Return of the Boomerang

James Kraus

JK - 1 (6)

1958 Edsel Roundup

History has remembered the 1958 Edsel lineup chiefly for its novel styling. While most recall the vertical Alfa Romeo-esque front grill and maybe the eyebrow-shaped rear tail lamps, an all-but-forgotten Edsel styling flourish was the inward-facing boomerang tail lamp design found on the Bermuda, Villager and Roundup station wagons.   Continue reading

Art and the Automobile: Vector Portraits

James Kraus

Man cruising south-southeast at 65 mph on Highway 101 near Toro Canyon on June 19th as the tide is coming in, 2010

Man cruising south-southeast at 65 mph on Highway 101 near Toro Canyon on June 19th as the tide is coming in, 2010. Tap to view full-size

On a trip to Modernism Week in Palm Springs earlier this year I visited the home of a prominent art and vintage car collector. While attending to a glass of distilled spirits in his library, I was entranced by a pair of outsize Vector Portraits by Los Angeles photographer Andrew Bush. Initially garnering my attention were the vehicles depicted: a 1968 Porsche 911 and a 1964 Ford Falcon Ranchero.

Unlike static portraits, these dynamic documentary-style images captured their subjects in motion, moving through time and space while cocooned within the semi-private environment of their personal vehicles.   Continue reading

Jet Age Mobile Telephony

James Kraus

JK - 1 (19)

Automatic Electric Mobiltel car phone brochure, 1960

In the early decades of motoring; if you wanted to make a phone call while on the road, you pulled over, parked and fed coins into a public telephone.

Civilian in-car mobile telephones were first introduced in the 1940s. By the 1960s new models were developed incorporating significant improvements. Chief among these was the general rollout of full duplex operation allowing both parties to speak simultaneously. Full duplex phones obviated the need for a push-to-talk button in the handset and over and out-style communication. Another major advance, direct dialling, became available by mid-decade in selected markets.   Continue reading

1966: A Year of Transition

James Kraus

JK - 1 (61)

Porsche poster celebrating success at the 50th Targa Florio, their sixth overall victory at the storied venue. A few months later Porsche introduced the open-top 911 Targa.

By 1966, the Suave Sixties were slowly morphing into the Swinging Sixties. Currents of change were coursing through the worlds of design, fashion, music and entertainment. It was to be the last full year of the classic sixties before profound mutations would transform the closing years of the decade.

1966 was a particularly fertile year for the Italian auto industry. The colourful and stylish Gianni Agnelli assumed control of the Fiat empire, commuting to corporate headquarters in his Ferrari 365 P Berlinetta Speciale.   Continue reading

A Gem from the Vault: The Young Racers

James Kraus

JK - 1

Vincent Vega walks by a vintage poster of The Young Racers at Jack Rabbit Slim’s diner in Pulp Fiction, 1994

Four years before John Frankenheimer’s Grand Prix, Roger Corman shot The Young Racers. Unfortunately, the latter film remains all but unknown among most enthusiasts. I believe it is time to give the movie its due.

As soon as the opening credits end, viewers are transported directly to Monte-Carlo to observe the running of the 20ème Grand Prix de Monaco.  Continue reading

The People’s Car. Then and Now.

James Kraus

JK - 1 (49)

Wolfsburg Crest, 1962 Volkswagen

On Sunday, the Auto Universum Board of Governors attended the Greystone Mansion Concours d’Elegance in Beverly Hills. This grand affair entailed a $120 admittance fee and boasted a splendid field including a Ferrari 250 SWB, a pair of 300 SLs, a Porsche 356 America Roadster, Alfa 6C 2500, Bugatti Type 57, 1930 V16 Cadillac and many other pedigreed swells.   Continue reading

Six Strings and Four Wheels

James Kraus

JK - 1 (4)

The Rivieras surround a Claret Red 1964 Buick Riviera

A new sound hit the airwaves in early 1960s America: Hot Rod music. An offshoot of the Surf sound, the new genre was indeed often similar to surf music, but the lyrics involved automotive themes, often centered around drag race culture. The first big hot rod hit was 409 by The Beach Boys, a paean to Chevrolet’s recently-introduced 409 cubic inch (6.7 litre) Turbo-Fire V8.   Continue reading