Archive for May, 2009

The Hudson of Coincidence, a Doug Adams experience

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

My current photographic project —  http://chazimages.com/current-projects.php — is putting more meat on the bones of my Automotive Art Forms  http://chazimages.com/sculpture.php.  These classic cars are beautiful to look at, but they also all have interesting and unique histories.  That entails more research on new entries and sharing of that history along with the images.

 

So, just the other day, I was working in the garage when one of the neighborhood walkers stopped to chat.  I knew he was a kindred spirit when he identified as a Corvette Stingray the shrouded shape in the shadows of my garage.  He further validated his credentials when he listed some of his former rides (my favorite, a Fiat 500!)  My current neighborhood has not seemed as “car aware” as my last.  Cars here seem to be more like appliances or status symbols; where as, back in the old neighborhood a lot of the Saturday afternoon socializing revolved around cars and garages.   But now, a ray of hope!  I  don’t know if I will ever find a garage buddy to share beers and wrenches again (unless Peter Egan moves into the neighborhood), but at least I know there is “car talk” to be had.

 

Ray (the neighbor walker) was full of information about local car shows and other interesting automotive resources.  And most remarkably and coincidentally, he is the source of the “Hudson of Coincidence”.  He sent me a link to a You Tube automotive subculture http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FB6apYb5mJI&feature=email , “TheOriginalWheelsTV.  Chuck Derer, the producer, has recorded interviews with numerous car fans and made them available on You Tube.  They are at least as interesting as those by Jay Leno on Jay Leno’s Garage, but without the annoying lead in commercials.

 

The “Hudson of Coincidence” occurred when I viewed the You Tube clip on the Hudson Italia.  What an interesting, unique, and rare car.  And it so happens that I was at the time struggling with an image from an AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America) show of a couple of years ago.

Wouldn’t yah know it, it’s a Hudson Italia.  True to the You Tube clip, it’s in the original, and only factory color, Cream.  This is a very rare car; only 26 were built, and only 5 are known to exist today.  Luck would have it that I now have seen 2 of the 5.  There you have it; a lucky conversation, a fellow enthusiast, a cool new link, progress on my Automotive Art Form histories.

Rental cars don’t always suck

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

Warren Brown is an enthusiast with the unenviable job of writing about cars to an audience of mostly non-enthusiasts – Washington Post readers.  This is a newspaper whose only automotive sports coverage is the occasional NASCAR fisticuff.  Today Warren wrote about bottom feeder rental cars  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/01/AR2009050101603.html .  That got me thinking about my own experience with rental cars.

 

My favorite recollection is of the 1986 timeframe, when I was torn between buying a BMW 3 series and a Merkur.  BMW, back then as now, was considered the pinnacle of sports sedans.  I wanted one badly, but I had also read good things about the Merkur.  Sir Jackie Stewart had helped with the suspension tuning, and a friend had one he loved.  I discovered that Merkurs were available from a rental company, so I rented one for the weekend.  I took off to Pennsylvania and couldn’t stop driving!  The rental was on a fixed mile basis and I ended up with a big mileage penalty, but I also ended up buying the Merkur.  I loved that car, put 170K miles and 18 years on it, and only gave it up for a modern Mini.  Oh yeah, and with sales desperation discounts, I saved nearly $15K over a BMW.

 

Countering that experience was an early Hyundai my wife and I rented in Boston.  This car was so bad that we returned it to Logan Airport, driving thru terrible traffic in both directions, to exchange it for something acceptable.  And, in spite of recent great press for the brand, I still maintain a resistance against ever buying one.

 

Swinging back to the positive side, my son and I rented an early Chevy Malibu in Portland, OR a few years ago.  This was before the automotive press had discovered it.  We had a ball hammering it on the way out to the Oregon coast and then inland to Mt. St. Helens.  This was one of the few times I can remember crying Uncle! as a passenger.  But then I never have been a fan of steep drop offs.  Both of us concluded that this was a really nice, inexpensive, sporty sedan with plenty of pep (we had one with a 6 cylinder engine).

 

I also recollect a friend and I, each in our own rental Ford Fiestas, hanging it all out on Mulholland Drive, in LA.  Back then Mulholland had long stretches of dirt and we both felt like FIA World Rally drivers.  That was a car you could abuse terribly and it would still come back for more.

 

And, finally, who could forget the original “Rent-a-racer”, the Hertz GT350.  See my March 2009 blog entry on Marlboro Raceway.

 

So, Warren, bottom feeders may be the bane of today, but rental fleets of the past offered up some really great rides.