No. 959
August 15, 2018

About The UjianNasional@PeterMDeLorenzo Author, commentator, influencer. "The Consigliere." Editor-in-Chief of

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On The Surface


On The Surface #460

August 27, 2008

Honda. The 2009 Honda Fit debuted in dealers yesterday, one month earlier than planned. The demand for the impressive new Fit is said to be off the charts, and once again Honda is looking smarter than most of the other car companies out there. That the Fit is exactly the kind of car that Ford and GM are racing to get to market by 2010 - two years from now - is graphic evidence of just how tough a challenge the Detroit Two have.

Dodge Viper. In the midst of speculation about the questionable future of Chrysler LLC, hard-core enthusiasts have often wondered about the future of the Dodge Viper, the only Chrysler vehicle they really care about. Late word comes this morning that Chrysler is talking to third parties interested in buying the Viper. The company said in a statement (first reported by Richard Truett of Automotive News) that it is "exploring strategic options for the Dodge Viper business." "This strategic review comes as the Company focuses on enhancing its core business and leveraging its assets," Chrysler said in a statement. This is good news for Viper fans because the car doesn't stand a chance in the Cerberus-owned Chrysler. If a committed group of well-funded enthusiasts/business people come forward to make sure the Viper survives - and thrives - that would be the best possible scenario. Long live the Viper.

MG. From the "It Was Nevergonnahappen" File comes word that plans to sell the MG TF in the American market have come to a complete halt. When China's Nanjing Automobile Group bought most of MG Rover in September 2005 and insisted that it would set up a factory in Ardmore, Oklahoma, to build knock-down kits of the TF to sell in the U.S. market, to say that the automotive world was more than a little skeptical is an understatement. There was no way in hell that the deal was ever going to materialize, and the company confirmed it online yesterday, according to Automotive News. What part of assembling knock-down kits of British roadsters in Oklahoma - that were made in China - seemed like a good idea at the time? You can't make this shit up, as we like to say.

Pontiac. The AE Headline of the Week (that we didn't want to see) comes from last Monday's edition of Automotive News: "Dreams aside, Pontiac will rely on small fwd cars". Ouch. Like we've said before, GM should just take Pontiac out back and shoot it, and put it out of its misery.

The Car Buying Experience. Not that it was ever "Hail fellow, well met" great, but things are getting out of hand. Due to some ugly incidents with stolen vehicles, some L.A. dealers are now taking thumbprints of customers wanting to take test drives. Taken to its logical conclusion, pretty soon it will be car buying at gunpoint. Now there's an idea.

Nissan. A new high point in "smoke and mirrors" marketing was achieved by Nissan at Pebble Beach last week when a media trip was organized to the iconic California locale for the unveiling of the new Infiniti G37 hard-top convertible, whereupon an illustration of the car was revealed, but not the car. Yikes.

A new pony badge with defined edges and crisper forms in a subtly toned tinted-chrome finish will charge across the grilles of the V-6 and GT versions of the 2010 Mustang. And for the first time, a black-chrome version (above) of the Mustang pony badge will accent the new GT grille. “We wanted to give the Mustang pony a more realistic feel,” said Douglas Gaffka, chief designer for the 2010 Mustang. “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. “It’s more chiseled and more defined and looks more like a wild horse,” Gaffka added. “It’s more realistic in terms of proportion to an actual Mustang.” Senior Designer Rick Howard spent hours researching images of horses and understanding their appearance in natural, wild settings. That effort, along with his personal riding experience, helped bring forward the design of the Mustang pony badge. “We’re very much concerned with detail and precision in our cars at Ford, and that includes the art we do,” Howard said. “We want our Mustang pony badge to be as good as the rest of the car.” The original Mustang logo was drawn by Phil Clark for the Mustang I. The Mustang logo then was refined for the Mustang II in 1974 by Charles Keresztes, a former member of Hungary’s Olympic equestrian team. The pony continued on the front grille through 1978 when it was replaced by “FORD” in block letters through 1982. The iconic Ford Blue Oval graced the front of Mustangs through 1993. The pony emblem returned in 1994 with some refinements. The logo was updated again in 2005.

(Copyright © 2008
Publisher's Note: The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, one of the premier events of the automotive year, took place last Sunday. Of note was the magnificent display of Ferrari California Spyders and a tribute to GM's fantastic "Motorama" road shows from the 50s, with GM pulling out all the stops to bring some of its most famous concept cars - and one transport bus - from that era to the eighteenth fairway at Pebble Beach. Click here to see the gallery. - PMD

Publisher's Note:
The General Motors Motorama was a visionary traveling exhibit in the 50s that showcased the company's creative and technical abilities through a jaw-dropping series of machines that captivated the American public. The display of exuberant "blue sky" thinking expressed in the Motorama was a tour de force that launched GM into national prominence as America's premier car company, a position it would hold through its glorious heyday in the 50s, 60s and early 70s. It was a different time and a different era, and GM was a company bristling with talent, vision and most important - the will to achieve greatness. Even though GM is suffering through the most challenging time in its history, we thought it was important to remember the significance of the Motorama, and pay homage to an American industrial icon as it celebrates its Centennial in September 2008. Click here to go to our Motorama Gallery (photos courtesy of GM). - PMD

Editor's Note: Now that we are officially in the Dog Days of Summer – with car shows and car memories running on overdrive (the supreme example of this being this Saturday’s Woodward Dream Cruise) – we thought we’d re-run an excerpt from one of our favorite pieces of automotive prose, which poet, critic and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, James Agee wrote for the September 1934 issue of Fortune. - Wordgirl

The characters in our story are five: this American continent; this American people; the automobile; the Great American Road, and the Great American Roadside. As an American, of course, you know these characters. This continent, an open palm spread frank before the sky against the bulk of the world. This curious people. The automobile you know as well as you know the slouch of the accustomed body at the wheel and the small stench of gas and hot metal. You know the sweat and the steady throes of the motor and the copious and thoughtless silence and the almost lack of hunger and the spreaded swell and swim of the hard highway toward and beneath and behind and gone and the parted roadside swarming past. This great road, too; you know that well. How it is scraggled and twisted along the coast of Maine, high-crowned and weak-shouldered in honor of long winter, how like a blacksnake in the sun it takes the ridges, the green and dim ravines which are the Cumberlands, and lolls loose into the hot Alabama valleys . . . Oh yes, you know this road….All such things you know….God and the conjunction of confused bloods, history and the bullying of this tough continent to heel, did something to the American people -- worked up in their blood a species of restiveness unlike any that any race before has known. Whatever we may think, we move for no better reason than for the plain unvarnished hell of it. And there is no better reason. So God made the American restive. The American in turn and in due time got into the automobile and found it good. The automobile became a hypnosis, the opium of the American people...

“Whatever we may think, we move for no better reason than for the plain unvarnished hell of it. And there is no better reason.” Amen.

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