Ephemeral remains of Stephen Coles.
Writer, editor, typographer.
Oakland and Berlin.

Background image: BonBon Kakku
Title typeface: Times New Roman

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Posts tagged cars

Bossmobile Gal Friday Execustreak, 1958

Bulgemobile Corp. decided to give the busy Fifties executive the break he needed with its premier dream car for the ’58 season. Enter the fabulous Bossmobile, where the high-salaried corporate big shot could sit back, digest his three-martini lunch, and dictate memos or gab to his golf pro on the portable Electrofone or just uncap the Johnny Walker in the lower right-hand desk drawer for a bracing nip or three before the Bossmobile deposited him at his split-level suburban home in time for cocktail hour.
From Bruce McCall’s 2001 book “The Last Dream-o-Rama” (via Tom Wigley)

Wagon Jazz from the Wagon Leader! (via The Pie Shops)

See more jazzy woodgrain station wagons in detail at Chromeography.

I don’t know what this is, but it looks like the precursor to the Porsche Panamera:

"Hill Roads Lead To Pleasant Places"
1940 Lincoln Zephyr ad scanned by Paul Malon.

Last Friday, we preached the gospel of Chromeography to the citizens of Berlin. Hear the short story of how the site came to be and learn a little bit about car emblem design and history.

Subaru Sambar and American (GMC?) pickup truck. A few years ago I spotted these two friends in my Oakland neighborhood. I so wanted to put that little Sambar in my pocket, but all I could take were a few photos. My shot of the lovely chrome badge ended up in a variety of Subaru newspaper ads and online promotions.

Subaru Sambar

Driving the Subaru XT was like playing a 1980s-era arcade game. Demo.

The inside of the car had many aircraft-like features such as pod mounted lighting, climate control and wiper controls. The standard tilting-telescoping steering moved the instrument panel to keep it lined up with the steering column when tilting. The shifter was joystick-shaped and had a thumb trigger interlock and “on-demand” four-wheel drive button. Turbo models featured a sort of artificial horizon orange backlit liquid crystal instrument display with the tachometer, boost indicator, temperature and fuel gauges seen as three-dimensional graphs tilting back out to the horizon. Demonstration of Subaru XT digital instrumentation The aircraft cockpit approach reflected influences from Subaru’s parent company Fuji Heavy Industries, which also manufactured aircraft, such as the Fuji FA200 Aero Subaru.

The XT was loaded with features rarely found on small cars, such as a turbocharger, a computer-controlled engine and transmission, adjustable height suspension[1] and an optional digital instrument cluster. The air suspension was inspired by various manufacturers who used Hydropneumatic suspension, such as Citroen, and Mercedes-Benz. The XT also had some features found on few other cars, such as an electronic in-dash trip computer, retractable flaps covering the door handles, and a single wiper blade for the entire windscreen. Pass-through folding rear seats and racing style front seats were standard equipment.
(image via Product Design Data Base)

Subaru Sambar promotional image, 1962 (via Product Design Data Base)

Subaru 360 promotional image, 1958 (via Product Design Data Base)

Honda Fit, the New Civic Wagon


Bill is a 1990 Honda Civic Wagon. The name was embroidered on a classy carpet dashboard cover when my sister and her husband bought the car, and it stuck. I inherited Bill in 2002 and adored him. He’s reliable (like any Honda), functional, and despite his compact size (shorter than most sedans), he can lug around quite a bit of junk. Even as the odometer neared the 250,000 mile mark, I was vowing to never buy another car until I found one like Bill.


I found that car when Honda released the Fit. The 2007–08 Fit was a design that had been in production in Japan and Europe for years. It finally arrived in the U.S. just as our backwards country was finally catching on to the worldwide small car movement. Of course, it’s not as sharp and boxy as my beloved Bill, but not quite as conventional and bulbous as most of the lame cars designed in the last 20 years. Unfortunately the 2009 redesign took a turn in that direction.

The Fit is essentially the return of the Honda Civic Wagon, which they discontinued the year after Bill was born. Miraculously, they share the same engine and cargo capacity, form factor, and very similar dimensions. I couldn’t have found a better successor.

1990 Civic Wagon 2WD2008 Fit Sport
Original MSRP$10,325$15,270
Tech Specs
Engine1.5L I41.5L I4
MPG Hwy3434
MPG City3128
Transmission5-Speed Manual5-Speed Manual
Horsepower92 109
Fuel Capacity11.910.8
Turning Radius32.2 ft.34.4 ft.
Front Headroom39.4 in.40.6 in.
Rear Headroom38 in.38.6 in.
Front Legroom41.2 in.41.9 in.
Rear Legroom33.2 in.33.7 in.
EPA Cargo21.5 cu.ft.21.3 cu.ft.
Curb Weight2335 lb.2471 lb.
Wheelbase98.4 in.96.5 in.
Length161.7 in.157.4 in.
Width66.1 in.66.2 in.
Height56.1 in.60 in.
Honda Civic Wagon, Honda Fit Honda Civic Wagon, Honda Fit Honda Civic Wagon, Honda Fit 2008 Honda Fit Sport

I have the Sport model with an angular body kit, fog lamps, extra speakers, and a spoiler, because I find spoilers on hatchbacks to be ridiculous and awesome. More pics.

So what happened to Bill? He’s still in the family, so to speak. He was adopted by my good friends, Frank Grießhammer and Tânia Raposo. Frank and Tânia have already treated Bill well with repairs and upgrades. Bill even has his own Twitter and Instagram accounts! It feels good to know my old pal is only a short trip to San Jose away.

Stüf key photo by Tânia.

Fahrzeugübergabe Fahrzeugübergabe!

There’s only thing left to do: swap out the horrendous Fit chromeography and replace it with the old Civic emblem.

2008 Honda Fit Sport 1990 Honda Civic Wagon

The Fiat 500 is now available in the US. I am so glad there are car makers willing to go back to classic forms in the right way. Like Maury told me, “It’s only retro in its purity.”

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