The One Guy Who Defined American Luxury Car Brands

Welcome to Must Read, where we single out the best stories from around the automotive universe and beyond. Today we've got reports from Ate Up With Motor, Hoopty Rides, and early '90s-era Rolling Stone. Actually, all of these are sort of old, but what the hell, right?

The 19th Century Man: The Rise and Fall of Henry Martyn LelandAte Up With Motor

This is a fascinating story about Henry Martyn Leland, not the British motors guy, but the founder of Cadillac — and Lincoln. This particular quote caught my attention in how well it sums up the state of cars at the turn of the 20th century:

The first Cadillac automobile entered pilot production in late October, and debuted at the New York auto show in January 1903. It was an immediate success, selling 12,212 cars between 1903 and 1906 — enough to make Cadillac the best-selling automaker in America. These early Cadillacs were not fast, with a top speed of perhaps 30 mph (50 kph), but they were extremely durable and admirably free of temperament. "When you buy a Cadillac," the company's advertising assured buyers, "you buy a round trip."

Ferrari for the Ambitious, Unemployed and UnemployableHoopty Rides

I really like Mister Jalopy, the guy behind Hoopty Rides, and I especially like his somewhat wistful path of thought as he contemplates what it would take to restore this old Ferrari:

I was thinking at lunch, that I am too old to become a professional athlete. Also, I don't have the natural ability, killer instinct or competitive zeal. But, I thought, perhaps falconry. If I dedicated myself to it every day as if it was my job, perhaps I could compete at an international level. Not sure if falconry even exists anymore.

Revenge of the Doughnut BoysRolling Stone

Here's an interesting look back at the early '90s, and the forgotten sport of car rustling:

IN AMERICA'S THIRD OLDEST MAJOR CITY, a new sport has been born. It's called rustling cars. According to auto‑theft statis­tics, Newark has the highest rate of car theft per capita in the nation, more than forty cars each day. Sixty‑five percent of the thefts are perpetrated by teens and preteens, known hereabouts as the Doughnut Boys.

The Doughnut boys steal Hondas, Acuras, Mustangs, Trans Ams, four‑wheelers and minivans: the same models you might see in a high‑school parking lot in the nearby suburbs. They use screwdrivers to jack the door and punch the steering column. They override kill switches and alarms. Fifteen seconds, tops. High craft, handed down from brother to friend.

And here's a bonus one, mostly visual, about the Mark I Fiesta prototypes.