Category: Automotive

The Greatness of Alex Tremulis: A Car Designer from Another Era (1)

The Greatness of Alex Tremulis: A Car Designer from Another Era (1)

My Tremulis piece was pub­lished in full in The Auto­mo­bile, March 2020. 

“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.”…

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Cole Porter and a Vanished Culture: Brewster and Mussolini

Cole Porter and a Vanished Culture: Brewster and Mussolini

 “You’re the top: You’re a Brewster body”

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!

Brew­ster and Com­pa­ny was a car­riage mak­er found­ed by James Brew­ster in New Haven, Con­necti­cut in 1810.…

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Don Vorderman 1930-2018: The Best Editor I Ever Had

Don Vorderman 1930-2018: The Best Editor I Ever Had

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.”…

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