Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Personality and the Patina of Individual Craftsmanship

Photos by Salt Water New England
Bond liked fast cars and he liked driving them. Most American cars bored him. They lacked personality and the patina of individual craftsmanship that European cars have. They were just 'vehicles', similar in shape and in colour, and even in the tone of their horns. Designed to serve for a year and then be turned in in part exchange for the next year's model. All the fun of driving had been taken out of them with the abolition of a gear-change, with hydraulic-assisted steering and spongy suspension. All effort had been smoothed away and all of that close contact with the machine and the road that extracts skill and nerve from the European driver. To Bond, American cars were just beetle-shaped Dodgems in which you motored along with one hand on the wheel, the radio full on, and the power-operated windows closed to keep out the draughts. 
- Ian Fleming, Live and Let Die






17 comments:

  1. Love the old rounded Porsches.

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  2. Ironically Ian Fleming's greatest extravagance was a Ford Thunderbird.

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  3. Nothing wrong with an American muscle car.....

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    1. That's why Britain gave us James Bond and America gave us the Keystone Cops.

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    2. "Muscle" car? Well...that explains a lot...

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    3. Obviously you’ve never driven one so you wouldn’t understand.

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  4. Nothing wrong either with early-mid 60's Lincolns, the early Rivieras and various Vettes, for starters.

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  5. Cars today are so boring....you can't tell a Ford from a Kia from a Nissan....

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    1. Beginning with the federal government's gas mileage requirements of the late '70s, all cars sold in the U.S. have been designed in a Japanese wind tunnel.

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  6. I love old English cars and old American pick up trucks. Can't afford either. Appreciate the opportunity to admire.

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  7. "Bond’s car was his only personal hobby. One of the last of the 4½-litre Bentleys with the supercharger by Amherst Villiers, he had bought it almost new in 1933 and had kept it in careful storage through the war. It was still serviced every year and, in London, a former Bentley mechanic, who worked in a garage near Bond’s Chelsea flat, tended it with jealous care. Bond drove it hard and well and with an almost sensual pleasure. It was a battleship-grey convertible coupĂ©, and it was capable of touring at ninety with thirty miles an hour in reserve."

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  8. Obviously Bond never drove a DeSoto.

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  9. Anyone trashing American cars of that era, including Mr. Fleming, might want to consider the Duesenberg Model J convertible coupe before making up his mind.

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  10. Escape from Castle WeinsteinNovember 18, 2017 at 11:47 AM

    In the closing months of WWII, the Royal Navy was not amused when the US Navy didn't really have a need for their services against the Japanese. War in the Pacific involved immense distances, and the British ships were designed around the Home Fleet mission; that is, relatively local Atlantic and Med operations with the requisite resupply and refueling capability for that. "Sorry, Mac. No offense, but you don't have the legs for what we need." The whole European vs American car debate reminds me of the same thing. Which is 'better'? Both. Depending on their intended operating environment, which dictate their design, they both have strengths and weaknesses. A buzzy little 356 or 911 or Austin is great for around town, but give me a low-revving American V8 for greater distances on the open road.

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  11. Escape from Castle WeinsteinNovember 18, 2017 at 11:54 AM

    Oh yeah. In one of the Bond books, I believe the character loved his Studebaker modified with a Cadillac engine. A Loewy-designed Studebaker coupe could probably trounce a few 'true sports cars'. But, love them all.

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