Thursday, August 18, 2016

Stutz Made Their Own ‘Beast” Limo Decades Before President Obama’s

The Beast, President Obama's Limousine. (Photo: Major Dale Green, U.S. National Guard)

We’ve all seen the tall, black limousine that ferries President Obama between the White House and his various appearances, many of which seem adorably focused on picking up surprise carry-out orders from DC-area burger joints, but if you pay close attention you will notice the true size of the vehicle nicknamed “The Beast.” 

Notice the limo's height compared to the agent holding the door. (Photo: Master Sgt. Kendra Owenby, U.S. National Guard)

It’s tremendous proportions are most obvious in photos that show Secret Service agents holding the door or walking alongside the limo, which is rumored to be based on a Chevrolet Kodiak/GMC Topkick heavy duty truck chassis and drivetrain. The limo’s roof towers over the heads of many of those agents, and the bank vault thick doors are clearly evident whenever POTUS enters or egresses.

Chevrolet Kodiak.  (Photo: Dana60Cummins)

But did you know there was another truck-based limousine that also exclusively serving members of the world’s ruling class? Yes you say? Stop lying. No you say? Read on…

The Chevy Suburban of the 1980’s was big, brash and undeniably American in virtually every way, so much so in fact, that up-armored versions could be seen in the motorcade of President Ronald Reagan and in the driveway of Rambo himself, 80’s icon Sylvester Stallone. While armoring standard commercial vehicles in the era was yet to become the mega-industry it is today, one company saw a niche for their reworked version of the standard American SUV.

Stutz, the company best known for creating America’s first sports car with the Bearcat of 1912, went out of business in 1935 but was resurrected in 1968 as Stutz Motor Car of America and set to work creating custom, high-dollar cars with novel, neo-classical designs. Despite corporate offices in the United States, fabrication actually took place in Cavallermaggiore, Italy outside of Turin. It was stated that the region was chosen for it's link to history, an area who’s craftsmen once supplied the soldiers of medieval Italy with their armor.

 Stutz Bear on the streets of Saudi Arabia. (Photo: Abdulrahman Rammal)
 Once you understand that their very first paying customer was Elvis Presley, you can begin to imagine the degree of customization, personalization, and ostentation available with these cars. Costing more than any of their contemporaries (the Royale limo would run you $285,000 in 1984!) Stutz quickly became the favored marque of Saudi Royals. Having cornered the lucrative market for open-air limos that could arguably best the Mercedes Grand 600 Pullman limo in terms of flash, presence, and cost, Stutz took the next logical step and began building armored staff cars to accompany the Royale limousines in motorcades and processions.

This new offering was called the Defender, and later Gazelle, and was not much more than an armored Chevy Suburban with a roof panel that could slide back on rails to reveal a pop-up 50-calibre machine gun. The Gazelle was far from the lean and graceful animal it's name implied, but it served it's purpose and became popular enough that 46 future versions were built, each featuring a full convertible roof, a functional trunk lid added over the former storage area in the rear, a combination roll bar/grab handle across the passenger compartment, and fitted with a large chrome grille in the style of their sedans and limos. Renamed the Bear, these were built exclusively for the Saudi and Moroccan Royal families. Stutz evolved the concept further still into a true “sedan” that retained the trunk concept and was essentially a Bear with a roof.

 Stutz Bear on the streets of Saudi Arabia. (Photo: Abdulrahman Rammal)

Pictured is a Stutz Bear that was spotted in 2008 in Saudi Arabia. It appears to be a decommissioned Royal Guard vehicle as the stepboards have been removed and the overall condition appears in need of a serious detail job. Does any of that make this any less desirable to lovers of “the stranger the better” type vehicles like myself? Nope, not even a little bit. I’d proudly drive this thing every day just for the stares, endless questions about it's origins, and uniqueness of it all.

 Stutz Bear on the streets of Saudi Arabia. (Photo: Abdulrahman Rammal)

Friday, June 24, 2016

Mercedes-AMG GT R: Full Press Release and Photos

You asked for more industry "behind the scenes" articles so we're gonna' keep tossing press releases and photos your way. Today we feature the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT-R. Enjoy!

The new Mercedes-AMG GT R
Developed in the "Green Hell"

June 24, 2016 -Affalterbach. 

From the world's most demanding racetrack directly onto the road: Never before has Mercedes-AMG packed so much motorsport technology into a production vehicle than into the new AMG GT R. The front-mid-engine concept with a transaxle, V8 Biturbo engine rated at 577 hp, extensively modified suspension, new aerodynamics and intelligent lightweight construction laid the foundation for an especially dynamic driving experience. Even from afar, the exclusive "AMG green hell magno" special paintwork leaves no doubt as to the sports car's origin, having spent most of its development time in the "Green Hell" of the Nurburgring racetrack. Wider front and rear fenders allow an increased track width for optimum grip and even higher cornering speeds. A new front fascia with active elements, a large rear aerofoil and a new rear fascia with double diffuser enhance aerodynamic efficiency and help ensure optimum grip. The lightweight forged wheels equipped with cup tires as standard are likewise designed for maximum driving dynamics. The same applies to other new features such as active rear-wheel steering, nine-way adjustable traction control system and adjustable coil-over suspension with additional electronic control. Further, the new AMG Panamericana grille emphasizes the unique standing of the AMG GT R. Its characteristic form with vertical fins celebrated its world premiere on the Mercedes-AMG GT3 customer-sport racing car and now, for the first time, appears on an AMG production vehicle.

Click below to see the rest of the press release and photos: 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Portland, Oregon Calendar of Automotive Events for Summer/Fall 2016

Photo by Hugh Holland

Cars & Coffee
Weekly, 2016
Weekly gathering of elite and unique vehicles at the World of Speed Museum just south of Portland in Wilsonville, OR. Some weeks have a featured marque or other theme.

Beaches Cruise-In
Wednesdays, June-September, 2016
Weekly event held on Wednesday nights June through September at Portland International Raceway (PIR), features up to 1,000 (!!!) cars on show, live music, and drag races later in the day.

Portland Vintage Racing Festival (previously: Portland Historic Races)
July 8-10, 2016
One of the finest motoring events in the Oregon, this show has over 200 vintage race cars competing on the track in various classes, with hundreds of show cars on display, and many more automotive gems to be spotted in the parking lot. The event features a weekend full of vintage racing, Car Corrals from various area clubs, an art contest, food, kids area, vendors, parade of show cars, Land-Rover off road experience, and a slalom course that anyone may participate in.

Forest Grove Concours d'Elegance
July 17th, 2016
The top-shelf experience for anyone with a passion for automobiles in the Pacific Northwest. Whether your interest is purely mechanical, or lies in the appreciation of the slender lines of a bygone era, families can enjoy a day spent among the cool shaded lawn of Pacific University while communing with old and new friends alike, all who share your passion for elegant motorcars. A vineyard tour is available to previous day, Saturday, July 16th.

Monte Shelton Northwest Classic Rally
July 28-31, 2016
An extended weekend rally/road tour for pre-1981 vehicles roaming the beautiful Oregon countryside in this beloved regional event, sponsored by the Alfa Romeo club. The rally website says, "Each year the Northwest Classic Rally visits a wonderful resort where we end Friday’s and Saturday’s rallying and touring with social activities including optional car washing, general tire-kicking and banquet dinners, and we conclude the event on Sunday morning with the Awards Brunch."

Rose Cup Races
July 29-31, 2016
Oldest race event West of the Mississippi and one of the first major track events at PIR. Part of the city's Rose Festival events, and held at a public park (yup, PIR is a city park!), this always signals the start of the hardcore summer racing season. Rose Cup Races on Facebook.

Columbia River Concours d'Elegance
August 7, 2016  EVENT CANCELLED
The official website states, "The Trust and Concours Committee have been unable to secure enough support in the community to underwrite the cost of producing the event." We have never had success in receiving a reply to our requests for information & press kits for previous year's events, and thus, have been unable to assist in the promotion of this event or cover it for publication.

Adult Soapbox Derby
August (Date to be determined)
An annual event that features homebuilt, and incredibly creative, soapbox racers of all types and themes that compete in a series of heats to crown one team the Adult Soapbox Champions of Portland! Mt. Tabor is the setting for this event that feels like the city's biggest neighborhood BBQ with camaraderie and good times for attendees, food, beer and some souvenirs available for purchase.

All British Field Meet (ABFM) and SOVREN Races
September 2-4
If you like a Triumph Stag as much as a dark ale, or a Bentley 3.5 litre gets your knickers in a tizzy, then this is the show for you. 800+ British cars gather at PIR for what has to be the most laid back and utterly enjoyable show of the season. Wind down the summer with racing, cars on display, food and all around good times. The featured marque this Labor Day Weekend is Land Rover.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Italian Mercedes-Benz: Part 1

Story by Dennis Adler

As the saying goes, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” This Italian Mercedes-Benz- bodied 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300b Coupe has always been the object of mixed opinions, it’s styling far more contemporary than any other luxury car that Mercedes-Benz offered in 1955.

The 300s were DBAG’s luxury flagships in the Eisenhower years, With flowing fenders and dignified Sindelfingen coachwork influenced by pre-war tradition. This Pininfarina bodied 300b, built in 1955, forecast the look that Mercedes-Benz adopted when the 220S Coupe was introduced for 1957.
The styling of this 300b Pininfarina Coupe has been interpreted as a blend of several cars of the period, particularly the Bentley Continental, in profile, and the Facel Vega, from the rear. Pininfarina also bodied a few other 300S models but not as attractively as this one.

Company History
The Carrozzeria Pininfarina, one of Italy’s oldest and most admired design houses, was established by Batista Pinin Farina in 1930. From humble beginnings the firm specialized in design and construction of prototype and limited editions. In Iess than a decade Pinin Farina became one of the most respected coach builders in Europe. By 1939 the factory was producing one car daily and employed more than 500 workers.

A few years ago, Sergio Pininfarina, who succeeded his father as head of the firm in 1966, recalled that Pininfarina became famous because its prototypes were exhibited at all important motor shows throughout Europe. “This brought us private commissions to duplicate the prototype designs. My father believed that a car produced in a certain quantity was better than a one-off example.”
Sergio Pininfarina, (the family surname was Farina, and “Pinin” the father’s nickname. The business was Pinin Farina until 1961, when both family and company name were changed to Pininfarina), told us that prototype production was his father’s greatest ambition. “In a one-off car, you can reach a higher degree of finish,” he says, adding that building duplicates allowed the company to put its designs into the hands of many influential people.

In the 1950’s we began working with all the automobile manufacturers, not only in Italy but in Europe with Peugeot, in England with British Leyland, and with several Japanese firms.” Pininfarina noted that his father was the first Italian to design an American-built car, the Nash Ambassador. “The success of that car in America had a great effect in Italy, because here a success in a foreign country is highly regarded. We had these successes with many foreign automakers. We estimate that there are more than 25 million automobiles today with the Pininfarina name.” The number of Pininfarina-bodied Mercedes-Benz cars is considerably lower. Only three were designed and built in 1955 and 1956, each with a distinctively different body.

Styling Stages
This 300 was “dressed-up” in four stages, as documented by photographs before it was sold in 1956. Stage one, as the car was originally shown, used virtually no chrome trim except in the mandatory places like the radiator shell, bumpers, wheel and window trim.Even the headlamp bezels were painted. In stage two the bezels were all chrome, the only noted change.Stage three saw the addition of well-placed lower side molding, flat chrome bands around the front of the fenders, and extended chrome fairings on the auxiliary lamps. In its fourth stage, the car was displayed in Europe, and in this final version it appears today, with wheel well moldings and another belt molding to facilitate two-toning the hood and deck. This molding also bridges the gap in height between the bottom edge of the hood and the bottom of the pre-existing belt molding, occurring via a “hop-up” at the trailing corner of the hood.

Records indicate that it was not until Sindelfingen received and approved Pininfarina’s drawings that an automobile was delivered. Whether a complete car or just a running chassis was sent to Pininfarina is unclear. During an extensive restoration of this car, workers discovered a body identification tag with an assigned number under the left front kick panel (upholstery) on a structure manufactured by Sindelfingen. The tag number, 186.010 450005, indicated a 1954 300b sedan. DBAG records show that the car was sold to F.A. Saporiti, the Mercedes-Benz dealer in Milan, on January 17th, 1955, and shipped by rail to Turin. Saporiti then delivered it to Pininfarina for the new body. The November 1955 issue of Road & Track carries a photograph of this car on page 34 under the heading “New…From Italy.” The car was also pictured in international publications including Industria Automobilistica Italiana, 1957, and Automobil Revue, published in June 1955.

In 1956 the car underwent several exterior changes, mostly additional chrome moldings and a more defined two-tone paint scheme. After the European shows, it was sold and did not resurface until mid 1972, when opera singer Roland Dutro in Wiesbaden, Germany, wrote Pininfarina requesting body crests to put on the car following an accident. Two years later it was sold and found its way to America. Present owner Fred Kriz, Los Angeles Section, purchased it after it was discovered in the San Joaquin Valley as “an old clunker.” In August 1992 a lengthy restoration was completed by Scott Restorations, and the car was subsequently invited to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where it was judged best in class.

The distinctive styling is best viewed in profile. The sleek fender line draws your eye back to the modest kick-up forward of the C-pillar and the triple chrome molding accenting the greenhouse. Minor features include small trafficator turn signal lamps at the base of the C-pillars and two rear window wipers.

Whether or not you find this singular Coupe attractive, it is significant, providing a look back at the end of an era when the three-pointed star could be found atop the grille of a coachbuilt car.

Thanks to Stephan Cobos and David Grant of Scott Restorations for assistance with this article. As well as letters from Pininfarina, references from Mercedes-Benz, and notes from Bob Doehlar, these sources were used: Pininfarina, Architect of Cars by Michael Frostick, The Mercedes-Benz Since 1945, Vol. 1 by James Taylor, Road & Track, November 1955, and Mercedes-Benz Personenwagen by Werner Oswald.

Photographs by Dennis Adler

First published at, and used by kind permission of,

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

2015 Maybach Pullman; Meet the new Boss, Even Better Than the Old Boss

Photo: MBUSA

Mercedes-Benz has unveiled the newest addition to the revived Maybach lineup, this time giving us exactly what we think of when we hear the word "Pullman" which is nothing short of legendary in MB-speak. Find the entire MBUSA press release below, and may we also suggest that you start overturning couch cushions for loose change right now as prices start at well over half a million dollars (for the non-armored version).

The New Mercedes-Maybach Pullman

High-end luxury-class motor vehicle with a proud pedigree

The 50th birthday of the best-known Pullman sedan of them all, the Mercedes-Benz 600, is set to coincide with a special debut at the Geneva Motor Show: the launch of the new Pullman. Mercedes-Maybach's second model will assume the top-of-the-range position, with vis-à-vis seating in the passenger compartment and high-end automotive luxury that is traditionally associated with Maybach.

Its length of 21.3 feet (6.50 meters) alone is a sign of the special status of the Mercedes-Maybach Pullman. It provides space for a generously-sized and tastefully-appointed club lounge in the rear, which has a multitude of creature comforts fitted as standard. This chauffeur-driven limousine is more than equal to today's demands for the ultimate in exclusivity and luxury. The VIP occupants sit on two standard-specification executive seats facing the direction of travel. They can enjoy the greatest legroom in the segment; and can get into and out of the car with the greatest of ease and comfort. As is typical for a Pullman, the four passengers can sit facing each other in the compartment with an electrically-operated partition window. The prices for unarmoured models start at around half a million euros (as of mid-February 2015, EURO 500,000 = USD $566,922); the first customers will be taking delivery of their vehicles, which of course offer unrivaled scope for individualization, at the beginning of 2016 (this model is TBD for the U.S. market).

Many governments, rulers and royal families around the world have for decades chosen Mercedes-Benz sedans with the designation "Pullman" to drive them with the stateliness and style befitting their status. With its new model, the company is now extending its unique position in this demanding segment: "Quite apart from providing stately and stylish seating for high-ranking passengers in the comfort and spaciousness for which it is famed, the new Mercedes-Maybach Pullman is of course the embodiment of exclusivity at its highest level," commented Ola Källenius, Member of the Daimler AG Management Board responsible for sales and marketing of Mercedes-Benz Cars. "One can sense the significance and greatness of it in every detail."
The Mercedes-Maybach Pullman provides extremely spacious seating combined with unique features characterized by their extraordinary and perfect craftsmanship. It goes without saying that Mercedes-Maybach offers its customers unique opportunities to individualize the appointments of their top-class limousines. The exquisite Maybach paint finishes,  which are applied in several layers, count as part of  this specification.

With a length of 21.3 feet (6499 mm), the Pullman is another 3.5 feet (1053 mm) longer than the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class. The wheelbase is an impressive 14.5 feet (4418 mm). Furthermore, at 5.2 feet (1598 mm) in height, the Pullman is more than 3.9 inches (10 cm or 100 mm) higher than a Mercedes S-Class, resulting in a tangible increase in headroom.

The absolute top-of-the-range model is the Mercedes-Maybach Pullman S 600. Its V12 biturbo engine has an output of 390 kW (523 U.S. SAE hp). With displacement of 5980 cc, the maximum torque of 612 lb-ft (830 Nm) is available from 1900 rpm.

The name Pullman was originally applied to railway carriages with luxurious open-plan compartments manufactured by the American Pullman Palace Car Company. This name was soon also applied to the motor cars from Mercedes-Benz which were based on an extremely long wheelbase and offered a very generously-sized passenger compartment. In the rear, separated from the driver's area by a partition, there was space for four passengers to recline regally in four single seats facing each other.

Extremely spacious seating in the rear, entire vehicle interior is leather-clad
As its name suggests, the four seats in the rear of the Mercedes-Maybach Pullman are arranged vis-à-vis. The owner and VIP guests are seated in the direction of travel on two executive seats which are part of the standard specification; other passengers can sit on the fold-down seats facing backwards. If specifically requested, the Pullman can also be delivered in an exclusive version without the additional seats.

The executive seats offer a unique level of comfort thanks to their special adjustment kinematics. In contrast to the norm, the backrest is adjusted separately while the footwell and seat reference point remain unchanged. The cushion can be adjusted separately, with inclination and horizontal adjustment combined. For the executive seats, the maximum backrest angle is 43.5 degrees. The most upright backrest position of 19 degrees allows relaxed working in the rear. The reclining seats feature a calf support, which is freely adjustable for length and angle. The luxury head restraints come with an extra cushion as standard. The two first-class travelers in the rear have the greatest amount of legroom of any car in the segment, as well as 2.4 inches (60 millimeters) more headroom than in a Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.

There is one design difference compared with the existing Pullman model: in the new model, all seats are easy to get to. This improvement was achieved thanks to the large rear doors and the position of the passengers on the executive seats, which is even further to the rear. A real boost in comfort for those heads of state and monarchs for whom protocol dictates that they must take their places ahead of their interpreters. This seating arrangement also preserves their privacy, as a large proportion of their bodies is hidden by the rear roof pillar.

The interior of the Mercedes-Maybach Pullman is upholstered in leather throughout as standard. Not only is the roof liner upholstered in high-quality leather, but also the door frames and seat consoles. As one would expect of a Maybach, there are three analog instruments in the roof liner informing passengers in the rear of the outside temperature, speed and time.

The partition wall between the rear and the driver's area ensures discretion. The glass partition wall can be lowered electrically. It can also change from transparent to opaque at the touch of a button. This allows – in combination with the equally standard-specification curtains for the rear windows – for different levels of privacy. The standard-fit 16:9 format 18.5 inch (47 cm) monitor located in front of the partition can also be extended electrically.

Those who demand uncompromising quality of sound and appreciate perfect music reproduction can choose between two innovative Burmester sound systems. The existing Burmester surround sound system delivers the legendary and unmistakeable magical sound for which the high-end audio specialist from Berlin is famous. But as an option par excellence, the Burmester® High-End 3D Surround Sound System provides matchless listening pleasure and outstanding sound quality.
It goes without saying that Mercedes-Maybach offers its customers unique opportunities to individualise the appointments of their top-class limousines. The key account managers in the exclusive Maybach centres throughout Europe as well as the sales advisors in the Mercedes-Benz sales and service outlets are happy to provide further information on this.

The history: Pullman limousines from Mercedes-Benz
Happy Birthday: the best-known Mercedes Pullman, the Mercedes 600, is celebrating its 50th birthday in 2015. Mercedes-Benz first started offering the prestigious-looking variant in this model series as a "series-production vehicle" in 1965. Having said that, the tradition of offering exclusive limousines with the Pullman name goes back even further at Mercedes-Benz.

Three special-design examples of the model 300 in Pullman dimensions, referred to in the vernacular as the "Adenauer Mercedes," were made in 1960. And following on from the W 100 model series, in subsequent years there were Pullman versions of the S-Class 109 and 126 model series (special production) as well as the 140 and 220 (both standard production).

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Mercedes-Benz USA Announces Details of New Corporate Headquarters in Atlanta

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal (left) with MBUSA President/CEO/All Around Badass Stephen Cannon (right).

MBUSA to occupy interim office space in Central Perimeter before opening new, state-of-the-art facility in 2018

At a press conference today at the Georgia State Capitol, Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) announced the permanent and interim locations for its new corporate headquarters in Atlanta. Company President and CEO Stephen Cannon made the announcement with Georgia Governor Nathan Deal.

MBUSA, which is currently headquartered in Montvale, New Jersey, will construct a new, state-of-the-art headquarters facility on a greenfield site located at the corner of Abernathy and Barfield roads in Sandy Springs, expected to be completed in early 2018. Set near the intersection of Georgia 400 and Interstate 285, the approximately 12-acre parcel rests in one of Atlanta's largest and most sought-after commercial districts, offering numerous hotel, retail and restaurant options with easy access to public transit and Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Present MBUSA HQ in Montvale, NJ.

"Mercedes-Benz is a marquis brand which deserves a marquis setting," Cannon said. "Our ambition is to be more than just a great car company – we want to be among the best companies in the world, and Atlanta will serve as the perfect foundation to foster that ambition for the future. We are looking forward to calling Atlanta home."

Beginning July 2015, the company will move into temporary office space at Sterling Pointe II, a 186,000-square-foot, Class A office building at the Perimeter Center complex in the neighboring city of Dunwoody.

"Mercedes-Benz USA's planned headquarters location in Sandy Springs is great for the city, metro Atlanta and for the entire state of Georgia," said Governor Deal. "I want to thank Mercedes-Benz USA and its leadership team for its decision to call Georgia home."

As part of the relocation, the automaker plans to hire hundreds of new employees from the Atlanta area. MBUSA will continue to maintain several operational business units in both Montvale and Robbinsville, New Jersey. Additional details on the new Sandy Springs facility, as well as MBUSA's Atlanta recruiting efforts, will be released in the coming weeks.

About Mercedes-Benz USA
Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA), headquartered in Montvale, New Jersey, is responsible for the distribution, marketing and customer service for all Mercedes-Benz products in the United States.  MBUSA offers drivers the most diverse line-up in the luxury segment with 14 model lines ranging from the sporty CLA-Class four-door coupe to the flagship S-Class.

MBUSA is also responsible for the distribution, marketing and customer service of Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Vans, and smart products in the U.S.  More information on MBUSA and its products can be found at, and

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Mercedes Revises Entire-Line Model Nomenclature

Really, we couldn't possibly even attempt to coherently explain the new manner in which Mercedes-Benz plans to adapt their naming structure for all models, worldwide by 2020, so we are publishing the press release for you to decipher for yourself.


"Simple and transparent nomenclature to provide customers with better orientation

The Mercedes-Benz model portfolio has expanded rapidly in recent years and continues to grow. The comprehensive model initiative that is currently successfully under way means that, by 2020, the Stuttgart-based premium brand will have brought more than 30 models on to the market worldwide, among them at least eleven that have no precursor in the current product portfolio. On top of this come the different body variants and drive systems. This results in an increasingly complex situation when it comes to naming the various models. "After more than 20 years of continuity involving some of the most recognised and successful product names in the world, we are now making our system of vehicle nomenclature even more understandable. Bearing in mind the international appeal of our brand, our plan has been to devise an even simpler, more transparent and more logical system for the designations of our model series, with the aim of providing clear orientation for our customers", said Dr Jens Thiemer during the launch of the new nomenclature. "Now is the ideal time to do this, for in 2015 we will be updating virtually our whole SUV model range, providing us with the perfect starting point for renaming the whole family of vehicles."

The system behind the new nomenclature is simple, clear and transparent. The model designation is always an acronym made up of between one and three upper-case letters. The different types of engine are indicated by a lower-case letter. The system centres around the five core model series, A, B, C, E and S, which will continue to be used to provide orientation for our customers. In the case of the model designations for the SUVs, in a tribute to the legendary GClass, all SUV models will in the future have the first two letters "GL" in their name. The "G" here denotes the car's lineage. The "L" is a letter that appears time and time again over the history of Mercedes-Benz. It is a linking letter that makes the model designations easier to remember and easier to pronounce; one that is familiar from the legendary SL, for example, or from the more recent CLS and CLA. It is followed by the third letter, which indicates the relationship to the relevant core model series.

In specific terms:
GLA = GL A-Class
GLC = GL C-Class; previously GLK
GLE = GL E-Class; previously M-Class or ML
GLE Coupé = GL E-Class Coupé
GLS = GL S-Class; previously GL
G = unchanged

The system for the 4-door Coupés is constructed along similar lines. The first two letters, "CL", denote the origin, the third letter the link to one of the core model series: in other words CLA and CLA Shooting Brake, or CLS and CLS Shooting Brake.

From 2016 on the Roadsters will all include "SL" in their names to denote their origin, with the third letter again the link to one of the core model series. The SLK therefore becomes the new SLC. As in the case of the G, the SL retains its designation as hitherto, in recognition of its iconic status.
In a development paralleling that of the model series designations, the different types of engines will also be given new designations. These provide clear orientation and are also shorter than the designations used until now.

The boot lids will in future feature lower-case letters, whose meaning is as follows:
c for "compressed natural gas" (Natural Gas Drive until now)
d for "diesel" (BlueTEC and CDI until now)
e for "electric" (PLUG-IN HYBRID, BlueTEC PLUG-IN HYBRID and Electric Drive until now)
f for "fuel cell" (F-CELL until now)
h for "hybrid" (HYBRID and BlueTEC HYBRID until now)

As has been the case until now, there will be no suffix for the petrol models. The defining and established designation 4MATIC for our all-wheel-drive vehicles will remain unchanged and, indeed, will be celebrating its thirtieth anniversary next year. Given the way that Mercedes-Benz has evolved into the leading brand for all-wheel drive, 4MATIC will in future play an even more important role in our model portfolio. As a result of a steadily growing demand, we will in future be adding further models to the all-wheel drive segment.

"More clarity, more transparency, more consistency for Mercedes-Benz customers – we are convinced that our new nomenclature will support us in achieving this objective. The logic built up on the basis of the core model series will enable our customers to find their way round our growing product portfolio far better", was the way Dr Jens Thiemer summarised the new nomenclature."

Got it? Good, now tell us what to call this thing!

Marchsaydeeze-Bends 6000000SEHell Designo?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Aston Martin Lagonda Resurrected for Middle East Customers

When I was about 19-years old I had the opportunity to purchase what was, at the time and probably still today, one of the most retro-futuristic cars ever designed, the Aston Martin Lagonda. This particular car was a black over black, one of those early 80's behemoths that still had the pop up headlights before they were all integrated into one wide light bar in later editions. I was at the former Kruse Auctions in Auburn, Indiana and the car I had previously only seen on posters in my room and catalogs I had managed to acquire by writing to dealerships around the country. The price was $19,000 and I had my father convinced that this would be the perfect "forever car" and that, at this price, would be hard to justify NOT buying. Being a dad, he found a way. Asking all the normal questions of me such as what kind of fuel economy does it get, where do I find spares, etc., he casually asked, "so where do you get a fender if you have a small accident?" I thought for a moment and recalled what I had read in a book just a few weeks earlier, that Aston Martin keeps build records for each car and would simply pull out the buck, instruct a skilled English Craftsman to lay out some aluminum sheet on his workbench and get to hammering with a mallet on a sand-filled leather bag. Imaging the cost of such a venture ended the deal right there.

Well now it seems my luck has come full circle as Aston Martin announces a brand new iteration of the oft-polarizing Lagonda, minus the part about being able to afford it unfortunately. I'm saving some luck for that.

The new Lagonda will be available only to buyers in some Middle Eastern countries. Why? Who the hell knows, but most likely so this thing can be priced like an aircraft carrier without having to justify it to penny-pinching Europeans and Americans.

Below are a few of the other cars that carried the name, "Lagonda', or were 4-door predecessors to today's car such as the Rapide, but also including one oddball that was actually presented as a legitimate concept but actually just an elaborate April Fool's joke created completely digitally.

1964 Aston Martin Rapide
1974 4-door "V8" model
1984 Lagonda
1993 "Vignale" Concept (front)
1993 "Vignale" Concept (rear) 
2009 Concept Lagonda SUV
2010 Rapide

2009 Concept Lagonda Sedan (an April Fool's joke but beautiful!)

Concept Sedan rear

Friday, August 1, 2014

Ken Zuleger's Photo Recap of Forect Grove Concours d'Elegance

Isotta Fraschini on Awards Platform (Photo: Ken Zuleger)

 Here's this year's inspiring gallery of photos from the 2014 Forest Grove Concours d'Elegance just outside of Portland, Oregon. You might remember seeing photographer Ken Zuleger's array of beauty shots from last year, highlighting the fine details of these magnificent designs so we brought him back for more. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Save the Date: Forest Grove Concours d'Elegance- Sunday, July 20, 2014

MotoArigato readers are already well-acquainted with the Pacific Northwest's premiere automobile event, the Forest Grove Concours d'Elegance, so many of you will be pleased to learn that the 2014 show celebrates our collective passion with several highly notable cars on display.

The theme for the 2014 event is "The Art of Italian Motoring" and accordingly, the organizers have assembled a roster of historically important motorcars to attend ranging from one-off specials to former LeMans racers.

Let's dig into the details of the featured cars...

1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 (This Year's Poster Car)
 This carrozzeria Touring bodied Alfa "was built to be a grand touring car in the true sense of the word" according to it's owner, Jon Shirley of Washington, who further describes the car as "fast but very civilized."  Vented rear wheel skirts, a sloping fastback that screams "more speed" and full disc wheel covers all point towards this car's capabilities as a continent crusher, devouring road miles just as it was intended to do when it was new some 76-years ago.

Exceedingly rare, with only 33 built, this example further distinguishes itself from the remaining few by being the winner of the first Watkin's Glen race held in 1948. Under Mr. Shirley's care, the 8C also completed the 1,000-mile Mille Miglia retrospective in 2006, won two awards at Pebble Beach in 2008 including Best of Show, and further Best of Show awards at both the Windsor Castle inaugural Concours 2012 and Villa d'Este in 2009.

1933 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport
 David Cohen's vehicle is a high class mutt of sorts, with it's chassis & drivetrain of Italian origin coupled with French bodywork, but none of this prevents this car from being an absolute show stopper with it's classic and elegant Figoni-penned hips and finely surfaced curves. Originally fitted with the French bodywork, which easily gained the car top honors at the 1934 Monte Carlo and Nice Concours d'Elegance events, the car was later altered for racing duty with a rebody as an open car for the 1935 24-Hours of LeMans. Eventually it was refitted with it's original closed coupe body and went on to win various awards in shows including the Villa d'Este and Coppa D'Oro in Italy, Pebble Beach (all in 2012) and Kirkland, Washington in 2013. The car lives in Vancouver, B.C. today but is graciously making the trip down to Forest Grove so we may all spend some time basking in it's charm.

1964 Ferrari 250GT/L Lusso
Admired by Ferrari lovers the world over, "Lusso" is a legendary name even among the finest of F-cars, and for good reason. In fact, a similar car was selected personally by comedian Adam Carolla as his choice for "World's Greatest Sports Coupes" at the current Petersen Museum exhibit . Style, grace and capability define the Lusso, and this Portland-owned show winner is no exception. The metallic grey color is said to have been favored by Enzo Ferrari himself, and present owner Robert Ames clearly appreciates being the exception to the rule of "Resell Red" when it comes to italian exotics. Pininfarina designed, this Lusso is familiar yet alluringly unique with it's sharp and low coachwork tipped at the nose by chrome overriders that have to be among the most subtle, yet finely sculpted, examples ever to appear on a sports car. It's little wonder that this car won both Best in Class and Post-War Best in Show at previous Forest Grove events.

1972 Alfa Romeo Junior Zagato 1600
If you're at all like me, the mere mention of the name "Zagato" quickens the pulse, dilates the pupils and causes a shameful amount of envy. While following the design house's 1970's-era cues, those primarily being flat panels, sharp creases, slats, vents and the familiar kinked C-pillars, we can still see the specific design-language that has made Zagato legendary among the aesthete in this example. The long nose and stubby tail denote power and speed, and Zagato touches like the clear fascia and wheel treatment go miles towards setting this car apart from the 105-series Giulia it is based upon. Add in the rarity of being one of only 402 made over the model's lifetime, and you understand this is not a car you're likely to see down at the local Dairy Queen anytime soon. Sold new in Italy in 1972 the car made it's way to Great Britain a few months later, and then on to the US in 2007. It has been owned by Reid Trummel, of Portland, Oregon, since 2013.

1969 AC 428 Fastback Coupe
We could call this car a "hybrid", but certainly not by the modern definition. Given that this Frua-bodied car was designed in Italy, it's chassis built in Britain, and it's engine forged in the US, we can't think of a more appealing setup. The long-embraced tradition of European cars fitted with American iron is a popular one, with cars like the Iso Grifo, DeTomaso Pantera, Dual-Ghia and Facel Vega HK500 benefitting from this type of arrangement. This car was born out of sheer necessity after the 80 rolling chassis already completed by AC Cars intended for use as Cobra units were no longer able to be imported into the US due to changing safety regs. Rather ingeniously, AC sent these cars off to Frua of Italy for fitment with either a fastback coupe version, or a drop top derivative. While maybe not recognizable straight away to the average enthusiast as "cobra-related" you can bet that the American V8 will be instantly noticed on start up or as it laps you on the twisties. We will be treated to both a coupe and convertible AC 428 at this year's Forest Grove Concours courtesy of owner and restorer Jim Feldman of Portland, OR.

About the Event
This year, the event celebrates "The Art of Italian Motoring" while also honoring 50-years of the Ford Mustang and Pontiac GTO.

Rain or shine this event will take place, and being reasonably weather protected with a canopy of old growth evergreens and shaded by historic campus buildings, there's really no excuse not to treat yourself and your loved ones to this terrific family-friendly event. Parking is free among the streets of Forest Grove, and admission rates can be found here. Food is available for purchase at the campus dining hall and they even have vegetarian options among the more standard fare of burgers, hot dogs and ice cream.

The concours is organized each year by the Forest Grove Rotary Club as a means to help fund scholarships for local students. Your contribution comes in the form of your admission fee.

Official Site of the 2014 Forest Grove Concours d'Elegance
See all MotoArigato "Forest Grove Concours d'Elegance" past articles and picture galleries here.
(Photos: Forest Grove Concours d'Elegance)