Harry Stutz, A Trailblazer on the Automotive Road

Harry C. Stutz was a very interesting man.  He was the first American automobile entrepreneur!  Here is the story of one of the most famous ‘auto-related’ Americans ever.  He was as American as Uncle Sam, baseball, or apple pie.  That’s about as American as you can get! It makes me proud to think that many automakers started out American, or with American CEO’s.

Harry C. Stutz was born in 1876 to John and Wilma Stutz, on a farm a few miles outside of Indianapolis, Indiana.  Cool trivia: John Stutz was a Polish Jewish immigrant who met his wife on Ellis Island while waiting to immigrate to the United States.  They were married on the ferry boat!  From a very early age, Harry was interested in mechanical items. When he was 12, his father had him work on the farm equipment. Sometime around 1887, his father bought a John Deere tractor.  Harry was intrigued, and soon built a tractor of his own, using random parts from around the farm.

Around 1911, Harry graduated from college with a degree in engineering.  Soon after, he started the Ideal Motor Car Company, which was based out of Indianapolis.  Eleven months later, he renamed it the Stutz  Motor Car Company.

It wasn’t until Harry had renamed the company that it became well known.  The Stutz Bearcat was the fastest car of it’s time, that was in production.  With a center of gravity that was low enough to prevent rocks and debris from flying off to the sides.  It had a 10.3 liter V8 that put out more than 240 horsepower!  Most V6’s make that, but they have direct injection, variable valve timing (VVT), and other goodies.  With it’s powerful V8, the Stutz Bearcat would often be seen flying down the road, at speeds in excess of 90 mph!  VROOM!

In 1920, Harry got the idea into his head to sell the Stutz Motor Car Company to Charles M. Schwab, and two other investors.  In 1919, Harry had created the Stutz Fire Engine Company, and the H.C.S Motor Car Company.

In 1929, he formed the Stutz-Bellanca Airplane Company.  During the Great Depression, the Stutz-Bellanca biplanes were used by the U.S. Army Air Corps, because of their sturdiness and cheapness to operate.  According to F.D.R, “12,000 Stutz biplanes cost the U.S. around $5,000 (now about $34,000).  It’s good to keep our boys flying.”

For a long time, the Stutz Motor Car Company was a parts supplier to the U.S. Army for the VIP’s.  In 1970, Stutz came out with their first new car in over 70 years.  It was called the Stutz Blackhawk came out.  Wanna see a picture of this beauty?  I thought so.  Stutz Blackhawk FVr   (1982)

The sleek, flowing lines of the Stutz Blackhawk show a hint of Jaguar’s, Lincoln’s, Caddy’s, and Ferrari’s!  In fact, the car was so luxurious that Elvis Presley was the first buyer.  The flowing Blackhawk remained in production until 1987.  It used a 400 horsepower, 5.9 liter V8 that borrowed many parts from Cummins Diesel.

Today, the building where the Stutz Bearcat was built is now called the Business Center.  It has offices and studios for over 100 Indianapolis designers, artists, and entrepreneurs.  There is a small area where there is a Bearcat being assembled.  There is a large plaque telling the world of Harry Stutz’s great invention.

In 1997, when the Automotive Hall of Fame was moved to Dearborn Michigan, Harry Stutz was the first Inductee to be inducted on the new site.  Harry is Inductee #14.

The Beginning of the Big Bucks!

Hi there, I am truly sorry that I haven’t posted this last week.  I’ve been loaded down with more than mountains of homework.  So I figured I’d try and make this exciting as compensation for the week off.

I know that the holidays won’t start for a while, but it’s time to start thinking of buying presents.  So, I found a present that y’all can pool your money together so I can have this as a present.  Think that you could get one for me?  Pretty Please?  Newell P2000i RV

This fine example of the Newell P2000i RV.  It is a very expensive, large apartment, amd it happens to be on wheels (as you can see).  This pristine 2011 model belongs to PGA golfer Rory Sabbatini.  All of the options on this bus amounted to a mere $314,950!  I guess when you have that much money, a few hundred thousand isn’t even a dent in your yearly income.

The buses are built in Mickey Mantle’s hometown; Miami, Oklahoma.  The factory is a 120,000 square foot warehouse smack-dab in downtown Miami.  There are 11 stations where the hand built buses are assembled.  The 60-foot paint booth will paint your bus however you like it, as long as it doesn’t involve a color mural of a naked woman.  If you look closely at this picture, you will see that there is a small mural of mountains (it reminds Sabbatini about his hunting hall up in Oregon.

The massive Cummins Diesel engine is 15,948 (16 liters) CC, and puts out 650 horsepower and 1950 foot-pounds of torque.  Yes, you heard that right: 1950 foot-pounds of torque!  The engine alone weighs 1349 pounds and is rear-mounted.

The interior is custom-built however you like it.  The normal entertainment options are a flat-screen HD TV, Sony DVD/MP3 player, and Bang & Olufsen audio system.  And that’s just standard!

A normal galley has an oven, sink, garbage compactor, and two-burner stove.  Should you wish for a larger galley, a four-burner stove is available, but at the expense of cabinet space.

The laundry area has a standard Whirlpool Cabrio washing machine/dryer combo.  There are cabinets to store laundry supplies and laundry.

The living area.  The living area is in the entertainment room, but you can move it wherever you like it.  The standard bed is a king-size bed, with folding cots.  There is also a Murphy bed floor plan! Look out!   I knew that I shouldn’t have asked for one of those stupid Murphy bed floor plans!  They always hit you on the head when you turn!

Newell makes 24 coaches annually.  20 for customers, 4 for demonstrations.  Recently, the Sultan of Brunei had a customized Newell coach built with carbon-fiber flooring, movie-screen size HD TV, an altar, a full bathroom, and a Wii, XBox 360, Mac Pro, and two king-size Murphy beds!  His coach cost $2.76 million!

Ready for my dream Newell?  I CAN dream, right?  Ready?  I thought you might not be…

My Newell coach would have the floor plan F4, 45-foot length, optional Three-TV entertainment system (one small TV in the bathroom, one large TV in the entertainment room, and one large TV in the bedroom, all HD TVs), carbon-fiber countertops, wood-burning stove in the entertainment room, and, since most owners tow a car, a custom-built trailer by Featherlite Trailers, and a very good navigation system (when you’ve got something 45 feet long, you really DON’T want to have to do a u-turn!).  The car that I would tow on my Featherlite trailer would be a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport!  VROOM! Oh, and I would LOVE to have a Mac Pro in the galley!  You just never know when you might need it…

So you can have a house, or this beauty.  I choose this!

The website for Newell coaches is:  http://www.newellcoach.com/flash.html

Ferdinand Karl Piech; one of the greatest entrepreneurs of the auto industry.

Ferdinand Karl Piech is one of a handful of accomplished businessmen/engineers in the auto industry.  He is on the board of Volkswagen, and one of the chief engineers for Porsche.  He was the CEO of Volkswagen, Chairman of the Board for VW, chief engineer at Audi, and Chief Racing Engineer for Porsche.  SLACKER!!!  He is a ruthless man, firing any “idiot that makes the same mistake twice.”  The big-eared, stick-skinny, balding 74-year-old may not look like he’s done a lot, but you will be pleasantly surprised when you see how much he HAS done.

Born in 1937 to fabulous wealth, to one of Ferdinand Porsche’s sons, Ferdinand Karl Piech knew that he liked cars from the moment his father bought a Volkswagen Beetle in 1941. He loved its cute lines, and small, but get-the-neighbors-mad, 1594 CC engine.  Piech graduated from the ETH Zürich, in Switzerland, with a degree in mechanical engineering.

In 1963, Piech was hired by Porsche to work on their racing program.  The brilliant, dyslexic engineer soon came up with a 3.0 liter naturally aspirated V8 that made close to 850 horsepower and 630 pound-foot of torque.  He made a fortune within one F1 season when his engine propelled the Porsche 906 to 37 out of 40 victories.  All of the victories were first-place finishes!  A couple of F1 seasons later, a Porsche executive came up to the 28-year-old Piech, and had him start working on the hugely successful Porsche 917.  A few months later, Piech was in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the world’s youngest millionaire.

Eight years later, “the wing-nut eared”*, slightly balding 36-year-old engineer moved to Audi.  He immediately started working on the Audi 80.  Not long after, he started work on the Audi 100.  He then helped with the concept and production cars.

For Piech’s 40th birthday, he had a gala event at the Porsche Hotel, with geniuses such as Giorgio Giarguetto (founder of Pininfarina).  When the birthday cake was brought out, Piech was crying:  The cake was an Audi 80, that was constructed out of marzipan, and 16 inches long!

Later that year, Piech started work on what would become the Audi Quattro.  He firmly believed in the five-cylinder engine.  When the Audi Quattro came into production, it was the fastest car that ever went into the World Rally Championships.  It had a turbocharged five-cylinder engine that made over 510 horsepower in some iterations.  As the British car magazine, Top Gear, put it, “It’s @*@%^!# fast, macho-cool, and epic…).

When Piech (through Volkswagen) bought Rolls-Royce and Bentley, he was denied the use of the name Rolls-Royce on any new luxury vehicles.  In a rage, Piech put Rolls-Royce back onto the stock market, where BMW bought an 96% share (Now they have 100%).

In the 1990’s, Piech was instrumental in keeping the remaining bits of Bugatti Automobiles SAS, around.  Thus, the Bugatti EB110 was born.  Faster than the Jaguar XK220, Lamborghini Countach, and the Ferrari 575 Maranello, the EB110 made anybody lucky enough to buy and drive one feel like a man again.

Two decades later, the Bugatti Veyron was introduced at the Geneva Auto Show.  With a 1,001 horsepower, 922 foot-pound of torque 8.0 liter W16 engine, it persuades pedestrians NOT to jaywalk, and wait until there’s a red light.  Just so they can stare those extra five seconds at those headlights coming closer at 253 mph.  I’m sorry, I REALLY don’t want to give you nightmares!

In 2002, the Automobile journalist, George Kacher made peace with Piech after years of bickering.  When a few journalists were invited to take a prelaunch drive of the VW Phaeton in Abu Dhabi, Piech told George “Keep your foot down.  It’s all paid for.”  When he said that, Kacher had his foot planted on the floor, with the Phaeton going an indicated 186 mph.  Piech’s fourth wife, Uschi Piech was giggling in the passenger seat as moped riders were giving them rude hand gestures!

Piech is the father of twelve children, from four different wives.  Three of his sons are into racing.  One is an instructor for the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, another is a mechanic for the Flying Lizard Porsche 911 racing team.  The other is a mechanic for VW’s rally teams.  The other four sons have various jobs.  This leaves Piech’s five daughters.  I think that the most notable job of one of his daughters is working as a paramedic for the Nurburgring Racetrack!

Some of the cars that Piech and Uschi own are: two 2009 Bugatti Veyrons, one Bentley Mulsanne, an Audi Quattro, an Audi TT RS, and a Rolls-Royce Corniche.  By the way, the Veyrons are used as daily drivers by Piech and Uschi!  Piech’s odometer on his Veyron just reached 70,000 miles!

*Thank You, Automobile Magazine!

Who Wants to Play “Red-light, Green-light?”

The Traffic Light.  Some might call it the greatest invention of traffic control.  Others might call it a pain in the @$#.  I call it one of the greatest inventions of traffic control.  I had a LOT of fun researching the history of the traffic light!  Uh-oh, I see an amber light ahead…

In 1920, Detroit, Michigan, police officer, William L. Potts got frustrated at the number of cars that would go zooming through the intersection, on many occasions nearly missing a pedestrian.  He devised a signal that had railroad lights that were: green, amber and red.  He then took an old telegraph pole and put the lights on it.  Needing to have power to make the lights flash, he took electrical wiring and hooked it up to the electrical supply for his house.  That was the first electrical traffic signal that the world knew.  It was installed on the corner of Woodward and Michigan avenues in downtown Detroit.

This is what the first traffic signal looked like: Potts Traffic Light photo courtesy The Henry Ford, Greenfield Village.

Before long, there were traffic signals all over Detroit, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and San Francisco.  Police officers had an easier time controlling traffic, and pedestrians were able to cross the street without having to go across with a coffin and a shovel!

Are you ready for a cool traffic fact?  I thought so.  Do you know what the percentage of drivers do when they see an amber light? Well, 85% of them DON’T know what to do.  That leaves about 10% who DO know what to do.  The final 5% usually get it right 47% of the time.  The other 53% of the time, they get a ticket.  Today, most people hit the brakes suddenly, or floor it.  What you are SUPPOSED to do is slow down, unless you have control of the intersection.  Then, you can floor it…  The red light happens 10 seconds later.  So you can’t go suing me if you go through an amber light turning red, while reading this post, AND get a $1000 ticket for going through a red light while on your cell-phone!

Today, traffic lights have evolved from the humble beginnings of railroad lights to LED lighted traffic lights that are computer driven!  Preposterous…