Andy Granatelli died this past Sunday at the age of 90. He was a man worthy of note in the world of cars and the world of business. His sponsorships via the STP oil additive company changed the way automotive product companies used motorsports and vice versa. A larger than life personality, and a genuine character, Granatelli’s two Indy 500 wins as an owner were in many ways overshadowed by the near misses at Indy of his revolutionary turbine powered racers. A man of considerable accomplishments in racing and in business, no doubt. It seems to me, though, that his most enduring influence on the automotive world (and the basis of some of the longest enduring automotive speed records) was his popularizing of forced induction, specifically superchargers. (Read More…)
Posts By: Ronnie Schreiber
One of the things I’ve discovered when writing about automotive history, it first occurred to me when I was researching street names in and around Detroit, is that we name things after people to memorialize them and, ironically, in time the memorial becomes all that we know about them. Not many people who drive on James Couzens Hwy in Detroit every day know that he was a U.S. senator and the mayor of Detroit before then, but hardly anyone at all knows that he went into politics after a fairly successful career as the business manager of a local Detroit family owned firm, a concern known as the Ford Motor Company. When Mary Barra was named to be the chief executive officer of General Motors, the first woman to run a large automaker, I was reminded of another woman who ran a significant automotive company, in the 1930s, when few women ran any businesses, let alone one in the automotive field, Helen DeRoy. Though DeRoy’s name is possibly familiar to you, her pioneering roles in women’s history and automotive history aren’t as well known as her name.
Okay, so it’s not The Christmas Story, but while trying to track down a since deleted summary of an upcoming Society of Automotive Engineers paper that leaked details of the 8 speed automatic transaxle that the 2015 Corvette will offer, I came across another SAE paper concerning the Corvette, this one published in 1961, titled The Corvette Story. In 1961, just 8 years after the first Corvettes went on sale, fiberglass bodied cars were still a new thing. Chevrolet engineer P.J. Passon’s paper for the SAE goes over the processes involved in making the Corvette bodies and then how the cars are assembled. He discusses the 1961 Corvette’s engineering features and explains why GM went with fiberglass instead of steel and also why mass-market Chevrolet was making and selling a sports car with limited market appeal. I’m sure that anyone with an interest in Corvettes and Corvette history will find it worthwhile, though it’s also a nice snapshot of advanced materials manufacturing circa 1961.
The Corvette Story
Chevrolet Engineering Center
Chevrolet Motor Division
BUILDING THE CORVETTE
In its brief life span of eight years, the Corvette has undergone rapid character development. It has built up a clientele all its own – demanding, but enthusiastic. Their attitude is contagious, and progress has come fast. I do not intend to cover the history of the Corvette this morning, except to say that its roadability has increased since 1953 in roughly the same proportion as its power-to-weight ratio or approximately two-to-one. (Read More…)
The hagiographic article by Bloomberg/Business Week on outgoing General Motors CEO Dan Akerson did exactly what Selim Bingol and the other PR honchos in the RenCen towers wanted it to do. With other news agencies and blogs amplifying the puffery and pulling quotes, the article got GM and Akerson a lot of good press. One of the quotes that got pulled the most was Akerson’s reference to a “moon shot” project giving GM’s next generation extended range electric vehicle a 200 mile range on battery power, based on breakthroughs in battery technology. It may be more of a moon shot than Akerson let on, since GM has cancelled its contract with that battery’s likely supplier, accusing it of “material misrepresentation”. (Read More…)
Last week we ran a post of mine about the Jam Handy Organization, a motion picture studio located in the Detroit area that created many of General Motors’ promotional films for decades. A couple of the readers liked my idea of posting some more of those vintage films as a recurring feature here on TTAC. Jam Handy, though, wasn’t the only person who recognized the potential of using motion pictures to promote the sale of automobiles.
WKYC-TV reports that when Norman Gurley was pulled over for allegedly speeding in Lorain County, Ohio on Tuesday, State Highway Patrol officers arrested him for having a hidden compartment on his car, charged with a felony despite the fact that he was not violating drug, weapon or any other contraband laws. Gurley thus became the first person charged under Ohio’s relatively new “hidden compartment” law intended, supposedly, to stop drug smuggling. The law states: “No person shall knowingly operate, possess, or use a vehicle with a hidden compartment with knowledge that the hidden compartment is used or intended to be used to facilitate the unlawful concealment or transportation of a controlled substance.” That may create a problem if you drive a Dodge Dart in Ohio. (Read More…)
In recent months I’ve driven a couple of cars that were considered sporting enough by their manufacturers that the letter S was part of the package. One was the Audi A7 TDI with a sport equipment group and a S Line badge on the fender. The other was a Chrysler 300S AWD and it, too, had a badge with the sibilant letter between R and T, in its case on the trunk lid.
Micheal Lamm has worn a lot of hats in the automotive media world, including stints as editor and publisher at a number of respected publications (besides siring the man who gave the world the 24 Hrs of LeMons series). In addition to wearing a lot of hats, Mike has also owned a lot of cars including about 80 collectible and special interest automobiles over the past 62 years. Most of them he loved, others he grew to hate.
If horsepower is the charismatic star running back, torque is the less heralded offensive lineman. Horsepower gets most of the attention while torque goes about doing the grunt work. Heck, most people don’t even know whether it’s measured in foot-pounds or pound feet. It does, however, get the grunt work done. You wouldn’t imagine a […]
You may never have heard of Henry Jamison “Jam” Handy, but almost a century before TV producer Matthew Weiner conjured up the fictional persona of ad man Don Draper, Jam Handy was inventing and shaping the way Americans bought and sold consumer goods, particularly cars. Along the way, he also shaped the way we learn about the world and how we see ourselves in it.
Gordon Buehrig’s design of the Cord 810/812 was revolutionary for its day. One innovation was that it lacked running boards, something automobiles had featured almost since the dawn of the motoring age. I’m guessing that the origin of running boards has to do with the fact that in the early days car bodies were typically mounted right on top exposed frame rails, putting the body up high, and the running boards were used as step to get up into the interior. From a design standpoint, they also visually connected the front and rear fenders, creating one flowing line. What was stylish in 1913, though, wasn’t necessarily au courant in the mid 1930s. Also automotive design started getting more formally established in the 1930s, with GM and Ford both having in-house design staffs by the end of that decade. Based on the then young science of aerodynamics and the related streamlined aesthetic, new shapes started appearing on cars. (Read More…)
There will be a formal announcement by Dan Akerson later this morning, but now that the U.S. government has divested all of its bailout related shares in General Motors, Detroit radio stations are reporting that Dan Akerson will be stepping down as Chief Executive Officer of GM and be replaced by Mary Barra. Barra, who has been seen as Akerson’s possible replacement since she took over responsibility for global product development, will be the first woman to run a major American automobile company. More information later, after the Akerson press conference.
Last week we ran a post of mine about “Detroit Industry”, the murals that Diego Rivera painted for Edsel Ford in the main court of the Detroit Institute of Arts. More accurately, the post was about how a couple of artists, the Perre twins, commissioned to paint a mural in a new Detroit building, a commission inspired by Rivera’s work, claimed to know much about the artist and Detroit, but haven’t ever bothered to actually see Rivera’s Detroit masterpiece with their own eyes. That post was inspired by an article at the Detroit News by Rob Stanczak, from whence artist David Perre’s quote, “We have not seen it in person” jumped out at me. In our post, I linked to Rob Stanczak‘s article and, because I couldn’t find any photos of the Perres’ new mural that weren’t rights reserved, I used the DetNews’ video accompanying Rob Stanczak‘s article to illustrate my own. While not a formal citation per Modern Language Association guidelines, the link and DetNews video still gave our readers a couple of ways that they could access Rob Stanczak‘s work.
When I see those December car commercials with big red ribbons tied onto cars’ roofs, I’m skeptical that anyone would spend that much money on a Christmas present. However, looking over just how quickly the special edition luxury cars that retailer Neiman-Marcus has put in their Christmas Book for the last 17 years have usually sold out, often in a matter of minutes, it’s clear that some well-heeled folks do indeed enjoy buying cars as gifts for others or for themselves. Last year’s Neiman Marcus Christmas car was the 2013 McLaren MP4-12C Spider and NM’s allotment of a dozen McLarens sold out in less than two hours. This year the Texas based retailer is selling 10 special edition 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish Volantes at $344,500 each. It appears that Saks Fifth Avenue has been looking over those same sales figures and has decided to get into the Christmas car market with a limited run of 100 2014 Cadillac ELR Saks Fifth Avenue Special Editions priced at $89,500. Available exclusively through the Saks Holiday Catalog, the Saks edition of Cadillac’s extended range EV based on the Chevy Volt costs about the MSRP of a new Mitsubishi Mirage more than a standard ’14 ELR, ~$13,500. (Read More…)
First off, I want to apologize to our readers for not getting these photos posted in a more timely manner. T’is the season and the Mustang reveal was not the only press event in Detroit today. That being said, the segment of the four continent six city reveal that took place in Dearborn was part new product reveal, part car show and part pep rally and a good time was had by all. In addition to the all new 2015 Mustang up on stage, the lobby of Ford’s conference center was filled with a number of significant customer owned historical Mustangs. Mark Fields, Ford’s COO, did the reveal in Dearborn, aided by soon-to-retire VP of styling J. Mays, and in general the crowd of Ford employees (the allotted tickets were grabbed up in 4 minutes I was told), executives, dealers, members of the media and a number of Mustang club members who drove in for the event had a positive reaction to the new ‘Stang.
I was hoping to get some photos of the new Mustang’s new independent rear suspension, but the car up on stage was a pushmobile. The few actual running prototypes were allotted to other cities in the multi-location event and the Mustang’s hometown got the “leftovers” as one member of the Mustang team told me.
Full gallery after the jump. (Read More…)