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4/19/2006

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″.

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]

3/1/2005

2005 Geneva Auto Show

Filed under: — GM Guy @ 11:09 am

Life is full of strange quirks of circumstance and one of mine has been many times to be only a couple of days away from being in the same city as a major auto show. This has happened in New York, Chicago and the cruelest of all, Geneva. Five years ago I missed the opening of the 2000 Geneva Auto Show by three days. Of course I only had a little less than 24 hours to spend there, but looking at the posters for the show I certainly would have liked to have extended my stay and gone to the show. But as the Dread Pirate Roberts says to Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride, “get used to disappointment".

Well, it’s time for the Geneva show once again and you can see all the most relevant production and show introductions at AutoWeek’s show page. The selection tends to reinforce the change in direction for the industry that has already been seen at Los Angeles, Detroit and Chicago this year, that is, a new focus on passenger cars as opposed to SUVs, crossovers & trucks. Not that there aren’t still a lot of those coming down the pike, but it’s been years since our guys have paid much attention to sedans and coupes and it seems like all the European, Japanese and Korean automakers have been tripping all over themselves to get a truck or SUV launched in every size category. It’s so bad out here in So. Cal. that I see more trucks in Santa Monica than I did back in Tulsa!

Just a few thoughts on individual models:

Alpha Brera — This was a knockout show car a few years ago and the production version keeps much of the concept’s visual themes. Loses the V8 though, and in the process of going from a $100K sports car to a $35K hatch, much of the panache is missing, at least from the photos. Still handsome, I just miss the feeling of that beautiful concept vehicle. Doesn’t matter as we won’t be getting it here anytime soon, if at all.

Cadillac BLS — Big goal for a little car, “Revive the Cadillac brand in Europe". Not bad at all. Carries the new Caddy look down a size from the CTS and has a nicer interior to boot. Shares a platform with the SAAB 9/3 and Pontiac G6 and will be built in the SAAB factory in Trollhattan, Sweden. Like the Brera, we won’t be getting this one here either.

Honda Civic Concept — Wow! Very Japanese and very clean at the same time. If they build this, just like this, there won’t be any more complaints about boring looking Civic coupes.

Ferrari F430 Spider — Making its premiere at Geneva, and it looks great topless! Too bad it takes an income comparable to the economy of a small country to afford one. At least we can look.

Dodge Caliber — Want to know what the next Neon will become? Here it is. No more Neon sedan for Dodge, just this 5-door small crossover. Developed in concert with Mitsubishi, this platform will underpin the next Lancer, and if earlier reports are correct, the next Chrysler PT Cruiser will be based on it as well. (Wouldn’t you just hate to be on the design crew that has the task of redesigning the PT? How do you redo retro design that has no past presence? At least the next Mustang could possibly be a redo of the Mustang II — NOT!) The Caliber will help relaunch Dodge as a brand in Europe and will use Smart and Mercedes drive trains there.

BMW 7-Series — Hey! They toned down the bustle butt and cleaned up the front a bit. Take that Chris Bangle! Also made chassis upgrades and some interior changes as well, although you still have to suffer through the “I Drive” control interface. Too bad the Internet bubble popped in the late ’90s cause those guys & gals had lots of dough and really got off on all that computer interface stuff.

Audi RS4 — It’s a good thing for Audi that their new face looks better on the street than it does in these pics, and it does! Like the S4s before, this will be a screamer!

‘06 VW Passat — One step closer to Audi, both outside and in. More visual presence and a great interior, but what’s going on at VW? Doesn’t anyone learn the hard-knock lessons of GM on overlapping model proliferation?

Mazda MX5: 3rd Generation — Bigger all over and a much refined interior. The little roadster is losing some of its classic cuteness, but I guess we all have to grow up sometime, especially with the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky coming out in the same price range. Let the $20K roaster wars commence!

That’s all for now. There’s much more to see and read, so go over there and check out all the great photos and stories from this year’s Geneva show. (db)

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