We Owe A Debt Of Gratitude To Early Luxury Automotive Products

You may well have noticed gorgeous, massive cars in classic movies. What happened to these car makers? Were they innovators or just producers of boats or other monstrosities of little innovative value? Sort of like big tank S.U.V. trucks in these days of $ 3 a gallon gasoline. Indeed you may have spotted such cars as the Italian made Isotta Fraschine in classic movies such as the movie “Sunset Boulevard” which starred Gloria Swanson. These cars were not only the highest end Isottaluxury models of their days but they introduced early on many advanced features into cars as well as moving ahead and reinforcing standards of reliability and durability of motor vehicles. The thin edge of the wedge even then. Back in 1929 when the Tippo 8A primo motor car was delivered to its first waiting owners , the automotive name and models if Isoto Fraschini were held in the same breath , prestige and level as those of Rolls-Royce and Hispano-Suiza. The story starts in Milan, Italy thirty years earlier when Cesare Isotta and Vincenzio Fraschino joined forces and went into the “newfangled” car business.

At that time Italy was a poor country, they soon realized that with their limited car market, and luxury car market the need, indeed the necessity to export their products. The enterprising partners first shipped a car to the United Sates in 1902 and established the Isotta Import Company in New York just five years later. In 1908, Isotta won Sicily’s super tough Targea Florio race and notched up more than several important auto races in America. Two years later, the Italians launched the mighty KM model, which sported 10.6 liter, four cylinder, and sixteen valve engine. It would storm along at 90 mph at a time when few aircraft could achieve that in flight.

After World War I, Isotta Fraschini decided to concentrate on the lucrative and prestigious luxury end of the automotive market. The 5.9 liter Tipo 8 arrived in 1909 – powered by the world’s first series production straight eight engine, and was later joined, then replaced by the Tipo 8A. Customers purchased a chassis and ordered whatever body tickled their fancy from a coachbuilder. The well known high end coachbuilder of the time Sala and Castanga accounted for most of them. Others built to the likes of Fleetwood and Barker.

One of the lighter and more powerful Super Spinto versions of the *A finished sixth in the first Mille Miglia , driven by none other than Count Maggi , one of the 1000 –mile road race founders and originators. He was accompanied by Bindo Maserati. Bindo and his brother Alfieri were then working for Isota Fraschini as testers. Most of the parts for the first Masaerati cars were made at Isotta’s factory on Via Monterosa in Milan.

Launched in April 1931, the Tipo 8B is generally considered as Isotto Fraschini’s finest automobile product. It offered more performance than its predecessor. About 950 of these fine motor vehicles were manufactured and sold. The Tipo 8B Automobile product line encountered strong opposition from the likes of Rolls-Royce, Hispano and Bugatti. By the mid nineteen thirties the Isotta Frascnini car production system and enterprise was out of the automobile business. It made a isotta-1short comeback after the time period approximately of the post Second World War II period when the Tipo 8C Monterosa appeared to a fanfare of postwar trumpets. The Post World War II Tipo 8C Monterosa was a most interesting concept car of its time period – a very big car with a V-8 engine its tail. Rather unbelievably, or perhaps we owe a debit of gratitude to these early luxury automobile innovators and producers in that what we take today for automotive vehicle features , engineering as well as reliability started early on with the expectations of purchasers of these luxury automobile products.

3 American Performance Cars

Bear with me as I step back in time to formulate what I believe are three terrific American built performance cars: the Ford Mustang, the Dodge Challenger, and the Chevrolet Camaro. Currently, only the Mustang is in production with the Challenger coming back by 2009. GM hasn’t committed to building the Camaro just yet, but the company is likely to make a decision in ford_mustang_shelby_gt500_f1_10favor of the car and its sibling, the Pontiac Firebird, by this summer. So, what is it about American performance cars that set them apart from the rest? In one word: muscle. Read on as I compare and contrast these three vehicles and share with you my feeble attempts to explain the culture behind the cars.

So, you think I forgot the Chevy Corvette and Dodge Viper when talking about performance cars? No, I did not. Both models are performance cars as well as race cars. On the other hand the Mustang, Challenger, and Camaro are mass produced performance cars with muscle. There is a difference in the way a typical race car handles, rides, and performs vs. a muscle car.

Typically, a muscle car was a coupe version of some of the larger cars that were pervasive on U.S. highways in the 1960s and 1970s. The Mustang and Camaro, however, were designed separately [although they both heavily borrowed parts from other models] and these “pony” cars were a category all to themselves. For comparison’s sake, they join the Dodge Challenger, a performance version of Mopar cars of its time. All three were compared by critics of that time and all three will once again be compared in a few years when production has been ramped up.

Ford Mustang -– Step back in time with me to April 1964 to an era when America was heavily involved in the space race, Lyndon Johnson was president, and General Motors ruled autodom. Ford, for its part, had been nipping at GM’s heels for years, but the failed Edsels of the late 1950s had cost the company dearly. Still, it was the time of the New York World’s Fair and Ford used the fair and television technology to promote its newest offering, the Mustang. A 2+2 coupe borrowing parts from the Fairlane and Falcon, the 1964 ½ model was the first one sold and is widely credited with being the best introduction of a new vehicle ever. With a V6 engine standard and V8 optional, the all new Mustang quickly broke sales records and has been a hot seller ever since. Indeed, with the introduction of the “retro” look Mustang in 2005, the car once again has spawned interest in the muscle car segment as both DaimlerChrysler and General Motors craft competing models of their own.

Dodge Challenger -– After the success of earlier muscle cars including the Dodge Charger and Plymouth ‘Cuda, the Dodge Challenger was launched as a 1970 model. The car borrowed heavily from the ‘Cuda although the sheet metal was Dodge Challengersomewhat different and the wheelbase was stretched by a couple of inches. Because the muscle car era was in decline at the time of its introduction, the Challenger lasted only five model years before it was cancelled. The concept Challenger currently on display at many auto shows is based on the 1970 design and is the talk of message boards and blogs across the nation. Look for Hemi powered engines as being favored by many owners; the car is likely to share some technology with the current Magnum wagon and Charger sedan.

Chevrolet Camaro — GM was asleep at the wheel when the Mustang came out. It took nearly three years before the company could respond and when it did the Camaro and Pontiac Firebird were the result. Although both cars sold well over the years, neither one could match the Mustang’s sales levels and by the time the last cars were sold in 2002, production dropped to a trickle. Still, the end of the Camaro after 35 years has stirred renewed interest in the name and thanks to the retro Mustang, the entire muscle car category is growing once again. Look for a 2010 Camaro to be the first Camaro since Camaro2002; a ragtop version is also being considered.

So, just who can be expected to purchase a muscle car these days? People just like me: middle aged men who grew up with the original models. In addition, a whole new generation of younger drivers tired of the “me too” look of so many of the compact cars out there. Muscle cars of today are so much different from earlier era cars as they incorporate the look of the originals while harnessing today’s technology. Thus, fuel savings will be decent without sacrificing performance: a true win-win situation.

No, I cannot wait to see a Mustang, Challenger, and Camaro lined up at a traffic light waiting for the light to turn green. A new muscle car era is upon us and for that I am very excited.

Limited Maintenance Agreement

Keeping up proper maintenance of your car can be a hassle.  That’s why Car Credit Tampa takes the guesswork out of it for you.  With their new Limited Maintenance Agreement, Car Credit will take care of the basic needs of your car so you don’t have to worry about it.  For the first year that you own your car, Car Credit Tampa will:

  • Change the oil and the filter every 6000 miles or 8 months, whichever comes first
  • Inspect your brakes, including replacing brake pads and/or drums, resurfacing or replacing brake rotors and/or drums, rebuilding or replacing brake calipers, and rebuilding or replacing the brake master cylinder, every 6000 miles or 6 months, whichever comes first
  • Inspect your belts every 6000 miles or 6 months, whichever comes first
  • Give your car a tune up at any time within the 12 month period, and will replace spark plugs, ignition plug wires, coils, and fuel filters as needed

This agreement lasts for a whole year after you buy your car from Car Credit, and covers you even after accidents up to 20% of the value of your vehicle.  And the best part is that it comes with every car that Car Credit sells, so you never have to worry!