Monday, July 31, 2006

"New" Tour Days 10 & 11: Corner Brook and Gander, Newfoundland

Monday July 31, 2006
Picnic lunch at Grand Falls, NF - no, it wasn't grand and we couldn't find the falls.
Continued eastward on the TCH (Trans Canada Highway) to Bishop's Falls where we visit the Heritage Centre: "The town’s heritage can best be appreciated by visiting the new Bishop’s Falls Heritage Centre. The museum is housed in the former railway station which was constructed in 1943 and served as the headquarters for the Western Division of the railway across Newfoundland. The station served thousands of passengers during its heyday, including the troops of World War II. The heritage centre has an array of photos and memorabilia celebrating the days when the railway reigned as the sole means of transportation across the Island. As an added attraction, a train car is displayed at the centre, offering visitors a glimpse of what rail travel was like."
It's hubby's birthday tonight and we're statying at the Comfort Inn, Gander.

Sunday July 30, 2006
Got a latish start today - after watching the German Grand Prix on TV. Listening to Codroy Valley Radio Show & Jigs and Reels on OZ fm which were featuring local artists playing traditional folk music. Stopped at Tim Horton's in Stephenville for lunch. A guy in a pick-up truck says, "Your car's too small! You have to be over 15 feet to come into town". Rupert retorted, "60 mpg. Who's laughing now?" I'm glad hubby didn't reply with Rich Helm's imfamous comeback to a Hummer driver.
Glorious weather and scenery as we toured the Port au Port Peninsula.
Camped at the Kinsmen's Prince Edward Campground & RV Park just outside of Corner Brook, NF after an interesting tour of some remaining cars of the now defunct "Newfie Bullet" train. Young guy at campsite the check in says, "That's the smallest rig I've ever seen!". Enjoyed a quiet night in the shelter of pine trees.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

"New" Tour Days 8 & 9: Port Hastings, Nova Scotia

More heavy rain as we headed out to Port Hastings where we stayed last night at the EconoLodge. Stopped at the Orangedale Station museum - we had visited when on the Bras D'or Train in 2002. Sadly, there is no longer a passenger service passing through the station although the freight trains continue on their run from North Sydney to Point Tupper carrying coal and oil.
Now in North Sydney waiting to board the MV Caribou for Port Aux Basque, Newfoundland which is about a 5 hour journey.

Friday July 28, 2006

Visits to historic railway stations at Pugwash and Tatamagouche, NS - the former currently houses a public library and the local historic society; the latter is the Train Station Inn where you can stay the night on a railcar or in the station and also has restaurant and gift shop facilities. On to Stellarton, NS - home of grocery store chain Sobey's where we had an interesting tour of the Nova Scotia Museum of Industry.

Friday, July 28, 2006

"New" Tour Day 7: Sussex, NB

Drove into Saint John, NB via provincial capital Frederickton. Took smart car Trudi in for her 24 000 km service and they took us downtown by taxi. Bite of lunch at the Old Market then an excellent tour of the Loyalist House. " One of the few surviving buildings of the Great Fire of 1877, the Loyalist House serves as a proud reminder of Saint John's British Loyalist heritage. Built in 1817, the Georgian features of this National Historic Site has remained structurally unaltered."
They have done a great job of making the downtown pedestrian friendly and attractive - due largely to the recent influx of cruise ships. Next we visited Barbour's General Store - "Over 2,000 artifacts are found within the store including china, farm tools and kitchen utensils. A combination barbershop dental office is located at the back of the store just as it would have been in the early days."
We phoned the dealership and found out that the smart was ready and they sent a B Class Mercedes to pick us up. No problems with the car so we were quickly on our way.
Fascinating tour of the Carleton Martello Tower, pictured above. It commands spectacular views of the city and harbour.
Stayed the night at the All Seasons Inn in Sussex, NB - named for the Duke of Sussex Prince Augustus Frederick (1773-1843), sixth son of King George III.
Early start this morning. Stopped for breakfast at Cora's in Moncton and blogging at the beautiful, new public library.

"New" Tour Day 6: Woodstock, NB

Visited my dad, step-mom and step-sister in Long Settlement, NB where my dad's got a fabulous veggie garden - we scored some green & waxed beans, red & white potatoes and a small cabbage. They spend an extended summer there - May to October. Drove into Centreville with them and step-sister Honey for a hearty lunch at Granma's.
Quick shop at Sobey's then to Curves for a workout (felt great after too much time spent sitting in the car). Quiet, dry and so restful night.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"New" Tour Day 5: Woodstock, NB

Parked the smart car in the historic downtown of Houlton and it immediately drew attention and questions from the locals. A kind gentleman in a sporty Mazda offered to open up the Aroostook Historical and Art Museum for us if we'd like to visit. Being local history buffs we were thrilled to have a personally guided tour. Among the museum's treasures are a Confederate Battle Flag captured by a Houlton member of the 1st Maine Cavalry and a goat powered butter churn. Photographed the intriguing "Boy with the leaking boot" fountain.
Crossed the border at Bridgewater. No camping at Centreville, NB so headed back south to Woodstock where we booked in for two nights. Quick laundry and rest stop then dinner at Pizza Delight in town. Heavy thunderstorm prevented us from sleeping well in the tent. We stayed dry on the air matress but the noise was deafening.

Monday, July 24, 2006

"New" Tour Day 4: Houlton, Maine

We stayed last night in a KOA cabin in Canaan, Maine. The prospect of more rain has made us reluctant to camp in our tent. Campground manager asks Rupert, "Is that a clown car? Are you a clown?" He replies, "Yes, my costume is in the car."
Stopped for a very tasty lunch at Fully Brewed & Half Baked in Lincoln, NH. The owner came out to admire the smart and ask questions.
Went to Mount Washington Cog Railway - the world's first mountain cog railway built in 1869 by Sylvester Marsh. Would have gone for a ride if it weren't for the pouring rain. We enjoyed watching the train set off, touring their museum and having a bite of lunch.

Unfortunately the beautifully restored Gorham Historic Railway station was closed when we arrived but we made the best of the photo op.
Spending tonight at Ivey's Motor Lodge in Houlton in Aroostook County, Maine and plan to cross back into Canada at Bridgewater tomorrow.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

"New" Tour Day 3: Keene, NH

Enjoyed our stay with the very hospitable Wrigley family. Pouring rain for most of the day. Had a driving tour of the area and dinner at The Olive Garden in town. It was great for Rupert to get caught up with his friend from Durham University days.

"New" Tour Day 2: Marlow, New Hampshire

Driving through Bennington, Vermont we couldn't help but be intrigued by the Battle Monument and so stopped to see it up close. "A group wishing to commemorate the Battle of Bennington decided a monument should be erected at the storage site of the military supplies which had been the objective of the battle." "The Bennington Battle Monument is 306 feet 4 and 1/2 inches tall; the cornerstone was laid in 1887, and the monument completed and dedicated in 1891. It is constructed from blue-grey magnesian limestone (known as Sandy Hill Dolomite from present-day Hudson Falls, New York), which is roughfaced with the exception of two horizontal bands near the observatory level. " Read more here.


Friday, July 21, 2006

"New" Tour Day 1: Little Falls, New York

Trouble free exit of GTA early Thursday morning, 22519 km on the clock. Grabbed hotel coupon book at Tim Horton's near Port Hope, ON which payed off in the evening. Brief stop at the Big Apple at Colborne, ON. Payed $2.20 toll to cross Ivy Lea bridge into US and hubby payed $6 admin fee to enter the states. Picnic lunch at roadside in Turin, NY.
Stayed at the Best Western in Little Falls, NY where restaurant service was top notch. Following a great night's sleep and continental breakfast took a walking tour of - "Canal Place [that] was home to the prosperous industries of Little Falls during the second half of the 19th Century. The textile industry employed over 15,000 people at one time. The first knitting mill started in 1872, became part of the Gilbert Knitting Company and established itself as one of the largest textile businesses in the country. In 1901 the city of Little Falls had 55 factories with 4, 408 employees producing an annual output valued at $8,500,000. In 1921 the knit goods and hosiery industries here employed 2, 234 machine operators and most of them worked in what is today called Canal Place."

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

smart fortwo owners organize cross-Canada Relay

Club smart members drive to raise funds for charity
TORONTO, July 18 /CNW/ - The success of smart in Canada is still unwavering thanks in large part to a passionate and dedicated customer base. A strong consumer interest in smart very much helped launch the brand in Canada less than two years ago. Ever since, several smart owners' clubs and on-line forums were developed and now thrive all across the country. One of these very active groups is the, the largest privately run smart forum in Canada; it has close to 1,000 members. This past February, smart customer Garry Stearns of Kemptville, Ontario took it upon himself to start organizing a cross-Canada relay which would take place in August. It has been a full-time hobby since. This initiative will see smart owners drive their own cars in sections of a pre-determined route starting from Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Newfoundland and ending in Victoria, British Columbia. The owners will actually pass a baton through the relay posts. Drivers can drive one hour of the relay, or two hours, six hours or for days. The relay will start on August 7th and end on August 28th. A total of approximately 10,000 kilometres will be driven and so far, there are at least 75 participants formally registered to drive various sections of the cross-Canada relay. Close to 200 cars will be involved in some way or another. Read full press release here.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

SMART fortwo EV set to electrify British Motor Show

SMART announced today that it will premiere a new SMART fortwo EV at next week's British Motor Show. Up to 200 of the electric microcars will be built and delivered to the UK, which will serve as the trial market for the "green" vehicle.The fortwo EV has 30-kilowatts of power, which gives it more zip in normal everyday driving than its gasoline-powered sibling. 0-30 mph arrives in 6.5 seconds, and it tops out at 70 mph. Fully charged, it has a 70-mile operating range.If the UK trial is a success, one has to believe that "green vehicle" aficionados here in the US will be clamoring for DaimlerChrysler to import the EV in addition to the conventionally-powered fortwo. Furthermore, because the SMART isn't a wildly bizarre-looking oddity like some of the other pure EVs available today, it's more likely that people who normally wouldn't consider an EV will take a second look at the SMART. This'll be interesting to watch.

Read more here.

Unimog and Smart in shock horror love-child outrage

Clearly some people need to get out a bit more often and stop thinking "What if we were to cross product 'A' with product 'B'"
Unfortunately whoever crossed this Smart car with a Unimog had clearly been in the sun for far too long. What's more we can't even get it for roadtest...

Read more here.

American Mercedes dealers don't want to sell Smart car

Monday July 17, 2006 6:47 PM EST - By: Michael Kwan
I would say that the Smart ForTwo has done quite well for itself in Canada, selling out of Mercedes-Benz dealerships right alongside the more upscale models, including the SLK, CLK, and S-Class lines. It seems a little out of place in the showroom with vehicles that [sell] for as much as 10 times more, but that hasn't hampered its sales one bit.
American Mercedes dealerships, however, are opposed to selling the Smart car out of their showrooms, despite the fact that DaimlerChrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche is heavily pushing for the fuel-sipping brand to make a big splash in the States. The dealers are concerned about damaging the Mercedes-Benz image, according to Mercedes dealer council chairman Doug Callahan.That said, DaimlerChrysler has already announced that the Smart car will definitely be States-bound for 2008, so they'll have to find somewhere to sell it. Some have said that the ForTwo would be a better fit in a Chrysler or Dodge showroom, but Callahan is simply hoping to make Smart sales in Mercedes dealerships optional.

View source.

Monday, July 17, 2006

MB Canada Barbecue at Marie Curtis Park

The very hot and hazy weather made us glad we brought our lawn chairs and could sit the shade at Marie Curtis Park on Lake Ontario at the Toronto/Mississauga boundary. Approximately 20 smart fortwos made a colourful display (I think we outnumbered the mercedes). As always, it's fun to meet folks who's posts your read on the club smart car forum and see what mods and accessories people have added to their cars. Many thanks to the organizers, sponsors and barbecue chefs who made the event a success.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

GERMAN PRESS: Daimler, VW consider small car cooperation

Last Update: 10:04 AM ET Jul 9, 2006

FRANKFURT (MarketWatch) -- DaimlerChrysler AG (DCX) and Volkswagen AG (VOW.XE) may cooperate in the area of small cars, magazine Focus reports.
According to the magazine, VW could deliver engines for Daimler's two-seater Smart car. The engines would be those used for VW's Fox and Polo models. Advance planners have been advising the companies on the project, Focus says.
In the compact car category, the companies could also use a common platform for the models Mercedes A and B classes, Chrysler PT-Cruiser and VW Golf, the magazine said.
Both companies declined comment on the report.
Magazine Web site:

Friday, July 14, 2006

Business smarts 19: Schueneman's Furniture Manufacturing & Reupholstery

Schueneman's Design Systems International is a 4 generation furniture company. We manufacture, reupholster and restore furniture. Working closely with decorators, designers, and consumers, we offer a variety of services.

Workshop & Samples: 4096 Meadowbrook Dr. Unit 10 London, Ontario N6L 1G4
Phone: 652-0184 Fax: 652-0920
Showroom & Samples:Hyde Park Design Centre, 2020 Hyde Park Side Rd., London, Ontario N6H 5L9

Over to Port Dover

To Port Dover for a small but select smart car gathering at this Lake Erie resort. We stop by the old Lake Erie & Northern railway station, now a municipal depot with few clues to its railroad heritage. Smart cars are assembled down at the dock. We adjourn to Knechtel's for a fishy lunch. We acquire some LED side-lights and a gizmo that allows you to operate the power windows with the ignition off. Glenn tries to tempt us with some "snake oil" - diesel conditioner- but we pass. We check out the old station at Waterford on our way back to Kitchener, our base on this trip. There is much evidence of old railways that once criss-crossed this part of Ontario.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Unsolicited Advice: Is smart a dumb idea?

Marc E. Babej and Tim Pollak 07.12.06, 6:00 AM ET
DaimlerChrysler's announcement that it plans to begin marketing the Smart car in the U.S. in 2008 made us think of an ad for a similar German effort 40 years ago: "It's ugly, but it gets you there." Remember? Volkswagen's original Beetle enjoyed a successful 20-year run in the U.S. Even the derivative New Beetle, launched ten years later, has found its niche. Will the successor to the Smart Fortwo compare?
Unlikely. For starters, the Fortwo is a whole lot uglier than the Volkswagen Beetle that stormed these shores a half-century ago. The Beetle was famously advertised as the car a snowplow driver uses to get to his snowplow. Meanwhile, the rear of the Fortwo looks as if it has been sideswiped by a snow plow.
Smart's track record suggests we should be skeptical of whatever decisions its executives make. Since 1998, Smart has reportedly lost $3.6 billion. In explaining the decision to finally distribute the Smart (following a much-publicized false start, which had been slated for this year), a DaimlerChrysler senior executive was quoted as saying, "The world, and the U.S., has changed in the last two years."

Read the full article here.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

DCX to redo SMART car before U.S. debut

The SMART car lineup has been trimmed from three models to just one after the cancellation of the forfour and roadster models. So the future profitability of the brand rests on the tiny fenders of the fortwo, which will be coming to the U.S. in 2008. WhatCar? is reporting that the tiny two-seater will be rehashed before it makes its American debut. As you can see from this rendering, the overall look may be largely unchanged, with the biggest difference being the new headlights and front fascia. WhatCar?, however, calls the next fortwo "all-new", so perhaps DaimlerChrysler will be substantially revamping the car inside and out in an effort to make it more appealing to U.S. tastes.
source: Autoblog

Saturday, July 08, 2006

SMARTIES What's your favourite colour? Contest

For full details and to enter go here. Enter to win a smart fortwo. Product purchase is not necessary- try the monthly challenge.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Indy Mogul in smart move

To smart centre Mississauga to change a headlight bulb. Sales Representative Justin Sookraj tells us that Roger Penske is due at the dealership. Penske, in town for the Toronto Grand Prix, is checking out Toronto area smart dealerships ahead of launching the car in the USA in 2007. I recall seeing Penske racing the Ferrari 250 GTO at Goodwood in the Tourist Trophy in 1963. He has since established a peerless reputation as a team owner with many victories in the Indianapolis 500 and a successful NASCAR team in his stable.

Sadly Penske was a no show in Mississauga. We wish him well with the launch of the smart car in the states. We believe that the launch of a gasoline-engined fortwo in the United States will also see the same car for sale in Canada. Canadian smart dealerships will certainly welcome the availability of the gas-engine smart. What is Penske doing at a Champ Car race? He is believed to be brokering a deal between IRL and Champ Car to reunite open-wheel racing in the states. Bring it on. RLT

For more on the Tourist Trophy 1963 go here.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

DaimlerChrylser might bring Smart car in India?

MD and CEO of Daimler Chrysler India Wilfred Aulbur was speaking to a news media group in India when he accepted the possibility of launching their Smart car in the Indian market.
He was quoted as saying: “It would be a niche application for people who have clearly defined personality, character, lifestyle.”
Indian consumer might show preference for a small compact car but not something, which would cost more than 2-3 lakh rupees. DaimlerChrylser has just confirmed that they are going to launch this car in the US and it is expected to cost around USD 13000 in that market.
For that price, you can easily go on for something like a Maruti Baleno [pictured here] or a Hyundai Accent in India. But then, for some people Smart just might come as something fresh and this car might find a place in the Indian automotive scene.

View source.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

SMART forfour production ends - Mitsubishi and DaimlerChrysler part ways

The end of June saw the end of production for the SMART forfour that was produced through a joint collaboration between Mitsubishi and DaimlerChrysler. The forfour was produced at Mitsusbishi's facility in the Netherlands where the Colt will continue to be made. An engine plant in Germany that was jointly operated by both companies will be handed over to DaimlerChrysler. While SMART has information on the fortwo, forfour and Roadster on its website, the brand will be down to just one car, the fortwo, with the exit of the forfour. The Roadster Finale currently being sold is a special edition model to mark the end of that car's production run.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

DaimlerChrysler to import Smart Cars - no US plants

DaimlerChrysler has announced it will sell the two-seat Smart Car in the US in early 2008, but will not open manufacturing plants in the US.
The Smart Car is the two-seat, less-than-nine-foot-long and easy-to-park mini subcompact from Europe. It is sold in 36 countries, with Italy it's biggest market at annual sales of 40,000 cars. The car is manufactured in France, and at least initially, Daimler Chrysler will ship the cars from there. Earlier market studies in the US proved it was not the time to sell the Smart Car in the US, but given that gas prices are likely to remain at $3+, with the Smart Car getting 40+ mpg, now is the time. The car lists at about $15,000. A test drive of the squat vehicle with its three-cylinder engine prompted the editor to sigh and say, "so it's come to this."

Source: The Manufacturer

Monday, July 03, 2006

Versatile Versa joins small-car showdown

By RICHARD WILLIAMSON The world is growing smaller every day, especially the automotive world.
With DaimlerChrysler's decision this week to introduce its teensy Smart car to the U.S. market in 2008, its safe to say that automakers expect high fuel prices to keep driving buyers toward greater efficiency.
Meanwhile, the Japanese pioneers are again building benchmarks in on a small scale using traditional gas engines.
In response to the recent arrival of Toyota's Yaris and Honda's Fit, Nissan is rolling out its 2007 Versa hatchback.
Prices on the Versa begin at $12,450 for the 1.8 S with a standard 122-horsepower 1.8-liter double overhead cam 4-cylinder engine and 6-speed manual transmission. Adding a four-speed automatic transmission drives the price to $13,250.
Read full article here.

Penske Lays Out Plans for Smart Car

Washington DC July 3, 2006; The AIADA newsletter reported that Roger Penske thinks his UnitedAuto Group can profitably distribute DaimlerChrysler's Smart Car by "signing 30 to 50 franchised dealerships in urban markets, setting modes sales goals and relying on unconventional marketing techniques," reports Automotive News. Penske made his remarks last week after DaimlerChrysler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche announced plans to introduce Smart to the United States. Penske and Dave Schembri, who will be president of Smart USA, did not announce sales targets, but they have modest expectations, according to the paper. On a per-store basis, Smart dealers might expect to match the unit sales volume of Mini dealers -- about 40 cars per month. If so, Penske could expect to sell 15,000 to 20,000 per year. The automaker's total investment in the U.S. Smart network will be substantially less than $100 million, estimates Arndt Ellinghorst, an analyst for Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein in Frankfurt.

View source.
[Photo: Dave Schembri - Mercedes Benz USA vice president in charge of Smart, who resigned as executive vice president of North American sales for Mitsubishi in February 2006.]