...and coffee, too.
Got into a great conversation with a friend recently over a few donuts and some coffee, and talk turned to historical cars that offer inspiration from a variety of standpoints.... and it tied in perfectly with what's going on in the automotive industry... especially with American companies folding. This kills me, as there seems to be absolutely NO RESPECT for the advances made by American car companies, or their impact on technology and the economy at large.
As you may already know, I have a deep fascination with all things Ferrari. The sheer elegance of design, combined with the amazing heritage and utter lust for performance that these machines elicit in one's mind... hell, one's soul, even, is the stuff of legend. Yet, surprisingly, for a guy who talks a lot, I've never touched on another great car to come from not Italy (although we'll touch on that later), but from right here in the US, the mighty Duesenberg.
How can one deny the sheer excitement of any of the company's offerings? Hell, even the history of the marque is filled with the stuff of legend. Two brothers, both self-taught engineers (think about it, isn't every hot rodder somewhat of a self-taught engineer?) set out to build sports cars. August and Fred built cars in the '20's that had features you might find on today's cars: four valves per cylinder, dual overhead cams, and even juice brakes!
Anyway, the history of the marque is readily available with some minimal research skills, so we won't waste time on chronology here. What interested me most about the Brothers Duesenberg, was their use of superchargers and other go-fast goodies that seems, well, kind of strange, given the years in question. We're talking cars in the late '20's that had 140 MPH capability! An American, coach-built car (hell, by the time a wealthy owner got done, these things weighed tons!) that could run 0-60 times in roughly eight seconds! Again, that's PRE-1930! If that's not engineering and hot rodding at its finest, well, grab some stronger coffee, sir, and wake up.
Moving along, an interesting point was brought up regarding the partnership of one Virgil Exner and Fritz Duesenberg (son of August) on the Stutz Bearcat.... here was the prime example of Chrysler design, working with the heir of the genius that was Duesenberg. Sadly, this was a doomed marque (but sure made creative use of domestic offerings from Delta 88's to Grand Prix's!) One begins to wonder what may have been, had this partnership been at a more opportune time. In a way, there's a lot of inspiration to be found in there.... the use of existing, perhaps not-so-inspirational cars to begin with, to create a coach-built car with performance, all while giving a nod to this golden age.
Sadly, we're at a point where the political agendas and underlying turmoil have destroyed the industry, and are stripping the historical significance of our storied past, and leaving with it a revised version, loaded with controversy. At it's most basic level, this is an industry that is dynamic, exciting and loaded with great stories of great men and innovation, and to not be inspired by any of it leaves one to consider anyone's dedication to it in a much brighter light.
We're in an age now (in the hot rodding hobby) where we have talented builders following on this original path, and creating incredible cars from almost nothing. While it's exciting to witness, it just seems altogether more interesting when compared to a historical reference point, and one draws out some inspiration from two brothers who simply wanted to build fast cars... Ahh, the good old days.
Listening to: Get in the Van-- Henry Rollins
Reading: Dean Jeffries by Tom Cotter
Playing: Wrk my ass off
Drinking: An icy cold Pepsi