The occasional motoring column, reblogged from citythreepointzero


Santa Monica, a bright Sunday afternoon in May. I’m trying to cross Arizona Avenue amid the hordes of shoppers, and my eye is suddenly caught by a car moving westwards. I’m transfixed – as is the guy on the bike to my right. If you know what we’ve seen, you really know. It’s a Mercedes 300SL Gullwing, one of only 1400 or so made in the 1950s. And neither me nor the guy on the bike can figure out why anyone would be driving it at all – it’s worth (conservatively) $1 million, and if it’s the aluminium-bodied version, of which only 29 were made, well you can multiply that figure by five. I don’t remember ever seeing one. It’s not a pretty car at all: it sits higher on its haunches than I had imagined, and is bulbous rather than sleek, not unlike (I thought) a Volvo PV544. The…

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About Richard J Williams

Professor of contemporary visual cultures and head of history of art at the University of Edinburgh, UK. Books on cities include 'The Anxious City' (Routledge, 2004), 'Brazil' (Reaktion 2009), 'Regenerating Culture and Society' (edited with Jonathan Harris, LUP 2010), and 'Sex and Buildings' (Reaktion, 2013). Writing a new book about Reyner Banham.

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