Thursday, December 2, 2010

Holden Efijy

The Holden Efijy is a concept car created in Australia by Holden. It is based around the iconic Holden FJ, the second model built by Holden. The concept is based on the Chevrolet Corvette floor pan, a 6.0 litre V8 engine with Rootes supercharger putting out 480 kW (644 hp) at a little shy of 6500 r.p.m. It rides on an air suspension system that sits down when stopped, and also has electronic instrumentation including a mutli-use display screen that disappears into the dash.

Since its debut showing at The Australian International Motor Show in 2005, the Holden Efijy has been named the United States concept car of the year for 2007.Holden Efijy at the National Motor Museum, Birdwood, South Australia.Holden Efijy at the National Motor Museum, Birdwood, South Australia. Once it returned to Australia, the Efijy visited the National Motor Museum at Birdwood in February 2008.

Source: Wikipedia

Events Of History For Plymouth

1949 Plymouth Special DeLuxe Station Wagon, advertisement

* 1960: Dodge introduces the smaller, lower-priced "Dart" series that competes directly with Plymouth's offerings. The new compact Valiant introduced.

* 1961 and 1962: Rambler and then Pontiac assumes third place in industry sales for the remainder of the 1960's.

* 1962: Sales drop dramatically with the introduction of a line of unpopularly-styled, downsized full-size models.

* 1964: New Barracuda fastback coupe introduced in April.

* 1965: Plymouth re-joins the full size car market with the new full-size Fury, based on the Chrysler C-Body. The small B-body model becomes the Belvedere line for 1965.

* 1970: Duster coupe introduced in Valiant line for 1970.

* 1971: Unable to afford to develop its own subcompact, the British Hillman Avenger is imported as the Plymouth Cricket, which is discontinued in mid-1973.

* 1973: 1973 Plymouth model year production hits an all-time peak - 973,000. The Plymouth Cricket in Canada is now based on the Dodge Colt.

* 1974: The Dodge Dart and Plymouth Valiant are, for the first time, different only in name and minor trim details. This continues with the Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volaré as well as all further passenger car models. The car that would ultimately become the Chrysler Cordoba is reassigned to Chrysler from Plymouth. Last year for Barracuda.

* 1975: The car that was to become the 1975 Plymouth Sebring morphed into the new Chrysler Cordoba.

* 1976: Last model year for the Valiant/Duster. First model year for the Volare.

* 1977: The large Gran Fury is discontinued.

* 1978: The mid-size Fury is discontinued at the end of the model year. The Plymouth Horizon, based on the European Chrysler Horizon, introduced. Chrysler Canada introduces the Plymouth Caravelle based on the Dodge Diplomat.

* 1979: Plymouth's lineup is reduced to the Horizon and Volaré, and three rebadged Mitsubishi imports.

* 1979/1980: Chrysler makes several thousand more Dodges than Plymouths for the first time. More Plymouths would be made than Dodges for 1981 and 1982, but from then on there will always be more Dodges made than Plymouths.

* 1980: Newport-based Gran Fury introduced. Last year for Volaré.

* 1981: The full-size Gran Fury and Trailduster SUV's last year.

* 1982: The Plymouth Gran Fury, based on the Dodge Diplomat, introduced in the United States.

* 1983: Caravelle 4-door sedan based on the E-body and a 2-door coupe based on the K-body introduced in Canada.

* 1985: E-body Plymouth Caravelle introduced in the United States.

* 1989: The mid-size Gran Fury (Caravelle in Canada) as well as the Reliant are discontinued after this model year. The Reliant is replaced by the Acclaim.

* 1992: The higher priced Acclaim models moved over to LeBaron. Total sales of Acclaim and LeBaron drop. Total 1993 Plymouth model year production drops to 159,775, along with 237,875 Vogager models. Dodge built 300,666 Caravans.

* 1994: The little-advertised Laser sport-compact as well as the popular Sundance and Colt compacts all end production. They are replaced by a single car, the Neon, a car that Chrysler decides to offer as a Plymouth after dealers protested the loss of the Sundance and Colt with no replacement.

* 1995: Plymouth's lineup is at its all time low, just 3 cars: the Acclaim, the Neon, and the Voyager/Grand Voyager. The number will go up to 4 in 1997, with the introduction of the Prowler, but will never get any higher.

* 1996: Chrysler announces the new Plymouth Breeze six months after sister Dodge Stratus and Chrysler Cirrus models. Chrysler originally had no plans to replace the Acclaim model.

* 1996: In an attempt to move Plymouth downmarket, Chrysler makes the redesigned Voyager only available in base and mid-level SE models. All of the higher-end trim levels available on the previous generation can now only be found on the Dodge Caravan.

* 1997: Production for the 1997 model year comes to 178,807 cars plus 187,347 Voyager models. Dodge built 448,394 cars and 355,400 Caravans.

* 1999: Total 1999 production for Plymouth cars came to 195,714 with Dodge at 394,052. Voyager production comes to 197,020, compared to 354,641 Caravans. The writing is on the wall. The redesigned 2000 Neon becomes the brand's last new model.

* 2000: The mid-size Breeze ends production. This is also the last year for the Voyager minivan as a Plymouth. All 2000 Voyagers built in December 1999 and beyond are badged as Chrysler Voyagers. In Canada, the redesigned Neon is sold under the Chrysler name and both the Plymouth and Dodge names are dropped on all car models, save for the Prowler and Viper. The Voyager name is dropped in Canada as all Chrysler dealer sell Dodge trucks, including the Caravan. Total 2000 model year production for Plymouth comes to 108,546 compared to 459,988 Dodge cars. Voyager production totalled 123,869 versus 330,370 Caravan models.

* 2001: Plymouth's final model year. Only the Neon remains in the Plymouth line. The Prowler becomes a Chrysler. The Breeze is dropped as Chrysler issues the Chrysler Sebring sedan to replace the Chrysler Cirrus. The PT Cruiser is launched as a Chrysler, though it was originally planned to be a Plymouth. The final Plymouth, a Neon, is assembled on June 28, 2001, with a total of 38,657 built for the model year.

Source: Wikipedia

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Rust Never Sleeps

The 20th century began during the middle of a machine age. Technology was advancing quickly and industrialists were tapping the benefits of transitioning from steam to internal cumbustion as the primary power source for transportation and food production.

In the late 1890s, J.I. Case began producing a gas-powered tractor. Henry Ford began producing tractors in 1907, a year before he began mass-producing automobiles.

Over the years, millions of vehicles and tractors have rolled off assembly lines. The were their owners' pride and joy for some time, but eventually as they wore out they were replaced by newer, more advanced models.

Now some of the early models of tractors and automobiles can sometimes be found abandoned in barns, fields or yards, waiting while time and rust slowly, but relentlessly wash them away.

They might look like junk to some people, but to a photographer they are pure gold.

Source: Amarillo News

I had seen several likely photo opportunities outside Vega on a recent trip west. Hastily scribbled notes said there were several rusty vehicles outside a building just east of exit 36, and a couple of interesting looking tractors just to the west.

I was concentrating on the drive back toward Vega early Saturday when I realized a pickup parked beside the road had belched out three passengers, who were taking photographs of the very machines I was searching for. Not shy, I pulled up alongside, made a big show of getting cameras out of a bag and stepped out of my rig.

The Langstons were a little uncertain about a stranger pulling up and hopping out of a car on a stretch of road pretty far from other people, but I chatted them up and spent some time getting to know them. They were driving from Arkansas to Las Vegas to attend a funeral and had decided to stop and shoot some photos of a few relics.

Dee had recently won a photo contest using a photo of an old vehicle that she had converted to black and white. I couldn't stay long — I knew where two rusty tractors waited nearby for their own portraits.

The End Of The Road For Pontiac

The front of a restored 1967 Pontiac GTO is seen in Newtown, Pa. Pontiac has gone out of business.

Muscle car maker Pontiac ends after 84 years..,

Detroit -- Pontiac, whose muscle cars drag-raced down boulevards, parked at drive-ins and roared across movie screens, went out of business on Sunday.

The 84-year-old brand, moribund since General Motors decided to kill it last year as it collapsed into bankruptcy, had been in decline for years. It was undone by a combination of poor corporate strategy and changing driver tastes. GM's agreements with Pontiac dealers expired Sunday.

Even before GM's bankruptcy, Pontiac's sales had fallen from their peak of nearly one million in 1968, when the brand's speedier models were prized for their powerful engines and scowling grills.

At Pontiac's pinnacle, models like the GTO, Trans Am and Catalina 2+2 were packed with horsepower and sported colors like "Tiger Gold." Burt Reynolds and Sally Field fled the law in a Firebird Trans Am, which raced through the 1970s hit movie "Smokey and the Bandit."

By the late 1980s, though, Pontiacs were taking off their muscle shirts, putting on suits and trying to act like other cars. The brand had lost its edge.

Bill Hoglund, a retired GM executive who led Pontiac during its "We Build Excitement" ad campaigns in the 1980s, blames the brand's demise on a reorganization under CEO Roger Smith in 1984.

That overhaul cut costs by combining Pontiac's manufacturing, engineering and design operations with those of other GM brands.

"There was no passion for the product," says Hoglund. "The product had to fit what was going on in the corporate system."

Although the moves were necessary to fend off competition from Japanese automakers with lower costs, they yielded Pontiacs that looked and drove like other GM cars.
By 2008, the last full year before GM announced Pontiac's shutdown, sales were 267,000, less than a third of those sold in 1968.

Formed in 1926, Pontiac made cars for the working class until a sales slump in the 1950s nearly killed it.

GM revived the brand by connecting it to auto racing. From then on, each Pontiac sales boom was driven by speed; each bust generally featured outdated or boring rides.

Source: News-Leader

Friday, October 8, 2010

Radio Flyer Wagon Car

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A Valley couple took a childhood memory and turned it into a retirement project. Now, they have a Radio Flyer car to drive around town in.
Fred Keller and Judy Foster worked on the car for 11 months, and finished in August of this year, and their ride has been turning heads.

The base of the wagon is a 1976 Mazda pickup truck that Foster inherited from her dad.

Clock Here to see the video.

The vehicle turns heads everywhere they go.

"I think the words I hear the most often is 'awesome' or 'cool' or people go by and give us a 'hi' sign," Foster said.

The wheels are made from hub caps and detergent bottles, and the steering wheel is the actual wheel from a wagon. The handle rises eight feet high.

Custom-made Radio Flyer Car Fred Keller and Judy Foster's "retirement" project, isn't something you'd expect. The two built a car modeled after a Radio Flyer wagon, complete with handle and red buttons on the wheels. The car began as a 1976 Mazda Pickup truck, and the project began in the summer of 2009. They completed it in early August and have been turning heads everywhere they go.

1976 Mazda Pickup

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


1965 Austin-Healey 3000 Mk III

Austin-Healey was a British sports car maker. The marque was established through a joint venture arrangement, set up in 1952 between Leonard Lord of the Austin division of the British Motor Corporation (BMC) and Donald Healey, a renowned automotive engineer and designer.

Austin-Healey produced cars until 1972 when the 20-year agreement between Healey and Austin came to an end. Donald Healey left the company in 1968 when British Motor Holdings (BMC had merged with Jaguar Cars in 1966 to form BMH) was merged into British Leyland. Healey joined Jensen Motors who had been making bodies for the "big Healeys" since their inception in 1952, and became their chairman in 1972.

Models Built

Austin-Healey 100

1953 - 1955 BN1 Austin-Healey 100
1955 Austin-Healey 100S (Extremely limited production of aluminium bodied race-prepared cars)
1955 - 1956 BN2 Austin-Healey 100M (Limited production high performance)
1956 - 1957 BN2 Austin-Healey 100
1956 - 1957 BN4 Austin-Healey 100-6 (2+2 seats)
1957 - 1959 BN4 Austin-Healey 100-6 Change to 1 3/4" SU Carbs (2+2 seats)
1958 - 1959 BN6 Austin-Healey 100-6 6 Cylinder motor (2 seat)

Austin-Healey 3000

1959 - 1961 BN7 Mark I (2 seat), BT7 Mark I (2+2 seats)
1961 - 1962 BN7 Mark II (2 seat), BT7 Mark II (2+2 seats), BJ7 Mark II (2 seat)
1962 - 1964 BJ7 Mark II (roll-up windows)
1964 - 1967 BJ8 Mark III

Austin-Healey Sprite

1960 Austin-Healey Sprite

1958 - 1960 AN5 Mark I 'Bugeye - US' 'Frogeye - UK'
After the Bugeye, the AH Sprite was a badge engineered twin to the MG Midget (hence the term 'Spridget'). The MG was aimed slightly upmarket.
1961 - 1964 AN6 - AN7 Mark II
1964 - 1966 AN8 Mark III (roll-up windows)
1966 - 1969 AN9 Mark IV
1969 - 1971 AN10 Mark V (UK Only)


The Big Healey was extensively raced in the United States and was recognized from the very beginning by the Sports Car Club of America / SCCA. Healey models raced in D,E, and F production classes, winning National Championships in both D and E Production.

In 1953, a special streamlined Austin-Healey set several land speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA.


The name Austin is now owned by Nanjing who bought the assets of MG Rover Group (British Leyland's successor company) out of bankruptcy in 2005. After Donald Healey sold his original business, Donald Healey Motor Company, the Healey brand was registered to a new firm, Healey Automobile Consultants, which the Healey family sold to HFI Automotive in 2005.

In June 2007, Nanjing and Healey Automobile Consultants / HFI Automotive signed a collaborative agreement that aims to recreate the Austin Healey and Healey marquees alongside NAC's MG. No timeline has been given as to when the Healey and Austin-Healey brands will return, although MG will be back on the market in China and the UK by the year's end.

Source: Wikipedia

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Looking Back: 1955 Studebaker E Series V-8

We stumbled across this classic 1955 Studebaker E Series V-8 half-ton pickup in Ann Arbor, Mich., on display at the Rolling Sculpture Car Show earlier this month. It's been meticulously restored by owner Ron Cripe.

Studebaker's E Series trucks were inaugurated in 1955. There was the 2E in 1956, 3E in 1957-58 and so on until the 8E models marked the last Studebaker pickups that were sold in 1964. Styling was a mix of carried-over sheet metal from the 1949-53 2R Series and 1954 3R Series.

According to Cripe, 1955 was also the first year an eight-cylinder engine option was available for Studebaker's lightest hauler. The180-horsepower, 259-cubic-inch (4.2-liter) V-8 was paired with a four-speed manual transmission. A six-cylinder was the standard engine.

Cripe's truck is optioned with a heavy-duty rear suspension, which features a remarkable 11 leaf springs in each spring pack. Today's Ford F-150 half-ton has only three leaf springs. Also noteworthy, the leaf springs are held in place below the rear live axle instead of resting above the axle, like today's trucks.

Source: Pickup

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Can Automatic Car Washes Damage Yor Car?

Automatic/drive-through car washes are more popular than ever because they save time and hassle.

But are automatic car washes safe for your car? In fact, in many instances, they are the "safest" course of action for many car owners who want to keep their car clean.

In fact, automatic car washes can be safer for your car's finish than washing your car yourself because do-it-yourselfers sometimes don't use enough water to safely remove dirt; or they wash the car in direct sunlight -- which can burn spots in the paint. Or they use the wrong type of soap -- such as dishwashing detergent, which removes protective wax and leaves a chalky residue on the finish. Or any one of several common mistakes can end up doing more harm than good.

Cars by the numbers:

3 Most Popular Muscle Cars6 Cheap Cars with Great Gas Mileage10 Fastest Sports CarsKeeping your car clean and the finish looking good can also mean higher resale value when it comes time to get a new car. All else being equal, a car with faded paint and a dingy overall look sells for 10-20 percent less than an otherwise identical vehicle that just looks nicer.

So how often should you have your vehicle washed? That depends on how quickly it gets dirty -- and how dirty it gets. For some cars, once a month or so is sufficient -- especially if the car is lightly used and kept in a garage. But some cars will need a bath more often -- especially those that are parked outdoors where they're exposed to bird droppings, tree sap and so on, or driven in areas with very long/severe winters, where the roads are salted when it snows.

Here are a few important things to keep in mind when it comes to automatic car washes:

Be sure it's "brushless" -- Some older car washes still use abrasive brushes (instead of cloth), which can leave small scratches in a car's finish. On older cars with so-called "single stage" paint jobs, light scratches could usually be buffed out; but all modern cars use a "base/clear" system with a thin, transparent layer of clear coat on top of the underlying color coat to provide the shine. Once the thin clear coat is damaged, often the only way to restore the shine is to repaint the damaged area.

Another safe bet is "touchless" car washes that use only high-pressure water jets and detergents to clean the car -- without physically touching it at all. There is virtually no chance of your vehicle suffering any cosmetic damage this way. Some areas have "self-service" coin-operated hand washes, which are great for spraying away heavy dirt buildup. You'll usually need to bring your own bucket, wash cloth/sponge and dry towels, though.

Watch out for the after-wash wipe-down -- Most drive-through washes use a strong jet of heated air to force excess water off after the car goes through the wash. Many full-service car washes will then have you drive the car (or drive it for you, in some cases) away from the wash area to be hand-wiped by attendants. This is usually OK -- provided the attendants are using fresh, clean (and soft) towels to do so. Be alert on busy days, when lots of other cars have gone ahead of you. If you see the attendants using obviously dirty old rags to wipe the car down, you should say "thanks, but no thanks" -- and drive away wet. Dirt and other abrasives in the rags can scratch the finish just like sandpaper. Simply driving away from the wash and letting air flow over the car to dry any remaining water won't hurt anything -- and is the best guarantee of a no-damage experience. Any lingering streaks can easily be cleaned up at home yourself using readily available spray cleaners designed for just this purpose. (Honda Pro Spray Cleaner & Polish is excellent for this; it also provides UV protection and easily and safely cleans off bugs, tar and road grime, etc. without water.)

Hold off on the extras -- A "works" car wash can cost twice as much as the basic wash, but you may not be getting twice the wash for your money. Undercarriage rustproofing, for example, is of dubious value. Effective rustproofing is applied to brand-new metal, in order to seal it from contact with external corrosives such as road salt. Most new cars are extensively rustproofed at the factory during the assembly process; further "treatment" is superfluous -- and a money-waster.

On the other hand, if the wash offers an undercarriage bath, it may be worth the additional cost. Jets of water sprayed directly underneath the car can break loose accumulated crud that would be difficult (and unpleasant) to try to remove yourself using a garden hose. It's also important that underbody drainage holes not be obstructed by mud and other buildup; accumulated moisture can accelerate rust or (in the case of the air conditioning system) lead to the formation of mold in the system. The undercarriage bath should help keep those drain holes clear.

Do, however, think twice about spray-on wax. This typically adds at least a couple bucks to the cost of the wash and while it doesn't hurt anything, it's no substitute for hand-applied polish/wax. Spray-on "wax" may provide a short-term gloss enhancement, but doesn't protect against UV sun damage the way hand-applied wax does. Ditto the cost of having an attendant spray Armor All (or a similar protectant) on your tires to make them shiny. The cost for this extra can be equivalent to the cost of buying an entire bottle of the stuff on your own.

Wheel and tire cleaning is an exception; the heavy-duty cleaners used by the car wash do a great job of removing baked-on brake dust, etc., that can otherwise be a real chore to clean on your own, using over-the-counter cleaners, a hand brush and a hose. It's especially important to keep aluminum alloy wheels clean; brake dust can eventually permanently stain them if it's not regularly cleaned away.


Make sure your car's OK before you leave -- While many car washes will have a disclaimer posted that they are "not responsible for any damages that may occur" as a result of running your car through their wash, that doesn't mean you should automatically absolve them of any damage their equipment or personnel may have caused. If you notice something, ask to see the manager and point it out to him; whether "legally liable" or not, he may offer to fix the problem in the interest of customer relations. And even if he does not, you can still pursue the matter with a higher-up (such as the company headquarters, if the wash is a franchise, as many associated with big-name gas stations often are). If you have a cell phone with a camera, use it to take a photo of the damage in order to support your claim. And it ought to go without saying that you should never leave your purse or other valuables in the car if you use a wash where an attendant will have access to the vehicle's interior.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Classic Oldsmobiles

1968 Oldsmoblie 98 Convertible

1969 Oldsmobile 4-4-2

Click on image to view larger image

1946 Oldsmobile Series 76 club sedan

1950 Oldsmobile 98 Futuramic four-door sedan

1955 Oldsmobile 98 Holiday 2-door hardtop

1962 Oldsmobile Convertible

Oldsmobile 1959 Super 88

1957 Oldsmobile Convertible

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Classic Cars

Classic cars by definition from the Classic Car Club of America are cars that were built from 1919 to 1948. They focus on these first cars ever built. Cars that don't fall in this range are called antique cars, although some people like to interchange the terminology. These cars were typically the creme de la creme, or cream of the crop cars. They were expensive when they first came out, and were made in very limited quantities. Some cars may not fit that bill, but they also can be the first to use a specific development of technology. For example, a car that first used power brakes can be considered a classic car. These are the true classics that people think of. An example that many people may have heard of would be a Rolls Royce. There are many other definitions to classic cars, as it is truly up to the person deciding if it is a classic or not. There are modern classics that are usually at least 15 to 25 years old. For insurance purposes, states give their own definition. For example, Pennsylvania law says that the car must be at least 15 years old and also conform to the original specifications that the manufacturer stated. It truly varies with whoever you speak with. Due to this confusion, the more information you can get regarding classic cars the better. The CarsDirect website is a great source of articles on general classic car information, as well as specific information on certain makes and models.

Classic car value is a very delicate subject. If you are the owner of a car that is in less than mint condition, it is very possible to improve its value, however you should be very careful. While proper restoration is a very difficult and time consuming process, decreasing the value of a classic car is very easy and is often done without the owner even realizing it.

Numbers Matching Cars

The most valuable classic cars are those that are not only in flawless condition, but more importantly are equipped with all of their original factory parts. Numbers matching refers to a car in which all major parts including the engine, transmission, and rear axle, and in some cases even the alternator, carburetor, distributor, water pump and cylinder heads all match the original parts numbers listed for the car. Should you need to replace or repair any of the major parts of your classic car, trying to replace them with parts from the same type of car, year and model will help preserve as much value as possible.

New Parts versus New Old Stock

While the difference between newly manufactured parts may be hard to notice simply looking at them, their impact on a classic car’s value can be enormous. While newer, more recent parts may function more efficiently as well as boast superior durability, using them on a classic car can be catastrophic to its value. In order to maximize the value of your classic car, try and use new old stock parts, or parts that were manufactured during the same time period as the car yet have never been used. If you are unable to locate them for the parts you need, you may want to consider looking for a parts car, or a car of the same year and model as yours that is in poor condition. While these cars may be nearly worthless themselves, the parts you may be able to salvage from them can help improve the value of yours by a great deal.

Body Repair

One of the best ways to improve the value of your classic car is by restoring the body. Repairing dents, and other forms of body damage as well as rejuvenating tired paint with a fresh coat of any of the factory colors of paint the car was available in originally can lead to large increases in value.

Keep Detailed Maintenance Records

Not only do well kept, detailed records help prove the great condition of your classic car as well as the work put into restoration, they can explain any parts that don’t have matching parts numbers, as well as give a window into the life and potential future of your car. People like to know the histories of the cars they buy, and having a detailed record might be enough to coax a few more dollars from a potential buyer.

While customization can make a car more suited to your tastes, it can be devastating to the value of a classic car. For maximum value, always try and keep your car as close to original specifications as possible, using as many original parts as possible.

Source: CarsDirect

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Oldsmobile Concepts

Oldsmobile O4

Oldsmobile Recon

Oldsmobile Toronado XSR

Oldsmobile F88 III

Oldsmobile Fiesta Carousel

Oldsmobile F88 II

Oldsmobile 88 Delta

Oldsmobile Cutlass Concept

Oldsmobile F88

Oldsmobile Starfire Concept

Oldsmobile Golden Rocket

Pontiac Bonneville Special

The Pontiac Bonneville Special was a purpose-built, concept car that was unveiled at the General Motors Motorama in 1954 and was the first two-seater sports car that Pontiac had ever produced. Designed by renowned designer Harley J. Earl and hand built by Hommer LaGassey and Paul Gilland, the Special was an experimental car, a two door, grand touring sport coupé that incorporated innovative breakthrough styling like an all-plexi canopy with gull-wing panels on a sleek fiberglass body. Two Special prototypes, one painted metallic bronze and one emerald green, were built with the intention of unveiling them simultaneously at the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York and the Pan Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles in 1954.

As of 2006, both cars still exist, belonging to Joseph Bortz of Highland Park, IL.


The design of the Special drew its visual impetus from America’s fascination with aeronautic and rocket design in the 1950s, employing a wind-tunnel inspired profile and high-tech bright work throughout the body, hood and grill. Glass covered recessed headlights, like those on the 1953 Corvette, two rows of louvers on the fenders and twin "silver-streaks" on the hood that lead to functional air scoops were it’s most distinguishing features. The rear end styling was its most over-the-top visual cue. Featured between two rather bold fender fins were ultramodern twin exhaust chrome-ports, similar to today’s Porsches, and a custom spare tire enclosure with space-age wheel disc that gave the car a jet-powered appearance.


Interior styling in the Special was state of the art for its time, and indeed would pass muster against today's computer-designed automobiles. The dashboard was a sleek, wing like design that incorporated a clean horizontal layout of working instruments that gave the interior a futuristic cockpit look. Even underneath the dash, the gauges were sealed in by a contoured metal facia with brushed finish, assuring by Earl that no detail would go unnoticed. Between unique, parabolic shaped, leather bucket seats lay a matching metal, center console with functionally modest gear shift handle, twin vent-control levers, and ignition key slot. Centered over the three spoke, Corvette-style steering wheel was a single, large speedometer that read a top speed of 120 mph. Passengers gained entry through conventional, lower doors and gull-wing panels, incorporated into the monocoque-style canopy, that swung upward.

Power plant

Under the hood lay the "Special"-8, a bored out, high output 268 in³ engine that was painted bright red and detailed in chrome. This was a unique configuration for the "eight", installed in the only two Specials ever made. Called the Silver Streak[3] in de-tuned production cars, it was Pontiac's most powerful engine to date in the early 1950s. Similar in appearance only, this was a high compression variant that was modified with a long-duration cam and aspirated naturally through four Carter YH side-draft, single barrel carburetors, the same used in the 1953 Corvette, under open-mesh breathers. Total output was the highest ever for the "eight", rated at 230 bhp, though some estimated it at over 300 bhp. Like the Special, only two of these remarkable variants were ever made. Gearing was controlled through a 4-speed Hydramatic automatic transmission.

Note: Pontiac’s new V8 was being considered for use in the Special but was instead held back by GM marketing. They directed that the straight-8 be used, to keep the "vee" a secret from consumers for one more year until its debut the following year.


Carry-overs from the Special that actually made it into production models

The name "Bonneville" was rumoured to have come from GM designer Harley Earl visiting the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. It was in fact the first car at GM to have been named after it, and would become Pontiac's top end performance platform for 47 years.

The silver-streaks would appear again as a pair on the 1955 and '56 Chieftains and Star Chiefs, not to mention Pontiac's concept car for 1956, the Club de Mer.

The twin scoops: Designed to channel cool air into the driver's compartment, they resurfaced again on both the 1967 Firebird and 1968 GTO.

The louvers: Emblazoned horizontally on the fenders behind the front wheel wells, they would appear again as vertical slits on the 1957 Star Chief Bonneville and 1965 [[Pontiac 2+2|2+2]].

The tail fins: A bold feature on the Special, they would be copied on the 1955 and '56 Pontiac.

The instruments: The 1958 Bonneville - '58 being the first full year for the Bonny - had a sleek instrument panel that looked a lot like the one in the Special.

The wheels: The finned wheel covers on the Special became a design cue for Pontiac's famous 8-lug, aluminium rims that were introduced in 1960.

The colour: It was undoubtedly being remembered when designing Pontiac's modern two-seater, the Solstice, which was also painted metallic bronze.

According to Special owner Joseph Bortz, the air in the tires, with the exception of a few top-ups, is the same air from 1954.

On January 24, 2006, one of the two Specials sold at a Barrett-Jackson auction for US $2.6 million.

Pontiac Club de Mer

The Pontiac Club de Mer was a purpose-built, concept car that was unveiled at the General Motors Motorama in 1956 to celebrate GM's commitment to futuristic design. The brainchild of GM designer Paul Gillian, the de Mer was a two door sport roadster that incorporated innovative breakthrough styling like a sleek, low-profile body encasing a large powerplant, a design trend used widely in LSR (land speed record) trials at Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah during the 1950s. One Club de Mer prototype was constructed and unveiled, along with another ¼-scale model, in Miami, Florida. As per GM's "kill order", it was scrapped in 1958. Only the 1/4-scale model exists today, owned by noted car collector Ron Pratt who purchased it at the 2007 Barrett Jackson Classic Car Auction for $75,000


The design of the de Mer drew its visual impetus from contemporary aircraft construction of its day, employing a stainless steel monocoque, individual wind screens similar to those on the 1955 Lincoln Futura (later TV's Batmobile), aerodynamically fashioned facia that flowed down from the hood skin to cover most of the grill, concealed headlights, and a single rear-deck dorsal fin. Also featured were twin "silver-streaks" that flowed into low-profile hood scoops, a carry-over from Pontiac's Bonneville Special two years prior. The overall styling of the body was a smooth, non-undulating profile, similar to an American supersonic jet fighter, with virtually no protrusions or recesses of any kind save for the out-vents on the leading edge of both doors, and the fin. The vehicle had no bumpers, a common feature on most concepts, and the door handles were quite small. On a human scale, its most alarming feature was that it had a very low profile at just under 39 inches.


The interior styling in the de mer had a barebones functionality to it, more in keeping with its speed trial “airs” than the flashier production vehicles available in showrooms at the time. Instruments were low key, with triangularly configured gauges mounted well behind a three spoke, GT-style steering wheel, around the steering column. The speedometer was positioned on top, and a smaller gauge on either side, each enclosed in its own pod. The interior was finished in red, while passengers gained entry through conventional doors.

Power plant

Under the hood lay Pontiac’s brand new wonder engine, the 287 OHV V-8 which was unveiled the year prior. Called the Strato Streak, it was GM's most powerful engine by 1955 and ushered in Pontiac’s high-performance image with the Bonneville, Grand Prix and GTO. This high-output power plant was modified with a high-lift cam and fitted with two four-barrel carburetors to coax power up to a mighty 300 bhp. The rear wheels were driven by a rear mounted transaxle, used later in Pontiac's new compact, the 1961 Tempest, on a DiDion Type rigid rear axle with independent suspension.


"Concept" was not a term used in the 1950s but instead "experimental car".
The individual bubble windscreens were an innovation carried over to the 1956 and 57 Corvette racing car.
The model kit maker Revell made a 1/25 scale Club de Mer that actually came with 1950s-clad driver and passenger.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Pontiac Chieftain

The Pontiac Chieftain was an automobile produced by the Pontiac Motors Division of General Motors from 1949 to 1958. Chieftains were one of the first all new car designs to come to Pontiac in the post World War II years. Previous cars had been 1942 models with minor revisions.

First Generation (1949-1951)

First Generation Production 1949-1951
Engine(s) 239.2 in³ L-head I6
268.2 in³ L-head I8
Wheelbase 3,048 mm (120.0 in)
Length 5,143.5 mm (202.50 in)
Curb weight 1,535.41 to 1,557.18 kg (3,385.0 to 3,433.0 lb)

The first generation Chieftain replaced the Torpedo as Pontiac's top automobile and was similar (if not exact) in dimensions, engines, trim levels and options to the lower level Streamliner. However, the Chieftain was based on the sportier GM A-Body shell instead of the Streamliner's more staid B-Body shell.

The Chieftain was initially introduced with four models: Sedan, Sedan Coupe, Business Coupe and Deluxe Convertible Coupe. In 1950, a Catalina Coupe was added to the range while a station wagon was added in 1951.

First generation Chieftains came with a choice of four engines:

a 239.2 in³ L-head 6-cylinder engine making 90 horsepower (67 kW) at 3400 rpm
a 239.2 in³ L-head 6-cylinder engine making 93 horsepower (69 kW) at 3400 rpm
a 268.2 in³ L-head 8-cylinder making 103 horsepower (77 kW) at 3800 rpm
a 268.2 in³ L-head 8-cylinder making 106 horsepower (79 kW) at 3800 rpm

The horsepower differences between each of the 6- and 8-cylinder engines were due to changes in compression ratios.

Some of the more interesting optional items available for the first generation Chieftain included a radio with seven vacuum tubes, tissue dispenser, under seat heaters, and a Remington Auto-Home shaver.

Second Generation (1952-1954)

For the 1952 model year, Pontiac discontinued the Streamliner leaving the Chieftain as their only offering. The Chieftain moved to the new 122 wheelbase A-body platform. Engine offerings were basically the same except for the 8-cylinder which got a .2 cubic inch enlargement. Horsepower did increase by 10 on the 6-cylinder and by 15 on the 8-cylinder.

The 1953 Chieftains were largely unchanged from 1952.

The Star Chief joined the Pontiac line in 1954, bumping the Chieftain down to entry level status. Both cars were built on the A-body shell but the new Star Chief had an 11-inch (280 mm) extension added to its frame. Also in 1954, 8-cylinder engines increased by about nine horsepower due to carburetor changes. The 6-cylinder engines remained unchanged.

Also in 1954, power brakes and air-conditioning were offered as extra cost options for the first time.

Third Generation (1955-1958)

The 1955 model Chieftains featured completely new chassis, body and engine. The engine was the biggest news as this was Pontiac's first V8. The 287.2 in³ engine made 173 or 180 horsepower (130 kW) at 4400 rpm depending on which version was ordered (again, the difference was due to changes in compression ratios). A 6-cylinder engine was no longer offered.

The biggest change for 1956 was again in the engine. The new for 1955 V8 was drastically enlarged to 316.6 in³. Horsepower made a considerable increase, jumping to 192 and 205 respectively. Otherwise, the 1956 model Chieftains received only minor updates.

New "Star Flight" styling graced the 1957 Chieftains. This new theme included missile shaped side trim, extended rear fenders with V-shaped tips, lower hoods and massive bumpers. A new Super Chief sub-series debuted within the Chieftain line. These were the meant to be the top of the line Chieftain models.

Once again the Pontiac V8 was enlarged. The 1957 model year say the engine increase to 347 in³ with horsepower increasing to 290 for the Chieftain models.

Chieftains went through another major styling change in 1958. All models were give honeycomb grilles, quad head and tail lamps, concave rear fenders, and longer, lower lines. The Super Chief sub-series was promoted to full model status leaving just the standard array of Chieftains as the entry level Pontiac.

As in years past, the V8 engine was enlarged. For 1958 it grew to 370 in³ and made 240 and 270 horsepower (200 kW) depending on version.

The 1958 models were the last Chieftains to be produced. It was replaced with the all-new Catalina in 1959.

Pontiac Strato Streak Concept

Intended as a combination between a sports car and a sedan, the 1954 Pontiac Strato Streak was created as a concept car for the 1954 Motorama auto shows. Orginially it was painted a metallic green, however it was later repainted a metallic red and renamed the Strato Streak II.

Unique Features

Distinctive features of the Strato Streak included:

■Center-opening side doors without a B-pillar
■Fiberglass body on a 124-inch wheelbase
■Swivel front seats
■Wraparound windshield

The 1954 Pontiac Strato Streak concept was a 4-door “hardtop type” car inspired by the Pontiac Catalina. With no center post between the doors, the car could be opened up completely. It had 4-bucket seats and the front set swiveled sideways for easier entry. Controls for safety and convenience accessories were on the drive shaft tunnel.

The Strato Streak was built on Pontiac’s 124-inch Star Chief’s wheelbase and was only 54.7-inches high, 8.7-inches lower than contemporary production models. The interior featured beige leather and a special nylon fabric with gold metallic threads. The Strato Streak’s backlight pillars were as narrow as possible. The wide rear window was supplemented by quadrant shaped sidelights. The rear doors opened into the wind, with special locks to prevent opening unless the car was stopped and in neutral.

It originally had a metallic green finish on its fiberglass body, but was later painted iridescent metallic red and renamed the Strato Streak II.

Source: Internet

1957 Rambler Cross-Country Station Wagon

Nash Rambler

The Nash Rambler was a North American automobile produced by the Nash Motors division of Nash-Kelvinator Corporation from 1950 through 1956.


Nash-Kelvinator's President George W. Mason saw that the company needed to compete more effectively and insisted a new car had to be different from the existing models in the market. The Rambler was designed to be smaller than contemporary cars, yet still accommodate five passengers comfortably. The Nash Rambler established a new segment in the automobile market and is widely acknowledged to be the first modern American compact car.

In developing this new car, Nash had originally planned to call it the Diplomat. This name would have rounded out the Nash family of cars, as for 1950 the 600 line was renamed the Statesman, and the Ambassador remained the flagship line. When it was learned that Dodge had already reserved the Diplomat name for a planned two-door hardtop body style, Nash delved into its own past, and resurrected the Rambler name from an 1897 prototype and its first production model, in 1902. The Rambler was one of the most popular of early American autos. Similarly, the new Nash Rambler was highly respected throughout its 1950-1955 lifespan.


The Nash Rambler was introduced during the 1950 model year. The new model was the company's entry in the lower-price segment dominated by models from Chevrolet, Ford, and Plymouth. The Rambler was designed to be lighter and have smaller dimensions than the other popular cars. A strategy of efficiency, Nash could save on materials in its production while owners would have better fuel economy. The car rode on a 100-inch (2,500 mm) wheelbase, and power came from Nash's proven 173 cu in (2.8 L) L-head (flathead) Straight-6 cylinder engine that produced 82 hp (61 kW).

1951 Nash "Country Club" hardtop

1952 Rambler station wagon

Additional historical context of the Nash Rambler, along with the Nash Healey and Metropolitan was that US citizens were exposed to and had become fond of smaller more efficient compact and sporty European cars during the Second World War theater of operations. Along with the less gaudy styling cues of European design, that input of enjoying more compact cars was also an effect of Kelvinator having a wide market overseas. This influence is seen directly in the Pinin Farina models. AMC would continue to import European design and styling flair for its products without much notice by typical sources of media, such as the Gucci, Pierre Cardin and Oleg Cassini models, as well as noticeable bodyshell features such as the 1974 Matador Coupe's grille arrangement.

The new Rambler was also introduced only as an upmarket two-door convertible - designated the "Landau". The decision to bring the car out in a higher market segment with more standard features was a calculated risk by Mason. Foremost in this strategy was the need to give the new Rambler a positive public image. Mason knew the car would fail if seen by the public as a "cheap little car". He knew what Crosley was just finding out with its line of mini cars, and what the Henry J would teach Kaiser Motors; namely, that Americans would rather buy a nice used car than a new car that is perceived as inferior or substandard.

Other factors incorporated into the Rambler's marketing mix were the limited steel supplies during the Korean War, as well as the strategy for profit maximization from the new Rambler. The desire to earn a high return for the company meant the new Rambler, with its expected low initial production volume, was priced higher than the base models from its intended competition. To further increase the value to buyers, the car was well equipped compared to the competition and included items such as whitewall tires, full wheel covers, electric clock, and even a pushbutton AM radio.

Following the design of the larger "senior" Nash models, the compact Rambler's styling was rounded in form and also had an envelope body with fender skirts that also enclosed the front wheels. This design feature did not impair the car's cornering ability too significantly. Unlike almost all traditional convertibles of the era that used frame-free side windows, the Rambler retained the fixed roof structure above the car's doors and rear-side window frames. This metal structure served as the side guides or rails for the retractable waterproof canvas top. This design allowed Nash to utilize its monocoque (unibody) construction on its new compact. It made the Rambler body very rigid for an open-top car, without the additional bracing required in other convertible models.

In 1951, the Rambler line was enlarged to include a two-door station wagon and a two-door pillarless hardtop - designated the Country Club.

A car tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1951 had a top speed of 80.9 mph (130.2 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 21.0 seconds. A fuel consumption of 25.2 miles per imperial gallon (11.2 L/100 km; 21.0 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car was reported as costing $1,808 in the United States, British sales had not at the time started.


The Rambler received its first restyling in 1953, and came to strongly resemble the "senior" Nash models which had received all-new "Airflyte" styling the year before. A two-door sedan was added in 1953. For 1954 a four-door sedan and a four-door station wagon - designated the "Cross Country" - were added. These four-door body styles used a 108-inch (2,700 mm) wheelbase. For 1955 the traditional enclosed front wheel wells were opened.

On January 14, 1954, Nash and Hudson Motor Car Company merged, and the successor corporation was named American Motors Corporation (AMC). Following the merger, Hudson dealers began receiving Ramblers that were badged as Hudson brand cars. The Hudson Ramblers and Nash Ramblers were identical, save for the brand name and minor brand badging.


For 1956, American Motors created an all-new Rambler, using a 108-inch (2,700 mm) wheelbase and increasing the overall length of the cars. Again, the Rambler was sold under the Nash and Hudson brand names. The new Ramblers came only as four-door models. Along with the usual four-door sedan and station wagon was a new four-door hardtop sedan. Also, Rambler introduced an industry first, a four-door hardtop station wagon. For 1957, the Rambler became a make in its own right, no longer branded as a Nash or Hudson. Also, for 1957, a V8 engine became available in Ramblers for the first time. This was AMC's own 250 cu in (4.1 L) V8 engine introduced the year before in the Nash Ambassador Special and Hudson Hornet Special. In addition, available only in 1957 was a special high-performance four-door hardtop sedan model called the Rambler Rebel. The Rebel came equipped with AMC's new 327 cu in (5.4 L) V8. The engine was also used in the larger Nash Ambassador and Hudson Hornet for that year. Plans had called for a fuel injection option for the Rebel, but hard starting in cold weather forced it to be scuttled at the last minute. The limited-production Rebel (1,500produced) is considered to be a precursor of the muscle cars that became so popular in the 1960s.

After 1957

In 1958 the Rambler became the sole brand of automobile produced by American Motors Corporation, with the discontinuance of the Nash and Hudson brands. For information on Rambler brand cars, see: Rambler (automobile).