The Hovercraft

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Seldom do we seen such a dramatic shift away from one established technology with the arrival of a competing and, often, better new technology or solution – this is described by the cruelly true word of “obsolesce”.

A classic example is the Kodiak 35mm film or the Polaroid camera – see our earlier piece here on the Polaroid Camera – when confronted with the dawn of mass digital photography and the ever increasing pixels of the cameras incorporated into mobile phones demand for these former market leaders collapsed.

The powered or manual ribbon typewriter was rendered redundant by the arrival its victor, the word processor/computer.

An equally dramatic commercial market shift can be seen in the impact that the opening of the Channel Tunnel, in May 1994 and the commencing of its passenger services in November 1994, had on the transport links typified by ferry boats and today’s iconic design, The Hovercraft.

On many occasions from the mid 1970’s to late 1980’s I used the Hovercraft services that ploughed between the Kent coasts and Northern France. Akin to flying, rising up then skuttling across the waves on its air inflated “skirt”, the ride was fabulous – if a little noisy – for the sea-sick prone, like me, who could resemble an emerald before a traditional ferry boat had left the harbour!

Not entirely without predecessors, the Hovercraft is regarded as a British invention of  the late 1950’s when mechanical engineer Christopher Cockerell’s and his colleagues developed an annular ring of air for maintaining the cushion and providing lift under the vehicle, combined with a successful “skirt”, resulted in the first practical vehicular use of the concept.

Initially, until no military use was shown, Cockerell’s work and design were Classified. However, it was later Declassified and in 1958 Cockerell obtained funding for a full scale model. Launching in June 1959, it crossed the English Channel on 25 July 1959.

By 1968 a car and passenger cross-channel ferry service was offered by Hoverlloyd from the Kent coast to Calais and Boulogne (France) and, later, by Seaspeed – a joint venture with British Rail and the French equivalent SNCF. In 1981 the two businesses merged to become “Hoverspeed” – whose majestic craft is our featured image.

Hoverspeed Brochure

The Hoverspeed services ceased in 2000 and were replaced by Seacat catamarans until 2005. The reason, often cited for their closure was the impact of the opening of the Channel Tunnel.

I’d also suggest the routes suffered from a decline in so-called “Booze Cruises”, when us Brits, would fill up our cars with lowly taxed beers, wines and spirits in Northern France.

Hoverspeed Booze

Although the Hovercraft continues to enjoy a role, both in the military and civilian services around the world, and production still taking place on the Isle of White – the  home of its design and testing – perhaps like Concorde – see our earlier post here – Concorde by Dominic Baker in years to come and market forces identify demand there will be a revival in the fortunes of the Cross Channel Hovercraft services, I would be a keen supporter.

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Photo credits – Hover Speed And MarkusHerzig.com

 

 

 

 

VéloSolex moped

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Increasingly dependent on getting from A to B as quickly as possible I have noticed a rise in commuters using electrically operated bicycles and small motorized scooters. They seem to offer limited comfort and even less protection for the rider who, for an inexplicable reason, think they have the power of a large Harley, BMW or Honda at their fingertips and get themselves into precarious positions on the road causing much frustration to others.

In a far gentler era the predecessor of these street demons was VéloSoleX or more frequently referred to as a Solex which was moped – or motorised bicycle – originally produced by Solex who were based in Paris (France) and founded by engineering friends, Maurice Goudard and Marcel Mennesson.

Designed by Mennesson during World War II, the Solex was produced between 1946 and 1988 in a variety of versions largely utilising the same technology of a motor with roller resting on and driving the front wheel of the bicycle.

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Being very competitively priced and hugely economical to run, the Soles was a massive success. In total it sold in excess of 7m units. In 1947 even BP created “Solexine”, a pre-mixed  oil and petrol mix for the Solex’s two stroke engine and sold in a 2L can. By the late 1940’s Solex was selling 100 units a day rising to 1500 a day by the mid-1960’s – when it was blessed with a new maximum – though limited – speed of 30 km.

The company now makes a range of electrically powered bicycles. An early version, designed by Pininfarina, was launched in 2005 as the E-Solex.

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By 2014 the Solexity Infinity was launched, again from the pen of Pininfarina – with capacity to travel up to 80 km on one charge – at the costs of around €2,000 – keeping the brand alive!

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As French as the Beret, Brie and Baguette, the Solex, a classic French icon of the mid-20th century, has a very special place in my psyche as I explored the opportunity in the 1980’s of importing them into the UK. It was perhaps my first brush with the ever increasing dominance of the words “Health & Safety” in our national idiom.

I was required to deliver details to the Ministry of Transport who after some consideration and lots of teeth sucking, decided that the fuel tank, which was then made of a reasonable durable plastic was too feeble to withstand any front-end impact and the risks of fire were too great.

Solex also commissioned various evocative advertising posters, which in their own right are increasingly collectable.

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For our French speaking friend’s – we know who you are – the equivalent of a an Owner’s Manual for a Vélosolex is a must – Le Guide du Vélosolex click the Amazon link below the image to get yours!

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Le guide du Vélosolex

Why not pick up a classic French VeloSolex enamel sign that will look at home in your Gite in La Gironde, on the wall of your Flat in Fulham or your Man-cave in Manchester! Click the AMAZON link below the image

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FRENCH VINTAGE METAL SIGN 40x30cm RETRO AD VELOSOLEX LE VRAI BICYCLESD2C56E9B-03F2-4C9E-AF3A-13C55668EEA2

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FRENCH VINTAGE METAL SIGN 40x30cm RETRO AD VELOSOLEX REFERENDUM 2

I love VeloSolex – and all this little motor cycle represents – you can too with this iconic T Shirt! Please click the Amazon link below the image 

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Velosolex Moped T-Shirt. Gents Ladies Kids Sizes. Bike Cycling France Motorcycle:X Large – 48″

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Photo Credits – with grateful thanks – Solex SA

Volvo P1800

 

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It’s odd what you forget and your memory needs to be jogged by a friend’s comment. A recent example is that of a favourite TV series from the late 1960’s.

I had forgotten that it’s hero, Roger Moore’s rather wooden “Simon Templar” aka “The Saint”, – cue title music – dodo dodo dadodo –  drove a very early white Volvo bearing the registration “ST1”. Long before they became super sensible Volvo, yes a Volvo, agreed to sponser the design and constructed later versions of the far from ordinary and wholly iconic Volvo P1800.

Available from 1961 to 1973, it was designed by Pelle Peterson – seen below with his creation – later to find fame as a decorated yachtsman and yacht designer – and featuring the styling of, Pelle’s tutor, Pietro Frua, a leading Turin-based car designer who’s work is seen particularly with Maserati.

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In 1957 Volvo sought a sports model to compete in the US and European markets. The concept for the car came from Pelle father, Helmer, an automotive engineer and consultant to Volvo. Volvo were insistent that the car had to designed by an Italian coach-builder and the resulting P1800 was what was then known as a “stylish tourer”.

It was initially intended to build the car at the Osnabruck (Germany) factory of Karmann but, it is thought Karmann’s major client, Volkswagen, may have insisted that Karmann refuse the work.

The car was finally presented at the 1960 Brussels Motor Show and it was initially assembled at the Jensen Motors factory in West Bromwich (near Birmingham, England).

Production moved to Sweden in 1963 and the car was renamed the P1800S – “S” for “Sweden”.

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Over its production run more than 47,000 cars were built. In addition to a couple of engine sizes – the 1800 denoting the 1778cc initial spec. engine – the P1800 was available as a neat two seater coupe or as a three-door “shooting-brake” or sports estate – the P1800ES. This acquired the affectionate nicknames, the “Fiskbilen” – Swedish for the “Fish-van” – and in other parts of Europe, the slightly sinister,  “Cinderella’s Coffin”.

Although Volvo themselves didn’t produce a convertible version of the P1800 the car was recognized by others for its perfect lines for this treatment. Notably, Volvoville in New York saw this opportunity and produced a highly desireable convertible version.

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In September 2013, a 1966 P1800S, having obtained an entry in 1998 Guinness Book of Records for the highest mileage private vehicle at 1.69 million miles – exceeded three million miles.

In the 2013 adaptation of Jonas Jonasson’s excellent book “The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared” the leading character Allan Karlsson (played by Robert Gustafsson) is shown – in a Swedesh city location – driving a P1800S.

If you have ever been tempted to buy a Volvo P1800 can I suggest that a Eseential Buyer’s Guide is a good starting point – click the AMAZON link below the image to get a copy.

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Volvo P1800/1800S, E & ES 1961 to 1973: Essential Buyer’s Guide

Once you have purchased your Volvo P1800 you will surely need the required Haynes Workshop Manual – click on the AMAZON link below the image to get a copy

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Volvo 120 & 130 Series (and P1800) (61 – 73) Haynes Repair Manual (Classic Reprint Series: Owner’s Workshop Manual)

I do understand, as opposed to buying the car you may like to show your allegiance to the Volvo P1800 by wearing a T shirt with pride. If so, click on the AMAZON link below the image to get yours. – there are several colors to chose from.

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STUFF4 Men’s Large (L) Burgundy Round Neck T-Shirt/Stencil Car Art / P1800

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Phot credits – with grateful thanks Gooding & Company

Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider

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Alfa Romeo is an iconic breed of Italian sports cars founded as A.L.F.A. (“Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobile”) on June 24, 1910, in Milan. By August 1915 the company was under the direction of Nicola Romero who re-purposed the factory’s output to support the Allies with munitions and aircraft engines.

The name changed to Alfa Romeo in 1920 and a car called “Torpedo” was the first to be badged with the new name. The company enjoyed significant success on the motor racing track with Enzo Ferrari and, in the 1950’s, Juan Manuel Fangio being notable drivers. With Romeo’s departure in 1928 and economic downturn the company was rescued by Mussolini’s government and came under State control in 1933. Following the Second World War and into the mid-1950’s Alfa Romeo started to produce smaller, mass-produced vehicles.

In 1952, Alfa Romeo experimented with a traverse-mounted “Project 13-61” its first compact front-wheel drive car.  The Giulietta (750/101) series of saloons, coupes and “Spiders” – open two-seaters was introduced in 1954. All Giuletta’s shared the Alfa Romeo overhead Twin Cam four-cylinder engine, initially 1290 cc. The Giulietta Sprint, as designed by Franco Scaglione at Bertone, and known as the Giulietta Sprint 2+2 coupé was launched at the 1954 Turin Motor Show.

At the request of Max Hoffman, Alfa Romeo’s US importer, the Giulietta Spider was born in 1955. It was designed by the Pininfarina who also built around 17,000 Spiders at their 107 Corso Trapani and Grugliasco factories between 1956 and 1962 – in the era it was not unusual for the designer to complete the build.

This beautiful example is from 1961:

Our featured image dates from 1959 – see below Hoffman’s range available in the US.

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These beautiful little cars – smaller by today’s standards – would continue to be built in a variety of configuarions until 1965.

Back on the track in the 1960’s and 1970’s Alfa Romeo focussed on competition to great success both in Europe and the US, using production-based cars, such as the GTA an aluminium-bodied version of the Berton-designed coupe.

A Giulietta’s development continued – see this beautiful 1975 Giulietta.

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The 1980’s and 1990’s, aside from a couple of GTV Spiders, were not, in my view, classic years for Alfa Romeo. In more recent years there has been an increasing return to form with a new Giulietta’s and Guilia’s – largely designed as a family vehicles.

In February 2007, the Alfa Romeo brand became Alfa Romeo Automobiles S.p.A., a subsidiary Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Italy, having first merged with Fiat in 1986.

Add this Alfa Romeo Giulietta T Shirt to your wardrobe – click the link below the image

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Men’s Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider T-Shirt (X-Large, Military Green)

Add this stunning Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider model – as featured above – to your collection: click the link below the image

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Alfa Romeo Giulitta Spider 1300 Cabrio Rot 1961 Mit Sockel und Vitrine 1/24 Modellcarsonline Modell Auto

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Images Alfa Romeo – with grateful thanks

Citroen DS

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In the mid-1970’s South West France was my family’s holiday destination of choice. My Father believed that an ability to speak foreign languages broke down barriers and what better place to explore our newly acquired school French.

Myth and legend has it that my Father’s family, apparently Huguenot and named De Winton, hailed from La Rochelle and left during an early era of persecution to settle in the South West UK. So returning to our ancestral roots felt very natural to our DNA.

My sister had the bright idea to contact certain Cognac makers asking if we could visit their production facilities. She received several embossed replies, and we visited several but the most engaging and somewhat surreal visit was to the House of Hine. We were flattered to be greeted by Jacques Hine at his empire’s front door; forty years ago it was unusual for a factory to receive non-trade visitors.

M. Hine made us very welcome and showed us around the wonderfully archaic catacombs of his business explaining in poetic detail the process of making their fine Cognac – which to this day holds the Queen’s Royal Warrant.

You can enjoy a bottle of Hine’s fine VSOP Cognac by clicking the link under the following image 

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Hine Rare Vsop, 70 cl

M. Hine apologised but explained that he has to attend a funeral but had asked his works Director, Gilles, to continue our tour to the company’s new facility outside town. He insisted that we should use his car. The image of this charming, and I suspect wealthy French distiller, in his black suit disappearing into Jarnac on his aged Solex scooter – see our post here – Solex moped – was comical.

Meanwhile Gilles beckoned us to the courtyard where M. Hines’ gleaming black Citroën DS sat waiting to for us. The clunk of the heavy doors, the smell of the black leather and the oh so Bentley-comfortable gliding ride was truly magical. The Citroën DS had always been my Father’s favourite car. This was truely a French icon of progress and technology and always ahead of its time.

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The Citroën DS – if pronounced carefully sounds like the French word for “Goddess”-  was manufactured by Citroën from 1955 to 1975 – selling over 1.4m cars and was a true symbol of French ingenuity. The classic French icon was designed by the genius, Flaminio Bertoni, engineered by André Lefèbvre and the ingenious pneumatic self-levelling suspension was developed by Paul Magès. It was the first production car to have front disc brakes, it also had power steering, semi-automatic transmission and directional head lights.

Our featured image shows the DS Pallas 23 from the mid-1970’s.

Our visit to the then new facility was fascinating and upon our return to the main office we were ushered into the Hine tasting room. M Hine, having returned from the funeral, proceeded to present us some souvenirs of our visit including a silk scarf for my Mother and a bottle of Hine’s finest, for my Father. He then explained that we all needed refreshment and produced a ice-chilled bottle of champagne which he served into the finest Baccarat crystal glasses Baccarat Chrystal Paperweight

Dreaming of beautiful and fine Baccarat Champagne Flutes? You can order them individually by clicking the link below the image

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Baccarat Mille Nuits Champagner Flute

If like me you love the car why not get the T shirt – in appropriate Burgundy – by clicking the link below the image

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Men’s Citroen DS T-Shirt Burgundy, XL

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Images courtesy of Citroen, Hine and Baccarat Christal with grateful thanks

 

 

 

 

Airstream trailers

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Ok – hands up – I don’t like caravans. They tend to be ugly and baulk the free flow of traffic. If you could chose to have an away day at the seaside regardless of the weather why would you chose to stay in a fibre-glass shed with limited ventilation and the ever present aroma of damp and the chemical toilet?

On the other hand, with a face clad in a pair of classic Ray-bans – please see our previous post here – Ray-Ban Wayfarers you’d be more than happy to freeze at a windy beach, shrink your intimate regions to the size of raisins to catch some great waves, if you knew at the end of the day your temporary home was a warm aluminium-shelled beach cabin with every mod-con! Enjoy our earlier outdoor posts of other American branded icons here Morey Boogie boards and Frisbee

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Yes, the Airstream trailer – American for “caravan” – is less a motorway frustrator and more a cigar tube with benefits! These wonderful portable homes ooze charm and scream American icon.

Company founder, Wally Byam, in Los Angeles in the late 1920’s, started to build and market trailers. Airstream’s distinctive shape, with its curved, riveted and polished aluminium body, has its roots in aircraft building and the 1930’s designs of Hawley Bowlus, the engineer responsible for Lindburgh’s “Spirit of St. Louis”. Bowlus designed a trailer that Byam marketed and in 1936 he acquired the Bowlus company which included the trailer re-launched by Byam as the “Airstream Clipper”. It had a sleeping capacity for four, its own water supply and electric lights and cost $1200.

Closed during the war years due to the scarcity of raw materials, by 1948 Byam’s was back in business opening a new factory in Jackson Center, Ohio in 1952, where today the company, now a part of Thor Industries Inc. employs more than 475 people and manufactures more than 2000 trailers per year.

Interestingly, Airstream make European models that are slightly smaller in dimensions than their US versions as European roads tend to be narrower and the SUV vehicles used to tow their trailers tend to be less powerful.

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In many ways Airstream is one of those companies whose reach is beyond their brand and a stimulus to development of a sub-culture. The Wally Byam Caravan Club International – which he founded and led – helped to stretch the horizons of its members by seeking out parts of new and fascinating locations.

In many trailer park locations, the Airstream has provided families with a static camping option with jacuzzi’s and outdoor cooking – see our previous post here – Weber Grill

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Perhaps the iconic status of the Airstream can be best summed up in the words of Geoff Wardle, Chair of Transportation Design at Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design, who is quoted a having said, “The Airstream is a pure object, which is why it has lasted.”

Given its iconic status companies that already have a very defined aesthetic, like Bentley – for their 4×4 Bentayga – and Tesla,  have used images of their vehicles pulling Airstreams to make a connection with, particularly an American audience.

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To support Tesla’s launch of its SUV crosser Model X in 2016 it launched a series of Airstream trailers which travelled the US as portable “design studios” to demonstrate the car’s towing ability.

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Wanna know some more? There’s an excellent publication by Patrick R. Foster that documents the first 80 years of the Airstream – click the link below the image to pick up a copy

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Airstream: 80 Years of America’s World Traveler

For those who already love Airstream’s trailers – why not show the world? Get this Airstream image long sleeved T shirt – click on the link below the image

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CafePress – Airstream Trailer – Unisex Cotton Long Sleeve T-Shirt

I particularly like the vibe of this natural canvas bag – click on the link below the image to get one 

See also our earlier posts on the Peace Symbol here – Peace Sign and The Summer of Love and The Peace Sign

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CafePress – Peace, Love And Vintage Trailers – Natural Canvas Tote Bag, Cloth Shopping Bag

Interest to be part of the Community why not connect to Airstream’s own online newsletter – “The Rivet” – click here to sign up –  The Rivet

Image Credits courtesy of Airstream, Bentley and Tesla with grateful thanks

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Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

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I am giving serious thought to the expression “Favourite Car” in response to an enquirers question to name mine. Now, I thought I had a long-term and completely harmonious fictional relationship with a 1965 Porsche 911 Targa. See here our previous past Porsche 911 Targa 

No question my pulse quicken and my throat dries a little at the thought of those classic lines, that ticking engine and those long lazy sunny days mastering the hairpins down to La Corniche. Then, as if to upset the harmony of a steady relationship, a perfectly formed little nose nudges you and with winking classic headlights clears its throat and ask you if, perhaps with a little hesitation and possibly some disappointment, whether you have forgotten them.

They remind you of the mid-1970’s classic car magazine collection “On Four Wheels” – which to the best of my recollection ran for about three years and with each edition – after the usual “magazine-crack” two for one introductory offer – became increasingly more expensive. They remind you of this endless summer days with your childhood pal, Mike, when you’d visit car showrooms, argue about the merits of Italian cars versus German or French ones and write to “concessionaires” asking for brochures often to be inundated with coffee table sized promo materials featuring sleek new sleek Lamborghinis and Maseratis. Mike still has his collection of brochures stored in a garage – Ebay anyone?

One such car is Volkswagen’s iconic Karmann Ghia – especially the Cabriolet version. My Godmother has a hard topped version in grey and she was quite cool so that was how this pretty car became locked in my evolving psyche from the mid-sixties.

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The Volkswagen Karmann Ghia – based on the classic and mechanics of a first model Beetle – see our celebration of this amazing car here Volkswagen Beetle – an icon re-imagined –  was debuted as a design concept at the 1953 Paris Auto Show. Following launch, it was available in 2+2 coupe versions (from 1955 to 1974) and as a cabriolet (from 1957 to 1974).

The Karmann Ghia was a collaboration that featured the styling genius of Luigi Segre, of the legendary Turin based coach-builder, Carrozzeria Ghia (now owned by Ford), and the hand-shapes panelling  of German coach-builder Karmann – who VW had commissioned to develop the car. A massive success with over 445,000 cars built, the Karmann Ghia was extensively exported, particularly to the US market.

The VW Karmann Ghia Cabriolet was first introduced August 1957.

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The Cabriolet has, along with many cars in the VW range, been featured in a series of classic Doyle Dane and Bernbach (DDB) print media adverts in the 1950s and 60’s; so much so that DDB’s work with Volkswagen, who they have represented since 1959 (opening an office in Germany in 1961) was voted the No. 1 campaign of all time by Advertising Age’s 1999 “The Century of Advertising”.

A classic DD&B poster from the early 1960’s:

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In the early 1970’s, in response to increasing vehicle safety requirements, particularly in the US, the smooth chrome wrap-around bumpers were replaced with energy absorbing bumpers. By the mid 1970’s the model was phased out to be replaced, initially, by the Porsche 914 – never a particular favourite.

STOP PRESS: In the Gooding and Company Scottsdale Auction in January 2018 a 1963 hard topped version of the Karmann Ghia achieve a respectable $37,400 which whilst is not cheap does suggest that this fine German brand is an everyman collectible – see this lovely example and read here the Gooding and Company report Gooding and Company Karmann Ghia

Seen and loved the car – now get the T shirt – please click the AMAZON link under the image 

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VOLKSWAGEN KARMANN GHIA 1970 STENCIL MENS T SHIRT CLASSIC CAR (XXL(50-52), RED)

Read more about the history – here.

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Volkswagen Karmann Ghias and Cabriolets: 1949-1980

Essential mantelpiece material – a die cast model to keep those juices flowing!

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Minichamps 155054031 1:18 Scale “1970 VW Karmann Ghia Convertible Black” Replica Model Toy

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Karmann Ghia Type 14 Logo T-Shirt Oldtimer Car Cars Collector Driver Ralley Osnabrück Coupé Cabriolet 17156 – Grey – XX-Large

If you are lucky enough to find a Karmann Gaia in reasonable condition – and at a reasonable price – grab it! If successful you’ll need the iconic Haynes Manual to tell you just what to do to keep your beautiful car in fab condition.

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VW Beetle and Karmann Ghia (1954-79) Automotive Repair Manual (Haynes Automotive Repair Manuals)

If you liked this post please “Like” and share it with your friends. We’d really like to hear your experiences of the subject(s) featured in this post. Please share them below in the “Leave a Reply” section. Thanks

Images by West Coast Classics, Doyle Dane and Bernbach, Ara Howrani/Howrani Studios and Gooding and Company with grateful thanks

Vilebrequin swim shorts

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The beaches within easy reach of most Northern European airports, namely those on the the Côte d’Azur, the Costa Smerelda and the Costa del Sol have for several years been the scene of a particularly charming Father and Son(s) bonding custom – which I am happy to admit my son and I have been part of. The engineer of this pan-European display are the nice people at Vilebrequin.

In 1971 photographer and motor racing enthusiast and Saint Tropez resident, Fred Prysquel, was inspired by the local artists, the light and colour of the Cote d’Azur to sketch a design for a pair of classic swim shorts – known as the “Moorea” cut – that would give birth to the dynamic and iconic brand, Vilebrequin. Curiously, its name is the French word for the “crankshaft” which we understand was inspired by the metal spiral staircase in the first shop to bear its name.

Given the prevalence of sailing in the area, Prysquel decided to use spinnaker sail cloth – noted for its quick during properties and resilient to sun and wind – for his shorts which, since their debut, have featured vibrant colours and maritime patterns. With the success of M Prysquel’s early design the signature and witty sea turtle image has become synoymous with the beaches of the South of France.

The brands fame spread to other European hotspots, becoming essential kit – almost a uniform – for the beach bound “Yuppy” where it would usually be accompanied by a signature and highly waterproof Swiss watch – up to at least 300m – often made by Rolex or Omega Rolex Submariner or Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M Master Co-Axial

In 1991, Loïc Berthet, took over the brand and added new models. The original model was also enhanced by the addition of a over the brand. He further develops the brand by adding a back pocket secured with Velcro with an eyelet “draining” hole and a cotton lining.

As our Yuppy hero grew up he would often confront the challenges of parenthood. Vilebrequin, being savvy to their customer’s circumstances, realized that they could expand their collection and exponentially grow their market by the introduction in 1995 of the matching Father and Son range – with boy’s sizes starting at a minuscule 6 months.

My son and I each had a deep blue pair with curiously stylised wrapped toffees which we adored. His pair were a little large for him when bought so we had several years of seriously cool beach co-ordination! See our picture below on Spain’s Costa de la Luz – paradise but don’t tell too many others!

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In a decade from 1990 Vilebrequin opened stores in London, Paris, New York and Madrid with a distribution network in more than 50 countries.

In 2012, Vilebrequin was acquired by US fashion corporation, G-III Apparel Group, Ltd., who, in addition to a drive to expand its operations in the Far East, have extended the range with a “Mother and Daughter” collection.

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Photo Credits – with grateful thnaks – Vilebrequin and author’s own!

Porsche 911 Targa

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The Porsche Targa has the distinct characteristic of being is a semi-convertible car body style with a removable roof section and a full width roll bar behind the seats. The term was first used on the 1966 with the launch of the classic Porsche 911 Targa and the name, “Targa”, remains a registered trademark of Porsche AG.

The Porsche 911 coupe first debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1963. Designed by Ferry Porsche, the son of the Porsche founder and his cousin, Ferdinand Piech, who developed the air-cooled flat-six engine. Launched as the 901, an objection from Peugeot who claimed naming rights to any three digit configuration with a zero in the middle resulted in Porsche renaming their new car the “911”.

Ferry on the launch of the Targa in 1965 described the car thus – “The Targa is neither a coupe nor a convertible”.

It is said that Porsche got the name, “Targa”, from the Targa Florino, a famous Sicilian road race. In Italian and Castellano, the word “Targa” means “number-plate”.

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The Targa style roof opening became popular in the 1960s and 1970s, resulting from fears that the US Department of Transportation (DOT) may ban convertibles because of safety concerns for the occupants should a car overturn.

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Over the years Porsche designs have varied. In 1996 the Porsche 993 Targa featured a retractable glass roof a design that continued into the 996 and 997 models. The glass roof retracted underneath the rear window revealing a large sky-facing opening. For me, in the earlier models of this style this gives the windscreen an almost too high pitch that affects the overall aesthetics of the car.

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The car received criticism as it was descriebed as a “coupe with a gigantic sun roof” – simply not what Porsche had intended and perhaps too far away from the core of this iconic car?

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With the introduction and production of more recent 911 Targa, including the Type 991, Porsche decided to take the latest Targa in a different direction from that of the previous water-cooled Type 996/997 cars.

Is 2014 car has somewhat returned to its earliest Targa roots by the utilizing of a solid roof panel spanning over the front seats which was mechanized for automated lift-away and storage under the rear glass roof, which itself is mechanized to lift up and out of the way as the roof panel is placed into its stowed position.

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Porsche seem to have decided that life should imitate art having produced a Targa that seems to take some design cues from a rather sophisticated toy from the late 1970’s. When I worked in the Christmas Holidays between University terms, I got myself a job at the now defunct Army & Navy Stores – a department store in Guilford (Surrey UK) in their Toy Department. I worked for a company called Bandai who were the licensees in the UK of the Transformer toy series. Those of you with either long memories or younger kids will know that Transformers were an amazing toy that “transformed” from a car to a Robot – for example – and subsequently has become a very successful film franchise. The range of car Transformers that I was selling – and I did hugely well outselling all other assistants – included a Porsche 911 in grey that transformed into a robot with green eyes. I still have one.

In August 2016 – the 50th Anniversary of its first Targa – Porsche announced an “Etna” blue Porsche Exclusive of the 911 Targa 4S Exclusive Design Edition – a collector’s edition!

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The 2018 version is here – quite possibly one of the most beautiful modern era Porsche Targas made.

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Our friends from Class Driver have recently posted the most remarkable film made by the Porsche Club of America about a secretive collection of over 65 Porsche cars dating from the late 1950’s to date each car being not only in pristine condition but all are uniquely painted white.

Enjoy the film here White Porsche Collection

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In June 2020 Porsche announced that a new 2021 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition would be a 992 example limited edition addition to the 2021 Porsche 911 Targa range.

With design clues culled from the last fifty plus years this special, which is yet to be given an indicator I’ve retail price (but its thought to be significantly in excess of the $120,000 that the base model commands) will no doubt fuel the enthusiasm for the Targa brand amongst a new generation of aficionados.

Each of the 992 luck owners will not only have a four-wheeled treasure they will also receive a Porsche Design Chronograph that takes their design influences from the early Porsche 911 speedometer dial. It comes complete with a strap of genuine Porsche seating hide.

One of five colour versions is the Cherry Metallic:

I defy any Porsche fan can control their passion for these fantastic vehicles – even a beautiful die-cast model should satiate some of the “must have one” moment. I have found the perfect two die-cast models – please click the Amazon link below the image in each case:

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Schuco 450035400 1:18 Scale Porsche 911 S Targa – 1972″ Model Car

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Porsche 911 (991) Targa 4S Metallic Blue 1: 18

You will need a range of various mechanical skills to maintain your 911 – built between 1965 -1989 – but you’ll also need a Haynes Manual – please click the Amazon link below the image

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Porsche 911, 1965-89 Coupe, Targa and Cabriolet Automotive Repair Manual (Haynes Automotive Repair Manuals)

The role of a Porsche in our lives cannot be understated. So celebrate your passion with this colourful T shirt – please click on the Amazon link below the image

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Dressdown Box 964 T 12 Colour Grid – Mens T-Shirt – White – XL

If you liked this post please “Like” and share it with your friends. We’d really like to hear your experiences of the subject(s) featured in this post. Please share them below in the “Leave a Reply” section. Thanks

Image Credit – Porsche AG and the Porsche Club of America with grateful thanks.