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Odds & Ends: Book Report

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The last open road Author, vintage racer and vehicle enthusiast Burt “BS” Levy gives a fun, fictional account of the American racing industry of the 1950s in his book, the last open road. Originally published in 1994, the last open road is Levy’s first story in a three-novel series of books featuring 19-year-old Buddy Palumbo, a young New Jersey mechanic at Old Man Finzio’s Sinclair gas station in the early 1950s. This “coming of age” novel is set against the backdrop of the wild, glamorous, innocent and dangerous era of open-road sports racing. Readers will enjoy this story as told to us by the blue-collar Palumbo as he discovers the two real loves of his life, Miss Julie Finzio, and, of course, sports car racing. The book is a joy for anyone who loves cars, racing and “the good Œol days” of the 1950s. Readers of the novel will even find themselves laughing out loud at the characters and events created by Levy, who obviously knows what he’s writing about. If you are a fan of classic cars and racing, you’ll have a difficult time putting down the 354-page hardbound copy. Currently selling for $25 a copy, the last open road, published by St. Martins Press, can be ordered from www.lastopenroad.com. It’s a perfect gift for any shop owner, technician or anyone who wants to return to the past and see for themselves what life in our industry was like nearly 50 years ago.

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Coolest Vehicle You Won’t Be Able to Buy

So how did the DaimlerChrysler engineers top their show-stopping concepts and extreme expressions like the Dodge Tomahawk and the Chrysler ME Four-Twelve of years past? With the Jeep Hurricane. Introduced in January at the 2005 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Jeep Hurricane is equipped with two HEMI 5.7L engines ‹ one in the front and one in the back. Both engines deliver 335 horsepower and 370 lb.-ft. of torque – a total of 670 hp and 740 lb.-ft. of torque. The power is delivered through a central transfer case and split axles with a mechanically controlled four-wheel torque distribution system. But wait, it gets better. The Jeep Hurricane features a turn radius of absolutely zero, thanks to skid steer capability and toe steer: the ability to turn both front and rear tires inward. In addition, the vehicle features two modes of automated four-wheel steering. The first is traditional with the rear tires turning in the opposite direction of the front to reduce the turning circle. The second mode is an innovation targeted to off-road drivers: the vehicle can turn all four wheels in the same direction for nimble crab steering. This allows the vehicle to move sideways without changing the direction the vehicle is pointing. But don’t start spinning your wheels to acquire one of these vehicles. Unfortunately, the Jeep Hurricane concept vehicle is expected to stay just that – a concept and not a vehicle Chrysler plans to offer to the masses.


Bye-Bye Bonneville

General Motors Corp. said that it will stop making the Pontiac Bonneville this summer, citing declining sales and changing customer tastes no longer make the nearly half-century old sedan worthwhile. Pontiac added the Bonneville to its product line in 1958, and it was the first Pontiac with fuel injection. Initially available only as a convertible, the model evolved over the years into a roomy family sedan. But as the public’s tastes in family haulers shifted to minivans and sport utility vehicles, Bonneville’s core market evaporated. Nearly 100,000 new Bonnevilles were sold in 1992, but demand fell to 29,852 last year, according to Ward’s Automotive Reports. Sales of the Bonneville peaked at 135,401 units in 1966.
Source: Associated Press

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