RSSCategory: Times Were

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
1967 Chevrolet Corvette L89 was the rarest, if not quite the fastest, ‘Vette of its time

1967 Chevrolet Corvette L89 was the rarest, if not quite the fastest, ‘Vette of its time

If this were 1967 and you were able to ask Ed Cle, then general manager of General Motors, for the hottest, meanest street-drivable automobile in the GM fleet, he would have suggested this, the 1967 Chevrolet Corvette with Regular Production Option L89. We know, because some is reputed to have done just that. A friend […]

July 6, 2015 | By | Reply More
1990-1993 Toyota Celica All-Trac Turbo: The ‘ultimate Celica’

1990-1993 Toyota Celica All-Trac Turbo: The ‘ultimate Celica’

In its press releases, Toyota called it the “ultimate Celica.” It certainly was. With 200 turbocharged horsepower under the hood, all-wheel drive, a curvaceous body and traditional Toyota quality and reliability, it was in the running for the best compact sports coupe of its day. It was, of course, the 1990 Toyota Celica All-Trac Turbo, […]

May 1, 2015 | By | Reply More
Looking back before looking forward: Alfa Romeo at the 2015 NAIAS

Looking back before looking forward: Alfa Romeo at the 2015 NAIAS

While everyone was running from press conference to press conference trying to get photos of all the new vehicles and concepts coming to showrooms soon, one small area behind the FCA stand caught our attention, and we had to stop for a moment to remember the past before returning to the future. What we’re talking […]

January 20, 2015 | By | Reply More
1969 Datsun 2000 Sport classic review: The sports car from Yokohama-on-Thames

1969 Datsun 2000 Sport classic review: The sports car from Yokohama-on-Thames

One of the best traditional British sports cars was the Datsun 2000 Sports. British, perhaps, as sushi and chips, but British nonetheless. Not in manufacture, of course, but in spirit it was every inch the equal to the MGB. In performance, it beats the B hands down, and as for racing, SCCA Regionals have had […]

November 3, 2014 | By | Reply More
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