HomeCar CultureCommentaryAutomotive milestones, ’40 Fords, and roads for Hot Wheels

Automotive milestones, ’40 Fords, and roads for Hot Wheels


Mitsubishi putting 1917 Model A on modern hybrid platform | Mitsubishi MMA photo
Mitsubishi putting 1917 Model A on modern hybrid platform | Mitsubishi MMA photo

You may not recognize the automobile in the photograph, but that’s likely because only about 20 of them were produced, and it happened a century ago, and most likely they all remained in Japan. The 1917 Model A, largely based on the Fiat Tipo 3 though using all Japanese-produced parts, including a four-cylinder engine, was the first motorcar by the Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co.

As the Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile notes, “About 20 of these cars… were built up to 1921, but competition from cheaper cars imported from America made the project uneconomic.”

It wasn’t until that 1930s that Mitsubishi would return to the roads, as a truck producer. After World War II, the company produced Kaiser Henry J’s and Jeeps under license and in 1959 it finally launched its own car-building program, an effort which has given us such future collectibles as the 3000 GT VR4 and the rally-winning Evo series.

To celebrate its entry into the automotive spectrum, Mitsubishi Motors North America is working with West Coast Customs to do an interesting twist on the resto-mod movement. It is re-creating a 1917 Model A but doing so using the company’s PHEV hybrid powertrain, which will underlie the vehicle with a 2.0-liter gasoline engine, two electric motors and Mitsubishi’s S-AWC Super All-Wheel Control system.

The car’s build will be featured on an episode of Velocity network’s Inside West Coast Customs and the car will be official unveiled at the 2017 Los Angeles auto show this fall.

The 1-millionth Porsche 911 | Porsche AG photo
The 1-millionth Porsche 911 | Porsche AG photo

A milestone for the Porsche 911

While you may not have recognized that 1917 Mitsubishi Model A, you most certainly would recognize a Porsche 911.

Just last week, Porsche produced its one-millionth 911, an Irish Green-colored Carrera S.

“Fifty-four years ago, I was able to take my first trips of the Grossglockner High Alpine Road with my father,” Wolfgang Porsche, Porsche AG chairman, said as he drove the milestone machine off the assembly line at Zuffenhausen. “The feeling of being in a 911 is just as enjoyable now as it was then.”

The 100,000th Mitsubishi | Mitsubishi Motors photo
The 100,000th Mitsubishi | Mitsubishi Motors photo

A milestone for Maserati

Although the number is considerably smaller than the 911’s million mark, Maserati also celebrated a milestone recently, producing its 100,000th vehicle, a 2017 Quattroporte GranSport that was showcased at the Shanghai auto show before being presented to its new owner.

“China is Maserati’s largest market for Quattroporte,” Reid Bigland, Maserati’s chief executive, said as the car was unveiled. “Our remarkable performance in China last year was a major contributor to our record-breaking global sales. China’s elites are increasingly enamored by the Italian brand of luxury, exquisite craftsmanship and passion for driving that are poured into every Maserati.”

By the way, of those 100,000 Maseratis produced, nearly half — some 42,100 — were built in 2016 as the company greatly ramped up its output.

Customizing a ’40 Ford?

The shirt | ididit/Classic Instrument photo
The shirt | ididit/Classic Instrument photo

If you’re in the process of customizing a 1940 Ford, two well-known specialist companies have a deal that likely fits you to a T.

A T-shirt, that is.

When Michigan-based companies ididit and Classic Instruments discovered that each had just launched new products for those customizing 1940 Fords, they got together and created a special T-shirt to celebrate such efforts. But one of Classic Instruments’ new 1940 Ford 6-in-1 gauge clusters and one of ididit’s new ’40s Style steering columns and they’ll send you a shirt (a new one, not one off someone’s back).

Fords from the 1937-40 model years are popular with hobbyists. The design, one of the first by Bob Gregorie as head of Ford styling, and Ford’s first with headlights incorporated into the front fenders, was inspired by the Lincoln Zephyr that Gregorie had done for Edsel Ford.

At last! Roads for your Hot Wheels

Christmas is too far in the future to wait. Sure, PlayTape would make a great stocking stuffer, but the roadways for Hot Wheels and similar-sized toy cars are just too much fun to delay your purchase.

Like so many of us, Andy Musliner’s sons enjoyed playing with their die-cast toy cars. Musliner wondered why there were no roads for those cars and, unlike so many of us, he did something about it, creating InRoad Toys and a flexible, tearable and reusable tape that looks like a road, or there’s an off-road trail tape, and even a railroad-looking tape for Thomas and other toy train sets. There are even pre-cut curves to use as you create your own tracks.

PlayTape roads for Hot Wheels | Larry Edsall photo
PlayTape roads for Hot Wheels | Larry Edsall photo

I’ve played with a few samples with my grandchildren and we were having so much fun their parents even got down on the floor and joined in.

Oh, and the tape also can be used to decorate the walls in your man cave, or of a child’s bedroom. PlayTape is available at toy stores and at O’Reilly Auto Parts, though the man working the counter at the O’Reilly’s closest to my house said they have a hard time keeping the tape in stock. So stock up when you can.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.
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