Posts By: Ronnie Schreiber

By on August 4, 2020

Rustic and western-themed special editions have been part of the pickup truck business for generations. Dodge sold Prospector versions of the Ram pickup in the 1980s, and the same company sold “The Dude” “sport trim package” for its “Sweptline” pickups in 1970 and 1971.

The Dude is most famously — or rather, infamously — known because Dodge (or more likely its ad agency) made the peculiar choice of using actor Don Knotts as a celebrity endorser. People loved Knotts, but his best-known role as bumbling sheriff’s deputy Barney Fife hardly projected a “tough” image. (Read More…)

By on January 31, 2020

Henry Ford playing fiddle with his old-time dance orchestra on his 70th birthday in 1933. (From the collections of The Henry Ford)

Henry Ford was unquestionably a great man, but he was not a very good man. As an entrepreneur and industrialist, he may have changed the world — for the better, I personally think — but as a human being he had serious failings. According to Richard Bak’s Henry and Edsel, the elder Ford would humiliate his son, Edsel, in public because Henry, a farm boy, worried that his only child would become the soft son of a rich man. That practice continued into Edsel’s adulthood.

Clara (Mrs. Ford) had to make her peace with Henry’s long-term relationship with Evangeline Cote Dahlinger, whom the industrialist met when he was 50 and she was 23 — his associate C. Harold Wills’ secretary at the Highland Park plant. Her son John Dahlinger asserted that he was the son of Henry Ford, whom he strongly resembled.

Ford’s public life was no less unsavory. His bigotries are well known. In his mind he divided the Jewish community between “good Jews” — those he personally knew, like architect Albert Kahn — and “bad Jews,” the boogeymen “bankers” of his fevered imaginations. Less well-known is the fact that many of the most hateful things attributed to Ford were not his own words. (Read More…)

By on December 3, 2019

The motion picture industry has been making movies about cars and car racing since the silent film era. After all, they’re called “motion” pictures, and race cars certainly do move. Racing has other elements, as well, that provide for dramatic and entertaining stories, not the least of which is life-or-death danger.

In many cases, though, racing movies have disappointed either car enthusiasts for their lack of realism, or their financial backers for their less-than-blockbuster ticket sales. Now and then, however, a gifted director gets the budget, the actors, the story, and the technical wherewithal to make a film that resonates with both knowledgeable enthusiasts and the general public. (Read More…)

By on October 10, 2019

The issue of China’s totalitarian government intimidating American businesses into silence over protests in Hong Kong and human rights violations in China has come to the fore, with three nearly simultaneous incidents. The National Basketball Association didn’t quite censure the Houston Rockets’ general manager Daryl Morey for tweeting “fight for Freedom” and “stand with Hong Kong,” but league commissioner Adam Silver’s attempts to mollify Xi JinPing’s regime, to preserve the NBA’s profitable ventures in China, have been described as craven. E-gaming company Blizzard Activision, which is 4.9-percent owned by the Chinese Tencent company, stripped a tournament champion of his title and winnings and banned him for a year for expressing support for Hong Kong in a post-event broadcast. When the animated South Park comedy show satirized censorship in China, the Chinese government simply erased South Park from the Chinese internet as though it never existed. On that side of the great firewall of China, South Park has become like Nikolai Yezhov.

To their everlasting credit, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, South Park’s creators, unlike the NBA and Blizzard Activision, didn’t kowtow, instead releasing an “apology” that mocked both Chinese government censors and the NBA.

It’s abundantly clear that China will use the threat of punishing American companies by restricting access to the Chinese market in order to exert intimidating influence here in the United States.

What does that have to do with cars? (Read More…)

By on September 23, 2019

This could be case of a holster-sniffing wannabe of an exotic variety, or it could be an international incident.

You’re probably aware of folks who like to drive around in former police cruisers carrying as much cop-car equipment as the local officials will let pass without issuing a citation for impersonating a police officer. It’s not a trivial issue to law enforcement because some folks do go over the line into actually impersonating authorities, including committing crimes under cover of fraudulent authority.

What, then, to make of the man arrested by the California Highway Patrol who was driving around Irvine in a black Audi sedan with very authentic-looking decals for China’s People’s Armed Police? (Read More…)

By on August 23, 2019

If you’re any kind of a car enthusiast, or you just think the personal automobile is a terrific transportation device, this news has got to be chilling. The cross-party Science and Technology Select Committee of Parliament has issued a report that says that if the United Kingdom is to reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050, private automobile and truck ownership must end.

Oh, and if you think your morally pure Tesla or some other EV is going to protect your privilege for personal transportation, no, the environmental Jacobins are coming for all privately operated motor vehicles. (Read More…)

By on March 18, 2019

Tell the truth — when driving by a police office operating a speed trap at the side of the road, have you ever been tempted to make a rude gesture? You know the one I’m talking about: the single digit, middle finger salute. A United States Court of Appeals has now confirmed judicially that it’s your right to do so, if you choose.

When Debra Cruise-Gulyas was pulled over for speeding in Taylor, Michigan by Officer Matthew Minard in 2017, she gave in to that very temptation. Well, not right away. After he stopped her, Officer Minard had apparently gave Cruise-Gulyas a bit of a break, citing her for a non-moving violation instead of speeding. Not mollified by the break she got, following the stop, as she drove away, Cruise decided to make a crude gesture directed at the police officer. (Read More…)

By on March 8, 2019

Let’s say you manage one of the soon-to-be-closed Tesla factory-owned stores and, for whatever reason, you have dozens of brand new Model 3 EVs sitting unsold on your lot. What are you going to do if one of them has a discharged battery? As car dealers learned a long time ago in the gasoline era, batteries won’t keep a charge forever and cars sitting for a long time sometimes need a boost to their batteries.

That’s true whether it’s a conventional 12 volt lead-acid battery for an ICE-powered vehicle’s electrical system or it’s the lithium-ion battery pack that powers a EV. That’s why car dealerships for conventional vehicles have battery tenders, heavy duty chargers that can be wheeled around the lot to whichever car might have a dead starter battery.

Of course, to recharge an EV’s battery, you’re gonna need a bigger charger. (Read More…)

By on February 28, 2019

(One of the above items is not like the other…)

Sometimes the most innocent actions can get you in trouble with the law, like the Maryland mother accused of using opiates because she ate a poppy seed bagel the morning she gave birth. A Connecticut man is challenging his conviction on a charge of distracted driving, claiming he was eating a McDonalds hash brown, not talking on his cellphone. No, this isn’t anything like Dan White’s supposed Twinkie Defense — the guy sounds like he has a legitimate case.

On April 11, 2018, Jason Stiber was pulled over in Westport. Westport PD Corporal Shawn Wong alleged that Stiber was talking on his cellphone while driving. Wong later told a magistrate that Stiber was holding a phone near his face and that his lips were moving. Stiber said the officer mistook his food for a phone. The magistrate apparently believed that Wong was right (sorry, I had to), and convicted Stiber of distracted driving, fining him $300. (Read More…)

By on February 27, 2019

Since speed limits were introduced, people who don’t really “get” driving have wondered why a car’s power isn’t restricted so it can’t exceed those selfsame speed limits. For most drivers, that’s a nightmare scenario, but it appears to becoming reality for European drivers.

UK based Evo.co.uk is reporting that, after approval by key members of the European Parliament of regulations proposed by the European Transport Safety Council, speed limiters and data loggers will now be mandatory equipment on all new cars. The European Parliament’s Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection voted in favor of mandatory vehicle safety standards that could be in force within three years. Negotiations between the Parliament, Member States and the European Commission will determine how the new regulations are implemented. (Read More…)

By on February 20, 2019

Until Tuesday, organizers of the 2019 Detroit Autorama were planning on opening the show on March 1st with a car jump by a replica Smokey and the Bandit Trans Am Firebird. A couple of years ago, the Autorama featured a jump of a Dukes of Hazzard “General Lee” Charger replica, to considerable press coverage, including here at TTAC.

This year, the same group of car enthusiasts that put on the General Lee jump, Northeast Ohio Dukes, was going to be back on Atwater Street behind Cobo Hall, only with a black and gold Pontiac, not an orange Dodge. When it comes to famous fictional car jumps, the Bandit’s Mulberry Bridge leap is right up there with the General Lee’s vault in the Dukes’ opening credits, and the Autorama jump was going to be part of a more general tribute at the custom car show to the late Burt Reynolds, a Michigan native, who starred in SATB.

Detroit’s City Council, though, has put a kibosh on the jump, apparently over a nonexistent Confederate battle flag, voting 7-1 to reject the jump. In the 1977 film, the black and gold Trans Am wears a period-correct Georgia license plate on the front of the car. The plate’s Confederate war banner offends current woke sensibilities. (Read More…)

By on February 11, 2019

If you’re a diehard Miata enthusiast living in the United States and you had your heart set on buying one of the five hundred 30th Anniversary Edition models allocated to America, well, you’ll just have to wait for the secondary market. Within four hours of the introduction of the special edition, all of those U.S. bound pearl* anniversary units were scooped up with deposits placed by eager buyers. (Read More…)

By on February 1, 2019

If you drive, or walk, down Woodward Ave. from Detroit’s New Center area to downtown, you can’t help but notice the economic development along that corridor. Detroit has bottomed out. Areas formerly bereft of businesses and housing have been filled in, and hopefully that development will start spreading east and west of Woodward, Detroit’s version of Main Street. Over on the east side of town, one of America’s most blighted urban areas, there is another hopeful sign — a symbol of the city and domestic automobile industry’s decline has literally come crashing down.

The Packard plant bridge over East Grand Boulevard, target of lazy photojournalists for years, collapsed last week, perhaps due to extreme temperature swings the midwest has seen recently. (Read More…)

By on January 23, 2019

It might surprise you, since most automotive sites have moved on to other topics, but the North American International Auto Show, aka the Detroit auto show, is still going on as you read this. Hundreds of thousands of people are planning to attend the public days of the show that continue through next Sunday.

If you’re thinking of going, or just want a recap of the significant vehicles at the show, you’ve come to the right place. (Read More…)

By on January 17, 2019

We reported in early December that the ongoing Gilets Jaunes [yellow vests] protests in France were sparked by private motorists, angered by government regulations that they felt landed most heavily on the middle class. One of those regulations was a decrease in the speed limit on two-lane highways from 90 kilometers per hour (56 mph) to 80 kph (50 mph). Those highways represent about 40 percent of France’s roads.

Now, the French government has acknowledged that a majority of the automated cameras used to enforce speed limits in that country have been made inoperable, either vandalized or destroyed by protesters. (Read More…)

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