The Definitive Road Trip

by James Kraus

JK - 1 (33)

Tatra 87 of Miroslav Zikmund and Jiří Hanzelka, Egypt, 1947

Most automobile enthusiasts are quite familiar with the road trip. The lore and romance of the open road, the potential of new discoveries, a flexible itinerary, the promise of new adventures. In the halcyon days of yore, road trips also contained a fair element of danger. Tire punctures were a common nuisance; breakdowns an always threatening menace. Mobile phones and GPS systems existed only in science fiction. One couldn’t telegram for a replacement part to be flown out, because airfreight did not exist. Failed components had to be repaired or re-fabricated locally.

One normally thinks of a road trip as a journey encompassing a weekend or maybe a few weeks at most. How about a 3 1/2 year road trip? That is just what Miroslav Zikmund and Jiří Hanzelka set out on 62 years ago.

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A Look Back: Classic Cold War Era Cars of the CCCP and the Eastern Bloc

by James Kraus

Coat of Arms of the former USSR (CCCP)

As a light rain falls outside on a chilly and moonless night in Berlin, I find myself sitting in the front room of the Café Adler on the corner of Friedrichstrabe and Zimmerstrabe, just a few meters from what was once Checkpoint Charlie. Men and women crossing through this notorious portal once faced life-changing or indeed, life threatening circumstances. Visitors to the East sometimes found that they could check in but not check out.

I invite you to throw on your trench coat, turn the collar up and join me for a glass of Kirschwasser as I travel back in time to the days of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Philby Affair and the Portland Spy Ring.

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End of an Era: The Last Air-Cooled Automobile Engines

by James Kraus

Air-Cooled Engine

Air-cooled horizontally opposed 12-cylinder powerplant

I have always been a fan of air-cooled engines. I even enjoy the mechanical noises that emanate from their insides, unmuffled by water jacketing and walls of cast metal. It serves as a reminder that the car is powered by an engine containing many precision parts moving in high-speed synchronization, akin to an Audemars Piguet running on high octane fuel.

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