COVID-19

Volkswagen hosting Joe Bonamassa livestream fundraiser benefitting out-of-work musicians

A livestream fundraising concert featuring Joe Bonamassa will be sponsored by Volkswagen and Fender.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

COVID-19 pandemicGuitar legend Joe Bonamassa spends months each year on the road touring but lately he's been at home, not playing gigs. He's not the only one. Musicians across the world are seeing their incomes slashed due to shelter in place and stay at home orders in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bonamassa's 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Keeping the Blues Alive has begun an emergency initiative aimed at helping musicians struggling to survive in the difficult economy. The Fueling Musicians Program provides financial assistance for essential living expenses along with pre-paid fuel cards to qualified musicians in need.

Volkswagen Fender Joe Bonamassa livestream fundraiser Bonamassa will bring his signature blues rock style to the livestream.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen and Fender have teamed up to support a livestream fundraising concert by Bonamassa benefiting the program.

"We are so excited to be working with Joe on this meaningful and entertaining live stream," said Saad Chehab, Senior Vice President, Volkswagen Brand Marketing. "When given the chance to support individuals in the music industry during this time, it felt like a true Drive Bigger moment that we wanted to be a part of."

Bonamassa began his career as a child prodigy, opening for B.B. King at the age of 12 playing a 1972 Fender Stratocaster he called "Rosie". That lead to even bigger gigs, playing on The Mickey Mouse Club in 1991, just a few years before Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Ryan Gosling, and Justin Timberlake made it to the clubhouse.

Over the next 30 years, his fame continued to grow, playing with Greg Allman, Jethro Tull, Eric Clapton, and Warren Haynes among others. The 43-year old has won a Blues Music Award and been nominated for a Grammy all while showcasing his signature blues rock style.

Volkswagen Fender Joe Bonamassa livestream fundraiser Fender audio systems are available throughout the Volkswagen lineup as premium upgrades.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

In addition to being an artist, Bonamassa is a collector, having amassed 1000 guitars and amplifiers according to a 2019 article on GuitarPlayer.com.

"My sincerest thanks and gratitude to both Volkswagen and Fender Premium Audio for their generous support of our Fueling Musicians Program," said Bonamassa. "Musicians have a tough road ahead and this will help them regroup until they can head out on the road again when everyone gets the green light."

To watch the event, visit the VW Facebook page here on Thursday, May 14 at 8 pm EST.

To donate to the Fueling Musicians Program or to complete an application for assistance, visit www.KTBA.org.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Bruce Pascal is one of the most devoted Hot Wheels collectors on the planet.

Photo courtesy of Bruce Pascal

The first Hot Wheels arrived in stores in 1968 and it wasn't long until they became the number one toy. Bruce Pascal was seven years old at the time and remembers the toy immediately becoming popular with his circle of friends.

"It's hard to explain the craze today, but Hot Wheels was huge. All of my friends were saving up to buy all the Hot Wheels they could," Pascal said.

While he was growing up, Pascal, like kids across the country, kept his Hot Wheels in a cigar box. As he grew up, the cigar box gathered more dust, sitting on a shelf for 30 years until Pascal rediscovered the collection in 1999.

Volkswagen Beach Bomb Hot Wheels The pink Volkswagen Beach Bomb is the most sought-after Hot Wheels car in the world. Photo courtesy of Bruce Pascal

"That excited feeling I had as a boy was rekindled instantly," said Pascal. "My friend offered to pay me $200 for the cigar box. I declined and held onto them, but it was his offer that made me start researching the value of Hot Wheels and pursuing collecting as an adult."

His search became a bit obsessive. Pascal began calling other collectors, taking out newspaper ads, and even used a 1969 telephone book of Mattel employees to see if any former workers had rare toys they would be willing to part with for a price. He collected everything he could, including Hot Wheels memorabilia like blueprints, original drawings, sales brochures, and wood models.

His collection grew from that cigar box to thousands of Hot Wheels. Yet Pascal was not satisfied. He still had not found the one Hot Wheels vehicle that was alluding him, the most valuable Volkswagen ever produced - the pink Volkswagen Beach Bomb prototype.

The model was a bit of a folly. When VW and Hot Wheels initially created it, the car's narrow body and surf boards out the back window made the vehicle unable to stay upright when rolled. So, it was redesigned and the sides became more weighted and the surfboards were moved to the sides of the vehicle. This was the model that made it into production. The Beach Bomb was sold with a sticker sheet of flowers to decorate the vehicle, an offering that was very of its time.

Volkswagen Beach Bomb Hot Wheels There are only two of the pink models in existence.Photo courtesy of Bruce Pascal

The original prototypes with the surfboards out the back window are extremely rare, as only Hot Wheels employees had access to them. Of these prototypes, the pink ones are the rarest of all. There are only two known to be in existence.

"I already had heard about [the Beach Bomb] in purple, green, red, light blue and gold. I even had heard about an unpainted model," said Pascal. "But pink was extremely hard to find. Most Hot Wheels models were marketed to young boys, who the brand assumed didn't want to play with pink. They created just a few pink [Beach Bomb] models to market to their female audience."

Eventually, Pascal networked his way into purchasing both pink Beach Bombs models. He has since sold one of them to another friend and collector, but the one that is in the best condition has stayed with him.

Today, Pascal owns over 4,000 Hot Wheels models and about 3,000 pieces of memorabilia, but the pink Volkswagen Beach Bomb remains his most prized possession.

"I won't say how much I purchased it for," said Pascal, "but it is worth an estimated $150,000 today."

To help prevent sun damage, the Beach Bomb remains in a dark, Plexiglass case. Pascal displays the model in his personal museum in Maryland, where he gives private tours to other Hot Wheels enthusiasts. He has also loaned the model out to other automotive museums and events for display.

"I want other people to experience the Beach Bomb. I've found so much joy in learning about classic cars and Hot Wheels, and I hope I can spark some of that in other people. It's a treasure to find these rare models," Pascal said.

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Archer Aviation wants to become the first all-electric airline.

Photo courtesy of Archer Aviation
CES is all about the technology of the future. The future of transportation may be all-electric airships. Archer Aviation, a Silicon Valley startup is partnering with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles for the manufacturing and production of its composite, electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. Production is set to kick off in 2023.

As part of the deal, Archer will benefit from FCA's positioning in the supply chain, advanced composite material capabilities, and design experience. The agreement accelerates Archer's timeline in development of the aircraft, which is set to be part of a fleet that makes the world's first all-electric airline.

Delta shouldn't be worried, however. The 100-percent electric aircrafts Archer will produce are designed to travel 60 miles at just 150 mph. Think of it as light rail for the sky.

"We've been hyper-focused on a customer-first approach to vehicle design and aircraft operations," said Brett Adcock, co-founder and co-CEO of Archer. "Now we are working with a seasoned, industry-leading automotive partner to leverage cost benefits and experience that will allow Archer to produce thousands of aircraft reliably and affordably every single year."

The first eVOTL aircraft from Archer will be publicly shown in early 2021. It will include cockpit design elements from FCA.

"Electrification within the transportation sector whether on roads or in the air is the future and with any new and rapidly developing technology, scale is important," said Doug Ostermann, vice president and head of global business development of FCA. "Our partnership with Archer has mutual benefits and will enable innovative, environmentally friendly transportation solutions to be brought to market at an accelerated pace.

"We are excited to team up with one of the world's largest automotive companies on our mission of advancing the benefits of sustainable air mobility," said Adam Goldstein, co-founder and co-CEO of Archer. "This is a first-of-its-kind deal for one of Detroit's Big Three automakers in moving into the urban air mobility space. There is now a clear path for Archer to bring mass production to this industry, changing the way people travel in and around cities forever."

Late last year, Lilium laid out plans to put an eVOTL-only airport in Orlando, Florida. At last year's CES Hyundai and Uber showcased the potential of an air taxi partnership.

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