Monthly Archives: June 2012

Porsche Delivers the Anniversary Cayenne

Porsche delivers anniversary Cayenne to municipal fire department

Leipzig plant builds 500,000th vehicle

Atlanta. The 500,000th vehicle has rolled off the production line in the Porsche factory in Saxony. The anniversary sports car, a white Cayenne S was converted into a command vehicle for the Leipzig fire brigade with the assistance of Porsche apprentices. Matthias Müller, the President and CEO of Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, handed the keys to the Lord Mayor of the City as a token of the relationship with Porsche’s Leipzig home. The first car to come off the Leipzig assembly line was a Cayenne in 2002.

“Half a million vehicles in only ten years is a remarkable result for a luxury car manufacturer like Porsche.

Bloomington Gold: The Granddaddy of all Corvette Shows

Susan Frissell

Attending Bloomington Gold for the first time this year I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, driving onto the golf course at Pheasant Run in St. Charles, IL, the site of all those Corvettes in one place was breathtaking. Red, yellow, white, black, blue…you name it, they were there. Some were parked in the shade with their owners seated close by, enjoying a beautiful June day.

A little history: Beginning in 1973, Bloomington Gold is the longest running national Corvette event and is noted for its Corvette auctions, swap meets, Certification SURVIVOR, educational seminars and special museum-type displays. Vendors come from all over, offering both parts and gear. Looking for a Corvette t-shirt? This is the place; whether it be airbrushed or embroidered, it’s here. As are official Corvette shirts, collars and leashes for your faithful companion.

The “Granddaddy” of Corvette shows, Bloomington Gold kicked off in Bloomington, IL as the Bloomington Corvette Coral.  A one-day show on a two-acre section of the McLean County Fairgrounds, Bloomington Gold was started by a group of Corvette enthusiasts to display their cars and swap extra parts. Fifteen hundred people were in attendance and 112 Corvettes were shown in the concurs show. Vendors numbered 19, selling parts and products and paying only $3 a space! Spectators paid just a $1 to get in.

What started out modestly has grown to a 4-day event.  In 1974, the event ran two days and in 1975, added an all-Corvette auction and gymkhana event. Attendance tripled in ’74 and 82 vendor spaces were sold at $5 each. Corvettes numbered 684 (1,200 in 1975) and judging was added for restored, original, custom and semi-custom.

Before 1978, judging at Bloomington was based on car vs. car competition, with class winners and best in show winners. David Burroughs changed that in ’78 by adding the Gold Certification standards of authenticity. Rather than being judged against one another, Corvettes were judged on each car’s level of accuracy compared to the day it came off the assembly line. To earn that award, a Corvette must be within 95-100 percent of the way it was from its inception.

In 1984 the show officially became the Bloomington Gold Corvettes USA with the addition of three new events-the Special Collection, the Restoration Workshops and the Silver Salute. The Special Collection is a showcase for the rare and most significant Corvettes ever gathered in one place. The Restoration Workshops have become one of the event’s most popular offerings. In its first year, the workshops had 10 instructors offering eight classes and 175 students attended. Today there are over 20 classes covering restoration, buying, history, mechanical repairs, etc.

The Silver Salute has become a favorite event at Bloomington Gold to display the 25-year-old Corvette.  It has now evolved into the GoldYear and represents all colors and equipment offerings made in a particular year.

Premiering in 1984 was the Road Tour (GoldTour) event. A short “road trip,” the GoldTour is competing this year for the longest Corvette Caravan in Bloomington Gold’s history, over two-thousand. Burroughs added the Survivor event in 1990, a judging for unrestored Corvettes.  “Worn In, But Not Worn Out” became the theme as those Corvettes under twenty years old are judged in four categories for their originality.

Marking its twentieth birthday in 1992, Bloomington Gold moved to Springfield in 1993 having outgrown the original fairgrounds. The Show & Sell area was renamed GoldMine and the Glass Pack event was added for Corvette clubs. The Bloomington Gold Hall of Fame was added in 1997, inducting thirty-three Corvettes from past Special Collections to the Hall of Fame.

The Mecum family took new ownership of the Bloomington Gold in 1998 as the event returned to Bloomington where the 1998 Special Collections featured the Corvette L88s, an exhibit of rare and valuable 1967-1969 Corvettes.  In 1999, a tribute was made to Zora Arkus-Duntov and the performance Corvettes he created. On the event’s 30th anniversary in 2002, Bloomington Gold moved to the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, IL where it also celebrated the Corvette’s 50th anniversary in 2003. The New GoldField debuted in 2004 introducing the Corvette’s heritage. Redesigned in 2007, it became the GoldSchool with a new approach to Corvette education.

In 2013, the show moves back downstate to Champaign, IL where it will celebrate 40 years.

Book Reviews

Jim Davidson. 75 Ways to Save Gas (Penguin Bks, 2009). 131 pages.

75 Ways to Save Gas is the little bible to keep in your car’s glove compartment in these frugal times. Davidson has several ideas about how to get the best fuel economy from your vehicle, from the obvious suggestions: Use cruise control, keep off the brake and don’t speed, to the not-so-obvious: Wear appropriate clothing to don’t overfill the gas tank.

Davidson’s book contains a glossary of internet resources to help save fuel and money, environmental sites and automobile clubs. Also included is a MPG log sheet to track your mileage and fuel economy, as well as a cost of fuel appendix.

Some of Davidson’s tips include such ideas as driving in the slipstream-don’t tailgate but instead get behind a big truck; anticipate the green lights; buy a light-colored car and listen to calm music.






Driving took a major turn with Interstate Highways

In the year 2006 America’s Interstate Highway System marked its 50th anniversary. Begun in 1956 when then President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. An ambitious undertaking, the interstate highway system transformed how America commuted and migrated. Nowhere in the world is there a transportation system like it.

The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 launched the construction of highways with wide 12-feet lanes designed to better accommodate a larger number of faster vehicles. Inherent in the interstate highway system was the fact that there would be no intersections, no traffic signals and no railroad crossings. Also designed into the interstate system was the ability to avoid clogged two-and-four-lane thoroughfares.

Created at the same time was the highway Trust Fund which would fund the highway system. Revenues would be collected from taxes on automotive fuel and other vehicle fees and held in trust to be returned to the states to build highway projects.

At the forefront supporting the legislation of the new highway system was, of course, the American Automobile Association (AAA). The AAA was very much in favor of bringing America’s “outmoded” highway system up-to-date, and created the “Program for Better Highways,” calling for a 15-year, three-phase pay-as-you-go building program. The program AAA proposed was to be financed by moderate, graduated increases in federal automotive taxes. Ninety percent of construction and maintenance of the project would be paid for by the federal government, and the states would provide a 50-50 split with the government to fund other projects.

Named one of the Seven Wonders of the U.S. in 1994, the Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways was honored by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Thirty-four billion dollars was dedicated to the making of the highway in 1956, yet in 2006 terms, it was merely a year’s worth of improvements.

Some of the most infamous drives in and around the U.S. interstate system include the following, offering scenic drives, interesting tourist sites and good eating:

*Route 66 in New Mexico

*I-93 through New Hampshire

*Alaska 1 out of Anchorage

*Interstate 90 in South Dakota

*Interstate 10 in Louisiana

An endless source of trivia, the interstate highway system has a lot worth knowing about, for instance: Texas has the most interstate mileage (3,233.45 miles); New York is the only state that has not claimed to have the first section of the interstate highway system; the highest elevation on an interstate route is on I-70 at the Eisenhower Memorial Tunnel, Clear Creek/Summit counties, Colorado. It is 11,012 feet on the east side and 11,158 on the west side. And, the lowest elevation is El Centro, California, 52 feet below sea level.

North and south routes are assigned odd numbers and east-west routes are given even numbers. Lowest numbered north-south routes begin in the west and lowest numbered east-west routes are in the south.

Juneau, Alaska, Dover, Del., Jefferson City, Mo., Carson City, Nev., and Pierre, S.D. are the only five capitals not directly served by the interstate system. New York has the most interstate routes (29 routes totaling 1,674.73 miles).

The ability to drive across the United States has been a boon to tourism. Many a traveler has enjoyed all that each state in our country has to offer, from amusement parks to the national parks. However, because of today’s congestion and increased traffic the highway’s infrastructure is in need of major repairs. It is estimated that by 2020 port-to-highway travel will increase by 20 percent.

As seen here in Illinois, such ideas as electronic tolling or I-Pass have become more commonplace among regular tollway drivers, helping to fund the aging highway system.

The I-Pass concept also helps to reduce congestion at toll booths and adds extra lanes to accommodate more vehicles. Most recently, other countries have put in bids to buy the tollroads, making it possible to complete large projects.

So this summer when driving across various interstate roads, covering some of the more than 46,000 miles of highway, try and imagine what it must have been like before 1956.

Reprinted from Daily Herald, June 24, 2006;


How to make moving easier for military families

(ARA) – Military families frequently relocate from base to base all over the United States. Even though these moves aren’t unusual, they can cause some stress for all members of the family, especially if the relocation happens without a lot of warning.
Permanent Change of Station (PCS) and Personally Procured Moves (PPM)  come with military assistance to help soldiers and their families make the transition. Families can also take advantage of the do-it-yourself (DITY) option offered by the military, which could make the overall transition much smoother. No matter how quickly the move happens, or what kind of moving assistance your family requests, here are some moving tips from Penske Truck Rental to keep in mind to help keep everything in order.
*Planning – PCS notifications can come without a lot of warning, or families may know about a potential move far in advance. For both instances, getting a plan in place is a good start. Gather important information into one folder, containing phone numbers, contact names, dates, receipts and checklists in this folder so you can easily track everything about your move. For some planning tools that focus specifically on military moves, visit the U.S. Department of Defense website.
* Moving – Many families choose the DITY option because it gives them more control over the move, and they can also potentially make some money in the process. The military provides an allotted cost for moving, and if you can come under that cost through your own planning, the military will pay you the difference. For example, Penske Truck Rental offers active military personnel a 20 percent discount for every truck rental, and will price-match any competitive offers on one-way truck rentals as well. Visit to learn more.
* Weights – Military rules require soldiers to certify the weight of the rental vehicle when empty and after it’s fully loaded. Weight limit reimbursements are set depending on a soldier’s rank and dependents, but the traditional weights are estimated at 1,000 pounds per room, excluding bathrooms and storage areas. Then add in the estimated weight of large appliances, garage items and items in storage. Compare this number to what is allowed and determine if you can reduce the load in any way to avoid paying overweight costs. To help with weight certifications, Penske offers a Certified Public Scale locator tool online to help DITY movers in finding weigh stations.
* Contact info – File a change of address form at your local post office so mail can be forwarded, and also make certain your new information is updated with your specific branch of the military.
* Explore – Get to know your new neighborhood, both on and off base. If you have children, explore the schools and the after school activities available. Learn a bit about the city’s history and gather information on the services the city offers so that on moving day, your water and electricity will be available when it’s needed.
When in the military, a move is practically inevitable, but the process can be much less stressful on both emotions and finances with a little organization and planning from the get-go.

Industry News

*Some of you may recall the 2009 restructuring of General Motors’ dealerships, during the recession. Of the 2.064 dealerships GM sought to wind down, GM has gotten back to some of them: Good news and bad. For about 121 GM dealerships, it was sink or swim as they were required to create fresh business plans. The automaker agreed to reinstate about 700 dealerships that had filed for artitration; of those, 120 were required to submit a new business plan and to meet individual targets for 2011, ranging from sales volumes and customer-service scores to capitalization and profitability. Those dealerships unable to produce were faced with franchise termination.

Mercedes-Benz Announces First Class Protection

June 2012. Mercedes-Benz Financial Services USA presented to a group of MAMA members recently, sharing their news about some “first class protection” options available through MB. The first of the optional benefits introduced originally in 2006 and enhanced for 2012, is the First Class Wheel and Tire Protection Plus which covers all costs for replacement wheels/tires, and wheel repair for most scrapes, scratches. Available for up to 60 months, this protection plan can be financed as part of the retail or lease contract.

Donald Berry, U.S. Insurance Manager for Mercedes-Benz Financial Services manages the relationships with the major underwriters who provide administration and retain underwriting risk for the products.  In addition, Berry creates aftermarket retail insurance initiatives and vehicle protection plans for MB dealers.

Berry shared with the group that in 2011, Mercedes-Benz financed two out of every three vehicles therefore, offering protection products makes a lot of sense.  Making available several different protection plans, noted Berry, provides Mercedes-Benz customers not only peace of mind but incentive to stay with the brand.

Other first class protection plans offered to Mercedes-Benz customers include:

*First Class Paintless Dent Repair. Non-invasive repair of minor dents/dings with unlimited visits allowed at Mercedes dealer.

*First Class Lease Protection.  Coverage of dents, scratches considered beyond normal wear; waiving of up to $7500; coverage of up to $200 per missing items; single incident coverage up to $2,000; $0 deductible; 60-day free look period.

*First Class Guaranteed Auto Protection. Covers gap between insurance settlement/balance on finance contract; Eligible vehicle is $200,000; maximum benefit $100,000; protects from out-of-pocket expenses; provides up to $1,000 for reimbursement of insurance deductible.

*First Class Windshield Protection. All costs for replacement due to road debris covered; use of original MB replacement glass; maximum benefit of $5,000; no deductible; available on new/used vehicle.

*First Class Interior and Exterior Protection. Interior and exterior protection, including fabric and leather protector against stains, high temps, discoloration, cracking, aging; 5-year guarantee after application.

*Sprinter Guaranteed Auto Protection. Covers gap between insurance settlement, outstanding balance; maximum coverage of $100,000; protection from out-of-pocket expenses; provides up to $1,000 for reimbursement of insurance deductible; can be financed with MB Springer for small addition to monthly payment.

*First Class Insurance. Use of genuine MB parts, new vehicle replacement, stable 12-month premium, competitive rates up to 10 percent rate discount offered, additional discount for Mbrace customers and on homeowners and other vehicles, 24-hour roadside assistance, concierge services.

As with all policies, customers must read the fine print, but Mercedes is making strides to keep their lease and finance customers. During the 2008 dive in the economy, Mercedes did not pull out of the leasing market; rather they strengthened their business.

Hoping to build awareness of these high class protection plans, Mercedes-Benz Financial sells the plans to the dealers and trains their financial people. Dealers are responsible for setting the retail price of each protection plan; usually at a markup. While Mercedes still sells extended warranties-as do all dealers-there is no overlapping coverage with the protection plans.

Mercedes-Benz maintains 359 dealers, 128 Springer and 88 Smart car dealerships. There are 538,000 accounts in Mercedes-Benz Financial Services portfolio; 56 percent lease and 44 per

Looking for What’s New in 2012

Acura: The TL sport-lux sedan was launched very early in the 2012 year, with a new face looking a little less tweaked and pointy. The TL sedan is expected to be available with a hybrid powertrain, probably in 2012.

Audi: A new Az hatchback now available from Audi joins a new “S” model that debuted in Germany in September.

BMW: A small electric model is due this year. The 1-Series now gets standard USB adaptor, larger standard wheels, rear-center-pass-through, and automatic transmission is now available at no extra cost. The 3-Series is also offering the $1,375 automatic transmission option at no cost, along with a choice of larger wheels and a lower price for the M Sport Package. The 5-Series now has several standard features, including USB adapter, cargo cover, LED headlight rings. Diesel and V-8 models now include tinted windows as standard; while a leather-wrapped, power-operated steering wheel has also been added to the diesel version. Also added to the Premium and Convenience Packages are review camera and navigation system; heated rear seats to the Weather package, automatic high beams, heads-up display, side-view camera to the Technology Package. The Z4 offers the automatic transmission option at no cost and the X6 gets only minor updates: USB adapter standard, and tinted glass and heated front seats added to the option package. Added to the Premium Package will be 4-zone climate control, rear manual sunshades, in addition to rearview camera and nav system.

Buick: The new Regal was introduced, joined by a sportier GS trim level. eAssist technology will be featured in the Regal and LaCrosse for 2012 when equipped with the Ecotec 4-cylinder engine. All-new at Buick is the Verano, a compact luxury sedan, and will compete with Lexus’ IS 250.

Cadillac: The DTS sedan has been discontinued, while the CTS and SRX models get a new 3.6-liter V-6 engine, with 318 horsepower. A new driver-selectable ECo feature gets added to the SRX’s 6-speed automatic transmission to help improve fuel economy.

Chevrolet: The all-new subcompact Sonic joins Chevy for 2012 and will compete with the likes of the Honda Fit, Kia Rio, Toyota Yaris, among others. Made in the U.S., the Sonic will replace the Aveo. The Camaro will get a racy ZL1 edition added to the moniker. The recently introduced Cruze gets a small boost in fuel economy with its 1.4-liter engine and six-speed automatic transmission. Minor changes in store for the Malibu which will be redesigned in 2013. Centennial editions are in store for the always favorite Corvette, as Chevrolet celebrates its 100th anniversary.

Chrysler and Dodge: Not much is new here, except more performance added to the brand’s SRT8 models.

Fiat: Introduced in early 2011, the Fiat 500 has taken off quite well. Available in hatchback coupe and roll-back sunroof (Cabriolet), the 500 will soon add a souped-up Abarth edition.

Ford: The ever-popular Focus gets a new look, at long last, as the Mustang as a Boss 302 edition to its lineup. A Laguna Seca version is also available. Mercury bites the dust and Ford and Lincoln carry on the legend.

GMC: The 4-cylinder Terrain engine is now able to accept E85 flex-fuel.

Honda: Civic was redesigned in 2011 as a 2012 model. Coming in the Fall will be a compressed natural gas and GX version. The CR-V crossover was redesigned and debuted in late November. The Accord sedan will arrive in Spring with a new look, and the Ridgeline pickup promises better fuel economy. The subcompact Fit will get a battery-powered version.

Hyundai: Something new is always brewing at Hyundai and spring will see the new redesigned Santa Fe Suv. A redesigned Accent and Genesis sedan debuted as 2012 models in late 2011. The Genesis V-8 version offers a R-spec trim version with a new V-8 5.0-liter engine. The Velostar compact coupe has become very popular among the young set who are anxiously awaiting the turbo version.

Infiniti: New to the lineup will be the JX, a 7-passenger crossover wagon. Arriving probably this spring as a 2013 model, the JX will compete with the very popular Lexus RX SUV. Joining the G convertible will be an IPL or Infiniti Performance Line.

Jaguar: More refinement, performance, economy and fresh design is what’s promised. The new XF Saloon version, XK sports-coupe and flagship XJ debuted in New York in 2011 with sustainable changes, innovations and technical advances. The all-new, state-of-the-art 2.2-liter, 4-cylinder turbodiesel engine in the XF comes with fuel and emissions improvements, a Saving Intelligent Stop/Start System, more fuel efficiency. For the flagship XJ luxury Saloon, new options and enhancements arrive for 2012, including a Rear Seat Comfort Package with electric redline, lumbar adjustment and massage functions.

Jeep: In 2011, Jeep redesigned its Grand Cherokee, and Jeep added an SRT8 high-performance edition. The 2012 Wrangler sports a new engine: 3.6-liter V-6 which provides 40-percent more horsepower and an increase in fuel economy of up to 21 mpg. Wrangler also sports a new five-speed automatic transmission which it shares with the Grand Cherokee.

Kia: Look for a redesigned Rio subcompact coming in fall. Kia’s 2012 Soud is rumored to be equipped with either a new 2.0-liter engine rated at 164 horsepower (up 22), or a 1.6-liter that delivers 138 hp (up 16). The ever-popular and fun to drive Kia Soul will have the honor of being one of the first vehicles in its class to offer new Idle Stop and Go technology, which offers an increase in fuel economy.

Land Rover: All new for Land Rover is the Range Rover Evoque, one of the lightest and most fuel-efficient Range Rover’s ever produced. At the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, Land Rover will display a DC100 concept, a modern version resembling the Defender model. Look for this vehicle, if produced, to be popular.

Lexus: New for Lexus is the CT 200h hybrid model, to be introduced this summer. A redesigned GS sedan will most likely be introduced early in 2012.

Lincoln: Integrated “spotter” mirrors are new for 2012 on the Lincoln Navigator SUV. These special mirrors make it easier for drivers to see those often invisible cars in one’s blind spot.

Mazda: Mazda’s new fuel-efficient vehicles named Skyactiv, will debut; a cross between hybrid and battery power. The Skyactiv system will makes its debut in the redesigned Mazda3 sedan in fall 2012.  Mazda introduced a redesigned second-generation 2012 Mazda5 in early 2011,equipped with three-row seating and sliding side doors. The Mazda5’s four-cylinder engine, now a 2.5 liter, offers157 horsepower.

Mercedes-Benz: Released in the summer of 2011, was a redesigned M-Class SUV, with a restyled appearance and new features; among them heated seats and power liftgate. Also available are gasoline and diesel versions of the M-Class SUV. A redesigned C-Class will also debut this year.

Mini:. In August 2011, the two-millionth modern-day Mini was built at the factory in Oxford, England.

Mitsubishi:  The Mitsubishi i-electric car is here, while the once popular sports car, the Eclipse was discontinued.

Nissan: Nissan redesigned their subcompact Versa sedan, introduced this summer, complete with a new global platform and 1.6-liter engine. The Maxima sedan also gets a freshening up for the 2012 model year.

Porsche: Completely redesigned in its seventh generation, Porsche’s 911 Carrera is now 3.9 inches longer in wheelbase, with reduced overall height and an aluminum-steel composite body weighing about 100 pounds lighter.

Scion: The iQ minicar makes its debut for 2012;a three-seater, the iQ sports a 1.3-liter engine and continuously variable transmission (CVT). And for those who might be worried about its diminutive size, the iQ comes with 11 airbags. The wheelbase of the iQ is rumored to be a foot shorter than that of the Fiat 500. Scion also plans to add an FR-S sport coupe (in combination with Subaru’s new BRZ).

Subaru: Impreza gets redesigned for 2012 and will appear in the fall of 2012, and offered with 2011 pricing ($17,495). A new 2.0-liter “boxer” engine gets projected fuel economy of 27-mpg city/38-mpg highway.

Suzuki: This journalist wishes Suzuki would bring some of their models to the U.S., namely, the Swift and Splash. For the meantime, a special edition Grand Vitara was introduced for 2012 (see review on WWW site), and rumor has it, the Kizashi sport sedan may get more power.

Toyota: The ever-popular Camry sedan has been redesigned for 2012. Although not terribly different, the Camry still manages to appeal to the masses. Three powertrain choices are offered, as is better fuel economy (up to 25-mpg city/35-mpg highway for the four-cylinder, and 43-mpg city/39-mpg highway for the Hybrid). A subcompact version called the Prius C appeared in spring and for fall, Toyota plans to introduced the Prius V. Toyota’s new plug-in hybrid model is promised for summer 2012.

Volkswagen: Introduced this year is a final redesign of the popular Beetle. With an elongated look and changed headlights, the 2012 Beetle is aimed at bringing in more male drivers. Convertible and TDI (diesel) Beetles arrived this summer. The Passat sedan has also been redesigned and includes a TDI (diesel) edition (43-mpg highway rating).


Porsche Posts Boost in Sales

*May 2012 sales for Porsche have experienced a 14.1 percent boost over 2011 May sales. Delivery of 13,331 new cars worldwide has increased the automakers growth, especially in the European market where sales of the 911, Boxster, Cayenne GTS sell the most. The US is responsible for the biggest 911 sales and its largest market for all iterations of the 911.

Car adds “Build Your Car” App

*Another feature added to website is its new Build Your Car App. Visitors to the site can quickly build, price and share a new model car with options and witness the price change immediately as they spec it out. The new Build Your Car App also includes professional buying advice by the same car experts who write the test vehicle reviews for