America’s It Brand of the 1960s

1965 Pontiac 2+2 Sports Coupe.
Illustration by Art Fitzpatrick and Van Kaufmann.

James Kraus

The heyday of Pontiac neatly coincides with the 1960-1967 period most celebrated here at Auto Universum. Their glory days began with the formation of a young new team of executives who were granted control of the division in the late fifties.

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Jock Fearer and the Birth of Chrysler’s High Impact Color Program

James Kraus

Tonka Toy dump truck in Omaha Orange.

In the Spring of 1969, as Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In was dominating the pop charts, Chrysler began officially offering a trio of bright, saturated High Impact Colors. Although designed for their performance lineup of Barracudas, Chargers, Coronets, GTXs and Road Runners, the vivid colours were actually available across the board on all Chryslers, Dodges and Plymouths.

The origin of High Impact Colors goes back to 1968 and a Los Angeles Chrysler-Plymouth Regional Sales Manager by the name of Jock Fearer.

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Last Days of the Flathead

James Kraus

1965 Rambler American.

Flathead engine, with its valves ensconced in the block, was still a competitive design in the low-compression, low-speed engines of the prewar era. That changed and changed quickly with higher-octane fuels allowing for higher compression ratios, and improved metallurgy and shorter-stroke engine designs enabling considerably higher crankshaft speeds.

The large-volume combustion chambers and upside-down valve placement required in a flathead engine conspired to limit the compression ratio to around 8.4:1, after which power and fuel efficiency both decreased.

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The Atmospheric Automotive Illustration of John Killmaster

James Kraus

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1960 Ford Starliner in Corinthian White at Manganese Falls, Copper Harbor Michigan.

A resident artist at LaDriere Studios in Detroit from 1953 through 1963, John Killmaster’s mature style corresponds aptly with the Jet Age aesthetic of Auto Universum.

John often created entire pieces, but his forte was producing lush, painterly backgrounds that flatteringly framed the selected automobiles.  Continue reading

Timeless vs Of Its Time, Part II

James Kraus

First generation Porsche 911 and Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray.

In the first chapter of Timeless vs Of Its Time, we examined two American luxury cars, the 1961 Cadillac and Continental. Now we look at two sporting cars from the 1960s, The Corvette Sting Ray and the Porsche 911. The Sting Ray went on sale in the autumn of 1962, while the new Porsche made its public debut at the Frankfurt International Motor Show just one year later. Continue reading

1969 and the Psychedelic Artwork of Paul Williams; when Plymouth Told It Like It Was

James Kraus

1969 Plymouth Cuda 340 Fastback.

1969. The turbulent coda of the nineteen-sixties. The Année Érotique.

Apollo 11 landed men on the moon, 400,000 attended the Woodstock Music & Art Fair and the world witnessed the maiden flights of the Concorde and Hugh Hefner’s DC-9 Big Bunny.  Continue reading

Rise of the Boxtop

James Kraus

1962 Ford Galaxie 500 XL.

The term Boxtop is generally applied to 1960s Ford products and describes a roof with broad slab-sided, roughly parallelogram-shaped C-pillars and a rather upright decidedly non-fastback rear window. The ideal Boxtop requires clear visual delineation between the roof and body at both the top of the A-pillars and base of the C-pillars and rear window. Continue reading

A 1960s Classic: The Pontiac 8-Lug Wheel

James Kraus

1961 Pontiac Catalina with the original 8-Lug wheel; introduced mid-1960.

American cars of the 1960s were certainly not renowned for their braking prowess. Except for a handful of exceptions, disc brakes were not widely available until 1967 and the drum brakes provided were generally small in size and nowhere near up to the weight and power of the cars to which they were fitted. Continue reading

Whenever I hear the term dated, I release the safety on my Browning.

James Kraus

Essayist and art critic Clement Greenberg. Arnold Newman photo, 1972.

… Datedness is not a valid aesthetic judgment. It doesn’t say whether art is good or bad. Dated art can be as good as up-to-date art. – Clement Greenberg

Over the last several years, the term “dated” has been tossed around ad nauseam by hacks, buffoons, and others who wish to appear hip and knowledgeable, but in reality have trouble discerning their backsides from deep depressions in the earth. Continue reading

The Colourful World of Mid-Century Motive Power

James Kraus

1964 Buick Riviera with optional 425 (7.0 litre) twin-carb Super Wildcat Nailhead V8 in aqua with black air cleaner accented in red. “465” was the torque output in ft/lbs.

Recently, Corvette fans have been excited by the appearance of red-painted valve covers on the new C8 Sting Ray; the first dash of colour in the Corvette engine compartment since the red plastic beauty covers of the 2013 C6 Z06. Unfortunately, GM chose a rather Ferrari-esque red rather than the traditional red-orange used on Chevrolet V8s since 1955 including such renowned versions as the fuel-injected 327, the 409, 396 and 427. Continue reading

1969: Année Érotique

James Kraus

Astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin walks on the moon.

This year’s look back at 1969 brings to a close Auto Universum’s ten year celebration of the 50thanniversary of the 1960s; the final year of an exciting, glamorous, stylish and ultimately tumultuous decade. An era that epitomized technological advancement, elegance and savoir-faire; tragically ending with the violence and mayhem of the Manson murders and the Altamont Free Concert. Continue reading

Image from the Past

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Capturing a moment of 1966 America. Snapshot of Brian Wilson alongside his Sunfire Yellow ’66 Sting Ray with a ’66 Mustang and ’66 Lincoln Continental in the background. Just a few months after this photo was taken Brian’s Good Vibrations would be released and begin rising to the top of the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the Beach Boys’ third number one hit and their first million-selling single.