It is difficult to separate the Porsche 550 Spyder from the legend of actor James Dean, so why don’t we get it all out of the way right now. On September 30, 1955, Dean, fresh off the film Giant, left George Barris’s shop in Los Angeles to go racing in Salinas, a farm town inland of Monterrey made popular by John Steinbeck. (Dean, of course, had recently starred in the movie of Steinbeck’s novel East of Eden, set in the same location.) The young movie actor was at the wheel of his Porsche 550 Spyder.
By that time, Dean had done more than a bit racing. A Porsche enthusiast, he had just traded his 356 for the racier, LeMans-winning 550 Spyder, and he was desirous of testing its mettle (and his own) on the track in Salinas. But as he drove toward the sun on that late Friday afternoon along Highway 46,Donald Turnupseed,a student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, was driving home in his 1950 Ford. Read more . . .
There was an era when the Pontiac Firebird wasn’t a cliche. There was a time when, if you wished to empty a bar in New Jersey, you didn’t call out, “Hey, Vinnie, somebody hit your Firebird!” There was a time when General Motors was proud of the Firebird and wanted to see it thrive, instead of letting it die a slow, lingering death.
That was a long time ago…
Unfortunately, that time was nearly four decades ago, when the “ponycar” (loosely defined as a front-engine, rear-drive two-plus-two built by an American Read more . . .
Oldsmobile is the senior American automotive make. Its imminent death after becoming so ingrained in the fabric of American life is more than a tragedy; it is a sacrilege. Maybe, there’s no automotive brand as quintessentially “American” as Oldsmobile. Oldsmobile has been innovative, popular, smart, and fearless through the years since that day in 1895 when Ransom E. Olds and his partner Frank Clark got together to build a “horseless carriage.”
The American industry’s difference
In 1897, Olds and some Lansing, Michigan, businessmen formed Olds Motor Vehicle Company and thus began the mass production of automobiles in the United States. The Olds Curved Dash Runabout, of course, was the firm’s calling-card success. In an era when those who were building cars built costly Read more . . .
If Nash Motors Company were a comedian, it would certainly be Rodney Dangerfield. If it were a baseball team, it would simply be the Chicago Cubs. If it were a food, it would be the old fashioned macaroni and cheese. You see, in Dangerfield’s vernacular, Nash never gets no respect, huh? Automotive historians sing the praises of Peerless, Packard, and Pierce-Arrow. They wax eloquent over Bugatti, Isotta-Fraschini, and Hispano-Suisa. But Nash, well, Nash is treated like yesterday’s mashed potatoes.
Vehicles for the middle class
Now, to be fair, Nash does not belong in the pantheon of the great marques that built luxurious conveyances for the rich, who, as Fitzgerald wrote, are different from you and me. But Nash always did a superior job of creating vehicles for the vast American middle class–vehicles that were solid, honest, and hard-working just like the citizens who bought them. Further, when one takes a close look at the Nashes of the late Twenties and early Thirties, Read more . . .
The years immediately following World War II were not very considerate to the British car industry. Its manufacturers were strained nearly to the breaking point by more than a half decade of armed conflict that left resources constricted, factories in rubble, and the labor force testy to get theirs after so many years of sacrifice.
Read more . . .