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Car of the Future

Last night, to end a very silly not-argument about the word “recidivist” and its proper spelling, I took to Joel’s gigantic dictionary, a Webster’s New Twentieth Century Unabridged Dictionary from 1972. After I’d won the argument (heh) I spent a bit of time just thumbing through the tome, because I like dictionaries and just randomly discovering words. What I discovered yesterday, however, were two sections of color plates one of which contained the following images:

This is the full page of Automobiles. The bottom row caught my eye:
Initially, I’d been charmed that Webster’s saw fit to feature an AMC Javelin and a Jensen Interceptor, two cars of roughly equivalent merit from their respective countries.
I’d kind of glossed over the “Car of the Future” at the time, dismissing it as a flight of fancy from a bored illustrator.
Unbidden, it kept resurfacing in my brain. It looked like it had to have been some kind of Italian supercar concept from the 1970s. A little bit of Google action very swiftly turned up some proper information. This was a Pininfarina-designed Ferrari concept car from 1969, the 512 S Berlinetta Speciale concept. For a multi-view photogallery, click here. And for a view of that fashion model’s leopard-spotted bottom, there are a few more photos presumably from Pininfarina’s archives on Tumblr. This concept car was sufficiently exciting to make it to Hot Wheels scale, apparently, but the actual car was never put into production. I kind of think we might have had that particular Hot Wheels car in a little bin of toys at my elementary school when I was a kid. It really, really looks familiar.

I don’t know what it says about me as a person that I would, could, and did turn up images and information for an obscure supercar concept design after viewing vaguely-labeled thumbnail illustration in a 42-year-old dictionary, but there it is.

9 Responses to “Car of the Future”

  1. Mark says:

    I’m always astonished by how wrong most of those “Cars of Future” things turn out. Very few production cars ever look anything like the concept cars they are supposed to be based on. I think the unfortunately named Ford Probe of 1989 was fairly close to the concept car, otherwise I can’t think of any.

    Fact is that taste in cars varies very little from generation to generation. Most people like to think they are unlike their parents and grandparents, but if you look at the dimensions of today’s ubiquitous minivans and CUVs they are identical to the frump-mobiles of the 40’s, 50s and 60s.

  2. Meetzorp says:

    I was just thrilled that I was able to confirm that the so-called “car of the future” was actually a legitimate car design. I’d initially thought it was just the illustrator having fun, so to find out that it was actually a concept car was great. I wonder what the Ferraris of today would look like if they’d actually gone into production with this design. Looks like it could have really been a Lamborghini killer. It would have come out just between the Miura and Countach, and would have had every bit the schoolboy-bedroom-poster appeal of any Lambo. Ferrari have largely produced more serious cars which makes them a bit more respectable as a marque, but not perhaps as theatrically iconic as their upstart competitor.

  3. Mark says:

    Ferrari always outsold Lamborghini. Yes, Ferrari was always the more respectable make, Lambo being the preferred ride of NBA stars and drug lords.

    Actually, I was never really a fan of “super cars” on account of them being constructed of unobtainium. As a boy I was more interested in 60s Mustangs. There was one Ferrari that really put the hook in me, the Daytona Spyder. http://i1.ytimg.com/vi/lKsgGQwUlGc/maxresdefault.jpg

    The TV show Miami Vice first broadcast when I was in college. I tuned in a couple of times, and immediately fell in love…with Sonny Crockett’s Ferrari Daytona http://pics.imcdb.org/0is373/bitmap203mo.2098.jpg

    I wasn’t the only one who noticed that Miami Vice Ferrari. The car got so much attention, all the car rags wrote stories about it. I was both shocked and delighted to find out that it was an imposter. It wasn’t really a Ferrari at all. The car was constructed using a replica Ferrari body and the rolling chassis from a C3 Corvette donor car. The fake Ferrari body and interior were produced by a company in California, McBurnie Coachcraft http://www.wysk.com/index/california/santee/ak43mtt/mcburnie-coachcraft-inc/profile

    I immediately wrote to McBurnie Coachcraft inquiring about their Daytona Spyder kit….this was in the days before the intrawebz. A week later the people at McBurnie sent me a packet of brochures and sales literature, including a pamphlet detailing the steps to construct one of their replica Ferrari Daytonas. McBurnie offered a body kit alone, a body kit with a replica Ferrari interior kit, or a “turn-key” car….a fully built Daytona replica ready to roll. The cost of the body/interior kit was $7K…. a lot of money back in the 80s, especially for a broke-ass college student. That didn’t include the cost of obtaining a suitable Corvette donor car. I figured that the DIY costs would have come to about $20K total. Expensive, but not impossible for a guy with a job…which I didn’t have at the time.

    Oh well, I was not too far from graduating, and I figured I’d get a job and build my project car. No such luck. Like I said, a lot of people noticed that Miami Vice replica……including Enzo Ferrari. Soon after the show hit the airwaves, Enzo hired a hit-team of lawyers and put McBurnie Coachcraft out of biz. So the fake Ferraris are no more, and unless I hit the Megamillions, a real one remains out of reach as well.

  4. Meetzorp says:

    I’m in favor of supercars and exotics for the same reason that I admire haute couture fashion. It’s something neat to look at. I have no aspirations to drive a Ferrari nor to wear a Valentino ballgown, but I’m very happy to admire them from afar. Our world would be a lot duller were it not for the exquisite insanity that comes from the high-zoot end of the design maniacs!

  5. Mark says:

    Well, that’s a good attitude. You’re a better man than I am…..I’m a petty, spiteful, envious, vengeful little man…….just like Chris Christie. When I see something I want, but can’t have because little details, like money, get in my way, my lust turns to hatred.

    I look a car like a Ferrari 599 GTO, that looks like sex on wheels, I want it. I want it bad. I want it all for myself. But even used examples cost $178K. http://www.centralnewjersey.ferraridealers.com/en_us/used/2007/ferrari/599-gtb-fiorano/2007-ferrari-599-gtb-fiorano-red-edison-for-sale-zfffc60a670155368

    Fuck you, Ferrari, fuck you to hell. I gotta stop typing now. My tears of impotent rage are dripping into the keyboard.

  6. Meetzorp says:

    Hehehe. I figure there are cars that I admire that are theoretically within reach someday. An older Porsche 911, for example. They’re never cheap, but they’re not Ferrari expensive. Or an old Jaguar XJS. I really love an XJS – they’re exactly the right kind of ugly. There’s something about a car whose design can best be summed up by the word “ungainly” that usually piques my interest.

    This may also explain my rather unsightly collection of 1970s dresses…

  7. Mark says:

    Used 911 or XJS? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! DON’T DO IT! I tell you this as one of the damned. Buying any “high end” car cheap with the idea of fixing it up is a MISTAKE.

    A few years ago I bought a used Cadillac Seville. This is not my car, but it looks just like this. Same color, same wheels. http://static.cargurus.com/images/site/2010/12/04/03/40/1994_cadillac_seville_4_dr_sts_sedan-pic-6092031812978863301.jpeg This car cost $40K new. It had 52K miles on when I bought it for $1,500. “Nice body. Nice interior. Needs work.” I’m a handy guy, I can fix stuff. It even came with the factory repair manual. So I brought it home. Well, I got it running……I’ve got the scars all over my knuckles to prove it. It’s still running, although it’s got only 77K miles on it now. I don’t drive it that much since gas went up to near $4/gal. (V8 Engine sucks gas like it was designed by an oil sheik)

    Now every time I walk past it sitting there on the driveway, I think to myself, “You know, you could have bought a Glock for $500 and shot yourself instead.”

    There is something to said for being rich. You buy new or lease, if there is a problem you return it to the dealer. When it’s out of warranty, you buy new again. Got any lucky lottery numbers?

  8. Meetzorp says:

    Hehe, my Dad has a theory of the “minus-$500 car.” That by even allowing the thing to be dragged into your driveway, you already are $500 in the hole. Even if the car was free. My old Scirocco was one of those. God, it was fun to drive, though, when it was running.


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