'HotWheels' Blog


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8/12/2006

A Camaro For The 21st Century!

Filed under: — GM Guy @ 8:44 am

Over at GM’s FastLane blog, they have a special treat!

2009 Camaro

If you’re a Camaro enthusiast, you’re going to love this video. A couple of months ago, the blog team was able to get Tom Peters, lead designer of the Camaro, on video driving it for the first time.

The video is at YouTube – No smoky burnouts with this bazillion dollar show car/prototype, but the sound of that exhaust sure is sweet! Tom Peter’s commentary on the design and process of creating the new Camaro is not to be missed. Also, this week GM made it official – Camaro is a go for 2009!

Way to go, guys! Mustang needs a playmate!

7/13/2006

Chinese MGs Assembled In OK?

Filed under: — GM Guy @ 7:58 am

Wow! Take one abandoned British automotive icon, mix in a huge chunk of Chinese money and manufacturing expertise and shake, not stir, in an Oklahoma Indian tribe and what’ve you got? Well, maybe the next entry-level European sports car assembled in Ardmore, Oklahoma! From the Business section of today’s LA Times:

A struggling Chinese manufacturer, the remnants of a failed British automaker and an ambitious American Indian tribe plan to pool their resources to rescue the iconic MG sports car from the automotive junkyard.

A consortium led by Nanjing Automobile Group announced a $2-billion plan Wednesday to construct a state-of-the art production facility in China, reopen a shuttered MG factory in England and open an assembly plant and a distribution center in the small town of Ardmore, Okla.

If the Nanjing-led group succeeds in rolling out the MG TF coupe by the middle of 2008, it could enter the U.S. market ahead of larger Chinese rivals Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. and Chery Automobile Co.

So, what will OK get out of it?

The Chinese-led group also will create 500 jobs in a state that has been hit hard by restructuring in the auto industry. This year General Motors Corp. closed a plant in Oklahoma City that employed 2,400 people.
(…)
Amy Polonchek, executive director of the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, said the project was expected to deliver about $69 million in direct investment and generate $189 million in new economic activity.

And, why the Indian connection? What do the Chickasaws bring to the party?

The new MG team also is counting on additional help from the Chickasaws, a 38,000-member tribe based in Ada, Okla. Under federal law, Indian tribes are considered sovereign nations and are exempt from paying taxes. Hale said his group was researching ways that the MG operation could benefit financially from a partnership with the tribe.

“I can tell you, there may be some unique tax advantages there,” he said.

Some ol’ song – Money, money, money!

I always hated that the British car industry gave up and died. The cars weren’t very good, especially compared to the Japanese clones of the day, but they had something that car manufacturers are only recently understanding again – character.

They better imbibe this newest MG with tons of that – otherwise it’s just another Asian clone of something that wasn’t exactly great, but was unique and entertaining.

6/30/2006

Chrysler To Announce Challenger Is A Go!

Filed under: — GM Guy @ 8:34 am

Here’s a good one – Chrysler is green lighting the Dodge Challenger.

Chrysler to announce plans for new Challenger

The Chrysler division of DaimlerChrysler AG is expected to announce on Friday a new Dodge Challenger coupe styled and named after the automaker’s 1970s muscle car, The Wall Street Journal said.

The V8-powered Challenger won’t be sold until next year, but Chrysler will promote the car this summer to try to pull customers into showrooms, the newspaper said, citing people familiar with the company’s plans.

Chrysler’s announcement of the new Challenger tomorrow at a NASCAR race in Daytona Beach, Florida, was moved forward by several months in hopes it will create some buzz for the automaker, the newspaper’s sources said.

Just don’t try to drive one between two road-blocking bulldozers! (db)

[Chrysler, Dodge Challenger, Vanishing Point[/tags]

Can Ghosen and Kirkorian Save the General?

Filed under: — GM Guy @ 7:45 am

Or would this end up like Chrysler, with the biggest of the big three foreign owned. Either way, this is interesting! From Automotive News today: (registration req.)

Kerkorian proposes GM, Renault-Nissan alliance

Investor Kirk Kerkorian is advocating an alliance of General Motors and Renault-Nissan, according to a securities filing.

In the filing, Kerkorian says that the Renault-Nissan alliance is receptive to buying “a significant minority interest” in GM. The filing also says that Kerkorian’s investment company, Tracinda Corp., of Beverly Hills, Calif., has discussed the matter with Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault and Nissan.

Kerkorian, who controls 9.9 percent of GM stock, sent a letter to GM Chairman Rick Wagoner on Friday “in which Tracinda proposed that General Motors’ Board of Directors establish a committee to immediately and fully explore, together with management, a possible opportunity to join the partnership-alliance between Renault, S.A. and Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.,” the filing said.

Barbarians at the gate? Or, saviour on a white horse? Time will tell.

6/2/2006

Renting a Chevy Malibu in Oklahoma

Filed under: — GM Guy @ 1:59 pm

Last weekend I spent at least 6 1/2 hours in a Chevy Malibu rented from Hertz. Although a completely unremarkable car as far as looks are concerned – not ugly, not pretty, not designerly . . . just not much of anything, it did get me there and back without incident. But, for a rental, it’s not what’s on the outside that counts, so here goes.

I did like the power of the v6, and it seemed plenty smooth at 70 & 75 mph, the posted maximums on the rural OK 4-lanes and turnpikes. These aren’t the best surfaced highways on the planet, and the Malibu’s suspension seemed to soak up the bumps and many-times-repaired pavement plenty well, although there was a bit too much corkscrewing for my taste on the most severe surface level changes. Steering was direct and secure, just not super communicative. Brakes seemed OK, although I never had to really get on them very hard – actually I didn’t notice much about them so they are probably pretty good overall.

So it goes, rides and stops decently. What’s up? Well, although the gages themselves were well placed, look pretty cool and have good-contemporary-legible markings, the interior still feels plasticky and cheap, even though the car came well equipped with power windows and a power sunroof. The center stack laid out the radio and ac controls in an easily understood and useful manner, and the radio had XM, which kept me in touch with FoxNews all weekend. Screaming across the flatlands of northwestern Oklahoma listening to my favorite TV news shows, now that was cool. Gas mileage must have been pretty good – a rough estimate of miles driven and gas purchased puts it somewhere over 30 mpg.

Most major complaint was seating. The intrusive headrests are slanted forward slightly, and in a reverse of those on our Envoy, which are too far rearward to use as headrests, those on this Malibu cause you to have to bend your neck forward, or else recline the seat backs too far back in order to hold your head up straight. I finally had to do that and then pull the seat bottom forward one notch too far for leg comfort in order to comfortably reach the steering wheel. I would hate to have to live with that seating arrangement. After having some of the best, most comfortable seats in our ‘01 Bonneville SSEI, and decently comfortable seating in the Envoy, I was disappointed that GM let this much bad ergonomics exist in a mainstream mid-size, mid-price Chevy sedan.

Guess that’s why Toyota and Honda are still kicking the General’s butt! I give the Malibu a C+, mostly for the power of the engine and the mileage. The rest is too ugly and too uncomfortable for anything but a rental. Sad . . .

5/13/2006

Lamborghini Countach Wall Art

Filed under: — GM Guy @ 5:46 pm

Rich guys that love cars, and love art, have all the fun! Take for instance Richard Moriarty from Newport Beach, CA – his idea of decorating a wall might cause a few gasps when you first enter the room, but hey – we like it!

According to the LA Times today:

Getting the Lamborghini into the house took about an hour, but the project was conceived months ago, when architect Fleetwood Joiner began designing Moriarty’s new home, $2-million worth of steel-and-concrete that will overlook Newport’s Back Bay when construction finishes later this year.

“This was one of the original ideas for the house,” Joiner said. “The skylight was designed to fit the car.”

Joiner has installed offbeat elements in previous mansion projects — including indoor rifle ranges, bowling alleys and a 28-foot-high interior waterfall — but the Lamborghini is “one of a kind,” he said.

The car will hang over a solid glass staircase leading to Moriarty’s wine cellar. The car will also plug into the home’s electrical system so its inside lights can be switched on.

Read the whole thing and see more pics here.

Asked if he was satisfied with the mounted “art” Moriarty replied:

“I want to stencil some tire marks on the wall,” he said. “Seriously.”

Wow! What can we say?

5/7/2006

New Jeep Commander Reviewed

Filed under: — GM Guy @ 4:00 pm

Mark Tapscott reports on his test of the new 7-seat Jeep Commander on his blog, Tapscott Behind the Wheel, and guess what – he thinks that Jeep owners are going to like it!

My Commander Limited 4X4 tester was liberally equipped, with just about every option available short of the Hemi. At $41,530, the high-line Commander is a bit pricey, but Jeep fans tend to be extremely loyal. I think they’re going to like this one.


Visit Mark’s site
to see what “he” liked/disliked about it.

5/3/2006

New Xenon Body Kit for Chrysler 300, 300C & 300 SRT-8

Filed under: — GM Guy @ 5:21 pm

Just released and available from BTG Motoring is Xenon’s fantastic new body kit for the 300C. As you can see from these pics of Southern California 300C owner Dane Taylor, the designers and craftsmen at Xenon outdid themselves on this one!

Xenon 300C body kit

We know that Dane is totally stoked, because he told us so, and so will anyone that enhances the look of their 300C with this kit.

Xenon 300C body kit

Xenon offers these items: 300C replacement front fascia, a front air dam, rear window spoiler, rear deck spoiler, side skirts, hood scoop and a rear valence with dual exhaust openings, or you can get all these in 4, 5 and 6 piece body kits, depending upon what model of Chrysler 300 you have.

Chrysler 300 C xenon body kits

See them all at BTGMotoring.com.

4/19/2006

New S4/RS4 B7 Exhaust by LaBree Motorsports

Filed under: — GM Guy @ 1:01 pm

BTG Motoring is proud to announce the release of the latest/greatest T-304 stainless-steel exhaust systems for those performance beasts, the 2005.5 – 2006 Audi S4 & RS4 B7s.

LaBree Motorsports exhaust for the B7 Audis

What makes these so special is the attention to detail by LaBree, with all flanges machined flat out of 3/8″ cold roll steel to mate perfectly, even without gaskets, and the 2.5 inch mandrel-bent tubing is professionally TIG welded to the flanges on the inside which are then ported and polished for maximum flow with minimal turbulence.

LaBree machined flanges -- ported/polished for maximum flow

The level of LaBree’s craftsmanship can be seen in these downpipes:

LaBree Motorsports downpipes

Proud owner J. Giritlian already has his LaBree system installed and has sent pics to BTG. We know that he is styling and now we can’t wait for some sound clips and trap time results from him!

Audi B7 exhaust by LaBree

You can see the LaBree Motorsports downpipes and back/half muffler systems for Audi B7 at BTG Motoring’s special LaBree section. Don’t miss out on the special Group-Buy-Pricing that continues through April 30th or until the group-buy quantity runs out!

Classics For Charity XIII – Beverly Hills Cars Shine!

Filed under: — GM Guy @ 11:11 am

Yours truly was fortunate to have a good friend take him to this years Classics For Charity XIII car show and silent auction, put on by the Beverly Hills Education Foundation on April 9th to benefit public schools.
race Ferrari
Held at and around the Beverly Hills Mercedes dealership, the featured vehicles took up three large parking lots plus the entire dealership showroom with an awesome display of vintage iron, important race Ferraris and some really quirky stuff, from the Munster’s movie roadster to our Governator’s Hummer H1 with Terminator stickers. Oh yeah, Governor Schwarzenegger made his appearance along with entourage and some serious looking guys with big guns!
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Being hosted at a Mercedes dealer, especially one in Beverly Hills, it was not surprising to see all the great classic Three-Pointed-Stars on display.
Gullwing
Gullwing engine bay
Gullwing fitted luggage
You gotta love that fitted luggage! Then there was a fabulous 600 sedan. Check out one of the 60’s best interiors, a great place to take-care-of-business!
Mercedes 600 interior
Oh yeah – there was some impressive American iron there, too. Like this Chevy SS, along with GTOs, hot Ford Fairlanes and a stray Olds or two.
Chevy Chevelle SS convertible
A couple more shots of that Ferrari racer shown up top:
Ferrari race car
Ferrari race engine

One of the most amazing vehicles there was the 1925 Rolls-Royce Phantom | Aerodynamic Coupe by Jonckherre. It was in the showroom and I couldn’t get great pics of it, but those round doors, with opposite moving round glass, the looooooooong length and magnificent paint and chrome showed why it is a concours-winning showpiece!
1925 Rolls
1925 Rolls Phantom round doors
1925 Rolls Phantom
Can’t show them all here, but you can see more at the BTG Motoring image gallery. Just click on “Shows” then “BH Show ‘06″.

2/22/2006

The General Kills Off the Goat – Again!

Filed under: — GM Guy @ 11:11 am

[Originally posted at Okie on the Lam]

GM cancelles the GTO - Again
The decision by General Motors to cancel the Pontiac GTO after this current ‘06 model year pales in significance to other things going on around the world, but to old GM fans, like myself, it’s another sign that what was once the largest, most powerful corporation in the world, is on life-support – and as hard as it is to imagine, just might not make it. Automotive News had the announcement yesterday.

General Motors has told Pontiac dealers that it will discontinue the GTO coupe at the end of this model year. GM will make the last deliveries of the vehicle to dealers by the end of September, sources close to Pontiac say.
(…)
When Pontiac launched the GTO in 2003, it projected 18,000 annual sales. The vehicle was criticized for bland styling, and some fans of the original GTO complained that it lacked nostalgic styling cues.

A Pontiac spokesman confirms the GTO will be discontinued after the 2006 model year.


Eric Bryant at AutoBlog
expressed his feelings over the canceled GTO like this:

In this case, I feel a bit sorry for GM. It did exactly what its fans wanted it to - bring over one of the magnificent rear-wheel-drive Holden products from Australia. Pontiac never quite figured out the marketing, though; it was too expensive and sophisticated for the muscle-car crowd, too GM-ish to attract buyers away from other $35K coupes, and of course its bland styling was glaringly apparent to anyone who ever laid eyes on an ‘05 Mustang. Let’s not forget the nasty price-gouging that occurred early on, either.

I spent many an hour as a teen pouring over the wonderful Pontiac illustrations that made their mid-to-late-’60s catalogs so special, longing for a GTO in my driveway. I had a buddy with a ‘66, a classmate with a ‘67 – the closest that I came was a ‘67 Le Mans coupe, Sprint edition, with the rather outrageous overhead-cam six, floor-mounted shifter and a Rochester Quadra-Jet 4-barrel carb, (huge-monster secondaries!) – yeah, the same one I macked the big-white horse with.

2010 CamaroAll last year the General was saying that an ‘08 Goat would be coming, with all new (more GTO-esque) styling, based on the Zeta platform being developed by Holden in Australia, but in the same announcement as the cancellation of the ‘07 model, they seem to be backing off the launch of a new model – the weak US dollar a likely culprit.

There is no replacement coupe planned at this time and because of the strong Australian and weak U.S. dollar, the GTO had to be priced thousands over where GM originally wanted it – in the mid-twenties, the source says. “It never did as much volume as we had hoped,” the source says.

Pontiac is considering a replacement in the lineup for a RWD performance vehicle, but does not have anything to announce yet, Hopson says.

Zeta is supposed to spawn a new Camaro (red car above) for 2010 as well. With Chrysler doing so well with the 300C, Charger, Magnum and the upcoming Challenger, GM had better get its collective you-know-what together and join the rear-wheel-drive party before it’s all over – again.

2/12/2006

Whipple Superchargers for Ford 24V V-8 Have Arrived!

Filed under: — GM Guy @ 7:52 pm

Wow! What a lot of folks have been patiently waiting for has finally happened. Whipple Industries is now shipping their Intercooled Supercharger Kits for the Ford 24-valve 5.4 litre V-8 used in the 2004 - 2006 F-150, F-250 and Expedition. This is a monster-power-producing kit, that results in up to nearly 475hp and 550 lbs. of torque! That sounds like diesel torque numbers!

Whipple Supercharger Kits for Ford 24V 5.4 litre V-8s

These Whipple supercharger systems, co-developed with Ford Racing, come complete with massive air-to-water intercooler, Ford Racing flash tool, Ford Racing electric water pump, wind-tunnel tested cold air intake, 75mm MAF, high-flow big port intake manifold as well as all the necessary hardware for, according to Whipple, an easy do-it-yourself installation.

There are both black painted and kits with all the aluminum housings polished to a high luster available. Currently shipping are kits to fit the 2004 F-150, 2005-2006 F-150 and F-250 and the 2005-2006 Expedition. Now there just is no excuse for having an underpowered Ford truck!

See them all over at BTG Motoring.

1/12/2006

2006 Los Angeles Auto Show – New Camaro, Bugatti Veyron, Audi S8 & Much More!

Filed under: — GM Guy @ 3:00 pm

[To see all our ‘06 LA Auto Show pics, go to the BTG Motoring Website Gallery, click on “Shows” and then on “LA Auto Show 2006″.]

BTG Motoring went to the Greater Los Angeles 2006 Auto Show this week and if we didn’t get many of the latest and greatest concept vehicles that are showing up at the ‘06 Detroit Show as I write this, we did get a few. Like for instance, the Chevrolet Camaro Concept!


Check out that Camaro!. The Bow Tie Division of the General might have a winner on its hands if the boys in the big offices can figure out a business model that will let them do it. In the announcement of this important GM show car on their corporate blog, Fastlane, Vice Chairman Bob Lutz has this to say about the new Camaro:

If I had a dime for every time I’ve read the word “Camaro” in your comments on this blog in the past year, I could have financed the concept car out of my own pocket! And I would have… I like it that much.

If anything, it proves that we’ve been listening… to the rear-drive faithful… to the Camaro fanatics… and to those who say GM can’t do anything exciting. I think our design staff did a great job on the concept, which really demonstrates the renewed focus on design throughout GM.

We also got to see GM’s new big SUVs, the Chevy Tahoe, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade. Overall they are all nicer on the outside, but the big news for these land yachts are the interiors. Who would have ever thought that a Chevy dash would look like this? Or even that a Caddy Truck dash would look like this? Cadillac truck still sounds like an oxymoron, but the Escalade is an unqualified success, so there!, as my mother-in-law would say.

The Pontiac Solstice, one of the show’s darlings last year, showed up in GTP guise with a cute dual exhaust setup and 50% more horsepower via a turbo on the Ecotec DOHC 4-banger. Saturn had its Kappa sister car there as well, the Sky, but they weren’t letting anyone touch it this time.

Lutz has been blogging about this little Pontiac, too.

The GXP version is powered by a 2.0-liter turbo direct injection four that makes a quite enjoyable 260 horsepower (here’s where I’m forced to add the word “estimated” because the final numbers aren’t in yet — but that’s right in the ballpark), which is nearly 50 percent more than the current Solstice. Talk about having your cake and eating it too.

We like cake! However, all was not beauty and light at the GM displays. Buick had Lucernes with odd 3-color dash/door combinations that certainly wouldn’t make the cut at Lexus, which is the new Buick target. Caddy had the new Escalade – nice inside but tamer outside than before – and the “V” versions of the STS and XLR, which we saw there a year ago. The Hummer H1 has some interior upgrades, and then there’s Saab . . . yawn! You actually did get to sit in the Z06 Vette this year, which is pretty cool. Nothing new at Olds though - heh!

Audi had its uber-powered S8 on display in the most gorgeous dark gray-blue metallic color that you could imagine. Beautifully detailed both inside and out, it really made you want to scrounge up 120+ large and go motoring!

In the same hall, Hyundai of all companies had this Neos III concept crossover vehicle on their turntable.

Considering the source of this vehicle, it was quite amazing. The interior was stunning and most of the details were executed well. Only the grill area showed that it truly is a Korean car.

But, before I run out of steam, let’s look at the Bugatti Veyron.



$1.2 million retail price, over 1,000 hp, zero to 62 mph in just over 2 sec. and a top velocity of 253 miles per hour make this the Big Daddy Monster of this year’s show, or maybe any year’s show for that matter. That in the metal, or should we say carbon fiber, it’s more impressive than any photos that we have seen. Next to the Spykers and Bentleys, across from a gaggle of white Lamborghinis, the Veyron drew a consistent and admiring crowd.

Maserati had its 2005 Pininfarina Maserati Birdcage Concept. Out here in LA we usually get last year’s concepts, but still this was interesting to look at.

Another case in point is the Chrysler Firepower, which was at Detroit last year and we saw it at this year’s SEMA show in Vegas, but was still nice to see again. Much nicer inside and out than the Caddy XLR, this vehicle deserves to be built and sold!

And, Lexus had its LFA, which was also shown before at the ‘05 Detroit show.

This certainly isn’t your Uncle Ed’s VW Beetle!

Afraid that the ol’ digital ran through its batteries before we got to Ford/Lincoln/Mercury, but not much to see there. The Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan, and Lincoln Zephyr are pretty nice, with all being based on the Mazda 6 platform. Porsche had its new Cayman S and Audi finally has its own stretched version of the Touareg/Cayenne – the Q7.

Mercedes had the new S-class (sorry, no batteries!), and oddity of oddities, Dodge had all of its Chargers and Magnums locked up tight – no one could sit in any of them, although the Benzs next door were wide open for all to play with. Weird!

We enjoyed the show, but every year these things seem to be less and less exciting. I have a theory about that and it is: That we see all these new vehicles so many years in advance, that when they finally are real, it’s hard to care. The Camaro Concept was a complete surprise to me, and for that fact alone, was the most exciting vehicle at the show. How ’bout it guys and gals, let’s get back to being surprised and amazed a bit more in the future! Might just save your financial butts!

Concept Vehicles at the ‘06 LA Auto Show:

Chevrolet Camaro Concept
Chevrolet Cheyenne
Chrysler Firepower
Ford Fairlane
GM Sequel
Hyundai NEOS III
Jeep Gladiator
Jeep Hurricane
Lexus LF-A
Maserati Birdcage 75th
Mitsubishi Eclipse Ralliart
Saab 9-5 Aero BioPower Concept
Suzuki P.X.
Volkswagen GX3
Volvo 3CC

Production Debuts at the ‘06 LA Auto Show:

2006 Audi Q7
2006 BMW M6
2006 Bugatti Veyron
2007 Chevrolet Aveo Sedan
2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
2007 Chevrolet Tahoe
2007 Chevy Suburban
2006 Ferrari F430 Pista
2006 Fisker Latigo
2006 Fisker Tramonto
2007 GMC Yukon XL
2006 Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder
2006 Lotus Exige
2006 Maserati Quattroporte GT
2006 Maybach 57S
2007 Mazda CX-7
2007 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
2007 Pontiac Solstice GXP
2006 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S
2006 Porsche Cayman S
2006 Saab 9-3 20 Years Edition Aero Convertible
2007 Saleen S331
2006 Spyker C12 LaTurbie
2006 Spyker C8 Laviolette
2007 Toyota Yaris
2007 Volkswagen Eos
2006 Volkswagen GTI

[Cross posted at Okie on the Lam blog]

11/16/2005

AUTOart™ Accessories now at BTG Motoring

Filed under: — GM Guy @ 2:50 pm

All of us at BTGMotoring.com are super excited to be able to offer this beautiful line of automotive themed home, office & garage accessories. Now you can express your love of performance and racing cars with unique expressions of your personal enthusiasm.

High-style items made from stainless-steel, machined alloys and carbon fiber showcase masterful design.

Just in time for Christmas & Holiday giving, what better gift could you find for that automotive enthusiast on your list?

See the entire line of AUTOart™ Design here, at BTGMotoring.com.

8/9/2005

DaimlerChrysler Woes – Investigated in UN Oil for Food Scandal

Filed under: — GM Guy @ 2:11 pm

Business as usual in Germany? I think not.

FRANKFURT, GERMANY - In a nation where a handshake can launch a deal and business is considered a noble calling, scandals at some of Germany’s largest companies have brought embarrassment to a corporate culture proud of its honor system.

Allegations and admissions of bribery, corruption and misdeeds have surfaced at the highest levels of business at five of Germany’s blue-chip companies: BMW, Volkswagen, DaimlerChrysler, Infineon and Commerzbank. Several executives have resigned or been fired.

Some face criminal investigations.

If anyone noticed, it was announced over a week ago that the Chairman of DaimlerChrysler and head of the Mercedes Benz division of the company, Juergen Schrempp, was being replaced by Dieter Zetsche, who is currently running the Chrysler division here in the U.S. Forbes Europe also announced that former Zetsche-Chrysler-colleague, Wolfgang Bernhard, may be making his return to DaimlerChrysler. He was denied the job of head of the Mercedes car division last fall after tangling with Mr. Schrempp over funding of the failing Mitsubishi division of the company. Mitsubishi was subsequently left to dangle in the wind on its own, despite Schrempp’s failed attempts to funnel more cash into it.

DaimlerChrysler’s numbers have been terrible for several quarters, with the U.S. Chrysler division being the only bright light, mainly due to strong product such as the Chrysler 300, Dodge Magnum & new Charger, and the Hemi engine mystique promulgated across both car and truck lines. Zetsche is credited with keeping Chrysler U.S. focused despite the turmoil that ensued after the so-called “merger-of-equals” that resulted in control of the combined company going to Germany.

In the Aug. 15 issue of Business Week University of Chicago Graduate Business School Professor James Schrager discusses the future of DaimlerChrysler and answers the question: What about Mercedes?

Dieter [Zetsche] may be the one guy who can keep Chrysler and Mercedes together because he knows what it took to fix Chrysler, direct it, and what it’s going to take to keep it in good health. But he has bigger fish to fry – Mercedes.

He’s got to fix a series of unfortunate moves that Schrempp made: making small cars at small prices, diluting Mercedes’ image of exclusivity, performance, and prestige for the sake of volume. That’s a big problem.

Second on the agenda is making Mercedes cars the true world standard again. They need fewer electronics as well as better quality in Germany and to fix the U.S. plant in Alabama, where the M-Class is produced.

Zetsche needs more midsize and large cars. [Mercedes] is being attacked on all sides. Audi and Jaguar have fabulous all-alloy cars. They’ve been getting ahead while Schrempp was worried about boardroom fights over Mitsubishi and Smart.

When asked if the professor thought that the company should keep Chrysler or float it off as a separate company, his advise was:

I would get rid of Chrysler. The job of fixing Mercedes-Benz is so big and the boat anchor of Chrysler is so heavy that I’d try to float Chrysler on its own.

Know any car companies that desperately need some rear-wheel-drive hits like the Magnum and the 300? Yeah, me too, but that won’t happen. But as they say in the Ginsu knife commercials, “But wait! There’s More!”

LGF posts that the U.S. government is investigating DaimlerChrysler’s possible involvement in the U.N. Oil for Food Scandal.

FRANKFURT, Germany - DaimlerChrysler AG said Friday it is cooperating with the U.S. Justice Department, which is investigating claims that the company’s Mercedes Car Group may have paid bribes to foreign officials and that senior executives were aware of it.

When asked for a written statement regarding any participation in Saddam’s little side deals the company responded like this:

The German-American automaker said in a filing that the SEC had asked it for details on any role it may have had in the scandal-tainted program, set up to govern the sale of Iraqi oil under Saddam Hussein, and to see if the company had violated any provisions.

DaimlerChrysler spokesman Toni Melfi declined to comment Tuesday.

Makes you wonder if the changing of the guard at DaimlerChrysler is a result of these ongoing investigations. Makes me kinda glad that we bought a GMC instead of a Magnum!

7/6/2005

Coachbuilt Cars for a New Millennia

Filed under: — GM Guy @ 9:15 am

In the July issue of Motor Trend there is an interview with Henrik Fisker, designer of the BMW Z8 roadster, former director of advanced global design for Ford and former director of design at Aston Martin. Starting from Scratch introduces the new Fisker Coachbuild LLC – in Newport Beach, CA – where Henrick and business partner Bernhard Koehler, also formerly of BMW and Ford, are working toward a September 13th introduction at the Frankfort International Auto Show of their first limited production model.

Although many have tried, and mostly failed, to bring their own individual interpretations of amazing, beautiful automobiles to production status, we wish them well. With all the homogenized, everything-coming up-to-a-medium-high-standard of dullness by the major manufacturers – yes, even the Germans – it’s time for high-concept coachbuilt designs to be seen again.

6/15/2005

Happy 50 Years to Car and Driver Magazine

Filed under: — GM Guy @ 8:29 am

I’ve been having a great time reading the latest Car and Driver, their 50th Anniversary Issue, packed with 60 additional pages of reminicences and profiles of C/D writers, editors, photographers and artists who have made it the premiere automotive themed periodical of its time.

My first introduction to C/D was the August 1968 issue, and it was great! I had even started collecting back issues, filling in the years before 1968, while I still lived in Tulsa, and while I had “free” storage at my folk’s farm. But several moves getting ready to come out to Caleefornea, (sorry Arnold, you’ve had a rough 24!), caused all these to be given to the Coweta, OK public library. My next set of issues ended up being given to the Art Center College of Design library, when I made the move from Altedena to Santa Monica. Now, the recycle bin gets ‘em.

If you have any interest in cars or driving, I would urge you to pick up this one on the newstand while you can. I think I’ll keep mine around for a little while.

5/14/2005

BTG Motoring Adds Xenon Kits for 2005 Mustang

Filed under: — GM Guy @ 11:24 am

Our sister site and online store, BTG Motoring, has just added the complete line of 2005 Mustang Xenon body kits and GTS™ light covers for the 2005 Mustang and 2005 Mustang GT.

2005 Ford Mustang Xenon body kits

This is in addition to the great New Mustang Borla exhaust systems that we have been selling for some time.

If you have an ‘05 Mustang, check it out!

5/12/2005

GM’s Game Plan – Bob Lutz Reveals All . . . Well, Not Exactly.

Filed under: — GM Guy @ 3:15 pm

In his latest post at the GM blog, Fastlane, Vice Chairman Bob Lutz gives us as much information as possible in a frank look at the General’s upcoming game plan for getting out of its current troubles.

A good and fair question. Let’s start by saying there’s no magic bullet for our issues, at least none that we’ve uncovered. The truth is we’ve spelled out in several forums and in several media interviews what we intend to do to address the challenges we face. What we won’t tell you is exactly how we intend to do those things.

I can tell you this: First and foremost, our recovery is riding squarely on the back of our new product programs. There has never been a turnaround in this industry that didn’t happen because of hot-selling cars and trucks.

Fair enough. At least it’s clear that they understand that no amount of corporate money jockeying or aquisitions or sell-offs is going to fix GM. It’s all about the product! And we mean ALL about the product: the actual physical entitiy itself, the dealership experience, the warranty experience and the long-term service. But first, they do have to get the vehicles right.

My wife and I just “bought” an ‘05 Envoy, 2WD short wheelbase with the straight 6. Interesting SUV, great motor. We were able to buy instead of lease due to heavy incentives and a great interest rate from our federal credit union (cheaper payment than using the free GM money due to the additional $3K in rebate). Being able to get a total of eight grand off the MSRP on a vehicle that was manufactured less than three weeks before its purchase indicates that GM knows they are not pricing vehicles correctly. I hope that they figure this out fast, and fix it. What a marketing coup they would have if the Envoy would have stickered closer to what we actually paid for it!

Also great would be a no-haggle pricing policy for all GM brands, like now exists with Saturn. They almost lost the Envoy sale to a Chrysler Pacifica due to our LA CarMax dealer and its no-haggle policy. Most people just hate that part of car buying, and if you didn’t feel like you were getting hosed everytime you bought or leased a vehicle, I’m betting folks would be willing to do it more often. I know that we would.

The A3 – Audi Gets It Right!

Filed under: — GM Guy @ 8:56 am

Dan Neil’s “Highway One” column this week in the LA Times (reg. req.) reinforces this author’s opinion that Audi has a winner in its new A3 model, just released this month for the U.S. market.

Audi’s timing couldn’t be better. The German prestige brand is bringing the five-door hatchback version of the A3 — a compact premium car, for the purposes of pigeonholing — to the U.S. market just as our Rabelaisian appetites are starting to get the better of us.
(…)
The Europeans learned long ago not to measure prestige by the yard or ton. What I propose, in a time of general belt-tightening, is that there is a certain cachet in appropriateness.

The Audi A3 is everything you might want in a premium car, only less.

There’s lots between those opening and closing lines, so register (it’s free) and read it all. Congrats, Audi! A job well done. Ford has nothing like it . . . Poor old GM, this is what the G6 should have been.

BTG Motoring, for all your car, truck or SUV parts and accessories

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