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 brining 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...

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Cars that made us tick: 1993 Chevrolet Corvette 40th Anniversary Edition.

A while back I started what I knew would be the first of my articles on the cars that have shaped me as an automobile enthusiast over the years. For part two, we are taking a look at a car that still to this day resides in my memory as one of the most pivotal unicorns in my life. The year was 1993. I was eleven years old at the time and just going in to middle school. The car that many like myself were lusting after was the Chevrolet Corvette. My dad had recently had and sold his 1987 Corvette coupe when we first heard about the 40th Anniversary Edition Corvette for the 1993 model year on our recent trip to the Corvette assembly plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky. This set my dad off on a search to find one for himself. I still remember the day. It was a Saturday not too far from Christmas when he found a 40th AE coupe at a dealer about an hour away from Pittsburgh.

There sitting on the showroom floor of Kenny Ross Chevrolet in Irwin, PA sat what would become his ruby red 40th AE coupe with a red bow on the hood. It was your pretty standard Corvette coupe. Equipped with preferred equipment group #1, the 40th AE appearance package, a bronze roof panel, Delco/Bose stereo and low tire pressure warning system. For a grand total of $39,304. My how times have changed in Corvette pricing. I do remember us driving the car home that following Monday and it spending much of the winter in the garage. When spring came the car saw lots of use for tours and just general fun drives and to go to a few car events. Being the 40th anniversary of the Corvette we collected as much memorabilia as we could find showcasing the the anniversary edition cars.

I don't remember why, but one day the paint on the corner of the rear bumper failed and started to flake off. Leading to the bumper being repaired by GM. This was the only fault with the car we ever had. My dad's best friend Lou even went and purchased a black Corvette coupe to go on drives with us. Even his car still sticks in my memory as it was the first Corvette I had ever seen with a cloth interior. Then tragedy hit the family. In the early spring of 1994 my father was diagnosed with a brain tumor. It was a whirlwind time that I don't remember a whole lot of. As the time for his operation came closer and he was getting everything in order for a worst case scenario. My father sold his Mercedes 300E sedan and the Corvette. Keeping just my mom's Mercedes and the 1972 Volkswagen that he shared with me. Wanting me to have "My" Beetle as a lasting memory (I will write of this car soon).

Again on a Saturday I remember riding in the Corvette one last time as we drove to Leopardi Auto Sales in Pittsburgh, a specialty used car dealer who agreed to purchase the Corvette. That was the last time I saw the car. I think maybe once we drove by and saw the car sitting on their showroom floor, but outside of that other 40th Anniversary Corvettes have come and gone. Occasionally seeing one or two at a show or on the street. The car always ingrained in my memory in sparkling Ruby Red. My dad survived the operation and the tumor was successfully removed. And other Corvettes have come and gone through the garage, but the 1993 40th Anniversary still lives in our memories as the one that got away that we still wish we had.

Why this car? What makes the 40th Anniversary Edition so special? Well obviously 1993 marked the 40th anniversary of Corvette production. To mark the occasion, Chevrolet produced 6,749 40th Anniversary Editions. An appearance package that cost $1,455. over the cost of a standard Corvette and was available on all trim levels. Coupe, convertible and ZR1. Each car was painted in Ruby Red Metallic with matching ruby red leather interiors, with convertibles receiving matching ruby red tops. The cars were then equipped with power passenger seats, sport bucket seat trim, special seat embroidery, Ruby Red inserts for the wheel center caps and chrome emblems. Each car could then be equipped with the line up of Corvette options. While many Corvettes today are called 40th Anniversary Editions by owners, only Ruby Red cars are the true special editions. This is, in part due to an error by GM's supplier where all Corvette seat upholstery had the special 40th Anniversary logo.  Otherwise, the cars were still powered by the 5.7 liter V8 (sans ZR1) and equipped to with either automatic or 6 speed manual transmissions.

Here's where you can help. I have been searching for my dad's 40th for several years now. We had retained the original window sticker for the car which now hangs in my office and has led me from time to time to search for it. I came close about 5 years ago when I googled the vin # and turned up an eBay auction that had been over for about two weeks. I made several attempts to contact the seller with no response. At the time the car was in Indiana and showed just over 30,000 miles. I know the car was sold to Michigan through my follow up searches. Last registrations show somewhere around Kalamazoo. I would love to surprise my dad by buying him back his pride and joy. I could got get just any 40th AE, but it's not the same. I am desperately trying to find 1993 Chevrolet Corvette vin # 1G1YY23P5P5119264. Please help me bring this car home. Below is the most recent picture I have of the car from the eBay auction. Please, if you can help track down the current owner of the car I would be extremely grateful.

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.