Posts By: Ronnie Schreiber

By on December 2, 2016

After I spent some time with the McLaren 570s, the British supercar company’s entry-level model for North America, I asked Jack Baruth if he thought the 675LT was worth $200,000 dollars more than the 570S. I’d driven the 675LT around Los Angeles back in January and Jack’s driven both cars as well. The 570S’ performance impressed me, […]

By on November 25, 2016

repo man pays off car Belleville News Democrat

Repossessing cars is what Jim Ford does for a living. Getting shot at while hooking up tow chains and being threatened with tire irons might have hardened another man, but Ford, 41, who owns Illini Recovery in Belleville, Illinois, isn’t that other man. He understands what the people whose cars he takes are going through and tries to make it a little easier. Instead of sneaking away with their ride, he knocks on doors, tells the debtors what’s going on and gives them a chance to retrieve personal items.

As Ford told the Belleville News-Democrat, “I may be getting soft in my old age but you get more done with kindness.”

Ford ended up doing a lot more than just letting Stanford and Patty Kipping, of Red Bud, get their personal items from their car. Kipping is 82 and his wife is 70 and recent increases in the cost of their prescriptions and other bills put a dent in their fixed income, causing them to skip several $95 monthly payments on their used 1998 Buick. After speaking with them, Ford contacted their bank and tried to work out a revised payment schedule on their $2,501 debt for them, but the financial institution said no, so on the hook the car went.

(Read More…)

By on November 23, 2016

Porsche 911 Soundbar, Image: Porsche Design

If one of your DIY car enthusiast friends built a home or office audio system from the muffler and exhaust pipes of their favorite car as both an acoustic and visual part, you’d probably think it was a clever idea — something like using an engine block for the base of a glass coffee table, only more practical.

What, then, to think of the $3,500 Porsche Design 911 Soundbar Bluetooth loudspeaker that incorporates an actual titanium rear silencer and twin chromed exhaust tips from a Porsche 911 GT3 in its subwoofer?

(Read More…)

By on November 21, 2016

Batteries from Beer University of Colorado Boulder

It sounds like a car guy’s fantasy, using beer to power a car.

And it still is fantasy, unfortunately.

However, a couple of researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have filed for a patent on a method to use the byproduct of the brewing process to create anodes for lithium-ion batteries, the power source for most electric cars. (Read More…)

By on November 7, 2016

peshmerga bmw kirkuk

In the many wars spanning the globe, a variety of vehicles have been pressed into military service by insurgents and militias alike, most notably the venerable Toyota Hilux. More recently Chinese compact pickups have appeared on battlegrounds, and even one Texas plumber’s Ford F-250 turned up in the hands of some bad guys.

Now comes word that, on October 21, a heroic Kurdish Peshmerga fighter used his bulletproof E32 BMW 7 Series as a military ambulance to save up to 70 people.

Ako Abdulrehman made repeated trips under ISIS sniper fire to save fighters and civilians wounded during the militants’ attack on the Kurdish city of Kirkuk. (Read More…)

By on November 4, 2016

chevy in the hole postcard

The former General Motors site along the Flint River was officially known as Chevrolet Flint Manufacturing, but many of the folks who worked there and Flint locals called it “Chevy in the Hole” — likely a reference to its location in the river valley. It was once GM’s most profitable operation, producing millions of Chevys, engines, AC spark plugs and other components that went into those Chevrolets and other GM vehicles. It’s also where the United Auto Workers made history with its massive sit-down strike in 1936-37.

Starting with an engine plant in 1913, GM grew and so did the complex, adding an assembly plant and then a Fisher Body factory in the early years. Eventually the complex’s scores of buildings took up 130 acres. As the American auto industry started its decline in the 1980s, though, and over the next two decades, the massive complex was shut down and taken apart in piecemeal fashion, just as it had been assembled. (Read More…)

By on November 2, 2016

christopher-walken-adds-pizzazz-to-kia-motors-super-bowl-commercial-for-the-all-new-2016-optima-midsize-sedan-4357f5e2d2e092f6

Normally at this time of year, between Halloween and Thanksgiving, we start hearing about automakers’ television commercials for the upcoming Super Bowl. For decades, the National Football League’s championship game has been the marquee venue for car companies trying to make big impressions on consumers.

As Super Bowl ads became an item of interest all on their own, many automobile manufacturers have crafted entire campaigns around their commercials for the “big game”, with teaser ads leading up to the event and long form and other alternate versions released once the primary ads are broadcast on Super Sunday.

While it’s the highlight of American football, automakers from around the world pony up big bucks to display their wares before more than 100 million viewers. This year, though, with television ratings for the NFL in serious decline, it remains to be seen if the Super Bowl will continue to attract automakers’ advertising dollars, marks, pounds, lira, yen, yuan, and won. (Read More…)

By on November 1, 2016

Michigan State Police cars at the Training Academy, Image: Joe Ross/Flickr

In Michigan, you can’t get a car with a salvage title on the road legally without first having it inspected by a state certified salvage vehicle inspector, typically a specially trained police officer. The officer inspects the car for safety and checks the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN) to make sure the VIN hasn’t been reported as stolen. The car’s owner pays a $100 cash fee to be forwarded to the state government, the inspector signs off on the forms, and the state issues a new, clean title.

That is unless Seth Swanson was your inspector, allegedly.

Former Michigan State Police trooper, Swanson, 31 of Royal Oak, has been charged by the state attorney general with felony counts of embezzlement and forgery for pocketing over $170,000 in fees in what appears, based on the large number of cars involved, to have been an organized title washing scheme. (Read More…)

By on October 28, 2016

google prototype-early

Every now and then, a critical mass of clever, ambitious folks excited about a particularly good idea coalesces, often in a particular geographic region, and humanity gets lucky. The American colonies in the late 18th century and Detroit in the early 20th century are historical examples. Silicon Valley, starting in the 1980s, is probably our best contemporary example.

In recent years, those modern titans of technology have turned their futurist eyes towards personal transportation. Whether explicitly or in sotto voce tones, they’ve indicated that the traditional auto industry personified as “Detroit” was a dinosaur about to go extinct. Not knowing the auto industry metaphor of becoming an obsolete buggy whip manufacturer, the tech industry saw Detroit’s future as “making handsets” — i.e. low tech assemblers.

Tesla was going to show us the new electron driven future, Google was going to make cars that drove themselves, and the Apple of the tech world’s eye was going to do nothing less than completely reinvent the automobile, just as it had done with music players and telephones. The push towards self-driving, autonomous cars and trucks was only going to accelerate the ascendancy of Silicon Valley as the new Motor City.

Just because you’re good at one thing, however, doesn’t mean you’re good at another. (Read More…)

By on October 12, 2016

Sondors Electric Trike, Image: Sondors

Last year, Storm Sondors, a Malibu-based entrepreneur, used an IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign to launch a very basic $499 electric bicycle. He’s since sold 15,000 of his Asian-made electric bikes.

Buoyed by that success, Mr. Sondors has announced the creation of the Sondors Electric Car Company, which he says will sell an electric-powered, aluminum-bodied, three-passenger, enclosed reverse trike with a variety of battery pack options that offer 50 to 200 miles of range.

The Sondors electric trike is supposed to have a starting price of $10,000 and will be called the Model Sondors, more likely a nod to Tesla than to Henry Ford.

The folks over at Gas2.org think the Model Sondors is everything the proposed Elio is not. I agree with that statement, though not in the same way as Gas2go’s Steve Hanley. (Read More…)

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