Sunday, March 9, 2014
Hi folks -- undoubtedly you have been reading about the long history of GM ignition switch failures, and the NTSHA failure in its own right to react and properly respond to this deadly episode in automobile history. Actually, we had a personal experience with a switch problem years ago, and so I wonder how long this issue has really existed and what GM knew about ignition switch malfunctions long before 2004.
During the 1980s we owned a 1979 Chevrolet Malibu that was inherited from my father. Overall, this was a bad car, and because of our experience, I would never buy a GM vehicle ever again. But, back to the topic at hand. My wife Kaye was a working mom, and had lots of keys on her key chain. One day she had a work trip planned, and needed to drive to the Cincinnati airport. I said "take the Mailbu," as the other option was a 1973 Pinto. OK, so she did, and as she was leaving Dayton she called me in a panic. "The car won't shut down!" The key in the ignition switch won't move! So I catch up with her and tried everything to shut the car down. Finally we ended up at White-Allen Chevrolet on North Main, where a mechanic choked the car with a rag in the air intake, and the car's engine stopped.
I realize this is the reverse of current problem, one in which the car stopped suddenly and without warning. But the focus of the malfunction is the same, too many keys and a switch that sticks. GM knew about the too many key problem back then, and should have known about it more recently. And to suggest just taking off all your other keys is a cop out in our caffinated society. A redesign was needed years ago.
GM's greatest mistake -- not protecting the brand! That has been their undoing before the corporation was renewed by a government bailout.
Posted by John Heitmann at 5:22 AM
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Almost 70 years after they were created, one of Figoni & Falaschi's voluptuous teardrop coupes will stop any viewer in their tracks. The dramatic teardrop shape is echoed in both the windows and the fenders and is considered Joseph Figoni's masterwork. It is an iconic design of the streamlined movement. Approximately 16 of these beautiful automobiles were ever built.
This vehicle is a 1938 Talbot-Lago 'Special' 150 SS Goutte d'Eau with coachwork by Figoni & Falaschi. The Talbot-Lago's were elegant and sporty. They could be driven to a concours d'elegance, leave with top honors. Competition did not end there for this machines, they had a successful racing career that included a podium finish at the LeMans 24 Hour Race.
It is believed that only eleven were constructed in this body style, plus five notchback 'Jeancart' Gouttes d'Eau. The word Gouttes d'Eau translates to 'Teardop'. The design was championed by the Paris Coachbuilding Firm, Figoni & Falaschi. The design gave the illusion of motion even at a stand-still. Since these were hand built cars, each vehicle has different and unique characteristics.
Purchased by Mrs. Robin Byng who saw it on display at the 1938 Paris Salon, her husband was the son of the Earl of Strafford. Together, they enjoyed this car in France prior to World War II. The car was commandeered by the Nazis during the war and its tires were stolen. The interior did not fair so well either, as it was ripped and torn. The Byngs were later able to recover the car once peace time arrived.
The car was later imported into England where it was given a proper restoration. Upon completion, it was offered for sale at a very expensive price. The price was later lowered slightly, and it was purchased by Rob Walker. Walker, a racing car driver, had been seeking acquisition of the car for a while, before it came into his possession. Upon receiving the car, he fitted it with several modifications such as a Lockheed conversion for the brakes. The Wilson gearbox was switched with a Cotal which required no use of the clutch except for the initial starting off. The 6.00x17 tires were replaced with 5.25x17-inch.
This car was used at the 1949 LeMans 24-Hour race by Walker as his test car.
Posted by John Heitmann at 4:26 PM
Monday, March 3, 2014
Sunday, March 2, 2014
Whenever I fly in to San Diego the first thing I do after getting a rental car is a stop for a double-double at In-N-Out. Founded in 1948 in the LA suburb of Baldwin Park, the first store was demolished as a result of freeway expansion in 1954.
My point is simple -- there were plenty of fast food businesses before McDonald's and Carl's. Just not the same drive for economies of scale and throughput. Our caffinated society worships scale and scope. Quality sacrificed as a result of excessive speed? Flavor chemistry rather than natural flavors? Fat tastes good!
Posted by John Heitmann at 1:36 PM
|Two ladies for the road, late 1940s|
Posted by John Heitmann at 6:37 AM