Electrifying The American Automobile

By Dane Hammond - Contributing Automotive Bloggist

The Chevrolet Volt, just the name alone stirs up controversy. For years it was the darling project of industry giant Bob Lutz, in fact it was Bob who willed the car onto the showroom floor. As his last project before retiring, Bob talked up the Volt to anyone who would listen. The auto industry was all ears and heaped on accolades. In 2011 the Volt was named Motor Trend's Car of the Year, as well as the World Green Car of the Year, and has just been named the 2012 European Car of the Year along with versions from Opel and Vauxhall called the Ampera.Originally GM planned to sell 60,000 Volts and Amperas worldwide in 2012, but an unfortunate string of bad publicity based around a well-publicized battery fire during crash testing, and a lower than expected electric range rating from the EPA has severely hampered sales. The company sold 7,671 Volts last year, but only 1,626 cars were sold in the first two months of this year, which has caused General Motors to shut down production of the car from March 19th to April 23rd in order to bring supply closer to it's current level of demand.
Yelling Fire
As to the fire hazard question with Volt's battery system, the NHTSA did and exhaustive investigation into the matter and "has concluded that no discernible defect trend exists and that the vehicle modifications recently developed by General Motors reduce the potential for battery intrusion resulting from side impacts." GM responded swiftly by instituting a voluntary "customer satisfaction program" that asked 8,000 Volt owners to bring their plug-in hybrid back to the dealership for modifications. Of course this didn't stop a political battle in Congress as a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by California Republican Darrell Issa, grilled GM's Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson regarding the Volt.Many in the industry and press feel that the knock on the Volt has been far too sever.In fact GM is set to launch a new national ad campaign this month to coincide with a drop in their monthly lease price in hopes of reviving interest in the car. According to the Wall Street Journal the automaker plans to offer a 39 month lease for the Volt at $350 per month, a drop of $50 from their original lease pricing.GM North America President Mark Ruess told the WSJ, "this technology is here to stay, we have all kinds of people who want to copy it and go after it. We are not re-evaluating anything…The only question here is what the rate of sales will be."
Distribution
One of the biggest, yet least publicized problems for the Volt has been distribution. Beginning with it's introduction in late 2010 the Volt was only available in California, Connecticut, D.C., New Jersey, New York, and Texas. Michigan began seeing the car in spring 2011, with Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington added in the third quarter. If you do the math, that's just 17 of 50 states where the car has been for sale.When the Nissan Leaf hit the market it to had a limited distribution, but the company plans to roll out their car nationwide next month. Currently, the Ford Focus EV will only be available in California, New York and New Jersey. The fact is if you want to sell these cars you have to make them widely available and in the case of the Leaf, Volt and now the Focus, distribution has been slow in coming. Still with less than stellar gas mileage, wide spread battery issues, few charging stations, and premium price tags, the industry is set to launch nearly a dozen more electric models by 2013.

Tax Credits
Don't forget that the government will give any Volt buyer a $7,500 tax credit, and GM announced that Volts built later in the year will have emissions low enough to qualify for California’s HOV lanes, which will qualify the car for an additional $1,500 tax credit.
Not Dead Yet

(c) Dane Hammond 2012 All Rights reserved.
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The Beauty of Hot Rods, Customs,
and Classic Cars.
Bob Lange
They consume a huge chunk of automotive landscape. Think about it, from the guy who can drop a pile of dough on a Boyd Coddington roadster to park next to his four or 40 other cars, to the kid with a 60’s Chevy pickup and a salvage yard small block with a chrome air cleaner he saved up for.
Each fills a space in a life, a goal reached, or one to reach for. Each gets the owner or the dreamer a place to rest from the rat race around us, even if for just a while. A place where a dream and reality touch. Parts catalogues and or a Event schedule make the contact point portable.
A website like eBay, can carry you to markets around the country and beyond. The beggars market of hot rods classics and customs Craigslist now has an add on site called Search Tempest that will let you search multiple cities at a time. Of course you should know it’s a minefield of con men, hustlers and thieves, unless it’s a car you cant live without, then you’re sure its really an estate sale of gramps old mercury. Read the warnings on the category page, they’re there for a reason.
The best way to find your dream car is to literally find it or build it in person. A friend who knows where one of those cars is, to the glint of a fender behind a barn a chance spotting in a parking lot.
It’s the personalized connect that happens, and the struggle to escape the real world and get away… in the perfect ride, that’s the stuff in every car enthusiast. It’s a celebration of life and freedom at the best of times, and a string of hope to cling to for the future in the worst.
Whether it’s a Hi-Tech 1700 watt sound system LED lit Caddy with 24” rims, or a 32 Coupe with a flathead, here’s to each of us finding
our KarKix.
-Bob Lange
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THE BUCKET LIST
by Mark Roman

The Bucket List has always existed long before a movie came along and made it a focal point of every middle aged male. The great thing is that each person's list is a little different than the next. Some will climb Mount Everest. Others will find solace in just talking about it and profess that as long as it's on the list that's all that matters. And while I've never had a desire to shout anything profane from the mountain tops, I'm perfectly happy to talk about my personal quest to see some of the most notable automotive museums this country has to offer. -But my quest didn't initially turn out that way. It was essentially a trip to see an old radio friend that I had not seen in over 20 years. I had a window of only 2-3 days to catch up with a lifelong bud and rehash old stories that by the end of our visit would soon become of mythic proportions. Phrases like, I can't believe you really did that, and remember the night we almost went to jail, bounced off the walls of a local establishment like a baseball breaking through stained glass on a Sunday morning. Some of the regulars appeared to be in shock while others held an internal response of been there, done that. ---But as all good things come to an end, it was time to say goodbye to my partner in crime and move on to the other half of this testosterone driven trip. An afternoon at the incredible Blackhawk Museum in Danville, Ca., as any KarKix aficionado would agree, it's just not a trip unless it involves something automotive. The Blackhawk easily filled that void. Located an hour south of San Francisco, the facility encompasses nearly 70,000 square feet including four exhibition galleries, an Automotive Library and Museum Store, Special Events Area, Board Room and state-of-the-art catering kitchen. To call this a palace would be a true understatement. Walk through the doors to the Blackhawk Museum and you're expecting a butler named Giles to greet you with a bottle of your favorite vintage of chilled bubbly. From the architectural design of the building to the brilliance of black marble floors, if ever there was a mansion devoted to preserving and presenting the classics, this is it. Founded in 1988, it's "Jewel box" setting has become known around the world for automotive excellence. There is definitely an advantage to having close proximity to Monterey. You'll find a number of award winning vehicles from the Concours de Elegance on display during various exhibitions. You'll also discover extremely rare pieces of rolling art on loan from various collections. Some of the gems include the 1953, 1954 and 1955 Alfa Romeo B.A.T.S. (Berlinetta Aerodynamica Technica). An exercise in design and created by Franco Scaglione and Nuccio Bertone to "cheat the wind", this trio played and continues to play an extremely significant role in Italian automotive concept design Not to be denied, the Dodge Firearrows, prototype I, II and IV also hold proud spaces at the Blackhawk. Introduced at the Turin Auto Show beginning in 1953, this joint venture with Dodge and Carrozzeria Ghia shows what great things can happen when an American engine and chassis meets bold Italian design. These vehicles were the precursor to Gene Casaroll's legendary Dual/Ghia, which was the preferred vehicle of choice for the Rat Pack. -The sheer beauty of the Blackhawk Museum is not solely of the car but also in the presentation. While many museums simply place one car beside another to where the extraordinary takes on a commonplace feel, at the Blackhawk, no vehicle loses its personality or level of importance in the mix. If anything, this facility enhances the beauty of a Picasso, make that, Pegaso. A 1955 Tipo Z-102B Saoutchik Coupe. At any given time, there are approximately 90 vehicles on display, which seems to be the right number to properly display a variety of automotive timepieces. There is a balance throughout that embraces the importance of a 1963 Ford Thunderbird concept car that made its debut at the 1964 World's Fair Show just as much as a collection of some of the most important Ferrari's in the world. It's not every day that you see a 1956 625 Le Mans Spyder by Touring and it's never treated as such. -The true validation for this automotive spectacle comes from the knowledge that it is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute, the pinnacle of museums. Don't be intimidated if you see things you've never seen before. All vehicles are accompanied by easy to ready in-depth descriptions of what it is, it's purpose and importance. The Blackhawk also offers a world of assistance in learning more about these treasured beauties on display through available scheduled tours with one of their certified docents. There's also a lecture series and other scheduled events that help to enhance the Blackhawk Experience.
I'd also like to give props to Dan Dunn, the Director of Operations for the Blackhawk who was more than accommodating in allowing me to strap a mic on and do a walking interview through the museum which is available for listening at KarKix.com He has a passion for this museum that's only matched for his passion for baseball. This goes to show that there really is more to life than just automotive. But Dan, how else are you going to get to the ballpark? -
For more information visit Blackhawkmuseum.com.
KarKix tested and approved.
===================
THE BUCKET LIST
PART TWO!
by Mark Roman
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THE NATIONAL AUTOMOBILE MUSEUM,
THE HARRAH COLLECTION RENO, NV.
When does a road trip graduate to a Bucket list? It happens when you've just toured the Blackhawk Museum and are savoring the experience when someone looks at you and says, "You really need to go to Reno". Those seven words can conjure up a world of ideas. Both good and better. Now before my lucid mind goes any further, let me finish that sentence as it was intended . "To visit the National Automobile Museum."
Really? You're kidding me. But he wasn't. Dan Dunn was completely serious. He could have easily told me that his museum was the only one I ever needed to visit. He could have saved me a three hour trip that was completely out of the way, but that wasn't the case. Museums never speak badly of other museums. There's no jealousy whatsoever. Damn you, Blackhawk Museum.
So here I go....Leaving the surroundings of Silicon Valley for the Biggest Little City in The World. But heading to Reno to visit a museum is the equivalency of going to In-N-Out Burger for the coffee. Nobody would ever believe it, let alone the wife.

If you haven't been to Reno recently, don't feel bad. With the advent of Indian gaming, you're not the only one. During its heyday, Harrah's would have as many 13 craps tables. Today, only two. It had been at least 12 years since I had any reason to pass through Northern Nevada with the last time being a summertime run from Park City, UT over to see the tall timbers of Yosemite followed by a scenic trip down Highway 1.
Locals are quick to point out that Reno has not been immune to the downturn of the economy as bright lights and jackpots have given way to short sales and foreclosures. Which, if you're a gambling person, puts the house odds in your favor. Finding a condo for as little as $20,000 can actually be a very nice payday. That's enough backline for now. Let's not forget the true purpose for this road trip. To visit one of the most noted collections of automobiles this side of Detroit.
The National Automobile Museum, aka The Harrah Collection, comes with a laundry list of accolades. Since opening in 1989 it has been named one of the Top Ten Museums by Car Collector Magazine. Autoweek has added it to its list of the 16 Best Car Museums in the World. But maybe Founder Bill Harrah put it best when he said, "We are all tied to the automobile by history, by business, by emotion." Step inside this museum and you'll soon realize that he knew what he was talking about.
Helping to turn Reno into one of the first gambling hubs in the country has its rewards. It allows one to self-indulge in lots of toys. And gaming pioneer Harrah did just that by amassing one of the most distinctive collections of rolling iron to this day. The museums' sole mission is to collect and preserve the automobile for future generations while telling the story of the impact of the automobile on American society, and to perpetuate the legacy of Mr. Harrah as a renowned collector. People of vision always see the Big Picture.
While every museum has it's one "Prize Piece", Harrah didn't stop there. The museum owns a unique collection of classic and historic cars, celebrity auto, race cars, motorcycles and amazing-one- of a kind wonders. And it's all sorted by time periods. Gallery 1: 1890s-1910s, Gallery 2: Teens-1930s, Gallery 3: 1930s-1950s, and Gallery 4: 1950s, Race Cars and Beyond including Masterpiece Exhibits.
The first piece you'll see when you enter the facility speaks louder than words. Ed "Big Daddy" Roth's 1961 Beatnik Bandit in all its glory. The first to put illustrations on T-shirts in the early 50s, he changed the world with an air-pencil, a cake decorating tool and an early version of the airbrush. The rest is history.
With over 200 vehicles in this collection, don't expect to breeze through this museum as you'll see more curves here than you ever will at the neighboring Mustang Ranch near Sparks, NV. ( I had to get that in) There is a very good mixture of cars that spotlight each decade. You'll find something that every generation in your party will appreciate along with a number of vehicles you never knew even exist. I can now say that I've seen a 1911 Pope-Hartford, 1937 Hispano-Suiza, 1959 Scimitar, or a 1977 Jerrari-Bill Harrah's personal Jeep Cherokee with a Ferrari engine stuffed inside, Can you?
--
A personal favorite is the 1938 Phantom Corsair 6 Passenger Experimental with strong ties to the H.J Heinz family. Designed by Rust Heinz, a member of the "Heinz 57" name, this joint venture with Maurice Schwartz of the custom body firm Bohman and Schwartz defied the typical styles of the day. With a sticker of $12,500, production was short lived when Heinz passed away shortly after develop only one vehicle. One can't help but wonder whether a ketchup bottle was inspiration for this timeless beauty. The car still remains as relevant today as it won Best in Class: Modernism on the Move, Coach built Fantasies of the Streamlined Age
at the 2006 Goodwood Speed Festival in England.
--
Other notables include a 1954 Lincoln Capri that went on to win the Panamerican Road Race. But it didn't stop there as it also snagged the E.T. Bob Gregorie Award for Enduring Design at the 2006 Amelia Island Concours de Elegance.
And what would an automotive collection in Reno be without including one or two coveted beauties from the Rat Pack? Behold, a 1961 Ghia L 6.4 Hardtop, one of only 26 built, followed by Sammy Davis Jrs. 1935 Duesenberg Replica. You can almost see them driving up and handing the keys to a valet as they go in to do a show at the Cal-Neva. The epitome of cool.
The National Automobile Museum also has a number of ways to take your experience to the next level. Their Adopt A Car program lets you get up close and personal with any of these beauties which includes hands on work. As long as these vehicles need to be maintained, why not be a part of it.
--
Plus, there is a special incentive, as donations made by 12/31/2011 will become part of the Museum’s Annual Giving Campaign and will double in value as a donor has committed to match donations totaling up to $50,000. For more information contact Jackie Frady, Executive Director.
--
If you're planning your vacation, add Reno and the N.A.M. to your Bucket List.
Even better, if you can expand the trip to be in town during Hot August Nights 2012, August 7-12, you'll be witness to one of the largest retro car shows in the country. Already, I have a reason to return.
--
See, there really are other reasons to visit Reno. But hitting a $1,450 Jackpot while you're there never hurts. And if somebody asks, Mustang Ranch is just a really good salad dressing.
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That concludes Leg 2 of the Bucket List. For more information on planning your trip visit automuseum.org and hotaugustnights.net
Karkix tested and approved.
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NEXT: BUCKET LIST PART 3
THE NETHERCUTT COLLECTION AND MUSEUM, SYLMAR, CA.
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Electrifying The American Automobile
By Dane Hammond - Contributing Automotive Bloggist
The Chevrolet Volt, just the name alone stirs up controversy. For years it was the darling project of industry giant Bob Lutz, in fact it was Bob who willed the car onto the showroom floor. As his last project before retiring, Bob talked up the Volt to anyone who would listen. The auto industry was all ears and heaped on accolades. In 2011 the Volt was named Motor Trend's Car of the Year, as well as the World Green Car of the Year, and has just been named the 2012 European Car of the Year along with versions from Opel and Vauxhall called the Ampera.
Originally GM planned to sell 60,000 Volts and Amperas worldwide in 2012, but an unfortunate string of bad publicity based around a well-publicized battery fire during crash testing, and a lower than expected electric range rating from the EPA has severely hampered sales. The company sold 7,671 Volts last year, but only 1,626 cars were sold in the first two months of this year, which has caused General Motors to shut down production of the car from March 19th to April 23rd in order to bring supply closer to it's current level of demand.
As to the fire hazard question with Volt's battery system, the NHTSA did and exhaustive investigation into the matter and "has concluded that no discernible defect trend exists and that the vehicle modifications recently developed by General Motors reduce the potential for battery intrusion resulting from side impacts."
GM responded swiftly by instituting a voluntary "customer satisfaction program" that asked 8,000 Volt owners to bring their plug-in hybrid back to the dealership for modifications. Of course this didn't stop a political battle in Congress as a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by California Republican Darrell Issa, grilled GM's Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson regarding the Volt.
Many in the industry and press feel that the knock on the Volt has been far too sever.
In fact GM is set to launch a new national ad campaign this month to coincide with a drop in their monthly lease price in hopes of reviving interest in the car. According to the Wall Street Journal the automaker plans to offer a 39 month lease for the Volt at $350 per month, a drop of $50 from their original lease pricing.
GM North America President Mark Ruess told the WSJ, "this technology is here to stay, we have all kinds of people who want to copy it and go after it. We are not re-evaluating anything…The only question here is what the rate of sales will be."
Distribution
One of the biggest, yet least publicized problems for the Volt has been distribution. Beginning with it's introduction in late 2010 the Volt was only available in California, Connecticut, D.C., New Jersey, New York, and Texas. Michigan began seeing the car in spring 2011, with Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington added in the third quarter. If you do the math, that's just 17 of 50 states where the car has been for sale.
When the Nissan Leaf hit the market it to had a limited distribution, but the company plans to roll out their car nationwide next month. Currently, the Ford Focus EV will only be available in California, New York and New Jersey. The fact is if you want to sell these cars you have to make them widely available and in the case of the Leaf, Volt and now the Focus, distribution has been slow in coming. Still with less than stellar gas mileage, wide spread battery issues, few charging stations, and premium price tags, the industry is set to launch nearly a dozen more electric models by 2013.
Tax Credits
Don't forget that the government will give any Volt buyer a $7,500 tax credit, and GM announced that Volts built later in the year will have emissions low enough to qualify for California’s HOV lanes, which will qualify the car for an additional $1,500 tax credit.
Not Dead Yet
It's clear to savvy media people and buyers alike, that poor initial sales don't spell doom to a revolutionary vehicle. At the Rocky Mountain Institute, Randy Essex and Ben Holland pointed out that when gas-electric hybrids first became available in 2000, the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius had sales of just 9,350 cars combined. At the time those sales numbers looked pretty weak, but as the technology caught on more than 2 million hybrids have been sold in the United States alone. Toyota has brought out their Prius V and C models along with their Prius Plug-In that will widen the car's audience and increase prospective buyer's interest.
If indeed, the past is prologue, then it would be foolish to write off the Volt after less than two years of sales figures to go by. GM must be onto something valuable because so many lesser automakers are following hotly in their rather large footsteps.
(c) Dane Hammond 2012 All Rights reserved.
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It's clear to savy media people and buyers alike, that poor initial sales don't spell doom to a revolutionary vehicle. At the Rocky Mountain Institute, Randy Essex and Ben Holland pointed out that when gas-electric hybrids first became available in 2000, the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius had sales of just 9,350 cars combined. At the time those sales numbers looked pretty weak, but as the technology caught on more than 2 million hybrids have been sold in the United States alone. Toyota has brought out their Prius V and C models along with their Prius Plug-In that will widen the car's audience and increase prospective buyer's interest. If indeed, the past is prologue, then it would be foolish to write off the Volt after less than two years of sales figures to go by. GM must be onto something valuable because so many lesser automakers are following hotly in their rather large footsteps.
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