Q. How far
back does the car radio go
and who invented it? -- J.M. (via Internet)
A. You can thank William Lear, Elmer Wavering and Paul Galvin, owner of the Galvin Manufacturing Co. Very briefly, the three got together, with the result being Galvin parking his radio-equipped Studebaker outdoors at the 1930 Radio Manufacturers Association convention because he didn't have an inside display. His car's radio made quite a splash, and Galvin changed the name of his company to "Motorola." Auto radios initially were costly, and the public at first was wary of them. But B.F. Goodrich eventually contracted to sell and install them through tire stores. Wavering stayed with Motorola. He invented the auto alternator and "paved the way" for power-assist options, such as seats and windows, says the Old Cars Weekly News & Marketplace publication. Lear went on his own and was said to be responsible for the eight-track tape player and aircraft-related items. He also was very interested in steam-powered vehicles, but is best known for his Lear business jet.
Q. The new Ferrari California T looks spectacular. But a friend said it's got a hidden drawback, which he wouldn't disclose. -- A.H. (via Internet)
A. Many old Ferrari lovers would call the California T's lack of a traditional Ferrari manual transmission and foot clutch a drawback. Instead, it has a mandatory dual-clutch 7-speed transaxle, which can be operated in automatic mode or shifted manually--with no foot clutch. Actually, few modern Ferraris have been bought with a regular manual transmission. An interesting fact is that the 560-horsepower California T has a relatively small V-8 with power enhancing turbochargers because there are "tough Chinese taxes on cars with (large) engines," says Forza, a Ferrari magazine. China has a good number of wealthy folks who want a Ferrari.
Q. Cadillac seems to be
the luxury market but still isn't keeping up with the growth of it.
Will it introduce any special models to compete with foreign luxury
brands? -- D.M. (via Internet)
A. Wait until the November Los Angeles Auto Show, when Cadillac will introduce the ATS-V junior sport-luxury model with a twin-turbocharged V-6, reports the DetroitBureau.com. The ATS-V is a new high-performance car that targets the BMW M3 -- the compact luxury segment auto benchmark. The ATS-V reportedly will precede the next-generation CTS-V model that Cadillac also is developing. An all-new Cadillac flagship sedan reportedly also is in the works.
Q. I'm considering the purchase of a De Tomaso Pantera sports car. It's sleek, fast and far more affordable than an old Ferrari, Maserati or Lamborghini. It's got an Italian body but a Ford V-8, so it will be more reliable than an old exotic car with an Italian engine. Your thoughts about this car? -- R.H. (Via Internet)
A. The 1971-74 mid-engine Pantara was a fast, serious two-seater with exotic wedge-shaped lines by Italy's Ghia. It came from Ford Motor and Europe's offbeat car builder Alejandro De Tomaso. Its Ford 351-cubic-inch V-8 generated 310 horsepower and it had a German ZF five-speed transmission. At $10,295, it seemed like a steal-- about half the price of an Italian exotic. Avoid the many hacked-up Panteras and early, troublesome cars, although most early Pantera flaws have been fixed by now. Still, the less troublesome 1973-4 models are your best bet. The Pantera was sold by Lincoln-Mercury dealers, who didn't know what to do with it because it was way out of place alongside L-M's domestic cars. Still, 5,629 Panteras came to America. More may have been built, but Ford and De Tomaso divorced because of weak exotic car demand in America after the U.S. gasoline shortage scare of 1973-74 and the cost of meeting new U.S. emissions and safety regulations after 1974. Panteras have steadily risen in value in recent years and are valued at $38,000-$65,000 by the Sports Car Market value guide. A good one is an exotic car bargain, especially considering the prices of the Italian exotics you mention.