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Four-Links – Strick cabunder found, sport compact style, badge-engineering BMCs, Oliver Barthel

Published in blog.hemmings.com

It does exist! A decade ago, I mentioned that one of the Strick cabunder prototypes still exists in Germany, and thanks to a post on Truque, it appears we’ve found it still in operation as a “plateau tractor” serving a number of different uses — including mobile stage — for a truck rental company in Essen. I may have to go over there and rent it just to drive it around…

Photo by Chris Yarzab.

* Does nostalgia necessitate that every automotive trend come back around again? Or, to get more specific with the question, will the sport compact trend — the flashy graphics, the big wings, the coffee can exhausts — soon see a renaissance? Japanese Nostalgic Car’s editors would like to know.

Recently, our Senior Midwest Editor Ryan Senensky and I were debating whether this style would even come back into fashion. I, who was well past drinking age during the “Rice Rocket” era, believe that while people might have nostalgia for the cars, the cars, the Wings West body kits would remain firmly in the past. Ryan, who was in his formative car discovery years when all this was taking place, said it would “absolutely, one hundred percent comeback.” We need you to settle the debate.

* Speaking of car blogs with pressing questions, AROnline wonders why the folks at BMC didn’t imitate the European brand structures rather than badge-engineer their products?

Neither Fiat nor Peugeot were ‘carrying’ multiple names like BMC. No Morris, Wolseley, Riley or MG. Why didn’t Leonard Lord and his management team ditch surplus Nuffield brands after the formation of BMC in 1952? Yes, we know about dealer networks and how powerful they were, but why couldn’t they also be merged like the mothership?

The formation of BMC in 1952 was an Austin takeover of Nuffield, after all. The company could have moved MG from Abingdon to Cowley (combining it with Austin Healey), discontinued Morris and Riley, used the Wolseley name for a decently engineered luxury brand and then doubled Austin production by manufacturing at both Longbridge and Cowley.

Seems so logical now, but back then, obviously not.

* Everybody knows Henry Ford. Charles Brady King is familiar to many American automotive historians. Yet Oliver Barthel is often forgotten or overlooked, even though he helped both of the aforementioned pioneers build their first cars. Mac’s Motor City Garage has more on the young machinist and inventor.

Barthel stayed with King until 1901 when the inventor sold out to Chicago Pneumatic, whereupon Ford hired him to design and build the Sweepstakes racer, alongside Ed “Spider” Huff and C. Harold Wills. When Sweepstakes famously beat the Winton in the match race at Grosse Pointe, Ford won the backing to incorporate his own car company. For his part, Barthel was also a principal in several automotive start-ups but unfortunately, they didn’t survive. (A 1912 automobile of Barthel’s design is shown below.) However, he did go on to a long and successful career as a consulting engineer, mainly to the auto industry, retiring in 1955 with 30 patents to his credit.

* Finally, we weren’t able to shoehorn in a mention of Ted Pritchard’s steam-powered Ford Falcon in our recent looks at postwar steamers, so here’s ABC’s brief look at the car.