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Friday
Jan142011

Vroom Room 

Good Morning!

Detroit - GreektownIts Friday...must be the Vroom Room, come in we have cappuccino and biscotti, and The Colonel needs a strong one this morning. Yes...he's been busy all week...

The Colonel busy? Yes...he was at the motorcycle Supershow last Friday, take a look...here.

Then Detroit for NAIAS with a few more visits in Detroit, and on his way back from Detroit. Needless to tell you that he is still in serious "editing mode" to publish all the material.

In case you are not familiar Greektown is a cool area of Downtown Detroit, close to Cobo...contrary to what we all tend to see and hear. Detroit is/was a little challenged but its alive and well with a vibrant downtown area.

If you missed our coverage this years NAIAS, just scroll down for our thoughts and links to the initial photo gallery.

In case you missed the annual KPMG Global Automotive Executive Survey its...here.

If you are interested in our road trip to Detroit....here.

Be assured that next week we will continue with more content.

One point:

In the auto industry denigrating your competitor to sell your product, its a lame way of selling. 

How come folks participating in the "social autosphere" have a sense of enjoyment/entitlement in denigrating/dissing, using the "D" word towards other folks that are also participants, and doing the same thing they are doing? 

Denigrating your peer to whoever wants to listen, gives a bad rap to everyone else. 

You have an answer, please share your thoughts. 

 

 

Thursday
Jan132011

2011 NAIAS

Buick VeranoLast year the Detroit show signaled renewed life in the North American auto industry. Although there was nervousness in the air, accompanied by some questioning of who was going to walk the talk during the course of the year. 

Once the results of 2010 were compiled a few days ago, and almost every manufacturer saw an increase in sales in the US market...needless to mention the industry regained additional increments of confidence, and self assuredness.

This increased confidence was palpable during the only media day. 

As you can imagine, only one media day makes for an hectic, busy, unrelenting day, at times looking like a crush of humanity (most folks at the same place at the same time). Again this year we were guests of GM, who is always a gracious host.

Some of our thoughts on the show in no particular order...

> Increased confidence, self assuredness, the dark days are over...very encouraging for everyone involved in/with the industry.

> Everyone in the US expects 2011 to be better than last year. The industry is fine tuned and re calibrated, ready to take advantage of an improving US market.

> The Volt was voted Car of the Year...not a surprise or upset.

> The Explorer was voted Truck of the Year...again not a surprise.

> Hyundai and Kia just raised the bar for press conferences supported by concept vehicles, and new models.

> Any manufacturer that merely displays vehicles at the Detroit show is sending the wrong signals. Yes...its go big or go home. A few manufacturers had remarkable "static" displays vividly communicating a lack of passion, which perhaps were successful in "disengaging".

> We had the unique opportunity to participate in several interviews/discussions especially with folks from GM...Tom Stephens of GM said it best..."we need to create vehicles that are immediate wants". (more to follow)

> Ford again this year conveys a clear message that they are serious, focused, and mean business...

> GM is dramatically more confident than last year, with a clear understanding of what they need to do.

> Chrysler is showing signs of renewal, the muddied Ram pick up is perhaps conveying that Chrysler has emerged from the worst. 

> It is encouraging to see the Detroit 3 in a better position going into 2011, and reconfirms that it was a good thing to throw a lifeline at GM and Chrysler at the time.

> There were various indicators of renewed vigor, and passion at Jaguar and Land Rover, which is a good thing.

> Mercedes-Benz ensured that everyone knows they are celebrating 125 years...in addition to feeling good about the results of 2010, and going into 2011 with good momentum.

> For those that attended the Porsche press conference at 6:30 AM the day was even longer...

> Saab outside in the cold...perhaps its a novel way to reinforce the Nordic tradition of the brand.

The industry feels good about its prospects, while acting and executing with renewed confidence and focus. Is it all going to work as per the plan? We surely know that its not all going to happen....lets hope it does!

The photo gallery of some of the vehicles that caught our attention, and to give you a feel of the humans partaking in the various activities is...here.

 

Wednesday
Jan122011

Ferrari 458 

Personalise your 458...how is your Italian?

Tuesday
Jan112011

Management is about Human Beings

At one time or another you have certainly encountered writings of Peter Drucker. As we evolve towards "Social Business" this is timely, and still resonates perhaps more today than a few years ago.

Especially in the auto industry/business and especially at the dealer level where the industry/business interfaces with the customer...

 

 

Monday
Jan102011

High Performance in Winter

This is the first in the Officina Chat...

A few decades ago the intellectual desire of a young man was to have his very own "hot engine" in usually an older car...the economics of the time dictated an older car, with a massive application of ingenuity, creativity in stretching to budget to arrive at the desired results.

This older car was the only means of "autonomous transportation" and had to deal with a variety of climatic conditions, including winter.

Back in the day...high performance and winter did not "really get along" with the owner/builder being the "facilitator" in the daily interface of hi perf and winter.

High performance engines or what was high performance back then, preferred temperate climatic conditions, and were not receptive to cold weather. In addition the exuberance of youth often compounded the variables to make it even more interesting, and more personal. 

Usually one became familiar with specific motors, from specific manufacturers, with a circle of friends who were experiencing the same motors...does it sound like a modern day forum?

In this instance it was "small block Chevrolet" engines (which were sort of affordable on a student budget).

One could build a small block in a gazillion different ways, which often developed into a more radical (less streetable) version which was great fun under temperate climatic conditions. 

Small block under normal conditions are "temperate" engines, and when you use them more than normal tend to run a little hot, usually solved by having a modified oil pan with vast quantities of oil, and perhaps even an oil cooler. 

A bigger radiator would have solved the challenge in traffic, but traffic was not a major issue, fan with more blades did the trick. 

In addition to having a slightly bigger carburetor, and a spacer plate under the caburetor, and perhaps the intake manifold heat passages blocked off to run a cooler charge of gasoline going into the engine. Not get really bold...no choke!

Is it starting to sound like a recipe for winter disaster...

During the fall months you could run this engine and obvious it would stay cool....the fall was the ideal time to have some serious fun seeking the little extra from the few additional RPM's. 

As it got progressively colder, the cold start, and initial driveability deteriorated dramatically until the engine was warm...yes it would start with no choke, usually by applying higher quantities of gas, and modulating the gas pedal to keep it running. 

You can imagine that a good amount of gas made its way into the oil, and frequent oil changes were required, as well as literally having to wait until the engine was reasonably warm before attempting to move the car, good thing it was manual, this combination would absolutely not work with an automatic.

The initial priming by pumping the accelerator was the key to a successful start, enough to start, and just shy of flooding the engine (flooded engines in winter are not much fun), ounce it started, between the loud exhaust sound, mechanical lifters clanking away, and keeping it running for the first 60 seconds was critical to upholding the success of the start. 

The engine had to idle by itself prior to getting out of the car to brush of the snow, scraped the ice from the glass, and so on...its loud, its clanking away, its idling on a combination of cylinders, with a pungent smell of semi raw gasoline, the tailpipes are under the car....yes that smell permeates the entire car. 

Once you got going, and the engine warmed up to operating temperature, a hopefully you could clean out the spark plugs a bit, to make sure it started again the next time. 

A few decades, the inexorable progress of technology, starting a hi perf engine on a cold winter day is a perfectly normal undertaking....back in the day the individual doing the starting was the "brain" of the procedure.

This video gives an "idea" of starting a small block with no choke, and its only 28F (minus 2-3C) imagine when its 0F...it gives an idea of the starting procedure...without going under the hood.