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2014 Detroit Autorama Great 8 and Ridler Award winner


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#1 Magoo

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 22:11

Not everyone's cup of tea, but if you are into the American custom car-building scene, the Detroit Autorama took place this weekend. 

 

Photo gallery of the Great 8 finalists for the Ridler Award, America's top prize for hot rod builders:

 

http://www.macsmotor...troit-autorama/

 

 

The winner, JF Launier's Buick Riviera. Since this was one of the more motorsports-flavored Ridler cars in recent years, I am curious to learn what you folks think about it. 

 

 

http://www.macsmotor...r-award-winner/

 

 

 

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#2 Bob Riebe

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Posted 11 March 2014 - 03:45

Post moved from Nostalgia thead.

 

Again Mac's keeps us up on the latest old news.

 

With this latest winner it is fascinating.

I do not like the engine choice, should be a nail-head, the boy racer wagon size wheels and the headlights look just plain shitty but beyond that, it is different.

 

http://www.macsmotor...ner/#more-35720

 

 

Now I know that these boys view automobiles in a different manner than most, but the fact that this was the winner in 1972, well, I wonder if someone did not spike the punch the day the winner ws chosen.

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Edited by Bob Riebe, 11 March 2014 - 03:45.


#3 Canuck

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Posted 11 March 2014 - 04:56

I appreciate the intense perfection and I like overall package - I think.  Show displays always leave me wanting somehow, likely an itch that could only be scratched by being part of the build so you have an intimate understanding of how it all works.



#4 Magoo

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 01:19

I appreciate the intense perfection and I like overall package - I think.  Show displays always leave me wanting somehow, likely an itch that could only be scratched by being part of the build so you have an intimate understanding of how it all works.

 

I typically have the same reaction when looking at these cars, even after following along or being tangentially involved in several efforts. I would like to fully chronicle a Ridler project from true start to finish, or better yet, manage it. 

 

One fascinating aspect of the process for me: how it is possible to spend up to $3-$6 million on a car and yet there are visible build defects. Somebody give me $6 million and I know I can do better, I just know it. Right. 



#5 sblick

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 01:45

The winner was a beautiful car.  As with most hot rods they can be confusing.  This car had the intake. which you can see in the window, go through the interior to the trunk where it took fresh air.  Also in the trunk was the intercooler for twin turbos.  The twin turbos were mounted over the rear axle.  It made for great packaging in the engine compartment but I wonder what the turbo lag is like.  Great show to see though lots of personal expression



#6 Canuck

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 03:35

$3M + ?  I suppose that's what it takes if you're going to pay attention to every final detail.  That's a long way from the back-yard do-it-yourself persona that hot rods had when I was growing up.  I suppose things like the Pro-Street phase, Rick Dobertin's J2000 and the ensuing Boyd-style bucks-up builds started on that path a long time ago.  Maybe it was always that way and the image existed only in my imagination.



#7 Bob Riebe

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Posted 12 March 2014 - 04:15

I truly like the basic design but had they used the front from the 1968 Riviera it would have been a smoother more aerodynamic result that would be a great basis for a new Riviera from Buick.



#8 Magoo

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 13:31

More stuff from Detroit Autorama, the basement show....how about a '39 Chevy Coach powered by an Allison V-1710 aircraft engine? Homebrew EFI, Megasquirt I think. 

 

http://www.macsmotor...troit-autorama/

 

 

5f7s.jpg

 

 



#9 Greg Locock

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 22:07

Even I can appreciate that one. Huzzah.



#10 Canuck

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 01:37

Ah that's cool.

#11 RogerGraham

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Posted 11 April 2014 - 12:09

Apologies for resurrecting one of Magoo's historical threads, but I thought this set of before/after images of Detroit might interest the same people who enjoy Magoo's posts.  

 

Swipe or click on each old-time photo to see the same scene as it is today.

 

http://www.theguardi...graphy-then-now

 

 

Note: it works for me in Chrome on my Windows 8.1 PC, but the photos didn't show up in Internet Explorer 11.


Edited by RogerGraham, 11 April 2014 - 12:10.


#12 Magoo

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Posted 11 April 2014 - 17:33

Apologies for resurrecting one of Magoo's historical threads, but I thought this set of before/after images of Detroit might interest the same people who enjoy Magoo's posts.  

 

Swipe or click on each old-time photo to see the same scene as it is today.

 

http://www.theguardi...graphy-then-now

 

 

Note: it works for me in Chrome on my Windows 8.1 PC, but the photos didn't show up in Internet Explorer 11.

 

Very cool, thanks. I know every one of those locations. How sick is that. 

 

 

The Detroit Free Press used similar technology on a story about the Packard Plant. Could be the same outfit for all I know.

 

 

 http://www.macsmotor...ackard-feature/



#13 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 11 April 2014 - 23:13

Apologies for resurrecting one of Magoo's historical threads, but I thought this set of before/after images of Detroit might interest the same people who enjoy Magoo's posts.  

 

Swipe or click on each old-time photo to see the same scene as it is today.

 

http://www.theguardi...graphy-then-now

 

 

Note: it works for me in Chrome on my Windows 8.1 PC, but the photos didn't show up in Internet Explorer 11.

Labor unrest that eventually caused the companies to move or fold. Worldwide it seems they are pricing themselves out of work and have been for decades.



#14 Magoo

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Posted 12 April 2014 - 02:31



Labor unrest that eventually caused the companies to move or fold. Worldwide it seems they are pricing themselves out of work and have been for decades.

 

Labor unrest had absolutely nothing to do with the decline of Detroit. Here's what really happened. It's a simple matter of technology + geography.  

 

This satellite map shows the 400 acre General Motors Hamtramck Assembly plant. In the area now covered by this plant, over 100,000 auto workers were once employed -- over 30,000 at Dodge Main (yellow rectangle) and the rest at Hupmobile, Gemmer, Amplex, Fisher Body, etc. (Within easy walking distance of this neighborhood, another 100,000 at Packard, Detroit Gear, Studebaker, etc)  At its absolute maximum, GM Hamtramck Assembly has maybe around 2000 today (4400 alltime max) due to automation and other advances in manufacturing. 

 

The bottom line is that modern, automated plants require a tremendous amount of floor space and acreage, and very few workers. These plants are too large to fit in a metropolitan zone. In the 1980s, the unions, the city of Detroit, and the state of Michigan moved heaven and earth to get the GM plant located here, displacing thousands of homeowners and businesses and leveling entire neighborhoods, It cost a fortune but it never paid off in jobs. GM Assembly can produce more cars than the old Dodge Main ever did but with a fraction of the manpower. 

 

The population of the city of Detroit peaked at 1.8 million in 1951, 63 years ago. Today the population is under 700,000. The auto plant jobs went away, and the people left with them. That's why there are 80,000+ abandoned and derelict buildings in Detroit -- not because of poverty, exactly; there's simply no occupants for them. Due to the population collapse, there's an enormous and irreversible real estate surplus.  Detroit is a strange and new kind of ghost town. 

 

 

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#15 Magoo

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Posted 12 April 2014 - 03:18

Now here is why the city government of Detroit is hopelessly bankrupt. The city is huge -- 140 square miles, larger than Boston, San Francisco, and Manhattan combined. It has an enormous infrastructure designed to support nearly 2 million people -- roads, street lamps, schools, water, sewer, police, fire refuse collection, snow removal, etc etc -- but a population and tax base of fewer than 700,000 people, many on fixed incomes. The city is forced to maintain services on square miles of neighborhoods with only one or two occupied homes per block. It's hopelessly upside down. Many square miles of the city will have to be returned to nature. There's no other way. 

 

And this is why when people talk, in a well-meaning way, about rebuilding or revival for the city of Detroit, they are a) totally naive with no grasp of the problem or b) talking about a very limited scale revival where the city that survives is a fraction of the former Detroit... a core, as it were. 

 

And this is also why, when people blame the downfall of Detroit on Democrats or Republicans, or labor or capital, or liberals or conservatives, they are totally missing the point. There is no political solution or economic policy that could have reversed it. There is no fix for this. 

 

I know what you're thinking...hey, now that we have all this free real estate, we can build auto plants again. That's great, but it won't return Detroit to its former glory because auto plants generate only a fraction of the employment they once did. The Detroit that once was is gone. That world no longer exists. 

 

 

 

 

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Edited by Magoo, 12 April 2014 - 12:37.


#16 RogerGraham

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Posted 12 April 2014 - 04:57

The city is huge -- 140 square miles, larger than Boston, San Francisco, and Manhattan combined. It has an enormous infrastructure designed to support nearly 2 million people -- roads, street lamps, schools, water, sewer, police, fire refuse collection, snow removal, etc etc -- but a population and tax base of fewer than 700,000 people, many on fixed incomes. The city is forced to maintain services on square miles of neighborhoods with only one or two occupied homes per block. It's hopelessly upside down. Many square miles of the city will have to be returned to nature. There's no other way. 

 

 

Are there (or have there already been) plans to buy out people in those sparsely-populated areas, in order to be able to save money by retiring services to those areas?  Or would that cost money that the city doesn't have, so there's just a long waiting game being played out?



#17 Magoo

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Posted 12 April 2014 - 12:39

Are there (or have there already been) plans to buy out people in those sparsely-populated areas, in order to be able to save money by retiring services to those areas?  Or would that cost money that the city doesn't have, so there's just a long waiting game being played out?

 

Yes, both. There have been efforts but understandably, the focus is on triage -- getting buildings demolished, etc. 



#18 munks

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Posted 16 April 2014 - 18:25

Magoo- That is a fine summary of what actually happened to Detroit. Nothing unnecessary about the very minor effects of race riots, white flight, and city government corruption. You should post something like that on your site when the opportunity presents itself.



#19 Magoo

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Posted 18 April 2014 - 22:24

Magoo- That is a fine summary of what actually happened to Detroit. Nothing unnecessary about the very minor effects of race riots, white flight, and city government corruption. You should post something like that on your site when the opportunity presents itself.

 

 

Thanks for the kind words. As I get older, I wonder how many social problems are structural in this manner, in need of looking beyond the traditional political solutions. 


Edited by Magoo, 18 April 2014 - 22:24.


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#20 Canuck

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Posted 20 April 2014 - 15:19

Question for you Magoo. If I'm understanding the outline of the problem correctly, the single biggest driver of the demise is in fact the mechanization of the line - reduced human capital requirements, rather eloquently outlined by your GM plant stats.

Are auto manufacturers now more profitable? I have a very short window from which I'm looking at things and of course recent events are clearly more salient than history. I don't recall a previous government bailout of almost the entire industry, but I jump to the conclusion that regardless of what filter one uses - social or capital - the present model does not work well. It is neither highly profitable nor of significant social value (ignoring the utility they manufacture obviously).

#21 Greg Locock

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Posted 21 April 2014 - 10:24

Fifteen years ago two of the big 3 were struggling to maintain -2% margins on their products (and many other car companies globally were in much the same boat). These days things are a bit better, but frankly if you were looking to invest then a car company is a punt at best. However, all around the world countres offer various inducements to get companies to set car factories up, which prop the bottom line up. In my opinion they are not entirely stupid to do so. A car company might employ 5000-10000 people (ish) directly to make 1/4 million cars. But that factory needs an enormous infrastructure, or ecology, behind it, of generally useful industries and resources. For instance, one reason why aircraft maintenance is more or less shutting down in oz is that the big toolrooms are shutting down because the consistent flow of orders from automotive have gone, and by itself the aircraft industry is too small to keep them going.



#22 gruntguru

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Posted 21 April 2014 - 23:02

More stuff from Detroit Autorama, the basement show....how about a '39 Chevy Coach powered by an Allison V-1710 aircraft engine? Homebrew EFI, Megasquirt I think. 

 

Nice to see an engine transplant true to the era. :)



#23 gruntguru

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Posted 21 April 2014 - 23:11

Question for you Magoo. If I'm understanding the outline of the problem correctly, the single biggest driver of the demise is in fact the mechanization of the line - reduced human capital requirements, rather eloquently outlined by your GM plant stats.

Are auto manufacturers now more profitable? I have a very short window from which I'm looking at things and of course recent events are clearly more salient than history. I don't recall a previous government bailout of almost the entire industry, but I jump to the conclusion that regardless of what filter one uses - social or capital - the present model does not work well. It is neither highly profitable nor of significant social value (ignoring the utility they manufacture obviously).

You may find the answer if you compare the cars of 40 years ago with todays offerings in terms of performance, features, safety, environmental impact and cost of ownership.



#24 Greg Locock

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 00:35

Down at the bottom end of the market i think it is a fairly efficient industry, that is, it turns resources into useful product without generating much profit for all the middlemen. Sadly that means that bailouts, and other bribes and support measures, are necessary to keep companies going in the long term.This applies right through the chain apart from the lumps of steel and rubber we start with, and a few other spots of sanity where a supplier has a lock on a technology (say Bosch). If you really want to know what industrial mayhem looks like, the in fighting between hydraulic power steering suppliers just as EPAS came in was amazing.They needed volume, they knew it was the last chance for a contract to write their current production lines off.

 

I think it was Buffett who pointed out that aircraft airlines and automotive manufacturing were the three biggest money pits for investors.



#25 Magoo

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 00:51

Question for you Magoo. If I'm understanding the outline of the problem correctly, the single biggest driver of the demise is in fact the mechanization of the line - reduced human capital requirements, rather eloquently outlined by your GM plant stats.

Are auto manufacturers now more profitable? I have a very short window from which I'm looking at things and of course recent events are clearly more salient than history. I don't recall a previous government bailout of almost the entire industry, but I jump to the conclusion that regardless of what filter one uses - social or capital - the present model does not work well. It is neither highly profitable nor of significant social value (ignoring the utility they manufacture obviously).

 

 

 

Auto plants can do many beneficial things for a community and an economy (as Mr. Locock shrewdly as usual pointed out) but one thing they no longer provide is direct employment in large numbers. When auto plants are sold to a community, the employment angle is usually vastly oversold. This is something the voters need to consider when rolling over for tax abatement, govt subsidies, etc. and so forth. Without proper supervision, these deals can be structured as corporate welfare schemes. 

 

In the digital economy, it's hard to make sense of auto manufacturing in terms of capital outlay vs. ROI. It would seem that Western Civilization now has a non-sustainable business model, but what do I know. 



#26 Magoo

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 00:53

Nice to see an engine transplant true to the era. :)

 

Exactly. It's period correct except for the Megasquirt. 



#27 Canuck

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 01:11

You may find the answer if you compare the cars of 40 years ago with todays offerings in terms of performance, features, safety, environmental impact and cost of ownership.

-average 1954 annual income $4200
- Olds 88 sedan $2337
-1954 300 SL $9000

Wikipedia says that 75% of US households make $50,000 or less annually.
A 2014 Buick Verano is roughly $25,000. I can't comment on cost of ownership, but purchase price relative to income seems fairly steady. Relative to total purchasing power however I can't say.

Quite apart from that, you'll note that my statement (question) rather specifically excluded the utility created. So, as a venture, automotive companies have developed or adopted methods that have stripped the human requirements while increasing the required real estate. At the same time, they are walking a razor's edge of profit and loss, ever teetering in the brink.

As Greg noted, the support industries provide some of the lost human resources but too are subject to the same razor-thin margins as their clients. It seems like a bad business.

#28 gruntguru

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 02:11

"Razor-thin margins" are what you would expect in any highly competitive industry.



#29 Canuck

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 02:22

Your point?

#30 gruntguru

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 03:26

Razor-thin margins = "bad business"?



#31 Powersteer

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 05:55

major car manufacturers tend to make a huge investment into a project and their profit base would most likely be the more they sell the larger profit increment relative to the start off investment, retooling, re-employment and new machines. i remember reading autocar somewhere in the 90's saying fiat has the most robotised factory. a huge investment was made but they did not sell cars. if their sales were a sucess they would have been makng a huge profit per car as those robots were expensive but operated on very low cost. they must have made huge returns on the revitalized cinquencento.

 

:cool:



#32 Greg Locock

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 08:32

Unfortunately the labor costs of final assembly have been so politicised that it is impossible to get a straight answer, but on my 15000 dollar car I suggest the labor component from raw sub assemblies to finished product is maybe 1000 bucks, whereas if you look at a good design vs bad you can find thousands, or you can see that on the hood at the showroom.

 

Here's how low volumes kill volume producers. Each car costs 1 or 2 billion (I doubt you'll see 6 billion again) to design develop and tool. That money has to be amortised across the 8 years it'll be manufactured. I'll take 2 billion, and 8 years at 250 000 a year, that means that out of the poxy 3k profit I made in a preceeding post, I 'owe' the system 1000 dollars per unit for my development costs. If I don't make that profit, there's no money to put in the kitty to develop the successor model. The more money I can put into developing a car the more likely it is to succeed, and the more likely it is to be cheaper to build, and hence more profitable, and so I'll have even more money to play with next time round.A while back senior management recognised and acted on the theory that for example BMW were killing us with the 3 series (in particular), which is actually a rather cheap car to build, but well designed because BMW were floating in cash from their previous successes. So they correctly decided that future products had to be properly designed, to get in front of this curve, which meant fewer new models (cos they didn't have the money due to -2% margins), which meant that oddities like Falcon got the bullet. Which is infuriating for me personally since I like working on the old beast, but logical. 



#33 Canuck

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 13:04

Razor-thin margins within an optional (few could successfully argue they need a new car as often as they acquire one) sector, with a high-friction labour force in a very competitive market is bad business. Yes, that's what I'm saying.

If your business requires (as opposed to receives which doesn't necessarily = requiring) government subsidies to keep the doors open, it's a bad business model. You can't be a true capitalist and argue otherwise.

Razor thin margins in and of themselves aren't necessarily bad business (though the demise of independent gas stations might suggest otherwise), but the car business seems to be.

I don't have any grand solution mind you, except to avoid such things as investments. Neither their products nor their companies are reasonable long-term value

#34 Greg Locock

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 01:11

Agreed. In fact I rarely buy shares in any company that relies on engineering or automotive manufacturing to any great extent. (You might argue that that is merely a diversification strategy, my main eggs being thoroughly in that basket).



#35 Canuck

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 04:38

I am amazed at how easily I am attracted to a new car, despite it's plummeting value. I am more amazed at the ability of manufacturers to successfully convince just enough of us that we need to purchase a brand new car and kiss 30% of our investment goodbye in a matter of months. Every two years. It's brilliant.

Energy, health and vice. Doesn't get much more reliable than that (which is to say not much at all). Q