Archive for the ‘Automotive History’ Category

Ernie Adams Dwarf Car

Monday, April 8th, 2013



Working on his property in Arizona, Adams is building cars. It’s hard to tell without another car for reference, but as you can see in the images above, 72-year-old Ernie Adams drives a very small car. Actually, the technical name is a “dwarf car,” a road-legal nearly-perfect replica of a full-sized car, and Adams built it from scratch. He’s been building dwarf cars since 1965 – all of them from scratch, by hand. Adams was apparently the first to do it.

A Dwarf Car is the end result of a dream Ernie Adams had. Ernie made his dream a reality by taking the design of early model cars and scaling them down to a smaller size.

At the insistence of excited fans, Ernie built a 1949 Mercury sedan Dwarf. This wide-bodied, low riding Mercury is fully decked out. With all its hand made chrome and amazing detail, people are awestruck at Ernie’s craftsmanship.

Here is a link to a Youtube video you might enjoy. It’s six minutes long.






Kugel Thru The Firewall Brake and Clutch Assembly

Friday, March 1st, 2013



Kugel Komponents offers a high quality thru the firewall brake and clutch assembly for the avid enthusiast. These assemblies have been built by Kugel since 1996. Available in both power and manual brake configurations with or without master cylinder or clutch. The assembly is compact allowing for ease of installation in tight spots. Assembly mounts to firewall inside your vehicle and above the floor thus removing worries about exhaust and ground clearance issues. Assembly shown features power brake and clutch with 1” bore cast iron master cylinder, clutch master cylinder and 8” dual booster. All master cylinders are available as standard fill or remote fill. Also offered are slotted brake and clutch pedals and a variety of pedal pads. Kugel also makes independent front and rear suspension systems. Check out the company website for other components and options they have to offer. In business since 1969, Kugel Komponents

has the experience and know how to supply your suspension needs.


Contact: Kugel Komponents  (562) 691-7006


Carroll Shelby Dies At 89

Saturday, May 12th, 2012




By Pete Lyons, AutoWeek


Auto legend Carroll Shelby died Thursday night, May 10, at Baylor Hospital in Dallas at the age of 89.

Carroll Shelby’s shadow stretched out Texas tall across nearly the whole of the world’s automotive landscape. A natural as a race driver, he won three U.S. sports-car championships in Ferraris and Maseratis, and for Aston Martin he won the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans with British co-driver Roy Salvadori.

Turning automaker in the 1960s, he fathered the Cobra, an Anglo-American hot rod of crude conception but stunning effectiveness that swept the tracks of North America and wrested a world manufacturer’s title from Ferrari. Additional success came with his makeovers of the Ford Mustang, which resulted in Trans-Am racing titles and the ferocious Shelby GT350 street car. As a team owner, he presided over Ford’s epic 1966 and ’67 Le Mans victories.

Shelby is believed to be the only person to win Le Mans as a driver (with Aston Martin), a manufacturer (class victory with the Cobra Daytona coupe) and team owner (Ford’s GTs).

Lew Spencer, once a Cobra race driver, says that working for Shelby was exhilarating. “He is a visionary in many ways, and a doer. He’s an idea man—Carroll gets great ideas—and he does not like details. He doesn’t like an office. He’s not interested in sitting around on a day-to-day basis. He wants another challenge, to move on to something exciting. That’s part of the fun of working for him, it’ll always be moving, nothing stagnant. There’s a feeling of fun, also a respect for the accomplishments of the man.

“He is an entrepreneur who borders on the con man—he is a legitimate con man. You have to be in this business. It’s the old American success story. When he gets knocked down—like with his chicken business [which was hit with a poultry disease]—he’s flat, he gets back up.”

Shelby himself, in the 1990 Autoweek interview, said he felt grateful for “being able to do the things that I’ve wanted to over practically a lifetime and been lucky enough to have been successful enough out of them that as I grow into, ah, into old age that I can look back with satisfaction over a life well spent. I really consider myself a damn lucky individual. I don’t think you can ask for much more outta life.”

Funeral plans were in process. Donations to the Carroll Shelby Foundation are encouraged in lieu of flowers. Information about the foundation can be found at

Celebrating 100 Years of Chevrolet

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

Just a few short years ago, it wasn’t certain that General Motors or Chevrolet would be around to celebrate their centennial. Luckily for all of us (in so many ways!), this is the year that Chevrolet is celebrating one hundred years of production.

There are many activities surrounding this anniversary; for example, local GM dealerships are having parties or open houses, and NASCAR and other racing venues are advertising and celebrating with special events and paint schemes on their sponsored race cars.

One fun way that GM is celebrating is the online contest to select the best Chevy ever made. They have created a dedicated website you can visit to look at selected Chevrolets from the past century and vote on your choices for best Chevy overall. The contest is being done in elimination rounds and the second round starts on August 16th.

It’s hard to narrow down the choices to a select few from so many years of design and technology. A few of the losers in the first round are arguably still winners. The 1932 Deluxe Roadster, the 2010 Camaro and the ’64 Malibu are out. So are the 1969 K Blazer and the 2011 Volt. Did you know that Chevrolet made a convertible Blazer in ’69? A brief overview of the cars that were voted out remains on the site so you can find some interesting information about models you may not know.

Left in the running are some time-tested favorites from many decades. The 1950s selections include the 1953 Corvette and the 1957 Bel Air. A 1960 Corvette Stingray and the 1969 Camaro are still in the contest. The only 70s era choice is the 1970 Chevelle SS.

Take a look at the contest to see if your favorite is still in the running. Which do you think will be voted in as best Chevy from the last 100 years? I’m torn between the ’57 Bel Air and the ’69 Camaro. But then again, a ‘60 Stingray is always a winner….Is there a Chevrolet missing from the contest that you would have included? How could they leave out the Monte Carlo? And no station wagons?

Regardless of the outcome of this contest, it is a good thing that the General is still around and our beloved bow-ties aren’t joining the growing ranks of orphan cars. Here’s to another 100 years!

National Collector Car Appreciation Day

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011


Vintage Transportation Examiner

Visit Steve’s garage at:


Most of us old car people appreciate old cars every day, but this Friday, July 8th, it will be official.  In 2010, the United States Senate passed Resolution 513 declaring a National Collector Car Appreciation Day.  The resolution was sponsored by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and Senator Richard Burr (R-NC). The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) and its Automotive Restoration Market Organization (ARMO) and Hot Rod Industry Alliance (HRIA) were a major factor in getting the resolution passed.  Car shows and cruises all over the country are celebrating our rich American car culture and history, and National Collector Appreciation Day will help draw attention to collector cars and the automotive history they represent. If you can’t make it to an event this weekend, take your old car out for a drive.  People love seeing a vintage car driving down the road, or parked in front of a store.  All the thumbs-up you get when you take a collector car out just confirms that most Americans have an appreciation for old cars.

No Fooling: AMC Gremlin Is Officially 40. Something.

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

It’s April 1st, folks. Time to celebrate the birth of the AMC Gremlin on this day in 1970.

These fun facts about the Gremlin are no joke. Seriously …

British airmen during World War II used the term “gremlin” to describe pesky little creatures that like to mess up engines for grins. Doesn’t sound like the best choice for a car … with a motor … huh? The brain trust at AMC decided a gremlin was really “a pal to its friends and an ogre to its enemies.”

The Gremlin was an early response from an American carmaker to rising gas prices and the influx of imports. Yes, it blazed the trail that the Chevy Vega and the Ford Pinto were destined to follow.

The Gremlin is a rare, bipartisan creature. Both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush drove Gremlins in their younger days.

The ‘Levi’s Trim’ upgrade introduced in 1973 was not, in fact, real denim. That would have been a fire hazard, apparently. But a denim-ish-looking interior with the hammered copper rivets and little red Levi tags? Imagine cruising around in that and listening to Foghat?

Motortopia has come cool Gremlins here and here. The former owner of one of these Gremlins seems to have made a James Bond-style short featuring his Gremlin and also featuring (!) Members Only jackets, zipper-head haircuts, and topsiders. View that gem here.

2012 Chev Sonic at Detroit Auto Show

Monday, January 17th, 2011

This fall, Chevy waves goodbye to the little-loved Aveo sedan and hatchback. But will the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic be the right subcompact to pitch against car shoppers already infatuated with the Honda Fit and Ford Fiesta?

The Sonic is a small four-door sedan or five-door hatchback, but it marks a big departure from the sleek contours of the next-bigger Chevrolet, the 2011 Cruze.

The Sonic sits on a 99.4-inch wheelbase; the sedan is 173.1 inches long overall, while the hatchback is 159 inches long. Compared to the Cruze, the 2012 Sonic is two inches narrower, six inches shorter and 500 pounds lighter, as well as 11 inches shorter overall.

It’s smaller than the Cruze, but the Sonic will share the larger sedan’s powertrains, which could relieve the one of the biggest fears of subcompact buyers, sluggish performance. The base engine will be a 1.8-liter four-cylinder with an estimated 135 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque; the optional 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder shares its 138-hp rating with the Cruze, as well as its 148 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed manual will be the base gearbox, with a five-speed automatic transmission offered–and with the six-speed manual of the Cruze on tap for turbo Sonics.

Ford Vertrek Concept At 2011 Detroit Auto Show

Friday, January 14th, 2011

This is the compact SUV of the future according to Ford. It may be called the Vertrek concept for now, but it’s actually an early look at the 2012 Ford Escape due out later this year.

The Vertrek is Ford’s next worldwide crossover. It may not get the same name in Europe as it does in America, but they’ll all be more or less the same underneath the skin.

Built on the same platform as the 2012 Ford Focus, the Vertrek concept is bigger than the Escape in most dimensions. Although the Vertrek is only about 4 inches longer than the Escape, the concept’s wheelbase is nearly 7 inches longer. The overall width is up by 2.7 inches.

The only dimension that is smaller on the Vertrek is its height, as the roof is nearly 2 inches lower than the boxy Escape. Ford says the sleeker shape of the Vertrek makes it 5 percent more aerodynamic than the Escape. We would have guessed it was even more.

Given its Focus roots, it should come as no surprise than the Vertrek is powered by a 1.6-liter, EcoBoost four-cylinder engine. Ford says the next-generation Escape will most likely use this engine as well as a 2.0-liter EcoBoost and possibly a 2.5-liter, normally aspirated four-cylinder.

2011 300C unveiled at Detroit Auto Show

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011


Olivier Francois, president and CEO of the Chrysler Brand, let it be known Monday that more than $1 billion went into revamping the 2011 Chrysler 300.

 ”It’s time for Chrysler to come back … for this car makes a bold statement without saying a word,” said Olivier. “Our objective was to make it even better. Quality is not negotiable.” Chrysler Group chose the Detroit event for the sedan’s worldwide debut. Assembled in Brampton, Ont., the 300 “is designed to give people what they deserve.

The popular sedan can be ordered in SRT-8 guise, providing one of the more powerful engines on the market at its price point. Power comes from a 6.1 liter HEMI V8, delivering 425 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque.

The sedan delivers a zero to 60 mph in the low five-second range, 0-100-0 mph in under 17 seconds, and 0.89 g on the skid pad. Of course, the engine isn’t the only part of the SRT model tuned for performance. The chassis has been tuned by Chrysler’s Street and Racing department, including SRT-tuned dampers, specially tailored spring rates and suspension bushings, and large-diameter anti-sway bars. Revised front and rear suspension knuckles contribute to a ride height that’s lowered one-half inch from the Chrysler 300C.

Detroit Auto Show 2011

Monday, January 10th, 2011

Buicks seem to keep getting smaller, and the new Verano will be the brand’s most diminutive new offering.

Based on Chevrolet’s new compact Cruze, the Verano is about 9 inches shorter than the Regal that debuted last year. (The Regal is based on the European Opel Insignia.)

GM says interior materials have been upgraded over those in the Cruze, and the Verano shares the larger 2.4-liter version of the Ecotec four-cylinder engine with the larger Regal. The direct-injected 177-hp engine, with 170 lb-ft. of torque, is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. GM claims a 0-60 mph acceleration time of about 8 seconds. EPA ratings are expected to be 22 mpg city and 31 highway. A 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine is expected to be added later.

The 49 jurors of the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards have spoken: the 2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2011 Ford Explorer are this year’s winners. The announcement this morning at the Detroit Auto Show drew a line in the sand for the contentious fan bases of the 2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2011 Nissan Leaf.

As passionate as green-vehicle fans can be about their personal favorites, however, the fact that electric or largely electric vehicles constitute two thirds of the finalists for the award speaks volumes about the industry’s recognition of the impact of the technology on the industry, not just now, but in the long term. Being the 2011 NACOTY won’t hurt the Volt’s case, though.

The truck category was a bit less heated, with Chrysler vehicles in two of the three finalist spots. The winning 2011 Ford Explorer joined the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango to make it an all-American shutout.

American dominance in trucks is unsurprising: American brands have taken the truck win 11 times over the award’s previous 17 years. In the last five years, however, Japanese carmakers (Honda and Mazda) have edged out the win twice.

Last year’s NACOTY winners were the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid and the 2010 Ford Transit Connect van.

The original pool of over 50 vehicles nominated for a 2011 NACOTY award were eliminated over a series of votes, narrowing the field to 28 then to six, and finally, to the two top vehicles of the year

2011 North American Car of the Year Nominees

Audi A8
Buick Regal
Chevrolet Cruze

Chevrolet Volt
Ford Fiesta

Hyundai Sonata/2.0T/Hybrid
Infiniti M37/56
Jaguar XJ

Kia Optima
Mazda Mazda2
Nissan Juke

Nissan Leaf
Volkswagen Jetta
Volvo S60