"The Relay" Online Newsletter
Our next meeting will be on Monday August 26th at 6:30 PM at the Richmond Auto Museum. Arrive early to see the 45+ cars in the shop. There will be a catered meal for $15 (cash or check). We will need to know if you are going to attend for the catered meal. You can email Fred at email@example.com or reply to the meeting reminder email sent out to members about a week before the meeting. Address is 8605 Oakview Ave, Richmond, VA 23228. Website: RichmondAutoMuseum.com.
August 1957 Esquire calendar
The former Warren County Sheriff is dead. As you recall Warren County deputies were writing antique registration tickets for people having passengers and personal belongings in their antique vehicles – neither of which is against the law. And these people were prosecuted, convicted and sentenced. I sent a letter on May 6 to the governor asking for an attorney general opinion to stop this miscarriage of justice – more on that later. The attorney general office and a couple of members of the General Assembly were also made aware of this – none have done anything about it. Here is some information about the late sheriff for the local news:
“Former Warren Co. sheriff found dead days after acquaintance jailed for embezzlement: Embattled former Warren County Sheriff Daniel T. McEathron, who as the Rappahannock News reported last month was among numerous county officials and entities immersed in ongoing scandals, was found deceased Tuesday, May 28, outside Front Royal, according to Virginia State Police. “At this stage of the investigation, foul play is not suspected in relation to his death. A firearm was recovered at the scene,” according to a Virginia State Police statement provided to the News.”
And more from the news:
“Jennifer McDonald, the former Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority executive director, was arrested Friday night on two felony counts of fraud and two felony counts of embezzlement, according to the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail’s website. McDonald was arrested by the Virginia State Police at 7:20 p.m. Friday and is being held without bond, according to the jail’s website. The arrest comes after the EDA on March 26 filed a $17.6 million civil embezzlement lawsuit against McDonald, developer Curt Tran, former Warren County Sheriff Daniel McEathron, Donald Poe, Justin Appleton and limited liability companies associated with those individuals.”
Okay, Warren County government is a mess. You would think that the governor would do something when people are being charged with crimes that aren’t really crimes. After sending the May 6 letter with no response I emailed the governor’s office and got – you guessed it – no response. I then called the governor’s office and spoke with someone who found my letter and state that I should have gotten a response from the Secretary of Transportation – and again if you guessing no response from him you’re right. I told the person in the governor’s office about the situation and that the secretary cannot legally ask for an attorney general opinion. I know that because years ago when Senator Kaine was governor I asked him for an AG opinion and he did that same thing. The Secretary of Transportation actually did ask the AG for an opinion and the AG responded to me with a letter saying no opinion because the secretary cannot ask for one.
The bottom line here is the people we elected to serve us and to insure that there is no miscarriage of justice have failed us. And they should be ashamed of themselves – hopefully none of them will ever be elected to office again.
And the bad government news continues with the DMV. Recently I got a yellow postcard from the DMV stating that a registration was about to expire and I needed to renew. This was a pilot program over a couple of years and the goal was DMV saving postage. My problem was that I never got a postcard for another vehicle and the registration expired. I contacted DMV and was told it was sent in May. From my own experiences and those of others dealing with DMV I think I trust the post office more than them. So I ended up having to pay the late fee.
Here’s what’s important to know about these yellow postcards. I’m not the only one to have one “lost in the mail” – there were problems in Roanoke with getting these postcards to DMV customers. You need to keep tabs on when your plate stickers expire – do not count on DMV to remind you. DMV will not cut you a break if you don’t get the yellow postcard – you will have to pay the $10 late fee and hopefully you will not discover your stickers have expired when you get stopped by the police. You have only two ways to renew; no more writing a check and mailing it to DMV. You pay online and save a buck or you go to a DMV customer service center and wait and wait and wait and then you get to pay an additional $5 for the pleasure of waiting at DMV.
The DMV commissioner thinks DMV will save $325,000 in postage per year with this new system. I want to know what DMV is going to do with that money. Will they stop putting all trucks down on titles as “pickups”? Will they find some way to speed up the wait process at the customer service centers? Will they stop putting title numbers in place of VINs on titles and then charging people to have them corrected? Or will they stop putting the incorrect mileage on titles, incorrect type of vehicle, incorrect weight, etc. on titles? I’d really like to know.
This is the first time in many, many years a state has gone to a single plate. It is only for vehicles registered as antiques. From SEMA: Congratulations, Rhode Island! Legislation (S.B. 621/H.B. 5888) to allow vehicles with “year of manufacture” (YOM) tags to display a single license plate on the rear of the vehicle has passed the deadline for the Governor’s signature or veto, and thus has become law without being signed. All motor vehicles 25 model years old and older are currently eligible for courtesy YOM plates in Rhode Island. Previously, these vehicles were required to display both front and rear YOM plates.
Star City Motor Madness - click to see all the photos
Lee Iacocca, the automobile industry executive who helped launch the Mustang at Ford and save Chrysler from bankruptcy, and whose cunning, ingenuity and swagger made him one of the most successful salesmen of his generation, died July 2 at his home in the Bel-Air area of Los Angeles. He was 94.
The cause was complications from Parkinson’s disease, said his daughter Lia Iacocca Assad.
For a vast swath of the American public, Mr. Iacocca was the face, the voice and the symbol of the car business in Detroit at its most resourceful and industrious. The hard-charging Iacocca, an immigrant’s son who rose to a vice presidency at Ford at 36, first gained broad renown in 1964, when he helped take the company to a new level of stylishness and panache with the Mustang sports car.
Mr. Iacocca’s career continued to skyrocket. He became company president, only to be abruptly fired in 1978 by Henry Ford II, the grandson and namesake of the auto company’s founder, in what was often chalked up to a clash of egos and personalities.
Almost immediately, Mr. Iacocca rebounded as chairman of Chrysler. He was widely credited with saving the company from bankruptcy by persuading Congress in 1980 to approve federal loan guarantees of up to $1.5 billion.
Chrysler, which had been the straggler among Detroit’s Big Three, came roaring back as Mr. Iacocca closed factories, dismissed tens of thousands of employees, slashed executive salaries, persuaded suppliers to accept delayed payments and wrung concessions from labor unions. He cut his own salary to a dollar a year.
In addition, he boosted sales by introducing the fuel-efficient K-car line and the minivan, which would lead the auto industry in sales for years. He restored profitability in what has been described as the biggest individual corporate save in U.S. business history. Under Mr. Iacocca, the company paid back its loans — $1.2 billion and interest — in 1983, seven years before they were due.
“We at Chrysler borrow money the old-fashioned way. We pay it back,” a beaming Mr. Iacocca said at a news conference.
At a time when the country was shifting out of a period of economic malaise, Mr. Iacocca seemed a straight-shooting leader brimming with self-confidence. Media coverage portrayed Mr. Iacocca as an industry savior, and he added to his allure through aggressively cocksure TV commercials promoting Chrysler cars — and, in the process, himself.
As the advertisements began airing in late 1980, few could forget the image of the 6-foot-1 Iacocca, with aviator glasses perched atop his nose, pacing the floor of a Chrysler assembly-line factory, shaking a finger at the camera and declaring, “If you can find a better car, buy it!”
In the mid-1980s, he ranked behind only President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II in a Gallup-poll list of the world’s most respected men. He was admired for his shrewdness and his visceral desire to win. His self-titled 1984 memoir, written with author William Novak, was on the bestseller lists for 38 weeks and sold more than 6.5 million copies.
A bona fide celebrity, Mr. Iacocca socialized with Frank Sinatra, roused thousands of high school students to their feet at commencement speeches, led fundraising efforts to refurbish the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and was feted like a rock star at political gatherings.
Bounding back to success after being dismissed at Ford appealed to an underdog-loving public. Mr. Iacocca was beseeched to run in 1988 to succeed Reagan, but his eviscerating management style, notoriously thin skin and off-the-cuff, frequently profane remarks increasingly brought doubt about whether he had the temperament for high office.
The car industry was another matter.
Even trade unionists, not ordinarily fond of praising executive-suite personnel, basked in his charismatic glow and chanted his name as he strode onto assembly-plant floors. A United Auto Workers president, Douglas Fraser, whom Mr. Iacocca placed on the Chrysler board, once told Time magazine that dues-paying members repeatedly asked for a favor: Could he please get Mr. Iacocca to sign copies of his autobiography for them?
He was neither an operations nor a manufacturing genius, automobile industry analyst Maryann N. Keller told The Washington Post. But he was a world-class salesman.
“He understood marketing,” Keller said. “Using his own persuasive powers, he was able get people to overlook the limitations of Chrysler automobiles and he was able to get Congress to overlook the fact that the company really was in financial trouble. .?.?. He made people believe in him.”
Lido Anthony Iacocca was born in Allentown, Pa., on Oct. 15, 1924. His parents, Nicola and Antoinette, had immigrated to the United States from Italy.
His father was an entrepreneur who ran a variety of businesses, including a car rental agency and movie theaters.
“My father was such a great promoter that kids who came down to the Saturday matinees used to get more excited about his special offers than about the movies,” Mr. Iacocca later wrote in his memoir. “People still talk about the day he announced that the ten kids with the dirtiest faces would be admitted free.”
The family was wealthy for a few years before the Great Depression, but Nicola Iacocca lost all his money in the stock market crash of 1929. The family’s economic suffering was a driving force in Lee Iacocca’s ambitions for financial success.
In his sophomore year of high school, a bout of rheumatic fever led to paralysis in his legs for a time. This kept him out of competitive sports and later out of military service during World War II. He channeled his vigor into academics and the debating society. He became class president and a member of the National Honor Society.
He completed a bachelor’s degree at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., in three years and, after graduating in 1945, won a fellowship for graduate study in engineering at Princeton University. “I wasn’t interested in a snob degree,” he wrote in his memoir, speaking of the Ivy League degree. “I was after the bucks.”
Mr. Iacocca began his ascent of the corporate ladder at a propitious time. World War II had just ended. After a wartime hiatus to concentrate on military production, Detroit was retooling its factories to turn out civilian vehicles again. The American car was ready to transform the way Americans lived.
Millions of war veterans were back from overseas, marrying and having children. Millions more Americans were moving from the cities to suburbs, and they all needed automobiles to support their new lifestyles.
Onto this stage strode Mr. Iacocca. In August 1946, he arrived in Dearborn, Mich., as an engineering trainee at Ford. He quickly became bored and restless with the solitary and tedious work.
“I was eager to be where the real action was — marketing or sales,” he said. “I liked working with people more than machines.” Ford approved his request for a transfer, on the condition that he find a new job himself, which he did — a low-level fleet sales job in Chester, Pa.
In 1956, Mr. Iacocca married Mary McCleary, a receptionist at the Ford sales office in Chester. Around that time, Mr. Iacocca worked his way up to assistant sales manager of the Philadelphia district. He tried a sales gimmick that caught the attention of Robert S. McNamara, the future defense secretary, who was then the company’s vice president in charge of all car and truck divisions.
“I decided that any customer who bought a new 1956 Ford should be able to do so for a modest down payment of 20 percent followed by three years of monthly payments of $56,” Mr. Iacocca wrote in his memoir. “I called my idea ‘56 for ’56.’?”
The plan was so successful that in three months, sales of Fords in the Philadelphia district shot to first place from last. McNamara so liked the idea that he made it part of Ford’s national marketing strategy. The company later estimated that the idea was responsible for selling 75,000 additional cars.
In 1960, McNamara became president of Ford. Mr. Iacocca replaced him as vice president and general manager of the Ford car and truck divisions. He was 36, one year beyond the goal he had set for himself for achieving a vice presidency.
To his job, Mr. Iacocca brought a new concept in sales and styling that was fundamentally different from McNamara’s. McNamara, he said, had a “deep conviction that a car was a means of transportation, not a toy.”
McNamara was primarily concerned with basics, such as fuel efficiency. Mr. Iacocca, not so much. Based on market research, Mr. Iacocca saw that younger buyers were beginning to dominate the market. The design and appearance of a new model was critical. Cars coming off the Ford assembly lines had to be more than reliable, efficient and functional. They had to look good, what Mr. Iacocca described as “a car you could drive to the country club on Friday night, to the drag strip on Saturday, and to church on Sunday.”
The result was the Mustang.
Months in advance of its debut, an aggressive promotional campaign was launched. Editors of college newspapers were loaned Mustangs to drive several weeks before the official introduction date. Television networks were blanketed with Mustang commercials.
In its first year, the Mustang sold 418,812 models, a record for Ford products, and it generated $1.1 billion in profits for the company. The Mustang was a phenomenon — it made the cover of the major newsweeklies and had a pivotal cameo in the police drama “Bullitt” (1968), with ultracool movie star Steve McQueen behind the wheel.
Buoyed by the continuing success of the Mustang, Mr. Iacocca earned a series of promotions that culminated in his appointment as Ford’s president in 1970.
As president, one of his chief tasks was finding ways to cut inefficiencies company-wide — giving heads of lagging divisions a limited time to turn things around or suffer the consequences. He had long been viewed as a hard-nosed manager. He had his department heads define their goals and objectives, and then graded them on their performance in a black notebook.
A polarizing figure in the company, he had many who admired his instinctive business savvy and many who could not abide his hyper-critical, micro-managing and shoot-from-the-lip personal style.
In the 1970s, Mr. Iacocca presided over one of the company’s greatest fiascoes: the Pinto. Initially a moneymaker, the car was revealed to have a gas tank leakage that made it a hazard. A massive recall was ordered.
In addition, rising fuel costs during the Arab oil embargo and increasing competition from the Japanese and other foreign car industries that specialized in sporty and fuel-efficient vehicles were threatening Detroit.
Mr. Iacocca’s eight years as president were made difficult by his tense relationship with Henry Ford II.
As Mr. Iacocca told it in his autobiography, Ford repeatedly reduced the president’s authority and prestige through a series of executive reorganizations, directed the arbitrary and capricious firing of other executives, and had a close friend of Mr. Iacocca’s investigated for Mafia connections, which were never found.
“If a guy is over 25 percent a jerk, he’s in trouble,” Mr. Iacocca later said. “And Henry was 95 percent.”
He said Ford never gave a specific reason for his dismissal. “We had just completed the two best years in our history,” he wrote in his autobiography. But he quoted Ford as telling him: “I think you should leave. It’s personal. .?.?. It’s just one of those things .?.?. sometimes you just don’t like somebody.”
The Ford-Iacocca showdown was widely perceived as a dust-up between the upstart son of Italian immigrants and the scion of the automotive aristocracy. That Mr. Iacocca would cast his lot with Chrysler, a Ford competitor, after being fired was seen as a case of “Don’t get mad. Get even,” which only enhanced the Iacocca mystique.
After Mr. Iacocca, then 54, accepted an offer to run Chrysler, found a company badly mismanaged — “Nobody knew who was on first,” he said — and hemorrhaging cash.
John Riccardo, Mr. Iacocca’s predecessor as the Chrysler chairman, had already been traveling to Washington seeking help from Congress in the form of tax credits and the easing of federal regulations, but Riccardo had won little support.
Only as a last resort, Mr. Iacocca said, did the company ask for federal loan guarantees. As he later said, “There was no other choice except bankruptcy.”
“Loan guarantees, I soon learned, were as American as apple pie,” he wrote in his autobiography. “Among those who had received them were electric companies, farmers, railroads, chemical companies, ship builders, small businessmen of every description, college students and airlines.”
He was on national television newscasts asking Congress to approve federal loan guarantees for Chrysler, which the company eventually received. The exposure he received through these appearances and Chrysler commercials propelled Mr. Iacocca into a national celebrity.
The architect of this effort was Leo-Arthur Kelmenson, chief executive of what then was Kenyon & Eckhardt, the advertising agency that had at great risk quit its long-standing client, Ford, to work for Chrysler at Mr. Iacocca’s behest.
Kelmenson devised an ad campaign that asked bluntly, “Would America be better off without Chrysler?” The answer clearly was no, the ad suggested.
Also from Kelmenson came the idea to feature Mr. Iacocca in the television commercials for Chrysler cars. It was rare, if not unprecedented, for such advertisements to feature chief executives in person, but Kelmenson argued that television footage of Mr. Iacocca in the flesh would give the commercials a credibility and heft they could gain in no other way.
There was an element of patriotism in the Iacocca message. By the 1980s, the American automobile industry was no longer the globally dominating colossus it had been. Foreign cars had established deep inroads. Mr. Iacocca liked to mention that the cars he was selling were made in America, which conveyed a less-than-subliminal thought that to buy a Chrysler product was to strike a blow on behalf of the U.S.A. against foreign intrusion.
In addition to aggressive cost-cutting measures, Mr. Iacocca boosted Chrysler finances with strong sales of the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager minivans. On those sales and the acquisition of American Motors in 1987 — the maker of the Jeep brand — lay the foundation on which Mr. Iacocca rebuilt Chrysler.
The firm had a long history teetering between sizable profits and losses, and Mr. Iacocca could never entirely keep it in the black. He retired in 1992 but remained a consultant at $500,000 a year.
In 1995, he backed billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian’s unsuccessful $23 billion hostile takeover bid for Chrysler. This led to an attempt by the car company to block Mr. Iacocca from exercising $42 million in stock options, claiming he gave away confidential information. He sued, and the claim was settled out of court for $21 million.
Mr. Iacocca’s first wife died in 1983. Mr. Iacocca’s later marriages, to advertising executive Peggy Johnson and restaurateur Darrien Earle, ended in divorce. In addition to his daughter, of Laguna Beach, Calif., survivors include another daughter from his first marriage, Kathryn “Kate” Iacocca Hentz of Cohasset, Mass.; a sister; and eight grandchildren.
In retirement, Mr. Iacocca remained outspoken about the business he knew best.
He was dismissive of Chrysler’s merger in 1998 with the German automaker Daimler-Benz, a union that fell apart less than a decade later amid a clash of corporate cultures. Chrysler was sold to the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, which in 2009 allowed Italian carmaker Fiat a large minority stake in Chrysler.
Even in later years, Mr. Iacocca maintained an aura of success. In recent years, he was often invited back to Chrysler give pep rallies as the company continued to cut jobs and suffer amid rising gas prices, economic turmoil and plummeting sales.
He also returned to serve as pitchman, helping the company appeal to different demographics by appearing in commercials with “Seinfeld” actor Jason Alexander and the rapper Snoop Dogg.
In one TV spot, Mr. Iacocca’s famous pitch line — “If you can find a better car, buy it!” — gets a hip-hop translation by Snoop Dog: “If the ride is more fly, then you must buy.” When Mr. Iacocca tells viewers the car is a good deal, Snoop Dogg replies, “Fo shizzle, I-ka-zizzle.”
“He’s just a good kid,” Mr. Iacocca told USA Today about his co-star. “I didn’t understand half the things he was telling me, but it was fun.”
From Washington Post.
Classic Cruisers 4th of July Show - Click to see all the photos
DMV sends out notices for registration renewal about 60 days before the registration expires. You would get an envelope in the mail with the renewal form that you could fill out, enclose a check and mail back to DMV. A few days later you get your new registration and stickers for your vehicle.
In April of 2017 DMV decided to try something different. Yellow postcards were sent as a pilot project to get people to register online instead of by mail or going to a customer service center where you had to wait and were charged an extra $5. The first pilot project increased online registrations by 40% and saved DMV $25,000 in postage. Next DMV sent 111,000 renewal-reminder postcards to owners and expects to save $325,000 annually by increasing the number of renewals online.
Now DMV plans to send the yellow postcards to everyone except those who have no online account with the DMV - they will get registration packets in the mail. But everybody who’s got an online account will be receiving renewal reminder postcards. More than 3.4 million people have online accounts with the agency.
I got a yellow postcard despite the fact that I have no online account with DMV. But hey, we all know DMV makes mistakes. You have to go online and put in your title number and the last four digits of your VIN, select the number of years you wish to renew for, mark if you have insurance and if your vehicle is personal or business. You can pay online by check or credit card.
DMV Commissioner Richard Holcomb said the program was part of a series of initiatives designed to encourage customers to use online services when practical, rather than make a trip to a DMV office.
“This allows our employees to focus on more complicated transactions that must be conducted in a DMV customer-service center,” Holcomb said.
After I got my first yellow postcard I noticed that I had gotten no notice on one vehicle and its registration sticker had expired. So I had to pay an additional $10. DMV apparently never bothered to mail me a notice on that vehicle. I wonder if this is a new pilot project to save even more money by not bothering to mail notices. Plus DMV picks up an additional ten bucks. I send the commissioner an email telling him how happy I am with this "new program". And if DMV is going to save $325K a year on the yellow postcard program then what are they going to spend that money for?
Heavy Rebel 2019 Show - click to see all the photos
Street Dreams Cruisers 4th Annual Car, Truck and Bike Show - Click to see all the photos
From Rock Auto
When I was around 17, my girlfriend drove a Ford Tempo. Her parents would have the car serviced at a local oil change place and would spend about $30 or so for an oil change. I thought that was an absurd amount of money, and I told them I could do it myself for much cheaper.
So I went home and got my tools, then proceeded to drain the oil, but when I tried to remove the filter, it just spun about a quarter turn and stopped. I remember my dad telling me that stabbing a screwdriver through the filter can gain you leverage. I did that, and the filter only spun about an 1/8 of a turn more...all the while it was being torn apart by the twisting action of the screwdriver. I went and got a strap wrench and tried that. This filter still would not move. My girlfriend's parents were starting to worry that the oil change shop had damaged the engine as the filter was so difficult to remove.
Eventually a friend showed up, and in just a few seconds, was able to easily remove what was left of the oil filter! It was then I realized I was turning it the wrong way! I made him swear that he would not tell my girlfriend's parents as he walked away laughing. Lesson learned.
Rob in Florida
Late Great Chevy NAPA Car Show - Click to see all the photos
Volkswagen is halted production of the last version of its Beetle model in July at its plant in Puebla, Mexico. It's the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a history spanning the eight decades since 1938.
It has been: a part of Germany's darkest hours as a never-realized Nazi prestige project. A symbol of Germany's postwar economic renaissance and rising middle-class prosperity. An example of globalization, sold and recognized all over the world. An emblem of the 1960s counterculture in the U.S. Above all, the car remains a landmark in design, as recognizable as the Coca-Cola bottle.
The car's original design -- a rounded silhouette with seating for four or five, nearly vertical windshield and the air-cooled engine in the rear -- can be traced back to Austrian engineer Ferdinand Porsche, who was hired to fulfill German dictator Adolf Hitler's project for a "people's car" that would spread auto ownership the way the Ford Model T had in the U.S.
Relaunched as a civilian carmaker under supervision of the British occupation authorities, the Volkswagen factory was transferred in 1949 to the Germany government and the state of Lower Saxony, which still owns part of the company. By 1955, the 1 millionth Beetle -- officially called the Type 1 -- had rolled off the assembly line in what's now the town of Wolfsburg.
The U.S. became Volkswagen's most important foreign market, peaking at 563,522 cars in 1968, or 40% of production. Unconventional, sometimes humorous advertising from agency Doyle Dane Bernbach urged car buyers to "Think small."
"Unlike in West Germany, where its low price, quality and durability stood for a new postwar normality, in the United States the Beetle's characteristics lent it a profoundly unconventional air in a car culture dominated by size and showmanship," wrote Bernhard Rieger in his 2013 history, "The People's Car."
Production at Wolfsburg ended in 1978 as newer front-drive models like the Golf took over. But the Beetle wasn't dead yet. Production went on in Mexico from 1967 until 2003 — longer than the car had been made in Germany. Nicknamed the "vochito," the car made itself at home as a rugged, Mexican-made "carro del pueblo."
The New Beetle — a completely remodeled retro version build on a modified Golf platform — resurrected some of the old Beetle's cute, unconventional aura in 1998 under CEO Ferdinand Piech, Ferdinand Porsche's grandson. In 2012, the Beetle's design was made a bit sleeker. The last of 5,961 Final Edition versions is headed for a museum after ceremonies in Puebla on July 10 to mark the end of production.
About 100 cars got stuck on a muddy dirt road Colorado on Sunday when Google Maps diverted traffic around the scene of an accident near Denver International Airport, where many of the drivers were headed. Recent rain had turned the unpaved section of E. 64th Ave into a sloppy mess, and several cars got stuck tying up traffic, Fox 31 News reported. “We take many factors into account when determining driving routes, including the size of the road and the directness of the route,” Google said in a statement on the incident. “While we always work to provide the best directions, issues can arise due to unforeseen circumstances such as weather. We encourage all drivers to follow local laws, stay attentive, and use their best judgment while driving.” According to Denver 7, it is privately owned and maintained, but local authorities are not clear if it was supposed to be closed to public traffic.
The last front-engine Chevrolet Corvette won't be built until September, but it was sold on Friday night for an astonishing price. The next-generation Corvette coming in 2020 will be a mid-engine model, the first in the history of the iconic sports car. The rights to the last of the current Corvettes were auctioned for charity at the Barrett-Jackson Northeast event in Connecticut, where the high bid was $2.7 million. The identity of the buyer has not been revealed, but the price paid set a record for a Barrett-Jackson charity auction. The entire amount will be donated to the Steven Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation to build mortgage-free smart homes for service members who have suffered devastating injuries in the line of duty.
Oregon’s Republican state senators will return to the Capitol on Saturday following a weeklong walkout over a proposed climate change cap-and-trade bill, Senate Minority Leader Herman Baertschiger Jr. (R) announced on Friday. “Our mission walking out of this building was to kill cap and trade,” Baertschiger said at a press conference. “And that’s what we did.” Eleven Republican senators fled the state last week in order to deny Democrats the necessary quorum to vote on and pass an expansive greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade bill. But chaos quickly ensued as Gov. Kate Brown (D) authorized state troopers to find and retrieve them and threats of violence emerged. Though the Democratic Party holds an 18-11 majority in the state Senate, Oregon law requires 20 senators be in attendance to hold session. With all of the GOP Senate members in hiding, the Senate was unable to vote on any legislation for eight days and the bill — once expected to pass — now faces almost certain death.
The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles lapse in processing out-of-state suspensions was discovered in the aftermath of a horrific crash in Randolph, New Hampshire, in which Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, a 23-year-old truck driver, crossed a double-yellow line, collided with a group of bikers and killed seven motorcyclists. In all, 876 Massachusetts drivers whose out-of-state traffic infractions had previously been overlooked have now had their licenses suspended in the two weeks since a deadly motorcycle crash in New Hampshire exposed severe deficiencies within the RMV. A total of 1,106 new suspensions – including alcohol-related violations that weren't tracked – have been processed. Some drivers have accounted for multiple suspensions. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, and the state's transportation secretary, Stephanie Pollack, provided the updated figures at a news conference Friday, vowing to fix the problems that have plagued the RMV. That includes an RMV staff reorganization.
A gender reveal party on Australia's Gold Coast took a dramatic turn as a car used to spew blue smoke suddenly ignited. The Queensland Police Service released footage of the incident, which took place on April 18 last year, to warn about the dangers of 'burnouts,' an increasingly popular feature of gender reveal parties in Australia. On several occasions over the past year, gender reveal 'burnouts' - in which cars emit billowing clouds of pink or blue smoke - have resulted in flaming vehicles and arrests. In the latest drone video released by police, the big reveal initially goes as planned, with celebrating guests filming as the car drives down a road, engulfed in blue smoke. After it comes to a stop, however, the car bursts into flames, and the driver and guests are forced to abandon it. It sits in the middle of the road on fire, amid plumes of smoke that is now black. A 29-year-old man was subsequently convicted of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, a spokesperson for the Queensland Police Service told CNN. Dangerous gender reveal parties aren't isolated to Australia. In November last year, the US Forest Service released a video of an April 2017 party in Arizona, which sparked a wildfire that burned almost 47,000 acres of land and caused more than $8 million in damage.
WD-40's stock had its best day in more than six years Wednesday after it said customers stockpiled the product ahead of a price increase. The chemical manufacturer reported third quarter-earnings late Tuesday that beat expectations. Sales rose 7% to $114 million for the quarter, which the company said was bolstered by especially strong North American sales as customers stocked up on their grease and cleaning products. The company's shares were up 8.6% Wednesday. WD-40 (WDFC) CEO Garry Ridge said in a release that its North American customers were "buying high volumes of product in advance of our planned price increases in the region." WD-40 announced it was hiking prices a year ago. It hiked prices predominantly because of rising commodity prices, although steel and aluminum tariffs had raised its canning costs somewhat as well.
The reason the Ford Model-T was black was because it was the only paint that would dry fast enough to keep pace with the production process.
A drunk Utah man discovered an injured baby bird and decided to hail an Uber to get it to a wildlife treatment center. The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah said it received a call last week from a man who'd “had too many” drinks. But he'd found a baby lesser goldfinch struggling on the ground and wanted to save it. So, as the man was too drunk to drive, he heroically called an Uber to save the bird, according to The Associated Press. The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah posted the story on Facebook along with images of the bird, whom they've nicknamed “Petey.” “NO, seriously, this little orphaned Lesser Goldfinch was the sole occupant of an Uber vehicle for a ride to WRCNU yesterday,” the post read. “While we feel we've seen it all and can't be amazed by anything, there is always SOMEONE out there to prove us wrong. Thank you to the rescuer who helped this little one get the care it needed in a timely manner and thank you for keeping yourself safe and others on the road safe as well!” The center’s director Dalyn Marthaler told the AP that the bird was thin and dehydrated but they expect it to make a full recovery.
A toddler who was reported missing in Minnesota on Thursday night (July 18) turned out not to be in too much danger — he just wanted to go back to the fair. The Chisago County Fair kicked off Thursday night in Rush City, Minn. Police dispatchers received a call that evening from a father who had taken his 2 1/2-year-old son to the fair, which is located right down the street from their house. The boy went missing after they got home, and as local news station WTHR 13 reports, Chisago County Sheriff's sergeant Jason Foster says the boy was simply determined to return to the fair, so he jumped on his battery-powered toy John Deere tractor and headed back to the fairgrounds on his own. According to WTHR, the boy's family home is just a block from the fair, and he can see the rides from his house. So it was simple enough for him to drive straight down the sidewalk and into the back gate of the fairgrounds, where evidently the sight of a toddler riding a toy John Deere tractor didn't stand out enough for anyone to stop him. A police deputy who was working the fair that night located the boy just minutes after dispatchers received the call reporting him missing. The boy had driven straight to his favorite ride, the Tilt-a-Whirl, where the deputy found him. The Chisago County Sheriff's Office turned to Facebook to post a picture of the getaway vehicle and give an update on the boy, writing, "He was reunited with Dad who promptly suspended his son's license by removing the battery from it."
1954 Buick wagon
Sign at this link: www.votervoice.net/SEMA/campaigns/45394/respond
2019 marks a new session of Congress. Bills that did not become law at the end of 2018 must be reintroduced for consideration.
UPDATE TO THE RPM ACT - click link below
Over-the-air upgrades (OTA) have become a popular talking point ever since Tesla debuted the feature on the Model S, so it’s no surprise that Chevrolet has added the capability to the new C8 Corvette. While OTA upgrades should save some trips to the dealer for small software reflashes, they also bring more complexity for those tinkerers that want to modify the factory computers.
Allowing OTA access to any vehicle requires better security and encryption, and the Corvette system will be no different. The basis of the electrical system in the C8 is the brand new General Motors “Global B” architecture. It comes with a variety of computers, such as the E99 engine control module that plugs into it. This increased level of security yields ECUs that have stronger encryption with fluid coding that is VIN-specific and harder to crack. Many of the modules require a piece of code from the GM side in order to be modified.
This development makes it harder for tuners to change the code in the ECU. They don’t have the other piece of the puzzle—the calculation that is done on the GM side to verify that the code in the ECU calculates out to a valid checksum. Some have made claims that this will render the new Corvette “un-tunable” by the aftermarket, but as Car and Driver correctly pointed out a couple of months ago, the electrical architecture and ECUs are not necessarily completely tied together and although they are symbiotic, they can still be modified separately.
Luckily, GM decided to test this new E99 ECU before the C8, when it was installed in the C7 ZR1. In hindsight this seems like a smart play, as it allows GM to get data back on the ECU from a lower-volume model before it spreads it to the whole line. A nice side effect, too, is that the aftermarket got a head start to crack the code.
While the E99 ECU cannot be directly programmed like previous GM ECUs, there are ways to get into it, as already proven by LS tuner powerhouse HPTuners. This Illinois-based outfit started working on the E99 ECU as soon as the ZR1 was released, and after some attempts at cracking the code, they found a way to reflash the ECU to accept changes from their software. These reflashes cannot be completed on a stock ECU, given the risk the system could possibly be bricked, so customers will require a specially modified ECU ordered from HPTuners if they want to get crafty.
The specially modified ECU adds around $2000 to the tuning cost if you’re sending your original unit to them as a core, or $2500 if you want to keep your ECU. The notes on the modified ECU state that it can only be modified with HPTuners software and tools so it’s probably a wise decision to keep the original ECU in case you want to return the vehicle to stock condition or enable updates from GM. In addition to the ECU cost, the software license requires additional credits from HPTuners, which is likely a reflection of the research and development cost that was put in on their side in order to unlock it.
Once the modified ECU is received from HPTuners, it still requires a few extra steps (and possibly a visit to the dealer), as the engine immobilizer is tied to the ECU and installation requires an immobilizer relearn by the GM dealer tool. Luckily, the relearn functionality is also available through the Service Programming System (SPS) which is available to independent shops and individual for those that don’t want to flatbed their Corvette over to a Chevy dealer.
Those that wish to use the new LT2 engine as a swap in another application shouldn’t be worried about these costs; it is very likely that GM will release an ECU kit once the engine is available in crate form. An ECU kit is already available for the LT5 engine from the ZR1, which contains the aforementioned E99 ECU, so it is likely that the LT2 engine may actually become cross-compatible with that crate engine ECU kit at some point. The standalone ECU kit may be a consideration by some Corvette owners but it cannot be used in OEM applications as it is not meant to interface with the other modules in the car and is only intended for use in swaps for other vehicles.
GM seems to have squeezed even more power out of the small-block but tuners are surely working on other ideas. The fact that the foundation for tuning options is already available bodes well for those considering a C8 Corvette purchase that they plan to modify.
Black coupe with orange flames
The Hagerty home offices in Traverse City recently received an absolutely wonderful gift: a comprehensive selection of Big Three dealership brochures spanning the period from Woodstock to the Vans Warped Tour. I was drawn to it like the proverbial moth to the proverbial dumpster fire, flipping excitedly through promotional materials for the Chevette and the mid-1970s Mercury Monarch as if I could rekindle the rabid automotive enthusiasm of my youth just by seeing a few carefully-staged pictures of young people ooh-ing and aah-ing over a beach-stranded Jeep CJ-7 or Ford Ranchero.
I have to admit, it kind of worked. If anybody knows where I can find a nice Cadillac Calais coupe at a can’t-miss price, please feel free to email me care of Hagerty magazine. Suddenly it’s 1970!
After about an hour of greedily consuming the old dealer books, I realized that there were two fundamental differences between the marketing of way back then and the Brochures Of What’s Happening Now. First difference: they were not afraid to appeal to adults operating in a functional society. The trope of “two well-dressed 45-year-old couples attending a dinner party at someone’s home” is omnipresent; one has no trouble looking at a Lincoln book from 1975 and imagining the people in it attending the sort of black-tie residential affairs which litter the pages of novels by John Updike and John Barth.
The second difference: the automakers were not afraid to appeal directly to young buyers. Not just through the photos or descriptions but through the products themselves. There was never any shortage of cheap-and-cheerful options from everyone up to and including Cadillac, whose aforementioned Calais was expressly marketed to young strivers looking to get behind the wreath-and-crest just a few years before the rest of their graduating class. Almost any car you could order from 1968–88 was available with what I’ll call Youth Equipment: stripes, loud colors, cheap interior, nice wheels. From Plymouth Road Runner to Ranger Splash, there was a deliberate and calculated attempt to catch the eye of first-time new-car customers.
You will search in vain for that mindset today. By the time the bodies hit the TARP in 2008, automakers had more or less consigned the under-40 crowd to the waste bin of history. New product offerings went from cheap-and-cheerful (think Chevette Scooter, Toyota Celica ST, BMW 318ti) to cheap-and-drab (think the entire Kia lineup, the insipid ninth-generation Civics, the Dodge Caliber). The purpose was no longer to get young people in the showrooms. Instead, it was to offer bailout-weary Baby Boomers a chance at buying a new car with a warranty.
It makes me think of a spring day in 1987 where I pointed a finger out the window of my grandfather’s Rolls-Royce-grilled, canary-yellow Eldorado at a Hyundai Excel with an aftermarket vinyl top and Continental kit while driving toward Clearwater Beach. The old man chuckled, “That’s for grandparents who are down on their luck.” Well, virtually every “affordable” car on the market today, from the Honda HR-V to the Ford EcoSport, feels like it was made for grandparents who are down on their luck. Surely no young man out there feels his heart beating faster at the sight of a Toyota C-HR, and no young woman dreams of driving A1A or Highway 1 in a Hyundai Tucson. It’s the Buick Encore’s world now. We’re all just living in it.
No doubt a few of my auto-industry insider friends have made it to this point in the column and are now sputtering, “B-b-b-b-but we are busting our tails to provide electric vehicles, and ride sharing, and mobility-solution sidewalk-trash scooters!”
To which I respond, “What does that have to do with making cars for young people? Who told you that young people don’t want cars? A focus group made up of Manhattan-based media people? A bunch of Chicago apartment denizens?”
The oh-so-predictable response to that is, “Young people can’t afford cars anyway!”
To which I say, “No, young people can’t afford $24,000 HR-V EX-L AWD automatic-transmission transportation pods with all the charm of pre-chewed gum. Why don’t you try making a car a young person would actually want to buy?”
And my friends will say, “Well, we can’t risk a billion-dollar program on a product that young people might not want when it actually debuts.”
This would be laughable if it wasn’t pathetic. The same companies that think nothing of wasting nine-figure sums on electric boondoggles and bizarre social engineering projects all of a sudden have a case of the shorts when it comes to actually making a car? Why do you hate your buyers so much? Why will you spend money on scooters, glorified golf carts, ride shares, rental cars, historic buildings, political party funding—anything and everything BUT building the next Mustang or Celica or S-10?
I don’t know exactly when it became hip for car companies, razor companies, video game companies, and nearly every other kind of American industry to express obvious contempt for their own customers through their marketing, their PR, and their product choices, but I can tell you this: the first player to get off that particular brain-dead Ferris wheel will reap huge benefits.
In a perfect world, I’d close this column with a completely bankable description of the perfect car for young buyers. I can’t do it; I’m too old and I don’t have access to enough data. I can, however, suggest some ideas:
•It has to be cheap, small, and useful. Think Dacia Duster, think Dodge Rampage, think Issigonis-designed Mini, think first-generation Renault Twingo.
•It has to be classless, the way the Beetle and the aforementioned Mini were. It has to be such a brilliant and iconic design that rich people will also want one.
•It has to be dead reliable and easy to understand.
•Most importantly, it can’t be electric, and it can’t be a “mobility product.” That’s been tried over and over again, at a cost that makes the F-35 look like microwave popcorn, and it’s never succeeded. It has to be a real car that people are not ashamed to own.
The next group of potential new car buyers—the “Zoomers,” or Generation Z—are not scaled-down versions of Baby Boomers. They might be perfectly happy with hard plastic seats, or 80-horsepower engines, or infotainment systems consisting of nothing but a Bluetooth module and a volume knob. You won’t know until you give them a chance to vote with their wallets. But you have to stop thinking of them as spoiled brats who just want to ride a scooter around Venice Beach. They are real people. They have money problems, health problems, parents to support, sometimes even children to feed. Take them seriously, and they’ll return the favor.
If there’s an automaker out there that wants to jump-start their face time with Gen Z, I do have one suggestion: Make a $9999 front-wheel drive mini pickup truck. Equip it like a 1984 Toyota half-ton, which is to say, a vinyl seat and a single-layer bed and no frills whatsoever. Give the kids a chance to haul their paddle boards and dirt bikes and whatnot to the lake, the beach, wherever. Give them something aspirational but affordable, cheap but cheerful, basic but usable. Bright colors, big stripes, fun names.
Who knows? You might sell a million of them. Even if you don’t, it will make one heck of a brochure for my successors to read in the Hagerty archives, some pleasant July weekend 30 years from now.
You never know what you will see at a show
Below is a link to Fuel Testers - a website that is opposed to more ethanol in gasoline and would like to preserve our ability to purchase gasoline free of ethanol.
As promised I have a document about titling antique vehicles posted below for download. This contains information from the DMV speakers at the August 2015 meeting and some other information that I hope you will find useful. If in doubt about anything email or call the DMV administrators in the document; I have their contact information listed. And for the millionth time be sure to check to see if the VIN matches the VIN on the vehicle before buying it. This can save you a lot of trouble - just ask anyone who has purchased a vehicle without a matching VIN. There is also valuable info on purchasing an older vehicle from a non-title state. If you are thinking about buying a vehicle from a non-title state be sure to read it. Link to the document: Antique Vehicle Titling and Registration. I also have a bill of sale for use in buying or selling an antique vehicle: Bill of Sale; and a bill of sale for use if the signatures need to be notarized: Bill of Sale.
You may also find these links useful. The following link goes to the National Insurance Crime Bureau where you can put in a VIN that will be checked for fraud and theft at no cost. The link is www.nicb.org/theft_and_fraud_awareness/vincheck. You should do some research on the vehicle you are thinking about buying, check the VIN to make sure it matches the vehicle and of course make sure the VIN on the vehicle and title match.
The next link goes to Stolen Car Reports, another free service. At this site you can register a stolen vehicle. You can also search a zip code, city or area for the vehicles that were stolen from that area. The link is www.stolencarreports.com/report/Search.
The council delegates have approved the flyer with information on antique plates and a link to it is online here: flyer opens to a new window. Council members and antique owners may print the flyer for their own reference or distribute it to those who own or are considering registering a vehicle as an antique. It will remain on the site for an undetermined time. Council delegates will review the effectiveness of the flyer at a later date.
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