More than 50 years later, Grace Braeger's Bel Air remains ready for duty.
Braeger, who in 1957 was told by her mechanic that it was about time to replace her 1950 Chevy, went to a Milwaukee dealership bearing her surname -- King Braeger, now Braeger Chevrolet. There, she traded in her 1950 model and put down $2,250 in cash for an almost-new 4-door 1957 Bel Air, a demo model that had 4,239 miles on it. It also boasted power brakes, power steering and a beefy 283-cubic-inch V8 engine. The rest was history: Braeger still drives the car to this day, more than 50 years later, and the gleaming Chevy is showroom-ready thanks to her conscientious care and a restoration during the 1980s.
Check out a video of Braeger and her Bel Air after the jump.
By Mark Rechtin, Automotive News
Lexus' sales lead in the luxury wars is under threat from BMW and Mercedes-Benz, in part because of aging products in crucial segments. But several new or redesigned Lexus models are due to be launched in the next year.
Do not be fooled by the cute looks; the 2011 Porsche Boxster Spyder is one masculine drop top.
The Porsche Boxster and Boxster S are simply spectacular cars. Unfortunately for Porsche, they are often dismissed as nothing more than cute little "chick cars.” This is a problem for the “No Substitute” automaker, since much of the market for $60,000 sports cars is made of middle-aged men tragically trying to recapture their youth. (Sorry fellas, but it’s true.) The all-new Boxster Spyder, however, is different. It ain’t no chick car; this drop-top has cojones. It took just 15 miles in the saddle for us to become smitten with this beautiful machine, and an additional 485 to fall madly in love with it.
In the sports car world, creating a machine that is balanced and lightweight is essential. A car that has a perfect weight balance front and rear will respond more predictably than one that does not, allowing the driver to put the vehicle exactly where he wants it in a turn. And lighter weight translates into quicker reaction times, higher speeds and better handling.
By Diana T. Kurylko, Automotive News
Among the first product moves that Volvo is considering as it adapts to new management is the addition of a small sedan that targets BMW's 1 series and a compact crossover to go up against the BMW X1.
The sedan would be smaller than the S40, said Doug Speck, CEO of Volvo Cars of North America. The S40 will be phased out in the next two years because it is regarded as too close in size to the redesigned S60 sedan.
"We need enough gap in size to justify small and large vehicles," Speck said at the press launch of Volvo's new-generation S60.
Volvo wants a small crossover because "there will be more X1 counterparts in the luxury segment," he said.
New CEO Stefan Jacoby is driving the product assessment at Volvo, which was acquired this summer by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. of China.
What will the automaker's stock offering look like?
It’s unlikely that taxpayers will ever see every penny of the $52 billion that the government put into General Motors. But the Treasury Department’s plan to hang onto a good chunk of its 61 percent stake in GM -- rather than sell it all at once during GM’s initial public stock offering -- is a smart move. It's clear that everyone wants the government out of the car business, including the government. But holding onto a meaningful stake until GM recovers fully and seriously boosts its stock price should ensure that taxpayers see more money in the long run.
The New York Times reported that Treasury has cooled off GM’s plan for an IPO that might have rivaled Visa’s 2008 offering as the largest in history, when the credit-card king raised more than $19 billion. Instead, the feds want GM to get the highest stock price possible during its IPO, rather than obsess over the maximum size of the offering.
Strategies for battling the problem.
A pilot enforcement program in Hartford, Conn., and Syracuse, N.Y., called "Phone in One Hand. Ticket in Another" has proven effective, though the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has noted that a federal program could not go into effect until all 50 states have implemented anti-texting laws -- something expected to happen within the next two years.
Of course, enforcement won't be the only strategy.
By Mark Vaughn
WITH VIDEO -- Eric Lazar grew up a Southern California kid, “playing all sports: skateboarding, surfing, racing motocross and traveling the world.”
When he grew up, Lazar was a burly Teamster truck driver, working in the movie and television industry. Even today he looks like he could bench-press a Volkswagen. But seven years ago it all came to a stop when he broke his back in a motorcycle crash.
A person in that situation could be forgiven for a few moments hesitation about life. Not Lazar.
“When I was in rehab at the hospital they took me to an abilities expo,” he said. “There happened to be two go karts there with hand controls and I was like, ‘Hey when can I drive that?”
It took a whole year to do it but he finally got a chance to drive one.
14 finalists announced
From the North American Car of the Year organizing committee: "The three car and three truck finalists will be announced on Dec. 16 at an Automotive Press Association luncheon in Detroit. The final two winners, a North American Car of the Year and a North American Truck of the Year, will be announced in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit."
The full list of cars and trucks is posted after the jump.
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Clifford Atiyeh has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own. Raised in Volvos, he has grown to love fast, irresponsible vehicles of all kinds. He is the senior news editor at MSN Autos and also reports for Car and Driver, Road & Track, The Boston Globe and other publications.
In the garage: 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (not his)
Doug Newcomb has covered car technology for over 20 years for outlets ranging from Rolling Stone to Edmunds.com. In 2008, he published his first book, "Car Audio for Dummies" (Wiley). He lives and drives in Hood River, Ore., with his wife and two kids, who share his passion for cars and technology.
In the garage: 1996 Chevrolet Impala SS, two 1984 Chevrolet Blazers, 2008 Honda CR-V
James Tate learned to drive stick at age 13 in a 1988 Land Cruiser - in La Paz, Bolivia. He's since been a mechanic, on a pit crew and has wrenched on every car he's owned since his first 1989 Honda CRX Si (and won't stop until the car is a 1973 Porsche 911 RS). His work has appeared in Car and Driver, Popular Mechanics, Automobile and others.
In the garage: 1995 Porsche 911 Carrera, 1988 BMW M5
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