A cruise, improved

typed for your pleasure on 17 August 2014, at 7.52 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Island of birds’ by Sven Libaek

As periodic readers of ‘Shouting etc etc’ are already aware, there’s not a single thing that I like about the annual Woodward Dream cruise. I’ve mentioned why before, so I’ll not go on about it again if you’re a new visitor; you are welcome. One of the main issues that I have with it, apart from the fact that the event hampers the mobility of local non-participants, or the lack of logic of taking part in such an event when regular petrol is hovering just under $4 a gallon, is that the cars are large, ungainly, and mostly unsightly. Sorry, klassic kruisers, your cars are simply too goddamned big. The only exception to that aesthetic choice would be the 1970 Plymouth Superbird, as it is so comically overproportioned it’s awesome. And classic hearses; you can’t go wrong with those, either.

In making my way down Woodward earlier last week on the way home, I’d seen the safety orange advisory signs bolted to normal traffic signs, reminding people that the week-end of the 16th would be taken over by the Nightmare cruise. What if, I thought to myself, what if all those giant landboats were replaced with smart little classic foreign autos instead? Well, for one, I’d be out on the sidewalk every year, taking footage of the endless stream of European and Japanese cars. Cars such as

the Alpine A110

the Citroën 2CV

the BMW Isetta

the Jaguar E-type

the Toyota Sports 800

the Messerschmitt KR200

the Studebaker Avanti (yes, I’m well aware this is an American vehicle, but it gets a pass)

and the Subaru 360, amongst others. And although I’d fully expect to see both the modern and classic versions of the Fiat 500, the MINI, and the Volkswagen Beetle is that those selections are pretty much a given.
And since ‘classic’ is a loose descriptor, I’d get some automobiles from the glorious Eighties in there as well.

the Citroën Karin Concept, from 1980

the Renault Fuego (I have a soft spot for these, as it was the third car my parents ever had)

the Toyota TAC3 Concept, which looks an awful lot like the Livecougar, the jeep from Chojuu sentai Liveman

and you can’t properly represent the Eighties without some DeLoreans in there. And I’ve noticed that two of the four cars I’d just listed never made it into production. Huh.

This new, more Continental/Japanese-flavoured Cruise would also have allowances for relatively modern cars with retro styling, such as the Nissan Pao, the Nissan Figaro, or the Mazda Autozam AZ-1. In a lot of ways, modern cars with classic appearances combine the best of both worlds: they don’t have the generically bland ‘style’ of contemporary vehicles, but they possess features that older cars didn’t have, such as power steering and air conditioning.

Micro- to mid-sized cars are fantastic! They take up very little space, and more importantly, they don’t scream to the world that you’re making up for some other, more personal, shortcomings! And really, I’m not what you would describe as a ‘car guy’. Meaning, I don’t give a toss about torque, or horsepower, or technical details such as that. I like the cars that I like due almost strictly to their aesthetics.
There’s a whole bunch of cars I’d not mentioned, as I didn’t want this post to be as long as the cruise it would describe. But would you have a make and/or model of car you’d like to see in the improved Dream cruise? Why not mention it in the comments below?

Random similar posts, for more timewasting:

O, don't get my hopes up on September 11th, 2008

Not as fun, but certainly safer, than a fireman's axe on October 31st, 2004

11 have spoken to “A cruise, improved”

  1. Maddie Wells writes:

    My nomination for the improved Dream cruise is: Urbee!


    I’m not much of a “car” person, but once they become autonomous you can bet I will be paying attention. It’s my job, after-all. 🙂

  2. Davecat writes:

    Your nomination is an impressive one; however, we can’t add it, as it’s neither a classic car, nor is it a modern (pronounced ‘modren’) car with classic styling. Perhaps in eight decades it’ll be retro again, for the first time! Call us then. 🙂

  3. Amy & Andy writes:

    Ahhh, cars!

    Being a friend of Italian car design I especially approve of the suggestions with Italian background like the Renault Alpine and the Isetta.
    And of course the De Lorean DMC-12: designed by the “Designer of the Century” – Giorgetto Giugiaro. My last three cars were designed by him as well. (Alfa 159/Brera)

    My suggestion and personal favourite of a combination of small size and Italian style is the Lancia Fulvia Coupe:

    There even was an amazing concept for a new retro version at the Frankfurt motor show quite a few years ago. I’ve never loved a car concept more. Although it was perfectly feasible, a complete idiot at Fiat/Lancia made the decision to NOT build that one. Unbelievable!

  4. Retif writes:

    Can’t believe you missed the classy Morgan 3-wheeler, which is actually still made.


    I fell in love with these after seeing “The Party” with Peter Sellers.

    Nice call with the Messerschmitt Kabinenroller. Fell in love with that one in “Brazil”.

  5. Davecat writes:

    Frau Amy & Herr Andy —
    Funny you mentioned the Alfa, as that reminded me that my very own uncle used to have an Alfa Romeo when he was younger; I think it may have been a Tipo 162. I only saw it once when I was in the single-digit age range, and I remember it was excessively sporty. I’ll have to ask him…

    I do like that Lancia Fulvia coupe; it’s understated, and very European. Restrained, but with a hint of sportiness about it. Good choice!

    And don’t you hate when auto companies annouce ‘we’re going to be making a restyled version of a car we sold decades ago that you loved dearly’, and then they don’t follow through with it? Rumour had it that Volkswagen, shortly after reviving the Beetle, was going to re-release the Karmann Ghia — now that I’m thinking about it, I’m kicking myself for not including that car in my list, as I really dig the Karmann Ghia. But they didn’t do it! I would’ve thrown so much money at VW to make a contemporary, retro-styled KG! Not my money, of course; it’d be totally out of my price range. But still!

    Retif —
    I had never heard of the Morgan 3 wheeler before, but sweet baby James, that is an amazing machine. Wow. And one’s in ‘The Party’? I had that film on VHS for years — it was when I was first getting into Claudine Longet — but curiously, I never watched it once! Now I’ve got another reason to do so!

    The Wiki entry on the 2011 Morgan 3 wheeler says ‘The acceleration from zero to 60 miles per hour (97 km/h) was estimated by Morgan as 4.5 seconds, with an (estimated) top speed of 115 miles per hour’. Incredible. *straps on helmet*

  6. Amy & Andy writes:

    Karmann Chia – lovely. I handn’t noticed that there was a retro version in the talks. But then I didn’t pay any attention to VW or the other German marques in general until recently.
    But now – at the moment where nearly all manufacturers have joined the (in my mind horrible) “Bangle” design, that BMW started many years ago, VW is among the few, who hold on to a relatively tasteful – if somewhat tame – design. They’ve also bought pretty much all Italian designers by now – including my special friend Giorgetto Giugiaro/Italdesign.

    But now we have to come to the topic of you saying your uncle had an Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stra…. …………………….. sorry – I fainted – again. Are you aware that we’re talking about one of the most beautiful cars every made? Only around 12 – 14 were ever build, because it was insanely expensive. Please, please ask him about that. That would be a sensation.
    And in case he still has it stashed in a shed somewhere, tell him it’s nothing special, but we would be so kind and take it off his hands to make room for other stuff. 😉

  7. Davecat writes:

    I think Volkswagen were flush with the success of the re-release of the Beetle back in the late Nineties that perhaps they were entertaining the idea of remodelling some of their older classics, such as the Karmann Ghia, the Microbus, and the Kübelwagen (I refuse to call it the name it was marketed as in the States; i.e, the ‘Thing’). Only problem is is that the revival idea died on the vine…
    And by ‘Bangle’ design, do you mean Chris Bangle? (I had to look that up, you see.) That sort of look is interesting and fresh if you’ve never seen it before, but like you said, it’s everywhere. That’s the type of aesthetic American car companies deployed with the Ford Taurus and the early Nineties Caprice Classic; a style I call the ‘Space Lozenge 2000’, as those cars, and all their copycats, looked like giant suppositories. We need a return to swoops, flares, and unusual silhouettes again.

    And I’m definitely going to have to ask my uncle about that Alfa Romeo he’d had when he was younger! One of the only reasons I remember — he lives in a different state than I do — it is that the same year he bought it, he gave me a yellow remote-controlled Alfa Romeo and a remote-controlled Porsche 944, both of which I played with until they fell apart. If by chance my memory isn’t playing silly buggers with me and his Alfa was actually a super-rare model, I will shit.

  8. Pippa Pendleton writes:

    I once drove a Renault 4. You changed gears using a walking stick that projected out of the dashboard. A friend had a DAF 44 – it was a “variomatic”, which meant that the correct gear ratio was selected by a rubber band sliding into position. This rubber band had a tendency to snap on long motorway journeys. Furthermore, the wind once ripped the bonnet off and it ended up 100 yards behind the car, having previously obscured her view of the road for an agonising 5 seconds.

  9. Davecat writes:

    The ‘gearshift in dashboard’ idea sounds both cool and bizarre, but then, there have been cars in the States that have had gearshifts located in the steering column. I’ve never driven a car with that feature, so I suppose if that’s all you’ve ever known, it’s not strange to you. But it’s still strange. Not a bad strange, though!

    That DAF 44 sounds like some sort of SELF-DESTRUCTING NIGHTMARE CAR. I thank you for that particular suggestion, but I’m afraid we won’t be adding it to the New Improved Cruise. Unless it remains parked.

    Also, we need to equip you with a Gravatar of your very own, missy!

  10. Peter Synthetik & Miss July writes:

    Hello !
    The BMW Isetta was the first car, my father was driving ( I think ). The 2CV ( Ente = duck ), I can remember very well. The feeling was more floating than driving and that with open top.
    I have 2 Jaguar E – type`s… as Carrera slot racing models ( they`re very sexy ).
    I get tears in my eyes, if a US muscle car, with a fat V8 engine drive`s along – I love that sound – but I can understand you, living near Detroit, you have enough of engine noise !

  11. Davecat writes:

    You guys had an Isetta? Ohhh, I can’t imagine. Much like my approach towards the smart car, I love ’em and think they’re fantastic, but I don’t know if I’d ever use one as a daily form of transport. With the Isetta and the smart car, the only thing between you and the road is the door/windscreen — there’s no real distance. On the other hand, if you get into a front-end collision, you’re much less likely to have an engine in your lap, so there’s that.

    Much like your (tiny) Jaguar E-types, I want to get miniatures of my favourite cars. You should get a miniature Superbird, and place it on your coffee table. 🙂

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