No. 898
May 24, 2017

About The Autoextremist@PeterMDeLorenzo Author, commentator, influencer. "The Consigliere." Editor-in-Chief of

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On The Table


MAY 10, 2017

BMW Group Classic and Grand Hotel Villa d’Este present a journey through time and different eras of mobility on the shores of Lake Como, May 26-28, 2017. The theme for this year's show, “Around the World in 80 Days – Voyage through an Era of Records” creates the arc between the initial years of the event to the present day. 51 rare automobiles and 40 historic motorcycles will be presented.

Editor's Note: Occasionally we post an email from a reader that we think will interest the rest of our readers, along with Peter's response. Like this one today (below). -WG

Et tu, Sergio?

I'm very surprised that you didn't comment upon Sergio's expressed wish to spin off Jeep into its own entity/stock offering. This sort of thing is precisely what you were predicting earlier. Funny though, when I try to track down the article I saw, I can't find anything. I know that I haven't hallucinated in years! Can you please give us any insights as to what you've heard?

New York, New York

Editor-In-Chief's Note:
I have been, needless to say, Marchionne's most vehement critic. There is no one else even close. And I have written many, many columns about the carpetbagging mercenary and his espresso-swilling minions. Was it any surprise that Marchionne said he might spin off Jeep? Uh, hell no. He is backed into a corner and he is flat-out desperate. No car company wants anything to do with the guy. Oh sure, they might consider buying him out, but partnering with him? Not a chance. Spinning off Jeep is the last move he has left, because it's the only asset that he has that other entities are truly interested in. He'll attempt to mimic what he did with Ferrari, with his Fiat heirs remaining in control. The problem is that without Jeep the raison d'etre for the "C' in FCA goes away. While he's at it, he might as well sell Ram Truck to the Japanese or the Koreans, and the minivan plant in Canada to someone else, too, as I've said repeatedly. That way, he and his Fiat heir/handlers can cash in - and then cash out. This is what I said in "On The Table" on April 17th: The Fiat Chrysler CEO, answering questions from investors in Amsterdam last week, had the temerity to say that he was backing away from the notion of a "merger" for FCA, and that he would focus instead on developing the company's business plan. "On the Volkswagen issue, on the question if there are ongoing discussions, the answer is no," Marchionne said. The fact is that there will never be "merger" talks associated with FCA, because the only deal that will be made will happen when another automaker buys FCA outright in a "take-it-or-leave-it" deal and sends Marchionne packing. And while I'm at it, Marchionne’s specialty is as a consummate dealmaker, something he actually is truly gifted at, but the rest of his carefully orchestrated persona is total, unmitigated bullshit. Because beyond his dealmaking persona, the stark reality is that he’s nothing more than a carpetbagging mercenary looking for one last big score, and the true Sergio will be exposed once and for all when it comes time for him to acquiesce to the terms dictated to him. And is it no wonder that there are no deals on the horizon for Marchionne and FCA, and that he had to come up with some bullshit about focusing on his "plan"? His recklessness and unbridled hubris have painted him in a corner with no escape in sight. He has assets – Jeep being the one grand slam home run in his quiver – but beyond that the whole enterprise is nothing more than questionable. And when you factor in the money being pissed away on Alfa, it’s even worse than that. I am absolutely certain of one thing in all of this, however, and that is when it all goes down, Marchionne won’t be entering into any negotiations from a position of strength. Instead, he will enter the room as a glorified accountant dressed in an ugly-ass sweater formerly known as “The Great Sergio,” just there trying to get the best deal for his boss. And an entire industry will be licking its chops, looking forward to the day when the Unctuous Prick and his minions are forced to leave the stage, for good. -PMD

Editor-In-Chief's Note: Thanks to PPG for the following on the "Beast." -PMD

The restoration of the 1953 Beast IV Streamliner was commissioned by, and in collaboration with, the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum presented by the Automobile Club of Southern California in Pomona. The major restoration to return the low-slung vintage racer to glory was undertaken by Dan Webb and Ashley and Cory Taulbert at Webb Automotive Art, in Grand Blanc, Michigan. Webb entrusted elite custom car painter Darryl Hollenbeck and his crew at Vintage Color Studio, Concord, California, to create the radiant period-correct finish.

While the build of Beast IV took a quick three weeks, the restoration required fifteen months of intense research and meticulous craftsmanship. Much of the racer had deteriorated and few of its original parts remained. With museum curator Greg Sharp providing historical guidance on the project, the Webb and Hollenbeck crews worked primarily from vintage photographs and magazine articles to source rare parts, fabricate components and determine and reproduce the Beast’s exact colors. Craig Naff, of Woodstock, Va., blended the Beast’s remaining original sheet metal with new material to create a complete body; in effect, a canvas for Hollenbeck to paint. Consulting with PPG’s segment manager Steve Lehner and technical trainer Jim Kvatek, Hollenbeck and team members Darrell Schneider and Dennis Sayers selected several PPG automotive refinish products to replicate the car’s initial paint job. Eric Reyes’ steady hand provided the Beast’s elegant lettering and detailing.

“Color was a challenge,” said Hollenbeck. “There were color photos of the original Beast and we knew the car was blue and yellow, but the colors looked different in every photograph. So we compared the colors of other cars in photos with the Beast. We figured out the other cars’ colors and were able to come very close to equaling the Beast’s color. Then we generated dozens of blue and yellow samples and tweaked them to match the paint. The museum made the final decision and we gave the Beast its proper design and color scheme.”

According to Larry Fisher, the museum’s executive director, Beast IV was originally built in 1953 by Chet Herbert just in time to compete in that year’s Bonneville Speed Week and International Speed Trials. The aluminum-bodied, Chrysler Hemi-powered racer streaked across the Utah Salt Flats hitting a top speed of 246 mph and breaking eight long-standing performance records. Beast IV — the successor to Herbert’s original Beast (a motorcycle), Beast II and Beast III racers — ran until 1992 in a number of configurations with a variety of engines and reached speeds up to 289 mph. The racer then rested on its laurels; unused, it fell into disrepair and was acquired by David and Marianne Duthu. The couple donated Beast IV to the museum and agreed to fund the car’s badly needed restoration.

Beast IV is now on permanent display with Beast III at the NHRA Motorsports Museum.