Hopefully you’ve already claimed your free tickets for the 2016 Twin Cities Auto Show but if you haven’t made it to the convention center yet, the show is still running through this weekend. Check out our guide on what to see while you’re there!
We usually go to all the big auto shows around the country like Los Angeles, Detroit, and New York, but there’s something special about our home show at the Minneapolis Convention Center. We stopped by the 2016 Twin Cities Auto Show earlier this week to poke around and enjoy the more relaxed atmosphere we have here in Minneapolis. The 43rd Annual Twin Cities Auto Show ends this weekend so hurry up and register for free tickets with your Morrie’s store of choice and get to the show while you still can!
Top of the morning to you! Grab yourself a green beverage and saddle up to see what our St. Patrick’s Day Top 5 favorite cars will be. Let’s not waste any time getting to the list so here they are.
#1 Aston Martin Rapide S
Pentland Green has never looked so good on anything. This 2015 Aston features an Eifel Green Leather interior that is unmistakable for anything but green. When you catch that pot o’ gold make sure to swing through Morrie’s Luxury Auto to pick up this beautiful Aston Martin Rapide S. Imagine all this green luxury and a 552hp V12… you know it’s good.
#2 Steve McQueen’s “Bullitt” Mustang
One of the best car chase scenes in movie history may still be from, “Bullitt” a 1968 classic featuring Lightning Steve McQueen behind the wheel of a 1968 Ford Mustang 390 GT Fastback. A classic American styled vehicle with a green paint job that makes this a solid choice for enjoying the lovely weather we hope to have this year. Check out the chase scene from “Bullitt” on YouTube here
#3 Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 Concept
This is one we hope to see in more of a production model soon enough, but as of now you can’t argue with just how good this Bentley looks. This color might be perfectly suited to the concept, but I also wouldn’t mind seeing this on the new Bentayga SUV from Bentley. Since Green can look good on any classic British sports car, and it’s fitting since the UK is much closer to Ireland than we are across the pond, they should get the nod on this one.
#4 Ford Focus SVT RS1 / 2013 SEMA Focus ST
Another overseas release that wasn’t sent to the states (Until the Focus RS for 2016) doesn’t make this vehicle avoidable from our list. Maybe even import one of these to Dublin and go in search of the leprechaun holding all that gold to buy up the Aston Martin Rapide S we mentioned earlier. If the new body style of the Focus is more your style then you need to check out the Green Filter rendering of the Focus ST. It was built and brought out to SEMA in 2013. The classic racing livery it features is a sure fire way to have a bit of fun and look good during St. Patty’s Day.
#5 Nissan Leaf
100% electric and 100% amazing fuel economy, there isn’t anything more green than an actual green car. The Nissan Leaf would be the perfect car to cruise around the city to pick up a brisket to make with a bit of cabbage on the side.
Thanks for checking out the list and make sure to let us know what else you think we should add. Have a safe and happy St. Patrick’s Day!
It’s always a good feeling to give back, and last night at the Morrie’s Heritage Car Connection Dojo we did something a little unconventional. Several Morrie’s employees came together to pack 100 backpacks with care for PAB’S PACKS, a local non-profit that has a very unique mission.
Their mission is to deliver backpacks full of comfort items to teens with chronic illnesses that spend a lot of time in the hospital. “PAB” is for Pia and Abbie, the founders and Chief Inspiration Officers of PAB’S PACKS. PAB’S was created after both Pia and Abbie (long time friends) spent time in the hospital dealing with their own battles with chronic illnesses. During their time in the hospital they both felt the need to help other teens in some way after their long stays and frequent visits to the hospital.
Each pack is filled with a items that are meant to give the teens some comfort and to let them know someone is thinking about them. A comfortable blanket, stress ball in the shape of a heart, Pabby the Penguin (their stuffed mascot), chap stick, a notebook, a pre-stamped postcard, and our favorite – a personalized note to the teen. Each personalized card is signed with “We got your back” to let teens know they are not alone in their circumstances.
Morrie’s and PAB’S PACKS will be hand delivering the backpacks tomorrow at Children’s Hospital in St. Paul. Morrie’s is excited to be partnering with PAB’S PACKS and we look forward to helping pack and distribute more backpacks in the future!
Visit pabspacks.org to learn more.
MINNETONKA, Minn., March 3, 2016 /PRNewswire/ – Fremont Private Holdings, LLC (“FPH”) and Karl Schmidt announced that they have completed the acquisition of Morrie’s Automotive Group (“Morrie’s” or the “Company”), owner and operator of 11 automotive dealership locations. FPH, Schmidt and management acquired the Company from Morrie Wagener and the Wagener family.
Morrie’s was founded in the 1960s when Morrie Wagener purchased a single automotive dealership where he worked as a mechanic and manager. Today, the Company has grown to become one of the largest automotive retail groups in the Twin Cities. Since inception, Morrie’s has been run as a family business that emphasized customer service and satisfaction. The Company’s values were formalized nearly seven years ago, when Morrie’s developed its “Buy Happy” promise. The Company offers a no-haggle, best-price approach where vehicles have predetermined prices, which are not negotiable. The Company continues that philosophy today, helping customers have fun purchasing vehicles and focusing on service in a customer-friendly environment.
Morrie’s will continue to be led by CEO Karl Schmidt, who commented, “FPH is the perfect partner for our business. We share the same vision for the Company, and FPH brings a strong knowledge of the industry as well as access to the capital and resources necessary to enable us to continue to improve our offerings and better serve our customers.”
According to Scott Earthy, Managing Partner of FPH, “We look forward to our partnership with Karl and his team, who created the Buy Happy promise and have led Morrie’s to where it is today. The Company is one of the leading dealership groups in the Twin Cities area. We are excited about the opportunity we have to enhance our operations and expand in the Upper Midwest region over time.”
Tim Sheehy, Partner of FPH, added, “Morrie’s exemplifies everything we look for in an investment – an attractive, unique service offering, a proven and dedicated team, and a demonstrated history of success. We look forward to working closely with Karl and the management team to achieve our strategic goals.”
For more information on Morrie’s, please visit http://www.morries.com.
About Morrie’s Automotive Group
Morrie’s Automotive Group was founded in 1960 by Morrie Wagener, a graduate of Dunwoody College of Technology. Currently, Morrie’s Automotive Group offers 10 brands, including Aston Martin, Bentley, Cadillac, Ford, Hyundai, Lincoln, Maserati, Mazda, Nissan and Subaru with locations in Minnesota and Wisconsin. For more information, visit www.morries.com.
About Fremont Private Holdings
Fremont Private Holdings is the direct private investment arm of Fremont Group, the investment office for the Bechtel family. FPH makes platform investments of $30 million to $100 million in growing family and founder-owned operating businesses generating $15 million to $50 million in EBITDA. FPH looks to build businesses in partnership with management over the long term and considers both majority and minority investments in a wide variety of industries. For more information, visit www.fremontprivateholdings.com.
Tribute Night at Amsterdam Bar and Hall – Friday, March 4th
Unless you have a Delorean and can time travel back to the early nineties it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to hear Weezer’s entire Blue Album, Alice in Chains’ Dirt and Nirvana’s Nevermind performed live from start to finish. Fortunately, you won’t need Marty McFly’s help this weekend because all three albums will be performed atAmsterdam Bar and Hall’s Tribute night. All this for just $10.
MMA at Mystic – Friday, March 4th
The last fight we saw at a casino was between two seniors trying to stake their claim on a lucrative penny slot. This weekend you can witness more intense fighting when the MMA heads to Mystic Lake. We’re not big on fighting, but you probably knew that since we’re looking for a Volkswagen Hippie Bus.
Bedrace for bridging – Saturday, March 5th
There’s nothing quite like snuggling up in a warm bed — while hurtling down a snowy ski slope. If this sounds like your idea of fun you have to check out the Subway Bed Race for Bridging. This annual winter extravaganza pairs mattresses of all sizes with exuberant individuals looking for a different type of winter activity.
Minnesota Roller Girls Home Season Championship – Saturday, March 5th
Hell on wheels. That’s what we’d call our roller derby team if we had one. Alas, we don’t so we have to resort to watching others play. We’re in luck because theMinnesota Roller Girls Home Season Championship kicks off this Saturday.
A shortlist of upcoming events that piqued our interest
Adult Coloring Club – Thursday, February 25th
Who says coloring should only be for kids? The Coloring Club MPLS gives artistic adults an opportunity to put their colored pencils to use, which is good for people like Amber (one of our graphic designers) who have “coloring degrees” and want to keep up on their skills. Throw in $5 beers from Eastlake Craft Brewery (the event host) and coloring sheets from local artists and you can’t go wrong.
WinterFest at the Union Depot – Friday, February 26th
When he was in town last week Vice President Joe Biden had nothing but good things to say about St. Paul’s Union Depot. If that’s not reason enough to plan a visit maybe a little beer might persuade you. This Friday the Minnesota Craft Brewers guild is hosting Winterfest, a tribute to Minnesota beer. Chase out the winter chill with a multitude of Winter Warmers, hearty food, beer education, entertainment and music
Tech Fest 2016 – Saturday, February 26th
We’re all for introducing our youth to engineering, mechanics and hands-on technology. If we don’t who is going to fix all of these old cars we’ve collected? All kidding aside, The Works Museum is hosting a neat family engineering and technology fair offering hours of technology exploration for the whole family. Consider it a good alternative to sitting home on the couch.
Red Bull Crashed Ice – February 26th and February 27th
The icy spectacle known as Red Bull Crashed Ice returns to St. Paul this weekend for its fifth straight year in a row and serves as the grand finale of the worldwide four-stop tour. If you’ve never been it’s definitely something you should check out. Also be sure to check out the Crashed Ice Village. If you’re looking for easy travel to and from St. Paul Metro Transit will be offering a variety of free shuttles.
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.
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.