One of these cars is not like the other. A while back I wrote about the replica Duesenberg Murphy Roadster that former GM designer Steve Pasteiner’s Advanced Automotive Technologies fabricated for someone who owned a real Duesenberg. The person who commissioned the replica wanted to be able to drive in that style without risking damage or deterioration to a seriously expensive classic car (though the replica undoubtedly cost into six figures to build). Before I provide a link to that post, though, I want you to agree not to link over there until you’ve finished reading this one because I’m going to give you a test.It turns out that last summer, one of the judged classes of cars at the Concours of America was “Indianapolis Iron: Duesenberg, Marmon & Stutz”, celebrating cars from the classic era made by Indiana based firms (the Duesenberg brothers’ original shop was in Indianapolis but I believe that after E.L. Cord bought their company, production … [Read more...] about Duesenberg Model J Murphy Body Roadster – One of These Is Not Like the Other. Can You Spot the Fake?
A Pictorial History
One of the things that makes Murilee Martin’s Junkyard Find series so engaging is not just his fine writing and photography, it’s the elegiac nature of the subjects and their settings. As with any elegy it’s hard to come away without a sense of sadness, at what was and is no longer and at what could have been and never was. I was uploading some images for a post that I was writing and I noticed that Murilee was working on another Nash Metropolitan Junkyard Find. The “little Nash Rambler” is such a cheerful, happy looking car, one that never fails to bring a smile to faces of both their drivers and those who see those drivers motoring around in their Metropolitans, that they look particularly forlorn sitting waiting to get recycled into scrap steel. I thought that some of you might enjoy seeing some Metropolitans that are treasured, not trashed.That 1960 Metropolitan that Murilee featured back in May was a very solid looking candidate for restoration, but … [Read more...] about Beep Beep! Nash Metropolitans That Are Not Waiting for the Crusher
Zoltan Glass was an amateur car racer and professional photographer who shot many of the major racing events in Germany in the 1930s as well as shooting commercial photography for automotive clients like Mercedes Benz, Horch and Auto Union.Glass, however, was Jewish so things started getting difficult for him after the National Socialists came to power in 1933, though he doggedly worked on, ironically doing advertising photo shoots with cars sitting next to Nazi planes, and covering races and motoring events partially sponsored by the party. After the Nuremberg laws were passed in 1936, severely restricting the civil liberties of Jews, an associate of Glass’ from the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency, Peter de Peterson, helped Glass move his base of operations to London, from where he managed his Berlin based photographic agency. Glass continued to travel to Germany to shoot advertising for his clients. After the widespread organized violence against German Jews broke out … [Read more...] about The Automotive Photographic Art of Zoltan Glass
You may never have heard of Henry Jamison “Jam” Handy, but almost a century before TV producer Matthew Weiner conjured up the fictional persona of ad man Don Draper, Jam Handy was inventing and shaping the way Americans bought and sold consumer goods, particularly cars. Along the way, he also shaped the way we learn about the world and how we see ourselves in it.Jam Handy’s early life reads like an O’Henry story. Born in 1886 in Philadelphia, when he was five years old he moved with his family to Chicago. His father, a newspaper editor, had taken a job promoting the Columbian Exposition of 1893. Handy later claimed that the three years he spent watching the world’s fair being built and wandering its exhibits was the best education he could get. He breezed through school and was at the University of Michigan by the time he was 17.Handy was a star athlete for the Wolverines, winning a bronze medal for swimming at the 1904 Olympics (and again in 1924 for … [Read more...] about Automotive Wayback Machine: The Jam Handy Organization Archive
I’m sure that it’s a cliche to say that as a writer I try to avoid cliches. While gearshifts often do fall readily to hand, it’s not a good idea to put that in every review. Not long ago another writer (and I wish I could remember who it was to give him credit) was describing a car’s engine that wasn’t exactly the smoothest running machine and he mocked a common automotive cliche with the phrase “insert agricultural implement metaphor here”. When you read “it runs like a tractor”, they aren’t exactly praising an engine’s durability or torque, they’re calling it primitive and uncouth. Since I like to see things first hand, when I saw that there was going to be a tractor show this fall in Ira Twp, Michigan about an hour away, I decided to see, hear and feel for myself just how roughly tractor engines run. I’m glad that I did because what started out as a lark ended up teaching me something about automotive … [Read more...] about “… The Engine Sounds A Bit Agricultural”
Continuing with our look at long forgotten (and some not so long forgotten, but forgotten just the same) concept and show cars from the major automobile manufacturers. Part One, Acura to Chevrolet, is here. Part two, Chrysler to Ford, is here.Sure, once you see it, the Honda SSM (Sports Study Model), first shown at the Tokyo show in 1995 and styled by Pininfarina, was obviously the concept for what became the S2000 roadster. The question is do S2000 fans even remember the SSM?Maisto, Hot Wheels, Matchbox, and Tonka have produced toys and models of the Jeepster. If you’re a member of Generation Y, you may just remember the Jeepster.Hooniverse’s list of Jeep’s top 25 concept vehicles (not included on the list were the very cool Mighty FC cabover “forward control” truck and the JC-12 pickup concepts from last year). Jeep does indeed have a history of cool concepts, but I wouldn’t call the Varsity as memorable as … [Read more...] about The Encyclopedia of Obscure Concept and Show Cars: Part Three – Honda to Mercury
It started with a photo of a strange looking Pinto with a targa style roof and it metastasized into an encyclopedia of just about every concept car you never heard about. Part One, Acura to Chevrolet, is here. Part two, Chrysler to Ford, is here. Part three, Honda to Mercury, is here.Mitsubishi likes three letter acronyms and alphanumerics. Behold, above, the HSR III from 1992, some kind of Eclipse concept, I think.Panther is pretty slick, and while Dick Teague’s Predictor didn’t help Packard survive, true to its name it did influence a lot of cars in the 1960s, but neither of those cars are particularly obscure. The Packard Request, for 1955, on the other hand, is an obscure for a car that ironically came about due to popular demand. The Request was apparently the reaction to requests by Packard executives, dealers and enthusiasts for a car with a classic Packard grille. Now I happen to think that the 1955 and 1956 Packards, also Teague … [Read more...] about The Encyclopedia of Obscure Concept and Show Cars: Part Four – Mitsubishi to Plymouth
All good things, even obscure and maybe even not so good, must come to an end. You can see previous installments of the Encyclopedia of Obscure Concept and Show Cars here, here, here, and here.Oldsmobile, Packard, Plymouth. Another dead brand with obscure concept cars in this part of the alphabet is Pontiac. This is their Rageous concept from 1997, another proto-CUV, and what some have called “the Aztek that should have been”. Imagine a four door Trans Am (the rear doors are suicide style like on the RX-8 Mazda) with a hatchback and a flat load floor that will accommodate a 4X8 sheet of plywood. A ’90s vintage LT1 and a Corvette based rear suspension completed the package, which of course had Pontiac’s supernumerary nostrils from that era. Actually, the Rageous isn’t that obscure. Mattel’s Hot Wheels released their own version of it in 1999 and reissued it at least 8 times since then. Like the Jeep … [Read more...] about The Encyclopedia of Obscure Concept and Show Cars: Part Five – Pontiac to Volvo
Last weekend, we were in Kuniyoshi, Chiba, the peninsula across Tokyo Bay, to check on some old cars. This is what and who we met.TTAC’s cross-cultural adviser, Frau Schmitto-san walked by what looked just like the 360 Subaru we test-drove a year ago in Japan.Minutes later, we saw a skinny, bespectacled man who looked very much like Chiharu Tamura, owner of said 360 Subaru, and Deputy Chief Engineer of the Lexus LFA supercar. The test drive had been a ruse to distract from my secret mission: To observe the making of the LFA.It was him, it was his car. Tamura-san had driven Subie-san all the 250 miles from Toyotashi to Kuniyoshi to attend an event that celebrated old cars, old trains, old buses, and an old town.The event was to help revitalize Kuniyoshi, a town that needs a revival badly. The town doesn’t even exist anymore, at least not officially. In 1955, it was merged with a few neighboring towns into Isumi. In 2005, it was merged again.This is the old train that … [Read more...] about A Walk Down The Memory Lanes Of The Japanese Car.
I was having a conversation with a female friend a few weeks ago and she admitted to having “fooled around” in no fewer than four different brands of minitrucks during the Nineties and Oughties. I suppose in her case that would be the Noughties — but that’s besides the point. I should also mention that the fourth “minitruck” was really a Colorado, and the incident in question happened fairly recently.“There’s always some kind of stick shift in the way, in those little trucks, you know?” she said.“Those are the little crosses that empowered young women have to bear,” was my response.The conversation could have gone in any number of directions from there, but where it actually went was to A Brief Discussion Of Mini-Trucks In America, 1970-2010. I thought it might be a conversation worth having with all of you, as well, because it showcases a rather unique phenomenon in American automotive history.Much has been written … [Read more...] about A Selective History of Captive Minitrucks, Part One: When America Couldn’t Compete