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Friday
Feb192016

In Memoriam: Allen D. Vinikour

By Christopher A. Sawyer

Rest in Peace, Big Guy.I can’t remember the first time that I met Al, or the first time we drove together on a new car launch. That has been lost to time. However, my first memory of the man dates back to a GM Christmas party, held  in the lobby of its new engineering building, where we were watching a video produced to commemorate the retirement of Steven Harris, GM’s head of global PR. It was late 2003, I think, and Al played Harris as a man who had sold his soul to Satan to get the top job. The premise of the film was to see whether those in line for the job would similarly sell their souls to get the corner office. The video was funny, and Al played the part with a subtle malevolence that made you think he had done the Devil’s deal. Steve Harris capped his short speech with a sarcastic, “I can die in peace knowing that I have been so sympathetically portrayed by Al Vinikour.” Across the room, you could see Al beaming.

Not long after, I was attending a vehicle launch and needed a driving partner. My usual go-to pair, Tom Lankard and Ann Job, were attending and driving together, and the list of attendees the PR folks had so graciously sent me ahead of time didn’t look promising. That’s when I spotted Al’s name on the list. A quick e-mail asked if he was available. Unfortunately, Al already had “a date” as he put it, but he steered me to a safe alternative. On the trip, I was invited to join Al’s group at dinner, and we became fast friends.

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Friday
Feb122016

Kids Shouldn’t Need Scuba Gear to Breathe in a Car 

By Al Vinikour  

Al is right, you'd have to be a big dummy to smoke with kids in the car.There’s plenty of room on my ass for things that gripe it, but taking center stage are children riding in vehicles – particularly infants – and the interior looks like they’re smoking hams at Oscar Mayer. This diatribe is not a rant on smoking, have at it. But if there are minors in that car, DON’T SMOKE ‘EM IF YOU GOT ‘EM!!!!

Full disclosure: I’m a reformed smoker. Like most in my generation I once smoked. But as far as I recall, I never smoked when I had my kids in the car. The same courtesy didn’t apply to my father, nor did it to millions of fathers and mothers who thought nothing of creating their own steel mill inside their Oldsmobile. In fairness, it wasn’t until the early-‘60s that smoking — particularly second-hand smoke — was considered a health risk.

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Friday
Jan292016

Thighs Matter

By Al Vinikour 

There are some really beautiful vehicle interiors. Some have sleek center consoles while others have high-tech instrument panels and center stacks. Some others have creature comforts like cupholders and ergonomically-friendly temperature controls. But some vehicle manufacturers have decided that thighs don’t matter if it interferes in any way with their hallowed design.

Many vehicles have inside-door armrests that rub up against a diver’s and passenger’s thigh. This can lead reactions ranging from annoyance to pain-producing. Let’s say you’re driving from Detroit to Chicago — a jaunt of about 4-5 hours, depending on whether Officer Lucas has written his ticket quota around Exit 60 (Paw Paw) on I-94. After an hour or so, a numbness begins to creep across your upper thigh. Eventually you’ll start to lean over to avoid the problem and the driver behind you will wonder if you’re sitting on your tail.

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Friday
Jan152016

Tailgating: Vehicular Sodomy

By Al Vinikour

Oh wait, this may not be what Al meant by "tailgating".How many times have you been driving somewhere on a beautiful day, you’re in no rush, one of your favorite talk show hosts is on the AM dial and you sneak a glance at your rearview mirror and lo and behold…you’re about to be “mounted” (pardon the pun) by the vehicle behind you! It’s even more frightening when that vehicle is a Mack diesel. There have been times that one has been so close to me that I can darn near count the chambers in the radiator core. Short of creeping along at 2 ½ mph for three miles during a two-out-of-three lane-closure because of road construction, there is absolutely no reason for tailgating to that degree.

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Friday
Dec112015

Your Car is Your Baby, be a Good Parent

By Al Vinikour

I think it’s safe to say most people like their cars. It’s probably just as safe to assume most selected them personally. Completing the “hat trick” it’s probably just as realistic to assume purchasing a vehicle is not only a huge financial commitment but the purchaser is probably — at best — hurting for money. Makes sense that under those circumstances a major expenditure would be treated with kid gloves, wouldn’t it? Guess again, Mr. Wizard. To see the way people (don’t) take care of their cars is the reason junkyards have flourished for well over a century. When it comes to the thoughts that a person will take care of a car like it was a member of the family I’m reminded of the old adage, “The Road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” In most cases there must be a freeway off-ramp in front of people’s homes.

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