The Golden Gate at 75

Seventy-five years ago, an icon opened up for the world to admire.

This icon was seen as a solution to a problem: Navigating across the treacherous waters of the Golden Gate. San Franciscans wanting to head to the North Bay, especially to Mount Tamalpais and the Headlands, had to take a ferry across the water to get into Sausalito. The same goes for the people on the other side of the bay. The ferry was one of the busiest on the Pacific Coast even through the deepest part of the Great Depression.

Before the nation’s economy went into the tank, plans were already being made to build a bridge across the Golden Gate. It had been delayed due to World War I, but momentum picked up in the new decade. A district was created to facilitate the design and construction of the span. With a dreamer for the chief architect – Joseph Strauss – the story of the Golden Gate Bridge remains a part of Bay Area lore.

What makes this span very special is not just the design. The suspension bridge design won over – a smart move considering the microclimate of the Golden Gate. Suspension bridges are designed to withstand any movement from the elements – especially the wicked winds of the Golden Gate. Construction of the bridge called for two anchor towers standing 230 meters above sea level – one built on the edge of the Sausalito, the other built right into the bay. The span totaled just short of two kilometers in length with the distance between the two towers at 1.2 kilometers.

When it opened on May 27, 1937, the red-orange colored bridge was seen as an engineering marvel. Building it was no picnic, either. Though a moveable net was secured underneath the workers building the span, only eleven of them were killed in the name of the bridge. Yet, the bridge opened its six lanes of variable traffic to create one of the finest visions in automotive history.

Brand Loyalty Starts Here

Tweet 2012 Jeep Patriot Latitude. All photos by Randy Stern A Victory & Reseda review of the 2012 Jeep Patriot How do you measure…

Friending Your Car Dealer

What is the worst thing we have to endure?

Would it be a visit to the dentist? Dealing with family members that you have little-to-no patience with? What about the after affects of a break-up with a bad ex? Bullying?

A lot of people will tell you that purchasing a new vehicle is right up there.

Does it have to be a bad experience whenever there’s tens of thousands of dollars on the line? Whenever I visit a dealer, I try to find a vibe there. Would I be able to have a conversation with a salesperson? Would this salesperson know everything about the products he or she sells? Is there respect for the entire buying experience – or, will the sales manager and the salesperson gang up on you to get the vehicle sold today?

Having worked as a salesperson at a Toyota dealer in the Pacific Northwest briefly in the mid-1990s, I understand how the process works. I may not like it, but it is what we have now. There are variations on the theme – some good, some dubious. Social media also helped in changing the perception of the automobile retailer, where some engage from everything from sales to service to being a good citizen in the community and beyond.

Lately, my social media channels have been augmented by automobile retailers near and far. I studied their engagements to see where they are going with linking the retailer with the customer. It also reflects back to the dealership itself as reputations also resonate with the transaction or service appointment. Ultimately, a customer will say something whether good or bad – giving the dealership a chance to return the engagement either to remedy the issue or add layers towards a positive long-term relationship.

Has social media changed our perception of automobile retailers? You may be surprised by how much it has.

Commentary: VF + SS = ???

We at Victory & Reseda< ?i> have some good news…and some bad news.

First, the good news: Holden will build the VF Commodore before we know it! Essentially, the VF will be a re-skin of the current VE. As you know, the VE came out on General Motors' Zeta platform designed for a series of rear-wheel-drive vehicles aimed at Australiasia and North America. The VF is slated to use lighter materials – namely aluminum – add a bunch of tech on-board and to emulate a global design language as dictated by Chevrolet.

Power for the VF should be the same. Australian consumers already enjoy two High Feature V6s (a Holden design, in case you're wondering) of 3.0litre and 3.6litre displacement. The top engine should be the newest generation Small Block V8 – displacing 6.2litres as in the current Corvette.

North American consumers received their first taste of the genial Aussie in the Pontiac G8 – a future classic by all accounts. Currently, the Zeta underpins the Canadian-built Chevrolet Camaro and long-wheelbase Chevrolet Caprice PPV (also sold as a Holden and a Chevrolet in various markets from New Zealand to the Middle East).

Quickies: Riding the Scorpion

TweetWho says that North Americans do not deserve some of the fruits of global excellence? It took us nearly 30 years for Fiat to…

The Speculator: Underneath Nissan's Sheets

What’s under those sheets in the 2013 Nissan Altima commercial?

In the aftermath of the New York Auto Show, Nissan released a television spot with the upcoming Altima driving around covered in a sheet. Though it signifies the coming of Nissan’s sales leader in the fall (or sooner), it also begins the process of an ambitious revamp of the lineup within the next 15 months. While the Altima’s sheet is released into the air, four other vehicles remain covered.

Hence the question needs to be asked.

The past month saw three Nissan vehicles residing in the V&R Garage. By now, you’ve probably read my impressions of each one. There is a common theme to all three – a link.

You would not be surprised that I am a former Nissan owner. In 1987, I traded in my old 1979 Mazda 626 coupe for a brand new Nissan Hardbody pickup. It did not last in my care, but it was quite memorable. It was proof that Nissan builds bulletproof machinery. That little truck was damn solid – from engine to everything else. I will admit that it became quite uncomfortable, due to its vinyl bench seat. Truth be told, I’d own another Nissan.

Cracking Down on Distracted Drivers in Minnesota

If you use your mobile device while driving, there's some bad news for you…you're busted.

The reason for this warning has been a step-up of enforcement on the use of mobile devices – from regular cell phones to the latest smart phone devices – aimed against the elimination of distracted driving. Currently, this is the biggest campaign towards creating a safer environment on the roads.

Some might say that our public safety agencies have better things to do. In essence, they do – ensuring a safe environment for all drivers. As much as some of us would rather not deal with state, county and municipal when we're out and about, their job is to protect us from other motorists who could care less about the law.