1960-1964 Super Stock Drag Racing in Vintage Colour

James Kraus

1963 Plymouth Belvedere. Image: George Klass Collection

As colour film ages, a phenomena known as curve crossover frequently occurs as fidelity of the three colour dyes age at different rates. This often results in an evocatively ethereal colour palette. Such is the case with these photos from the heyday of Stock Car drag racing in the U.S.

In the 1950s when 1/4-mile drag racing was gaining legitimacy, there was little interest in racing the family sedan. No official records were kept, nor was elapsed time recorded; the winner was the car with the highest trap speed.  Continue reading

The 1960s New Look

James Kraus

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The New Look: 1960 Chevrolet Impala

In the early decades of motordom, front grills stood tall and proud, reflecting the proportions of early radiators. Headlamps, originally housed in separate housings, began being integrated into the cars design in the late 1930s. Nevertheless, grills and headlamps remained separate elements with the exception of Peugeot, which placed the headlamps near the centre of the car, behind the grill.  Continue reading

Things Go Better With Coke

James Kraus

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Vintage scale model Coca-Cola cab-over delivery truck

The Coca-Cola Company adopted Things Go Better With Coke as their new advertising tagline in 1963. It then became a jingle, performed by leading pop acts of the decade including Jan & Dean, Tom Jones, Petula Clark and The Supremes.

At the same time, automotive designers were thinking that maybe things went better with a Coke shapeContinue reading

The Swinging Sixties: A Rainbow of Wheels and Technicolor Tyres

James Kraus

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1967 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396 with Marina Blue metallic body-colour wheels and F70-14 special nylon Red Stripe Firestone Super Sports Wide Oval tyres

The majority of today’s cars today come equipped with black tyres surrounding wheels (or wheel covers) of silver, grey or black. This was not always the case; brightly coloured wheels were a common automotive styling fillip beginning with the 1886 Benz Patent-Motorwagen.   Continue reading

The Cars of James Bond: Ford Country Squire

James Kraus

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Oddjob drives 007 to Goldfinger’s Kentucky stud farm

In Goldfinger we see James Bond held captive and transported by Auric Goldfinger’s cohorts via a 1964 Ford Country Squire station wagon.

Prior to the introduction of the Country Squire in 1950, American estate models were sold as generic Station Wagons or Estate Wagons. The Country Squire was the first ever U.S. station wagon to merit its own name.   Continue reading

1960s: The Ascent of Black

James Kraus

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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 lifted, France was in the midst of Les Trente Glorieuses and Germany was celebrating Wirtschaftswunder. In the U.S., Wall Street, Madison Avenue, Abstract Expressionism, Modernist architecture and Cool Jazz made New York the global focal point of both art and commerce.   Continue reading

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

James Kraus

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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

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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

Clear Tail Lamps: The Height of Automotive Fashion… Fifty Years Ago

James Kraus

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1965 Cadillac Calais

Clear tail lights are quite popular today and appear on several new models as standard or optional equipment from the Toyota Prius to the Porsche 911 and Aston Martin Vantage. Many people mistakenly believe they were introduced in 1998 with the debut of the Toyota Altezza (Lexus IS) although the Toyota actually only had conventional tail lamps covered by clear acrylic; the design did not conceal the underlying red filter lenses. Clear tail lamps, like so many automotive technologies, actually first surfaced in the 1960s. Many of them were more sophisticated than some recent examples.   Continue reading