Posts By: Ronnie Schreiber

By on May 25, 2015

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It’s not often a car company, or any group of people for the matter, will admit mistakes – particularly billion dollar mistakes. That’s why the launch of the all-new Tata GenX Nano is refreshing. Based on former CEO Ratan Tata’s dream of moving Indians who transport their entire families on scooters and motorcycles into safer – albeit, basic – four wheeled automobiles, the very fact the original 2009 Nano was the least expensive car on sale anywhere in the world proved to be an albatross around the Nano’s tiny neck. Even Indians aspiring to the middle class of a developing country, it turns out, aspire to be seen in something other than the cheapest car in the world. They’d rather buy a used Maruti Suzuki Alto 800, the hatchback that more or less defines India’s entry level car segment. In recognition of that reality, the new GenX Nano will now be positioned as an entry level hatchback to more directly compete with the Alto 800, Hyundai Eon and the newly announced Renault Kwid. (Read More…)

By on May 18, 2015

 

Aston Martin DBX concept

Aston Martin DBX concept

In our post about McLaren having no interest in producing a sports car for the masses, I mentioned I didn’t ask Wayne Bruce, McLaren’s communications director, if the company was considering producing an SUV like many of the other expensive marques. Well, Mr. Bruce read the post and contacted me, saying that he wished I had indeed asked him that question because the answer goes to the heart of what the McLaren brand means to the company and to its customers. Other car companies might be well served to emulate the clarity with which McLaren understands their own brand. (Read More…)

By on May 17, 2015

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In 1957, Ronnie Kaczmar was 15 years old and, like most teenage boys living in Dearborn, Michigan in the 1950s, Ronnie and his younger brother Jim loved cars. Unlike most of the boys in Dearborn, though, Ronnie Kaczmar wasn’t into flathead Ford hot rods. No, he was into hot shots, as in the Crosley Hot Shot and other Crosley automobiles. (Read More…)

By on May 13, 2015

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Though I don’t watch broadcast or cable television much anymore, I like the idea of the ABC’s Shark Tank. Actually, when I still had cable, I watched the original Canadian version of the show, Dragon’s Den, since Windsor, Ontario’s CBC affiliate station is generally part of Detroit area cable bundling. As a tinkerer, inventor and small business owner, the idea of a show premised on pitching your business idea to possible angels is appealing to me. However, while all of the “sharks” undoubtedly have been more successful entrepreneurs than I have been, sometimes they make investments that just don’t make sense to me.

On last Friday’s show, one of the potential investors, Robert Herjavec, pledged $5 million in funding to a startup named Zero Pollution Motors to start building cars propelled by compressed air. ZPM says that they will start building the cars in Hawaii sometime later this year.

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By on May 12, 2015

In February of 2013, when speaking to the opening breakfast of the Chicago Auto Show, Andy Goss, the head of Jaguar Land Rover of North America, made a couple of comments about the luxury market in the United States. He said that 90 percent of vehicles with luxury nameplates are sold with V6 engines and […]

By on May 10, 2015

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When Chrysler invited the media to an event at the Conner Avenue assembly plant where the Dodge Viper is put together in Detroit, it was rumored they’d use the occasion to reveal a 700+ horsepower Hellcat Version of Dodge’s sports car. After all, how could the Challenger and Charger have more powerful engines than the brand’s King of the Hill? Over at GM, even Cadillac’s V cars don’t have as much power as the Z06 Corvette.

It happens Dodge did reveal a new version of the Viper – but it isn’t a Hellcat. Instead, they introduced what they billed as “the fastest street legal Viper track car ever”, the all-new Viper ACR. (Read More…)

By on May 9, 2015

 

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Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse, $2.4 million

It’s impossible to visit Manhattan without noticing wealth and privilege. Though I’m loathe to use the P word as it’s been corrupted by politics, how else can you describe someone driving a S Class Mercedes-Benz with “MD” New York license plates other than as affluent and expecting special treatment from parking enforcement that won’t be extended to some zhlub from Jersey in a Camry?

New York City generates so much wealth that the people there can afford the opportunity and real costs involved with insane traffic, general congenstion and expensive infrastructure. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising, then, that the New York International Auto Show is where car companies go to show off their goods from the top shelf.
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By on May 8, 2015

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Denise McCluggage passed away this week at the age of 88. A pioneer in so many ways and not simply because she was a woman competing in mostly male environments. Denise simply excelled at whatever she did.

To most car enthusiasts she was known primarily for her automotive writing and photography. In the 1950s, though, she raced cars actively and successfully on road courses and in rallying, including a class win in a Ferrari 250GT at the Sebring 12 hour race in 1961. She raced in both women’s events and in those men’s events that would let her enter, competing with and being treated as an equal by racers like Phil Hill and Sterling Moss. She and Moss were lifelong friends. You could always spot her in the field by her distinctive red polka-dotted racing helmet. She was also a competitive downhill skier and a professional instructor in that sport. For more details on her professional life, you can read her biographies elsewhere, or check out her personal website, but this post is more of an eulogy than an obituary. Denise McCluggage was simply one of the coolest ladies I’ve even known. (Read More…)

By on May 7, 2015

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Nowadays it seems as you’re almost as likely to see or hear a public service announcement about the dangers of texting behind the wheel as you are about drunk driving, but there are still plenty of “drive sober or get pulled over” billboards and PSAs. Around 4:45 AM on August 14, 2013, a 22 year old Florida woman named Mila Dago driving a rented Smart car apparently ignored all of that advice and allegedly ran a red light and broadsided a pickup truck, resulting in the death of her passenger, Irina Reinoso, also 22.

Not only did she find herself charged with DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide but now there’s a good chance she’ll be convicted because prosecutors have recently obtained a string of text messages she sent to her boyfriend that night including the self-incriminating statement “Driving drunk woo,” sent just minutes before the crash. (Read More…)

By on May 5, 2015

 

The new McLaren 570S

The new McLaren 570S

It sounds funny to say a car that costs almost $185,000 is a move downmarket, but the new McLaren 570S introduced at the recent New York Auto Show, and the detuned 540S version of the same “Sport Series” chassis (~$150K), are exactly that. The first McLarens to cost less than a quarter of a million dollars are aimed squarely at the Porsche 911. Since I’ve always been a best bang for the buck kind of a guy, whether I’m talking cars or stereo equipment, I wondered if McLaren might be interested in using their resources to bring their kind of high performance to an everyman’s sports car. So I asked Wayne Bruce, McLaren’s global director of communications, if there might be a sub-six-figure McLaren some day. (Read More…)

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