An American in Paris builds a stairway to automotive paradise…and Burson Auto Parts will get you there…Merc takes the lead in brand recognition…and lots, lots more…

Georges Guétary sang about it and Gene Kelly danced to it, but for another American in Paris building a stairway to paradise was all about vintage automobiles.

It was not long after arriving in France that Ed Millar, hankering after memories of his childhood days in the good ole’ USA, bought his first classic car in the form of a 1913 Rambler Model 83 Cross Country Tourer.

And as they say in the classics, it was the start of a long and lasting love affair that in this case led to a wonderful and unique collection of remarkable American cars.

Not a lot is known about Ed including whether or not he has, in the words of Hamlet, shuffled off this mortal coil. What is certain though is that the collection is still very much with us, at least for a couple of weeks longer, before it goes to auction at the Imperial War Museum in the UK later this month.

And this is what will be on the block.

1913 Rambler 83 Cross Country Tourer

Extensively restored in 2001, this powerful Edwardian tourer has a magneto-fed 5.2 litre four-cylinder engine. Rambler cars were guaranteed for 10,000 miles in 1913.

Like many a pioneering automobile, the Rambler car was born of the bicycle industry. Thomas Jeffery’s Rambler bicycle was the second-best-selling cycle in America during the 1890s.

As the decade closed, Jeffery experimented with a car, and in 1898, he and his son Charles exhibited two of them at Chicago and New York. In 1901, father and son sold off the bicycle business and concentrated on automobiles.

The first model was a single-cylinder vehicle with tiller steering. Some 1500 were sold in the first year at a price of $750. The Rambler make was placed third in 1905 and 1906 and stayed in the top ten through 1910, the year Thomas Jeffery died.

Charles continued to run the company but made few changes to the cars. Endurance runs were important for demonstrating the reliability of new cars, and after some successful trips, Jeffery designated his touring car as the “Cross Country.”

In 1914, he narrowly escaped drowning at the sinking of the Lusitania, which caused him to lose interest in the business that a couple of years later was sold Charles Nash.

1924 LaFayette Model 134 Coupe

Supplied new to the proprietor of a steam locomotive company in North Georgia and purchased from his son by the vendor. Extensively restored to as near original specification as possible at a cost of around $US200,000.

One of just 441 units built in 1924 using a variety of body styles, the vehicle was designed by a group of ex-Cadillac engineers including the Scottish-born D. McCall White, who masterminded its 5.7 litre V8 engine.

1951 Nash-Healey Roadster

Arguably, America’s first post-WW2 sportscar, pre-dating the Ford Thunderbird and Chevrolet Corvette. It is one of only 104 units bodied in alloy by Panelcraft and one of only 20 of its type known to the Nash Healey Register.

An exciting restoration project, potentially eligible for the Mille Miglia Storica and Le Mans Classic, the vehicle is offered for sale with a brand new alloy cylinder head.

1946 Nash P1 Pickup Protype

Built during the last days of WWII as the basis of a potential production model, the vehicle was acquired in a dismantled state and treated to a $75,000 restoration.

Powered by a 1941 Ambassador 6 OHV 3.8-litre, twin-ignition engine, allied to a three-speed manual plus overdrive transmission, the Nash has been the subject of numerous magazine articles including one in ‘Car Collector’.

1951 Nash Rambler Country Club Custom

Potentially eligible for the Tour Auto this ground breaking ‘compact’ design for Nash with distinctive Airflyte styling has a 2.8-litre straight-six engine and three-speed manual transmission.

1948 Diamond T Model 201 Pickup

After a brief flirtation with passenger cars, Diamond T specialised in commercial vehicles from 1911 onwards. Renowned for making the ‘Cadillac of Trucks’, the Chicago-based company introduced its iconic Model 201 One-Ton in 1938.

The vehicle has been extensively restored to show standard. Probably the best example of this vehicle anywhere in Europe, it features a Hercules ‘Super Service’ 3900cc six-cylinder engine, four-speed Warner T9 manual transmission and optional 62mph rear end.

CLiCK HeRE for auction details.

Meanwhile…Back home at the other end of the world and keen to start climbing your very own stairway to heaven? Then how as a first step a little piece of Australian car manufacturing history that doubles up as a reminder of the dopiest decision made by one of the worst governments in living memory.

All you need do is get along to Manheim Auctions’ special event sale in Melbourne on 17 March, or get online. Appropriately billed as the ‘end of an era’ for local HSV manufacturing in Australia, the auction offers the chance to own the last built GTSR sedan and GTSR Maloo Ute plus the jaw dropping GTSR W1.

The GTSR and the GTSR Maloo Sports have a maximum power output of 435kW from the most powerful LSA V8 engine HSV built and the GTSR W1’s with its 474kW output is the most powerful performance car ever built in Australia.

The vehicles can be viewed on the morning of the auction from 9.00am and online. Potential buyers can also participate using Manheim’s live action Simulcast app.

It’s up to you New York, New York

Start spreading the news…You’re leaving today…I want to be a part of it, New York, New York…And well you may be if you happen to be a trade customer of Burson Auto Parts.

In association with eleven of its major suppliers, the company is sponsoring a promotion, valued up around $200,000, giving trade account holders the chance win the trip of a lifetime to the Big Apple.

All it takes is to spend five grand between now and the close of play at the end of April, across products from Penrite, Tridon, NGK, KYB, DBA, Dayco, Premier Auto Trade (PAT), Ryco, SuperPro, Bendix, Narva, Projecta and JAS Oceania.

And bingo, you’ve got skin in the game in the shape of 10 entries in what must be one of the best  promotion the industry has ever seen.

And every additional $500 spent in the same way, over the same period, generates extra entries and an increased chance of satisfying those vagabond shoes that are longing to stray!

The ten major prizewinners will fly Premium Economy to the city that never sleeps to embark on a trip of a lifetime that includes a helicopter tour of the city, New York Mets baseball game, Madison Square Garden rock concert and a major Broadway show.

There’s also a tour of the New York Police Department (NYPD), lunch in Central Park and more day tours. The all-in, seven-night visit includes breakfasts and dinners.

Registration is not required as entries are added automatically from your Burson Auto Parts trade account for the required purchases.

So, if, in the words of The Chairman of the Board: you wanna wake up in the city, that doesn’t sleep…then it’s up to you…New York, New York, here we come. CLiCK HErE for more details.

A Jag of your dreams straight from the screen

Interested in a 200mph all-weather supercar built to your very own specifications…well, almost? Then the new Jaguar F-Type SVR is the car for you.

And such a piece of precious metal, all dressed up in ‘your colours’ is as easy as switching from watching Days of Our Lives to Jag’s new superduper Graphic Pack. There’s also a small matter of having squil$ions tucked away under the mattress, but what the hell?

Special Vehicle Operations’ Jaguar designers reckon that the pack adds a compelling dose of visual muscle to the exhilarating all-wheel drive F-Type.

So what are you waiting for? Get fiddling with the TV changer and play around the six ‘unique’ colourways of Yulong White with Firenze Red accents, Santorini Black and Gold, Corris Grey and Ultra Blue, Caldera Red and Black, Ultra-Blue and Corris Grey and Indus Silver and Black.

Throw in some lightweight 20-inch forged wheels with colour-matched brake calipers, or carbon ceramic matrix brakes with yellow callipers and Bob’s your uncle, your aunty works in the post office and that mattress is not nearly as lumpy!

Merc sees Toyota and BMW in the rear mirror

Mercedes-Benz has overtaken Toyota and BMW to claim pole position as the world’s most valuable automobile brand following 24% year-on-year growth to US$43.9 billion. Merc’s surge in brand value was driven largely by a big sales increased of 9.9% to 2.3 million vehicles.

Slipping to second was Toyota (down 6% to US$43.7 billion, just ahead of third-ranked BMW (up 6% to US$41.8 billion). Toyota faces a challenging brand landscape largely due to a weaker position in China as consumers in that market look to more aspirational brands such as Mercedes-Benz.

Both Toyota and BMW have made efforts to reshape the traditional internal combustion engine, a cornerstone of their respective brands. Toyota’s Prius and BMW’s electric i3 and i8 vehicles both have very distinctive styling – a brand strategy that contrasts with the very ordinary-looking Leaf by Nissan (down 22% to US$19.4 billion).

Porsche (up 54% to US$19.1 billion) has successfully launched a new hybrid model, the Panamera 4 E-Hybrid focused on both sustainability and high performance, with the future promise of further sports models following on from the Porsche 918 Spyder.

Tesla (up 106% to US$5.7 billion) has also recorded extremely strong brand value growth over the last year, rising from 30th to 19th place amongst automobile brands globally.

Aston Martin’s brand value grew with remarkable speed (up 268% to US$3.6 billion) as it took the chequered flag for the fastest-growing brand in the automobile sector.

AM had a very positive year with its first profit for a decade, boosted by the Brexit-related devaluation of the British pound that allowed the UK manufacturer to continue to deliver a high-quality product, but at a lower cost to international consumers.

At the same time as manufacturers are producing a whole range of new environmentally-friendly models, sales of larger sports utility vehicles have generated a spike in revenues for many brands.  SUVs now representing 34% of all new car sales to almost 28 million units globally.

This includes Mercedes-Benz (805,000 SUVs sold globally in 2017 across several models) and Nissan (which sold over 810,000 X-Trail model cars alone).

Michelin has become the world’s most valuable tyre brand following 30% brand value growth to US$7.9 billion over the last year. It overtook Bridgestone (down 6% to US$7.0 billion), which slipped from first to second place in the annual Brand Finance Tyres 10 ranking.

As well as being the most valuable brand, Michelin is also the strongest. Its Brand Strength Index (BSI) score was up a sector-leading 6% to 86.9 out of 100. The corresponding brand rating improved a notch to AAA, making Michelin the only tyre brand with a clear triple A rating.

Sustainability and technology initiatives have strengthened the brand, including a concept for a 3D-printed tyre that can be adapted to road conditions and never needs replacing, which was unveiled in the summer of last year to widespread acclaim.

Michelin tyres performed well in motorsport, winning at the Le Mans 24hr race and being used in Formula E, which is becoming a desirable place to showcase technology for leading car manufacturers.

Porsche get all charged up about the outdoors

A couple of years ago, the idea of a Porsche station wagon would have seemed absurd, then along came the Panamera Sports Turismo. But hold the phone, there’s now something even stranger in the form of an all-electric, on/off road AWD Porsche wagon.

Building on the Mission E sedan that’s on its way to production, Porsche say its new performance estate concept will take adventurers and their gear out to forests, deserts and waterways, without leaving a puff of emissions behind.

It’s all done using a powerful 600hp dual-motor electric powertrain that can race from 0-100km/h in 3.5 seconds and hit 200km/h in under 12 seconds.

Range is claimed at 500km (or so) without recharge. The 800-volt fast-charging architecture allows for 400km of charge to be added within about 15 minutes, and the underbody lithium-ion battery can also be charged using a home dock or wireless induction.

Porsche promises that the design maintains a continuous power level that allows for multiple launches in succession without degraded performance.

The four-seat station wagon is all about hauling friends and gear to adventurous destinations so there’s a rail storage system in the trunk, a rear-seat ski/snowboard pass-through and a trunk-docked drone to film all the exploits.

Add in demand-controlled, all-wheel drive with torque vectoring that maintains traction no matter what’s under the tyres and an adaptable air suspension that can add up to 50mm of ground clearance. Mix a bit of all-wheel steering technology and dynamic chassis control and it looks like a real McCoy adventurer.

Styling-wise, the Mission E Cross Turismo is predictably a Mission E-inspired face on a Sport Turismo body, but it also has a touch of rally car thrown in courtesy of the higher ground clearance, flared black fenders and beefy 275/40 R 20 tyres. It’s clearly a wagon that isn’t afraid to get dirty.

As you’d expect from this manufacturer, there’s a focus on digital technology, splashing the dashboard with digital displays, including a curved instrument panel and dedicated passenger display.

Both these displays use eye-tracking tech to keep the information most relevant front and centre, according to where the user’s eyes focus. Other information then fades into the backdrop.

Touch technology also features prominently, on the steering wheel, centre console, and control pads integrated into the window panels and air vents.

The smart cabin automatically sets lighting, climate and other inputs based on preferences and driving situation and the driver can also opt to preset certain options using a mobile app. – Source: Porsche.

Cupra charging into electric car racing and family SUVs

Spanish vehicle manufacturer Seat has spun off its high-performance Cupra brand into a separate entity that made its debut at this year’s Geneva International Auto Show with the Ateca.

A 300hp sporty SUV, it’s said to be for families that need to get the kids to school as quickly as possible at the other end of a very twisty road. We’re not sure if sick bags come as an add on!

The new Cupra marque has also announced plans to go into racing with a mission of leading the charge into the electrification of motorsport on the back of the e-Racer, that the new entity calls the “first 100 percent electric racing touring car in the world.”

The e-Racer is also described as a ‘true motorsports car’, with a constant 402hp (300kW) output that can peak out as high as 680hp (500kW) for short bursts…are they serious?

It’s a single-speed electric capable of 270km/h flat out with sprint times of 3.2secs 100 km/h and 82secs to 200 km/h. All of which puts it well into supercar territory.

The first vehicle that really put Seat on the map as a performance manufacturer was the 2014 Leon Cupra that smashed the front-wheel-drive record at the Nurburgring by a mighty ten seconds.

Interestingly, it seems the e-Racer won’t be a front-wheel-drive itself, as Seat say it’ll feature torque vectoring and rear wheel traction control.

No information is available on battery sizes and the e-Racer will forgo traditional rear view mirrors in favour of a three-camera-to-dash system.

Understandably, Cupra is a big fan of the electric motor claiming that it uses practically all of the supplied energy – a combustion engine only uses at best up to 30% of its fuel energy – therefore is a much simpler and efficient form of energy conversion, requiring much less maintenance.

Acceleration is much better as an electric car has its maximum torque available from the moment the accelerator is pressed and does not need to reach a certain level of revolutions per minute in order to achieve maximum performance.

And, of course, there is no need for a gearbox. In addition, kinetic energy is harnessed to recover power under braking and in deceleration phases.

Breath of fresh air from Goodyear

Cleaner, more convenient, safer, more sustainable! We’ve heard it all before, only to be disappointed with the actual product, be it household, marine or automotive.

But perhaps this time around Goodyear’s latest concept tyre, the Oxygene might just fit the bill to which can be added the word weird. Why? Well for a start, there’s living moss growing within the sidewall.

The company claims that this open structure and the tyre’s tread design absorb and circulate moisture and water from the road surface, setting up photosynthesis that releases oxygen into the air.

All of which is pretty cool when it is estimated that more than 80% of people who live in air pollution-measured urban areas are exposed to air quality levels that exceed World Health Organisation limits.

In a city such as Paris, with 2.5 million vehicles on the road, a society-wide adoption of the tyre would create 3000 tons of oxygen and soak up more than 4000 tons of C02 a year.

“With more than two-thirds of the world population expected to live in cities by 2050, the demands on transport networks in urban environments will increase substantially.

Smarter, greener infrastructure and transport will be crucial in addressing the most pressing challenges of urban mobility and development,” says Goodyear’s Chris Delaney.

In addition to pumping breathable stuff into the air, the concept features a non-pneumatic construction that is 3D-printed with rubber powder from recycled tyres.

The resulting lightweight, shock-absorbing structure is said to provide a long lasting, puncture-free solution that extends the life of the tyre. The open structure improves wet grip by helping absorb water from the tread.

And to top it off, the Oxygene harvests the energy generated during photosynthesis to power its embedded electronics, including onboard sensors, artificial intelligence processing unit.

And get this…a customisable light strip in the sidewall that switches colours, warns other drivers and pedestrians of upcoming manoeuvres, such as lane changes, or braking.

A visible light communications system, or LiFi, enables the tyre to connect to the Internet of Things, allowing vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) data exchange, which is critical to smart mobility management systems.

“Like the concept designs Goodyear has presented at Geneva in the past, Oxygene is meant to challenge our thinking and help drive the debate around smart, safe and sustainable future mobility.

“By contributing in this way to cleaner air generation, the tyre could help enhance quality of life and health for city-dwellers,” said Chris.


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