While there was a curious lack of rally cars on the show floor of the 2019 New York International Auto Show, there were still a few race cars to drool over.
2019 is a curious year for the New York International Auto Show – at first look, there are some automakers that are notably absent – BMW, MINI, Volvo, and Mitsubishi skipped the show this year. In automotive parlance, the show is leaner, or more “muscular”. However the space on the show floor was taken up by some fresh new faces, most prominently with Rivian, the U.S.-based company producing electric adventure vehicles with a 400-mile range.
There were some significant launches; among them, Hyundai showed up with the 2020 Venue, a new SUV, as well as a sleek new Sonata with a digital key. Lincoln thankfully dropped the confusing letter-number naming convention with the Corsair, a compact luxury crossover that can seat five people. Toyota’s new offerings include the new revamped Highlander as well as a cute Yaris hatchback. Subaru showed off their sixth-gen 2020 Outback in the middle of a rather nice-smelling booth highlighting national forests.
Concept cars were super slick, creatively named, and largely electric – Kia revealed their HabaNiro concept with 300-mile all electric range. The Genesis Mint luxury electric concept was hard to even get close to after an off-site reveal the night before. VW showed up with not one but three concepts: the ID. Buggy, the compact Tarok Pickup Concept, and the Basecamp (the latter two have combustion engines). Another company new to NYIAS, Mullen, revealed the modular, aluminum and carbon fiber Qiantu K50 electric sportscar.
In the “If You Have to Ask You Can’t Afford It” supercar section of the show, Swedish maker Koenigsegg introduced their road-legal Jesko to North America, and Sleepy Hollow, New York’s Glickenhaus drove his 700-hp SCG 003S to the show. Dubbed the world’s most expensive SUV, the oddly angular and very very large Karlmann King will set you back about $2.3 million – perhaps more if you choose the armored option.
And then there were the special editions – so many fancy badges! Nissan was celebrating the 5oth Anniversary of the GT-R with some beautiful classics joining the 50thAnniversary Edition. Tangentially, there is another larger independent booth display of classic of Z’s downstairs. (Not to be outdone, Toyota is displaying some classic Supras – JDM fans, this show’s for you). Dodge’s Challengers and Chargers will now be available in the Stars & Stripes Edition, and Alfa Romeo created a limited-edition 019 Quadrifoglio NRING (Nürburgring) for both the Stelvio Quadrifoglio and Giulia. Last but not least – Ford celebrated Mustang Day with the Ford Mustang Performance Package and hot dogs.
The New York International Auto Show in the Jacob Javits Center is open until April 28, 2019.
If it seems like it has been years of talk about the anticipated return of Alfa Romeo to these shores, well, that’s because it has. As a car guy this is news any one of us would embrace, but for me, I used to own an Alfa Romeo. I owned a 1987 Spyder Graduate (you know, after that little movie starring Dustin Hoffman). Reports of Alfa’s return trickled in and out, but with so little actual news to report, this is a subject I have kept off the The Garage. That changes now.
The Alfa Romeo 4C is a mid-engine, two seater sports car powered by a 1.8L direct injected aluminum turbocharged four cylinder rated at 237hp. I’ve not heard the engine myself, but from what I read the sound is bonkers. The only transmission available is a six-speed twin-clutch, so those hoping for a manual, you are out of luck. On paper these numbers don’t sound impressive, but this number will. Thanks to a carbon fiber tub, the North American spec 4C weighs less than 2,500lbs.
The North American media launch of the 4C is happening as I write this-and sadly, no, The Garage was not invited, but our friends at Autoblog were. What we found out today is that a 2015 4C will come with a starting price of $53,900USD, plus $1,295 in destination charges. If you want to be the first in line, Alfa Romeo has created the Launch Edition. Reserved for the first 500 cars, this car will set you back a cool $69,695. Autoblog tells us that Alfa expects the typical 4C to roll out the showroom with a price from the low t0 mid $60’s.
A major debate surrounding Alfa Romeo’s return to North America was who should be able to sell them? Fiat dealers? Maserati dealers? For what is starting out as a niche brand, a new network was out of the question. As it stands now, the majority of dealers that will sell Alfa Romeos will share the floor with their Fiat cousins, with a small number of Maserati dealers also joining the comeback. Fiat-Chrysler announced today that there are currently 82 Alfa Romeo dealers in the US, and four in Canada. The eventual goal is to have a combined 300 dealers. For the US, even though we will have 86 dealers, it’s only in 33 states. The greatest concentration of Alfa dealers are in California, Texas, and Florida. Not even New York City currently has an Alfa Romeo store. Curious to know where your closest Alfa Romeo dealer is? Click right here.
After all these years it is with great pleasure I can say Alfa Romeo is really, finally, coming back. When I owned my Alfa Spyder, it was in the remaining years of the last time Alfa Romeo sold new cars here. My local dealer was in New Haven, CT, in an old brick building that was dripping with charm, and well, a lot of other fluids as well from the well-used Alfas on the lot. In the showroom sat shiny new cars, but in reality the front-wheel drive 164 sport sedan, while styled as smartly as an Armani suit, never caught on, and my beloved Spyder, which at that point was an antique in a world where the Mazda Miata reigned.
There was a certain charm about that old dealership and those quirky old cars that still speaks to me today. That era is gone, however. The new Alfa Romeo dealers will be housed in pristine, sleek, contemporary facilities with not a drop of oil in sight. And with Alfa Romeo’s return imminent, I found myself asking how, apart from the car, do they reintroduce themselves? There are kids who are now college students who have never seen a new Alfa Romeo.
Then I remembered. I was eleven years old, had just moved to a new neighborhood. I got a newspaper route, and one of my customers had a car I’d never seen or heard of before. It was a stunning Alfa Romeo GTV-6. I always looked forward to coming over the deliver the newspaper, just to see and admire the car, and glance inside at a fleet of gauges and switches, and rich looking Recaro leather seats. With a growing family, the GTV gave way to a Milano 3.0 Verde, and finally the top-spec 164S. By this time, I was hooked, and already had my own red Alfa Spyder.
And that was the answer to my question. And to future 4C owners, I challenge you. Leave the car in the driveway. If you want to inspire a new generation of Alfisti, they have to see it. And they won’t if you slip out of your garage, drive to your office, and slip it back into your garage when you return home. After seeing that GTV-6 all the time, I couldn’t stand it. I had to have my own Alfa Romeo. And all these years later, I am dying to see what Alfa has in store for us. The 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C goes on sale this summer.
Longtime readers of The Garage may recall that the month of October is not complete for me without our annual trip to the Berkshire Mountains in western Massachusetts. It is an autumn rite of passage for me and my family, and this year was no exception. Thanks to our friends at Lexus, we were provided with a Lexus HS250h for our annual pilgrimage this year. An easy two hour drive from our home in Connecticut, the Berks are one of the most popular fall destinations in New England, and is an easy drive for those of you in southern Canada as well, so put it on your bucket list.
Foodees that we are, we do not skimp when it comes to eating. Once there, we always start out with lunch at the historic, and reportedly haunted Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge. The Red Lion is the cornerstone of the Norman Rockwell, post card perfect town, and has served visitors since 1773. After a satisfying lunch at Widow Bingham’s Tavern, one of my greatest pleasures is to grab a Steel Rail Ale by Berkshire Brewing Company and enjoy it on the expansive porch at the Red Lion Inn and people watch. Pure bliss. On a gorgeous and unseasonably warm day, watching my son play on the enormous pumpkins outside the entrance, it was paradise. Once finished, I hit an indie record shop, and picked up an Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong CD, which would prove to be the perfect music companion for the rest of the trip.
As lovely as Stockbridge is, we were eager to head off to Great Barrington, but before we hit downtown, we had to check in at Windy Hill Farm, who arguably makes the best apple cider ever made. I came to know Great Barrington back when I was a teenager, and staying at the local church with my choir. The town’s beatnik style has always held a strong appeal to me, and I truly feel at home each time I visit. Though my son would argue the toy stores are the talk of the town, for us it is Rubiner’s, the town’s famous cheesemonger. Housed in a former bank, vault still intact, Rubiner’s is a must visit. Out back is Rubi’s, a bar/coffeehouse that also makes gourmet sandwiches. Guests can eat/drink outdoors or in the converted bank’s boardroom, complete with fireplace and wood-paneled walls. The ambience is nothing short of spectacular.
But, you came for the cars, and I hope I did not disappoint. As always, Alfa’s Unlimited, just south of the Massachusetts border was a must-see. It’s my few minutes of the year to reconnect with Alfa Romeo’s, one of my favorite cars I ever owned. New for this year was another stop outside Sheffield, MA, with an eclectic collection of Euro and American iron in various states of restoration or decay. I sincerely hope you enjoy the pics as much as I.
To all the Dad’s out there who read The Garage, we hope you had a very happy Father’s Day, and hope you were able to set aside some time to indulge your automotive passion, whether it be at the track, a car show, or driving your own pride and joy. For me, I drove up to the Farmington Polo Club for the annual Concorso Ferrari & Friends Event, hosted by the New England Region of the Ferrari Club of America. We arrived around the middle of the show, but by then it was clear many cars had already left. With an hour to go, cars were being loaded on trailers or being driven out (MAJOR kudos to the guy that roared out in his Ferrari 250 GTO!). So while it was a limited field of cars, it was a good time to get up close to some beautiful, rare, exotic Italian machinery. I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story.
And if you were wondering, the body shell you see in the picture gallery is a freshly painted 1958 Ferrari 250 Series I Cabriolet. Because there is no better way to spend Father’s Day than showing your five year old son the suspension mounting points on a vintage Ferrari!
Over my 70 odd (very) years I have driven many different cars on the road. Some were fun and some were pieces of dung. Many I owned or had long term use of. Others were very short term including the very first Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. Technically it did not exist. VIN 00001. Four 48 IDA Downdraft Webbers and a 5 speed ZF gearbox among other things. It may feature in a later story. My favourite was an Alfa and I will get to that in a bit.
If you’ve been hanging around The Garage long enough, many of you will know that with autumn, the Berkshire Mountains are a siren call for me. From where I live on the Connecticut coast, Ã‚Â it is a delightfully traffic free drive, and as I progressed northward, it was easy to see the progression of the foliage as I ventured deeper into colder climates. For the car obsessed person in me, perhaps one of the finer pleasures of my drive is encountering Alfas Unlimited, in Norfolk, CT.
As a car geek, I’ve owned a lot of cars, but of every car I’ve ever owned, I am possibly most fond of my 1986 Alfa Romeo Spyder, ‘The Graduate’ edition. That delightful red roadster met its match in the form of a raging Ã‚Â blizzard while I was in college in Lancaster, PA. It got so cold the engine block of my Italian beauty cracked. So my annual pilgrimage to the Berkshires is slightly bittersweet, and with a toddler in tow, a Spyder is out of the question, but an Alfa Romeo GTV sure seems appealing! Enjoy the photo gallery, my friends.
Sports Car Digest has published a great story by friend of The Garage, Lou Galanos, about Peter Revson at the 1972 Daytona 6 Hour Continental. As always, Lou’s article is accompanied by some incredible photos. Lou describes the changes that were made to the FIA sports car endurance racing in 1972 and follows Revson and the Autodelta team through the Continental weekend.
For those with an interest in the history of sports car racing, this is an absolute must read.
The Fourteenth Annual Greenwich Concours dÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Elegance was held on June 6-7 at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park in Greenwich, CT. Founders and co-chairs Bruce and Genia Wennerstrom hosted an impressive variety of marques, featuring rare, classic, unusual, exotic, and one-off production and race cars.
It is a pleasure to share this delectable mix of devastating machinery with you. So as to not overwhelm you, gentle reader, we will show the cars in separate installments by the carÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s nation of origin. Enjoy!
The news today did not come as a total surprise-Chrysler filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy today. While listening to local news reports from various Chrysler dealerships today, the general feeling was relief-not panic, the emotion normally associated with this sort of news. The key here is that Chrysler (and GM, for that matter), were asked by the US government in advance to have bankruptcy plans in place, should it come to that.Ã‚Â
And on Wednesday night, it did “come to that.” Chrysler was working with its creditors on a debt-for-equity swap. Some of the banks refused to go along, and as a result Chrysler was left with no alternative but to file for bankruptcy. As quickly as Chrysler filed, a plan for a “new” Chrysler was introduced, with a detailed look at Fiat’s new role in the company.
First, let’s break down who owns Chrysler, as Cerberus has given up its 80% stake, and Daimler gave up its 20% stake. Ã‚Â The Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA, aka the UAW) owns 55%, while 10% is proportionally shared between the US and Canadian governments. Fiat owns 20% of Chrysler off the bat, plus an additional 15% as Fiat meets three pre-determined goals:
- When Fiat brings a 40mpg vehicle platform to be built in the US.
- When Fiat brings a fuel efficient engine family to be built in the US.
- When Fiat provides Chrysler access to its global distribution network for export of North American built vehicles.
Finally, once all government-backed loans are repaid, Fiat can become a majority owner of Chrysler.
Obviously, there is a lot of work to be done, but what does this news mean right now? First, Chrysler Financial is being replaced by GMAC, who will provide loans and financing to dealers and consumers. Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli announced he will step down once bankruptcy proceedings are over. Nardelli will then continue with Cerberus as an advisor.Ã‚Â
Chrysler said the company will continue normal operations, with the exception of production-no vehicles will be built while the company is operating under bankruptcy protection. Vehicle warranties will be honored, dealers will receive inventory, and suppliers will be paid. Finally, we are told this will be a very quick bankruptcy, lasting only 30-60 days.Ã‚Â
It seems like an unlikely marriage, Chrysler and Fiat, but I have high hopes. I had high hopes when Daimler and Chrysler became a so-called “merger of equals”. Instead of truly sharing technology, Daimler threw Chrysler nothing but obsolete scraps. But here, Fiat wants something, and that’s an easy in back to North America. Dealer network? Check. Suppliers, manufacturing facilities? Check.Ã‚Â
As quick as Chrysler’s bankruptcy is said to be, the changes to turn this sinking ship around will not happen overnight. Chrysler’s biggest liability are the holes in their vehicle lines, which are chiefly:
- No small, desirable car. Caliber? No thanks.
- A non-competitive mid-size car in the Sebring/Avenger
- While crossovers are the rage, the Dodge Journey is a wallflower
Chrysler has promised updated versions of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chrysler 300/Dodge Charger, but those are a full model year away at least, for now. We could possibly see Dodge/Chrysler badged Fiats, but that could take up to two years to happen. Fiat could also bring back Alfa Romeo, but again, who knows when that could happen. For now, we just have to wait and see.
Realistically, bankruptcy could be the best thing that could have happened to Chrysler. Maybe that’s why some people were actually relieved at the news. Time will tell, but this begins a new chapter for Chrysler.