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Published on Fri, Oct 1, 2004

By: The LACar Editorial Staff




Howard Stern's Move to Satellite Radio May Improve Car Sales

Old Mobil Gas Sign

Prior to this month, satellite radio's Sirius Radio was on the verge of obscurity. At the end of last year, XM Radio, the dominant player in the satellite radio field, carried about five times as many subscribers than Sirius Radio.  Then, on October 6th, radio mega-personality Howard Stern announced that he was moving to Sirius Radio, beginning in January of 2006. All of a sudden, Sirius Radio was back in the ballgame. The announcement resulted in an immediate bump in Sirius Radio subscriptions - rising to 700,000.  Following the Stern announcement, on October 18th, Ford Motor Company announced that it will offer Sirius Radio as a factory-installed option in 20 Ford, Mercury and Lincoln models - starting as early as mid-2005. Certainly, the deal between Ford and Sirius has been in the works for months, but the Stern announcement earlier in the month may have accelerated the deal.  While Stern's move to satellite radio has the industry buzzing about a brighter future for FCC regulations-free Sirius Radio, the move could also have the collateral impact of increasing Sirius-equipped car sales over non-Sirius-equipped cars. Stern's listener base is estimated to number 12 million, and believed to be fiercely loyal. Even if a small fraction of the 12 million make the move to pay $12.95 per month for a Sirius subscription, it can result in increased sales for certain cars. More specifically, if a fiercely loyal Stern listener is trying to choose between an XM Radio-equipped GM Sierra pickup versus a Sirius Radio-equipped Ford F-150, Ford is hoping that the Sirius option will make a difference.  Stern's move to Sirius can also have the collateral effect of increasing car manufacturer involvement into the Sirius fold. If this happens, it can have an even broader impact on car sales. Presently, Sirius Radio is available in one form or another in new Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, Nissan, Volkswagen, and Volvo vehicles. XM Radio's manufacturer partnerships include Acura, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Honda, Infiniti, Isuzu, Nissan, Pontiac, Saab, Scion, and Toyota.      Only time will tell what kind of impact Stern will have on car sales. One thing is certain: Satellite radio now looms a whole lot brighter on the consumer radar screen - and car radio listeners have a serious reason to choose Sirius Radio. - RN      Comment on this blog: Letter to the Editor.




THE ANAHEIM SHOW ROCKS October 29, 2004 The California International Auto Show (CIAS) in Anaheim, California started out as a small-scale, dealer-organized show to help move some car sales in the local Orange County and Long Beach communities. Over the years, the CIAS grew and grew, but worldwide introductions of automobiles were always few and far between. This year, the CIAS went through a major morph for the better: Three worldwide production model introductions, four North American production model introductions, one USA production model introduction, sneak previews of several SEMA show vehicles, a sneak preview of a North American production model, and one North American concept car debut. 

GM's Bob Lutz introduces the 400hp 2005 GTO    What happened to cause all this commotion in Anaheim? To paraphrase the Presidential politics, the CIAS is simply the right show at the right place at the right time. As the first auto show of the model year, the CIAS is held at the most ideal time - i.e., to coincide with most of the year's new car introductions. Moveover, the show is held in a top-notch venue - the recently remodeled and expanded Anaheim Convention Center. Last but not least, it's held in the center of the automotive design community. With all this going for it, it was just a matter of time before the CIAS hit critical mass. - RN For more information on the show, see Scenes From the 2005 California International Auto Show. Your LA Car Blog comments can be sent to : Letter to the Editor.




Samuel Tilley Goes To Court; Breaks His Silence

Old Mobil Gas Sign

Remember the motorcyclist that was ticketed for going 205 mph in Wabasha County, Minnesota (LA Car Blog, September 27, 2004)? It was the talk of the cycle world last month - mainly because experts doubt that the cyclist could have gone that fast in his 2002 Honda RC51. State patrol helicopter pilot Al Loney clocked 20-year-old Samuel Armstrong Tilley doing a quarter mile in 4.39 seconds. Yesterday, Tilley, accompanied by his father, Dean Tilley, a patrol sergeant for the Washington County Sheriff's Office, met with Wabasha County Attorney Jim Nordstrom to discuss a possible plea bargain. After the Tilleys left the courthouse, the Star Tribune of Minneapolis asked if he had any comment on the meeting, Samuel Tilley replied: "Not right now." "I'm sure he wanted to give it some thought," Nordstrom told the Tribune after the session, during which Tilley entered a plea of not guilty to charges of going 140 mph over the speed limit, failure to carry a motorcycle endorsement and reckless driving. Nordstrom also informed the Tribune he isn't concerned by recent reports that Tilley's motorcycle could not have gone 205 mph. The prosecutor said he has worked with the State Patrol pilot who clocked Tilley, and respects his professional skills. "If he says that's the speed he was going, I believe him." A few days ago, Tilley broke his silence on the incident. According to Tribune, Tilley gave an interview for an upcoming issue of Midwest Quick Throttle magazine. The Tribune spoke with Scotte Ard, the story writer for Quick Throttle.  Tilley says in the interview that he's not sure exactly how fast he was going because he was watching the road and another rider who was nearby, according to Ard. The other rider was ticketed for going 111 mph. "He doesn't know how he could have been going 205 miles per hour, especially when the guy he was with was going 111," says Pat Andrews, the editor for Quick Throttle.

The Tribune reports that Tilley told Quick Throttle that tests conducted recently at Hitman Motor Sports in White Bear Lake revealed his bike's top speed to be 159 mph. "You strap the bike down and power it up," Andrews is reported to have said. "You check horse power, power curve and max speed on it. It doesn't lie."

Andrews told the Tribune that Tilley has been embarrassed by the notoriety of his ticket. "He doesn't want to be known as the person who was giving motorcyclists a bad name, or causing insurance rates to go up or even being a reckless individual." Tilley showed up at Yarusso Bros. Italian Restaurant in St. Paul on the restaurant's "bike night" earlier this month to sign T-shirts, Andrews said. The money raised was sent to Gillette Children's Hospital.

"He was the belle of the ball," said Ard. "Every rider there wanted to speak with Sam Tilley."

Tilley is due back in Wabasha County court on December 22 for a pretrial conference. 

Comment on this blog: Letter to the Editor.



DRIVER TRIES STRIPTEASE TO AVOID TICKET October 25, 2004 Here's one they forgot to include in the "How To Avoid A Traffic Ticket" manual.  According to our colleagues over at the Associated Press, a woman in Tallinnn, Estonia was pulled over by police on suspicion of driving while drunk. In order to try to avoid getting a traffic citation, she performed an impromptu striptease that was captured on police video. Tallinn police spokeswoman Jana Zdanovits told the AP that the woman, who was not identified, was pulled over in the capital's Mustamae area. Zdanovits said that after the woman took, and failed, a breathalyzer test, she suddenly bared her breasts to the two officers. The police spokeswoman confirmed a tabloid report that the woman then offered the pair of officers a private performance. Zdanovits said a police camera caught the incident on tape. The woman faces charges of drunk driving. If found guilty, she could be fined $478 and lose her license.  The average monthly salary in Estonia is around $519. According to the AP, drunk driving is a major problem in Estonia, where the average half-liter bottle of vodka can be bought for $4 and hard liquor is sold in convenience stories. 

Your LA Car Blog comments can be sent to : Letter to the Editor.




STUDY LINKS TRAFFIC JAMS AND HEART ATTACKS October 22, 2004 In a study that gives new meaning to the concept of a "killer commute," researchers have concluded that people caught in traffic are three times more likely to suffer a heart attack within the hour than those who aren't tied up on the road, reports Greg Frost of Reuters. "A study of hundreds of heart attacks in southern Germany published in The New England Journal of Medicine's Thursday edition found nearly one in 12 attacks was linked to traffic," says Frost. Traffic jams were more likely to take a toll on women and on people 60 and older, according to the study. Whether the excess heart attacks were due to stress or exposure to vehicle pollution isn't known, however. "Given our current knowledge, it is impossible to determine the relative contribution of risk factors such as stress and traffic-related air pollution," said the research team, led by Annette Peters of the National Research Center for Environment and Health in Neuherberg. Nevertheless, because air pollution is known to increase the probability of a heart attack, they said, people already at risk for heart problems "are likely to profit from recent efforts to improve the air quality in urban areas with the use of cleaner vehicles and improved city planning." The southern Germany study was based on interviews with 691 volunteers who survived a heart attack from 1999 to 2001. The patients were asked to outline their activities during the four days before their attacks. Traffic posed a risk regardless of the mode of transportation. Heart attacks were 2.6 times more common for people stuck in cars, 3.1 times higher for people stalled in traffic while taking public transportation, and 3.9 times greater for those jammed up while on a bicycle. "Because the association was also observed for persons who used public transportation, it is unlikely that the effect is entirely attributable to the stress linked with driving a car," the Peters team said.  "Germany's roadways generally do not have speed limits but traffic can often grind to a halt after an accident or during vacation times, and traffic jams can leave motorists stranded for hours," says Frost. 

Your LA Car Blog comments can be sent to : Letter to the Editor.




RIDERS ON THE STORM October 20, 2004 Why Don't L.A. Drivers Know How To Drive In The Rain? That's what out-of-towners ask about Los Angelinos. As the popular notion goes, LA drivers are so used to driving in dry weather, that the first rains always result in an abundance of accidents. Transportation experts, on the other hand, say that the roads in LA are more dangerous during first rains because the year-round dry weather means more accumulated oil and grease on the roads. In other parts of the country, periodic rain allows the oil and grease to wash off, thereby never allowing the dangerous build-up of LA roads.  Whether you want to blame the drivers or the weather, the Automobile Club of Southern California offers LA drivers some tips on how to drive during rain storms. "Most crashes are preventable if motorists pay extra attention," says Steve Mazor, principal automotive engineer. "Reduced visibility and slick surfaces mean that motorists will need to modify their normal-weather driving habits." To avoid crashes, the Auto Club makes the following recommendations for safer driving: Slow down. Motorists should drive slowly, particularly through puddles. Hitting several inches of water at high speeds can cause a driver to lose control of the car. Fast driving through puddles may also push or splash water into the engine and cause it to stall. Driving at slower speeds helps drivers be prepared for sudden stops due to disabled cars, debris, and other hazards associated with wet-weather driving. Keep your distance. A car needs two-to-three times more stopping distance on wet pavement, so allow extra following distance between cars. If the car skids and control is lost, do not slam on the brakes. Instead apply the brakes with a steady, light but firm pressure. Remember to steer in the direction the car is sliding. When traction is regained, steering control will return. For cars equipped with anti-lock brakes, drivers should apply heavy steady pressure, but not pump the brakes. Use the center lanes. When driving during heavy rain, use center lanes of the road (without straddling the yellow line). Avoid outside lanes where water collects at curbside. Avoid distractions. Motorists are advised to minimize eating, drinking, cellular phone use, tuning stereo or applying makeup while driving, particularly in the rain. If it's necessary to engage in these activities, pull over and stop in a safe place. Stay informed. Tune into radio and television weather reports to know where flood warning areas or traffic congestion might be located. If possible, avoid these areas. Car maintenance: Car maintenance needs increase during wet weather. Motorists are advised to follow this checklist: Check brakes periodically. After driving through a puddle, check that brakes are working properly by tapping them gently a few times. Use headlights and windshield defroster. Driving in the rain means reduced visibility. The Auto Club recommends that motorists turn on the vehicle's headlights so they can see and be seen. Turning on the defroster helps keep the inside of the windshield clear of moisture. Check tires. Make sure tires are in good condition and are at the recommended inflation level. Driving with bald tires on a slippery surface is a major factor in skidding. Tires should have at least 1/32nd of an inch tread depth at any two adjacent grooves, the minimum allowable by law. Driving on tires that are over-inflated or under-inflated is also extremely dangerous on wet pavement. Make sure windshield wiper blades are in good condition. Streaks or skipping on the vehicle's windshield are signs of worn wiper blades. Inspect wipers once a month and check washer solvent reservoir to ensure it's full. The Automobile Club of Southern California is the largest affiliate of the Automobile Association of America (AAA), and has been serving its members since 1900. 

Your LA Car Blog comments can be sent to : Letter to the Editor.



© Marvel   

MAN PARALYZES POLICE CAR WITH HIS CRUTCH October 17, 2004 It looks like Germany is getting its fair share of offbeat car news. Reuters reports that a German pensioner angry at being stranded at a railway station smashed up a police car with his crutch when police refused to drive him home or get him a hotel room, authorities said Friday. When police in the western town of Gronau told the man late Thursday his train only operated Saturday, he stormed off to the station car park and unleashed his fury on their car, shattering its lights and mirrors and denting the bodywork in a fashion not unlike the crutch-laden Marvel Comics action character, Silhouette. Police found the man sitting down with the broken remnants of his crutch by the vandalized vehicle. "That's what you get, I've made a nice mess of it for you," the 63-year-old man shouted to the stunned officers, police in the nearby city of Muenster said in a statement. Police said the man, who could not stand without the walking aid, told them he would have done even more damage on the car had the crutch not broken first. "The damage to the squad car totaled some 3,000 euros ($3,700), which the pensioner must pay," police said. "For that he could have bought himself a small car to drive to Muenster."  Your LA Car Blog comments can be sent to : Letter to the Editor.



Diehard car enthusiast (Van Redin photo, courtesy New Line Productions)  

MAN FIGHTS OFF REPOSSESSOR WITH CHAINSAW AND GAS BOMBS October 15, 2004 Some people have been known to really like their cars. Take the car enthusiast from Germany. According to Reuters, a man in Germany tried to fight off a repossessor with a chainsaw and gasoline bombs before being arrested by police special forces, authorities said Thursday. The 52-year-old man in the eastern town of Helbra barricaded himself in his single-family house when the repossessor arrived with a two-man police escort. He first drove off the trio by throwing petrol bombs and a barbecue lighting device at them. The police called in reinforcements, a SEK special forces unit. When they stormed the house the man fired up his chainsaw and revved it but was quickly overwhelmed. Two police officers were injured, a spokeswoman said. "We've had a number of repossessions before but never had anything quite like this," said police spokeswoman Birgit Bandermann, adding he faces charges of attempted manslaughter.  Your LA Car Blog comments can be sent to : Letter to the Editor.



Sensuous nonetheless - BMW DesignWorks' Art of Car Design sculpture  

THE BATTLE OVER BMW PORN - PART 2 October 14, 2004 Publishes BMW's Cease & Desist Letter The battle over BMW porn (see LA Car Blog, October 13, 2004, below) appears to have taken a new turn. In an unusual display of chutzpah, has made public the the 'cease and desist' letter sent to it by BMW attorneys. It appears that the Internet search engine is relishing the publicity from the controversy. AskJolene reiterated its position that no wrongdoing has been committed on their part.'s marketing chief Mike Schwalbach insists that it's search engine is merely a navigational aid. 

Your LA Car Blog comments can be sent to : Letter to the Editor.



Sexy nonetheless - BMW DesignWorks concept car

THE BATTLE OVER BMW PORN October 13, 2004 BMW AG Orders to Remove Search Results UITGEEST, The Netherlands (PRNewswire) - The German car manufacturer BMW AG has ordered adult search engine to immediately remove a number of results from its index and to blacklist the providers of the documents but AskJolene says it will not yield to the claim. collects free erotic contents ("galleries") from the web, and offers its users a dedicated full text search engine to locate galleries of their liking. The results are presented as summaries that link to their original gallery. The galleries are not hosted by      BMW AG claims that infringes on its trademark rights. AskJolene's results for the search query 'bmw' contain galleries in which the word 'bmw' occurs. They also contain pornographic pictures depicting, amongst other things, a BMW car.      A quote from the BMW AG cease and desist order:      "Cease and desist from, with immediate effect, but ultimately not later than two days after the date of this letter, any more infringements of my clients rights, on the Website and/or any other website(s) it exploits and/or operates, and in particular:      (a) to stop the showing and/or supplying of Internet weblinks that contain the word BMW; and      (b) to block access to Internet websites that contain the word BMW either as metatag, in their title and/or as content" will not yield to the claim. "As far as we know, we haven't done anything wrong. Our search engine is a navigational aid. We provide a way for our users to locate galleries as quick and convenient as possible. If we give in to BMW's claim, other search engines will have a problem as well." according to chief marketing Mike Schwalbach.      Your LA Car Blog comments can be sent to : Letter to the Editor.



YOU WANT CONTRADICTIONS? October 12, 2004 NASCAR Will Show You Contradictions By BRIAN KENNEDY   So there are many NASCAR fans out there who are angry over Dale Earnhardt Jr's 25-point deduction for saying "shit" after his win at Talladega last week.  NASCAR chastised him in part because the offense goes against their family image.  Many fans see that as ridiculous.  Maybe they didn't even realize that NASCAR was "family friendly" until they were told that Dale hadn't been.   With that in mind, I thought I would brainstorm some other non-family friendly and bizarre aspects of the sport.  Some of these have been mentioned elsewhere; some may not have been.  Read them and decide for yourself whether you can continue loving this most soap-operatic of all motorsports.   1.  The fact that the most popular driver is sponsored by a beer company, making his car a rolling advertising for alcohol consumption, not to mention drinking and driving.  (Relax; he's my favorite driver, too).  How many people does DUI kill every year?   2.  The fact that up until this year, cigarettes were featured as the sponsor of every race, and the brand name mentioned hundreds of times a weekend.  How many people die from cigarette addiction each year?  Do any of them have families?   3.  The sponsorship of a team by a drug which is meant to give men erections.  Explain that to your kids without being just a little bit embarrassed.   4.  The fact that there are no drivers of color.  Maybe your kids won't notice.  If not, you ought to point it out to them.  This sport is the last bastion of whiteness in this country, and an oddity, if nothing else.  What does that say about what the series teaches kids, overtly or covertly?   5.  The fact that men with families go out every week and drive in ways that sometimes kill them, or leave them with life-long debilitating injuries.  Think Jerry Nadeau, John Nemechek, and big Dale.  How are their families doing these days?   6.  The ridiculous prayer for safety which is immediately followed by the laws-of-physics-defying activity mentioned in 5 above.  Whose laws are stronger - God's or Newton's?  Enough said.   7.  The fact that four or five guys every week show up, qualify, then race a lap (or ten, whatever) and go home.  They don't even get a mention on TV.  But NASCAR, ahem,  doesn't use "field-fillers" to up its car count.   8.  The fact that none of the cars resemble in any way what you can buy in your Dodge, Chevy, or Ford showrooms.  But they're "stock" cars.   9.  The fact that Dale said "hell" and nobody cares about that.  But "dropping the s-bomb" is a lethal offense.  What's worse, fire and brimstone for eternity (if you take that kind of thing seriously), or poop?   10. The fact that despite all of this, you and I will watch this Sunday just as we always do, because we care.  Or at least, we've been convinced that watching advertising in the guise of paint jobs on cars rolling around and ridiculous speeds is somehow important.  And fun.  Maybe you can think of some other things.  Maybe you could make the argument that other forms of racing are just as nutty.  Or other sports.  Or all of life.  Fine.  But if this sport adds up to what you call family-friendly, contradiction-free entertainment, then leave your kids at home if I ever invite you over for thanksgiving.    If on the other hand you see racing for what it is - a beautiful and dangerous defiance of the laws of physics pursued by men, and the occasional woman, who are a blend of gladiator and lunatic, then by all means, keep watching.  Just don't be surprised when you hear a four-letter word.    At least that never killed anyone.

Your LA Car Blog comments can be sent to : Letter to the Editor.


Renault Vel Satis DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN - PART 2 October 10, 2004 More On The Runaway Renault Story In our October 5, 2004 Blog, we reported on the panic-stricken French driver who found himself hurtling down a motorway at 200 kilometers per hour (125 mph) but unable to slow down because of a mystery fault with his Renault Vel Satis luxury saloon car. Following up on the report, the Associated Press reports a few more details on the incident:  In a scenario straight out of the movie Speed, the police were evidently forced to help clear a route for his crazy ride along a busy highway. The daily Le Parisien quoted Hicham Dequiedt saying he was overtaking a truck when his Renault Vel Satis started to accelerate with a life of its own. He couldn't cut the ignition, he said, because that make of car has a magnetic card instead of a key. "It was impossible to slow down! Stomping on the brakes proved pointless, nothing worked. I avoided one car after another by flashing my lights at them," the 29-year-old was quoted as saying. Dequiedt managed, however, to alert police on his mobile phone. Messages warning other motorists of the danger were flashed up on screens that straddle the highway and over a traffic radio station, Le Parisien said. Finally, as he was bearing down on a toll booth, Dequiedt said he finally managed to bring the car to a halt - having raced down some 125 miles of highway between Vierzon and Riom in central France. "I stomped on the brakes as hard as I could and the car finally stopped," he was quoted as saying. Renault's press office said no spokespeople were immediately available to answer questions. But Le Parisien quoted a skeptical-sounding Louis Schweitzer, boss of the French auto giant, as saying: "As it is described, this incident surprises me and seems very improbable."



IRWINDALE POLICE'S ALTERNATIVE TO STREET RACING October 7, 2004 "Once again we have to look at newspaper headlines and TV news items that scream out about more young people loosing their lives taking part in illegal racing on our city streets.  This doesn't need to happen" said Irwindale police chief Joe Deladurantey.   "For nearly four years now, the Irwindale Dragstrip has offered a real alternative to this dangerous and illegal practice.  Everyone is welcome at Irwindale, it's easy to have a great time racing your car.  And, even though the younger drivers don't hold safety to be the biggest factor, the event is run in a safe manner." And, "Safe" doesn't mean "No Fun" at Irwindale.  "Everyone who tries racing their car on this 1/8-mile strip, really gets a kick out of it ... There's a crowd to cheer them on and a set of honest clocks timing every run"  Deladurantey explained. Clandestine racing on the streets oftentimes is more about talking about racing than racing.  Participant in the illegal affairs are always looking over their shoulders for the police, ready to cut and run at a moment's notice. At Irwindale Dragstrip on a Thursday night all a driver has to do to become a racer is pay $20, have their car quickly (but carefully) inspected for safety, and get on the drag strip and make as many runs as they can line up for during the evening.  "Every run is timed, and every time a car makes a run the driver gets a time slip"  said the IPO's Deladurantey.  "They can compare their speed and times with anyone else on the lot and know that their information is accurate to the third decimal place"  the Chief concluded. "No arguments about who was faster than who ... It's all on the little slip of paper."  Some 26-plus cities around the San Gabriel Valley (and well beyond) are all participating in the Speedway's two year-old "Speeding Ticket" program.  The innovative program, administered by IPD, puts very realistic-looking citation books into the hands of traffic officers who issue them young people who might be at risk.  The "ticket" gives them a free pass to race at the Irwindale Dragstrip with the idea being that they will get a (free) first-hand look at just how much fun and how exciting racing at a controlled drag strip can be. Irwindale Dragstrip holds NHRA Street Legal drag races 48 Thursday nights per year and has issued an open invitation to all "former" street racers to give their kind of racing a try.   - Doug Stokes Irwindale is one of a handful of cities where the police have the discretion to require speeders to go to Irwindale Dragstrip and legally drag race your car in lieu of getting a speeding ticket. - RN



VOLKSWAGEN HALTS PLANS FOR C1 LUXURY CAR October 6, 2004 Volkswagen AG, Europe's largest car maker, said yesterday that it won't manufacture a model in the next five years that bridges the gap between the midclass Passat and the luxury Phaeton, according to the Wall Street Journal. The concept, known as the C1 (the Phaeton was known as the D1, while the current Passat is known as the B5), won't be built in this decade as originally planned. The Volkswagen spokesman added that the company is still working on closing the gap between the models. The exclusive Phaeton luxury sedan, which starts at around $65,000, is at least two classes above the Passat, which has a base sticker price of just over $20,000.  Notwithstanding its excellence, the Phaeton has struggled since its launch. Volkswagen Chief Executive Bernd Pischetsrieder has admitted mistakes with the launch, but has maintained his commitment to the car, says the Wall Street Journal. The decision to delay the C1 comes as the company trims investment costs in the face of sluggish sales and falling profits. Volkswagen is also in talks with unions as it hopes to force through a two-year wage freeze. The company aims to slash around 30 percent off its wage bill by 2011, reports the Journal. Klaus Volkert, head of Volkswagen's works council and deputy chairman of the company's supervisory board, welcomed the decision to delay the C1. "We have to have other priorities at the moment. In two years, we'll know more," he said. The move could be seen as a way of soothing tensions in the negotiations with unions, which resumed yesterday, says the Journal. Union leaders have criticized costly projects such as the Phaeton, which have strained company coffers. This is probably a wise move on the part of Volkswagen. Recently, VW has made a string of decisions that the LA Car Blog questions, such as the move to go ahead and produce the Concept R roadster (in an already crowded field) and the decision to drop the New Microbus in favor of a re-working of the existing Eurovan. As to the latter, VW is missing an opportunity to carve out a whole new vehicle category that could have served as an alternative to SUVs.  



DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN October 5, 2004 The Return of Unintended Acceleration? A mobile phone call may have saved the life of a panic-stricken French driver who found himself hurtling down a motorway at 200 kilometers per hour (125 mph) but unable to slow down because of a mystery fault with his luxury saloon car, according to Reuters today. The driver called police to say the cruise control of his Renault Vel Satis had jammed while overtaking a truck, and that all attempts to brake or put the automatic into neutral had failed, police said on Tuesday. The driver became increasingly sure he was about to die as his top-of-the-range model raced towards a toll station on the A71 motorway between Bourges and Clermont-Ferrand, the police officer who took the call on Sunday said. "He was panicking. He was doing between 180 kph and 200 kph all the time. He was doing 140 kph and then the car just accelerated away on its own" officer Patrick Majerus said. The driver, Hicham Dequiedt, veered left and right to avoid traffic, and even switched at times to the hard shoulder reserved for rescue vehicles in order to avoid vehicles in his path, according to Reuters. "He thought he was finished. I'm not surprised he was scared ## it's not easy to go through a toll station at 200 kph, the gap is pretty tight" Majerus said. Police attempting to escort him along the motorway found they were quickly overtaken. Dequiedt eventually managed to cut the engine and came to a halt around 20 km (12 miles) from the toll station, which had been evacuated as a precaution. Renault boss Louis Schweitzer said he was mystified by the incident, telling LCI television: "As its been described to me, this incident surprises me and seems highly improbable." A spokesman said Renault experts were inspecting the electronic speed control, brakes and automatic gearbox of the car. Reuters reports that the results should be known shortly.

The car that John drove, with out-of-state plates.

LAW AND ORDER October 1, 2004 Today, I went to court to fight the good fight - me against The Man. 'Seems I got popped for driving a press car with out-of-state plates.  Yes, watch out world, it's Saddam, Osamu, and me!  I fight for all the persecuted auto journalists everywhere! The vehicle code violation and defense are enclosed to bring you up to speed.  Today should have just been an arraignment; I figured it would be worth going to it if I could get a word in with the judge.  Turns out he actually asked a few questions, which led him to dismissing the case without me really putting up a fight.  Of course, there is a catch!  There is a ten-dollar fee for dismissal.  Even if you win, you lose.   What a scam.  I want to have my own corrupt country; maybe I'll just take over Mexico or something south of the border where it's nice and warm. Well two hours and time served in a courtroom is the worst of it. Funny how the court clerk wanted $106 for bail if I didn't go before the judge to schedule a date for trial.  Basically they charge less if you waste more of the court's time.  Stranger still was how neither the Bailiff or the Clerk had forms to dismiss the Judge for bias.  The Bailiff went so far as to say you couldn¹t do that in Traffic Court.   The nerve! Let me tell you. When I'm elected President, there's going to be a lot of changes around here.  My Campaign for '08 is on.  First thing on the agenda is reforming Traffic Court.  Second, turning the multitude of 7-11s into corner bars.  Think of it, how many unsightly 7-11s do we really need, and we can conquer drunk driving all at the same time.  Drink up and stagger home will be my Campaign promise (I hear both Bush and Kerry will support this, and of course Clinton and Arnold want in too). - John Grafman The charge: 4152.5.  Except as provided for in subdivision (c) of Section 9553, when California registration is required of a vehicle last registered in a foreign jurisdiction, an application for registration shall be made to the department within 20 days following the date registration became due.  The application shall be deemed an original application.   The rebuttal: 11715.  (a) A manufacturer, remanufacturer, distributor, or dealer owning or lawfully possessing any vehicle of a type otherwise required to be registered under this code may operate or move the vehicle upon the highways without registering the vehicle upon condition that the vehicle displays special plates issued to the owner as provided in this chapter, in addition to other license plates or permits already assigned and attached to the vehicle in the manner prescribed in Sections 5200 to 5203, inclusive.  A vehicle for sale or lease by a dealer may also be operated or moved upon the highways without registration for a period not to exceed seven days by a prospective buyer or lessee who is test-driving the vehicle for possible purchase or lease, if the vehicle is in compliance with this condition.  The vehicle may also be moved or operated for the purpose of towing or transporting by any lawful method other vehicles.    11717.  (a) Every occupational license and special plate issued under this article shall be valid for a period of one year from midnight of the last day of the month of issuance.  Except as provided in subdivision (c), renewal of the occupational license and special plates for the ensuing year may be obtained by the person to whom the occupational license and special plates were issued upon application to the department and payment of the fee provided in this



Ford Mustang Stamp

That was LA Car's subtitle when it started back in 1997. Since then, it became Reporting From Car Culture Ground Zero, then From The Heart of Car Culture, to today's The Cars and Culture of Southern California. At all times, however, we aimed to chronicle the Southland's spirit - much like a journal. Now, the diary goes daily. LA Car has always been a great source to come back to from month-to-month, to see what articles and reviews have been added to our rather staggering database. With the LA Car Blog, we give you a reason to come back virtually every day, as we will be posting new blog entries virtually every day or two (well, there will be occasional vacation breaks).

So, go ahead and bookmark We'll be sure to always provide a link to the latest blog entry. In the meantime, welcome to the journal and journey into the cars and culture of Southern California.  

- Roy Nakano

For past LA Car Blog entries, click the following: September 2004 August 2004July 2004 June 2004 May 2004 April 2004

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