Category: History

By on March 12, 2021

Mercedes

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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By on August 27, 2020

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. Read More >

By on August 14, 2020

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.  Read More >

By on March 17, 2020

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.  Read More >

By on March 3, 2020

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.  Read More >

By on December 19, 2019

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.  Read More >

By on September 9, 2019

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.  Read More >

By on December 29, 2018

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. Read More >

By on December 18, 2018

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). Read More >

By on December 17, 2018

Image: Lincoln

It’s true. You’ll soon be able to slap down a pile of hard-earned cash for a 2019 Lincoln Continental with suicide 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. Read More >

By on October 31, 2018

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.  Read More >

By on September 14, 2018

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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By on September 5, 2018

Image: Lada

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. Read More >

By on September 5, 2018

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.  Read More >

By on July 9, 2018

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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