On the inventive Past
the ingenious Future will thrive.
George M Wand
TABLE OF CONTENTS
4 - 5 – 6
Identifying cover photos
Snippets of automotive history from around the world
You don't know where to go, until you see where you have been
Oil in Azerbaijan used on a daily basis more than 1000 years ago
The very first ‘Autos-Mobilis’ - more than five hundred years ago
Mistaken accuracy of alleged historical facts
Automobile history before Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz
The original Cadillac, the ones we know, and a new V-16?
First oil well in Azerbaijan, then Canada, then Pennsylvania
Museums are the memory of society
On the inventive past the ingenious future will thrive
Celebrating 125 years of the automobile in 2011
Seriously, Germans did not invent the automobile
The word ‘Automobile’ was coined in France in 1876
Early days in the ‘Land of the Automobile’
From the home of Ferrari and Lamborghini
The shortest history of the European auto industry
Has Japan not endured enough already?
Korea is catching up fast - also on a tradition of carmakers
An automobile fit for an Empress
Solid like a BRIC – building in Brazil, Russia, India … and Malaysia
Crocodile with wheels sighted in Adelaide during Millennium Year
Automotive pioneers and personalities from then and now
Women, automobiles, and the myth of compatibility
From four-legged horsepower to V8 horsepower
Opening up new areas of thought, research, & development
Fighting words from the Mustang Maverick’s Mouth
In Detroit they called him Maximum Bob, in Europe Mr. Horsepower
Canadians’ contribution to automotive progress
A tribute to women who drive fast and safely
Building bridges between East and West
A modern-day automotive pioneer: a thinker, not a tinkerer
Leading the field at the Indy 500 in 2005
It’s all in the family - or, like father, like daughter
Does Ferrari have a direct line to a higher authority?
Is motorsport business, entertainment or sport?
Racing and ‘living better electrically’
The first really BIG auto race - halfway around the World
Herbie’s cousins win at Le Mans and around the world
Win on Sunday, sell on Monday, but is something holding back?
Everyone wants to be in The Green Hell now - on the Nordschleife
First Indy 500 race with renewable bio-fuel
No smoke! No smell! No noise!
Not just preserving precious petroleum, even racing without it
From bul dozers to World Speed Records, it’s Diesels
What does Anheuser Busch beer and Diesel fuel have in common?
The wheeled wonders we want
Most of us started this way
What’s in a name? Phaeton, Landau and Coupé were horse carriages
This tiny car made a huge contribution to automotive history
In one form or another, still one of the most popular cars
Duesenberg, the ultimate American luxury car
An automobile with a history like none other
Admiring and desiring a sixty year old beauty
Self-proclaimed expert slams promising new type of car
A V12 engine is so run of the mill
Charging ahead to ‘living better electrically’
The rise and fall of luxury automobiles
Automobiles in Art and as Art
From farm tractors to the world’s most stylish car
Fiat, the poor people’s Ferrari
Corolla out-numbers them all - Model T Ford, VW Beetle, Golf / Rabbit
The car that became a symbol of freedom for an oppressed nation
Why did Will and Kate leave the royal wedding in an Aston Martin?
Numerous automakers started by producing horse-drawn wagons
Like a cat, this car seem to have nine lives
A little of this and some of that
Life is 440 horsepower in a 2-cylinder engine
Foreign Fords or homegrown Hondas, which one is a domestic?
Doctor of Motors is a really difficult profession
Small-town reporter invited to try out various fuel cell vehicles
Safety is no accident
Modern monuments to motorcars
From a far distant land they come
A Christmas story for the young and the young at heart
The cost of these toys isolates men from boys
The Legacy of the Silver Ghost
They say that art ‘grows’ on you 193
The beginning of the end of the Petroleum Age
Quotations by Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and Charles Kettering
Racing to Preserve Precious Petroleum - a treatise of automobile history
What an unlikely title for a book about the
"You don't know where to go, until you see
history of automobiles. Nevertheless, this is
where you have been" , is an old adage,
a history of the automotive world at large,
connecting past and future,
presented in the form of short stories.
“On the inventive past the ingenious future
Short is the defining word, because the au-
thrives” is another way of phrasing this.
tomobile’s history can no longer be present-
Would you like to know what your next car
ed adequately, not even in 52 large volumes
will be like? Or the one you might be driving
- two for each letter of the alphabet.
ten years ‘down the road’?
This very incomplete history consists of arti-
Did you ever observe a car in a museum, or
cles about a wide variety of automotive sub-
at a car show —more than just looking at it?
jects, previously published as random week-
ly newspaper columns over a ten-year peri-
Clearly, you want to learn more. But reading
od. I have re-formatted, amended and com-
Racing to Preserve Precious Petroleum?
bined some articles, and sorted them to
Yes! — Absolutely! The race is on, literally
bring some structure to this book.
and figuratively, to save our world and civili-
Chronologically, ‘random’ does not make
zation from the consequences of running
out of oil.
sense. But after some reading, you will have
gained a reasonable insight into what
Oil is the form of energy which has ‘ moto-
makes an automobile tick, and how it all
vated’ the developed world for more than
started. You will discover the who, where,
one century. We now know that we are at
when, what and why this or that happened.
the beginning of the end of the Petroleum
Age. Everyone is trying to squeeze each
As in a large puzzle, the more pieces are
drop and stretch every dol ar’s worth of the
put into place, the clearer the picture be-
comes; It will all come together after a while.
‘Fuel for Thought’ articles
Amateurs and professionals, private- and
selected here for
factory-teams, use motorsport events to find
Racing to Preserve Precious Petroleum
ways to go farther and faster with every tank
most likely several books- are about peo-
of fuel; “Progress is moving ahead”.
ple and their ideas, and nuts and bolts to
hold it all together; — and wire. Lots of wire.
Scientists, engineers and chemists are ‘rac-
Wire brake-cables in the early days, then
ing’ to develop new forms of motive power
electrical wire and now optical cables and
in laboratories, to be useful in everyday life.
‘ drive by wire’.
New inventions, methods and procedures
come forth without letup, to lower fuel con-
As well, these books are all about cars and
sumption and diminish tailpipe emissions.
the people connected with them. Like the
Model T Ford & Thomas Edison(!), Porsche
I chose the title, because many people, like
& James Dean, Corvair & Ralph Nader,
yourself, enjoy the excitement of racing,
Jaguar or Bugatti and Jay Leno; — Ran-
whatever the type of event, or the class of
domly — from antiques to concept vehicles.
vehicle you might hold as your favourite.
Automobile racing started when the first two
You can read any of the following articles in
motorists met on the same trail or path in
random sequence. Most will cover one par-
their horseless carriage. “My auto-buggy is
ticular subject in chronological order, but
faster than yours” may have been the chal-
overall, the stories will cover car related
lenge, long before “Ladies and Gentlemen,
happenings and the technological progress
start your engines” was heard at Indy.
from the very beginning right into the future.
Racing — all forms of motorsports — con-
I have selected the most interesting and in-
nects people, technology and the human
formative, and a few humorous ones. Be-
spirit to excel. It is in our DNA to explore, to
sides the illustrations, (I added many for
improve, and to share what we have
these digital articles) — because a picture is
learned with others.
worth a thousand words — many articles
also have hyperlinks for extra fact gathering
My working life in the automobile industry
— if you so desire.
included all that, and now is the time to
share with you. That is only possible thanks
The great majority of the material appeared
to the World Wide Web and daily press re-
in regional newspapers under the weekly
leases from many automakers.
column ‘Fuel for Thought.’
I did not know I could ‘ write’, until my first
Mentioning that should entice you to build
publisher told me -before the Osprey Media
your own opinion about the subject matter
Group- — and only after the event— that
under discussion; It should lead you to de-
she had entered one of my early articles in
viate and explore complementary topics.
a journalistic competition.
Titles may differ from the headlines chosen
I am still just a word smith, and my passion
by the newspaper editors; I may use that, or
is for things with wheels.
one I deem more appropriate for the ideas
expressed. You will find a few unusual and
It started when our local, weekly newspaper
hilarious examples of this further on.
publisher learned of my connection with a
planned ‘ Museum of Automotive Evolution’
Several automotive websites have pub-
nearby. A staff reporter was dispatched to
lished longer, made to order, articles, which
interview me at 9 o’clock on a Sunday even-
you might find –revised- informative as well.
ing to get the ‘ scoop’ before the deadline.
Everything you wil read reflects the writer’s
That report was never published, but shortly
afterwards, my first item was.
experience of working on vehicles produced
around the world. From working on cars
I have been fortunate in having published
with carburetors, to instructing technicians
more than 500 articles, in print and on au-
on diagnosing on-board computers, to in-
tomotive websites, since that first one in
specting experimental solar vehicles – we
2002 - more or less by mistake. Soon after
have done it all.
that, I met another publisher who shares my
passion for cars. The articles found ac-
Whatever the topic or subject may be, I
ceptance among readers of several papers
hope you will find interesting what you are
of the Osprey Media Group, now part of Sun
about to peruse. Discover and enjoy!
I make no claim to any of the photos, illus-
or that example will make that happen for
trations or graphics, unless otherwise stat-
you in an educational and entertaining way.
ed. All images are the property of the origi-
nators and are displayed solely for addition-
Next will be eBook Number 2, containing
al meaning and clarity to the text. Every at-
articles about interesting vehicles, such as
unusual RVs, military, rescue and service
acknowledge the source, typically the re-
vehicles, amphibians, and others with two,
three, and more than four wheels, and why
& how they are designed and fabricated.
Wikipedia is a main source of illustrations,
as are several museums & institutions.
At this time, I plan to publish a series of four
(4) ‘R2PPP’ eBooks over a period of a few
months intervals; More material is at hand.
Because it is not possible to completely
eBook Number 3 will include information
separate from each other the individuals,
about designers and their work, facts & figures
events and the consequence of an idea, —
from interviews, and details of the most unu-
whatever it might be — the groupings are
tentative; the sequence not set in stone.
The #1 eBook touches on the early years in
the automobile’s life, the pioneers of yester-
day & today, and the countries involved.
A number of cars are featured, motorsport,
an integral part of the automobile, deserves
a few pages, and miscellaneous pieces will
The 4th eBook will look inside the industry
serve to entertain and inform you.
and the ‘nuts and bolts’ of everyday and way-
out automobiles; look inside hybrids and elec-
Many articles begin with a brief history, por-
tric cars, fuel-cell vehicles and foretaste the
tray and explain the modern-day situation,
future of transportation. Be surprised about
and touch on the future.
Remember, every article was a random part
in a weekly series of newspaper columns.
The continuity that some history books
might convey will have to come from within,
by you, dear reader, making the connection.
Reflecting on what you remember from this
I would like to express my gratitude and salute the automotive manufacturers and suppliers who liberally supply me with a constant stream of relevant news and interesting information.
Without your kind cooperation, I could not have put this book together. Your generosity with photos, illustrations and graphics make the text more clear. Without a doubt, a picture is worth a thousand words, to let readers understand where words alone fail.
Your media departments and motorsport divisions have given me insight into unexpected territory. My occupation and working life brought me into close contact with several manufacturers’ inner sanctums, and into the trackside pits not generally open to outsiders.
The individuals sending all the captivating technical and sporting releases, the rumours, hearsay and other gossip, are doing their part to make life fascinating for those of us who serve as go-between from auto-makers to auto users.
Listing each contributor alphabetically, I might risk overlooking someone. Instead, may each company and individual perusing these pages consider this statement as a token of my gratitude!
Thank you all for everything you have done by contributing to and helping to make these stories attractive, educational and entertaining.
It is my hope that every business mentioned in the pages following will benefit from interested readers becoming loyal customers.
A special ‘thank you’ to Google and Wikipedia for letting me dig out dates and details.
My heartfelt appreciation goes to everyone.
Identification of cover photographs – their owners’ names unknown
1. Frank Duryea in a Stevens-Duryea
2. Bugattis racing in Monaco
3. Henry Ford and Barney Oldfield with Old 999
4. Filipe Massa at the Canadian Grand Prix 2011
5. Audi R18 and ‘Blower Bentley’ 4.5 Liter (VWAG)
6. Porsche at Petit Le Mans in 2004
7. Michael Schumacher leading a group of Kart racers
8. Auto Union ‘Silver Arrow’ speed-record car at the AVUS
9. Jari Matti Latvala jumping a crest at Rally Sardinia in 2009
10. 1955 Chevrolet modified for drag racing
11. Larry Dixon ‘firing up’ his Top Fuel rail at a drag-strip
12. Jacques Villeneuve and Michael Schumacher battling in the rain in 1997
13. A Mini racing on the Nürburgring
14. Audi Quattro at a winter rally in 1981
15. NASCAR racing in 2006 at an unnamed track
16. Formula Truck racing at Interlagos, Brazil, in 2006
You don't know where to go, until you see where you have been
At this time of the year [January] we usually
In the early 1600s steam engines were first
reflect on the past and make plans for the
tried, and also the earliest piston engine.
Dutch, French and English inventors, espe-
cially James Watt (1736-1819), laid the So, let’s rewind and remind ourselves of
ground work for the industrial revolution.
how it all started; join a trip in Michael J
Fox’s time machine, before going back to Always striving to transport a heavier load
the future. Historians claim the automobile
or to move faster, certain individuals wanted
was invented in 1886. Actual y, nobody “in-
to ‘go the extra mile’. One such inventive
vented” the automobile; it is a combination
person was French military engineer Nico-
of ideas. Today’s motor-vehicle incorporates
las Joseph Cugnot (1725-1804). In 1769 a over 100,000 patents, far more than the
steam powered, three-wheeled tractor was
sum of its parts.
built under his instructions at the Paris Ar-
senal by ‘mechanique’ Brezin; it was to pull
Roger Bacon (1214–1294), aka Doctor Mi-
heavy artillery units in the Paris area. During
rabilis (from Latin: "wonderful teacher"), was the following year Cugnot built a steam-a Franciscan friar and English philosopher.
powered tricycle that carried four passen-
He is credited with advocating the modern
gers. But, steam engines added so much
European scientific method, inspired by ear-
weight to a road-going vehicle that they
ly Muslim scientists. A futurist, if ever
proved a poor design for this purpose.
there was one —eight hundred years
ago, he wrote
In 1803 the English Richard Trevithick built about “wagons which move
a steam-powered ‘people-carrier’, and in
with unbelievable speed without draught
1825 the first train rumbled about the Eng-
But even the best minds of the
lish countryside. A Dutch inventor tried to
time could only ponder such wagons.
use barely understood electricity for propul-
sion in 1835; the following year Giuseppe
The remarkable Leonardo da Vinci came
Botto used a battery-powered electromag-close to giving the world a self-moving wag-
on, an “autos mobilis”, with his stage prop,
netic motor to drive a wagon. At about this
time Jean Joseph Etienne Lenoir, and also
which moved on its own and steered itself
Alphonse Beau de Rochas developed a
for about fifteen meters during a play. The
natural-gas powered engine for a carriage.
French combined the Greek word autos
(self) with the Latin mobilis (movable), and
Lenoir’s engine was the basis for Nicolaus
auto-mobile was accepted into most lan-
August Otto’s four-stroke-cycle engine of guages. Historians, who had long accepted
1876, primarily used to this day. (Otto en-
that steam-powered road vehicles of 250
years ago were ‘automobiles’ now honor da
gine as opposed to Diesel engine) Soon,
Vinci as the originator. Leonardo’s sketches
Karl Friedrich Benz and Gottlieb Wilhelm
Daimler improved upon this engine and
were interpreted correctly only during the
used it to drive their vehicles in 1885 and
1990s, when a functioning model was re-
1886 is now considered to be the year of
Carriages and wagons remained every-day
‘tools’ for centuries, progressed little and
origin of the modern auto-mobile. Hence,
just about 125 years ago, horse-less car-
were powered by horses, oxen or other an-
riages were buggies moved either by a
steam-engine, or an electric motor powered
by batteries or, - the newest contraption-, an
internal combustion engine (ICE). These
auto-buggies were made-to-order by bicycle
makers, wagon shops, smiths, toolmakers,
or by other enterprising tradesmen for the
enjoyment or benefit of prosperous people.
Charles and Frank Duryea in Massachu-
setts, USA, were among the earliest to build
‘cars’ (short for carriages –disputed- or from
the from the Latin word carrus: wheeled ve-
hicle) that were reliable enough to find pay-
Soon, some companies made more than
one or two motor carriages at a time, and
they needed to purchase wheels, axles, en-
gines and other parts, rather than fabricate
Henry Ford’s birthday present to his wife Clara: a 1914
Detroit Electric, —— at the time when he built Model Ts.
every item in their own shop. Item by item,
the parts were made by people in shops
Many inventions were needed to improve
specializing in a particular type of compo-
automobiles from Cugnot’s steam tricycle to
nent. This is how the automotive supply in-
the cars of today, and many more refine-
ments are required for the cars of the future
— such as Lotus’ concept of an electric
The Duryea brothers are recognized as the commuter or mega-city car. More about this
earliest North-American automotive manu-
car in another article…
facturers; in fact, 1996 was the centennial of
the American automobile industry with the
Duryeas’ thirteen "mass-produced" cars.
Early USA manufacturers include Ransom
E. Olds, whose goal it was to replace the horse for everyday use with his lightweight
‘Curved Dash’ Oldsmobile. After the turn of the century, Olds is credited with manufacturing America's first mass-produced auto
as nearly 12,000 were built between 1901
Henry Ford's relatively simple Model T went into production in 1908, utilizing the assem-
bly line, and a staggering 15 million were
produced through 1927.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Concerning the future, —— 2008 is considered to be the beginning of the new age of the automobile. The near $150 price of oil ushered in the age of the electric-motor car.
There is no future without the past; everything is intricately woven together; one idea leads to another; every product is being upgraded: ‘new and improved’.
It is Human nature to strive for something better – it is in our DNA.
Oil in Azerbaijan used on a daily basis more than 1000 years ago
We are losing too much information about
the expertise of well-known chemists and
geologists from Europe and Russia. Baku's
rich oil barons sought out the best advice
Today, many facts and figures about a mul-
that the scientific world had to offer, seeking
titude of details are available, but our recol-
recommendations from important figures
lection of history seems not to have enough
like German chemist Carl Engler and Rus-
personal “random access memory” to safe-
sian chemist Dmitry Mendeleyev. As a re-
keep information that interests us.
sult, innovative new techniques such as ro-
tary drilling and gaslift were tested for the
For example: I did not know that the people
first time in Azerbaijan.
of Azerbaijan used oil more than one thou-
sand years ago.
Pointed in that direction by a fluke mention,
whilst borrowing Jeff Hutcheson’s tagline -
this is what I learned on the internet today-
from CTV’s ‘Canada A.M’.: “Azerbaijan has
been linked with oil for centuries, even for
millennia. Medieval travelers to the region
remarked on its abundant supply of oil, not-
Photos on this page & information from azer.com
ing that this resource was an integral part of
daily life there.
“In 1920, when the Bolsheviks captured
Azerbaijan, all private property - including oil
“By the 19th century, Azerbaijan was the
wells and factories - was confiscated. After
frontrunner in the world's oil and gas indus-
that, the Republic's entire oil industry was
try. In 1846 - more than a decade before
directed toward the purposes of the Soviet
Americans made their celebrated discovery
Union, including a tremendous output of oil
of oil in Pennsylvania, Azerbaijan drilled its
for the World War II effort.
first oil well in Bibi-Heybat. [another article:
Canadians discovered oil one year before
“Azerbaijani chemistry professor Mir-Yusif
Pennsylvania] By the beginning of the 20th
Mir-Babayev lists milestones of Azerbaijan's century, Azerbaijan was producing more
rapid oil development up until 1920. Con-
than half of the world's supply of oil.
sidering the progress that was made in
leaps and bounds back then, one has to
wonder: what would Azerbaijan's oil industry
be like today if the Bolsheviks had not inter-
rupted their momentum?”
Pennzoil wants us to know this — the first
charily worded item on Google: “The most
important oil well ever drilled was in 1859 in
Pennsylvania … first oil wel drilled for the
“During its early Oil Boom, between 1885
sole purpose of finding oil…”
and 1920, Azerbaijan benefited greatly from
Azerbaijan oilmen did not need to drill to
available, but no place to purchase it —
find oil — twelve years before Canada, and
gasoline a century ago, H2-gas in the 21st
thirteen years before Pennsylvania — they
century; Slowly getting on-line is wind & so-
knew they had an abundance since the
lar power, promising a future beyond oil.
10th century: Arabian historian Masudi-
Abdul-Hussein (9th century-957) identified
two main sources of black oil and white oil
(kerosene) on Absheron. Arab historian
Istahri-Abu Iskhak described how the peo-
ple of Baku used soil soaked in oil as fuel.
14th century: In "The Travels of Marco Polo,"
the world-famous Venetian traveler indicat-
ed that oil from Baku was being exported to
Near Eastern countries. He also described
the use of oil in therapeutic healing.
17th century: German diplomat and traveler
Adam Oleari (1603-1671) described Baku's
30 oil wells and said that oil gushed out of
them with a mighty force. He identified both
brown and white oil and wrote that there
Photos from Energy Magazine
was a greater quantity of the brown. Turkish
Around the turn of the last century, the First
traveler Evliya Chelebi traveled to Baku to
International Nobel Prizes were awarded.
study and describe its oil fields. He noted
The award grew to be revered international-
that the political and economic life in this
ly as the most prestigious award in the
region had been closely connected with oil.
world. Withdrawal of money in Baku was the
1875 – 1900: The Nobel brothers Ludvig,
"decisive factor that enabled the Nobel
Robert and Alfred started their activities in
Prizes to be established."
Azerbaijan's oil industry. They constructed a
Back to Azerbaijan history: The Bolsheviks
pipeline to the coast and had tank-ships
seized power in Baku in 1920, establishing
built. The Rothschild brothers established
Soviet authority, which lasted for more than
the Caspian and Black Sea Oil Industry and
70 years. All private property was seized;
Trade Society. More than a dozen tank-
most Oil Barons fled Baku for other coun-
ships supplied oil and natural gas products
tries; the lavish residences built by the Oil
to many countries for industrial engines, but
Barons in the city were converted into
no infrastructure existed yet to supply gaso-
apartments for multiple families.
line for the expanding fleet of automobiles.
In December 1991 Azerbaijan regained its
Much the same is true today regarding hy-
drogen for fuel cell vehicles; the product is
How soon we forget!
The very first ‘Autos-Mobilis’ — more than five hundred years ago
Automotive history books need to be up-
A new interpretation of the sketch in ques-
dated. The culprit is da Vinci’s invention –
tion came from Carlo Pedretti, director of
not to be confused with ‘Da Vinci’s Inquest’,
the Armand Hammer Center for Leonardo
the popular TV series.
Studies in Los Angeles, who noticed a kind
of squiggle in the sketch, eventually identi-
“Leonardo da Vinci’s device was –or is- the
fied as coiled springs.
world's first self-propelled vehicle. It was
designed to operate as a robot and could
With the help of U.S. robotics expert Mark
travel for about 40 meters. It featured a pro-
E. Rosheim, the museum then created a
grammable steering and a brake that could
digital model first, then a fully functioning
be released at distance by an operator with
model. Research conducted by Rosheim
a hidden rope," Professor Paolo Galluzzi,
concluded that the springs on the upper sur-
director of the Museo Leonardiano, ex-
face were in fact designed as a device to
program the steering for the machine, while
the “automotive” power came from the two
For decades scholars
coiled springs below.
had tried to make
"The model has revealed a wonderful com-
from Leonardo’s pile
plexity that now is very clear. Looking at it
of sketches left to
carefully, it does resemble the ‘Spirit’ space-
vehicle used on Mars," Pedretti enthused.
since the time he in-
vented all kinds of
Rosheim added: "This carriage can be con-
“modern” things be-
sidered a precursor of mobile automatons
tween the 1470s and
and perhaps the first computer ever built in
his death in 1518.
Western civilization." He had already done a
study on da Vinci inventions, published in
Drawn on sheet number 812r of the Atlantic
Italian by the Leonardo Library in 2001.
Codex in 1478, when Leonardo was 24
years old, the sketch had been transformed
into a one-third scale model at the Institute
and Museum of the History of Science in
Florence in 1953, but the mechanism did
not work as anticipated.
A new scale model of the da Vinci-mobile
functions: it changes direction, starts, and
stops - proving that the design works.
the two big
The full size model took eight months to fab-
ricate. Five different types of wood were
shown in his
needed for gears, frames, wheels, etc. The
springs are wound up by rotating the wheels
stead, the power is provided by coiled
in the opposite direction to the one in which
springs inside the tambours," Galluzzi said.
it is meant to go. It has steering that can be
programmed before the journey. At 1.68m
long and 1.49m wide (5ft 6ins by 4ft 11ins),
and weighing one hundred-and-some kilo-
Ferrari winning races and championships.
grams, the museum-folk “did not dare to
Ferrari’s sister-company Maserati, also a
producer of high-powered sports cars, said
that the Leonardo-car confirmed the Italian
genius for designing automobiles – before
that name was even coined.
A news item in January 2005 confirmed it:
Contrary to common belief, it was Leonardo
da Vinci who invented the automobile,
(along with many other inventions that had
to wait for several hundred years, for the
world of technology to catch up to his vi-
sions, to become reality). Not Daimler or
Benz, not even Cugnot in 1769, but a crea-
tive thinker during the Renaissance period
"It is a very powerful machine," Professor
was the first to create a self-moving medi-
Galluzzi said. "It could run into something
um, an auto-mobilis, almost 550 years ago.
and do serious damage."
The vehicle demonstrated in Florence in
January of 2005 was a one-third scale repli-
According to Professor Galluzzi, the official
coordinator of the project to build the car,
the da Vinci-mobile was designed to be
used in some form of drama or spectacle
where a self-propelled vehicle would be re-
quired to move from one part of a courtyard
or arena to another.
As an aside — some of today’s cars feature
CVTs, Continuously Variable Transmis-
Illustrations and Photos in this article: Institute and Museum
sions. They were detailed by Leonardo da
of the History of Science, Florence
Vinci on a sketch in 1490. Several attempts
were made to use them in automobiles at
* History's first self-propelled vehicle was
the start of the last century, but it took until
sketched by Leonardo in around 1,478.
1958 before DAF built a car with a CVT in
* Recently the technical plans for Leonardo's
any volume in the Netherlands.
car have been used to create a full-size working
In Italy, where skill combines art and sci-
* The vehicle is powered by using a series of
ence in creating cars from tiny Topolinos to
mighty Maseratis, from artful Alfa Romeos
* Springs, coils and other innovations were in-
to zippy Zagatos, the da Vinci three-wheeler
volved in powering and steering the vehicle.
* The museum wanted the model to be crafted
is reinforcing the nation's pride in its heredi-
with tools and materials only available in the
ty. Italian designed and styled automobiles
are coveted by motorists around of the
world, Italian expertise in technology keeps
Mistaken accuracy of supposed historical facts
"Travel at high speeds is not possible be-
lars from another source and later sold his
cause persons along for the ride, unable to
shares for 12.5 million.
breathe, would die of asphyxia." So stated
Dionysius Lardner, Professor at University
Or consider this: The ‘Scientific American’
College, London, and author of ‘The Steam
published the conclusion in the January
Engine Explained and Il ustrated’ in the
1909 edition "That the automobile has prac-
tically reached the limit of its development is
suggested by the fact that during the past
We know that not everyone believed him,
year no improvements of a radical nature
and inventors created faster machines over
have been introduced".
time and nobody has died of speed yet;
Speed does not kill ——accidents kill.
We could argue that this well respected
journal is still correct one hundred years lat-
"Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground
er; the only really radical and fundamental
to try and find oil? —You're crazy." That’s
improvement was the introduction of com-
what well drillers told Edwin L. Drake, when
puters into automobiles.
he tried to hire one to drill for oil in Pennsyl-
vania in 1859; —one year after the first suc-
A little humor on a dreary day should serve
us wel . To that effect, let’s nit
cessful oil well had been drilled in Canada
into other believes, thoughts and fundamen-
tal truths —all alleged to be historical facts.
Regardless of the eventual outcome, why
do so-called experts not believe pioneers
The very first rearview mirror was used by
with a vision? Is the human dislike for
clever Ray Harroun on his Marmon racecar
change holding us back from making our
during the initial Indy 500 in 1911 to replace
dreams become reality?
the customary riding mechanic, who would
tell the driver what was happening behind
Those who did succeed have been forgot-
him. (no distracted drivers in 1911) The
ten all too often, and information is lost.
rearview mirror was then introduced by au-
Dates of many innovations are inaccurate,
tomakers in 1914 —after a concentrated
even from as little as one hundred —even
three-year development period, to be sure.
fifty years ago.
The truths: Historical researchers recently
Can you imagine what future history books
found –during their coffee break, of course-
would report, had the American President
that Dorothy Levitt had advised readers in
not approved the auto bailout in 2009?
her 1906 book ‘The Woman and the Car’, to
"carry a little hand-mirror in a convenient
Horace Rackham was lucky he did not take
place when driving" so they may "hold the
serious the advice of the President of the
mirror aloft from time to time in order to see
Michigan Savings Bank, when he applied
behind while driving in traffic". Smart wom-
for a loan in 1903 to buy stock in Henry
Ford’s venture. The banker told Ford’s law-
yer “the automobile is only a fad; the horse
Everyone knows that Volvo was the first car
is here to stay”. —Rackham got 5.000 Dol-
to be equipped with seatbelts; three-point
shoulder belts in 1959, lap belts already in
(also FWD) with the famous ‘Quattro’ since
1949. Mercedes soon followed and so did
every other carmaker. Developing safety
systems has become an industry in itself,
and electronics now control designed-in
The reality: The 1948 American Tucker
‘Torpedo’ was the first auto with seatbelts. It
was also the first to have a padded dash-
board, collapsing steering wheel and other
safety and convenience features just com-
ing into other automobiles in the new mil-
The DKW F1, one of the four makes that joined as the Auto
Union – hence the four ring logo
Wrong again. Jensen, the British company
better known for seventy-five years as a
supplier of entertainment and life-style
equipment, has also produced niche-type
sportscars. The Jenson FF Interceptor dis-
tributed its V8 power to all four wheels in
1965; It also had the first version of an ABS
anti-blocking brake system, not from Bosch,
but from Dunlop.
Restored rear-engine Tucker Torpedo in a museum
Hold everything! Spyker, the new owners of
How soon we forget.
Saab, built a racecar in 1903 with all-wheel
drive. And even earlier, in 1900, young Fer-
We have known for the longest time that the
dinand had built the Lohner/Porsche FWD
famous Mini was the first car with an engine
hybrid with an engine-powered generator to
mounted sideways in the car (also termed
power four electric wheel-hub motors. (Both
east-west as opposed to the conventional
described in two other articles).
transmission –driveshaft -differential).
Could we expect the Scientific American to
republish and amend their article more than
Not so. Twenty eight years before the Mini,
100 years later?
the 1931 DKW F1 was the first to feature a
cross-mounted engine and also the first car
with front-wheel drive (FWD). DKW was lat-
er renamed ‘Audi’; and Audi was by all ac-
If the Scientific American was so wrong, per-
counts the first auto with four-wheel drive
haps you, Dear Reader, will forgive the odd
blunder on these pages?
Automobile History before Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz
Nobody actually invented the automobile. It
Cugnot built a steam-powered tricycle that
is estimated that today’s car or truck incor-
carried four passengers. But steam engines
porates over 100,000 patents, far more than
added so much weight to a road-going vehi-
the sum of its parts.
cle that they proved a poor design for this
Let’s take a look into the rearview mirror to
remind ourselves of how it all started.
Historians, who accept that early steam-
powered road vehicles were ‘automobiles’,
Will you come along for a short trip in Mi-
feel that Nicolas Joseph Cugnot was the
chael J Fox’s time machine, before going
originator of the first automobile - built al-
back to the future? After this detour into the
most 250 years ago. His original vehicle is
history of automobildom, we’ll discover the
in a Paris museum, other museums have a
amazing advances and some of the fasci-
nating future of motor-vehicles.
The French combined the Greek word autos
In the 13th century Friar Roger Bacon, also
(self) with the Latin mobilis (movable), and
known as Doctor Mirabilis, wrote about
auto-mobile was accepted almost universal-
“wagons which move with unbelievable
speed without draught animals”. But scien-
tists of the time could only ponder such
wagons. The remarkable Leonardo da Vinci
got as far as making sketches and models.
Carriages and wagons were every-day
‘tools’ for many centuries, but progressed
little and remained powered by horses, oxen
or other animals.
In the early 1600s steam engines were first
Cugnot’s tractor had a two cylinder steam engine and boiler,
separated from the vehicle, and suspended in front of the
tried, and also the earliest piston engine.
single front wheel. This made the vehicle front-heavy, and
Dutch, French and English inventors, espe-
hard to control.
cially James Watt (1736-1819), laid the
The illustration shows the tractor just hit a wall, the first au-
tomobile accident recorded in history.
ground work for the industrial revolution.
Several persons were needed to operate the unwieldy vehi-
cle, which had to stop every ten to fifteen minutes to build up
Always striving to transport a heavier load,
steam pressure, than move again at two (2) mph.
or to move faster, certain individuals wanted
In 1803 the English Richard Trevithick built
to ‘go the extra mile’. One such inventive
a steam-powered ‘people-carrier’, and in
person was French military engineer Nico-
1825 the first train rumbled about the Eng-
las Joseph Cugnot (1725-1804). In 1769 a
lish countryside. A Dutch inventor tried to
steam powered, three-wheeled tractor was
use the newly discovered electricity for pro-
built under his instructions at the Paris Ar-
pulsion in 1835; the following year Giuseppe
senal by ‘mechanique’ Brezin. It was in-
Botto used a battery-powered electromag-
tended to pull heavy artillery units around
netic motor to drive a wagon.
the Paris area. During the following year,
At about this time Jean Joseph Etienne Le-
noir, and also Alphonse Beau de Rochas
developed a natural-gas powered engine for
Lenoir’s engine was the basis for Nikolaus
August Otto’s four-stroke-cycle engine of
1876, primarily used to this day. (Otto en-
gine as opposed to Diesel engine) Soon,
Karl Friedrich Benz and Gottlieb Wilhelm
Daimler improved upon this engine and
used it to drive their vehicles in 1885 and
Duryea high-wheeler; The brothers Charles and
The year 1886 is now considered to be the
Frank fabricated and sold thirteen of these be-
‘birth-year’ of the modern automobile. And
twe en 1888 and 1896.
so, nearly 125 years ago buggies and wag-
They produced cars until the 1920s.
ons were adapted to be powered by a
steam engine, an electric motor powered by
Charles and Frank Duryea are recognized
batteries or, the newest invention, an inter-
as the earliest North-American automotive
nal combustion engine (ICE); They became
manufacturers; in fact, 1996 was the cen-
horse-less carriages. These auto-buggies
tennial of the American automobile industry
were made-to-order by bicycle makers,
with the Duryeas’ thirteen "mass-produced"
wagon shops, smiths, toolmakers, or other
cars. Early USA manufacturers include
enterprising tradesmen for well-to-do cus-
Ransom E. Olds, whose goal it was to re-
place the horse for everyday use with his
lightweight ‘Curved Dash’ Oldsmobile. After
Panhard-Levassar and De Dion in France,
Benz and Daimler in Germany and brothers
the turn of the century, Olds is credited with
Charles and Frank Duryea in Massachu-
setts were among the earliest to build cars
produced auto as nearly 12,000 were built
(short for carriages) that were reliable
between 1901 and 1904.
enough to find willing customers.
Henry Ford's relatively simple Model T went
Soon, some companies made more than
into production in 1908, utilizing the assem-
one or two motor carriages at a time, and
bly line, and a staggering 15 million were
they needed to purchase wheels, axles, en-
produced through 1927.
gines and other parts, rather then fabricate
The rest, as they say, is history.
every item in their own shop. Item by item,
the parts were made by people in shops
specializing in a particular type of compo-
nent. This is how the automotive supply in-
More on early American automobiles …
The original Cadillac, the ones we know, and a new V-16?
There is a French-Canadian connection to
(7.7 liters), and the straight eight in the
everything ‘Cadillac’. Like all issues, if you
Duesenberg J. Maximum power of the Ca-
reach far enough, almost anything can be
dillac V-16 was 165 horsepower at 3,500
rpm. Those were respectable figures, but
the real strength of the V-16 was its
Antonie Laumet de La Mothe de Cadillac
smoothness and torque.
sailed from France to Canada in 1683 and
first settled in Port-Royal, Acadia, later in
In the mid 1930s a new V-16 engine was
Quebec. He became a far-traveling mer-
developed, with similar performance, but
chant and established a fur trading post in
very different in appearance. The cylinder-
Fort Pontchartrain, across the river from
banks changed to a 135-degree V-angle,
Windsor, Ontario, and in 1701 he founded
from the original’s 45. This preserved the
the city of Detroit.
engine’s smoothness but eased the installa-
tion of accessories. With a displacement of
Over time the city grew and prospered
452 cubic inches (7.1 liters), the new V-16
throughout the industrial age. Trades people
was 250 pounds lighter than its predecessor
established machine shops, and when the
was, but the design did not survive World
automobile came along, Detroit was the
place to be, because of skilled machine op-
In 2003 General Motors surprised the world
with a new ultra-luxury Cadillac “Sixteen”
During the automobile’s infancy, Henry Le-
concept-car at the Detroit Auto Show. Will it
land, the “master of precision” founded the
go into limited production? "Product czar"
Cadillac Motor Company, naming his corpo-
Bob Lutz is preparing to compete with Rolls-
rations after famous personalities. (Lincoln
Royce, Maybach, Bentley and the [then]
was his second company)
future Bugatti, and restore Cadillac's world-
The enormous, rear-wheel-drive (RWD)
‘Sixteen’ reminds us of the uniqueness and
splendor of the custom-built automobiles of
the 1930s. With a 140 inch wheelbase all
four of the 24’ large wheels have steering.
“The Sixteen’s proportions were crafted with
great attention to detail and reverence to
1931 Cadillac Series 452-A V-16 Convertible-Coupe
classic design," said Brian Smith, the Cadil-
Cadillac later became the luxury division of
lac Sixteen's exterior designer; "The car
the General Motors group. When the newly
evokes an era when luxury cars were hand-
formed styling department under Harley Earl
designed a huge, yet elegant looking new
model for 1930, with a wheelbase of 148
Cadillac's V16 heritage started 75 years ago
inches and a weight of more than three
with a 165 hp engine that weighed 1500 lbs.
tons, the car also deserved an engine unlike
The powerplant of the ‘Sixteen’ weighs less
anything ever seen before -- a V-16. The
than 700 pounds and develops 1000 hp —
motor displaced 452 cubic inches (7.4 li-
while meeting strict emissions regulations
ters), similar in displacement to Rolls-
and providing respectable fuel economy.
Royce’s six-cylinder of 470 cubic inches
Displacement of the proposed new ‘XV16’
engine is a massive 13.6-liter (828-cu.-in.).
Some of the weight saving in the XV16 is
The ‘XV16’ shares parts with the next-
accomplished with titanium valves and
generation Chevy small-block, but it's not
springs. The ultra-low mass gives the en-
made up of just two blocks ‘glued’ together.
gine high-revving capability. The horsepow-
It's a well engineered, compact, and rigid
er peak occurs at 6000 rpm, while the
torque peak is at 4300 rpm.
Photo: General Motors
The XV16 also uses GM's NEW Displace-
coasting mode, when very little horse power
ment on Demand (DOD) technology, to be
is needed, the XV16 is down to just two cyl-
used on several models soon. The engine’s
inders per bank. But remember, that's a V4
oil pressure is not only used for lubricating
producing more than 200 hp.
and cooling, but also to control the Variable
Valve Timing (VVT). It is the first pushrod
Twenty years ago, the V-8-6-4 Cadillac var-
engine so equipped.
iable-displacement engine was plagued with
problems because the idea was ahead of
Computer-controlled oil pressure regulates
available technology. Now, DOD is techno-
the number of cylinders needed to produce
logically ready to increase fuel economy
power. Simultaneously canceling spark and
considerably –on many models, not just
fuel injection in ‘idling’ cylinders turn them
into nothing more than air pumps. In other
words, they're deactivated to save fuel when
This magnificent make owes its name to a
not needed. Only the amount of engine dis-
Canadian who went south. If not for that,
placement needed to deliver the power re-
nobody would be driving a Cadillac of any
quired is utilized. Much of the time, this en-
vintage – anywhere.
gine runs as a near-500-hp V8, because
four cylinders in each bank are disabled. In
Watch an interesting video of the Sixteen…
First Oil Well in Azerbaijan, then Canada, then Pennsylvania
‘The squeaky wheel gets the grease’ is an
A few dates of interest first: In 1778 Peter
old saying. Mostly, animal fat was used for
Pond recorded the occurrence of bitumi-
that purpose, and whale oil was burned to
nous sands at the convergence of the Atha-
shed light onto many a situation.
basca and Clearwater Rivers, and in 1820
John Richardson made the first scientific
The occasional, accidental discovery of
examination of the Alberta oil sands. In
crude oil on the ground goes back to biblical
1849 the Canadian geologist Dr. Abraham
Gesner distilled Kerosene from oil. Kero-
sene eventually replaced whale oil in
Since the start of the industrial revolution
household lamps and created a new market
more and more oils and lubricants were
for crude oil.
needed to ‘keep the wheels moving’.
The very first commercial oil well in the
Knowing that many events of one hundred
western world –after Azerbaijan- is in Oil
years ago, at the beginning of Canada’s au-
Springs, Ontario, south-east of Sarnia. Only
tomotive industry, are poorly recorded and
one year later, in 1859, was oil discovered
in danger of being lost forever, I was sur-
prised to learn that Canada played THE
leading role in oil exploration at the begin-
The resulting development of Canada's first
ning of the petroleum age, one hundred and
petroleum center at nearby Petrolia, is a fifty years ago. I’m not surprised that Cana-little known part of the industrial history of
dians are again on the fore-front of the hy-
Canada. Oil City, located between these
drogen fuel cell age, given our pioneering
two communities, played an important roll
spirit and ground-breaking efforts – literally.
Today’s chemical valley near Sarnia traces
“But the country that gave birth to a petrole-
its ancestry directly to this event of 1858.
um industry did not fully understand the ne-
cessity to study, nurture, and encourage it.
Quoting from Petrolia’s Oil Museum: “During
The decline was precipitous and the resto-
this period, 1861-1897, nearly the entire re-
ration a long, slow and expensive process.
quirement of Canada for crude and greases,
Many of the industry's problems today re-
liquid lubricants, waxes, kerosene, gasoline
garding price, investment, and the wide-
and a widening range of chemicals for food,
spread public misapprehension were also
medicine and industry was produced here.
the agony of its ancestor. It is to entertain
Consequently it was at Petrolia that the
with a fascinating history and illuminate with
young nation's first petroleum industry de-
its lessons, that The Petrolia Discovery was
veloped its first sophisticated techniques for
producing, refining and marketing.”
“As a one-of-a-kind museum it combines
“The contribution Canada made to the
history and artifacts from the world's first Oil
world's petroleum industry during the same
Industry within the framework of an original
period is even less appreciated. Men trained
and still operational oilfield. The visitor will
in the production, transportation, refining
find here the workshop and training ground
and administration of this new resource,
of a body of men who, 120 years ago, went
took their knowledge and skills to every cor-
into the world to found what would become
ner of the world, opening many of the great
one of the world's biggest industries, but
oil fields that today still are major suppliers
whose story is largely untold or forgotten...
of crude. They labored on every continent
and in many countries; surely one of the
“The pioneer oil men of Lambton County
greatest international contributions of indus-
went out from the wilderness of Southwest-
ern Ontario to discover most of the major
oilfields of the world. They were on the Go-
bi, and in the Arctic, in Iran when it was still
and its use as fuel, is estimated to be less
Persia, in Indonesia, Australia, Russia .... 87
expensive than extracting oil from sand.
countries in all. In the 1920s, ‘Hard Oilers’
brought home Alberta tar sands to pave the
This time, Canada and Canadians have a
main street of Petrolia.”
good chance to remain at the forefront of a
new fuel for a new era. Let us not miss our
It was not until 1967 that the Great Canadi-
an Oil Sands Ltd (later Suncor) began pro-
duction of oil from the Tar Sands north of
Canada Heritage plaque at museum entrance
Fort McMurray. Only in 2001 did the Alberta
oil-sands surpass the regular Canadian oil
supply by seven million barrels with 271 mil-
The Hibernia oil-field was discovered on the
Grand Banks, off Newfoundland, by Chev-
ron and Mobil in 1979, with the first oil being
pumped in 1997.
The Alberta oil sands could possibly be the
last big oil field, when other wells around the
world are dry. However, the big problem is
the costly process of oil recovery from the
Oil wells on a pole line; several pumps are actuated by
sand, many times that of drilling for, and
long poles, driven by a single machine. Steam engines
were used before electric motors were sufficiently relia-
pumping, crude from great depth. When it
ble. Photographs in this article by the author
comes to that, the production of hydrogen,
Museums are the memory of society…
So said Lea Vestergaard, an Australian
[ Most museums depend on the help of vol-
scholar of the evolution of museums.
unteers; Most have a website nowadays
and promote not only antique vehicles. It so
Regular museum guests treat these treas-
happens that yours truly was instrumental in
ure troves of history as a place full of oppor-
the creation of the forerunner of this now
tunities, while occasional visitors might con-
sider these institutions as buildings “full of
old stuff”. — How wrong they are!
Anticipating transportation trends, clued-in
members are on the lookout for examples of
Teachers regard museums as meaningful
what’s ‘coming down the road’. For exam-
places to visit time and again with a class of
ple, a micro- or city car, the new type of
students to study the displays and gather
commuter vehicle, was on display in Belle-
information for short reports or in-depth es-
ville, Ontario, during the fall of 2003. The
says related to the subject matter.
“smart” made its first Canadian public ap-
pearance at this inconspicuous place a year
But not all teachers may be aware of the
and a half before DaimlerChrysler intro-
range of museums in our area. One little-
duced it onto the Canadian market.
known, out-of-the-way gem is AutoMotion.
Ten years ago, at its earlier location in
[ Here I have to intervene: I wrote this article
Kingston, Ontario, AutoMotion displayed a
in 2006 for our local paper –now it is almost
twin-tandem commuter car from the time of
2012. A few changes in the text had to be
the 1970s oil embargo. Designed by Ameri-
made; As well, because I would like to en-
cans for Americans, the ‘Freeway’ guaran-
courage you to seek out the location and
teed to achieve 100 mpg with its small one-
opening times of an automotive museum in
cylinder engine. [similar to the amazing VW
your area — every now and then, I hope.]
One-Liter concept car] Among the 80-plus
vehicles on display at that time was possibly
Any transportation museum is worth a visit
the oldest car built in Canada, a 1902
not only from teachers and students, but
WOOT, but also cars that might yet be
also from adults interested in the past and,
twenty five years in the future from today.
yes, in the future of sustainable mobility.
AutoMotion is more than a just museum; It
identifies itself as ‘The Automotive Evolution
Center’. Even if the smal space has a lim-
ited number of antique automobiles on view,
at times it foretells the future of what people
will drive, how technology transforms the
way we travel or transport goods, or how we
interact with our most trusted ‘appliance’ –
our family car.
Cheerful volunteer members of the Central
Ontario Automotive Historical Society, a
registered charitable organization, manage
1902 WOOT, believed to be the First Canadian-designed &
built auto-buggy. Named for its designer Wilbur Orton Orville
Thomas. Fabricated by J M Moore Carriage Shop in Bob-
caygeon, Ontario. Only four were produced between 1902 -
1904 with several patented features.
Few automobile museums show anything
Can you imagine what these local volun-
less than 25 years old, and fewer still show
teers could do with ‘a little money’ and an
anything that motorists are not familiar with.
AutoMotion dares to be different, presenting
[That goes for any museum, anywhere!]
the near future with various ‘state of the art’
show vehicles and manufacturers concept
Manufacturers are investing millions in new
museum buildings. Of the ones recently
constructed, some are worth visiting for their
More so, this venerable “Museum” provided
architecture alone. But mostly, they only
a hint at the ‘far out’ future of automotive
show a proud past; the future is glimpsed
evolution with several successive, well-
only for brief moments at far away auto
travelled solar powered vehicles; Yes, cars
powered by sun light. Talk about alternative
fuel vehicles – already a decade ago, they
Lacking the manufacturers millions, Auto-
were on display at AutoMotion.
Motion’s intend is to continue to intersperse
antique and vintage vehicles with cars and
A few keen car enthusiasts with a huge im-
technology of the future, such as electric
agination, but only a tiny budget, accom-
vehicles, fuel cells, concept cars and other
plished all this. Then, unexpectedly, their
‘state of the art’ or futuristic conveyances.
dream turned into a nightmare when the
leased building had to be vacated before
being demolished for re-development.
Belleville had been the place of choice from
the beginning, and that city now became the
museum’s new home, again.
Besides privately owned, personally re-
stored antique cars, trucks and motorbikes,
“the little museum that could” is exhibiting
an array of planes, trains and automobiles
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a shape is worth a
in models and memorabilia.
thousand pictures. Two experimental solar-electric vehicles
from Queen’s University, from the 1990s.
Above photographs: AutoMotion Museum
A vintage Ferrari is a special treat, on view
at this time. Examine its soft lines; be in awe
Postscript: One day after publishing this ar-
of the Italian metal crafters’ mastery of their
ticle, this came on the news:
art. Enjoy the graceful surfaces flowing from
one to another, suspended by elegant
Wisconsin Couple Effectively Adopts
curves, a feast for the eyes. Look, learn and
A childless couple from Wisconsin is not
taking their riches with them when they pass
Another eye candy is the ‘grandfather’ of
— but instead of leaving the money to chari-
modern sportscars, a beautiful MG-TC. You
ty, they're giving a big chunk of their fortune
can observe its old style suspension, the
to the National Corvette Museum. The AP
wire wheels and the lack of aerodynamics.
reports that Ivan and Mary Shrodt, of Sher-
Yet, its competitive nature comes at the
wood, Wisc., are giving $1.3 million to the
drop of the windshield, with only a small
museum in Bowling Green, Ky., to go to-
shield in front of the driver and navigator.
ward a $14 million expansion. The couple
loves Corvettes -obviously- and their gift will
help the museum steam ahead with the ex-
pansion, due to be complete in 2009. Last
Saturday the couple visited the museum to
to $5 million range, with attendance averag-
pick up their latest model, a 2007 black Z06.
ing about 150,000 a year. Pepp said the
museum will now hire its first staff of fund-
P.P.S. In April 2011 the Los Angeles Times
raising specialists as it launches a cam-
paign to build an endowment, and over the
The Petersen Automotive Museum an-
next two years will more than double its
nounced Tuesday that one of its founding
board from the current seven members to
benefactors, Margie Petersen, has donated
15, which figures to further increase its
buildings, collectible cars and cash with a
combined estimated value of $100 million.
The most visible near-term changes, Pepp
"We're all just absolutely ecstatic," said
said, will be a thorough sprucing-up of the
Buddy Pepp, executive director of the mu-
museum's interior and changes to the exte-
seum at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard
rior aimed at bolstering its street presence.
and Fairfax Avenue, across from the Los
Angeles County Museum of Art.
"Right now a lot of people pass the museum
on Wilshire Boulevard and are uncertain
Pepp said the cash component is "many,
what's inside," Pepp said.
many, many millions of dollars" but won't be
disclosed at the request of Petersen, widow
He expects no immediate changes in the
of Robert E. Petersen, the car magazine
exhibition schedule, which aims for two or
publisher and former Hollywood publicist
three major shows a year — such as the
who spearheaded the museum's creation in
current "Supercars: When Too Much Is Al-
1994 and saved it with a $25-million dona-
most Enough" — augmented by a like num-
tion in 2000.
ber of smaller ones.
"I am thrilled to make this gift which contin-
Margie Petersen's gift also will allow the
ues what Mr. Petersen and I began two
museum to open a library and research cen-
decades ago," Margie Petersen said in a
ter, incorporating the 9,000 books and hun-
statement released by the museum. "I am
dreds of thousands of periodicals in its ar-
so happy that this day has come and that I
chive that Pepp says it couldn't make ac-
can launch the museum into a new era of
cessible to the public until now because it
growth and expansion."
lacked the money.
Without owning them, the museum previ-
A revamped and more informative website
ously had free use of the museum building
is expected to be online by fall, an initiative
and adjoining parking garage, as well as the
funded by another donor's gift of more than
135 vehicles that are part of the gift, said
Pepp, a former fire hose manufacturer who
has been active as a museum supporter
Also benefitting from the Petersen gift are
since the beginning and 10 months ago be-
the museum's 55 employees, who will see
came its second director, succeeding the
the end of a two-year wage freeze imposed
retired Dick Messer. The newly gifted autos
to cope with the recession economy.
join about 250 others, plus more than 50
motorcycles, that had made up the muse-
Robert Petersen, who died in 2007, gave $5
million when the museum was launched and
had promised an additional $10 million after
The cash from Margie Petersen comes with
his death. The museum's federal tax filing
a requirement that the museum raise an
for 2008-09 listed as by far its largest asset
undisclosed matching amount. Recently its
an unspecified $27.7-million "unconditional
annual budgets have been in the $4 million
promise to give" that included vehicles val-
ued at $8.1 million. In 2008, the county as-
sessor's office valued the now-donated mu-
Now Petersen leaders look forward to rais-
seum site at $17.6 million.
ing its profile strictly with its collections and
shows. "This gift is going to catapult the
The gifts announced Tuesday come from
museum into world-renowned status," Pepp
Margie Petersen personally and from the
Margie and Robert E. Petersen Foundation,
which is listed as the property owner.
[Amazing what a little money can do.]
The Petersen Automotive Museum hasn't
had the smoothest history since being
carved out of an abandoned Ohrbach's de-
It seems that people and organizations are
partment store at a cost of $40 million. It
beginning to value the contribution that au-
began as a branch of the Natural History
tomobiles have given to society, not only in
Museum of Los Angeles County, but soon
terms of industrial and economic progress,
turned into a financial burden when attend-
but also in recreational and cultural terms.
ance projections of at least 400,000 a year
proved wildly over-optimistic.
It might surprise you how many new things
one can learn during a visit to an automotive
Rather than continue paying $2.5 million a
museum - in YOUR neighbourhood — they
year on county-issued construction bonds
that financed the bulk of the cost of the Pe-
tersen's creation, the parent institution
After a lifetime in the auto industry, I can
mulled closing it and selling the property. In
assure you of that.
2000, Robert and Margie Petersen stepped
in with $25 million to pay off the bonds and
Below: A car of the 1990s reveals its innermost secrets
at the AutoMotion Museum
set up the car museum as an independent
On the inventive Past the ingenious Future will thrive
In the world of automobiles, a similar life
remaining; other countries had their car
cycle exists as in nature: Birth and death;
companies cut down as well.
likewise, firms are founded and companies
More recently, Chrysler’s Plymouth division expired in 2001 and General Motors’
Hundreds of automobile companies sprang
Oldsmobile line perished in 2004.
up and withered away again in the early part
of the last century in Europe and North
There is no need to elaborate on the ongo-
America. The same is happening now in
ing life and death struggle of the Detroit
China, India and other countries whose in-
companies, we hear it all too often in the
dustries are growing and maturing.
news; in other countries as well, automak-
ers struggle to survive, just ‘hanging on’.
In living memory we have witnessed the
demise of numerous revered names: DeSo-
But out of the ashes the Phoenix rises. As
to died a slow death in 1960. Another
after a forest fire, the deep roots are left in-
Chrysler line, Fargo trucks, once a familiar
tact. Engrained in our culture and com-
sight on Canadians roads, expired in 1972.
merce are a multitude of branches related to
Chrysler consumed AMC and Nash on the-
transporting goods and people.
se shores and Simca overseas; those once
well-liked makes are all but forgotten. You
Renewed and refreshed the industry will
can learn more about their history here.
flourish; firms are emerging and growing all
across the hemisphere. For more than a
At the ripe old age of 114 years, Studebaker
century, innovation and progress has known
vanished from the scene; the last of the cars
no bounds or boundaries, and that will con-
rolled of the assembly line in Hamilton, On-
tinue. Just as the Model T cost $850 in 1909
tario, in 1966; the Canadian offspring out-and fell to $300 with mass-production in the
lived its American parent by a few years.
1920s, so will the new green hybrids and
electric cars come down in price. (Today’s
The Bricklin (below) sportscar manufacturer equivalent of $850 is $20.3 thousand, while
had only a two year lifespan in New Bruns-
other cars of the time cost from 48 to 72
wick, Canada, from 1974 to 1976.
thousand in today’s Dollars)
Forward steps and evolution come in unex-
pected ways: Successful Silicon Valley en-
trepreneurs had a different idea: why not
build a better car? With their knowledge and
experience in electronics –and lots of mon-
ey- they got serious.
The new Tesla electric sportscar, which
everyone has heard of in the news, com-
bines old and new auto-tech and now sells
for $103,000. Several hundred have been
delivered, and production for the first two
years is sold out. Tesla is preparing an elec-
tric family car for 2011, at about half that
Everyone knows the disastrous fate of the
price, and the recharging time for the batter-
British auto industry, with very few survivors
ies will come down to 45 minutes from sev-
eral hours; The time for recharging a battery
will continue to go down in the future.
Other new companies are making similar
progress: Toronto’s ZENN (Zero Emission
No Noise) Motors will improve their low
speed city car to a highway-capable runner
with a new energy storage system. US citi-
zens are allowed to drive the Canadian-
made ZENN in towns at 50 km/h, but Canadian authorities are too slow to keep up with
the fast changing progress of alternative
propulsion: Canadians are not permitted to
drive our ZENN on our streets.
Aptera, the strange looking, but ultra efficient car has attracted engineers and de-
signers from ailing automakers and will
soon start production.
Detroit Electric, re-awakening after a very long time of being dead to the world, is preparing production in California with Chinese
ZAP (Zero Air Pollution) Inc. has produced more than one hundred thousand small
The tire company now is active in revitaliz-
electric vehicles during the last fifteen years,
ing the century old electric hub motor along
and could become a force to reckon with.
company, manufacturer of conventional
Michelin, other than making tires, has been
electric vehicles will provide the platform for
active in promoting the evolution of car de-this new propulsion system.
sign and technology by holding a yearly
The X-Prize Foundation has issued a chal-
lenge to build a car with the potential to ex-
ceed the energy equivalent of 100 mpg and
be able to be produced in ten-thousand
units per year. The winner of the competi-
tion will earn 10 million Dollars. Teams rep-
resenting 136 different vehicles, powered by
14 diverse fuel sources have applied.
Among the entrants are private inventors,
emerging start-ups, Universities, and estab-
lished automakers. Eliminations will take
place before the end of 2009, with the main
event taking place in 2010.
The competition will be tough, but there will
be a winner: on the inventive past, the ingen-
ious future will thrive.
Celebrating 125 years of the automobile in 2011
“Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from
So Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes
That is the first verse of Janis Joplin’s song
from 1970. The lyrics reflect her view of our
materialistic world. Elton John and Glen
Gould are just two among the many who
used Joplin’s song.
Newspaper reporters telegraphed the news
of this unheard-of, unbelievable feat across
Mercedes-Benz are admired by the whole
the region; the papers out-did each other
world as the essence of quality and tech-
informing eager readers of this new ma-
nology, and on January 29, 2011, the inspi-
chine and it spread like a wildfire around the
ration behind the car with the three-pointed
star celebrates its 125-year existence.
Karl Benz had started production of natural
Everyone wanted to ride a self-powered
gas engines for industrial applications in
wagon; Karl Benz started to improve his in-
1883, aiming to replace cumbersome steam
vention and started to produce and sell au-
engines. All the while, he experimented with
to-buggies to those
a smaller version, powered by liquid fuel,
who wanted to be at the forefront of travel-
and suitable to power a three-wheel buggy,
ing without having to feed and water the
which he took on numerous trial runs during
On January 29, 1886, he received the first
of numerous official documents for a ‘Patent
Motor Wagen’; Historians consider patent
number 37435 as the ‘birth certificate’ of the
Karl’s auto-buggy languished in a barn be-
hind the factory until his wife Bertha, unan-
nounced, took it on the now famous 106 km
over-land trip in August of 1888.
A UFO landing today on Parliament Hill, at
the White House, the Kremlin or Tiananmen
At the same time, nearby, but unaware of
Square, or in Saint Peter’s Square, would
each other’s efforts, Gottlieb Daimler was
not cause more commotion than did the
making similar experiments as Karl Benz.
sudden, noisy appearance of a horseless
Working at Deutz, another gas engine man-
carriage in the town of Pforzheim 125 years
ufacturer, Daimler installed a smaller ver-
go — traveling without a horse!!
sion of their industrial engine into a wooden
bicycle with help from his friend Wilhelm
Benz factory. He insisted that the new mod-
Maybach, an engineer.
el should be named after his daughter –
Mercedes. For a few weeks worth of pro-
During 1886, Daimler and Maybach also
duction the factory obliged their quirky cus-
assembled the first four-wheel motor car-
tomer; the model proved very successful in
competitions which the owners of the Benz
‘Mercedes’ model entered, and the name
Enormous interest in this new way to travel
became a household word, synonymous for
without a horse took hold among the popu-
quality, speed and endurance.
lation before the turn of the century; tinker-
ers, trades people, and businesses around
And that has been the envy and aim of
Europe and America started to construct all
many others ever since.
types and shapes of horseless carriages.
It certainly was a historic event as well,
Just two years later, almost 30 firms were
when Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler joined
building motor wagons in North America
their expanding, and by now successful fac-
tories under one roof: Daimler-Benz was
founded as a share company in 1926. The
The 1890s saw countless variation of auto-
name Mercedes had become so successful
buggies produced. In 1899 Henry Ford gave
and valued, that the new company applied it
up his job at Detroit Edison and applied his
to all vehicles produced.
foresight and genius to producing auto-
Fast forward: After recent difficult times, the
automobile industry, including Daimler, is
Persons who could afford it, placed an order
gaining momentum again. And the history of
for one of the auto-buggies; the potential for
its 125 year existence will be celebrated in
freedom of personal mobility was literally set
various ways and events throughout the
in motion; The rest, as they say, is history.
From the very beginning, makers and driv-
The auto industry has brought prosperity to
ers of automobiles tried to prove the superi-
European, North American and some Asian
ority of their creation, or their choice of
countries. That industry is now spreading
make, to anyone who cared to ‘take them
around the globe, and is on the threshold to
on.’ Speed races, hil climbs, endurance
elevate the world’s population to our way of
events, crossing continents or circling the
life and personal freedom.
earth helped to build ever faster and better
A remarkable year it is: 125 years of mobili-
ty with the internal combustion engine, and
One well off businessman ordered a fairly
the resurgence of the emission-free electric-
large number –for the time- of the new
motor car from Daimler and every other au-
speed machines to his requirement from the
tomaker on earth.
Seriously, Germans did not invent the automobile
'We stopped joking about cars a while ago
Its influence started a strongly structured
now. Perhaps we take things too seriously
style during the 1920s, but is still visible in
in Germany,” said Karsten Rehmann, a col-
the Audi TT or the 2012 New Beetle, ac-league at Auto Zeitung newspaper.
cording to design critics.
They did treat their cars very importantly,
Nine carmakers supplied the market in the
and it showed in the style.
1930s, Two were foreign owned, Ford, and
Opel, which belongs to General Motors. A
Germans did not ‘invent’ the automobile,
generation later, these were no longer
even though the first firms to regularly pro-
viewed as ‘imports’; a parallel mindset is
duce automobiles were founded by Daimler
slowly emerging in North America and
and Benz. These two groundbreaking inno-
vators combined and connected the pro-
gress made by previous pioneers Joseph Only six of the major nine carmakers sur-Cugnot, Alphonse Beau de Rochas, James
vived World War II.
Watt, Étienne Lenoir, Siegfried Marcus,
Panhard & Levassor, Peugeot, George Sel-
Borgward, consisting of a group of smaller
den, and others.
automakers, changed automotive design by
introducing the ‘pontoon shape’, where
The automobile history of Germany mirrors
fenders were no longer separately attached
that of many other countries: boom and bust
parts, but became part of the body. The
of upstart auto-buggy fabricators. During the
company was later closed under circum-
early part of last century, 86 manufacturers
stances that still lay blame and suspicion
vied for a piece of the market in the land of
onto the regional state.
Richard Wagner and the Black Forest.
Much as the recession of 2008 caused hav-
DKW, one of the four Auto Union firms –
oc within the industry, the great depression
hence the four-ring logo- later surrendered
of the 1920s reduced that number to 12.
its name to the more hi-tech Audi.
Four of these combined to form the Auto
Daimler-Benz struggled for several years to
Union, leaving nine. BTW, ‘Union’ means a
rebuild its factories before starting produc-
corporate alliance or coalition in German,
tion again with pre-war models. BMW took
distinctly different from the English ‘union’,
much longer before resuming car construc-
linked with trade organizations.
tion, concentration instead on refining mo-
Before steel bodies became the norm,
coach builders fabricated individual struc-
Volkswagen all but perished. The factory
tures on automobile frames, taking cues
and its products were offered to representa-
from stagecoaches and boats – as they did
tives of the American, British, and French
in other countries.
auto industry — no one was interested. VW
As the industry grew, car design took a
owes its existence to English army Major
page from the architectural Bauhaus school.
Ivan Hirst. He painted one of the captured
Beetles camouflage green, demonstrated it
to Head Quarters and persuaded authorities
to order new production of 2,000 VWs for
use by the Allied Forces.
When German firms first started to export
their vehicles during the 1950s, two Cana-
dian auto-repair partners decided by a coin-
flip who of them would import Volkswagens
DKW morphed into Audi, which was ac-
quired by Volkswagen in 1965.
When VW decided by 1970 on a model to
succeed the venerable Beetle, they called
on ItalDesign to style the Golf /Rabbit. It
was still a stiff design by today’s taste, but a
forward leap for design at that time; Italian
flair started to influence the stoical German
Evolution of style: 1930 Mercedes and 2011 Audi RS5; the
style. Previously, only grills, emblems, and
pictures could be reversed — Audi of the era is very similar,
size differentiated three-box cars of Audi,
and the new Mercedes Class-A concept looks outstanding.
BMW, and Mercedes.
Photos from Daimler & VW-Audi
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” ap-
When Golf sales reached million after mil-
plies to new designs at BMW and Daimler
lion, marketing people in Wolfsburg must
as well, but that deserves another page.
have realized that not only quality and sim-
plicity sells cars, but also style. More mod-
Una bella macchina is in, harsh style is out;
els were designed by the Italian masters of
Germans are loosening up when it comes to
style, flair, and fashion. When the opportuni-
cars — except this guy: He is getting into
ty came, VW hired Walter de'Silva, who had his BMW in a parking lot. As he opens the
worked at the Centro Stile FIAT, at the
door, another car drives by and knocks his
I.DE.A. Institute, and at Alfa Romeo.
door off. He starts sobbing, "My car! Oh my
De’Silva progressed from Volkswagen’s
poor car!!!" A passer-by witnessed what
Seat studio in Spain to head Audi and Lam-
happened and says, "Man— All you BMW
borghini design, before being in charge of
drivers are the same! You're so materialis-
tic!! You care only about your car… you
all branches of the VW Group.
haven't even noticed that your left arm got
Automakers place more and more emphasis
ripped off!" The guy screams, "Oh my god!!
on god looks, realizing the importance of
style on the customers’ decision-making process. Having worked together with VW
since the early 1970s, the renowned Giugia-
ro father & son team, ItalDsign, has now
become part of the Volkswagen Group.
The word ‘Automobile’ was coined in France in 1876
“A designer is only as good as what he or
previous era: the town car, sedan, touring
she knows. If all you know is what you have
car, landau, convertible, coupe and others.
garnered from fifteen years of living in De-
No surprise here, because the same car-
troit, it's going to limit what you can lay
penters, blacksmiths, cabinetmakers, sad-
down. If you've had experiences around the
dlers and painters now made carriages
world, you'll be able to design a much richer
powered by an engine instead of a horse.
story for people to enjoy,” is one of J Mays
many insightful quotes. He now is Ford’s
In 1887 Rene Panhard and Emile Levassor
design director, after having worked for
started to build auto buggies; the Panhard
Volkswagen, BMW and Audi.
company existed into the 1960s.
Mays’ statement is certainly true today,
when multinational automakers design and
produce cars all around the world. A century
ago, every country fabricated its automo-
biles according to its own taste and cultural
habits; it was a time when style and struc-
ture had an unmistakable national identity.
While Great Britain preferred steam-
powered railway vehicles, Germany and es-
pecially France were some of the earliest
nations whose people took a liking to the
Panhard-Levassor in 1890
Various types of steam powered carriages
had been built everywhere, before Amédée
Louis Renault and his brothers Fernand and
Bollée materialized a fairly modernistic trav-
Marcel teamed up in 1897 and started to
el carriage that might have been acceptable
produce automobiles with engines they pur-
for overland travel, but for the cumbersome
chased from Daimler.
steam engine. Soon after, during the 1870s,
Albert de Dion and Georges Bouton sug-
The Peugeot family had been in the manu-
gested technical improvements to the car-
facturing business since 1842, when Ar-
riage’s suspension, which have survived to
mand Peugeot thought it was time to get
the modern automobile.
into the promising new line of making auto-
With several centuries of accumulated ex-
perience in building elaborate horse drawn
Andre Citroen waited until 1919 before tak-
coaches on continental Europe, it still took a
ing up a new line of work, and Ettore Bugatti
considerable amount of time for the horse-
used his artistic flair and technical mastery
less type to look the part.
to craft legendary vehicles.
French carriage builders were particularly
Renault, Peugeot & Citroen and Bugatti still
adept in bringing ornate and stylish ele-
exist today in one form or another, either
ments to the early automobiles during the
owned by the state, joined with others, or
1890s: the general body shape, the doors,
revived by different firms, respectively.
lights, and roof structures. Even the names
The early automobiles produced in France
of various styles were taken over from the
were ornate, flamboyant and to some ex-
tend aerodynamic. Wooden bodies were
plywood, which is now at the New York
styled to resemble a ‘skiff torpedo’; today’s
Guggenheim museum. At a size of about
speedsters still retain some elements of a
1.25 x 1.00 meter, this artist promoted the
boat hull. Examples of this have survived
new technology and the automotive supply
through decades: the 1935 Auburn Boattail
industry —— What did Picasso do for this
Speedster, the Boattail Corvette of the
industry, I ask you.
1960s, the 1972 Buick Riviera and even the
recent GM-Holden Efijy concept car, to
The Michelin tire company is trying to make
mention a few.
up for his omission; Always at the forefront
in automotive matters, Eduard Michelin’s
That form of streamlining the early French
heirs have since 2001 organized an auto-
autos will not go away: today NASA and
mobile design competition in countries
several Universities are experimenting with
around the world; weird and wonderful crea-
collapsible ‘boattails’, attached to the rear of
tions come from professionals and students
highway trucks, in order to reduce fuel con-
of design colleges. The winners and many
entries are displayed at major auto shows.
French flair and style was very much evi-
In addition, the tire manufacturer invites
dent in the Citroen DS models of the 1950s, schools and industry to participate in the
a shape that could be called futuristic even
Michelin Challenge Bibendum in highlighting
in the new millennium.
advanced sustainable mobility technology.
After World War II the coach building indus-
try all but disappeared together with the ag-
ing crafts people. The heretofore very indi-
vidualistic French style started to rely
strongly on Italian design studios. That trend
has been reversed since the 1980, and is
gaining favorable reviews everywhere.
This mainly goes for “The Big Three”, Cit-
roen, Peugeot and Renault. Pundits list 387
French automakers since the early days, of
1966 Citroen DS
which 10 still exist, besides the above 3.
A century ago, French artists were fascinat-
ed by the new machines and the speed they
This decimation is typical for most industrial
could travel at. Ernest Montaut created a
series of ceramic reliefs that adorned the
Michelin building in 1911.
Citroen was the least affected by the Italian
design influence and retains the typical
In 1919 Francis Picabia painted ‘The Child
French flair, as will be seen later on.
Carburetor’ (L'Enfant carburateur) in oil on
Viva l’ automobile!
Scale model of Volvo concept truck at ‘Challenge Bibendum’.
The Michelin tire company sponsors an annual competition, named Challenge Bibendum, for amateurs and professionals, driving automotive design forward without the constraints or demands of production being placed on the individual’s creativity.
Early days in the ‘Land of the Automobile’
"The new mechanical wagon with the awful
Steam and electrically powered wagons and
name ‘automobile’ has come to stay..." the
carriages were already being produced on
New York Times stated in a 1897 article.
both sides of the Atlantic, before petroleum
We know that ‘automobile’ first became
engines became small enough to be useful.
popular in France, where the new invention
caught on quickest, but the whole world
could not agree on what to call a horse-less
Historians believe that the venerable news-
paper was the first to bring ‘automobile’ to
North America, at a time when no one knew
the name of these noisy, smelly, smoky
Our favorite fixation could have received a
name much worse; The first Americans to
build one, Charles and Frank Duryea,
George Selden sued Henry Ford over the
former’s “road machine”, while the latter
named his a “quadricycle”.
An interesting parallel exists between the
infant American and European auto indus-
try: Ransom Eli Olds fabricated several
models of electric cars around the turn to the 20th century, at about the same time
when Ferdinand Porsche constructed bat-
tery-electric vehicles with wheel-hub motors
for the Austrian Lohner firm. To overcome
what we now call range anxiety, Porsche
installed a commercially available Daimler
engine to drive a generator, and Lohner
sold more than 300 of these.
The automobile might have suffered image
Early American statistics indicate that, not
problems, had names taken hold such as:
counting the barn and back yard builders,
autobaine, autokenetic, autometon, bug-
almost thirty businesses were building vari-
gyaut, diamote, mocole, motorig, motor-
ous types of automobiles by 1898. Within
vique or oleo-locomotive, as reported in
newspapers during the car’s infancy.
one year 2,500 passenger-carrying road
vehicles had been made; investors poured
As different as the names, so were the ear-
$388 million into new start-up companies in
liest auto-buggies; new and improved with one four-months period. By the turn of the
every next one built.
century 8,000 automobiles plied the un-
paved paths of America, well over half were
light on the Olds electric vehicles. A pre-
1901 sales catalogue features R.E. at the
til er of an electric “Stanhope.” Inside are
Donald and Kenneth McDowel wrote: “The
pictures and text covering the two-
entire history of the Olds electric vehicle
passenger “Stanhope” and the five-
project, [before a fire destroyed the factory
passenger “Phaeton” electric vehicles.”
in 1901] is far from complete at this time”.
BTW, a Stanhope is a ‘body style character-
ized by its single bench seat mounted at the
center, folding cloth top, and a dashboard at
the front. All Stanhopes featured tiller steer-
ing, either in the center or at the side’.
The recent discovery and identification of a
number of pre-1901 Olds factory photo-
graphs shows various electric vehicles.
The McDowells add: “A newspaper account
appearing one day after the factory fire
quotes Olds superintendent Willis Grant
Believed to be only remaining 1899 Olds electric vehicle
Murray as saying that over 20 electrics, ei-
ther completed or in varying stages of as-
That fire changed not only Olds’ future, pos-
sembly were destroyed in the fire. He fur-
sibly the direction of automotive history.
ther states that a large amount of electric
R.E. Olds called his EVs city-vehicles, real-
izing the limited range of a battery, as is still
stroyed. One other interesting statement of
the case in 2011. Olds planned to assemble
Murray is that one Olds electric vehicle sur-
EVs from components purchased from out-
vived the fire because it was being used
side manufacturers. The Olds Company
outside and therefore was not at the factory
“placed several large orders for electrical
parts and materials”, according to the
They continue: “In the 1960s an electric ve-
McDowells. “Also, a large area on the se-
hicle is recovered from a barn in Lansing,
cond floor of the factory was outfitted with
Michigan. It is subsequently identified as an
the equipment needed to assemble a sub-
Olds electric “Phaeton.” R.E. bought the
stantial number of electric vehicles.”
high styled and beautifully executed bodies
A trade journal reported that Olds Motor
for his electrics from one of the leading body
Works has placed a “large” order for batter-
firms in Detroit, the Sievers and Erdman
ies with the Sipe and Sigler firm of Cleve-
Coach Builders Company.”
land, Ohio, in 1900.
In 1902 production of the ‘curved dash’
The McDowells further wrote, “The following
Oldsmobile started with an internal combus-
brief [edited] account of events in the Olds
electric vehicle story are presented in as
A fire changing automotive history?
accurate a chronological order as can be
yet determined, and will serve to shed new
From the home of Ferrari and Lamborghini ….
This may sound confusing to some: Gran
In 1903 Fiat started to produce trucks. By
Torino was made by Ford of Detroit; Torino,
1908 the firm exported its first cars to North
the city, is considered the Detroit of Italy;
America and began production of aircraft
FIAT means Fabbrica Italiana Automobili
engines; by 1910 Fiat was already the larg-
Torino; a ‘Fiat’ is a legally binding order by a
est automaker in Italy.
judge, while The Judge is a Pontiac muscle
At that same time, a firm in Poughkeepsie in
New York State started to build various Fiat
The world is a small place, especially the
models under license. These cars, prestig-
world auto industry, and somehow every-
ious and sought after, sold for between
thing falls into place.
$3,500 and $6,500, at the same time when
a Ford Model T went for $825. That factory
Enzo Ferrari once said: “Aerodynamics are
stopped production in 1917, when the Unit-
for people who cannot build engines”, but
ed States entered World War I.
Ferraris are not the worst amongst many
streamlined and stylish cars; Style is the
After the war’s end, and again after WWII,
forte of the Italian automobile industry.
Fiat licensed its cars and trucks to be pro-
duced in numerous countries around the
Historians agree that inventor and artist Le-
globe, a practice still existing today.
onardo da Vinci fabricated the first self-
moving vehicle long before the industrial
Italy’s automobile industry started pretty
much at the same time as in the other au-
tomotive pioneer countries, just after
France, in 1896. As in most other countries,
many carmakers were established during
the early decades, but more than three
times as many firms perished, than the four-
Fiat 500 Convertible Coupe 1947
teen that still exist today.
Fiat’s early success continued, and during
To express it differently: Italy has had fewer
the 1920s its market share in Italy was more
automobile companies during the last one
than 87%. A similar proportion of the world
hundred years, than the country has had
population admire and desire the exotic cars
governments since the end of World War II;
designed and crafted during the last half of
Wikipedia lists 46 extinct automakers and
the 20th century in the land of many music,
61 changes of government, that’s sixty one
canvas and sheet-metal artists; — the histo-
elections in 66 years.
ry of Italian auto design deserves an article
or two on its own.
Fiat was founded in 1899 by Giovanni Agnelli and a few investors. Members of the
Over time, various Fiat divisions and subsid-
Agnelli family have controlled Fiat, and Fiat
iaries produced anything and everything
took control of the Italian auto industry.
from porcelain to farming implements and
tractors, from racing cars to airplanes, mo-
Fiat’s alliance with Chrysler seems to be off
torcycles and scooters, as well as leisure
to a better start, judging by the results and
products and insurance; Fiat was in Italy
progress, having increased its original 20%
what General Motors was in North America,
stake in Detroit’s ‘Number Three’ firm to 25,
but small cars were not appreciated in the
and in the spring of 2011 to thirty percent.
land of V8-power and cubic inches for the
[Fiat now holds the majority]
In a way, the history of the Italian auto in-
Times do change, and in the millennium
dustry is the history of Fiat. The only car-
year, General Motors acquired a stake in
maker of note not belonging to the Fiat
the Fiat Auto division, respected for its small
Group is Lamborghini, which has been in
cars. Things did not work out as planned,
Chrysler’s possession at one time.
and after five years, the two industrial giants
Since late in the last century, every ‘auto
went their separate ways again. It had been
a clever contract from Fiat’s point of view; It
nation’ has been affected by the state of the
cost GM 2 billion dollars to free themselves
global car and truck industry. In this century
from an apparently unwanted complete
we can no longer distinguish between one
country’s automobile history without consi
take-over of Fiat, the circumstance of a ‘put
option’, an intricate financial agreement.
ering the connections the companies have
around the globe. This is especially true of
At this time, Sergio Marcionne had become
the influence of Italian design on the world’s
the new Fiat CEO. Raised and educated in
Toronto, the Italian-Canadian had previous-
ly made his mark in Europe as a ‘turn-
What the Mini means for Britain, the Deux
around manager’. With Fiat now on a solid
Chevaux for France, the Beetle for Germa-
financial footing again, he tried to acquire
ny, the Fiat 500 Topolino (Mickey Mouse) Opel, Vauxhall and Saab from GM, when
means for Italy; The new one comes in
that company was in a bad position in 2008.
many different versions from 68 horsepower
Again, things did not work out between the
to 268 ponies in the upgraded Ferrari edi-
two largest manufacturers in their respective
Popular in Europe in the 20th century, now popular around the world.
The shortest history of the European auto industry
“In Hollywood, I knew things had changed
when I went to the Academy Awards and
production scene may have been, the spe-
everybody started pulling up in a hybrid.
cialty and niche versions continue to flour-
Nobody wanted to arrive in a Rolls-Royce
ish. Engineering talent abounds, and the
anymore,” said talk-show host Jay Leno.
vast majority of the worlds Formula-1 racing
stables have their home base in the country
Times have changed indeed, and one of the
that made steam travel popular.
biggest changes has taken place in the Brit-
ish automobile industry.
Also relatively unscathed by economic cy-
cles and by the upheaval during the last fifty
In 1922, one hundred & eighty three motor
years, the high-end makes are making a
companies made their home in the UK. The
comeback under foreign ownership. Rolls
depression reduced that number to 58.
Royce, the prime example of the British au-
to industry, is going green, leapfrogging the
After the turmoil had settled, Britain had
hybrid stage, and going fully electric.
more auto manufacturers than the rest of
Europe combined. The industry served all
Bentley (below) was taken under the wings segments from inexpensive and compact to
of the Volkswagen Group and is making its
sportscars, utility and luxury cars.
experience in building finely crafted cars felt
among the other stable mates.
Automotive design in Britain was noticeably
different from other European countries be-
cause their designers did not have as much
exposure to continental European art or de-
sign movements until after World War II.
Great Britain was the leading automobile
producer in Europe until the late 1960s. It
exported more cars than the USA, and it did
it around the world.
Well known makes that were popular back
home, in North America and in many other
countries, but have almost been forgotten,
include Austin, the separate Austin Healey,
De Lorean, Hillman, Humber, Morris, Riley,
Since the mid 1980s, Nissan, Honda, Toyo-
Rootes, Rover, Standard, Sunbeam, Tri-
ta and also Peugeot have produced the ve-
umph and Wolseley. The unforgettable MG,
hicles needed by population and commerce
which fanned the love for sportscars around
in the UK. To get to this point, Great Britain
the world, lives on under the Chinese Nan-
has endured a mighty struggle within its
jing Automobile; but even that firm was tak-
once impressive domestic auto industry.
en over by SAIC, the Shanghai Automotive
During its hay day, England gave to the
world two unforgettable automotive icons:
the Mini and the E-type Jaguar; the New
Since fewer companies produce more au-
Mini is all the rage, and a possible E-type
tomobiles worldwide, let’s take a look at
successor is making the rounds.
other European countries: Before WWII
Czechoslovakia had a robust automotive
progress materialized under the Com-
munists, and the companies were taken
over by other European firms.
Austria’s Steyr car and Puch motorbike makers were combined under Daimler and
now are part of the Magna Group, assem-
thrive under their new Indian Tata parent
Hungary also has a successful and ex-
panding supply and assembly industry.
Aston Martin is doing well since going it Sweden’s Volvo car division was a small
alone again; McLaren cars are growing, and part of several large conglomerates, includ-all seems well lately.
ing the Volvo group. Then Ford bought it
and sold it again. Now an expanding Chi-
nese automaker is the parent company.
Volvo and Saab are particularly well suited
to the Scandinavian climate and are known
for their safety and sturdiness, as well as
many new technology features.
Saab was acquired by General Motors in 1990. It did not experience the hoped for
expansion and was sold in 2010 to the
Lotus is experiencing a ‘new sunrise’ under Proton Spyker auto company of the Netherlands.
above photos by supercarsite.net
Another small but well regarded and innova-
Last ranked Kenya, whose motto is "Let us
tive Dutch car and truckmaker is DAF.
all pull together", is starting to become mo-
torized. The East African republic, about the
Who would expect to find automobile pro-
size of Texas, with a population of 40 mil-
duction in even more northerly Finland? Out
lion, has three automobile assembly plants.
of 2.5 million jobs, 18,000 are in the auto-
They produce mostly trucks and industrial
motive industry, mostly suppliers to other
carmakers. Valmet Automotive produces
cars under contact for other carmakers, as-
Here you can find a list of all car brands
sembling different models on the same as-
sembly line. Finland produced approximate-
ly 11,000 cars in 2009, ranking 46th out of
52 nations, which now have a growing au-
The new Mini, made by BMW in Britain
Morris Mini Minor 1959
"Design must fulfill needs, dreams and de-
sires, and represent a quality of life for all in
The climatic, geological, and cultural differ-
the 2000s,” said David Lyon, Executive Di-
ences between Finland and Kenya makes
rector of Design, General Motors.
clear the difficulties and challenges that
await designers and engineers before all the
world’s citizen are able to enjoy affordable,
Rolls Royce Silver Ghost in India. Perhaps the best-known
automobile of them all, the company now belongs to BMW.
Has Japan not endured enough already?
In the wake of the disasters Japan is endur-
and body and used a gasoline engine pur-
ing at this time it is difficult to find the right
chased in the United States.
words. To use any quote or quotation would
be ill chosen.
In 1904 Torao Yamaha came up with the
first bus produced in Japan, --steam pow-
Japanese are disciplined, industrious peo-
ered, with room for ten passengers.
ple, and they will overcome and rise again.
Not giving up, Uchiyama assembled the first
More than one dozen automobile factories
have suffered structural and/or equipment
engine car in 1907 and called it Takuri, after
damage. Extend of damage, or even the
a percussion instrument.
awareness of the conditions at many supply
firms is unknown as I write this; The entire
So called hot and miss engines, as can be
Japanese auto industry is at a standstill at
seen and heard at many a country fair, were
this moment. [after the earthquake & tsu-
made at that time in many places to ease
nami in March 2011]
the chores on the farm or in a workshop.
At a time when digital communication
In 1904/05 Japan went to war against Rus-
makes possible the instant sharing of infor-
sia to stop its attempt of expanding into the
mation, we know of all the goings-on any-
Far East. This got the military interested in
where on earth, —— except when things go
trucks, and it imported some from France
and Germany in 1907. By 1911 the Osaka
Artillery factory produced the first domestic
Information trickled at a slow pace in days
of long ago, and during those times we
knew all too little of most that happed. Be-
Between 1907 and 1914 Masujiro Hashimo-
fore Japanese cars came to this continent,
to imported, assembled and sold several
very few people, including this reporter,
automobiles imported from Britain by his
knew the history of the makes we now take
Kaishinsha Motor Works. During this time
he also fabricated seven vehicles with a ten-
horsepower, two-cylinder locally produced
The Japanese auto industry goes back al-
engine. This made Kaishinsha the first Jap-
most to the time of the first auto buggies
anese auto manufacturer. The company
name soon changed to DATsun and later to
In 1901 the American Locomobile Company
imported their first steam automobile to a
In 1914, the shipyard Mitsubishi Zosen
manufactured 22 Mitsubishi Model A cars,
putting an end to the ‘build and sell’ stage of
One year after seeing the first self-moving
the now growing industry.
vehicle, Komanosuke Uchiyama, a young
bicycle mechanic at the Sorinshokai bicycle
A law was passed in 1918 to help seven
shop in Ginza, put together a simple frame
automobile manufacturers with subsidies to
produce cars that could be used by civilians,
but were to be used by the military in times
It took until 1952 before civilian automobile
of war, according to Wikipedia.
production experienced resurgence under
Prince Motor Company, which became part
Datsun was one of the manufacturers build-
of Nissan. Subaru followed two years later,
ing trucks for that purpose.
then Suzuki in the year after, then Daihatsu
in 1957 (now owned by Toyota) and Honda
An earthquake of 7.9 magnitude destroyed
much of Tokyo in 1923. Japan imported 800
Model T Ford chassis and converted them
As we know, Soichiro Honda had started
into buses to replace the city’s destroyed
shortly after the war to fit small engines to
transportation system. Ford saw a worth-
bicycles; then he began producing mopeds
while market for its vehicles and in 1925 es-
and motorbikes, before building cars. One
tablished an assembly plant in the port city
year after initial car production, Honda al-
of Yokohama, which also had been de-
ready exported cars to North America.
stroyed by the earthquake.
Yours truly had the opportunity to sell the
first two Honda cars ever sold in Canada.
General Motors did the same two years lat-
er, setting up shop in Osaka to build Chev-
By and by, over the last few decades, Japa-
nese cars have become “domesticated” in
N.A., while so-called domestic makes are
In the years that followed, Japan experi-
being produced in other countries; — we
enced the advantage of mass-produced au-
are living in the 21st century now! Over time,
tomobiles, including quality control and -for
the quality, style and reliability of any of
the time- advanced technology as well as a
them has equaled that of the best of Ameri-
nationwide sales network.
ca or Europe.
Mazda was the first of today’s wel known
Once nature and human toil has overcome
companies to follow up on this in 1931, and
the ravages of the disasters of March 2011,
Toyota in 1935.
the Japanese auto industry will once again
World War II interrupted the rise of the Jap-
be at the forefront from every point of view.
anese auto industry.
We wish Japan well!
The LF-A, one in a series of strikingly beautiful LF (Lexus Future) concept cars at a recent auto show. Its LED headlights, sparkling like diamonds, will light up and brightly shine in the future.
Photograph by Lexus.
Korea is catching up fast — also on a tradition of carmakers
Ferrari is known by its prancing horse em-
In 1960 Shinjin (‘new beginning’) Automo-
blem; we all know the marvelous Mustang,
biles launched their first model, produced
but who knew the pitiful Pony would grow
under license from Toyota, changing to
into a worthwhile ‘workhorse’ for frugal fami-
General Motors in 1972.
lies far and near?
Hyundai Motor Company was established in
South Korea’s auto industry, well seasoned
1968 with Ford’s technical cooperation. The
when compared to nations that started auto-
Hyundai group of companies originated in
related manufacturing during the last few
construction after WWII. During fifty years,
decades, began in 1955.
one Hyundai branch has grown into the
world’s largest shipyard. Hyundai also oper-
ates a chain of department stores, contain-
er-shipping services, manufacture of eleva-
tors, and is active in the tourism industry.
With encouragement and import protection
from the Korean government, three previ-
ously existing companies started automobile
production in cooperation with Mazda and
Nissan in 1975. One of these later changed
its name to Kia Industry.
Until this time, carmakers, including Asia
Motors and Daewoo, (later acquired by
General Motors), assembled vehicles de-
Hyundai makes the steel, the cars, and the ships to transport
veloped by other carmakers. Government
and industry laid the foundation for develop-
Previously, only maintenance and repair of
ing a healthy automobile industry by nurtur-
American military vehicles kept a small
ing a supply base during the 1970s.
number of technically oriented people occu-
In 1975, Hyundai introduced the Pony, the
first Korean-developed car. To hint at the
Ten years after the end of World War II, au-
complexity of that, the Hyundai conglomer-
to mechanic Choi Mu-seong installed an
ate still needed the cooperation of ItalDe-
engine into an abandoned Us Army Jeep.
sign for style and prototype development.
With help from his three brothers, Choi also
The Pony got its engine and transmission
modified the Jeep and called it Sibal, which
from Mitsubishi, bodies from Perkinson, in-
translates to ‘new start’.
terior from Ogihara and production machin-
ery from France. All this was financed by
Many consider this the beginning of South
two western banks.
Koreàs auto industry; Fifty-five years later,
it is the fifth largest, behind Germany and
During the 1980s, the country refined mass-
just ahead of Brazil.
production, aiming to make vehicle export a
priority. This started in 1986 with 126,000
Hyundai Ponys entering North America; —
Details of the security package are confi-
only four years later, one million Hyundais
dential. Part of this involves an innovative,
had arrived on this continent.
lightweight armor. This material, named Ar-
mor Protected Roof Integrated Lining®, was
This increased year after year, but quality
originally developed for use in offshore
had not pulled even with established makes.
powerboat racing in Switzerland.
Korean manufacturers invested heavily in
R&D and in 1998 offered a ten-year or
In order to meet recycling and sustainability
100,000 mile warranty.
targets, part of the armor is a fully organic
material. The ‘string’ part of runner beans is
Motorists know the rest of the story: During
lighter and stronger than Kevlar, when wo-
the last decade, a more diverse range of
ven into matting and encased in resin made
models came onto the market, something
from tree s a p.”
for every taste and budget.
Concurrently, “Kia wil reveal its new Aero-
Consolidation in the auto industry did not
Soul option, which reduces fuel consump-
bypass South Korea, and Hyundai acquired
tion and exhaust emissions with a simple
Kia in 1998. After the turn of the century,
and low-cost Air Propulsion and Retardation
Hyundai built its first plant in North America,
Installation Line®. It delivers environmental
Kia following a few years later.
benefits without expensive technology and
will be available as a bolt-on accessory at
Emulating industry stalwarts, Hyundai has
your local dealership for Kia cars already in
dreamt up an armored model based on its
use, on 2011/04/01.
i10. Aimed at heads of state and religious
leaders, the company reported on March
The system has sensors in the front and
31st that the first unit, -quoting- “wil be used
rear bumpers which monitor external wind
by a German customer living in Italy”.
speed and deploy panels when the wind is
sufficient to provide additional directional
The car will be delivered during a ceremony
impetus according to the car’s behavior.
in Vatican City on 2011/04/01, the press re-
lease stated. It further said: “Hyundai has
At cruising speed, the panels will harness
identified that many global leaders are con-
wind power to provide forward motion. If the
cerned about the emissions from large lim-
car is slowing, the panels will deploy to pro-
ousines and adapted 4x4 vehicles which
vide additional retardation effort.
traditionally form the basis of all presiden-
tial, papal and prime ministerial transport.
In addition, the global financial crisis has
made it necessary for political and faith
leaders to adopt less ostentatious lifestyles.
Instead of leather, the upholstery is of a
tapestry woven by monks from the Indian
city of Utta Bullacs. The cloth was nick-
named ‘holy sheet’ by Hyundai’s trimmers.
Picture over-leaf: The clever Kia kinetic energy capture sys-
The new A.P.R.I.L. system will be available
tem undergoing road tests on March 31, the day before its
on all vehicles ordered after midnight of
launch among a circle of credulous customers.
March 31, 2011.”
Photoshop pictures from Hyundai and Kia, via Auto Express
Additionally a small electrically powered baf-
fle can be lowered just behind the exhaust
pipe under braking to provide the kind of
“reverse-thrust” associated with aircraft dur-
ing landing – this option will only be availa-
ble as a factory-fitted device.
Too late for several deposed Middle-East potentates, the Hyundai ‘Hope-Car’™ (hope to survive) wil be available for only a very short time. It was decided to forgo the term ‘Hope-Mobile’, being too similar to
An automobile fit for an Empress
If history is the long forgotten past, then re-
Some Buicks were running in Shanghai in cent history is the recently forgotten past;
1912. Demand for Buicks grew, and the
We know from experience ‘how soon we
company opened a sales office in Shanghai
in 1929. A 1930 advertisement claimed that
"one in every six cars in China is a Buick,"
China has a few millennia on the West in
and that "Buick owners are mostly the lead-
the history department. With that much to
ing men in China." Pu Yi, China's last em-
remember, we should overlook that China
peror, owned at least one Buick during the
Car Times reported in October 2010 that, 1920s. This made Buick a status symbol in
”…in fact China has had cars for pretty
much the same length of time as the USA.
The first car to be imported into China was a
Popular president Zhou En-Lai also used a
German-built Duryen model, and was
Buick in Shanghai during the 1940s.
brought to China in 1886 to please the Em-
press Dowager, although the car had to be
All this good-will favored Buick. The General
modified to fit the cultural habits of the day,
Motors division signed a joint venture
before it was fit for an Empress.”
agreement with Shanghai Automotive In-
dustry Corporation (SAIC) in 1997, the se-
Daimler and Benz had just cobbled together
cond western automaker to do so. One year
their first car ever, and It takes a long time
later, the first Chinese-built Buick was
with ‘A Slow Boat to China.’
ready. Ten years on, more Buicks are built
and sold in China than in America.
Indispensable Google to the rescue: “Auto-
mobiles arrived in China when Yuan Shikai,
Fast rewind: before the communist revolu-a soldier and statesman, gave the Empress
tion in the 1920s, Model T Fords sold very
Dowager Cixi a new wood-bodied 1901
well in China.
Duryea for her 66th birthday.” (Google is
somewhat immobilized in China)
In the early 1930s, under General Zhang
Xueliang, military trucks were produced, but
In 1907, the so-called Peking - Paris motor
general motorization eluded China.
race took place, with five teams completing
the 14,994 km trip between the two cities.
Under Mao Tse-tung, after 1949, private car
That is when some of the population be-
ownership still did not exist; only the political
came aware of automobiles.
elite drove the few existing passenger cars,
imported from Russia; Engineers only
A Spyker won that torture test – from the
worked in truck factories at that time.
same small Dutch company that recently
The first “made in China” vehicle was a
acquired Saab from GM.
Dongfeng truck, assembled in 1956 at the
Somehow, Chinese officials became aware
First Automobile Works (FAW) in Chang-
of Buick. Yuan Shai Kai, a provincial vice-
chun, followed by a Dongfeng sedan two
roy, was interested in introducing Buicks
into China more than one hundred years
ago "if they come up to expectations."
Around the turn of the millennium, Europe-
an, Japanese, Korean, American automak-
ers, and supply firms, were flocking to China
to build vehicle factories, engine and trans-
mission plants and those making car com-
ponents; 92 automotive manufacturers were
listed in 2007.
Consolidation among home-grown carmak-
ers and the world-wide recession reduced
that number to 52 by 2009 —compared to
15 in the United States.
Books and articles have been written, and
At the time of Deng Xiaoping’s regime i
more will be published, about the phenome-
dustrial progress came to pass as ‘socialist
nal rise and expansion of the Chinese economy and the automobile industry in
market economy’. In 1984 /85 the first pri-
vately owned vehicles were driven in Beijing
(formerly Peking), and the farmer who
Inaccuracies and mistakes do happen, and
bought the first private truck got front-page
will continue to happen, as long as humans
coverage in the Chinese press.
err. But there is no mistake in predicting that
“made in China” automobiles wil be a
China then allowed western automakers to
common sight and sound —to a lesser de-
form joint ventures with their manufacturers,
Volkswagen being the first one in 1984. The
gree with electric vehicles — around the world in the years to come.
government intended to promote its own
industry while keeping control of the market
Did we forget that the Japanese first built
and technical progress by controlling the
cars based on European makes, then cop-
ied, and improved upon those, and where
they are now?
In the meantime, a number of domestic ve-
hicle factories had sprung up. By 1998 half
Economists are talking about the BRIC
a million passenger cars were sold, one mil-
block – Brazil, Russia, India, China, ready to
lion in 2002, two million the next year, five
become accustomed to the freedom of per-
million in 2005, and 13 million in 2010.
sonal mobility, as did America and Europe
in years gone by.
Countries around the globe are getting “mo-
No different from the rest of the world, Chinese love fast cars
and fancy bikes
Rush-hour in China, then and now. Photos: From Ben Lownik’s inspiring article and Wikipedia
Solid like a BRIC – building business in Brazil, Russia, India, China …
Bay of Quinte area readers are better in-
formed about alternative transportation
techniques and energy systems than most
The Trentonian has informed us for years
about what the future holds and what we
might drive ‘down the road’.
In contrast, a recent market study of drivers
over 18 years of age in the USA found that
only one in five, or 20%, are aware of any-
thing other than the “gas” engine they are
driving. Hydrogen as a fuel of the future is
known to only 15%. Awareness of the immi-
Tiny trucks help developing countries ‘get on wheels’, much
nent arrival of electric vehicles has in-
the same as similar units assisted Europe’s recovery after
World War II
creased from 8% to 16%, but only 7% have
heard of clean diesel engines.
The study blames the media for the ne-
glected education. How fortunate we are!
They say, "You don't know where to go, un-
til you see where you have been." Or, in our
automotive situation, “On the inventive past
the ingenious future thrives.”
For that reason, we had a look into the rear-
view mirror, so to speak. Before we come
back to the present and look into the future
One step up from a bicycle rickshaw for this entrepreneur
again, let’s have a look at the history of the
Brazil realized this in 1956. Near São Paulo BRIC block- Brazil, Russia, India and…
a small factory started to assemble Isettas,
since we covered China already, we change
the tiny BMW bubble car. Two years later
the C for M —Malaysia.
Toyota began producing Land Cruisers.
Looking at auto nation latecomers, and ear-
Volkswagen constructed a factory in Brazil
lier ones, we find that every country that
in 1959. Most countries start their motoriza-
embraced the transportation industry, has
tion with commercial vehicles, therefore VW
prospered. Fifty-two countries out of 143 on
started with the Kombi, that North Ameri-
this list produce automobiles, and a more cans know as the Mini-Bus —but it also
than cursory glance reveals the potential for
came as a pickup.
the future of humans and vehicles.
During the 1960s Chevrolet and Ford start-
commercial vehicles and farm tractors.
ed producing trucks and other commercial
Even so, economic and industrial progress
vehicles, before adding cars.
was slow. During the 1980s the government
selected Suzuki as a joint venture partner to
The market for vehicles really opened up
produce bikes, scooters and small cars.
during the mid-1990s, and Audi, Chrysler,
Maruti-Suzuki, Tata Motors and Mahindra
Citroen, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Peugeot
now dominate the small-car market.
and Renault built factories and started pro-
duction; Mercedes-Benz had been making
The potential for expansion is second only
trucks and buses, adding cars in 1998.
to China, and established carmakers are
eager to build factories in India; many al-
Brazil now produces more than 3.5 million
ready export cars made in India to other
vehicles per year, making it number six,
slightly ahead of India.
Ten automobile manufacturers are now
Russia is very advanced in the aero and producing a variety of vehicles in India. Su-space industry, but the Soviets neglected
zuki alone built three new factories, equip-
the vehicle industry. At the time when the
ping its cars with popular diesel engines
Model T made Ford the world’s largest ve-
from its tie-up with Volkswagen.
hicle manufacturer (comprising over 90% of
all cars made), Ford assisted the Soviets by
Malaysia started vehicle production in 1983
building the first automobile factory in 1929,
with Proton, building cars with technology
and a second plant one year later. The
and parts supplied by Mitsubishi. By and by,
Model A was produced as a car and as a
components were fabricated in the country.
truck, serving the country into the 1960s.
Since 1993, the National Automobile Enter-
prise rivals and competes with Proton for
By then, Ford and Volkswagen were ap-
the fast expanding economy and market of
proached for technical support, but Fiat was
the region. The new firm received its assis-
selected to build a new factory, because the
tance from Japan’s Daihatsu. Daihatsu is
Italian communist party was in government
now putting up its own factory in neighbor-
at the time —Russia produced the Lada, a
licensed copy of the popular Fiat 124.
Soviet Russia had seven of its own vehicle makers, two of which are located in the
Today, European and Asian automakers
produce cars in Russia, adding more plants
to supply a growing market.
India imported cars from Britain before World War II, today the role is reversed. After independence from Britain in 1947,
Mahindra started to assemble Jeeps, li-
Motorcycle sidecar / ricksha in the Philippines
censed by Willys. They soon added light
In 1996 Proton acquired Lotus from
Henry Ford more than doubled autoworkers’
Volkswagen. Being one of the world’s lead-
wages in 1914 to $5.00 per day; — we
ing technology developers, Lotus enabled
know this was the start of mass-
Proton to design and develop its first own
vehicle in 2001.
A similar situation is taking place in count-
Wherever automobiles are produced, jobs
less countries around the globe.
are created and people and nations benefit.
A more modern and powerful TAXI /rickshaw, judging by the tires and front fork Photos from Wikipedia
Crocodile with wheels sighted in Adelaide during Millennium year
“Australian Automotive Industry Gathers for
Guilty of knowing little more of Australia
Historic Talks”, the September 2011 head-
than crocodile hunter Steve Irwin and
‘Crocodile Dundee’s Paul Hogan, the World
Wide Web had to help out again.
Economic problems have also slipped be-
low the equator, it seems.
The Victorian Automobile Chamber of
Commerce (VACC) organized the first ever
such conference. All sectors of the auto in-
dustry met to debate common problems,
interests, and goals. Representatives of the
manufacturing sector, importers, dealer-
ships, service and repair businesses, insur-
ance firms and parts retailers, and also in-
dustry associations, Governments and oth-
ers came together.
Unity brings strength and peace, something
that is sadly missing in many places north of
Because Australia and New Zealand are
located ‘down under’, they are too often
overlooked – unjustifiably; “Out of sight, out
of mind”, comes to mind, and the recent
‘world-series’ of automotive history would
not be complete without the southern conti-
Cars from ‘down under’ are seldom seen ‘up north’. Two years after its presentation in Australia, North Americans
While this concludes the history of the ‘old
were able to admire the Holden Efijy at auto shows in 2007.
As a design exercise, the car reminds us of the first GM
world’ automakers; other countries are regu-
concept car, thèY-Jobòf 1937 and — interrupted by World
larly starting new industries, and with that,
War II, the Buicks of the 1950s. Delayed by the economic
downturn of 2008, a modern Hotrod based on the Efijy is still
more people gain the freedom of personal
The name Holden only comes up in our The slightly scattered and largely unknown
northern latitudes from time to time in con-
thread running through Australia’s story of
nection with General Motors, but they have
successful businesses and industrial growth
a long common history.
is just as old and interesting as that of any
James Alexander Holden emigrated from
England to Adelaide in South Australia in
1852. Four years later, he opened a saddler
business. As many other car companies
companies were also sold in Australia, such
started their rise into big business with bicy-
as Opel, Vauxhall and Daewoo.
cles, wagons, or horses, so did Holden.
Edward Holden, James’ grandson, joined
Since 2005, it is GM-Holden Ltd. again.
the firm in 1905. Like many young people,
If you think, family relationships are difficult
he was interested in the new wagons with-
to make sense of, think of the auto industry!
out horses, and the business started into
the automobile business by carrying out up-
As for New Zealand, wool and lamb is more
holstery repairs. In 1913 the Holden com-
widely known than its auto industry. Short of pany started to produce sidecar bodies for
a trip to the southern hemisphere, the histo-
motorcycles. Edward started to experiment
ry of New Zealand’s relationship with the
with designing bodies and fitting them to
automobile is even trickier to fathom. From
different kinds of carriages, leading the
a lengthy timeline, we could only learn that
company to build complete motorcar bodies.
the first cars were imported in 1898, ten
years before the main trunk railway started
A separate company was formed for that
purpose in 1919. Remember, almost all ear-
ly automobiles came from the factory with-
Countless people tried their best at the be-
out a body, in form of a drivable frame. Oc-
ginning of the 20th century to develop auto-
casionally still today, one can see a caravan
buggies. So did mechanical engineer Fred-
when frame-only trucks are transported to
erick Ridley Dennison, who in 1900 de-
receive a specialty body, such as a fire truck
signed and built the first New Zealand car,
or waste collecting lorry.
including the engine. On a lengthy cross-
country test run, the vehicle was destroyed
Holden Motor Body Builders (HMBB) was
producing 12,000 auto bodies for Ford by
1923. One year later, Holden became the
In 1904 Dennison got hold of a ‘knock-
exclusive supplier of bodies for General Mo-
down’ (in parts only) Model B Ford, which
tors of Australia. Dodge, Ford, and GM cars
he assembled. Two years later, he began
were still shipped down under as running
importing and assembling Fords, and in
1908 he became the official Ford agent in
new Zealand. He lived until 1960.
In 1926 General Motors started to assemble
chassis units in the country, and forged
As shadowy as the southern continent’s au-
even closer ties with Holden. In 1931 the
to history seems to be for us Northerners,
two companies merged as General Motors-
as sunny will be the future for solar powered
Holden, when GM bought HMBB.
vehicles, thanks to Australia. Every two
years, since 1987, teams from universities
For a time, late in the last century, it revert-
and manufacturers make the 3,000 km trip
ed to Holden Ltd., taking charge of GM’s
through the Outback from Darwin to Ade-
Australian operations. As far as we can
laide. Solar vehicles have made tremen-
gather from our sources, Holden ‘badge-
dous progress because of this.
engineered‘ Isuzu, Nissan, Suzuki and Toyota models, selling them under the
Heavy-duty trucks are also a specialty
Holden banner. Models from other GM
‘down under’. Crossing a continent to keep
the country supplied, these behemoths pull
From delicate solar racers to gigantic land
up to five trailers for days on end.
trains, the South gives to the North their
About the crocodile with wheels, — it was Audi showing its high regard for Australia at the
"Australia is a country with a strong growth potential and therefore an important market for Audi," explained Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, Head of Audi Sport. "This unusual crocodile costume is a greeting to our Australian hosts. The car is a real work of art." The idea was born in the AUDI AG design centre under the leadership of Audi designer Frank Lamberty, who converted the exterior of the R8
into a crocodile in the middle of its natural habit. ALMS photos
A typical load crossing the Outback of Australia
Women, automobiles, and the myth of compatibility
The issue of women and automobiles, or
From my early years, I remember Elisabeth
female compatibility with machine-related
S. Her brother Willie explained automobiles
occupations, was a myth all along. Women
to me during grade two at their father’s
have made it to the pinnacle of every
dealership. Willie died in a horrible crash as
branch in the world of wheels.
a teenager. Elisabeth took Wilhelm’s place,
and we were classmates in technical
Women and automobiles started getting
school. She later managed the dealership
along famously when Bertha Benz “bor-
until her recent retirement.
rowed” husband Karl’s newly created motor-
carriage, and visited relatives in a neighbor-
Shop and co-op programs at several Bay of
ing town in 1886. When the machine broke
Quinte area [Ontario] high schools include
down on that historic first cross-country
young women; one school has a class of
drive, she diagnosed the problem intelligent-
female-only auto-shop students. The cream
ly and repaired the world’s first car with
of the crop from previous classes at that
school are now engineers; one young wom-
an is a designer at Ford in Detroit.
I worked for a ‘lady service manager’ in
younger years, and in later life coached a
number of ‘woman-techs’. These women
keep our family-cars running at top efficien-
cy, while top speed is the goal of Diane Holl,
Sharon Hopkins and others. Holl worked as
an engineer in Indy-car racing. Being female
has made her easily identifiable and helped
‘make her name’ in the profession, she re-
Hopkins worked as an electrical engineer
for the Arrows Formula One Team. "People
tell me I am special because I'm the first
woman F1-engineer - but so what? I don't
understand why there aren't more women in
Formula One”, she said.
Women who race in Indy-cars include Sarah
Fisher and Lyn St. James, a seven-time In-
dianapolis 500 driver. Fisher, the youngest
Bertha Benz – Picture: Daimler Archives
driver to compete in the ‘Indy 500’, qualified
Graduate female engineers were around
at 371 km/h (229 mph). At Kentucky
before the automobile, in machine and tool
Speedway, she became the youngest per-
companies. Women receive more recogni-
son to capture the pole and set a new track
tion for accomplishments lately, but still not
record. She was leading the race for several
enough by a long way.
laps and won third-place.
Female technicians, engineers, racing driv-
Danica Patrick is another promising driver,
ers, automotive retailers, designers
being coached by none other than Bobby
and corporate managers are everywhere.
[written in March 2004]
Based on her results from last year in a
Golf-based ‘dune-buggy’ and the recent
(January 2004) success in a VW Touareg,
she could well beat the world’s best cars
and drivers again.
Exemplary women, who made it all the way
to the summit of automobildom, include Di-
ane Kaye at Delphi Corporation, (the world’s
second largest automotive electronics firm);
Bobbie Andrea Gaunt, Ford of Canada
Vanina Ickx, Audi, & Susie Stoddart, Mercedes, driving in the
President and CEO; Jean Jennings, the Edi-
DTM, Europe’s NASCAR equivalent DTM photo
tor in Chief of Automobile magazine and
Josephine S. (Jo) Cooper, president and
Women racing-drivers have always been
chief executive officer of the Alliance of Au-
around. In his memoirs, Alfred Neubauer,
Mercedes’ famous racing-team manager of
the 1930s, praised the exploits of a compet-
We should be especially proud of Canadian-
ing team’s driver this way: ”This the world
born Cynthia Trudell, a chemical engineer,
has never seen before. This courageous
and head of GM’s Saturn division. Maureen
lady, Elisabeth Juneck, overtook all men at
Kempston-Darkes, born near Toronto, not
the 1928 Targa Florio long distance race:
only was General Manager and President of
Alberto Divo, Giuseppe Campari, Tazio Nu-
General Motors of Canada, she now is
volari and some other reputed drivers.”
President of GM Latin America, Africa and
Mid-East, and a member of the General Mo-
She passed Nuvolari! Cars are named after
tors Automotive Strategy Board. She re-
him today. But who remembers Juneck?
ceived The Order of Ontario and was ap-
pointed as an Officer of the Order of Cana-
Women who now work on, or design, cars
da in 2000.
that compete for a parking spot downtown,
instead of a spot on a grid, look up to Ann
Let’s woo more wonderful women to our
Ansensio. She is “Executive Director of De-
world of wheels.
sign, Interior Design, Quality and Brand
Character” at General Motors. She also su-
pervises car and truck and concept vehicle
[Soon after this article was published in April
2004, more news about women in the auto
industry came to the fore.
One young woman, who develops AND
By 2011 so many mentions appear in the
races what she designs, is Jutta Klein-
news, it is no longer ‘News’; Books can be
schmidt. This physicist-engineer got the
written about the women who have an effect
‘racing-bug’ when working at BMW. She en-
on the world of wheels.]
tered long distance rallies with a ‘Beemer-
bike’, later switching to cars. She won the
Let me add a few “news items” that I col-
extreme Paris to Dakar rally in 2001. At
lected at that time:
Volkswagen she now improves the highly
acclaimed Touareg SUV into a winning per-
Mary Ann Wright, who served as chief engi-
former, aiming to top the two-week, ten-
neer for the Escape HEV, Ford’s first hybrid,
thousand kilometer African desert-rally in a
will assume a new post as director of the
special Race-Touareg next year.
new Ford Sustainable Mobility Technologies
and Hybrid Vehicle Programs group;
Tracy L. Mack-Askew, a designing engineer
in General Motors North America Product
Development, has been selected as one of
the "Women of Color Rising Stars of Tech-
nology" for 2004 by the editors of Women of
Color Conference magazine.
“Mack-Askew was honored at ceremonies
during the 9th Annual National Women of
Color Technology Awards Conference on
October 28 in Atlanta, GA. Honorees are
minority women under age 30 who are out-
standing performers and are helping to
shape technology for the future. This is the
second award for Mack-Askew, who in 2003
earned the recognition of National Modern
Day Technology Leader as part of the Black
Engineer of the Year awards,
Commenting on her engineering achieve-
ments, Mack-Askew said, "Through diligent
effort and faith, there is no limit to what you
Chrystal L Windham, Design Director, GM, 2008
An all-female group of Volvo engineers and
Currently, Mack-Askew is a GM designing
designers displayed their idea of a ‘car for
engineer -Exteriors, Materials and Fas-
women’ at numerous 2004 automobile
tening in the Bumpers, Fascia, Grille and
shows around the world.
Wheel Liners Group. She is responsible for
the design and release of components for a
The list is getting too long to keep track of
2006 GM sport utility vehicle.
women’s achievements in the auto-world
Among other career accomplishments,
HYDROGEN TRANSPORTATION Vice
Mack-Askew planned and executed the seat
President, Environmental and Safety Engi-
development rides in the Chevrolet SSR;
neering, Ford Motor Company: Sue Cisch-
demonstrated effective problem solving as a
"Red X Journeyperson;" developed and
maintained the Structures, Durability and
An aside: One determined young woman I
Dynamic Applications group web site; and
know, plans to have her own shop some
authored the Quasi-Static Durability of
day; she took auto shop in our local high
Mounted Components procedure.
school, and did co-op at the small town’s
auto parts store. She now wants to enter the
Mack-Askew began her GM career in Janu-
military for a thorough education in the au-
ary 1999 as a college graduate in training.
tomotive trades and save up to open her
She earned a Bachelor of Science in Me-
business. Smart thinking!
chanical Engineering from Rensselaer Poly-
technic Institute and completed the Master
There is more:
of Science in Engineering program at Pur-
“GM Engineer Named Rising Star of Tech-
due University in December 2004.
nology by Women of Color Conference
Magazine” Dec. 2004:
Report on January 19, 2005:
trim for the same car. The YCC was pre-
“The DaimlerChrysler Board of Manage-
sented at the Geneva Motor Show in 2004.
ment today announces the appointment of
“I wanted to show that function can be
Karenann Terrell as Vice President. Terrell,
beautiful. You should not be forced to
previously Director - Managed Services &
choose between a practical and a beautiful
International Process Systems, has been
car. The YCC is the best of both worlds”,
appointed Vice President and CIO Chrysler
says Anna Rosén.
Group and Mercedes-Benz North America
effective January 1, 2005. She reports to
“The YCC made the news not least because
Susan J. Unger, Senior Vice President and
men were excluded from development of
CIO, DaimlerChrysler AG.
the vehicle in an attempt to emphasize Vol-
vo's commitment to the needs of its female
Many of Terrell's responsibilities were previ-
customers. The result was an attractive ve-
ously held by Richard Earle, Director - ITM
hicle with some novel features such as gull-
Chrysler Vehicle and Mercedes-Benz North
wing doors that revealed a disparity be-
America, who has retired. Terrell also had
tween the intention of a 'practical' car and
served as Director, eConnect Platform,
the reality of an attention-seeking show car.
where she oversaw all e-Business activities
The YCC also incorporated features such
for the product and consumer side of the
as changeable upholstery and folding rear
The list goes on with ‘Swedish magazine
“I wanted the interior to have more of a liv-
names favorite designers’: Volvo's car de-
ing room feeling than a cockpit. And to have
signers Anna Rosén and Maria Uggla have
a Scandinavian touch with light and honest
been named women of the year by the
materials like bleached laminated oak and
Swedish magazine 'Damernas värld'.
brushed aluminium”, explains Maria Uggla.
You will be aware by now of the fact that the
“We are so proud of this and see it as a
automobile industry, and all that surrounds
recognition that Volvo is on the right track in
it, is not a male managed industry.
listening to what women want in their cars”.
Anna Rosén was the exterior designer for
Regardless of how many computers design,
the 'Your Concept Car', or YCC, and Maria
how many robots build, how many GPS di-
Uggla was responsible for the colour and
rect automobiles — Human Beings are be-
hind and in front of anything that happens.
Danica Patrick at 2008 Indy 500 Pole Day
From four-legged horsepower to V8 horsepower
"Chrysler, Olds, Chevrolet - the men, not
Oshawa Carriage Works later became bet-
the cars - were his buddies," wrote author
ter known as McLaughlin Carriage.
Heather Robertson in her book about Rob-
ert Samuel McLaughlin.
Young Samuel was exposed to all this from
early on. At age 16 he started working for
Samuel’s grandfather John had come from
his father's company. As an apprentice up-
Ireland. His son Robert moved to Darlington
holsterer he was paid $3 a week, from
Township (now familiar thru the Darlington
which father Robert deducted $2.50 for
nuclear power station). He enjoyed wood-
room and board. As a journeyman, he
working, and created new handles for his
worked his way up to $6 a week.
tools when he needed them for his farm
Sam liked creating upholstery better than
constructing carriage bodies, but he devel-
As any tradesperson will tell you, they
oped a flair for devising different body types.
choose a tool by its feel. Robert McLaugh-
lin’s neighbors felt the difference in his axe
Putting his knowledge, skill and talent into
handles, and they asked him to make the
this, he helped expand the production to
same for them. From axe handles the
include more than 140 different wagons and
woodwork progressed to sleighs, then to
buggies, and after a few years it became a
The business boomed and became the big-
gest sleigh and buggy business in the Brit-
Robert Samuel, (they called him Sam), was
ish Empire. At the beginning of the 20th cen-
born in 1871 in Enniskillen, a two-hour trip
tury the McLaughlin family firm produced
by horse and buggy north of the Port of
25,000 horse-drawn buggies and sleighs
Oshawa on Lake Ontario.
By that time, McLaughlin’s carriages were in
Horse-less carriages showed up here and
demand by the growing Ontario population.
there at about this time. The company’s
To expand, and to have better access to
bookkeeper, Oliver Hezzlewood, had
markets further afield, the carriage works
bought an open Ford. He asked Sam to fit a
relocated to Oshawa in 1877, from where
rainy-ride-protection to his auto-buggy. A
carts and coaches could be shipped by rail-
firmly fitting cover with four holes kept the
passengers’ bodies dry in a downpour, but
not their heads; windshields and roofs were
options in those days.
A grateful Hezzlewood let Sam take his
Ford for a drive; That day in 1904 changed
Canadian history. "I think it ran on one cyl-
inder and was chain driven," Sam McLaugh-
lin told Maclean's Magazine in 1954. "It had
no doors, top or windshield. From then on I
had a new kind of wheel in my head: motor-
Beautifully restored Doctors Buggy; Photo by M. B.
Sam inspected and investigated a number
and he sold off the Carriage Works. Auto-
of the new-fangled vehicles, but father Rob-
mobile production continued under ‘General
ert still considered them a passing fad.
Motors Canada’, with Sam as major share-
holder and president until 1945. When civil-
It took some time to convince their father,
ian car production resumed after the war,
but by 1907 Sam and his brother George
the McLaughlin name was dropped from
had persuaded Robert of the ‘new reality’;
Buicks, but Sam remained chairman of
the McLaughlin Motor Car Company Limited
General Motors Canada till 1967 and hon-
was incorporated in Oshawa, Sam becom-
orary chair until he died at one hundred
ing its president.
years of age in 1972.
He contacted Bill Durant, a partner in the
The rest, as they say, is history.
Buick Motor Company. Durant came to
Oshawa and the two wrote a three-page
History’s lesser known facts are that Samu-
agreement, whereby Buick would supply the
el McLaughlin was extremely proud to be
engine, chassis and running gear; The
appointed Honorary Colonel of the Oshawa
McLaughlins would use the longtime exper-
based 11th Ontario Regiment in 1921, to be-
tise of the Carriage Works to build the bod-
come known as ‘Colonel Sam’ during his life
ies and interior. While the Detroit-made
Buick was a plain vehicle, Oshawa offered
various more elaborate models.
When General Motors needed a new head
office in 1989, it was constructed near the
old Port of Oshawa, in easy viewing dis-
tance from Highway 401. The road leading
to it was named ‘Colonel Sam Drive’, a fit-
ting tribute to the person who gave many
millions through his foundation to institutions
all across Ontario.
The first year’s production of 154 McLaugh-
lin ‘Model F’ in 1908 sold quickly; the com-
pany name was changed to McLaughlin-
Buick in 1909.
Car photos courtesy of General Motors: The first (restored)
1908 Model F McLaughlin-Buick and one of the last, a mili-
In the meantime, Durant had become head
tary version 1938 McLaughlin-Buick.
of the Buick & Oldsmobile alliance under the
name ‘General Motors’. By 1915 Chevrolet
The Model F was on display at the General
had been added. Durant wanted to expand
Motors Canada headquarters in Oshawa,
the Chevy brand to Canada and asked
Ontario, for years, before going to the Ca-
McLaughlin to add them to their production.
nadian Automotive Museum in Oshawa.
While still in the restoration shop, I was giv-By about this time, father Robert was con-
en a special ‘once over’ by World Champion
vinced that the ‘new fad’ was here to stay,
Restorer Harry Sherry.
Colonel Sam McLaughlin enjoys a leisurely smoke of his pipe
From the Oshawa Public Library Local History Collection
Opening up new areas of thought, research, and development
When thinking of ‘Pioneer’, we mostly think
compact four-seater with the existing, fuel
of Daimler, Benz, Ford and their contempo-
efficient ‘Minor’ engine.
raries as automotive pioneers. But as the
definition states, anyone can be a ‘modern
Alec Issigonis’ ingenious new concept was
reputedly sketched on a tablecloth. The
draftsmen then interpreted the sketches into
Alec Issigonis was one such innovative per-
manufacturing drawings - with a great deal
son. Few know his name, but everyone
of explaining from the creative mind, no
knows the product of his thought, research
and development: the Mini.
The radical, inspired design of the Mini had
Alec’s early life was complex; his father, a
the engine mounted sideways – imagine
British subject had married a Bavarian
that - under the English ‘bonnet’, and the
woman, and they worked in the port city of
transmission was built-in under the engine,
Smyrna in Greece as merchants. Political
saving even more space.
unrest is nothing new; the family was ex-
pelled from their town, which is now the
When the engine drives the front wheels,
Turkish city of Izmir. In 1922 Alec’s father
the transmission and drive-shaft tunnel, the
died and a year later his mother decided to
hump along the centre of a car, can be elim-
move to England with 16 year old Alec, ra-
inated. That makes it possible to make a car
ther than return to her father’s brewery in
shorter, narrower and therefore lighter than
a car with rear wheel drive.
Technology ran deep in the family, Alec’s
This ‘Mini’ concept was a natural for front
father and grandfather had been engineers;
wheel drive, and almost every front wheel
A surprise that he also studied engineering?
drive (FWD) car produced since that time
has the engine mounted laterally instead of
Besides, Alec’s great-nephew, Bernd
longitudinally. The new term is east-west,
Pischetsrieder, would later become an emi-
instead of north-south.
nent engineer at BMW and VW.
Placing the engine sideways allowed 80%
Alec started work as an engineer and de-
of the Mini’s floor space to be used as the
signer at Humber, not Hummer, a quality
passenger compartment, including some
automobile firm. In the early 1940s he
trunk space in the ’boot’.
changed to Morris and worked on the de-
sign of the Morris Minor, which was suc-
BTW: a nearby [Ontario] automobile club
cessfully produced until 1971.
catering to British makes is called the Boot
‘n Bonnet Club.
Morris merged with Austin in 1952 to be-
come British Motors Corporation (BMC).
The Mini’s independent suspension on all
Issigonis and his design team – consisting
four wheels was just as ingenious as it was
of two other engineers, four draftsmen and
simple: rubber cones would be squeezed
two engineering students– were given the
into a funnel-like housing, instead of having
task of designing a car to compete with the
increasing imports of German and Italian
‘bubble cars”. The new car had to be a
With the power of only 55 tiny horses, Issi-
gonis’ revolutionary little car did not win any
drag races, but the Mini’s handling could be
In 1969 Issigonis was knighted for his ac-
compared to that of a go-kart.
complishments in engineering in the British
Motor Industry. In 1971 Sir Alec retired from
John Cooper, a racecar and engine wizard,
British Leyland, the umbrella company of
modified the 900cc BMC engine for addi-
BMC since 1968. One of the great engi-
tional horse-power, and the Mini-Cooper
neers of the 20the century, Sir Alec Issigo-
won the famous Monte Carlo Rally three
nis passed away in 1988 at age 81.
times, thanks to its amazing handling.
He did not experience the gratification and
honor of seeing his work revived as the New
Mini. In a strange twist of fate, it was his
grand-nephew, Bernd Pischetsrieder, who
was responsible for continuing the legend.
As CEO of BMW, who at this time owned
the British make, he promoted the retro-
styled, much larger New Mini and included
John Cooper’s son in developing optional
The “Big Mini” is the envy of many carmak-
ers because of its popularity. Performance,
great handling, and modern safety features
make it a desirable car for dedicated driv-
The Mini went on to become one of the best
selling cars in Europe, Canada, and other
As Alec Issigonis once said, “It is much eas-
countries, and it was produced until 1990.
ier to drive without having an accident”.
After the success of the Mini, Alec Issigonis
developed a larger version, the Austin /
Morris 1100. It had a more refined suspen-
sion, being hydraulic, but still very simple in
principle. An Austin 1800 followed later, a
car I truly enjoyed driving. It had the same
engine as the famous MG sportscar.
Left, top to bottom: Mini proto-type; Copy of original
concept sketch; Minis at Issigonis centenary rally;
Centre: Sir Alec at British Leyland.
Right, top to bottom: Cut-away of early Mini; Mini and
New Mini at outdoor car show; New Mini convertible.
Photos from BMC, Mini Club NA & BMW /Mini.
Fighting words from the Mustang Maverick’s Mouth
Lee Iacocca is livid: “Had Enough? Am I the
Iacocca has never been one to hold back; In
only guy in this country who’s fed up with
May of 2007 Simon & Schuster published
what’s happening? Where the hel is our
Lee Iacocca’s latest book,” Where Have Al
outrage? We should be screaming bloody
the Leaders Gone?” That angry quote
murder. We’ve got a gang of clueless bozos
above is from this book; — here is more …
steering our ship of state right over a cliff,
we’ve got corporate gangsters stealing us
He is not shy to stir thing up in politics, but
blind, and we can’t even clean up after a
when it comes to the auto industry, he is
hurricane [Catrina] much less build a hybrid
quite mellow: When I sent him a parody po-
car. But instead of getting mad, everyone
em about his life’s work for approval some
sits around and nods their heads when the
years ago, he asked me not to publish it;
politicians say, “Stay the course.” Stay the
“Don’t want to stir up trouble again”. — He
course? You’ve got to be kidding. This is
sure did that now with his book!
America, not the damned Titanic. I’l give
you a sound bite: Throw the bums out! You
[Perhaps, that doggerel will make it onto
might think I’m getting senile, that I’ve gone
one of the next books…]
off my rocker, and maybe I have. But some-
one has to speak up. I hardly recognize this
Iacocca had started at Ford as an engineer,
country anymore. The President of the Unit-
later he changed to sales. He had also tak-
ed States is given a free pass to ignore the
en a semester each in psychology, in poli-
Constitution, tap our phones, and lead us to
tics and in plastics (industrial chemistry).
war on a pack of lies. Congress responds to
After spurring many innovations, he was
record deficits by passing a huge tax cut for
moved to product development. His Mus-
the wealthy (thanks, but I don’t need it). The
tang started the “pony-car and horsepower
most famous business leaders are not the
war” and advanced him to president of Ford
innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While
in 1964 at age 40, until …
we’re fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is
burning and nobody seems to know what to
I forgot what it was – perhaps the heresy of
do. And the press is waving pom-poms in-
front wheel drive?- that got this Maverick
stead of asking hard questions. That’s not
fired by Henry Ford II after fourteen years
the promise of America my parents and
as president, in a year with two billion dol-
yours traveled across the ocean for.”
lars profit in 1978; I read his biography too
many years ago to remember the reason.
Chrysler was at the brink of bankruptcy at
that time. The oil crisis of 1973 had passed,
but Chrysler was still producing large, fuel-
thirsty cars. Chrysler knew that Iacocca
would be the right leader at this time, and
he took the top job for one dollar ($1.00) –
for the whole year; he had made his first
million by age 25.
Iacocca obviously remembered that some
great American cars did have front wheel
drive a long time ago - the famous Cord and
Lee Iacocca with 1964 Mustang, from Mustang Monthly
He had already proposed small, front-
Iacocca Foundation for research into diabe-
wheel-drive cars at Ford, and now at Chrys-
tes, the disease to which his wife Mary suc-
ler, he was able to quickly develop the Omni
cumbed after a lifelong struggle.
and Horizon. To mass-produce these, would
take a lot of money, which Chrysler did not
Giving free reign to his frustration with the
have. Iacocca was able to convince the U.S.
auto industry’s present situation and the
Congress to guaranty the necessary 1.5
Presidential situation in the USA, Iacocca
billion dollar loan.
added a website in December 2007. Its
soaring health care cost is cited as just one
The FWD K-cars became an instant suc-
reason why the United States of America
cess, selling more than 300,000 in their fist
lags behind the rest of the world in develop-
year. Next, Chrysler led the world with the
ing alternative energy sources and vehicles
‘Mini-van’, and they still do so in 2008. “If
for sustainable transportation.
you can find a better car, buy it", Iacocca
told customers in his TV commercials.
As Lee Iacocca has proven throughout all of
his life, leadership takes what he calls the
Chrysler re-paid the bank loan seven years
Nine Cs: curiosity, creativity, communica-earlier than required. “We at Chrysler bor-
tion, character, courage, conviction, charis-
row money the old fashion way. We pay it
ma, competence, and common sense.
back, ” Iacocca boasted.
No matter how advanced Chrysler’s styling,
In 1987 Chrysler bought the profitable Jeep
from ‘Airstream’ before World War II to ‘cab-
division together with the ailing American
forward’ of late, no matter how ‘state of the
Motors Corporation. When the Grand Cher-
art’ the technology, something did not
okee was introduced in 1992, Iacocca re-
“click”. The rest is recent history, stil all too
tired, and many Americans urged him to run
for President. He was also offered a seat in
the U.S. Senate, but declined.
Third time lucky? Let us hope so.
In his own words, Lee flunked retirement
Imagine what could have been possible dur-
and in 1999 became head of EV Global Mo-
ing an Iacocca Presidency in the USA.
tors Co. Most of his time is now taken by the
In Detroit they called him Maximum Bob, in Europe Mr. Horsepower
Bob Lutz is in the news frequently. They call
At one time, long ago, GM had a market
him the ‘car czar’ of General Motors. His
share of more than 60% in North America;
official title is Vice Chairman, global product
in 2007, that chunk of car and light truck
development. He is one of the few, perhaps sales had plummeted to less than 25%. The
the only, executive with experience in Eu-
so-called Imports have taken sales away
rope and America with General Motors,
from the ‘big guys’ because they “built a bet-
Ford and Chrysler.
Lutz is not a designer, nor an engineer, but
It has taken decades for the powers that be,
he has an uncanny sense of style and fea-
of the world’s once largest automaker, to
tures customers want in “next year’s” car.
realize that “you can’t change what you
don’t acknowledge”. (Dr. Phil) The ’General’
After earning a degree in production man-
had killed the electric car, dismissed hybrids
agement, Lutz worked at General Motors in
as a fad, ignored Diesel engines and other
Europe for 9 years, working his way up
technologies, eliminated the Oldsmobile
through the ranks during the 1960s. He
brand but continued to push ‘have-been’
added an MBA to his credentials, and
cars onto the market with ever increasing
worked for three years at BMW, where he
was involved in creating the 3-series.
Gas-guzzlers are going the way of the Dodo
Expanding his experience and versatility, he
bird. Pundits persist that General Motors’
changed to Ford in 1974, where he ad-
breakdown was due to marketing having
vanced to Chairman of Ford Europe in the
priority over product. Lackluster design,
early 1980s. In 1986 he went to work at
shoddy workmanship, and antiquated tech-
Chrysler, first in product development, again
nology took their toll on sales numbers.
ending up as president, CEO and then Vice
It takes uncommon design and clever tech-
nology to get away from decades-old types
of automobiles, and it takes a different way
of doing business in the changing market of
the ‘global vil age’.
Bob Lutz, the most all-round experienced car guy and executive with a lifetime of experience on two continents, was available.
He had explored new directions with Chrys-
ler’s cab-forward designs. He had brought
to market ‘halo cars’, the Dodge Viper exotic
sportscar and the modernized hotrod Plym-
outh Prowler, and he had a successful retro
car in the PT Cruiser. And he has an eye for
good design and he knows a thing or two
When Daimler and Chrysler joined in 1998, Lutz “retired”, to
about production management; the right
become CEO of Exide Batteries. He also “flunked retire-
person at a critical time to initiate a turn-
ment” again when General Motors persuaded him to join
their ranks in 2001, to change the way they develop new
vehicles. He joined GM again in 2011 as an advisor.
After Lutz joined General Motors, investors
public becomes familiar with new technolo-
in the stock market responded by increasing
General Motors’s share prices; autoworkers
reacted by sensing that quality products, not
And now everyone is expecting the amazing
marketing, now had priority.
new plug-in hybrid, his latest project, the
Chevy Volt, just waiting for the right Lithium-
One analyst explained it this way: “Under
the old regime designers, engineers and
product development people were relegated
to second-class citizens behind those sell-
ing the goods. The rational left-brained en-
gineers and planners would develop the
chassis, engine and transmission and mar-
keting would have its say. Only then would
the more creative right-brained designers be
called in to fit a skin on the outside - so late
in the process that the result was usually a
mediocre car that turned customers away”.
“But recently, the right brain has been in
from the start, thanks to Bob Lutz, and the
results are beginning to show”.
As we know, it takes up to seven years to
develop a new model, so it is just recently
Introducing the built-in-Canada cross-over Equinox fuel-cell
that results of “the Lutz effect” are hitting the
roads. Crossovers like the Saturn Aura, the
redesigned Chevy Malibu, sportscars like
Keep charging ahead, Bob Lutz!
the Saturn Sky and Pontiac Solstice are get-
ting great reviews and start to catch on with
About one year later - another slightly
edited article about Bob Lutz:
Since Bob Lutz has been at General Mo-
Born in Switzerland, he is the only top ex-
tors, he exported the Holden Monaro to the
ecutive who worked in that capacity (in al-
United States as the Pontiac GTO. Concept
phabetical order) at BMW, Chrysler, Ford
cars such as the Cadillac Sixteen or the
and General Motors, in Europe and in North
Holden Efijy (previous article) show-cars are
America. At Chrysler he was the driving
said to be his initiatives.
force behind the V10 Dodge Viper. At the
age when most people retire, he was per-
“The old way at GM was to have meetings
suaded to become CEO of Exide Technolo-
with written reports, graphs and spread-
gies, the battery maker. After he “retired”
sheets, and then the bean counters and
from that position, General Motors coaxed
marketing types would do their studies.
him into revamping its model line-up as vice
Analysis creates paralysis; now, if it looks
chairman of global product development.
right, we do it", Lutz said.
You may know by now that we are talking
It looks right to have customers test-drive
about Robert A Lutz, “Maximum Bob” as he
the first 100 fuel cell Equinox SUVs; they
is known in Detroit these days. He has
are tested under actual conditions and the
started to influence the new cars coming
from ‘The General’. The beautiful Pontiac
Solstice and Saturn Sky sportscars were
He said: "Well, whether we need it or not, I
some of the early models designed and
think it's reasonable that when the federal
produced under his leadership. The amaz-
government steps in with taxpayer money,
ing, one-thousand horse-power V16 Cadil-
they're not going to -- they're not going to
lac, that could have topped Rolls Royce,
lend us the money and just say, 'Do the
has become a victim of the times. The world
best you can with it and tell us when you
now awaits the Volt, the extended-range
need more’ ”.
electric car that everybody knows before
anybody has seen it.
“This is now what I’m more excited about
than I was about the Dodge Viper,” Mr. Lutz
said in early 2008. “I think this can bring
about the revolution and really make us in-
dependent of foreign oil and solve all the
The one problem Bob Lutz did not consider
is the financial and credit meltdown [in
2008]. We hear every hour on the hour how
Bob Lutz and General Motors CEO & Chairman Rick Wag-
deep we are in trouble, and how much
oner showing the Volt at the 2007 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit
money the auto industry needs to convert
for the time “After Oil”.
Bob Lutz has never been shy to tell his su-
periors “You are wrong!” The reporter want-
Bob Lutz, the wise old man of the auto in-
ed to know an example; “GM president Cole
dustry, the “Car Czar”, as they now refer to
was annoyed that we used a 1.9Litre engine
him, might soon have a “name-sake”, a po-
in the (German) Opel GT in 1965. “ That car
litically appointed car-czar. (can’t they come
needs a ‘Vette engine.” “But here we are
up with their own description?) Does the
taxed on engine capacity”. Cole’s reply:
government really think it can tell Detroit
“How long have you been in this industry?
how to build cars? When his ‘house of
Perhaps you should listen to people who
cards’ started to collapse, people began
have 30 years of experience.” —The Opel
loosing their houses; when greed tripled pe-
GT was a big success in North America
troleum prices, people curtailed driving —
even with that small an engine.
and now Detroit gets the blame.
We hope that ‘Maximum Bob’ Lutz can give The two ‘car czars’ are now counted on to
the world more cars we can afford and en-
‘deliver us from evil’; “Maximum Bob” Lutz,
joy to drive.
as Vice Chairman, is staking General Mo-
tors’ future on the Volt and other alternative
and flex-fuel vehicles.
A reporter asked him why he did not take
that’s why I have to go to work every day,”
the day off on his 77th birthday; “I was able
he answered. More questions: “Tell me,
to drive a few proto-types on our test track,
what really prompts you at your age to go to
that’s even better than having a party; I also
work each and every day?” “The knowledge
have an expensive hobby, — flying, —
that my work is changing this company for
the better. I’m not a designer nor an engi-
your carrier?” “I think I’m the only person to
neer, but I can influence the way our people
have won several “Car of the Year” awards
do their job. I even love to talk to journalists;
in Europe and in the USA; and a “Truck of
I must admit I have a little bit of a teacher in
the Year” as well as “Motorcycle of the
me, but hopefully nothing of a politician.”
Year”. (The Ford ‘Cargo’, the BMW ‘R90S’
“How long do you plan to continue work-
motorbike and cars from General Motors,
ing?” “I plan to stay until my work shows
Ford and Chrysler were developed and pro-
itself in GM’s products, and that includes the
duced under Lutz’s leadership.)
Volt.” “What were some of the highlights in
Bob Lutz introducing the Volt concept at an auto show …..
…. the production version always turns out a little different ….
Canadians’ contribution to automotive progress
Canadians are no longer ‘hewers of wood
In August of 2008, Geoffrey Ballard passed and drawers of water’, Statistics Canada
away, after proving to the world in Vancou-
assured us in the Economic Observer of
ver that zero-pollution transportation is with-
October 2007 — that we have progressed
in our grasp. For his accomplishments he
to ‘conveyors of crude and moilers of met-
was honoured with the “Order of Canada”;
als’, according to Magic Statistics. With
He is considered the ‘Father of the Fuel Cell
great foresight Canadian writer William
Industry’. Ballard was of the opinion that
Robertson Davies noted many years ago
governments would have to adopt fuel cell
that “I accept no responsibility for statistics,
technology and establish vehicle test fleets
which are a form of magic beyond my com-
before they could be mass-produced; he
also was ahead of the times.
Officialdom is always slow to credit ingen-
ious Canadians with the praise and recognition they deserve. The disregard for excel-
lence already started in 1902. It must be
true what they say about us: Canadians do
not seek the limelight.
Almost unknown and forgotten is the first
automotive ‘design engineer’, Wilbur Orton
Orville Thomas. He incorporated several
patented features into an auto-buggy as-
sembled by a Bobcaygeon wagon-smith,
who named it WOOT after the inventor’s
initials. Only four were assembled over a
three year period; one still exists in good
condition. Historians still argue the fact that
the WOOT was the first Canadian auto-
mobile. Perhaps, this horse-less carriage
was ahead of its time, overwhelmed by the
mass-produced McLaughlin carriages from
another great Canadian.
Countless other forgotten automotive pio-
neers of that time could fill several history
books; unbelievably, facts and details of a
time so relatively recent are remarkably
Photo: Ballard Power Systems
hard to gather.
At present, several other Canadians are
In living memory are a good number of Ca-
proving to the world that talent does grow
nadians inventors and creators who have
well in a colder climate. We have no auto
made their mark on the automotive industry:
companies of our own, but our people can
John Gower-Rempel dreamed of and creat-
stil be leaders in the car industry: Aurora’s
ed the first all-terrain vehicle (ATV) which Frank Stronach and Magna International
also carried his initials, the JiGeR; The am-
might have been a better partner for Chrys-
phibious six-wheelers live on under the
ler than Cerberus turned out to be. Tom
Lasorda, Windsor born, was at the top of
the beleaguered Detroit company while a
One new design school of about twenty,
part of Daimler, and he is still its CEO, but
world-wide, is Toronto’s Humber College,
he can do only so much with so little.
where industrial design students learn their
art and craft with the help of a Canadian-
Simon Lamarre, born near Montreal, is one developed hi-tech tool: AliasStudio 3D digi-of Canada’s best known creative stylists,
tal imaging software, used by most carmak-
and he is the chief designer of Volvo in
ers, takes any product from an idea to pro-
Sweden, responsible for the all-new C30.
duction-ready perfection. It was also used in
Bi-lingual, he now lives in Sweden, but he
producing blockbuster animated films such
can also converse with colleagues in Italian,
German and Spanish. Standing-in like other
heads of design, his guest-lectures inspire
The yearly Toronto auto show features a
industrial design students.
design competition, where one of Humber
College’s students, Matthew Finbow, won
Ralph Gilles, who also grew up in Montreal, third prize among 61 students from 18 deis Chrysler’s and Jeep’s vice president of
sign schools in 11 countries.
design while still in his 30s. He led the team
that developed the Chrysler 300 /Dodge
Even before entering college, Ben Gulak of Charger.
Milton has developed a distinctive self-
balancing electric uni-motorcycle, the Uno,
When designers reach this level in their ca-and has formed a company after receiving a
reer they feel compelled to pass on their
$1.25 million investment. Very wise to con-
knowledge and experience to students in
tinue his education, Ben accepted a schol-
this field by instructing and encouraging
arship from the famous MIT engineering
students to push the boundaries of design
while still at school to make their mark —
before getting into the rut of daily life in the
But not only in design and engineering does
Canada supply the world with top talent, but
also in management: Sergio Marchionne is
Many of these young stylists are now doing
the CEO of the Fiat Group, while Karl
just that during internships at carmakers’
Schlicht heads Lexus of Europe.
design studios, and we will get to know their
talents and creations in time.
With so much Canadian talent —just
scratching the surface here— the auto in-
One up-and-coming designer at Ford in De-
dustry is in good hands.
troit got her early training in an all-girls auto-
shop class in Napanee, Ontario.
Note: You will find separate articles on Sam McLaughlin,
Sergio Marchionne and Frank Stronach in this or one of
the subsequent books.
Ralf Gilles & Dodge Ram
Simon Lamarre & Volvo
A tribute to women who drive fast and safely
“Women Drivers!” uneducated male chau-
her. This sensational happening was tele-
vinists used to utter long ago with a dis-
graphed from one town to the next: a wom-
missive gesture, when they saw a lady driv-
an arrived in a carriage without a horse —
er commit -what they perceived as- a driving
comparable to a UFO landing today.
error. Little did they know that, had it not
been for a woman driver, they might not be
Karl Benz had coaxed his crude contraption
operating the kind of vehicles we all know.
around a few blocks in Mannheim on trial
drives since the previous year and demon-
Early one August morning in 1888 Bertha
strated it to folks interested in horse-less
Benz cranked-up her husband’s new inven-
transportation, but before Bertha’s trip, no-
tion –a carriage with an engine- and rum-
one had purchased what is now considered
bled off. When Karl Benz awoke, he found a
the first practical automobile.
letter telling him that she and their two boys
were on their way to visit her mother in
After a short stay, Bertha returned to Man-
Pforzheim —97 km away! She obviously
heim by a different route to avoid mountain-
had helped Karl built the auto-buggy; she
ous terrain. She insisted that Karl install an
knew how every part functioned, and she
additional gear for easier hill climbing. Soon,
repaired it successfully after one brake-
people started to buy horse-less carriages:
down during the voyage.
the birth of the automobile industry.
When the new Austrian importer later
placed a large order for a newer model, he
wanted it named after his daughter. Since
that time, the girl’s name - Mercedes- has
graced Benz’ cars.
The carriageways Bertha traveled, have
been improved over time to carry today’s
traffic. Tourists visiting Germany’s Black
Forest region, near Heidelberg, can now
follow the signage of the Bertha Benz Me-
morial Route and relive part of history: 120
years after the fact Bertha Benz was hon-
oured for daring to make this first-ever auto
One famous woman driver, Clara Ford, re-
ceived an electric car as a birthday gift in
1908, when Henry was producing auto-
buggies with an internal combustion engine;
— many women drivers are again looking
When Bertha arrived at her mother’s home,
forward to driving ‘green’ electric or hybrid-
reporters from the local papers besieged
electric cars in the future.
Lynn St. James (seven time Indy-500 driver
in 1970s) and Sarah Fisher made history in
2000 –Lynn interrupting her retirement-
when they became the first two women to
line up together at the ‘Brick Yard’.
Danica Patrick is the fourth woman to com-
pete in the Indianapolis 500, following Janet
Guthrie, Lyn St. James and Sarah Fisher,
who switched to NASCAR. Leading the
2005 Indy 500 with four laps to go, Danica
was forced to slow in order to conserve fuel
and finish at all. In April 2008 Danica be-
came the first female winner in Indy-Car his-
tory, taking the chequered flag at the Indy-
Joining Patrick and Fisher in 2008, Milka
Duno of Venezuela became the fifth woman
to compete in the Indy 500.
Clara Ford - above portraits from archival photographs
Alfred Neubauer, Mercedes’ famous racing-
team manager, praised the exploits of an-
other ‘woman driver’ this way: “This the
world has never seen before. This coura-
geous lady, Elisabeth Juneck, overtook all
men at the 1928 Targa Florio long distance
race: Alberto Divo, Giuseppe Campari, Ta-
zio Nuvolari and some other reputed driv-
ers.” She passed the great Nuvolari!! He
Factory drivers Vanina Ickx (Audi) and Susie Stoddart (Mer-
raced the AutoUnion Silver Arrows, and Au-
di named a sportscar concept ‘Nuvolari’; but
Katherine Legge, Vanina Ickx (Audi) and
who remembers Juneck?
Susie Stoddart (Mercedes) are regular fac-
tory drivers in the current DTM, the Europe-
Shirley Muldowney, the ‘ First Lady of Drag
an equivalent of NASCAR. The first two,
Racing’ was the first female to drive a top
and others, have even competed in the gru-
fuel dragster. She won the NHRA Top Fuel
elling 24-Hours-of-Le-Mans; some “women
dragster championship in 1977, 1980 and
drivers”! Thousands of female drivers have
1982. In 2004, she was inducted into the
raced everywhere in all types of cars over
International Motorsports Hall of Fame. In
the decades; fourteen participated in NAS-
2008, ESPN ranked her 21st on their list of
CAR events, eight have raced in the Indy
top drivers of all-time, for winning major rac-
500, and four made it into Formula 1.
World famous celebrities in society and
males, well-known and unknown, have driv-
sport, or everyday heroes driving military or
en millions of miles without serious driving
civilian vehicles, women skilfully and safely
errors, navigation minivans across town or
operate vehicles from motorbikes and micro
eighteen-wheelers across the continent.
cars to ‘big rigs’.
A colleague from California informed me
that “We have a female graduate from our
school with perfect attendance and a 4.0
gpa land a tech job with Ferrari/Lamborghini
of Beverly Hills. She will be going to Italy for
training. So let the students know they can
set their own limits.”
Lisa McCulloch is an experienced, safety-
award winning school bus driver. She put a
promising career in education into low gear
And this just in from the 2011 24 Hours of
to raise a family. ‘Driving up’ the family in-
Le Mans: First female race engineer to win come she now finishes hundreds of ‘timed
the 24 Hours at Le Mans
runs’ each year. She does not stop driving -
as they do in oval-racing- when the weather
turns bad. On the road she eludes aggres-
sive male drivers and some who do not re-
spect a STOP sign. Like thousands of other
bus drivers, she takes monthly safety- and
first aid workshops to ensure the well-being
For our female newspaper readers — the
of children on their way to school and back
managing editor assures me that many read
home. Undergoing regular tests to prove her
and comment on these articles — here are
superior driving skills to the authorities is on
a few automotive websites geared to wom-
every bus driver’s schedule. Manoeuvring
en and girls:
under the motto “If you can’t do it safely,
don’t do it”, she has completed countless
‘500 mile’ runs successfully; Way to go, Li-
If all “men drivers” would heed this advice,
young males would not have to pay the high
insurance premiums they have to shell out
at present. As every family knows, ‘women
drivers’ are the safer ones of the two types
of motorists plying our highways and by-
ways. Since Bertha’s time, countless fe-
A ‘quarter midget’, one of Sarah’s early racing cars;
apparently she started racing at the age of five
Sarah Fisher during practice for the 2007 Indy 500 race.
She has been racing since age 5 with various teams and in different series and now operates her own racing team.
Building bridges between East and West
Henry Ford, Edouard and André Michelin,
As Premier, Mr. Wulff is on Volkswagen’s
Rudolph Diesel, Soichiro Honda, Colin
board of directors. In 1945 the Province
Chapman, Enzo Ferrari, Geoffrey Ballard;
loaned re-construction money to the
most everyone recognizes the names and
bombed-out company in exchange for job-
knows of the contributions these individuals
creation, much like the governments of the
have made to the world of automobiles. But
USA, Canada and Ontario Province are do-
who knows about Wan Gang?
ing in 2009. Volkswagen continues a mutu-
ally beneficial relationship with Lower-
Wan Gang was interested in math and sci-
Saxony as its second largest stake-holder.
ence already as a young boy during basic
education in his hometown Shanghai. Born
Coincidence or not, Dr Wan took a job at
in 1952, he went to work on a farm in Jilin
the research department of Volkswagen’s
Province at age 17, earning money for six
Audi brand in 1991. He advanced Audi’s
years to get ready for University, which he
“Advantage through Technology” as pro-
began in 1975. He graduated in mechanical
gram manager of its Technology Develop-
engineering in 1979 and continued to earn a
ment Department. In 1996 he was promoted
masters degree in experimental mechanics
to manage the R&D division, where he insti-
and structural theories at Tongji University
tuted advanced design, construction and
in 1981. To earn living expenses he taught
production methods. This earned him one
mathematics and mechanics at that well-
world-wide and two European patents. Dr
Wan is credited with the huge success the
new Audi A4 has become for the company.
Tongji was founded in 1907 as a medical
school by German Dr. Erich Paulun. Tech-
In the meantime Professor Wan continued
nical and other faculties were added over
to guest-lecture at Clausthal and at Tongji.
time, and the academic sectors of the two
countries enjoyed cultural and scientific co-
operation ever since –except for some diffi-
Wan went to Germany in 1985 as a visiting
scholar and PhD candidate at the Clausthal
U of Technology on a stipend, where he re-
ceived his ‘Dr. Ingenieur’ with high honors.
Being fluent in German and English, Dr.
Wan did research in advanced vehicle
drive-systems and computer applications for
five years, as well as teaching young PhD
candidates. His accomplishments and his
In 2000, Wan submitted a clean-energy
re-opening of friendship between the two
proposal to his State Council to leapfrog the
development of China’s automobile indus-
Christian Wulff of Lower-Saxony to award
try. The Ministry of Science & Technology
Dr. Wan the Provincial Order of Merit.
persuaded Wan to return home, where he
became assistant president of Tongji in
In April of 2009 Minister Wan and Stockwell
2002 and President two years later. Official-
Day, Canada’s Minister for International
dom also added the role of Chief R&D Sci-
Trade, agreed on a six–point initiative in en-
entist for the national electric vehicle project
ergy, science and technology. This is the
plus China’s Fuel Cell Auto Project to his
first round of Canada-China projects, an-workload. Not enough, Dr. Wan is also a
nounced in May 2008, involving 20 projects
Council Member for the China-US Center
worth more than $11 million. "Scientific re-
for Sustainable Development. A mere bu-
search plays a critical role in our economy,"
reaucrat would have been overwhelmed by
said Day; "By funding these important re-
all that, but after more than a decade of
search projects, we are preparing both
working in the fast-paced car industry that
Canada and China for tomorrow. These pro-
experience serves him well. He uses his
jects encourage the important partnership
connections to the advantage of both coun-
between universities and industry, and close
tries: In 2004, a cooperative memorandum
the distance between the laboratory and the
was signed between Tongji University and
marketplace," Stockwell Day added.
Volkswagen to integrate fuel cell, battery
and control systems for the development of
With Wan Gang China now has the ad-
a hydrogen-fuelled vehicle for China based vantage of having a person at the highest
on Volkswagen’s Touran electric car.
level of decision making, who has experi-
ence in academic and industrial R&D,
Wan Gang’s supreme accomplishment was
honed and proven in the tough world of au-
to become China’s Minister of Science &
tomotive competition. It is possible that Chi-
Technology in April 2007.
na will be the first country to implement the
infrastructure investments on the road to
Connections with Volkswagen were rein-
zero pollution road transport.
forced in a 2008 visit to Wolfsburg, resulting
in the sponsorship of a hydrogen and fuel
While all of the first-mentioned pioneers
cell lab at Tongji U, to accelerate production
have passed on, a new generation of mov-
of zero emission vehicles at Volkswagen’s
ers and shakers is expanding the potential
China factories, which employ 26,000 hard
working people, producing and selling one
million cars per year.
Perhaps we are learning that cooperation is
better than confrontation; that it is easier to
build the proverbial bridge instead of a dam.
A built-in-China Volkswagen, driven by Minister Wan Gang
A modern day automotive pioneer: a thinker, not a tinkerer
"I realized that energy was at the root of
Lovins had studied physics at Harvard and
many security, development and environ-
Oxford universities, but his interest in ener-
ment problems," said Amory Lovins.
gy usage and policy, combined with his
practical wisdom, compelled him to write
Doomsday prophet, socio-economic genius
about energy matters. In 1982 he founded
or automotive planner?
the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), an en-
ergy ‘Think Tank’, and developed the idea
Presented in 1976, Lovins’ Foreign Affairs
essay, "Energy Strategy: The Road Not
Taken" focused national attention on him.
While other environmentalists still argue
Still in his 20s, he argued during the oil cri-
about political approaches, Lovins has pro-
ses of the 1970s for a "soft energy path" of
duced facts and figures and encouraged
improving fuel efficiency by making cars
decision makers in Detroit, Tokyo, Turin and
lighter and developing alternative fuels.
Wolfsburg, and politicians in Ottawa and
Washington and other capitals, to consider
Naturally, the steel industry did not agree
his assumptions and calculations.
with his point of view, and petroleum people
paid attention to finding more oil – what Lov-
And all of them have listened to what Amory
ins calls the "hard energy path."
Lovins had to say.
1992 General Motors ‘Ultralite’ experimental vehicle
— a HYPER –car?
One of his books, ‘Winning the Oil End-
first, double the fuel efficiency of motor ve-
game’, details how we can become inde-
hicles, mainly through ultra-light vehicles
pendent from oil, how we leave the petrole-
with advanced materials such as carbon
um age behind us within a few decades:
fiber that improve both safety and perfor-
mance. "We no longer have to choose be-
Friend and colleague Kyle Datta, RMI’s
tween making cars light and safe," he said.
managing director, describes Lovins, a pia-
The next phase is to replace gasoline with
nist and mountain photographer, as a "re-
alternative fuels such as ethanol and hydro-
naissance man" and a "genius buddha." "He
is really modest and humble and truly open
to new ideas," Datta says.
Lovins explains that the transition to a post-
petroleum future will generate jobs, create
Lovins’ achievements include: CEO of RMI;
new industries, reduce greenhouse gases
He received an Oxford MA, nine honorary
and improve national security. He estimates
doctorates, a MacArthur Fellowship, the
that for the United States it will require an
Heinz, Lindbergh, Right Livelihood ("Alter-
investment of $180 billion over ten years,
native Nobel"), World Technology, and
and the result will bring savings of $70 bil-
TIME Hero for the Planet awards, the Hap-
lion per year by 2025. "The United States
pold Medal, and the Nissan, Shingo, Mitch-
can get completely off oil and revitalize its
ell, and Onassis Prizes. His work focuses
economy led by business for profit," predicts
on transforming the hydrocarbon automo-
bile, real estate, electricity, water, semicon-
ductor, and several other sectors toward
The auto-industry has started to build and
advanced resource productivity. He has
test cars after Lovins motto and model.
briefed eighteen heads of state, held sever-
Companies are investing billions of Dollars,
al visiting academic chairs, authored or co-
Yen and Euros into new types of drive sys-
authored twenty-nine books and hundreds
tems and the alternative fuels to power
of papers, and consulted for scores of in-
them. Vehicles with hybrid-electric engines,
dustries and governments worldwide. The
clean diesel engines using bio-fuels and
Wall Street Journal named Mr. Lovins one
hydrogen are being tested on roads around
of thirty-nine people worldwide "most likely
the world. Governments have started to
to change the course of business in the
promote, coordinate, regulate and fund re-
'90s"; Newsweek has praised him as "one of
search and development in industry and
the Western world's most influential energy
thinkers"; and Car magazine ranked him the
22nd most powerful person in the global
The design of a HyperCar includes improved aerodynamics,
light-weight construction and zero emission (electric) drive
How can one individual influence the world
more that could Henry Ford, Soichiro Honda
Volkswagen’s ‘One Liter’ experimental car of 1992 was Eu-
rope’s first HYPER
or Ferdinand Porsche?
-car; A much improve version will go into
limited production in 2012/13.
What kind of a person is Amory Lovins? He
Amory Lovins lives in a solar-powered
is a deep thinker, a long way ahead of our
house that is so energy efficient, he's able
to grow bananas in an indoor jungle high in
the Rocky Mountains. He drives a hybrid
“Investing in our students today wil ensure
electric vehicle, and he’l likely be one of the
the transformation of our energy future from
first to own a fuel-cell car; After all, he
one dependent on petroleum to one that
prompted the auto industry into the idea of
utilizes the most abundant element in the
the “Hypercar”, discussed here in a series of
universe — hydrogen”
[note: articles will follow]
“Any Hypercar's body is molded from ad-
Lovins calculates that North America could
vanced composites of carbon fiber; its light
stop importing oil by 2040 and run without
mass supersedes the need for a heavy en-
oil by 2050. Long before then, fuel-efficient
gine and can be efficiently propelled by an
cars and alternative fuels could become
electric motor combined with fuel cells. In
new growth industries for urban and rural
terms of safety, the materials and design of
Americans and Canadians.
the Hypercar can withstand crashes much
like the Indianapolis racecars, also made of
"We're in that period where one idea is dy-
carbon fiber: in case of a collision, the car's
ing and another is struggling to be born,"
shell shatters [crumple zone] to absorb the
affirms Amory Lovins.
force of the impact. By combining all these
features in a whole-system approach, these
revolutionary vehicles are multiple times
For serious observers of what is to come,
more fuel-efficient than comparable current
here are a few links to more information:
The gains in any vehicle designed to
Hypercar principles are based on a
blend of four considerations:
* low-drag design
* lightweight construction
* electric drive
* efficient accessories
an insider’s view of Lovins
‘Hypercar’ is not a new model, but an
39 interesting, but only in German language idea, a vision of the (almost) perfect ve-
hicle that comes in many different sizes,
“A Hypercar vehicle is designed to capture
shapes and materials; a vehicle that can
the synergies of: ultra-light construction;
be powered by different energy sources
low-drag design; hybrid-electric drive; and,
and which can be built anywhere by an-
efficient accessories to achieve 3 to 5–fold
yone with a minimum of instruction.
improvement in fuel economy, equal or bet-
ter performance, safety, amenity and af-
fordability, compared to today's vehicles.”
The Hypercar is viewed as the automo-
tive declaration of independence; inde-
pendence from imported oil, freedom
“Whole-system design means optimizing not
from greenhouse gas and other emis-
just parts, but the entire system — in this
sions, liberty to use modern materials
case the complete car, although for an extra
and power-plants and the autonomy to
challenge one could try to optimize the au-
produce suitable vehicles for sustaina-
tomotive industry and refueling infrastruc-
ble transportation at markets every-
ture at the same time, as the Hypercar.”
Leading the field at the Indy 500 in 2005 [and again in 2011]
“Hi boss”, she greeted David Letterman on
his TV show. She had almost won the INDY
and in 1964 applied to be an astronaut. Af-
500 in 2005. Yes, Danica Patrick, the 23-
ter leaving the aerospace industry, she went
year rookie was leading the pack with 10
racing full time in 1972. “Racing is so often
laps to go, when her pit crew radioed her to
perceived as a simple-minded activity, and I
slow down to conserve fuel. Better to finish
really wanted to convey the passion and
in the top ten, than to not finish at all. Dan-
complexity of the sport in a way that I didn’t
ica finished in fourth place.
think had been done before,” says Guthrie.
By explaining rules, cars, politics and per-
sonalities, she does this well in her book
‘ Janet Guthrie: A Life at Ful Throttle’
Lyn St. James, seven-time Indy 500 driver,
after Janet Guthri, stated: "The advance-
ment and promotion of women in the motor-
sports industry is critical, not just as compet-
itors - and top-level performers - but as en-
gineers, team managers, owners and in
other leadership positions. To reach this
goal, there must be more support, more en-
couragement, more research, more devel-
opment, and more awareness.”
Countless women, of course, have enjoyed
success in different forms of motorsport.
One well-known local businesswoman
raced at Mosport near Bowmanville. But we,
the public, only remember those at the pin-
nacle. Can YOU remember even five Indy
winners from the last ten years?
Janet Guthrie was the first woman to race in
the Indy 500. She graduated from the Uni-
versity of Michigan with a degree in physics,
could have been a rocket scientist but
Sarah Fisher lately brought increased atten-
chose to go racing instead. She worked for
tion to women at the top of car racing. She
Republic Aviation as an R&D engineer,
has the talent to control a car at 350-plus
km/h. What Sarah did not have was spon-
“She has the potential to be a big star in
sorship or the equipment. Forgotten was a
motor racing,” Rahal said. “I wouldn’t be
second-place finish at Miami in 2001, a pole
spending this amount of time and money if I
position at Kentucky in 2002 or the fact she
didn’t think she could make it big. She has
started the Indy 500 in 1999 as a 19-year-
the drive and determination to be competi-
old. Eventually, it was enough to drive her
tive in the highest levels in the future.”
out of open-wheel racing and the IRL. For-
tunately, NASCAR Nextel Cup owner Rich-
ard Childress remembered this and offered
Fisher a ride in a stock car. She loves to
race and we like to see her race, with or
Now the world marvels at Danica Patrick.
She started showing her talent when racing
go-karts at age 12. After dominating that
class and winning three national titles, she
moved to England from Illinois at the age of
16 and spent several years developing her
road racing skills, moving up through more
demanding classes of cars. Her results
caught the attention of former Indianapolis
500 winner Bobby, who co-owns Rahal-
Letterman Racing together with David.
Back in America, Rahal contracted her to
drive for his team in the Toyota Atlantic Se-
ries in 2003. But Rahal wanted more oppor-
tunities for his young protégé and had been
working behind the scenes. Danica was
able to also race a Porsche in the GT class,
Declared Danica Patrick: “Since I first start-
and a Ferrari 550 Maranello in the GTS
ed racing my dream has been to run the
class in the 2003 American Le Mans Series.
Indianapolis 500. When I signed with Rahal-
Letterman Racing in 2002 he told me to be
“I feel that it’s important for a driver to drive
patient, because this was a lengthy process,
in different types of racing,” said Rahal, who
designed to advance me to the highest lev-
won Indy in 1986 and was CART champion
els of racing. Today all those years of hard
in 1986, 1987 and 1992. He also enjoyed
work, moving to England at 16, all the sacri-
success in sports car racing, winning the 12
fices have paid off, because now I am com-
Hours of Sebring in 1987.
fortable racing in the IRL Indy car series.”
“At the start of this season I told Danica I
didn't care where she finished as long as
she finished races,” says Bobby Rahal. “It
has been a long journey for her to get to this
point, but in many ways the journey is just
beginning. I am very proud of what she has
accomplished, but I know the best is yet to
It’s all in the family — or, like father, like daughter
"Global Leader of Tomorrow" is a tribute
corporate culture. The profit and equity
one young Canadian woman received from
sharing principle is Magna’s formula for
the World Economic Forum. The National
success. Employees receive part of the
Post named her the most powerful busi-
profits in cash, while another portion is used
nesswoman in Canada in 2001; Fortune
to buy Magna stock on their behalf, making
Magazine listed her as the second most
powerful business woman in the world. In
2004 Time Magazine ranked her as one of
Various divisions design, develop, and pro-
the world's 100 most influential people.
duce just about everything anyone might
need to assemble a car, minivan, or truck.
Of course, it began small. Her father started
This includes some 5000 different parts,
an auto parts business in 1957 in a rented
from seats, instrument and door panels,
gatehouse with old machines. Being an im-
closures, and sound insulation to engine,
migrant new-Canadian tool and die maker,
cooling, powertrain, and fuel components.
he worked hard and long hours. By the end
of his first year in business, he had hired ten
Magna-Steyr in Austria, the largest division,
employees. Success followed success over
builds complete cars for five different
the years; Frank merged several other
makes, 226,000 in 2004, and it produces all
companies and in 1973 called the conglom-
diesel engines for one company.
erate Magna International.
Another division makes the safety cell for
the ‘smart’ city car of DaimlerChrysler.
Recently, the Technical University Graz in
Austria, his native country, agreed with the
head of Magna on a unique collaboration, to
set up the “Frank Stronach Institute” (does
that name sound familiar now?) at the facul-
ty of Mechanical Engineering and Econom-
ics. Magna will finance three chairs: Auto-
motive Safety, Conversion Technology /
Tools and Production, Science and Man-
Still guessing on the family name?
Realizing that his people powered his pro-
gress, he introduced his management phi-
losophy, known as Fair Enterprise, to
Magna. It is based on a Corporate Constitu-
tion which predetermines the annual per-
centage of profits shared between employ-
ees, management and investors, and
makes every employee a shareholder in the
This Fair Enterprise business philosophy
provides the foundation of Magna’s unique
Photos by Globe & Mail
Frank Stronach has served on numerous
her father at Magna. She has chaired the
boards of several firms in the auto parts
boards and has provided assistance to a
sector. She was a member of the board of
wide range of charitable and community
directors of Magna from 1988 until 2004. As
service organizations. He is the recipient of
CEO, she increased Magna’s income by
several honorary Doctorates, of Philosophy,
18%, while other large firms struggled lately
Law and Commerce. In 1996, he was in-
and dwindled. She was a founding member
ducted into the Canadian Business Hall of
of the Canadian Automotive Partnership
Fame. He won the 1997 "Business Leader
Council and served on the Ontario Task
of the Year Award" from the Richard Ivey
Force on Productivity, Competitiveness and
School of Business and the 1998 "Entre-
Economic Progress. She is a director of the
preneur of the Year Award" from the Uni-
Yves Landry Foundation, which furthers
versity of Michigan. In 1999 he was named
technological education and skills training in
a recipient of the Order of Canada and in
the manufacturing sector.
2000 he won the Ernst & Young "Entrepre-
neur of the Year Lifetime Achievement
Until entering politics, last year, she was the
Award." In 2002, the Canadian Council for
only woman CEO of a Global FORTUNE
International Business named Frank Stro-
500 company based outside the United
nach as the 2001 "Canadian International
Executive of the Year."
Today, the little long-ago 10 person shop
In 1988 Frank Stronach stood as a candi-
has grown to more than 59,000 people at
date for the federal Liberal party, but did not
166 manufacturing divisions and 32 product
win the election. Is it any surprise that his
daughter followed in his footsteps? It is she,
throughout North and South America, Eu-
Belinda Stronach, mentioned at the onset,
rope and Asia. Magna is a 20 Billion dollar
the newest Liberal Party member. Canada
automotive giant, and promotes Canada’s
could not be served by a better ‘boss’ than
expertise around the world. Its divisions de-
Belinda - but I must not stray into politics.
sign, develop and manufacture automotive
systems, assemblies, modules and compo-
Belinda studied business and economics at
nents. It also engineers and assembles
York University in Toronto and then joined
complete ‘niche vehicles’ for BMW, Chrys-
ler, General Motors and Mercedes-Benz.
The Tridon safety cell of the Daimler ‘smart’ micro-, or city-car, is produced by one the many divisions of Magna International
Does Ferrari have a direct line to a ‘higher authority’?
Pope John Paul II gave a private audience
was involved in organizing the (football
to the Ferrari Formula One team early in
/soccer) World Cup in 1990 and then on the
2005. He told the team: "Your presence of-
test-track at Fiorano where he had a ride in
fers me the opportunity to emphasize the
importance of sports in present-day society.
The Church considers sports activity, in
which the rules are totally respected, a valid
educational instrument, especially for young
Ferrari president Luca Montezemolo replied:
“The Holy Father is in pole position on the
highway of humanity," and presented the
Pope with a 1/5 scale-model of the Formula
One car the team used in 2004.
Following the assassination of President
Kennedy, bullet-proof vehicles were used to
transport heads of state – and church - soon
As we celebrated the Pope’s life recently,
[April 2005] we were reminded again that he
was shot while riding in an open car in St.
Peter's Square, on May 13, 1981. This hor-
rific incident required that security arrange-
ments for the Pope had to be increased for
his travels. Vehicles with bulletproof glass
Drivers, mechanics, and executives from
tops have been used in most of John Paul
Ferrari were greeted by the Pope. The As-
II’s international visits since that time.
sociated Press reports that he compliment-
ed Michael Schumacher and the entire
For his trip to Britain in 1982, the British
team: "My compliments to you for the victo-
Leyland Motor Corporation built and donat-
ry in the recent world championship.”
ed an armored vehicle, looking like a
streamlined Brinks truck with a sunroom.
The Pope used to ride in an open car, as
did Kings, Queens, Presidents and political
leaders around the world — in the good old
days. It could be a Cadillac or Lincoln, in
Europe it might be a Mercedes or Bentley.
Many of these motor vehicles and old car-
riages can be seen in the Vaticanś Muse-
um of Papal Carriages.
Montezemolo later explained to Associated
Press: "I had the honor of meeting His Holi-
ness on two occasions, first of all when I
White bulletproof vehicles became a sym-
this vehicle, a more comfortable, upscale
bolic image of all papal visits hereafter; a
SUV, a Mercedes-Benz M 430, coloured
sad reason, but very necessary precautions.
mother-of-pearl, which he received from
DaimlerChrysler. The vehicle was inaugu-
This truck was later donated to the British
rated in Toronto during World Youth Day.
Commercial Vehicle Museum, in Leyland,
The museum reported that it was inundated
with visitors flocking to see the Pope mobile
which John Paul II used to travel around the
UK before his death.
When Pope John Paul II visited Canada in
1984, another safety vehicle was needed to
protect the pontiff from a possible attempt
on his life when traveling on this continent.
By now, the bulletproof vehicles were
Photographs in this article are from Auto Motor & Sport
known as "Pope mobile."
Although he did not deem the term ‘Pope
The Canadian version is a GMC Sierra
mobile’ very dignified, the traveling Pope
pickup truck, donated by General Motors.
and his special white vehicles were wel-
Plastic shields and special steps were add-
come wherever they went.
ed to the truck bed. Red velvet interior from
Italy, air conditioning, AM-FM radio, a secu-
Addendum, April 2010, from the German
rity communication device and a swivel
magazine Auto Motor & Sport. It featured a
chair were installed. The bullet-proof
special section including a picture gallery of
"glass", made of Lexguard plastic, was do-
29 photos, showing details of various Pope
nated by GE Canada.
mobiles, and this report:
Two vehicles were modified and prepared at
In July 1930, a custom-made version of the
a plant in Pierreville, Quebec. The cost to
Nürburg 460 was handed over to Pope Pius
build two Pope mobiles was about $260,000
XI. It was the first popemobile from Mer-
at the time. The bill was paid by the Cana-
cedes-Benz, thereby establishing a long-
dian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
standing tradition of providing the Holy Fa-
ther with cars. Pius XI, the Roman supreme
The Pope was seemingly so impressed with
pontiff from 1922 until 1939, personally took
the vehicle that he took one back with him
delivery of the Nürburg in the Vatican. Being
to Italy. The other pickup was loaned to Cu-
one of just a few of its kind, this car has the
ba for the Pope's 1998 visit there. It is now
Pullman bodywork of the 770 Grand Mer-
part of the collection at the Canadian Na-
cedes, with adequate power being generat-
tional Museum of Science and Technology
ed by a 4.6-liter eight-cylinder engine.
From the rear seat, wishes concerning des-
With advancing age and the difficulties of
tination or speed can be relayed to the
arthritis limiting his progress, Pope John
chauffeur by means of a light signal system.
Paul II had to remain seated as he toured. A
The car was restored by Mercedes-Benz in
new Popemobile was built for the visit to
the early 1980s and handed back in 1984 to
Toronto, July 25 to 28. 2002.
the late Pope John Paul II who set out on a
trial run straightaway.
The Holy Father expressed appreciation for
Racing and living better — electrically
They are now racing to preserve precious
are the people who will design the vehicles
petroleum — with electric vehicles.
we will drive in the decades to come.
Ferdinand Porsche won his first race in an
[This following piece was written and pub-
electric car, before gasoline-burning cars
lished in September 2007, before any plans
became the norm. Just as Porsche put his
for these books came to pass. It later oc-
ideas on wheels, students from Ohio State curred to me that the words at the end of
University, and several others (see the ta-
the article would be a fitting title.]
ble), are building electric racecars, not to
win a mountain race, but a world speed rec-
The increase in gasoline price, the threat of
ord for EVs. After several years of trials and
dwindling petroleum reserves and better
failures, they gradually raised the speed of
awareness of environmental damage have
‘Buckeye Bullet’, and in the process set
sparked interest in a variety of electric vehi-
several American records. Finally, the elec-
tric racer was good enough to set several
Aren’t EVs powerless and slow? —
world records for EVs, with the top speed of
505 km/h, or 314 mph.
about golf carts.
Regular racing is ‘getting a charge’ in Japan
Electric motors can be designed and con-
with Zero/Sports’ new electric sports-racing structed for any intended purpose, just like
car – which truly makes it ‘ racing to pre-
a.k.a. internal com-
serve precious petroleum’. The company
bustion engines (ICE). A slow running farm
is producing vehicles for the Zero EV For-
tractor has enormous pulling power, but no
mula, based on modified Subaru cars. The-
speed, while a racing engine would stall if it
had to pul a little red wagon. ‘Designed
se production-based formula racing cars are
development tools for carmakers to find a
a-purpose’ also applies to ‘ motor’-vehicles
better way to drive the future.
of the electric kind — the only weak link is
Other improvement classes exist and race
in many countries: Formula BMW, Formula
For this reason, engineering students –and
Ford, Formula Renault, Formula Vee (VW); industrial conglomerates– are testing and
I surely missed several others.
experimenting with various types of electric
-as batteries were
Also in Japan, passenger EVs are getting a
called in the early years of the automobile.
Today’s leading edge battery types, like
‘work-out’ by students and Dr. Hiroshi
Shimizu of Tokyo’s Keio University. They
those used in hybrids, can be recharged
have worked on five generations of EVs
much faster and can give off their stored
over the years. Their project is being funded
energy quicker than the familiar, heavy lead
by the Japan Science and Technology Cor-
acid battery. Research, development, and
experimentation continue, and exotic mate-
rial combinations hold great promise for the
near future of suitable batteries or capaci-
Remember, engineering students are put-
ting into practice the theory they learned,
when they are building a racing car. They
Zero/Sports electric racecar
"When you're dealing with technology
precious petroleum with a battery with
thought by most to be slow, heavy and lack-
more power density and a longer life span;
ing range, you must do better than any su-
the Volt should reach production in 2010.
percar," the professor said. The inspiration
is Japanese, the design and construction
The success of these new batteries is being
was done by the Idea Institute in Italy; the
demonstrated on quarter-mile drag strips by
But not only electric vehicles are racing on
This unusual, eight-wheel, 8-passenger lux-
the path to a zero-emission, economically
ury limousine has an 80 horsepower electric
sustainable mobility future. The Indy Racing
motor in each wheel. This allows even trac-
League has abandoned gasoline for organic
tion and offers an unbelievable – for a pas-
ethanol fuel; the three-continent Le Mans
senger car – top speed of 370km/h or 230
Series for sportscars is using a mixture of
mph. KAZ was tested by former Formula1
gasoline and ethanol, until all production
driver Ukyo Katayama.
engines are capable to digest ethanol. And,
of course, you know that the all-conquering
The second car, a twin-prototype, is named
Audi R10 TDI [and its successors] use syn-
Eliica, from Electric Lithium-Ion battery car.
thetic diesel fuel; SunFuel.
With newer batteries, is has a range of ei-
ther 200 km, or a top-speed of 400 km.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, charge your batter-
ies” might become the famous order before
My early interest in this car in 2003 resulted
an ‘Indy 500’ of the future. Electric cars
in the company sending a large information
could do that now, “batteries not included”;
package with video, booklet, negatives etc;
because today’s mass-market batteries do
this could become another article.
not yet have enough storage capacity.
General Motors’ ‘Volt’ concept car created
Universities, do-it-yourselfers, science labs,
such a stir during 2007, that the company
automakers, racing teams, hot-rodders,
contracted several suppliers to develop new
even oil companies – everyone is racing to
battery types. General Motors and A123
preserve precious petroleum – literally
Systems seam to lead the race to preserve
Table from Popular Science
The first really BIG auto race – halfway around the World
“I like people who do something, not the
A much better contest promised to develop,
good safe man who stays at home”, de-
when the New York Times together with the
clared President Roosevelt to seventeen
French Le Matin challenged the young au-
men in six cars, before firing a starter pistol.
tomotive world to an even more demanding
test of fitness for 1908: Drive from New York It happened on February 12, 1908, in Times
to San Francisco, to Alaska, cross the fro-
Square in New York City. 250,000 people
zen Bering Strait to Siberia, carry on to
witnessed the start of perhaps the greatest
Moscow and Paris.
automotive contest ever, the trek from New
York to Paris, the long way around.
Talk about a challenge!
This kind of competition with cars started
Very few roads, as we know them, existed
when one automotive pioneer taunted an-
in North America or Europe. Cobblestones
other one with the likes of: ”My auto-buggy
were the latest development in and around
is better and faster than your horseless car-
large cities. The Alaska Highway was still
decades in the future, and even trails were
rare in the sparsely inhabited steppes of
They started to race each other from one
Siberia. Maps of that area were non-
community to another, from one county to
existent; in-car GPS not even a remote
the next, and, when automobiles became
dream. No run-flat tires, but hard rubber on
more reliable (will they ever?), from country
wooden wheels; air-suspension? – sus-
pended in the air if a car took a bump too
Newspapers of that time had a ‘field-day’,
reporting the chal engers’ positions in these
Take a moment to imagine the worst condi-
street races daily – usually a few days later,
tions you ever encountered, and then multi-
with reporters filing the stories by Morse tel-
egraph. Automobiles made news, and news
For the grueling Great Race, France en-
tered three cars, and one each came from
In the year before, a French newspaper had
Italy and Germany. The American entry was
issued a challenge for a long distance
a Thomas, from the company that had been
match, stating, "What needs to be proved
building bicycles in Buffalo and Toronto dur-
today is that as long as a man has a car, he
ing the late 1800s.
can do anything and go anywhere. Is there
anyone who will undertake to travel this
summer from Peking to Paris by automo-
bile?" —— Did that race really take place?
Forty teams entered, but only five shipped
their cars (did they?) to Peking (now Bei-
jing); there were no rules and so much con-
troversy surrounds this event, that even the
distance is quoted as anywhere from 14,500
km to 19,400 km traveled.
The inaccuracy of information from “only”
one hundred years ago is astounding.
From ‘The Great Race’:
The one-hundred-year anniversary of that
The Europeans thought they could win this
“Great Race” wil be celebrated in less than one easily; they had raced each other for
eighteen months. [ published in September
years, while the Americans had only started
2006] Plans are being made for two clas-
building automobiles about a decade later.
ses: automobiles from 1969 or earlier will
vie for a prize of $500,000 for the winner,
But Europeans had no idea about ‘road
and the “Innovation Technology Division”
conditions’ and distances in North America,
winner will receive one million dollars. This
especially in February. Those conditions
division is for vehicles running on alternative
required a route change even as the race
fuels, such as bio-diesel, electricity, includ-
was underway; the cars bypassed Alaska
ing hybrid-electrics, fuel cell cars and per-
and were shipped to Japan, then to Vladi-
haps solar-powered ones. To demonstrate
the new, green automotive technology of
this new century, stops, demonstrations and
Two of the French automobiles had suc-
lectures are planned in 50 major cities
cumbed before crossing the US State of
across North America, Asia and Europe.
Iowa. When reaching Vladivostok, the third
The Greatest Auto Race will take about 80
one was sold to a Peking businessperson,
days and cover 35,000 km, crisscrossing
abandoning the competition.
The German car had encountered mechani-
cal problems in Utah and was taken to Seat-
tle by train, resulting in a fifteen-day penalty.
Frequent repairs, treacherous driving condi-
tions, lack of fuel and other hazards caused
many hardships and slow progress.
Paris is still a long way from Moscow, espe-
cially so in 1908. The German Protos
reached the finish on July 30, after 169
days, four days ahead of the Thomas. With-
out penalty, the Thomas was declared the
winner. The Italian Zust arrived on Septem-
ber 17, six weeks behind the other two fin-
Majestic mountains and treacherous trails have to be con-
ishers, after a seven months ‘long distance
quered by antique and concept cars in the Greatest Auto
Race in 2008
Pictures: Wikipedia & VWAG
Do you remember the excitement at the
‘Great North American Race’ from Ottawa to
Mexico City in 1995? The first stop, orga-
nized by a local automotive group, took
place at the Quinte Mall. (Belleville) Now
visualize several hundred antique AND fu-
ture cars together.
(Yours truly was instrumental in organizing the
local ‘Pit Stop’ for the Great North American
Restored 1907 Thomas Flyer to enter the next Great Race
Herbie’s cousins win at Le Mans and around the world
Rumors persist and denials continue that
title five times in succession, and the Le
the Volkswagen Group is pondering partici-
Mans 24 Hours four times.
pation at the pinnacle of motorsports, For-
The difference between a ‘vee
mula 1. How could Ferdinand Porsche’s
‘Herbie’ ever hope to beat Michael Schu-
and The Audi R8 Le Mans winner could be
macher’s Ferrari? By clever industrial strat-
compared to the similarity between a hang
egy, that’s how.
glider and the space shuttle.
Just as Ford has taken over Aston Martin
The R8 is considered the most successful
and Jaguar, both with a long and illustrious
sports-racing car in history. Triumphant
racing heritage (Ford as well), so has
since first introduced in 1998, the R8 Audi
has dominated the ’24 hours of Le Mans’
Volkswagen acquired several companies
with more collective racing DNA and suc-
race, as well as the American Le Mans se-
cess than any other on this planet. With the
ries, which includes a medium-distance race
at the “little Nürburgring” near Oshawa,
pedigree of pre-war Auto Union of ‘Silver
Arrow’ fame, which now is Audi, and Bent-
ley, Bugatti and Lamborghini, and with
Actually, a Bentley has won Le Mans once,
strong connections to Porsche, who cares if
interrupting the R8’s streak, but that was a
the ‘Bentley Boys’ racing team would be v-
beautiful Bentley body on a modified Audi
dubbed the ‘Beetle Bots’.
In the Australian "race of a thousand years”,
a six hour ‘enduro’ in Adelaide in 2000 one
of the Audis was painted to resemble a
crocodile. Whether it was fear of reptiles or Audi’s “Vorsprung durch Technik” may never be known, but after 225 laps the winning
Audi had lapped the second place car 21
When Audi sold their racecars two years
Herbie, from http://www.herbiemania.com/
ago, they announced the development of a
new car for the 2006 Twenty-four Hours of
Not quite at the Formula 1 level, but techni-
Le Mans. Since then the R8 has been raced
cally the closest, is the prototype sports-
by private team from France, the United
racing class, which competes in long dis-
States and Japan.
tance racing, and the American Le Mans
Series (ALMS), as well as the Asian and
Such is the superiority and reliability of the
European Le Mans series. In this class, the
Audi still now, that the governing Fédération
VW/Audi R8 has proven to be in a class of
Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) has
its own. It remains unbeaten to date in the
handicapped the three existing cars more
12-hour race at Sebring, it won the ALMS
and more – but they still win races. After 60
wins, including a few 1st plus 2nd places,
some 1-2-3 ‘steamrollers’, the cars now
new technologies to mass production relia-
must carry 50 kg ballast, have a 10 liter
smaller tank than the others cars, requiring
more frequent pit stops, and must run the
With its fuel-saving Turbo FSI technology
the Audi R8 has been the ‘test mule’ for e
engine with an air restrictor that reduces
horse-power by about 70.
gines that are now available in models from
Audi and Volkswagen and their cousins at
Do you remember what the FIA does?
Spanish Seat and Czech Skoda.
This makes them about five seconds slower
This reporter does not know if, when or un-
per lap than the competition, but the R8 still
der which brand name the Volkswagen
wins on reliability, even after six years,
Group might enter Formula 1 racing. Inter-
though no longer by “Advantage through
estingly, VW is searching for race driver re-
Technology”, the Audi slogan.
cruits fifteen years and older. Successful
candidates will start their career with a fully
sponsored season in the ‘ Polo Cup’ series.
The Polo is a younger brother of the Golf,
about the size of a Toyota Echo mini car. At
less than 2000 pounds, with a 150 HP three
cylinder engine, this is an extremely com-
petitive class for aspiring Marios or Michaels
to gain experience and confidence.
When spending a day with the Audi team at
Mosport in 2005, I queried the team man-
ager about the R8’s winning ways. His an-
swer: “Attention to detail wins races”.
Audi R8 Croc
Reports keep surfacing that Audi’s new rac-
er will be a Diesel, the engine based on the
popular and successful VW Touareg SUV.
One private entry (who knows for sure?)
raced in last year’s “24 Hours” with a modi-
fied Touareg V10 Diesel until the transmis-
sion could cope no longer with the Diesel’s
enormous amount of torque.
Besides, Peugeot has announced their in-
tention to compete at Le Mans with a diesel
We may never know if it was ‘Crocodile Dundee’
engine in 2007.
or Steve Irvin, the Crocodile Man, who persuad-
Certainly, this type of activity costs a large
ed the usually stoic Germans to let loose and
amount of money, but it’s not expensive if
have fun with a serious racecar.
one considers the time savings of bringing
Win on Sunday, sell on Monday, but is something holding back?
Everything used to be so simple in the good
Production cars now use similar ‘aero-kits’
old days. Nowadays everything has to be
to enhance the looks. Knowledge added,
done by ‘the rules’, They used to say, “rules
gained in competition, means less fuel con-
are made to be broken”, but that rule is no
sumption and safer driving.
longer in effect.
The FIA (Federation Internationale de
L’Automobile) is the governing entity of mo-
Throttling technical progress is a major
problem in Formula One and other classes.
Every time a car manufacturer or a racing
team makes real technological progress, -
paradoxically - the FIA changes the rules.
Any progress transferable to production,
whether technologically, environmentally or
safety related, is THE prime motivator for
automotive companies to participate in any
competition. The money spent at tracks for
research and innovations has benefited mo-
torists since the days of the auto-buggy.
Can you imagine what would have hap-
pened, had the FIA outlawed items like
Body add-on parts by VIS for trucks or cars
The ability to change a troublesome trans-
mission in under four minutes in 2000 won
the Audi team their first of four 24-hour rac-
Crumple zones – and more?
es at Le Mans – banned by the FIA. Audi
These and many other safety and conven-
won three more times regardless, and their
ience items were tried, tested and improved
‘ unfair advantage’ of direct fuel-injection
in racing, before becoming part, or options,
(FSI) today saves gasoline not only for
of every motor vehicle.
Volkswagen and Audi drivers, but for mil-
lions of others.
Many other inventions and innovations
which gave someone a “competitive ad-
[That is what racing to preserve precious
vantage” were almost immediately ruled out
petroleum is all about]
of existence in the name of “fair play” by the
FIA. To list all would require a book; here
Electronic driver aids in Formula One cars
are some examples:
of a few years ago — banned by the FIA.
Nevertheless, today’s electronic systems
Aerodynamic experiments on the Chaparal
save lives in family cars with ABS, Dynamic
in CanAm competition a generation ago
Ride Control, stability and traction control
permitted faster cornering and higher top-
speed – banned by the FIA.
These and other developments could have
Brabham continued: “Efficiency and perfor-
benefited motorists much earlier, had they
mance go together. Racecars burn a lot of
not been banned by the FIA.
fuel, but they burn it efficiently. If you're en-
ergy-efficient you can go faster. If you burn
Enough is enough, said the competitors [a
less fuel you carry less weight, and that
few years ago].
gives you a performance advantage. At the
Le Mans 24-hour race it was very clear that
Nine of the 10 Formula One teams and five
one of the reasons for the competitiveness
car manufacturers are prepared to start a
of the Audi R8 is fuel efficiency. And at Le
new series of events, the World Champion-
Mans there's always a car near the front,
ship Grand Prix (WCGP), without the FIA in
because it has spent less time in the pits.”
2008. Ford /Jaguar quit in 2004, but entered
sportscar racing (Sebring, Le Mans, ALMS)
Last year one team raced a frugal
with Aston Martin soon after.
Volkswagen V10 TDI-Diesel powered car,
backed by Caterpillar and Perkins. The car
The teams, except Ferrari, have agreed on
failed to finish due to a transmission failure.
guiding principles drawn up by BMW, Daim-
The team is looking for a racing gearbox
lerChrysler, Honda, Toyota and Renault,
capable of handling the VW’s titanic torque
which outline the way they want the sport to
for this year’s endurance race.
be run: "A shift towards greater recognition
of environmental concerns and the oppor-
“My reason for getting involved with EEMS
tunity to shape a new future for the sport
is to recapture that link between the auto-
before change is forced upon us by regula-
motive industry and motorsport as a tech-
tory bodies," said a spokesperson.
nical proving ground — like Le Mans was in
the 1920s and 1930s”, explained David
Sportscar ace David Brabham, son of for-
mer Formula One world-champion Sir Jack
Brabham, has become an official ambassa-
dor for the Government-backed Energy Effi-
cient MotorSport (EEMS) program. He will
promote its efforts of encouraging use of
alternative fuels and energy-efficient mate-
rials within all forms of racing. Brabham is
driving for the revived Aston Martin team
this season and already won his class at
Florida’s 12 hour Sebring race in March.
"We've already seen some progress, such
sportscars participating in endurance racing,
but so much more must be done. We must
step up efforts to harness the expertise of
motorsport suppliers - they are uniquely
equipped to help bring forward the devel-
opment of 'green' technologies and alterna-
tive fuels for use in road cars. The motor-
sport community has the means of testing
these new 'green' solutions, as well as
Evolution brought about by racing in less than fifty years
building a public profile for them through
In German language only, but has 60 interesting photos
Everyone wants to be in ‘The Green Hell’ now — on the ‘Nordschleife’
“Record-setting Run Around the Ring”, the
The Nürburgring was constructed between
headline from Nissan read. A new ‘best
1925 and 1927 as a purpose-built proving
time’ around the ‘Ring’ for a production car,
ground to test and develop production cars
the next generation Skyline GT-R was set.
for the steadily expanding automobile indus-
The ‘Ring’ is Germany’s famous Nür-
try, and to hold occasional races. Germany
burgring racetrack, where a single lap is a
had fallen behind France, who had Montlhé-
ry; Italy with Monza, and Great Britain with
Brooklands as testing venues.
The superficial measure of a car’s perfor-
mance used to be its 0-100 km acceleration
time. As cars became faster, deceleration,
or braking action, was also considered with
0-100-0 times. Today, with suspension,
transmissions and many other considera-
tions included, more and more emphasis is
placed on a car’s ability to “Run the Ring”.
By now, most of the world’s carmakers have
established a test facility at the ‘Ring. Driv-
ing on this difficult track, springs and damp-
ers are analyzed and evaluated, gear ratios
are selected and confirmed, steering ratios
are assessed for ease of every-day driving,
From Google Earth
road-feel and precision, and suspension
set-up is finalized before production of any
Workers literally carved a road out of the
new model commences.
Eifel Mountains around the 12th century
Nürburg castle and several villages. The
Even the new Cadillac models received
result, the most-used 20.8 km ‘North-Loop’
their fitness training on the Nürburgring, be-
–Nordschleife- changes nearly one thou-
fore going onto the assembly line; if a car
sand feet from its highest to lowest point;
survives a few days on the Ring, it will last a
the steepest downhill section is 11%, the
few years under most conditions on high-
severest climb 17%.
ways, byways and country-roads.
Former Formula One World Champion
Jackie Stewart described the racetrack like
this: “The Nürburgring was bad enough at
just over 14 miles to a lap; it was leaping
and jumping, taking off and flying a long
way some 13 times per lap. You went to the
'Ring with a car stacked up with bump rub-
bers to stop it grinding itself to nothing by
bottoming out.” ‘The Green Hell’, Jackie
Stewart called the ferocious forest.
Racing drivers say it is by far THE most dif-
ficult and unforgiving circuit in the world.
Officially, it has 33 left and 40 right turns,
but the great Fangio said that 174 turns per
lap require steering input. Fangio won his
used the opportunity of a Porsche test ses-
five Formula1 world championships with
sions to do that, — and they succeeded; the
four different teams, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari,
new Nissan managed to pass the 911.
Mercedes-Benz and Maserati; several were
decided on the ‘Ring.
To get an idea of how difficult a place the
Nürburgring is to drive on, consider these
lap times and also reflect on the progress today’s cars have made:
1927 Christian Werner
1932 Tazio Nuvolari
1936 Bernd Rosemeyer
1954 Juan Manuel Fangio 9:50
1958 Stirling Moss
1969 Jacky Ickx
1975 Clay Regazzoni
1983 Stefan Bellof
Above 2 photos by Nürburgring GmbH
The small ‘South Loop’ is only 7.7km, and it
was used for important races in later years
when cars became faster, and the demand-
ing ‘Nordschleife’ was deemed too danger-
ous. As well, it was not feasible to transmit
TV or radio broadcasts from an area of that
In 1984 a new Grand Prix course of 4.5km
length was constructed, partly inside the
South Loop, with better facilities for specta-
tors, competitors and reporters; in all, a
The now much improved North Loop has
always been open for tourists with cars or
motorbikes on days devoid of a 1000-km or
24-hour production or sportscars race; a
modest Beetle has carried my father and his
three sons around the Ring in something
slower than the following table. It was my
first year as a licensed driver, and I have
seen Fangio race there.
Recent production cars, even a Ford Escort,
That was then; now the large north-loop
are faster than Fangio was when winning
serves for production car evaluation during
the Grand Prix some fifty-plus years ago.
Porsche Carrera GT
That’s what Nissan did; trying to make the
Nissan Skyline GT-R
new GT-R go as fast as the record-holding
Porsche 997 GT3
production version Porsche Turbo. Nissan
Mercedes Benz SLR McLaren
eo of the real thing. Videos don’t lie. Unedit-
Porsche 997 Turbo
ed videos anyway. Nissan’s rival at GT-R
level, Porsche, has no problem with video
evidence. What it has a problem with is Nis-
san’s claim of a standard car crushing its
Chrysler Viper GTS
own contender, the 911 Turbo, on this leg-
Honda CRX 1.6 Group F,
endary track with a blistering time of 7
minutes and 29 seconds in April 2008.
VW Polo 2.0 Group F
August Achleitner, the 911 product chief,
Audi TT 1.8T Quattro
spoke to the CARSguide at the Australian
Ford Escort RS2000
press-preview of the latest 911 Cabriolet:
"This wonder car with 7:29 could not have
For a special treat, ride along in the record been a regular series production car," he
setting Nissan with a professional driver.
said. "For us, it's not clear how this time is
possible. What we can imagine with this
For a more “leisurely” trip around the
Nissan is they used other tires."
Nordschleife, anyone visiting Germany can
book a trip with professional racing driver
To put credit to their suspicions, Achleitner’s
Sabine Schmitz, who will take up to 3 pas-team went and bought a GT-R in the US
sengers in her BMW ‘race taxi’ for an unfor-
and took it on a back to back to back run
against its 911 Turbo as well as the GT2,
just in case. The tests were done under the
To demonstrate how serious manufacturers
same conditions using standard Michelin
take published results of a car’s perfor-
Sport Cup rubber.
mance on the ‘Ring, this is what happened
shortly after Nissan made headlines:
"The Nissan is a good car. I don't want to
Porsche Accuses Nissan of Cheating on
make anything bad with my words," Achleit-
GT-R Nürburgring 'Record' Lap Run
ner was quoted as saying. "It's a very con-
sistent car. But this car is about 20 kilos
“As it was in the olden back alleys of the
heavier than the Turbo . . ."
world’s classic cities, that arguments among
men were settled with two pairs of fists,
For this reason alone it can be seriously
slugging it out until only one was left stand-
questioned whether GT-R really did achieve
ing. Now, today, it seems this arena has be-
its feat as a standard car. The other reasons
come the Nürburgring racetrack and auto
are the so-called “minor tweaks” that were
performed on it before
its run at Nordschleife.
For the record, here
are the times that Por-
sche achieved with all
three cars in standard
Nissan GT-R 7:54
ed on this
Porsche 911 Turbo
was said to
be the vid-
Porsche GT2 7:34
First Indy 500 race with renewable bio-fuel
"We're going to look back on this day as his-
Car Series lineup. The car will be co-
toric. It's the right thing to do," proclaimed
sponsored for the next four years by world-
wide Remy, better known as Delco-Remy,
makers of automotive parts.
Racing to preserve precious petroleum, the
2007 Indianapolis 500 race will be [was] run
Hemelgarn Racing and driver Paul Dana
without a single drop of hydrocarbon-based
have already used ethanol racing fuel with
fuel being burned.
great success for several years in the Infini-
ty Pro Series, the farm-team class or feed-
Instead, a one hundred percent renewable
er-series for the top IndyCar racers.
bio-fuel, Ethanol, will be used. It is derived from agriculturally produced renewable
Dana has advanced to the top league in
2005 and will continue to ‘drive’ ethanol fuel
to a new level of awareness in the No. 91
The partner in Hemelgarn-Johnson Motor-
Ethanol Hemelgarn Racing Dallara-Toyota-
sport, and founding member of the Indy
Racing League (IRL), is delighted about this
When the well-known (formerly purple)
Number 91 car starts this year’s Indy 500
“The ethanol industry has partnered with the
and the other 16 IRL races with Paul Dana
IndyCar Series to become the fuel supplier
driving, the car will have been repainted
beginning with the 2006 season. Ethanol is
green with blue and white - to indicate its
an alcohol derived primarily from grain. As a
clean-burning and renewable fuel that is
non-toxic and 100 percent biodegradable, it
Don’t confuse the green racecar with ‘green’
reduces air pol ution and improves racing’s
fuel - with team Andretti-Green.
environmental footprint. The target for the
2006 season is a blend of ethanol and rac-
Still, it will not be the first time ethanol has
ing fuel that corresponds with ethanol blend
powered a car in the famed Indianapolis
commonly available to consumers at gaso-
500; in the 1927 race, a car driven by Leon
line stations. Beginning in 2007, the fuel will
Duray was fueled by ethyl (grain) alcohols.
be 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol in
IndyCar Series cars, the same fuel that has
Hemelgarn is familiar with ethanol use
the potential to replace at least 10 percent
through his Michigan agriculture back-
of the nation’s gasoline supply.”
ground. He estimates the use of ethanol
racing fuel will save about $60,000 per team
Ethanol is a high-octane, high-performance annually.
fuel, derived from various plants, that is
clean burning, renewable and adaptable to
But more so, he believes the IRL's switch
both gasoline and diesel applications. As a
from methanol to ethanol is more about
growing component of the world's gasoline
conscience than being cost-conscious.
supply, it improves engine performance
while reducing emissions for better air quali-
Who needs the FIA’s progress-stifling atti-
tude in suppressing Formula One and other
series, when we have environmentally con-
To help build anticipation and awareness for
scious sanctioning bodies like the IRL,
alternative fuels, the ethanol industry group
USAC and other responsible, forward think-
is sponsoring one entry in this year’s Indy
ing motorsport groups?
The IndyCar Series has always been rec-
hood] After graduating from University in
ognized for its technical leadership in auto-
journalism, Dana started as a mechanic at
mobile racing. The engines used in this sin-
the Bridgestone Racing School at the
gle seat, open wheel racecar are based on
Shannonville Motorsport Park just east of
Belleville, Ontario. He worked for ‘seat-
time’, drove intelligently and climbed up the
The competition in this class is lively, with
class ladder. I have been aware of his pro-
frequent passing and lead changes. Now
motion of alternative fuels for a number of
the IRL wil be the motorsport’s leader in
years. His ecological efforts in the open
renewable and environmentally responsible
wheel classes parallel David Brabham’s
energy use. As wel , it’s the only major se-
work in Europe in sportscar racing with the
ries to include several talented female rac-
Government-backed Energy Efficient Moing drivers.
torSport (EEMS) program.
Every time anyone of us needs to fill our
fuel tank, the opportunity ‘ crops’ up [don’t
you love puns?] to use agriculture-based
ethanol and gasoline mix, called ‘bio-blend’.
That is now available at all Pioneer, Suno-
co, UPI and independent stations in Ontario.
Ethanol is the only proven commercial scale
renewable transportation fuel currently
available in the marketplace.
Hemelgarn says it best: “Not only for the
Corvettes and many other sportscar classes now run on a
renewable ethanol racing fuel Photo: GETTY IMAGES
racing, but for all of us we have to find an
alternative solution to petroleum, and we as
Paul Dana has a special connection to the
farmers have the ability to generate an al-
Bay of Quinte area. [the author’s neighbor-
ternative fuel - Ethanol.”
A clever advertisement by alternative fuel proponents, showing the connection between racing and using organically derived Ethanol fuel from corn, or other renewable plant stocks and organic waste materials; truly and literally racing to preserve precious petroleum.
No smoke! No smell! No noise!
That is what the reporters kept repeating,
Volkswagen New Beetle, Jetta, Passat and
over and over again. “It’s a historic day for
Touareg models. Turbo Direct Injection is
automotive technology”, was their conclu-
the ‘new’ (more than a decade old) diesel
sion at the end of the twelve hour race in
technology, now embraced by most compa-
Sebring, Florida, during March break.
nies around the world, just with a different
What was so historic about that, you ask?
It was the first major international sportscar
race won by a car with a Diesel engine.
What is going on here? A racecar with a
Diesel engine? Are those not meant for
At Sebring, the Diesel engine shed the dirty,
smelly, oil-stained coveralls. It slipped on a
red and white athlete’s speed-suit and out-
accelerated, out-powered, out-distanced,
and out-lasted Aston-Martin, BMW, Cor-
vette, Ferrari and so on thru the alphabet,
thanks to Audi.
2006 Chrysler 300 C diesel
From now on, the Diesel engine can dress Audi and Volkswagen have built millions of
formally and be welcomed at the concert
Diesel engines for more than a quarter cen-
hall, the theater or the inauguration. Or, the
tury. The two companies are like Buick and
Diesel engine could wear a casual jacket,
Chevrolet, like Harley and Davidson, insep-
blouse, sweater or shirt and go the school,
arable, and the TDI technology is shared by
library, grocery store or to church. In other
the companies. Audi just took “Advantage
words, the Diesel engine has arrived.
thru Technology”, — their slogan.
Diesels started to achieve success in Eu-
The advantage and demand for Diesels is
rope by 1990, when refineries produced ul-
such that EU countries report up to 67% of
tra-low-sulfur Diesel fuel. North American
new car sales are Diesels. Consider this:
“dirty” Diesel contains 500 ppm (parts per
Audi’s A8 TDI engine has the same capacity
million) of sulfur content. The EPA (Envi-
as the gasoline model. Acceleration is 5.9
ronmental Protection Agency) mandated in
seconds 0-100 km/h for the Diesel, com-
2001 -16-years later than Europe- that our
pared to gasoline’s 6.2 seconds. TDI has
Diesel fuel must have no more than 15 ppm
torque of 479 lb-ft. compared to gasoline’s
–as in Europe- after September 1, 2006.
317 lb-ft. TDI averages 9.45 l/100km (30
The sulfur causes the smoke and soot and
mpg) as opposed to 12.1 l /100km
the pungent smell. Soon that will be no
(23.7mpg) with the gasoline engine.
Like everything else in life, someone else
Europeans and Canadians have known the
tried it before. In 1930 Cummins, of truck
advantages of Diesel-power for years. But
engine fame, asked renowned racing-driver
many others are stil skeptical. The ‘TDI’ at
Eddie Rickenbacker to drive a Diesel in the
the side of the victorious Audi R10 at Se-
Indy 500. The rules had been changed to
bring is the same ‘TDI’ worn by countless
encourage manufacturers to participate.
Cummins believed his truck engine could
run all day; but would it be fast enough? Im-
provements had the truck engine run non-
stop in the 1931 Indianapolis 500, but not in
Before we all can take advantage of this
promising “green” development, France's
Peugeot will give Audi a race for the glory
with the power of a Diesel racecar at the 24
hour race at Le Mans in 2007.
A pair of Cummins-powered Duesenbergs
appeared in 1934. Dave Evans stripped the
gears (Diesel power!) after a pit stop with
his four-cycle version. “Stubby” Stubblefield
placed 12th with a two-stroke version of the
In 1950 Jimmy Jackson drove a Kurtis-Kraft,
with a six-cylinder 401cid Cummins, boost-
ed by a supercharger, which failed to
charge at the quarter distance. Celebrated
driver Fred Agabashian put a Cummins
Diesel on the Indy pole in 1952 with the en-
Another great advantage of the Diesel, be-gine turned on its side to lower frontal area.
sides better fuel economy, is the fact that
bio-Diesel fuel will soon be widely available.
In 1998, the 24-hour race for production
English racing teams vying for the “VW Die-
cars at the legendary Nürburgring was won
sel Cup” in New Beetles, among others,
by a Diesel-powered car – a works team
have been testing 5%, 10%, 20% and 50%
BMW 320d. BMW now offers a racing ver-
bio-fuel, and different types of bio-fuel from
sion of that car to customers.
different sources. Jatropha oil has the ad-
vantage over canola oil, soy or palm oils,
because Jatropha trees will grow on waste-
Volkswagen, these companies will offer a
land, and will not use up food-producing
Diesel version of their cars in North America
farm-land in developing regions.
in the near future: BMW, Chrysler-Jeep,
Ford, GM, Honda, Jaguar, Lexus, Toyota
and, without doubt, others.
Picture from speedtv
Not just preserving precious petroleum, even racing without it
The green revolution is racing [ahead];
The engine of the racing Jettas is an all-new
Green is the new gold.
2.0 liter four cylinder with 170 horsepower
and massive torque, available in 2009 mod-
In a highly unusual report, the Globe Inves-
els. The transmission is a six-speed auto-
tor online magazine wrote this headline over
matic DSG [later article], available in several
their latest Report on Business: Drivers Use
other production models of the VW Group.
Clean Diesel Volkswagens to Cross Finish
Line at Virginia International Raceway.
steering is also used on other models, as is
the ESP. This electronic stability control
“Investors are flocking to deposit their
works together with ABS to stabilize a vehi-
green-backs and gold bullions into green
cle by applying the brake on one or several
technology. New jobs are created with
wheels, even before the driver detects a
green car expertise, while jobs are lost in
potentially dangerous skid.
factories that produce cars running on the
old ‘black gold’; the auto biz is colorful
enough to make you see psychedelic.
Racing to preserve precious petroleum, lit-
erally and figuratively, Volkswagen has insti-
tuted the “Jetta TDI Cup” to promote their
new, clean, 50-state approved Diesel tech-
nology across North America. Under the
sanctioning of the Sports Car Club of Amer-
ica (SCCA), thirty identical VW Jettas and
their young drivers will strut their stuff in an eight race series on closed tracks, on city
The emphasis of the Jetta TDI series is to
street circuits and on an oval track. The ‘up
develop the skill of young, promising driv-
and coming’ drivers, age 16 to 26, have
ers. Volkswagen will assist the best ones
been selected during trials just days before
with getting into other classes of motor-
the start of this world-first type of event.
The thirty Jettas are owned and maintained
Even more unique than racing with Diesel
by Volkswagen of America. The cars used
engines is the fact that the Jetta TDI Cup
in the racing series have been modified for
series is certified as a carbon free event by track use with a brake upgrade, a stiffer
the CarbonFund.org, an ecological watch-
suspension and additional safety equip-
dog. It means the cars, for the first time in
ment: Racing rules require a five-point seat
the history of the automobile, are using no
belt, on-board fire extinguisher and several
petroleum products at all, but clean bio die-
other safety items.
sel fuel and synthetic lubricants.
“The drivers race, the environment wins”.
More than 600 ambitious drivers applied to
The world wide debut of this new motor-
Volkswagen when they announced the new
sports series took place on April 27 at a well
racing series. After initial interviews, 177
known circuit near Alton, Virginia. The se-
were invited to the Firebird International
cond, and first international, event was held
Raceway near Phoenix, where they demon-
at Mosport on the May 18 weekend; Chris
strated their driving ability. They also spent
Holman from Burlington, at 20 the youngest
time in the gym (for physical fitness testing)
of the Canadian racers, won second place.
and were grilled in media interviews to pre-
pare them for ‘life in the fast lane’.
One of the drivers explained that that they
will receive almost as much off-track coach-
ing during this season as they will get in ac-
tual race training. "The support Volkswagen
is giving to young drivers is tremendous," he
said. "There is an emphasis on physical fit-
ness and we'll be schooled in public rela-
tions. More important, the engineers will go
over just about every lap with us after the
races. Everything on the race car will be
measured by computer – engine revs, brak-
ing, how a driver takes a particular corner,
and so on. After a practice or a race, all this
Among the thirty drivers are three more Ca-
data is broken down so we can see where
nadians, Andrew Cordeiro, a 24 year old
we did well and where we didn't. The goal is
from Woodbridge; Adam Kretschmer, twen-
to help everyone improve."
ty one years, from Brampton and David
Richert, twenty five, from Niverville, Manito-
The sponsors are just as enthusiastic: "We ba.
couldn't be more thrilled about our Jetta TDI
Cup race experience," said Stefan Jacoby,
The thirty Jetta racecars will stay in Canada
former president and CEO of Volkswagen of
America, Inc. “It will celebrate Volkswagen’s
to drive again in the following round, July 4
to 6, at the Grand Prix of Toronto, known as
diesel technology and heritage in motor-
sports as good, clean fun”, he added “Not
the Molson Indy, where Volkswagen will al-
so stage a celebrity race.
only will the young drivers gain real-life track
experience in a factory-prepared race vehi-
cle, it will allow them to
mindset of today’s clean
diesel technology, and
foster increased aware-
ness of its advantages
in this new era of envi-
Photos by VWAG
From Bulldozers to World Speed Records, it’s Diesels
Mention “Diesel”, and in spite of everything,
“Things didn't go so well in the race, as the
the mental image for many people is still a
turbocharger inlet was clogged with rubber
bulldozer or farm tractor; not very swift, but
and other debris by lap 70, overheating the
very slow. But hint at diesel race cars? —
massive engine. The car retired, but the
“No way! ”
point had been made. Turbocharging be-
came common at Indy by the late 1960s,
Remember the tale of the hare and the tur-
and diesel-powered race cars have since
won at Sebring and Le Mans. They owe a
lot to the Cummins Diesel Special”, stated
The Cummins Engine Co., world renowned
the Cummins press release.
for diesel engines on land and sea, has run
in the Indy 500 numerous times. In 1931 a
Clearly, they mean the Audi R10 TDI, the
Duesenberg with a modified Cummins die-
first incarnation of a modern diesel racecar
sel truck-engine qualified last, but finished
in 2006. Audi and also Peugeot will be at
the race in 13th place after running the entire
Sebring again this weekend with two diesel
distance without a single pit stop. During
that decade several more attempts at get-
ting better in the fastest of all races resulted
But long before a diesel won a major event,
in only partial success, but this did not pre-
Mercedes had diesel passenger cars partic-
vent Cummins from trying again after World
ipate in various forms of motorsports. At the
1955 “Mile Miglia’ thousand-mile race
through Italy, a Mercedes 180D won its
class. In 1959 Karl Kling won the 14,045 km
Africa Rally from Algiers to Cape Town in a
190D. A Mercedes diesel engine also set a
world speed record in 1975 and a diesel
engine was used in one of the famous Mer-
cedes C111 concept cars a year later to top 400 km/h.
The quickest and fastest diesel truck in the world
from Gale Banks Engineering
In 1952 Freddie Agabashian surprised the
world of motorsports when he clinched the
pole position at Indianapolis with four laps at
more than 222 km/h in the Cummins Diesel
Special. A turbocharger had been added to
the six cylinder truck engine, producing
In 1976 Volkswagen introduced its first die-
about 380 horsepower. That year’s Indy 500
sel engine in the Golf /Rabbit. In his young-was part of the Formula1 World Champion-
er years, Ferdinand Piëch, grandson of Fer-
ship series. A Diesel in F1? Yes.
dinand Porsche, designed the first 5-
cylinder diesel engine for Mercedes, elevat-
ing the ‘Diesel’ into luxury cars. In his later
years, he became chairman of the
beautiful, closed car was faster than the
Volkswagen Group and 1992 drove a diesel
Audis, but suffered in other areas and did
experimental car part-way across Germany
not win. For this year, Peugeot has added
to his last shareholders meeting as CEO,
hybrid features to make them even faster
accomplishing 238 US mpg. (0.9 l/100 km)
and more efficient.
Diesel engines can now be found in a Jagu-
Audi could not stand by idly; "We have
ar, Cadillac, BMW, even in the new Rolls-
gained so much experience with the V12
Royce and Bentley, and of course, in the
diesel that we could contemplate making
best models of Audi and Volkswagen.
the same power with 10 cylinders rather
than 12," said Ulrich Baretzky, Audi’s engine
After more than thirty years experience in
boss. He added that the new R15 TDI racer
building diesel engines with 1 to 12 cylin-
included "many detailed technical solutions
ders, and racing in the Beetle TDI, Jetta TDI
never before seen on a sports prototype."
and other ‘Diesel Cup’ series in Europe and
Audi Sport boss Wolfgang Ullrich believes
America, the VW/Audi engineers were in-
that only the wheel nuts are the same as on
spired to go for something bigger: design a
the previous TDI racer; This explains why
diesel-powered racecar for the most de-
Audi did all of its testing in secret and why it
manding race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
had not unveiled the R15 TDI before last
After winning the ‘shake-down’ 12 Hours of
Sebring in 2006 and 2007, the Audi R10
TDI also won the two ’24 Hours’, as well as
the American Le Mans Series (ALMS)
championship, which includes Mosport near
This version was contemplated but not used
As a special surprise, Audi just announced
that a sports-film production company shot
a feature film for them at last year’s 24
Hours of Le Mans, titled ‘Truth in 24’. This
In 2008 Peugeot decided to challenge Audi
film will be shown tonight, March 20th, on
for the supremacy in diesel racing. Their
ESPN from 8-10 pm. People who have al-
ready seen the documentary, rate it as one
time.If someone you know is still not con-
of the top three racing films of all time.
vinced about speedy diesels, tell them this:
“Gale Banks Engineering' s Chevrolet S10
SPEED Chanel will [did] show the 12 Hours
Duramax diesel-powered pickup turned in a
of Sebring on Saturday, March 21st, 2009,
180-mph run in the quarter-mile.”
live from 10 a.m. till noon, and again later.
Or this: A four cylinder JCB tractor engine
European carmakers seem to adopt De-
was boosted and installed in a streamlined
troit’s long established motto: Win on Sun-
body. After initial trials it set a land speed
day, Sell on Monday — selling the notion of
record of 563 km/h — a four-cylinder diesel!
diesel economy and durability at the same
Testing — see JCB link for story.
What does Anheuser Busch beer and Diesel fuel have in common?
Let’s find out!
Diesels for marine and industrial use. Over
time, many municipalities and public utility
It has previously been stated here that, if
companies across America installed Busch-
you look for a connection between absolute-
Sulzer Diesels to generate electricity.
ly anything, you can find it. This one came
by a misstep. While trying to put together a
few headlines concerning Diesel, this little
story popped onto my screen: How the Die-
sel engine came to America; from chapter
26 of “Making Friends is our Business”,
100 years of Anheuser Busch, a book
from the 1950s.
We know that beer -in moderation- is not
adverse to ones health, and that bio-diesel
fuel is healthy for the environment. That’s
one commonality, and here is the other
connection between the brewery and the
Adolphus Busch was well established in the
brewing business more than one hundred
years ago. He also was open to new ideas
and to diversification.
It was at just about this time that Dr. Ru-
dolph Diesel had invented and patented the
efficient combustion process for engines that carry his name. In 1879 Rudolph Diesel
was working for the Swiss company Sulzer
Diesel engine built by MAN in 1906
Brothers Ltd., which manufactured weaving
looms. The Sulzer company bought certain
At the start of World War I the Navy De-
manufacturing rights from Diesel, and built
partment requested that Busch-Sulzer, as
their first Diesel engine five years after
“the only qualified company in America”,
agreements were made, in 1898.
build diesel engines for several types of
planned submarine boats. Again, during
In St. Louis, USA, Adolphus Busch also re-
WW II, the successful Busch-Sulzer Diesel
alized the potential of the Diesel engine,
Engine Company manufactured many types
and the advantages over steam engines. In
of Diesel engines for the Army, the Navy,
1897 he arranged for the American rights to
the Merchant Marine and for America’s war-
build Diesel engines.
time allies. After World War II, the company
was acquired by the Nordborg Manufactur-
Under Diesel’s guidance, Busch installed
ing Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
the first engine in the power plant of the An-
heuser Busch brewery one year later.
Under its newest structure, the Sulzer com-
pany now builds the largest ships engines in
The new company, Busch-Sulzer, created a
market for stationary engines and for large
As we have seen so far, it is a false belief
driven day and night for thousands of miles
that Diesel flourished only in Europe.
across the continent without frequent
In 1929, during the height of the depression,
Packard, one of the most revered American
The early Diesel engines digested a differ-
luxury car makers, used a Diesel engine to
ent ‘brew’. When Rudolph Diesel demon-
convince financial backers to continue sup-
strated his engine at the Paris Exhibition
porting the company. This saved Packard at
Fair in 1898, its liquid diet was peanut oil,
the “original” biodiesel. Most Diesels con-
sumed biomass fuel until the 1920s, just as
Also during these difficult times, Cummins
Henry Ford fed his early automobiles with
showed the quality of his truck-Diesel en-
gine by installing one in a Duesenberg, an-
other greatly admired luxury car, and setting
But once the international oil companies
a speed record at Daytona Beach.
had their way they began feeding fossil
fuels to the always thirsty automobile.
A truck with a similar Cummins engine went
"The old Diesel technology formed a lot of
cost to coast across the USA on $11.22
bad memories of smoky, smelly, clatter-trap
worth of fuel, another one covered 13,535
cars, and left a bad taste in the mouths of
miles around the Indianapolis Speedway, an
many," acknowledged Dieter Zetsche of
endurance record at the time.
DaimlerChrysler. EPA-mandated refining
methods have lowered smelly sulfur content
As diesel engines became lighter over time,
from 500 ppm to 15 parts per million. No
they found a place in passenger cars in Eu-
smoke and no smell will emanate from any
rope. Mercedes and Citroën both lay claim
Diesel engine in North America after Octo-
to building the first mass-produced passen-
ber 15 of 2006, allowing TDI and CDI
ger Diesel cars in 1935. Records lost during
equipped cars to show their true benefits.
the war have prevented a clarification of
which company actually was first.
Not enough that an Audi TDI Diesel racecar
won the Sebring 12 hour race and the 24
With the advent of the Interstate Highway
Hours of Le Mans, now the English earth-
System in America, and the Freeways in
moving-equipment company JCB will at-
Canada, Diesel trucks slowly but steadily
tempt a new land speed-record with its own
took over from the gasoline engine. Only the
engines in their Dieselmax streamliner.
more reliable Diesel could tolerate being
[see previous story]
This White truck still gulps gasoline.
Most of us started this way …
As the movement for green cars continues
many schools and day care centers in Hol-
to grow, so does the need for earth-friendly
land. A Lexan roof and removable side cur-
tains keep kids warm and dry in all weather.
One protection bar for each bench (as in
Consider pedal cars!
amusement park rides) is much more con-
venient than individual safety belts.”
I was unaware of these modern day devel-
opments in junior transportation; my intent
was to write about “real” pedal cars for chil-
Green 1905 steel & wood pedal car - really green
You probably know that thousands of taxis
in China and India are still pedal-powered;
Pedi-cabs they call them. School ‘buses’ in
developing countries are enlarged rick-
shaws, carrying eight students and the bus
One hundred and some years ago, when
driver, nee pedal pusher.
automobiles started to make appearances
on town and village streets, children also
wanted to drive cars to imitate their parents.
showed police ticketing a car on a main
An industry willing to oblige youngsters
street in downtown Toronto during rush-
came into existence. Simple pretend-cars,
hour. As it turned out, the 1986 Buick Regal
basic like the real vehicles during those
had no engine. Artist Michel de Broin had
times, were offered for sale to parents trying
stripped the car bare and installed four
to please their kids.
seats and bicycle gears connected to the
drive axle. Four of the Canadian artist’s
friends took the car for a joyride, but police
did not perceive the witty part of the exer-
cise and had the pedal car towed away.
In Holland, kindergartens, child care cen-
ters, camps, resorts and the like can pur-
chase a new pedal powered school bus, a
KDV (Kinder Dag Verblijf) from the DeRed-
ding firm for €2950. It is reported that “The KDV carries up to 8 children economically,
safely and extremely happily. Linkage-
steered for stability, and built solidly from
the finest materials for years of trouble-free
use. The KDV is used instead of a bus by
As automobile styles matured, so did the
fect blue print for such a spectacular project.
pedal cars. Harley Earl, General Motors’
first actual designer, also lent his talent to
The Audi pedal car made its debut at the
sketching cars for customers still too young
Paris Motor Show in 2006, where some
to drive the real ones. The toy industry ex-
show visitors were ready to buy the proto-
panded and flourished before the Second
type right there and pedal it home. The
World War and recuperated again during
Type C Pedal car is made out of over 900
separate parts, is scaled at 1:2 from the
original and is entirely made by Audi, keep-
Over time, consumers became more so-
ing in line with their slogan "designed by
phisticated and aware of potential dangers
Audi, produced by Audi".
of certain products. Sharp metal edges of
pedal cars cut many a tiny finger, and by
and by this industry all but vanished.
Today, plastic recreations and new models
are a much safer choice. Antique metal toy
cars have become collector’s items for
grown-ups and are offered at prices that
would put some used cars to shame.
As you can witness on today’s highways
and byways, we also like to recall earlier
times by driving so-called retro cars. The
Chrysler PT Cruiser and the Chevrolet HHR
(Heritage High Roof) have taken major de-
sign elements from the time before World
Photo courtesy of Audi
War II and used them to good effect.
Many pedal cars are available at various
Clever marketing people find a willing buyer
for almost anything that can be produced.
At this time no other car manufacturer offers
a pedal car, nor one built so elaborately and
Proud of their history, and also to have a
to such a high standard.
break from designing new models and fabri-
cating proto types, the people at Audi’s ad-
How did Audi stumble upon this idea? "We
vanced car studio recreated one of their
needed a highlight for our collection which
most famous pre-war cars, the Auto Union
conveys the brand message and, at the
Silver Arrow Type C, in miniature as a pedal
same time, is spectacular enough to find
car. The company’s press release states:
buyers," says Katharina Wicker, Head of
Audi design – Lifestyle Articles. And this is
”This car is something real y special", says
how the idea came about to design a pedal
Hubert Waltl, Head of Audi Toolmaking.
car that mirrors the company's heritage at
This limited edition car has an aluminum
first sight. The pedal car will therefore be an
body, handcrafted leather trim and an ex-
exhibition piece for grown-up fans too”.
The original Auto Union Type C made histo-
ry in 1936 by gathering ten Grand Prix victo-
In case you did not tell your kids or grand-
ries. The Type C also happens to be one of
children about this, and were disappointed
the company's all time best-selling miniature
by the article, this should make up for it.
models, making this particular car the per-
What’s in a name? Phaeton, Landau and Coupé were horse carriages
The very meaning of Volkswagen, “peoples
that, and Ford was the biggest car company
car”, seems to suggest that a VW is a car
in the world at one time.
for the masses. But so was the ‘Model T’,
the first ‘car for the masses’. Ford built a
Why then is it that, when Volkswagen an-
reputation for low price, reliability, service-
nounced they would produce an SUV, even
ability, resale value and that hard to chart
the name caused objections. “Touareg”;
‘ brand recognition’.
how could anybody dare name a vehicle
after a proud tribe of African nomads? Many
After a time, Ford started building more
automotive magazines raised objections. —
powerful and more luxurious cars. Nobody
What about Aztec(k)?
had any objection when they could buy a
Ford with a powerful V8 engine, and the
Teutonic perseverance prevailed.
public did not protest when somebody on
the other side of town started driving a luxu-
In Germany, the Touareg has become a big
ry Ford, a Continental.
seller, especially with the economic five-
After gaining admiration by European auto-
motive journalists, the Touareg is now col-
lecting more and more international awards,
from Australia to Zimbabwe and in between.
The Volkswagen newcomer succeeded
against two dozen other competitors and
became ‘SUV of the year’. According to one
jury, "every manufacturer of off-road vehi-
cles should dismantle a Touareg and find
out how it works, to be sure that some good
Phaetons have been around seemingly forever: Benz 1906
lessons can be learnt from it."
Volkswagen also started with one model.
Seven million more Beetles were produced
Maybe a company with such a common, or
than the next ‘most popular’ car. And while
better, ‘folksy’ name as Volkswagen has to
the Beetle was still in production, its young-
try harder. And they did: They prepared a
er brother ‘Golf’ already surpassed it in
“Race-Touareg” for the ‘mother of all rallies’,
numbers. The fifth generation of the VW
the Paris to Dakar marathon of 11,000 km.
Golf came to market just recently, and al-
Although a first time participant, VW’s SUV
ready it is the most-sold car in Europe
placed first in one stage, giving notice of
again, even before reaching full production
their intention for next year’s event.
Another outcry was heard when the ‘peo-
How many more millions of one model
ple’s car’ people announced a luxury car:
should a company produce before advanc-
Phaeton. How could VW possibly build an
ing to a larger or different type of automo-
extravagant car, and on top of it name it af-
bile? What is wrong with starting with a
ter a body-style from a by-gone era? How
small, inexpensive, high quality product and
could they! When another car company
improving continually, leaving every other
started selling a ‘Landau’, (also a body style
make in its class behind?
from the time of the horse-drawn carriage),
—— nobody voiced any concern.
As everyone knows, the ‘Model T’ did just
And what about the term Coupe or Spyder?
Less than forty years ago Audi started build-
ing cars again, similar to the first VW Golf;
now experts listen to Audi when it comes to
technology or luxury; will they revive
’Horch’, another magnificent make of the
Toyota has a long history of producing ex-
traordinary cars for ordinary people; their
Lexus has become the measure of luxury.
They say that the love of luxury is a human
Chrysler Phaeton concept of 1967
attribute that goes beyond the borders of
geography, political beliefs, or conviction of
John E. Herlitz, Chrysler Corporation's Vice
faith. Humans are neurologically hard-wired
President of Product Design, said, "Phaeton
to seek improvement and, ultimately, luxury;
embraces and contemporizes elegant, clas-
so say sociologists. In other words, the
sic design cues from historic touring auto-
‘hunting and gathering’ of luxury cars seems
mobiles of the 1930s, 40s and 50s."
to be a human need.
Most everyone started with small cars that
It seems natural that the ‘big names’, Rolls
grew larger over time.
Royce, Maybach, Cadillac, Bugatti and
Bentley are flourishing and sprouting ever
Karl Benz started with a “three-wheeler”,
more cylinders; ten, twelve, sixteen, even
considered to be the first ‘real car’, before
eighteen cylinder engines with unheard-of
his company built everybody’s dream-car,
horsepower. And now, after most of us have
the Mercedes of today.
driven a V8, we strive for more cylinders;
which proves that we all are ‘only human’;
BMW made the Isetta when starting again
with our DNA striving for more power and
after World War II, and everybody longs to
comfort, not to exclude luxury.
drive a ‘Bimmer’ today.
Luxury car cus-
tomers are not only
willing to pay more;
they also change
quently. After all,
would YOU want to
drive a Rolls Royce
day in and day
Volkswagen’s flagship model: Phaeton
This tiny car made a huge contribution to automotive history
Few know his name, but everybody knows
rubber cone suspension, and had the mini-
the car he designed: The MINI.
car ready for production in early 1959.
Alec Issigonis was born in Turkey. As a
Talk about platform sharing: the MINI was teenager he and his family moved to Eng-built as the Morris Mini Minor and the Austin
land. He studied engineering and then
Seven. In later years the ‘luxurious’ Riley Elf
worked for Morris Motor Company, which
and Wolseley Hornet were added, and sta-
later joined with Austin to form the British
tion wagons, pickups, convertibles and jeep-
Motor Corporation (BMC).
type MINIs complement the basic sedan.
When the Suez crisis (the first oil crisis in
the mid 1950s) caused gasoline rationing,
BMC asked Issigonis to design an efficient small car that could carry four persons.
Cooper realized that the MINI had incredible
handling and road-holding. He increased
power from 34 to 55 hp, added tiny disc
brakes, and … watch out! A MINI-Cooper
wins Holland's Tulip Rally in 1962, driven by
Sterling Moss' sister Pat.
BMC hopes to sell a 1000 of the MINI-
Cooper - They sell over 150.000.
The MINI soon becomes an icon; the Beat-
les buy a MINI, so does King Hussein, Dud-
ley Moore and Steve McQueen; Enzo Ferra-
ri buys two.
After numerous rally class wins, the MINI
wins the Monte Carlo Rally outright in 1964
and repeats in 1965, 66 and 67.
He came up with numerous new ideas for
In 1965 the 1 millionth MINI rolls off the as-
an inexpensive, small car: He put the
sembly-line. BMC introduces a 4 speed au-
transmission and differential UNDER the
tomatic gearbox, keeps improving details,
engine and turned it sideways, creating a 4-
and the 3 millionth MINI leaves the factory
seater at 10 ft length. With his design phi-
in 1972 .
losophy ”Less is More”, he also invented a
After ten years production a new sporty edi-
Many automakers are preoccupied with
tion, the 1275 (cc) GT is added. Drivers
‘mini-cars’ as they plan their small-car pro-
such as James Hunt, Jackie Stewart, and
duction for the coming years. AutoPacific
Niki Lauda start their race-career in MINI-
analysts predict that, with rising fuel prices
the American ‘micro-car’ segment will grow
to around 250,000 vehicles annually within
Issigonis is knighted by Queen Elizabeth in
a few years.
1969 and lives as Sir Alec until 1988.
"The challenge other carmakers have to ac-
In 1986 the five millionth MINI is produced,
cept is that they need to develop small cars
and now runs on 12inch wheels and front
that people actually want to buy," stresses
George Peterson, president of the California
consulting firm, AutoPacific, Inc. “Tradition-
Now under control of Rover (separate from
ally”, he says, “small cars have been viewed
LandRover), the MINI and the Cooper get a
by manufacturers as a necessary, if often
1.3 l fuel injected 63hp (52 in a standard
unprofitable, part of the business”.
MINI) engine, including catalytic converter
to meet the emission demands of the
Over its long life, there were dozens of ver-
sions of the first MINI. Unprofitable? Why a
new version, then? The Beetle – unprofita-
The MINI is still on the rise during the nine-
ble? The Golf, the Corolla, the Civic –
ties. Two MINI magazines are started, al-
wouldn’t you like to have a slice of their ”un-
ready popular MINI Clubs grow by dozens
more, and even by the late nineties, there is
no stopping the MINI. That is, until BMW,
Is that enough to create a real market for
the new owner of Rover, decides the MINI
mini-cars? That's a question General Motors
needs a radical ‘make-over’, ending 40
is under pressure to answer. I think "car
years of production.
czar" Bob Lutz answered that for them. Un-
der his new product-design leadership the
small Pontiac Solstice show car received –
as reported- “unexpected” (by whom?) ap-
proval. Wake up GM!
Lutz now has several new, small cars in de-
velopment, sharing the same platform. (arti-
Meanwhile customers are clamoring for
MINIs; the more power, the better. The new
MINI Convertible will have 90 hp and the
MINI-Cooper 115 hp. The 163-hp Cooper S
will follow, and modifications can make 200
Just a few of the many Minis at Issigonis’ centenary rally in 2006
hp. Safety first – NEW MINI comes with
The MINI was final y replaced by the ‘New
standard four-wheel disc brakes, ABS, elec-
MINI’ at the Paris Auto Show in 2001.
tronic brake-force-distribution and corner-
For North-American drivers, supposedly,
bigger is better. Why, then, are fifty percent
Once upon a time bigger was better (really?
more customers striving to own a MINI than
seriously?), now smaller is smarter.
the factory can produce?
In one form or another still one of the most popular cars
Numerous books have been written about
than 22 million Beetles have been pro-
the VW ‘Beetle’, and nothing I write would
duced, I believe in 27 countries.
Nevertheless, it took Volkswagen until 1972,
But I would be ignoring a part of automotive
or all of 27 years, to pass the 15 million
history if I did not add my little piece about
Model Ts that Ford manufactured in just 19
this phenomenal car, which is living on in
the New Beetle.
No new Beetles were sold in North America
Efforts by European car makers to produce
since the late 70's. Its production ended in
a wagon for everyday folks, in the wake of
Europe in '78 and in Brazil in the 90's, when
the Model T’s amazing success, eventual y
the front-wheel-drive Golf (started as ‘Rab-
led to a contract for Ferdinand Porsche to
bit’ in 1974) took over from its predecessor.
design and develop such a ‘folks wagon’.
The rest, as they say, is history.
But Mexico still needed dependable, low-
cost transportation. The Beetle continued to
I clearly recall the first Volkswagens in the
roll of the assembly line there. Sales flour-
war-torn Germany of 1946, being a car buff
ished until many more Mexicans could af-
since an early age. Later, for my driving
ford to buy automobiles of more contempo-
test, I had to master the skill of double-
rary design. Beetles were used as taxis, po-
clutching, needed to smoothly shift gears in
lice cars, delivery vans, and basic family
a non-synchronized transmission. I also re-
transport. At last, in July 2003, ‘Herbie’ re-
member that, when driving through a forest
tired after a very ‘ inventful’ life at age 69.
on a cool morning, the oxygen–rich air of-
fered the under-powered Beetle a noticea-
ble power boost.
Like the steering-wheel, the Beetle’s basic
shape has never changed. When improve-
ments to the body were made, the adver-
tisment would ask, for example: “How many
of the 22 body changes can you detect?”
As one ad explained, VW asked a famous
Italian auto designer to suggest improve-
ments to the first Beetle’s shape. After care-
fully studying the unique shape, the design-
Ying & Yang the VW way
er admitted he could only recommend one
change: enlarge the rear window. This mi-
To real y appreciate this ‘antique’ car’s ver-
nor ‘tweaking’ altered the car’s features on
satility, remember that its platform and pow-
er-train was used by the VW “Transporter”,
as a ‘Microbus’ and a pickup – even with a
Technical improvements were incorporated
time and again, and duly publicized. Con-
stant upgrading kept new Beetles rolling off
In reality, VW had the first Mini-Van. Had
the assembly lines and into showrooms
Volkswagen named it such, automotive his-
everywhere - 1,000,000 in 1955, 2 million in
tory would need to be re-written.
‘57, 3 mil in ‘59, 4 mil in ’60. Al told, more
The original Porsche also used the Beetle’s
simple, yet ingenious shape lives on in the
underpinnings, and later the stunning Kar-
New Beetle, as a beautiful convertible as
mann-Ghia. Earlier, Herbie had gotten his
well. A modern design front engine / front-
feet wet in the ‘Schwimmwagen’, then went
wheel-drive platform, shared with the Golf,
off-road in the form of the ‘Kübelwagen’.
replaces the air-cooled rear engine/drive.
Dunebuggies were also based on the same
(more on platform sharing in an upcoming
structure. Even a single-seater, open-wheel
article). Astonishingly, the Golf has already
racing class, Formula V, uses the Beetle’s
surpassed the 22+ million Beetles pro-
Numerous so-called replicars, Kit-Cars, also
Such has been the improvement in materi-
use the Beetle platform as their base plat-
als, components, systems, handling and
form to this day.
safety, that the Beetle’s younger brothers
can now safely be driven (or raced) with en-
gines in the mid two-hundred horsepower,
in the RSi, GTI or R32.
A long way from the twenty four ponies that
“powered” my first drive.
For those of us who absolute need more
VW information, here we go ….
Volkswagen history in 5 minute videos
One — or two? Volkswagen(s) in a parade by AMS
Over time, Herbie became an accomplished
movie star as well, performing in Walt Dis-
ney films, as well as in documentaries, ac-
tion films, and unforgettable, award winning
One such ad showed a warm, cozy home,
while outside a typical Canadian snowstorm
rages. The front door opens and a man,
dressed in winter clothing, struggles out
against the blizzard’s fury. As he does, a
voice-over announcer says, "ever wonder
how the man who drives a snowplow gets to
the snowplow?" At that moment the man
weird and wonderful beetle bugs at:
steps into a Beetle, barely visible through
the snowstorm. The typical sound of the air-
cooled engine starting up is heard, and the
“VW” on one hubcap is seen as the car
Since 1997, after more than five years of
development, the ‘New Beetle’ now reminds
KG0 a funny ‘beetle’ video advertisement us of times gone by. The original Beetle’s
Duesenberg, the ultimate American luxury car
Lavish, luxurious and powerful automobiles
lowed the famed Beetle, and the audacious
are experiencing glory days again. Isn’t it
Audi A8L can almost hold the diminutive A1
nice to dream?
in its trunk.
Rolls Royce has a new model; a convertible
Back here in the new world, Cadillac crafted
and an extra-long version are being devel-
a concept of a huge ‘Sixteen’ ultra-luxury
car, and is still pondering possible produc-
Bentley has several new models and cannot
build them fast enough.
And now comes word of another serious
attempt to reincarnate one of the most fa-
These names are familiar, others not so.
mous of all: Duesenberg.
Many once famous names fell victim to the
great depression, others to WWII: Auburn,
August and Fritz Duesenberg, bicycle mak-
ers in Iowa in 1900, became interested in
Packard and others.
something a little faster: the newest fad –
auto-buggies. One thing led to another, and
the brothers –sounds familiar?- got hooked
In the 1910s they met with success; in 1921
they won the French Grand Prix, the first
time an American manufacturer had entered
such a race, and that did not happen again
until the 1960s. The Duesenbergs were vic-
torious at the Indy 500 in 1921, when, for
the first time in racing history, they fitted four
hydraulically operated drum-brakes on their
Concours d’Elegance winning Duesenberg Torpedo
racecar. They repeated their Indianapolis
victory in 1922 and ’24.
As times turned, attempts were made to
resurrect some of these makes. In the Es-
When the by now famous ‘D’ became part
quire issue of December 1963, Virgil M.
of the Auburn-Cord Group, new models for
Exner, a preeminent stylist of the time, pre-the 1930s were launched: the superlative
sented the design-suggestions for the "Re-
models J, SJ, and SSJ.
vival Cars". Without financing from the ‘ma-
jors’ the attempt failed.
“They are a Duesy.” That figure of speech is
attributed to the Duesenberg, but it can be
Overseas, Bugatti struggled along, failed,
traced back to much earlier times: English
was revitalized and failed again. Only now,
slang as early as the 1830s used the name
owned by Europe’s largest auto maker, is
of the flower daisy to express something of
Bugatti coming to market again. Maybach,
high quality, such as a horse: “She is a real
under the wing of DaimlerChrysler, made a
daisy.” And then came a stunning Italian
comeback in the new century, trying to out-
actress by the name of Eleonora Duse,
do Rolls Royce in opulence and power.
whose fame had spread worldwide even
Even familiar makes, and formerly everyday
before her first appearance in New York in
ones, try to overshadow mighty Mercedes.
1893. Writes Michael Quinon in his excel-
The tiny BMW Isetta bubble car spawned
lent website for word geeks, worldwide-
the ‘Big Bimmer’, the fabulous Phaeton fol-
words.org: “Something Dusey was clearly
“These posh, stylish automobiles wil be
excellent of its kind, and it is very likely that
based on the Mercedes-Benz CL 500. Pow-
it and daisy became amalgamated in peo-
er will come from an air-cooled, super-
ple’s minds to create a new term.”
charged V12 power plant with 300 horse-
Regardless of the spelling.
power. It is likely that the suspension of the
vehicle will be provided by the new linear
electromagnetic motor system from Bose,
world renowned for other quality products.”
Declares Dave Hartje, who owns the
Duesenberg marque: “It’s definitely happen-
It’s unquestionably not a ‘replicar’, but it wil
carry enough distinctive Duesenberg styling
elements to clearly identify its heritage.
Claims one of the principals, Ian Foo: “We
still need a hand-built ultra-luxury car.”
Yeah, wouldn’t you like to win the lottery?
Back to the future: Engage automotive artist
That would be a duesy.
Jeff Teague, who was a senior stylist at
Mitsubishi, and who showed his talent at
Ford with the sensational Taurus and Mer-
cury Sable in 1984. After a turn as chief de-
signer at Volkswagen, Teague opened his
own studio. He has now immersed himself
in the revival of the Duesy with a drop-dead
gorgeous sculpture of an automobile.
Teague Design Inc, together with other
companies, is planning to handcraft a small
A Tomahawk / Viper-like bike is also envisioned
number of the Duesenberg ‘Torpedo Coupé’
from 2007 on.
Duesenberg Model J
Duesenbergs are considered the Rolls Royce of the Americas. An occasional one being sold at an auction will go for between 2 and 3 million dollars.
Talk-show host Jay Leno has more than one Duesenbeg among his extensive car collection. An interesting story in Popular Mechanics decribes the efforts that car collectors are willing to make to refurbish their prized posession.
Check out the story of Jay Leno’s Duesen-
berg collection and his garage.
An automobile with a history like none other
Just relax and imagine ….
cause few people remember this famous
You are a car fanatic and you’ve won the
marque from before World War II.
lottery. Big time. Your business is as profit-
able as before, but you bought the premises
Wilhelm Maybach was Gottlieb Daimler’s
you had leased until ‘t hat day’. You invested
chief engineer and designed the first Mer-
wisely, and the surplus pays for all you
cedes, even before the company merged
could ever wish for.
with Karl Benz. Years later he left Daimler-
Benz, and with his son Karl founded their
You built a new house with a separate barn
own ‘Motor-Works’, constructing aircraft en-
as hobby-workshop /garage for enough ve-
hicles, so you don’t have to drive the same
car twice in a week.
From 1921 to 1941 Maybach produced leg-
endary automobiles, famous for their quality
Your family has a luxury SUV, your wife can
in engineering and materials. After the war
pick the Mercedes or the Chrysler 300C for
the company’s production changed to large
shopping trips. Your two children can swap
industrial engines, and in 1960 Maybach
the Mini Cooper S, the Golf GTI, the hybrid
became part of Daimler-Benz again.
Prius or the cool Element to drive to school.
You like to drive the Explorer or the F-150
“When the firm, now DaimlerChrysler, de-
pickup to the “store”. For out-of-town trips
cided to produce an ultra-luxury automo-
there is the BMW or the Lexus. Going to the
bile”, Boni continues, “they already had a
club or to visit friends you and your wife pick
distinguished name and emblem, the two
between the Porsche, the Cadillac XLR, the
Corvette and the stylish Murano.
“Actual y, today’s Maybach is based on the
But what to drive on the weekend?
long version of the last-generation Mer-
cedes S-class, but the body is much more
A little more pampering after a hard work-
aerodynamic, with barely any wind-noise”.
week would be nice. But you don’t want to
show off in a Rolls-Royce. You don’t want to
“Make yourselves comfortable on the sofa”,
waste time waiting for a Bugatti sedan, the
Sam went on. “As you both know, each
Cadillac Sixteen, a come-back Duesenberg
Maybach is built to order, so I’l show you a
or possibly a Horch.
short video of your car’s construction-
sounds ok. Last year’s investment earnings
screen; perhaps you have a favorite purse
should cover that; Let’s do it.
or dress, madam, we could match the tones
to compliment that. When you’ve made that
Arrangements are made at the big city’s MB
decision, folks, I’l print out a poster for you.
dealership; “That’s fine, your Maybach Rela-
tionship Manager will meet you in our new
Later, Sam presents your wife a hard-cover
Maybach studio next door tomorrow after-
catalogue with sample-chips of fine wood-
veneer squares, leather swatches and
paintwork samples. A coffee-table book of
Sam Boni meets you and your wife as you
the Maybach history is included, as well as
arrive and offers refreshments. After intro-
a booklet on the new-edition model. The
ductions and a few pleasantries he starts:
pouch on the inside back cover contains
“Let me first tell you about our history, be
CDs with a copy of the video you saw, and
system allowing simultaneous viewing of a
also of the printed material”.
VHF-TV program, a video on the other
screen – each wearing wireless head-
“You both appear familiar with fine automo-
speakers - and your choice of music at the
biles; you know what you want”, Sam Boni
front with six-disc CD.”
concluded, after discussing the bi-turbo V12
engine, the six-speed-automatic’s features
“You will most likely need several days to go
(capable to out-run a Porsche Carrera), and
over the printed and recorded material
explaining the computerized air-suspension
again”, Sam said on parting. “When you
and the ‘Adaptive Damping System’ with
have made all the little choices, mail me the
driver-selectable settings to change spring
details and ask your bank manager to send
and damper calibrations.
me the $50k deposit we discussed. It’l take
about another six months until your car will
Sam meticulously explains the only options:
be delivered to you in its container, and I’l
the liquid-crystal electro-transparent roof
be there to go over everything with your
panel and the roof-mounted solar module
powering a cabin ventilation system.
“If you are in Europe again in the meantime,
By this time you both are familiar with the
let me know”, Sam added, “I’l arrange to
four-zone automatic climate system, the
have a Mercedes at the airport for you, and
standard rear reclining seats with internal
you can inspect your Maybach under con-
heating, cooling and massage and electric
struction. — Talk to you soon”.
“Your children will be impressed with the
The ultimate automobile – before World War II, and again at
the turn of the Millennium
Maybach’s DVD player with two screens in
the front seatbacks, and the three-program-
Admiring and desiring a sixty year old beauty
This shapely, well-rounded, almost sixty-
small-diameter tubing would have been
year-old turns heads wherever she appears:
weakened by deep cut-outs for normally
shaped doors; instead, part of the roof was
cut out of the fairly low car to gain a suffi-
As an avid car fan, you undoubtedly know
ciently large opening to enter.
about the 1950s’ Mercedes-Benz 300SL
with the funny doors, looking like a seagull
The ‘Gullwing’ is considered one of the all-
about to take flight.
time masterpieces of styling and engineer-
ing. Like today’s Ferrari ‘Enzo’, it was a
Emulated by DeLorean and the Canadian
racecar made for the road. It started life by
Bricklin sportscars, the 300SL’s doors
winning the ‘Twenty-four Hours of Le Mans’
turned out this way by necessity. The car’s
and the Carrera Panamericana in Mexico in
space-frame, made up of a multitude of
the early 1950s.
Canada in the early 1960s, we used Toron-
Max Hoffman, the New York importer who
to’s then-new, and not yet open to the public
also brought the Volkswagen Beetle to
Don Valley Parkway to road-test the SLs at
America, convinced Mercedes to build a
speeds that would get you hand-cuffed to-
production version; the rest, as they say, is
day. I don’t know if I ever drove Pierre El iot
history: in 1954 the 300SL was introduced.
Trudeau’s roadster –he was still an un-
known at the time, but Oscar Peterson was
Working as a technician at Mercedes-Benz
already on his way to fame as a musician; I
drove his SL whenever I had serviced it – or
To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the
is it ‘Her’?
300SL, Mercedes is now offering a twenty-
first century version, which they named
When one of these automotive icons needs
SLR. This car is as remarkable as the origi-
to be restored now, they are shipped to a
nal, for several reasons: McLaren, the race-
Small shop near Peterborough, Ontario,
car builder, is producing the vehicles and
where a World Champion Restorer (he
will only make a total of 3500 over a five
earned that title) works his magic on rare
year period. The first two years’ production
and cherished classics. As he told me once,
have already been sold, at about $ 400.000
he cornered that part of the market by thor-
each, with little more than the show car and
ough research and a clever business move,
a few promises from Mercedes; such is the
which was costly at the time, but is paying
faith of this class of customer in Mercedes.
off now; He bought all remaining original
interiors A ‘good condition’ Gullwing is
worth a quarter of a million dollars today.
During my time at their headquarters I wit-
Benz. Components are fastened to the car-
nessed one well-to-do Gullwing owner sign
bon-fiber passenger cell. Chassis parts are
and hand over a blank cheque for the sen-
also molded in extremely strong plastic ma-
sational C111 experimental car – “I hope
terial, as are suspension parts, the seats
they make them before I’m too old to enjoy
and body panels.
driving them”. That model was never pro-
duced, though, - to the chagrin of pundits.
Like the show car prototype, the 2005 pro-
duction SLR uses components from the
Another reason the new SLR is remarkable,
McLaren F1 design. As wel , the SLR’s face
is that it is fabricated of composite plastics
gives away its family connection with the
as explained in the article about ‘fantastic
Formula One by integrating the wing into
plastic’. Yes, a “plastic” car from Mercedes-
the gril . On this ‘street car’ the vehicle’s
front shape is as functional as on a competi-
torque and 617 HP. They also report that
tion car: creating down-force and channel-
Mercedes engineers have put considerable
ing air to the engine and disk-brakes, which
effort into tuning the sound of the engine,
are also made of plastic.
making it conform to European limitations,
yet letting the ‘sound and fury’ of this super-
Another unusual feature of the SLR is its
car come to the fore.
engine placement at the front. Most super-
cars these days are ‘mid-engined’, with the
One item on the SLR bothers me: by giving
engine mounted right behind the two seats.
the new car ‘scissors doors’, opening partly
The SLR follows the form of a classic GT,
upward and partly forward, Mercedes
with a long hood, contrary to the ‘cab-
missed the potential greatness that the orig-
forward’, short overhang style of most other
inal Gullwing attained.
high performance cars seen today.
[They took the advice, and the new version
Journalists who have already driven the
is shown on the second page of this article]
SLR, claim that the acceleration of the 1693
kg car compares with a catapult launch off
Regardless, I am not too old to enjoy driving
an aircraft carrier, thanks to the super-
this car either; anyone offering that drive?
charged 5.4 liter V8 engine with 575 lb-ft of
These two photos show the earlier version –
SLR- with so-called scissors doors, opening forward and up. It was developed by
Mercedes–AMG is doing the newer model -
SLS- with Gullwing doors. It will be available with either a supercharged V8 engine or as
the E-Cell electric vehicle with 4 motors of a combined 525 hp.
Self-proclaimed “expert” slams promising new type of car
Ralph Nader was absolutely, totally, wrong.
tight corner, the car's suspension configura-
tion was prone to oversteer (loose in NAS-
He caused the extinction of the Corvair, a
CAR terms), a problem shared, incidentally,
most promising, distinctive car.
by the early Porsche 911, which had an al-
most identical suspension, as well as an air-
General Motors used the same construction
cooled, rear-mounted engine, just like the
principles as the successful Volkswagen
Beetle and the Porsche, in their answer to
fledgling imports, when they developed an
However, the more expensive Porsches
entirely new-to-America way of building
cars; a North American ‘peoples
tended to be driven by more experienced
drivers who knew how to counter-steer and
keep steady pressure on the throttle when
It was all new and different: a body and
the car began to oversteer during cornering
frame as one welded-together ‘ unibody’, a
— whereas the typical Corvair driver, with
lightweight aluminum air-cooled engine,
little or no experience driving high-
mounted at the rear of a car with independ-
performance cars, would do what seemed
ent suspension, with designed-in front and
natural, and let off the gas, making the prob-
rear ‘ crumple zones’ for increased safety.
lem much worse.” End of quote.
Sounds like a Porsche — exactly.
Quoting from the book ‘Historic Muscle
Cars’: “The Corvair's handling was excep-
tional for its day — unprecedented at that
time for an American car. Crisp steering
made it extremely nimble and highly ma-
neuverable. Compared to the American
(and many European) cars of the period, the
Corvair was agile and athletic”.
But it was these very qualities that inadvert-
ently led to the car's now-historic reputation
Corvair unibody, drive-train and suspension components;
as an evil-handling and "dangerous" ride.
Illustration from CORSA – see note at the end.
Chevrolet made considerable improvement
to the Corvair’s handling, but Nader’s
book ”Unsafe at any speed” had already
done irreversible damage to this promising
At just about this time the Mustang ap-
peared, and Americans’ hunger for horse-
This car looks safe and modern – even in 2011 -GM Archive
power preferred V8 muscle cars — gasoline
was still cheap.
Driven normally, [click, and read the comment by the NHTSA in paragraph three] the Corvair was
Corvair ‘ firsts’, such as the unibody con-
no more prone to loss of control than any
struction, independent suspension and alu-
other car of its time. However, when driven
minum-alloy engine, have become com-
aggressively, especially if thrown hard into a
monplace in new car design.
Now, imagine what could have happened, if
911 up-to-date in styling, technology and in
Nader’s so-called automotive experts had
manufacturing quality and durability.
gotten their hands on a Porsche — beyond
The newest version has the PASM option or
"Porsche Active Suspension Management."
The Porsche 911, and the Type 356 before
This lets you drive to work with a ‘sedan
it, have won more trophies than Nader got
suspension feeling’. With the flick of a
votes during several attempts at the Presi-
switch the dampers stiffen up, the car drops
almost half an inch and the electronic safety
features let you ‘hang the back out’ a little
Porsches have become the aspiration of
drivers around the world, thanks to being
safe at any speed.
This neat little ‘trophy shopping cart’ comes
in four body styles: Coupe, Targa, Cabriolet
My first drive in a ‘356’ came when my fa-
(convertible) and Speedster. The Coupe is
ther’s friend let me try his pride and joy –
the 'standard' style, the Targa is like a
alone, while still a teenager. This model be-
Coupe but has a roll bar and a removable
came a huge success as a sportscar, even
before its famous successor.
Back to Nader — as they say, “a little
The 911 has been with us for forty years
knowledge is a dangerous thing”, and his
now. The unmistakable, easy to recognize
“experts are people who know a lot about
body shape was designed by Ferdinand Al-
very little”. Certainly very little about cars!
exander "Butzi" Porsche, the ‘Professor’s
grandson. Another grandson, Ferdinand
How wrong they were. Some experts !!!
Piech, who later was in charge of the
Volkswagen Group, developed the equally
The Beetle, nicknamed the baby Corvair,
unmistakable sounding “boxer-type”, flat six
proved Nader wrong 21 million times, and
Porsche’s winning ways don’t wane.
More than a quarter of a million have been
built in about fifty variations. Early models
used an engine of 2.0 liters capacity which
has grown to almost four liters over time.
More power produces more heat, and the
latest engines are now water-cooled.
The little company has built a reputation for
reliable high-performance cars that can win
a race on Sunday and be used to go shop-
ping during the week.
Less extreme in shape than its competitors,
variants of the Porsche 911 have won en-
durance races around the world, won the
Frequent winner ‘Yenko Stinger’ Corvair ‘hanging out the
‘Paris to Dakar’ extreme rally two times and
back?’ –NOT- Handling looks absolutely neutral.
Don Yenko photo
the ‘24 Hours of Le Mans’ no less than six-
Note: The website of The Corvair Society of America (CORSA) offers 445 pages of valuable Corvair information, over 1,000 pictures, and links to 200 other
Continuous improvements have kept the
Corvair sites; a real treasure trove.
A V12 engine is so run of the mill
Cadillac's tradition is rich in style and quali-
‘Sixteen’ refers to the 16-cylinder, 1000-
ty. This will continue with vehicles as solid, horsepower engine. Cadillac gained a mys-dynamic and beautifully designed as any-
tifying reputation during the '30s because of
thing ever done before. The Cadil ac ‘Six-
the industry's first V-16 engine. Today, the
teen’ concept car is an indication of this new
engine bay really pays tribute to the V-16,
era. “The Sixteen is a modern interpretation
said Wayne Cherry, GM's vice president of
of everything that made Cadillac the stand-
design. It's like a setting for a diamond,
ard of the world and can again”, said Robert
clean and simple. The under-hood was de-
Lutz, GM vice chairman for product devel-
signed with the same care and attention as
opment and chairman of GM North America.
the interior. The engine compartment, with
its sculpted design, has drama. Hinged
about a center spine that runs the length of
the expansive hood, it makes an event out
of opening the power-operated hood panels
of the engine bay.
The concept car’s 32-valve V-16 engine
displaces 13.6 liters and features fuel-
saving DOD (Displacement on Demand)
technology. This allows the engine to run on
four, eight or all 16 cylinders, as needed, to
save fuel. During a recent test-drive from
Cadillac advertisement of the 1930s Detroit to California, the engine operated on
eight cylinders 65 percent of the time, four
Since General Motors persuaded Bob Lutz
cylinders 30 percent of the time and the full
to interrupt his retirement, he has trans-
16 only 5 percent of the time. Average fuel
formed the thinking at GM of what a car
economy was 11.8 l/100 km.
should look like, in order to create passion
among car buyers again. Several models
DOD will debut on some 2005 GM models,
coming to market during the next few years
wil prove that a single ‘car guy’ can infl
shutting down cylinders during most driving
ence a manufacturer’s fortunes more than a
conditions and automatically and seamless-
ly reactivating them for more demanding
committee of marketers and accountants
conditions, such as brisk acceleration or
did in the recent past.
The ‘Sixteen’ will be to our time what the
Describing such a splendid vehicle from car-
Rolls Royce was during the last century.
show memory and pictures, I find myself at
Quoting the manufacturers of the concept-
a loss for words; I’l let the eloquent prose of
car, General Motors and the Alcoa alumi-
num company: “In form, power and op
the marketing professionals from GM con-
tinue: “As an exterior statement, the Six-
lence, the Cadillac Sixteen embodies the
teen's proportional composition is bold. The
timeless qualities of an exceptionally luxuri-
aluminum hood is long, giving the car tre-
ous super-sedan with its sleek, gemstone
mendous dash-to-axle dimension; the wheel
appearance. The rear-wheel-drive Sixteen
arches were designed to accommodate the
brings forth the exclusivity and grandeur of
beautiful 24-inch polished aluminum wheels.
the custom-built Fleetwood coach cars of
The four-door hardtop incorporates an all-
the 1930s for today's generation of exceed-
glass roof and is without B-pillars. [between
ingly well-heeled customers of discerning
front and rear doors] Crisp-edged lines of
the midnight silver aluminum body panels
structure provide substantial weight ad-
accentuate the Cadillac Sixteen's striking
vantages for the 140”-wheelbase automo-
bile. Steering all four of the huge wheels
enhances the 223-inch-long giant’s maneu-
“The interior is a pure expression of design,
said Cherry. Premium materials in luxury
refinement are fine woods, precision-cut
“This car offers premier refinement and
metals and crystal. They've all been com-
craftsmanship, said Cherry. Its ultra-
bined and balanced in harmony in the Six-
contemporary technical detailing is evident
teen. The hand-stitched, Tuscany leather
throughout. The Sixteen's exterior propor-
upholstered seats nestle the occupants. The
tions and its superb, handcrafted interior try
right rear seat features power adjustable
to recall the splendor of the hand-built cus-
slope to recline like a chaise-lounge. Warm,
tom car era. The prototype’s proportions
hand-woven silk carpets the floor in a light
were crafted with great attention to detail
color that matches the leather upholstery.
and homage to classic design, said Brian
The dash, door panels, and front and rear
Smith, exterior designer. The Sixteen is be-
consoles are trimmed with walnut burl ve-
fitting of the great Cadillac tradition as the
standard of the world.
“The lighting is architectural, enhancing the
I could not agree more; and I would be ex-
mood and desirability of the Sixteen's interi-
cited to see a Sixteen on the street at any
or space, complementing its shapes and
time. - I bet you would be too.
colors, said Eric Clough, interior designer.
Technique combines with technology for a
sophisticated, pampered ambience.
“The extensive use of aluminum compo-
nents, and an aluminum-steel chassis-
General Motors picture
Charging ahead to living better - electrically
"Never in my 40-year career have I been as
Suspicious minds had been wondering why
excited about something as I am about the
General Motors awarded development con-
Volt project”, said Robert Lutz at the recent
tracts in December of 2006 to two compa-
North American International Auto Show
nies for automotive lithium-ion batteries.
(NAIAS) in Detroit [in January 2007]. Lutz is
The ‘General’ had no electric vehicle that
General Motors’ Chairman of Product De-
needed such an energy storage unit. Practi-
cal minds had been wondering why the
Honda or Toyota had not yet developed a
The ‘Volt’ is General Motors’ new electric
‘plug-in hybrid electric vehicle’ (PHEV).
vehicle (EV) concept, named E-flex.
Numerous electrical experts have recently
The publicity about the movie “Who Kil ed
modified their HEV with additional batteries
the Electric Car” had just faded away, when
to extend the driving distance on ‘green
General Motors reinCARnated their EV.
power’. At night, they plug in the battery
charger to fil up the ‘electric tank’ again.
Volt was THE sen-
sation at NAIAS.
covered it for sev-
about it for months
Why all the hype?
Because it is not
introduces a new
and Toyota pio-
hybrid electric ve-
hicles a few years
ago. Volkswagen and Audi offer their 1000+
km-per-tank diesel engines. DaimlerChrys-
Now, the word is out: Chevrolet will produce
ler is now advancing clean, ‘green’, frugal
plug-in hybrids. The Volt is the first true ‘se-
‘BlueTec’ diesel engines in certain Mer-
ries hybrid’. Until now, ‘parallel hybrids’
cedes, Jeep and smart models. This is pos-
used an electric motor to assist the smallish
sible in the wake of the recent introduction
engine - or vice versa - on take-off or on
of Ultra-low sulphur diesel-fuel in North
A 160-horsepower electric motor drives the
Concerns about global warming and dwind-
front-wheel-drive Volt, giving 0-100 km/h
ling petroleum reserves are placing a new
acceleration of 8.5 seconds and a theoreti-
urgency on the development of even more
cal range of 640 miles. Nothing but an elec-
efficient and environment-friendly automo-
tric motor turns the Volt’s wheels, from the
energy stored in the battery pack. The car's
computer-controls monitor the state of
charge (SOC). When it is down to 30% of its
gasoline, would result in the equivalent of
capacity, a generator, driven by a small
150 mpg overall, amounting to 525 miles
three-cylinder engine, starts automatically to
per gallon of gasoline in the Chevy Volt. He
recharge the battery. When the battery has
notes that even if the owner forgets to plug
reached 80% of its capacity, the charging
the car in at night to recharge the battery
stops; this, GM says, assures that the lithi-
pack, the car will still get an estimated 50
um–ion batteries can be cycled (charged
mpg while the generator recharges the bat-
and discharged) more than four-thousand
times; they will be guaranteed for 10 years.
Without converting from the American
The engine driving the generator runs at a
measurements, which would result in une-
steady speed of 3200 revolutions per mi-
ven numbers, the math works this way: On
nute (RPM), no matter what your right foot
a 60-mile round trip every day to work, 40 of
is doing. At this constant speed there is no
those miles can be driven on the battery
need for fancy engine management soft-
only. The other 20 miles would be done with
ware, no need for variable valve timing and
the engine/generator running –- at 50 mpg.
other ‘hi-tech tricks’ commonly found on to-
The result is that you travel 60 miles on just
day’s combustion engines; this engine can
0.4 gallons of E85 blend, averaging 150
be produced very inexpensively indeed.
Plug-in hybrid cars use larger electric mo-
tors (and smaller combustion engines) than
That's why research is intensifying on au-
tomotive-type lithium-ion batteries, which
offer about twice the power and half the
weight of today's nickel-metal hydride bat-
teries, as used in the Toyota Prius.
"We see real potential in using electricity as
the majority fuel and as a real competitive
advantage for us. We're taking a calculated
gamble on this E-flex vehicle system, mak-
ing the bet that the Lithium-Ion batteries will
be there when the vehicles are ready, likely
in 2010 to 2012", Lutz said.
Depending on the intended market area, E-
flex concepts at other Auto Shows might
feature a diesel generator, bio-diesel, natu-
ral gas, 100-percent ethanol (E-100) or, ul-
timately, a hydrogen-powered fuel cell to
charge the battery.
The Volt can also be plugged in to a stand-
Contact-less energy transfer systems are
ard wall outlet for a 6.5 hour recharge,
also undergoing development; without plug-
hence “plug-in hybrid”.
ging in, the battery is being recharged when
parked over an embedded, automatic, in-
Bob Lutz estimates that, burning E85, a fuel
ductive recharging station.
blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent
The rise and fall of luxury automobiles
James Bond was baffled. Where would he
Mans and the DB3 did well in sales, as well
get his next movie car?
as in competition.
Ford Motor Company sold Aston Martin in
In 1959 Aston Martin won the Sportscar
early 2007, - that small company, building
World Championship, but the name never
luxurious high-performance sportscars. Alt-
gained fame, as did Ferrari.
hough Agent 007 has driven different cars in the much adored spy movies, one of his fa-But more than any victories could have ac-
vorites is the Aston Martin.
complished, the DB5, with James Bond driv-
ing, conquered the world, so to speak, in
Don’t worry, James Bond, be happy; David
1964 with “Goldfinger”.
Richards, one of the new owners and chair-
person of Aston Martin, promised, "We are
confident we now have all the right ingredi-
ents to take Aston Martin to even greater
heights", according to The Guardian news-
Aston Martin has had a turbulent, colorful history since Lionel Martin and Robert Bam-ford formed the company in the UK in 1914
near Aston Clinton; hence the name. Al-
ways ‘geared’ towards competition and de-
signed for the affluent, production has re-
007 & DB5
mained small over the decades.
Over the years, technology marched on,
and the DB9R is the current model conquer-
ing racetracks of the world. Dignified, sporty
models were developed over time; from the
$110,000 V8 Vantage to the $260,000 V12
Vanquish. The fourth model going into pro-
duction is the DBS, publicized in the latest
James Bond film “Casino Royale”.
This recent expansion was not possible dur-
ing the 1970s or ‘80s when Aston Martin
had again changed ownership and contin-
1937 2 Liter short chassis
ued to stagnate. In 1987 things started to
look up when Ford acquired 75% of the
Aston Martin entered the famous 24 Hours
company and expanded this to 100% in
of Le Mans race first 1928, but continued to
1994. With Ford’s help, the small firm re-
struggle throughout the 1930s and lan-
covered from a production of only 46 cars in
guished thru World War II. In 1947, industri-
1992, and is now selling about seven thou-
alist David Brown bought the company and
sand vehicle a year around the world at se-
lent his initials to the DB series of cars. The
lect dealerships. A new factory was added,
DB1 entered and won an endurance race,
and Aston Martin now has about 100 deal-
the DB2 had some success at Le
ers worldwide, Canada having three, in
Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.
Under the present difficulties of the North
hour race itself. You may have seen the in-
American auto industry, Ford now sold a
tense battle and lead changes with the rac-
prosperous part of their empire. [03/2007]
ing Corvettes on TV.
The new owners of Aston Martin are a con-
sortium including Richards, John Sinders,
Investment Dar and Adeem Investment. The
last two entities are international financial
institutions based in Kuwait; Sinders is a car
collector and backer of Prodrive Racing,
which is headed by David Richards.
Prodrive is one of the new ‘niche compa-
nies’ emerging in the automotive world, and
is already scheduled to enter into Formula1
racing in 2008. Now, as owners of Aston
Martin, and with Middle-East backing, the
Even more high-tech, Prodrive developed
new group could become a serious rival for
and managed Honda’s Formula1 car and
Ferrari, on road and track.
B.A.R. team for several years. Canadian
World Champion Jacques Villeneuve pa-
Prodrive has emerged as one of the world’s
tiently helped in the development of the car
leading automotive technology and motor-
and team. (more about J V soon)
sport businesses. It employs more than
1000 people in the UK, Germany, USA and
With this technical expertise and engineer-
Australia and formed a foothold in Bangkok
ing skill, and its own proving ground and
four-kilometer test track, Prodrive has en-
tered into the mainstream of the automotive
Down under, Prodrive works with Ford Rac-
industry. They plan to create additional jobs
ing in the V8 Supercar Championship Se-
at Aston Martin and expand sales into Rus-
ries and produces about two thousand mod-
sia and Asia.
ified Fords per year for demanding custom-
ers, much as AMG does for Mercedes or
SVO for Ford in the US.
Prodrive is also a top independent motor-
sport business, preparing competition vehi-
cles for major manufacturers. Subaru has
won six World Rally Championships with
cars developed by Prodrive. Beside success
with Subaru, Prodrive has won more than
130 international rallies with Porsche, BMW
and MG. In racing touring cars over the
years, Prodrive has had victorious with Alfa
Romeo, BMW, Ford, Honda and Volvo.
The team achieved its greatest accom-
plishment up to that time by winning its
class at the Le Mans 24 Hours with a Ferrari
in 2003. This lead to Prodrive’s connection
Is it any wonder that Ford entrusted one of
with Aston Martin, preparing their cars for
the world’s most famous brands to the Pro-
the American Le Mans series and the 24-
Automobiles in Art and as Art
"I tried to portray speed pictorially. If a car is
The three-months long The Art of the Mo-
moving really quickly, all the lines and col-
torcycle at the Guggenheim Museum in ors are blurred", explained pop art legend
New York City in 1998, and elsewhere, was
Andy Warhol after he covered his BMW ‘Art
the best visited museum show of all times.
Car’ with sweeping paint strokes in 1979.
Like any new art form, automotive art did
not become entrenched overnight.
Toulouse Lautrec may have been the first
automotive artist by creating the lithograph
The Motorist in 1896.
In his 1968 Theories of Modern Art, Her-
schel B. Chipp quotes the Italian futurist Fil-
ippo Tommaso Marinetti, who wrote in
1908, "We declare the splendor of the world
has been enriched with a new form of beau-
ty, the beauty of speed. A race automobile
adorned with great pipes like serpents with
explosive breath, a race-automobile, which
seems to rush over exploding powder, is
“Art Cars borrow from fine art, folk art, out-
more beautiful than the Winged Victory of
sider art, street art, advertising, the automo-
bile industry, current trends, religion, sci-
ence, politics, literature, sex, architecture,
Further back in time, European gypsies
design, photography, the landscape, and
decorated their wagons, and farmers their
nearly anything else you can think of”, one
ox carts, to show their talent or advertise
art critic observed.
Until recently, I had not considered this as
serious art. I had admired automotive art
before in photography, paintings, sculptures
and in the sheet-metal. However, if Andy
Warhol’s and the other BMW Art Cars are chosen for sold out showings at the Royal
Academy in London, the Palazzo Grassi in
Venice, Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum, the
Guggenheim Museums in New York and
Bilbao, the Hermitage in St. Petersburg or at
the Louvre in Paris, then we should accept
them as art.
Gratefully acknowledging this photo from flickr
Every self respecting museum in the world
Pin striping, airbrushed murals, flames and
is now clamoring to have at least one, or
special paint jobs allow individual owners to
better a few, Art Cars on display at one time rebel against the bland uniformity of mass
production. Recent niche vehicle fabrication
is the auto industry’s attempt to eliminate
A similar show, ‘ Cars as Art’, happened in
that dilemma for well-off customers. We
1995 at the Montreal Museum of Fine Art.
could consider hot rods and low riders as
swered, "I love the car; it's better than the
the older ’cousins’ of the Art Cars.
work of art itself."
The recognized Art Car artists were by no This car was raced only once, during the
means the first to use a vehicle as a ‘can-
1979 ‘Twenty Four Hours’, by Manfred Win-
vas’. The ancestors of the famous BMW
kelhock from Germany and Herve Poulain
collection are the colorful Jeepneys in the and Marcel Mignot from France. The ‘War-Philippines, Mexico’s, and Panama’s paint-
hol’ placed second in class and sixth over-
ed buses, the decorated trucks in Pakistan
all, a masterpiece in itself.
and Afghanistan and Haiti’s multi-colored
By now, fifteen BMWs [now seventeen]
have had multi-colored, geographic, geo-
metric or random ‘make up’ applied to them
by renowned artists from countries around
A special Art Car is in the works for 2007.
Olafur Eliasson was commissioned to trans-
form the record-breaking H2R. [another arti-
cle] He explains: "A laboratorial process to
research the spectrum of sustainable ener-
gy and energy awareness, with a particular
interest in hydrogen as a potential future
energy-source. This is within the context of
my current work that engages with the
whole complex of the individual's relation
The chronicle of the Art Cars began in 1975,
towards mobility, time and space."
when racecar driver Herve Poulain asked
Alexander Calder to do magic on his 480 hp
“Art Cars document the fascinating link be-
Bimmer before he raced it in the 24 Hours
tween art and technology. They reflect the
of Le Mans. Some artsy BMW exec liked
cultural-historical development of art, design
what he saw, and in 1976 the Bavarians
and technology”, explained one reviewer.
commissioned Frank Stella to use the same
model of car as his drawing board.
Addendum: I would deprive you of knowing
more about automotive art, if I would not
The next year Roy Lichtenstein “used paint-
point out that not only the West is into this,
ed lines as a road, pointing the way for the
but the East as well. At the 2008 Olympics
car”. The year after that, it was Andy War-
more Art Cars came to the fore in Beijing.
Most of the artists used a scale model to
develop their art, and then craftspeople
transferred the work to the full size car.
Andy Warhol insisted on painting the real
M1 sports-racer himself. Reports have him
using all of twenty-three minutes to com-
plete his masterpiece; for that personal
touch, he used his fingers on the paint.
When asked if he liked the result, he an-
From farm tractors to the world’s most stylish cars
“There is obviously something wrong, when
Ferruccio did quite well, but when he looked
wealthy executives have to retire to find
for a nice new car, he did not like the all-to-
meaning in life; becoming involved in fund-
common (in his circles) Ferrari. So he
raising and administration for charitable or-
hatched a plan to build his own supercar.
ganizations”, writes Walter Buckingham in
his book ‘Automation’.
These “poor” people stil need leisure time
after a life of closing million-dollar deals on
the golf course and ‘hitting the sack’ in a
five-hundred-dollar hotel room.
What to do? Chasing tranquility with yachts
costing more than a family home feels too
slow a pace. Buy a Ferrari? Naa, too run of
the mill; everybody wants to drive a Ferrari.
How about a Lamborghini? A what? Oh yea, Lamborghini is still producing modern tractors – 1994 model
I heard about them; very special car,
Lamborghini secured the services of the
sounds more sensible.
best Italian designers and engineers. With a close kinship to the farming community, he
Ferruccio Lamborghini had a similar dilem-
selected a charging bull as the emblem of
ma. He grew up on his parents’ farm, but
his new company and as the badge on his
did not enjoy nature as much as technology.
cars. From a new factory in Sant'Agata the After technical studies he came to be in
first cars charged the roads in 1964.
charge of vehicle maintenance of the Italian
army during World War II. At war’s end, he
Success came not so easy this time. The
started buying military vehicles and convert-
1973 oil embargo and the following reces-
ing them into much needed farm tractors.
sion forced Lamborghini to sell 51% of this
Quality workmanship and loyal customers
company to a Swiss businessman, and in
earned him respect. But these machines
1974 he sold the remaining 49% shares.
were not quite the right tool for farming.
Unfamiliar with the world of wheels, the new
owners did not succeed. New Italian owners
could not get the business out of low gear
In 1987 the Chrysler Corporation bought
Lamborghini as part of its expansion plans.
Chrysler President Lee Iacocca decided that
the Italian firm should enter Formula 1. A
new engine was developed and supplied to
several teams. Progress and even success
in form of podium places resulted.
In 1992 new Chrysler chairman Bob Eaton
In 1948 Lamborghini bought a small work-
decided that the engines would be re-
shop, where he developed, produced and
badged Chrysler and that the corporation
sold modern farm tractors.
would mount a bigger F1 attack in 1994.
McLaren built a test car for Chrysler, and
Gallardo RS Spyder, again a very different
Ayrton Senna and Mika Hakkinen both test-
approach to open-air driving, will follow in
ed a McLaren-Lamborghini. At the last mi-
2006. With these meticulously crafted,
nute, however, McLaren decided on a
magnificently finished rolling sculptures the
Peugeot engine, which caused Chrysler to
planned annual production of two thousand
give up on F1 and on Lamborghini. In No-exclusive automobiles will be reached.
vember 1993 Chrysler sold Lamborghini to
Indonesian Megatech, who cancelled the
Jean Jennings, editor in chief of Automobile
Formula 1 program, and the promising
magazine, said Italian exotic brands have
marque continued to stagnate.
improved in quality in recent years. "Not all
that long ago, you expected an Italian su-
percar's character to include the curse of
poor quality. It was a given," she said.
"That's just not so anymore. Today's Lam-
borghinis feel the most handmade, but they
are downright reliable now."
Lamborghinis models are named after famous bulls
Since 1964 Lamborghini’s talented engi-
neers and creative designers had created
some of the most stunningly beautiful
sportscars ever. Just look at the Countach.
It’s like a space-ship. Strikingly different,
Modern safety cell protects occupants in case of accident
radically angular, it shocked show goers. It
took time to get used to such a fundamen-
Driving a supercar or the family-car with
tally different style. We were used to the
passion and precision can be therapeutic
soft, curvaceous lines of other Italian beau-
treatment for exasperated executives – or
ties. Countach has a special beauty.
anyone wishing to restore meaning to their
life. In addition, that includes being consid-
During almost twenty years nearly 2000
erate of other road users.
Countach models have been crafted. Like
most Lamborghinis, the next model, Diablo,
And here, something extra:
was named after a well-known bull.
Lamborghini’s CEO was in Pebble Beach,
California, for the annual Concours d'Ele-
Compared to the “mass-production” of
gance, an event Lamborghini used as back-
around five thousand Ferraris per year,
drop for the debut of the automaker's radical
‘Lambo’ fabrication was never more than new show car. In a wide-ranging conversa-one car per day.
tion with TheCarConnection.com Publisher
Paul A. Eisenstein, Winkelmann spoke
In 1998, Lamborghini was acquired by the
about what's in store for Lamborghini, in-
Volkswagen/Audi Group, and considerable
cluding possible production plans for the
amounts of money were invested to mod-
ernize the plant. Since 2001 Lamborghini
has launched two cars - the Murcielago
TCC: You were comfortably ensconced in
coupe and convertible powered by a V-12
Germany, running the home-market opera-
engine, and the Gallardo V-10 coupe. The
tions for Audi. So why leave for Lambor-
Winkelmann: We don't need to grow to Fer-
ghini, a company that makes fewer cars in a
rari's numbers, but we do have to grow. The
year than Audi sells on a bad day?
balance between low volume, high image,
and (strong) economic results is a triangle
Winkelmann: Audi called and asked me if I'd
that is tough to maintain. With the launch of
like to do it. They needed a marketing ex-
the Spider next year, we will reach about
pert and wanted someone who understood
2000 units in 2006. Not only in existing mar-
both the German and Italian mentality.
kets, but new markets like Russia, Malaysia
Frankly, for me, it was a dream come true.
This lets me run a company, 360 degrees,
everything from marketing to manufacturing.
TCC: There've been a lot of new players
entering the ultra-luxury segment in recent
TCC: How important is Audi's support?
years, like Maybach, or expanding their
presence, such as Aston Martin. What does
Winkelmann: "Without Audi, Lamborghini
that mean for a company like Lamborghini?
couldn't exist. They bring money and tech-
nology. Audi is becoming a more sporty
Winkelmann: The market for high-lux is def-
brand because they are investing more in
initely growing because there are more
technology - technology that Lamborghini
manufacturers - and collectors. Our cars are
(otherwise) couldn't afford. We can benefit
often the fifth or the tenth or even the twen-
from these huge investments, but we must
tieth in a garage. But people are not just
maintain the huge discipline that is the pillar
buying something good looking and fast.
of what Lamborghini stands for. Lambor-
They now want quality, for sure. The aver-
ghini is uncompromising, extraordinary -
age mileage for a Gallardo is a lot more
than for the Murcielago, sometimes 20,000
miles a year, because owners are driving it
TCC: How is Audi's investment paying off?
every day. That's a big change for Lambor-
Winkelmann: Lamborghini is 42 years old.
For the first 40 years, we never sold more
TCC: Ironically, hasn't that required you to
than 250 cars. In 2003, it rose to 1300 and
give more content in a lower-priced car - the
last year 1600. We have decided to stay at
Gallardo - than one would normally expect
the same volume this year.
in the top-line Murcielago?
Winkelmann: We're offering luxury and
comfort packages, navigation, rearview
Winkelmann: For one thing, we've had to
camera. But we have also had to stick to
deal with the image and awareness of the
brand. But we also have to deal with (build-
ing) a support network. Back in the 1960s
TCC: I've heard it said that Lamborghini re-
and '70s, dealers would come to the factory
ally isn't in the automobile business.
to pick up cars. Now we need a modern
network. We grew our dealers from 65 to 80
Winkelmann: We are selling luxury. If you
last year, but Ferrari has over 200 world-
look at our cars, they are not something you
need. It is irrational. We have to market to
people in the luxury world. That is one rea-
TCC: But eventually, don't you need to grow
son we are here (in Pebble Beach). They
more? Wouldn't you like to be as big as Fer-
don't want us to be anonymous. They want
to be able to meet us.
TCC: You're also using the Concours to
lysts. Your cars may not big, but they aren't
show off the Concept S prototype. Any
exactly fuel-efficient, either. Any concerns?
plans for production?
Winkelmann: So far, fuel prices are not af-
Winkelmann: We want to see what the reac-
fecting us. But it's not the money that's the
tion is and then we will decide by the end of
issue, but social stigma. If super sports cars
September whether to build a limited series
are not seen as coherent with (society), that
of this car. The initial reaction, by the way,
could be a problem.
has been strong.
TCC: Finally, let's turn to racing. Unlike Fer-
TCC: People are using the word, "radical,"
rari, Lamborghini has never been big on
to describe the Concept S, but to us, some-
motor sports, but we hear that might change
thing like Porsche's Cayenne SUV would be
Winkelmann: If you look back in our history,
Winkelmann: Actually, we like to say the
(founder) Ferruccio Lamborghini said we
Lamborghini LM2 was the first super SUV.
didn't need to go racing because our cars
And then there was the Espada 2+2. So if
speak for themselves. For the time being,
we decided to do these body styles again,
we're not planning to enter racing, but we
we would hope people would accept them
are looking carefully at what kind of cham-
as true Lamborghinis. But at the moment,
pionships we would join if we did enter. We
we are not planning other models.
will see next year.
TCC: Soaring fuel prices are finally begin-
ning to impact car sales, according to ana-
The talented young Canadian designer Ja-
son Battersby is suggesting a new ‘Lambo-Toro’ tractor, using design cues from the
Drawing enthusiasts can use this link for instructions on how to sketch a Lamborghini
Murcielago, or watch this 10 minute video to get drawing information.
This is an excellent source for technical information about the Lamborghini Gallardo.
Richard Moriarty had his 1974 Lamborghini Countach
mounted on the living room wall of his home
Fiat, the poor people’s Ferrari – as they used to say
“We want Fiat to become the ‘Apple’ of au-
The engine was bored out to 750 cc and
tomobiles and the new Fiat 500 to be their
had an Abarth cylinder head with a Weber iPod”, CEO Sergio Marchionne announced.
carburetor, and extra cooling. This tiny
The occasion was the July 2007 launch of
hotrod surprised many American-made cars
the Italian retro version of their people’s car,
at Toronto traffic lights; it could have fitted in
il Topolino, the little mouse.
their trunks (with the lid up).
After Henry Ford ‘motovated’ the American
population with the Model T, the Italians did
the same with a tiny two-seater they named
Topolino, their name for Mickey Mouse.
From 1936 until 1957 the tiny car with a mo-
torcycle-sized side-valve engine of less than
600 cc capacity (0.6 liter) and 13 hp trans-
ported its owners around their countryside.
This was long before the other ‘peoples car’
showed up, and long after the Model T’s
fourteen million, compared to half a million
Fiat then stopped exporting their cars to
North America, more than one generation
ago. And production of the ‘500’ ended in
Like many other companies lately, Fiat ex-
perienced difficult times. It must have been
heartbreaking to sell their part ownership in
Ferrari to an Italian Bank. General Motors
allied itself with the largest Italian automak-
er, but bailed out when GM itself became
1955 500C Topolino from topolino.org.uk
In 1957, a similar, new “Fiat 500” was intr
When Fiat planned to produce a popular
duced, with a modern overhead valve en-
gine and a ‘powerful’ 17 HP. Over the years,
small car again, it also included the public in
its development with a website ”500 wants
the cars grew slightly, as did the engine.
you”. 500 days before the planned launch,
interested people could recommend styling
During the 1960s, different Fiat models
were sold in Canada, from the “Cinquece
cues, options, colors and other pertinent
to”, meaning five hundred, to normal sized
suggestions on this site. Regular updates
kept the public informed of the general pro-
sedans and sporty two-seat convertibles.
The export models that arrived here, had a
600 cc engine with 23 hp, just like the early
Now, fifty years after the ‘Cinquecento’ first
Volkswagen Beetles. Yours truly drove a
appeared, Fiat has introduced a re-make of
version of this small city car with a much
the earlier ‘500’ models. Styled by Frank
modified engine for a while.
Stephenson, who was chief of design at
Ferrari, the new city car was presented to
The new “500” no longer makes do with a
the world with a spectacular party.
‘half-liter’ engine; it will be equipped with a
choice of three four-cylinder units, a 75 hp
While many carmakers introduce new mod-
diesel and a 69 or 100 hp gasoline version
els with great fanfare at auto shows, the Ital-
with five or six speed transmissions. A tur-
ians celebrated as only Italians do. Fiat en-
bocharged Abarth version with 150 hp and
gaged Marco Balish, who was the creative
modified suspension is also in the works.
producer of the opening and closing cere-
monies at last year’s Winter Olympics in
Automotive journalist who have driven the
Turin. On a stage on the river Po, the festivi-
‘Five Hundred’, are writing rave reports
ties in three acts went on into the evening,
about the built quality and the handling of
before ending with a brilliant fireworks dis-
this newcomer from Italy. One newspaper
play. Only a video would do justice to re-
reports that three weeks after the unveiling
count the celebrations.
of the model, 57,000 orders have been
placed with dealerships. That covers this
[ While reformatting this story for the book
year’s planned production. With that suc-
and looking for additional photos, I discov-
cess facing the beleaguered firm, Fiat will
ered the following set of videos about these
increase next year’s output to 140,000.
festivities that you should not miss; almost
45 minutes of it. Part 2 is Fiat’s response to
What surprised me most, though, was to
the first part, where they reveal original
learn that the Fiat is produced in a factory in
scenes from the launch of the ‘500’ from 50
Tychy, Poland, together with the European
years ago, with original audio of the Beetles.
Ford Ka. The two cars share the same plat-
— Enjoy ! ]
form, but not the engines, nor any similarity
in style or any body panels.
City cars are increasing in numbers and
models; performance versions like the Mini
Cooper or the 500 Abarth, with acceleration
of 7 seconds from 0-100, sound very tempt-
ing for economy minded enthusiasts. Per-
haps, Fiat will return to our shores and
SQo&feature=watch_response part 3
make up for past times with a 40 mpg
econo-car that would be a blast to drive.
[Since this story was published in 2007, Fiat
has become one with Chrysler, and the new
500 is available in North America, as you
The newest Fiat is aimed at the popular Mini
Just like the Apple appeals to a particular
and others of the new genre of quality ‘city
group of computer users, a hot hatchback
fascinates certain drivers.
The company is already promising to add to
(Jay Leno is also a friend of the Topolino) the basic three-door (a two-door / hatch-The Topolino had a front engine - rear
back) a convertible, a utility type, nee sta-
wheel drive; Cinquecento had a rear engine
tion wagon ala the Mini ‘Clubman’, and a
– rear wheel drive; The ‘New 500’ has front
engine – front wheel drive.
Corolla out-numbers them all: Model T Ford, VW Beetle, Golf / Rabbit
Fifteen million Model Ts, twenty one million
1970. A little longer, and with 13 more
Beetles, twenty three million Rabbits / Golfs
horsepower, it was a more comfortable car
(who knows?) but rarely do we hear that
to drive with an automatic transmission. A
Toyota’s bestseller beat them all: 32 Million
year later, the engine grew to 1.6 liter and
Corollas produced and counting.
The chronicle of the modest Corolla reads
The third generation was oddly re-styled,
like a partial history of the automobile itself.
but so were many cars of the ‘70s. Five dif-
ferent models were available, and a catalyt-
It used to be plain old reputation, which lifts
ic converter was added in 1975, as was a
one car above the others; now they call it
sporty 5-speed manual. A hatchback, a
‘brand equity’. Corolla has earned its stand-
sports coupe and the SR5 were among the
ing as “old faithful” since 1968. The oldest
choices, and they seemed to last forever.
Toyota, bar one, sold in the Americas, Co-
rolla was the first Toyota later produced
Generation four Corolla of 1979 became
more complex with a new ‘chassis’ carrying
a rear coil-spring suspension under its uni-
body. In 1981
car received a
four speed au-
having grown to
1.8 liter OHV by
now, was re-
placed by a 1.6
liter unit with an
shaft in 1983.
First generation 1966 Corolla, photo by Toyota Canada
As a two-year old, Corolla came to this con-
The little car that could, received its biggest
tinent in 1968. A simple 1.1-liter four cylin-
transformation with its fifth generation. It
der, carburetor-fed engine with 60 horse-
changed from rear wheel drive to front
power turned the rear wheels through a
wheel drive. The same engine, now side-
manual four-speed gearbox and a solid rear
ways in the car, used a five speed manual
axle with leaf springs. Simplicity in itself;
or four speed automatic transmission; such
every shade-tree mechanic could fix it.
is progress. During 1984 the coupe and the
‘Liftback’, as Toyota calls their hatchback,
Even at $1,700 there was nothing cheap
were upgraded to a double overhead cam-
about Corolla; hardly anything ever broke.
shaft engine with four valves per cylinder,
making 124 hp from 1.6 liter displacement.
Recognized as too small for our kind of driv-
During the Corolla’s early days only racing
ing, the second generation Corolla came in
engines had this type of equipment and
power. A few Corollas also came with a
With 120 hp, the basic model of generation
eight had double the power of thirty years
ago; it lasted from 1998 until 2002. Bigger,
The year 1987 brought a new front-drive FX
but lighter with an all aluminum engine, and
coupe and also the first time that Corolla
with better fuel economy, Corolla had be-
was produced in North America, in a joint
come a serious competitor to many other
venture factory with General Motors in Cali-
makes. In 2000 Toyota added VVT-I varia-
ble valve timing to achieve LEV status as a
‘low emission vehicle’. Interior and exterior
With the sixth generation in 1988 Corolla
refinements added extra flair to a fine auto-
looked more stylish than the previous boxy
versions. The station wagon was available
with full-time all-wheel drive, Toyota’s “Al -
The ninth generation Corolla, from 2003 to
Trac”. This model also had another first:
2007, is similar in looks and size to its big-
throttle-body fuel injection, while the GT-S
ger brother Camry of a few years ago. Its
had EFI, meaning separate port injection. At
structural integrity would have made earlier
that time dual outside mirrors, power steer-
Lexus models proud, say Toyota engineers.
ing, stereo, air conditioning and the like
Close to a luxury car of just years ago in
were optional equipment, all standard on
comfort and handling, thanks to electronic
today’s models. By 1990 all models in the
assists, Corolla is now nearing it its 10th
Corolla line-up had the benefit of fuel injec-
generation, BUT – likely under a new name.
tion and overhead camshafts, and the GT-S
had 130 hp.
Whether that will be Altis, Axio or Auris is
not yet clear, but the new “Corolla” will con-
From 1993 to 1997 the seventh generation
tinue the tradition of reliable and economic
was built. Having grown in length and width,
transportation we have come to expect from
the EPA now classified Corolla as “com-
pact”, up from “subcompact”. Drivers airbag,
height-adjustable seat belts, ABS and a 1.8
[Article was written in March 2007]
liter engine were concession to the chang-
ing times. A passenger airbag and an inte-
grated child seat was added in ’94 as an
option. During its last year, power windows
and locks, electric mirrors and CFC-free air-
conditioning made life easier for humans
and nature. By the end of generation seven
Corolla had overtaken the Beetle as the
best-selling car in automotive history.
2011 Corolla, generation 10
A few items that might be of interest, but were intentionally not linked to the text:
an illustrated timeline
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZXhZUb13vQ a video by Alex, a 13 year old boy
http://www.toyotabharat.com/inen/cars/corolla/history.asp all 10 Corolla generations
The car that became a symbol of freedom for an oppressed nation
Numerous carmakers are history, copious
“The Trabi, as we affectionately called our
cars make history; the Trabant falls under
‘communist limousine’, was a lot like East
Germany,” said actor Wolfgang Stumph,
who co-starred with a blue Trabant in a
More than a few automakers are remem-
1991 German movie, ‘ Go Trabi Go’. “It was
bered by only a chapter in a book about the
far from perfect, but somehow it worked.
You had to improvise every day to keep it
past; some makes or models have been
going. It was small and smelly and broke
reinCARnated. At present, several manufac-
down a lot, but it was all we had.”
turers are building new factories while quite
a few others and their suppliers are in dire
Over the decades, more than three million
straits, as we start 2008.
Trabants were “put together”, pushed by
hand along the production line every time it
It’s rude to make fun of someone or some-
failed to run. And most of the assembly was
thing unfortunate, but the people of the for-
done with common hand tools, not power-
mer DDR, or East Germany, started it
tool, much less assembly robots.
themselves. They made fun of the Trabant,
their East-Block’s People’s Car.
In 1986 the Trabant sales office phoned one
lucky East German on the waiting list:
Such as: If the Trabant had two tailpipes,
“Comrade Schulz, you wil get delivery of a
according to a worker on its assembly line, it
Trabant on April 1st, 1992”. - Schulz: “Morn-
would make a fine wheelbarrow. Or: How
ing or afternoon? I have a plumber coming.”
can you double the value of a Trabant? –
Fill up with 92 octane hi-test.
Not far from the truth, because the average
Trabant delivery time was eight (8) years.
Many Trabis “escaped” to West Germany
with their owners after the Berlin Wall crum-
bled in 1989. Paradoxically, they have be-
come a collector’s item among car fanciers
all across Europe and beyond. One car col-
lector in the UK was fined £750, because he
ignored a court ruling to remove his sub-
stantial collection of Trabants, which had
been declared an eyesore.
Or this: How many workers does it take to
build a Trabant? - Two. One to fold and one
to paste. — The Trabant had a crude, never
updated mid-1950s, boxy “Duroplast” body,
pressed from recycled materials - the best
post-war plastic available. The car was
powered by a smelly, pre-World-War II
twenty-six horsepower two cylinder, two-
stroke engine. “Sparkplug with Roof”, they
branded it, until the last one was made in
Gathering of an American Trabant Owners Club
April of 1991.
But people still hold them dear, and the
cars were produced during the Soviet era, a
jokes continue. The Irish pop band U2 did a
Monument to the Trabant was erected
song about them and put it on a Vinyl in-
stead of a CD.
Since 1990, model-car manufacturer Herpa
has produced some hundred thousand Tra-
Why does the Trabant have a heated rear
bis at 1:87 scale. To mark the car’s 50th
window? - To keep your hands warm while
birthday on November 7, 2007, the compa-
you push it. How do you make a sportscar
ny created a modern looking 1:10 Trabi
out of a Trabi? - Put a pair of running shoes
concept and displayed it at the German IAA
in the trunk. Customer in a West German
auto show in September. 12,000 show visi-
auto parts store: Can I get two new tires for
tors indicated they would purchase a new
a Trabi? - Store owner thinks long and hard;
version, and plans are now underway to de-
“OK,” he says at last, “it’s a deal”.
sign a present-day Trabant.
The Trabi got its name after Sputnik, the
“For many people the Trabant is more than
first artificial satellite, went into orbit. In
a car”, said Herpa general manager Klaus
German, the Moon is a Trabant, or satellite,
Schindler; over fifty-thousand were still reg-
of Earth. The meaning of the word ‘Trabant’
istered in Germany at the end of 2007.
later implied notions of ‘servant’ or ‘com-
rade’, tasks that were carried out by “the
A prototype is now being developed, and
little car that could”.
Herpa is negotiating with ‘full size’ car man-
ufacturers to produce a limited number of
‘New Trabi’. That should not be too difficult,
with all the multi-model assembly lines now
producing niche models. During the last few
years of its production run, Trabants already
used a 3-cylinder engine from one of
Volkswagen’s entry-level models.
A New Trabi? (Why not? Other iconic cars –
New Beetle and New Mini come to mind,
and they are very successful) New Trabi
would weigh less than 1,000 kg and could
have all modern amenities, electronics and
safety features, including ABS, of course.
After road-testing an earlier model Trabant,
one car magazine reported: “The two-stroke
engine provides no braking effect at all. Nor
do the brakes.” Despite the potential conse-
quences of that, the only car more often tar-
geted by thieves is Porsche.
Go Trabi, go!
Old Trabant & concept of newTrabi with model toy
Perhaps the Trabant will have the last laugh
For your amusement, here is a video of the
after all. It has become a symbol of freedom
Trabant’s final fit and finish adjustments on for an oppressed nation and the peoples’
the assembly line in communist East Ger-
will to carry on under adversity. The now
many, and as a counterpoint a few minutes
free German City of Zwickau, where the
of an assembly line in West Germany.
Why did Will and Kate leave the royal wedding in an Aston Martin?
When you hear ‘Royal’ or ‘Windsor’ you
lapidary and metal engraver. Born in Milan,
probably connect that with Buckingham
Italy, in 1881, Ettore began studying fine
Palace. I will overlook that blunder. As a car
arts, but decided he would be more suc-
buff, you might think Rolls Royce or Bentley.
cessful as an engineer. At the age of nine-
— Close enough.
teen he designed and built his first car. He
kept looking for a place to set up his own
Did you ever hear of a Bugatti Royale?
factory. In 1909 he acquired a large piece of
Lucky you; Most other mortals never have.
property at Molsheim in the Alsace region of
France, strewn with numerous buildings.
To make us normal human beings ’feel like
a king’, the automakers have humored us
with models titled Imperial, Windsor, Mona-
co, Monte Carlo, Crown Victoria, Prinz
(NSU) and possibly others.
Despite the fact that some of these exam-
ples came from Windsor, -the city, not the
castle-, they were common models. Our
loyalist friends south of the 49th parallel also
brought us the Crown Royal, the Regal, the
King Cobra and others.
Only one car was purposely constructed for
Royalty: the Bugatti Type 41. Intended for Bugatti Type 57
Kings, Queens and other Nobles -between
Here he began production of a small, light-
1927 and 1933, the fittingly referred-to Bu-
weight racing machine. When this car ap-
gatti Royale is superlative in every possible
peared at Le Mans in 1911 and came in se-
way. In fact, the Type 41 was so grandiose
cond, it proved that the young Bugatti knew
that Royalty did not dare to acquire it, lest
more about car design than many older en-
they raise the ire of the common people as
gineers. Orders came in and the little factory
a result of royal excess.
prospered. When World War I broke out in
1914, Ettore Bugatti buried three racing cars
Bugatti Type 41, ‘Royal’, - Napoleon Coupé
under the cellar of his home and fled to Italy
with his family.
After the war they returned to France and
remained at Molsheim until World War II.
During this time Bugatti and his automobiles
became famous. The sleek sky-blue cars
almost completely dominated the race
tracks of the world. In 1925 and 1926 alone,
they won over 1,000 races. Some of the
outstanding Bugatti cars were: the 1934
of the racing “Bugs”.
painter, silversmith, sculptor, woodcarver,
Although Ettore Bugatti was known for his
at the time. It is the longest car ever pro-
racing cars, he always produced a produc-
duced, with a wheelbase of 432 cm or 170
tion model for the road. Some were coupes,
inches. Its 12.7 liter straight-eight engine is
some convertibles, some sedans, and these
the largest yet used in a ‘production car’. Its
automobiles “have a purity of body design
radiator is shoulder high to an average man.
and a mechanical precision that is almost
The depression put an end to Bugatti’s
grandiose motorized royal carriages; only
In 1927 Bugatti introduced the type 41, an
six, possibly seven were completed. Several
ultra-luxurious, majestic vehicle in every as-
were re-bodied by their eventual owners,
pect. The bare rolling chassis and power-
because even the wealthiest were hesitant
train alone cost almost double the price of
to be seen in such splendor during the worst
the next most expensive luxury car available
of economic times.
This photograph clearly shows the immense proportions of the 1931 Bugatti Type 41 ‘Royale’: 21-foot-long, 7,000-pound, 12.7-liter straight-eight engine Other models were developed, raced and
Another ‘Royale’ is said to have been hid-
sold. Successful in the market and in com-
den in the sewers of Paris during the war.
petition with numerous types, the Bugatti
Restored, each Bugatti is treasured as a
factory driver Pierre Veyron won the ‘24
museum piece, and almost all are in good
Hours of Le Mans’ race in 1939. After this,
World War II put an end to private cars.
Whenever one of these famous cars chang-
The Bugatti family saved two of the Type
es ownership, a buzz goes through the en-
41, which they owned, by hiding them be-
tire automotive world. The VW Group of
hind a false wall in one building during the
Companies acquired a ‘Type 41’ a few
war and until 1950, when they were sold to
years ago. Volkswagen? Why would the
American multi-millionaire and Le Mans
peoples-car people want a Bugatti Royale?
driver Briggs Cunningham. Regrettably, Et-
Find out next week. [see next page]
tore, known as Le Patron, had died in 1947.
and now Bugatti, waited for owners; too few
millionaires ready to buy them during a re-
To encounter a Bugatti ‘Royale’ is a great
cession. Artioli went into bankruptcy and the
Bugatti factory was closed again in 1994.
thrill for enthusiasts; to own any Bugatti is
the pinnacle of automotive delight.
The big got bigger; Ford took over Jaguar
and Aston Martin, General Motors added
As part of my work, I visited a restoration
shop, in the process of refurbishing a ‘reg
Saab and Hummer, Volkswagen acquired
lar’ Bugatti. After admiring and examining
Bentley and Lamborghini, BMW got Rolls
Royce. DaimlerChrysler revived the famous
the antique — my first encounter with a Bu-
luxury make Maybach. Attempts to resurrect
gatti, I asked the shop owner if I could work
such legendary makes as Duesenberg,
for him after my demise. He looked puzzled;
“That would be paradise
Packard and others are stumbling along.
for me”, I replied.
Being a ‘car guy’, Volkswagen’s CEO Ferdi-
Back to reality, I remind myself, recalling the
nand Piech pondered: why not breathe life
into Bugatti again, since we are now build-
ing luxury and sports-cars? Ideas became
Throughout the last century, numerous au-
plans, plans developed into actions, and
tomakers around the world struggled and
VW bought the rights to Bugatti.
disappeared for different reasons. After the
great depression and after World War II a
Flash-back: In 1961 car collector Mills Lane
number of manufacturers, especially in Eu-
discovered a complete, but decaying Bugatti
rope, were unable to get back on their feet -
Royale, one of only seven made, known as
make that tires-, lacking factories, funds or
the Binder Coupe de Ville. Beautifully re-
stored, it became part of the Harrah collec-
tion. After Harrah’s death, and two complex
Bugatti was one of the unfortunate ones.
ownership changes later, new owner Lyon
After its founder had died in 1947, the com-
learned of Volkswagen’s connection with
pany still developed new models. But mon-
Bugatti. Negotiators worked overtime, and
ey was scarce, customers for high priced
in 1999 the Binder Coupe de Ville went to
cars needed every coin to rebuild their own
VW’s Wolfsburg home, forecasting the Bu-
businesses; In 1963 Bugatti closed its
Despite everything, car lovers did not aban-
don the famous Bugatti. In 1989 Romano
Artioli purchased the Bugatti marque and
built a modern factory in the sportscar capi-
tal Modena, where Ferrari, Lamborghini and
Maserati practice their craft.
The new Bugatti was an advanced super-
car, named EB110 – to indicate its debut 110 years after the birth of Ettore Bugatti.
The car was engineered by Paolo Stanzani
and styled by Marcello Gandini, both of
Lamborghini Countach fame.
Closing a door to the old, and opening a window on the new Bugatti
Far too many supercars, —Lamborghini,
In the meantime, the Beetle boss had com-
Ferrari, Jaguar, McLaren and Yamaha (!),
missioned Giorgetto Giugiaro of ItalDesign
to create a ’study model’ for display at the
tional Motorshow, Volkswagen presented
Paris Motor Show 1998. This unmistakable
the Bugatti 18/3 ‘Chiron’.
four-door saloon recaptured Bugatti features
such as the ‘horse-shoe grille’. “EB 118”
The Bugatti tradition of successful sports
reveals it as show-model number 1 with an
cars is reflected in the name chosen for this
design study, which commemorates former
Bugatti factory drivers.
At each major auto show that followed, a
revised concept (video) was shown: next Next came the Paris show in 2000 with a
came the EB 218, again referring to the 18-sixteen cylinder concept car, EB 16/4 ‘Vey-
cylinder engine, the first ever used in a pas-
ron’, another famous pre-war racing-driver
senger vehicle. This VW-developed engine
and Le Mans winner.
has three rows of 6-cylinder banks, joined in
a "W" outline. At the 1999 Frankfurt Interna-
Emphasizing the Bugatti heritage and the official French racing colors - blue Later, at the Geneva show, visitors were
some automobile will anchor the Bugatti
stunned by two Bugattis, the Veyron, su-
brand pavilion at VW's ‘Autostadt’ theme-
perbly re-done in burgundy and black and
park in Wolfsburg.
accompanied by the Royale in the same
striking colors. A Bugatti Royale is seldom
Developing a new car requires five to seven seen in public, since so few exist. This awe-years; Bugatti can take advantage of its
W16 engine having been developed by its
Scheduled for introduction next year ,
sister-company Bentley. In the Veyron the
the new Bugatti is undergoing the standard
engine develops 1001 HP by adding four
VW long-term tests of 50,000 km each, in
turbo-chargers. This coupe is two inches
the arctic and in the desert.
shorter than a Porsche 911. With all-wheel-
drive, a seven-speed transmission and mid-
engine-handling it will reach 400 km/h.
Only fifty Veyrons will be assembled every As we are preparing this for publication dur-year, and two dozen customers are reported
ing the summer of 2011, comes the news
to have made a deposit of 300,000 Euros.
that the last of 300 Veyron has been sold, to
be delivered at the end of 2012.
The new Bugatti will truly be a car for rulers,
- in a positive sense - rulers of the road, and
A few special edition models were crafted the king of cars, a worthy successor to the
as well: polished aluminum, convertibles,
Royale and other Bugattis of an era long
and one with porcelain inlays inside and out.
As well, some related articles and more in-
teresting news about a four-door successor.
Viva la Bugatti!
If you are handy with paper and scissors,
Veyron: Not for the shy and timid: Asymmetric paint-art and porcelain inlays
Galibier: Quiet elegance and opulence
Numerous automakers started by producing horse-drawn wagons
A car company with more than 150 years in
shoreline. — Of course, that is General Mo-
existence? How come we never heard of
tors Canada’s headquarter building.
Tatra, on the other hand, had a much more Tatra is that exception in today’s world of
tumultuous past. The home country of the
bottom-line priority with “buy it, fix it, split it
small town of Nesselsdorf (Koprivnice since
up and sell it”. This vehicle manufacturer is
the area became Czechoslovakia) near the
located in what is now the Czech Republic.
Tatra mountain range is bordered by Poland
Its background as a wagon builder goes
in the north, Austria in the south, Germany
back to 1850; as an automaker, Tatra is the
in the west and north-west and, lately, Slo-
third oldest in the world after Daimler-Benz
vakia in the east.
The small wagon factory goes back to the
industrial revolution in Bohemia and Mora-
via. Its first expansion came around 1862
and included the purchase of a steam en-
gine. With power operated saws, lathes,
grinding and sanding machines, the firm
could build more vehicles, and business
They added production of high quality semi-
and fully covered luxury coaches and
Streamlined Tatra of the 1930s
showed them around Central Europe,
Studebaker had a very similar history and
spreading the good name of the Tatra plant.
background, building horse-drawn carriages
About 150 artisans produced almost 1200
and coaches during the 1800s. When en-
horse-drawn vehicles per year.
gines of various types became available,
the firm made horse-less carriages. Stu-
In the early 1880s a railway was construct-
debaker was a major producer of fine auto-
ed nearby, and Tatra was given the contract
mobiles until the middle of the last century.
to manufacture the railway cars. This re-
One of the defunct company’s famous mod-
quired more space; additional buildings had
els, the Avanti sportscar, has undergone
to be constructed to house a foundry, as
several revival attempts. Sadly, Studebaker
well as assembly space. This in turn meant
now only exists in the clubs whose mem-
more money was needed, and the firm con-
bers keep its cars and memory alive.
verted into a joint stock company.
The Canadian McLaughlin Carriage Works
had an almost parallel beginning and met-
amorphosis. The difference is that this es-
tablishment joined another company and
still carries on business under the new
name. Puzzled? Here’s a hint: with that new
name on the building, you can see it from
highway 401, when approaching Oshawa
from points east. The stately structure on
Colonel Sam Drive is partly surrounded by a
sheltered bay of Lake Ontario’s marshland
Tatra limousine of the Soviet era
After much prodding from an enthusiastic
After the war, their cars became more mod-
patron, the development of horseless car-
ern. Czechoslovakia sent 168 Tatras to
riages started in 1897. One year later, a 2.5-
Canada in 1950 in return for food. The
ton truck was added, and several different
communist government then did not allow
passenger vehicles were developed. The
repair parts to be shipped to Canada. That’s
first car made for racing by the Koprivnice
why nobody heard of Tatra anymore.
factory came in 1900, its maximum speed
Under Soviet government, cars were not a
priority; trucks and buses were needed. Pol-
Baron Liebig, Tatra’s patron, was the most
itics in the ‘80s and early ‘90s almost
successful racing driver of the Koprivnice
brought the once mighty business to its
factory in the early 20th century.
knees. One hundred years of car production
came to an end in 1998; Tatra produced
Tatra’s technical manager, Hans Ledwinka,
trucks only since that time.
recognized early that automobiles must be
produced more economically and simpler,
and appeal to the general population, not
just the rich. He started to develop a line of
cars with similar technical features, as well
as engines based on the same basic de-
sign. Over time, a number of models were
introduced, based on sound design and
A 12 passenger steam-powered bus was
also developed during that time; production
now included cars, trucks, buses and rail-
Ledwinka was the first to create a car with
The company is now privately owned by an
an air-cooled rear engine in a streamlined
industrialist from Texas. Tatra is presently
body, with swing axle suspension and a
producing a successful range of primarily
central tube frame. Sounds familiar? Ferdi-
all-wheel-drive 4x4, 6x6, 8x8, 10x10 and
nand Porsche acknowledged that he “may
12x12 trucks for industrial use and other off-
have looked over Hans’ shoulder”. Both of
road purposes, sold around the world.
these pioneers lived and worked in close
proximity in the days of the automobile’s
coming of age.
Even Tatra trucks had independent rear
suspension, a definitive advantage in rough
terrain. Truck production flourished, but the
unusual passenger cars did not become
At the start of World War II the Germans
occupied Czechoslovakia, and after the end
of the war the Soviets did. Despite all the
hardship, the skilled craftspeople of this
Some folks are outright passionate about
small country did not lose their pride in
building with quality.
Like a cat, this car seems to have nine lives
The Saab story is a sob story: another car-
the company decided to use the plant for
maker facing extinction.
the production of cars. With a background
and expertise in aerodynamics, is it any
You heard it on the News far too many
surprise that the early cars looked more like
times: Chrysler salvaged and controlled by
aircraft with their teardrop shape, than the
Fiat; Ford selling Volvo; General Motors
usual three-box cars? To build the ‘fuselage’
selling Hummer, closing down Pontiac, try-
was no problem, but what about the en-
ing to sell Saturn, then eliminating the “dif-
gine? They had none, and SAAB had no
ferent kind of car”. They’re all ‘local’, all
understanding of small car power-plants.
easy to ‘keep an eye on’; what went wrong?
Overseas, it was German Opel and British
Vauxhall, snatched from the clutches of the
competition by a miracle yet to happen. It’s
general confusion at the ‘General’s’ head-
Moreover, that happened just during the last
twelve months, during 2010.
Companies, whether having been a century
or a decade in the marketplace, whether
Auto-Union /DKW (now Audi) had engines
alone or tied to a conglomerate, - none are
that would be an excellent choice for a small
safe when it comes to the ‘bottom line’
vehicle; and so they used the good old reli-
drawn on a sheet of paper.
able German 2-cylinder, two-stroke engine
in the first Saab sold in 1950. Like the DKW,
Hanging on for dear life into 2010, treading
the Saab had front-wheel drive and it too
water, waiting to be rescued by one after
proved to have excellent handling. When
another of failed attempts – by its American
DKW changed to a three-cylinder engine
parent first, then by two small car compa-
with a new model, so did Saab.
nies, by government, bank or investment
firm, Saab is now facing its so-called mas-
Saabs excelled in wintery conditions, espe-
ters in Detroit and their decision, good or
cially in rally competition, claiming many
victories in snowy northern New York State,
where Saab took a strong early foothold
Many car companies had their origin long
with a dealership in Watertown more than
ago in bicycle making, but one of the
fifty years ago. Coming across the border
younger automakers, this Swedish company
into Ontario, Homer Trotter became a leg-
‘fell out of the sky’. Svenska Aeroplan Aktie-
end on the rally circuit with his Saab. His
Bolaget (SAAB) in Trollhättan made air-
success became Saab’s success around
planes since 1937 before it started to pro-
the Great Lakes.
duce cars in 1950.
During the first industry-wide attempts at
After World War II SAAB no longer needed
pollution control, Saab used a V-4 engine
to make airplanes (they did again later), and
from Ford of Europe in 1967. At another
time Saabs were propelled by an engine it
Merbanco, a group of Wyoming-based pri-
shared with the Triumph TR7 sportscar. Af-
vate investors. Dutch niche automaker
ter merging in 1969 with Scania, Sweden’s
Spyker (which uses Audi engines) had 3
heavy-duty truck maker (now owned by
offers rebuked, then managed to acquire
Volkswagen), Saab engineers developed
their first engine, used from 1972 on.
[This venture did not last long and Saab has
Soon catching up to the rest of the industry
not produced cars since the spring of 2011]
in engine technology, Saab developed sys-
tems that are unique, even in the new mil-
Various parties were still interested despite
lennium, such as variable compression ratio
General Motors having already sold some of
on the fly – to adjust for a variety of charac-
ets and proprietary technology to
teristics in alternative fuels. Saab also re-
Chinese Beijing Automotive Industry Hold-
introduced the all but abandoned upper-
class four-seat convertible to North Ameri-
God and GM work in mysterious ways.
ca, re-designed with all applicable safety
One journalist put it this way: “Hey, it's not
as if GM needs to close Saab for the corpo-
rate tax write off; GM still gets to use all of
that bad debt from "the old GM" for future
Saab cars were always unique, love them or
hate them, and soon they will be missed —
unless General Motors postpones another
deadline or changes its corporate mind one
more time; in the meantime confusion con-
Perhaps this, and surely other reasons,
prompted General Motors to acquire a fifty
percent share in Saab in 1989 and complete
Two years on, Saab is still negotiating with
ownership in 2000. Supposedly, Saab lost
potential new investors.
money in all but one year under its Detroit
[In early 2012 Turkey showed interest, and
at the end of January (as we prepare this
for publication), the Mayor of Trollhättan,
Despite that, one source reports that 29 par-
Saab’s hometown, together with a large
ties allegedly expressed interest in buying
delegation, traveled to China to renew ne-
Saab from troubled General Motors in re-
gotiations with a previously interested inves-
cent times. Among them were BMW, Re-
tor, whom General Motors previously did not
nault, the Hyundai-Kia group, Tata Motors,
wish to be involved with Saab].
Geely Automobile, Fiat and Magna. Saab
held talks with three selected bidders, re-
We hope that, like a cat, Saab will land on
portedly with the Renco Group, with
its feet, err, on its wheels soon.
Koenigsegg (Swedish specialty carmaker)
having financial backing from a Chinese au-
tomaker and Norwegian investors, and with
Life is 440 horsepower in a 2-cylinder engine Henry Miller, American author, 1891-1980
The horsepower race is on again! Reports
Charger, Roadrunner and others stir memo-
abound about exotic V-10, V-12 and sixteen
ries of cars with 400 plus horsepower. Four
cylinder engines with the power of up to one
hundred ‘ponies’ was heady horsepower for
so called family cars, when not even seat-
belts were required. Disc brakes were al-
The 1960s are remembered as the era of
most unheard of, and safety equipment, we
the muscle cars. From year to year manu-
would not be without today, had never been
facturers tried to out-do each other with in-
thought of yet.
creased engines and ever climbing power
output; that’s when the term ‘horsepower
The horse-power race ended when the oil
race’ was coined. Fuel consumption mat-
crisis of the 1970s overpowered thirsty gas-
tered little, because gasoline was inexpen-
guzzlers. Fuel prices went up, up and up,
sive and plentiful. ‘Big block’ engines over
and before long nobody wanted horsepow-
400 cubic inches of displacement, some
er, but economy. Customers demanded
topping 500 cid, were commonplace. (6.5
cheap to run –meaning lighter, low-power
liters to over 8 l.)
cars, and manufacturers were compelled to
Front-wheel-drive (FWD) cars began to pro-
liferate, than dominate the market. These
cars could be built lighter, because the
smaller drive-trains left more passenger
room, and cars became smaller, and lighter
Most of us drove four-cylinder FWD cars for
at least the last decade.
Now, times are changing again. Back in
demand are more powerful engines. Only a
few years ago, 300 horsepower was con-
sidered a serious performance target. Four
hundred ‘ponies’ was a far off target for the
new, small, computerized engines for many
years. Now, 500 hp seems to be the new
threshold, before being accepted as a seri-
ous sports or even luxury car.
But style is also back in vogue, evident by
the return of such familiar shapes as the
From 1967 Rod and Custom magazine
New Beetle and New Mini, the Ford GT40 of
[Looking for suitable pictures, I came across the
Le Mans-winning fame, and such popular
story of the BMW Isetta with a V12 Allison air-
cars as the Mustang, making a near return
plane engine. While in the original car the front
to the original shape in 2005. The Daim-
door was used, the driver of this slightly(!) modi-
lerChrysler PT Cruiser and the funky Prowl-
fied micro car had to add a rear door to enter]
er take us back to the 1930s, and General
Motors will soon join that trend with the SSR
As ferocious as the engines, so were the
pickup, the HHR wagon, and a re-make of
names of cars they powered: Barracuda,
the mid-fifties’ Nomad, the sought-after sta-
tion-wagon brother of the famous ‘55/6/7
Porsche makes some of the fastest cars in
the world, and the new ‘Carrera GT’ tops
Combining new style with power, here is a
cross section of the finest ’new muscle-cars’
Rolls-Royce is not normally known for high-
the industry offers:
performance, but it has undergone a mas-
sive makeover to heighten power, with a
Audi and others in the Volkswagen Group
500-hp engine, to befit its level of excel-
are offering several high-power models for
membership in the ‘ 500-HP-Club’; From
Bentley’s new GT Coupe you would not ex-
Pickups have also joined the horsepower
pect anything less in power to match its
race; will SUVs be next?
splendor. The VW Group’s Bugatti ‘Veyron’
ultra luxury sportscar, due later this year,
Last but not least, we have to give credit (?)
promises to deliver 1001 horsepower.
to McLaren, who just before the turn of the
century started the horsepower and super-
BMW’s next M5 performance sedan, and an
car craze with the F1.
all-new M6 coupe could be powered by a
road-going version of the V-10s used by the
Formula 1 Williams/BMW.
DaimlerChrysler’s redesigned Dodge Viper
V-10 gets an even 500 hp, and the Chrysler
mid-engine V12 concept car offers 850 hp –
THE sensation at this year’s Detroit Auto
Ferrari’s new 575M will easily ‘make the
club’, with 515 horses, while the exotic For-
mula One-inspired ‘Enzo’ will produce over
Ford’s re-created GT40 is expected to be a
“club 500” member, and Aston-Martin, Jag-
Are these magnificent motor cars the mus-
uar and Saleen are waiting in the wings.
cle cars of the twenty-first century? Or are
they the industry’s last “power struggle” with
General Motors’ new Cadillac CTSV and the
internal combustion engines, before the ad-
next Corvette should ‘push 500’. The ‘Cien’
vent of hybrids and hydrogen vehicles?
supercar prototype makes 750hp and the
Cadil ac ‘Sixteen’ concept car promises one
A potential step closer to a hydrogen infra-
structure for transportation happened in On-
tario in the fall: A group of Canadian fuel cell
Lamborghini’s V-12-powered Murcielago
companies is pushing the idea of a 900 kil-
has ‘only’ 575 hp.
ometer “hydrogen corridor” between Wind-
sor/Detroit and Montreal with enough hy-
Maybach, the reborn luxury marque from
drogen fuelling stations to support fuel cell
DaimlerChrysler, produces over 550 hp.
and hydrogen vehicles.
Mercedes-Benz is emphasizing perfor-
Welcome to a new era.
mance with an expanding line-up from its
tuner division, AMG.
[written in February 2004]
Foreign Fords or homegrown Hondas, which one is a ‘domestic’?
I’m confused. Do you stil know which cars
or General Motors vehicle a domestic, when are foreign or domestic? Is your car or truck
they are built in Brazil, Korea or Sweden? Is
made by a Big Three or a ‘Group of Seven’
the MG stil a British car when it’s made by
a Chinese company? Can you explain that?
“Can you tell the difference? I can’t see the
Just as much ‘history’ as the concept of
difference! Is there any difference?” This
domestic and imported vehicles is, so is the
well-used advertising slogan applies equally
term Big Three automakers. With Ford re-
well to automobiles, when it comes to North
placed in 2003 as ‘Number Two’ by Toyota,
American versus so-called imported cars.
and Volkswagen out-selling Chrysler, even
counting in the Daimler part of that new
Canada lost the difference between Cana-
company, people now have to look at the
dian vs. American-made models after 1965,
motorized world through a different wind-
when the Auto Pact eliminated restrictions shield.
between our two countries, concerning mo-
tor vehicles. No longer able to differentiate
tors have a Joint Venture, supplying each as ‘American’, not made in Canada or USA.
other with fashionable cross-over-vehicles,
nee station wagons. Ford will get Diesel en-
With global free trade progressing “on the
gines from Renault/Nissan, Saturn will use
multi-nationals, not only
motor vehicle manufac-
products at a location
best suited to their mar-
ket and/or the ‘bottom
The global economy is
hiding international bor-
ders, when considering
trade and commerce.
We are becoming a
global village when se-
Chinese are striving to
Honda engines, etc.
Americans (that includes Canadians) are
taking a liking to compact mini vans and mi-
American Chevrolet Aveo is produced at former Korean
Daewoo and sold in North America
Is a Honda, Toyota or Volkswagen an im-
What is this world coming to? Could the
ported car when they are produced in Amer-
Ford-owned British Jaguar get a German-
ica? (Canada, USA or Mexico) Or is a Ford
invented Wankel engine built by Japanese
Mazda? The consequence could be a ‘cat’
purring as smoothly as that Le Mans-
winning rotary engine.
If only the world’s leaders (the G7)
could get along as well as the world’s
seven largest car makers! They now
build better quality, more economical,
ecology friendly, easy to maintain, hard
to repair, long warranty, low interest
rate cars in one-hundred-plus coun-
tries. Could it be true that humans are
becoming wiser? The ‘global vil age’ is
certainly expanding and those who
don’t accept the changing values wil
be left behind as the ‘vil age idiots’.
Even the UAW (United Auto Workers) can-
not keep up with all the cross-overs from
are built by non-union workers, such as the
country to country.
above 1984 Mexican-built Beetle 1200L
sold in Germany with Brazilian wheels
There was a time when imports were not
allowed on their headquarters’ parking lot at
Toyota Camry, the Honda Odyssey, and
the Solidarity House in Detroit. They now
other makes and models.
suggest that consumers buy so-called
UAW-made vehicles, regardless of the
"As a consumer, you want the maximum
manufacturer's nationality. That situation
amount of competition, the maximum
has been fuzzy for some time, but it is get-
amount of car dealerships and manufactur-
ting downright foggy with the increase of
ers competing for your business because
European and Asian auto and parts plants
you know you'll get the best price and the
across the southern USA. Some of the best-
best value," Mark Perry said. He should
known “US makes” are built in Canada and
know, he is professor of economics and
Mexico, like the Ford Windstar minivan,
chairperson of the Department of Econom-
which is made in Oakville, Ontario, and
ics at the University of Michigan-Flint. “And
some Dodge Ram pickups, made in Mexico.
besides”, he said, "the overwhelming ma-
Some brands are built by UAW workers,
jority of buyers in America don't care.
while other brands made in the Americas
They're looking for a vehicle that best suits
their needs at the best price. They don't
care where it comes from and what it's
called." He continued: "They travel all
over the world when they go on vaca-
tion. They get all these advantages of
a global market -- more selection, bet-
ter prices, higher value," Perry said.
"The vehicle market is just a good ex-
ample of a market that used to be
pretty much exclusively domestic.
Now, over the years, it has gone com-
Japanese Suzuki, produced in India, sold in Europe
‘Doctor of Motors’ is a really difficult profession
Ring–ring. Ring-ring. ——
because “it’s only done a few kilometers
since the last service”.
“This is Dr. Payne, how can I help you?”
When feeling threatened, doctors stand up
“Doctor, I heard you specialize in this; —this
against governments, old mechanics cannot
pain is killing me, could you give me a pre-
even stand up straight; Doctors acquire their
scription for that, or do you think I need an-
own stethoscope, mechanics must buy a
multitude of hand-tools, power-tools and
special tools; Doctors can incorporate to
“Take two Aspirin and call me in the morn-
lessen their tax burden, mechanics can‘t
ing” is not what any person of sound mind
deduct anything, although their toolbox con-
would answer to that.
tains more than one year’s wages in equip-
ment; Medical specialists are sent to attend
The automotive equivalent, which I experi-
conventions, technicians are expected to
enced all too often, is this: “Hello, my car
educate themselves after hours; Patients
makes this noise at the front; what do you
are regularly sent to specialists, automotive
think it is, and how much will it cost to fix?”
service personnel have to content with ob-
scure, intermittent problems and dirty, hot
engines; Depressed patients are sent for
therapy, unhappy customers are sent to
“talk to the mechanic directly”.
I don’t envy the poor guys – and girls – who
have to convince already irate customers
that the problem is not what they insist it is,
that it will take more time than they are will-
ing to wait, and that it will cost more than
what they want to pay.
The doctor’s office will give the patient a
precisely timed appointment, months from
V-8 engines of a by-gone era left enough room for access
now. You could be charged if you miss the
It is ludicrous, but expected, to diagnose car
appointment, but when you get there, you
problems over the telephone; it’s difficult
usually have to wait your turn, ‘ patiently’.
enough with the ‘ patient’ in the workshop. It
can be harder than diagnosing people prob-
Let’s have a little consideration for the au-
tomotive professionals. Yes, they are pro-
fessionals; Not only your life and the safety
Doctors have only two models to worry
of your family depends on their knowledge
about, but they stil ”practice” medicine. Pa-
and skill, but also the lives of people you
tients can verbalize what ails them, and
meet and pass during your travels.
many symptoms are well known.
Today’s ‘ Doctor of Motors’ (yes, automotive
Motor vehicles’ models number in the hun-
technicians can earn that tile, after undergo-
dreds, change on a regular basis and often
ing a comprehensive examination at one
don’t show any symptoms when brought in
automotive company) must have thorough
for repair. Yet, many customers expect an
knowledge of mechanics, hydraulics, pneu-
instant answer, a quick fix and no charge, -
matics, electronics and electrics in order to
cure current-day multi-computerized per-
burnt. Manual-transmission gear oil tends to
sonal transportation devices of any ailment.
be more on the brown side, and compara-
Diagnosing an intermittent malfunction in a
recent motor vehicle takes part experience,
part technological knowledge, logical rea-
* Red is probably power steering fluid. The
soning, and technical detective work.
power steering system is supposed to be a
completely sealed system and never lose
No matter how well educated your auto-tech
may be, s/he can use your help in analyzing
your car’s problem, just as your health
* Pale green, orange or yellow sweet-
smelling fluid is coolant/antifreeze. Be care-
professional needs your input for a success-
ful with this toxic fluid if you have pets; they
are attracted to its sweet smell. Coolant
leaks can originate in many different places
As a regular reader of this column you know
most of this. But let all of us remember that
today’s auto-tech had to gain more
knowledge and more information during the
last decade, than during the half century
before that, and the need to understand
chemistry as well; That’s coming down the
More on diagnosing problems from the
Bluetooth in Automotive Diagnostics
It is getting more cramped under the hood of modern cars
“Bluetooth is a low range, low power wire-
Fluids are the lifeblood of a motor vehicle.
less communication standard. It intends to
They cool, lubricate, seal and transfer pres-
replace cables that communicate devices of
sure. When any of the usually seven differ-
peripherals that are close to the user or
ent fluids leak, it is often an early signal of
mechanical problems to come.
In many applications cables limit perfor-
You can be an effective assistant to your
mance and ability to perform certain tasks.
car-care provider in preventing major prob-
We are so used to live with cables around
lems with your vehicle by pointing out what
us, that we hardly think how to do more
type of fluid you may find under your car or
tasks or behave different without them.
truck. A piece of cardboard is a good collec-
tor. Each fluid looks, feels, or smells slightly
different, so use the following color refer-
* Brown or black is usually engine oil. If it
smells slightly like gasoline, then it certainly
is engine oil. Older engines will normally
use (burn) a small amount of oil, but they're
not supposed to leak oil.
* Reddish-brown fluid is most likely auto-
matic transmission fluid, if your car is so
Scarcely room to place a hand in VW 412 ‘Squareback’
equipped. If it's dirty, it will smell faintly
Small-town reporter invited to try out various fuel cell vehicles
An opportunity I would not miss — usually
To produce a large usable amount of elec-
reserved for the ‘big names’ from Road &
tricity to supply homes, offices, industries,
Track, Car and Driver, Motor Trend, or jour-
etc., multiple fuel cells are combined into a
nalists of large newspapers. Lucky me!
fuel cell stack. The stack is essentially an
assembly of fuel cells, designed to produce
After writing about automotive topics for
a sufficient quantity of electricity to power a
more than three years, including a series on
vehicle. The electricity generated can be
fuel-cells, I unexpectedly received an invita-
increased or decreased by altering the
tion to a ‘ fuel-cell workshop’ from Hydrogen-number of cells in the stack.
ics in Mississauga, a suburb of Toronto.
Producing electricity for a working applica-
tion, such as a motor or an appliance, re-
quires much more than just the fuel cell
stack. In addition to the stack, a fuel cell
system includes many components for such
functions as injecting fuel gases, managing
a water cooling system, conditioning the
output power, and monitoring and control-
ling all the required system parameters such
as temperatures and pressures. Without this
supportive operating system, the fuel cell
stack cannot produce usable power. The
successful integration of an entire fuel cell
system is critical to achieving the desired
There I found myself in the company of pro-
fessionals from various disciplines, from as
far away as northern Quebec, California and
“Changing power … Powering change” is
from across Canada. Hydrogenics’ special-
ists gave us an insight into their occupation,
takings turns in presenting the subject of
“A fuel cell is a device that converts chemi-
cal energy from hydrogen and oxygen into
electrical energy to produce electricity. It is
similar to a battery in that it has an anode or
negative terminal and a cathode or positive
terminal. A battery, however, is only capable
of storing power, whereas the fuel cell can
generate it, so long as hydrogen, the fuel, is
being supplied. As such, the fuel cell system
also has similarities to an internal combus-
tion engine, except that it operates very effi-
A real gas station of the future – H2 gas, that is — hydrogen
ciently at low temperatures and with minimal
moving parts. In the process of electro-
With more than fifty years experience in
chemical conversion to create electricity, the
working with hydrogen, the recent construc-
only by-products or emissions of the fuel
tion of hydrogen generation equipment,
cell are water and heat.
producing various sizes of fuel-cell power
units, and building test equipment to evalu-
ate it all, Hydrogenics is facing the ‘hydro-
the CNE grounds refuel John Deere ‘Pro
gen economy’ with poise.
Gator’ work vehicles, forklifts and future
fuel-cell vehicles at this, Toronto’s first true
A visit to, and demonstration of this power
plant was part of the immensely interesting
fuel-cell workshop, in connection with driv-
ing carious fuel cell demonstration vehicles.
After returning to Hydrogenics, they showed
us the work in progress: fuel-cell power
modules of various sizes and outputs, hy-
drogen generators and the test stands. On
one of these was humming a fuel-cell that
would complete a seven-thousand hour test
on the next day. This is the equivalent of
almost 750,000 km endured by an internal
combustion engine in an automobile.
On-site electrolyzer and storage cylinders
As I reported in earlier columns, different
types of fuel-cell vehicles (FCV) are being
tested around the world; passenger cars,
buses and delivery vans. We had the
chance to drive a Purolator van and one of
the new generation of ‘city cars’, the small
Behind the refueling station the wind turbine that generates
two-seat commuter vehicles. Like the
electricity to pump water from Lake Ontario and convert that
into hydrogen, which is used to power Public Works vehicles
‘smart’, the GEM is a micro car. But while
of the City of Toronto.
the ‘smart’ is diesel or gasoline powered,
Toronto partnered with Hydrogenics in a
the GEM (Global Electric Motorcar) is an
‘Fuel Cel Demonstration Project’. As a part
electric car. Both of these companies be-
of several future ‘Hydrogen Vil ages’, a
long to DaimlerChrysler. The GEM comes in
wind-power generator at the Canadian Na-
two and four seat versions and as a pickup.
tional Exhibition Park supplies ‘green’ ele
Several of these cute ‘gems’ are in for an
tricity, which in turn powers the Hydrogenics
organ transplant; the battery pack is re-
‘Electrolyser’ generator, producing hydrogen
placed by a Hydrogenics fuel-cell. Just as
from water. The gas is stored in four large
the smart is a riot to drive, creating traffic
cylinders, adjacent to Toronto’s first hydro-
jams from people trying to get a glimpse at
gen fuel pump. City employees working in
it, the GEM is off to a fast start. But, being a
‘city car’ its top speed is limited.
Thanks to Hydrogenics, Ballard, and other
Canadian firms, the time of a fuel-cell pow-
ered cell phone, automobile, or home is get-
ting closer; the Hydrogen Age is dawning.
Driving FCVs, city staff keep Toronto’s parks beautiful
Shown here are some of the vehicles being
modified by Hydrogenics during my visit,
powered by a fuel cell instead of internal
Hyster FC forklift used by General Motors in Oshawa
combustion engine; witnessing the transition
from the ICE age to the Hydrogen (H2) Age.
Purolator is testing fuel cell delivery truck in Toronto
All photographs thanks to Hydrogenics
“Safety is no accident”
Seatbelts save lives, but it’s not always
clear who should be buckled in which seat.
"We're talking about creating cars that don't
Infants MUST face the rear of the car, in a
have accidents," says director of engineer-
special baby-carrier in the back seat. Tod-
ing Dr. Andrew Brown Jr, of Delphi Corp.
dlers and small children up to a certain
weight must sit in a child safety seat. More
Canada is playing a crucial role in the cur-
information on this is available at seat and
rent  six-year effort to establish global
car retailers and from police. Confusion still
safety standards among 22 nations. North
exists on how to properly buckle child-seats;
America, China, Japan, Australia and mem-
a new Universal Child Safety Seat Standard
bers of the European Union must adopt
is coming, which uses an easier tether set-
equal regulations for this to happen. Com-
up to correctly install new seats.
panies and customers will benefit from
manufacturers being able to avoid duplica-
tion and cut development time.
The drive to design and manufacture safer
automobiles started in the early 1950s. The
Hungarian engineer Béla Barényi, working at Mercedes-Benz, was the first to discover
that in a collision, kinetic energy must be
absorbed through deformation in order for the occupants to be protected. He logically
split the car body into three "boxes": a soft
front section, a rigid passenger cell and a
soft rear section. Other early efforts of the
automobile industry to reduce collision inju-
ries resulted in collapsible steering columns,
padded dashboards, steering-wheel impact
plates, head-rests, lap belts, seat-back
Rear-facing safe & happy toddler
Photo by Mitsubishi
You owe it to yourself and your family to
choose the safest vehicle by checking the
crash-test ratings. Three out of four vehicle
shoppers are citing safety as the prime fac-
tor in making their choice, before economy,
power, styling, etc. Seat comfort and being
at ease with a car's controls play a very im-
portant role in safety. Some vehicles are
now equipped with adjustable pedals to help
shorter drivers get a safer position. The
driver should be no closer to the steering
Inflating seatbelts tested at Ford in 2011
wheel than 25 cm, about an arm’s length,
for the airbag to offer its best protection.
Most of us remember the introduction of
shoulder seatbelts and airbags. The Nation-
Today, every vehicle manufacturer has
al Highway Traffic Safety Administration es-
safety-engineering departments, exploring
timates that this has saved more than
new ways and systems. Innovative materi-
100,000 people from dying in car accidents
als and electronics deliver and promise
between 1975 and 1997.
more involved safety measures.
Toyota (and other automakers) are working
items and systems, such as:
to integrate all separate-functioning systems
adaptive turning lights
into Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Manage-
black ice sensors
ment (VDIM). Through an array of sensors,
lane departure sensors with virtual
actuators and controllers, VDIM seamlessly
rumble strips warning drivers by vi-
coordinates the functions of braking, steer-
brating the left or right seat-edge
ing, vehicle stability and traction control sys-
sleep sensors – a camera focusing
tems. The electronic control begins before
on the driver’s eyes and emitting a
the vehicle reaches its limits, offering pre-
ventive safety performance.
adaptive cruise control that keeps
your vehicle at a safe distance from
others regardless of speed
intelligent brakes and steering, over-
ruling the driver if a potential impact
Before all this functions faultlessly, cars will
have door-locks that remain closed during a
collision or crash. Outside airbags will pre-
vent a pedestrian from hitting the wind-
shield, or, already functional at Honda and
others, the hood raises itself partially at the
Honda all-weather indoor crash-test center. High speed
windshield for the same purpose. Flexible
cameras on all sides of impact point.
materials could also be used to lessen a
small impact, with ‘memory’ to return to their
Another new item, but soon mandatory in
new automobiles, will be a tire-pressure
Mercedes just patented another major ad-
vance in safety-structures with the A-class,
Run-flat tires, first developed in racing, are
and Volvo has the reputation of being
now available on some cars. Their strong
among the safest of motor vehicles.
sidewalls can support the tire in a normal
position – but only at reduced speed and for
a limited distance. Without air in the “flat”
Even in the most advanced cars, the best
safety device is still an alert, skilled driver.
tire, the vehicle must be driven gently. VDIM
could limit a vehicle’s
when that condition
Not lifesavers, but sav-
ing insurance claims
and expensive body
and automatic parking
Car of the
In the near future we
will see a multitude of
additional new active
and passive safety
Modern monuments to motorcars
Washington, Paris, Moscow, Ottawa; We
towers; all are monuments to human inge-
think “politics” when we hear those names.
nuity and resourcefulness. Pharaohs,
Matters affecting our daily lives are con-
kings, sheikhs and princesses left us memo-
nected with these names. But what is more
rable constructions. In modern times, the
important for our daily existence than our
wealth created by industrious workers is
cars? Going to work, to school, to the store,
expressed in office towers and headquarter
the playground, to see our friends and fami-
buildings. Libraries, museums, and places
ly, all by car.
of performing arts celebrate human culture
and our way of life.
Mention Detroit, and every person alive rec-
ognizes that city as the car-capital of the
Automobiles have improved the life of the
world. Oshawa, we were told, is “The City
general public during the last one hundred
that “motivates” Canada”. How many people
years in every country they are produced in,
do you think know that? What about Oak-
economically and in lifestyle. An array of
ville? Does everybody who drives a Ford
tributes to the automobile have been fash-
know that some models are made there?
ioned to celebrate its influence: Murals,
Windsor? A little better: the Chrysler Wind-
sculptures, songs, movies, race-tracks, mu-
sor was an admired model, and a “Windsor
seums and the business buildings the auto
engine” is recognized by enthusiasts.
firms operate from; the spectacular setting
and surroundings of the Canadian GM
Stuttgart? Sounds familiar? You are a car
headquarters mentioned before; the “Four
enthusiast if you connect that city with Benz,
Cylinder Building” of BMW in Munich: four
Daimler and Porsche, all pioneers whose
round office towers; the striking new design
names are now on factories in that city.
centers of most car companies and many
beautiful bridges connecting charming cit-
Turin, beside the recent Olympic Winter
Games, is known (really?) as the car styling
capital of the world.
Volkswagen, Europe’s largest car maker,
has taken the architectural tribute one step
What about Wolfsburg? If you drive a
further: they have constructed Auto-City,
Volkswagen you may even know that city as
Autostadt in German, where 13 buildings
house administration, museums, delivery
centers, hotels, restaurants and much more
Cities of politics have built majestic struc-
in a park-like setting.
tures that stand out, “monumental” build-
ings; our Parliament Building, Toronto City
Despite being an automotive theme park,
Hall, the White House, the Kremlin, castles
ample activities for children are provided:
from the medieval times.
they can walk through a giant model of an
internal combustion engine or drive in go-
Cities of industry are repeating that exam-
kart-sized New Beetles while learning about
ple. Remember seeing the General Motors
traffic safety. A computer lets children ac-
headquarters by Lake Ontario, just east of
cessorize and modify Volkswagen vehicles,
to Oshawa on Highway 401? Perhaps you
and a photograph of that car is printed.
have seen the old Chrysler building on a trip
to New York City?
Educational displays and activities are
available for all ages: visitors can plant a
Architecture is one way for humans to con-
seed that will grow into a plant to be har-
vey greatness: pyramids, castles, bridges,
vested for bio-fuel; a machine in the safety
center allows the sensation of a car in a roll-
Visitors can explore technical themes, but
also environmental and social concerns.
Part of the old plant has been transformed
At regularly intervals throughout the day vis-
into a community center, used for a regular
itors can take a tour of the factory, one of
events, such as the Mondo- (World) Club.
the world’s largest, which began operations
Almost every month, the center becomes
in the late 1930s. Vehicles of the past and
“disco electronica”, attracting between 3,000
the future of the VW Group’s members Au-
and 5,000 youthful party goers, many from
di, Bentley, Lamborghini, Seat, Skoda and
other European countries.
Volkswagen are displayed in distinct build-
Since it opened in 2000, ten million visitors
have come to visit Autostadt.
After all is seen and done, more than 600
visitors a day pick up their new car at Auto-
The emerging Chinese automobile industry
stadt. Hundreds of all types and models are
has seemingly borrowed a page from
stored in two 20-story glass silos. The new Volkswagen’s Autostadt. Changchun, a very
car is brought down to the customer in a
young city in China, beautiful and green with
fully automated procedure. Watching the
public parks and gardens, has the largest
high speed hydraulic lift move the cars from
automotive industry in China. The country’s
the different floors at high speed is a show
first car plant was set up here in the 1950s,
and China’s “Automotive Cultural Park” wil
open in 2008.
Part of Volkswagen’s Autostadt in Wolfsburg
From a far distant land they come
A ship transporting 4,190 South Korean and
The MV Hyundai was one of 127 RO/RO
Japanese cars sank after colliding with an
(roll-on/roll-off) vessels listed.
oil tanker south of Singapore on May 23,
 according to a Reuters report. The
I remember when imported cars were lifted
MV Hyundai was carrying about 3,000 new
off a freighter by crane. A heavy coating of
cars exported by Korea's largest automaker,
wax protected them from ocean spray,
Hyundai Motor Co and its Kia Motors affili-
which had to be washed off with lots of
ate, as well as over 1,000 second-hand
warm water. All too often cars were dam-
Japanese cars. All the cars sank, but there
aged on-board or during unloading.
was no crude-oil spill from the tanker. The
crew of 20 was rescued before the ship
When more and more vehicles were traded
went down, and there were no injuries to
between countries in the 1960s, shipbuild-
members of either vessel.
ers started to design ‘Roll-On/Roll-Off’ ves-
sels to carry a variety of wheeled cargo.
This breakthrough came when classification
RO/RO ship at right has partly emptied the parking lot, while
the Wallenius Lines’ vessel is ready to load its cargo of cars
societies (like Lloyds of London) and gov-
ernment regulators agreed that it was safe
The inside of a modern RO/RO-ship has a
to cut openings into the hull of a ship, large
basic design of a parking garage and can
enough to roll vehicles through it, and to
carry up to 6600 cars on 12 decks. Most
design ships with long, flat decks, rather
Imports are shipped from Europe or Asia on
than to subdivide the vessel by cross-wise
these ‘floating garages’.
partitions, called bulkheads.
The Tamesis, a fourth-generation roll-
(495,000 sq/ft). Some decks are fixed steel
on/roll-off ship, is designed for the transpor-
decks and some are hoistable, consisting of
tation of railway trains, earth-movers, agri-
separate panels. The ship can load cars
culture equipment, trucks and cars. One of
with the batteries connected and fuel in the
the largest RO/RO carriers in the world, it
tanks. Ventilation is provided by 68 fans.
was built by Daewoo Heavy Industries, a
company that also builds automobiles
Main access is by the three-section rear
ramp, which is sealed off by the rear door
Below the freeboard deck, the Tamesis has
when sailing. This ramp is angled to one
a double-skinned hull, with the spaces serv-
side. There are also eight hoistable ramps
ing as water ballast tanks. Altogether, there
along the side. The main ramp can load four
are 14,442m³ (tons) of water ballast availa-
trailers with a combined load of 320 tons
ble. Three divisions separate two fuel tanks
simultaneously. Each vehicle is chained in
from the water ballast in the double bottom
place with special ‘quick-straps’.
skin. The total cargo deck area is 46,000m²
Schematic layout of a large RO/RO ship
To compare the giant ship diesels engines
ing history analysis (fault analysis). It inte-
to our cars: Some produce up to 76,000 hp
grates not only main and auxiliary machin-
at just over 100 rpm, propelling freighters to
ery, but also tank levels, anti-heeling and
24 knots (45.5 kmh). The super-charged 12
cargo-load placement. The program was
cylinders have a bore of almost 1m and 2.5
developed by Israeli software specialist To-
m stroke. Five small (van-seized) diesels
with around 2000 hp drive the generators,
the hydraulic systems and pumps. The main
Despite all the modern conveniences and
engine consumes more than 8000 liters of
computerized safety systems, accidents still
fuel each day.
happen. Another car-carrier sank in De-
cember of 2002 in the English Channel after
The loading of several thousand vehicles is colliding with another ship. I have a very
planned and controlled by an “Autoship-
funny report of this tragic mishap; a future
Systems’ computer program. Supported by
column [article] on automotive humor will
Windows software, the computer allows da-
ta exchange with the shipping office, includ-
The most publicized car ‘lost at sea’ is the
The Futura’s body was hand crafted by the
“Futura”. It sank with the Andrea Dorea after
Ghia Body Works in Turin, Italy and shipped
being rammed by the ‘Stockholm’ on the
back to the USA onboard the unfortunate
foggy night of July 25, 1956, just off the east
cruise ship, with still another custom car
coast of the USA. The Ford Motor Co. was
waiting to take delivery of their latest "car of
the future", a "rolling laboratory" from which
Ships are built to float, and yet they sink.
Ford would learn about new technology to
Poor cars! They never had a chance. —
apply to their production automobiles.
We need more amphibious cars … that arti-
cle is coming soon.
Cars being loaded onto one of the smaller car-carrying ships
One of the large RO/RO car carrier ships during loading — usually by two ramps
Yet another ship is ready and waiting for the cars to come …
RO/RO ships have lifts between decks for heavy vehicles such as railway locomotives or earth moving equipment, and ramps for speedy car loading
Loading or un-loading cars through two, or even three ramps, crews can move about one thousand cars per hour A small marine engine on the way to the shipyard – large ones have up to 14 cylinders & 108,000 HP @ 105 RPM
Photo by Telstar Logistics
The above photo refused to fit into a single column —
Below: after just a few hours at the dock, with every-
this way it shows much better the enormous size of
thing shipshape and strapped down securely, the re-
these huge car carriers
Photos by Eukor
supplied ship sails to a far distant land again
A Christmas story for the young and the young at heart
‘Twas the night before Christmas, and Santa was sad.
He had wished for a sportscar - an Audi TT at that!
There were dozens of cars all over the store;
Roadsters, convertibles, and hard-tops galore.
The cars were ready and each had a tag
Marked “Cody” or “Francis” or “Tony” or “Pat”.
St. Nick looked them over, but none was for him.
His chances of getting that sportscar grew slim.
While searching he wondered: was it too much to ask?
A good little sports car, not exceedingly fast!
Year after year he gave presents away,
Pleasing people, wherever, on this special day.
But never a bag or a box was for him.
The tags always read: “for Jane” or “for Jim”.
No one asked Santa what he wished for this year;
They always want things for themselves, that was clear.
Well, Santa decided ‘twas time for a change,
Him wanting a motorized sleigh wasn't so strange.
He had been good, not doubt about that. — —
There was an Audi R8, tagged “for Pat”.
The body was silver, very streamlined and sleek.
St. Nick stepped closer and took a small peek.
The engine under the window - impressive; behold,
And Santa soon started feeling quite bold.
He opened the door, and he clambered inside.
”I’l go for a spin, just a short little ride”,
He thought to himself as he turned-on the key;
The engine was idling, Santa noticed with glee.
And he carefully backed the car out the door.
When out on the highway, Santa's foot hit the floor.
The R8, it roared, nearly took to the sky,
and Santa eased off and gave a big sigh.
He was driving a sportscar, but it was not his,
He must take it back in the condition it is.
But Santa was blissful and he drove for an hour,
the car handled great, and it had lots of power.
Somebody lucky will soon get this machine;
I now must return it, before I am seen.
Perhaps next year, St. Nick thought with glee
there may be a car for me under the tree.
If not a sportscar, ok, but not an old lorry!
If I can’t get a car, many kids will be sorry.
He would have to use, he thought with disdain,
His team of slow moving reindeer again.
Eh, it came to him, what could be funner
Than to pull the sleigh with a Hummer.
Relieved, he called out, as he drove back inside
"Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good-night!"
And by sheer coincidence, close to the
He invited Eva-Maria to join him and Mrs
North Pole, the Audi folks were doing a
Claus for a mug of hot chocolate. They
sequel photo-shoot, fourteen years after talked about cars and traffic congestion
the original, of an Audi with Quattro four-during holidays and the advantage of all-
wheel-drive climbing up a ski-jump.
(When an Audi can do that, it can cer-
tainly pull a sleigh up a roof!) And the
Eva-Maria knew that Santa Claus was
Audi did that eleven times, not with a
looking for some type of vehicle to
stunt driver, but with confident engineer
speed up the yearly increasing workload
of delivering presents. She was able to
convince Santa of the Audi Q7 SUV’s
Unexpectedly, one of the security
ecological and economical advantages
guards on duty reported that he saw
over the Hummer. The Q7 is one of the
“some Audi model” driving up the side of
VW – Audi – Porsche triplets of SUVs,
a nearby mountain.
which come with gasoline, diesel or hy-
Eva-Maria V., Audi-Sport PR executive,
later took a drive in that direction in her
However, before signing a purchase or-
A4 Quattro. To her amazement, she dis-
der, Santa insisted on having the new
covered a driveway with the sign “Santa
“Quattro Sled” painted in an inconspicu-
Claus” and a mail box with the Canada
ous snow-white camouflage color.
postal code H0H 0H0. Eva-Maria, whom
yours truly met when Audi raced the
Eva-Maria has notified this writer that
R10 TDI Diesel sportscar at Mosport in
Santa Claus will take delivery of his new
August 2007, took a chance and entered
Audi SUV as soon as the weather clears
the long, winding driveway.
at the North Pole.
(Area residents can tune in to the yearly
From the ski-jump tower, the photogra-
radar reports from Canadian Forces
phers were able to keep track of her car,
Base Trenton Airport on December 24,
and they took the accompanying picture
to keep track of Santa’s progress)
with an extra-long telephoto-lens. The
[Or on one of the radio stations in OUR
photograph clearly shows another set of
neighbourhood] — read the story aloud
tire-tracks on the cobble stones, ahead
of the Audi rounding the turn. To Eva’s
to your children
Photograph courtesy of Audi:
amazement, Santa Claus awaited her at
On the way to visit Santa Claus
the reindeer stable, just below the castle
[both parts published December 18, 2007]
The cost of these toys isolates men from boys
Of course, that is not the case here. They
across three boys racing home-made carts
do it strictly in the name of science and
down a back street in Dayton, Ohio. He saw
the fun potential of this sport for the whole
community and arranged a coasting race for
“Gravity sucks”, I have heard it said. But not
the boys and their friends. A collection of
so in a soapbox derby, the good kind of
vehicles made from orange crates, soap
street racing. Gravity pulls everything down
boxes, tin sheets, buggy wheels and other
– this is what kids want, the faster the bet-
'junk' was the start of a world-wide phenom-
ter. The only thing that opposes gravity is
enon now called Soapbox Derby.
friction and air resistance.
This fun idea for children took off. National associations were formed and strict rules for
construction and safety of the engine-less
racecars were put into action. Over time the
Derby developed in North America and
many other countries into an intensely con-
tested competition, with the overall winner
racing against an international field from
Canada, South Africa and even Hawaii for
the title of World Champion. When at its
best, the All-American Soapbox Derby at-
tracted 25,000 entrants in 120 races. Across
the country, race weekends drew crowds of
millions of people.
Celebrity race in a Minnesota community, from Wikipedia
As with many other activities, success de-
Going uphill can be fun, rock- or mountain
pends on the enthusiasm of its organizers
climbing, sand dune climbing with or without
and participants. While soapbox racing de-
wheels. Hill climbing on a winding road is a
clined in many areas in recent years, its ap-
popular type of motorsport. The most ex-
peal for fun and fund raising was realized by
treme one is the annual ‘Race to the
the ‘Festival of Speed’ in Goodwood, Eng-
Clouds’, the Pikes Peak hil -climb in Colora-land, in 2000. Using the hill-climb track in
do. It’s a 22 km, timed run up a mountain to
reverse, twenty-four private entries and
14,000 feet, traversing different weather
several car builders went up (actually down)
patterns and road surfaces. Lack of oxygen
against famous racing driver Sir Stirling
at the top robs the engines of power and the
Moss and Lord March of Formula 1 fame,
drivers of breath - if they avoided the pull of
this time in a soapbox. The derby competi-
gravity by not going over a cliff.
tion became an extremely popular feature of
the unique Goodwood Festival. Between The opposite is the wish of any ‘gravity
2000 and 2004, one of the Festival of
sport’ participant. They want a steep drop-
Speed's most talked-about events was the
off to gain initial speed. Going down a hill
‘Gravity Racing Club’ Soapbox Chal enge.
faster than the other kid in a home-built
‘derby racer’ is the wish of thousands of
New regulations restricted overall size,
youngsters in many a town.
shape and concept, but still left plenty of
possibility for design innovation. New Derby
Soapbox racing started in 1933, when the cars came from some of the brightest minds
American newsman Myron E Scott came
in automobile design. The result was close
and spectacular racing, unlike anything else
approach to design.” Different ideas came
in the motor sport world.
from Audi, Bentley, Chrysler, GM, Mazda,
Nissan, Porsche and Volvo.
Soon the idea jumped to car-crazy Califor-
nia, where many of the world’s manufactur-
The Bentley boys named their entry the
ers have design centers. They joined with
"Crewe's Missile" (the Bentley factory is in
charities, and Soapbox derbies gained ac-
Crewe, England). By the end of the Pin-
ceptance as fundraisers, one of the best
ewood Derby, in August, the fastest gravity
known the Pinewood Derby, aiding foster racer was the Volvo entry, which hit 87
children and the Boy Scouts of America.
km/h, about 60 more than the home-built
Interest in soapbox derby racing is now in-
creasing in leaps and bounds, since NAS-
CAR has taken on the All-American Soap
Box Derby as part of its youth outreach pro-
The steering of a soapbox car is by a wire
acting on the buggy-like front axle. Soap-
boxes were the first ones to "drive-by-wire" .
Taking a break from the serious task of de-
(the low-tech eqivalent )
veloping more powerful or more fuel effi-
cient engines, or different body styles for the
In many communities the Rotary Club or-
next model, engineers and designers used
ganizes these events.
some of their time to “think inside the
How about organizing a Soapbox Derby in
“It’s a very international deal,” said Mazda’s
Will you at least think about it?
chief of design Truman Pollard. “When you
look at the field, everybody’s got their own
Different design ideas from Audi, Bentley, Chrysler, GM, Mazda, Nissan, Porsche and Volvo
The Legacy of the Silver Ghost
What’s in a name? Both, Legacy and Silver
Mans five times between 1924 -1930. Since
Ghost, are model names of different car-
1998, Bentley is part of Volkswagen Group.
makers; one current, the other antique.
Naming a model is one thing, but how did
BMW (English= Bavarian Motor Works) was
the automobile companies start out?
founded in 1919 as an out-growth of Rapp
aircraft engine manufacturers. They could
The auto firms’ big-ego founders named
no longer produce those after World War I,
most companies with easy-to-remember
but started building motorbikes, then cars
names — their own family name. Some
during the late 1920s.
were named in different ways, like the bu-
reaucratically derived General Motors, the
David Dunbar Buick was already building
peculiar Plymouth or the audacious Audi.
gasoline engines in 1899, and he revealed
his first automobile in 1900. His company
On a leisurely day, the origin of some of the
was incorporated in 1903 and moved from
most familiar car companies might be an
Detroit to Flint, Michigan.
easier read than the more technical pieces.
Some makes no longer exist, but are still
Cadillac is named in honor of the 18th cen-
popular. To learn more about each individu-
tury French-Canadian explorer Antoine
al name, just google it and you are ‘off to
Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac. He
So here goes mishmash:
was born in France and immigrated to Can-
ada. Cadillac established a fur trading post
Aston Martin. Like many, this one is based
on Lake St. Clair and later founded Detroit,
on the ego and pursuit of its founder, Lionel
Michigan – a true Canadian connection.
Martin, combined with activities at the near-
by Aston Hill Climb. The famous "DB" series
Chevrolet is named after Swiss racecar
– DB9 the latest - was named by, and for,
driver Louis Chevrolet. He drove a Buick in
David Brown, who bought Aston Martin after
the first Indy 500 in 1911 for W.C. Durant,
World War II to prevent it from going bank-
rupt. In the 1960s, Aston Martin bought the
“Chevy’s” mechanical talents improved
prestigious, low-volume Lagonda name-
Buick cars, then led to the formation of the
plate, renaming it Aston Martin Lagonda.
Chevrolet Motor Company. He later left that
company to form Frontenac Motors.
August Horch, remarkable engineering and
business pioneer, did not see eye to eye
André Citroën was the first European car-
with his investors and opted out of the firm
maker to take up mass-production in 1919
carrying his name. Under corporate law he
and establish a sales and service network.
could not open another company with his
Eight years after starting, it was Europe’s
last name. Audi, the Latin equivalent of
largest, and the world’s 4th largest auto-
Horch (“hark” = listen) solved that detail in
mobile manufacturer; now Peugeot owns it.
1909. The high-end Horch company, equal
of Maybach, expired during World War II,
Walter Percy Chrysler had worked his way
but found a worthy successor in ‘
up to superintendent of the locomotive
shops of the Chicago & Great Western Rail-
Walter Owen Bentley started making cars
road by 1907. One year later, he visited the
in 1919, when his rotary aero engines were
Chicago Auto Show and purchased his first
no longer needed after WWI. The high-
car, a Locomobile. In 1912, Charles Nash
quality, fast cars won the 24 Hours of Le
(remember Nash cars?) hired Chrysler as
works-manager of Buick. In 1919, Walter
Chrysler resigned as president of the Buick
Motor Company and vice-president of Gen-
When Edsel Ford was president of the Detroit
eral Motors Corporation. Chrysler was then
Arts Council in 1932, he commissioned Mexi-
hired to save Willys-Overland and the Willys
can-born artist Diego Rivera (1886–1957) to
Corporation, at $1,000,000 per year. (in
paint frescos depicting the City’s industries.
1920!) Next year, the company bankers ap-
Rivera painted the famous murals on the north
proached Chrysler to save Maxwell and
and south walls in the museum’s Garden Court.
Chalmers. Chrysler agreed, for $100,000 a
Shown here is the center panel of the North
year plus stock options. After acquiring the-
Wall, depicting production and manufacture of
se for several years, Walter incorporated
transmission and V8 engine
the Chrysler Corporation and took over the
Maxwell Motor Corporation. In May of 1925
Enzo Ferrari started racing cars early in his
the last Maxwell was built, in June the first
life. He raced and worked for Alfa Romeo,
when in 1929 he started ‘Scuderia Ferrari’
as the racing team for Alfa Romeo. It was
John and Horace Dodge worked in Wind-
not before 1947 that the Ferrari company
sor, Ontario, for a time and organized the
we know today, was formed. He named one
Evans & Dodge Bicycle Co. They had be-
of the models after his son Dino. One of the
come skil ed in their father’s bicycle ma-
models of this century is named after ‘il
chine shop, and soon fabricated automobile
Commendatore’ himself, Enzo.
parts for Henry Ford, who offered them a
10% interest in his company. After twelve
Fiat stands for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili
years of prosperous partnership, they de-
Torino. Investors started the firm in 1899,
cided to do it their way in 1914. Ford cars
and it has become Italy’s largest company,
were being built with “virtual y all Dodge
producing a great variety of products and
parts” until then.
consumer goods. As of July 2011 Fiat has
controlling majority in Chrysler.
Immigrants Fred and August Duesenberg
made legendary automobiles in the United
Ford surely does not need much of an ex-
States of America from 1913 to 1937.
planation, but some clarification: Henry Ford
did not invent the automobile, nor the as-
A number of these names appear else-
sembly line. Olds already used that in 1901,
where with an article devoted to them; Wik-
but its first use in the industrial age was in
ipedia is a good source for more detail.
1799 by Eli Whitney. He built muskets with
interchangeable parts on an ‘assembly line’.
Henry Ford improved its usefulness by in-
its numerous owners, before settling with
troducing conveyor belts to bring parts to
Chrysler and now Fiat.
the workstations. This cut the assembly time
of the Model T in 1913 from 14 hours to 93
Kia more or less translates as "Arising from
minutes. The Ford Motor Company was
Asia", which it did in Korea in 1944. Produc-
founded in 1903, although Henry had built
ing tubing and bicycle parts at first, then
several auto-buggies earlier.
bikes, then motorcycles and small motor
vehicles, the now fastest growing car-maker
General Motors was founded by William
is fairly new to us. Kias are selling in 170
Durant in 1908. He had started building cars
countries, and it is now partnered with the
under his name and formed GM as a hold-
other Korean automaker.
ing company for Buick. A shrewd business
person, he soon added Oldsmobile, Cadil-
Lamborghini is also named after its found-
lac, Oakland and Elmore to later become
er, Ferrucio Lamborghini, who reportedly
the giant, hard to manage empire we know.
rebuffed criticism about the poor rearward
visibility of the low-slung sportscars by say-
Holden is one of the oldest businesses still
ing, "what’s behind me does not matter."
in existence. Starting in 1856 as a saddlery
The company started out as a maker of
manufacturer, the firm got into the automo-
farm tractors. Our trusty ‘Trentonian’ news-
bile industry by first making interiors. By and
paper published an entire column about this
by they expanded into producing complete
make some time ago. [see the ‘cars’ sec-
vehicles. Holden became a subsidiary of
GM in 1931 and kept expanding with other
makes in Australasia.
Land Rover, the other firm sold by Ford to
Tata, started in 1948, as the second four-
Soichiro Honda started in business shortly
wheel-drive off-road vehicle after Jeep, by
after World War II by installing small en-
the former Rover Motor Co.
gines into the bicycles of customers to make
commuting to work less of a chore. Honda
Mazda stems from the company's first pres-
soon started to build motorcycles, then cars,
ident, Jujiro Matsuda. To make the name
and now the company is starting to build jet
sound better outside of Japan the spelling
was changed to Mazda. The company
started as Toyo Cork Kogyo, Ltd., with
Hyundai. Rhyming with Sunday, Chung Ju-
“Mazda” first used in 1929 when the "Mazda
Yung started the firm as an engineering and
Go-a" motor-tricycle was introduced.
construction firm in 1947. Branches of this
largest Korean company today include elec-
Bruce McLaren, a New Zealand racing
tronics, ship building, grocery stores and
driver, started the company in 1963. At first
others. Hyundai means "modernity" in Ko-
only racing cars were fabricated; later the
firm added production of sportscars for this
Jaguar started in 1922 as the Swallow
Sidecar Company. Sir William Lyons fabri-
Mercedes - started as a model name of the
cated motorcycle sidecars before producing
Benz Motor Company. Karl Benz and
automobiles. After WW II the company’s
Gottlieb Daimler joined their expanding
name was changed to its present name.
firms only in 1926, as Daimler-Benz. After
Ford owned the prestige make for some
the split-up of DaimlerChrysler the corpora-
years before selling it to India’s Tata Motors.
tion bought back the Daimler name from
Jaguar /Tata before legally calling itself
Jeep has perhaps the most convoluted his-
Daimler at present — corporate law can be
tory concerning its name’s origin, as well as complex.
Mitsubishi is the Japanese term for "three
Shown here is the center panel of the South
diamonds," which is the logo. Founded in
Wall, depicting chassis and body production.
the early 1870s by Yataro Iwasaki, it is ar-
Smaller parts of the frescos by Diego Rivera
guably one of the oldest in Japan
show other industries of Detroit, such as medi-
cal, pharmaceutical, and chemical.
Nissan called itself Datsun in North Ameri-
Photo from: City of Detroit.
ca until the 1980s, although it has been
"Nissan" in Japan since 1934. The cars
General Motors vehicles have been and are
were named Datsuns, a reference to the
still being designed and developed by Opel.
1914 Dat 31, the first vehicle produced by
the company that would eventually become
The Peugeot family business goes back to
Nissan. The acronym "DAT" represents the
1810. First making coffee mills, then bicy-
initials of the three original investors Kenjiro
cles, early automobile production began in
1891. The very innovative company still
makes bicycles to this day, plus scooters.
During the 1970s Peugeot ran the European
Ransom Eli Olds grew up in a family that
Chrysler division, which had been the British
made stationary gasoline engines. His first
Rootes and the French Simca makes.
vehicles were steam powered. After design-
ing his first gasoline-powered car, he
James Ward and William Doud Packard
formed the Olds Motor Company in 1897
made luxury cars in the USA from 1899 to
and started producing a one-cylinder, chain-
1958. Efforts are underway to re-establish
driven buggy-type vehicle. In 1900 Olds
this and other luxury automakers.
added a feature that made his car unforget-
table: It got a curved dashboard. Numerous
The Pontiac Buggy Company was orga-
‘curved-dash Oldsmobiles’ are stil running,
nized in Pontiac, Michigan, in 1893. Pontiac
more than one hundred years later.
is the distorted name of Obwondiag, who
was a great chief of the Odawas tribe and
Adam Opel started building sewing ma-
supreme head of the Algonquins confedera-
chines in 1862. He added high-wheel bicy-
tion of the Great Lakes. He devoted his life
cles in 1886. His two sons raced these
to the amalgamation of the American Indian
‘penny-farthing’ to promote the business. In nations. The ‘Ottawas’ spoke a language
1899 the first autos were made, and Opel
belonging to the Algonquin language group.
became part of GM in 1929. Many current
Another Canadian connection?
In 1928 the first Plymouth was produced.
engines in several models, purchased from
"What we need is a popular name, some-
DKW, later re-named Audi.
thing people wil recognize instantly”, Walter
Chrysler had said, when planning a low
According to the official Studebaker history
priced model to compete with Ford and
published in 1918, three German men
Chevrolet. Suggested one of the managers:
named Studebecker —Peter (aged 38),
"Why not call it Plymouth? Every farmer in
Clement (36), and Henry (28)—sailed on
America knows Plymouth Binder Twine.”
the ship Harle from Rotterdam, Holland, and
And Plymouth it was. The Mayflower ship
disembarked at Philadelphia on September
on its grill referred to the rock and the Pil-
1, 1736. Two of the men were accompanied
grims, but had it not been for the binder
by their wives. They moved on from Phila-
twine, there would not have been a Plym-
delphia to Germantown and, sixty-two years
later, persons named Studebaker were
recorded as paying taxes in York County,
and were described as "blacksmiths and
woodworkers". These were Peter Stu-
debaker (1747–1812) —probably a son of
the immigrant Clement Studebecker (1700–
1762) and his wife Anna Catherine. The lat-
er Studebakers were building horse buggies
and later fashionable automobiles.
Subaru means "unite" in Japanese. It is al-
so the name for the six visible stars in the
Pleiades cluster in the Taurus constellation.
“Relax, I’m just along for the drive…” AMS photo
In 1953, five Japanese companies merged
into Fuji Heavy Industries. The new corpora-
Renault was set up in 1899 as Société Re-
tion adopted the "Subaru" cluster of stars as
nault Frères by brothers Marcel, Fernand
its logo. Fuji Heavy Industries today is a
and Louis, an engineer. They recognized
global transportation conglomerate.
from the beginning that success in motor-
sports improved their sales as well as busi-
Michio Suzuki started the Suzuki Loom
ness recognition, continuing to this day.
Works in 1909. Later, he developed a new
type of loom, an exceptionally complex ma-
Rolls Royce was founded in 1903 by
chine, covered by 120 patents, that was ex-
Charles Stewart Rolls and Henry Royce.
ported around the world. Contrary to popu-
Before they met, Charles told a friend that
lar belief, he first started to produce cars, in
his ambition was “to be the greatest name in
1937, motorbikes in 1952. The company is
motoring”. The partners achieved this by
now aligned with the VW Group.
different means than the Renault brothers.
Sakichi Toyoda (1867–1930) invented the
Svenska Aeroplane Aktiebolaget - aren’t we
automatic weaving loom, taking technology
lucky they shortened that to Saab, so we
to the level of the Western world. His son
could pronounce it? Saab was formed in the
Kiichiro (1894-1952) took the Toyeda com-
late 1930s as an aerospace company, even
pany into the automotive age. After a con-
now producing jets. After WWII an automo-
test for a better-sounding name, it changed
tive division was added, and in 1949 the
Saab 92 appeared. It used a transverse-
mounted (sideways or east-west) two-
Vauxhall started in business in 1857 as a
cylinder two-stroke engine and front-wheel
pump and marine engine manufacturer.
drive. Over time, Saab had almost identical
1903 saw the first autos being produced,
and in 1928 it was acquired by General Mo-
Last but not least, Volvo, from Latin, means
tors. Vauxhal cars today are almost identical
"I roll". Assar Gabrielsson and Gustaf Lar-
with Opel, being made mostly in their plants.
son founded the Swedish company in 1924
as a spin-off from the roller-ball-bearing firm
Contrary to popular belief, the idea of a
SKF. The first Volvo was in production by
Volkswagen, “people’s car”, started in the
1927. In 1999 Volvo was acquired by the
mid-1920s. Most Europeans could not af-
Ford Motor Company and recently sold to
ford an automobile of that time, and at least
Geely, one of the up-and-coming Chinese
four carmakers started to emulate the Model
T, in Austria and other European countries.
It was the German trade-union who pushed
for an affordable car in 1937.
This outdated “family tree” shows how complex and inter-related the auto industry is…
Someday we might become familiar with the
anything specifically. It is said, that it is a
names of automakers from China and India.
new idiom intended to stimulate a positive
connection with "luxury" and "elegance", as
If you are not yet confused, take this quiz….
much as Acura seems to suggest precision.
If you have to name a child, peruse this link.
Manufacturers “invent” names and suggest
We see the cars mentioned here in brief on
examples to literally hundreds of thousands
our roads every day, but hardly ever lose a
of people in contests, and using the favor-
thought on their origin. After a lifetime in the
ites. For now, let’s stay with makes; we’l
‘mobility industry’, I learn new things daily,
have an entertaining time with models in
so let me share a few: Lexus doesn't mean
They say that art ‘grows’ on you
Do you remember the Garden Song that
Gardening is still a while away here in On-
John Denver did on the Muppet Show?
tario, snow and ice covering the frozen soil.
“Inch by inch, row by row, gonna make this
But in Texas they do things differently, any-
garden grow. All it takes is a rake and a hoe
way. They have the Cadillac Ranch, where
and a piece of fertile ground”.
ten classic cars are ‘outstanding in their
The ‘Group of Seven’ is Canada’s famous
decided if they are referring to the toll rust
group of artists; Texas has the ‘Ant Farm’, a and corrosion are taking on the “car-rot”
group of a number of architecturally oriented
patch, or if they mean the “art” of yearly re-
artists, who created a memorable monu-
painting. Or could they mean the graffiti
ment which is considered (by some) a work
from art-loving visitors with spray cans –
of art in progress.
which requires the repaints.
We know of the bond between architecture
One of the largest artistic (industrial kitsch?)
and automobiles, but is there a connection
monuments in the United States, it surely
between art and agriculture?
deserves more recognition than the single
sentence under ‘points of interest’ in the city
Amarillo, Texas, has the dubious distinction
guide. After all, it is located on Route 66,
of having a historical site, which is not listed
now heartlessly renamed Interstate 40.
in any archeological catalog. And no Arts &
Culture newsletter explains what the group
of artists tried to accomplish by creating this
Archeology and the Cadillac Ranch do have a close relationship, though, because the
cars jut out from the earth at the same angle
as the sides of the Egyptian Cheops Pyra-
mid. Does that not justify acceptance in ar-
cheological circles? And what about the hi-
eroglyphs, nee graffiti?
Has nobody any respect for history any-
Deeply rooted in agriculture and resembling
more? And is Art not something permanent?
a carrot patch, where the heavy part also is
in the ground, the car’s engines need culti-
Enough bemoaning of lost cultural sensitivi-
vating and aerating to prevent wet rot.
ty, let’s get to the facts: The Ant Farm group
As to the ‘work of art in progress’, I am un-
RoadsideAmerica.com, the guide to out of
proached well-to-do Stanley March III to
the ordinary tourist attractions states: “Over
fund their project. Being a “merry prankster”,
the decades, a lucky handful of offbeat at-
he liked the group’s idea; they must have
tractions have grown in recognition and
been a very merry bunch indeed!
stature, celebrated frequently in magazine
photo essays, in calendars, as backdrops
It is reported that the cars were planted in
for music videos and movies. These Great
1974, but as the city grew (and the cars
Monuments are rhapsodized as the embod-
didn’t) they had to be transplanted in 1997
iment of American hopes and dreams, folly
‘a couple miles further west’. The report
and failure, art and commerce, materialism
continues that the “Automotive art exhibit
and spiritualism. Professional authors and
and American cultural commentary com-
screenwriters know a pre-baked, easy-to-
prises [sounds official, doesn’t it?] ten now
get symbol when they see it."
classic industrial icons: a 1949 Club Coupe,
a 1950 Series 62 sedan, a 1954 Coupe de
Seriously, that’s what it says.
Ville, a 1956 Series 62 sedan, a 1957 se-
dan, a 1958 sedan, a 1959 coupe, a 1960
We all know about the excess of Texans,
‘flat top’ sedan, a 1962 four-window sedan
and we also know that most of our Ameri-
and a 1963 sedan.
cans neighbors aspire to higher values.
May they Rust in Peace
Bruce Springsteen had fun with this as well;
here is one verse from his song:
Well, there she sits, buddy, justa gleaming in the sun
There to greet a working man when his day is done
I’m gonna pack my pa and I’m gonna pack my aunt
I’m gonna take them down to the Cadillac Ranch.
A group of film makers were the latest to
by their voice you can recognize who is an
hitch their wagon to the Cadillac Ranch: The
actor and who is not. I should get that movie
producers and artists of the much praised
on a DVD to research another branch of
animated movie “Cars” used the Ranch as
automotive art … well ….birthday is coming.
inspiration for the backdrop to their town of
Cadillac Ranch may have been a serious
attempt at making an art statement and cre-
I wanted to see that movie, because two
ating a monument to an industrial icon of
great racing drivers lent their voices to a
earlier times. But today, these vintage Cad-
pair of the funny cars: Paul Newman and
dies are serious collector cars, and many
Michael Schumacher. Critics said that even
consider it sacrilegious to bury them.
The beginning of the end of the Petroleum Age
“Peak Oil” they call it.
The Financial Times reported in July 2007
that the International Energy Agency, IEA,
Meaning not the price we pay at the pump
had stated that ”Oil looks extremely tight in
for our daily fuel, but the amount being pro-
five years’ time,” and that there are “pro-
duced in the oil fields of the world for further
spects of even tighter natural gas markets
at the turn of the decade”.
First, a definition: peak oil suggests that, at
We motorists already feel our empty wallets
some point in time, oil companies or coun-
and wince ” That’s the way the money goes,
tries will reach a peak in the quantity of oil
Pop! goes the weasel”.
they can economically pump out of the
ground, and that production will decline after
The Price On the Pump that is going to the
that peak had been reached. Graphically,
weasels (thesaurus: weasel = sly, under-
this increase and decline can be illustrated
handed, evasive, misleading) is going up,
as what is known as a bell curve.
up and away. The cost of crude oil almost
quadrupled in the last five years. One barrel
The theory of peak-oil was first published by
of Brent crude sold for $29 in 2003; in 2004
the late geophysicist Dr. Marion King Hub-
it increased to $38; it rose to $54 in 2005
bert. He shocked the world in 1949 with his
and to $65 in 2006, and it reached $98.62
book "Energy from Fossil Fuels, Science",
on November 7th of 2007, before dropping
by predicting that the era of fossil fuel would
back into the lower 90-dollar range.
be a short one, in geological terms. He had
[oil reached $143.00 half-way thru 2008]
studied geology, mathematics and physics.
While working for the Shell Oil Company, he
traveled the world, exploring potential new
oil fields and collecting information.
After his retirement from the petroleum in-
dustry, he taught at Stanford University and
at the U. of California in Berkeley.
In 1956, Dr. Hubbert predicted that oil pro-
duction in the United States would peak in
1970, give or take a few years, and would
then decline. He was ridiculed by industry
and government, but his surprisingly accu-
rate analysis was proven correct, and his
geological estimates are now being heeded.
Petroleum industry columnist William Rees-
Display: After the Oil Age. Photo: peakoil,com
Mogg reports that of fifty-one oil producing
Supply and demand regulates prices, our
nations, 27 have reported declining output
since 2006. These nations are listed in BP’s
capitalistic thinking has us in the habit of
‘Statistical Review of World Energy’. Not all
believing. Yes, the drastic climb in the oil
price since the turn of the century has been
of the OPEC nations are on the best of
driven by demand increasing by more than
terms with the western world and refuse to
2 per cent per year, while the supply has
report accurate petroleum production or es-
increased by only 1.25% in 2005, and only
timated reserves in their countries.
half of one percent (0.5%) in 2006.
However, do energy supply companies real-
As threatening as that may sound, this
ly have to make up to $40 billion (with a B)
quote from one of my sources should allevi-
dollars of yearly profit, when half of humani-
ate our collective anxiety: “Canada's leader-
ty is sick and starving, and has never even
ship in hydrogen and fuel cell technologies
used an “infernal consumption engine”?
received double honors at the 20th annual
World Energy Congress in Rome. [Novem-
Perry Hicks, a former college professor,
ber 11-15, 2007] The International Partner-
wrote an eye opening eight-part article in ship for the Hydrogen Economy (IPHE) has
the Gulf Coast News about oil, politics and
chosen British Columbia's Hydrogen High-
religion. Already in the first three para-
way™ program as the winner of the Tech-
graphs he expresses his displeasure with
nical Achievement Award, and the organiza-
the present government in the USA with the
tion has elected Canada as its new chair.
disclosure that “the Bush Administration de-
nied the war was over oil even as the mili-
in September 2010 in Montréal, Canada”.
tary invasion was embarrassingly named
Operation Iraqi Liberation, or O.I.L. That link In the meantime, remember that the Stone
takes you to a White House press confer-
Age did not end for lack of stones, but be-
cause humans found a better way.
Peak-Oil is here, and the tide is turning. Oil
American, Asian and European carmakers
ran the economy of the 20th century; the
are at the verge of producing zero-pollution
shortage of oil will have power over the 21st
vehicles, just as the oil age is cresting.
and force the world’s industries, and all of
civilization, to look for other fuels.
Collage with photos from FreeFoto.com, NASA, and GMW: Oil is found in many places around the world; A ‘Nodding Donkey’
pumps crude from the well; Sirius Voyager oil-tanker on way to refinery; Sadly, accidents happen: oil-spill on Lebanon coast from space; Fawley refinery; Refinery at Teesport; Sunset at Teeside; Storage field at Wallsend; the author at the pump – before recent price hikes
"If I had asked people what they
wanted, they would have said
Ford-Edison 1913 Model T experimental EV
"Keep on the lookout for novel
ideas that others have used suc-
cessfully. Your idea has to be orig-
inal only in its adaptation to the
problem you're working on."
2007 Volt concept
"Our imagination is the only lim-
it to what we can hope to have
in the future."
Charles F. Kettering
Chevy Volt production model, precursor of the 2nd EV-Age
Dear Reader, if you enjoyed the preceding items, if you gained new insight into automobiles and the people connected with them, then my efforts will have been worthwhile.
In the volumes that will follow, we will come across various types of vehicles and explore their seldom seen sides. We will follow them through the design and production stages, from a sketch to the assembly line, and from the factory to your neighbourhood showroom.
Please, visit http://indieaisle. com/find/ again, as well as my own website at
www.autothoritybooks.com to check for subsequent issues of
Racing to Preserve Precious Petroleum
Modern technology, such as the ePub or the FlippingBook® publishing programs, as used on my website, made it possible to assemble these books.
It would have been unthinkable doing it with this old method.
Thank you for devoting your time to reading the foregoing stories, and I hope you will return.
George M Wand
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