Oldsmobile interior in Hemmings Motor News's interior

Before it disappears from the news stands, you should check out the February 2010 issue of Hemmings Motor News.


I really liked his article about the oval-shaped dash in the 1957 Oldsmobile Ninety Eight. It’s unique.

It’s amazing how they crammed so many gauges inside several concentric ovals of shiny chrome.

On another note, it’s nice to see the Hemmings guys do an article specifically about interior design. Usually, I find them focused on the big picture - the entire car. Nice to know that they can zoom in and appreciate the smaller details too.


Everything old is renewed again.

Last week I made my annual trek to the 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. My 11th straight year.

Every time I go, I see ideas that look suspiciously familiar. Sometimes I poke around the archives to confirm hunches. Other times, it’s as obvious as dropping a toaster in a tub full of water.

Metropolitan_CTandT 00-10-51

Here’s an idea that was already 50 years old. The only update is that the CT&T vehicle is fully electric. Plus, it’s built in China and South Korea.

Of course, electric cars have been around since the early 1900’s, so in the scheme of things, the idea of using cars specifically for parking patrol is relatively new.

I found this car on Electric Avenue, the place in Cobo Hall specifically for electric vehicles. More posts about the latest NAIAS coming soon.

Franklin engine in Hemmings Motor News

If you’re into internal combustion, there’s a decent story about Franklin’s 1904 auxiliary, valve-and-a-half engine in the February 2010 issue of Hemmings Motor News.

Unfortunately, the article reads like a Society of Automotive Engineers white paper. Couldn’t there be a more accessible way to learn about this stuff? Like maybe using some graphics? Maybe hire a graphic artist or two? Just saying.

Stout Scarab in Hemmings Motor News

There’s a nice refresher by Ed Heys about the Stout Scarab in the February 2010 issue of Hemmings Motor News.

The Scarab was a mid-1930’s car that looked more like an Art Deco bus. It kinda reminds me of Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion with a 1950 Nash Airflyte rear end.

Like Fuller, Bill Stout was another ahead-of-his-time designer. He designed the Ford Tri-Motor and thought he could translate his success from airplanes to autos.

He might have done it if he had built more than four (maybe nine) Scarabs. (One of them was built in 1945 in conjunction with Kaiser-Frazer and Owens/Corning Fiberglass.)


Kaiser/IKA in Gearhead

I am really loving Chas’ Compendium of Automotive Oddities in Gearhead Magazine #18.

After an entire issue crammed full of kar kulture attitude and cheesecake, Editor Mike LaVella sneaks a straight auto history article into the back of the magazine. It’s devoted to the Kaiser cars built by IKA in Argentina.

Writer Chas Glynn gets down to business starting with how the Kaiser Manhattan went south of the border and became the Carabela.

Fun Fact: IKA replaced the Carlton Spencer-inspired bamboo vinyl interiors with authentic leather upholstery from local Argentinian craftsmen.

Then he talks about the ultimate auto mutt: the IKA Torino. It was an AMC Rambler American and Rambler Classic hybrid with a front and rear styled by Pinin Farina and built by Renault after Renault acquired IKA. (Who’s your daddy?)

If you’re not into rods & customs & car chicks, read this magazine Japanese-style: start at the back.

1969 Iso Lele in Hemmings Motor News

Torq-O is very American orphan-centric, but stories about multinational marques are always interesting and welcome.

One such story popped up in Hemmings Motor News (February 2010). It’s about the Iso Lele.

Jim Donnely writes about this incredibly rare Italian orphan. Iso was an Italian industrial manufacturer that got into automobile production after World War II.

The Lele was an incredibly upscale 2 + 2 hard top made between 1969 and 1974. Bertone styling. Chevy (later Ford) engines.

The boss was Piero Rivolta, and he named the car after his wife. The company only made 260 of them before fading into obscurity.

Kaiser Darrins are finally valuable!

Dave LaChance reports a huge price spike in the value of Kaiser Darrins (Hemmings Motor News, February 2010).

It seems the Darrin has rocketed in value about US $50,000 in five years (from 2004-2009).

Not bad for a car with a standard six-cylinder Willys F-head engine.

1958 De Soto Firesweep in Hemmings Motor News

More specifically, that’s a 1958 De Soto Firesweep Sportsman 2-door hard top.


It’s in the February 2010 issue of Hemmings Motor News.

(I love HMN, but I sure wish they’d use a little right-brain creativity and figure out some ways to make this information more visually appealing. If Garage and Gearhead and other magazines can do it, why not the hobby’s bible? You guys don’t have to go crazy. Just push it a little. Challenge yourselves. That’s my 2010 contribution to your Comment Box.)

By the way, the picture above is not from the article. You can’t get access to their images from the current issue online. Thanks to oldcarsandtruckpictures.com for posting this image from an original De Soto brochure.

Plymouth Duster 340 in Muscle Car Review

Geoff Stunkard has reminded us all why Plymouth Dusters are cool in his story Final Call for the January 2010 issue of Muscle Car Review (no web site? Wha?).

72ply42916-1(Not the Duster from the article but close! Image courtesy of cars-on-line.com)

When I was a kid, there was a Pinto, a Vega, and a Plymouth Duster parked at every third house. If a Duster hit a Pinto in the rear, and both cars melted in the forthcoming explosion, the world had just improved a little bit in my estimation. (As for the Vega, it would rust all by itself in an open field on a sunny day. No need to fantasize about various adolescent doomsday scenarios.)

Now, however, Stunkard has changed my mind...about the Duster. He writes about a 1972 Plymouth Duster 340, and it brought back a whole bunch of long-ago suburban neighborhood memories.

Read this article, and you’ll know why Dusters deserve better than crushers, crashes, and collisions.

Fiat accidentally summons the ghost of Nash.

Fiat has released a brand new Nash Rambler Landau. It’s called the Fiat 500 1.2 Pop Convertible.


There’s a review of it on Autocar. (Thanks for the tip, Aaron Severson!)

This descendant of the original Fiat 500 Topolino looks less like its predecessors and more like the original Nash Rambler to me. Compare the photo above to our copy of a 1950 Nash Rambler TV commercial.

It looks like Fiat’s shamans accidentally summoned Nash’s ancestors along with their own. Motorized sliding top. Pleated folds.

This reminds me of Studebaker’s Lark Wagonaire and GMC’s 2003-04 Envoy. No idea, er, product feature ever dies. It’s just forgotten until it gets recycled. (In GM’s case, they claimed that their recycled feature was brand spankin’ new. FF to about 45 seconds into their commercial to see what I mean.)