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Showing posts from December, 2011

Form, function, Farina: The mid-50s Nash

IT'S NOT just the ornateness of 1950s cars – the swaths of chrome, the bold  colours – that sets that automotive decade apart.
    Equally notable is the period's diversity of body lines. Round roofs, flat roofs. Fins and scallops. Fenders that stand proud, fenders that ease into hoods and doors. So many shapes to see.
    Though not always to savour.
    It was inevitable that the '50s, while producing so many classic vehicle designs, would also yield some duds. The economy was expanding, society was evolving, technology was advancing – and designers, while given great scope, were under enormous pressure, year after year, to create the new and different. Not all of their efforts could succeed.
   I've long put the mid-1950s Nash, tub-like and squint-eyed, in the dud category. Lately, though, I've started to, well, not quite like it ... but respect it.
   My change of heart stems from a discovery that Nash's signature ovoid styling was rooted in more than just a des…

Something old, something new

Any weekday afternoon in Havana, you're likely to see a shiny classic convertible cruise by, bride and groom seated high in the back like parade marshals, smiling and waving as they accept the congratulations of passersby.
   Of late, however, some couples are electing to make the traditional tour by modern stretch limousine instead of open car, reports Here is Havana author Conner Gorry.
   And Cuba becomes a little more like everywhere else.
   Though you won't see any wedding cars, limo or convertible, on weekends. Civil marriages, the only type recognized in Cuba, are performed only during the week.


Ramblers and Republicans

Watching the U.S. Republican debates makes me think of Rambler, which makes me think of my father. You, a student of automotive history, will have already surmised that the link here is Mitt Romney.
   Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, was regarded until recently as the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination – and probably will be again once the party realizes that Newt Gingrich, the current favourite, is, oh yeah, that Newt Gingrich.
   But it's George W. Romney, Mitt Romney's father, who makes me think of Ramblers and my father. George Romney in 1954 became chairman and chief executive of American Motors Corp. newly formed from the merger of two struggling automakers, Hudson and Nash-Kelvinator.
   Tall, square-jawed, his greying hair swept back, George Romney looked every bit the executive, and he had the business drive to match. Yet he had other dimensions. Born to an American Mormon family in Mexico, he was active in his faith, serving as a missio…