Posts By: Ronnie Schreiber

By on November 24, 2015


Left to right: Augie Duesenberg, Ab Jenkins (seated in Mormon Meteor), Harvey Firestone, Unknown

Left to right: Augie Duesenberg, Ab Jenkins (seated in Mormon Meteor), Harvey Firestone, Unknown

Does the name Ab Jenkins mean anything to you? He was once famous as the fastest man on land. What about the name Bonneville? If you’re a car enthusiast, you might associate it with Pontiac, as Bonneville was the nameplate of the now-deceased brand’s flagship sedan. Alternatively, you might think of the Bonneville Salt Flats, where many land-speed records have been set.

As a matter of fact, if you know the name Bonneville in either of those cases, it’s likely due to the efforts of Ab Jenkins, with supporting roles played by Augie Duesenberg and Herb Newport. (Read More…)

By on November 21, 2015


A week before Thanksgiving, the United Auto Workers and all of the domestic automakers know they will enter the holiday season without having to worry about a strike.

According to the Detroit News, the UAW announced late Friday that their members at Ford approved a proposed contract by a narrow 51.4-percent margin.

That news followed closely the union’s announcement that its International Executive Board considered ratified its contract with General Motors. It will go into effect starting next week. That deal had been delayed because, although the overall vote was in favor of the contract, almost 60 percent of skilled trade members of the UAW at GM voted against it. (Read More…)

By on November 19, 2015


From the late 1940s into the 1960s, Chrysler had most of its high profile concept and show cars fabricated by Ghia in Italy. Chrysler liked how the Italians did high quality work at prices far below what union labor would have cost them in Detroit, and Ghia liked the work and the revenue as Italy was rebuilding after World War II.

The relationship was mutually beneficial in more ways than just financial. Styling and technical ideas flowed in both directions between Highland Park and Turin. Giovanni Savonuzzi scaled down Chrysler design chief Virgil Exner Sr.’s Chrysler D’Elegance concept into Volkswagen’s Karmann Ghia. Exner, for his part, was perfectly happy to put Chrysler corporation nameplates on concepts that originated at Ghia. (Read More…)

By on November 16, 2015


On Friday, Barclays Plc announced it estimates the near-term costs of Volkswagen’s seemingly ever expanding emissions scandal will be about $27 billion USD (25 billion Euros).

Volkswagen’s automotive group had $29.6 billion in net liquidity at the the end of the third fiscal quarter of this year. About $10.8 billion is allocated to protect the company’s credit ratings. That leaves about $19 billion in cash for the company to work with.

There are fines that will be paid in a number of countries, along with goodwill gestures to owners of affected VW vehicles and incentives needed to sell cars from a tainted brand. Then there will the cost of litigation and any judgments or settlements that come out of those lawsuits.

About the same time as Barclays’ announcement, Automotive News and Bloomberg reported Volkswagen AG will be meeting in Wolfsburg this week with representatives of about a dozen banks to secure as much as $21.5 billion in loans by the end of this year. Those meetings aim to shore up the company’s financing and show the credit markets that VW has enough liquid assets to cover emissions-related costs. (Read More…)

By on November 11, 2015


I guess I cover the reverse trike beat here at TTAC.

It started with a post about a Chinese death trap three-wheeler I’d seen advertised. In the comments to that post, one of our readers suggested looking into the Elio project. We’ve done that a few times since then, including an exclusive review of one of their prototypes. Because of our coverage of Elio Motors, a group of Elio deposit holders who have become disenchanted by continued production delays asked us to consider their charges. While it’s true that I’m in what may be a minority of automotive writers that don’t think Elio is a scam, I’m not naive. There are ample reasons for skepticism and we take the word truth in our title seriously, so Mark Stevenson and I looked into the critics’ complaints and we both decided they were adding nothing new to issues raised by Elio’s critics before.

However, I do keep tabs on their Facebook group, which is how I found out about Arcimoto, a Eugene, Oregon company that hopes to put their highway capable electric reverse trike in production by the end of next year with a starting price of $11,900. (Read More…)

By on November 6, 2015

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Note: Yesterday, Mark Stevenson, using “news” about the revised Mercedes-Benz GLS as an object lesson, points out how wasteful car manufacturers’ and suppliers’ press releases can be. They waste pixels, paper, our time and ultimately get in the way of providing worthwhile content for you, our readers.

Not all press releases are a waste of time, though. I coincidentally happened to be buttoning up this post when Mark’s editorial went live and realized that my particular piece was 100 percent the result of getting a much shorter press release, albeit from a much smaller car maker (in both senses of the word) than Daimler. 

It’s always nice to get paid, but one of the better parts about this gig can be the interaction we have with readers. We’ve written about TTAC reader John Kit and the enthusiasm John and his teenaged daughter Emma have for making realistic slot cars based on historic sporting automobiles. I was particularly touched by the custom Jim Clark Lotus Cortina they made that was inspired by a post of mine. They don’t just make one-off slot cars; John set up Studio 65 to market 1:32 Jaguar X120s that Emma makes, scratch building the chassis and casting the resin bodies herself. The Jaguar was followed by a Ferrari 340 America. Recently, Emma wanted to build something “fun and cute”, so now they’ve introduced their latest slot car: the Austin Healey “Frogeye” Sprite. (Read More…)

By on October 30, 2015


In Part One we looked at Clessie Cummins’ development of the first practical and reliable diesel truck engines and his earliest attempts to race diesels in the Indy 500. Though he had succeeded in developing the technology, he still hadn’t achieved the ultimate proof of concept that market success brings. (Read More…)

By on October 30, 2015

(Note to readers: This was the piece on Clessie Cummins that should have appeared first. Unfortunately, Part 2 of the series ran first and will be rerun later this afternoon — Aaron.)

clessie-cumminsDiesel engines have been in the news lately, and not for good things. The admission by Volkswagen that it has been using a software device to cheat on government emissions testing of at least some of its diesels may taint compression ignition, oil-fired engines in the passenger car market. The trucking industry, however, will continue to use diesels. That’s mostly because of a guy named Clessie Lyle Cummins.

If you’re an automobile or truck enthusiast you likely know his last name, but just as likely know nothing about him.

His accomplishments date to building a working steam engine for his family’s Indiana farm as an 11 year old in 1899, casting the engine parts from molten iron poured into hand-carved molds. As a teenager, he started to take odd jobs including fixing machinery, which led to a job at the maker of Marmon automobiles — Nordyke and Marmon. He was also member of the pit crew of Ray Harroun’s Marmon Wasp that was the winner of the very first Indianapolis 500 race in 1911, and offered suggestions that made the car faster. Cummin’s loved the Indy 500 and his engines would eventually run there, with some measure of success. (Read More…)

By on October 22, 2015


I recently did something stupid that put me in a dangerous situation, but it taught me a lot.

Ever since the days of the Audi 5000’s unintended acceleration issue (yes, grasshopper, Toyota wasn’t the first automaker to face the matter), I’ve wondered something.

Even if the problem really is a mechanical or electronic defect causing the acceleration (I’m in the skeptics’ camp on that, the component between the seat and the steering wheel is likely the defective one), why didn’t the drivers just shift into neutral and use the brakes to slow and then stop the car? (Read More…)

By on October 22, 2015


Capitalism is just fine with me, but I have to say I was put off just a little by the glut of corporate cross-marketing tie-ins yesterday to Oct. 21, 2015, the date in the future to which Doc Brown and Marty McFly travel in the second Back To The Future movie.

Not that I have anything against the BTTF franchise: the trilogy is clever, charming and obviously inspires passionate fandom. Christopher Lloyd is crazy gifted in a Jonathan Winters manner and I have no objection to him making a few bucks appearing in ads with Michael J. Fox. Fox has a family to support, too.

I’m not naive and many of yesterday’s marketing efforts, from Nike’s self lacing shoes, to USA Today’s headline about Marty’s arrest only reflect product placement deals in the original films. (Read More…)

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