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Driving in to work very early this morning, I saw my first sign of spring. It wasn't budding trees or blooming flowers; it was much better than that. I saw my first two fun cars on the road this year. One was a beautifully restored/maintained, first generation Land Cruiser. The other was a very sharp, late model Maserati Coupe. Two very different cars but both very welcome sights. I spotted both on I-77 near Akron, where last night's heavy rains had washed away the road's salty crust, hopefully for the rest of the year. Feel free to let us know when you start seeing fun cars on the roads again.
I don't have to tell anyone that it's been an unusually long and difficult winter. The only positive is that it gave us more garage time to work on our winter projects.
Now that we're just four weeks from the first day of spring (hallelujah!), it's time to thinking about finishing those projects and getting them ready for the road. The attached photo shows Gene Blackford of the Red Lacquer Room and a group of his friends who helped him resurrect the legendary Polynesian custom from a 35+ year slumber, just in time for its debut at the 2005 Glenmoor Gathering. It was a monumental undertaking but the results were well worth the effort for a car of such historic significance.
GM announced this week, as part of their restructuring plan, that they would be eliminating the Pontiac and Saturn brands by 2011. Even though the current batch of re-branded Opels that Saturn is now selling are generally regarded as very good cars, the pitiful quality of the initial offerings from Spring Hill soured most enthusiasts forever.
Pontiac, on the other hand, is a totally different story. John DeLorean, as head of Pontiac in the 60's, immortalized himself as the creator of the mid-size muscle car segment with the iconic GTO. Art Fitzpatrick's "Wide Track Pontiac" ads from the late 50's and 60's are still regarded as one of the pinnacles of automotive advertising. Locally, Knafel Pontiac's legendary "Tin Indian" Pontiac race cars dominated the national drag racing scene in the 60's, much like Greg Anderson's Summit Racing sponsored Pontiac does today.
An icon of the automotive industry has announced his retirement. Bob Lutz, 77, Vice Chairman of General Motors has announced that he will transition into the role of senior adviser on April 1 and fully retire at the end of this year.
Lutz is a legendary auto executive who has held senior management positions with all three of the major American auto manufacturers and, earlier in his career, BMW. His flamboyant style and love for fast cars and flying his own fighter jet made him a pop hero among typically staid auto execs. He identified with the buying public and had a genuine knack for knowing what the consumer wanted in new models. Los Angeles Times' auto writer Dan Neil called Lutz "the auto industry's most quotable and charismatic executive in a town where charisma is scarcer than banana tress".
Speaking of French wine, vendors of this fine beverage are liberally located amongst the various parts, literature and toy sellers purveying their precious potable. The free flowing samples make this wonderful event even more enjoyable. If you've only been to the beer and brats swap meets we're used to here in the States, I encourage you to visit Retromobile at least once. You'll definitely be hooked.
As an avid antique car hobbyist, I probably buy and/or sell ten to fifteen old cars per year. In nearly thirty years of doing this, I can proudly say that 99.9% of these transactions have been very pleasurable and I have formed a lot of great friendships with people around the world.
Unfortunately, I can't say that about the majority of my new car buying experiences. Despite the fact that I'm an educated buyer and I always pay cash, the ordeal of purchasing a new car is often insulting and demeaning. Sure, I've been treated well occasionally at new car dealers but, overall, I can honestly say that my limited experiences with oral surgery have proven to be more pleasant.