Posts By: Ronnie Schreiber

By on December 3, 2015

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I wouldn’t be surprised if every morning in Tokyo executives at Takata hope that more revelations come out concerning Volkswagen’s diesel emissions cheating scandal so as to push any revelations about their own exploding airbag scandal down the page.

Last week, Honda accused Takata of “misrepresented and manipulated test data” in explaining why they decided to stop using Takata as a supplier.

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal, based on internal documents discovered as a result of lawsuits, reported that Takata engineers in the United States had expressed reservations about fudged test results going to Honda starting in 2000. (Read More…)

By on December 1, 2015

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On Nov. 29, 1995, having lost Congress to the Republicans in the 1994 midterm elections, President Bill Clinton reluctantly signed a transportation bill that repealed the National Maximum Speed Limit of 55 miles per hour. The NMSL was made law in 1973, during the Nixon administration, in response to the oil embargo and energy crisis that followed in the wake of the Yom Kippur War. While it didn’t precisely mandate a national 55 mph limit, the law allowed the federal government to withhold highway funds from states that didn’t lower expressway speed limits to 55, the so-called “double nickel.”

It just so happened that the next day was the 30th anniversary of the publication of Ralph Nader’s highly influential book about car safety, “Unsafe At Any Speed.” (Read More…)

By on December 1, 2015

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In Part One, we saw how Ab Jenkins started his speed record career in a Studebaker, then moving to Pierce-Arrow. His greatest success, though, would be at the wheel of a Duesenberg.

Because its name is German, a lot of people are mistaken in thinking that Duesenbergs — as other magnificent classic-era cars like Hispano-Suizas — came from the European continent. Fred and Augie Duesenberg though, were from the heartland of America, based in Indiana, with a factory in Indianapolis. While the name Duesenberg is most often associated with the great Model J, before E.L. Cord bought their company and tasked the brothers with building the best automobile in the world, Duesenberg made its name in racing. In fact, nearly half of all competitors in the 1931 Indy 500 qualified with either a Duesenberg chassis or engine — or both. (Read More…)

By on November 30, 2015

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GMC just announced an Ultimate trim level for the Sierra pickup truck. That follows Ford’s success with Platinum-level F-150s that can cost up to $80,000. It seems that nowadays you can’t charge too much money for an American pickup or make it so luxurious that it won’t find an eager market.

It’s tempting to say that wasn’t the case in the early Noughts as a means to explain the failure of the Lincoln Blackwood. In production for barely a year, the Blackwood was the automotive equivalent of a TV sitcom getting cancelled after just the first episode. Ford hoped to sell 10,000 Blackwoods a year, but managed to move only 3,356 for its entire production run. (Read More…)

By on November 27, 2015

Over the years, so many alternate ways of cooking a holiday turkey have proliferated that some now refuse to eat a conventionally roasted bird. A British car enthusiast, who goes by the YouTube handle of Shmee150, decided to broil his Christmas turkey using the flames that shoot from the exhaust pipes of a Lamborghini Aventador at full, ahem, boil.

Silly, perhaps, but not entirely stupid.  Using the waste heat from a car engine to cook food likely goes back to the early days of the automobile age. A Google search shows numerous guides and tips on how to cook under the hood. Though my Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook does not have a miles per pound table in their cooking time charts, there’s a dedicated car cooking cookbook, “Manifold Destiny: The One! The Only! Guide to Cooking on Your Car Engine!,” that’s been in print for decades, with multiple editions. (Read More…)

By on November 24, 2015

 

Left to right: Augie Duesenberg, Ab Jenkins (seated in Mormon Meteor), Harvey Firestone, Unknown

Left to right: Augie Duesenberg, Ab Jenkins (seated in Mormon Meteor), Harvey Firestone, Unknown

Does the name Ab Jenkins mean anything to you? He was once famous as the fastest man on land. What about the name Bonneville? If you’re a car enthusiast, you might associate it with Pontiac, as Bonneville was the nameplate of the now-deceased brand’s flagship sedan. Alternatively, you might think of the Bonneville Salt Flats, where many land-speed records have been set.

As a matter of fact, if you know the name Bonneville in either of those cases, it’s likely due to the efforts of Ab Jenkins, with supporting roles played by Augie Duesenberg and Herb Newport. (Read More…)

By on November 21, 2015

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A week before Thanksgiving, the United Auto Workers and all of the domestic automakers know they will enter the holiday season without having to worry about a strike.

According to the Detroit News, the UAW announced late Friday that their members at Ford approved a proposed contract by a narrow 51.4-percent margin.

That news followed closely the union’s announcement that its International Executive Board considered ratified its contract with General Motors. It will go into effect starting next week. That deal had been delayed because, although the overall vote was in favor of the contract, almost 60 percent of skilled trade members of the UAW at GM voted against it. (Read More…)

By on November 19, 2015

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From the late 1940s into the 1960s, Chrysler had most of its high profile concept and show cars fabricated by Ghia in Italy. Chrysler liked how the Italians did high quality work at prices far below what union labor would have cost them in Detroit, and Ghia liked the work and the revenue as Italy was rebuilding after World War II.

The relationship was mutually beneficial in more ways than just financial. Styling and technical ideas flowed in both directions between Highland Park and Turin. Giovanni Savonuzzi scaled down Chrysler design chief Virgil Exner Sr.’s Chrysler D’Elegance concept into Volkswagen’s Karmann Ghia. Exner, for his part, was perfectly happy to put Chrysler corporation nameplates on concepts that originated at Ghia. (Read More…)

By on November 16, 2015

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On Friday, Barclays Plc announced it estimates the near-term costs of Volkswagen’s seemingly ever expanding emissions scandal will be about $27 billion USD (25 billion Euros).

Volkswagen’s automotive group had $29.6 billion in net liquidity at the the end of the third fiscal quarter of this year. About $10.8 billion is allocated to protect the company’s credit ratings. That leaves about $19 billion in cash for the company to work with.

There are fines that will be paid in a number of countries, along with goodwill gestures to owners of affected VW vehicles and incentives needed to sell cars from a tainted brand. Then there will the cost of litigation and any judgments or settlements that come out of those lawsuits.

About the same time as Barclays’ announcement, Automotive News and Bloomberg reported Volkswagen AG will be meeting in Wolfsburg this week with representatives of about a dozen banks to secure as much as $21.5 billion in loans by the end of this year. Those meetings aim to shore up the company’s financing and show the credit markets that VW has enough liquid assets to cover emissions-related costs. (Read More…)

By on November 11, 2015

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I guess I cover the reverse trike beat here at TTAC.

It started with a post about a Chinese death trap three-wheeler I’d seen advertised. In the comments to that post, one of our readers suggested looking into the Elio project. We’ve done that a few times since then, including an exclusive review of one of their prototypes. Because of our coverage of Elio Motors, a group of Elio deposit holders who have become disenchanted by continued production delays asked us to consider their charges. While it’s true that I’m in what may be a minority of automotive writers that don’t think Elio is a scam, I’m not naive. There are ample reasons for skepticism and we take the word truth in our title seriously, so Mark Stevenson and I looked into the critics’ complaints and we both decided they were adding nothing new to issues raised by Elio’s critics before.

However, I do keep tabs on their Facebook group, which is how I found out about Arcimoto, a Eugene, Oregon company that hopes to put their highway capable electric reverse trike in production by the end of next year with a starting price of $11,900. (Read More…)

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