Thursday, July 18, 2013

Breaking News: Detroit files for bankruptcy protection.

While breaking, this story really comes as now surprise to me that the City of Detroit has filed for chapter 9 bankruptcy protection.

In a surprise move today, the city's state appointed emergency manager, Kevyn Orr asked for permission to put the city under Chapter 9 protection this afternoon in court. Currently, Detroit is $18.5 billion dollars in dept. Currently, the Governor of Michigan has to sign off on the bankruptcy since it is the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

Details are still forthcoming so we will be posting updates as we find them.

Source: Detroit News.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Legendary hot rodder, Dean Jeffries, dead at 80.

Perhaps best known for much of his work that was claimed by George Barris, Dean Jeffries was one of the most legendary men in automotive culture. He was the complete package. He was a metal worker, a painter, a designer, a car builder, stuntman. He did it all. I mean, where do you begin?

Jeffries was born in Lynwood, California in February 1933. He had dreamed of attending the Art Center in Pasadena, but instead of doing well in school he gravitated toward cars like most teens do, learning from his  father who was a mechanic. While stationed in Germany during his stint in the Army, he learned the art of pinstriping from a furniture and piano striper, and upon returning home to California, he continued to learn from Kenneth “Von Dutch” Howard. This landed him a  job as the in-house pinstriper for George Barris. Along the way, he learned how to shape metal, as well, and began to take the customization of his clients’ cars further; during that time, he not only striped James Dean’s infamous Porsche 550 Spyder with the nickname “Li’l Bastard,” but also built Chili Catallo’s 1932 Ford three-window coupe, the one that the Beach Boys used on the cover of their Little Deuce Coupe album.

Jeffries also did work for Caroll Shelby. He painted the first Cobra as a favor to Shelby. He sympathized with Shelby’s effort to get the car done on a budget. “The body was a disaster, all heliarced and torched up. I had only three days from start to finish. I asked Shelby what color he wanted, and he said, ‘Any color you want.’ So, not knowing if it was right or wrong, I painted it pearl yellow because I had heard on TV that yellow stood out the best.” Shelby would later provide Jeffries with a Weber-topped Ford V-8 and four-speed transmission for Jeffries’s Mantaray, an asymmetrical single-seater based on a 1939 Maserati 8CTF Grand Prix chassis.

After leaving Barris' shop. Jeffries set up shop in Hollywood. This attracted plenty of celebrity clientele and made way for jobs creating and customizing cars for the movies and for the stars, including the Monkeemobile, the Chrysler Imperial based Black Beauty from The Green Hornet television series, and the Landmaster from Damnation Alley. He didn’t restrict himself to Hollywood cars, however: He also designed and manufactured the Kyote Volkswagen based dune buggies and built a number of custom and concept cars for Ford Motor Company, including a gullwing-door show car called the Cougar, the Falcon Python show car, and the Ford GT40. He also did some construction and painting for several Indy Car teams. 

Jeffries also worked for a while as a stuntman. During the production of Honky Tonk Freeway in 1980, Jeffries performed a jump stunt with a truck in which he broke his back. He also performed stunts in The Blues Brothers and Fletch. What he will mostly rememberh him for if not through his cars then through his feud with George Barris, brought on by Barris’s habit of taking credit for Jeffries’s work throughout the years. “He couldn’t put a dent into something, never mind taking one out, but he’s a hell of a promoter, believe me,” Jeffries said. Barris retorted that he couldn’t “control what magazines write and who they list as the designer and builder.”

Jeffries remained very active in the industry until about five years ago and still maintained a shop in Hollywood. 

Source & Photos: Hemmings Motor News & The Jalopy Journal

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Tesla Model S. The best car. EVER

In some news out of left field. The folks from Consumer Reports have come out an announced that the Tesla Model S is bar none, the BEST car they have ever tested. Interesting because of the fact that it is a full electric car. But that's also one of the biggest reasons why CR says it's the best. Styling is uniquely Tesla, and looks like nothing else on the road. Inside, a 17 inch touch screen panel controls just about everything in the car. Now how it is better than say a VW Jetta TDI?

Well, I'm not sure other than you can take the Jetta on long road trips. The Model S can handle say Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Longer trips are possible thanks to a network of supercharged charging stations that can charge the battery from empty to half full in about a half hour. However, expect a full charge to take 12 hours using normal 240 volt home electric. That can be cut down with an optional charger from Tesla that takes about 5 hours to recharge.

Sticker price for the Model S comes in at a hefty $90,000 give or take a couple hundred bucks. And lets face it. Frankly, it's not a Prius, and that's why we like it. Even though we still prefer our cars to suck gas, not electricity.

So, while it may not fit the need for everyone, it's pretty darn close for some. Unfortunately, for those of us here in Pittsburgh, and the rest of Pennsylvania for that matter. There are no Tesla dealers. There is a service center in Philadelphia, but the closest dealer is in Tysons Corner, Virginia which is just outside of Washington D.C. That is partially due to Tesla's troubles with their store style of dealer system that has the national and state dealer associations up in arms. And that's not to mention the other financial troubles that have hounded Tesla.

Here's hoping that Tesla sticks around for a while. 

Source: Consumer Reports, Tesla Motors.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Trying something new

Now know you love cars, and everything associated with them. Did you know that you can buy almost anything from Amazon? Sure you did. Well, of course there's costs associated with maintaining the blog and as a way to help keep the lights on, we've partnered with Amazon. So if you're looking to buy anything on Amazon, come here to Autobahn Automotive News first and click through on any of the Amazon banners on the main page. Then, whatever you buy on Amazon, we'll get a tiny percentage of whatever you spend. It's a win win. And you can get anything you want on Amazon with (to take one from Larry Miller), an actual Amazon.

Happy Birtday Mustang! And a special milestone.

April 17th, 1964. That was the day that the automotive world was turned on it's ear. It was on this day that Ford Motor Company unveiled the all new 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang. Launched at the New York Worlds Fair, the Mustang quickly rose to be Ford's best selling car since the Model A. It also launched the pony car craze that led to the muscle car. Ford sold over 400,000 Mustangs in 1964. 100,000 of which were sold in the first 3 months of production.

That leads us to today's milestone. 49 years to the day of the introduction of the Mustang, Ford's Flat Rock, Michigan plant produced it's 1 millionth Mustang. Production of the Mustang was moved to Flat Rock from the famous Rouge factory in 2004 for the launch of the redesigned 2005 Mustang. Since 1964, over 8.5 million Mustangs have been tearing up American roads.

The car, a ruby red 2014 convertible was driven off the line by Raj Nair, Ford's Vice President for global product development. The production of the 1 millionth Flat Rock Mustang also helps to launch the 50th anniversary year of the Mustang. 

Source: Ford Motor Co.

Press release:

FLAT ROCK, Mich., April 17, 2013 – Happy Birthday Mustang! Forty-nine years to the day after its 1964 debut in New York, the iconic sports car celebrates another milestone: One million Mustangs have rolled off the line at Ford’s Flat Rock Assembly Plant since production moved there in 2004. Ford is celebrating this milestone as year 50 of continuous Mustang production gets under way at Flat Rock Assembly.
Raj Nair, group vice president for global product development, today rode off the line at Flat Rock Assembly Plant in a Ruby Red 2014 Mustang convertible. Nair was riding shotgun with Ed Salna, material planning and logistics manager at the plant. Salna is a 27-year veteran of Flat Rock Assembly, starting work there more than a year before the plant produced its first car.
“Mustang is one of the most beloved nameplates in the industry, with fans around the world and throughout Ford Motor Company,” said Nair. “The team here at Flat Rock Assembly has built an outstanding reputation for quality while producing one million Mustangs over the last nine years, and we expect that to continue for many years to come.”
Ford has built Mustangs near its home base in Dearborn, Mich. for 49 years. The car was built at Ford’s famous Rouge factory, just a few minutes from company headquarters, for four decades before moving a few miles south to Flat Rock in 2004.
Introduced in April 1964, Mustang proved to be far more popular than anyone expected, prompting Ford to add production capacity outside Michigan. By early 1965 plants in Metuchen, N.J. and San Jose, Calif. were also building Mustang. Less than two years later, on Wednesday, March 2, 1966, the one-millionth Mustang rolled off the line in Dearborn. To date, Ford has produced and sold more than 8.5 million Mustangs.
The launch of Mustang production at Flat Rock coincided with introduction of the then all-new fifth-generation model – first in the series to get a dedicated platform. In addition to the standard V6 and the V8-powered GT model, Mustangs coming out of Flat Rock Assembly Plant have included several special editions and race cars:
  • In 2006 Flat Rock built a limited run of black and gold Shelby GT-H coupes for Hertz rental fleets to commemorate the 1966 Shelby GT350H rental car
  • 2007 brought the debut of the Shelby GT500 Mustang developed by SVT with a supercharged 5.4-liter V8 producing 500 horsepower, the most ever for a Mustang then
  • For the 2008 and 2009 model years, the Mustang lineup included the Bullitt, inspired by the car driven by the title character in the 1968 film of the same name
  • For the 2012 and 2013 model years, Flat Rock built the track-optimized Boss 302
  • The Flat Rock line has produced numerous competition versions of Mustang including the FR500, Boss 302R and the extremely successful Cobra Jet drag racer
The Flat Rock factory has been producing vehicles since 1987, when it opened as Mazda Motor Manufacturing USA and built the Mazda MX-6. In 1992 Ford purchased a 50 percent share in the plant and it was renamed AutoAlliance International. Over the years Flat Rock Assembly has produced the Mazda 626, Mazda6, Mercury Cougar and Ford Probe. In addition to Mustang, Flat Rock will add production of the Fusion sedan later this year.
“Flat Rock has gone through an amazing transformation over the past year,” said Tim Young, plant manager, Flat Rock Assembly Plant. “We’ve invested $555 million including a state-of-the-art, fully flexible body shop and an upgraded paint shop to make sure we’re continuing to build the best of the best for the next one million Mustangs.”
“The one-millionth Mustang is a true testament to the hard work and dedication of the Flat Rock Local 3000 membership,” said Tony Bondy, UAW Local 3000 chairman. “It’s been great building an iconic American car since 2004, and with the introduction of Fusion along with our new plant upgrades, we will keep building world-class quality in Flat Rock for years to come.”
Ford is adding 1,400 jobs and a second shift at Flat Rock Assembly Plant to support new Fusion production as part of its plan to add 12,000 hourly jobs in the United States through 2015.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

51st annual Pittsburgh World of Wheels

It's that time of year again kiddies. The start of the car show season in Pittsburgh. The 51st annual Pittsburgh World of Wheels begins this Friday, January 25th. We'll be covering the event in detail in case you can't make it. This year, hot rod legend Gene Winfield will be on hand performing a chop on a one lucky person's car.

There will also be a display of Batmobiles, the Munster Koach along with Butch Patrick, The ZZ Top Eliminator, Herbie the Love Bug, and much more. There is a special BeetleMania display with some of the finest Volkswagens in the city on display. The annual 1961 Extreme display of traditional hot rods, customs, rat rod and more. Drag City USA featuring nostalgia race cars. And two popular events, the Builder of the Year (Chuck Lombardo and California Street Rods) and the charity pinstripe auction benefiting the Autism Society.

So come on down to the David L Lawrence Convention Center this weekend. You won't regret it.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

How much for that Batmobile?

If you've ever wanted to be Bruce Wayne and play Batman, the first thing you need aside from a cape and mask is a Batmobile. But Batmobiles just don't grow on trees. And the real deal very rarely shows up for sale in your local auto trader. But last night that all changed. For the last few weeks it's been reported all over the net that George Barris was going to bring Batmobile #1. The original car built for the Batman TV series to the Barrett Jackson Scottsdale auction. And he sure didn't fail to bring the circus with him.

Built from the 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car, which Barris purchased for $1 from Ford Motor Co. , was transformed in a matter of weeks to the cost of $15,000 to play the part in the upcoming Batman TV series in 1966. As Barris put it, the car would go POW! with rocket launchers, BAM! with a chain slicer, ZAP! with an oil slick. All gadgets that would make even James Bond envious. The car eventually led to a handful of fiberglass back up cars being built as the Futura based car had a habit of breaking down on the set. After the show, Barris retained ownership of the car. But enough about that.

The folks at Barrett Jackson said this was a deal three years in the making. And they didn't fail to hype up the car once it was consigned. The Batmobile was definitely the star of the show. There were crowd surrounding the car while it was on display and flock of groupies followed the car and King George as it made its way to the auction block. The crowd on the block was just as impressive at over 20 deep. Craig Jackson and Steve Davis actually had to cut Barris off or he would have talked about the Batmobile for hours. When the bidding started it quickly rose to $1 million, then $2 million before stalling at $2.6 million. The reserve was lifted and bidding again took off. $3 million, $4 million. Two bidders, sitting one in front of the other still were going at it, when they decided to flip a coin for who would win. The winner, Rick Champagne was the winning bidder at $4.2 million dollars. Speed's cameras captured the whole soap opera, and quickly interviewed Champagne who told viewers he's been a buyer at Barrett Jackson for 15 years and he came with all intentions of buying the Batmobile for his collection. He joked that he plans to tear down a wall and park it in his living room.