There was a time when the Jaguar name didn’t mean aging lawyers and blue-haired matrons. There was a time when Jaguars were driven by courageous young men who took them to the very edge of their very high limits. And there was a time when Jaguar was a force to be imagined in the most grueling road racing of all, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Britain came out slowly from the wreckage of World War II, but by 1948 Jaguar’s William Lyons was chomping at the bit to kick his company up into a higher gear. His daring stroke for the 1948 Earls Court Motor Show was a show car that would become the XK120 sports car.
The swoopy two-seat roadster whose shape, fable has it, Read more . . .
Success has many fathers, whereas failure is an orphan.
So true with the Ford Mustang.
Learning from faults
In the decade before the Mustang was launched in 1964, Ford Motor Company was no stranger to success and to failure. For the 1955 model year, Ford had introduced the Thunderbird as a competitor to Chevrolet’s Corvette sports car, and soon the Thunderbird was out-selling the Corvette. It was a success all of Ford could be proud of.
When Ford management decided to turn the Thunderbird into a four-seater model for the 1958 model year, the company again had a winner on its hands. In fact, the modified Thunderbird invented its own market segment, the personal luxury class. Read more . . .
The principle was simple. In the mid-1970s, BMW was doing very well in its battle with Ford in the European Touring Car ranks, so the authorities who were at the company decided that it would be a good idea to step things up a notch and attack the much more prestigious arena of World Sportscar racing. After all, Frankfurt-based Porsche was reaping plentiful amounts of prestige from its dominance of that well-regarded series, and Munich-based BMW presumed it had the expertise to knock Porsche off its throne and grab some of that prestige for itself. Matched up to BMW, Porsche was a relative upstart. There was simply one catch.
At the time, BMW didn’t produce a car that had nearly the capabilities required to compete in the heavy and hot caldron of World Sportscars, a series that had spawned the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe and the Ferrari 250 GTO among others. A builder of well-respected coupes and sedans, the Bavarian manufacturer didn’t even build a vehicle that could legitimately be dubbed a “sports car.” Despite that, its brass decided, rather quickly, that it should be a player in this highly evident, highly competitive arena. In essence, BMW had given itself two separate ventures. Building a successful race car to compete with the top-ranked Porsches was intimidating enough, but Read more . . .
Do you long for those carefree, happy days you spent in the United States Army? Not too many of us do, but one of the legacies of the American military is a present billion-dollar-a-year craze. It’s not the color khaki, no. It’s not the camouflage craze. It’s the sport utility motor vehicle.
There was a time when the person who drove four-wheel-drive vehicles didn’t drink cappuccino every morning on their way to transport their kids to soccer practice. There was a time when the person who drove four-wheel-drive vehicles weren’t welcomed at the opera and at the country clubs. There was a time when the person who drove four-wheel-drive vehicles were mainly men on missions be it for the Forest Service, the military, or utility companies. And the vehicle of preference for those manly men who got the job done was the Dodge Power Wagon.
It is a bit ironic today that Daimler-Chrysler, the company that owns the Dodge brand, Read more . . .
It’s good to have an objective. Just ask Dr. Ferdinand Piech, the man responsible for the marvel dubbed the Audi quattro.
Piech came by his life’s work truthfully. After graduating from the Zurich Technical University with a degree in mechanical engineering, he joined a small but influential automotive company you might have heard of called Porsche, which at that time happened to be operated by his uncle, Ferry Porsche. A fast learner with a knack for getting things done, Piech dove into Porsche’s efforts in sports car racing and by 1968 he was technical director of the Porsche Experimental department, which is much similar to being given the keys to the candy store.
Piech’s initial objective was to come up with a Porsche that could beat the Ford GT40s and Ferraris that were dominating endurance racing in those days, and soon he accomplished it with the 917 that took both the 24 Hours of LeMans and the World Championship, while at the same instance, putting a stranglehold on the then-thriving Can-Am series. It seemed that Piech was on top of the world until Porsche decided to modify its business structure, restraining the influence of the Porsche family, and in the fallout Piech was left looking for work. Read more . . .