Saturday Car Post: The Changing Of The Guard?

The 1970’s was a rough time for the automobile business in the United States and Canada-

— it represented a fundamental and permanent shake-up not only in what kinds of domestic cars consumers were willing to buy, but also in the penetration of the market by imports, particularly of Japanese origin.

The big domestic car makers
had been reticent to commit the necessary resources to improve build quality and
fuel efficiency – and North American buyers started to look elsewhere – and they
haven’t looked back since,
it seems.

While in 1975, almost 90% of
the cars on the road were
American (or Canadian) made,
the sad and hard reality of
today’s situation is much different:

“There are no purely American
vehicles,” said Michelle Krebs,
senior analyst at AutoTrader.

“These are global automakers
who use global sources for
all types of parts.”

Which, perhaps, goes a long way to explain why the new cars appear so similar to each other.

Several of my favorite vintage
models were built in the 1970’s, and the whole question of ‘style’ as it relates to current automobile models seems somehow no longer germane.

That notwithstanding,
one can’t help but wonder
whether such dependency
on foreign products,
especially one as iconic and
essential to the American
lifestyle, is a good thing
or not –

– and about how
long policies about such
things should be left in the hands of multi-national corporations that care, not about North American security,
economies, or jobs,
but only about profit.



The 1960 Plymouth XNR


This is the
1960 Plymouth XNR .

It is a one-of-a-kind
concept car designed
by Virgil Exner, Sr,
who was Chrysler’s V.P.
for styling at the time.

(He also developed the
legendary Dodge Fire Arrow,
and the Plymouth
Explorer Coupe.)

The XNR was builtaxnr2
on a Plymouth
Valiant chassis,
with a steel body
by Carrozzeria Ghia
( of Karmann Ghia fame )

and utilized a fiberglass nose.

It used a 170 cubic inch slant-six
power plant making about 260 HP,
with a four barrel carb and high performance cam.

axnr3It could handle sharp corners
at speed with ease, and was
capable of just over 150 MPH.

After several years on the show car circuit,

it somehow ended up in the
hands of the Shah of Iran,

….and then spent the rest
of the century in Beirut,
surviving the Lebanese
Civil War in a secret

Amazing, but true.

It was brought back to the United States
for restoration in 2009, and was shown
at the Amelia Island Concours
d’Elegance in 2012.

It sold that year for
just under 1 million dollars –
– $935,000 .

Looking at the styling of
this beautiful car
makes me ask one
simple question —-

Why can’t today’s
automotive designers
come up with cutting edge
ideas like this today ??

Why does every car
on the road lookaxnr
like every other car on the road?

Has automotive styling gone
the way of the dinosaurs?


if so,
what’s next ?





Our Saturday Car Post

For the last year
or so, our posts
on Saturday have
been about
and motorcycles,
and truthfully,
been worried about
running out of
interesting stuff to
talk about in that

… but I did find some
cool things at the local
card and stamp show
which helped inspire
today’s post.

These postcards are all
from the time period
between 1900-1910 –

– and were published
by the Raphael Tuck
and Sons Company,
based in London,

This company produced
beautiful cards from 1871
to the late 1950’s, and was
a leading manufacturer in
the field.

The tragic part of the
Tuck and Sons story
is that during World
War II, their London
factory was burned
to the ground by
Nazi bombs, and the
product of over 70 years –
about 40,000 individual
and original pieces of art –
were lost to the flames.

What a waste.

Today’s series is called
” Motor Car For Sale ”
and takes a whimsical
look at car ownership
in the early days of


Saturday Car Post: Wartime Fords

Reader Question:

Have you ever heard
there were

cars that were registered
and titled as 1943,
and 1945 Fords?

Yes, indeed.

And, you’re probably
wondering how such
a thing could be –
considering all the
major U.S. automakers
stopped making civilian
cars in early 1942 for the
duration of World War II,
and didn’t resume until
the 1946 models.

Still, both facts
are true –

Because a large number
of the 1942 Fords made
were held back for U.S.
government use and
for other “war-essential”

And some states issued
the titles on those cars
based, not on date of
manufacture, but on the
date it was first registered.

Also, certain Ford plants
continued to produce
military ‘staff cars’ based
on the 1942 model
(mostly 4 doors-
the ‘Fordor’, but also
pickup trucks ) all the way
up to the end of the war.

Other manufacturers
were making staff cars
during this period
as well —
for example,
General Eisenhower
had a Packard Clipper,
Buick made such a car
called the Century
Series 60, and Plymouth
made the P-11.

The cars were equipped
with basic equipment,
and then modified for
their specific use, so it’s
not uncommon to find
a large variance in their
options and interior layouts.

One of my favorite features
on the Fords made at that
time was the manual start
mechanism – usually, the
car would be started with
the electric ignition- but
in case of a flat battery,
a crank could be inserted
into the front engine
compartment and fire the

This feature was discontinued
after the war.

Thanks for your question !


What Happened To Studebaker?

Possibly the most beautiful pickup truck ever produced --the 1958 Studebaker Transtar Pickup Truck This is possibly the most beautiful pickup truck ever produced –

—- -the 1958 Studebaker Transtar Pickup Truck.

Studebaker Corporation
of South Bend, Indiana,
produced high quality
and beautifully designed automobiles from 1907 to 1966…
from the Studebaker Electric
to the Studebaker Daytona —

Here’s a brief history.

1948 Studebaker Foldout

1948 Studebaker Foldout

With only three major U.S. car makers today,

…it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that at one time, American manufacturers dominated the world car market—

…….. and that there have been over 1800 U.S. automobile companies since 1896 !

One of the most highly regarded of those was the Studebaker Corporation of South Bend, Indiana, which produced automobiles from 1907 to 1966.

Their cars had a reputation for being reliable, well made, and thoughtfully engineered.

Several of the cars they designed are popular with restorers,
…………. and one was still being replicated in 2006 !

This car, the Avanti, 2
was a cutting edge sport car —
Maurice Hendry called it:
“.. one of the more significant milestones of the postwar industry ” .

Avanti was a fiberglass-bodied 2 door sports luxury coupe, based on a modified Studebaker Lark, with a 289 V-8 Studebaker Hawk engine, making 240 horsepower —

— 300 with the optional Paxton supercharger.

It was the first American production car to feature front disk brakes.

It is thought of by many enthusiasts as one of the most beautiful cars Studebaker ever produced.

In addition to many two door replicas, there are also about 90 four-door Avanti made by the Avanti Corporation — these are rare, but they are out there.

But, the Avanti is only a small part of the very interesting story of Studebaker.

Studebaker Corporation started out making wagons in the 1840’s.

The company’s fortunes were boosted by the California Gold Rush, and the resulting mining and land boom.

They built their first car in 1902– an electric model, which they produced until 1911.

Their first gasoline powered model was produced in conjunction with the Garford Motor Car Company in 1904, but this arrangement wasn’t advantageous to Studebaker, and they switched to licensing E-M-F ( Everitt-Metzger-Flanders Inc. ) in Detroit to build their cars.

This was a disastrous move, however….1
… the E-M-F made cars had terrible build quality and were known to be extremely unreliable.

Mechanics would call the E-M-F cars ” Every Morning Fixits ” , and sales plummeted.

In 1911, the company reorganized and committed itself to producing and developing a name for quality.

Toward this aim, they paid mechanics to repair and replace defective parts on the EMF made vehicles, especially the often-faulty rear ends, and although it cost the company over 1 million dollars, it did help reassure potential buyers for the new Studebaker marqueed gasoline cars,a1a

In 1913, the company was the first to employ monobloc engine casting in their six-cylinder models, which were very dependable and made repairs both easier and more standardized.

Six cylinder engines became the rule in 1916, and in 1919, the company started making trucks with those same powerful, dependable engines…… including buses, fire engines– even locomotives.

Until 1927, all Studebakers made in the 1920’s were six cylinders, which were well suited for the state of the road system..

— but the 1927 8-cylinder President gave Studebaker a big, powerful luxury car with a smooth, balanced ride.


The Great Depression almost destroyed the company,

But by the dawn of World War II,
they were very profitable and were producing cars in record numbers.

They had plants in South Bend, Detroit, and an assembly plant in Walkerville, Canada, producing cars for the British Commonwealth market with right hand drive.

Popular models included the President,
( the replacement in the line for the ‘Dictator’ which was made from 1927-1937 )
and , in 1939, the Champion.

The extremely popular and low priced Champion, designed by Virgil Exner and Raymond Loewry, doubled the company’s previous years sales figures it’s first year.

It was tough, light weight, economical, and designed from the ground up —
— it had a 2.7 liter, straight six engine that got about 27 miles per gallon.

That same assembly line switched over to war production in 1942, and manufactured some very high quality military vehicles during the war,
including the US6 truck, and the M29 Weasel personnel carrier.


Studebaker came roaring out of the gate after World War II,
……and their slogan was:

First by far with a post war car“.

They moved their Canadian assembly plant to Hamilton, Ontario, retooled their South Bend operations…

They dropped the ‘President’ from their line, and made the ‘Commander’ their premium car–

…… a larger wheel based model of the Commander was released as the ‘Land Cruiser’ .

( The ‘President’ regained it’s position as top of the line when it was re-released in 1955.)

And in 1947, came out with the very innovative Studebaker “Starlight ” twodoor coupe design concept, which was offered on the Champion and Commander lines…6

…. which is still noted for it’s panoramic wrap around glass, and futuristic look.

In the fifties, the economic climate made it difficult for small auto manufacturers to compete with the Ford and General Motors,

— and there was an attempt made to merge Studebaker with Packard, Hudson, and Nash, to create a third large car company —

however this eventually was abandoned as impractical.harvey

Studebaker did manage a strategic takeover over it’s rival Packard,

( the pin-up at the bottom of this post features a Packard-Studebaker Clipper )

but this did little to improve Studebakers’ balance sheet,
with production and labor costs running riot.

It is ironic that this period in time also marks the manufacture of some of Studebaker’s most interesting and innovative cars.

Studebaker was struggling for it’s very survival, and they pulled out all the stops in their design department.

While other companies were making clunky, inefficient models with large fins, garish trim features, and such…

Studebaker models were streamlined, economical, and thoughtfully appointed.


Their model offerings during this time offer some insight on where the company was going …

The Studebaker-Packard Hawk series included what could be rightly called the first muscle car–

The Raymond Loewy designed Golden Hawk, with a 310 hp 374 c.i. V-8 engine and a double four barrel carb, in a very lightweight vehicle—

……… it could out-accelerate both the Corvette and the Thunderbird in the quarter mile.

There was also a Power Hawk ,
Flight Hawk,
and Sky Hawk –
made only in 1956, the Silver Hawk made from 1957 to 1959.


Another interesting Studebaker of the era was the 1955 Speedster

This car was basically a low slung ‘President’ hardtop coupe with a special equipment and trim package.

The Speedster came standard with automatic transmission, power steering and brakes, dual exhaust with tailpipe extensions, custom gauges , upgraded interior touches including hand sewn top grain leather seats — plus a special hood length ornament, stainless steel roof band, etc…

The most memorable option was the choice of factory two or three-toned paint jobs….
the ‘lemon-lime’ combo ,
which Studebaker called ‘ Hialeah Green ‘ & ‘ Sun Valley Yellow ‘, is often seen at car shows today.


The Conestoga was a mid-sized all steel bodied station wagon made by Studebaker in 1954 and 1955.

It was a two door wagon, with a two piece tail gate/lift gate on a 116.5 inch wheelbase.. when the rear seat and tail gate were flipped down, there was about 88 inches floor room.

Two engine options were available, a straight six or a V-8 delivering about 120 horsepower…

— and a choice of an automatic transmission, and a manual with or without overdrive.

It was widely used by police and fire departments, and as ambulances and hearses.


The ‘ Lark ‘ was Studebaker’s compact car from 1959 right up to the end of U.S. production in December, 1963 ..

It was hoped that by emphasis on producing smaller cars, the company’s management might be able to save Studebaker from its dire financial situation, and the ‘Lark’ was to be the leading edge of that emphasis.

It was a very practical and well designed car, and had room for 6 passengers…
this was due to the fact that the Lark was built on the body-core and wheelbase of the ‘Commander’.

It was also reasonably inexpensive, 1956
although it went through a bewildering array of model names, series and different trim levels.

Challenger, Commander, Daytona, Cruiser, Wagonaire all were used in conjunction with the Lark ,
and the car was available in 2 door and 4 door sedans, 2 door coupes and convertibles, 2 and 4 door wagons, two series depending on engine type, and in three trim levels, ‘standard’, ‘deluxe’, and ‘regal’.

It was the first compact car to offer a V-8 engine option…
a 289 ci v-8 boasting about 180 hp, and a redesigned straight “Skybolt Six” 170ci with overhead valves that would make about 112 hp.

In 1963, the “second generation” Lark, restyled and offering even more options, was released, but it wasn’t enough to save the company.

The last “Studebaker” , a 1964 “Bordeaux Red” Lark Daytona two door hardtop, rolled off the South Bend assembly line and onto the floor of the Studebaker Museum on December 20, 1963.

From 1964 to 1966, the Lark was still being made at the Hamilton, Ontario plant, and these cars are referred to as the “third generation” Lark.9c

Their last car was a “Timberline Turquoise” Lark Cruiser four-door sedan, was built on March 16, 1966 , which also can be seen at the museum….

But, such a complicated story cannot have such a simple ending…

……………. and so it should also be with Studebaker.

There were apparently several thousand more Larks made under license at the Ilin plant in Haifa, Israel until 1967.

And we have already discussed the story of the Avanti.

But, it seems there may be some automotive life left for the Studebaker name as well…….9d

As of 2012, a new company calling itself the “Studebaker Motor Company” was working up a brand new SUV type vehicle :

… ” to create vehicles that are in some way reminiscent of classic Studebakers, or in other words, definitively Studebaker, yet brought into the 21st Century, and again to see Studebaker Motor Company the American Icon it once was. ”

But, so far,
and it’s been 5 years now, nada.

For those of you
who are all around vintage Studebaker affectionados,
…. might I suggest the Studebaker Drivers Club,
……….. for all things and information related to rallies and such.

HIT THE ROAD ( in whatever you drive )
………………. and SEE AMERICA !!!



The Cars of Rock and Roll

zztopIt’s time for another one of our ‘interactive’ re-posts —

If you haven’t dropped me a line to tell me your favorite rock and roll car, now’s a good time to get added to it.

And, if your link has changed, well, lemme know that, too !

My daughter had a guy from my old garage band contact her on Facebook, trying to figure out how to contact me.

( I had cancelled that damn FB thing eons ago )

After I got over the shock,

….. and the horrible fear that he might be trying to “put the band back together”,

I enjoyed reminiscing about some of the music we used to play together.

One of the pieces we used to play a lot was a Beach Boys piece–
Mike Love and Brian Wilson’s “Fun, Fun, Fun” —

” And she’ll have fun, fun, fun.
Till her daddy takes the T-bird away
(Fun, fun, fun till her daddy takes the T-bird away). “

1965tbirdAnd in truth,

….while the girl in the song might well have been a little on the wild side ….

(and who am I to knock THAT? )

——- that car woulda driven anybody to the wild side —

The 1965 Ford Thunderbird was a beautiful, sexy car, with a V-8 mill and plenty of gravel-throwin’, competition-grovelin’ torque.

Despite the fact that I woulda only been 8 or 9, I would have gotten into a lot of trouble in a car like that as a kid,

…… especially it being a convertible and all.

I dunno….

I think having a car like that could have been much more persuasive with the girls than things like having a personality, a sense of humor, some brains, or other useless attributes like that…..

Not that I had any of that stuff, either. a2

I mighta even gotten to use that thingee I used to carry around in my wallet,

( mostly for show… )

……… until my mother found it, anyway.

They still talk about that at family reunions.

But I digress.

So, anyhoo, a comment from one of my online friends got me to thinking—

Back when I was in the band, we used to do a lot of ‘audience participation’ stuff….

You know, we’d get a song started, and then let the audience sing the chorus.

I’d love to try that with today’s post —

I’ll give you a few of my favorite rock and roll cars —

…… and you let me know which one of your favorites I left off.

heartbeatcityThe small print here, is that you only get to pick one

Leave it in comments for me…

…. and I’ll add your comment, a link to your blog, and a picture of your favorite car to the main post.

You don’t necessarily have to know the make and year of the car–

…….. if you know the name of the song I’ll figure it out.

You got some pretty good choices, too, when you think about it.

If you’re a Beach Boy fan, for instance….

deucecoupeMy friend Robin,
at Reocochran,
likes the 1932 Ford Model “B” Coupe —

—–otherwise known as the “Little Deuce Coupe”.

Oooooooooo…. nice !!!

or maybe you want a heavier car with more power,
in which case,
you’d take a car with Chevrolet’s legendary ‘409’ big block “Turbo-Fire” V-8,

….like the 1962 Chevy Impala SS.

That way, your competition would probably only get to see those iconic tail lights.

That’s also a lovely choice, man.

GTOMy friend Debra at Ptero9 loves the 1970 GTO —

That’s her favorite model of the “Little GTO” made famous by Ronnie and the Daytonas,

and re-cut later by the Beach Boys.

Oh yeah, man–

… what’s not to like?

But, let’s say that by some stretch of mother nature’s infinite sense of humor, you weren’t blessed with a taste for Beach Boys music…..

I’m sorry to hear that, really I am.

Hey— cheer up— you still got plenty of choices.

aaaLike this one:

Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” —

the 1982 Chevrolet Corvette —

Not that I’m all that into Vettes,

…… but I wouldn’t kick it out of the garage, either.

( it’d probably get a black paint job, though )

covetteconcept(I’m thinking a silver/black arrangement would be pretty cool, too —

As a matter of fact, so does Carolyn at Doesitevenmatter3

So, for her, here’s the original concept car on which the 50th Anniversary Corvette was based —

or —

how about Wicked Wilson Pickett’s “Mustang Sally” —
the 1966 Ford Mustang ?

Sure, it’s a girl’s car….
….. but it’s very cool.

1948ferrariAnd of course,

Neil Pert wrote a song for Rush called “Red Barchetta” —

You could do a lot worse than this 1948 Ferrari Barchetta,

which is worth much, much more than anything I own, anyway.

I don’t what it is about ‘compensating’ cars, they all seem to be red.

What’s that all about?

And while we’re speaking about exotic cars,

one of my all time favorite Rock and Roll car references was from Van Halen’s song “Panama” —

aaThe revving you hear during the song was Eddie Van Halen’s 1980 Lamborghini LP-400-S Series Two Countach.

It was kinda disappointing to find out that the car in question was way beyond anybody but a rock star’s budget–

…………… especially when he also had Valerie Bertinelli .

But I got over it eventually, and I decided I like him anyway.

The bastard.

69mustangJoy said she initially chose that Lambo,

but then went with a 1969 Ford Mustang.

Considering the hotness quotient of that model,

— I totally get the selection,

and I think the metallic black in the fastback would do quite nicely for me.

Janis Joplin used to sing a song about an exotic car, too —

” Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends,
So Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?

The problem here, of course, is that Janis didn’t own a Mercedes Benz.

She owned a Porsche 356C Cabriolet.

Like this one.

Actually, that one’s hers.

Oh well.

A mere detail, man, a mere detail.

caddyJen from BlogItorLoseIt wanted Chuck Berry’s car from “Maybelline”–

A little tricky,

because he didn’t say which year that Caddy was in the song–

But how about this one?

Yow —

That’s one classy Coupe De Ville !!!!

eliminatorAnnie B says her favorite is the ZZ Top Car from Eliminator–

and of course,

that car was at the top of our post for a reason,

—- it’s been turning heads a long time,
for sure.

You gotta love the lines , too.


My longtime friend Sunsetdragon wants a 1957 Chevy — (and likes the ZZ TOP car, too.)
And voila !

Now that I’ve got you warmed up, I think you should be able to come up with something to send your Ole Uncle Nuts.


Thank you.

pinkcadOh, lest we forget my friend up there in Canada, LittleMissPoutine,

…. and her penchant for Bruce Springsteen and his “Pink Cadillac” —

That would never do.

Here ya go — I hope you like it, LMP.

It certainly is PINK.


And Stan2606 suggests the car from:cobra

“Hey Little Cobra”,

a big hit in 1964 by the RipChords:

Here it is , right here.


So…. now, it’s your turn —