To be completely honest, I’ve never really understood all the adulation showered upon Buckminster Fuller. Yes, I know he was a visionary who popularized (but did not invent) the geodesic dome, which has some practical applications, but a lot of his innovations seem to me to be just a bit crackpotish. With the exception of the aforementioned domes, few of his other projects were fully practical. Take his Dymaxion car for example. (Read More…)
Posts By: Ronnie Schreiber
During the city of Detroit’s recent municipal bankruptcy, the billion-dollar-plus-valued art collection of the city-owned Detroit Institute of Arts became an issue due of the possibility the art might have to be sold off to pay the city’s debts. Less generally well known, but probably of greater interest to car enthusiasts, is another collection ultimately owned by the city — the six dozen or so vehicles that are owned by the Detroit Historical Museum. One reason why that collection isn’t better known is that most of its more famous cars are usually on loan, displayed at other museums. (Read More…)
I have a friend and colleague, for the purposes of this post we’ll name him Jack, that races cars and has an active social life with attractive women. It’s not likely that he’d be jealous of a decrepit grandfather like me, but indeed his envy was as green as his old Audi S5 when I recently got to tour the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant where FCA assembles the Viper.
Aaron Cole’s post about automotive patent art gladdened my heart. Years ago, I decided to check out some of Les Paul and Leo Fender’s original patents on their electric guitars and I discovered the artistry of patent drawings. These days the United States Patent and Trademark Office, as well as patent offices around the world, accept digitally produced artwork. However, before the digital age, an inventor had to hire someone skilled at technical drawing to produce the various exploded and see-through sketches needed to describe the “preferred embodiment” of a process patent.
Of course the “inventor” of a design patent — a slightly different form of intellectual property that protects the design and look of a product — is more often than not, the actual designer.
Following up on Aaron’s post, I decided to put the names of some notable automotive designers into a patent search engine to see what I could find. My hypothesis was that in the case of a design patent, particularly for a car, the artwork for the patent application was likely to have been drawn by the designer. A patent is a big deal to any engineer or designer and he’d likely want to be the one responsible for representing his own idea best.
Here’s a little bit of racing trivia you may not have known. In addition to getting a check with a couple of commas in the amount, the winning driver of the Indianapolis 500 is also awarded the pace car for that year’s race. I’m not talking about one of the thousands of replicas they sell at the dealers or even one of the dozens of courtesy cars with pace car graphics that they use at the race. I’m talking about the actual vehicle used to pace the drivers as they come into formation for the flying start and then functions as a safety car when yellow flags are unfurled. That means that racers driving for Roger Penske’s team have won sixteen of those pace cars.
Apparently those drivers’ contracts give the team the right to buy the pace car if they win because Roger owns all sixteen paces cars from the years that his team has won the 500. To celebrate this year’s edition of the massive Woodward Dream Cruise, the Penske organization paraded their collection of authentic Indy 500 pace cars from the Penske Corp’s hospitality tent in Royal Oak all the way up to Pontiac and back, with the spiff that many of the cars were being driven by current and former Penske racers. (Read More…)
Following a similar effort last month at Tesla’s headquarters, Carpenters’ Local 713 of Hayward, CA, set up a protest on Friday outside the EV maker’s showroom in nearby San Jose, saying that the automaker’s policies “hurts workers, hurts families, hurts community.”
The protest was not without a bit of theater, including a giant papier-mâché puppet of death. Fliers were handed out saying “Shame on Them” and calling on the company to require “General Contractors and all their sub-contractors pay the Carpenter Area Standard Wages and Benefits on all jobs all the time”.
One assumes this labor dispute has to do with construction that Tesla is doing in California and not about the Gigafactory for making batteries that Tesla is building in Nevada, unless Local 713 is taking up the cause of their union brothers and sisters in the Silver State. The UAW has so far unsuccessfully attempted to organize Tesla’s assembly plant in Fremont, CA, formerly the UAW facility operated by GM and Toyota known as NUMMI. (Read More…)
They were sitting right next to each other at the auction preview — probably happenstance, a mere coincidence that they were adjacent, but seeing a Porsche 356B and a BMW 2002 just a few feet apart I couldn’t help but wonder if most of the people who buy Porsches and BMWs today would be happy with those cars. (Read More…)
As part of this gig, I see a lot of cars. Besides attending the major corporate auto shows like the North American International Auto Show here in Detroit, from spring into late fall almost every Sunday will find me at some kind of car show. Car museums are also some of my favorite places. Having entered my teens during the 1960s, when there were E Type Jaguars, Corvettes and Mustangs, it was easy for me to dismiss cars from the ’50s as old-fashioned, let alone vehicles from the pre-war classic era. As Mark Twain pointed out, though, I’ve learned a few things since I was a young man and my perspective has changed.
Ken Lingenfelter is one of the good guys in the car hobby — very friendly and approachable. I see him a few times a year, personally attending car events where he’s either showing some of his cars or renting vendor space for Lingenfelter Performance, the tuning company started by his late cousin. That he goes to things like the Ypsilanti Camarofest instead of just sending employees says to me that he’s there for the love of the hobby. He likes sharing that love with others, opening up the Lingenfelter Collection — located in Brighton, Michigan, about a half hour northwest of Detroit — to about 100 charity events every year.
If you’re coming to Detroit for the week of the Woodward Dream Cruise to check out the cool cars and you want to help out the families of sick kids, the Lingenfelter Collection will be hosting a benefit on Thursday, August 13, from 6:00 to 9:00 pm to raise funds for the newly completed Ronald McDonald House on St. Antoine Street in midtown Detroit. (Read More…)
At one point few vehicles epitomized the American family car as the station wagon, particularly of the fullsize variety. Today, most car companies are pretty much convinced that American consumers will not buy station wagons. A few of the European luxury brands offer them here, but for the most part wagons are not welcome in the contemporary automotive scene in the U.S. According to Pete Bigelow of AOL Autos, the fault for that lies with the vehicular star of 1983’s “National Lampoon’s Vacation” — the Wagon Queen Family Truckster, a hideous pastiche of just about every bad malaise era styling trend appliqued over a Ford LTD Country Squire.