Paul Ingrassia Tells a History of the American Dream in Fifteen Cars

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Paul Ingrassia tells the story America’s vehicular history—from the assembly lines of Henry Ford to the open roads of Route 66, from the lore of Jack Kerouac to the sex appeal of the Hot Rod. In Engines of Change: A History of the American Dream in Fifteen Cars, Ingrassia explores how cars have both propelled and reflected the American experience.


Paul Ingrassia

Comments [12]

Chris from Fiero from Fiero

craig from brooklyn asked: "is it true that the movie "bullet" is what really made the gto and the mustang's sales take off?"
In 1966 Pontiac sold 96,946 GTOs.
I don't recall seeing any GTO in Bullet (1968).
72,287 GTOs were sold during the 1969 model year.
The Bullet chase used:
1968 390 V8 Ford Mustang fastbacks (325 hp) with four-speed manual transmission;
1968 375 hp 440 Magnum V8-powered Dodge Charger.
After the chase, McQueen drove a Bathtub Porsche.

Jun. 13 2012 10:00 AM
clive betters


talk about ignorance: not that i admire yuppies,but how in the hell do ascribe that term to the 1 percenters. that seems quite socio-economically ignorant, simplistic, and downright primitive,to me.

Jun. 12 2012 06:11 PM

How can Ingrassia be so culturally illiterate? The GTO is a high-performance muscle car. The point in owning one is to have fun, not to be a rebel.
Regarding the reasons why yuppies flocked to buy BMW's; Why do elitist, insecure tools buy anything? Let's not get distracted by The 1%.

Jun. 12 2012 01:15 PM
Gary from Queens

Some of Paul Ingrassia's (PI) statements on the show were misinterpretations.
PI: The GTO: People bought it as a statement of rebellion.
- Not true. People bought it out of a desire to have fun. The Beach Boys analysis got that one right
PI: The early 60's and late 60's were different times, signified by the music: The Early 60s were the Beatles, the late 60's, the Rolling Stones a the bad boy band.
- Not accurate. While the times changed due to war, and assassinations, the Beatles and Rolling Stones were on the scene and popular at the same times.
PI: People purchased Volkswagens to make a statement opposite to the ostentatious statement of the cadillac.
- Not true. While such people might possibly be found, the appeal of the volkswagen was: it was cheap; it used less gas; it was easy to maintain (many repairs could be done by the owner); it could be kept running through relatively inexpensive parts replacements for a very long time.

Jun. 12 2012 12:49 PM
craig from brooklyn

is it true that the cars bootleggers used during prohibition was the inspiration for the gto? and also is it true that the movie "bullet" is what really made the gto and the mustang's sales take off?

Jun. 12 2012 12:39 PM
tony from bayside

The Subaru outback is the yuppie car of the early 21st century...
Can't count how many vermonters and park slopers who have one....
The green one is my favorite!

Jun. 12 2012 12:38 PM
tommy from brooklyn

what about daimler... and mercedes role in early autos...
such a leader in early cars...

share your thoughts on that company... it didnt make the top 15?

Jun. 12 2012 12:38 PM
Michael from Manhattan

Or, as Mr. Ingrassia would say, blaming Ralph Nader for Al Gore's 2000 election loss is like putting falsies on Grandma.

Jun. 12 2012 12:37 PM
Rachel from Sunset Park

Love the conversation. As an fyi to your listeners, a great car museum is located in Sylmar, CA, called the Nethercutt collection.

Jun. 12 2012 12:28 PM
tom from astoria

How about the Pierce Arrow company? The sprawling plant still stands in Buffalo, NY -- and it was the same sight at the 1902 Pan Am exposition whwer electricity was first used to light up a world's fair. I have a studio there. Amazing place.

Jun. 12 2012 12:19 PM
Chris from Fiero

The Corvair was the best handling American car of its time.
It was seconds faster on a gymkhana course than any other.
Nader based his allegations on a film which Ford made to show how you could flip a Corvair by violently turning it, comparing it to a Falcon who's driver did not suddenly turn the wheel.
Rather than be laughed at for the fraud, somebody at Ford leaked the film to Nader.

Jun. 12 2012 12:16 PM
Michael from Manhattan

Mr. Lopate, why do you perpetuate the inane canard that Ralph Nader cost Al Gore the 200 election? Even the votes cast for the Socialist Workers Party candidate would have cost Mr. Gore the election. And Mr. Gore didn't even win his home state. It was Al Gore, not Ralph Nader, who lost the election for Al Gore. And we won't even get into Mr. Gore's anemic recount fight or his legal team's weak performance in the Supreme Court.
Honestly, Mr. Lopate, that was appalling.

Jun. 12 2012 12:14 PM

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