Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Auto-Future a European blogger has a post about Focus CUV

David, a fellow Blogspot blogger sent me a link to a piece he's done on the new Ford CUV based on the Focus. Yet another example of great ideas and products from FoMoCo that we don't see here in the US.

The Focus CUV is the platform that will underpin the new Freelander/LR2 that we should see in the US. And if you look at the rest of David's blog you'll see articles on the Mondeo and Fiesta as well. I'm going to keep an eye on for news on European Ford.

Joel A of TheFordBlog makes a good point on platform mates Mazda3/Volvo S40

Joel A over at the Ford Blog makes a good point in a recent post. A lot of people, myself included make simplifications about platform sharing and the cars involved. In the case of the Mazda3 and Volvo S40, platform-mates on the C1 platform that includes the European Ford Focus, he points out they are really completely different cars, directed at seperate buyers. While it's true that these cars (Ford/Mazda/Volvo) share the same platform, it's not true that they are the same. In the case of the Volvos we're talking about not only completely unique bodywork, but drivetrains. While Mazda and Ford share basic powerplants in the 2.0/2.3 I-4 the Volvos use I5s only shared with Ford's European Focus ST. Even the Ford and Mazda powertrains are differentiated, with the Mazda utilizing Variable Valve Timing and achieving 10 hp more.

There are shared mounting points and some parts, but the brakes and suspension are not direct bolt over swaps either. The interiors are unique and if you closely examine each car you will notice many more differences than similarites.

This is not GM rebadging J Bodies, it's "platform" sharing meaning the basic structure. While I constantly refer to my 3 as the Focus I should have been able to buy, the truth would be that if a C1 Focus was on sale in the US, it would be a different car with a different feel.

The same can be said for the Fusion/Mazda6 and the VolvoS80/Ford 500, basic architecture is shared but they are unique vehicles. Good post Joel. You may recognize Joel's writing from TheCarBlog as well.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest

I received an e-mail from Robert Moffit and wanted to share it with you. I know my alternatefuel blog has fallen to the side of the road, but still feel that our future must include cleaner burning more fuel efficient cars and trucks. Recent news online has been discouraging, with Diesels being pulled from the US market because of Emissions regulations and the availability of E-85 being non-existant in much of the US, but thinking long term we need to keep the ideas alive. I have hope for Ethanol,Bio-Diesel and Hydrogen even if it's not today, we have to think of tomorrow. Read the press release from the ALA below;
For Immediate Release ;

Drivers Want A Clean Air Choice At The Pump and Dealership American Lung Association survey illustrates strong interest in E85 and flexible fuel vehicles
Saint Paul, Minn. -(May 25, 2006) - A new survey shows consumer awareness of the ethanol-based alternative fuel E85 is relatively high at 60 percent. More than 80 percent of drivers polled would prefer an E85-capable flexible fuel vehicle and E85 fuel brand recognized by the American Lung Association as a Clean Air Choiceä.
The American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest, serving the states of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, have promoted E85 and biodiesel fuels as a Clean Air Choiceä since 1999. More than one million visitors per year are now tallied at the organization’s website,
Findings of the consumer research study are released just as E85 fuel, where available, is enjoying a surge in popularity with owners of flexible fuel vehicles ¾ and as concerns persist over rising gasoline prices and U.S. dependence on petroleum imports. More than 5 million flexible fuel vehicles, capable of fueling on any mix of E85 or gasoline, are now on American roadways.
“The survey tells us Americans are looking for choices that are cleaner, environmentally friendly, and renewable,” said John Kirkwood, CEO of the American Lung Association. “And, that they look to the American Lung Association as a credible source in identifying ways to improve air quality. This is particularly true of Californian drivers surveyed, as they must live and work in areas that have consistently earned an ‘F’ in our annual State of the Air Report.”
Other findings from the survey include:
· Nearly all respondents in all regions expressed strong interest in purchasing a vehicle that could use E85. · More than 80 percent strongly or somewhat preferred an E85-capable flexible fuel vehicle recognized as a Clean Air Choiceä.
· Midwesterners are most aware of E85 with more than 65 percent saying they are very or somewhat familiar with the cleaner burning, renewable-based gasoline alternative.
· Eighty-five percent of respondents indicated they would strongly or somewhat prefer a fuel company that offers both gasoline and E85 and is recognized as a Clean Air Choiceä.
· GM and Ford are the perceived leaders in FFV production, with GM gaining 10 percent since Phoenix Automotive conducted a similar survey in January 2006.
· More than 80 percent of respondents believed that recognition by the American Lung Association helped affirm the positive effects the use of E85 will have on the environment.
The online survey of vehicle owners focused primarily on the “Ethanol Heartland” states of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin; however, it also included subsets of both California drivers and respondents from across the United States as a national benchmark. Conducted by Phoenix Automotive, a Birmingham, Michigan-based division of Phoenix Marketing International, on behalf of the American Lung Association of Minnesota, the survey sampled the opinions of 1,651 vehicle owners. The complete survey and details are available at Information about Clean Air Choice Partnerships is also available through the website.
For 100 years, the American Lung Association has been the lead organization working to prevent lung disease and promote lung health. Lung disease death rates continue to increase while other leading causes of death have declined. The American Lung Association funds vital research on the causes of and treatments for lung disease. With the generous support of the public, the American Lung Association is “Improving life, one breath at a time.” For more information about the American Lung Association or to support the work it does, call 1.800.LUNG.USA (1.800.586.4872) or visit

Ranger review from the lone star state

Interesting review of the Ford Ranger in the Texarkana Gazette, and now for some reason I hear Jerry Reed singing Eastbound and Down. The author points out what a deal the Ranger is with 10% dealer price cuts and $2,000 factory cash back, while pointing out that Toyota and Nissan don't need to heavily discount their new trucks. It's undeniable that the Ranger is a good value as well as a capable truck.

The only area I find fault with the author is where he states that the "all new" Ranger in the UK is based on the F-Series truck. I believe he's mistaken, does anyone know?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Jerry Flint sets his gaze upon FoMoCo again

Jerry Flint is at it again, setting his gaze on FoMoCo and sharing his sage wisdom. So of course that means that I have to comment on Mr Flint's comments. It's not possible for me not to, there's something about him, that drives me to do it. It's not that I don't respect him or his opinion, I do. So today Mr Flint is commenting on Ford's slaughter of modles since 2000. Now go over and read Mr Flint's article and then come back here to see how we match up.
Anyone can kill a model or two. But look at the list. There are so many at Ford. Is it any wonder the company's in trouble?

Go Jerry Go! Off to a good start.

Taurus (to die soon) How Ford let this happen is a disgrace, the #1 selling midsize car in the US. And as reported everywhere, it's outsold both of it's replacements over the last few months. Ford now needs to relight that fire.
Sable (the Mercury Taurus, dead already)
Well, I was never a big fan of the Sable, but at least in early versions there was differentiation. In the end they were indistinguishable.
Thunderbird (The only Ford anyone turned to see, dead)
This was a crime, the Thunderbird was an awsome car, that dealers first abused by overcharging for, and FoMoCo made no improvements on. They kept it around just long enough to reach the 50 th birthday.
Lincoln Blackwood (Who approved this and is he still at Ford?)

What the hell was FoMoCo thinking? I hated the Blackwood from day 1.
Lincoln Aviator (not bad but gone anyway)

Never a big fan of huge SUVs, the Aviator was my favorite. An Explorer with 300 hp and all the bells and whistles. And I thought the new Aviator/MKX was good, but should have kept the Aviator name.
Escort (remember the Escort? 400,000 sales)

The Escort was never one of my favorites. I remember back in 87 when I was shopping for my first new car, I looked at the Escort and the smaller Festiva and bought the Festiva because even though it was the bottom rung of the Ford ladder it was a better car. But how do you let it just degrade the way they did?
Ford Contour (the $6 million baby, the failed transplant)

I must have been one of the few that liked the Contour ( Mondeo elsewhere around the globe) especially the SVT version. But the Escort had grown almost as large and the Taurus was a better value.
Mystique (the Mercury Contour)

Another ditto car, not enough different styling to matter.

This one was just crap, I wasn't sorry to see it go. The Taurus of the Lincoln world, even with it's V-8 it was slow. And how many of these do you see dragging the ground because of faulty air bags?
Excursion (the bigger they come…)
This was a rolling male enhancement (trying to keep it PG) that surpisingly I saw drove by liliputian women more than burly contractors. But jeez, there's got to be a limit to how big these things get, right?
Lincoln LS (this car was murdered)

Preach Jerry preach!! This was an amazing car, initially a little underpowered, recieved minor improvements and was then abandoned. What a crying shame. This is the car that should have afforded FoMoCo a chance to elevate the brand, instead they went the SUV/truck route. This same chassis supported the T-Bird and Jaguar S-Type, the S-Type recieved all the improvements this deserved, including supercharged 4.0 V-8 making 390 hp.
Mercury Cougar

Based on the Contour/Mystique with a very stylish coupe body, this was just not given a chance. It was left in the background for several years and just needed a couple of extra ponies under the hood. Now it seems that Gen Y and others have taken this orphan under their wings, as I've seen quite a few of these at car shows and cruise nights givne the tuner treatment.
Mercury Villager

Just a rebadged Nissan Quest, a half hearted effort to give Mercury unique content. But both the Mercury and Nissan vans were poor competitors in the shark tank that is mini van market.

That's thirteen vehicles, and I may have missed some. I've never seen anything like it. And we know there are more to come. The Ford GT is going, and I suspect the Windstar minivan and its Mercury sidekick, the Monterey, are not long for this world. When the Wixom, Mich., plant closes I suppose the Lincoln Town Car will go. And I've never been able to figure out the plan for the Ford Freestyle, which is the new crossover (though it looks just like a station wagon) built in Chicago. One day it's going to die, then it's going to live, then there's to be a Mercury version, then there's not. I've lost track and stopped trying.

Jerry nails some good points here, the FreeStar/Montery are doomed, and Ford is reportely pulling out of the Mini Van market, opting to bring out the new Fairlane MPV/CUV instead. It's a case of FoMoCo admitting it can't compete in a segment. Funny that they offer so many nice Mini Vans/MPVs in Europe, the Galaxy and S-Max being the best examples.

Your former top-selling vehicles like the Focus and the Ranger have problems today. They are dying out there. Don't just sit there, fix the problems!

I'm right there with you Jerry, the Focus and Ranger are the latest examples of FoMoCo's unwillingness to give support to what were class leading models. It's a sad state of afairs.

Hold on, I got through one of Flint's pieces without disagreeing? Well it happens sometimes.

Ford are you listening? Mr Flint has yet another wake up call for you.

Turbo Diesel V-8 for Range Rover from Ford, what other applications could you see?

So I was reading this piece on Ford's new Turbo Diesel V-8, that's destined for the Range Rover and was thinking what else could Ford use this in? Well of course there's Jaguar, but what US models could it be used in? With 240 hp and 420 lb ft of torque and achieving 25 mpg, it could be put in the Panther triplets Crown Vi/Grand Marquis/Town Car. But since those models are being left to die on the vine, it's not bloody likely.

And then in a moment of clarity, I thought trucks! The Expedition and F-150 could use a Diesel option, and not the PowerStroke from the SuperDuty trucks. How cool would that be? A Turbo Diesel V-8 with a ton of available power and better fuel economy in Ford's bread and butter light trucks. Read the article linked in the title and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Reflex & Bronco to be produced?

Interesting article speculating on production of two of my favorite Ford concepts from recent years, the Reflex and Bronco. And I couldn't agree more that the Reflex could be the Scion fighter that many of us are looking for. But I'm not Gen Y, so I don't know how appealing it is to that generation.
And in this article the Bronco is sub $20k, a more reasonable guess than a few months ago when reports had it under $10k. This article doesn't mention what chassis the new Bronco would be based on or what powertrain it would use. But just to remind readers the concept was based on Fiesta mechanicals powered by Ford's DuraTorq 1.4 Diesel.

So in my opinion it would be easiest to build both of these concepts if they are based on variations of the Fiesta platform. As I've pointed out many times there are already several vehicles utilizing Fiesta mechanicals ; Fiesta, Fusion (UK), EcoSport, Bantam/Courier, Ka, Puma and Ikon, with Front or all wheel drive available powered by both Diesel and Petrol motors. With shared mechanical components, the cost to produce comes down, making either or both more likely.

I believe Ford should build a new Flexible Production Facility here in North America to build Fiesta, EcoSport, Bronco and Reflex and avoiding currency fluctuation problems.

Monday, May 22, 2006

SVT Fusion and Edge? Autoblog link to Wards article

Maybe the obituary for Ford's SVT was premature, maybe this is just hopefull speculation. But AutoBlog links to a Ward's Auto article discussing the possability that Ford would produce SVT versions of the Fusion and Edge. Even before the Fusion hit dealer lots, there was speculation, optomisim and hope that Ford would do an SVT Fusion. And why not, Ford has experience with the Taurus SHO and SVT Contour.
And the Edge shares DNA with the Fusion, so an SVT version would be a natural. But how do you improve on the Edge's 3.5L DOHC V6 putting out 265 hp? Sure the Fusion has "only" 221 hp from it's current top engine, the 3.0L V6 with Mazda tune.
So do you go the MazdaSpeed6 route? 274hp 280 lb ft of torque, all wheel drive, 6 speed manual? The power is superior to the 3.5, even if just by 10 hp. But will the all wheel drive and 6 speed manual make it to the Fusion? I know Ford plans an AWD option on almost all it's vehicles in coming years, but the MazdaSpeed system ? Since the Fusion is based on Mazda6's platform, it's possible.

But what about the 3.5? As I read on Jeff Fisher's blog and elsewhere, it's been designed with Direct Fuel Injection and Turbo Charging in mind. Could we see a real asphalt burner based on the 3.5? If the production engine is slated to put out 265hp, how much more could we expect from a turbo with direct injection? 365 hp??

What do you think? Would Ford dare put a V6 more powerfull than a Mustang GT's V8 in the Edge or Fusion? Hell, here's a better question, how much longer can Ford get away with only 300 hp in the Mustang?

I think Ford doesn't have the spine to give real power, they'll do a body kit and big wheels. Maybe some power, but not enough to challenge the Mustang, too bad.

You're going to ask what's the Ford connection, but be patient

You're probably saying what's going on Joe? Why is there a picture of a VW Vanagon on MyFordDreams ? Well I received an interesting E-mail today from Jim over at Bostig Engineering. It seems that Jim's company has engineered an engine swap for the Swiss Army Knife on wheels.
Using a 2.0 Ford Zetec to give the Vanagon more usable power. Jim wrote me and I checked his site (linked in title) " I run a little company here in Boston. It's a little odd, but since you're a ford guy you might like it. We put the venerable zetec 2.0L into 83-91 VW vanagons. Check it out... " The Ford's 130 stock hp are a huge advantage over the Stock boxer's 67-91 hp (as per the Wiki link above) and with the aftermarket parts it's conceivable to put closer to 200 hp to the wheels.

Thanks to Jim for writing, if anyone else has a Ford connected web site, let me know and I'll post on it.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Aren't we changing our driving habits because of fuel prices?

A lot of recent reports online and in the mainstream media are saying that despite the rising cost of gasoline people don't seem to be changing their driving habits. And I was discussing this with one of my co-workers. Well we both agree that's bunk. I mean I changed what kind of car I was going to buy, because of the fuel price increases. And both of us have switched to more economical cars to commute to work in.

We can't be the only ones. My friend also drives a V6 compact truck and switched to his other car the PT Cruiser pictured here. I'm sure many people are taking fuel prices into considration while deciding what new car to buy. It's easy for urbanites to change their "driving habits," all they have to do is not take that country drive on the weekend. But for many of us, you have to do the same driving all the time, going to work or food shopping. The difference is what we will drive.

I'm considering vacation options, and most are driving vacations. Why if gasoline prices are rising? Well simple, because air fares are rising also. So while the press doesn't see the change, I'm sure it's there. Besides, what do most of these journalist or pundits know about everyday life, being isolated in mostly urban lives. Middle America or even suburban New York needs to drive, it's not an option. The option will be what we drive.

A snapshot of how Ford is doing in Europe, especially with smaller cars

It depresses me to talk about how bad Ford is doing in the North American market, so when I find an article that discusses Ford doing well it lifts my spirits a little. OK, so it's Europe and emerging markets like Russia and Turkey, but it's still good news involving Ford.

Ford makes a great range of world class cars, like the Fusion MPV available in Europe, the Fiesta and the C-1 Focus. These are competative class leading vehicles. How often do you hear that about a Ford? Outside the US constantly.

Ford offering Diesel and Petrol versions for same price in Belfast

From Ka to Mondeo and everywhere in between, Ford of Europe offers a great range of Diesel powerplants from 1.4 to 3.0 liters. And in Europe you had better have a Diesel option if you want to succeed. I found this article from the Belfast Telegraph, on Ford's effort to make these thrifty powerful Diesels all the more accessable.
Like Hybrids in the US, Diesels offer better economy but with a premium price. A premium that many seem willing to pay, given the fact that over 40% of new cars in Europe are so equipped. But Ford in the UK is trying to take that premium out of the price. Now the article's title is a little misleading, but it's an interesting read. I've copied the table below to illustrate. Ford's new Diesels designed with French partner PSA ( Peugeot/Citreon) are built in the UK and in large enough numbers to bring costs in line with petrol engines. This is promissing for Europe, and who knows it could be for the US if we ever get Diesels from Ford.

"Audi vs Ford "

The models carrying the unique offer are:
Fiesta Zetec - £7,790 - 1.25 petrol or 1.4 TDCi (68PS)
Fusion Style - £9,295 - 1.4 petrol or 1.4 TDCi(68PS)
Focus Sport 5dr - £11,990 - 1.6 petrol or 1.6 TDCi(90PS)
FocusC-MAX Style - 11,575 - 1.6 petrol or 1.6 TDCi(90PS)
Mondeo Edge - £12,745 - 1.8 Petrol or 2.0TDCi(115PS)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

5 door roll call

Just a review of 5 doors, my latest obsession. I spent a lot of time researching what's out there, reading comparison tests in print and going to Edmunds and manufacturers' web sites. I had some criteria for my comparisson, price under $20k with high option content, utility and some level of fun driving. I almost forgot, a manual transmission is a must have option.Obviuosly for me the Mazda3 fit the bill. But what else is out there, and what are their strengths and weaknesses? The Mazda is middle the road as far as utility, there are others that have more cargo room. But the Mazda has the best driving dynamics and in my opinion is the best value for the money.
But the Focus may be the value leader if price is the biggest factor. With Ford's aggressive discounting and incentive financing it's a tough one to beat. And while I wouldn't buy one because I knew the C1 Focus existed, there are plenty of buyers who couldn't care less C170/C1. And if you don't need all the extra bells and whistles like I have on the 3, then the Focus can still be equipped nicely and perform adequately. But it does suffer in cargo capacity compared to other 5 doors.
Take the Cobalt based Chevy HHR for example. It's got mega space for people and cargo. And it's 172 hp is not too shabby. But there's a weight penalty for all that space that negates some of those extra ponies. And while many love the styling, I'm sick of the Me Too PT Cruiser clone. And when you start adding options that sticker price climbs quickly. A manual trans is offered, but I think you'd have a tough time finding one.
The original retro wagon PT Cruiser is a little shorter than the HHR and doesn't have as much usefull space behind that second seat as you would think. Certainly not much more than my 3. The PT pictured here belongs to a friend and co-worker and I compared it to my 3. This particular PT is loaded to the gills, matching almost all of my 3's features. But the PT pricing is a little high when equipped like this. I know several people that have them and all are impressed with the power. I've never seen a manual transmission in one, although I know it's available.
The Caliber as many will know was a serious contender for my hard earned money, with it's muscular styling, utility to match any in this class and some unique features like the chill zone and music gate stereo. But no amount of gimmicks can make up for it's poor performance on the road. Although horsepower ratings are on par with the others, the CVT transmission is just too alien to me. I'm sure this will sell well for Chrysler and most people will love the smooth transision of the CVT, but I had to pass. The base price of $13,995 is among the lowest in this class. A manual is available, but tough to find according to dealers.
Now Chrysler is going to get the most out of their development money for the Caliber, giving it not one but two Jeep clones, the Patriot and Compass. The prices will be slightly higher than the Dodge, but they will have more AWD options. Like the Caliber it's based on, manual trans is available in FWD.
The Toyota Corrola Matrix has the power and the utility, but is a little quirky for me. Another one that if you check those option boxes can get quite pricey. And I may be one of the few people that just can't stand Toyota. Not just on principle, but I've never liked the feel of any Toyota, the interior materials or the road manners. Just bland as anything. The white bread of automobiles.
And the Pontiac Vibe is just a Matrix with different grille. No excitement here.
Trying to give Ford another shot here, I've looked at the Focus wagon. It's got as much usefull room as the HHR, but you can't option it out as nice as some of the others. It's technically available with a manual transmision, but I've never seen one. It's price when nicely equipped, is middle of the pack. Hell if it just wasn't so dull, it could be a contender.

Now there are others, but I can't load all the pictures in the post. So the Kia Rio5, Suzuki Forenza, Suzuki Reno, Subaru Imprezza, Hyundai Elantra GT,Honda Element and Honda CRV you'll have to look up photos on your own. And none of them impressed me, so they're getting the quick down and dirty.

The Kia Rio is cheap, that says about everything you need to know. Oh and it's gutless too. And ugly. Warranty is one of the best.

The Suzuki Forenza is a nice looking wagon, not really a 5 door. But it's not quite the bargain it would seem. Sure the base price is low, but add on a few options and it bumps $20k without leather, which is not available. The Reno is a 5 door, and suffers the same weakness, the price climbs with options which are limited. Power is adequate on both, but not class leading. The warranties like the Kia and Hyundai are outstanding, but the vehicles are so boring. These two Suzukis are actually rebadged Daewoos, sold in Europe and elsewhere as Chevy models.

Subaru Imprezza suffers from too high price. Even in base trim it's over the $20k ceiling, because of it's standard AWD, Subaru stopped offering FWD many years ago. Great power, decent utility and options that go off the scale, including the 227 hp turbo WRX. A great car, but really not competative with the rest of the pack. It should also be pointed out that the AWD means an economy penalty, that's fairly hefty.

Hyundai Elantra GT is a good car, not as powerful as some on this list and not as much cargo space, but the styling is nice even if a little dated. I know the Elantra is being refreshed now, but not enough to count. The price is low, but so is content at the higer end. It's a car that I want to like, but wouldn't buy. Another that when you option out isn't as thrifty. Fuel economy is about average for this group. But there's no excitement level. It's another blah mobile. Warranty is like it's Kia brother very good.

Honda Element and CRV are really the same vehicle under the skin, sharing platform and all mechanicals. The Element is quirky with it's rear half doors, hose out interior and odd opening rear hatch. The CRV is the more traditional offering. My mother had two of these, one after the other, and I've driven them often. Power is very good even with the automatic and fuel economy is fair. Now the optional part time all wheel drive is a good system, but it's costly. The Element's option list is short but the CRV is available with many of my required options. But price and fuel economy are their down fall.

My top 5 would be the Mazda3, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Dodge Caliber, Ford Focus ZX5, and Chevy HHR. I know I'm biased, but who isn't? Coming in at number 6 would be the Honda twins. But I could not bring myself to buy any of the others despite the value.

What 5 doors do you like? Have I missed any important ones?

No shock, Ford dealers charging premiums for GT500

Is it any surprise that when Ford dealers finally have a car that customers would give their left arm for, that they demand the left leg also? Before the Mustang GT500 is even delivered dealers are charging premiums over sticker price. I recall that when at the New York Auto Show last month, I spoke to a dealer from Central PA who was telling me the cars would go for $60,000.00 at least. And why not? If you were a Ford dealer who's been suffering through all the discounts and force fed inventory, wouldn't you try and make a little extra on a car that customers will fight over and you're only getting one of? Sure the MSRP will be around $45k, but don't expect to buy one for anywhere near that price. This despite what SVT reps at Carlisle last year swore wouldn't happen.

In an all too familiar fashion Ford dealers, SVT or otherwise are salivating over the chance to charge outlandish premiums for their alloted GT500. And if a customer complains, tough there's another buyer who will pony up the extra cash. We've seen it with every hot car over the last decade, and especially from abused Ford dealers in recent years. The new Thunderbird, Mustang GT and GT supercar are the most recent examples. And now with E-Bay and other non-traditional sales outlets Dealers are going to squeeze every cent of profit out of these "Hot models" until they cool off like the Thunderbird or supply reaches demand like the Mustang. See for yourself, look in the back of AutoWeek or on E-Bay, there are always ads for GTs and even still the ocassional Mustang GT.

I would wager that we'll see auctions and ads for the GT500s long before one ever hits a dealer's floor. Some dealers may have already made a tentative deal for their allotted unit.

It's a shame, but it's the reality of the business.

UPDATE: E-Bay autctions found at Jalpnik

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Robert Farago of The Truth About Cars takes aim at Ford's "Bold Moves" not quite a "Death Watch" but Ford must be stinging

The man who started the infamous GM Deathwatch over at The Truth About Cars site has now set his sites on Ford. Now I don't get the feeling he's going to start up a deathwatch for FoMoCo, but he's not pulling punches as he comments on the Bold Moves from Dearborn. I'm not sure I agree with everything he says, hell I know I disagree with his comments about selling Mazda, but it's an itneresting read.
Ford doesn't seem to understand that just saying you're making "Bold Moves" and then shipping out the same crap won't work. It's not enough to say you're "Driving American Innovation" you've actually got to do something. Words are cheap and the last few months have seen nothing but words coming out of Dearborn. "Life in D?" What the hell is that supposed to mean? Life in Dull?
It's not enough to stand between clay models and talk of the "Way Forward." Ford needs to make some Bold Moves on the Way Forward, by Driving American Innovation and bring out some interesting new cars. Not another catchy campain.
I'm so sick of "Dave" and all this other nonsense. I want to know why Ford can compete around the globe, but can't quite get it at home. Why is Europe getting "Kinetic" design and the North American market gets Dave?

Why won't FoMoCo take some risks?

Robert Farago is a real journalist, with far more experience and knowledge of the industry than I, but I can't agree with a lot of what he says. What do you think? Should Ford sell off Mazda and Jaguar? Should Ford trim back models? Read his piece and let me know what you think.

"Zuper Zoom" how you say Zoom Zoom Zoom in Oman

A quick plug for Google, which makes all of this possible, litterally. Blogger is owned by Google, I use Google Image search for many of the images on my blog and some of the posts like this are inspired by Google Alerts I recieve via e-mail.
So today I find this piece (linked in title) in the Times of Oman about Zuper Zoom, a roadshow of Mazda products scheduled to set up shop at 8 locations around the sultanate. I guess Zuper Zoom is how they say Zoom Zoom in Oman.
Oman is an oil rich country just a hop across the Gulf from Iran. And I guess they want to get a little bang for their oil bucks, so the local Mazda outlet has set this up. Now I'm assuming that Oman is ,like it's neighbors , a Muslim country. So I was amused to read that they were going to hilight Mazda culture. I can just see the big posters with western looking men and women pulling surfboards from the top of their Tribute, or a young couple driving with their MX-5's top down. And of course the local women will be covered from head to toe in black with just a little slit for their eyes.
But then again, in many Muslim countries women aren't allowed to drive. Hell in some places they aren't allowed to be out without a male family member escorting them. So I guess it will just be the guys oggling the cars and the posters.

What can I say, it's a quiet day for me.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

With all the internet buzz about the Polo GTI, I figured why not the Fiesta ST150??

I've been seeing the VW Polo GTI all over the web today, Jalopnik and AutoBlog among others. And everyone seems to be drooling over the Golf GTI's little brother, with it's 150 hp, sporty handling and styling. So what's a Ford guy supposed to do? Well, if they live in Europe they can be content that Ford hasn't forgotten them. They have the Fiesta ST 150, a direct competitor for the Polo GTI, with 150 hp!!
I know 150 hp doesn't sound like a lot, but consider the smaller car gets 40 mpg and seats 4 adults. Hell my Mazda3 has 160 hp and is considerably larger, but still seems quick and sporty. So 150 hp in this lighter more nimble package would be a respectable daily driver. And you have to love the LeMans stripes on these two examples here.
It's no Reflex, but it could be! I know, another shameless Reflex plug. But seriously, take the Fiesta ST's underpinnings and give them to this Reflex body, and you'd have one sweet Scion anihalator here. The Fiesta is a capable chassis with plenty of aftermarket support for go fast goodies.
Take a look at this German Fiesta with it's Eibach suspension and larger wheels and rubber. Now just dream of 140 mph and 40 mpg, well ok you won't get 40 mpg at 140 mph, but how often does the average driver hit tripple digit speeds? So screw the Polo GTI, give me the Fiesta/Reflex ST. Who says Ford couldn't build exciting cars if they wanted to? They do around the world, it's just us poor Americans (and Canadians) who are left to suffer.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Reflex fix, yeah I'm sure you're getting tired of it, but I'm not

I just have to get my Reflex fix, I know it's been months since the concept was revieled and it's been featured in many magazines and web sites, but I just don't want this to die like so many good concepts.

How many of you think the Reflex would sell in the US? What changes would you suggest from the concept? How about some reader feedback here. What powertrain, drivetrain layout, options do you want to see? You never know, maybe Ford will read this.

Two weeks into it and very happy, My C1 Mazda

Ok, so I picked up my 3 almost 2 weeks ago, and I've been driving it everyday, and now it's time for driving/owning impressions. I've had a lot of cars over the years, almost 20 different vehicles in just over 20 years. I've had big luxo barges, trucks muscle cars and little eono boxes. And while the tendancy would be to lump the 3 in with that last bunch, I'm not so sure. I mean I know it's a "Box" and it get's great milage, but there's so much more to this little hatch.

For one, the interior is just outstanding, the feel of almost all the materials is just Quality. The only cheap feeling material is the carpet, not the carpeted floor mat, but the actual carpet, especially in the rear seat area. But how often am I going to touch the carpets with my hand? Not enough to take away from the feeling of the dash, steering wheel, door panels, shifter and every control switch.

And it doesn't drive like an economy car, it feels sporty. I know that's an overused term, every schmuck says "sporty", but the handling is as good as any car I've owned, including my Taurus SHO or my Mustang, and they were both Sporty cars. The brakes and steering are absolutely fantastic, the car feels planted on twisty roads at speeds over the legal limit. And around town it feels comfortable and solid.

Now fuel economy isn't as good as I'm expecting, but with only 250 miles mostly urban loop, I'm not disappointed with the 22 mpg that I've gotten from the first tank two weeks. And maybe, just maybe if I wasn't having so much fun doing sprints up and down the parkway, mileage would be closer to EPA ratings. Just a reminder that "your mileage may vary."

I'll say it until I'm blue in the face, Ford needs to bring the C1 Focus, especially the ST here to the states and they need to do it soon.

Motor Trend's Mustang/Camaro comparison

I'm sure most of you are already finished reading Motor Trend's virtual comparison of the Mustang and Camaro. I guess it was a slow news day over there. I guess the month or so lead time on most magazine articles is the reason they had the wrong horsepower rating for the GT500. But it really doesn't matter, after all they based most of the Camaro's data on guesstimates.

Before anyone points out that this is not the right photo for the concept, I know that, I just like this better than the one they built. It's no surprise that the Camaro Concept cleaned the Mustang's clock, even the non existant Boss Mustang with it's 5.4 L V8, even on a simulator FoMoCo doesn't want to give customers the factory muscle, leaving that to the aftermarket.

I know it's just mental masurbation on Motor Trend's part, but interesting read anyway, and really when was the last time I said that about something they wrote. I didn't link to their site, because I'm not registered.