Fast Cars – The American Muscle

15448567132 3977b4ebd2 Fast Cars – The American Muscle
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In the 1960s there was a class of cars introduced to the world known as muscle cars. These cars were sleek and sporty and contained a powerful engine. Most of these cars boasted a V8 engine which was geared for speed. As these cars were produced the manufacturers were in stiff competition with each other. As each manufacturer tried to out do the other, we were led into an era of some of the fastest cars of our time. With no thought to gas and fuel efficiency, Americans seemed to be having the time of their lives. Their cars were fast and eye-catching, both on the road and on the race track. Racing stripes and flashy decals made a statement about both the car and the driver. It seemed the flashier the car the more desirable.

At a time when the luxury automobile was the king of the road for the married set, the younger crowd wanted something smaller, faster, and sportier. The Shelby Mustang and the 440 Roadrunner are two of the fast cars which were built to satisfy the desire for high performance and speed. There were many more fast cars to come. Camaros, Chargers, GTOs, and Firebirds all tried to pack as much punch under the hood as was possible. Corvettes offered speed and sleek style, but they also had a high price tag. Most of the other high performance cars offered a price that was affordable to the average working class people.

The Fuel Effect

During the 1960s and 70s auto manufacturers were riding high on a wave of speed and performance. Then we entered an era where we were told gas was in short supply and we were destroying the ozone with our extravagant auto emissions. We reluctantly let go of our fast and sporty cars and took to the streets with a V6 and even a V4. Gas mileage and cheaper insurance costs forced the fast cars onto the race track and off the roadways.

The desire for speed will be with us always. We will probably never again see a time when speed and high performance engines are sold for the every day street car but we can get a glimpse of these cars at the raceway or at vintage car shows. The baby boomers were around to see these cars at their inception and they still carry a torch for them today. Many will spend a small fortune to restore one of these original fast cars back to their former splendor.

The Car Market Is Evolving

15511887251 5cebce6dba The Car Market Is Evolving
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Which country makes up the largest segment of car buyers in the world?

You probably guessed it. The United States. With 299,398,484 citizens (according to the U.S. Census Bureau), coupled with a better-than-decent economy, it’s not surprising. But analysts predict that while demand for cars and trucks in the U.S. is unlikely to decrease, by 2025, the United States will no longer be the largest car market in the world.

Demand for automobiles has increased dramatically in countries like China as well as many other developing countries and by 2009, the Asia Pacific region is likely to become the largest car market in the world. Currently, Europe is the world’s largest continental market.

Indicators predict, however, that before the end of the decade, the Asia Pacific region’s demand for light vehicles will hit the 23 million mark – higher than ever before. With steadily rising incomes in Asia as well as India, a whole new group of first-time vehicle owners is emerging. Americans and Canadians have already topped out in this regard, leaving these developing countries to be the forces that drive the future global market, according to spokespeople at JD Powers.

How will this affect top sellers in the U.S. market? Chances are, it won’t. Americans will still drive their Isuzu Ascenders and their Ford Focuses. A thriving U.S. economy, as well as affordable lease options and payment structures, will keep Americans buying and buying often. With a median household income of over $46,000, Americans can afford to purchase or lease a new vehicle on average, approximately every four years (some of this is obviously driven by the popular 36-month lease option available with most new cars).

BusinessWeek Magazine reported that by 2010, the demand for cars will continue to dominate in the U.S., but the country’s car market growth will plateau at under 17 million. In essence, it already has. In 2000, the number of light vehicles registered in the country was 17.48 million. It dropped to 17.39 in 2001 and hasn’t been able to hit the 17 million mark since.

On many levels, U.S. regulations and the expectations of American consumers dictate the products offered by car manufacturers. For example, Isuzu’s upgrades and superior safety features in their popular i-370 pickup truck reflect the desires of Americans to drive high-quality, safe vehicles. While some of these enhanced safety features aren’t required by law, manufacturers add them to make their products more competitive in the U.S. Will consumers in Asia demand the same? It’s unlikely it will matter whether they will or not. The global car market will never be able to ignore the demands of the American consumer who will continue to wield the greatest spending power.

Foreign car manufacturers rely on a segment of the U.S. car market.

While that need may decrease over time, no company with a foothold in the U.S. is will be eager to give that up. Nearly every automotive trend to date has roots tightly gripped in American soil. From the surge in popularity of the SUV, to the desire for “green” cars and hybrids, to the pickup truck iconic of Middle America, the U.S. will be a major player in foreign and domestic car sales for a long time to come.

All The Tired Horsepowers

15563967742 95a72b6032 All The Tired Horsepowers
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Hearing of the massive layoffs in the local car factories erodes a bit the certainties of future and furthers the perception that things aren’t quite the same anymore. So much for the lessons of my youth that once spoke of a surety of workable lifetimes plus a pension fades as the corporate cut away for the leanness of times. Gone are those workplaces that guarantee a place for generations. One is forced to consider what may fall into place for awhile since no longer can one plan for fifty years. Now it’s a time for improvising since changes can occur quite often in one’s life instead of that once good place to settle. One could think one might get too old for adjustments but now survival demands newness no matter where one is at for the easy chair is no longer assured.

One could point a finger since it is an ignorant habit nowadays and say it’s all the union’s fault. Too much greed and too much benefit make the American worker obsolete in the global village of huts with no mortgages and paths walked not driven. Like an expensive habit that one would be better off not partaking of, the workers are the first to be cut. Nothing considered than just a matter of survival. Hopes are for the older ones having houses that are paid and cars that will last a few more years, because it’s time to work at Wal-Mart for six bucks an hour. Medical care can maybe be put on the state and that’s a hole for another year. The younger will adapt and try to survive, law of the species; nothing unusual. It’s too late to take ten bucks an hour instead of twenty; the cars are no longer sold.

Then again one could flip a single finger in the air and say it’s all mismanagement. Too much greed and too much bonuses made the estates that lined the lakes. Way too lopsided allotments for the upper class took away the cushion for hard times. There are those that will have to be cut but only the juniors, the rest are tenure, entwined within the company until bankruptcy. Most likely are taken care of, medical provided, well paid; just a company function. Now it’s time to cut the excesses and indulgencies and get real, scramble together and figure out what went wrong since the cars are no longer being sold.

Not that the cars aren’t sharp or classy, all shine and high tech, the ultimate in current know how of gadgetry and devices, the appeal is in the showroom. Vehicles built for power and grace, style and substance. All for the fleeting glance of prestige and recognition, nothing more than a symbol to attain and maintain. The profits were good and the benefits were great, the American way of life. So one could be fair and say that that it was the greed of many getting what they could from the company to live the best that they could. Yet the real culprit is the American way of life. It is the philosophy of America: better, bigger, and wait until next year. Cars were not built to last but to show. Look at my car and my house. Like the demands and expectations of a youth, or the tantrum of a child wanting attention, America is still young. The reality of a long life requires readjustments. Settle down and dig in. The future is always there for the practicalities of balance for longevity. Changes have to be made to become mature, a matter of common sense over charm. After all it’s only survival with a little grace to get by. America can no longer act like ugly Americans; as if we’re the only ones that matter.

American Muscle: Ford, Dodge, and Chevy

14960241054 9639a11801 American Muscle: Ford, Dodge, and Chevy
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Back during the 1950s through the mid 1970s, Detroit automakers produced several cars that were out and out “muscle” cars. These types of vehicles shared the same characteristics: they were two door coupes with souped up engines, responsive transmissions, an aggressive exterior design, and a sporty interior. High fuel prices and changing tastes eventually limited sales to the point where only a few models were produced beyond that period of time. Today, muscle car mania is back, despite even higher gas prices. Thanks to the Ford Mustang and to a lesser extent to sedan and wagon models from Dodge, there is new interest in a category long given up. The future is bright for the muscle car segment as one more manufacturer, Chevrolet, considers bringing back one of its darlings of yesteryear, the Camaro.

Besides the Ford Mustang there were a whole host of vehicles produced that at one time or another might have been considered a muscle car. In addition to the Mustang, the Ford Fairlane 500 and Ford Torino did duty; the Mercury Montego was another model; Chevrolet produced the Camaro and Corvette; Pontiac the GTO, Firebird, and Tempest; Olds the 442; American Motors’ had its Javelin; Plymouth had the ‘Cuda, and Dodge produced the Challenger and the Charger. Today, only the Mustang and Corvette survives although the Dodge Charger has returned as a four door muscle car along with its sibling, the hot Dodge Magnum wagon.

Interestedly, it took Ford’s redoing of the Mustang for the 2005 model year to stir the current muscle car era craze. Styled after Mustangs built in the 1960s, the current Mustang embraces a retro look while incorporating contemporary technology. The result has been that the Mustang currently sells its entire 150,000 model capacity without incentives.

The Mustang has been inspiring DaimlerChrysler to go ahead with a retro cruiser of its own. The Dodge Challenger concept car, appearing at auto shows across the USA, has been a huge hit and Chrysler plans on bringing the V8 hemi powered model back in 2009. In addition, General Motors is considering giving its blessing on the Camaro, another car also making the rounds of the USA auto show circuit.

So, isn’t it silly to bring back such gas hogs? Back during the early 1970s, the then current crop of muscle cars averaged only 10-12 miles to the gallon around town and 15 or 16 miles per gallon on the highway. Thanks to computer technology and efficiency, even the Corvette returns a highly respectable 28 miles to the gallon the highway. So, although fuel mileage will certainly be lower than many other models, the new group of muscle cars will still better the previous generation cars with fuel mileage 80% or more above the cars from the 1970s.

Fortunately, we still live in a fairly free country and what the consumer wants, the consumer gets. So, V8 powered muscle cars mated to 6 speed manu-matic transmissions, with sport handling, bucket seats, and better fuel economy will likely appeal to many. No, they won’t be exact duplicates of yesterday’s muscle cars, but they will provide the nostalgia and power that motorists seek. I can’t wait!

The Three Amazing Sports Car Collections

15418310330 3aff342ffe The Three Amazing Sports Car Collections
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While thousands of sports car fans have put together notable collections there are three such collections that will inspire awe and demands the attention of any sports car enthusiast. These three are Toad Hall, LeMay’s collection and Ralph Lauren’s Collection.

Bill Putman’s collection, known as Toad Hall, will have sports car fans seeing red. All of the cars in this private collection are painted red. Putman’s collection features imported cars from Bentley to Datsun, with an emphasis on the British makes. There is a Lotus represented as well. Toad Hall’s name comes from the children’s book the Wind in the Willow.

The LeMay collection, over 3,000 strong, in Tacoma Washington is certified by the Guinness Book of World’s Records as the world’s largest collection of cars. The entire collections of sports cars cannot even be viewed in one visit. The LeMay collection was started in the 1940’s by a waste hauling tycoon who started searching the area for interesting vehicles. The exhibit also includes other American history items as well as ambulances and fire trucks.

American fashion mogul Ralph Lauren is also an avid car collector and has opened his stunning collection to the public. The Boston Museum of Fine Arts showed the Ralph Lauren’s exhibit and states that he started collecting in the 1960’s.

It can be said that Lauren’s is a connoisseur of fine cars and chose the automobiles in his collection, from Bugattis and a 1950 Jaguar XK 120 Alloy Roadster based on their fashion appeal as well as speed. His newest addition is a speed demon’s dream, a 1996 McLaren F1, which can easily pass speeds of 225 mph.

Ralph Lauren has also collected car with celebrity ties. Included in his collection is the car James Dean was driving when he was killed, a Porche 500 Spider. On a happier note, the 1950 Jag mentioned earlier was driven by the Hollywood’s leading man Humphrey Bogart and his love, Lauren Becall.

While there are countless car collections from small time lots to museums, these three collections all offer something unique to the sports car fan. Toad Hall which emphasizes imports and red. The LeMay collection which is certifiably the largest and Ralph Lauren’s private collection which emphasizes speed and celebrity connections.

Hybrid Cars: The Future Vehicle Of Today’s Roads

Hybrid Cars: The Future Vehicle Of Today’s Roads

15418569810 c5f34b6a27 Hybrid Cars: The Future Vehicle Of Todays Roads
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Buying hybrid cars can be a little bit more complicated than what you might think.
The complication though, is not on the “buying hybrid car” part, but how to go about the myriad of hybrid cars to choose from. But just like in any other activities, there are some basics needed to be understood.

It is understood though that on this note, we have a basic understanding regarding the nature of hybrid cars, or hybrid electric vehicle (HEV). HEV has two energy sources for its engines: electric and combustion. On ordinary situation, like careening down the highway, this car generally runs on one or the other of the source, until the driver needs more power such as faster acceleration.

When this happened, the two engines will operate in unison. HEV cars are low emission, fuel efficient, some of the characteristics worth considering when people are considering buying hybrid cars.

In addition, hybrid cars recharge their batteries while being drive. This removes the necessity of plugging the car for electricity. This is unlike pure electric cars, which needed to be plugged in wall sockets, like an ordinary appliance unit.

There are also other considerations before the actual buying is considered.

1. Prospective buyers should have some level of understanding with terms or lingo related in buying hybrid cars. According to the California Air Resources Board, Ultra Low-Emission Vehicle is a car with 50 percent cleaner emission, compared with a new 2001 model car.

A Super Ultra Low-Emission Vehicle emits 90 % cleaner than average new 2002 model car. There are zero-emission cars however, are purely electric vehicles, not hybrid cars. But pure electric cars are, at this moment, impractical to produce.

2. Before buying hybrid cars, consumers should also consider their work areas, and home location. Hybrid cars are for urban or suburban area. Short distance trips are superb for fuel savings, when hybrid cars are using electric engines at low RPMs. According to experts, driving on a highway or interstate travel won’t see much of the expected fuel reduction.

3. The other consideration for consumer before finally buying hybrid cars is the cost. Hybrid cars, are admittedly, priced higher than gas-powered counterparts. This is due because of the low production numbers, and the considerably complex mechanical process. But these concerns are readily compensated in the long run, by fuel saving.

Buying hybrid cars at present is encouraged by the Federal State, due to the long term benefits of limiting fuel usage. There several tax deduction for new buyers of hybrid cars. Several cities are offering free parking as an additional incentive for low-emissions vehicles.

The historical road traveled by hybrid cars

There are also other beliefs behind these types of vehicles, which make buying hybrid cars for some a serious consideration.

One is the idea that hybrid car is a new phenomenon. In the earl 1900’s, American car manufacturers are producing electric, steam, and gasoline cars in equal numbers. By then, buying hybrid vehicle is as normal as buying ordinary car.

Eventually, some engineers figured out that a vehicle with multiple sources of power is possible. In 1905, a certain American engineer named H. Piper filed for the first patent for a vehicle, with engines for gas and electric.

A decade after electric self-starter made gasoline-run cars more feasible. Hybrids and other alternative were almost wiped from the market. The following years from this period was characterized cheap oil, made possible by the almost inexhaustible oil fields of the Arab world. This discouraged auto engineers to continue developing alternative cars.

The oil price hikes of 1970s, coupled with growing awareness of environmental concerns, driven engineers back to their drawing boards for new designs. Extensive and experimentation 1980s produced the hybrids in the U.S. in 2000. The earlier experience of the market on mass-produced hybrid vehicles has given engineers the encouragement to come up with complex systems, making multiple sources of power in a car possible.

In an interview by the Associated Press, Mr. Jim Press, president of Toyota Motor Sales USA, said: “I think everything will be a hybrid, eventually. It will either be a gas hybrid, a diesel hybrid, or a fuel-cell hybrid.”

From here, it is safe to declare that people buying hybrid cars, are people buying the future vehicles.

The Vintage Car: The Post World War 1 Phenomenon

Vintage cars are commonly regarded as the cars and automobiles that were produced at the start of the second decade of the 1900s and ended about a decade after, a good starting point for this era was when the First World War ended. Its end date though is a little murky but many experts insist that it was in the end of 1930. That is why some vehicles produced after 1925, which some American vintage car experts say is the end of the era, are considered to be classic cars as well as vintage cars. There are also those that considered the end of the First World War and the start of the Second World War as the vintage car era.

Either way, the vintage car era was when many automotive experts, enthusiasts and aficionados consider as one of the greatest eras in automotive history as many innovations were installed and more people could afford them. Before this era, a car ownership was next to impossible and before the vintage car era ended, numerous American families owned a car.

The reason for this upsurge in vehicle production can be attributed to many factors. The economy was at an all time high, roads were being paved and the vehicles were becoming practical, convenient and affordable. Because cars were in great demand, many car companies were created and they all jostled for sales.

But because of the stiff completion and the surging slide of the economy resulting to the great depression in 1929, many of these car companies folded and only about 10 percent of them survived. Some of those that folded were small automotive companies that couldn’t handle the unpaid bills and were producing subpar vehicles that couldn’t withstand the test of time.

Some of those companies though, like Ford, Hudson, Oldsmobile, Daimler, Dodge, Chrysler, and DeSoto, where able to produce cars that were stamped with quality and durability that up until today, some of their products are still road worthy. These companies were able to produce vehicles and automobiles that were considered luxurious and highly durable. Automotive innovations like in car heating, a radio, better engines and the introduction of anti-freezing allowed these cars to be used anywhere and anytime with utmost comfort.

Today, a number of these cars still exist and can be still regarded as road worthy. But they don’t ply the roads as often as they did then and are considered more as valuable collections. A number of car buffs regard vintage cars as the trophies of their collections and showcase them in car shows.

Some of these vintage cars are salvaged from junk yards and from abandoned garages and are restored to their full glory. This though comes with an expensive price tag. If you have a vintage car that has numerous problems, looking for parts to restore it can become a problem in itself. Parts for vintage cars are hard to find and if you ever find one, they may be a bit pricey. But don’t fret. With some perseverance and a truckload of patience, a vintage car restoration project can be very rewarding. Because not many vintage cars can be seen today, being an owner of a fully restored vintage car can be a great source of pride and for individuality.

Hitting Par: The Canadian Dollar vs The American Dollar

In over 30 years, since November 1976, the US dollar and Canadian dollar have not been par until now.
As the Canadian economy has been progressing over the years, the US economy seems to have fallen behind with all its turmoil. The war in Iraq has not helped the US economic situation but rather offset the deficit, and in a move to avoid the forecasted economic recession due to the credit crunch, the feds cut interests rates by 0.5 points to 4.75 percent.

The move to cut interest rates to ease the mortgage industry has weakened the US dollar against foreign currency including the Euro, and giving the push for the Canadian dollar to hit parity with the US dollar. One US dollar now buys one Canadian dollar. But the Canadian dollar’s gain isn’t only linked to the US federal interest rate cut, but can also be seen as the Canadian economy has been booming in an upward gain from 2006 with a low inflation rate, and a red hot oil industry.

This rapid progression of the Canadian dollar against the US comes as a shock to some Canadians, who measured the Canadian dollar value at .62 USD only four years ago in 2002, and now hitting par seems too good to be true.

As Jeff Rubin, chief economist and strategist at CIBC World Markets, stated, “the Canadian economy that once used to be the sleepy little resource backwater of the North American economy is certainly turning the tables on its big brother in a hurry.”

So what does all this have to do with Canadian and American dealings with each other? Well, for starts there will be an increase in American exports as buying from the American markets will become cheaper for Canadians. Although, vice versa Canadian exports to America will also decrease, as it will simply cost more for Americans to buy Canadian manufactured goods.

The Canadian tourism industry will also suffer, as more American visitors will decline as the dollar parity discourages Americans from shopping in Canada, since the one time savings of up to 40%, due to the dollar value, will no longer be available to Americans.

Although, Canadians will suffer in sales, they will gain in purchasing from American based businesses, and buying cars from the American side is becoming more attractive to some Canadians. As car prices in Canada are much higher than in America, a lot of Canadian shoppers will find drastic savings by traveling south of the border to buy a car. The difference in prices may not be the greatest for all cars, but gaps in some categories such as luxury sports cars, will save a Canadian buyer almost $14,000 on average.

But the high loony will put pressure on Canadian companies that are dependent on exporting to the US, who is also Canada’s largest trading partner. Already, in 2006 there were almost 100,000 job losses in southeastern Ontario, due to the rising Canadian dollar against the US dollar.

Even with such a massive job loss, the Canadian economy is still doing well, as the manufacturing sector loss a total of 289, 000 jobs since 2002, the Canadian economy has created over one million jobs in resources, construction, services, health care, education and financial industries, leaving the national jobless rate at 30-year low.

In contrast the Canadian dollar seems to be stronger over the American for the time being, but only time will tell the future of the American dollar vs. the Canadian. If asked to predict, there is always uncertainty, but given factors such as future interest rate cuts by the Americans, could possibly even lower the US dollar compared to the Canadian, and this could become reality in the next 6-12 months.

Delorean Cars Take You Back To The Future

15631734235 3d2e926a74 Delorean Cars Take You Back To The Future
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DeLorean was a real American success story, the poor boy who made good. DeLorean was the antithesis of the buttoned-down auto executive of his day, sporting designer suits, dating models, and moving in celebrity circles. Some say DeLorean was vain, impulsive and sometimes overbearing. DeLorean’s car would live on after it stopped being made, thanks primarily to Back to the Future, the top-grossing film of 1985.

DeLorean Car Model

The DeLorean DMC-12 is a sports car that was manufactured by the De Lorean Motor Company for the American market from 1981 to 1983 in Northern Ireland. Like Duran Duran, the Rubik’s Cube and other Reagan-era icons, the car retains a following. Delorean had the parts to build 20,000 cars, but only about 8,000 were produced before the factory was closed. It’s a car that never got to its full development because it was gone before it really hit its prime. DeLorean really wanted to start his own car company and break the hold that Ford, Chrysler, and GM had on the American auto industry. Entering the market in 1981, the car faced stiff competition from Datsun, Mazda, and Porsche sports cars. Unfortunately, the DMC-12 racked up mediocre sales figures. Despite the De Lorean firm’s failure with their car, with its unpainted stainless steel skin and gull-wing doors, the vehicle gained a cult following.

Despite DMC’s flop, the car has persevered, gaining notoriety largely as the time machine Fox drove in the blockbuster 1985 movie, Back to the Future, and its two sequels.

DeLorean After the De Lorean Car

Despite being cleared of all drug trafficking charges, DeLorean still had to battle many legal cases stemming from the company’s bankruptcy well into the ’90s. John DeLorean, developer of a futuristic sportscar that captured the country’s attention in the 1980s, died in March 2005.

A Global Solution To Regional Mass Transit

15794301481 5b13aaebc8 A Global Solution To Regional Mass Transit
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As gasoline prices continue to fluctuate, regional mass transit systems look better and better as an alternative to personal automobiles for daily commuting. But, as these systems expand to meet the growing demand, they often run into an increasingly common dilemma.

Much of the best technology available today is from Europe and Asia, but most regional systems are government entities that must observe “Buy American” mandates when upgrading their infrastructure. Fortunately, reconciling the two demands doesn’t always require settling for a less-than-optimal solution.

Chicago’s Metra commuter rail is a case in point. Metra serves 500 miles of track and 230 stations in six counties. As part of a plan to upgrade both efficiency and customer satisfaction levels, Metra is replacing aging passenger cars with new Highliner cars, featuring the latest mass-transit technology from around the world.

The cars are being built by a Japanese company, Nippon Sharyo, and powered by Toshiba traction motors, but the final drives-a key high-value component-will be supplied by Voith Turbo of York, Pa. The final drives will be assembled and tested in Pennsylvania using gear wheels, bearings, seals and gear couplings from qualified U.S. suppliers.

“These units will help Nippon meet the 60 percent American content requirement for the new cars with no sacrifice in either quality or technology,” said Voith sales engineer Michael Klug.

The drives feature an advanced design that helps prevent oil leakage, making the new cars more environmentally friendly than the ones they replace. They are also compact and robust, which contributes to rider comfort by increasing the car’s reliability, and to operational efficiency by reducing maintenance requirements.

The first 16 Highliner cars went into service with Metra already. Voith will deliver a total of 116 final drives over the life of the program.

“We expect this kind of partnership to be the model for many more regional transportation systems across the U.S.,” added Klug. “The marriage of global technology and local manufacturing and service is very hard to beat.”