General Motors Company (formerly “Corporation”) today is a shadow of its former self. It sells fewer models through fewer brands since its bankruptcy in 2009. It is reconstructing itself and building itself into a competitive and profitable car company. That transformation appears to be going very well.
Over the years, however, General Motors has often tried to be a trailblazer (no pun intended) in new vehicle design and development. Many of these vehicles failed, but we believe GM deserves a tremendous amount of credit for trying where other companies did not have the creative thought or resources to make a “segment breaking” product. Here are some examples…
I probably was the last person to ride with Patrick Paternie on a new vehicle evaluation. Patrick passed away on March 10 following a race in his classic Porsche.
Patrick Paternie: Volvo Chili Cook-Off, Scottsdale, March 8, 2010
I spent two days riding in Volvos with Patrick. He had sought me out to be his co-driver and I looked forward to his commentary and stories. I knew he was a good driver and would never take risks that so many of the hot-shots on these press previews sometimes take.
Patrick regaled me with stories of how he and his wife Linda towed a big trailer behind a Suburban in Arizona and there just wasn’t enough oomph in the big SUV to keep up with traffic with the trailer following behind. He talked about how Linda had come to like riding in his Ford pickup because of all the room in the cab. He was especially complimentary about a drive with the Aston Martin Rapide in Alaska. He said the Rapide was much more capable than he would ever have thought. The folks at Aston Martin admit the car has been “placed at a considerable discount”. He travelled widely for his passion. I was jealous.
We talked about heart surgery I had undergone last November. “How did you know you had a problem,” he asked. “Sprained ankle,” I replied. That got me to the doctor’s office and to get a physical my medical insurance provides every year. Surgery followed a few weeks later.
Patrick never alluded to having a heart problem. He looked fit and healthy. He raced. He finished. He was 65. We miss him.
It seems as though the further along we get into this project the faster things seem to go (thank goodness!). We’ve learned a lot about axles and we are beginning to learn a lot about leaf springs/suspension and driveshafts. For now, we will try and impart some of what we learned about solid axles with you…
It’s been nearly a week since the Italian Grand Prix run at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, in Monza, Italy – and already, I miss Phil Hill. As the first American to win the Formula One Driver’s Championship in 1961, Hill, who died of complications from Parkinson’s Disease August 28, 2008, in Monterey, California, was an important influence on the world of automobiles, racing, and International relations.
Even as recently as this year, Hill was a constant, loyal attendee at races all over the world and as such, was an influence on the culture of things automotive and served as an American ambassador of good will. When I think about the risk that drivers faced in F-1 and other forms of racing in the 1950s and ’60s, it’s amazing Hill even lived to tell the tale.
Another Perfect August Day
Tell me, where else will you see these two vehicles kept pristine and rollin’ along the same boulevard?
Or a toy motoring along next to the delivery van?
A few weeks ago, I spent the afternoon at the Meadow Brook Concours d’ Elegance. While the West Coast had Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, this weekend we had the 14th annual Woodward Dream Cruise, turning the area Woodward from Pleasant Ridge to Pontiac into an automotive playground. Below the jump, are just some of the vehicles that caught my eye.
On August 3, I finally returned to one of my favorite summer events, the annual Meadow Brook Concours d’ Elegance. Held the first weekend of August every year since 1979, this Concours is one of the premier events of its type. Not quite as prestigious as the Pebble Beach Concours happening the weekend of August 16 (yes, the same weekend as Detroit’s Woodward Dream Cruise), Meadow Brook has earned a strong reputation. For me, it’s simply a chance to wander among cars from storied brands of today and yesterday. Delahaye, Packard, Auburn, Duesenburg, Pierce-Arrow, Studebaker, Peugeot, Ferrari, Cadillac, Lincoln, Chrysler, Rolls-Royce, the list goes on and on.
As you enter the Concours d’Elegance, the show starts.
Meadow Brook is home to a mansion of the same name built by the widow of John Dodge, one of the two Dodge brothers that helped establish the automotive industry we know today. The home and its property now belongs to Oakland University. Aside from the sheer joy and pleasure of celebrating the automobile as an art from, the event’s purpose is to raise funds for upkeep of the 88,000-square-foot mansion and its grounds. Seems a fitting choice of fundraising event.
It’s been too long since the last update (Sorry). There has been a lot of work coming in the office and my boss keeps telling me that it has something to do with me earning a living. So, that has taken priority but in the mean time I’ve been saving up for things like ‘axles’. Oh, boy! How many of you actually get excited when you hear the word axle? Yeah, I didn’t either, until about a week ago.
Anyway, Last time I left you guys we had boxed in the frame, stuffed the 2006 GM 6.0L, 4L80E transmission and New Process t-case inside the shell of our ’58 Travelall and bolted up the mass air flow meter. We had a couple setbacks…
- Transmission cross-member fabrication (ran across t-case output)… Refabricated cross-member to go up and over the output shaft
- Driver’s side header did not fit (now running 1998-2002 LS1 Camaro header on driver’s side and 1969-1972 (LS1 swap) Chevelle header on passenger side (both from S&P in Arkansas)
…but I should have known my education was just beginning.
The LA Auto Show was beginning to feel a birthday party for Ed Begley. Fuel cells, hybrids, bluetec, plug-ins, clean diesel. How about a brief introductory course in the “New European Driving Cycle”? While technology is making green more interesting all the time, you can’t replace horsepower with the warm and fuzzies of a green car. Thank God for Porsche. Certainly, our friends from Stuttgart won’t let us down. Wrong. Porsche came to the 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show with a green pitch, albeit somewhat tempered.
Viva Las Vegas
I love Vegas. Lights, gambling, food, beautiful women, cocktails, and not a working clock in sight. Hell meets Disneyland in a world that does not shun alcohol or tobacco for breakfast. Don’t misunderstand me, moderation saves, but this environment screams fun. Regardless of your level of debauchery, the guy next to you makes you feel like a saint. If they could figure out a way to thwart my email connection, I’d move here in a heartbeat.
I look forward to the annual Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas more than most of my assignments, and we at VehicleVoice get assigned some pretty cool marching orders.