Automotive History

Strange automotive history — From the 3-wheeled Tiger to the Interceptor


The three-wheeled Tiger Roadster

By Robert D. Cunningham
Courtesy of The Old Motor

(July 23, 2021) When Mrs. Joel Thorne ran off with a sailor in 1921, she left her 7-year-old son, Joel Wolfe Thorne Jr, in the hands of his father, the influential owner of Chase Manhattan Bank. Three years later, the banker was struck and killed by an automobile, and young Joel became the beneficiary of a trust fund worth an estimated $38 million (roughly $600 million in today’s money). With no need to work, the young man simply played, and he played to win.

Seven Volkswagen Beetle successors that never were

(July 17, 2021) The Volkswagen Beetle is an icon. Over the years, it has symbolized many different things to many different people, from a classic example of German ingenuity to the calling card for a counterculture movement to a reminder that the simplest of things can sometimes be the best. Above all, it set the standard by which all other small, economy cars are judged.

Mythbusting — The truth about the GM EV1

By Gary Witzenburg
Hagerty

(July 4, 2021) About halfway down the long hill leading to the General Motors Proving Ground test tracks in Milford, Michigan, it hit me that the electric concept car I was driving rolled on a cobbled-up show-car suspension and was armed with barely functional brakes. Uh-oh! It would be a supremely stupid, costly, career-ending blunder to crash this incredibly significant hand-built prototype EV by plowing off the fast 90-degree corner that awaited down the hill. Though the concept was called the Impact, I had no intention of putting that name to the test.

Sound and color added to 1920s New Jersey street scene

(February 28, 2021) The hustle and bustle of Kinney Street in Newark, N.J., comes to life in this old film from the 1920s with color and sound added creating the feeling of actually being there. Notice all the electrified street cars on the street.

1911 Reeves Octoauto was an 8-wheel technological marvel

By Jeff Peek
Hagerty

(February 21, 2021) Eight is enough — exactly the right amount, as it turns out, when it comes to the number of wheels on a car. In 1911, Milton Reeves tested that theory with an eight-wheel vehicle he called the Octoauto. The odd-looking automobile wasn’t his first creation or his last, but it was definitely Reeves’ most significant, even though it wasn’t a financial success. Reeves, a native of Indiana who was born during the Civil War, was among the early architects of the horseless carriage in the late 1880s. In fact, his initial iteration is widely considered the fourth or the fifth American automobile ever created.

Rolls-Royce Spirit of Ecstasy — Flying high for 110 years

(February 7, 2021) Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is celebrating the 110th anniversary of the Spirit of Ecstasy — its official emblem. The intellectual property of the design was registered on Feb. 6, 1911, establishing a defining feature of the Rolls-Royce brand and one of the most famous, iconic and desirable symbols of luxury in the world. Almost unaltered throughout her long and storied life, the Spirit of Ecstasy graces the bonnet of every Rolls-Royce motor car built at the Home of Rolls-Royce, Goodwood, England.

Perrymobile was a rationless World War II era alternative car

By Robert D. Cunningham
The Old Motor

(January 26, 2021) For a time in 1944, when World War II gasoline rations were just two gallons per week, many automobile owners drained the precious fluid from their tanks, filled the engine cylinders with oil, and put their cars up on blocks. However, a few fortunate owners of obsolete electric-powered and steam-powered cars pressed their relics back into service. And one clever Los Angeles inventor demonstrated what he claimed was a greatly improved version of the steam-powered motor that any mechanic.

100 years ago first Rolls-Royce rolled off Massachusetts assembly line

By Larry Edsall
Classic Car Journal

(January 20, 2021) On Jan. 17, 1921, a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost rolled off an assembly line, but it wasn’t in Derby, England. Instead, that car and 2,945 that followed were assembled in Springfield, Mass. “These Rolls-Royce ‘Springfield’ Motor cars benefited from the creativity of U.S. coach builders including Brewster, Willoughby, Merimac and Hollbrook, and brought us some wonderful early commissions,” the British automaker noted in a news release celebrating the centennial of its American production effort.

Series production of the Volkswagen Beetle began 75 years ago in Wolfsburg

(December 31, 2020) HERNDON, Va. — On Dec. 27, 1945 series production of the Volkswagen Limousine began. Referred to internally as “Type 1,” and later becoming world-famous as the “Beetle,” the vehicle’s unique success story started in Wolfsburg thanks to the strategic vision of British Major Ivan Hirst.

1921 Duesenberg, 1970 Dodge Challenger added to Historic Vehicle Register

(December 6, 2020) The National Historic Vehicle Register has officially added two cars this year to their list — the 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T SE and the 1921 Duesenberg Straight Eight. They will be joining the 26 other significant automobiles that are on the register. Their significant stories will be documented for all future generations at the Library of Congress. The National Historic Vehicle Register was developed by Historic Vehicle Association to thoroughly document America’s most historically important automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, and commercial vehicles.

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