RSSCategory: Times Were

1959 Talbot Lago America, the grand routier that broke Tony’s heart

1959 Talbot Lago America, the grand routier that broke Tony’s heart

Grand routier. It has that certain sound even on paper, without even being spoken. There can be no doubt that it is French, nor of its meaning, even for someone who doesn’t know the language and even if there is no direct translation into English. This was a great road car of France. This was […]

July 3, 2016 | By | Reply More
1992-1994 Mazda MX-3 GS: Was a little six enough?

1992-1994 Mazda MX-3 GS: Was a little six enough?

The smallest mass-produced V-6 would hardly seem to be something to brag about, something like having the smallest head in the senior class, except that the 1.8-liter V6 in the 1992-1994 Mazda MX-3 GS was such a gem. And a small diamond is worth more than a big chunk of quartz. Focusing on the engine, […]

June 10, 2016 | By | Reply More
1959 Toyopet Crown, Toyota’s ‘bitter experience’

1959 Toyopet Crown, Toyota’s ‘bitter experience’

Who would have believed that Toyota, maker of the 1959 Toyopet Crown would have become the international automotive juggernaut of today? Toyota products have been almost immovable from the upper reaches of customer satisfaction studies. In 1959 America, they were often simply immovable–except by tow truck. Toyota’s initial decision to send the Toyopet Crown to […]

June 2, 2016 | By | Reply More
1964 Renault 8 Gordini: How to say ‘Shelby’ in French

1964 Renault 8 Gordini: How to say ‘Shelby’ in French

Saying “Gordini” in France is like saying “Shelby” in America. Not only do both names mean automotive performance, but if you don’t stretch the analogy too far, there are similarities between the careers of the men behind the names, Amedee Gordini and Carroll Shelby. Each had begun his career as a race driver, each had […]

May 2, 2016 | By | Reply More
The Brubaker Box, visionary–but too farsighted

The Brubaker Box, visionary–but too farsighted

“We were chugging along looking for clients, trying to survive with a small design office, when it occurred to me that there were a hell of a lot of surfer kids getting around in old beat-up Volkswagen vans.” That was Curtis Brubaker’s epiphany. A trip to Newport Beach yielded a photo with eight or nine […]

March 29, 2016 | By | Reply More
1991-1994 Mercury Capri XR2: the anti-Miata that failed

1991-1994 Mercury Capri XR2: the anti-Miata that failed

I just goes to show you how things so similar can be so different. On the surface, the Mazda Miata—introduced in the fall of 1989—and the 1991 Mercury Capri are very similar: two seat sportsters powered by Mazda four-cylinder engines. Both had pop-up headlights, and crossed the Pacific to reach American buyers. How more similar […]

January 22, 2016 | By | Reply More
Volvo 480ES: The immigrant that wasn’t

Volvo 480ES: The immigrant that wasn’t

Of all the “could’ve beens,” perhaps the saddest ever is the Volvo 480 Turbo. Volvo hadn’t built a sports car since the demise of the 1800ES after the 1973 model year. The five mph bumper rule that came into full effect in 1974 would have required a full redesign, something that really didn’t make sense […]

December 7, 2015 | By | Reply More
Why Fairlady? ‘My Fair Lady’ and the Datsun sports cars’ unusual name

Why Fairlady? ‘My Fair Lady’ and the Datsun sports cars’ unusual name

Why Fair Lady? It’s impossible to know what’s in someone else’s head, unless of course they tell you. And even then they may not be telling the truth. But there has been much speculation and pontification on exactly how the Datsun/Nissan sports cars came to be called Fairlady. There are some things that we do […]

November 5, 2015 | By | Reply More
1982 Lancia Zagato: A car we should have loved more

1982 Lancia Zagato: A car we should have loved more

You should have regrets, America. But Italy, it’s partly your fault as well. A car with pretty, if somewhat quirky styling, a lusty dohc engine and supple ride and handling should have found greater favor. But by 1982 the Italian automobile industry in America was limping with self-inflicted bullet holes in both feet. The Lancia […]

October 25, 2015 | By | Reply More
1954 Kaiser Darrin: ‘The most beautiful thing,’ she gushed

1954 Kaiser Darrin: ‘The most beautiful thing,’ she gushed

“Henry, this is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen,” gushed Henry Kaiser’s new bride. She was speaking to the Hoover-Dam-building, Liberty-ship-making, self-made millionaire who, with Joe Frazer of Maxwell-Chalmers/Chrysler/Willys-Overland/Graham-Paige fame, went automobile manufacturing after the war. What she was speaking about was Howard “Dutch” Darrin’s prototype sports car. What Darrin had shown them […]

October 15, 2015 | By | Reply More
1991 Special Editions Shogun: Here’s to the crazy idea

1991 Special Editions Shogun: Here’s to the crazy idea

“By the fifth Corona it seemed like a bitchin’ idea,” Rick Titus laughed. But the hitch with bench racing Chuck Beck, he added, is that Beck has the skills to execute what most of us would just propose and forget. So inspired by the Renault R5 Turbo rally car and a PBS special on some […]

September 2, 2015 | By | Reply More
1956 Lancia Aurelia Spyder: Golden

1956 Lancia Aurelia Spyder: Golden

When the roll is called up yonder for great cars that no one ever thinks about anymore, surely the Lancia Aurelia Spyder’s name will be written in gold. No one really thought very much about it in 1956 when it was new, despite it being Lancia’s icebreaker for reentry into the U.S. market. The Italian […]

August 20, 2015 | By | Reply More
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