Q. Why don’t states allow Tesla Motors bypass franchised dealers and sell its cars directly to the public? — N.J., Chicago
A. For one thing, it’s charged that such direct sales could hurt the franchise system for dealers of all types of cars. Dealers say customers should be able to go to a conveniently located franchised dealer with trained mechanics for service and easy access to company parts. In short, a franchised dealer has his “skin” in the community in which his vehicles are sold. A vehicle generally needs considerable attention over its lifetime. Also, franchised dealers can be a strong political force.

Q. What’s all the fuss about the battery-powered Tesla sedan? I appreciate its mechanical side, but think it looks much like other limited-production cars, such as a Maserati sedan. — T.S., Los Angeles

A. The Tesla isn’t all that much of a head-turner, as was the failed Fisker Karma sedan. The Karma definitely drew attention because it was designed by a former top BMW and Aston Martin designer. The outfit that made it was hit with lots of bad luck. Consumer Reports magazine, which many consider the “bible,” gave the four-door Tesla  Model S an extremely high rating, and significant government rebates are offered if you buy this “green” car, However, it’s still expensive—with list prices of approximately $70,000 to $95,000. 

Q. Chrysler seems to be making a comeback. But none of its  car models, except perhaps the Bentlely-style 300 and retro-style Dodge Challenger, really stick out. What say? — J.M., Denver

A. Chrysler, controlled by Fiat, is making tons of money with its popular Jeeps and its Ram trucks. However, it has a striking new 200 auto model set to go.

Q. What’s all the recent fuss about the Cadillac SRX crossover model? — (Via Internet)

A. General Motors is recalling 56,400 of the popular 2013 SRX  models because of a possible delay of several seconds during acceleration. But it’s not alone. Both domestic and foreign automakers have been making a large number of recalls or advising their customers to return to a dealership to fix a problem.

Q. What do you think of Ferrari calling its latest street model the LaFerrari? And why on earth does this gas/electric hybrid sports car have 950-horsepower? — S.M., Denver

A. What’s Ferrari going to name a new model, now that it’s used the “LaFerrari” name? It may have to identify new models by a series of numbers or letters. Secondly, the horsepower figure is absurd for a car that can legally be driven on the street. Watch for some dumb, rich guy to wrap it around a tree.

Q. What 1930s car easily matched the top-line American autos of that era, such as Cadillac and Lincoln? — F.K. (via Internet)

A. It was the Pierce-Arrow, which the Great Depression of the 1930s caused the last models to be built for 1938. A Pierce-Arrow could be had with a potent V-12 engine, and a standard, used model piled up 2,710 miles at a 112.91-mph average over 24 hours on the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1932—then was driven 2,000 miles across the continent to Pierce-Arrow headquarters in Buffalo, N.Y. The 1933 radical, streamlined Pierce-Arrow Silver Arrow show car was breathtaking, but only five were reportedly built. Ride and handling of the sleek 1936 models were outstanding. By 1938, though, only a handful of Pierce-Arrows were left for sale. Too bad most Americans don’t know that this country built really special cars long ago.

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