Motor Mouth Blog

Come explore the musings of your fellow car enthusiasts. Get excited about the movement we are all a part of!


Some Tips on Leading a Road Tour

P1190700Should you find yourself charged with organizing and leading a car club road tour, here is a list of tips—based on direct experience—that might come in handy, Keep in mind this is for a low-key, relaxed, non-competitive tour… you know… five-max over posted speed and no timed checkpoints.

The cars

Unless it’s a come-one-come-all tour, be very specific about the type and vintage of cars that are eligible. For instance, it could be pre-1980 sports cars, all makes or Mustangs of any year. As to the number of cars, 8 to 12 is perfect. More than that and numerous logistical complications expand exponentially.

The route

Avoid the Interstate; choose scenic routes with nicely spaced points for rest stops, eating, gas and overnight stays. Check with DOTs in each state to get current info on road closures and construction. It’s also helpful to know where ethanol-free gas can be found… there’s an app for that.

Daily distances

Try to keep the longest daily leg less than 300 miles, 250 +/- is perfect. Reduce it a bit each day. 150 to 175 miles on the last day is a good low-key way to end the tour. Try to arrive at each day’s destination about 3:30 to 4:00 pm. It gives people time to unwind, look around or hit the pool before dinner. 9:00 to 9:30 am is a nice relaxed departure time.


Everyone should have a charged cell phone and a list of other participants cell phone numbers. Forget walkie-talkies, most people don’t know how to operate them and they’re distance limited.


Have a AAA card and a clear policy on this. Is it “you’re on your own sister” or, “we’re with you to the bitter end?” I suggest rendering aid until it’s obvious amateur help is futile… then it’s “call for help and meet us down the road.” Be sure to keep an eye on the ammeter as well as gas and temp. Electrical issues are numero uno in old cars… especially with Brits.


First off, there is no law that says everyone has to eat together. Second, not everyone likes Thai food, or seafood, or BBQ. Allow people to partner up as desired and eat where and how they want. If possible, choose restaurants within walking distance of where you’re staying. There are downsides to banquet style seating. It can be a logistical hassle and limit restaurant options. It slows service (one end of the table is having dessert while the other end is still waiting for the salad), you can’t talk to more than three or four people anyway and it often adds a surcharge to the bill.


There are basically two types, modern and “historic.” Some people find old hotels charming, some don’t. As with dining, allow tour participants a choice and just have a “meet at such-and-such a time at such-and-such a place” for the next day’s departure.

One more thing

Avoid discussions centered on politics and religion… too polarizing! Stick to telling funny self-deprecating stories, discussing the ride, the weather or “how about those Huskies – Ducks — Seahawks or (insert favorite team here).”

Now, enjoy the ride!

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Dream Cars: Le Sabre, Firebird 1, Centurion

From the Historical Vehicle Association:

In our continuing series taking a look at General Motors “Dream Cars” of the 1950s, we spotlight GM’s one-of-a-kind “rolling laboratory,” the first gas-turbine-powered “rocket car” and a Buick with features decades ahead of its time.

1951 GM Le Sabre

Facts And Legends: It’s as if GM told their head of design, Harley Earl, to take every futuristic auto- motive idea he ever had and put it into one vehicle. Taking its name and styling influences from the Air Force’s F-86 Sabre fighter jets, the original Le Sabre—a nameplate eventually adopted by Buick in 1959—was billed as a “rolling laboratory” for GM construction ideas and technological innova- tion. Some figures estimated a cost of anywhere from $500,000 to a million dollars to produce what many considered the most influential GM concept car of the 20th century.

The La Sabre was a test bed for radical new types of materials, most of which turned out to be too expensive to ever use in production cars. The La Sabre’s body was made of cast magnesium panels and hand-formed aluminum. After Motorama, Earl used the dream car as his everyday vehicle, put- ting 45,000 miles on the odometer to prove its roadworthiness.

Click here to read the original post.

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A Blast From the Repast

By David Chesanow

Over the broad and changeable landscape of American popular culture, the automobile crosses all terrains, all social divides: From art and music to sport and lifestyle, among rich and poor, regardless of gender, race, creed or political persuasion, cars continue to elicit the same fanfare and excitement that greeted the first “horseless carriages” in city streets and cow towns across a U.S. on the threshold of the twentieth century. They have always been, and will always be, cool.

Cars, and the people who ride in them, have needs, the most basic of which is fuel. And so car culture met food culture along the nation’s roadways, giving rise to a distinctly American icon: the diner.

Even those with no firsthand experience of real diners still recog- nize them on sight from their depictions in the media and through the paintings of John Baeder, a former advertising art director who began creating stunningly realistic portraits of diners for postcards in the early 1970s; today his work is in major museums and private collections around the world.

Read the full article here.

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Denise McCluggage, 1927 – 2015

To say that Denise McCluggage opened doors for women in racing, or even women in sports journalism, is a bit of an understatement. In many ways, she kicked down those doors, and then spun eloquent prose about doing so. She hobnobbed with the giants of racing’s golden age, including Phil Hill, Sir Stirling Moss and Briggs Cunningham, and impressed many with her natural ability to drive a race car. Denise died on May 6, age 88, so we thought it appropriate to reprint Jim Donnelly’s excellent piece, “The Lady Arrives,” from the July 2012 issue of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car.

Focusing solely on Denise McCluggage’s career as an American sports car racer sells her short. Going out of your way to remind everyone it was a manly exploit would terribly diminish her. She had impressive gifts to explain her personal experiences as an athlete, world traveler and teacher in words and photos. We would argue that no racer, of either gender, has been so fit to archive her experiences as Denise McCluggage.

She has lived in a world that few people could ever imagine. The stars of motorsport are today cloistered away from intruding fans, their motor coaches secured in tight, protected compounds like prairie wagon trains. When Denise was getting known, she would sidle up to a dimly lit table somewhere on the Continent with Stirling Moss, Phil Hill, Denis Jenkinson, Jo Bonnier, Peter Collins, scratching occasional notes. A long, hazardous day would melt into the pleasantness accompanying wine, victuals and conversation.

Click here to see the original post from Hemmings Daily.

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Come One, Come All!

ACM is all about inclusion.

“INCLUSION” rather than “exclusion” is at the heart of ACM’s mission and vision. AMERICA’S CAR MUSEUM is about cars—all manner and type: large and small, new and old, foreign and domestic, the exotic and the plebian. Granted, to gain entry into
the ranks of the Museum’s collection, a car must represent—in some fashion—historical and cultural significance, recognized aesthetic quality or ‘break-out’ technical achievement. No such qualifications will be applied to our members, visitors or their cars!

We’ve all been there when a 60 something hot rodder sneers at the 20 something in the winged and blown ‘rice burner or when Harley riders snub anything Japanese. Silly isn’t it? In truth, we all can ‘just get along.’ All it takes is a common bond with sufficient adhesive strength to overpower our compulsion to form ever more tightly focused and exclusionary sub- cultures.

Read more here.

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The Days of Chrome and Hyperbole

Walt Tomsic

It may not be wine and roses, but I miss the days when cigar chomping, seer-sucker suit wearing ad men were in charge of naming stuff… particularly car stuff! Take this for example, the 1958 Buick featured 160 ‘floating’ chrome squares on its grill. Did they call it a “Buick grill?” How plebian! No, it’s the “Fashion-aire Dynastar Grill.”

In the realm of the overstatement, copy flacks were not about to be outdone. The sales brochure for the 1958 Pontiac proclaimed it to be “the boldest advance in 50 years!” I guess the writer never heard of George Patton or Albert Einstein.

Read the full article here.

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Robert De Niro cast as Enzo Ferrari in new film

Chris Bruce

In one of Robert De Niro’s early defining roles, he portrays a young Vito Corleone as a man climbing up the ranks of the New York underworld in flashbacks during The Godfather: Part II. Soon, we might see De Niro stepping into the shoes of a godfather from the Italian sports car industry in a biopic about Enzo Ferrari.

According to The Guardian, De Niro recently told an Italian newspaper that the film would go into production soon and would shoot in Italy. This project apparently holds a high priority for him, and in addition to starring, De Niro’s company is co-producing. It could be a while before we see the film in theaters because the script is still being written. We’re also told that Clint Eastwood might sit in the director’s chair, if he likes the story.

Ferrari had a life every bit as fascinating as many fictional characters with stints as a racecar driver, an engineer and of course a canny businessman. He also held a long passion for motorsports, which could make for some very exciting scenes. According to The Guardian, the film would focus on Ferrari’s life from around the founding of his sportscar company in the mid ‘40s through to his death in the late ‘80s.

With characters like Jake Lamotta in Raging Bull and Sam Rothstein in Casino under his belt, De Niro certainly has shown the chops to portray a larger-than-life figure like Ferrari. Hopefully, he has retained the clout to get the film finished, though. Similar motorsports biographies haven’t made it to the screen, such as the supposed Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise flick Go Like Hell or the Mad Men-inspired TV show about sports car racing in the ‘50s and ‘60s.

Click here to see the original post.


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The Social Side of ACM

From the very beginning, America’s Car Museum was envisioned as being a center of car culture, a gathering place for enthusiasts and a community resource… a place that would enrich the educational and social life of the region. To that end, ACM is purpose built to be sociable.

A perfect example of the social side of ACM is our “Wine & Wheels Annual Gala.” The themes may change from year to year, what doesn’t change is the excitement level. Guests at ACM galas can expect cocktails, a gourmet dinner, dancing and an auction loaded with enticing items and unique experiences. Thus far ACM’s gala evenings have raised a total of $1.2 million to support our menu of ever expanding programs and exhibits.

We hosted our first gala back in September, 2011. “Hard Hat & High Heels” provided an evening of elegant whimsy as guests were encouraged to come decked out in a blend of formal attire and construction crew gear. Not fully completed, the ‘work in progress’ Museum provided a preview of things to come… the Grand Opening in spring 2012.

The first gala to apply the “Wheels & Heels” label took place on June 1, 2013. Subtitled “Jazz!,” the event celebrated post-war style in cars, fashion and music. Once again, period dress was encouraged. June 7, 2014 saw the Showcase Gallery morph into a “CARnivale” Rio-style as Samba rhythms drifted through the interior of the Museum while outside the night sky exploded with a stunning fireworks display.

On June 26, 2015, we’ll be hosting “Kentucky Derby, A Celebration of Horsepower.” Enjoy live Bluegrass music and mint juleps while placing bets on the best Derby hat. In addition to gourmet cuisine and an extraordinary silent and live auction, you can purchase a raffle rose and experience another fabulous fireworks display. Get your tickets now, it’s almost post-time.


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Whats With the Flames?

When and where were they born and what do they mean?

In answer to the first question, I can say without the slightest hesitation or equivocation, I have absolutely no idea and neither does anyone else.

As for their meaning, the answer is both obvious—they look cool—and a bit more complex, involving how we, as human beings, are visually and emotionally hard-wired. After due research, I’ve come to the conclusion that the best way to approxi- mate the first ‘pyrographic’ occurrence is to look at old photographs. Cars have always been a fit subject for the photo-op and rods are no exception. The earliest pictorial evidence of a “flame job” I’ve been able to find is a shot dated 1938. It shows a rather rough and ready little dry lakes racer named “Skip it.” Cobbled together in 1934, the car was redone in 1938 and painted cream with some-what crude and amorphous red flames licking back from the cowl. Are these the first flames… subject zero? I seriously doubt it. I wouldn’t be surprised to discover one from the 1920s. For all I know, old Karl Benz had a flame or two tucked away on that three wheeler.

View the full article here.

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Always Something New at ACM!

MemberYou know how sometimes when you pay a return visit to a museum it’s like, “been there, seen that?” Well that’s never the case at America’s Car Museum. From its opening on June 3, 2012, the Museum has taken innovative steps to avoid being a ‘one and done’ destination by continually refreshing the visitor experience… all year round.

A program of rotating exhibits is first and foremost in ACM’s strategy of keeping things fresh. If you were one of the several hundred thousand people to visit the Museum during the grand opening year, you would have enjoyed reliving the golden age of British sports cars as part of the “British Invasion” exhibit. Drop in again and you’ll see a whole new batch of cars under that same, yet ‘refreshed’ Union Jack. Say you saw “Route 66: Dream of the Mother Road”—see it again for the addition of some great vintage era station wagons. Even the cars Harold LeMay collected are routinely rotated to demonstrate just how rich and varied his collection truly is.

In the three short years America’s Car Museum has been welcoming visitors the Museum’s many exhibit galleries have showcased everything from Ferraris, Corvettes, Mustangs and VW Beetles to custom coachwork classics and alternative propulsion vehicles. ACM has celebrated the prized cars of Master Collectors, the heroes and bad boys of NASCAR and the “Truck that Grew up with America”… the Ford F-Series. July 10 will see the Museum bulk up big time as “American Muscle Rivals to the End” rumbles on to the main stage… ACM’s Showcase Gallery. These are the cars that, more than any other, defined the U.S. automotive scene in the 60s and early 70s.

If all this isn’t sufficient cause to keep you coming back, we haven’t even mentioned the Museum’s calendar of events that feature vintage motorcycles, concours class automobiles, drive-in movies and cruise-ins. Even the stock in the ACM Store constantly contains new and exciting gifts, books and items of clothing. Oh yes, and then there are all those educational programs for youngsters, adults and families. The point is, no matter how many times you visit America’s Car Museum, you’re in for a “fresh” adventure.

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