Clock stolen from Detroit train depot returned to Ford

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In purchasing Michigan Central Station after three decades of abandonment and vandalism, Ford inherits a former train depot that is missing many of its once-grand architectural flourishes. But thanks to a charitable thief, it’s just re-acquired a stolen antique clock that hung for decades above an entryway.

The Detroit Free Press reports that The Henry Ford museum in neighboring Dearborn got a call late last week saying that the depot clock wanted to “go home,” and immediately notified contacts at Ford Land and The Ford Archives. Ford officials then contacted the donor, who told them the clock had been missing for more than 20 years “and is ready to go home.” He told them to send a truck and two men to load it, and shared its location, saying he left the clock leaning against a burned-out building about 2 miles from the train station.

Ford maintenance workers offered to stop and grab it in their truck on their way home from work, the Freepreports. They found it carefully wrapped in moving blankets and tape in an overgrown lot. Ford later confirmed the clock’s authenticity through photos and chemistry examination.

The clock’s future is uncertain; it could be returned to the wall and used as a working clock, or displayed as an building artifact as part of a display about the building’s history.

The story illustrates the profound emotional pull of the building, which first opened in 1913, welcomed waves of overseas immigrants to then-booming Detroit, sent soldiers to two world wars and survived the Great Depression. The presumed thief who returned the clock later texted Ford officials, saying “Thank you so much. I loved that clock and I loved that station.”

Ford Chairman Bill Ford Jr. says the automaker plans to renovate the soaring lobby area and the 18-story tower in an environmentally friendly way, and he’s gone to great pains to say Ford wants to be seen as a good neighbor in the rapidly gentrifying Corktown neighborhood. Dave Dubensky, chairman and CEO of Ford Land, tells the Freepthe company is encouraging others who might have pieces of the train station’s history who want to return them to the company to contact Ford, no questions asked.

[Source: Autoblog]

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Junkyard Gem: 1979 Ford Ranchero 500

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For the 1957 model year, Ford made a pickup truck based in its Custom Sedan full-size car, called it the Ranchero, and sales success followed. For 1960, the Ranchero went to the much smaller Falcon platform, with each successive generation of Ranchero growing a bit as the years passed. For 1977, Ford put the Ranchero on the same platform as the massive Thunderbird, with the front bodywork from the LTD II. The result was a comfy-riding personal luxury coupe with a truck bed, and sales were brisk. Here’s a used-up ’79 in a Northern California self-service wrecking yard.

[Source: Autoblog]

Watch a motorist reverse out of a traffic jam for more than a mile

We’ll say one thing for this guy: he sure knows how to drive in reverse.

The Ohio Department of Transportation posted a video compiled from surveillance footage of the feat, which happened in Canal Winchester, in suburban Columbus. It shows the driver of a white SUV backing out of a traffic jam on a highway, going the wrong way up an entrance ramp, turning onto a four-lane divided road, passing through two intersections and eventually turning into a Kroger grocery store parking lot — all while driving in reverse. Thankfully, the whole bizarre trip-in-reverse resulted in no known collisions despite lasting for more than a mile.

ODOT officials believe the vehicle was suffering from transmission problems.

“Pro tip,” ODOT says in its YouTube posting, “If your vehicle isn’t running properly, pull safely to the side of the road and call for assistance. Thankfully, no one was injured in this incident.”

Cheers to ODOT for its sense of humor and the “Benny Hill” theme soundtrack.

[Source: Autoblog]

Watch garbage truck absolutely trash a Brooklyn block

Over the weekend, a block in Brooklyn got a rude awakening when an out-of-control garbage truck plowed down the street destroying at least nine cars, three trees and a porch, according to a CBS report. It happened at about 5:30 Saturday morning.

After coming to a stop on 60th Street between 18th and 19th Avenue, the apparent driver, Anthony Castaldo, exited the Viking Sanitation truck (we don’t know whether he screamed “Valhalla!” as he did so), and took off on foot with police chasing him. The cops subdued the driver with a taser and arrested him. He faces multiple charges including driving while intoxicated and resisting arrest.

Amazingly, nobody was hurt, so feel free to gawk at the aftermath in awe and wonder. We gotta say, though, we feel pretty horrible for the people on that block who had their cars and other property obliterated and day completely ruined. “I was shocked,” said witness Shane Durado. “It’s the least thing you expect on a Saturday morning when you’re looking forward to going somewhere with your fiancée and then you’ve gotta deal with this.”

At least now we know who would win in a fight between a garbage truck and a tree.

In a statement to CBS, Viking Sanitation said, “It appears that this driver failed to adhere to our standards, and he was immediately suspended as part of the ongoing investigation of this serious incident.” We don’t know whether Castaldo was on the clock at the time of the rampage.

Source: Autoblog

Feds firm up plans to freeze fuel-economy standards, strip California mandate

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Automakers would no longer have to boost fuel economy for their U.S. fleets after 2020, and California would not be able to set stricter standards than the federal government under a proposal submitted to the White House by the Transportation Department, two sources said on Thursday.

Sources confirmed details of a document posted on a government website confirming the department submitted the proposal to the Office of Management and Budget for review. Sources briefed on the matter said the proposal could be unveiled as early as next week.

The rules, negotiated with automakers by former President Barack Obama’s administration in 2011, aimed to double average fleet-wide fuel efficiency to about 50 miles per gallon by 2025 and included significant annual increases in automaker requirements. Automakers now want changes, citing lower gasoline prices and a shift in consumer preferences to larger vehicles.

The sources said the proposed rule, to be made available for public comment, will include a series of alternatives but the preferred alternative will be to freeze requirements at 2020 levels through 2026.

Advocates of stricter standards, designed to limit emissions of greenhouse gases, criticized the Transportation Department proposal. U.S. Senator Tom Carper said a draft shows the administration’s preferred alternative would result in Americans using 206 billion more gallons of gasoline through 2050 versus the current standards.

The lengthy proposal will assert that a 1975 federal law preempts states from imposing emissions rules.
Environmental Protection Agency spokesman Jahan Wilcox said the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration jointly developed the rule and sent it to OMB. He declined further comment ahead of the review.

The final proposal could be changed during the inter-agency review process.

This month, California and 16 other states backing tougher rules filed suit to challenge the Trump administration’s April decision to announce plans to revise the rules.

Automakers have previously told the Trump administration that they support continued increases in mileage standards through 2025.

Automakers at a May 11 meeting with President Donald Trump urged him to try to reach agreement with California. The following week, California Air Resources Board chief Mary Nichols met with administration officials.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, said this week regulators “owe it to the American people to work with California and save the fuel economy standards.”

After the Trump meeting, General Motors chief executive Mary Barra held a new round of meetings this month with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

Honeywell International Chief Executive Officer Darius Adamczyk also met earlier this month with Chao, the company confirmed. He discussed “next generation technologies, specifically mobile air conditioning refrigerants, that were innovated and are manufactured in the U.S. to help American automakers meet auto emission standards.”

A person briefed on the NHTSA proposal said it will address impacts of fuel efficiency increases on the economy, auto industry, environment and safety and is expected to assert that the rollback will have significant economic benefits.

Reporting by David Shepardson.

U.S. May auto sales rise slightly despite higher fuel prices

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May sales of new vehicles in the United States rose an estimated 2 percent as low unemployment and strong consumer confidence helped mitigate the impact of rising interest rates and fuel prices, Ford Motor Co executives said on Friday.

Robust Memorial Day weekend sales also bolstered retail auto deliveries, carmakers said.
“The U.S. economy remains on a favorable trajectory,” said Ford Motor Co chief economist Emily Kolinski Morris during a media briefing call on Friday.

Ford estimated full-year industry sales could fall slightly to the high 16 million to low 17 million range, as automakers trim low-margin sales to fleet customers and deal with an increase in used cars coming off lease to compete with new vehicles.

Last year, U.S. auto sales dropped 2 percent after a record high of 17.55 million in 2016.
May sales results were mixed.

Fiat Chrysler said on Friday its U.S. sales in May climbed 11 percent to 214,294, on the strength of retail deliveries to individual customers.

The automaker said retail deliveries of 167,785 vehicles were the highest since July 2005. That figure topped the 163,796 vehicles delivered to retail customers by Ford in May.

Ford said retail sales were 163,796, while total sales, including those to fleet custom
ers, rose 0.7 percent to 242,824.

Ford said sales of its best-selling F-series pickup were up 11.3 percent to 84,639. Fiat Chrysler said its Jeepbrand sales jumped 29 percent to a record 97,287.

Mustang pierces the Colorado Rockies on I-70 at 150 mph

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A few days ago we told you about the driver of a Dodge Hellcat who got busted after hitting 160 mph in Indiana. Such excessive speeders sometimes get caught, sometimes get killed, and sometimes … they actually get away. In today’s take-it-to-the-track news, Colorado troopers spotted a Mustang doing 140 mph at 12:30 a.m. Friday morning on I-70 around Glenwood Springs.

At 140 mph, good luck reading a license plate, and speed and darkness made for a vague description otherwise: dark color and older model. We don’t know if that means 1960s or something older in the new generation. We do know that not every Mustang could make or safely handle that kind of speed.

The Mustang was on a stretch west of town where the speed limit drops as the highway curves along the Colorado River. But when the troopers hit their lights and sirens, the driver sped up, to 150.

“They tried to catch up. They weren’t doing it,” Colorado State Patrol spokesman Trooper Gary Cooper said. “They couldn’t get close enough.”

The troopers called off the chase, which Cooper credited with saving the Mustang driver’s life. His luck goes far beyond eluding the officers.

“It’s extremely reckless, especially with people who haven’t been trained to drive at those speeds,” Cooper said. Brakes fade, tires blow — the ways to die in that situation are myriad. “I’ve seen a deer total a car before.”