Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix makes record donation

30 years, two charities, 1200+ volunteers. What does that equal? Over $3.2 million dollars. That is what the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix has donated to the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and the Allegheny Valley School. Just last week was the annual Victory Lap Check Presentation at the Frick Museum in Pittsburgh (don't take photographs here). This year was a record setting donation to the charities. $250,000 or $125,000 each.

Since 1983, the PVGP has grown from a single day car show and race to a 10 day motorsport festival consisting of two vintage race weekends, car shows, cruises, parades, and parties. The event is entirely driven by over 1200+ volunteers, some of whom are pictured here. and all proceeds benefit the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and the Allegheny Valley School. Both of which help to provide residential care, treatment and support for developmentally disabled individuals in the Pittsburgh area.

The PVGP stands as one of the largest motorsport festivals in the nation, and the oldest continually run in the nation. It also stands apart as the racing is held entirely on public streets, bringing American sports car racing back to the way it used to be. “This event continues to amaze me” said Executive Director Dan DelBianco. He added, “To hold 10 days of events and turn a city park into a race circuit is a huge undertaking. There is no admission fee for spectators at the Schenley Park Race Weekend and the cost of staging the events is quite challenging so it is truly astounding that this event generates a quarter of a million dollars for local charities. Our success can be credited to the incredible support of our volunteers, sponsors and city officials coupled with the generosity of our racers and spectators. The Grand Prix now encompasses a dozen events spread over 10 days and nearly every single event is either sold out or near capacity.”

Source: Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix. 

Racing Legend John Fitch dead at 95

It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of racing legend John Fitch. How do you summarize John Cooper Fitch? He was a decorated WWII air corps pilot and POW, Purple Heart medal winner, SCCA and LeMans champion, team manager, racing and auto safety pioneer. These titles all apply.

John Fitch was born on August 4th, 1917 and from an early age was introduced to car racing. He was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. His stepfather was an executive for Stuz and introduced him to racing, but he was not initially impressed with it. It wasn't until he returned from WWII that he fell in to car racing as many did. During the war, Fitch was a decorated pilot in the Army Air Corps who was shot down and captured by German troops and locked in a POW camp.

After the war he began racing cars, only sports car racing rather than the typical oval track racing he witnessed at Indy. And Fitch was good, better yet great. During the early 50s, Fitch raced for driver and car designer Briggs Cunningham. He later became the only American to race for Mercedes Benz in their racing efforts. In 1955, the crash at the 24 Hours of LeMans greatly affected Fitch. He would go on to develop the Fitch Inertial Crash Barrier. Yellow barrels filled with sand that are still seen on racetracks and highways to this day.

After Mercedes, Fitch was approached by Chevrolet to help develop and manage their Corvette racing efforts and to make the Corvette a true race car. The eventually led to Fitch driving a Corvette at LeMans in 1960, and winning with co-driver Bob Grossman. Fitch would retire from professional driving in 1966. However, he did do some further driving for others, including a failed attempt at a land speed record in a 300 SL gullwing Mercedes owned by Bob Sirna. He was also re-united with his LeMans winning 1960 Corvette at LeMans in 2010. That car is now owned by Lance Miller, a friend of ours and owner of Carlisle Events.

Fitch had a great passion for inventing and a prime example were the Fitch Barriers mentioned above. He also developed many performance and appearance products for the Chevrolet Corvair. And there was the Fitch Phoenix, a Corvair bassed sports car.

Even until earlier this year, Fitch was a staple at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut. Where he also had served as manager.

God Speed John Fitch. You will be greatly missed.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Spotted: Cadillac ELR!

It's not too often here in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania that we get the opportunity to see a new car from Detroit being tested in full camo. In Michigan, especially around Detroit it's even a rare sight. But today one of our readers spotted what has been confirmed as a Cadillac ELR being tested. What is the ELR? Well, it's going to be Cadillac's electric hybrid like the Volt. Based on the Cadillac Converj concept. And mechanically, it's going to be essentially the same as the Volt. "T" shaped lithium ion battery with full electric main drive and an extended range gasoline motor. A big Thanks to eagle eyed reader Kevin Kurtz for snapping these shots.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Officially licensed: 1940 Ford coupes

Want to build your dream 1940 Ford coupe hot rod, but don't want to feel guilty about cutting up an original '40 Ford? Well now you can build your dream rod thanks to Dennis Carpenter Ford Restoration Parts. Just in time for SEMA, Ford will display a bare metal body and a hot rod built using the new preproduction body. The bodies can be bought fairly reasonably at about $12,000. Which is not bad when compared with finding, buying, shipping, and then repairing an original body. 
The 1940 Ford is just one of many classic cars gaining the support and blessings of their original manufacturer for a full reproduction. It joins the classic 1932 Ford and 1964-1970 Mustangs. I've also included a picture of an all original '40 Deluxe Coupe spotted in Hershey.
Source: Ford Motor Co. 
Press release:
DEARBORN, Mich., Oct. 26, 2012 – One of the most cherished and collected classic cars of the pre-World War II and hot rod era – the iconic 1940 Ford Coupe – is the latest addition to Ford Motor Company’s growing stable of officially licensed all-steel reproduction car bodies.
Available now for ordering, and complementing the 1965-70 Mustang bodies, the 1940 Ford Coupe body is also constructed of modern, high-strength steel and is assembled using modern welding techniques. The new body comes rustproofed from the factory and is ready to be assembled as a custom hot rod or as a faithful tribute to the original.

At the upcoming Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas, Ford will display a custom 1940 Ford hot rod built using a reproduction body and a new bare body shell that demonstrates the high-quality construction. Prices start at $11,900 plus shipping. The full body shell as well as individual steel panels are available through Dennis Carpenter Ford Restoration Parts,
The fully built, copper-colored SEMA show car sports a new 5.0-liter V8 engine, four-speed automatic transmission and Mustang II front suspension. The roof has also been chopped or lowered to give the car an even meaner look.
“Like its older 1932 Deuce Coupe and younger Mustang siblings, the 1940 Ford is a bodystyle and design that represents Ford at its best,” said Dennis Mondrach, Ford Restoration Parts licensing manager. “The 1940 Ford Coupe has always been highly sought after and collectible. Unfortunately, good, solid restorable examples have become hard to find and expensive, so this faithful reproduction is bound to prove popular.”
The ’40 Ford: Part of American culture
The 1940 Ford has had a major influence on post-World War II America, said Detroit automotive historian Joe Cabadas, author of “’40 Ford: Evolution * Design * Racing * Hot Rodding.”
“Bootleggers down south always wanted to know who had the fastest car,” said Cabadas. “Because of its lightweight V8 engine, they started racing them on Sundays, and that is the beginning of stock car racing.”
After World War II, the 1940 Ford was at the forefront of another major cultural movement – hot rodding. The ’40 Ford got noticed by World War II veterans, who began buying up the cars and turning them into hot rods by adding performance equipment to the car’s flathead V8 engine.
The 1940 Ford has been a fixture in Hollywood, appearing in countless TV shows and movies such as “American Graffiti,” “Bugsy” and “Mulholland Drive.”
“With their big fenders and integrated headlights, the 1937-40 Ford was one of the first streamlined cars from Ford Motor Company,” Cabadas said. “Edsel Ford had a hand in its style. He wanted a family look for Ford and Lincoln vehicles, and so you can see some Lincoln Zephyr in it. The 1940 was also one of the few cars in its price class with a V8.”
Reproduction body: A blank canvas
Hobbyists looking to build a hot rod using the new 1940 body are limited only by their imagination and budget. The new body is available with a stock firewall that accommodates the original flathead V8. However, for those looking for greater performance from a modern powertrain, the new 1940 Ford body can alternatively be ordered with a recessed firewall that will allow much larger modern engines to be installed.
As with the officially licensed reproduction parts available for the 1965-70 Mustang bodies, Ford also supports the 1940 Ford with an array of correct mechanical and trim restoration parts. To see what is available for the 1940, visit
Dennis Carpenter, owner of one of the nation’s largest classic Ford restoration parts companies, owes his start in the business more than 40 years ago to the 1940 Ford.
Carpenter was having trouble locating a good used set of dash knobs for a car he was restoring – and still owns – so he approached Ford and obtained permission to reproduce the knobs using original factory blueprints and designs. Today his company, Dennis Carpenter Ford Restoration Parts, produces many Ford-licensed parts for the 1940 Ford. With the body now back in production, Carpenter is gearing up to add even more trim parts for the car.
“When you see a beautifully restored 1940 Ford, it is like a piece of jewelry,” Carpenter said. “People just really love the lines of that car. It is timeless and appeals to all ages.”
# # #
About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 168,000 employees and about 65 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit

2012 AACA Hershey Fall Meet

If you're in to cars, especially antique and classics. Then you've likely heard of the Antique Automobile Club of America's annual Eastern Fall Meet in Hershey, Pa. Or better known just as Hershey. I've attended the fall meet several times, and one thing that I can say is be prepared. I visited for two days, and that isn't enough. In order to take in everything, you need all four days of the event in order to see it all. It doesn't matter what your passion is. You can find here. Looking for headlights for your brass era classic? Got em. Owners manual for your 63 Ford Falcon? Check. Tires for your hot rod? How many you need? How about a new toy for the garage? There were cars for sale from $2,000 to $400,000.

I spent all of Friday cruising the swap meet and the car corral and found some awesome buys. How about a 1960 Rambler. Completely restored, ready to go with low miles. It could be yours for $9,000 o.b.o. You couldn't even restore this car for that money. I also found a 1973 Ford Gran Torino 4 door. 73k miles, all original paint except for one door. This one was turn key and ready to cruise for $3,995. 1936 Chevrolet sedan, $14,000 o.b.o. How about a 1913 Hupmobile for $34k? I also found a 1953 Nash Healey for the bargain price of $195,000 o.b.o. 1939 Packard, $195,000. 1938 Lincoln V-12 Convertible, $237,500. This is just some of the cars available for sale. And this doesn't include the auction that RM Auctions has put on for the last few years.

In the swap meet, there are literally thousands upon thousands of swap vendors. Selling everything from parts to project cars, toys and literature, cleaning supplies, tools, garage art, clothes, you need it, it's likely you can find it here. The swap meet tends to be a car show in itself as many vendors have cars on display that are either shown on Saturday or are for sale. While walking around we were able to see an early Stanley Steamer chugging around and also spotted a Volkswagen Kubelwagen. I will say that AACA really has this down when it comes to organizing a swap meet. Every area of it is paved, as it's held in the parking lot of Hershey Park and the Giant Center. So along with being paved, it's almost entirely flat making it easy for walking around and for carts and scooters to get around. I brought my trusty wagon with me (that was given to me by my parents when I was young), but decided to leave it in the car as it was cold and windy. So that limited me on my purchases of what I could carry with me. So with that I stuck with paper items and small toys for my expansive VW memorabilia collection.

Friday morning I awoke to sunny skies, but still a little chilly. I paid a visit to the AACA museum just a few miles from the meet to take in their fantastic display. Afterwards I headed back to Hershey Park for the car show part of the fall meet, and again amazed myself as a Hershey veteran. There were 38 classes listed in the event program, but it's nearly tripled due to sub classes. Meaning that there are classes for say, production cars 1957-1958 (excluding chevrolets), followed by a sub class for just 57 and 58 Chevrolet cars. And then within that class, there's probably 50 cars. So that should give you an idea of the shear size of the car show. There's classes for military vehicles, commercial trucks, buses, fire engines, race cars and everything in between. I ended up disappointing myself in not bringing additional memory cards with me for my camera as I ended up filling the car full at 1231 pictures.

I've broken down all the photos I took in to sub albums that can be found here, Enjoy!

Austria comes to Paris for CESA 2012 : discover the full list of exhibitors

At CESA 2012, visitors will have the opportunity to discover an austrian pavilion. For the first time in Paris, Austrian companies will showcase their cutting-edge technology and high-quality products in the field of automotive electronics.

Here is the list of the exhibitors :
- ACstyria Autocluster GmbH (Automotive Industry, Space & Rail Systems, Innovations) - Adopt SMT Europe GmbH (Tools, Spare and Wear Parts)
- AIT Austrian Institute of Technology - Mobility Department (Development Center for electric drives : modelling, simulation, prototyping, testing, validation)
- AVL List GmbH (Electrical engineering and electronics, Automotive Industries)
- EGSTON Automotive Eggenburg GmbH (Automotive Solutions, Cable Systems, Power Supplies)
- Gebauer & Griller Kabelwerke GesmbH (Components and parts, Cables, wires, battery harnesses, customer specific cable development)
- Kiska GmbH (Brand Consultancy, Digital&Corporate Design, Innovation)
- Magna International Europe (Design, engineering, testing and manufacture of automotive interior systems metal body & chassis systems, exterior systems, electronic systems, powertrain systems as well as complete vehicle engineering and assembly)
- Magna Steyr Fahrzeugtechnik AG & Co KG (Vehicle Engineering & Contract, Manufacturing, Roof Systems & Fuel Systems)
- NextSense Mess-und Prüfsysteme GmbH (Surface Inspection and Measuring)
- Obrist Engineering GmbH (Vehicle Fuel Cell Engineering, Vapor Systems)
- Voestalpine Stahl GmbH (Steel, Metal Engineering and Metal Forming)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Valeo presents next generation automated parking at ITS Vienna

While the system on the market offers parking space detection and automatic steering with the driver operating the pedals and gears, Valeo is already preparing the next generation.
Maybe some of you remember the Park4U Remote application (World Premiere at 2011 IAA show, Frankfurt) that demonstrated a fully-automatic parking keeping the control via a smartphone.
But you can seen an even more impressive demo at Vienna.

Valeo steals the show at the ITS World Congress with Valet Park4U. In this case, the driver can now even leave the car at the entrance of the parking lot letting the car finding a suitable space and parking itself.

Of course, the driver is keeping the control via his/her Smartphone.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Vienna welcomes a smarter world with the ITS Congress

With 300 exhibitors, the 19th ITS World Congress will be the pre-eminent international exhibition on devices, technologies and services related to intelligent transport systems, from 22 to 26 October in Vienna.
Under the motto "Smarter on the way", the exhibition at this year's ITS World Congress will bring together all of the important players in the field of intelligent transport systems. The exhibition will show the huge amount of potential there is for improving our everyday lives by implementing ITS systems. The exhibitors will cover all aspects of transport systems: from complex information and communication systems and increasingly advanced navigation and payment systems to security, ecology and electromobility.
About 40 Austrian* companies will show their products and services at the stand of ITS Austria (E10). For example, together with the Vienna Transport Authority, Telereal will show its "multi-sensual" sign system, a new type of info point for people with hearing, visual or physical impairments. IPTE will present a "virtual" game fence: These wildlife warning systems can be installed along stretches of road that are particularly at risk. They recognise when vehicles are approaching and warn wild animals using light signals and ultra-high-frequency sounds. Innovametall will show an all-in-one infrastructure solution for electromobility called Safetydock - a locker system with an integrated charging station. ITS Vienna Region (Austria, E10) will show an intermodal traffic service for eastern Austria that integrates current traffic data into route planning and also plans bicycle and walking routes. Further exhibitors at the ITS Austria stand include BMVIT, AustriaTech, AIT - Austrian Institute of Technology, ÖBB, and ASFINAG.

*Let's remind that CESA 2012 will welcome an austrian pavilion.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Safety features at Paris Motor Show

Connected and electrified cars have made the show in Paris during two weeks, but new models displayed at the "Mondial de l'Automobile" had also some impressive safety features.
If you consider for instance the new A-Class from Mercedes, this car offers numerous driving assistance systems, from drowsiness detection with Attention Assist to proximity control with Distronic Plus. These assistance systems, which until now were reserved for higher vehicle segments, are based on state-of-the-art radar, camera and sensor technology. The Collision Prevention Assist system gives a visual and audible warning to alert a possibly distracted driver to identified obstacles, and prepares Brake Assist for the most precise braking response possible. This innovative solution aims to provide protection against typical rear-end collisions in hazardous driving situations at speeds above 30 km/h.

The new Golf from Volkswagen contains also a lot of innovations for a compact car. The german OEM has put in this model the adaptive cruise control system ACC plus Front Assist including the City Emergency Braking function, Lane Assist lane-keeping assistant, fatigue detection, traffic sign detection and the latest generation of the ParkAssist park steering assistant(including warning for obstacles in the vehicle’s surroundings with 360-degree display) as well as the automated light functions Light Assist and Dynamic Light Assist. An innovative new feature is the Golf’s multicollision brake system, which automatically brakes the vehicle when it is involved in an accident in order to significantly reduce its residual kinetic energy.

At Volvo, safety matters too. Adding several new high-tech features to a full deck of safety and support systems from larger models makes the all-new Volvo V40 the most intelligent and safe car in the segment. New features in all V40 versions, including the Cross Country and R-Design variants, comprise a world-first Pedestrian Airbag Technology, Lane Keeping Aid with haptic auto steering, an ingenious Park Assist Pilot, automatic Road Sign Information, Active High Beam and a Cross Traffic Alert radar system at the rear. The all-new V40 also features the groundbreaking Pedestrian Detection with full auto brake - as well as the City Safety further developed low-speed collision avoidance system which now operates at speeds up to 50 km/h.

To conclude, french technology was displayed with the BiLED projector. This technology features on the full LED headlamps developed by Valeo for the new Ford Mondeo, which was making its world premiere at the Paris Motor Show. Equipped with a shatter resistant plastic lens, the module enables the headlamps to switch instantly from low to high beam. In addition, power use in the low beam position is just 26 watts. The BiLED module will be fitted on other automakers’ premium and mass market vehicles in the near future.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

2012 Glenmoor Gathering

Ok, I don't live under a rock. I've known of the Glenmoor Gathering of Significant Automobiles in nearby Canton, Ohio for several years now. But I might has well been living under a rock as I have never been to the famed concours d' elegance. All I can say is that if you have never been. Plan on going in 2013. This is an event that is a must attend for any car enthusiast. It doesn't matter what you like, there is a little of something for everyone at the Glenmoor Gathering. Set on the grounds of the beautiful Glenmoor Country Club, the Gathering hosts, I would guess around 500+ of the nation's finest collector cars there are to offer. Each year there are themes This year there were four. Supercharged Autos, Trans-Atlantics (European styling/bodies with American power), The cars of Sydney Allard, and lastly (and the one I was most excited for) Tucker.

Now I have seen a handful of Tuckers in my travels as a car guy. But I have never seen a Tucker outside of the security of an indoor museum and barriers. At this year's event there were 9 Tucker's on display. 7 of which were real honest to goodness members of the original 51 Tuckers built in 1948. These cars take on a whole new life when seen outside in the sunlight. Some highlights included a Tucker from the Gilmore Museum in Michigan which is essentially a brand new car. Tucker #47 has only 53 original miles on the odometer, this Tucker is all original with the exception of one tire. It had just enough patina to look like an older restoration, but once you got up close, well there's that originality vibe. Another standout was Tucker # 48 which came from Wisconsin. This car was interesting because of the numerous accessories added to the car which included wire wheels and a large sign on the back alerting motorists that they had just been passed by a Tucker. Also on display was a fiberglass replica used in the production of the 1988 film, Tucker: The man and his dream. This car sits on a Ford LTD chassis and looks the part far away. And the wildest of the bunch, the Rob Ida Concepts, Tucker 48 continuation. We'll do a feature on that car separately.

Moving to the supercharged cars class, we found a stunning 1938 Mercedes 540k, a 1930 Stutz Model M, a 1927 Hudson Super Six which had a interesting similarity to the the famous Bentley 4 1/2 liter. On display in other classes were a 1948 Davis 3 wheeler, and a 1935 Hoffman X8. The later sporting a X8 mid rear mounted motor. This one had many collectors, including Jay Leno confused as to exactly what a Hoffman was as there was only one ever made.

Probably for me as a car guy, the car that caught my fancy was the 1935 Duesenberg Model SJ "Morman Meteor". This is a car that I have only seen via specials on TV, so to see this famed Duesey in person was a real treat. The car was specially commissioned by David "Ab" Jenkins who was a world renowned test driver. Producing over 400 horsepower, the Mormon Meteor was driven by Jenkins to a world record average of  speed of 135.47mph for 24 hours covering 3523 miles at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1935. In 1936, with upgrades Jenkins broke his own record with an average speed of 153.823 mph. In 2007, the car was honored with winning Best of Show at the famous Pebble Beach Concours d' Elegance.

As I said above, I must have been living under a rock to have never gone to the Glenmoor Gathering. Check out our photo album of all the pictures we took.  Glenmoor gallery.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Connectivity trends at Paris Motor Show

This time, the connected car is on he road. At Paris Motor Show, Renault is showing R-Link on board tablet PC (soon available in new Clio and Zoé). Linked to the Internet, this Android based device enables the driver to get up to date informations on traffic, weather forecasts and parking lots available. Renault has created a R-Link Store inspired by the famous App Store.

So does Peugeot with the Connect Apps on the 208. Thanks to a 3G USB stick, a touch screen displays live services, including Michelin features (restaurants, traffic).

Another trend is the presence of the tablet PC, iPad or others. You can find it at rear seat, or in front. The TeRRA concept car from Nissan uses this device as an intelligent key to turn on the car and make it connected.

Another example is given by Orange, the french telecom carrier, which displays on its booth a concept car with two tablet PCs : one for the driver, the other one for the passenger.

On a tablet PC, a smartphone or on board, traffic information is getting live and better each day.

At Nokia, we can see an amazing augmented reality guidance on a smartphone for pedestrians. This feature is called City Lens.

Next, we will discuss safety features.