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Interesting Articles written and submitted by our own Harry Murphy

Hudson Valley Miata Club, Inc

A special contribution by Ned Lynn:
"the HVMC could be very proud of everyone who chose to participate in the Motorsports events. Keith Lynch was Rookie Champion both in the Poughkeepsie Sports Car Club and the Fairfield ( CT ) Sports Car Club. Keith has shown that he is an excellent driver and with the tweaking he is doing to his car this winter, between his job and building his house, he is going to be in the position to be extremely competitive this coming season. Don't forget, you read it here first, I won't be surprised if Keith captures a National SCCA title in the next three years !!
Sharon Davidson and I ended the season with a First Place Finish in the classes that we race in. I really doubt that there is another Miata club around here that can say they have Three Autocross Champions
running with their club."
Way to go Keith, Ned & Sharon!!! :)

Heard at the garage II ,  of cobblestones and milestones
Helter skelter, the sky is falling. Worse than that, Volkswagen AG. announced  Volkswagen de Mexico SA. will on july 30th., 2003, cease production of the longest running, biggest selling automobile of all time, the original, the one and only, the revered and much loved, Volkswagen Beetle.  " ARRGH, OH MY GOD, THEY KILLED KENNY!!! "
Introduced at the Berlin Auto Show in 1938, the "Peoples car" was intended to put Germany on wheels. Even the working class would be able to afford this small, rear engined, air cooled, Autobahn cruiser The very picture of simplicity and, for it's time, the state of the art in engineering, the Volkswagen was a dream come true for the German Motorists.
The VW was designed by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche, a brilliant engineer. The design was so good that Porsche used it for the base engineering model for the first car to bear his name some ten years later. Porsche sports cars still utilize basic design elements from that original, Volkswagen beetle, introduced 65 years ago. When you consider that Porsches are considered among the finest sports cars in the world today, it is all the more amazing that their origins are so humble.
What is it about the Beetle that so many people all over the world loved so much? Frankly, I haven't the foggiest. To begin with the thing was ordered into exsistance by the greatest evil of the 20th century, Aldoph Hitler. In my book, that's good enough for strikes 1 2 and 3, your out! Then it was just plain pug ugly and it had nothing you could call a heater or defroster, it was way too light in the front end so it blew all over the highway on a windy day and even worse than that, it was too heavy in the rear end so it tended to swap ends on wet days if you cornered just a tad too fast. Did I mention that beetles liked to roll over without to much provocation? Beetles needed a 5 or 6 speed gear box to help them climb anything but the smallest of hills, they had to make due with a 4 speed, with top gear an overdrive, it was gutless! I mean painfully slow,, you had to plan a passing situation and then pray a lot out loud to any divinities listening that you'd make it without bein g splattered all over some semi's front end, and oh yeah, the gas tank was up front just over your lap, "Holy Ralph Nader Batman!"
Ok, those are lots of very good reasons why the beetle should have been a huge commercial flop, a white elephant, but this "turkey of turkeys" was the biggest selling single model automobile of all time. WOW, could the whole world be that stupid? Although we humans do tend to make incredibly stupid decissions from time to time, I should  think we aren't dumb enough to buy a bad car in those quantities, 21,529,464, to be exact. Why then did the VW become such a global success and earn the status of a ledgend in it's own lifetime?
It is much easier to conclude that the VW should have failed or at least had a far shorter life and vastly fewer sales than it is to determine why it became the biggest selling single car model, ever. I can only express my feelings and tell you what I believe happened.
First, the Beetle was an honest car. It made no pretence of being something it wasn't. Due to its simple, straight forward engineering design, the beetle was rugged and reliable, requiring only the most basic maintence, and when it broke, the VW was cheap and easy to fix. Even it's build quality was excellent, better than many cars costing much more. Perhaps the first consideration was the fact that the beetle was both in expensive and easy to buy.
 The Nazi Government set up a payment plan where the worker would sign up to purchase a VW and a small amount of money would be deducted from each paycheck. The amount was very small as the government subsudised the cost of the car. Points were issued with each payment and when a pre-determined number of points was reached, the worker would pick up his brand new VWat the factory, completely paid for. Sadly for the workers, no Beetles were ever delivered to them from this program and the rumor was that the Nazi Goverment had used the workers money for war materials.
When the war ended, hundreds of thousands tried to collect their new cars, but the post war Government said that any and all commitments made by the Nazis were null and void. A class action suit was filed on behalf of the workers and after many years of court room drama, the German Government and The Volkswagen Company agreed to deliver the new cars to the workers with a substancial part of the price paid for.
All of this history aside what made the Volkswagen such a global hit was the simple reason that it was well made, reliable, inexpensive to buy and cheap to maintain. In short, the VW did what it was designed to do and it did it well! That very simple formula can be applied to many other outstanding automobiles in all catagories from almost all car producing countries. they would be too numerous to name here. But certainly our very own Mazda Miata comes to mind as an outstanding member of this exclusive fraternity of outstanding automobiles.
Before you think of the many virtues that have made the Miata such a global success, remember that before anything else, the Miata did what it was designed to do and it continues to do it well.......perhaps better than any other sports car builder has ever done. Here money is not a factor. Intelligent design, value for your money and bang for the buck as well as reliability, ease of maintence, durability. quality of materials, styling count heaviley. And of course, the fun to drive factor was perhaps the single most important ingredient in the Miata recipie. In any case, you just gotta love a car that keeps it's promises.
PS: Be sure to check out the Miata Ibuki, concept car on Miata net. It looks like Mazda has been listening to Miata enthusiast drivers after all. Happy suprise! 
Until next time, ciao Miatacisti.

AUTOTOPIX VIII, Special Editorial:
Giovani "Gianni" Agnelli, 1921-2003
A service of the Hudson Valley Miata Club, Inc.
I hope you will bear with me in reading this brief editorial / obituary. It has nothing to do with Miatas and everything to do with the world of automobiles. So, in a sense, what effects one, effects all.
Giovani Agnelli, Chairman of Fiat,  Died on Jan 24th after a battle with cancer. He was 81. Fiat,  is the largest privately held corporation in Europe.
"Gianni" [pronounced,  Johnny] as he was affectionately known, served as chairman of the Fiat corporation, for six decades. Fiat, or "Fabbrica Italiani de Automobile, Torino" as it was called at first, was founded by his name sake and Grandfather, in July, 1899.
Angelli was highly respected for his dynamic and progressive leadership in the more than sixty years he served as chairman. He oversaw fiat's purchase of Lancia, Bertone, Autobianci, Maserati, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari, among others, building Fiat into a global powerhouse!
His accomplishments are far too numerous to list here and not the reason that I am writing this obituary today. I am deeply saddened to hear of his passing because of the person Gianni was. I only met him once and then only as a mid-level manager was allowed by protocol.
He was an elegant man, stylish,  polished, a dominating figure who looked like a film star. He had a terrific sense of humor and spoke English perfectly with a strong British accent, having been educated in England. He addressed American and Canadian Fiat Dealers at a meeting in Las Vegas. He had them under his spell with his charm and even though he was one of the worlds wealthiest men, he was completely unpretentious. He loved Americans for our way of getting right to the point, without flowery rhetoric.
Once the editor of Italy's largest newspaper, insulted some middle eastern potentate, calling him a barbarian and a murderer. The newspaper, like almost everything in Italy, was owned by fiat. When the potentate demanded that Angelli fire the editor or suffer the consequences of having Italy's and thus Fiat's oil supply cut off, Angelli responded in another editorial that he wrote to the offended Arab. The Angelli response would have made Patrick Henry proud. Angelli said that his editor was a free man in a free country and that free speech was the foundation of a free country. Liberty could not and would not dry up for lack of oil. He topped it of by saying the he agreed with his editors assessment, and basically, what he could do with his oil.
Giovanni Agnelli's death is truly the end of an era. Fiat Gruppo Auto, the automobile wing of Fiat, Spa. is 20% owned by General Motors, and will be totally in the GM family before the year is out. Fiat will no longer make automobiles. The Fiat marque will probably disappear like Plymouth and Oldsmobile. Alfa Romeo, Lancia and Ferrari will  probably survive and prosper with General Motors money and vast resources behind them. But that very special something that Gianni brought will not be there. He will be missed.
Giovanni Agnelli was my hero. Rest in Peace "Gianni".
c. hpm 3 31 03

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All opinions are those of the writer and not necessarily of the Hudson Valley Miata Club, Inc. or it's membership.

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Last updated 12/24/03