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.

Electrifying Summer Trip

A shiny bright object

My friends would tell you that I’m easily distracted by new shiny bright objects. Don’t know why, I’m a guy and love seeing things out of the ordinary. Especially on four wheels.

My wife and I were getting our daughter Meg settled in school at
Western Michigan University where she is in their College of Aviation.  With the parking lot, jammed with cars, I spotted my shiny bright object. It had four wheels, it was yellow, and low to the ground. Like a dog with a bone, I was a man on a mission to find out more about this vehicle. Continue reading Electrifying Summer Trip

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Wrangler/Corvette Mashup

He wanted to build what?

jeep wrangler, chevy corvetteThe Jeep Wrangler and Chevy Corvette couldn’t be farther apart in automotive categories yet Chris DeSpears from Milwaukee had the idea to bring them together in a really fun build.

He picked up a 2003 Z06 C5  Vette a couple of years ago as a donor car that somebody had wacked and was originally looking for a Factory 5 wide body Shelby Cobra kit to mate it with only to find out that they are no longer made so he went to his Plan B. Continue reading Wrangler/Corvette Mashup

Cool School, Cool Tool

Most fun I ever had at school

2019 dodge challenger, challenger widebody, challenger hellcatThat’s because the topic was one of my favs, cars, and in this instance I would learn how to drive one on racetrack. The car was the 2019 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Widebody and the racetrack, GingerMan Raceway in South Haven, Michigan. It was hosted by an organization that I belong to, Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA), and sponsored by Dodge and Jeep who also provided the 2019 vehicles myself and the other automotive journalists would drive. They included several Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebodys, a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, Dodge Durango SRT and Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. My ride for the day would be this cool blue Challenger. “The MAMA Track School was started as an effort to ensure MAMA members are properly skilled and comfortable when driving on a racetrack, especially since we host two popular track events each year,” said MAMA President Jill Ciminillo.

More zoom, less dollars

With the debut of the R/T Scat Pack Widebody, not only do buyers get the Hellcat Widebody’s aggressive looks, it also costs them about 40% less. Sure you could sell buying this car to your wife because it can carry a couple of kids in the back but don’t tell her that this is probably the best Challenger suited for the track. Shhhh!

2019 dodge hellcat widebody, dodge hellcat, challenger widebody, hellcat, 392 v8, hemi

The Scat Pack is an option you would add to the R/T-level trim, and it’ll set you back around 42 grand but that includes the destination fee and a gas-guzzler tax of $1,000 on manual-transmission equipped models. You can avoid the tax by getting the automatic transmission but in the end it becomes a wash. The optional automatic transmission avoids the gas-guzzler tax, but its extra cost dodge challenger, 2019 challenger widebody, widebody hellcatnegates any advantage there. The Widebody package adds another $6,000, throw in leather interior, technology packages and other fun stuff will continue to bump the price well into the high $50,000 challenger hellcat, dodge hellcat super beerange. However, take notes, it’s  nearly $20,000 less than a fully loaded Hellcat and provides about as much fun even though the Hellcat has 232 more horsepower.

On the track

R/T Scat Pack plus Widebody equals FUN! Under the hood is the 6.4-liter Hemi V8, putting out 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque. Add the 305mm Pirelli P Zero rubber that comes as part dodge challenger, 2019 challenger widebody, widebody hellcatof the Widebody package and it’s good for zero-to-60-mph in roughly four seconds when equipped with the eight-speed automatic in the car I drove.

Scat Pack models get a specially tuned version of the three-mode adaptive suspension system that uses stiffer front springs, special shocks, larger sway bars at both the front and back, and big six-piston Brembo front brakes and makes this a fun drive. I experienced this first-hand on the two-mile track with driving instructor Elvis Komskis  from CGI Motorsports.  Our track training session covered everything from braking techniques, vehicle weight management, vision instructions and appropriate driving position. First Elvis drives showing me the course, then I drive.  Then we head back and he shows me way to improve in the sessions that followed.

While I can drive Road America blind folded, at least in the beginning, I drove at GingerMan Raceway like I had one on. But I eventually got the hang of it and managed not to harm Elvis in the process.  The layout simulates the full spectrum of driving situations: high-speed straights and short sprints, long sweeping corners and tight apexes, heavy and light braking, and elevation change. It’s a fun course!

The Scat Pack Widebody is a fun car combining the Challenger’s retro styling and the road of a Hemi. It makes for a great track car and gives up very little in terms of everyday drivability to get there. OK, now go sell your wife.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CONCLUSION
For those that admire the Challenger’s retro style and Hemi roar but have pined for a sharper instrument, look no further. While it’s still more GT than sports car, the Scat Pack Widebody proves that this big coupe can hold its own when given the right tools to work with. And, .

Cars your rarely see on the road

Another unusual car made in Wisconsin

The Excalibur Automobile Corporation was born by the idea Milwaukee native, and world-famous designer, Brook Stevens  who sketched a concept on a place mat while at a restaurant in 1964. He was asked by his then employee Studebaker to create buzz for their exhibit at the New York Auto Show. I love Studebaker, in many ways like AMC, in that they had to swing for the fence to get noticed by automotive buyers. It was at the auto show that Studebaker announced they were getting out of the auto business.

But that wasn’t the end of the Excalibur. The car received so much attention the Excalibur Automotive Corporation was formed to produce the cars. The engine and drive train came from General Motors while the bodies and interiors were hand-crafted in West Allis, suburb just west of Milwaukee. The car was pretty quick utilizing a Chevy 327 engine. With the same engine used in the Corvette and the standard 3.31:1 rear axle, acceleration from 0–60 mph took less than six seconds.

And it looks even better stretched

Which is why I stopped to take a picture of it. In an era where everything from Chrysler 300’s to Hummers are stretched into limos, this one would still attract a crowd. In fact, it has more value in the collector car market than the original car. You can find Excaliburs from the mid 1960’s all the way through the late 1980’s and very affordable ranging in prices from $37,000 for a Series 3, to a 1989 Roadster Convertible for $65,000.  Not bad considering there were just around 3,500 copies made.

The limo, much less, around 13, according to their website. These are the ones made in West Allis, not ones stretched by other companies. My best source for pricing came from the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) where they listed the 1989 model with a low retail of $94,000, average of $177,700 and high of $280,300. You will find lots of the stretched versions around $50,000 or less. How much for this one? Good guess. Looks like it was just parked and forgotten with a group of unremarkable vehicles. Would make for an interesting restoration project and a fun ride. The body’s not in bad shape but will need some work as will the interior.

An electrifying sports coupe

My buddy and I had just finished lunch at a McDonalds in Lomira, WI and spotted two cool black cars parked next to each other near the back of the lot. One, a 1972 Chevy Monte Carlo, the other, this bad boy. I had to hop out and take a closer look, one because it was so cool looking, and two, I had no idea what it was. A Beemer? Nope. A Fisker Karma.

In case you have forgotten, and I did, here’s a little refresher.  Fisker produced the Karma and it was one of the world’s first production luxury plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. The Karma debuted in Detroit at the 2008 North American International Auto Show when Tesla was just getting going with its Model S. Deliveries began in 2011 but Production was suspended in November 2012 when its battery supplier, A123 Systems, declared bankruptcy. Just over 2,400 cars were built at its manufacturing plant in Delaware which used to be owned by General Motors.

In February 2014, Fisker Automotive’s Karma vehicle design, tooling and a manufacturing facility in Delaware were purchased by Chinese auto parts conglomerate Wanxiang Group who really wanted the battery side of the business. Founder Henrik Fisker, hung on to the Fisker trademarks and the Fisker brand and launched a separate company, Fisker Inc, in 2016. Wanxiang later renamed its new company Karma Automotive.

This car is over the top cool and even though a couple thousand were built, they are not expensive at all to buy now. Getting them serviced, well that’s another story. A quick search of the used car sites like TrueCar.com had several listings starting at just $32,950, all the way up to $52,500 and with low miles. Not sure I would ever purchase one but they are sure cool to look at.

 

 

 

Fly to Oshkosh then drive to your hotel

If it flies, its at EAA’s AirVenture

If you have a bucket list, on it should be a trip to Oshkosh, WI for the EAA’s (Experimental Aircraft Association) AirVenture. Even if you’re not a total plane geek like me, there’s plenty to see, from vintage aircraft, homebuilts, warbirds, jets, and more.

Continue reading Fly to Oshkosh then drive to your hotel

Road America test drives

Car heaven at Road America

Nobody ever has to ask a second time if Mark and I want to attend an event at Road America. For us, the track, located in Elkhart Lake, Wis., is one of the most fun locations we visit in the automotive world. We were among the 80 plus media members from across the country given the opportunity to check out more than 90 new vehicles at the Midwest Automotive Media Association’s (MAMA) annual Spring Rally held May 23-24. Continue reading Road America test drives

For the ultimate Green Bay Packer Fan

A complete collection would have this

green bay packers, green bay packer fans, packer fans, cheeseheadsHere in Wisconsin us Cheeseheads love the Green Bay Packers. Want to get on the season ticket list to watch them play at Lambeau Field? Ya right! Get in line behind the other 133,000 that are waiting. So maybe your great great great granddaughter will actually be able to sit in the seats. Just about anything related to the Packers gets snapped up by fans.

In my days covering the team as a sportscaster in Green Bay, I saw all kinds of shrines, even some vehicles that were painted in the team colors, green and gold but never a car owned by a former player like Bart Starr’s 1967 Corvette given to him for being MVP in Super Bowl 1.

Mecum

When Bart Starr and I were on a first-name basis

On some planets what I had was a dream gig. Covering my favorite football team, the Green Bay Packers, when what amounted to a

bart starr, green bay packers, green bay packer coach, packer coach, starr
that’s me on the left looking back. So much hair then.

god, Bart Starr was the coach. Yup, living large as a television sports reporter in Green Bay, WI. Bart was such a super-nice guy even in the face of loosing seasons. In conversations we had outside the locker room, or offices, at the team headquarters, 1265 Lombardi Avenue, he never brought it up, and he knew I was a car guy. Oh I’ve got stories but this blog entry would go on forever.

Will it go to a Packer fan?

Well now that Vette is for sale and will go to the highest bidder May 19th at the Mecum Auto Auction in Indianapolis. The car was built in June of 1967 and finished at the factory in Goodwood Green. Why would it be any other color? It’s changed hands several times over the years and is listed as unrestored with mostly original paint. It

Mecum

also comes documented with the tank sticker stating: Courtesy Delivery – B. Starr. There was no value estimate from Mecum on the listing so I picked up the phone and called. They think this C2 will go in the $200,000-$225,000 range. While I never found a Vette with the identical options, I found a couple that were close. One at Hemmings, listed for $135,000, while BringATrailer.com had listings in the upper $60’s. Man I wish I had the cash.

UPDATE: Generating a high bid of $150,000 the car did not sell at the auction so Cheeseheads, you might get another shot at it.

What’s Bart doing now?

He’s been having a rough couple of years with some serious health problems including two strokes, a heart attack, a broken hip, bronchial and sinus infection. At 84 he had several stem cell treatments and his wife Cherry says he gets better every day.

Evan Siegle/Packers.com