Saturday, March 29, 2014

Teenagers Behind the Wheel: When will they learn that they are not invincible!


Once again, southwestern Ohio has witnessed another young teen driver and his passengers meet gruesome deaths.  Three Clark County high school students were killed in a single car crash in Springfield Township early Wednesday morning.  Clark County sheriff's deputies told 2 NEWS the driver of the car ran off Ridge Road, hit a tree, splitting the car in half.  These photos show that while it may take only minutes for a car to be put together on the contemporary assembly line, it only takes one or two seconds for the same car to fly into shards of metal.  Three teens, ages 15, 16, and 17 were pronounced dead at the scene.

"Cars don't get torn apart like that doing 30-40 miles an hour. It just doesn't happen," said Lt. Brian Aller, of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. "And especially hitting an object like that and to tear about that far, strewn that way it was as far as it was. High speed was definitely a factor."

None of the victims were wearing seat belts, although troopers said with the severity of the crash, seat belts would not have helped.

"Responding to this type of scene makes me hug my children harder. The tragic and senseless loss of these young men is devastating for not only their families, but the Tecumseh School System and entire Springfield community," said Lt. Aller.

Car crashes are the No. 1 killer of teens in the United States each year, killing more than cancer, homicide and suicide combined, according to AAA. Based on miles driven, teens are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers, the organization's website said.

A teen passenger faces the highest risk of death when driving with a teen driver - particularly at night.  AA also notes that the number of teen-driver crashes increases significantly with the number of teen passengers in the car, from fewer than two crashes per 10,000 trips when no passengers are in the car to six per 10,000 trips when three or more teen passengers are in the vehicle.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

General Motors and Corporate Responsibility: the ignition switch debacle

After reading today's front page story on GM and how they mislead families effected by the Cobalt ignition switch defect, I can't see how I could ever buy a GM car. It is as if NOTHING was learned from the episode with the Corvair that occurred more than 50 years ago. GM culture seeming has not changed -- poor internal communications, reliance on legal stonewalling, denial, denial, denial. Step on the little people,the same folks who buy your Chevys!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Stealing Cars: Technology and Society from the Model T to the Gran Torino -- My book -- an order form

Hi folks -- I hope a number of you will do me a BIG favor and order my book. I will definitely sign it for you next time we meet!
Thank you.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

One Vision of the Future of the Global Automobile Industry

Washington — An auto industry analyst thinks the world’s nearly 30 major automakers will see dramatic consolidation — and about a half dozen will remain.
Morgan Stanley auto analyst Adam Jonas said in a research note Tuesday that the U.S. auto industry needs a dramatic change in thinking, spurred on by electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors Inc.
“We believe the radically changing landscape of autos requires a commensurate change of thinking in Detroit if the domestic OEMs, as we have traditionally known them, are to remain relevant 15 or 20 years from now,” Jonas said. “The world has too many car companies: We cover nearly 30 auto assemblers globally across eight countries. In our opinion, the balance of economic, competitive and technological forces will ultimately consolidate this figure to five or six players.”
Forecasts a decade ago of auto industry consolidation haven’t come true. During the financial crisis, governments helped prop up struggling automakers. Consolidation has taken place among suppliers, but not to the extent some had predicted.
Jonas said vision will be necessary for automakers to survive. As recently as 1950, Detroit was home to nearly a dozen major automakers.
“There are several auto firms with the vision to make it to that final select group. Others are more distracted by the issues of the day, working diligently towards the next engineering cycle,” he said.
He said the newest battle line is integration of technology being developed outside the auto industry.
General Motors Co. said last year it had set up a committee to review Tesla’s operations and see if it could learn anything.
“Tesla could either end up being Detroit’s worst enemy or its salvation,” Jonas said. “In our opinion, the disruption from Tesla comes early enough to allow an incumbent sufficient time to adapt its culture, capital allocation and recruiting strategy to the changing forces. With proper execution, Detroit may thank Tesla Motors for being that stiff board in the back of the head right when they needed it.”
He questioned if U.S. automakers are prepared as the industry moves to self-driving cars.
“Do GM and Ford have the right talent and organizational structures in place to achieve industrial leadership in these areas? Probably not enough, we think,” Jonas said, noting it will require careful collaboration with suppliers.
He said an unusually high concentration of new players in the worldwide tech industry are based in Silicon Valley, presenting a unique opportunity for domestic auto companies. He noted that BMW AG has about twice as many tech professionals staffed at its Mountain View technology center than all of Detroit’s automakers.

From The Detroit News:

Friday, March 14, 2014

Bio-Mimicry and Audi Front Grill Images -- Aggression in your Review Mirror

Ever get the sense that some front end grills give you an uneasy feeling?  I am using Audi grills as an example, the front end intensified by the eyebrow headlights staring at you in a not so friendly manner. Without doubt Audi's designs mimic living things (hunters and angry), as in the case of the Shark Concept design below. It seems to me that the grills of the 1950s cars were smiling at you. I'll deal with that in a separate post.

Audi Shark Concept

Audi RS 8

Audi RS 7

Audi TT RS Plau

Monday, March 10, 2014

Mercedes-Benz Motor Sports History

The world's first automobile race on July 22, 1894. The photo shows the car of Alfred Vacheron in the reliability trial between Paris and Rouen.

Vanderbilt 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

Targa Florio, Sicily, April 2, 1922. With his 115 HP Mercedes Grand Prix racing car from 1914, Count Giulio Masetti won the Targa Florio over a distance of 432 km.

4th Gordon Bennett race in Ireleand, July 2, 1903. The winner Camille Jenatzy (starting number 4) with a 60 hp Mercedes-Simplex race car.

Motor sport is automotive history by Mercedes-Benz
  • Since 1894 products of the Mercedes, Benz and Mercedes-Benz brands have been dominating the motor sport scene on international tracks
  • 100th anniversary of the triple victory for Mercedes at the French Grand Prix in 1914
  • Productive interaction between involvement in motor sport and brand’s first-class production vehicles
  • Engineering competence and passion for sporting competition
From history’s first automobile race in 1894 to the various current involvements in motor sports, the motor sport activities of Mercedes-Benz and the predecessor brands tell a story of success whose roots date back to the very early days of the automobile. Since the 19th century the racing and rally cars from Stuttgart have consistently been at the head of the pack in sporting competitions. Their victories are a testimony to innovative technology, the drivers’ will to win and efficient teamwork. Outstanding moments in the brand’s racing history include participation in the world’s first-ever car race in 1894, the first Grand Prix victory of a Mercedes at the Nice Race Week in 1901, the one-two-three finish of Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft in the Grand Prix of Lyon in 1914, the age of the supercharged cars after 1922, and, above all, the era of the Silver Arrows before and after the Second World War, as well as rally races and record-setting runs thereafter – these are the foundations of the current success in Formula 1, the DTM (German Touring Car Masters) and customer sport.
An involvement in motor sport cannot be seen in isolation from the work that is being done every day in laboratories, workshops and factory buildings. There are close links between motor sport and first-class products in all other areas that work in both directions: knowledge gained from the development of competition vehicles is transferred to series production – and vice versa. The skills of the engineers acquired from working on the comprehensive product range of the global brand Mercedes-Benz and its predecessor companies provides inspiration for improving the racing cars. This direct exchange of technology and engineering know-how was particularly evident during the early decades of motor sport.
In a broader context, this mutual exchange still applies today, however. Engineering expertise in motor sport pairs up with the passion for sporting competition. Customer preferences and markets are changing in the global environment and the company constantly adapts to these changes. Many technical innovations that open up new avenues in automotive engineering have their roots in pioneering developments from motor sport engineers.
Individuals and cars are the protagonists of motor sport, but without the backing of the team and the brand neither the best drivers nor the best racing cars can win. In motor sports every race therefore demonstrates anew that it is the collective input that makes the difference between success and failure. The team, the technology and the tactics must dovetail smoothly. Consequently the significance and fascination of the races does not end with the chequered flag: a brand that fully commits itself to motor sports and wins victories worldwide as Mercedes-Benz does promotes its products far beyond the confines of the racing circuit. This is recognised at Mercedes-Benz and was also appreciated by its predecessor brands: the Benz annual report of 1907/08 stated: “We consider the extra cost of racing an absolute necessity to defend the position befitting our make in international competition.”
Motor sports as a leitmotif of the brand’s history
Right from its early days in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the automobile proved its effectiveness and reliability in initial competitions and in so doing won people over to the “horseless carriage”. From the early days of the automobile, Daimler and Benz vehicles were taking part in all notable events throughout Europe and in other countries around the world. They won races and consistently shattered speed barriers during record-breaking runs.
Motor sport was born 120 years ago in France. The “Système Daimler” – a two-cylinder V-engine built under licence in France from Gottlieb Daimler’s original plans – powered the victorious automobiles from Peugeot and Panhard & Levassor. The vehicles powered by Daimler engines took the top positions in the world’s first races from Paris to Rouen (1894) and Paris–Bordeaux–Paris (1895).
International success in motor sport quickly materialised for Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) and Benz & Cie. Impressive examples of this are the first Mercedes and its victories at the Nice Race Weeks in 1901/02/03 and equally the Benz 200 hp racing car, which was the first automobile to break the magic barrier of 200 km/h in 1909 and was quickly dubbed the “Blitzen-Benz” (Lightning Benz). Many major victories were won in France, such as DMG’s win in the Grand Prix in Dieppe in 1908 – with two vehicles from Benz, which were still rivals at the time, finishing in second and third place. Or the historic triple win of Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft in the Grand Prix in Lyon in 1914 – still one of the greatest victories in motor sport ever.
The amalgamation of Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft and Benz & Cie. in 1926 to form Daimler Benz AG also merged the successful motor sport activities of the two brands. This era of the late 1920s was dominated by the supercharged Mercedes-Benz sports cars, which won all major events. In particular, the vehicles of the legendary S-Series made motor sport history as the “White Elephants”. The crowning glory followed in 1931 in the gruelling Mille Miglia, where Rudolf Caracciola won a spectacular victory piloting the short-wheelbase SSK model.
The era of the Silver Arrows lasted from the 1930s to 1955, interrupted by the Second World War. Brand historians use the name Silver Arrows to refer to a whole family of racing cars, record-breaking vehicles and racing sports cars which became legendary on account of their silver-coloured bodies, superb engineering and historic victories. Before the war Mercedes-Benz dominated the European Grands Prix with the Silver Arrows. In 1952, the brand returned to motor sport with the 300 SL racing sports car (W 194), followed ultimately by the Formula 1 world championship titles in 1954 and 1955 with the W 196 R and the sports car world championship title with the 300 SLR (W 196 S) in 1955.
In the face of the major challenges involved in the development of new passenger cars, the Stuttgart-based brand withdrew from motor sport for several years after 1955. However, private teams, with support from Mercedes-Benz, continued the motor sport tradition and had a strong presence on the international victory podiums. A wide range of different vehicles frequently made their mark in various competitions: in the early 1960s the “Tailfin” saloons (W 111/112) and the 230 SL (W 113) dominated the international rally tracks. The SLC luxury coupé also sent a clear message in the late 1970s before the G-Model won the Paris–Dakar rally in 1983. Heavy-duty commercial vehicles from Mercedes-Benz were equally successful at rally races, endurance runs, and in the European Truck Racing Championship.
In addition to these racing cars and racing sports cars, the company regularly produced record-breaking vehicles. Some were based on research vehicles, such as the C 111 (C 111–II D of 1976 to C 111–IV of 1979). Others were derived from production vehicles, like the Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.3-16 in 1983, which set three world records and nine best-in-class records in Nardò in southern Italy.
In the late 1980s, Mercedes-Benz returned to circuit motor sport and won two Group C racing sports car world championships. At the same time, the Stuttgart-based brand also competed in the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) and later in the International Touring Car Championship (ITC). Between 1986 and 1996 Mercedes-Benz won three championship titles and finished four times as the runner-up. Since the year 2000, Mercedes-Benz has also been competing again in the reorganised DTM, racing to overall victory in 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, and 2006. In 2003, the team even claimed the first three places, with Bernd Schneider as the overall winner. Mercedes-Benz repeated this triumph in the 2010 season with Paul di Resta as the overall winner.
After celebrating major victories in Group C racing and in the DTM in the early 1990s, Mercedes-Benz finally returned to Formula 1, the pinnacle of motor sport, in 1994 – at first via the teams Sauber-Mercedes (1994) and McLaren-Mercedes (since 1995). During this period world championship titles were won by the drivers Mika Häkkinen twice (1998 and 1999) and Lewis Hamilton once (2008) and Team West-McLaren-Mercedes won a constructors’ title (1998). Mercedes-Benz also finished as the runner-up ten times.
A new era dawned in 2010: Mercedes-Benz returned to Formula 1 with its own works team and signed top driver Michael Schumacher, who after his retirement was replaced by Lewis Hamilton in the 2013 season. In 2008, at the age of 23 Hamilton became the youngest world champion in the history of Formula 1 at the time and since 2010 has stood on the very top of a Grand Prix victory podium eleven times in total. Nico Rosberg celebrated his first GP win with a Silver Arrow at the race in Shanghai in 2012. The MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS works team secured second place in the constructors’ championship at the end of the 2013 season.
120 years of motor sports under the Mercedes star: the history of Mercedes-Benz is inseparably linked with the history of motor sport. And in retrospect, the sporting involvement has repeatedly proved to be a driving force behind the visionary advancement of automotive engineering. Viewed in this light, motor sports is also always a fast-paced ride into the future

Sunday, March 9, 2014

General Motors Ignition Switch Woes

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.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Rolling Sculpture: The Most Beautiful Cars Ever: 1938 Talbot-Lago

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. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Mercedes C Class and Recent Motorsports History

ADAC Avus race in Berlin, September 9, 1993: The winner Roland Asch (first and second run) with starting number 2 on an AMG Mercedes 190 E Class 1 racing touring car.

The career of the current C-Class as a motorsport star began with the record-breaking drive completed by the 190 E 2.3-16 model in Nardò, southern Italy (13 to 21 August 1983). This was also the first major test for the new engine with four valves per cylinder and 136 kW (185 hp). The three record-breaking cars had very similar specifications to the subsequent production models; only minor modifications were necessary to optimise them for the test in Nardó, including optimised aerodynamics, a larger tank and longer axle ratios. The test proved worthwhile: the brand broke three world records and nine other international records at the circuit in Nardò.
The world records broken by the 190 E 2.3-16 in Nardò, 1983:25,000 kilometres, average speed 247.549 km/h25,000 miles, average speed 247.749 km/h50,000 kilometres, average speed 247.939 km/h
1984: The opening race on the new Grand Prix course at the Nürburgring. The new Grand Prix course in the Eifel region of Germany was inaugurated on 12 May 1984. The 190 E 2.3-16 played a major role: the opening race involved 20 identical models of this type piloted by 20 renowned racing drivers – a who’s who of international motorsport. The 190 E 2.3-16 impressively displayed its racing credentials. The top three drivers were Ayrton Senna, Niki Lauda and Carlos Reutemann.
In 1985, it was initially the French who took part in the French Touring Car Championship, above all Snobeck Racing Service (SRS) supported by Mercedes-Benz France with three vehicles. This particular championship allowed far more extensive modifications than were allowed for German touring car races in motorsport Groups A and N. At the first time of asking, the Snobeck Team finished in second place in the French Touring Car Championship with a touring car it had prepared itself based on the 190 E 2.3-16 with dry sump lubrication and individual throttles in the intake system.
In 1986 Volker Weidler finished runner-up in the DTM driving an AMG-prepared 190 E 2.3-16 model, behind him Kurt Thiim in a Rover Vitesse.
1987 was a less successful year in motorsport for the Mercedes-Benz brand. Jörg von Ommen finished ninth in the final DTM ranking. It was nevertheless a pivotal year: Between 9 and 11 December 1987, the Lämmerbuckel training centre hosted an in-depth discussion dealing with the topic of “Mercedes-Benz and motorsport in the future?”, chaired by Board of Management members Edzard Reuter, Werner Niefer and Jürgen Hubbert. As a result of this meeting, the Board of Management took the decision to participate in Group A (touring cars) and Group C (racing cars) at a follow-up meeting held on 12 January 1988. At the end of 1988, two engineers who had been very much involved from the beginning, Rüdiger Herzog and Gerhard Lepler, were placed in charge of DTM at the then Daimler-Benz AG.
In 1988 the AMG, BMK (Brenner, Müller, Kostera), IPS (Ingmar Peer Stureson), Marko and Snobeck teams received official works support. To give the Mercedes-Benz and BMW participants driving with naturally aspirated engines a better chance against the turbocharged Ford Cosworth, the rules for the cars with naturally aspirated engines were relaxed in this year’s championship, including freeing of ducts in the original cylinder head, intake tract and exhaust manifold, valve dimensions, and mixture formation. This prompted AMG to replace the throttle valve with slides at the individual intake openings. These measures boosted the engine output from 191 kW (260 hp) to 220 kW (300 hp) at 8000 rpm. Lighter magnesium components were used for the suspension. Roland Asch finished runner-up in this year with his BMK 190 E 2.3-16.
1989 was the year of the 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution, model series 201. In order to make further modifications to the basic 190 E 2.3-16 vehicle, which was already homologated, a further 500 vehicles incorporating the new modifications had to be built according to the DTM Group A rules. This ruling prompted the development of the 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution model, initially just called the “Evo” and subsequently “Evo I” to distinguish it from the later 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II. The body underwent major modifications. The 8 J x 16 ET 34 wheels with much larger 225/55 R 16 ZR tyres taken from SL model series R 129 required larger and more flared wheel arches. This wheel/tyre combination was used to house larger brake discs, which were likewise taken from the R 129. To optimise the front and rear downforce, the Evolution model could be fitted with adjustable front and rear spoilers. The engine required more extensive modifications to achieve a stable engine speed of 10,000 rpm for the racing version. Factory statistics indicated that a total of 502 of the 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution models were built. Whereas in the first races of the 1989 season, 190 E 2.3-16 models were still used (Hockenheim, 1st race: 1 Klaus Ludwig; Mainz-Finthen, 2nd race: 1 Kurt Thiim), the 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution was used successively and continued the winning run (Mainz-Finthen, 1st race: 1 Roland Asch; Norisring, 1st race: 1 Kurt Thiim; Diepholz, both races: 1 Klaus Ludwig; Nürburgring, both races: 1 Klaus Ludwig). Of the eight Mercedes-Benz victories in the 1989 DTM season, six were achieved by the “Evolution”. The 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution notched up the following successes in the 1990 season: Zolder, 1st and 2nd race: 1 Kurt Thiim; Hockenheim, 1st race: 1 Klaus Ludwig; Nürburgring, 2nd race: 1 Frank Biela.
In 1990, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II, model series 201. Externally the new variant, of which 502 models were once again produced, was distinguishable by even larger wheel/tyre combinations (8 ¼ J x 17 ET 34 with 245/45 ZR 17) and further flared wheel arches as well as larger front and rear spoilers with the necessary adjustment options. The impressive wings of the “Evo II”, as the vehicle was called for short, reduced body lift substantially. As for the engine, the new 102.992 model variant based on the M 102 was used. Compared to the preceding version, it featured numerous modifications including pistons for an increased compression of 10.5:1, modified timing and adapted intake ducts. In response to public demand, the “Evo II”, unlike its predecessor, was optionally available with air conditioning. The racing car entered its first events in summer 1990. Kurt Thiim drove the AMG-Evo II to victory in the first race of the DTM meeting at Diepholz. At the end of November, Roland Asch won an invitation race in Kyalami, South Africa, that also proved remarkable for another reason: for the first time in a race, Asch used an anti-lock braking system (ABS) configured for motorsport.
In 1991, Klaus Ludwig finished runner-up in the DTM driving the 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II.
1992 was the most successful year for the “Evo II” as the car notched up 16 wins. Klaus Ludwig won the championship ahead of Kurt Thiim and Bernd Schneider. Mercedes-Benz won the team classification and the brand classification. Key factors here were the introduction of power steering and the ABS configured specifically for use on the race track. The engines further developed at AMG now achieved 274 kW (375 hp) at 9500 rpm, while the six-speed transmission allowed better adaptation to the track conditions.
1993 was the last year the 190 E 2.5-16 EVOLUTION II was raced, and the year in which Class A was superseded by Class 1 in the DTM regulations. This new classification allowed greater design freedom. It took AMG just eight weeks to finish a 190 E that complied with the Class 1 requirements, based on the “Evo II”. The main requirements for the new vehicle included an optimum centre of gravity and further improved aerodynamics. To meet these requirements, the engine was equipped with dry sump lubrication so that it could be installed 5 centimetres lower, and it was installed 11.7 centimetres further rearwards. In addition to this, Mercedes-Benz and AMG installed an active, electronically controlled suspension. Owing to the narrow time window for preparations, there could be no fine-tuning test drives at the start of the season, the upshot being that Klaus Ludwig was still driving an “Evo ll” when he won the second race at the Nürburgring. The rapid progress made during the season culminated in Roland Asch finishing as runner-up in the new vehicle.
C-Class model series 202 continues the run of success
In 1994 the number of “silhouette cars” was on the increase due to the new racing formula in DTM: these cars looked like touring cars, but their engine and suspension designs had very little in common with production touring cars. At Mercedes-Benz they helped the then new C-Class model series 202 to achieve sporting success. The engines were allowed to have a maximum displacement of 2.5 litres and six cylinders, and they had to be derived from a production engine that had been installed in at least 2500 of the manufacturer’s production models for twelve consecutive months. Two cylinders were allowed to be added or removed for the racing engine. The V-angle, cylinder spacing and material composition had to match those of the production engine. The minimum weight was 1000 kilograms for two-wheel-drive vehicles and 1040 kilograms for their four-wheel-drive counterparts. Erhard Melcher designed the 2.5-litre V6 engine (M 106) based on the 4.2-litre V8 engine (M 119) for use in the DTM by Mercedes-Benz AMG. This engine achieved up to 346 kW (470 hp) during the course of development. To improve weight distribution, the six-speed sequential transmission was decoupled from the engine, moved rearwards and reconnected to the engine via an intermediate shaft. The alternator was also moved rearwards and was driven by the differential by means of gears. This new design brought Klaus Ludwig the 1994 DTM title with Jörg van Ommen finishing as runner-up and also winning the ITR Gold Cup.
The cars were further developed in 1995. Some of the measures implemented: The engine valve springs were replaced by a pneumatic system that further improved reliability at extremely high engine speeds. An engine could be replaced within 15 minutes, i.e. between two races at the same meeting. The driver’s position was moved to a point behind the B-pillar to position the movable additional weight so as to optimise handling. In the last year of the DTM, which was held between 1984 and 1995, Bernd Schneider won the championship ahead of Jörg van Ommen – likewise driving a Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
In 1996 AMG developed an all-new car based on the modular concept, in which the front and rear section where bolted to the central module at four points, for participation in the ITC (International Touring Car Championship). Additional weights beneath the car’s floor were movable within a range of 560 millimetres. Bernd Schneider finished runner-up in this year. Following its victory in the brand classification, Mercedes-Benz ended its involvement in the DTM/ITC. With 86 wins, it was the most successful manufacturer in the period 1986 to 1996. From 2000 onwards, the DTM and ITC were superseded by the German Touring Car Masters, with “silhouette cars” based on two-door coupés being used up until 2003.
Continuing the motorsport success: the C-Class model series 203
In 2004 the newly formed DTM also featured “silhouette cars” based on four-door saloons. For Mercedes-Benz and the H.W.A. racing team, this meant using the C-Class model series 203. The body’s supporting element on the new competition car was a space frame with steel roof and steel side elements. This design featured an integral driver’s safety cell, with clearly defined front, rear and side crash structures. Unlike the production vehicles, the front and rear axle design consisted of double wishbone constructions with spring/damper elements actuated by pushrods. Rack-and-pinion steering was used as in the production models. As for the engines, a 4.0-litre V8 engine with four valves per cylinder, in which the intake air was limited by two 28-millimetre mass airflow limiters, had been specified since the year 2000. The power was transferred to the final drive with differential lock via a transaxle with sequential gearshift. A three-disc carbon-fibre clutch was used. The drive shaft was likewise made of carbon-fibre. In this year, Garry Paffett finished runner-up in the AMG-Mercedes, ahead of Christian Albers in the DC Bank AMG-Mercedes.
The regulations allowed modifications in 2005. The gross vehicle weight was reduced by 30 kilograms and by a further 15 kilograms for vehicles from the previous year. Handicap weights were introduced. If a manufacturer won a race, its cars started the next race carrying an extra 10 kilograms, the second-placed manufacturer’s cars remained at the same weight and the third-placed manufacturer was allowed to reduce the weight of its cars by 10 kilograms. A spoiler lip had to be included in the rear aerofoil area of all cars. Gary Paffett won the championship driving the DC Bank AMG-Mercedes.
No modifications to the vehicles were allowed in 2006. There was room for manoeuvre owing to changes in the weight management, which allowed 1070 kilograms for the vehicles from the current season, 1050 kilograms for vehicles from season 2005 and 1020 kilograms for vehicles from season 2004. The winner’s handicap was reduced to 5 kilograms. The 2006 championship was won by Bernd Schneider driving the Vodafone AMG-Mercedes ahead of Bruno Spengler in the DC Bank AMG-Mercedes.
The C-Class model series 204 in motor racing
In 2007 the then new C-Class model series 204 appeared as a fresh face at the DTM race circuits. H.W.A. in Affalterbach began building the first DTM vehicle in the new model series at the end of December 2006. At the end of January 2007, Bernd Schneider and Bruno Spengler took the wheel for the first test drives at the Estoril track. Since there was a development ban on the engines, only optimisation work was allowed or possible. The major differences on the vehicle were the new body and the wheel suspension design. Bruno Spengler was runner-up with the new car in the 2007 championship.
In 2008 the development ban for DTM vehicles was still in place. There were changes to the weight allowances including the driver: for 2008 vehicles it was 1050 kilograms, for 2007 vehicles 1040 kilograms and for 2006 vehicles 1030 kilograms. Further rule changes concerned the ban on giving drivers team orders, visiting the pits during Safety Car phases and two obligatory pit stops during the second third of the race. Paul di Resta was runner-up in this year.
In 2009 the cost-reducing development ban was in place once again, meaning that the main difference between the 2009 cars and their 2008 counterparts was the fine-tuning of the aerodynamics. One aspect of this was having some of the airflow directed inside the vehicle and then to a double diffuser to increase the downforce. Initially the exhaust gases were emitted on the right-hand side, but during the course of the season an eight-in-two system with its ends on both sides of the vehicle was introduced. Gary Paffett finished as runner-up in 2009, ahead of Paul di Resta, both driving an AMG-Mercedes.
In 2010 the shock absorbers were also included in the development ban, meaning that there were no technical modifications for this season. There was nothing new apart from the tyres: Dunlop used new standardised tyres which had the same structure as the previous year’s tyres but were based on a different rubber blend. The championship table was topped by three AMG-Mercedes drivers: Paul di Resta, Gary Paffett and Bruno Spengler.
The development ban was still in place for established teams Mercedes-Benz and Audi in2011. Bruno Spengler drove his C-Class to third place in the 2011 DTM championship.
In 2012 the DTM vehicles were subject to continued restrictions on the further development of engines, transmissions and drive configurations – but there were extensive body modifications. The most obvious change was the use of two-door coupé bodies by the three participating manufacturers: Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW. All three makes had to use certain like parts: standardised carbon-fibre monocoque with crash boxes at the front, at the rear and on both sides, front splitter, rear wing, transmission and cardan shaft. Gary Paffett finished runner-up driving the AMG-Mercedes.
Safety Cars and Medical Cars based on the C-Class
Mercedes-Benz was involved with the use of Safety Cars and Medical Cars in Formula 1 and the DTM from a very early stage. C-Class models were also used here, mostly estates owing to the extra space they provide.
In 1996, the C 36 AMG became the first Mercedes-Benz to be used as a Safety Car in Formula 1. It was also used as a Medical Car in 1996 and 1997. In 1998, model series 202 was used for the first time, in the shape of the C 55 AMG Estate. This was followed in 2001 by the C 32 AMG Estate from model series 203, which featured a V6 supercharged engine. In 2004 it was superseded by the C 55 AMG with V8 naturally aspirated engine, followed in 2008 by the C 63 AMG Estate from model series 204 with the largest-displacement naturally aspirated engine (6.2 litres), which remains the preferred choice for the Safety Car to this day.
In the DTM, the C 55 AMG Estate from model series 203 was used as the Safety Car in 2004 and 2005. The C 63 AMG Saloon was then used from 2009 to 2011. In 2012 and 2013, the C 63 AMG Black Series was the DTM Safety Car.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Fast Food was around before McDonald's: Road Food Images

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!

Hitch Hiking Images

 Hi folks -- student Michael Roche is writing a paper for me on the popular culture of Hitch Hiking.It is a totally under appreciated topic that says much about the lost of trust in post-WWII America. This got me interested in looking at some images.

A hitchhiking family waiting along the highway in Macon, Georgia. The father repairs sewing machines, lawn mowers, etc. He is leaving Macon, where a license is required for such work (twenty-five dollars) and heading back for Alabama. Photos -- Dorothea Lange

Actress Ann Savage, From one of my favorite films,  in Detour (1945). Detour became a cult film, and was well ahead of its time. Co-Starring Tom Neal, the role reversal is striking as Vera (Savage) gains power over Al (Neal) in this film noir masterpiece.

Two ladies for the road, late 1940s

Hot Rods and Girls -- Movie Posters and Book Covers from the 1950s and 60s

Hi folks -- one of my students, Paula B., is writing a paper on Hot Rods and Girls in popular culture during the 1950s.  I happened to search for some images this morning just out of curiosity, and here are some that I found.  Contemporary images are prolific, and quite suggestive to say the least. Check them out for yourself!