The 1960s: Halcyon Days For Hommes d’un Certain Âge

James Kraus

1965 Mercury Monterey with a trio of distinguished gentlemen and their consorts

According to a recent report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor, 51% of consumer spending is now done by people over 50, yet this group is the target for a mere 10% of marketing activity; this according to Bob Hoffman of the always entertaining Ad Contrarian blog. Bob further points out that millennials, who buy barely 12% of new cars, are featured in about 99.9% of new car advertising, even though consumers over 50 are the ones that have all the money.   Continue reading

The Cars of James Bond: Mercedes-Benz 600

James Kraus

Mer

Mercedes-Benz 600 carries Blofeld and Bundt on lethal mission

The Mercedes-Benz 600 represented the pinnacle in automotive luxury and engineering extravagance in its day and was accordingly featured in no less than three James Bond extravaganzas. Its first appearance came in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1969, driven by Bond’s nemesis, SPECTRE Number 1: Ernst Stavro Blofeld.   Continue reading

2015 Auto Universum Étoile d’Or du Cinéma: The 10th Victim

James Kraus

EdO

The coveted Étoile d’Or du Cinéma

Searchlights scan the skies over Tinseltown as Auto Universum announces the winner of the 2015 Étoile d’Or du Cinéma, awarded in recognition of films best capturing the look and feel of the Jet Age heyday as celebrated at Auto Universum. This years Étoile d’Or has been bestowed upon The 10th Victim (La Decima Vittima), a lush Italian-French science fiction cinematic gem from the heart of the 1960s.   Continue reading

Jet Age Design: The Playboy Town House

James Kraus

The exterior façade was a composition in glass, structural steel and exposed-aggregate concrete. The E-Type depicted in the carport was described as a high performance gran tourismo.

Glass, structural steel and exposed-aggregate concrete define the exterior façade. The Jaguar depicted in the carport was described as a high performance gran tourismo. The E-Type had been introduced just months before these illustrations were rendered.

Far beyond a mere “girlie magazine,” Playboy in the 1960s was a glossy gateway to the good life. Like a worldly uncle or urbane older brother, it dispensed a cornucopia of knowledge regarding women, wine, cocktails, gourmet cuisine, sports cars, hi-fi gear and other pleasurable pursuits of the man about town.

From the beginning, Playmate pictorials were enhanced with the latest modernist furniture creations from Bertoia, Eames, Saarinen and other highly esteemed Mid-Century masters.  Continue reading

Incandescent Ground-Pounding Rubber-Burning Muscle Cars of the 1960s

James Kraus

1964 Pontiac GTO

1964 Pontiac GTO

I get pushed out of shape and it’s hard to steer when I get rubber in all four gears  –  The Beach Boys, 1963

When these lyrics were written in the spring of ‘63 such accelerative prowess would indeed require, as the song expressed, a homebuilt hot rod. Or a daunting expenditure on the likes of the storied 409 Impala or 406 Galaxie. Or an even taller stack of bones for a Corvette, Cobra or E-Type. The thought of anything even more costly would blow a young man’s mind. But in the fall of that year a new player appeared to rewrite the rules …   Continue reading

The Cars of James Bond: Ford Falcon Ranchero

James Kraus

F

Oddjob returning from the scrapyard with precious cargo

Until World War II, American pickup trucks were simply passenger cars with a rear load bay and drop-down tailgate. Following the war, manufacturers phased in purpose-built pickups that were far more truck-like, lacking any pretension to passenger car civility. The final Ford passenger car-based pickup was the 1947 model.  Continue reading