Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving's greatest automotive turkeys of all time

Today is Thanksgiving. Time for people to gather around a turkey and celebrate.

But around here, we are going to celebrate some automotive turkeys. These are the unloved, unlovely, and unwanted. Right or wrong, they are the cars people associate with failure.

Some of them really aren’t bad cars. Seriously, were Pontiac Azteks that bad? No. Were they ugly? Of course. They were so ugly that there has never been a “worst cars” list ever written after they came on the scene that didn’t include them. The Aztek is even on this list.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Automotive advertising from 1962

Where were you in ’62?  That famous tagline from American Graffiti inspired me to actually take a look at some of the old car ads from 1962, and see what was going on in the auto industry in the early part of that decade.  It was a pretty good year.  Cars were starting to transition from the excessive chrome trim, wide whitewalls, and sharp tailfins of the ‘50s.  Suddenly styling was cleaner, cars were smaller, and compacts were really starting to gain momentum.  General Motors in particular launched some nameplates that year that we’re still familiar with today.  Let’s check out some of the notable cars from the era.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Exploring Parkville in a 2014 Subaru BRZ

With work, family commitments, friends, hobbies, and kid’s activities, it seems like we’re always on the go.  That makes it hard to appreciate everything we have at home.  I recently had the chance to spend a week with a Subaru BRZ.  But instead of taking it on an epic road trip, I decided to explore some of the history of my current hometown, Parkville, Mo.  The punchy little sports coupe shuttled me to various local landmarks, and gave me a chance to appreciate some of the cool sights we have right here at home.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Outlaw Monster Truck Nationals secretly rock Kansas City's Kemper Arena

So here’s something you might not know about me.  I’ve attended at least one monster truck show a year for the past 28 years.  I’m not really proud of that, or ashamed, or whatever.  I just like loud, powerful race vehicles, and they often hold these in the winter when the regular car races are over.  Lately, there has only been one shot a year to see monster trucks in Kansas City—the Monster Jam event at the Sprint Center in February.  But last weekend, MAP Motorsports hosted the Outlaw Nationals in the old Kemper Arena.  Did I go to this?  Do you really have to ask?

Friday, November 22, 2013

On the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, we visit his limousine in the Henry Ford Museum

Today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.  Of course, we talk about cars here, not controversy and politics, but there was obviously a car at the center of this incident: that infamous blue 1961 Lincoln SS-100-X limousine convertible.  You may or may not be aware that that car still exists.  It is one of the cornerstone displays at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich.  I’ve been to that museum on a number of occasions, and Kennedy’s limousine shares space with some other very amazing automotive artifacts from throughout history.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cars of the 1980s

I was born in 1973, but I really started to notice cars in the 1980s.  There are plenty of valid arguments about how bad the cars from this decade were, but I still get excited about them.  Car companies were trying to meet new fuel and safety standards, but still satisfy the demands of enthusiasts.  It was a tough task, but they somehow made it happen.  Sure, the top-of-the-line Camaro Z28 only had 165-hp in 1982, but it looked good, it sounded good, and the advertisements were totally awesome.  The Heartbeat of America?  We Build Excitement?  Pure genius. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The "last" Camaro. A look back at the 2001-2002 Camaro SS


A decade ago, most people thought the Camaro was gone forever. There was no replacement in the works after the 2002 model year. There were disputes between General Motors and the St. Therese, Quebec assembly plant involving, among other things, the use of the Camaro name itself. It was a bleak time for fans of Chevrolet’s entry in the Pony Car wars.

And yet, if a person was looking for affordable performance, the Camaro was an unbeatable deal.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Jimmie Johnson wins 6th Sprint Cup series championship. But is he an athlete?

Sunday, Jimmie Johnson took home a historic sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship down at Homestead-Miami Speedway.  That puts him one away from tying the record of seven, held by Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.  And as of right now, there doesn’t seem to be any reason that he can’t beat that record.  Old-school NASCAR fans cringe at the thought, but Johnson’s Chad Knaus-led team is just that strong.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Car interior extravaganza. It's what's on the inside that matters

As the temperatures turn cooler here in Kansas City, people are going to be spending more time inside.  And so, we will also turn our attention inside.  Today we’re talking about car interiors. And why wouldn’t we?  Upholstery, dashboards, and steering wheels help define a car just as much as bumpers and taillights.  And most people spend a lot more time looking at their cars from the inside out.  So I’ve gone through my photo collection to find a good sample of interiors for your viewing pleasure.  Let’s take a look at some notable examples.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Ponies for Patriots honors veterans with Mustangs at Kansas City's Liberty Memorial

The Liberty Memorial is Kansas City’s monument to honor those who fought in World War I.  That’s a pretty good place to turn our attention on Veteran’s Day, and it even makes more sense here because the festivities were car-related.  The Mustang Club of Greater Kansas City hosted “Ponies for Patriots,” where club members and the Wounded Warriors High-Five Mustang all came out to show their support.  There were Mustangs in and out of here for two days, so this club was obviously very committed to this display.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Kansas City car shows and events, November 2013 - March 2013. Kansas City car museums

It’s safe to say that the car show season in the Kansas City area is officially over.  But even during the off-season, there are still things to do if you pay attention.  This isn’t the typical weekly calendar, but a list of all the off-season events throughout the winter months.  If you learn about other things that need to be added to the schedule, drop me a line.  This story will remain on top when you click the “Upcoming Events” tab for several months, so you can always go back and find it.  I'm also including a list of car museums that aren't too far from home that you might want to check out.

As usual, remember to call ahead on most of these—we’re listing some of them pretty far in advance.  Maybe I’ll see you out and about this winter!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Winding down the season at the Mafia's Pizzeria Cruise in Overland Park

We really have just about run out of car cruises around here this year.  That’s too bad, because I know there are a lot of car guys just itchin’ to display their rides one last time.  Luckily, there are a few late-season events, like the Mafia’s Pizzeria Cruise, which took place last Sunday in south Overland Park.  Quite a few owners brought their cars out to take advantage of food discounts and T-shirt giveaways.  It was a little overcast; a little breezy.  But it was still nice enough to enjoy a great afternoon of fun.