As we enter 2016, the management here at TTAC has asked the staff writers to come up with summaries of our contributions to the site in 2015. Mark Stevenson gave us a pretty wide latitude, suggesting we could reference both posts that got lots of eyeballs and clicks and stories that didn’t get the attention we’d have preferred.
Before I get to my favorite posts of 2015, however, I need to get something off of my chest.
Lord, Mr. Farago what have you done? Baruth just did a Lotus/Porsche comparo for Road & Track, Steve Lang is currently contributing to Yahoo Autos and Jalopnik, and Murilee Martin’s been writing for Autoweek and pieces for Car and Driver lately as well. Those writing gigs follow TTAC alumni Justin Berkowitz and Jonny Lieberman’s buff book editorial positions. The Learned Elders of TTAC continue to infiltrate and influence the autojourno world. I’m happy to announce that I’m joining the illustrious list above by becoming a regular online contributor to Hemmings Motor News. My first piece for Hemmings is a report on the Ridler Award winning car and the other Great 8 finalists at the 2013 Detroit Autorama.
General Motors’ powertrain engineers have undoubtedly demonstrated with the LS family of V8 engines that pushrods still have a place in the 21st century. As successful and popular as the LS has been, I don’t think it’s much of stretch to assume that the new LT1 V8 in the all new seventh generation Corvette will eventually replace the LS engine in its various permutations and applications. The LT1, still a cam in block engine, and still with Ed Cole’s 4.40 inch bore centers, adds direct injection to the Small Block Chevy heritage. The LS family has also been popular as crate motors, used by customizers and high performance enthusiasts as well as with a small industry of companies that specialize in high performance GM products. While you can buy a LS from General Motors with up to 638 horsepower, if that just doesn’t satisfy your need for speed, companies like Callaway, Lingenfelter and Hennessey have shown that the LS engine’s basic architecture is capable of putting out almost twice that power. After talking with Ken Lingenfelter about the new Corvette, I wonder, though, just how tuner-friendly the new LT1 will be.
As Detroiters wait to see if the latest plans to raze the decrepit century old abandoned Packard plant on the city’s east side come to fruition, someone apparently tried to make a point by putting up posters reading Arbeit Macht Frei in the frames of the broken windows of the overpass at Concord Street that connected the two halves of the giant factory. That phrase, German for “work makes you free”, sat above the gates of many Nazi concentration and death camps. Of course that slogan was part of the Nazis’ cruelty because in those camps, the only freedom a prisoner could hope for was the freedom of the grave as they were at best worked to death in labor camps and slave factories, or exterminated in factories of death. The Nazis dangled that carrot, the hope that you could survive if only you worked hard enough, but for eleven million of their victims, more than half of them Jews, that hope was not fulfilled. But in Detroit?
Lately, in no small part due to Michael Moore, the “documentary” film has become the carborundum upon which filmmakers from a variety of perspectives have ground their own axes and then proceeded to chop down the subject of their films. It’s nice, then, to see a documentary made that exhibits some affection for the subject. Wagonmasters, a film made by Chris Zaluski and Sam Smartt as part of their work for MFAs from Wake Forest University’s Documentary Film Program, looks at the great American station wagon with affection. Wistful affection for the now disappeared suburban icon of Americana, but affection nonetheless.
I stumbled upon this car at the Packard Proving Grounds‘ fall open house.
Of late I’ve been enamored of classic dual cowl phaetons. Forget Lamborghinis, if you want to make a statement, a dual cowl phaeton from the late 1920s or early 1930s is the definition of arriving in style. While getting some photos of a burgundy red Packard phaeton, I noticed that the classic behind the Packard was a Duesenberg, or rather it had a Duesenberg hood ornament. It turns out that it’s a one-off replica of a Duesenberg built for a man who owns a real Duesey.
After reports of a Fisker Karma going up in flames in Woodside, California last Friday, we published comments that EV expert Jon Bereisa had made about an earlier Karma fire. Bereisa had said that the tight packaging of the engine and putting the entire exhaust system under the hood and exiting out behind the front wheels compromised the heat shielding. Putting that together with photos and video of the latest fire, that showed the firefighters concentrating their water spray behind the front wheel, I speculated that Bereisa’s criticism was warranted. Now Fisker has issued a statement, specifically absolving the engine compartment and “unique exhaust routing” of involvement in the Woodside fire:
Rundown of Indian Press Coverage of Maruti Suzuki Riot & Lockdown: Talk of Conspiracies and Outside Influences
The major Indian news operations are pretty much flooding the zone in covering the riot and lockdown at Maruti Suzuki’s Manesar plant. Besides whatever labor unrest there was at play in the Manesar factory riot, internal politics within the state of Haryana or competition with Gujurat state may have had something to do with it, with accusations of conspiracies and outside influences. Here is a rundown of the news.
Photo Credit: United States Department of Transportation
There’s a bit of a brouhaha brewing about Ford bringing about 150 “social media influencers” to Detroit and then Las Vegas for the big North American International Auto Show and the Consumer Electronics Show. While there may be some ethical issues concerning transparency and disclosure, I doubt that anyone begrudges Ford the ability to spend Ford stockholders’ money promoting Ford Motor Company and its products. Ford is acting in the fiduciary interests of those stockholders. Whether or not cabinet members and other Washington officials are acting in the fiduciary interest of taxpayers by flying to car shows is another question.
Photos courtesy of Cars In Depth
Sometimes, as with the Continental Mark II convertible, you track down a car. Other times, you walk out your front door and you see a caravan of two families of Norwegians driving Renault R4s (plus an RV) on their way from Oslo to Los Angeles via New York (and back). How they ended up on a residential street in a quiet Detroit suburb is due to the vagaries of navigation systems, but I don’t believe in coincidences. After all, if the Creator could be concerned with the Brownian motion of a mote of dust, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that He wants you to see these cars.
After reading Tal Bronfer’s review of the Euro spec Honda CR-Z, I made arrangements to get a North American model for a week. The car arrived the same day that Michael Karesh’s second review of the CR-Z ran on TTAC. Instead of a third review, Ed and I discussed doing a comparison with an original CRX and seeing what CRX fans think of the CR-Z. Well, it didn’t work out that way ….
Gestalten, a German publishing house specializing in books on design, has published an intriguing book on a subject that surprisingly has previously only been addressed tangentially but is sure to appeal to most auto enthusiasts: the graphic designs of race cars.
While the shape of racing cars has been the subject of endless technical and aesthetic discussion, Voelker points out that the history of the colors and liveries that have been applied over those shapes has not been particularly well documented. Considering the emotional and aesthetic impact of the colors and graphics used, this is surprising. As Voelker says, who would want to watch a plain white Ferrari race?
In the previous edition of the Big Buff Book Cover-Up series, we looked at the Cumberford Martinique, a BMW & Citroen based retro roadster designed by a small startup that never got beyond prototypes or demonstrators.
The last of the three-part series shows (for starts) that you don’t have to be a small startup for your concept to stall at the prototype stage.
You can be a small British luxury marque with a storied but financially checkered past.
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- Dusterdude When there is a strike the union leadership talk about “brothers and sisters “ . They should give up that charade . Bottom line is they are trying to wring out every last penny they can and could care less ( putting it politely) about the future of the industry 5 - 10 years+ down the road
- Ronin They all will back off, because the consumer demand is not there. Even now the market is being artificially propped up by gov subsidies.
- Keith Some of us appreciate sharing these finds. Thank you. I always have liked these. It would a fun work car or just to bomb around in. Easy to keep running. Just get an ignition kill switch and you would have no worries leaving it somewhere. Those OEM size wheels and tires are comical. A Juke has bigger wheels!
- Ollicat I have a Spyder. The belt will last for many years or 60,000-80,000 miles. Not really a worry.
- Redapple2 Cadillac and racing. Boy those 2 go together dont they? What a joke. Up there with opening a coffee shop in NYC. EvilGM be clowning. Again.