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Four-Links – Miataland, motorsports history, L.A. in the ’80s, no-lean Citroen

Published in blog.hemmings.com

Over in Italy, a lifelong Miata fan opened a hotel that gives guests access to an impressive collection of Mazda MX-5s, as Top Gear recently wrote.

Guests are comprehensively outnumbered by cars. The hotel offers only six rooms, but each is airy and dotted with touches that’ll make Miataphiles coo with delight. Beds are upholstered in colours from the original MX-5’s paintwork swatch. Their frames echo the Miata’s chassis spars, featuring triangular cutouts for lightness. The desk chair is, of course, an ex-MX-5 seat, complete with recline lever.

* John Heitmann’s recent paper presentation at the Motorsports History Conference at Watkins Glen notes the challenges in approaching motorsports from a historian’s perspective, something he elaborates on in his introduction to the paper.

One huge difference between Motorsports and Automotive history, despite their common ground, is that many of the most important papers concerning drivers and races connected to Motorsports history are in private hands and seen as private property. Unlike much of automotive history that one can reconstruct using various library holdings, motorsports material is attached to collectible car holdings, or at least jealously guarded. So not any historian can gain access and use critical stuff necessary to write comprehensive histories. Until those owners of these materials realize that they have stewardship responsibilities, and not selfish, personal motives, can motorsports history really emerge as a significant subfield of American and Western History.

* Huck recently took a look at photographer John Humble’s “Los Angeles Cibachromes,” a collection of L.A. street scenes from the Eighties in which the automobiles are as integral to the landscape as the buildings and signage Humble sought out.

“In the 1980s LA was quite polluted,” Humble remembers. “The air was barely breathable, and the landscape represented extremes of juxtapositions: homes and apartments directly contiguous to the industrial areas such as refineries and to freeways.”

“These areas were where the poor and working-class people lived because they were inexpensive. But I found these areas to be quite beautiful since the people had created their own personal landscapes with hand-painted signs on the stores and personal touches to their homes, much of it derived from the multitude of cultures of the enormous numbers of immigrants who lived there.”

* Julius Lindblom wanted to figure out how to keep train cars from leaning excessively in turns, so he perfected his system by using a Citroën DS. As Citroënvie pointed out this week, that car has been found and is going under restoration.

In the summer of 1959, work commenced with Julius Lindblom in Sweden transforming a Citroën DS19 into an advanced prototype vehicle that automatically inclined the car body up to 9 degrees when driving in a curve.

Julius Lindblom patented his suspension innovation but it was never commercialized for cars.

* Finally, while making sure at least one of the gas-turbine Firebirds was mid-engine for the story on the Pontiac X-4 this week, we came across this GM video that shows all sorts of construction details for the XP-21 Firebird I prior to showing the experimental vehicle in action.