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Felix Wankel is one of my heroes. The longtime chief engineer of the extinct auto manufacturer NSU was an amazing automotive pioneer. His greatest contribution to the the industry is the invention of the rotary internal combustion engine, appropriately called the Wankel.
The very first rotary engine car produced was the NSU Wankel Spyder. This interesting little convertible was made between 1965 and 1967, with a total of 2500 examples being built. Unfortunately, the rear mounted, single rotor, 500cc engine suffered from reliability problems, including many engine failures at under 10,000 miles. NSU reworked the engine and introduced a new rotary sedan, the Ro80, in 1967. Despite modern styling and many advanced features, the problems with the initial cars did terminal damage to NSU and they were soon absorbed by Volkswagen.
Volkswagen recently introduced its totally new for 2012 Passat. Manufacturers often use the term "totally new" for cars that have just been facelifted but it is used in its truest sense for the new Passat. Not only is it a fresh design from the ground up, it's the first car to be made in the new billion dollar factory VW just built in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This is Volkswagen's first effort to build cars in the States since closing their Rabbit plant in Pennsylvania twenty five years ago.
I had the opportunity to see the new Passat in the Dave Walter VW/BMW display at last week's Glenmoor Gathering. The styling is very clean for a mid-size sedan but the real story is below its skin. The interior of this car is nothing short of cavernous. It's hard to believe that the overall length of the this car is only four inches longer than the model it replaced. Although I've always been a VW fan, I've always driven larger Audi sedans because of the additional rear seat legroom they offered. The new Passat seems to have just as much interior space as the A6, if not more.
Hyundai has been slowly rolling out their new prestige brand, Equus, across the country. The brand has garnered rave reviews from journalists and customers everywhere it has been shown. This is the largest car ever produced by Hyundai and it competes with the Merecedes S Class and the BMW 7 series. The 385 horsepower "Tau" V8 has received international recognition as one of the great modern powerplants. It is packed with unique, high tech features including the owner's manual on an iPad, which is included with the car! The price may be the most impressive part of the car, with models starting at under $60,000.
The good news for us is that Waikem Hyundai in Canton has taken on the Equus franchise. As way of an introduction to the Akron/Canton market, they will be offering test drives at this weekend's Glenmoor Gathering of Significant Automobiles. I'm looking forward to checking it out and comparing it to my Audi.
Classic Motorcar Auctions will be back at the Glenmoor Gathering of Significant Automobiles with a terrific collector car auction on Saturday, September 17. If you've never personally attended a professional event such as this, you really owe it to yourself. This year's auction will have an amazing selection of wonderful collector cars from sporty early European imports to full Classics and just about everything in between. Approximately 120 cars will be on offer and the best news is that there will be cars for every budget from novice collector to seasoned connoisseur.
One of the most popular things we do on Car Chase every year is offer a chance to win free tickets to the Glenmoor Gathering, coming up on Sunday, September 18. This year's event is shaping up to be the most spectacular ever, with cars from all around the United States, Canada and even Europe.
The ever-popular "King of Kustomizers", George Barris will be back in the Akron/Canton for this year's Glenmoor Gathering on September 18. Mr. Barris and his brother Sam are widely recognized as the creators of some of the most important custom cars of all time, including the legendary Hirohata Mercury. George furthered his notoriety in the sixties and seventies as the premier builder of personal cars for Hollywood celebrities and supplier of many of the historic tv and movie cars such as the Batmobile, the Munster Koach, Knight Rider's K.I.T.T. and the General Lee from the Dukes of Hazzard.
Today, George is still very active with his shop and showroom in North Hollywood, his tv show on the Speed Network called "Car Warriors" and as a frequent guest on other shows such as Adam Carolla's "Car Show" and "Car Crazy" with Barry Meguiar.