Rare Car Makers: Germany

(This is the 1st in a series on small, rare, or unheard of vehicle manufacturers around the world. We will be covering major manufacturers also, but with familiar household names we will look for things you might not know. For now, enjoy this post about German automakers you’ve probably never heard of. As always, if you know something we missed please post a comment.)

Germany

Everyone has heard of the big vehicle manufacturers like BMW, Mercedes Benz, VW, Audi, Porsche. All have earned a reputation for exceptional quality. It would be fair to say, if price is your only motivator, don’t start your shopping at the German auto lot. Some of you are probably even familiar with Opal. Here are a few we bet you haven’t heard of. 

Alpina

As with many of the car companies we’ll cover, Alpina doesn’t manufacture a line of vehicles so much as they customize and improve upon the work of other car makers. In the case of Alpina, their car of choice is BMW. 

Born in 1965, they operated completely independently for roughly five years. After taking the 1970’s off, Alpina came back with a more formal relationship to Bavaria motors–their mission; modernize BMW cars. Unlike an independent car tuner, or customizer, Alpina upgrades intereriors and engines of BMW cars. 

Gumpert

Again, we’re taking the widest possible definition of auto-maker for this series. The Story of Gumpert (Gumpert Sportwagenmanufaktur) is the story of Roland Gumpert, formerly of Audi Sport. 

They were founded in 2004 in Altenburg Germany, when Roland worked with the Munich technical university and Ingolstadt university of applied sciences to create a full-size Apollo model. There are currently two models of the vehicle and the company is headquartered in Denkendorf, Germany, employing roughly 45 people. 

This company exists because of Project  “Apollo.” Gumperts vision was a street legal car that could hold its own on a racetrack. When the first full sized prototype was tested, drivers raved about it. In series 11 of Top Gear the Apollo set a track record that would stand for three years. 

Mansory 

Mansory is a more traditional car tuning company. What makes them unique isn’t that they work on high end vehicles, so much as that they can take the vehicle in whatever direction the owner desires. Want a more luxurious luxury car? Sure thing. Want a more off-road-worthy 4×4? Can do. Want a faster sports car? They do that too. When you bought a car that’s already a limited edition, Masonry is who you call to take it from 1 in 100 to 1 of a kind. 

Founded in 1989, with the motto “Discover the Mansory Possibilities,” they’ve been offering complete conversion ever since. 

Smart

On the complete other side of the spectrum…founded in 1994 as a joint venture between automaker Daimler-Benz and Swiss watchmaker Swatch. While swatch ultimately left the project, it continued under the subsidiary Daimler Ag. The idea is a micro commuter car that is fuel efficient, easy to park, but doesn’t skimp on quality. 

The newest Smart Cars are EV’s of course. Shopping for a Smart car feels more like ordering take out than car shopping, but it has a certain market appeal. Their website simply says, what color, and where do you want it?

Maybach

The story of Maybach is almost sad, recently. Established in 1909 as a custom car maker, the company had a long tradition of making custom performance vehicles. Industry giant, Daimler, bought the brand in 1960 and did nothing significant with it until 2002 when they restarted production. Then in 2012 they shut the brand down again, only to bring them back a year later producing what’s essentially an exclusive type of Merc S-series. 

You can see from the picture what Daimler calls a “minimized technoid look.” As for performance and innovation, they don’t brag about it as much as the look. Don’t get us wrong if you want to give us a chance to test drive one, we’ll gladly take you up on it. 

Wisemann

Established in 1988, Wisemann went from making custom hardtops for convertibles to making convertibles–two roadsters and two coupes (MF 3/MF 30 & MF 4/MF 5). The company logo is a gecko, as these cars stick to the ground the way a gecko sticks to the walls. Wisemann makes about 50 bespoke cars a year, which marry British style with German Engineering for an iconic result. See for yourself…

Most exciting is Project Gecko, which will be unveiled later this year, 2022. 

Lesser-known Makers…(I know right?)

Trabant

Wartburg

Trabant means Satellite (roughly) which is what inspired by the Russian Satellite in 1957. Remember Germany used to be split East and West. Trabant is an example of an East German economy car–called a minicar at the time. Details are spars but if you know more than we do, please share. 

Wartburg

Wartburg is another company born in East Germany during the time the wall divided Germany. It actually got it’s start a year before Trabant, in 1956. While they produced cars until 1991 after the 1980’s their cars were not keeping up with modern equivalents from the west. Still their cars have a reputation for being reliable and durable. 

Okay, you’ve really never heard of these…

Here’s some honorable mentions we can’t leave without at least letting you know about them. Again, if you have more info, please fill us in. At the Kicker, we love to nerd out on this stuff. 

  • Bitter (1971) Premium-luxury models
  • Isdera, also Ingenieurbüro für Styling (1983) hand-built high-performance 
  • Keinath makes convertible variants of the Opel Monza and Opel Ascona
  • Apal (since 1999)
  • CityEl (since 1987)
  • Hartge (since 1985)
  • Jetcar (since 2000)
  • Lotec (since 1981)
  • Melkus (since 1969)
  • Pegasus (since 1995)
  • Ruf Automobile (since 1982)
  • Yes! (1999)

Stay tuned for Rare German Automakers Part B where we’ll dive into these really rare auto makers.  

Deadline 2030ish – How Cars May Change

When governments and car companies start planning for 2030 or 2035 they are no longer planning for the long term, but the midterm. The planning centers on getting more green vehicles on the market. Although the planning is technically midterm, they’re trying to look at the long term. Of course, “environmentally sound” is in the eye of the scientist. (Still haven’t found an sound way to mine or dispose of those batteries, have we?)

Cars which run on gas power are known by the acronym ICE for vehicles with an Internal Combustion Engine. The stated goal of this phase a “phase-out” of ICE cars.

The target in California doesn’t include heavier trucks but it does include off-road vehicles.

You will be able to buy a hybrid car in 2030, up until 2035.

52% vehicle sales will be all-electric by 2030, according to the latest figures. The plan is to breed a bunch more Elon Musks who will create another bunch of electric car start-ups by this date which will create this demand (or at least the public’s interest in these companies will create this demand). This distinction may be important. One obvious thorn in this plan is that Elon Musk (the 1st) is already moving his manufacture out of California as its too tax heavy.

A recent survey found that most people surveyed felt that these new start-ups will have a moderate effect on sales. Remember they are called start-ups, but these are also huge businesses selling thousands, even tens of thousands of cars.

Although 91% of those polled support the program (that’s not the same as wanting to buy an electric car by the way), only 77% felt it could be achieved without the subsidy of the government.

Manufacture Innovation Adoption (Er…Absorption)

It’s not the same throughout the industry. Ford and GM only went for a goal of 50% by 2030. Why is that particularly important to pay attention to? Because if history shows us anything in the car business its that these startups will eventually be swallowed up by a bigger company. So why not use the larger company you may ask. Traditionally, large companies get comfortable leading the market and miss opportunities to meet hidden demand. That’s a fancy way of saying they use there market position to sell cars that people don’t really want until people get so frustrated that they go start their own car company that does make a desirable product. After the new car company innovates, the established company buys them out and continues to incorporate the innovation. Okay that’s a pretty radical depiction of the situation, but on some level its true.

State Incentives

It seems that only a few states are currently offering real incentives for drivers of electric vehicles, such as Arizona, California, Colorado and Texas. Florida is the most populous state which is currently not considering an electric car revolution.

The margin of error for the studies of market adaption is somewhere between 20% and 90%, which is a wide to the point of being meaningless. Does it all come down to the mindset of the American consumer? Yes. Is the consumer fickle? YES!

The Rest of the World

It is a worldwide problem. China and Japan will also undergo a steep climb in car sales over the same period. Japan has plans to achieve total electric cars by the 2030s (though doesn’t give an exact year). They also plan to be totally carbon neutral by the year 2050.

Looking at French speaking Canada, the light duty ICE vehicles will no longer be on sale in Quebec. Something that may confuse you is the omission of a distinction between electric and hybrid vehicles. There is a rebate offered if you rent or purchase an electric vehicle (this offer does seem to differentiate between electric and hybrid) but it is unclear if this rule will remain in place by the end of the decade.

It remains to be seen how serious the governments of the world are. Also, it’s likely that the lack of distinction between hybrid and EV is owed to politicians hedging their bets against Consumers who aren’t ready to limit their travel to only 300 miles at a go.

Tesla and Mercedes Reliability

You can always rely on Tesla and Mercedes Benz right? Wrong. Despite an increase in their technical ability these are two cars which sit at the bottom of the Auto Reliability Report.

It gets worse though. The report investigates in excess of 300,000 cars and compares how they perform.

To be fair, the list is not comprehensive to all cars. They’re attempting to compare Apples to Apples, so they only include car models that were introduced within the past three years. (Any car brand which has had a major redesign can only have the redesigned car or cars investigated.) So basically this isn’t attempting to compare the reliability of new Tesla to a 1969 Ford Pinto or something. We’re talking about reliability issues when compared to other new model cars.

There appears to be problems with high technology – the digital controls are a headache for some people to understand. Exactly why some fairly inconspicuous things such as door handles keep being redesigned seems to be another mystery. In other words, designers and engineers still struggle with what the public will consider user friendly.

The study of making something intuitive is called UXUI and it’s been a chronic struggle in all technology reliant fields for many years.

So with all excuses, er, valid reasons, and caveats now listed, here are the findings.

The Tesla Model Y has the unfortunate honor of being one of the 10 least reliable cars, which includes how the paint reacts to stimulus, the climate system and so on. Yet many people still want to buy a Tesla.

There have been complaints of various scratches on the paintwork, creaking doors and even rattling heard while driving. These aren’t major issues, but they will be annoying for any owner. Certainly, it’s not what you may expect from a luxury car.

The noise problem specifically, may be a symptom of another common complaint– “panel gaps.” A panel gap happens during the car’s construction. The car’s various panels, such as the roof, each of the doors, the hood and so on can only have so much room between it and the next panel or it will result in weird noises when driving. There is a special instrument which measures how much panel gap there is.

RepairPal marks the Mercedes Benz as average, which although makes it a typical car isn’t what you expect from a Merc. They cost an average repair cost of $908 per year which is, it turns out, the average cost of repairing a car. One might expect to pay more to fix a luxury car, but to have less frequent cause to repair them. Only 13% of all repairs are severe but that’s generally the case with all repairs from all makers studied.

Again, this is a new car, not one you bought off a teenager who modified it for street racing or something.

The cost of ownership is related to reliability – how likely it is to break down – and how much it costs when it does. To put a spin on the problems with Mercedes, at least people aren’t experiencing out of the ordinary repair bills. It’s the normal repair bills which are the problem.

In tests the BMW performs better than the Merc. According to the Reliability Index, the Mercedes Benz is rated about the same as a Jeep, which sounds all right, until you realize that a Jeep isn’t a luxury brand, so it could be argued that paying more for prestige didn’t also buy you a better vehicle. Based on these numbers you’re better off buying a Jeep and saving up the rest for repairs.

So, if the prestige is what you care about, you are still okay. So that means Mercedes Benz neither overdelivers nor underdelivers.

Not everyone agrees with this assessment – after all the Mercedes E-class was the 2021 Car of the Year including quality of the ride. The ride quality is to do with how well the car deals with road surface looks, rather than the aesthetic nature of the dashboard or how comfortable the car seat looks. So, we aren’t being very fair if we indicate that Merc buyers are only going for prestige. Quality is in the eye of the car buyer and your decision could be based on your own list of criteria.

Our only challenge is the perception many buyers have, that luxury cars are “better quality,” which may or may not be true if you’re viewing it through the lens of the repair bill.

Fluid Dynamics and Cars

Rumpler Tropfenwagen

Nerd alert: as in were going to talk physics but I promise it won’t get too complicated.

What actually accelerates a car? Well there is the driver and the tires and so on, but technically acceleration is any change in velocity, and velocity is speed in a single direction. So the steering wheel accelerates you around a corner and the brakes technically accelerate you to a stop.

The air around a car exerts force on it as well. To improve the speed and fuel economy of a car you will have to look at fluid dynamics. Dynamics is the science of mechanics where objects are pushed or pulled around by forces. Mechanics is the science of anything moving or in motion.

We don’t think of air as a fluid but every gas is essentially a fluid for the purpose of studying how it flows or is moved through. Newton’s second law says motion…okay, okay, we’ll knock it off. You get the picture.

When viewing the pictures in this post it helps to know two things:
1st that aerodynamic cars are more like concept cars–not practical for large scale production despite the hopes and dreams of the designers.
2nd that air is not only pushed out of the way in an efficient manor but the manor in which the air collapses behind a fast moving object can also create drag.

Are you still with us?

The History of Aerodynamic Designed Cars

Amazingly, the first car built with aerodynamics in mind appears to be in the 19th Century. Created by Camille Jenatzy (who was also known as the Red Devil) it reached 50mph, which though nothing special today, was the fastest a car had ever gone at the time. 

Camille Jenatzy – Jamias Contente

The vehicle which broke the record, La Jamias Contente, which translates as Never Content looks bizarre to modern eyes and was probably extremely out of the ordinary when it was manufactured too. It was a battery powered vehicle rather than using gas or diesel. The position of the driver was incredibly high.

Although the bodywork looks as if it were made from aluminum it is actually a light alloy called partinum, a compound of aluminum, tungsten and magnesium. Where this car succeeded an fluid dynamics it failed as car. Not good at steering so roundabouts were out of the question.

Remember the Rumpler Tropfenwagen? No. We don’t blame you. It’s a weird name for a car only remarkable in the context of earodynamic design. Named after its creator Edward Rumpler, who looked at the natural world for inspiration shaping the car like a water droplet. Even today many cars are droplet or bubble shaped. A drop shape isn’t the most aerodynamic of designs-else all racing cars would be shaped that way–it’s an excellent example of the use of aerodynamics in the vintage period.

Tatra 77

Another early car which used aerodynamics was the Tatra T77, created in 1946 by Paul Jaray. Paul Jaray was an engineer who also designed airships and seaplanes and one of the first people to use wind tunnels in car design. Although more conventional looking than the Jamais Contente it still used strong mechanical principles. The Tatra would pave the way for further Volkswagen (motor company) designs, though not a VW itself.

These days a wind tunnel seems a relic from another era. Now days, design is done through computer modelling. It is expensive to build and maintain a wind tunnel, and with computers you can tweak your car design to adapt to different aerodynamics in an instant, even changing design for a single component change to the car. However, we have these awesome computer models because designers gathered so much data from testing every kind of design they could dream up.

Nowadays it would be unthinkable to design a car for the public without looking at aerodynamics. Maximizing fuel economy and increasing the driving experience ads value to your vehicle just as much as “looking cool.”

The Death of Small Cars?

Small cars may be becoming an endangered species as the subcompact market seems to be declining. Fewer people are spending $20,000 and under on a car according to 2021 figures. These statistics may come as a bit of a shock, given the state of the economy.

People seem to prefer SUVs which are more expensive. Does it mean too many people are following the crowd?

It does mean that those who are after a subcompact are more likely to obtain a bargain, at least until automakers right-size their production.

The loudness of the complaint depends on the share of the market:

Other sources are more scathing, saying that subcompact cars are dead. It’s going a bit far too say Ford, GM and so on. At least publicly, car companies that don’t focus on passenger cars are not noticing the decline the way traditional small car manufacturers are.

Ford for example has stopped sedans and hatchbacks and GM has stopped selling the Buick Regal, leading to speculation.

It cannot be a coincidence that the Buick Regal, though technically a midscale car, has been having problems selling. Marketed as a luxury car the Buick Regal had coupe and sedan versions up until 1997 when the market started to resist spending big dollars on anything smaller than an SUV. The official reasons for discontinuing it altogether has been down to contractual reasons, according to the Gmauthority.com website, but whatever it is, it doesn’t look good.

A Decline in Midsized as Well?

It’s a shame that more wagons or coupes aren’t being made this year. To clarify, a wagon is short for station wagon, a car with an extended trunk that in many ways resembles a sedan, and a coupé is a car with a sloping roof and two doors as well as always having a fixed roof.

It’s disconcerting that something like a Cadillac sedan hasn’t been more successful. In China, they have been selling fitfully, but it’s a different story in the Western world. There’s still the CT4 (compact) and the CT5 (mid-size). There is no longer a CT6 or full-sized Cadillac being produced. There have also been more crossover vehicles which would back up the assumption that if commuters are going to buy a smaller vehicle, they at least want a body style that looks like the larger version.

Around the world

Other areas of the Eastern world bear more of a semblance with the Western world. Hatchbacks are now not as popular as they once were and now only make up a third of the market. The micro hatchbacks with names such as “Kwid” and “Alto” are experiencing a particularly heavy dip. Micro hatchbacks are the Indian equivalent of a compact hatchback. 

Sales for the CT6 peaked in 2017 and have been heading down ever since. Some journalists may have popularized it as a “parent car,” but then again didn’t parents also drive jeeps and pick-ups? Almost certainly, but these are unaffected.

The Ford Fusion is also discontinued do to declining sales. Built in a factory in Sonora, Mexico between the years 2006 to 2020. There have also been a number of different variants from gasoline and various types of hybrid. The last Fusion went off the production line in July 2020, just a few months into the pandemic, so it’s difficult to pin the slump entirely on a change of taste in the market. Manufacturing costs also play a role as importing things became more expensive.

It’s sad that smaller cars are disappearing if the only factor is taste. In the end, the market will decide.

Fiberglass Cars and Repairs

Fiberglass is a plastic which is fiber-reinforced using glass fiber. The advantage of using it on cars is that it’s light, tough, inexpensive and rust proof.

The few of the cars with fiberglass bodies include the Chevrolet Corvette as well as the Lotus Daimler and the Rochdale, in addition to several British sports cars.

There are also fiberglass kit cars out there, you will be hard pressed to find a metal kit car.

The Glasper

The cars aren’t completely plastic, they do include items like a metal chassis for example.

Glaspar 2

Using fiberglass has a long pedigree, all the way back to 1951, the first one being the Glaspar 2, built by an engineer more used to creating fiberglass goats, for example the Green Dolphin in 1947.

Fiberglass was known as glass reinforced plastic and marketed as a wonder material so an ideal substance to use.

The Glaspar is a sports car with the chassis of a Willy’s Jeep mixed with a Ford V8. Maybe if it hadn’t gained coverage by Life Magazine it would never have had a run of manufacture by General Motors and have appeared in 1961’s LA Motorama.

Glasper himself went on to create more fiberglass vehicles such as the Lancer and Skorpion, but they didn’t do so well.

Looking for an alternative to Metal

At the time Ford was also looking for alternative materials for making cars such as soya-based products and hemp.

It’s easier to create a car in fiberglass than metal, especially those with complicated curves. It’s biggest selling point is a strong strength to weight ratio, in other words not that strong but strong with it. It’s also harder to paint metal than fiberglass. Applying the layers of fiberglass creates the expense.

There are other selling points in using fiberglass such as the reduction in noise and vibration, which may explain why it was used in sports cars.

Rochdale

It tends to be a product used more by the smaller car manufacturers than the big names out there. It could be possible soon to create a fiberglass car using nothing more than 3D printing.

Fiberglass can be used to create or recreate various car parts; getting a car back after a dent for instance or, failing that, giving the illusion it has. Using fiberglass resin saves an expensive car repair.

Working with Fiberglass

You can adapt a fiberglass mold for various car parts by flattening it slightly or making it taller. It can then be painted. Any particular part can contain up to 3 layers of epoxy resin. After five days the body mold will be cured and is safe to touch.

Any design should start with a drawing so make sure it is done correctly. It’s essential that you don’t pull the mold in only one direction. It’s not an exact science, many people make mistakes.

The disadvantage is that it’s itchy stuff to get on your skin and you don’t want to breath it in—EVER.

Fiberglass is also used in the rubber belts in the engine as well as the brake pads and clutch discs, even the automobile’s insulation.

General Motors Throughout The World

Detroit Renaissance Center

It should come as little shock that the biggest factory in Detroit, based in the Renaissance Center, belongs to General Motors but this isn’t their only plant. How much does it account for in the grand scheme of their manufacturing and just how did GM become such a major player?

Plant Locations:

There are hundreds of factories around the world employing tens of thousands of people. The size of the GM payroll and how widespread it is, could be a reason they’re a major player. Let’s take a closer look at some of these locations.

In the US:

There are more than 100 facilities in cities across the US, including Arlington and Bay City. Of specific note is the Cadillac. These include assembly plants as well as part stamping plants, propulsion component and battery plants. Most, however, are distribution centers. Still, they’re vital parts of the local economies as it gives smaller communities a tie into a global product.

In the internet age it’s hard to grasp how difficult it was for a smaller city to bring in big business with international sales. It took something that required a lot of parts and that sold all over the world in high volume. This could be one reason GM is considered a major player.

Equinox

The GM Defence Concord Facility makes vehicles especially for the army. They have a factory in North Carolina which was previously used to make Chevrolets. GM has a long tie with defense contracts which could be another reason they’re a major business.

Mexico

There are several factories in Mexico, including the Equinox and the Trax. Vehicles such as the Saab and the Oldsmobile used to be made in Mexico. They also make pickups and various other trucks.

Canada

1907 McLaughlin

The link between GM and Canada has a long vintage; all the way back to 1907 when McLaughlin and Buick were contracted to make Buick cars. After successfully making Buicks for several years McLaughlin sold Buick stock in order to obtain a foothold into GM stock. McLaughlin joined GM Detroit, forging a strong link.

The GM’s main center is called the Canadian Regional Centre and works with many countries around the world. Although you may hear of some factories closing, such as one in 2017 it still makes cars such as the Chevrolet and the Pontiac.

Brazil

’78 Opala

General Motors do Brasil began in 1925. It did final assembly from various parts imported from the US and was based in the city of San Paolo. The first car produced was an Opala, a type of Chevrolet.

One million Opalas were made in Brazil, and it was even used by the Brazilian police as well as the taxi service. The name comes from Opal, a German subsection of GM. The first version was a 4-door sedan and was available in “Especial” (Special) and “Luxo” (Deluxe).

Europe

In Europe the General Motors brand has been less than successful with names such as Opel and Vauxhall not actually capturing the public imagination. People seem to prefer the German cars-those being BMW, Merc and VW. The business was eventually sold to the PSA Group who own such names as Citroen and Peugeot.

This was GM cutting their losses—no real way to hide it – and what a loss. According to official figures the venture eventually lost $39 billion. Only a major player can lose $39 billion and survive.

China

In China things appear so much better with promising sales on Buicks, Chevrolets and Baojun and Wuling. Don’t recognize those last two? Don’t feel bad they’re clearly not available in your market. There are several other vehicles brands Westerners won’t recognize.

Baojun Advertisement

Wuling originally made very small vans until it joined with GM in 2002 where it began to manufacture small trucks as well.

Baojun was created a few years after Wuling (in 2010) with the goal to create what was known as “farmer’s cars.” It’s first vehicle looked like a cross between a Chevrolet and a Daewoo and the latest vehicle is a MPV – multi-purpose vehicle with seven seats. They have to their name, a number of crossovers, compacts, and electric vehicles. There are so many Baojuns out there that they could have their own article.

Wuling

If you own a new car in North America, South America or China then the chances are that it’s a General Motors vehicle. The magnitude of the company cannot be easily stated.

Editors Note: Here at the Kicker we’re working with the descendants of legendary Harley Earl to get a story about the early days of GM. His official story can be seen in the documentary, “Fins,” the making of which has tied up our dig into this era of GM (they had the exclusive scoop). But there is more to the story than the film reveals so we’ll be coming to you soon with more on the era of GM’s hay day.

New Car Rules And Guidelines

A new president in the US means new legislation. Specifically the amount of emission of a new car as well as the number of new EV – electric vehicles – on the market.

Congress plans to add $2500 to the amount of credit to US EVs with a possible additional $2500 if unions are involved. This means that more electric vehicles can be made – SUVs. pick-up trucks or whatever.

Joe Biden proclaims himself as “American car guy” but more precisely “American e-car guy”. In 2021 only 5% of all car sales were electric. There also needs to be a massive investment in charging stations. But it’s none too clear where they should be.

Although the path to further electric cars seems a path we will have to follow eventually it is still highly expensive and as a result controversial.

The vehicle metals need to be shipped from abroad. Many US citizens wish this wasn’t so and they were using metals from US mines though it primarily went into battery parts for the US market.

Previously there was a reliance on China for metals, which will be reversed by this legislation. The metal will come from such places as Canada and Brazil.

What will become or 2021?

2021 may seem like a pivotal year with the theme of “Build Back Better,” and it’s great PR to make bold claims, but how do these ideas stack up?

There’s a feeling in the air that it’s something that needs to happen but not exactly right now. Volvo for instance wants to remove combustion engine “tech” by 2030. General Motors wants to remove any emissions from the tailpipe by 2035. It’s not clear if this will be reached because of the 2021 legislation.

One way to tackle gas emissions in an increase in loans and funding, as suggested by the Environmental & Energy Program. There’s a number of costs involved in e-cars, such as expensive lithium batteries and the difficulties in charging the cars, when compared with filling up on gas or diesel it takes too long. Or so the current surveys may suggest…

There are also regulations designed to make passenger cars more efficient and decrease how much carbon dioxide it produces. It also affects light trucks – exactly why heavy trucks are omitted is unclear because the same agency (Corporate Agency Fuel Economy) also deals with larger vehicles. Nor does it seem to affect SUVs or crossovers, again vehicles known for their substantiality over their economy.

When compared to previous initiatives:

NY City Now

In 1970 congress passed the Clean Air Act and established the EPA to champion the cause. According to the EPA’s own site the 1970’s clean air act was a success(https://www.epa.gov/transportation-air-pollution-and-climate-change/accomplishments-and-success-air-pollution-transportation), but it’s noteworthy that US automakers couldn’t meet the standards by the initial deadline. They were nearly impossible to meet, although Japanese automakers Honda made it by the deadline and almost became the only brand allowed to be sold in the US. Congress ultimately extended the deadline giving US makers a chance to catch up.

NY City Pre Clean Air Act

By comparison, these new rules – not exactly laws – seem to have been led by public demand. The previous rules were hard for the companies to use, a far too high standard, these ones seem more realistic. There are always pressures from various quarters to bring down the numbers. Emissions are coming down but it’s not a steep decline.

This standard is expected to stay stable until 2026. They are based on ideas of being “tougher but feasible” according to Congress, ensuring that cars are safe and remain relatively affordable. It’s a compromise but it had to be in order to make progress.

On the subject of progress, there is some way to go. The companies which are agreeing to these changes make up only 30% of all cars sold in the US. Could it be described as only a token victory? Perhaps.

The Glory Days of AMC Cars

Pacer not a Pinto

Without a doubt, the golden era for AMC was the 1970’s, and we mean golden in more ways than one.

A report by the CAP-HPI around five years ago suggested that AMC seventies models with a copper bronze hue or even custard yellow were on the way up. Despite the car industry changing in the intervening years many cars of this vintage remain popular.

Side Note: CAP produces a black book analyses the used car market, similar to Kelley Blue Book only based on large scale market.

Setting Themselves Apart:

AMC, American Motor Corporation, looked to be different than other automakers and came up with an SUV style vehicle, the Eagle. It looked like a cross between an all-terrain vehicle and a passenger car, with a long hood but about the same size as a VW Beetle. They were manufactured by AMC & Chrysler between 1979 and 1987.

It had the alternate name of the Eagle Wagon which makes sense if you see one. According to an article written for Newsweek in 1979 it was the only four-wheel drive passenger vehicle made at the time. It could also be thought of as the first crossover.

Was this a gamble? Possibly, after all there was no established market for such a car. There doesn’t appear to be a genuine effort at market research on AMC’s part, only a prediction that “consumers would embrace a vehicle with the comfort of an automobile (sic) but with capabilities of an all-terrain vehicle.”

The design came from Ray Lunn who was the chief designer for the AMC Jeep. It was given the convoluted code name of “Project 8001 plus Four.” Having a uni-body was vital to the design; a unitized body means a vehicle frame or chassis is purpose made for the car in question. Unibody was not a common thing in ATV’s of the time, since people who like to take their cars off-road also like to pound out dents from going off road—not a strength of the unibody design.

Other AMC Oddities:

In perhaps the weirdest product crossover some Hornets and Gremlins could be ordered with denim interiors in the 1970s created by jean manufacturer Levi. It can’t be the best substance to keep clean though.

The AMC Hornet shouldn’t be confused with the Green Hornet or the Hudson Hornet. As with most of the cars referred to here, it was only produced in the ‘70s. A compact which came as either a sedan, or a station wagon. The Hornet had the same platform as the Gremlin, the Eagle and the Spirit, among others.

Gremlin

The Gremlin has a reputation as an ugly and therefore bad car. In fact, gremlins are mythical creatures that destroy machines so it’s a terrible name for a car line. The truth is the Gremlin was ahead of its time; a sub-compact manufactured in both the US and Mexico by AMC. It was produced a long time before the 1985 film of the same name.

What’s a Matador?

Today we might honestly ask that, but ironically an AMC 1970’s advertising campaign asked, “What’s a Matador?” The twist is that at the time AMC Matador was the car to have, superseding the AMC Rebel. A two-door hardtop, it had the export name “Rambler Matador.” They also became the car used by the LA Police Department for a while.

(Trivia section: What car did the AMC Matador replace? The answer is below.)

One way that the costs were kept down in AMC cars was having parts such as the distributor, starter and carburettor shared with companies like Ford. Not many people realise that AMC manufactured engines for other company’s cars when practical.

In the end, AMC was purchased in 1987 by Chrysler who continued some of the car lines for a few years and then phased them out.

Answer to the question above: The AMC Matador replaced the Plymouth Satellite as the car used by the LA PD.

Why Do We Say “Sports Car”?

What do we really mean when we say sports car? The obvious answer is a car optimized for performance, with a focus on focus on handling and a dynamic appearance. We seldom think about the factors that go into performance which in turn create an iconic look. For example, you may not know that a sports car needs to be low-built (or built low to the ground). A lower car is more has a lower center of gravity and is more aerodynamic. It also makes the car look more attractive.

Why are sports cars pricier than other cars?

One of the reasons is the engine. Another thing is supply and demand, only a few Ferrari f12 tdFs are made. Instead of being marketed to the masses they are sold by invitation only–in order to buy them you need to know the Ferrari family. It’s strange to think of a car as “handcrafted” but this is the way these cars built and sold.

Another reason is that Ferraris maintain their value. One reason they do is that they keep to the same design, a long hood and graceful lines which echo the Ferraris that come before. When you have something of this elegance you don’t change a winning formula. And since they don’t produce a lot of them, we don’t get tired of the look.

We associate sports car with the racetrack but taking something like a Ferrari out for a spin here could do more harm than good. If you ever find yourself in possession of one – if – the general advice is to drive it on the normal road.

As well as Italian cars like the Ferrari, there are a number of French models to watch out for, the Delage, the Bugatti and the Delahaye to name just three.

Classic Sports Cars

Delage D12

The Delage for instance are no longer being made and you probably only see them nowadays in period dramas and films. Created by a designer who worked for Peugeot, strangely the first car only had one cylinder.

Also a Delage D12

From a one-cylinder car in 1906 its founder Louis Delage soon moved on to two and as early as 1909 he had created a four cylinder car mainly used for racing purposes. A year later his factory started creating six-cylinder engines for the mass market.

Specialty Dealerships

Many dealerships specialise in sports cars in order to maximise their profits, though many also sell luxury cars and classic cars too.

Side Note: A classic car has varying descriptions, but people define it as more than twenty years old. More than forty years old with value worth preserving is a more accurate benchmark in our opinion, which is a little obvious if someone is looking to restore the thing.

While there is no easy profits in the car business one key component to a specialty to dealership is matching it to the right location. Okay location, location, location shouldn’t be listed as a surprise for any business, but it’s probably not the first thing you think of when building your dealership. Expensive cars sell better near expensive neighbourhoods. Classic cars sell better near parts of town that already cater to seniors with money.

The Final Surprise/Not Surprise

Because all cars are designed to run safely and smoothly while going fast and look good, it’s hard to list these things as hallmarks of a sports car. However, most cars have some other big priority they need to elevate, like number of passengers or fuel economy. Sports cars prioritize performance, speed, and looks. These types are built for racing and therefore designed to work at speed.

The category of car most difficult to distinguish from a sports car is the luxury car. Both tend to prioritize handling and performance, are often custom built, and come with a high price tag. However, the super high cost is not mandatory in a sports car and a luxury car will prioritize a smooth ride over top speed in a pinch, where sports cars prioritize performance and speed over driver comfort almost routinely.

With a cars as with any consumer good, the real question is, “is there market demand?” Sports cars sell well at every price point, making them a trend likely to continue long into the future.