The introduction of the MGC is a tribute to how royally confused British Motor Holdings had become by the mid-’60s. The Austin-Healey, introduced in 1952, was getting long in the tooth by 1964, even with its new convertible top and roll-up side windows. Marketing managers also recognized that there was a slot in the market for a car that would be faster than the MGB, but with the same comforts. In typical fashion, the company ended up with the Read More
Renzo Rivolta made a considerable fortune following World War II. He also loved cars. In the early ’60s, he became a victim of the popular musing that begins with, “Let’s marry a sophisticated European chassis and coachwork with a cheap, reliable, and powerful American V8.”
Giotto Bizzarini, father of the 250 SWB and the immortal 250 GTO, left Ferrari at the end of 1961 following a major clash of egos. Giotto met Renzo, and the Iso Rivolta was born. Read More
Born out of desperation and existing in chaos, it is surprising that the Jensen-Healey and Jensen GT came into being at all. That today, thirty years later, they can be inexpensive and thoroughly enjoyable cars to own and drive is nothing short of amazing. And yet they are. If the original Lotus engine is in good shape, the body sound, and the suspension has benefited from a few judicious tweaks, the Jensen-Healey roadster is reliable and comfortable for long-distance Read More
In the mid-’70s, emissions regulations caused engineers at General Motors and elsewhere to spin their wheels (without horsepower) trying to make old-technology engines burn clean. They did it by robbing vast amounts of performance. To keep selling cars, they had to offer something new to the public. It wasn’t ponies, it was styling.
1978 was the 25th anniversary of the Corvette, and all 1978 Corvettes received 25th anniversary badges. The car had a new “fastback” rear window that provided Read More
The Alfa Romeo GTV-6 was produced at a time when Alfa Romeo was hemorrhaging money. Yet, the engineers at Alfa managed to create one of the most sophisticated sports cars of its era. An all-alloy SOHC V6 engine driving a rear five-speed transaxle with deDion suspension is world-class engineering. This was also the last two-door sports coupe Alfa imported into the US before its retreat from the market in 1995.
Alfa wanted its new car to be bug-free, so Read More
Should the Harvard Business School need yet another case study in how a great idea can go counter-clockwise down a toilet if not executed properly, please have them refer to the launch/introduction/sale of the 1991 Lotus Elan Turbo SE in the US.
Introduced during the same twelve-month period as the Miata, Geo Metro convertible and Capri droptop, the Elan was simply ignored by the American public. It was just another small sports car (with the Isuzu name staring Read More
Coupe, Targa and Cabriolet
While the automotive world suffered through the 1973-1977 era of dramatically tightened emission-control laws, Porsche was busy building, piece by piece, the better mousetrap that would become the 911SC. Starting with the dramatically simplified CIS fuel injection of the ’73½ 911T, the SC included the flared body of the 1974 Carrera, the engine block from the 3.0-liter Turbo in 1975, the galvanized sheet metal developed in the 1976 Read More
Wilson Pickett caught the mood of the nation when, in his blues song, Mustang Sally, he sang “I bought you a brand new Mustang ’bout nineteen sixty-five.” Sally’s was only one of the 680,000 Mustangs that were sold in 1964-65 as the car that Lee Iococca and his committee of eight designed wildly exceeded sales projections.
The Mustang was introduced in March of 1964 and those built up to August of that year are often referred to as “’64½s” Read More
Want to make people smile? Just drive a Bugeye Sprite into any old-car gathering and its insouciant expression will have everyone grinning back. For eyes, it has headlamps that look as if they were pasted on as an afterthought, for a nose, a little round emblem, Ad to this the open-mouthed grin of the grilleand it becomes impossible to look at this car and keep a straight face. Take it out on a quiet, curving two-lane road and it Read More
There are collectibles that play to the crowd, leaving us all in awe of their technical and artistic mastery-and the amount of money invested in them. Other collectibles, more affordable, strike purely personal chords: a first car; the car I was married in; or the one I’ve wanted forever.
Generally Alfa 2600 coupes and Spiders, as reasonably-priced classics, fall into the second category, along with Austin limousines and Lloyds. On the other hand, think of the other all-alloy twin-cam Read More