Q. Desirable old cars have
become far too expensive for
me, so I collect license plates. What is the highest price paid for a license plate? -- P.H. (via Internet)
A. You must go to the oil-rich cities of the Persian Gulf (where else?) if you want truly unusually high license plates prices. For instance, at an auction in Tehern, Iran, a businessman with the first name "Saeed" paid $14.5 million for a local license plate labeled "1" at an auction in Abu Dhabi. It was the most expensive license plate ever. Another plate "5" went for $6.8 million at that auction. The plate's owners can change cars, but don't have to change plates.
Q. Why don't you feature reviews of more American cars? I would think that General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler would want your readers to get your reactions. -- N.F. (via Internet)
A. Blame the lackluster public relations departments of General Motors' Cadillac, Buick, Chevrolet--and of Fiat Chrysler. Despite requests, I only got one Jeep and no Dodges or Chryslers from Fiat Chrysler for the 2016 model year. Also never saw a Fiat or the new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan that was in my media area as a test car--let alone the sexy new Alfa Romeo sports car. GM has been just as bad. I haven't seen a new Cadillac for testing in years and got no 2016 Chevrolets and one 2016 Buick from GM. I only got two 2016 Fords and no Lincoln. I have no problem getting test cars from, say, even Lexus. That's no surprise because my auto web site, which has no advertising, is nearly 8 years old and I was the auto editor of the Chicago Sun-Times for decades and a vehicle road tester for Microsoft's auto site for years. Also, my reviews are carried by major auto web sites. You have to wonder if Cadillac, Buick, Chevrolet, Ford and Fiat Chrysler P.R. representatives give a darn about informing car buyers about their products with objective reviews. Maybe they just want rewritten press releases.
Q. What do you think of General Motors chief executive Mary Barra? -- J.K. (via Internet)
A. She's smart, very experienced and dedicated. She also looks much like a movie star, which nobody in the media mentions.
Q. Do you think the new
Chevrolet Bolt electric car (not to be confused with the Chevy Volt)
will give Tesla Motors a run for the money? -- J.K. (via Internet)
A. It might. The attractive, affordable Bolt reportedly will travel 238 miles on a single charge. Moreover, it's expected to sell for around $30,000 after a $7,500 federal tax credit.
Q. When do you think self-driving cars will become common? Are they just around the corner, as some media outlets say they are? -- E.H. (via Internet)
A. Don't hold your breath. Leave it to the general mass media to be practically know-nothings about cars. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said fully self-driving cars are "years off" and will not dominate American roadways for the "next 20 to 30 years at least," with likely a mixed fleet of different levels of automation.