These Amazing Classic Cars Actually Changed History

Everybody has a favorite, whether it’s one the earliest horseless carriages, a muscle car of the 70s or anything in between.

“What’s not to love? Novelty, nostalgia and history combine for a fascinating look into the story of the past and a glimpse toward the future.” — Alex Perdikis

In no particular order, here’s a look at some of the classic cars that changed history.

Preston Tucker’s 1948 Dream

The story of Preston Tucker and his 1948 Tucker Torpedo is as American as it gets. The Tucker was a true marvel at a time when most 1940s models were slightly updated versions of pre-war vehicles. The Tucker ’48 was built with safety features no one offered before, such as padded dash, reinforced passer cell and a third headlight that turned with the wheels.

The car went into production after a successful fundraising and public relations tour but the company only produced 51 cars before running out of money. Production was shut down when Tucker and other company execs were accused of fraud in what became a national scandal.

With only 51 Tucker ’48 models ever produced, the rare history-making Tucker ’48s left are now worth millions.

To the Future and Back with the Delorean

The “Back to the Future” films made the Delorean seem cool. A product from the mind of John Delorean, a former Pontiac exec, who wanted to make a futuristic sports car consumers could use for many years without trading it in on a new year’s model. Delorean opened a manufacturing plant in Dunmurry, Ireland and set to work.

Trouble soon began. Designers found the prototype’s stainless steel panels and gull wing doors were costly to manufacture. In addition, the DMC-12 became a nightmare to produce and suspension and electrical problems became common occurrences. Production of the Delorean stopped when a series of scandals rocked the company and Delorean himself.

The Cadillac for Presidents and Music Legends

What do President Eisenhower and Elvis Presley have in common? They both owned a Cadillac Eldorado. The first Eldorado made its appearance in 1953. By decade’s end, the updated design cost more than a Rolls-Royce and was thought of as one of the most elegant cars to grace the earth.

In the mid-1960s when luxury and economy swept the world, the two-door coupe became all the rage. The car was also innovative. It was only the second General Motors produced car with front-wheel drive.

Henry Ford’s Model T

Why is the Model T such an endearing piece of Americana? It wasn’t the first horseless carriage, after all. But it was the catalyst for the way cars are produced around the world today.

Before the Model T, cars were expensive and difficult to produce. The average working family in America couldn’t afford to buy one. Henry Ford had a long history of innovative ideas before the Model T came into production. But he realized that something had to change or cars would never become more than a novelty for the rich.

Ford came up with the factory production line where a car was built by passing through a linear set of manual operations. At the end of the line was a finished product. The production line meant cars were produced at a much faster rate and with far less expense. Mass production and sales of the Model T is where America’s love affair with the road began.

Alex Perdikis, Koons of Silver Spring general manager and owner, lives in Chevy Chase with his wife and daughters.

How to Buy a Used Car Without the Worries

If you’re one of the millions looking to purchase a used car this year, you probably have lots of questions about the process. How can I buy a used car without getting ripped off? What should I look for? Do I need to make preparations before I start looking? Follow these tips to get ready to buy a used car and avoid getting ripped off in the process.

Money, Money, Money

Before you even look for a used car, determine how much money you have to work with.

“If you expect to take out a loan, your car payment shouldn’t exceed 20 percent of your take-home pay. If you’re already on a tight budget, shoot for a smaller payment.” — Alex Perdikis

And, don’t forget to work in insurance and maintenance costs in as well.

If you plan to purchase a used car from a private party or an out of warranty vehicle, have some funds set aside for unexpected repairs and to pay a mechanic to check the car before you purchase it.

Target Your Brands

Build a list of acceptable car models in your price range. Some brands, such as Toyota and Honda have a resale value higher than some Ford and Kia models. Use online tools to research, read reviews and compare prices.

Choose your required amenities ahead of time as well. Do you need a 4-door vehicle? Can you get by in a smaller car or do you need something to haul the kids’ soccer team?  Figuring out what to look for ahead of time keeps you from getting swept away in the “I love the way it looks” emotional buy.

Where to Buy?

You can find used cars all over —next door, your cousin Vinnie, used car lots, new car lots, print and online ads. You can even purchase cars through eBay. Where should you go?

Buying from a private party is the least expensive option. It’s also the riskiest. Used cars are sold “as is” unless the seller provides some type of promise to fix specific items after the purchase. Most private parties don’t do that.

Buying from a relative is sometimes an option. Think twice about doing it, though. There’s always the possibility that a used car could come between you and the family member. Before moving ahead, consider whether it’s worth the risk.

Car dealers usually have a variety of used cars with a couple of different options for you to choose from. If the car you’re looking at is less than 5 years old, consider a certified preowned (CPO) vehicle. Will a CPO cost more? Yes. But, a CPO is certified and warranted by the manufacturer, not just the dealership. You’ll have stronger protections with a CPO.

Many dealers offer their own or a third party warranty for purchase with a used car. Read any such warranties carefully before signing. Make sure you understand everything in the warranty and read the fine print about what’s covered, what’s not and the length of coverage.

Before you purchase from a private party or a vehicle that has no warranty, pay to have a trusted mechanic check the car out. In addition, get a vehicle history report before buying to make there are no unpleasant surprises in the vehicle’s past.

Stay within your budget, do your research and check the car thoroughly before you buy. That’s the best way to buy a used car and not live to regret it.

Alex Perdikis, Koons of Silver Spring general manager and owner, lives in Chevy Chase with his wife and daughters.

Focus on Older Drivers: Staying Safe on the Road

By Alex Perdikis

It happens to everyone: you walk into a room to get something and once you’re there you suddenly wonder, “Why did I come in here in the first place?” Admit it, you’ve done it. Busy lives and multitasking are sometimes the cause of this amusingly common experience. Getting older is another cause. As people age, they lose a little of the mental acuity they once had. They also may have less than perfect vision as well as hearing loss. All of which impact their driving.


“Driving can be particularly problematic for an older driver. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), older drivers have a higher fatality rate in crashes, based on miles driven, than any group except very young drivers.” —Alex Perdikis


Many of the fatalities occur because older people are frailer than younger drivers and succumb to their injuries. Clearly there’s a need for older drivers to adapt their driving practices and sharpen their skills as they age.

If you are an older driver, take steps now to hone your driving skills and adapt your driving practices to ensure your safety as well as the safety of others.

Problem – What Problem?

Layne Hall was born in Mississippi in either 1880 or 1884. Records weren’t always accurate back then. Either way, when he died in 1990, he was the oldest licensed driver in the U.S. He drove nearly 75 years and never received a ticket or citation of any kind. In fact, in January 1990, the same year he died, he received a commendation letter for a lifetime of safe driving from the New York State Commissioner of Motor Vehicles.

Not many older drivers are as fortunate as Hall, however. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists a range of difficulties aged drivers experience, including loss of cognitive functions and physical impairment.

After driving so many years, it isn’t always obvious to the senior driver that skills once easily used are now lacking. Sometimes, however, the loss of driving  abilities is painfully obvious. A senior may have narrowly avoided an accident at some point or been involved in an accident that was their fault.

If you’re over 60, it’s time to evaluate yourself. Answer the following questions:

  1. How is your eyesight? Can you read street signs, traffic lights, recognize someone you know and handle glare from headlights at night? When was the last time you had your eyes checked? Do you require new prescription glasses? Have a yearly comprehensive eye exam if you’re 60 or older.
  2. How’s your hearing? Hearing loss is common as people age. You may not be able to hear horns or emergency vehicle sirens, which could have tragic results. Have you had a hearing test lately?
  3. Are you able to move adequately in the driver’s seat? Can you look over your shoulder, move your foot easily from pedal to pedal and steer properly?
  4. Is driving more stressful for you now? Perhaps a medication you take makes you feel less aware, dizzy or sleepy is having an effect on your driving. Have you noticed a slower reaction time in normal driving situations?
  5. Has anyone expressed concern about the way you drive? It’s a red flag: if someone’s mentioned your driving, take note. Ask what did that concerned them. Don’t be offended. Take action.

What Can You Do?

Once you’ve identified problems, you can take positive steps to improve. If you haven’t had an eye and hearing exam recently, make an appointment. See your physician and ask about the medications you take, what their side effects are and seek advice about your ability to drive safely.

If your car is difficult to handle, consider trading it in for a car that better suits your current abilities. Newer cars often have safety features that let you know if you’re too close to another car and brake automatically in emergency situations. There are also aftermarket products you can add to your current vehicle to make it safer.

After making sure you’re physically able to drive, think about enrolling in a mature driver course. A senior driving class helps you brush up on skills, learn new techniques, discover the latest technologies and informs you about state-specific laws for senior drivers.

Most classes cover the following subjects related to senior driving:

  • Ways to minimize blind spots
  • Changing lanes safely
  • Right of way rules
  • Turns at intersections and U-turns
  • Laws for construction zones, school buses, cell phone use, child safety seats and other laws specific to your state as well as penalties assessed when laws are broken  

Additional Risks and Tips

Senior drivers are more at risk during specific less-than-optimal driving conditions. Avoid driving in rush hour traffic. Heavy traffic increases stress levels and requires faster reaction times. Night driving is often more difficult for seniors, so avoid it if you have trouble seeing when headlights approach. Stay home if you can during inclement weather. Your visibility may be further limited and your vehicle harder to control.

Getting older doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give up driving. It does mean you have to evaluate your current abilities and focus on making positive changes.


Alex Perdikis, Koons of Silver Spring general manager and owner, lives in Chevy Chase with his wife and daughters.