A Fab Car From A Fab Stunt: James Bond’s ‘Barrel Roll’ AMC Hornet Up For Auction

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Remember this…?

The stunt was revolutionary.

The vehicle used in this marvy ‘astro spiral’ is soon to be auctioned off. Read all about it in the following entry from Just Collecting – the condition of this beauty attests to the perfection of that cutting-edge stunt.


1974 AMC Hornet Front Right Tire Profile

A car used in one of the most famous James Bond stunts of all-time is heading for auction later this year.

Auctions America is set to offer the AMC Hornet used for the iconic barrel-roll jump in The Man with the Golden Gun, in which Roger Moore corkscrews over a collapsed bridge in Thailand.

Completed in a single take by stunt driver Loren ‘Bumps’ Willard, years before the advent of CGI, the stunt remains one of the most spectacular car jumps in movie history.

The 1974 AMC Hornet X ‘Astro-Spiral’ stunt car is expected to sell for $250,000 – $350,000 when it goes under the hammer in Auburn, Indiana over the Labour Day weekend.

1974 AMC Hornet

The stunt was originally conceived by US racing driver Jay Milligan, who first performed it at the Houston Astrodome back in 1972.

He then contacted the producers of the James Bond movie series, who immediately snapped up the rights to use the stunt in their next instalment.

To make sure the stunt went according to plan whilst filming on location, and ensure the safety of their driver, producers used groundbreaking computer technology to simulate the jump beforehand.

They turned to computer engineer Raymond R. McHenry, who had designed a pioneering piece of simulation software known as HVOSM (Highway Vehicle Object Simulation Model) whilst working at Calspan

The mathematical computer model had been created to simulate car accidents, and help design safer vehicles. But McHenry realised that he could also use it to design a really cool car stunt, and spent two years perfecting it.

When it came time to actually perform the stunt, the painstaking calculations and planning paid off.

1974 AMC Hornet 'Astro Spiral'

Willard nailed the jump on the first attempt, with the car landing exactly where McHenry’s software had predicted it would.

The result was cinematic and technological history – the first movie stunt ever designed on a computer.

McHenry’s software was years ahead of its time, and led directly to the simulation models used by modern-day racing video games.

Having loaned his original stunt car to the production, Jay Milligan then shipped his AMC Hornet back to the U.S, where it remained in his collection for more than 40 years.

The Auctions America Auburn Fall Sale takes place at the historic Auburn Auction Park from August 31 until September 3.

via Just Collecting

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Frank Tinsley: Concept Artist With An Eye On The Future

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Frank Tinsley (1899-1965) was a concept artist during a time when the imagination was the only limit. During the late 1940s and through much of the 1950s, Tinsley found a home at Mechanix Illustrated magazine. He wrote and illustrated numerous articles that mused about the future of technology, transportation, strategic military weapons and equipment, and space exploration. Tinsley was a man with a lot of ideas.

When America Bosch Arma Corporation decided to run an advertising campaign to promote their inertial and military guidance systems and space technology, they turned to Frank Tinsley to illustrate their concepts. Below are some his works for the Steps In The Race To Outer Space campaign, with descriptions from the adverts.

Lunar Unicycle - Illustration: Frank Tinsley, 1958

This 30-foot high Unicycle is designed for preliminary exploration of the moon, once a base camp has been established. It’s entirely constructed of inflated, rubberized fabric, with the exception of strengthening members, hatches and a few other items of equipment. Gyros stabilize and steer the vehicle: electric motors furnish the driving power. – Illustration: Frank Tinsley, 1958.

Assembling A Station In Space - Frank Tinsley, November 1958

This imaginative but technically accurate illustration shows a permanent satellite (center) being constructed in orbit around the Earth. It generates its own heat and electricity from solar rays. Basic vegetation (such as algae) for oxygen as well as protein-rich foods are grown in hydroponic tubes in upper level ‘greenhouses.’ – Illustration: Frank Tinsley, November 1958.

Mars Snooper - Frank Tinsley, January 1959

This nuclear-fueled reconnaissance craft is preparing to land on Mars’ outermost satellite, Deimos – 12,000 miles away from the ‘red planet’ (center) and 35 million miles away from Earth. – Illustration: Frank Tinsley, January 1959.

Cosmic Butterfly - Frank Tinsley, March 1959

Spreading its wings to absorb the eternal flow of solar energy is the Cosmic Butterfly, a space vehicle of a type first conceived by Dr. Ernst Stuhlinger of Redstone Arsenal. – Illustration Frank Tinsley, March 1959.

Escape In Space - Illustration: Frank Tinsley, March 1960

The space-assembled super satellites of the future will periodically encounter disaster – collision, mechanical failure, military attack, or the long chance of being hit by a meteorite. When this happens, ‘lifeboats’ like the one shown here will bring the crews safely back to Earth. – Illustration: Frank Tinsley, March 1960.

Breaking A Space Traffic Jam, Frank Tinsley, May 1960

By 1970 our solar system will be filled with expended satellites – whirling aimlessly in space with dead batteries and electronic equipment, their missions long since completed.
As space traffic increases, these derelicts will have to be captured and put out of orbit to keep flight paths clear. For this task, special towboats will be designed and crews trained. – Illustration: Frank Tinsley, May 1960.

(adverts via nevsepic.com.ua)

In Which Automotive Design Had Character, Creativity, and Kool

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Being a big fan of mid-20th century concept cars, and being in the market for a new car in the early 21st century, it can be a very deflating reality check on how disappointing the future has become. One could go from make to make, lot to lot, row to row – after about three or four different stops it sinks in. 21st century automotive design is merely an exercise in the standard and mundane.

Yes, there are a lot of gadgets that were first conceptualized in the mid-20th century flourish of creative imaginings found within today’s vehicles – but the designs. You have your standard sedan, you have your standard coupe, your standard fuel-efficient – interestingly enough, the micro-cars seem to have the only standout designs around. The same can be said of the ‘throwbacks’ that are smartly being re-realized by a couple American auto companies. For most vehicles today, if it weren’t for the make medallions it’s nearly impossible to tell what is what.

So, as a reminder of the good ol’ days when auto design was still an art and an enthusiastic expression of things to come, let’s take a look at some of the creative, and yes, sometimes ‘way out’ concepts from the fantastic world of mid-20th century design. Once aptly referred to as ‘dream cars.’

1951 Buck XP-300

1951 Buick XP-300

1951 Buick LeSabre Concept

1951 Buick LeSabre Concept

1952 Chrysler D’Elegance

1952 Chrysler D’Elegance

1953 Ford X-100

1953 Ford X-100

1954 Ford FX-Atmos

1954 Ford FX-Atmos

1954 Packard Panther-Daytona Roadster Concept

1954 Packard Panther-Daytona Roadster Concept

1954 GM XP-21 Firebird

1954 GM XP-21 Firebird 1

1954 Pontiac Bonneville Special

1954 Pontiac Bonneville Special

1955 Buick Wildcat

1955 Buick Wildcat

1955 Chevrolet Biscayne Motorama Dream Car Concept

1955 Chevrolet Biscayne Motorama Dream Car Concept

1955 Ghia Gilda Streamline X Coupe

1955 Ghia Gilda Streamline X Coupe

1955 Lincoln Indianapolis Concept

1955 Lincoln Indianapolis Concept

1956 Buick Centurion Concept

1956 Buick Centurion Concept

1957 Dodge Dart Concept

1957 Dodge Dart Concept

1957 Chrysler Diablo Concept

1957 Chrysler Diablo Concept

1957 Gaylord Gladiator

1957 Gaylord Gladiator

1959 Cadillac Cyclone Concept

1959 Cadillac Cyclone Concept

1960 GM Firebird IV Concept

1960 GM Firebird IV Concept

1960 Ford Predicta Custom

1960 Ford Predicta Custom

1961 Chrysler Turboflite Concept

1961 Chrysler Turboflite Concept

1962 Ford Cougar 406 Concept

1962 Ford Cougar 406 Concept

1962 Ford Ghia Selene II Concept

1962 Ford Ghia Selene II Concept

1964 GM-X Stiletto Concept

1964 GM-X Stiletto Concept

1964 Mercury Comet Super Cyclone

1964 Mercury Comet Super Cyclone

1964 Ford Aurora Concept

1964 Ford Aurora Concept

1965 Cadillac XP-840 Eldorado Fastback Concept

1965 Cadillac XP-840 Eldorado Fastback Concept

1965 CRV Piranha by Gene Winfield

1965 CRV Piranha by Gene Winfield

And something a bit different:

The 1965 GMC Bison Bullet

The 1965 GMC Bison Bullet

Phew! So there ya have it. Love ’em or hate ’em one thing’s for sure – these concepts stir up a reaction. They have personality. They have guts. Not everyone was impressed during the ‘dream car’ heydays. We’ll leave this post with just one more image – Ken Johnson of the New York Times will have the last word.

Russ Heath 'Capri Satellite' cartoon parody (1957)

Russ Heath ‘Capri Satellite’ cartoon parody (1957)

The Capri Satellite, drawn in black ink by Russ Heath in 1957, is a cartoon parody of futuristic cars. Part Sputnik, part Edsel, it is a spherical flying machine with fins and antennas and a comically elaborate front bumper and grille. This and other satiric images suggest that for every true believer there was a skeptic ready to pounce on the goofy excesses of imagination to which visionaries are prone.

Don't Tread On Me

The 1936 Morgan Sports MX2 ‘Cyclecar’ – The Original Triker Bike

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The Morgan Sports MX2 1936 (8754)

The Morgan Sports MX2 1936 (8754)

Manufacturer: Morgan Motor Company, Malvern (Worcestershire) – UK
Type: Sports (MX2)
Engine: 990cc V-Twin air-cooled
Power: 22 bhp / 4.500 rpm
Speed: 117 km/h
Production time: 1933 – 1936

Points Of Interest:

– The three-wheeled Morgan or ‘trike,’ as it is also known, was built in response to the British tax on four-wheeled automobiles (considered to be cyclecars).

– Until 1933 Morgan used John Alfred Prestwich (J.A.P.) engines, later the Matchless MX, MX2 and MX4 engines.

– This “Sports Model” has a Matchless MX2 V-Twin air-cooled engine, a three-speed manual gearbox (+ reverse), an electric starter, front and rear separated/independent drum brakes (cable controlled), a AMAL carburettor, a 18 liters fuel tank and rear wheel drive (chain drive train).

– It has independent front suspension with shock absorbers and a rigid rear axle.

– It could be ordered with either none, one or two doors.

– This Sports model (built between 1932 and 1939) replaced the Aero.

(Photo and Descriptions via Le Photiste)

The Time A Catholic Priest Dared To Challange Convention…And Was Destroyed

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Father Alfred Juliano at the wheel of his Aurora Car

Father Alfred Juliano at the wheel of his Aurora Car, Developed with the object of maximizing safety for both occupants and pedestrians.

Despite having no mechanical knowledge, Father Juliano set out to put his heart and soul into that car. I think the whole story is so sad. He died a broken man, because he lost his dream.
– Andy Saunders, Present Owner and Restorer of the Aurora, New York Times, 2007

Father Juliano’s Aurora car certainly is an unusual looking vehicle – the story that goes with it is unusual as well. The photo and the narrative below can be found in Giles Chapman’s fascinating 2009 book, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Extraordinary Automobiles, published by DK Publishing.

Aurora was unveiled [in 1957 and] was fully functioning (rather than a static exhibit). More importantly, the Aurora took careful account of pedestrian safety. This remarkable-looking car was the four-year project of a Catholic priest, Father Alfred Juliano of the Order of the Holy Ghost, with financial help from his congregation. His safety-first outlook led him to include seatbelts, side-impact bars, a collapsible telescoping steering column, and a curved, deeply-padded dashboard free of sharp projections. The seats could be swiveled around in the face of an impending, unavoidable accident. The Aurora’s tinted ‘Astrodome’ roof had three thick, built-in roll-over protection bars. Reporters roasted the car’s unveiling at Manhattan’s Hotel New Yorker, but entirely missed the point because the bizarre plastic contours, with wheels, radiator grille, and lights tucked deep away, were meant to stop a pedestrian from sustaining injury in just about any accidental contact. At a tentative US $12,000, it was almost as costly as the top Cadillac of the era; Father Juliano didn’t receive a single order despite offering a choice of power units. He was later forced to leave his church after allegations of misappropriating parishioner’s cash and personal bankruptcy.

A tragic spin on the proverb: The road to hell is paved with good intentions…?

Check Out The Earliest Known Officially Licensed 1963 Batmobile

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Earliest Known Officially Licensed 1963 Batmobile

Earliest Known Officially Licensed 1963 Batmobile

1963 Officially Licensed Batmobile, Missing For Decades, Ready To Roar In Upcoming Auction:

Built in 1963, toured in 1966 by DC Comics licensee ALL STAR Dairies and believed to be the earliest custom car in existence, used as an officially licensed Batmobile, one of only two known designs used as real Batmobiles during that era; now restored to full Batman glory and will cross the block at Heritage Auctions Dec. 6.

To read more about this fab car’s wild ride since its creation click here.

It’s So Dreamy ~~ The 1953 Lincoln XL-500

It's the Chicago Auto Show in 1953, the dream car Lincoln XL 500 is presented for the first time.
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It's the Chicago Auto Show in 1953, the dream car Lincoln XL 500 is presented for the first time.

It’s the Chicago Auto Show in 1953, the dream car Lincoln XL-500 is presented for the first time.

Advanced sports car styling is combined with practicability and dignity In Ford Motor Company’s experimental design model – the XL-500. Newest in the continuous flow of models constantly being developed by the Company’s engineer staff, the XL-500 offers a glimpse of what is ahead in automotive styling and mechanical features. First public appearance of the model will be in the Lincoln-Mercury exhibit at the Chicago Automobile Show, March 14 – 22.

Lincoln-Mercury News Bureau Press Release, March 12, 1953

Designed to fit comfortably four adult passengers, the XL-500 has a scarlet fiberglass body and all-glass roof. (March 1953 Press Release)

1953 Lincoln XL-500

1953 Lincoln XL-500

Less than 57 inches high, it has arched rear fenders which permit the frame to ride closer to the road. (March 1953 Press Release)

1953 Lincoln XL-500 - Sideview

1953 Lincoln XL-500 – (Side-view)

The XL-500 had push-button transmission in the steering wheel.

LINCOLN XL-500 - Push Button Transmission On Steering Wheel.

LINCOLN XL-500 – Push-Button Transmission On Steering Wheel.

The XL-500 also featured a radio telephone and dictaphone, an electronic calendar, and a power-operated hood and decklid.

1953 XL-500 - Yelephone and Dictaphone

1953 XL-500 – Telephone and Dictaphone

Three separate bumpers protect the rear section…(t)he main rear bumper protrudes from the body deck, the two other vertical bumpers integrated from each of the tail light assemblies.
(March 1953 Press Release)

1953 LINCOLN XL-500 Rear Bumper

1953 LINCOLN XL-500 Rear Bumper

Scarlet fiberglass body with scarlet and white leather seats: The Lincoln-Mercury exhibit at the Chicago Automobile Show, March 14 – 22, 1953:

Scarlet fiberglass body with scarlet and white leather seats.

Scarlet fiberglass body with scarlet and white leather seats.

1953 Lincoln XL-500 with Benson Ford and William Clay Ford and XL-100 with Henry Ford II

1953 Lincoln XL-500 with Benson Ford and William Clay Ford, and XL-100 with Henry Ford II

Black and white photos via Chuck’s Toyland. Color photos via Kustom Kingdom.