Nutson's Nuggets: Last Week's Automotive News and Opinion Aug 11-17, 2014
Auto Central Louisville, KY August 17, 2014; Each week Larry Nutson, Senior Editor, New York Bureau of The Auto Channel, along with Steve Purdy and Thom Cannell from The Auto Channel Michigan Bureau give you their "take" as easy to digest nuggets of the past week's automotive news.
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Nutson's Automotive News Factoids - Week of Aug 11-17, 2014.
* Woodward Avenue (Michigan Highway 1) north of Detroit saw more than just thousands of cruisers in fast, rare, cool and quirky automobiles this week as Dodge took advantage of this gathering of the muscle-car faithful to formally introduce the raucous new Dodge Charger SRT “Hellcat” sporting a 707-hp supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi. Unrivaled four-door performance includes quarter mile elapsed time in 11.0 seconds on street tires, 0-100-0 mph in under 13 seconds and a top speed of 204 mph. Sibling Challenger SRT Hellcat, first shown at the Midwest Automotive Media Association Spring Rally, was presented to the national media at Portland International Raceway a few weeks ago to universal flushes of adrenalin.
* Torrential rains in the Detroit area earlier this week caused record flooding and disrupted auto production in four assembly plants. The GM Tech Center in Warren was also hit and Mark Reuss told a Woodward Dream Cruise press event audience they experienced serious damage there as well. The Tech Center is in an area of flat land and the old buildings are particularly vulnerable to this record rainfall.
* A week of high-end classic and collector car events kept the Monterey Bay busy this week with the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, historic races, tours, new car introductions and auctions. The Bonhams Auction sold a Ferrari 250 GTO for just over $38 million including the 10% buyer’s premium. This was just one of the special cars from the 10-lot Maranello Rosso Collection which sold for a combined $66 million.
* Under the heading of “what will they think of next?” we learned this week that Lincoln unveiled “Essence of Lincoln,” an original scent they hope will inspire customers with “an upscale, relaxing showroom experience.” Many of us consider automobiles to be multi-sensual, including smell, but we usually think of the aroma of old leather, burning tires or spent racing fuel. Lincoln is betting that the pleasant aroma will provide will become associate with their showroom experience.
* Tragedy struck in the world of motorsports when 20-year old sprint car dirt-track driver Kevin Ward, Jr was struck and killed by a car driven by NASCAR champion Tony Stewart during a dirt track race in upstate New York last weekend. Ward had been punched into the wall by Stewart while racing through a turn and spun. He got out of his car to confront Stewart on the caution lap and was accidentally hit as Stewart circled at about 40mph. Investigations by the authorities are underway and we can expect a rules change in racing in regard to getting out of your car on the track.
* Congressman Gary Peters, a Democrat from the Detroit area, held a press conference this week to announce the introduction of a bi-partisan bill that would establish a National Historic Vehicle Register, similar to the National Register of Historic Places that recognizes buildings. Actually, the register already exists with four vehicles enjoying the designation so far including a 1918 Cadillac that is a veteran of WWI. The bill would give the register a higher level of recognition. Promoting the bill and orchestrating the nomination and induction of vehicles is the Historic Vehicle Association founded and operated by Hagerty Insurance.
* In more news from the auction scene in Monterey, RM Auctions kicked off their flagship sale with 15 cars going more than a million dollars led by a mid-engine 1964 Ferrari 250 LM at $11.55 million. A 1965 Ford GT40 Roadster Prototype brought $6.93 million and a 1955 Mercedes-Benz Gullwing came in at $2.53 million setting a new record for a non-alloy Gullwing sold at auction.
* Volkswagen is recalling 151,000 Tiguan SUVs in the United States for stalling problems. In a notice filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, VW said it is calling back the 2009-2014 models. Additionally, VW is following in the foot of Chrysler who builds its Routan minivan and also recalling it for ignition switch problems.
* GM wrapped up last week with another five recalls bringing to 66 the total number of products it has targeted for safety-related problems this year. A total of 269,000 cars and utility vehicles are in the latest round. Check with your dealer to see if your vehicles is affected, or not.
* Automotive News reports that in the flap over how General Motors and Ford Motor Co. calculate the maximum payload ratings of their pickups, GM blinked. GM said that it no longer will omit the weight of some parts to boost the maximum payload ratings of their pickups. We reported that items were excluded from some of their pickups, such as the rear bumper or center console, to calculate maximum payload. The resulting figures are higher than would be possible if the automakers used a pickup's standard base curb weight. That revelation drew criticism that the automakers were resorting to gamesmanship to one-up each other for bragging rights and marketing claims.
*Crain's Detroit Business reports that for the first time in the automaker’s history, you can now taste a little bit of Ford Motor Co. as well as see, feel, hear and smell it. The automaker has extended rights to the Ford brand and Blue Oval in a licensing agreement with FG Restaurant Group, a Fort Myers, Fla., company that has begun opening a chain of Ford’s Garage restaurants in Florida, with hopes of expanding to sites in Southeast Michigan. Under the deal, the 1920s-themed burger and craft beer restaurant and bar -- whose signature feature is an authentic Model T suspended over the bar -- can now use Ford’s Blue Oval, historical photographs and antique vehicles, and sell other Ford merchandise at its three locations in Fort Myers, Estero and Cape Coral, Fla.