Category Archives: Fun Stuff

Here contributing editor Paul Daniel blogs about just anything that’s on his mind about cars or maybe something else. Fun Stuff.

This hot wheels car is da bomb!

It was 1996 when we built the house we’re in now and had one big decision. Go to New Orleans to watch the Packers beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl or use that money to put in a Jacuzzi®. Well since going to the game would have been cool, it would only have been cool for a while, the Jacuzzi® would be with us for years.

I love taking what I call a “swirly”. Don’t read anything special into that word, it’s just warm water, jets, and something to make my skin feel silky smooth. It really relaxes me. Recently, I found a way to combine water jets and cars. For my birthday, my wife and daughter gave me a couple of Hot Wheels™ Da Bomb Bath Fizzers.

A quick look at the packaging and you might think that they are just regular bath fizzers with the Hot Wheels™ logo slapped on them. I plopped it onto the warm water and as it dissolved it revealed what else but a car. It’s made out of plastic and is about an inch long. It has a spring motor in it so if you hold it down and reverse it, the car will move forward on its own. Hot Wheels™ finds yet another way to reach new audiences and I love it.

The fizzers come in three colors, yellow, red, and blue and you should not have to pay more than seven or eight bucks for them. There are some places that are charging more. Go figure, price gouging on kids’ stuff. I thought that only happened when hot new cars come out.

Back to a time when American motors built cars worldwide

The Concord with a side of rice and beans

 

France, Germany, Iran, New Zealand, South Africa, and England all at one time manufactured Jeeps, Javelins, Americans, Hornets and more through partnerships put together by AMC’s E-VP, International Operations Roy D. Chapin Jr. One of those unique partnerships was set up about 2,000 south of the company’s major assembly operation, Kenosha, WI, in Mexico with Vehiculos Automotores Mexicanos, S.A.

For 40 years, this government-controlled company imported and produced automobiles and light trucks under license from Willys, AMC, Eagle, Jeep, Chrysler, Renault and designed their own vehicles based on AMC platforms.

Photo: Wiki Commons

One of the more interesting cars they designed and produced was the VAM Lerma, a cross between the Concord and Spirit. It was available as a three-door or a five-door hatchback, something not available on AMC cars built in Kenosha. It was named after Lerma, a city in Mexico where VAM produced engines. This wasn’t just a warmed-over Concord, it featured a different interior and the only element carried over from AMC was the instrument panel. It was focused on the top-end market in Mexico and never exported. While I couldn’t find sales numbers specific to the Lerma, it was a top 10 seller and at one time held a 9% market share.  But when Renault bought into AMC in the mid-eighties they had no interest in building AMC cars in Mexico and the partnership ended.

The Lerma lives on

It’s a 1/43 diecast model of the Lerma manufactured by IXO Models in Hong Kong. Besides this, they make all kinds of hard-to-find cars, motorcycles, and trucks based mostly on non-u.s models.

This one has a ton of miles on it. While it was manufactured in Hong Kong, I bought it off eBay and it came from Spain. That’s a lot more miles than you would see on the real deal. While I knew about VAM because of my dad working at AMC, I had never seen a model until I was poking around on Facebook and found a group of VAM enthusiasts.

The detail on this one that I acquired has amazing details. While the doors, hood, and hatch don’t open, there is a full interior. Exterior details include a hood ornament, simulated glass headlights, windshield wipers, side view mirrors, even the scripted name of the car on the back. I don’t normally collect cars this small because they lack the details of their larger counterparts but would consider any of their cars.

I have never seen a Mexican made AMC car for sale. I would imagine they would be priced similar to their Kenosha-made cousins although with no snow should be in pretty good shape. There is a very active group of fans who continue to be fans of the brand and are very active on Facebook. How’s your Spanish?

Photo: VAM AMC RAMBLER ZACATECAS
Photo: VAM AMC RAMBLER ZACATECAS

 

 

History: Kissel Motor Car Company

Kissel’s Gold Bug speedster stirred celebrity sales …

Forgive yourself if you’ve never heard of the Kissel Motor Car Company, originally known as KisselKar, with the curious moto of “Every Inch a Car.”

Sorry for the hand reflection, it was a SUNNY day. Or is that the ghost of Louis Kissel?

Founded by Louis Kissel and his sons back in 1906 when cars were still a new-fangled means of conveyance, Kissel cars lasted until 1930 when the Depression sunk it in a sea of red ink. The firm made more than 27,000 vehicles in its 25-year run.

While its factory in Hartford, Wis., about 35 miles northwest of Milwaukee, was out in the sticks, its cars were known to the elites of society from coast to coast. Most notable was the Gold Bug, a speedster with good power and a spiffy Chrome Yellow paint job that became its iconic color calling card. Continue reading History: Kissel Motor Car Company

A priceless Corvair

More valuable to this family than any other car

63 corvair, 1963 chevy corvair, corvair, corvair monza, corvair convertibleBy Paul Daniel

I love going car spotting but sometimes the cars come to me like this 1963 Corvair. One of the fun things I do during the summer is work at Ironwood Golf Course, about five minutes from my house. One day I show up to work at a really big golf outing and what’s parked right out front? This 1962 Corvair Monza Continue reading A priceless Corvair

First 2020 Corvette in Wisconsin spotted

Finally caught in the wild

2020 corvette, c8 corvette, mid-engine corvetteI was out this afternoon pandemic grocery shopping and on the way home at a four-way stop my heart started pounding. There it was, a brand new Corvette C8 in Artic White, a carryover from the C7, but it could have been in any color. It was brand new and still had dealer plates on it. Mark and I can’t wait to drive one of these as we both believe at the C8’s base price, $58,900 for the coupe and $66,400 for the convertible, get you into supercar land with money to spare.

2020 corvette, c8 corvette, mid-engine corvette

2020 corvette, c8 corvette, mid-engine corvette

 

2020 Chicago Auto Show Highlights

Lots a new models revealed

This year’s Chicago Auto Show shapes up to be one of the best in a very long time. Mark and I traveled down to Chicago during media days and there was a lot of excitement.

Other cool stuff

How about this Ford GT that was manufactured out of liquid carbon fiber. Ford says they will make about a dozen of these this year and they take about three times longer to make than the standard Ford GT.

ford gt, ford, supercars, 2020 chicago auto show

Continue reading 2020 Chicago Auto Show Highlights

These Jeeps aren’t cheap

A bright spot for American Motors

jeep cherokee, jeep cherokee golden hawk, rare jeeps
Photo: BringATrailer

I remember my dad, who worked at the National Parts Distribution Center in Milwaukee, came home one day in February 1970 and told me the big news that AMC had bought Jeep. I was probably just as excited as he was knowing that we would soon be having Jeeps show up in our driveway.  One that I remember most is a 1980 Jeep Grand Cherokee Golden Hawk just like this one that recently sold on Bring A Trailer. Not only did this give the middle finger to Wisconsin Continue reading These Jeeps aren’t cheap

Lego: Go big or go home

Lego is a marketing machine

lego kit, lego bugatti, bugatti
All Photos: Lego

It’s amazing how this Danish company, started by a carpenter in 1932 making wooden blocks, has grown into a powerhouse. In 2015, The Lego Group became the world’s largest toy company by revenue, with sales amounting to US$2.1 billion, surpassing Mattel. They do it by coming up with cool new stuff all the time like its line of Lego Technic. This is more than just connecting plastic blocks. With this series  builders can create more than just something basic, they can build something that will do stuff like this Bugatti Chiron. This 1/18th scale model features logoed spoked rims with low-profile tires, and detailed brake discs, an accessible cockpit, Technic 8-speed gearbox, detailed W16 engine and the pistons move! Geeze I wish is were bigger so I could hop in and experience the Chiron’s mind-numbing speed.

Wait! What? Lego built one!

Damn! They actually did it! A team of 16 specialist spent 13,000 man hours and utilized almost 4,000 pieces to pull it off. This is amazing. When are they going to make it available in their store?

lego bugatti, lego cars, bugatti

 

A hot new Italian ride arrives in my garage

My wife buys me my dream ride

ducati motorcycles, ducati panigale 959, ducati 959 PenNo silly boy, not a Ferrari but still a name that resonates performance. This only has two wheels and it’s a brand new Ducati 959 Penigale. Was I surprised? Well you bet and then some. For the past five years I have ridden my 2007 Suzuki Hayabusa all over the place and just recently crossed the 60,000 mile mark. That might not seem lot a whole lot but in the motorcycle world, it’s like 200,000 miles in a car. I’ve taken really good care of it, with a couple of oil changes each year, lubing the chain almost every ride, and replacing it every other year, I even had the engine dynoed last winter. I was ready to hang onto it after all, it’s a legendary ride. Continue reading A hot new Italian ride arrives in my garage

Missing the guy who got me into cars

It’s my dad who got me hooked

nash healey, sports cars, nash motors, classic sportscarsAnd his dad before him but this Christmas will be my first without him after his passing away in February. The car dad always talked about buying was a Nash Healey. The car was introduced in 1951 beating the Corvette by two years. There were just over 500 manufactured so they are rare now going for north of $100,000.

I found this video Hemmings made that made me think of this. It’s a video about a dad and son’s bond with cars and I thought I’d share it. Boy, if this doesn’t get you into the Christmas spirit, I don’t know what will.