Positive Post Of The Day

Santa is Real And He Delivers Toys in a Dodge Caravan Sleigh

Myron Benford has been delivering toys on Christmas Eve to children around Detroit for more than four decades. The 71-year-old man converted a Dodge minivan to look like a sleigh, complete with reindeer welded to the front, that seemingly “floats” on snow. He hands out 200 to 250 toys to children who need Christmas, he told the Detroit Free Press:

Oh, it’s a year-round commitment. People think it’s just for one day. I’ve been preparing for this all year long. The day after Christmas I start packing up more toys, trying to wrap up more toys. Trying to find closeouts and so forth and all. So that when I come here, I’m ready to service any kid I see out there on the street.

Benford is Santa.

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GM Canada Connecting Syrian Refugees With Service Jobs

General Motors in Canada said Monday that it would provide assistance to Syrian refugees in that country through job training and money, the automaker announced.

“We are witnessing an outpouring of community support across Canada which recognizes the importance of a coordinated and thoughtful approach to refugee resettlement,” Steve Carlisle, president of General Motors of Canada, said in a statement.

The program will help connect refugees to local dealers looking for potential technicians or candidates for jobs. Would-be candidates will be trained in nearby community colleges through GM’s Automotive Service Educational Program.

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LeMons Crash Proves Why Safety Should Never Be Cheap

In my life, I’ve officiated exactly two LeMons races thanks to the good graces of Murilee Martin. At those races, I’ve watched tech inspectors go over seats, belts and harnesses with more scrutiny than border guards in Israel. To be sure, it’s astounding to me how much safety needs to be welded, worked and crammed into a “junker” from the outside — most people never see that. But even I wondered sometimes why tech was so hard to pass.

There are myriad things that can go wrong on a racetrack. However, there are only a few things that can save lives when those things go wrong. For those lifesaving devices, there’s no substitute or corner-cutting, and there are reasons why good teams spend more on a cage and brakes than they ever spend on an engine.

Case in point: Coming up on a blind crest and running face-first into the rear of a stalled car and everyone is OK after.

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Utah Mechanic Buys, Fixes Car for High School Custodian Walking to Work (Video)

I swear someone was cutting onions right next to me just now.

A Utah high school custodian, whose broken-down car left him commuting two hours each way to work, was surprised by a mechanic who purchased and fixed a car for him with money collected from crowd funding.

Sean Merrill, who owns Nobori Auto near Salt Lake City, along with his wife, picked up Robert Ford last month when he was walking home late one night. Ford told the couple about his hardship and his commute, and Merrill said he was compelled to help.

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Daimler Launches Internships For Refugees in Germany

Daimler announced Wednesday that it would help Germany’s growing refugee crisis by offering “bridge internships” to 40 people along with German classes, transportation for aid organizations and food donations.

The company would put to work some refugees who have flooded the country to escape violence in nearby Middle Eastern countries. In all, Daimler announced it would put to work “several hundred” refugees after a 14-week course in helping them to learn the nation’s language and construction practices.

Daimler joins Audi in offering help to refugees in Germany, after that automaker announced this summer that it would donate €1 million ($1.1 million) to aid organizations.

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Audi Donating $1.1 Million for Refugee Help

You’d have to pay attention and skip the endless garbage about Kentucky county clerks and Donald Trump to hear about the unprecedented flight (and plight) of migrants in Europe. Hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing war torn countries such as Syria, and the European Union is struggling to find homes for all of them.

On Thursday, Audi said it would donate €1 million ($1.12 million) to help refugee aid organizations near its factories.

“We have been shocked by the great suffering of the refugees in Europe,” Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG, said in a statement. “People at our doorsteps are in need — and we therefore want to offer help quickly and avoid red tape.”

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Florida Car Wash Helping Homeless Off the Street

A Florida pastor is helping homeless, unemployed and ex-convicts make money by washing cars at a gas station parking lot, WTSP in Tampa is reporting.

The woman who started the car wash, Dr. Mentha Thomas, says she started the business to help locals get back on their feet.

“To me, that hits your heart. That’s a sad place to be unless somebody helps you,” she told the news station.

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What Automotive Patent Would You Hang on Your Wall?

The fine brain trust at How a Car Works has a great idea: print out free high-res patents and frame them because all our money goes to cars and not decorations, obviously.

It got our motors running. What would we want to hang on the walls?

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Good News: 3D-printed Aston Martin Project is Back On

Ivan Sentch, the New Zealander who is 3D printing an Aston Martin DB4 and building the car in his garage, is back at it after a two-year hiatus, he told us today.

In an email, Sentch said he’s moved into a new house and is bringing the car back into the garage where he’ll pick at the project, bit by bit, until he’s done.

“It’ll just be a couple of hours at night after the kids go to sleep but you’d be surprised how much you can get done doing just a little bit each day,” said Sentch.

Kinda puts our Facebook meandering before bed to shame, really.

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Mazda Replaces First Crashed MX-5 Miata for Unlucky Buyer

Feel bad for the guy whose brand-new car gets smashed less than a mile away from the dealership? We do. Apparently, so does Mazda.

Jalopnik has a great story about a new 2016 Mazda Miata owner whose car met an all-too-soon end less than a mile away from the dealership. The ends were smashed, the driver and passenger were bruised (but luckily not seriously) and one of the first new Miatas fell victim to an F-150.

You’ll never guess what Mazda did next.

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Fiat Chrysler Tops Annual 'Total Quality' Survey

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles earned the top spot overall in an annual survey of new car quality.

Strategic Vision, a San Diego-based research firm, ranked FCA No. 1 for the first time since the company began measuring customer satisfaction in 1995. Last year, Kia earned top honors.

FCA had six cars that topped their respective segments, including the Fiat 500 and 500e; Dodge Charger, Challenger and Durango; and, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited.

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Survey Says: MPG Matters

Didn’t you always have this nagging suspicion that MPG might be influencing the purchasing decision? At least a little bit? A brand-new survey says you are right!

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A Very Special Event(er) Indeed

My friend, driving instructor, and fellow racer Brian Makse occasionally plays at being a Canadian auto journalist. Being a Canadian autojourno is very possibly the bestest job available, because even the third-tier guys get free cars and first-class flights to Europe. Right now Brian has a new Jaguar XJR in his garage. Unlike Mr. Makse, I owned a Jaguar when the company was British-owned and fiercely independent, not merely a pawn in various Asian financial shell games.

In an effort to write a better article than Makse’s upcoming Jag XKR review, I’ve decided to talk about a car that is so much cooler than the TataJag that a double shot of vodka placed on its bonnet would immediately freeze. I’m referring to a British automobile of such impeccable pedigree that even Bristol owners nod in its general direction with grudging respect. Ladies and gentlemen… the Lynx Eventer.

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Question Of The Day: Kia Today, Gone Tomorrow?

If you’re reading this article, that means Fuhrer Schmitt has figured out under what moniker this article should be filed under. As far as I’m concerned it should be a “Question Of The Day”, but it could easily slot into “WTF” and “Wild Arse Rumor Of The Day”. So, here we go…

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Happy Holidays From TTAC!

TTAC is something of a family affair these days. Though our contributors are still scattered around the country and the world, TTAC’s Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor are now a father-son team that, despite living a few hours drive from one another, hardly ever see each other in person. So with the holidays upon us, we’re slowing down our relentless coverage in order to spend some time together as a family. From now through Sunday, we’ll continue to post some content, though at a more leisurely, holiday-like pace. But don’t worry: though on-page content will slow, we will be taking the time to put finishing touches on several new series to debut here on TTAC as we head into the new year. We’ve got some great stuff lined up for 2010, and we’re thrilled at the prospect of another year of automotive truth-telling. So on behalf of the TTAC family, here in Oregon and around the world, we wish you all a very happy holidays.

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Happy Thanksgiving From TTAC
Positive Post of the Day: Chrysler Has Cash, Will Produce Diesel Wrangler
Positive Post of the Day: Praise God and Pass the Oil Pan
The Best Of Robert Farago
Positive Post of the Day: More Diesels for America Edition
Positive Post of the Day: Facebook Doesn't Hate the Acura ZDX Edition
Positive Post of the Day: Fisker Brings Sanity to EREV Efficiency Ratings Edition

GM set off something of an insanity bomb a few weeks back by claiming their Volt moonshot would get 230 mpg based on draft EPA testing standards. Nissan countered via Twitter, claiming that its forthcoming Leaf EV would get 367 mpg using the same test, and the age of EV efficiency madness was initiated. Needless to say, neither the Volt nor the Leaf can be directly tested to give an apples-to-apples comparison to internal combustion-powered vehicles, and this opening salvo seemed bent on removing plausibility from the EV efficiency equation. But sanity in EV efficiency has an unlikely new champion in luxo-EREV maker Fisker.

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Positive Post of the Day: GM Moves to Sort Out Side Airbag Issue

GM is taking decisive action to rectify safety issues stemming from the sale of roughly 200,000 Chevrolet Malibus, Cobalts and Impalas without “standard” side airbags. The cars in questions were sold to fleet buyers with the bags deleted, saving purchasers $145 per vehicle. They then found their way into the resale market, including GM-certified franchises, where they’ve been sold as side airbag-equipped. No more, from one end of the food chain to the other. “Brian Latouf, director of GM’s Global Structure & Safety Integration Center, said the company wouldn’t allow the airbags to be deleted from the list of features available when they are bought by fleet buyers,” reports Detroit News. “He also said that vehicles without side airbags are clearly marked in the owner’s manual.” As for the cars already out there, somewhere, GM is making moves to address labeling issues for used car buyers. . .

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Positive Post of the Day: Ford Blesses Base Mustang With 315HP V6
Positive Post of the Day: GM Changes Its Culture Edition

“Culture change is not simple to do,” GM CEO Fritz Henderson tells Bloomberg. “In the end, if you reinforce what you want in how you behave and how you act, the organization picks it up.” But Fritz isn’t merely turning GM around by example. “You’ve got to get your people involved,” he explains. “You’ve got to get your leadership involved, you have to be consistent, you have to be simple and have everyone understand what you’re trying to get accomplished.” And just what is Henderson trying to accomplish? Nothing less than a total change in perspective . . . in 50 employees.

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Positive Post Of The Day: New Dodge Caliber Interior Is Better Edition

Better than what, you ask? Why, better than the previous Rubbermaid-meets-snap-together-model version, of course. Is it good enough? Somehow we aren’t feeling positive enough to predict that this will reverse the Caliber’s doomed-to-China fate. Hit the jump for the most positive spin possible on the Caliber’s improvements, courtesy of Chrysler PR.

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Positive Post Of The Day: Miata Gets Some Competition Edition

Volkswagen’s BlueSport is still in concept form, but that didn’t stop Autobild from taking it out and comparing it to Mazda’s Miata, the industry standard for affordable fun. “Not bad, truly not bad,” is how the BlueSport’s creator Marco Fabiano describes the Miata, his concept’s intended prey. Which means the BlueSport will have to be “damn good, truly damn good” to break Mazda’s 20-year stranglehold on the entry-roadster market. At least VW is clear on that much going into the project.

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Positive Post of the Day: ChryCo Gives Lobby Cash to Charity
Positive Post of the Day: 600 is a Nice Round Number Edition
Positive Post of the Day: I Wish I Were a Big GM Supplier Edition
Positive Post of the Day: GM Gets to Keep Opel Edition

Clear-sighted auto industry analysts tell Automotive News [sub] that “Just a few months ago, GM was not in a position to retain Opel.” But now, according to these wise seers, GM doesn’t have to sweat the recovery of its embattled European division. “They were fighting on life support. Now the patient has recovered,” is the verdict. Huzzah! For lo, GM hath looked unto the hills from whence cometh its help, and it figures more just might be on its way. “I think the last year has shown that the government can be very creative when it wants to be in how it structures these deals,” says another analyst, who suggests that “private investors with possible credit support from government sources” could ride to Opels rescue on behalf of GM. After all, if anything, Opel is the bailout that got away. “There really wasn’t a view articulated (on Opel). It was one of several challenges that GM faced,” says an anonymous U.S. official “In its restructuring, there really wasn’t a particular view on a specific path.” And the door is still open for a taxpayer-backed rescue of Opel.

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Positive Post of the Day: UAW Gives Ford a Break

The Freep reports that Ford officials are meeting with the United Auto Workers Union today, to renegotiate elements of their labor contract. Reducing pay for entry-level workers and reducing skilled-trades job classifications are said to be at the top of Ford’s to-do list. And why not? GM got the UAW to agree to streamlined skilled-trade positions, an entry-level wage freeze, a performance bonus freeze and a no-strike agreement. Why wouldn’t the UAW do the same for Ford, just because the Blue Oval didn’t give up major ownership stakes to the union and its allies in government?

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Positive Post of the Day: Fiat Fixes Chrysler Edition

[ED: Our doctors tell us we need to write at least one “positive” post per day. A feature is born.]

Fiat is introducing a “World Class Manufacturing” campaign at Chrysler plants which will radically transform Chrysler’s manufacturing process. After all, Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne takes the moral aspects of manufacturing very personally. “ Waste is unethical,” he is known to have said; so why wouldn’t the Detroit News simply repeat it? And Fiat is famous for operating the most efficient, Dr. Seussian factories in the business. Like the Fiat of Brazil paint shop pictured above (more images of the plant here). Who wouldn’t want to be productive and/or hallucinating in that kind of working environment? The only disheartening element of this story is how far Chrysler’s plants have to come. Pop an extra Xanax and hit the jump to find out.

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  • Jim Bonham Full EVs are not for everyone, they cannot meet all needs. Hybrids do a much better job of providing the benefits of EVs without most of the drawbacks. I have a hybrid sedan with plenty of room, plus all the bells and whistles. It has 360 hp, AWD, does 0-60 in just over 5 sec.(the instant torque is a real benefit), and I get 29 mpg, average. NOT driven lightly. I bought it used for $25k.Sure, it's a little heavier because of the battery, motor, etc., but not nearly as much as a full EV. The battery is smaller/lighter/cheaper and both the alternator and starter motor are eliminated since the motor assumes those functions. It's cool to watch the charge guage show I'm getting energy back when coasting and/or braking. It's even cooler to drive around part of the time on battery only. It really comes in handy in traffic since the engine turns off and you don't waste fuel idling. With the adaptive cruise control you just let the car slowly inch along by itself.I only wish it were a Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV). Then, I'd have A LOT more EV-only range, along with even more of that instant torque. The battery would be bigger, but still a fraction of the size of a full EV. I could easily go weeks without using much, if any gas (depending upon my commute) IF I plug it in every night. But I don't have to. The gas engine will charge the battery whenever it's needed.It's just not as efficient a way to do it.Electric companies offer special rates for both EVs and PHEVs which lower your operating cost compared to gasoline. They'll even give you a rebate to offset the cost of installing a home charger. You can still get federal (up to $7,500, plus some state) tax credits for PHEVs.What's not to like? My next daily driver will be a PHEV of some kind. Probably a performance-oriented one like the new Dodge Hornet or one of the German Hybrid SUVs. All the benefits, sound, feel, etc., of a gas vehicle along with some electric assist to improve fuel economy, performance, and drivability. None of the inherent EV issues of cost, range anxiety, long charging times, poor charger availability, grid capacity issues, etc. I think most people will eventually catch on to this and go PHEV instead of going full EV. Synthetic, carbon-neutral eFuels, hydrogen engines, and other things will also prevent full EVs from being 100% of the fleet, regardless of what the politicians say. PHEVs can be as "clean" (overall) as full EVs with the right fuels. They're also cheaper, and far more practical, for most people. They can do it all, EVs can't.
  • Ron rufo there is in WaSHINGTON STATE
  • ToolGuy @Chris, your photography rocks.
  • ToolGuy No War for Oli.If you have not ever held a piece of structural honeycomb (composite sandwich) in your own hands, try it.
  • ToolGuy You make them sound like criminals.