Storing Your Car This Winter (Again)?

Photo by Randy Stern

Photo by Randy Stern

Living in the northern climes has is challenges. If you are an automotive enthusiast in these parts, there is a question one must face: What are you going to do with the car you only drive between April and October?

The goal is to keep that precious spring-to-fall vehicle from exposure to the elements that may seep through most garages. Garage walls lack insulation and there may be gaps around the garage door that could let the cold air and humidity from snow and slush to filter inside. When you think that vehicle is protected, it is not. There could be some rust, body and chassis flex…all of the things that would be found if you happen you leave the vehicle outside during the winter. You could always a car cover. A good car cover would help, but some could expose the undercarriage to the same elements.

The garage at home may not be the solution. For those of us who own our homes, that requires a bit more work on the garage. It means putting up new insulation and wallboard inside, installing a climate control unit, redoing the floors and so forth. You could do it yourself or hire a contractor. With that said, good luck on that project.

There are plenty of alternatives available. This may mean taking your vehicle away from home, however. Some of these alternatives could actually be beneficial and necessary. Let me explain…

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#VOTY15: How Does One Earn It?

Photo by Randy Stern

Photo by Randy Stern

What is so different about the Victory & Reseda Vehicle of The Year Award?

A lot, actually. Obviously, the big difference is that the VOTY now goes to a specific vehicle owner rather than a manufacturer. The element of voting by the public remains, but it is no longer an online ballot.

So, how is the VOTY determined through this new format as a show award? Perhaps an official explanation will suffice before Sunday’s awarding of it at InCarNation’s Garage Closer Show at Sociable Cider Werks in Minneapolis.

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Historiography: The Last of The Independents

1968 AMX at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum - All Photos by Randy Stern

1968 AMX at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum – All Photos by Randy Stern

The idea of a merger was to bring two entities together, find synergies between the two and eventually create a single path towards success. This is a concept that business students study through cases in their coursework. When it comes to practice, the textbook lesson would get lost in translation. Yet, somehow, the merged entity would find some way to move forward…even backward.

This was the case of American Motors. Born from the merger of the Hudson Motor Car Company and the Nash-Kelvinator Corporation in 1954, AMC’s history had its share of twists and turns. The highs and lows of AMC were nothing short of entertaining. It is worth a retelling here.

Prior to the 1954 merger, Hudson and Nash had deep histories of their own. Continue reading

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Intersecting Passions

Two things that normally do not go together. - All Photos by Randy Stern

Two things that normally do not go together. – All Photos by Randy Stern

What passion do you have in your life? Do you have something you love to do so much that you are even proud enough to put it on your social media networks?

On my Facebook, I started talking about passions. It started with this post earlier this month…

It is not your vocation, your lifestyle or the people you associate with – either by blood, by profession or by friendship. What should drive you is your passion. And, only you should define that passion – not your peers, your family or your colleagues. Embrace your passion – and never be afraid to share it!

It is true. It certainly is the backbone of this website. The passion for the automobile is a strong one. To be able to cover that industry, drive its products for publication and meet some of the most amazing human beings to call themselves “enthusiasts.”

Yet, I was seeking a deeper meaning. Continue reading

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For the Love of The Supercar: A Double Feature

Auto Vault's Dynamic Duo - All Photos by Randy Stern

Auto Vault’s Dynamic Duo – All Photos by Randy Stern

Before we dive into this story, I must state that one of my own personal rules in this business was broken in the process of doing this story.

The rule in question was that I do not review privately owned vehicles for editorial purposes. One of the reasons why I choose not to do so is because that I do not carry enough umbrella insurance coverage to protect myself in the case of something going wrong. It does not matter whether the vehicle costs a couple thousand dollars or, in this case, a couple of hundred thousand dollars, the pressure it puts upon me to deliver stories such as this might take even kinder gloves to accomplish.

Another reason I do not work with these vehciles relates to another aspect of my creative realm. Like hand drums, a car’s soul is attached to its owner. An automobile is integral to the personality of if owner. Asking someone to pilot another person’s car could possibly result in set of circumstances as would someone else playing another person’s drum.

However, there is a reason why I broke this rule. It relates to someone whom I had the pleasure of meeting and now working with. Mischa Redmond is the founder and owner of Auto Vault, a vehicle storage facility in Eagan, Minnesota. His deepest passion is with the automobile, which is exhibited by owning and driving some of the finest automobiles ever manufactured.

The one thing I have learned working with Redmond is that he has a kind, gentle and open heart. Continue reading

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What Would Randy Buy If He Had…Money

What is Randy goofing around for? - All Photos by Randy Stern

Why is Randy goofing around here? – All Photos by Randy Stern

I get a lot of questions. Sometimes, they end up being a game of 20 questions. Sure, I’ll comply. I’m not complaining, but I’ll comply and provide you what I know. That is until I hit a wall of frustration to say “that’s enough.”

One line of questioning that comes up from time-to-time is what I would buy if given a certain amount of money. Some of more realistic amounts than others. Yet, my brain has been wired to look at certain budgetary levels as impossible. There are many reasons why.

One, I feel that you cannot get a reliable vehicle for $5,000 unless you have a budget of half that amount to spend on repairs, maintenance and insurance. Also, more power to those who spend six figures on a vehicle knowing full well that it has be treated like an investment rather than regular car ownership. Everything seems to fair game in-between…supposedly.

That’s all fine and dandy. So, how do I answer these peppered questions to determine what I should buy at a certain price points? In other words: what would I buy if I had a certain budget for a vehicle?

Let me tackle this, then. Continue reading

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#VOTY15 – It is A Whole New VOTY!

The Victory & Reseda Vehicle of The Year Award as it used to be... = Photo for Victory & Reseda provided by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

The Victory & Reseda Vehicle of The Year Award as it used to be… – Photo for Victory & Reseda provided by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

The award you came to know and love from Victory & Reseda is no more.

Eight Victory & Reseda Vehicle of The Year Awards were handed off to their respective manufacturers. Their accolades were deserved based on real world impressions, input from independent members of the automotive media and online voting from you. What it did was to give a spotlight to a blog with the gumption to give out awards to be the best of the year. It also gave social media a chance to drive opinion and help accomplish these goals aside from traditional award outlets.

However, the truth is in the annual grind in the automotive industry. There are simply too many awards being handed out. Some have more weight than others. Not every automaker will invest in co-celebrating the significance of each award, unless it comes from a more prestigious group of organizations and publications. Should every award be significant enough for manufacturers to gain from it? Yes…but, in truth, they are not enough for a manufacturer to even care if they won an award worth the weight of a penny.

Therefore the award as it has grown to become – the VOTY – is now no more.

However, there is twist to the story. Continue reading

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Commentary: Provocations from IAA 2015

Porsche Mission E Concept - Photo © 2015 Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG

Porsche Mission E Concept – Photo © 2015 Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG

Honestly, I am not a fan of electric cars. Nor do I find pleasure driving hybrids, either. I have to experience both kinds of vehicles because it is my job.

I am also not a fan of Tesla Motors and of Elon Musk. He did a wonderful job founding PayPal that he should have stopped there. Then again, we have seen the likes of Musk not only in the business world, but in the automotive industry.

Then again, these are my opinions. We are entitled to them. Just like the swath of opinions regarding Rowan County (Kentucky) Clerk Kim Davis, or of all of the Presidential contenders for 2016 in the USA.

I did find some glee among the many debuts that happened in Frankfurt at IAA 2015, the annual fall auto exposition for Europe and the season opener of the major auto shows worldwide. It has nothing to do with Tesla and Musk, but it certainly had a lot to do with them.

If you live in Silicon Valley, you probably head the buzz of a cruise missile. That was launched from Stuttgart by the way of Frankfurt. It is called the Porsche Mission E Concept.

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The Incredibly Shrinking Crossover

It's got a little company now... - All Photos by Randy Stern

It’s got a little company now… – All Photos by Randy Stern

We are now seeing the birth of a new vehicle segment in America. Are you afraid now?

You could be, but understand where this was coming from. It has been brewing for while – vehicles about 170 inches in length designed for urban use, despite having about 8 inches of ground clearance and available all-wheel drive for year-round duty.

Yet, this segment is not entirely new. Entrants have already been in place by Suzuki, Mitsubishi, Kia and Nissan. Suzuki has been in the small SUV game for decades. Its arrival in the Continental USA in 1984 with the Samurai was welcomed with curiosity, fueled by a seminal test by Consumer Reports that revealed a conflict between its center of gravity and overall cornering stability. The last offering was the SX4 crossover, which became one of its final products ever sold before the automotive sales division of American Suzuki was closed down.

This left us with three entrants – the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, the Nissan Juke and the Kia Soul. They have been joined by a duet of General Motors small utes – the Buick Encore and Chevrolet Trax – along with the Subaru XV Crosstrek and the Jeep Renegade. For 2016, three new entrants have joined in the fun – the Fiat 500X, Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3.

Though a few of these are not really considered part of the segment, they are truly joined at the hip. The customer base will cross-shop all of these entrants, even if they do not have the ground clearance of cargo space that should be commonplace in this class.

Why am I talking about these super-small utes? Continue reading

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What’s New (Again) from FCA for 2016?

Two Words: Plum Crazy! (2016 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack) - All Photos by Randy Stern

Two Words: Plum Crazy! (2016 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack) – All Photos by Randy Stern

It was an honor to be invited again. It was also an honor to attend and participate in one of the best annual manufacturer events put on in the automotive industry.

For several years, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles opened up their Chelsea Proving Grounds west of Ann Arbor to journalists from all over the world to sample “What’s New” for the upcoming model year. The rule of thumb is simple: Drive everything, take photos and videos, but do not post anything until later. Abide by the embargo, and you are good for life.

So, what’s new for 2016 at FCA?

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