Q. Will the day arrive when
you can buy a car that will drive itself? – F.K., Harrisburg, Pa.
A. In fact, Cadillac has developed a “driverless” system for a car during highway driving. It’s called “Super Cruise.” And it may be offered on production models within the next decade—perhaps sooner rather than later. About a decade ago, I visited Honda’s proving grounds in Japan and was behind the wheel of a car with an experimental system that let the auto drive itself during simulated highway motoring.
Q. If a car is garaged and not dirty, can you get rid of an average amount of dust on it without washing it. I know that, as with dirt, dust traps moisture that can lead to rust. I’m a car buff and don’t want to wash the car and get it wet any more than I have to. What about car covers? – E.A., Dallas
A. Car dusters do the job. The original such item was, as I recall, the California Duster, which is still sold. Check the Internet for such dusters, which are advertised in specialty car magazines that cater to auto enthusiasts. As for car covers, they offer good protection from dust and dirt, especially if a car is parked outside. Custom-fit car covers are the best. But make sue they are soft so they won’t damage expensive paint and “breathe” so they don’t trap rust-causing moisture.
Q. I read that legendary black dancer and movie actor Bill Robinson, known widely as “Bojangles,” owned a fantastic Duesenberg, which he bought when he was almost 60, in 1935. A hit song, “Mr. Bojangles” was written about a poor guy, who the song’s author said he met in a New Orleans jail cell. How could a poor person afford a rich man’s car such as the Duesenberg? — H.N., Nashville
A. The song was written in the late 1960s by country music artist Jerry Jeff Walker and is not about Robinson, who died in 1949 at age 71. The song has been widely recorded, most famously by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in 1970. Walker said he wrote the song after meeting a poor old street performer he met in a New Orleans jail cell. The man used the name “Bojangles” to protect his true identity from the police and talked about his life with Walker. The man tap danced and said he had a beloved dog that had died years earlier—a fact used in Walker’s song. Robinson earned more than $2 million during his career, which included appearing in major Hollywood movies. There is an excellent article about Robinson and his Duesenberg, written by Dennis Adler with Bill Deibel, in the April, 2007, Car Collector magazine.
Q. I hear that the 1960-69
rear-engine, air-cooled Chevrolet Corvair is gaining in popularity in
collector car circles after being ignored by most for decades. I know
where one is offered for sale and wonder if it’s worth fixing up
to drive this summer? It doesn’t cost a lot, and I know there is
a very active national Corvair club that could give me support. —
G.S., Los Angeles
A. The cleanly styled Corvair was innovative (for Detroit) and came in various models, including turbocharged ones. (See the Corvair profile in this website under Classic Cars.) Unlike most widely recognized classics, it doesn’t cost very much. The beautifully styled 1965-69 models are especially desirable, but so are some built earlier, such as the 1962-64 Monza Spyder. Nationally known Corvair expert Larry Claypool, of the ‘Vair Shop in Frankfort, Ill., near Chicago says he sees an increasing number of Corvairs brought to his facility to fix and bring up to driving condition.
Q. I see that the new, redone Porsche Boxster has gotten pretty close to the Porsche 911, but is considerably less expensive. Actually, I could afford both. Which one do you recommend? — E.B., Seattle
A. Porsche has been careful not to make the Boxster too much like its iconic 911. I’d opt for the 911, but you could have as much fun in the new Boxster.
Q. I hear that the upcoming new-generation Chevy Corvette will be a radical change from the current model. — D.W., Chicago
A. Not true. Although much improved, it still will be very recognizable as a Corvette.