(first posted 6/15/2015) This 1970s-era Checker Marathon photographed in Red Hook, Brooklyn has some interesting parallels to its surroundings. For many years, Red Hook was just a simple, industrial neighbourhood, situated close to what was once New York’s busiest port. In recent times, despite its sparse subway coverage, the area has become a somewhat trendy, hipster-ish locale. The Checker Marathon was a no-nonsense, workmanlike car that sold almost entirely to fleets. Lately, though, you may spot the odd Checker being driven around NYC, not dented and driven by a grizzled cabbie, but rather lovingly restored and enjoyed by an enthusiast.
(first posted 6/16/2015) It’s easy to understand the spell American V8s cast upon gearheads all over the world. The sound, the “punch like” acceleration, the whole “bad ass” attitude it represents. Here in Brazil it’s no different; we are suckers for “American Muscle”, and this passion began a long time ago. And just like in the US, as well as number of other countries, it all started with the Ford Flathead, that was imported from the USA in during the 30s, 40s and 50s.
The recipe was simple: the Ford V8s were plentiful, affordable, and easy to squeeze some extra horses out of it. But just how it came to Brazil, and how our country kept it going and turned the little flatty into an ohv hemi-head is a story worth telling. Read the rest of this entry »
The question posted under the title is of course easy to answer: Yes. The question remains though: Why did Oldsmobile chose a gigantic personal luxury coupe to re-introduce FWD for American cars? Most of the inherent advantages of FWD, such as better space utilization, were utterly wasted here. Yes, there’s no central tunnel, but who cares in a personal luxury coupe that typically had four bucket seats and a big console?
Meanwhile, Oldsmobile, GM “advanced technology division”, used utterly obsolete and downright dangerous drum brakes on the Toronado. FWD, with its inherent front weight bias, utterly overpowered drum brakes already very marginal on American RWD cars. That alone was a Deadly Sin, although I think the whole exercise was, except perhaps for the Toro’s flamboyant if impractical styling. But its body could just as easily have sat on the Riviera’s RWD chassis. If Oldsmobile had wanted to be truly advanced, they would have used the new FWD Unitary Power Package (“UPP”) in an equally advanced body concept, like a mini van or such.
Let’s not forget that the Toronado was a pretty significant sales dud, under-performing its projections. It wasn’t until GM’s X-cars in 1980 that a truly relevant GM FWD package was created.
Given that this is CConvertible Week™ and after Paul regaled us with that stunner of a 1948 Ford Sportsman, I thought I might share another rarity from a faraway land and a very different time. They do share a few common traits: they’re both red and only lasted a couple years. The venerable Ford is now expensive and rare, and the latter is certainly true of this Daihatsu.
Pulp Fiction has to be one my favorite movies of all-time. It’s not for everybody, and I certainly don’t recommend it for family viewing, as it has an MPAA rating of “R” (for violence, drug use, and a few other things). I had rented the VHS tape from Blockbuster Video maybe only a couple of years after its initial release, and was watching on the family VCR in the living room with a friend. Continuing a trend that had started some years before, my parents, and particularly my dad, had an eerie, uncanny ability to walk into the living room to see what we kids were watching during the most uncomfortable scenes while this could happen. In the case of Pulp Fiction, it was the pawn shop scene, and that’s all I’ll say about that. I may still be traumatized by the sound of the rattan chair in the living room creaking with the sound of my dad settling down into it immediately before the start of one of this movie’s most nightmarish sequences. (Why, Dad, why couldn’t you just stay in your study with your books and nice thoughts and let us have our movie?)
Security Update: Inactive Authors and Contributors Have Lost Posting Access – But You Can Readily Get it Back
CC has been hacked before, and there have been highly targeted efforts to access my account using an automated password generator (scary, watching endless log-in attempts every day for over a week). In order to minimize security risks, all authors and contributors who have not posted in the past 4-6 months have been downgraded to subscriber level. Nothing personal, and I’m glad to restore access if you’re wanting to contribute, as long as you use a CC-specific and very strong password.
Which is also mandatory for all those that are currently active posters: Please make sure your password is unique to CC, and very strong. Thanks.
(first posted 6/14/2015. updated 6/13/2021) Poor Virgil Exner; poor Dodge. The early sixties were such a rough time for them both; they were so misunderstood. Or they just misunderstood the American buyer. Both, realistically. But the damage from the 1962 models was done, and now the clean-up crew—headed by new Design VP Elwood Engel—had to get Dodge (and the other Chrysler lines) sanitized and looking less alien. By 1964, the job was pretty much finished, although it didn’t exactly result in a very compelling car. But it was bland and safe. Read the rest of this entry »
The SVX was a leap too far for Subaru. But during the great “Bubble Era” in Japan, when they were going to take over the world, creating something as ambitious as the SVX was really not surprising.
They’re shooting a movie or tv series in Chris Cieslak’s neighborhood, as he has documented with a series of shots posted at the Cohort. I like the car casting, as they’re not the all-too common overly-pristine cars seen too often. Nice variety too, including a rather rare ’56-’57 Rambler, in front of the Hillman Minx.
There are many ways to tackle a legend like the 911, mostly because there are so many 911s to choose from. Air-cooled or water-cooled? Stock or modded? Coupé or drop-top? Carrera or S? There’s a 911 for every taste, nay for every fetish! And I will confess to having a thing about chrome, the colour blue, thin bumpers… And the occasional Fuchs, if available, is always appealing.
The CC Vintage R&T Library Is Now Fully Stocked Back To January 1966, Thanks To Lee J. – Let’s Start With A Few Ads
Lee J. has sent me the last shipment of his R&T collection, going back to January 1966, and ending in 1991. He sent the first batch a couple of years ago, and I’ve been struggling to get through them, which will take quite some time. This is really a remarkable and generous gift, as I always held R&T in high esteem for the greater objectivity of its road tests. I actually started a binder collection of their stats page in middle school, so I could have a handy reference in case of debates about 0-60 times and such. This fulfills that desire to a vastly higher level, and I’m most appreciative.
I’m going to be scanning several decades at one time, as I don’t want to get lost in just one. And for the oldest, we’ll start with this January 1966 issue, which has the Mustang by Bertone on the cover, and road tests of the new Toronado and the VW 1600 fastback. We’ll get to those very shortly; in the meantime, here’s a few random ads and the classified ads, in case you want to call and see if that Ferrari California swb for $6,000 is still for sale.
When Nissan introduced their Kicks model back in 2018, my thoughts were that this is something that people might want. Officially it replaced the Nissan Juke, a highly polarizing design, but it also pretty much replaced the Nissan Versa hatchback in Nissan’s lineup. Most thought the Kicks to be a way to garner more profit over the Versa but didn’t account for the fact that it was much more affordable than the Juke, partly due to using the Versa’s running gear and not offering AWD, a bit of a gamble in the segment.
Three years later, the Kicks has had a mid-cycle refresh and offers even more content than before along with some tweaks to keep it relevant in the market. While the Kicks itself starts at $19,550 plus an $1,150 destination charge for the basic S trim, stepping up to the SV or the SR adds surprisingly little to the tab, it’s a tight spread across the range. Nissan offered to lend us a top of the line SR with a whole slew of optional extras last week and as their smallest SUV it made quite the counterpoint to the Armada, their largest SUV, that we had the week before. Read the rest of this entry »
Curbside Classic/Design History: Mercedes-Benz 190SL (W121) – Basking in the Glow of an Extremely Bright Halo.
(first posted 6/13/2015) Half this story just sort of fell into my lap when I was researching my BMW piece. Then Paul’s callout for Convertible Week had me dusting off pics of this 190SL I’d caught in the mild autumn sun amid the congested Saturday morning Melbourne traffic.
So I went and did some more research, and… well… things got bigger…
This line-up is the end result of an investment of over one billion euros, the biggest innovation project in the truck maker’s history so far. An entirely new generation of top model DAFs, designed from scratch. Meet the successors to the current XF-series, from left to right: the 2021 XG+, XG and XF.