Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Barrett Jackson to auction JFK Hearse

I'm sure everyone remembers the Barrett Jackson Scottsdale auction  from January 2011 when a 1963 Pontiac Bonneville naval ambulance was sold. A rare vehicle sure, but it was claimed to have been the very ambulance that carried President John F. Kennedy from Andrews Air Force Base to the White House hours after his assassination in Dallas, Tx. Mystery surrounded the car and the lead up time prior to the sale. Was it really the car? Some say yes, lots of facts pointed to no. No one really knew for sure. Either way, the car sold for over $100,000 though no where near what the seller was thinking he'd get.

That brings us to the 1964 Cadillac hearse pictured here. This hearse has a solid, verifiable, and most of all documented history that it was in fact the very hearse to carry President Kennedy from Parkland Hospital in Dallas to the airport to be transported back to Washington D.C.

However, this time around O'neal Funeral Home documented the cars history. The 1964 Miller Meteor bodies Cadillac shows less than 50,000 original miles and is in fantastic condition and shows only 3 owners from new. The hearse has been for sale for a while, going through several auctions being offered for as high as $900,000 in 2007 with no sale. So it should be interesting to see what the car will fetch when it rolls across the block that is the Barrett Jackson circus in a few weeks. I'm sure the car will get coverage on Speed, so make sure you watch January 15th-22nd, 2012. We'll keep you updated.

Source: Hemmings Motor News. Picture: Barrett Jackson.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Breaking Saab news: No more warranty coverage.

Breaking news from Saab. Saab North America will no longer be honoring warranties on Saab vehicles sold in the U.S. Additionally, all new Saabs sold will be sold "as-is" with no warranty coverage what so ever. 

Effective Dec. 19, "warranty coverage is suspended indefinitely for all new Saab vehicles sold. During this period, the warranty booklet must be removed from the owner information packet," Saab Cars North America said in a statement provided to Automotive News.

"For any vehicle sold or leased during this period, the customer should be affirmatively advised that the vehicle does not carry any warranty coverage and is sold 'as is.' "
Saab Cars North America also said it has suspended the processing and payment of all claims, including but not limited to:

• New-car warranties
• Powertrain warranties
• Emission warranties
• Parts warranty
• Safety belts, airbags
• Towing
• Recalls and campaigns
• Certified pre-owned coverage
• Goodwill
• No charge maintenance
Until February of 2010, General Motors handled all warranty claims for Saab, but that had since stopped when Swedish Automobile AB purchased the automaker.
What does this mean for potential sales of new Saabs over the next few weeks/months? Well there probably won't be many. Currenty, Saab says they have 2,400 new Saabs available for purchase nationwide. And with sticker prices well over the $30,000 mark, I don't think too many potential buyers want to shell out that kind of cash on a new car that won't have warranty coverage.  So will dealers be offering huge blowouts on cars in inventory? I can see that on the horizon. But I wouldn't hold my breath on any of these new cars being collectible for the time being. We will keep everyone updated on any further drama on the Saabs of our Lives.

Source: Automotive News.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Who want's to play Steve McQueen?

Also part of this past weekend's Icons of Hollywood auction was the original "Michael Delaney" hero fire suit worn by Steve McQueen in his iconic 1971 film Le Mans. Estimated to sell for $200,000 to $300,000. Bidding went crazy, with a final bid of $800,000, plus a $184,000 buyer premium for a total of $984,000. This may very well be the single most valuable piece of Steve McQueen movie history that isn't a car. And certainly the record for a piece of motorsport memorabilia.  The story goes that the suit was donated The Observer, a British news paper to be given away in a Le Mans contest and was won by a 12 year old boy by the name of Timothy Davies. He sold the suit a number of years later, and probably for a sum no where near this figure.

In August the 1970 Porsche 911S owned and driven by Steve McQueen in the opening sequence of Le Mans set a record sale at $1.375 million dollars.

Source & Photos: Profiles in History.

Genuine Back to the Future DeLorean breaks the bank!

About a month ago Profiles In History, auctioneers of anything and everything celebrity announced that they would be auctioning the one and only screen used DeLorean from the Back to the Future trilogy that is in private hands to highest bidder at their December Icons of Hollywood auction. The DeLorean being offered was used for the final film, and was used extensively when Marty McFly traveled back to 1885. In order for the DeLorean to drive over the rough desert terrain, the running gear was removed and replaced with a custom frame and Volkswagen running gear. As strict warning was given that the electrical system was hacked up because of this, making the car unfit for street use. But in reality, you could make everything function properly. But enough about that. What did it sell for? Pre auction estimates had the DeLorean set between $400,000 and $600,000 dollars.

With an opening bid of $400,000. By the time the hammer fell, the final bid was a mere $440,000. There was a also a $101,200 buyer premium, making the total $541,200 for a one of a kind piece of Hollywood history. And you're certainly going to be the only one on the block with one. If the new owner is out there in cyberspace, PLEASE get in contact with us. We would love to interview you and find out what your plans are.

$500,000 a little too rich? For $30,000 you could have bought Doc's model train and time machine used to show how Doc and Marty would return to 1985. Or how about Doc's wind up Cadillac used to demonstrate how Marty would harness the lightning to travel from 1955 to 1985? That one could have been yours for $18,000. This was just part of the huge collection of props and memorabilia from the film series. And part of the proceeds from the auction of the DeLorean and other film memorabilia and props will be donated to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinsons Research.

Source & Photos: Profiles in History.

Saab files for bankruptcy protection. What's next?

The soap opera that has become Swedish automaker Saab, continues to unravel. The automaker is expected in bankruptcy court today in Sweden where it will find if they are shielded from creditors while a buyer for the company is found.

General Motors, former owner of Saab until their own bankruptcy let them shed the automaker, has been blocking the potential sale of Saab to a Chinese automaker. GM's basis is because they do not want the sharing of GMs platform technology with another competitor that could potentially undercut them in the Chinese market that GM has seen huge success with. And unfortunately, Saab depends on GM's help in that are in order to be able to build cars or at least until Saab has the funds to develop their own technology again. And that really isn't going to happen any time soon.

All the while dealers in the US and around the world have been patiently awaiting cars to be able to sell to customers, and with each passing day, its looking less and less likely they'll see them. So is this the swansong for Saab? Unfortunately it looks like it may very well be. I have always been a fan of the brand and would hate to see them go away, but I think the time has come to envision a world without new Saabs.

Hot Rod of the day: 1940 Ford style

Few cars are as iconic as the 1939/40 Ford. It's a car that symbolizes the Moonshiner. Which in fact the '40 featured below served as in a prior life.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix raises $200,000 for charity

Being a Pittsburgh based car guy and racing fan. I brag about the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix throughout the year. Not only do I show cars and participate in the events, but I also serve as a member of the Car Show Committee. Be it the car shows, the races, the fun of enjoying a nice weekend in the park, what ever fits your fancy, the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix has a little bit of everything. The best though is that ALL proceeds from the PVGP events benefit two awesome charities, the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and the Allegheny Valley School. This year, the PVGP set a new record, donating $200,000 to both charities at the recent "Victory Lap" check presentation ceremony. Representatives from the PVGP, event sponsors, car manufacturers, and participating car clubs were on hand at the Allegheny Valley School's campus for tours, a checkered flag waving and Terrible Towel wave (Myron Cope, inventor of the Terrible Towel sat on the board of AVS and the PVGP, and sales benefit AVS also). Each charity will benefit equally, receiving $100,000 each. This money will be used to provide residential care, treatment and support for developmentally disabled individuals in the Pittsburgh area.
Since 1983, the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix has raised over $2.95 million dollars for both charities, with no signs of stopping.

For more information on how you can donate to the PVGP, volunteer or find out about the 2012 event, please visit

Charity Ambassadors representing each charity;  Anita Iyengar -Autism Society of Pittsburgh and Brandon Fisher - Allegheny Valley School were on hand to receive the $200,000 check. 
left to right: PVGP Showside Director Bob Speer, Shop 'n Save's Rich Haeflein, Autism Society's Dan Torisky and PVGP Race Director Rocky Farrar with the 2011 check for $200,000.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Petersen Museum co-founder, Margie Petersen 1936-2011

It comes with a heavy heart as we announce that Margie Petersen, husband of the late automotive publication giant Robert Peterson has passed away at the age of 76.

Margie and her husband Robert we co-founders of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, Ca. Robert, who passed away in 2007 was the founder of Petersen Publishing. He was the publisher of such titles as Hot Rod and Motor Trend. Since her husbands passing, Margie has served on the board of directors of the museum and has donated millions of dollars to the foundation that operates the museum, most recently the building and cars, totaling over $100 million dollars.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hot Rod of the Day: 1934 Ford Pickup

What isn't there to love about this 34 Ford? A classic 50s/60s style hot rod in all its glory. Except for maybe the fact that it's powered by a Chevy motor, but you can't fault that when it helps to complete the look. Look at that gold paint that goes on for weeks. And the trick exhaust system, the white walls on chrome steelies. This is one classy truck. This truck was spotted at the 2011 Grand National Roadster Show.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Canadian big rigs racing.

There are some wildly crazy forms of motorsport out there, I mean after all can you really get much wilder than school bus figure 8 races? Check out this video from Canada. It shows a race that features big rigs as the weapon of choice, and these aren't your typical truck you see out on the highway. Though they do appear to have been so at one point in their life. Click the link and check it out.

Canadian Big Rig Racing.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The only Gremlin exported to Australia returns to the United States | Hemmings Blog: Classic and collectible cars and parts

Boomerang: The only Gremlin exported to Australia returns to the United States | Hemmings Blog: Classic and collectible cars and parts

We found this over at Hemmings this morning. A car that could be easily overlooked if it weren't for the fact that it was right hand drive. And such a fascinating story to go with it. A one of one Gremlin sent as a kit to Australia for evaluation of export production/sales there. Incredible that the car survived.

Source: Hemmings

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hot Rod of the Day!

I found this stunning 1950 Mercury via Fotki (a new photo service we are trying out) and just had to post it. In one shot, it captures the whole essence of Southern California Car Culture at it's best. The Pacific ocean, a hopped up flat head, a woody station wagon, and surfing. What more could you want?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Driven: 2012 VW Beetle Turbo

It's finally here. The long awaited replacement for the Volkswagen New Beetle is finally hitting dealer lots. And we had the chance to drive one. Our test car was a candy white Launch Edition Turbo. Having driven and owned many of the outgoing New Beetles since 1998, the new 2012 edition is a welcome addition to the VW family. Many of the New Beetle's downfalls have been addressed including size, handling and power.

First thing you notice is the size difference. At first glance, it doesn't appear to be much larger, but the more you look at it, the more apparent it becomes that this isn't the small Beetle of old. You are also drawn to the elongated hood that more closely resembles the original Beetle. One styling cue I am still trying to adjust to, is the squared off front bumper that is part of VW's new design DNA. It just doesn't scream Beetle when you look at it. But who am I to argue? Moving to the side we find one of the best styling cues adapted to the Beetle yet, pillarless doors. They really suit the Beetle's design. The roof, much lower and elongated also carreis a few styling cues from the Beetle of the 1970s. An interesting styling touch is the partial roof panel attached tot the rear hatch. This adds the extra rear seat headroom. Out side, it also carries the roof mounted antenna, carried over from the previous New Beetle. The tail end of the car we find some great styling features. A true dual exhaust system with polished tips. Large, while not round tail lamps do have a few design cues from the past as well. Another nice touch is the addition of the VW emblem/trunk release seen on some other VWs, but never adapted to the previous car. This is a much welcome addition.

Our test car was also equipped with the optional 19 inch wheels wrapped in Continental ContiPro Contacts and the Turbos featured red brake calipers. 4 wheel disc brakes with ABS on all 4 corners. Unlike the previous New Beetle, the 2012 features a new fully independent 4 link rear suspension and a MacPhearson Strut front suspension. A Sport suspension package will be available as an option. The turbo is equipped with a 2.0 liter 4 cylinder that has 200 horse power. Our test car came equipped with the optional 6 speed DSG automatic.

Moving to the interior, you are greeted by deep bolstered sport seats that come standard on the Turbo. The fit and finish of the interior is top notch compared to the VWs of old. I was surprised to find hard surfaces for th top of the dash, but the quality of the materials used are excellent. The new dash layout is excellent, a really nice feature is the body colored door, dash and steering wheel accents that really give the interior some splash. Storage is one thing there is no lack of in the Beetle. My particular favorite storage spot is the "KaferFach" glovebox. It captures the style of the original Beetles dash perfectly. The driving position is suited perfectly as one would expect from a car as sporty as the Beetle. And the flat bottomed steering wheel is an interesting touch. The rear seating area is greatly improved also, additional head and leg room is a big plus, as is the new 50/50 split rear seat vs. the New Beetles solid rear seat back. The trunk area is almost doubled in size. The lower edge of the trunk opening is almost flush with the trunk floor making loading and unloading easier. The rear cargo shelf attaches with string to the rear hatch to lift automatically just as in the Golf/GTIs. Under the trunk floor hides a full size 16 inch spare tire and a full tool kit. Of the entire interior, the only creature comfort missing that I would have liked to see was the addition of a center armrest. Outside of that there were very few.

The driving characteristics are very Volkswagen. Its fun to drive and packs plenty of power and handles like a go cart. We put it through its paces on some twisty roads and were very impressed with the cars characteristics. It stays planted on the road with only a tad of over steer. Performance was brisk in both full automatic and in manual shift modes. There is minor road noise with the windows up thanks to the larger wheels and low profile 235/40R19 Continentals. Cruising around, we managed 23 miles per gallon. While VW rates the 2.0T at 22 City, 30 Highway. In summary, I was very pleased with the new 2012 VW Beetle.

A special thank you goes out to Billco Volkswagen for letting us use of their car for this review.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Book Review: Car Guys vs. Bean Counters

Bob Lutz, love him or hate him is one of my heroes. I see a lot of similarities between him and myself. Not only with the business prowess and the want to succeed, but also the fact that were are true dyed in the wool car guys. Having read Lutz's previous business book, Guts. I anxiously awaited the arrival of Car Guys vs. Bean Counters: The battle for the soul of American Business. At around 230 pages, I couldn't put this book. Every time I would pick it it up, I would get lost in the world of the auto industry I so truly love. There's a brief history lesson about GM's rise to to be the largest auto maker on the planet and the height of their style setting trends of the Harley Earl and Bill Mitchell era at  GM Design to loosing their ways in the Roger Smith era. But it's not all doom and gloom. There are plenty facts about what GM was doing right. And there's some interesting tidbits about other auto makers like Chrysler, Ford, Toyota, and VW. And lastly why the GM bankruptcy was an unfortunate truth that had to happen. bob Lutz is no stranger to the auto industry. His career has spanned nearly 5 decades and he has worked for all of the Detroit Big Three. I won't give away too much, but if you are passionate about cars and you are looking  for a great book to read. I highly recommend picking up Car Guys vs. Bean Counters.

What's the Best Chevrolet of all time?

As part of Chevy's centennial this year, the fine folks over at GM created an online contest to pick the best car out of Chevrolet's 100 year line up. Cars like the 53 and 63 Corvettes, 57 Bel Air, 69 Camaro, 70 Chevelle SS, the 1912 Classic Six, 09 ZR1, and even the 2011 Volt and a handful of others were all up for voting over the last few weeks with the winners heading to next round. By the time it was all said and done, the Chevy fans, chose the 1969 Chevrolet Camaro is the Best Chevrolet of all time. The Camaro won with an astounding 25,000+ votes. 2nd place was the 1970 Chevelle SS with only 18,000 votes.

Source: Chevrolet, General Motors

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The last Ford Crown Victoria heads on the last patrol

The Ford Crown Victoria can undoubtedly be classified as one of Ford Motor Company's best selling vehicle lines. Even it was fleet sales. Millions are in use throughout the world as police cars and taxi cabs. The Panther platform in which the Crown Vic was built on was first introduced 32 years ago and served all of Fords major divisions. The Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis, Lincoln Town Car and the ill fated Mercury Marauder all shared the same chassis architecture.

What might be the most sad though about a true American workhorse fading in to glory is that the final Crown Victoria won't be preserved by Ford or by any collector that we're aware of in the U.S. Nope, the last Crown Vic is headed to Saudi Arabia. Hopefully who ever ends up with the final Crown Vic will realize just how special this car is to automotive history and won't run it til the wheels fall off.

Only time will tell what future lies for a rear wheel drive, V8 powered sedan for Ford holds. This is the first time since 1932 that there has not been one in Ford's line up. Many police departments and taxi companies have been hoarding Crown Victorias in an effort to keep their fleets going especially as many older models were killed off during the failed Cash for Clunkers program. And many aren't enthused with the new Taurus police interceptor.

Long live the Crown Victoria! Thanks for 32 great years!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Little known history of the Chevrolet Bowtie.

Some automotive brands are pretty clear about how their corporate logos have come about. Ford, Chrysler, Volkswagen, Porsche and Ferrari all come to mind. One that's not well known, but also shrouded with a bit of mystery is the bowtie logo of GM's Chevrolet division.

Several stories have emerged as to how the now famous logo originated. One from Billy Durant's daughter who says that it originated from her father's imagination one night at dinner. Another from Durant's widow saying that her husband found a similar logo while reading a newspaper while on vacation in 1912. Others say it is a stylized version of the Swiss flag cross as Louis Chevrolet was born in Sweeden.

The official origin from General Motors is that Billy Durant saw the logo as part of the pattern on some wallpaper in a Paris hotel that he would tear down and return to Detroit with in 1908. The earliest known use of the the bowtie logo dates to 1913. So who's to say which one is the true meaning behind the bowtie? Durant passed away in 1947, so the answer has certainly gone to the grave at this point. But there is no denying that it ended up being the right choice as now, 100 years later the Chevrolet brand is still in business making cars.

Press Release:

DETROIT, Sept. 2, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Globally recognized today, the Chevrolet bowtie logo was introduced by company co-founder William C. Durant in late 1913. But how it came to be synonymous with the brand is open to wide interpretation.

Durant's version of how the logo came into existence is well known. The long-accepted story, confirmed by Durant himself, was that it was inspired by the wallpaper design in a Parisian hotel.

According to The Chevrolet Story of 1961, an official company publication issued in celebration of Chevrolet's 50th anniversary:

"It originated in Durant's imagination when, as a world traveler in 1908, he saw the pattern marching off into infinity as a design on wallpaper in a French hotel. He tore off a piece of the wallpaper and kept it to show friends, with the thought that it would make a good nameplate for a car."

However, conflicting accounts have emerged, each of which is plausible enough to deepen the mystery and suggest it may never be solved. Two of the alternate origins come from within the Durant family itself.

In 1929, Durant's daughter, Margery, published a book entitled, My Father. In it, she told how Durant sometimes doodled nameplate designs on pieces of paper at the dinner table. "I think it was between the soup and the fried chicken one night that he sketched out the design that is used on the Chevrolet car to this day," she wrote.

More than half a century later, another Bowtie origin was recounted in a 1986 issue of Chevrolet Pro Management Magazine based on a 13-year-old interview with Durant's widow, Catherine. She recalled how she and her husband were on holiday in Hot Springs, Va., in 1912. While reading a newspaper in their hotel room, Durant spotted a design and exclaimed, "I think this would be a very good emblem for the Chevrolet." Unfortunately, at the time, Mrs. Durant didn't clarify what the motif was or how it was used.

That nugget of information inspired Ken Kaufmann, historian and editor of The Chevrolet Review, to search out its validity. In a Nov. 12, 1911 edition of The Constitution newspaper, published in Atlanta, an advertisement appeared from by the Southern Compressed Coal Company for "Coalettes," a refined fuel product for fires. The Coalettes logo, as published in the ad, had a slanted bowtie form, very similar to the shape that would soon become the Chevrolet icon. Did Durant and his wife see the same ad – or one similar – the following year a few states to the north? The date of the paper was just nine days after the incorporation of the Chevrolet Motor Co.

One other explanation attributes the design to a stylized version of the cross of the Swiss flag. Louis Chevrolet was born in Switzerland at La Chaux-de-Fonds, Canton of Neuchatel, to French parents, on Christmas Day 1878.

Whichever origin is true, within a few years, the bowtie would emerge as the definitive Chevrolet logo. An October 2, 1913 edition of The Washington Post seems, so far, to be the earliest known example of the symbol being used to advertise the brand. "Look for this nameplate" the ad proclaims above the emblem. Customers the world over have been doing so ever since.

Many variations in coloring and detail of the Chevrolet bowtie have come and gone over the decades since its introduction in late 1913, but the essential shape has never changed. In 2004, Chevrolet began to phase in the gold bowtie that today serves as the brand identity for all of its cars and trucks marketed globally. The move reinforced the strength of what was already one of the most-recognized automotive emblems in the world. More than 4.25 million Chevrolets were sold in more than 120 countries and regions during 2010.

About Chevrolet -- Founded in Detroit in 1911, Chevrolet celebrates its centennial as a global automotive brand with annual sales of about 4.25 million vehicles in more than 120 countries. Chevrolet provides consumers with fuel-efficient, safe and reliable vehicles that deliver high quality, expressive design, spirited performance and value. The Chevrolet portfolio includes iconic performance cars such as Corvette and Camaro; dependable, long-lasting pickups and SUVs such as Silverado and Suburban; and award-winning passenger cars and crossovers such as Spark, Cruze, Malibu, Equinox and Traverse. Chevrolet also offers "gas-friendly to gas-free" solutions including Cruze Eco and Volt. Cruze Eco offers 42 mpg highway while Volt offers 35 miles of electric, gasoline-free driving and an additional 344 miles of extended range. Most new Chevrolet models offer OnStar safety, security and convenience technologies including OnStar Hands-Free Calling, Automatic Crash Response and Stolen Vehicle Slowdown. More information regarding Chevrolet models can be found at

Source: GM

Friday, September 9, 2011

Where is Henry's punch bowl?

It's no secret that Henry Ford was one of the greatest minds to have lived in the 20th century. Aside from building some pretty fine automobiles, Henry Ford also dabbled with racing. In 1901 Ford, participated in a race put on by the Detroit Driving Club. He built a car specifically for the race, all in hopes of securing backers for his next automotive venture, which was of course, Ford Motor Company. Also participating was Alexander Winton, a fellow car builder from Cleveland, Ohio who was also considered the best driver in the country at the time. Winton's entry in the race was secured by letting him pick the trophy for the race which was a cut glass punch bowl set. And it was picked because Winton had a spot in front of a window in his home where it would look perfect and "really tie the room together". What Winton didn't count on was Henry Ford's determination. The race officials changed the format from a 25 lap endurance race (that was a lot in 1901) to a 10 lap sprint. While Winton's car was vastly more powerful than Henry Ford's "Sweepstakes" racer. The size and light weight of Ford's car gave the advantage. Catching and passing Winton's car by the eighth lap. Winning the race, Henry Ford did was any driver would do, by taking the punch bowl home. After Henry Ford's wife Clara's death in 1950, many of the Ford's possessions were auctioned off. This included the punch bowl, which sadly, no one knew the meaning of.

Now, Edsel Ford II want's it back. Ford Motor Company and the Ford family now fully understand the special meaning of the punch bowl and want it back, badly. The punch bowl is wanted for a new addition to The Henry Ford museum called Racing in America. All in an effort to teach and raise awareness of the science and technology of motor racing. And the punch bowl is an extremely significant part of that history.  Edsel Ford is hoping that thanks to the Internet that the punch bowl can be found. It is known that it was purchased by a private collector in the 1950 auction. So hopes are that it's out there somewhere. Look at the picture carefully. Perhaps it is sitting on your grandmother's dining room table. You could be the hero of the Ford family!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

In the garage: 2012 Scion xB

Many of you may remember how impressed we were with the 2009 Scion xB as one of our first test cars. So much so that another has been added to the fleet. We recently picked up our new tester and have enjoyed it just as much as our last Scion. Our new xB is painted in a very understated Army Rock metallic, and like our previous 2009 is void of options. That being said, you do get A/C, a 160 watt Pioneer stereo with CD player,  iPod and MP3 jacks, standard disc brakes w/ ABS, traction and stability control, power windows and locks, and just about everything else you'd expect to find standard.

Our car again has the 2.4 liter DOHC 16 valve 4 cylinder that offers relatively good performance at 158 horse power. This time, we opted for the 5 speed manual transmission. Toyota rates the fuel economy at 22 City/28 Highway. So far we have averaged 23.3 MPG, though it's not like we're exactly light on the gas.
 Inside the xB is very roomy. the seats sit at chair height and are fairly comfortable. Since our 2009 xB, I have noticed that one major change Scion made was the addition of a traditional center arm rest for the front seat passengers.  The radio, heater and A/C controls, and the gear shift are all right at your finger tips. With the  5 speed manual, this makes for a very comfortable driving position. Otherwise, the car really has changed very little. But that's not really a bad thing. The only recommendation that still carries over from the 2009 xB is to have the addition of an arm rest for the 60/40 rear split seat. This would make for longer trips more comfortable for those riding in the rear seat. Look for more updates soon!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Another Pittsburgh dealer closes its doors

After 41 years serving the North Hills. Demors Linclon ceased operations as of Tuesday. Demors began business as a Lincoln Mercury dealer in 1970. However due to the loss of the Mercury brand and struggles that still exist in the auto industry caused Demors to be one of many long time dealers in the area to close their doors. McKnight Road is no stranger to automotive dealerships. Currently North Hills Toyota, Baierl Kia, and Mick's Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep all make residence on McKnight. McCrackin Ford also made its home on McKnight before closing in 2007. Their building still sits empty on one of the busiest sections of McKnight, sitting across the street from Ross Park Mall. That area seems to be struggling  for new business and a makeover as many storefronts in the Ross Towne Center is also void of many stores after Circuit City, Damon's and Roomful Express have all vacated within recent years.

But back to Demors. What does this now mean for Lincoln and Mercury vehicle owners in the North Hills? Of course any Ford dealer can service the cars with no problems. So that gives owners the option of servicing at Shults Ford in Wexford. Unfortunately, this leaves the sales gap open at a very crucial time for Ford Motor Company as it works with the Lincoln brand in redeveloping its image. Just as General Motors is doing so with Cadillac. Will we see another Lincoln dealer open in the North Hills? I certainly hope so. With the brand image that Ford is moving forward with, with Lincoln being a stand alone brand. I can see an entirely new dealership built to reflect the Lincoln image. But it would have to be north of Ross Township to better compete with other dealers. Both Cadillac and Lincoln are working to take on a more youthful buyer segment and thus the DeVille and Town Car nameplates respectively have been dropped by each brand. Hopes are to bring entirely new flagship vehicles to each brand, but both are difficult vehicles to replace. Just as dealerships are. We are sad to see Demors close, but it unfortunately is one of the necessary evils that we have to face in the auto industry.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pittsburgh's Most Valuable Bloger

We have made it through the nomination period and have now moved on to the voting stage. The contest picks blogs from six categories ranging from Dining/Entertainment, Sports, Lifestyle, Local Affairs, Health/Fitness & Everything Else. We are competing in the Everything Else category and are the only automotive oriented blog eligible for voting. So here's a run down of what Autobahn Automotive News is all about and why I would like your votes (you can vote once per day).

Autobahn Automotive News is based in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. I have been a life long car nut having a great passion for both cars and the auto industry as a whole. I have worked in the auto industry for 15 years holding a variety of positions at several well known dealerships in the Pittsburgh area. During the auto industry downturn, I became a freelance auto industry analyst and have continued to aid local dealers in regards to trends in the industry, marketing solutions and Internet marketing efforts. Autobahn Automotive News was born from some of these efforts and wanting to share some of my stories about cars, auto industry news, photos, event coverage, road tests and anything else I really fell like writing about that's related to cars.  Along with working in the auto industry, my passion goes deeper to the cars themselves. I have been privileged to drive some of the finest cars in the world. From Yugos to Aston Martins. I get excited looking at radiator mascots on pre war cars to the latest in designs from manufacturers all over the world, and everything in between.

While I have a great passion for everything automotive, my affinity is towards Volkswagen cars and their subsequent brands of Audi and Porsche. However, I also share a fondness for Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors and what made them the giants of the industry. I also have the honor of serving as a member of the car show committee for the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix association and as having held several positions on the board of the Three Rivers Volkswagen Club. So with Autobahn Automotive News, we don't really follow any rhyme or reason as to what we post about, but one thing's for sure. It will be automotive related in some form or another. Having contacts within just about every auto manufacturer, along with media access grants me access to industry news before many hear about. So look for exciting new posts to come!

Voting for the CBS Pittsburgh's Most Valuable Blogger contest runs through September 9th, 2011. You are allowed to vote once per day so please vote for this site as many times as you can. There is a badge to the left that will take you to the voting page. Thank you for your continued patronage.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What's in a name? Ex Steve McQueen Porsche 911 sells for $1.25 Million.

There's hardly a person out there who doesn't know who Steve McQueen is. It is also no secret that he had a great passion for anything powered by gasoline. He owned and raced numerous cars and motorcycles, and even on occasion few a few airplanes before his untimely death in 1980. In recent years, there has been a resurgence in anything and everything Steve McQueen. However, on the rare occasion, you can find something that he actually owned. Take the case of this Slate Grey 1970 Porsche 911 S. This car was purchased new from Porsche by McQueen for use while filming his movie LeMans. Not only was it owned by McQueen, but it also appeared in the opening sequence of LeMans as Michael Delaney's personal car. After filming wrapped, the Porsche was sent back to Porsche for some upgrades (the car was already heavily optioned including a leather interior and A/C) before being shipped to LA. In late 1971 McQueen put the Porsche for sale, the theory is due to his also owning a 1969 911 S that was nearly identical, but having an upgraded stereo installed (that car is still in the McQueen family today).

Since that time, the 1970 has passed through several collectors hands, all knowing the cars unique place in history. It also remains largely original, having only received a fresh coat of paint and a new interior along with the usual maintenance items. Also surprising is that the car has covered well over 100,000 miles. So it's been driven, just the way Steve would have had it. The current owner elected to offer the car for sale and commissioned the car to RM Auction's Monterey sale (fitting) and with an opening bid of $200,000, the Porsche quickly rose to $1 million dollars and ending just short of the high auction estimate of $1.35 million.

This is another car, that I personally would love to have in my collection, even if it didn't have the Steve McQueen pedigree. There is something about the early 911s that just look so right, even today. And when topped with the subdued slate grey paint color, it makes for one classy ride. Congratulations to the new owner, and hopefully the 911 will be see out on the road and at car events rather than locked away in a garage.

Photos: RM Auctions.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Thinking of Monterey

Well, it's Monterey Week. considered by many as the pinnacle of the collector car hobby. Events like the Quail, Concourso Italiano, Pebble Beach Councours d'Elegance and the Rolex Historics to name a few. Cars that are restored to better than new condition that rarely make it out of the garage, gather to strut their stuff for the world to see. Every year I am treated to parts of what I would call my PowerBall wish list if I were to ever hit the lottery and strike it rich. Many folks would lavish them self with new cars, where as I would build a nice new garage and fill it to the brim with automotive history. One such vehicle is the Ferrari 265 GT/B Daytona and the Shelby 289 Cobra. These classics are some of the most beautiful cars to ever be designed and this year in Monterey, RM Auctions has examples of each that I would love to call my own.

1971 Ferrari 365 Daytona coupe

1964 Shelby 289 Cobra

Picture source: RM Auctions

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ken Block's Gymkhana Four!

Ken Block's Gymkhana videos are hugely popular. They show precision driving at its best. Ken Block has produced 4 of these videos showing his driving skills, and the latest release shows Ken taking on the world of Hollywood with his new Ford Fiesta rally car. Watch and enjoy! But remember always drive responsibly.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mini of Gotham City comes to Pittsburgh

Everyone in Pittsburgh is having fun with the fact that the city is now Gotham City, home of Batman. Mini of Pittsburgh, the city's ONLY Mini dealer is showing off their new showroom as Mini of Gotham City. This is the kind of spirited fun that not many car dealers take the time to have any more.

Source: Facebook

Monday, August 8, 2011

Cadillac CTS-V Coupe wins big at Mid-Ohio

There's no denying the raw power of the Cadillac V series cars. So much so that Cadillac has been racing prepared CTS sedans for the last few years. With the launch of the CTS-V coupe, brought a perfect match for racing. Cadillac Racing's last victory came in 2007 and has since been plagued with issues that have kept them from reaching the podium. That changed last weekend when Johnny O'Connell brought the new CTS-V coupe in for the car's first victory at Mid-Ohio.

We had the opportunity to view this car up close at the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix last month and were very impressed with the efforts Cadillac Racing has gone to, to prepare the CTS-V for SCCA World Challenge series racing. Congrats to Cadillac Racing!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A few more hot rods

From the Sacred Pistons Car Club show in June.

Driven: 2011 Audi A7

We're still processing through all of our notes from a long day of Audi driving, but look for reviews of the 2011 Audi A6, A7 and A8 in the next few days. What we can tell you is all three cars are incredible machines and will certainly further put Audi on the map.

Oh the things you'll see!

A special treat at the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix this year, may just have been one of the cars that could probably have been confused as a replica. There is no denying that one of the coolest Porsches ever made was the 911 RSR IROC used in the 1974 season of the International Race of Champions. The 911 RSR was used for only the 1974 season before IROC switched to Chevrolet Camaros. Only 15 RSRs were built by Porsche and then prepared by IROC. The later was so that the cars would be prepared identical with the exception of color to keep an even playing field. The 1974 911 RSR above is owned by former racer and Porsche dealer Bob Nikel. He purchased the car shortly after the 1974 season ended and added it to his private collection of cars.

The car was originally born in Aubergine before being repainted in Peru Red. As impressive as the car is to look at, even more impressive is the list of drivers that drove this very car in 1974. Peter Revson finished 2nd to  Mark Donahue in this car. A.J. Foyt drove it Race 1 at Riverside and finished in 6th place. Richard Petty drove it Race 2 at Riverside, finishing 10th, and Emerson Fidapaldi dove it Race 3, finishing in 3rd place after starting 10th. What also makes the car unique, is that with the exception of the color change, the car is largely original. Only a few minor modifications have been made to the car since 1974. And even more astounding is that the car is driven regularly.

The 29th Annual Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix

Despite record heat in the upper 90 degree range most of the week. The 29th Annual Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix had another record year. This year, Porsche had the honor of Marque of the Year, and thanks to efforts from the Allegheny Region of the Porsche Club of America, had nearly 500 Porsches of all vintages come to Schenley Park. The ARPCA also celebrated a milestone in 2011. Celebrating 50 years as a club. Part of their efforts were having a Porsche from every year of their 50 years as a club from 1961, through to a new 2011 model. Also sharing honors this year were The Cars of Carol Shelby as Spotlight Feature. That display brought several unique vehicles including several genuine 289 and 427 Cobras, Vipers, Mustangs and even a GT40 continuation car built by Holman & Moody.

The racing action was awesome as usual. With 2011 being the first year of sanctioning by the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix Association, several cars that would have otherwise been unable to compete under VSCCA guidelines were now allowed to race. The Schenley Park course is unique in all of it's 2.33 mile length as it is made up entirely of public roads that would otherwise be open to the public 360 days a year. The course features 22 turns and no less than 17 elevation changes and represents what racing used to be in the days before Road America and the air port tracks. This is how racing used to be. And unlike events like the Monterey Historics, it's on the street. Where else can you see vintage MGs, Porsches, Aston Martins, Datsuns, Minis, and more do battle like this?

Each year, the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix brings over 2000 cars of all vintages to the car show side which is held on the scenic Schenley Park Golf Course. Cars representing every corner of the globe and just about every make are on display. There are even a few new cars on display as many Pittsburgh area car dealer particpate as sponsors, including a few manufacturers such as Volkswagen, Audi, Suzuki, Mini and Ford. And what originally started as a two day event has grown in to a 10 day festival celebrating the automobile filled with two race weekends, a host of car shows, parades, parties, rallies, and track days. And what makes the event truly spectacular is that it is entirely run by volunteers, and ALL proceeds from the events, benefit charity. Since 1983, the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix has raised over $2.5 million dollars for the Allegheny Valley School and the Autism Society of Pittsbugh. The PVGP is a highly recommended event if you are in the Pittsburgh Area come mid July. The event can't be beat, and it's free to the public for spectators. And best of all, it supports a great cause.