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Friday
Apr102015

Road Read: The Man Who Saved the Union

By Christopher A. Sawyer 

Anyone who has read the book reviews on this site knows that we review more than books about planes, trains and automobiles. Often we go off the beaten path, as shown by the very first review, which was of Steven Tyler’s autobiography, “Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?” That’s because it was decided early on that car people are more well-rounded than their critics contend, and are interested in a variety of subjects. That, and we needed an outlet for all of the books we were reading on cross-country trips for new car launches. 

One of the latest books, H.W. Brands’ The Man Who Save the Union: Ulysses S. Grant in War and Peace, was picked up on a whim at a discount store, and as a follow on to another discount bin find, Bruce Chadwick’s 1858: Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant and the War They Failed to See. This book set the stage, and painted many of the people enumerated (and the Democratic Party) in less than flattering colors. And though it did not deal with Grant in any real depth, it got me wondering if there wasn’t more to this Civil War general turned President of the United States than modern “consensus” history would have you believe. 

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Friday
Mar272015

Lister Re-enters Production, Competition

Lister Cars has completed the first customer “Knobbly” continuation racer at its Cambridge, U.K. production facility. Built to the same specifications as the 1958 original, it uses the same drawings and manufacturing jigs as the late Brian Lister did to create the original car. It is the first of 10 customer cars to be built, all of which have been sold. Should demand warrant, a further three Knobbly racers will be built.

The cars are built to meet the relevant FIA racing regulations, and are powered by a race-ready 3.8-liter Jaguar straight six producing 330 hp. This is enough to propel the car from 0-60 mph in 4.3 seconds and on to a top speed of 181 mph. Customers will be able to compete in a series of historic Lister race events this year. — CAS


Friday
Feb272015

Be Your Own Squire

By Christopher A. Sawyer 

Just 21 years old when he founded Squire Motors Ltd. (later renamed the Squire Car Manufacturing Company), Adrian Squire dreamed of building a stylish grand prix racer for the road. Two- and four-seat models were built, each powered by a Squire-badged, Anzani-built 1.5-liter twin cam four. These expensive little engines could be ordered naturally aspirated or supercharged, and the cars had a reputation for their top speed and exceptional braking. Unfortunately, they were as expensive as a Bugatti, and production ended in 1936 with fewer than 10 cars built. Soon thereafter, Squire went to work for Lagonda and was working for the Bristol Aeroplane Company when he was killed during a bombing raid on the plant. He was just 30 years old. 

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Friday
Feb272015

Classic Modernity

There’s no longer any excuse for getting lost when driving your 901-993 series Porsche 911, 914/916, 924/944/968 or 928 now that Porsche Classic has introduced a retro-look navigation radio for these cars.  Designed for their DIN-1 slots, the unit is operated via two knobs, six integrated buttons and a touch-sensitive 3.5-in. screen. The maps are stored on microSD cards with eight gigabytes of memory, and are regularly updated.

In addition to the superior radio reception and navigation functions, the navigation radio has interfaces for a number of external audio sources that can be controlled from the touch screen. Plus, you can connect your smartphone via Bluetooth. The unit also has a built-in microphone, and comes with an external microphone as well. An integrated amp delivers 4 x 45 watts, and can  be connected directly to loud speakers or  the original sound system via an optional adapter cable. 

Though currently available in Europe through Porsche Classic Partners or Porsche Classic Centers at a cost of $1,340 (including VAT), units suitable for the U.S. are in the final stages of testing. Availability and pricing will be set once that is complete. CAS


Friday
Feb272015

Naked Power!

By Christopher A. Sawyer

Since January 10, The Henry Ford has run Engines Exposed!, a look under the hood of selected cars in its on-display collection. A few cars with open hoods scattered about doesn’t sound too exciting, but it is surprising how much more interesting such a small change can make to an otherwise static display. More than 40 vehicles have been thus exposed, from the truly expensive to the technically interesting to the prosaic; each with its own special story to tell. 

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