The 2014 Cleveland Auto Show runs through Sunday, March 9. I was there on Saturday the 1st, and here's some of what I saw.
The Templar Motor Car Corporation, located in Lakewood, Ohio, was one of the 57 locally owned automobile companies that operated in the greater Cleveland area between ninety and a hundred years ago.
Though Templar went bust in 1924, its 300,000 square foot three-story factory still stands. After Templar's demise, the building was the home of Lake Erie Screw, a maker of threaded fasteners, for many years, and now serves as "Templar Industrial Park," a business incubator for smaller companies, studio space for local artists, and a banquet hall. It's also the home of the largest concentration of Templar automobiles in the civilized world.
Templar built 6,500 or so vehicles during its automotive career, of which there are 37 known survivors. Eight of these are displayed in the third-floor assembly hall of the old Templar plant--the room where they were originally bolted together--and another is displayed on the second floor where Templar's engines were once manufactured.
The curator of Lakewood's Templar collection is David Buehler, a lifelong resident who has had a lifelong fascination with his hometown's only indigenous auto company. David owns the cars in the third-floor display, and has five more Templars of his own at home--and he knows where every one of the other 24 survivors are. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of all things Templar, from company history to minute mechanical details, and a personal collection of Templar artifacts ranging from employee ID badges to blueprints to the only known example of a Templar children's pedal car. Over Thanksgiving weekend, he gave me the full guided tour of the old Templar factory.
Come in out of the cold, grab some hot chocolate, sit down by the fireplace, and let's talk cars.
Just in time for Christmas, General Motors announced the 2014 Cadillac ELR Saks Fifth Avenue Edition, in a limited production run of just 100 vehicles, with an MSRP of $89,900.
This review was first posted on November 22, 2011. I tried to avoid any conspiracy theories and tried to simply describe the limousine that was used in Dallas. It will always be the center of the event, and luckily it is still here as an artifact, a silent witness, and a victim.
It was 48 years ago today, on November 22, 1963, that the world changed again forever. We all know the horrible details of our 35th President, John F. Kennedy's murder, so I'll refrain from them in this post. But on that day, our nation and the world immediately went into unified mourning and shock, and national television was uninterrupted for four days. Nothing of this magnitude had been repeated until September 11, 2001.
He was riding in an open-car motorcade as all Presidents had done before, and none have done since.
The President's Parade Car, known as SS-100-X (Also X-100) by the Secret Service, began life as any other 1961 Lincoln Continental convertible. Mr. Kennedy loved these cars when they came out, so they made a very special one for him.
After factory assembly, it was shipped to Hess & Eisenhardt in Cincinnati and cut in half (It is a unibody design). The car was then elongated about 3½ feet and modified with special luxuries, plus foldable jump seats, grab handles, rear bumper footrests, special lighting, flagstaffs, and a rear seat that would rise 10 inches.
Ladies and gentlemen, following up on yesterday's look at airport limos, we present to you the airport limo to end all airport limos, the sleekest and swankest jet age marvel ever to grace a terminal loading zone: the Jetway 707 built by American Quality Coach Corporation.
What was your first impression of this vehicle? Did you think, as I did, that it looked like an Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser that had been caught in a taffy puller, or pumped full of growth hormones by mad scientists engaged in diabolical avant garde experiments previously performed only on insects and other small, meaningless creatures?
That's actually not too far off the mark.
Now, regular readers of this blog will probably not go out and buy any of this week's theme cars since they are manifestly expensive and impractical for daily use. Nevertheless, like certain other specialized vehicles, we all stand a pretty good chance of at least riding in one some day (whether we're aware of it or not). So we might as well know something about them and the weirder the better.
According to Wikipedia, the modern limousine is a standard automobile -- usually an existing luxury model -- driven by a chauffer. A "stretch limo" is usually considered as one that has had its wheelbase lengthened, either by the manufacturer or by a third-party coach builder. In this they are similar to the specialized coaches built for carrying the dead to their final resting place. For most of their history, limousines were standard luxury sedans used by the wealthy and the well-connected to go about their daily high-profile business. The last few decades have seen an explosion in stretching nearly any vehicle and are most often used as rental vehicles for weddings, sweet sixteen parties, proms, you name it. And the odder the original vehicle, the better.
The names read like a litany of tragedy: Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison, Winehouse. . .promising musicians who drugged and/or drank themselves to the grave before they even turned 30. Open up the age bracket a bit and you'll find Hutchence, Bonham, Moon, and Scott; all cut short at or near their prime creative years. And that's just a few of the more famous ones, an exhaustive list makes for rather depressing reading.
But before them all was Hiram King Williams, better known as Hank Williams. Perhaps the first country music superstar, Williams died from drug and alcohol related causes in the early hours of 1953. . .before his 30th birthday as well. And because this is Car Lust (and Halloween), I've chosen to highlight this particular celebrity's untimely demise because the unhappy event occurred in the back seat of his car, a 1952 Cadillac convertible. No haunting. No bizarre coincidences. No stories of the car being cursed and causing death and destruction long after the initial event. Just an unfortunate end to a short but spectacular career of an artist perhaps many people these days don't even know about, and if they do they may regard him as some kind of goofy hillbilly.
Such is far from the case (well, okay, there was something of the hillbilly about him), and many artists of the present and recent past were influenced by his music. . .and not all of them are or were country artists. So before you click away, sit back and have a short read about one of the most influential but underappreciated artists of the 20th century, his tragic end, and his way cool car.
It may also be the widest car ever here. In 1977 GM downsized its largest cars, so this body barely escaped the truncation.
How wide is it? Well, it's so wide that the casket can be placed into the coach's rear and moved forward into its latching position. Then the casket can be rotated 90 degrees while still inside. That's with all of the doors shut, of course. Then it can be made to protrude a bit, and be removed from either the left or right side rear door, or out the back. This makes Valentine a true "Three-Way" model.
The Coach belongs to my friend Travis, who hosts a Halloween event every year. I have attended two of these so far, and hundreds of people from all over Northern California (and other parts of the country) flock there to see Valentine, as well as to receive some delicious treats, I'm sure.
When the idea of "French Cars Week" here at Car Lust was first presented, I thought my only experience with them was watching a great car chase scene in For Your Eyes Only. But after I thought about the subject for a moment, I remembered I did have some experience with a French car... and it was a very good one.
In 1979, I visited a friend in Toluca Lake, Burbank, California. George wisely kept the Ferrari to himself, but the "house car," a 1978 Peugeot 604, was my car for almost two weeks. And at the time, our family had a similar car, a modest 1972 Mercedes-Benz 250 sedan (Ours also had circular factory fog lights). So driving the French counterpart gave me a chance to compare them, even though they were 2,000 miles apart.
Here, just in front of the Ferrari 365 GTC4, is the "house car," the 604 graciously loaned to me by George. Normally the two cars were parked side by side, but on this July 4, 1979, we pulled the Italian car out onto the street for some photos.
I'm glad I framed the 604 in the background to help remind me of the visit; this may be the only image of the 604 I have.
George liked the French, and especially their engineering. After all, anybody that builds the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty, not to mention helping us win the War Of Independence, can't be all bad.