For the last few years, we’ve been sponsoring the Wayzata Chilly Open. In addition to being a great big chili cook-off for the businesses in Wayzata and neighboring cities, Lake Minnetonka plays host to thousands of “golfers” and spectators who come out to play 9 holes worth of golf on the ice. This year, three distinct courses were set up out on the ice, with Morrie’s sponsoring one of the courses. We set up a booth for Morrie’s Heritage Car Connection and brought our Banana Bronco out on the ice.
The theme this year was “Superheroes” so we turned our hole into a cityscape straight from Spiderman, complete with action figures. If a golfer knocked one of the villains (either the Green Goblin or Venom) off the top of our cityscape they got an automatic hole-in-one! We had a great time out on the ice meeting all the golfers and spectators that came by our booth and were happy to keep people warm with our fire bit. Some of the costumes were really fun and over the top too! Take a look at our photo gallery below to see what we mean.
This is part 2 of this blog, check out part 1 here.
5. Buying fancy windshield wipers: Rain, dust, cold, and heat: your wipers’ biggest enemy is simple exposure to the elements. Over time the rubber will break down, regardless of how fancy and organic and sustainable it is. Just get the basic cheap wipers and change ‘em out on the regular.
Basic wipers do work, but I have found you need to change them out more often, especially in colder climates. I’ve tried all the frameless replacements and have actually found some winners. “Fancy” wipers do cost more—sometimes by 3 or 4 times—but they clean your windshield better and work for a longer period of time.
Recently a coworker sent me an article she found an article on thrillist.com titled 8 Car Parts and Services You Shouldn’t Spend Money On. The email subject line was “You’ll hate everything about this article. Literally EVERYTHING.” I started to read the article and the ranting began right on cue. She found it quite amusing, so I thought I should take this to the people. While some points made in the article are good, I am still going to play devil’s advocate. I’ll break them down one by one:
1. Changing your oil too often: Simply put, the mythological 3,000-mile oil change was the domain of your grandfather. Today, the oil is more pure to begin with (especially if you’re using synthetic oil, which you should), your oil filter weeds out more contaminants, and tolerances in your engine are such that less of those contaminating particles get into the oil in the first place. So how long can you go without changing your oil? That’s a controversy for another article entirely, my friend.
Yes, changing oil every 3,000 miles may be too much, but for some cars but it depends on what type of driving and how much you do. Of course you want to follow manufacturer’s recommendation, but If you only drive your car in the city with a lot short drives, you should change your oil a little more often or see if the manufacturer recommends a Severe Duty Interval. On the other side of the coin, if you drive a lot on the highway you may need to change it less often. Your owner’s manual should have this information, and most new cars will just tell you when you should change the oil based on your driving habits. Remember, oil is cheap—engines are not. Using a good quality oil is key; just because something meets the minimum standard doesn’t mean you should use it.
2. “Restoring” your headlights: Sure, that rough yellowy mess on your headlights ruins their effectiveness, but paying big bucks for a “restoration kit” is total trash when you can DIY instead. Get a few sheets of very fine sandpaper from your local hardware store, soak them in water, and sand your headlights using finer and finer paper until it’s perfectly smooth (if it’s really bad, start with something like 400 grit, then progress to 800 and 2,000). Then use a polishing compound to make it shine, and you’re back to being perfectly clear.
Having the best vision possible while driving is important for safety. The DIY kits can be good, but you have to do your research. I have used them all and can objectively say that the ones without drill attachments work better than the ones with the attachment. The article mentions using sandpaper but buying all the parts separately will likely cost more, so the kits are a good value. If you don’t want to tackle this project yourself, check with a dealer or independent detailers to see if they offer this service. It’ll cost more, but it’s hard to do better than someone using the right tools and products.
3. Opting for service contracts: If you’ve ever bought a new car, you’ve no doubt been bombarded with endless contracts and “warranties” that will see all of your maintenance taken care of, as well as damage to wheels and tires, etc. Newsflash: if these truly made financial sense for you to buy, they wouldn’t be profitable for the dealership, and they would no longer be available. Think about that one…
I was also skeptical about these a couple of years ago. I saw some commercials with the big sales pitch “to buy a warranty if your car has less than 100,000 miles on it, call 1-800-blahblahblah.” There are a couple of questions you should ask when you’re thinking about an aftermarket warranty: “will it cover everything?” and “what does it cover?” The answer to the first one is easy: no, it won’t. But Is it going to cover some of the big expensive issues you might have? Yes. Without a warranty, an engine control unit can cost over $2500 to replace. With a warranty, you’ll most likely only pay a deductible in the area of $100. Some warranties cover some items beyond the common things you would expect, like gaskets and seals or one that covers wheel repair and replacement even if you hit a pothole. Of course these make money for whoever sells them, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t value in them. In fact, I know multiple people who have aftermarket warranties that have paid for themselves multiple times over. Of course the seller is banking on you not using it, but so is everyone that offers a mail in rebate, your health insurance provider, your car insurance provider, and your grocery store coupon booklet. I have car insurance that I have never used it in my almost 20 years of driving and I have health insurance, yes, but I haven’t been to a doctor since I was 12 years old (that’s probably not good argument). Almost all companies are in business to make money, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t value in it buying something that someone profits off of.
4. Buying over-the-counter fuel additives: You absolutely do need additives in your fuel to keep your engine running as cleanly as possible. Too much of a good thing, however, can be detrimental, and frankly, unless you’re a chemical engineer specializing in gasoline additives, you probably don’t know how much is too much. The higher prices you pay at “brand-name” stations like Shell and Texaco are partly because these extra proprietary detergents are already added to the gas before it goes into your tank. And that you should pay for. But don’t ever buy them over the counter, period.
I kind of agree with this. There are actually some worth buying, but 95% of them are no better than buying good gas. Most companies that advertise detergents in their gas have already mixed in any beneficial additives. Cars with direct injection really don’t have a need for them, and cleaning the fuel system in older cars will require more than a in tank additive (you need a kit that attaches to your fuel rail and costs more than anything you can buy at a gas station).
Check out part 2 of this blog here.
One of the great things about Morrie’s Automotive Group is that we have a a wide range of truly interesting and amazing sales consultants. Amongst the large percentage of our staff could be considered genuine “car people” with petrol pumping through their veins, we have a handful that are heavily involved in motorsports as well. For instance, Scott Putnam, our fleet sales manager at Morrie’s Minnetonka Subaru is also a co-driver with Lauchlin O’Sullivan. Together, they are 2-time national Rally America Super Production champions, having won in 2012 and again in 2015. Scott has been co-driving in various rally cars with his CPD Racing team for over a decade and living the old adage “Race on Sunday, Sell on Monday.”
With Morrie’s Minnetonka Subaru sponsoring the #90 CPD Racing 2010 Subaru WRX STI for the 2016 Rally America season, Joseph (video lead for Morrie’s Auto Group) and Alex (a content specialist for the group) flew out to Traverse City, Michigan for Sno*Drift Rally, the first round of the 2016 Rally America championship. Because rally races such as these predominantly take place on public roads that are closed for the day of the rally, most of these events happen in small towns and are spread out across the community in a number of stages. Sno*Drift consists of 17 stages, most of which take place in the forests surrounding the picturesque town of Atlanta, Michigan.
We met up with Scott and Lauchlin at a workshop just outside of Atlanta where the car was undergoing some shakedown and testing runs on some private land. “Whiskers”, the crew chief for the team, would send Lauchlin out on different sets of snow and ice tires to get a sense of which tires they’d want to use on the snow and ice-covered logging roads the following afternoon. After 4 or 5 laps of their own little test track, a decision was made to run on a special set of snow tires. These tires are much, much softer and therefore are able to provide grip on glare ice. With a tire decision made, the crew finished up the last few set-up changes and we went back to the hotel to rest up for race day.
After a few more practice runs the next morning, the team brought the car out to Parc Expose in the heart of Atlanta so fans could meet the drivers and co-drivers and check out the cars up close. 42 cars were on display along the banks of a picturesque, but frozen over, lake. Red bull sponsored the event and had a massive truck on hand with a DJ in the back to pump out tunes for the fans while a few backpack-clad women handed out free cans of the energy drink. All in all, it was a great event for the fans and we enjoyed the opportunity to talk with some of the other teams and check out their cars. While the majority of the field was made up of Subarus in various shapes, sizes, and years, we also saw a handful of Ford Fiestas, some old Vokswagen Golfs, a new Toyota RAV4, a Honda CR-Z, and even some muscle cars. Having won the Super Production championship twice and finishing 2nd overall just behind the Subaru factory team last year, Lauchlin and Scott were fan favorites and most people were betting on the #90 CPD Racing team to win this weekend. Because of that, CPD Racing would be leading the rest of the pack out on the first stage so we had to leave Parc Expose early to make sure we got to the first spectator area in time to see Scott and Lauchlin go by.
Each stage has a designated spectator area to keep fans safe since most of the time, the rally cars go sliding through the corners quickly, just barely on the edge of control. These spectator areas also usually coincide with some of the most exciting turns on the stage and give the drivers a good spot to show off a bit for fans. Unlike going to a race track to watch a race, most rally fans will only get to see each car go by once and in terms of getting any useful photos or video footage, there’s really only about a 5-10 second window to see each car before it goes scurrying off down the road, kicking up rooster tails of snow and mud as it passes. Although the weather was unseasonably warm for this time of year in northern Michigan, we were still surprised to see just how many fans and spectators there were at each stage doing a mix of drinking, grilling, and cheering on the cars.
Throughout the first day of the rally, Lauchlin and Scott were clearly dominating the rally. Although each car starts the stage in one minute intervals, it didn’t take long for CPD Racing to build up a healthy lead – almost 5 minutes over the nearest competitor – after the first day’s stages. After arriving at the service area halfway through the first day, it seemed Lauchlin was very happy with the car and their pace. Scott was just glad Lauchlin had driven smoothly and kept the car out of the snowbanks and ditches so far. While they took a quick breather before the night stages, the crew hurriedly mounted a set of ice tires, checked all the fluids, and removed the packed snow and ice from the wheel wells and underside of the car. Again, we left service early to get out to another stage to try to see the car race by and under the light of the moon and stars, we saw Lauchlin gracefully slide the car through a tight left-hand bend, carefully avoiding the telephone pole and fence hidden within the snowbank at the exit of the turn, and rocket off into the inky darkness just a split second later.
The next morning, we packed up a little earlier and headed out to a big gravel pit to watch the first of the day’s special stages. This gravel pit had more of a clearly defined course that each car would race through twice. Again, Lauchlin drove carefully, avoiding the hay bales and snow banks that could easily suck in a wheel or two and slow the car down. The car’s tight lines and finesse around the course weren’t as flashy or exciting as some of the other cars, but raw speed is rarely shown in extravagant ways.
After the first three stages of the day, CPD Racing still carried a significant four minute lead before heading back out into the forests. Unfortunately, that’s when things took a turn for the worse. On the 13th stage of the rally, the car hit an unaccounted for patch of ice on the exit of a corner and spun nose-first into a snowbank. The Subaru was immediately stuck and after a failed attempt to dig the car out, a competitor stopped and snapped their tow strap trying to unstick the car. Eventually, another competitor stopped and was able to free the #90 car but their chance at an overall win were all but dashed.
Getting underway again, Scott realized that while trying to dig the car out, he’d badly sliced his finger open. With blood quickly covering his racing suit and stage notes, he had no choice but to direct Lauchlin with hand signals, spraying blood around the cockpit in the process. They finished the stage four and a half minutes behind the leader in 7th place and an on-site medic wrapped up Scott’s finger for the time being. Not wanting to drop out of the rally, the team pushed on, clawing back time stage after stage. During the last four stages, Lauchlin made a harrowing run and setting the fastest time in each. They made up two of their lost positions to finish 5th overall and 2nd in Super Production class. The celebration was short-lived however as Scott was quickly rushed to the hospital to receive six stitches in his finger. Lauchlin was solemn about the results but acknowledged that mistakes happen and that all it takes is one to ruin a rally. Despite leading 15 of the 17 stages of the rally, they wouldn’t go home as winners.
The team is looking forward to the next rally – 100 Acre Wood – near Salem Missouri on March 18th. And as usual, Scott was back at work on Monday, happily selling cars just like the one he raced just days earlier.
I just wanted to take a quick moment to discuss what Ford is doing right now, and how excited that should make all of us. We recently took a trip out to the city of Detroit (home of the blue oval) for the North American International Auto Show where, once again, I was blown away by what Ford was doing. I also learned that the auto show attracted some 815,000+ people this year which is a completely different point but nonetheless makes me happy for the auto industry in general. Ford had an amazing display with all the the latest and greatest including the new Ford Fusion, which will be a 325hp AWD sedan that should blow away the competition.
So back to my original point in that Ford is onto something special right now and I truly think this is a great enhancement for the auto industry in general. I mean look at the lineup that Ford is bringing to the table right now. Cars, trucks and SUVs that are everyday capable vehicles that are reliable and, in some regards, the best selling vehicle (cough, cough F-150) for almost the last 40 years. Then look at all this excitement they are building and that really is what this article is all about. Let me start at the so called, “bottom” and work my way up.
Now that we’ve had some time to decompress from the craziness that was North American International Auto Show Week, we figured we’d go back through some of our photos from the show to bring you a select few highlights and also some of the disappointments we saw in Detroit. With at least 20 new unveilings at NAIAS in addition to the hundreds of brand new cars decorating the manufacturers’ booth, it was hard to pick just one favorite. So here’s our list of the Hots and the Nots.
HOT: Mazda MX-5 Speedster Concept
We already love the new MX-5, but the skunkworks team at Mazda took an extreme lightweighting approach to this build for show car for SEMA and removed the windshield and convertible top, saving 250 lbs in the process. The wheels have been replaced by lightweight forged wheels and the interior has been suitably stripped out as well. Although it’s unlikely Mazda would ever put an honest sub-2,000 lb Miata into production, we’d still love to get behind the wheel of this thing!
NOT: Chevrolet Bolt
Switching gears a bit, the Chevy Bolt is the EV city-car hatchback take on Tesla’s upcoming Model 3. With a base price of around $30,000 after federal tax credits, it won’t exactly be cheap. Hopefully buyers can look past the price tag and understand that getting 200 miles of range and lightweight aluminum construction isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world. It’s just not what we’d call… um… pretty.
HOT: Buick Avista Concept
“That’s a Buick?!” We heard this remark from a number of people on the show floor and must admit, it’s certainly a strikingly beautiful vehicle. This certainly isn’t your grandpa’s Buick. This sexy coupe could potentially be put into production on the same chassis as the Chevy Camaro and Cadillac ATS, and use a slightly detuned version of the CTS V-Sport’s twin-turbocharged V6 to put out around 400 horsepower. For now, it’s just a concept but we’re honestly excited for the day Buick builds this thing!
NOT: Mercedes-Benz E-Class and SLC-Class
While the new E-Class is the best midsize sedan the company has ever built, had we not looked at the badges, we never would’ve guessed that it wasn’t either the C-Class or the S-Class. Aside from changes in wheelbase and options, they all look nearly identical. It’s a problem that has plagued their competitor Audi for ages, and now Mercedes has fallen into the same trap, it would seem. To top it off, the new SLC replaces the SLK Convertible and while it’ll surely be the best small convertible they’ve ever built, we’re disappointed that they ditched the V8 in the top SLK 55 model and now uses a twin-turbo V6 that offers 54 less horsepower than the engine it replaces.
HOT: Lincoln Continental
We went nuts over the Continental Concept last year, and the refreshed MKZ in LA. Now, Lincoln has finally given us a production version of the Continental that we were all hoping for and it’s absolutely gorgeous. While it doesn’t come with the classy blue suede slippers of the concept car, it’s still about as suave as you can get. We especially love the jewel-like headlights, the touch-activated door handles, and yes, even the blue leather-lined interior.
HOT: 2017 Ford Fusion Sport
We already love the Fusion sedan so we certainly won’t complain about 325 hp and AWD to the mix! The styling is a pretty mild evolution of the current Fusion with a little Focus mixed in for good measure. Now we just need to get our hands on one to see if the “Sport” name fits the driving experience.
HOT: Ford GT pre-production model
This is it! The 99% production-ready Ford GT! In terms of exterior styling, what you’re looking at is the 2017 Ford GT. The interior has some trim bits that are still up in the air but this is more or less what you can expect to see later this year as the Ford GTs start hitting the streets. We also managed to get the first footage of the Ford GT going into Race Mode! Plus, this stormtrooper’ed out version looks stunningly good in person.
NOT: GMC Acadia
The new GMC Acadia is surely a practical day-to-day car that provides comfort and security on the road for you and your passengers but look at it. It’s not exactly awe-inspiring. Vehicles like this are the definition of automotive purgatory. We’ll pass.
HOT: Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
If you’re looking for a more inspiring people mover, we recommend checking out the new Chrysler Pacifica. It’s a bold, new look for what had been the Town & Country, and given all the new tech under the skin, it deserved a new name. How many minivans do you know of that can get 80 MPG and 530 mile range?!
HOT: 2017 Lexus LC500
Our first thought when we saw this was that Lexus had just rolled out another recycled concept car from the a couple years ago. They promptly corrected us though that this stunning, 467-hp, V8-powered sports car is not just a pipe dream. This is an actual production LC500 as it will appear in dealership showrooms later this year.
HOT: Beefy Off-Road Trucks (Nissan Titan Warrior Concept, Ford Raptor SuperCrew, Ram Rebel)
We’re suckers for a good, solid truck. And it doesn’t get any more solid than the Ford Raptor, right? Well, it seems at least a few manufacturers, including Ford themselves, are trying to improve upon the hot new off-road adventure truck segment. What surprised us the most was Nissan’s attempt with the new Titan Warrior concept. It was big and meaty looking, like a 20oz Porterhouse on wheels.
NOT: Infiniti Q60
We’re not sure what it is about the Q60 that is so uninspiring but despite it bring a 400-hp 2-door coupe, we just can’t get excited about it. Maybe it’s just because Infiniti has never had much of a reputation of making cars that are as dynamically pleasing to drive as they are to look at, or because there are just so many competent cars competing for the crown in this segment.
HOT: Genesis G90
Hyundai’s brand-new luxury spin-off brand is betting on the new Genesis G90 going head to head with the current king of luxury sedans: the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. While we’ve been skeptical of the Korean giant really backing up its claims of world-class luxury, the G90 might just be the car to prove us wrong. If only the name weren’t so generic…
One of the most common questions we hear from car buyers here in Minnesota is All Wheel Drive versus 4 Wheel Drive – what’s the difference? Is there even one? The short answer to that question is yes, but it’s an important distinction to make for a few reasons. Let’s take a look at the differences between each system:
For those that prefer reading to watching a video, here’s an explanation of AWD vs 4WD in text-based format:
On paper, AWD and 4WD both mean that all four wheels get power, although each system does so a different way. The primary difference is that AWD uses a specialized mechanism in the center of the car that distributes the power to both the front and rear, sometimes equally and sometimes biased towards one end or the other depending on road conditions. This allows you to accelerate better in inclement conditions such as snow or ice.
Notice that I only said accelerate – it’s a common misconception that AWD and 4WD will help you stop and turn in snow and ice. That is absolutely not the case. Outfitting your car with proper winter tires is really the only way to enhance your vehicle’s stopping and turning capabilities during the winter months. To learn more about why winter tires are so important, take a look here.
Now that we’ve defined AWD, let’s take a look at 4WD. Unlike AWD, you can manually put it in a two-wheel drive mode (called 2H) that operates like a RWD vehicle. Alternately, you can put it in what’s called 4H, or 4-high. 4-high is intended for higher speeds and everyday street driving. When you put your car into 4H you connect both axles to the powertrain and maintain the same gear ratios as when you’re driving in 2H.
The main difference between 4WD and AWD is another separate mode called 4L, or 4-low. In 4-low you actually engage a set of gears in a transfer case that changes the gear ratio, providing extra torque to all 4 wheels at low speeds. This isn’t particularly useful on the street, but if you’re stuck in deep snow or mud, doing a little off-roading, or hauling your neighbor out of a ditch this is the best way go.
So there you have it – the difference between AWD and 4WD. You might say that an AWD vehicle paired with a set of winter tires is a good choice for the casual commuter who wants some added driving security during the winter, while a 4WD vehicle is a little more specialized and situationally competent.
Well that went fast! Here we are at the end of a very long second day at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, MI. While most of the big reveals happened yesterday, today was a great opportunity to check out a few new things like the all-new, production-ready Lincoln Continental and the Acura Precision concept, as well as doubling back on anything we might’ve missed in yesterday’s madness. We also saw the new Honda Ridgeline pickup, GMC Acadia, Infiniti Q60 Coupe, Audi’s H-Tron Concept as well as the new Allroad, and the big, boxy, and beautiful Kia Telluride SUV concept. The most interesting car of Day 2 was the dorky little Toyota Kikai concept. It’s a compact 3-seater with exposed engine and suspension that looks more off-road buggy than compact city car but we applaud Toyota for trying something weird and different. We were also blown away by Ford’s demonstration of the new GT’s Race Mode which drops the car on its wheels and raises up a gloriously aerodynamic wing that doubles as an air brake. Mind = blown!
We’re out here at the 2016 North American International Auto Show here in Detroit, MI this week and it surely didn’t disappoint. Day 1 is usually chock full of big reveals and included the updated Ford Fusion, including a 325 HP, AWD Sport model we’re excited about, as well as Raptor-fighting Nissan Titan “Warrior” Concept truck which looked awesome. We also Hyundai spin off it’s luxury brand Genesis with the new Genesis G90 to replace the Equus, while the G80 takes over the original Genesis sedan in the new lineup. Other notable debuts from Monday included the new BMW M2, a 365 hp small sedan, Volkswagen’s Tiguan GTE Concept that looked just as ready to tackle the Dakar Rally as it did the shopping mall, Porsche unveiled the new 911 Turbo and Turbo S, Buick debuted a surprisingly gorgeous 400 hp coupe based on the Camaro, and Lexus rolled out the LC500 and LC-FC, the former is a shockingly beautiful production-ready sports coupe with a 467 hp V8 while the latter is an elegant hybrid sedan. For us, the highlights of the show was actually the production-ready version of the incredible Ford GT that we saw debut here in concept form last year, and the new MX-5 Speedster concept that Mazda rolled out at SEMA this past November. But enough from us, take a look at the photos below and tell us which cars you like! We’ll be back tomorrow to recap Day 2 of the 2016 North American International Auto Show.
January 11th marks the start of the 2016 North American International Auto Show (or NAIAS for short) in Detroit, Michigan. As always, we’ll be there, live on the show floor for the press days to bring you all of the latest and greatest live from the show floor. While details have been pretty sparse this year as to what exactly is going to be revealed, most manufacturers like to keep tight-lipped and surprise us. For instance, Ford absolutely shocked everyone with a huge reveal of not only the new Shelby GT350R and Raptor but also the new Ford GT supercar, without leaking anything ahead of time. From what we have heard, there’s a good chance we’ll see an updated Ford Fusion, a production-ready Lincoln Continental, an all-new Hyundai Genesis G90 sedan, a spin-off model of the new Nissan Titan, and some new concepts from Volkswagen.