Friday, September 22, 2017

Restoration Projects at Wilson Auto Repair During September 2017

Restoration Projects at Wilson Auto Repair During September 2017

There is plenty of work for us to complete this month and we thought we would take a short break to give you a glimpse behind the garage doors and under the hoods of the vehicles in our shop this September.  We have a lot of Chevy and Ford trucks, Broncos, Blazers and Jeeps in...   Read More

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Why You Should Know Mr. K

Why You Should Know Mr. K

 Datsun 280zIf you are familiar with the “Z-cars” like the Datsun 260Z that defined the Japanese sports car evolution, then you are familiar with Mr. K, also known as Yutaka Katayama. This man is responsible for designing Japanese sports cars and delivering them to a hungry American audience. Without Mr. K, the world of automobiles would be very different.

Nissan and the Sad Little Cars

In the 1960s, Nissan (what was known in the US as Datsun) was making small economy cars that were not winning the hearts of American drivers. In 1965, a Nissan executive named Yoshihiko Matsuo encouraged other executives at Nissan that it was time to develop a roadster that would compete with European and American cars. The conservative Nissan executives did not want to add something so radical to their lineup and they decided to stay the course.

Mr. K

Photo Courtesy of Motor Trend

Mr. K Moves into the Future

While Matsuo is generally responsible for the actual design of the Z-cars, it was Mr. K’s encouragement that brought the cars to fruition. In foreign markets, like the US, Japanese cars were seen as somewhat of a joke. So, Mr. K said that the company could continue “making cheap economy cars forever, but by doing so, we would be able to move forward…” His words made sense and Matsuo’s roadster project came to life, but Mr. K made the car what it was.

Creating a Winning Design

Since this car would be released in the United States, Mr. K was aware that the US Motor Vehicle Safety Standards seemed to be changing as the committee was looking at safety standards for convertibles, like the car Matsuo had designed. Mr. K advised that a closed coupe would be the best option for the American market. It was at the same time, in 1966, that the Sugar Scoop headlights were chosen instead of flip-up headlights in order to meet more US safety standards. The rest of the story we all know, since the cars like the Datsun 260Z and the 280Z became legendary favorites in the American automotive market.

The Ironic Beginning

Datsun 24ozThe best part of the story however is not the end, but the beginning. Many years before the debut of the Datsun 260Z, Mr. K was actually sent away from the Japanese headquarters to work in the US. This was Nissan’s way of getting Mr. K and his fondness for sports cars out of the way of the company’s goal to produce quality economy cars. Instead of fading into history, Mr. K created his own history and made Nissan one of the most loved foreign car brands in the US. His legacy lives on in every Z car that speeds, drifts, and glides down the roads.

If you are interested in learning more, Mr. K and Mr. Matsuo coauthored their story in a book titled: “FAIRLADY Z STORY”.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Rent a Classic Car on Hagerty’s New Website

Rent a Classic Car on Hagerty’s New Website

Renting a classic car or truck is by no means a new concept.  There are plenty of places to turn to if you are looking.  A few years ago we did an article on a company called Blacktop Candy that arranges classic car rentals along famous Route 66.  There are also other well known services...   Read More

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Monday, September 18, 2017

The Alfa Romeo with Character: The 2000

The Alfa Romeo with Character: The 2000

GTV 2000In the 1970s, there were very few cars with character. In the United States, the oil embargo made it difficult to fill the tank, so manufacturers began creating ugly little compact gas sippers. Convertibles were phased out and muscle cars were on their last legs. The auto industry was in a dire place and to make matters worse, the speed limit was dropped to 55 miles per hour. But Italy had a lovely little car called the Alfa Romeo 2000 GT Veloce.

Good Roots Make a Fine Car

This little car was not a beauty by any means, not when compared to the European cars of the year like the Mercedes 450S or the Fiat X1/9. But, the Alfa Romeo 2000 GT Veloce (Veloce means “fast” in Italian) had its own unique style that set it apart from anything produced in the United States. The car was a descendent of the Alfa Romeo 1750 Berlina, which was a third place contender for car of the year in 1969, so the 2000 did come from good stock. What set the 2000 GT Veloce apart from the crowd was not its exterior design, but the subtle nuances that showed the care and concern that Alfa Romeo put into the manufacturing.

Alfa Romeo GTV 2000Describing “Character”

When we describe a house that has character, that house does not have the cookie-cutter design that most houses have. It has details that separate it and this is exactly what the Alfa Romeo 2000 GT Veloce had. From the gas pedal to the turn signals, it was obvious that the designer wanted to make it a quality automobile. Even though the character is in the details, even the angle change from the front to the rear gives the car an exterior look that anyone can appreciate.

Alfa Romeo GTV 2000Subtle Details the US Carmakers Neglected

Once you open the door of the Alfa Romeo 2000, you will see the details that give the car character. The gas pedal looks like it was crafted by hand from a metalsmith artist. The brake and clutch are designed with a swirling pattern that carmakers today would never dream of using. All the little toggle switches will make you think you are driving the car of a famous spy. The ball atop the shifter is lovingly crafted out of the same wood that the steering wheel has. These little details show that there was still some style in 1974, but you had to dig deep to find it. This style also has made the 1974 Alfa Romeo 2000 GT Veloce highly collectible, today.

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