“That was a different time,” Alex Tremulis told me, recalling his heyday in car design. “The Forties through the Seventies. Back then a single person could often influence the shape of a car. Sometimes the whole car. Of course, lots of our ideas were sheer rubbish. But now and then, by luck or force of personality, we put something good into production.”
Many famous automotive designs did have whimsical beginnings. Bill Boyer put portholes on the rear roof quarters of the 1956 Ford Thunderbird to recall “the coachwork heritage.” They became so iconic that they reappeared on the retro-Bird in 2002.…
Downloading a Cole Porter classic, “You’re the Top,” to Spotify, I realized how much the lyrics have changed. Some verses were altered, others just dropped, because they’d only baffle people. Take for example my favorite—a verse now extinct, because it’s well-nigh unrecognizable:
You’re the top! You’re a Ritz hot toddy.
You ‘re the top! You’re a Brewster body.
You’re the boats that glide on the sleepy Zuider Zee,
You ‘re a Nathan Panning, You’re Bishop Manning, You’re broccoli!
A remembrance first published in The Automobile, December 2019. This version contains two additional illustrations and a glossary of Vorderman bon mots on automobiles.
“History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days.” —Winston S. Churchill, 12 November 1940
“Writers rarely talk about writing among each other. It’s a very personal thing, and it’s almost always hard to do well, none of which is too conducive to cheery cocktail chitchat. Most of us would rather visit a dentist than face up to the task of beginning the next piece, though it’s not quite so awful once the commitment is made and the thing is under way.”
My dear friend Don Vorderman wrote that about the English motoring writer Dennis May, but he was also describing himself.…