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Four-Links – 50 years of GT-R, DS tiller, exploded Miura, short-frame Buicks

Published in blog.hemmings.com

This past week, as Japanese Nostalgic Car noted, marked the 50th anniversary of Nissan’s GT-R, the sedan with the heart of a race car, designed by Prince engineers working within the company.

What really launched the Hakosuka to legendary status was its much-touted 50 victories in Japan’s various touring car races from 1969 to ’72. The Hakosuka entered its first contest, the 1969 JAF Grand Prix, on March 3, 1969. It immediately claimed four of the five top spots, with an RT55 Toyota 1600GT wedged in between in third place, and Takamichi Shinohara’s No. 39 car taking the checkered flag.

The Skyline GT-R would go on to defeat a wide variety of makes and models—Toyota’s Corolla Sprinter, Corona Mark II, and 2000GT; Isuzu’s Belletts and R6 race car; Lotuses; Hondas; and early Mazda Familia Rotarys. It even bested Nissan’s own Fairlady Z, which surely elicited from the ex-Prince engineers a satisfying chuckle.

* Citroën’s engineers didn’t design a single-spoke steering wheel for the DS for the sake of being weird. Instead, as Ken Nelson at Citroënvie writes, it was a rather ingenious safety innovation in the time before collapsing steering columns.

The French seldom do anything without having a very good reason. Imagine what happens in a head-on collision when your body slams into that steering wheel. Remember the DS was introduced in 1955, when no cars I can think of had belts, let alone shoulder belts.

So, your chest slams into that wheel, if you’re centered on the wheel or not, the RIM bends over, your chest doesn’t get a straight tube punched through your breastbone and most likely kills you, as that tubular—not solid STEEL RING inside all other wheels ever built—bends over and SLIDES your body away from that single spoke that is a hollow tube with a smooth surface on it, and SPREADS the impact over a much larger area of your body than a CENTRAL SPEAR, as used on every other car in the world.

* One thing we learned when putting together a list of cars used in art installations is that photographer Fabian Oefner’s exploding cars series used toy and model cars instead of the real thing. However, his most recent exploding car photograph—a Lamborghini Miura—was made from an actual car under restoration, as PetaPixel wrote.

Over the course of many months, Oefner and his team visited workshops around the Lamborghini Factory in Sant’Agata/Italy to photograph every piece of the car as it was being carefully restored. Oefner ended up capturing more than 1,500 individual photos, which he then weaved together into the final composite image.

* Automotive history is replete with derpadoo moments, among them Buick’s short-frame incident that Mac’s Motor City Garage recently chronicled.

Even a casual glance at the 1939 Buick chassis above will identify something very different about its frame design: It ends abruptly at the rear axle crossmember, without the usual support rails extending to the rear bumper—as if it had been chopped off with a hacksaw. As the story goes, the word came down to Buick from the General Motors Executive Committee, holders of the purse strings, that product cost reductions were in order, and Buick engineers determined that this radical frame redesign was one answer. But once the ’39 models were out in the field, the change proved to be a mistake, as customers began to report collapsing floorpans and buckling rear body panels.

* Finally, Studebaker took on Bonneville with its Avanti in 1963 and produced this video to tell the tale.