Dean Jones, R.I.P.

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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.

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For When You Have to Ford a Very Deep Creek – 1984 Land Rover Defender 110 – 3D Photos

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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.

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Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion Car – 3D Photos

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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.

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A Corvair Rampside “Work” Truck – 3D Photos

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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.

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Detroit Historical Museum’s Stout Scarab Comes Home – 3D Photos

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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.

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Is This Engine The Reason You Drive From the Left Side of Your Car?

Ford Model T engine

Model T 4-cylinder engine

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.

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1963 Porsche 356 B 1600 Coupe by Reutter – 3D Photos

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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.

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From This Car Mighty BMW Grew: 1972 BMW 2002 – 3D Photos

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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.

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1928 Stutz BB4 Dual Cowl Four Door Touring Car – 3D Photos

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From the faux Egyptian hood ornament to it’s bright red wire wheels, this car just screams “Roaring 20s”. I’m not sure exactly what the difference is between an open touring car and a phaeton. Perhaps Stutz didn’t like the term phaeton. In any case, Harry Stutz’s company got its start building race cars and selling slightly civilized versions of them to wealthy folks. The Stutz Bearcat had one of the first multivalve engines, with four valves per cylinder, and it introduced the underslung chassis, allowing for a lower center of gravity and better handling. When the “cylinder war” of the early 1930s began, Stutz didn’t have the resources of companies like Packard, Cadillac, and Marmon that were developing V12 and even V16 engines, they responded by hiring Fred Duesenberg to design a DOHC inline eight with 32 valves, and ended up selling more cars with that engine than their competitors did with their twelves and sixteens.

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1930 Pierce Arrow Model B Sport Phaeton – 3D Photos

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You’ve got to give Pierce Arrow some credit. Selling cars to the most traditional part of the market, high end luxury, Pierce bucked tradition with their so-called Dawley headlights. Designed by Herbert Dawley, their chief designer, the headlight housings were faired into the fenders. His patent claimed that their wider spacing than used by conventional inboard headlamps provide better illumination of the road. They also gave Pierce Arrows a distinctive look in an era when cars really looked alike, save for their radiator shell/grille shapes. The frog-eyed look does stand out. To accommodate their more traditional customers, Pierce did offer conventional headlights as an option, though based on the Pierce Arrows I’ve seen at car shows and in museums a majority were ordered with the Dawleys.

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