Friday, December 22, 2006

Happy Holidays and a helpful hint for Mr Tapscott

It's the Friday before Christmas, and I just want to say thank you to the readers of MyFordDreams, both of you, and wish you all a Happy Holiday!
And with the Holiday Season here's an article that Mark Tapscott of "Carnival of Cars" fame sent me. It's an editorial that discusses the obvious scam of Speeding vs Bad Drivers
DWI/Distracted Drivers more dangersous than Speeding!

Don't forget to click the link on the side to check out each week's Carnival of Cars. And Gary of the Garage Blog is starting a Carnival of Wheels feature. They say immitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so let's hope that Gary does a great job.

So have a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanuka or Happy Kwanza, whatever your flavor, just spend it with people you love and be careful out there.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I agree with Bob of Cars Cars Cars! Don't bring a Mustand sedan and wagon to market, it's stupid!

Bob S of Cars Cars Cars! fame had a piece the other day about an uupcoming AutoWeek piece on the prospect of Ford expanding the Mustang "brand" by expanding with sedan and wagon variants.
I've read articles and comments over the last two years saying that's exactly what Ford should do, but it's a stupid idea. I'm not saying not to use Mustang parts, I'm saying don't use the Mustang name on a sedan or wagon. Don't tarnish an icon!

Ford has allowed their rear wheel drive platform, the Panther Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis/Town Car triplets to get old and irelivant. They're underpowered compared to even many V6 sedans and the chassis has evolved since it's 1979 rollout, but nobody is shocked to see sales just dry up.
But a Mustang sedan and wagon??? Don't be fooled Ford had this idea before, and even worse. Did you know that in the 60's after the original Mustang's impressive debut that FoMoCo had mock ups of Mustang wagons and sedans? They did. And again in the 70's the idea was dusted off, but luckily both times someone had the presence of mind not to fuck up a good thing. The origianl Mustang was based on Ford Falcon mechanicals, and there were already Falcon sedans and wagons selling quite well.
But AutoWeek says that like GM, Ford could go to their Australian well and draw a drink of relief. Possibly, but when GM took the Monaro and turned it into the GTO it was imported in low numbers and not the best planned conversion. A friend of mine has and loves a new GTO, but have you ever seen the trunk? The gas tank takes up much of the space.
I'm not saying Ford shouldn't tap into the Australian Ford Falcon for a new rear wheel drive sedan and wagon, I'm saying don't use the Mustang name! What's wrong with Falcon?? It fits with the stupid F naming scheme. It's not a name that's so damaged like "Pinto" or "Fairmont" that people would run screaming in the other direction. Hell, there hasn't been a Falcon on US Ford Dealer's lots since 1970, many consumers today won't remember the name. If not Falcon, why not LTD or Galaxie? How about Maverick?
And why not Ranchero!!!! Hell if you federalize the platform it's a no brainer to expand with the Australian Ute.
And you say you want all wheeel drive optional? Well, lucky you, the Falcon chassis with some mods has the Territory CUV! With a little work, this system could be put under a sedan as well.
I'm sure Ford wants to tap into the baby boomer's renewed interest in rear wheel drive, hell I'd be thrilled, but as Bob S points out the Charger name had been out of circulation for a while, and despite what Mopar faithful say had been poluted in the 80's by being on a K-car based coupe!
Don't, I repeat DON'T!! Fuck up the Mustang!

I've been saying since the earliest days of MyFordDreams that Ford should tap into the Aussie Falcon, and they should, but don't damage an icon in the process.

If anyone in Dearborn wants some help, feel free to contact me, I'll slap the stupid out of you.

New Focus C-Max, a small people mover not sold here.... WHY?

Here's the new 2007 Ford C-Max people mover from Europe.
I would love to see this little Focus based people mover sold here in the US. It seems that the market is moving toward small cars again, models like the Dodge Caliber, Mazda5, Chevy HHR, Honda Element and the new Jeep Compass/Patriot twins seem to show that there is a market for them. And Ford's answer? Well, first they're going to kill the Focus wagon, and replace it with?? Nothing!

Sure gas prices have come back down below $3 per gallon, but does that mean they'll stay there? If there' an emerging niche and you have a competative model overseas you would think to bring it here, wouldn't you?

Just another observation of Ford's inability to think on thier feet. While some manufacturers like Honda and Chrysler are preparing to bring Diesel power to their US models, what is Ford's response? I don't know, and I don't think they know either!

Ford has some sharp products globally, very competative models, when are they going to smarten up?

The New Ranger in New Zealand, impressive demonstration.

While the Ford Ranger dies a slow painful death here in the US, around the globe Ford customers are enjoying a completely new Ranger that's bigger and stronger, yet more "car like" and plush. And Ford knows just how important the Ranger is globally. In New Zealand at a press roll out of the new model, they highlighted the new Diesel's power by towing a 46 foot fishing boat across a beach. Click the link and take a look at the picture, the boat dwarfs the truck, yet the only change to the truck was to air down the tires for traction on the sand.

Why can't we get this Ranger !

Monday, December 04, 2006

A fan's renewed call for some fresh inovative product!

You know, it's sad to watch Ford go through these death throws, especially knowing what I know. I know that Ford can and does make some great product! I know that Ford has had some of the most critically aclaimed show concept cars over the last decade! I know that somebody, or more than likely several somebodies in Dearborn need a kick in the head! Take a look at this Iosis X concept from Europe, doesn't it get your hear going?
And do you know what? This concept might actually make it to production, but not for the US. No, Ford thinks we're sheep in the US. They're afraid to really make "Bold Moves" here. Don't get me wrong, they are a BOLD company around the world, just not in the US lately.
Take a look at the Australian market! This Territory Crossover is based on Fairlane archictecture, base models have rear wheel drive and a 4.0 Liter I-6, but there are turbo and all wheel drive versions with leather and every option you could imagine! It's a really nice vehicle.
What about the new Ranger, the one that's going to spread across the globe, with two Diesels and class leading interior and dependability.
What about all the hot concepts? How about this B sized Reflex Sporty Coupe, with it's Diesel/Hybrid powertrain? Wouldn't this be a Bold Move!
How about the Faction? A mini crossover sport hatch, that with Focus power and drivetrain could teach Honda, Hyundai, Toyota and the others a real lesson.
Everybody loved the Bronco concept, isn't there a way to bring that to market quickly? Just look at Jeep's new Compass/Patriot, Dodge's new Nitro and Caliber, the new Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and the Toyota FJ Cruiser. These are risky moves, but so far they're gaining traction in the market. There is room for niche vehicles, why can't Ford take advantage of that?
Why do we get the Fusion/Dave look and the rest of the world gets Kinetic/Iosis style? Take a look at the new Mondeo, it's sharp, it's got style. Don't think so? Well, if it's good enough for James Bond, I think it does.
The new Mondeos are great, 4 and 5 doors as well as Estate (station wagon) models with a nice range of petrol and diesel powertrains, most available with a 6 speed manual and some with all wheel drive!

The fact is that Ford can build interesting cars, the question is when are we going to start seeing them?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Motor Trend on Mazda BT-50, another clueless auto rag

I read this piece on the new Mazda BT-50 pickup at Motor Trend's site and was impressed. I was impressed with the truck and the way the author neglected to mention the Ford DNA it carries.
While the writer rightfully complained that we will never get this excelent pickup here in the US, and praised it's Diesel powerplants, he never once mentioned the fact that the Mazda BT-50 is a Ford design, using Ford Diesel and Petrol engines. I've been saying for a long time, that Ford has the solution for it's North American Ranger's problems in it's international parts bin, but when the rest of the world recieved this completely new Ranger/BT-50, that became even more clear!
As most of the competition here and abroad has a crew cab option, so too do the Mazda/Ford twins. And in the past only a 2.5 liter I-4 Diesel was offered, but now there is the 3.0 liter V6 Diesel as well! And of course there is a 4.0 liter Petrol V6 (the same offered in the US Ranger and Mustang.) But Motor Trend and others are too biased against Ford to even mention that this is in fact a Ford designed truck, using Ford power.

I personally think that both Ford and Mazda need this in the US with the Diesels! And of course the Crew Cab!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

SHO article at AutoBlog got me thinking

I know this piece is over two weeks old, but I'm slow to blog lately. AutoBlog did a piece on the Ford Taurus SHO and I enjoyed it and the comments. I owned a 93 Taurus SHOmatic for a year or so, a winter beater I bought for shits and giggles . But there was more of a surprise for me....
We all know Jay Leno is a "Car guy" but who knew that
Conan O'Brien, the human cartoon is too? Don't get me wrong I like O'Brien, think he's funny as hell. But I always thought of him as a city dweller and assumed that he didn't even own a car. But AutoBlog even has a video posted of O'Brien behind the wheel of his SHO.
In the comments after their post there is one guy who likens the engine to a work of art. I would be inclined to agree with him, but Milt my mechanic wasn't as fond of this engine. Changing spark plugs or sensors was a major pain for him. I wouldn't have even tried to work on it myself, just too much with too little room. But did it sing! This car made all the right noises and despite mine being a used beater with 120,000 miles on the clock, it was a blast to drive.
Like Conan, mine was green, unlike his mine didn't have the manual transmission. Now I know slushboxes aren't supposed to be in sports sedans, but this is what was available at the time. And although I know the transmissions can be problematic, according to my friend who bought his new and had to replace it several times. Mine never gave me a moments trouble. The transmission didn't, but there was the fire under the hood caused by a bad anti-lock brake module and a few electrical gremlins. But still this car was a hoot. Fun to drive, comfortable and even with a heavy pedal foot not too bad on gas.

If there are any guys out there looking for a unique fun to drive American car, go get one. Get it quick though before this is the only way you can find one!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Bush as WMD on Election Day: Dangerous Territory for me, but what the hell

I'm wary about discussing Political Issues, it's a muddy world, and people don't play nice on that side of the blogsphere. Brutal mud slinging on both sides of the isle. But if yesterday's elections taught us nothing else...
While the Republicans were searching for Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.....
The Democrats found what they needed much closer to home.
I'm not a Democrat, I do have some liberal views, but for the most part it's rare that I vote Democrat...
I'm not a Repuclican either. I'm an Independent voter. I take the cafeteria plan when voting, a little from here, a little from there, a balanced helping of democracy. I've voted for Bush and Clinton as well as Reagan, ok the second term only, I'm not that old. But yesterday's elections showed just how far a party is willing to go to win. The mud was flying, the accusations and ballot challenges. There were ugly races from top to bottom. Even local (State Senate and Assembly) races couldn't avoid the fallout.
Andrea Stewart Cousins, a bright rising star in local Democratic Party, recieved some major support this week, a rally for her was held in Yonkers attended by none other than Slick Willy and the Senator Hillary.
But check the link in the title to see some of the other support her party lent.

Nick Spano, who's been my State Senator for 20 years is her Republican opponent and two years ago won against Stewart Cousins by only 18 votes. 18 Votes!!!!!! So both candidates were in for a strong fight.

But give me a break, why link a New York State Senator with Bush and the War in Iraq??? He didn't vote on any legislation related to the war, not unless New York declared war itself and nobody told me. Nick may not be perfect, and if the voters want to change representation, by all means that's the will of the people, but the BushSpano site and defacement of Spano signs locally ( spray painted with Bush's name next to Spano) is juvenile, even for the Democrats.
Oh and just to prove that I'm not partial to any one candidate, this was the third candidate for that office, Delfim Heusler a "write in" candidate with the Constitution Party, not to be confused with the American Nazi Party or the KKK, the Constitution Party didn't actually have any candidates on the ballot, but Delfim has several blogs if you want to look him up. Or just stop by his mom's house, I'm sure he's there.

Now, like Larry the Cable Guy, I'm going to say that's just wrong...


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Duratec dream? If it's good enough for Cterham why not?

You know, it's easy to piss on the poor Focus, God knows I do it often enough. I complain how we don't get the new Euro Focus and when I was car shopping this year, I went and bought it's more sophisticated (Euro Focus based) Mazda 3 cousin. But the facts are that even our "old" Focus is a car to be reckoned with. It's got a lot of good bits in and under it. Don't forget the multilink independent rear supsension, as oposed to the McPherson struts that support the rears of many of the competition. And of course there are the 2.0 Zetec and 2.3 Duratec powerplants. World class in their own right. Now don't laugh, they really are world class powerplants and if you want proof of that, just look in the article linked in the title about Caterham exclusively using these Ford powerplants in their range of Seven Kit/Specialty cars.
Any car guy knows what a Seven is, even if he's not familiar with the history of the Lotus/Caterham Seven. They've been around for about 50 years and like the Shelby Cobra have been copied many times. We've seen many different powerplants in them from Toyota, Mazda (Rotary) and Rover in the UK, but during this 50 years, more often than not it was a Ford powerplant in the Seven, and it is again! These are highly recognizable cars, the "heavyweight" lightweight, the standard that others have been held up to for handling and power to weight ratios for decades.
And while it's hard to think of the lowly Focus as having real "Serious Street Cred" even if Ford says it has. It's not that difficult if you look into it. Think of it, the Focus challenged and for a while went head to head with the young "Tuner" crowd. They recognized the potential of the 2.0 Zetec and later 2.3 Duratec engines, the competent chassis and low cost of entry. Go to "Import" car shows or drag events and you'll see a very loyal group of followers.
Caterham's offerings for the US market are 2.0 Zetec, 2.3 Duratec and Cosworth tuned 2.3 ranging from 150 to 260 horsepower in a car weighing about 1100 pounds! Hell, my Mazda 3 weighs almost 3 times that and seems fairly quick with 161 hp.
I've always loved the idea of a Seven, I think we all do, but could I live with it on a regular basis? I don't know, it's low to the ground, very low, and it doesn't have "real" doors or windows, no trunk, not very comfortable. But, it's fast, and it handles like a slot car. Now in the US, it's sold as a Kit car, and not exactly cheap, but for between $30-45K you can have a unique sports car that will do 0-60 in under 5 seconds!

Now in my humble opinion I'd love to see a kit car of the Austin Healy 3000 powered by the 2.3 Duratec, especially that 260 hp Cosworth version. These cars had roll up windows and were more comfortable. I don't need 0-60 in 5 seconds, and I like the idea of having a 3 season sporty car. Just a thought. I've always had a soft spot for English cars and Kit cars based on them. I remember seeing a V-8 kit called the Saxon in the 80's, that was a Healy repica. I wouldn't mind seeing a version with the Duratec. That would be great, power and economy, with a trunk for weekend trips and a real top.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Driving Enthusiast dot Net, Jeff Fisher's new blog!

Jeff Fisher has recreated his blog and I'm finally getting around to updating the link. Jeff doesn't blog about Ford alone, although he does a great job of covering them. It's a new layout and Jeff is a great source for indepth analysis take a click on over and I'm adding the new link to the sidebar.

Interesting Internet Poll on forum.....

I found this interesting poll at a forum linked in title and thought it a good idea. What is your favorite Ford brand and why? Some of the answers given in the forum were interesting, and some of their "facts" were wrong, but interesting none the less.

Now it's got to be obvious that my favorite Ford brand is Ford itself, based on past, present and potential future models in the US and globally. But I will go further and give my top 5 in order.

1 Ford , the base of the pyramid, the strongest of the brands.

2 Mazda , even though it's only partially Ford owned, it's controlled by Ford and has been a real asset and money maker.

3 Lincoln , the once and future king of Ford's brands. While currently looking like a goldfish floating upside down, there is potential here for a comeback and profitability.

4 Volvo , with this brand there's no need for Mercury and the added benefit of the safety reputation and strong sales with potential for growth globally, make it a no brainer.

5 Range Rover , this one's where I'm a fence sitter, I see potential for expanding the brand by using the recently aquired Rover name, but could also see Range Rover sold to bolster the company ledger. It's a coin toss, but I have always been a fan of Land Rovers and Range Rovers. There's a certain cache to the brand and it's not as much of a money pit as Jaguar or Aston Martin.

These are the 5 brands I believe should be saved, that leaves 3 to either kill or sell. Mercury is a dead brand, but Jaguar and Aston Martin could be bundled and sold to aviod further losses and gain extra cash for a redevelopment war chest.

What do you think?

Monday, October 23, 2006

What may the future hold? What should it?

I've been disheartened as of late, with the state of Ford and their lack of interesting product for the US market. Much is being said about the new Ford Edge CUV, some good some bad. But it seems that every article I've read recently claims that this will be a make or break vehicle for Ford. But we've heard that before. The Fusion was supposed to be the car that revitalized the company. Don't get me wrong, the Fusion is a great car and while it doesn't seem that it's sales are stellar, they aren't tanking either. Recent advertisements have anounced the availabiltiy of All Wheel Drive for the Fusion/Milan twins, and of course it's also an option on the MKZ (Zephyr.) The biggest complaints I've read about the new Edge (which I haven't seen in person) are about the interior, especially the lack of a third row seat. Many journalists/bloggers are saying a redesign of the interior is needed. I've only seen photos, and like what I have seen, but if there is not third row seat, it seems like a major oversight on Ford's part. Even in the mini-SUV/CUV models there are third row seat models. The Toyota RAV4 and Suzuki XL7 are just 2.
But even Mazda's CX9 has a third row. So, what's the brain damage in Dearborn? Are they thinking that a third row Edge may cut into sales of the Freestyle? If there were sales to cut into that is. Is it concern about the Explorer? It's short sighted stupidity is what it is!

And what about Diesels? I've been reading about the availability of "Clean Diesel," the low sulphur blend that the Feds mandated. I've been saying for a long while, that Ford should have been in a position to take advantage of this change, with their range of Diesel powerplants from around the globe. And then there's "Dave" the "American" design initiative, with 3 bar grill bland styling! While Europe and the rest of the globe get "Kinetic" design with cues from the Iosis concept, we get Dave.

Ugh! I want the new Mondeo! And I want it with the 2.0 TDI ! With a six speed manual!!!!!!!!!