OK; old British cars have a rep, but this one has been defying it for many years. I’ve seen it coming and going on the streets of Eugene since well before I started documenting the old heaps here. But I could never catch it; not so much because it was being driven particularly fast, but either I was on foot, or at a red light, or going the other way. But then one day at the place Stephanie calls my home away from home, there it was. I half expected to see some 2x4s strapped to its hardtop. Well, for a car with an engine that started out in a tractor, why not? Read the rest of this entry »
Take a compact economy car chassis and make it into an inexpensive utility vehicle for your country’s armed forces. In Germany, this formula produced the Volkswagen-based Kubelwagen (“Bucket Car”), a successful design that was the Jeep of the German armed forces during the Second World War. After the war, the Kubelwagen would begat the civilian market Type 181 Thing, which became a popular beach cruiser, still seen on the road in far-flung sunny places from California to Bali. In the United Kingdom, this formula produced a more esoteric vehicle: the Mini Moke.
This is the kind of stuff I inhaled as a fifteen year-old: Brock Yates analyzing the British Car industry, and prognosticating. It’s a bit long-winded, from a time when we weren’t bombarded with media flying at us from all directions and we craved long articles to fill the time (and brains). And of course, it’s old hat; we know how the British car industry essentially melted down and away; the few remaining remnants (except Morgan) all in the hands of foreign ownership. But if you have the time, here’s a trip back to 1968, when the British auto industry was really just beginning to face its do or die situation. (from the December 1968 issue of Car and Driver). Read the rest of this entry »
By 1961, the Rootes Group was established as one of the Big Four in the UK, along with BMC (Austin/Morris/MG/Wolseley/Riley), Ford and Vauxhall (representing GM and then still separate from Opel). Rover and Triumph trailed behind all four, and would eventually combine with BMC to form British Leyland. But Rootes had two major issues, and the Super Minx was its response to the bigger of the two, size wise, anyway. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s time to leave poor GM alone for a while, and move on to that all-time favorite automotive scapegoat: British cars. We’ve got a couple of CCs lined up today, a reprint of an old Brock Yates look at the British industry, and maybe we’ll squeeze in something else. I wish I had time to do this superb XK-E justice today, but it’s been a hectic (but exciting) week here.
But let’s use this post to reminisce a bit about an industry that has brought us some of the most lust-worthy vehicles ever, as well as some of the all-time greatest stinkers. Here’s an abbreviated overview of some of those highs and lows, and then it’ll be your chance to wax eloquently – or have a PTSD moment – about your Brit car experiences. But let’s look for some nuance too, as it’s all-too easy to fall into easy stereotypes. Read the rest of this entry »
No, we’re getting into industry news. But the Australian Falcon has a special place in our hearts. Not just because of its storied name, that it’s RWD, and the fact that its potent 261 hp DOHC six cylinder engine has its origins in the lowly 1960 Falcon six. But it marks the end of a long tradition of Australian Ford production, that dates back to 1925 and the Model A.
The high value of the Australian dollar, along with the globalization of the industry, just don’t make auto production in Australia viable, as well as a consumer shift to smaller cars. I saw this coming years ago, but there’s naturally been a lot of denial. So how long will Holden hold on?
guardian.uk hat tip to robadr!
The 2016 Dodge Charger hunched in the driveway like an indignant, angry beast while its owner gently played the hose across the car’s brilliant red paint. The car was a work of art, long and lean with sumptuous body lines fronted by a wide mouthed grill that made one instantly think of some ancient predator from the Jurassic sea. The headlights added to the impression, sculpted and arched in such a way that anyone who wandered across the car’s path would instantly know the beast’s attention was focused fully upon them. It was, as one reviewer described it, a sculpture of pure adrenaline and aggression laid down in steel and set on 18 inch wheels. It was hard to believe that tomorrow would be the car’s 100th birthday. Read the rest of this entry »
Any way you slice it, General Motors made many mistakes in its long history. Good cars, bad cars, government meddling, shrinking vehicles and corporate idiocy all have a part in what New GM is today, and why Old GM perished. Did they learn their lesson? Will they turn it around? It’s too early to tell, but one thing I disagree with is that the original Cadillac Seville was a deadly sin. I just don’t see it.
Was it in response to VW’s Automatic Stickshift? In the spring of 1968, Chevrolet introduced its own semi-automatic transmission, called Torque Drive. It turned out to be even less popular than VW’s autostick, and was created a different way. Whereas VW put a torque converter in front of a manual transmission, Chevy dumbed down its venerable two-speed Powerglide automatic (full history here) so that one had to shift it manually. A somewhat dumb move, it turns out. Read the rest of this entry »
On my recent trip to Meadville, PA, about two hours north of Pittsburgh, for one of my nephew’s college graduations, I stopped off along the way to pay a visit to the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum in Auburn, Indiana, just north of Ft. Wayne. One of the cars that I found on display there totally knocked me out. For one thing, its a totally outrageous design, and secondly, it was never a production model, only one ever having been built. And it was destroyed. Read the rest of this entry »