Rocket ManDon Wellford, Boulder, CO: I have a ’72 Olds Cutlass S that I got from my grandmother, the original owner. It isn’t the perfect little old lady car, but she kept it in her garage and had her mechanic on top of the maintenance. The body is in decent shape though the 350 two-barrel is a little tired. It would probably wake up a bit with a four-barrel swap, valve job, and new timing set and cam, but I think I’m going to put my effort and money into the 455 I recently scored. Trouble is, I don’t know its origins. A friend who works in a garage got it from his boss, who said it had been sitting under a workbench since they pulled it in the ’80s, and all he can remember about the car it came out of is that “it was big.” I’m going to have it rebuilt, but I’d like to know what I’m dealing with first. On the driver side of the front of the motor is a pad with the stamped numbers: 31M135022. Above the water pump the block has … [Read more...] about Olds Big-Block – What’s Your Problem?
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Even from the cabin of the BMW, handsome Estoril Blue, the attention slathered on the leader of our small convoy isn’t difficult to see. It could be that car’s own rich hue, which is suspiciously similar to Alfa’s Competizione Red, or the strangely discreet quad exhausts, or the fact that its prominent haunches flow rearwards to meet a tapering fastback and form an eye-pleasing Kamm-tail of sorts. All warrant a closer look. Or those enjoying the delights of the M4 westbound on this overcast weekday morn could simply be leaning over to make sure they’ve read the badge on the boot-lid correctly. So we’re all on the same page, it says ‘Kia’. By now you’ll be aware of the Stinger, seen here in top-spec, establishment-bating, eyebrow-raising GT-S trim. You may have also heard that it’s better than expected, with plenty of go and a chassis that’s, not to beat around the bush, rather lively. But good enough to be regarded as a … [Read more...] about Kia Stinger GT-S vs BMW 440i and Jaguar XE S – can it handle the heat?
Tesla Motors has a bit of a reputation for not being as transparent as some would like. So, when the end of the fiscal quarter arrives, there's always a lot of interest in the financial statements the company is obligated to release. But the info and insights don't just flow from its official 8K filing. The automaker also holds a conference call that sees CEO Elon Musk, CTO JB Straubel and Chief Financial Officer Deepak Ahuja taking questions from assorted financial analysts for an hour or so. It's here that we often learn interesting details behind the numbers, as well as hints of what's to come, sandwiched between quotable quotes from Musk.This week's call, following the release of 2014 fourth quarter financial results, certainly didn't disappoint. When asked by a Barclay's representative how much money Tesla will put towards capital expenditures over the next several years, for example, the irrepressible Musk said the company was "going to spend staggering amounts."This, of course, … [Read more...] about Elon Musk has a secret weapon to increase Model S demand
Italian Firm's Turbine-Powered Calling Card For A New EraThe global meltdown that boiled to the surface in 2008 was really hard on a lot of car companies, but it was categorically horrendous for the tradition of Italian car craftsmanship out of Turin.Of the three big players left in the traditional Italian design mecca – Italdesign Giugiaro, Bertone and Pininfarina – only Giugiaro has managed to avoid administrative takeover of its debts and assets by working out a major deal with longtime allies Volkswagen to sell them 90.1 percent of the firm. Both Bertone and Pininfarina are currently trusted to oversee their own operations but are nonetheless bonded to pay off significant operational debts to Italian banks after having hammered out merciful sweetheart low-interest deals. Neither has succeeded in closing mutually agreeable VW-style takeover bids, but both would probably prefer not doing so anyway.The Geneva Motor Show has been treated as Italy's (and my) hometown gig … [Read more...] about Autoblog goes one-on-one with the Pininfarina Cambiano Concept
It probably won’t come as too huge of a surprise to many of TTAC’s regular readers that the first car blog I ever read was Pete DeLorenzo’s Autoextremist.com. This was years ago, years before I ever imagined that I would get pulled into the crazy world of the auto industry, and at the time I was deeply impressed. Here was a guy who, having seen the Detroit machine from the inside, was documenting the self-destruction of an industry with an unmistakable bravado and flair for storytelling. In retrospect, it’s strange to realize that my tastes for automotive coverage were well-defined before I ever considered entering the profession.In any case, writers are forever challenged when the stories they grow to love take a turn for the unexpected, and DeLorenzo seemingly abandoned his caustic style by the time the auto bailout hit. But cheerleading never quite sounded right coming from the man peddling “bare-knuckled, unvarnished, high-octane truth,” and TTAC … [Read more...] about Quote Of The Day: The Autoextremist Gets His Bash Back Edition
Editor’s Note: Legendary auto journalist and TTAC inspiration Jerry Flint died this week. Rather than write a sappy eulogy, we’ve decided to let Jerry speak for himself. What follows is a speech Flint gave to GM employees at Milford Proving Grounds in October 2000. It’s feisty, passionate and deeply insightful… the kind of speech that made Jerry famous, and paved the way for sites like TTAC. Moreover, it shows just how deep GM’s problems run, and serves as a timeless warning against the worst impulses of the business. Rest In Peace Jerry… we will always remember you at your best. [Courtesy: The Olds Zone Hat Tip: Ken Elias]There was an auto executive, he was a very high ranking GM man. You all know his name but I won’t mention it because it might embarrass him. He’s not at General Motors anymore.I once asked this man what he would do if he found himself the chief executive of General Motors. He said, and I … [Read more...] about Jerry Flint (R.I.P) Lays Into GM, October 2000
[UPDATE: Fiat press release outlining the complete new management structure added]The awaited consolidation of Fiat and Chrysler operations is complete, reports Bloomberg, and CEO Sergio Marchionne is taking the North American job for himself. Joining Marchionne at the top of the company’s new regionally-based divisions, are Gianni Coda, former head of purchasing at Fiat and now the boss of European, African and Middle East operation; Cledorvino Belini, erstwhile head of Fiat in Brazil is now in charge of all of South America; Michael Manley, previously boss of the Jeep brand, will be leading the firm’s effort Asia. These four regional bosses will be part of a 22-member “group executive council” which will manage all of Fiat and Chrysler’s operations. The details of the council’s makeup still haven’t been released, but the big news is well encapsulated by a quote from Gianluca Spina, chairman of the business … [Read more...] about Marchionne Is The Man In North America, As Fiat And Chrysler Align Management
Fiat S.p.A. and Chrysler LLC (backed by its majority stakeholder Cerberus Capital Management) today announced an alliance that will see the two automakers share vehicle platforms, distribution channels, and technology. Fiat will take a 35-percent stake in Chrysler, although no money will change hands, as Chrysler gives up a chunk of itself in return for viable future product development. (Chrysler’s been broke for long enough that virtually all meaningful product development has been halted for some time.) The current agreement is nonbinding but should become a finalized partnership by April, according to Chrysler. Fiat Group includes the bread-and-butter brands of Fiat, Lancia, and Alfa Romeo, with luxury and performance marques Maserati and Ferrari perched at the top of the empire. We would expect most of any platform sharing to come courtesy of the lesser three Italian companies, although a rundown on the alliance by Chrysler chairman and CEO Bob Nardelli states that … [Read more...] about Fiat and Chrysler Announce Strategic Alliance
With a German-Italian name like Karmann Ghia it may surprise you that the little coupe/roadster built on the Volkwagen Type I (aka Beetle) chassis had its origins not on the continent but rather a few thousand miles west of Europe, in Detroit, of all places. By the early 1950s, the postwar Volkswagen company was getting on its feet and had expanded their lineup to include the Ben Pons inspired Type II aka Transporter aka Bus and a cabriolet version of the Beetle, built by the German coachbuilder Karmann. That company’s director, Dr. Wilhelm Karmann, had tried to increase his business with VW but management in Wolfsburg was less than receptive to his suggestions for variants of the Beetle. Karmann turned to Ghia to see if a collaboration would be more successful. Corrozzeria Ghia’s Mario Boano and Luigi Segre had already done some consulting for VW, though the company was about as accepting of their ideas as it was with Karmann’s.Not much earlier, Boano’s son, … [Read more...] about VW’s Karmann Ghia Was a 5/8ths Scale Chrysler
"Stone Age technology," some boo. "Bog slow!" others bray. "Ugly!" jeer all as one. Our own Brock Yates said they look like "pumpkin seeds." And they do. Now in its third season, Daytona Prototype, the marquee attraction of the Grand American Road Racing Association's Rolex Sports Car Series, has been received with booming skepticism. The brainchild of Jim France (of the you-know-who NASCAR Frances), Daytona Prototype is a jab in the eye to traditionalists. The cars are revolutionary in their way, but purists may prefer a shorter form of the word—revolting. Yet at Daytona's Rolex 24 in February, these pumpkin seeds delivered some of the best American sports-car racing ever. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. First, a little history. American professional sports-car racing is the guest that never came to dinner. Open-wheel racing—despite its periodic, graceless disarray—has eaten hearty often, and stock-car racing has been face down in the … [Read more...] about Sports-Car Racing’s Brave New World