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3/20/2005

Random Musings on New Stuff

Filed under: — GM Guy @ 7:44 pm

A week ago I saw my first Mercedes CLS on the street, and I have to say it was the most exciting vehicle that I have seen in a long time. Gliding past my position, it was super elegent, sexy, powerful looking - everything that a mid-60K priced sedan (sorry, 4-door coupe) should be.

At Autoweek.com, they have news of a 2008 Porsche Panamera, a four door “replacement” for the long gone 928. Not much is know about the actual architecture of this deviation from the current mid-rear engine placement line of Porsches, but it may share a rear-wheel-drive platform with a new VW sized between the Passat and Phaeton. Slated to have the V8 used in the Cayenne, this would be the next addition to the Porsche model mix after the Boxter Coupe and would be built alongside the Cayenne at the Lepzig factory in Germany. Go to Autoweek & check out the photo.

Not available online yet, the current issue of Road and Track magazine has an article on the special cars owned by Ralph Lauren, including the McLaren F1 and five other important, beautiful cars.

BTW, Ralph has three (3!) of them. I’ll wear my Polo shirts with a little more pride knowing my buying habits have supported his auto-art collection!

3/7/2005

5-Sec. Movie Winner

Filed under: — GM Guy @ 9:52 am

Cadillac has chosen the winner in it’s 5-Second Movie contest, and the winning flick is “Tuesday", a short (no kidding!) biographical film whose maker will now receive a new CTS/V for his effort.

You can see the four finalists, some of the other entries, and a very cool website here. Congratulations to the winner. I’m just a bit jealous of his prize!

3/4/2005

Cadillac BLS to Launch in a Year

Filed under: — GM Guy @ 3:05 pm

In his blog post today, A Cadillac for Europe, Bob Lutz announced that the new-small Cadillac, the BLS, will have its European launch within the year. Then he went on to make this statement:

This vehicle, the Cadillac BLS, is about bringing the right products to the right markets, and doing it effectively and efficiently. It was developed specifically for European roads and drivers, and, as such, is not intended for American needs or tastes.

Now I don’t know about where you live, but out here in Los Angeles the freeways are crawling with all manner of vehicles originally designed for the “European market", the BMW 3-series, the Audi A4, and soon the A3 series, VW Golf & Jetta, Acura TSX (originally the European Accord), some Smarts, and all the old 2002s, VW Beetles, Minis, et all. Sorry Bob, that statement just doesn’t make much sense. The reason that the import brands have been kicking the backsides of the domestic makers for years in cars (not in trucks until just recently) was because of the special characteristics their products had because they were “developed specifically for European roads and drivers” You new Cadillacs feel and drive the way they do because their ride & handling was finalized at the Nurburgring!

Even back in Tulsa, OK, over 20 years ago there were a lot of 3-series Bimmers, Bugs and the occasional Mini, so a recent phenomina this isn’t. What we suspect is that for the U.S., GM would like for Pontiac & Staurn to supply the smaller-sized high content vehicles with the new G6 and Aura and that the addition of the BLS to our market would put too much downward pricing pressure on these, or worse, would hinder Cadillac in its desire to continue its upmarket push.

Too bad for us. The BLS looks like a really neat vehicle. If it works well in Europe, maybe we’ll get it later.

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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