When was the last time you saw a major car company do something silly in a commercial? No, not like that Lincoln ad made from Tweets curated by Jimmy Fallon, I mean something deliberately silly. There may be more recent ones but Isuzu’s “Joe Isuzu” ad campaign is the most recent one that I can think of and that was so long ago that when young people see Joe’s I-Mark ads on YouTube they must ask, “Isuzu sold cars? I thought they just sold trucks ” (Read More…)
Posts By: Ronnie Schreiber
Zolland Design AB, a Swedish graphic arts and design firm that also goes by the name Vizualtech, has rendered an Indy Roadster style body they call the IndySeven with the correct dimensions to fit on a Caterham or Lotus Seven chassis. From a design standpoint it works, but then I’m fond of Frank Kurtis’ Indy Roadsters. Kurtis was one of the most prolific race car builders ever, with 120 Kurtis-Kraft cars having competed at Indy, including five race winners. From a conceptual standpoint I like it even more because it puts a clever twist on the history of the Indianapolis 500. (Read More…)
Critics of the current administration have pointed to the impending bankruptcy of Fisker Automotive and the recent suspension of operations at taxi maker Vehicle Production Group as examples of why the government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers in it’s zeal to promote alternative energy. The DoE effort under which those two companies received financing is the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program, ATVM. Putting aside political ideologies, contrary to the image given by the apparent failure of Fisker and VPG, the ATVM program actually has a pretty decent track record when it comes to picking winners and losers.
Most of our readers probably already know the broad strokes of the Fisker story. If you’re interested in the finer details of the history of the extended range EV company that appears to be circling the drain, GigaOM, a site that covers the investment side of tech companies, has published a fairly comprehensive 4,000 word look back at Fisker by Katie Fehrenbacher. (Read More…)
Once, while I was reading prewar classic car restoration expert David Greenlees’ fine site The Old Motor, there was an article about a custom 1925 Rolls Royce Phantom with round doors, a museum piece. The article mentioned how the body was the second one fitted to that chassis as the first, a custom Hooper body, was apparently rejected by the lady who ordered it, “Mrs. Hugh Dillman of Detroit, MI.”. The name rang a bell so I looked it up on a search engine and every result on the first page said the same thing, that the Rolls had been ordered by Mrs. Dillman but for some reason she didn’t like it and never took delivery. Other than ”Mrs. Hugh Dillman of Detroit, MI.”, pretty much repeated verbatim, there wasn’t much info on Mrs. D. Digging deeper I found out why her name was familiar. Hugh Dillman was Anna Dodge’s second husband. Her first hubby was Horace Dodge, who along with his brother John founded the Dodge Brothers car company. All these automotive sites were talking about Mrs. Hugh Dillman without realizing that they were missing an important fact about the lady, perhaps of more interest to car enthusiasts than the fact that she refused delivery of a custom car.
This site has long been distinguished in many ways by what it doesn’t cover. Our founder wouldn’t cover motorsports at all, though that policy has obviously been changed, for the better I might add. We don’t review the latest edition of Forza or other racing games and sims, and we’re not likely to run a post about the latest episode of Top Gear, in either the original British or the various colonial forms. Why talk about what everyone is talking about? Still, there’s a reason why you see ’69 Camaros at every car show. Things are popular because people like them. This video promoting Detroit’s bid to host ESPN’s 2014 X Games, produced by Detroit agency The Work Inc., featuring a Ford Fiesta ST rallycross car racing around downtown Detroit and Belle Isle, and doing donuts on the roof of Cobo Hall, has been making the rounds of the car blogs and not only is everyone raving about the video, the promo is doing it’s job. (Read More…)
An editor that I know once said something about disappearing into a rabbit hole when you start to read about an automotive topic. You never know where you’ll come out minutes, hours or even days later. Doug DeMuro’s post where he ranked vehicles used as taxicabs elicited a thread of comments about London’s signature black taxis. While some of our more curmudgeonly readers think it’s rather arrogant of TTAC to call our site’s commenters the Best & Brightest (anyone besides me see the irony there?), we do have a well informed readership so I wasn’t surprised to see Geely mentioned as the owner of Manganese Bronze Holdings, who make the distinctive London hacks. The mention of the London cabs, though, pricked my memory. I had recently read that someone else, another company, made London taxis besides Manganese. Then I just had to remember who it was.
Russians apparently love their dashboard mounted video cameras. Those cameras have provided us with eye popping as-they-happened views of car crashes, truck crashes, and even a plane crash or two. Sometimes the videos are of very close calls, others record vehicular mayhem, injuries and, sadly, fatalities. So it’s refreshing to see that someone has made a compilation of Russian dashcam videos that show human beings at their best, people stopping to help elderly and infirm pedestrians get through traffic safely or folks lending a hand to motorists and others in need of help.
TTAC alum Justin Berkowitz, over at Car and Driver, reports that a government crackdown on tax cheats has resulted in the Italian market for Italian supercars tanking. Ferrari sales went down 50% from 2011 to 2012. Maserati’s Italian sales have dropped 80% since 2009. Lamborghini is apparently selling no more than five cars a month in all of their home country.
Autopalooza, the umbrella PR campaign for sixteen top shelf automotive events in southeast Michigan, including races, cruises and car shows, had a kick off press event this past week. As a Detroit booster, I urge you to check out the schedule of events and try to attend as many of them as you can. While I haven’t been to all of them, I’ve attended most and if you get to check any of them out, you’ll find out why car events around Detroit are special.
In the 1982 German Grand Prix at the Hockenheim racetrack, driving a BMW powered Brabham Nelson Piquet Sr. was leading 18 laps into the 45 lap race. As he passed backmarker Eliseo Salazar to lap him at the new Ostkurve chicane, Salazar turned into Piquet, wrecking the two of them. It was a relatively low speed collision and neither was injured but both of their races were over. An enraged Piquet was already gesturing angrily at Salazar as he got out of his car. Piquet then pretty much charged at Salazar, stiff armed him, then hit him with a left right combination of punches to the head followed by a karate kick towards Salazar’s groin, which missed. Next time some hoity toity F1 fan mocks NASCAR and the Allison brothers versus Cale Yarborough throwdown, remind them of Piquet’s kick.
One of the things that I’ve learned from going to car shows is to try to remember to not act like an expert, to listen more than talk. That way I might actually learn something, or at least not embarrass myself in front of someone that’s a real expert. That’s a nice way of saying that it’s better to keep my mouth shut and have people think that I’m a fool, than to open my mouth and prove their point.
Earlier this month, when Detroit Electric revealed their first car, the Lotus based SP:01, the EV startup’s CEO, Albert Tam, said that the battery powered sports car is only the first of three cars that Detroit Electric will be introducing over the next year or so. Only 999 of the carbon fiber bodied SP:01 will be made but Tam said that next year Detroit Electric will be introducing two more mass market cars, a sedan and hatchback. Tam said that those cars will have Detroit Electric specific styling and interiors but will be based on gliders sourced from an existing auto manufacturer with final assembly being done in Michigan. At the time of the SP:01 reveal, Detroit Electric executives said that the vendor whose platform they’d be using was “in Asia”. They company also said that an announcement of a strategic partner would be made at the Shanghai Auto Show. I assumed that partner would be Chinese and that Detroit Electric would be announcing who their platform vendor for the sedan and hatchback would be. I was half correct.
Doug DeMuro recently discussed both sides of the “investment car” issue, those cars that may actually appreciate in value and those that probably won’t despite their supposed collector status. The problem with this ad on the Detroit area Craigslist for a 1991 Mercury Capri (that’s the little car that Bob Lutz wanted to be the Ghia Barchetta but ended up being a FWD “sports car” imported from Australia), is that it doesn’t even approach the collector status of the cars on Doug’s “don’t invest” list.
In the early 1980s, when Japanese car companies started conquering the automotive world, few would have predicted the survival of the British car industry. British Leyland, whose umbrella eventually included most British marques except for tiny specialists like Lotus and TVR, was busy going defunct. In the 1950s and early 1960s, export demand, particularly for sports cars, helped keep British car factories humming. By the 1980s, though, decrepit factories, continual labor unrest, abysmal quality and Lucas electrics made success virtually impossible in the face of the well engineered and reliable new Japanese cars. Now, three decades later, at a time when the continental European automobile industry is plagued by overcapacity and a dormant market (issues with the Euro, Greece and other debtor countries are probably a factor as well), the British automotive sector is in the best shape it’s been in since the 1960s.