Posts by Justin Hyde
- Justin Hyde at Motoramic14 hrs ago
The Lotus Europa was one of the stranger sports cars of the '70s, but still managed to corner like a sheepdog thanks to its low weight and fiberglass body. This example caught by Dave Lindsay is fairly typical of the nicer early '70s Type 62 Europas Lotus exported to the United States; by today's standards they're odd, underpowered and unreliable — which means they have a fervent fan base. If you have a shot to share, please add it to the Motoramic group on Flickr, or send us a message via Twitter, Facebook and
One of the most famous engineers in automotive history rarely set foot in the company with his name on it. After launching the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost in 1905, and building the factory in 1908, doctors told Henry Royce he was near death from overwork in 1911, and barred him from the premises. For the next 22 years, Royce worked from estates, often hiring designers and engineers to draft his plans and help him flyspeck problems. Working from home, Royce not only built up Rolls-Royce but designed aircraft engines that defended Britain in two world wars. Today, the aeronautical and automotive businesses that still bear his name have long been separated, but both can rightly claim his mantle. Here's a glimpse of Royce at work:
Finding old cars in barns has long grown from pasttime into big business, what between the soaring prices of collector cars and the gaggle of auto-restoration reality shows that rely on the three-F formula — find, fix and flip. No episode demonstrates that merging better than the episode of Discovery Channel's "Fast N' Loud," which will reveal Monday how it discovered a true treasure — the first prototype Pontiac Firebirds.
Now in its fifth season, the crew of the Gas Monkey Garage from Austin, Texas, has built a fervent following with their quick restoration jobs and general hijinks, thanks to the personalities of Richard Rawlings and Aaron Kaufman. Rawlings and team had veered into unusual work before — such as rebuilding a wrecked Ferrari F40 — but putting a pair of museum-quality cars together requires a different approach.
As important as China has become in the global auto industry, it's pull has been entirely that of a consumer rather than a builder. Chinese buyers now purchase more new vehicles a year than Americans, but there's not yet been a move by any major automaker to sell Americans mass-market vehicles made in China.
Yet China's pull has already started affecting what we buy here, since automakers want to sell the same design in as many countries as possible. And the latest application of that trend comes in this, the concept Lincoln MKX.
Ford is launching the Lincoln brand from scratch in China this week as an alternative to established luxury players. Since the volumes will be small for a few years even under a sucessful plan, Ford will have to import Lincolns from North America, hoping to compete even with the high Chinese tariffs on foriegn-built models. That means any new models like the MKX concept will have to carry some innate appeal, and Lincoln said it held several focus groups in China to ensure the design it chose would resonate.
Few companies ever reach the dominance that General Motors held on this date in 1967 when it marked the 100 millionth car it had built in the United States at the Janesville, Wis., plant. That year, GM employed some 740,000 people, and was not just the largest automaker in the world but the largest company period. Its market share of the U.S. auto industry was more than 50 percent. Today, the blue Chevy Caprice coupe resides in GM's museum in Flint, Mich.; and while GM still ranks among the world's largest automakers, 1967 was a peak of sorts. Had GM's profits kept pace with inflation since then, it would have made $13 billion last year instead of $3 billion — although its hard to top the year Chevy introduced the Camaro:
Photo: John Lloyd via Flickr
- Justin Hyde at Motoramic5 days ago
For the record, it's the year 2014. I mention that in case someone reading this story about a push to replace horses with motorized carriages thinks they've stumbled onto some archival piece by accident. It's been more than 100 years since the first vehicles began to trundle around Manhattan, but the last remaining vestiges of horse-powered transport in the city could be nigh — if the backers of a massive electric wagon get their way.
Unveiled at the New York auto show today, the Horseless eCarriage was designed and built by restorer Jason Wenig, on commission from New Yorkers for Clean, Livable, Safe Streets — a coalition which wants the city to outlaw the 68 horse-drawn carriages currently licensed to give tours of Central Park. Among the group's chief backers: newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio.
- Justin Hyde at Motoramic6 days ago
Over the past decade, Chrysler's rear-wheel-drive sedans have managed to survive a bankruptcy and three different corporate overlords. Thanks to the original stoutness of the Mercedes-assisted chassis, and the periodic updates that keep them from seeming like 21st-century versions of the Ford Crown Victoria, the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger combo still draw in fans. Today, Dodge revealed yet another redesign for the 2015 Charger — and for an old car, it's quite the change.
Chrysler designers said they wanted to give the Charger the same familial appearance as that of the new Dart and Durango. The biggest swap comes from the new wrap around LED daytime running lamps, paired with a blacked-out "mask" grille. The changes reduce drag, but also make for the most dramatic alteration to the Charger since it was launched in 2006.
The rest of the body receives less noticeable smoothening and tweaks — only the roof and rear doors carry over from the previous versions — but by moving the C-pillar rearward, the Charger takes on more of a fastback shape.
- Justin Hyde at Motoramic6 days ago
Fifty years ago this week, Ford made history by staging the greatest car launch in history — building up the drama around its new Mustang with stunts like papering over dealership windows and landing on the covers of both Time and Newsweek magazine. To celebrate its anniversary, Ford re-created a stunt it last pulled off in 1965 — landing a new Mustang on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building.
Since there's no cranes that can reach those heights, and delivery by helicopter would pose too many safety risks, the only way to get a Mustang up the Empire State is to cut it in pieces, then reassemble it up top.In 1965, that involved cutting the Mustang into three pieces and taking a few trips in the freight elevator. The 2015 Mustang convertible weighs at least 500 pounds more than the '65 edition, and is far longer, wider and taller, requiring a more complex effort to get it topside.
- Justin Hyde at Motoramic7 days ago
For the past two years, car shoppers from Acapulco to Winnipeg could wander into their Chevy dealers and kick the tires on a city-sized sport utility vehicle named the Trax — and about 90,000 have done so. Today, Chevy revealed the version of the Trax it will bring to the United States, for those less well-heeled buyers who want the shape of an SUV without the window sticker they usually carry.
The Trax that goes on sale later this year will put Chevy into a hip corner of the market; at the moment, the Nissan Juke is the only head-to-head competitor with an all-wheel-drive option, while the more popular Kia Soul offers a similar, if more funky, package with front-wheel-drive only. Chevy marketers expect this particular niche to grow 80 percent over the next three years, and given the financial challenges and driving demands of younger couples, this sounds like a wise move.
- Justin Hyde at Motoramic8 days ago
By the mid-1950s, as the largest automaker in the world, General Motors had the resources to explore outlandish ideas about the future of transportation. One of its more interesting efforts produced this, the XP 500 concept, a two-seat car powered by a free-piston engine, the first time such a motor had been mated to a car. The free-piston engine uses cylinders moving in opposite directions to compress air, eliminating crankshafts and many other parts. The Hyprex 4-cylinder unit developed by GM seems like something of a marvel even today; capable of making 250 hp, it could run on almost any fuel, and powered the XP 500 by spinning a turbine at the rear of the car. But the noise, controls and inflexibility of the free-piston design made it unusable in cars — although GM built a massive, 6,000-hp version for use on a Liberty ship.