Friday, June 12, 2015

For 50 years Ford has been watching and waiting. Now it's on. Ford GT. LeMans. 2016

It has been 49 years since Ford Motor Company shocked the world by going toe to toe with Ferrari at their own game at the 24 Hours of LeMans. It was an astounding 1-2-3 finish Bruce McLaren/Chris Amon, Ken Miles/Denis Hulme and Ronnie Bucknum/Dick Hutcherson all involved in what has been the closest LeMans victory to date, even shrouded in some mystery as the 2nd place car driven by Ken Miles was actually in 1st place. But that's a different story.

Today though. Ford made a very special announcement. Next year for the 2016 running of the 24 Hours of LeMans. They will be back with the all new 2016 Ford GT. Naturally with the 2015 24 Hours taking place this weekend, Ford made the announcement in LeMans France. The world was exposed to the street version of the 2016 Ford GT at the North American International Auto Show in January, and since then rumors have been swirling that Ford would make another run at LeMans for 2016 and they did not disappoint.

“When the GT40 competed at Le Mans in the 1960s, Henry Ford II sought to prove Ford could beat  endurance racing’s most legendary manufacturers,” said Bill Ford, executive chairman, Ford Motor Company. “We are still extremely proud of having won this iconic race four times in a row, and that same spirit that drove the innovation behind the first Ford GT still drives us today.”

Ford announced that it will compete in the full 2016 schedule for FIA World Endurance Championship and TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, and making its competition debut in January 2016 at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Florida. The two Ford factory teams will be operated by  Chip  Ganassi  Racing  with  Felix  Sabates  (CGRFS).  Both  series teams intend to compete with a four car effort at Le Mans in 2016.

The Ford GT race car will feature a number of innovations which Ford believes will not only make it competitive in LM GTE Pro, but ultimately positioned to provide benefits to every Ford vehicle in the Ford lineup moving forward. This includes state of the art aerodynamics to deliver outstanding levels of downforce for improved stability with minimal drag, advanced lightweight composites featuring carbon fiber for an exceptionally rigid but light chassis, and the power and efficiency of Ford EcoBoost technology.

Like the street version of the Ford GT,  the racecar will also be powered by the 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6 engine which hat it's debut in the TUDOR Championship in 2014. The engine was developed by Ford with input and development from CGRFS and Roush Yates Since then, Ford, along with  CGRFS, has captured significant overall wins at the 12 Hours of Sebring and Rolex 24 At Daytona. Besides great success in sports cars, Ganassi race teams achieved major victories in the Brickyard 400, Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500.

As an added bonus. Watch Ford's unveiling video below. 


Source and Photos: Ford Motor Comapny

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Cars that made us tick. Early car memories with the 1980 MGB Limited Edition

Trying something new since I don't spend much time on the site anymore. All my posts seem to be on the Facebook page. Recently, two close friends of mine both purchased some classic British sports cars. Dan in the form of two Austin Healey "Bugeye" Sprites and Tory with a vintage race themed early MG Midget. Essentially, they're all the same cars underneath. And of course they're giving me the peer pressure that it's time to add a British roadster to my fleet of mostly German cars. But it got me thinking. I've had a Jaguar XK8 in the last few years, and there's been a few Jags in my family. But one car that came to mind that I grew up around was the MG-B roadster. Some of my earliest car memories are with the "B". My dad had a couple of them when I was a small child, and there are two that stick out. A brown on tan 1976-77 and a black 1980 Limited Edition which is the one that sticks out the most in my memory.

I can remember as a child riding in the passenger seat with my dad and also sitting on my mom's lap when we would go out in the MG for weekend drives with the convertible top down. Yes, we did have 3 people in it with me not in a car seat. It was the 1980s after all. But here we are in 2015 with the images of the black roadster with silver stripes seared into my memory. I remember playing in the car while it sat in our garage. Helping dad wash it in the driveway and watching him wax it to get ready for a show.
I even still have the dash plaques from some Hartwood Acres British Car Day events we attended, and the showroom brochure for the car. But what is the back ground on the car itself?

The MG-B Limited Edition was offered in North America in 1979 and 1980. It was a marketing endeavor between British-Leyland and the U.S. MG  distributorship in Leonia, NJ to boost slipping sales in the North American Market. The production period of the North American version “LE” was 1979-1980. But why black cars?  Apaprently there was an agreement between “Leonia” and all North American dealers that the “LE kit” would be only installed on black cars and to buy a black car of that time period, it had to be a Limited Edition only. In total there were 6,668 produced in the two years of production. And while not officially stated, the Limited Edition became sort of a Final Edition car as MG-Bs went out of production in the 1980 model year.

The B LE came equipped with the following features as standard equipment.
  • Front air dam
  • L.E. Five spoke alloy wheels, manufactured by GKN, with MG hub center appliqu├ęs
  • Silver lower body stripes
  • Luggage rack
  • Leather covered, padded, three spoke steering wheel with a special center hub. This uses the same MG applique as the wheels
  • A Limited Edition dash plaque installed on the glove box
I guess it's the emotional part of me that loves this particular MG. The rubber safety bumper MGs are not particularly popular today versus their steel bumper counterparts. But on the LE with the all black paint, it seemed to work.

There are still many 1979-1980 Limited Editions floating around and I'd be willing to bet that my dad's is out there somewhere. MG-B's are still affordable and fun classics today. Nice driver cars be found for under $10,000 and a pristine examples are around $12,000. In recent years, I have seen a handful of LE's at car shows and it seems they were available with both brown/tan and black interiors. I seem to remember my dad's having black.

Maybe I'll have to start looking for one for myself to create some new memories

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Honda to recall 5 million cars over airbag concerns

Breaking News! Honda is recalling an additional 4.89 million cars equipped with airbags made by Japan based Takata over possibly faulty airbags.

The recall covers 14 different models produced between 2002 to 2008. Some models include the popular Civic and CR-V. Since 2008, Honda has recalled mover than 11.4 million vehicles due to airbag problems from Takata.

The recall comes one day after Toyota USA and Nissan announced that they were also recalling 6.56 million of their cars for airbag problems.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Watch one of our readers take to the Nurburgring

We all have our close group of friends. I consider Shaun Day from Stinger Motorsport to be one of them. He and his wife Lia recently traveled to Italy and Germany for a vacation. During said vacation, as any red blooded car guy would do, you make a visit to the legendary Nurburgring. Shaun who is a competitive racer in his own right had to take some laps of the Ring naturally. Here's some of his video. His lap time? A respectable 8:39.10.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

This Ferrari 365 GTB Daytona is a family heirloom.

Is the Cadillac ELR headed for the ax?

Is the Cadillac​ ELR about to be axed? According to AutoGuide. According to Cadillac boss Johan de Nysschen, there are no future plans for the ELR beyond it's current life cycle. Since launched in 2014, Cadillac ELR has sold less than 2000 units. To be more precise, 1,310 in 2014 and only 311 so far in 2015. “I don’t’ think we will create a next-generation, compact, two-door, gorgeously styled alternative powertrain successor to ELR.” says Nysschen.

With the ELR sharing many components with the outgoing, 1st generation Chevrolet​ Volt. One would have to assume that the ELR will end production soon. With the end of the ELR, this does not mean the end of alternative powertrains for Cadillac. Nysschen also said that  “will continue to offer alternative powertrain technologies in our cars.” One already in the works is a plug in hybid version of the the all new Cadillac CT6.

Source: AutoGuide, Photo: Cadillac

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Legendary racer Warren Agor passes away at 72.

We were saddened to learn of the passing of driver Warren Agor. Warren Agor was one of a kind. He was one of the few very successful privateer drivers in the glory days of TransAm, Can-Am and IMSA racing. So if you have followed any of those series, you know his name. Born in 1942 in Rochester, New York. Agor earned a degree from Cornell University before joining the U.S. Army, ultimately reaching the rank of Captain.

Racing came naturally to Agor, growing up in Rochester placed him not far from Watkins Glen, NY. Watching races there led him towards road racing rather than circle track. Agor eventually became a mechanic for Penske Racing and was a crew member for Mark Donahue.

When Agor branched out on his own as a driver, he gravitated towards Chevrolet powered machines. Driving a series of 1st and 2nd generation Camaros in the TransAm series. Agor was the subject of the book Sunday Driver by Brock Yates documenting their exploits in the early Trans Am days. Agor then moved to the Can-Am series driving an ex Bruce McLaren  1969 M8B, and later a Dekon Monza in the IMSA series.

Agor was also successful off the track. In 1971 he founded Agor Enterprises, which to this day specialized in the conversion of vans for the disabled. Warren Agor remained active in vintage racing, even after his retirement, racing recently at Watkins Glen in September. The Agor family has asked that donations in Warren Agor's honor be made to the International Motor Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen, NY.

Rest in Peace and God Speed Warren W. Agor.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Cadillac making it on Broadway. Iconic brand breaking off from GM and moving headquarters moving from Detroit to NYC!

In a major upturn in the revitalization of Cadillac. Today General Motors announced that the iconic Cadillac brand which has stood for luxury for the better part of 112 years will be spun off from parent GM to be a stand alone business unit. With this new re-alignment will also come a move of Cadillac world headquarters from Detroit to New York City.

Johan de Nysschen, who became the new President of Cadillac in August, will be responsible for the brand’s overall operational performance. He is certainly up to the job. He was formerly North American CEO for Audi and CEO of Infiniti.

While Cadillac's current line up has a few flat spots in terms of sales, the all new Escalade, and a new flagship sedan that was teased to the world as the El Miraj concept give a clear view of where Cadillac plans to go to differentiate itself. The move to become a separate entity from parent GM rather than remaining a division as it has for the majority of its life at GM, will allow Cadillac more freedom to pursue growing areas of the luxury car market with more clarity and focus moving forward.

A move like this can only make one wonder what Ford's direction with Lincoln will be moving forward.

Source: General Motors

Press Release:

NEW YORK – As part of the continued expansion of Cadillac, General Motors today announced a strategic realignment that will establish the flagship brand as a separate business unit. In addition, the new Cadillac organization will expand to New York with a new global headquarters opening in 2015.
The realignment affirms Cadillac’s importance to GM’s strategy. Creating a new Cadillac business unit enables it to pursue growing opportunities in the luxury automotive market with more focus and clarity.

“With the relentless upward repositioning of successive new-generation Cadillac products, the next logical step is to provide Cadillac more freedom to cultivate the brand in pursuit of further global growth,” said GM President Dan Ammann.

“Cadillac’s mission is to reinstate the brand to a pre-eminent position among global luxury brands, a bold challenge requiring a distinct and focused new organization,” Ammann said. “More than a division or brand, Cadillac is becoming a center of excellence for our company.”
Johan de Nysschen, who joined Cadillac as its new president in August, will be responsible for the brand’s overall operational performance.

Cadillac’s leadership council is headed by de Nysschen, and consists of Jim Bunnell, vice president of sales and service; Uwe Ellinghaus, chief marketing officer; David Colasinski, chief financial officer; David Leone, executive chief engineer, and Andrew Smith, executive director of design. Further expansion of the Cadillac leadership team will be announced later.

Expansion Includes New York Headquarters
The plan includes expansion to New York City in the form of a multipurpose brand and event space in conjunction with modern loft offices located in the heart of a city renowned for establishing trends and setting standards for the global luxury market.

While the majority of functions with oversight and responsibility for both global and U.S. operations will be located at the new global headquarters, there will be no change to technical product development teams located in Michigan, nor does the plan impact manufacturing or assembly operations. Cadillac management is reviewing options for which specific staffs will be based in New York and which will remain in current locations in the Detroit-area or elsewhere.

Cadillac has operations in more than 40 countries. The brand’s ongoing growth has been driven by an expanded product portfolio, leading to 28 percent global growth in 2013 and an increase of about 10 percent so far this year. Cadillac sales in China have grown 75 percent year to date.

“We are very proud of our Detroit roots and heritage, and the majority of the Cadillac workforce will remain in Michigan," de Nysschen said. "But there is no city in the world where the inhabitants are more immersed in a premium lifestyle than in New York. Establishing our new global headquarters in Soho places Cadillac at the epicenter of sophisticated living. It allows our team to share experiences with premium-brand consumers and develop attitudes in common with our audience."
Company officials thanked New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his active support of and involvement in establishing the creation of Cadillac NYC.

"As the media and advertising capital of the world, New York is the ideal location for Cadillac to move its marketing operations to enhance their brand and spur future growth," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said.

"From Day One, our administration has been creating a more business-friendly environment that encourages new investments and job creation, and today is another example of how that approach is delivering results for New Yorkers. I welcome Cadillac's marketing team to New York and commend them on their decision to invest personnel and resources alongside our world-class workforce."
Said U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer:  “To have an iconic American brand like Cadillac choose Manhattan for its global headquarters is another example that this city is a growing hub of innovation. New York continues to be a magnet for the best and the brightest companies and workers alike, and as Cadillac continues on its impressive growth trajectory as a global brand, I’m thrilled it will do so based in New York City."

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Breaking News! Sinkhole opens inside of the National Corvette Museum

Some very sad breaking news out of Bowling Green, Kentucky. A sinkhole has opened up underneath the Skydome of the National Corvette Museum. Currently, 8 cars in the museum have been affected. And it's heart breaking because it affects several of the most significant Corvettes built. It sounds like a very bad April Fools joke started by some Corvette haters, but it's very real and very scary. We have even included a picture broadcasted out to Twitter. This is a very sad day for the automotive world. Below is the media release from the museum.

We received a call at 5:44am from our security company alerting us of our motion detectors going off in our Skydome area of the Museum.  Upon arrival it was discovered that a sinkhole had collapsed within the Museum.  No one was in or around the Museum at the time.  The Bowling Green Fire Department arrived on the scene and secured the area.  The Fire Department has estimated the size of the hole is 40 feet across and 25-30 feet deep.

It is with heavy hearts that we report that eight Corvettes were affected by this incident.  Those cars include:

    1993 ZR-1 Spyder on loan from General Motors
    2009 ZR1 “Blue Devil” on loan from General Motors

The other six vehicles were owned by the National Corvette Museum including:

    1962 Black Corvette
    1984 PPG Pace Car
    1992 White 1 Millionth Corvette
    1993 Ruby Red 40th Anniversary Corvette
    2001 Mallett Hammer Z06 Corvette
    2009 White 1.5 Millionth Corvette

None of the cars affected were on loan from individuals.  The Skydome exhibit area of the Museum is a separate structure connected to the main Museum.  A structural engineer is now on-site to assess the existing damage and stability of the surrounding areas.  The Museum is closed to the public for the day to allow us to carefully assess the situation.  We will keep everyone informed as we know more.

Source: National Corvette Museum.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

VW's Jonathan Browning out, Michael Horn named President & CEO

Lots of top job shake ups this week. In a surprising turn over at Volkswagen of America, President and CEO Jonathan Browning has announced that he is leaving the company and will be replaced by Michael Horn. Horn will assume the President and CEO position effective January 1st.

Browning came to Volkswagen in 2010 after a distinguished career at both Ford and General Motors. During his time at VW, he oversaw 23 percent gain in 2011 and an additional 30 percent rise for 2012. This year,  sales of Volkswagen, Porsche, Audi and Bentley models are up 1 percent in a market that’s risen 8 percent. Sales at VW  have been falling for the last 8 months.

Michael Horn who will replace Browning, has been with Volkswagen since 1990. And is currently head of Volkswagen Global After Sales. A position he has been in since 2009.

Browning says that he is leaving the company for personal reasons and is planning to return to England.

Source: Automotive News.