Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Great Investment -- Mercedes Benz 190 SL and 300 SL!

Beleaguered: The production version of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, its motor sport brethren and the 190 SL at the 1955 International Motor Show in Frankfurt/Main.
The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL (W 198 I, front) and the 190 SL (W 121) dominate the stand of importer Maximilian Hoffman at the International Motor Sports Show in New York, which opened on 6 February 1954.

  • Pioneers of the Mercedes-Benz SL tradition make excellent investments
  • MBCI ranks 300 SL and 190 SL as especially valuable classics
60 years ago, in February 1954, Stuttgart-based Mercedes-Benz caused a sensation when it debuted two new cars at the International Motor Sports Show in New York: enter the 300 SL (W 198) and a near-production prototype of the 190 SL (W 121). Experts and the public were equally enthralled by the Gullwing Coupé, an evolution of the 300 SL race car (W 194), and the Roadster, built on technology supplied by model 180 (W 120). Today, the fascination with the first two production vehicles in the exquisite SL sports car lineage is more alive than ever. No wonder then that both SL models are especially valuable classics.
The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Coupé, the 190 SL Roadster, and the 1957 successor to the Gullwing Coupé, the 300 SL Roadster (W 198), count among the most valuable historic vehicles in the world. This is underlined by the presence of all three at the top of the Mercedes-Benz Classic Index (MBCI) published by Historic Automobile Group International (HAGI). Originality and authenticity are particularly important here.
Some of the key indicators of how the value of the sports cars has evolved are similar, but the assessment by HAGI specialists indicates that there are significant differences too. This is primarily due to the number of vehicles produced, but other factors include the absolute value of the cars, their level of technical refinement and their historical significance, including the racing history of these models. According to HAGI, the average increase in value of the 190 SL is around 10 per cent per year since 1980; however in the last 10 years it was even higher at over 11 per cent. For the 300 SL Coupé, the average since 1980 is 11 per cent, but for the last 10 years the figure is almost 18 per cent, which corresponds to a quadrupling of the value since 2004. In the case of the 300 SL Roadster, the rise in value since 1980 is almost 13 per cent. For the 29 Gullwings that were built with aluminium bodywork, cars which are seen extremely rarely in the market, an average increase in value of more than 16 per cent can be demonstrated. A vehicle’s performance is predicated on it being maintained in first-rate condition or having been superbly restored, both of which are associated with substantial costs.
The main difference between the 190 SL and its larger cousins is its absolute price, which is not yet much different to that of a complete restoration. A perfect example is valued by the MBCI at just under the 200,000 euro mark. It’s a different story with the 300 SL: cars that are complete, but in poor overall condition, still trade for sums as high as 500,000 euros. With one of the rare aluminium-bodied coupés, the price is always in the order of several million euros, regardless of condition. In the MBCI, the 190 SL ranks directly behind classics such as the 300 SL Coupé and Roadster, the S-Series of the 1920s and the legendary 500 K and 540 K. It is also worth noting that prices for the 230/250/280 SL “Pagoda” model series W 113 are increasing massively.
Investment in valuable historic cars is primarily associated with the very top segment of the market for classic automobiles and the historic vehicle scene as a whole, which in Germany alone is worth 14 billion euros each year. Cars that are both very high-value and maintain stable prices make particularly attractive long-term investments because the increase in and retention of value adequately offsets the spending needed for restoration and ongoing upkeep. A study published by specialist German magazine “Motor Klassik” in 2013 also emphasises this relationship.
Taking all this into consideration, it is clear that investing in an alluring classic from Mercedes-Benz offers more than just the enjoyment of a piece of technological history, with its aesthetic and sporty dimensions. Indeed, it may also achieve a better return than other forms of investment, with owners of high-value classic cars seeing their vehicles perform more profitably than many financial products.
With its innovative space frame, the 300 SL was an exclusive top-end sports car at the time of its production (1,400 units built from 1954 to 1957). Selling at the time for 29,000–32,500 German marks, it was firmly positioned at the very top end of the market. From 1957 onwards it was superseded by the 300 SL Roadster, which also sold for 32,500 German marks. A total of 1,858 Roadsters were produced up to 1963. The 190 SL came onto the market in 1955 and 25,881 of the vehicles were produced up to 1963. It cost between 16,500 (with removable hardtop) and 17,650 German marks.

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL (W 198, 1952 - 1957), Advertisement for original spare parts, 2010

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Mercedes-Benz at Retromobile!

Mercedes 115 hp Grand Prix race car, 1914

And the Society of Automotive Historians has its European Awards Banquet on the eve of Retromobile!

Christian Lautenschlager and co-driver Hans Rieger in the 115 hp Mercedes Grand Prix racing car, winners of the French Grand Prix near Lyon on July 4, 1914.

The international specialist exhibition in Paris from 5 to 9 February 2014 is the launch event for “120 years of motor sport”
Historic victories by Mercedes-Benz punctuate the history of motor racing in France
Precious exhibits: five original racing cars from Mercedes-Benz and one Daimler engine
Over the course of 2014, Mercedes-Benz Classic will be celebrating “120 years of motor sport”. Activities will begin at the brand’s stand at the Rétromobile specialist exhibition in Paris (5 to 9 February 2014), designed and implemented in close collaboration with Mercedes-Benz France. The focus here will be on the historic motor sport successes achieved by Mercedes-Benz in France. “Many of the most exciting motor racing stories associated with the three-pointed star and its predecessor brands took place on French soil,” according to Michael Bock, Head of Mercedes-Benz Classic. “Among the highlights, without doubt, are the very first automotive race ever to take place, the Grand Prix victories of 1908, 1914 and 1954, wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and a whole series of more recent successes.”
Mercedes-Benz Classic will reference the topic of “120 years of motor sport” at various points throughout the year, making it the key theme of its participation in a selected programme of events in the international classic vehicle calendar. The company will also initiate events of its own to mark a few extra-special highlights.
Since its invention in 1886, the automobile’s performance potential and reliability have been put to the test time and time again: right from the very early days, Daimler and Benz vehicles were taking part in all notable events in Europe as well as in other countries around the world. They won races and repeatedly set new speed records in record-breaking runs. Motor sport was born some 120 years ago in France – and the success of the winning vehicles was all down to their two-cylinder “Système Daimler” engines. These first moments of glory were followed by numerous other motor racing events that were to prove significant in the success story of the Mercedes-Benz brand. A look back over the company’s involvement in motor sport makes clear the extent to which this became the driving force behind the rapid developments made in motor vehicle technology.
The Mercedes-Benz Classic stand at Rétromobile 2014 (Hall 1, K64) will focus on the brand’s motor racing successes in France, with a display of historically important exhibits commemorating 120 years of motor sport history:
Daimler two-cylinder V-engine, 1894. The “Moteur système Daimler” built under licence in France, propelled cars from Peugeot and Panhard & Levassor to victory in the Paris–Rouen and Paris–Bordeaux–Paris motor races.
Mercedes Grand Prix racing car, 1914. In the French Grand Prix in Lyon, the Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (Daimler Motor Company) achieved the first one-two-three victory in the history of motor sport with vehicles of this model.
Mercedes-Benz W 196 R “Streamliner”, 1954. The Silver Arrows marked their comeback after the Second World War in dramatic style: with a double victory in the French Grand Prix in Reims.
Sauber-Mercedes C 9, 1989. This Silver Arrow won the prestigious 24-Hour race of Le Mans.
McLaren Mercedes MP4-15, 2000. The vehicle in which David Coulthard won the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours.
Mercedes-Benz DTM C-Class, 2009. Gary Paffett’s winning vehicle in the DTM race at Dijon-Premois.
Rétromobile 2014: the Mercedes-Benz Classic exhibits
Daimler two-cylinder V-engine, 1894
The automobile powered by a combustion engine was just eight years old on 22 July 1894 when it took part in the first public race, a 126-kilometre reliability run for “horseless carriages”, between the French cities of Paris and Rouen. The selection process ahead of the race was tough: of 102 vehicles that applied for a place in the starting line-up, only 21 were admitted. Of these, 17 would go on to reach the finishing line, 9 of them powered by a Daimler engine built under licence, including the winning vehicles. The 2.6 kW (3.5 hp) engines, built according to original designs by Gottlieb Daimler, gave the cars an average speed of up to 20.5 km/h. First place in this first-ever motor sport event was shared by a vehicle built by Panhard-Levassor and one by the Peugeot brothers, both of them powered by a “Moteur système Daimler”. The day was a great cause for celebration for Gottlieb Daimler, for incontrovertible proof had been provided to the general public, and to the world of European motor racing, that his universally applicable, high-speed petrol engine was the one to have prevailed in the highly competitive field of automotive propulsion systems.
Mercedes Grand Prix racing car, 1914
On 4 July 1914, Mercedes celebrated a triumphant one-two-three victory in the French Grand Prix by Christian Lautenschlager, Louis Wagner, and Otto Salzer. The race was held over a 37.6-kilometre circuit south of Lyon. The vehicle entered by the Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft was its newly developed Grand Prix racing car. Some 20 laps over the tricky course, or a good 750 kilometres, were the order of the day, and Mercedes was up against apparently almost unassailable competition – above all from Peugeot and Delage from France, Sunbeam from England, and Fiat from Italy. Theodor Pilette and Max Sailer were forced to retire with technical problems, but Christian Lautenschlager, Louis Wagner, and Otto Salzer took the remaining cars on to finish the race at the front of the field after more than seven hours: the first one-two-three victory in the history of motor sport had been achieved.
The regulations limited engine displacement to 4.5 litres. The Mercedes Grand Prix racing car featured a completely redesigned four-cylinder engine with an overhead camshaft and two intake and two exhaust valves per cylinder – making this the first Mercedes engine to make use of four-valve technology. The racing engine delivered a peak output of 78 kW (106 hp) at a – quite literally – revolutionary 3,100 rpm.
Mercedes-Benz W 196 R “Streamliner”, 1954
The W 196 R racing car, which appeared initially with a futuristic-looking streamlined body, featured a naturally aspirated engine with a displacement of 2497 cc and desmodromic (positively closing) valve control. At the beginning of the season, it delivered a peak output of 188 kW (256 hp), with a top speed at this initial stage of around 275 km/h. The new “Streamliner” lined up for its first start at the French Grand Prix in Reims. Even in training the W 196 R vehicles with their fully enclosed bodywork achieved the fastest times; in their racing debut on 4 July in Reims they surpassed all the expectations of both the public and their competitors. Indeed, newly appointed Argentinian driver Juan Manuel Fangio, the World Champion of 1951, and Karl Kling delivered a triumphant double victory. This sensational success is also historically significant in that it is now exactly 40 years since Lautenschlager/Wagner/Salzer drove to triple victory in Lyon.
Sauber-Mercedes C9, 1989
The late 1980s and 1990s marked the return of Mercedes-Benz to the race track: the first vehicles to sport the three-pointed star were Group C racing sports cars. The 530 kW (720 hp) Sauber-Mercedes used since 1987 also underwent some visual modifications for the 1989 season: the hitherto virtually all-black livery gave way to a silver paint finish, identifying the cars unmistakeably as Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows. Between 1989 and 1990, the new racing cars brought home 16 victories from a total of 18 races. These included the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which took place on 10 and 11 June 1989, in which the Mercedes-Benz drivers Jochen Mass/Manuel Reuter/Stanley Dickens and Mauro Baldi/Kenny Acheson/Gianfranco Brancatelli secured a double victory with Silver Arrows in their C9 guise – 37 years after that outstanding win with the first Silver Arrow of the post-war period: the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL racing sports car (W 194).
McLaren-Mercedes MP4-15, 2000
In the 2000 race season, Mika Häkkinen and David Coulthard became runners-up in the constructors’ championship in the McLaren-Mercedes MP4-15, while Häkkinen took second place in the drivers’ championship behind Michael Schumacher in a Ferrari, and Coulthard third. The McLaren-Mercedes MP4-15 differed visually as well as technically from its predecessors: it had a flatter nose section, additional head protection to either side of the cockpit and an engine that was shorter by 2 centimetres, the three-litre FO 110J V10-engine with an output of 600 kW (816 hp). The powertrain, a completely new design, took into account the findings of development work undertaken over the course of the previous season. Compared with the previous version the new engine was more compact and lighter in weight, yet at the same time offered better driveability and improved performance. Also new was the seven-speed transmission, developed in-house by McLaren. The Silver Arrows were victorious in 2000 in Spain, Austria, Hungary, and Belgium (Häkkinen), and also in Great Britain, Monaco, and France (Coulthard). The vehicle on display at Rétromobile is the one in which David Coulthard won the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours on 2 July 2000. He considers the race he won there to have been one of the best of his career.
DTM AMG-Mercedes C-Class (model series 204), 2009
The new C-Class of the model series 204 was a new arrival on the circuits for the DTM races of 2007. The Hans Werner Aufrecht (HWA) racing car construction team began building the first DTM vehicle of the new model series in December 2006 in Affalterbach. As there was a ban on further development of the engines, the only work permitted and possible was their ongoing optimisation. Since 2000, the DTM regulations have stipulated a 4.0-litre V8-engine with four valves per cylinder, in which the intake of air is limited by two air restrictors with a diameter of 28 millimetres. Power is transmitted to the axle drive with a differential lock via a uniform transaxle transmission with sequential gearshift. The biggest differences between this and the previous racing car lay in the modifications to the body and the design of the wheel suspension. On 11 October 2009, driving the vehicle displayed, Gary Paffett, who would subsequently become season runner-up, won the penultimate round of the DTM at Dijon-Premois.
Rétromobile 2014: the brand ambassadors
David Coulthard
Born on 27 March 1971 in Twynholm, Scotland
David Coulthard began his go-carting career at the young age of 11. He was junior go-carting champion in Scotland from 1983 to 1985. After racing in various Formula categories, in 1994 he joined the Williams Formula 1 team. In 1995 David Coulthard came 3rd in the Formula 1 World Championship. At the beginning of the 1996 season the Scot moved to McLaren Mercedes, teaming up with Mika Häkkinen (Finland). At the Australian Grand Prix in 1997, Coulthard secured Mercedes-Benz its first Formula 1 win since 1955. In 2001, Coulthard came 2nd to Michael Schumacher in the World Championship. From 2005 to 2008 he raced for Red Bull Racing; in 2008, Coulthard ended his Formula 1 career. In all, David Coulthard competed in 246 Grand Prix races between 1994 and 2008, including 150 for McLaren Mercedes. He notched up 13 wins, 12 of which were for McLaren Mercedes. From 2010 to 2012, David Coulthard raced for the Mücke Motorsport team in the DTM at the wheel of an AMG-Mercedes C-Class. He ended his active racing career in October 2012. The Scot has now taken up an involvement in historic racing as a brand ambassador for Mercedes-Benz Classic. His start in the 2013 Eifel race at the wheel of the 220 SE (W 111) “Fintail” racing car belonging to Mercedes-Benz Classic marked the first time ever that a Formula 1 championship runner-up had started in the Dunlop FHR Endurance Cup.
Hans Herrmann
Born on 23 February 1928 in Stuttgart, Germany
Following his motorsport debut, 25-year-old Hans Herrmann was engaged by Mercedes-Benz racing manager Alfred Neubauer for the 1954 season with the Daimler-Benz AG works team. In the Swiss Grand Prix on 22 August 1954, Herrmann took 3rd place. The Avus race on 19 September 1954 ended in a one-two-three victory for the Mercedes-Benz drivers in their W 196 R “Streamliner” vehicles, in the finish order Karl Kling, Juan Manuel Fangio, Hans Herrmann.
In the 1955 racing season, Herrmann competed in 8 sports car races and 10 Formula 1 races. At the Monaco Grand Prix he stood in for Kling and was badly injured in an accident. Despite making a full recovery Herrmann never raced for Mercedes-Benz again, due to the company’s withdrawal from motor sport in October 1955, which put an end to his active involvement with Mercedes-Benz.
In the years that followed, he would go on to compete once again in motor sport and sports car racing. After driving in Formula 2 and Formula 1, he ended his racing career in 1970, steering a Porsche to victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Even to this day, Herrmann is regularly to be found taking the wheel for Mercedes-Benz at classic events.
Jochen Mass
Born on 30 September 1946 in Dorfen near Starnberg, Germany
Jochen Mass, originally a seaman by profession, began his varied career in motor sport in 1968, racing touring cars for Alfa-Romeo and as a works driver at Ford between 1970 and 1975. During this period he won the Spa-Francorchamps 24-Hour race (1972). At the same time, he also took part in Formula 2 (1973) and in 105 Formula 1 Grand Prix races (1973/74 with Surtees; 1975 to 1977 with McLaren; 1978 with ATS; 1979/80 with Arrows; 1982 with March). After winning the German Racing Car Championship in 1985 and a stint until 1987 as a works driver at Porsche, he joined the Sauber-Mercedes team as a works driver. He drove for this team in Group C until 1991. In the new Silver Arrow – the Sauber-Mercedes C9 – Jochen Mass won the 24 Hours of Le Mans together with Manuel Reuter and Stanley Dickens and came second in the 1989 World Championship. Three years later Mass moved into team management in the DTM. Sir Stirling Moss described him as “a driver with a great feeling for racing cars and a high level of expert knowledge, who is familiar with all eras of racing history”. It is therefore hardly surprising that Jochen Mass should still be found lining up for Mercedes-Benz Classic at classic racing events. Whether it is the W 125 “Silver Arrow” or the legendary SSK supercharged racing car – Jochen Mass knows and drives them all.
Gary Paffett
Born on 24 March 1981 in Bromley, England
The foundations of Gary Paffett’s career were laid in the world of karting. With several championship wins and the title “McLaren Mercedes Kart Champion of the Future” of 1996 under his belt, he went on to win the Formula Vauxhall Junior Winter Series in 1997 and 1998, and received the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award in 1999. Advancing to Formula 3, the Briton dominated the BRDC Formula 3 Scholarship Class of 2000 and became the youngest driver ever to receive the BRDC Silver Award – the promotion of young talent by the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) in various racing series and through a range of programmes thus found its full justification in him and in the various career steps he has taken. In 2001, he moved to the German Formula 3, coming 6th in the overall classification at the end of the season in his debut year – a success capped by his becoming German Formula 3 Champion in the following season, 2002. His first drive in the DTM was in 2003. In 2004, he became runner-up in the DTM championship, driving an AMG-Mercedes C-Class. The 2005 season then saw him win the championship, following five wins and four pole positions. Since 2006 Gary Paffett has also been a test driver for Formula 1 – and an obvious candidate for a seat in the cockpit in this, the premiere class of motor sport.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Crazy Race in Brazil is Coming February 14-16. Sounds like Fun!

Hi folks -- this looks like it might be fun!  Let's all leave the gloomy winter of the Midwest and enjoy life. It is good to know that our passion is worldwide.

The crazy race is coming
Classic cars event happens on February 14, 15 e 16, in Franca – São Paulo/ Brazil. Only cars built until 1936 can participate.

A story linking the unusual. A pinch of daring and a good dose of enthusiasm and above all a lot of courage. These were the ingredients that resulted in today’s most outgoing events of classic cars in the country.
While Brazil sees the movement of classic cars growing very fast and where the overwhelming majority of those events are exhibitions, collector’s meetings show other events that have a habit of leaving the classic vehicles stuck in their tracks while visitors walk among them. We have on the other hand the event called “Pé na Tábua – Corrida de Calhambeques” which goes against the trend. In the Calhambeques’s race visitors are also fans of old cars but they don’t need to move to see the cars because they come to them; after all we are in a race.

This event became a reality for several reasons and one of them was to show that all automobiles were born to be driven. The first “Pé na Tábua – Corrida de Calhambeques” happened in January of 2011 and since then it became a reference for those who like to combine fun, leisure and vintage cars. Everything becomes more interesting because only vehicles manufactured until 1936 are allowed to get into the race.

In its fourth edition in 2014 the event has another differential. It will receive the Formula 1 champion Nelson Piquet who raced the past three editions with his Lincoln 1927 and won the “Speed” category. The event date has already been set and all the preparations for the 4° edition are being made to receive enthusiasts at “Speed Park”, in Franca - São Paulo - Brazil.

If you want to know more details about the race, enter our site: or check out our Facebook page.

Pé na Tábua – Corrida de Calhambeques - 2014 Edition
Date: February 14, 15 e 16
Place: Speed Park – Franca - São Paulo - Brazil (Runway Franca/Claraval KM 3)

Press Agent
Larissa Costa
55 (16) 99161-0631
55 (11) 98450-9121

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Vanderbilt Cup and Mercedes Benz, 1904 and 1914

Champions: Mr. William K. Vanderbilt jr. at the wheel of his 40 hp Mercedes-Simplex. A helper starts the Mercedes with the starting crank
Records at the meeting in Ormond Daytona Beach, Florida/USA, 27 to 30 January 1904. At the off: subsequent winner William K. Vanderbilt jr. (starting number 1) at the wheel of a Mercedes 90 hp racing car.
nVanderbilt race on February 26, 1914, on the Santa Monica track near Los Angeles, California. The photo shows Ralph de Palma crossing the finishing line. He won the race in a 37/95 hp Mercedes racing car
Vanderbilt Cup near Los Angeles, 1914. Ralph de Palma at the wheel of his Mercedes racing car, chased presumably by Barney Oldfield in another Mercedes

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Another Retro Design: The 2014 Porsche 911 Targa

What goes around comes around, albeit greatly improved.  I was so pleased that Porsche is releasing a car that has strong similarities to my 1971 Porsche 911 T targa. But unlike my car, in which you struggle to get that targa top off and the glass rear window stays in place, this design is far more user friendly. Here is a description how the new top works:

The new 911 Targa's top works much the same way as the 911 Cabriolet's power-folding top does, with two moving parts: the cloth center roof panel, and the rear glass window, which is mounted on a clamshell door. When the button to open up the roof is pressed, two flaps inside the Targa bar open up, the top is folded into a Z-shape as the roof opens, and is then stored behind the rear seats. Once the top is stored, the flaps in the bar and the rear window close, giving the driver the open-air motoring experience. Porsche says the 2014 911 Targa's top takes 19 seconds to open and close while the 911 is stationary.

  Earlier targa tops had a removeable rear window made of vinyl.  These are now highly desired for conversions in later cars like mine, but parts need to be fabricated and  the conversion cost is high!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

At Ford, they are interested in their customers! GPS data gathering, the consequence modern electronic auto

Hi folks -- what follows is from a recent article in the Detroit News. We are just coming to grips with the consequences of all the various electronic gear that is typically installed in a new or recently assembled car. The computers, chips, buses, OBD-II ports, have enabled others to watch us, study our habits, open our doors and effect of management systems, etc. A perfect scenario for a murder, perhaps?

Ford Motor Co. marketing chief Jim Farley on Thursday apologized for a remark he made Wednesday saying the Dearborn automaker tracks customers through in-car navigation devices.
Farley, the headliner at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, said Ford knows where and when customers drive their vehicles, but does not sell that information to third parties.
“We know everyone who breaks the law, we know when you’re doing it,” Farley said, according to a report in Business Insider. “We have GPS in your car, so we know what you’re doing. By the way, we don’t supply that data to anyone.”
Ford on Thursday denounced those comments.
“Ford is absolutely committed to protecting our customers’ privacy,” company spokesman Wes Sherwood said. “We do not track our customers. No data is transmitted from the vehicle without the customer’s express consent.”
Customers give consent when they use a navigation or voice-activated system.
Farley on Thursday apologized in an interview with CNBC. “We don’t monitor, aggregate data on how people drive. I’ve given people the wrong impression, I regret that,” he said.
His comments coincide with a warning from AAA, which this week urged companies to protect consumer data used in GPS systems.
“The data that today can be routinely collected by cars includes some of the most sensitive data that can be collected about a person, including information about their precise location and driving habits,” said Bob Darbelnet, president and CEO of AAA.
And a government report released Monday found that major automakers are keeping information about where drivers have been, via data collected from onboard navigation systems. The Government Accountability Office said the automakers have differing policies about how much data they collect and how long they keep it.
Automakers collect location data in order to provide drivers with real-time traffic information, help find the nearest gas station or restaurant, and provide emergency roadside assistance and stolen vehicle tracking. But, the report found, “If companies retained data, they did not allow consumers to request that their data be deleted, which is a recommended practice.”
The report reviewed practices of Detroit’s Big Three automakers, Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. It also looked at navigation system makers Garmin and TomTom and app developers Google Maps and Telenav. The report, which didn’t identify policies of individual companies, found automakers had taken steps to protect privacy and were not selling personal data of owners.
The agency said privacy advocates worry location data could be used to market to individuals and to “track where consumers are, which can in turn be used to steal their identity, stalk them or monitor them without their knowledge.”

From The Detroit News:

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Mixed Blessing? Fuyao Auto Glass Plant Comes to Dayton, Ohio

Perhaps I am living in the past, a time when the United States was the dominant force in the global economy. So yesterday I wasn't nearly as excited as many Daytonians  when a deal was signed with the Fuyao Glass Industries Group that will bring 600-800 jobs to a beleaguered local economy. True, a vacant plant will come to life again. And folks will get needed work, but with an average wage as stated in the Dayton Daily News at $32-35k. That is only a marginally living wage, a wage that can support a family of four. And while this may lead to more Chinese investment in Ohio, which is always good, are we increasingly inching towards a colonial economy? To be sure, investment profits in greater proportion will be going back to China. American collaborators with Chinese investment will do well in the short run. But what about future generations?

Well, maybe I need to deal with reality, 2014. To be sure, the global auto industry is in a new era. It is reinventing itself in numerous ways, from electronic technologies and production to distribution. China is rapidly becoming the number 1 market and producer, and it won't be long before we see Chinese cars in the U.S. Consider the pace of the transition -- 15 years ago our everyday Chinese products were Happy Meal toys!

Beginning in the early 1970s the American economy began its long slide downwards, and now Chinese manufacturing are in Moraine. Real per capita income in the U.S. continues to drop. Poverty is endemic. Government is largely ineffectual in arresting this trend, and in fact is in part responsible for it. You tell me what lies in the future!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Drift with New Bentley Continental GT -- a contribution from Emily Matthews!

2013 Bentley Continental GT Convertible

Drift with New Bentley Continental GT
Bentley from its earliest days has set new standards in the automobile with their great innovative design and excellence in engineering. These cars took the Guide Touring rulebook and rewrote it. Right from the legendary R-type Continental of the 1950’s to the Continental GT of the 21st century, Bentley cars have revolutionized the Grand Touring industry. The Continental GT V8 is again one of the masterpieces from Bentley. It is a stunning mix of the classic Bentley DNA with the contemporize design and modern technology. A perfect example of how a supercar meets the handcrafted luxury. In fact driving this Bentley is like driving a very powerful, yet luxurious piece of English Art. 
The 2013 Bentley GT V8 is the entry level Bentley that offers less of everything less weight, less power, lesser horsepower and also lesser price. It looks like Bentley wants to spread their range of cars to a lower audience. This 2013 Bentley shares the same iconic design like it precedes. It’s absolutely perfect and certainly promises to be your status symbol. The few key differences between V8 and W12 being V8 has its black grille with its chrome frame and vertical center bar. If you pass by a Continental GT V8, you’ll also notice its unique exhaust outlet’s which is different. Another difference that you can notice is the beautiful melody of the new exhaust of V8, which certainly is much more engaging than the sound of W12. 
Engine wise the Bentley has a new twin-turbo 4.0 liter V8 engine, which is co-developed with Audi. It’s deeper, richer, and altogether more athletic than the more powerful and heavier W12. Specification wise also V8 is very impressive, the V8 engine produces a daunting 500 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 487 pound feet of torque. With this surprisingly powerful engine it has a ZF sourced eight-speed automatic transmission. This powerful engine is also very fast, its only 0.2 seconds slower that the W12 which is almost 2.0 liter bigger than this, it can get 0-60 miles per hour at 4.6 seconds. Mileage wise, this beauty is very good giving out 15 miles per gallon in city while 24 miles per gallon on highway. The test drive of this car on a totally iced lake itself tells the kind of engine this muscular beauty possess. 
The Interiors are well crafted giving the car’s cabin a very stylish and luxurious look. They have given special attention to make the cabin sound proof. The instrument panel and dashboard have the legendary flying wings of the Bentley motif. Modern technology like touch screen panel which is specially developed for Bentley, also the graphical interface of the touch screen custom made by Bentley to make sure that its visuals enhances the styling quotient of the car. The new entertainment unit brings out the ultimate audio sound system. It also has the chrome bezelled knobs and a very innovative removable storage space are housed within dynamic cool pit. 

With all such dynamic functions, this Bentley is certainly a cherry on icing. Bentley has attracted many passionate car lovers from decades, and this new low priced Continental GT might open new chapters for the car makers. Go ahead and buy this elegant machine, but do remember to have a valid photo on driving licence

Emily can be reached at:

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Automobile Design: It starts with a Sketch

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Freidrich Geiger's sketch of the Mercedes Pagoda

The Mustang

1995 Audi Concept  TT

Mercedes at the Consumer Electronics Show, Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Nevada. Exclusively for visitors to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES, January 7 – 10, 2014) Mercedes-Benz is taking an unconventional approach to showing the new C-Class. An augmented reality app brings the car to life on the show stand, providing visitors with a digital preview of the vehicle prior to its world premiere at the Detroit Motor Show.
The CES is the world’s most renowned and foremost show for entertainment electronics. Starting tomorrow in the North Hall, Mercedes-Benz will provide the fascinated industry audience with a comprehensive insight into current development projects and innovative technologies.
“Everyone is talking about autonomous driving functions - we already have them in series production. Many people want to use the latest communications capabilities in their car – for us, this has long been reality with ‘digital drive style’, be it with COMAND Online or via the Digital DriveStyle app,” says Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber, Management Board Member of Daimler AG responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. “Mercedes-Benz vehicles offer the highest possible levels of safety with maximum comfort. They are intelligently connected and well on the way to becoming digital, automotive companions.”
C-E-S@CES: The Mercedes-Benz Show Stand in Las Vegas
Alongside the virtual C-Class, Mercedes-Benz is also presenting the E and the S-Class in real life at the CES. Thanks to the high rate of innovation at Mercedes-Benz, all three vehicles are bristling with driver assistance systems right through to partly autonomous driving functions like DISTRONIC PLUS with Steering Assist and Stop&Go Pilot. Mercedes-Benz calls this innovative combination of comfort and safety systems “Intelligent Drive”. With the aid of a comprehensive package of technologies, including stereo camera and multi-stage radar sensors, partly autonomous driving is today already a reality for Mercedes customers.
On the first day of the show, Mercedes-Benz is showcasing another vehicle highlight on the stand - the Concept S-Class Coupé. Its particularly impressive interior comes with a fully digital instrument panel and innovative operating concept. For instance, driver and passengers in the Concept S-Class Coupé no longer have to waste time searching through their digital music libraries. MoodGrid software, integrated into the vehicle in cooperation with Gracenote, compiles a selection from around 18 million songs in the cloud. This selection is designed specifically to suit the chosen mood and the individual taste of those listening.
Today, Tomorrow and the Day After – Insights into Telematics and Infotainment at Mercedes-Benz
Alongside real and virtual vehicles, the Mercedes-Benz show stand also offers insights into the world of telematics and infotainment. Visitors can enjoy an overview of current Mercedes-Benz apps and test the Digital DriveStyle app complete with car-to-x technology. Mercedes-Benz development engineers are also demonstrating how “wearable devices” like Google Glass or intelligent watches like the Pebble smart watch can be integrated into the vehicle telematics system to provide the customer with added value. Mercedes-Benz is also demonstrating how, in future, relevant vehicle data could be accessed conveniently from home via Vehicle Home.
With the “Predictive User Experience” prototype, Mercedes-Benz offers a look ahead to the revolutionary telematics and infotainment system of the future. Starting tomorrow on the Mercedes-Benz stand at the CES in Las Vegas, you can find out all about the innovations that will turn the vehicle of the future into an intelligent, automotive companion, how it will be able to recognize the desires, moods and preferences of driver and passengers and proactively predict and simplify the next operating steps. For more information go to:
Three World Premieres at the CES Show a High Pace of Innovation
Mercedes-Benz recently announced partnerships with Pepple Technology and Nest Labs. These alliances give Mercedes-Benz developers access to the latest hardware and application programming interfaces (APIs) from the two Silicon Valley based start-ups to create unique automotive experiences.
Mercedes-Benz will demonstrate information sharing and interactive communication between vehicle and Pebble smart watch. Thanks to the flow of information between vehicle and the smart watch, consumers who are away from their vehicles, will be able to glance at Pebble smart watch to review vehicle information. When hopping into their vehicle, Pebble smart watch will vibrate when vehicle needs to communicate to consumers certain alerts. These features will be released in spring of 2014 as part of Digital DriveStyle app.
Another world premiere is a partnership with Nest Labs to demonstrate a concept of connecting Mercedes-Benz vehicles to the Nest Learning Thermostat using Nest's web APIs. Mercedes-Benz and Nest are demonstrating how this solution makes life easier and more convenient. The vehicle will interact with the Nest Thermostat so that your home will be at a comfortable temperature upon your arrival. With such intelligent links between the consumer’s home and vehicle, Mercedes-Benz is creating a new interactive experience to increase convenience for its drivers with the planned release in spring of 2014 as part of Digital DriveStyle app.
At the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, Mercedes-Benz and Google announced a partnership to bring Google services to Mercedes-Benz vehicles. The next phase of this partnership will be previewed at CES 2014 with the introduction of Google+ support in the award winning Digital DriveStyle app. Google+ support will be available in all vehicles fitted with the Drive Kit Plus hardware module, and will allow drivers to share updates to Google+, and review their Google+ streams both on screen and via text-to-speech.   Mercedes-Benz is the world’s first automotive manufacturer to bring Google+  to their vehicles, with market availability expected on iOS in spring 2014.
Mercedes-Benz S-Class is “Best-Connected Vehicle of 2013”
Readers of German publications AUTO BILD and COMPUTER BILD have spoken: The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the “Best-Connected Vehicle of 2013” according to the results of the reader poll conducted jointly by both magazines for the “Connected Car Award”. Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Drive took first place in the “Best Driver Assistance System Safety” category. The “Connected Car Awards” will be presented today at the CES to Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber, who will accept the awards on the Mercedes-Benz show stand.
Mercedes-Benz Honored as “Global Technology Innovator 2013”
Mercedes-Benz is also being honored with the Plus X Award “Global Technology Innovator 2013”. The recipient is chosen by a jury of experts and prominent figures from across 25 industries. Mercedes-Benz is receiving the Plus X Award for the Bertha Benz drive it undertook in summer of last year. The jury praised the first autonomous city and cross-country road trip with a Mercedes-Benz S-Class equipped with close-to-production technology as a “milestone that showed the future of mobility, thus making it tangible.”

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Suburu Brat -- one way to get around the chicken tax (or more correctly, tariff)

An Acronym for?

Add two seats in the pickup bed and you avoid the 25% tariff on trucks onto the U.S.

See link for a listing of the BRAT in film!

Goodbye VW Type 2 Microbus, Transporter, Camper!

Memories from the past! A transporter owned by a Davidson College fraternity brother that burned up in 1969 as he was about to leave to join the Peace Corps. Two New Orleans friends, Donald Keintz and Dawson Nesbitt, who owned them. Poor Donald struggled mightily to keep his alive. A fire in one in Baltimore in the 1990s, where I stuck my head in the burning vehicle to save someone's books!

Sad to say, but production ended in Brazil of the Type 2 December 31, 2013. Precautions concerning safety trumped practical transportation and tradition.

How many of you know how a controversy ( The Chicken War") over the Type 2 in 1964 led to import duties so high that it all but guaranteed the dominance of the Detroit 3 in the light truck industry? Seems that the EEC wanted to keep out American chicken out of France and West Germany and increased duties. President Lyndon Johnson retaliated by among other things slapping a 25% import duty on light trucks. The duty has never gone away, but it discouraged truck imports, first from Germany, then Japan. The advantage fell to the Ford F-150 and Chevy Silverado, and the only way for foreign makes to compete was to built plants in the U.S., like Toyota did in San Antonio.