Mark Maynard on cars

Bentley hews 3D wood for new Flying Spur

Rear-door inserts handcrafted from a single block of American Walnut or American Cherry BY MARK MAYNARD Wood is an organic element that adds natural warmth in an inorganic mode of transportation — but not all wood is equal. The ultraluxury car segment has long been a purveyor of unique wood veneers for vehicle interiors. And the types of woods used by some makers, such as Rolls-Royce, are archived, catalogued and identified by the vehicle, make...

Vin Car Pics: 1949 Mercury Eight convertible

The third-generation 1949 Mercury was the first new design following World War II, according to Wikipedia. Its “ponton” or pontoon styling help differentiate it from its Ford cousin. The ’49 also became the definitive “lead sled” for customizers, including the Barris brothers, Sam and George.

2020 AMG CLA 35 4Matic road test

Strategic precision in a compact four-door “coupe” BY MARK MAYNARD Highland Valley Road is a tangled black shoelace of two-lane country road in northeastern San Diego County. It’s a favorite for car-club runs and leisure drives to get some fresh air. The meandering road leads past acres of growing land for landscape nurseries and pine-tree farms before ascending to an area of vineyards and wineries. Mature scrub oaks form shaded canopies along stretches amid a...

Ford’s first Black designer helped pen the original Bronco

Young designer also contributed to concepts for a cab-forward truck, the Mustang and the legendary GT40 BY MARK MAYNARD The endearing and enduring success of the Ford Bronco has roots in its earliest design by the first African American designer hired at Ford Motor Co. In 1956, McKinley Thompson Jr. had just graduated from ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., with a degree in transportation design. Among Thompson’s more noteworthy projects was the Bronco...

2020 Toyota Land Cruiser Heritage Edition road test

62 and not ready for retirement BY MARK MAYNARD The Toyota Land Cruiser is an institution of overlanding authority. It has been a global expedition vehicle since its launch in Japan in 1951 as the Toyota Jeep BJ, a small 4WD military vehicle. The name was changed by 1954 to Land Cruiser to avoid legal entanglements with the Willys brand and to tread lightly around the Land Rover. The prototype BJ was not chosen for...

Vin Car Pic: 1949 Buick Roadmaster Riviera Convertible

The Buick Roadmaster received its first major postwar restyling in 1949, according to Wikipedia. Its wheelbase and overall length were reduced but its weight was actually marginally increased. The biggest change was a much larger two-piece, curved glass windshield that the sales brochure described as like an “observation car.” It was also in 1949 that Buick introduced “VentiPorts.” Four were displayed on each of the Roadmaster’s front fenders, with three on the fenders of the...

2020 Toyota Avalon Hybrid road test

Looking sharp at 48.2 mpg As gasoline prices roll upward despite the ongoing pandemic, drivers in need of new transportation begin seeing green. First, it’s the green of money flowing into the tank and then it’s wondering if the green of hybrid energy could actually help save the green from exiting the exhaust pipe. It is a complex value equation. It has always been a point of frustration for me when I am not able...

2021 Kia K5: A midsize ringer for Stinger

On sale this summer, the new sedan will replace the Optima Kia Motors America announced June 30 via virtual media reveal that the replacement for its midsize Optima sedan will be the K5, going on sale later this summer. The fastback-styled sedan will be sold with a choice of turbocharged four-cylinder engines, eight-speed automatic transmissions and, for the first time, an option for all-wheel drive. The K5 is such a dramatic departure [from Optima] that...

Vin Car Pic: 1953 Corvette

The first Corvette rolled off the assembly line in Flint, Mich., on June 30, 1953, according to a report in AutomotiveHistory.org. Only 300 Corvettes were made for the 1953 model year — all Polo White with red interiors. The first generation of the Corvette was produced through 1962 and is commonly referred to as the “solid-axle” generation, according to Wikipedia. “The Corvette was rushed into production for its debut model year to capitalize on the...

Vin Car Pic: 1949 Ford

The 1949 Ford was the first all-new automobile design introduced by the Big Three after World War II, according to Wikipedia. Civilian production had been suspended during the war and the 1946 through1948 models from Ford, GM, and Chrysler were updates of their pre-war models. Popularly called the “Shoebox Ford” for its slab-sided “ponton” design, the 1949 Ford is credited with saving Ford and ushering in modern streamlined car design with changes such as integrated...