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

1960s: The Ascent of Black

James Kraus

JK - 1 (49)

1965 Chevrolet Impala with black Super Sport rear deco trim

The latter half of the 1950s was a jubilant, optimistic era when life was comfortable and the future looked bright. In Britain, post-war food rationing was gone, France was enjoying the height of Les Trente Glorieuses and Germany was celebrating its Wirtschaftswunder. In the U.S., Wall Street, Madison Avenue, Abstract Expressionism, Modernist architecture and Cool Jazz catapulted New York to the global epicentre of the intersecting worlds of art and commerce.   Continue reading

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

James Kraus

JK - 1 (46)

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