Archive for the ‘ Automotive ’ Category

Collecting Influence

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Economics teaches us about the law of supply and demand and how they affect one another. I have found that to be true in the real life collector car world and it’s influence on diecast cars. Lately, I have been following the trend of the Ferrari F40 and the McLaren F1. These two cars in real life have skyrocketed in value, and that spike in popularity and prestige has carried over into the diecast collector world. It is hard to find a good Hot Wheels Ferrari F40 or McLaren F1 for a price below $10.

A few years ago I experienced the same thing with the Hot Wheels versions of the Tesla Roadster, Lamborghini Murcielago, and the Bugatti Veyron. I ended up spending far more than I care to admit to purchase a 2009 Dream Garage series Murcielago in green on eBay. Asking prices for that car are still quite high.

That situation plagues my mind while Hot Wheel hunting in stores now days. Often times when I find something on the pegs, I will tell myself, “It is only a dollar now. If you want it later, it is going to cost you.” Sometimes I still put it back on the shelf and walk out empty handed. I am trying to be a responsible adult. I am also hoping I’ll find it again to solidify that I should in fact purchase it.

One similarity between the two collector car markets is that the real life collector car world has concourse condition. Diecast car collecting conditions are in the package or not. This topic alone could lead to so many other discussion points. In real life, actual completely “original” vehicles are becoming very rare as age and limited replacement parts slowly take away from factory original condition. I think diecast has the same type of issue going on. The “DLM” or diecast liberation movement is a sweeping craze right now. That movement simply means that the cars are being opened and removed from their packaging. That might not be a big deal for diecast cars produced from 2000 on because of such a large number produced and records of those numbers. But, for cars produced in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, that can be alarming. The amount of still packaged cars from that time is dwindling and the unknown amount of produced versions is certainly going to factor in. The more cars that get opened from that time frame, the higher the demand and higher the price for an unopened original model will be.

A second similarity is that the real life collector car world has rare limited edition models and trims. Diecast has both limited edition production numbers in some cases as well as wheel and paint variations. Diecast has an advantage in this area because not only can they produce the real life car models with special trims, they can also customize them further. This can produce even greater demand for such limited models.

All collecting for both markets boils down to what are people willing to pay for what they want. Perception is important and closely following trends in both real life car collecting and diecast collecting will certainly be beneficial. With all this in mind, know what you want, know how much you want to pay for it, and go enjoy the things you purchase.

 

Oh, what a show!

Over the weekend my wife and I went to a car show hosted by ODMA at the Founders Inn in Virginia Beach. The weather was warm and comfortable. The overcast skies provided superior conditions for photo taking. The cars ranged greatly in make, model, and year, the oldest in attendance of which we believe was a 1909 Franklin.

That was the particularly interesting part to me. It is nice attending car shows with such a variance in age of vehicles. There were many pre-war cars in attendance. They are always a pleasure to see.

Not only was the large attendance of pre-war cars interesting to me, but also the incredible kindness by the owners of the vehicles. Never have I been to a show where people have been so friendly and enthusiastic about sharing their car. My wife, beautiful as always, looked like a southern belle and was offered many times to sit in vehicles to get her picture taken. She basked in the attention and experience and I was one incredibly proud husband.

We enjoyed ourselves very much at the show. It was a unique and rare experience and I am so glad that people in the car culture world have such warm welcomes to strangers. My wife and I are looking forward to more car shows this year, and certainly for the return of this show next year!

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My wife in what we believe was the oldest car at the show, a 1909 Franklin.

 

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My wife in her favorite car at the show, a 1966 Ford Mustang convertible.

The Lamborghini Lament

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When Lamborghini first rumored they were going to be building a new SUV, I was super excited. I remembered the first one they made, the LM002, and what an outlandish, absurd, and over the top vehicle it was. It was a brutish vehicle that looked like it was in the military reserves one weekend a month, two weeks out of the year. It then would practice law by day, and shuffle the family from horse riding lessons and ballet at night. It was amazing. At least, it has become that iconic to me. I have never driven it but, I guess, I just have this perception, this expectation of what it is.

So when they released the Urus, I was a bit taken aback. That was not the SUV I was envisioning. Now, I know it has not been tested yet. I know that when they conceived this vehicle, they did not know that Ford would be rumoring the return of the Bronco, or that Jeep would be rumoring the return of the Grand Wagoneer. All the big players in the off road game, like Hummer, Land Rover, Jeep, Mercedes G Class, Lexus, and the Ford Raptor should have been worried. The more luxurious ones and soon to be ones, Bentley, Rolls Royce, Maserati should have taken note. Instead, they made something that looks like “an urban mom” would drive, as my wife described.

Harken back farther than the 80s and you’ll remember that Lamborghini made tractors before it made sports cars. Yes, that’s right tractors. In fact, they still make tractors. With all those years of agricultural earth crawling and hauling knowledge, why could they not have applied that to a new SUV? They could have made it rugged, rambunctious, and ridiculous. They have all the right ingredients to make something fast, powerful, and luxurious. It would have been beyond capable, practically at home, off road, to outperform the competition in every conceivable way.

I really wanted the Lamborghini SUV to be a gorilla in a tuxedo. A big, bulky, but surprisingly good looking sight that you can’t take your eyes off of because it is just…bewildering. Its performance would be as obnoxious as expected, but with enough charm that you can’t blame it. These are all qualities that I think are in the lineage of the company and were expressed in the LM002.

Maybe I will put a poster up on my wall like many kids did back in the day with their dream cars. This time, the poster will just be filled with words. Words about a car, because it only exists in my dreams.

Caution : Throwing the Win(d)

I recently read an article by Jenna Fryer, an AP Auto Racing Writer, via the Advertiser Tribune in Tiffin Ohio.  The article was entitled “NASCAR Call To Throw Caution Isn’t Even A Debate.” I would encourage you all to read her article before reading my thoughts and opinions on her article and the subject in general.

I have some serious disagreements with her article.  For starters “The gripe could not have been more off base,” is just plain bold to state. There are always two sides to anything, and for that caller to make the comment, is welcoming articles like Jenna’s to be written, and then commentaries like mine to be written. I’ll accept the heat taken for what I write.

An area of the article I don’t see how it relates in any form or fashion is “Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti was just released from a hospital last week…” and what does this have to do with NASCAR throwing a caution?! All motor sports are dangerous, and the drivers realize that. Ms. Fryer, if you are going to get on the soap box and make a point, stick to it. If you want to have a beef with NASCAR, have a beef, but don’t support it by lumping in all the drivers hurt, injured, or killed from all types of motor sports. Your point is safety, and more specifically, safety in NASCAR. Don’t get off point.

Ms. Fryer states that “In a season that will be remembered for a rash of driver injuries, not throwing a caution would have been negligent of NASCAR.” I would love to know how that is the case? Caution flags DO NOT prevent wrecks or injuries. A caution simply raises awareness that there is a hazard on the track.  Taken directly from  the NASCAR website, “Yellow flag: Signals a caution, which tells drivers to slow down to a predetermined speed. Debris on the track, typically following a wreck, is often the chief culprit for this flag.” No where does it state that a yellow flag predicts and prevents wrecks. Quite the contrary actually. So, in my opinion, I don’t understand how it would have been negligent to NOT throw a caution?

The next statement that had me stunned was, “That this is even being discussed and there are people complaining about NASCAR’S decision, is appalling.” Well, let me tell you Ms. Fryer, that if you had not written about the caller to SiriusXM NASCAR, the topic would not be subject to large scale discussion. But because YOU took the action you did, and just one of the many places it ended up getting printed was in a paper of a town of 20,000 people, well…you are just begging for the topic to be discussed. Well done. I am appreciating the chance to share my opinions on a large scale now as well.

In regard to the whole Darrell Wallace Jr. bit, it makes sense he is afraid. But fear cannot control or dictate how the sport gets called. These drivers, this is their profession. Any one of us humans have to realize that no matter where, or how fast we go, whenever we enter in a vehicle, there is a chance we might not come back.  It seems the deeper issue here is if we are comfortable as participants and spectators of continuing to put our mind, body, and soul into something. If we aren’t, then why are we existing?

The line stating, “It’s on NASCAR to back them down, and at Talladega, where the scramble to the finish line is always, chaotic, NASCAR did the absolute right thing on Sunday.” I don’t think so, and I am going to let the picture below, of the AP website, prove my point.

Read the two headline stories that are side by side. Ironic?

Read the two headline stories that are side by side. Ironic?

The next bit of the article, from “To some fans,” and ending with “had up his sleeve,” is just really…unsettling. The whole point of NASCAR trying to even out the field and provide racing like that of which was on Sunday is to watch the cars RACE to the finish line as fast as they can, doing what it takes to get there. If you don’t, what is the point?

One of the lines in the article I couldn’t help but laugh at was “This isn’t a blood sport, drivers aren’t Roman gladiators, and there comes a time when a race is simply over.” If that is the case, then I suggest you call up Bruton Smith and tell him that you don’t agree with way Bristol Motor Speedway is advertised, as proven in the video below.

Lastly in the article, all this information about Tony Stewart, it just goes back to the whole motorsports is dangerous overall. I fully understand and accept that Ms. Fryer. I am certain all the drivers do too. Again, I believe safety is the topic and issue you wanted to write about, you just used NASCAR as a way to bring it up. While I don’t quite agree with the way you brought this point up, I do agree that “Nobody wants any more driver deaths or injuries.” I do believe there is common ground to be found and that there can be races that are entertaining, fast, AND safe. Then everyone can enjoy that from all the many areas to which we participate in our love for motorsports.

I Shed A Little “Light” On The Subject

An interesting story in the automotive news world recently has been the issue over headlights. While the story has currently been on many automotive sites, I first read about it on Yahoo, and in any case, many seemed to make this issue seem very recent. However, after looking into it, the issue was actually started much further back, as  you can read in an article here that was written in February 2013 about it.

Audi has introduced “matrix LED” headlights to the world, which in short, is an advanced headlight with the ability to turn corners and automatically brighten or dim to properly illuminate the drivers view. The problem with this new system is that a United States law from 1968 says that there can only be two setting for headlights, high and low, thus, prohibiting the “matrix LED” from being on a vehicle sold in the US. Our friends in Europe will be able to enjoy Audi’s “bright” idea on their vehicles. I did do a little digging, and found what I believe is the law that states the high low beam issue. The more interesting thing to note is that before I found what I believe is the law, I am became much more aware of all the issues at hand.

One such issue is that due to the government and private sector being so distant from one another in advancement of technology, and the inability to communicate to one another about such technology; that in turn causes the government to cautiously proceed when they do not understand and cannot properly define or regulate certain technologies. That is one issue in this headlight ordeal.

Another is the overall American automotive headlight laws and regulations in general. Each state has their own laws and rules, which obviously must first adhere to the national laws. This is where I see a problem.

The problem is that not all headlights are created equal. We have all seen the cars equipped with the xenon headlights. Those emit a much different light that standard headlights. The sheer difference in light emitted by all sorts of headlights on cars on the road is really not a good case for the government to claim cars can only have two settings. Sure you can have a “high” and a “low” but the light emitted in those settings can vary from bulb to bulb and vehicle to vehicle. From what I understand, “matrix LED” equalizes what each car emits because it is senses the light surrounding your car. That would be much more beneficial to all drivers.

We have all come across a driver who has forgotten to turn off their brights. That can be unpleasant and sometimes it results in an accident. “Matrix LED” would eliminate that because it would dim for you. However, it is also fair to point out that, a system like this can be distracting and unpleasant as well. The ability for lights to change on their own in fractions of seconds could result in distracted driving in the same manner as our current method of headlight change, human error.

I can see the pros and cons of the issue. I understand both the government and the auto makers side of things. I also understand the consumer side. There are so many factors and opinions that can be weighed and expressed. Feel free to let me know what you think.

Tidbits for Today

Tidbits for today…

I read this article earlier in the week about the GT-R. He was making decent sense…until, “I want the GT-R to be more like an NSX…” …WHAT?! Um, the GT-R should NEVER be like the NSX. It was never supposed to be like the NSX, nor is it, nor shall it ever be. Then to say “Think 560-horsepower AWD FR-S and you’re most of the way there.”  In what world is the FR-S like the NSX?! You don’t even make sense in your trippy logic! To my fellow car blogger, you are a few cylinders short of a GT-R.

I read this article about Lincoln the other day and how this author feels the company just needs to be laid to rest. I do agree. I see the whole Ford Motor Company as Apple; in a league of their own, I will leave it at that (although I’m not a big fan of Apple, so you can assume my feelings about Ford). However, with that said, I would love to take a shot at marketing a revival for Lincoln. They need to associate themselves with comebacks. Comebacks that a younger and well established customer would recognize and think to themselves, I want to be a part of that. That is just the surface of ideas that I would use to market a comeback for Lincoln. I would go so far to say that they don’t even need to do any restyling, they just need much better marketing. Image consulting is more the concept.

I was very happy that Kyle Busch swept the weekend at Texas Motor Speedway! I am a huge Joe Gibbs Racing fan and Kyle Busch fan! Super excited for all parties!

In relation to the NASCAR, I did not see any problem with the NRA sponsoring the race. It makes complete sense to me from exactly what this article states, “Eddie Gossage, the president of the Texas Motor Speedway, told CBS Sports he actually hasn’t heard much in the way of controversy over the race. He said the NRA’s sponsorship is “not about politics. It’s about sports marketing.” ITS ABOUT SPORTS MARKETING. Perfect sense in my book.

There are certainly more tidbits I have spinning around in my head, and hopefully I will be able to get more out later this week. But these ones have been swirling for a few days now and I want to make sure I am staying current and relevant. It’s what you deserve. Feel free to tell me what you think in the comments below!

Hard to tell about the Chevelle

I have been reading a lot about this whole subject of Chevrolet working on trademarking the “Chevelle” name. There have been so many speculations, comments, critics, praises, hopes, dreams, spite, and just about any other feeling that can be evoked or thought that could be conceived about this subject; which is exactly why I want to weigh in.

Before I begin, I want to state that Barrett-Jackson is currently on while I am typing this and I just watched an original 1970 Challenger Hemi cross the block. One of the commentators mentioned how he prefers the Challenger over the Cuda. That thought provoked me even further to share my thoughts on this whole “Chevelle” topic.

Having stated that, back in 1970, there was so much sibling rivalry and same model competition in the automotive world that they probably had no idea how much that would influence the car world today when it comes to rarity and events like Barrett-Jackson. If you look at 1970 General Motors, you had the Chevelle, the GTO, the 442, and the GSX. Talk about sibling competition?! Not to mention all the options and trims for each model in their own right, there was seriously a plethora of choices for consumers.

In the present day competition is bleak and options are very limited compared to years past. Case in point, where is a CTS Coupe Convertible? Every vehicle I mentioned earlier from 1970 had a convertible option. I do realize much of that has to do with the ending and consolidation of many car brands. But in today’s age, I find the issue of sibling competition a sad excuse to not produce, or limit any other aspect of the vehicle. GM has already governed the power of the Camaro in order not to stifle with the pedigree of the Corvette. But why does it really matter? Even amongst their own models do the cars get limited! For example the Corvette Z06 and the Corvette ZR1; the Z06 is kept restrained below the ZR1 just for nostalgia sake. That is ridiculous in my opinion and that is part of what makes this “Chevelle” issue so difficult.

Autoblog has an article that states two speculations. The first is that the new “Chevelle” could become the Code 130R Concept and fill a slot in the stable below the Camaro. I think there might be something to that happening simply because there is another rumor swirling that there soon could be a baby Corvette the “Corvette Coupe” coming. I would think it will be like a Saturn Sky Redline (which pretty much was a baby Corvette) before it chopped.  It would make sense for GM to start making smaller models of their bigger siblings. I am all about more options and more models. The second speculation is that the recently introduced Chevrolet SS could become the Chevelle and go the way Dodge did with the Charger by making it a four door. I am not quite sure why Chevrolet made the SS, but I think it is meant to be used as a practical, in use concept. From there, I don’t really know. I do not agree with the speculation that the SS will become the Chevelle.

In my opinion Chevrolet currently has everything they need for a Chevelle. To put it simply, CTS Coupe = Chevelle. I apologize for taking so long to get to such a simple point. Do a little retro-mod designing, give it all the motor options the Camaro has, and you have a Chevelle. That would hold more true to what many people already know that a Chevelle is, and instill that image in a newer generation who has yet to know it.

I wrote a blog in 2009 about an issue very similar to this regarding the Pontiac G8, Chevrolet Caprice, and Monte Carlo.

So, I think GM should bring back the Chevelle in a retro-mod style on a CTS Coupe chassis with all the Camaro motor options. That would be a worthy Chevelle, and if I had any money, I’d buy it. From there, Chevrolet could possibly resurrect the Monte Carlo name plate and place it on the SS. Bring back some friendly competition between the siblings of the brands and their own models. Give the buyers options and pride in owning something. It is evident that the wide variety brings longevity to the car hobby, because as I write this last sentence, a 1970 Buick GSX goes across the block on Barrett-Jackson.