It boasts one of the premier features of a James Bond-style car, yet it looks like the ultimate nerd-mobile. It has the classic styling elements of a vehicle from 1960s Detroit, yet it was built in Germany. And, while it runs great on land, it gets around just fine in water as well. “It” is the Amphicar, one of the quirkiest yet most ingenious vehicles in automotive history.
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The open-top car is considered one of the greatest innovations in automotive history. This, however, isn’t quite true. In fact, the first automobiles were all open-topped. A prime example is Henry Ford’s 1896 Quadricyle, which, like virtually every motor vehicle of the time, followed the design of horse-drawn carriages. In those days, if you were driving and wanted to get out of the weather, you either fashioned some sort of makeshift cover or parked under a tree. This did nothing to make the automobile more practical for everyday Americans.
The Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards set forth by the Obama administration has been called the single most important aspect in shaping the future of the automotive industry. It is hard to argue with that. Given our current love of speed and need for large trucks in our infrastructure, we still have a healthy thirst for fuel, which makes the CAFE industry goals of 35.5 MPG by 2016 and 54.5 MPG by 2025 an incredibly daunting task.
(With the Great Gatsby in theaters now, we decided to look a previous Leo DiCaprio period piece, though the events of Titanic actually happened.)
There may be some people left on this planet who have never heard of the Titanic. But I doubt it. Everyone knows the tragic tale that inspired James Cameron’s epic 1997 film.
While in no way equaling the loss of life that occurred that fateful night in April 1912, one small part of the disaster is worthy of note to those concerned with automotive history. One of the things that was lost when the great ship sank was a beautiful example of early 20th century auto making. Fans of the film will recall that Jack and Rose consummated their love in a car held in storage for the voyage. While the scene was fictitious, the auto wasn’t. It was a 1912 Renault Town Car Type CB, purchased by William Carter of Bryn Mawr, PA in France. Happily, Mr. Carter and his family survived the collision with the iceberg. Their new automobile did not.
Dita Von Teese is an American burlesque dancer– not a stripper! She is thought to have re-popularized burlesque dancing, and has a general affection for all things 1930s and 1940s. Part of that love-affair with that period is a connection with cars of the time. She loves he 1946 Ford Convertible, but one of her prized rides has been her 1939 Packard 120. Von Teese is now selling the Packard, and to help move the car, she posed in a series of photos that evoke the time and look when the car was built.
When we think of automotive pioneers, people like Henry Ford come to mind: late 19th-early 20th century inventors who harnessed the power of the internal combustion engine. Two figures that usually go unmentioned are Robert Fourness and James Ashworth. Yet a number of sources report that the pair built a functioning automobile as far back as 1788.
Every resto project is filled with blood, sweat and tears, but at the end of the road there is so much satisfaction to be had when we see how one more classic car has had the ‘class’ painstakingly worked back into it.
Sometimes you do start to wonder whether we love the act of restoration more than the car itself – but a quick glance through this list of British dream machines will give the lie to this. Although we all love restoring cars there are certain cars we would just love to get our oily hands on.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel The Great Gatsby tells the story of a mysterious man whose life is a testament to the evils of greed and wanton excess. Almost as mysterious is the automobile that Gatsby drives in the book. Fitzgerald describes it as “a rich cream color, bright with nickel, swollen here and there in its monstrous length with triumphant hatboxes and supper-boxes and tool-boxes, and terraced with a labyrinth of windshields that mirrored a dozen suns” (68). So what of the car in the new Gatsby flick, which comes out today?
When it comes to classic car auctions, there is a large spectrum. On the one hand, you have the American muscle car auctions (which will go unnamed, you know who they are) where balding, overweight gentlemen in flamed-adorned bowling shirts are bidding on Chevelle 454 SS clones. On the other end, you have the rarified air that we call Bonhams. Several years back, they auctioned off the original Great Gatsby car, and are generally known as the place to go for the best and rarest cars to ever be sold at auction. Want proof? How about this Ferrari once owned by John Lennon, going on the auction block at Goodwood, July 12.
In the United States, between 1957 and 1988, we had two car-based pickup hybrids, the Chevrolet El Camino and the Ford Ranchero. (Arguably four, if you include the Dodge Rampage and the VW Caddy). They’re almost universally regarded as – as Rick Miller from Southern Culture on the Skids says – “the mullet of the muscle car world.” But in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, utes – the same car-based truck formula – caught on and have consistently found an audience since the 1930s.
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