Taking The Fun Out Of Driving: Who Wants A Silent Car?

Check out the mid-century architectural background for this Volkswagen ad. Along with the iconic Beetle, with its anti-establishment hippie cool, the houses create nostalgia for lost car culture. The ad thus delivers a message about a utilitarian feature—even better gas mileage with a diesel—wrapped in a more memorable emotional contrast: between the fun, playful, powerful, and, yes, noisy Jetta and the boring, dutiful, middle-aged hybrid, which sounds a lot like Darth Vader.

How To Make A Ferrari Look Even More Glamorous

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These two beauties are up for auction at RM Auctions' annual Ferrari: Leggenda e Passione auction, to be held May 17. On the left, we have the 1964 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso Competizione and on the right the 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa (Pontoon Fender). Bellissime!

But as gorgeous as those studio portraits are, they aren't as glamorous as these two other shots, also from the auction's online catalog. The promise of a sleek automobile is not, after all, simply to look beautiful, but to take you somewhere. As Ferrari collector Ralph Lauren puts it, a car represents "an escape, or an entry into wonderful worlds." Escape requires a road, preferably one that looks like it goes somewhere exciting.

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 FF09_r130_01Left: 1959 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder. Right: 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB/6C Competizione Berlinetta on the right.

One proof that California hasn't completely lost its glamour: Ferrari used that storied name for the new grand-touring convertible it introduced last year. This Michael Mann video illustrates where it might take you.

Watch a video of Ralph Lauren's Ferrari collection here. Here's a beautiful book on his car collection, which was featured in a 2005 exhibit at the Boston Museum of Fine Art.

[Photos: 1964 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso Competizione, Michael Zumbrunn; 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa (Pontoon Fender), Darin Schnabel; 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB/6C Competizione Berlinetta, RM Auctions; 1959 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder (LWB),  Darin Schnabel. All courtesy of RM Auctions, used with permission, and not for reproduction.]

Hero Honda Glamour--Ride One And Know What Women Want

The Hero Honda Glamour is a trendy motorbike, marketed to the young Indian urban hipster.

In this commercial, the handsome guy on the bike has developed magical powers--he can read  women's minds. Debraj Mookerjee translates the ad. My favorite part is

He rides past an attractive young mother standing by the kerb with her two children. She pushes them behind her even as he hears her thoughts, “They are my sister’s girls”.

The Glamour Of Speed, Italian Style

Ferrari just rolled out their new F1 car for the 2009 season, the F60. While all Ferrari racers carry some degree of glamour due to their illustrious provenance and the intangibles of terroir that can only come from being designed in Emilia-Romagna, the heart of all things internal combusting, the F60 is a particularly sexy beast:

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New aerodynamic regulations for this year had many of us concerned about the aesthetics of the front and rear wings. While there's a hint of resulting awkwardness in the three-quarter view below, the task of maintaining clear airflow to the rear wing has pushed the designers to devise some very tight -- and curvaceous! -- surfaces across the back of the car.  As a result, the F60 is exceptionally beautiful and delicious.  We needn't have worried.  The good folks at Ferrari know what looks right.

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And did I mention that it's red?

Auto Show Glamour--High Heels And Hemis

Detroit's Big Three need all the help they can get--and who better than  the auto show sirens? Margery Krevsky recounts her 30 years as head of an agency that provides torque-talking temptresses to chat up car enthusiasts at  over 70 shows around the country.  She hires around 300 product specialists a season, most of them women, and besides the usual attributes of good looks and stamina, they have to understand cars.

"If you had cars there with nobody, it wouldn't be an auto show," says Barron Meade, president of Meade Lexus dealerships in Southfield and Utica.

No, it would be a parking lot.

Her new book, Sirens of Chrome: The Enduring Allure of Auto Show Models might make a perfect Valentine's gift for any guy who loves dangerous curves. Like a Corvette.
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Glamour Shots On Four Wheels

With this post, Paige Phelps joins the DG team as a regular contributor. Paige is a Dallas-based style writer and all-round glamour puss, as you can see from her bio here. We're delighted to have her on the team.--Virginia

Gs_purple Remember Glamour Shots?

Come on, admit it, you do. You and your friends (and sometimes your friend’s mom) went to the mall looking like hell--acid-washed jeans, tight-rolled at the ankle (or if it was your friend’s mom, a sweater with holiday icons on it and a broom-stick skirt) and crazy amounts of hairspray in your hair.

But no matter how suburban mall-rat you looked going into Glamour Shots, you always left with photos portraying you as the backlit Queen of Lamé, a woman who knew when to pop her collars and hold them, give a tilted-head nod, and silently seduce the camera lens. That and plus your hair was way bigger than when you went in, which was cool.

Alas, Glamour Shots, still the bastion of fashion glory at small town malls everywhere has updated its look (or, rather, toned it down). Now its shots are no different from any other senior photos. *Sigh*

Don’t worry! Now we have Josh Davis Photography to fill the gap!

From their press release: "Davis and [photographer Heather] Hillard offer glamour photo shoots with the added allure of posing with six-figure dream cars."

Two decades ago, Glamour Shots were all about capturing the "trickle down” wealth that allowed us to splurge on rhinestone necklaces and feather boas. This time around, it’s all about capturing the moment when houses cost a penny, later sold for 10 bazillion dollars, and everyone is (was?) king of their McMansion.

“Whether your blue ribbon ride is a black Ferrari F430, an Aston Martin DB9, or any other dream car you’ve worked hard to attain--you should have it professionally photographed by exotic and sports car photographer Josh Davis.” I love the should.

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Yes, and it only costs you $1,000 (plus travel expenses; posters are extra). BUT if you are in a cash crunch and can't live without a photo of your car (or a close substitute), you might want to consider Josh’s boudoir photography. Fewer clothes for fewer bucks: three hours and your choice of four cars for a bargain basement $699.

I guess this trend all comes down to the fact that secretly we want to be captured for posterity at our sexiest, our richest, our most gaudy--if for no other reason than to tell the world, “I had the time and money to do this.”

My only question is, Like the Glamour Shots of yesteryear, is that something your dad will display at his office? Yowza. That’s one way to get ‘em talking.

The Glamour Of Touring

When I think of glamour. I think Italian. Italian just about everything: suits, shirts, wine, boots, motorcycles, scooters, ties, opera singers, socks, movie stars, purses, beaches, sunglasses, cities with canals, and... cars. Cars cars cars.  The Italians are king of the glamorous car.

Here's a test. Picture a glamorous Italian car in your mind, and then answer these questions (mine are in italics):

  • What color is it?   [RED ]
  • What would it feel like to run your hands over its body?  [CURVACEOUS ]
  • Who is sitting inside of it?  [ A GLAMOROUS COUPLE, DRESSED TO KILL ]

1953_pegaso_z102thrill3_2 The notion of Italian design being red, curvy, and glamorous has much to do with the success of Italian coachmakers during the '50s and '60s.  By creating bespoke bodies for the most expensive cars of the period, these groups of designers and craftsmen created an aesthetic which was at once intensely emotional yet not grossly decadent, for it was rooted in the world of races such as the Mille Miglia, where light weight and slippery shapes meant speed and handling.  My favorite coachbuilder from the period is Carrozzeria Touring, for two reasons.

First, the brand name, and the way the brand name looks in the flesh.  Here's a snap I took of a Touring badge at the Pebble Beach Concours a few years ago:

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Look at that badge.  The wings, the crown, the blue "T", the scroll, and the allusion to the home city of Milan.  Sotto voce, it says "made in Italy" with all that goes with the phrase.  And then there's the "Superleggera" script above it.  This was a masterstroke of branding:  Touring developed a way of constructing car bodies that saved weight and hence added speed.  Over time this method of construction -- "super light" -- became as big as the master brand of Touring, to the point where it required equal billing on the panel of a car.  I love the way the phrase rolls off the tongue, as well as the way its idiosyncratic cursive font is rendered here in polished metal.  So elegant, unique, and beautiful, it positively oozes glamour.  To ride in a car with a Superleggera body is to inhabit the world of a James Bond or a Sophia Loren.

And then there are the car bodies of Touring.  More than just machines for transportation, Touring created one-off pieces of sculpture that by all rights should have a spot in the Hirshhorn.  And so strong was the Touring aesthetic and what it could do for an individual automotive marque that even non-Italian makes got in on the action, too.  Here are three of my favorite Touring-bodied cars, one Italian, one English, and one Spanish:

What beautiful cars.  Especially the Thrill, which is the car pictured in the photo at the top of this post.

The era of Touring is over.  The pendulum has swung, and I'd wager that the next decade will be one of extreme rationalism, as "pure" shapes such as the Mercedes-Benz Bionic win in a market looking for extreme efficiency and minimal carbon footprints.  As such, they're the right solutions for the time.  I'm excited by the new Chevy Volt, and I see the need for the football-shaped Prius, but they're not glamorous.  I'm more than a little sad to see the passion go.  Red cars with curvy bodies whooshing their nattily-clad occupants through the night, well, that was glamour.

Fins De Siècle

Next is a black 1957 Lincoln Premiere. The car, whose tailfins were described in sales literature as "canted blades," is generally considered Safari_300dpi to be an unhappy update of the sleekly voluptuous 1956 Lincoln, which marked the beginning of Ford's effort to take on Cadillac as a volume make in the luxury car market. The pointy-finned reworking of Bill Schmidt's award-winning design was accompanied by a slump in sales, but that was just a pothole in the road compared to the cliffside plunge the marque took over the next three years with its immense, bizarrely styled 1958-1960 cars.

Third is a 1957 Pontiac Safari, a deluxe station wagon that shared its underpinnings with the 1957 Chevrolet -- a car whose fins need no Goldenhawk_300dpi introduction, and were certainly more memorable than the Pontiac's busy design.

Next is a 1957 Studebaker Golden Hawk. Marketed as a sort of family-size sports car, with fins tacked onto what started out as a striking (and finless) 1953 design by Raymond Loewy, the Golden Hawk was on a downward trajectory and not long for this world.

The last car in the lineup is the 1959 Eldorado Biarritz, whose towering rocket fins Eldorado_300dpitend to overshadow the fact that the 1959 Cadillac,  along with GM's other offerings that year, established a template for full-size American cars that would last until the mid-1970s. Inspired (and dismayed) by an early glimpse at Chrysler's finned "Forward Look" in late 1956, a group of young GM designers undertook to scrap Harley Earl's plans for the 1959 line, which was not much more than a facelift of the company's baroque 1958 cars. The resulting 1959 Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick and Cadillac managed to out-Chrysler Chrysler, with an even lower, longer silhouette. The "package" -- huge trunk, wide body, headlights brought down from fender tops and into the grille -- set the general dimensions for big cars until downsizing arrived in 1977.

Apart from postage stamps, the public taste for retro automotive styling has been indulged in recent years by actual cars: a Thunderbird two-seater, Chrysler's PT Cruiser, Volkswagen's New Beetle and Ford's new old Mustang. With their popularity in direct proportion to how closely the cars follow the original designs, America wants to know: Can tailfins be far behind?

Buff, Wax, Seal: Surface Integrity

  1. Pre-wash exterior with foam
  2. Rinse under high pressure
  3. Pre-wash wheels
  4. Scrub brake assemblies
  5. Wash wheel arches
  6. Scrub tire treads
  7. Mask engine compartment with foil
  8. Apply soap solution to engine bay
  9. Scrub engine bay
  10. Rinse under medium pressure
  11. Remove foil and idle engine to remove moisture
  12. Apply soap solution to door shuts
  13. Scrub door shuts
  14. Rinse under medium pressure
  15. Hand-wash exterior of car
  16. Rinse exterior
  17. Apply bug remover to front of car
  18. Rinse front of car
  19. Apply soap solution to all exterior trim pieces and rinse
  20. Wipe all exterior surfaces (including wheels) with clay bar to pick up remaining contaminants
  21. Rinse exterior to remove clay residue
  22. Wipe interior painted surfaces with clay bar
  23. Wash exterior with foam
  24. Rinse
  25. Dry with a leaf blower
  26. Drive car with brakes applied to "wipe" corrosion off brake disks
  27. Remove front grills
  28. Mask all edges with blue painter's tape
  29. Calibrate paint thickness gauge
  30. Measure thickness of paint on all panels of car
  31. Examine paint for surface imperfections
  32. Buff 1 micron of paint off of entire car
  33. Buff a further 2 microns of paint off of scratched areas
  34. Wet sand (by hand) remaining trouble areas
  35. Machine sand deepest scratches
  36. Buff sanded spots back to gloss
  37. Remove tape
  38. Apply finish polish to entire car
  39. Use jeweler's rouge to polish glass surfaces
  40. Apply white primer paint to chipped area of paint
  41. Apply final color coat to chipped area
  42. Apply clear coat to chipped area
  43. Run feather duster over entire car to pick traces of polish
  44. Wipe down car with cleaning solution
  45. Apply layer of wax to entire car
  46. Buff wax off with towel
  47. Wipe down surface with cleaner
  48. Apply second layer of wax
  49. Apply leather cleaner to interior of car
  50. Feed leather with balm
  51. Wipe down leather with clean towel
  52. Wax door shuts
  53. Buff off wax
  54. Coat door seals
  55. Apply metal polish to exhaust pipe outlets
  56. Seal surface of exhaust pipe outlets
  57. Seal surface of wheels
  58. Apply tire gel to sidewalls
  59. Buff out tire gel
  60. Polish the license plates
  61. Dust engine compartment
  62. Seal engine compartment with aerospace protectant
  63. Wipe down exterior surfaces with cleaner

That's a lot of steps to get to a truly clean car, but it's probably not that far off of an Academy Awards ceremony beauty regimen.  While Blanchett is most likely a beautiful woman on the worst of her days, we can bet that she'd been at the center of quite a bit of primping and preening on the day of the photo. Glamour, even when it starts from a stunning baseline, often requires a great deal of labor. 

To sum it all up, here's what "unglamorous" looks like:

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And then here's glamorous:

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Same exhaust tip, the difference is a matter of surface integrity. Glamour gives us a chance to believe that there's no such thing as entropy.  It takes us to a state of being where paint doesn't fade, where rust always sleeps, and where bodily functions, sickness, and decay don't matter.  For those moments of extreme glamour -- before you dirty the perfect Gallardo on public roads once again -- I suppose the satisfaction is priceless, because it's as close as we get to a feeling of timelessness.

Trophy Queens Exhibit Honors Glam Gals

Raquelwelchasaracingtrophyqueen Normally, the  Wally Parks National Hot Rod Association Museum in Pomona, California is not considered to be a real must for students of glamour .  (DG's  motorcar maven may disagree, and probably will.)   However, a  new exhibit of rare photos, Trophy Queens,  could be well worth the expedition.

Max Petix explains:

The "Trophy Queens" photo exhibit is a nostalgic look back at cheesecake and champions, from the unidentified flapper with a racer in one photo to the larger than life portrait of Linda Vaughn, the first lady of auto racing, in a leopard-skin bathing suit.

Trophy Queens of the past included actress Jayne Mansfield,  Barbara  Eden of I Dream of Jeannie, and a local model, Raquel Tejada,  better known as Raquel Welch, seen above with Don Cameron,  1956 United Racing Association champion.

If you're going to the LA County Fair, which opens on Friday, you can take in the exhibit, which might be a welcome respite from the search for deep-fried White Castle burgers or the thrills of the pig races. Hey--glamour is where you find it.


(Photo of  Raquel Tejada (Welch),  from collection of Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum.)