My last column looked back over 2018. This one goes way back, but also looks to the future as I toggle back and forth between the motoring choices available one hundred years ago in 1919 and what’s in store for 2019.
Although it seems like the car has been around forever, it’s really only been about a hundred and fifty years, barely a blip in the 13.8 billion year old universe.
The vehicles available in 1919 were numerous, quite varied and technologically advanced.
British manufacturer, Austin, built the large, four-cylinder Twenty that, according to some, was comparable, if not superior, to a Rolls-Royce.
Meanwhile, across the pond, Chevrolet with its maxim “a car for every purse and purpose,” produced the Chevy FB.
The roadster version was known as the Royal Mail and the tourer was nicknamed Baby Grand.
Headquartered in Barcelona, Spain, the brand Hispano-Suiza built engines, their components and, during the war years, aircraft engines.
After the war, the company, a Spanish-Swiss collaboration, went back to vehicle manufacturing and built the H6, whose engine set the pattern for sports cars of the 1920s.
The H6’s brakes were the first of its kind in the industry.
They were light-alloy drums on all four wheels with a power-assist feature that would add pressure to the brakes while the car was decelerating, assisting the driver in stopping the vehicle, essentially the first power brakes.
The technology was later licensed to other manufacturers.
In 1919, luxury Italian automaker Isotta Fraschini, whose main rival was Rolls-Royce, introduced the Tipo 8, the first serial production car in the world to offer an inline eight-cylinder engine.
It made 80 horsepower and its top speed was 137 kilometres per hour. The marque built 1,600 cars from 1919 to 1934.
Today, there are just 250 of the flamboyant vehicles in existence worldwide.
The year 1919 was also when Andre Citroën produced the Type A, one of the first cars with an electric starter and electric lights.
An average price for a vehicle in 1919 was US$826 and a new home averaged US$5,600. A quart of milk cost 12 cents.
Today in Canada, the average price of a vehicle comes in at $36,100 and a new Canadian home averages $481,500.
What will we see on the highways, byways and city streets of Canada in 2019?
How about an Aston Martin Valkyrie? The carbon-fibre-laden ultimate hypercar is a collaboration between Formula 1 Red Bull Racing team and Aston Martin.
It will have a 6.5-litre V12 engine and is rumoured to pack a 1,130-horsepower punch.
At a cost of $3 million U.S. and with only 175 slated for production, there probably won’t be many Nova Scotia sightings of the Valkyrie in 2019 though all 175 models, 150 for road and 25 for track, are said to be sold.
Slightly closer to reality but with a heavy leaning toward the future, the 2019 Audi e-Tron is Audi’s first foray into electrification.
The e-tron is an all-electric, all-wheel drive SUV that can go 400 kilometres on one charge. The price tag of US$75,000 (Canadian pricing yet to be announced) puts it firmly in the luxury category. Welcome to 2019.
Toyota’s superstar and ubiquitous hybrid, the Prius, has been around for 22 years and is still the best-selling hybrid in the U.S. so what’s so new about it?
This year, Prius adds an independent electric motor to the rear wheels bringing the world the first Prius with all-wheel drive.
Known as the Prius AWD-e, the AWD system kicks in at speeds between zero and 10 km/h.
Canadians should love this. Enough to push Toyota back into the number one spot for sales in Canada? Time will tell.
Time always has tricks up its sleeve. Like making us wait indefinitely for the first-ever mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette, and the first of the C8 generation of the iconic sports car.
Are the 50-year-old rumours of a mid-engine Corvette true?
The auto industry is abuzz with news that summer 2019 will see the most fervently anticipated American sports car in history make its long-awaited debut.
From the reasonably affordable sports car legend of an historic American brand to a celebrated Italian marque, 2019 will see the Lamborghini Urus plying the roads and rugged trails of the planet.
The Urus is the first SUV from the idolized supercar brand which names its vehicles after individual bulls that fought valiantly, often to the death, in bullfights.
The 2019 Lamborghini Urus is named after a recently extinct shaggy, long-haired animal believed to be the ancestor of modern cattle.
Almost more German than Italian, the Urus, powered by a twin-turbo 4.0-litre V-8 that pounds out a massive 641-horsepower, Lambo’s first turbocharged engine, will definitely move faster than cattle and will cover much rougher ground.
With the sedan and family car slowly dying, the rise of electric supercars and the continued climb of the crossover and the utility vehicle (did someone say Tesla pickup truck?), 2019 promises to be an interesting and exciting year, as I’m sure 1919 was, to auto enthusiasts everywhere.
Happy new year and happy motoring.
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