Sunday, January 30, 2011

The history of our 1963 Chevy truck, the history of your 1963 Chevy truck, and some 1963 Chevy truck pictures

I’ve mentioned in this column before about our old truck “Mater”. It’s a ’63 Chevrolet C-10 Short Bed Fleetside, and we have a great time tooling around in the old beater, taking it to car cruises, hauling junk to the dump, and dreaming about how nice it could be if we won the lottery.

Whenever I stop to get gas or have the old truck out and about, I usually run into somebody who had one like it, or knew someone that had one like it, or had a family member that had one like it. Lots of people have stories about this style of truck.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Let's take a look-see that the Motorsports Hall of Fame and Museum of America

In the never-ending quest to bring you coverage of car places, today I present my visit to the Motorsports Hall of Fame and Museum.

Located in downtown Detroit, Mich., the Motorsports Hall of Fame brings you a small collection of racing vehicles and memorabilia to help scratch that winter racing itch. 

Would I make a special trip from Kansas City to go see this place?  Probably not.  The museum itself really seems like an afterthought.  It is sort of squeezed in with the Detroit Science Center, which is one of those kid-friendly educational places.  Some signage posted here and there indicates that this may not even be the permanent location for this display.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Kennedy ambulance at Barrett-Jackson may or may not have been real, but Kennedy's limousine is without question

Kennedy Ambulance-the real deal?
 If you've been following the Barrett-Jackson auction coverage from Scottsdale, Ariz., this weekend, you no doubt caught all the hoopla about the 1963 Pontiac Bonneville Ambulance that purportedly carried John F. Kennedy's casket through Washington D.C.

The controversy stems because the consigner and Barrett-Jackson claimed the ambulance was the real deal, then Internet sleuths learned that the official ambulance had been destroyed by government order, then the auction basically said, "you're buying the mystery surrounding this car."

Kennedy limo-no doubt about it.
The auction had a long-winded "explanation" before the sale about how the VIN plates matched the records for the actual car, but one was screwed on instead of riveted, so they dug further, etc. Whatever. There are photos of the original one being crushed, although it's hard to understand why that was even necessary.

My guess is that the real one was in fact crushed, but this one, which was probably scheduled for the same fate at the same junkyard, was fitted with some of the serial number and VIN plates from the crushed one. Who knows, though. There's always some new mystery surrounding the Kennedy assassination--why should this be any different.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Why are all those Shelby Mustangs and Cobras worth so much at Barrett-Jackson? The story of Carroll Shelby

For the better part of the weekend, I’ll have my TV glued to the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction in Scottsdale, Ariz. This is a similar to the Mecum auction held in Kansas City’s Bartle Hall earlier this month, but the eyes of the collector car world tend to focus on this big dollar dog & pony show.

One name that pops up regularly, both at our auction and the event in Scottsdale, is “Shelby”. It’s almost like every other car is either a Shelby Mustang, a Shelby Cobra, or some kind of fake Shelby (the experts like to call these “tributes”, “clones”, or “recreations”, but let’s just call a spade a spade here). And one thing you quickly realize when watching these events is that tacking that word to a car is similar to selling it with a briefcase full of money in the trunk. Shelby cars tend to bring the big bucks. But why? What makes a Shelby Mustang, for example, worth exponentially more than a basic Mustang? What is the appeal?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Detroit Historical Museum gives you a lot of history, and a little bit of car culture

I was in Detroit last week for our annual visit to the North American International Auto Show, and while we were in the center of the American auto industry, we decided to check out some of the other car-related attractions.

One of our stops was the Detroit Historical Museum. Now this wasn’t a car museum specifically, but is impossible to tell the story of the Motor City without a heavy dose of car culture.

Probably the most memorable automotive display at the museum was the Cadillac assembly line. An operable body drop and several un-built 1988 Cadillac Fleetwood Broughams were arranged to look like a section of a GM assembly plant.

Monday, January 17, 2011

I might not have the winning Pinewood Derby tips, but we didn't completely embarrass ourselves

Yesterday, my son, AKA "BHo", entered the ranks of competitive auto racing. No, there were no fiery crashes or serious injuries, but he was able to run head-to-head in an all-out battle for supremacy on a 45-foot, four-lane track of hell known as the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby.

In a way, BHo is lucky we even made it there at all. His bonehead crew chief and father almost botched the dates. I thought we had like another month to get the car built, and my wife said something like, "when are you going to work on that car?" on Saturday. To add to the situation, I was leaving Sunday to go to the Detroit Auto Show, and wouldn't be back until late Wednesday night. Nothing like adding a little drama to the festivities.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The 2011 North American International Auto Show is the epicenter of the automotive world. Nearly 400 photos and coverage from Detroit

Do you ever look back on the old Motorama pictures and wish you could be there? The anticipation of the latest concept car, hidden under a flowing cover, just waiting to be unveiled to the world for the first time. The throngs of people and photographers, anxious to get their first glimpse of the future. The lavish productions, grandiose displays, and beautiful models, all meant to one-up the next carmaker.

That may seem like an event lost forever in the optimistic 1950s, but it still happens today if you know where to look. My office sent me on our annual trip to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last weekend for the exclusive media preview days. And even though you won’t find many tailfins ad nuclear-powered hover cars, you still get that high voltage kick that makes you feel like you’re in the center of the automotive world.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Wide Open Bike and Car Show gives a break from the winter weather

As the snow falls in Kansas City, it seems like a long time until we'll enjoy a car show again.  But the Wide open Bike and Car Show at the Metropolitan Community College Exhibit Hall at I-435 and Front Street at least gave people a small taste of the hot rod season.

"Bike" comes before "Car" in the title of this show, and for good reason.  This is primarily a motorcycle show, sponsored by Wide Open motorcycle magazine.  The arena was filled with custom choppers, fancy paint jobs, and airbrushed skulls.

Stars from TRU TV's Full Throttle Saloon, The Flaunt Girls, and even a real leprechaun were all there the day we attended.

Friday, January 7, 2011

You can get the history of Packard right here. You don't even have to ask the man who owns one

I think every story I’ve ever read about the Packard Motor Car Company opens by quoting their slogan, “Ask the Man Who Owns One.” And in a way, I can see why. I mean, what a great slogan, right?

The problem is, you just don’t run into Packard owners every day. The company hasn’t produced a mainstream car in more than 50 years. I never see them on my daily work commute. And even if I did find a Packard owner, I’m not really sure what to ask him anyway.

Packard built some fabulous cars in its brief 60-year history (with a couple of clunkers thrown in that barely brought the average score down). The company was able to compete toe-to-toe with makes like Cadillac when Cadillac was at its prime. And today, when you see a Packard from the Classic era, it is impossible not to be completely impressed. What is the pinnacle luxury car these days—Maybach? Rolls Royce? Bentley? Pshaw. There are certain Packards from the 1930s that give a whole different definition of what a high-quality luxury automobile can be.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The KC Classic Auto Display in Lenexa officially brings Christmas vacation to an end

Well, I've hit the end of the road. Having a week off around Christmas has been great, but tomorrow, the harsh realities of life set in, and it's back to the daily grind.

In a last ditch effort to incorporate a car activity that doesn't involve buying gasoline, Dad and I made a stop at the KC Classic Auto Display in Lenexa to see what vehicular treasures were in stock.

The KC Classic Auto Display has been in this old industrial building for many, many years. Occasionally, they'll get something that'll knock your socks off, but usually they stock a bunch of B-list muscle cars and cruise night specials. Some of them are offered for sale by the business itself, some are sold on consignment, and some are just being stored for the winter.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Big ol' car wreck on an icy road in Colorado Springs. It may be bad, but impossible not to watch

File photo of other cars on a slick road
OK, I usually don't post the video of the day, and I know it's wrong to be entertained by other peoples' problems, but there's something about this video that I find entertaining--in a twisted sort of way.

It's just a slick hill on South Carefree and Powers in Colorado Springs.  And you'll notice that in spite of the mangled, abandoned cars that already litter the street, more attempt to make it up the hill.

Anyway, if you've ever been a little out of control on an icy road, you'll probably experience a little of the pucker factor when you watch this.  But be warned: the guy taking the video says some bad words.  So if you're offended by bad words, or you have kids in the room, you know the risk before you click.