By J. Smith
Say it’s 1970. Autumn-football, falling leaves and new car model time. You’re young and want a small, good-looking car. The land yachts your parents drive are too geriatric. And you can’t really afford a Mustang or a Camaro. And that Nova you’ve been driving isn’t all that small and doesn’t really get good gas mileage.
You don’t like VW’s-too slow, and the air-cooled engine doesn’t produce enough heat to tame a northern winter. British cars fall apart in their shipping containers. And you don’t quite trust those strange little tin cans with names like Datsun and Toyota. Foreign cars are cheap tin. Death-traps for college students and professors.
For a while now, GM-the biggest and best company in the world-has been touting its upcoming new import-fighter. It will have an aluminum engine, a completely new design carrying the latest technology. GM whispers of a new rust-proofing technique that will brave even the most determined road salt. It will have the first car body ever designed with a computer. It will be produced in a one new plant, purpose-built with cutting-edge technology, dedicated to building nothing else.
By George Straton
The auto show debut a few months ago of the upcoming VW Polo reminded me of my trip to Greece last summer in which I vacationed at our family beach home about 90 miles southwest of Athens in the Peloponese. While I certainly am fortunate to have a home right on the beach of the Gulf of Argos, where the water temperature hits 90 F by 11 am on a mid July day, I felt just as fortunate for the opportunity to try out the European automotive markets’ offerings that aren’t available stateside.
Now Greece (or Hellas – its rightful non-Germanic name), thanks to the infrastructure requirements of the 2004 Olympic Games, is a poster child for the recent transformation of an entire system of public and road transport from medieval to modern within a 10-year period. How ironic that the oldest country in Europe had to modernize to reclaim the ancient athletic spiritual event that it founded.
Sale of controlling stake in Porsche looks imminent
By Brendan Moore
Reports out of Germany suggest that an agreement to cede control of Porsche to VW will be reached by next week.
If you are new to this Teutonic soap opera, Porsche originally tried to acquire VW a short time ago, running up staggering debt in their failed attempt.
How much debt?
Porsche has more than 9 billion euros ($12.7 billion) in debt, which got them a 51% stake in VW, and, options for 20 percent of the Wolfsburg-based VW, Europe’s largest auto manufacturer.
The attempt, however, unraveled quickly, when the debt load of Porsche came to light, some of the lenders got nervous, and the scenario of the minnow swallowing the whale was put to rest (VW produces more cars in a week than Porsche produces in a year).
Now Porsche is the one that is going to be acquired by VW Group as a result of its weakened state.
By Brendan Moore
The beginning of the week saw Bob Lutz, Vice Chairman of GM, saying that the Pontiac G8 was just too good a car to kill (and we agree) and that GM was thinking about rebadging the car as a Chevrolet Caprice so that GM could keep selling the performance sedan.
The very next day, Fritz Henderson, the CEO of GM, allowed as to how that was not very likely.
Yesterday afternoon, Bob Lutz wrote on GM’s in-house blog, Fast Lane, that “upon further review and careful study, we simply cannot make a business case for such a program. Not in today’s market, in this economy, and with fuel regulations what they are and will be.”
So, never mind.
That’s it – it looks like people in China, Australia, the Middle East and Europe will be able to buy the car next year, but not North Americans.
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Stevens, Blewitt, and Snoqualmie Passes
By Kevin Miller
Washington State is bisected by the Cascade Mountains into Western and Eastern Washington. Western Washington features Seattle and the picturesque Puget Sound, while Eastern Washington is highlighted by the Columbia River, whose abundant waters generate electricity through hydroelectric dams and irrigate hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland. There are only four highways which cross the Cascades to link the halves of the state, and one of those closes each winter due to snowfall.
Of those four passes, Stevens and Snoqualmie passes are the most centrally located in the state. Stevens Pass is on US-2, a federal highway which is mainly a two-lane route, which links Everett in Western Washington with Wenatchee and Spokane in Eastern Washington before continuing across the country as far as Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.. Snoqualmie Pass is on Interstate 90, which begins in Seattle and passes through Spokane on its way across the country to Boston, MA. Connecting US-2 to I-90 in Central Washington is US-97, a north-south Federal two-lane highway which passes through several major and minor passes, and is an enjoyable drive in its own right.
I’m lucky enough to be driving a 2009 Nissan 370Z Touring from Nissan’s press fleet this week. Unfortunately, because it lacks room for two car seats, I haven’t been able to drive the 370Z as often as I’d hoped to. Happily, I was able to clear an evening to for a drive through the mountains, to let the Z stretch its legs outside of the suburban sprawl where I typically drive.
By J. Smith
No pictures remain of this car, which entered a junkyard in the summer of 1991. I managed to take the hood ornament before it departed, a victim of delinquent hot-rodding and Wesson-quality motor oil. I only drove it regularly for a brief period-from June through November 1990. But this colossal piece of Flint-built American steel has haunted my memory and even dreams for nearly two decades.
In June of 1990, I was desperate for a car. I had gone through two Citations in record time. The first one I sold. The second one, a short-term loaner from my dad suffered transmission failure-the circumstances of which deserve a story in their own right. Gas was cheap, at about 95 cents a gallon, and I wanted something fast. Or at least with a stomping V8 engine.
A few months earlier, in March, I had test-driven a 1967 Dodge Monaco with a 383. The asking price was $1,500. The body was a bit rusty and the Buck Rogers interior mightily impressed my 16 year-old brain. Being accustomed to the glacial acceleration of a Citation, the tires squealed every time I touched the gas pedal. When I drove it out on a country road, it accelerated smoothly and effortlessly. By the time I looked down at the speedometer, it soberly informed me that I was going 80 MPH. I was hooked.
By Roger Boylan
No, not my dream garage (which you can find here in three installments: the Standards, the Sportives, and the Utilities) – Dick Burdick’s. Burdick, the 80-year-old founder of San Marcos, Texas-based Thermon Co., worldwide manufacturer of heating cables, tank insulation, and such, has been collecting cars since the 1980s. Most of the 250 or so he now owns reside in the 28-year-old Central Texas Museum of Automotive History in Rosanky, Texas, near Bastrop, but as of July 11th of this year the remaining 60 or so can be seen at another car museum, Dick’s Classic Garage in San Marcos. The museum is a striking building from the outside, incorporating Art Deco accents to evoke the heyday of drive-ins and extravagant automotive design. Inside, its 43,000 square-foot exhibit space is an agreeable place to walk around in, brightly lighted, like an artist’s studio, and logically laid out.
By Alex Kalogiannis
Amongst the Chelsea art galleries in New York City, you’ll find Tesla Motors’ latest showroom and New York presence. You may be thinking that a car dealership would be a garish addition to such a charming district, but you needn’t worry. Tesla, mindful of the fact that building structures willy-nilly is slightly antithetical to their whole environmentally-responsible nature, has integrated itself comfortably within the neighborhood.
The facility itself is nothing wild, just a simple space with a couple of floor models, places to sit, have coffee, and pick options for your soon-to-be ride. When asked if they plan to make good on the statement at the that the dealership would facilitate a functioning art gallery, a representative stated that they will indeed do so, but slowly progress into it. Oh, and expect the works to have an automotive slant. The rep I spoke to also conveyed a desire to have projectors broadcasting images from other Tesla facilities, so say the California location has an event, they can share the festivities across the globe. Also significant is that this location broadens Tesla’s service network on the east coast, having a place to bring your Roaster in to for any issues, and making more service techs available for house calls.