Cadillac began the 1950s with carefully considered updates to its basic 1948 design, which was good enough to remain popular through 1953. As General Motors designer Mitchell once noted: “A traditional look is always preserved. If a grille is changed, the tail end is left alone; if a fin is changed, the grille is not monkeyed with.”
And so it was: a new one-piece windshield and revamped grille for 1950, small auxiliary grilles beneath the headlamps for 1951, a winged badge in that spot for 1952, one-piece rear windows and suggestive “Dagmar” pointed front bumper guards for 1953. Equally wise, Cadillac gave up on fastbacks much earlier than sister GM makes, switching all of its 1950 coupes to notchback profiles with hardtop rooflines a la Coupe de Ville.
Models also didn’t change much through 1953. Still accounting for most sales, the Series 62 offered a four-door sedan, convertible, Coupe de Ville, and a less-deluxe hardtop coupe, all on the usual 126-inch wheelbase.
The Cadillac Sixty Special remained a solitary super-luxury four-door on its own wheelbase, which was now 130 inches versus 133 for 1942-1948. The Series 75 still listed its customary array of limousines and long-wheelbase sedans on a 146.8-inch chassis. Cadillac also continued supplying chassis for various coachbuilders, averaging about 2,000 a year through 1959.
The “entry-level” Series 61 was still around in 1950, but its sedan and De Ville-inspired coupe were demoted to a 122-inch wheelbase (from 126 in the 1940s). Manual transmission remained standard here (and on 75s), but other Caddys now came with Hydra-Matic at no extra cost.
The Series 61 models still lacked chrome rocker moldings and had plainer interiors, but also lower prices (by about $575). But with record 1950 sales of 100,000-plus, Cadillac no longer needed a “price leader,” so the Series 61 was cancelled after 1951, this time for good.
After observing its Golden Anniversary with a little-changed fleet for 1952, Cadillac issued a flashy limited-edition convertible, the 1953 Series 62 Eldorado. Like that year’s new Buick Skylark and Olds 98 Fiesta, it boasted features previewed on recent GM Motorama show cars: custom interior, special cut-down “Panoramic” wraparound windshield, a sporty “notched” beltline (below the side windows), and a metal lid instead of a canvas boot to cover the lowered top. A striking piece, the Eldorado was a preview of Cadillacs to come, but only 532 of the ’53s were built, largely because the price was a towering $7,750.
The futuristic beast may look like something that came straight out of Tron or The Fifth Element, but it’s legit, and even though it’s officially just a concept, it’s a pretty impressive piece of engineering.
There’s so much going on with this bike that it’s hard to know where to begin. For starters, the wheels are just about as stripped-down as it gets; they’ve got 36in rims, they’re basically spokeless, and the tires sit so close to the ground that it looks like the driver is risking some major friction burns if he comes across a speedbump.
Tarso Marques, who has spent much of his post-F1 life creating similarly crazy concept motorcycles, took seven months to build the TMC Dumont before showcasing it at the 2018 Daytona Beach Week Bike Show, where it won Best in Show.
Rather than settle for a 500cc engine, Marques has also taken the absolutely insane step of picking up an actual airplane engine to power his ride. Yep, that’s an actual retro 1960s Rolls Royce V6 he’s sitting behind, and it makes some serious noise.
Marques says it took him 15 years to source the perfect engine for the bike, ‘The TMC Dumont deserved something really unique and powerful, and with a great sound and look. A normal motor would be so boring.’
Marques isn’t the first petrolhead to stick an aircraft engine under the hood. Jay Leno famously switched the engine in his 1934 Rolls Royce out for a Merlin V12 – the Rolls-Royce engine originally used to power Spitfires in World War Two.
It’s fair to say bloggers were pretty impressed – if not a bit confused – by the bike. ‘It’s impractical, it’s ambitious, and I think it’s awesome to see a crazy concept brought to life and actually ridden,’ read one review.
Once upon a time, just a few years ago, owners of America’s only sports car were on the receiving end of constant gibes from the “sporty car set,” which held that the only thing the beast had to offer was drag strip performance. It would go like the wind (in a straight line, they said), but it wouldn’t corner, it wouldn’t stop, it had a boulevard ride, and a glass body. And it took 265 cu in. (4.5 liters) to get that performance.
Well, these derogatory remarks probably were true at one time. At least, some of them were. But engineers have now achieved an excellent package, combining acceleration, stopping power, a good ride and handling characteristics whose adequacy is indicated by the car’s race-winning ways.
In our January 1959 test report of the 1959 we said the 1960 would be the year for the big changes in the Corvette. We were wrong. The 1960 model wasn’t too much different from, or too much better than, the 1959 version. Lacking any great changes in 1960, we might logically have predicted a major change in 1961, but luckily we didn’t.
However, the few changes which have been made are for the better. Continual refinements since 1954 have made the Corvette into a sports car for which no owner need make excuses. It goes, it stops, and it corners.
The major change in the appearance is the rear end treatment, which was derived from the Sting Ray, GM racing Corvette, owned by Bill Mitchell. The stubbier look achieves a more crisp and a fleeter appearance than that of previous models, which looked “soft.” The front end remains basically unchanged. New bumpers fore and aft blend nicely into the body design, and the exhaust tips are now under the body instead of through the bumper tips. This was a good move; there’s no mistaking the Corvette for any other make and it is a better looking car now.
The finish of the fiberglass body is generally excellent, although we did find a few minor flaws on our test car, mostly in obscure places. Panel fit and fairing from one panel to another were good and showed Chevrolet’s great attention to the Corvette molds.
Interior trim and design are similar to past models and well done, but have a little of the Motorama touch. The seats are excellently designed and are very comfortable. Our longest single excursion was of some 200 miles, but no sign of driver fatigue was evident and we honestly feel a day behind the wheel of a Corvette could be put in without undue strain.
The instruments are easy to read and include a speedometer, tach (reading to 7000 rpm — red-lined at 6200), gas gauge, temperature gauge, oil pressure gauge and ammeter. Indicator lights are used for the turn signals, high headlight beam and parking brake. The parking brake light on the panel lights up when the key is turned on (if, of course, the parking brake is on) and when the engine is started the light blinks its warning to the driver. The only fixture in the Corvette interior that’s hard to use is the radio, which is mounted in a console deep under the instrument panel. This console also carries the clock, which is difficult to see and should be looked at only when the car is stopped.
The seats have 3 in. of fore and aft movement, which gave everyone on our staff adequate leg room, but the body panel between the seats interferes with the driver’s elbow (when shifting) when the seat is at its rearmost position.
The MKII was initially offered as an occasional 4-seat roadster called the BT7 or the 2-seat variant from known as the BN7. Both versions used flat front windscreens and detachable side curtains in the style of a roadster. The rear panel of the BT7 was cut out much deeper towards the trunk to make room of the small jumper seats in the rear. As a result, almost all the road race and rally cars were built on the BN7 platform.
MKII configuration changed significantly in 1962 with the introduction of the BJ7 Sports Convertible. It replaced both models with a fully-collapsible soft top, wind-up windows and a curved front window. This modernized the car substantially and the BJ7 is more desirable as a touring car.
Gilbert was married to the beautiful Princess Alice of Angouleme, a lady of refined tastes and passionate nature, who came to resent her husband’s warring disposition. One day, Gruffudd the Fair, Prince of Brithdir, paid a visit to the castle. Alice became enamored with this handsome and amorous Welsh prince, and soon the two were lovers. Rather foolishly, Gruffudd confessed their secret to a monk who turned out to be duplicitous and informed the cuckolded husband. A deranged Gilbert sent his wife back to France and ordered his men to find Gruffudd. Learning of the friar’s betrayal, Gruffudd caught the monk and hanged him from a tree at a site now known as ‘Monk’s Vale’ in commemoration. No sooner had he done so than Gilbert’s men caught up with him, and Gruffudd, too, was soon dangling at the end of a noose.
Gleefully, the avenged husband set a messenger to France to inform Alice of her lover’s execution. Such was the shock of the news that she dropped dead on the spot, and her ghost has haunted the ramparts of Caerphilly Castle ever since. Resplendent in a richly woven dress, colored green for Gilbert’s envy, she waits in silent solitude, desperate to be reunited with her princely lover, whose flattering attentions fate has long denied her.
Caerphilly Castle in south Wales stands proud among the medieval fortifications and strongholds in the United Kingdom and is classed among the finest in Europe. Many believe that the grounds are haunted by spirits of the de Clare family, ghostly soldiers, as well as by the Green Lady, a banshee-elf type creature who rises from the moat at night.
Glamis Castle, one of the most haunted castles in Great Britain, was the talk of Europe during the second half of the 19th century. The castle was connected with tales involving secret passages, hidden prisoners, initiation rites, and shadowy figures seen on the ramparts late at night.
The secret was apparently so extraordinary that only three people were ever allowed to know it at one time: The Earl, the Earl’s heir (after he reached his 21st birthday), and the estate manager, known as a factor. Many suspect that the mystery died with the 14th Earl; however, visitors cannot deny the chilling atmosphere felt in the Castle, especially in the lonely hours past midnight.
The first ghost that was said to haunt the castle corridors was that of Lady Janet Douglas. Caught up in regional politics, Lady Janet was accused of poisoning her husband (the 6th Lord of Glamis) and ultimately was convicted of witchcraft in 1537. She was burned at the stake in Edinburgh. The spirit of Lady Janet is said to favor the castle’s clock tower.
Yet the most famous legend of Glamis Castle is that of an unknown prisoner, often referred to as a monster, held in a secret hidden chamber . The Monster of Glamis has been described as deformed, hairy, ‘a human toad,’ and always terrifying to behold.
Some witnesses claim to have seen the strange creature’s shadow as he prowled the battlements late at night. One story tells how a castle workman unexpectedly found a door that led to a long, unfamiliar passageway. Walking along in eerie silence, the man is said to have seen ‘something’ at the far end of the passage. He fled and immediately reported his encounter to the factor. He was promptly urged to emigrate to Australia.
Seductive, voluptuous, hot, fast, flawed, sexy, modest beginnings, all-American, iconic, hits the big time in 1953, gone forever in the fall of ’62, immortal, unforgettable. The Corvette and Marilyn Monroe entered my life on the very same day in August 1960, both unleashing a visceral response that my seven-year old body had never experienced before. Fifty-some years later, looking at my pictures of this Sexy Corvette, I suddenly made the obvious connection: the Corvette and Marilyn both represent that key moment in our personal and collective lives when innocence was lost.
Both had modest beginnings. Norma Jean Mortenson was the product of a broken and dysfunctional family in working class Los Angeles. The Corvette borrowed its frame, suspension, brakes, engine and Powerglide automatic from a 1953 Chevy sedan. Its “Blue Flame” six cylinder engine was an evolution of Chevy’s first six that was probably conceived about the same time as Norma Jean was.
Both hampered by expedient but damaging early choices: the Corvette’s feeble six teamed with the Powerglide and Marilyn’s nude pictures; youthful making-do with their given assets, innocent of their latent potential. But Americans are a forgiving folk, and in 1953, Marilyn finally found the right vehicle as well as a new on-screen persona for success in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, her first big hit.
And in 1955, the Corvette finally found its ability to seduce gentlemen who prefer V8s, thanks to Chevy’s brilliant new small block. One learned to act, the other to fly; both now hit their stride, right into the hearts and pants of mid-fifties America.
The Corvette and Marilyn both first entered my life on the very same day: August 29, 1960, just two days after we arrived from Austria. I was completely innocent of the existence of either of them prior to that fateful day. I first laid eyes on the Corvette while on a sightseeing tour of Manhattan, which already had my senses buzzing. An Ermine White ’57 was tooling down Park Avenue with its top down, alluring and seductive, and for the first time I experienced feelings that a car had never induced before. Up to then, my passion for cars had been strictly platonic.
That very evening, Marilyn gave me an encore of that feeling, with that inimitable seductive look of hers emanating from the pages of a Look magazine. I felt myself sucked into a vortex of a foreign world I didn’t yet understand, but wanted to, badly. While the rest of my family struggled with the strange surroundings, a foreign language and jet lag, I was already head over heels in love with all things American, thanks to those two. America’s unlimited possibilities grabbed me by the balls I barely knew I had.
The Corvette created its legend thanks to its most obvious assets: sexy looks and a red-hot V8. That engine’s full potential was unleashed by its new performance coach Zora Arkus Duntov and his magic camshaft. In 1957, when the new 283 cubic inch engine was blessed with fuel injection, its 283 horses feeding through a new four-speed transmission and the right rear axle numbers vaulted the fiberglasstic ‘Vette to untouchable performance: Zero to sixty in 5.7 seconds, and the quarter mile in 14.3 seconds at over 90 mph. Unbelievable numbers for a streetable and affordable production car; it would be a decade and another hundred cubic inches before they were bettered. The Corvette went racing, racking up an impressive record against the exotic semi-production European sports-racing cars. Once the Corvette was given the right parts, it became a credible and world-class competitor.
Marilyn discovered the Actor’s Studio the same year that the ‘Vette found its V8, and she broke through to new levels in her performances thanks to acting coach Paula Strasberg. They unleashed new levels in her performances, earning her a nomination for a Golden Globe that year for Bus Stop. Once dismissed as lightweights by Hollywood and the racing world, both were now firing on all their cylinders, thanks to the right parts and proper coaching.
Although darlings of the moment, they both couldn’t fully escape their intrinsic limitations. As stylish as the Corvette’s cockpit may have been on the Motorama stands in 1952, when it came to actually living with one, its ergonomic shortcomings were all too obvious. That delicious big wheel was practically in your face, the instruments were more about looks than being intelligible, and the Corvette’s ride, braking and real-world handling were anything but effortless. Their shortcomings demanded unconditional love and devotion.
Marilyn’s temperament, insecurities and complexities were hardly the stuff of smooth rides and easy handling for the men in her life. Joe DiMaggio lasted a year before the bumps became unbearable; but he never quite got over her either. She got under men’s skin, in both definitions of those words.
Although the Corvette was capable of winning races with the right parts and preparation, that’s not to suggest that it was a world class sports car. Its crude underpinnings were hard to hide, even with that veneer of plastic fantastic. I spoke to a guy recently who bought a new Corvette in 1962, like this one, on a whim. He was heading to California from NY for a new job, and he figured he would treat himself for the drive cross the country,and recreate the Route 66 tv show with him in the leading role.
He said it was faster than stink, but he sold it as soon as he arrived in LA; the harsh ride, primitive handling, crappy brakes, and lack of creature comforts just didn’t wear well with him. It was a short, intense, but exhausting fling, and he traded it in on…damn; I can’t remember, but it was something from Europe, and it had a proper suspension, brakes and comfortable seats. Maybe even a Peugeot. But his eyes lit up as he remembered that wild trip in his Corvette.
It didn’t take long for Marilyn to find a new hubby, Arthur Miller. Although it lasted longer, Marilyn’s exhausting unpredictability, fits and intense mood swings made their marriage anything but a smooth ride. The Corvette and Marilyn extracted plenty of pain in exchange for their pleasures.
I was innocent of the Corvette’s crude underpinnings when I first fell for it in 1960. A cart-axle rear end suspended from a pair of leaf springs and rum brakes were looking mighty primitive compared to the complex IRS rear ends that Mercedes and Jaguar were showing off under their skirts. Never mind their disc brakes and OHC engines.
My eyes began to wander; innocence is so easily lost. By 1962, it was impossible to deny that the Corvette was past its prime.
Bill Mitchell, that master plastic surgeon, gave the Corvette’s drooping buttocks one of the finest lifts ever seen: a delightfully crisp new ass for 1961, borrowed from one of his shark-inspired concepts. It may have distracted the eyes from what was hidden beneath it, but that was the extent of it. despite the years, Marilyn’s own rear was aging better, even without intervention.
That’s not say everything was hunky-dory with Marilyn, by any stretch. A troubled beginning is hard to shake off, and she was much more intelligent, complex, and idealistic than her carefully-cultivated public persona might suggest. She was praised by actors and directors alike for her talents and comic genius. Marilyn was not the blond bimbo she played so perfectly. But she was trapped by her creation and the public’s expectations.
Her last movie, “The Misfits”, is a true gem, and in it she finally breaks out of her typecast to a considerable degree, and embodies the forces of social change that were just starting to swirl about. Marilyn and the Corvette were now parting ways. Her Misfits co-star, Clarke Gable, also in his last role, embodies the dying era of the rugged cowboy individualist, not unlike the rough and ready C1 Corvette.
Marilyn only barely got through the film’s shooting. Drugs and alcohol didn’t help. A visitor to the set later described Monroe as “mortally injured in some way.” In her last interview, she said prophetically: “What the world really needs is a real feeling of kinship. Everybody: stars, laborers, Negroes, Jews, Arabs. We are all brothers … Please don’t make me a joke. End the interview with what I really believe.” Might sound a touch trite, but it’s more true than ever today.
The Misfits is about the great change that was in the air, the end of the era still associated with cowboys, hunting and male patriarchy. Marilyn represented the future: idealistic, humanitarian, environmentally aware, and…feminine.
Obviously comparisons with cars ultimately only go so far. The Corvette was a machine, locked into its role by its creators. Marilyn was evolving, struggling to break free from the world that she came from and had used for her benefit. But it wasn’t working for her anymore. The rift between her true self and her persona was becoming untenable.
The C1 Corvette was nearing the end of its run, but at least it was injected with a burst of final-year energy, in the form of the brilliant new 327 small block. Now the Corvette had the best all-round performance engine in the world, and European exotic car manufacturers were lining up to buy it to power their Iso Grifos, Bizzarinis, and the like. But the original Corvette’s time had run out, and in the fall of 1962 the new 1963 Sting Ray inherited the ’62 Vette’s tidy tail and the 327 but little else, to finally take its place among the world-class sports cars of the day.
The Magical Myrtos Beach on Kefalonia Island
Kefalonia is an island in the Ionian Sea, west of mainland Greece. It’s marked by sandy coves and dry rugged landscapes. Its capital, Argostoli, is built on a hillside overlooking a narrow harbor. Kefalonia’s indented coastline is made up of limestone cliffs, bays and short strips of white sand, like Myrtos Beach in the north. Many beaches are only accessible on foot or via narrow twisting roads.