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 #459

August 20, 2008

The Wall Street Journal. In today's edition (8/22), the lead editorial makes the argument that Detroit is where Washington's "bail out" frenzy should end, and that Detroit doesn't deserve any help. So let's get this straight - it's okay to bail out the greed merchants on Wall Street who stir and churn the markets for their own personal benefit, to Hell with what it means for the rest of the country - but it's not okay to shore-up one of the pillars of America's manufacturing base? Perfect.

GM. In need of a big, end-of-summer sales boost, GM is offering employee discounts - around 10 percent below invoice - to everyone on all of its 2008 (except for medium-duty trucks) and some of its 2009 models (including Cadillac CTS, Chevrolet Cobalt and HHR, Pontiac Vibe and G5) as it moves to clear out its remaining inventory of vehicles. Unlike the last time GM did it in 2005, the employee discount sale has a hard end date of September 2, with a start date of today (August 20).

Ralph Gilles. The 38-year-old designer who has been on an upward trajectory ever since he joined the "old" Chrysler in 1992, will become vice president in charge of design at Chrysler LLC on September 1, replacing Trevor Creed. Gilles, who is often credited with the Chrysler 300 sedan (though the design originated from a concept penned by Freeman Thomas), has been the most visible front man for Chrysler design for several years now, and the move was expected.

Hot Wheels® kicked off a three-week, six-city, cross-country road trip from Mattel, Inc’s El Segundo headquarters yesterday to celebrate its 40th anniversary.  The road trip will travel closely along U.S. Route 40, making stops at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah (8/21); Speed, Kansas (8/24); the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum in Indiana (8/30); and the Automotive Hall of Fame in Detroit (9/1), before culminating in a grand finale celebration on September 5 in Watkins Glen, New York, home to American road racing, in conjunction with its big Vintage Grand Prix weekend. At each stop, Hot Wheels will host a free event open to the public, featuring life-size Hot Wheels cars, historic Hot Wheels memorabilia, kiosks for kids to create custom Hot Wheels drivers licenses, Hot Wheels die-cast races, autograph sessions with Hot Wheels designers, and many more family-friendly activities. "Over the past 40 years, Hot Wheels has been a part of children's lives around the world, creating a tremendous, passionate fan base,” said Geoff Walker, vice president, Wheels and Games Marketing, Mattel Brands.  "We wanted to be able to celebrate this milestone with our fans and bring a unique experience to their neighborhoods." Sounds cool to us.

Concorso Italiano. The once really cool Italian car gathering on the Friday of the Carmel-Monterey auto meltdown week was a total disaster, apparently. With cars arrayed on the tarmac of a local airport (yet another new location) the event had all the atmosphere of a car show held in the parking lot of a local Wal-Mart, and the comments that got back to us were summed up by one friend who has been to hundreds of car shows in his lifetime who said, "It was hands down the worst car show I've ever been to in my life." Multiply those comments by the negative word of mouth that's sure to gather steam in the postmortem of the week, and the Concorso is in deep, deep trouble. We've never heard such overwhelmingly negative commentary about a car event. Ever.

(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

The all-new 2009 Chevrolet Cruze sedan will make its world premiere at the Paris Motor Show in October. In European configuration the Cruze will be available with 16-valve, 1.6-liter (112 hp/82 kW) and 1.8-liter (140 hp/103 kW) gasoline engines featuring variable valve timing (VVT) on both inlet and exhaust sides, and a new 2.0-liter turbo diesel that develops 150 hp/ 110 kW and 320 Nm of torque. Five-speed manual gearboxes and a six-speed automatic transmission complete the powertrain menu. The Cruze will be available in Europe in March 2009, followed by other global markets. GM is making a $500 million investment in its Lordstown, Ohio, plant in order to build the Cruze there by April 2010.

Lincoln. Ford will debut the production version of its Lincoln MKT at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show in November. Based on the Lincoln MKT concept from the 2008 NAIAS, the production version will feature "the timeless elegance of Lincoln’s signature design cues, industry-leading comfort and convenience technologies like SYNC and comprehensive safety and security features," according to Ford PR. The Lincoln MKT will be available with Ford’s EcoBoost™ engine and fuel-efficient six-speed transmission. (Photos courtesy of Ford)

Cadillac gave a special sneak preview of its next-generation 2010 SRX Crossover at Pebble Beach last weekend. “The next-generation SRX is the result of the continued exploration and refining of Cadillac design language, with the goal of creating dramatic presence in the luxury crossover space,” says Clay Dean, Cadillac design director. The all-new SRX will make its official debut at major global auto shows later this year and will launch worldwide in mid-2009. The 2010 SRX crossover is similar in styling and proportion to Cadillac’s Provoq Concept that appeared in many auto shows during 2008.

The 2010 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon made its debut last Friday at Pebble Beach. It rides on the same 113.4-inch wheelbase as the CTS sport sedan and is 0.3-inch shorter, although it offers a generous cargo area of 25 cubic feet behind the rear seats. The CTS Sport Wagon will be part of the worldwide auto show circuit this fall and arrive in Cadillac dealerships in spring 2009. (Photos courtesy of GM)

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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