Archive for January, 2011

The 2011 Detroit Auto Show Huge Success

January 28, 2011

The 2011 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan just came to a close, and it was quite a special event as always. What better place for an important yearly automotive showcase than the home of General Motors and the capital of American automotive engineering. Attendance at this year’s show surpassed last year’s already robust count significantly, which goes to show that despite the uncertain state of the economy, astute automotive consumers are still interested in the best the industry has to offer.

One of the major players at this year’s show was high-end German brand Porsche, premiering their Porsche 918 Spyder RSR, a hybrid race car concept model. Chrysler’s booth also had a major presence, with the unveiling of the 2011 Dodge Charger and the Chrysler 300.

Some of the more exciting cars featured at the event included the 2012 Audi A6, the GMC Sierra All-Terrain HD Concept truck, and the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell electric car. The Audi A6 features a 295-horsepower V6, which boasts an acceleration speed of zero to 60 in 5.5 seconds. The 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell is extremely exciting considering the current green trends in the automotive world, as it is a 100% electric car featuring a beefy 526 horsepower engine. GMC’s Sierra All-Terrain HD Concept is a gigantic off-road pickup, with a monstrous 73-inch width and 21 inches of clearance.

Not only was this year’s show a great time for all, but it also raised $2.6 million for children’s charities in the Detroit area. The event generated almost $400 million which was a great boost to the struggling local economy. The 2011 Detroit Auto Show was a success on many fronts and any automotive enthusiast who has the chance to attend should certainly attend next year and for years to come.

Contributed By Fossil Cars Staff Writer

Surf Music Muscle Car Songs

January 25, 2011

There may be no genre of music that has paid more homage to the classic cars we all know and love as the surf genre. Born in Southern California in the 1960s, surf music and cars go hand in hand, with 1960s So Cal being ground zero for drag racing and hot-rodding. Here we are going to take a look at three of the top surf music car songs of all time.

3: Ronnie and the Daytonas: “Little GTO”

At number three is Ronnie and the Daytonas’ classic ode to one of the finest muscle cars of the 1960s, the Pontiac GTO. Featuring a 389-cid factory engine, and “3 deuces,” a lyric from the song that refers to its 3 carburetors, it was a feared road warrior in the LA drag racing era. The song features clever lyrics that are an interesting glimpse into the car slang of the day. “Tachin’ up” refers to the tachometer of the car, while “pon-pon” was a slang name for Pontiacs. The song also boasts that the GTO “beats the gassers and the rail jobs;” “gasser” and “rail job” referring to two of the more popular styles of drag-racing cars of the era.

2: The Beach Boys: “Little Deuce Coupe”

The Beach Boys’ bouncy shuffle “Little Deuce Coupe,” composed by Brian Wilson and Roger Christian, was the Beach Boys’ ode to the 1932 Ford Model B. The Model B was a popular car for hot-rodding as they were easy to come by and to modify. Released in 1963, the song made it to #15 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was one of their top hits of the ‘60s. Interestingly, the Beach Boys had little interest in cars, or surfing, and were largely crafting anthems that would fit in with the trends of So Cal youth at the time. In fact, Roger Christian was responsible for most of the lyrics, as Wilson’s knowledge of cars and drag-culture were admittedly limited.

1. Jan and Dean: “Dead Man’s Curve”

“Dead Man’s Curve” by Jan and Dean tops the list for not only being one of the most popular surf car songs of all time, but also for it’s tragic but too-strange-to-be-true back story, as the song proved to foretell the near deadly crash of Jan and Dean’s Jan Berry. The song is a narrative about a teenage drag race between a Corvette Sting Ray and a Jaguar XKE, which ended with the driver of the Sting Ray dying in a fatal accident while attempting to round “Dead Man’s Curve.” In the song, and in real-life LA, Dead Man’s Curve is located on Sunset Boulevard very close to North Whittier Drive. In a bizarre turn of events, Jan Berry would later nearly die when he crashed his Sting Ray, of all cars, on North Whittier Drive, very close to the location immortalized by the song. Sometimes reality is stranger than fiction indeed, and it is even stranger when it mimics fiction!

Contributed By Fossil Cars Staff Writer

The Gold DeLorean

January 21, 2011

The DeLorean DMC-12 was an incredibly unique, unusual, and frankly, somewhat strange car produced by the DeLorean Motor Company in 1981 and 1982. The DMC-12 was the only model ever produced by the short-lived brand, and it is generally referred to as simply the DeLorean. It is known for it’s low-sitting, rigid, almost rectangular body, and it’s gullwing doors. The DeLorean is also famous for being the time machine in the popular and iconic film Back To The Future starring Michael J. Fox.

While most DeLoreans were coated in brushed stainless steel, which was quite interesting in itself, three DeLoreans were plated in 24 Karat gold. In 1981, American Express launched a promotion in conjunction with DeLorean to sell 24 Karat gold-plated DeLoreans to Gold Card members for $85,000 a piece. The plan was to sell 100 of these special cars, but demand was lower than anticipated and only two were sold.

Roger Mize, president of Snyder National Bank in Snyder, Texas was one of the buyers. He housed his DeLorean for twenty-plus years at the bank before loaning it to the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. Mize’s DMC-12, VIN# 4301 features an automatic transmission and black interior. The other DeLorean of the two initially sold can currently be found at the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada. VIN# 4300, it is the one of three gold-plated models built to feature a manual transmission.

There is a third gold-plated DeLorean that was not sold in the initial launch. Baring the final DeLorean VIN# 20105, it was built in 1983 and constructed from parts that had been acquired as replacements for the two that were initially purchased. Interestingly, all parts were available except for one door, which had to be constructed later in an attempt to match the rest of the car. This DeLorean is now privately-owned, and is on sale for $250,000.

Contributed By Fossil Cars Staff Writer

Aston Martin In Popular Culture

January 18, 2011

Few names in the pantheon of automotive manufacturers hold the same sort of notoriety for elegance and mystique as Aston Martin. The Great Britain-based brand is a notable maker of luxury sports cars, and has been heavily featured in various forms of media throughout the years. Pop culture is a great reflection of the big players of the times, and Aston Martin’s heavy presence in popular entertainment is a good reflector of their impact on the automotive landscape.

By far the most relevant instances of Aston Martin in popular media can be found throughout the James Bond series of movies and books. The Aston Martin DB3 was featured in the novel Goldfinger as Bond’s go-to speedster, while the DB5 was prominently featured in various Bond films throughout the years. To an extent, Aston Martin and James Bond have become synonymous, adding to the adventure and mystery associated with the Aston Martin brand.

The onscreen presence of Aston Martin spans further than Bond films; in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 cult classic The Birds, Tippi Hedren’s character sat behind the wheel of a silver Aston Martin DB2/4. The 1969 movie The Italian Job featured a DB4 as the vehicle of choice for Michael Caine’s character. Aston Martin has also had a presence in popular television; Sir Roger Moore drove an Aston Martin DBS in the 1971 program The Persuaders.

The Aston Martin name has even crossed over into the rap music world, with multiple Aston Martins being featured in the video for Rick Ross’ 2010 song “Aston Martin Music.” The song is a celebration of excess and the finer things in life, and the extravagance associated with the cars perfectly fits the mood. “Aston Martin Music” was a big hit, and features heavy-hitting rap star Drake, who is the former child star of Disney’s Degrassi.

Contributed By Fossil Cars Staff Writer

A Look Inside Jay Leno’s Garage

January 13, 2011

Jay Leno is not only one of the most successful talk show hosts in the history of network television; he is also an avid car collector. He maintains a garage in Southern California housing over 200 fine collector cars and motorcycles. Leno has a passion for automobiles and does not simply house them as museum pieces; you can catch him tooling around the So Cal area in a different car every day of the week.

Leno’s “Big Dog” garage spans approximately 17,000 square feet, which is quite large for a personal garage. It features its own machine shop which is equipped to fabricate parts for all of Leno’s rare automobiles. Jay employs a tight three-man team, featuring an expert mechanic, an engineer who makes most of the parts in the machine shop, and a skilled body man to keep his cars in tip-top shape. There is also a gourmet kitchen at the garage where Leno can be found honing his culinary skills in his off time from the Tonight Show.

Big Dog houses a variety of certified classics from Jaguar, Fiat, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Buick, Saab, Benz and many other notable brands, and the collection spans 100 years of automotive history. It includes early steam cars including 1906 and 1909 Stanley Steamers, and vintage offerings such as a 1925 Ford Model T, and a 1913 Packard Model 38. It also features a good selection of rare 1920s and ‘30s Bugattis and Duesenbergs, and a wide range of Bentleys ranging from a 1924 Twin Turbo to a 2010 Continental Supersports.

Jay also has a penchant for speed as evidenced by his sizable collection of sports cars from Aston Martin, Dodge, Delorean, Lotus, Porsche, Shelby, Lamborghini, Mazda, Monteverdi, and other notable brands. Fans of American muscle cars will also find something to gawk at the Big Dog garage; it houses an original 1970 Hemi Cuda, multiple 1970 Dodge Challengers, and a 1966 Dodge Hemi Coronet 500. You can even find a nice selection of electric and hybrid cars at the garage, including historic 1913 and 1916 Owen Magnetics.

You can’t forget the two-wheelers, as Leno houses a massive motorcycle collection dating back to the early 1900s, featuring Harleys, Hondas, BMWs, Ducatis, Suzukis and more. Jay’s collection even extends to the realm of aviation, as he owns several vintage World War II-era bombers.

Although he now owns one of the finest assemblages of automobiles collected under one roof, Leno will always stay true to his roots. His most prized car of all is his 1955 Buick; it was the first car he ever bought, and the car he drove to Los Angeles to pursue his career as a budding comedian. In his early days as a starving artist he used to sleep in the car in between comedy gigs at small Los Angeles clubs. Jay recently gave his old stand-by the royal treatment, having his team outfit it with a big-block engine, a high-powered motor, and Corvette suspension.

Contributed By Fossil Cars Staff Writer