Enzo Ferrari was expert at using the cachet gained by his racing machines to sell cars meant for the street. But long before Signore Ferrari started his racing career, two brothers from Lippe, Germany, were doing the same thing.
It all began with bicycles
Frederic Duesenberg was born in Lippe in 1878, and his brother August arrived the year after. It wasn’t long before their family embarked on the journey of their lives — emigrating to America. Soon they settled in the Midwest, and that’s where Augie and Fred got into racing. Though, not motor racing, bicycle racing. The two brothers weren’t just good at riding bicycles either; they also assembled them, and Duesenberg-built bicycles became sought-after on the famous American bike racing circuit.
Fred confirmed the quality of their machines in 1898 by establishing a world record for Read more . . .
Without doubt there is a huge gap between a luxury car and an economy car, but a far bigger gap exists between an economy car and no car at all. And that is precisely the gap Pierre Boulanger wanted to bridge with the improvement of the Citroen 2CV, the fabled and much-maligned Deaux Chevaux.
Andre Citroen succeeded in bringing mass production to the French auto business. With his A Model and then the 5CV Trefle, the visionary leader opened the probability of owning an automobile to many who could have never considered it before his arrival. But then, the Great Depression knocked the wind from his company’s sales, and not even the well known Traction Avant could put its house back in order. Soon before he passed away in 1935, he was forced to sell the control of his company to Michelin, and at his death he was very unsure about its survival. Read more . . .
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 . . .