Automotive Landscape in North America and Chevrolet
The once almighty American car manufacturers, called once “The Big Three” started losing ground to Japanese and European car makers during the first oil crisis in the early seventies. Because, they failed to manufacture reliable and affordable fuel sipping compact cars. Chevrolet was a part of this shortcoming.
Times have changed and the Big Three do not rule the world of automotive any more. They are still very significant players though. General Motors (GM) and Chrysler underwent a bankruptcy process in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and had to restructure themselves partly with the money from the American and Canadian taxpayers. This was a bloody transformation with a lot of pain and tears. Tens of thousands of jobs disappeared, and tens of plants were closed down across North America.
Now things have settled. One outcome: you can now buy an American compact car comparable to a Corolla or Civic, if not better.
To get an idea about the new GM products, I drove a Chevrolet Cruze, provided by GM Canada for one week, and for nearly one thousand kilometers in Ontario and New York State.
A Quick Look at the Chevrolet Cruze
Chevrolet is the main brand of the GM group. To put it in figures: more than half of each vehicle GM sold worldwide in 2011 was a Chevrolet. And, out of 4,760,000 Chevys sold worldwide in 2010, 670,000 was a Chevrolet Cruze.
In the USA, In the first quarter of 2012 almost three of each vehicle GM sold was a Chevrolet.
Among other achievements in different countries, Chevrolet Cruze took top honors from the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) last year, winning the group’s coveted 2011 Canadian Car of the Year award.
The car’s overall impression is a huge improvement for Chevrolet considering the Cobalt, predecessor to the Chevrolet Cruze. The car is nicely designed inside and out. I shut the door and hearing the solid “thunk” gave me the first sign: GM takes it very seriously now. GM provides 160,000 kilometers of bumper to bumper warranty with a 5-year warranty for the power-train.
The materials and finishing inside and out of the Chevrolet Cruze feel solid. The legroom in the rear of the Chevrolet model is a bit tight and even with two “big boys” in the backseat, a long-distance trip to Miami would not be the most comfortable one in a compact car. The big trunk of the Chevrolet Cruze compensates that to a certain extent.
The total price for our test vehicle was $ 24, 975. This price includes a number of options like 6 speed automatic transmission, Bluetooth system, steering wheel audio controls, 16’’ alloy wheels, and destination charge.
The car I drove was the LT version with 1.4 liter 4-cylinder turbo engine delivering 138 HP and with the RS appearance package. This is an unusually small engine for a North American sedan and a Chevrolet. However, times have changed, and this engine pleasantly surprises you. It is powerful, yet reasonably fuel efficient. A Chevrolet Cruze is approximately 200 kg heavier than a comparable Civic. Chevrolet Cruze gives you a solid feeling on the road and the impression of driving a car in the midsize sedan category. And the downside is a higher average fuel consumption which was above 7 liters per 100 kilometers, although we cruised on the highway a lot. The optional 6-speed automatic transmission of the Chevrolet Cruze is a bit reluctant to downshift during acceleration for the sake of fuel economy.
Apart from my commutes within the GTA, I drove from Mississauga to Niagara on the Lake and then to Niagara Falls and down to Buffalo in New York State.
After crossing to the USA using the Rainbow Bridge, I drove some horrible sections with potholes of the 104 and the Rainbow Boulevard. This was good for my test drive since these rough surfaces added some color to the “background” and gave me a good idea about how the suspension of the Chevrolet Cruze communicates with the road. The suspension is a good compromise between tougher European and softer North American tuning. And I liked it.
With GM’s On Star service you can have your destination downloaded into your car with turn by turn directions in a matter of seconds. I tested the system several times and it works well and reliable. The people at the On Star Call Center were always friendly and ready to help. Only in Niagara Falls New York, we lost the connection twice despite the efforts of On Star people and had to use our backup device, a portable Garmin navigation.
About Buffalo, NY
Buffalo is the second most populous city in the state of New York, after New York City and the largest in Upstate New York. Buffalo itself has a population of 261,310 (2010 Census) and the Buffalo–Niagara–Cattaraugus Combined Statistical Area is home to 1,215,826 residents.
Once a vibrant, industrial location in the heart of the USA, this town is now part of the “Rustbelt”, the nickname for Midwestern and Northeastern United States, a large area which used to be the center of large scale industrial production. After several “boom” periods from the late-19th to the mid-20th century, cities in this area struggled to adapt to a variety of adverse economic conditions later in the 20th century, such as the movement of manufacturing facilities to the southeastern states with their lower labor costs, the rise of automation in industrial processes, a decreased need for labor in making steel products, and the deregulation of foreign trade policies. Places that struggled the most with these conditions soon encountered several difficulties in common, including population loss, depletion of local tax revenues, and chronic high unemployment.
Again, times have changed and Buffalo has to adapt itself to a new post-industrial era. To help to economic relief, a number of factory outlets attracts visitors not only from other parts of the state, but also from Canada.
A car means to me, like many others, travel. And travel makes you hungry especially when you sit behind the steering wheel for a couple of hours. Hunger also provokes you to discover new culinary tastes and places. With this in mind we visited Anchor Bar in Buffalo, the famous restaurant that (arguably) invented chicken wings.
Apart from delicious wings, you can listen to live jazz music on Thursdays (7 p.m.) and Saturdays (9 p.m.)
The place is vibrant and with its crowded and colorful halls, proudly presents the signatures of visitors from across the USA and other parts of the world.
For starters: A Buffalo wing, hot wing or wing is a chicken wing section (drumette or flat) that is traditionally deep-fried “unbreaded” and then coated in sauce. Classic Buffalo-style chicken wing sauce is composed of a vinegar-based cayenne pepper hot sauce and butter. Buffalo wings are traditionally served with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing. At Anchor, the portions are big and yummy. Only the garlic bread did not meet my expectations.Although I liked it very much, “suicidal” sauce is not bearable for everybody.
History of the Chicken Wing
There are four different legends about how Buffalo wings came to be.
- The first story is that Buffalo wings were first prepared at the Anchor Bar by Teressa Lenz, who owned the bar along with her husband Frank. Upon the unannounced, late-night arrival of their son, Dominic, with several of his friends from college, Teressa needed a fast and easy snack to present to her hungry guests. It was then that she came up with the idea of deep frying chicken wings (normally thrown away or reserved for stock) and tossing them in cayenne hot sauce. This is the story you can read in menu cards.
- A second version, as told by Dominic Lenz (Frank and Teressa’s son) to The New Yorker reporter Calvin Trillin in 1980, stated: “It was Friday night in the bar and since people were buying a lot of drinks he wanted to do something nice for them at midnight when the mostly Catholic patrons would be able to eat meat again.” He stated that it was his mother, Teressa, who came up with the idea of chicken wings.
- The third version of the origin involved a mis-delivery of wings instead of backs and necks for making the bar’s spaghetti sauce. Faced with this unexpected resource, Frank Lenz says that he asked Teressa to do something with them.
- The fourth version has nothing to do with the Lenz’s or the Anchor Bar. Calvin Trillin stated in his 1980 New Yorker article that a man named Daniel Gorsky also claimed credit for serving chicken wings in a special “mambo sauce”. Chicken wings in mambo sauce became the specialty at his Buffalo restaurant in the mid-1960s. Young had registered the name of his restaurant, Daniel Gorsky’s Wings ‘n Things, at the county courthouse before leaving Buffalo in 1970.
Whatever the true story is, it is worth visiting Anchor Bar to relieve your hunger when you are in Buffalo. Or, you simply plan a trip with yummy wings for your tummies as your ultimate destination.
And when you drive a Chevrolet Cruze, the trip will be exciting and enjoyable too.
For more information about the Chevrolet Cruze, including the latest specifications and pricing information: Visit: www.gm.ca
For more information about Anchor Bar, visit: www.anchorbar.com