Hot Rods Redux

Decades after they were first cobbled together by enthusiastic amateurs, they are coming to be recognized as perhaps the supreme folk art of the American century

The scene was faintly outrageous. Purists turned their heads away in disgust, the unintiated gaped, and a few of the anointed smiled. Read more »

Confessions Of A Sports Car Bolshevik

What it was like to be young and in the front lines
when Europe mounted an assault on Detroit
with small, snarling, irresistible machines that
changed the way we drove and thought

WHAT’S THE POINT OF BEING A BOY IF YOU DON’T GRASP THE FACT that cars are the package excitement comes in? I certainly did. By the age of eleven I was the kind of boy who knew every Dodge and Hudson and Packard of every model year by heart, tore the car ads from the magazines, rushed to the dealers’ showrooms every October for the epic unveiling of next year’s longer, lower, wider wonders. Small Ontario towns had no Bugatti dealers.Read more »

Designer Of The American Dream

Bill Mitchell’s imaginings brought you the cars of Detroit’s ultimate classic era

THEY SIT LIKE RUINED VILLAS IN THE distant reaches of mall parking lots, in inner-city neighborhoods and backcountry towns, dressed no longer in bright colors but in gray patches and orange primer, the last Chevelles and Biscaynes, GTOs and Sting Rays, the dying echoes of the stylistic opera of Bill Mitchell.Read more »

Rescue Squad

TODAY NEARLY HALF
a million men and women serve two-thirds of the country in a crucial volunteer service that began only recently—and only because a nine-year-old boy witnessed a drowning

 
 

ON A WARM MAY AFTERNOON IN 1909 THE quiet along the river in Roanoke, Virginia, is broken by cries for help. Two canoeists have capsized. Bystanders rush to the banks, throw branches toward the foundering men. It is in vain. The swift current carries them under; they drown. A nine-year-old boy watches them perish. Read more »

Secrets Of The Model T

The Tin Lizzie carried us into the twentieth century, but she gave us a hell of a shaking along the way. Now a veteran driver tells what everybody knew and nobody bothered to write down.

Many, many authors have written about the Model T, but I’m privy to some information that this legion ignored. My experience with Model T’s began in the Middle West in 1923 and continued on out to California. Like so many others, I drove only second- or third-hand models. Here are some of the things I learned.

SHIMMY Read more »

The Dawn Of Speed

The Florida Speed Carnivals at Daytona lasted less than a decade, but they saw American motoring grow from rich man’s sport to national obsession

It has been said that motor sport was the first organized activity in America that drew all social classes together. Certainly William K. Vanderbilt, Jr., and Barney Oldfield would have been unlikely to have exchanged pleasantries otherwise. Vanderbilt, elegant, impeccably groomed, was scion to one of the world’s great fortunes, whose childhood attack of the measles made the society pages, whose wedding occupied eight full news columns in New York papers.Read more »

The Greatest American Cars

A leading authority picks the top ten. Some of the names still have the power to stir the blood. And some will surprise you.

Few enterprises for any alleged expert in a given field can be more hazardous than the compilation of a “best” or “worst” list. The undertaking of such an effort immediately invites second-guessing by everyone else with similar credentials and offers the risk that any number of them may give valid, even insurmountable, proof that their selections are superior.Read more »

The Stanleys And Their Steamer

Teetotaling twin brothers built the most wonderful car of their era, and its day of glory may not be over yet

At the turn of the twentieth century, the American automobile industry was in a stage of youthful indecision. Two courses lay open to it: to follow the already well-defined path of steam propulsion, or to explore the lesser-known byway of gasoline power. Steam seemed to have the brighter future and, at this point, was heavily favored by the early auto makers. In the year 1900 more than 1,600 steam cars were produced, compared to only goo driven by gas.