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BACK SEAT DRIVING - APRIL 2009

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Tue, Mar 31, 2009

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

HOT WIRES 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 Coupe for your collection?

GLUCKMAN: BACK SEAT DRIVING BARRETT-JACKSON 2039? 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, AutoTrader.com    

 

 

 

 

GREG NAKANO: BACK SEAT DRIVING HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER 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 www.the2010Mustang.com 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

ROY NAKANO: BACK SEAT DRIVING 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 www.the10unleashed.com. 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 www.the2010mustang.com.    

 

 

 

 

ROY NAKANO: BACK SEAT DRIVING

W

Remember 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.    

 

 

 

 

 

ROY NAKANO: BACK SEAT DRIVING STEVE SALEEN STEPS UP TO THE PLATE 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, [email protected] or visit www.smssupercars.com.    

 

 

 

 

BT JUSTICE: BACK SEAT DRIVING CHRYSLER RAISES THE ANTE IN THE INCENTIVE BATTLE 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 risen. 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 Chrysler's. 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."    

 

 

 

 

BT JUSTICE: BACK SEAT DRIVING BACK TO ITS ROOTS 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 applauded. 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."    

 

 

 

A JOURNAL OF LOS ANGELES & ITS CAR CULTURE

LA Car

That was LA Car's subtitle when it started back in 1997. It's original website address was about five times the size of lacar.com. Since then, La Car became LA Car. Its subtitle 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 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 Driving, 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 author). So, go ahead and bookmark www.lacar.com. We'll be sure to always provide a link to Hot Wires and the latest Back Seat Driving blog entry. In the meantime, welcome to the journal and journey from the heart of the car culture. - Roy Nakano 

For past 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

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