Buick has teased the 2017 LaCrosse’s grille, pictured above. If it looks familiar, that’s because it was lifted from the Buick Avenir concept shown at the Detroit auto show early this year, pictured below. The Avenir is a four door so theoretically the rest of the car besides the grille could become the basis of the next LaCrosse sedan. GM could make worse decisions than that, since the Avenir was a big hit and widely praised. GM, though, lately has had a habit of introducing attractive concepts that are just that, concepts, like Cadillac’s Ciel and Elmiraj. I guess we’ll see sometime next year how much the Avenir, which means “future” in French, represents the look going forward of Buick’s production sedan with a French nameplate.
Editor’s note: Rolls-Royce has introduced a convertible version of the Wraith coupe called the Dawn. No pricing has been announced but since Rolls-Royce has explained that a fabric roof is a signifier of luxury, one can expect to pay more for the Dawn than the Wraith’s $308,000. To justify that extra tariff, R-R is careful to tell prospective buyers of their entry level softtop that 80% of the body is new, distinguishing it from the hardtop. No mention was made of how much is shared with the BMW 7 Series, whose platform underlies the Wraith, Dawn, and Ghost sedan.
I was fooling around with some wordplay concerning the new Roller’s name and my first try was “Rolls-Royce has unhooded its new Dawn convertible.” For those who don’t know, what we colonials in America call a car’s roof, our Brit cousins call a “hood”, hence a convertible is also known as a “drophood”. Oh my, I just had to explain a pun. Bad form.
The next iteration was “Morning has broken over Rolls-Royce’s new Dawn convertible,” followed by “Royce-Royce’s new Dawn convertible has finally seen its first first light.”
Somewhat amused by myself, I sent them off to Jack Baruth and said “your turn,” and this is what the sensei tossed off in just a few minutes. I was just going for some puns. Jack came up with a car review and social commentary all in three stanzas. The choice of Gordon Lightfoot’s upbeat (but below that dark) Minstrel of the Dawn, was perfect.
With apologies to Gordon Lightfoot:
The minstrel of the Dawn is here
To bring the one percenters cheer
It’s very different from a Wraith
If you’ll believe and have some faith
Listen to the canvas top
Above your head it slithers and it drops
Listen to the springs
They jangle and dangle like the register rings
The minstrel of the Dawn is gone
I hope you’ll follow ‘fore too long
A douche-mobile for newly rich
A Russian and a Russian bitch
Sing you a song
The minstrel, of the Dawn
I think I know how Miguel Cabrera’s teammates feel when he’s at bat. Of course, Cabrera only succeeds 35% of the time. Jack does way better than that, but he did miss an opportunity. In his defense, he was working off Lightfood’s lyrics from memory. GL sings:
A minstrel of the dawn is near
Just like a step ‘n fetchit here
He’s like an old time troubador
Just wanting life and nothing more
Look into his shining eyes
And if you see a ghost don’t be surprised
Actor Dean Jones passed away this week at the age of 84. He was best known to car and movie enthusiasts alike as Jim Douglas, the racer who drove Herbie, the VW Beetle, in The Love Bug, and subsequent sequels on the big and little screen.
To celebrate the life and career of Mr. Jones, we’re featuring some replica Herbies we spotted at the Vintage Volkswagen Show in Ypsilanti. You can also watch a complete version of The Love Bug in the embedded video.
You can usually tell that a SUV is used for serious off-roading (or serious poseuring) if it has a snorkel for the engine’s air intake. Such devices keep the motor from getting water-locked when fording streams. This Land Rover Defender 110, spotted at the Ford Product Development Center Employees’ Car Show, has a snorkel so tall that one might think the driver would need SCUBA gear before the engine would start sucking in H2O.
Jeff Lane of the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville had a nice collection of automotive examples of streamlining in the 1930s. It wasn’t complete, however, without one of Bucky Fuller’s Dymaxion cars. Since Fuller only made three, of which two were destroyed and the remaining one not likely to be for sale any time soon, Lane had fabricators in the Czech Republic make him an accurate replica of Fuller’s first prototype Dymaxion car. It took eight years to complete the project and the results are impressive. What’s not impressive is how the Dymaxion car drives. “Terrifying” is how Autoweek described it.
I don’t know if the owner of this Corvair Rampside pickup actually uses it as a work truck for a lawn care business, or he just displays it this way at car shows to demonstrate how the Rampside would have been used as a commercial vehicle back in the 1960s. It doesn’t look over-restored and might even be an original condition survivor – the owner wasn’t around so I couldn’t ask. Either way, I really like the idea of showing a work truck as a work truck.
Though the stepped bed floor, necessary because of the Corvair’s rear-engine layout, made the Rampside not the most practical pickup truck, adding the ramp to give access to the lower section of the cargo area did give it appeal to businesses that might be loading and unloading things like lawn mowers and hand trucks.
Photographed at the 2014 Ford Product Development Center Employees’ Car Show.
Though the Detroit Historical Museum has a collection of about six dozen very historically significant cars with unmatched provenance, the museum’s building only has space to display a small number of cars at one time. For that reason, the Stout Scarab that the museum owns, one of nine made, has been on display at a museum in Maine for the past 12 years. It was donated to the museum by the family of Phillip Wrigley, the chewing gum maker and owner of the Chicago Cubs, as well as a board member of William Stout’s car company. A while back, to familiarize people with their collection, the museum set aside a display area for one car from their collection to be displayed, with the car being changed once a year. It’s the Scarab’s turn, starting this weekend, but we got a sneak preview.
It seems so logical. Public roads are divided into at least two lanes. In the U.S. we drive on the right hand side of the road. Therefore, it only makes sense that we would sit on the left side of the vehicle since that puts the driver closest to the centerline.
In fact, it seems logical because that’s the way we’ve been driving in this country for over a hundred years. It didn’t start out that way and it might have turned out differently were it not for this automobile engine.
Before the legendary 911 there was the 356, the first car made by the Porsche car company in 1948. Designed by Dr. Porsche’s son Ferry from Volkswagen Type I components, the first 50 cars were hand made, followed by a planned production run of 500 cars, which ended up being more than 5,000 cars by 1954. Iteratively upgraded as the 356A, 356B, and 356C, it was the mainstay of the Porsche lineup until the 911/912 was introduced in 1963.
This is the car that established BMW as both an enthusiast brand and as a credible international auto manufacturer. This is the vehicle from which Bob Lutz, who worked at BMW from 1971 to 1974, crafted the “Ultimate Driving Machine” marketing campaign, which still resonates more than 40 years later. It was the success of the “New Class” cars, the 1500/1600/2000 models, that allowed BMW to survive financially and start branching out into luxury models like the first 5 series cars in the early ’70s.