Thursday, March 2, 2017

Porsche expands the Panamera line with a new station wagon. The Sport Turismo

Porsche is expanding the Panamera family with the addition of an all new body version concept. A station wagon!

The Panamera Sport Turismo is celebrating its world premiere at the Geneva Motor Show, where five different versions of the Panamera will be displayed. The Panamera 4, Panamera 4S, Panamera 4S Diesel, Panamera 4 E-Hybrid and Panamera Turbo. Based on the successful sports saloon, the new version once again makes a profound statement in the luxury segment with its unmistakeable design. At the same time, the Sport Turismo, with up to 550 hp, is more versatile than any other model in its class. With a large tailgate, low loading edge, increased luggage compartment volume and a 4+1 seating concept, the new Panamera model offers the perfect combination of everyday usability and maximum flexibility.


 From a technological and design perspective, the Sport Turismo utilises all the innovations introduced with the brand new Panamera model line launched only last year. These include the digital Porsche Advanced Cockpit, pioneering assistance systems such as Porsche InnoDrive, including adaptive cruise control, chassis systems such as rear axle steering, the Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC Sport) electronic roll stabilisation system and powerful powertrains. In addition, all Panamera Sport Turismo vehicles are equipped with Porsche Traction Management (PTM) – an active all-wheel drive system with electronically controlled multi-plate clutch – as standard. As of the S models, adaptive air suspension with three-chamber technology is also supplied as standard.

 Beginning from the B-pillars, that is, from the start of the rear doors, the Sport Turismo features a completely unique rear design. Above the pronounced shoulder, an elongated window line and equally long roof contour lend the vehicle its striking appearance. At the rear, the roof drops away much less dramatically than the window line, resulting in a prominent and distinctive D pillar which transitions into the shoulder section in a coupe like fashion.

The raised roof line of the Sport Turismo allows for easier entry and exit at the rear of the vehicle and ensures greater head clearance. The usability of the luggage compartment benefits from the wide opening tailgate, which is electrically operated as standard, and a loading edge height of just 628 millimetres. Measured to the upper edge of the rear seats, the up to 520 litre storage capacity of the Sport Turismo betters that of the sports sedan by 20 litres. When loaded up to roof level and with the rear seats folded down, the gains amount to around 50 litres. The backrests of the three rear seats can be folded down together or individually and are unlocked electrically from the luggage compartment. When all of the backrests are folded down, the loading floor is virtually level. In this case, the storage volume is expanded to up to 1,390 litres

The Panamera Sport Turismo is available to order now in Europe. The European market launch is scheduled for October 7, 2017, with the other markets following in early November. The new Porsche will be available with five engines that are already used in the sports sedan. U.S. Pricing is not available at this time.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Jeep Wagoneer pulled from Cape Cod garage after 40 years

There's barn finds and then there are barn finds. John Moore loved his Jeep Wagoneer. He would drive it up and down the beaches of Cape Cod where he lived. For John Musnuff, he grew up hearing of the Jeep parked in the beach garage for years. When his mother inherited the Moore home, the Jeep remained entombed in the small wooden garage near the beach where it had been parked in the 1970s with a fuel issue. There it remained until a few days ago.

The garage had literally collapsed around the Jeep. Sand had blown in and the salt air and moisture had taken it's toll. A front loader was utilized to pull the Jeep from the shed and after a few tugs it literally fell apart with the force before seeing daylight for the first time in about 40 years. Musnuff used a crow bar to remove the hub caps and a couple of emblems but nothing else was salvageable. Piece by piece was loaded in to a waiting dump truck and hauled off to a nearby scrapyard.

Source and photos: Cape Cod Times



King Edward VIII's royal Cadillac to attend Amelia Island

There is somewhat of a mystique around Royal automobiles. I guess it is because of America's lack of a Royal family, unless you look at the Kennedy's. King Edward VIII took the throne shortly before the start of World War II. He would eventually abdicate the throne for his love of an American woman, Wallis Simpson.

The pair would marry and become the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and eventually called the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City their home.

During their time in New York they had a car that was quite literally made for a king. General Motors under the direction of Alfred P. Sloan and Harley Earl designed this very unique 1941 Cadillac limousine which the Royal couple affectionately referred to as the Duchess.

Duchess was outfitted with a cigar humidor, four yes 4 jewelry cases, a special broadcloth interior, many gold plated appointments and even hydraulic powered windows. The car was literally a one off creation as it shared no 1941 production Cadillac body panels. The flowing lines of the front fenders through both doors and a lower roofline. Many of the styling cues eventually found their way to GM's Buick division and were also borrowed by coach builder Hooper for use on Rolls Royce cars.

The car will be displayed at the 22nd annual Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance on March 12th.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The 2017 Motor Trend Awards

Each year for me in the new car world there are two very exciting events. First is the North American International Auto Show and a very close second is the announcement of Motor Trend Magazine's annual Car of the Year award. Last night in Los Angeles, Motor Trend pulled out all the stops by hosting a full awards show complete with Derek Bell as MC.

Rather than bore you with a lot of technical jargon. We'll just jump right in to the meat of the event with the winners of SUV, Truck, Car and Person of the year.

In the SUV category the main contenders were the broad in spectrum of what makes an SUV. The podium finishers shared one thing in common; they were all from Europe. They were, the Audi Q7, the Jaguar F-pace and lastly and also the winner the Mercedes Benz GLC.

For the Truck category, it was again a very broad spectrum of vehicles. The nominees consisted of the all new Honda Ridgeline, while Ford rounded out the category with both the F-150 and the Super Duty line of trucks. MT's Johnny Lieberman said that "This is the truckiest truck that ever trucked" and we have to agree with him on their decision of the Ford Super Duty as 2017 Truck of the Year.

Obviously the largest category was for the Car of the Year. The three finalists were three entirely new and all very exciting cars. The Chrysler Pacifica, the stunningly beautiful Volvo S90 and the as MT's Edward Loh put it "Unconventionally good look and intelligently designed" Chevrolet Bolt EV. 


 And lastly, how can we leave out Person of the Year. MT selected Tesla's Elon Musk. Musk is certainly the most talked about person in both the auto industry and business in general with his wide spectrum of business ventures that are literally changing the way we live our lives.

Congrats to all the winners!

#MTAWARDS17 #Chevrolet #Ford #MercedesBenz #ElonMusk #Tesla






Driven: 2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line. The big VW drivers car?

A car that has recently captivated me in my quest for a replacement of my 2011 Saab 9-3 Turbo4 X led me to the Volkswagen Passat. In particular the R-Line trim level. Looking at the Passat model line as a whole, I was amazed at their value for the buck factor. German engineering built right here in the good ol' USA. I took the opportunity recently to drive an R-Line passat as part of the Dare to Compare campaign at Day Apollo Volkswagen in nearby Moon Township, Pennsylvania. Having spent the majority of my d
riving life behind the wheel of Volkswagen products, I had some expectations in mind. I expected the car to be good looking, which the R-Line checks off. I also expected it to be a good value for my money. Again the Passat checks that box. And lastly I expected it to be fun to drive. Which again, I was pleasantly surprised with.

The example I drove at Day-Apollo Volkswagen was Reef Blue Metallic which suited the muscular lines of the Passat well. The R-Line package is exactly that, a trim package. The front and rear bumpers are given a flared treatment with lots of gloss black accents along with flared rocker trim. This is paired with light gunmetal 19 inch aluminum wheels with performance all season Continental Conti Pro Contact tires. Standard on the R-Line is a media touch screen radio, heated seats, leatherette upholstery and dual zone climate control. A big feature addition is finally the addition of a USB interface which allows for use of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This is a welcome addition that many in the VW/Audi camp have been begging the company for rather than their use of expensive proprietary adaptors. New standard features for 2017 come in the form of Front Assist, Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Back Up camera and sensors.

The R-Line trim package was a new addition the Passat line up starting with the 2016 model year. Like other R-Line offerings in the VW line up, its all about the performance looks but does not pack the performance punch to back it up, which in a way is disappointing. I found the same thing with the Beetle R-Line and GSR offerings in 2014. However with the standard features and the larger wheels with better tires, it does make for an enjoyable driving experience.

I found the steering to be light and responsive with an excellent ride quality thanks to the longer wheelbase of the Passat vs. the comparable Jetta. Handling does make the car feel smaller than it is despite the cars large size. Brake feel was solid for a car of its size. I found the seats comfortable with plenty of support. The R-Line comes standard with a 6 way power drivers seat with power lumbar support. Driving position and visibility are excellent and all driver controls are easily within reach. While no different than the base steering wheel. The leather wrapped square bottom sport wheel feels more at home in the R-Line and is huge fun with the standard paddle shifter.

The Passat R-Line comes only with the 1.8 liter 4 cylinder turbo engine which produces 170hp with 184 lb ft of torque and comes mated to a 6 speed automatic transmission. Again there is the option of the both the kick over on the gear selector or the paddle shifters on the steering wheel if you want the sporty fun of a GTI or GLI. Sadly, VW does not offer the Passat R-line with an optional manual transmission like in the 2014-15 Passat Sport.  Despite the 170 hp and 3263 curb weight. The Passat R-Line still manages a 7.7 second 0-60 time and will run the quarter mile in 15.8 seconds. That being said, the car is actually fun to drive. For me it's a GTI that is a lot more comfortable for long trips and everyday driving, but you don't want to look like you're 18 with your first car when you pull in to the parking lot at work. Being a 4 door with more than enough space to seat 5 comfortably is also a big plus. Another big plus is the cavernous trunk. You just about lay flat in the trunk without having to fold either side of the split rear seat back down.

Overall, I am very pleased with the Passat. The R-Line gives the car the sporty look and feel of the GTI and GLI models, though it lacks any actual performance boosts. Though APR can take care of that for a couple hundred bucks. I have three complaints about the car that could be rectified and realistically should be by VW. First is the ride height. With the addition of the 19 inch wheels on the R-Line, gives the car a giant wheel gap and an almost off road appearance. It's not excessively bad, but the regular Passat seems to have this filled in better with the standard 16 inch wheels. The seconds would be given the R-Line treatment, a push button starter would have been more appropriate on this trim level than the traditional switchblade key that VW has been using since 1998. The SE trim level Passat has this feature and it really flows so well with the overall feel of the car and is a feature you see on many base level cars and many premium sedans in the category. And lastly, and this is my biggest gripe is the lack of availability of a sunroof. Why again this is not part of the R-Line package is beyond me. It's not even optional. It's just flat out not available. The same goes for a full leather interior.

I get that VW is trying to meet a price point with the car, but with the R-Line I see it as a premium trim that fits somewhere in between the Passat SE and SE V6. But please VW, If you're going to badge it an R-Line, at least back it up with some better features.

Despite the few gripes I have about option availability, after 1,200 miles of driving I am very pleased with the 2017 Passat R-line and highly recommend it.

#VWlove #VW #Volkswagen

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Carburetors and Chocolate: The RM Sotheby's Hershey Auction.

For over 50 years, the Antique Automobile Club of America has taken over the parking lot and surrounding area of Hershey Park in Hershey Pennsylvania. For the last almost 10 years RM Sotheby's Auction House has been supplying buyers hungry for classic cars some of the best offerings through their annual auction. 2016 marked my first attendance of the RM Sotheby's sale in my 10+ years attending the fall Hershey meet. Of particular interest to me was seeing the barn find 1957 Porsche 356 Speedster being sold this year. Speedsters have always been a hot Porsche but they have picked up really strong in the last few years, especially for un-restored examples. Jerry Seinfeld proved this in 2015 with his astound purchase of an un-restored 1958 speedster for $605,000.

The Hershey speedster was an incredible find. Having come from dry garage storage in Texas. It had last been registered in 1981and showed a repaint to red from its original white. Also of interest was the fiberglass hardtop. While I have seen pictures of speedsters with them, I personally had never seen one in the flesh. While the paint was not original and certainly not without its flaws. The car showed that it was used for what it was meant for, driving. It had been loved by the couple that owned it and used as much as it could be and cared for as needed. The leather seats while worn, looked as comfortable as your favorite leather chair in a library. This particular speedster was recently uncovered by noted "barn find" hunter Tom Cotter. What he found was a speedster that is like many, but also like no other. Having been parked and covered in a garage for nearly 40 years by the wife of the second owner, the car was not without needs. The interior was heavily worn and the car as certainly due for a much needed mechanical overhaul. The car had been subject to home restoration decades ago and it showed. It had a color change from its original white to red. Though it showed many years of neglect, underneath it all was a solid starting point for a restoration with a lot of upside.  Bidding was lively before the hammer fell at $341,000. In the grand scheme of where unrestored speedsters have fallen in recent years, this car was on the lower end, and well bought in my opinion.

Another car that caught my eye was the 1963 Sunbeam Rapier Series IIIA convertible. I was drawn to it as I had never seen one before and for a small car i thought it was quite good looking in medium blue. It also caught my attention as there was not much prep for the sale done to the car. Someone had definitely loved the car at one time and certainly enjoyed driving it as evidenced by the aftermarket shifter and Formuling steering wheel. A sore point was the portawall white walls which clearly did not fit the car as evidenced by their wrinkled appearance. The car did sell for a bargain though. Hammering for a mere $8,250. the buyer evidently felt the cars till had more value in it as it was parked in the car corral at Hershey Park the following morning.

If you were in the market for a budget family cruiser. Look no further than this 1969 Mercedes Benz 280SE. One of my personal favorites at the sale, this was the one I would have most liked to bring home with me. The car presented well in gold on tan and despite a few minor bits missing was a buy at only $9,900. This one even had been retrofitted from fuel injection to dual carbs.

What may very well have been the star of the auction in my eyes was lot #150. A 1931 Ford Model A coupe and trailer. This combo was just oozing with cool factor and nostalgia. The combo was built when new for owner J.M. Keely's marine and fishing business. The Model A was largely stock with the exception of the necessary addition of Model AA truck axles, hubs, brakes and wheels. Inside, the trailer was literally a step back in time. It had everything you would expect from sleeping quarters to kitchen facilities. However it also came packed with much of the same period gear you would have found in the 1930s. From outboards to fishing reels, it was all here. Bidding was light on this one. However at $82,500 this combo failed to sell. Check out the photos below!


One of most beautiful vehicles up for sale was lot #144. The 1932 Lincoln Model KB boattail speedster. This was actually the first car that caught my eyes as I was approaching the auction tent. Speaking briefly with the owner revealed the nature of this machine. While not built in period as a coachbuilt; it was built with that era in mind as a "What if" Edsel Ford had commissioned this. It was designed by retired GM designer David Holls in the 1990s. That name should strike cord with any auto design enthusiast as Mr. Holls penned cars like the 1966 Buick Riviera and the legendary 1959 Cadillac. 

The car was constructed using an original 1932 Lincoln as its base. And was built in the same traditional ways that coachbuilt cars were built in period by hand. The design incorporates many design cues from both sides of the Atlantic ocean including much inspiration from Paris' Hibbard & Darrin. The car had been shown at numerous concours events including Pebble Beach, and also has been driven on several tours. When the hammer fell, for an astounding $605,000. Looking at the workmanship put in to this Lincoln it was certainly worth every penny for a literal 1 of none car.

Lot #118, a 1928 Ford Model A tow truck had a lot going for it. I don't know if it was a real tow truck built in period or if it was built as a fantasy piece. Either way it had a fantastic restoration with all the proper period equipment, including hand painted Sunoco lettering. Hopefully the buyers name was Mike as you might have some additional costs to have the name changed on the side. Model As are a good bargain antique car right now as you can get a really nice one for under $30k. This 28 pick up was no exception and you certainly won't see another like it at the next cruise in. It sold for only a little over $25,000. You certainly couldn't restore this one for that much. Very well bought.


Another car I would have loved to bring home with me was the 1911 Marmon Wasp recreation. Built in the 1980s, this car is an exact replica of the winner of the first Indianapolis 500. With a 1917 Nash frame as the base. The owner spent over 19,000 man hours recreating this historical race car. A huge plus is that it is also street legal. So it can serve a dual purpose for both vintage racing and street touring.  Sold for $71,500.




























Lot #146. 1946 Delahaye 135 M Coach by Guillore. $77,000.







Lot #237. 1935 Auburn Eight Super Charged Speedster. $880,000.













Lot #225. 1934 Packard Super Eight Hunting Car. $55,000














Lot #220. 1925 White Model 15-14 Yellowstone Tourbus $88,000

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

It's a freelance life for me. Or how to get burned in the car business without really trying.

I don't generally post too much about myself. I try to keep it car related, and this falls in to that category. But this has been simmering in my conscious for the last six months and I have to get it out.  I have worked in the car business for about 20 years now for a variety of dealers representing all of the big three and many import and exotic brands like Porsche, Volkswagen, BMW, Mazda and Audi. Yet following my heart to work for dealers representing brands I am passionate about wasn't always the best choice for me in the long run. The first one was a Ford dealer that closed in 2006 when Ford was starting to tighten their belts prior to the industry collapse. That then led to me working at a dealership only to be downsized out of the store when everything went to hell. That then led to a stint in selling life insurance followed by some time at a dealer group that was sold and brought in their own staff, essentially kicking me back out.

I've had interviews with other dealers in the past. And a lot of them I find don't really know what to do with someone who has a long term work history in the business who has held every job there is that also has an MBA. That is unless maybe to get some free consultation of their business while dangling the prospect of full time employment carrot at the end of a line. What am I on about? Here's the story.

In November of 2015 I approached one of the largest dealer groups in Pittsburgh with my resume. I got an email the following day from this dealer's Vice President of Operations wanting to meet with me as soon as possible. My initial phone call and reply email were not responded to as quickly, but was responded to. In that time he managed to forget who I was or that he had seen my resume and we had to start all over from scratch (strike 1). After sending my resume back I got a call that he wanted to meet but was short on a scheduled time as his wife was having a baby and was due to go in to labor at any time. So we played it by ear on getting together and when we finally did it was a few days in to December. Well, more like 11 days in we were set up to meet. Finally December 14th his wife is in pre labor but he will be at one of the dealerships near me so we set aside some time.

I showed up early as I always do. No one in the dealership knows if he is there. So I end up waiting for about 40-45 minutes while they track him down. After meeting him, I knew he had walked past me at least 4 times. We talked about my back ground and where I was looking to be in my career and what the dealership was looking to do. The job we ended up falling on as a good fit was to take over the Internet departments for two Lexus dealerships they own. We had talked for two hours and really hit it off. He and I both had a similar background and weren't far off in age. He asked me to put together a plan of what I would do essentially starting these departments from scratch and we would get together again and discuss. No problem, I have already had success and lots of manufacturer training on Internet departments as that is where I have specialized the last few years of my career. We agreed that I would put together a plan over the next week and we would meet after that.

With no info from him on what either of their stores did in terms of handling their online sales and marketing efforts, I took it upon myself to mystery shop them and about 8 other Lexus dealers in the neighboring cities and states so that I could get a base line of who does what well. This was paired with my proven success track of how I have run similar departments and what I would have each one doing on a day to day basis as well as my findings from mystery shopping and where these dealerships fell. It was an extensive report that involved hours of my time to compile. I sent my report and asked when we could meet again. Radio silence. I knew that we were now approaching the holidays and that it wouldn't likely happen until after Christmas that we would meet again. So I kept on top of it as this was the best prospect that I had going for me at the time. At this point now, my emails and phone calls which in the past had been responded to if not immediately would be returned quickly. New Years comes and goes, so January 1st I decide to try texting him. I get a response finally that he received my report and needed til the end of the week. As he put it, his wife should have delivered the baby by then (? strike 2). Two more weeks go by, emails and phone calls still go unanswered. Finally a response comes talking about being a salesman came on January 15th, which wasn't what we discussed at all. I laid it on the line at this point about what we had discussed and what the position was supposed to be for. Again, no response. Texts and emails and phone calls January 22, 23, 25th all again go with no response.

Finally I get a reply email on the 26th.

" Albert,

My apologies for not getting back to you sooner. The snow storm along with other pressing duties that come with the territory had me behind last week into yesterday. 
That said, I appreciate your feedback and tenacity. However, I'm choosing to go in a different direction. 
Best of luck to you. "
 
Really? That's the best that I can get? A snow storm can actually stop someone from just giving a short reply to an email? 
 
In my initial homework of this dealergroup, I had asked some colleagues in the business and several said to me that if I want to get somewhere with this dealership, I need to talk to John Doe (I'm purposely leaving his name out). So in doing that, and the fact that HE was the person who initially responded to me, I knew that it was fate that brought the two of us to meet. And being the trusting person that I am, believing that people will do the right thing. I got burned big time. One of my contacts that I had asked about this dealergroup was the one that ended up getting the job that I was after. I don't hold any grudges against him, he didn't know I was getting sand bagged by the other guy. 

So what did I learn from this? I learned that while there are still some good people that work in car dealerships, there are still lots of scumbags looking to take advantage of people. Be it customers, employees or prospects. I wasted close to 40 hours of my time analyzing an operation and did essentially what would have cost the dealer to do for $3,000 to $5,000 for free. Live and learn.


Friday, June 10, 2016

Tesla gets greenlight for showroom in Pittsburgh's North Hills

There's no denying that Tesla is one of; if not the hottest car brands in the United States. They have built a unique model of direct to customer sales cutting out traditional car dealerships and car dealers from the equation. In several markets Tesla has skirted by this by having pop up stores. These are typically located in shopping malls with one car on display and a handful outside for demonstrations.

In the Pittsburgh market, Tesla was represented with a pop up store in Ross Park Mall in Ross Township. While the nearest brick and mortar store was in Cleveland Ohio. Tesla is now on its way to opening its first brick and mortar dealership in the Pittsburgh area. Marshall Township Planning Commission approved a plan Tuesday by Tesla to renovate the former Ethan Allen furniture showroom along Route 19 in Wexford / Warrendale. The building which has been vacant for about a year now since Ethan Allen relocated to the new McCandless Crossing a few miles south.

Tesla's plan is to renovate the existing 18,400 square foot building and to double the parking area. No mention if the plans include a service area or if that will continue through Cleveland.

The Wexford area has been a very fertile location for luxury brand dealerships. Baierl Automotive recently completed a new state of the art stand along Cadillac show room, along with Shults Lincoln's new facility representing the American luxury brands while Bobby Rahal representing Mercedes Benz, Jaguar, Volvo and Land Rover/Ranger Rover brands. And bringing up the rear of the list is Rohrich Automotive with their Lexus showroom. The latter is also planning to open a Bentley/Maserati showroom in the next two years across the street from Tesla.

There is no immediate time frame for Tesla showroom opening.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

VW to drop Das Auto slogan in image rebuild.

Just like Fahrvergnugen and Drivers Wanted, the days of Volkswagen's "Das Auto" campaign slogan has reached its end. It is one of the first casualties of the Dieselgate scandal that rocked Volkswagen in the last half of 2015.

A VW spokesperson from Germany has said that "Das Auto" will no longer accompany the brand's logo and will be phased out across the world.

Simply meaning The Car, Das Auto showed up in 2007 under then VW boss Martin Winterkorn's plan to make Volkswagen Group the number one auto manufacturer in the world. It summed up the company at that time. Ambitious, focused on alternative powertrain development like diesel and hybrid-electric vehicles. Das Auto now seems "pretentious" in the shadow of an uncertain future for one of the worlds best know auto makers.

So what does the future hold?  A surge of management changes and PR hires have been on going at VW and it is said that at a recent group management meeting that the group's core focus is to now shift to all efforts of fixing Volkswagen.

Is Buick bringing a Regal wagon to the U.S.?

Rumors have been flying for a while now that Buick might be bringing wagon variant to the market. According to AutoGuide magazine, a trademark filing on December 16th by General Motors the names "Regal Tourx" and "Tourx" were secured. Now what does this mean? Perhaps nothing, but perhaps it could mean that GM is looking at the prospect of bringing the Opel Insignia Sports Tourer to the U.S. market from Europe.

The Insignia is the European vehicle which the Buick Regal is based off of. And naturally a wagon version is sold across the pond. The Regal is also one of Buick's top nameplates in the U.S. so this would be a natural progression to expand the lineup.

Now if we could have one in GS trim...