1964: Britain Conquers the Globe

by James Kraus

Goldfinger

Goldfinger, Guy Hamilton, 1964

In 1964 the British Isles became the centre of popular culture. Beatlemania assumed international proportions with the band’s successful invasion of the United States and the release of A Hard Day’s Night. Meanwhile, cinematic MI6 Agent James Bond cemented his status as the free world’s favorite undercover operative with the debut of Goldfinger.

The Rover 2000 won European Car of the Year and the Morris Mini Cooper secured its premier victory at the Rallye Monte-Carlo, the storied event with which it would become inexorably linked. Last but not least, another sort of British mini exploded into worldwide popularity and acclaim: the miniskirt.   Continue reading

In Hindsight: 1960s Cars of the Year

by James Kraus

The first European Car of the Year award

Fifty years ago: the first international European Car of the Year award

First presented in 1964, the European Car of the Year (COTY) prize was the premier attempt at an international automotive award for the best new car launched during the previous year. Nominees could be designed and manufactured anywhere in the world as long as they enjoyed at least limited distribution in Europe. The award is still in existence, the Peugeot 308 being the 2014 recipient.

Globalization in automotive markets was quite limited in the 1960s. Many European models were unavailable in America and little more than a handful of American cars were exported to Europe. Only a few select models of Japanese cars were exported and the models selected for sale in Europe were usually not the same models sold in the U.S. For these reasons, the COTY was the closest thing to a universal international automotive accolade.  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

Back to the Future: Return of the Four-Door Coupé

by James Kraus

JK - 1 (46)

1967 Ford Thunderbird Four-Door Landau in Raven Black with Black Levant Grain vinyl roof

The new car market today is rife with the latest body configuration; the Four-Door Coupé. The Mercedes-Benz CLS and Volkswagen CC have recently been joined by the BMW Gran Coupé and more examples are likely on the way.

The contemporary four-door coupé first appeared in the form of the aforementioned Mercedes-Benz CLS in 2004. Based on the E-Klasse platform, it was sheathed in more flamboyant sheet metal than the standard four-door models and featured coupé-style unframed door glass with an overall height reduced by about 6 cm (2.5”). This has been the general formula for its later progeny.

The four-door coupé concept is not really new; this body style enjoyed a brief reign of popularity several decades ago.  Continue reading

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 twelve 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 ››

Jet Age Turbine Power

by James Kraus

1963 Chrysler Turbine Car

1963 Chrysler Turbine Car

The 1950’s and early 1960’s were the dawn of the jet age and the public clamoured for anything new and futuristic. What could be more alluring than gliding down the road in a jet-powered automobile?

A number of manufacturers toyed with gas turbine developments at this time including Rover, Fiat, Renault, General Motors and Chrysler.

Turbines are ideal in jet aircraft as they run at nearly constant speed. To adapt them for automotive use they had to be modified to provide much faster throttle response and quicker transition times from idle to maximum power. Provision for engine braking was also required as was the necessity for lower exhaust gas temperature.

Read the rest of this entry ››