Yes, the road.

Yes, the road.
Eagle Nest, New Mexico. “People like to drive because driving is actually and symbolically an almost perfect mechanism for escape…there is probably no human being who does not have troubles, real or imagined, from which he at times feels the need to flee.” George R. Stewart.


My photo
Brooklin, Maine, United States
We own a 1975 GMC Sierra Grande 15 in Maine and a 1986 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe 10 in West Texas. Also a pair of 1997 Volvo 850 wagons. Average age in the fleet is 28 years--we're recycling. I've published 3 novels: THE LAW OF DREAMS (2006), THE O'BRIENS (2012), and CARRY ME (2016). Also 2 short story collections: NIGHT DRIVING(1987) and TRAVELLING LIGHT (2013). More of my literary life is at I was a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study for 2012-13. I'm an adjunct professor at Colorado College and in the MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte. In 2015-16 I was a Fellow at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The Autoliterate office is in Car Talk Plaza in Harvard Square, 2 floors above Dewey Cheatem & Howe. SUBSCRIBE TO THE AUTOLITERATE DAILY EMAIL by hitting the button to the right.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Stateline Speedway

Dirt track racing in upstate New York, circa 1959. This 8mm footage was up on Jalopy Journal. As Ryan says, mute the music, you don't need it.

1959 Ford, going fast

Some great period stuff up here at the Chautauqua County (New York) Sports Hall of Fame.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Another Ambassadorship for sale: 1970 Ambassador

Remember the Ambassador from India we came across in Holland last year? That was a stately set of subtropical wheels. At first we thought it was London taxicab gone astray. American Motors Ambassadors haven't lasted as long in the market. We caught this one in Maine at the beginning of this endless winter.  Caught a 1966 Ambassador, downeast, around Thanksgiving time. Both are for sale: this one's at Motorland in Biddeford. Maybe Maine winters always feel that way--endless--in the last week of February. And, hey, there's all of March to look forward to. (Aw, quit whining.) The problem is, even with the Autoliterate eye for all things vernacular, there's something a little deep-frozen about Maine right now. Too many parkas, too much gray snow, too many damn Subarus. And just what happened to America's sense of car color? What happened to the flamboyant two-tone paint jobs? It seems every car in Maine blurs into the same narrow palette, which starts and ends at silver, and in between rarely ventures out beyond gray, taupe, and various other mud-inspired hues. Even the reds around here look kinda subdued: like dried blood. I like the lincoln green on the Ambassador though the interior upholstery and faux-woodgrain is a Seventies thing that didn't work for me at the time and never will. Reminds me of David and Julie Eisenhower, somehow. It was 70s vinyl like this that made me into an organic Banff old-pickup truck-driving hippie. But the car has its points, I'll agree. The 390 c.i.  engine was out of the AMX and undoubtedly gave the car some zoom, even if your grandmother was behind the wheel.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

1939 Ford pickup, a White truck, A Detroit Diesel, and a Cape Dory

A shed full of sailboats can be a stunning aesthetic experience. Reminds me of the dinosaur room in the Museum of Natural History. It's all about scale. Even small boats are big, as objects go, and they seem even bigger out of the water, sitting on their keels, nimbly balanced with jackstands.

These photographs were taken this morning at Bill Grant's Boat Storage in Sedgwick, Maine, where Scout our Cape Dory 25 has been spending the winter.  Have you read my sailing piece in this month's Maine magazine? No? Well, rush out and buy a copy, because the website is still stuck on the May issue.
    Sorry, but I can't resist a Scout close-up.

              But I digress. I brought a camera over to the boatyard to photograph...trucks. The first is a White Compact tractor, a model that was in production starting in 1960. This one has a boat trailer attached but its been out of action for a while. What appeals, as always with working trucks, is the bluntness, spareness, and simplicity of form.
 I also like the multiple layers of weathered paint and primer. Hard to duplicate this paint job.

Here she was when new, in a 1961 advertisement.

Another interesting truck at Bill Grant's this week is this 1939 Ford pickup, which looks like the 3/4 ton version, and appears to be mostly original, with the original V8 still on board. Bill was doing a brake job and repacking bearings. (1939 was the first year these trucks had hydraulic brakes.) She was repainted at some point: see the original red interior.

And, finally, Bill Grant's old workhorse of a Mack, getting its battery charged and ready for launch season. Bill uses the boom to step masts on sailboats launched at Sedgwick Town Landing. Hope he'll be stepping the mast on Scout this week.

There's always something interesting going on at the boatyard. Here is what a Detroit Diesel engine looks like when she is pulled out of a lobster boat after 35 years of work. (The boat was Cheryl Allan, out of Deer Isle. A new(er) Detroit Diesel went in.) That's Bill Grant in the background, picking up the transmission with his forklift.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Anne Petersen: "2 Lanes, 1 Life: The America Far From the Freeway"

You ought to have a look at Anne  Petersen's "2 Lanes, 1 Life: The America Far From the Freeway." It's up at Pacific Standard.
“The archaeologists of some future age will study [the freeway] … to understand who we were.”
—David Brodsly, L.A. Freeway: An Appreciative Essay
“Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything.”
Charles KuraltCharles Kuralt’s America

Saturday, February 22, 2014

1954 Ford F100 in the Blue Ridge

She was for sale when I drove through Buena Vista, Virginia last month on the book tour. Rat rod potential, certainly. More on these trucks here. 

Dinky Toys: Perils of Memory

Got the Plymouth taxi June 23, 1962. Last day of second grade. Got the Bedford lorry 8th birthday. Traded Howie Wolfe down the street an ambulance for the Plymouth woody. Got the Dodge police car one winter for being sick with croup. The El Camino for a birthday, maybe 8th. Still going strong. These things were built.

Work truck, Assisi

from Don Culbertson, last summer in Italia:

Thursday, February 20, 2014

1959 Rambler

From our man in the Bay Area, Michael S Moore:

"This just in, Idaho plates; parked all day on First Street (Benicia) . Only slightly battered, all original...they sure did pick the right parking spot.."--MSM

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Dinky Toys: Michael Moore

Below from Michael Moore, and referring to last year's Autoliterate Dinky Toy throwdown with Chip Lord:

"...So, now that I'm back, here are some earlier examples [I wasn't much into the passenger cars, unless they looked like Model A Fords, which the little Austins did, sort of; as a kid I only had the sedan, and it only came in blue]; That would be an MGTC on the left...
Trucks were always favorites, though these predated even MY boyhood.  Most were picked up in the mid-seventies as my first marriage was disintegrating...
Nice aerodynamic motor coach, original paint throughout...
This van, I think, is original to me; one of the few actual survivors...
Trucks like these I actually had also...
And Jeeps; these came to me later [those windshields would NEVER have survived my abuses]...
On the other hand, one not a Dink; one of those cast Brooklin models, but, given your wagon proclivity, I thought you'd appreciate this one;
and others, where they live.
But we try to resist the collecting impulse, which is easier now as all this stuff is so "collectable" and consequently expensive..."  -MSM