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Hemmings Motor News Blog

Hemmings Motor News has been around since 1954. We're proud of our heritage, but we're also more than the Hemmings full of classifieds that your father subscribed to. Aside from new editorial content every month in Hemmings, we have three monthly magazines: Hemmings Muscle Machines, Hemmings Classic Car and Hemmings Sports and Exotic Car.

While our editors traverse the country to find the best content for those magazines, we find other oddities related to the old-car hobby that we really had no place for - until now. With this blog, we're giving you a behind-the-scenes look at what we see and what we do during the course of putting out some of the finest automotive magazines you'll ever read.

End of Viper Production Signals Closure of FCA’s Conner Avenue Assembly Plant

Posted July 19, 2017 9:00 AM by dstrohl

Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s Conner Avenue Assembly Plant is no stranger to hardship, having witnessed the decline of the spark plug business, along with the rise, fall, rebirth and ultimate death of the Dodge Viper. Changes to federal safety standards and declining demand will end Viper production once and for all next month, and with it, the lifeline granted the Conner Avenue plant, which Automotive News reports will close its doors on August 31.

The Conner Avenue plant isn’t even located on Conner Avenue; instead, it sits at 20000 Conner Street, something even the automaker’s own signage gets wrong. Built by Champion Spark Plug in 1966, the facility occupies 27 acres, while the building itself measures 392,000 square feet. By automobile assembly plant standards, that’s tiny, but the Conner Avenue plant was never tasked with producing high-volume vehicles.

The facility produced spark plugs for over 20 years before being retooled by Chrysler in 1992 to build Dodge's premier sports car. But as of next month, both the iconic Viper and the Conner Avenue plant will be discontinued.

1 comments; last comment on 07/21/2017
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Ford Steps Up to Sponsor Woodward Dream Cruise for 2017

Posted July 18, 2017 9:00 AM by dstrohl

Last month, six-year Woodward Dream Cruise sponsor Chevrolet ended its relationship with the annual rolling celebration of the American muscle car, temporarily leaving the event without a corporate backer. Now, longtime drag strip rival Ford has agreed to sponsor this year’s Dream Cruise, taking place on August 19, signing a contract that gives the automaker potential sponsorship rights for future years as well.

In the words of Mark LaNeve, Ford’s vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service,

"Dream Cruise is all about the sheer joy and freedom of the automobile, and Ford has always celebrated car culture. From Fiesta to GT, we’re obsessed with making driving fun and we’re committed to celebrating that passion with enthusiasts of all ages in the birthplace of motoring."

Big ups to Ford, for promising to bring at least one more year of rolling muscle cars throughout the Michigan heartland.

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Crossing the Uncrossable: A Tally of Those Who’ve Driven the Darien Gap

Posted July 17, 2017 12:00 PM by dstrohl

Driving around the world ain’t easy. Visas, funding, language barriers, supply management, and keeping the vehicle running all require resourcefulness and resilience. But even the hardiest of round-the-world drivers tend to stay away from the Darien Gap, leaving just a handful of expeditions that have driven from Central America to South America.

Take your pick of adventurers who’ve set out to drive every hemisphere and check their route. Some, like the Paris-to-New-York racers, Aloha Wanderwell, Elspeth Beard, the honeymooners in the 1962 Toyopet RK45 and Ben Carlin, didn’t even attempt South America. Others, including the Richardson Pan-American Highway Expedition of 1940-1941, Heidi Hetzer, Dirk and Trudy Retger, the Bodeswells, the Van Ordens, Frank and Helen Schreider, Clarenore Stinnes, and the Zapp family (and probably countless others) ferried their way around the Gap.

The most treacherous 'driveable' terrain in the world has permitted just 12 journeys to day.

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DNF’d: The Story Behind How Some of the First Shelby Cobras Got Built

Posted July 14, 2017 9:00 AM by dstrohl
Pathfinder Tags: classic auto history shelby

The story of Carroll Shelby’s success in building and racing Cobras is a legend. Hard work and a few lucky breaks along the way had helped him achieve his goal. Most stories written about Shelby were sourced from information almost entirely, and selectively, provided by Shelby himself, and a lot of his fame is also attributed to the hard working folks at Ford’s Public Relations Department. He certainly did not do it alone. Many people helped Shelby with his climb to success, yet few are remembered or even given their fair share of credit for creating the Cobra.

Ed Hugus was one of those people and perhaps the most deserving. He was also the single most important person responsible for the Cobra having ever been produced. Without him, Shelby’s dream may never have happened. Hugus’ story is based on interviews with the author during the last two years of his life from 2004 through 2006. He provided his own account of the Cobra’s creation, with supporting documents, personal mementos and never before published photographs from his personal collection.

Hugus's critical role in Shelby's innovation finally comes to light...

1 comments; last comment on 07/14/2017
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Ethanol-Free Gas Usage Drops in 2016, Still Exceeds EPA’s Expectations

Posted July 13, 2017 9:00 AM by dstrohl
Pathfinder Tags: EPA ethanol gasoline legislation

Expecting demand for ethanol-free gasoline to dwindle last year, officers with the Environmental Protection Agency instead found that usage came in at more than double their estimates, as reported in the agency’s proposal to cut total ethanol volumes in fuel for the first time.

“For the 2016 and 2017 standards, we based the total renewable fuel volume requirement in part on the expectation that the RFS program would result in all but a tiny portion – estimated at 200 million gallons – of gasoline to contain at least 10 percent ethanol,” according to the proposal. “We now estimate that the volume of E0 used in 2016 was about 500 million gallons.”

In 2015 retailers sold an estimated 700 million gallons of ethanol-free gasoline.

3 comments; last comment on 07/14/2017
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