Set of 12 automotive illustrations by the artist William J. Sims
Special folio issue of the 12 prints that were also pictured in the Thompson Ramo Wooldridge, Inc. calendar for 1981. This year's calendar is the second Milestone Cars edition, the first being issued by TRW in 1978
. The calendar pictures 12 cars that were selected by the Milestone Car Society (MCS). Post WWII cars to qualify had to excel in two of these five categories: Styling, Engineering, Performance, Innovation and Craftsmanship.
1. 1957 Maserati GT 3500
With the aid of a carefully plotted and executed strategy, Maserati's world famous line of racing cars evolved into a series of superb street machines, which were introduced in 1957 to compete with the Ferrari 250 GT. Initially, the handling left a bit to be desired, but the car's overall quality was rated outstanding. The 3500 GT was a sophisticated car which borrowed the best from the other makes to produce a fine automobile. The six cylinder 3500 GT boasted a ZF five speed gearbox, four wheel Girling disck brakes, 16 inch Boranni wire wheels, Pirelli tires, Borg and Beck clutch, Alford & Adler independent front suspension, and Salisbury rigid rear axle. The Maserati 3500 GT was no slouch as a performer. It accelerated from 0 mph to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds, reached a quarter mile in 16 seconds and was clocked at 140 mph.
2. 1958 Alfa Romeo
Many auto enthusiasts insist that A.L.F.A. (the Lombardy Motor Manufacturing Company), which first put a machine on the road in 1909, never built a bad car. But, as with US cars, the exigencies of World War II pushed the Alfa Romeo into dormancy. Immediately after the war, Alfa resumed production with a rebodied version of its old bread and butter 2500 six. Beginning in 1958, a much more distinctive Alfa, which resembled no other car, not even its Alfa predecessors, appeared on the scene. It combined a host of enviable attributes, the car was quiet, comfortable, smooth, delicate and fleet. Its famous five speed gearbox made it light and easy to handle. With its curving aluminum body, some car buffs consider it a work of art.
3. 1957 Thunderbird
After World War II, American soldiers returning from Europe brought back a zest for small European sports cars, a yearning which went unfulfilled by American manufacturers until 1953, when Chevrolet introduced the Corvette. Ford Motor Company assessed the public's enthusiastic response to the Corvette and developed the Thunderbird. The combination of a high-compression, high-performance, standard Ford engine with the look of a sports car and the comfort of a luxury car made for a highly attractive package. The characteristic rear porthole windows and continental kit featuring the spare tire outside the trunk gave the two-seater Thunderbird the _distinctive, innovative style that earned it a place among the other Milestone Cars.
4. 1959 Austin-Healey
This car succeeded on two counts. Introduced in the summer of 1959 with an engine enlarged from 2.6 to 2.9 litres, this Austin Healey neatly filled a niche between moderately priced sports cars like the MG and Triumph and expensive makes like the Jaguar. The Austin Healey also did well in sports car races in its class. Small wonder. Mechanically, they were indestructible. That strength stood them well in their real forte - international road rallies, where they were virtually unbeatable. One source called them 'one of the most beloved old brutes ever built.' Many enthusiasts also call the Austin Healey, with its smooth classic lines, the best looking of small British Sports cars - an attribute which led to its selection as a Milestone Car.
5. 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air Nomad
Today the van competes strongly with the station wagon as suburbia's favorite family all purpose vehicle. But in the 1950s, the station wagon thrived as suburbs spread. Outside the city, pubic transportation was nil. Suburbia's growing families, with increased leisure time and diverse interests, need a roomy, practical vehicle. The wagon, generally of uninspired design, was the answer. the Nomad was an attempt to capitalize on the station wagon's surging popularity, but in a unique way. The Nomad combined utility with beauty. It boasted a relatively sleek line, large wraparound rear windows, and abundant chrome. Chevrolet promotional literature immodestly describe the Nomad as 'a wagon with sports car flair.' General Motors produced the high priced wagon for only 3 years, turning out just 23,000 Nomads during its 1955-57 run.
6. 1954 Aston Martin DB-3/S
The name Aston Martin dates back to 1914 and from the start this marque represented expensive automobiles. The DB-3/S, an open-seater which debuted in 1953, was stark but clean, sturdy and, for its size, a solid performer. The six cylinder, three litre engine boasted 140 hp. Its 5 speed gearbox and rack and pinion steering helped make this a smooth handling machine. In evolving the DB-3/S from the DB3, the maker's aim was to produce a more efficient machine for racing purposes. As a result,the DB-3/S benefited from attempts to improve engine performance, wind resistance, road holding ability, braking and weight reduction, factors which contributed to its inclusion in the ranks of the Milestone Cars.
7. 1953 Cunningham
When Yale educated dashing Briggs Cunningham got the racing itch, he formed his own company to produce a series of powerful, successful racers. Products of the B.S. Cunningham Company were intended to surpass European machines of the same class. Cunningham's vehicles ran well and logged some successes in American events, but he never was able to achieve his ultimate goal of victory at LeMans. His firm produced six different models. The first was dubbed the C-1 and contained stock Cadillac and Chrysler engines in a tubular chassis. C-5s boasting a monster 310 hp engine, managed third, fifth and tenth place finishes at the 1954 LeMans. They were costly to manufacture and few were sold, but they represented a valiant and memorable effort in the field of sophisticated racing car design.
8. 1953 Buick Skylark
Introduced in 1953, the Buick Skylark, with its wire wheels, abundance of chrome and rakish lines, embodied the opulence of the '50s. Typical of the 'big is best' bread of autos, the Skylark was advertised as 'the only car of its kind,' a superb customized vehicle in an era of customized vehicles. Skylark owners enjoyed the latest in luxury - hydraulic window lifts, 'Easy Eye Glass,' and 'Selectronic' radio - and each had his name engraved in silver on the horn button medallion. Buick didn't necessarily intend to sell many Skylarks; rather, the car was a showpiece, a way to lure buyers into the showrooms. Its stylishness and craftsmanship earned the Skylark its place on the roster of Milestone Cars.
9. 1948 Tucker
As Preston Tucker saw it, the post World War II years were an opportune time to enter the automobile market with an all new model. In 1946, Tucker introduced 'The First Completely New Car in Fifty Years,' and in many ways it was. Among the 166 hp Tucker's futuristic features were its third cyclops headlight which swung with the front wheels; the storm cellar compartment into which front seat passengers could drop in the event of a collision; and a pop out windshield for crashes. Unfortunately for Tucker, a rash of bold claims and questionable practices led to a government investigation of Tucker's company, which managed to produce only 48 of the revolutionary autos before folding. Nonetheless, among the early postwar cars, the Tucker was one of the most innovative, both in engineering and styling.
10. 1966 AC Cobra Shelby 427
In 1962, AC needed an engine maker to complement its coachwork, while Ford Motor Company wanted a sporty European body to combine with its newly developed, high performance V-8 engine. It took American race car driver Carroll Shelby to coordinate the coachwork and engineering, resulting in a car built with everything 'in the interest of speed and style,' the Cobra 289. Later in 1966, the 289 was converted to this street vehicle, the 427, and its twin racing version, the 428. Cobras have been called the most powerful high performance cars in an era of high performance cars, competing successfully against many fine European race cars. This performance, along with the AC's distinctive body style, was the basis for making the Cobra a milestone car. Only 510 of the 427/428 models had been completed when production ceased in 1967 because more stringent safety standards were enacted and the car became impractical to manufacture..." Someone has emailed me this info regarding the car in the print: "The car pictured is not a 427 Cobra. The rear flares, roll bar, front intake, and cut back doors identify it as a 289 FIA racing cobra of which there were only 5 official factory cars manufactured in 1965.
11. 1963 Studebaker Avanti
In the early 60s, Studebaker Packard Company president Sherwood Egbert knew his company was in serious trouble. The Avanti, a dramatic departure from the Studebaker's family sedans, was his attempt to avert the company's imminent demise. Limited production of the Avanti, along with its coke bottle profile, facilitated the use of fiberglass for the car's body. The interior, an innovative design, resembling aircraft flight decks, featured an array of instruments, control levers and overhead switches. The Avanti was chosen a Milestone Car for its innovation, engineering and performance, which was admirable: At Bonneville Salt Flats races, Avantis set 72 speed records. Although Studebaker Packard's financial problems caused production to cease in December 1963, the Avanti was so popular that a group bought that division of Studebaker and moved it to Canada.
12. 1947 Ford Sportsman
The 1947 Ford Sportsman served its maker more as a promotional tool than it did as an income earner. Ford sold only about 200 of these expensive, rustic cars, which combined standard convertible bodies with tasteful wood trim. The car was intended to appeal to sporty types with a love for the outdoors, especially affluent hunters and fishermen who were looking for a suitable vehicle to transport them to their lodges. The Sportsman also served to lure visitors to Ford's exhibit at automobile shows. A chief drawback was its exquisitely carved trim, which was extremely difficult to protect and maintain. So few Sportsmen were manufactured that many dealers never had one on their showroom floors.