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Category Archives: Cars

Designed by Dante Giacosa , The Fiat 500 (cinquecento)was launched as the Nuova 500 in July 1957. Measuring only 3 meters in length, and powered by a 479 cc two-cylinder, air-cooled engine, the 500 is considered one of the first city cars.

In 2007 Fiat launched a similar looking, retro-styled car, the Fiat Nuova 500.

Mrs Kartoshka’s birthday is coming soon- all contributions in US dollars please…

The ЗАЗ-968 Zaporozhets was produced from 1972 to 1980. Here is the charming ЗАЗ-968A, featuring a smaller engine and intended, it would seem, for the female driver.
Note: Since I wrote the above Mrs Kartoshka has informed me that the ЗАЗ-968 A was usually the car of older people, and that women drivers in the Soviet Union were not a common sight outside of Moscow and Leningrad.

Fondly remebered in the former Soviet Union as a ‘peoples’ car’ the ЗАЗ-966 was produced from 1966-1974 in Soviet Ukraine at Запорізький автомобілебудівельний завод(Zaporizhia Automobile Building Plant).

Closely resembling the Hillman Imp and the NSU Prinz 4, the rear mounted engine gave rise to many jokes:

The factory that produces Zaporozhets has started to produce Televisions. The TV’s are fine, work like normal ones, but the screens are at the back…

Any so-called material thing that you want is merely a symbol: you want it not for itself, but because it will content your spirit for the moment.

Mark Twain.

But look at these seat covers!

I would buy a car merely to be able to have these seat covers.
Can you imagine how matted and stained they would get? I would think that they would moult, leaving staticky fibres clinging to your clothes, before they eventually became threadbare and smooth…

Designed for British Motor Corporation by Sir Alec Issigonis, the Mini was developed in response to a fuel shortage caused by the 1956 Suez Crisis.
Minis were produced by the BMC and its successors from 1959 until 2000. An icon of the 1960s, its revolutionary design influenced a generation of car-makers, and was voted the second only to the Ford Model T. as most influential car of the 20th Century.

The Mini Cooper S went into production in 1961 when Sir Alec’s friend John Cooper, owner of the Cooper Car Company and designer and builder of Formula One and rally cars, saw the potential of the Mini for competition.
The Mini Cooper S earned acclaim with Monte Carlo Rally victories in 1964, 1965 and 1967
Rally great Paddy Hopkirk (1933-) is particularly associated with the golden era of the Cooper. Alongside Henry Liddon he won the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally in a Mini Cooper S , the most recent incidence of an all-British crew winning the event.
Hopkirk also enjoyed some success in Australia.He drove for the BMC Works Team in the annual Bathurst 500 race for standard production cars. He drove at Bathurst in a Morris Cooper S from 1965-1967, obtaining a best result of 6th outright and 3rd in class in the 1965 Armstrong 500.

The Mini’s iconic status owes much to Peter Collinson’s classic movie The Italian Job (1969), in which 3 Mini Cooper Ss provide the escape route for the gold, able to navigating the gridlocked Turin traffic in spectacularly unconventional ways. It could have been a very different story, however, as despite the publicity the film would undoubtedly give to the Mini, the BMC, were reluctant to commit to the project, providing only a token fleet of Minis. The production company had to buy the remaining number needed for filming. Italian manufacturer Fiat, however recognized the commercial potential of the film and offered the production team as many super-charged Fiat cars as they needed, along with several sports cars and a cash lump sum of $50,000. The producers turned down the offer because it would have meant replacing the Minis with Fiats, and the rest, as they say…

Remarkable, the Chrysler Corporation introduce a record player for the car!
I found a list of the curious discs that were produced especially for this gadget, and a good write up on this and similar innovations.
I have no idea how well this hi-fi phonograph would have performed on the dirt tracks of yore.
Maybe someone out there remembers listening to a Highway ?

From time to time the music here will reveal a more eclectic taste…
Joao Kartoshka doesn’t drive a car. Ecological reasons? No, he just can’t do it. Too many distractions. Just sitting behind the wheel breaks him out into a nervous sweat.
But if Joao Kartoshka had a car (perhaps if he was driving in his dreams), it would by a Ford Galaxie 500. And even though Joao Kartoshka is a little too old for the cult of car stereo, if he had this dream car he would play music as he drove along. And it would be the Mighty Dub Katz- Magic Carpet Ride…here are four versions of that excellent track from Norman Cook and Gareth Hansome.