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THE SIXTH ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL Automobile Show, April 21–29, 1962, at the New York Coliseum was less than four hours from the Worcester Poly campus, so why not top off the English Ford Consul convertible and drive down?
Unearthed almost sixty years later, the Official Program from the auto show makes for interesting reading. Here are tidbits on the world of automobiles back then.
Program Hypes. “At the show you will see the best automotive products from the great automobile manufacturers of Czechoslovakia, England, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Sweden, and the United States…. They represent a panorama of value from the $1000 car to the over $25,000 automobile.”
Other attractions included special sections for motor scooters and motorcycles and another for auto accessories and equipment, a Concours d’Elegance, an Esso Theatre showing motor sports films, and stands for Automobile Quarterly, Bond Publishing (Road & Track, Car Life), Petersen Publishing (Sports Car Graphic, Motor Trend), and Ziff-Davis (Car and Driver).
Israel’s Sabra. Autocars Co. (Hebrew: אוטוקרס) was Israel’s first car manufacturer. Founded in 1957, it produced a range of fiberglass-bodied cars popular in Israel during the 1960s and 1970s.
The Sabra (as in “Israeli-born” and also the word for cactus) had English Ford 1703-cc four-cylinder power (same as my Consul’s) and Reliant components.
A pal at Worcester Poly, Peter Singer, later raced a Sabra in SCCA events.
American Henney. The Henney Kilowatt was “the automobile refueled from an ordinary electric outset.”
More than 50 of these electro-converted Renault Dauphine sedans “have been manufactured and sold to industrial customers in various parts of the United States…. For when the expected breakthrough in power supply comes, the Kilowatt will be made available to the public…. Considerable progress is being made, and the development of increased storage battery capacity is literally on our horizon.”
We didn’t realize it in 1962, but this was an idea whose time had not yet come.
Holland’s DAF. “Shift to DAF; you’ll never shift again.” The DAF had a 746-cc two-cylinder engine linked, as standard equipment, to its Variomatic automatic transmission, the name suggesting its continuously variable nature.
The DAF had the world’s first commercially successful continuously variable transmission. Today, CVTs appear in a variety of Japanese and Korean cars; the 2021 Ford Bronco had a CVT as an option (not a popular, nor particularly effective one).
American Devin. Bill Devin, 1915–2000, established Devin Enterprises in 1955 as a manufacturer of high-quality fiberglass bodies sold as kits. During the next nine years, the firm also produced automotive accessories as well as complete cars.
Bill, known as “The Enzo Ferrari of Okie Flats” by no less than Henry N. Manney III, was a car pal of mine. Indeed, Bill supported my first vintage-racing ride, at Palm Springs in 1987. In 1991, I did a Salon feature on his high-performance Super Sports.
A Bond Essay. R&T’s John R. Bond contributed a six-page article on “The Influence of Sports Cars on Automotive Design.” He began, “If anyone had said 12 years ago that those funny-looking little sports cars appearing in small numbers on our streets and highways would some day have a profound effect on the popular sedans of 1962—no one would have believed them!”
“Some observers have gone so far as to blame the ill-fated horsepower race of a few years back on sports cars. A sports car, by its very nature, connotes speed and performance.” He added, though, “some of these wouldn’t go half as fast as they looked….”
“If we could build a family sedan,” John said, “with a low center of gravity of a sports car, with the sports car’s power-to-weight ratio, and suspension, brakes and steering to match—it is possible that the sedan could lap a tortuous road-racing circuit just as fast as a two-seater.”
But,” John concluded, “there are too many ‘ifs’ here and all we can say is that improvements have been made, with more to come. And, in the final analysis, the sports car deserves its share of credit for speeding up the process of giving us safer-handling family-type automobiles.”
Sixty years on, we drive family cars well nigh meeting the criteria John identified. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanatisSays.com, 2022