RIP, Yutaka Katayama, Mr. K

4 years ago, on February 19, 2015, Yutaka Katayama passed away. This post was published in his honor on March 13, 2015 on Dead links have been removed, with only minor editing done.

Mr. K and the 1958 Australian Mobilgas Trial-winning, 10,000+ mile-surviving Datsun 210, part of two-car team he managed. Both finished.

As car-people, we delve into this topic a little more often than most folk. This is how I came to learn not only of the Datsun/Nissan Z-car, but the people behind it. Amongst them a name stood out: Yutaka Katayama. 

Yutaka Katayama was not a racecar driver like James Garner. He did not own a shop like Carroll Shelby that churned out neither hot-rods or limited-edition sportscars. Neither was he a pop-culture icon like Leonard Nimoy that had a taste for cars. He was, to put it bluntly, a salesman (he specialized in advertisement early in his career at Nissan). But not just any salesman, he was a salesman who was also a car guy.

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1984-86 Ford Mustang SVO

I usually go on and on about cars with big honkin’ V-8s in big American iron and leave the sporty little 1980s turbo coupes to my fellow bloggers. That’s probably the result of the era that I grew up in, where displacement was king and handling an afterthought, if that. Long hood, short deck, and no fewer than 8 cylinders of raw muscle, that’s for me, thankyouverymuch.

In a departure from my usual schtick, I shall now sing the praises of another of the forgotten Mustangs  and a true It Rolls special: a 4-cylinder turbocharged Mustang, the SVO (Special Vehicle Operations) made from 1984-1986. It was probably the closest the Mustang ever came to a European-style coupe in terms of execution and all-around performance. And, of course, in true It Rolls fashion, it pretty much went nowhere, too.


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The SuBAru Bi-drive Recreational All-terrain Transporter and the Chicken Tax

Which may quite possibly be the single longest post title in the history of It Rolls (I have personally directed several of our crack team of automotive researchers to drop everything they’re doing to check this out). In the meantime, we have here a little vehicle that has amused me greatly over the years, not only with its diminutive size compared to other big bad-ass pickups but by its being named after a sausage.

I saw most of these in the wild back in the late ’70s in Wisconsin which had, for some unfathomable reason (which the crack team of researchers will surely get to investigating next) a rather high concentration of Subarus. And BRATs. Well, and brats, too. Frankly, at the time I never gave them a whole lot of thought, except maybe to snigger at the name and wonder how cool it would be to ride in the jump seats in the back. Otherwise, they mostly slipped under my radar until fairly recently; I used to occasionally see them bouncing around the Seattle area (another hotbed of Subaru-dom) although not a single one in my short time in the Phoenix area.

I suppose if the El Camino is the Steve McQueen of cars, the BRAT would be the. . . .Ronald Reagan? Yes, there is a connection there which we shall see shortly. While this may not be the longest post in the history of It Rolls, it certainly is the. . . .wurst.

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The General Lee

Dukes of Hazzard celebrates its 40th Anniversary this year, so we’re kicking off the celebrations early by re-uploading this post originally published in on June 8, 2016. Minor editing, removal of excess pics and fresh links where needed aside, it’s all the same. tumblr_mz3kaeLqQ31qje3ujo1_r1_1280The General Lee in his natural habitat.

Picture this: a young kid is at home watching day-time TV during summer break. Then a commercial appears: an orange racecar without headlights and a pushbar flies across the air in various scenes. The kid is GLUED to the TV, trying to ID the car to no avail. Then it’s all over. Unlike other commercials, it never reappears. But the imagery is etched in the back of the kid’s subconscious, hoping that one day he’ll find more about it. Continue reading

Bumblebee, a review:

Bumblebee is a new and well-critiqued movie, but given that it’s part of a commercially successful but critically panned string of movies, it’s best that I convince you that there’s more than meets the eye with this one. If I like it (and I did), I’m sure you all will love it!

Warning: spoilers ahead!

Bumblebee-poster-35462-600x873Not my favorite poster, but it’ll do.

After retreating from a losing battle in home planet Cybertron, Autobot B-127 (briefly voiced by Dylan O’Brien) is tasked by leader Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) with secretly escaping to planet Earth and set up a base so that the Autobot minority can regroup. Crash-landing in a military exercise led by Jack Burns (John Cena), B-127 is immediately treated as hostile. Things get worse when Decepticon Blitzwing appears bombs ablazin’, heavily injuring B-127 and ripping out his voice box. B-127 uses Blitzwing’s own firepower against him, but the damage is such that he suffers memory loss and emergency shutdown, but not before scanning a vehicle to transform into… Continue reading