Last year in a post about Ypsilanti’s Orphan Car Show I had noticed that some of the 1960s vintage Citroens still had access holes so that, if needed, the cars could be started with a hand crank. I asked our readers what the last model car was sold with a hand crank and the immediate answer was “Lada”. As if to prove a point, at this year’s OCS, parked just outside the show entrance was a fairly late model Lada Niva in great shape, with a hand crank inserted through holes in the bumper and front fascia. There is a Niva that is in the show just about every year but that one’s about in the condition you’d expect from an Eastern Bloc 4X4 based on Fiat mechanicals subsequently exposed to Canadian winters and North American road salt. Except for the CHMSL that appeared to have come loose from its moorings, the blue Niva looks like it could almost be part of a Lada CPO program (to our Russian readers, does Lada have a CPO program in their home market). (Read More…)
Posts By: Ronnie Schreiber
Over at Bloomberg View, Megan McArdle, in a post titled “Employees Are Not Your Customers” happens to use one of the more enduring myths of automotive history to prove her point. That myth is that Henry Ford started paying his famous $5 a day wage in 1914 so his employees could afford to buy Model Ts. She was using the story as an example to make a specific point so Ms. McArdle doesn’t tell her readers the real reason why Henry started paying a more livable wage. That gives us an excuse to learn some history. (Read More…)
Sorry for missing an important automotive anniversary, but ’tis the season for those of the Mosaic persuasion. On October 1, 1908, at least according to some sources*, the first production Model T was assembled at the Ford Piquette Avenue factory, Henry Ford’s second plant for his third, finally successful, automobile company. There are lots of myths about Henry Ford. Some of them are actually true, but many are the stuff of legend. For example, people think that the Model T made Henry Ford a wealthy man. Henry was a very wealthy man before he started making the Model T. He was one of the leading automobile producers in the world and he was the leading automaker in Detroit. Ford Motor Company was a success almost from the outset and when Henry hit on the idea of a simple, inexpensive car that folks who weren’t affluent could afford with the Model N and then the Model S, the Model T’s immediate precursors, he was selling thousands of cars a year. (Read More…)
It’s easy to think that certified pre-owned, CPO, programs that sell used cars that meet manufacturers’ standards for quality, are a fairly modern development in the car biz, but car companies have been helping their dealers sell ‘approved’ used cars for generations. Chevrolet had its “OK” used car program. Ironically, that branding apparently had its origins in the marketing of 1918 era American Motors (unrelated to the company of the same name formed by the merger of Hudson and Nash), which Louis Chevrolet helped found after he parted ways with Billy Durant and the Chevrolet company. Louis Chevrolet would hand sign the dashboard of each American Six with the rhyming “O.K. Chevrolet”. (Read More…)
This past weekend, the big annual Orphan Car Show in Ypsilanti was augmented by the grand opening of the National Hudson Motor Car Museum, also in Ypsilanti. While I’m usually excited about the opening of new car museums, though the region is gaining what appears to be a fine, professionally run museum, the development means that you can no longer see a unique display of automotive history. (Read More…)
One of the recurring comments that enthusiasts make when the issue of making Lincoln into a success comes up is why didn’t they ever put the trio of concept cars they introduced about ten years ago, the Mark 9 and Mark X coupes of 2001 and 2004 and the Continental flagship sedan concept of 2002 (see here and here). All three cars were meant to evoke styling cues from successful Lincolns of the past, particularly the 1961 Continental and the personal luxury Marks of the late 1960s and early 1970s. All three could have been made, but never made it to production, much to the chagrin of a lot of folks cheering for Lincoln to turn things around. Though they never made it to production you’ll now be able to buy a couple of them, including the stunning ’02 Continental concept. (Read More…)
With news that Lotus won’t be selling any 2015 model year cars in the United States, minuscule sales in their home market of the UK, and announcement of the impending layoff of about a quarter of the firm’s global workforce, many observers think that the company Colin Chapman founded 62 years ago is circling the drain. While there are certainly dark clouds in Lotus’ financial picture, having booked about $447 million in loses over the previous two fiscal years, there is some silver lining some of those clouds. Worldwide Lotus car sales are up dramatically. (Read More…)
Based on a market research study commissioned by Ford Motor Company rumors are circulating that FoMoCo will change the branding for its high performance vehicles from SVT (for Special Vehicle Team) to 999, the name of Henry Ford’s second race car, popularized by barnstorming driver Barney Oldfield. Marketers have seized on “authenticity” as a lever by which they can move consumers and I suspect that reaching back over a century for a brand name may have something to do with that. As someone who likes history I can’t complain about Ford looking into reusing a historic name, but while its true that the name 999 has been associated with Ford racing since before the establishment of the Ford Motor Company, the name SVT means something to today’s car enthusiasts and for most of them 999 is just the number before 1,000. Today’s performance consumers are more likely to recognize the name Ken Block than Barney Oldfield.
Volvo hasn’t been particularly discreet about the next XC90. Plenty of spy photos have been taken of the car undergoing winter testing in Scandinavia and hot weather testing out in the American southwest, though I don’t believe that this exact combination of swirly camo wrap and plastic cladding has been seen before. From the Arizona plates on the car it was likely used for desert testing as well. The Volvo engineers testing the mule for radio frequency interference weren’t going out of their way to hide what they were doing either. (Read More…)
In general, I think the folks around the Motor City drive pretty well. We have our idiosyncrasies, what others might call poor lane discipline we call going for the open spot, but for the most part I don’t feel like I’m driving among maniacs. Something that I noticed while shooting a video to show our readers the route I take when evaluating a review car for ride and handling is making me question that assessment.