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Tag Archive: Automotive Manufacturers

Joe Basil

Musclecar Dream Engine Comes True in Modern Technology

LT1This column is typically reserved for “next practice” tips for better retail automotive management, but today we’re paying homage to the source of our passion for this industry — the allure of the automobile and all it signifies. It stole our hearts and captured our imagination with dreams of speed, power and freedom on the open road. For me, the passion was sparked by the Chevrolet musclecars of the 1960s and 70s.

For all you other musclecar motorheads who used to have hair with a color other than gray, the 2014 C7 Corvette Stingray LT1 engine is a motorhead’s dream come true. It’s got all of the technology you dreamed of in the day but had no idea how to bring it to mechanical life. Just go back to the 60s and early 70s, when you were 18 and building that small block drag car. Yeah, when you pulled up to the Sunoco gas pump and cranked the octane lever to 110+; when the gas filler was behind the tail light on a fin or behind the license plate; when you burned a full tank of premium on a Friday or Saturday night street racing with your hottie.

That’s when you spent hours and hours talking to the guys at the track, trying to get the latest tricks from the speed shop and spending lots of bucks building that small block to put out every bit of horsepower you can squeeze out of it. You remember, putting in that highlift cam, swapping out the stock intake for an Edelbrock high-rise topped off with an 1100+(or larger) CFM Holley. Pulling off the heads and putting on the double bump angle plug 2.02’s. And since you switched the rear end gears and you threw out the stock distributor you had to replace it with an HEI mechanical advance and had the advance curve tweaked. Oh and don’t forget those “Hooker Headers” and a couple of Cherry Bombs just for effect.

And then when it came to race day, on the track or on the street, you checked the temperature to see if you were going to swap out those jets on the Holly, reset the base advance, and maybe adjust up those rocker arms to change the cam timing. All of those little tweaks you did under the hood with tools are now being done by computers in milliseconds without ever touching a wrench.

Back in the day, I was a musclecar motorhead and even with gray in my temples, I guess I still am.   That’s why I’m so excited about a very special event coming up later this month in Tonawanda, New York.  Where the heck is Tonawanda, New York?Tonawanda is a suburb of Buffalo and it happens to be the home of the GM powertrain plant where the 2014 C7 LT1 Corvette Stingray engine is built.

The C7 LT1 has it all. Let’s start with 450 hp out of 6.2 L. By the way, that’s 378 cu in. No need to make any adjustments anymore since we now have computer-controlled direct injection, variable valve timing with 2.13 intake valves, and computer-controlled ignition timing. By the way, remember using “plastiguage” to check your bearing clearances? Now the clearances are measured in microns. A micron? Yeah, a micron; that’s one millionth of a meter.

So how would like to see these engines being built? On August 23rd and 24th the General Motors plant in Tonawanda is having an open house. So what? It’s an engine plant, you might say; well, there’s history that goes with this plant and the Chevrolet musclecar engines it produced. When they look under the hood of 60s and 70s musclecars, collectors always look for a little rectangular sticker on the valve cover that reads “Produced by Chevrolet Tonawanda.” Not only is the Chevrolet Tonawanda engine plant noted for producing 60s and 70s musclecar engines and big block marine performance engines, it holds the world record for the most number of engines produced in one day — 8,832 (in 1988).

The plant is celebrating its 75thanniversary and is having an open house and classic car show on August 23rd and 24th. You get a full tour of the plant and the actual crews that build the engines will be explaining and showing you how they do it. I was in this plant quite often in the 1970s when we had a Chevy store close by and serviced the plant cars. I went on the tour a couple of years ago and what a drastic contrast!

It’s a great opportunity to fly into one of Buffalo’s  private aviation strips, bring your off shore boat and do some “street” racing on the Niagara River or Lake Erie, or just cruise your favorite musclecar ride to the car show. Last but not least,don’t forget to visit Frank and Teresa’s Anchor Bar (where chicken wings started) for some wings and “beef on weck.”

For details just go to GM Powertrain Tonawanda Engine 75th Anniversary on Facebook ( or give me a call and let’s wax nostalgic about the days of our shared musclecar mania!

Formerly of the Basil Automotive Group, Joe Basil is a 20 Group Moderator for NCM Associates.  NCM has many GM nameplate 20 Groups including Buick, GMC and Chevrolet dealer groups. For information, call 877.803.3631 or to reach Joe directly, email


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Russell Grant

Nine Things You Can Do Right Now To Increase Your Data Security

Security concept: Lock on digital screenLast month’s article focused on how to determine whether a vendor has what it takes to keep your data secure and what to look for in a vendor before granting them access to your DMS. But the truth is, data security starts at your dealership with the policies, processes and procedures that you establish. Here are nine things you can institute right now to improve the security and integrity of your dealership’s data.

  1. Conduct Background Checks
    Any employee you bring on will have access to, or will be in the vicinity of, customer data. When hiring new staff, conduct background checks: drug, criminal and credit. Contact references as well. 
  2. Establish a Confidentiality Agreement
    Establish and enforce an agreement that states confidential and proprietary information belongs to the dealership—and have all employees sign it. 
  3. Limit Access to Data
    Determine which employees will be granted access and/or administrator duties to what resources, including CRM, DMS, Intranet, social media, website and email. Document user names and passwords. 
  4. Institute Password Best Practice
    Passwords should be unique to each individual, at least eight alphanumeric characters in length, and account access should be blocked after the fourth invalid password attempt. Password changes should be scheduled and not permitted to be the same as the previous four passwords. Passwords should not be displayed near workstations, shared with other staff, or transmitted via insecure technologies (email, IM or fax). 
  5. Invest in Data Protection Software
    Invest in protective software, including anti-virus, anti-spam, firewall, data encryption and virtual private networking (VPN). Institute protective data measures as well — servers should be at a separate location or in cages, backups should be performed, and data retention and destruction policies should be established. 
  6. Disable Access Upon Termination
    When an employee is terminated, make sure to collect and/or disable their key, security code, remote access to any systems, Intranet access, email access, and phone extension and voicemail. For the benefit of both the employee and the dealership, conduct an exit interview if possible.
  7. Require a Non-Disclosure Agreement
    Require all vendors you share data with to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
  8. Partner with an SSAE Certified Vendor
    Our industry has not yet established a standard for policies, processes and procedures that work to ensure data security and protect the privacy of consumer information. The financial industry, however, has—SSAE-16 Certification, developed by the American Institute of CPAs. By partnering with a vendor that has achieved SSAE-16, you know they uphold the highest level of security and can protect and secure your data; guard its integrity and confidentiality; and prevent unauthorized access to it. 
  9. Require Documentation
    If a vendor is not SSAE-16 Certified, request and require that they provide documentation of restricted access to buildings, data, computers, technologies, resources and systems; scanning technology at entrances (cards, fingerprints or retinal scan); government-issued ID required of visitors; password policies and best practices; firewall, anti-virus, anti-spam and data encryption software; equipment monitoring; data retention and destruction policies; backups; and a business continuity and recovery plan in case of disaster.

For more information about increasing data security at your dealership and partnering with vendors that are qualified to provide the data security your business demands, visit Easy-to-follow checklists are also available, as well as fast facts about SSAE-16 Certification.

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Russell Grant

The Big Deal About Big Data

The big deal about big data for auto dealerships

From speakers at NADA workshops to automotive manufacturers in trade publications to vendor product advertisements online, everyone is talking about how big data is changing the future of marketing in our industry. But most of the GMs I talk to aren’t nearly as concerned with the marketplace and the direction it’s taking, as they are with their business and where it’s going. They want to know two things—how can big data save me money and how can it sell more cars.

Do Better Things or Do Things Better?
Often automotive dealerships are focused on figuring out what is the latest and greatest, but the truth is, they often don’t need to do new things. They need to keep doing the same things better. GMs can use big data to ensure that the decisions they’re making are being driven by metrics instead of emotions and gut feelings. The key is to use big data to become more streamlined and effective, to incorporate it into everyday decisions, into every decision.

Biggest Data
A dealer’s number one source of big data is their DMS—and it’s also the most valuable. It can be used to identify:

• Inactive service customers
• Customers with service into sales opportunities
• Customers who can lower their payments
• Customers coming off warranties
• Customers coming off leases

But identifying customers and opportunities isn’t enough. Dealerships need to use big data to create big opportunities—or work with vendors who can help them do so. The data should serve as the foundation for a dealership’s strategic plan, driving all marketing decisions and directing future courses of action as well.

Dealing with Big Data
What data do you need? When do you need it? How do you get it? These are some of the questions you want to pose to you and your staff—or the vendors you work with. Just remember, data in a vacuum is meaningless. Simply gathering it is not an effective use of your time and money. Data needs to inform your decisions. It should be applied and integrated into your processes, procedures and plans. Especially your marketing.

Once it has been implemented, data should continue to be collected and studied so that it can be used to help determine what’s working and what isn’t; who it’s working with and who it’s not working with; and when it’s working and when it’s not working. Data has the potential to serve as a guide for continuous improvement.

A Measure of Success
When it comes to tracking the performance of your marketing efforts, there are many methods—including Google Analytics and partnering with vendors that offer robust data analytic programs. Keep in mind, data won’t tell you whether you should or should not be marketing, that’s a given. It will tell you how to be more effective by providing the information you need to answer critical questions such as:

• Do you need to beef up your SEM strategy?
• Increase your direct marketing campaigns?
• Work on your online presence and reputation?
• Take a multi-channel approach when communicating with your customers?

In the end, big data can save money and sell more cars, as long as you let it do the driving.

Russell Grant is Vice President of Sales at J&L Marketing and a Guest Expert contributor to the Up To Speed blog. Contact Russell at

To find out how NCM can help you manage your critical dealership data across your fixed, variable and DMS systems–even at multiple locations–visit to request a free online demo. 

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