A Cool Vette

I saw the “Epic, Awesome ’63 Corvette! ” (Even better, a Fuelie!) And, yes, it was cool.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­In 1963, the Corvette was redesigned.  After almost 10 successful years of the first generation, the aging Chevy Corvette was in need of a redesign.  So, Chevrolet had their chief designers, Bill Mitchell and Larry Shinoda, design a new Vette.  The distinctively designed Corvette was made fun of by critics (now it is one of the most sought-after Corvettes ever made!  Ironic.). 

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The Corvette Sting Ray had a two-seater cabin like other Vettes, but it had a two-piece rear windshield.  The 1963 Corvette Sting Ray had engine choices ranging from a 327 cubic inch V8, to a 396 cubic inch V8, and the best, a 427 cubic inch V8.  The 396 was offered from 1964-1966.  The 327 had a very rare “Fuelie” option.  Very few Fuelies were ever made, and these pictures are actual ones I took at the American Graffiti salute (look at my previous post, “Where Were You in ’62?”) of a 1963 Corvette Sting Ray Fuelie.  The second picture may look like it has a carburetor, but it is only a massive cold-air intake! 

This particular Sting Ray has the optional AM/FM radio option, along with the standard four-speed manual.  The sloping rear deck was meant to reduce drag, and increase styling.  Larry Shinoda had the rare talent of designing beautiful cars that were very aerodynamic.  The fuel-filler is behind the rear deck. (They did this because of the fuel tank being underneath the cargo area.) 

The Fuelie Sting Ray made 250 bhp (brake horsepower), a lot less than the 375 bhp carbureted version!  Even though bigger disc brakes were available on the Fuelie, many people chose the carbureted version because of its cheaper price (the Fuelie option cost $538).  The Fuelie could be optioned with any of the normal options available on Corvettes.

Talk about a beautiful car…

Trivia moment!  Did you know that the ’63 Vette Sting Ray Fuelie could go up to 152 mph!  VROOM!

Where Were You in ’62?

That is the theme of the movie, “American Graffiti”®.  I literally went back in time, when I went to an American Graffiti® tribute parade on Sunday.  I saw so many cool old muscle cars from the ‘50’s and ‘60’s, my eyes popped like popcorn, and my brain melted and oozed through my ears!  The rumbling El Caminos roared down the road, the Mustangs trotted down the street, and the belching T-Buckets and hotrods were hot enough to kill you! 

My favorite truck was a Ford Model A pickup that had no roof!  It had ghost flames, a Chevy 400 small-block V8, and an umbrella!  Not just any umbrella!  It was also the gearshift!  Ha Ha!  At one point, the umbrella dislodged itself from its position in 2nd gear, and flew onto the windshield!  It was a good thing that it shoved the transmission into neutral!  Even though it stalled the truck, it was funny!  The driver was as cool as ever.  He just had his passenger get out and fix the umbrella.  Then, the truck started up again.    

But, the car that I really wanted was a Shelby Cobra!  The body is made by Shelby American in Las Vegas, and then transported to a facility in Fresno, where the engine and all the other parts are put in.  My friend’s dad signed up to (possibly) win a red Cobra that was stripped down.  I want the other one, which is white and blue.  They both have 427 engines, mated to a Tremec 5-speed manual.  The red one makes about 460 horsepower, the other makes 550.  They know this because they dyno-test the engines.  When the Shelby rep turned on the blue and white one, it sounded a bit slow at first, but then became faster, until it was idle speed.  Of course, idle speed is at a mere 2000 rpm.  The red one only has 875 miles on it, but that’s because it only comes out of the trailer, into the trailer…  And the occasional parade…  The other, meanwhile, has about 6548 miles on it.  That’s because it was driven to Vegas to be signed by Carrol Shelby!  The rigs that they used to tow the Cobras were a 2010 Dodge Ram 2500 with a twin-turbo Cummins diesel!  Maybe it could win a drag race in towing…  The other was a 2004 Ford Excursion with the Powerstroke diesel.  The Excursion was stock, except for a Borla exhaust system. 

But, back to the point.  There was an old Chevy business coupe that had the radio on.  This might seem normal, except for the fact that there was a song playing that sounded like somebody was murdering a cow with a butter-knife!  It sounded like:  Moowuocuouaouw…  And, the owner had stopped the car because of a stalled T-Bucket!  So, it went on for about 5 minutes! 

All these old cars were working fine, but a newer car wasn’t.  On the way out of Petaluma, there was a young man in a Honda Civic hatchback.  He was in the middle of the intersection when it stalled!  He kept jamming the tranny into reverse, 1st gear, reverse, 1st gear…  Well, you get the idea. 

Heading home on Highway 101, we saw a lot of the classics coming back from the parade.  Many of them were loud, and I saw many drivers wearing earplugs.  It was like a whole second parade!  

Here is the website.  Even though the cruise ended three days ago, I still thought that you might want to look around on the website.  http://www.americangraffiti.net/index.html

I NEED that Cobra NOW!  It is awesome!  Al the summer jobs in the world might not be enough to pay for it!  I could dog sit from here to eternity, and not have enough money!  But, then again, they’d probably charge a ridiculous price for it!    

Trivia moment!  Did you know that the Cobra 427 was the fastest car of its day?  It could accelerate from 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds!  VROOM!

Lean back for the most luxurious post yet (or ever)

LATE POST (BUT WORTH THE WAIT!) 

It all began when William Lyons was born in Blackpool, England, on September 4th, 1901 to a music store shopkeeper.  So was born the founding father of Jaguar.  In his early days, he daydreamed of motorcycles, and when he turned 18, owned an “oil-bath” Sunbeam motorcycle.  (So-called because if you revved the engine, you would get an oil-bath!)  But, what he really wanted was a Harley-Davidson or a Brough Superior (the Rolls-Royce of motorcycles).  It was almost a coincidence that the future business partner of William Lyons lived across the street.  The name of this neighbor was William Walmsley.  Walmsley had a motorcycle and Swallow sidecar. Lyons bought a Swallow sidecar to match his own Norton motorcycle. Lyons became friends with Walmsley, who was 10 years Lyons’ senior.  With some financial help from their parents, they started the Swallow Sidecar Company.  The Swallow sidecars looked very good hooked up to a Brough Superior.

 In the mid-1920’s, their business flourished, and they started a small coach-building (car making) business.  Many cars only came in black, and it was appealing to see a two-tone Swallow going down the street.  The cars became so popular that they had to move to the Midlands area ofEnglandin 1928.  They found a large supply of workers that were unemployed, so they hired them.  During this time, production went up from 12 cars a week to 50.  The Swallow’s looked much better compared to theAustin100’s that they were using.  They also re-bodied whatever cars they could get their hands on.  Many of the design themes thatLyonsused for designing Jaguars are shown in those early cars. 

 Walmsley and Lyons became well-known when they started buying chassis’ from Rubery Owen (a chassis manufacturer), and engines from Standard 16.  Of course, they manufactured their own bodywork, which was designed byLyons. 

 One funny story is of Lyons designing the roofline of their car, the S.S.1, so low that a driver of average height wouldn’t be able to fit in!  But,Lyonswent to the hospital right before the car went into production.  When he came out, he saw that Walmsley had raised the roofline a few inches. 

 Lyons remarked that the passenger compartment looked “rather like a conning tower.” 

 The Motor magazine said of the S.S. 1 “…the S.S.1 is a new type of automobile in the sense that it is a car built for the connoisseur but is relatively low priced.  All the attributes of sport models are incorporated in a refined manner, and this, coupled with a striking appearance, is bound to attract motorists of modest means.”  There has been a lot of discussion over what the S.S. means. 

 William Lyons said “There was much speculation as to whether S.S. stood for Swallow Standard or Swallow Special.” – it was never resolved. 

 Walmsley and Lyons enjoyed immense success with the S.S. 1 and 2.  But, Lyons wasn’t happy with the handling of the Standard 16, which was the base for the cars.  So, Lyons wanted a new engine.  Walmsley left S.S. cars, leaving Lyons in charge. Lyons could design cars and be a good businessman, but he couldn’t be an engineer.  So, he did the next best thing, he hired engineers.  He only hired trained and self-motivated engineers and workers. Lyonswas very impressed by what Harry Weslake was saying about engine performance.  If you put the cylinder head on the top of the engine, instead of on the side, performance from the engine would rise.  So,Lyonstried it out with an engineer, and found that horsepower rose to 103.3 horsepower, from 70! 

Lyons, having achieved success, designed the S.S.100.  It was described by Phillip Porter as “The SS 100 was the company’s first genuine sports car and to many people it remains the epitome of the stylish pre-war sports car, Lyonswas at his flamboyant best. The beautiful, flowing feline shape suggested speed and when the new 3.5 liter engine was added to the range, a car of vivid performance was the result.”  Once again, the fiendish feline ruled the roads. 

Many automakers were killed by the Great Depression, and S.S. almost went under. Lyons needed steel for his saloons (sedans), and barely managed to get by on the little resources he had. 

 During WWII, Lyons and S.S. helped out with the war efforts.  They made key aircraft components for bombers and fighters.  All engineers were on “fire-watch” (the factory was a large German target), and they would work on cars and talk.  In addition, all the workers left to go serve in the Army, leaving the engineers and Lyons to build and design by themselves.

 The war meant change for S.S. and Lyons:  The name of the line was changed to Jaguar Cars, Ltd, because there was a very unpleasant connection to the German Secret Police, with the name SS. 

During the post-war years, all British manufacturers were encouraged to export products to North America.  Jaguar found a willing market there, and Lyons once said to his Export Manager, John Morgan “ I’m not going to accept crazy marketing plans forAmerica because I don’t believe in it.  It’s a volatile market.”

 Jaguar engineer Bill Heynes assembled a team of engineers to design a new engine.  Some of the engineers in the team included:  Claude Baily and Harry Weslake. 

The 1950’s were the golden years of Jaguar.  Jaguar enjoyed great sales and racing wins.  In 1951, William Lyons agreed to start racing Jaguars.  He did that,  because, if a Jaguar won, sales would increase.  That they did.  Jaguar wonLe Mans in 1951,1953,1955, and 1957.  The 1957 win was overshadowed by a tragedy.  The Jaguar stopped on the track, and a Mercedes-Benz 300SLR crashed into the back of the Jag.  The SLR went skidding into an Austin-Healy 100, and flew into a mound, where it blew up.  The axle and engine block flew into the crowd, killing 83, and injuring 120.  Unbelievably, sales stayed the same. 

 Lyons had Heynes design a racing suspension for the XK120.  Malcolm Sayer designed the body shell.  The car that came out was called the “C-Type.”  Sayer did such a good job that he was hired by Lyons.  He then went on to design the flowing D and E-Types. 

 1955 brought a period of sadness forLyons.  His son, John, died in a car accident on the way to Le Mans. Lyonswas devastated.  Shortly after, a fire swept through the factory.  Many photos show scrapped XK120s.  Jaguar simply cleaned up the factory and went back to work.  Shortly after the fire, Queen Elizabeth toured the factory and knighted William Lyons.  He was then Sir William Lyons.  Some people found him hard to be around after the knighting. 

 In 1960, Sir William Lyons bought Daimler because of their bigger factory inCoventry.  He tried to keep producing Daimlers for a while, but failed.  A funny story happened at the 1959 New York Auto Show;  Lyons is at the ’59 Motor Show inNew York. He was approached by a Jaguar XK140 owner who told him that the heater in his car didn’t work properly. At that point, Lyons, the customer and Tony Thompson, head of US Jaguar sales, marched downstairs to the garage to settle the matter. Thompson recalls the incident: “So we went down to his car and the man said, “look, the heater doesn’t work”.

Sir William replied, “the heater does work”.

The car was started up and the car had, if you remember, a Smiths heater with two little doors on it, and a control on the dash. I smoked soLyonsasked me to light a cigarette. He held the cigarette beside the heater and the smoke very gently wafted away.

“Look,” he said, “it works perfectly”.

“But, Sir Lyons,” the man replied, “temperatures get to 15 below zero.”

“Young man,” he said, “you just put on an overcoat”.

Each and every Jaguar has a personality.  The XK6’s design can be traced back to the Mark VII of the 1950’s.  The XK can be traced to the E-Type of the 1960’s.  By the end of the ‘50’s, Jaguar needed a replacement for the aging XK150.  So, Sayers designed the E-Type.  The flowing, curvy lines made instant Jaguar lovers out of ordinary people.  This was the car that put Jaguar ahead of the competition for many years. 

 The motoring world changed for good in 1968, when Jaguar introduced the XJ6.  The XJ6 was Sir William Lyons’ last creation, and possibly his best.  Over 200,000 were sold in the first two years!  As production of the E-Type would be coming to a halt soon, Sir William Lyons had a V12 developed.  The Series III E-Type was huge success.  When the E-Type ended production, the engine served service in the XJ.  There was an XJ6 or an XJ12.  The XJ12 was very fast and loved by many.  The press promptly named it Car of the Year. 

 In 1972, Sir William Lyons officially retired, and Jaguar had to continue without him.  His house, Wappenbury Hall was half an hour from the factory, and he would often go to watch Jaguars being built. 

 His dream coupe was to be a coupe version of the XJ.  Even though it was produced 2 years after he retired, he drove many test hours in it.  His dream coupe was the XJS, it had large styling influence by Sayer, but it lacked the true Jaguar look. 

 When interviewed in 1980 by Andrew Whyte, these were some ofLyons’ reflective thoughts: “I’ve been retired officially for over eight years now, of course, but I do like to take an interest,” Sir William admits.

“It’s been my whole life after all. Many of the people who worked for me are still there. They know the standards that must be set to remain successful in the motor industry. I think there are enough determined people there, still, to keep the essential Jaguar character in the cars, yet satisfy tomorrow’s legislation worldwide. Our aim from the very start was to give the motorist pleasure. Now, more than ever, I feel that motoring should be a joy and not a chore. I still enjoy it. . . .My favorite car? Well, that’s not too difficult to answer. I was determined that the XJ specification should be right. I believe it was. I don’t think I would have changed anything much if I’d been starting again, certainly not the overall appearance-a few details here and there, maybe-but I really do feel we established something universally pleasing. It does seem to be standing the test of time, doesn’t it?”

Five years after that interview, Sir William Lyons passed away at Wappenbury Hall.  Even though he has been dead for over 20 years, his legacy remains.  If somebody tells you that their XK120 is a “true Jaguar”, then you can retort “no, it’s aLyons AND Jaguar.  Beat that.” 

As Ian Callum (the Jaguar Design Director) said of his award-winning XK, XJ, and XF, “I know that Sir William Lyons would be proud of Jaguar right now.  From what I’ve learned from Heynes and Sayer, he’d probably choose the XJ…” 

TIMELINE FOR JAGUAR.  (Look for the funny story involving carpets at the bottom!) 

 1922:  Swallow Sidecar Company was created by William Lyons and William Walmsley.

1935:  The first Jaguars are made.  They are the SS90 and SS100 sport saloons.

1943:  The Jaguar XJ6 engine is made by engineers on fire-watch during WWII.
1949:  The Jaguar XK120 is created.  It then became the XK140 and XK150.

1951:  Sir William Lyons allows Bill Henyes and Wally Hassan to complete the I6 engine.  Also, a Jaguar XK120 wins the 24 Hours ofLe Mans.

1953:  Jaguar’s winning streak continues, with yet another win atLe Mans.

1955:  Yet another win atLe Mans!   William Lyons’ son, John Lyons died heading toLe Mans.  But, William Lyons became Sir William Lyons.  He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth for his services to the British industry. 

1956:  You guessed it!  Another win!

1957:  Jaguar wonLe Mans, but there was a major crash involving a Mercedes-Benz 300SLR and Austin-Healy 100.  The accident also killed 83 people and injured 120.

1958:  Jaguar comes out with the rare and beautiful Mark IX.

1961:  The Jaguar E-Type rumbles into production.

1966:  An E-Type wins the Rally Monte Carlo.  The Jaguar XK13 is made.  It is a one-off race car designed forLe Mans.  Unfortunately, race rules change; forcing Jaguar to store the XK13.

1968:  The Jaguar XJ is produced.  It is a large luxury car with an in-line-six cylinder.  It is also the last car designed by Sir William Lyons. 

1972:  The Jaguar XJ receives V12 power, and was the fastest sedan in the world, let alone a luxury one.  Given a long stretch of straight blacktop, one can reach 140 mph! 

1975:  Malcolm Sayer designed the replacement for the iconic E-Type.  The new car was called the Jaguar XJ-S.  It was built on the same platform as the XJ sedan, it was simply a coupe version with a V12 engine. 

1985:  Sir William Lyons passes away at Wappenbury Hall (LyonsMansion).  He is remembered by many for his thriftiness, attention to detail, and shrewd businessman. 

1988:  The Jaguar XJR-9 is unstoppable at the World Sports Car Championships:  It won six out of eleven possible wins.  It also took home the driver and team trophies.  It also got Jaguar to the winners circle atLe Mans, the first time since 1957. 

1990:  Ford Motor Company steps in and buys Jaguar for $2.56 billion!  That may seem unconceivable, but one can only expect that for a luxury car manufacturer. 

1992:  Ford brought the Jaguar XJ220 to market.  The prototypes had been seen with 6.2 liter V12s under the hood, but Ford had Jaguar use a 3.5 liter V6.  The XJ220 was driven by a 542 horsepower, 3.5 liter V6.  It could go up to 217 mph!  It wasn’t even legal to drive one in theU.S. 

1996:  Jaguar used a Ford V8 in its Jaguar XK8, making that Ford V8 the first V8 in Jaguar history.  The XK8 soon exceeded sales expectations, by being the fastest-selling Jaguar in history. 

2000:  Ian Callum achieved his lifetime ambition to become a Jaguar designer.  More than 30 years before, he had seen an XJ6 in a showroom, and been intrigued. 

2008:  Elegance is Redefined:  The XK is the first new Jaguar of the millennium, bringing with it a 4.2 liter V8 and six-speed automatic transmission.  The XKR version is supercharged, and brings 420 horsepower and more speed and macho with it.  Also, the XF is introduced.  The XF is designed to compete with the BMW 5-Series.  Even though the XF’s V8 is underpowered, it is a serious competitor.  The supercharged R version is as fast, as or faster than the XKR.  Also, Tata Motors of India bought Jaguar and Land Rover. 

2010:  The Jaguar XJ is redesigned, bringing stealthiness and power with it.  It has a 5.0 liter, 385 horsepower V8 and six-speed automatic.  The XJL Supersport has a supercharged 5.0 liter, 510 horsepower V8.  It also has a six-speed automatic.  All Jaguars are updated to a 5.0 liter V8 with 385 horsepower.  There are supercharged versions with 470 and 510 horsepower, respectively.  Also, the Jaguar XKR GT2 RSR is a one-off race car for ALMS GT2.  It has a 4.7 liter, 525 horsepower V8 with a six-speed automatic. 

2011 and beyond:  Jaguar unveiled the C-X75 concept car at the 2010 Paris Auto Show.  It shows a glimpse of what future Jaguar sports cars may look like.  It is powered by an electric motor and four small turbines. 

There are some funny stories involving Sir William Lyons and/or Jaguars.  Here is a funny story:

One time, Sir William Lyons was visiting the Piccadilly showroom, when the sales manager came up to him.  ‘Excuse me, Sir William.  The carpets in the showroom are becoming very worn, and threadbare in places.  May I order new carpets?’ 

 ‘Certainly not,’ repliedLyons, ‘there is plenty of wear left in those.’ 

 That was the end of the conversation.  On a subsequent visit a month or two later, however,Lyonshappened to look down and noticed – new carpet! The unfortunate fellow was summoned.

‘I thought I told you not to replace the carpet. I thought I told you that the existing ones were perfectly satisfactory. When I give an order, I expect it to be obeyed . . .’

Lyons carried on in this vein until the fellow managed to interrupt long enough to explain that they weren’t new carpets.

‘What I have done, Sir William is to turn them round. Half of each strip was under the show cabinets at the side of the room, and therefore not worn. So now that I have reversed them the worn area is under the cabinets.’

Lyonswas silent for a few moments, as he looked around him. The young man held his breath.

‘Remarkable,’ mutteredLyons. ‘Remarkable.’

There was another pause.

‘Right, my man. I want you at Wappenbury Hall (Lyonsmansion), nine o’clock on Monday morning. You can do the same thing for me at home.”

Hold Onto Your Socks for the Most Exciting Post Yet!

GMC has had a very interesting history.  GMC has been making high-quality trucks for the past 110 years, and has been a supplier of trucks to the U.S. Government.  GM is a large automotive corporation with companies underneath GM.  The companies are:  GMC, Chevrolet, Buick, Isuzu, and Opel.  Pontiac, Saturn and HUMMER all are in the history books now. 

On December 22nd, 1901, Max Grabowsky started the “Rapid Motor Vehicle Company”, which made some of the earliest commercial trucks ever built.  Those trucks used one-cylinder engines!  Fuel efficient, yes, 0-60, 6 hours…   I’d rather push a wheelbarrow…  My lawn tractor has a bigger engine!  In 1909, General Motors bought the company, and renamed it “General Motors Truck & Coach Builder.”  In 1912, there were 22,000 trucks made by GM, 372 of them were GMC Trucks.  Out of those 372 GMC Trucks, 6 of them were chosen to be part of the GM display at the New York International Auto Show. 

In 1916, a GMC Truck crossed theUS in only thirty days. Quite a feat for a truck in 1916.  Ten years later, a two-ton GMC Truck drove fromNew York CitytoSan Franciscoin five days, thirty minutes!  WOW!  Those trips were taken as publicity stunts for GMC!  GMC hired people to drive those trucks across theU.S.

During WWII, GMC produced over 600,000 trucks for the U.S.military.  During the war years of WWII, GMC bought a controlling part of Yellow Coach; a bus maker.  In 1943, GMC purchased the remaining bit of Yellow Coach for about $100,000.   Because of increased competition in the bus market, GMC has been out of the bus business for over20 years. 

Being virtually identical to Chevy trucks, the only differences are: different grilles, more features, and better options.  Even though GMC’s are typically sold at Buick dealers, you can also find many GMC’s at a Chevrolet dealership near you.  Even though Chevy trucks usually sell better, GMC’s do sell in very large numbers. 

GMC’s lineup currently includes:

Sierra 1500

Sierra 2500

Sierra 3500

Canyon

Acadia

Yukon

YukonXL

Terrain

Savanna.

The Sierra 1500, when equipped with the right options, can tow up to 10,000 pounds.  It can also haul up to 1 ton.  There is a luxury version of the 1500 that is called “Sierra 1500Denali.”  It comes with: GM’s Quadrasteer (a system that uses all four wheels to steer), AWD, Navigation, Six-Speed Automatic, and a 6.2 liter, 403 horsepower V8. 

The Sierra 2500 shares only the GM 6-Speed Automatic with the 1500.  The 2500 has the option of GM’s “Duramax” Diesel engine, mated to an Allison Six-Speed Automatic Transmission with an overdrive.  The 2500 also can be equipped with a 6.0 liter, 360 horsepower gasoline V8 mated to a GM Six-Speed Automatic.  Recently, the “Denali” trim line was added to the model lineup for the 2500 and 3500’s alike.

The 3500 comes with the “Dually” option.  The “Dually” is has 4 rear wheels, instead of 2.  The “Dually can only come with the Duramax and Allison.  The 3500 can tow up to 17,500 pounds with a bumper trailer or 5th wheel trailer. 

The Canyon is GMC’s light-duty pickup truck.  It comes standard with a 2.9 liter, 185 horsepower four-cylinder and five-speed manual.  The other two engines that it can be optioned with are a 3.7 liter, 242 horsepower 5-cylinder, or a 5.3 liter, 300 horsepower V8.  The only automatic transmission is a four-speed automatic. 

The Acadia is GMC’s replacement for the aged Envoy SUV.  The Acadia is part of GM’s new “Lambda” SUV platform.  TheAcadiais GMC’s version of the Chevy Traverse and Buick Enclave.  TheAcadia, Enclave and Traverse come standard with a 3.6 liter, 288 horsepower V6.  That engine is mated to a Six-Speed automatic.  TheAcadiacan be optioned with AWD and 8 seats. 

TheYukon and Yukon XL are GMC’s versions of the Chevy Tahoe and Suburban.  They come with the same engines and transmissions.  The popular engine/transmission choice is the 5.3 liter, 315 horsepower V8 with the 6-Automatic.  They can be optioned with 4WD or 2WD. 

The Terrain is GMC’s first compact SUV.  It comes standard with front-wheel-drive and a 2.4 liter, 182 horsepower four-cylinder.  A six-speed automatic is standard across the whole trim line.  If you need to tow, but don’t want to have to step up to the Acadia, then the 3.6 liter, 264  horsepower V6 is a good choice.  You can then tow 5,000 pounds with the V6. 

The GMC Savanna is GMC’s only van.  That doesn’t mean, however, that the Savanna is badly optioned.  You can choose between rear-wheel-drive and AWD.  The Savanna’s top engine choice is a 6.6 liter, 365 horsepower Duramax Diesel V8.  That engine gets to enjoy a six-speed automatic with an overdrive.  You can choose between many packages and options.  The top two packages/options are the: Ambulance Package with all the Ambulance options and the Camper Package, which has any option that a hardcore recreation family can enjoy. 

As you can see, GMC offers a lot for the money; it just depends on what truck, SUV or van you want to buy.  Here is a list of the awards given to GMC’s over the years:

IntelliChoice Best Value Award 2008

Vincentric Best ¾ ton truck award 2011

2011 USNews good truck award

Internetautoguide.com Best truck award (2500 model)

Truck Trend Best Truck 2011 Award (tied with Chevy Silverado)

Coulter Motor Company Best Truck/SUV/Van maker award.

As you can see, GMC has a lot of awards under its belt.  (I hope that their pants don’t fall down [that is with the belt on]). 

GMC has also published a book; GMC; the First 100 Years.  

http://www.gmc.com/

GMC has also published a book; GMC; The First 100 Years

Porsche Gets it Right: the Iconic Logo

Even though there are many explanations of how the Porsche logo coming into being, there can only be one that is true.  Why don’t we delve into the three stories that are out there? 

According to a spokesperson from Porsche Cars North America, the Porsche logo was sketched on a dinner napkin!  Here is the story:  Max Hoffman, a very influential car distributor, met with Ferdinand Porsche to discuss the Porsche logo.  They met inManhattan,New Yorkto discuss the future logo in a diner! The discussion veered to Hoffman’s belief that Porsche needed a powerful, but elegant logo.  It also needed to be distinctive.  So, Hoffman sketched the logo, right then and there, on his dinner napkin. 

But, if you go to Stuttgart,Germany, and ask a Porsche spokesperson there, he or she will tell you something completely different:  Ferdinand Porsche certainly did ask Hoffman to help him with the logo, but Hoffman flew to Stuttgartto help!  They will tell you that the logo was designed by renowned Porsche designer, Franz Xaver Reimspiess, and certainly not drawn in Manhattan! 

According to the residents of Stuttgart, the Porsche logo is actually the coat of arms from medieval times, from the city of Stuttgart.  Yes, the Porsche logo does have the name of Stuttgart,Germany on it; it is actually referring to where Porsches are made.

What Porsche did was they drew their own logo and threw in the Stuttgartcoat of arms.  So, the residents of Stuttgart are partially true. 

Does it really matter who is right and who is wrong? Probably not. 

Here is the Porsche website, which has a virtual tour of the Porsche museum and factory!

http://www.porsche.com/usa/

What story do you think is true?  You can post a comment with your answers.

Sheep in the car and other funny stories!

My mom’s dad, “Pop” used his driving time as his thinking time.  That usually resulted in funny stories. But the good news is that he never lost his cool when driving.  Pop was an intrepid traveler who loved seeing new places.  Pop used to go Europe every summer with my mom and grandma Betty.  I have chosen to share some of his funniest car-related stories with you. 

I vividly remember when Pop was driving and we were going to go have ice cream, and we went the completely wrong direction!  But, he just shrugged it off and turned around.  After about another hour, we finally found it!  By that time, we had to get home in time for dinner, so we went a bit fast.  (But we did get to the ice cream parlor.)

One time, when my mom was about 16, they were in Arles,France.  My mom and grandma had been walking a lot in the heat of summer.  It was probably 90 degrees out, and they wanted to go back to the hotel.  So Pop went to go get the rental car, which was probably about a mile or so away.  A half an hour went by, then an hour, and then an hour and fifteen minutes.  My mom and grandma Betty started to get worried.  Then, they heard a commotion.  They looked, and there were about 50 people following Pop and laughing!  Pop had gone on a “road” that got progressively narrower, with houses on either side.  Nothing could intimidate Pop, so he kept going, until he was reached a long flight of stairs.  He stopped.  He looked.  He drove.  He drove down the flight of stairs.  All 30 of them.  Streaming behind him, like chicks following a hen, were hysterical locals and kids.  When Pop had reached the bottom of the stairs, he waved!  Then, Pop pulled up by my mom and grandma Betty and they got in!  Pop just laughed it off with them! 

Another time, they were in France, near the Spanish border.  They were in a tiny hotel in a tiny town.  My mom went to get into bed, and the sheets were wet.  So, Pop went and asked the hotel owner if he could come up and change the sheets.  After a few minutes of grumbling, the owner came up, felt the sheets, pointed at my mom (who was 16 at the time) and said “She made pee-pee on the sheets!  I will not put new sheets on!”  So, Pop told the owner in French “Monsieur, tu n’est pas gentille!”  In English, “Mister, you are not nice!”  There is a formal type of French that most French people speak out in the world, and then there is an informal family/friend version.  Pop used the informal version.  Pop told the owner that if he didn’t change the sheets, then they would leave.  The owner told them that he didn’t care if they left.  The owner went downstairs and let the air out of one of their rental car’s tire.  Pop, my mom and grandma Betty were driving along in a small town on some old cobblestones at midnight.  The car sounded like somebody was hammering a nail into a piece of pottery.  Pop said “the car is steering funny on this side.  I’m going to look at it.”  Pop pulled over.  The town was closed for the night; everybody’s lights were dark, and all the shutters were closed.  Pop found out that the tire was flat.  Pop started to change the tire.  Soon enough, a car came up.  Pop’s rental car had Spanish license plates.  Their hearts were lifting because they thought help was on the way.  But no.  A Spaniard was driving, thought they were Spanish, and asked Pop for directions.  Pop told him in French that he didn’t speak Spanish.       

Another trip, they were driving through a small town in Holland.  There were cars in one lane, and Pop was driving in another.  Suddenly, Pop realized that there were a lot of bicyclists in their lane.  Then, people started banging in the roof of their Simca rental car.  Then Pop realized that they were driving in the bike lane!  My mom was getting intense in the backseat, grandma Betty was getting intense in the passenger seat, but Pop kept on driving until he could safely merge. 

Driving along in France, Pop and grandma Betty were looking for a museum.  Pop made a right turn when he should have made a left.  He was driving towards an outdoor café.  All of a sudden, he was in it.  Pop couldn’t back up, it was too narrow.  (It’s a wonder he made it in.)  he started to thread his way through the café’s outdoor tables.  Instead of doing a normal 3-point turn, he did something like an 80-point turn.  People were cheering him on!  He went two inches forward, two inches back, etc.  Grandma Betty was freaked out but laughing!  Pop couldn’t have cared less; he simply kept on doing his 80-point turn.  When he finally got out of the café, he stuck his hand out of the window and waved it like a maestro!  (But he had directions to the museum.)   

One time, when my mom was 15, Pop, my grandma Betty, and my mom were in Wales.  They were driving by a pasture of sheep, and Pop stopped to take a picture out of the window.  My mom and grandma Betty started going “Meh-h-h-h!” back to the sheep.  Then, one very curious sheep started to climb into the car via the window.  Pop started driving without a care in the world.  Finally, after a few moments of struggling with the sheep, my mom and grandma Betty succeeded in pushing the sheep out of the car.  Can’t you just imagine a sheep hanging out of a car window?  I can!   

Another time, they were in England, and there are very high hedge groves in England.  Pop went to turn a corner, and was driving in the wrong lane!  A garbage truck was coming down the road, and my mom was freaking out and screaming “I want to live to see my 16th birthday!”  Pop waited until the last-minute to swerve, when the garbage truck was right in front of them!  The garbage truck driver looked like he had just seen a ghost!

Someday, I would like to go to Europe, but not with a driver like Pop!  What Pop lacked in driving skills, he made up for in being a good grandpa.

Definition Day!

The crankshaft is a shaft that has u-shaped cranks that take the reciprocal motion (opposite motion) of the pistons, and converts it to rotary motion that turns the wheels.  The crankshaft is a part of the engine that takes the energy of the pistons, and sends it to the drive system.