Chrysler marketeer Olivier Francois has been a master at getting enormous buzz from Chrysler’s Super Bowl commercials. Two years ago, they launched the memorable Imported From Detroit ad for the Chrysler 200, using music by Detroit area rapper Eminem. That ad was said by many to be more memorable than the 2011 200, a warmed over Sebring, every car writer’s favorite whipping boy. Chrysler has an all-new 200 that it just revealed at the Detroit auto show less than a month ago and to get the buzz going on the new car, Francois has tweeked the 200′s tagline to “American Import” and instead of hiring someone contemporary like Mr. Mathers, Chrysler’s Global Hue ad agency went old school and engaged Bob Dylan to appear in, provide music and perform the voiceover for the Chrysler 200′s new Super Bowl spot. I’m also wondering if Bob didn’t also write some of the ad copy. (Read More…)
Posts By: Ronnie Schreiber
In one of those weird coincidences, Volkswagen of America is celebrating the 65th anniversary of the Beetle in the United States just as the last VW Type 2 (aka the Volkswagen bus) ever made, which was assembled in Brazil on December 20, 2013, arrived at the vintage vehicle museum in VW Commercial Vehicles’ headquarters in Hanover, Germany. The coincidence is that importing VW Beetles to America and building the VW bus were both ideas that originated in the mind of one man, someone who didn’t even work for Volkswagen, Dutch car dealer Ben Pon. (Read More…)
Let’s say that you’ve had a large enough measure of material success that you have budgeted fifty thousand dollars for a car that befits your socio-economic status, something that makes you feel good while announcing to others that you’ve arrived at a certain social station. Perhaps the obvious choice would be a 5 Series BMW. The base 528i starts at $49,500, though that means you get a 2.0L turbocharged four cylinder engine. For fifty grand you can also get a 2014 Cadillac CTS with an option package or two, but that also comes with the now ubiquitous turbo two liter. Those are both nice cars and at that price point you have many other choices, but for the same $50K, you could have gotten something with considerably more panache, cachet and exclusivity than you can garner with a new Bimmer or Caddy. (Read More…)
Starting with the upcoming Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona race, the highest levels of sports car and prototype road racing in the U.S. will operate under a single series. The Grand Am and American LeMans Series racing organizations have merged and are now operating as the United SportsCar Championship, sanctioned by IMSA and controlled by the France family that owns NASCAR and a number of first tier racetracks around the United States. Tudor, Rolex’s less expensive (but still costly) brand of luxury watches, signed on to be the USCC series title sponsor, which will create an interesting situation when the trophies are handed out after the USCC race in Detroit on May 31st. While the USSC has Tudor as a series sponsor, another company that makes watches, Shinola, is a sponsor and “key partner” of the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. (Read More…)
To paraphrase Ian Fleming, once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is already a fad. Car designers (or their bosses) are among the most faddish people on the planet, it seems sometimes. Don’t believe me? The new GMC Canyon midsize pickup truck has Altezza tail lights. One of the most widely proliferated fads in interior design has been the use of so-called French stitching, the use of contrasting colored running stitches along seams on leather upholstery. As someone who does machine embroidery on leather for a living, I know why it’s become popular. It looks good. The stitching slightly quilts the leather and gives it a three dimensional texture, a luxury touch. However, is it still a luxury touch when the latest Toyota Corolla has contrasting French “stitching” molded into the dashboard plastic? (Read More…)
When we asked our readers what you wanted us to cover at the 2014 NAIAS media preview, one of the requests was about swag and perks. There was a time, maybe 10 or 12 years ago, when automotive press kits and related items distributed to members of the media at major auto shows were special enough and collectible enough that a decent number of literature and toy dealers would bring entire crews to those shows to get inventory to sell on eBay. The former communications director of the Chicago Auto Show would publicly bemoan the presence of what he called “press kit thieves” who’d manage to get past the credentials committee to get in the show and then out past security with boxes of press kits and cases of die cast models. There were so many things that would be collectible to car enthusiasts one could make a business out of it. (Read More…)
As a colleague said to me the other day, the NAIAS media preview is for networking, interviews, and asking questions, not covering reveals. You never really know ahead of time who exactly you’re going to run into but you will run into friends, colleagues and industry insiders. 2014 is the Dodge brand’s 100th anniversary. In November it will be a century since Horace and John Dodge started selling cars under their own names after more than a decade of being Henry Ford’s primary supplier. While looking at a display of Dodge memorabilia adjacent to the brand’s centennial editions of the Challenger and Charger, I got to talking with a guy when I noticed he was wearing an Alexander Brothers lapel pin. I’m a big fan of the legendary Detroit custom car builders and have interviewed Mike Alexander. Someday I’ll publish my work on the Dodge Deora. Right now it’s somewhere between TL:DR and a book. Anyhow, the guy with the A Bros pin turned out to be Dan Zimmermann, who is the interior design manager for the Dodge brand at Chrysler, and it turns out that the 100th anniversary Dodge models coincidentally celebrate another Detroit contribution to gearhead culture.
Unless you’ve lived through it, you have no idea what it’s like to slog through the colossal Detroit auto show media preview. There were something like 50 new vehicle reveals spread out over two days, a press conference every 45 minutes or so. In the blur it’s easy to miss something. Fortunately, I live in the Detroit area so if I manage to not get photos or video of an important reveal or new-to-the-NAIAS vehicle, I can always go back during the Industry Preview that follows the press days. While reading Derek Kreindler’s NAIAS recap I realized that one of the cars that I missed was the Chevrolet SS performance sedan. A couple of months ago our colleague Bark M speculated that General Motors was not trying very hard to sell the new $44,000 SS. After photographing the SS at the NAIAS, I think that Bark M might have been on to something. (Read More…)
While I was at Cobo Hall straightening out press credentials to the upcoming Detroit auto show for a colleague, Mercedes-Benz was rehearsing their media presentation, including the North American reveal of the Concept S-Class Coupe, a two door version of Daimler’s flagship sedan. The Concept S-Class Coupe isn’t really a secret, having already been shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. (Read More…)
One of my pet peeves are “worst cars of all time” lists, partly because they are so predictable (Edsel, Pinto, Vega, Gremlin, Subaru 360 etc. etc.), but also because they usually include cars whose makers could point to some level of success, either as innovators or because they sold lots of them. Cars become punchlines and get stigmatized with urban legends. I’m not saying that Chevy Vegas didn’t start rusting before they left the Lordstown factory, but if you’re going to mock it as a failure, at least mock it as an interesting failure. After all, there are people who collect and restore Vegas and if you are a car enthusiast they are worthy of as much of your respect as folks who own and treasure Duesenbergs.
There’s been some speculation that after Ford’s big multi-continent reveal of the all-new 2015 Mustang that the new pony car will not be seen in public again till the New York Auto Show in the spring. As you can see from the photos taken today at Cobo Hall while the big Detroit show is being set up, the new Mustang be on display. Not just on display, Ford is making a big deal out of the new car and the nameplate’s 50th anniversary. A 1965 Mustang will be on display along with at least one concept car that was part of the original Mustang’s gestation and Ford has set up a Mustang memorabilia shop where attendees to the public part of the NAIAS will be able to buy personalized Mustang mementos. The most obvious sign that the ’15 Mustang will be on display was a 2015 Mustang convertible already on a turntable, under a sheet of protective plastic. An empty turntable nearby will probably hold the coupe. (Read More…)
You’ve probably enjoyed Brenda Priddy’s photography before. Brenda specializes in getting spy shots of prototypes and development “mules” out testing, usually in the Arizona desert, her base of operations, though she has associates around the country. Spy shots aren’t the most artistic of photographs, though. You’re trying to get shots of the car, often a moving target, so you may not have the luxury of getting the composition, framing and every camera setting on every photo just right, but make no doubt about it, Brenda’s got some serious chops as a lenswoman. She’ll be stepping out from the shadows of shooting spy pics and making a public appearance in Chandler, Az at the January 31 opening of her exhibition of fine art photographs entitled “Automotive Artifacts: The Fine Art Photography of Brenda Priddy” at the Chandler Center for the Arts. (Read More…)
Our Editor in Chief pro tempore, Jack Baruth, was injured an automobile collision near Columbus Saturday. His injuries were serious but he is expected to make a full recovery. Last night, Jack posted the following to his Facebook page:
This is Rumor Control. Involved in 40mph offset today on rural road. Wasn’t speeding, the other car wasn’t speeding, we just hit some ice. My son’s fine. My partner is in the proverbial dire straits. I had spleen surgery and I’ve broken the stuff I broke in 1988 — minus the neck.
In the meantime, all of his colleagues are keeping him in our thoughts and prayers, wishing for him to have a recovery as speedy as he is on the track.
Once again, Jack, all of us wish you a return to full health as soon as possible.
I’m sure that it’s a cliche to say that as a writer I try to avoid cliches. While gearshifts often do fall readily to hand, it’s not a good idea to put that in every review. Not long ago another writer (and I wish I could remember who it was to give him credit) was describing a car’s engine that wasn’t exactly the smoothest running machine and he mocked a common automotive cliche with the phrase “insert agricultural implement metaphor here”. When you read “it runs like a tractor”, they aren’t exactly praising an engine’s durability or torque, they’re calling it primitive and uncouth. Since I like to see things first hand, when I saw that there was going to be a tractor show this fall in Ira Twp, Michigan about an hour away, I decided to see, hear and feel for myself just how roughly tractor engines run. I’m glad that I did because what started out as a lark ended up teaching me something about automotive history and also American culture. (Read More…)
I’ve never quite understood why snowstorms in winter are news, but I noticed Diane Sawyer talking about it on the evening news today so I guess if you live in the eastern half of North America, you’re probably experiencing some winter weather. Living in Michigan, where we discuss the finer points of materials science when it comes to snow shovels (my personal preference is laminated hardwood but those are no longer imported into America from Austria), dealing with snow is just part of life here. Now there are plenty of people around here who stay indoors when the snow emergency announcements start getting broadcast, lots of people hate driving in winter conditions, and I’ve had more than a couple of white knuckle experiences due to poor traction caused by snow or ice, but to be honest, I flat out love driving in snow. Do you? (Read More…)