BigBoyToyz – The Name Says It All

BigBoyToyz – The Name Says It All

BigBoyToyz – The Name Says It All

Discoveries can be found in even the most mundane of places.  In this case, I was researching a website named BigBoyToyz.com for an article.  What began as a simple project, turned into an afternoon of interesting reading, fun videos, and an excessive amount of drooling over some amazing supercars.

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BigBoyToyz is not your typical premium used car dealer.  Established in 2009 in Gurgaon India, the company offers some of the most exclusive cars on the planet.  Promising to raise the standards of the industry, the company focused on ultra-luxury brands and supercars.  BigBoyToyz has gathered a collection of the finest whips in a mind blowing showroom…It is the Versace of used car dealers.

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The cars are phenomenal, from Ferrari to Lamborghini, to Rolls-Royce and Aston Martin.  If there is a reality star or rapper driving it in Hollywood, then there is one just like it for sale here.  Like some of the exclusive car dealers in the U.S., they cater to the rich and famous.  In fact, there is even a celebrity page where you can see many famous actors and musicians visiting the showroom.

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Some of the highlights of the site include an amazing Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 in Giallo Evros (yellow) and a Mercedes Benz SLS AMG in silver.  Both cars are incredible, and are must have cars for any collector.  Also listed is a Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe in Dark Tungsten.  It is a stunningly beautiful automobile, and relatively rare.  However, the car that really surprised me was a car I had not known about prior to visiting this website, called the DC Avanti.

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The Avanti is a sleek, low slung sports car completely designed and manufactured by the Indian car brand, DC Design.  Sporting a 2.0 litre 4-cylinder turbo engine, it pushes out 250 horses, and can do 0-100kmph in about 7.7 seconds.  Built using lightweight carbon fiber both inside and out, the car is not supercar fast, but it is certainly supercar stylish.

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They have a slew of other brands on offer and have a collection of used cars from marquee brands like BMW, Mercedes, Jaguar, Audi and what not.  You name it and they have it. They have one of a kind car collection and the only word that comes to my mind is insane!

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BigBoyToyz.com is an interesting website, not only for the array of mind-blowing rides.  It offers some fun videos that include everything from cool car commercials, to scenes of idiots driving supercars.  On the blog page, there are well written articles that cover everything from automotive news to interesting car factoids, some of which were even new to me.  Overall, if you have the type of war-chest where you can afford to purchase the ultimate supercar, then this is the best place to shop in Asia.  If not, it is still worth the visit just to check out the fun articles and videos.

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Article Courtesy of Chris Raymond

Photos Courtesy of BigBoyToyz.com

Car Design as Art, Figoni & Falaschi

Car Design as Art, Figoni & Falaschi

I have always considered the “Golden Age” of car design to be the period of the 1920’s and 30’s.  Sure, the 1950’s were great, with the introduction of the fin, huge chrome grilles and the beginning of the rocket age look, but true custom car design was at its peak during the time of the great coachbuilders, and the most flamboyant of the lot were the French.

This was a time when you purchased a rolling chassis from an automaker like Duesenberg or Hispano Suiza, and then sent it off to a designer to create the bodywork.  Designers would build cars specifically for you, like having a haute couture dress made.  The result, were some of the most fantastic shapes to ever be placed on an automobile, and my favorite of the group was Figoni & Falaschi.

After World War I, Giuseppe Figoni started a small body repair shop in Boulogne-sur-Siene, France.  His work included modifying the coachwork of touring cars, and his business prospered.  By 1925, he was building complete bodies on rolling chassis purchased from automakers including Delahaye, Bugatti, Delage, and Panhard.  By 1935, he acquired a partner, Ovidio Falaschi, and created the Figoni & Falaschi name.  Fascinated by the emerging aircraft industry, he was influenced by the shapes of airplanes, and the wind.  Figoni’s designs gave the impression of movement, even when the cars were standing still, and had an aerodynamic quality that would not be prevalent until the 1950’s.  Figoni was fascinated with teardrop shapes, and his Delahaye 135, with its elliptical shapes and enclosed teardrop pontoon fenders created a sensation at the Paris Auto Show of 1936.

Figoni had a command of color and design that was worthy of an artist, and favored two and three tone paint designs that would accentuate the shapes.  He loved to work with designers of high fashion, creating gowns, hats, gloves, and shoes that perfectly matched the design and colors of his cars.  He was also involved in designing racing bodies, creating aerodynamic bodies for cars like the Alfa Romeo 8C 2300, a car that won the 1932 Le Mans, as well as other cars.

The creations of Figoni & Falaschi were flowing masterpieces, cars that the buyer wore like fine ball gowns, and a style whose closest relative today would be the Morgan Aeromax.  Their cars were an expression of freedom and movement, with enclosed wheels, and lines that made the cars float across the ground.

Figoni was an automotive sculptor who created patented designs for disappearing soft tops and even a disappearing sunroof.  The hallmark of the brand is the Talbot-Lago T150 C, a car whose teardrop shape, flush door handles, and sloping fastback became the symbol of French coachbuilders.  These cars were from a time when car design was true art.

Article courtesy of Chris Raymond

Photos courtesy of Google Images and Coachbuilt.com

The Perfect Summer Cruiser

The Perfect Summer Cruiser

The summer night is like a perfection of thought – Wallace Stevens

Now that summer has officially started, I decided to take a look at eBay and see what they had to offer in the way of summertime cruisers.  When I was younger, I had a perfect 1976 Oldsmobile 98 Regency Hardtop, and I loved to gather up the family and head off to the local ice cream shop on a hot summer night.  Classic cars and especially convertible classics are the best cars for summer.  Taking a sunset cruise along the beaches and small towns of Cape Cod in a 1950’s classic is something everyone should do.  So here are some great eBay finds for anyone looking to have an amazing summer.

1960 Buick LeSabre – $9,700.  This is an excellent condition Buick sold and owned in the same Lakeland Florida neighborhood for the past 53 years.  The color makes this car a classic, and removes the darker aura given off by the front and rear styling cues.  With a brand new interior, this car is ready for a nice summer car show.

1970 Buick Electra 225 – $5,200.  Another stunning Buick, this time in Jade Green with a white roof.  This custom 4-door hardtop is pillarless, and has only 17,800 miles on the odometer.  Equipped with a 455/370hp V-8, it can cruise all day in style.  It even comes with the original 8-track player.

1955 Chevrolet Bel Air 210 – $10,156.  This stunningly restored Chevy is a perfect summer cruiser.  It sports a 350cid V-8, dual exhaust and even an Alcantara “suede” interior.  Formerly owned by Lloyd MacKay, NHRA racer and collector, this car was fully restored and has every power option.

 

1960 Chevrolet Impala – $25,300.  This Chevy is more subdued than the outrageous 1959 model, and sports aircraft inspired side trim, and subtle ‘bat wing” tail fins.  With only 5,331 miles, this car is a truly amazing example.  It has the perfect color combination for the ultimate summer cruising car.

1959 Pontiac Bonneville – $15,000.  Nothing says summer like a teal and white Pontiac.  This car was the King of the Hill at Pontiac, and was built at the height of the golden age for cars.  The Bonneville sports a 389 tri-power V-8, a wide track design and Pontiac’s new gyro level ride suspension, giving it the best handling performance of any 1959 full size car.

1972 Pontiac Catalina – $18,100.  One more from Lakeland Florida, this car has only 30,296 miles and sports a 400ci V-8.  This is an absolutely gorgeous example of a perfect summertime cruiser.  With a perfect interior, and the colors of a perfect blue sky, this car would be great for a nighttime top-down cruise.

1957 Oldsmobile Super 88 – $12,000.  Our friends in Lakeland Florida always find the best cars, and this one is astounding.  This Super 88 has only 28,000 miles, and is finished in a stunning Platinum Mist Poly Metallic, and sports a 371 Golden Rocket V-8.  The car came from a New Jersey collection and is mostly all original.  The tri-window roof treatment and the stunning chrome side rails make this car a real head turner.  This is the perfect car to impress everyone at the local car show.

1967 Mercury Cougar – $8,600.  This is a truly elegant example of this pony car, finished in light beige with a medium saddle interior.  Powered by a 289ci V-8 this Cougar is a solid, no-rust original car.  The color of this car highlights the cat-like styling making it one of the prettiest examples available today.

1956 Lincoln Premier – $15,500.  This is a magnificent automobile, and is selling for much lower than market due to the fact that it is a faux convertible.  This Premier started life as a coupe, and lost its roof during a major redesign, including major body reinforcement.  Finished in a non-original Pearlescent White with a luxurious red leather interior, the effect is stunning.

1976 Lincoln Continental Town Car – $5,100.  Think of this as buying a huge summer mega-yacht for the price of a runabout.  This beautiful Town Car has only 59,517 miles and sports a 460ci V-8 engine.  Though not as light and airy as a convertible, it still is an excellent car for long summer drives.

1966 Chrysler 300 – $7,800.  This car is an amazing example of a great Elwood Engel design.  The car is -presented in a special order two-tone paint of black over dolphin gray with a black leather interior, the overall effect is dramatic.  The car has 80,300 miles and sports a 383cid V-8, and is mostly original.  The paint and condition make this 300 a beautiful example of 1960’s styling.

1961 Cadillac DeVille Convertible – $20,987.  For the ultimate summer land yacht, nothing beats a Cadillac.  This spectacular example is finished in Laredo Tan with saddle interior, matching saddle top and comes complete with Coker wide whitewalls and factory correct turbine wheels.   If you want to turn heads when you are taking that sunset cruise, this is the car for you.

That is my list of some great cruising cars for summer.  Let me know what car makes your list and let me know your memories of the perfect summer drive.

Article Courtesy of Chris Raymond
Photographs Courtesy of eBay
Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th of July

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Happy 4th of July

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Wishing all of you

a safe and happy holiday

from all of us at

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Chris On Cars

 

Don’t forget to check out our archives…

10 Of the Most Beautiful Supercars

10 Of the Most Beautiful Supercars

Being the envy of your peers is standard issue if you can manage to get hold of a supercar.

With supercharged engines, luxury interiors, striking bodywork and incredible engine power, these big boys

Muscle Cars

Muscle Cars

This post is for all the muscle car fans out there…I decided to put a few pictures of my favorite muscle cars up, in the hopes that someone will enjoy them. I have not been a big muscle car fan, and especially don

BooEnn Sunglasses – Powered by the Sun

BooEnn Sunglasses – Powered by the Sun

BooEnn Sunglasses – Powered by the Sun

Our first new product review for Chris on Cars comes from a company called BooEnn.  The product is a set of smart driving glasses with “anti-collision” lenses that change instantly depending on light.  Powered by a low power consumption solar battery mounted right above the nose, they act to brighten or darken the lenses, depending on conditions.

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For a start, the idea is pretty standard.  Many sunglass companies over the years have offered lenses that change with the lighting conditions.  The major difference here is that these lenses are made from a patented flexible LCD material, and the transition is amazingly fast.

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Packaging – The box is similar to an iPhone, but lime green in color.  The packaging includes a lime green cleaning cloth, a matching pouch to hold the glasses, and company literature that is badly translated from its original language.  The packaging is in line with the expected price point for the glasses, and has an expensive feel.

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Specifications – The sunglasses are made from something called Ultra-light Antiskid TR100, according to the company literature, a “light weight, collision-resistant, high temperature-resistant material with no chemical residue release”, which is in line with European requirements for food grade material.  I’m not sure what that means, but it could be soy based or some sort of “green” material.  The lenses are a flexible LCD material made from 13 layers of nano-materials, all designed to improve visibility.

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Drive Power: Solar battery

Reaction time(s): ≤0.2

Visible light transmittance(%):≤35%

Ultraviolet rays: UV400

Working temperature(℃):-20—70

Weight: (g):30

Size (mm): General frame: 340*165*15

Lens material: Plastic flexible liquid crystal

Frame material: TR100

Design – The frame design is bulky, and not very attractive.  The glasses are large and wide, and tend to sit high on your face due to the molded nose pads.  When worn, the glasses tend to be large on the face and stick out at least a quarter inch on each side of my head.  Overall, the look is something between Buddy Holly and Giordi from Star Trek.  When folded, the glasses do not fold flat, so pocketing them is out of the question.

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Functionality – The glasses function well and work as described.  The darkening effect from shade to sunlight is amazingly quick, and visibility is definitely improved with the glasses.  Even in conditions that require the lenses to change continually, the transitions are quick and not distracting.

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Overall – While the design of the frame needs work, the technology is so good that I would buy a pair myself.  After checking with friends, most decided they would tolerate the terrible design of the frame to have the technology.  BooEnn has not announced a specific price for the glasses, but I was told they are initiating an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaignwith prices ranging from $75-$150 depending on the perk.  I am also told that the company plans to update its marketing literature to be more in line with US standards, and tweak the design to be more fashion conscious.

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Rating – On a scale of 1-5, I would rate these a 3, with the caveat that if BooEnn tweaks the frame design to be more fashionable, they would be a 5.

Article by Chris Raymond

Photos by Chris Raymond and Booenn.com

 

 

Layla – The Boat Tail Riviera

Layla – The Boat Tail Riviera

 

I tried to give you consolation…When your old man had let you down. Like a fool, I fell in love with you, Turned my whole world upside down. – Eric Clapton

This past week I decided to buy a new toy.  I found a beautiful 1972 Buick Riviera Boat Tail on Craigslist, and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to own an iconic classic and an appreciating collector automobile.

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The Riviera is rare, with only 31,557 examples originally built, and the design was overseen by none other than Bill Mitchell (55-57 Chevy BelAir, 63 Corvette Split Window, 63-72 Buick Riviera).  .  Its flowing lines are immediately identifiable, and the boat tail design is unique in modern automotive styling.  Finding a decent one for sale is like discovering a unicorn.

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Originally I was on the fence about buying a car the size of a English Channel ferry boat, but a twist of fate forced my hand.  During a conversation with my website designer/SEO guy name Brian, I discovered that the actual car I was buying was one he and his friend owned in high school.  The seller was his best friend, and the two worked on the car, made the upgrades and know every detail about the cars history.  It is a small world, and knowing that there was that connection made me believe I could be safe in taking the chance on the car.

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The Riviera is beautiful, in a slightly ungainly way.  Mine is painted a Subaru WRX blue, and sports raised white lettered tires and Cragar SS rims.  Inside, the car is equipped with a front 60/40 split bench seat done in black with white leather inserts.  The previous owner had redone all of the body issues, added new carpets, and added a few cool chrome Edelbrock upgrades under the hood.  These upgrades made the engine shine and probably added a ton more horses to the stable.   It also has cherry bomb mufflers, and sounds like a true muscle car.  Once I started it up, I was hooked.

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The body is in excellent shape, with no rust or dent issues.  The paint is older, and pretty poorly done, with lots of orange peel and a few areas of dripping and waving.  The interior is also in good shape, with only the driver’s seat having issues, while the rest of the interior is un-molested.

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Driving the car is an experience.  The engine starts right up, and settles into a smooth idle after a few moments.  The cherry bombs on the exhaust give the car a mean growl, and every time you step on the gas, you expel a little more of the rear tire rubber.  Speed was never on the list of goals for the Riviera, but it still manages an impressive 0-60 in close to 8 seconds, which is not bad for a 19 foot long, two and a half ton behemoth.  With the upgrades to the engine, the car is now much faster, which means it is a challenge to drive.  The steering is like guiding a ship though a series of hard turns.  The steering feel is not only loose, it feels disconnected from the car.  When it does finally turn, the whole side dips and rolls like an aircraft carrier in high seas.  One major fault is the seats, which have no lateral support whatsoever.  On even the slightest turn, you often find yourself in the passenger seat.

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Of course, now that I own the car, I need to figure out what to do with her.  Originally I had grand ideas of transforming her into the ultimate Grand Tourer.  I wanted to repaint her in a dark gray metallic and have the top section, that includes the roof, boat tail and the center of the hood, sprayed a slightly lighter color.  The interior was to be a medium saddle color, and the carpeted rear shelf under the massive rear window was to be transformed into a mahogany wood floor, much like a classic yacht.  I wanted to lower her by 2 inches, enough to highlight the lines without making her into a slammed custom.  I also wanted to add larger lower profile tires and larger chrome mag rims that would suggest a more refined hot rod look.  Finally, I wanted to cut the middle section of the bumper to highlight the full grill and make it a split bumper car, and add a center body colored fin in the center of the rear window, á la the 1963 Corvette Stingray Split Window Coupe.

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In reality, I probably won’t get a chance to do any of these things.  If I decide to flip the car for profit, then it would make sense to see if the blue paint can be salvaged, either with a light re-spray or a color sanding and clearcoat.  One thing I will keep are the blue LED lights under the front grille – the same lights I have on my motorcycle.

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In the interim, I have named her “Layla”, which means ”night”, or “dark beauty”.  I will continue to pilot her through the neighborhood scaring small children and wildlife, and have the time of my life playing with my new toy.

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Of course, I want to hear from you…write me a comment and let me know what you think of Layla, and share any ideas you have on how to customize her.  I am always looking for cool design tips.

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Article by Chris Raymond

Photos by Chris Raymond, Google Images, vilinstore.net and pinterest.com

Car Lister’s Epic Giveaway!

Car Lister’s Epic Giveaway!

The following is a sponsored post

Car Lister’s Epic Giveaway

Those of you who have followed my site know that I joined a website called Car Lister.co a while back to connect with my car-enthusiast friends and to post my content.  Car Lister is a new website that promises to be an all-in-one consumer car buying solution.

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Utilizing technology, Car Lister simplifies the transaction of a vehicle between two parties in the online world in a way that’s never been done before. Car Lister has solved the problem of selling a car online, with a fully integrated, automated process that incorporates real time notifications and full validation throughout the entire process.

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The system allows buyers to shop for new and pre-owned cars from any smartphone, tablet or desktop. What I like most about Car Lister is that it’s like Facebook for gear heads.  I can connect with my friends, talk about my rides, or post and read articles about the stuff I am interested in.  Users can even form groups, trade pics, and network with people from all over the world.

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To celebrate the launch of their new website, Car Lister is introducing the 2016 Car Lister’s EPIC Giveaway.They are giving away daily,weekly,and monthly prizes. The grand prize will be a $25,000.00 voucher to purchase a vehicle at one of their participating Car Lister dealerships every month!  Daily prizes include gas cards and oil changes, weekly prizes include new tires, jumper box, and vehicle detailing and the monthly prizes are a $500.00 service voucher and the previously mentioned voucher for a car.

With everything that they are giving away, Car Lister also have a weekly contest that is called You Share, We Repair.  If you share your story with Car Lister, you will be entered to win up to $3,000.00 towards vehicle repairs at a participating Car Lister dealership.

Restrictions are listed on the rules page on their website.  Just sign up for a free Car Lister.co account and click on sweepstakes then click “enter to win” and you will have access to daily,weekly and monthly giveaways.

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Check out theWinner’s Circle,” and you will see that there have already been 118 winners from 37 states, winning prizes ranging from gas cards all the way up to the lucky February “Grand Prize” winner who won a $25,000 voucher to buy the car of their choice.The best part about this giveaway is that it’s just the beginning. The entries have reset as we enter March, and I am crossing my fingers that this could be my (or your) month to win!

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If you’re like me, you’ll be making this Epic Giveaway part of your daily routine. By the time your coffee is finished brewing, you have plenty time to log into your account and enter the daily, weekly and monthly drawings. Considering that the promotion is still in its early months, the odds to win are incredible. With just over 8,000 entrants into last month’s grand prize drawing, I can’t think of another promotion with better odds to win $25,000.00 (plus the cost of taxes) to put towards the car of your dreams. #Epic

Joining Car Lister is a great way to network with people who love cars, and a great way to make friends.  Once you join, check out the Chris On Cars page for articles, comments and discussions on the latest cars…don’t forget to join my group and connect with me.

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Snowpocalypse!

Snowpocalypse!

If you are a regular reader of this site, you may have noticed that I recently took some time off from my writing duties.  It seems that with the weather, the holidays, and the cold, my motivation level wasn’t what it used to be.  In order to cover things up, I reposted some old articles and hoped for the best.  Well…things are getting back to normal here, and I should be updating things with the regularity of the past.  So, thanks for staying with me.

First, some housekeeping.  I am always looking for ideas on what to include on the site, and would greatly appreciate any comments or suggestions.  I am also looking for anyone who may be interested in posting their own articles and photos.  If you are interested, please send me an email at raymondcj@aol.com.

This week, I have decided to post some photos from around the net showing the snowpocalypse that is making life difficult for most of the country.  Included are some favorite photos from failblog.org, which is a great site to waste time on if you are housebound.  The rest of the photos are from around the world, and include some great shots of the mess the snow made in Chicago, and an amazing car accident from New Hampshire.

Photos courtesy of failblog.org, thatwillbuffout.com, jalopnik.com.

Article courtesy of Chris Raymond
The Rake of the Riviera

The Rake of the Riviera

In the United States, the automobile is synonymous with one name, Ford.  In the rest of the world, that name is Agnelli.  Rather than spend this week discussing the latest supercar, or who won at Pebble Beach, I am going to focus on an Italian iconoclast, Giovanni (Gianni) Agnelli.

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Agnelli was the namesake to Giovanni Agnelli, the founder of Fiat S.p.A. and heir to the Fiat fortune.  Fiat is an Italian conglomerate, founded in 1899.  Besides being the carmaker who bought us the 500, the iconic Italian mini car, they are (or have been) the owners of brands like Maserati, Ferrari, Lancia, Alfa Romeo, Abarth, Chrysler, Autobianchi, Innocenti, Piaggio, Vespa, Simca, SEAT, and Iveco trucks.  In addition to vehicles, Fiat owns companies as diverse as Case Tractors, Alitalia, the newspaper La Stampa, Olivetti, and a slew of other companies making everything from weapons to pharmaceuticals, and from railcars to aircraft.  At one time, Fiat owned substantial shares of Edison, Rockefeller Center, Chase, and even Club Med.

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Fiat, which is older than Ford by 4 years, was a major force in both European and Italian markets.  At one time Fiat employed over 500,000 people, and controlled 4.4% of Italy’s GDP, 3.1% of its industrial workforce and a massive 16.5% of its industrial investment in research.  He was the richest man in modern Italian history.  At one time, Agnelli controlled more than one-quarter of the Italian stock exchange, a control unparalleled on any world stock market.  It is amazing to me how much power can come from just making cars.

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Agnelli’s life was one of finance and hedonistic fantasy, with himself as the company chairman, and the Italian playboy.  Married to a half-American, half-Neapolitan noblewoman, he was known for his pursuit of beautiful women and sports cars.  His affairs included actresses Rita Hayworth, Hedy Lamarr, “La Dolce Vita” star Anita Eckberg, among others.  One of the more salacious stories is of an affair with Jacqueline Kennedy, before she married Aristotle Onassis.  The rumor includes the allegation that John F. Kennedy Jr. was actually his illegitimate son.

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Agnelli was also a major trendsetter in fashion.  Esquire magazine named him as one of the five best dressed men in the history of the world.  He was famous for introducing the spread collar shirt, and the loosened off-kilter tie.  He wore exquisite Italian suits with hiking boots, and had a peculiar habit of wearing his watch over his wrist cuff.  His nickname was “The Rake of the Riviera” and was popular enough to inspire a classic menswear magazine called “The Rake.”  His love of fast cars almost killed him…twice.  Once he drove his Ferrari into a tree and wrecked his legs, then he drove it into the rear of a meat truck.

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Fiat and its other entities moved the world.  The company built a huge plant in the former Soviet Union which became the linchpin of Soviet auto production.  He once sold 10% of the company to Libya, making Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi a partner in the business.  This move forced Libya to spend money it would have used for weapons, and also strengthened the failing Soviet leadership with Libyan investments.

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Agnelli also changed Fiat over the years.  He admired the American automakers modern methods of manufacturing, and copied them at Fiat plants.  He built better and larger cars for the European market, and overtook Volkswagen as the continent’s largest seller of cars.  He improved on quality, and reversed Fiat’s reputation of “Fix it again, Tony.”  Agnelli diversified Fiat, a move that saved the business more than once.  He linked Fiat with General Motors in 2000 with the provision that GM buy out Fiat by 2004.  It was a move eventually cost GM $2.9 billion to escape.

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Over the years Agnelli developed a close group of friends that included the Kennedys, Fords and the royal houses of Europe and members of the Politburo.  Other friends were a diverse group, and included Henry Kissinger, Margaret Thatcher, George Bush, the Clintons, Fidel Castro, Nixon, Reagan, de Gaulle, Onassis, and Winston Churchill.

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He also partnered on many US ventures.  He was on the board of General Electric and Chase Bank, and owned a major part of Rockefeller Center in New York.  He was also a member of the Bilderberg Group, the shadowy secret society that supposedly runs the world.  Gianni Agnelli’s life and death was like a Puccini opera.  He died in 2003 at age 81, on the same day that his family was to gather to argue about his will and legacy.  He was a symbol of Italy’s postwar renaissance, a country where the rule was “Agnelli is Fiat, Fiat is Turin; and Turin is Italy.”

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What does this have to do with cars?  Everything.  The history of the automobile is not just cars; it’s also the people behind the scenes…the designers, the owners, the marketing people.  Agnelli is an icon who accomplished great things, and his life is interesting to anyone who loves history.  For the gearhead, his life story should be required reading, because of his connection to some of the greatest marques in history, and also because it shows how one little car company changed the world.

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Article Courtesy of Chris Raymond

Photos Courtesy of Classicandperformancecar.com, bigpower.co.uk, autoham.ru, moteverdiclub.com, zcoches.com, cargurus.com, pistonheads.com, casa.mitula.it
Top 7 Cars USA Gave To the World This Decade

Top 7 Cars USA Gave To the World This Decade

The following is a sponsored post

 

With the ferocious competition coming from the European continent, the American automotive industry had to step up on all fronts: performance, style, and overall awesomeness. Disregarding the latest VW scandal, it is right to say the USA provided a series of awesome cars over the years, both for the American market as well as the international market. Here is a list of some of the best cars built by US-based automakers this decade.

  1. Ford Focus ST

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It is highly important to outline the difference between price-bargain and value-bargain. While low-priced vehicles will try its best to constantly remind you about its inferior capabilities, a car with great value (even if not the cheapest) performs differently. It will aim to provide the best choice within a certain budget. Although Ford Focus isn’t the cheapest choice in the compact class, it delivers a lot. Whether you are choosing the 140hp standard or the 252hp hot-hatch version, Ford Focus competes head to head against bold names in the industry: Mercedes, Porsche and Lotus. Expect to see and feel a pumped up version of a Volkswagen GTI, which roars and makes tires scream on every corner, while sweating power and rage through all its pores.

  1. GMC Yukon

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Falling right between the cheaper Chevy Tahoe and the more expensive Cadillac Escalade ESV, the 2015 GMC Yukon rests along the few remaining body on frame full sized SUVs on the market. Nailing the big, blocky theme, GMC Yukon is able to run from 0 to 60mph in just 5.5 seconds, competing directly with Porsche’s Cayenne GTS. The overall design has been improved dramatically compared to its previous versions, although some may argue there is still room for improvement, as Infinity QX80 has proven. Nevertheless, GM doesn’t show signs of closing up production of the model, thus we can expect even further improvements on design and functionality.

  1. Chevrolet Impala

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While being nothing more than a company fleet duck in 2013, Chevrolet did a complete makeover for the 2015 Impala, including interior design, bodywork and powertrain. All elements have been updated in order to produce a new vehicle able to stand out of the crowd. A 2.5 liter 4 cylinder engine featuring an aluminum block pushes the car forward with 196hp and 186 lb-ft. The bigger brother, a 3.6 liter V6 engine available in 2LT trim pushes the performance index even further. With a front-strut and rear multi-link suspension, 2015 Chevrolet Impala is able to offer a smooth ride along with a 21 mpg average fuel economy. Now, you may just stop by to check it out instead of passing by, unbothered by a dull design.

4. Dodge Durango

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One of the best choices when you need to look badass but still provide enough room for up to six people, 2015 Dodge Durango also makes the cut for the best American made vehicles of this decade. The unique Hemi sound coming from beneath the hood distinguishes Durango from other street vehicles, while the suspension and chassis work together to provide an unexpectedly high level of rigidity. Don’t expect to drive 2015 Dodge Durango like you would drive a sports car though; it is still a big SUV with a considerable curb weight. With premium features and an 8-speed gearbox designed for luxury cars, 2015 Dodge Durango also offers a rather affordable price.

  1. Cadillac CTS

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The CTS deserves the compliments for Cadillac’s continued renaissance over the years. The biggest news for 2016 is the replacement of the original 6-speed gearbox with an 8-speed automatic. According to Cadillac, the newly implemented ratios offer faster acceleration and a bolder sense of instant performance. The steering is alive and body roll is almost non-existent, with or without the optional magnetic dampers. A Premium package adds sophisticated features to the already pumped-up sedan, making it even more comfortable and enjoyable on the road. A 2L engine unit is responsible for pushing 268hp and 295 lb-ft to the wheels.

  1. Chevrolet Suburban

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Being on the scene long before anyone knew how to spell SUV or Crossover, the Chevrolet Suburban reached its 11th version this year. While other competitors came around and left in a hurry, the Suburban passed the test of time with impressive scores. The 2015 edition of the Suburban comes with a body-on-frame design sharing many mechanical underpinnings with Chevrolet’s Silverado. A 5.3-liter V8 engine makes use of a 6-speed automatic gearbox with manual shifting mode selector, delivering 355hp and 383 lb-ft of torque to the ground, through a set of 19” wheels. Buyers can opt between 6-seater or 9-seater versions, depending on what’s needed the most: more people or more trunk space.

  1. Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat

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We’ve left the best for last, and for good reason. With 707hp, there is little need for words when describing the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. It all starts at the heart of the beast, where a 6.2 liter supercharged and intercooled Hemi gives its tremendous force: 707hp and 650 lb-ft, enough to burn out a set of tires in seconds. Called the most powerful muscle car of the moment, the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat breathes fire upon everything daring to stand on its path. It scores a 0-60mph time of 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 165 mph. It travels over the quarter mile in just 11.1 seconds. The numbers could keep flowing, but at this point, it is basically useless. This demon-child is the ultimate American big-block car.

American automakers haven’t wasted any time in producing automotive products which can easily compete, and in some cases surpass, their European and Asian competitors. Everything from compacts to full-sized SUVs and insanely powerful models have been released by Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge. All working to improve the overall automotive market in the US and around the world.

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7.

Fear and Loathing in Design

Fear and Loathing in Design

Recently, I started talking to car designers, asking for information about their projects, the environments they worked in, and car design culture.  The responses were interesting, in that most were concerned about their jobs and did not want to be identified.  It was surprising that the same people who designed the Chevy Malibu, could not comment on their work for fear of retaliation.  The present culture is one of people who have witnessed their friends fired from jobs, and who think they could be next.  It is fear and loathing in the design studio.

John, our first designer, worked for GM, and was immediately turned off on big corporate car design.  He worked on advanced design, new production techniques, and in the energy efficient sectors, but could not be more specific.  For him, GM had an environment of waste and fear.  Thousands of dollars spent on items for the mock up of a car, and yet pennies pinched on the final product.  The environment made no sense to him as a designer, or as a consumer.

GM was the only company John wanted to work for, but when he got there in the early 1990’s he discovered a company that made poor choices in how they executed vehicles and spent resources.  GM was making disposable cars, not the classics and icons of his youth.

He eventually realized that he needed to search for a design firm that had a similar attitude towards design as his own.  Not satisfied with committees and bean counters, who distorted designs beyond recognition, he realized auto design was actually a small, closed world, where it was difficult to find work.

John felt that GM stifled much of the creativity needed for new designs, and the intense time constrains made success difficult. He summed it up best when he said, “A car designer left to his own devices will produce a 1966 GTO.  A car designer under the control of a committee will produce a 2006 GTO.”  He now works on industrial design projects.

There are still magical places where the designer rules, but not in the American auto industry.  It is only through innovative design, and quality products, that Detroit will finally shake off its troubles.

Article Courtesy of Chris Raymond

Photos courtesy of GM, Ford, Chrysler, and Google Images