901 Problems: Porsche Finds, Restores An O.G. 911

Welcome to Pod Rods, where we look at what's happening in the car world locally and afar.

This week, we check out some of the more interesting stuff shown this week at the New York Auto Show, say goodbye to the man who designed a sports car icon, and find out how much some racers raised in the rain for Spina Bifida of Jacksonville.

Check out more car news at our news partner's new First Coast Gears.

Now here's some automotive news: 

• Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, honorary president of Porsche's Supervisory Board, died Thursday in Salzburg at age 76.  Matthias Müller, President and CEO, paid tribute to his services Thursday afternoon, saying the creator of the Porsche 911 "established a design culture in our company that has shaped our sports cars to this very day. His philosophy of good design is a legacy to us that we will honor for all time."

Ferdinand Alexander Porsche was born in Stuttgart on Dec. 11, 1935, the oldest son of Dorothea and Ferry Porsche. He spent much of his time in the engineering offices and development workshops of his grandfather Ferdinand Porsche, ultimately enrolling in the Ulm School of Design. In 1958, he joined the engineering office and sculpted the first model of the 911, the successor to the 356 model line, out of plastic. In 1962 he took over as head of the Porsche design studio, and introduced the Porsche 901 (or 911). His other designs included the Type 804 Formula One racing car and the Porsche 904 Carrera GTS. In 1972 he founded the "Porsche Design Studio," and in later years designed watches, eyeglasses and pens under the "Porsche Design" brand. F.A. Porsche will be buried in the family grave at Schüttgut.

 • Despite some heavy rain, the 10th annual Jacksonville Grand Prix ran for almost all of its planned six hours last Saturday and raised an estimated $12,000 for Spina Bifida of Jacksonville, bringing the total to more than $100,000 since it began.

Spina bifida is a congenital condition that causes the spine to close improperly during early pregnancy. Jacksonville businessman Rick Mansfield came up with the idea for a go-cart fundraiser for the agency because friend Bill Warner's granddaughter Lindsey has the condition.

Teams paid $1,850 each to race, while business-sponsored laps and a charity auction added to the funds raised by the 22 teams signed up for the go-cart endurance race at the 103rd Street Sports Complex at 10244 103rd St. Top teams included Corey's Racing, the Slim Fasts, ProCup Karting.com and SkidMark Racing, with teams from Duval Racing, Nemours and Tom Bush Automotive in the top 20.

 • Toyota revealed the all-new 2013 Avalon premium mid-size sedan at the 2012 New York International Auto Show, and it is set to arrive at dealerships late this year. The result of a North American-focused design and engineering effort, the design was conceived by a team at the Calty Design Research facilities in Southern California and Michigan, and the car will be assembled at Toyota's facility in Georgetown, Ky.

The new body structure gains improvements in torsional rigidity thanks to additional and strategically placed welds, improved body bracing, and high-strength steel in key areas in order to provide a stiffer chassis and optimize suspension performance. The new Avalon suspension relies on MacPherson struts with advanced valving and rebound springs to balance handling and agility with ride comfort. There are three drive modes - Normal, Eco, and Sport - available through driver-selectable switches. New 17-inch and 18-inch alloy wheel and tire combinations fill the wheel well to enhance the vehicle's dynamic exterior expression.

The new Avalon gets 10 airbags and an optional Pre-collision system designed to "sense" an impending frontal collision and mitigate damage.

• Garmin will provide a fully integrated, factory-installed infotainment system for most American 2013 model year Suzuki vehicles. Garmin has offered its portable unit on Suzukis and more lately Fiat 500s, but this is the first time it will be offered in-dash with a 6.1-inch touchscreen display, AM/FM/CD radio, multi-media playback, backup camera support, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, Pandora radio and navigation. The system also uses voice control, and is on display at the Suzuki booth at this week's New York International Auto Show. 

• Steve Saleen says that the Saleen brand has been returned to him after several years of litigation that saw him lose control of the exotic car maker, aftermarket car modifier and performance parts company he started in 1984. Saleen was a racer and race car maker who also made limited edition versions of sports cars like Ford Mustangs, as well as the radical mid-engine Saleen S7 exotic in both street and successful racing models. But he resigned from his company in 2007 and started SMS (Steve Mark Saleen) Supercars, while the company he once led focused on aftermarket performance items. By returning to his former company, Saleen will now offer his current SMS Supercars products under the family name and new models of the 2013 Mustang, 2012 Challenger, and 2012 Camaro.

• Our videos of the week are two versions of the dream-come-true for folks who have always wanted a flying car.

One version, shown at the New York auto show, is the Terrafugia Transition Street-Legal Airplane. A production prototype completed its successful first flight at Plattsburgh International Airport in New York on March 23. The two seat personal aircraft can drive on roads and highways, park in a single car garage, and fly with unleaded automotive fuel. The testing program will continue in preparation for first delivery, expected within the next year, according to the news release.

The first flight reached an altitude of 1,400-feet and lasted eight minutes. Terrafugia Chief Test Pilot Phil Meteer said it's a remarkable vehicle on the road and in the air.

"When I drove it into the shop, literally from the road through the garage door, I was amazed that I had just flown it at Plattsburgh a few days before," he said in the news release. "A long-overdue mode of transportation and fun is just around the corner. I can't wait for the upcoming flight tests and the chance to 'wring it out', demonstrating how safe and enjoyable the Transition is to fly."

The Autoblog/AOL video shows how the car plane's wings unfold. Terrafugia is based in Woburn, Mass.

The second version of flying and driving is the PA-V One, a Dutch-made three-wheeler that uses a unique system to lean the vehicle into a turn on the ground, while another system unfolds the rear-mounted propeller as the upper blades lock in place to make it an autogyro. Its maker claims a ground speed of 112 miles per hour at 28 miles per gallon, and 112-mph in the air, with a range of 220-315 miles. Our video shows its maiden flight as well as some ground action. Production could begin in 2014. 

• Chrysler showed off its much-anticipated 2013 SRT Viper at the New York Auto Show this week after weeks of tease photos, even a spy shot of a Hot Wheels version. But along with the hot red street version comes the SRT Viper GTS-R race car as the Chrysler Group announces that a factory-backed team returns to the American Le Mans Series. The street Viper gets an aluminum 8.4-liter V-10 with an estimated 640 hp and 600 lb.-ft. of torque. Chassis enhancements bring a 50 percent improvement in torsional stiffness, while the car gets electronic multistage stability control, traction control and new 4-channel anti-lock brake system.

• Comics and graphic novel fans can now drive a piece of the action in this summer's Marvel Comics film, "The Avengers," as Acura announces it is now the official vehicle of S.H.I.E.L.D,  the international peacekeeping agency of the Marvel Universe.

S.H.I.E.L.D. agents drive various Acura vehicles in the new film, including the MDX, ZDX and TL models, while the redesigned 2013 RDX just introduced in New York made a cameo appearance. In addition, an Acura convertible sports car was created specifically for the film. A militarized S.H.I.E.L.D.-Edition MDX was on display with a S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Product Specialist in New York. And at the Wednesday world premiere of "The Avengers at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, a surprise special stunt is planned to make an impactful, red-carpet entrance. A fleet of Acura vehicles will also be used as talent transportation during the premiere.

For a gander at more info on the cars, check out http://www.SHIELDops.com. 

• You might have seen it at the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance a month ago, resplendent in its new, and original, gray paint job. But before this former Jacksonville occupant goes to the home it originally occupied - the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House museum in Michigan -  Edsel Ford's 1934 Model 40 Special Speedster got a prime place for display at the New York auto show. Autoblog commented on the sleek two-seater, originally built for Edsel by the man he hired to do Ford's design work, the late E.T. "Bob" Gregorie. Using some parts from a 1934 Ford, with aluminum bodywork crafted by former Ford Tri-Motor aircraft craftsmen, Gregorie designed a low-slung sports car that echoed the Indy racers of the day. The car received its current nose after overheating problems, then was sold off after Edsel's death in 1943.

Gregorie ultimately retired to St. Augustine, while the car got hot-rodded in California before ending up in Florida. A Deland man had it for years, mostly parked in his garage until Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance founder and chairman Bill Warner found it in the mid-1990s and took it to Gregorie's home the next day, where he saw it for the first time since the 1930's and said "The old girl still looks good." When Warner restored the car with a new flathead V-8, he gave Gregorie a ride and often showed the car at Amelia. Warner sold the car a few years ago to a collector for $1.76 million. When he died, the Ford House museum bought the car and restored it to as-new, finding its original color after sanding down newer coats. The car is on tour now, but . When the collector died, the Speedster was given to the who oversaw a complete restoration of the car. It now travels the auto show circuit, but museum CEO Kathleen Mullins said they are planning a gala homecoming for the car in 2013, the first time since about 1944 that it's been on the estate.

• Some car companies enjoyed an April Fools joke last weekend, and MINI was one of them when it breathlessly announced its MINI Cooper Yachtsman. Claiming this would bring MINI ownership "to people who regard the 70 percent of the earth's surface covered by water as their home," the so-called "corner-carving crustacean" promises go-kart-like handling and a "sensational combination of amphibious and landphibious performance both on and off the water," according to the joke press release.

The announcement said the Yachtsman gets a shark-resistant undercoating, and can do up to 61 knots, "while promising an equally rewarding driving (but not diving…) experience  on-road or off-land." It also claimed the car was originally endorsed by the British Royal Navy, and would be offered with an extendable rooftop antenna with a 20-ft white sail (in case of emergency). Alas, despite a marine chronometer for celestial navigation, it was all a joke. Still, wouldn't we all want its standard spring-loaded herring chucker? 

• Finally, when you say "Yo, taxi!" in the Big Apple soon, don't expect a Ford Crown Vic to respond. As part of NewYork City's "Taxi of Tomorrow" program, a Nissan NV200 taxi might roll up, or so could a rather - ahem - interesting design from the Vehicle Production Group, simply called the MV-1. Purpose-built for taxi duty and also approved by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, the 2013 model was unveiled at the New York auto show. The good news - its boxy shape is built around a 56-inch by 36-inch door for wheelchair access, and can be built with manual or power ramps, according to Autoblog.

It's springtime, and the car show calendar is heating up. Here's some of what's coming:

Florida shows:

• Fruit Cove Baptist Church car show and festival - 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 14, at Fruit Cove Baptist Church, 501 Florida 13 in Fruit Cove. Free food, door prizes, children's activities and other activities, with free admission for spectators and $25 registration fee for all cars. Information - Mark Simmons at (904) 237-1770.

• Clay County P.A.L. (Police Activities League) Spring Craft Festival and Car/Motorcycle Show - 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 14, Garber Automall at 3340 U.S. 17 in Green Cove Springs. The event is $3 per person, with 60 craft and food vendors. Show car registration is $20 in advance, $25 day of show. All proceeds benefit the Clay County P.A.L.

For more information or to pre-register, go to WWW.garbershow.com.

• Vet Fest '12 - Saturday and Sunday, Rose's Auction House, 9057 U.S. 301 in Hampton, south of Starke. Car show, live bands and wrestling, proceeds to help the Hampton Veteran's Memorial Fund.

• The Anchor third annual Motor Show and Swap Meet - 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 14, Anchor Church of Callahan, 541798 U.S. 1 S. No entry or vendor fees.

• Cruisin' for a Cure Car Show - 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 14, Keystone Heights High School, 900 Orchid St. Free for spectators and $15 per show car, proceeds benefit the Relay for Life, which begins at noon.

 Florida cruise-ins:

• Informal cruise-in - 7 to 9 a.m. every Saturday at the Krispy Kreme doughnut shop at 11117 San Jose Blvd. in Mandarin.

• First Coast Car Council - 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Kmart, 380 Blanding Blvd. at  Kingsley Avenue in Orange Park. The Car Council will host a "Fill the Truck" event at this same cruise-in on Saturday, May 5, to gather needed supplies for Jacksonville's Ronald McDonald House.

• Sunshine State Chevelles - 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday at Krystal's, 8015 Merrill Road. Special displays from Wells Performance/Horsepower Sales.

• Jacksonville Truck Nights - 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. the first Thursday of each month at Round Boys Grill, 11629-8 San Jose Blvd., and 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at Tilted Kilt Tinseltown, 9720 Deer Lake Court. 

 Georgia cruise-ins:

• Southeast Georgia Car and Truck Club cruise-ins - 6 p.m. the second Saturday of each month at Sonic's, 395 Charlie Smith Senior Highway, St. Marys; and 6 p.m. on the fourth Saturday of each month at the Millhouse Steakhouse, 1215 East King Ave. in Kingsland, next to Interstate 95.

• Bike Enthusiasts show - 7 p.m. the first and third Thursdays, Cavagnaro's restaurant at 1810 South GA Parkway W. in Waycross.

• Zaxby's Car Show - 6 to 9 p.m. the third Saturday of every month, Zaxby's at 2316 Memorial Drive in Waycross.

Please send information on cruise-ins and automotive and motorcycle events to dan.scanlan@jacksonville.com or Dan Scanlan, Florida Times-Union, 1 Riverside Ave., Jacksonville, Fla. 32202

Source : http://www.jacksonville.com/article/20120406/NEWS/801255235

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