Posts by Roger Hart
- rogerhart13 at Motoramic10 mths ago
(After more than three decades of writing about and photographing the auto industry, Roger Hart has moved into a new role overseeing photography for the University of Michigan. Roger's a class act, and we thought some excerpts from his going-away letter to us deserved a bigger audience — Ed.)
I am very excited about the change in direction for me. I started my career as a newspaper photographer and worked for the Associated Press, shooting a variety of news and sports assignments, before moving to edit a newspaper and then eventually finding my way to Autoweek. In fact, my first taste of automotive journalism was shooting photos for Automobile Magazine shortly after it launched in the early 1980s. I did quite a bit of photography at Autoweek, but I'm really looking forward to getting back to dealing with photography full-time.
Talk about a world car. The latest electric vehicle is a legendary Italian nameplate whose powertrain was designed and engineered by Americans, and it’s being built in Mexico. After a 45-mile loop in the hills north of Los Angeles, the Fiat 500e is one of my favorite EVs for one simple reason: it’s a blast to drive. That it can be bought for a reasonable amount of money per month just adds an extra scoop of gelato.
The 500e – the e stands for electric – is the first all-electric vehicle to come from the Fiat/Chrysler operation, and the 500’s diminutive size made it an easy choice for swapping to battery power. Spurred by $7,500 government tax incentives, California laws requiring EV sales and the drive by automakers toward increasingly stringent federal mileage mandates, EVs have bloomed like crocuses. So far this year, more than 9,000 EVs have been sold.
Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler never really knew each other. The two lived 60 miles apart and had divergent goals for their start-up engine businesses; Benz wanted a new type of vehicle while Daimler and designer Wilhelm Maybach were engine guys, happy to put gasoline power to a horse carriage in order to get rid of the horse.
But the company that emerged from their work lays claim to a heritage that stretches back to the first-ever gasoline-powered automobile – the three-wheeled Benz Patent Motorwagen – in 1886. And to mark that heritage, Mercedes-Benz has what many consider the world's best auto museum, located on park-like grounds near a Mercedes-Benz engine plant and just down the street from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in the company’s hometown of Stuttgart, Germany.
A tour of the museum not only tells the story of Benz and Daimler, but through 160 vehicles and more than 1,500 exhibits, visitors enjoy a world history lesson of the past 125 years, and the role in which the automobile has played in helping shape that history.
Since 1951, Mercedes-Benz has sold more than 3.5 million high-end luxury cars, with the modern generation of S-Class, launched in 2005, having sold more than 500,000 units. After eight years in production, the current S-Class, known internally as model series 221, has grown old. Graybeard old. With today’s rapidly changing technology, car years are even longer than dog years, and eight-year-old models look like dinosaurs.
Fortunately for Mercedes and its battle with BMW and Audi for global luxury dominance, a new S-Class awaits. The company will officially unveil the car in Stuttgart later this spring, with cars going on sale later this year. In an effort to tease us — and the buying public — Mercedes opened the doors of the new S-Class to give us a peek at the interior. Inside a darkened photo studio in the shadow of the company’s headquarters, three cars with camouflaged exteriors were opened up to reveal the next definition of luxury from Mercedes that suggests a spa with four wheels, with aromatherapy that goes well beyond the new-car smell.
- rogerhart13 at Motoramic1 yr ago
A race car that twice conquered the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the French classic endurance race in the 1960s, and a passenger car that represented the very best of what American automakers could build prior to World War II took top honors Sunday at the 18 th Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. While most concours for classic cars pick just one Best of Show, Florida's largest such show picks a car for elegance and one for sport — from a field this year that included more than 300 vintage and classic cars, race cars and motorcycles.
The concours honored American race driver turned television analyst Sam Posey as its honored guest, and the Porsche 911 and Ford GT40 were the featured marques.
A 1968 Ford GT40 owned by the Rocky Mountain Auto Collection of Bozeman, Mont., was named Best in Show Concours de Sport, while a 1936 Duesenberg SJN, owned by The Nethercutt Collection of Sylmar, CA, took the Best in Show Concours de Elegance.
- rogerhart13 at Motoramic1 yr ago
American car consumers have an ever-increasing appetite for all-wheel-drive models that automakers, both domestic and import, are scrambling to provide. Data from R.L. Polk reveals that more than 20 percent of new car and utility vehicle retails sales in 2012 were all-wheel-drive models. Overall, retail sales of all-wheel-drive models in the U.S. are up 53 percent since 2009.
Once a mainstay offering from luxury makers such as Audi, whose entire range of vehicles are available with all-wheel-drive, other manufacturers are joining in. But does it provide enough advantage over front-wheel-drive to justify the cost?