Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Topps World on Wheels collector cards - for kids that weren't into baseball

Collecting baseball cards is a favorite American hobby, but as we’ve determined here before, some people are too into cars to have time for other sports.

For those people, I would like to introduce the Topps World on Wheels collector card series. Produced between 1953 and 1955, these vintage bubblegum cards are popular among card collectors and car lovers alike.

180 different cards were produced for this series, but the last 20 are the most collectable. It is possible that the series was supposed to stop at the 160 mark, but they proved to be so popular that a limited run of new cards were produced.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Henry Ford Museum claims to be America's Greatest History Attraction, and they certainly make a good case for that

One of the greatest displays of historic cars and memorabilia in the world is the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich., just adjacent to Ford’s Greenfield Village.

You could easily spend a day in the museum alone, because most of the displays are either so historically relevant, or simply so interesting, that it is hard to take your eyes off of them.

The museum’s biggest claim to fame is the infamous ’61 Lincoln presidential limousine in which John F. Kennedy was assassinated. But if you’re looking for a big pool of dried blood and the missing piece of evidence that can once-and-for-all clarify what happened for the conspiracy theorists, you’ll have to limit your search to the grassy knoll. As far as the limo is concerned, soon after Kennedy’s death it was sent back to coachbuilder Hess & Eisenhardt and up-fitted with an armor-plated top, more power, and a fancy new paintjob. The parade car continued to be used by presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter until it was finally retired in 1977. Nevertheless, it is interesting to look at that car and think about what it went through.

Final Downtown Liberty car cruise was a good one. Almost makes you wish 2011 was already here

Saturday night's Liberty car cruise was somewhat bittersweet. On one hand, the turnout was absolutely fantastic. Cars were double-wound all the way around the Historic Downtown Square. They were up and down side streets. They were parked backwards, forwards, and sideways. They were everywhere.

On the other hand, this was the last Liberty cruise of the year. It almost seems to early to bid farewell to such a popular monthly get-together.

This event is a combined effort of the Historic Liberty Merchants, the City of Liberty, and the Mid-America Mustangers Club, and it is easy to see that the work of these groups has paid-off in regards to this cruise.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Big Car Show at the Great Mall of the Great Plains was an excellent way to begin the summer finale countdown

Nobody in their right mind could have spent Saturday anywhere but outdoors, and for the folks that love cars, The Great Mall of the Great Plains in Olathe, Kan., was a nice part of outdoors to spend it. This was what they called the "Big Car Show," and there were quite a few cool cars and trucks on hand to back up this claim.

This was a benefit for the Olathe Police Foundation, so there were some Olathe Police vehicles on hand, including a pretty official-looking ATV, a mobile command center, a motorcycle, and some police cars. There were even a couple of privately owned police cars on display.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The pose

When I was in high school, we had an assignment in our art class in which we had to draw a fashion clothing design in pen and ink. Most of the people in the class went with the typical woman in a fancy dress or debonair dude in a tuxedo.

I drew the guy to the left in the racing suit and helmet. You can date him at about 1990, because of the open-faced helmet, Heartbeat of America sponsorship, and the pair of Nike Air Cross Trainers that had an uncanny resemblance to those worn by the artist.

Is it a good picture? No, it is not. I don't even think someone's legs could bend in exactly that manner. But it is the way his legs are crossed that bring us to the point (however pointless) of this article.

It has been mentioned to me recently that most of the pictures in which I've "posed" with a car feature a very similar crossed ankle position. And sure enough, as I went through some old pictures, that has proven to be a fairly consistent truth, as you will see below.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Big cruises in Liberty and Belton, NASCAR in Canada, car shows, races, and more. Kansas City car events for August 27, 28, 29

The weather is supposed to be all sorts of fabulous this weekend, so there's no excuse not to have some car-crazy fun.  There are a ton of great car shows, cruises, and races going on all over town.  Saturday night, it's north vs. south, as two of the biggest downtown cruises in town go head-to-head, with Liberty for the northerners and Belton for the southerners.  Or look for more organized shows in Smithville, Olathe, and Bonner Springs.

Love racing?  Check out Lakeside, I-35, or any of the other exciting area tracks.  Or, if you just want to stay inside, the NASCAR Nationwide Series makes their annual stop in Montreal, Canada, while the Camping World Trucks are in Chicago.  We've got the full list of Kansas City car events for you right here.

Early Ford concept vehicles featured George Jetson-like space-aged designs

Compared to archrival General Motors, Ford got a late start on their full-fledged styling studio efforts. But throughout the 1950s and ‘60s, Ford designed concept cars became more common and more relevant, eventually leading to some of the most important production vehicles in Ford’s history.

In the beginning, there was Henry Ford. A genius for the ages, Ford managed to build a reputation for simple, affordable, reliable vehicles. It was a formula that worked, and flashy styling, chrome doodads, and trendy paint schemes were never part of that equation. By any stretch of the imagination, the Model T, and later the Model A, were enormous successes.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chrysler built some of the most beautiful concept cars in history, and some of them were even sold to the public. A history of early Chrysler concepts and their designers, including Raymond Loewry and Virgil Exner

Concept cars have always been a big part of the auto industry. Whether they foreshadow an upcoming model, highlight various ideas that might make it into production, or just feature over-the-top elements just because the automaker can, they have been wowing the public for more than 70 years.

One of the early pioneers of the concept car trend was the Chrysler Corporation. Chrysler was steeped in design history from the very beginning. From the lavish, Art Deco Chrysler Building in New York City that was commissioned by Walter P. Chrysler himself and opened in 1930, to the ultra-streamlined Chrysler and Desoto Airflow cars of 1934 – 1937, Chrysler was always looking for new ways to push the design envelope.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Father uses parade car pictures to disguise doting on his son during the Parkville Days Riverfest

Warning: there will be some personal, non-car-related information snuck into certain portions of this article. Reader discretion is advised.

Good little Parkville residents that we are, we dutifully attended the 42nd-Annual Parkville Days Riverfest in English Landing Park over the weekend. Parkville must be doing something right with this event, because there are so many people that ascend on the little historic downtown area that it almost makes you want to be someplace else.

For the last couple of years, our family has participated in most of the parades in town, a tradition we continued Saturday. The reason is that our son, the legendary BHo, earned his place among the entries by winning the Little Mr. Parkville pageant.

General Motors concept cars were produced when anything was possible. A history of the GM Motorama and Parade of Progress.

There was a time when families gathered in wild anticipation of the latest offerings from Detroit. Cars were more than just a means to get from point A to point B. They were entertainment. They were enjoyable. They were fun.
Nowhere was this more apparent than with the General Motors show cars of the 1950s/early ‘60s. People didn’t look at GM’s giant displays as a marketing intrusion. They actually looked forward to it. And when you look at the cars they were able to see, it’s easy to figure out why.

Sometimes it is hard to remember this in light of everything that has happened lately, but GM has one of the most illustrious histories of any company. There was a time when they could produce anything their imaginations could think of. And GM hired the best and brightest imaginations money could buy. Nothing was too expensive. Anything was possible. It was an amazing period of creativity.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Sunday Gladstone Cruise was a tasty way to cap off a long, hot weekend

After spending a whole weekend in the heat, we decided to cap it off with, what else, another car cruise.

This was the monthly gathering at the Hy Vee grocery store in Gladstone, Mo. The event is hosted by the Cowtown T’s car club, and they tend to have a hit-or-miss success rate with this one. We’ve been to this cruise when they had virtually no cars, and we’ve been here when they had way too many cars to fit in the limited space provided in this busy parking lot. But this weekend’s event was among the best yet, with plenty of nice cars, and just enough parking spots that they were mostly full, but there were a couple left here and there for al little breathing room.

Pity for NASCAR that Kyle Busch is so damn good

Kyle Busch made a record-setting run last week in Bristol by winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck, NASCAR Nationwide, and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events all at the same track, and all on the same weekend. It’s an amazing accomplishment; something that’s never been done before, and will be pretty hard to do again.

Too bad the guy comes across as such a jackass.

There, I said it. Kyle Busch’s public persona gives people the impression that he’s one of the most conceited, self-centered, whiny, abusive, oblivious, obnoxious jerks to ever strap on a helmet.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

2010 Midwest Camaro Fest continues tradition of excellence for 22 of Camaro's 43 years

The first production Camaro hit the streets 43 years ago. And for more than half that time, The Midwest Camaro Fest has been one of the biggest annual gatherings of the popular Ponycar in the country. Presented by the Camaro Club of Kansas City and sponsored by Superior Chevrolet, this has been the premiere show for Camaros for 22 years.

In response to the popularity of the Mustang starting in 1964 as a '65 model, the Camaro has been making its own history ever since the first car rolled off the assembly line. Chevrolet claimed the name Camaro meant “friend” or “pal” in French. And consumers quickly befriended the latest downsized entry from the Bowtie Brigade. Ponycar fever was at full-pitch in 1967, and people just couldn’t get enough of the new Camaro.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Dodge LaFemme, the first car designed for Your Majesty, the modern American woman

Imagine this scenario. Dodge takes the new Charger, offers it with a pink and white paint job and flowered fabric upholstery, includes a built-in purse and makeup compact, and unapologetically markets it to women. Doesn’t sound like it would make it through the marketing department, does it?

Well, 55 years ago, Dodge tried this exact same scenario, and it absolutely did make it into dealer showrooms. The car was called the “La Femme”, and it explored every female stereotype known to man. It seems fascinating today that a major car company actually produced this car. But it is hard to look back on the La Femme and not feel a bit of quaint ‘50s nostalgia.

Dodge actually based this idea off of a couple of 1954 Chrysler Newport show cars. The Le Compte show car was geared exclusively toward men, and the La Comtesse was supposed to appeal to women. The marketing department at Chrysler Corporation was aware that women were making many of the purchasing decisions when it came to the family car, and after observing a positive reaction to the La Comtesse, they decided to go ahead and apply the ‘for women only’ theme to a specially designed production Dodge.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Adesa Corvette and Specialty Car Auction was the perfect cure for the stuck in the office blues

Usually my day consists of sitting behind a computer screen in a cubicle doing research, entering data, answering e-mails, and taking phone calls. Day in. Day out. I do it on Monday. I do it on Tuesday. I do it on Wednesday. I'm sure you can see where this is going. Sometimes the biggest excitement of the day is when I have to get up and go to the can.

But then sometimes, something cool comes up, and I get to see daylight for an hour or two! When my dad called and asked if I wanted to go to the collector car auction at the big Adesa facility in Belton on Thursday, I couldn't get out of there fast enough. I think I might have even knocked some of the cubicle walls over.

NASCAR in Bristol, Midwest Camaro Fest in Riverside, Sprint Bandits at Lakeside, cruises, car shows, races, and more. Kansas City car events for August 20, 21, 22

There are some pretty big car events going on around Kansas City this weekend. The Midwest Camaro Fest in Riverside is always one of the best shows of the year if you like Chevy’s interpretation of the Pony Car. The Sprint Bandits have a big two-day, open-wheel Sprint Car show at Lakeside Speedway. And if you want to enjoy your car time in the comfort of your air conditioned home, the big guns from NASCAR will be at the Bristol Motor Speedway for one of the most action-packed events they’ll have all year. However you want to look at it, there are tons of places for car lovers to rendezvous this weekend.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

You can't swing a dead cat at a car show without hitting a '57 Chevy

I was looking through my old car show pictures the other day, and I started noticing all the '57 Chevy pictures I've taken over the past year. There are more than you might think, considering that if there's a big display of cars, I tend to skip over '57 Chevys sometimes.

Not because I don't like them. But there are just so many of them. I went someplace a few weeks ago that had a cruise scheduled, only one car showed while I was there, and it was a '57 Chevy. Why are there so many of these around, anyway?

Well, they’re the car you would most expect to see in a movie about the '50s, in magazines, in books, or reviewed in the classic cars section of the newspaper. They’re the subject of toys and models in every size and style. They’ve been featured on neon signs, kid’s hamburger meal boxes, and portable radios.

It is easy to throw the word “icon” out there on things that don’t deserve it. But this is the granddaddy automotive icon that transcends all others.

Long-closed car museum loaded with incredible hidden treasures including Clark Gable's Auburn and a Stutz Bearcat. Amazing photo slideshow!

Everywhere you turn, there’s another story about an old car that has been sitting in solitude for a few years, and everyone gets excited about the prospect of a “barn find.” You hear it so much anymore that the term is almost becoming cliché.

Often, the barn find is nothing more than a dried-up ’78 Camaro Berlinetta that someone dumped in a shed for 20-years. Well this barn find, friends, is not like that.

Roll back the clock more than 70-years, and you will find a guy who loved Classic cars (classic with a big C), and on his way across the country, he decided to settle in a small, southern Missouri town. Even then, these cars had a novel allure, but they could be purchased for mere peanuts.

The man decided to open a classic car museum, and over the years, he amassed one of the finest collections of pre-war cars in the country. The unassuming original tin building and remote location would prove to distract passersby to what actually lived inside.

A couple of years ago, there was a woman who worked in our office who mentioned that her dad had a bunch of old cars in a long-closed museum. It was intriguing enough to the car guys in our department that we decided to take a field trip. I’ll never forget what I saw.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What this weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol would have been like 22 years ago

Imagine a NASCAR Sprint Cup weekend experience like this. You favorite driver has just won the Saturday Nationwide Series race. This is a fantasy, so let’s pretend it’s Dale Earnhardt, who was always my favorite driver. You leave the grandstands, cross over to the pits, and wait for Dale to finish his TV interview in victory lane. You are able to snag him as he leaves the winner’s circle on his way to his Sprint Cup car for Happy Hour testing, and he happily signs your baseball cap. No one else is around, so you get to bench race with the Intimidator for a couple of minutes. When he finishes with you, he climbs right in his black number three and takes to the track.

2012 Boss 302 brings yet another special version to the Mustang lineup

I'll admit, I'm a Chevy guy at heart, but sometimes we have to throw in something about interesting new products from the Blue Oval to appease the Ford fans in the crowd.

If there’s one car that’s not lacking for special editions, the Ford Mustang is it. In the past few years, we’ve seen the GT, the Shelby GT500, the Shelby GT500KR, the GT500 Super Snake, the California Special, the Hurst, the Parnelli Jones Saleen, the Dan Gurney Saleen, the various Roush and Steeda entries, the Iacocca edition, the Mustang Club of America edition, the Bullet edition, the Warriors in Pink edition, the 45th Anniversary edition, the Av8r, and probably a dozen or so more. So the news here shouldn’t be that big of a shock to anyone …

Ford introduces the new 2012 Boss 302 Mustang.

This one is intended to handle well on the roadcourse, with stiffer springs and suspension bushings, fatter stabilizer bars, and adjustable shocks and struts. And we’re not talking about adjustable with a handy knob on the dashboard, either. If you want to dial this baby into race mode, you need to get out and crank on the shocks with a screwdriver. If you really want to get into the spirit, you can wear a T-shirt that says “Pit Crew” on the back while you’re doing that, just like a real racing crew member.

Monday, August 16, 2010

50-year-old customized '40 Ford model kit survives in spite of the temptation to play with it

When I was a kid, my dad’s childhood bedroom was still in my grandparent’s house. There was a big glass case in there that held several model cars that my dad built back in the early 1960s.

One of the models that always stood out to me was this’40 Ford Sedan “Kustom”. I mean, it was purple, and it had eyeballs. Plus it was sealed behind glass, so it was completely unattainable, and my dad sort of freaked out if I got near the glass. It was the forbidden fruit of model cars.

I got the last laugh, though, because through the course of everyone moving and moving out, packing, boxing, and unpacking things along the way, the model has taken residence in my house for more than a decade now. And I can play with it anytime I want to, thank you very much.

The only bad part is, it’s too cool to play with.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Corvettes on the Square presented by the KCCA had some of the most awesome Corvettes you'll ever see in one place in Kansas City

You've probably noticed that I'm a pushover for Corvettes, and I don't think I've been to a better Corvette gathering in Kansas City than the 10th Annual Corvettes on the Square event on August 14, 2010 in the historic Downtown Independence Square.

Hosted by The Kansas City Corvette Association, proceeds from this year's event went to Camp Quality, a camp for kids with cancer.

The theme for this year's event was "get your kick's in a C6," and there were certainly plenty of 2005-2010 Corvettes on display. They were all very nice, but the favorites had to be the new Grand Sports, of course the venerable Z06's, the race-inspired limited edition C6-R's, and one example of the awesome new ZR1, complete with custom-applied blue stripes over the glossy black finish.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Crazy commute this morning!

So I’m driving my Impala to work, when I notice the brake pedal goes all the way to the floor. I immediately know the problem—some no account goon cut the rubber brake lines. I look down at the speedometer, and even though it says I’m going 43, I can tell I’m doing like a buck-twenty. Not good.

I look down at my shoe, and it is frantically pumping the brake pedal to no avail.

Then to make matters worse, there’s a 14-car pileup on the highway ahead of me, and the road is completely blocked. Luckily, there’s a rollback parked with the ramp down, so I aim for that and hang on. Thank goodness I was able to clear the entire accident! My car completely wadded up and collapsed upon impact, but when I opened my eyes it was OK again.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The difference between dad's and kids when it comes to choosing the family Corvette

Wednesday, we had a scheduling issue that left BHo with no one to watch him. I was rewarded with an all-too-rare opportunity to have a full day with just him and me, to go out and do things that dads and six-year-old kids do.

One thing we did was set up a new television stand so we could carve out a place for the Wii that has been sitting unopened in its box for several months now. Is it just me, or do other people get discouraged when they're an hour into assembling a giant piece of pressed wood furniture, and there's still so many panels and little screws that it doesn't look like they've made a dent? I also manage to put at least one piece together upside down and have to take out like 100 screws to make it right.

Anyway, we also made a field trip to Vintage Vettes, L.L.C. in North Kansas City. I had never been there before. I actually just learned it was there recently. But the website looked like something I needed to be a part of.

And I'll tell you what, the website was right. There was some awfully cool stuff in there if you love Corvettes. It was also a grim reminder of how little money I make, and how as I follow what seems to be my destiny, I will never own anything in that place.

The Devil's Semi: The CFI Red Racer, Pikes Peak, and bringing it to KC

Since my parents are from Colorado, we always made it a tradition to go to the Pikes Peak Hillclimb.  In the late '90s, they started an exhibition class for Semi trucks. CFI trucking was one of the first, and they built this truck called the Red Racer to tackle the mountain. Now, to traverse tight, narrow hairpin turns and huge drops, they came up with a full-length, ten-wheel, Conventional sleeper cab Kenworth T2000.

What these pictures don't show is how much the back of it slid sideways going around our spot at Brownbush Corner, how much dirt and thick black smoke it left behind, how much the body of the truck listed in the turn, or the fact that he never let off the throttle taking that turn.

I've been to a lot of different kinds of racing, and seeing and hearing that truck go around there was one of the top five moments I've ever seen. It was completely unexpected, and just heart-stopping. You should have heard everyone cheer and yell once he got by.

So anyway, I worked for the two local NASCAR circle tracks, Lakeside and I-70 Speedways in Kansas City, and one of the things I used to like to do was plan some kind of little sideshow at intermission. We didn't have any budget, so it had to be free.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Welcome to Hover Motor Company. Let's sit down, light a cigar, and talk some cars.

Hover Motor Company. What is that anyway?

Back in the 1930s, my granddad, Robert Hover, opened his first Hover Motor Company used car lot in Colorado Springs. He was in business through the 1970s, until he finally gave up to enjoy the sedentary life. And that's where I came in.

Our family used to visit my grandparents in Colorado pretty often when I was a kid, and the dominant conversation was stories my dad and granddad would tell about things that happened involving the car lots.

I vividly remember one story in particular about what kind of damage certain animals will do to a car when you hit them.

You see, the car lot was mostly run granddad, dad, maybe some of dad's friends, or a small cast of characters that worked for peanuts. They would go all over the middle of the country and buy cars they thought they could make a little money on. So they'd ride the bus, take the train, or drive out and find something, and either drive it back home or flat-tow it. They did this quite a bit, and spent a lot of time driving at night. So they had the opportunity to clobber their fair share of creatures.