Tuesday, June 30, 2009

If FoMoCo wants of vehicles I'd like to drive next, here it is

Number 1 on the list is the new Fusion Hybrid. I'd love to see how the transition from electric to gasoline power is and if the batteries added weight upset the handling. Having never been a fan of the "Dave" look, I have to say the new Fusion's muscular flanks do impress me. So, if anyone at FoMoCo could arrange for MFD to drive this, send me an email myforddreams@aol.com
Number 2 is the Tranist Connect. Not a van fan here, but having driven commercial vehicles of various sizes over the years I'd like to see how real world useful this is. I'd also be interested in the power or lack of it with the 2.0 and automatic trans. In Europe this come with a torquey Diesel and manual transmission, but since I've walked around the Transit Connect at the New York Auto Show, I could guess that the Focus powertrain should be enough. I'm waiting for these to start popping up in Taxi fleets, the 22/24 mpg rating makes that a near no brainer to me.

You knew the Fiesta would be on the list. Do I need to remind you why? No, I didn't think so. This is probabl going to be my next new car.

And I'd love to test a new Taurus, a SHO would be nice, but even the 268 hp model would be acceptable. In my opinion, the Taurus seems to have outgrown it's midsize roots. As a former Crown Victoria owner I'd love to see how this fills those shoes as Ford's new Full Size sedan.
So, if anyone at Ford could contact me, I'd really love to have the Fiesta for my week in Cape Cod.

Lincoln MKT driven and admired

So, last week your humble blogger was among several that were given a First Drive of the new Lincoln MKT. Is it a wagon, is it a truck? It's Lincoln's answer to the high fuel costs of the Navigator and Escalade, as well as competition for Acura MDX and Audi Q7.
And Lincoln has done their homework. I'm not a fan of big SUVs and I'm a huge fan of Station Wagons, so I'm impressed and overwhelmed by the MKT.
Impressed with the quality feel and level of luxury that is everywhere in this people mover.
From the wood accents to the soft touch dash materials and the butter leather interior.
Also impressed with the EcoBoost V6's 355 hp and Kansas flat torque curve. I didn't bother the with steering wheel paddle shifters, didn't need to, since the new 6 speed automatic shifted smoothly and never hunted for gears no matter the driving situation. Our half day in the new Lincoln took us on almost every type of road you could imagine and at one point I was going to complain about the slight body roll I experienced around tight twisty country two lanes, until I realized that I was doing almost twice the posted speed limit. This is a big vehicle, cavernouse interior and a substantial pressence on the road, but never did it feel like a truck.

I haven't received the promissed images from Lincoln's marketing folks, but luckily I had my trusty digital camera. So I can show you a glimpse of the cabin. But you need to sit in it to really appreciate the luxury and comfort. I couldn't find anything not to like. All the usual tech gear and automatic everything of course.

Between the Syn and largest Nav screen in class, this is a tech junky's playground.
But even non-tech people will appreciate and be able to use all their toys.
The USB port for your flash drive, MP3 player or my suggestion a portable hard drive, is at the bottom of the center console, which is as big as the boot on my little Mazda.
The DVD screens for the kids allow you to play the same movie on all screens or 2 different movies with headset connections. And the soccer team will have easy access to the third row, especially if you opt for the elecric self folding middle seats. Back strain will be a fond memory for many reason, including the power liftgate and easy load height. A totally flat load floor in 7 seat configuration makes hauling large loads easy as pie.
Try as I did, I couldn't find anything to hate about this. I personally have no use for all the room, but I'm calling my buddy with the Navigator and telling him that he needs this.
I almost forgot the 20 mpg we averaged during our half day and that's with two heavy footed drivers who really wanted to find fault in the worst way. I was really happy with two of the colors offered as well, the burgundy on top and this very nice blue. I drove a black MKT as well.
I'd love to hate this, but after driving it I just can't.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ford's response to Cash For Clunkers in US, LetFordRecycleYourRide

Jim Farley, FoMoCo's GVP for Marketing talks about Ford's response to the "Cash for Clunkers" legislation, Ford has opened a website, linked in title, called LetFordRecycleYourRide.com where you can learn more about what the program is about and what Ford products qualify.

If you qualify, you had better act fast! And that's a big "IF" as to qualifying. From what I've heard and read, your "clunker" has to be at least 8 years old (2001) but no older than 25 (1984) and the new vehicle's new fuel rating compared to your clunker's will determine how much you'll get. I've heard the reason for the no older than 25 years, is the effect of lobbying by classic car groups. And to me that makes sense, how many people have 25 year old cars and would be in the market for a new car? Let's not crush all those "classic" civics, GLCs and Celicas.

Seriously, if I saw someone trying to scrap and 84 SVO I'd be crying. But hey, if you really want to scrap that Z/28, go ahead. And while you're at it, cut off the mullet.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Can you identify this?

I'm still sort of amazed about this, so I decided to mention it again.
Yesterday, your humble blogger attended a product presentation with other members of the automotive media. And whiile sitting waiting for the shindig to get going, at a table of professional "automotive" journalists, I was fumbling with an object like the one pictured above.
When a one of the professionals asked me with a straight face, "what's that?"
I assumed somebody was having fun at the expense of the little blogger, so I smiled and responded that I thought it was there as an ashtray. When the blank stare confirmed that this person, a professional "automotive" journalists, really didn't know what I was holding in my hand I replied "it's a piston." It's over 24 hours later and I'm still gobsmacked.
Now, don't get me wrong, there are mechanics who could pull out obscure pieces from under a hood and I may scratch my head and guess, but a piston? Something every internal combustion engine, diesel or petrol, has had for over 100 years?

And this ladies and gentlemen is why traditional media, be it print or digital, fails us.
Because there are people who barely understand what they're looking at telling us what is good and what is trash. I'm not saying you have to be able to rebuild a Solex or Webber carburetor, but identifying a piston is so frigging basic.

From Top of the line to Bottom of the range, FoMoCo goes after tech savy buyers who want quality. From MKT to Fiesta with Sync and more

As you probably know, I attended a meet and greet with Lincoln Engineers and marketing people yesterday and test drove the new MKT ( review to come later ) and MKZ. And these are two well fitted vehicles, tech goodies out the wazoo. Both cars featured a great blind sport warning system, the MKT has parking assist and of course there are the THX audio and Sync technology integration system, version 3.0 was installed on both the Lincolns I drove. And I will remind you that if you already have a Sync equipped FoMoCo vehicle, fear not, free downloads are available. These are the type of tech gadgets you'd expect on top of the range flagship models. And then it dawned on me, I know I'm slow, but Ford Lincolln and Mercury models across the range are available with some of the best technology available on wheels. Even the lower range cars. The Focus currently has Sync, the Fusion, Taurus, Flex, Edge and on and on until you get to........
Even the Fiesta will have Sync. And not just Sync, but even the lower end models will be tech heavy. And from what I saw when I sat in one at the New York Auto Show, this will not be the crap boxes of yesteryear.
I'll come back to this topic over the weekend, I want to look into more of the amazing tech available.
Update, video from Ford on YouTube showing some of the neat technology

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Lots of Diesel talk on Autoline After Hours gets me thinking..

So, I'm watching Autoline After Hours online tonight and there's tons of Diesel talk! And anyone who's read my blog over the years will know I love the idea of Diesels. For several reasons.

First is the superior fuel efficiency offered by Diesel. The flatter torque curves don't hurt either.

But the main reason I love the idea of Diesel is the oportunities they offer of Energy Independence.
If we ever want to withdraw from our addiction to foreign oil, Diesel is both the short term answer and in a way the long term answer also. Diesels get roughly 25% better fuel economy, which will reduce how much oil we'll use. But the better answer is this, Diesel Engines were originally designed to run on Peanut oil. Therefore, the future will be improved Bio-Diesel.

One question during Rapid Fire, was what Diesel vehicle the panel would want here.
I'm not on the panel, but my answer is this, give me a Ford Mondeo 5 door liftback or estate, I'll take the 2.0 TDI with a 6 spd manual.

MFD makes it to my first Media day, with Lincoln

So, MFD has made it to "media" status. I went down to Manhattan to see Lincoln's latest offerings. The MKZ ( major refresh ) and MKT ( new ) And this is the line of Lincolns waiting to whisk us away to the Queens Botanical Gardens. Manny, our driver, was a veteran of traffic roads and very likable. There were about 24 members of the media, digital and print, some of whom I've heard of. Actually, I was shocked to be sitting two chairs from Jerry Flint of Forbes Magazine. A man who I've read with admiration and used as material here on MFD many times. There were no other names that jumped out at me, but I did meet a very nice young man from Rides and 0-60 magazines, who was my co-driver.
Once out to Queens, we were given access to engineers and marketing people who've working so hard to re-invent Lincoln. Detailed presentations and then access individually. I was impressed by Dan, the Engineer behind EcoBoost. I'm sorry to say I do not remember his last name, but we had an interesting discussion about the future of EcoBoost, no I didn't get any scoops, but I did bounce some ideas off him to see what reaction I'd get. The entire Lincoln team were outstanding. Once we were fed and satisfied we had picked their brains to our satisfaction, we were teamed up and set loose with a car and directions. Think scavenger hunt or rally, 2 drivers, one car, a varied route and and let's not forget the toll money. I started off in the MKZ taking first turn behind the wheel, then my co-driver took over after our first stop. It was nice talking to him and getting a journalist' view of different subjects. We both agreed that since I'm not traditional media and not dependent on advertising dollars from the manufacturers I am free to rant and rave as I will.
It was a long day and very educational. Not just about the cars, but about "automotive journalist" also. Now I'm not going to reveal the name of the journalist or who they write for, but I was gobsmacked by the following exchange.

I was sitting at a table with some prominent journalists and there were two pistons on the table as props. Along comes a journalist who sits down and picks one up, then asks "what's this?" I thought they were just pulling my leg, since I'm not a professional so I replied jokingly that I thought it was an ashtray. This person looked at me blankly and I realized it wasn't a joke. I proceeded to explain that what this "automotive journalist" was holding was a piston. This is not a joke. A person who writes professionally about the auto industry and vehicles didn't know she was holding a piston. I wonder if she realized there was a row of turbo chargers on a rack labeled EcoBoost? Maybe she thought it was modern art or complimentary hair driers.

If you email me, I'll tell you what site this person writes for.

Lincoln MKZ review

So, today MFD made it to the big time, actually snagging an invite to a manufacturer's presentation for the media. And here's my first impressions of the Lincoln MKZ, formerly Zephyr. While I thought the Zephyr was a better name, the new MKZ is a better car.
24 media types, including little old me, were given the keys and set loose with Lincoln's "entry level" offering.
And let's just start off with this, the new MKZ goes way beyond just a mid-cycle refresh.
To puncuate that there was a 2009 MKZ right there for side by side comparision. And while the old MKZ was already nice, the changes are subtle and startling at the same time. And entirely new front clip, which allowed powertrain engineers to retune the engine, as a result of improved under hood heat management. And it also lowers the cd from .34 to .32. For you non-technical types, like me, that means it slips throgh the air just that much better. And it looks so much meaner too!
And there's little that feels "entry level" inside either. All of the interior panels are completely new. Nice soft touch materials, new guages with a very nice lighting feature. Of course the guage cluster moves with the wheel, which means that anyone, no matter how tall or short ( like me ) can see the speedo and set up a comfortable driving position.
A very clean center stack with reasonably easy HVAC and Audio controls, flows int a very useful center console. Everything felt just right. It was easy to set the power seat, mirrors and wheel for any driver. The seats were very supportive and comfortable. Our travels brought us from Queens Botanical Garden through bumper to bumper traffic, then up to quaint Westchester villages on a mix of highway and twisty back roads.
The navigation screen, which I needed for some of these winding county lanes, was at the perfect height for viewing, with no problems viewing, no matter which way the sun was shining.

Overall, I'd say the MKZ was a fun drive, but comfortable enough to shuttle grandma or the kids anywhere. I was satisfied with the power of the V-6, even without EcoBoost. And while I'm usually a shift for myself kind of guy, I was impressed with the automatic's smooth seemless shift and lack of hunting. It's what you'd expect in the class. And about this point I'd be begging for a nice 6 speed manual, but I could live with this. Not only that I could enjoy it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Edsel would be proud! Ford Family unifies and keeps the faith!

You're all probably scratching your heads and geting ready to correct me, telling me that it's Henry Ford that would be proud of his Family's actions recently, but bear with me, in my opinion it's Edsel that would be proudest. If you read the New York Times Article, linked in the title, you'll read how the Ford Family met earlier this year and decided to stay the course with the Way Forward. 35 members of the family met and talked with Alan Mulally about the direction the company is taking. And it was an overwhelming show of force and faith in the company.
It's true that old man Henry started the company, but it's the spirit of Edsel that is probably proudest of the family's actions. While his father thought his purchase of Lincoln and starting of Mercury to be distractions, it was Edsel that really shaped the modern Ford Motor Company and I mean that in a very real way. It was Edsel that in the mid 20's started development of the Model A, Ford's first "modern" car. It was Henry, who upon discovering the prototype on a stroll through the factory one day, destroyed it with a sledgehammer. It was Edsel that talked his father into buying the failing Lincoln Motors and in 1939 starting the Mercury brand as a step up from Ford, competing with rival GM's Pontiac and Chrysler's Plymouth brands.

Edsel was just as much a car guy as his famous father and like him rubbed elbows with the movers and shakers of the time. That's Edsel on the left and Admiral Byrd in the center.
It was Edsel's offspring that to this day run the company.

In 1943 it was Edsel's son Henry II "The Deuce" that stepped in after his father's death brought grandpa back to Dearborn and nearly sent FoMoCo into the history books. Henry II reluctantly took control from grandpa and his goon Bennet, with the support of his grandmother Clara.
Continuing a Family control of the company into the toughest and best times Ford would see.
And after The Deuce's death in 1987 the family began quarterly meetings that continue to this day.

And Edsel's grandson and Henry's nephew, Bill Ford jr is not the only Ford family member to work at the family business. There are 5 family members, including Henry III.
So, again I say, Edsel would be proud and he should be.
106 years this family has put the world on wheels and while I won't discount Henry I's legacy, it's important to remember the contributions made by following generations and the fact that it's still a family afair.

Ford gets DOE loans, not "Bailout" money, GM & Chrysler didn't becaause they weren't "viable companies"

Ford received $5.9 Billion in loans from the Department Of Energy and I want to stress that this is not a "Bailout" this program was initiated in 2007 under the Bush administration and the appropriations were made in 2008 before the industry meltdown.

This money will be used to further develop more fuel efficient cars, including Battery Electric and Plug In Hybrids. But there's more, it will be used to develop technologies that will reduce weight across the model lineup. You can read the article linked in the title at Edmunds.com Green Car Advisor. And more at Car Scoop

Here's FoMoCo's statement from their website;
DEARBORN, Mich., June 23, 2009 – “Ford Motor Company is proud to be among the first automakers deemed by the government to be among the best companies with the best technologies in American manufacturing and fuel efficiency. This green partnership between Ford and the U.S. government will help accelerate the development of advanced technologies for even better fuel efficiency and emissions. Ford is absolutely committed to fuel economy leadership with every new model we introduce. In fact, we plan to invest nearly $14 billion in advanced technology vehicles in the next seven years. Our partnership with the Department of Energy also will help retool our U.S. plants more quickly to produce fuel efficient vehicles and help meet the new, rigorous fuel-economy requirements.”

I've been critical of Electric, Hybrids and especially Plug In Hybrids, but they are part of the new reality. And with the improvements FoMoCo has made to the Escape and the new Fusion Hybrid I've become a fan. Many of the faults have been addressed and the Fusion Hybrid's 41 mpg city just can't be argued with. I'm also a huge fan of the other technologies such as EcoBoost and the weight reduction.

But let's be very cleaar, this is not a bailout! I especially found this line concerning GM & Chrysler amusing; Both companies applied for financing last year but their financial distress disqualified them from consideration in the first round of financing. The $25 billion program is only open to viable companies.

Monday, June 22, 2009

FoMoCo Mustang news that I just can't get excited about....

So, I've been seeing tons of tweets and blog posts on some new Mustang "news" that I just can't get excited about. The return of the glass roof option for 2009. Had they stopped this? Will it continue for 2010? While it's something that sounds cool and looks good, it's always been something I have an issue with. Mustangs have not had moonroofs from the factory for at least the last 19 years, maybe more. I remember I wanted one on my 91 Mustang and the dealer told me that Ford didn't offer it. He suggested I get a convertible. Ok, flash forward to 1994 and the "new" Mustang, still no sun/moonroof, but there was the convertible option. Ok, so now jump ahead a decade and the 2004 release of the 2005 "All New" Mustang! Nope, no sun/moonroof.
I seem to be alone in missing the moonroof, an option I've had inseveral cars. But a couple of years ago Ford decided to offer the glass panoramic roof, nice! But, it doesn't open. And it has a sunshade so your chrome dome doesn't get third degree burns. But it doesn't open! So, it's back.
Even the Hyundai Genesis Coupe has a moonroof. I'm going to have to check GM and Chrysler to see if the Chalenger and Camaro have moonroof options. Glass roof, big deal.

And in further farce news, there's a 45th Aniversary Lee Iacocca special edition Mustang.
Not from FoMoCo, but from Galpin Ford in So Cal? Special body kit, only 45 to be made, blah blah blah..... Who cares? I'm sure they'll sell every one of them, but who really cares, other than the few collectors.

You know what, if you want to send me good news about the Mustang, tell me they're finally going to put a 21st century suspension under the rear.

If you want the latest news on these two "special" Mustangs, visit AutoBlog, Jalopnik or one of the media sites listed in sidebar. I'm waiting for some REAL Mustang news.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

What does Ford have for Mercury? What's left in the global cookie jar?

Wow, I've been going round and round with this, wondering what the hell FoMoCo can do with Mercury. For 2009 the brand has 4.5 models, none unique to the brand. There's the Grand Marquis, Milan, Mountaineer, Mariner and Sable, but only 3 of those will be around in 2010 and there are no planned new models for Mercury. Lincoln has the MKS, MKT, MKZ, MKX and Navigator (right?) and even the Concept C based on the Euro Focus. But as I've said before, there aren't any new Mercury models, no Flex based CUV, no Edge, no Taurus based Sable, no Focus based small car. Nothing, not anything. And so I was going over past posts where I had proposed stuffing Mercury dealers with overseas FoMoCo models from Europe and Australia.
Much like the last "unique" Mercury Models the Cougar and Capri, one based on Euro Mondeo and the other Asutralian Ford Capri (Laser or Mazda 323). But with the Fiesta, Focus and Transit Connect all on their way to Ford dealers next year, what's left?
Well, they could bring the Ford Focus CC as a Mercury. But does it pay to ? I assume the new Focus powerplants would be EPA certified and since it's basically a Volvo C70 I would assume it wouldn't have a problem passing crash tests. It's a stretch, but it's one of the few models that Ford could bring to give Mercury a Halo model. Call it the Capri or Cougar or If you insist call it the Msomething. It would never be a huge seller, but considering Mercury brand itself only sold 180,000 or so units last year, it could be enough.

And I've said it before, but the land down under could be tapped for some fresh Mercury blood.
Falcon and Territory models, the sedan, crossover and maybe even the ute? I don't know if the 4.0 I6 could ever pass EPA certifications, but how about the 3.7 V6? Or even just the 4.6 V8?
I'm still convinced that FoMoCo plans on letting Mercury fade away, but if the brand is to have any future, these are the only ideas I have. What say you?

Kelly Blue Book's list of 10 "coolest" new cars under $18k, Ford Focus only domestic on the list.

Kelly Blue Book, of used car valuation fame, has released their list of the 10 "coolest" new cars under $18k and only 1 Domestic car made the list? The Focus, evne thought it's not the Focus I want does make sense. It's a great value, gets good MGP and with the new SYNC system it's loaded with technology. And despiste my criticism it's a zippy, good handling car. I'll even go as far as to say that I like the looks of the coupe. I'm still on record as being pissed that Ford dropped hatchbacks and wagons from the Focus line, but it's still a car that I could recomend without any twinges of guilt. I also agree with most of the cars on the list, but of course not all of them.
Kia Soul, you bet, I think this will be a fun little car and that's without driving one yet.
I like the styling, I've sat in one at the auto show and liked the interior and I trust Gary over at The Garage's opinion. So this box on wheels makes sense. And speaking of boxes on wheels, the other boxes on the list are the Scion XB ( dull and not the miser it was originally) the Nissan Cube ( which I must be the only one to think is ugly as sin) and the near box Honda Fit ( which I actually like.)

The non boxes on the list continue with what I consider one of the best values on wheels, the Mazda 3. Of course I'm biased, I have an 06, but mine cost more than $18k. There's also another of my favorite hatches, the VW Rabbit, soon to be Golf again, but with it's 2.5 L 175 hp I-5 isn't really the fuel sipper some of the others are. I was surprised to see the Subaru Imprezza, I didn't realize it could be had for under $20k, and with the AWD I'm sure it's in the VW's camp of economy. The Suzuki SX4 is on the list and I can't fault that, it's frugal and not too ugly.

I guess the only car I just don't see as being "cool" is the Smart. Not that it's not fun or cool, but more that in my mind it's not a car. It's a golf cart that you can drive on the street. And even though it's half the size of a Focus and has one less cylinder it's MGP is not stellar compared to the Focus. I know they are trendy, but when I drive by one in my Mazda I feel like I'm driving a 76 Cadillac by comparison. It's not a CAR, it's a Vespa with 2 extra wheels.

I take issue with the Caliber not being on the list. I cross shopped the Caliber and was very close to buying it. It may not compare well to the Mazda 3, but it does have a certain fun factore and some "cool" options. The "cooler" for drinks, the lit cup holders, the Boston Acoustics tailgate speakers Economy with the smaller 1.8 I-4 isn't too shabby either. And I'm fairly certain you can get one for under $18k.

Ok, the Cobalt isn't "cool" but it's a good value. We shopped it against the Civic back in 05 and it drove better than the Civic, we bought the Civic because of it's quality perception. We bought it over my objections to be honest. But that's another surprise, the Civic isn't on the list either?
Here's KBB's criteria for the test "In choosing the 10 Coolest New Cars Under $18,000, we use the same set of criteria that consumers use in examining such vehicles. Safety, fuel economy, interior size, comfort, technology and fun-to-drive are all considered, as is the decidedly subjective cool factor." I guess the Cobalt doesn't have the Technology or interior size.
The "cool factor" must be what got the Smart on the list, cause it's got little else going for it.
That's just my take, I haven't driven some of these cars, the Soul, XB, Cube, SX4 or Smart, but I have a sense of value just like many consumers. I know my "cool factor" personally isn't very high, so I guess I'm lucky that my Mazda can make up for some of that.

Remember the idiot? All the buzz when his Fiesta was "stolen" but not a peep now?

Just about a month ago there was a tweet from Fiesta Movement's Brooklyn Agent saying his car was stolen. The net was abuzz, blogs updated as the car was "sighted" either on it's way to Boston or being driven around Washington D.C. Scott Monty, Ford's Social Networking guru was sending updates to Jalpnik and others and even I was intrigued. What about the GPS tracking system? How hard could it be to find a purple Ford Fiesta with pink spots?

And then we found out it wasn't stolen, the idiot had just parked illegally and the car was towed away. And then there were posts by said idiot saying he found the car in an impound lot, but the NYPD wouldn't give it up, He even took photos of it in the lot. So, how did this soap opera end?

No tweets from Scott Monty, no updates on the major blogs, nothing I could find on Google or any other site. So, reluctantly I checked the idiot's webpage and it seems that back on May 29th he did what seems to be his last Fiesta Movement post. Yes the car was stolen, no the NYPD were not conspiring against him or incompitent or evil. The idiot had given them the wrong plate number. And that's why the Fiesta didn't show up on their system. But he got the car back on May 29th, without any mass protest or spontanious party at the impound lot. No fan fare, no muss no fuss, the idiot got the car back.

Now, I should point out that when I say he posted his last Fiesta Movement post, I don't know if he's out of the program, I just mean that I endured scanning through his site and can't find anything related to the Fiesta or Movement since May 29th.

I know the Movement's agents are supposed to be trendy, hip, internet savy folks who at the same time generate buzz for themselves and by extension the Fiestas, but why not even a whimper about how this resolved itself? Could it be that when it was "stolen" it was buzzworthy, but when the agent is an idiot it's not?

I debated posting a link to him or his video and I decided he's too stupid for that and I'm just not that nice.

Detroit News asks how Henry Ford would react to what's happening today in

Interesting article at the Detroit News ( linked in title) asks what Henry Ford would think about current events in the world, especially the auto industry. Bill Ford jr says that it would not surprise his great grandfather, considering Ford's roller coaster history of bankruptcies. "Most of this wouldn't shock him because a lot of this happened during his lifetime," says Bill,

Douglas Brinkley, author of "Wheels for the World: Henry Ford, His Company, and a Century of Progress," which I read several years ago, commented also, pointing out Henry's first auto company Detroit Automobile failed.

And let's not forget Government involvement in the 40's, when after Edsel Ford passed away and the US Navy released Henry Ford II from service to come back and run the company.

Interesting piece. I personally think that the real question should be how would Edsel or Henry II view curent events. Edsel was a greater businessman than his father and Henry II saw Ford through some of their toughest times also.

Henry Ford was capricious and without his offspring FoMoCo could have been history as long ago as 1927 or again in 1943.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Driving Like Crazy video, courtesy of the Cato Institute?

I read P.J. O'Rourke's latest book, Driving Like Crazy recently and really enjoyed it.
Then I saw him all over the boob tube, Real Time with Bill Maher and the Daily Show.
But I was too lazy to find a proper YouTube clip. Well, I have to thank Chris Moody of The Cato Institute for sending me the link to the embeded YouTube clip below.

Friday, June 19, 2009

MyFordDreams to drive new Lincolns?

No, I didn't win the lottery and plan to buy a bunch of new cars, but I did get an email inviting me to an event next week, where I'll be able to drive the new Lincoln MKZ, MKT and maybe the MKS? Maybe I didn't make FoMoCo angry with my last couple of posts. I'm waiting for confirmation, but so far 2 emails and I have date/time/location and outline of events.
If I did win the lottery, the MKZ would be my new daily driver, that's how much this car has impressed me. I liked the Zephyr name better, but what's in a name.
The MKT intrigues me, it's the city cousin of the Flex and when I saw it at the Javits Center in April, I had to admit it looks sharp. I don't have the need for something this big, but it's nice.
So, let's see where this goes, if I get a confirmation and the proverbial "golden ticket" to actually see, feel and drive these. Maybe they'll realize who I am at the last minute and bar the doors.
But I've been fairly good to Lincoln and have only beat up on Ford for the Mustang and Ranger.
Of course my pointing out the obvious about Mercury can't help.
Check this page next week for updates, MyFordDreams may actually be treated like "digital media" instead of deranged stalker.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Has Ford's Mercury brand gone from the "sign of the cat" to Schrodinger's Cat?

With all the buzz about Ford and Lincoln lately, the silence around Mercury is deafening.
Has the brand that once used the tag line "Sign of the Cat" become the paradoxical Schrodinger's cat ? Are they dead but nobody has looked into the box? How many Mercury models are on offer today and how many will there be next year? I believe there are technically 5 today, Mariner, Mountaineer, Sable, Grand Marquis and Milan and next year there will be 3? No Sable, no Grand Marquis.

While Ford execs like Alan Mulally do promotional tours with the very handsome new Taurus, there's no Sable? From day one there were always the Taurus/Sable twins. But that's always been a major problem with the brand, most Mercury models were twins of Ford models. I believe you have to go back to the early 60's to find a unique Mercury powertrain and the last unique Mercury model not shared with Ford or Lincoln was actually a Mazda based Australian Ford.

At several websites and forums I've heard speculation about a new Euro Focus based Mercury model coming in a few years, and they point to the Lincoln C concept. But Mercury hasn't had a compact model since the Capri and before that the Tracer, both Mazda based. Mercury never got a Focus variant like the Lynx twin of the Escort.

Mercury is dead, but nobody noticed. I don't car that the dealerships are still open and they trickle a few cars out the door, the brand is dead.

Who Google searches this "78 Thunderbird mpg" ? Someone at FoMoCo that's who.

I've mentioned before that I sometimes look to see who's looking at my blog and I've been happy lately to see Livonia MI appear almost daily, because that's Ford Motor Company. And I can even see how they got here, a google search, a tweet or even just typing in http://www.myforddreams.com/ . But what struck me today was how odd this is.

Someone from Ford Motor Company landed on my blog after doing a Google search for 78 Thunderbird mpg ? Who looks up the mpg of a 31 year old car? And of course I've blogged about my 78 T-Bird and posted pictures of it many times, so of course if you do a weird Google search for Ford related items, I'm going to show up.

I get visitors from all over the globe, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, the UK and of course all over the United States. I get people doing Google searches for Ford models like Orion, Ikon, Bantam, Courier, Everest, Ka and of course Ranger and Mustang.

I amuse myself to no end sometimes, but what really amuses me is how some folks find me.
Of course I hope they'll come back, but damn who Googles 78 T-Bird mpg?

The real reason the 05 and forward Mustang doesn't have an IRS, let's do away with the lies and excuses

Since the earliest days of MyFordDreams one of my biggest criticisms of Ford has been the lack of an Independent Rear Suspension when they redesisgned for model year 2005. After all the Mustang was designed down from the latest rear wheel drive chassis Ford had at the time, and that was the Lincoln LS and Ford Thunderbird chassis and both of those cars had IRS. But it's misleading to say that the Mustang was based on these two cars, it was engineered down from them, sharing mostly the front part of the chassis. Excuses at the time, that continue to this day are that in order to keep the Mustang at a profitable pricepoint it was decided to leave out the IRS. And when the Mustang was the only real Pony car available in 2005 you could almost buy that. But let's clear some of the bullshit away ok?
Many have argued that the complexity and weight of the IRS were too much for the Mustang's "low" price of entry. But if that's true, how can Chrysler afford to have an IRS on the 300/Magnum/Charger/Challenger chassis? Well, they did inherit that from Mercedes previous generation E-Class, so the development costs were less. How about the new Camaro? That has a new chassis, with IRS and the price jump over the Mustang isn't extreme. And let's not forget Hyundai's new Genesis Coupe, that matches Mustang's pricepoint and power, but does so with an IRS.

As I mentioned in my last post, some have argued that the Mustang had an IRS offered in 1999 and 2000 SVT Cobra models, but owners took them out to save weight and increase strenght for drag racing. While that may fool some folks, that's part of the bullshit I want to clear the air on.
Firstly, the Cobra was a limited production model and yes owners of the SVT Cobra may want to take those beasts drag racing. But Corvettes race, Chargers and Magnums, maybe even 300Cs? You can bet your ass that Camaro owners will bring their new cars to the track. And all of those have IRS. And if you're modifying a car for strictly track duty, you're more than likely back halfing the chassis or doing a full tube chassis anyway. No my friends, that's just bullshit.
Ford Motor Company wasn't responding to pressure from devoted Pony Car customers who wanted to go racing.

They were responding to the customers who made the 2005 Mustang the hit it was.
Don't fool yourself or try and lie to me. It was rental fleets that bought the vast majority of 2005 and 2006 Mustangs. And it was for that reason the Mustang didn't get an IRS. The rental companies wanted to keep it simple, because they knew they'd have to service and repair the cars. As P.J. O'Rourke said in Driving Like Crazy, the best car for driving fast is a Rental car.
And one of the ways to keep those rental cars profitable, is to keep them simple, keep them mediocre. Keep a live axle under the Mustang for the Rental fleets, not he enthusiasts.
In 2006 and 2007 there were a flood of "Program" Mustangs on Ford dealer lots, because they'd all done their first year in Rental fleets. And let's face it, that boosted Mustang sales in a big way. If I recall Ford sold 190,000 Mustangs in 2005, more than they anticipated. And how many of them do you want to guess went to Florida, Las Vegas, Southern California rental fleets?

But now Ford has pledged as part of the Way Forward to cut the umbilical cord of Fleet Sales, because they know that it's not good for their image. Who wants to buy a Rental car?
Of course you have to keep the live axle if you're selling to rental fleets at discounted prices and then force feeding your dealer network those rental rejects a year later.
But let's assume Ford wants to truly be competative with the Mustang. They'll need that IRS and we'll end up paying a couple of thousand dollars more for the car as a result. But they'll make more profit per unit and improve their global image. Who hasn't seen Top Gear's reviews of the Mustangs over the last few years and heard Hammond, May and Clarkson refer to the Mustangs chassis as being like a Conastoga Wagon?
An IRS will add weight to the car, complexity and cost, but it will also make the car more sure footed and safer on choppy roads. Take this from a former Mustang owner, who's had his Mustang up to 130 mph on public highways in dry weather, but gotten passed by Honda Civics in bad weather and on twisty parkways with rough pavement.
No more lies, no more excuses, no more bullshit. Let's tell it how it is. And let's get an IRS under that Pony soon
Update, Motor Trend has similar piece, that has more information;
I know Jeff at http://www.drivingenthusiasts.net/ has a clearer point of view on this and if I'm not mistaken has written on it in the past. He may also be able to clear up some of my mistakes.

Jeff's blog post! I can always count on Jeff at drivingenthusiasts.net to clear up any mistakes I make on this subject. Jeff's knowledge is encyclopedic.