The Little Blue pill

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Thousands travel to Nebraska for Lambrecht Chevy auction

PIERCE, Neb. (AP) — A handful of barely driven vintage Chevrolets fetched more than half a million dollars on Saturday at an auction that drew thousands of car buffs from around the world to a small northeast Nebraska town.

Bidders and gawkers crowded shoulder-to-shoulder for the auction in a muddy field just west of Pierce, a town of about 1,800. Spectators in helicopters and airplanes circled overhead as the lead auctioneer, Yvette VanDerBrink, inched down the auction line on a wooden platform hauled by a pickup.

Event organizers said an estimated 10,000 people traveled from as far as Norway and Brazil to see the sale in person, and more than 3,800 had registered online to bid at an auction website by mid-day Saturday.

The auction of more than 500 old cars and pickups was expected to continue on Sunday. Organizers said they hadn’t yet totaled the bids for the roughly 50 most high-profile, low-mileageclassic cars and trucks, which were auctioned on Saturday. As of midday, six of the most valuable models had sold for a combined $545,000.

The collection belonged to Ray Lambrecht and his wife, Mildred, who ran a Chevrolet dealership in downtown Pierce for five decades before retiring in 1996. Unlike most dealers, Ray Lambrecht stashed many of his unsold cars in a warehouse, at his farm and other spots around town if they didn’t sell in the first year.

The first vehicle sold — a sky-blue, 1958 Chevy Cameo pickup driven 1.3 miles — secured the largest bid at $140,000. Another bidder spent $97,500 on a red and white 1963 Impala with 11.4 miles on its odometer, the manufacturer’s plastic on the seat and a yellow typewritten window sticker displaying its original price: $3,254.70.

Lyle Buckhouse, a retired farmer from Hankerson, N.D., poked his head Saturday into a 1963Chevy Corvair with 17.2 miles on the odometer. Moments later, the self-proclaimed “Corvair guy” was hunting eagerly for the bidder-registration tent.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Buckhouse said. “That’s why I came down here. You just don’t know what you’re going to see.”

Bob Esler, the owner of Bob’s Garage in Westfield, Ind., bought a four-door 1964 Bel Air station wagon for $30,000. The car had 326 miles.

“This is one of the cars that I had my eyes on,” Esler said, as he leaned against his new purchase. “I want to use it to haul all of my customers around.”

“How are you getting it back home?” a friend asked.

Esler shrugged. “I haven’t figured that out yet,” he said.

Preparations for the two-day auction began in June. VanDerBrink, the auctioneer, said she took calls from as far as Iceland, Singapore and Brazil before the event.

The two least-driven cars, a 1959 Bel Air and a 1960 Corvair Monza, have one mile on their odometer. The oldest vehicle with fewer than 20 miles dates to 1958; the newest is a 1980 Monza with nine miles.

Some bidders used the auction to hunt for rare parts for their collector cars and trucks, while others came to watch the spectacle.

“What drew us here as much as anything was the story,” said Ernie Turcotte, who drove with his son, Jeff, from central Massachusetts to look for fenders and running boards for his 1955 Ford F-100. “I don’t understand how it even happened. But here they are.”

Ray Lambrecht opened the downtown dealership with his uncle in 1946, on the corner of Main Street and Nebraska Highway 13. The U.S. Army veteran quickly established himself as an unusual salesman: He gave his lowest price up front, without negotiation, and encouraged hagglers to try to find a better deal elsewhere.

In 1954, he drove then-Gov. Robert Crosby down Main Street in a parade celebrating the 100-year anniversary of Nebraska as a territory.

The most valuable vehicles were stored for decades at a nearby warehouse, until a heavy snow collapsed the roof. Some were damaged, but many were saved and moved elsewhere. The models at the dealership were among the best preserved, even as the building gave way to bats and holes in the roof.

Ray and his wife, Mildred, retired in 1996. Ray, 95, and Mildred, 92, still live in Pierce, but their health has declined. They decided to sell the collection so others could enjoy the cars and pickups, said their daughter, Jeannie Stillwell, who lives in Florida.

Link to Site:

BMW recalls 134,100 5 Series sedans

The Ultimate Driving Machine is being recalled.

BMW is recalling a 134,100 5 series sedans because the taillights can go on the fritz. The recall involves only the 2008 to 2010 model years of the popular luxury performance sedan.

The problem involves “increased resistance” at electrical contact points in the taillight housings that can cause the taillights to go out, according to the notice on the National Highway Traffic Administtration website. If the resistance becomes a problem, drivers could lose the ability to switch on tailights, brake lights, turn signals or backing lights.


The exact models involved include the 528i, 535i, 550i, and M5.

Rare ’67 Ferrari fetches $27M in auctio

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A rare 1967 Ferrari owned by a North Carolina orphan-turned-millionaire sold at auction for $27.5 million.

This 1967 Ferrari sold at the RM Auction for a record $27.5 million in Monterey, Calif.The red Ferrari was one of only 10 ever built, and its single-family ownership increased interest in the sale, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The owner, the late Eddie Smith, was a former mayor of Lexington, N.C. He died in 2007 at age 88. Since then, the car has been stored in a specially built garage.

“This is a bittersweet moment for us,” Eddie Smith Jr. told a packed crowd before bidding began Saturday. “Ferraris came and went, but this one never went, thank God. We enjoyed it as a family for 45 years.”


The sale of the Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider was handled by RM Auctions in Monterey. N.A.R.T. stands for North American Racing Team, a Ferrari-backed venture created in the late 1950s to promote the brand in the U.S.

Smith Jr. advised the new owner to “drive it, love it, enjoy it, and more importantly share it with others so they can see it.” The auction house has not disclosed the new owner.

The interior is just appealingIn keeping with his father’s philanthropy, the family was giving all proceeds to various charities, Smith Jr. said.

Smith Sr., who became wealthy from a mail-order company he started, was a beloved figure in Lexington. Mayor from 1970 to 1975, he also led hospital, college and chamber of commerce boards.

The avid car enthusiast owned several Ferraris, but the 275 N.A.R.T. Spider was his favorite because he loved the look, sound and feel of it, Smith Jr. told The Dispatch of Lexington.

“Dad wouldn’t want the car to be shut away, he would want it to be enjoyed,” he said. “Even when the value reached went over a million dollars, he would still drive it.”

The 275 N.A.R.T. Spider was featured in the 1968 film The Thomas Crown Affair, theLos Angeles Times reported.

New supercar concept debuts at Pebble Beach

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — As supercars go, it would be hard to find one more stylish than the deeply sculpted Laraki Epitome.

The Laraki is the creation of an Irvine, Calif., based startup founded by yacht and car designer Abdesslam Laraki. He was outside the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance here trying drum up interest in his idea for a supercar.

The Laraki Epitome  was on display at the Pebble Beach Concours D'Elegance in Pebble  Beach, Calif.

The Laraki would be built around a 7-liter, twin-turbocharged V-8 engine producing anywhere from 1,001 to 1,750 horsepower. That automatically puts it the same league as a Bugatti Veyron.

The body would be made entirely of carbon fiber with an aluminum chassis. Priced at $2 million, Laraki envisions building nine of his supercars, two at a time plus one.

“The reaction is more than encouraging no one is expecting it,” Laraki says.

Which are the Top 5 cheapest cars over five years

They won’t exactly sets hearts aflame with envy, but some of the most common compact and midsize cars are also the best value in the market when ownership over five years is taken into consideration, a car website says.

The study by takes a list of costs into account, including taxes. loans, down payment, insurance and fuel, not just sales price.

When it’s counted the way, the Toyota Corolla or Matrix emerged as the cheapest-to-own costs over five years with a cost of $41,281. It’s followed by Honda Civic, $43,714; Nissan Altima, $47,054; and Honda Accord., $48,081.

Smart idea. It’s too easy to look at price tags on sales lots these days without considering the full cost of owning a car. Those that are easy on fuel, cheap to fix and reliable to being with are always going to be the best bargains.

Corvette Stingray good for 455 hp, most ever

Chevrolet says the 2014 Corvette Stingray has more standard power than any Corvette ever.

The LT1, 6.2-liter V-8 is rated 455 horsepower and 460 pounds-feet of torque, up from the 2013’s 430 hp and 424 lbs.-ft. With the optional high-performance exhaust system, the 2014 Stingray is 460 hp and 465 lbs.-ft.

That power and lightweight technology that went into the new Corvette should result in acceleration from a standing start to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds, Chevy says — almost frighteningly quick.

For drivers not compelled to exercise all that power, the Vette is expected to 26 mpg on the highway.

The 2014 Corvette Stingray coupe, starting at $51,995 including shipping, is due at dealers this fall. A convertible version is to follow by year’s end

Toyota tops BMW as world’s top auto brand

Toyota has passed BMW in a ranking of the world’s most valuable brands.

The list was put together by a keeper of such scores called Brandz.

But it’s no time for celebration if you’re in the auto industry. Auto brands lag far behind other sectors, especially technology, on the Brandz Top 100 list. For instance, the top three places on the list belong to tech companies — Apple, Google and IBM. How auto brands fared:

  • Toyota ranks 23rd on the list with an estimated brand value of $24.5 billion. Toyota’s value rose 12% last year, the study find and it moved up five notches. It’s a sign that the brand has recovered from some huge setbacks, like its quality fiasco amid questions about unintended acceleration a couple of years ago.

  • BMW was right behind in 24th place, with $24 billon in value, which declined by 2% in the past year. It fell one place on the list.

  • Mercedes-Benz is ranked 43rd, its value up 11% with $18 billion in value and three places higher on the list.

  • Honda is 71st, down 2% with $12.4 billion in value and down a whopping six places on the list.

  • Nissan is No. 86, with $10.2 billion in value, up 3% in value and off by five places over last year.

  • Volkswagen squeaks in at 100th place. The brand is valued at $8.7 billion, up 3%. but it still feel four places.

Test Drive: New Nissan Sentra no fun to drive

James R. Healey, USA TODAY2:21 p.m. EDT April 27, 2013

The overhauled 2013 Nissan Sentra isn’t as ugly outside as the previous version.

High-end Sentra models have nicely finished interiors.

Navigation is only $650, instead of being available only as part of a $2,000 to $3,000 package, in the way most car companies force-feed their buyers.

Bluetooth, in models where it’s available, does a commendable job finding and making friends with your phone, as well as accessing the music you might have stored there.

There’s more space inside than you’d expect in a compact sedan, especially for rear-seat riders.

The trunk’s bigger than it used to be and more accessible.

Prices are lower than some rivals’ stickers.

Those are solid attributes of the car, which went on sale last October, replacing a Sentra that seemed 100 years old, though Nissan insists it was only six.

MORE : Nissan recalls Altimas for spare tire defect

But they aren’t compelling attributes. Nothing to match, say, Hyundai Accent’s sexy styling, Ford Focus’ Euro-crisp handling, Honda Civic’s seemingly indestructible reputation — despite Civic’s horrible stumbles on the 2012 redesign that had to be fixed fast for 2013.

And whatever allure Sentra’s attributes have is seriously undercut by a dreadful drivetrain and front seats that have lumbar bulges tailored by a sadist, with no adjustment knob or lever to moderate the pain.

Physiques differ, of course, and yours might fit the seats better. But it seems plain wrong to give you no lumbar adjustment in a car that the automaker says is meant to draw more upscale buyers — more like the ones you’d see hovering around Civics in a Honda showroom. The ones who like a premium touch or two and come from households averaging $70,000 annually or so, instead of Sentra’s $50,000-$60,000 range.

Never mind whether the other guys let you manipulate the seat’s bulge (Civic doesn’t). It’s the right thing to do. And Sentra’s redesign could have incorporated the feature during development at low cost, and thus one-upped rivals.

Likewise, it seems incorrect not to offer a power seat at any price. Or not to have Bluetooth standard.

And mileage-madness is insufficient reason to cut power and refinement from the greasy parts that make the car go.

The 2013 Sentra is hobbled with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder rated 130 horsepower and 128 pounds-feet of torque. The 2012 had a 2-liter four-banger good for 140 hp, 147 lbs.-ft. That car weighed 100-plus pounds more, but still seemed to scoot a little better than the new one.

New one has a better miles-per-gallon rating: 30 to 34 in city/highway mix, vs. predecessor’s 27 or 30.

But it’s not worth the compromise in driving feel.

The new engine is done no favors by Nissan’s beloved CVT — continuously variable-ratio automatic transmission — which sends the already coarse-voice powerplant into paroxysms of amplified strain when the driver asks to accelerate.

A CVT under throttle revs the engine high and keeps it there until the car sort of catches up. A normal automatic, a good one, steps elegantly through gear ratios, allowing engine speed to rise and fall as the driver’s right foot commands.

Ah, you say, but the CVT surely must be why the new Sentra engine uses less fuel. Nope. The previous one was saddled with a CVT as well.

The test car recorded a decent mileage reading, by Test Drive’s lead-foot standards, in the mid-20s. But in large part that was because the Sentra was just no fun to drive briskly. The unpleasant underhood complaints discouraged enthusiasm.

If you drive especially gently, and engine noise is a price you’ll pay for better mpg, and you’re willing to buy an up-level version of Sentra to get the good interior and the navi and the Bluetooth, then the new Sentra might seem a solid partner.

But it’s disappointing to have to portray it thus.

Nissan has seemed distinctive, in the way Chrysler always has, by being feistier, more fun, more roguish than the bigger makers.

Nissan gave us the Datsun 510 sedan in the late 1960s, regarded at the time as “a poor man’s BMW.” It delivered to our shores the 1970 Datsun 240Z, an affordable and sophisticated sports car.

More recently, Nissan gave us Porsche 911 performance for half the price in the GT-R. Its Leaf battery car, while not everybody’s path to bliss, blazes new trails.

So it’s sad to see Nissan backing away from the edge as it does with the 2013 Sentra.

Cars should be safe, of course, but the next priority should be that they are fun and satisfying to drive. Sentra isn’t.

The overhauled 2013 Nissan Sentra is much more attractive than the previous version.

The overhauled 2013 Nissan Sentra is much more attractive than the previous version.


What? Remake of front-drive, four-door compact, to be more competitive with Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra and the like.

When? On sale since October.

Where? Made at Aguascalientes, Mexico.

How much? From $16,780, including shipping for base S model with six-speed manual, to $23,490 for SL top model with all factory options. Nissan dealer accessories add another $1,690. High-end SL test car — leather, navigation, alloy wheels — was $22,400.

Special FE fuel-economy models go into production in December and will be $400 more than similar non-FE. You get 1 mile per gallon more on the highway; Nissan gets to advertise a 40-mpg car.

What makes it go? 1.8-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine rated 130 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, 128 pounds-feet of torque at 3,600 rpm. Base S has manual transmission; others have automatic continuously variable-ratio transmission (CVT).

How big? Similar to Civic, Corolla. The Sentra is 182.1 inches long (182.5 in. SR sport model), 69.3 in. wide, 58.9 ion. tall on a 106.3-in. wheelbase. Weighs 2,822 to 2,851 lbs. Rated to carry about 900 lbs. of people, cargo, accessories, depending on model. People space, 95.9 cubic feet. Trunk, 15.1 cu. ft. Turning circle diameter 34.8 ft.

How thirsty? Manual transmission rated 27 miles per gallon in the city, 36 mpg on the highway, 30 mpg in city/highway mix. CVT rated 30/39/34. FE fuel-economy model will be rated 30/40/34. Test car trip computer registered 26.3 mpg or 3.8 gallons per 100 miles, in normal suburban driving because it wasn’t much fun to drive vigorously. Burns regular, holds 13.2 gallons.

Overall: Coarse drivetrain, back-breaking seats kill the appeal.

Ford marks millionth Mustang

Alisa Priddle, Detroit Free Press6:41 p.m. EDT April 17, 2013

DETROIT — Ford marked the production of 1 million Mustangs on Wednesday in Flat Rock, while workers ran two prototypes of the Fusion sedan through the plant’s new body and paint shops.

Flat Rock is a beehive of activity as the plant formerly operated jointly by Mazda and Ford reinvents itself as part of Ford’s $555 million investment.

The plant has about 1,700 employees, including about 200 new hires so far who will be part of the 1,400 on the second shift that will start making Fusions in late August.

But Wednesday was about the Mustang, which was introduced 49 years ago in New York.

To mark the occasion, Raj Nair, head of global product development, rode a ruby red 2014 Mustang convertible off the line while employees joined in the celebration.

Flat Rock has been making the Mustang since 2004. Before that, the pony car was assembled at the company’s Rouge complex in Dearborn.

Nair would not say when the new Mustang will go on sale, but the sixth-generation muscle car will be ready for its 50th anniversary next year. A special edition model could also help mark the milestone.

The new Mustang will be a global vehicle, with some slated for export to Europe. Nair said it will not be changed — other than to meet different regulatory requirements — to meet European tastes.

On Wednesday, workers built the second and third Fusion prototypes, two of 20 test vehicles assembled in a training exercise. Workers look for and fix any bugs in the process. The Fusions are the first cars to come out of a 260,000-square-foot expansion that includes a body shop. Workers also are testing a new paint process.

The next-generation Mustang and Fusion will share the new body shop and paint process, said plant manager Tim Young.

Extra workers are not needed for Mustang production next year.

Young said the plant will have the flexibility to adjust the mix of Mustangs and Fusions according to customer demand.

The new body shop has the flexibility to build up to six models. Ford’s longer-term plan is to shift Ford Taurus and Lincoln MKS production to the plant from Chicago. The next-generation of the full-size cars will share underpinnings with the Fusion.

The plant opened in 1987 as a joint venture known as AutoAlliance International. Mazda stopped making vehicles in Michigan in August and Ford assumed full management control at Flat Rock.

The financial unwinding of the joint venture should be complete by mid-2015, Young said