As I continue to cycle through my photo files in search of automotive adventures which haven’t yet made their way into a blog post , I came across this gem. In October of 2010, we had a breakfast run which for the first and only time included our friend Irv Gordon, driving his Volvo 1800S no less.
Irv, for those few who may not be familiar, holds the Guinness World Record for number of miles recorded on a privately-owned passenger car (he eventually surpassed 3 million miles). Many of us employed at Volvo Cars North America (VCNA) got to know Irv professionally, and once you know Irv, it’s difficult not to also know him personally. A large part of Irv’s success was due to his outgoing personality, good-natured warmth, and delight in sharing stories about his beloved Volvo sports car, which he bought new in 1966.
The shadows reveal how early in the morning we gathered on this sunny October Sunday
Driving from his Long Island home to northern Jersey for a one-hour ride to breakfast would be the equivalent for most of us to driving to the corner store for coffee. But join us he did, and I would guess that he knew most of the fellow participants already. The photos reveal just how small the Sunday morning breakfast group was at this time. It was great to have Irv out with us; while he was regularly invited to join subsequent breakfast drives, he was never able to attend another one. His typical excuse? He was on the road, headed to some other event somewhere else in the USA.
The 2016 edition of the New York International Auto Show was held in the Jacob Javits Center on Manhattan’s west side, where it has been since 1987. As has been the custom, the show is run during Easter week, to give those who might be free for spring break a chance to see the show. Your author attended on Sunday, April 3, 2016, the final day the show was open to the public.
If you’re expecting coverage of all the world- and North American premieres, look online. If you’re hoping to read about the new luxo-barge SUVs which were at the show (Maserati Levante, Bentley Bentayga, and Jaguar F-Pace), read the Robb Report. The only rhyme or reason to the vehicles I’ve written about below is that something attracted me to them. In some cases, I own or have owned similar cars. As an enthusiast, I tend to want to write about vehicles I’d like to drive. I also found myself drawn to vehicles which looked so much better in person compared to the photos I had seen (Alfa, Fiat, Buick, Ford, Volvo).
Whether or not you were able to attend this year’s show, here’s hoping that you enjoy the report. As always, comments are welcome!
The star on the Fiat stand was the new 124 Spider, due to go on sale later this year. Most know that the 124 shares its platform and interior with the new, 4th generation Mazda MX-5 Miata. The Fiat has unique sheetmetal, and uses an FCA 1.4L turbo engine. There were only two on display: an “Azzurro” first edition car, and a red/black Abarth. The Spider looks much better in person, and seeing it up close brought home the realization that it looks nothing like its Mazda sibling, other than the fact that they are both 2-door convertibles.
Someone has cleverly taken the current Chevrolet Camaro and tacked on Pontiac front and rear fascia, creating a new “Trans-Am”. Wait a minute – isn’t this what GM did in ’67? Based on the large number of young men with cellphone cameras swarming all other these things, this concept may prove to be a success.
Perhaps it’s the color, as the first photos I saw of the new Ford GT were of a blue car, a color which has never appealed to me as an automotive shade. The NY car was in screaming chrome yellow; high impact is an understatement. As the cliché goes, if you need to ask the price, then you can’t afford it. Cost doesn’t matter – if you must have one and have the bucks, then there is nothing else on the road like it. No current Ferrari, Lambo, Bentley, etc., makes the visual statement that the new GT does.
This microbus of the future is what, Volkswagen’s 4th concept along these lines? The Budd-e (how do you pronounce it, “buddy”?) is an all-electric concept that looks quite cool in person. No details were captured regarding its powertrain. You weren’t expecting a diesel, were you?
If you told me 20 years ago that Buick would have one of the most significant and gorgeous concepts at the auto show, I might have said, “oh sure, what are you going to tell me next, that they’re going to axe Pontiac?” But the Avista is that stunning. Like a number of cars seen at the show today, photos just don’t do justice to its flowing lines and perfect proportions. It’s a two-door, pillarless hardtop, rear-drive sport-luxury car for the 21st century.
MAZDA MX-5 “RF” CONCEPT
Another vehicle that did not impress in photos, but looks better in person, the “RF” (retractable fastback) is not a true convertible. Once you understand that, the concept makes more sense. The roof panel above the occupants electrically folds up and down, while the flying buttress pillars temporarily raise themselves to allow access for the panel. Once everything stops, those pillars are always in place (I had thought that they retracted). If you’re willing to give up the full convertible treatment for lots of style, then this is for you. If Mazda decides to build it.
My former employer surprised me by having the new S90 sedan at the show. The rear end treatment, polarizing in pictures, looked softer and more integrated in person. Volvo cleverly displayed not one but two 1800 coupes, one white and one blue, high above the ground. And what other automaker would think to display an elk at an auto show?
My current crush, if only because a ’67 Alfa GT Junior happily resides in my garage, Alfa is making a long, drawn-out comeback to the U.S. market. There was but one 4C on display, next to a former race car (Tipo 33? I saw no info about it).
The “stars” on the Alfa stand were the Giulia sedans, with absolutely no information about the cars out for show-goers to gather. (The one handout was a list of dealers in the metro NY/NJ area. I saw numerous attendees pick it up, glance at it, and put it back down. Sergio, are you listening?) I asked one woman working the display about timing and pricing, and she curtly answered: “later this year, $40 thousand range”. Gee, thanks.
In the metal, the Giulia 4-door has a more purposeful, athletic look. The car is “tight”, with short overhangs, and looks smaller in person (in a good way) than in photos. Seen up close, it does not resemble a BMW sedan, which was the initial reaction.
To Alfa’s credit, there was a plethora of historical information there, from a racing timeline, to displays of components from cars of the 1950s and ‘60s. The question is whether all this talk about the past will cause people to open their wallets in the showroom.
If the Ford GT hadn’t been there, the new Acura might be the supercar of the show. But compared to its Dearborn rival, the 2nd generation NSX was, well, just OK. Perhaps it’s the front end, which doesn’t look that different than most other new Acuras….
ODDS AND ENDS
There was a small display of cars from a classic car museum. Was there a better-looking pre-war front end than the one on a 1940 Ford?
Everyone wants a distinctive front end. A grille that stands out is one way to do it. Used to be, the grille also had to be good-looking. Seems like now it only needs to be “unique”. (I cannot bring myself to photograph the grilles on any current Lexus models.)
The NY Police Department had a large historical display of police cars, stretching back to a 1958 Ford. It was well done, and interest in “professional cars” as part of the old car hobby continues to grow.
Just plain fun – a collector vehicle AND a part-time job!