Posts By: Ronnie Schreiber

By on March 9, 2016

Tom Mix Duesenberg front 3/4 right, Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

The high-dollar-custom Ridler Award at the Detroit Autorama gets a lot of worthy attention, but real salt of the earth Detroit car culture can be found in Cobo Hall’s basement, The promoters bill the area as Autorama Extreme, and I always make it a point to check out the cars and people downstairs. There’s usually something worthwhile down there like “the first Mustang,” a bassackwards, mid-engine Ford F-1 pickup, or even an Allison V12-powered ’39 Chevy.

This year, walking past the bandstand where a local rockabilly band was doing a Jerry Lee Lewis song, I spotted something around a corner and immediately recognized it as a Duesenberg I’d written about before here at TTAC. It’s a distinctive car. For aesthetic reasons, I doubt anyone would make a replica. So even before I got near enough to see the longhorns up front and the tailfin that looks more like a hunchback’s deformity in back, I knew it was the so-called Tom Mix Duesenberg — a real Doozy in more ways than one.

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By on March 1, 2016

eliostock2

(Caveat: I know nothing at all about stocks, bonds or other financial instruments.)

After automotive startup Elio Motors raised approximately $17 million dollars in a Reg-A+ stock offering the company crowdsourced from small investors via StartEngine, it said its shares would be listed on the OTCQX exchange to provide those investors with liquidity.

It’s probably too early to call Elio another Tesla (whose own market capitalization probably exceeds its actual value), and I don’t know how many of those investors are going to sell their stock so soon. But, if they did, they would have more than doubled their money in less than two weeks as of Monday’s close. (Read More…)

By on February 26, 2016

Round Door Rolls, 1925 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Jonckheere Aerodynamic Coupe front 3/4, Petersen Automotive Museum, Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

I’ve tangentially touched on the topic of this post, the famous art deco “Round Door Rolls-Royce”, before when discussing Audi advertising and some Detroit history. On my recent trip to Los Angeles to drive a McLaren 675LT (you think Jack Baruth is the only TTAC staffer who can swing the loan of a supercar?), I took the opportunity to visit the newly renovated Petersen Automotive Museum and the unusually bodied Rolls happened to be on display right where you walk into the building.

It’s a striking looking car, to say the least, and a multiple show winner undoubtedly worthy of historical note. Almost more interesting than the car, though, is the way its tale is presented and what that teaches us about the way ideas get entrenched, how a single facet of a story can obscure its context. (Read More…)

By on February 22, 2016

1925 Bugatti Type 22 Brescia Roadster Lake Maggiore Mullin Museum front 3/4 beauty shot flash © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

Every car has a story. In the case of this 1925 Bugatti Type 22 Brescia Roadster, it has two. Both are good stories. One, however, is the stuff of legend, and the other closer to historical truth. (Read More…)

By on February 19, 2016

pothole

America’s infrastructure is decaying. Add that to the fact that we seem to prefer to fix roads rather than build them to last in the first place, and the result is that U.S. drivers are likely going to come across a pothole or two in their typical travels. The new Ford Fusion will feature a pothole mitigation system that will make that path a little smoother, allowing the car to literally skip over the road hazards.

It’s not just a matter of comfort; potholes cause a lot of damage. Per the Detroit News, the American Automobile Association released a study on Wednesday that said that damage to vehicles caused by potholes costs American drivers about $3 billion every year, and the average repair cost is about $300. TRIP says that potholes cause urban drivers each over $500 in damage on average each year. (Read More…)

By on February 17, 2016

Kia Niro Band

Capitalizing on the buzz surrounding its Super Bowl ad, “Walken Closet” with Christopher Walken, Kia showed hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the Optima to assembled members of the media.

Some automakers hire live musicians to perform during auto show press conferences, including some pretty big names. To burnish its credentials as a youth-oriented brand, Kia had a decent rock band made of teenage students studying at the School of Rock.

(Maybe it says something about today’s music, but the oldest kid in the band was 18 and every song the band played was a hit before he was born. T-Rex’s “Bang A Gong” was probably released before some of their grandparents had met. I think the most recent song was Lenny Kravitz’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way?”, which came out in 1993.)

A few minutes later, I realized that marketers for the Korean automaker missed a great opportunity to further hype its midsize sedan.
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By on February 11, 2016

Ford SUV Leader

Mark LaNeve, Ford Motor Company vice president of Marketing, Sales and Service, told attendees of a media breakfast at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show that his company will be introducing four completely new SUVs to its global portfolio.

The new SUVs will compete in market segments where the automaker currently has no product.

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By on February 8, 2016

hateful-eight-guitar-smash3

The guitar collecting world is abuzz over the destruction of a near priceless, 145-year-old guitar made by the C.F. Martin company on loan from the Martin Guitar Museum for the production of Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight.”

Kurt Russell took the guitar out of Jennifer Jason Leigh’s hands and smashed it thinking it was a prop replica and not the original. Leigh’s shocked reaction was genuine as she knew she was playing the real artifact. Director Tarantino was reported to be pleased with the results; the C.F. Martin company less so.

Aren’t you glad the producers of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “Miami Vice” destroyed fake Ferraris? My guess is that not very many guitar aficionados will pay to see Tarantino’s latest oeuvre.

Mayhem and destruction (not all of it real) after the jump.

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By on February 2, 2016

You probably don’t know much about Vigilant Systems, but the company likely knows more about you than you know about them. That because Vigilant Systems is in the business of knowing. The company has so far collected about 2.8 billion license plate photos with its network of cameras, and every month it adds another 70-80 million photos, including a timestamp of the photo and geographic location of the plate, to Vigilant Solutions’ permanent storage. They sell that data to police departments and, depending on the jurisdiction, even some private sector institutions, such as insurance companies investigating fraud.

Vigilant Solutions’ deals with government agencies have raised concerns about civil liberties, freedom of movement, privacy and mass surveillance. As Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic describes Vigilant Solutions, “your diminished privacy is their product.” (Read More…)

By on January 28, 2016

f3150_r

I work with logos in my day job and it’s always nice to see a clever logo design. Maybe I’m strange but things like the negative-space arrow in the FedEx brand excite me.

That’s why I’m a bit perplexed about the current badge Ford uses on its F-150 pickup trucks.

(Read More…)

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