Tuesday
Sep162014

2015 Kia K900: Korean Luxury Strategy, Round 3

By Ted Orme

As I pointed out in a recent review of the 2015 Hyundai Genesis, the Korean invasion of the luxury segment began with the 2009 Genesis. The company got more ambitious with the launch of a new flagship, the 2011Equus, to directly challenge the likes of the Lexus LS and well established German high rollers. This year we got a significantly improved (according to me and most car writers) second-generation Genesis and a new high zoot challenge from Kia, the 2015 K900.

Why the need for Hyundai’s corporate sister Kia to join the luxury fray with a car that shares the drivetrain and many of the same parts as the Genesis and Equus?  Michael Sprague, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Kia, explains that, “This year marks Kia Motors’ 20th anniversary in the U.S. market, and the all-new K900 is a symbol of how far the brand has come and the next bold example of the challenger spirit that has benefitted Kia over two decades of growth and maturation.” After the Optima, Sorento and Cadenza, “the K900 is the next logical progression for Kia,” he added.

Aside from that corporate blah, blah, one wonders why the K900 jumped into this highly competitive rear-drive luxury segment as basically a restyled Equus; with the same 119.9-inch wheelbase, strong 5.0-liter, 420 horsepower V-8 engine, seamless 8-speed automatic transmission with manual shifting mode as well as much of the same chassis design and suspension components.  But K900 did not get the Lotus team enthused suspension that made the new Genesis so much better.

 

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Monday
Sep082014

1968 Ford pickup

By Vern Parker

In 1968 Gary Risse was so young that he has only vague memories of the day his father, Pete, brought a new three-quarter ton truck home. It was May 21, 1968.

My dad bought it for $2,600 at the Hub Ford dealership on Peach Tree Road in Atlanta, GA., Risse has been told.

Ford evidently did not want the truck to be misidentified so across the leading edge of the engine hood are large chrome letters spelling F O R D. A similar set of letters in white paint are spread across the tailgate.

This truck was – and is – a classic bare bones work truck. “It has no frills, three on the tree, no air conditioner and manual everything,” Risse says.

 

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Monday
Sep012014

2015 Hyundai Genesis RWD 5.0: Look Out Lexus!

By Ted Orme

Just after the debut of the first 1990 Lexus LS400 I was in Germany on a Mercedes-Benz introduction, the new SL roadster as I recall. I remember distinctly the contempt a MB engineer had for this latest Japanese “adventure.” He scoffed at the idea of Toyota challenging Deutschland luxury carmakers. “No history, no tradition, no passion,” he snorted.

Well, it didn’t take long for that attitude to change. In ten short years the Lexus brand had grabbed nearly 18 percent of the U.S. luxury market and had become synonymous with the rich and privileged; thus the expression “Lexus lanes” for express toll ways.

About that same time, I also remember a skilled Toyota auto engineer telling me that what he feared most were the Koreans. “They work so hard,” he said. Sure enough, after carving out a growing share of the small and mid-size markets, Hyundai, synonymous with value and economy, took aim at the entry level luxury segment with the 2009 Genesis.

 

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Monday
Aug252014

1967 MGB GT

By Vern Parker

The early versions of the MGB GT have long held an appeal for Jaime Steve. Even 25 years ago, while studying for the New York bar examination, he had above his desk a photograph of a red MGB GT for inspiration.

As the years passed Steve discovered that early MGB GT models were becoming scarce. However, he continued searching and in the spring of 2012, while electronically browsing on eBay he found a red 1967 MGB GT offered for sale in McKeesport, Pa., near Pittsburgh.

After Steve and the seller, Dan Meyers, corresponded to get any and all questions about the car answered detailed photographs were sent which convinced Steve that this was the car for him.

Records indicate that this 1967 MGB GT was built in 1966 between May 25 and June 3. Steve flew to Pittsburgh where Meyers met him and they went to see the MGB GT.

 

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Tuesday
Aug122014

1932 Packard Convertible Coupe

By Vern Parker

In 1932 the base price of a Packard standard eight convertible coupe was $2,850. A total of 3,737 such models were manufactured.

An all black one with a rumble seat was purchased by a physician in Chevy Chase, Md. He kept the luxurious Packard for 34 years before it was sold in an estate sale to a jeweler in Fredericksburg, Va.. in 1966. At that time the in-line eight-cylinder engine was not in running condition, It had spent the previous 15 years stored under cover in a barn.

The sporty roadster was returned to good health and the jeweler reportedly repainted the body of the car but left the black fenders untouched and began using it as his daily transportation. The car became a minor local landmark because it seemingly was always parked in front of the Crown Jewelry store.

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