The 1960 Chevrolet Bel Air was a no frills model which cost a mere $2500.
My dad bought one of the above Chevrolets brand new in 1960. He eventually passed it along to me and it was still running in 1971 with 150,000 and I got something like $500 for it when I sold it upon returning to Yale.
In the pre-WWII period, you could go to Morris Garages (MG) in Oxford, England and have a custom automobile, your choice of engine, your choice of body run up for you.
Eric Peters explains how it came about that today’s automobiles cost more than working men’s houses did when I was a boy, and why buyers’ choices shrink every year. Our most recent BMW came lacking any sort of spare tire whatsoever. Someone in the federal bureaucracy decided that you could always just phone for roadside assistance when you got a flat and thought that eliminating the spare tire would reduce automobile’s rolling weight and save energy. “So let it be written, so let it be done.” Auto companies, like BMW, happily clicked their heels, fell into line, and stopped providing spare tires.
In this economy, can anyone seriously doubt that there is a market for simple, reliable – and inexpensive – transportation?
In any case, why not let the market operate? Why not allow (god, how I hate that term) Tata or Cherry (or whomever) to offer their basic, low-cost cars for sale here – and see whether people are interested?
You and I know why this will not be allowed, of course. Precisely because people would buy such cars – and that would impose pressure on the industry at large to simplify their offerings, too – and reduce the cost.
Can’t have that.
It is critical to keep people perpetually in debt. Why allow them to buy a new $6,000 car outright – or pay it off in two or three years (as was common once – and within living memory of any person older than 40) when you can effectively force them to buy a $30,000 car (the average price paid for a new vehicle as of last year) and sign them up for 5 or 6 years of payments? And force them to spend $1,000 annually to insure it, too?
That’s the truth of the thing.
It’s not about “safety” – or any other such altruistic palaver.broke picture
It is about power – control.
And, of course, money.
I’ve written about air bags before. Classic example, so worth repeating. They were first put on the market – in the early-mid 1970s by both GM and Chrysler – as optional equipment that people could buy. Or not.
Most people chose not to buy.
Not because they were cavalier risk junkies – as people such as myself are often characterized by the Air Bag Nazis. But simply because the cost of the air bags was prohibitive. They added as much to the bottom line price of a car (this is back in the ’70s) as air conditioning did – and AC was just about the most expensive option you could buy in those days.
So, they failed in the marketplace. Which is why the car companies worked with the government to see them made mandatory. Now you cannot say no to air bags. And to many other “features” you may not want in a car. These features are not necessarily bad. The question is – or ought to be: Can you afford them? Many people cannot. Hence the now-common six-year payment plan. Soon – count on it – to be expanded to seven years.
Then eight. ...
The problem is most people are not outraged about this. They don’t seem to mind being told what they’ll buy – nor how much they’ll pay for it. They’d probably be annoyed if their next door neighbor marched over one day and told them they had to drive this type of car – and weren’t going to be allowed to drive that type of car. Their first reaction would be open-mouthed bewilderment. Their second reaction would be: Who the hell do you think you are? And then: Get the hell off my property – and mind your own business.
And yet, most people will accept the same damn thing when it’s done at once or twice remove, by “regulation” and in a city, far, far away.
The LA Times reports on an unlikely alliance between statist tax grabbers and some libertarians(!) to arrange for Big Brother to accompany you every mile you drive.
As America’s road planners struggle to find the cash to mend a crumbling highway system, many are beginning to see a solution in a little black box that fits neatly by the dashboard of your car.
The devices, which track every mile a motorist drives and transmit that information to bureaucrats, are at the center of a controversial attempt in Washington and state planning offices to overhaul the outdated system for funding America’s major roads.
The usually dull arena of highway planning has suddenly spawned intense debate and colorful alliances. Libertarians have joined environmental groups in lobbying to allow government to use the little boxes to keep track of the miles you drive, and possibly where you drive them — then use the information to draw up a tax bill.
The tea party is aghast. The American Civil Liberties Union is deeply concerned, too, raising a variety of privacy issues.
And while Congress can’t agree on whether to proceed, several states are not waiting. They are exploring how, over the next decade, they can move to a system in which drivers pay per mile of road they roll over. Thousands of motorists have already taken the black boxes, some of which have GPS monitoring, for a test drive.
“This really is a must for our nation. It is not a matter of something we might choose to do,” said Hasan Ikhrata, executive director of the Southern California Assn. of Governments, which is planning for the state to start tracking miles driven by every California motorist by 2025. “There is going to be a change in how we pay these taxes. The technology is there to do it.”
The push comes as the country’s Highway Trust Fund, financed with taxes Americans pay at the gas pump, is broke. Americans don’t buy as much gas as they used to. Cars get many more miles to the gallon. The federal tax itself, 18.4 cents per gallon, hasn’t gone up in 20 years. Politicians are loath to raise the tax even one penny when gas prices are high.
“The gas tax is just not sustainable,” said Lee Munnich, a transportation policy expert at the University of Minnesota. His state recently put tracking devices on 500 cars to test out a pay-by-mile system. “This works out as the most logical alternative over the long term,” he said.
Wonks call it a mileage-based user fee. It is no surprise that the idea appeals to urban liberals, as the taxes could be rigged to change driving patterns in ways that could help reduce congestion and greenhouse gases, for example. California planners are looking to the system as they devise strategies to meet the goals laid out in the state’s ambitious global warming laws. But Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Transportation Committee, has said he, too, sees it as the most viable long-term alternative. The free marketeers at the Reason Foundation are also fond of having drivers pay per mile.
“This is not just a tax going into a black hole,” said Adrian Moore, vice president of policy at Reason. “People are paying more directly into what they are getting.”
The movement is also bolstered by two former U.S. Transportation secretaries, who in a 2011 report urged Congress to move in the pay-per-mile direction.
The U.S. Senate approved a $90-million pilot project last year that would have involved about 10,000 cars. But the House leadership killed the proposal, acting on concerns of rural lawmakers representing constituents whose daily lives often involve logging lots of miles to get to work or into town.
Several states and cities are nonetheless moving ahead on their own. The most eager is Oregon, which is enlisting 5,000 drivers in the country’s biggest experiment. Those drivers will soon pay the mileage fees instead of gas taxes to the state. Nevada has already completed a pilot. New York City is looking into one. Illinois is trying it on a limited basis with trucks. And the I-95 Coalition, which includes 17 state transportation departments along the Eastern Seaboard (including Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida), is studying how they could go about implementing the change.
The concept is not a universal hit.
In Nevada, where about 50 volunteers’ cars were equipped with the devices not long ago, drivers were uneasy about the government being able to monitor their every move.
“Concerns about Big Brother and those sorts of things were a major problem,” said Alauddin Khan, who directs strategic and performance management at the Nevada Department of Transportation. “It was not something people wanted.”
As the trial got underway, the ACLU of Nevada warned on its website: “It would be fairly easy to turn these devices into full-fledged tracking devices…. There is no need to build an enormous, unwieldy technological infrastructure that will inevitably be expanded to keep records of individuals’ everyday comings and goings.”
1997 Jeep Cherokee (XJ)
4.0 L in-line 6
4WD AUTOMATIC Transmission
Crank Windows, no cruise, no tilt, no delay wiper, no nonsense POWER MIRRORS! Woo Hoo!
Here’s the deal, kids:
This is a Jeep Cherokee. This is not a luxury SUV, or a maintenance-free disposable import. It has solid front axles, wind noise, and character.
It’s a Jeep. It rides like a Jeep. It drives like a Jeep. All of these are GOOD things.
It is not new, it is not pristine, it is used. This will be apparent in the pictures.
If you do not own a toolbox, have never changed your own oil, and are scared of firearms: THIS VEHICLE IS NOT FOR YOU.
If you have been posting on facebook all about how excited you are for pumpkin latte season: THIS VEHICLE IS NOT FOR YOU.
If you get offended easy and often, whine to your co-workers, and bitch a lot: THIS VEHICLE IS NOT FOR YOU.
If you feel you are owed anything in the world & have a bullshit job where you fail to produce: THIS VEHICLE IS NOT FOR YOU.
If you own a bieber album, white oakleys, affliction t-shirts, or those candy-assed stitched-pocket jeans: THIS VEHICLE IS NOT FOR YOU.
If you consider the 2nd Amendment an anachronistic relic and have never owned a firearm: THIS VEHICLE IS NOT FOR YOU.
If, however, you have BALLS OF STEEL and consider adverse weather an excuse to do stupid shit: THIS IS YOUR JEEP.
Do you laugh at danger, and tempt fate?
Have you ever uttered the words, “Hold my beer and watch this …”?
While bored at work do you pick targets at random and think, “I could hit that from here with the .22 …”?
Have any of your friends quit hanging out because you were too much fun?
Do you have the number of a friend with cash memorized for bail?
When you pass an abandoned flatbed farm truck along a fenceline do you consider taking on another project?
Is your ol’ lady really sick of the random piles of parts, greasy footprints, and empty beer bottles in the garage?
-could you not care less?
Do you have Jalopnik saved on your laptop AND smartphone?
Do you own a service manual for every vehicle you ever owned?
Do you still miss your first ride?
Can you carry on a two hour conversation discussing tools, scars, and hi-lift jacks?
Remember when tool companies had the balls to put half-naked beauty queens on their calendars?
Do you consider the Prius an abominable affront to the Gods of displacement, torque, and All Mighty Internal Combustion?
If you answered in the affirmative to the preceding: THIS IS YOUR JEEP.
1929 Stutz Model M with coupe coachwork by Lancefield of London.
Old Car Reports’ Car of the Week is the A.K. Miller 1929 Stutz Model M Coupe.
The story of A.K. Miller is legendary, even outside of Stutz collecting. The Vermont collector was born in 1906 and developed a taste for fine cars — what would be considered Classic cars today — and began gathering them when they were used cars. Commensurate with his frugal ways, Miller stored his valuable collection in dirt-floor wood sheds and lean-to’s on the primitive East Orange, Vt., farm he shared with his wife, Imogene.
Although great Peerless, Cadillac and Rolls-Royce cars passed through Miller’s hands, it was Stutz he preferred. A 1917 Stutz was Miller’s first car, and he occasionally drove it until he died in 1993. The other cars in Miller’s 40-some-vehicle collection were often parked on makeshift “wood stump” jack stands and left to gather dust while surrounded by spare Stutz parts. Miller would sometimes trade these parts, but he drove a hard bargain to his financial benefit and the misfortune of his fellow trader. It was not until his wife died in 1996 that it became clear what exactly was hidden in the wilds of Vermont, and more than car collectors were interested.
The Millers had essentially lived as recluses on their simple homestead. They had no children, and they had almost no paper trail. Their collection had been known to only a few outsiders, and the handful of people allowed to visit rarely caught a glimpse of more than a car or two. Only visitors from foreign lands were typically offered more than a peek, supposedly because Miller could be assured they were not from the IRS. Indeed, Miller had lived so far off the grid he was able to avoid paying state and federal taxes. He and his wife were also hiding more than cars and income — they had buried or otherwise hid millions of dollars in gold bullion and silver ingots around their property.
After Imogene’s passing, the Millers’ fortune captured the attention of car and tax collectors, and an auction was held by Christie’s, after which the IRS was to receive its due. Police scouted the property leading up to the auction to stop the shovels and metal detectors of treasure hunters, and the curious eyes and hands of car enthusiasts. When the auction was held Sept 7-9, 1996, about 35 “barn find” Stutz motor cars crossed the block, most fetching far more than their pre-sale estimates in front of a standing-room-only crowd.
One of the stand-outs in that sale was a special 1929 Stutz Model M with coupe coachwork by Lancefield of London. Lancefield often bodied Rolls-Royce and Bentley chassis, but it also held an association with Stutz of Indianapolis, Ind. The aluminum-sheathed Lancefield coupe body sat low on the Stutz chassis, thanks in part to a worm gear drive setup, but was made to look lower with Lancefield’s tear drop step plates and trademark low roof, cycle-type front and rear fenders and dozens of louvers that ran the length of the apron that masked the frame sides. In deep black, the masterpiece was sinister.
“They only built five of these coupes,” said Richard Mitchell, the Lancefield-bodied Stutz coupe’s present owner. “Two were sold to the Woolworth Brothers and this is one of the two. Of the two cars, only this one was supercharged. There is no record of the others; this is the lone ranger.”
Lambrecht Chevrolet in Pierce, Nebraska was owned and operated by Ray and Mildred Lambrecht for 50 years until they retired in 1996 at ages 78 and 75. Now 17 years later, they have finally decided to liquidate the dealership’s massive inventory of 500 vehicles, including a number of brand-new 1950s and 1960s Chevrolet cars and trucks.
Those London firemen must have stopped for a cup of tea before arriving to extinguish the fire.
They only made 764 Miuras between 1968 and 1972. This one was a P400SV, probably made after 1970.
British sports cars were notorious for a wilingness to rust, and for every kind of electrical problem. (Famous joke: “Why do the British drink warm beer? Because Lucas made the refrigerators.”) But members of the exclusive club rich enough to own an Italian exotic car could apparently get with it really exotic issues… like a propensity to catch fire at idle(!).
Lamborghini [Miura]’s use[d] Weber 40 IDL 3C1 carburetors which were designed exclusively for racing applications and weren’t suitable for road use. The problem occurred when the car sat idling (e.g. at a stoplight), the area above the throttles filled with fuel which often ignited when the car accelerated away from the stop.
———————————————————— Peter Orosz was allowed to examine and sit in one at a collectible car company, and he was moved to rhapsodize:
There is a menacing beauty to the Miura up close. The roofline is so low the car would be inadequate to cover the private parts of a man were he to approach it naked. The cute eyelashes of the ventilation ducts surrounding the headlights begin to look like alien claws. As you make your way into the snug cabin, the velocity trumpets of that great engine tower over your head, mere inches away. If not for the thin plate of glass between you and the six carburetors, a blip of the gas pedal would send loose strands of your hair down their throats, ready to combine with gasoline. And burn.
My girlfriend Natalie, described the driving position as “basically perfect”, quite a surprise when you consider the monkey-boy ergonomics of most Italian cars. The cabin is simple yet full of gorgeous detail, a combination of fine materials and charming reminders of low-volume handmade production.
But said perfection combines with much imperfection: The Miura has an annoying tendency to catch on fire at idle. The front end tends to lose traction at speed. And its spotty relationship with reliability is most likely a direct function of being an Italian car, built in a small factory almost half a century ago.
Still, being up close to one makes it more desirable to me than ever. No matter how many times I see a Miura—and I haven’t seen many, and this is the first one I’ve actually sat in—I am always in awe of its impeccable proportions, its wonderful punk history, and its sheer sense of speed and style. Inside, you dream of gently twisting motorways with no speed limits, and no traffic. Of mountain roads and plains and electric blue lakes. Of tunnels to amplify the shriek of that V12. Driving a Miura is one of life’s great petrolhead fantasies. But to enjoy it, you don’t even have to drive. Just climb inside, close your eyes, and dream your merry automotive dreams.
Ettore Bugatti made only six examples of his stupendously large and luxurious type 41 Royale. He originally intended to produce 25 examples for the use of European royalty and Indian maharajahs, but during the first Great Depression even royalty were a bit hard up.
Type 41s are among the rarest of collectible automobiles and there are none currently for sale but, if you actually still have money these days, you have a chance next month at a great Royale memento: a type 41 elephant radiator cap mascot is being sold by L’art et l’automobile auction on December 12th. Bidding starts at $75,000. Take it home and mount it on the bonnet of your Range Rover and you’ll really make an impression. Also, the perfect gift for the rabid Republican.
It was Ettore Bugatti’s most exclusive creation, the Type 41 Royale. From the onset, only 25 examples were ever planned and in the end, only six were ever produced. Using a huge 12.7-Liter, inline eight-cylinder engine rated at 300 hp, everything about the Royale was massive. Each car had a 169.3-inch wheelbase, 24-inch wheels, a weight of more than 7,000 lbs and a price tag that was just as colossal at around $25,000 U.S. dollars in 1929. On top of the base chassis price, each car had a custom-ordered body ranging in price from $5,000 to $18,000 in pre-depression 1929 dollars.
To finish off this grand automobile, the radiator mascot had to be something just as special and just as big. For the crowning touch, Ettore Bugatti turned to the work of his beloved younger brother Rembrandt, a noted and talented artist. The younger Bugatti brother made animals the subject of his art. He was a patron of the city zoo in Antwerp, Belgium, and used many of the animals there as the basis for his works. Sadly, during World War I, many of these exotic creatures had to be killed due to the inability to properly care for the animals in the zoo during the war. The story goes that Rembrandt was so distraught with these actions, he traveled to Paris and committed suicide in 1916.
Ettore Bugatti felt that one of his brother’s most exquisite works was the mighty elephant rising up on its rear legs with his trunk high in the air. This, he felt, would be the finishing touch for his most exclusive automobile, the Type 41 Royale.
Using an original bronze casting from Rembrandt, a very limited run of these mascots were produced. Each was cast in sterling silver by the Charkles Valsuani Foundry in Paris using the “Cire Perdue” (lost wax) method.
Autoblog has one of those stories of government fiscal irresponsibility which will boggle your mind.
Have you ever bought a brand new cars only to forget where you put it? How about 300 of them? Probably not – unless you’re Miami-Dade County, which was recently reunited with 298 vehicles it bought brand new between 2006 and 2007.
The county “discovered” this fleet of no-mileage vehicles after reading about them in a Spanish-language newspaper there (see the source for more images). Most of the misplaced motorcade is made up of Toyota Prius hybrids whose warranties either expired with very few miles on the odo or will very soon.
Looking to save some face, the county has rushed at least 123 of the hybrids into service. The Toyota warranty covered the hybrid bits for eight years or 100,000 miles, but we’re not sure if that covers cars parked for five of those eight. We’re also not sure what that much time in Miami heat and humidity does to an unused hybrid powertrain, but it can’t be good.
Jack Baruth describes how it’s not only the modern population that has become demasculinized. The same thing has happened to great automotive brands, and with the arrival of the Urus, it has happened to Lamborghini, alas!
Sports cars and supercars — yes, we are finally getting to cars — used to be real ass-kickers themselves, you know. Think of a Miura blowing down the autostrada at 170mph when the average Italian car couldn’t break a hundred. Or an early short-wheelbase 911 trying actively to kill its driver on the Stelvio Pass. Or a ’69 big-block ‘Vette snarling down Mulholland. Men’s cars. Driven by the men who ruled the world, who had built the world. And created by those men, too. Ferrari himself, sacrificing drivers like pawns and burning the essence of his life to obtain victory. Ferry Porsche, who had to build and engineer a racecar to ransom the life of his own father. David Brown, earning a fortune and then throwing it away so he could put his own intials on the Aston Martin. Ferrucio Lamborghini, who famously started his company because Enzo showed him a lack of respect (or because he found out how much the markup on Ferrari parts was, depending on which story you believe.) These were real men, building appropriate conveyances for other men of means, courage, and accomplishment.
Those men are all as dead as Caesar now. Their famously fragile businesses, which often held together simply on the faith of their workers that “the old man” would find a way to pay them next week, have been plucked from uncertainty and nestled safely within the bosoms of monstrous corporations or the accidentally oil-rich.
And the cars those men made? They’ve been replaced by products, which are branded and marketed to “high net worth individuals”, our infamous one percent, existing within a safety net of corrupt banks, protective governments, and barriers to entry. The “heritage” those men manufactured on the fly has become a precious resource to be doled out by turtleneck-clad designers timidly riffing on the tracks cut by their betters long ago, like a club DJ spinning Parliament in scratches and squeaks because he never learned to play the bass himself.
Worse yet, the “products” themselves have ceased doing the man’s work of the company. Porsche used to live or die by 911 sales, the same way Lamborghini relied on selling the Countach to keep the doors open. No longer. Today, the Panamera and Cayenne drive the business. They trade on the image of the 911 to move the metal, but the 911 itself has become irrelevant. It’s a trophy wife on the arm of the Panamera. It’s there to make the Pano look good.
Sunday: Dead Ferraris all over the Chugoku Expressway in Shimonoseki, southwestern Japan.
8 Ferraris, a Lamborghini, three Mercedes Benz, and two Toyotas, a total of 14 vehicles bought the farm when one Ferrari driver trying to change lanes lost control, bounced off a barrier, and came spinning back into the middle of a luxury car caravan heading for an enthusiasts’ event in Hiroshima.
No one, besides the automobile insurance company executives seen leaping from high windows, was seriously injured in the accident, but a lot of very expensive metal was seriously bent.