Auto Briefs

This 1950 Nash Healey with serial No. 1 took home the Chairman’s Award at the Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance in 2014.

Mercedes-Benz Dealers of America have agreed to make a sizable donation to families of the nine people killed June 17 at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

The nationwide group will contribute $100,000 to form a scholarship fund for the shooting victims’ family members. It’s one of the first organizations representing an auto manufacturer to present such a gift, according to backer and local dealer Baker Motor Company.

Tommy B. Baker, owner and president of the Charleston-based Mercedes-Benz dealership at Baker Motor Co., initiated the donation. The 13-member Mercedes-Benz Dealer Board — a directorate Baker once chaired — agreed to establish and contribute to the fund for families of parishioners who died in the church shooting. The $100,000 scholarship fund will serve the victims’ family members by furthering their education beyond high school.

A Mercedes-Benz dealer for the past 27 years, Baker wrote a letter last month to Mercedes-Benz Dealer Board Chairman Joseph Agresta.

Baker, in the letter, said, “We all know that Charleston has shown the United States and the rest of the world we are a united community with no racial divide. We should honor this spirit of compassion and community with a substantial donation.”

He “kindly” requested that the remaining balance of a “dealer action fund” totaling $91,496.55 be contributed as a scholarship fund for the victims’ family members. The board’s “yes” vote was unanimous. Baker personally contributed another $8,503.45 to increase the fund to an even $100,000.

Fund donations since 2011 on behalf of the 370 nationwide Mercedes-Benz dealers have gone to various charitable and community causes across the country.

“I want to personally thank every single Mercedes-Benz Dealer Board member and dealership throughout our country for making this happen,” said Baker, owner of Baker Motor Co. of Charleston, Mercedes-Benz of Mount Pleasant and Baker Buick GMC Cadillac.

“It has been incredible to see the outpouring of love that has kept our Charleston community strong. You all have made a lasting impact and positive influence on the city I call home, and I am forever thankful,” he said.

Those tiny cuts and breaks in your windshield may seem insignificant, but they can lead to more troublesome problems.

So say Safelite AutoGlass, which has a center in North Charleston; and the local Nationwide Sales Solutions office.

They’re sponsoring a free Windshield Chip Repair Day from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. July 18 at Nationwide Sales Solutions at 5081 Rivers Ave. Anyone who gets an insurance quote that day can receive the no-cost chip fix-it. The Nationwide sales solutions business is affiliated with Nationwide Insurance.

Safelite AutoGlass, which describes itself as the country’s largest provider of vehicle glass repair and replacement services, said the repairs take about 30 minutes to complete. They can be an option “for small chips and cracks up to six inches in length,” the company noted. “Chip damage can significantly weaken a windshield, but repairing the chip properly will make your windshield strong again,” according to Columbus, Ohio-based Safelite AutoGlass.

Founded 68 years ago, Safelite operates company stores and 5,000 MobileGlassShops for vehicle glass repair and replacement services in all 50 states.

Having already lined up car manufacturing sponsors, organizers of a major motoring show in the state’s southeastern corner have landed a notable auction company to showcase vintage autos worth as much as $425,000 and higher.

Auctions America signed on as the official auction house of the 2015 Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival & Concours d’Elegance, according to the festival. The Auburn, Ind., company will parade 100 “investment-grade vehicles” at its auction Oct. 31 at Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa.

According to the festival, Auctions America joins a select list of automotive companies to pick South Carolina for business expansion. Festival partners include BMW, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary of manufacturing in South Carolina; and Volvo, which disclosed it would build its first American manufacturing plant in Ridgeville in Berkeley County.

“With our world-class ports and competitive business environment, South Carolina has quickly become a top destination for companies in the automotive industry,” Gov. Nikki Haley said. “The Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival celebrates the diversity and heritage of this industry, and we welcome Auctions America to our state,” she said.

The Halloween bidding spectacle, according to Auctions America, will include a carefully curated collection of what the venture dubs “rare and important automobiles.”

The offering will span the spectrum of the market, from American classics to European sports cars. It will shine “a spotlight on a broad variety of automotive styling and engineering,” Auctions America says.

While the festival is months away, feature attractions for the auction will include a one-owner 1984 Ferrari 512 BBi driven just 3,000 kilometers (about 1,860 miles) and valued at $375,000-$425,000; and a 1957 Ford Thunderbird F-Code, “superbly restored to national prize-winning standards and loaded with factory accessories,” and priced at $175,000-$225,000.

“Whether you like to watch, bid or buy, there’s nothing quite as thrilling as a live collector car auction, and we expect the Auctions America event will be a highlight of this year’s festival,” said Carolyn Vanagel, the motoring event’s president. “With over 20,000 anticipated visitors and an amazing selection of cars guaranteed, we encourage collector car enthusiasts to make their attendance plans as early as possible,” she said.

The auction company likewise expects the festival to boost its standing.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival and Concours d’Elegance as we continue to expand our national footprint,” said Donnie Gould, president of Auctions America. It’s “certainly a hub for collector car enthusiasts.”

Auctions America’s events are held each year in such places as Auburn, Ind., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Santa Monica, Calif.; and now Hilton Head Island.

“This new sale will provide an exciting close to our 2015 season,” Gould said. Go to or call toll free 877-906-2437.

The auction isn’t the only new event this year for the motoring festival. According to organizers, the car extravaganza also will include:

- The first-time Flights & Fancy Aeroport Gala on Oct. 30, which also will have a preview of select auction vehicles.

- The Aero Expo on Oct. 31, to feature vintage aircraft “paired with Concours-caliber cars of the same era.”

The festival will celebrate its 14th year in the fall. It begins Oct. 23-25 with the Savannah Speed Classic on the Grand Prize of America road course, continuing Oct. 31-Nov. 1 at Port Royal Golf Club in Hilton Head Island. The finale will be the Sunday Concours d’Elegance. For more, visit

The company formerly known as Zodiac recently teamed up with a major Gulf Coast boat seller while also naming new vice presidents and managers.

Summerville-based Z Marine of North America is a subsidiary of Z Marine SAS, the world’s largest manufacturer of rigid inflatable boats (RIBs), inflatable boats, life rafts and safety equipment and the world’s oldest inflatables builder.

Z Marine expanded its dealer network by adding Legendary Marine, considered the largest dealer on the Gulf Coast.

Legendary, named North America’s No. 1 Boat Dealer in 2012 by Boating Industry magazine, has locations in Destin, Fort Walton Beach and Panama City Beach in Florida; and at Gulf Shores in Alabama.

“We feel adding this brand to our product lineup complements our current offerings,” said Shawn Talpey, the dealer’s general manager. “In the few months we have been a Zodiac dealer, we have already received an incredible amount of interest with several deals closed,” he said.

“Adding Legendary Marine to our growing dealer network is something we’re extremely excited about,” Z Marine North America President Gary Durnan said. ”These market locations and knowledgeable staff will help expand our brand in these areas, and we look forward to growing our partnership.”

Separately, Z Marine of North America made three new appointments at its Dorchester County headquarters.

- Alan Brocious was named vice president of production/service. He is responsible for model production, which consists of overseeing the rigging, warranty and customer service departments. A 28-year veteran with the company, Brocious previously was national sales manager and warranty/service manager.

- Richard Meister signed on as the company’s new technical support manager. His duties include support of both the inflatable boats and life rafts, including service instruction. He joins Z Marine after working at boat dealers.

- Katie Callahan has been named parts and accessories sales coordinator. She assists customers with purchases, order processing and shipping and also works with company sales representatives and the dealer network to make sure they have up-to-date marketing resources and pricing available.

“Z Marine North America plans to continue to meet the ever growing demand for RIB products produced in the USA with our solid staff,” Durnan said.

For more information, visit