Auto Almanac

Drawing Board

Ford Vertrek Concept: The Blue Oval automaker plans to introduce a second-generation Escape tall wagon for the 2012 model year and all indications point to this recently unveiled show car as its eventual replacement. The Vertrek is similar in size to the current Escape, but works with the same platform used for the 2012 Ford Focus and upcoming C-Max compact minivan. Also new is a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, although a larger nonturbo four-cylinder might also be offered.

You Auto Know

n The largest Bugatti ever built, the 1927 Type 41 Royale, also featured one of the world’s largest engines at the time, a 12.8-liter inline six-cylinder.

n The first gas station was opened in 1913 in Pittsburgh by the Gulf Oil Co.

What’s up, auto doc?

Someone asked the Auto Doc if the V-8 engine was on its way out. Well, if V-8 engines ran on no fuel and created no emissions, they (and V-10 and V-12 engines, for that matter) would be favorites for everyone. But as automakers look at meeting ever-increasing Corporate Average Fuel Economy regulations, the biggest users of fuel and the biggest polluters are not necessarily targeted for obsolescence, but simply fall by the wayside. In fact, the Auto Doc is seeing signs that even six-cylinder engines are not making the cut, replaced by four-cylinder engines (the Hyundai Sonata and Audi TT, for example, no longer offer six-cylinder engines). Cutting back on pistons seems to be dovetailing with increasing use of electric power, which clearly shows the desire to move away from fossil fuels, altogether. If the next car you buy isn’t a hybrid or a full-on electric, the car after that most likely will be, and the V-8 — and possibly the V-6 — will likely be a fond memory.

You can send your tips to the Auto Doc at by clicking the “contact” link.

eBay watch

1970 Buick Skylark Custom, 19 bids, sold, $7,600: Among General Motors’ midsize two-door models that were introduced 41 years ago, the Buick Skylark was among the prettiest. Most collectors would likely gravitate to the muscular Grand Sport model with its 360-horsepower 455-cubic-inch V-8 (and pay big bucks), but for simply cruising around and looking good, the basic Skylark with its humble 350-cube V-8 is much more affordable. This completely original one-owner car was an excellent bargain at $7,600.

Who am I?

To guess his secret identity,
read the following clues.

1.) He was once Chevrolet’s chief engineer (beginning in May, 1952) and was responsible for pushing the original Corvette into production.

2.) He was heavily involved in advancing vehicle safety at General Motors and was an advocate of airbags.

3.) He also put Chevrolet on the race track in the late 1950s with a win-on-Sunday, sell-on-Monday philosophy.

4.) He eventually left GM with plans of opening an air-cargo business, but died in a light-plane crash (1977).

Answer: Under Ed Cole’s leadership, GM tripled the engineering staff at Chevrolet. In 1998, he was inducted into the Corvette Hall of Fame.

— Wheelbase Communications

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