Tag: History

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 20, 2020

Whoa, whoooaaaa, easy there. Take a breath — especially you, writers and alumns of a particular blog. In no way is that headline referring to anything political.

You’ll see. (Read More…)

By on August 6, 2020

Achingly simple question today, folks. With the demise of the Ford Fusion last week, the Blue Oval now fields zero domestic four-door sedans, leaving buyers to choose instead among a bevy of trucks and utility vehicles.

It’s the first time since 1908 that the automaker hasn’t built a U.S. passenger car with four doors (earlier pre-Model T models sported rear doors, but omitted the front). So, with plenty of history to choose from, which domestic Ford sedan gets your pick as best of the bunch? (Read More…)

By on August 5, 2020

With manufacturers having realized there’s a small but very interested market for historically relevant automobiles, we’ve seen some of the fancier names in motoring embrace “continuation models” with astronomical price tags.

Some of these cars are arguably better than the real thing, too. Jaguar and Aston Martin revived a handful of their finest products from the middle of the 2oth century, adding a smattering of modern technologies to make the cars more livable. And lacking the authenticity of being a true original results in substantially lower MSRPs — though calling them affordable would be a misnomer, as some continuation models still go for millions of dollars.

Case in point is the new/old Blower Bentley, which is the ultra-rare racing variant of the 1929 Bentley 4½-litre with the Roots-type supercharger sitting in front of radiator like a giant nose. Bentley announced in 2019 that it would build a dozen examples of the automotive icon — all of which were sold long before the manufacturer tightened a single bolt. Considering the staggering amount of work required to build a true continuation car (the manufacturer actually had to disassemble and scan every single part on an original 4½-litre just to create a digital blueprint), the coronavirus pandemic has been a sizable setback. Bentley now says that phase one of the plan has concluded and the automobile serving as the prototype/template for all subsequent models (Car Zero) has begun construction as parts start rolling in.

(Read More…)

By on August 4, 2020

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. (Read More…)

By on July 21, 2020

The setting: a dimly lit bar, which is the best kind of bar, and one that seems to have stepped out of another time. Old, overly varnished wood mingling with red faux leather on the chairs and booths, a stained glass lamp hanging over each corner nook, and a complete absence of daylight or identifiable exit. Are you even above ground? You can’t tell.

A din registering somewhere between pleasant background murmur and raucous cacophony ensures reasonable privacy from the introvert population of this half-filled saloon. The drinks adorning tables and bartop are not mango mojitos, but brown liquors. Some with ice, most without. This is a place where long-lasting, healthy relationships are not kindled, but where more than a few businessmen have stopped in for a last drink before jumping off that overpass or going home to clean dad’s rifle. Maybe Deep Throat drank here. Maybe, somewhere out there in the brightly lit streets that may as well be a million miles away, three-piece suits and sideburns are back in vogue, and every car has an ashtray.

As you ponder your surroundings, puzzled, disoriented, and more than a little intrigued, a figure moves towards your table. (Read More…)

By on July 20, 2020

Fame and notoriety in the automotive world isn’t achieved solely by power and price alone; sometimes a vehicle enters the public consciousness for reasons unrelated to exclusivity or motoring panache.

Which is why nearly everyone knows of the existence of a particular white, 102-horsepower Mercedes-Benz. The automaker certainly hasn’t forgotten, taking time recently to reminisce about that SUV’s development some 40 years ago this summer. (Read More…)

By on July 2, 2020

As you read in the previous post, Lincoln has finally admitted what everyone by now knew — that the Continental’s days are numbered. The marque plans to shelve the model after pulling the plug on production at the end of the year.

Big sedans have all the appeal of an uncontrolled cough in a crowded elevator right now, so there’s dim hope that the Continental name will ever grace a stately, rear-drive sedan or coupe in anyone’s near future. At least we have our memories, though… not all of which are good ones. (Read More…)

By on July 2, 2020

For the third and perhaps last time, Lincoln will cease production of the Continental.

The discontinuation of the slow-selling sedan at the end of 2020 was confirmed late Wednesday by Automotive News and quickly backed up by a statement from Lincoln, though the news was something we’ve expected for quite some time. It was foretold by unconfirmed past reports and a growing mountain of evidence.

Alas, this year’s destruction of things from the past did not spare a nameplate that first appeared in 1939. (Read More…)

By on June 26, 2020

ford

The hazy year of 1981 brought the world many things, among them, yours truly. It was also a year that sent bullets flying through the air towards several world figures; a year that saw interest rates soar to new heights (while horsepower values fell to dismal lows), and brought what was arguably the last year of true classic rock.

In the background, New Wave ominously gathered strength.

Also gathering strength? The Ford F-Series’s popularity, as the model line donned the hat of best-selling vehicle in the U.S. that year. The F-Series traces its lineage to the Truman administration, and we now have a new generation to ooh and aah over. (Read More…)

By on June 15, 2020

Your author was once a CNN addict. As soon as cable TV reached his humble childhood home, you could find him sitting cross-legged in front of that 20-inch set, absorbing a flood of diverse, on-the-scene news reporting taking place in a number of locales outside the Beltway. It was like Opposite World compared to today.

And yes, that impressionable youth stayed up late the night of June 17th, 1994, watching a certain white SUV make its way down an L.A. freeway. Twenty-six years later, the iconic nameplate that famously ferried the guy who played Detective Nordberg from Naked Gun (there was a football career, too, I’m told) is back, due for a July 9th reveal.

What are the odds that the (deferred) debut date happens to be the birthday of that infamous Bronco occupant? (Read More…)

By on May 20, 2020

Sometimes a commercial runs afoul of government overseers for reasons only an uptight, power-hungry bureaucrat could understand. Recall the UK giving Ford a hard time for suggesting its Mustang could go fast — perhaps even being capable of exceeding the speed limit. Worse yet, Ford implied that a driver might like it.

Over in Germany, an Instagram ad for the new Mk8 Golf took things in a more unsettling direction. We’re courting controversy ourselves just mentioning the incident, knowing that very concerned parties monitor our material regularly for the purpose of expressing online outrage over imagined word crimes. However, this occurrence is real, and it’s clearly something Volkswagen wishes had never happened. (Read More…)

By on April 22, 2020

Bentley

Bentley types are a discerning breed. Well versed in the world of leather and wood and highly respectful of heritage, these people interact with the brand like a museum curator. And the most discerning among them, those who claim to be most committed to preserving all that’s good and pure about the marque, aren’t happy with the automaker’s plan to hit “repeat.”

A present-day automaker churning out copies of a 90-year-old model? Blasphemy! (Read More…)

By on April 10, 2020

With no reason to risk going outside and industrial news at an all-time low, I’ve retreated into curiously dry hobbies as a way to maintain my sanity.

A substantial portion of my time has been devoted to parsing through old automotive catalogs and marketing materials. As someone who is notoriously difficult to shop for, dusty paperbacks that can easily be found for a nickel at any estate sale turned out to be ideal gifts… and I amassed a sizable collection. Over the weekend, I found myself going through vintage television spots — noticing they’re quite a bit different from the ads we encounter today.

While automotive marketing has evolved through the ages, there was a long stretch of time where companies basically just filmed a car driving around as a disembodied voice explained its strengths. This was back when advertisements featured voice-overs telling you that “Quality is Job 1” at Ford, or a choir of voices joyfully acknowledging that they absolutely loved what Toyota was doing for them.

Today, I’m celebrating the 30th anniversary of a totally mundane promotion from 1990 called “National Cadillac Week.” While the free AVIS rental and cash back on your purchase weren’t unusual (then or now), I happened to encounter it exactly three decades after it originally aired — as if destined by fate. It was a glaring reminder of how much car ads have changed in that time period. (Read More…)

By on March 24, 2020

“I’m a lawyer from Denver, Colorado, Mike… I probably can’t hit a thing.” – William Holden, The Bridges at Toko-Ri

Sometimes, things don’t work out the way you planned. Sometimes, despite erring on the side of caution and always treading the right path through life, fate deals a cruel blow. It’s just the way it is.

A man who did everything right can find himself dying in a muddy ditch, far from home. Other times, it’s an automotive brand laying in that ditch — a victim of circumstance, world events, changing societal trends, financial incompetence, or hasty cost-cutting. Whatever came before no longer matters.

Still, some deaths are worse than others. Which automotive demise was least charitable to the deceased? (Read More…)

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