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Four-Links – all pro-Previa, Jeep and FCA-Renault, first car on lifts, Casa Grande neon park

Published in blog.hemmings.com

One of the things Internet culture has lost with the advent of social media and Facebook groups is the preponderance of websites dedicated to individual models run by single-minded enthusiasts. All is not lost, though, as we see from Per-Gunnar H. Ågren’s Toyota Previa-focused site, through which we’ve seen more Previa-related content in one place than anywhere else on the Internet lately. (via)

* Before the FCA-Renault merger suddenly and unexpectedly fell apart this past week, the Toledo Blade took a look at the last time the French carbuilder oversaw the Jeep brand, more than 30 years ago.

When Renault spent $200 million in 1980 to take a 49.9-percent share of AMC, it installed Renault executive Jose Dedeurwaerder, a Belgian with 23 years at Renault, as executive vice president of AMC in 1981, and a year later promoted him to president and chief operating officer of American Motors. Frenchman Francois Castaing already had been named AMC vice president of engineering and product in 1980.

In 1985, Renault promoted 33-year-old executive Philippe Cabassol, who was Mr. Dedeurwaerder’s son-in-law, to director of operations for Jeep and manager of the Toledo plant.

At the Jeep plant, Mr. Huber agreed that the work atmosphere became adversarial almost immediately. Upon his arrival, Mr. Cabassol had an elevator installed in the old plant so that he could go straight from the ground floor to his office, and not interact with plant employees.

* Which car first employed hydraulic lifts to get super low? For many years, the Corvette-based X-Sonic was thought to hold that title, but Kustomrama recently researched the topic and came up with another contender: Jim Logue’s 1954 Ford.

In 1956, Jim almost got killed when a whole load of bumpers fell over at the GM plant. He took off running and the top bumper hit him in the elbow. After the accident, Jim began working for North American Aviation where he was put in the experimental department. Jim was driving the car for three years, working on each end of it. In 1957, after he had restyled the front and rear end he began working on the hydraulic suspension. The same year a law was part by Governor Brown against all the lowered cars that had started to pop up all over California. The law, named the California Vehicle Code 24008, outlawed any car having any part of the car lower than the bottom of its wheel rim. “They used to have a rollerskate that they would roll under your car with a stick to check the clearance,” Jim remembers. He got the idea for the hydraulics from a Citroen. Citroen first introduced hydropneumatic suspension in 1954, on the rear suspension of the Traction Avant. The first four-wheel implementation was in the advanced DS in 1955. “Citroen used hydraulics to raise the car and go off-road. It was made to raise, so I did some reverse engineering to make it go low.” Jim thought of hydraulics to make the car practical on the street. “I didn’t have no money, so I used second-hand hydraulic parts from Palley Supply Company.” Palley’s was a war surplus store that sold hydraulic parts. “They had books on it, catalogs on how much, how big, how much stroke, and all this. I couldn’t buy hydraulic cylinders that would stick out the hood, so I had to do measuring and buying things they had that worked. I didn’t know what the catalog numbers were or anything, I just bought stuff I knew that I needed, pumps and everything.”

* Vegas isn’t the only city with its neon heritage on display now that Casa Grande, Arizona, has opened its neon sign park, showcasing the signs that advertised the city’s businesses throughout the 20th Century.

The goal of the Neon Sign Park is preserving Casa Grande’s authentic history, says Rina Rien, the executive director of local nonprofit Casa Grande Main Street. Each of the signs, except for the Dairy Queen “lips” from Route 66, was a major contributor to Casa Grande along the Highway 84 corridor. “During the period of the 1940s through the ’60s, these signs dotted the landscape, and for people who were driving through our town — if you’ve been through the desert at night, it can be a little daunting — you see these signs lit up, and you know you’ve got a place to stay for the night if you can’t make it all the way to Tucson,” she says. “They were like beacons.”

* Finally, two of our favorite old-car-obsessed Brits take a ride through the countryside in a 1968 Dodge Charger. This is probably what it looks like to car enthusiasts in every other country when many Americans start talking furrin’ cars.