Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The AutoProphet weighs in on FoMoCo's problems, offering his fix..

The Auto Prophet, who like the Lone Ranger and Superman, keeps his identity hidden, has set his eye on FoMoCo and laid out his plan to save the company.

The men who could or should have saved Ford?

This man keeps popping up in connection with the future prospects for Ford, Carlos Ghosn of Renault/Nissan. But of course he's still in talks with GM, isn't he? The Automotive Press, think the sun shines out of his rear, and I'm sure he's good at what he does. But is this one man the Messiah of the auto industry? Doubtful, even he has limits, and being stretched thin between Asia and Europe, it seems unlikely he could be persuaded to leave his current position to take on the challenges at Ford.
This man, Jaques Nasser, former CEO of Ford and now working for JP Morgan Chase, is back in Ford news. Rumors are that Nasser is looking into buying Jaguar and Range Rover from Ford for investors. But let's not forget that Ford is still suffering from some of his lofty ideas. It was Nasser that made the purchases of Ford's Premier Auto Group brands, spending cash reserves like his personal mad money.
Bill Ford Jr, reluctantly let Nasser go and assumed comand of the family fortune's future. Net chatter is that FoMoCo will "privatize" buying back all shares of stock. I'm not Kramer of Mad Money, so I won't speculate on that. But it's obvious Bill Jr isn't the one to bring Ford back to solvency, well not alone at least.
But isn't that why he brought Mark Fields back to the US from Mazda in Japan? Isn't this the guy that's supposed to be making "Bold Moves" to drive "American Innovation" and lead Ford along the "Way Forward" into profitable times? When I read months ago, that Fields was being paid a bonus to stay at least two years, I had a feeling he wasn't going to be the one either. So who can save Ford? Or would it/ should it be one man?

I had though it would be Bill Jr, and that Ford had all the pieces of the puzzle in their global toy chest. But it seems that there is more pain in Ford's future, before anyone can be hailed as the "Man that saved Ford."

AutoBlog posted this days ago, but I just found it and thought it was cool...

Remember that cool commercial that Ford had for the Superbowl in 2005, where Steve McQueen appeared in a corn field and then drove the new Mustang GT? Well AutoBlog has an earlier commercial Ford did where Detective Bullit retraces the route of his famous chase through the streets of San Francisco!
And believe it or not, it wasn't in this! Although that ad would have been very cool. Ford used this particular iconic imagery to sell something far removed from the muscular Mustang GT.
AutoBlog has the YouTube video of McQueen piloting a Ford Puma ( sold in Europe from 1997-2000 and based on Fiesta mechanicals.) Along the same route and then into the garage, where the four wheeled star of the film also make a cameo.

I found this interesting, because while working on my home PC, I found a video clip of the Top Gear crew ( Clarkson and Tif) driving the Puma, as they named it Top Gear's Car of the Year. One of these days, I'll try and post that video also, or find a link to it online.

The Puma was a great idea for Europe, and possibly for the United States someday. I think of it as the precursor for the Reflex. There was even a spec racing series in Europe featuring Pumas.

Enjoy the video, link to AutoBlog in title.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Ford not so busy with the B's , while others move toward emerging segment

This is the year that many expected the B segment to get traction in the US market. A combination of high fuel prices and sticker shock was to see an invigeration at the "entry level" of the market. Honda brought their Fit micro wagon/hatch and that was to the benchmark even before anyone actually drove one. Others like the Hyundai Acent and Nissan Versa are here or coming soon from abroad and Detroit's resposne has been varied.

GM has been importing the Aveo from Korea and is the only "domestic" maker that has something in place. It's an unexciting model, but reviews have been mostly favorable. It may not be perfect, but it's the only solid move from the "big 3."
Hopes had been that DCX would bring the Hornet concept to market in the US, with it's tough styling and superchared mini motor still anticipating near 40 mpg. Chrysler is shopping for a partner to build this, but it's still years off. And Chrysler's relying on the Dodge Caliber and it's Jeep siblings Patriot/Compass to give them something "fuel efficient" to offer.
Speculation recently was that FoMoCo would bring a version of the Mazda 2 to the US around 2008. But my question about this, is why? Why bring the Mazda 2 here, when there are plants in Latin America building Fiestas and other vehicles sharing components?
The Fiesta shares components with the Mazda 2, but in my opinion is a better looking car. And in Europe it outsells the Mazda, like it's larger brother Focus does the 3. I suspect Mark Fields tends to think anything Mazda is the answer to FoMoCo's problems.
I know it seems unlikely with all of the stumbling in the "Way Forward" that new models will be introduced anytime soon. But when FoMoCo does get it's ducks in a row, it needs to bring something exciting to market. Something that will be distinctly American, yet attract import buyers as well. Key factors will be economy, styling, utility and cost.
Economy and cost can be served by basing several models on a common platform (Fiesta) using Ford powerplants from their overseas markets. The Ford Faction Concept, as I've stated before, would be a great counterpoint to competitors such as the Caliber and Versa. And when Ford can get their European Diesels to pass US Emissions, they can slide right into these new models.
The recent Bronco concept was to be built on such a chassis with all wheel drive and a Diesel from the Fiesta range. Just think how segment busting such a model could be! The rugged retro styling, with soft road capability and Diesel economy, would be uniquely American and green.

Ford has been showing concepts for the last few years that have gotten major recognition and interest. Just look at the Reflex! A 2 door sporty coupe, powered by a Diesel-Hybrid powertrain that could achieve 65 mpg!

Yet what will be get if Ford survives to bring a B segment model? We'll get a stripped Mazda 2 if we're lucky.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Hot Rod rants and raves, link to new forum

Is this what you think of when someone says "Hot Rod?" This is a 1932 Ford 5 window coupe, a replica of the car from American Grafiti. I would guess that the vast majority of "Hot Rods" are Ford bodied ( or fiberglass replicas of Ford bodies) from 1922-1937. Hot Rods came into being in the 30's and 40's, but really took off in the 1950's and have been an American staple, that's been exported around the globe like Rock music and the Hoola Hoop. And even though the hey day may have passed, Hot Rod culture never really went away, it's evolved and survived.
And it's got different stratta like the Rat Rod movement which seems to be attracting a younger following back to these classic tire burners.
I've always loved Hot Rods, would dream of building one, like the ones I saw in Street Rodder magazine. But of course, mine would have been FORD powered, unlike some that had bowtie transplants. In my humble opinion, if the car has a blue oval on the hood it should have one under it too.
And thanks to Jonathan, I can now clue my readers into a new site for and by Hot Rod guys, www.hotrodders.com which has forums. And in those forums recently Jonathan has been taking issue with a blatant marketing error, but click the link for the entire story and more pics.
What I will say, is that these two poor bastards need to put on some real pants, and cover up their short comings quickly. This is not the way to market anything to the "Hot Rod" culture. I think they missed the mark with this one in a big way.

I mean , THIS is a Hot Rod, and Milner was the guy that personified the movement, not some "Bad Boy" posers with eye patches over their willies. And if you really want a laugh, click the link and read some of the thought baloons that Jon has posted for the two punks. I was rolling on the floor.

My dream Hot Rod, just for the record, a 1934 Ford Vicky with a 289 and 4 Weber carbs, full fenders riding low with Pinto IFS and Jag IRS and of course it has to have the finned Cobra valve covers. A nice gray primer Suede finish with red Kelsey Hayes wires. What about you? And if you don't know what a Vicky is, look it up, that's half the fun of the internet.

LPG is on the rise for Ford of Australia, could it work here?

Linked in the title is an article about Ford Australia's increased sales of LPG powered Falcons. And it got me thinking, why can't LPG work here in the US? I'm sure that it's got to do with customer resistance and the American addiction to litigation.
But I recall in New York City, pilot projects with LPG Taxis.

And fleets of utility trucks and busses being powered by LPG.

With most alternative fuels there are issues of infrastructure and availability, but LPG is Propane and I can guy that for my outdoor grill at my local gas station. So why can't it be an option for my vehicle?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Dave Thomas formerly of MPH Online, drives the new CX7 for Kicking Tires Blog

Dave Thomas formerly the nerve center for MPH Online, takes Mazda's SUV with the spirit of a sports car for a spin. I've always enjoyed Dave's reviews of vehicles, especially his video Q&A at MPH. So while I'm fairly inactive, go on over and check Dave's new site Kicking Tires

Monday, August 14, 2006

Gas caps for morons, are not "Bold Moves"

You know, if Ford thinks this is revolutionary, or "Innovating" they're really in for a hard lesson.

This is the biggest piece of "non-news" that nobody should care about.

Hey Bill, if you want to sell some cars, don't worry about the gas caps, worry about the crap that sits on dealers' lots.

Bring us some real "Bold Moves" like the Reflex, Faction, EcoSport, Fiesta, C1 Focus, Fairlane and Bronco!

Why aren't I excited about this? Everyone else is. Maybe it's the 325 hp

I like it, I really do, the new Ford Shelby GT is nice, and I get it, a lower priced-higher production Shelby for the masses. But even though prices haven't been released, If ind it hard to really get excited about. Oh, I know I sound like a spoiled sport, I should be rallying behind the Blue Oval at the mearest hint of something good. Shouldn't I? I mean I'm a Ford Fan and self professed lover of the Mustang. But the fact that the "entry level" Shelby will only have 325 hp and the mods are all Ford Racing Products pieces, that anyone could buy from their catalog, leaves me disapointed. Sure in the 60's Shelby Mustangs were similarily just a shade better than "lesser" Mustangs, and Shelby American sold many of the parts over the counter so you could "Shelbyize" your stang. But 325 hp just doesn't seem enough, no not even close.

For the premium price that dealers will charge, and we all know they will, I'd want at least 375 hp and some further differentiation between the Shelby GT and the more pedestrian Mustang GT.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Oh crap, TTAC has started a Ford Deathwatch! I'm hoping it's premature

I have been catching up on news and views from the net after my absense and was not thrilled to see that The Truth About Cars has a Ford "Deathwatch" posted. I personally think it's a little premature, but let's see where it goes.

I'm not naieve enough to think that all is rosey over in Dearborn, but I don't think it's time to jump ship either. Ford Motor Company is a survivor, unfortunately they've been at this point several times in their history, but they've come back stronger each time.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Should Ford sell Jaguar? Reports all over the net say it may happen

Well it's been quite a bad week for Ford, and I'm just getting caught up here. Now there are reports all over that Ford may sell Jaguar and possibly Range Rover may be thrown in to sweeten the deal.
Here's a fact, without Ford there would be no Jaguar. But without Jaguar, would Ford be financially more sound? When Ford bought the British icon, they were in serious trouble, and without the cash Ford has poured in, they would be like so many historic marques that just faded away.

Who would buy Jaguar? In the Reuters piece, they say that no European marque would be interested, but I had read last month that Renault/Nissan would. So which is it? More recent reports say that investors may buy Jaguar, even further speculation involves Korean or Chinese buyers.

Should Ford sell Jaguar? Maybe they should, but if they do, what about Aston Martin? It's obviuos the design and engineering for both companies is closely linked.

Would Renault/Nissan be the perfect buyer?There were reports that Renault wanted an upscale brand for Europe, besides Infiti which hasn't been as well recieved.

In my humble opinion, Ford should not sell off all of their Premiere Auto Group brands, as some say, to stockpile cash to buy back shares of stock. Maybe it's time that Jaguar and Aston Martin went, but Range Rover is a good brand to hold onto. And Volvo despite a drop in sales recently has been a good investment.

It's going to be an interesting year for Ford Watchers.

Missing presumed dead? No I'm still here

So you may be wondering, where have I been, why MIA? No blog entries for a week? Is MyFordDreams dead?
No, as much as I may feel like it, it's not. As much of the US was going through a record breaking heat wave last week, so was Metro NY. And that's where MFD is based.
And with steamy heat comes........Power Failures !!! Thanks to our local utility and the infrastructure that dates back to the 20's and 30's.
Add to that, I work in a boiler plant, around high pressure steam. So if the temp is 100 outside, it's much worse inside. And my home office has no A/C and is on the second floor of the house. So there was no way after working in a sweat box, that I was going anywhere near that room, even when we were lucky enough to have lights.
But like Lazarus or the Terminator....
I'll be back, slowly at first as I have not been near a computer in a week, so I have a lot of news to catch up on.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Mazdaspeed3 base price under $23K !

Prices for the MazdaSpeed3 have been anounced and the news is good, base prices well below $25k ! With 250 hp, LSD and 6 speed manual that's impressive.
Check the comments over at AutoBlog, where all the Subaru fans snipe at the Speed3. Thing is, it would make more sense to compare to something more like...
This GTI, which is priced similar and has less power.