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  • 05/23/12--01:40: GM Art & Colour 1927-67
  • 1927 LaSalle
    When Harley Earl's father sold the Earl Automobile Works to Hollywood Cadillac distributor Don Lee in 1919, Lee put Harley in charge of custom body design and sales. In no time he was hobnobbing with Mary Pickford and Fatty Arbuckle and Douglas Fairbanks as well as getting his West Coast couture Cadillacs shown at New York and Chicago salons, where they attracted the attention of GM's Alfred Sloan and the Fisher Brothers. Fred Fisher and Harley became golf buddies at the Los Angeles Country Club and when Cadillac needed help designing a youthful companion car, Harley got the call. His clean homage to Hispano-Suizas he'd admired in Paris led to his being asked to create and head General Motors Art & Colour, the most influential automotive design department of the 20th Century. The roadster shown here is inscribed Santa Helena Brasil, where road conditions might have called for the less familiar disc wheels.



    1929 Buick
    The first car styled completely by Art & Colour became the unfortunate victim of aPregnant Buick hysteria that swept the country. Sales plunged and Buick lost its #3 sales position to Hudson/Essex.


    1930 Chevrolet
    As I started trying to identify prewar vehicles in snapshots, I grew to appreciate hood side panels. The basic elements of a car, truck or bus of this vintage seemed fairly similar from one nameplate to the next, but the hood side panel was a flat canvas slit with vents that could be thick, thin, straight or curved; arranged as verticals, horizontals or diagonals; in one block or in groups; as long as air moved through like it was supposed to. The 1929 Chevrolet, with its distinctive vent array, was one of Harley Earl's earliest GM production designs, a slight windshield rake one of the few changes for 1930. A '55 Bel Air hardtop of its time.


    1930 Marquette
    Following the success of Oakland's Pontiac and Cadillac's LaSalle, Buick tried its hand at a companion car. The 1930 Marquette was introduced in June of 1929, months before the new Buicks, but October's stock market crash caused the line to be dropped before dealers had finished hanging new signs. Oldsmobile's companion car, the V8 powered Viking, suffered a similar fate.


    1931 Cadillac V8
    Sporting life in the Brazilian upper class.


    1932 Chevrolet
    A mild winter day on Shelter Island in the baby Cadillac.


    1933 Chevrolet Master Eagle
    The fender valances and sloping grille of Amos E. Northup and Julio Andrade's 1932 Graham Blue Streak sent every American car maker scrambling. GM and Ford were Grahamified by 1933 as were Hudson, Terraplane, Packard, Studebaker, Pierce, Reo and Willys, with pretty much the entire industry embracing the Blue Streak aesthetic by 1934.


    1933 Pontiac
    Frank Hershey left Hudson for Art & Colour in 1932, just in time to save the struggling Pontiac division with fender valance speed streaks, chic hood vents and a Bentley-inspired grille.


    1934 LaSalle
    Exquisite biplane bumper and trademark tall narrow LaSalle grille head a full complement of Art & Colour effects, somewhere in Europe.



    1934 Cadillac V8
    Summer car with '47 Connecticut plate mounted on biplane bumper with Dagmar bullets.


    1934 Cadillac V16 Coupe
    Lord of all creation passes amid mortals. 1 of 5 V16 two-passenger coupes coachbuilt by Fleetwood in 1934 for around $7750 when a Chevy Master Deluxe could be had for less than $600.


    1934 Oldsmobile 8


    1935 Chevrolet



    1935 Pontiac
    Debut of the centerline silver streak.


    1936 Chevrolet
    Washington State sinkhole nearly swallows popular fencing mask grille sedan.



    1936 Oldsmobile 8
    Fencing mask with upmarket detailing, somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.



    1936 General Motors Parade of Progress Silvertop Streamliner



    1937 Oldsmobile 6
    In 1937, when Art & Colour became General Motors Styling and design teams were given separate studios for the first time, Olds tried mounting its taillights at belt line level for a little spice. Mr. Matsuda's bumper sticker promotes the upcoming rodeo in Salinas, California, an agricultural center just inland from Monterey and where John Steinbeck wrote Of Mice And Men.



    1937 Pontiac
    Fender valance speed streaks continue along with central silver streak.


    1938 LaSalle


    1938 Buick


    1938 Oldsmobile
    Somehow that year's Studebaker ended up with a very similar front end, the headlights of the '38 President and State Commander echoing the angular Olds grille to a startling degree.
     

    1938 Studebaker State Commander
    Photo from Live Journal.



    c.1938 GMC Greyhound 743


    1938 Chevrolet pickup w/ Oliver thresher




    1939 Buick
    Final appearance of the Parade of Progress Silvertop Streamliners, replaced for 1940 by Futurliners.


    1939 Cadillac 60 Special
    This pinnacle of prewar style was the first major project of Bill Mitchell, Harley Earl's eventual successor as head of GM styling. Introduced in 1938, the 60 Special's two-piece doors with thin chrome window frames, coupe style extended trunk and suitcase fenders with chrome strips instead of running boards between them all belong to a beautiful future. I suspect the young lady is only pretending to belong to this extravagant sunroof-equipped glamor wagon, the palms of Miami moving across its flawless curves.



    1939 Chevrolet
    Area farmer's treasured friend, resplendent in either Bordeaux or Cape Maroon. The low horizontal grille of the 1938 Lincoln Zephyr, devised after Bob Gregorie turned the car's tall radiator on its side in line with the V12's crankshaft-level fan to address a tendency to overheat, caused another industry-wide styling shift. Catwalk trim has sprouted on either side of the tall graceful prow of the Chevy '39 in response. Side windows still look like holes punched through a helmet in contrast to next photo and preceding one.



    1940 Cadillac 60 Special


    1940 LaSalle
    The last LaSalle. Cadillac figured the greater prestige of its own nameplate might move more units of its companion car, which became the Cadillac Series 61 for 1941.


    1941 Chevrolet
    Refining the horizontal face.



    1941 Buick


    1941 Cadillac Series 62 Club Coupe



    1946-7 Buick


    1946-7 Chevrolet COE



    1947 Chevrolet Fleetline Aerosedan
    Kittatinny Mountain Tunnel, on a section of Pennsylvania Turnpike opened on October 1, 1940.



    1947 Buick
    Flow-through fenders, fastback and driving lights, with butte.


    1948 Oldsmobile 98
    Olds and Cadillac introduced all-new postwar designs a year before Pontiac, Chevy and Buick.


    1948 Cadillac 62 convertible
    Here come fins.


    1949 Buick Riviera
    And portholes, sweep spears and hardtops.


    1950 Cadillac Coupe de Ville
    Paleolithic 1936 Chevy looks on in wonder and envy.


    1950 Buick
    All the better to eat you with!


    1950 Pontiac Silver Streak


    1951 Cadillac Coupe de Ville


    1953 Oldsmobile Fiesta
    New Hampshire plates, 1 of 458.


    1953 Pontiac Star Chief


    1954 Chevrolet Bel Air
    The color is officially Pueblo Tan but will always be Pumpkin to me. One of two auto colors I loved as a kid, the other a miles-deep iridescent blue that appeared on '49-50 Fords.


    1954 GM PD-4501 Scenicruiser w/ 1955 Cadillac 60S
    Based on a Raymond Loewy design. 


    1954 Cadillac El Camino




    1954 Cadillac La Espada


    1955 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham



    1955 Chevrolet Bel Air
    Ferrari-inspired grille hangs with the cool kids @ SCCA meet.


    1955 Pontiac Star Chief
    Uncommon factory bumper guard.



    1956 Pontiac Club de Mer
    The Club de Mer, a low, two-passenger sports car with an anodized brushed aluminum body, is Pontiac's experimental 'dream car' of 1956. Equipped with a 300-horsepower Pontiac Strato-Streak V8 engine, the Club de Mer stands only 38.4 inches to the top of the windshield and is 180.06 inches long. Built on a 104-inch wheelbase, the car is 69.7 inches wide and has a tread of 56 inches front and 54 inches rear. Road clearance is 5 inches.
    The exterior body color is cerulean blue, while the interior is fashioned in vermillion red leather. Most striking feature of the Club de Mer is the dorsal fin which flashes up from the rear deck surface. The fin not only adds fleetness to the car's appearance but also functions as a stabilizing influence during operation. Twin bubble windshields, designed to deflect wind upward, protect the passengers.
    At the nose of the car is the air intake aperture for engine cooling. This chrome lined opening half engulfs the lower section of the front end. The highway and parking lights are brought together in dual arrangement, one placed directly over the other. The entire lamp unit is so designed that when not in use, it revolves and disappears into the body, leaving a completely smooth front surface. Excessive motor heat is removed through outlet ports located on the sides of the front fenders.
    The Club de Mer's synchomesh transmission is mounted behind the passenger compartment and connects with a special type rear suspension. This arrangement allows for greater leg room for driver and passenger.




    1956 Cadillac Eldorado Seville
    Dagmars, jewelry and chrome - the sweet smile of success.



    Harley Earl at General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, designed by Eero Saarinen & son Eliel. Under construction from 1949 to 1955, the 330 acre, 25 building complex was officially opened by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on May 16, 1956 with 5000 citizens in attendance. Here we see the main display area of the Styling Dome. Photo from Design Observer's Modern Architecture For The American Century.


    1956 GM Firebird II





    1956 Oldsmobile Golden Rocket
    Stingray split window, early 60s Cadillac fins and curious grille predicting Edsel as it recalls TASCO and Henry J.



    1957 Oldsmobile 98


    1957 Pontiac Star Chief
    In Seacrest Green, somewhere in Florida.



    1958 Chevrolet Impala



    1958 Corvette




    1958 Chevrolet XP-700
    Bill Mitchell, who took over GM Styling on Harley Earl's retirement in 1958, used this Chuck Jordan concept as his personal transport before it was restyled and recolored from red to pearlescent silver for its official debut at the 4th International Automobile Show in New York in April 1960. Although there's a fuel injection badge on the fender, general consensus says 283 V8 w/ four barrel. Exotic details include Lucas Flame Thrower headlamps, Dayton wire wheels and periscopic rear view mirror. Updated with a Stingray nose, the car reappeared at New York's 6th International as the XP-755 Shark, retiring as the Mako Shark after yet another restyle. Seen here prowling GM Tech Center's 11 miles of roadway and 85 acres of parking lot.


    1959 Cadillac Cyclone
    GM Styling Section administration building lobby. The fiberglass 'teacup' reception desk was sawn up and hauled away in the early 70s along with the hand painted Buell Mullen stainless steel screen behind it, replaced with knockoffs for the Design Center's 75th Anniversary in 2003. Photo from unknown web source.


    1959 Buick



    1959 Chevrolet Impala



    1960 Cadillac Coupe de Ville


    1960 Chevy Corvair 700
    The wraparound beltline and flat top were widely copied overseas, appearing as early as 1961 on the NSU Prinz, Fiat 1300, Simca 1000 and BMW 1500, with Renault R8, Mazda 800, Rootes Group Imp and Chamois, Zaporozhets 966 and various auto salon specials close behind. Artist rendering below from NSU Prinz.


    1960 Buick


    1961 Oldsmobile 98
    Sharp-eyed baronniesereinedecaux suggests that these are French license plates, with the 75 indicating Paris registry. 


    1961 Pontiac Catalina
    At the drags somewhere in Southern California, with Loewy coupe next spot over and '58 Impala behind.




    1963 Pontiac Tempest LeMans
    Chrome rims, Southern California.


    1963 Buick Riviera
    From a Tom McCahill cover story in the October 1962 issue of Mechanix Illustrated.




    1964 Pontiac Banshee
    Coupe version powered by Pontiac's OHC 6, its design cues reappearing on Corvette, Firebird, Opel GT and Toronado. Photos from Conceptcarz and beyond.


    1964 Chevrolet Mako Shark II



    1965 Chevrolet Impala
    US Army Fort Bragg North Carolina bumper sticker.




    1967 Chevrolet Astro I



    1967 Oldsmobile Toronado
    As motor life posts are based on my own photo collection and the photographers and subjects of snapshots of this and more recent vintage are typically still alive and in possession of their treasured mementos, the Motorama stops here. The '65 Riviera, '70 Camaro, '71 Vega, '63 Stingray, '67 Eldorado and heartbreakingly beautiful '06 Solstice will have to wait. For the real story, check out Michael Lamm & Dave Holls' A Century Of Automotive Style - 100 Years Of American Car Designas well as Lamm's The Pontiac Solstice Book.

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    1951 Studebaker


    Model A Ford


    1941 Ford


    1971 Ford Torino GT



    1936 Oldsmobile



    Circa 1948 Mustang



    1938 Oldsmobile 6


    David Greenlees at The Old Motor has the scoop on this Auto Red Bug buckboard, likely a Smith Motor Wheel driving a Smith Flyer, the complete unit revised and rebranded by Briggs & Stratton in 1920.


    1951 Ford Tudor


    1957 Chrysler


    Xydias/Batchelor SoCal Special, Bonneville 1950





    Model A Ford


    1938 Willys


    Circa 1920 L-Head Mercer in Southern California, Bob Biggs Balboa Beach Spring 1928



    1939 Ford Deluxe, '48 Minnesota plates


    1950 Mercury Monterey, Texas plates



    Surfin' Suburban 1956 Plymouth



    1941 Ford


    1949 Buick Super Sedanette


    The DangLer No.2, flathead Ford V8


    1962 Ford Galaxie 500 390 or 406


    Jim's Triumph T100 & Lorrie's Vespa, New Orleans 1955



    1939 Plymouth



    1938 Ford Deluxe


    1920s Dodge, California plates



    Tarzan & Jane w/ 1950 Ford



    1946-8 DeSoto w/ Wisconsin mirror enthusiast positively identified by adhesive letters on the hood apex spelling The Fox


    Circa 1972 hippies being hassled by the Man


    Hal Monsor, San Francisco CA, May 1942



    1956 Chevrolet 210, rural prom night


    1960 Chevy Impala





    1950 Ford



    1930s Austin Ruby


    1940s Indian in Southern California


    Mystery sprint car, Central Valley California


    1934 Ford, Astoria Oregon vicinity



    Aberdeen Washington vicinity Piston Pusher w/ 1952 Ford & new 1956 Plymouth Plaza



    1940 Ford, Spartanburg South Carolina, Ginger riding by in my car 



    Chicago Illinois, South Side


    Amoco gas pump jockey & 1932 Chevrolet


    1950 Olds 88




    1950 Buick, Fort Bragg North Carolina vicinity, offending digit



    1933-5 Ford, Southern California, top chop in progress



    1971 Ford Pinto


    1947 Cadillac, Texas plates



    1957 Ford Skyliner, Chicago vicinity



    Model T Ford, Binford North Dakota



    1950-2 Nash Rambler Convertible Landau, restoration not in progress, What are you looking at?


    1940 Ford & 1947 Studebaker


    1949 Chevrolet Deluxe



    1947-8 Chevy, California plates, surf's up


    Harley Davidson



    1965 Chevelle Malibu SS



    1954 Ford Customline Sunliner & Petermobile


    Model T Ford & 1946-8 Dodge



    1951-2 Dodge Coronet



    Prewar Powell P-40 Streamliner, Honolulu Hawaii



    Sportsman track car, Aberdeen Washington vicinity



    1953-4 Ford, '53 Pennsylvania license


    1960 Ford Fairlane 500



    Mystery cycle car


    1936 Dodge somewhere over Bangor Maine



    1955 Ford, '63 Connecticut plates





    1938 Chevy


    1965 Chevy Impala & 1968 Mercury Cougar in Florida
    Car I stayed on in West Palm




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    Muroc Dry Lake 2/38


    93 mph Muroc Dry Lake California 4/7/40






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  • 11/07/12--19:05: The Week In Pictures 2


  • Driver Babe Stapp & riding mechanic Johnny Apple in Pirrung Special Shaw-Offy w/ Chevy Suburban in background, 1936 Indianapolis 500.


    1957 Fiat 600 Multipla with skis on the roof and freshly made bed, in lobby of 1951 Gibraltar Savings & Loan Headquarters at 9111 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. The building's architect, William Pereira, was preparing for the jet-age redesign of Los Angeles International Airport when this was taken.


    Circa '17 Chalmers Record Speedster (?)


    1941 Mercury Coupe.


    Circa '18 Studebaker.


    V12 powered '36 Lincoln Model K, one of thirty $5000 Convertible Phaetons or fifteen $5500 Convertible Sedans coachbuilt that year by LeBaron, '37 California plate.


    Exclusively for the American market, 1965 Sunbeam Lady Imp and Lord Imp in front of I.Magnin.FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: A new car a man wouldn't want to drive but would be more than happy to give to his wife as the "ultimate present" is the new Lady Imp. Based on the popular Sunbeam Imp sport sedan, the Lady Imp comes complete with such totally feminine features as a hair dryer, mobile Princess phone and cosmetic perfume console. It is richly upholstered in a bright and striking floral pattern, and interior and exterior trim are equally feminine. Designed specifically for men, the Lord Imp has features such as ship-to-shore radio, marine compass, ship's bell, air horns and portable bar. It has nautical theme upholstery and the trim inside and out carries forth the boating motif. Both cars were exhibited by Rootes Motors of England at the New York International Auto Show. Price of either car is placed at about $3,700. Color details of Lord and Lady from the wonderful Imp Site, which reports that milord was found in Sacramento, California and repatriated by a Dumfriesshire UK Imp fanatic and that her ladyship was spotted in a Dubai auto museum in 2009 by a Dutch enthusiast.









    H/Stock '69 AMC Javelin sponsored by illegible Truro, NS dealership. At time of post, driver Dewayne Cleveland was Director At Large of ATVANS - the All Terrain Vehicle Association of Nova Scotia.


    Circa '17 Saxon roadster.


    Oil man visits drilling site in '56 Lincoln Continental Mk II.



    Lotus Eleven. Wardan Hill 1963.

     
    June 29, 1955. Apparently this Dual-Firebomb is actually the 1954 Dodge Firebomb show car built by Ghia for Chrysler. As Dual-Ghia owner Carl Kofron explains in a comment left @ Car Styling,The black car that Blackhawk has is the Firebomb and is the prototype for the Dual Ghia, that car is what Cassaroll showed at the '55 Grosse Point Yacht Club as the up coming Dual Ghia. Gene Casaroll of Detroit's Dual Motors - producer of twin-engine lowboy tank transporters during WWII, had added fins by the time series production started in 1956. Many sources say 117 of these were built between 1956 and 1958, but Mr. Kofron's is #131.


    '33 Chevrolet w/ Orleans County Fair, Barton, Vermont billboard. Myself on the farm w/ my old Chevy, 1939.

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  • 11/16/12--00:50: Thunderbowl Comet Again


  • Subject of my very first post, this formidable machine was identified by Dan Strohl of Hemmings Daily as the Golden Eagle aka Thunderbowl Comet. Although the car's story varies from one teller to the next, it did at least portray a Muroc Dry Lake LSR contender in a 1936 Jimmy Stewart B-movie called 'Speed', turning up years later as opening act at the Carpenteria Thunderbowl, a quarter-mile dirt track near Santa Barbara, California. As Auto Puzzles editor Ray B. posted, "The Carpinteria Thunderbowl was operational between 1947 and 1956. Anton Krivanek reminisced about the circuit: I used to go there when I was about 14. The guy who owned it had a great big streamliner called the Thunderbowl Comet. It had the name painted on the side and it had a big fin on the back end with a stylized comet with a tail of sparks and stars painted on it. He'd trundle it around the track before the races to impress the rubes (me). In my memory it was so long it could hardly make it around the corners... Years later I saw it parked alongside Highway 14 out near Acton as a draw for a sad little western roadside attraction. I told Strother MacMinn about it and he drove out there and checked it out... He had seen it parked on the street in Hollyweird in the late '30s or '40s. It was on a stretched L29 Cord chassis and eventually was bought and dismantled for its Cord parts." I recently acquired the photo above, the script on the side plugging (indecipherable something like Egge) Speedway Carburetors of Glendale. Below is the photo previously posted, followed by movie frame captures from IMCDB. Check out the original shotgun/centerline fin aiming setup. Used car / rental lot snapshot was found at H.A.M.B. Jalopy Journal and the last four were pilfered from Auto Puzzles, where further information and photos can be found. I thought 'Our Famous Salad Bar' might lure Antelope Valley tourists to the Village Inn of Palmdale, California, mentioned in a Frank Zappa song, but another Auto Puzzles photo brings Noel, Missouri out from behind the cage post. Salad bar, honey! We really must give it a try the next time we're 1600 miles east of here!  The distinguished gentleman smiling from the cockpit is designer Alex Tremulis, another luminary who made the Acton pilgrimage to pay respects. According to Strohl, the beast still exists.




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    Madison Square Garden, Eighth Avenue between 49th and 50th in Manhattan. Photos dated in pencil, this one 3/53. Kit Foster supplied official name and venue details for NYC auto shows of this era here, which was a great help. Fred Pittera's 1st World Motor Sports Show, Madison Square Garden, 2/53.



    Circa 1950 Jetmobile built by Richard Harp of Boonesboro, Maryland, from an aircraft belly tank with wingtip pods on either side, powered by a rear-mounted Ford V8-60. Herb Shriner's First International Motor Sports Show, Grand Central Palace, 4/52.


    Conceived by importer Max Hoffman, the Porsche America Roadster was intended as a lighter, faster, cheaper alternative to the standard 356 Cabriolet for the American market, with 1500 Super specs in an aluminum body by Glaser. Weekend racers could quickly lighten the car by 100lbs by removing hubcaps, jack and tools and replacing the street windscreen with perspex via two wing nuts and a single bolt. Unfortunately, each car took 640 hours to complete instead of the estimated 500 and the coachbuilder lost money on every one of the sixteen or so built, even at $4600 New York, declaring bankruptcy by the end of 1952. Which led Porsche to come up with its own version, the Speedster, introduced in 1954. Herb Shriner's First International Motor Sports Show, Grand Central Palace, 4/52.


    '52 Siata 208 CS Scaglietti Barchetta Competizione by Bertone. This spider and the two-tone 208 CS 2+2 Berlinetta just behind were powered by 2 litre Fiat 8V (Otto Vu) engines in Siata's own purpose-built tubular chassis with modified Fiat running gear. Designer Franco Scaglietti, who started working with Nuccio Bertone in 1952, is credited with these two as well as all three Alfa Romeo B.A.T.s and the Arnolt Bristol. I haven't found official designations for either of these one-off Siatas, even in Luciana Greggio's Bertone 90 Years. Herb Shriner's First International Motor Sports Show, Grand Central Palace, 4/52.



    One-off Cisitalia built by Ghia for Henry Ford II, powered by a 2.8 litre inline 4 marine-conversion engine developing 155hp. Cisitalia went under shortly thereafter. Herb Shriner's First International Motor Sports Show, Grand Central Palace, 4/52.


    The 1952 Packard Pan American 'sports car' built for company president Hugh Ferry to a design by Richard Arbib, was a stock Packard 250 convertible reworked by hearse and ambulance specialist Henney. Venue and date unknown.


    Chrysler Hemi powered 1952 Allard J2X, one of two envelope bodied cars built for an unsuccessful LeMans attempt. Fred Pittera's 1st World Motor Sports Show, Madison Square Garden, 2/53.


    Fiat Zagato 1100 Panoramica. Fred Pittera's 1st World Motor Sports Show, Madison Square Garden, 2/53.


    Adler Trumpf Rennlimousine. I don't believe this is one of the two cars with heart-shaped grilles that ran at LeMans in 1937 and 1938. AACA forum posts suggest that several cars were built, all slightly different. One is seen here fresh from a restoration by Joe Gertler's Raceway Garage in the Bronx. Fred Pitter's 1st World Motor Sports Show, Madison Square Garden, 2/53.


    Fiat 1100 Castagna Sport Coupe. Oddball cantilever roof fantasy from a classic-era Italian coachbuilder on its very last legs. Wraparound front bumper seen in 1950 Fawcett digest Sports Cars and Hot Rods has gone missing. Venue and date unknown.



    Ultra-exclusive exhibit of Brewster Automobiles, Oyster Bay, New York. Car in first picture looks like a 1951 Nash-Healey Panelcraft roadster with no hood scoop, the second shows Pegaso berlinettas and a Plexiglas-enhanced display chassis exposing quad overhead cam alloy V8 with desmodromic valves and dry sump lubrication, 5 speed transaxle, torsion bar suspension and deDion rear end with inboard brakes. Featured car is Pegaso Z102 called Tea Rose for its iridescent yellow paint that 'bloomed' as it grew paler from rocker panel to roof. Although two-thirds of the appoximately 86 cars Pegaso built between 1951 and 1958 were bodied by Touring and Saoutchik, two of these 'cupola' cars were apparently designed and built in-house by the state-owned Spanish truck and bus maker, attempting to invade the super luxury sports cars market with former Alfa Romeo engineer Wilfredo Ricart in charge. This particular $29,000 dream was bought off the stand by Generalissimo Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic and widely known as El Dominicano thereafter. Fred Pittera's 1st World Motor Sports Show, Madison Square Garden, 2/53.










    Glamorous 1953 Nash-Healey hardtop by Pininfarina amid humble brethren at a Pennsylvania farmers market new car show with live poultry and antiques. Cropped signage promotes Eckenroth Motors, Inc. at 22nd & Howard in Reading. 9/53.


    The Flajole Forerunner was the creation of independent design consultant Bill Flajole, who was lucky enough to have a Nash-Kelvinator VP in attendance for a Detroit area civic group speech where he proposed a small, enconomical shopping car for the suburban housewife. Nash soon hired him to develop the NXI, which was received warmly enough at its 1950 Waldorf Astoria unveiling that Nash had Metropolitans in showrooms by March 1954. The Forerunner was a '53 Jaguar XK-120M under the startling fiberglass skin. Since this photo was taken in February 1954 and the car didn't make its official debut until September 1955, adorning the cover of Motor Trend with fender coves and retractable Plexiglas roof, I believe this is the design study, mounted on a '51 XK-120 frame according to Flajole's son Bill Jr. in the November 2010 issue of Octane. I distinctly remember its body propped up against the wall in Dad's studio while its chassis was being used as a frame for a wood and clay mock-up of the Forerunner body. Herb Shriner's Third Annual International Motor Sports Show, Seventh Regiment Armory, 2/54.




    '25 Rolls Royce Phantom I by Jonckheere. As originally commissioned by Horace Dodge's widow Anna, the car was fitted with cabriolet coachwork by Hooper & Co. of London, coachbuilders to England's Royal Family and numerous crown heads of Europe. When Anna, one of the richest women in the universe at the time, grew bored, the car passed to the Raja of Nanpara and several others before turning up in Belgium in 1932. Extravagantly rebodied by Belgian coach and bus maker Jonckheere around 1934, it was awarded a Prix d'Honneur at the Cannes Concours d’Elegance in August 1936. From there it bounced downhill from owner to owner, eventually ending up in a New York area junkyard from which it was rescued and refurbished as a freak attraction, apocryphal claims attaching themselves like barnacles as the years passed. The monster is now finished in gleaming black and owned by the Petersen Museum. For more information, check out posts by David Greenlees at The Old Motor. Herb Shriner's Third Annual International Motor Sports Show, Seventh Regiment Armory, 2/54.


    '54 Cadillac El Camino. Fiberglass body, brushed stainless steel roof, not a Chevy pickup. Venue and date unknown.


    '55 Abarth Boano 207A Spider. Fiat 1100 mechanicals in a steel platform chassis with body designed by Giovanni Michelotti. Intended as a series production racer, the too-pretty-for-its-own-good 207A found itself easily outclassed by the featherweight Lotus Mk IX. As a result, only ten or so were built, most of them imported into the United States. Fred Pittera's Universal Travel and Auto Sports Show, Madison Square Garden, 2/55.


    '53 Ferrari 250 Europa Coupé by Vignale. Enzo Ferrari's first luxury GT, built on a stretched 250MM chassis and powered by a 3 litre V12 Formula One engine designed by Aurelio Lampredi. The rich detailing of this Giovanni Michelotti design is better seen in recent color photosof this very car, scheduled for Bonhams Quail Lodge auction August 2013. Fred Pittera's Universal Travel and Auto Sports Show, Madison Square Garden, 2/55.



    '55 BMW 502 V8 chassis, with barest glimpses of 502 'Baroque Angel' sedan and 507 roadster. Fred Pittera's Universal Travel and Auto Sports Show, Madison Square Garden, 2/55.


    '55 Gaylord Gladiator. Jim and Ed Gaylord were car-crazy Chicago brothers whose father had invented (and patented) the bobby pin. With money to burn, they became local legends for their hopped up Cadillacs and LaSalles, not to mention a Packard massaged by Andy Granatelli. They were also friends of GM engineer Ed Cole, who showed them experimental stuff outsiders weren't even supposed to know about. In 1949, Jim sat down with designer Alex Tremulis, a Ford employee following a chaotic time with Preston Tucker. Gaylord had decided to build the world's finest sports car, on his own chromoly tube chassis with a big American V8 up front, and needed a stylist. Tremulis suggested Brooks Stevens, just the man for 'a modern car with classic overtones'. The result met with less than universal acclaim, although power and handling were widely praised. This car, with Lucas P100 headlamps instead of duals, is apparently a Hemi powered prototype built by Spohn, a classic-era German coachbuilder who survived into the fifties by concocting outlandish customs on American chassis for US servicemen stationed overseas. Sources state that the Gladiator made its debut at the Paris Auto Salon in October 1955, but this must refer to the Cadillac powered 'production' car, as this snapshot carries the same film lab batch code as the BMW and Lincoln Futura photos below, from February of that year. More info. Fred Pittera's Universal Travel and Auto Sports Show, Madison Square Garden, 2/55.



    '55 Citroën 2CV chassis exposing flat twin engine, torsion bar suspension and front wheel drive. Fred Pittera's Universal Travel and Auto Sports Show, Madison Square Garden, 2/55.



    '55 Lincoln Futura built by Ghia to a design by Ford stylist William M. (Bill) Schmidt, converted into the TV Batmobile by George Barris in 1966. Have you ever wondered about the years 2000 or 2050 A.D. - about what kind of car Americans will be needing and using then? Will it be, perhaps, a triple-function vehicle - one capable of traveling on land, on sea and in the air - a combination of amphibian and flying saucer? How will this far-future conveyance be powered? Still by gasoline? Or by a compact, long-life atomic capsule - or an invisible energy radiating from a source in or near the highway? What of the highway of fifty or one hundred years hence? Will it exist as we know it - or in some other form? Or will it be necessary at all - since your Year 2025 Model may not travel on wheels or tires? -  from Styling At Ford Motor Company, 1957. Fred Pittera's Universal Travel and Auto Sports Show, Madison Square Garden, 2/55.


    The New York International Auto Show debuted in 1956 at the newly completed New York Coliseum on Columbus Circle. Unfortunately, I don't have anything beyond the sleek, modern lobby and its escalators, with Newsweek placard and Cunningham C-4RK coupe. 4/56.


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     Taken in Rome and Vienna by an American stationed in Europe after the war.

    1947 Cisitalia 202 Mille Miglia Aerodinamica Coupé, designed by Giovanni Savonuzzi and built by Stabilimenti Farina. Or maybe Vignale. As I understand it, Fiat engineer Dante Giacosa, creator of the Topolino, was enlisted by Cisitalia founder Piero Dusio somewhere around 1942 to design an open wheel race car based on the little mouse with an 1100cc mill in place of the stock 500cc unit. When WWII ended and Giacosa needed to return focus to Fiat, he recommended Savonuzzi, head of Fiat's experimental aircraft division, as his replacement. Following Dusio's offer of a massive salary increase and a company car, Savonuzzi became Cisitalia's Technical Director, finishing development of the D46 racer and then turning his attention to what would become the 202 sports coupe, envisioned by Dusio as, '...a car that is wide like my Buick, low like a Grand Prix, comfortable like a Rolls-Royce, and light like our single-seater D46.'Built in variants by Pininfarina, Vignale and Stabilimenti Farina, the 202 is widely regarded as the original GT, with Pininfarina's version gracing the Museum Of Modern Art's landmark "Eight Automobiles" exhibition in 1951. Also seen here is a Peugeot 202 delivery truck, with Mobilgas pumps at the curb and Topolinos at extreme right.




    Circa 1939 Alfa Romeo 6C 2300 or 2500, Touring Superleggera coachwork, with sealed beam conversion and clipped bumper.


    1951 Abarth 205 A Berlinetta by Vignale. The shell for Carlo Abarth's first in-house creation after leaving Cisitalia as that firm headed for bankruptcy was Giovanni Michelotti's sharp interpretation of Pininfarina's Cisitalia 202, with both ends tucked under for a more aggressive stance and cool modern eggcrate grille and driving lights in lieu of the 202's baby Buick face. Portholes replace those missing grille teeth for a touch of early fifties American glitz on a design that might not be easy to date without them. Supposedly only three of these stunning coupes were built, all shown more clearly @ Ultimate Car Page, but the door handle is mounted much higher in this photo from a period auto show while the car waiting at the crosswalk above splits the difference. It may just be the angle, but the hood scoop here looks flatter, too.


    Mystery car. Maybe a Stabilimenti Farina Alfa 6C, with Fiats on either side.


    Circa 1951 Fiat by Stabilimenti Farina


    Circa 1953 Denzel (WD) being shadowed by a Jeep.


    Circa 1937 Mercedes-Benz 290 lang Cabriolet A.

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    October 1948. Citroën 2CV, the French Model T, prepares for its public debut, with Kaiser-Frazer sign about to be hoisted in background. I test drove one of these in the early seventies, from a sleepy Citroën garage on Cleveland's West Side. Actually, I was in the passenger seat, since the vendor alone knew how to change gears by pushing, pulling and twisting the knob on the end of the long rod sticking out of the firewall. Sailing over humped railroad crossings on torsion bars was like swinging in a rubber band hammock, the distinct clatter of the flat-twin bouncing off all the bare metal and glass. Stepping back into an Austin America for the drive home was like stepping from the Austin into my mom's Buick.


    October 1948. Simca Sport 8 Cabriolet, one of some 47 roadsters built by French coachbuilder Figoni & Falaschi, best known for extravagant luxo-boats on Delage, Delahaye and Talbot-Lago chassis. Stabilimenti Farina versions, with heavier grille bars spanning a wider opening, were built by Facel Métallon into the early fifties.



    42ème Paris Salon de L'Automobile, Parc des Exhibition, October 1955.



    Unveiling of the atom age Citroën DS, another collaboration from Italian industrial designer Flaminio Bertoni and French aeronautical engineer André Lefèbvre, creators of the revolutionary monocoque Traction Avant some 23 years earlier. As philosopher Roland Barthes wrote in tribute, I think that cars today are almost the exact equivalent of the great Gothic cathedrals: I mean the supreme creation of an era, conceived with passion by unknown artists, and consumed in image if not in usage by a whole population which appropriates them as a purely magical object... It is obvious that the new Citroën has fallen from the sky inasmuch as it appears at first sight as a superlative object.


    Panhard Dyna Z12. Air-cooled flat-twin, front-wheel drive, torsion bar suspension, bulbous bodywork with a curious fish mouth up front. Just another French oddball. But way back in 1891, René Panhard and fellow engineer Emile Levassor looked beyond the voiturettes of the day - tricycles and horse buggies fitted with under-seat engines, drive belts and pulleys. The configuration they settled on was a front engine with rear-wheel drive, their own clutch-actuated sliding gear transmission, the world's first, in between. This Système Panhard would be the standard automobile layout for most of the next century.



    Renault 4CV. Development began in secret during the German occupation of France. Following Hitler's defeat, Ferdinand Porsche, in France to investigate the feasibility of moving the Volkswagen project there as part of war reparations, met numerous times with the 4CV development team to offer advice on weight distribution and roadholding. Introduced at the 1946 Paris Salon, the 4CV became France's first million-selling car. Here, one sensible old-timer and his wife window shop as crowds swarm the chic new Dauphine a few feet away.


     WWII left Europe's auto industry in ruin. Before the factories of the major players could be rebuilt, small-timers eagerly stepped in to fill the basic transportation needs of weary citizens after years of hardship and uncertainty. Egon Brütsch's tiny three-wheeled roadster, suspiciously similar to the Peardrop microcar French aeronautical engineer Victor Bouffort promoted on a tour through Germany and the UK in 1952, was built from polyester half-shells glued at the waist and powered by the same 191cc Fichtel & Sachs two-stroke single used by Messerschmitt. He built some eleven variants between 1952 and 1958, negotiating licensing agreements with builders in Germany, France, Switzerland, Holland and Indonesia. But Brütsch was an entrepreneur, not an engineer, and his plastic hockey puck had a fatal flaw. Mechanical bits were simply bonded to the bodywork, which meant the vehicle's lifespan could be counted in days. Licensee Harald Friedrich hired Tatra's Hans Ledwinka to make his Spatz roadworthy, Jean Avot of Avolette turned to Victor Bouffort, whose design Brütsch had cribbed in the first place. Builders seldom managed to turn out more than a handful of cars before giving up completely, with accusations and lawsuits to follow. In the Spatz case, Ledwinka did a major rework, adding a central tube frame, strut suspension, hydraulic brakes and a fourth wheel. With so little remaining of the original design, Harald Friedrich stopped paying royalties. Brütsch sued and lost, the judge declaring the original design a menace to society. Whose display is pictured here? The licensing offer on the windscreen reads Brütsch Sport 3 Places 3 Roues - License à Vendre Tous Pays (illegible). But according to Jan de Lange's Microcars Stories, the cars Avolette displayed at the 1955 Paris Salon were Brütsch Zwergs anyway.


    Mercedes-Benz 300SL 'Gullwing' Coupe, an object of desire from the moment of its inception.



    Lancia Aurelia B24S Spider by Pininfarina. Lancia never had much of a presence in the United States. The average American was not interested in spending big money for a small, modestly powered, exquisitely engineered jewel when he could get tonnage and brute force for less. The prospect of global searches for parts and service when something went wrong was likely another deterrent for the level headed. But Lancia's stateside status turned when a pockmarked B24S beater, pulled out of a Northern California garage after forty-nine years, fetched $803,000 at a 2013 Gooding auction in Scottsdale. Gooding has another more presentable example on tap for 2014, carrying a seven-figure estimate this time around. Prière ne pas toucher, peasants!


    Lancia Aurelia Florida. Another Pininfarina masterpiece, featuring crisp flow-through blade fenders with headlights tucked into the grille, auxiliary lamps where the headlights should be and modest fins out back. The design was widely praised and Pininfarina was soon working up production versions, headlights back in their proper place, for BMC, Fiat and Peugeot. Across the Atlantic, the Florida's influence can be seen on Elwood Engel's refined 1961 Lincoln Continental.



    Chrysler Special Corsair II. Chrysler Firepower Hemi in a Nardi chassis, with body by Carrozzeria Boano of Turin, who built a Lincoln Indianapolis concept car that same year.

     


    Salmson 2300 Sport LeMans Cabriolet by Motto of Turin, perhaps the prettiest Salmson and unfortunately the last. High prices in a struggling economy and a punitive French motor tax rate on its 2.3 liter DOHC four doomed the car from the start, and only 227 2300s were sold between 1953 and 1956. At which time Salmson left the automobile business for good, selling its Billancourt plant to neighbor Renault.

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  • 03/17/14--02:27: Beater
  • Consider the life cycles of non-living things. Every drop of rain that falls onto a slope washes away another bit of mountain, just as a clock is already ticking when auto assembly line workers tighten the first bolts on a fresh chassis. The '55 Hemi Imperial they're building passes from bank manager's indulgence to secretary's dreamboat to teenager's hot rod love nest in a season as far as the mountain is concerned. But just as sediment from high country streams lives on as flood plain and delta, some stylish Nova SS hardtop has donated its grille and maybe its V8 to the humble '67 Chevy II 100 post coupe below, keeping some of itself out there in the wind, part of the cycle, for another couple of weeks at least.


    These guys are working hard on a shoestring somewhere in the hills of Southern Ohio, just across the river from Kentucky, manual jacks in a line and Seger on the radio somewhere.



    Model T sheet rod, your average everyday $15 car.



    Scarred '51-2 Buick faces another long drive home to Michigan with the four boys fighting in the back.



    '41 Plymouth P11 2-door sedan, '53 Colorado plates, converted to pickup after spending the late forties as the canvas-roof woodie seen below.





    BMW 2002 w/ wide-angle rear view mirror and aftermarket rims. Polaroid roll film print.



    '34 Desoto Airflow w/ '41 Michigan plates on a warm day in late fall, a few leaves still clinging to the trees.



    '52-4 Henry J Corsair Deluxe serving as mascot for Gammell's Atlantic Service in Lebanon Pennsylvania. A December 1969 Lebanon Daily News clipping gives the station's address as E. Cumberland St. @ 2nd, but it says E. Lehman St on the door and we're at the corner of S. Sixth according to the sign over the fire hydrant.



    '37 Ford convertible with sealed beams and honeycomb grille mesh. Produces its own unique combination of rattles, flapping, squeaks and exhaust roar when in motion.



    '31 Chevy stripped to the essentials and repurposed as farm tractor.



    Selectively shaved '50 Chevy Styleline Deluxe w/ aftermarket headlight rings, gas door guard and drip rail mirror. Third car so far with a whitewall up front.



    '36-7 Cord 810/812 Phaeton Sedan convertible in New York Central freight yard.



    US Army soldier on military base with '33-4 Austin 4 Bantam.



    MG 1100 Sports Sedan aka BMC ADO16, from a series of photos taken in the eighties and nineties by an unknown British Columbia car spotter.



    Outside the high school in McClusky North Dakota, north of Bismark. This '50 Hudson Pacemaker 6 replaced a '48-9 step-down that wound up on its top in a field along the highway outside of town.



    Citroën Traction Avant, still kicking in São Paulo Brazil in the mid-sixties.



    Bucolic Pacific Northwest scene featuring an Oregonian and his favorite girl and a dusty '28 Dodge Victory Six. Kent & Genevieve on the banks of the Columbia July 30 1933.
     


    Messerschmitt KR200 Kabinenroller & Kabrio, USA plates, on military base somewhere in Germany with superior officer's '59 Rambler Ambassador Cross Country station wagon, VW Beetle and photographer's shadow.



    '38 Hudson Terraplane, '49 Utah plate. Taken outside Tooele Utah by Max (Pancho) April 1949. Location is likely Tooele Army Depot, originally set up as a WWII munitions storage site.
     


    Studebaker Commander from 1966, the very last model year, with front fenders rusting out behind the wheel wells like they do. Built in Hamilton Ontario, with snow tires and BC Canada plate.



    Model A Ford jalopy as rolling billboard for Rocky-Ray-Rusty and the KORL Ozark Drifters Western Music @ Pete's Club, Nightly 8 till 12, antlers and all.



    Attempted resurrection of '52-3 Kaiser Dragon somewhere in Eastern Pennsylvania, farm wife and jug of Zerex antifreeze close at hand.



    Back in BC with a badge engineered Mercury Econoline sold only in Canada. Although the belt line accents sweep back from a box that mimics the shape of the emblem between the headlights, I'm assuming they're not factory issue, since random scraps turn up around the door handle.



    '34 Ford Five-Window Coupe somewhere in Southern California. She's got hubcaps & a few more lights now. Looks better too.



    '57-60 Wartburg 313/1 Sportwagen Cabriolet constructed by Karosseriewerk Dresden, one of 469. BMW's old Eisenach plant, on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain after WWII, turned out BMW-based EMWs and DKW-based IFAs before Wartburg production began in 1955. Sliding the abbreviated cockpit rearward and extending the hood left the tweaked three-cylinder two-stroke engine and transmission stranded a considerable distance from the firewall. 
     


    '31 De Vaux Custom Coupe w/ '41 Texas plates. Economy car devised by Norman de Vaux, organizer of William C. Durant's West Coast operations for Chevy, Star and Durant; along with engineer Elbert J. Hall of the Hall-Scott Motor Company, designer and builder of airplane engines and rail cars, who assisted Packard's Jesse Vincent on the Liberty V12 before concentrating on bus, truck, tractor and marine engines following WWI. Production of the De Vaux began in Grand Rapids MI in early April 1931, with cars rolling off an Oakland CA assembly line by the middle of the month. By January '32 it was all over, rights and Michigan assets passing to Continental Motors, who tried their luck on a couple of slightly refined versions before retreating to engine building in 1934.



    '40 Ford DeLuxe convertible coupe.



    Jaguar XK-120 Roadster somewhere in L.A.'s San Fernando Valley. One of the owner's projects around this time was stuffing a spare Jag mill into a Crosley Hot Shot, seen in Backyard Special.



    Tomboy with '39 Ford DeLuxe sporting sealed beam conversion and '48 Minnesota plates.



    Hard working '33 Olds skeleton down on the farm.



    '26 Model T Ford jalopy w/ '47 Iowa plate.
     


    '56 Packard Custom Clipper w/ '87 Montana plates.



    '36 Ford Convertible Sedan w/ Pines Winterfront grille bars (middle bar removed to clear the hood stacks), '37 Desoto bumper and '49 Olds wheel covers. Here is a picture of my car at school. I have new hub caps and white side wall tires which I put on after you left. Herb Keekamp and Don Pasel are by the car.



    '30-2 Cord L-29 w/ Pilot Ray driving lights and '39 New York World's Fair plates. This is my Dad getting help on the car from the neighbor children. Imagine the uses of bailing wire around the front-drive Cord's troublesome U-joints and half shafts.



    '63 1/2 Ford Falcon Futura convertible w/ badge for Windsor 260 V8 fitted to the first 75 or so Shelby AC Cobras. This one appears ready for a parking lot gymkhana against a Fiat 124 Coupe, Triumph GT6 and, if you squint, Alfa GTV and Fiat 850 Spider. Hopefully the big Buicks backed against the wall at left are staying where they are for the time being.



    '54 Studebaker Commander Conestoga station wagon. I've never understood the scorn heaped on sedans and wagons produced alongside the sleek coupes created by Robert Bourke and Holden 'Bob' Koto for Loewy Studios. Maybe they're not as sexy as Starliners, but their crisp clean modernity, derived from one of the great industrial designs of all time, should earn them favorable comparison with the bread and butter Dodges, Pontiacs and Fords of the day. This particular car seems to have suffered through many high country hunting excursions, transporting dead bears and deer and who knows what home with the conquering hero.




    '27 Lincoln Coaching Brougham by Judkins w/ graffiti 'This Is The Car That Takes The Beverly Hillbillies To The Palace Theater'. Beverly Hill Billy's Hack in front of the Palace Theater 6th & Broadway Los Angeles May 20th 1931.



    '69 AMC Javelin SST 343 somewhere in British Columbia.



    '34 Chevy in Cinder Point, between railroad tracks and the Illinois River on Peoria's South Side. My dad car May 1949.



    Space age '67 Dodge Monaco 500 in Vancouver BC.



    Iron age '36 Dodge growing lighter by the week.



    '32 Buick ranch hack somewhere in California's Central Valley.


    '60 Olds Dynamic 88 owned by the guy who's always yelling at the kids to get off his lawn.



    '32 Cadillac Phaeton on duty as possible ferry jitney, maybe New England. Sign on shed reads Nedman Boat Line.



    Standing proud with battered '50 Olds 98 and grape stake fence.



    Taken by Roberta Hill, a Washington DC Civil War and bus-streetcar-railroad historian, movie buff and avid collector of license plates and Beswick China horses. Here she documents a '48-53 Chevy pickup truck w/ DC plates and creepy doll heads.




    '59 Chevy Impala convertible on Sylvan Lane in Creve Coeur IL, across the Illinois River just a couple of miles south of Cinder Point, seen behind the '34 Chevy eight photos back.



    '47 Crosley Convertible w/ '47 Virginia plates, nearly new and already headed downhill fast.



    '58 Packard Hawk caught trying to eat its own bumper. Polaroid SX-70.



    Easy going girl with '38 Nash, '51 New York Empire State plates.


    '55 Chrysler Imperial Coupe.



    '35 Ford w/ '42 New Mexico plates and fog lamps with nameplate logo across the top and ribbed trim on either side, so far unidentified.



    R-2 Electric, located on Pier 63 at the west end of 23rd St. in Manhattan, filled the wiring needs of budget-minded New Yorkers in the late eighties and early nineties. My friend Janet was resident office manager. Her living space included a waterside deck with an old porch swing hung over the murky Hudson - amenities an Upper East Side billionaire might kill for. The parking lot was always filled with an assortment of woebegone work vehicles picked up at police auction and prepared for service by a Vietnamese immigrant with a genius for making do with whatever was at hand. Along with tired Voyager and Caravan K-Car minivans, there were always a couple of oddballs like a Mercedes Benz ambulance. These utility heaps led a very tough life on the streets of New York City, but R2 employees knew there was always a replacement available if whatever they were driving that day was taken out by a Checker cab kamikaze or towed from a loading zone. These Polaroid SX-70s were taken in 1993 as the car sat outside a Tribeca coffee shop, a prime example of Manhattan road warrior bested only by a rustbucket East Village Chevy Cavalier with mismatched oven racks over the side windows to keep out intruders. Those were the days.



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    Wealthy Americans indulged in foreign cars from the earliest days of the Automobile Age; an imposing Rolls or Renault for the East Coast industrialist; a parade of extravagant Mercedes, Hispano Suiza and Voisin for Hollywood's movie colony - Norma Desmond's leopard-skin gold-plated Isotta Fraschini 8A Castagna transformable town car from Sunset Boulevard a case in point. It wasn't until after WWII that imports aimed at everyday people began to arrive in numbers. Certainly the war played a part. American GIs were exposed to a variety of foreign cars during their time overseas, many gaining first hand experience driving whatever local vehicles turned up in military motor pools. Following the war, Allies and enemies alike needed American dollars to rebuild struggling or obliterated economies and were soon sending us cars that were beyond the means of their own citizens due to austerity restrictions and steep postwar purchase taxes. As a result, many woefully inappropriate vehicles ended up here, spreading slowly from seaports on both coasts to the interior. In Fostoria, Ohio when I was growing up, you could get an Opel from the Buick dealer or a Vauxhall Victor from Pontiac. There was also a mom & pop Saab operation at the edge of town, with a tiny storefront showroom, a service bay and a patch of weeds out back with a couple of Model 93 parts cars and a dead Lloyd. You could get a VW, Fiat, Simca, Mercedes, Austin or MG by driving fifteen miles of corn field to Findlay or Tiffin. By the early seventies, the farms you passed typically had rusty import carcasses stashed with the prehistoric tractors and trucks on the far side of the barn, victims of road salt along with relaxed attitudes toward maintenance acquired through years of driving job-tough American iron. My friend Tom's dad, who owned a succession of used Buicks including a silver '58 Limited, judged each by how many years it ran without an oil change. An extreme example, but mid-century Americans had grown unaccustomed to fussing over automobiles, especially new ones. And it soon became clear to buyers and manufacturers that rigorous testing over cobblestone streets and winding country lanes did not prepare a car for Dwight Eisenhower's Interstate Highway System, where one could travel from howling winter blizzard to tropical heat in a single day. Fortunately, enthusiast publications like Road & Track sprang up to help hardy pioneers figure out which imports to avoid.


    Fiat Topolino w/ '47 California dealer plates. A very early attempt to sell Americans on the Italian Dream, leading one postwar Desoto to wonder how easy it would be to catch the little mouse and how it might taste.



    British MG Hollywood Nov.'49.



    Jaguar XK-120 with '51 Colorado plates.




    Fresh arrivals at the port of Long Beach, California, including Lloyd, VW Beetle Cabriolet and Renault 4CV, the latter so tiny it makes the Beetle look big, Gran Torino to the 4CV's Pinto.



    Likely WWII vet and pre-A Porsche 356 in postwar tract house heaven.



    Allard J2 w/ '53 New Jersey plates.



    Circa '53 MG TD.



    Independent / orphan car fans easily adapted to imports, personality quirks intact. Here's a brand new '57 NSU Prinz w/ '56 California plates, nuzzled up to the family Nash.



    Oval window VW Beetle w/ '55 Alaska plates. Having fitted an aftermarket windshield defroster, the owner is dreaming of a gasoline heater to keep his toes warm.



    '55 Arnolt-Bristol Bolide w/ Massachusettes plates. 'American' car devised by Chicago industrialist Stanley H. "Wacky" Arnolt, featuring a Bristol chassis shipped from the UK to Italy for Bertone bodywork designed by Franco Scaglione. Most of the 142 built were then shipped to and sold in the US.


    '55-6 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Coupe by Bertone with a couple of South Bend's sportiest - Bob Bourke's original '53 Studebaker 'Loewy' Coupe & a facelifted '56 Golden Hawk. 6/30/56.
     


    Circa '57 Volkswagen bus in Texas Brown over Bamboo, w/ pink Cadillac.



    That house with the funny cars - a late Kaiser Manhattan and a Lloyd LP 400.



    Porsche 356 open and closed, somewhere in upstate New York.



    Morgan Plus 4 @ Holland Hill Climb, New York, August 23-4 1958. Joe McJury and Bob Pierce trying to figure out what opposition will clobber them. Their main competition was the TRs and an AC.
     


    Mighty Mercedes-Benz 300SL roadster set up for SCCA competition.



    New '58 Jaguar 3.4 w/ New York plates & white bucks.



    Circa '57 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider.



    Circa '56 Panhard Dyna.



    Circa '59 Abarth 750 Monza Record Zagato. Fiat seen across from Central High.



    New BMW Isetta with trusty stepdown Hudson demoted to curbside parking.



    Messerschmitt KR200 helping sell tickets at City Yacht Basin in Miami, Florida.



    Vintage Car Store in Nyack, New York; authorized Renault, Peugeot and Rover dealer; with Bentley in showroom and used lot at left.


    At least a couple of Rockland County's riskiest pre-owned vehicles, including MGA & TD, Renault 4CV, '53 Pontiac wagon, '57 T-Bird and Aston Martin DB2/4.



    Late 50s Simca Aronde w/ '60 Ohio plates getting a taste of real winter somewhere near Burbank, west of Akron. As close as we could get to the house.
     


    Circa '60 Skoda Felicia convertible, Feb. '65 Kodachrome print.



    1950 Aston Martin DB2, one of the first 49 built, as indicated by the three-piece grille and kick panel vents.



    New '60 Fiat 600.



    Circa '58 Borgward Isabella TS Coupe somewhere in Southern California.



    '60-3 Simca 5 in film noir setting.



    Americanized Austin Healey Bugeye Sprite Mk. I w/ whitewalls and Buick sweep-spear.



    Late 50s DKW 3=6 somewhere in California.





    Anyone recognize this California Citroën garage? Just above, a bullet-nose Studebaker helps a fellow eccentric over a pass on the Blue Star Memorial Highway, while middle photo shows a typical American scene - Citroëns outnumbering Fords in a motel parking lot.





    Renault Caravelle and twin-screw Amphicar sharing more styling cues than you might expect.



    Circa '62 Jaguar Mark X. This was taken (by Dad, of course) after we came out of the airport.
     


    Donald Young and '64 Austin Healey Sprite Mk. III, 2nd in Class at Norridgewock (Maine) Time Trials, Aug. 64.



    Late starters with great promise from the other side of the other pond, circa '65 Datsun Bluebirds somewhere in Southern California.



    '66 Sunbeam Tiger Series I w/ Ford 260 V8 and Playboy front plate.



    Jaguar E-Type in sunny Southern California.



    '66 Datsun 1600 Sports w/ Oregon plate. Marilu & Rog in Colville (Washington) at the Richardsons, Sept. 1967.



    Circa '69 Opel Kadett B fastback somewhere in small town Ohio.



    Citroën 2CV w/ '69 Nevada plates. Owner catches up on reading during long desert crossings.





    Peoria, Illinois vicinity hill climb featuring Mustangs, Stingrays, Triumph TR4, MGB, Austin Healey, Porsche 356, MG 1100 Sport Sedan, Morgan Plus 4, Bugeye Sprite, Formula Vee, Sunbeam Alpine, Karmann Ghia...


    Circa '70 BMW 2002 w/ California vanity plates.



    Circa '70 Porsche 911 somewhere in Greater Los Angeles.


    Circa '71 Fiat 850 w/ Illinois plates.



    Novel attempt to increase top speed of two-cylinder Autobianchi Bianchina.



    This '71 Renault 16 was my fourth car, after two VW campers and an Austin America. The first owner was the older brother of a girl I went to high school with. Stranded in San Francisco after the ancient Beetle I'd ridden in from Ohio broke down for good, I answered a ride share ad and a couple of days later the 16 showed up downstairs, hometown bound. Speeding up a long on-ramp arc to the Bay Bridge, the car heeled smoothly over on its torsion bars and I was sold. Along with everyone who rode in it after it was mine, a couple of months later. Of course it broke regularly, and getting it repaired in Ohio was a nightmare before someone tipped me to a competent and honest dealership in Alliance. But I still loved it. With bi-level ventilation, reclining seats, center armrest and electric sunroof, it was more luxurious than my mom's Electra 225. Especially after pieces of shoestring were carefully fitted between the halves of the plastic control stalk pod to stop the buzzing. Front-wheel drive was a revelation as well, even though as soon as you replaced the half-shaft on one side, the joints on the other would start to go. But it took me from Ohio to Boston and then back to California before winding up on its top in downtown Pomona after being broadsided at a light.



    '74 Datsun 260Z w/ Texas plates and aftermarket spokes.



    The Japanese eventually won. Here's a circa '80 Honda Accord w/ Connecticut plates, bikes on the roof, modern lifestyles on the rise.

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