Is That a Big Block Under the Hood?

James Kraus

Plymouth 361 cubic inch (5.9 litre) SonoRamic Commando Big Block V8.

Pity the modern man. Increasingly put upon from seemingly every side, many seek solace in the days of yore when two adjectives in particular were highly prized; Muscular and BigContinue reading

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Fifties Dream Car Incarnate: The Mercury Turnpike Cruiser

James Kraus

1957 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser.

When the average Joe thinks about American cars most characteristic of the 1950s, three suspects usually come to mind; the ’59 Cadillac, the ’57 Chevrolet and the Edsel. With the exception of its jukebox-like front and rear grills and preposterous tailfins, the Cadillac was actually a fairly conservative design, and rather lacking in extraneous gadgets. The ’57 Chevrolet with its tall and short profile was woefully behind the times in the style department; so much so that it lost the first-place sales crown to Ford for the first time since before World War II.  Continue reading

American Muscle? Step Up To 1960s American Glamour.

James Kraus

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Don Draper in his Starlight Silver 1965 Cadillac Coupe de Ville.

One of the few value segments of the vintage car market is what Auto Universum calls American Glamour. A lack of enthusiasm for refinement and elegance has kept prices subdued, a welcome state of affairs waiting to be exploited by those who with a taste for the good life.  Continue reading

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