Our new issue features Chasing Che's Chevy through Castro's Cuba, revisiting Checkpoint Charlie in a Trabant Cabrio, a Pacific Northwest treehouse adventure in a Dodge Grand Caravan, and searching for Steve McGarrett in Honolulu in a Mercury Grand Marquis.
By Richard Truesdell
It's been an interesting month; no actually it's been an interesting 90 days or so. About 90 days elapsed from when we started working on issue one and when we threw the switch and went live at March 20. For the next 10 days or so we continued to tweak Automotive Traveler until we officially joined the publishing world on April 1.
Some people said some good things about Automotive Traveler, especially Peter DeLorenzo over at autoextremist.com. He said that in an era dominated by the Internet, where mainstream motoring publications were no longer relevant, if we stay the course, we have a chance for success. More than 70 automotive and travel writers from around the world said that we are on to something and offered more than 100 road trip suggestions, some which are already thought we were crazy to give away so much content for free and I can tell you that it's expensive but we're building what we think will be a strong foundation for future growth. Others said thanks but no thanks.
In the 30 days since issue one premiered, we've added three important new members to the editorial team, some names you might know: Jim McCraw, Gary journalists and are members of the jury that determines the North American Car and Truck of the Year announced each January at the North American (Detroit) International Auto Show. Scott, like Brandy Schaffels our Managing Editor, David Newhardt our photography columnist, and yours truly, have over the years made contributions to Motor Trend. All three are respected journalists and excited that they've come onboard. One of the things that I've always hated in many of the magazines I read is when the editor, on his or her page like this, goes over all of the stories in the issue. It seems pretty useless. We've put together a table of contents and if you're here, I know you can read; it all seems pointless so I'll forgo that formality and just say I hope you enjoy what we've assembled on the next 100 or so pages.
Christopher P. Baker is an award-winning travel photographer with credits in many of the world's major publications. Among his broad portfolio, Chris is the author of several books focusing on Cuba, and in this issue he brings us "Chasing Che's Chevy" in which he describes the country, as well as its collection of decades-old Chevys, chrome-laden Chryslers, big-boned Cadillacs, Edsels, Hudsons, and Studebakers. His images and photo features appear regularly in publications as diverse as Elle, Newsweek, Caribbean Travel & Life, Westways, BBC's World, The Robb Report, plus newspapers from the Los Angeles Times to the New York Post.
Scott Mead With a little help from his grandfather, Scott Mead began driving at the tender age of 3. By age 8, Scott was racing go-karts while his father raced time trials. A car guy through and through, Scott began freelancing in automotive journalism in 1995, and he's been published in Muscle Mustangs and Fast Fords, Mustang Monthly, Super Ford, and Car magazines. He has collaborated on numerous car books, including Viper and Mustang 5.0 and 4.6. Scott served a tenure with Edmunds.com as Senior Editor prior to joining Motor Trend and Truck Trend magazines in 2000. He caught a plane to Hawaii in 2004 and set up shop on the island of Maui, where he writes and shoots on a daily basis.
Cindy-Lou Dale A well-traveled writer on many topics, Cindy-Lou Dale is Automotive Traveler's resident road warrior, having accumulated more than her fair share of frequent flyer miles. An accomplished photographer as well as a writer, Cindy has contributed articles for magazines around the world, including The New York Times, National Geographic Adventure, Islands, Winding Road, Away Magazine, Penthouse and many other titles. Her Checkpoint Charlie assignment was completed at the same time as a separate feature on the erotic nightclubs of Berlin. Cindy-Lou was born in South Africa and currently resides in Brussels with her husband and children.
Jim McCraw Freelance writer Jim McCraw has been writing about cars, motorcycles, and racing for 40 years, in such publications as Car and Driver, Popular Mechanics, Penthouse, The Star Magazine, AutoWeek, The New York Times, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Washington Times, and San Diego Union-Tribune. He's worked for Ford Motor Co. and Ford of Europe managing product, technology, and motorsports public relations in the United States and Europe. He was feature editor and executive editor of Motor Trend Magazine, editor and executive editor of Hot Rod Magazine, and editor of Super Stock Magazine. In this issue, he wrings out the sensational Audi S8 for us.
Adrian Streather is Automotive Traveler's man in Switzerland. After a career in the aviation industry as an engineer, in 2003 Adrian started writing full time. His first book on the Porsche 911 (964) series was published in 2003 and was followed by volumes on the Porsche 911SC, Porsche 911 (993), and Ford GT. It was on the Ford GT project where Adrian first met Automotive Traveler's Richard Truesdell as Rich contributed many photographs of the new Ford GT to Adrian's book. Adrian lives in Switzerland with his family nestled in the mountains overlooking Austria and Germany.
Dusty Dave It was a lucky day when Automotive Traveler first learned of Dusty Dave's self-published book, The Top 100 Rustic Vacations, an outgrowth of his 10-year-old website rusticvacations. com. Dusty is an accomplished travel writer, photographer, and most importantly, an outdoors enthusiast who in his travels has stayed at some of the most unique and charming lodges in North America. When he's not at his home in beautiful Telluride, Colorado, he is most likely traveling around looking for new and interesting rustic vacation destinations, many which will be profiled in his monthly column for Automotive Traveler.
By Dusty Dave
Camping ain't what it used to be. Back in the day, it often started with an incredible test of strength and bravery. Quite often this test was so brutal that the would-be campers scrapped the idea altogether. Yes, I'm talking about the hellacious journey up several flights of stairs and rickety old ladders to gain access to the attic, a place so scary that few dare enter. Full of spider webs (and spiders I suppose, but you never saw them, which made it even scarier), it could make or break even the most die-hard camper. All this, to search in vain through thousands of boxes by the light of one 45-watt bulbs for the ancient camping equipment that you bought at Sears about 20 years ago. If lucky and stumble upon the right box or corner of the attic, the frustration only gets worse when you discover that everything is mildewed and moth mauled. Besides, the low-tech polyester-filled sleeping bags are probably only rated to 50 degrees which means that you are fine if you're sleeping indoors but actually sleeping outside is an entirely different story. So where does this leave you? Well, you can go to REI and spend about three grand on new camping equipment or you can go to one of the following stress-free, already set-up tent sites.
If someone told you that you could go camping just 20 minutes from anta Barbara and enjoy l the amenities of an upscale resort, you probably wouldn't believe them, but at El Capitan Canyon, you get exactly that. They offer 26 spacious 12x14-foot classic white safari tents, built on raised wooden decks, that are appointed with comfortable queen-or double beds and cozy down comforters. All have screened windows, doors with zip-down .aps, and camping lanterns. Bathroom facilities with hot showers are conveniently located nearby. Activities include hiking and biking the canyon, exploring the beach, opening your inner chakra at yoga, enjoying a relaxing massage, attempting the challenging ropes course or just lounging by the heated swimming pool. Rates range from $125 to $150 per tent per night. Sandwiches and BBQ kits can be purchased at their market and deli.
If you are looking for a little more adventure, a lot less people, and a perfectly picturesque wilderness backdrop, then Banff National Park is where you want to head. The best way to get deep into this unspoiled wilderness is on horseback. It may sound a little daunting at first, but don't worry, no previous riding experience is required. The horses don't go any faster than a walk. It works like this: they set you up with a sturdy steed and you ride at a leisurely pace for a good part of the day, stopping for lunch and bathroom breaks along the way until you get to your pre-made tent camp. Other than looking around, talking to your friends, and taking pictures, there's not much else you have to do. When you arrive at camp, like magic, all your gear (clothes and sleeping bag, etc.) are waiting for you. A secret mule train actually goes ahead of the group with all the gear. You then grab your stuff and .nd a tent you like. All the tents are pretty much the same, constructed of sturdy white canvas with wooden .oors. Once you roll out your sleeping bag, grab a .ashlight, and call your tent home, you can walk over to the mess tent for dinner. After dinner everyone usually hangs out around the camp.re telling ghost stories until everyone's too afraid to go back to their tent alone. The next day, you pack up your all gear, eat some grub, then head off to the next camp. Trips can be anywhere from three to six days in length. Rates range from $550 to $1100 depending on the length of your trip and food is included. Tip: bring a warm sleeping bag, even in the summer as the nights can get down below freezing.
Campers never had it so easy. Imagine the sound of the crickets chirping and the river rushing by as you doze off to sleep in your ultra-luxurious canvas tent nestled along the edge of the famous Blackfoot River (the same river that Lewis and Clark explored way back when). If you need anything, no problem, your Camping Butler will get it for you. From starting a fire to finding a good marshmallow roasting stick, your every whim will be attended to--as it should be for the price you're paying. As far as what there is to do at the resort, the list is endless: world-class fly fishing, horseback riding, ATV adventures, mountain biking, trap shooting, a trip to a nearby ghost town, and let's not forget a visit to the spa tent. The resort is located just 30 minutes from Missoula, so day trips into town are easy. Rates are around $600 per night per couple and include three amazing meals.
For those of you who prefer traditional camping to faux camping, but still can't stand the hassle of all the set up and take down, your dream has been answered. Your camping angel, a company called Custom Camps, will do everything for you. All you have to do is show up with your sleeping bag, pillow and some food. Your already-set-up camping site, complete with roomy tent, camp kitchen, propane stove, BBQ, lanterns, ice chest, .rewood, and camp chairs will be awaiting you. The best part is, after you've had a great time in the wilderness hiking all around God's green earth and spending some quality time with your family, you can just take off, it's that easy. Custom Camps will come back and clean everything up. Not a bad way to camp! They have several approved camping sites in northern California to choose from. You can stay as many nights as you want. Rates range from $75 to $85 per person per night.
Funny: Little Johnny didn't do very well in his classroom. During an oral spelling exam, the teacher wrote the word "new" on the blackboard. "Now," she asked Little Johnny, "What word would we have spelled if we placed a K in the front?" After a moment's re.ection, little Johnny smiled and said, "Canoe?"
Fact: Even if your bug spray is working just .ne, .ies and bees can often be quite an annoyance buzzing all around your head. Here's an idea, shoot them with a shot of hairspray and they won't be doing much .ying any more. Enjoy!.
By R. Todd Felton
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
by Hunter S. Thompson
The Beverly Hills Hotel to Malibu to Las Vegas
You have two choices: a bright red Chevy convertible circa 1971 or a white Cadillac Coupe de Ville convertible with a red leather interior. Either is good, but it must be a convertible.
For Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo, the main "characters" of Hunter S. Thompson's 1971 book, this trip begins with a cryptic phone call received at the Beverly Hills Hotel Polo Lounge on a pink phone brought to them by a uniformed dwarf. What follows is a madhouse search for "the story" and "the American Dream" involving a firehouse red Chevy convertible they call "The Great Red Shark," unimaginable amounts of illegal and highly dangerous drugs, and Las Vegas (a town Thompson describes as "not a good town for psychedelic drugs. Reality itself is too twisted"). The story follows Duke and Dr. Gonzo (based on Thompson himself and his attorney, Oscar Zeta Acosta) as they drive from Beverly Hills to Las Vegas to report on the race. Thompson himself covered the same race for Sports Illustrated and then was assigned to the narcotics convention described in the book by Rolling Stone.
While in no way am I suggesting that you should fill your trunk with the mobile narcotics lab they had, or grab an enormous Samoan attorney named Dr. Gonzo as your traveling partner, or park your car on the sidewalk in front of The Desert Inn to try to catch a Debbie Reynolds show, this road trip from the sculptured fantasyland of Beverly Hills to the studded bellybutton of America that is Las Vegas will provide you with more than enough glittering unreality to sear your eyeballs.
The plot, such as it is, begins when Duke receives a phone call telling him to go to Las Vegas to cover the Mint 400, a motorcycle and dune buggy race organized by Dell Webb, the former owner of the Mint Hotel. Deciding that "a total stranger in New York, telling [him] to go to Las Vegas and expenses be damned" was "the American Dream in action," the two men set off to collect money, recording equipment, and a car for their quest to "ride this strange torpedo all the way out to the end." (To see your American Dream in action, take Sunset Boulevard west towards the Santa Monica Freeway, then take Highway 1 north to Malibu.)
After a night rounding up "materials," Duke and Gonzo went swimming in the ocean and had breakfast in a coffee shop somewhere in Malibu. Then they "drove very carefully across town and plunged onto the smog-shrouded Pasadena Freeway, heading east." (From Malibu, follow Highway 1 south to the Santa Monica Freeway. Take Interstate 10 to the Pasadena Freeway. In Pasadena, work your way up to Route 66 to where it merges with 210 East. Join Interstate 15 North in Barstow.)
In Barstow, things begin to happen: "we were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold." Traveling across the desert at 110 miles an hour, the two men encounter hallucinations and an unsuspecting hitchhiker. (Without ingesting hallucinogens, head off across the desert to Las Vegas on I15 N.)
Unfortunately, many of the places that are featured in this book no longer exist. What was the Mint Hotel became one half of the Binion's Horseshoe Hotel and room 850 no longer exists. The Flamingo Hotel where Duke and Dr. Gonzo stayed while covering the narcotics convention has also changed. The DA's convention was located in the Dunes Hotel, which is also gone. However, the Circus Circus casino remains and the Mint Gun Club, now known as the Las Vegas Gun Club, is still firing guns just outside of town..
By Cindy-Lou Dale
Airlines profess to offer the best of everything and lure you with sexy destinations and the promise of a great deal, but let's not forget, like all industries, airlines are in business to make a profit. The more people they can cram into their shiny metal cans, the more money they make, right? Wrong! Savvy travellers are demanding more for less--and they're getting it.
Former British Airways executive, Dave Spurlock, first heard these pleas in 2005, when he founded Eos, a transatlantic carrier whose flights only carry 48 passengers, with 21 square feet of personal space each, compared to the usual 200 seats cramped together on other 757s. Eos' lavish service starts before boarding as travellers departing from New York in the evening have an option of either dining at the luxurious new Emirates Airways lounge or choosing the onboard gourmet equivalent and be spoiled for choice by a four-course menu. For travellers bound for New York, afternoon tea is served prior to landing and includes champagne and a selection of teas as well as an assortment of tea sandwiches, cheesecake, and scones. First-class inflight entertainment options are offered as well as award-winning lie-flat beds. When compared to the business class of an industry giant like British Airways, everything about a voyage with Eos screams first class.
Serious doubts started creeping in when I heard Eos offers all this for a price slightly more than a full economy ticket; so, being sceptical of nature I decided to do a price comparison for a round trip from New York to London. Eos came in at $2,730.00--54 percent cheaper than Virgin Atlantic whose best offering was $5,886.79.
Even more economical is U.S.-based Silverjet, an exclusively business class airline launched in January 2007 who, for the same journey, quoted a staggering $1,798.30 which is 34 percent cheaper than Eos. However, it's not only Silverjet's price that works, their on-ground service ticks all the boxes too, like a 30-minute checkin time, valet parking or the option of a door-to-door chauffeur driven service; and while you're enjoying a drink in their private terminal's club lounge, the ground crew are checking you in and tagging your luggage. What I also like is the on-board ladies room, the night flights also reduce the ambient illumination, mute the call bells, make minimal announcements, and--get this --there's not a drink trolley to be seen, guaranteeing a good night sleep on one of their 100 fl at-beds (767s are designed to carry 300 passengers). Should you choose to sleep until you arrive at the gate, an 'on the go' breakfast will be handed to you on departure.
But there's more! With all this twittering going on about fuel emissions, the tree huggers out there will be pleased to know that Silverjet is the world's first airline to become carbon neutral on all flights. Included in ticket prices is carbon offset contributions which reinvest 'Carbon Points' into a number of climate friendly projects around the world. The scheme is being set up in partnership with leading climate change specialists The CarbonNeutral Company and has been developed in accordance with the CarbonNeutral protocol.
And to think the only extra perk a British Airways first-class ticket buys you (for just over $7,000) is a sleeper suit. Travelling life cannot get much better than this, right? Wrong again.
For the same trip, U.S.-based Maxjet quoted $1,146 which is 36 percent cheaper than Silverjet and a whopping 81 percent of Virgin Atlantic's price! Even though this was a limit period sales price, after which the fares increase to $1,500, this still makes a savings of 17 percent over their next biggest rival. However, demand is high, so be sure to book your seat early. Maxjet flies 767s and seats 102 passengers in premium seats, which recline 160 degrees. I cannot help but wonder about the prices being charged by household names like British Airways and American Airlines --some might call their business-class fares excessive, but I'm certain they'll claim it's profit with a string of reasons why their prices are so high. They'll no doubt start wringing their hands about low-cost airlines not offering frequent fl yer programs and limited destinations, which may be true, but this is where other no-frills airlines like EasyJet and Ryan Air kick in. EasyJet for example, offers a round-trip ticket from London to Ireland for $95 (Ryan Air charges only 50 cents more). Sure, there are lines, seats are offered on a first-come first-serve basis, and you may only be offered a sandwich and coffee on board, but it's a 90-minute hardship you may be prepared to endure when prices are compared to other airlines, like Aer Lingus, who ask for $248 for the same trip.
When it comes to something more than a cramped coach seat, you're being fl eeced by the Goliaths of the airline trade; be smart and check out the low-cost options being offered by the Davids out there..
fl ysilverjet.com--ph. 001-877-359-7458
easyjet.com--ph. 0044-870-6000000 - calls charged at overseas call rate.
ryanair.com Phone 00353-1-2497791 - calls charged at overseas call rate.
For additional inter-European low-cost airlines see discountairfares.com/lcosteur.htm
By David Newhardt
When walking the Earth, we see from a fixed point of view. That is, our eyes "see" the world from a fixed focal length. Modern cameras and lenses--whether they are compact point-and-shoots with integrated zooms or advanced D-SLRs with interchangeable lenses--give us a different perspective. In photography terms, our eyes see the world as if we are viewing through a camera's 50mm lens, which is why this lens is sometimes referred to as a "normal" lens. But thanks to the efforts of optical engineers, wide angle and telephoto lenses allow us to photograph using views significantly different from "normal." In a perfect world you'd slap one of these pieces of glass onto the camera and viola!, you'll be the Ansel Adams of the automotive genre. However, this is far from a perfect world, so care must be taken to use these lenses properly to get the shot you'd be proud to show off.
We'll start with the wide-angle lens, a marvelous tool that can capture the "big" picture. Wide-angle glass must be used very carefully, unless you're a fan of distortion. Most wide-angle lenses tend to distort the edges of the images, "bending" the world. There are wide angle to spend frightening amounts of money to put one in your camera bag. The vast majority of wide-angle lenses in use can deliver outstanding results with just a bit of thought.
The first bit of advice is to keep the lens as level to the horizon as possible. Tilting the camera up or down will result in a curved horizon. Now if that's the effect you're looking for, have a ball. But if you're looking for a close approximation of what your eye is seeing, keeping the will be a good start.
Take care not to place the subject too close to the lenses. I bring this up as wide-angle lenses tend to "stretch" the subject if placed too close to the camera. If your desire is to make your MGB look as long as a Coupe de Ville, here's the answer to your prayers. Distortion of the subject is effortless with the wide-angle lens, and a good photographer uses that ability judiciously.
Another benefit of the wide-angle lens is its remarkable depth of field. When you crank the f-stop down to f22, you're blessed with tack-sharp focus from about one foot from the lens out to in.nity. That's a double-edged sword though; you'd better be sure that you want the viewer to see everything in the picture clearly. There are times when a shallow depth of field can save your butt. For example; you have perfect light on your Ferrari, but the background is just rotten. The answer is to use an f-stop that gives you a narrow band of focus, such as f5.6. The result is that while the Enzo is sharp, the background is fuzzier than the IRS tax code. Our eyes tend to gravitate to items in focus when looking at a photograph, and don't you want the viewer to gaze adoringly at your toy rather than the crummy background?
Quite a few of the points regarding wide-angle lenses can also be applied to telephoto lenses, such as the importance of controlling depth of field. Telephoto lenses don't create distortion like a wide-angle lens, but they do have their own set of unique challenges. First and foremost, unless you are shooting motorsports or pan-shooting a moving vehicle, put the camera on a tripod. Here's why: very few people can hold a heavy camera with a long lens rock steady during a 1/25-second exposure. Want sharp pictures with a long lens? Use a tripod, period.
Telephoto lenses respond well to changes in depth of field. Aim a 300mm lens at your Enzo, dial up f4, and watch the Ferrari pop. Is there an ugly building in the background? The background will be pure fuzz, the building will become an indistinguishable blob, and the eye will zero into the vehicle like a laser. Gotta love that! Using a setting that complements the car? Crank in f16 or 32 and the entire shot will be crystal clear.
Here's a tip for users of cameras that are feature rich: when using a telephoto lens, program the camera to the "mirror up" setting. This feature flips up the viewing mirror when you push the shutter button the first time. Then, push the shutter a second time to trip the actual shutter. The reason for this is that SLR cameras tend to impart a small vibration through the entire structure when the mirror hits its upper position, allowing the light from the lens to strike the shutter. If you're using a very long lens such as a 300mm, that small amount of vibration can mean the difference between a photograph that is painfully sharp and one that is soft. I take virtually every photograph on a tripod with the "mirror up" program in use. That's regardless of the lens I'm using, either wide-angle or telephoto. While I like some things soft, my photographs are not among them.
So don't be afraid to pull those extra lenses out of the camera bag. The beauty of digital photography is that it doesn't cost a thing to experiment. Mistakes are just a delete button away. Don't go through life seeing everything in a "normal" perspective. Play with your camera, and above all else, have fun with it!.
By Brenda Priddy
Dateline: July 24, 2006
Start: 3:45:29 PM
End: 3:48:42 PM
Temperature: 126 degrees Fahrenheit and Extreme solar illumination Temperament: Hostile Engineers
Code Name: BH
Location: Somewhere in the Mojave Desert, USA
Our rules of conduct, code of ethics or vows of secrecy, or simply the need to protect our secret locations prevent us from telling you exactly where we caught this once-top-secret prototype, but we can tell you that it was HOT. Very hot! So hot that in the three minutes and thirteen seconds that it took us to shoot these pictures of the BH prototype, the soles of our shoes started sticking to the black asphalt. But we managed to get what turned out to be the most revealing pictures to date of the car that would evolve into the Genesis Concept.
The "BH" was clad in traditional testing camoufl age comprised of yards leather-like body-wrap for the exterior, mesh-like fabric over the grille, and an easy-to-grab (when a spy is near) cover for the steering wheel, gauges and other interior details.
April 4, 2007
Temperature: 46 degrees Fahrenheit / Overcast / Intermittent Rain
Temperament: Hyundai Executives--Jubilant
Temperament: Media--In Awe...
Vehicle Name: Hyundai Concept Genesis
Location: The Galleria, Level 4, at the New York International Auto Show in Manhattan
To a standing-room-only crowd of journalists and photographers from around the world, as well as inquisitive executives and designers from nearly every major automotive manufacture, Hyundai unveiled their "Concept Genesis" to the sounds of Dave Mason.
But this is not merely a so-called "concept" --the Genesis will evolve into the most important production car that Hyundai has ever built, and except for a few show-quality styling details, we're expecting the production version follow very closely in all the styling cues.
This luxury rear-wheel drive "sport sedan" will be Hyundai's first V8-powered entry here in the States. Early estimates have the Genesis rated at over 300-horsepower, and give it a 0-60 rating at under 6 seconds!
As for it's size, the Genesis measures in right between the Lexus GS and LS, and BMW's 5 and 7 Series--but the designers and engineers managed to give it as much interior space as the larger of those BMW and Lexus models. Besides an elegant sculpted design, the Genesis will be offered with an advance adaptive cruise control system, electronic stability control, a navigation system with a backup camera and more.
And in keeping up with technology, the Genesis will also offer Bluetooth features, a USB/auxiliary input jack, XM Satellite Radio and a HD Radio Receiver!
We've presented you pictures of both a prototype and the sleek show car. One obvious change is the grille--vertical on the test car and horizontal on the Genesis. Although there is still time for changes to take place before production, we've been told that Hyundai sampled three different grille styles, and the one on the Genesis will be the one that will likely make it to production. On the other hand, the ultra-modern headlamps on the concept will be toned-down before production begins--and a close look at the camoufl age-clad test car will actually give better clues as to what changes will take place before the Genesis reaches dealer showrooms. The Genesis will hit the streets in the fall of 2008, as a 2009 model. And although many have compared it to Lexus and BMW models, the Genesis will start under $30,000! It just may be the deal of the century!.
By Gary Witzenburg
Ed Welburn grew up in and around cars in the town of Berwyn, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, where his father ran an auto body and repair shop. In 1958, while attending the Philadelphia Auto Show at the tender age of eight, he decided he wanted to be part of the excitement of creating new cars. Three years later, he wrote GM for suggestions on how to get into vehicle design, and someone there responded: take art courses, get good grades, develop a portfolio.
He did. He majored in sculpture at Howard University and was hired by GM Design following his graduation in 1972. Before long, the affable, energetic, and talented young designer was running an Oldsmobile studio and in 2002 was named Executive Director under Design Vice President Wayne Cherry. When Cherry retired the following year, Welburn succeeded him as only the sixth design vice president in the company's near-100-year history. Enabled and empowered by top GM leadership, he is leading a much-needed turnaround in GM design.
We caught up with him for a brief chat between trips not long after introducing a stunning new Buick Riviera coupe concept car at the Shanghai, China Auto Show.
AT: This hot Riviera concept is a big surprise! Is there a message behind it?
EW: It says a lot about the spirit, energy, and creativity within our design organization, and the collaboration that occurs between our design centers globally. It also says a lot about the capability of PATAC, our design studio in China. This is a very young team, mostly Chinese graduates of design schools in China, which has grown with experience developing vehicles for China. More recently, they've been working with our other studios, primarily in North America but also in Germany, Korea, and Australia. It was the right time and a very natural thing for them to develop a concept vehicle that celebrates the capability and creativity of that studio, which is really blossoming. And it gives the world a bit of a preview of the evolving design language for the Buick brand.
AT: You have said that each GM brand has an "icon" vehicle that sets its design language going forward, and Enclave is it for Buick. Is Riviera a further definition of that?
EW: Absolutely! When you think back to the work we did for Cadillac, there was a series of concept vehicles --Evoq, Cien, Imaj--that signaled the direction and helped develop the form vocabulary for Cadillac before the production CTS and XLR came to market. The first of a comparable series for Buick was a great concept car called Velite. When it was introduced, I said it may never go to production but will have a very healthy influence on vehicles that do. It had a huge influence on the Enclave, and you can see that the form vocabulary continues to evolve and become better defined with this Riviera concept--very powerful, flowing lines, graceful body side shape, strong front end, tremendous flair, and far more expressive, exterior and interior, than what we've shown with other vehicles.
AT: Why revive the Riviera at this time?
EW: Rivieras have always been bold, overt expressions of the Buick brand, very sporty yet elegant. They were designers' cars, real design statements, that [legendary former GM Design VP] Bill Mitchell took very personally, and he was very involved in development of the first few generations of them. We don't take putting that name on a vehicle at General Motors lightly, because it is such a sacred design statement.
AT: Whose idea was this car?
EW: The idea to do a two-door initially came from the studio. I talked to them about it but did not put any definition around it. They started exploring a number of different directions, and as it was developing, I starting smelling a Riviera. They wanted it to be an expression of the new design language for the brand, and as the work continued, it became very obvious that Riviera was the direction they should take.
AT: Is this a potential production design?
EW: It is right in line with the design language for the brand and will have a strong influence on future Buicks. We don't have production plans for it right now, but there is a lot of interest around that type of vehicle. Just when everyone thought coupes were going away, we're starting to see more coupes appearing as concepts and production vehicles.
AT: How important is vehicle design to the ongoing turnaround of General Motors?
EW: Extremely important. It's something we talk about quite a bit, and our leadership gives it a very high priority. In a market as competitive as ours, a brand needs a very strong identity, has to stand for something. Design is a great way to differentiate brands and for a vehicle to stand out in the marketplace.
AT: Buick is doing great in China. Can it be revived in the U.S.?
EW: Yes! I think the Buick brand is a terrific opportunity for us. It's an opportunity to do very bold, expressive design and premium design in a very different way than we do for Cadillac. When you look at the history of Buick and the great Buicks--Roadmasters, Wildcats, Electras, Rivieras, Supers, Skylarks--very bold and expressive, yet graceful in their execution. They were premium vehicles but quite different from Cadillacs, and that holds true today. Cadillacs are bold designs, very directional and dynamic, extremely contemporary and international in size and execution. They have a real edge, inspired by stealth fighters. Buicks are far more romantic, powerful designs with a certain grace. There are no parallel lines on a Buick. They're like brush strokes, going from thick to thin.
AT: Also distinctly American... though now Chinese as well.
EW: The Chinese consider them American designs, their interpretation of American design, and we don't ever want to lose sight of that.
AT: If you were able to drive this vehicle anywhere on Earth, where would it be?
EW: I absolutely see it in Europe, along the Riviera. That stretch of road from Nice to Monte Carlo. I can see it in a number of European venues, on very graceful, sweeping, rolling roads very much like the car itself. It's not an edgy car that you're throwing through corners. It is very true to the original concept of a Riviera, with flowing lines, and it should be someplace with flowing roads and sweeping curves. I see it disappearing into a tunnel, then coming out on the other side..
Whether you're driving across town or across the country, a portable car navigation system makes travel stress-free, and the folks at TomTom have a system for everyone! Priced from $299 to $499, TomTom makes a complete collection of GPS units offering features such as European maps (in addition to those of the US and Canada), spoken instructions, a built-in MP3 player, touchscreens, and Bluetooth technology.
The GO 910 model even offers a "text-to-speech" option so it can announce instructions and place names using your choice of 36 languages and 50 different voices. You guys might want to sharpen your conversation skills or she might prefer listening Bernard from France, or possibly Willem from the Netherlands! (tomtom.com)
While watches always make the perfect gift for the busy traveler, a dual-time watch becomes a very useful accessory for those ladies who skip across time zones like rocks on a smooth lake. Skagen makes these elegant and comfortable dual-time watches with a signature mesh band that complement any attire. The Skagen. com website shows two styles: one with a chrome dial with gold indicators; the other features a stainless steel case with crystal and steel indicators and mother of pearl face. Both feature fully adjustable stainless steel mesh bands. Nordstrom.com also has three stylish variants in rose gold, brown, and black, priced at a reasonable $125. (skagen.com)
And while you're in the car, you may want to consider the proper attire--and that starts with your shoes! Our favorite driving shoes come from our friends at Piloti, and their newest and most trendy shoe is their Prototipo in black suede with "juicy" pink stitching. For the serious driver, Piloti Driving Shoes offer a patented Roll Control cushion behind the heel for added comfort when drivng or touring on foot. In addition, Pilotis also have a reinforced lateral side of the right shoe--designed for heel-to-toe downshifting. Comfort, style, and practically at a very reasonable $85--what women could resist these? From the driver's seat of the Ferrari to the marble and travertine floors of the trendiest stores, she'll always be in casual style with the finest driving shoes from Piloti. Don't be discouraged if you can't find this black-and-hot-pink color combination in the catalogs or even on their website yet--it's brand new and we're the first to show it to you! Just give them a call and tell them that Brenda sent you. (piloti.com)
After looking all around the globe for the perfect travel camera, we just about tripped on the Olympus Stylus 770 SW! But there was no need to worry: the $350 6- ounce 770 SW is crushproof and shockproof! Olympus claims the camera is shockproof in a freefall of up to five feet, and unless you manage to balance over 220- pounds on the small 3 ½ by 2.3- inch camera--it should hold up just fine. AS if that's not enough it's also waterproof up to 33 feet --much more than most will need for the water sports or the unexpected downpour. Sporting digital image stabilization, a 3X optical zoom and 27 different shooting modes, including a video option, the 7.1 Megapixel 770 SW is likely to be all the camera that Mom will need. (olympusamerica.com)
Picture this: She's on a 10-hour overseas flight and maybe she wants to catch a few hours of sleep. Or work on critical facts and figures on her laptop. Or simply read. But the lap-baby in front of her is fussy, her seatmate won't stop chattering, and there apparently is a convention of Main Street bar patrons all with two beers each on their flip-down tray acting as if it's happy hour at the local Hooter's. (We've all been there, and it's not pleasant!) That's about the time she'll pull her Sennheiser PXC 450 noise canceling headphones out of her carryon and become fully aware of just how much you love her. Priced at $500, these high-end "collapsible" headphones with a padded headband and ear pads, come complete with a travel case, two audio adapters, and more. They filter out 90% of exterior noise and even offer a talk-thru button for those times when you choose to listen to your neighbor. (sennheiser.com)
Every seasoned traveler knows she needs one packable raincoat and Travel Smith has something for everyone. Our favorite is their microfiber raincoat in classic trench coat styling: This is one garment that will always be in fashion. Travel Smith's "Classic Raincoat" comes in nearly every size imaginable, from extra-small and petite to "plus" sizes, and is waterproof, washable, and wrinkle resistant. It's available in seven popular colors and even offers an optional liner for cooler climates. It folds up into a little pouch and will hardly take up any space in her travel bags. Priced in the $150 range, this is one gift that will be appreciated for years to come. (travelsmith.com)
Whether it's the classic car in the garage, the restoration project that keeps grease on your hands, the weekends at the track, or driving on the Autobahn, sharing your passion helps keep any relationship vibrant and alive. For those who share the love of automobiles, what could be a better token of affection than a piece of jewelry to express the passion you share? Jewelry designer Brian Bergeron has come up with a series of "tire" rings--bands with tread designs in a variety of metals, including silver, gold, and platinum. Prices start around $100 for sterling, and top off around $3700 for platinum! And what could be a better reminder when one is on a trip and the other staying behind? (tirerings.com).
In each issue of Automotive Traveler, our editors and contributors will suggest noteworthy books and DVD programs that will be invaluable additions to your personal libraries, especially when it comes time for planning your next road trip.
(Travelsmart; $22.95) by Stan Posner and Sandra Phillips-Posner
Those who are "of an age" may remember --fondly or otherwise --the drive to Florida down Routes 1 and 301 before I-95 was constructed. This was before seatbelts and booster seats, and before the age of air conditioning when our young passengers could ride in the station wagon's rear-facing third row with the rear window down. Billboards told us how many miles remained to Pedro at South of the Border. Dotting the roadside were red and white Burma- Shave shaving cream signs. This one is in the Smithsonian Institution: Shaving brushes You'll soon see 'em On a shelf In some museum Burma-Shave The Posners spend about eight weeks a year driving I-95 and exploring every exit from Boston to Florida so you don't have to. The book lists service stations, grocery stores, restaurants, hotels, laundromats, ATM machines, golf courses, and interesting places to see, all within three miles of the interstate. There's a list of radio stations by format type and frequency.
Maps (one set going
south, one going north),
with extensive notations,
cover 15 or 30 mile
fun to read
at that 1950s
go by at a
Rating: Five 1966 Ford Country Squire Station Wagons
(Harriman Travel Books; $23.95 US) by Brett Harriman
On a bookshelf with more than a dozen guide books covering various aspects of Germany, this is far and away the best available. And it comes with a bonus, a 130-page GPS-enabled adventure novel called "Quest for the Bavarian Cross." Dubbed "Your Travel Companion" by author Brett Harriman, Germany & Austria is the first in a series of such efforts covering major European destinations. And if this is any indication of his dedication to his craft, each future edition will be eagerly anticipated.
Ever thought about an
itinerary that follows in
the footsteps of Julie Andrews
Plummer in the Sound of
Music? Harriman offers
two: one a detailed walking tour of Salzburg, the
other a driving tour of the
city and the surrounding
lake district. You are advised
to pack a picnic
buff? If so,
many to list.
And there's even
four and a half
sites relating to
Very cool if you're a
If you're planning a
trip to Germany or Austria,
look no further. This is the
--D. H. Lechter
Rating: Five Mercedes- Benz 300SEL 6.3s
(St. Martin's Griffin; $19.95) by Harry Medved and Bruce Akiyama
This book, co-authored by conservative pundit Harry Medved with friend Bruce Akiyama, combines multiple elements to provide a well-rounded list of movie- related destinations, most within a three-hour drive of downtown Los Angeles. It's a great read both for locals planning a day trip as well as those visiting from out of town.
The authors appear to have an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the history of the movies as well as the land we call Southern California. The text talks to you with quotes from Hollywood insiders who give the story behind the story, which makes the book all the more indispensable.
Covering the locations of dozens of Hollywood classics, as well as a fair share of B-movie features, there's something here for the movie lover in all of us.
Some call it the first comprehensive
Southern California's outdoor
While it takes some liberties
with books that
have gone before it (like
Shot On This Site--my
personal favorite which
covers locations nationwide),
it doesn't detract
at all from its usefulness.
With more than 100 scenic
photos and 20 easyto-
read maps, The Hollywood
Guide to the Great
Outdoors is the perfect
book to help plan your
own Southern California
--D. H. Lechter
Rating: Five "Vanishing Point" 1970 Dodge Challenger
(Motorbooks; $120.00) by Pino Fondi, edited by Gianni Cancellieri
For road race fans it's the legendary race. And this year the Targa Florio celebrates its centenary. This classic Sicilian race has immortalized the greatest cars and drivers over the past 100 years. Author Pino Fondi has delivered a book that for motorsports fans truly captures the appeal as well as the danger inherent in the most famous of Italian road races.
Over 500 pages thick, this coffee table book traces the epic battles over the narrow and twisting roads of the Sicilian mountains documenting the exploits of Fiat, Bugatti, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Lancia, Ferrari, and Porsche. The photos are exceptionally edited and benefit from exceptional care in their reproduction.
The selection, especially in the Fifties through the end of the traditional race in 1973 due to safety concerns, brings back to life a period of time that many believe was the golden age of international motorsport.
If you are
and are contemplating
a visit to Sicily,
it to yourself
to get a copy
of this volume;
certainly it will
the route of this
race, and rediscovering
over the last
100 years, a labor
--D. H. Lechter
Rating: Five Porsche 911 Targas.
An epic road trip need not be a transcontinental adventure, participating in an exclusive rally in England or attending a high-end auction in St. Moritz or Monaco. Often all it requires is a look online to see what automotive-themed events are scheduled in one's own back yard.
If you're fortunate enough to call Southern California home, such an event is held every Saturday morning at the home of Ford's West Coast Design Center and its Premier Auto Group Brands--Jaguar, Land Rover, and Volvo, along with former stablemate Aston Martin--in Irvine right alongside the southbound lanes of Interstate 5. Dubbed "Cars and Coffee," it is the successor event to the now-legendary Crystal Cove gathering in nearby Newport Beach. Apparently, the event became the victim of its own success when it grew so large that the strip mall's landlord (who it seems owns most of the commercial real estate in this part of the world), succumbed to surrounding residents' pressure by booting the event from its premises without allowing it to be moved to any of its other properties. Imagine, removing from your shopping center, wealthy patrons who arrive in million-dollar vintage Ferraris, Mercedes-Benzes, Porsches, and other automotive exotica? What is the sense in that?
Into the breech stepped Freeman Thomas, head of Ford Motor Company's design center based in Irvine, and John Clinard, who heads west coast PR for Ford. Both petrol heads of the first order, the pair gathered with others in the Ford and Mazda buildings and saw the potential of moving the early Saturday morning event about 10 miles inland to the expansive parking lot between the buildings that house their offices and a facility occupied by Mazda. Given that Ford is, in essence, the landlord, there would be no hassles with the Irvine Company and in the Fall of 2006, the gathering moved its party to slightly less scenic (the original Crystal Cove venue was located south of Corona del Mar on the Pacific Coast Highway overlooking the Pacific Ocean) but far more friendly environment of Ford's expansive parking lot.
While the Crystal Cove facility offered an early opening Starbucks and the outstanding Pacific Whey Bakery (both who saw Saturday business drop by more than 50 percent after the move), John arranged with the Ford cafeteria to open at 6:30 a.m. to accommodate the caffeine and dietary needs of Orange County's automotive enthusiast community. It took just a matter of a few weeks for the new event to gather steam, and now it is a rare occurrence when fewer than 300 special interest cars, trucks, and bikes fail to make an appearance.
Most recently Michael showed up with an early Fifties 220A cabriolet, a work of art that was painted by the Japanese artist Yamagata. Mike brought the Yamagata 220A out to Cars and Coffee before it was shipped to an honored place in the new Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart. Besides Ford's Thomas, other designers, engineers, and marketing types from all the Southern-California- based facilities show up with their own creations.
One of my favorites is owned by a Mazda engineer: It's a classic English Ford Cortina, now powered by a twin-cam Mazda Miata four-banger. It shows how the Cortina could have evolved all the way to the present day --if the manufacturer had continued to develop it.
Because of vehicles like this, you really have to look closely or you'll miss something equally unique.
In April one phantom that caught my eye was a Pontiac GTO pickup that mated the front clip of a GTO onto the cab and bed of a same-year El Camino. A 10-year work-in-progress, it was marked by flawless attention to detail which included a set of custom-fabricated tail lights echoing those found on a GTO coupe rather than taking the easy way out and using the stock El Camino units. A big and welcome change from the Crystal Cove gathering is the reduction of dealer/ broker cars, always a thorny issue.
One or two Lamborghinis are fine but when 10 or more Gallardos show up, in every available color, it gets to feel almost as if once you've seen one Gallardo, you've seen them all. And the prepon- This well-documented Shelby GT-350 Hertz Rent-A-Racer is simply stunning.
Classic American iron like this Ford hot rod is a staple of the Cars and Coffee gathering each Saturday morning.
This Yamagata 220 convertible with its signature paint scheme comes from the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center collection.
American racing legend Dan Gurney reunited with CSX2323, the number 146 car, an FIA Cobra that he finished in second place in the 1964 Targa Florio.
This is a great opportunity if you're a fan of Ford's modern-day supercar. And if we know John Clinard, it wouldn't surprise us if an original Ford GT 40 made an appearance, maybe one from Ford's own collection or a car from the personal collection of someone based in the Southland (as the local TV weathermen refer to the paradise we call Southern California).
If you have gasoline in your bloodstream and are planning a visit to Southern California, Cars and Coffee is a must see event, along with the long-running, iconoclastic Donut Derelicts up the road in Huntington Beach. (Legend has it that Mark Greeley and a bunch of South Orange County friends started the original Crystal Cove gathering due to the fact that they hated getting up so early to trek up the coast to get a good parking spot at Donut Derelicts.) Located just off of Interstate 5 north of the Irvine Spectrum, just Mapquest "7905 Gateway, Irvine, 92618" and you'll get the directions you need.
Designated spectator parking is plentiful and cars (typically a contingent of Ford GTs) start arriving around 7:00 each Saturday morning. By 7:30 the lot is full and as some of the early arrivals depart they are replaced by other equally interesting machines. This is, truly, an event that shouldn't be missed.
For additional information on Cars and Coffee, Donut Derelicts, and other Southern California automotive events, visit visit Dave Lindsay's spectacular site socalcarculture.com.
Cuba never fails to amaze me. I've rented an Audi 4--so much for the embargo--and am running beneath Pico Turquino, the island's highest peak, which drops precipitously to dancing blue waters east of Marea del Portillo. The blacktop has petered down to a coastal trail wrinkling up into sharp curves, clawing over great headlands and plunging into deep valleys. I floor the accelerator to power up a steep hill, then back off the gas near the top to keep the tires from spinning loose on the jarring piste of loose scree.
As I crest the ridge, my jaw drops as an old Chrysler New Yorker comes chugging up the hill in the other direction, oblivious to the gnarly terrain.
Cruising through the isle in quest of vintage American autos is like taking an automotive trip through twilight zone. Not least because cars from the Eisenhower era are everywhere. Corpulent Chevys. Chrome-laden Chryslers. Big-boned Cadillacs. All wallowing through the streets on sagging tires. Even Studebakers, Edsels, and Hudsons. Marques that disappeared from American highways decades ago still rumble down potholed streets. Reason enough to visit.
I've spent the last month touring the isle end to end, although it was hard enough to tear myself away from Havana.
Baroque churches, convents, and castles that could have been transposed from Madrid or Cádiz still reign majestically over cobbled streets still haunted by Ernest Hemingway's ghost. Phosphorescent sunlight gleams on the chrome of American cars that silver the Malecón fronting sinuously along the Havana shoreline, where far out, a band of indigo marks the edge of the Gulf Stream that Hemingway called his "Great Deep Blue River." Everything looks so nostalgic. The heart of Habana Vieja--the ancient city core proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982--is in the midst of a complete restoration.
Many of the former palaces and mansions have metamorphosed into sophisticated boutique hotels. Consider the refined and trendy Hotel Saratoga, where a room with well-stocked mini-bar plus CNN and HBO on flat-screen TVs costs upwards of US$300. Still, outside Havana's tourist zones the sultry seductress of pre-revolutionary days is in pretty bad shape. Habaneros cling tenaciously to family life behind crumbling façades that look ready at any moment to collapse onto the rusting '55 Ford Crown Victoria sure to be parked outside.
Cruising through the isle in quest of vintage American autos is like taking an automotive trip through twilight zone. Not least because cars from the Eisenhower era are everywhere. Corpulent Chevys. Chrome-laden Chryslers. Big-boned Cadillacs. All wallowing through the streets on sagging tires. Even Studebakers, Edsels, and Hudsons. Marques that disappeared from American highways decades ago still rumble down potholed streets.
Below: A 1946 Chrysler Windsor in front of Havana's Hotel Nacional Above: A 1954 Pontiac Star Chief on Havana's busy Calle 23.
And it's the cars that I'm chasing with camera in hand. "Look, señor!" says Eugenio O'Hallarans, proudly pointing out how the power windows of his 1959 Cadillac Fleetwood still function. No small wonder here in Cuba.
Eugenio guns the Caddy out of the yard. The passenger door swings open, heavy on its creaking hinges, and in I jump.
We cruise through Havana in late- Fifties land-yacht luxury, our tail fins slicing the hot air like a sleek space machine from a Flash Gordon movie. I slide around on the slick, blood-red Naugahyde bench seat while Eugenio, a spry 77-year-old with a soft friendly face crosshatched by creases, interrupts his chatter to honk at the pretty muchachas. In the years preceding the Revolution, Cuba bought more Cadillacs per capita than any other country in the world. Feeling like a pre-revolutionary bourgeois, I light up a stogie to cement the mood as we rumble down the highway to the rhythm of the rumba on the radio.
On weekends, Habaneros drive out to Playas del Este--a four-mile-long beach of pulverized sugar--to tan their bodies and flirt under the palapas and palms.
Left: Ramblers, such as this 1956 Custom four-door hardtop, are a dime a dozen in Cuba. Below: An employee puts a shine to Eugenio O'Hallorans' 1959 Cadillac Fleetwood, in Santiago de las Vegas. Cubans are fastidious about washing and polishing their cars, which are cherished and cared for, however infirm.
Survivors from pre-revolutionary times, American limousines line the streets of Cuba, adding to the Caribbean island's undeniable charm. Havana is the best place of all to admire these classic automobiles. In "Heroes Of The Revolution," star photographer Robert Polidori presents a brilliant photographic exhibition of these fascinating relics, some lovingly maintained, some in decay, which do so much to define the street scene of the Cuban capital.
Accompanied by four CDs of original Cuban music, "Heroes Of The Revolution" summons up mellow memories of glamorous days in old Havana.
The Autopista Nacional, Cuba's sole freeway, is a concrete eight-laner that runs clean through the center of Cuba for 350 miles. I have it virtually to myself as I run east at 70 mph past fields of lime-green sugar-cane shaded by Royal palms like silver columns of petrified light. I resist the temptation to floor the Audi. Stray bicyclists saunter along in the fast lane. An ox-drawn cart trundles across my path. And I'm forced to slow for the bridges, in whose shade Cubans gather in droves to hitch rides.
Rare are the miles driven without the company of Cubans I have picked up on the road. Many graciously invite me into their homes.
"Why does your government not like us? They are too hard on us Cubans!" one peasant lady scolds. As I depart, she kisses my cheek and thrusts a bag of ripe tomatoes into my hand. The vast majority of Cubans wave cheerily and welcome me gleely, notwithstanding a 45-year-old U.S. embargo designed to worsen their lives. Most relish a joie de vivre despite the pathos of many of their lives. Five decades of socialism hasn't changed the hedonistic culture--they are sensualists of the first degree.
Above: Beasts of burden are part of Cuba's lyrical landscape, transporting you even further back in time than this 1953 Buick Super ragtop. Right: You occasionally spot a shining example of museum quality, but the majority of veteran cars are touched up with house paint. "Why does your government not like us? They are too hard on us Cubans!" one peasant lady scolds. As I depart, she kisses my cheek and thrusts a bag of ripe tomatoes into my hand.
American cars--such as a 1955 Chevy Bel-Air (top left), 1957 Dodge Coronet (top right), and a 1959 Oldsmobile Super 88 (above)--never look finer than when adorned with a Cuban model.
Under current U.S. law it is effectively illegal to travel to Cuba. Exceptions are made for Cuban-Americans visiting family, and for journalists, sports figures, and a few other categories who qualify for licenses issued by the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Asset Control (tel. 202/622-2480, www.treas.gov/ofac). Regulations change frequently.
In January 2007, a bipartisan bill was introduced into Congress that will repeal the travel restrictions entirely; visit www.cubacentral. com for details.
Tens of thousands of U.S. citizens manage to slip into Cuba through Canada, Mexico, The Bahamas, and other third world countries to worship at the shrine of 1950s kitsch and savor the frisson of the forbidden. Cuba plays its part by not stamping passports. Persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction who travel to Cuba without a license bear a "presumption of guilt" and may be required to show that all expenses incurred were paid by a third party not subject to U.S. law.
Until recently, the U.S. government basically turned a blind eye to illegal travel to Cuba. However, since 2001, the Bush administration has tightened controls on unsanctioned travel (most demands for fines have been $7,500). The National Lawyers Guild (tel. 212/679-5100, .nlg.org) has a Cuba subcommittee that can aid in defending against such fines.
No restrictions apply to non-U.S. citizens. In 2006, Cuba received 2.3 million visitors (second in the Caribbean only to the Dominican Republic's 4.4 million visitors), with one in six hailing from Canada.
I'm cruising along in a state of zenlike meditation, absorbed by the scenery, when I fly past a 1958 Edsel Corsair taking a bath in the Río Táyaba. I stop and peer in through the open windows. Perfectly preserved leather upholstery. Teletouch Drive pushbutton transmission. Air conditioning. The scorching wind is almost peeling the paint off the hood. Launched during the 1958 recession, Ford's famous folly fit well with the last hurrah of Havana's heyday and, like General Fulgencio Batista's regime, by year's end was already on the ropes. By 1959, when production was discontinued, only 81,466 had been made. Nonetheless, I've lost count of the number of Edsels I've seen in Cuba. Dozens for sure.
Away from the Autopista, the potholed roads are lined with clusters of small thatched bohíos--country dwellings. Off to the right the sawtoothed Sierra Escambray soar ridge upon ridge. The mountains form a rain shadow and with it comes an abrupt change in the landscape: sugarcane fades to parched golden grasslands grazed by hardy humped cattle standing fixedly in the magnesium light like bovine figures on a spot-lit Cretan urn. Soon enough I'm powering up the hill upon which Trinidad, the crown jewel of Cuba's colonial cities, is poised.
A 1958 Edsel Corsair takes a bath in the Tayaba river outside Trinidad. Launched on the eve of Castro's coming to power, Ford's flamboyant folly fit well with the last hurrah of Havana's heyday and, like Batista's regime, by year's end was already on the ropes.
Above: When it comes to parts, Cuba acts like a giant swap meet, and abandoned cars are thoroughly scavenged and picked clean until only the rusty skeleton remains Below: El Nicho, in the Sierra Escambray, is typical of Cuba's stupendous beauty.
Founded in 1514, today the entire city is a national historic monument lent charms by its historic buildings and its setting of natural beauty, sitting astride a hill where it catches the breezes and gazes out over the Caribbean against a backdrop of the verdurous Sierra Escambray. Pushing open massive carriage door studded with rosehead nails, I enter a well-preserved one-story home whose owner has agreed to rent me a room. Like most colonial homes in Cuba, it was designed in classical Mudejar style with an open-air patio that served as a stable to the rear. The place is overflowing with precious antiques: crystal vases, mahogany tables, Spanish swords on the walls. Blending in with the antique furnishings, a blood-red 1952 Chevrolet Styline Deluxe is parked beneath a crystal chandelier in the living room, just like a live-in mistress. Cuba! It's almost surreal.
One lane in either direction, the Carretera Central is Cuba's main highway running along the nation's spine for 750 miles from one end of the isle to the other. The scenery is kaleidoscopic as the gentle rollercoaster pitches me in great sweeping curves past bottle-green mountains, jade valleys full of dramatic formations, and sugarcane fields undulating like a great swelling sea. I'm glad for the Audi's brakes and acceleration as I pass creaky horse-drawn volantas and wooden carts doing duty as taxis. In Cuba, nothing gets thrown away: not old cars, not old furniture, and certainly not old volantas antique carriages with bodies suspended between enormous spoked wheels. Suspended, like the country itself, in a strange kind of limbo, frozen between a romantic past and an uncertain future.
Now I'm running along the enduro course east of Marea del Portillo. After my encounter with the Chrysler New Yorker I'm feeling humbled. Farther east come the crabs, scurrying en mass to the sea. As I pass, the surly crustaceans turn to snap at my tires. Then I hit one square on. POOF! It sounds like bubble-wrap exploding.
Finally, two weeks into my journey, I look down from atop an escarpment upon a vast coastal plain spread out like a Spanish mantilla. The light is already fading as I descend a muddy staircase bristling with thornbush and cactus, and park where the trail fizzles out beside a lonesome lighthouse at Punta de Maisí, Cuba's easternmost land's end, experiencing sunset 40 minutes before it occurs in Havana.
One lane in either direction, the Carretera Central is Cuba's main highway running along the nation's spine for 750 miles from one end of the isle to the other. The flowing curves of a 1951 Chevrolet Fleetline Deluxe harmonize with those of Havana's Galeria de Paseo.
A cuenta propista (self-employed person) earns a living restoring upholstery, using ingenuity and whatever fabric he can get ahold of.
Christopher P. Baker is the author of Cuba Classics: A Celebration of Vintage American Automobiles (Interlink Publishing), as well as Moon Cuba and National Geographic Traveler's Cuba. His Mi Moto Fidel: Motorcycling Through Castro's Cuba (National Geographic Adventure Press) won both the Lowell Thomas Award "Travel Book of the Year" and the North American Travel Journalist Association's Grand Prize.
As we were compiling the travel information for this story, controversy dominated the airwaves concerning filmmaker Michael Moore's recent visit to Cuba during the making of his upcoming film "Sicko" in 2006. This put travel to Cuba back on newspaper front pages, and cable newscasts, highlighting the ongoing trade embargo that the United States Government has maintained since the Cuban Revolution. It seems that The United States Department of the Treasury doesn't recognize the legitimacy of Moore's journalistic credentials and he could be prosecuted and fined for not having the appropriate license to visit Cuba.
As Christopher P. Baker noted, it is effectively illegal, with only a few exceptions, for most United States citizens to currently visit Cuba. Some of the exceptions include credentialed journalists, educators, or sports figures attending an internationally sanctioned event. If you are a United States citizen with dual citizenship, travel to and from Cuba is pretty straightforward; just make sure you use your second passport to enter and exit Cuba. If you are a citizen of a country other than the United States and have an insatiable desire to visit Cuba, you can easily fly from Canada or Mexico as well as several Caribbean islands. Airlines that serve Cuba's Jose Marti International Airport include Cubana, Cuba's national airline, which serves a network of gateways in the Caribbean, South America, Europe, and Central America as well as Mexico City, Toronto, and Montreal in North America. Non-Cuban airlines that also fly to Cuba include Aeropostal, Air Canada, Air France, Air Jamaica, Turkish Airlines, Cayman Airways, Iberia Airlines, Mexicana, KLM, British Airways, and Condor.
It is possible to fly direct to Cuba from both New York's JFK International Airport as well as Miami International Airport. C & T Charters has flown a charter from terminal four at JFK direct to Havana since December of 2006. Continental Airlines and American Airlines both offer charter service from Miami to Cuba with the requirement that these flights must be booked through a travel agent.
For one of the most comprehensive listings of travel information to Cuba, visit the USA/Cuba travel website at usacubatravel.com/aironly.htm
There's a vast diversity of hotels in Cuba, especially in Havana. These range from some of the classic hotels formerly run by the Mob from the pre-revolutionary era, to depressing Soviet-era resorts, to modern resorts run by some of the best-known hospitality brands worldwide. It is expected that, as Castro's influence fades from the scene, that American-branded and managed hotels will appear on the scene. It is widely expected that Castro will be followed by his pragmatic brother Raul, who will probably follow the example of the Chinese who have balanced their Socialist idealology with the desire to introduce Capitalist market reforms. This is great news for cigar smokers everywhere. For more information on hotels in Cuba, we suggest that you take a look at the Havana hotel pages at Trip Advisor, tripadvisor.com The site's reviewers seem to agree that if you're going to visit Havana, you can't do better than to book at the business-class nh-hotels.com, where a five-star room is available for under $200 a night. For someone seeking more traditional Cuban lodging, you should check out the highly rated Hotel Raquel, habaguanex.com, where you'll get a great night's sleep for less than $140 per night.
It should be noted that no matter your nationality, you will not be able to enter the country without prepaying for a minimum of three night's accommodations.
If you think that you'll find only Soviet-era Ladas (a variation of the Sixties Fiat 124) in Cuba's rental car fleet, you'll be sadly mistaken. Car Rental Cuba, carrentalcuba.com, offers everything from entry-level Kias to luxurious Audis and BMWs, as well a minivans for larger groups.
The definitive guidebook to Cuba is Moon Cuba, authored by none other than Christopher P. Baker. Updated in 2006, it is the best single volume on what to do and see on the island that lies just 90 minutes south of Key West.
By Scott Mead
It's a balmy evening in Hawaii. The sun is slowly dipping below the Pacific's blue horizon, trade winds are gently blowing through the coco palms, and the geckos are beginning to chirp to prospective mates. There's a familiar chime from the computer announcing the arrival of a new email. It's from the Governor, and we've been assigned a new case: Find Steve McGarrett.
Wednesday, 7:00 a.m.: We jump into our 2006 Mercury Grand Marquis cruiser and head into the heart of Honolulu in search of clues. It's recon time, and while it's been nearly 40 years since the two-hour pilot of Hawaii Five-0 aired on the CBS network (September 20, 1968, to be exact), it didn't take long for millions of Americans to become addicted to the beat of Tahitian drums, swaying hula hips, tropical locations, and suspenseful plots. For 12 years, Five-0 was the prime-time TV police-action drama to watch, holding its status through its initial run and in syndication. Today, Five-0 can still be found airing on independent stations, and the recentlyreleased, seven-DVD box set of Hawaii Five-0's first season is waiting at your local video store. We pull into Kahala Mall, spot a large bookstore, and park the Merc.
Five minutes later, we score a copy of the first Five-0 season, stroll over to the coffee bar and order a grande Kona. The twenty- something barista hands over the cup of steaming Joe. I wink at her saying, "Thanks, Love." Settling down at a table with our trusty laptop and sliding in the first disc, we start searching at the beginning: The original pilot, "Cocoon," plays, and soon the all-too-familiar Five-0 theme music pulses through the speakers. The screen flashes with the Five-0 team--boss McGarrett (Jack Lord), second in command Danny "Danno" Williams (played by Tim O'Kelly in the pilot and subsequently replaced by James MacArthur for the rest of Danno's tenure in the show), Kono Kalakaua (Zoulou), and Chin Ho Kelly (Kam Fong). The opening credits alone start to fuel our search, and give us some leads to follow. Soon enough, McGarrett's nemesis, Red Chinese Operative Wo Fat It's a balmy evening in Hawaii.
The sun is slowly dipping below the Pacific's blue horizon, trade winds are gently blowing through the coco palms, and the geckos are beginning to chirp to prospective mates. There's a familiar chime from the computer announcing the arrival of a new email. It's from the Governor, and we've been assigned a new case: Find Steve McGarrett.
Wednesday, 7:00 a.m.: We jump into our 2006 Mercury Grand Marquis cruiser and head into the heart of Honolulu in search of clues. It's recon time, and while it's been nearly 40 years since the two-hour pilot of Hawaii Five-0 aired on the CBS network (September 20, 1968, to be exact), it didn't take long for millions of Americans to become addicted to the beat of Tahitian drums, swaying hula hips, tropical locations, and suspenseful plots. For 12 years, Five-0 was the prime-time TV police-action drama to watch, holding its status through its initial run and in syndication. Today, Five-0 can still be found airing on independent stations, and the recentlyreleased, seven-DVD box set of Hawaii Five-0's first season is waiting at your local video store. We pull into Kahala Mall, spot a large bookstore, and park the Merc.
Five minutes later, we score a copy of the first Five-0 season, stroll over to the coffee bar and order a grande Kona. The twenty- something barista hands over the cup of steaming Joe. I wink at her saying, "Thanks, Love." Settling down at a table with our trusty laptop and sliding in the first disc, we start searching at the beginning: The original pilot, "Cocoon," plays, and soon the all-too-familiar Five-0 theme music pulses through the speakers. The screen flashes with the Five-0 team--boss McGarrett (Jack Lord), second in command Danny "Danno" Williams (played by Tim O'Kelly in the pilot and subsequently replaced by James MacArthur for the rest of Danno's tenure in the show), Kono Kalakaua (Zoulou), and Chin Ho Kelly (Kam Fong). The opening credits alone start to fuel our search, and give us some leads to follow. Soon enough, McGarrett's nemesis, Red Chinese Operative Wo Fat comes on screen...could he be involved? Our cup dry, we look over our notes. First stop, Iolani Palace.
The original home of Five-0's offices, Iolani Palace is the only royal palace on U.S. soil. Originally built by King Kalakaua in 1882, and used by his sister and successor, Queen Liliuokalani, the Palace was the center of social and political activity in the Kingdom of Hawaii during the monarchy period.
For the show, the second level of Iolani Palace portrayed not only the Five-0 offices but that of the Governor (performed by Richard Denning), McGarrett's boss. Today, the Palace is not only a Hawaiian national treasure, but also a visitor hot spot, with tours offered Tuesday through Saturday. We case the grounds, and finding no sign of Steve, we jot down some notes and head off to the west side of Honolulu. September 1926: Honolulu's fathers completed what they thought was a fitting structure to hail the periodic boatloads of tourists then calling at Honolulu Harbor--Aloha Tower.
Built on the water side of Honolulu Harbor's piers where most of the stately liners of the day docked, the slender, squareshaped tower includes the letters "ALOHA" etched large enough to see for more than a mile in any direction. Today, we're checking out the shops and merchants at the Marketplace that virtually surrounds the tower. T-shirts, hats, beach gear... check, but there's no sign of Five- 0's boss. We spread out from the tower to check on the docks, warehouses, passenger handling, and other facilities of Piers 8, 9, 10, and 11--the core of Honolulu Harbor's commercial activity. In the 1920s and 1930s, "Boat Day," the arrival of a passenger ship, became a festive celebration shared by the whole community. As time passed and the city grew, the tower remained above the buildings and hubbub crowding around it. Even when air travel replaced ocean liners as Hawaii's chief link to the outside world, and downtown Honolulu sprouted high-rise office buildings that dwarfed the aging tower, it continued to deliver its greeting. It remains a reminder to visitors and residents alike of softer and gentler times.
Piling back into the Merc, we cruise down Ala Moana Boulevard, heading into Waikiki. We turn into Ala Moana Beach Park, where the waves gently lap at the soft sand, surfers catch the break about 100 yards out, and locals come to celebrate birthdays and play in the water. We're yards from Waikiki, without the crush of tourists. Nice, but we have work to do, and glancing up from the waves, we catch a glint of sunlight off the familiar turquoise and white Ilikai Hotel, made famous from the opening shot of McGarrett standing on the penthouse balcony. Damn, why didn't we think of checking that out before?
Above: Iolani Palace in downtown Honolulu depicted Hawaii Five-0's digs in the series' pilot, with McGarrett taking the grand stairway two at a time. In reality, Five-0's offices were set on a soundstage, known as "Mongoose Manor." Wo Fat comes on screen...could he be involved?
Overlooking the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor, the Ilikai sits at the edge of Waikiki. The tires squeal as we quickly pull into the Ilikai's porte cochere, get out, and toss the Merc's keys to the valet. "Keep it close," we tell him, passing a five spot for good measure. The hotel opened its doors in February of 1964 with 1,050 guest rooms and condos, and is commonly known as the first luxury high-rise hotel in Hawaii. It's been extensively renovated over the years, and its latest makeover is posh Polynesian, but it's nice to see that a night there won't bankrupt your budget. McGarrett's not registered here, but he might be using a fake name to throw off a tail. We check the penthouse anyway--nice digs, great view, but Steve's not here. The bellman suggests we try the other end of Waikiki. Yeah, Diamond Head.
Five-0's first studio was an old, rickety, un-air conditioned Navy warehouse at Pearl City that garnered the nickname "Mongoose Manor." CBS then moved to a facility at Fort Ruger on the eastern side of Diamond Head--our next destination --but the local neighborhood association charged that the studio was a noise and traffic nuisance. In 1976 they moved everything to a new studio site on Diamond Head Road that not only was the home of Five-0, but also became the base for Magnum P.I in later years. Undoubtedly the most famous volcanic crater in the world, Diamond Head is located on the south-east coast of Oahu at the end of Waikiki. Originally named Laeahi by the ancient Hawaiians (meaning "brow of the tuna"), the current name was given to the crater by British sailors in the 1800's--when they first saw the crater at a great distance, the calcite crystals in the lava rock appeared to glimmer in the sunlight, and the sailors thought there were diamonds in the soil. When the United States annexed Hawaii in 1898, harbor defense became a main responsibility and the primary defense was Fort Ruger in Diamond Head Crater. A battery of cannons were located within the crater, providing complete concealment and protection from invading enemies. An observation deck was constructed at the summit in 1910 to provide target sighting and a fourlevel underground complex was built within the walls of the crater as a command post.
Above: One of the most well-known symbols of Hawaii, Diamond Head was not only a defense head for many years, but also the H.Q. of CBS production facilities for Hawaii Five-0
We make our way through the 580- foot tunnel to get to Diamond Head's innards. There's an old warehouse with a windsock blowing in the breeze, small guard shack, and a large parking lot... Then the radio crackles to life, "Central dispatch to Five-0, central dispatch to Five-0, be on the lookout for a red 1971 DeTomaso Pantera, last seen episode 98: "Death Wish on Tantalus Mountain." Driver may have information on McGarrett's whereabouts, over!" "Copy central dispatch, we'll head that way on the double." Turning around, we gun the Grand Marquis' 4.6-liter V-8, heading to the H1 towards Prospect Street.
Just before Tantalus drive, we spot the red Italian sports car pulling out of the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific--the Punchbowl. Slapping the blue gumball on the roof, we light 'em up and chase down the Pantera. Pulling over, we pull our piece, telling the driver to get out. He exits the car and yells, "Hey, I'm HPD, okay?" Sure enough the badge and I.D. confirm the owner is one Dennis Yogi, DeTomaso aficionado and a Honolulu Police Department detective. We check the VIN and it's one of the original Five-0 car stars (see sidebar). Yogi offers us a ride up Tantalus Mountain to get some forensic photographs. We take him up on his offer.
With its mid-engine design and Ford 351 Cleveland V-8 powerplant, the Pantera was well suited in its role as a racecar for Ricardo Montalban's role as Alex Pareno, an eccentric racer looking to break the record to the top of Tantalus. As Yogi threads his way up the hillside, he explains the rest of the episode: Two Panteras were used, one yellow, the other his red one; someone sabotages the yellow car; Pareno's mechanic gets killed while driving it and Five-0 is on the scene. The killer is caught and Pareno takes the red car to victory. Sounds like a must watch.
As I note the information, Yogi downshifts, puts the Pantera into the apex of a corner, and hammers the throttle. The Cleveland instantly responds, thrusting our backs into their respective seats. About halfway up, Yogi's eyes go wide, "No power," he says and we pull off the road, the small-block Ford hauntingly silent. Suddenly, smoke starts snaking from the air vents and out of the engine bay. In an instant, I wonder if Wo Fat is looking to shake me off McGarrett's trail, or trying to get rid of us, but my keen sense of smell tells me otherwise.
The culprit is Lucas, Prince of Darkness. A call is made. Soon we have a spool of wire and the crispy ignition lead is replaced, and with it the engine roars back to life. We grab our photos, head back down the mountain, and Yogi gives us some advice, "Check out the north shore, there's always something happening there, and it was one of McGarrett's best sources for leads." We bid Aloha to Yogi, and head to the other side of the Island.
Pipeline, Sunset Beach, Waimea Bay --some call these big surf spots the heart of Oahu's north shore. The locals will tell you otherwise. Waimea Valley, with its last traditional Hawaiian ahupua'a (a subdivision of land that ran from the top of a mountain to the sea), vast pineapple plantations near Wahiawa, the tropical orchards of Waialua, and the colorful atmosphere of Haleiwa town--that's the real north shore.
Taking Kamehameha Highway, we cruise over Rainbow Bridge into the heart of Haleiwa. Taking notice of a line of people outside a store, we decide to check it out, and it's a good thing we did.
Above: We gun the Grand Marquis' 4.6-liter V-8, heading to the H1 towards Prospect Street. Above: Anahula Bridge (also known as Rainbow Bridge) is the gateway to the North Shore's big surf spots.
Pareno's mechanic gets killed while driving it and Five-0 is on the scene.
Matsumoto Shave Ice has been a Haleiwa icon for decades.
Mamoru Matsumoto opened the north shore grocery store in 1951, peddling his wares on a bicycle. Looking to expand the business some time later, Matsumoto decided to open a shave ice stand (a fluffier version of the snow cone) in the midst of the grocery business. The carloads of hippies in the 1960s and waves of surfers put Matsumoto's on the map, serving up shave ice layered with their homemade syrups. We take a place in line and ponder the important stuff--mango, papaya, or guava flavorings and whether to get our shave ice with or without ice cream or azuki beans. We order a large Matsumoto special--shave ice with coconut, pineapple, and lemon syrup.
Eating our shave ice on the bench in front of Matsumoto's store, a local sits down, sees the frustration in our face and asks, "Eh, howzit brah?" I tell him it's "going," been looking all over the Island for McGarrett and there's no sign of him. "Shoots brah, McGarrett fo' everywhere!" he said, "But you see him at Kahala Mall in Honolulu, every day!" We finish our shave ice with one big gulp, thank our new friend, and spin the big Merc back towards the city.
The light starts to fade as we pull into the Kahala Mall parking lot, the same place we started some eight hours earlier. We run back into the coffee bar and the barista extends a cup of coffee in my direction and says, "Mr. McGarrett's waiting for you around the corner." I take the cup, kiss her on the cheek and head down the sidewalk. Turning the corner, we find him, not McGarrett, but a tribute to Jack Lord, still dapper in bronze, and unfortunately no longer with us in real life. It's that moment that the pieces to the puzzle start to fit. You see, Lord created more than just McGarrett, he created an infectious spirit of Hawaii Five-0 that lives in millions of people, and spans generations. He helped spawn the renaissance of tourism in Hawaii, and put the 50th state on the world commerce map. Yeah, McGarrett's here, and always will be. We just weren't looking in the right place. I turn to the memorial, take a swig of coffee, and giving McGarrett a wink say, "Book'em, Danno."
Above: Want to sample the best shave ice on Oahu? A trip to Matsumoto's grocery store in Haleiwa is a must. Ono grinds, brah!
From September 1968, to April 1980, the U.S. television public was treated to a weekly viewing of CBS Television's number-one-rated series, Hawaii Five-0. And yet there's one star that you'll never find in the credits--the automotive star of Five-0--a black Mercury. There were actually three Mercs used in the 12 years of filming. The least frequently seen was a twodoor, 1967 Marquis--black, with red interior--which was used while filming the pilot and for stock footage. Perhaps the most photographed Mercury in existence, having appeared in nearly 130 Five- 0 episodes, is a 1968 Mercury Parklane Brougham four-door. Then in 1974, McGarrett got his last Mercury, when a triple black 1974 Marquis Brougham four-door hardtop took the billing.
But it's McGarrett's Parklane that everyone remembers, a car that was thought lost, but found and resurrected by Chicago resident Michael Timothy. In March 1986, Timothy flew to Honolulu International Airport on a mission to find the Parklane and try to purchase it. CBS had long since shut down Five-0 production, but to amortize production costs, a new series, Magnum, P.I. took over. Magnum used most of the Five-0 production facilities, including a production warehouse at Fort Ruger. Arriving at the warehouse, he found a security guard. After an explanation of what he was looking for and a generous bribe, the guard turned to Timothy and told him he was crazy--what would he want with that old heap? Taking Timothy to the remains of the once proud car, they found nearly every panel was dented or missing. The front end damage was still there from the altercation with the Kumu (Hawaiian Mafia) in its last TV appearance, and many trim parts were missing. The Merc's interior was ripped, partially burned, and ravaged by a mongoose that made a home in the trunk. But Timothy's detective work paid off. He had seen the car and left with only a record of what was left of the VIN number.
Returning to Chicago, Timothy made an untold number of phone calls to CBS-TV, whose personnel disavowed all knowledge of the car. Contacting Ford and Lincoln- Mercury public relations departments proved a dead end as there weren't any records going back to 1968. Not one to give up, Timothy continued a barrage of calls to CBS, eventually wearing them down to the point they were pleased to get that corner of the warehouse cleared out and Timothy out of their hair. A check with the Hawaii Department of Motor Vehicles showed no evidence of the car ever being titled or plated in Hawaii. After several months, and countless phone calls, the hulk was crated up and sent to the Windy City.
Once in his garage, Timothy pulled the car apart and painstakingly restored it, utilizing no less that nine parts cars over three years. Well equipped from the factory, motivation comes from a 428cid, four-barrel V-8 producing 345 hp, and mated to a C-6 automatic. Power equipment includes steering, front disc brakes, windows, and seat. The Merc also came with air conditioning, an AM/FM radio, and cruise control.
While the car doesn't turn many heads at local car shows, "once old timers realize they're looking at McGarrett's Merc, their faces light right up," says Timothy. We can only imagine the stir it might have made driving down Ala Moana Boulevard in Waikiki.
Above: With its days of crime fighting over, McGarrett's second Mercury--a 1968 Parklane Brougham--is now fully restored, seeing more of its action in car shows than car chases.
When Ricardo Montalban portrayed egomaniacal race car driver Alex Pareno in episode 98: "Death Wish on Tantalus Mountain," he needed a car that would help fulfill the plotline of breaking the hill-climb speed record on Tantalus Mountain, some 2,000 feet above Honolulu. Ford's Lincoln-Mercury division had released the DeTomaso Pantera in its showrooms the year before, and the brass at CBS thought it would be the perfect ride for Montalban. CBS contacted then Oahu Ford and DeTomaso dealer Jimmy Pflueger, asking to use his personal Pantera. Not wanting to relinquish the keys, he directed them to local resident, George Fraine, who jumped at the chance. We sat down with Fraine to "talk story" about his experience on the Five-0 set.
Automotive Traveler: You got the call from CBS that they needed a Pantera for an episode of Hawaii Five-0. How did that come about?
George Fraine: I got the call from CBS and they said I'd be driving my own car, which made the drivers for the show pretty mad because they felt it was a job for the stunt drivers, but CBS told them that if the car got damaged they (the owner) wouldn't feel so bad. Plus Ricardo Montalban had injured his back (during the filming of The Train Robbers) and couldn't drive the car, so I was filmed as Ricardo with my helmet and driving suit on. There were two Panteras used in the show, mine (a red 1971 pre-L model) and a yellow one owned by a hair dresser at Liberty House (a former chain of department stores in Hawaii). His was used for the first part of the show (up until the plot called for the yellow Pantera to go off a cliff) and mine later.
AT: What was driving the action sequences like?
GF: They were fun, though I thought I lost the camera man on one turn. They had removed the rear deck lid of my car and strapped the camera to the engine bay so they could shoot through the rear window. After taking a few turns (at high speed) I couldn't see the camera man anymore. He had to lie down and to hang on and couldn't operate the camera. They got a helicopter after that.
AT: Did that help to get the shot?
GF: No. I kept outrunning the chopper, and the camera man kept calling me on the radio telling me to slow down. I said, "Don't you want me to go fast?" and they said, "We can make this car go faster than you can drive it (by speeding up the film). I had to laugh that I'm driving on this mountain road and a helicopter can't keep up with me.
AT: Were there any driving scenes that ended up on the cutting room floor?
GF: At the end of the episode, when he (Pareno) breaks the record, the car stops at a lookout over Waimanalo (the scene wasn't shot on Tantalus Mountain, but a forest access road some miles away) and he jumps out and runs to the edge of the cliff and waves. That's me in that scene. Anyway, after that, I come back up to the car the director asks me to get in and drive as fast as I can around the next corner and they'll film me. I get in the car and take off around the corner. And what do I see? Two blue and whites (police cars) blocking the road (which were supposed to be stationed at the bottom of the road)! The sergeant was standing right in the middle of the road where I was supposed to drive. So I veered to the right to miss him, barely make it by a blue and white, and hit the guard rail with the rear of the car. Funny thing: my cousin in California called me a few days later. The local paper had a story saying I had almost gone over a cliff while driving for a Hawaii Five-0 episode.
AT: What was it like to work with the cast and crew?
GF: They were some of the best people I ever worked with. Jack Lord especially, he was a prince of a guy.
AT: What was your favorite Five-0 experience?
GF: That would have to be driving. There was one scene where I thought the camera man was crazy. We were shooting on a gravel road and he placed his camera just behind the car and asked me to take off. I told him he was going to eat dirt, but he insisted. So I got in and peeled out, covering him and his camera in dirt and rock. That was one shot I know they didn't use!
Any international carrier serving Los Angeles or San Francisco can get you to Hawaii via US airlines flying the Pacific leg. Between the mainland and the islands, Hawaii is served by American, Continental, Delta, Hawaiian, Northwest, and US Airways with round-trip airfares under typically under $800 with a three-week advance purchase. From many European gateways, such as London or Frankfurt, the lowest published airfare rises to $1,200 and above. Look for British Airways, Air France, and Virgin Atlantic to offer a number of options as well as code share flights with US-based carriers.
As a world-class tourist destination, Honolulu offers more lodging options than almost any vacation city in the world, from budget to five-star. When visiting the islands, look for alternatives in the mid-priced sweet spot, both through international chains as well as through boutique hotels and B&Bs. If going the later route, let us suggest the Kaimalino Homestay B&B 808/254-2920 in Kailua, well outside of the hustle and bustle of Honolulu. There, innkeepers Susan and Bob Morrison will make you feel truly at home. The pair are avid travelers themselves, so it's possible to rent their entire home while they're away; this is especially attractive if you're visiting the islands with another couple or with a large family.
For the full Steve McGarrett experience, the only way to go is with Hertz (hertz.com) to get behind the wheel of a Mercury Grand Marquis. Unfortunately, as author Scott Mead was to learn, there are no black Grand Marquis in the Honolulu fleet (ours was "painted" in Photoshop for the opening illustration). If you don't need something as large as a Grand Marquis, you'll find Ford Mustang convertibles in the Hertz Fun Collection, among other interesting rides.
By Cindy-Lou Dale
The city of Berlin has suffered a sorrowful past like no other. It began in 1933 when Adolf Hitler was named German Chancellor. Thereafter, the city endured the annihilation of its Jewish community, a historical fact the German capital has yet to recover from. At the end of World War Two, Hitler's dreams lay smashed in 18 square miles of bombed-out ruins. The Cold War power struggle produced the 97-milelong Berlin Wall in 1961, dividing the country and tearing the city in two for nearly three decades. Berlin is a city of contradictions; this sculpture depicts a broken link with the past, yet the Kaiser Wilhelm church in the background is a dominant link to the past.
Thankfully, the wall came down in 1989, marking the dawn of a new era for a relatively young city, still redesigning its image with worldclass architecture, modernity and fast paced life.
Its tortured past aside, it's the unique and irrepressible ambience exuded by each building and every citizen that one can truly feel; one of acceptance and freedom, more than just tolerance, even embracing all things decadent. There is an air of unpretentiousness among Berliners who are open-minded and non-judgemental. As such, the city is a magnet for non-conformists and creative minds drawn by the bizarre nightlife, expressionist art, and cheap rentals. Being a little unconventional myself, I succumbed to the unpolished charm of touring Berlin in a Trabant, a remarkable low-tech plastic resin motoring relic of the bygone communist era.
And so it is that I found myself folded into the backseat of a Trabi convertible, which smelled oddly and permanently of cat urine, being propelled along Ebertstrasse with Eicke, my kindly and differential guide from Trabi-Safaris behind the wheel.
"The life expectancy of a Trabi was around 28 years," Eicke claimed. "This baby is a modest- performing Trabant 601, built around 1967 and is one of the faster models. It takes 21 seconds to reach 60 miles per hour and her top speed is about 75," he announced proudly, while lunging unexpectedly down a side-street.
The features of the Trabant (which was in production without any significant changes for nearly 30 years) that most impressed East Germans was that it had room for four adults, some luggage, and was light and hard-wearing--additionally it could be delivered within a few short years of placing the order! Its styling was very simple, its interior frugal, and its body was made entirely from Duraplast--a plastic resin containing wool or cotton--which East Germany considered sufficient material to build a car. It may not have faired well in some crash tests but has actually proved to be superior to some modern-day hatchbacks. Although its two-cylinder, two-stroke motor, with only five moving parts spews out more clouds of CO2 than a jet liner and sounds as if it belongs in a barn, the Trabi is the first car with a body made entirely of recycled material.
Above: A free spirited fairy dancing to music only he could hear. This would have bought him a one-way ticket to the concentration camps had he shown this peculiarity in Hitler's time. Right: The Brandenburg Gates symbolize the division of East and West Germany, as well as its reunification in 1989. It's an uncanny experience to stand in the same place where people such as Frederick the Great, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, and Gorbachev have addressed the masses.
In 1941 the Reichstag dome served as the base for the German air force. In the following years, all its windows were removed and the building was transformed into a fortress. In 1945, Berlin was conquered by the Russians who hoisted the Russian flag on top of the Reichstag, symbolizing the victory over the capital and Nazi Germany.
Eicke took me on a road trip into the eastern part of the formerly divided capital, along the way driving by the Gendarmenmarkt, Palace Square, and Alexander Square. We spluttered along Karl-Marx to the trendy Friedrichshain, past the East-Side-Gallery to Red Townhall. From there we continued to Berlin Cathedral and Museum Island, via Ebertstrasse, past the Memorial dedicated to the Murdered Jews of Europe, pressing on to the city's most famous landmark--the Brandenburg Gate--a monument comprising Athenian-like stone columns topped by a statue of the goddess Victoria driving a chariot of four horses towards the city centre. We parked here for a while watching a free-spirited individual prancing around the columns in his fairy costume, until we were encouraged by the local constabulary to move along.
Left: My driver, Eicke Serbe, of Trabi-Safari took me on a 90-minute up close and personal classic tour of the city, highlighting its historical roots as well as the continuing growth of the new middle class. Below: One of the many skyscrapers at Potsdamer Platz, an area previously bisected by the Berlin Wall, and now the heart of modern Berlin. The area was destroyed during World War II and laid barren for decades before being rebuilt in the 1990's.
We continued through the government district, past the imposing Reichstag and the Federal Chancellery into hip Scheunenviertel with the golden-domed New Synagogue on Scheimannstrasse. We valiantly coughed our way along Dirksenstrasse, each mile taking us further away from the internet cafes, designer stores, and the usual tourist haunts. Eventually the city gave way to grey apartment blocks and essentially local traffic.
On Heinrich Heinestrasse, Eicke pointed out a dilapidated building that looked ready for the wrecking ball, claiming it to be a notorious nighttime haunt frequented by the city's darker side. I quietly wondered if it had ever been willingly visited by an outsider.
Eicke and I spoke at length about Trabants. Production stopped in 1991 after nearly four million Trabants had been built. The factory where they were produced in Zwickau is now a car museum. The future for Trabi-Safari's does not look much brighter either, as European legislation regarding CO2 emissions could prevent them from operating in the city, which in effect would close the little touring company down.
We stopped off at the Trabi-Safari office so that I could take a few photographs of their fleet. Stepping into the warehouse charged me with an unfocused electric buzz of energy. It felt as if I had uncovered a squadron of Cold-War-era time machines.
Evidently my admiration was etched on my face as Eicke inquired if I would like to take the wheel of one of the Trabis and go for a drive. He ran through the series of temperamental quirks in getting the world's simplest car going. Turn the fuel tap to A, pull the choke, step on the accelerator, start the engine, depress the clutch, put it into first gear, then slowly release the clutch pedal. It took a moment for the little car to gather the energy required to inch forward. Initially the movement seemed glacially slow and I could not find the gear I was seeking on the column shift. A smoky bang from the exhaust thrust us forward 10 feet, paused and, with the aid of a fresh explosion, we took off with a velocity seldom seen outside a Road Runner cartoon. I was shrieking hysterically as we flew down Oraniestrasse like an Exocet Missile, creating scenes that looked remarkably similar to the streets of Pamploma when the bulls are running. Motorists and pedestrians alike fled in terror before me as I inadvertently chased a flock of purplerinsed tourists off a zebra crossing.
Walking into a warehouse filled with restored Trabis was like stepping into a time machine. It isn't easy being a Trabi: The love-hate relationship with the car has led to a whole industry of Trabi jokes, usually centered around its size, its engine, or the quality of its materials.
Somewhat wild of hair and in an extremely animated state Eicke urged me to pull over. "Meine Liebe Gott," he gasped. "Well, they were jaywalking," I observed helpfully. Eicke fixed me with a final threatening scowl and suggested that perhaps he should drive.
Checkpoint Charlie was our next stop; a former border crossing for the Allies, the icon of the Cold War with its small wooden guard house on the West side, a white border-line across the cobblestones, a guard tower, and a much photographed sign warning in several languages that 'You are now leaving the American sector.' When the Wall went up, Charlie became the troublespot of international concern when several American tanks rolled onto the Soviet Sector and parked several yards into East Berlin, facing Soviet tanks. Kennedy visited Charlie on his famous Berlin trip, and Charlie is where Reagan stuck his foot across the border line, mocking the communists, daring them to shoot; this was also the border-point where John Le Carré brought his spy in from the cold. To keep the dark days of the Cold War fresh in our minds, a manned reconstructed guardhouse remains. Eicke considered the historical urban site before him --gleaming new architecture standing side-by-side with relics from the past. "The history of Berlin will determine its future more than in other cities, and something new will always follow," he observed thoughtfully.
As he returned me to my hotel--the Grand Hyatt of Trump-like splendour on Potsdamer Platz, where coincidentally Europe's first traffic lights were located--Eicke told me that talks had been held recently in Frankfurt with car manufacturer Sachsenring regarding their plan to launch a new version of the Trabant in Africa. The idea was to slightly modify the Cold War cult car by making it not only the cheapest car on the African market but one also suitable for moving farm goods and building materials. The concept of dirty, noisy vehicles being taken up by large numbers of people in developing countries may be a concept which causes alarm among environmentalists, but at this stage it appears to still be only talk.
Photo by Hans Peter Merten, graffiti art at East Side Gallery courtesy DZT Halt! Drivers had to submit to inspection at Checkpoint Charlie, the crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. During its 27-year active life, the infrastructure on the Eastern side was expanded to include not only the wall, watchtower, and zig-zag barriers, but a multi-lane shed where cars and their occupants were checked. The Americans did not want to concede that the division of Germany might be anything other than a temporary, thus no permanent structure was built and they made do with a wooden shed.
Later, a whispering cab took me to the airport where an eagle-eyed stick of a woman briskly saw me onto my flight back to Brussels. My 2006-model German automobile was waiting there to take me home; It was only when my foot tentatively touched the gas pedal and I shot off with enough velocity to slam my my skull against the headrest that I realized just how souped-up modern day cars truly are.
Below: The University of Berlin was founded in 1810, and has thus for produced 29 Nobel prize winners. From the outset, the university had four classical faculties--Law, Medicine, Philosophy, and Theology. Right: A colorful neighborhood in downtown Berlin. Some call it a democratic means of expression and others may call it vandalism. I call it street art. In Berlin it's historical tradition.
Far Left: Berlin does not have the old world charm and cabaret style of Paris. It's a city of bars, night clubs, the latest movies, and dining, as well a large gay scene, S&M clubs, and sex shows. Left: A grim reminder on the past, painted on one of the surviving sections of the dividing wall. Above: Since its restoration, the new synagogue is no longer a place of worship----it's now a museum documenting Jewish life in the area. When it opened in 1866, it could seat 3000. Its size and Moorish dome were once considered a reflection of the vitality of the neighborhood.
A block from where the Berlin Wall once stood
is Fassbender & Rausch, a heavenly chocolate
shop with a renowned chocolate restaurant on
the floor above, where the likes of Clint Eastwood
prefer to dine. Austrian-born Executive
Chef Walden Markus continually recreates his
delectable menu which at the time of this writing
included gastronomic wonders such as smoked
garlic soup, potato dumplings with ground cocoa
beans, sole fillets roasted in cocoa butter, and
saddle of venison basted in chocolate.
"Chocolate, she is not only sweet," Chef Walden
explained, "Chocolate is like a beautiful woman,
she can be soft and subtle, rich and aromatic, or
tart, providing you with taste tensions that you'll
need to experience again and again."
Fassbender & Rausch Chocolate Restaurant
Charlottenstrasse 60, 10117-Berlin
011 49 33 20458443 fassbender-rausch.com
Lufthansa is currently offering the best deal at $370, travelling from numerous US airports to Berlin. Visit their website at lufthansa.com. Who knows, you may just be landing at Templehof Airport, the airport famed for the noble actions of American pilots during the Berlin Airlift.
The Grand Hyatt is a minute's walk away
from the futuristically steel and glass
styled Sony Centre, the IMAX theatre,
and the DaimlerChrysler building, which
offers a viewing platform. The rooms
are modern, spacious, and most have
superb views across the city. Rates start
at $300; be sure to request room number 716 for the best
Grand Hyatt Berlin
011 49 33 25531234
Alternatively, for that special occasion demanding something
more exclusive, try the boutique Romantik Hotel Alte
Försterei just 40 miles south of Berlin. This small 240-year-old
hotel has individually decorated luxury rooms and superb
gourmet food. Rates start at $77.
Romantik Hotel Alte Försterei
011 49 33 72465
Berlin is nine times larger than Paris--556 square miles in all--making it one of Europe's top three destinations with 175 museums, three opera houses, eight major symphony orchestras, and 130 theatres.
Berlin is truly a rare place steeped in ancient history and a city you'll need to explore thrice over--the first tour should be on a tour bus so you can be driven around with your mouth hanging open, the second you should do on a hop-on/hop-off bus, and your final tour should be with a Trabi-Safari guide who will overdose you on the city's remarkable history. Visit the Berlin Tourism Office website for the latest happenings and special offers at visitberlin.de or berlin-tourist-information.de. If nothing else, you must partake in the chilling Third Reich Tour offered by New Berlin Tours, and visit the site of Hitler's bunker, the Nazi Air Force HQ, the SS and Gestapo HQ, and see the Sachsenhausen concentration camp newberlintours.com.
You may also want to visit the Kennedy Museum which is in the square opposite the Brandenburg Gate thekennedys.de.
Book your Trabi-Safaris tour via their website trabi-safari.de or call them at 011 49 30 27592273; their rates start at $30 per person.
Places of Jewish remembrance stand as a stark
reminder of the obliteration of what was once
vibrant Jewish life. Examples are the Wannsee
Villa, the loading ramp at Grunewald S-Bahn
station, and the permanent exhibition of the
'Topography of Terror' at Martin-Gropius Bau.
Other places of interest include the Jewish
Community Centre, the Central Consistory of
Jews in Germany, seven active synagogues, the
New Synagogue, the Jewish 'Volkshochschule,'
and the Jewish Museum.
Martin-Gropius-Bau, Niederkirchnerstrasse 7, 10963-Berlin gropiusbau.de.
The New Synagogue, Oranienburgerstrasse 28/30, 10117-Berlin cjudaicum.de.
Jewish Museum, Lindenstrasse 9-14, 10969- Berlin jmberlin.de.
The Memorial is a large collection of concrete columns in the middle of a plaza. The architect's intention was for people to make their own conclusions about the symbolism. I spent a long time walking around just taking it all in. Inside the Bundestag Reichstag--the German National Parliament. When Parliament is sitting, the galleries above the plenary chamber are filled with visitors. When Parliament is not sitting, visitors can participate in 90-minute guided tours.
By Mark Fletcher
Planning a spring break vacation when you have two teenagers is especially difficult. Kids are at a time in their lives when it's decidedly un-cool to take those family trips that were more popular when they were younger, which puts intense pressure on parents to devise an itinerary that works. That said, the Pacific Northwest offers an unparalleled variety of attractions so a trip from San Francisco to Seattle would afford us the opportunity to indulge many passions. Our plan was simple; fly into San Francisco and make the drive north to Seattle to spend the Easter holiday with other parts of our large, extended family. But what type of vehicle would be best suited for the trip?
Above: We spent a few hours exploring Fisherman's Wharf, where we enjoyed a traditional favorite of clam chowder served in a sourdough bowl.
Left: This early 1940's Chevy pickup is still helping to distribute fruit and vegetables at Casa de Fruta in Hollister, California.
For us it turned out to be a 2007 Dodge Grand Caravan. While I expected that the selection would be greeted with groans of antipathy, my young daughter's response was far more positive, especially when she noted it was equipped with a rear-seat DVD system.
The current Dodge Grand Caravan has been around for a while and will be replaced by an all-new model this fall. Dodge has kept it fresh and competitive over the years with a number of innovations, especially the stow-n-go second and third row seating package. As it turned out, the Caravan turned out to be perfect. Its 3.8-liter V-6 was smooth and quiet and provided plenty of power, even in the mountains and at higher elevation, and when packed with a pile of gear for our week on the road. It should be noted that our kids had never fallen asleep while traveling before but both managed several time to get plenty of shut-eye while traveling north.
Upon arriving in San Francisco we traveled to Casa de Fruta in Hollister--an oasis in the desert--for lunch. Located about an hour south of San Jose, it fit nicely into our schedule for a midday break. Not only was the food wonderful (I strongly recommend the split pea soup), but the surroundings were colorful and entertaining. This location was originally a roadside fruit stand that has now become a small community with antique farm implements, train rides, and a carousel for the kids.
That evening, back in San Francisco we spent a few hours exploring Fisherman's Wharf where we enjoyed eating clam chowder in a sourdough bowl followed with dessert at Ghirardelli's Chocolate and a cable car ride on Hyde Street on the hill above the wharf.
Before departing San Francisco we drove down a nearly deserted Lombard Street. When we arrived at the Embarcadero we discovered where all the San Franciscans were spending their day! This beautiful area underneath the Golden Gate Bridge was once the military enclave that protected the Bay Cities. It's now a beautiful park bristling with people enjoying a wonderful spring morning.
Our afternoon took us through the Wine Country of Sonoma County. Although wonderful to travel with my family here, I have to admit a getaway in a sporty convertible with my wife would make the better story for this area.
Traveling north through the low valleys of the Wine Country, we made our way through the rolling hills and the Redwood Forest and visited Leggert's Chandelier tree. This is the same tree that my dad drove our sation wagon through on one of our many family driving vacations about 40 years ago. Our Dodge Grand Caravan barely fit, as the height of the average station wagon in the Sixties was not nearly as tall as today's family minivan.
A few hours farther on the Redwood Highway found us just south of Crescent City, where we stopped for a little breath of salt air along the cool coast. The diversity of the terrain did not escape us as we were now enjoying the majesty of the Pacific Ocean--all without leaving California and barely straying from US 101.
Above: Brandon rides down the zipline that became an unanticipated pleasure on this trip. I was proud of my kids and my wife for being adventurous enough to participate in this fun experience.
Left: Our cabin in the trees was both cozy and comfortable thanks to its queen-size bed, three bunks, and full bathroom facilities.
After stopping to eat in Crescent City, we started inland along the Redwood Highway (now US 199) east toward Cave Junction, Oregon. We arrived at our destination, the Out 'N' About Treesort after dark to find most guests had already retired for the evening. We ascended two staircases that encircled large trees and crossed over two suspended cable bridges to arrive at our TreeZebo. It's named for its canvas walls, which can be rolled up to provid an excellent view of the southern Oregon Redwoods.
We found our cabin in the trees both cozy and comfortable with its queen-size bed, three bunks, and full bathroom facilities. This last amenity eliminated the need to traverse the rope bridges in the middle of the night to get to shared restrooms.
Waking the next morning to the sound of roosters and birds, we didn't have any obvious signs that we were 35 feet up a tree. Only when we looked over the landscape with the light of the morning sun did we realize how high up we had spent the night. The tree cabin was solid and secure and never made us feel that we weren't firmly attached to this world.
As I walked the grounds still wet with the morning dew, my eyes discovered a kaleidoscope of treehouse architecture and designs. This is not a resort with cookie-cutter cabins designed and created in efficiency, but truly an artist work in introducing man to nature.
Each treehouse is unique and contributes to story of the development of this unusual resort.
The breakfast provided in the main lodge reminds visitors that this natural haven also functions well as a bed and breakfast. We were able to meet guests from as far away as Sweden and as local as right there in Oregon who were all as intrigued by this location as we were. Hostess Melody prepared a wonderful pancake, bacon, sausage, and egg breakfast as she interacted with the guests and fielded our questions, as well.
After breakfast we were given the pleasure of talking with Mike Garnier, a child of the Sixties who has been quite active in the field of treehouse engineering. Mike explained how he has been able to build this resort, and also shared some of the political ramifications he has encountered with his unusual accommodations He's got a complete timeline explaining his difficulties at the Treesort's website.
After breakfast, my family was given complete and careful instructions on how to climb a 50-foot redwood tree using ascenders and then how to rappel down a 250-foot zipline at up to 40 mph. Instructors John and Melody remained alongside each family member to ensure their enjoyment and safety while participating in this new adventure. Even though I was relegated to be the official photographer for this activity, I can't imagine a better environment for challenging both our teens and my wife to venture outside of their normal comfort zone.
In addition to the zipline, the Treesort also offers horseback riding for the whole family and crafts for those less adventurous. The Out 'N' About Treesort is best enjoyed by arriving early afternoon and leaving late morning. For this reason a two-night minimum stay is recommended during their busy summer schedule. Next, we headed east to Grants Pass for lunch and then south on I-5 to Dunsmuir, California, to a family favorite, the Railroad Park Resort. This unique motel comprises around 20 retired railcars that have been remodeled into comfortable and cozy motel rooms. The resort also features one of the last remaining working train turntables. Located in the Shasta National Forest, the railroad park is within an easy drive to Lake Shasta State Park. The Railroad Park Resort does have a dining car, or it's a short drive into Downtown Dunsmuir to choose from many the restaurants there. If you love trains, Dunsmuir is a true "Train Town." From here it's an easy drive south to visit Lake Shasta and the Caverns. It includes a short boat ride across the lake and a fascinating walking tour of the caverns. No ziplines are involved, so arrive early in the day and allow a few hours in your schedule for both the boat ride and tour.
Continue north on I-5 to Woodburn, Oregon, for a beautiful drive along the mountainous route. This is the southern part of the Cascade Range that continues north through three states and into Canada. As one would expect, our drive through Oregon included the occasional rain shower. Staying in a "real" motel off the interstate was a bit of a letdown compared to our Treehouse and Railroad Car adventures.
The next morning, we visited the Evergreen Aviation Museum just southwest of Portland in McMinnville Oregon. This is the current home of the infamous Spruce Goose airplane of Howard Hughes' Fame. The museum centers on this aeronautical marvel that actually has one original air mile to its credit. Once Howard Hughes proved his design would fly, it was pretty much moth-balled, though some of the technology invented in the creation of this mammoth plane/boat has lead to other aeronautical developments. Another major point of interest is the SR-71A Blackbird that was used as a photo reconnaissance plane for the US in the Sixties.
Drive north from Portland to Seattle, Mount Saint Helens Visitor Center is on state route 504 five miles east of 1-5. The center is open 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. from April to October and until 4 p.m. during the balance of the year. We missed our opportunity to stop here due to traveling late in the day.
Any visit to Seattle requires a trip on the expansive Washington State ferries. From downtown Seattle we rode the ferry 45 minutes to Bainbridge Island. It's a wonderful way to see the Seattle skyline and the majesty of the Puget Sound it sits on. Bainbridge Island is connected to the Olympic Peninsula on the north side, which allows for a dramatic drive through evergreen forests and around the Puget Sound back to Seattle.
Allow approximately four hours for the 80-mile loop as you'll want to stop to explore the many inlets and waterways that are visible from the road. Try to stop in Gig Har- The Railroad Park Resort features around 20 retired railcars that have been remodeled into comfortable and cozy motel rooms. The Evergreen Aviation Museum is just south of Portland in McMinnville, Oregon, and demonstrates a vast assortment of air transportation machines. They also have an onsite vineyard and wine tasting room.
Volunteers are recreating the German ME262 fighter plane from World War II. Calling themselves the Stormbirds, they have already built three air-worthy examples, one of which is now located at the Messerschmitt Museum in Germany with four more planned to be built.
The story of the ME262 is fascinating, one of the great "what if's" of the second World War. The ME262 was 100 miles per hour faster than the piston-powered P-51 Mustang; had they come into service without delay and interference from Adolf Hittler in 1943 (who wanted them used as bombers), might have made the strategic bombing of Germany too costly, thus prolonging the war.
Coming from an aviation-minded family, it wasn't too difficult to devise an itinerary including the Evergreen Aviation Museum, the Boeing Flight Test Center, and the Stormbirds facility. Combine that with two truly magical places to stay and you have all the ingredients for a fun-filled family adventure, one that offers something for everyone.
The winding route through the southern Cascade mountain range offers multiple views of the serpentine paths of the rivers.
On night three of the trip we got to a treehouse hotel around 9:30 PM. We had to climb two sets of spiral staircases and crossed two bridges to reach our room, 35 feet in the air! It wasn't very large but it had room enough for five people; I tried to fit on the top of the bunkbed, but there was only one foot of head space--I was too big to fit and decided to sleep below because I thought might bonk my head too much.
The next morning we had an even greater time. After getting dressed I walked out to find my Dad at ground level and he took some pictures of me on one of the bridges. Then I went down and had breakfast with him.
After breakfast we went ziplining. My sister Chelsea, my mom, and I had to climb up a 50-foot tree and then ride all the way across the 250 feet of rope to the ground. We couldn't quite touch the ground so we had to wrap our legs around the rope and hold on with one arm while the other arm pulled off the attached pulley (on Chelsea's first try, her shoes fell off before she got down!). After that, we climbed up a nearby hill covered in trees, and from there ziplined back down to a platform just above the previous zipline we rode on. Then we rode down the first rope again (this time Chelsea tripped getting down and fell!). We had a lot of fun doing it and I would love to do it again as this was my favorite part of the trip.
Above Left: The Seattle Skyline has changed dramatically in my lifetime, but the water of the Puget sound still offers the best view of the city. Top: One thing you can count on in Washington is the abundance of water. This is a natural Garden pond on Bainbridge Island. Above: Washington ferries traverse the Puget Sound and allow many to commute into the city for business and pleasure.
Mt. Saint Helens blew its top 27 years ago this month. Scientists are still studying the past eruption and are predicting another major volcanic event in the near future.
I remember watching the eruption of May 18, 1980, from my home in the Seattle area early that Sunday morning. It came as no surprise, as the mountain had been announcing its reawakening for six months. Still, 57 people lost their lives when overwhelmed by the magnitude of the eruption. More than 230 square miles of national forest and private land was devastated by the nine-hour eruption, which created a cloud of ash that tracked across the northern United States and around the world. The top of the mountain exploded into a cloud measuring 80,000 feet high, trees were knocked down as if a nuclear blast had occurred, more than 1300 feet of the top mountain's elevation disappeared. This is a modern history lesson that I was hoping our teens would be able to see first hand. To learn more about this natural wonder go to fs.fed.us/ gpnf/mshnvm/
I worked for three different airlines in the past and took advantage of many flight benefits. I've always been intrigued by airplanes, but the adventure we went on put a new perspective on flying. Mark's father, a retired Boeing engineer, took the kids and me on the Boeing Tour in Everett, Washington. We explored the interactive exhibits in the Future of Flight Aviation Center while we waited for our tour. The kids were able to design their own "aircraft" (on paper). We were able to take some pictures in this area, however cameras are not allowed on the tour and children must be at least 4 feet tall to participate. (In fact, no personal items are allowed on the tour; lockers are available for a small fee.) One favorite photo was of the kids and Grandpa standing in front of the tail of a 747 Jumbo Jet! I was impressed with all the information on the upcoming 787 aircraft! We sat in the cabin of a 787 and viewed several informative video screens from which we learned this will be the new luxury liner boasting many great features, with improved environmental efficiencies and requiring 20% less fuel! Next, we went to the theater to watch a time-lapse film of the complete assembly of a Boeing 777 airplane.
We boarded a bus and viewed several planes in different stages of assembly. We drove by the flight line to see the planes get ready for painting and testing before they would be delivered to airline customers around the world.
We were also lucky enough to see a "Dreamlifter," one of (I believe) only five in the world. It's a large, green plane that helps transport the huge pieces of the all new 787 (wings, engines, etc.). Next we had a "Guinness experience" as we entered the world's largest building with 472 million cubic feet by volume. As we were viewing the assembly of various aircraft, I asked the kids what they thought their friends were doing on their Spring Break now--watching TV? We were privileged to be here! --by Cheryl Fletcher.
The Future of Flight Aviation Center is located adjacent to the Boeing assembly facility at Paine Field in Everett, Washington. We wanted to make sure that this vacation centered around activities that were interesting to both our teenagers and the adults.
By Mark Elias
First of all, a full disclosure: I am about 25 years beyond Nissan's target demographic for customers of this car. Having said that, I must continue by noting that, although I am far beyond the salad days of my youth, the 2007 Sentra SE-R Spec-V made me want to go out and challenge youthful drivers in their souped-up, soup-can-mufflered, Honda Civics and Subaru Imprezas for bragging rights in streetlight shootouts that hearkens back not that long ago, to the original "The Fast and the Furious" movie.
Okay, Mark, snap out of it and get a hold of yourself!
Now in its sixteenth year, The 2007 Sentra SE-R is Nissan's entry into the "Sports Compact" ranks, which include the previously noted Honda Civic Si, and Subaru Sti, as well as the Mitsubishi Evo Lancer, and Acura RSX, among others. While not in the same power class as the Evo and the Subie, the car does possess sporting pretensions.
These sporting Sentras, available in two forms--the somewhat tuned SE-R and the more powerful SE-R Spec-V, which is what we will concentrate on today--offer great bang for the buck in a market that seems to be maturing, if not dwindling, in numbers. And the manufacturers are aware of the reduction or thinning of the ranks. Hence the surge in hot sedans, and besides, it's not cool trying to get to the baby seats in the back of a tuner-coupe!
The newly designed shape of Nissan's "C" platform Sentra sedan serves as the blank canvas for the new SE-R, and features a much improved feature set over the model it replaces. With a new high-tech look and profile, and subtle body kit enhancements, including side skirts, new front and rear fascia, and a rear deck spoiler, the SE-R Spec-V assumes the position that was previously occupied by DaimlerChrysler's discontinued SRT-4.
By Mark Elias
The early morning showers that passed through South Florida on a daily basis did nothing to deter the sunbathers from doffing their bikini tops at the pool behind South Beach's Shore Club during the recent national launch of the 2007 BMW 3-Series hardtop convertible. It was the perfect respite from a winter that didn't seem to want to quit, and the ideal venue to present this eagerly anticipated topless supermodel. Now in its fourth generation, it is the first BMW to offer a retractable three-piece steel hardtop that gives driver and passenger alike a topless wind-in-the-hair view of the world, or at least, in this case, Miami Beach.
As has been the hallmark of BMW's convertibles, the new 3, which we tested in the guise of a 335i model, features a vehicle profile that is unique to the convertible. Not content to just lop off the roof of an existing coupe, the engineers (according to Michael Brachvogel, deputy project director for the 3-Series), build their propeller-badged droptops from the ground up, with a distinctive side view that continues the tradition of a long hood and short trunk which connote this high-performance vehicle. The roof, when viewed from a side angle, gives an appearance of a slightly conservative, yet handsome coupe that is all business, but at the same time, a great deal of fun.
And it is just that.
by Jim McCraw
What they got was a big, heavy luxury liner with an angry edge when provoked, a car that happily eats miles by the hundreds. We found that out on a recent weekend jaunt that took us from the Motor City to Kansas City and back--almost 2000 miles--over a fairly frenetic fourday frolic on the Interstate Highway System in a jet-black S8.
The S8's 5.2-liter V-10 engine, punched out from the 5.0-liter Lamborghini, is fitted with Audi direct gasoline injection cylinder heads and tuned completely differently, to yield 450 horsepower at 7000 rpm, as opposed to the Lamborghini engine's 513 horsepower at a screaming 8000 rpm. With this setup, Audi promises this luxury sedan will sprint from 0 to 60 in 4.9 seconds, though it is electronically governed to a top speed of 155 mph.
In the S8, the V-10 is hooked up to a six-speed Tiptronic transmission with a floor shifter, a Sport mode, and a set of steering-wheel-mounted shifter paddles. The transmission, in turn, feeds power through a Torsen torquesensing differential to the Quattro drive system with 40 percent drive to the front and 60 percent to the rear. On the S8, power is normally delivered to the tarmac by giant 265/35R-20 tires on alloy wheels, but our Detroitbased test car was fitted with smaller Pirelli Sotto Zero 255/45ZR-19 winter tires at the time, tires that would be huge on most cars. Underneath the aluminum S8 body and chassis is a retuned version of the A8 adaptive fourmode (Lift, Comfort, Automatic, Dynamic) air suspension system with stiffer settings and bushings, to align more closely with the S8's sporting pretensions. We selected Automatic and let it do its thing.
With 450 horsepower under the right foot, monster brakes for the left foot, and paddle shifters for both hands, our favorite sport was playing "off-ramp and on-ramp" to the tune of a wideopen- throttle V-10. Once we were able to gain control over our juvenile tendencies, we let the car settle down into a continuous 80-mph cruise from Michigan to Missouri, with only one brief stop in Hannibal to see Mark Twain's home town. Highly recommended. On the highway, the S8 proved comfortable, quiet, roomy, silky smooth over the bumps, and ready for any kind of pavement or corner the trip threw at it. The enormous brakes were more than a match for the S8's considerable road weight, almost 5000 pounds loaded. If we had one complaint, it would be the car's first-gear behavior, where the lurchy combination of an ambitious electronic throttle and low gearing puts the car in the dragster category, which is not where an executive express machine like the S8 belongs. Some fiddling with software could cure this easily.
Swathed in a lovely combination of grey leather, Alcantara, carbon fiber, and brushed aluminum trim, and finely adjusted into our 12-way, power-lumbar, bench-extending driver's seat, we sat back and enjoyed what is surely one of the finest high-performance sedans extant. The instruments are beautiful and easy to read, the Audi MMI (Man-Machine Interface) is relatively easy to learn and use, the navigation system is very talented and capable, and the sound system was nothing short of spectacular.
You see, our test S8 was loaded way beyond its heady $92,000 base price, with black pearl paint ($750), the leather upgrade package ($4900), the Premium package of sunshades, smart key, power trunk lid, heated rear seats, parking warning system, and power door closers ($3500), a Sirius satellite radio receiver ($550), and the big one, the Bang & Olufsen sound system for a staggering $6300. It totaled out, with gas guzzler tax at $1700 and freight at $720, at $110,920.
The 14-speaker, 1000-watt B&O sound system, including two tiny tweeters that pop up at the base of the windshield, reproduced our reference tunes with remarkable power, clarity, and range, and provided our lovely co-pilot with lots of settings to play with until we got the sound exactly right.
Would we pay the $6300 extra for such a system? Not a chance. We'd rather take the very nice base sound system, put the $6300 in the tank $50 at a time and enjoy the highway-devouring prowess of this remarkably comfortable, capable automobile. With the S8, the Audi brand has moved up there into the rarified air with the S 55 AMG, the BMW 760 Li, and the new Lexus LS 600h, a high-performance, highpriced car for those who demand the very best..
2007 Audi S8
Length: 199.3 inches
Width: 74.7 inches
Height: 56.1 inches
Wheelbase: 115.9 inches
Curb Weight: 4586 lbs
Engine type: DOHC V-10 FSI
Displacement: 5.2 liters
Horsepower: 450 horsepower
Transmission type: 6-speed Tiptronic with DSP and sport program
EPA rating: 15 city / 21 highway
Price as tested: $110,920
By Mark Elias
The Veracruz is the final brick in the Korean manufacturer's 24/7 program to bring seven new vehicles to market in a 24-month period. The designed-in-Irvine, California, seven-passenger vehicle takes its place as the flagship of the firm's fleet of utility vehicles, slotting above both the Tucson and Santa Fe. Using the Lexus RX 350 as a benchmark, Hyundai officials are quick to point out how the Veracruz surpasses the Lexus in features, while undercutting its price by thousands. And the buildquality is none too shabby, either.
Motivation for the seven-passenger crossover comes from a 3.8-liter, 260-horsepower DOHC V-6 engine mated to a six-speed transmission with Shiftronic manual shift mode that allows you to pound through the gates, should you desire. Acoustic engineers earned their keep by eliminating most of the wind and engine noise that permeates the interiors of some of the Hyundai's competitors. Engineers claim that the use of acoustic dampening sheets and four layers of carpet padding, among other tricks, has helped to make the crossover quieter than the RX 350. The added insulation also enhances the sound of the Infinity Logic 7 audio system.
Our all-wheel-drive-equipped Veracruz Limited smoothly tackled the bumpy backroads of central Tennessee. Add the benefits of Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), and front and side airbags and curtains, and the confidence in Hyundai's product line continue to impress.
The interior of the Veracruz is a showpiece for the upstart South Korean manufacturer. Comprised of components that are clearly several classes above the Veracruz's direct competition, the interior rivals that of the benchmarked Lexus. Leather seating in the Limited model offered good support while driving from Nashville to the Jack Daniel's Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee, and back. We stopped at the visitors center to share a moment in front of the original statue of Mr. Jack who still watches over the "hollow" every day, in effigy, if not also in spirit. The distillery tours are free, and open to the public everyday from 9am to 4:30pm, except for Christmas, New Years Day and Thanksgiving.
Top: The Veracruz goes slumming in a Nashville neighborhood.
Below: The eyes of Jack are upon those entering the Jack Daniels visitor center.
By David Newhardt
Adrian Streather has a life that many of us dream about. He lives in Switzerland, a place blessed with some of the best driving roads on the planet yet is cursed with some of the most rigidly enforced speed limits to be found in the civilized world. He, like many other members of the Automotive Traveler team, drives, writes, and photographs some of the most exotic cars on the planet, and due to this, has been fortunate enough to literally own a car that most of us can only dream about: the legendary Porsche 911 (996 version) GT-2 with the Sportec Sportec SP 700R package. That he got to spend last summer with it makes the Aussieborn enthusiast even luckier.
If you live in Switzerland and own such a car, there's only one place to take it after delivery, and that's 20 miles away, across the Swiss-German border where it is legally possible to air it out on some of the lesscrowded, unrestricted Autobahns. With more than 700 horsepower on tap, clearly this is a car that --given the right road and the right conditions--is capable of traveling in excess of 200 miles per hour.
But if you're looking for a more challenging venue to extend its capabilities, then there's only one place that will top your list: the infamous Nürburgring-Nordscheife a few hours north. As Adrian says, "Do a few laps, avoid the carnage of others in lesser machines crashing around you and compare yourself against the best of the best who have tackled the track before." "From the outside, the Sportec SP 700R just looks plain mean. It has an unrivalled genuine aggressive look. The award-winning Sportec designed and BBS manufactured 19-inch wheels just sit there quietly, the largest brake discs and brake calipers found on any road car lurking behind their spokes. The rear wing or spoiler has been slightly modified from original and the new mounting angle just gives the SP 700R that extra mean look."
Inside the SR 700R, it's a pure Porsche GT-2 with only a slight hint of Sportec. The nameplate is there and the instruments have been Sportecerized. The rest of the grey-green and silver trim interior is Porsche. Nothing is allowed to detract from the singular purpose of the car. It is supposed to be driven so there's no superfl uous gadgets to play with inside. Starting the engine is a simple turn of the key. No need to touch the accelerator pedal the engine roars into life all on its own.
"In order to transfer the engine power to the rear wheels the clutch has been strengthened. A double plate clutch is used and this will take some getting used. Sportec have modified the engine computer to act like a normal GT-2 when driving around at low rpm. The SP 700R drives very well even in the worst of traffic jams and while one has to take care with the use of the accelerator pedal, it is not difficult to drive. In my opinion this not a town car; it's the closest you are ever going to get to a road legal F1 car." As Adrian has told us, on multiple occasions, this car is not for the fainthearted or inexperienced driver.
When the pedal goes to the metal, the horsepower is instantly there. So much so, that the rearend kicks out left as the torque winds up to a huge number really quickly. Passengers are thrown back in their seats because there is nowhere to go. The seat keeps them wrapped up and locked down. It is an adrenalin rush of the first order.
The numbers truly tell the story. In the hands of a crack driver, the SP 700R will accelerate from 0 to 60 in just over three seconds. In Adrian's capable hands, he tripped the stopwatch in 3.7 seconds. Says Adrian, "With the pedal to the metal and gripping the steering wheel gently to retain control it is very easy to pass 200 mph without really noticing it. The top speed is over 220 mph. I managed 208 mph with my wife Gail as a witness in the passenger seat."
The SP 700R stops as well as it goes; from 60 to 0, the SP 700R will stop in less than 100 feet. "From 180 mph it felt like we stopped in less than feet as well. I am sure my eye balls popped out for a second. The GT-2 stopped in a serious hurry and luckily nobody was behind because I am sure they would not have been able to stop before running into us." Alas, all good things must come to an end as while Adrian enjoyed the capabilities for an entire summer, ultimately it did have to go back to Sportec after an extended evaluation of 3,500 miles. Fortunately for Adrian, his daily driver is a still a sporting and capable ride, a 1999 Porsche Carrera 4. All we can say to Adrian is: you're one seriously lucky guy and we look forward, along with our readers, to your upcoming reports from across the Atlantic..
By David Newhardt
For just about all of his 48 years, Cory Thies has had a passion for interesting cars, motorcycles, and sports. His 2003 Mini Cooper S fully refl ects his passion, so much so that he drove it from Monterey, California, to Albuquerque, New Mexico, about one third of the 2006 Mini Takes the States cross-country tour.
This Orange County, California, native is an optometrist who has been in private practice for the last 23 years. He was the eye doctor for the sports teams at his alma mater, the University of Southern California (USC), as well as the Los Angeles Raiders American football team, and some of the Los Angeles Rams when those teams were based in California.
Because he's been infected with the custom car bug, Cory was unable to leave well enough alone and turned to Wet Works Garage (wetworksgarage.com) and its "carchitect" Joe Delio, to personalize his Mini. Cory wanted a specific theme for his Mini: a classic rally look combined with all the upgrades found in a contemporary tuner car. On the exterior Wet Works Garage started with painting body color, the molding and wheel arches while installing smoked side markers, head, and taillights. The exterior look was further enhanced by installing a rally light bar and rally lighting package. Next came custom window graphics and window tint, followed by custom checkerboard Cooper S roof graphics and Viperstripe body graphics.
Next, carbon fiber was liberally added: this included the hood scoop, JCW mirror caps, door handles, air intake box and induction tubes, front strut brace, and reservoir caps. Other exterior modifications included custom cowl air scoops, custom wicker bill spoiler, polished engine bay covers, and a stainless steel skid plate.
The look of the exterior was further enhanced with an aggressive wheel/tire package. DP Engineering supplied custom forged 18-inch wheels shod all around with W-rated 215/35R18 Cooper Zeon 2XS tires. A Wilwood big brake kit installation gives ample opportunity to display the Wilwood slotted and drilled rotors and painted calipers. The suspension was upgraded with H-Sport's complete TVS package, which includes springs, front and rear competition sway bars, adjustable camber plates, adjustable control arms, and adjustable down links as well as adjustable Koni shocks.
Under the hood, the Mini's 1.6-liter supercharged engine benefited from the addition of a 15% reduced pulley with engine management handled by GIAC custom ECU software. The exterior's carbon fiber theme was extended under the bonnet with the addition of the BenFer Performance carbon fiber package (air box, induction tubes, Y-pipe, strut tower bar, engine caps). The carbon fiber look was accented further with polished stainless steel engine bay covers. To stiffen the overall structure, rear and underbody strut bars were also installed. To get the right exhaust note, Cory installed an OBX Racing header and a Magnafl ow exhaust. Other performance upgrades include an oil cooler with stainless steel braided lines and custom fittings, a spin-on oil filter conversion, custom gauges, MSD ignition, Jackson Racing plug wires, Sun Automobile hyper voltage and hyper ground system plasma boost ignition, and a 180-degree-Fahrenheit thermostat. Shifing precision was enhanced with the installation of a B&M short shift kit.
On the inside, the interior is dominated by the addition of Sparco Monza racing seats augmented with Sparco and Schroth harnesses. To keep tabs on what's happening under the hood, he installed an ATI gauge pod with Autometer gauges. The car has benefitted from the installation of a space- and weight-saving ICE system. An application-specific New Mini JL Audio Stealthbox was installed in the rear cargo compartment along with a five-channel JL Audio amplifier. The amplifier itself is mounted on a platform which is removable with the twist of two screws. All the speaker and power connections are handled by a single multi-pin plug with all signal cables labeled. The whole assembly, including the JL Audio Mini Stealthbox, can be taken out of the car in less than a minute. As he already had the Pioneer AVIC-N2 AM/FM/CD/DVD receiver with integrated GPS navigation system from a previous car, it was simply replaced the stock Mini AM/FM/CD player. Overall, Cory's Mini is a well balanced package, one that can do double duty: not so harsh that it can't be driven every day, yet more tightly tuned, giving him an edge on track days and at club autocrosses.
His distinctive Mini is always a hit at shows where he's a long-time member of the International AllStars show team as well as being a charter member of the Fireballed Team Racers (fireballed.com/). Fireballed has their own plans for a series of modified Minis, which include many of the upgrades that Cory has incorporated in his own car..
Automotive museums chart the course of the history of the automobile, from the last part of the 19th Century all the way to the present day. These websites give you a tour of six of the world's most outstanding automotive collections, great for pre-trip planning to far-flung destinations.
The National Motor Museum--As home to one of the world's greatest transportation collections, the National Motor Museum located at Beaulieu, south of London, truly has something for every auto enthusiast. Two collections of note include Donald Campbell's Bluebirds as well as the AMC Hornet stunt car from Man with a Golden Gun.
Autostadt--Literally, it means the auto city, Autostadt pays homage to the various automotive brands of Volkswagen, all within the shadows of the massive assembly plant in Wolfsburg. Individual pavilions illustrate the history of VW, Audi, Seat, Skoda, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Bentley, and predecessor companies such as NSU.
The Henry Ford Museum--Charting Henry Ford's vision to document the genius of ordinary people by preserving everyday objects, The Henry Ford Museum is a national treasure, preserving our four-wheeled heritage and so much more. Check out the Rock Stars, Cars, and Guitars exhibit opening on June 9, 2007.
Toyota Automobile Museum--It should come as no surprise that the largest car company on earth should have its own museum and, when visiting Japan, the Toyota Automobile Museum is a must-see attraction. With a collection of more than 120 automobiles, the emphasis is on the practical, rather than the exotic and gives insight into Toyota's relentless ascent to the pinnacle of the automotive universe.
Blackhawk Museum--The automobile collection showcased at the Blackhawk Museum outside of San Francisco is heavily weighted to the preservation and display or pre-war classics, though there are several noteworthy later cars including one of the few surviving Tuckers as well as the only remaining GT40-based Mirage, resplendent in its blue/orange Gulf livery.
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum--George Barber raced, modified, and maintained Porsches in the Sixties and started collecting cars in 1989, but his interests changed when he realized that there was not yet a museum dedicated to the history of motorcycles from around the world. Located adjacent to Barber Motorsports Park, the US home of the Porsche Driving Experience, the collection of motorcycles is among the finest in the world.
For most of us, few things go together better than a great car, an exceptional itinerary, and outstanding cuisine. For this month's travel on the internet, we identify six outstanding websites that can be invaluable when planning your next culinary adventure. Combine it with a high-performance or vintage car rental and you'll have a culinary adventure of a lifetime.
APL International Cooking School--While APL offers a full menu of culinary vacations worldwide, their newest adventure to Istanbul, Turkey, offers a combination of adventure, culture, history, and food that's difficult to surpass.
Artisans of Leisure--Have an interest in the food and history of Japan? If so, let Artisans of Leisure whisk you away to an eight-day culinary tour of Japan including the cities of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Hakone.
On the Menu--Not sure where you want to go on a food-fueled vacation? Turn to the experts at On the Menu who offer a host of adventures spanning the globe, including Australia, France, India, Ireland, Italy, Indonesia, Jordan, Mexico, Morocco, Spain Thailand, and Vietnam.
Gourmet On Tour--Hungry for a culinary adventure? Turn to Gourmet On Tour for foodfocused tours around the world. Especially interesting is their package with chef Jane Butel covering Southwestern and Tex-Mex cuisine offered in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The International Kitchen--As one of the pioneers of the concept of cooking school vacations, The International Kitchen offers more than 90 programs along with more than 50 daily class choices. With cooking school vactions offered in Italy, France, and Spain, they truly offer something for every appetite.
Nostalgic--Have you ever thought of combining a tour of Tuscany with a Fifties Alfa Romero convertible? If you have, then you must take a look at the programs offered by Nostalgic, whose motto is "Driven by Style."
By Steve Statham
No matter what you call it, it's certainly a subject that doesn't get addressed in glossy travel brochures, and if there's an Internet chat group dedicated to the issue, I (mercifully) haven't seen it.
This issue has historically dogged--in particular --race tracks. There was a time, and not so long ago, when a lot of guys wouldn't bring their wives or kids to the dragstrip. The toxic Port-a-Johns and barnyard restrooms at most tracks would not pass muster for the occupants of a Calcutta poor house, let alone for a gaggle of suburban housewives. I'll grant you that in the swaggering early days of he-man racing, only a real backmarker cared about such trivial concerns. You need to go? Stand behind the stack of tires, kid.
But the wretched state of track-side facilities was one of the factors that kept auto racing a step behind Major League Baseball, the NBA, and the NFL for so many years. Drag racing in particular, by clinging to the outhouse model for facilities, took a lot longer to shed its country-bumpkin reputation. I recall one drag strip from years ago, which, because I'm a nice guy, shall remain nameless. Its "bathrooms" made me long for the relatively sanitary conditions of a trench latrine dug by marines. I visited the same dragstrip in the mid- '90s, some 15 years after my earlier visits, and it looked as if the owners hadn't so much as flushed a toilet in the intervening years.
Needless to say, that track now has newer, cleaner competition. It has happened gradually, but the old tracks with the Superfund restrooms have been getting pushed aside by cannier operators who understand that people who drive long distances to cheer on their racing heroes don't want to have to keep their legs crossed for the whole afternoon.
In fact, at some modern racetracks, the facilities might be cleaner than at the surrounding motels. When the Las Vegas Motor Speedway (lvms.com) was under construction 10 years ago, I interviewed the track president for an article in a racing publication. He was particularly proud of the luxuries and amenities planned for the track. He told me about the "staffed" restrooms that were going in. Most race track restrooms have historically been staffed solely by bacteria, so this was a major breakthrough.
That mid-'90s race track building boom did much to sweep away the vestiges of motorsports' unwashed reputation. NBA luxury suites have nothing on today's top tracks. For an example of sheer opulence, the Texas Motor Speedway (texasmotorspeedway.com) is hard to beat. The track's Speedway Club boasts Italian crystal chandeliers, cherrywood paneling, health club and spa, and concierge service. Italian marble adorns the dance floor in the Starlight Dining Room. Want to live there? The 10-story Lone Star Tower in turn two houses condominiums on the top five floors. Buyers of the 76 luxury condos get, among other perks, access to a clubhouse with pool. As a mere scribbler of words, I'm still saving for my membership (ought to have it secured by 2053), so I can't speak firsthand, but I bet those facilities shine like a surgeon's tool kit. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a bidet hiding in at least one of those condos. What would Junior Johnson say about that? Unquestionably, those old tracks had their charm. Admission prices were low, you got close to the action, and they kept us in touch with the roots of the sport. But as ticket prices rise and television moves in, people expect more. They expect not to have to call in the EPA to disinfect their kids after sending them to do their business.
So now I've mentioned the unmentionable. And I'll take a stand, and declare it's safe to put away those mental images of the primitive racetrack. When it comes to modern tracks you can finally rest(room) in peace..