July 31, 2006


Note the time and "feels like" temperature.

I have sat here at work and watched the temperature on my desktop (thank-you weather channel) increase by 10 degrees in the last hour, yes hour, as in one hour.

It's suppose to be about 10 degrees hotter tomorrow. These are the days that working in a plant atmosphere is dreadful, I avoid going out there at all costs.

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Today In Automotive History

1916 NASCAR's "first female" is born

Louise Smith, NASCAR's first female act, was born on this day in 1916. Known as racing's "Good ol' Gal" she competed in stock-car racing during its decidedly "good ol' boy" years. A native of Greenville, South Carolina, Smith raced various Modified, Sportsman, and Grand National series events between 1946 and 1956. Her fearless attitude made her a novelty at a time when most women were homemakers. "I enjoyed every minute," said Smith, reflecting on her career. "I traveled all over North America, racing everywhere I could, and I had fun with it. Didn't make a whole lot of money, but if I could do it again today, I'd do it and I think I'd make it." In the earliest years of NASCAR, Bill France, NASCAR's founder, president, and chief promoter, used Smith to attract spectators. Smith got her start when NASCAR held a race near her hometown at the Greenville-Pickens Speedway, and a local suggested Smith on the grounds that she could "outrun every highway patrol and lawman in Greenville." France agreed to give her a shot. In her first race, Smith explains, "They told me if I saw a red flag to stop. They didn't say anything about the checkered flag. I wondered where all the cars were and then as I was all alone on the track, I noticed them in the pits. They finally threw the red flag and I pulled in. I had finished third." In Smith's 10-year career, she captured 38 victories. In the mid-1970s, she became involved with the sport again, sponsoring drivers Ronnie Thomas, Bobby Wawak, and Larry Pearson. Smith was inducted into the International Motor Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.

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July 28, 2006


It's my blogmomma's, Tammi of Tammis World birthday today.

And as any good blogchild would do, I searched for the perfect present.

It involves firemen and hand jobs.

I hope you enjoy them!

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Mitsu Cargo Ship Listing More

Being in the auto industry as long as I have (now that is scary to say) I have heard about things like this a few times.

A Mitsui O.S.K. cargo ship, listing in rough seas near Alaska's Aleutian Islands, might be leaking fuel from its tanks, the U.S. Coast Guard said....

Mitsui's Cougar Ace, which has a cargo of at least 4,700 Mazda Motor Corp. vehicles estimated to be worth $117.5 million, foundered on July 22 while en route to Tacoma, Wash., the statement said....

The article states that a salvage company is heading to the ship to see if they can tow it to a port to get the cargo out, but I'm not sure that will be possible.

I had heard years ago of a cargo ship full of Volvo's went down in rough seas taking with in a couple hundred million dollars worth of Volvo's.

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Today In Automotive History

1973 Bonnie & Clyde's Ford V-8 sold at auction

Bonnie and Clyde's bullet-riddled 1934 Ford V-8 sedan was sold at auction for $175,000 to Peter Simon of Jean, Nevada. The Ford V-8 model succeeded the new Model A, and it was well received due to its speed and power--perhaps this is why it seemed most popular among the criminal element. Henry Ford first received a personal letter congratulating him on the car's performance from famed outlaw gunman John Dillinger. Dillinger wrote, "Hello Old Pal. You have a wonderful car. It's a treat to drive. Your slogan should be Drive a Ford and Watch The Other Cars Fall Behind You. I can make any other car eat a Ford's dust. Bye-bye." Later, Clyde Barrow wrote a similarly laudatory note to Henry Ford: "Dear Sir, While I still have breath in my lungs I will tell you what a dandy car you make. I have drove Fords exclusively when I could get away with one. For sustained speed and freedom from trouble the Ford has got every other car skinned and even if my business hasn't been strictly legal it don't hurt to tell you what a fine car you got in the V8." Almost enough to make you think Ford hired both high-profile criminals for an ad campaign, but alas, Ford made no use of either personal endorsement.

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July 27, 2006

Republicans VS. Democrats And Car Choices

Ever wonder if Republican and Democrats have similar car choices? Well someone actually did a study and The Car Connection has the results.

A couple of recent surveys of new vehicle buyers on one hand, and potential voters on the other, matched their political leanings to their choices of wheels. In some respects the results were as expected, but there were also surprises.

For example, the coastal states whether northeastern or western tend to be Democratic Blue and also are known for popularity of import brand cars. Red Republicans in the flyover country in between prefer domestics. But overall, choices between imports and domestics were split right down the middle just like the voters lately.

In a survey of 64,000 new light vehicle buyers, CNW Marketing Research found 29.7 percent self-identified themselves as Republicans, versus 28.7 percent Democrats and 41.6 percent independents. Among car buyers only, the skew was to imports, 30.7 percent to 26.9 percent, i.e., truckers are more likely GOP adherents.

But in a survey of 800 Michigan voters, a Detroit Free Press-Channel 4 study found foreign brands owned 18 percent by Democrats, versus only 13 percent Republicans and Independents. The bulk of foreign-car owning Michigan Dems, it should be noted, were in the western part of the state, away from auto-plant territory. (The two surveys aren't comparable since many of the respondents to the newspaper survey owned more than one vehicle.)

In CNW's survey, the reddest volume vehicle was the Mercury Grand Marquis, with 58.2 percent of buyers declaring Republican their preference. The bluest of Democrat wheels, getting 48.3 percent of the nod, was a sleeper: the VW Touareg SUV. And the car with the highest percentage declaring their Independence? The Scion tC, with 77.3 percent. There also were a number whose new owners declared themselves 100 percent Independent - but I suspect either a very low sample size or an error, since many were of discontinued models.

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Today In Automotive History

1904 Flint man buys first Buick

On this day in 1904, Dr. Herbert Hills of Flint, Michigan, purchased the first Buick automobile ever to be sold. Founder David Buick initially made his mark as an inventor and mechanic in the plumbing industry, but had sold out of his business in order to pursue building motor cars. Buick was a man with an innate gift for inventing and tinkering, but who cared little for financial matters. He reputedly was unable to sit still unless he was concentrating on some kind of mechanical problem. None of his contemporaries would have been surprised that his company eventually became more successful than he did. In 1902, after years of fiddling with an automobile design, Buick agreed to a partnership with the Briscoe Manufacturing Company, wherein Briscoe would write off Buick's debts while in turn establishing a $100,000 capitalization for Buick's car company. Buick ceded $99,700 of the company's stock to Briscoe until he repaid his standing debt of $3,500, at which point he could buy controlling interest in the stock. Still, Buick had yet to complete an automobile. When it became clear to Briscoe that Buick would neither be able to pay his debts nor complete his vehicle soon, they sold their interest in the company to the Flint Wagon Works for $10,000. Buick and his son were given stock, but their managerial roles shrunk. Finally, in July of 1904, the first Buick made its initial test run. During the test run, the Buick averaged 30mph on a trip around Flint, going so fast at one point that the driver "couldn't see the village six-mile-an-hour sign." Sixteen Buicks were sold in the next few months, but Flint Wagon Works remained troubled by the Buick venture. They had purchased the company in order to help the city of Flint adjust to a new economy of automobile production, but Buick was already heavily in debt to a number of Flint banks. At this point, David Buick owned only a small share of stock and held none of the business responsibilities, and the Wagon Works decided to bring in Flint whiz kid William Durant to turn the business around. Durant kept Buick on as a manager, a position he held with little impact until 1908. Durant turned Buick into a major player in the automotive industry before incorporating it into his General Motors project

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July 26, 2006

Today In Automotive History

1932 Duesenberg dies after auto accident

Frederick S. Duesenberg died in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, of complications from injuries suffered in an automobile accident on July 2, 1932. Frederick and his brother Augie created the Duesenberg Automobile and Motors Company. Born in Lippe, Germany, Frederick moved to the U.S. in 1885. In 1897 he started a bicycle business, and in 1899 he built a highly efficient gasoline engine to be used for motorcycles. This was the beginning of his automotive career. He took a job with the Rambler Motor Company and worked there, learning the business, until 1905, when he convinced his brother Augie to go into business selling engines. The two brothers designed the Mason engine, with its famous "walking beam" overhead valve design, and started the Mason Motor Car Company. When they sold the business in 1913, they were mature players in the automotive industry.

In 1913, the brothers opened a business in St. Paul, Minnesota, building engines for cars, boats, and airplanes. The Duesenbergs spent much of the next 10 years developing a high-performance straight-eight engine for luxury cars. In 1920, they opened Duesenberg Motors in order to release the Duesenberg Model A, the first car equipped with both a straight-eight and hydraulic front-wheel brakes. In spite of the car's quality, the Model A floundered in sales and the company failed in 1924 without ever having got off the ground. Financier E.L. Cord entered the scene, purchasing and financing Duesenberg Motors while allowing the brothers to continue their work. In the mid-1920s, Duesenberg made handcrafted, extremely powerful luxury cars. The Model J, the company's flagship car, boasted a 265hp engine and could cost up to $25,000 with a custom body. Duesenberg ran simple ads, exhibiting no pictures of their cars while the text read, "He drives a Duesenberg." But the pinch of the Depression doomed Duesenberg's future as a luxury car manufacturer. Then in 1932, Frederick died, ending the brothers' career together as innovators. In 1937, Cord's empire collapsed and the Duesenberg Company disappeared.

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July 25, 2006

More Gross Searches

I just don't know how I keep getting these weird searches for "big" people. I am going to start to attract all kinds of weird people with this search.

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Today In Automotive History

1945 Kaiser-Frazer is born

Henry Kaiser and Joseph Frazer announced plans to form a corporation to manufacture automobiles on this day in 1945. The two men formed an unlikely pair. Kaiser, raised in modest circumstances, was a true American self-made man. By 1945, he sat atop an empire of shipbuilding, cement, steel, and other basic building businesses, and had amassed a considerable fortune. His company's shipbuilding feats had made him a media favorite during World War II, with reporters labeling him "the Miracle Man." By contrast, Frazer was a direct descendant of Martha Washington, and he'd attended Hotchkiss and Yale. Frazer never finished his studies at Yale, opting to take a manual labor job at Packard. At Packard he rose steadily through the management structure, becoming by the mid-1940s a solid, respectable executive. The two men first encountered one another when in 1942 Kaiser urged car companies to plan ahead for postwar production; Frazer answered on behalf of Packard, labeling the suggestion "half-baked" and "stupid." The men met again in 1945 in San Francisco, and two weeks later Kaiser-Frazer was born. With Frazer's contacts in the auto industry, and Kaiser's capital and experience with huge government contracts, the two men were optimistic about their chances. In addition, labor groups were encouraging competition to the Big Three and had announced a willingness to cooperate with any new entries into Detroit. Kaiser and Frazer had to generate enough capital to acquire and build full production facilities. They had to find reliable sources for raw materials and negotiate labor contracts, and they had to do it all before the Big Three could convert back from wartime production if they were to have a chance at surviving. Amazingly, they pulled it off, leasing the Ford Willow Run Plant and producing 11,000 cars in 1946. Unfortunately, their financiers gave them trouble: while losses were anticipated during their first year, the two men didn't expect to be punished so severely by squeamish investors. The company lost $19 million, and their stock plummeted. A year later, however, Willow Run produced 100,000 cars and Kaiser-Frazer recorded $19 million in profit. Success was within their grasp, and the next year they made $10 million--but the downturn in profits and the impending release of Big Three postwar models caused the company's stock to slip. Without money Kaiser-Frazer couldn't afford to come up with new models, and consumers turned away from them. In 1949, the company lost $30 million and was poised to endure the fate of so many other independents after the war. The differences between the two partners manifested themselves during the bad times, and management failed to respond positively to the difficulties. Frazer left the business, and Kaiser presided until 1953 when he sold out to Willys-Overland. Ironically, in Kaiser's last year the company turned out a few remarkable cars including, arguably, America's first compact car.

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July 24, 2006

Today In Automotive History

1938 Seaman takes the German Grand Prix

Dick Seaman, driving a Mercedes-Benz 154 to victory at the German Grand Prix at Nurburgring, Germany, became the first Briton to win a major Grand Prix since Malcolm Campbell did it 15 years earlier. The race turned out to be a showdown between Mercedes--with their driving team of Seaman, Caracciola, von Brauchitsch and Lang; Auto Union--with newly acquired Italian great Tazio Nuvolari; and Alpha--with their team of Tartuffi and Farina. Mercedes qualified all three first row positions with Seaman in his British green helmet on the outside. After the typical lengthy Nazi parading, the race got underway in front of over 400,000 spectators. Midway through the race, in spite of Nuvolari's noble efforts, it was clear the race would be decided among the Mercedes drivers and that von Brauchtitsch and Seaman were the men to beat. Von Brauchtitsch led the race until he came into pit for tires and fuel. The crowd buzzed to see how fast the crew could change him, but in their rush the fuel tank was overfilled. The portable starter ignited the engine, the tank sucked in air and then shot a massive flame into the sky, igniting the back half of the car. Seaman pulled away unscathed, taking the lead for the first time. Von Brauchtitsch eventually returned to the race only to let his foul mood get the best of him as he took a corner too fast and crashed into a ditch. He is said to have walked back to the pits, black in the face, holding his detachable steering wheel that he claimed came off in the turn. His mechanic denied the possibility. Meanwhile, Seaman steamed to a comfortable victory ahead of Lang, Stuck, and Nuvolari. Seaman accepted congratulations on his victory modestly, saying, "I was only lucky." But he had changed tires only once in the race and won by a huge margin after recording the two fastest laps of the day in a field riddled with the world's best drivers. Seaman added, "I only wish it had been a British car."

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July 21, 2006

JD Power Customer Service Index

JD Power came out with its Customer Service Index. It measures Customer Service within the first 3 years of owernership. The American Auto Companies did extremely well, so you probably won't hear or see this in the news.

J.D. Power's annual Customer Service Index has once again elevated Toyota's Lexus brand to the top slot. The Lexus brand scored 912 points on a scale of 1000 when ranked in customer service in the first three years of ownership, in areas such as service experiences and quality.

Power's CSI survey, in its 26th year, measures customer satisfaction on the following points: service initiation, service advisor, in-dealership experience, service delivery, service quality and user-friendly service. The marketing analysis company says that customers who are satisfied with their vehicle's service are far more likely to return to the same brand and dealer for another vehicle. Nearly 80,000 vehicle owners and lessees of 2003 to 2005 model-year vehicles were surveyed for the study.

The list:

Lexus - 912
Buick - 911
Cadillac - 909
Jaguar - 908
Lincoln - 906
Mercury - 905
Saturn - 904
Pontiac - 903
Audi / Mini / Volvo - 890
Industry Avg - 873
Mercedes-Benz - 872
Ford - 855
Toyota - 851
Nissan - 849
Volkswagon - 810

Hattip: The Car Connection

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The Hand Of God

Once upon a time in the Kingdom of Heaven, God was missing for six days.

Eventually, Michael the archangel found him, resting on the seventh day. He inquired of God, "Where have you been?"

God sighed a deep sigh of sati! sfaction and proudly pointed downwards through the clouds, "Look Michael, look what I've made."

Archangel Michael looked puzzled and said, "What is it?"

"It's a planet," replied God, "and I've put Life on it. I'm going to call it Earth and it's going to be a great place of balance."

"Balance?", inquired Michael, still confused.

God explained, pointing to different parts of earth, "For example, northern Europe will be a place of great opportunity and wealth while southern Europe is
going to be poor; the Middle East over there will be a hot spot. Over here I've placed a continent of white people and over there is a continent of black people,"
God continued, pointing to different countries. "This one will be extremely hot and arid while this one will be very cold and covered in ice.

The Archangel, impressed by God's work! , then pointed to a large land mass and said, "What's that one?"

"Ah," said God. "That's Michigan, the most glorious place on earth. You'll notice that it is made in the fashion of my hand, the Hand of God. There are beautiful lakes, rivers, sunsets and rolling hills. The people from Michigan are going to be modest, intelligent and humorous and they are going to be found traveling the world. They will! be! extremely sociable, hard working and high achieving, and they will be known throughout the world as diplomats and carriers of peace."

Michael gasped in wonder and admiration but then proclaimed,"What about balance, God?" "You said there would be balance!"

God replied wisely, "Wait until you see the idiots I'm putting around them in
Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Canada"

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Today In Automotive History

1987 Ferrari unveils F40

Enzo Ferrari, in a ceremony commemorating his company's 40th year, unveiled the Ferrari F40 at the factory in Maranello, Italy. Speaking through an interpreter during the ceremony, the 89-year-old Ferrari announced, "A little more than a year ago, I expressed my wish to the engineers. Build a car to be the best in the world. And now the car is here." Ferrari's engineers had designed the F40 to be the fastest road vehicle ever built. They viewed the Porsche 959 as their major competition, but while the Porsche was equipped with luxury amenities, the F40 was to be all nuts and bolts. Every spoiler on the F40 played a vital role in keeping the car on the ground at speed; every vent was essential to keep the brakes and engine cool. The F40 came with no floor mats, no stereo, no power locks or windows. Its only frill was a vanity window displaying its massive V-8 engine, but this too was a part of the remarkably light composite body, molded of plastic, ceramic, and metal. The result of Ferrari's vision was the ultimate road vehicle for the ambitious driver. While the car had no electronic braking system, it was capable of 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds and could hold a top speed of 201mph, making the F40 the first production sports car to top the 200mph barrier. Like all of Ferrari's great cars, the F40 has enjoyed a successful career in sports car racing around the world.

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July 20, 2006

Delphi Just Screwed Themselves

I have no doubt in my mind now that Delphi workers will walk out on strike rather than take the huge paycuts and benefit concessions that they are being asked to take by management to save the company.

A U.S. bankruptcy court on Wednesday approved an extension of a multimillion dollar bonus plan for top Delphi Corp. executives over the objections of unions representing its 33,000 U.S. factory workers.

The bonuses, which the supplier argued are vital to retain key employees as it restructures, will go to 460 top officers if Delphi hits certain earnings targets between July and December. Similar bonuses, cleared by the court in February , came to $36.3 million for the first six months of the year, Delphi said. The second piece will total roughly $20 million if the company meets the performance targets and up to $37.9 million if the targets are exceeded.

But the United Auto Workers and Delphi's other five unions blasted the payouts, which come as hourly workers are being asked to accept steep wage and benefit cuts to aid the company's turnaround.

The plan "sends the message that hourly workers are the dispensable commodities of the Chapter 11 case while the executives will be insulated from the effects of a dislocating transformation," the UAW said in a court filing prior to Wednesday's hearing.

These are the same executives who put the supplier in bankruptcy but yet feel that they are owed million dollar bonuses to stay? All the while the rank and file are being asked by these same people to take 60% paycuts and start paying for their own insurance?

A strike is emminent, mark my words.

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Today In Automotive History

1894 Errett Lobban Cord is born

Errett Lobban Cord was born in Warrensburg, Missouri, on this day in 1894. Cord moved to Los Angeles while he was in high school and remained there after his graduation, starting a number of car dealerships. His prowess as a salesman led him to pursue bigger goals and to look for a way to invest the $100,000 he had managed to save in a few years of work. "Then I started looking around," he said, "I wanted to do something with that $100,000."

Cord found the struggling Auburn Automobile Company in Auburn, Indiana, a company on its last legs, having completed only 175 cars in 1923. Cord convinced Ralph Bard, head of a Chicago group that had purchased Auburn, to take him on as general manager at no cost, with the stipulation that if Cord turned the company around he would be allowed to purchase controlling interest. He launched a sales blitz, rapidly clearing out Auburn's inventory and enabling it to show a profit.

By 1926, Cord was company president and the following year the company established dividends at $4 a share and eight percent in stock. Cord then launched an aggressive business strategy, purchasing companies in many manufacturing fields and trading his stock on the New York Stock Exchange. He acquired Duesenberg in order to add a luxury car line to his Auburn cars. Sound stock management allowed Cord to expand his operations during the Depression while many other companies were merely struggling to survive.

Cord established an empire consisting of Auburn, Duesenberg, Stinson Aircraft, Lycoming Motors, Limousine Body, and a number of engineering plants. He placed his new acquisitions in a holding company called the Cord Corporation. In 1933, he added New York Shipbuilding and Checker Cab to his conglomerate. During the 1930s, sales of Cord's cars stumbled. Their heavy price tags could not be born by the tightening market. Nevertheless, during the late 1930s, Cord's company produced some of the finest classic cars in automotive history, but Cord's empire fell as precipitously as it had risen. He and Morris Markin, President of Checker, were investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission for stock manipulation. In one case Cord and Markin had purchased 70,000 shares of Checker at $7. Their action created the illusion of great activity in their stock, driving the price up. Markin and Cord unloaded their shares at an average price of $59 per share. Both men denied the charges, but neither contested a court injunction preventing them from further impropriety. The same day of the verdict Cord sold all of his interest in the Cord Corporation for $2.6 million.

Cord died from cancer, in Reno, Nev., in 1974.

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July 19, 2006

Friday Wednesday Doggie Blogging

I haven't Dog Blogged in awhile and I have plenty of pictures to post. So on with the cuteness!

Maggie's ear doing it's funky thing
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Lance with his favorite baby, blue puppy.
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Lance jumping into the laundry basket since Dad won't empty the laundry on the floor like he usually does. Lance likes the warmth of the clothes.
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Maggie's new bathing suit!

Maggie sitting pretty.
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Toyota Are Not Media Darlings Anymore

Boy Toyota must have lost favor with the media, because the media is just beating the hell out of Toyota right now. I actually heard about this recall on our local news last night.

Recalls Zap Toyota Again

Toyota's latest recall will include the previous-generation Prius and former Echo. The recall, which involves about 450,000 vehicles worldwide, stems from a defective crankshaft position sensor that could lead to a vehicle that will not restart. About 34,700 of the affected vehicles were sold in the U.S.; only vehicles manufactured in 2001 are affected. Replacement of the sensor will be done for free at Toyota dealers. Toyota has been involved in a string of recalls, from Japanese-market Hilux models to several Lexus vehicles sold in the U.S.

Hattip: The Car Connection and The Detroit News

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Today In Automotive History

1934 Patent filed for retractable headlamps

Harold T. Ames filed a patent application for his retractable headlamps. The design would later become one of the defining details on Ames' most triumphant project, the Cord 810. Ames, then the chief executive at Duesenberg, asked Cord designer Gordon Buehrig to make a "baby version" of the Duesenberg car. Buehrig's response, the Cord 810, is widely held to be one of the most influential cars in American automotive history. It was the last great offering of the Auburn, Cord, and Duesenberg triumvirate, as the company became insolvent at the end of the Depression. In 1952, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) chose the 1937 Cord as one of eight automotive works of art for a year-long exhibition. MoMA's summation of the Cord's lines are as follows: "Many of the Cord's lines are borrowed form aerodynamics... The Cord suggests the driving power of a fast fighter plane. It is, in fact, a most solemn expression of streamlining."

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July 18, 2006

Today In Automotive History

1948 "The Maestro" makes Formula One debut

Juan Manuel Fangio, a.k.a. "the Maestro," made his Formula One debut finishing 12th at the Grand Prix de l'ACF in France. Fangio was 37 years old at the start of his first Formula One race, but his late appearance onto the racing scene did not diminish his impact. Born to an Italian immigrant family outside of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Fangio learned to race on the death-trap tracks of Argentina for little reward. Finally, his excellence was recognized by Argentine dictator Juan Peron, who agreed to sponsor Fangio's racing career. Formula One Grand Prix racing began in 1950, and Fangio took second place in the World Driver's Championship driving for Alpha Romeo. The next year he won. A crash kept him out of the circuit for the next two years, but in 1954, he switched to the Mercedes team and won his first of four consecutive World Driver's Championships. He is the only man to ever have won five titles. Fangio was known for his spectacular technical ability and for his demure manner. He spoke always with the quiet confidence that comes from a specific talent. Said Fangio, "great drivers can do their best times in two or three laps of a circuit, while others take 10, 20, or 30." Fangio's greatest achievement came in his last full season at the German Grand Prix in Nurburgring. He needed to fend off Ferrrari's driving team of Hawthorne and Collins to wrap up his fifth world title. Fangio started the race with half-full tanks, intending to build an insurmountable lead in his lighter car. When he pitted, however, the Ferrari's thundered by, stretching to a 56-second lead. The chances looked dim for the Maestro. Gradually, though, he pulled himself back into the race. On three consecutive laps he bettered the track record for the 14.2 mile Nordeschlifer ("North Ring") by an incredible 12 seconds. Fangio was racing faster than his qualifying times recorded on an empty course. Hand over fist he pulled the Ferrari cars in, their team managers urging them on in disbelief. Fangio stated, "I believe that on that day in 1957 I finally managed to master the Nurburgring, making those laps in the dark on those curves where I had never before had the courage to push things so far." After a few races in 1958, Fangio retired. The mild-mannered Argentine reflected that since he retired, the only racers to have approached his mastery of the sport were Jim Clark and Ayrton Senna. Both men died in their cars.

Juan Manuel Fangio died on July 17, 1995, and was buried in Balcarce, Argentina.

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July 17, 2006

Sitemeter Hit Grossness

Ok, who ever searched for this and came up with my site must have been desperate because my site is listed as the 191st site for it.

As for the search, ick, just plain ick.

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Today In Automotive History

1964 Campbell follows in fast father's footsteps

Donald Campbell, the son of Britain's most prolific land-speed record holder, Sir Malcolm Campbell, drove the Proteus Bluebird to a four-wheel, gasoline-powered land-speed record with two identical runs of 403mph at Lake Eyre, South Australia. Campbell contracted rheumatic fever as a child while accompanying his father to South Africa for the elder Campbell's assault on the 300mph barrier. The fever nearly cost Campbell his life, and reshaped his childhood, confining him to a wheel chair for almost three years. Young Campbell lived in his father's dark shadow, as Sir Malcolm was said by some to be a proponent of tough love, and by others to be a cruel-hearted disciplinarian. Whatever the case, the relationship between father and son was strained, with Malcolm expecting too much from his son, and Donald avoiding the expectations as best he could. With the breakout of World War II, Donald seized his chance to live up to his father expectations by signing up for the Royal Air Force (RAF)--Malcolm had flown in World War I. But he was refused when the RAF learned of his history of rheumatic fever. Instead Donald became a constable in England. Meanwhile, his father was a successful military attaché in the Middle East. Donald recalls the trying time, "It appeared I was something of a failure. The Old Man was doing a real job of work and here I was playing policemen and getting into bloody silly accidents." The "accident" was a motorcycle crash with a truck that Donald suffered while on duty. After the war, Sir Malcolm continued to pursue speed records until his death. It wasn't until after his father had passed away that Donald considered pursuing speed records. When it became known his father's water-speed record was in danger, Donald asked his father's long time chief mechanic and close family friend, Leo Villa, to help him set a new mark. It was his chance at redemption. Donald had trouble raising money for his pursuit as his father had left nearly his entire estate to his future grandchildren. Donald raced his father's old boat for nearly six years before breaking his first water-speed record. He broke 200mph, a barrier man thought unbreakable on water, and then proceeded to raise the mark to over 260mph. His single-minded quest for records left behind two failed marriages. Progressively more ambitious, Donald set his sights on the more prestigious land-speed record. He crashed badly, nearly dying, in his first attempt in the Proteus Bluebird at the Bonneville Salt Flats. After undergoing physical rehabilitation and the struggle to raise money for a new car body, he was ready to try to break the 400mph mark again. Many, including some of his crewmembers, thought the crash had ruined his nerves. Donald appeared to be driving too cautiously. But when American Craig Breedlove set an unofficial record of 404mph in a rocket car, Donald knew he had to act. His record run at Lake Eyre, in the face of so many doubters, was his defining moment. Still he wasn't satisfied. Worried by Breedlove's record and his father's ghost, he decided to go for the double, holding both land and water speed records at once. Months later on Lake Dumbleyung in Western Australia, Donald tested his own limits for the last time. "Full power... tramping like hell... I can't see much and the water's very bad indeed. I can't get over the top... I'm getting a lot of bloody row in here... I can't see anything.. I've got the bows up... I've gone." His last words.

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July 15, 2006

Vacation Photos

Here are the photos I took with the digital camera, not many but a small sample.

First up, a view of the ocean and then a view of the sound from the top of the Wright Brothers Memorial.

Then we have Currituck Lighthouse.

And that is Mr Weenie up top of Currituck Lighthouse

This is the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the one they moved 2900 feet so it wouldn't fall into the ocean.

And last we have the Bodie Island Lighthouse.

If you noticed all the Lighthouses are painted different colors or ways. This is so during the day boaters, ships people can tell exactly where they are along the East Coast by the color of the Lighthouse. All Lighthouse along the East Coast are different colors.

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July 14, 2006

Pop Lawsuit Lottery

Seems like everyone is piling on the Pop Makers lately. Here is the latest lawsuit against Coke.

A St. Louis weight-loss instructor is suing The Coca-Cola Co. over its product loyalty campaign, claiming the program might encourage kids to drink so much of the sugary soft drink that they could die.

The campaign, called "My Coke Rewards" gives customers points for buying Coca-Cola products. Customers trade in points for prizes that range from baseball gloves to free vacations.

Excuse me, I'm off to buy some Coke products.

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I Drive Like A Guy

I found this over at blog momma Tammi's. The results surprised me because I thought I would score higher on the guy end.

Your Driving Is is: 77% Male, 23% Female
According to studies, you generally drive like a typical male.
You're confident in your driving skills, and hardly any situation gets the better of you.
And while you may have a few tickets under your belt, you're still a very good driver.
Do You Drive Like a Guy or a Girl?
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Ford Uping Powertrain Warrenties

This will be a huge advantage for Ford. I bet by year's end GM and DCX will follow suit.

Ford Motor Co. is trying to outflank some key competitors such as General Motors and DaimlerChrysler by announcing plans for what it described as the best warranty and roadside assistance packages now available from any full-line manufacturer. The no-deductible, fully transferable powertrain limited warranty on 2007 Ford and Mercury vehicles is now five years or 60,000 miles - better than all Chrysler Group and most GM nameplates, Ford officials said. Lincoln's 2007 powertrain limited warranty is now six years or 70,000
miles - up to 20,000 miles and two years longer than the warranty offered by Cadillac. Ford also plans to offer complimentary roadside assistance, including towing, fuel, and lock-out service for the entire warranty period - services not offered by Toyota and Honda, said Cisco Codina, Ford group vice president, North America Marketing, Sales and Service. Ford also is making side air curtains or its advanced Safety Canopy system with rollover sensor standard equipment on 13 vehicles for 2007. "Ford's goal is to be America's car company - the one that customers expect to set the standard for design, engineering, and the ownership experience," he said.
"When we said Ford was going to look at the world through customers' eyes, we meant every word," he added. "That means bold design, more standard safety features, higher quality and, starting today, the best warranty and roadside assistance packages of any full-line manufacturer - American, European, or Asian." "It's a very consumer oriented strategy," added Codina, who added Ford plans to use the new warranty as a marketing tool. "It certainly has value to the consumers. It offers some real convenience. We think this program is very manageable," for the company, added Codina. Ford's internal quality measurements are improving, which will help minimize the cost, he said.

Hattip: The Car Connection
Another article with more details.

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Nissan's Starting The Lies Already

This is the exact same thing that Daimler said about the Chrysler "merger" too.

Today's the big day for the meeting between GM CEO Rick Wagoner and Renault/Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn - and Ghosn is getting in front of the press by declaring his interest in GM and non-interest in leading GM itself. In an interview with the New York Times, Ghosn said that he wants GM to join the alliance, creating a three-part global auto empire that could be enjoined by the end of the year. Ghosn portrayed his interest in broadening the alliance as a peaceful move that would be dissuaded if GM management were not in favor of it. In another interview with CNBC, Ghosn added that he was not interested in running more than two auto companies. The Times suggests that Nissan and Renault each could take a ten-percent share in General Motors; the 20-percent share of GM could cost $3 billion.

Hattip: The Car Connection

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A Delta Pilots War On Terror View

I received this as a email, it's a story by Pat Gilmore. He is a retired Delta Pilot and his memory of his run in with Mohammad Atta.

Mohammad Atta was in my Cockpit Jump-seat This is the response from a
retired Delta pilot in response to questions about whether he was going
to see UAL 93. I haven't seen the movie, yet, but I intend to when I
get the chance. Retirement has made me busier than ever, and I haven't
had the chance to see many movies lately. As a Delta B-767 captain
myself at the time of the attacks on 9/11, I was in crew rest in Orlando
that morning. I had just turned on the TV in my hotel room only to see
the WTC tower on fire, then saw the second airplane hit the other tower.
My immediate reaction was "T errorists...we're at war", followed by the
realization that we airline crewmembers had all dodged a bullet; it
could have been any one of us flying those planes. As soon as the news
stations flashed the first pictures of the terrorists, I knew just how
close and personal the bullet I dodged was.

There, on the screen for all
to see, was a man who had sat in my jump-seat the previous July. His
name was Mohammad Atta, the leader of the terrorist hijackers. Mr. Atta
had boarded my flight from Baltimore to Atlanta on July 26, 2001 wearing
an American Airlines first officer uniform. He had the corresponding AA
company ID identifying him as a pilot, not to mention the required FAA
pilot license and medical certificate that he was required to show me
as proof of his aircrew status for access to my jump-seat. An airline
pilot riding a cockpit jump-seat is a long established protocol among the
airlines of the world, a courtesy extended by the management and
captains of one airline to pilots and flight attendants of other airlines in
recognition of their aircrew status. My admission of Mohammad Atta to
my cockpit jump-seat that day was merely a routine exercise of this
protocol. Something seemed a bit different about this jump-seat rider,
though, because in my usual course of conversation with him as we reached
cruise altitude he avoided all my questions about his personal life and
focused very intently upon the cockpit instruments and our operation of
the aircraft. I asked him what he flew at American and he said,
"These", but he asked incessant questions about how we did this or why we did
that. I said, "This is a 767. They all operate the same way." But he
said, "No, we operate them differently at American." That seemed very
strange, because I knew better. I asked him about his background, and he
admitted he was from Saudi Arabia. I asked him when he came over to this
country and he said "A couple of years ago.", to which I asked, "Are
you a US citizen?" He said no. I also found that very strange because I
know that in order to have an Airline Transport Pilot rating, the rating
required to be an airline captain, one has to be a US citizen, and
knowing the US airlines and their hiring process as I do, I found it hard
to believe that American Airlines would hire a non-US citizen who
couldn't upgrade to captain when the time came. He said, "The rules have
changed.", which I also knew to be untrue. Besides, he was just, shall I
say, "Creepy"? My copilot and I were both glad to get rid of this guy
when we got to Atlanta. There was nothing to indicate, though, that he
was anything other than who or what he said he was, because he had the
documentation to prove who he was. In retrospect, we now know his uniform
was stolen and his documents were forged. Information later came to
light as to how this was done. It seems that Mohammad Atta and his
cronies had possibly stolen pilot uniforms and credentials from hotel rooms
during the previous year. We had many security alerts at the airline to
watch out for our personal items in hotel rooms because these were
mysteriously disappearing, but nobody knew why. Atta and his men used these
to make dry runs prior to their actual hijackings on 9/11. How do I
know? I called the FBI as soon as I saw his face on the TV that day, and
the agent on the other end of the line took my information and told me
I'd hear back from them when all the dust settled. A few weeks later I
got a letter from the Bureau saying that my call was one of at least
half a dozen calls that day from other pilots who had had the same
experience. Flights were being selected at random to make test runs for
accessing the cockpit. It seems we had all dodged bullets. Over the years my
attitude towards the War Against Terrorism and the wars in Afghanistan
and Iraq have been known to be on the red neck, warmongering,
rah-rah-shoot-em-up side of things. I've been known to lose my patience with
those who say the war in Iraq or anywhere else in the Muslim world is
wrong, or who say we shouldn't become involved in that area of the world
for political correctness reasons. Maybe it's because I dodged the bullet
so closely back in 2001 that I feel this way. I have very little
patience for political rhetoric or debate against this war because for a
couple of hours back in July 2001, when I was engaged in conversation with
a major perpetrator in this war, I came so close to being one of its
victims that I can think in no other terms. I don't mind admitting that
one of the reasons I retired early from Delta last May, other than to
protect my disappearing company retirement, was because it became harder
and harder for me to go to work every day knowing that the war wasn't
being taken seriously by the general public. The worst offenders were
the Liberal detractors to the present administration, and right or wrong,
this administration is at least taking the bull by the horns and
fighting our enemies, which is something concrete that I can appreciate.
Nobody was taking this war seriously, and it seems everyone found fault
with the US government rather than with those who attacked us. I found
that incomprehensible. I also found myself being scrutinized by TSA
screeners more and more every day when I went to work, and suffered the hu
miliating indignity of being identified about half the time for body
searches in front of the general flying public who looked at the entire
process as being ludicrous. "They don't even trust their own pilots!"
accompanied by an unbelieving snicker was the usual response. Here I was,
a retired USAF officer who had been entrusted to fly nuclear weapons
around the world, who had been granted a Top Secret clearance and had
been on missions over the course of 21 years in the military that I still
can't talk about without fear of prosecution by the DoD, who was being
scanned by a flunkie TSA screener looking for any sign of a pen knife
or nail file on my person. It wasn't until six months after my
retirement when my wife and I flew to Key West, FL last November that I was
finally able to rid myself of the visage of Mohammad Atta sitting behind
me on my jump-seat, watching my ;every action in the cockpit and willing
to slit my throat at the slightest provocation. I missed being a
headline by a mere 47 days, and could very well have been among the aircrew
casualties on 9/11 had one of my flights on my monthly schedule been a
transcontinental flight from Boston or New York to the west coast on the
11th of September. Very few people know that, while only four airliners
crashed that day, four more were targeted, and two of them were Delta
flights. The only reason these four weren't involved is because they
either had minor maintenance problems which delayed them at the gate or
they were scheduled to depart after the FAA decided to ground all
flights. They are the pilots and flight attendants who REALLY dodged the
bullet that day, and my faith in a higher power is restored as a result. I
will see United 93 when I get the chance, and I will probably enjoy the
movie for its realness and historical significance, but forgive me if I
do not embrace the Muslim world for the rest of my life. The Islamic
world is no friend of the West, and although we may be able to get along
with their governments in the future, the stated goal of Islam is world
conquest through Jihad and it is the extremist Jihadists, backed and
funded by "friendly" Moslem governments, whom we have to fear the most.
We must have a presence in the Middle East, and we must have friends in
the Middle East, even if we have to fight wars to get them. Only
someone who has dodged a bullet can fully appreciate that fact. Best to all,
Pat Gilmore

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Today In Automotive History

1955 VW introduces Karmann-Ghia

Volkswagen introduced the Karmann-Ghia coupe at the Kasino Hotel in Westfalia, Germany. As the European car market finally recovered from the war, Volkswagen felt that it needed to release an "image car" to accompany its plain but reliable "Bugs and Buses." Volkswagen was not the only automotive company looking for a flagship car at the time. Chevrolet had released the Corvette, and Ford the Thunderbird. The Chrysler Corporation had contracted with the Italian design firm Ghia to create designs for a Chrysler dream car; however, none of the designs came to fruition. Meanwhile, Volkswagen had contracted with German coach-builder Karmann for their own image car, and Karmann, in turn, had sub-contracted to Ghia for design offerings. Eventually Ghia supplied Karmann with a version of their Chrysler design, modified for the floor plan of the Volkswagen Beetle. The Karmann-Ghia was released as a 1956 model by Volkswagen. The car's sleek lines and hand craftsmanship attracted the attention Volkswagen had hoped for. Nevertheless, as sporty as the Karmann-Ghia looked, it suffered from its 36hp flat four engine in the area of power. Still, the Karmann-Ghia sold 10,000 units in its first full production year ,and with the release of the convertible in 1958, production reached 18,000 units for one year. Sales climbed steadily through the 1960s, peaking at 33,000 cars per year. While General Motors and Ford focused on their Corvette and Thunderbird, respectively, Volkswagen found that the Bug had increased in popularity, especially in the U.S. market. Executives decided to focus their marketing attention on the Bug, abandoning the Karmann-Ghia, which was last produced in 1974.

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July 13, 2006

More Asian Recalls

Continuing with the theme from yesterdays post about the beginning of Toyota's downfall. Have you noticed that there are more and more recalls for the asian companies lately? Well ok, you might not have noticed because they have never been talked about openly by the media in the past but there are a lot more recalls these days for asian companies then there have been in the past.

Mark my words, the asian automakers are starting down the path of destruction and if they don't grab hold of this fact soon they will end up where GM is now within the next 10 years.

Toyota Motor Corp. said Wednesday it was recalling 367,500 Toyota and Lexus sport utility vehicles in the United States because a piece in the front console area could come loose and interfere with the gas pedal.

In a separate announcement, Nissan North America Inc. said it would recall 200,000 Altima and Sentra sedans from the 2003 model year to fix a faulty sensor that can cause the engine to shut down in routine traffic.

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Put Your Company In Bankruptcy, Here's A Bonus

What I honestly don't get is why Delphi executives think they deserve bonuses for putting the company into bankruptcy. I mean shouldn't the executives be held accountable for the company doing poorly instead of rewarding them for the same thing?

The International Union of Electronic Workers-Communications Workers of America is asking the bankruptcy judge in New York to set aside an extension of the bankrupt Delphi Corp.'s annual incentive program for senior executives.

An extension of the bonus program "will anger, humiliate and alienate" Delphi's unionized employees who are coping with a sweeping restructuring that will eliminate more than two-thirds of the company's existing manufacturing jobs. In addition, payment of the bonuses will effectively scuttle union efforts to negotiate modifications in their collective bargaining agreements. The payment of $60 million in bonuses could foreclose any chance of having a new agreements ratified by Delphi's employees, the IUE-CWA said in its court filings.

Delphi has asked the bankruptcy judge to extend the bonus program for the second half of this year and continue as long as the company is in bankruptcy. Judge Robert Drain has scheduled a hearing next week.

Last winter, Drain ruled that Delphi had "exercised reasonable business judgment" when it sought the first program, which covered the first half of the year and was estimated to cost $36.3 million. It implemented the program to bring executive compensation up to competitive levels, according to Delphi, which maintained its executives were underpaid. Delphi lost $2.4 billion last year and has now lost more than $7.2 billion in the past two years.

Hattip: The Car Connection

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Today In Automotive History

1995 Chrysler dealership opens in Hanoi

On this day in 1995, the Chrysler Corporation opened a car dealership in downtown Hanoi, Vietnam. One week later, Chrysler opened another dealership in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, with the intention of marketing 200 import vehicles per year through the two dealerships. The openings were a part of Chrysler's long-term goal of implementing auto production in Vietnam--something that rivals Ford and Toyota were also pursuing at the time. On September 6, Chrysler received permission from the Vietnamese government to assemble vehicles in Vietnam, allowing Chrysler to construct a production facility in Dong Nai Province, Southern Vietnam, with the aim of manufacturing 500 to 1,000 Dodge Dakota pick-up trucks for the Vietnamese market annually. Chrysler Vice President of International Operations Tom Gale stated, "We're taking a very long term view with our program in Vietnam. Southeast Asia is a significant market on our international growth strategy, so it is vital to establish a foothold there now. Since it is a young market, it will take several years before we can produce at capacity level." Chrysler planned to achieve production of 17,000 vehicles annually in three car types: the Neon, the Dakota, and the Jeep Cherokee. Of the significant hang-ups faced by the foreign car companies attempting to set up shop in Vietnam was the Vietnamese government's refusal to give up rice pasture land for the construction of new production facilities. The American car companies also met resistance from some Vietnam veterans groups, but Chrysler held that it would not have gone forward with its move unless it met with the nation's approval. On this issue, Gale said, "By starting business here we feel we're helping the healing process. We have consulted with veterans groups and the U.S. government. Some feel it's time to move on. Many of the veterans groups support American investment in Vietnam as an outlet to increase access to the country." Projections showed that by the year 2000 the car market in Vietnam would increase to 60,000 vehicles sold annually. The crash of the Asian market in 1998 will limit those projections considerably.

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July 12, 2006

The Beginning Of The End Of Toyota

I see this as the beginning of Toyota's eventual downfall.

Toyota Motor Corp. finds itself in a deeply uncomfortable position as three of its quality-control managers in Japan are the focus of a criminal investigation into whether they downplayed reports of steering problems in the mid-1990s.

These 3 managers are in deep doo-doo. These 3 managers will be shuned in Japanese society.

That problem was subsequently cited as the possible cause of an accident in Japan that injured five people and eventually led to a global recall by Toyota of more than 1 million vehicles.

Investigators are looking into whether Toyota's managers were negligent in dismissing early reports of steering problems, according to a report from the Associated Press in Tokyo.

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Today In Automotive History

1904 Harkness wins first Mt. Washington hill climb

Driver Harry Harkness won the first Mount Washington, New Hampshire, hill-climb race driving a 60hp Mercedes Benz on this day in 1904. The earliest ascent of Mount Washington in an automobile occurred in 1899, but the aptly named "Carriage Road" had been carrying coaches to the top of Mount Washington since 1861. Answering the public's desire for auto racing--hill-climb races in particular--local authorities arranged for the first "Climb to the Clouds." The race attracted entries from car companies who wished to show off their performance capabilities. A contemporary account describes Harkness' win: "In a chill driving mist that would compel cautious running even on a wide level road, Harry Harkness rushed Mount Washington in the Climb to the Clouds today and placed the record figures for this year at twenty-four minutes, thirty seconds. Something more than the achievements of the drivers of American stock cars was to be expected from the sixty-horsepower $18,000 Mercedes, and from this comparative view the feat was not extraordinary." In contrast to Harkness and his expensive import, F.E. Stanley, the creator of the Stanley Steamer, drove his eight-horsepower steam engine to the top in twenty-eight minutes and nineteen seconds. Steam cars had dominated hill-climb events until companies like Mercedes could engineer cars that would handle the massive internal combustion engines required to propel them up inclines at higher speeds. The accomplishment of the drivers in these events is perhaps more remarkable than the feats of the cars themselves. Consider the newspaper account of Harkness' run: "To guide 2,200 pounds of mechanism up an eight-mile narrow mountain road, and to pull up just 4,600 feet above the starting point after averaging twenty miles an hour without a stop is a sure enough test of man and machine." In order to compete with Harkness' impressive posted time, Stanley stripped his machine bare for his ascent. The Stanley's engine had only 15 moving parts, ran silently, and managed only seven horsepower, but at 20mph it would bump and knock around a mountain road even more than its heavier competitors. Stanley eliminated even his seat cushion for the climb, and when he stood at the podium to accept the trophy for the steam car class "he was rather used up with the jolting he got along the way." The Climb to the Clouds still runs today in late June.

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July 11, 2006

Top 10 Gay Vehicles?

Gaywheels.com Top 10 Most Researched Vehicles

1 Saturn Sky
2 Toyota Yaris
3 Dodge Caliber
4 Volkswagen Jetta
5 Toyota Camry
6 Audi A3
7 Toyota Prius(emphasis mine)
8 Saab 9-3 (sedan and convertible)
9 Pontiac G6 (sedan, coupe and convertible)
10 Mazda MX-5

Looks like Gay Americans don't especially take to American brand cars. Draw your own conclusions from that.

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GM's "Alliance" Deal With Nissan

I know everyone has been on the edge of their seat waiting to hear my response to the GM/Nissan "Alliance" deal being talked about.

I really don't have much to say other than it's a horrible deal and should GM go through with it there will be no more GM within months of the deal closing.

All I need to do is reference Chrysler and Daimler on this. Chrysler no longer exists except in a vehicle line name. It was suppose to be a "merger" but within months of the deal closing Chrylser was dismembered and Daimler took over.

This is bad ... bad, bad, bad. It should not happen. This all has come about because Kerkorian wants to make more money (he owns a hefty share of GM stock) and being the selfish asshole that he is this is one way he can make money and make GM pay for the past lost attempts by him to bring GM down.

This article has a lot of links to other stories about the same topic. This is hot news around here and will be for months to come. Everyone will be keeping a close eye on what is happening with this because a deal would change the entire landscape of the auto industry. It will have effects far and wide, bad effects.

Posted by Quality Weenie at 07:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Another Toyota Recall

Another Toyota recall is making not so much news. It was actually in our local paper this time, one of the back pages of the business section. At least the asian automotaker recalls are starting to make the papers.

Toyota Motor Corp. will spend millions to deactivate front-seat passenger air bag cut-off switches in nearly 160,000 Tundra pickups to avoid having to install a costlier child safety seat anchoring system.

The Japanese automaker is taking the action after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on June 28 rejected Toyota's petition to waive a federal safety regulation that requires most vehicles built after September 2002 and equipped with the cut-off switch to also have a child seat anchor system known as LATCH -- lower anchorages and tethers for children.

The regulation was meant to ensure that child seats stay in place in a crash, especially in vehicles with smaller rear seating, such as pickups.

Figures, Toyota feels they are above the law and shouldn't have to follow it. What I am surprised about it that NHTSB is actually forcing them to comply with the law. I mean this is Toyota, how dare someone say they are doing something wrong.

[sarcasm off]

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Today In Automotive History

1916 Feds step in to help states build roads

In a White House ceremony, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Aid Road Act, the first grant-in-aid enacted by Congress to help states build roads. In 1916, roads throughout America were generally poor and most were susceptible to weather. The advent of the Ford Model T brought on new interests in higher standards for roads, and by the early 1900s, motorist clubs like the American Automobile Association (AAA) had rallied around the call for federally funded long-distance highways. Farmers balked at the idea, arguing that paying taxes so city people could go on car tours was unfair. As the car became more important to farmers, however, the ground became fertile for legislation to raise the quality or roads across the country. In 1907, the legal issue of the federal government's role in road-building was settled in the Supreme Court case Wilson vs. Shaw. Justice David Brewer wrote that the federal government could "construct interstate highways" because of their constitutional right to regulate interstate commerce. By 1912, bills concerning federal funding of the highways were considered on the House floor, although a split in constituencies had divided the advocates. Farmers wanted sturdy, all-weather postal roads, and urban motorists wanted paved long-distance highways. Many state officials claim that any federal-funding package would only be used as a "pork barrel" to interfere with the operations of the state. In the end, a bill was passed that included the stipulation that all states have a highway agency staffed by professional engineers who would administer the federal funds as they saw fit. The bill on offer leaned in the favor of the rural populations by focusing on rural postal roads rather than interstate highways. The cause of interstate highways would not be addressed until many years later during President Dwight D. Eisenhower's administration, but the Federal Aid Road Act was the cornerstone for today's highway system and the precedent for all highway legislation to come. The rural road improvement that happened as a result of the act helped rural Americans participate more efficiently in the national economy.

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July 10, 2006

I Heart Summer Shut-down

Right now is what is known in the automotive industry as summer shut-down.

The automotive manufacturing plants normally shut-down the first 2 weeks in July (plus or minus 1 week) to do plant maintanance. Things that need fixing, repairing or cleaning that take a few days which isn't to had during the rest of the year.

So when the automotive manufacturing plants shut-down suppliers to them shut-down also to do the same thing at our plants.

Vacation was manadatory last week for us (I already had my vacation planned so didn't bother me) but this week (still on shut-down) we get to work. We spend this time completing all that stuff we couldn't get done because of work getting in the way.

We also get to wear jeans all week.

And if today is any indication we get to leave early also. I was told we could leave at 2:30pm today.


I heart summer shut-down!

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Vacation Re-Cap

This was a much needed vacation this year with all the stress I have been under due to the job stuff that had been going on this year. We take a weeks vacation somewhere every year except last year because we had just gotten the puppies and Mr. Weenie felt that we shouldn't leave them so soon. So it's been 2 years since we had been on vacation. Vacation is the time in which I wind down and leave the stress that has been building up during the previous year behind me, this year I had 2 years to de-stress from.

Flight to and from was smooth sailing, except for the bratty kid sitting behind me going that kept pushing their feet into my back, the whole.freaking.time.

I have to give a shout-out to the bed and breakfast that we stayed at. The Cypress House Inn. The stay was great, the Inn-keepers showed great southern hospitality, the food awesome. The Inn-keeper was a former Paratrooper too, need I say more. If you are ever in the area a stay there is a must.

We spent a lot of our time at the beach, as there really isn't a lot to site-see on the Outer Banks. On Sunday we actually played in the Ocean and had a blast. I haven't played in the ocean since I was a teenager. We body surfed and splashed around, it was great!

Monday the heat index reached 115 degrees. I loved it!

There was an awesome thunderstorm Monday night which we watched from the porch.

The Wright Brothers National Park was due west of where we stayed. The memorial was visible from the backyard.

If ever in the area a visit to the Wright Brothers Park is mandatory. It was very interesting. Did you know from their first flight only 66 years later we landed on the moon? Did you also know that during WWII for testing of the newly built planes they used female test pilots because the male test pilots were away at war.

One of the days a fighter jet went screaming overhead (it was very low). We were told that when fighter jets are in the area they get permission to do a fly-over of the Wright Brothers Memorial and they dip their wings in respect for the Wright Brothers. The Inn-keepers said it happens a lot as there is a Navy/Marine station at Langley and an Air Force station at Cherry Point.

We visited a few lighthouses, was able to go up in only one (well actually Mr. Weenie went up, I am, how you say, afraid of heights). Mr. Weenie climbed the Currituck Lighthouse at the northern end of the Outer Banks. We also saw the Bodie Island Lighthouse (about mid-way) and the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse (southern end). Did you know the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was moved in 2003 as it was very close to the ocean due to erosion. They moved the lighthouse 2900 feet.

We also visited Roanoke Island, the site of the "Lost Colony". If you ever go I would skip it, wasn't anything but a pile of unmarked dirt. At least we didn't pay to see the dirt.

We ate plenty of seafood, but it wasn't cheap. All the other places we have visited that are known for fresh seafood it was cheaper then what we could get it at home for, a lot cheaper. Not at the Outer Banks, even though most restaurants actually have traps and catch it themselves daily. It was just as expensive as it was a home. Ok, it was better tasting, but still.

Here is what I ate: Crab, crab, crab, crab soup, crab, crab. Mr. Weenie: Shrimp, Shrimp, Shrimp, Crap soup, Shrimp, Shrimp.

The fireworks on Tuesday were pretty disappointing.

There were some old hippies staying at the B&B while we were there and one morning we were talking and they were bitching about a lot of jobs being sent overseas and Americans should buy American products, yadda, yadda, yadda. Too bad the stupid old hippies were hypocrites since they drove a Toyota Prius. I had to give Mr. Weenie "the look" warning him not to say anything.

Some Canadians were also there for a couple days and we were talking with them at breakfast and Mr. Weenie comes out with these 2 gems:

"So you guys have a lot of terrorist up in Canada"
"You guys are sending a lot of hazardous waste to Michigan, what's up with that."

Ya, Mr. Weenie talks before thinking sometimes.

After a week at the beach I don't know why I was so worried about wearing the swimsuit I bought for myself in public (swim skirt and tankini top). To start with I guess it wasn't polite to start screaming about calling the coast guard to save the beached whale, that women didn't like me much after that. The white trash was abundant, as was their fat asses and belly rolls sticking out of their string bikinis. *shudder*. I maybe scared for life from those views. I mean really, the amount of women walking around in bikinis with fat hanging all over the place was revolting to say the least. Oh and of course there had to be one Speedo wearing, old fat guy walking around.

3 people drowned while we were on vacation, we actually got to see one search and recovery in action. The Coast Guard chopper was flying around, they had a boat and Jet Ski’s searching the water and even divers doing a grid search pattern.

We got back Friday afternoon and immediately headed to the boarders to pick up the puppies. They were very happy to see us and wouldn't leave our sides all weekend.

In all it was a great vacation, much needed. I am now planning for next year’s vacation, have some ideas but I need to narrow it down to one by January. And then I get out my spreadsheets and start planning the vacation which doesn't commence until July.

Posted by Quality Weenie at 09:22 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

I'm Back!

I'm back from vacation and had a wonderful time. Will post a vacation re-cap a little later, even have pictures to post.

Posted by Quality Weenie at 07:12 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Today In Automotive History

1907 Post office established at Oldsmobile's "Oldsmar"

A post office--a sign of permanent settlement--was established on this day in 1907 at the north end of Tampa Bay, Florida, serving a settlement that would become Oldsmar, Florida, a planned community financed by Oldsmobile icon Ransom Eli Olds. When Olds purchased 37,500 acres from Richard Peters in 1913, only a few settlers occupied the territory. Olds already owned a house on the Atlantic coast of Florida in Daytona Beach, and the Gulf Coast offered the cheap coastal land he needed for his development project. He originally dubbed his new town "R.E. Olds-On-The-Sea," but thankfully someone suggested he change its name to Oldsmar shortly thereafter. Olds spent $400,000 on purchasing the land, but he would go on to pour in over $4 million to develop the settlement. Having already started the Oldsmobile and REO companies, the planned community was the 52-year-old's final challenge. He financed the construction of miles of extra-wide roads and paved sidewalks, and built a comprehensive water system--a difficult project in Florida's lowland aquifer. Olds encouraged farming in his new town, and in the meantime, went about trying to attract other forms of business and entrepreneurial spirit, spending $100,000 on an oil well that unfortunately never yielded anything but sulphurous water. Olds saturated Detroit with advertisements for his idyllic new town, hoping to lure thousands of autoworkers to the better climate. In expectation of their arrival, Olds constructed shoddy houses with poor plumbing systems. Few workers came, as Olds had never been popular with his workers. Unable to attract a labor force, Olds realized he would have trouble convincing companies to move to Oldsmar. His nearest success came when he provided financial backing to the Kardell Truck Company provided it move to town, but the venture proved unsuccessful. Oldsmar remained a sleepy fishing and farming town--with nice roads. In 1923, Olds had millions invested in Oldsmar. When he realized the town wasn't going to grow, he attempted to liquidate his assets, selling parcels of land and a nearly finished racetrack. He left the town having incurred over $3 million in losses. Olds had envisioned a city of 100,000 inhabitants, but when he abandoned Oldsmar, he left behind only 200 permanent residents.

Posted by Quality Weenie at 07:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack