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Silvaire wrote:

Re front wheel drive, it was introduced as a way to cut production cost by unitizing the entire driveline into one assembly.

As well as that it allowed much more flexible use of cabin space (and a flat floor) with the gearbox, prop-shaft, differential and driveshafts no longer needing to be accommodated aft of the firewall. I guess this mattered more in Europe where the cabins were smaller.


True enough. Issigonis was a smart cookie.

Here’s a couple of early US built front wheel drive cars, in chronological order. I’d love to have a Cord, met Gordon Buerig the stylist once, but even in supercharged form they don’t drive as good as they look. The Toronado had a chain driven transmission, unusual but actually worked pretty well.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 28 Jan 15:31

That first one is wonderful. What is it?


Guess which European country had the most American cars in say the 1960s? Switzerland, where I suppose their interest in independence from other European counties may have been a factor. There was a time that Swiss fuel taxes didn’t penalize large cars as much as in other European countries and I guess that also may have been a motivation.

American cars in Switzerland had nothing to do with an interest for independence and a lot more to do with the fact that unlike local cars, US cars were subject to import tax in Europe, and with the presence of a large expat community (the Swiss 4th of July being for years the largest 4th celebration outside of the US).

In Switzerland the import tax arbitrage did not exist (but having said that American car numbers were anecdotal at best).

Swiss fuel taxes do not penalise large cars.


Graham wrote:

That first one is wonderful. What is it?

It’s a Cord 812, the slightly less expensive car of the Auburn Cord Duesenberg range. The same company owned Lycoming engines. After Cord went broke, the design was sold, redesigned with more conventional mechanicals and sold as the Graham Hollywood. You should have one

The first front wheel drive car made by Cord was the earlier L29, which looks cool (very low, no driveshaft etc) but had its problems.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 28 Jan 16:18

T28 wrote:

Swiss fuel taxes do not penalise large cars.

How can any fuel tax penalise large cars? All cars get their petrol from the same pump, don’t they?

ESKC (Uppsala/Sundbro), Sweden

Ummm… Fuel tax penalizes large cars because they use more fuel, and therefore the owner who chooses a large car pays more tax. The higher the fuel tax, the more penalty applied to those who buy more of the product.

At one time it seems to me CH had relatively low fuel taxes, which would therefore have imposed less penalty for driving a large car. I can remember filling up the tank before leaving Switzerland, later Slovenia (which was really cheap for a while), now the best choice seems to be Austria… but I may have lost touch!

Last Edited by Silvaire at 28 Jan 16:15

As of 1965 which would have been the heyday for US cars in Switzerland, one in two new cars was German, one in five was French, one in seven was Italian, one in ten British. The US clocked in at a respectable one in seventeen.

Not only that but the growth rate of US car registrations was half of the German or French growth rate (4% vs 8%).

Fuel tax back then was much smaller than it is now – not that now it would have an impact on car choice either considering Switzerland has the highest percentage of high-powered engines in the european private car fleet.


One in seventeen Swiss market share is more than I would have expected – European manufacturers in the US have only about half that market share today and you still see a fair number of European cars on the the road.

Anyway, it’s fun to see that some of those US built cars are still around in Switzerland – you do see them on the passes. Sweden (which was another neutral country, perhaps a coincidence) has a fair number of older US built cars too, but those seem to be mostly recent hobby imports. Meanwhile with new cars GM etc is selling about a million Buicks per year in China.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 28 Jan 17:57
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