Saturday, March 29, 2014
From Ed Garten -- WHEN WILL THEY EVER LEARN?
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 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
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!
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
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 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: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140318/AUTO01/303180090#ixzz2wM32sUbL
Friday, March 14, 2014
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|
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.
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.
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!
|Two ladies for the road, late 1940s|
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!