Recent Posts

The Cars Of Tintin: Can You Identify Them All?

(first posted in 2011, and expanded in 2013)

Perhaps the Belgian comic books Tintin by Hergé were not so big in most American households, but they certainly played a significant role in ours. And although my son probably was more swept up in the stories than identifying the nicely rendered cars as we read them, for me it was the other way around. It was such a refreshing change from the typical featureless cars in comics and kids’ books, with a few exceptions. And although I could identify most of them at the time, there were a few obscure ones that stumped me.

No more, now that I’ve stumbled unto the devoted work of one Francois de Dardel, who has scrutinized and identified them all. I’ve picked a random few to test yourself, or just enjoy. If you need help, place your cursor over the picture. Read the rest of this entry »


Curbside Classic: 1972 Rokon Trail Breaker – The Two-Wheel Drive Motorcycle That’s Been Rocking On For Over Sixty Years

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(first posted 9/3/2013)     Californian Charlie Fehn first had the idea to design and build a two-wheel drive motorcycle in the late fifties, and was eventually granted a patent in 1963. It’s been a long and rocky road for his “Trail Breaker”; the number of legal entities and plants that have built his invention is long, but it’s still being made today, and it hasn’t changed fundamentally during all that time. Sometimes a good idea just won’t quit, no matter what the obstacles. Read the rest of this entry »


Vintage Snapshots: Me and My Corvair – The Ultimate Corvair Album

(first posted 7/10/2017)   The Corvair may have been outsold by the dishwater-dull Falcon, but good luck finding so many vintage snapshots of Falcons with their doting owners. Americans loved the Corvair, and with good reason: It was the first American car that was compact, stylish and fun to drive. There was nothing quite like it on the market, and folks snapped them up, especially the bucket-seat Monza.

I picked this for the lede because this could be me and my beloved first car, a ’63 Monza sedan with the 110 hp engine 4-speed stick. Just two minor details are different: Mine was white and I had long dirty-blond hair. But we’re both Corvair lovers.

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Curbside Classic: 1963 Chevy II Nova SS Coupe – The Only One Left Wearing Its Original Wheel Covers?

When I saw this Nova SS coupe swing into a gas station I was literally shocked to see it had its original wheel covers still on. Let’s face it; probably 99.9% of all the Nova SS coupes out there still are wearing Chevy rally wheels or some aftermarket mags wheels or such.  A quick U-turn and I’m pulling up next to it. Dare I hope that it was truly stock and sporting a Turbo-Thrift six?

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Truck Show Outtakes: Too Late To The Party – The Guys Are Already Vacuuming

A. Pul - Scania S530 V8 - Pacton - 1

Alas, when I arrived at the show nearby my place, many participants had already left. Some guys were already vacuuming up the steel road plates (used as temporary pavement) from the soggy ground. An interesting process to watch!

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Vintage Review: 1980 Cadillac Seville Diesel – “Seems To Serve Little Purpose Other Than To Force The Rich Go Slumming In Truck Stops”

Car magazines from back in the day tend to get stereotyped, with Road & Track commonly being called out for being very anti-Detroit. Well, it wasn’t quite as simple as that, as they had their set of criteria against which all cars were judged, and that tended to favor smaller cars and ones with good dynamic qualities which inherently favored smaller cars and imports. And they generally looked down on styling excesses. So one might assume they would excoriate this Diesel Seville.

Not so; they were a whole lot gentler on its styling than I was in one of my more acerbic GM Deadly Sins. Or is “acerbic” too weak a word? Not to worry; it’s not like R&T didn’t point out some significant shortcomings, most of all its sluggish acceleration (0-60 in 21 seconds), mediocre fuel economy (17.5 mpg) and noisy engine. So the title quote refers specifically to its standard diesel engine. Why bother?

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Curbside Classic: 1953 Jaguar XK 120 Roadster – The Feline Bares Its Fangs

To belatedly close our British roadster week with an extra dose of panache, we’re going to contemplate, in slack-jawed admiration, the best sports car of the early post-war era. A legendary engine and a drop-dead gorgeous body at reasonable price: Jaguar’s unbeatable magic formula was born with this amazing car – the fastest production model in the world. And it was almost created by accident.

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Triple Aqua 1979 Lincoln Continental Town Car – I’m In Love!


(first posted 2/19/2013)     For those of you out of the loop, I have a thing for 1950s to 1970s “big old American cars” in aqua. Whether the bright turquoise of a 1955 Thunderbird or the light-metallic aqua of a 1966 Olds Ninety-Eight, I will go out of my way to check it out once spotted. And if the car has a white or aqua interior, well, just try to drag me away! So when I saw this lovely boat of a Lincoln on eBay recently, I had to share the joy.

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Curbside Classic: 1981-87 Mazda 929 – A Big Tent

(first posted 6/22/2018)    An uninspiring, blocky wagon from the 1970s. A wedgy, sporty-looking coupe with pop-up headlights. A plush, large sedan. All with the same nameplate. Shopping for a Mazda 929 in an Australian Mazda showroom in the early/mid-1980s was a confounding experience. And while we enjoyed such dizzying variety, North Americans missed out on an entire chapter in the history of Mazda’s flagship line. Read the rest of this entry »


Vintage Snapshots: Can You ID The Imports On Main Street USA In The ’50s And ’60s?

(first posted 6/21/2018)    In a recent Buick-themed vintage snapshot gallery the other day, it was noted in the comments on how few imports there were to be seen. So I went looking for shots from the ’50s and ’60s and I found some; quite a few actually. Now you get to ID them.

This first one is not surprising, as it is in front of the Art Theatre in Akron, OH.

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Auto-Biography: My ’66 F100 Finally Gets A Roof Over Its Head After Spending Its Whole Life Outside

Better late than never? In a sign of mellowing that seems to come inevitably with old age, I’ve become a bit less harsh on my cars (and people?). I was determined not to ever pamper my old truck, and see which one of us would expire first (the outcome was never really in doubt). But since I had to replace a section of my back fence anyway, I decided to have pity on it and get it out of the sun.

In the late fall, I will of course move it outside so it can continue to benefit fully from Oregon’s Healing Rains™. Got to keep the rust at bay.

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Vintage VW Dealer Postcards: Interesting Assortment Of Trade-Ins, And A Minor Mystery

This one is from Erie, PA. from about 1960 and features some fine Detroit iron out front, along with a Karmann-Ghia and a Renault 4CV.  A Thunderbird convertible traded for a VW? Maybe a K-G convertible?

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Curbside Find: 1988 Chevrolet Caprice Classic – Hard-Wearing Classic Chevy

What’s more appropriate than finding a classic B-Box Chevy at the hardware store? Finding one at a rock store?

This Caprice is still in fine nick too; let’s take a closer look.

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Auto-Biography: The Volvo Concept Car – A 700-Series Preview

By late 1979, I had been a full-time permanent employee of Volvo of America Corporation for nearly two years, a welcome change from my earlier status as a “permanent temporary” hire. I had also moved into the Product Planning & Development group’s Technical Analysis subsection, where I had the chance to sink my teeth into more complex and rewarding projects.

Dealing with my father’s last hospitalization for COPD and emphysema, as well as some other personal challenges at the time, I was grateful to have the opportunity to focus on some detailed elements of a larger project – the Volvo Concept Car (VCC).

The Volvo Concept Car was Gothenburg’s first “idea car” of the 1980s. Debuting during the first quarter of 1980, it was seen as “an efficient means of evaluating peoples’ reactions to our ideas,” according to our department’s former chief, who by then had moved back to Volvo Car Corporation in Gothenburg, Sweden, having accepted the position of global product planning manager.

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Vintage R&T Review: 1976 Volvo 265DL – “The World’s First Mass-Produced $10,000 Station Wagon”

(first posted 6/22/2018)       It’s easy to forget that Mercedes wasn’t yet building station wagons in 1976. That long overdue body style would arrive a few years later, so in 1976, when Volvo built their first six cylinder wagon,  and priced it at $9900 (as tested), it was a big deal, as the ten grand barrier was rather huge at the time. Of course, that was then; that’s $44,000 in today’s money, and nobody thinks twice about paying that for a Ford F-Series or a Volvo wagon, or so many other cars in that price bracket.

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