Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Beater Bought By Bruce

Yup I bought a beater, something to reliably get back and forth to my part-time job. It is a 1995 Chevrolet Lumina. I know, I know a Chevrolet in a Ford guy's driveway is just wrong. But it's a beater. And the price was right.
Mine looks just like this only worse.

Not that it's beat. It has about 63,000 miles on it and runs well. Under the hood is the 3.1-L V6 and autmatic transmission. The paint is crap - damn clear-coat that doesn't stick - and the interior is a little stained here and there (coffee?). The dash, especially over the passenger side air bag, has severe sun damage (I'll buy a dash mat sometime). Right now the A/C doesn't work. Hopefully it just needs recharging and winter is coming. That's about it for the negatives.

On the plus side it's got new tires and a new battery. I just checked the fuel economy and it is pretty good - almost 26 mpg for mixed driving. Not bad for a larger 4-door sedan.

So far I'm happy with the Lumina. It's nothing special but it does its job. That's all you can ask of a beater.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Concorso Italiano

Concorso Italiano seems to move to a different venue every few years. Last and this year they were at Bayonet and Black Horse golf course at the former Fort Ord. Concorso is about everything Italian, especially cars. There is a fashion show at noon but the real story is always the cars. Sometimes it seems like there are more Ferraris at Concorso than were ever produced. These are just a few of the cars at the event.

Monday, September 28, 2015


“Two New Models Combine Retro Appearance With Twenty First Century Automotive Technology”

Haverhill, Massachusetts (September 29, 2015) - Checker Motor Cars™ has announced plans to produce two second generation Checker vehicles. The Sport Pick-up Crossover model will combine the usefulness of a pick-up truck with the fun of a full size vehicle, reminiscent of the El Camino or Ranchero of days gone by. The Aerobus model will offer features of the iconic Checker sedan, as well as from a sport pick-up body and the early generation Aerobus V1 (A six-door, twelve-passenger sedan). The A888 will offer four full rows of seating through four standard length doors and two extended rearward doors. The 3rd row seat will fold to allow for additional leg room when not in use.


The Checker Motor Cars™ goal is to offer the features below with new models, as well as to offer retrofit kits to compliment Checker automobiles currently on the road.

 Vehicle will accept a V8 Flex-fuel engine
 Fuel injected or Diesel option
 Full steel frame
 Standard rear wheel drive
 Electronic instrument panel
 Power windows and door locks
 Tilt adjustable steering column
 Composite body panels
 Four wheel disc brakes
 Rack and pinion steering
 Heavy duty climate control
 Four wheel coil springs
 Composite fuel tank
 LED lights all around
 Right hand drive option
 All-wheel drive option
 Service lantern
 First aid kit
 Built-in 120 volt AC inverter
 On-board jump power pack with air compressor
 Seat belt cutter combination rescue tool

Both new designs will offer second generation technology with a 1980’s retro appearance.  Checker
vehicles will be fully manufactured in the United States with anticipated build scheduled to begin in the fall of 2018. To learn more about Checker Motor Cars™ and all that it has to offer, please visit us on the web at www.checkermotorcars.com or call 978-423-3770.


Located 25 miles north of Boston in Haverhill, MA, the Checker Motor Cars™ facility provides a service and restoration center with on-site parts warehouse. The company is owned and operated by longtime automotive collector and enthusiast Steven Contarino. Product knowledge, superior customer service and staying current with trends in the collector car industry are the key ingredients behind Checker Motor Cars.

# # #

The highly-skilled and passionate team excitedly brings technical and mechanical know-how to the

Checker market. All vehicles will proudly be manufactured in the United States.

Submitted by Cindy A. Meitle, CAR  PR USA

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Volkswagen scandal - Eleven million and counting

I am not financial genius but if you have to recall 11-million cars, if you lied about the emissions of 11-million cars, and if you have to fix (if possible) all 11-million cars can you survive? That's the situation Volkswagen finds itself in after being caught cheating on US emission testing for their diesel vehicles.

Volkswagen has set aside $7.3 billion to cover the cost of the recall. According to reports VW's share price plummeted 17% today (September 22, 2015) following a similar dive the day before. VW has halted sales of some cars in the US while they try to sort this out.

Watching BBC World News it is being speculated that other auto makers may have done similar computer tweaking; there have been instances in the past.

Although the economy is booming in parts of the US worldwide it is still fragile. In areas of the US where it is doing well there is some concern that the economy is a bubble about to burst. If the VW scandal widens to other auto makers could it be the needle that burst the bubble? If large investors are hurt by the VW mess (think Qatar) will it dry up funds for other investments? These are not questions I have the knowledge to answer but I am sure there are economists who are looking at this situation with interest.

From a strictly automotive view, and taking my former career into account (investigator for the California smog inspection program), this is akin to smog stations passing 11-million cars that wouldn't pass unless the test was tweaked (cheated). It is shameful and it should be criminal. In my career I saw smog techs convicted and sent to prison. They harmed the environment far less than VW. It's time to send a strong message that it is not okay to cheat.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Should I be flattered?

"They" say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I'm not sure. I scanned the front page of this morning's (September 17, 2015) San Francisco Chronicle CARS section and what do I see? I see "Spare Parts". Now where have a seen this before? Oh wait it's at the top of the page! Sorry Chron that name is mine. Stop using it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Porsche Aims to Overtake Tesla - Really?

Porsche yesterday (September 14, 2015) unveiled an electric sports car, or rather a concept car, at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Porsche says the Mission E concept has a range of over 300 miles and can accelerate from zero to 100 kilometers per hour in 3.6 seconds. And when the batteries are almost dead you will be able to recharge them in 15 minutes!

Of course the Mission E is a concept. Concepts can do just about anything your mind can imagine. Porsche is a company that demands respect but for me the hype of the Mission E is akin to the crap GM used to spew about almost every new model. Remember the Vega? It was going to push the Japanese back to Japan. The X-cars? How about more recent models like the Solstice? That was going to revolutionize sports cars and kill the Miata. And then of course there is the Volt, a nice car but hardly the Prius killer we were told it would be.

So pardon me if I say I'm from Missouri; Porsche I'll believe it when I see Mission Es rolling off an assembly line.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Automobilia Monterey

I didn't report on Automobilia Monterey because I didn't make it there this year. My loss. Automobilia Monterey reports:

"2015, our 13th year, was a great success. Despite a 1% decline in attendance, most important was the feed-back on the level of business transacted.  The people in the room were there longer and they truly came to buy ! That, more than anything, is the sign of vendors having what the visitors want: quality vs quantity. The silent auction was the second highest in our history.

"Automobilia Monterey has always been about focused content for the serious vintage automotive memorabilia collector, who demands originality and authenticity. "

2016 Automobilia Monterey dates:
Our 14th annual expo, will be Tuesday andWednesday, August 16 & 17, from 10 am to 6 pm each day, at the Embassy Suites, Seaside, CA. We look forward to seeing you there !

Our web site, www.AutomobiliaMonterey.com is fully up-dated with 2015 photos, floor plan, and vendor list. Your direct access to all the current year photos is:

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Calling All Cars!

We're moving again - still in California but east from Pleasanton about 30 miles to Tracy. Right now we have two cars, Nadine's '02 Focus and my '64 Ranchero. I'm going to need another car, a commuter as I'm keeping my part-time job in Dublin (again about 30 miles from Tracy). So I'm putting the word out to all in my general area to let me know of a good, inexpensive, reliable, fuel efficient car. How inexpensive? I'd like to keep it around $2,000 if possible.

We've considered getting a new car and I take over the Focus and this is still a possibility but for now we're not sure we want to get into payments.

So if you know of something let me know. Thanks.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Monterey - Wow What A Week!

The Monterey Automobile Week is over. Every year that I go (I missed last year) I think it can't get any better (or more expensive) but every year it just seems that all the events out do themselves.

I had a truncated week this year; instead of going from Monday to Monday I went down on Wednesday and came home Sunday evening. I hit all the auctions to see some of their offerings, drove the new Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, went to Concorso Italiano and the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. I missed one event that I had planned on attending because of extreme brain fade.

Some pundits said they didn't expect the auctions to equal last year's results but seems to me they did very well. Total sales were $378,302,598. This figure doesn't include Rick Cole Auctions; they haven't release their numbers yet, or JR Auctions who won't report their sales although they did report that they sold 35-40% of the vehicles and boats offered. The top in sales dollars was RM Sotheby's with over $172 million.

One of the things that amazes me at the auctions is to see cars that not that long ago could be picked up for a relative song going for "wow" money. Yet at the same time I saw cars that went for way less than I would have expected. Like a '99 Ferrari 456 M GTA that sold for a mere $36,000. Admittedly not the most sought after Ferrari but a Ferrari no less.
Not the Ferrari but a similar 456.

I was impressed by the overall quality of the offereings. It seems that every auction has upped their game. I expect to see the high quality vehicles at Bonhams, Gooding and RM Sotheby's but some of the others had a spotty past. Not any more. I saw some cars that weren't to my taste but I really didn't see any dogs.

Although I wrote a short article on the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider I have to mention it again. I see great things for Alfa once again. The 4C Spider is an exciting car that will put a smile on your face every time you drive it.

Concorso Italiano moved to Bayonet & Black Horse Golf Course last year and was there again this year. They were there a few years ago. If you love Italian cars this is the place to go. The outstanding Italian car was a black - yes black - 1972 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS.

The Pebble Beach Concour d'Elegance is the cornerstone of the week. You only see the absolute best of the best here. The downside to Pebble are the crowds. If you don't get your viewing done before 10 a.m. you have to contend with wall-to-wall people. Ever since I've been attending the ticket prices have gone up and up yet they still come. This year's tickets were $300 in advance and $350 at the gate.

This year's Best of Show was a 1924 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A F.

I have to give a special thanks to Meguiar's Car Care Products for allowing me into their hospitality patio. Barry and Karen Meguiar are two of the nicest, most gracious people I have ever met. Thank you for your kindness.

Almost every event during the week benefits a charity and for that I am thankful as well. The inhabitants of the Monterey Peninsula deserve a big thank you as well. Many visitors during the week forget that there are thousands of people who have to go to work every day while we enjoy the good life. The massive traffic jams are an inconvenience for us; for the residents it is hell. If you go next year be kind to those who live there.

There are many events that I did not get to this year and I am sorry. Time will tell what I do next year.

Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance

The Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance is the premier Concours in the USA, one of the best in the world. It is a must see for every car person on the face of the earth.

Every year I think they cannot keep it going at that year's level, both in the quality of the cars and the number of attendees. When I first started going I think the tickets were just under $100. This year the advance ticket was $300 ($350 at the gate). And the crowds never get smaller. 

Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance Best of Show Winner
1924 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A F
(photo property of Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance)
1951 Mercury Fred Rowe Custom Convertible
1950 Mercury Leo Lyons Custom Coupe
1963 Harcraft Special Mickey Thompson Indianapolis Race Car
Cunningham w/Chrysler Hemi
1955 Cunningham C-6R
1953 Cunningham C-3 Vignale Covertible
1955 Porsche 550RS Spyder
1956 Jaguar D-type Sports Racer
1957 Fiat Stanguellini Bertone Spider
1955 Mercedes-Benz W196R Grand Prix
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SLR
1970 Mercedes-Benz C111
1903 Thomas Model 18 Shelden Rear Entrance Tonneau

1911 Inter-State Model 31-A Four Passenger Demi-Tonneau
1910 Speedwell Model 10-L Burr Landaulet Town Car
1917 Moon 6-45 Roadster
1929 Hispano-Suiza H6B Hibbard & Darrin Cabriolet de Ville
1937 Delahaye 145 Franay Cabriolet
1937 Peugeot 402 Pourtout Cabriolet
1931 Invicta LS Carbodies Coupe
1939 Atalanta Abbott Drophead Coupe engine
1939 Atalanta Abbott Drophead Coupe
1956 Lincoln Continental Mk II Coupe
1938 Graham Model 97 Saoutchik Convertible

1956 Maserati A6G 2000 Frua Coupe
1952 Ferrari 340 Mexico Vignale Spyder