Fred Wackinshaw

Fri Apr 18 2014 13:51:50 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

For the record, it's the year 2014. I mention that in case someone reading this story about a push to replace horses with motorized carriages thinks they've stumbled onto some archival piece by accident. It's been more than 100 years since the first vehicles began to trundle around Manhattan, but the last remaining vestiges of horse-powered transport in the city could be nigh — if the backers of a massive electric wagon get their way.

Unveiled at the New York auto show today, the Horseless eCarriage was designed and built by restorer Jason Wenig, on commission from New Yorkers for Clean, Livable, Safe Streets — a coalition which wants the city to outlaw the 68 horse-drawn carriages currently licensed to give tours of Central Park. Among the group's chief backers: newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Wenig says his goal was to re-create the kind of vehicles popular in the Brass Era. His coach borrows a few flourishes from several different models of the age — some Rolls-Royce in the radiator cover, some Locomobile and Pierce-Arrow in the fenders — without offering an exact replica. While the Horseless eCarraige has the basic requirements of a modern vehicle, such as seat belts for eight, it hides them behind brass and wood, with some ancient flourishes like candle-powered side lamps and a hand horn. (There's also an optional roof, but no closed-body alternative.)
But old style doesn't mean old tech. The eCarriage gets its 84 hp from a 47-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which spins an electric motor driving the rear wheels. Even though it's wheelbase is longer than a Chevy Suburban, it can travel 100 miles on a charge with a top speed of 30 mph. Within Central Park itself, Wenig says the car would have geo-fencing software that would limit its top speed to five miles an hour, and would meet federal standards that allow slow-speed neighborhood vehicles on public roads.

NYCLASS and the new mayor's horse crusade has run into stout opposition around New York. The carriage drivers say the city already regulates the horses to ensure their well-being, and would be out of a job under a ban. The conservatory that runs Central Park told the New York Daily News today that it opposes letting more vehicles of any kind into the park; it has fought to bar them almost since the invention of the automobile. And sentiments in the city appear to favor a piece of old New York.

NYCLASS says Wenig's vehicles could be built for $150,000 to $175,000 each, but would cost far less to keep than a horse over a few years. But even in modern, go-fast New York, the slow horse may win this race.

Fred Wackinshaw

Sun Aug 11 2013 01:11:38 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

Unfortunately, most Lancia Scorpions have long since fallen victims to rust. In fact, there is one parked under a tarp down the street and it kills me every time I drive by because I know that there won’t be much left in a few more years. I would like to save that car, but common sense leads me to believe that this one might be a better choice. The seller claims that this 1976 Scorpion has only covered 48k miles since new. It runs well, looks good, and the $4,500 asking price isn’t too bad either. Find it here on craiglist in Boise, Idaho.

Fred Wackinshaw

Fri Aug 02 2013 15:39:08 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

According to the latest statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association, the disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and the fifth-leading cause of death for those over age 65. Currently, some 5.2 million Americans live with the disease, which robs sufferers of both short and long-term memory, leaving them unable to recall past events or even recognize family and friends. Brock Yates, known as the founder of the Cannon Ball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash and the long-term editor of Car and Driver magazine, is among its victims; now, thanks to family friend and One Lap of America veteran Doug Beachem, a fund has been established with the Alzheimer’s Association to honor Brock and advance the fight against the disease." More at the Hemmings blog

Fred Wackinshaw

Sat May 25 2013 20:22:08 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

Aston Martin treats itself to a 100th anniversary present: CC100, stunning Speedster Concept powered by a V12. Shades of the DBR1! Check it out,

Fred Wackinshaw

Mon May 06 2013 13:54:08 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

MG Discovered in Car-Sized Coffin! Jim Snider’s outstanding Austin-Healey 3000 started a dialogue that twenty years later yielded him an entombed MG. “I owned a bolt and screw business,” said Snider, of Louisville, Kentucky. “One day a customer of mine came into my office to compliment me on my 3000 that I had parked in my warehouse.”

“As I showed him the car up close, he told me of an elderly gentleman out in the country who also owned an old Healey.” Snider always enjoyed meeting fellow Healey owners, so he eventually contacted the gentleman, a gesture that led to a lasting friendship.

The gentleman, Hugh Grundy, and his wife, Frankie, were a fascinating couple. Initially, Snider was intrigued in learning about the Healey 100. The Grundys bought the car new and had modified it with an altimeter and other equipment with the intention of competing in the Mille Miglia sometime in the 1950s. But Snider was equally intrigued to hear about the career that led the Grundys to live for decades in places like Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Hugh Grundy had worked for Air America, a covert airlines operated by the CIA. Air America hauled supplies, but mainly fought the Communist threat in the 1940s and 1950s. (Interestingly, Grundy’s wife Frankie never knew he worked for the CIA.)

Before the Healey 100, there was an MGTC. This was a yellow 1947 model that the young couple used while living in Hong Kong. They traded the yellow MG for a new 1949 black MG. They drove their new sports car around China for a couple of years before having it shipped to the family farm in Kentucky. The farm had been in the Grundy family since the 1700s.

“It was shipped to the farm because Hugh and Frankie thought they were going to stay in Kentucky,” Snider said. “Frankie drove it about five hundred miles around Kentucky before the couple moved back overseas in 1964.” But before Frankie left, her dad helped her construct a box—a car-sized coffin—just big enough for the MG. She rubbed Vaseline over all the chrome to protect it for what would be a lengthy storage. But nobody knew just how lengthy it would be.

After Grundy retired to Kentucky, he and Frankie continued their sports car activities, but now in the United States. The Austin-Healeys brought the Sniders and the Grundys together as friends who would occasionally participate in sports car tours. “My wife Sharon and I went to dinner three or four times a year with the Grundys, and we became great friends,” Snider said.

“I had known Hugh for about ten years before I asked him one day while we were out in his barn, ‘Hey Hugh, what’s in the box?’ He told me it was Frankie’s old MG, and that someday he’d show it to me.”

“It was another five or six years before he actually opened the box and let me look inside.”

What Snider saw in that box was a time capsule: an original MGTC right down to its paint. The car was in needy condition: The paint was old, the tires were flat, and the interior had seen better days. Despite this, the car had been well-preserved for more than four decades, and the Vaseline-covered chrome was still like new.

“I expressed my interest in the MG, but it was Hugh’s intention to restore the car,” Snider said. “Then, one day, Hugh called me and said, ‘You know, I’m ninety years old. I don’t think I’ll have time to restore it. Frankie and I would like you and Sharon to own the car.’”

Snider was excited, and after promising not to sell the car while the Grundys were alive, he took ownership of the 1949 TC in 2004. Snider decided that the car was going to be his wife Sharon’s, since she was born the year the car was manufactured.

Sharon’s MG is completely restored now, and it takes a place proudly next to Jim’s Austin-Healey. As a tribute to the Grundys—Hugh is now ninety-three and Frankie is eighty-seven—the Sniders kept the original Hong Kong license plate on the car.


Fred Wackinshaw

Tue Apr 09 2013 02:03:58 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

Boston Massacre motorcycle ride 2013

Fred Wackinshaw

Thu Mar 21 2013 01:25:52 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

Louisiana, Michigan Tops for Car Insurance Rates.

Fred Wackinshaw

Thu Mar 21 2013 01:32:03 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

SRT is definitely keeping busy with new product. The track-chomping 2014 Viper TA rolls into the New York Auto Show next week, but that's not all Ralph Gilles' band of mad scientists has in the pipeline. As you all know, there's always been an open-topped Viper, and our spy photographers snapped the latest edition cooling its heels in the Michigan snow. Sadly, the other cars in the lot obstructed the profile view, but there's no mistaking that traditional soft top.

Gilles is already on record as saying the new Viper's chassis is convertible-ready in terms of rigidity. Like the Corvette, it's mortal enemy, the snake should lose little to nothing in that department when it ultimately molts its double-bubble hardtop. Hit the gallery for a better look at the topless Viper