly busy, but all was not well over at the bank.

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Rare Rides: NSU's New Way to Wankel - the Spider From 1965 (Part I)

Back in the 1960s, a little German car company decided to spend a lot of money to create a new-to-them type of engine. The car company in question was NSU, and the engine that cost them so much money was a Wankel.

In a first-ever for the Rare Rides series, this will be a four-part entry. Come along as we explore the NSU brand and the Spider; a tiny roadster which ended up almost entirely responsible for the demise of its parent company.

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Jeep Wrangler JK Production Ends Friday; Model Will Cheerfully and Capably Dig Its Own Grave

Amid all the hoopla surrounding the new 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL, you’d be forgiven for not realizing there are still versions of the old model rolling off Jeep’s Toledo assembly line. But not for long.

Assembly of the Wrangler JK, introduced for the 2007 model year, carried on alongside its updated near-twin after the JL entered production last November, but that line grinds to a halt on Friday, April 27th. The model isn’t wanted anymore, and there’s an awfully lucrative vehicle that needs the space.

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Rare Rides: The Extremely Luxurious 1958 Dual-Ghia Convertible

The Rare Rides series started off in the early part of 2017 with a concept Ghia that was all Ford underneath. A year later we featured the Quicksilver, which wore Lincoln badges. And more recently, a Mercury Grand Monarch Ghia caught our brougham attention.

Time for some change, and to have a look at a Ghia which is all Chrysler beneath its luxury fittings and beautiful styling.

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FCA Wants to Turn Detroit Viper Factory Into an Auto Museum

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said Wednesday that it will transform the former Detroit production site of the Dodge Viper into a haven for historic vehicles. Unfortunately, it also said the collection will not be open to the public — at least not right away. Conner Avenue Assembly produced its last Viper in August, as updated safety regulations made future manufacturing impossible. The future of the site looked bleak. While large enough to produce hand-built models of a low-volume supercar, the 400,000-square-foot facility would prove insufficient for much else.

Many expected FCA to shutter the building until it could be sold.

Fortunately, that will not be the case. As the company prepares the space for the future, it’s auctioning hundreds of mass-produced and one-of-a-kind pieces of Viper memorabilia to benefit the local United Way. Afterward, the factory will be renamed Conner Center and house a collection of 85 of the company’s nearly 400 historic vehicles — cars FCA says have remained scattered across various locations for far too long. Hopefully, it’ll eventually let the public enjoy them.

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Jaguar Engages in Yet Another 'Once-in-a-lifetime Project' With D-Type Roadster Revival

Jaguar has announced the D-Type is re-entering production this week, part of a “once-in-a-lifetime project” designed to get 25 examples of the iconic racer back on the streets. While it’s always exciting to see a venerable model resurface after a six-decade absence, this is nothing new for Jaguar. The company did a limited continuation of the E-Type coupe in 2015, the XKSS in 2016, and a singular electric-powered E-Type prototype in 2017.

That means the “new” D-Type is just another entry in Jaguar Classic’s ultra-premium heritage collection. However, this does not mean the continuation cars aren’t any less cool than a penguin perched atop a glacier adjusting his brand-name sunglasses.

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A Quiz: Henry Ford Museum Pops the Hood - What Engine is That?

One of the red-circled events on my calendar every year is the Detroit Autorama, arguably the world’s best custom car and hot rod show. As is fitting for an event in the Motor City, the vehicles competing for the Autorama’s top prize, the Ridler Award, must actually function, they have to be driven onto the show floor under their own power, and the hoods are up during judging so the judges can evaluate the engine compartment.

While that makes for fair competition, it also makes for less-than-ideal photography of the cars’ styling. No kid sitting in seventh-grade study hall ever drew a hot car with the hood up.

It might surprise you, then, that I was excited to find out about the Engines Exposed exhibit running until the end of February at the Henry Ford Museum’s Driving America display.

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The Original Microcar Is Reborn in China

A Chinese car brand with the same name as a defunct American brand is building the spiritual successor to a famous BMW model that wasn’t really a BMW.

Eagle, a brand of China’s Suzhou Eagle, has begun production of the EG6330K — a model whose name rolls off the tongue like Thunderbird. If the diminutive little car looks familiar, it should.

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The Taillight Factor: When Heritage Becomes Dangerous Cargo

I’ve long said that stereotypes exist for a reason, perhaps to my ever-increasing danger from the “that’s problematic!” crowd. In many cases, however, it’s a false assumption. An unfair one. We’re a society of individuals who do things and like things for a variety of reasons.

Not every Silverado driver is a backwards-thinking hayseed. For from it. In the same vein, not every Challenger owner is a brash, nature-hating blockhead whose intellect never rose above a high school level. Not every Bimmer owner is a terrible boss and womanizer who hasn’t made use of a turn signal since the early 1990s. Not every Journey owner is oblivious to the presence of other, higher-quality vehicles on the market — their dealer just made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.

Still, automotive stigmas exist, and persist. General Motors once found out the hard way that holding on to the past was actually harming the future of its halo car.

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Is It Time to Kiss the Jaguar XJ - at Least As We Know It - Goodbye?

The Jaguar XJ, a slinky lineage of high-end saloons known for shuttling around British PMs, fictional heads of MI6, and The Equalizer, might not be around for much longer. At least not in the manner we’re used to seeing it.

British publication Autocar claims the automaker plans to spring a wholly new, “reinvented” flagship model on us before too long, and it won’t have an inline-six, V8, or V12 under the hood. It won’t use any gas at all. Nor will it remain a sedan.

Looking around at today’s vehicular landscape, it may be the only way to save the XJ.

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QOTD: Which Cars Failed to Meet the OEM's Hype?

Back in December, Matthew Guy penned an interesting QOTD post soliciting your picks for the most outrageous new car introduction. In the case of the new-for-1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Bob Lutz drove Chrysler’s new (and important) SUV up a set of stairs at Cobo Hall and through a plate glass window. History revealed the hype to be justified: the Grand Cherokee became an instant success, finding its way into suburban middle-class driveways across America.

Sometimes, though, the new product doesn’t live up to the manufacturer’s hype before introduction. Let’s talk disappointment.

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Misfit Machines: Ilin VALEM TA6 Amamit

Obscure cars fascinate me, which may be why I so much like Corey Lewis’ Rare Rides series on unusual and limited edition vehicles. Unfortunately, when you’ve been to as many car shows as I have, you can become a bit jaded; sometimes, unusual limited-edition vehicles don’t quite satisfy that jones for the weird and strange.

Corey’s Rides are usually some kind of actual production vehicle, something you might actually be able to buy. I’m thinking more like something you’d find tucked away in the corner of some private car museum somewhere outside of BFE.

Sometimes you need a hotshot of pure uncut obscure right to the mainline. That’s what Misfit Machines is all about. I’d like to say it’s going to be completely strange, but they’ll most likely all have wheels, so I’m aiming at 99 percent weird.

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Dan Gurney, One of the People Who Has Made America Great

He called his cars — made in California — Eagles, and his friends and fans nicknamed him Big Eagle. His company and team were the All American Racers (though they raced Toyotas for some time). He was one of less than a handful of American drivers to win in Formula One, but the only one to do so in an American race car, built in his own shop. He, along with A.J. Foyt and Roy Lunn, helped The Deuce kick il Commendatore’s ass at LeMans, in a car designed and built in Dearborn, Michigan. There was even a lighthearted attempt to draft him to run for president.

Dan Gurney was quintessentially American, one of the people who have made the United States a great country.

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Ford Resurrects the Mustang Bullitt as Film's 50th Anniversary Nears

The first Bullitt go-round was a 2001 attempt to upgrade the Mustang GT with a modicum of extra power and a styling nod to an old movie that couldn’t be more forgettable, were it not for a stellar chase sequence. The 2001-2002 Mustang Bullitt, however, couldn’t do anything about its facelifted 1990s sheetmetal, which hardly asks, “Are you going to San Francisco?”

It was the fifth-generation Mustang’s retro design that proved a far more suitable canvas for Ford’s performance brush. Endowed with a more generous helping of brawn, the 2008-2009 Bullitt was a fitting homage to a certain Dark Highland Green ’68 Mustang 390. Still, all good things must come to an end. Or do they?

If you’ve heard rumors recently, consider this a confirmation. The Bullitt is back, just in time for the 50th anniversary of the Steve McQueen flick that made chassis-bending jumps popular a decade before the Duke boys. Driven onto the Cobo Center stage in Detroit by McQueen’s granddaughter, Molly McQueen, the Sunday night reveal of Ford’s turtleneck-and-sport-coat ‘Stang was a pleasant distraction from the automaker’s incessant future-speak.

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Mercedes-Benz Cast a 1979 280GE in Synthetic Amber for NAIAS

In celebration of the redesigned G-Class, Mercedes-Benz has decided to cast the original G-Wagen in fake amber. The massive instillation is suppose to convey the timelessness of the SUV’s design — which is good, because we don’t think Daimler is going to bother changing the look of the new one all that much.

“The amber cube puts the uniqueness of the G-Class in a nutshell” explained Dr Gunnar Güthenke, head of Mercedes-Benz’s off-road vehicle unit. “Our cult off-road vehicle has been continuously evolving for nearly 40 years – without losing its character or its core values. Its DNA is stronger than time and than any fashion trend. The cube expresses this to stunning effect and thus embodies the objective for advancing the G-Class.”

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At Nissan, Defunct Models Never Die - Their Webpages Live on Forever

Like most people, you’re probably thinking of sliding into a brand spankin’ new two-door SUV convertible in the new year. Who isn’t? But the Range Rover Evoque Cabriolet is just too nouveau riche for your discerning tastes; you’re thinking of something less snooty, something more relatable to the common man.

Hey, doesn’t Nissan sell a Murano CrossCabriolet? That sounds more up your street. Grabbing your cup of Swiss Water decaf, you head over to the interwebs to take a gander at the CrossCabriolet. Hopefully there’s still one available in light teal. Well, what do you know? Here’s the webpage, just as you hoped.

Hold on a minute — all of this juicy CrossCabriolet info is written in past tense!

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The Dream of the '70s Is Alive… In Minnesota

The Wikipedia page for Wells, Minnesota, tells us it’s the birthplace of Secret Service agent Larry Buendorf, best known for collaring Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme before the unhinged former Manson Family member could get the sights of her Colt 1911 on President Gerald Ford.

What the page doesn’t tell you is that the ’70s are back, baby, but only if you live (or take a trip to) Wells, Minnesota. The requirement for this time travel? Ownership — or the purchase — of a late-model Chevrolet Silverado.

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As Falls the G20, So Falls the Chevrolet SS

Don’t look now, but there’s a major shortage affecting the automotive industry. Well, maybe that’s putting it a bit too strongly. There is a major shortage — but it primarily affects the automotive blogging industry, and the shortage in question is a shortage of history.

Here’s the problem in a nutshell: There are approximately one zillion car websites on the Internet, each of them trying to cook up 10 new stories a day to “increase engagement.” So how do you get those 10 stories? You can get a few of them from Automotive News and a few more from press releases, but that won’t fill the hopper all the way to the brim. To paraphrase the talking house in D.H. Lawrence’s sublime The Rocking-Horse Winner, “There must be more stories!” So you start looking for Wacky Car History Features to write. The problem is that this ground has been worn smooth by the grubby fingers of the second-tier blogger class. Everything you can think of has already been written up 10 times by drooling morons. The Mercedes 500E? The “Pasha” interior Porsches? The Mazda Cosmo? They’ve all been done to death. You’d better start looking at more esoteric stuff than that, like the Mitsuoka Viewt… oh shit, that’s been covered thirty times.

Eventually you give up and just start throwing darts at the Standard Catalog Of Imported Cars. Which brings us to Jason Torchinsky’s “Meh Car Monday” on the Infiniti G20. I think Torch is a great writer and a great person and a great dad, and to be fair the G20 piece is pretty well-balanced. The G20 has received much worse from far less talented writers; Doug DeMuro applied his genial disregard for the truth in the vague direction of the smallest Infiniti a few years back, claiming that it was just a Sentra. He was wrong, and Torch is careful to disavow that claim in his piece, but I’m a little troubled nevertheless.

Allow me to explain why the G20 was anything but “meh”, and why it’s important to remember that fact.

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1999 Isuzu Vehicross Retro Review - You Can Go Your Own Way

The most successful piece of used car advice I ever gave a friend involved telling her to buy a secondhand Chevrolet Cobalt.

Shock! Horror! Boredom! It panned out, though. No lie.

My friend was on her way to take a newspaper job in the wilds of northern British Columbia. She needed something reliable and ubiquitous. Something affordable to buy, but more importantly, something affordable to fix in a market not exactly saturated with premium imports. I knew from experience that the bland box’s 2.2-liter Ecotec was pretty bulletproof. Six years on, and that ’08 Cobalt, now located on the other side of the country, is still going strong. Operating expenses? Practically nonexistent.

Not long ago, a very different phone call preceded another friend’s used car purchase.

My godson’s dad, a full-time entertainer and owner of a Scion xB (past owner of a ’72 Super Beetle, too), doesn’t do things quietly. Kudos for being avant-garde, even in your driving preferences. Having just recently moved to a remote lakeside compound in some rugged territory over an hour north of town, the lure of a second vehicle had grown overwhelming. Work gigs, a wife who works in the city, two kids staying over on the weekend — maintaining a one-car lifestyle was next to impossible. Never mind what the bike fanatics say.

“I’ve found a four by four,” he told me.

“Oh yeah,” I said, assuming he’d locked in on an old four-wheel-drive GMC Sonoma, or perhaps some beat-up, mid-2000s crossover.

“You’ll never guess what it is,” he continued. Well, consider me intrigued … and suddenly worried.

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The Man Who Saved the Porsche 911 From Oblivion Has Died

It’s kind of difficult to imagine if you aren’t old enough to remember, but there was a period in the 1980s when the Porsche 911 was almost removed from the automotive landscape. In 1979, Porsche had made plans to replace the 911 with the new 928. The working logic was that the 911 was too quirky, impractical, and a bit of a handful. Porsche executives figured it just made good sense to swap it with something that had a broader appeal, especially as the company’s finances weren’t looking particularly robust at the time.

However, in 1981, Porsche AG found itself with a new chief executive — a German-born American named Peter Schutz. And he was having absolutely none of that nonsense.

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In Memoriam: Jack Smith, a Mopar Muscle Car Maestro

By 1966, muscle cars were hitting peak stride. But some argued they had become too expensive and strayed too far from the original concept. As performance models had grown in displacement and technology, some crossed into premium pricing territory. Pontiac’s GTO, for example, could easily exceed $4,000 with a handful of options when the average cost of an American automobile was closer to $2,750.

Enter Jack Smith.

Plymouth had fallen into the pricing pitfall like most other manufacturers. Smith, who owned a souped-up Belvedere II, had recently been promoted to head of the company’s mid-sized car planning division. He wagered the public might enjoy a car like his and Plymouth introduced the GTX in 1967 to compete with the GTO. But it was still too expensive, especially for a budget brand like Plymouth, and garnered a lukewarm sales response — which gave Jack an idea.

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Rare Rides: The 1983 DeLorean DMC-12 - a Gold-plated Opportunity?

The DeLorean DMC-12 is forever linked to the classic film Back to the Future, where the stainless steel wonder was converted into a conveyance for the purposes of time travel. But the silver screen was not the only place the DMC-12 underwent a transformation. A certain credit card company had a PR stunt in mind that saw the DeLorean plated with 24-carat gold.

Our Rare Ride today is what happens when a private owner attempts the same thing.

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Jeff Davis Vs Abe Lincoln: The Highway Edition

When considering the way some folks apply modern values to historical personages and events, I often think of two historical truths from the world of fiction. William Faulkner gave us, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past,” while L.P. Hartley opened his novel The Go-Between with, “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”

History resonates and rhymes, but things do change.

In America we are currently having a raging debate over whether or not prior remembrances of the past will be effaced because the people remembered were flawed human beings who, in some cases, embraced causes or beliefs many people today consider to be odious. Most recently, Charlottesville, Virginia, has been ground zero for the controversy, with extremists latching on to the issue — resulting in a horrific vehicular homicide.

Peripherally to the events in Chalottesville, the city council of Alexandria, Virginia, has voted to rename the section of the Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway that travels through their city.

How that road got named after the president of the Confederate States of America more than a century ago — and nearly 50 years after the end of the Civil War — is an interesting exploration into culture, race, and the history of transportation in America.

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How Roy Lunn Invented the Crossover for Just $6.5 Million

Roy Lunn passed away recently at the age of 92, not long after being named to the Automotive Hall of Fame. The name may be unfamiliar, but any one of his manifold achievements probably would have merited inclusion in that august institution.

Lunn was in charge of creating the Aston Martin DB2, progenitor to the James Bond cars. Moving to Ford, he had a seminal role in the development of the Anglia 105-E, Ford’s first postwar hit in Europe and the foundation of much of the brand’s later success on the continent. At Dearborn he engineered the first Mustang concept and was then put in charge of Ford Motor Company’s all-out assault on Ferrari at LeMans with the GT40, developments of which won that race four years in a row.

With LeMans conquered, he became chief engineer at American Motors, going from a virtually unlimited budget with Ford Racing to having to turn AMC’s pigs ears into silk purses, and come in at budget, too. At American Motors, Lunn helped make the original XJ Cherokee arguably the most durable American vehicle ever made.

Lunn didn’t know it at the time, but he also invented what we today call the crossover, or CUV — the UV standing for Utility Vehicle, not ultraviolet. In a sentence, a crossover is a vehicle based on a passenger car but with more ground clearance, a long, station wagon-like roofline, a rear hatch, and some kind of drive system that puts motive force at all four wheels.

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Fast Cars, Fooling Around, and Formula 1 in Montreal

With contributions by Sebastien Bell and Sam McEachern

Mechanics have made their last-minute checks, drivers circulate sur la piste managing tire and brake temperatures, engineers confirm strategies; cars stage on the starting grid, the dissonant cacophony of twenty 1.6-liter V6 hybrid Formula 1 engines spooling reverberates through the grandstands as five red lights illuminate sequentially…

Hosted on Montreal’s Île Notre-Dame since 1978, the Grand Prix Du Canada has always been a special place for the Formula 1 paddock. For decades, drivers have loved the city’s vibrating atmosphere and unbridled passion for the sport, but what they really love is the circuit’s proximity to a devilish downtown core drowning in alcohol and impeccably dressed women.

Why do you think we like it?

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Rare Rides: Classic Talbot is a Simca or Matra, and Always a Rancho

Today’s Rare Ride was inspired directly by this comment on the Question of the Day, where I asked which car brand you’d bring back from the dead if given the chance. Commenter Menlo suggested the oft-forgotten Talbot, and specifically a unique vehicle they used to make.

Now we can all learn about the Matra Rancho.

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The Replacement for Displacement: Plotting Our Path Out of the Malaise Era

Around the time of the Bicentennial, 300 horsepower was reserved for from-the-factory supercars and custom builds aimed at the drag strip. Today, you can find family sedans eclipsing that benchmark without a lot of trouble. Compare the first decade of Toyota Corollas to hit North American shores to their modern day equivalents and you’ll note that 0 to 60 time have been almost halved.

It’s the same with most models. A few years ago, I had the privilege of driving a well-maintained 1977 Oldsmobile Omega and wondered how enthusiasm ever survived malaise era automobiles. It must have been the gorgeous styling keeping us going.

Modern cars aren’t just more powerful, they’re also far more efficient and significantly less dirty. Additional safety regulations and standard equipment should have left us with bogged-down fuel hogs, yet automakers have managed to roll with the punches — not just maintaining the status quo but routinely moving it forward. However, to really appreciate just how far we’ve come you need to see those decades of progress plotted.

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Uber's Legal Woes Are Nothing Compared to Taxicabs' Early Days

The Uber transportation network has had its share of legal woes. When there’s a Wikipedia entry specifically on protests and legal action, including hundreds of lawsuits, against Uber, you know the company is doing its part in keeping attorneys employed.

Uber’s legal matters include claims of employment discrimination, harassment and retaliation, invasion of privacy, labor law violations, an intellectual property dispute with Alphabet/Google’s Waymo division over autonomous vehicles, the use of “grayballing” software to avoid detection by police enforcing local taxi laws, the possible criminal use of an application named Hell that tracked its competitors at Lyft, plus continuing drama involving Uber’s previous CEO Travis Kalanick.

That may seem like a unsavory stew of legal problems, but it’s small potatoes compared to the early days of the taxicab business, when bribery, stock manipulation, trademark infringement, jury tampering, bombings, and even murder was how business was done.

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Hyundai's South Pole Stunt is Good for Marketing, Better for History Geeks

Northerners, and almost all Canadians, will tell you that starting your car in -28 Celsius (-18.4 Fahrenheit) weather is a drag, but at least it wasn’t colder that morning.

With this in mind, the temperatures experienced during an expedition to the South Pole in that continent’s high summer aren’t outside the realm of personal knowledge. A good many of us have gauged the frostiness of the outside air by the speed in which our nose hair freezes.

Still, Hyundai’s recent stunt, which put famed explorer Ernest Shackleton’s great-grandson behind the wheel of a modified Santa Fe Sport, impresses. It’s not solely the distance covered, the conditions experienced during the 3,600-mile crossing of Antarctica, or the mechanical feat of turning a pedestrian crossover into the most rugged of all-terrain vehicles. It’s the historical tie-in.

If you grew up reading — and re-reading — Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, you know what I mean. Hollywood writers could not have penned a better adventure, nor can any scientific-minded person believe that such a feat was even survivable.

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  • MaintenanceCosts I saw my first IS500 out in the wild today (a dark-grey-on-black example) and it struck me that it was much more AMG-like than this product. (Great-looking and -sounding car.)
  • ToolGuy https://youtu.be/Jd0io1zktqI
  • Art Vandelay Props for trying something different. EVs should work well in this sort of race. The similar series running ICE run short distances like that
  • ToolGuy Well they wet the track down using sea water - from the South Pacific Ocean. Oceans may have a large amount of water, but it isn't infinite, is it? No, it isn't. So if this sport really takes off, what will happen when the ocean is drained? (And once you put the water on the dirt, how does it ever get back to the ocean?)
  • Bobbysirhan Some friends of mine were dazzled by a CUE demo that circulated on YouTube before this car reached the market. I was bewildered why anyone wanted a car as durable and dependable as their cellphones, but to each their own. One of them did actually show up with an XTS V-sport when the car first came out. He showed people CUE in my driveway, but I don't recall him offering demonstration rides to the assembled imported luxury car drivers. In the months that followed, I never saw or heard about the Cadillac again. He went back to driving his Yukon Denali until I moved away a year or two later.