Arguably, one of the most iconic cars in the history of cinema is the Mustang from the Steve McQueen’s Bullitt. I can’t say for certain when I first became aware of the car or the movie, as it predates me by over a decade, but at some point in my formative automotive years, the dark highland green ’68 fastback was revealed to me. It wasn’t necessarily life changing, but it had a profound impact on my aesthetic tastes in cars going forward.
The genius of McQueen’s alleged design on the Mustang’s appearance represents everything that is right about automotive styling to me. A stark contrast to the cars of the Fast and Furious franchise; the Bullitt Mustang has nothing to prove. It knows what it is. It knows exactly how cool it is and requires validation from no one. Cars with outrageous scoops and wings seem to be projecting an insecurity to me.
“This is the first and only gasser I can remember ever seeing outside of a car show”. Commenter Preludacris sends us a photo dump of cool cars he’s stumbled across over the past few months. Click through for a few more great finds and smartass commentary from me.
[Ed. note: This wonderful Austin Seven was driven by Matthew Harvey.]
It’s the last day in May, just a few weeks from Midsummer’s Day, but here in the wilds of Cumbria the weather is typically British. Summer is officially on strike. The sun is picketed by remorseless grey lumps hogging its warmth like stubborn trades unionists clustered round a brazier, unyielding and unrelenting.
The clouds may not be waving placards but the persistent drizzle is circumventing our collars. It’s dripping down our necks and sending shivers down our spines as Shop Stewards crying “All out!” must have done to British Leyland’s management in the 1970s.
[Ed. note: Continuation from Balkanized, Part 1. If you haven’t read the first part by Matt Harvey, I recommend you do that immediately. Photos by Darjan Platinovšek –Antti]
Ivan and his new chums climb away out of sight and the burble of their engines dwindles to nothing. For a few seconds there is silence, not a breath of breeze to sully it as we drink in the landscape. Only a few seconds. We still have a good distance to go before we get to our digs just south of Rijeka with an hour and a half until sunset, just enough time to milk this road dry.
Pulling back onto the tarmac we resume the descent alphabetically, Audi first, BMW second, clear air in third. A few more bends and short straights and Darjan spots another lay-by, this time right on the apex of a sharp left-hander but with the promise of rewarding vistas. I slow as hard as I dare, mindful of the sticky master cylinder a few metres behind before easing the A4 over a lip onto an oval of gravel the size of a tennis court.
Aleš tucks in next to us as we reach for phones and cameras to scan the horizon and the islands in between and capture a few slices of the view. Shunning selfies, Darjan grabs his tripod from the trunk and declares it’s time for a group shot as I realize my right foot is resting on a boulder about 18” high. Rock Woollarding it is then! He sets the timer and jogs over to take position before the shutter clicks…
[The following travelogue is a snapshot from a recent roadtrip in Croatia, and the penmanship and photography is by the inimitable Matt Harvey. Additional photos by Ales Zorko. -Antti]
We leave the highway at Karlovac about twenty minutes outside of Zagreb, taking the road south towards the Plitvička National Park. We’re a ragtag little convoy comprising a Croatian on a Kawasaki ER-6N, a wild, nomadic Finn and a Slovenian in a restored ’89 BMW 325i Touring with yours truly and another Slovenian in a 2004 Audi A4 1.9 TDi that has uprated brakes, suspension, sticky tyres and an engine remap. Like I said – ragtag.
It is the Sunday of the May Day holiday weekend, and so of course the roads are packed. While most of the traffic is heading home and therefore in the opposite direction, it still means overtakes are few and far between. The presence of the nimble bike up front able to radio back to the cars makes little difference; a stubborn native in a red van is slowing us to truly pedestrian speeds except on the straights where he boots it. The bastard.
Mid-afternoon and we pull over in Rastoke, a pretty spot with waterfalls and a bar perched on the edge of the river gorge. We stretch legs and take on fluids. “Don’t worry,” our Croatian host assures us, “It’s going to get better, in a little while.”
Hey, I figured you guys might be interested in seeing these pics.
I was driving through La Junta, Colorado (generally a less than remarkable town on the plains of eastern Colorado) yesterday, and I passed a dozen or so Unimogs in one place. Naturally I had to stop. Turns out the guy who owns the place runs a Unimog dealership/specialty mechanic. He imports some of them, and others he buys already imported. He said the 02-06 are easy, because they were made available for US import (I didn’t know that), but that he gets quite a few that aren’t 25 years old but have been able to get around that rule and are road legal with titles. Inside the shop was his personal collection (I didn’t get any pictures…), he had a 63 Unimog, another one from the 70s, as well as a Lamborghini Diablo and a beautiful 56 Studebaker Golden Hawk. The Hawk was actually the guy’s grandmother’s, and when she passed away in the 60s his dad got the car, and then sold it in 69. This guy found it 5 years ago- the same exact car, and bought it.The one that intrigued me the most (me being a firefighter) was the Unimog turned fire engine. The owner said that the BLM in Nevada had six or so Unimogs they were trying out. I don’t know if they still had any, but this guy had two of them (the other one is the one in lime green with no back- the whole fire engine body had been removed). The one still assembled was fully functional, and he was trying to sell it to a fire department. One cool thing was that it had a dozer blade on the front, so not only could you flow some water from the engine, but you could cut some serious fireline with it. That’s a pretty rare combination- usually engines and dozers are two separate pieces of equipment.
The guy was pretty cool and seemed happy to take a few minutes to chat to someone else who at least knew what a Unimog was. So if anyone is ever passing through La Junta, I would encourage them to stop it. The shop is right on US-50, just look for all the Unimogs, you can’t miss it.
Anyway, sorry for some of the pics being lousy, all I had with me was my phone.
Hope you like them, feel free to use them and anything I’ve written for the site if you want to.
[Ed. note: This thoughtful piece is submitted by Matt Harvey, a fellow petrolhead I usually meet near and at the Nürburgring. He drives a turbodiesel BMW E46 and an MX-5 Phoenix, even if he does that on the wrong side of the road from where I’m looking. Also, pay notice to that licence plate up there –Antti]
My oldest friend is a guy called Tony. We met at school aged 8, and while life has over the years caused us to spend much time apart, we are still bosom pals.
Amongst the things that cemented the bond of our friendship was a love of cars, although Tony’s frequent dabbling in homotorcyclism was a lifestyle choice, to which even to this day I have never felt myself inclined to subscribe.
One of our earliest shared passions was the Rover SD1. Launched not long before we met, its rakish, futuristic looks stirred something deep within our respective, pre-pubescent souls – a car that could very well have been designed to showcase what the future would bring, alongside monorails and meals in tablet form. We were too young to know that its origins in a broken Britain, riven with industrial strife, meant it was no more reliable than a whore’s smile or that its design cues aped those of the Ferrari Daytona in ways that would mean lengthy litigation in more modern times. All we knew, as 8 year olds, was that it was cool, very cool and that we both wanted one.
Years passed, we left school, went our separate ways and got on with our lives. In my head my passion for the SD1, like its numbers on the roads, dwindled into almost nothing. But not for Tony. Almost a quarter of a century after our first meeting – and, I suspect, against the express wishes of his dear spouse – Tony bought one.
It was a frigid 62-degree morning in San Diego, and I found myself on the cusp of being late for a 7am meeting. Normally I’d pray before trying to turn the key, but my MR2 had been unusually well behaved lately, and I left my holy water/glycol mix upstairs. True to its newfound form, it started promptly, and was soon zipping (ok, puttering) down the road to the office, all 112 of Toyota’s finest horsepower present and correct.
The AW11 MR2 had long been a bucket list car of mine, and after returning to San Diego from a disastrous stint with a NASCAR team, I searched high and low for a suitable example. I wanted a car close to daily-driver status, but with enough foibles to be cheap and keep me busy on weekends when I wasn’t racing. It took several weeks and four or five dead ends before I found my car, a cocaine-white 1987 model with 300,000 miles, 30 degrees of free play in the steering, and a distinctive three-cylinder warble. The seller had priced it optimistically, but he consumed an entire six-pack while I was inspecting the car, so I forked over 60% of the asking price and bolted before he changed his mind and/or found his shotgun.
Today’s Submissions Thursday Submission comes from Estlin Link. He’s a 24 Hours of LeMons hanger-on and will be writing up profiles of various entertaining LeMons teams.
24 Hours of LeMons racers range anywhere from Michael Schumacher wannabes to the “I just fixed my car with duct tape” kind of guy. That diversity is exactly why LeMons has gained such popularity; serious racers want two days of wheel-to-wheel racing while average guys with a full time job just want to go fast around a track in a car they built with some friends in a dirty garage while kinda drunk. It’s hillbilly engineering meets club racing.
Just by looking at their name you can tell the Sorry for Party Racing crew are the kind of guys who’ve mastered the art of balancing racing and relaxing. SFPR team member Dean perfectly illustrates what the team is about: “We definitely are in it to have fun; I often remark that there is a fine line between life of the party and the world’s biggest douchebag and I am happy to report we are on the right side.”
Seemingly in full agreement, the Hooniverse preview for the last race had this prediction for SFPR: “Will they win? Maybe. Will they have fun? Definitely.”