Springfield Buick: The Little Dealership That Time Forgot – Is It The Last (Or Smallest) Stand-Alone Buick Dealer?
(first posted 2/22/2013. And Springfield Buick is still going strong) You want to know what small-town car dealerships were like many decades ago? In downtown Springfield, across the river from Eugene, Springfield Buick is like a time machine, except that the cars are new. Family owned since its opening in 1949, this little Buick store has bucked many trends, as well as GM’s edict to eliminate stand-alone stores as part of their post-bankruptcy reorganization. Did it somehow fall through the cracks? No matter; here it still is, just like it always has been for 64 years. Let’s drop in for a visit. Read the rest of this entry »
The Lotus Elite was a big step for little Lotus, in an effort to expand its offerings beyond the ultra-light sports cars it had mostly built its reputation and business on. In some ways, it was very much in tune with the times. But its price and ambitions to be a world class GT with a 2 liter four cylinder engine was a stretch. $16,000 ($72,000 adjusted) was serious money back then, like Porsche 911 Carrera money. And the 911, also a 2+2, could run circles around the Elite. No wonder the Elite was only marginally successful. Read the rest of this entry »
Someone loves them some good old classic Hondas. Are these the two best generations of their kind? There’s no doubt about that in regard to the Civic; the fourth generation was the peak Civic experience before it got fatter and dumpier. I absolutely loved these little sedans; in EX form, with the sweet-revving FI engine, this is just about the best small car ever built. The Accord? Read the rest of this entry »
All good things must come to an end. Unfortunately, this is true of everything- even the life of a rare, grey-market exotic Italian sports car.
Retro styling, so beloved in the early 2000s, lives on in the pony car segment. The bulging fenders and swooping rooflines of the newest Mustang and Camaro and the slavish homage that is the Challenger show the Big 3 aren’t taking any chances with the designs of their sporty offerings. Their styling plays like a Greatest Hits compilation, even if underneath the sheetmetal is all manner of modern technology like magnetorheological shocks and cylinder deactivation. But let’s cast our minds back to a time where Ford was far more willing to subvert the design orthodoxy in the segment they effectively created, when they launched the clean-sheet 1979 Mustang. Read the rest of this entry »
Prequel: Family history
Most Memorable: 1978 Chevrolet Caprice Classic
Rarest ( Have not seen one of the same year in 20 years): 1986 Pontiac Grand Am
Most Embarrassing: 1985 Chrysler LeBaron & 1987 Chrysler New Yorker Turbo
Least Reliable/Most Unusual: 1983 Saab 900
Most Surprising: 1988 Dodge Aries
Most Fun: 1995 Chevrolet Caprice 9C1
Most Beloved: 1995 Chevrolet Caprice Classic
Weirdest Experience: 1994 Dodge Caravan
Most Life Threatening/Scariest: 1990 GMC Suburban
Shortest Ownership: 1998 Plymouth Voyager and 1997 Ford Crown Victoria
When most people think of car photos on Craigslist, they think of blurry, out of focus pictures with strategically placed fingers blocking the license plate. However, one can occasionally find pictures of exceptional, almost artistic quality. Take these examples I found on a Craigslist ad about a year ago. For some reason, this set of photos really speaks to me – one was even the desktop wallpaper on my computer for quite some time.
Humankind is unique among animals for its need to stamp out a legacy for itself; after all, few willingly meet death’s long embrace without raging against the dying of the light. Unfortunately for most men, anonymity is all that the grave can offer, even when said men have accomplished something staggering in their lifetimes. This humble Hupmobile may be almost forgotten in the basement of a Cleveland auto museum, but its historical significance practically oozes from every blemish, and the voices of the men who drove it echo from the walls of its long time domicile.
Book Report: Elon Musk; Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future – The Henry Ford Of Our Times?
For those of us with an interest in automotive history, Elon Musk and Tesla is the biggest story that’s come along in a very long time. Watching it unfold in real time is highly fascinating and absorbing; we’re in the middle of the most transformative era in the automobile’s history since the 1920s. And Tesla is pioneering two of the most revolutionary technologies at the same time: electric propulsion and autonomous capability. The last successful start-up of a new automobile manufacturer in the US was Chrysler, in 1925. And even it failed, eventually. The only other major effort to break into this very competitive market was Kaiser-Frazer, in 1946, which lasted less than ten years. Neither of their efforts were genuinely revolutionary; Musk’s breadth of vision and scale overpowers them by a huge margin. The only possible parallel is Henry Ford.
Elon Musk is neither a modern executive in the usual sense nor a typical Silicon Valley entrepreneur; he’s a genuine builder of things, who is fulfilling his expansive childhood dreams of space travel, solar power, and electric cars by actually making them, from scratch. In his ability to transform his dreams into reality through the dint of almost super-human effort, intelligence, and the ability to inspire others to work (almost) equally hard, Musk is doing the seemingly impossible, and has become one of the most public and controversial personas of our time. Ashlee Vance’s biography, written over several years and with direct access to Musk, is a must-read for insight into the workings of his personality and the way he is re-shaping three (or more) significant industries at the same time. Here’s an overview: Read the rest of this entry »
(first posted 2/21/2013) The storied Bel Air name is mostly remembered for the glamorous 1955-1957 models. As a top line model it was dripping with flashy chrome, but the name ended its run in 1981 in Canada on something much more pedestrian, as a poverty-trim companion to the downsized Caprice/Impala.
Rubens gave us a detailed look at the Ford Maverick’s second life in Brazil. But there was another American ex-pat Ford already living in Brazil at the time; the Ford Landau, a reincarnation of the 1966 Galaxie/LTD that first showed up there in 1970, powered by the venerable Y-Block V8. And it was built through 1983. Alberto Simon shot this one, which has lost its door handles, and guesses that it’s from about 1980. It’s hard to tell. Read the rest of this entry »
Langdon Clay spent two years roaming the streets of New York City, shooting parked cars. The results are now available in a book, Langdon Clay, Cars – NYC 1974-1976, published by Steidl. Here’s a sampler of them for your viewing pleasure, starting with a real gem, titled “White Tower Car”. Read the rest of this entry »