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Wednesday
Sep282016

Reflections On 10 Years

We always say that if years ago someone would have told us that we would still be publishing Strada...you know the answer by now.

Agreed...a whole bunch of stuff has evolved, changed, been disrupted during the past 10 years. When we started it was primarily PC's. Think of it the iPhone was not available yet. Today its primarily mobile.

The auto business has gone through a multitude of changes, and almost melting down too.

The economy has endured a myriad of convolutions, now its global, then its local, and so on and on.

Society...what can you say, a bunch of changes here too.

At the same time humans are an old species, we still walk upright, have a brain, need to eat. Lets not forget totally empowered we all go around with serious computational power in our pockets.

Cars...in 2006 they were no longer just mechanical, but nowhere as technologically sophisticated as today. We have gone from hybrids, to electric, to diesels, to gas, from mid size sedans, to trucks. We could keep on going but you can see how stuff changes, gyrates, through the years.

Yes...we are still publishing Strada.

What did we observe along the way:

It takes PASSION to keep a publication going for 10 years.

There is a ton of Pedestrian Knowledge that is being disseminated in sound bites by a bunch of folks.

You need to CONNECT DOTS quickly, efficiently, and in a compelling fashion.

Everything changes, stays the same, goes backwards, creeps forward too.

TIME increases in value, and dissipates faster.

Technology equalizes the playing field, sand box, landscape.

Everyone is seeking an edge, advantage, unique proposition.

The constants...

The inexorable progress towards increasing the technology content of vehicles.

It remains an exciting, and competitive business.

Metal must resonate to facilitate a decision.

Ongoing evolution and change.

The impact both positive and negative of technology.

Profound, meaningful knowledge remains elusive.

We are not in the eyeball business.

All our content remains published, and searchable...try it.

We provide INSIGHT not sound bites to attract eyeballs.

Yes...even more PASSION.

 

 

Monday
Sep262016

They Are All Good Cars

At Strada we are the first to admit that "They are all good cars, or utilities, or trucks". Every manufacturer builds a good car.

This morning we have The Colonel enjoying a coffee with us, lets get his thoughts.

Q: They are all good...you agree?

A: Absolutely, we have reviewed over 100 vehicles through the years, they are all good.

Q: Folks have their preferences, as well as you.

A: Yes, folks are increasingy migrating towards utilities. I have my preferences, by now we all know that I prefer sedans with a V8.

Q: How about common part suppliers?

A: Think of it, global industry, global suppliers, most components come from the same suppliers for all manufacturers.

Q: Cost cutting...

A: That is a pandora's box. Every manufacturer is on a mission to control costs. Some are obvious, other are very subtle and harder to detect.

Q: Care to elaborate a bit more on cost cutting, and common suppliers?

A: Its common platforms to save development costs, and spread them out, common suppliers with perhaps slightly different specifications, its a complex and sophisticated design and cost cutting process.

Q: Leading edge components, technology, materials cost money, irrelevant of the manufacturer?

A: Precisely...you want Brembo calipers it will cost more money. You want softer leather, it will cost more, makes no difference in which car, or which manufacturer.

Q: Price point for the segment.

A: Every manufacturer know precisely, down to the penny how the build a vehicle to meet a price point for the segment. Be it a compact sedan or utility, mis size, and so on.

Q: What happens when the technology content increases.

A: A manufacturer will either raise the price, or save money "somewhere", as technology becomes mainstream the price of the technology diminishes. Case in point an adaptive cruise control which is now mainstream.

Q: You still maintain that they are all good?

A: Absolutely...keep in mind that we all have our preferences.

Q: There have to be some bad cars...somewhere.

A: We have our preferences, our dislikes, cars that strike our dislike buttons are less good than cars that appeal to us. Expecting features, materials, performance in a "premium economy" that are beyond the price point.

Q: When you compare cars...

A: At Strada we do not compare cars, they are all taken at face value. We focus on the car at hand, and its price range. Surprisingly each car has a value proposition that equates to the price, and other have interesting value surprises.

Q: They are all good, and it costs more that have superior components and features in any car.

A: Precisely...

 

 

Saturday
Sep242016

1970 Barracuda 440 6 Pack

Informative walk around with Jay Leno, and Richard Carpenter the original owner that still owns the car. Interesting comment "suspension is archaic, rides like a buckboard, I was 23" from Richard Carpenter. Here are a two "Boomers" talking about cars from a couple of generations back.

 

 

 

Friday
Sep232016

Vroom Room

Good Morning,

Its Friday, its the Vroom Room make yourself comfortable enjoy the cappuccino and biscotti, join the conversation, and tell your friends to visit.

Its the 2nd day of Fall...

If you missed our coverage of the Cobble Beach Concours d'Elegance...click.

Unifor settled with GM, and Oshawa as well as St.Catherine will remain open for the foreseable future. Yes...its a good thing for everyone. It was interesting to see the initial bluster on the part of GM that they would close Oshawa in the near future, great tactics.

The inexorable march towards utility vehicles, and trucks continues unabated in the Canadian market. You have to wonder when it will stop, or if it will stop at some point. Its obvious that everyone is seeking a multi use vehicle which is more versatile than a car. Yes...the station wagon in its new form endures.

We spent time with a Cadillac CT6 Platinum (top of the line) and a Subaru Impreza WRX STi we will publish the reviews in the next few days. Both are impressive cars.

As we progress towards autonomous vehicles (AV) you can certainly grasp the dramatic changes that will occur in the insurance industry. It will be a case of Big Brother watching 24/7/365 reflect on this for a moment. We are on a vector of relegating our privacy to a myriad of sensors, and data bases...click.

The unconnected vehicle might just command a premium price in the future. What do you think.

If you dislike shoes with laces like we do, here is a cool self lacing Nike...click. What does it have to do with cars...not much.

As we all wait for interest rates to rise, the Canadian economy to shift to a higher gear; and while we keep on waiting CMS (Citizen Main Street) keeps on borrowing more money. The loan terms on vehicles remain long, real estate prices in the GTA are through the roof, and the Canadian dollar persists in the dumpster.

If you have the feeling that "something" is increasingly disconnected from "something" else...we agree with you. Good thing that money flows freely and that CMS keeps the whole thing going, and going, and going.

If you have read that CADA (Canadian Automobile Dealer Association) continues to stick to their position of keeping banks out of vehicle leasing, and by now have the feeling that its an archaic, and antiquated position we agree with you. From our perspective Canadian banks have had an uplifting effect in providing financial services to the auto business. Some banks are funding manufacturer branded financial services, including the lease portfolios. Indirectly some Canadian banks are already in the leasing business.

Our usual old race cars from the Goodwood Revival 2016.

 

 

Thursday
Sep222016

Multi Speed Transmissions

At times the strangest things develop out of nowhere. We are at Cobble Beach 2016, there is a black 1970 Chevelle SS 454 with a wicked engine (LS6) and an M22 (Muncie Rock Crusher) 4 speed transmission.

 

Its a 46 year old car, with a mechanical lifter 454, generating a conservative 450 HP, coupled to a Muncie with 2.20 first gear, noisy synchronisers, and probably a 3.73 in the differential.

The sounds coming from that Chevelle were totally appropriate from way back in the day.

Think of this, front discs, rear drums, 14 inch wheels, bias belted tires, poor handling dynamics, and 450 HP; by today's standards its a recipe for disaster.

Reflect a little further, 3.73 gears, 14 inch wheels, this car would probably do, and lets round it off 35 kph for every 1,000 revolutions in fourth gear. Tached out at 6,000 RPM the car would go 210 KPH; while cruising at 3,000 RPM would be 105 KPH. To stay in the flow of traffic on a 400 series highway you would be tacking at 3,500 RPM.

The sound system was the engine taching at 3,000 RPM with the various mechanical sounds.

Wonderful nostalgia, but not very useful in 2016 with extremely poor fuel economy, while having instant acceleration in any gear. Blip the throttle and your are gone.

Instead of the Muncie, factor in a Tremec 7 speed (TR-6070) with a 2.29 first gear close to the Muncie, and OD gears in 5-6-7...reflect on this for a moment.

Agreed...450 HP from a serious engine with a multi speed transmission is supercar territory. 

This Chevelle would run out of tires, brakes, suspension, driving dynamics, in a few seconds, and would again be a lethal car similar to way back in the day.

Today multi speed transmissions are coupled to smaller engines, they are usually automatic, and the transmission compensates for the inherent lack of power and torque from the engine. While the challenge is to develop a shift algorithm that works all the time.

Just like the good ole days when you would upshift, and slightly get off the throttle, with some back and forth in the driveline. You would blame yourself for mismanaging the shift. Today these automatics all have a tendency of clunking a bit in part throttle situations.

Back in the day, when the engine was on the cam you knew exactly what it was going to do...blip the throttle on that 454 at 3,000 RPM in fourth and the car would simply take off.

Today, its a game of algorithms, turbo boost, how many down shifts before the action starts. The most predictable is full throttle, and as the boost builds up the speed/acceleration builds up. Obvious that the car will coast for an extended distance once it upshifts.

Fascinating the dots that can be connected while focusing an a 46 year old car that still captures the imagination.

 

 

Tuesday
Sep202016

Brands-What Do You Expect?

We all evolve with brands, we formulate our thoughts, and expectations about specific brands, and values.

What were clearly defined brands, values, and expectations have increasingly become blurred especially during the past few years.

If you see a specific brand be assured that the folks at the brand are on a mission to preserve various forms of brand identity, to keep the brand going. On the premise of, if you see this brand this is what you will get, this is the value proposition.

But what do you expect from specific brands, and especially as you move up the food chain of brands, and the level of expectations increase.

What brands? What versions, models of brands are benchmarks for you? Agreed...it becomes personal, and we each have our preferences.

Its a complex product, and human algorithm, with most marketers on the planet seeking ways to find an advantage within the algorithm.

Let's bring it to the auto business, and luxury sedans in the 6 figure price segment.

Does anyone need a 6 figure sedan to go from A to B? We all know the answer - NO

You don't need one, but you want one, and obvious its within your budget.

We all know the contenders in this segment, and the various 6 figure sedans tend to have the same features, up to a point the same specifications on paper, and are all a showcase for the latest automotive technological marvels. These cars are bristling with techno features, the dashes are a video arcade, and they are all on the cusp of driving themselves.

In the meantime you still have to drive the car, and not be distracted by the various techno features.

When it comes to 6 figure sedans the Mercedes-Benz S Class with a V8 still rules as the benchmark car in this segment.

Its a no brainer, go out and get yourself an S550, and the need is solved.

We are all different, and if for some reason the Mercedes-Benz brand in a luxury sedan does not resonate with you. There are several other offerings that can satisfy your needs in a luxury sedan.

At the same time, you need to focus on your expectations for this 6 figure luxury sedan, which of your expectations have a higher priority, and which are literally a deal breaker.

You can access a ton of opinions, comparisons, reviews regarding the various contenders in the segment, as well as some recent interlopers gaining a foothold.

Its your money, your expectations, how much of a "fuck you factor" do you need, and how much "waftability" do you need. The back up camera, adaptive cruise crontrol, self parking, massaging rear seat, LED lights, quickly take a secondary or even further back the line position.

Its a personal decision to fill your "wants"...since you don't really need a 6 figure sedan to go from A to B.

So which brand, and which metal truly resonates with you?

Care to share your thoughts? Leave a comment.

 

Monday
Sep192016

Cobble Beach 2016

We always look forward to the Cobble Beach Concours d'Elegance, we have been going to Cobble Beach since the first concour in 2013.

This year the climatic conditions were simply spectacular, a wonderful September Sunday with a bright sun. In our case it was a different experience we had an opportunity to drive up to Owen Sound in a Cadillac CT6 Platinum. The CT6 is simply a phenomenal car...which kept on impressing us.

As usual Rob McLeese and his folks do an awesome job organising and staging this concour.

What caught our attention this year.

The Auburn Boatail which won best of show.

The Stanley Steamer running was a unique sight.

An interesting display of Porsches 356, with one roadster having a unique stinger exhaust system.

The Aston Martin DB6's were a reminder of the various James Bond movies.

Packards V12's these cars continue to have presence today.

A black 1970 Chevelle SS454 with an L71 and a rock crusher M22 making all the appropriate sounds, a quick reminder of the drive in scene from a few decades back.

There was a 1964 GTO with 3 carburetors on the 389...yes the one that started the muscle car segment, and think about it, over 50 years ago.

Wooden boats again this year.

Pick ups too...do you remember Mercury pick ups?

Motorcycles with Indians and Harleys.

Cobble Beach Concours d'Elegance is a unique automotive experience, a feats for the eyes, it always brings back various memories, and obvious the setting is simply spectacular.

We have a photo gallery...here click.

Another on our flickr page...here click. As they say a photo is worth a gazillion words.

 

Saturday
Sep172016

Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint

Fascinating description of owning/driving an older Alfa Romeo.

 

 

Friday
Sep162016

Vroom Room

Good Morning,

Its Friday, its the Vroom Room, make yourself comfortable, enjoy the cappuccino and biscotti, join the conversation. Tell your friends to visit the Vroom Room.

If you need glasses to correct your vision, may we suggest that you consider Nikon lenses. Take it from The Colonel, these lense make an appreciable difference. As well if you spend considerable time in front of a computer screen or screens. May we suggest that you get lenses specific for that application.

Have you noticed the level of pedestrian knowledge that gets dispensed on a daily, and ongoing basis. It never ceases to amaze us that folks that should/could be empowered with higher levels of knowledge, simply do not do it. Agreed...some days its truly mind boggling.

In case you forgot, Cobble Beach Concours d'Elegance is this Sunday, may we suggest that the drive to Owen Sound is well worth your time.

With all the talk, buzz, about self driving cars, have you seen the equipment on the roof of the self driving Uber Ford Fusion in Pittsburgh? We are certainly a few steps away from an adaptive cruise control to actual self driving capabilities. Agreed...they are also mapping the "environment".

Have you noticed how we fall prey to technology? Ever get somewhere with a navigation system guiding you in the most dumb, unintuitive fashion, that you reflect for a millisecond and concluded that no human would actually think this way. Go a step further, this digital "non human think" is permeating other areas of our society.

If you heard enough about Gen Y/Millennials here comes Gen Z to make it even more interesting.

We first saw the Crhysler Pacifica at the Toronto Auto Show, which was also the Canadian debut of the van. Although we are not fans or admirers of mini vans. The Pacifica caught our attention with innovative design/styling, and what looked like a superb interior. It was a moment of "FCA is the big dog in this segment, and the Pacifica enures the big dog position".

Its fascinating to see a myriad of pundits have mixed feelings towards the Pacifica.

Our usual old race cars from the Lime Rock Historic Festival 2016.

 

 

Thursday
Sep152016

That's Not How We Do It Here.

Informative video by Dr.John Kotter.