Mecum

2013 Ford E350 Sportsmobile goes for $176,000 at Mecum's Houston auction

The Houston version of this year's Mecum Auction is where the Ford crossed the block.

Photo courtesy of Mecum Auctions
Overlanding is all the rage... but did you know it was this popular? Mecum held its annual classic and collection car auction in Houston last weekend resulting in $14.7 million in total overall sales including a number of popular off-roaders commanding top dollar.

Over the past eight weeks, Mecum has held six large-scale live actions around the country resulting in more Ethan 2,700 vehicles sold for a total of $75.5 million in overall sales and a sell-through rate of 83 percent. The Houston event contributed to 442 of the 2,700 vehicle sales.

The vehicles that commanded the top dollars in Houston included an antique truck, a vintage Land Rover Defender, and a number of exotics. But perhaps the biggest surprise of the weekend was the 2013 Ford E350 Sportsmobile (Lot S180), which went for $176,000.

Ford updated the Econoline for the 1992 model year. In its fourth generation, the Blue Oval offered the model in passenger and cargo van variants in addition to cutaway chassis configurations. Like Ford's pickup trucks, the vans were available in 150, 250, 350, 450, and 550 models. Three engines were originally available, a straight-six, V6, and V10. The For Transit replaced the Econoline in the company's lineup after 2015.

The just-sold E350 Sportsmobile has a 6.8-liter V10 engine under the hood that is paired with an automatic transmission. It has Dynatrac Pro Rock 60 front axles, Ranch XL 9000 shocks, Betts springs, an Atlas II gear-driven transfer case with 10 forward gears and two reverse gears, F550 rotors, and Warn premium hubs. The rig rides on 17-inch wheels wrapped in 33-inch tires.

Its body is blue and its interior is tan. The cabin also features a pop-up roof, sink, microwave, refrigerator, pantry, multiple screens, and a custom stereo system that can be connected to via HDMI and Bluetooth. There's also an outdoor shower and air compressor.

The van gets its power from a 46-gallon fuel tank and solar power connections. It also has a generator box.

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Domino's and Nuro announced their partnership in 2019 — and now the robots are hitting the roads.

Photo courtesy of Nuro

After announcing their partnership to work on pizza deliveries via self-driving robots in 2019, Dominos and Nuro have officially rolled out their technology to one part of town.

Beginning this week, if you place a prepaid order from Domino's in Woodland Heights (3209 Houston Ave.), you might have the option to have one of Nuro's R2 robot come to your door. This vehicle is the first do deliver completely autonomously without occupants with a regulatory approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to a news release.

"We're excited to continue innovating the delivery experience for Domino's customers by testing autonomous delivery with Nuro in Houston," says Dennis Maloney, Domino's senior vice president and chief innovation officer, in the release. "There is still so much for our brand to learn about the autonomous delivery space. This program will allow us to better understand how customers respond to the deliveries, how they interact with the robot and how it affects store operations."

Orders placed at select dates and times will have the option to be delivered autonomously. Photo courtesy of Nuro

Nuro Domino's delivery vehicle

The Nuro deliveries will be available on select days and times, and users will be able to opt for the autonomous deliveries when they make their prepaid orders online. They will then receive a code via text message to use on the robot to open the hatch to retrieve their order.

"Nuro's mission is to better everyday life through robotics. Now, for the first time, we're launching real world, autonomous deliveries with R2 and Domino's," says Dave Ferguson, Nuro co-founder and president, in the release. "We're excited to introduce our autonomous delivery bots to a select set of Domino's customers in Houston. We can't wait to see what they think."

California-based Nuro has launched a few delivery pilots in Houston over the past few years, including the first Nuro pilot program with Kroger in March 2019, grocery delivery from Walmart that was revealed in December 2019, and pharmacy delivery that launched last summer.

From being located in a state open to rolling out new AV regulations to Houston's diversity — both in its inhabitants to its roadways, the Bayou City stood out to Nuro, says Sola Lawal, product operations manager at Nuro.

"As a company, we tried to find a city that would allow us to test a number of different things to figure out what really works and who it works for," Lawal says on an episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "It's hard to find cities that are better than Houston at enabling that level of testing."

You can find out which self-driving vehicles are being tested in your neck of the woods by clicking here.


This article first appeared on AutomotiveMap's sister site InnovationMap.

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A new Texas-themed version of the Jeep Gladiator is on the way.

Photo courtesy of Stellantis

Jeep has brought the Gladiator's off-road chops to the trails of the Lone Star State. The 2021 Jeep Gladiator Texas Trail is another of the the traditional of special edition vehicles for Texans who occupy the nation's largest truck market. It's the first time Jeep has offered a unique-to-Texas truck.

The new model builds on the Gladiator Sport S trim adding 17-inch Mid-Gloss Back Aluminum wheels wrapped in 32-inch mud-terrain tires, four-wheel drive, standard side steps, and the Trailer Tow Group. The Gladiator Texas Trail has a unique hood and decals that feature the year 1836 in the graphic as a nod to the year of the Texas Declaration of Independence. It also wears a black hardtop, black leather seats embossed with the Texas Trail graphic and comes equipped with the Technology Group and Convenience Group packages.

2021 Jeep Gl The vehicle is ready to be fully accessorized to the buyer's wishes.Photo courtesy of Stellantis

2021 Jeep Gl

The Texas-themed model features the buyer's choice of Jeep's new 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine that's rated at 260 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque or the tried and true 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 power plant, which achieves 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque.

Jeep has badged each of the models with Trail Rated status. To achieve this status, Jeep vehicles must pass extreme off-road capability challenges.

The Gladiator Texas Trail is available in 10 colors: black, white, Snazzberry, Granite Crystal, Sarge, Nacho, Hydro Blue, Firecracker Red, Billet Silver, and Sting-Gray. Jeep recently introduced a Snazzberry-colored Wrangler.

Each Gladiator comes with the Jeep Wave customer service program, which includes three years of maintenance, 24/7 phone/online support, trip interruption/first-day loaner coverage, and VIP access to Jeep events.

The 2021 Jeep Gladiator Texas Trail has a starting MSRP of $40,435 (plus $1,495 destination) and is currently available at Texas dealers.

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