Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Net worth: Champ Car auction rakes in $1.2 million

It is hard to put a price on history, but it turns out the last vestiges of the Champ Car World Series were worth about $1.2 million.

Most of the assets of the defunct series sold at auction June 3, as organizers liquidated an extensive catalog of pace cars, racing equipment, transporters and other memorabilia.

Champ Car filed for bankruptcy March 5 after agreeing to merge with the Indy Racing League. The cash from the auction will be used to pay an extensive list of creditors. Will Power won Champ Car's last-ever race, at Long Beach in April.

Car transporters were big-ticket items, with one selling for $92,000 to Newman Wachs Racing. The team plans to use it for Atlantic Series and vintage racing duties. Several other trailers each sold for more than $55,000.

Pace cars also drew extensive interest, led by a 1996 Dodge Viper and 2006 Ford Mustang. Each sold for $37,000. A wide range of other cars sold for between $5,000 and $29,000.

Other items of note included:

-- A one-of-a-kind red Lola race car that hung on the lobby wall inside Champ Car's former headquarters ($17,000).

-- A 2000 Reynard show car with no engine ($47,500).

-- A slew of memorabilia, including posters, helmets and racing suits, was also sold.

The chance to own a slice of history proved alluring for fans and collectors, while several racing team reps arrived looking to augment their own equipment. About 750 people showed up for the auction in Indianapolis, and there were another 800 online bidders.

The strong turnout made for competitive bidding--used transporters went for nearly six figures--and even fairly insignificant items went for well above their market value. Tents--that's right, tents--with the Champ Car logo went for more than $700, while tools also sold at a premium.

"A lot of people were out for a piece of history," said Norman Gallivan II, chief executive of Gallivan Auctioneers & Appraisers, which handled the sale.

Still, not everything was museum ready. An '87 Volvo that had 317,669 miles on the odometer sold for $300, and a '91 Cadillac Eldorado went for $850. They were joined by cases of oil, used brake rotors, tires and other assorted parts.

"It looked like the greatest collection of crap I've ever seen," said Eddie Wachs, who owns Newman Wachs Racing with actor Paul Newman.

For those still looking to grab a piece of Champ Car, the series is auctioning off more memorabilia with an online sale that ends June 12.

For more details, go to

Johnson, Edwards both win in NASCAR finale

Carl Edwards started the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway needing a miracle or three to wrest the Sprint Cup from two-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson. Even if Edwards won and led the most laps, he had to hope that Johnson would wreck out or blow up early or lose dozens of laps with a mechanical failure. "Yeah, I know it's a long shot," he said the Thursday before the season finale, "but at least it's a shot. We didn't come down here to run second."

And so he didn't. Edwards, in fact, led the most laps, outran Johnson virtually all afternoon and into the night and stretched his fuel mileage just enough to win the 267-lap, 400-mile race. But even with a late-race, green-flag "insurance" stop for fuel and tires, Johnson finished on the lead lap in 15th, enough for his third consecutive Cup, this one by a 69-point margin. He joins Cale Yarborough (1976, '77 and '78) as the sport's only other three-peat champion in 60 years.

"It hasn't sunk in yet," Johnson said an hour after the race. "There were times this year when we weren't even in the ballpark, but everybody buckled down and worked hard. I'm so proud of this team and the fight it's had. Growing up in El Cajon, Calif., and racing motorcycles, I never thought I'd be in this position. I'm so thankful and so blessed, because these guys didn't want to have history slip through their fingers."

Depending on lap-leader bonus points, Johnson needed only to finish 36th to 39th to keep Edwards from his first Cup. He started 30th and easily reached the top 20 but struggled to reach the top 10. He used two-tire pit strategy under caution at lap 200 to take the lead the only time (laps 201-206), then slipped back. He was still in the top 10 (easily within his safety zone) until his last gas-and-two-tires stop with 13 laps remaining. He was briefly in the low 20s before coming home 15th.

After dominating most of the night, Edwards slowed appreciably down the stretch, just as he'd done in Texas two weeks earlier. He hung on and limped across the line ahead of Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer. It was his series-leading ninth victory this year, his third in the last four races and the 16th of his career, all with Roush Fenway Racing. Except for two costly DNFs, he was fourth or better in all 10 Chase races, a record not even Johnson could match.

Matt Kenseth ran out of fuel while leading with four laps to go. He carried the same fuel load as Edwards and thought he'd slowed enough to nurse his car home. Instead of a likely top-five and a cinch top-10 in final points, he finished the race in 25th and dropped to 11th-ranked, two behind Kyle Busch. Dale Earnhardt Jr., a DNF 41st with wheel problems, finished the season in 12th, the tour's unofficial "worst of the best."

That position was very unlike that of Johnson, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate--once again crowned "best of the best."




1. Carl Edwards, Ford, 267 laps at 129.472 mph avg. speed; 2. Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 267; 3. Jamie McMurray, Ford, 267; 4. Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 267; 5. Clint Bowyer, Chevrolet, 267; 6. Kasey Kahne, Dodge, 267; 7. Travis Kvapil, Ford, 267; 8. Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 267; 9. Tony Stewart, Toyota, 267; 10. Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 267;

11. A. J. Allmendinger, Dodge, 267; 12. Bill Elliott, Ford, 267; 13. Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 267; 14. Scott Riggs, Chevrolet, 267; 15. Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 267; 16. Scott Speed, Toyota, 267; 17. Juan Pablo Montoya, Dodge, 267; 18. Greg Biffle, Ford, 267; 19. Kyle Busch, Toyota, 266; 20. David Reutimann, Toyota, 266;

21. Ryan Newman, Dodge, 266; 22. Dave Blaney, Toyota, 266; 23. Brad Keselowski, Chevrolet, 266; 24. David Ragan, Ford, 266; 25. Matt Kenseth, Ford, 266; 26. Robby Gordon, Dodge, 266; 27. David Gilliland, Ford, 266; 28. Elliott Sadler, Dodge, 266; 29. Sterling Marlin, Chevrolet, 266; 30. Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 266;

31. Reed Sorenson, Dodge, 266; 32. Brian Vickers, Toyota, 265; 33. Bobby Labonte, Dodge, 265; 34. Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 265; 35. Aric Almirola, Chevrolet, 265; 36. Joe Nemechek, Chevrolet, 264; 37. Tony Raines, Chevrolet, 264; 38. Michael Waltrip, Toyota, 264; 39. Chad McCumbee, Dodge, 263; 40. Jeff Burton, Chevrolet, 259;

41. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 246 (wheel bearing); 42. Marcos Ambrose, Toyota, 222; 43. Kurt Busch, Dodge, 207 (crash)

TIME OF RACE: 3h 5m 36s


PURSE: $5,374,166, winner's share $371,025

FAST QUALIFIER: Reutimann, 31.462s (171.636 mph)

PROVISIONALS: Riggs, Almirola, Ambrose, Waltrip

DID NOT QUALIFY: Ken Schrader, Max Papis, Sam Hornish Jr.


LEAD CHANGES: 15 among eight drivers

CAUTION PERIODS: Seven for 31 laps

FINAL STANDINGS: 1. Johnson, 6,684; 2. Edwards, -69; 3. Biffle, -217; 4. Harvick, -276; 5. Bowyer, -303; 6. Burton, -349; 7. J. Gordon, -368; 8. Hamlin, -470; 9. Stewart, -482 ; 10. Kyle Busch, -498; 11. Kenseth, -500; 12. Earnhardt, -557

NEXT: Feb. 15, 2009, Daytona Beach, Fla.


BMW M3 convertible--Drivers log

SENIOR EDITOR BOB GRITZINGER: Tune an already superb 3-series chassis to M level, add a 414-hp V8 heart stopper tied to a supermanageable seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, toss in a spectacular interior, and what could possibly be missing? Maybe a hardtop convertible roof? Got it. This car seemingly has everything. OK, so you’re saying at $78,000, it ought to have everything including the kitchen sink, and it’s hard to disagree. But for BMW buyers who don’t need the M5’s bigger cabin, it’s hard to argue with the M3’s dynamic abilities, pure power and fun-to-run value. Drop the top, drop the hammer, and drop your cares on the pavement receding in the rearview mirror.

Some might argue for a manual, but I’m coming to terms with BMW’s dual-clutch box. If you’re looking for smooth starts and relatively smooth shifts, dial the transmission’s controller down (if you’re at a stop, it shifts from first to second when you dial it down for smoother takeoffs). For spirited driving, punch up the trans action, or take over shifting with the steering-wheel paddles. It’s the best of both worlds--the solid connection of a clutch-actuated manual gearbox with the real-world ease of an automatic when you want it. You might wish for the control that a foot-operated clutch gives, but you won’t miss that third pedal when you’re fighting traffic.

MOTORSPORTS EDITOR MAC MORRISON: I would not opt for the convertible, as the car is still plagued by the shakiness of the standard 3-series drop-top. Plus, while the folding hardtop looks better than a cloth roof, the car loses its badass profile. And look at that curb weight! This weighs almost as much as a Mercedes SL. It’s a good thing the engine is so potent and the chassis so well sorted, but that number is insane for what is intended to be one of the world’s most nimble corner carvers.

The real story here, though, is the dual-clutch gearbox. Compared with the steaming disaster known as SMG in the old M3, this may as well be alien technology from Nebulon 12. With the shift speed dialed to the max and a heavy foot, the gear engagement is still brutal, with the tires chirping when you snap the right-hand paddle to shift from first to second. But you can soften that by lifting between shifts or by dialing back the shift speed with the associated switch. When you do so, the gearbox shifts smoothly and predictably in both manual and automatic modes. The engineers made a huge step here, and this system is up there with the market’s best, giving buyers a legitimate alternative to the six-speed manual.

SENIOR EDITOR KEVIN A. WILSON: This is a great engineering achievement. Not a great experience. I can’t get over how heavy the car is and feels. To this old-school driver, the mass of this feature-laden “luxury” car is entirely out of keeping with the M3’s origins as a compact screamer, and adding the folding roof makes it worse.

Also, the car isn’t fun to drive slowly. It used to be that you’d compare a M3 with a pretender, say a Lexus, and note that the pretender was fine all the way up to nine-tenths, then couldn’t hold a candle to the real thing. The performance emphasis--perhaps in combination with the mass--seems to have flipped that equation some. If you’re not driving hard, the BMW is clunky. If you’ve got the bit between your teeth and you’re working up a sweat, instant turn-in and ultracrisp shifts are just the thing. If you’re just trying to get to the drugstore, it’s a pain. I said I was an old-school driver, and we remember when performance came with a penalty in comfort. That’s not what I’m objecting to so much as the sense that this car is trying to be all things to all people, loaded down with all of the toys and all of the tech in shifting, ride control and driver aids, and that makes it neither fish nor fowl. Strip it down, give me a basic 3-series and only the M gear that makes it faster--not heavier, not more complicated--and leave all of the 7-series rubbish at the curb.

In fleet: Oct. 21-Nov. 4

As tested price: $77,970

Drivetrain: 4.0-liter V8; RWD, seven-speed sequential manual

Output: 414 hp @ 8,300 rpm, 295 lb-ft @ 3,900 rpm

Curb weight: 4,145 lb

Fuel economy (EPA/AW): 15/15.4 mpg

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Chase begins in New Hampshire, Italian GP, NHRA action too

NASCAR’s fifth annual Chase for the Championship opens Sunday at the Sylvania 300 in Loudon, N.H., where 12 drivers begin a 10-race “playoff” for the Sprint Cup. But unlike most playoffs and tournaments that systematically eliminate losers, every Chase driver plays every game--along with 31 other drivers who can’t win the Cup but can impact who does.

New Hampshire Motor Speedway is a 1-mile, relatively flat, hard-to-pass track where drivers cover 300 laps quickly. Denny Hamlin won in the summer of 2007 and Clint Bowyer won the fall race that opened the ’07 Chase. Kurt Busch won this summer’s rain-shortened race after Tony Stewart dominated, leading almost half the laps before losing after a late-race pit stop.

Among Chase drivers, Jeff Burton leads with four New Hampshire wins. Jeff Gordon has three, Jimmie Johnson and Stewart two each, and Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Hamlin and Bowyer have one each. Kurt Busch (three), Ryan Newman (two) and Robby Gordon and Joe Nemechek (one each) are the only non-Chasers in Sunday’s field with NHMS wins.

Kyle Busch, who has won eight times so far this year, opens the playoff with a 30-point lead over six-time winner Carl Edwards, a 40-point lead over four-time winner Johnson and 70-point leads over one-time winners Dale Earnhardt Jr., Bowyer, Hamlin and Burton. Kyle Busch’s lead is 80 points over winless Stewart, Greg Biffle, Gordon, Harvick and Matt Kenseth.

Teams will practice Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, qualify Friday afternoon at 3:15, then race Sunday afternoon at 2. The Craftsman Truck Series has a 200-lap support race at 3 Saturday afternoon.

WHERE: New Hampshire Motor Speedway

WHEN: Sept. 14

TV: 1 p.m. Eastern, ABC

DURATION: 300 laps

TRACK LENGTH: 1.058 miles



Monza, by all accounts, is one of the Grand Prix calendar’s most colorful events to attend. The Ferrari-mad tifosi always come out in droves, and the atmosphere at the circuit is nothing short of fantastic, with even the most jaded of journalists always sure to make the trip. But after the stunning conclusion to last weekend’s Belgian GP, it is going to take a lot for the Italian event to provide anywhere near the same entertainment. Perhaps there is a ray of hope, though, as the forecast calls for rain throughout the weekend.

Damp and changing conditions certainly brought the Belgian race to life, with McLaren-Mercedes team leader Lewis Hamilton throwing down with Ferrari’s defending world champion, Kimi Raikkonen. The two title contenders swapped the lead back and forth several times and ran off the road together as rain fell--before Raikkonen finally lost control and smashed into a trackside barrier, effectively handing the race to Hamilton.

But once Hamilton had celebrated on the podium and completed the postrace press conference, the race stewards announced that they were adding 25 seconds to Hamilton’s overall time because they felt he gained an unfair advantage on Raikkonen when he cut a chicane. Never mind that Hamilton immediately allowed Raikkonen to repass him, before Hamilton outbraked the Ferrari into the first turn to take the lead once more. Until McLaren’s appeal is heard, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa is the Belgian GP winner, and he now trails Hamilton by just two points with six races remaining. Raikkonen is 19 points out of the lead, and given his overall performances lately--Belgium excluded--he appears to be out of the title fight.

WHERE: Autodromo Nazionale Monza

WHEN: Sept. 14

TV: 7:30 a.m. Eastern, Speed

DURATION: 53 laps

LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Fernando Alonso



WHERE: Lowe’s Motor Speedway

WHEN: Sept. 14 (final eliminations)

TV: 7 p.m. Eastern, ESPN2

LAST YEAR’S WINNERS: None (new event for 2008)


WHERE: New Hampshire Motor Speedway

WHEN: Sept. 13

TV: 2:30 p.m. Eastern, Speed

DURATION: 200 laps



2008 Mazda 5

As-tested price: $22,075
Drivetrain: 2.3-liter I4; fwd, five-speed automatic
Output: 153 hp @ 6500 rpm, 148 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm
Curb weight: 3475 lb
Fuel economy (EPA/AW): 23/22.9 mpg
Options: Satellite radio ($430); pearl paint ($200); compass/auto-dimming mirror ($200)

OUR TAKE: We were engaged in an e-mail conversation with some old college friends, three or four of whom were bemoaning the fact that they couldn't seem to find a small minivan, when--poof!--this Mazda showed up on our doorstep. It seemed just the vehicle for their needs.

Our report to them: We like the sticker price, and though fuel economywas not stellar, it certainly betters a full-size minivan's. It never hesitated, even as the snow piled high, even when pulling out of a slushy, drifty parking spot, even when easing out of an uncleared, sloped driveway. It's also a fine-looking vehicle, more like a station wagon than a true minivan, except for the sliding doors. The interior was lovely, with attractive styling, good materials and nice ergonomics; we especially liked the nearly vertical and forward placement of the shifter. Rear space seemed adequate for adults in the middle row and children in the third row, and power was sufficient if not eager, handling sure-footed. The ride was surprisingly smooth and quiet.

Seriously, there are no good reasons why vehicles like the Mazda 5 aren't flooding our highways and grocery-store parking lots. This has to be one of the most right-sized, practical vehicles on the market today.

Detroit Auto Show 2008: AutoWeek's Best Of


Cynics might say the 2009 ZR1 is nothing more than a Corvette with a bad-boy V8 stuffed into the engine bay--a stance taken initially by some AW editors, who questioned its Best in Show worthiness. But that line of thinking sells this supercar short.

Yes, the supercharged 6.2-liter LS9 will produce at least 620 hp and 600 lb-ft of torque, putting the ZR1 in the upper echelon of the numbers game, no matter who comes out to play. It also features an adjustable suspension, carbon-fiber bodywork, some unique exterior pieces, carbon-ceramic Brembo brakes, variable steering and a close-ratio six-speed gearbox.

The sum is a whole lot greater than the collective parts: This is a JATO rocket on wheels that moves the Corvette up yet another rung on the performance-car ladder and leaves almost all competitors jinking like an F-22 Raptor to avoid certain destruction. Perhaps more significant, new fuel-economy standards that mandate a corporate average fuel economy of 35 mpg by 2020 likely mean that Chevy--or any domestic automaker-will not produce a car remotely comparable to this one for years to come. So remember the 2008 North American International Auto Show as the first time you laid eyes on the most balls-to-the-wall factory Corvette of all time.

Still not convinced? Walk the floor, take everything in, and consider: Badge snobbery and concept cars aside, there is no other machine parked on the Cobo show floor that we look forward to driving more than the ZR1. Case closed.


Audi R8 TDI concept

Cadillac CTS Coupe concept

Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

Mazda Furai concept

Volkswagen Passat CC


Audi had guitar-wielding rock Bryan Adams on hand to help unveil its spectacular new R8 V12 TDI concept. The gravelly-voiced Canadian musician was an appropriate choice of sidekick, because this Audi rocks.

As if the standard R8's 420-hp, 4.2-liter V8 gasoline engine isn't enough, Audi has shoehorned its upcoming 500-hp, 6.0-liter V12 common-rail diesel powerplant into the back of its low-slung two-seater, creating the world's first diesel-powered supercar in the process. It's the diesel's whopping 738 lb-ft of torque that really steals the show--more than double that offered by the standard R8--and all of it is maintained between 1750 and 3000 rpm. The figures speak for themselves: 0 to 62 mph in 4.2 seconds and a top speed in excess of 186 mph. Add a more muscular body and gee-whiz instruments, and you've got a surefire recipe for fun.


Audi R8 TDI Concept

BMW 1 Series convertible

Dodge ZEO concept

Hummer HX concept

Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart

FORD F-150

Green cars, those electrified and biofueled machines flooding show floors of late, reflect the most significant trend in the industry, with individual models such as the Saturn Flextreme increasingly forecasting a future of less oil consumption and reduced tailpipe emissions. But by just about any quantitative measure, the most significant vehicle in the world today is the Ford F-150, a single nameplate that outsells most automotive marketing divisions (Ford sells more F-Series trucks than Chrysler sells vehicles, period). So when the big Blue Oval decides to update its sales juggernaut--and if the update is done well--we take notice.

The 2009 F-150 redo starts with a fresh exterior design, but according to Ford, the truck also will boast better towing and hauling specs, though the automaker wouldn't reveal the exact numbers.

A bevy of new features should broaden the truck's appeal to prospective buyers, including integrated side and tailgate steps to ease access to the bed, as well as a standard capless fuel-filler system. Available information and entertainment options include the Sync hands-free interface, navigation with real-time traffic and weather and a premium Sony sound system.

Standard safety features run the gamut, from stability-, roll- and trailer-sway-control systems to a rearview camera and an available integrated trailer-brake controller. Ford adds a trim level to the top end, too, a luxury package called Platinum that features an exclusive satin-chrome grille with mesh inserts, 10-way powered captain's chairs, wood and aluminum interior trim and 20-inch polished-aluminum wheels.

Given all that, the F-150 wasn't an automatic shoo-in for our Most Significant award, as Ford featured two other contenders for the title: the Explorer America concept and the Verve sedan concept. Both vehicles represent important segments for the struggling automaker, and we liked what we saw in terms of the direction Ford wants to take for each.


Dodge Ram

Ford Explorer America concept

Ford F-150

Ford Verve concept

MARKET: 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8

Mecum Auction

Des Moines, Iowa

July 26, 2008

Hemi, 6.1 liters, automatic transmission. Hemi orange pearl coat with black leather. As new, 85 miles on odometer. No nicks, chips or dents. Includes option package 22X, sunroof and GPS. Original list price before any hoped-for discounts or expected dealer adjustments was $41,985.

SOLD AT $52,500
Why take a new car to a classic-car auction? As famous bank robber Willie Sutton said, "That's where the money is." The history of late-model cars showing up at collector events is a long and storied one. Some 1976 Cadillac Eldorado convertibles brought way more than list price even before the production line closed. Other recent sales to the "I gotta have it now, how much does it cost?" crowd have included Plymouth Prowlers, Chevrolet SSRs and numerous Corvettes--all now depreciating assets.

Paying for someone else's place in line is a tradition some call the Greater Fool Theory. You get in early, buy your car and market it before you put any miles on it and production catches up with demand. For the Eldorado in 1976, word was out that the end of the full-size American convertible was upon us. Midsize cars became full-size cars, and convertibles continued after a brief respite. Rising gas prices, possible sinking demand and the beginning of the 2009 model year are the game changers here. Who's the greater fool? You figure it out.


ESCAPE ROADS: 1920 Templar Experimental Roadster

Flamboyantly professing that its product was the automotive heir to the Order of Knights Templar (formed in the 12th century during the Crusades), the Templar Motors Corp. was born in 1917 in Cleveland.
During seven years, the company produced 6,000 luxury vehicles in models that were in some ways technically advanced. It offered such high-tech toys for the time as electric searchlights, tilt steering wheels (nicknamed "fat man's" wheels) and air compressors.

An experimental Templar roadster was the first automotive use of four-wheel brakes. Cannonball Baker, the man who would be NASCAR's first president and the inspiration for the 1980s film Cannonball Run, drove this vehicle from New York to Los Angeles in a record-breaking 1920 ride to demonstrate that Templars were durable and safe, equipped with a new four-wheel mechanical brake system.
In addition to having special brakes, Baker's Templar was custom-built and had a topless aluminum body. The three-speed car had a 43-hp, four-cylinder, overhead-valve engine.

From July 28 to Aug. 4, driving on dusty and rutted roads, Baker and mechanic Arthur Holliday barreled through rain and mud in six days, 17 hours and 33 minutes. Baker supposedly never took off his shoes. When he arrived in Los Angeles, he was lionized by the media for his driving feat. Two months later, piloting the same Templar, Baker crossed six mountain ranges during his record-breaking two-day, four-hour, 1,642-mile Three Flags Run from Mexico to Canada.

Baker's roadster was returned to Templar's factory after his 1920 rides, rebodied and outfitted with a six-cylinder engine.

John L. Smith of Newburgh, Ind., owns two of the estimated 30 Templars known to be in existence, including the one Baker drove, which Smith acquired in the 1960s. As a throw-in, he was given the car's original four-cylinder engine. He has refurbished the car, restored the original engine and put it back under the hood.
"The original four-wheel mechanical brakes did not make for a pleasurable drive, because power steering didn't exist," Smith said. "Baker needed to be strong as an ox to handle that '20 roadster. He was so strong that he had driven motorcycles and a Stutz cross-country. Even on a paved road, the four-wheel-brake Templar handles like a log wagon compared with the two-wheel-brake models Templar Motors manufactured. I can't imagine driving my car far on a dirt road, let alone for six days straight. The company's engineers obviously had a lot of difficulty figuring out how to get four-wheel brakes moving together smoothly with the car's steering mechanism."

In the four years following Baker's run, Templar's engineers tried to improve their four-wheel-brake engineering as other companies also successfully experimented with new brake technology. Duesenberg began selling a four-wheel-hydraulic-brake car in 1923. By the time Templar developed a driver-friendly, four-wheel-brake car in 1924, the company was, for a variety of reasons, nearly out of business.




Rompetori Lohja 2003

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Saturday, July 26, 2008

2008 Chevrolet Equinox

2008 Chevrolet Equinox

Improved and expanded lineup.

By New Car Test Drive


The 2008 Chevy Equinox offers improved ride and handling over last year's model, benefits of revised chassis settings. OnStar has been added as standard equipment. And an anti-trailer sway function has been incorporated into the StabiliTrak electronic stability control system for more secure towing. These changes come on the heels of cabin improvements that began with the 2007 models, along with improved safety features. The Equinox has been improving since its introduction as a 2005 model.

The lineup has been expanded for 2008 with the addition of two new models: the luxury-oriented Equinox LTZ and the performance-oriented Equinox Sport.

A 3.4-liter V6 is the standard engine, paired with a five-speed automatic transmission, which get an EPA-rated 17/24 miles per gallon City/Highway. Equinox Sport gets a 3.6-liter V6 and six-speed automatic transmission and gets an EPA-rated 16/24 mpg.

All Equinox models are available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. All-wheel drive models cost about $1600 more and have smaller gas tanks, by nearly four gallons, cutting their cruising range by 20 percent. On the other hand, all-wheel drive makes the Equinox perform better on snow and ice.

The Equinox LTZ features leather-trimmed seats with seat heaters. A navigation system is optional.

The Sport model is a different kind of Equinox, with a more aggressive look and sporting cabin. It gets an 80-horsepower boost from GM's high-feature, aluminum four-cam V6 and six-speed automatic. The Sport also gets hydraulic (as opposed to electric) power steering, a tighter suspension, 18x8-inch polished, forged alloy wheels with 50-series tires, aerodynamic spoilers and rocker moldings, dual chrome exhaust tips, gauge package, and sport seats.

The Equinox is Chevy Truck's answer to the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, and Toyota RAV4 compact SUVs. However, Equinox is bigger and roomier than any of these competitors. Equinox is big enough that its dimensions blur the line between compact and midsize sport utilities. It's nearly 14 inches longer than Ford Escape and just three inches shorter than a Chevy TrailBlazer. Its long wheelbase gives the Equinox good stability and ride quality. However, Equinox seats only five, because it does not offer a hopelessly cramped third row, as does the Toyota RAV4. Like Escape, CR-V, and RAV4, the Equinox is based on a passenger-car design but has an interior like a traditional SUV. Therefore, industry observers and other car crazies call the Equinox a crossover utility because it crosses over the line from truck to car.

This is a versatile vehicle when it comes to moving people and cargo. The back seats are mounted on tracks and slide fore and aft: Slide forward and you have more cargo space, slide rearward for more rear legroom. The rear seatbacks recline for additional comfort. Fold the rear seats down, then fold down the front passenger seatback, and you can load eight-foot objects inside.

Model Lineup

The 2008 Chevy Equinox comes in four trim levels: the basic LS, the better-appointed LT, top-line LTZ, and Sport.

Equinox LS FWD ($23,035) and AWD ($24,660) come with cloth upholstery; air conditioning; cruise control; tilt steering; a fold-flat front passenger seat; a Multi-Flex 60/40 split rear bench seat that folds, slides, and reclines; six-speaker AM/FM/CD audio; power windows, power mirrors, power locks with remote keyless entry, and OnStar. Tires are Bridgestone P235/65 all-season radials on 16-inch alloy wheels. A driver information center comes standard. Options for LS include an upgraded audio system with MP3 capability ($135), engine block heater ($75), carpeted floor mats ($40) and side curtain airbags ($395).

LT FWD ($23,905) and AWD ($25,550) add carpeted floor mats, deep tinted glass, power mirrors, leather-wrap steering wheel, and iPod/MP3/RDS audio system. Door handles and roof-rack side rails are body-color rather than charcoal or black. Option Package 2LT ($1,325) adds fog lights, auto-dimming interior rearview mirror with temperature display and compass, six-way power driver seat adjuster with manual lumbar adjustment and map pocket, remote start, and 17-inch aluminum wheels. Options for LT include a 6CD audio system upgrade ($435), XM Satellite Radio ($200), a tilt-and-slide sunroof ($695), a remote starter ($190), luggage rack crossbars ($150), 17-inch chromed aluminum wheels, and Pioneer sound system ($1200).

LTZ FWD ($27,810) and AWD ($29,435) add leather seats, front-seat heaters, chrome-clad aluminum wheels, Pioneer seven-speaker sound system with subwoofer, body-color bumpers with charcoal trim and chrome inserts on the roof rails, body-color mirrors, side-curtain airbags, XM radio. Options include a tow package ($350) navigation/radio upgrade ($2,145), DVD rear-seat entertainment system ($995), and sunroof ($695).

Sport FWD ($28,115) and AWD ($29,740) gets the bigger V6 and six-speed automatic, a sports suspension, 18-inch forged alloy wheels with 50-series tires, aerodynamic spoilers and rocker moldings, dual chrome exhaust tips, gauge package, and sport seats. Options include the tow package, audio upgrades, side curtain airbags, and sunroof.

Safety features include antilock brakes, StabiliTrak electronic stability control, tire pressure monitor; dual-stage driver and front-passenger airbags. Side-impact and head-curtain airbags are optional ($395) and come with a rollover sensor, so they can provide head and torso protection in a rollover as well as a side impact; they come standard on the LTZ model.


The Chevy Equinox is aerodynamically smooth, thanks to a subtle shaping of front and rear fascias as well as the rear spoiler. From the front, Equinox still looks the part of a Chevy truck, with its requisite single-bar grille sporting a large gold Chevrolet bow-tie emblem.

Sport models have a more menacing look akin to SS versions of the TrailBlazer and 2006 Silverado.

In the broadside view, Equinox looks different from the rest of the Chevy Truck family. The roof pillars and the sheetmetal above the windows but below the roof seem to be extra-thick, imparting a feeling of extra solidity and strength, important for a truck made on a car platform. When you shut the doors, the sound is more like the muted mating of plastic than the hollow clang of sheetmetal. It's a sound that no other Chevy truck makes.

The doors open wide for easy entry and exit, and the rear gate goes up and out of the way, allowing you to stand fully upright for easy loading of groceries, camping equipment, or dogs.

The Equinox looks solidly planted on its wheels. Equinox is based on a car-type platform, with unit-body construction rather than body on frame for better ride and handling.

With lower stance, low-profile rubber and deeper bodywork the Sport reinforces that notion, but it is more likely to drag the front on something if you take your Equinox off the pavement or barrel into steep driveways at speed.

Interior Features

The Chevy Equinox cabin is a clean and functional design. The quality of some of the materials and control interfaces in the 2006 Equinox was disappointing. Chevrolet addressed some of our concerns for '07 with a new instrument cluster, center stack, shift knob, steering wheel, and heater and ventilation (HVAC) controls.

For 2008, window switches are lighted and the compass has moved from the mirror to the Driver Information Center that includes more than 20 personalization and vehicle information features, such as trip odometer, fuel range, outside temperature display and door locking programs. The 2008 Equinox Sport gets new gauges.

Rear-passenger legroom is excellent. The rear seat rides on a track that allows it to slide back and forth up to eight inches, to bring kids or briefcases closer to the front, or to provide extra legroom for tall second-row passengers. With both front and rear seats in the full rearward positions, there's more rear-passenger legroom in the Equinox than you'll found in many larger SUVs: a full 40.2 inches. With the rear seat completely forward, there's 35.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind it. But even with the seat pushed back into limousine position, there's still plenty of room for your stuff. GM calls this innovative feature the Multi-Flex rear seat.

Because the rear seatback is split 60/40, Equinox can transport two rear passengers along with long cargo items. The front passenger seat folds flat, further extending cargo room length, so you can lay a ladder or other objects inside. When folded, the hard front seatback can be used as a table or desktop.

Rear passengers enjoy a 12-volt power outlet and a fold-down center armrest with two additional cupholders.

Cubby storage: Up front, Equinox carries flexible net storage pockets on both sides of the center tunnel. The center console/armrest has a small storage cubby and a coin holder for toll money. Dual cupholders pop out of the end of it, but they're flimsy and get in the way of the handbrake. The armrest flips up, providing better access to an open floor console that's a perfect place for a purse, briefcase or tote bag. The floor-mounted cupholder works well, while slots farther to the rear holds CDs angled forward for easy selection.

The Sport interior is trimmed in dark ebony, with the requisite leather-wrapped steering wheel and more heavily bolstered front seats. All the practical flexibility of the regular Equinox remains, however.

2008 Ferrari F430 Scuderia lightweight version

On Sale:
Spring 2008
Expected Pricing:
About $220,000

2008 Ferrari F430 Scuderia

The Ferrari F430 Scuderia, a lightweight version of the F430 coupe, goes on sale next spring.

The F430 Scuderia, which joins the F430 Coupe and Spyder already on the market, is powered by a 510-hp, 9000-rpm, 4.3-liter V8 engine that makes almost 30 horsepower more than the standard F430 engine. Ferrari says it can go from a dead stop to 62 mph in a mere 3.7 seconds. The engine uses a carbon-fiber intake manifold and a sophisticated spark plug ionization-monitoring ignition system. A paddle-shifted six-speed semiautomatic transmission is standard on the car.

The Scuderia model is a lightweight version of the existing F430 coupe, with a few extra grilles and vents on the body for cooling, and a pair of pointed stripes running over the body from nose to tail. Ferrari says it is completely street legal in the United States, but the car has only the bare minimum of creature comforts for the weekend racer who wants the fastest version available.

Some of the exotic extra-cost features on the Scuderia version include the latest version of the F1 Superfast2 software, which reduces gearshift time down to 60 milliseconds. A new traction control system incorporates F1-Trac traction and stability control with an E-Diff2 electronically controlled clutch-pack differential. Ferrari says the Scuderia version marks the first time all three systems have been combined in a single black box control system. Carbon ceramic brakes are standard equipment.

Future Cars 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe

On Sale:
Spring 2009
Expected Pricing:
$22,000 to $29,000

2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe

2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder GS

2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder Summary

The 2009 Eclipse Spyder is a 2-door, 4-passenger convertible, or convertible sports car, available in two trims, the GS and the GT.

Upon introduction, the GS is equipped with a standard 2.4-liter, I4, 162-horsepower engine that achieves 19-mpg in the city and 26-mpg on the highway. A 5-speed manual transmission with overdrive is standard, and a 4-speed automatic transmission with overdrive is optional. The GT is equipped with a standard 3.8-liter, V6, 265-horsepower engine that achieves 16-mpg in the city and 25-mpg on the highway. A 6-speed manual transmission with overdrive is standard, and a 5-speed automatic transmission with overdrive is optional.

The 2009 Eclipse Spyder is freshened for 2009.

Key Standard Features:

  • Rockford Fosgate(R) AM/FM Radio With 650-Watts, Speed Sensitive Volume and 9 Speakers Total; 6-Disc CD Changer; MP3 Player; Sirius(R) Satellite Radio (Includes 6-Months Service)
  • 4-Wheel Anti-Lock Brakes
  • Seat Mounted Front Side Airbags

Quick Facts

Pricing Information

MSRP: $25,799
Estimated Market Price: Not Available
Invoice: $24,418
Total Cost to Own Not Available
Estimated Payments:
$538/month* find current rates

Rebates & Incentives:
Cash Back / Special Financing more info

Standard Engine:
2.4L I4, 16 valve, 162 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • 5 speed manual (standard) or 4 speed automatic transmission
  • 19 mpg city / 26 mpg hwy
  • Green Rating: 61

2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse

2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse Summary

The 2009 Eclipse is a 2-door, 4-passenger family coupe, or sports coupe, available in two trims, the GS and the GT.

Upon introduction, the GS is equipped with a standard 2.4-liter, I4, 162-horsepower engine that achieves 20-mpg in the city and 28-mpg on the highway. A 5-speed manual transmission with overdrive is standard, and a 4-speed automatic transmission with overdrive is optional. The GT is equipped with a standard 3.8-liter, V6, 265-horsepower engine that achieves 16-mpg in the city and 26-mpg on the highway. A 6-speed manual transmission with overdrive is standard, and a 5-speed automatic transmission with overdrive is optional.

The 2009 Eclipse is freshened for 2009.

MSRP: $20,099-$23,999
Invoice: $19,007-$22,695


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hummer H3T Alpha (2009) with pictures and wallpapers

Hummer H3T Alpha

HUMMER is bringing its unmistakable style and unmatched capability to the truck market with the 2009 H3T. It is based on the architecture of the popular H3, but features a five-passenger crew cab and a separate five-foot-long (1.5 meters) bed.

The Hummer H3T is bigger than a midsize truck and smaller than a full-size truck, creating its own niche in the market. It also is infused with the attributes expected of a HUMMER, including exceptional off-road capability and a premium interior that is as functional as it is comfortable.

"With its unique size and HUMMER traits, The Hummer H3T is ideal for the customer who works hard and plays harder," said Martin Walsh, HUMMER general manager. "It offers the combination of truck versatility and HUMMER off-road prowess that delivers customers to the trail in style."

In addition to its segment-defying size, The Hummer H3T also stands apart from other trucks with its signature HUMMER off-road capability. It is the only midsize truck to come standard with full-time four-wheel drive, 32-inch tires and functional skid shields. It also is the only midsize truck to offer front and rear locking differentials, as well as 33-inch tires. The V-8-powered H3T Alpha can tow up to 5,900 pounds (2,676 kg).

The Hummer H3T is offered in four trim levels, including five-cylinder models and the popular, V-8-powered H3T Alpha edition. Production is scheduled to begin in the third quarter of 2008 at GM's Shreveport, La., assembly plant, with vehicles arriving at HUMMER dealerships shortly thereafter. HUMMER will sell The Hummer H3T in North America, Europe and the Middle East.


Like all HUMMER models, The Hummer H3T has a purposeful design. Its consistent and iconic styling cues include a wide, aggressive stance; a low roofline and high beltline; and large, off-road tires. The wide, seven-slot grille and round headlamps mounted in square housings are signature HUMMER design elements.

"Form following function is at the core of HUMMER's design philosophy, and The Hummer H3T's capability reflects that mantra," said Carl Zipfel, HUMMER director of design and former motocross professional. "It has a distinctive look that could be mistaken for nothing except a HUMMER - and it also has the functionality to get the driver to and from the trail in style."

The crew cab body shares H3 styling and components from the B-pillar forward, while the rear section of the cab and the separate bed are unique to The Hummer H3T. The five-foot bed is similar in design and function to GM's recently redesigned full-size trucks, including an easily removable tailgate and provisions for a bed-rail accessory system. A full-size spare tire is mounted beneath the bed.

The bed is sized to carry a wide range of popular outdoor necessities, from hauling motocross bikes to Baja, a quad to camp, or backcountry gear to the trailhead. One of the industry's largest portfolios of accessories complements The Hummer H3T's bed, offering different cargo management options to suit all of those lifestyle interests.


One of the industry's broadest portfolios of vehicle accessories has been developed for The Hummer H3T. Centered on active lifestyles, items such as removable and lockable bed-mounted storage boxes; an adjustable bike chock that can be used to help secure mountain bikes or motorcycles; and a bed extender make full use of the standard bed-rail cargo management system. A range of additional accessories that improves off-road capabilities, provides passenger entertainment and enhances exterior styling is also available. There are more than 75 HUMMER Genuine Accessories offered.

In addition to the factory-developed accessory portfolio, HUMMER has partnered with top automotive aftermarket companies to develop more than 50 Officially Licensed HUMMER Accessories - a first for the brand. A variety of exterior enhancements, such as a Slant Back Bed Cover, hard tonneau covers and a winch are offered, along with cargo management solutions such as the BedSlide and bed divider, offering countless possibilities to personalize The Hummer H3T.


The Hummer H3T's crew cab cabin offers seating for five adults, with a 60/40-split rear bench seat that folds flat for increased cargo-carrying options. The cabin's layout is essentially identical to the acclaimed H3 SUV, with premium materials and attention to detail that give the vehicle a functional yet refined aesthetic.

Standard amenities also include air conditioning, power locks, power windows and remote keyless entry. An AM/FM radio with CD is standard and a premium Monsoon audio system is available. XM Satellite Radio also is standard and includes three months of trial service.

HUMMER's Rear Vision system and a navigation system are available. The Rear Vision system uses a camera mounted on the rear bumper, directly above the trailer hitch mount, to provide a view of objects directly behind the vehicle. Also, the safety and security of OnStar is standard, with Turn-By-Turn Navigation and hands-free Bluetooth connectivity available.


Standard in The Hummer H3T is the Vortec 3.7L I-5 with dual overhead cams and variable valve timing. This inline five-cylinder engine offers an excellent combination of power and efficiency, delivering 242 horsepower (180 kW) at 5600 rpm* and 242 lb.-ft. of torque (328 Nm) at 4600 rpm. It is backed by a five-speed manual transmission or an available four-speed, electronically controlled automatic.

The Hummer H3T Alpha's 5.3L engine is a powerful and efficient member of GM's legendary small-block V-8 family. It is rated at 300 horsepower (224 kW)* and 320 lb.-ft. of torque (434 Nm).* An aluminum cylinder block is used with the H3 Alpha's engine. It helps reduce overall mass and maintains a more desirable front-to-rear weight balance.

A Hydra-Matic 4L60 electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission is paired with the 5.3L engine. Flat towing is enabled on all H3 and H3T models.


The Hummer H3T's frame and suspension system are based on a stretched version of the H3 SUV's chassis and suspension - the same race-proven design found on Baja 1000-winning stock-class race trucks. The wheelbase measures 134.2 inches (3,409 mm) - 22 inches (86 mm) longer than the H3 SUV.

A ladder-type frame is the truck's foundation and it has a modular, three-piece design that incorporates fully boxed components for outstanding strength and stiffness. An independent SLA torsion bar front suspension and multileaf Hotchkiss-type rear suspension are used. There are two suspension packages available:

  • Z85 Heavy-Duty Handling and Trailering - This standard suspension delivers an excellent balance of on-highway comfort and off-road capability. It includes 32-inch all-terrain tires mounted on 16-inch, smoke-color steel wheels, specially tuned heavy-duty shocks and either a 4.56-ratio (3.7L) or 4.10-ratio (5.3L) rear axle.
  • Off-Road Adventure - Designed for more aggressive off-road performance, this optional suspension package includes taller, 33-inch tires, specifically tuned shocks, locking front and rear differentials, 4.03:1 low-range gearing in the transfer case and industry-leading crawl ratios of either 68.9 with the manual transmission or 56.2 with the automatic.

To support the torque output of the 5.3L V-8, The Hummer H3T Alpha's front differential case is made of cast iron; other models feature an aluminum case. V-8-powered vehicles also receive higher torsion bar rates to support the increased mass and specific shock valving. The chassis and suspensions were validated in real-world testing on off-road trails in Moab, Utah; the Rubicon Trail in California, and other challenging off-road venues.

Off-road capability

The Hummer H3T lives up to HUMMER's legendary off-road reputation, with best-in-class extreme off-road capability. Highlights include:

  • Ability to climb a 60-percent grade and traverse a 40-percent side slope
  • Exceptional 10.2-inch (285 mm) ground clearance (with 33-inch tires)
  • 38.7-degree approach angle and 30.1-degree departure angle (with 33-inch tires)
  • Segment-first available front- and rear-locking differentials
  • Standard HUMMER Hill Hold Assist for improved hill ascension

"For most lifestyles, there's almost nothing The Hummer H3T can't handle," said Walsh. "It's a truck with HUMMER's immutable capability."

Complementing the features that enable The Hummer H3T's impressive off-road prowess are a host of first-class protective elements, including four standard skid shields: a front shield, an oil-pan shield/front-axle shield, a transfer case shield and a fuel tank shield.


Continuing HUMMER's tradition of delivering a broad range of safety systems, The Hummer H3T offers the following standard features:

  • Dual frontal air bags with GM's passenger sensing system
  • Head curtain side-impact air bags
  • StabiliTrak electronic vehicle stability control system
  • Four-wheel ABS with traction control
  • Tire pressure monitoring system
  • LATCH rear child seat anchors
  • OnStar with one-year Safe & Sound service
The Hummer H3T was also designed for vehicle-to-vehicle compatibility in the event of a crash, and its rigid body structure provides good passenger protection