We know that our readers are nostalgic about cars. There’s probably not one among you that doesn’t remember the new car your dad or uncle brought home that one summer day. You remember how it smelled, how the engine and exhaust sounded and how cool it felt to get picked up or dropped off from school in it.
For many of us, that make and model is no longer being produced. And if it is, it’s probably nothing like it was in those days … but maybe that’s a good thing! Here are five automotive legends that we can’t wait to make it back onto showroom floors.
Original production run: 1980 – 1991
Estimated re-release: 2015
The original Audi Quattro was a road going rally car designed for trips to the shoppes rather than backwoods hooning.
As a Group B rally racer, the Quattro was a formidable foe. The name Quattro was derived from the Italian word for four, which indicated the presence of all wheel drive. The advantage of all four wheels driven (vs. two wheels on competing racers) meant more power could be put down to the ground. During the final year of Group B, the inline five cylinder turbocharged engine was making nearly 600 horsepower.
The production Quattro may have shared its rally cousin’s engine configuration and styling, but not it’s insanely high engine output. Power hovered around the 200 horsepower mark during its entire production run.
In the last few years, Audi has teased us (twice!) with concept versions of a new Quattro. The latest Audio Quattro teaser came in 2013 with a spectacular hybrid powertrain promising 700 horsepower delivered to all four wheels.
We’re sure we could make room for either version of this Group B legend in our garage.
Original production run: 1976 – 2004
Estimated re-release: Uncertain
Vivian: Man, this baby must corner like it’s on rails!
Edward: Beg your pardon?
Vivian: Well, doesn’t it blow your mind? This is only four cylinders!
Maybe Julia Roberts (Vivian) didn’t actually drive the Esprit in Pretty Woman (driving scenes with dialouge are often shot through the front glass of a car towed behind a camera truck) but her delivery of the lines above accurately describe two of the Esprit’s many charms.
The first charm – handling. The Esprit was low, wide and light. Weighing just under 2,700 lbs., the Esprit shed weight via exotic material use, including hand (and later vacuum formed) fiberglass and Kevlar (used to strengthen the roof and sides).
The second charm – power. Contributing to the Esprit’s lightness was its diminutive 4 cylinder engine, displacing 2.0 to 2.2L for much of its production run. In turbocharged engine form, the 2.2L engine produced enough power for sub-five second sprints to 60 mph. An all aluminum V8 was offered in 1996.
At the 2010 Paris Auto show, Lotus showed a concept Esprit and rumors of a 2014 production release swirled. Sadly, the Esprit project has been placed on hold for financial reasons.
Our favorite of the run? The Giugiaro designed S3. What’s yours?
Original production run: 1990 – 2005
Estimated re-release: 2015
With the Ferrari 328 set squarely in its sights, Japanese automaker Acura (who was best known for their luxury cars at the time) set out to do the unthinkable – to beat Ferrari at their own game.
With a mid engine layout and an all aluminum monocoque body, Acura created a well balanced car with neutral handling and just enough power (270 to 320 horsepower depending on model and year) to force Ferrari into a response: the more powerful 348.
Unlike Ferrari whose quest to create more and more powerful cars continues to this day, Acura’s NSX changed little throughout production. Any why should it? Formula 1 legend Aryton Senna helped develop it.
The NSX concept debuted in 2012 with production scheduled to start in Marysville, OH during 2014.
Original production run: 1974 – 1988 (United States)
Estimated re-release: Uncertain (United States)
Like the Esprit, the Scirocco was designed by Guigiaro in the 1970s. Volkswagen needed a sporty coupe to round out their product line. As a replacement for the Karmann Ghia, the Scriocco ditched convertible fun in favor of (what Volkswagen would later refer to as) Fahrvergnügen
Unlike the other cars described here, the Scirocco was no speed demon. The most powerful U.S. version (MkII) produced only 123 horsepower from a normally aspirated 1.8L 4 cylinder engine.
Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on which side of the pond you live on) there is a MkIII version of the Scirocco. Sold only in Europe, this version was named Top Gear’s Car of the Year upon its release.
Will the MkIII Scirocco be brought to the United States? It’s not looking good. U.S. safety requirements prevent its registration here. But there are a few track-only cars we’ve seen stateside that makes us want one even more.
Original production run: 1978 – 2002
Estimated re-release: Uncertain
As the longest running production model here (24 years) the Supra has a long and revered history, albeit not one that is based on a factory-backed racing pedigree.
For its entire run, the Supra was powered by an inline 6 cylinder engine. Power output ranged from a modest 110 horsepower in 1978 to a tire shredding 300 horsepower produced by the twin sequential turbocharged engine (2JZ) found in the mid-90s (and beyond) models.
Unlike other twin-turbo competitors of the time, such as the Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4, the Supra drove only the rear wheels. It was also lighter than rear wheel drive competitors such as the Nissan 300ZX.
Today, finding an unmodified twin-turbo 2JZ-powered Supra might be more difficult than finding a leprechaun riding a unicorn chasing a chupacabra. But thankfully, a 2015 Supra concept is rumored to debut in Detroit.
Editor’s note: Remember those old cars your dad and uncles brought home when you were a kid? Which automotive legends do you wish could be re-imagined using today’s technology? Let us know in the comments below!
“Just like you never forget your first kiss,” says Margery Krevsky, “you will never forget your first car. Ask people about their first cars and watch their faces light up. There is such a psychological connection between cars and people. They just go together, enhancing our lives and representing our lifestyles.”
As for Margery, she has changed the face of how cars are presented at industry shows and events in a dramatic way, when she began the transformation of car models – those women who appeared next to vehicles at car shows to capture the attention of prospective customers – into product specialists who could also intelligently discuss the cars in question.
How it all got started
Let’s take a step back to the beginning of car shows which, not surprisingly, started up shortly after people could buy cars. “The earliest documented show,” Margery says, “was the Automobile Club of America’s show held in 1900 in Madison Square Garden in New York City. They had a doctor pose by a Stanhope along with his wife and little boy, sharing how much easier it was to have a car versus a horse and buggy. So, since the beginning of car shows, companies have had credible people endorsing the vehicles.”
It made sense to use a doctor in early advertising for a couple of reasons. First, doctors were “early adopters” of cars because they needed to make house calls. Plus, they could afford to buy a vehicle.
Over time, manufacturers began using attractive women in eye-catching costumes to draw the attention of car show attendees. Typically, these women simply stood by a vehicle. If they spoke at all, it was from a carefully memorized script. Why? “The answer,” Margery writes in her book, Sirens of Chrome: The Enduring Allure of Auto Show Models, “is obvious. Sex sells. Just ask any model who’s stood before a sea of bedazzled onlookers and fielded the hackneyed question: ‘Do you come with the car?’”
A closer look at car show models
Margery’s book is fascinating, as she provides succinct information about the people who historically stood or performed next to cars at shows, and as she shares anecdotes and highlights about them on a year-by-year basis. Each topic is accompanied by an excellent photo.
Because her book provides glimpses of information about intriguing historical women (both individual women and groups of them), we took the liberty of reading more about some of them. Here’s what we found out, partly from Margery’s book and partly from additional sources:
In early car advertising, mythological creatures – such as Sirens – often appeared in print, promoting car events. In Greek mythology, Sirens were sleekly seductive water-winged creatures, ones that could sing so sweetly that they could also lure sailors to follow them wherever they went. In these myths, the sailors became so distracted by the shimmering beauty of the Sirens and their songs that they crashed their ships into rocks and died. Then, the Sirens benefited from the bounty found on the ships.
In car advertising, of course, the crashes and the resultant pirating were never mentioned. A photo of an attractive Siren in print advertising was used simply to lure men to car shows. As an FYI, the first Siren appearing in a car-advertising poster promoted the Importers’ Automobile Salon, held at Madison Square Garden in December 1907.
Miss Hazel Jewell
In addition to print advertising, car manufacturers hired people to stand by cars at shows to garner attention. Until 1909, though, only men had been used for this purpose. That changed in 1909 when Miss Hazel Jewell joined 150 men at the Grand Central Palace in New York to show off vehicles from Ford Motor Company. As a real life Siren, Hazel’s job was basically to look so beautiful that potential shoppers were tempted into approaching the vehicles available for sale.
Print advertisements in this era showed women driving and enjoying new freedom while wearing big hats tied with scarves; still the reality was that most women were being chauffeured by men, if they rode in cars at all.
Eleanor Velasco Thornton
By this time, a symbol of status was the hood ornament – and its creation is closely tied to that of a beautiful woman with a tragic story. By 1910, Rolls Royce was being pressured to create an official hood ornament to prevent owners from putting their own, often less than stellar, pieces on their Rolls. So, Claude Johnson, managing director of Rolls Royce, asked sculptor Charles Sykes to create an ornament that captured “the spirit of the Rolls-Royce, namely, speed with silence, absence of vibration, the mysterious harnessing of great energy and a beautiful living organism of superb grace…”
Sykes submitted a modified version of one that he had already created for Lord Montagu of Beaulieu’s Silver Ghost. Most sources say that the model for this emblem was Eleanor Velasco Thornton, who happened to be Lord Montagu’s lover. Montague had hired Eleanor in 1902 as his secretary and they fell in love. Because Lord Montagu was already married, and because Eleanor was so far below him in social status, marriage between the two of them was not a credible option. However, they purportedly had a child and they did continue to work together.
Back to the Rolls Royce story: it is said that Eleanor modeled for sculptor Sykes and, from that, he created an ornament of a woman in loosely flowing robes and a finger to her lips, symbolizing the secrecy of her relationship with Lord Montagu.
This story, though, does not have a happy ending. In Agony and the Ecstasy: The Great Rolls Royce Love Story, you can read about how a grief-stricken Lord Montagu wrote, “I should have got a stronger grip on her.” But he didn’t. Because, when the SS Persia, on which both the lord and Eleanor were traveling, was hit by a German Torpedo in 1916, his grasp on his beloved was not strong enough to prevent her from being washed away in the waves. According to Lord Montagu’s son, “Theirs was a great love affair. Although when he came back home he was badly injured, he spent days looking for Thorn.”
Their story is captured, even today, in the emblem of the Rolls Royce, which became a standard fitting in the early 1920s.
Alice Snitzer Burke
Alice Snitzer was born around 1876 and, at the age of 18, she married Charles Armstrong, a college graduate who enlisted to fight in the Spanish-American War alongside Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders. Charles fought in key battles, but contracted typhoid fever; on August 25, 1898, he died.
After his death, Alice married a man identified as Dr. Burke. On April 6, 1916, she began traveling the country in a donated Saxon Roadster to promote the suffragist (voting for women) movement, motoring along with fellow suffragist Nell Richardson and a kitten. They traveled from New York to San Francisco, arriving in June.
Alice was photographed changing tires, repairing engines and replacing spark plugs. Her hemlines even rose to make it easier to operate the floor pedals on her car. She and Nell were also featured in a magazine advertisement titled “Two Noted Suffragists Travel 10,000 Miles in a Saxon Roadster.”
Silent and Sultry
Although Alice Snitzer Burke and Nell Richardson became well known for their beliefs and accomplishments, most women in this era who were associated with cars were not much more than mere window dressing. In 1919, for example, women were hired as “motor girls,” which meant that they stood by new cars and handed out literature about headlights, horns, windshields and other amenities. In 1927, a member of the Morgan Dancers literally posed as a hood ornament in a photo of a 1927 Packard 343 Series Eight.
Celebrities and Performances
In 1934, Hazel Forbes posed by a new Packard Super Eight Convertible Victoria wearing a swim suit. Although not well known today, Hazel was an American dancer and actress who served as Miss United States at the Paris International Beauty Pageant of 1926; danced with the famous Ziegfeld Follies; and acted in two Hollywood films: Bachelor Bait and Down to Their Last Yacht, both in 1934.
In 1936, Sonja Henie, world famous ice skater, Winter Olympics gold medalist and Hollywood star, posed by a Cord 810. That same year, nearly $1 million in furs were worn by the women posing by cars at the Chicago Auto Show.
In 1938, a car show featured a comedy skit that explored whether or not women could teach people about the Chevy engine. In 1953, Dinah Shore sang “See the USA in Your Chevrolet” on her talk show.
Margery’s book continues to provide information, year by year, about the state of the car modelling industry. But now, we’re going to fast forward to 1981.
Change is in the air
Yes, women still stand by cars at auto shows, even in 2014. But, their role has changed significantly and one woman owns the lion’s share of the credit: Margery Krevsky. Here is how all of the pieces came together.
Margery had earned a fashion degree from Tobe Coburn in New York City (now a part of the Fashion Institute of Technology) and had experience working as a Glamour magazine assistant editor and as a buyer for New York retail stores, including Macy’s and JL Hudson. She sometimes interacted with models and through that connection learned about how some of them posed by vehicles at auto shows.
“In 1981,” Margery says, giving context, “the women’s movement was really big. And, what I saw was that many women who were working at car shows were very smart. They had a fine education and credentials – and they were bored just standing by a car, eight hours a day. So, I brought up the radical idea that these people can talk. They can talk car, they can share their deep knowledge of a brand, they are a fine source to sell vehicles.”
Car manufacturers did not instantly warm up to Margery’s idea, but then Nissan let her try out her theory – that these women standing by cars were more than models; that they were, instead, product specialists – at an auto show. Soon, it became standard practice for the entire industry to have the people who were standing by cars at a show be experts on their topics. As Margery writes in her book, this change allowed the industry to “evolve out of T & A to a place of professional respect.”
“People come to auto shows to see the exhibits,” Margery says. “The cars clearly are the stars. But, product specialists play an important second banana role now that they’ve become a mouthpiece. These professionals can talk horsepower, how a particular car handles and performs and so forth.”
What about the clothing?
“They were a familiar sight at auto shows not that long ago, models clad in tight miniskirts or uncomfortable heels and gowns, smiling and posing fetchingly. They recited from scripts, if they spoke at all. Beginning with the earliest shows, the models were eye candy, there to accentuate the cars and trucks on display. Not much else was required.” (New York Times, “Car-Show Models Have Come a Long Way, Baby”)
Margery scrapped the stereotypical clothing and formulated a new approach. “Each car manufacturer,” she says, “has its own brand identity. And, when I look at someone to hire, I look at his or her lifestyle and persona to see if there is a good match for a Lexus – or a Jeep. As just one example, if someone is going to be a product specialist for a Lexus or a Cadillac, people in that demographic want the person standing next to a car to look how they see themselves. So I’d think glamor, upscale, sleek.”
Because Margery works with more than 15 brands, each with a different look, she calls choosing the right wardrobes an “interesting and challenging element. With Scion, for example, you need a hip vibe, something edgy. So I’d hire someone with visible body piercing and tattoos. I’d want that person to appeal to a younger age group – and I might dress that person in black jeans, a shirt with silk screened sayings, an asymmetrical jacket and cool body piercings.”
Before any of these decisions are made, though, Margery and her team sit in a room with auto executive and ask for words that describe a particular brand. Then these adjectives are written and hung on a wall. Beside each word, Margery and her team paste pictures from a magazine that fit each adjective. From that process, they begin envisioning the appropriate wardrobe for a particular brand.
Margery hires both men and women as product specialists. “Diversity is also important,” she says, “so I look for bilingual and even trilingual people. At least ten percent of my product specialists can speak both English and Spanish. Others can also speak Japanese. Or Chinese.”
A Few More Questions
We’d seen that a documentary was being made, based on Margery’s book, and asked her for an update. She told us that the book was well
received and stands alone as an historical piece. “The documentary,” she says, “also includes interviews with people in the automotive industry and so forth, in the style of Ken Burns.” The documentary is being created by filmmaker John Laurie and is still in progress.
And, what about famous people who were once product specialists for car shows? The list includes actor and comedian Tim Allen; Marilyn Barnett, who is now the CEO of Mars Advertising; Kathleen DuRoss, who went on to marry the chairman of Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford II; actor Pam Dauber; Brian “Kato” Kaelin, who once lived on the O.J. Simpson estate; and news anchor Rhonda Walker.
As a final question: what would the Margery of, say, 35 years ago think about where life has taken her? “In college,” she says with a laugh, “I had a VW bug and, during the winter, I would always pray that it would start. Now cars are much more reliable. And, maps? Whatever would I do now without a GPS?”
Editor’s note: Margery’s car specialists will be working at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show (February 8-17), the country’s largest and longest-running car show, with more than one million square feet of exhibit space.
Some of our readers may be familiar with Dana Mecum’s spectacular car auctions held around the United States and broadcast live on television.
For those watching at home, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of possibilities causing many to wonder what if I was there? What would I bid on?
You mean I can own a low mileage C5 Corvette convertible for less than the cost of a used Honda Accord?
Advance Auto Parts decided to visit the Mecum automotive auction in Kissimmee with bidding card in hand to not only find an automotive bargain, but also to stand next to an automotive legend.
A car auction in Kissimmee? What’s Kissimmee?
If you’ve never loaded the family truckster and headed south to see Mickey, Donald and Goofy, you probably don’t know where Kissimmee, Florida is.
Kissimmee is the town closest to Walt Disney World. It’s also the home of the Silver Spurs Rodeo, a Kissimmee tradition since 1944.
The Silver Spurs Rodeo is held each year at the Osceola Heritage Park, a 120-acre entertainment complex, which includes the 10,500-seat Silver Spurs Arena and 60,000-square foot exhibition building.
120 acres for an automotive auction? That seems like overkill. But, not for a Mecum auction.
The Mecum auction in Kissimmee is one of the largest collector car auctions in the world. This year, more than 3,000 vehicles will be auctioned off to the highest bidder over the course of 10 days.
Each day has a tent (or group of tents, depending on the day) where both registered and non-registered bidders can closely examine nearly everything offered during the 10-day auction.
Yep, even supercars are available for view and, in some cases, the owners allow any tire kicker who comes along to start the vehicle, pop the hood and check for leaks.
You said supercars. Now you’ve got my attention.
Supercar might be an understatement. How about automotive legend.
Our readers will remember our post covering The Lingenfelter Collection, which contained excerpts from our interview with collection owner, Ken Lingenfelter.
In that post, we said:
One car in particular that has his eye, at the time of writing this post, is the 1988 Callaway Sledgehammer Corvette that his cousin John drove to set a world record in speed for a street driven, street legal car: 254.76 miles per hour. “John put his life on the line to set that record,” Ken says, “so I’d really like it. But it may go for more at auction than I’m willing to pay. We’ll see.”
It was a privilege to see this car in person. Especially considering that the next owner could potentially hide it away in his garage for a decade or more.
Something for everyone
If one-off, record-setting, blazingly-fast cars aren’t your thing, the Mecum auction has much more to offer.
In addition to collector cars, thousands of pieces of road art are also up for sale. Everything from classic license plates (from just about every state and from every year) to neon clocks are available to the highest bidder.
What if 80s mid-engine domestic 2-doors with Ferrari-esque body kits and John Deere tractors are your thing? Go to the Mecum car auction in Kissimmee.
What if supercharged rat rods are your thing? This low-slung beast has a custom air ride suspension setup with the air tank mounted between the seats.
What if ’84 Nissan Datsuns are your thing? This survivor has 42,000 original miles and looks showroom fresh.
Still haven’t found what you are looking for? Here are a few more to choose from:
- 1969 Subaru 360 Dune Buggy
- 1961 Lamborghini DL25 Tractor
- Don Johnson’s Personal 1989 Ferrari Testarossa
- 1999 Shelby Series 1
Hurry! There’s still time.
The 2014 Mecum car auction in Kissimmee concludes January 26. Can’t make it down to sunny Florida? Go to www.mecum.com and click the watch online link or tune in to Esquire and NBC’s television coverage (check local listings for time and channel).
Editor’s note: What’s your favorite item up for auction in Kissimmee? Let us know in the comments below.
When it starts to rain, you automatically turn on your wipers, without giving it a second thought. The earliest drivers, though, couldn’t do that, because wipers didn’t yet exist. It wasn’t until November 10, 1903 that a woman from Birmingham, Alabama named Mary Anderson received a patent for a “window cleaning device for electric cars and other vehicles to remove snow, ice or sleet from the windows.”
In other words, windshield wipers.
Windshield wiper history
History Channel provides more of the back story of this amazing invention. Anderson was riding a street car in New York City, but the driver couldn’t see through his windshield. The windshield was split so that the driver could open it and manually clean off rain, sleet or snow, but passengers shivered and/or got wet in the process.
Anderson knew there had to be a better way and so she devised a set of wooden and rubber wipers operated by a lever located by the steering wheel. This activated a spring loaded arm that cleared off the windshield. These wipers could be removed and used only when necessary.
People laughed at the notion, figuring that these wipers would distract drivers and cause accidents. Anderson tried selling her creation to a manufacturing company who refused, seeing no practical value in a device that cleaned car windows. By 1913, these wipers were found on most cars, but the inventor didn’t profit.
More windshield wiper history: in 1917, Charlotte Bridgewood invented another version of wipers, but she didn’t make any money from her invention, either.
Modern day windshield wipers
It’s hard to imagine not having wipers on your car, and today’s drivers realize that they help to prevent accidents rather than causing them. When old wipers leave behind streaks or otherwise don’t clear off a windshield, they know it’s time to replace them.
Check out the Advance Auto Parts site for great savings, plus a bonus deal if your order qualifies, now through January 11, 2014.
To get your order even faster, buy online and pick it up at your local Advance store.
The Advance Team
People typically use a GPS to determine the best route to their destinations. If you hate busy highways, you can request a route that relies more heavily on local roads, and vice versa. It can help you find the nearest restaurant, gas station and the like and typically offers spoken directions (“turn right at the next intersection”) to help you switch into the proper lane and otherwise make your trip more smooth and problem free.
Once the door is opened, so to speak, GPS technology can provide a slew of information that the driver didn’t know was available.
GPS devices can also:
• Monitor your vehicle mileage
• Keep track of how many miles you drove on your latest vacation or business trip
• Watch your speed for you
If you loan your car to your teenager, you might appreciate that it can record:
• How long the vehicle remained at a particular location
• Speed warnings
GPS technology can also come to the rescue if someone steals your vehicle, once it is integrated with your anti-theft system. You can request that the GPS either email you or call you to let you know that your car alarm went off, and to share where the vehicle is currently located.
Worried about car maintenance? Some GPS units can let you know when it’s time to recharge or replace your car battery or to change your oil. If your locks freeze, you can contact your device through your cell phone and unlock your car.
Though GPS technology is gaining popularity in cars, one problem still exists.
Signals can get blocked. If you’re driving through a mountain range, as just one example, GPS devices may not work. The same can happen when you’re traveling through a national state park full of trees or through tunnels. Give the experts time, though, and they’ll most likely improve upon this challenge.
Accelerate the spirit by donating to organizations in need of an extra helping hand this season:
To help find a cure for Type 1 diabetes: www.jdrf.org
To help defeat cancer: www.cancer.org
To honor the memory of Paul Walker and help provide relief to victims of natural disasters: www.roww.org
All the best,
Editor • DIY’er