1967 Ford Thunderbird Four-Door Landau in Raven Black with Black Levant Grain vinyl roof
The new car market today is rife with the latest body body configuration; the Four-Door Coupé. The Mercedes-Benz CLS and Volkswagen CC have recently been joined by the BMW Gran Coupé and more examples are likely on the way.
The contemporary four-door coupé first appeared in the form of the aforementioned Mercedes-Benz CLS in 2004. Based on the E-Klasse platform, it was sheathed in more flamboyant sheet metal than the standard four-door models and featured coupé-style unframed door glass with an overall height reduced by about 6 cm (2.5”). This has been the general formula for its later progeny.
The four-door coupé concept is not really new; this body style enjoyed a brief reign of popularity several decades ago.
Pau Grand Prix, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, France, 1962
Auto Universum continues its decade-long 50th Anniversary of the Sixties series with a look back at 1962.
If you missed seeing Maurice Trintignant claim the chequered flag at the Grand Prix de Pau on Easter Sunday fifty years ago, you still had the chance to witness plenty of exciting automobile introductions, architectural presentations, product unveilings and cultural events that took place throughout the year.
Lord Brett Sinclair’s Bahama Yellow Aston Martin DBS in “The Persuaders!”
Ancient wisdom once held that in the vintage car market, red, white and black were the best colours for resale. However, as Bob Dylan once declared; The times they are a-changin’.
Early Porsche 911 collectors for example often seek out and pay a premium for the colours that made those cars unique to their time period: Signal Orange, Viper Green, Aubergine, Tangerine; even the more esoteric shades of Olive and Golden Green.
1964 Porsche 904 Carrera GTS. A masterwork in the annals of badging: cursive lettering, gold-anodised finish, canted 45-degrees, and unique placement flowing over the curved transition from rear deck to rear quarter panel
Free-flowing cursive script is not often seen on automobiles today. It still survives at Alfa Romeo, Lamborghini, Maserati and Porsche. Outside this quartet it is rare indeed. In days past, cursive was common throughout the industry.
Such longhand script was often utilized to enable casting a complete badge out of a single piece of metal. The alternative was to either run block letters together, or connect individual block characters with a bar across the top (à la Ferrari,) a bar at the bottom (typified by BMW and Mercedes-Benz) or through the centre in the style of Alfa Romeo.
Pre-war cars used cursive scripting almost exclusively, although badging itself was generally minimal or nonexistent. In the 1900’s manufacturer nameplates were usually affixed only to the front of the radiator, and model designations were not displayed. In the thirties, even this practice declined, with most vehicles displaying the manufacturer’s name only via a stylized logo atop the radiator shell. After the war, marque and model badging began proliferating and begat its own art form.
The weapons of World War II gave the public their first-ever glimpse of the power and speed of jet and rocket engines. As hostilities drew to a close, engineers labored over their drawing boards to harness these new power sources for peacetime use.
The rocket-powered Bell X-1 aeroplane broke the sound barrier on 14 October 1947, achieving supersonic speed for the first time. BOAC commenced commercial jet travel in May of 1952. In 1958, commercial transatlantic jet service was inaugurated, and construction began on the Pan Am World Airways tower in New York City.
A number of auto manufactures found it desirable to infuse their products with a bit of this jet age glamour and space age allure.
Ford is not the oldest automotive manufacturer, being predated by Peugeot, Daimler, Benz (separate companies at the time) and Fiat. It was however, the first mass-market producer. The origin of their current script logo dates back to the days of the Model T, and the characteristic blue oval background arrived with the debut of the Model A in 1927.
Despite the recognizability and brand equity inherent in the traditional Ford script in its blue oval, its use lasted but a decade. The blue oval was dropped after 1936, and the classic Ford script was unceremoniously scrapped in 1948.
Heading for the biergarten in a new Ford Taunus 17M
Fifty years ago, the decade that epitomized Jet Age glamour and Space Age sophistication officially began. Automotive engineers and designers were adamant not to be left behind. They toiled over their drafting boards and clay models to create products that would appeal to motorists craving designs that projected a clear expression of the exciting possibilities of the new fast-paced decade of jet travel, satellite communications and space exploration. Continue reading →
Prototype Lamborghini V12, with chief designer Giotto Bizzarrini, Ferrucio Lamborghini and chassis designer Gian Paolo Dallara. Sant’Agata, Italy, 1963
Please join me in saluting ten automobile engines that conquered time and defied obsolescence. Engines with staying power. All have all been offered for sale in the world’s most competitive markets for over 40 years. They represent a full range, from inline and opposed twins to V12’s in sizes ranging from 0.4 litre to 6.8 litres. Some were conceived as cost-no-object exercises; others, humble workhorse engines of the people. Still others were robust mainstream powerplants that attained immortality in the crucible of competition. A few are still available.