Archive for January, 2013
Here is our second installment of the amazing machines on display at the 2012 Holiday Motor Excursion this past December. If you missed our first installment, just follow the link below:
By most accounts, the epicenter of the automotive dark years was 1980. That was the year that the only Corvette Californians could buy was powered by a 5.0-liter V8 saddled to an automatic transmission. The early ’80s was the era of downsizing, sticker shock, and the furtive and desperate shade-tree “desmogging” of under-powered, low-compression engines.
Two years ago, Volkswagen nearly upstaged the victorious Green Bay Packers with its humorous “little Darth Vader” Super Bowl ad. Last year, VW’s “The Dog Strikes Back” Super Bowl spot became a massive hit on YouTube; it has surpassed 16 million views. Now, for Super Bowl XLVII, the German automaker steers away from the “dark side” with its “Get Happy” ad, which promotes the Volkswagen Beetle and the VW brand in general. Volkswagen of America exec Tim Mahoney says the new commercial “is designed to bring a jolt of happiness to viewers’ daily lives.”
In the “Get Happy” spot, an everyday white Minnesotan named Dave brightens up his dreary office environment with a positive attitude and an inexplicable Caribbean accent. The commercial’s jingle is a version of “Come On, Get Happy,” which Baby Boomers remember as the theme song for the 1970s sitcom The Partridge Family.
“With ‘Get Happy,’ we set out to create a lighthearted and energetic ad to represent the positive energy and sunny disposition that only the Beetle and Volkswagen can deliver,” said Mike Sheldon, CEO of Deutsch LA.
If you’re a vintage-vehicle fan and you find yourself in Southern California for the holiday season, there is one event that you must put on your calendar.
The Horseless Carriage Club of Southern California (a division of the Horseless Carriage Club of America) puts on Holiday Motor Excursion every year, always on the Sunday after Christmas. Since the HCCA is officially open to pre-1917 automobiles, the primary focus of the event is brass-era classics. The driving tour itself is open only to pre-1932 stock vehicles, but lots of other amazing vintage machines show up to make the scene.
Steve King and Johnnie Putman, Chicago radio personalities and car enthusiasts, are longtime friends of Consumer Guide Automotive. Click the video below for their latest car review. For more details on this feature-packed, all-new car, go to Consumer Guide Automotive’s review of the 2013 Dodge Dart.
The “Two Left Foot Ballerina Award for Most Missteps”
Let’s move away from the actual product and talk for a bit about the companies that make them. This “prize” goes to the firm that had the roughest 2012, at least in this writer’s humble opinion.
In a previous post, we discussed the meaning behind MPGe ratings—which, essentially, are given to any vehicle that plugs into an outlet to recharge its battery. These vehicles are either all electric, such as the Nissan Leaf, or have both electric and gasoline powertrains, such as the Chevrolet Volt. In both cases, the cars can be driven a fair distance on just electric power.
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is typically one of the snowiest places in the United States. Snowfall is light by U.P. standards this winter, but that didn’t stop Chrysler Group from showing off the all-wheel-drive capabilities offered on the full-sized Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger.
Both 300 and Charger are big, rear-wheel-drive sedans. Many buyers appreciate the rear-drive characteristics of these two vehicles, and Chrysler engineers wanted to preserve the rear-drive feel on the AWD versions by sending most of the torque to the rear wheels. In fact, when not needed, the system automatically disconnects the front-drive wheels entirely to lessen the fuel-economy penalty of AWD.
The rear-wheel bias of 300/Charger AWD also helps control. I’ve never been exactly adventurous in the snow. I’d rather take it slow and easy to protect the sheet metal than kick the tail out. At Chrysler’s winter testing facility at Keweenaw Research Center (KRC), I had the chance let loose (by my standards) on a handling course. Only orange cones were in danger. An AWD Dodge Charger could stay on course through tight turns. A competitor’s AWD sedan with front-biased power distribution killed several cones going through corners that the Dodge handled with ease. I also drove on a small, circular track. The AWD Dodge stayed on course at speeds where a competitive front-wheel-drive car was sliding.
History has been unkind to the Hummer brand, and for the most part, rightly so. It would be hard to point at any General Motors project that better demonstrated a culture of commercial crassness, environmental tone-deafness, and just plain shortsightedness.