Chrysler's Tom LaSorda webcast at 1:30 PM EST

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You too can front like you're a member of the press when Chrysler CEO and President, Tom LaSorda addresses questions from the seething throngs during a press conference today at 1:30 PM EST. Naturally, the topic of conversation will be the sale of Chrysler to Cerberus Capital Management. We're not entirely sure that anything new will be discussed, as the topic has been beaten into the ground after only one day, but regardless we'll pay rapt attention to the Mr. L. And since it'll be after noon, we might try to come up with a drinking game to make it more interesting.

Follow this link to watch the press conference live.

 

[via] Autoblog

Ford rollover settlement under re-review

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In 2002, Benetta Buell-Wilson was driving her 1997 Ford Explorer in Southern California when she swerved to avoid debris on the freeway. The high center of gravity of the SUV and the quick steering input caused the Explorer to roll four-and-a-half times, eventually coming to rest on its roof. The impact caused the roof to collapse, crushing Mrs. Buell-Wilson's neck and paralyzing her from the waist down. The subsequent lawsuit, claiming that Ford manufacturered a faulty roof, awarded her $369 million dollars, of which $246 million was classified as punitive damages. In the proceeding cases, that figure was cut down twice by a California state appeals court to $82.6 million.

On Monday, the Supreme Court ordered the state appeals court to review the decision, using the court's decision to overturn $79.5 million in punitive damages awarded during the highly-publicized tobacco case that was heard earlier this year. The rational being that the jury can punish a defendant only for the harm done to the plaintiff and not to the other people affected.

Ford claims that the roof was designed to meet federal safety standards and that no wrongdoing had taken place. This is one of many cases that Ford has had to defend over the past several years.

[Source: Bloomberg]

 

[via] Autoblog

eBay Find of the Day: Ed "Big Daddy" Roth's Honda CVCC

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Its amazing what a brush with fame will do for the most ordinary objects. Ed "Big Daddy" Roth was certainly an integral part of the hot-rodding scene, and he went from pinstriping to building full-on custom cars and back to striping as his career progressed. This little Honda was the perfect transportation, t-shirt sales shop, workbench and advertisment for a journeyman striper with a name that preceeded him. The history of this car is fascinating, though we have trouble thinking that it's $8,000 worth of interesting. The current owner apparently thinks the past of this vehicle is worthy of making it a museum piece, and the eBay post has a long-winded manifesto about how he'd like to see the car utilized after the sale. We love hotrodding and the history of the hobby, but we still find the valuation a little dubious. At least it stands a better chance of getting its final bid than the General Lee.

Thanks to Mike for the tip.

 

[via] Autoblog

Jeep employees pissed about Chrysler sale

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After months of speculation, the Chrysler sale happened without too much fanfare on Monday morning, as Cerberus came out as the top bidder, and several potential investors came away empty-handed. One of the few groups vying for control of Chrysler was its own employees, and Automotive News is reporting that those UAW members feel they never got a real chance.

Members of Toledo's Jeep plant tried to get together a bid for the beleaguered Chrysler group, but they felt as though the folks in Stuttgart and Auburn Hills stalled in order to keep the workers at bay. The members were also angered by Ron Gettlefinger's comments that the sale to Cerberus was "in the best interest of the membership" only a few weeks after stating that the UAW was opposed to any sale to a private equity group. President of the Chrysler Employee Buyout Committee (CEBC) Michele Mauder also criticized Daimler for basically paying $650 million to get out from under Chrysler's liabilities. CEBC claims that they aren't as upset by the fact that they didn't win the right to purchase Chrysler as they were that they never got a fair chance to bid.

[Source: Automotive News - sub. req'd]

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'30 Chevy to make Peking to Paris run

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Click image for gallery

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Peking to Paris Motor Challenge, an 8,000-mile road rally that takes participants from Beijing (née Peking) to the City of Lights. Over 130 vintage autos are set to participate in this year's event, and a 1930 Chevy fielded by an American duo is among them.

Ohio resident Dan Rensing purchased the car specifically for the event and set to work preparing it for the grueling marathon that it's going to face. He rebuilt the coupe's original 50-horsepower six-cylinder engine and made a host of other modifications such as upgrading the suspension, adding a supplemental fuel tank, installing GPS, and adding 12-volt electric to power the modern peripherals. Rensing will co-drive and navigate, leaving the primary driving tasks to Michele Shapiro, a 37-year-old new Yorker with a taste for adventure whose resume includes a win at the 2004 European Bullrun.

The antique 2-seater sporting the #34 on its flanks will be welcomed, hosted, and supported by the local Chevy organization in each country it traverses on the way to Paris. The whole thing gets underway on May 27.

[Source: GM]

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Win an iPod Video and Harman Kardon Drive + Play kit from Autoblog Latino

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Autoblog's all about giving away iPods, and our sister site, Autoblog Latino, wants to get in on the fun. For today only, you can win a black 30GB iPod Video and Harman Kardon Drive + Play kit from Autoblog Latino by visiting this post and leaving a comment. Don't you love how simple sweepstakes are on a blog? Only one comment/entry is allowed per person and the sweepstakes ends tonight, May 15th, at 11:59PM EST. A link to the official rules can be found here. Since summer is here and the open road has begun calling out to us all, we couldn't think of a more perfect prize as an iPod outfitted for your car with a Harman Kardon Drive + Play kit to get things rolling. So hurry over to Autoblog Latino to leave your comment and enter, as time is running out.

 

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Ford may drop Fiesta name for Genesis, Isis, Phoenix or Cuga?

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The Fiesta badge has been worn by small Fords the world over for more than 30 years, but it may not survive the arrival of the next-generation car according to reports. Apparently people inside Ford believe the new model is such a radical departure from the current model (shown above) that dropping the long-running moniker would be appropriate.

Just-auto.com reports that Ford has investigated three new names and registered a fourth. Genesis, Isis and Phoenix are already being checked for any prior claims by other companies. We suspect Hyundai might have something to say about who owns the "Genesis" badge. The name Cuga, meanwhile, has actually been registered by Ford, though we're not sure if it reserves the name for the new Fiesta or just to prevent other companies from using it and detracting from the Cougar name, which is also a revered name owned by Ford.

There are some inside Ford who believe the Fiesta name should be not so carelessly tossed aside. They make a good case, as the Fiesta name has earned a lot of credibility and cachet since it was first introduced in 1976. At the same time, the next-generation Fiesta will be the most global version of the car ever produced. The name Fiesta means very little to consumers in the U.S., and in fact, may remind some of the Festiva, which would be a bad thing. Either way, the next-gen Fiesta will be sold in the U.S. when it arrives in late 2009. Call it whatever you want, we just want to drive it.

[Source: just-auto.com, sub. req'd]

 

[via] Autoblog

Miami remains No. 1 city for road rage

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We used to think L.A. had the most incidents of road rage per mile in the country, but when visiting the city of Angels last November for the L.A. Auto Show were surprised that it wasn't as bad as we were expecting. That's probably because Miami, FL was rated as the city with the worst road rage in the country last year. Well, Florida's hottest destination for nightlife has again been named the city with the most road rage for the second year in a row. The road rage-rating survey that tracks these things was commissioned AutoVantage, a Connecticut-based auto club, and conducted by Prince Market Research.

The full list of worst road rage cities can be found after the jump, but the usual suspects are present and accounted for, including New York City, Boston, L.A. and Washington D.C. Only 25 major metropolitan cities were included in the survey, so while there was no check box for "Most Courteous", those at the bottom of the list should be considered the most stress free driving environments. Bringing up the back of the pack, and therefore the city with the least road rage, is Portland, Ore. Not surprising, since Portland has taken very progressive measures to reduce the amount of auto traffic in its city center.

Thanks for the tip, emulous1974!

[Source: Yahoo! News]

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LaSorda speaks: We're not breaking up the band!

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The newly minted Chrysler Corp. held its first press conference today and carryover CEO Tom LaSorda made it clear that all of Chrysler's brands will be kept together after the sale to Cerberus Capital Management goes through. Many have been wondering if Cerberus would pull an Edward Lewis à la Pretty Woman and break up the automaker, selling off its pieces for profit. LaSorda says that won't happen, and in addition his company and Daimler AG will continue to work together in areas such as hybrid technology and purchasing. One would also hope that work done to bring a small B-class car to Chrysler's product portfolio from Chinese automaker Chery is also intact.

LaSorda also said that the purchase will not be followed by more job cuts than were already planned. One job cut we speculate might be considered is LaSorda's own position as CEO of Chrysler Corp. We suspect he'll be given a year or two to improve Chrysler's standing, but ex-Chrysler wünderboy Wolfgang Bernhard is waiting unemployed in the wings. It's likely Bernhard couldn't be named CEO of Chrysler Corp. anyway until his noncompete clause with VW/Audi runs its course. Until that time, you can bet LaSorda will be working to prove his worth to the new suits in town from Cerberus.

[Source: Automotive News - sub. req'd]

 

[via] Autoblog

Autoblog Podcast #66

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The last couple of days, we've all been inundated with news of Chrysler's sale to Cerberus, and that's what we lead Podcast #66 with. As much as it makes analysts and pundits foam at the mouth, news about the sale is a pretty dry affair. We'll be keeping an eye on how things go with the newly independent Chrysler, though.

On a more amusing note, we marvel at the confidence GM has in its new Malibu. The suggested sales tactic is to put the new Malibu beside a Camry in Chevy showrooms and guide the customer through how the Malibu is better. Of course, it's mainly a sales stunt - as the only way to tell anything about a car is by driving it. We wonder if Malibus will start popping up in Toyota stores - it'd improve the scenery compared to all the Joe Camel-looking cars, that's for sure. Perhaps the most momentous item we cover this week is Autoblog's first purchased spy shots, capturing the new Honda Accord in the wild. On the spy shot tip, our discussion moves on to the Saab 9-3 and we eventually end up talking about cellphone shots of the Blue Devil. Betwixt the Saab and hot 'Vette, we briefly ponder why German companies are filling their trophy cases with engine awards. German Engineering, ja. We finish up with a simple request - that Motor Trend, Automobile and their sibling buff books be well treated by their new stewards, which devolves into a confessional about who bought a back issue on eBay that featured one of their favorite cars. It's a 36 minute affair this week, enjoy!


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The Commute Helper gets you into carpool lane for $10

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I have a brother who spends a good 50% of his time daydreaming about how to make money with inventions no one has thought of yet. Despite my protest that all the good stuff's been invented already, he continues to concoct imaginary money makers. I need to introduce my brother to this guy from San Francisco, who earns $100 to $300 a day from his invention.

This highly lucrative produce is his own ass, which he rents out to San Fran commuters who are willing to pay him to get a pass to drive in the car pool lane. The idea came to him when he was stuck in traffic one day watching people zip by in the far left lane. He decided to rent himself out for $10 to $20 a trip so that other people who didn't want to sit in traffic for two hours could bypass jams in the fast moving car pool lane.

The first time he walked out on to the freeway entrance with a sign that read, "Traffic is bad. Spend 2 hours or pay me $10 and get there in 20 minutes." It worked, and afterward he left his first paying customer, walked to the other side of the freeway, and caught a paying gig back to where he started. With business in full swing, he reportedly makes 2 to 3 roundtrips during the morning commute and 3 to 5 round trips during the evening rush, and if there's an accident that slows traffic even further, he may double his price. Genius, pure genius.

Thanks for the tip, Mike!

[Source: Personal Finance Advice]

 

[via] Autoblog

Thus spoke Bob: Lutz's interview on Autoline Detroit

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Remember when we told you that Autoline Detroit would be posting its interview with Bob Lutz online? While it's finally hit the web, and we have to say it was worth the wait. We specifically were interested in hearing Lutz's response to a question posed by GMInsideNews member Ming, who wanted to know what Bob's reaction was to the lukewarm reception of the Buick Supers (LaCrosse and Lucerne) in the states compared to the puddles of drool that formed next to the rear-wheel-drive, Zeta-based Buick Park Avenue shown at the Shanghai Auto Show.

Lutz explains that the Buick Supers amount to an additional trim level and new powertrain in the case of the LaCrosse. They were brought out just to generate some interest in Buick's sedans, which are midway through their product cycle. Concerning the rear-wheel-drive, Zeta-based Park Avenue, Lutz is quick to point out that it's not the "Chinese Park Avenue", but rather should be referred to as the "Holden Park Avenue". Apparently about four-years back, the current front-wheel-drive Lucerne and what would become the "Holden Park Avenue" were shown to dealers in the U.S. The dealers insisted they didn't need both sedans in the showroom, and the FWD Lucerne got the nod. Lutz leaves the door open for the Park Avenue being sold here in the U.S., however, saying that it could be imported and sold as Buick's flagship, something which the brand has gone without for some time.

Finally, Lutz also reveals that the SLS, or long-wheelbase Cadillac STS that will be sold in China is not coming to the U.S. Changes in side impact legislation have made it so that the SLS would need to be heavily reengineered to be sold in America, and there's not enough time left in the product cycle of the STS to cover the costs.

You can check out the complete interview by watching last week's episode of Autoline Detroit on the show's website. Some Mac owners, like myself, may have trouble viewing the video, and can listen to the interview by clicking here.

[Source: Autoline Detroit]

 

[via] Autoblog

Steve Saleen retires from Saleen Inc.

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Steve Saleen has announced his official retirement from Saleen, Inc., the company he founded 23 years ago that has grown into one of the best specialty vehicle manufacturers in the world. Apparently Steve is happy with the team he's assembled to manage the business in his place, and will be stepping back while maintaining a role as "corporate spokesperson and ambassador for the brand." We bet that job will come with a corner office, too.

Since he's still a major shareholder in the company, Saleen will have influence over product design, branding, marketing and other activities related to the biz, but there will certainly be a few more rounds of golf sneaked in between those boardroom meetings going forward.

His company seems to be doing well these days. The S7 in all its iterations is one of the most brutally fast vehicles in the world, and the company's many Mustangs are some of the best on the market (of which there are many). The Saleen Parnelli Jones Edition Mustang is our favorite Mustang on sale today, and the Heritage Edition promises to be nice a follow up. The company also has a nice business helping the OEMs build cars, having played a major part in the Ford GT's development and production. Word is Saleen will have new announcements about OEM partnerships in the near future, as well. Steve, however, may get to skip that press conference.

You can read Saleen's official press release after the jump, and we've included some of our fave Saleen galleries below.

Thanks for the tip, Dan!

[Source: Saleen Inc.]



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[via] Autoblog

Spy Shots: Jaguar XF production interior

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KGP Photographers have managed to snag an excellent spy shot revealing the production interior of the upcoming Jaguar XF sedan, aka Jaguar's Hail Mary pass, that's based on the C-XF (see gallery below).

Somehow the new interior manages to capture that old-world Jag style and combine it with modern design details. The dash is dominated by a horizontal band that's accented on the bottom by a strip of real wood trim. Above the wood we find the large, touchscreen navigation system flanked by a pair of large vents. The center console turns up and meets the horizontal cross section abruptly with a panel that appears to be trimmed in satin nickel that contains the CD player and HVAC controls. The driver's hand is obscuring what may be an iDrive-like controller, and there doesn't appear to be a proper "stick" popping up at all, which makes us wonder how you'll shift the XF out of Park. Once you're in Drive, however, those paddles on the steering wheel should make for some quick shifts.

The design overall certainly doesn't look ground breaking, just traditionally modern with its use of light beige leather, wood and satin nickel trim. Click the Read link to view the entire picture and make your own judgment.

[Source: LLN]

 

[via] Autoblog

Euro Speed - iPd V70 Stage III

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In the late 80s and early 90s, Volvos RWD cars were viewed as staid and bland, and didn't sell very well. The cars themselves are amazing - solid, durable, easy to maintain and modify for fun, but they lacked a broader appeal. On the flip side, Volvo's first-generation FWD sedans were a big hit for the company in the 90s and pulled it back from the brink. While the 850 brought some verve to the Gothenburg-based automaker's lineup, it retained many of the virtues that Volvophiles truly adore. The 850 was freshened into the S and V 70 in 1997, which was essentially an improved 850 with updated styling. Taken together, those in the know call these models the "870" cars; and they're a great entry to European sedans and wagons.

Right out of the box, a turbo 870 is a capable affair - the GLTs offer inconspicuous light-pressure turbocharging that acts like a gain pedal for the powertrain, while the Turbo and T5 models are snorty, sporty rides. Portland, Oregon based iPd has been in the business of supporting the Volvo habit for 40 years and they offer quite the upgrade path, should you get your hands on one of these fort svensk skönhet.

More after the jump, then check out Swedespeed's writeup by clicking the Read link.

[Source: Swedespeed]


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[via] Autoblog

Chrysler Corp. gives CAW written guarantee jobs are safe

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You didn't want to cross paths with Canadian Auto Workers President Buzz Hargrove on Monday after he found out that Chrysler had been sold to the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management. The CAW prez was absolutely livid, pissed even, that the CAW was never consulted, not even informally, about the deal.

Well, Chrysler Corp. CEO Tom LaSorda and Cerberus CEO Stephen Feinberg met with Hargrove today to smooth things over. They guaranteed Hargrove in writing that no Canadian auto worker jobs would be lost as a result of the sale. We think "as a result of the sale" is the key phrase in that sentence, as there are plenty of other reasons one could imagine for reducing a workforce: slow sales, high material costs, etc.

Nevertheless, it appears Cerberus isn't planning to come in and dramatically reduce Chrysler's CAW or UAW workforces. Hargrove sounded particularly pleased that Feinberg seemed to know what he was talking about and expressed his company was in it for the long haul.

[Source: Automotive News, sub. req'd]

 

[via] Autoblog