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Friday
May222015

Notes of Note

News, facts, and other stuff clogging our e-mail system.

According to Toyota GB, British birds (the fowl, not women) prefer Toyota vehicles. Dave Merchant from Henley in Somerset found that a family of robins built a nest in the engine compartment of his 80,000-mile 2008 Land Cruiser. He traveled more than 250 miles before discovering the nest, and parked the SUV once he made the discovery. The eggs have produced five healthy chicks who will remain with the parked Land Cruiser until they have left mom and dad’s place.

Driving America premiers Monday May 25th at 9 p.m. on the National Geographic Channel, and looks at the political, economic and social impact the automobile has had on America. According to the show: architect Arthur Heinemann added a new word and a new idea when he opened a “motor hotel” or “motel” outside San Luis Obispo, CA., and when the British took control of the Volkswagen factory after World War II they found both the Beetle and an unexploded bomb that — thankfully — turned out to be a dud. But the contention that President Eisenhower initiated the Interstate Highway System based on the fact that the U.S. Army’s first transcontinental motor convoy in 1919 stretched on for 62 days on impassable roads is rubbish. Like any astute student of war, Eisenhower saw how the autobahn allowed the Nazis to move men and materiel across Germany quickly. The memories of 1919 may have stuck in the back of Ike’s mind, but the still-fresh memories of WWII certainly held much more sway.

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Friday
May082015

Denise McCluggage: 1927-2015

By Christopher A. Sawyer

Top row, left to right: Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss, Denise McCluggage, Pedro Rodriguez, Innes Ireland, Ronnie Bucknam. Lower row, left to right: Rodger Ward, unknown, Dan Gurney.It came as something of a surprise that Denise McCluggage passed away Wednesday March 6 at the age of 88. Not because she was immortal or even ever-present; like McArthur’s old soldier she had faded away over the past decade, and was not present on many new car launches. It was, in fact, her absence that caused each of us in this business to file her away in our memories only to dredge them up when someone would mention that they had seen or talked to her. In no time, the stories would flow, each not a maudlin recollection of someone no longer with us, but a retelling of the fables surrounding a person still in the present. As long as she was alive and safe in New Mexico, they would remain fresh, and there was the possibility that new tales would be added to those already told.

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Friday
May082015

Saying "Goodbye" to the Hemi's Godfather

If you asked the average gear head who Tom Hoover was, they’d return a blank stare. Hoover, who died April 30 at the age of 85 following a long illness, was a member of the famous Ramchargers racing team, and often affectionately referred to as the “Godfather of the 426 Hemi.”

After a stint in Korea and graduation from Penn State University, Hoover joined Chrysler in 1955, and spent the next 25 years working on various projects. His first car was a Hemi-powered 1952 DeSoto, and his first job at Chrysler was working on the Bendix Electrojector, an early attempt at electronic fuel injection. From there, he moved into the engine lab, and attended the Chrysler Institute. It was during his studies that he met a group of like-minded fellow employees who were passionate about drag racing. Together they pooled their resources and ran a 1949 Plymouth Business Coupe dubbed High and Mighty under the Ramchargers name. It ran a donated Dodge motor with a prototype high ram intake.

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Friday
Apr242015

Piech vs. Winterkorn: The View From 30,000 ft.

By Christopher A. Sawyer

Well, so much for that. Dr. Piech resigned one day after this was written. Nice of him to wait. -- CAS

The problems in the U.S. extend beyond market penetration to employee relations, and the half-assed way VW executioves handled the Union vote.The latest in a long list of power plays by VW chairman Ferdinand Piech got me thinking about an airplane journey I took a number of years ago. I had been on a supplier trip (the timing would suggest it was one of the Bosch trips that occur on the even years between the Frankfurt Motor Show), and had enjoyed my time out of the office. Not only did I get to sample a lot of technology that is just now becoming mainstream, I actually had enough information and photos to fill a sizable well in the magazine. Unlike previous years, however, this return trip was a little different.

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Friday
Apr102015

Toyota Gets a TNGA

By Christopher A. Sawyer 

It looks like VW, Renault and Volvo aren’t the only companies chasing after modular vehicle architectures. Now Toyota has entered the fray with  the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA). This integrated powertrain and platform strategy development program includes tactical component sharing, and should reduce the pull on its resources by 20%. 

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