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Chasing down Wayne Carini

Posted by Peter Bourassa May 16, 2011 03:57 PM


(All photos: George Kennedy for Click photo for larger version.

Wayne Carini, one of the region's most preeminent classic car restorers, poses at his garage in Portland, Conn.

To be one of the best automotive collectors and restorers in the game, you've got to truly love cars. Wayne Carini has that passion, and he's turned it into a successful business and popular television show.

Carini owns F40 Motorsports in Portland, Conn., a restoration shop and dealer for classic and exotic cars. If you're even the least bit into cars, you're probably watched his show, "Chasing Classic Cars," on HD Theater. It's one of the channel's top-rated shows, second only to live broadcasts of the Mecum Car Auctions.

Whereas many of today's reality TV shows are sensationalized, Carini is the real article. You won't find some father-son vendetta like on "Orange County Choppers," or cast members smashing tools and making a scene for the cameras. The subject matter of finding and restoring beautiful classics is enough for the show to stand on its own. Carini just goes about his job as usual.

"There are no double takes, or going back to film a scene again," he said, while taking a brief rest in the front seat his Fiat Jolly. "What you see is what you get."


Dodging Chrysler works for Ram brand

Posted by Keith Griffin February 20, 2011 01:20 PM



Fred Diaz, president and CEO of Ram Trucks, introduced the new Ram Tradesman at the 2011 Chicago Auto Show this month.

What works at Ford and Chevrolet doesn't work at Chrysler when it comes to trucks. No, it's not quality control, which Chrysler has been greatly improving (more on that later). It's that Chrysler can't sell cars and trucks that bear the same brand name of Dodge.

At least that's the message Fred Diaz, president and CEO of Ram Trucks, conveyed during a recent interview at the Chicago Auto Show. Consumers couldn't differentiate between Dodge cars and trucks, so the Ram truck brand was born.

"We were trying to be too much to too many people with Dodge trucks and cars," said Diaz, who also is the lead Chrysler Group executive for sales in the United States. So, the company created distinct personalities for the two brands.

The Dodge car brand is young, hip, and athletic, he said. The Ram brand is defined by its spokesman, Sam Elliott, the gritty voiced actor known for roles in movies like "Tombstone."

"You can't market both brands the same way," he said.


In defense of Equus

Posted by Keith Griffin December 20, 2010 12:46 PM


(Clifford Atiyeh/ Staff)

The Hyundai Equus on display at the 2010 New York Auto Show.

The Hyundai Equus is a $58,000 Korean luxury sedan. Yet, since its introduction in April at the New York Auto Show, it has been greeted with equal parts derision and fascination. Detractors question how a brand known for its low-cost, long-warranty products that were all about basic transportation can hope to deliver the luxury experience. Proponents simply point to Hyundai's sales and product success the past few years and say, "Why not?"

In a nutshell, in keeping with the Hyundai brand of late, the Equus is a fully-loaded sedan that competes in amenities with famous nameplates like the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, and Lexus LS while costing roughly $25,000 less (it tops out at $65,400). It lacks for nothing in the way of luxury.

The man addressing the pros and cons for the Equus launch in the United States has been Derek Joyce, its product manager. He has spent countless hours traveling the country (as well as to Ulsane, Korea where the luxury sedan is manufactured) selling the Equus to the media, dealers, livery company owners, and others.

Joyce sat down with the Globe for a widespread discussion about the Equus, appropriately enough, at The Equus restaurant in Tarrytown, N.Y., during a press event.


Top Gear's Rutledge Wood: The Stig wouldn't shake my hand

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh November 22, 2010 05:49 PM

Now that the US version of "Top Gear" has finally aired, fans of the original BBC series have weighed in, including our "Car Doctor" John Paul, who interviewed co-host Rutledge Wood on his radio show Sunday morning.

Listen to John's 15-minute interview below (no, even Rutledge doesn't know who the Stig is) and then sound off in our comments section.

Toyota VP on recalls, lawsuits: No 'woe is me' feeling, we've moved on

Posted by Bill Griffith October 14, 2010 04:23 PM


(Bill Griffith for

Jim Colon, Toyota vice president of product communications, speaks with journalists at The Boston Globe on Tuesday.

Jim Colon has been a Toyota executive for 30 years.

Nothing in that time had prepared him for the company's recall crisis that began last November and wound up affecting more than 10 million vehicles worldwide. To date, 80 percent of the affected vehicles have been repaired within nine months compared to the industry average of 70 percent for a typical recall.

For Toyota, the public relations hit turned out to be especially tough because the automaker's success has been built on the triangle of quality, durability, and reliability.

There was something iconoclastic about the way the mainstream media jumped on the story and never let go, ignoring a slew of other recall notices by other manufacturers during that same time period.

"To say it's been a challenging year for us is an understatement," said Colon, vice president for Toyota Product Communications. He was in town to meet with the New England Motor Press on Tuesday.


Saab president: Our kind of sale will never happen again

Posted by Bill Griffith September 15, 2010 10:01 AM

Mike Colleran, president and COO of Saab cars North America, was in Boston this week, a place he considers the company's "home market" in the United States.

Saab US President Mike Colleran

(Bill Griffith for

Speaking to members of the New England Motor Press Association at The Boston Globe, Colleran was effusive in thanking the legions of loyal Saab owners whose support and demonstrations helped save the company. He said their support convinced Victor Muller of Spyker to buy Saab from General Motors in a deal that was finalized in February.

"Imagine being able to buy a viable car company for $74 million," said Colleran. "I don't think you'll see that happen again. It came during the perfect storm of an economic downturn, but Spyker got a full-service company, from design to production to dealership network for the same price GM paid for its latest wind tunnel."

Now, 150-plus days into its ownership, Saab has a new product, the 9-5 luxury sedan, in showrooms with the 9-4X crossover coming in spring. In addition, Saab soon will have a 2.0-liter turbo version of the 9-5 that is projected to get 32 miles per gallon or better (highway). Next year, the SportCombi (wagon) version will be available.

"Our company and dealers survived 18 months with no new cars during the worst economy in decades," said Colleran. "Now we've got a string of new cars coming, an ownership that won't be denied, and a long-range plan to bring the company back to profitability while retaining our quirky heritage."

Colleran says the new 9-5 is a large car Saab needs. "It clearly is above the 9-3 [in size], boosts our premium segment ambitions, and represents a massive technological leap ahead. We want our niche back as the quirky offering in the luxury marketplace. Audi had taken it but now they're part of 'The Group.' " That's Colleran's term for the German troika of Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz.

As for Boston being the home market: Charles River Saab sold the first 9-5 available to the public, at 6:01 a.m. the morning the model went on sale.

We will finally get our hands on a new 9-5 for a full road test late this month. Stay tuned. —Ed.

Design Q&A: 'Three-box' sedans are out, says Cadillac

Posted by Keith Griffin April 20, 2010 01:29 PM


(Keith Griffin for

Cadillac director of exterior design Max Wolff stands by the CTS-V at the New York International Auto Show.

NEW YORK—Max Wolff, director of exterior design for Cadillac, is best known for his design work on the popular Holden brand (that inspired the Pontiac G8 in the U.S.) in his native Australia. His work has been drawing praise lately on such vehicles as the Cadillac CTS Coupe and CTS-V Wagon. He sat down with at the New York International Auto Show to discuss the future of automotive design.

Congratulations on the CTS-V Wagon. It’s a great looking people mover. How does one design a station wagon that stops people dead in their tracks like this?

It was relatively easy because the sedan was so good. It has a wide track and low roof. We just had to graft on the back of it and add some big wheels and tires. I won’t say it was easy, but it was relatively painless. We’re always looking to evolve with something new and fresh that retains the “Cadillac-ness” of the last 10 years. You can expect similar offerings as with the SRX and the CTS. The Converj [concept] points to where we’re going. We’re operating under the “Art & Science” philosophy with an element more of an art. Proportion continues to play a huge role. Surface and detail will be a little sheerer than you see. Proportions play such a huge role. It’s the same philosophy big or small.


Design Q&A: Mazda's Derek Jenkins on the 'golden age of form'

Posted by Keith Griffin April 12, 2010 12:03 PM


(Keith Griffin for

Mazda design director Derek Jenkins stands next to his 2 Evil concept at the New York International Auto Show.

NEW YORK—As chief of design for Volkswagen Group North America, Derek Jenkins was the man behind the design of Audis both big and small (the A8 and A2) as well as the Volkswagen Scirocco concept.

Photo gallery
He now is tasked with keeping the "zoom zoom" in Mazdas sold in North America as design director for Mazda Design Americas. He sat down with at the New York International Auto Show to discuss the future of automotive design.

It's been almost a year that you've been head of North American design for Mazda. What is the first product coming to market that's going to have your fingerprints on it? Or is it out?

There is nothing specific. My work is on all the next-generation products. I'm involved in all of that. I can't say it's this particular model or that. I helped to develop the Mazda 2 concept "2 Evil" to take the car in its base form and give it more of a track day feel and show what's possible. I look at 2 Evil like it's my own personal car.

In a company with global products like the Mazda 6 or Mazda 2, what role do American designers play? Is their influence more on interior design or exterior design?

We're involved in every component but that's not to say we're getting everything we want. We go through the creative phase and create an alignment of ideas. It is pretty comprehensive across the board whether it's a near-term launch like the Mazda 2 or future generation platforms. It can also be working with research and development on packaging and customer wants. It could also be refinement of technologies or the external paint colors that reflect general American tastes or the color and texture of the carpet. In general Americans are a little bit reserved when it comes colors but [you] can get punchier colors liked Spirit Green. There is potential in the U.S. market for a more colorful palette but we'll still have a higher volume with silver, gray and white.


Design Q&A: Ralph Gilles on Chrysler’s resurgence

Posted by Keith Griffin April 7, 2010 04:04 PM


(Keith Griffin for

Chrysler designer Ralph Gilles at the Dodge stand at the New York International Auto Show.

NEW YORK—Ralph Gilles, president and CEO for Dodge and senior vice president of product design for Chrysler, has been with Chrysler since 1992. He’s best known in automotive design as lead designer of the Dodge Charger, Dodge Magnum, and Chrysler 300 sedan. He sat down with at the New York International Auto Show to discuss the future of automotive design.

In November, you unveiled your big plans for Dodge. Among them is a new Charger that is “all new and dramatically styled.” How do you redesign a retro-influenced car?

The current Challenger was designed to be a muscle car but we weren’t outwardly trying to make it retro. The new Charger will be more expressive. It has spent a lot of time in the wind tunnel. It will be more rakish. It’s going to evolve in a beautiful way. It’s a stunner but won’t lose its character. (Ed. note: It’s coming out in the 4th quarter this year.)

What do global car companies mean for American product design? How do we stop the homogenization of American sheet metal?

I’m not really sure there is such a thing as an American car. These are American icons. The 300C is as American as it gets. The Challenger is boldly American – but if you look at the physics, to achieve a certain efficiency there is a massaging of forms. Cars will end up looking alike because of physics. We can do a lot with interiors. The next step will be great American interiors. Dodge is going to enjoy that puzzle. Every Dodge will drip with Americana.


About Boston Overdrive reports the latest trends, auto shows and wrings out the newest cars in our city's hellish maze — and across the great roads of New England.
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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.
In the garage: Hyundai Sante Fe, Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible
Craig Fitzgerald has been writing about cars, motorcycles, and the automotive industry since 1999. He is the former editor of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car.
In the garage: 1968 Buick Riviera, 1996 Buick Roadmaster, 1974 Honda CB450
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.
In the garage: Mazda 5, Dodge Neon
George Kennedy is a senior writer for WheelsTV in Acton, which produces video reviews for Yahoo, MSN, and other auto websites.
In the garage: Lifted 1999 Jeep Cherokee
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