THE A LINE
A PERSONAL HOMAGE TO AUTOMOTIVE DESIGN
At over 16 feet long, the 1956 Lincoln Premiere is essentially a land yacht. Its voluptuous body is lined with design touches, from the golden nameplates to the canted headlights to the exaggerated fenders and side skirts. These eye-catching details are likely a result of the Premiere’s extended design team, led by George W. Walker, who was heavily involved in the creation of the Ford Thunderbird. Can you see the resemblance?
The only features more noteworthy than those on the exterior are the ones found inside. As a luxury vehicle with its sights set on rival automaker Cadillac, the Lincoln Premiere was among the first American passenger vehicles to offer many of the creature comforts we take for granted today. Advertising lauded the optional “factory air conditioning and heating, four-way power seats, and FM radio”.
This is a well-loved example, spotted on a hot summer day outside Brooklyn Crab in Red Hook.
Shortly after World War II, the Willys-Overland company began producing a 4WD vehicle based on the utilitarian machines used throughout the war. This pioneering automobile had a five-slot grille and birthed one of the most recognizable automotive brands in the country. All hail the CJ (“Civilian Jeep”).
In 1955, a variation of the CJ was introduced, known as the DJ (“Dispatcher Jeep”). Unlike its elder sibling, the DJ was a rear-wheel drive vehicle and came in a variety of body styles, including this enclosed cargo version spotted on Anna Maria Island in Florida.
The DJ eventually became the very first standardized form of transportation for the United States Postal Service. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night could stop this thing. And while this particular example is left-hand drive, many DJs were right-hand drive in order to allow easier access to mailboxes.
In 1948, the Ford F1 launched the F-Series Pickup. In 2019, Ford sold an F-Series truck every minute of the day.
The wildly popular line of vehicles earned its nomenclature from the second generation model, the F-100. This is a 1955 example — I think — based on the larger, curved windshield. Racked back at the top, this new glass changed the overall roofline of the truck. The body style seen here, with curved fenders and a rounded cab, would never be used again, as the third generation truck adopted a boxier front end and bed.
The simplicity of these trucks made them useful on farms and vineyards. It’s only fitting that this one was spotted near Alexander Valley in Sonoma, CA — home to thousands of acres of wineries and the Jimtown Store.
PORSCHE 911 930 TURBO
I cannot possibly begin to summarize the design history of the Porsche 911 930 Turbo in this short post. Instead, I’ll simply share a few fun facts about the iconic 16” Fuchs alloys seen on this example. Look closely and you’ll notice Porsche crests on the center cap — one of many reasons why the Fuchs are among my favorite Porsche wheels ever produced.
Otto Fuchs was known for developing ultra-strong, yet lightweight, alloy rollers for tanks and other armored vehicles. When Ferdinand Porsche and his team began work on the original sporting iteration of the 911 — the 1966 911S — they partnered with Otto Fuchs AG to invent a wheel that was lighter, and stronger, than the steel wheels commonly used by other manufacturers. The Fuchs solution? Forge the entire rim from a single piece of aluminum. This pioneering innovation would go on to define the look and performance of 911 wheels for generations to come.
But the look wasn’t approved overnight. In fact, Ferdinand had plenty to say. Upon reviewing (and dismissing) the proposed design put forth by Otto Fuchs, Mr. Porsche Jr. famously drew inspiration from a four-leaf clover to create the form we know and love today. From the minutes of that design meeting: “While our design was well-adapted to the shape of the series vehicles now being retired, the shape developed by Mr. Porsche Jr. appears more harmonious with the new vehicle".
The Apache. The Falcon. The Eagle. The Whizzer. The Tropicale.
As Ford Motor Company prepared to unveil their highly anticipated response to Chevrolet’s new Corvette, these catchy names emerged as candidates for the upcoming personal luxury vehicle. That is until a Ford stylist from the Southwest U.S. decided to submit her own moniker: The Thunderbird.
The Ford Thunderbird is a proper American grand tourer, with an emphasis on comfort and convenience over speed and performance. This luxurious two-seater was perfect for boulevard cruising and joy-riding through town; similar in function to European cars like the Jaguar XK-120 or the MGB GT.
Circular headlights and taillights, sleek tailfins, and a hood scoop give The Thunderbird a more athletic look than its contemporaries. This 1955 example — spotted in Wickford, RI — sports a gorgeous Thunderbird Blue paint job, with whitewall tires down below and the standard removable hardtop.
I'm not sure what this is, but would love to know.
Spotted in Brooklyn, NY.
A car that needs no introduction: the VW Beetle.
I’m not sure what year this example is — and to be honest, I don’t have much to add to the well-documented, 75-year history of the iconic ‘People’s Car’ — but in honor of its recently-terminated production run, I’m posting this photograph of a well-driven Bug that I always see around my neighborhood. Love it.
German Fun Fact: ‘Käfer’ means ‘Beetle’