No. 911
August 23, 2017

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

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On The Table


AUGUST 16, 2017


arrowdown.gif Sergio Marchionne. Editor-in-Chief's Note: Since the autoverse seems to be all abuzz about our favorite carpetbagging mercenary, one Sergio "I'm the G.O.A.T" Marchionne, being in serious talks to sell FCA to Chinese-based buyers, I thought I'd remind you that I started mentioning this as a "most likely" scenario in a column three years ago. But hey, certain members of the media can continue talking breathlessly among themselves like it's brand-new news if it makes them feel special. Carry on. -PMD

(Acura image)

Honda/Acura. Editor-in-Chief's Note: This is the new "face" - featuring a "diamond pentagon" grille - of the 2018 Acura RLX, Honda's continuing lame attempt at doing a large-ish (sort of) luxury car. The new, top-of-the-line RLX Sport Hybrid is "supercar inspired" because it has 377HP, Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive and is
(allegedly) "further optimized based on NSX leanings," whatever the hell that means. And the standard RLX has AcuraWatch enhanced with Traffic Jam Assist, an Acura first. Alrighty, then. This is Acura - yet again - beating a dead horse with the RLX. When is Honda/Acura management going to give this charade up and do a clean sheet design for a proper large car that actually has a shred of desirability to it? My guess is probably never, because they seem to be flat incapable of it. To top it all off, Acura PR minions had the following in the press release: "The 2018 Acura RLX is complimented by three new exterior colors including two premium paint offerings – Brilliant Red Metallic and Majestic Black Pearl." Other than the NSX - which is way too heavy, by the way - the management at Honda/Acura is clearly inept. In fact collectively they well and truly suck. And in case you're wondering, that is not a compliment. -PMD

(Infiniti images)
Infiniti unveiled the Prototype 9, a heritage-inspired prototype vehicle at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in California. Infiniti PR minions say that the Prototype 9 "captures the ingenuity and adventure of early motorsports with the brand's contemporary 'Powerful Elegance' design language." They also suggest that the machine celebrates Infiniti's "passion for design, but also the great roots of the company's pioneer spirit and innovation mindset." Huh. Passion for design? Infiniti? That's a real stretch. Alfonso Albaisa, Senior Vice President, Global Design, added: "It started as a simple thought: What if we found a car, down at the southern tip of Japan, buried deep in the bush, hidden from all eyes for 70 years? What if in this car we found the seed of passion planted during our first Japanese Grand Prix and the power and artistry of Infiniti today? What would this discovery look like?" Wow, that's a remarkable design brief. The car is powered by a prototype electric motor and battery from Nissan Motor Corporation's Advanced Powertrain Department. This nod to the future contrasts with the traditional materials and techniques applied for the Prototype 9's manufacture, including panels hand-beaten by a team of Takumi – Nissan Motor's master artisans. Editor-in-Chief's Note: As AE readers know, my most favorite part of the business is the design function. Having been immersed in this business from childhood, and having grown up down the street from Bill Mitchell and getting to know him and coming to understand his passion for design, I was hooked from an early age. And I've come to appreciate what I consider to be the most creative and influential part of this business, and the men and women who bring their creativity to this industry every day. As I've written repeatedly almost from Day One of this website, design is the Ultimate Initial Product Differentiator. And until we sink into a dismal gloom-scape of autonomous pod cars, it will continue to be. But as I said on Twitter over the weekend, Infiniti's "Prototype 9" is a regrettable - and forgettable - effort. Listen, I applaud blue sky visionary design thinking every chance I get, and Monterey seems to be the place where manufacturers' design houses get to flex their talent, but the "Prototype 9" wallows in some retro Twilight Zone that is meaningless and almost incomprehensible to boot. It doesn't help that the the front end looks like it belongs somewhere else and on another car - yes, I get it, it's a hint at future Infiniti front ends - but that's stating the obvious. Now that this unfortunate exercise has been unveiled, I understand why Infiniti design has been lost in the wilderness from the very beginning. The "Prototype 9" is unmitigated, self-indulgent crap from a automobile company that apparently doesn't know any better, which is a giant, steaming bowl of Not Good. -PMD

Editor-in-Chief's Note: Gary Vasilash offers some interesting details about Elon Musk's promised production numbers for the Model 3 in "Elon Musk and the physics of Tesla’s Model 3 factory." You can read it here. -PMD

A customized 1951 Ford stole the show and drove off with the coveted Winfield Award for automotive excellence at the recent 18th annual PPG Syracuse Nationals held July 14–16 at the New York State Fairgrounds. Owned by Bruce Leven of Auburn, Wash., built by Craig Wick and the team at Wicked Fabrication and painted by John Byers, Byers Custom—both also from Auburn—the dazzling Ford drew the approval of the crowd when the award was announced. Once Wick constructed the Ford, he turned it over to Byers who used several PPG products and custom toners to give the car its stunning and distinctive gray-blue finish. The Winfield Award was the Ford’s second prestigious honor in as many weeks. On July 8, the car’s outstanding paint job made it a PPG Dream Pick at the 20th annual Goodguys PPG Nationals in Columbus, Ohio.

(Klaus Wagger/Automotive Fine Arts Society)
Klaus Wagger, a member of the Automotive Fine Arts Society (AFAS), will debut his painting - "Gurney at the Bridge" - featuring Dan Gurney piloting a Shelby Cobra, along with several other new works at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on Aug. 20, 2017, in Carmel, California. Wagger’s piece will be part of the AFAS show, which is located next to the famous Lodge at Pebble Beach. “Gurney at the Bridge” is a 55-inch by 35-inch acrylic on canvas piece that features Wagger’s signature style of abstract background and tones. One of three factory team cars built specifically for the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, this roadster (CSX2137) was the first Cobra to win in the 1960s competition between Shelby and Ferrari. Dan Gurney drove it to victory at Bridgehampton, New York, in September 1963. It was the first FIA World Sportscar championship win for the fledgling Shelby American team and the first FIA win for an American driver in an American car. The AFAS display will take place during the Pebble Beach Concours from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., in Carmel, California. This is the 22nd year that Lincoln Motor Company will sponsor the AFAS exhibit on the Pebble Beach show field.

(gminsidenews images)
Editor-in-Chief's Note:  Once upon a time, Campbell-Ewald, the ad agency (one of my advertising alma maters) that handled the Chevrolet account for GM, did a series of billboards for the Dream Cruise (when it was still cool) that still resonate to this day. They were memorable, creative and way too much fun apparently, because they haven't been seen since, representing yet another blown opportunity by GM marketing. And since GM marketers are too lame to know a great thing even when they actually participated in the creation way back when, we decided to show a few of them here. -PMD

(Ford images)
Ford is offering a special '67 Heritage Edition of its new Ford GT supercar that commemorates the company's triumph at the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Ford GT ’67 Heritage edition will feature the unique red-and-white-stripe livery of the 1967 Le Mans-winning No. 1 GT40 Mark IV driven by the all-American team of Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt. The limited-edition Ford GT will have exclusive No. 1 race car graphics and unique interior colors, materials and appointments.

(Courtesy of the Ford Racing Archives)
Carroll Shelby and the original 1967 Ford Mk IV a few weeks after the victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

(BMW images)
BMW has unveiled the new Concept Z4 in Monterey, which is a preview of a new production car coming within a year. According to BMW PR minions, the BMW Concept Z4 Roadster is a "sporty and progressive BMW design study encapsulating the BMW Group’s vision of a modern roadster." According to Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design, “The concept expresses the new BMW design language from all perspectives and in all details. From the dynamic-looking front to the striking flanks to the clean-cut tail end: a few lines and the subtle interplay between surfaces are enough to generate a sense of power and emotion.” We'll wait to see it in-person before commenting further.

(The SPCA For Monterey County images)
Mazda Motorsports teamed up with the SPCA For Monterey County in 2007 as a way to use motorsports to promote shelter adoptions and donations. This week, four hand-painted helmets (donated by SPARCO) are being auctioned on eBay to help this worthy cause. Read about the helmet artists and designers here. The Art for Animals Helmet Auction runs through August 24. One hundred percent of the proceeds goes to the SPCA For Monterey County.