The Swinging Sixties: A Rainbow of Wheels and Technicolor Tyres

James Kraus

JK - 1 (22)

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 Sixties at Fifty: 1961

by James Kraus

1961 Porsche poster celebrating competition victories of the prior season

By 1961 the last vestiges of the fifties were ebbing and the currents of the sixties starting to more strongly assert themselves. The second year of the decade witnessed the first manned space flight, construction of the Berlin Wall and the first season of The Avengers.

It was a banner year for British sports car enthusiasts. Jaguar unleashed its dramatic new feline, the ‘E’ Type, dubbing it The Most Advanced Sports Car in the World.

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The Godfathers of Automotive Propulsion

by James Kraus

Prototype Lamborghini V12, with chief designer Giotto Bizzarrini, Ferrucio Lamborghini and chassis designer Gian Paolo Dallara. Sant’Agata, Italy, 1963

Please join me in saluting ten automobile engines that conquered time and defied obsolescence. Engines with staying power. All have all been offered for sale in the world’s most competitive markets for over 40 years. They represent a full range, from inline and opposed twins to V12’s in sizes ranging from 0.4 litre to 6.8 litres. Some were conceived as cost-no-object exercises; others, humble workhorse engines of the people. Still others were robust mainstream powerplants that attained immortality in the crucible of competition. A few are still available. Read the rest of this entry ››

Alan Clark: The Thinking Man’s Enthusiast

by J Kraus

Back Fire: A Passion for Cars and Motoring by Alan Clark

I just recently finished reading Alan Clark’s Back Fire. It is a very refreshing book as he was a true connoisseur of automobiles and motoring; one of the few among enthusiasts that sought something special from his vehicles beyond performance and prestige.

In short; a man after my own heart. Alan could have as much fun behind the wheel of his 2CV, Beetle or 1950 Chevrolet as he would driving his Silver Ghost, Bentley Continental or 550 Spyder. As long as the car was imaginatively designed, well executed and entertaining to drive – that is what mattered.

Unlike the majority of enthusiasts and collectors, Alan was not so concerned with the bragging rights and bravado that come with high top speeds, low 0-60 figures and impressive lap times. These are the purview of those who evaluate cars as amusement park rides rather than automobiles. He was much more interested in the driving experience and character of his cars. To him, power and speed were subservient to soul.

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A History of Automobiles and Colour before the Age of Chromophobia

by James Kraus

Peacock

NBC Peacock, designed by John J. Graham, 1956

There is a distinct lack of coloration in today’s automobiles, with the majority seemingly finished in a shade that could be found on a greyscale chart. Things are no better in the interior; nearly always black, beige or grey, colours that architectural and couture designers refer to as neutrals. To make matters worse, these shades are all too often matched to the exterior pigment (i.e. black with black, silver with grey) to create insidious and mind-numbing monochrome vehicles that appear to have simply been dipped whole into a large vat of colourant.

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