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Auto Notes: Bulletproof Econolines, NACOTY, Millenials driving less

Posted by Bill Griffith  January 10, 2012 11:16 AM

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Playing it COY

And the envelope please….

The North American Car (and truck) of the Year were named Monday just prior to the opening of the Detroit Auto Show. The Hyundai Accent and Range Rover Evoque were the winners, as selected by the 50 voting members of the Automotive Press Association.

Thumbnail image for 2012-Range-Rover-Evoque-front.jpg

The group last week cut the field to three finalists in each category. The Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, and Volkswagen Passat were the Car of the Year choices. The BMW X3, Honda CR-V, and Range Rover Evoque were finalists in the truck category. (We awarded the X3, Evoque, and Focus on our Top Drives for 2012 list).


Those truck choices show that there weren’t any major contenders in the pickup truck or full-sized SUV categories.

For the record, last year's winners were the Chevrolet Volt and Ford Explorer.

Easy bulletproof Econolines

Reader John Pitha shares this follow-up to our column on Ford’s coming phase-out of the E-series vans.

"I used to work for a company that made bullet-resistant glass for all sorts of applications. The Constitution of The United States is displayed in a case made from glass we produced.

"The founder of the company was an early adopter of trying to make lighter weight bulletproof glass. When the Caribbean became a tourist destination, there arose a need to transport cash on island roads that were pretty unimproved at the time.

"Armored trucks of the day were far too heavy to negotiate sandy roads so a lighter vehicle that was reasonably bulletproof was needed. My ex-boss and some friends came up with the idea to substitute polycarbonate sheet (lexan) in the glass to provide bullet resistance with vastly reduced weight.

"Previous to this, bullet resistant windows were all glass and really heavy. They settled on the Ford E-Series vans. Making a curved bulletproof windshield requires all the layers (except the polycarbonate) to be bent by heat into a mold all at once. This can be difficult because the differing thicknesses of glass heat differently and the whole works can just shatter in the oven into a billion sharp shards.

"Because the curvature of the Ford van is slight, the window is easy to bend and cut and we made hundreds of them. I would bet that there are more Ford vans used for this purpose than any other type of vehicle. By the way, we started to make Transit windshields too. Also an easy bend.

"Ford was either prescient or very lucky."


International Cars, Ltd., the five-dealership family that includes Honda North and four Southern N.H., stores, presented a check for $15,000 to the “Wounded Warrior Project,” the group raising awareness and aid for severely injured servicemen and women.

Zipcar has released results of its second annual study of Millenials (18- to 34-year-olds), examining that generation’s attitudes towards personal transportation and car ownership. The study shows 55 percent of Millenials actively make an effort to drive less, up from 45 percent in 2010.

Results cite the high cost of car ownership, environmental concerns, and staying in contact with friends via social networking rather than driving. Fifty-three percent say they’d participate in a car-sharing service such as Zipcar—the highest of any age group.

Bill Griffith can be reached at

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
In the garage: 1995 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (by association)
Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
In the garage: 2006 Subaru Baja
AAA's Car Doctor, John Paul John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England, a certified mechanic, and a Globe columnist. He hosts a weekly radio show on WROL.
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Keith Griffin is president of the New England Motor Press Association and edits the used car section on He also writes for the Hartford Business Journal and various weekly newspapers in Connecticut.
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