A 1953 Chrysler Special by Ghia is headed to Sotheby’s “Driven by Disruption” auction on December 10.
The Chrysler Specials were inspired by a Virgil Exner show car that made its debut at the 1952 Paris Auto Show.
Chrysler contracted with Italian custom bodybuilder Ghia, which did much of the special body work for Chrysler in the 1950s, to build six copies of the show car for sale in Europe; Ghia was allowed to build more cars, and chose to build 12 more. (See The Chrysler Ghia Specials of 1951-1955 by Geoff Mitchell.)
According to historian Raphael Brunet, the car, built midway through the run, is known as the “Swiss Special” because it was produced for Chrysler’s Swiss importers.
In the early 1970s, the car was brought to America by Leonard McGrady, who later sold it to Chrysler collector Paul Stern. He sold it on to Fran Roxas in 1982; after a complete restoration, Roxas sold it to dream-car collector Joe Bortz. It was then in the December 1994 edition of Collectible Automobile magazine and Visioneer, Peter Grist’s book about Virgil Exner. The car was sold to its current owner, who is not named by Sotheby’s, in 2005.
The Specials were built on the New Yorker frame and used the 331 CID (5.4 liter), 180-horsepower Chrysler FirePower Hemi V8. Most of the cars had a PowerFlite two-speed transmission and all had drum brakes.
The Swiss Special is likely to sell for $700,000 to $900,000.
Ram has voluntarily recalled around 18,300 ProMaster vans to repair their ignition contacts, after finding that some may have parts that can lose contact. The supplier appears to be at fault for a problem that can cause intermittent power losses. Power can be restored by turning the vehicle off, then on again.
Ram is unaware of any related injuries or accidents. Instructions will be sent in recall packets.
As part of the #RamGivesThanks contest, Ram Commercial will give one grand prize winner $15,000 towards a two-year lease on a new Ram ProMaster City and up to $5,000 toward upfits for the van (see their site from today to January 4 to nominate a local volunteer). There will be more prizes, listed on the site.
With November sales to be reported next week and December sales still to come, the Detroit Free Pressreported that Jeep reached a million worldwide sales early this month.
The news came from a “Freep” interview with Jeep CEO Mike Manley, who said sales reached 1,013,000 at the end of October and that the tally was official around November 6.
That gives Jeep plenty of time to beat the 2014 record of 1,017,000 sales, just in time for the brand’s 75th anniversary.
Manley said global sales are up 22% this year and FCA is looking to hit 1.2 million deliveries by the end of December.
The new compact SUV that will replace the Compass and Patriot is still on schedule for a late 2016 rollout, as a 2017 model. Manley told the Freep’s Alisa Priddle that no decision has yet been made on the name.
Across brands, neither Chrysler nor Dodge is likely to take the U.S. minivan crown this year; but together, Chrysler and Dodge easily beat any other brand’s sales. This may be why the plan for 2018 is to have just the Chrysler Town & Country out there, perhaps with a low-end Caravan trim (in 2017, we still expect to see a limited run of old Dodge Grand Caravans).
At the moment (through October 31), the Chrysler Town & Country is running three thousand sales behind the Dodge Caravan — 73,302 vs 76,313. Both are well below their 2014 sales: the Chrysler is down 39% and the Dodge, down 33%.
By comparison, the Honda Odyssey, longest-running of the “Mopar imitators,” is at 107,580 for the year, up by over 3,000 from last year; and the Toyota Sienna is at 115,028, up by over 10,000. The Kia Sedona has rocketed from 8,032 sales to date in 2014 to 32,196 so far in 2015.
FCA’s problem is both a long factory closure and harder competition from Toyota, Honda, and Kia. The Mopar minis, last “re-engineered” in 2008, have gotten new engines, trim, and decorations, but have not clearly leapfrogged their competitors, and Stow ’n’ Go is not enough to sway import-loyal buyers.
The majority of Chrysler minivan sales are at retail; most Dodge minvians are reportedly sold to fleets. Chrysler’s prices and trim start roughly where Dodge leaves off, and they are probably much more profitable..
In October, with shortages cleared up, demand for the Dodge was higher than demand for the Town & Country, a troubling sign. Dodge’s sales were up 21%, and Dodge closely beat Chrysler (up just 4%) in October. Chrysler still has a chance to overcome Dodge, if retail buyers return in November and December.
Strategic Vision’s Customer Love Index (CLI) goes beyond satisfaction to stronger emotions that bring greater buyer loyalty. There are 28 categories. The top mark went to the Porsche Macan (629) followed by the Corvette convertible (617). The top pickups were the Colorado (423), Titan (482), and Sierra 2500/3500 (467). The top minivan was the slow-selling Kia Sedona (391), which had the lowest non-“alternative powertrain” score.
The Fiat 500e (408), sold only in California, easily beat the Toyota Prius and Camry hybrids (354 each).
Overall, GM did as well as FCA US, with the Corvette, Corvette convertible, Colorado, Sierra heavy duty, and Yukon XL all winning their categories. Toyota/Lexus had just one win, and Honda and Hyundai each had none; Ford, Mercedes, and Kia each had two.
FCA US has a revised agreement with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation / Economic Growth Authority, which caps the value of the tax credits it can claim. The MEGA credits became controversial when they topped $9 billion, thanks to lavish spending in 2009-10, when credits were given for promises of jobs retained rather than added.
FCA US is required to invest another billion dollars into capital investment over the term of the MEGA tax credit; the company has spent $4 billion in Michigan and added nearly 15,000 new jobs since 2009. A press release noted that FCA would not say how it planned to invest, but observers expect that upgrades and repurposing of the Sterling Heights and Warren Truck plants will account for a good deal of the investment. Most of the company’s engines are also built in Michigan, and those plants are to be retooled and possibly upgraded as well in the next few years.
FCA US has a great deal of time to spend: Larry Vellequette of Automotive News calculated that the extra $1 billion can include investments through 2029.
The U.S. sales race is on between the Jeep Cherokee and the former front-running Jeep Wrangler. While the Wrangler epitomizes much of what Jeep used to be — its go-anywhere capability, nearly-all-American design and engineering, and the style-and-form ties to the original Army jeeps — the Cherokee is more practical for most people, more technologically advanced, and newer.
So far, the people have chosen the Cherokee, helped by constraints on the Wrangler’s production. Those constraints will not ease for at least a year, as the Cherokee is moved to a new plant (likely Sterling Heights or Belvidere) and the Wrangler moves into its spot.
The Wrangler has not had a full redesign for some years, and is missing some of the creature comforts of the Cherokee — some of which it can’t have anyway, since its removable roof and off-road chops reduce its comfort-and-convenience options. It is making do with a five-speed automatic, shared now only with the police edition of the Dodge Charger, while the Cherokee has a nine-speed which we’ve been assured will be completely sorted out for the 2016 model year.
So far, the Cherokee’s sales have been 178,785 from January 1 to October 31, 2015, well over the Wrangler’s 173,264. However, there’s time for the Wrangler to catch up as winter weather hits, though now it seems unlikely.
Last year, the Wrangler, at this time, was also second fiddle — to the Jeep Grand Cherokee, losing the race for #1 by around 3,400 sales. Cherokee sales are up 24% this year, Wrangler sales are up 17%, and Grand Cherokee is up just 4%. (Patriot is up by 29% but hasn’t broken 100,000 yet.) Part of the problem there, too, is capacity. Adding the Grand Cherokee to its factory-mate the Dodge Durango brings sales of 208,681. Cherokee and Wrangler each have their own factories.
The other Jeep race is between the new Jeep Renegade and the Jeep Compass. The Compass’ sales are up just 1%, year to date, at 52,987, while Renegade is brand new and has already cleared 44,626 sales. If Compass’ sales drop and Renegade supplies increase, the Italian-made newcomer could well beat the decade-old, heavily refreshed mini-Jeep.
The British Drag Racing Hall of Fame has honored the Mopar and Hemi drag racing legacy, giving Mopar the their Global Achievement Award. The head of Mopar, Pietro Gorlier, took the award during a ceremony in England; he paid tribute to the late Tom Hoover.
Stu Bradbury, chair of the British group, wrote, “More than an engine, the Hemi is an icon, one brought originally to the drag strip by Mopar and then adopted for the streets. We are proud to recognize the legendary motor that still fuels drag racers and performance lovers around the world.”
“Big Daddy” Don Garlits’ daughter, Donna Garlits, was one of the presenters of the award. Mr. Garlits broke many speed barriers in Hemi-powered vehicles from the original 1950s engines to the “second generation” 426 cubic inch racing engine.
The crystal trophy is inscribed with “In Memory of Pat Garlits” on the base, engraved each time the award is presented. Don Garlits’ wife, Pat Garlits, passed away early in 2014; Don Garlits was the first person to receive the award.
Automotive News’ Larry Vellequette researched fcagroupcareers.com and found listings for computer hackers who can find problems and suggestion repairs to security in their software. This follows the 2014 hack of a Jeep Cherokee, resulting in its remote control, due to a breach of the car’s cellular connection. That vulnerability was fixed before the article was published, and took two professionals a good deal of time to discover, but the life-threatening nature of the outcome has apparently had an effect on Fiat Chrysler.
The company already has a cybersecurity incident response team (CIRT) to make sure that problems are resolved quickly. One job on this team has been open since the end of September, and includes running security assessments and finding competency gaps within the CIRT itself. Automotive News story.
With Scott Kunselman retiring, FCA US needed a new head of vehicle safety and regulatory compliance; and, as of December 1, it will be Michael Dahl, former director of engine programs and global powertrain coordination. He oversaw the development of six new engines, including the VM diesel; before that, he was director of supplier quality. His appointment may show how serious FCA is about stopping the flow of recalls.
Mr. Dahl started out with the Chrysler Institute of Engineering in 1985, and rose through the ranks from there. He has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Michigan, and a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from Oakland University.
Green Car Journal named the Ram ProMaster City its 2016 Commercial Green Car of the Year at the San Antonio Auto & Truck Show in San Antonio, Texas.
Green Car Journal editors evaluate all potential candidates for the award, considering environmental factors as well as functionality, versatility, safety, value and style. The ProMaster City was selected from a number of finalists by a jury of automotive experts and Green Car Journal staff members; it was up against the Nissan NV200 and its clone, the Chevy City Express, the Ford Transit Connect, and the Mercedes-Benz Metris.
This is the second consecutive green vehicle award for Ram. Last year, the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel was named Green Truck of the Year.
Speculation/analysis. Last week, Allpar was the first to show one of the Hurricane prototype engines. It is a turbocharged two-liter, according to various reports; scuttlebutt had the goal at 300 horsepower or so for an SRT version, and the mid-200s for a standard model.
Alfa Romeo recently announced its two-liter four would hit 276 horsepower, but other than taking full credit for its development, said nothing about its origins. If it were based on the 1.75 liter engine they already have, we would expect them to say it, so we suspect they are using some version of the Hurricane.
Normally, it would seem that the Hurricane was an updated, turbocharged version of the current “World Engine,” but Bob Lees’ 2014 presentation included an image of a future four-cylinder engine family, to be made in two sizes, for the entire company: Fiat, Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, and Alfa Romeo (Maserati seems unlikely to use it).
Some of these technologies are being explored by Chrysler, such as the belt-starter alternator, stop-start system, cooled EGR, integrated manifold, and variable-displacement oil pump. MultiAir is from Fiat, and direct injection probably draws on Fiat’s expertise as well. The Alfa Romeo engine uses MultiAir and direct injection.
It’s possible that this will be the first appearance of the new engine family, which would, among other things, explain why the Alfa Romeo Giulia is taking so long to arrive.
It’s also possible that they are building on the existing Chrysler 2-liter engine and past work on trying to make a Dart SRT4. Alfa Romeo would have to do their own tuning and engineering, partly because the SRT engine would be built to a lower cost budget, partly because they have different goals.
Regardless, for marketing reasons, expect any new engine to show up as an Alfa Romeo first — because no premium car owner wants a mass-market engine under the hood. Since mass-market car buyers don’t mind high-end engines, even if Auburn Hills had done all the work on the new engine series (which they almost certainly have not), it would still be credited to Alfa Romeo.
Ram trucks will tow all the floats in the 89th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade® in New York City, as the official truck of the parade.
Around 3.5 million spectators and over 50 million television viewers see the Macy’s Parade each year; it is broadcast live on NBC starting at 9 a.m. EST.
Ram will provide around 70 trucks and commercial vans, many of which are used for behind-the-scenes functions, with around 25 used to tow floats
The 89th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will have more than 40 different types of balloons, 27 floats, 1,100 cheerleaders and dancers, 12 marching bands; and celebrity performers. The floats are often two to three stories tall and range from 22 to 50 feet long, weighing from 4 to 8 tons.
The Chrysler Hurricane engine remains under development with no release date known, but an engine of the same size, pushing out 276 horsepower, is to be used in the Alfa Romeo Giulia when it appears midyear in 2016.
Whether the two engines are unrelated remains unknown, but given financial constraints, it seems unlikely that they would not be. The Hurricane’s goal was reportedly 300 horsepower in SRT form.
The Hurricane engine, pictured here for the first time we know of, is reportedly related to the current “World Engine” with many changes. An SRT version of this engine reached 285 horsepower some time ago in the Dodge Caliber SRT4. The Alfa Romeo may be using a new version of the division’s own four-cylinder.
Fiat Chrysler is still reportedly working on completely new four-cylinder engines for use throughout the entire corporation, which will likely replace both the Alfa Romeo and Chrysler four-cylinders.
The 2015 ALG residual value awards for passenger cars, based on maintaining their value over time, were dominated by imports, particularly Subaru (three cars out of eleven). However, a single American car topped its class — the Dodge Charger, winning the full-sized car category for the second year in a row.
In the utility vehicle category, every winner was an import, with Subaru garnering two more awards, and Land Rover, despite poor quality ratings, garnering three. Toyota/Lexus also won three places and Honda, two. There are ten classes for utilities. For pickups, there are two classes, both won by Toyota. The van classes were won by Honda (minivans) and Mercedes (two commercial vans.)