Thursday, January 05, 2006

CARNIVAL OF CARS: A Drive Around the Auto Blogs Block for Jan. 6, 2006

The January auto show circuit is running hot and heavy this week, which means manufacturers are touting radical concept vehicles that supposedly tell us what new production models are right around the corner.

It also means lots of announcements of actual new models being introduced. And the rumor mills of the industry are running white hot as auto executives, mainstream media journalists and auto bloggers converge in a churning cauldron of candidates for appearances on "Car Crazy!"

Tapscott Behind the Wheel is just such a candidate, so let's put her in gear and burn some cyberspace rubber:

In a distressing development on the international front for Detroit, another foreign automaker is determined to sell its wares to Americans, according to John Neff at AutoBlog, who links to an AP report that the Cross Lander from Romania's Aro SA has been granted an air bag exemption by NHTSA. Cracks Neff of the planned 9,000 air bag-less examples to be sold here through 2008: "We're willing to bet not one of 'em goes to a Public Citizen member."

Wow, you don't see those on the roads much anymore! CarPundit has some crisp shots of a somewhat obscure 60s classic, but you have to read the comments to find out what it is. Unless you already know because one of your neighbors had one when you were a kid.

Hey, it hasn't happened in 19 years. You know, Chevy outselling Ford. It was close but that's what the final 2005 sales figures show and Bob Schulties at Cars!Cars!Cars! has some observations about how The New York Times reported the end-of-year numbers. Bob wasn't, you know, impressed with the Old Grey Lady.

See that gorgeous green exotic gracing Carscoop? That's the Lamborghinia Miura concept appearing at the North American International Auto Show - the "Deetroit Show" to us Dixie rubes - and Carscoop is apparently rather taken by it:

"The new car retains the extraordinary purity of line characteristic of the original Miura. The designer's intervention has been defined by refining the contours and eliminating any superfluous detail in order to enhance the clean, simple lines and perfectly-balanced proportions of the original that so impassioned enthusiasts."

Allow me to translate for my Dixie rube buddies who have just one inquiry about this lovely Italian stallion, which concerns the absence of sufficient storage capacity to accommodate such essential items as multiple refreshments appropriate for the weekend's entertainment event that are typically packaged in aluminum containers of a certain girth.

If you are looking for info on the second generation Audi TT, Consumers Hero has it here.

Scott Keller at FastMachines writes the CART obit here and opines that "the only way unification [with the IRL] will ever happen, is when (not if in my opinion) Tony George has run Indy into such a deep hole, that he has no choice but to beg Champ Car to return. Things in Speedway, IN are in bad shape, if you haven't noticed lately (bye bye Toyota)."

Sad but true, I fear.

Over at Gear6, Casey says the new Audi RS4 is a "beast of a car" and he links to a Top Gear video review in which we learn what Ingolstadt's latest sedan stormer has in common with the posture of W and Tony. No, really. I don't make this stuff up!

Speaking of things I couldn't possibly make up, check out why Jalopnik thinks that minivan deal between DCX and VW will produce "a run of hyperclever ads involving subtle references to van-based pot smoking (well, maybe)."

Plus ...

This week's Jalopnik Bonus: Scroll to the next item under the VW-DCX doings post to get the low-down on the Hoon of the Day. (No, I can't tell you what a Hoon is because this is a family friendly blog).

The wise one at Just-Auto.com ponders Renault's situation, now that Carlos Ghosn is returning to the land that didn't invent the French Fry. Says Dave Leggett: "Renault has a relatively high European cost base that makes it difficult to compete in the segments where it is strongest in product terms. Performance outside Western Europe isn't bad, but how much money can you make on the Logan?" He has much more to say on the subject here.

Moving right along ...

No, the Fisker Tramonto is neither an as-yet-unidentified fungus nor a killer research app for the Blogosphere created in Italy. Rather, the Fisker Tramonto "is a sculpted statement of exotic, two-seat, open-air motoring - with design as its first priority." Left Lane News has more, including some stunning photography.

Guess which marque gets the most internet price inquiries? Toyota, of course, at least according to data compiled by Motor Alley. David Wasserman is the man there and he's got the numbers to prove it. Go here.

Austin Davis at My Honest Mechanic says STAY AWAY FROM SALESPERSONS if you want to get the cheapest loan. Hey, makes sense to me. Of course, I don't make my living on commission. And I hate hanging out in showrooms drinking stale coffee. OK, I'll stop rambling now ...

Sorry Austin.

In news that shook Wall Street, Qt Auto News has the inside story on the merger of HappyBalls.com and InConcept, Inc. The former is online retailer of the latter's antennae balls. Is this a match made in heaven or what!

Brian Vermette at Racedriven dot.com surveys the retro Muscle Car movement in Detroit, with comments on the Mustang, Pontiac GTO, Dodge Challenger concept and Chevrolet Camaro concept. Brian would like to hear from you, too.

Buy a hybrid. Get a discount on insurance. Straightline.com has the rest of the story.

Holy Cow! Lincoln is switching to a numeric system to identify its models!! That oughtta lure all those greedy Baby Boomers out of their Bimmers and Mercs and back into the Lincoln showrooms.

The Auto Prophet has only one question: "Can you name the parent company of the following models? CTX, CXT, SRX, XJ8, SC, CLK, SLK, QX, MX5?" Am I the only one who thinks Lincoln's demise may be coming sooner than previously thought?

Can you believe this? It must be true cauz The Car Blog linked to it. Even if it is from one of those dead tree thingies that appear on the street each morning.

Robert Farago offers this gem of sober analysis at The Truth About Cars while responding to a New Year's Outlook for 2006 feature in The Detroit News:

"In reality, carmakers are not 'perfecting the vehicle.' For one thing, perfection is impossible. For another, legislation is now the driving force behind automotive design and engineering. As you'd expect from this odd intersection of fiat and free market, the car industry is being pulled in all directions. It's forced to reconcile mileage with safety, cost with complexity, innovation with liability."

And we now bring you this from the Cautiously Beating Around the Bush Department as Joe Sherlock of The View Through the Windshield peers at Chrysler's Imperial Concept:

"The new four-door Chrysler Imperial concept is based on the 300C/Magnum platform, but sits 17 inches longer and six inches higher than the 300C sedan and has massive 22-inch wheels. It's a sleazy knock-off of the current Rolls Royce which - in my opinion - is a design monstrosity. In the race to Ugly, it's neck-and neck, folks."

Got that right, Joe. Lawdy, that thang is uhhhgleee!

Finally, as this week's Carnival of Cars Drive Around the Auto Blog Block concludes, Paul Eistenstein at TheCarConnection.com reports on "The Way Forward," the recovery plan soon to be unveiled by Ford's Gary Fields. Plus much, much more as always.