Archive for August, 2008

Ford Goes Wild With Mustang Makeover

Posted in: General
31 Aug 2008

2010mustangbadge1.JPGFor its 2010 Mustangs, Ford is getting ready to show us its wild side. Sort of.

The automaker announced last week that its iconic Mustang badge is getting a makeover for the ’10 lineup. In unveiling the new steed, Ford is showing off a racier-looking pony that is more muscular than its sleek, fluid predecessor. The new emblem is a glimpse of the more rugged look that’s expected for the redesigned 2010 Mustang, which will be revealed later this year.

Although tinkering with an icon is always tricky, Ford got this one right. Thanks to sharper angles and subtle tinting, this pony looks much faster and wilder than the one that first rode on the Mustang grille when the car was introduced back in 1964. The pony was replaced by the “Ford” emblem from 1978 until 1993, but was welcomed back with the ’94 models. The pony badge was most recently tweaked in 2005, but the new emblem shows a much more significant makeover.

According to Douglas Gaffka, chief designer for the 2010 Mustang, the retooling of the emblem was the first step in reinventing one of America’s best-loved cars.

“We lifted the head to make the pony more proud, tipped the neck into the wind to give it a feeling of greater speed and better balance,” he explains. “It’s more chiseled and more defined and looks more like a wild horse.”

He says the design team actually studied photos of wild Mustangs in their natural habitat to find a more natural look.

In addition to the duo-tone tinted emblem that will appear on the V6 and GT versions of the 2010 Mustang, Ford will offer a black chrome version for the GT. Here’s hoping the redesigned car is just as eye-catching as its new badge.

Pebble Beach: In Case You Missed It

18 Aug 2008

Used by permission of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. All rights reserved

Photo courtesy Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. All rights reserved.

This weekend, the 58th Pebble Councours d’Elegance gave car lovers more than 200 reasons to lust after what they cannot have. The annual car show attracted competitors from 27 states and 12 countries, once again making it one of the most elite and well-attended shows in the world.

Although there was plenty of eye candy to keep onlookers oohing and ahhing at the 18th hole on the Monterey Peninsula’s Pebble Beach golf course, at the end of the day, only one car can be named “Best in Show.” And this time around, that honor went to John and Mary Shirley from Medina, Washington.

The Shirleys bought their 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta four years ago. It had already enjoyed a rich history – throughout the 1930s, the 8C 2900B was Alfa’s most prestigious touring car. Less than three dozen of the cars were ever completed and put on the road.

This particular car is even more unique, however. While most of the 8C 2900B models were bodied by Carrozzeria Touring, this is one of six that was privately commissioned to be built by Berlinetta, and its good looks landed it in several ads run by Alfa.

As if that’s not enough, John Shirley says the car’s attributes go beyond its obvious beauty.

“This car has an intriguing history,” he says. “It won the first race at Watkins Glen in 1948, and though the car’s been driven quite a bit, it’s never been wrecked.”

Even with its exquisite lines and perfect body, the Shirleys knew their Alfa faced some stiff competition. But at the end of the day, the 8C 2900B simply proved unbeatable.

“It takes an amazing level of elegance for a closed car like this Alfa to win here,” acknowledged Sandra Kasky Button, Concours chairman. “It requires the ultimate in style, grace and proportion. This car has all of that.”

Just look at this car. Who can argue with her?!

Mercedes, Gimme an “A,” A-Class That Is

12 Aug 2008

mercedes-a-class-2008.jpgA few months ago while in Vancouver, I climbed inside a small, sporty crossover that had all the comfort and markings of a Mercedes, but lacked the familiar interior I’m accustomed to.

Feeling a lot like an upgraded Honda CRV, the compact MPV (or multi-purpose vehicle) boasted a deceptively roomy interior and, the driver told me, was perfect for taking her large Portugese Water Dog on adventures. It was my first introduction to Mercedes’ B-Class, and upon returning home I set out to learn more about it.

The B-Class Tourer is best described as a cross between the R-Class, which is sold in the U.S., and the subcompact A-Class, which is not. Yet.

After finding success in Germany, the A-Class, which was first rolled out in 1997, was slated for American production. Plans to bring the small family car to the U.S. were scrapped because of weak dollar, but the A-Class and its spinoff, the B-Class, which was introduced in 2005, both enjoyed healthy sales in Europe and Canada.

Now it seems that we might be able to get in on the subcompact luxury. Automotive News is reporting that Mercedes-Benz chairman Dieter Zetsche has announced plans to bring the A-Class and B-Class to American soil. The reason? High fuel costs are making even luxury drivers re-think the merits of their gas-guzzling daily drivers. Suddenly, those subcompacts are looking rather attractive – and let’s face it, when you slap a Mercedes emblem on the front of it, it’s just bound to look good!

With sales taking a nosedive, Mercedes apparently thought it seemed like a good time to re-think their previous plan – and they’ve also announced plans for an electric version.

Current plans call for the new models to arrive in the U.S. in 2011, and we’ll get both a coupe and a small crossover. All of a sudden, downsizing looks a whole lot better…

Honda Rolls Out Fuel Cell Vehicles

07 Aug 2008

honda-clarity.JPGMost women would agree that they would like a little more clarity in their lives – and now Honda is delivering that.

Honda will put about 200 of its FCX Clarity vehicles on the road over the next three years, although – much like GM’s electric EV1 introduced back in 1996, the cars will not be sold. They’ll only be available for lease, and let’s hope they don’t meet the same fate! (For more on that, check out the documentary, Who Killed the Electric Car?)

Adding a little celebrity appeal to the FCX Clarity’s profile is actress Jamie Lee Curtis (pictured above), who became only the second customer to take ownership of the new vehicle. Curtis and her husband, mockumentary filmmaker Christopher Guest, have been vocal advocates about green living and have owned other alternative fuel and hybrid vehicles. As a veteran driver of fuel-saving vehicles, Curtis said the appointments of the new FCX Clarity caught her off guard.

“I really wasn’t expecting it to be so luxurious,” she said. “It’s luxurious, luxurious, luxurious!”

All that luxury includes a satellite-linked navigation system with a rearview camera; voice-recognition controls and heated and cooled seats … made of bio-friendly fabric, of course. And if you believe the surveys that say most women make their automobile selection based on cupholders – well, you’re in luck. The Clarity has a bunch of ’em.

More significant, of course, is the mileage of this car, which runs on hydrogen-powered fuel cells. It gets the equivalent of 74 miles to the gallon and has a driving range of about 280 miles. The electric motor runs on electricity generated in the fuel cell, and the only by-products from this zero-emission car are heat and water.

Most of the cars will be leased in Southern California, according to Honda. Here’s hoping they can hit the rest of the country fairly quickly.