The Truth About Cars » Sale The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 16 Jul 2014 16:33:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Sale Government Reports $9.7 Billion Loss On GM Shares Tue, 29 Oct 2013 17:04:30 +0000 RenCen

With the vast majority of the government’s General Motors shares sold, the U.S. government is reporting a $9.7 billion loss, according to a Congressional report cited by the Detroit News.

With the government’s stake now down to about 7 percent, the report states that

“Because the common stock sales have all taken place below Treasury’s break even price, Treasury has so far booked a loss of $9.7 billion on the sales,” 

The United States Treasury would have to get $147.95 to break even on its GM stake – an unrealistic proposition given that the stock currently trades at $35.80. Once the government unloads the last of its stake (worth about $3.6 billion), the total loss should amount to $10 billion.

]]> 123
Piston Slap: To Love an Italian…Turbo Diesel? Mon, 19 Aug 2013 12:25:57 +0000

Don writes:

I have acquired two VM Motori RA 428 engines that were pulled from new Chrysler minivans in 2009. The van were converted to electric drivetrain in LA. I want to install them in a pickup but because they were never installed in a truck from the factory, it will have to be a custom job.

The wiring harness and ECU, motor mounts, and transmission are the TBD parts. My question is would you do it?

The total cost to install it has to be less than $5K to make it worth it. I paid $1500 for the engine and could resell them in Europe for $3K each and just go buy a diesel truck.

Sajeev answers:

Well! That’s a question ya don’t hear on a regular basis!

Your 5k budget is doable, provided you make items like the engine mounts/chassis wiring integration/fuel system/etc. yourself, handling all such fabrication roadblocks…by yourself.  With your own (free) labor.  Perhaps you can make it happen.  If so, I look forward to seeing your progress. If you cannot, give up now and sell the “Motoris” for that aforementioned profit.

Which leads to the big problem: questions arising from your need to assign a dollar value to this insane project.

Love is necessary when Frankensteining such a machine, any machine, in this manner.  Love for the donor truck.  Or the engine. Or the need to waste your life (sorry) by fabricating stuff when you could probably do something more worthwhile with that effort. Like volunteering your talents to a charitable organization, or just yelling with everyone else during a football game. Either way.

Why is the Piston Slap guy so douchey-harsh?  Because if you are doing this for the money, odds are every would-be buyer’s offer shall be quite the insult. Even worse, they might be right.

Your move, Best and Brightest.


Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

]]> 15
Volkswagen, Fiat Discussing Alfa Romeo Sale Wed, 03 Apr 2013 14:46:25 +0000

VW and Fiat are in talks regarding a possible sale of Alfa Romeo. The sale of Alfa Romeo to Audi would also include the Pomilgiano assembly plant in Naples, which once made Alfas, but currently produces the Fiat Panda. Magnetti Marelli, Fiat’s famed parts maker, may also be included in the deal, as Fiat looks to raise cash so it can buy the remaining shares of Chrysler off the UAW’s Voluntary Employee Benefits Association.

Meanwhile, Audi has already established a presence in Italy with both Lamborghini, Ducati and Italdesign. Adding Alfa Romeo and an Italian plant would only entrench its standing, and the sale of an assembly plant would be mutually beneficial for both VW and Fiat, as Alfa could retain its “Made in Italy” heritage while Fiat looks like a hero by ensuring that the plant and its workers have some security. Of course, nobody knows what VW would even do with Alfa, considering its sales picture is even bleaker than VW’s ailing SEAT brand.

]]> 91
Piston Slap: The Hawaiian Shirt finds Park Avenue Love Thu, 06 Oct 2011 17:17:57 +0000

TTAC commentator horseflesh writes:

Hi Sajeev,

Many moons ago you posted a question of mine on Piston Slap. As requested, today I can share the conclusion of the saga!

I actually wrote almost 1300 words on the story of Grandma’s Park Avenue for my own amusement, and to share with my friends. If you wanted to run all or any of the material on TTAC, you are more than welcome. I pasted it in below after the quoted old email. At the least, I hope you enjoy reading it!

Sajeev Answers:

I did enjoy it.  And quite honestly, I’d be a fool to add any extra commentary to a perfect story. So here it is:

horseflesh writes:

In October of 2010, I wrote to TTAC with a simple question: what’s the easiest way for a private party to sell a car for a good price? Today, I can present the delayed but triumphant conclusion to the story of Grandma’s 2005 Park Avenue—white with beige interior, super low miles, and only driven to the cardiologist on Mondays.

I got a lot of great advice from TTAC’s readers, with many votes going to AutoTrader and Craigslist. Still, I let the great white whale languish in my driveway for ten months. As I have always said, “procrastination pays off now.

Plus, I have to admit that I enjoyed the guilty pleasure of poling the Detroit barge down Washington State’s freeways from time to time. The hull also featured a cavernous, 4-body trunk that easily engulfed my model airplanes and other man-toys. Sure, Grandma’s Park Avenue couldn’t have felt any more numb if it was fuel injected with lidocaine, it had brakes like a freight train, it wallowed through turns like a hippo with vertigo, and it delivered an alarming jolt of torque steer when you stepped on the gas… but I was still enjoying it!

From mile 14888 to 17780, me ‘n’ Grandma’s Park Avenue had some good times on the high seas.

For one, I’ll never forget the time that I gave a German particle physicist a ride. My highly educated guest–who was a friend of my regular carpool companion, also a German–was sinking into the back seat’s leatherette upholstery when the Dynaride Suspension kicked in. The wheezing MmmrrrRRRRrRRRrrrrRRRR sound of the ride-leveling technology was no lullaby to his Teutonic senses, and he began to look alarmed. Do BMWs have ride-leveling? If so, it probably sounds like an ocean breeze, not a garbage disposal.

“Don’t worry, mein Herr,” I said. MmmRRRRrrr… “The vehicle is just leveling the passenger cabin.” MmmRRRRrrr… “That sound is perfectly normal.” MmmRRRRrrr… “The Dynaride system is capable of accommodating the fattest Americans,” I proudly added as the mechanism wheezed to a stop.

Silence filled the perfectly leveled cabin. “This isn’t my usual car,” I continued. “I only drive it once in a while. It’s really a car for older folks… people old enough to still be upset about the war.” Thankfully, the other German in my Buick managed to turn the conversation to high-energy physics, salvaging what could have been an awkward moment.

The Dynaride’s anemic groaning accompanied every engine start, but Grandma’s Park Avenue had another feature that was less reliable. I refer to the automatic headlight system, ambitiously named the “Twilight Sentinel.” Unfortunately, my Twilight Sentinel was apparently drunk most of the time, putting a more sinister figure on duty… the Twilight Assassin.

The Twilight Assassin was a cunning and ruthless foe, with the patience of the grave. He waited for night to fall… switched on the headlights, as if all was well… and then, when you least expected it, he turned them off. In the event of an attack, standard procedure was for all passengers to put their hands up and scream “TWILIGHT ASSASSIN!” until I yanked the manual headlight knob to banish the night once again. Good times!

I could have gone on dueling with the Twilight Assassin for many more months, but selling Grandma’s Park Avenue was the smart thing to do, and I resolved to get it done while the car was still in excellent condition. And in the end, I didn’t have to deal with AutoTrader or Craigslist at all, because I found the absolute best way to sell a car:

1. Buy a new BBQ
2. Invite a friend over for BBQ. Also, make sure he is an experienced used car lot sales manager.

It was one of this year’s three nice Seattle summer days when our friend Ron came over to the house to eat meat cooked over fire. Ron saw the Buick and we got to talking about my plans for it. “Let me see what I can do for you,” Ron said. “You’ll have a hell of a time selling a car like that yourself, because only Grandma wants that car and she isn’t online. So, what are the adds?” he asks.


“Add-ons. Options,” he says. I tell him the car is actually pretty light on adds, but describe the fun and excitement of the Twilight Assassin.

Ron checked out the car and quickly got in touch with a few used car dealers. “First, we’ll call Bob,” said Ron. “Let’s see what the light money is… Yeah, hi Bob, this is Ron from so-and-so of Seattle. Hey, I’m standing in front of this 2005 Park Av… White with beige guts, in the wrapper… The owners are friends of mine, an active young couple. Grandma left it to them, but they just don’t need a car like this and I wanted to help them out with an easy deal, and get them all the money in the world for this thing… Clear title, yeah. OK, I’ll text you the VIN.”

Bob’s offer was indeed the light money, but after five minutes and a few similar phone calls Ron has me another offer for $10,500, and a backup offer of $10,000. All I have to do is wash Grandma’s Park Avenue and drive it to a dealership where Keith, the used car manager will be waiting for it.

I’m happy with the price, but also curious about the business. “How much will Keith resell the car for?” I asked Ron.

“He’ll probably sell it for $14,000-16,000,” Ron answered. “If he has the right buyer, someone who really wants the car, it’s win-win-win!”

A few days later, I drove Grandma’s Park Avenue to the dealer to meet Keith. By chance, I parked next to a salesman with an older couple who were eyeballing some other bland sedan. Before I even stepped out of Grandma’s Park Avenue, the 60-something gentleman shopper in a Hawaiian shirt excitedly said, “is that car for sale?”

“Yes,” I said as I exited, “but I’m actually here to sell it to the dealer.”

“Wow, honey, look,” says Hawaiian Shirt, motioning to his wife. “It’s not even an Ultra, so it’ll run on regular gas!”

A moment later, my contact Keith was standing by my side. We introduced ourselves, and Keith gestured towards Hawaiian Shirt and said, “Can they take a look at it?”

“Sure,” I said, and gave the other salesman the key as I went inside with Keith to do paperwork. Fifteen minutes later, my business with the dealer was done. I had a big check and no more Buick.

While I was waiting for my ride, I watched Grandma’s Park Avenue pull in from a test drive. Hawaiian Shirt, his wife, and their salesman spent a long time walking around the car and talking. I took that as a good sign. I hope the dealership got $14,000-$16,000, and I hope Hawaiian Shirt and his wife got a car they love. Despite all my jokes about boats and occasional attacks from the Twilight Assassin, Grandma’s Park Avenue was a pretty good car.

That afternoon I called my grandma to tell her that I had sold her Park Avenue, and to thank her again for giving it to me when she stopped driving. I made sure to tell her that I thought the new owners were really going to love it. Grandma was happy to hear that. But I’ve never told her that I gave a couple of Germans a ride in her Park Avenue… After all, she might still be upset about the war.

]]> 14
Francisco Franco Is Still Dead, Saab Still Breathing Tue, 22 Dec 2009 00:48:49 +0000 Ho ho ho (

Despite the flood of clumsy eulogies and “don’t worry about the Saab dealer, he owns a Porsche shop” stories making their way into the local media (usually a good sign of a sure thing), Saab may still have some kind of chance at survival (in some form). According to Spyker spokesfolks [via AFP],

Spyker has been in contact with GM today and continues to develop its proposal for the purchase of Saab. Spyker has extended the validity of its proposal therefore until further notice

Merbanco claims to have a new offer as well, as reports that they are working with a Swedish consortium that “does not wish to be identified unless they are successful in the bidding.” GM has not issued a statement about Saab today, perhaps because the release writers were too busy with the announcements of a new CFO and the Chevy Equinox’s victory in an “Urban Truck Of The Year” competition.

In any case, the Swedish government is preparing for the worst, announcing a $74m local job-creation fund for Trollhåtten. Which seems like a good indication that the Swedish government will not underwrite a far more costly renewal. Not that the glaringly obvious is letting Saab’s spokesfolks from doing their best Baghdad Bob impression. “We can still hope as to what the conclusion will be,” they tell AFP. Maybe it’s time to stop hoping.

]]> 15
Spyker Stock Soars On Saab Speculation Mon, 21 Dec 2009 16:04:11 +0000 Slouching to the grave?

Shares in the Dutch boutique automaker Spyker soared 23 percent today, reports Reuters, as the firm’s last-ditch bid for Saab goes down to the wire. Spyker, which sold only 43 cars last year and had a market capitalization of only €26.6m as of last Friday, will hear back from GM on its Saab bid by 5pm today. According to Reuters, Spyker has restructured its ownership structure in order to alleviate GM’s concerns about its backing from allegedly mobbed-up Russian financier Alexander Antonov. GM had previously canceled its Opel sale in part because of concerns about its latest technology landing in the hands of Russian investors. Furthermore, Spyker says it that its new offer eliminates the need for a European Investment Bank (EIB) loan approval prior to year end. “We’re very confident we have put forward a proposal that can convince GM in time,” says Spyker CEO Victor Muller. From a more sober vantage point, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt warns “we should be careful about fueling new hopes in a situation where the people in Trollhattan, and at Saab and their subcontractors are thrown between hope and despair.”

]]> 8
Volvo Unions Call For Geely Investigation Fri, 11 Dec 2009 15:44:23 +0000 Who's holding the holding company?

Corresponding with news that Ford and Geely are close to closing the Volvo deal, Volvo’s unions have expressed skepticism towards Geely, even going so far as to ask that the company be investigated. An ownership company based in tax havens, a history of trademark theft, and minimal transparancy have all worried unions within Volvo. Swedish Engineers at Volvo and the Metalworkers have expressed worries over the lack of information regarding Volvo’s future within Geely. “There’s a great information vacuum” says Magnus Sundemo of the Engineers. “We know very little about what the consequences will be if or when Geely takes over Volvo – We need to have more information, and we need reasonable time to examine the information” he continues.

There are several questions around Geely according to the union, one being the company structure. The company Ford has chosen as the preferred bidder, and possibly buyers of Volvo, is Zhejiang Geely Holding Group – a privately held Chinese Company, which in turn owns Proper Glory Holding (what a name!) registered in Virgin Islands (they must have some humor at Geely…). Proper Glory owns 51% of Geely Automotive Holdings Ltd, the car manufacturers. Geely Automotive is listed at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, and has its HQ in the Cayman Islands. A further eight subsidiaries are registered in Cayman Islands, and seven more in The Virgin Islands.
“This in not something that enhances the image of a ‘nice’ company, and the question is where Volvo is positioned in this structure. An unlisted company in Cayman Islands needs no tranparancy, and no accountability. That worries” says Magnus Sundemo, who also complains about the lack of good information around the financing of the deal.

In a meeting between Volvos unions and Geely management last week, the unions demanded there’d be hired a special employee-consultant to examine the deal. He should be granted 200,000 euros and 5-6 weeks to be able to examine the deal properly. Volvo management granted 50.000 euros and 2-3 weeks.

Volvo’s Olle Axelson comments: “Volvo and Ford have already answered all questions asked. These are just repeated questions.” John Fleming, CO at Volvo says he understands Volvo employees’ concerns, but assures them that Ford has been a good parent to Volvo, and is certain that Geely will be too. “Otherwise, we wouldn’t have chosen them. – But nothing has been decided yet.”

]]> 16