Automotive Thoughts and Topics 2

In the diecast part of my automotive passion, I have a follow up on the black and gold series of Hot Heels I mentioned in my last vlog/blog. There have been two pictures of two cars that have been displayed and they are nothing like how I imagined them looking. The 67 Camaro I predicted was not one of the cars. While I still don’t know if it will be, based on the color schemes of the cars that debuted, I am leaning towards a no. See for yourself below.

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In the real automotive world, I took a trip  a few weekends to my wife’s parents home in Maryland. My wife was a bridesmaid and because she had to be with the wedding party all day before the wedding, I spent time with her family. Her dad took me to see a friend of his who has a 1963 Ford Galaxie. He told me the story of the Tasca Ford badge he had on the car. I was not familiar with Tasca before, but the story he told me about their tuning of Ford vehicles had me riveted. I looked then up further when I got home and I was fascinated at their legacy and story. If I had a Ford product, (someday I will get my wife her dream car, a red convertible Mustang) I would certainly consider having Tasca tune it. If you are not familiar with them you can check out Tasca here.

If you have not heard, there is a very big scandal being exposed in the steel industry. A Japanese steel manufacturer and supplier, Kobe Steel, has been discovered to have lied about its steels strength. This could have catastrophic effects on the safety of automobiles, planes, and other people moving things. What I find fascinating about the whole situation is that this is really as common now as it ever has been. In my time on this planet I have seen the Firestone tire scandal, the Takata air bag scandal, the VW diesel scandal, and a host of others that just are not at the top of my mind. All that to say, eventually, it will all be in the history books and show up on lists like this in another 10 years.

Lastly, and this topic is actually the one I am most opinionated about this week, is the sponsorship of the Number 24 car in NASCAR for the 2018 season with William Byron behind the wheel. That sponsor is Liberty University. I am excited for the rookie driver to take his skills to the Monster Energy series. I have nothing against William, Hendrick, or Chevrolet (how about those Camaro’s for 2018?). I actually don’t have anything against Liberty University either. It is a great school. My cousin graduated from there and I have known many people who have attended and graduated.

The truth is that I am a bit sore, maybe jealous, that they are sponsoring a NASCAR team. You see, I attended Regent University. It is known to those who are familiar with either of these universities, or the culture that surrounds them, that Regent and Liberty are rivals. In recent years, Liberty has been leaving Regent in the dust in just about every way from a collegiate standpoint. Beyond academia, their promoting power is extensive, and it became very real to me when they are going to be a full time sponsor for a NASCAR team in the highest series. I am not sure of the complete budget, but based on this article here, in 2013, a primary sponsorship could cost anywhere from $5 million to $35 million. An associate sponsorship is anywhere from $250,000 to $2 million. That was in 2013. That means, Liberty University is shelling out, at minimum of $250,000. To be honest, we all know that it is MUCH higher than that. Liberty is sponsoring one of the most iconic numbers with one of the most successful teams, with one of the brightest rookie drivers in the sport.

The fact that Liberty has that much money in their advertising budget, or any budget, is INCREDIBLE. They must be doing incredibly well. My alma mater can barely house their student population, they have no cafeteria, no gym for their newly formed soccer team to train in, or really any other facility to provide for all the things on campus students need. To build those, Regent has to have money. Regent can barely provide for the needs of students and here Liberty is able to sponsor a NASCAR team. Gosh…I wish I could say the college I went to sponsors a NASCAR team. I so wish I could. Oh well. I will be rooting for William in the number 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro. I will be rooting for him to win and to have as much success as he can. I want him to win because the whole story situation is just awesome.

It is like any other rivalry, where you have someone in your camp, that really isn’t for your side at all. It is comparable to living in either Ohio or Michigan and rooting for the opposite states college football team. I will gladly root for Regents rival in NASCAR, because I like NASCAR. But I will NEVER root for the team up north. Go Bucks!

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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.

A Weekend Full Of Wheels

The weekend was an absolute blast. There are so many automotive events that happened this weekend. I’m really going to share the events I attended and make a brief comment on a topic of great relevancy at the current time.

First up, Friday evening I went with my dad over to the Ashtabula county fair in Jefferson Ohio. My grandparents live near there and I’ve heard so many things about the how great the demo derby is at the fair. Well, in my opinion, it was interesting, not quite like other derby’s I have been to. It was a patience game and very slow, strategic, and inconsistent. With that said it was very interesting to experience a different way of doing things, although it was not exactly the best way. I did enjoy the time and experience I had with my dad and uncle who accompanied us. On an entertainment scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the best, I give it a 6. It receives a “passing” grade mostly for the different way of hosting the derby.

Next up, Saturday evening, I called an audible and instead of going dancing, My dad and I stopped on our way home in Norwalk Ohio at Summit Motor Sports Park for the Night Under Fire. Best decision ever. I absolutely love drag racing. Four funny cars, two top fuels, gassers, top fuel bikes, four jet cars, and one jet semi….made for such an epic evening. And top it all off with a $100,000 fireworks show, it was just incredible. But it still didn’t stop there. After all the racing we got to go down and see the cars and meet the drivers on the track! I was so super pumped because I had never been on the track. But it still keeps going BECAUSE…remember I said two top fuels? Well, one of those just happened to be the lovely, talented, and fastest girl in motor sports, Brittany Force! I GOT HER AUTOGRAPH! I was very happy. I still am.

It all accumulated to one epic experience. Summit Motor Sports Park knows how to put on a SHOW! A legit, fun, safe, involved, entertaining show! I give it a 10 with all the accolades possible! Sheer happy epicness! I walked out of there with the biggest smile ever!

So that’s pretty hard to top. Almost impossible. Which, I will say right up front, the car show I went to on Sunday afternoon did not beat Saturday evening. I give Sundays car show in my little town of Tiffin, an 8. It is hosted by the Amvets and they have really great music, food, prizes, and of course cars. Lots of them for such a little town. I wandered around by myself just enjoying being in the classic, stereotypical car show atmosphere. I had been to the same show two years ago and that was great then as well. I was very pleased to see that it was still going strong, even after I missed a year.

So that was my incredible automotive weekend.

To just comment on the tragic incident regarding Tony Stewart and Kevin Ward Jr. It is very sad that a life has been lost in the motor sports realm. The magnitude of this event is going to impact aspects of the sport in all levels. I believe Kevin did not make a wise choice by getting out of his car. I believe that Tony should reflect on all the events of his recent years on dirt and evaluate what he should do moving forward. It is saddening to see the effects of impulsive decisions, no matter acted upon or spoken, this has caused a great ripple. I am praying for healing and wisdom.

Now that I have gotten all that out, hopefully I will be able to get back to blogging more and sharing all things automotive. My goal is to go to the Woodward Dream Cruise this weekend. I will hopefully have plenty to say about that and am looking forward to sharing. Thank you so much for reading.

Brentton

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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.