Chicago Auto Show recap, chatting with McKeel Hagerty | Autoblog Podcast #717

In this episode of the Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by News Editor Joel Stocksdale. They chat about the Chicago Auto Show and spending time in a couple of Nissan products: Stocksdale in the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder, and Migliore in the 2022 Infiniti QX55.

Following all this is a special interview between Migliore and the CEO of Hagerty Insurance, McKeel Hagerty.

Video Transcript

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GREG MIGLIORE: Welcome back to the Autoblog Podcast. I'm Greg Migliore. Joining me today is our News Editor Joel Stocksdale, freshly back from the shores of Lake Michigan from the Chicago Auto Show. How are you, man?

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Doing all right. Feeling all rested up after the big-- bigish-- Well, we'll talk more about it, the Chicago Auto Show.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah. It's good to have an auto show, that's for sure. Looks like the New York show is going to take place coming up in April. So fingers crossed for that. And then hey, maybe we'll get into some of these great summer events that we all love to hang out and spend some time at during the summer.

We're going to talk about the cars we've been driving, the Nissan Pathfinder. Joel, you drove a four-cylinder version of the Kia Stinger. That's kind of interesting, and I've spent some time recently in the Infiniti QX55.

Then we'll close things out. I had an interview with the CEO of Hagerty. They recently went public stock trading, and they're expanding into a lot of different areas. This of course is Hagerty. I caught up with the CEO McKeel Hagerty, so stay tuned for that conversation. That'll be coming up in just a little bit.

So let's jump right in. This is the first auto show we've had in a while. It's interesting that Chicago has actually been able to have three straight years of auto shows. They had one like literally three weeks before lockdowns in 2020. Then they were able to do kind of somewhat of an outdoor summer one in '21, and then, hey, this is the normal time they do it. This time it was more like-- More of a traditional sense I would say but lots of obviously safety protocols, precautions in place.

You were on the floor. What did you think, Joel?

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, so this was very close to being like a normal Chicago auto show. This is the traditional time and this time it was-- it was actually fully assembled. That was one of the weird things last year was for the summer show. I don't know what happened. I don't know if it was they decided at the absolute last minute they were going to have media days, but while we were there listening to the presentations and things, all the construction crews were still assembling displays, bringing in cars or forklifts zipping by. The big bay doors were open and so all the air conditioning was going out, so it's hot on the floor.

But this year was pretty normal. Everything was finished up and ready to go. It was back in one of the normal halls. Usually the Chicago shows split into two halls that are right across from each other, but because this year was still kind of on the small side they only set up in one hall.

But in some ways, that was kind of convenient for us as journalists because we didn't have quite so far to walk if we were going from one manufacturer to the other. A little bit disappointing though the fewer number of manufactures than pre-COVID. So if you were to go in there for like public days it was definitely a little bit smaller, maybe not quite as impressive.

But for the most part it felt surprisingly normal, and they had typical precautions in place, at least for the media days. We had to wear masks and have proof of vaccination. But otherwise it really did feel like kind of a normal auto show. It was kind of fun.

GREG MIGLIORE: What-- what did you think of the new cars, the new reveals? What stood out to you?

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Well, so that's the thing. There really wasn't much in the way of reveals. Jeep showed a black trim package for the Grand Cherokee. There was a firefighter special edition of the Ram 1500.

Let's see, I think there were a couple of other things, but you kind of get the idea that like there wasn't-- there wasn't a whole lot going on this year. But we did have a couple of really good interviews with CEOs of Jeep and Ram in which we learned some very interesting things. With Jeep, we found out that the long-rumored inline-six engine will basically make its debut at the New York Auto Show. That's something that we've been waiting on for a long time. We're very curious to see what that will end up in.

And with Ram, we learned that the electric truck that's coming in a few years is going to also be accompanied by a range extender model. So whether that'll be a gas engine that's functioning solely as a generator or if it'll be able to connect to the wheel somehow we're not entirely sure, but there will be a truck that's based on the electric truck that will have an internal combustion engine for it to go farther on charge and be able to fill up quickly.

Which we think is probably going to be really useful for buyers that actually want to tow a lot because one of the biggest drawbacks for an electric truck is that while it can tow a huge amount and it can do so fairly easily thanks to all that torque, it can't do it very far. When you start towing something, it cuts range drastically. So to have some kind of onboard generator that you can keep topped up with gasoline would mean that you could still have an electric truck most of the time but still also be able to tow things.

GREG MIGLIORE: It's interesting. Ram is going to be maybe not the last to the party, but they're showing up later, but they're bringing some cool stuff. So I think that's going to be a very interesting move. Stellantis actually, I think, has a history of this. They're oftentimes not really on the cutting edge of things. Many times they're actually even behind the times. They will cling to things. You know, heck, the Viper was still available for purchase not all that long ago as a new car.

But then when they get there, they usually have their own spin on it, which I really like. I think that's going to be interesting. In the inline-six, that I think is going to be a very interesting engine. I think straight-sixes in almost any application are very compelling. It's kind of old school, but done well like what BMW and Mercedes do, those are just in my mind gems of power plants. So I'm really, really excited to see what-- what happens with that and how they use it and then how it maybe proliferates throughout the Stellantis lineup. So--

JOEL STOCKSDALE: And before I forget, there were a couple other reveals. Ford brought the Bronco Everglades to show off, which is yet another kind of off-road themed trim level for the truck. It's basically a four-cylinder Sasquatch, but they throw in a bunch of extra off-road bits. They add the metal front bumper, a 10,000 pound Warn winch. They also add a couple of unique upgrades, including a snorkel, and they change up the vents on the axles and transmission so that the whole thing has an extra three inches of water fording ability compared to the regular Sasquatch.

It also gets some neat graphics on the side and it looks pretty cool, and there's also another Heritage Edition Ford GT. This one is red with white stripes, and it's themed after a special lightweight version of the original Ford GT40 that was developed by a British racing team.

GREG MIGLIORE: That's very cool. It's almost like a forgotten chapter in the Ford GT's history. You know, there's so many famous drivers who, you know, piloted the GT back in the mid- to late-'60s. That-- this is really cool. And the scheme is-- it's very eye-catching, let me put it that way. And the GT is serving its kind of final run out here. I believe it's like the final 250. 250 units are out there or will be out there. So I think that's-- this is a good way to kind of continue the send off.

You also got to see things like the Chevy pickup truck, the electric Silverado, which while not exactly a reveal, this is, for all intents and purposes, the first time most humans have seen it in the sheet metal. What was that like?

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, I think it looks really neat, and I think it's interesting, the differences between it and the F-150 Lightning. Lightning, while it does have a lot of unique componentry compared to the internal combustion one, it's still very much based on that truck. It's still body on frame. It still uses basically the same cab and bed.

Whereas the Silverado is a ground up designed-- entirely designed around being an electric truck and taking advantage of some of those things. And it shares stuff with the Hummer EV, and you get interesting features, like the fact that it's electric. They've been able to change kind of the cab packaging so it's more spacious inside and move the cab forward so that you still get plenty of bed space so it's got the midgate.

It's really interesting, and it's got very distinct style from the internal combustion one.

GREG MIGLIORE: I think it looks outstanding. I really do.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, I think it's neat, and I think-- I think it may even be a good thing really for both manufacturers because each one is taking a slightly different tack on the electric truck. And so kind of depending on what you're looking for, there's a truck for you.

It'll be interesting to see if that bears out in sales. Granted, it'll be hard to compare that considering that the Silverado doesn't go into production until next year, and it's only being offered in a stripped out fleet version and a like fully loaded $100,000 version right off the bat, with additional models coming the following model year.

So there is still actually a little bit of a wait for the Silverado and especially if you want one of the affordable ones. It'll start at around $40,000 when they have the full range available, but that-- that won't be until the 2024 model year.

GREG MIGLIORE: Until the electric--

JOEL STOCKSDALE: No, 2025 model year, sorry.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, yeah, no. So that's coming up. I mean, granted, '25 is really like calendar year '24 and it's already '22 if you can believe that. That's still a little bit of a stretch considering you can order a Lightning. So I mean, there is a bit of a-- I'd say, you know, a delay if you will or a lag in between the two sort of electric trucks that will I'm sure be arch-rivals.

It's interesting too because until we start to see to a point where the electric market starts to grow-- and I think that's where you see more of a maturing and maybe more of like an adoption among buyers-- it's going to be kind of a zero-sum game you know. And as it kind of ebbs and flows, you know you're going to have Ford come on. Then you'll have Chevy come on, and then it'll be, I think, again, it'll be interesting to see how the sales play out.

Well, all the Ford buyers get their electric trucks. Then Chevy will come in and their Chevy buyers will get it. Or, obviously, the idea here is to get new buyers involved, you know, into these things, and, you know, that generally comes with just increased adoption of electric vehicle technology. So we'll see.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: And it's also interesting with how late Silverados are going to be coming out, that Ram really won't be that far behind because they're targeting--

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: --2024 for their electric Ram models to come out.

GREG MIGLIORE: That's a great point. That's a great point. Chicago Auto Show is one of my favorite shows because I like the pizza. I will do a quick informal ranking here of all the pizzas. The Chicago show is really the podcast we do this on. I like Detroit pizza. Got to put that first. I just-- I have to. I generally put Chicago's second. I like that thick cheesy-- It's like a casserole some people from New York probably would say.

I go with New Haven as my number third. It's kind of an East Coast style. It's like a riff on New York. I spent some time in New Haven a couple of Summers ago and just really liked it. It's great with like an IPA or something and a salad. I'll put New York a very competitive fourth. I like it. I just think it's very ubiquitous, and I like all kinds of pizza you know. Homemade pizza, freezer pizza, I think it's all good, but just Chicago Auto Show, that's my informal rankings. Where do you-- What are your top two or three, Joel?

JOEL STOCKSDALE: I think pretty similar. I think Detroit just narrowly edges out Chicago for me. And for Chicago pizza, I have a fondness for the stuffed deep dish that Giordano's does. But I was surprised a number of years ago when my dad and I have visited Detroit once for the Auto Show. We stopped by a place called PizzaPapalis that does Giordano style stuffed deep dish, and I was extremely impressed with their stuff, and I still get their pizza now and then when I'm looking for a Chicago fix.

But yeah, so Chicago is kind of a close second for me. New York is kind of a distant third for me.

GREG MIGLIORE: I just like-- a thin crust pizza to me is like not necessarily what I'm looking to do. It can be tasty. It is tasty for sure, but it's just-- it's not quite-- when I want a pizza, I like the cheese. I like the crust. I like all of that. So and I would agree with you. PizzaPapalis is very good. I-- maybe every couple of weeks, maybe once a month, I will take a drive up to-- there's only one or two in this exact area. But I make it my business to head out there, especially if I have a nice press car you know. It's a good reason to take it and you can put it right back in the oven and away you go.

And since we're plugging pizza, we might as well plug what we're wearing. I'm wearing an Autoblog long sleeve t-shirt. It's quite comfortable. You're wearing an Autoblog hat. Now, you might be wondering where can I get that stuff? It's Redbubble. They're a site that sort of is-- they're a t-shirt maker if you will. But if you search for Autoblog on the Redbubble site, you will find us you, will find our gear. It's pretty cool stuff. Great for any of your gift-- gifting needs. And I mean, hey, we work here and we still buy the stuff. So I just had to put out a plug for that, the Autoblog merch store.

Let's move on over to what we've been driving. You spent some time in the Nissan Pathfinder Platinum, right, and I think this was your ride to the Chicago show. Was this is your first time behind the wheel and what did you think of it?

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, this is my first time with the Pathfinder. I had driven its fancier cousin the Infiniti QX60 with-- had to double check that for a minute. And I was really, really impressed. That thing was a rocking road trip vehicle. Really quiet. Really spacious interior. The seats were great. They were-- they were wide, and they were deep, and they had like soft but very supportive cushioning that you could-- it felt-- it was very much easy chair kind of territory. It was very comfortable.

Forward visibility was excellent. Was really well equipped. This one had a heated steering wheel, heated seats, wireless CarPlay, wireless Android Auto, wireless phone charging. And it was just-- it was really good to drive. The engine was very smooth, very, quiet nicely isolated from the cabin. Ride quality was really good, very smooth and steady but just firm enough that it's not like-- that it didn't roll too much and it didn't feel kind of yacht-like.

Steering surprisingly actually has some feedback to it, which was a big and very pleasant surprise for such a large SUV. Yeah, I came away extremely impressed with it and very pleased. And I think I've finally found a kind of three row SUV that rivals kind of our current favorites, the Telluride and the Palisade.

GREG MIGLIORE: That's interesting. I-- I would put in my top maybe 10. I'm not sure I'd give it quite the high praise you would, but I did like it. For me, it was interesting to see that they're really steering into the-- like the rough and tough off road like idea of the Pathfinder, which is a bit of a return to some of its previous generations. Although really, the last few years, it's-- it's definitely been an SUV.

You know, they even say things like four-wheel drive when I think it's really more like all-wheel drive, but so be it. You know, I drove one that even had kind of like an outdoorsy vibe. I think it was a shade of green with really nice brown interior. I don't think it was the Platinum because I did drive it. This was last year in the summer actually.

But you know, it's a little bit of work to drive. Like you said, it has that like confident stance and it handles pretty well for a big SUV, but it also has-- it's a little bit of work to drive is what I would say. I'm OK with that. You know, it's a-- it's a large, you know, SUV. It should be a job. You know, you should be paying attention to it.

So I mean, overall I think it's-- it's definitely competitive, you know, but the segment is also very competitive. So yeah. I mean as a road trip vehicle though, I mean, for sure. I mean, that's a comfy ride right there all the way up to Chicago.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, and I got around like kind of mid to high 20 miles per gallon on the highway and--

GREG MIGLIORE: Respectable.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah. Yeah. I-- I-- I really like it, and mine had that really nice brown leather interior. It looks really good, and like I like that the controls are really straightforward and easy to use. It's got physical buttons and knobs everywhere. The touchscreen infotainment system works pretty well.

I will say, it did feel kind of reluctant to get up and go and like downshifts when you really wanted to get going. But otherwise, like the nine-speed automatic transmission that they put in is such a giant improvement over the old CVT that they had been using. The-- it's-- it's just a lot smoother and more comfortable.

The CVT was-- it had all of those kind of bad classic CVT attributes. Just kind of buzzy and never really settled down and never quite felt as connected as you'd like it to. So--

GREG MIGLIORE: I think that was a smart move on their part to really move over to that because I mean CVTs are sort of like the best of the best at being like a vanilla cookie or something you know. It's-- it is what it is.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, and like they got an extra 1,000 pounds of towing capacity out of it too when those went to the automatic.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, definitely some practical gains there, which you know, again, I mean in a segment like this where there's a lot of different things you can buy to travel either in comfort, in style, for practical purposes like towing your boat or whatnot, you know, you need to have something that gives you that key differentiating sort of mission.

And you know definitely if like you're looking for kind of a rough and tough SUV, I mean the Pathfinder is-- is something you're going to want to look at because it is-- I think it's a much better product than it was before. Like the old Pathfinder was like prehistoric. And Nissan would tell you that. They-- they kind of let that one live for a long time, and then this is-- you know-- this is, you know, their new generation.

And it definitely has been pretty well received. It made it onto the-- into consideration for North American SUV of the year. It was at the-- you know-- the large event they host last fall. You know, so I got to drive it there again as well. So it definitely has-- you know-- received-- you know-- a pretty good recognition I'd say-- you know-- from the industry.

And I would expect it'll sell pretty well too. I mean this is-- this is what the people want you know. Tow your boat, go camping, go to the mall, put your kids, put your dog, drive it yourself. This is America. You know, that's-- it really does kind of tick all the boxes so-- Yeah. Yeah, any other thoughts on the Pathfinder Platinum?

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Well, not especially. I think the Pathfinder Platinum, it's-- it's up in like a high $40,000 range and so it's-- it's right at the point where you may want to start thinking about possibly getting the Infiniti version because it starts right around at kind of the same area.

But you know, it also kind of depends on what you want as far as styling and as far as feature set, since the Pathfinder Platinum is pretty much fully loaded and the Infiniti probably not quite as well-equipped. And the Infiniti is a much more kind of curvy, more road going like Lincoln luxury style kind of SUV. Whereas the Pathfinder looks a little bit more rugged.

GREG MIGLIORE: Speaking of Infiniti, we both have spent some time in the QX55. You actually did our first drive, looks like last year, and I'm in it right now. So it's kind of a reverse here where we can kind of flip between frames of reference. But that's a good thing too. Sometimes you want to drive something and then let it marinate, see what somebody else thinks.

I do think the Infiniti name game is still very confusing to me. We could do half a show on that. We won't, but the fact that like the QX60 is something vastly different from the QX55 is you know-- I mean, I don't know. It feels like you're really peeling that onion back kind of thinly, let's put it that way.

But mine-- mine I think it comes in about $54,000 give or take. It's got the two liter four cylinder. 268 horsepower, 280 pound feet of torque. It's got our friend the CVT on it and all-wheel drive. It's a stylish play for sure. I-- you know, mine's kind of a shade of dark-- very dark blue with some like not chrome but bright work, if you will, accents. Nice big wheels.

Looks good. I mean I enjoy taking it into the preschool lot where it's definitely a sea of minivans and SUVs. This kind of coupe crossover thing. Yeah, it's got a-- you know, a little bit of an attitude, if you will. And honestly, I think Infiniti styling has been good for 10 years plus. I think they've been doing a great job with carving out an identity for, you know, themselves and then, you know, trying to get sales and bring in new customers.

You know, it drives fine. I wouldn't say there's anything really remarkable-- remarkable about it. The steering is just OK, but I can't really get a great feel for it just yet because there's still so much snow on the ground around here that even when the roads are like plowed, air quote, you're still kind of like correcting and fishtailing no matter what you do frankly. But I do like the feel and the response of it, so there's that.

It did just arrive a couple of days ago. So I may talk about this again next week as I get more, you know, more seat time. I think I might take it on a long road trip, so, you know, we'll see how that goes. The downside is it's actually not the roomiest crossover, let's put it that way. You know, it's-- as far as family applications, it's a little tight, so there's that. But obviously, you know that going into it if you're-- you know, that's one of your purchase considerations.

But just to kind of flashback, from the first drive review perspective, you know you got to look at this just as this-- this new thing. And I mean, how do you feel that take holds up? I mean, how are you feeling about the QX55 at this point?

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah. I mean, I don't think I've really changed my opinion on it. It's-- I think it's a really, really good looking SUV. I think as far as coupified crossovers go, I think it's one of the better looking ones. The-- the curvy looks just-- they work really well on that Infiniti. And I think the interior looks really nice too. Infiniti has used like really good materials, and it's this very flowing organic shape to the interior. It's-- it's--

I like-- I like it quite a bit, especially the kind of higher trims. The one that I had, I think it was like kind of a pearly dolphin gray kind of color on the outside with a red black interior. It's pretty spiffy, and for the segment, it's a pretty roomy SUV, both it and the conventionally shaped QX50 which has the actual like normal hatchback.

But I'm not a big fan of the way it drives. It-- the-- the-- the four-cylinder that's in it is a little bit rough and having the CVT with it does it no favors. It's-- because it always has to keep it wound out if you're trying to go anywhere and so you've got this kind of rough four-cylinder just buzzing away at you.

And it's also really bizarre because now the Nissan Rogue gets a three-cylinder version of that engine, and for some reason it seems smoother in the road, despite being a three-cylinder. So I'm not really sure what happened with the-- I guess it was Nissan's first variable compression engine, so maybe that has a little bit to do with it. I don't know.

But it's-- it's not a powertrain that does it any favors and the fact that it's not great handling wise. The steering is really long and kind of light and the-- it's got a decent bit of body roll. Like it feel-- it feels like it was definitely tuned for softness which is fine, but I've-- I've driven enough cars that do good ride quality and good handling at the same time that it's a little bit disappointing. And the thing is-- is that in this size segment, you have alternatives from like Audi, BMW, and Mercedes that do both things very well.

So it's a very pretty car with a very nice interior. It doesn't drive great. So I'm a little bit split. One of the positives though is that the Infiniti is a bit of a bargain compared with other alternatives in the segment. It's-- it-- you'll save a-- you'll save a couple grand buying the Infiniti over the others. So like if you just want something that looks nice and has a decent amount of space with a good interior, it's really not a bad way to go. But you're looking for any kind of driving engagement, I'd just steer clear.

GREG MIGLIORE: I noticed the-- like the-- and that engine is pretty good. The variable compression engine is. I mean, we even tested it a couple of years ago for our tech of the year. Gave it some consideration. It's really an interesting power plant, it really is. I think the power is actually pretty good, but it was kind of struggling to work with that, the CVT that's in it. And again, when I mentioned like the roads, it just-- there was a little bit going on there where it was like hunting kind of for how it wanted to like, you know, calibrate, you know, the power.

And I would agree with you. I didn't love that even though I can see how I-- the parts of the engine that are good, I can sort of see that kind of shining through as well, despite the CVT. You know, I'll say this. I think it was a little bit of perhaps a missed opportunity because 10 years ago Infiniti did a great job of having great looking cars, really good power plants, and the cars were actually pretty good to handle and drive.

You know, they would win some comparison tests against BMW, Mercedes, Audi back then and it would always be like, you know, in the buff books. It would be like, oh, this Infiniti takes down the 3 Series or something, you know, or gets really close but doesn't win. And I mean, we all know how those kind of tests can shake out, but still very, very competitive.

That being said, I'll give the caveat here it's a crossover. The fact that it's not amazing to drive, I'm actually OK with. That's an area I'm willing to, I think, make some compromises on. Not for my personal fleet, but you know, your average, you know, crossover buyer is going to compare this against the GLC coupe or the Audi Q5. And maybe if you lean a little more enthusiast, you go down one of those roads.

If you're just that thing looks great inside and out and it has how much space, well, maybe go with the Infiniti. And it's like wait, it starts at like 47, 48 and the Germans are up more into the 50s. With even a couple of options they get even more expensive. Like I can definitely see. I mean, people buy cars for the style. They buy cars for the room, the roominess. I mean, I can definitely see that, how it's-- it's-- a mainstream car, if you will.

So I think that-- you know-- I think they're-- they're being mindful of the audience. I think that also is where you can make some compromises with the CVT because most enthusiasts are going to say CVT, keep on walking. You know, your average consumer might say, well, what's that? Oh, it's just the transmission. I-- well, I don't care about that. Sure, all right.

And, you know, that's where I think-- you know, I think they're doing a good job. You know, I-- from looking at all the different, you know, parts of the equation, the recipe that go into making a good crossover, I-- I think there's a couple areas where this falls short again, like the ride character and again some of the powertrain dynamics. But overall, I think it's definitely like a win, if you will, for Infiniti and it could be the right crossover for the right consumer. So we'll see.

I mean, but then when I do look at the competitive set, which if you're listening to this, you should check out Joel's article from-- wow, this was in March. I can't believe it's already a year later from March. You do a nice job of laying out the Q5 Sportback, the X4. I forgot about that. There's a lot of different things in this segment, plus a variety of other things, whether they're from a luxury brand or from a premium brand. Like if you're looking for kind of just a nice crossover and you want to spend $50,000, basically every car company on the face of the Earth will take your money.

So you-- there's a lot of choices out there, and that's where it can be tricky for Infiniti to kind of cut through the clutter too, I think. So--

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, something that-- something that I kind of wish Infiniti would do. They've been-- for better or for worse-- kind of a technology-forward brand. For better, you've got that really neat variable compression engine which, as I noted, the three-cylinder version of it in the road is actually very nice. You can read a-- a first drive review I did of that on Autoblog.

And for worse, there was the steer-by-wire system that was really terrible, just really, really bad. That-- I'm surprised and a little bit confused they haven't launched a full electric model yet, especially when you've got the resources of both Nissan and Renault that have been doing electrics longer than most automakers. I'm surprised that there's not like an Infiniti version of the Aria on the way because I think that would be a great way for them to kind of start-- I don't know if rebuilding their identity is quite the term, but like some of it would make them kind of stand out again.

Yeah, especially because, I mean, they've got-- they've got the engineering know-how in that company, that I think they could do it pretty easily and probably do it pretty well. And if you couple Infiniti's styling with an electric car, I think you could have a pretty-- I think you could have a real stunner.

GREG MIGLIORE: I think that makes a lot of sense. That's where you see a lot of like Tesla and some of the other, you know, like primary electrified automakers, if you will, where their mission is all electric transportation, like Fisker past and present. They do lean really into the design, and I think it can go science experiment or it can just go beautiful. And I think that could definitely be a play. I quite agree with you. I-- yeah, it could be an area where Infiniti could-- you know, because the cars already are head turners, but then if you say, hey, like look at this and it's electric. Well, hey now, what do you have here? So--

Side note, I actually drove the steering-by-wire at a racetrack, and I want to say Tennessee with Sebastian Vettel back in the fall of '13, and it was funny. He was actually a really cool dude to like drive around with, and, you know, you would ask him what mode he wanted to put it in. He'd be like, yeah, I'm going to put it in comfort. You're like, comfort? And he's like, well, yeah, I'm not a maniac. I just want to drive the car, and he's like you guys keep wanting me to put it in like sport or sport plus or whatever.

And he was a spokesman for sort of Infiniti as part of the Red Bull partnership at the time. It was a cool press trip. We ended up going down to the US Grand Prix in Austin, so drank a lot of Red Bull and other things that weekend. So it was pretty fun.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, that was a weird time for Infiniti because that's when they became like one of the title sponsors for the Red Bull team and had Vettel as like their special like spokesperson and like supposedly like helping with some driving dynamic stuff.

And I think this was also kind of about the time that either they had moved or were going to move the Infiniti headquarters to Hong Kong for reasons. But I still don't-- I've never understood that.

JOEL STOCKSDALE: That's when Johan de Nysschen was running Infiniti at that point, and that was kind of his move. We were joking in the industry as he takes over the company and moves the headquarters. That's what I think he did with Cadillac. All the--

JOEL STOCKSDALE: Yeah, because now Cadillac's in New York and then Cadillac is back in Warren. They're like three miles from my house.

GREG MIGLIORE: To be fair, I think the Cadillac move was like in the works before he took over. He kind of made a point of saying, well, hey, this wasn't exactly my idea but-- you know, so it goes.

Cool. Well, those are the cars we've been driving. Let's shift gears. We're going to catch up with McKeel Hagerty. He's the CEO of Hagerty. A lot going on with them. It has become way more than just insurance. They do all sorts of things right now. If you're an enthusiast, you probably use one of the many different things they do. Maybe you get their magazine.

How's it going, McKeel? How is everything?

MCKEEL HAGERTY: Oh, great, thank you. Great to be here. Thanks for having me.

GREG MIGLIORE: Thanks for joining us. Thanks for joining us. Lots of things going on in the car world, the world in general, and of course, the collector space. You know, you guys are really, I think, at the forefront of many of the things, the changes we're seeing in the enthusiast landscape.

First of all, let's kind of start off with just some general trends. What are you seeing right now as the enthusiast landscape takes shape in 2022?

MCKEEL HAGERTY: Well, the car world enthusiast landscape is-- is really red hot, and it's red hot driven by a number of things. You know, we're seeing it in sales. We're seeing in evaluations. We're seeing it in-- in all sorts of energy around the media space. So it's-- it's growing from a transactional standpoint. Values are going up and it's getting younger. At least the owners are getting younger and the cars are getting newer. So those are the highlights and it's-- it's painting a pretty good picture if you're into the car world.

GREG MIGLIORE: I think it's interesting when you look at, you know, values and interest by decades. Growing up, coming up in like the '80s and '90s, you know, it seemed like you would always hark back right to the '50s just because frankly, that's how all of like culture was at that point. And now what you're seeing maybe as-- as you get a little bit older, some gray hair and such, you know, suddenly the '70s and '80s are quite far away.

You know, these are-- it's-- it's different. It's a new generation of collector, and you're seeing people who do have some income looking to spend money on those cars, perhaps as opposed to, you know, the Duesenbergs or things like that. So what are you seeing, I guess? Is that-- as like people-- people get older and they age and, you know, the preferences and tastes do sort of evolve.

MCKEEL HAGERTY: Yeah. I think there's always been this kind of golden ageism, if you will, in the car world where people just sort of picked an era and said that's the best era. That was the era. That's the only collectible era. That's the only era of cars that are going to be highly sought after by people with-- with means.

And you're right. Like when I first got into this world, it was the '90s when I started taking over this little family business in Northern Michigan. And certainly, that was an era when it was an older generation very interested in '50s cars. It wasn't that pre-war cars weren't important, but '50s cars were the hot thing and that's how you'd see at car shows and at auctions.

And then it wasn't that long after, about a decade after that, when it was the muscle cars. You know, muscle cars really took off, exploded in a positive sense, right. The market exploded, and we saw that huge run up to the-- to the middle sort of 2000s, and now we've moved beyond it. Like you said, it's-- it's-- it's cars that are newer.

Cars in the '70s were considered to be before kind of lower quality. It was the beginning of environmental regulations and other regulations sort of suppressing maybe the quality performance of cars, even though there were some notable standouts. But when you got up into '80s cars where high performance cars and other cool cars were more mass produced and really produced in much greater numbers to that as I look at now.

And people say, what do you think about the car world today? And I said, if there's a golden age ever, it's right now. You know, some of these storied brands are building thousands of cars per year where they used to build hundreds. It's an exciting time to be in the car world, and by eliminating that golden ageism, you realize just how big this car market is and how vibrant it is.

GREG MIGLIORE: Now, you talk about how your family company has grown since, you know, you really joined it in the '90s. And boy, the '90s are starting to seem like they were a little farther away now too. It's really been quite a road for you guys, you know, culminating with, you know, a stock listing last year. Tell me what that was like, to experience that growth, to lead that growth. And what does that stock listing enable you guys to do going forward?

MCKEEL HAGERTY: Oh, thank you. It was-- last year was an extraordinary year getting ready to go public as a company. We were a closely held family business from its inception back in the 1980s, and, you know, it's fun to work as a-- as a smaller business and watch it grow and to hit that first milestone, and maybe 100 employees and then 200 and then 500 or 1000 and beyond, and, you know, grow into other countries besides the United States.

And all of that was really fun to do, and it's-- you know, it's just that, the pleasure of a job well done in and of itself, growing not just a company but a brand. Because we're-- we're really proud of the way we built our brand in the automotive space and expanding beyond insurance.

But when you really think about the long term of where we were trying to go when we started realizing this is a much bigger world, it's international, it's global in nature, there are lots of other opportunities for a company like ours to take advantage of, ultimately it's like, well, how do you take that next leap in scale? And there are lots of ways to do it. As a-- you know, as a CEO, as a company, you can take on debt, you can bring in investors. You know, our approach of going public was-- I felt really threaded a lot of needles, which is to allow, you know, the founding owners to remain in as founding owners and, you know, continue to have high influence over the company.

But also to invite team members and be able to recruit new people and to use, you know, a new form of currency in the form of stock to be able to attract high level talent. And also to just get-- you know-- get after some of the big dreams and projects that we had going forward.

So you know, we went officially public. I think it was-- first listing day was actually December 3 2021, and we rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange on December 6. And already this year we started, you know, making some announcements about some new things that we're doing, like, you know, moving into a-- a pretty heavy investment in the marketplace space with an investment in the Broad Arrow Group, a newly formed marketplace company. So you can kind of see some of the things that we've been thinking about and going public is helping make it happen.

GREG MIGLIORE: One of the things that I think is interesting that you guys have really been ramping up in the last year is your involvement with the different concours. You know, the one that really piqued my interest because I've watched it change a lot is the one here in Michigan and Meadowbrook. Then it was out in Plymouth and then looks like next year is going to be down at the Detroit Institute of Arts, which sounds like an amazing, you know, location. It's a great museum.

So I think it's just looking at all of these different events. You know, what is the vision? How do you use these to reach, you know, different, you know, enthusiasts who, you know, maybe didn't-- don't even know what a concours is. They can't even say the word. But, you know, what's the vision there?

MCKEEL HAGERTY: Well, the purpose of our company is to save driving and car culture for future generations. And I know it sounds kind of wonky or maybe, you know, head in the sky, but I'm really serious about it. I mean, I know for you and for, you know, so many of your, you know, readers and listeners that, you know, driving just means a lot to them. Cars are cool, driving, all the experiences around it.

And the reason we talk about not just thinking that we need to be there to help support that activity of driving fun stuff long into the future, but car culture isn't just about this notion of a single person driving their car. Kind of the-- you know-- the man in the arena image of, you know, they're just you working on your car and driving it.

Car people gather. You know, they gather at car events. They gather online. They read media. They compete in Motorsport events, whether on an amateur or, you know, recreational or professional basis. So the car world has always had this social aspect, and we felt that car shows were something that were really an important part of our mission.

And concours-- we kind of started at the high end with a Greenwich concours, the concours of America that we are moving to Detroit. And we're also moving it from the middle of summer to September. And then Amelia Island, which is, you know, really a wonderful, wonderful event that happens next month in March down in front of [INAUDIBLE] Beach, Florida.

And the idea here is by preserving some of these-- you know-- these organizations and really championing the fact that we think all cars are cool but some of them are just jewels, and they need to be celebrated in a really high end way. concours are a great way to do that. You know, we can invest in the events themselves, make them a little bit more modern, evolve the format of the event so that you still highlight the best of the best cars but do it where you welcome more young people in. You know, and use and other things, create more media opportunities, better technology around them, all of that sort of thing.

So the vision is by having kind of a portfolio of events, it allows you to put a little scale into them, create more value for sponsors. I've been a sponsor. Hagerty's been a sponsor literally thousands of car events through the years, and I know what it's like to write those checks when you're-- when you're a sponsor just wanting to get your wares out there, your services out there. And we're going to be able to offer a lot more value to our sponsors by having more than just one event out there.

So, you know, look for more of this in our future, but that's the mission. And you're right, we're so excited about this new change of venue for that concours of America, downtown Detroit. Is there a better-- you know, it's Motor City and it's also-- you know, Motor City wasn't just about an industrial reality, an industrial city. There's always been really high culture between Motown, Detroit Institute of Art, Center for Creative Studies, all of that stuff happening right there. And we're going to be in the center of it and we're super excited.

GREG MIGLIORE: Yeah, that-- to really drill down on that. That-- the concours of America, that's going to be really-- it's right-- it's on Woodward Avenue, which is iconic in its own right. You know, inside the DIA, many of you who probably know about industry, they have a famous mural, Diego Rivera talking about, you know, working, manufacturing, coming of age for the industrial age.

So it sounds pretty exciting. Parking is a little tricky down there. You've got a football and a baseball stadium, but I'm sure you guys will figure that out.

MCKEEL HAGERTY: Well, actually, between CCS and-- and the library, we're going to have great secure parking there. You know, we've heard a lot of people say, oh, I don't know if I want to go down and park. It's going to be great. It's going to be perfect. So we're really excited about that.

GREG MIGLIORE: How do you guys sort of differentiate these different concours so that it's sort of like not just like the same thing but in a different geographic location? How do you guys provide some differentiation? What's your plan on that front?

MCKEEL HAGERTY: Well, car events all have different characters. You know, you-- you think of the-- the great car events that happen around the world. I knew when I was, you know, growing up reading car magazines, and I always wanted to go to Geneva or I wanted to go to the Detroit Auto Show or I wanted to go to New York or LA.

And when I started going to them professionally and going to the concours events like this or racing events, we know they're all a little bit different. Some of it's culturally driven, just the geography of it. Sometimes it's the type of vehicles that they celebrate. You take Amelia Island which is coming up here in March, Amelia island's always kind of been the race car drivers concours where great, great concours high-end cars are celebrated, along with great race cars who are driven by some of the true legends of motorsport.

And that needs to be preserved at Amelia Island, and we're super excited that we're going to have Chip Ganassi as our honoree this year and be celebrating his-- you know, not only his-- his past career but also really looking forward to, you know, his current involvement in motorsport going forward. So that's important.

You think-- when you think Detroit you think Big Three. You think of all the innovation that's happened through the years. You think of that-- you know, the styling, the design, all that stuff that happened right around the Detroit area. And many people who will be the attendees at that event just coming in buying tickets to show up, those are people who work in the industry, and they want to celebrate that stuff and go look at great designs in the past.

So each one has its character. They need to be preserved. But then you have to evolve them and that's where-- you know, I mentioned, I'm-- I'm pretty passionate about getting the next generation involved. So this doesn't mean dumbing down the show. It just makes-- just, we want to make them really family friendly. So we'll have kids' zones and youth judging programs and-- and other things that can bring families together around a car event, rather than no, mom and dad are going to go to the car event and the kids are going to stay at home.

So it's-- it's just super important for me that we make, you know, car events kid friendly, and that we create on-ramps to the car world. So a kids' zone at our events. You know, it's racing simulators. It's-- you know-- it's little design competitions. It's-- it's all sorts of fun activities that kids can do.

When we first did one of these at the Greenwich concours late last year or last year I guess it was, we moved it because of COVID. You know, we had one of the actual Lightning McQueen cars. We just-- you know, we had Jay Ward from, you know, Disney Pixar there to talk to kids about animation and what the car franchise. So those are the things we need to do, celebrate the great stuff, keep the geography and the special character of each event there and keep it special. But then evolve it for the next generation.

GREG MIGLIORE: If you said Lightning McQueen was going to be at a car show, my son would be like, I'd-- I'll be there any second. I'm-- I'm there any second. And me too. I mean, who doesn't like cars, right? It's-- it's fun.

MCKEEL HAGERTY: I don't think-- I think it may be about the only car I took a picture in front of for my daughter. So there you go.

GREG MIGLIORE: I'm curious you talk about onboarding, on-roading the next generation. There's a lot of things that are about to really change the industry, you know, from electrification, which is changing the industry, to autonomous cars. I think the-- the former, I don't necessarily think that impacts enthusiasts in any way. Makes things different but it can make them even better.

Autonomous, that changes things a little bit and that may be where we start to steer into, like infrastructure, transportation, rather than automotive enthusiasm. What's your take on these? I don't know if headwinds is the right way to, you know, spell it out, but I mean, how are you feeling about these-- these changes [INAUDIBLE]?

MCKEEL HAGERTY: I think that's fair. I think it goes-- and I get this question all the time, so I'm glad we're talking about it as you know real car enthusiasts. Like you, I'm not threatened by-- and I'm-- I'm a big fan of the electrification of cars. I think it's a natural evolution, and if you've driven-- and I'm sure you have-- a higher performance version of a modern electric car, they're just outrageously good. , You know the torque is instantaneous. They're fun. And I think they're just going to be a big part of the car world.

Not only are you going to see more in the new car space, I think you're going to see some really thoughtfully done great conversions of vintage cars into EVs that, you know, maintain the integrity of the styling and-- and the coolness of the original car but make them electric.

And you know, my view is if the only way a future collector will drive a certain sort of vintage car, is if it has an EV, if it's thoughtfully done, I'm all for it. So that's great. And by the way, we have a long, long history of repowering our cars through the decades, so anybody who gets kind of too precious about it-- it kind of bugs me.

But I also love internal combustion engine cars, and they're going to be around for decades and decades long past my planning horizon. Even if you look at the most ambitious, you know, changeover to all electric new vehicle sales, we're a long way away, and it'll be decades down the road when internal combustion engine cars and EVs will have to be next to each other.

You're right, autonomous vehicles represents maybe a different kind of headwind, and I think it's as much about congestion in cities as it is about cars or transportation. You mentioned infrastructure, and I think you're right. I think there will be places, you know, long into the future that it might be pretty tough to drive a manually driven car. I think, you know, the center of Manhattan. I did an interview right after our listing in-- in December driving a BMW 2002 in the middle of Manhattan, and I will tell you, it was-- it was a handful trying to drive that car in traffic.

So those are going to come soon enough. But I think, you know, our mission of-- of saving driving is-- is not meant to save the long commute in a city. Our mission of saving driving is to save the pleasure of driving, going out on a windy road, going out to a racetrack or a driving facility, going on a tour of Highway 1 or where we live in Michigan. Like you said, Woodward or M22 in Michigan. Those types of roads that were built for tourism built, for touring, and the best way we believe to see them is with your hands on the wheel driving a cool car.

So we're going to be-- we're going to be advocating for that. Haggerty is going to be here fighting for that, and it's one of the reasons we went public. We-- we-- we don't think this is-- the saving driving a car culture is going to happen on its own. We wanted to really invest for that future long term.

GREG MIGLIORE: So I imagine you have a number of cars that might be in your garage. What's-- what's your go to daily driver? What do you drive on the weekends? You know, how do you-- how do you unwind with, you know, your automotive enthusiasm in a personal sense?

MCKEEL HAGERTY: Well, thanks. Well, I live in northern Michigan, so it's the middle of winter right now. So if you don't have a great SUV, that is-- you are really making it hard on yourself. So my-- my daily driver in the wintertime is I have one of the Range Rover Sport SVRs, the 575 horsepower car. So with a nice set of 22 Nokians on it, it does pretty well in the winter time and it's a lot of fun.

In the summer, I drive a variety of vintage cars largely. I still have my very first car, my '67 Porsche 911S. I bought it when I was 13, and as I-- I kind of tell people, you know, I will-- I will grow old with that car. I may have lots of other cars, but I'll always have that one. And my-- my goal is that's usually the first one I bring out in the spring, kind of the last one I drive before the snow flies every fall.

But I have another-- a number of other cool cars and-- that I've been kind of fortunate to collect. A Shelby GT500. I have E-Type Jaguar, Aston Martin DB4, , and some muscle cars and all sorts of-- I like all sorts of things. I-- my big sort of COVID touring gift for myself was a pre-war Bentley. I was so jealous of all those Bentley people driving around on the 100th anniversary of these pre-war cars that seem to go fast and be reliable, and they look super cool. So I found a really preserved example in the UK, and I enjoyed tooling around with that. And sometimes in a cool old car like that, going 35 miles an hour or 45, 55 is just plenty fast enough.

GREG MIGLIORE: That sounds-- that sounds like a pretty good time. That sounds like a pretty good time. McKeel Hagerty, he's the CEO of Hagerty. Thanks for joining us.

MCKEEL HAGERTY: Thanks for having me.

GREG MIGLIORE: That's all the time we have this week on the Autoblog Podcast. If you enjoy the show, please give us a five star rating on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Android, wherever you get your podcasts. Please send us your Spend My Money. That's podcast@Autoblog.com. Be safe out there and we'll see you next week.

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