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The old Packard Plant in Detroit is one of the city's icons. All at once, it represents the vibrant history of the Motor City, its rocky past decades and the chance for something new to spring up. Despite the Packard buildings sitting empty for years, there's still life there. Among other things, it's a common spot for artists to practice their work, including Banksy several years ago. However, recent demolitions might bring a final end to the famous spot as we know it and threatens to make the site's only legal resident homeless, along with it.
According to The Detroit News, Allan Hill has been living in a warehouse on the Packard Plant campus for about the last eight years. He has become the site's caretaker of sorts by trying to prevent further destruction there and giving tours to visitors.
Now, the owner of the warehouse is putting the building up for sale, as part of increased development at the dilapidated factory. Read The Detroit News' report to learn more about Hill and the plant's future, and scroll down to watch a video about this fascinating man and his home.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Preston Tucker was one of the great iconoclasts of the post-war automotive industry, and his Tucker 48 attempted a look unlike any car seen before (or since). However, a trial brought by the US Securities and Exchange Commission sunk the company, despite it being found not guilty. Tucker never gave up on the auto business though and went to Brazil in the 1950s to restart things with an all-new sporty design. Now, some newly discovered photos might shed more light on that almost-forgotten model.
Dubbed the Tucker Carioca (possibly pictured above), the car was designed by Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky and featured a semi-open wheel design with cycle fenders to cover them. A headlight was mounted on the front wheels, plus one in the center, like the 48, and the rear tapered to a boat-tail point. The concept was featured on the cover of Car Life magazine in 1955, but much more information about the Carioca has been scarce for years. It's hard to call the vehicle beautiful, but you can't really look away, either.
The recently discovered photos might be giving us a whole new look at the Carioca's design process showing sketches from multiple angles. However, it isn't clear whether these depict the actual car. With no dates or signatures, it's difficult to establish a link to the past, and some claim they're really from designer Raymond Loewy for a possible Studebaker concept.
Head over to the blog Gyronaut X1 where the writer digs into the back story and tries to unravel the strands whether these new images are new views of the Carioca. It's some fantastic automotive archeology and well worth the read.Permalink | Email this | Comments
The evolution of automotive marketing has undergone a number of strange phases. Few, though, match the strangeness of the 1930s to 1950s, when automotive marketers turned to cookbooks as a means of promoting their vehicles. Yes, cookbooks. We can't make this stuff up, folks.
This bizarre trend led to General Motors distributing cookbooks under the guise of its then-subsidiary Frigidaire. Ford, meanwhile, offered a compilation of recipes from Ford Credit Employees (shown above). The cookbook-craze wasn't limited to domestic manufacturers, though. As The Detroit News discovered, both Rolls-Royce and Volkswagen got in on the trend, although not until the 1970s.
The News has the full story on this strange bit of marketing. Head over and take a look.Permalink | Email this | Comments
July 28 marked the hundredth anniversary of the start of World War I, what was at the time the single most devastating war in human history. It was also a war of many firsts - chemical weapons, tanks and most notably, aircraft, took part in what was at the time called the Great War.
These planes remain something of a rarity today, partially due to the popularity of aircraft from the Second World War. In Rhinebeck, NY, however, those interested in the earliest era of air combat can witness Curtiss JN-4H and a Spad VII, representing the US and France, duke it out in the wild blue yonder with Fokkers of the German Luftwaffe's predecessor, the Luftstreitkräfte (don't worry, the fighters being flown are actually reproductions, rather than the real McCoy).
Stars and Stripes has a great read on the flight demos, which are held every Sunday at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, nearly 100 miles north of Manhattan. It's a good piece on an era of war that doesn't get nearly enough attention.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Today, the Tatra brand is best known for its heavy-duty trucks that carry goods all over Europe, but their legacy as a carmaker is a bit less celebrated, especially in the US. That's a shame, because the Czech company's legacy includes some of the oddest passenger vehicles to ever hit the roads. Case in point: the Tatra 603. With four lights in its round grille, the sedan has a face only a mother could love, but things get truly odd in the rear where you find an air-cooled, V8 engine.
Coincidentally, the Tatra is getting a special class dedicated to it at this year's Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. Auto journalist Roman Mica and the rest of the team from The Fast Lane Car decided on a wickedly cool project to coincide with the event. They bought a 1968 Tatra 603 in Liberec, Czech Republic, with the goal of driving it across a continent and a half, all the way to Pebble Beach. The undertaking has a personal touch too because Mica was actually born in the former Czechoslovakia and fled the country as a child in 1968 after the communists invaded.
The site is documenting the whole endeavor, which it calls Prague to Pebble or Bust, on video and is posting them online. If you're a fan of quirky old cars or what it takes to live with them, you really need to check this series out. You can check out the project page here to see all of the videos so far. Scroll down to watch the episodes where the team picks up the car in Europe, its arrival in the US and a brief mechanical look.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Is the answer always Mazda Miata? We discussed this in passing on the Autoblog Podcast earlier this week, and most assuredly the answer is "no." For example, the little MX-5 would be a terrible people carrier, and it'd be useless off road. You can't really tow anything of substance with it, either. Still, if push came to shove, it's satisfying to know that the diminutive roadster could eke out a career as a chase vehicle for the police.
That fact was proven when Road & Track editor Chris Cantle did something that he himself recognizes as "stupid." Upon returning home, Cantle discovered a "twenty-something" actively burgling his home. The resulting story is easily one of the more entertaining episodes to come out of the 1990 MX-5's service to the team at R&T and, we're guessing, will be one of the highlights of the Million-Mile Miata challenge.
Be sure to head over to Road & Track for a full retelling of the chase from Cantle, as well as a follow-up on the saga.Permalink | Email this | Comments