Tag: Hagerty

12 Detroit luxury cars that died on the show floor – Ronnie Schreiber @Hagerty

12 Detroit luxury cars that died on the show floor – Ronnie Schreiber @Hagerty

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For what seems like decades, American car enthusiasts have clamored for domestic automakers to make a serious effort to compete in the luxury-car segment. Brands such as Cadillac, Lincoln, and Imperial pretty much invented the full-size luxury sedan, but those U.S. brands have long since yielded to the German and Japanese. It has, in fact, been decades since Toyota upset the automotive apple cart with the Lexus LS400 in 1990.

Finally, Cadillac has accepted the challenge—and raised its sights even higher. Revealed in concept form last week, the $300,000 Celestiq leapfrogs the Lexus LSMercedes-Benz S-Class, and BMW 7 Series to challenge Rolls-Royce and Bentley. Caddy’s battery-powered flagship will be handbuilt to customer specification at GM’s Tech Center in Warren, Michigan.

Of course, Detroit has tried to step into the ring multiple times since the LS400. In the past twenty years, the Big Three debuted a number of promising luxury concepts that positive reactions from consumers, dealers, and the automotive press. If not ready for immediate production, most looked quite feasible—that is, if C-suite executives had the guts. On second thought, perhaps that’s unfair to the people running the domestic automakers. As attractive as these cars were to enthusiasts, by the time some of them would have come to market, the business case had evaporated.

We’ll never know whether these high-class studies would have succeeded, but we can wonder, can’t we? Here are 12 concept luxury cars introduced by the American automakers that never made it off the display stand. While a couple of them might be better described as supercars, I think it’s safe to say that anything with a projected retail price in the six figures is a luxury item.

2001 Lincoln MK9

The Lincoln MK9 was introduced at the New York Auto Show in 2001, at a time when Lincoln decided to imitate European luxury automakers’ penchant for alphanumeric designations, as opposed to model names. The problem was that Lincoln chose a combination of letters and numbers that evoked some giants in its history: the Continental Mark series, starting with the landmark Mark II in 1956, through the then-recently retired Mark VIII, last sold in 1998. One would think that the MK9 would at least be pronounced “Mark Nine,” thus positioning the two-door as a descendant of the Mark III personal luxury coupe—but no. Lincoln brand managers insisted the ongoing pronunciation of MK branded vehicles would be “Em Kay.”  Were they embarrassed by the big land barges of the 1970s and ’80s?

The MK9 rode on a stretched version Ford’s DEW98 platform, which was also the basis of the Lincoln LS, 2003 Ford Thunderbird, and the Jaguar S Type. The traditional, rear-wheel-drive platform had independent rear suspension with coil springs at all four corners. The exterior styling, by Gerry McGovern, who later headed Land Rover’s design department, features a long hood fronted by Lincoln’s waterfall grille (then a defining characteristic) with a big star in the middle. In general, the MK9 tried to reimagine the classic ’61 Continental and its long, bladed fenders and belt line for the 21st century. A chrome trim line running most of the length of the car gave it a retro touch, complemented by supposedly functional vents behind the front wheels, flush aluminum door handles, and 22-inch ten-spoke alloys.

The MK9’s interior was trimmed in chocolate brown, with lipstick red leather and brushed aluminum. An aluminum console cascaded down the dashboard, flowing the length of the passenger cabin. In the early 2000s, lacquered wood finishes were quite popular with luxury automakers. The MK9 sports dark cherry wood floors and a white leather headliner with fiber optics that lit up like a starry nighttime sky. The seats were modeled after the famous Eames Lounge Chair, designed by the influential husband and wife team of Charles and Ray Eames. The Eames met while attending the Cranbrook Academy of Art in suburban Detroit, taught there, and their work has been popular with the Detroit design community. Just as the Eames chair comes with a matching ottoman, the MK9’s red-upholstered front passenger seat boasts a foot rest trimmed in leather and aluminum

Since it was based on a production vehicle, the MK9 was fully functional. When Ford conducted one of its periodic auctions of concept vehicles to raise money for charity in 2010, the MK9 sold for an impressive $101,750.

2004 Lincoln Mark X

By 2004, Lincoln had reverted to traditional names, and the Roman numeric Mark X (pronounced “Mark 10”) debuted at the 2004 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. It was a convertible take on themes introduced with the Em Kay Nine.

Also based on the Thunderbird, the Mark X swapped the T-bird’s soft top and removeable hard top with a folding metal roof with a panoramic glass insert. The Mark X’s interior was, per Ford’s press release: “dressed in Lime Sorbet with white Corian accents, polished aluminum, dark chrome, natural grain leather seating surfaces, plush sheepskin flooring and tailored tone-on-tone stitching throughout. Its four-spoke, power-adjustable steering wheel also is leather wrapped.”

Lincoln chief of design Marek Reichman was responsible for the exterior design, which did riff on some of the MK9’s themes. The waterfall grille, however, was replaced with Lincoln’s new egg-crate affair, a throwback feature from the 1960s. The Mark X was shorter than the MK9 by more than a foot, and had slightly smaller, 21-inch chromed aluminum wheels. A functional vehicle but, like most modern concepts, not street-legal, the Mark X was powered by a 280-hp 3.9-liter DOHC V-8 paired with a five-speed automatic transmission.

While it was close to production-ready, the Mark X was born into the wrong time: Sales of the Thunderbird were waning, and Lincoln decided that the market was then ripe for a traditional, personal-luxury car.

Speaking of brandnomenclature, the Mark X was not the first time that name was used for a Lincoln concept, at least phonetically. In 1992, Lincoln showed the “Marque X” concept, a convertible based on the then-new Mark VIII.

The Mark X was sold by Ford at the same 2010 auction as the MK9 and, in a remarkable coincidence, it fetched the same $101,750 price. Four years later, it changed hands for $129,250.

2002 Lincoln Continental Concept

The end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st saw a wave of nostalgia sweep across the auto industry. Retro( more properly, “retrofuturism” was in), and modern cars adopted a vintage look. There was VW’s New Beetle, Chrysler’s PT Cruiser, and Ford’s reissue of the Thunderbird. The Lincoln Continental Concept introduced at the 2002 Los Angeles Auto Show fit nicely into that ethos, expressing the look of the classic 1961 Continental for a modern audience. Perhaps the most eye-catching homage was the suicide doors, which opened a full 90 degrees. One thing the ’61 Conti didn’t have but the ’02 concept did was a powered trunk lid that opened vertically on a parallelogram linkage. Beneath it, a bumper-level draw slid out to reveal a bespoke set of Zero Halliburton luggage.

The interior featured indirect fiber-optic lighting for the headliner and door panels along with the use of LEDs, features that have since proliferated throughout the automotive world

Apparently two versions of the ’02 Continental concept were made, a display-only “pushmobile” used at some car show and a fully functional vehicle powered by a 414-hp V-12 engine (created by mating two Duratec V-6s, a trick that showed up on other FoMoCo concepts of the era), with a six-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel disc brakes, multilink suspension front and rear, and 22-inch aluminum wheels. The static display car sold for $15,400 in 2010 and again in 2014 for $27,500. The functional concept sold for $56,100 at that same 2010 sale.

Responses from the public and press were almost uniformly positive, but it would be more than 10 years before Lincoln introduced a new Continental. Thankfully, when it did offer the new Conti, it was available in a coach (or “suicide”) door edition.

2007 Lincoln MKR

Revealed at the 2007 NAIAS in Detroit, the MKR, designed by a team led by Peter Horbury, was introduced at a time when the Mercedes-Benz CLS and other swoopy “four door coupes” were becoming popular. Powered by a twin-turbo, direct-injection 3.5 liter V-6 with 415 hp that introduced Ford and Lincoln’s TwinForce engine branding, the MKR was supposed to presage Lincoln’s new styling theme, billed as “elegant simplicity.”

Exterior design, headed by Gordon Platto, featured a high beltline with a chamfered surface that ran the length of the car, a cantilevered roof that transitioned to a wide C pillar, full-width horizontal taillights, upward swinging doors, and 10-spoke, chromed 21-inch wheels. The most dramatic exterior styling cues were yet another new grille—the split “bow wave,” said to be based on that of the classic 1940 Lincoln Continental Cabriolet—and an expansive glass roof that integrated a structural Lincoln star. The tread of the MKR’s custom Michelin tires also bears the Lincoln star.

It’s possible that Platto’s team settled on a glass roof to show off the impressive interior, promoted as “guilt-free” luxury, filled with premium amenities that were environmentally friendly. The instrument panel is made from a piece of recycled black oak that extends from left to right, flowing down into a two-level center console. Ice-blue ambient lighting illuminated the interior, which feature self-standing “floating” seats made with soy-based foam, glossy exterior shells, and upholstered with cashmere leather tanned in an environmentally conscious chromium-free process.

2003 Mercury Messenger

While it wasn’t branded as a Lincoln, I’m including the Mercury Messenger concept because a grand touring sports coupe could have been part of Lincoln’s portfolio. (Also because I think it’s a very handsome automobile and deserves attention.) “In my opinion, it’s as good looking as any Ferrari,” concept vehicle collector Joe Bortz, who owns the Messenger, says. “This car could’ve saved Mercury.”

The Messenger was supposed to send the message that moribund Mercury was about to undergo a rejuvenation. Unfortunately, the brand would die just seven years later

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12 parts you wish were still available for your car – Sajeev Mehta @Hagerty

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Odds are, every Hagerty reader either owns an older car or dreams of owning a vehicle that has clearly survived past the manufacturer’s intended expiration date. Many times these cars neither have a fully comprehensive aftermarket support system, nor do they have factory support on par with a late model vehicle’s overabundant supply of spare parts.

So we asked you, the Hagerty Community, what part you would consider a dream come true were you to find it for sale, and the answers were diverse and enlightening. Haven’t joined the Hagerty Community yet? You should consider registering, and getting in on the fun next time around! No matter, let’s see what part you wish was still available for your car.

Anything Zeta, everything Zeta

Perhaps this is low hanging fruit, as a large amount of parts for the GM Zeta platform were thin on the ground even when the Pontiac G8 (and Chevrolet Caprice) were new vehicles. I recall Caprice cop cars were parked waiting for parts to arrive from Australia even during the warranty period, and Hagerty Community user tabboo wishes everything GM discontinued for his 2009 Pontiac G8 GT would come back into local warehouses. While many parts are available if you can stomach the wait for international shipping, this is a very valid concern for all G8 owners.

Window “tape” for the Italian Cadillac

Hagerty Community user TG has a specific request for his Cadillac Allanté, looking for “the plastic ‘tape’ used by the power window mechanism.” As he states, the part used on a run-of-the-mill GM product is “about half an inch thinner.” Since the Allanté was about as bespoke a vehicle can be in the modern era, we wish TG all the luck in the world. That part will likely have to be rebuilt using the original part as a core for someone to conjur a workable replacement.

Speaking of rare Cadillacs…

Let’s stick with Cadillacs and discuss Hagerty Community member RobHarris’ concern. Rob needs a horn ring for a 1959 Cadillac, preferably one that is “much stronger than original.” Rob is also looking for cruise control-related parts that are priced for “an average consumer like me” which he knows is a big ask—parts with less than 1957 Chevrolet appeal will be expensive to scale, and have a limited audience. Or as he put it, “owning an expensive to restore car is not for average people.”

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Jeep trucks are bucking a common 4×4 price trend – Brandan Gillogly @Hagerty

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You’d have to be living under a sandstone outcropping in Moab to not notice that two-door 4×4 SUVs are among the hottest collectibles of the last decade or so. Led by the Ford Bronco, the classic two-door 4×4 SUV market has seemed to spur along the values of classic trucks as well.

As we explained in a story earlier this year in which we compared the values of wagon to their sedan counterparts, a longer roof is sometimes worth quite a bit more. We thought we might see the same when it came to pickups and their SUV relatives, so we asked James Hewitt, Hagerty Valuation Specialist, to run some numbers for us. The numbers mostly reflected our expectations, but there was one interesting surprise we saved for last.

1966–77 Ford Bronco

Whether it’s an uncut, all-original survivor or an orange-mocha-Frappuccino-seeking restomod, first-generation Ford Broncos are the king of the segment, with prices to match. In May of 2012, median #2 (Excellent) values for a first-gen Bronco and its contemporary F-100 pickup were separated by just four percent. By 2018, Bronco values had doubled while F-100 had barely moved.

Today, the median #2 (Excellent) Bronco is valued at $77,850—nearly five times its value from just ten years prior. Meanwhile, a 1967–1972 F-Series truck carries a #2 (Excellent) value of just less than half that, at $35,800. That’s a bit of an apples-to-oranges comparison, as the Bronco was not based on the same full-size platform as the F-Series, but that generation of Ford full-size trucks has some off-road racing history of its own. The F-Series is establishing itself as a collectible in its own right thanks to its good looks and utility, as are plenty of other trucks from that era.

1969–72 Chevrolet C/K Blazer (K5)

The SUV premium looks just a bit lower when comparing a first-generation K5 Blazer to the same-year K10 pickup. Seeking to cash in on the growing SUV trend kicked off by International Harvester and Jeep, Chevy was working its own entrant before the Bronco was even on the market. After considering a smaller model to compete head-to-head with the Scout, Chevrolet decided to go full-size and base the Blazer on its existing pickup line. Those 1969–1972 K5s are rivaling the Bronco when it comes to value, as #2 (Excellent) versions of 1969 K5s are currently valued at $78,200 on average, when equipped with a 350 V-8. A similarly equipped K10 is valued at 45 percent less.

1974–80 Dodge Ramcharger

Mopar’s entry into the full-size SUV segment, Ramcharger, arrived in 1974, and, like GM’s K5 Chevy Blazer and GMC Jimmy, it featured a full-length removable hardtop. The Dodge doesn’t have quite the following of the K5, making it one of the best bargains in the full-size two-door SUV market—especially if open-air driving is a priority. Median #2 (Excellent) examples of 1974–1980 Ramchargers are valued at $32,950, which is double what they were just four years ago. Meanwhile, Dodge D/W Series pickups have also doubled but remain even more affordable, with a median #2 (Excellent) value of $24,000.

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Coming to America: Czech hot-rodders find their place in the sun – Lyn Woodward @Hagerty

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At 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday, in an industrial Southern California suburb a stone’s throw from Disneyland, the guttural rumble of a straight-eight thundered ever closer. Stanley Chavik arrived with the squeal of cross-ply tires, climbed out of his replica 1933 Buick Shafer 8 looking like a Viking headed to battle, then cracked a broad, gap-toothed smile. “Oh, I remember you.” Stanley’s thick Czech accent rolled over his respectable English, which he learned only four years ago. “Come in!”

Stanley hails from the Czech Republic, where his father and grandfather were both car guys. It was a pale yellow 1940s DeSoto, its bumper heavy with metal spikes for an Italian Mad Max knockoff called I Predatori Di Atlantide, that captured his attention. Stanley got hooked on American hot rods.

The internet nourished his hot-rod daydreams. He’d browse classic images from the likes of Gene Winfield, George Barris, and modern builders like Chip Foose. After opening his own welding and fabrication shop in the Czech town of Zlín in 2003, Stanley married Daisy, who applied her business savvy and determination to the venture.

European automotive regulations choked the Chaviks when it came to how they built their cars, but a ramshackle 1939 Buick he’d acquired made Stanley’s dreams manifest when he rebuilt it into a replica of a Shafer 8, inspired by Phil Shafer’s early Indy racers.

After the car’s completion, and much contemplation, the Chaviks packed up the Shafer 8, their U.S. E-2 visa for new businesses, and what money they had. The family, now three with the birth of their son, Stanley Jr., landed in California in late 2017.

Hot-Rod Chavik USA, in sunny Orange County, isn’t large—only about 2000 square feet, with three garage doors that roll skyward to the lofted ceiling. The space owns its Eastern European orderliness. Any color comes thanks to the candy-hued cars that roll in and out.

Upon arrival to the States, Stanley had to buy the cheapest tools he could afford from Home Depot. “We don’t do credit. When we have money, we buy tools,” Daisy says. Stanley does most of his shaping with a Pullmax and his hammers. “I stopped using the English wheel. I prefer a pummeling hammer,” he explains, as if the famous British machine were too delicate.

Aluminum has always been Stanley’s medium. Daisy revealed that he used to shape metal roses for the girls at school. “I like weapons, also,” Stanley interjects, slightly puffing his barreled chest lest I think he’s just a flower guy

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The wonders of the Chrysler Norseman lie shipwrecked in the Atlantic – Jeff Peek @Hagerty

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Chrysler Corp. archives

In the late-night hours of July 26, 1956, about 40 miles off the coast of Nantucket Island and nearing the end of its transatlantic journey from Italy to New York, the luxurious ocean liner SS Andrea Doria collided with another ship in heavy fog. Fifty-one people were killed, a number that would have been much higher had the Doria not remained afloat for 11 hours before it slipped below the water’s surface to its final resting place.

Considering the loss of life, less attention was given to the cargo that went down with the ship, but Chrysler Corporation quickly crafted a press release, matter-of-factly sharing the details of an “idea” car—the Norseman—that had been lost while making its way to America from Italian coachbuilder Carrozzeria Ghia.

Calling the car’s pillarless design “revolutionary,” the press release acknowledged that the Norseman “must be considered a complete loss.” And then, oddly, Chrysler shared that the car was “covered by insurance.” The New York Times reported that the automaker invested $200,000 into the project, the equivalent to $2.1 million today. What Chrysler didn’t say in its press release was that it could never recoup the time and effort that went into creating the four-door hardtop sedan: 50,000 hours of research and labor, two years in design, and another 15 months to build it. All gone, thanks to the the unfortunate confluence of bad weather and certain regrettable decisions.

SS Andrea Doria

Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

The SS Andrea Doria was a source of great national pride when it was launched in 1951. Named for a 16th-century Genoese admiral, it was considered the largest, fastest, and (supposedly) safest of all Italian ships when it took its maiden voyage in January 1953. The opulent 29,100-ton ship had a normal capacity of 1200 passengers and 500 crew, and it had successfully completed 50 transatlantic voyages when it left the port of Genoa on July 17, 1956—with 1706 on board—and headed west to New York City. In an odd coincidence with the more famous RMS Titanic, which sank in 1912 during what was to be Captain Edward Smith’s final turn at the helm before retirement, Cpt. Piero Calamai was taking his final tour on the Andrea Doria before moving to its sister ship, the SS Christopher Columbo.

Nine days into the journey across the Atlantic Ocean and less than 300 miles from New York, dense fog made it difficult to see beyond the bow. Regardless, Calamai maintained a speed of more than 20 knots in the heavily trafficked area while the ship’s crew became completely reliant on radar.

MS Stockholm

Meanwhile, the MS Stockholm, having recently left New York for Sweden, was fast approaching in the same shipping lane, heading east. The Stockholm, less than half the size of the Doria but designed with a reinforced ice-breaking bow, was also operating solely by radar due to the heavy fog.

Both ships were aware of the other as they drew closer, but it was later revealed that the Stockholm’s radar was set to a different range, so the Doria was actually closer to the Swedish ship than its crew realized. Nevertheless, it was Doria Cpt. Calamai’s decision to turn his ship to port—not starboard, in accordance with maritime rules—that proved fatal. With both ships turning in the same direction, the Stockholm struck the Doria at an almost 90-degree angle.

Chrysler Norseman

Chrysler Corp. Archives

Below deck was the Norseman. Designed by Chrysler’s engineering division and built by Ghia, Chrysler claimed the concept “incorporated more structural, chassis, electrical, and styling innovations than any other ‘idea’ car every designed by Chrysler.”

The automaker’s press release added:

“Although the car was intended to have as great structural strength as today’s automobiles, it had no posts or pillars to support the roof. This was accomplished by means of structural cantilever arch, which curved upward from the rear of the frame and over the passenger compartment of the car.

“Glass surrounding the passenger compartment was uninterrupted, with the exception of the two arches of steel curving upward in the rear. In addition, there was a 12-square-foot panel of glass in the rook that was power operated and slid forward, leaving the roof over the rear seat open.

“All major body panels on the car were made of aluminum, as a result of research in advanced structural techniques to reduce weight. It had a sharply sloping hoof, unswept tail fins, and a covered, smooth underbody for aerodynamic efficiency.”

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Disassembling our 1993 Jeep XJ engine – Hagerty

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Last week you saw us pull in our most recent shop addition, a 1993 Jeep XJ with a 4.0L. Davin got it all pulled out and this week he wasted no time tearing into it. Things went fairly quickly as the pieces flew off this straight-six. Davin had his detective hat on as he uncovered a little more about this engine with every bit removed. You never know what you’re going to discover.

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com. RockAuto.com is an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit https://www.rockauto.com/?a=HG-YT-21Q3 to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit our Help pages for further assistance!

GN34: The fastest Ford the world never saw – Steve Saxty @Hagerty

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It was billed as Ford vs Ferrari: Round Two, with a new Detroit supercar to take on Maranello’s finest. So what happened to GN34, the secret prototype that could have wowed the world? Steve Saxty, a former Ford product designer and author of Secret Fords, takes you inside the hidden world of the canceled supercar.

The Ford GT40 might have crushed Ferrari on the track in the Sixties, but twenty years later Ferrari and Porsche were winning the sales race for highly profitable sports cars—and Ford had no answer.

Or at least, that was the perceived wisdom. Behind the scenes at Ford, a crack team of product planners and engineers were putting their heads together in response to growing numbers of buyers with money to burn on sports cars and luxury models, which were bursting with profit if you played your cards right.

Since the start of the Eighties, Ford had been pondering how it could enter the sports car market with a Ferrari rival costing Corvette money. By the end of October 1983, some of the brightest brains in the company had pulled together a strategic paper that set out the case for a world-class supercar and tackled the thorny issue of how to circumvent the company’s corporate culture that was tuned to conceptualizing and building mass market, everyday cars. At the time, even the Mustang was limping along on just four cylinders.

The Detroit product planners ran the numbers; there was money to be made and an obvious place to start looking for it. They reached out to Ford’s Special Vehicle Operations group (SVO), the performance division ultimately responsible for the turbocharged Mustang SVO. (The department’s equivalent in the U.K. was the British Special Vehicle Engineering group that created the Capri Injection and Sierra Cosworth.) SVO consisted of a 30-strong team of engineers, planners and marketers led by Mike Kranefuss, Ford’s competitions manager who had successfully campaigned the Cologne Capris against the BMW Batmobiles a few years before moving stateside.

Kranefuss was a racer through and through, unused to making road cars, but after his young team created the highly regarded Mustang SVO, it was clear that they could move far faster than Ford’s huge, but lumbering, engineering team. SVO were perfect for the job; an internationally-minded group of Ford mavericks familiar with the external resources necessary to assemble a Ferrari rival sold at a Corvette or Porsche 944 price.

Kranefuss’s 30-strong team, aided by its 46-year-old Chief Engineer Glen Lyall and abetted by 36-year-old Planning/Program Manager Ronald Muccioli leapt at the chance. “For us it was more than a job and another product, it was our dream.” SVO took on the supercar project, now dubbed GN34.

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Saving Saturn: A different kind of car collector – Eric Weiner @Hagerty

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The most interesting car collection you’ve never heard of lives in a subdivision just outside Princeton, New Jersey. Nestled between patches of bucolic farmland and aging equestrian stables, in the cool shadow of a nature preserve, the neighborhood looks like any other. Drive past too quickly and you might miss the vast horde of Saturns, fanned out in the driveway of a single house like paint swatches in a catalogue. Before that rainbow array of plastic body panels stands its caretaker, a soft-spoken 26-year-old woman named Jessieleigh Freeman.

She fiddles with a scrunchie on her wrist and purses her lips as I wander, speechless, among the coupes, sedans, and wagons. “Seventeen of them,” she says, one hand idly playing with the Saturn pendant on her choker necklace. “I’ve got one in every body style—a few doubles, even.” The skateboard she carries displays the same two words you’ll find all over her Instagram: Saving Saturn.

How did Saturn get to the point that it needed her help? At the outset, the new brand lived up to its slogan, “a different kind of car company.” It was announced as the newest addition to GM’s household in 1985, the result of a bright-eyed dream that an all-American economy car with a unique approach could best Japan’s imports. Like the United States, Saturn was indeed a Grand Experiment. Most people remember the brand’s plastic body panels, meant to stave off rust, but Saturn’s true brilliance lay in the approach it took to people. Attempting to operate outside of the way Detroit had long done business, Saturn built its first plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee. Employees were recruited from various GM factories, and these people were eager to join an energetic culture offering the promise of a clean slate. Having signed up with Saturn, they then benefited from an unprecedented arrangement with the UAW chapter that allowed them to sidestep the complex web of union job classifications, participate in key decision making, and earn wages based in part on quality and productivity goals. GM even instituted a profit-sharing program in place of the traditional fixed-income pension. At retail locations, Saturn pioneered no-haggle pricing that immediately attracted thousands of hopeful customers.

This concept was so appealing that demand for new Saturns outstripped the Spring Hill plant’s production capability for the first five years. The brand’s early years were by and large successful, with massive customer satisfaction and an eclectic owner demographic that seemed all-in.

Not everyone at General Motors shared that enthusiasm. The rest of the company lived on the main deck of a corporate battleship—the kind of place where a proposed update to the bathroom tile might have to pass through multiple floors of executives—and it didn’t take long for resentment to boil over. Saturn was sucking up valuable resources, and as the brand’s initial momentum waned, the goodwill that had paved the brand’s road ran dry. The original S-Series ended production in 2002, by which point the larger L-Series line was being produced under traditional UAW labor rules in a Delaware plant. Soon after came the Vue SUV, the Ion sedan, the Relay minivan, and the Sky roadster—all of which were based on other GM models, and not unique to Saturn. An attempt to sell the brand to Penske fell through, and the dealership body closed for good in October 2010. That’s the end of it.

But not for Freeman. When she talks about her cars, she speaks slowly, surveying the breadth of her collection.

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Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum Collection @Hagerty My Garage

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You can view the entire collection here at Hagerty My Garage

The museum is located in the former administration building of the Auburn Automobile Company, which operated on this property from the early 20th century until its closure in 1937. The building, along with the adjacent service and new parts building, and the L-29 building now occupied by the National Auto & Truck Museum, were together declared a National Historic Landmark in 2005. This complex was recognized as one of the nation’s best-preserved examples of an independent auto company’s facilities.[2][3] The showroom and administrative buildings were designed by architect Alvin M. Strauss in Art Deco style and were built in 1930. The Auburn Automobile Company had its genesis in a carriage manufacturer, and at its height had more than 18 acres (7.3 ha) of facilities here. After its closure, the administration building housed a business selling original and reproduction parts for a number of discontinued manufacturers, including the Auburn, Cord, and Duesenberg nameplates, until 1960

Well worth a visit I can assure you!

You can the visit post here

According to you: 10 of the most underrated tools – Sanjeev Mehta @Hagerty

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Last month I asked members of the Hagerty Community which was the most underrated tool in their collection. The answers covered the entire spectrum of automotive repair, so the ten examples listed here may not necessarily be suited for your particular project. But this discussion brings up the point that if you haven’t yet interacted with your fellow Hagerty readers in our Community, whatcha waitin’ for?

Join the fun on the Community and enrich our collective passion for all things related to the automobile with your knowledge. Anyway, let’s get to the answers that YOU provided us.

MAPP gas torch

Community user RedRyder_SFZ chimed in with a tool that isn’t needed regularly—but when you need one, you need it bad! These torches run on MAPP gas for its safety and ease of use compared to a conventional oxygen-acetylene setup, thereby making them great for smaller projects like breaking free rusted bolts and brazing metal together. RedRyder went further to say: “Without my gas torch, I’d go through more cutting and grinding discs than I care to think about. Sometimes after the torch gets the rusty fasteners loose, I pound my chest and exclaim ‘I … have made fire!!!’”

Braided wiring loom installation tool (DIY)

Again, this isn’t a tool for your average brake job or oil change. But when you need the finishing touches under the hood for your project car, Hagerty Community user johnman has a word for you. He made a DIY tool to run wiring into these looms: “I discovered a quarter-inch wrench worked the best on the half-inch split plastic wrap. Put the wrench into the split gap sideways, then turn 90 degrees to open the gap. As you lay the wires into the gap, pull the wrench through, and follow along with your thumb to secure the wires inside.”

Reciprocating saw

The Sawzall cutting tool is a bit of an Internet hero these days, for many reasons and likely countless applications. Which is why our CitationMan has one, and tells his friends, “I can cut anything you own in half.” Enough said—it’s gotta make the list.

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