Friday, August 31, 2012

You Can't Touch This

          For the sixth year the City of Blue Ash and the Untouchables Classic Car Club recently got together to host a Classic Car Show. Set in Oakwood Park at the Hazelwood Community Center, this show has become a favorite of car owners and those who just want to enjoy alike. There are a number of reasons for this.
          The setting, amid a large tree lined grassy field, is different than that of many shows. Where parking lots are generally the venue of choice for other shows, here, the grass and trees providing shade tends to provide for a cooler place to enjoy the cars. On this particular day, a very rare cool snap had hit the area and the rarest of sites, people putting on sweaters and jackets in August, could be seen in the morning.
          Another reason for this becoming such a popular event is the fact that the Untouchables Classic Car Club provides free food in the form of freshly grilled hamburgers, hot dogs and metts. Nothing beats a freshly grilled burger or dog while looking at a host of great cars. Added to the atmosphere, as always, was some great classic music, heavily tinged with R&B.
          All of this attracts a very diverse group of owners and their cars. Sure there are the usual suspects and a good helping of hot rods and street rods but looking around there is a large diversity of cars on display at this event each year. There is always a loyal group of owners who come back every year and new folks who will roll in to be part of this show.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Safest Car to Ever Fail

          "The insurance companies keep track of these things and no one has ever died in a Bricklin," said James Helmer of the short lived Canadian made automobile. James owns a safety orange 1975 Bricklin SV-1, the only model ever manufactured by the company.
          "Malcolm Bricklin earned a fortune in the hardware business and at age 26 he retired," explained James. "He wanted to build a super car but he wanted it to be safe." In fact, the SV in the car's name stands for Safety Vehicle.
          Make it safe, Bricklin did. The gull wing doors weigh 200 pounds each because of reinforcements including a 190 pound steel beam. There was a steel cage around the cockpit as well as one around the gas tank. The car featured 200 pound steel bumpers on gas activated shocks that not only withstood a certified safety crash at 50 miles per hour (as opposed to the five miles per hour that is required) in both front and back but the car wasn't even dented after the tests.
          James bought his Bricklin 13 years ago "because I always wanted one when I was growing up."
          The car has an amazing 3700 original miles on it, making it the lowest mileage Bricklin on the road. "I don't drive it very often," said James, making the obvious point. "I'll take it to a couple of shows but mostly I keep it in the garage.
          When Malcolm Bricklin decided to make his car he went looking for some financial help and got it in Canada. "The car was built in Ontario," said James. When the car was first announced, Bricklin received 100,000 initial orders. The problem was that he was relying on other manufacturers to provide most of the parts and when they didn't come through Bricklin couldn't fill those orders.
          "People would get tired of waiting around for their car and move on to something else," explained James.
          The one area Bricklin maintained control was with the body panels. "There's no pain on these cars," said James. "It's acrylic bonded to the fiberglass. If you get a scratch on it you just buff it out." In fact the color was the only option available on the SV-1. In fact, there were only five colors available.
          When the car first came out in 1974 it sported an American Motors V-8 360 but AMC couldn't keep up with what Bricklin planned to produced and so he switched to a 351 Windsor Ford V-8 the following year. That's the engine James has in his SV-1.
          Bricklin never was able to get any financial traction with his car and before the 1976 run the company went into receivership. Technically there were some 1976 cars released, those were assembled by a company who bought up the remaining parts and finished the cars that were sitting on the assembly line.
          A number of factors contributed to the rapid decline and failure of Bricklin. There were rumors that the car cost three times more to build than it was sold to dealers for. Add to that the fact that Malcolm Bricklin had a habit of putting friends and family who had no idea what they were doing in positions of control and disaster was just waiting to happen.
          "There's a reason you build cars in Detroit. They know how to build cars. They have people who work on them and know how to build them. Bricklin built his in Ontario with an untrained work force who couldn't do the job," explained James.
          James points out that his SV-1 is serial number 1714 and was completed on May 29, 1975. The company went into bankruptcy in September of that year.
          Today there are an estimated 500 Bricklin SV-1 cars on the road of the under 2900 that were manufactured. Still, with the problems and short life, Bricklin managed to make a very safe car.
          "If you see one on the road, it's not the car you want to run into," said James. "It's the car you want to be in."


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Variety at the Village of Moscow

          If you haven't noticed from the pictures I've posted the past two blogs, there was a pretty good variety of cars and trucks at the recent Village of Moscow Car Show. I always like these small shows in somewhat out of the way places because not only does it seem as thought everyone know each other, but there are some interesting and fun cars to enjoy. And if you need any more proof, look at these pictures, including that nasty rat rod at the top and the beautiful chopped hot rod that's the last entry. I hope you've been enjoying these entries so far and like this one as well.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bringing Horse Power to the Village of Moscow

          The Zimmer Power Station is the largest single unit power facility in the United States. While it was originally designed to be a boiling water reactor type nuclear power plant, cost overruns and questionable quality meant that it never fired up the nuclear boiler. After various fines and citations, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ordered work to cease on the nuclear plant in 1982, causing the owners to convert to coal.
          Recently, the Village of Moscow, home to the Zimmer Power Station, brought a different kind of power to a riverside park: horse power. Here are some more cars from the 5th Annual Village of Moscow car show.

Monday, August 27, 2012

5th Annual Village of Moscow Car Show

          Sitting quaintly on the banks of the Ohio River, the Village of Moscow rests beneath the towers of an energy facility that once was nuclear but now burns coal. Founded in the early 1800s the Village was a key stop along the Underground Railroad, assisting escaped slaves in their quest to find freedom in the North.
          With the birthplace of former general and president U.S. Grant just a couple miles to the west, Moscow was also the home of noted abolitionists Robert and William Fee. With a population of under 250, this picturesque dot on the map has proven to have more history than many larger places.
          On a warm, muggy day, though, this quaint little burg turned it's attention toward another kind of history as it hosted the 5th Annual Village of Moscow Car Show. For the next few blogs I'm going to post pictures of some of the cars that made their way to this one time ferry boat town to show off their cars.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Most Beautiful Cars of All Time

          I normally don't post these kinds of things in this blog but I came across this on line and shared it with a car group and it generated quite a bit of debate. So now I'm curious it anyone here wants to weigh in on this topic. Which of these do you agree with and which do you think don't belong. And which cars that you think belong are missing? Here's the link to the Yahoo story:

Friday, August 24, 2012

The One He Always Wanted

          In the big picture it really didn't take Mark Neumann that long to get the car of his dreams. About 12 years ago he bought a 1966 Austin-Healey 3000 Mk III. "I always wanted one," he said of his classic British roadster.
          "My brother had an Austin-Healey Sprite in high school but wanted the big one, the 3000," he added, explaining his history with the Austin marque. His 3000 is actually his second Austin-Healey.
          His first was a 100-6 that he bought in 1974. "It was a project car," he said of the condition when he purchased it. "It was rusted, nothing worked. I got it running and drove it for 25 years." That is when he sold it and bought his 3000.
          Pointing out that he had had enough of the fixer-uppers, his 3000 was in "good original shape" when he bought it. "I had to do some work: weld in the floor boards, paint it, do some upholstery work but it was in pretty good shape when I got it," he explained.
          Mark knew what he was looking for when he went shopping for his 3000. In 1966 the 3000 was nearing the end of its production life, having only one more model year. The 3000 had first rolled off the assembly line in 1959 and the Mk III series was an improvement over some of the earlier models. Mark pointed out that the top was actually weather proof, something that wasn't always the case with the earlier models. This incarnation also luxuries such as roll up windows and cozy wings that make driving, especially on colder days, much nicer.
          "The best part of the car is just driving it," said Mark. "We like to go touring. Fall is the best with the leaves changing colors."
          While this isn't a daily driver, Mark said he isn't afraid to take it out of the garage. "We drive about 3000 miles a year," he explained. Most of that is actual driving since they only go to about three car shows and a few cruise-ins each year.
          A typical British roadsters, the 3000 was powered by an inline six engine that, by the time the Mk III rolled around was pushing 150 horse power. No, Mark admitted, this car wouldn't break any land speed records, it is still a great deal of fun to drive.
          "You get on a really windy road and it is a lot of fun. You can go 35 but you feel like you're going really fast," he said with a smile.
          Despite reputation a lot of British cars have for not always being reliable, Mark said that he has never been stranded with his 3000. Though he has had to make a few roadside repairs, surprisingly, one of the biggest complaints against British cars, electrical, has never been a problem. "I put in a new wiring harness and added some extra fuses," he said. "The electric is good."
          While he has had good reliability with his 3000, he did have some problems with his first Austin-Healey. "I was driving on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and smoke started coming up from the floorboard," he said, recounting the situation. "The muffler had blown and caught the carpet on fire. I was driving along going 55 and stomping out flames."
          Today, that story is a fond memory as that car is part of his past. Now, he has the car he always wanted, the big Austin-Healey.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

In Roll the Thunderbirds

          When Ford saw the immediate popularity of the Chevrolet Corvette, they immediately began working on a car that would compete. In 1955, two years after the Vette hit the streets, they rolled out a machine that was worthy of the competition.
          The Thunderbird was a beautiful and powerful automobile that actually outsold the Vette early on. But unlike the Vette, which always stayed true to its sports car lineage, Ford eventually began taking the Thunderbird more toward the luxury end of the spectrum.
          For whatever reason, Thunderbirds don't seem to be as popular with the classic and collectible car enthusiasts and therefore don't show up as often at events. There were a good number at the Sharonville car show, though, and it's high time I posted the pictures. Hope you all enjoy.