Stirling Moss Falls Down An Elevator Shaft, Then Sends Fans & Friends An Email From His Hospital Bed

March 9, 2010

Stirling Moss is the mold from which all other sports heros should be made. A racing legend from F1, rallying and sports cars, he has spent the better part of the last half-century doing it for fun on the vintage circuit. All along, he’s been a warm, approachable, interesting person, all while still driving cars in anger like he did in the glory days.

A couple days ago he fell down the lift shaft at his home. As another example of his understanding of what it means to be a hero, he wasted no time in writing an email to friends and fans, which was just published by Keith Martin’s Sports Car Market.

Greetings!

DEAR ALL OF YOU,

THE LAST FEW DAYS HAVE BEEN QUITE FANTASTIC AND I’D LIKE TO THANK EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU FOR YOUR KIND THOUGHTS, MESSAGES AND OTHER PARAPHERNALIA.

ON SATURDAY EVENING, I WAS AT HOME WITH SUSIE, ELLIOT AND HELEN AND ABOUT TO LEAVE FOR A CURRY, FOR WHICH WE WERE RUNNING LATE. I ASKED HELEN TO JOIN ME IN THE LIFT TO GO DOWNSTAIRS, BECAUSE SUSIE AND ELLIOT WERE SMART ENOUGH NOT TO RIDE IN MY LIFT. I OPENED THE DOOR AND STEPPED INTO THE LIFT, WITH HELEN READY TO FOLLOW ME, WHICH SHE NEVER DID. THAT IS BECAUSE THE LIFT HAD STOPPED ON THE FLOOR ABOVE AND INCORRECTLY ALLOWED THE DOOR BENEATH IT TO OPEN.

STILL CHATTING TO HELEN, I STEPPED INTO THE OPEN DOORWAY–AND FELL TO THE BOTTOM OF THE LIFT SHAFT.

THE AMBULANCE WAS CALLED AND ARRIVED AT RACING SPEED, WHEREUPON THEY PUT ME ONTO A SERIES OF ABOUT 10 STRETCHERS! HAVING FINALLY SETTLED ON WHAT MUST HAVE SEEMED A GOOD ONE, I WAS TAKEN, ALONG WITH MY FAMILY TO THE ROYAL LONDON HOSPITAL IN WHITECHAPEL, WHERE THEY USED ANOTHER BATCH OF SIMILAR STRETCHERS!

THEY DID A GOOD JOB OF HELPING ME, BUT WERE UNABLE TO DO THE REQUISITE SURGERY. SO, ON THE SUNDAY, I WAS MOVED TO THE PRINCESS GRACE, WHERE A FANTASTICALLY EFFICIENT, KIND AND AMUSING STAFF DID ALL THE JOBS.

I AM NOW IN A LOVELY ROOM, NUMBER 222, AND WITH THE HELP OF ELLIOT AND THE PORTER, AM FINALLY ON THE EMAIL. THAT DOES NOT MEAN THAT I WILL BE ABLE TO ACTUALLY SEND THIS TO YOU, BUT I WILL TRY!

NOW FOR THE FUTURE… WHICH I CAN SEE WITH SUSIE, HELEN AND ELLIOT AROUND ME, IS GOING TO BE A BLOODY STRUGGLE!

AS SOME OF YOU MAY KNOW, SUSIE AND I ARE BOOKED ON A SEABOURN CRUISE FOR OUR 30TH ANNIVERSARY, NEXT MONTH. I HAVE TO CROSS THE HURDLE OF GETTING THE DOCORS, AND FAMLY HANGERS-ON, TO ALLOW ME TO THIN MY BLOOD, IN ORDER TO AVOID ANY ISSUES INVOLVING DEEP VEIN THROMBOSIS.

IT WILL BE SIX TO EIGHT WEEKS FROM SUNDAY BEFORE I WILL ABLE TO PUT ANY LOAD ON MY FEET. THEREFORE I’M FACING MY SIXTH OR SEVENTH REDUCTION TO A WHEELCHAIR (SUSIE SAYS SHE’S STOPPED COUNTING) WHICH I MUST ADMIT, IS RATHER BORING. THE GOOD NEWS IS; THAT I DIDN’T SELL THE WHEELCHAIR AFTER THE LAST SHUNT!

THE WHOLE THING IS A REAL PAIN IN THE ARSE, IF I HAD LOOKED WHERE I WAS GOING, I WOULDN’T BE HERE AT ALL, SO IT’S MY OWN DAMN FAULT.

I HAVE BEEN ABSOLUTELY OVERWHELMED BY YOUR COLLECTIVE CONCERN AND KINDNESS.

I CAN TELL YOU THAT CURRENTLY I’M LYING IN HOSPITAL, TAKING DEEP BREATHS, LIFTING ONE ARM WITH THE OTHER, RAISING MY LEGS (WITH PLASTERS ON THE END) AND DOING ALL I CAN DO TO KEEP MYSELF AS MOBILE AS POSSIBLE, BUT, HAVING SAID THAT, I’M NOT YET WINNING THE BATTLE.

I’M NOT SURE WHEN I’LL BE ABLE TO GO HOME BUT THE LIFT HAS TO WORK, OTHERWISE I’LL NEVER BE ABLE TO GET UPSTAIRS IN MY WHEELCHAIR, MAYBE I’LL GO AND STAY WITH HELEN AND ELLIOT FOR A WHILE…

THIS REALLY HAS OPENED MY EYES TO HOW KIND ALL MY FRIENDS ARE, OVER AN OLD EX-RACING DRIVER, FLOGGING A FADING IMAGE!

I LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU SOON,

MANY THANKS FOR ALL OF YOUR THOUGHTS,

CIAO

Stirling, we can’t wait to see you back out at the races! It’s because of legends like you that we still believe in heros.

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Toyota Unveils Its New 2011 Avalon…Like You Care!?!?!

February 10, 2010

2011avalon

The new 2011 Toyota Avalon


Toyota executives can’t be feeling happy these days. In the midst of shut-down production lines and global recalls for all of its best-selling vehicles, as well as cries from media sources that action was a direct result of US regulatory arm-twisting, there has been little good news.

Until today, when it unveiled its savior at the Chicago Auto Show: the 2011 Avalon.

Scratch that — the company is still screwed.

Since 2005 the Avalon has been the best Buick sold in America. Aside from the nasty (actually, downright dangerous) five-speed automatic transmissions in the 2005-2007 models, the Avalon has been a way to get pseudo-luxury in a $30,000ish package. Given its size and ammenities, the Avalon has really competed against much more expensive players in the large sedan segment: Mercedes, Audi, Jaguar, BMW, and even Lexus. I even dropped my own personal sheckles on a 2006 Avalon Limited for daily transport and have been generally pleased.

Times change, though. What looked, felt and performed great five years ago, however, doesn’t necessarily cut it in 2010. With this, Toyota had to freshen the Avalon’s face.

Despite the long press release (laced with more buzz-words and flowery language than Las Vegas technical trade show presentation), there’s really nothing new or noteworthy about the upcoming Avalon. For 2011 the multitude of exterior changes (new lamp clusters, wheels and changes to the bodywork) are so subtle that even one of those fanatical Porsche fans who can point out the thousand differences in two seemingly identical-looking 911s would consider the new and outgoing Avalons identical… and then go on with his day without a second thought.

The interior gets easy-to-spot changes, but not really many improvements, such as replacing some cheap-looking faux aluminum trim with not-fooling-anyone faux wood trim. There’s still no massaging or multiple lumbar support seats option, as found on other more expensive players.

The 2011 Avalon finally gets the options of a rear backup camera and a touch-screen navigation system with real-time traffic (which replaces the absolutely unusable button-type on current gen cars.) Both are commonplace in entry-level luxury vehicles these days.

So at the end of the day, the unveiling is a lot of motion for a little move…or to quote The Who: “meet the new boss — the same as the old boss”. As GM and Ford found out, if you don’t watch quality and fail to deliver fresh, stylish cars that have features competitors don’t, time at the top is short lived.

And that’s what Hyundai is banking on!


Summer’s Automotive Summary

August 10, 2009

We’ve been getting quite a bit of email wondering where we have been and why we haven’t chimed in on a number of large automotive issues. The short answer has been that It has been a busy summer over here. We provide content to a number of different publications, so quite simply put, it was the Four Wheel Drift that suffered.

For all of you who were desperately waiting for our view on current events, here is a summary of where we stand on the issues.

Cash For Clunkers: With our reputation for being involved with collector cars, people assumed we’d be absolutely against CFC. They were right, but not for the reasons they figured.

The conventional wisdom circulating in the classic car and hot rod circuits is that CFC would cause the destruction of thousands of tomorrow’s classic cars…and therefore the program must be stopped at all costs.

We take a different…more pragmatic view that exposes our business backgrounds. The crushed future classics affect from CFC will be far less noticeable than from rising scrap prices prior to WWII…or from the use of salt in a particularly bad winter in the Northeast and Midwest. In other words, most of the vehicles succumbing to the CFC crushers a) are mass-produced vehicles, b) are family cars, c) consequently are less likely to be restored in twenty to thirty years as collector vehicles.

There are two big issues we do dislike about CFC. The first is that we’ve always felt that rebates simply create sales by cannibalizing future higher price/profit sales. Part of the decreased demand in 2007, 2008 and 2009 comes from the direct result of massive factory rebates in 2001, 2002 and 2003. Rebates are an ongoing nightmare for good product marketing folks who battle sales, finance and PR departments who are more focused on making numbers now so they can get their gold Rolexes from bonuses. Rebates kill the pipeline, dilute product value and image (although admittedly the CFC rebate doesn’t dilute product image like a standard manufacturer versions), and create a way for local dealers to provide vehicles at the same price as before the rebates, but without giving up any profit themselves.

The second reason we dislike the CFC program is that unlike a standard manufacturer rebate program that puts the financial burden on the corporation, the CFC program puts it on taxpayers. And before you start writing the comment regarding that the program replaces the current fleet with more fuel-efficient vehicles, that’s a total red herring. This exact same thing would happen anyway – as the current fleet ages, it is replaced with newer vehicles – all which are more fuel efficient. The difference is cost. The artificial way costs taxpayers several billion, the other doesn’t.

The bottom line is that the CFC program is nothing more than a boondoggle for auto manufacturers, dealers and scrap metal recyclers in a wrapper of good intentions paid for by taxpayer money.

GM Selling Cars Via eBay: Here’s a whole lotta nothing. Simply an official program that mimics what hundreds of dealers have been doing with varying degrees of success for nearly a decade. It would have been a real story had GM found a loophole for the anti-trust laws prohibiting manufacturer-to-consumer sales to allow such sales using eBay as the “dealer”.

New Hybrids: Yawn. Meet the new boss – same as the old boss. These are still uninspiring vehicles that struggle to get better mileage than the original Geo Metro despite delivering not much more in terms of performance, size, comfort, or enjoyment. Again people, hybrid technology is over a century old.

Seller Beware: Autoweek reported in its current issue how people consigning their classics to Kruse have reported not receiving payment from the auction house for more than six months after their vehicles sold at auction. Even scarier for vehicle sellers – there is the Washington State court opinion at http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/index.cfm?fa=opinions.showOpinion&filename=614185MAJ , which results from the mess created when a car consignment operation (AGS Performance) closed prior to distributing the funds received from selling a Ferrari F355 on consignment. To complicate the matter, the selling party never provided the title for his Ferrari. The courts maintained that since AGS was in the business of selling cars, it didn’t need the title to facilitate a legal sale, leaving the buyer (Hensrude) with a legal purchase and the former owner (Sloss) with only the recourse of suing AGS for non-payment on a contract.

The bottom line is that sellers of collector cars need to be very careful these days.

Porsche Panamera: If we have to read another column in a major publication or hear another enthusiast question if the four-door Panamera is a “real Porsche”, we’re going to set ourselves on fire. It was a valid question when the 914…and maybe even somewhat valid when the 928 replaced the 911 as the “top-of-the-line” model in the late 1970s, but not anymore.

Note to publications, enthusiasts and auto manufacturers: the Cayenne is the best-selling Porsche ever and no Porsche enthusiast or purist not wearing a tinfoil hat has ever cared about its affect on the brand, other than to thank it for providing the necessary cash flow to develop low-production high-performance cars like the Turbo, GT3, GT etc… More manufacturers need to ignore the purists, because if you cater to them, you get the GTO, Challenger, retro-Mustang, and new Camaro. Purists love these, but people with money don’t like them enough to buy them.


Another Crash on the La Carrera Panamericana

October 28, 2008

Jaguar driver Joel Eisenberg reports that car number 120, the Studebaker of Stewart and Linda Robertson competing in the Turismo Mayor class has had a race-ending crash.  The Studebaker was running 21st overall when it happened.  Reports are that there are no serious injuries, but that Linda Robertson was taken to a local hospital to be checked-out.