Posts Tagged ‘cars’
“The car has become an article of dress without which we feel uncertain, unclad, and incomplete in the urban compound”*…
Langdon Clay spent two years in the 1970s roaming the streets of the Big Apple at night, photographing parked and abandoned cars. See more of the results at “Eerie portraits of cars in 1970s New York.”
* Marshall McLuhan
As we slip behind the wheel, we might recall that it was on this date in 1921 that Thomas Midgley Jr., then a young engineer at General Motors, discovered that, when added to gasoline, a compound called tetraethyl lead (TEL) eliminated the unpleasant noises (known as “knock” or “pinging”) that internal-combustion engines made when they ran. Midgley could scarcely have imagined the consequences of his discovery: for more than five decades, oil companies saturated the gasoline they sold with lead– a deadly poison.
(Resonantly, 13 years later Midgley led the team that developed chlorofluorocarbons [CFCs]– specifically, Freon– for use in refrigeration [and ultimately, air conditioning and aerosols]. Like the lead additive, CFCs were celebrated in their time… but later banned for their contributions to climate change.)
In 1980 American Express teamed up with John DeLorean for a Christmas promotion, offering a limited edition of 100 24-karat gold-plated DeLoreans for $85,000 each. The response to the promotion, as to the car itself, was underwhelming: only two were sold– though a third gold-plated car was assembled in 1983 with spare parts that were required by American Express in case one of the other two that were built were damaged.
But in fact there was a fourth golden DeLorean. Michael Feldman, who’d paid $28,000 (including an early delivery premium) to get the first production model, decided that he’d do the plating himself. He found an electro-brushing facility and had his car gold-plated, panel by panel, to a 24-karat luster. The process cost him an additional $8,000– not chump change, but a comparative bargain. Still, a golden car wasn’t the most practical vehicle in the world; Feldman sold it in 1981 to the first a series of subsequent owners.
As we keep our eyes peeled for Doc and Marty, we might recall that it was on this date in 1956 that “Heartbeak Hotel” earned Elvis Presley his first Gold Record. Presley’s first million-seller (and his first release on RCA, after moving from Sun), the record sat at number one on Billboard‘s Top 100 chart for seven weeks, topped the Country and Western chart, and reached number five on the R&B chart. It continued to sell– it was eventually certified Double Platinum– and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1995.
From our friends at The Selvedge Yard:
One of the greatest rivalries in all of Drag Racing history has to be the classic Wildlife Racing matchup– Don “Snake” Prudhomme vs. Tom “Mongoose” McEwen. Any red-blooded boy born of that era remembers their famous Funny Cars decked-out in bright Hot Wheels badges screaming down the 1/4 mile in a furious blur that lasted all of 5 sweet seconds. The two faced-off in match races that raged over a period of about 3 years. Don Prudhomme, being the stronger competitor, usually came out on top. Their epic West Coast battles, fueled by huge sponsorship deals (Mattel, Coca-Cola, Plymouth, and Goodyear) were a major draw, and their loyal fans never tired of seeing them go head to head.
At the Dallas International Motor Speedway, 1971
Per the poster at the top of this post, see more at the Peterson Automotive Museum’s new exhibit, NHRA: Sixty Years of Thunder…
As we rev our engines, we might recall that it was on this date in 1982 that John Z. DeLorean, the auto industry celebrity credited with designing the Firebird, the GTO, and of course the (Back to the Future-starring) DeLorean, was arrested and charged with conspiracy to obtain and distribute 55 pounds of cocaine. DeLorean was ultimately acquitted of the drug charges, but was soon back in court charged with fraud; over the next two decades, he was forced to pay millions of dollars to creditors (and of course lawyers).
DeLorean and the DeLorean (source)
A flight of Isuzu commercials from the 1980s. As our friends at Blogadilla (via which, this clip) observe, it’s the more amazing because it’s actual driving…
As we tap the accelerator, we might recall that it was on this date in 2008 that (then 26 year old) Danica Patrick won the Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Montegi in Montegi, Japan, making her the first female winner in IndyCar racing history. Indy Racing League Rookie of the Year in 2005, Patrick had debuted at the Indy 500 that year; she led for 19 laps– the first Indy 500 lead ever held by a woman.