Friday, April 30, 2010

Dodge Charger

Dodge Charger, 1968

There have been a number of vehicles bearing the Charger nameplate, but the name has generally denoted a performance model in the Dodge range. The 1966 to 1974 Chargers were the high performance B-body models. The 1975 to 1978 Chargers were based on the Chrysler Cordoba.

It was clear after the sales drop of the 1967 Charger that a restyle was in order. Dodge was going to restyle their entire B-body lineup for 1968 and decided that it was time to separate the Coronet and Charger models even further. What designer Richard Sias came up with was a double-diamond design that would later be referred to as "coke-bottle" styling. From the side profile the curves around the front fenders and rear quarter panels look almost like a Coke bottle. On the roof a "flying buttress" was added to give the rear window area a look similar to that of the 1966 Pontiac GTO. The Charger retained its full-length hidden headlight grille, but the fully rotating electric headlights had been replaced by a simple vacuum operated cover, similar to the Camaro RS. The full length taillights were gone as well. Instead, dual Corvette-inspired taillights were added. Dual scallops were added to the doors and hood to help accent the new swoopy lines. Inside, the interior shared almost nothing with its first generation brothers. The four bucket seats were gone, the console remained the same as the '67. The tachometer was now optional instead of standard, the trunk and grille medallions were gone, the carpeting in the trunk area was gone, replaced by a vinyl mat, the rear seats did not fold forward and the space-age looking electroluminescent gauges disappeared in favor of a more conventional looking design.

In order to further boost the Charger's muscle car image, a new high-performance package was added, the R/T. This stood for "Road and Track" and would be the high performance badge that would establish Dodge's performance image. Only the high performance cars were allowed to use the R/T badge. The R/T came standard with the previous year's 440 "Magnum". The Slant Six was added to the option list in 1968, but it proved to be a very poor seller. Most people wanted a V8 in their Charger. The rest of the engine lineup (318-2, 383-2, 383-4, 426-8) remained unchanged.

In 1968 Chrysler Corporation unveiled a new ad campaign featuring a Bee with an engine on its back. These cars were called the "Scat Pack". The Coronet R/T, Super Bee, Dart GTS and Charger R/T received bumble-bee stripes (two thin stripes framing two thick stripes). The stripes were standard on the R/Ts and came in red, white or black. They also could be deleted at no cost. These changes and the new Charger bodystyle proved to be very popular with the public and helped to sell 96,100 Chargers, including over 17,000 Charger R/Ts.

A famous Charger was the four-speed, triple-black 1968 Charger R/T used in the movie Bullitt. The chase scene between Steve McQueen's fastback Mustang GT and the hitmen's Charger R/T is popularly regarded as one of the greatest car chase scenes ever filmed.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Audi 100

Audi 100, 1979

The C2 Audi 100 was launched in 1976, with crisper styling and an unusual five-cylinder engine (the first gasoline 5 in the world - Mercedes-Benz had shown the way in 1974 with their three litre Diesel 5cyl in the Mercedes-Benz C111). It was initially a 100 bhp (74 kW) engine offering "5 cylinder power and 4 cylinder economy", and later upgraded to 136 bhp (100 kW).

The Coupé was discontinued, but a five-door hatchback model, the 100 Avant, was launched as part of this generation. Two- and four-door models continued.

The 100 was sold as the Audi 5000 in the United States, in order to rebrand the car and avoid association with the C1. It was a sales success, allowing Audi to spread development costs over a much wider base than Europe-only competitors.

In 1980, the Audi 200, a plusher variant that included a turbocharged model of 170 bhp, available in 200 5E or 200 5T spec for the UK. The 5T or turbocharged model in addition of the 5E model featured heated seats, opening front quarter windows, cruise control, ski bag, green heat insulated glass, electric sunroof and elec heated mirrors.
Standard in 3 speed auto. The only options listed in the brochure were 5 speed manual transmission at no extra cost, air con and leather seating. The car was marketed in the US as the 5000 Turbo. The Audi 100/200 was succeeded by the C3 platform model in 1983, and the 200 followed one year later.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Lotus Elan

Lotus Elan, 1962

The original Elan was introduced in 1962 as a roadster, although an optional hardtop was offered in 1963 and a coupé version in 1965. It was the first Lotus road car to use the now famous steel backbone chassis with a fibreglass body. At 1500 lb (680 kg), the Elan embodied the Colin Chapman minimum weight design philosophy. Initial versions of the Elan were also available as a kit to be assembled by the customer.

The Elan was technologically advanced with a twin-cam 1558 cc engine, 4-wheel disc brakes, and 4-wheel independent suspension. The Lotus-Ford Twin Cam engine was based on Ford's Kent, with a Lotus-inspired Cosworth alloy twin-cam head. This Lotus-Ford 4-cylinder engine would go on to be used in a number of Lotus production and racing models. An Elan +2 was introduced in 1967 with a longer wheelbase and two more rear seats. The Elan ceased production in 1973 and the Elan +2 in 1975. An estimated total of 17,000 original Elans and Elan +2's were built. Because of its successful design and technological sophistication, the Elan went on to become Lotus' first commercial success, reviving a company stretched thin by the more exotic and less commercially successful Elite, and enabling funding of the Lotus success in racing over the next ten years.

The generation of the two seater Elan was famously driven by the character Emma Peel on the British television series The Avengers. In 2004, Sports Car International named the Elan number six on the list of Top Sports Cars of the 1960s. The original version of the car was designed by Ron Hickman, who also designed the first Lotus Europa as part of Lotus' GT40 project bid and made his fortune having designed the Black & Decker WorkMate.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Lotus Elite

Lotus Elite, 1973

The Lotus' first saloon car was front engined with rear wheel drive. Like all production Lotuses since the Elan, the Elite II used fiberglass for the hatchback bodyshell, mounted on a steel backbone chassis evolved from the Elan and Europa. It had 4-wheel independent suspension using coil springs. Power steering and air conditioning were optional from 1974. The Elite II was the basis for the Eclat, and the later Excel four-seaters.

The Elite II was Lotus' first car to use the "907" aluminium-block 4-valve, DOHC, four cylinder, 2.0 L engine. (The 907 engine had previously been used in Jensen-Healeys.) The 907 engine ultimately became the foundation for the Lotus Esprit powerplants, both naturally-aspirated and turbocharged. Elite IIs were available with a 5-speed gearbox standard; from January 1976 an automatic transmission was optional.

Regarding performance, the Elite and Elite II (and the related Eclat) are notable in that the stock curb weight is not much over 2000 lb (907 kg). Once the motors reach their power band, both acceleration and handling are impressive.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Jaguar XJ220 Concept,

Jaguar XJ220 Concept, 1988

Jaguar XJ220 Concept, 1988

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Renault 4 CV Luxe

Renault 4 CV Luxe, 1950

The Renault 4CV was an automobile produced by the French manufacturer Renault from 1946 to 1961. An economical "people's car" inspired by the Volkswagen Beetle, it was the first French car to sell over a million.

The 4CV was originally conceived and designed covertly by Renault engineers during the German occupation of France during World War II, when the manufacturer was under strict orders to design and produce only commercial and military vehicles. A design team led by Fernand Picard, Charles-Edmond Serre and Jean-Auguste Riolfo envisioned a small, economical car (similar to the Volkswagen Beetle) suitable for the economically difficult years which would inevitably follow the war. The first prototype was completed in 1942 and two more prototypes were produced in the following three years, with the 4CV ultimately presented to the public and media at the 1946 Paris Motor Show.

On the 4CV's launch, it was nicknamed "La motte de beurre" (the lump of butter) due to the combination of its shape and the fact that many early models were painted with sand yellow-colored German army surplus paint intended for the Afrika Korps. The 4CV was powered by a 748 cc engine producing 17 hp, which was coupled to a three-speed manual transmission. Despite an initial period of uncertainty and poor sales due to the ravaged state of the French economy, the 4CV had sold 37,000 units by mid-1949 and was the most popular car in France. The car remained in production for more than a decade afterwards; it was intended to be replaced by the Renault Dauphine, launched in 1956, but the 4CV in fact remained in production until 1961, only a year earlier than the more expensive Dauphine was discontinued. In event, it was replaced by the Renault 4 which used the same engine and name as the 4CV and sold for a similar price.

1,105,547 cars were produced; the 4CV became the first French car to sell over a million.

The 4CV was easily modified and was used extensively as a racing car, winning both the Le Mans 24 Hours and the Mille Miglia. The first collaboration between the Alpine company and Renault, a partnership which would go on to win the World Rally Championship with the legendary Alpine A-110 in later years, was the Alpine A-106 which was based on the 4CV.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Chevrolet Corvette C2

Chevrolet Corvette C2, 1963

The Chevrolet Corvette C2 is a sports car designed by Larry Shinoda under the styling direction of Bill Mitchell, and produced between 1963 and 1967. It is the second generation or mid-year Chevrolet Corvette built and marketed by Chevrolet.

1963 would see the introduction of the new Corvette Sting Ray coupé with its distinctive split rear window and fake hood vents as well as an independent rear suspension. The split rear window was discontinued in 1964 due to safety concerns. Because they made the design too busy, the hood vents were also cut. Power for 1963 was at 365 hp (272 kW) hitting 375 hp (280 kW) in 1964.

Four-wheel disc brakes were introduced in 1965, as was a "big-block" engine option (the 396 in³ (6.5 L) V8). Side exhaust pipes appeared on the 1965 Stingray and persisted through 1969. Chevrolet would up the ante in 1966 with the introduction of an even larger 427 in³ (7 L) version, creating what would be one of the most collectible Corvettes ever. 1967 saw a L88 version of the 427 introduced which was rated at 430 hp (321 kW), but unofficial estimates place the actual output at 550 hp (410 kW) or more. Only twenty such engines were placed in the 1967 Corvette, and the cars can fetch US$600,000 or more in auction today. From 1967-1969, the 1282 cfm Holley triple two-barrel carbuetor, or Tri-Power, was available on the 427. The 1967 Corvette originally was going to be the first of the C3 generation; however, due to delays the C3 had to be put off until 1968. Other early options available on the C2 included AM-FM radio (mid 1963), air conditioning (1963), telescopic wheel (1965), head rests, presumably to prevent whiplash (1966).

The 1965 introduction of the 425HP 396 c.i. big block was ultimately the harbinger of doom for the Rochester Fuel injection system. The 396 425HP option cost $145. The 327-370HP Fuelie option cost $500. Few people could justify spending $355 more, for 55 hp less. When less than a thousand fuelie cars were built in 1965, Chevy stopped the program. It was indeed short sighted. Chevy was way ahead of its time and had they continued every car that says Lucas or Bosch Fuel injection now, may have said Rochester. As of this writing GM does not make any carburated cars.

In 2004, Sports Car International named the Stingray number five on the list of Top Sports Cars of the 1960s.

The design of this generation had several inspirations. The first was the contemporary Jaguar E-Type, of which Mitchell owned one and enjoyed driving it frequently. Bill Mitchell also sponsored a car known as the "Mitchell Sting Ray" in 1959, because Chevrolet no longer participated in factory racing. This vehicle had the largest impact on the styling of this generation, although it had no top and didn't give away what the coupe would look like. The third inspiration was a mako shark that Mitchell caught while deep-sea fishing.

Jeep CJ-2A

Jeep CJ-2A, 1945

The first civilian Jeep vehicle, the CJ-2A, was produced in 1945. Willys advertisements marketed the Jeep as a work vehicle for farmers and construction workers. It came with a tailgate, side-mounted spare tire, larger headlights, an external fuel cap and many more items that its military predecessors did not include.

The CJ-2A was produced for four years, and in 1948 the CJ-3A was introduced. It was very similar to the previous model but featured a one-piece windscreen, and retained the original L-head four-cylinder engine.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Mercedes Benz 320, 1937

Mercedes Benz 320, 1937

Mercedes Benz 320, 1937

Mercedes Benz 540 K Luxury Roadster

Mercedes Benz 540 K Luxury Roadster, 1937

Mercedes Benz 540 K Luxury Roadster, 1937

Mercedes Benz

Mercedes Benz, 1936

Mercedes Benz, 1936

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ford Thunderbird

Ford Thunderbird, 1957

The Ford Thunderbird is a car manufactured in the United States by the Ford Motor Company. It entered production for the 1955 model year as a two-seater sporty car; unlike the superficially similar (and slightly earlier) Chevrolet Corvette, the Thunderbird was never sold as a full-blown sports car. Ford described it as a personal luxury car, a description which named a new market segment. In 1958, the Thunderbird gained a second row of seats for greater practicality. Succeeding generations became larger and more luxurious, until the line was downsized in 1977 and again in 1980. Sales were good until the 1990s, when large 2-door coupes became unpopular; production ceased after 1997. In 2002, a revived 2-seat model was launched, was available through the end of the 2005 model year.

Three men are generally credited with creating the original Thunderbird: Lewis D. Crusoe, a retired GM executive lured out of retirement by Henry Ford II; George Walker, chief stylist and a Ford vice-president; and Frank Hershey, a Ford designer. Crusoe and Walker met in France in October 1951. Walking in the Grand Palais in Paris, Crusoe pointed at a sports car and asked Walker, 'Why can’t we have something like that?'

Walker promptly telephoned Ford's HQ in Dearborn and told designer Frank Hershey about the idea. Hershey took the idea and began working on the vehicle. The concept was for a two-passenger open car, with a target weight of 2525 lb (1145 kg), an Interceptor V8 engine and a top speed of over 100 mph (160 km/h). Crusoe saw a painted clay model on May 18, 1953, which corresponded closely to the final car; he gave the car the go-ahead in September after comparing it with current European trends.

Unlike the Corvette, the Thunderbird was never a full-blown sporting vehicle; Ford's description was personal luxury car, and the company essentially created this market segment.

There was some difficulty in naming the car, with suggestions ranging from the exotic to the ridiculous (Hep Cat, Beaver, Detroiter, Runabout, Arcturus, Savile, El Tigre, and Coronado were submitted among the 5,000 suggestions). One serious suggestion was Whizzer. Crusoe offered a $250 suit to anyone who could come up with a better name.
Stylist Alden "Gib" Giberson submitted Thunderbird as part of a list. Giberson never claimed his prize, settling for a $95 suit and an extra pair of trousers from Saks Fifth Avenue.

According to Palm Springs Life magazine, the car's final name came not from the Native American symbol as one might expect, but from an ultra-exclusive housing tract in what would later be incorporated as Rancho Mirage, California: Thunderbird Heights.

1955-1957 "Classic Birds" or "Little Birds"
The car was shown at the first postwar Detroit Auto Show on February 20, 1954. The first production car came off the line on September 9, 1954. It went on sale on October 22, 1954) as a 1955 model, and sold briskly; 3,500 orders were placed in the first ten days of sale. Ford had only projected building 10,000; eventual 1955 sales were 16,155.

The 1955 Thunderbird included a removable fiberglass top; a fabric convertible top was an option, although commonly specified. The only engine option was a 292 Y-block V8. The exhausts exited through twin "bullets" above the rear bumper, as was the fashion.

For the 1956 model, Ford made some changes. To give more trunk space, the spare wheel was mounted outside, Continental-style; the exhausts were moved to the ends of the bumper. Air vents were added behind the front wheels to improve cabin ventilation. To improve rear-quarter visibility with the removable hardtop in place, "porthole" windows were made available as a no-cost option. An optional 312 Y-block V8 was made available for those that wanted more performance.

1956 sales were 15,631, the lowest of all three 2-seater Thunderbird model years.
For 1957, a more radical restyle was performed. The front bumper was reshaped, with heavier sides, "bullets" at the ends of the grille, and the section below the grille dropping down. The grille was larger. The tailfins were made larger, more pointed, and canted outward; larger round tail-lights were fitted. The spare wheel moved inside the trunk again, which had been redesigned to allow it to be mounted vertically and take up less space. The side "Thunderbird" script moved from the fins to the front fenders. The styling was so influential, the later British Anglia bore an uncanny resemblance to it. The Corsair was heavily influenced by the later "Bullet bird" of 1961-63.

Engine options increased, because Ford went racing with the Thunderbird that year. As well as the standard 292 and 312 engines, versions of the 312 were produced in higher states of tune, and even a few McCulloch supercharged versions, rated at 300 and 340 hp respectively.

1957 sales were 21,380, including three extra months of production because the 1958 models were late.
The 1957 Thunderbird would be the last two-seater Ford ever built and sold to the public until the 1982 Ford EXP.

Jaguar E-Type

Jaguar E-Type, 1971

Jaguar E-Type was produced from 1961 to 1974, during that time over 70,000 units were sold. It is widely regarded one of the most beautiful car designs of all time.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Audi 100

Audi 100, 1969

The Audi 100 was shown to the press on November 26, 1968. Originally denoting a power output of 100 PS, the Audi 100 was the range's largest car after the Audi brand was revived by Volkswagen in the 1960s. The C1 platform spawned several variants: the Audi 100 two- and four-door sedans, and the Audi 100 Coupé S, a stylish fastback coupé.

The C1 was sold in the US, where it distinguished itself with remarkably poor build quality.

Audi Union Type C

Audi Union Type C, 1936

Audi Union Type C, 1936

Audi Imperator

Audi Imperator, 1929

Audi Imperator, 1929

Monday, April 12, 2010

Subaru 1000

Subaru 1000, 1965

The Subaru 1000 was the first front wheel drive Subaru produced by Fuji Heavy Industries starting in 1966. It is sometimes claimed to be Japan's first mass produced front wheel drive car, although Suzuki had been producing front wheel drive cars in small quantities since 1955. All previous Subaru models such as the Subaru 360, Sambar, and 450 had been rear engined, rear wheel drive cars.

These cars featured a unique water-cooled, horizontally opposed four cylinder engine, with overhead valves operated by pushrods. It is thought that the engine was inspired by those used in the German Hansa-Goliath cars that had gone out of production a few years ealier, but it is not certain whether or not Subaru engineers actually used the design as a reference. Modern Subarus still make use of horizontally opposed four cylinder engines, albeit of a much greater capacity and with more modern overhead cam driven valves.

As was typical of early front wheel drive cars, the 1000 featured inboard drum brakes up front (but atypically Subaru would retain this unusual design into the seventies). Other unique features of the 1000 were a lack of a heater core, the heating system took its warmth directly from the radiator, and a hybrid suspension system that used torsion bars in combination with coil springs (much like the front suspension of the Subaru 360). The 1000 was superseded by the 1100 (also known as the Star in the United States and in other export markets) at the start of the seventies.

Subaru 360

Subaru 360, 1958

The Subaru 360 was the first automobile mass produced by Fuji Heavy Industries' Subaru division. The 360 was produced from 1958 to 1971.

The 360 featured an air-cooled, 2-stroke 356 cc engine mounted transversely at the rear. The engine was designed with a capacity of less than 360 cc so that the Subaru 360 would qualify for Japan's keicar class. The body was of monocoque construction and featured a fiberglass roof panel, which was considered very advanced in 1958.

When introduced in 1958, the 360's engine turned out 16 hp and Subaru claimed 66 mpg fuel economy; by the end of production, power had increased to 25 hp with a 36 hp twin-carbureted engine as an option.

Several variants were produced, including a station wagon (called the Custom), a convertible, and two sport models known as the Young S, which had a slightly upgraded engine, bucket seats and a tachometer along with a black, white striped roof with a dent along the middle to put one's surfboard. The Young SS, which had dual carburetors and chrome bores, produced 36 hp (27 kW). From 1961 onwards, a truck and van called the Sambar were also produced using the 360's engine. Many small businesses became very successful thanks to the pickup's small size for tight streets, quickness, ease to drive and great fuel economy.

The 360 was imported to the United States by Malcolm Bricklin, but the Subaru 360 received notoriety in 1969, when Consumer Reports magazine branded the automobile "Not Acceptable" (because of safety concerns and lack of power), and sales collapsed. There were various rumors of Subaru 360s being tossed overboard or being shredded to pieces. It was also reported that many 360s sat on dealers' lots for two or three years without ever being purchased.

The Subaru 360 was replaced by the less popular but more advanced R-2 which was quickly superseded by the long-lived Subaru Rex model.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Dodge Charger

Dodge Charger, 1966

There have been a number of vehicles bearing the Charger nameplate, but the name has generally denoted a performance model in the Dodge range. The 1966 to 1974 Chargers were the high performance B-body models.

Carl "CAM'" Cameron would be the exterior designer of Dodge's new flagship vehicle, and on January 1, 1966, viewers of the Rose Bowl were first introduced to the new "Leader of the Dodge Rebellion", the 1966 Charger. The Charger's introduction coincided with the introduction of the new street version of the 426 Hemi. Finally, Dodge would have the performance image to go along with this performance engine.

As the 1966 Charger's features would go, the "electric shaver" grille used fully rotating headlights that when opened or closed made the grille look like one-piece. Inside, the Charger used four individual bucket seats with a full length console from front to rear. The rear seats and console pad also folded forward, and the trunk divider dropped back, which allowed for lots of cargo room inside. Many other things were exclusive to the Charger such as the door panels, courtesy lights and the instrument panel.

The instrument panel was especially interesting as regular bulbs weren't used to light the gauges. Instead four electroluminescent dash pods housed the tachometer, speedometer, alternator, fuel and tempature gauges. In the rear the full length taillight read CHARGER.

The engine selection was all V8s. A six cylinder engine didn't make the option list until 1968. In 1966 four engines were offered; the base-model 318 in³ 2-barrel V8, the truck-sourced 361 in³ 2-barrel, the 383 4-barrel, and the new 426 Street Hemi. The majority of 1966 Chargers were ordered with the 325-hp 383.

Total production in 1966 came to 37,344 units, which was successful for the mid-year introduction.

In 1966 Dodge took the Charger into NASCAR in hopes that the fastback would make their car a winner on the high-banks. But the car proved to have rear end lift around corners which made it very slippery on the faster tracks. The lift was because the air actually travelled faster over the top of the car than under it, causing the car to act like a giant airplane wing. Drivers would later claim that "it was like driving on ice." In order to solve this problem Dodge installed in a small lip spoiler on the trunk lid which improved traction at speeds above 150 mph. They also had to make it a dealer-installed option in late 1966 and through 1967 because of NASCAR rules (with small quarter panel extensions in 1967). The 1966 Charger was the first US production vehicle to have a spoiler. David Pearson, driving a #6 Cotten Owens-prepared Charger, went on to win the NASCAR Grand National championship in 1966 with 14 first-place finishes.

Dodge Coronet Police Vehicle

Dodge Coronet Police Vehicle, 1959

Dodge Coronet Police Vehicle, 1959

The Coronet was a full-size car from Dodge from the 1950s. Positioned above the Coronet, but sharing the same chassis, were the Dodge Royal and Dodge Custom Royal. By the 1960s, the name was transferred to Dodge's mid-size entry. In the early fifties, the Meadowbrook was the four door version of the Coronet.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

BMW 328 Touring Coupe

BMW 328 Touring Coupe, 1939

The BMW 328 was a sports car made by BMW between 1936 and 1940.

Designed by Fritz Fiedler. It featured many advanced features for its time such as a tubular space frame and a hemispherical combustion chamber engine. It was much praised at the time for its performance and handling. The car won many races including the prestigious Mille Miglia — a class win in 1938 and the outright winner (with a streamlined body) in 1940. It also won the RAC Rally in 1939 and came in fifth overall (first in its class) in the 1939 Le Mans 24 hours.

After WW2, one of the Mille Miglia 328s (disguised as a Frazer Nash) and BMW's technical plans for the car were taken from the bombed BMW factory by English representatives from the Bristol Aeroplane Company and Frazer Nash companies. Fiedler, the BMW engineer, was persuaded to come too. Bristol Cars was set up to build complete cars, called Bristols, and would also supply engines to Frazer Nash for all their post-war cars. The first Bristol car, the 400, was heavily based on the BMW plans. This Bristol engine was also a common option in AC cars, before the Cobra.

The engine has hemispherical or cross flow combustion chambers. The intake valves are opened by the usual overhead valve push rod arrangement of a side cam, push rods and rocker arms. The exhaust valves, on the other side of the cylinder head, are opened by the same cam shaft, vertical push rods, rocker arms, horizontal push rods and a second set of rocker arms.

It's widely acknowledged that the BMW 328 was a strong influence on the Jaguar XK120 of 1948.

BMW 327 Coupe

BMW 327 Coupe, 1937

BMW 327 Coupe, 1937