Monday, December 7, 2015

Is it time for snow tires?

I received a press release from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) a week or so ago about the "All-new Mopar Winter Wheel Assemblies." Boy did that take me back. The gist of the release is that FCA will be offering winter wheel assemblies (wheels, tires with tire pressure monitoring sensors) for some vehicles. Imagine that snow tires mounted on steel wheels. That used to be the norm.

Back before all-season tires (that aren't really) most drivers in the snow-belt regions had at least two snow tires for winter. The smart (or those with more money) had four snow tires and those that could had their snow tires already mounted and balanced. It just made it so much easier, so easy in fact that dad could put the snow tires on the family station wagon all by himself.

Snow tires more or less replaced tire chains except in extreme conditions. Chains were a real pain to install and many people my age have heard tales of a broken link resulting in some serious body damage. Snow tires worked relatively well except maybe in icy conditions (Goodyear produced "The Ice Radial" for a bit but it didn't find a market).

Now it seems very few people mount snow tires putting their faith in all-season tires and front-wheel-drive. I consider myself a decent winter driver but I don't live where it snows. I have though and I would want a complete set of snow tires.

When I lived in Toronto, just before moving to California, I had an '89 5.0 Mustang. We'd had a couple of so-so snow storms and I was able to get back and forth to work without a problem. Then we had a real storm. I lived about ten miles from work - it took me over two hours to get to work. Those big old Goodyears just wouldn't bite. In fact at one point going up a very slight hill the only traction I got was from the sidewalls on the curb!

So I went out and bought four Michelin snow tires. The 5.0 was a little squirrely when the roads were bare (the tread tended to squirm) but when it snowed I could actually go.

My advice to anyone who lives where it snows is to buy snow tires - all four if you can - and have them mounted and balanced on extra rims. And for those of you with a FCA product head on over to your dealer and see if they have a set ready for you.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Cool Harbor Nights - Thursday, December 3, 2015

I hope that everyone enjoyed their holiday and are ready to get out and get some fresh air. We have just the opportunity for you, as Cool Harbor Nights is here upon us again. This month's show is Thursday, December 3rd, from 3pm until duskAs usual, we will be meeting in front of Princeton Seafood Company. I am hoping the rain will come before and after the show, which it most often does.

Last month's show was fantastic. The parking lot was full and a few cars spilled over into the other rows. Many people stayed late after the show to dine, drink and share time together. The winners of our drawings were:

Chris Jackson - Gift certificate for dinner at Princeton Seafood Company

Gary Tensfeldt - Gift certificate for dinner at Ketch Joanne and Harbor Bar

We still have a very wet winter predicted ahead, so please try to join us now, if you can. Anthony Aguendes of Half Moon Bay High School Industrial Arts Program will be in attendance to administer his fundraiser.

As always, if you have any questions, please contact me.

Frank Besnyi

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Hispanic Motor Press Awards® announced the Best Cars of 2016

 This just in from fellow auto writer Ricardo Rodriguez:

LA AUTOSHOW, Los Angeles.-
Selecting the best cars for the Hispanic family is monumental task. Every year about one hundred cars are considered for the Hispanic Motor Press Awards® program as the auto industry expands it's offerings with new vehicles. The judges work from January, as the new models become available from the manufacturer's before finally selecting 3 final contenders in the different categories. The judging group has been honoring the most outstanding cars and trucks of their segments for the Hispanic family since the inception of the Hispanic Motor Press Awards®  in 2010 at the LA Auto Show.

According to data from Polk, Hispanics are projected to spend $18 billion on new vehicles in 2016. Even though that figure represents only 9% of total new-vehicle sales in the United States, Hispanic auto buyers will account for 24% of growth in new-vehicle sales. The impact of Latinos continue to increase exponentially in the market. The ever-increasing group of Hispanic consumers are influencing the market and companies must consider and incorporate this community needs and wants as part of their plan for future sales.

For the 6th annual awards the jury director, Ricardo Rodriguez-Long (Garage Latino Show), put together a panel of judges that includes Hispanic auto journalists as well as other Hispanic media leaders who reviewed and drove the cars and trucks.  Each vehicle’s virtues were assessed as they relate to the typical Hispanic family in the United States. The awards' vetting process includes test drives,  mass market availability, and affordability data valuations. The committee takes into account overall design, comfort, safety, performance, functionality, accessory content, driver satisfaction, consumer final cost, and overall value package to select the vehicles that offer the best value for the Hispanic consumer.

The jury panel this year included Camilo Alfaro (Autoproyecto), German Angel (SoCal Public TV), Cesar Arredondo (National Hispanic Journalist Asociation-LA Chapter), Karen Blanco (Ejecutiva & Negocios Magazines), Yvonne Condes (Moms LA), David Leon (La Prensa Colombiana Newspaper), Jaime Florez (ESPN Radio), Jose Pepe Forte (Univision Radio), Simon Gomez (freelance), Enrique Kogan (Huffington Post Newspaper), Alejandro Maciel (Hoy Los Angeles Newspaper), Yolanda Machado (Sassy Mama in LA), Valerie Menard (Latino Traffic Report), German Sierra (La Prensa & Excelsior Newspapers), and Al Vazquez (FAMA Magazine)

"This has been the hardest year in terms of selecting the winners", said judge director Ricardo Rodriguez-Long. "OEM's are creating extremely sophisticated, fuel efficient, and diverse power train technologies as well as the best ergonomics for the family for what seems like less money. The Hispanic consumer benefits from all this with overall savings and lower maintenance costs".

For the 6th annual awards we are honored to announce the best vehicles which represent a great choice for the Hispanic family. The 2016 HMPA Award Winners Autos De Hoy® are:
Innovation Award                     TOYOTA Mirai
Sub Compact                           Ford Fiesta
Compact Sedan                        HONDA Civic
Family Sedan                           KIA Optima
Large Sedan                             Cadillac CT6
Pickup L-Duty                          TOYOTA Tacoma
Pickup F-Duty                          Chevrolet Silverado
Pickup H-Duty                           Ram 3500
SUV Compact                           JEEP Renegade
SUV                                          HONDA  Pilot
CrossOver Sub Compact           MAZDA  CX3 AWD
CrossOver  Compact                 HYUNDAI Tucson
CrossOver                                 Mercedes Benz GL Coupe
Hybrid Car                                Chevrolet VOLT
MiniVan                                   KIA  Sedona
American Muscle                     FORD  Shelby GT350
Sports Car                                MAZDA  Miata MX-5

For the 6th annual awards the final vehicle selection represent the best option for the Hispanic family in each automotive segment. The winners excel with a high degree of engineering and standard of quality. Their safety features offer superior protection for all of the occupants.  All these cars incorporate the latest in infotainment and mobile connectivity. Additionally, they all have high efficiency engines that yield great fuel economy. Their pricing and projected residual values offer great value within their respective segments. For more information about the awards and previous winners visit: 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Up To $87 Billion!

Credit Suisse, the huge Swiss financial institution, has estimated the cost of the Volkswagen diesel debacle may run from a low of $25-billion to a high of $87-billion. Volkswagen disagrees.

Forbes estimates that the market capitalization of Volkswagen Group is $126-billion. I'm no financial genius but if Credit Suisse is anywhere near correct VW is in trouble.

No one, not even VW it seems, knows for sure how this fiasco is going to be resolved. Can VW come up with a software fix? And if so how will the vehicle owners react if it seriously lowers the fuel economy? What if VW has to buy back all those vehicles?

As I said before this may well be catastrophic for the world auto industry. Volkswagen Group is, or was, the world's largest auto manufacturer producing Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, Seat, Skoda and of course Volkswagen.

There were rumors that other manufacturers may have fiddled to get better fuel economy numbers while passing pollution tests but so far only VW is in the cross-hairs.

Do I really believe that VW will fail as a result of all of this? No. I have no idea how they will get out of the mess they created but I think they will. Time will tell.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Ranchero Resurrected - Ford Falcon Pursuit

2012 Australian Ford Falcon FPV (Ford Performance Vehicles) GT R Spec

With news out a while ago that Ford will resurrect the Ranger (hooray!) maybe it's time for this dyed-in-the-wool Ranchero owner to hope for a new Ranchero.

The Ranger will look somewhat like the Australian version. More than likely it will be equipped with a version of an Eco-Boost engine instead of the diesels offered in Australia. It's not a bad looking truck.
2015 Australian Ford Ranger

But this is about the Australian Ford Falcon Pursuit, aka Ranchero. Powered by the Boss 5.0 liter, supercharged, DOHC 32-valve, all-aluminum V8 that puts out 422 horsepower (315 kw) and 401 lb-ft (545 Nm) it ought to power the Pursuit very well. You can get it with either a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission. 

Here's some other specs:
High flow dual outlet exhaust, big brakes (322 mm/12.7" front, 303 mm/11.9" rear), and 19" x 8" alloy wheels.

There were only 120 of these babies being built in Australia. Maybe we can convince Ford to build something similar in North American. If so it might be time for this Ranchero guy to stop playing with old cars and get a new one. 


I'm not one to go gaga over celebrity's cars but if that floats your boat here's a Ferrari for you. From my friend Cindy Meitle:

“Prestigious Classic Car Dealership Launches Ebay Online Auction Sale for October 10th

Los Angeles, CA October 10, 2015 – Beverly Hills Car Club has launched the eBay sale of an original 1983 Ferrari 400i once owned by world-renowned tennis icon John McEnroe. The highly collectible classic will be offered for sale online to the highest bidder starting Saturday, October 10 and ending Tuesday, October 20 at 2:08PM PST.  “The Ferrari has all of the class, style and sophistication of its previous owner and Beverly Hills Car Club is honored to be able to offer the Ferrari for sale on Ebay,” said Alex Manos, owner of one of the largest classic car dealerships in the United States.

“We get offered cars from many celebrities, but it’s not often that we get a Ferrari from one of the world’s greatest living tennis legends of all time, John McEnroe. He was a force to be reckoned with and so is the Ferrari,” commented Manos. In the last few years, Ferrari cars have garnered heightened attention from collectors and investors as sale prices for desirable examples have been recorded in excess of $1 million to over $30 million.

McEnroe was at the top of his game in 1983, earning his fourth Wimbledon title by defeating Ivan Lendl in the Wimbledon semifinals. He then nabbed the Men’s Wimbledon title after defeating New Zealand’s Chris Lewis. Aside from being awarded tennis’ most prestigious Cup, it is likely McEnroe rewarded himself with this classic ’83 Ferrari.

 “Ferraris and cars with provenance such as those previously owned by celebrities or other iconic figures, are certain to bring a great return on investment down the road, said Manos. The car has an ideal color combination for almost any car, let alone a classic Ferrari. It's black with tan leather interior, has automatic transmission and 50,477 original miles. It is being made available for sale on Ebay

Sales Inquiries:

Sean Porrazzo
Beverly Hills Car Club                                      

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 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, 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