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Millbrook GM European Proving Grounds

European Proving Grounds Millbrook is a 700 acre facility about 40 miles north of London with test tracks and testing facilities for aerospace, military, vehicle production, driver training (Aston Martin), and real-time online vehicle tracking. Here is link to the Millbrook website. Construction began in 1968 for a smaller version …

Auto Body Tems

Automotive Body Terms Every automotive professional has been challenged by their lack of knowledge regarding this particular terminology. Complications arise when the same parts and sub-assemblies are referred to with different names even if everyone speaks English. Furthermore, every automotive technical professional has been frustrated by their lack of knowledge …

Low Speed Vehicles – Neighborhood Electric Vehicles

  LSV Low Speed Vehicles and NEV Neighborhood Electric Vehicles represent a classification for a Federally approved street-legal vehicle that is speed limited to 25 mph.  This United States Department of Transportation [USDOT] legislation was put into effect by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard [FMVSS] 500 in 1998.  Simply put, NEV’s represent a …

Auto Battlefront 2011

Cruze, Focus & Elantra, The 2012 Models King Kong vs Godzilla vs Smog Monster — An epic battle is in the works for 2011 and it is definitely not some of my favorite from the classic 1950-1960’s sci-fi mega-characters. Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra are the three 2012 models that are on the …

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Two New ZL-1 Camaros in 1969

In 1969 the ZL-1 did not have badging but the 2012 ZL-1 does.

Rosenthal Chevrolet 1969

I was helping to work my way through college as a mechanic at Rosenthal Chevrolet from 1968-70.

Two New ZL-1 Camaros

Rosenthal got two (2) 1969 ZL-1 Camaros.  One was sold and the other car was parted out.  Yes, the second car did not sell so the decision was made to replace the engine and transmission in the remaining car and sell the car.

The Details

Rosenthal was big into racing and high performance at that time.  Gene Altizer (a racer) was the shop foreman who also did put his hands on transmissions.  Mousie Brown (also a racer) if memory serves me correctly did the workover on the ZL-1.  What is most memorable was the Last Drive of the ZL-1.  Mousie aggressively drove the ZL-1 in our large service area.  The F70 x 14 raised white letter tires could not handle the power.  It was fitting for this car to have its true character demonstrated, by a professional, before its dismemberment.  This one and only demonstration of the power and performance of this special car is something that represents a cherished memory.It has been reported that 12 cars had the engines removed.  This car would logically be one of the 12.

Final Thoughts

Yenko Chevrolet and Baldwin Motion Chevrolet built their own 427 powered 1969 Camaros

I have many memories of these 2 cars and many other great products in that era.  Specific reason for this post is to relate my recollections associated with these very special cars.  One car that was sold and one car that was effectively parted out by replacing the engine and transmission to sell the car and then to sell the ZL-1 engine and transmission independently.

 A Ghost Remembered

Of the two cars, the one that I remember best was the one that was in the Rosenthal showroom.  It was a “plain vanilla” silver with black interior Camaro ZL-1.  It sat s;ightly higher and squarer than the other 69’s which would be consistent with the heavy duty big block springs and lighter weight of the all aluminum 427.  Basic hub caps provided an appearance reminiscent of the 1963 Biscayne 409.No center console for the four speed floor shift.  It did have the cowl induction hood, however.  And, a placard board on top of the car proclaiming All Aluminum 427 with 550 Horsepower.  If memory serves me correctly,  the window sticker price was around $7,700.

These were very special cars.

Here is a road test on the 1969 ZL-1 Camaro.

Auto Battlefront 2011

2012 Ford Focus

Cruze, Focus & Elantra, The 2012 Models

King Kong vs Godzilla vs Smog Monster — An epic battle is in the works for 2011 and it is definitely not some of my favorite from the classic 1950-1960’s sci-fi mega-characters.

Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra are the three 2012 models that are on the front line of the 2011 car market.  They are all great passenger sedans that can get 40 miles per gallon in Standard (Elantra) or Eco versions (Cruze & Focus).

2011 Chevrolet Cruze

Something significant is going on with these three cars.  They offer comfort, luxury, perfornce and fuel economy.   They finally represent an opportunity for the American Consumer to get a high quality smaller car that gets very good economy.

40 MPG is the New 30 MPG

With today’s gas prices heading into orbit then lots of MPG sounds good to anyone that reads this column.  How high will the price of gas go?  Well, right now you could pay about $8 per gallon in Europe. 

2012 Hyundai Elantra

Cruze ECO Gets 58 MPG

Reported 0n the Motley Fool web site February 20, 2011 that it was No Magic Hybrid but they got 58 mpg out of a Cruze Eco when driving at a constant 55 mph.  This is significant.  Historical EPA Mileage Ratings and then the 2008 revised EPA Mileage Ratings are said to be very suspect when providing a real mileage number. 

Now the next question is … what sort of mileage do these cars really get?  The Cruze Eco EPA is 42 mpg.

Looking Forward to an Epic Battle

Focus, Cruze and Elantra  will be the most important mainstream cars in 2011.  It will be interesting to watch what happens with the sales and marketing associated with each. 

King Kong, Godzilla and the Smog Monster

More interesting however, will be to watch what happens with the auto press and their comparisons and reviews associated with this epic battle.  If the car business were to be compared to the B-Movies of Sci-Fi it would definitely equal King Kong vs Godzilla and the Smog Monster.

Electric Car Battery Pack Cost

March 3, 2011 Electric Cars No Comments

Calculate Battery Pack Cost

We have been provided with information that permits the cost for the battery packs in the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan LEAF to be calculated. 

Mr. Pat Davis, head of vehicle technologies at the Department of Energy indicated that the cost of batteries in electric cars today runs about $800 per usable kilowatt hour.

Nissan LEAF battery pack shown at Ride and Drive event.

The Volt has an 8 kWh battery pack so the price calculates to approximately $6,400.  The LEAF has a 22 kWh battery pack which means that it costs about $17,600. 

GM Battery Pack Construction

Mr. Davis indicates that the DOE expects battery costs to drop by more than half, to around $300 per kWh by 2015. This number would bring the cost down in a Volt to $2,400, and $6,600 for the Nissan LEAF.

Volt and Leaf Test Drives

January 26, 2011 Auto Manufacturer No Comments

 

Volt and Leaf Automobiles

Simply put, these are two superior cars.  A test drive of both cars reveal that they are both are great drivers with great technology.

Leaf is a pure electric with a 100 mile target range.  Volt can go about 40 miles on electric and then indefinitely on gas.

These are the cars for today and tomorrow.

Flood Damaged Vehicles

November 18, 2009 Dealerships & Salvage 1 Comment

Flood Damaged Cars Are In The News

Submersion IllustrationThere have been a lot of floods lately. 

In reality there are always annual floods and these floods result in a lot of vehicles that have been damaged by partial or full immersion.

Flood Titles and Salvage Titles

Depending on the State, a post flood vehicle may end up with a Salvage Title or a Flood Title.  Each State has their own laws and regulations associated with flood damaged vehicles and quantification of associated damage.

The Simple Answer

If you are considering purchase of a flood damage vehicle then research your State’s laws and regulations associated with water damage.  You must know precisely what the title information means.

Not So Simple Answer

Water Damaged Corvette on Craigslist

Water Damaged Corvette on Craigslist

If the car you are considering has been water damaged then Please Exercise Extreme Care before you decide to buy the car.  Be sure and pull a CARFAX report.  Carfax is not the single answer but it may provide a history that will help you to get a better understanding of what happened to the vehicle.

Where Are The Problems

Flood damage vehicle restoration requires attention to detail.  Here is a link to a firm and their report concerning service of a Ford Focus in the UK that serviced the car.  This is very detailed and addresses their concerns and how they approached the problem.

Here are some key elements to consider:

  • total submersion to just the floor pan
  • fresh water or salt water
  • contaminates in water
  • was the car “dried out”
  • were the connectors corrosion protected

 The Real Problem

Water Damaged Corvette on Craigslist

Water Damaged Corvette on Craigslist

Electronics and connectors are the real problem.  Submersion of the chassis, engine, transmission, and drive train have historic repair procedures that absolutely work.

Electrical and electronic components, connectors, and wires are the real probmem.  Corrosion is defined as deterioration in metals by oxidation or chemical action.  Corrosion occurs because water gets into the wiring.  In a flood damaged car water will get into contact with the components and the wires.

If it is possible to disassemble the connectors, wires, and components and dry them out and then use a corrosion proofing product such as CorrosionX then corrosion will be reduced and possibly eliminated.

Water can migrate inside the wiring harness of a car.  If water gets into the wiring harness then the wiring harness may have to be replaced.  This is very expensive because some vehicle body wiring harnesses can approach $1,ooo and engine wiring harnesses in the range of $500.  If a vehicle requires harness replacement do not be surprised if you find that supplemental harnesses are required to connect to other parts and areas of the car.

Reality Check and Harsh Words

MSN Article has a very good assessment about flood damaged cars.  It is definitely worth review.

Personal Reality Check

Any vehicle that you are considering purchase should be considered suspect!  Flood damaged cars are not always identified as being flood and water damaged.  A very thorough inspection is essential.  A very thorough inspection by a vehicle technical inspection service or individual is essential.

Lots and Lots of Cars at Copart

1200+ Flood Vehicles (Medium)Automotive Tribune has previously discussed Copart and the fact that they have a very significant presence in the automotive industry.  On a recent visit to Copart I picked up the flier that indicated 1200+ flood damaged vehicles were available in Atlanta.  Flood damaged cars included a Ford GT, 2008 Corvette, a new Audi, and a 2007 550S Mercedes just to name a few.

Flood Damaged Motor Coaches

I have inspected flood damaged motor coaches.  These can be particularlly difficult, if not impossible, to fix. 

Craigslist Flood Damaged Corvette

CORVETTE 1998 TRIPLE BLACK CONVERTABLE – $12000  I bought this car for my wife in 2000, we are the 2nd owners, it was a prior GM Lease, in 2001 my wife drove it in a flooded intersection and sucked water in the air intake, the insurance company replaced the motor and transmission, it has only had 10k miles since then, call me for additional details.  This triple black Corvette showed 9,661 miles on the odometer.

Bottom Line

Flood damaged cars are very suspect.  These cars are not recommended for the consumer that expects dependability of a normal vehicle.  Any new or used vehicle purchase needs to be made carefully!  Owning a flood damaged car can cost you thousands of dollars to repair and it is unlikely that the car can or will every be fully repaired if the car was totally submerged!

Barrett Jackson Las Vegas 2009

October 26, 2009 Everything Else No Comments

Collector Cars Are Hot

October 8-9-10 the Mandalay Bay Resort was host to the Barrett Jackson Auction at Las Vegas.  This was broadcast on Speed Channel for 19 hours.

Auto auctions are always interesting to watch.  They provide a great deal of information about what the market currently is for collector cars.

This particular three day auction was no exception for market conditions.  Here is the “Official” Top Sales list.  Top seller was a 64 Shelby Cobra that went for $400,000 + a 10% buyer’s commission which brought the total to $440k.

It was interesting to note that two very nice Austin Healey 3000’s, a 65 and 67 sold for $77k and $79k respectively.  One of the best prices that I saw was a 2000 Ferrari 360 that went for $77k.

Custom Car Big Money

Top Sellers2Custom cars brought tremendous money at this auction. One thing is for sure, originality is not an absoulte requirement for big bucks.  Superb craftsmanship and appearance in the Custom Car category brings major money.

Budget Money

Spending some time with the auction results reveals that the lowest sale price was $2,200 for a 1976 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham 4 Door Sedan.  Maybe these details will excite you or put you to sleep:

Summary: Original and clean with 47,000 original miles. Equipped with a 500cid engine and automatic transmission. Air conditioning has been upgraded and works great, full power everything. Interior is excellent, with plush moist leather and working 8-track.

Top Sellers1Details: Original, clean Cadillac with 47,000 original miles. Equipped with the 500cid engine and automatic transmission. Air conditioning has been upgraded and works great, full power everything and even has the original working 8-track with the Beatles in, ready for play. New tires, hoses, new brake cylinders and new brakes. Reliable transportation and looks great. The interior is still moist leather, excellent and well above expected wear for a vehicle of this age. All stainless trim is intact and the fender skirts are also there on both sides.

Serious Money

At the other end of the sale spectrum was the 65 Shelby Cobra 289.  Here is the data, compliments of Barrett Jackson, for your review:

Shelby CobraSummary: CSX2568 has the original CA black plates and registration tags that expired in 1972. This is the first time CSX2568 has been in the public in about 40 years and the first time it has been offered for sale since 1968. Fresh complete, correct restoration.

Details: CSX2568 has the original California black license plates with the original registration tags that expired in 1972. This is the first time that CSX2568 has been in the public in almost 40 years, during which time it has been in dry and covered storage. This is the first time the car has been offered for sale since 1968. The original California title pink slip comes with the car. It has zero miles on a 2-year concours restoration of what was already a complete, unbent and not rusty car. Complete nut, bolt and rivet body-off restoration to bare metal with new top and upholstery. Extensive documentation of the restoration with photos, etc. conducted by one of the top restorers in California. Princess Blue with red leather interior that are the original colors. 32,831 original miles on a car that has never been more than 100 miles from San Francisco, until this auction. Never raced, never any rust whatsoever and never bent. Original owner was Jacuzzi of the hot tub fame. Completely redone 289cid High Performance engine with 306hp. When originally delivered to the California dealer, the original 271hp stock engine in the car received the dealer installed 306hp option which consisted of a Holley 715cfm center pivot carburetor, a Cobra high rise manifold, tubular Balanger headers and an aluminum Cobra 6-quart oil pan, all of which are still on this as-originally-equipped car. Original style Dunlop racing tires on chrome Borranis, original chrome wires come with the car. All numbers on chassis, engine, transmission and differential are correct and original. **VEHICLE IS TITLED WITH ENGINE NUMBER**

Ferrari 360If you happen to have a collector car or are interested then look through the complete sale list and prepare yourself!  This is very educational.  One car that caught my attention was a 1975 Bricklin SV-1.  All things considered the car sold for a very modest price.  I had an opportunity to drive a new Bricklin SV-1.  It was a memorable road test!  Not because of speed, that was never part of the road test.  Stopping at a major car dealership, opening the gull wing doors, and getting out was the most memorable!

Scottsdale Arizona January 18-24

If you are into auctions, then be sure to schedule some time for the Scottsdale Arizona Auction coming up in January.  This show gets the real big bucks.

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Richard Kubis Explains Solar Thermal Hybrid Automobile