Weekend Driver’s in UTSanDiego Today … and online

The latest Weekend Driver column is in print today and online. Weekend Driver: Train stop to history is in your favorite formats. It’s a trip to the Dos Cabeza train station out in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Pick up a copy at a newsstand or enjoy online. The online version includes the directions and a link to a Google map with the location.

And be sure to check back in a couple of weeks; we’ll have an extended version here at weekenddriver.com.

Companies Back at SD Car Show

It looks like this weekend’s San Diego International Auto Show is going to once again fill up the Convention Center. Several manufacturers had cut back on so-called “second tier” shows like San Diego in recent years, due to the lousy economy.

Here’s the news release from the auto show…

Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi will be on the show floor for 2012 SDIAS

    SAN DIEGO, Calif., Dec. 1, 2011 – In a sign that the good times are returning for global automakers, the San Diego International Auto Show® announced that Mercedes-Benz USA and Mitsubishi Motors America will be exhibiting at this year’s auto show. The announcement was made by show director, Kevin Leap.
    “We are thrilled that these two automakers have chosen to return to the auto show,” said Leap. “It’s our goal to offer the widest variety of automobiles for our guests, and with the return of Mercedes-Benz and Mitsubishi, we are able to increase the shopping options for San Diegans across the entire price range of vehicles.”
    Leap also sees the return of the two automakers as a sign of the industry’s resurgence. “This points to a healthy auto industry,” said Leap, “and a healthy auto industry means a great deal to our local economy as it relates to jobs and capital infusion.”
    Also a gauge of industry health is the fact that Mitsubishi’s and Mercedes-Benz’s return is with the support of local dealers. In supporting the automakers, the dealers create opportunities for the carmakers while providing expanded vehicle choices for auto show attendees. “It’s a classic win-win,” said Leap. “And the beneficiary of this cooperation is the consumer.”

It’s always a fun show and a great way to spend the New Year’s weekend. I’ll be at the Union-Tribune booth from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday, so stop by and say hi. More info»

Frank Sinatra’s 1967 Austin London Taxi at the SD Auto Museum

Frank Sinatra's London taxi.
Frank Sinatra's London taxi.

There it is, holding a special place near the middle of the San Diego Auto Museum, Frank Sinatra’s 1967 Austin London taxi.  The museum even has a copy of the car’s registration with Ol’ Blue Eyes’ name on it.

The story goes that Frank used to dress up as a London cabdriver and pick up his Rat Pack pals — Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., et. al — at the Las Vegas airport. Apparently, Frank could slip in and out of the airport unnoticed.

It's Frank!
It's Frank!

The car appears to be in beautiful shape, with the updated look of the later, mid-60s taxis, with rounded headlight bezels, integrated grille and a bit more styling here and there.

The museum has a big Pontiac show going on, but the Sinatra taxi is part of its permanent collection of cars and motorcycles that’s on display no matter what show’s on. Enjoy!