Friday, December 31, 2010

More than 100 photos from the legendary I-70 Speedway in Odessa, Mo. The most awesome race track I've ever been to

I've been in the picture scanning mode lately, and I decided to go all-out and share my photo collection from what is easily the most interesting job I had, working in the front office of I-70 Speedway in Odessa, Mo.

I-70 was a Kansas City racing institution. Opened in 1969 by salvage yard owner Bill Roberts, the track proved to be one of the fastest, toughest, most significant venues in the Midwest. For its time, I-70 Speedway was state-of-the-art, with modern concession stands and restrooms, individual boat-type seats in the grandstands, and a VIP suite/media center. Short tracks didn't get much better than this.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Remember your old cars with a scale model

Like most people, I sometimes miss the cars I sell. Usually, I get rid of them for a good reason—like the new one is better—but still, I get attached to them.

Of course, unless you have unlimited funds, you can’t keep ‘em all. And since that is the case, maybe the next best thing is to pick up a diecast or build a model of your long lost prized possessions.

I got in the habit of building a model of whatever car I own years ago. Truth be told, my models aren’t show winners or anything, but they mean something to me. I still find myself studying my old models and thinking about what it was like to drive that car, or I think about the fun places I went in that car. I’m pretty sentimental anyway, so it doesn’t take much to send me into dreamland.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

America's family sedan. The history of the Chevrolet Impala

For some 50 years, the Chevrolet Impala has been a perennial best-seller in American driveways. And there’s a good reason for that. They’re larger than most cars in their price range, have a record of reliability, and carry a history like no other family car on the market.

Impalas are a pretty common sight around my house. Right now, we have three—my wife’s 2007, my ’96 SS, and a 2004 that we purchased new. We were supposed to trade the ’04 in on the ’07, but it was such a good car, we decided to keep it. So yeah, the leaping deer logo is pretty familiar in our garage.

The Impala started as an upscale trim option in 1958. Bumping the lavish Bel Air from the top of the food chain, those long, chrome-drenched first Impalas were everything people loved about 1950s automotive style. When you look at a ’58 Impala today, it is hard to imagine that this over-the-top, highly-detailed land yacht sits in the same place in the market as the current car, but that’s how it was. You could order your fancy new Impala with anything from a 235-c.i. straight-six, to a monstrous 348 V8. And these X-framed cars are still revered by collectors today.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Vintage car dealership photos from the 1950s, '60s, and '70s. The mother lode

I'm a real sucker for old car pictures. And nothing captures the feel of old cars more than the places they were sold. I mean, look at the top of this page--the whole blog starts with a picture of my granddad's used car lot from the 1940s.

When you look back at old car dealership photos, you're not just looking at a few cars parked around a building. You're looking at someone's hopes and dreams. You're looking at history before it happened. Someone may have saved their whole life to purchase the thing you're looking at there. Maybe it ended up driving them to their wedding. Maybe someone eventually died in that car.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills is a stunning showcase of Chrysler's storied history

Chrysler Turbine Concept

There is a lot of news about Chrysler Corporation lately, and much of it is bad. When you are bombarded with all the headlines, it is easy to forget just how significant this company really has been in this country.

I was reminded of that fact earlier this year when I took a tour of the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills, Mich. This 55,000-square-foot facility holds three levels of rare and interesting vehicles from Chrysler’s storied history.

Some of my favorites included concept cars such as the 1941 Chrysler Thunderbolt, the 1941 Chrysler Newport, and the 1953 Chrysler Ghia Special. Seriously, where are you going to be able to see these unbelievably rare cars together in one place?

Friday, December 10, 2010

The vicious cycle of Pixar Cars diecasts revisited

My wife called me at work from Target today and asked me if we had already bought a bunch of new Pixar Cars diecasts to give to BHo yet. I’ve already purchased several of them this year, but I honestly couldn’t remember from her descriptions if we had them or not.

The following story is something that I originally posted on the Examiner when I first started writing there. But it reminds me of today’s incident, and pretty much sums up the Cars situation, even two years later …

These things are killing me!

At first, it wasn't so bad. My son loved the Pixar Cars movie, so when they came out with a nice little Lightning McQueen diecast, and a nice little Tow Mater diecast, it made sense to grab 'em.

He carried those two cars around everywhere; clutched tightly in his little hands. He loved them. So we didn't think twice when they came out with the menacing Chick Hicks, or the Doc Hudson car. I mean, he was so into them, he had to have the whole set, right?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tubemobiles! Local cars that came straight from Hollywood movies and TV shows

General Lee in KC!
Kansas City isn't exactly the entertainment capital of the world. Not many movies are made here. It would be unusual to see Tom Cruise in the local Starbucks. They don't tend to block off the streets to film car chases. If you can make it here, you might not be able to make it somewhere else.

But if you go to enough car shows around town, so start to see a distinct Hollywood influence. Real and recreated TV and movie cars are all over the place, and you can really have a brush with fame when you see these cars for real.

In case you hadn't noticed, I'm a total sucker for old car-related movies and shows. So when I see one of these celebrity cars around here, I notice it. I mean, the General Lee can clear a barn by hitting a ramp made from hay bails. Who wouldn't want to see something like that in person?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

On the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, we look back at the contributions of American car companies during World War II

People often have a hard time differentiating American vehicles from foreign vehicles these days. The complex equation of assembly plant locations, company headquarters, content origin, and marketing message can throw off even those who want to support the home team. General Motors is partially owned by the tax payers. Chrysler now has a foreign owner. Toyota and Honda build a few of their vehicles in the U.S. What does it all mean?

Well, if you appreciate the notion of being loyal to companies that have historically been loyal to America, it is hard to ignore the efforts of GM, Ford, and Chrysler. During some of the bleakest times in our nation’s history, these companies have stepped up to the plate to help keep our military strong, and our borders safe.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Mecum auction brought the national spotlight to Kansas City. More than 400 photos from the December 2010 event inside

Nice Bird, huh?  It sold for $186,000!
 Well, the weather outside might be frightful, but the convention center was pretty delightful. This weekend, the Mecum Collector Car Auction was held in downtown Kansas City, and after a month's dry spell of virtually no car shows, the inside of Bartle Hall was a welcome sight.

There was a real assortment of cars at this sale. You could pick up something for under $2,000 if you weren't too particular. But among the beaters and Saturday night cruisers, there were some real heavy hitters.

The top-selling vehicle was a supercharged '57 T-Bird that went for a breathtaking $186,000. A '66 "Big Tank" 427 Corvette traded hands at $141,000. And another '57 'Bird, this a dual-carb E-Code number dressed in yellow, sold for $132,000. There was also a real '65 Shelby GT350 Mustang that failed to sell after a high-bid of $185,000. So obviously, there were some real cars, and some real bidders in the house.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Hover Motor Company introduces a brand-spankin' new messageboard. Free forums for local car clubs!

I've made it out to a bunch of car shows in the Kansas City area over the summer, and I know lots of you are checking out the site. I've enjoyed meeting some of you, and I appreciate all the positive feedback the blog has generated. I really do appreciate it, and I'm glad you seem to be enjoying the stories!

Today, I'm starting a new element to the online experience, the new Hover Motor Company messageboard: