National Corvette Museum Celebrates 20th with 2014 Caravan

Michigan, Indiana, Western Kentucky Caravan News

ImageAn Update from Larry Courtney, 2014 MI Corvette Caravan Leader

It seems we have been on the road at least two weeks out of every month and are getting ready to leave for Texas in a couple of days to do Vettes and Jets on the Lex. The back of our Corvette says “Have Vette Will Travel” and we do. We hope some of you have the opportunity to attend a couple of our events, the Birthday Bash at the Ren Cen and Corvettes on Woodward.

We are leaving Michigan Tuesday August 26, 2014 and will arrive in Bowling Green, Kentucky on Wednesday August 27, 2014. I was given the added responsibility of the Indiana Caravan and I welcome them. The Indiana Caravan will be joining us in Indianapolis.

The Route

I will begin up north. Tom Kelly of Hank Graff Chevrolet told me he would love to be the rally point for people in and around the Flint/Davison area. Next year will be a very special year for Graff Chevrolet because they are celebrating their 100th Anniversary. If you are in the area stop in and say congratulations. Jim Schoenfield from Team Corvette Club said he will help Tom in coordinating the rally point. I appreciate their help. Final preparations will be announced later but plan to leave Graff Chevrolet by 10 AM so you will be at the meeting place in Marshall Michigan.

Marshall Michigan

I met with Tim Caron of Caron Chevrolet in Marshall and he is looking forward to having his dealership lot filled with Corvettes. By the time we get there Tim’s major remodeling will be complete. My hope is that everyone from the Flint area and the West Coast of Michigan groups will be at Caron Chevrolet around noon on Tuesday August 26, 2014. There are many Fast Food restaurants nearby. Jeff McQuade of Calhoun County Corvettes is helping with the coordination of activities at Caron Chevrolet.

From the East side of Michigan

I will lead the caravan from Matick Chevrolet Redford Michigan. We will begin to assemble at 8 AM and leave at 10 AM for Marshall. Matick Chevrolet will have completed their major renovations that include the largest indoor showroom in the state. Matick Chevrolet is a sponsor of the 2014 Michigan Corvette Caravan.

We will have three groups blending in Marshall Michigan. We should be on the road by 2 PM for our next destination Indianapolis, Indiana.

I have made arrangement with the Wyndham West in Indianapolis for our night stop. This hotel can accommodate everyone plus have a secure parking area with washing stations. The hotel is also located about ten minutes away from the Indianapolis Speedway. The room rate is 105.00 per night and includes breakfast. They cannot make reservation more than 11 months in advance so please be patient. Wednesday night the hotel is offering for sale hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, fries, nachos and more. I will be sending a complete menu with prices. Verna and I had the hamburgers and fries and they were good. I have a room reserved for us to eat in that I am sure you will like. There is also a nice Italian restaurant in the hotel and a great lounge.

Wednesday morning after breakfast we will head over to the Indianapolis Speedway for a lap and pictures of you and your Corvette crossing the finish line. The exact time is still not determined because the event is more than six months away.

When you leave the Speedway you will head south to Louisville Kentucky and Church Hill Downs. I have arranged for everyone to have lunch there. No, we will not be going on the track. I would like us to be on the road by 2 PM so we can arrive at the Museum around 4 PM. We will do a parade lap around the Museum and head for our hotels.

Hotels in Bowling Green

I am working on booking more blocks of rooms in Bowling Green. Some hotels were not able to make reservations more than 12 months in advance. Many of the hotels in Bowling Green are smaller and will not be able to fit the entire caravan so we will be spread out in the area. Fortunately it is a small area and you will probably be within a fifteen minute drive of the Museum.

I was at the Museum last week and received the following information:

For all of you inquiring about hotel rooms in Bowling Green during the 20th Anniversary Celebration next year, I can now let you know that the Bowling Green Convention and Visitors Bureau has established a website showing those hotels that have rooms available. The site is new and the amount of information is in the beginning stages but now you have somewhere to go to look for rooms. The BGC&VB will maintain this page and update as they receive inputs from the hotels. As time progresses we know that cancellations will be occurring and when they do, the hotel will provide the information for this page. The good folk there deserve our sincere thanks and gratitude for taking on this task and making every effort to ensure we have a great event. Please do not call them for information as this site was established to cut down on the contacts with both them, the NCM, and myself. The URL

This is my third caravan and there are always rooms available in Bowling Green. Keep checking the Visitors web site.

The Corvette Plant is not giving tours yet but I am sure they will be announcing them soon. Don’t forget they did a major set up for the C7. The Museum will be announcing their events in the coming months. Watch your email. The Museum has broken ground for the Motorsports Park and there is lots of earth moving going on right now. I will be sending more details on the Indianapolis stop and menus and pictures of the hotel and meeting room I have for us.

Right now it is just my wife Verna and I planning this trip. We have traveled to many parts of the state and have sponsored events to get people interested in joining the caravan. When we get closer to the kick off we will need help at all of the meeting places. We plan to have goodie bags and t-shirts for everyone and we need help distributing them at the checkpoints. If you are an individual or group or club please let me know if you can help.

We have two trips left this season. Next week we will be in Texas for a fund raiser for Wounded Warriors and the first week in October we will be in Gatlinburg Tennessee for a Corvette show there. I have been trying to keep up with emails with my new smart phone but I guess I am not smart enough to be very successful with it. Whatever happened to just talking to people. I am taking my laptop with us so I can keep in touch.

Please feel free to call me at 586-876-6923

When emailing or replying to my emails please sign your name and give contact information. Thank you

Matick Chevrolet

Corvette Central

I am seeking more sponsors.

Please contact me for more information

Larry Courtney
Michigan Captain

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Where Did Those Amusement Park Bumper Cars Go?

Remember driving the bumper cars at amusement parks? They were so much fun…
Well, now what do you do with old Bumper Cars?


Yes, you read that right; these little beasties are street legal.

They use Kawasaki or Honda motorcycle engines and vintage bumper car bodies to create the most awesome form of mini-car we’ve seen in a long time! 

There are seven of these little monsters floating around California and they’re all the creation of one man, Tom Wright, a builder in the outskirts of San Diego who figured the leftovers of the Long Beach Pike amusement park needed a more dignified end than the trash heap.

They were originally powered by two-cylinder Harley Davidson Motorcycle engines but they rattled like heck due to two-cylinder vibration. Tom replaced them with four-cylinder Honda or Kawasaki 750s.

A couple have measured capable of 160 MPH, which is terrifyingly fast for machines with such a short wheel base. 

By the way, they are almost indestructible in accidents too!!! J

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Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour® Starts Saturday in Milford MI

ImageDETROIT Road trip! It’s that time of year again for the annual automotive pilgrimage known as the Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour® and Chevrolet Performance helps get it started on Saturday, June 2, at General Motors’ Milford Proving Ground. The Power Tour winds up in Arlington, Texas, on June 9.

With more than 3,000 hot rods, muscle cars, classic trucks and late-model performance vehicles and approximately 12,000 enthusiasts accompanying them, the Milford kick-off represents the largest-ever group of “civilians” to visit the secure test facility.

“This is a great opportunity for enthusiasts to get a glimpse behind the curtain at GM and for us to get in touch with our performance customers,” said Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president of Chevrolet Performance Vehicles & Motorsports. “It also allows enthusiasts to get a closer look at our product development and the people behind our engines, performance parts and vehicle accessories.”

The Milford Proving Ground is the automotive equivalent of “Area 51,” serving as the primary testing facility for GM’s future products. When it opened in 1924, MPG was the world’s first dedicated automotive manufacturer testing facility. Today, it covers approximately 4,000 acres and contains more than 130 miles of driving surfaces of all types, including a 3.8-mile oval track and a 4.5-mile circle track with steep banking that enables vehicles to be driven around it at up to 120 mph without the need for steering input. The “Black Lake” area is a 67-acre pad of blacktop used for a variety of vehicle dynamics testing. Special certification is required for drivers on some of the tracks.

Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour participants and visitors to the Proving Ground on June 2 will have to follow strict security guidelines – including where they can and cannot take photos – but GM is offering unprecedented access, including tours and ride-and-drives on several of the tracks.

Chevrolet Performance will offer a host of activities and special features, including:

  • A heritage engine display
  • A collection of heritage vehicles
  • Powertrain demonstrations
  • A GM Design Center display.

The kick-off event also marks the official public debut of The BLOCK – a unique, online social community for car enthusiasts of all stripes. Participants can register on site and upload a profile of their car, and they’ll also receive a custom “QR” code decal that can be affixed to a window. Fellow enthusiasts who scan the code will be taken directly to The BLOCK’s home page on their smartphone.

Representatives from The BLOCK will be combing through the cars at Milford, looking for interesting rides and individuals for future stories. The BLOCK, powered by Chevrolet Performance, enables consumers to create profiles, post content and drive discussions.

A trio of popular concepts will be on display:

  • The Camaro Hot Wheels SEMA show car – inspired by the “Custom Camaro,” the dazzling Spectraflame® 1:64-scale toy that was one of the original 16 Hot Wheels cars released in 1968. This dazzling Camaro was collaboration between GM Design and the Hot Wheels Design studio. It features a brilliant, chrome-green finish.
  • The prototype COPO Camaro drag car – What started as a concept is now reality: The 2012 COPO Camaro specialty drag-racing model. Production was recently announced and only 69 will be built to shake up NHRA’s Stock and Super Stock ranks. Chevrolet Performance’s official video of the COPO prototype undergoing testing on the drag strip has been viewed more than 60,000 times.
  • The Sonic Boom SEMA show car – introduced at the 2011 SEMA Show, it is a sound system-based concept that delivers high performance of an auditory type. A high-tech head unit controls the system, which features a pair of 15-inch subwoofers and 10 six-inch mid-range speakers. The concept Kicker system delivers 4,000 total Watts of power.

Also at Milford will be a display of Cadillac performance vehicles, including the CTS-V Series.

Representatives from Chevrolet Performance will be preparing a caravan of 14 specialty vehicles that will do the “long haul” – driving the entire distance of the Hot Rod Magazine Power Tour. Highlights include:

  • 2012 Camaro ZL1 coupe – a production version of the new, daily-drivable supercar that features a 580-hp supercharged 6.2L engine and technically advanced drivetrain – including third-gen Magnetic Ride Control – to deliver 0-60 performance of four seconds, 11-second quarter-miles and a top speed of 184 mph.
  • 2012 Camaro SS “Synergy” convertible – a specially equipped production package with a body-color grille, ground effects, “gill” graphics, hood stripes and flangeless 21-inch wheels. Inside is a gray leather interior accented with a Hurst short-throw shifter.
  • 2012 Corvette Grand Sport Convertible Centennial Edition – commemorating Chevrolet’s 100th Anniversary and featuring Carbon Flash Metallic paint, satin-black graphics, satin-black wheels, unique badges depicting Louis Chevrolet and a special-trimmed interior.
  • 2013 Corvette ZR1 Indianapolis 500 Pace Car – the car used to pace the 2012 Indianapolis 500 – and driven by celebrity chef Guy Fieri – will run with the Power Tour field.
  • 2012 Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle – a specially decked-out demonstrator of Chevy’s new, rear-drive Caprice police car will “monitor” the Power Tour. Powered by a 6.0L V-8 rated at 364 hp, Michigan State Police tested the Caprice PPV and recorded 0-60 performance of less than six seconds with a top speed of 154 mph.
  • 2012 Sonic five-door – equipped with a bevy of popular accessories, this eye-catching sport-compact suggests a Power Tour contender for a new generation.
  • 1953 Suburban – riding on TrailBlazer SS frame with rear-wheel drive, this orange-and-black supercharged Suburban is powered by a Chevrolet Performance LSX376 crate engine fitted with an LSA supercharger kit that makes 665 horsepower. The cargo area is filled with a full complement of vehicle detailing equipment in custom storage bins.
  • 1970 Dale Jr. Chevelle – designed in cooperation with Dale Earnhardt Jr., this modern muscle car debuted at last fall’s SEMA Show, introducing the industry’s first Connect and Cruise Crate Powertrain Systems. It features Chevrolet Performance’s factory-engineered LSA/4L85-E engine and transmission combination, matched with all the electronic control modules, wiring harnesses and other key components.
  • 1955 E-Rod Chevy – Chevrolet Performance’s groundbreaking hot rod that introduced the emissions-compliant E-Rod crate engine systems. It features a Corvette-based LS3 engine package, with components including a fuel tank evaporative emissions canister, which helped it earn EO number D-126-30 from California Air Resources Board – the first ever for a performance crate engine.

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Classic stars of Auto Advertising

The Early Years of Golden Stars & Automotive Advertising
By: Robert Tate

From:  MotorCities National Heritage Area | 200 Renaissance Center, Suite 3148 | Detroit | MI | 48243

During the 1930’s, many star actors and actresses participated in the automotive advertising business. In 1936, Shirley Temple became the new promotional spokesperson for Dodge and generated memorable taglines such as, “My Goodness, what a Grand Car!” During this time, Shirley was also starring in hit films such as Captain January. Besides being a spokesperson for Dodge, various merchandise capitalized on Shirley’s wholesome image generating Shirley dolls, dishes, and clothing.

The American buyers purchased numerous 1936 Dodge models enabling Dodge to maintain its status as the 4th bestselling vehicle within the United States. The average price for a 1936 Dodge model was $640.00.

Claudette Colbert, one of the most talented film stars, was also a spokesperson for Dodge. In 1929, Claudette starred as Joyce Roamer in Lady Lies. The film was a huge success and later that year, Claudette starred in another hit film called The Hole in the Wall. Given her success, it was no question that Claudette could afford a variety of expensive vehicles; however, she preferred the 1936 Dodge models, not only because of its style and beauty, but also its economical price. This factor is something that most Americans could relate to especially during the depression years.

Another advertising theme featured Walt Disney and the all new 1939 De Soto. The campaign was known as, “Walt Disney, You’ve got Another Hit!” Mr. Walt Disney was born on December 5, 1901 and became an American film producer, director, voice actor and animator. Disney is particularly noted as the world’s well known creator of fictional characters such as Mickey Mouse. He also won seven Emmy Awards and gave his name to the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort theme parks located in the United States. Disney was a practical man who encouraged buyers that the De Soto was the vehicle of choice to purchase.

De Soto’s advertising campaign placed much emphasis on the vehicle popularity along with highlighting the prominent star actor, Mr. Spencer Tracy. During this advertising campaign, the 1939 De Soto model was shown with white wall tires on both sides and optional chrome wheel trim which added much to the car’s appearance.

Another famous actor, Bing Crosby, lend his name to the Dodge Advertising industry. Bing was known as the “perfect voice” allowing him to achieve great popularity in radio, recordings, and motion picture films. His advertising was lively with strong colors which supported the new 1936 Dodge.
During 1935, Mr. Dick Powell was the featured actor that created style for Buick advertising. In the advertising, Mr. Powell is featured with the famous Berkeley girls. Warner Bros selected Buick for its shots of musical revue displays which became very popular among consumers and the buying public.

No matter the company, no matter the movie star, the 1930’s will always be remembered as a time when the automotive manufactures decided to turn the power of the golden age stars over chrome and wheels to advertise their vehicles.

A special thanks to Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher, for donating the story to the MotorCities Story of the Week program. Photographs courtesy of Robert Tate’s personal collection (Bibliography: Butler, Don -The Plymouth and De Soto Story /Bibliography: McPherson, Thomas, The Dodge Story)
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Chevrolet Announces New SS Performance RWD Sedan

DETROIT – Chevrolet today announced the return of a V-8 powered, rear-wheel-drive performance sedan to the U.S. lineup, the Chevrolet SS.  The SS will also be Chevrolet’s next NASCAR Sprint Cup racecar and will debut in its race configuration at the 2013 Daytona 500.

The limited production version of the Chevrolet SS will be a 2014 model and will arrive in dealer showrooms in late 2013. It is the first time in 17 years that Chevrolet will offer a rear-wheel-drive sedan for sale in the United States.

Chevrolet has a long history of using the SS (Super Sport) designation on high-performance models of some of its most enduring nameplates. The SS designation first appeared in 1957 on a Corvette prototype race car built under the guidance of Zora Arkus-Duntov with the plan to enter it in the Le Mans 24-hour race.

The first production vehicle offered with an SS option was the 1961 Impala – 453 were built with the performance upgrades which included a modified chassis and suspension, power brakes, a steering column mounted tachometer and unique wheels and tires. The latest SS model in the Chevrolet lineup is the fifth-generation Camaro, which debuted in 2010.

The Chevrolet SS will be a derivative of the award-winning global rear-wheel-drive architecture that spawns performance vehicles like Chevrolet Camaro and Holden’s upcoming VF Commodore.  The much anticipated Australian-built car will benefit from significant technology advances which enhance overall performance.

“As a passionate race fan and performance enthusiast, I am thrilled that Chevrolet will deliver a true rear-wheel-drive NASCAR racecar in the SS that is closely linked to the performance sedan that will be available for sale,” said Mark Reuss, president of GM North America.  “The Chevrolet SS is a great example of how GM is able to leverage its global product portfolio to deliver a unique performance experience that extends beyond the track. I am personally looking forward to driving it.”

Chevrolet was America’s best-selling performance car brand in 2011 with Camaro and Corvette accounting for one out of every three sports cars sold in the United States.  The addition of the SS should strengthen Chevrolet’s position as a leading performance brand.

Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world’s largest car brands, doing business in more than 140 countries and selling more than 4 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature spirited performance, expressive design and high quality. More information on Chevrolet models can be found

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Remembering Michael J Kollins

From the motor Cities Heritage Center
By: Robert Tate

Several years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Michael Kollins at the National Automotive History Collection located in Detroit, Michigan. We both had the pleasure to serve as Board of Trustee members for the National Automotive History Collection. Mr. Kollins was known as the perfect gentlemen and noted automotive historian. 

On March 20, 1912, Mr. Kollins was born in St. Clairsville, Ohio. In 1932, he received an engineering degree from a local college in Detroit, Michigan, currently known as Wayne State University. He worked as an automotive engineer and test drove Packard automobiles as well as prototype and pre-production vehicles at the Packard Proving Grounds located in Utica, Michigan. 

As a hobby, Mr. Kollins would build race cars and drive them during the automotive racing season. He also took great interest in disassembling engines from Packard models and other manufactures such as Cadillac and Pierce-Arrow to see what the rivals were building. 

During World War II, Mr. Kollins enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served as an engineering officer, engineering training officer, Chief Machinists, and as a Lieutenant. He also wrote and produced the PT boat manuals for the war. Once the war ended, he returned back to Packard and by late 1945, he published the Serviceman’s Training programs for Electromatic Clutch and Eco-no-Drive. He also wrote and directed the Serviceman’s Training School information on carburetor, ignition, engine diagnosis, tune up, transmission and overdrive automotive documents. In 1955, Mr. Kollins worked for Chrysler serving as the manager of the technical services and warranty administration offices. He also served as manager of the Highland Park service center until 1975. 

Mr. Kollins continued to contribute to the automotive world by publishing a four volume set called Pioneers of the U.S. Automotive Industry. He was an active member of the Society of Automotive Historians and of the SAE Historical Committee. He was involved with the Indianapolis 500 for over 50 years. He served as a former member of the AAA Contest Board and later became Technical Vice Chairman and Director of Product certification for the United States Auto Club. In addition, he was a formal automotive speaker in which he stated was his favorite work of all. 

On December 3, 2003, Mr. Kollins died at 91 years of age in his home located in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. He continues to be remembered as one of the most inspirational, knowledgeable, and talented men within the automotive industry. 

A special thanks to Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher, for donating the story to the MotorCities Story of the Week program. Photographs courtesy of the National Automotive History Collection (NAHC) of the Detroit Public Library. (Bibliography: Scott Gerald (February 22, 1999), Detroit’s Mr. Packard Recalls Lifetime of Fun pg 6A Tech Center News) For further information please visit or email .
Please do not use any photographs without the permission of the National Automotive History Collection. For further information contact Robert Tate at If you have a story that you would like to donate to be featured as a MotorCities Story of the Week, email Lisa Ambriez
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Lapeer Road Cruise Hits Lake Orion, Oxford, Metamora and Lapeer June 16, 2012

Fifth Annual Lapeer Country Cruise ready to Rock ‘n Roll

Celebrate the heydays of the ‘50s and ‘60s when cruising was a way to celebrate Michigan summer weekends. Rev up your hotrod or muscle car, show off your collector or custom automobile, and spend the day cruising a stretch of Lapeer Road on Saturday, June 16, from noon-9 p.m.

The fifth annual Lapeer Road Country Cruise, puts cruisers and spectators driving on an 25-mile stretch of Lapeer Road through the Villages of Lake Orion and Oxford, winding through the Village of Metamora, and then on to the City of Lapeer.

Each community will host events and other activities throughout the weekend. Drive-in style food and ample parking will be available all along the route, courtesy of the event sponsors.

An outdoor 1950’s Sock Hop and live entertainment noon-6 p.m. will be in Harmer Park. There will be plenty of parking for cruisers.  Various locations in Lake Orion and Oxford will feature outdoor dining, and the auto dealers at the south end turnaround will be serving food in their parking lots.

For information on the Metamora Village Sock Hop, call the Historic White Horse Inn at 810-678-2150 or email

For details on the Lapeer Road Country Cruise and other scheduled events call Walt Wheeler at Royal Autosound (248-628-5500) or please visit the Cruise

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