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

A Toast to the 50th Anniversary of 1963

by James Kraus

Salon International de l'Auto, Geneva Switzerland, March 1963

Salon International de l’Auto, Geneva Switzerland, March 1963

1963 saw the Jet Age in full swing as the first Learjet took to the skies and a number of automobiles were launched that would become icons of the 1960s; one of which is still with us today.  Continue reading

The Allure of Period Colours

by James Kraus

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Lord Brett Sinclair’s Bahama Yellow Aston Martin DBS in The Persuaders!, 1971

Ancient wisdom once held that in the vintage car market, red, white and black were the best colours for resale. However, as Bob Dylan once declared; The times they are a-changin’.

Early Porsche 911 collectors for example often seek out and pay a premium for the colours that made those cars unique to their time period: Signal Orange, Viper Green, Aubergine, Tangerine; even the more esoteric shades of Olive and Golden Green. 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.

Continue reading

The Gentleman’s Conveyance: NLA (No Longer Available)

by James Kraus

Lancia Aurelia 2.5 Gran Tourismo

There are few gentlemen left in the world today and that has unfortunately led to the demise of the Gentleman’s Express. A true gentleman eschews common ostentation and can normally be outwardly recognized in public solely by the fit of his shirt or the cut of his suit.

Such a man for example, would have been unlikely to dangle his Rolex Submariner or Breitling Super Ocean on his wrist whilst driving to dinner at Lucas Carton. Rather, lurking beneath his Turnbull & Asser Cocktail Cuff one would more likely find his Breguet Classique or Patek Philippe Calatrava.

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A History of Automobiles and Colour before the Age of Chromophobia

by James Kraus


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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Tribute: Lancia Fulvia

by James Kraus

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Fulvia Coupé

I never enjoy being coerced into selecting some favourite or best car. First off, for almost any given occasion or individual there is a vastly different car which would best warrant such a distinction.

Yet I must admit that there are a few vehicles that for me personally always seem to float to the top. The chosen few generally feature unique and technically intriguing engineering. Their uncompromising, sometimes idiosyncratic design show complete contempt for market research, study clinics or other dilutive influences. They represent what their designers thought right and proper for a motorcar and damn the torpedoes. The Fulvia is one of these.

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Automotive Logos: History and Revisionism

by J Kraus

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Newly revised Citroën logo

Word has recently reached me here at Auto Universum world headquarters that Citroën and Lancia both have announced that they were revising their classic logos. This only a year after Fiat found it necessary to “revise” the storied Abarth badge.

The Citroën logo managed to survive 90 years before suffering the current debasement. The classic badge was a representation of the double helical cut gears that were the original product of André Citroën. The dual pattern allowed the silent meshing of normal single bevel gears without generating side thrust. They had been very difficult and time-consuming to manufacture until André obtained patents and licensing rights for new processes that would allow the gears to be machined cheaper and more accurately. When Citroën began building cars in 1919, the logo followed. It adorned all their ground-breaking designs: the Traction Avant, the 2CV, the DS, the GS, and the SM.

Removing the old sharply defined points leaves the new logo appearing very little like gear teeth and a bit flaccid. It in fact calls to mind a pair of boomerangs. I am aware that things are changing quickly, but last I looked, Citroën was still domiciled in France, not Australia.

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