Monday, April 29, 2013

What’s on the radio?

Driving our cars with the radio blasting is just a way of life but it has become so much more than just a radio and music these days.  I heard a song the other day while driving to work and it got me thinking about when did the first radios appeared in automobiles.  Well it turns out that mass produced radios built for vehicles were not available until the late 1920’s.  So I researched these little known facts and began to see how quickly things developed with different forms of entertainment in our vehicles.  I remember seeing a Cadillac owned by Elvis in the Country Music Hall of Fame and it had a 45 rpm record player in the back seat so that he could listen to any music of his choice whenever he wanted.  Now that car was custom made for Elvis by historic car builder George Barris, but it was very interesting to see what could be done with an unlimited budget.  Let’s see just how far we have come with electronics in our cars;
The First FM Radio was introduced in 1952, and the First 8-Track Tape Player was available in 1965.  I guess because we had a thirst for something better the first in-car Stereo came along in 1969 and the cassette tape player became popular in the mid 1970’s.  In 1982 Bose became the first “Premium” stereo system in cars. (I wonder just how “Premium” it was back then?)  As the new age began to take hold, the first factory installed in-dash CD player was available around 1985.*
 
After the whole “music in our vehicles” evolution was in full swing, it was time to usher in a new type of media into our cars and trucks; the Navigation system.  They were first introduced in cars in the late 80’s and early 90’s and that opened a whole new adventure for all of us to enjoy (or be frustrated at when they don’t work correctly).  Even though some of the early systems were not very effective, they at least pushed the envelope of technology.  The next big step in the world of vehicle navigation was the use of GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) in 1995.  The first system was reportedly introduced by Oldsmobile and was called GuideStar.*
With the advances in technology that have taken place just in my 43 years, I have to ask, what’s next?  If he were still alive, I wonder how crazy it would sound to try and explain Face Book, Texting, or Twitter to my Grandfather.  Can you also imagine how I would explain the fact that you can now talk to your car and just say “Rascal Flatts” and your car will automatically begin to play your collection of Rascal Flatts music from the hard drive that comes factory in the dash of your car.  Wow……times have changed!
*Reference:  Car and Driver Magazine Oct. 2010
Thanks, Joseph

Friday, April 26, 2013

What is your “American Idol”?

As I was watching the show “American Idol” this week it got me thinking about the level of talent and how hard it is to stand out from the crowd these days.  I think we can say the same thing about the cars we see on the streets today, it has become very hard to distinguish one car brand from another.  The past few years has seen the Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro, and Dodge Charger give us a blast from the past as each of these cars brought back that classic/iconic look that they became famous for.  Even the new 2014 Chevy Corvette unveiled a few weeks ago pulled from the old-school goodies bag by reviving the “Stingray” name……used for the first time since 1967. (I’m a Ford guy, but I think it looks awesome!)

2014 and 1967 Corvette Stingray (photo from Automobilesreview.com)

I think if the American auto maker wants to sell more cars and get back the piece of the pie being lost to the foreign car makers, they must not be swayed by all the market studies and social media hype.  The Detroit boys need to make cars that appeal to the young crowd as well as the older guys who enjoy driving American Iron.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of many cars from across the pond, however, it seems that today’s cars are falling into the cookie-cutter mold and all look the same!  Seriously it’s very difficult to make out a Hyundai from a Jaguar or a Kia from BMW and to me that’s a problem.  I’m not saying the design is not good or that the cars aren’t attractive, I’m just afraid buyers are searching for a unique look that sets their ride apart.  Years ago part of the American dream for every young boy was to own a true “American Idol” and it was parked in your driveway!
Thanks, Joseph
(Article and comments also found at: http://www.huntsvillecarscene.com/showthread.php?t=7605#axzz2RbKNNFED)

Monday, April 22, 2013

“A man named Carroll”

A person can get teased about his or her name for many reasons, but a boy with a girl’s name would be hard to overcome.  This is the story of a man born in Texas in 1923 that will forever be famous and not because of his first name; he would change the automotive world as we know it.  He was one of the most influential figures in car racing during the 1950’s and may have gone down in the books as the most successful race car driver of all time had it not been for a heart condition that forced him to hang up his helmet in 1960.  He lived his life in the fast lane, whether he was setting a new land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats or winning at the world famous LeMans race course, there was something special about this man.  Instead of hanging his head in defeat due to his racing career being sidelined, it only gave him more time to focus on his new thoughts of building race cars and race teams.  He also decided to begin designing and building production cars and his first major project became known as the “Cobra” and it set the world afire with its small-lightweight frame and big engines.

His race team would begin to win everything in sight including the FIA World Championship of GT cars in 1965.  As he built on that success, his Ford backed GT40 race team would beat all the European factory race teams and win LeMans in 1966 and 67.  The relationship with Ford was only beginning, because just a short time later a friend named Lee Iacocca called him up and asked if he would use his racing skills and knowledge to help him with a new car he was promoting called “Mustang”. 
The Mustang GT350’s are some of the most expensive muscle cars being sold today.  The partnership with the Ford Mustang has spanned some 48 years and still carries his name today.  He was also involved in the development and design of the Dodge Viper and Charger of the 90’s.  Then again he would rekindle his involvement with Ford in 2003 with the introduction of the Ford GT.  Bringing it full circle, his name would appear again on the Mustang in 2007 as the GT-500 was reborn. 

If I were to compile a dictionary, next to the word “Speed” I would put a footnote that said “see Carroll Shelby”!  Yes, this “man named Carroll” is none other than Carroll Shelby, the man whose name has adorned so many of the cars we love;  Shelby Cobra, Shelby Mustang GT350, Shelby Mustang GT500, Dodge Shelby Charger, and even the new 2013 Shelby GT500 Mustang that is the first production Mustang to have a top speed of 200 mph! 
(Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company)

In Memory of Carroll Shelby (Jan. 11, 1923 – May 10, 2012)
Thanks........Joseph

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Are you “Car Crazy”??

I’ve been called many names in my lifetime but most folks would say that I am “Car Crazy”!  Over the years I have found others out there who are like me and sometimes they don’t even know it.  If you are worried that you may have this disease, let me give you some of the major symptoms.  It usually starts with the eyes; you are always looking for a sweet ride everywhere you go……your eyes are drawn to any hot rod or custom vehicle with a shiny new paint job.  You seem to be able to spot car shows and local cruise-ins from almost any distance.  Your wife will usually be able to tell you are suffering from this disease even before you know you have it.

If your symptoms have gotten worse, then you may already be suffering from the next step in the progression of being Car Crazy.  You will begin to plan family outings or even weekend trips around where you secretly know there is a car show…….after you arrive at your destination, your wife says, “hey there sure are a lot of old classic cars and hot rods here in Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge this weekend, are you sure the big car show is not this weekend?”  To which you say…..”I have no idea. That would be cool if it was”.  Another thing you begin to do is to ignore the family calendar of events and activities and then when your wife or girlfriend says, “don’t forget we have a wedding to go to this weekend”, you reply, “but honey you know I have been planning my trip with the guys at the big car show this weekend”……That one never ends well.

Okay, by now you can see how this disease can be very dangerous to your health, because after you have pulled a few of these stunts, you may need to be treated for knots on your head!  Now guys I’m not saying being car crazy is fatal, but let me suggest that if you think you are coming down with it and your symptoms are becoming easy to spot, then I have some friendly advice.  Try your best to see if you can give it to your wife or girlfriend because if you both have it then it makes living with this disease so much easier.  On another note, you can also try and let it rub off on your son or daughter at an early age and then your wife will be out numbered.
If you are car crazy then most likely you already know where the best shows in your area are, but if not, then search the car forums or local blogs that will put you in touch with other car crazy folks like you.  You can also locate a local car calendar that will keep you informed of the shows and cruise-in's close to you. 

Thanks, Joseph

Monday, April 15, 2013

A car story that had to be told


A good friend of mine recently shared his story with me and I just had to post it.........Enjoy!
From British motorcycles and cars to a Shelby - my 44 year journey
By Lawrence Taylor-Duncan
I started off my driving career in Scotland when I graduated from High School in 1969 and bought a small 49cc motorcycle to drive to and from college. As soon as I passed my driver’s test, I quickly leapfrogged into fast bikes with a BSA 654cc Lightning and by 1973 I owned the fastest street-legal motorcycle in the UK, a one-off custom-built 165mph JapAuto race-tuned 960cc Honda - so even early on in my driving career at age 22, I had developed a taste for power and speed.

After big bikes, I progressed to fast cars. My very first car was a classic Jaguar 3.8S in British Racing Green (followed by two more Jags), and later on, a custom Janspeed 3 Liter Turbocharged Ford Capri which was a seriously quick car in its day. I remember one Saturday having a very early breakfast and then driving it with my then girlfriend through 6 countries from London, England to Switzerland and arriving at her parent’s house near Zurich in time for dinner. Her mother was not amused. Yes, we drive a tad faster in Europe….
A few years later on, I had a business partner in England that had a Ferrari Testarossa which was drop-dead gorgeous and at that time, the fastest car I'd ever driven. I was driving an Audi by then so I was into German cars. In the UK, the big fast cars of the day were Italian exotics, Porches, Aston Martins - and they were very very expensive to own and run. American muscle cars were very rare in Britain because they didn't make many right-hand drive cars and they drank gas at an alarming rate - a big deal in a country where gas is 3-4 times more expensive than the USA. We all loved the Dukes of Hazzard and saw lots of big muscle cars on TV, but not on the road.
When I came to the States I fell in love with the whole custom car scene - you can get away with outlandish cars here that would never be street legal in Europe where we have so many rules and regulations. Still, I could only be an onlooker as I went through over 20 years of miscellaneous nondescript cars and then SUVs while my family grew up. Practicality had to come first. But I always promised myself that one day I'd splash out and get a decent muscle car.  I was very patient.
To be honest, the muscle car I had thought I might end up getting was a Corvette and I had not paid much attention to Mustangs or even Chargers or Camaros. Then one day I was fiddling around in Motor Trend Magazine's iPad app and read a review on the 2013 Shelby GT500. I'd been so out of the whole muscle car scene (well to be more precise, I was never in it) that I didn't even realize there were so many Mustang models, far less a Shelby - and although I had heard of Carroll Shelby, I really didn't know that much about him. Until now.
So one minute, there I was reading the GT500 review, and the next minute I had linked to Ford's website and now I was building up my dream spec on a Shelby! I was still not even beginning to think this would lead anywhere (I was more day-dreaming) but then I found a link to dealers in my area where I could check out if they stocked the one I had just “built” and -- Whoa! -- There was my exact car in stock at the Athens Ford dealership just a few miles away from me!  Okay I thought, this is a bit scary...as it’s suddenly getting awfully real.
I made a phone call and yes they had it in their showroom but "it is already sold" they said. Bummer. But they asked me if I would like to see it before it was shipped to the customer. By this time I was extremely curious so within an hour I was there walking in the door of the dealership. Up to this point, I had not been researching or planning to buy a new car at all so I was not even in a buying frame of mind -- and yet there it was -- in the flesh right in front of me. Wow! It was drop-dead stunning. Its looks oozed power and muscle. I got to sit in it, see the huge supercharged engine, hear the exhaust (oh boy - that's all it took - my heart leapt when I heard the growl from those 4 pipes!). Now things were deadly serious…
But it was "sold", or so I thought. It transpired that the buyer had not wired any funds yet, so technically it was still available - and I had made a fatal mistake of walking into the showroom with my checkbook in my back pocket. Hmmm. Unconscious decision. So the next minute I had called my wife, stammered something about a Shelby (she knew that name!) and I had given them a holding deposit on the car. We were there the very next morning at the crack of dawn and after hours of negotiating and a spirited test drive, I was driving off the lot in my new Shelby with a huge wide grin from ear to ear. It was rather a surreal experience.
I have never made a decision to buy a car so fast in my life. I always do a lot of homework on a big purchase, but something special happened when I saw that car that day. It took my breathe away and I made a purchasing decision from the soul. I have not regretted it either. The car is everything I expected it to be and then some. It is brutally fast, a stick shift (we Brits love stick shifts!) and a beautiful car. It is the fastest car I have ever owned or driven and although it can do 202 mph (and that’s a lot of bragging rights) if truth be told, I drive a lot more slowly these days than I did back in the UK in the 70’s. You don’t really have to prove anything in a Shelby. It’s also a car that demands a great deal of respect. I came across a show by Road Testament called “Ten Cars That Want To Kill You” one day and I’ll be darned if the 2013 Shelby GT500 was not second on the list – right after the Hennessy Venom. So my custom tag S0SCARY is very apt – it is a truly thrilling, seat-of-your-pants car to drive.
As we drove off the lot that day there was still another whole aspect of owning a Mustang, and especially a Shelby that I hadn't yet grasped. As I did all my research and homework after-the-fact, I discovered the true world of Mustang ownership included Forums, Clubs, Meets, Cruises and a myriad of potential customization options. Wow - I really had no idea that was all out there!  In the months following, I joined several clubs (including my local Limestone County Mustang Club) and quickly made about 100 great new friends on Facebook. Mustang owners are such fun to be around and very enthusiastic about their cars. The camaraderie is great and we always have a busy schedule of car shows, meets and events throughout much of the year.
So here I am, literally self-catapulted right in to the American Muscle Car scene with a whole new lifestyle and a vibrant social network and it's all happened as fast as that Shelby accelerates. I must add that I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my wife, who traded in her own beloved Miata when we bought the car and who supported me 100% in our decision to buy the car. This was all within just 5 months of marrying me too. She has owned two Mustangs before and recently bought her own V6 Pony so we are a two-Mustang family now - and yes she drives the Shelby as well as her own!  
Life is good!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Corvette Road Trip Anyone??

Road Trip.

When you hear those words what kind of feeling comes over you??  Most folks either love to take a road trip or they hate it, there is not much middle ground.  For me, I love to take road trips because it gives me an opportunity to see this wonderful country we live in. 

So, if we are going to take a road trip we need to discuss where we should go, but first we need to decide what we will drive.  Shall we take the family car, the truck, or the classic two-door with the top down?  Okay that was not a hard decision……..cruising with the top down is always the best option for a road trip to me.

Let me tell you about a short road trip that is a must.  The National Corvette Museum is located in Bowling Green, KY.  The museum has recently expanded and renovated it facility and offers Corvette lovers a chance to relive the history of America’s favorite Sports car. 


(Photo courtesy of Brents Pepper)

The museum offers over 115,000 sq. ft. to showcase some world famous corvette race cars as well as some very rare production cars.  They also house one of the best collections of “one-of-a-kind” prototypes and concept cars.  The museum has over 70 Corvettes displayed in period correct settings that transport you back in time.  The cost is only $10 for adults, $5 for children age 6-16 and children under 6 get in free, and if you are a true fan of the Corvette then don’t miss the gift shop and cafĂ©. 

(Photo courtesy of Brents Pepper)

Recently there has been talk of the museum expanding again by adding a motorsports park at the facility in Bowling Green, KY.  If it is built, this motorsports park could offer the chance for the museum to host track-day events.  I’m sure that the track would offer some type of performance driving schools and possibly the opportunity to attract some racing action from the various racing organizations around the country.

One last thing to do before you leave the area on your road trip is to schedule a tour of the Bowling Green Corvette Assembly Plant that’s across the street from the museum…….yes, the plant where the current model Chevy Corvette is manufactured today.  They offer public tours of the plant Monday – Thursday at specific times.  For more information on these must-see tours visit their website at www.bowlinggreenassemblyplant.com
So, if you don’t have time for a road trip this weekend, take time to visit one of the local cars shows or cruise-ins in your area and have fun!!

Joseph

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Dream Cruise!

Are we dreaming?
Our dreams usually take us to a place far away and can find us doing things we have never done before, and I’m betting that most you reading this story have never been to the place I’m going to tell you about.  Way up North near the town of Detroit Michigan is a gathering that has evolved into the world’s largest one-day automotive event.  It’s called the “Woodward Dream Cruise”.  This event attracts over a million people every year from around the world and needs to be on your bucket list if you have one.  The one day car cruise/car show stretches up and down Woodward Avenue (formally known as M1) for approximately 21 miles between Pontiac and Ferndale in Oakland. 

2002 Woodward Dream Cruise
Photo by Bill Pugliano / Getty Images News
History tells us that one section of this highway in 1909 was the first mile stretch in the world to be paved with concrete.  People from around the world gather each year to see some 40,000 cars, trucks, and bikes cruise up and down the strip.  All three of the big US automobile manufactures (GM, Ford, and Chrysler) come out in full force to promote and showcase their brands and sometimes release new products.  The crowds are treated to some of the most outrageous customs, classics, and modern muscle cars found anywhere.  Folks tailgate and party all along the streets and parking lots as it becomes one big event that is almost like a family cookout with vendors selling food, parts, and collectibles. 
This must see event takes place on the 3rd Saturday in August every year and has been running continuously sense 1995. So if you are not up for the long journey to Michigan just yet, then look for a local car show or cruise-in in your area.  It seems every year I meet somebody who has gone to this event and come back saying that its the best gathering they have ever been to!  I would be lying if I said I had not fantasized of going to the “Woodward Dream Cruise” for years, so I hope to make my dreams come true and attend this epic cruise-in very soon. (Maybe this year is the year I go)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What's on the Radio?

Driving our cars with the radio blasting is just a way of life but it has become so much more than just a radio and music these days.  I heard a song the other day while driving to work and it got me thinking about when did the first radios appeared in automobiles.  Well it turns out that mass produced radios built for vehicles were not available until the late 1920’s.  So I researched this little known fact and began to see how quickly things developed with different forms of entertainment in our vehicles.  I remember seeing a Cadillac owned by Elvis in the Country Music Hall of Fame and it had a 45 rpm record player in the back seat so that he could listen to any music of his choice whenever he wanted.  Now that car was custom made for Elvis by historic car builder George Barris, but it was interesting to see what could be done with an unlimited budget. 

Let’s see just how far we have come with electronics in our cars;
The First FM Radio was introduced in 1952, and the First 8-Track Tape Player was available in 1965.  I guess because we had a thirst for something better the first in-car Stereo came along in 1969 and the cassette tape player became popular in the mid 1970’s.  In 1982 Bose became the first “Premium” stereo system in cars. (I wonder just how “Premium” it was back then?)  As the new age began to take hold, the first factory installed in-dash CD player was available around 1985.* 
After the whole “music in our vehicles” evolution was in full swing, it was time to usher in a new type of media into our cars and trucks; the Navigation system.  They were first introduced in cars in the late 80’s and early 90’s and that opened a whole new adventure for all of us to enjoy (or be frustrated at when they don’t work correctly).  Even though some of the early systems were not very effective, they at least pushed the envelope of technology.  The next big step in the world of vehicle navigation was the use of GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) in 1995.  The first system was reportedly introduced by Oldsmobile and was called GuideStar.*
With the advances in technology that have taken place just in my 43 years, I have to ask, what’s next?  If he were still alive, I wonder how crazy it would sound to try and explain Face Book, Texting, or Twitter to my Grandfather.  Can you also imagine how I would explain the fact that you can now talk to your car and just say “Rascal Flatts” and you car will automatically begin to play your collection of Rascal Flatts music from the hard drive that comes factory in the dash of your car.  Wow……times have changed!
*Reference:  Car and Driver Magazine Oct. 2010.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Have you been to a car show lately?

Have you ever turned on the radio and hear a song and it immediately takes you to a place in your mind, a place back in time?  Was it when you were young or maybe a special time with your family?  It’s a wonderful feeling and it usually makes you feel good inside as you reminisce of days gone by.  The old past time of taking a Sunday drive is dying fast, in fact I’m not sure younger kids these days even know what that’s all about.  I remember it and it was most always filled with fun times.  Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Life is a journey, not a destination” and that’s so true, it did not matter what our destination was, it was all about the journey getting there.  For some folks a vehicle is just a tool that gets them from point A to B, but for others, it’s much more than that.



Car shows and cruise-ins have been going on across America for years, but it seems the younger generation is becoming more active in this scene.  If you attend a car show or a cruise-in these days you might see an older guy with his 1957 Chevy parked next to a 19 year old in his 2010 Mustang GT.  Here is the funny thing; you will find them talking and sharing stories like they were old friends!!  You might ask, “About what??”  Well they will be talking about their cars and the life journey (however long or short) that has driven their passion for cars.  Once again it’s like that song that you hear, going to a car show transports you back in time to driving your first car or riding to town with your Dad in his old truck to get ice cream.  So load your family in the car and take them to a car show to share in the sights and sounds as you relive your younger days or explore some of those new hot rides.
A few years back Ford Motor Company had a slogan, “Have you driven a Ford, Lately?” and the reason they asked that question was to inspire you to test drive one of their new cars because they knew you’d be surprised how good it was, well, I’m asking this same question today…….Have you been to a car show lately? 

Thanks, Joseph

Monday, April 8, 2013

What is Cars and Coffee?

Just what is Cars and Coffee?

Cars and Coffee is just an informal gathering of people who are passionate about one thing………their cars!  Even though these events are popping up all over the country, the original history of this event takes you to the Crystal Cove shopping center near Newport Beach, CA.  The gathering of cars (both old and new……Classic and Exotic) got so big and began to draw such large crowds that they had to move it to a bigger location that could easily house everything.  The weekly event is now held in the town of Irvine, CA at the Ford/Mazda Center parking lot and has continued to grow into one of the biggest and most talked about car gatherings in Southern California.  These weekly meetings are held early Saturday mornings from 6am to 9am.  It’s a very informal event that is very laid back where everyone drives their rides into the parking lot, get out and just hang out as they chat while drinking their coffee.  Because this original event is held in Southern California they very often have celebrities who bring their cars out for folks to see and to be seen.  Jay Leno and Barry Meguiar are just a couple of guys who hang out for a couple of hours and take in the sights and sounds of this mega event.  If you live near here and you are an auto enthusiast you must check this event out soon!  Its a family friendly event that the wife and kids will enjoy, because there is something for everyone to enjoy.

This little event is spreading across the nation like wildfire and any Saturday morning across the country you can drive around and find these gatherings……they may begin small with just a few friends or car club members, but trust me before long they are growing into something big.  Get out and enjoy one of these “Cars and Coffee” events if you can find the time.  No fee’s……No Cost…….No memberships……Just hanging out and talking cars!!

What is Cars and Coffee Talk??

My new Cars and Coffee Talk Blog is a culmination of many things that have been on my mind for a long time and its what fuels my passion.  What do car guys want to talk about??  What do they discuss at the coffee pot every week??  What are the shop guys talking about.........What is the hot topic of the week?  Well, if they are car guys then you can bet its ALL about the latest car news or gossip! Its just what guys do.......we love to talk about cars!


This blog is intended to talk about those things........car shows/cruise-in's/car parts/modifications/classics/modern muscle/and all things that car crazy folks love to talk about. 

Tune in to see where the topics will take us, because this hobby has never been as exciting as it is right now.  Everywhere you go you hear folks talking about the car show this weekend, the cruise-in last night or who was the fastest Friday night at the drag strip.

I am Car Crazy and if you want to get my fuel pumping just mention a car show and see what happens!  Let's share in the stories as we discuss what's going on with Cars and Coffee Talk!!

Thanks, Joseph