Maserati to the Seventh Power

Beautiful, fast, and sporty.  The definition of a Maserati.  As we all know, Maserati is one of the best automakers in the world that offers cars that you can actually afford (all right, maybe not in our current economical state, and if the comparison occurs with a Fiskar-KArma, Bugatti or high end Ferrari).  They are more fun to drive and ride in (personal experience) than some Porsches, and are really cool.  They have cars ranging from $120,000 to $170,000.  Are you ready to hear about the long history of Maserati? Well, I’ll take that as a yes.

Rodolfo and Carolina Maserati had seven sons (!) : Carlo (1881), Bindo (1883), Alfieri (1885-1885).  Since poor Alfieri died at only five months of age, Rodolfo and Carolina decided to  name their next son Alfieri (1887-1953) after him.  After Alfieri #2, they had Mario (1890), Ettore (1894), and Ernesto (1898).  All of the Maserati brothers except for Mario (who was the artist that designed the iconic Maserati Trident) were involved in the engineering, design, and construction of cars.

Carlo moved from his hometown of Bologna, Italy to Affori (near Milan) to work in a bicycle factory.  During his free time, he designed and built a small, single-cylinder engine.  Carlo was wooed away from the small factory to Carcano bikes.  There, he raced Carcano bikes with the engine that he designed.  While there, he won a few races and set a record for 50km/h (31 mph).

In 1901, Carlo moved from Carcano to Fiat, and two years later, he landed a job for the rest of his life at Isotta Fraschini.  Because he was a test driver and a mechanic, he was able to get Alfieri #2 a job there as a backup test driver, despite the fact that he was only 16.  Carlo had a brilliant, yet short career, dying at the young age of 29 in 1910.  But, by that time, Carlo had worked and raced for Bianchi, become General Manager of Junior, and started his own workshop with Ettore, where they made high and low voltage electrical transformers for cars.

In 1908, Alfieri #2 soon emerged as Carlo’s spiritual successor.  He had the same extroverted personality, and the same (if not better) skills as Carlo as a driver and technician.  Also, Isotta Fraschini gave Alfieri a car of his own to race.  Alfieri did well, taking 14th place overall in the 1909 Grand prix for Voiturettes in Dieppe, despite his carburetor leaking gasoline.  In the meantime, Bindo and Ettore had also joined Isotta Fraschini.  In 1912, Alfieri was put in charge of the customer service division of Isotta Fraschini, after having represented the company in Argentina, England, and the USA.  He soon hired Ettore as assistant manager of the customer service division of Isotta Fraschini.

Because of the wide-ranging experiences that he had accumulated through his career, Alfieri convinced himself that it was time to start a company of his own. He wanted to explore his talents and creativity to their fullest extent.  It worked.  Officine Alfieri Maserati was founded on December 1, 1914.

After WWI, Maserati moved from their bombed-out offices in Via de Pepoli (in Bologna) to brand-new offices in the suburbs outside of Bologna.  The Maserati brothers’ main activity was making Isotta Fraschini cars better (more power, better handling, etc).  Of course, to earn more money, they worked on other cars.  Since Alfieri had begun his career as a race-car driver, he kept on racing tuned Isotta Fraschinis.  Diatto offered him a chance to design and race cars with them.  He took them up on the racing part.

Unfortunately, in 1924, after having dominated the San Sebastiano Grand Prix, he was banned from racing for five years, even though he had retired from the race the day before.  The ban was to last five years, but Alfieri begged hard enough, and the ban was lifted after only four months.

When he wasn’t racing, Alfieri could be found in the shop tuning a Isotta Fraschini for a customer or simply building his own cars.  In 1926, the grueling 18 hours every day in the shop payed off, and the first Maserati, the Tipo 26, proudly bore the Maserati Trident.  Just to prove how good his car was, Alfieri Maserati drove the car himself for the 1926 Targa Floria.  The Tipo 26 won in its class.  The Maserati was born and out in the world.

The following year, Alfieri was sidelined after a serious accident involving a Mercedes-Benz.  But, even with the great driver sidelined for that race, Ettore won the Italian Constructors’ Championship.  Two years later, just to stick their tongue out at the Germans, the Maserati V4 was created.  With a massive 10.3 liter V16 producing in excess of 500 horsepower, the V4 dominated the Italian Grand Prix while setting the the world Class C record at 152.5 mph for 10 km.

In 1931, the 4CTR and the front-wheel-drive 8C 2500 came out.  The 8C 2500 was the last car to be designed by Alfieri Maserati, who died on March 3, 1932.  A crowd of well over 15,000 attended his funeral in Bologna, including factory workers, race-car drivers, friends, family, and just ordinary people who came to mourn the great man who had done so much to promote his company and himself.  However, Alfieri’s death did not even come close to discouraging the Maserati family.  Bindo quit his job at Isotta Fraschini to race at Maserati.  His brothers Ettore and Ernesto took care of business, production, and management.

The following year, in 1933, one of the world’s greatest racers, Tazio Nuvolari joined Maserati as head of the racing division.  He made a significant technical contribution to Maserati – adapting the current chassis to the characteristics of the new 3.0 liter in-line eight cylinder engine.  To prove just how good it was, he drove it to three first place victories at: the Belgian Grand Prix, Nice, and Montenero.  Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union weren’t happy with just second and third-place finishes – they wanted first.  So, they started an assault on the racing scene that lasted until WWII.  This assault was backed by the Nazis.  Of course, this made life very difficult for Maserati, yet they kept winning smaller, national races.

Even though the Maserati brothers didn’t need the extra money, they sold all their shares to the Orsi family in Modena, Italy.  The company moved from Bologna to the now quite historic headquarters on Viale Ciro Menotti in Modena, Italy.  The Maserati brothers stayed on as chief engineers until 1948.

In 1939 and 1940, Maserati won the Indianapolis 500 with Wilbur Shaw at the wheel of the Maserati 8CTF.  To this day, Maserati is the only Italian automaker to have ever won the Indy 500 once, let alone twice.

During WWII, Maserati helped with the war effort, making machine tools, electrical components, spark plugs for tanks, and electric vehicles for the Axis.  Maserati also attempted to build a V16 car for Benito Mussolini, but the plans were scrapped when Ferry Porsche of Volkswagen built one for Adolf Hitler, and Mussolini never got his V16 towncar because the Volkswagen factory was bombed.  However, Maserati returned to their original activities after the war, making the GT race-car; the A6G CS.  The car did well on the post-war racing scene, bringing in some important victories such as the: 1949 Modena endurance race (where it debuted), and some local races on dirt tracks.

Maserati was desperately in need of a new Chief Engineer, and Gioacchino Colombo was the man for the job.  He retuned the A6GCM, making it THE car to beat for the 1953 racing scene, despite tough competition from Ferrari, Talbot, Mercedes-Benz, and other racing companies.

In 1957, the great Maserati racing driver won the fifth World Title in a row (the first time for Maserati), in the Maserati 250F.  This historic win at the Nürburgring in 1957 is considered by very many racing historians to be one of the greatest drives in the history of auto-racing.

Even though Maserati officially announced that they were retiring from racing in 158, they kept making iconic race-cars like the Birdcage for private teams.  They also supplied Formula 1 racing engines to other companies who had bodies and transmissions, but not engines.  The Birdcage was such a good race-car that the Camoradi racing team with such legendary drivers as: Sir Stirling Moss (when he was still Stirling Moss), Carroll Shelby, Masten Gregory, and Dan Gurney all taking turns behind the wheel at different races.  A little-known fact about Carroll Shelby is his last race was at the wheel of a Birdcage!  He then went off to start a world-known performance company.  Maserati would encounter stiff competition from the Shelby Cobra.

In 1958, Maserati came out with their first road car ever; the 3500 GT.  This car helped start a very important, new era for Maserati.  Because of this, Maserati’s main goals were sales of road and race-cars, and the plant was consequently expanded by 20,000 square feet.  In 1962, Maserati decided to dive into these new waters, and the Maserati Sebring was born.  The following year, the first modern sports sedan, the Quattroporte, was on lots.  Soon after the Quattroporte, the Maserati Mistral Coupé and Mistral Spider were introduced in 1963, and 1964, respectively.  In 1967, Maserati introduced the Ghibli Coupé, and two years later a convertible was on dealer lots.

The year 1968 brought big changes for Maserati.  Citroën bought Maserati.  Three years later, Maserati introduced the first mass-produced mid-engine Maserati; the Maserati Bora.  The same year, a Maserati-engined Citroën SM won the Morocco Rally.  Soon after, the Maserati Merak and the Maserati Khasmin came into production.  Maserati’s were in high demand then, but the Yom Kippur War of 1973 and the resulting oil crisis almost killed Maserati.  However, Maserati had enough courage to build the Merak SS.  Citroën signed a deal with Peugeot, but announced the Maserati had gone into liquidation.  Italians were enraged.  On May 23, 1975, Maserati was taken over by GEPI, an Italian government program.  For two long years, Maserati was propped up by government funds, but on August 8, 1975, Maserati was bought by the Benelli company, and Alejandro De Tomaso, a former race-car driver from Argentina became Managing Director.

With some difficulty, De Tomaso was able to get Maserati going again.  The Maserati Kyalami and Quattroporte III, were both in production in vast quantities.  In the 1980s, a new era came for Maserati.  Maserati basically abandoned the mid-engine idea to produce chunky, agressive, fun-to-drive, cheaper cars.  Thus, the Maserati Biturbo was born.  For almost 13 years, the Maserati Biturbo was in production, with over 30 different variants built, the last being a milestone for the next Maserati’s: the Maserati Shamal and the Maserati Ghibli II.  During this time period, a major recession hit the U.S. economy, forcing Maserati and other storied Italian automakers to withdraw from those markets and hone their skills in on Europe.  It was in 1993 that Maserati was finally thrown a lifeline.  Fiat Auto bought the entire share capital of Maserati.  Unfortunately, Fiat “had” to sell Maserati to Ferrari.

In 1997, Ferrari was the new owner of Maserati.  Up until a year before, Maserati and Ferrari had both been hotly competing on the street and track.  It seemed like they had gotten over their differences, and were lending each other a helping hand.  To celebrate, Maserati temporarily shut down their plant in Modena, and reopened it within six months.  The new facility was state-of-the-art, with some areas where visitors could literally touch the cars!

Since the calendar year 2002, Maserati’s have been sold in the U.S.  The cars that Maserati decided to sell in the U.S. were the Maserati Coupé, and the Maserati Spyder.  The following model year, Maserati unveiled the Quattroporte sport sedan.

In 2007, Maserati unveiled the GranTurismo, which has gone on to be one of the most successful Maserati’s of all time.  Since then, Maserati has exceeded sales by over 50%, introduced three new models, won many racing championships, and now employs 696 people in 60 different countries.  Now THAT’S what I call good!

A Goodbye to Ferdinand Alexander Porsche.

On a snowy December 11, 1935, Ferdinand Alexander Porsche (known as F.A. to the business world, and Butzi to family and friends) was born to Ferry Porsche and Dorothea Reitz.  He was the grandson of the legendary Ferdinand Porsche, who started the company.  One of his closest cousins was Ferdinand Piëch, the renowned VW Chairman/Engineer.  From kindergarten to his senior year in high school, he attended the Waldorf School in Stuttgart, Germany.  For his college years, he went to the Ulm School of Design.  But, he was rejected by the board of directors because they doubted his talent.  He immediately found a job at Porsche’s design department, which was then run by Erwin Komenda.

In 1961, he started bringing sketches of cars to Komenda.  In 1960, he brought in the sketch of what we now know as the Porsche 911.  Komenda did not like the design and went ahead designing some unapproved changes to the the project code “901.”  F.A. and Ferry Porsche both complained.  So, Ferry set the main attributes concerning: wheelbase, power stats, suspension, and interior space.  Still, Komenda would not allow the design to go to the engineering department.  So, Ferry and F.A. took their plans across the street to a well-known coachbuilder, Reutter.  Within three years, the car was ready for production.  Just four months before the car was about to be shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Peugeot intervened because they had a trademark protection for any production car that had a “0” in it.  Ferry immediately paid the fine, and the car became the Porsche 911.  His two door, four-seat, rear-engine creation is now one of the best-selling sports cars in history.  Production began in October 1964.

In 1972, he retired from his job as head of Porsche’s design section, and he went out with a bang that was heard on racetracks all over the world.  Thus, the Porsche 904 was born.  The 904 didn’t need to be the 914 (that came later), as it wasn’t a production car.  It was a race car built to win.  And win it did.  In just three years of racing, it won 130 podium wins, and only suffered two major crashes.

After F.A. Porsche left Porsche’s design section to start his own company;  Porsche Design . He started the company in Stuttgart, Germany, but after two years, he moved the company to Zell am See, Austria.  While he was CEO of Porsche Design, he designed a chronograph wristwatch that was produced for almost twenty years by the Swiss watchmaker, Orfina.  It was totally different from other chronograph wristwatches by being made out of matte black chromed steel.  As Porsche Design grew, the product range completely diversified.  Washing machines, nine bathroom designs, various furniture, kitchen knives, television receivers, desk lamps, cool tobacco pipes with air-cooled engine-inspired fins, pens made out of the wire-cloth stuff that is still used for oil lines in racing engines, computer monitors, computer external hard drives, coffee makers, and even a grand piano for the Austrian piano maker, Bösendorfer.  What a slacker…

In 2005, F.A. “Butzi” Porsche retired due to health reasons.  A few years before he retired, he was asked by a journalist about his design work.  His reply was, “”A product that is coherent in form requires no embellishment. It is enhanced by the purity of its form.  Good design should be honest.”

On April 5, 2012, Ferdinand Alexander Porsche died.  The causes of his death were not provided from the Porsche family, Porsche AG, or Porsche Design.  Also, Porsche AG and Porsche Design declined to give more information about survivors when making the announcement.  Butzi Porsche was 76 years old.

Here is a picture of him in 1999, while he was waiting for a brand-new Porsche Boxster.  And he was at the factory!  Picture from January 22, 1999 shows Ferdinand Alexander Porsche next to the logo of German car maker Porsche in Stuttgart.

I Just Can’t Seem to Stop Talking About Michelin!

Hi there, my injuries and whatever else that I had are pretty much gone, so hi!  Shall we get down to business and learn so more about Michelin? Sorry, I didn’t quite hear that! I thought you were ready…

In 1905, Michelin opened up it’s first official branch of business, Michelin Tyres, Ltd, in London, England.  Michelin also opened it’s first plant outside of France, in Turin, Italy.  This was just a baby-step compared to what Michelin has done over the past 100 years…

In 1907, Edouard travelled across the Atlantic for the first time, to open a plant in Milltown, New Jersey.  The plant remained in operation until 1931.  Three years later, Edouard published the first Michelin Road Map.  Just three years later (I’m beginning to notice a pattern here!), Michelin invented the detachable spare wheel (and tire), so I guess you can thank one of the world’s largest tire companies for inventing the spare wheel and tire.

In 1914, just weeks before WWI was declared, Edouard Michelin offered aircraft building services to the French government.  The first 100 planes were given free of charge to France; the rest were sold.  The total of planes that Michelin built during 1914, a whopping 1,884 units.  Two years later, Edouard got an idea into his head.  The idea was that there was a runway, very much like a concrete road, that could be used for planes to take off and land on.  Yet another useful invention.  Six days later, the world’s first concrete runway was built.

In 1923, the first low-pressure tire, the Michelin “Comfort” was invented.  It could go up to 15,000 kilometers without air needing to be added.  In 1925, Michelin bought 22,230 acres in Dautieng, Indochina, and 13,600 acres in Thuan Loi, Indochina to operate it’s own rubber plantations.

Three years later, in 1928, Edouard Michelin appointed his son, Ettienne Michelin vice-president of Michelin.  In 1929, Ettienne invented the “Micheline” railcar and the first train tire.  The following year, Edouard filed a patent for a tire with a built-in tube; the ancestor to the tubeless tire.  In 1930, Ettienne filed a patent for a tire with a built-in tube. This was the ancestor to the tubeless tire.  Just two years later, the Supercomfort tire was invented and it had a lifespan of 30,000 kilometers.  In 1933, the Bella Vista factory was built in Argentina to produce the Supercomfort tire.

In 1934, the Michelin “Stop!” tire introduced skid strips to the world.  Skid strips were strips built into the tire that helped the tire find traction on slippery roads.  The tire turned out to be a huge success.  in 1935, Michelin bought almost 95% of Citroën Motor Car Company.  Pierre Michelin (Edouard’s younger son) became CEO of Citroën, and appointed Pierre Boulanger vice president of Citroën.  Citroën also built the first prototype of what we now know as the Citroën 2CV.  Also, the Michelin run-flat tire was invented.  Today, many cars have run-flat tires for safety, as they can go for many thousands of miles with a leak and not endanger the driver and passengers in any way.

In 1940, Michelin took the name of Michelin Rubber Manufacturing, Ltd.  Five years later, the Clermont-Ferrand plant, bombed by Allied bombers in 1944, was rebuilt and modernized.  The following year, Michelin invented the radial tire.  Edouard Michelin (then almost 80) had filed one of his last patents on June 4, 1946.  Two years later, the Citroën 2CV was introduced at the Paris Auto Show.  Even though it took three years to iron out the kinks, Edouard Michelin had invented something amazing, the radial tire.  It was marketed under the name Michelin “X.”

In 1959, Michelin invented the first radial tire for earthmoving equipment (if you don’t believe me, call up the local equipment rental store and ask what type of tires they use on their largest equipment).  In 1965, the first Michelin tire testing center, the Ladoux was opened just a few minutes north of the Clermont-Ferrand plant.  Just three years later, the first Michelin Green Guide was published for a North American location; New York City.

in 1974, Michelin sold all its shares in Citroën to Peugeot.  Three years later, two new testing centers opened: one in Laurens, South Carolina, the other in Almeria, Spain.  Just two years later, Michelin was the main sponsor for Ferrari in the 1979 Formula One World Championship.  Ferrari won.

1981- Michelin invented the Michelin Air X, the first radial tire for aircraft.  This meant that aircraft no longer needed to have solid rubber tires, which meant that the aircraft could lose up to 200 pounds.  The following year, Michelin opened a new plant in Waterville, Nova Scotia, Canada.  The plant produces the Michelin Air X tire.  In 1990, Michelin bought the Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Company, North America (Uniroyal Australia had been bought in 1980).  This ensured Michelin’s future in North America.

In 1991, Francois Michelin appointed his son, Édouard Michelin II co-managing partner.  Just four years later, Michelin saw a new plant open in Manila, Philippines.  Also, the Space Shuttle landed on Michelin tires the same year.

In 1998, Bibendum (the Michelin Man) celebrated his 100th birthday.  In honor of that, Michelin started the Challenge Bibendum.  Challenge Bibendum is an online global clean vehicle and sustainable mobility forum.  The following year, Michelin developed and started producing the Delta Radial performance motorcycle tire, which rivals Michelin’s finest modern-day racing tires in technology.

In 2003, Michelin developed the XeoBib; the first agricultural tire to run at a constant low pressure.  Seven years later, in 2010, Michelin was inducted into the Sebring Hall of Fame, because of it’s 11 years of undisputed supremacy in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS).  The same year, in honor of Michelin’s first road map being published, Michelin came out with an interactive DVD road map that is almost as interactive as using SiRi on a brand-new iPhone 4S.

Today, Michelin sponsors three racing teams, sponsors tires for the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup,  has 23,000 authorized retail stores around the world, and employs well over 100,000 people.

Horacio Pagani; Yet Another Great Car Guy…

Imagine driving in the most beautiful car you can imagine, high up in the Argentinian Andes.  The views of an amazing coastal city from this high up make it look like a postcard.  The windows in your car are down.  There’s amazing birdsong, and the occasional cry of an eagle.  There’s a curve in the road.  You turn the steering wheel one rotation, pull the handbrake, and you drift through the curve effortlessly.  You punch the skinny pedal, and a whir, rumble, and screeching of tires tells you that no officer of the law can catch you now.  You can’t have a care in the world except that you might break down.  This is the Pagani video of their new Huayra (WHY-RA).

Horacio Pagani is one of the least-known men in the auto industry.  He has founded Modena Design; an advanced composite design consulting company.  He has created some amazing cars such as the: Zonda, Huayra, and so few others.  Pagani makes special cars that look even more macho than a Lamborghini Murciealago (bat in Spanish) 670-4 Super Veloce (Super fast in Italian).  I personally happen to like the sleek lines of the Huayra (the newest car).  So, enjoy Horacio Pagani’s life story.

Horacio Pagani was born in 1955 to a family of bakers in Casilda, Argentina, on November 10, 1955.   One of his life-long friends said “We never ran out of bread…In high-school, we’d head over to his family’s bakery, and grab a loaf of bread.  Horacio would grab a pastry of some sort; usually a danish, and split it with me.  If we ever didn’t have bread, I’d hop on my bike, and go over to the bakery.  They’d almost always have a loaf of bread in the oven for us.  We weren’t poor; we were actually well off.  We just liked their bread.”  Horacio liked to draw cars, and would carve them out of balsa wood.      When he was 12, he constructed his first balsa wood model car that looked similar to a Porsche 917, missing the top.  Those early, small balsa wood cars designs have been transferred to the real world, and are now  seen on his cars today.  He also designed and constructed a Mini Moto (which he still owns) in 1971.

1972 was a big year for Pagani.  He received his diploma from a technical high school, and he also built his first car; a buggie with Renault mechanics (cannibalized from various family cars).

Horacio went on to study industrial design at the University of La Plata, in Argentina from 1972 through 1974.  The following year, he studied mechanical engineering at the University of Rosario, Argentina.  You’re probably wondering how he founded an automobile company in the first place.  Well, one of his friends asked him to build a “cool car.”  Horacio did.  His friend then asked him to convert it to a race-car.  Horacio did, and loved it.  Making race cars was just a full-time hobby.

In 1977, he began working at his one-man business of making race-cars in Argentine, Argentina.  He also worked on bar manufacturing and design, to support his small race-car business.

Due to a slow market for race cars, Pagani needed to diversify.  The following year, he started designing and building caravan campers and RV trailers.  He was selling them out of his garage.  Since he sold them cheaply, his clients were mostly serious campers on a budget, or radio stations in Argentina ( he would install them with a desk and microphone).  He also studied and designed a Formula 2 (F2) single-seater race car.  Formula 2 is what comes before Formula 1.  It started out as a street racer.

In 1979, he built a Formula 2 single-seater in his garage (only a part-time hobby…), designed and constructed a camper-van for Chevrolet pickups.  A few months later, he collaborated in a study for orthopaedic chairs and beds.

1981 was a very big year for Horacio Pagani.  He designed fiberglass reproduction cabins for the following; Chevrolet Cheyenne pickups, Ford F100 pickups, the Toyota Hilux, and Peugeot 504. While doing this, he also took a class on “Human Factors in Industrial Design,” at the University of Rosario, Argentina.  To add to this workload, he also designed a cabin for a combine harvester made by the Marinari, Argentina, company S.P.A.  It seems that wasn’t enough, so he designed two touring bicycles; for men and women.  Some of the cabins were hand-built.

The following year brought new and different challenges.  He designed and constructed a Mays JMF roughness meter, to be used to measure road deterioration.  It was commissioned by The Centre For Research And Development at the University of Rosario, Argentina.

In 1982 and 1983, Horacio Pagani won two scholarships:  one from the Rotary Club International For The Royal College Of Art (in London).  The other scholarship was from the Art Center in Pasadena, CA.  He also moved to Italy in 1983 to pursue his dream of working for Lamborghini, working as a design consultant.

At twenty-nine, his career got rolling.  He helped design the Jeep LMA, and was on the team at Lamborghini design and build the Countach Evoluzione; the first car in the world with a carbon-fiber frame.

For the next three years, not much is known about him (good and/or bad), but in 1987, he was responsible for the design of the Lamborghini Countach Anniversary.  Battista Pininfarina (the man who started the legendary coachbuilder company, Pininfarina) hated Pagani’s “subtle” design of the Countach Anniversary.  Yet, if you look at a picture of the original Countach, and then at the Anniversary Edition, you will see so many differences, it is amazing.

During the late Eighties, and early Nineties, he designed, engineered, and built various parts of a Formula 1 engine (Lamborghini uses the technology today in their sweet new ride; the Aventador).  In 1990, he collaborated in the establishment of design and engineering of the Lamborghini Diablo bodywork.  Later in the year, he built models and moulds, and transferred his know-how to Lamborghini, for the construction of bodywork, built with composite materials.  From 1990-1991, he designed the Lamborghini L30.  To get into deeper detail, he designed the bodywork, engineered, modeled, moulded, and used technology of composite materials.  Also, in 1991, he founded Modena Design.  Modena Design was a design consulting company that would help companies design, engineer, and help with anything in general.   In 1992, he collaborated in the design of the Lamborghini Diablo Anniversary.

Pagani left Lamborghini in the early nineties, to work for a Rossignol-Lange Racing partnership. There, he designed ski boots for snow mobile racing.  He started making parts out of advanced composite materials.  He also designed and started the prototype for the Pagani Zonda.

The following year, he worked at Nissan, where he studied spoilers for a race-car.  He also designed interiors for Automobili Lamborghini from 1994-1997.  During this time, he also worked for Aprilia; designing, moulding, and constructing parts for their 250/400  racing motorcycles.

He moved to Renault, and from 1995-1996, he worked at Renault France, engineering and moulding, for the prototype “NEXT.”  He also worked for Ferrari Automobili; making various parts for their Formula 1 engines.  Also, in 1996, he worked at Berman: designing, engineering, models & moulds and parts for the Suzuki Vitara/Dahiatsu Move.  In 1997, he did moulds and construction for the Dallara F3.  Dallara, by the way, is one of the best-known racing teams in the world.

A masterpiece of masterpieces was born.  1999 saw the birth of the Pagani Zonda C12 and it was introduced to the public at the Geneva Auto Show.  The following year, the Pagani Zonda S 7.o was introduced, where it’s ancestor had stood, just a year before.   In 2002, the Pagani Zonda S 7.3 was introduced by Horacio Pagani himself.  He also did work on the study and concept of the Chrysler ME412

2003 was a big year for Pagani Automobili.  The Pagani Zonda S 7.3 Roadster was introduced in the exact same spot that it’s ancestors were introduced in.  Two years later, the Pagani Zonda F was introduced at you guessed it!  The Geneva Auto Show, Stand 188.

2005 was an even better year for Pagani.  The Zonda F was introduced at Stand 188, Geneva Convention Centre.  Just two months later, a Zonda S 7.3 Roadster was the Pace Car for the Indy 500.  A Zonda F also won 14th place over all at the 24 Hours of Nurburgring.

Just another two years later (you can see a pattern here), the Zonda R was introduced.  It was called “the cool alternative to the Lamborghini Gallardo.”  But, I guess that Horacio Pagani begged to differ, so he introduced the Pagani Zonda Roadster F at the same stand… In 2008, the introduction of the super-rare Pagani Chrono, and the still  rare remaining Zonda R models got to be at the same stand.

In 2009, the Italian preview of the Zonda R was introduced at the Milan Auto Show.  The presentation of the Zonda Cinque, Zonda R, and the sound system of the Zonda R were all introduced at the same spot.

2010 wasn’t nearly as big as previous years, but it still deserves attention.  At the 2010 Geneva Auto Show, the Zonda Cinque Roadster and Zonda Tricolore (three colors) were both introduced.  A buyer could get a Zonda Tricolore in any three colors he/she wanted. The Sultan of Brunei ordered a Zonda Tricolore with the following colors: Bottom color: Matte black.  Middle color: Gold leaf plates.  Top color: Ivory sheets.  I guess that’s what happens when you have too much money…

February 18, 2011:  The Pagani Huayra is introduced at the worldwide headquarters of Pirelli Tires, in Milan, Italy.  Just a mere three months after, the U.S. was the first country to get a Huayra delivered to a customer.  But, the owner is a Canadian who met Horacio Pagani in Vermont, and then drove it up to Canada (nice road trip in a cool car…).  Just a few days after, Horacio Pagani flew to Japan, to introduce the Huayra to the Asian market.  He left Japan the day before the earthquake.  Isn’t that lucky?  I think so…

Trivia facts (look for answers Tuesday):  Do you know what Huayra means?  What does Zonda mean?  How long did it take Horacio Pagani to design and produce the Pagani Huayra?

Please check out the awesome website of Pagani at: http://www.pagani.com/

Watch the video of the Huayra in action!  Awesome!  The video is maybe five minutes, maximum.  It is truly worth those five minutes.  Besides, if your boss sees the video, they’ll need to get it too…

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.

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!

John Deere, an Amazing Man in the tractor industry

Okay, we all know that John Deere Tractors, Ltd comes nowhere near the automotive industry.  But, John Deere was an amazing man who deserves more attention than he’s received.  So, I want to honor that, and the memory of John Deere.

John Deere was born into a family of deep poverty on February 7, 1804, in Rutland, Vermont.  John Deere was the third son of William Rinold Deere and Sarah Yates Deere.  In 1805, the Deere family moved to Middlebury, Vermont, where William Deere got a job as a merchant tailor.  Three years later, William boarded a boat heading to England, in hopes of finding a better life for his family.  William Deere was never heard from again, and after a lengthy search, presumed dead.

Raised by a mother on a barely existing income, one can only guess the John Deere’s education was probably rudimentary at best.  At age seventeen, John Deere was lucky enough to get random apprenticeships around Vermont.  By learning the trade of smithing, John Deere was able to find small jobs in Vermont.

In 1837, because of extremely depressing business conditions in Vermont, John Deere decided that it was time to move his small family to Grand Detour, Illinois.  His amazing blacksmithing skills immediately found him a job.  He found out that the plows manufactured (and used) in Vermont didn’t work in the heavy soils of the Midwest.  John Deere thought that a plow with a sharp, polished blade could turn the heavy, sticky Midwest soil.  Within two weeks, his plow was ready.  John Deere then decided to try it out.  It had a broken saw blade that had been polished to perfection.  He then took it through his backyard.  It worked so well that he was able to plant potatoes in the same day (normally a two-day job)!

Within four years, John Deere was making 100 plows a year.  Business was getting so out of hand that John Deere got a patent for the plow, and partnered with Leonard Andrus to keep up with demand.  Six years later, 1000 plows were being made annually.  But, Andrus kept bugging John Deere about the constant changes made to improve the plow.  Andrus told Deere that “the farmers will keep on buying the plow for a long time.”  In other words, farmers will keep on buying Deere’s plows because they dodn’t have a choice.  Deere didn’t feel this way.

Deere retorted with “They ( the farmers) haven’t got to take what we make and somebody else will beat us, and we will lose our trade.”  This was the foundation for the John Deere company philosophy.  It also is one of the company’s motto’s.

In the midst of the Civil War, in 1863, John Deere built a new invention.  It was called the Hawkeye, and was a riding cultivator/plow.  This meant that if a farmer was going to cultivate his field, he no longer had to push it; with a horse pulling.  Now he could sit on the Hawkeye and guide the horse.  Other inventions of John Deere before the Hawkeye were: other cultivators, a lot of steel plows, cotton and corn planters, wagons, buggies, and harrows.  He also considered making a hearse!

John Deere had a challenging life.  He had suffered food loss and destruction near Moline, during the Civil War, and was fatherless for most of his life.  He was actively into politics.  He served for about seven years as the president of the National Bank of Moline, served ten years as the president of the Moline Public Library, and served two terms as the Mayor of Moline.  Twenty-three years after making his first plow, on May 17, 1886, John Deere died at his home in Moline, Illinois.

John Deere started building tractors in 1903.  The first tractor off the production line was called the Model D.  It was so popular that it remained in production until 1935.

During WWII, all the automotive, aircraft and tractor industries were all asked (more like forced) to join the war effort.  The John Deere Company was no exception.  They made aircraft parts, tractors, and guns for the Allies.

In 1946, Caterpillar merged for a short time.  However, in the 1960’s, they went their separate ways.  Caterpillar wanted to build heavy machinery, and the John Deere Company wanted to build backhoes and tractors.started making lawn and garden tractors.  In the 1980’s they got interested in mowing golf courses.  After all, the golf courses were snapping up all the lawn tractors the minute the for sale sign was placed on their hoods.  Why not take a chance?  The result turned out to be so popular that John Deere had to open a new factory!  Now, there are many different lines of products for John Deere.  They include:  Backhoes, Skiploaders, Lawn and Garden tractors, pesticides, large tractors, just to name a few.  Oh, I forgot to mention that they make snowmobiles and snow-blowers!

One can always tell a John Deere tractor by it’s characteristic signature; a green tractor with yellow writing.  Their backhoes are a different story.  They are yellow, for better visibility.

For more information, you can visit the John Deere website at http://www.deere.com/wps/dcom/en_US/regional_home.page