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For hot and tender news wires on the car culture, see LA Car’s
Hot Wires

With Pontiac on the chopping block, is it time to start hording G8 GTs and Solstice Coupes?
Turning the new Mustang into a high plains drifter
Try your hand at fulfilling your wildest Mustang dream
Malibu Ferrari Enzo crasher Stefan Erikkson is back in the news
Steve Saleen steps up to the plate
Chrysler raises the ante in the incentive battle
Ford reintroduces the Model T




Is it time to grab a Solstice

for your collection?



With Pontiac on the Chopping Block, is it Time to Start Hording G8 GTs &
Solstice Coupes?

The official announcement of the death of Pontiac left enthusiasts weeping. The
storied brand which became ingrained in popular culture with the iconic Bandit
and KITT is being put to rest. That this is happening just after the G8 sedan
had been launched to glowing reviews from critics, and before the Solstice Coupe
had even arrived in showrooms., has left collectors wondering, is it time to
head down to the Pontiac showroom with checkbook in hand, ready to horde a new
Pontiac in the garage until Barrett-Jackson 2039?

Not so fast, says AutoTrader Classics General Manager Rob Huting. The G8 GT may
be a M5 for the budget-minded enthusiast, but with almost 12,000 having been
produced over two years, and without the iconic status afforded to better
recognized nameplates like the Corvette, don't expect to achieve a big payoff
three decades from now at auction time. The same goes for the Solstice, Sky, and
its Opel and Daewoo derivatives. While these cars may develop loyal fan
followings, and will certainly hold some value when they come up to the auction
block of the future, they won't ever become ultra-valuable. For the person
considering the automobile purely as an investment, a better bet would have been
Ford stock back in December than a new Solstice or G8 now.

Brian Gluckman,








I had the opportunity to check out  the new 2010 Mustang at the Forum in
Los Angeles, and a chance to ride shotgun with drifting champion Vaughn Gittin
Jr (JR). The new Mustang is a beautiful car, and Ford really put some time and
effort into building this new American Muscle car. The lines on the outside of
the vehicle are great, the power output and drivability of the Mustang gets
better with the 2010 model. Center stag at the Forum, however, is a Mustang
fixed up with a few goods from the Ford Motorsport department, bumping
horsepower up to around 450. This isn't some full blown race car. On the
contrary, you can go into your local Ford dealer and bolt on every part. Making
it even more appealing is that this is a legal street car. JR does an excellent
job of breaking me in. The amount of car control JR has in the vehicle is
amazing. Riding on the edge of where this shouldn't be happening with a quick
flick of the wrists and strategic trail braking the car is sideways at almost
100 mph. The whole time, JR is in control of the vehicle never fumbling, trying
to find a line or what he is supposed to do in the next corner coming up it felt
as if this was like second nature for him. He looks as calm and in control of
this Mustang like we would be driving at 35 on a normal street. I've got the bug
and can't wait for more. Stay tuned for more. In the meantime, you can visit for more
information about the new Mustang, including the aforementioned bolt-ons.

Editor’s note: Contributing Editor Greg Nakano is the Media Relations &
Special Projects Director for Advanced Engine Management (AEM)





Drifter Vaughn Gittin Jr.
fulfilling his dream in Japan



Try your hand at fulfilling your wildest Mustang dream

Hey. Mustang Sally. Do you have a Ford Mustang fantasy? How about recreating Frank Bullitt’s (Steve
McQueen’s) car chase through the streets of San Francisco in a 2010 Mustang GT? Or maybe driving
your new Mustang in an episode of Night Rider, along side the KITT Mustang? 

Ford Motor Company is giving consumers the opportunity to get in touch with
their 'Mustang side' through “The '10 Unleashed” campaign, part of its 2010 Ford
Mustang launch. Through August 15, 2009, consumers will have the opportunity of
living out their ultimate experience behind the wheel of a 2010 Ford Mustang –
whether drifting in Japan like world champion Vaughn Gittin, Jr. or customizing
a new Mustang using Ford Racing Performance Parts.

“During its 45 years, Mustang has touched people's lives in so many different
ways, and we've enjoyed hearing those stories leading up to the introduction of
the new 2010 Mustang” said Allison Revier, Ford Mustang brand manager. “Now,
it's time to look forward and create new stories to fill the next chapter in the
history book of America's favorite muscle car.”

Consumers are asked to submit their own Mustang dream experience in 250 words or
less via Ford's “The '10 Unleashed” site at Written
submissions will be judged based on creativity, uniqueness and execution of
idea. Winning submissions will be selected every few weeks, and winners will be
able to turn their Mustang experience into reality.

In all, Ford will have 10 once-in-a-lifetime experiences, some created by Ford
and some created by consumers. Recently, Ford Racing and Falken Tire Mustang
drift racer Vaughn Gittin, Jr. was selected to live out his ultimate experience
of traveling to Japan with a new 2010 Ford Mustang and experiencing his sport
amongst those that originated it on the streets and tracks all over the country.
Video documentaries of all Ford Mustang experiences can be seen at








the Ferrari Enzo that crashed in Malibu, bringing out the San Gabriel Valley
Transit Authority, two men identifying themselves as from Homeland Security, and
Stefan Erikkson claiming to be the passenger in the crash, resulting in a
manhunt for an alleged driver named Dietrich?

According to reports from the Associated Press, Erikkson has been
arrested in his home country on suspicion of theft, assault and extortion.

Stefan Eriksson was deported to Sweden last year after serving a prison sentence
in the United States, where he had pleaded no contest to charges of drunken
driving, embezzlement and illegal gun possession.

He became known as the “Ferrari Guy” after crashing a $1.5 million Ferrari Enzo
against a pole at 162 mph (260 kph) in the wealthy beach town of Malibu in 2006.

Swedish prosecutors now say he’s suspected on seven counts, including attempted
extortion and aggravated assault. The Uppsala district court granted a request
to keep him in jail pending an investigation.






SMS 570 



LA Car readers, this is not an April Fools joke: In
an unusual step, SMS Supercars Chairman and CEO, Steve M. Saleen, announced an
unusual measure today with regards to customer warranty on products of his
former company, Saleen, Inc.

Saleen Inc. announced it has ceased all operations, claims it has sold certain
assets to MJ Acquisitions, Inc, and has even changed its name. In a statement
made on March 6, 2009 to all Saleen dealers, MJ Acquisitions announced that
while “regrettably, Saleen, Inc. is unable to honor any warranties” MJ
Acquisitions will “not be responsible or obligated to cover warranties and/or
financial liabilities of Saleen, Inc.”

Said Steve Saleen “I was saddened about the way the current owners of the proud
company I founded, and which held onto my name after my departure two years ago,
have now dealt with my loyal and longtime customers.” Steve Saleen, who founded
Saleen over 25 years ago and who remained its CEO until 2006, left the company
completely in the spring of 2007. Since then Mr. Saleen has had no control of,
or operational role with, his former company, its operations or its current
shareholders, Hancock Park Associates.

Said Saleen, “The ones who have been left out in the cold are the loyal
customers of Saleen products. While my new company, SMS Supercars, has no legal
or moral obligation to take up any of the warranty claims against Saleen Inc. or
MJ Acquisitions, Inc., I would like to make a bold statement on the right way to
treat customers.”

“If any Saleen customer in the United States who purchased a Saleen Inc. product
up until February 2, 2009, has a warranty claim, they can directly contact my
new company, SMS Supercars” continued Mr. Saleen. “We will honor their
remaining warranties as if they were SMS Supercars warranties.” SMS Supercars'
warranty terms will apply.

“This unusual step in uncertain times is a measure to assure that my past and
future customers, as well as Saleen and Ford dealers around the United States,
continue to have faith in products bearing my name”, said Mr. Saleen, who went
on to say, “Customers who have bought a Saleen product in the past will receive
the attention and care they and the Saleen products deserve.”

“Despite claims from any other company”, continues Mr. Saleen, “SMS Supercars is
the only company that today offers products endorsed by Steve Saleen.”

SMS Supercars, based in Orange County, California, is a manufacturer of high-end
lifestyle performance vehicles. As his first new product, Steve Saleen launched
the new SMS 570 Challenger in Newport Beach, CA, on January 21, 2009. The world
premiere of the new SMS 570X Challenger is scheduled for April 9, 2009, at 1.30
pm on the New York International Auto Show.

Customers with warranty claims can contact the SMS Supercars warranty department
at (714) 400-2121, or visit








04/01/09–The marketing wars are heating up, and today unprecedented salvos are
being hurled to attract customers.

In January, Hyundai launched a program called “Hyundai Assurance.” It allows
customers to return a newly bought vehicle if they lose their job. No questions
asked. No ding to your credit score.

While industry sales have plunged this year, sales of the Korean automaker have

Then Ford came out with its “Ford Advantage Plan” which launches today. If you
buy a new Ford and lose your job, Ford will cover 12 months of payments.

Not to be outdone, General Motors responded with “GM Total Confidence” which
also kicks off today. That program provides its own form of unemployment
insurance that covers up to nine vehicle payments if you become unemployed.

Topping all of these programs, however, is Chrysler's offer, “We'll pay you to
buy our car.”

It includes $5,000 cash back on every vehicle Chrysler makes plus $100 per week
in groceries for up to two years if the buyer loses his or her job.

“We wanted to stand tall and show America that Chrysler will do whatever it
takes to prove it's a viable and competitive company” said Bob Nardelli,
Chrysler's CEO.

“There's never been a better time to be unemployed, and never a better time to
be unemployed in a new Chrysler, Dodge or Jeep.”

In announcing the Chrysler program, Nardelli explained he understands what it's
like to be without a job.

“I was unemployed after leaving General Electric, and I went out and bought a
new car.

“Then after leaving my next job, at Home Depot, I was unemployed before joining
Chrysler” he explained. “Again, I managed to get some new wheels – and this was
without any special incentive program.”

Nardelli said driving a new car or truck can increase job security and actually
help land a new job.

In other incentive news, Mitsubishi Motors reportedly is in discussions with
televangelist Benny Hinn to develop a marketing program supposedly richer than

A spokesman for Benny Hinn Ministries would neither confirm nor deny rumors
about a tie-in with Mitsubishi except to say, “As adherents of Prosperity
Gospel, we believe the more you give, the more you get. In this world as well as
the next, anything is possible.”








Ford Re-Introduces The Model T

04/01/09–The  gusher of surprising news out of Detroit continues today.

Ford Motor Company announced it is resurrecting one of the most venerated
nameplates in automotive history: the Model T.

“Ford is going back to its roots” said Alan Mulally, Ford Motor Company
president and CEO, at a news conference at Ford's headquarters in Dearborn, MI.

“Henry Ford's 1908 Model T was simple, affordable and reliable” said Mulally.
“Today, a century of innovation later, we are proud to say the founding
principles of the company have again become our guiding light, and the new Model
T will be priced under $6,000.”

As Mulally uttered those words, the audience of journalists gasped and then

The company said it has developed new engineering and manufacturing processes as
revolutionary as with the original Model T.

Like the original, the new Model T will feature a 2.9-liter, four-cylinder
engine and ride on narrow, 30-inch wheels.

“The large wheels and high ground clearance are exactly what America needs in
this time of crumbling roads and highways” said Elena Ford, great granddaughter
of Henry Ford and the company's Global Marketing Director.

She added, “Tata thinks it's revolutionizing auto manufacturing. Ha! After one
look at the new Model T, they'll be going back to the drawing board.”

Tata Motors has received extensive media coverage for its low-cost Nano, which
will be sold only India, the company's home market. A larger version destined
for Europe, the Nano Europa, was unveiled last month at the Geneva Motor Show,
also with a price of $6,000.

Last year, Tata bought from Ford the Jaguar and Land Rover brands. The
relationship between the two companies along with the same price for the Europa
and the Model T had led to speculation that Tata will build the Model T.

Mulally deflected questions about where the Model T will be built and whether
manufacturing will be outsourced.

“Production decisions have not been finalized” said Mulally. “However, we can
tell you that just like its namesake, the new Model T was developed by following
the principles of being Flexible, Economical, Durable and Simple – or FEDS.

“We're proud to say the FEDS are reengineering America's auto industry.”

Ford promises that its marketing for the Model T will be as radical as the
vehicle's design and manufacturing.

“The first Model T was so practical and economical, it literally sold itself”
said Jim Farley, Ford's Group Vice President, Marketing and Communications.

“In fact, Ford did not buy any advertising for the Model T between 1917 and
1923. We anticipate similar success. By not running commercials and ads, we'll
save $1,500 per vehicle, which we will pass on directly to our customers.”

Though the world may not see advertising for the Model T, Ford is planning for
high-visibility exposure for the car.

The car's public unveiling will be April 13, when President Obama will drive a
prototype of the Model T during the White House Easter Egg Roll, on the South
Lawn of the White House.

That will be followed by the Model T traveling to Capitol Hill, where a modern
ensemble of the Keystone Cops will pose for photographers.

“A hundred years ago, the Model T was the first world car” said Mulally. “Next
year it will be the newest world car, and we have no doubt the Model T will
again be the most popular car in the world.”







LA CarThat
was LA Car‘s subtitle when it started back in 1997. It’s original website
address was about five times the size of Since then, La Car
became LA Car. Its subtitle became
Reporting From Car Culture Ground Zero, then From The Heart of Car
, to today’s The Cars and Culture of Southern California. At
all times, however, we aimed to chronicle the Southland’s automotive spirit – much like
one’s own
journal or diary.

LA Car has always been a great source
to come back to from week-to-week, to see what articles and reviews have been
added to our rather staggering database. With Back Seat Driving, a.k.a.
BSD (note the similarity to two well-worn abbreviations, BS and BFD) and Hot
Wires – Hot & Tender News From the Car Culture
(co-located with Back Seat
, and updated at least daily),
we give you some reasons to
come back more often (all opinions, by the way, are those of the respective

So, go
ahead and bookmark We’ll be
sure to always provide a link to Hot Wires and the latest Back Seat
blog entry. In the meantime, welcome to the journal and journey from
the heart of the car culture. – Roy Nakano

Blog entries, click the following:

March 2009

February 2009

January 2009

December 2008

November 2008

October 2008

September 2008

August 2008

July 2008

June 2008

May 2008

April 2008

March 2008

February 2008

January 2008

December 2007

November 2007

October 2007

September 2007

August 2007

July 2007

June 2007

May 2007

April 2007

March 2007

February 2007

January 2007

December 2006

November 2006

October 2006

September 2006

August 2006

July 2006

June 2006

May 2006

April 2006

March 2006

February 2006

January 2006

December 2005

November 2005

October 2005

September 2005

August 2005

July 2005

June 2005

May 2005

April 2005

March 2005
February 2005

January 2005

December 2004

November 2004

October 2004

September 2004

August 2004

July 2004

June 2004

May 2004

April 2004

One Response to “BACK SEAT DRIVING – APRIL 2009”

  1. Hector Says:


    good info!…

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