Test Drive GMC Canyon…online!

Cayobo, Flickr Creative Commons

GMC continues to be a leader in innovative ways to allow you to experience their products. For example, you can test drive the new GMC Canyon midsize pickup from the comfort of your own home! The “Canyon Experience” allows you to virtually drive a Canyon pickup in four different environments, the first of which is YOUR neighborhood! Thanks to Google Maps and Google Street View, you simply allow the Canyon Experience to use your current location to tailor an experience to where you are right now. One of the coolest things is to “park” your Canyon outside your house and see just how good that looks!

The four different environments you can select for your test drive are: mountain, shore, city, or rural. Not everybody lives in town, not everybody lives where it’s flat, but the Canyon can handle all environments with ease. The Canyon Experience will work with laptops, desk tops, tablets, and iOs and Android phones as well.

I gotta tell you, I enjoyed my drive through the mountains this morning. I could almost feel the lack of humidity and the un-Texas change in grade. Not only that but the Canyon looks pretty darn good parked in front of my house! Oddly enough it looked best in front of my house in the Quicksliver Mettalic color! I casually left the laptop open on the kitchen counter over night, and when my wife checked her email this morning, the first thing she said was, “Wow, that’s our house! That truck looks GOOD out there!” You could have knocked me over with a feather, I thought the whole “new truck” conversation was either going to be big trouble or was entirely forbidden.

So, if you have 10-15 minutes to explore online, and we all know you do, then give the Canyon Experience a try. You can try it yourself right here!

Buick, the Twin Wasp, and the B-24 Liberator

David Foster, Flickr Creative Commons

Not many of you may know, but Buick built over 74,000 Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp radial engines for the Army Air Corps during WWII. These engines were air cooled, 14 cylinder (two rows of 7), and ranged between the 800 hp of the -1’s to 1350hp of the -94’s. They were called the Twin Wasp because the original Pratt & Whitney Wasp series of engines were single row radial engines, meaning that had one row of cylinders radiating from around the crankshaft.

The official name was the P&W R-1830, denoting a Radial engine of 1830 cubic inches. They were mounted to the two most produced US aircraft of the entire war: the Consolidated B-24 Liberator which mounted four Twin Wasps, and the Douglas DC-3/C-47 which mounted two. The high production numbers of those two aircraft caused the R-1830 to be the most widely produced aircraft engine in history with a total production run above 173,000!

Buick began building the engines at a government owned plant in Melrose Park, just west of Chicago, IL. The engines Buick built were exclusively for use on the B-24 Liberator heavy bomber, and comprised 43% of total 1830 production! Over 18,000 B-24’s were built during the course of the war and were flown in every theater of that conflict. The B-24 had a fairly long post-war career as well being used to haul freight, aerial mapping (pre-satellites baby!), as well as flying suppression of wildfires by the naval variant (PB4Y Privateer) all the way into 2002!

Buick’s Twin Wasp engines are STILL out there in the world 70 years later, hauling freight in the US, Central America, South America, Alaska, Africa, Asia, and anywhere  that the old DC-3 is still operating. Who wold have thought that a product built and delivered for wartime would have such a long and successful peacetime career?

Buick’s Apple CarPlay

smoothgroover22, Flickr Creative Commons
smoothgroover22, Flickr Creative Commons

Buick has just announced at the C3 Connected Car Conference in New York that in 2016 all models of the Buick Regal and Lacrosse will be offered with Apple CarPlay, which will integrate smartphone technology through Buick’s IntelliLink System. This will allows hands-free voice communication, text communication, navigation, as well as entertainment options to be displayed on the eight inch IntelliLink panel.

“Buick understands the importance of connectivity integration in everyday life and this new connection technology provides drivers with a smart and simple way to have all the conveniences of their mobile devices safely at their fingertips,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president of Buick. “It’s another step in building and implementing technology that consistently puts our customers first.”

Apple CarPlay allows iPhone features to be displayed on the eight inch (diagonal) screen for quicker safer access during driving and can either be accessed by touchscreen or by voice vis Siri. There are also steering wheel mounted buttons to assist in interacting with this innovative technology. The goal of course maintaining connectivity in the vehicle in the safest, and most situationally aware capacity possible.

We’ve all seen the statistics for distracted driving-caused accidents, and the fact of the matter is the world is not becoming less connected. So Buick and Apple are striving to allow you to be connected, and at the same time focused on the task at hand which is arriving to your destination safely and ready to go.

From a more recreational standpoint, the interconnectivity of your iPhone with Buick’s ApplePlay technology will allow you to have hands free navigation service where ever you may wish to drive. Won’t it be nice to be able to drive through Yellowstone or Yosemite without worrying about getting lost and wasting precious vacation time worrying about getting to your destination?

Buick and ApplePlay at your service.

GMC Military Appreciation Month

David Gou, Flickr Creative Commons

Last month, GMC instituted their Military Appreciation Month and now that it’s June they’ve extended the special pricing until June 30! This offer is extended to ALL 22 million active duty, reserve duty, retired, veterans and spouses from each branch including the National Guard.

As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, GMC and the US Military have had a long and successful relationship. From the days before WWI when the Army was in Mexico cashing Pancho Villa, to WWII when the GMC DUCKW was bringing troops ashore in the Pacific and the GMC Deuce and a Half was chasing Hitler all over Europe, to the trucks chasing Saddam out of Kuwait back to Iraq.

The GMC models, including the Denali trim, which are eligible for the GM Military Discount:

  • GMC Canyon midsize pickup, the newest member of the GMC family and winner of AutoWeek’s 2015 “Best of the Best” Truck award and Ward’s 10 Best Interiors
  • GMC Sierra 1500 – the most powerful light duty pickup on the market – and Sierra HD full-size pickups, all new for the 2014 model year
  • GMC Terrain small SUV and GMC Acadia large crossover
  • Yukon and Yukon XL full-size SUVs, all new for the 2015 model year
  • GMC Savana passenger vans

And this deal extends to 2 vehicles purchased under this program. If you’re buying more than two vehicles this year, the special savings will only extend to two vehicles per veteran.

You’ll need to supply current military ID, or if you are former military, a copy of your DD 214. And to prevent folks from flipping these cars, you’ll have to agree to have possession of the vehicles purchased under this program for a minimum of 6 months. Unfortunately not every dealer is a participant, so if you can’t get a dealer to work with you within this program, you are more than welcome to find any participating dealer!


GMC’s V-12 Engine Hauled Nukes!

Greg Goebel, Flickr Creative Commons

Did you know that GMC built a V-12 engine? They sure did, and despite the name “Twin Six” it was NOT two V-6’s bolted together. It was actually one long case, with FOUR V-6 heads mounted to it! Now why on God’s Green Earth would GMC build such a monstrous engine you ask? To mount in the tractor trucks used to haul Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. For real!!

In 1963 GMC designed special purpose tractors to haul the Boeing Transporter/Erector semitrailers used to haul the Minuteman I missiles. The trailers were 65 feet long, 10 feet wide, 13 feet high, had over 8,000 cubic feet of space, weighed almost 25,000 pounds when EMPTY, and they cost a whopping $700,000 1963 US Dollars each! The GMC tractor provided all the power to not only move this massive trailer, but also to run the climate control and air conditioning both during road journeys and while stored.

Of course those days of mutually assured destruction have faded somewhat, and the nuclear weapon proliferation hopefully has subsided…but those Twin Six V-12’s are popping up in rat rods and custom built speedsters the world over! An outfit in Australia for example has built a fiberglass Roadster with one of these humongous beasts up front. The engine is so long that the frame had to be cut and lengthened to be able to get the V-12 mounted. According to the hot rod shop, the Twin Six as mounted to their Roadster has an RPM redline of 2400 so the horsepower output is fairly anemic for the weight and only comes in at 275 hp. But, the that low RPM engine wasn’t made for whining screaming 14,000 RPMs like those Kawasakis and Hondas, no sir, this husky sucker was made to PULL. And brother, pull it does. Because at only 1600 RPM, this baby puts out over 630 ft/lbs of torque. So if you ever need a Roadster looking hot rod to pull your house over to the next block, well baby we have the engine for you!

Don’t Mess With Low Water Crossings!

Gavin Tapp, Flickr Creative Commons

And the hits just keep on coming! We’ve had eight years of real good old fashioned Dust Bowl era drought, and now here we are feeling like we’re getting all our rainfall back in just a couple months. A friend of mine texted me this morning and said, “My pool is about to crest so we got 4″ overnight” (Do you even KNOW how hard it was not to offer up the obvious “that’s what she said” response?)

But on a serious note here folks, it’s been heavy rains all spring long, with the worst coming in this last month and a half. First responders are over-taxed with their regular work servicing car accidents and the usual problems associated with bad weather without having to add water rescues, or even worse, recoveries to their pile. You’ve seen the signs, billboards, and TV spots: “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” and “Arrive Alive”.

There’s a reason they have to tell you that bit of obvious information. It wasn’t so obvious to quite a few people before you. Moving water is a powerful force, that’s how hydroelectric dams work. Heck it’s how flour mills worked back in your great-great’s days. If flowing water can turn massive stone wheels to grind your great-great’s corn, or turn massive electric generators to create power…why would you think it couldn’t shove your car or truck around just a little bit?

So to beat this bit of obvious into your head a little bit, if there is flowing water over the road, find another way to your destination or just wait it out. There is nothing so important on the other side of the road.

Yeah, but…

But nothing. Even if your kids are in school on the other side of that low water crossing, the school KNOWS it’s raining and will plan accordingly. In these days of cel phones, there is almost nothing you cannot organize while you wait for the waters to recede. Don’t be selfish and put yourself, your property, or a first responder at risk by being in a hurry!

2016 GMC Terrain

mike krzeszak, Flickr Creative Commons

Well y’all, it’s that time of year when next year’s models begin to make their appearance in media so everybody can oooo and ahhhh over the new features, the new front ends, the new taillights, the new options, the upgrades, etc etc etc. Well the 2016 GMC Terrain is pretty exciting. Not only does the front end get an upgrade to a more updated contemporary look, but the Side Blind Zone Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are being offered for the SLE and SLT models this year. Other alerts include Rear Park Assist, Lane Departure Warning, and a Forward Collision Alert.

The Terrain is a compact SUV that seats five comfortably. Most models come with all-wheel drive, and a whopping 32 mpg on the highway! If you need to do some occasional towing, a V6 engine is available and a tow weight of 3500lbs is advertised.

Here is a more or less complete list of updates for the 2016 Terrain:

  • New front and rear fascias with C-shaped lower chrome trim that accentuates the Terrain’s wide stance
  • New, chrome-accented grille designs for SLE, SLT and Denali – including specific tri-segment grille texture on Denali
  • New power dome hood design
  • New LED daytime running lamps on uplevel models
  • New 18-inch aluminum wheel design offered on non-Denali models
  • New 19-inch aluminum wheel design offered on Denali
  • Revised instrument panel “center stack” with new storage shelf and updated control graphics
  • Revised model lineup: SL, SLE (SLE-1 and SLE-2), SLT and Denali
  • Premium cloth seat fabric now standard on SL and SLE models
  • New Saddle Up leather interior available on SLT
  • New Light Titanium/Jet Black interior combination offered on Denali
  • Front passenger eight-way power-adjustable seat offered on SLT (previously available only on Denali)
  • New, chrome-trimmed transmission shifter
  • Available Side Blind Zone Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert safety features on SLE and SLT (previous available only on Denali).
  • New White Frost Tricoat and Crimson Red Tintcoat premium exterior colors.


Last Of The V8 Interceptors

Tamsin Slater, Flickr Creative Commons

The Pursuit Special. The V8 Interceptor. One of the most recognizably classic movie cars of all time, one that made an appearance in three movies across 36 years: Mad Max, The Road Warrior, and Fury Road. The car is a product of dystopian times, that goes on to become a product of post-apocalyptic times. Mel Gibson’s character Max Rockatansky is initially given the car as an inducement to remain with the Main Force Police, and ultimately the car is destroyed in Road Warrior only to be resurrected in Fury Road to be wrecked restored and demolished again. Other than Max Himself, the Pursuit Special is the only character to be in three movies of the series.

The Pursuit Special began life as a 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT, which were only produced by Ford Australia from 1973-1976. It featured a 351 cu in V8, and was the last GT built by Ford Australia until 1992. For the movie the Falcon was modified with 8 individual exhaust stacks mounted behind the lower rear edge of the door, a dummy supercharger which protruded through the hood, and for Road Warriors…two large fuel tanks were installed in place of the trunk. Of course if you remember the movies, the “supercharger” was activated by the red switch Max flips at exactly the right moment, as well as the car being rigged with a series of booby traps to prevent the fuel being stolen.

After production wrapped on the original Mad Max in 1979, the car was sold off to help pay bills incurred from the film’s production. It was reacquired for Road Warriors and then sold off again. It was in the Cars of the Stars Museum in England for many years before being purchased in 2011 by the Dezer Collection Car Museum in Miami, FL. So, if you’d like to see if the dust is still covering the Interceptor, if a dingo is sitting in the passenger seat, and wether or not the booby traps are still installed, then a trip to Florida is a must!

Wagon Queen Family Truckster

That Hartford Guy, Flickr Creative Commons

Well folks it’s summertime here in Texas, the April Showers which seem to have started in February and lingered until June seem to have finally wandered off somewhere, school is out, and families are hitting the road. So I thought today we could discuss that 1983 classic educational film on “How Not To Vacation”…National Lampoon’s Vacation.

The poor Griswolds. How they suffer. From being saddled with unexpected family, to Wally World being closed for repairs when they finally arrive, to dragging that poor lil pooch a couple miles, the Griswolds stumble their way through a typical swing-and-a-miss style family vacation that more than likely every single one of us has been on at some point in our lives. Like Spinal Tap was to professional musicians, so is Vacation to the art of family travel.

BUT, the star of Vacation is of course the fictional, awful, hideous, piece-of-crap Wagon Queen Family Truckster. “You think you hate it now? Wait til you drive it.” snarky, greasy, crooked-as-a-left-handed-football-bat salesman Eugene Levy mutters under his breath. You see, the day before the family is supposed to leave for California, Clark Griswold arrives at the car lot to pick up his Antarctic Blue Super Sports Wagon with the CB and the optional Rally Package, but is tricked and extorted into driving off in the Metallic Pea Wagon Queen Family Truckster…which of course is the largest lemon vehicle in the history of lemons. And vehicles.

The Wagon Queen Family Truckster started out life as a Ford LTD Country Squire that was modified to be a sarcastic, cynical comment on all those huge, hideous, “tricked out with options” lemons being foisted on the American public in the late 70’s. This thing has EIGHT headlights, and is absolutely covered in fake wood paneling. The grill hardly even exists, and has two tiny lil slits in it, so you know the engine runs nice and warm…all the way across the American Southwest. In the summertime. Needless to say, failures ensue!

1977 Pontiac Trans Am

Nan Palmero, Flickr Creative Commons

Everybody remember the movie Smokey and the Bandit? Burt Reynolds’ tour de force featuring Sally Field, Jerry Reed, and of course The Great One Himself…Mr Jackie Gleason. Well, the main star of that movie was the black and gold 1977 Pontiac Trans Am that Burt Reynolds used to terrorize a host of Mid-South law enforcement allegedly from Texarkana all the way to the Southern Classic in Georgia. Believe it or not, the film was so successful it actually caused Trans Am sales to double in the two years after the movie was released!

Well, the 1977 Trans Am is still one of the most famous movie cars of all time, right up there with James Bond’s Aston Martin,  Marty McFly’s DeLorean, and Mad Max’s V8 Interceptor. All you need is one glance at a black and gold Trans Am and you’re automatically looking around for an oversized ego in tight pants sporting a thick black mustache and an obnoxiously large cowboy hat.

According to some sources, the cars used in the original Smokey and the Bandit were actually 1976 models sporting 1977 front ends and decals. Four cars were used during filming and all four cars were damaged fairly severely as you could imagine. As a matter of fact, the car used in the jump over the bridge was absolutely totaled. It was even equipped with a boost rocket similar to the one Evel Knievel strapped on in his failed attempt to jump Snake River Canyon. The odd thing about that stunt is that the movie was sooo low budget, the DIRECTOR of the movie drove the car for that stunt!

A few years ago, Ol Burt fell onto hard times (allegedly) and began auctioning off his collection of memorabilia he’s kept over the course of his career. In that auction was his personal 1977 Trans Am that he’d used during the promo tours for Smokey and The Bandit. It sold for $170,000.

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