Friday Fun: Honouring the first Camaro, a body shop builds a Ghostbuster replica and Tesla goes camping

A replica Ecto-1, currently under construction at West County Auto Body. The facility took on the project to welcome back a staff member recovering from surgery.

By Jeff Sanford 

Toronto, Ontario — August 18, 2016 — This week’s round-up includes the very first Camaro ever built, a shop that build a replica of the Ghostbusters ride to welcome back a staff member from surgery and the group of enthusiasts who are reprogramming their Teslas for “Camper Mode.” 

– Chevrolet Camaro No. 100001 takes a place of honor on Woodward Avenue this week as the massively popular Dream Cruise gets underway. According to a report in the Detroit Free Press, the first Camaro ever built “was secretly put together with handmade parts in a WWII-era warehouse in Norwood, Ohio, almost exactly 50 years ago … The world got its first glimpse Aug. 17, 1966, when the Free Press and other newspapers ran an oh-so-1960s teaser photo of a pretty woman in a top hat, heels and a tuxedo jacket pointing a magic wand at one headlight and the front corner of GM’s new muscle car, developed in haste to compete with the smash-hit Ford Mustang … The car was so completely unknown that a Free Press caption writer advised readers ‘Camaro … which rhymes with arrow.’”

The report quotes Mark Gessler, President of the Historic Vehicle Association, as saying the car launched the Camaro versus Mustang rivalry. “Where better than the Woodward Dream Cruise to bring it home and share it with people? It’s one of the most collectible cars of all time,” said Gessler.

The car will sit in a glass case along Woodward from Wednesday through to the end of the Dream Cruise on Saturday night. The Camaro was lost for decades. According to the article Logan Lawson, a 13-year-old boy living in Hutchinson, Kansas, saw it online. His father judged car shows and “had a collection of Shelby Mustangs he sold during the Great Recession to save Coach Lite Carwash Co., the family business…” The two thought there was something unusual about the Camaro, “but its owner didn’t have the time or resources to research it. He’d lost his job and house and needed money to start a new life.”

– AJ Syed, an auto body specialist in the American south had a heart attack, but didn’t realize it. “I was helping my neighbor putting a fence on and she`s a nurse….she sent me to the doctor to go check your heart. So I went there and they said you had a heart attack last night. I said okay, what should I do? They said surgery.’

To celebrate his return from the brush with death, Rob Terranova, Co-Owner of West County Auto Body, came up with a special project. According to a report from the local Fox affiliate, “a road trip to Arkansas brought back the 1985 Caddy and soon the crew of auto collision specialists at West County Auto Body grabbed their plasma welders and began rebuilding an iconic classic car from film,” a reproduction of “Ecto-1” from the movie Ghostbusters.

“It’s just actually really exciting to get because we work on collision cars all day long,” said Terranova.

-A campsite was reportedly evacuated in New Hampshire recently when more than 80 cars were burned in a fire. Tens of thousands of people had descended on the park for a concert. One of the tightly parked cars caught on fire. The first blaze then spread to dozens of other vehicles.

– The Insurance Bureau of Canada says severe storms that swept across the Prairies last month caused more than $48 million in insured damage.

“Intense thunderstorms produced strong winds, hail, lightning, heavy rain and funnel clouds in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba,” according to a report from the CBC. “Bill Adams, a vice-president with the insurance bureau, said severe storms are happening more often and with greater intensity across the Prairies.”

– Many major media outlets took note that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the US updated a probe of more than 8 million airbag inflators made by ARC Automotive after a driver was killed in Canada when an inflator ruptured in a Hyundai vehicle last month. The investigation covers inflators used by General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors and covers at least 8 million inflators used by the automakers through 2004, but could include newer vehicles, the agency said. Canadian regulators are also investigating.

– Car sales in China shot up by 26.3 percent in July. That month 1.6 million cars were sold in the country. In the first seven months of 2016, sales went up 11 percent to 12.64 million cars. Vehicle sales, commuter cars and business cars are also up to 9.84 percent counting around 14.68 million units in the first seven months. The country is on track to buy more cars than the US again this year. A government policy that cuts the purchase tax on cars with engines smaller than 1.6 liters helped to drive sales.

– A Denver woman reached out to the local television station Fox 31 with a complaint. She said she “received a collections notice for five parking citations, issued while her vehicle was supposed to be in an auto body shop for repairs. ‘They racked up a bunch of tickets and they didn’t even tell me,’ Morgan Brooks said.” The company has seemingly disappeared. The owner of the building said the previous tenants had been evicted for lack of payment.

– A story on Bloomberg News looks at Tesla enthusiasts who have programmed in various versions of “Camper Mode.” According to the report “other electric cars—the Nissan Leaf or BMW i3, for instance—don’t yet have the battery range to drive to a remote destination, park, leave the car’s HVAC system running overnight, and return home.” The Tesla does.

– J.D. Power’s 2016 Vehicle Dependability Study found a 3 percent decline in the reliability of cars and trucks after three years of ownership, with an average 152 problems per 100 vehicles. “There’s no doubt the problems people are finding with their vehicles have increased,’ said Renee Stephens, VP of US Automotive Quality at J.D. Power. “You can tell the consumer is frustrated.”

– Audi is working on a prototype electromechanical rotary damper that would replace the hydraulic dampers used today. The rotors would also produce some electricity. According to the press release, “The principle behind eROT is easily explained: ‘Every pothole, every bump, every curve induces kinetic energy in the car. Today’s dampers absorb this energy, which is lost in the form of heat.” The new electromechanical damper system puts this energy to use, converting the kinetic energy during compression and rebound into electricity.

– Ontario’s auto sector absorbed a far greater economic “wallop” during the financial crisis than the damage low oil prices have inflicted on Alberta according to an “internal federal analysis.” A report from Canadian Press says the February memo, prepared for Labour Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk, “examined the two economic crises after some observers had called on governments to help Alberta’s energy industry — much like the 2009 bailout of the automotive sector.” Some in that province want a similar type of assistance “be made available to support the oil and gas industry,” that was made to Ontario auto makers in 2009. According to the report the federal and Ontario governments “spent a combined $13.7 billion to rescue automakers Chrysler Canada and General Motors Canada from potential bankruptcy. At the time, consumers had difficulty securing car loans because of a credit crunch. Sliding sales stung the car companies, which could no longer generate enough cash to finance their operations. They couldn’t seek help from flagging financial markets, so they knocked on government door.”

– Cell service provider AT&T hired luminary German New Wave film producer Werner Herzog to make a documentary against texting while driving. It’s called From One Second to the Next. It’s powerful. You can check it out in the player below.



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