Bullitt on the Big Screen in the Rain in a Mustang

Yes, it’s true I’m a car lover.  

Why else would I be writing to you via my JulesOnWheelz.net Blog!  

Being a car lover should not be confused with loving being in a car…for too long…nine hours to be exact.  This is the preface to my story today…yes it’s true.

Driving from Kentucky to Michigan is anything but scenic, but there are the skylines of Indianapolis and Detroit that rise from the rubble to proudly display their splendor.  

Soooooo, “Why” might be one of the words that pass across your lips…well…remember I’m a car lover.  The Woodward Dream Cruise called my name and I came.

Like Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, advertise it and they will come.  Thousands upon thousands of cars and car lovers descend on the State of Michigan every year.  So here I am.

My reward tonight, at 8 pm sharp, was the luxury of sitting front row in a brand new 2019 Mustang GT convertible as my movie post for the showing of “Bullitt” starring Steve McQueen.  Ford’s clever event drew a small crowd due to rain showers but as the film started the sun was setting and putting on a show all her own.

rainy sunset on Woodward

As dusk settled, there he was…Steve McQueen.  Heart-throb, idol, racer, actor. His baby blues and that turtleneck a snippet of American culture to stand the test of time.       

Girls loved him, guys wanted to BE him. It really didn’t matter what Frank Bullitt’s profession was, he was cool already.  Add to that, JJZ 109 and a chase scene up and down the hills of San Francisco and you’ve got a hit!  

RDR 838 didn’t have a chance.  So many hub caps, so little time.

As I lounged in the lap of luxury, the sprinkles started.  To the rescue were Ford team members to bring up the top and windows to protect me and the supple leather beneath.  Ironically, Steve McQueen was fresh out of the shower as I looked through raindrops on the windshield…he and I both were a bit damp.  

309131D9-C9D5-4539-96F9-646716B86FA7

My cocoon was complete as darkness fell.  As Ford paid attention to detail by providing in-car stereo sound of the movie, I was drawn to details about the movie that might just pass by others…this should not surprise you if you’ve been a loyal follower…details are my game.  

Steve McQueen’s shoes are one such example.  Characterized as one with “delicate feet”, those wraparound style tobacco brown suede chukka-style ankle boots looked like he was ready for winter…not a sunny San Fran afternoon.  The turtleneck and tweed blazer completed the look, I guess Steve could handle the heat.

The second and less famous chase scene put those toes to the test. Running past airplanes on the Tarmac, through grass and yes, through the airport, made for an ending to remember.  

He was a tree-hugger before his time…those shoes were also featured in his other movies, “The Thomas Crown Affair” and “Papillion”.  Their sturdy English construction paid off in the end.  I guess that’s enough about shoes, I’m not Imelda Marcos.

Pony emblem screen

As I said above, Steve is the ultimate man, he could make burlap look good, and the Mustang isn’t bad either!

He schooled us all on parallel parking, BTW.

I’m looking forward to seeing that 1968 Ford Mustang 390 GT 2 + 2 Fastback tomorrow.  

Would have loved to see Steve too, but we all know he’ll be there in spirit.

Maybe he will whisper “shotgun” on the way home…

Epitome of Elegance – A Day at the Concours

*WARNING* Elegant photos of automobiles displayed in a beautiful setting present in this post.  Prepare to spend some time gawking…

Elegance, it’s a lost art.  Men in suits, ladies in dresses and hats.  Seems we have reserved this elegance for Wall Street and the Kentucky Derby alone, but pulling out all the stops, I present to you the Epitome of Elegance…The Concours d’Elegance of America.

A few fancy dresses, hats and a sea of blue sport coats were definitely present, but it was the cars that brought the elegance to the Inn at St. John’s this past Sunday in Plymouth, Michigan.

Normally I would be in attendance at a venue like this for the golf, but to my pleasure I was beckon come for an award, an Automotive Heritage Journalism Award.  Honored and humbled, this event started my day with a bang.  Friends and family flanked the Brembo tent table to cheer on their favorite blogger.

2018 AHJA JulesOnWheelz

Jules and Steve Purdy

Veteran journalist and Chief Judge Gary Witzenberg did the honors.  Organizer Steve Purdy was on hand for an “atta boy” as well.  Check “award-winning blogger” off my bucket list.  Now, enough about me…let’s get to the cars!

They started to roll in at 6 am.  Fresh from the media table, I with my treasured award and media credential around my neck proudly, moseyed down the course towards delight.  Arranged over three long fairways, the green velvet underfoot gave a cool layer to the ankles as I watched the owners prepping for the day with fevered brows.

1958 Pontiac Parisienne Convertible by GM

Ahh the smell of Meguiar’s and turf in the morning.  As the sunrise cut through the cloud of polish it was prime time for exhibitors to take one last look around the show…the calm before the storm.  The grown-up amusement park was soon to open.

From find to famous, some entries were fully restored.  Scrapbooks with pictures of every stage of resolution were proudly shown.  One that stood out was a car that was almost completely destroyed and saved by local Detroit businessman Jim George, seen in the background of this photo below.

Jules and 1958 Bentley SI Continental Drophead Coupe

More details to come in a future post, but know that this bullet ridden, gutted, rust heap made its way to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance for its cotillion in 2017.

Divided into classes like Jazz Age, American Post War, and Modern Collectibles, each car is judged by an esteemed group of car experts in blue sport coats.  They stroll the fairway with clipboards crowning “best-in-class” which then move onto the “best-in-show” competition.  Ribbons appear on the windshield later in the day.

I’m able to spot Wayne Carini from the Velocity Channel’s show Chasing Classic Cars, whom I met on Saturday, scoping the merchandise.  I continue to be impressed with Wayne as he strolled leisurely amongst the bevy of beauties. Later he would gladly pose for a picture with my family as he is one to encourage the young who are interested in cars.  *See teenagers in photo below.  **Yes, teenage girls.

Mornings with Wayne

Now…find a comfy seat and settle in…

I don’t apologize for the number…narrowing was never my strong suit, the more the merrier.

1958 Edsel Pacer Convertible
1958 Edsel Pacer Convertible
1958 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner Retractable
1958 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner Retractable
1937 Bugatti T57S Coupe 2
1937 Bugatti T57S Coupe Owned by 2018 Distinguished Judge Keith Crane
1937 Bugatti T57S Coupe
more of the 1937 Bugatti T57S
1915 Stanley Mountain Wagon
1915 Stanley Mountain Wagon
1939 Bugatti T57 Cabriolet by Letourneur
1939 Bugatti T57 Cabriolet by Letourneur
Bugatti racer
Bugatti racer
Bugatti emblem hood ornament
Bugatti hood emblem
57 Lancia and 50 Aston Martin
Left – 1950 Aston Martin DB2 Coupe, Right – 1957 Lancia B24S Convertible
1957 Lancia B24S Convertible by Pinin Farina
1957 Lancia B24S Convertible by Pinin Farina
1950 Aston Martin DB2 Coupe
1950 Aston Martin DB2 Coupe
1950 Aston Martin DB2 Coupe front
more 1950 Aston Martin DB2 Coupe
Minty Fresh
1947 Deleheye 135M Cabriolet by Henri Chaprone
Mercedes
Mercedes
Lovely Lady RR
Rolls Royce
1958 Ford Thunderbird Roadster
1958 Ford Thunderbird Roadster
1962 Sunbeam 11 by Thomas Harrington
1962 Sunbeam 11 by Thomas Harrington

Flip ups

King rat and The Judge

Whew! Ending with a King is appropriate.

The bridge from found to famous, barn find to blue ribbon is paved with mystery.  The story is the treasure.

Get out to a concours someday, you just may pick up something more than a sunburn.

Maybe even an elegant award.

Title photo:  1966 Bosley Interstate MKII 2-door Coupe by Carrozzeria Bosley

Cars, Coffee and Carini

The sun arose to greet the loyal enthusiasts early Saturday in Pure Michigan.  A day had come for car lovers all over the midwest to show their wares, drool over their hopes, and appreciate the one and only Concours d’Elegance of America.

Michigan sign

A bevy of volunteers shine every year and for the past 40 in Plymouth to make sure everything goes off without a hitch.  Park here, eat there, show there, you get my drift. Over three hundred beloved beauties would be showing up shortly to be judged on their merits and loved by their fans…but that would happen on Sunday.  

Hagerty sales

Today is Saturday.  No fanfare, no judging, some polishing (diapers included) and just plain showing off.  Buy your “Shift Happens” and “Three Pedals No Problem” t-shirts at the Hagerty booth. 

The venue, The Inn at St. John’s. Today is no wedding but for many of those present, they’re married to their cars.

The stage set, I start my cruise around the asphalt…wondering what treasures I’ll find…that’s the fun.

Cars, check. Coffee (sponsored by Biggby Coffee), check. Donuts, check.  Here are just a few of the well-loved autos on display…Hagerty played a big part as a major sponsor as well as Car and Driver and M1Concourse.

Jules in Hagerty

Hagerty’s Classic Car Ride and Drive was a chance to drive/ride in a classic.  15 minutes in one of these and I’m hooked. Hagerty is happy to help me insure it, it’s their specialty.

CCC classic

“The Judge” – can you find the diaper in the picture above? lol

CCC Mustang (1)

CCC Mustang

Bullitt fuel cover

2001 Bullitt Mustang CCC

CCC Mustang interior

Bullitt fuel cover 2

2017 Bullitt CCC

Green car guys were ecstatic…Mustangs galore…Bullitts anyone?

I’ve never seen so much Highland Green in my life!

CCC Dodge SRT

CCC fire engine.JPEG

Every show brings a few unique looks…a shoe salesman from Arizona used this truck for his business before a local Detroiter got his hands on it.

My stroll through the maze begins to slow as the sun rises high in the sky.  The witching hour approaches. “The One That Got Away” seminar is being hosted by Hagerty.  Their featured panelist, none other than Wayne Carini himself from Velocity Channel’s Chasing Classic Cars, will be in attendance. 

Also present on the panel, Jeff Lane of Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, TN, and Dave Kinney writer at Automobile Magazine.

A chance to meet Wayne highlights my trip to automobile Mecca.  

Hagerty’s Brad Philips did a great job of moderating the gathering of over 300 in the Judea Room of The Inn.  Slides were shown of cars that each of the guests had owned.

Their happiness/regret was highlighted by showing what they paid for the car and then what it would be worth now if they had kept it.  Sounds simple right…boring…NO WAY! 

Responsible for valuations was Vice President of Valuation Services Brian Rabold from Hagerty. His comedic anecdotes meant to stir conversation from the panel, worked like a charm.  The all-too-familiar PowerPoint format came to life.

Stories, it’s always the stories, that win the day.  Hearing each account of purchase, circumstance, and thought process was fascinating.  Most of us have an epiphany of some sort as we recall our past choices. These accounts were laden with them.  First cars, mid-life crisis cars, sentimental cars, the list goes on. Some are still owned to this day and bring pleasure to families and friends.  Some tax the owner so, they are happy to see them leave the garage.

The oohs, the ahhhs.  All expressed sincerely, by both crowd and panel.

Wrapping up the almost one hour presentation was a Q & A session.  One guest wanted to know what to buy.  The comment was made by the panel, “are you a polisher or a driver”?  Chuckles radiated through the room like spectators doing the wave at a baseball game. 

Polisher? Buy a car that runs well.  The latter…get your on-board toolkit ready and snatch up one of those hard to fix, but really awesome to drive, barn finds.

Jules and Wayne Carini wide

After meeting Wayne in person, I can understand why he’s so successful.  Those piercing blue eyes, that moustache and every hair in place, but as personable as you could ask for.  He exudes kindness and never refuses a fan photo-op.

As you can see above…I took my opportunity.

I walk away from this Saturday in July realizing again that cars bring us together.

I’m glad to be part of this culture…It makes me happy.

So did Wayne.

 

All You Need in the All-New Ford EcoSport

Needs. Wants.

Your parents (if you were lucky) explained the difference between these two words to you at a young age.  Usually it was defined as a battle.  Good vs. evil.  Day vs. night.  Self-sufficient vs. in debt.

Not so with the all-new Ford EcoSport.  It’s everything you need and all you could want in a sub-compact utility vehicle.

Starting at just $19,995 the EcoSport fits the bill for anyone looking for a car-like feel with the capacity of an SUV.  Trims include the S, SE, SES, and Titanium edition topping out with a starting price of $25,880.

Seeing is believing.

paint pallette and EcoSport.jpeg

The EcoSport greets its drivers with grace and style.  Artful lines and balanced curves give it a universal appeal.  It paints a picture of capability to perform in all venues and carries itself well, just like all the cargo that fits in it’s up to 50 cu. ft. of space with back seats down. A 60/40 split accommodates one more passenger as long as they don’t mind snuggling up to cargo.

A swinging rear tailgate takes a bit of getting used to, but as long as there is sufficient surrounding space, its easy to operate and a refreshing difference in the class.

Cargo in EcoSport

rear door EcoSport

Driver and front seat passenger will enjoy dimensions found in larger SUVs with all controls conveniently close.  Ford’s SYNC® 3 connects via an available 8-in. touchscreen.

I became a fan of the bold orange accents in the EcoSport I drove.  Add the ability to change between 10 different settings of ambient light and you’re ready to start your own party.

dash EcoSport

interior front EcoSport

back seat EcoSport

Ford’s partnership with Amazon’s Alexa voice control via SYNC® 3 through AppLink® connects home to auto providing voice navigation, traffic, over 30,000 skills, Amazon Prime Shopping and connects with Smart Home devices. Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™ chime in as well.

BTW, don’t shop while driving.

I just had to get that in.

I must be channeling Captain Obvious.

Make the downloads complete in the App Store by clicking on FordPass™ to find, reserve, and pay for parking, and compare fuel prices along your journey.  Get specific vehicle info and schedule service at your fingertips while gaining the ability to lock, unlock, and remotely start your vehicle if it is equipped with that option.

riverboat and EcoSport

Cruising around town you will enjoy the “Sport” of the EcoSport with its 1.0 L EcoBoost® engine marked with 123 horsepower @6000 RPMs.  “Eco” votes tally up with its 27/29 mpg coming standard in the S, SE and Titanium trims.

The SES boasts a fulfilling 2.0 L Ti-VCT, 4-cylinder direct injection engine (I-4), six-speed automatic with Select Shift and Intelligent 4WD. Just a few mpgs are sacrificed with its 23/29 mpg rating.  The 25 combined mpg is exactly what I clocked within my touring duration.

P.S. The 166 horsepower @ 6500 RPMs in the SES is nothing to shake a stick at…

The EcoSport brings to the table some of the best safety features Ford has to offer.  Traction Control and Stop/Start engine aspects are adjustable via buttons on the console when equipped with 4WD.

start stop trac control EcoSport

Seating for five and their safety is prioritized with driving aides like a rear view camera, Blind Spot Information System (BLIS®), and cross-traffic alert.

3 diamonds and EcoSport

Ford’s Advance Trac®, Roll Stability Control™ (RSC) and Hill Start Assist bring control with comfort and provide a pleasant ride experience for everyone, be it teenagers, new families or seniors looking for something a little smaller than the standard SUV while never compromising style.

tile alcove and EcoSport

With all of that said…

Columbia Theater and EcoSport

1903 pictured the beginning of a legacy at the Ford Motor Company.  115 years of having a corner on the automobile market like no other, is still in their blood.

Customer driven, Ford and it’s “no compromise” attitude have provided generations with the transportation they need and all the options and style they want.

Everything you need and all you could want…

They better add mind-reading to their resume’.

Add $995 for destination.

#CAS18 Solace—Part Two

Continuing with the great events available at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show…lets talk favorites.  Parents say they don’t have favorites, but the kids know different.  Identifying a favorite can be frustrating because “they all taste good”.  Your favorite vacation spot?  Usually the beach or the mountains…maybe even Chicago in the winter?  Nah…

Recalling favorites make certain times of our lives richer.  Premiere sponsor of the Chicago Auto Show, State Farm, is tapping in to those memories to bring attendees  to their interactive “State Farm Garage” exhibit.

500_logo-03

Engrave your own custom key-chain.  Share your favorite memories of cars.  Snap a car photo of yourself and add it to a giant “mosaic” screen.  Favorites galore…thanks State Farm!

Finally, the Grand Concourse will be home to the State Farm “Here to Help Center” staffed with State Farm representatives available to answer questions as well.

Making the Chicago Auto Show as interactive as possible brings consumers out of the shadows and into the spotlight.  State Farm is following suit…it may just end up being one of your “favorite” stops!

Find Mid-Winter Solace at the Chicago Auto Show 2018

Winter in the Midwest brings its own set of rules.  Must warm up the car. Must shovel the snow. Must salt the sidewalk.  Must wear layers upon layers of clothing to survive outside.  Must make-up snow days.  Well…add to that…Must have some indoor fun!

The perfect venue is coming up in less than two weeks.  The Chicago Auto Show 2018 is gearing up to be the mid-winter event everyone will be attending.  Other shows have “warmed-up” consumers for the nation’s largest auto show that has been entertaining and informing attendees for over 100 years.

36 manufacturers and over 1000 vehicles are making their way towards McCormick Place, the Chicago Auto Show’s longtime home, as we speak.  Get ready for over-the-top displays, drive experiences, and social media blitzing February 10-19, 2018.

Cars.com is a premier partner and will power BUZZHUB which is a 21ft wall of social media genius that will track trends on Twitter, provide photo opportunities with the show’s hashtag #CAS18 and enlarged Instagram frame.  It will feature live radio broadcasts and voting kiosks for “Best in Show”.  (NOTE:  If you don’t know anything about what I’ve said in this paragraph, just find a teenager, they’ll explain it.  Bring them to the show!)

Attachment-1 (1)
Photo courtesy of The Chicago Auto Show

Plan on spending some time at the show.  Don’t rush.  Spend the day(s) enjoying all the things that transportation and technology have to offer.  You’ll be surprised every time.

Take it from a longtime attendee and now a media member…its an experience you won’t forget…and you don’t have to wear a coat or shovel snow while you’re there!

More to come from your favorite blogger soon…tune into my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts…JulesOnWheelz

 

 

Loving the Lag…Racing the Day Away @ Autobahn CC

Time. It’s precious.  We never seem to have enough.  Can’t seem to see where it goes.  Its ability to fly especially when “having fun”, miraculous.

The thought of driving finely tuned machines around a closed track seems like a great way to spend a few hours on a Saturday right?  Well…wow…just wow.  What an understatement!

My time at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, IL turned from a desire to fulfillment the last day of September 2017.  The “Autobahn Experience” was one of the many events available for non-members to attend at the 1 1/2 mile track just southwest of Chicago.  Enthusiasm for sport isn’t limited to just golf for many.  Corporate events, member race clubs, instruction and race certification are all benefits of the Autobahn CC for auto enthusiasts.  Feeding their love of autos drives members to construct “garagemahals” to store their beauties and  may include a luxury condo.  Can you say infinity pool?  Yes…it’s coming.

Join Autobahn CC
Photo by Jules Stayton

On-site garages can design and build your race car for less than a set of Maserati ceramic brakes.  Mazda Miatas are the most popular.  Give them a call and they will have your car ready for racing when you arrive.

I’m amazed at the hum as I sit in the pre-driving instructional session with Brad Beall.  A Vietnam Veteran, Brad joined the Autobahn CC at its inception 13 years ago.   He started instructing that very first weekend and has ever since.  A Porsche 911 SC was his car of choice as he started racing at Autobahn CC.  Fellow drivers saw opportunity with SCCA spec Miatas which grew to over 30 in his tenure on track.

Brad Beall
Brad Beall, photo by Jules Stayton

Drawn by an opportunity to assist his son at Tailwinds Distilling he retired his Miata after six years.  Having driven just about everything, the Porsche 918 is boss of the money list and for driving pleasure the McLaren 650S soars to the top of the chart.  His instruction wasn’t brief, but a top-notch simplified set of tips and physical illustrations on how to be successful on track:

1.  SLOW DOWN.

2.  Turn at the right spot.

3.  Hit the apex.

4.  Stay off the gas.

5.  Stay off the grass.

Going fast has its own set of rules and when abided by, delightful things happen.  Brad blended physics with fun and cautions with comedy.  The stage was set.

Audi TT
Audi TT Turbo,  photo by Jules Stayton

First up…the Audi TT Turbo.

The testosterone was flowing in the all male group, save yours truly, as Brad asked for a volunteer to go on the first run.  Cement shoes seemed to be the fashion trend for all, save moi, who quickly raised her hand and stepped forward with confidence.  “I came here to drive, let’s go!”  Blazing my own trail–that’s my style and one brave soul broke free of the concrete to be my driving partner.  Thank God for Lloyd.

Slipping into the cockpit of the red wonder spurred excitement.  I thanked Lloyd for being brave enough to ride shotgun and we were off.

Audi Q5

The cone-laden path drawn on the lot beckoned come and we did.  Swerving side to side on our practice run with Brad in the Audi Q5 was replaced with speed in the TT Turbo.  The lag was acknowledged and modified for.  Our run was clean and decent time-wise.  Now for the real thing.  Each driver had two tries and then switched.  This happened three times through the nine drivers present in our group.  The other nine had started on the track.  Winning times were in the mid-20s and I ended with a respectable 26.73 seconds…I kept up with the boys nicely.

Helmet in hand, the next leg of the journey began on the track.  Autobahn sported a winning lineup of rockets ready and able to entertain us for the next couple hours.

Waving me towards him, my newly minted driving partner Lloyd chose our first beauty…the Lexus LC 500.  I had seen this car in the lineup and it was one of the first I’d hoped to drive.  Lloyd and I, drawing from the same karma, claimed it for our own. Its sleek black lines and massive hood drew us in like a moth to the light…buckled in, our adventure began.

Handling like a dream I snaked along with the pace car and four others.  Brad’s tips fresh in my mind, I managed to hit the apex of most every turn and stay off the grass.  Staying off the GAS proved to be a bit more challenging as the Lexus was so responsive to my requests.  Its cockpit-like feel hugged my body and allowed my focus to be on operating the tight track rather than managing the speedometer.  The Lexus LC 500 fulfilled my mind’s-eye vision of balance and form…what a wonderful start.  What’s next?

Lexus LS500
Lexus LC 500, Photo by Jules Stayton

The BMW M6 made its presence known now.  A bit tighter feel and staccato in response in comparison to the LC 500, but still a contender in its own right.  Being a sedan, it was higher and the sway more distinct in the turns.  Adjusting for this variation after a few tire squeals made for a rewarding entry into my M6 playbook.

Rounding out the third rocket on the race track was another Lexus.  The RC F wormed its blue hue into my heart immediately.  Both coupes from Lexus were a pleasure but this one was heaven.  Sport seating enveloped me with a firm but comfortable position that allowed for ultimate control.  Having driven the LC 500, it gave me a preview of what the capabilities of this roadster might hold.

I was pleased with the best being last.  Appreciation abounded for the RC F’s balance, responsiveness and eager to please symphony of technology at my fingertips.  Never was a motorcar more adored on a day filled with curves than the Lexus RC F in my driving diary.  It’s secrets revealed, the Lexus brand scurried up the ladder to being one of my favorite all-time drives thus far.  What a great buggy it was!

Lexus RC F
Lloyd and the Lexus RC F, photo by Jules Stayton

For the average Joe, or Josephine in my case, spinning around the same track over and over again might seem monotonous.  But tripping the light-fantastic in those finely tuned machines rates right up there with some of the most exciting, seat-of-the pants experiences I’ve had this side of Heaven.  It was definitely worth the helmet head…

Keep drivin’…

Autobahn Jules at sunset