Recent Posts

CC Video: ‘Happy Journey’ in a Tatra 603

(first posted 2/8/2017)    No journey back in time to large European rear-engine cars like the splendid one we had today would be complete without what is undoubtedly one of the most unusual promotional films ever made for a car. But then the Tatra 603 was an unusual car, and it more than deserves the starring role in this. Don’t miss it; or watch it again. Part 2 after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »


Big Rear-Engine Four-Door Cars: Part 2; The Europeans

(first posted 2/8/2017)    So we know the Czechoslovakian Tatras (a T603 is seen here in ’70s Bratislava), as well as those 411/412 VeeDubs with their awkward looks and poor performance, but what other big (over 1.6 litre) rear-engined four-door saloons did Europe produce? None? Well, close. Give or take a dozen…

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Vintage Comparison Test: 1977 Cadillac Seville, Chrysler LeBaron, Dodge Diplomat, Lincoln Versailles – Detroit Aims For The Black Forest, Hits Bloomfield Hills

(first posted 2/8/2017)     The mid-1970s were a tumultuous time for domestic automakers, with tried-and-true buyer preferences for “longer, lower, wider” morphing into “smaller and more logical,” even for more upmarket cars.  European brands like Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo were beginning to gain an unexpected foothold with affluent buyers, and the trend was exacerbated by the 1973 Oil Embargo, which made the merits of more efficient products even more apparent.  Detroit finally had to respond, but how?  Car and Driver took a look at the new “International-sized” premium segment in the May 1977 issue, comparing the new entrants from Lincoln, Chrysler and Dodge with the still-fresh, segment-leading Cadillac Seville.
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Car Carrier of the Day: The Cricket Invasion

And one of these might still be running like this one we featured here with over 500,000 miles on it.


Cohort Classic: 1949 Plymouth Special DeLuxe Club Coupe – It’s Pretty Special To Me

I’ve got a real soft spot for these postwar Plymouths. No, they’re not exactly beautiful on the outside, with their blocky tall bodies. In the immortal words of Chrysler President K.T. Keller: “Cars should accommodate people rather than the far-out ideas of designers…the styling won’t knock your hat off, but neither will getting in one of our cars…We build cars to sit in, not to pee over.”

That works for me. I love to look at low and svelte and sensuous cars, but when it’s time to actually get in one, give me tall and blocky any day. There’s a lot to love on the insides too.

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COAL – 2001 Chevy Malibu – It Was Good Enough For Me

In 2001 my rapidly growing family outgrew the Pontiac Sunfire coupe that had served us faithfully and reliably for 6 years.  We had a GMC Jimmy that was about to be replaced by a minivan, and it was time to trade the second car in for a 4 door sedan that could easily shuttle a baby and a toddler, both in car seats, for quick trips around town without having to use the minivan.  The Malibu was the only choice, and here’s why.

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Big Rear-Engine Four-Door Cars: Part 1; The Americans

(first posted 2/7/2017)    How many large (over 1.6 litres) rear-engined four-door cars can you name, offhand? The Corvair, obviously: the most widely-built “big” rear-engined car, over 1.6 million made. The Tatra, naturally: the first genuine production car with a motor in its tail, followed by several generations over six decades. The ’48 Tucker, of course: so cool they made a movie about it. Oh, and the sorry-looking Volkswagen Typ 4 (411/412). And… er, that’s it?

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Car Show Classic: 1973 Pontiac Grand Am – Meeting Your Heroes

(first posted 1/7/2017)    Some people lust after split-window Stingrays, or ’64 Mustangs, or Ferrari 250 GTOs. Me? One of my dream classic cars, probably my first choice if I had to fill a dream garage, is a 1973-75 Pontiac Grand Am. Some people might find that a tad batty – a humble GM A-Body, really? – but I feel if anyone can understand my desire, it would have to be my fellow Curbsiders. Read the rest of this entry »


Vintage Ad: 1931 Pierce-Arrow Coal Truck – Not What One Might Imagine From A Top Luxury Brand

Pierce-Arrow, a company we have not done proper justice too here, was arguably America’s premiere luxury car builder in its heyday, the aughts, teens and into the twenties. It was most notable for its giant six cylinder engines, the largest of which displaced 825 cubic inches (13.5 L). No wonder older and used Pierce-Arrows almost invariably were converted to trucks, fire engines and tow trucks; they were built like trucks!

So it was natural for the Buffalo, NY. to also build actual trucks, which they did from 1910-1934. One of these days I’d like to do a deep dive, but it’s not going to be today. But I will share a couple of ads from 1931-1932, with this coal truck representing the upper reaches of the line.

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Vintage Car Life Comparison: 1962 Ford Fairlane V8 vs. 1962 Chevy II Six – The Old Ford V8 vs. Chevy Six Battle Updated, With Surprising Results

This comparison hits very close to home, as in the Niedermeyer home on Park Avenue in Iowa City in 1962, that is. My father bought a ’62 Fairlane (a base stripper, not a 500) equipped the same as the tested one, with the brand new 221 V8 and Fordomatic. He was so V8 proud, repeatedly pointing out that six cylinder engines were just not powerful enough for American driving conditions. He blatantly put down his boss for having bought a new ’61 big Ford six. Not Ernst Niedermeyer...

Even though our Fairlane proudly sported that V8 badge on its front fender, I pretty much knew it was no hot rod; far from it. But did I ever dream at the time that it was actually slower than a Chevy II with its little 194 six and Powerglide? Which happens to be exactly what our next door neighbors had, and I looked down on? I would have cringed at the thought. Or maybe not,  since I was something of a Chevy guy at the time: “Ja Papa, why didn’t you just buy a Chevy II? It’s faster and you could have saved yourself a couple of hundred bucks, which you could have used to increase my allowance.

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Cohort Pic(k) of the Day: Chevy Fleetline DeLuxe – I Stop For All Fleetlines

Since we’re on the subjects of Chevy fastbacks; yes, post a photo of a Chevy Fleetline (1949-1952) at the Cohort, and I guarantee you it will end up on the front page at CC, like this one caught in a driveway by J. Solberg. And I love it in yellow, although I generally imaging having one a more drab color.

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In-Motion Classic: 1987 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS Aerocoupe – Everything Disappears

1987 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS Aerocoupe. Downtown, The Loop, Chicago, Illinois. Tuesday, July 7, 2022.

The Art Institute of Chicago had an exhibition of some of the works of French, Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cezanne between May and September of last year.  It was something I had wanted to see, but didn’t.  Even if my saturation point for museums is probably between an hour or two, I was disappointed with myself for having missed that opportunity, but I also realize there are so many other things in Chicago for me to explore.  At some point over the past couple of years, I decided that the value of getting out and enjoying more of this city outweighs what can sometimes feel like a little social anxiety among large groups of people.  I also realize it’s likely that I won’t always be this mobile and independent for the rest of my life.  That’s called keeping it real.  In the spirit of thankfulness, I strive to be more intentional in maximizing my experience of life at this stage.

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Curbside Classic: 1994 Toyota Camry LE – The Benchmark For Being Beige

(first posted 1/6/2017)     Can a product be so strong that it builds a nearly indestructible reputation, and one that holds for decades in the minds of many consumers, even as product quality and competitiveness lapse to unremarkable levels? Well, I can think of at least one.

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Saloon with a View: An Incompleat History of the Rear Window Wiper

(first posted 2/6/2017)     Checking out Paul’s paean to the 1955 Lancia Florida, a design that influenced auto design worldwide for over a decade, I was taking in the sensuous curves and crisply ironed creases of the legendary Pininfarina concept when a minor detail drew my eye. Perched between the flying buttresses at back of the greenhouse was a pair of sparkling chrome windshield…um… rear window wipers.

Now there’s a novel idea, I thought. Rear wipers on a sedan. Wonder why that never caught on?

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Vintage Ad: 1939 Lincoln Zephyr Coupe – “This ‘Twelve’ Is Different…” Yes, It Is