Chrysler brand and BraunAbility are joining forces to design a wheelchair-accessible Chrysler Pacifica minivan.


“Whether it’s a veteran, a colleague, friend or a family member, there’s a good chance we all know someone with a physical disability who needs help getting to the places and events that matter most to them,” said Tim Kuniskis, Head of Passenger Cars, Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and FIAT, FCA North America. “The all-new Chrysler Pacifica is proving to be a lot of things to a lot of people, and now equipped with the BraunAbility technology, it is also the perfect tool to help our customers gain freedom to stay active in their everyday lives.”

The most spacious wheelchair-accessible vehicle in the industry, the BraunAbility Chrysler Pacifica features patent-pending AccessAbility™ technology, including an aerospace-inspired sliding door extension and the industry’s widest side-entry ramp, with rear-axle space innovations and cantilevered seat bases that expand interior cabin space, maximizing space for obstruction-free maneuverability for all sizes and types of wheelchairs. BraunAbility seamlessly integrates with the sophisticated styling of the Chrysler Pacifica. To ensure Chrysler integrity and quality, BraunAbility sources its components through the same suppliers, and crash-tests to the highest automotive standards.

“For over 45 years, BraunAbility and Chrysler have worked together to empower people with physical disabilities, including our founder Ralph Braun, to stay connected to what matters in their lives,” stated Nick Gutwein, President and CEO of BraunAbility. “The need for quality mobility solutions is only going to grow, and we are thrilled to align with Chrysler to launch the innovative and uncompromising BraunAbility Chrysler Pacifica.”

The partnership between Chrysler and BraunAbility includes co-promotion support for the ‘Give a Dog a Job Program’ benefiting Canine Companions for Independence. Trained service dogs are empowering wheelchair users daily by completing everyday activities, including getting in and out of their wheelchair-accessible vehicles. Hundreds are currently on the waitlist to receive a trained assistance dog, which is provided to a person with a disability free of charge.

“BraunAbility and Chrysler Pacifica are a natural fit as a partner for Canine Companions for Independence,” says Canine Companions CEO Paul Mundell. “The synergy between adapted vehicles like the BraunAbility Pacifica and the intelligence and life-changing skills of a Canine Companions assistance dog are seamlessly giving independence — and giving a dog a job.

The BraunAbility Pacifica is the latest in a long line of accessible vehicles engineered between the world leader in mobility and Chrysler. The partnership began more than 45 years ago when BraunAbility founder Ralph Braun, a wheelchair user himself, engineered a hydraulic wheelchair lift and installed it in a full-size Dodge van (a 1972 Dodge B series Ram Van), becoming the world’s first commercialized wheelchair-accessible vehicle.

keith [dot] morgan [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

100 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans are being outfitted with Waymo self-driving technology, (formerly the Google s

Autodesk VRED Design 2017

elf-driving car project) and will join the autonomous drive test fleet in early 2017.

This first-of-its kind collaboration brought engineers from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Waymo together to leverage each company’s individual strengths and resources. Engineering modifications to the minivan’s electrical, powertrain, chassis and structural systems were implemented to optimize the Pacifica for the fully self-driving technology.

“The Pacifica Hybrid will be a great addition to our fully self-driving test fleet. FCA’s product development and manufacturing teams have been agile partners, enabling us to go from program kickoff to full vehicle assembly in just six months,” said John Krafcik, Chief Executive Officer, Waymo.

Waymo and FCA co-located part of their engineering teams at a facility in southeastern Michigan to accelerate the overall development process. In addition, extensive testing was carried out at FCA’s Chelsea Proving Grounds in Chelsea, Michigan, and Arizona Proving Grounds in Yucca, Arizona, as well as Waymo test sites in California.

“As consumers’ transportation needs evolve, strategic collaborations such as this one are vital to promoting a culture of innovation, safety and technology,” said Sergio Marchionne, Chief Executive Officer, FCA. “Our partnership with Waymo enables FCA to directly address the opportunities and challenges the automotive industry faces as we quickly approach a future where fully self-driving vehicles are very much a part of our daily lives.”

Self-driving cars have the potential to prevent some of the 1.2 million deaths that occur each year on roads worldwide, 94 percent of which are caused by human error. This collaboration will help FCA and Waymo better understand what it will take to bring self-driving cars into the world.

keith [dot] morgan [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

“Post-war cars that swam against the stream of fins, scoops, chrome and decals and were memorable for their elegant simplicity…”

1956 Continental Mk II
1963 Buick Rivera
1953 Studebaker Regal Starlight coupe
1956 Chrysler 300B
1975-79 Cadillac Seville

Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow famously wrote, “In character, in manner, in style, in all the things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.”

And one could argue that the same is true in automotive design. American car design of the 1950s-1970s was beloved for its flamboyance; here are the best from that bunch of years…

1963-65 Buick Riviera

The 1963 Riviera was the result of GM design head Bill Mitchell’s desire to produce something that was a combination of a Rolls-Royce and a Ferrari. Whether he succeeded in that odd mash-up is debatable, but the 1963-65 Riv was a thing of great elegance and simplicity, particularly the 1965 model with hidden headlamps.

Introduced at the height of Camelot, it was as elegant as Jackie Kennedy.

1956-57 Continental Mk II

The Continental was emphatically not a Lincoln, even though it shared the name of numerous products of that division of the Ford Motor Company. For two brief years, Continental was a division unto itself and the Mk II may well have been the most elegant post-war car built in America. Costing the then-unheard-of sum of $10,000 (the equivalent of almost $87,000 in today’s money), the care and craftsmanship that went into each car ensured that Ford still lost money on each one.

Elvis, Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor were all Continental owners.

1953 Studebaker Regal Starlight coupe

Famous industrial designer Raymond Loewy put together a team of talented designers that included Robert Bourke to design a car like no other of the 1950s. Low, sleek and incredibly elegant, the Regal Starlight is largely forgotten today by all but the most diehard car collectors and fans of the long-defunct Studebaker Corporation of South Bend, Indiana.

1975-79 Cadillac Seville

In a decade not necessarily known for elegance (heaven knows how many high school kids rode to prom in dad’s Seville wearing powder blue polyester tuxedos), the Seville stood out against the odds as a particularly elegant design. Not only was it handicapped by being a product of the 1970s, but it was the first time that a substantial number of Chevrolet components were used in a Cadillac (it shared the same underpinnings as the Nova). But this was no Cimarron. The first-generation Seville was elegant, restrained and every bit a Cadillac. Although it was the smallest car in the lineup, it was the most expensive and it looked the part.

1956 Chrysler 300B

The first of the 300 “letter-series” (the 1955 C-300 was never actually called the “300A”), it was probably the prettiest Mopar design of the 1950s. Its pillarless hardtop design and restrained use of chrome were wildly inconsistent with the over-the-top performance that the car was capable of delivering from its 355-hp, 354-cubic-inch Hemi V-8. It terrorized NASCAR back in the day.

Rob Sass is the vice-president of content for Hagerty Insurance. Hagerty is the world’s leading specialist provider of classic car and boat insurance. Learn more at

Much has changed in 10 years for the 300 but the same goodness that was in the 2005 model is still here; it is the refinement that makes this a modern sedan…”

The attrition rate of cars from the mid-disco to late Reagan-era is huge.

And while it would be great to see someone somewhere driving any one of the cars on this list, in truth, it’s hard to remember the last time anybody was seen driving any of them.

Here are my five favourite nearly extinct cars…

RS Ford Capri XL

1971-77 Mercury Capri

Few people remember the 1980s Fox-body Mustang’s near-identical twin, the Mercury Capri. Fewer still can recall the Australian-built front-wheel-drive convertible Capri. This isn’t either of those cars— it’s not even the first to wear the Capri badge. It’s the German Ford mini-Mustang Capri. Sold in the U.S. through Mercury dealers and marketed as “The Sexy European” with an assortment of four- and six-cylinder engines, it was nice looking and great to drive—at least we’re assured of this from vintage road tests. One Capri recently offered on was the first that we’ve seen in ages.

RS Mitsubishi Starion

Chrysler Conquest/Mitsubishi Starion

The Conquest was the captive import twin of the Mitsubishi Starion. In the hottest turbo spec with 197 HP, these cars would put the fear of God into Porsche 924/944 owners who had the privilege of paying almost twice as much for less performance.

Where have they all gone?

RS Travelall John Lloyd

1969-75 International Harvester Travelall

The Travelall was the Scout’s big brother, and while Scouts are still regularly seen (particularly in the summer with tops off), the Travelall has all but disappeared. In reality, it was one of the pioneers of the modern SUV and one of the first vehicles to offer anti-lock brakes. Sadly, it was completely overshadowed by the Jeep Wagoneer.

RS Chrysler Laser

Chrysler Laser/ Dodge Daytona Z Turbo

The K-car platform saved Chrysler in the 1980s and underpinned nearly everything that they built, including the sporty Laser/Daytona twins.  The car was nowhere near as bad as the foregoing would suggest; 2.2- and 2.5-liter turbo fours produced anywhere from 175 HP to 224 HP in their hottest states of tune. Carroll Shelby versions of the Daytona are somewhat collectible, assuming you can find one.

RS Volkswagen_Scirocco Charles01

1975-81 Volkswagen Scirocco MKI

The Scirocco was the spiritual successor to the Karmann-Ghia. It followed the same formula of a pretty Italian body over more pedestrian underpinnings (in this case a body designed by Ital Design clothing Rabbit-derived mechanicals). No matter, it was a decent handler and quick enough for the day. Today, there are probably more Bentley Continentals on the road than MK I Sciroccos.


Rob Sass is the vice-president of content for Hagerty Insurance. Hagerty is the world’s leading specialist provider of classic car and boat insurance. Learn more at and you can email rsass [at] hagerty [dot] com

Minivans are utilitarian but it’s also true to say that today’s iterations are no longer glorified vans with seats. (more…)

Used prices are reasonable, from a buyer perspective, and there appears to be a good supply of sedans, but not too many convertibles, out there for sale…

The Chrysler 200 was introduced for the 2011 model year and replaced the outgoing Sebring.

It’s available as a mid-sized sedan, with coupe-like styling and a roomy interior, as a hard or soft top convertible with two doors and four seats.

The 200 is based on the same chassis as the outgoing Sebring but came with revised suspension geometry, stiffer body mounts, a raised roll centre, new sway bars and a wider rear track to improve both its ride and handling. There were also extensive upgrades to reduce cabin noise and these included acoustic lamination of the front door windows and windshield.

The 2011 edition of 200 came in base LX, Touring, Limited and top-line S trim levels. The base engine is a 173-horsepower, 2.4-litre, 16-valve four-cylinder. A carry-over engine from Sebring, it provides good low-end torque, decent fuel economy and is mated with a reliable four-speed automatic. City/highway fuel economy is 9.9/6.7 L/100km. Even the LX edition of the 200 comes with a very good equipment package that includes a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, four-wheel disc brakes with an anti-lock system, remote keyless entry with a security alarm, power windows, locks and mirrors (heated) and air conditioning.

The optional and newer 3.6-litre (Pentastar) V6 was a powertrain offering that came with a six-speed automatic. A quieter and smoother performer than the four-cylinder, this V6 can effortlessly produce 283 horsepower. Highway fuel economy (6.8 L/100km) is also impressive and almost the same as the base four-cylinder. Its city rating, however, is 11.0 L/100km.

The Chrysler 200 Convertible was available with the choice of two automatic-latching power tops. There’s a light-weight fabric-top with a glass back window or a (body colour) fully-retractable steel hard-top. Both types of folding top can also be lowered or raised remotely via the owner’s key fob, which is a neat feature.

In addition to being less expensive, the fabric-top is more compact when folded and allows more cargo space in the trunk. The hard-top, on the other hand, can provide a quieter cabin for occupants while driving and it’s more secure when parked.

Active safety improved with the addition of both electronic stability control and traction control systems as standard equipment in all editions for the 2012 model year. Otherwise, the 200 was unchanged. Some new paint choices were added for the 2013 model year, but other than that the 200 was again unchanged.

The 200 comes with an up-to-date complete passive safety package and its crash safety test ratings have been top-notch, both for the sedan and the convertible. In fact, the sedan achieved “Top Safety Pick” status with the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).

Consumer Reports rates the 200 as “below average” for predicted reliability, “above average” for owner satisfaction and “average” for owner costs. Used prices are reasonable, from a buyer perspective, and there appears to be a good supply of sedans, but not too many convertibles, out there for sale.

The Limited trim level (see price check chart) visually adds 18-inch polished aluminum wheels, dual exhaust tailpipes and inside upgrades include leather-faced seats. Like most Chrysler products the 200 offers high content and value, and it’s a good looking car.

Price Check: 2011 – 2013 Chrysler 200 (June 2014)

Year                                 Edition                                      Expect to Pay Today

2011                       200 Limited (sedan)                              $13,000 to $16,000

2011                   200 Limited (convertible)                         $18,000 to $22,000

2012                       200 Limited (sedan)                              $16,000 to $19,000

2012                   200 Limited (convertible)                         $21,000 to $25,000

2013                       200 Limited (sedan)                              $19,000 to $23,000

2013                   200 Limited (convertible)                         $26,000 to $31,000

*Prices vary depending on a used vehicle’s condition, mileage, usage and history. A complete mechanical check should always be performed by a reliable auto technician prior to purchase.

Safety Recalls: 2011 & 2012 Chrysler 200:

2011: A pivot rivet on the steering column may be missing or incorrectly installed and this increases the risk of driver injury in a crash. Dealers will inspect for steering column rivet presence and alignment, and repair as required.

2011/2012/2013: The airbag warning lamp may illuminate due to an electrical fault within the Occupant Restraint Control (ORC) module and the Active Head Restraints may not deploy during a rear impact collision. Dealers will reprogram the Totally Integrated Power Module or replace the ORC module, as required.

2012: The 3.6 litre V6 engine may have debris in the cylinder block from the manufacturing process and this could cause connecting rod bearing and crankshaft bearing damage. Dealers will replace the engine assembly.

2013: Certain vehicles may experience fuel leakage or engine stall due to a broken control valve in the fuel tank assembly. Dealers will inspect and if the control valve is damaged, the fuel tank assembly and vapour canister will be replaced.

2013: Some vehicles equipped with the 2.4 litre engine may experience a loss of oil pressure and subsequent engine failure. Dealers will replace the balance shaft module.

Contact: bob [dot] mchugh [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

A good friend of mine owns a number of Healeys in various states of (dis)repair and one or two roadworthy examples. Keep hoping he’ll gift me one that’s closer to restoration…

1934 Chrysler Airflow
1957 Pontiac Convertible
1940 Ford Custom Pickup
2002 BMW M3 Convertible
1967 Austin Healey
1932 Ford Roadster
1928 Ford Modified Roadster
1956 Desoto Fireflite
1952 Nash
1955 Chevy

You didn’t need a bidder’s paddle to enjoy the excitement of the second annual Vancouver Collector Car Show & Auction.

More than 650 collector and classic autos descended upon the PNE Fairgrounds this past weekend and another 150 went on the block, many surpassing their reserve bid limits. Speed TV’s Steve Magnante was on hand to move the auction along but the cars were the true stars.

Yours truly focussed on the beauties that were for sale, as many of the gems displayed by the car clubs represented at the show will undoubtedly show up in Driveway over the summer season of show and shines.

Here are 10 that caught my eye (photo gallery above)…

1955 Chevrolet 2-door Post Sedan:

For those who like to make a visual a well as audible impression. No chance of cruising quietly around the neighborhood in this loudly painted Chev with the big block 468 CID V8 – 650 hp engine, which is now capable of pushing out 720 horses and a promised 825 at the next tuneup.

1952 Nash:

I’ve always like the funky look of these cars. They are positively odd but I love’em. There was another example featuring a matching tow trailer.

1956 Desoto Fireflite Hemi:

This Desoto is still powered by its original 330 CID Hemi V8! – A marque long gone from production but vividly remembered in the minds of collectors.

1928 Ford Modified roadster:

Handsome beast.This 1928 Model A Roadster Custom features a 302 engine from a 1978 Lincoln and its mated to 1978 C4 auto transmission.

1932 Ford Roadster:

Likewise the looks of this Ford Roadster, which has a 350 Chevy Ramjet engine and auto tranny. Built from ground up with brand new parts by Kaotic Customs in Langley.

1967 Austin Healey 3000 Mk 3:

The last year of production for the Austin-Healey 3000, a very popular British sports car built from 1959. A good friend of mine owns a number of Healeys in various states of (dis)repair and one or two roadworthy examples. Keep hoping he’ll gift me one that’s closer to restoration.

1934 Chrysler Airflow:

It’s a piece of art. Check out the unusual grille. It has less than 53,000 miles on the clock and was discovered in a North West garage back in the 1980s.

1940 Ford Custom Pickup:

Not my cup of tea but I may be in the minority judging by the swarming behaviour of the crowd this weekend.

1957 Pontiac Convertible:

Really don’t like the coral colour but love everything else about it.

It’s a 1957 Star Chief Convertible with a continental kit.

2002 BMW M3:

It’s amusicmobile judging by the amazing sound system. But it’s no slouch on the non-musical performance front.  It has a 3.2L turbo – 525 HP engine.


To view all the cars offered and what they sold for at the auction, please visit

Contact: keith [dot] morgan [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

The 200 is not a new nameplate for Chrysler but the 2015 model is all-new from the ground up… (more…)

Chrysler Canada recently recorded fifty consecutive months of year-over-year sales growth…

These days, there’s always something new and interesting to see at a Chrysler auto show product display.

Big and small, it’s got’em all.

There’s a super-cute little Fiat that can run forever on litre of fuel over here and a big, brawny heavy-duty Ram 2500 Laramie Longhorn Diesel that can pull a mountain over there.

Then there’s value-packed Dodge, go-anywhere Jeep and those top-line Chrysler brand products, including the sleek new (2015) 200 sedan. Gear-heads will, of course, be gathered around the SRT Viper, which reportedly can transport occupants to 100 km/h in less than four seconds.

On the business side, Chrysler Canada recently recorded fifty consecutive months of year-over-year sales growth, which is the longest period of continuous market improvement in the company’s history. Globally, 2013 was another great year for parent company Chrysler Group LLC, which reported a year-end net income of $2.8 billion, up from $1.7 billion the previous year. So far, in 2014, the sales growth story continues with award winning new vehicles and there are more new products in the pipeline.

The radically redesigned Jeep Cherokee was recently voted 2014 Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year, by members of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) and has already achieved best ever mid-size SUV sales results for Jeep. Cherokee is the first Jeep built on a body platform co-developed with corporate partner Fiat S.p.A. The base engine is a fuel-efficient 2.4-litre Tigershark MultiAir 4-cylinder engine and there’s an optional new 3.2-litre Pentastar V6 engine. Other engineering highlights include a nine-speed automatic transmission and a new Jeep Selec-Terrain traction control system with up to five customized drive modes.

This year the redesigned Jeep Grand Cherokee is offered with a new 3.0-litre EcoDiesel V6 engine option, which is expected to deliver best-in-class fuel economy, a driving range in excess of 1,100 km and towing capability up to 3357 kg (7,400 lb). A new eight-speed automatic transmission comes with all powertrains. Grand Cherokee also offers three 4×4 systems and a Quadra-Lift air suspension.

Led by the Ram 1500, Motor Trend magazine’s Truck of Year for the second year in a row and the only half-ton with a diesel engine option, Ram is now the second-best selling vehicle in Canada. Chrysler separated its Dodge brand and created the distinct standalone Ram brand to concentrate on core truck customers and offers a range of vehicles that includes pickup trucks, vans, cab/chassis platforms and commercial products,

The Fiat brand is a relative newcomer to the Chrysler family and is sold through selected Chrysler dealers. A recent surge in sales was led primarily by the introduction of a new Fiat 500L. Expanding the size and appeal of the diminutive Cinquecento (Fiat 500) and offering 42 per cent more interior space plus seating for five, the new 500L is a contemporary and uniquely Italian styling package.

If big, bold, and powerful is more your style, the Dodge Charger is a rear-drive, full size sedan with power to match its muscular styling. A new Redline Package comes with 20-inch black chrome wheels, Beats Audio and an upgraded 300 horsepower, 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 engine. If that’s not enough, there’s a new R/T edition comes with a 370 hp HEMI V8 engine.

The best selling minivan of all time, Dodge Grand Caravan is the definitive family transporter. It now only comes with a Pentastar 3.5 litre V6 engine – no gutless base engine here – linked to a 6-speed automatic transmission. A new “Blacktop” package includes a black gloss front grille and headlamp treatments plus black polished aluminum wheels, giving it a more sinister appearance.

The already mentioned 2015 Chrysler 200 is a redesigned mid-size sedan for those who have earned the right to enjoy some luxury and those extra frills, yet still demand value for money. The 200’s exterior front-end design is apparently the new “face” of the Chrysler brand and it’s now based on an Alfa Romeo chassis.

At the L.A. auto show about six years ago, the lights were turned out at an abandoned Chrysler display during the press preview days.

It was both ominous and sad to see, as behind closed doors a once great company was struggling to survive.

The dark days are over.

Contact: bob [dot] mchugh [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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