Friday, December 18, 2009

The end has come. GM to wind down Saab operations.

After failed talks between Koenigsegg and now Spyker, General Motors has announced today that the Saab brand is no more. GM will begin immediately to wind down operations of the 62 year old Swedish auto manufacturer. It truly is a shame that a deal couldn't happen between either of the interested parties. But alas there just isn't a place for Saab in the New GM.

Official Statement from GM.


Saab Sale Cannot Be Concluded

Brand to be Wound Down


Detroit.  General Motors announced today that the intended sale of Saab Automobile AB would not be concluded. After the withdrawal of Koenigsegg Group AB last month, GM had been in discussions with Spyker Cars about its interest in acquiring Saab. During the due diligence, certain issues arose that both parties believe could not be resolved.  As a result, GM will start an orderly wind-down of Saab operations.

“Despite the best efforts of all involved, it has become very clear that the due diligence required to complete this complex transaction could not be executed in a reasonable time.

In order to maintain operations, Saab needed a quick resolution,” said GM Europe President Nick Reilly.  “We regret that we were not able to complete this transaction with Spyker Cars. We will work closely with the Saab organization to wind down the business in an orderly and responsible manner. This is not a bankruptcy or forced liquidation process. Consequently, we expect Saab to satisfy debts including supplier payments, and to wind down production and the distribution channel in an orderly manner while looking after our customers.”

Saab will continue to honor warranties, while providing service and spare parts to current Saab owners around the world.

As part of its efforts to become a leaner organization, GM began seeking a buyer for Saab’s operations in January.  Last week, Saab Automobile AB announced that it had closed on the sale of certain Saab 9-3, current 9-5 and powertrain technology and tooling to Beijing Automotive Industry Holdings Co. Ltd. (BAIC).  GM expects today’s announcement to have no impact on the earlier sale.

As the company continues to reinvent itself, GM has been faced with some very difficult but necessary business decisions. The focus will remain on the four core brands – Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC – and several regional brands, including Opel / Vauxhall in Europe.  This will enable the company to devote more engineering and marketing resources to each brand and model.

General Motors Company, one of the world's largest automakers, traces its roots back to 1908. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 209,000 people in every major region of the world and does business in some 140 countries. GM and its strategic partners produce cars and trucks in 34 countries, and sell and service these vehicles through the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, Opel, Vauxhall, Wuling and Jiefang. More information on the new General Motors Company can be found at

Thursday, November 5, 2009

We're on Facebook!

Finally, we're on Facebook. Simply click the link below or click on the box in the right hand column and you'll be following Autobahn Automotive News on Facebook.

Autobahn Automotive News Facebook page

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

In our garage: 2009 Ford Mustang Bullitt

A new test car magically showed up in our garage. This suave looking guy in a tweed jacket and blue turtleneck tossed us the keys to his green mustang and asked us to keep an eye on it. He said he had to go take care of some baddies in a black Dodge Charger.

So in case you missed our reference to the 1968 movie Bullitt staring the king of cool Steve McQueen. We're fortunate enough to have landed one of the absolute LAST 2009 Bullitt edition Mustang GTs left in the country.

Checking out the window sticker we have an order code 140A Premium GT Coupe in Highland Green Metallic. Standard fare includes the interior upgrad package, Sirius sat radio, ambient lighting, 18 inch gunmetal Bullitt Wheels, the rear spoiler delete option, GT security package, HID headlights, the Bullitt package which includes the interior upgrade machine finish, 3.73 ratio limited slip rear axle, the 18 inch Bullitt wheels, packed exhaust tips, and a foglightless and ponyless grille. Our car also comes equipped with the Shaker 1000 stereo system.

What isn't mentioned on the window sticker is the performance upgrades to the Bullitt. This includes a Ford Racing strut tower brace with a special Bullitt number plate bearing the logo, VIN, and serial number of the car. Ours is 6045. A Ford Racing cold air intake, exhaust system, lowered suspension, beefed up front brakes and Shelby rear brakes round out the mechanicals.

Moving inside we find a stunning machine turned finish to the aluminum dash accents, an aluminum short throw shifter, supple charcol leather seats with power adjustment for the driver with lumbar control, aluminum pedal covers, and a leather wrapped steering wheel direct from the Shelby GT500.

Turn the key and the 4.6 liter V8 roars to life sounding much like its 1968 movie counterpart. The V8 is rated at 325 HP, which is 10 more than a stock GTs 315HP. With the 3.73 rear end, the Bullitt can really get up and go and catch any fleeing bad guys in short time. We still haven't emptied the tank on it to see where we're averaging for miles per gallon. The on board computer is saying 16 so that's a little better than the 15 City / 23 Highway on the sticker.

Having driven the car for a week now, and having driven a stock 09 GT, a 2010 GT(more later), and a handful of other Mustangs including Shelby, Roush, and Saleen. I will say that the Bullitt offers the best bang for the buck. Our Bullitt tops out at $34,675 with the big ticket item being the Shaker 1000 at $1,295. You get a lot of performance goodies as standard equipment. Stay tuned for more updtates.

Monday, June 1, 2009

As official as it is going to get. General Motors files for bankruptcy

We're experiencing history folks. General Motors, the largest auto manufacturer and one of the worlds largest corporations has officially filed for bankruptcy in the United States Bankruptcy Court.

We are awaiting a press conference from President Barak Obama regarding GM, and we will bring updates as they become available.

We do know that Chairman Fritz Henderson WILL continue to lead GM through bankruptcy. The fate of Saturn, Hummer and Saab is still up in the air at this point. Going through bankruptcy, GM will carry Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, GMC Truck. Hummer, Saturn, Saab and Pontiac will be either phased out or sold.

The New York Stock Exchange was showing GM stock valued at $.75 cents late last night with morning trading showin $.70, though it has steadily gone back up all morning. Currently it is trading at $.98 cents per share.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

General Motors to declare bankruptcy tomorrow

Tomorrow will be a truly sad day for the automobile industry. General Motors, the largest automobile manufacturer in the world, bankrupt. It just doesn't make sense saying it, even though we've been talking about it for months now.

General Motors was once THE company to watch in the industry. You could have said, what General Motors wants is what America wants. Unfortunately that isn't the case any more. Poor management decissions and the inability to keep up with market trends led to yearly losses in the billions of dollars. Couple that with legacy costs, the UAW, and the failure to restructure after government loans to the tune of $20 billion and we're left with the smoldering pile of goo that was once General Motors.

The saddest part is the loss of some great GM brands. We lost Oldsmobile in 2004. Hummer and Saab had been up in the air for the last 6 or so months, Saturn was poisoned by GM management over the last 15 + years. Opel is being divided up. And the biggest blow, Pontiac. Finally when Pontiac is making some great, fun cars they get the rug pulled out from under them.

This leaves GM with just Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, and GMC truck. I doubt we'll see the giant of GM that once was in the 1950s and 60s.

Stay tuned for more info as it becomes available.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Chrysler names C. Robert Kidder as Chairman of Chrysler LLC

Bob "The Builder" Nardelli will be stepping down from his post as Chairman of Chrysler LLC when a new leaner Chrysler emerges. We won't be too critical of Mr. Nardelli in the fact that he really didn't grow Chrysler all that much, as that would take an entire blog all to itself.

Rather we'll focus on the new Chairman of Chrysler LLC, C. Robert Kidder formerly of the Borden Chemical Inc. and Duracell Batteries. Mr. Kidder has a very impressive resume and will be a welcome face to the new Detroit Michigan when its all said and done.

Source: Chrysler LLC

Press Release:

C. Robert Kidder to Become Chairman of Chrysler Group LLC

Auburn Hills, Mich., May 20, 2009 -

Chrysler LLC today announced that C. Robert Kidder, former Chairman of Borden Chemical Inc. and of Duracell International Inc., will become Chairman of Chrysler Group LLC, once it completes its acquisition of the operating assets of Chrysler LLC and completes a global alliance with Fiat SpA. He will succeed Robert L. Nardelli.

"We are most fortunate that Bob Kidder will lead the new company through its transformation," said Nardelli. "My number one priority has been to preserve Chrysler and the livelihoods of thousands of people who depend on its success. With his broad expertise serving on numerous world-class boards and his accomplished business background, Bob will provide the leadership and strategic counsel that will help to create a strong global competitor moving forward." With more than 40 years of experience, Kidder currently serves on the boards of Morgan Stanley, where he is the lead director, Schering-Plough Corporation, and Microvi Biotech Inc. He previously has served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of both Duracell International Inc. and Borden Chemical Inc. and as director of such companies as Electronic Data Systems Corporation and General Signal Corporation. During his tenure with McKinsey and Co. Inc., Bob worked with a major OEM client in the automotive industry. Bob currently is Chairman and CEO of 3Stone Advisors LLC, an investment firm that focuses on clean-tech companies. He holds an M.S., Industrial Economics from Iowa State University and a B.S., Industrial Engineering from the University of Michigan. He resides with his family in Columbus, Ohio.

“I am pleased to join Chrysler at a time when Chrysler is poised to launch an exciting new era,” said Kidder. "I am confident that Chrysler will emerge from Chapter 11 a lean and powerful competitor, combining its own rich history of innovation with Fiat's technology and expertise to invigorate the American car market and to challenge other car companies around the globe." Chrysler LLC announced on April 30, 2009, that, as a result of the comprehensive restructuring plan agreed to by many of its stakeholders, it had reached an agreement in principle to establish a global strategic alliance with Fiat to form a vibrant new company. On the same day, Chrysler LLC and 24 of its wholly-owned U.S. subsidiaries also filed voluntary petitions under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. Chrysler also filed a motion under Section 363 of the Bankruptcy Code requesting the swift approval by the Court of the agreement with Fiat and the sale of Chrysler's principal assets to the new company. The benefit of this type of filing is speed. It will allow a leaner new company to emerge in less than 60 days from the time of filing, well positioned for long-term viability.

Nardelli, Chrysler's Chairman and CEO since August 2007, announced on April 30 his plan to leave the company following the completion of the transactions. He will return to Cerberus Capital Management LP as an advisor. He said that it was "an appropriate time to let others take the lead in the transformation of Chrysler with Fiat, and I will work closely with all of our stakeholders to see that this new company swiftly emerges with a successful closing of the alliance." As stated in the terms of agreement, upon successful completion of the alliance, a board of directors for the new company will be appointed. The majority of the directors will be independent (not employees of Chrysler or Fiat). The board will select a CEO with Fiat's concurrence. A complete biography of C. Robert Kidder is available at:

Friday, May 15, 2009

NADA responds to GM dealer announcement

The National Automobile Dealers Association won't go quietly into the night. They are continuing to fight for the Chrysler dealers who were cut yesterday, and the announcement earlier regarding General Motors announment with the reduction of some 1100 GM dealers by the end of 2010.

Source: NADA

WASHINGTON (May 15, 2009) -- General Motors’ plans to cut its dealer network are drastic and far-reaching and will impact more than 63,000 dealership employees and thousands of their sales and service customers.

We view GM’s action with a profound sense of sadness and disappointment.
GM’s decision comes through no fault of the dealers, who are, in many cases, family-run businesses that have been loyal partners with GM – through good times and bad – for multiple generations.

NADA fully expects GM to honor all its obligations to the affected dealers, whether or not they decide to wind down their operations. It’s critical for GM to treat each affected dealer fairly and equitably.

NADA will work aggressively on all fronts with regard to assisting these dealers during these historically challenging times.

GM dealer network update

General Motors is going a different route than Chrysler LLC in regards to their dealer network. Rather than just say adios, you're done. GM is electing to not renew sales and service agreements with 1100 dealers when they come available for renewal in the 4th quarter of 2010.

Dealers targeted were stores that have poor annual sales 35 units or less per year. That makes up 400-500 of the dealers. The rest are not meeting their required sales and service performance, CSI, etc. that are performing below average. These 1100 dealers make up 7% of GMs yearly sales.

There are about 500 dealers who are dedicated to Hummer, Saab & Saturn brands. There will be a further update regarding these brands and those dealers in the next week or so. General Motors North America Vice President Vehicle Sales, Service and Marketing, Mark LaNeve did make it clear that dealers of these three brands "will exist outside of General Motors next year".

It was made clear that without GM filing bankruptcy, that these letters will be hard to enforce. This is why GM is putting the options into the dealers hands to enforce whether to wind down business and close, or find another brand to carry.

GM's intentions are to land somewhere in the neighborhood of 3600-4000 dealerships.

"This is one of the most difficult decissions we have as part of our restructuring" LaNeve said.

Press Release:

In conjunction with conversations General Motors started with its U.S. dealers today, GM issued the following statement -->

GM Statement Regarding Dealer Network Communications

As noted in our recent S-4 filing and updated Viability Plan, General Motors plans to reduce its dealer network from 5,969 stores today to approximately 3,600 by the end of 2010.

This process starts today, as GM begins contacting dealers regarding its long term planning. Approximately 1,100 underperforming and very small sales volume U.S. dealers will be advised that GM does not see them as part of its dealer network on a long-term basis. In most cases, existing franchise agreements run through October of 2010.

In addition, we will be updating about 470 Saturn, HUMMER and Saab dealers on the status of those brands and we will be discussing how the remaining dealers will support our retail plans going forward. While additional cuts will be made, we believe the vast majority, over 90 percent, of the remaining dealers will be offered a chance to remain with GM. However, specific dealer issues, further attrition and additional possible dealer network actions are expected to bring the number of future GM dealers to around 3,600 by the end of 2010, as described in the Plan. The actual number could vary given levels of attrition, etc. outside of GM’s control.

“We have said from the beginning that our dealers are not a problem but an asset for General Motors,” said Mark LaNeve, GM Vice President of Sales Service and Marketing. “However it is imperative that a healthy, viable GM have a healthy, viable dealer body that can not only survive but prosper during cyclical downturns. It is obvious that almost all parts of GM, including the dealer body, must get smaller and more efficient.”

“In response, we are letting them know about our long term plans. GM’s viability plan calls for fewer, stronger brands as well as fewer, stronger dealers. We have taken a very difficult step by identifying those dealerships we’d like to keep in the GM dealer network and those with whom we will have to wind down our business relationships,” LaNeve said.

As independently owned businesses, dealer owners will make their own decisions if and when they want to make this information public. GM is not releasing the names of any dealers.

“We are not terminating any dealerships today,” LaNeve clarified, “We will be talking to all of our dealers over the next few weeks, letting them know now in the spirit of open communication, so they are advised well in advance, about our long-term plans and their role in them. Long term, GM should have fewer, healthier dealers, maintaining GM’s current high customer satisfaction ratings, with more sales per outlet.”

GM to cut 1100 dealers today

Following in the steps of Chrysler LLC yesterday, General Motors is planning to announce the closure of 1100 GM dealerships this afternoon. A press conference call is scheduled for 12 noon. We will update you with further details as they become available.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

NADA responds to Chrysler's dealer announcement

As the U.S. dealer network continues to take in the loss of 789 Chrysler, Dodge & Jeep dealerships. The National Automobile Dealers Association weighs in on the truth of the matter.

Source: NADA

Today’s announcement by Chrysler that it is rejecting 789 of its Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealers marks a very sad day in retail automotive history.

These dealers and their more than 40,000 employees have done nothing but proudly represent the Chrysler brand through good times and bad, and today find themselves left behind as the company reorganizes itself in bankruptcy court.

While NADA understands the realities of the current marketplace, we also know that dealers didn’t cause the situation that Chrysler finds itself in today. Furthermore, we believe that these draconian dealer cuts are not only misguided but counterproductive. Fewer dealers mean less revenue for the automakers. Dealers are the manufacturer’s customer; they buy the cars and parts and even the signs in front of their dealerships.

NADA fully expects Chrysler to honor all its obligations to the affected dealers who have been nothing but good partners over the years.

NADA will continue to work aggressively on all fronts with regard to assisting these dealers during these historically challenging times.

Chrysler to close 789 dealers.

In compliance with bankruptcy protocol, Chrysler LLC is exercising the option to close 789 Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep dealers across the United States. This is just one of the many steps being taken to return Chrysler to profitability when they emerge from bankruptcy proceedings and the new aliance with Fiat.

44% of the dealers affected have dual brands, meaning Chysler & Dodge, Dodge & Chevrolet etc. So some dealers will only loose one brand. But one of the key alignments is to align the dealers with the expected annual sales numbers of 12 to 14 million units per year. So you will see a Dodge dealer, that may take on Chrysler and Jeep in the near future.

Jim Press, Co-President of Chrysler LLC states that "Chrysler is open for business". And assures Chrysler customers that they will still be able to purchase cars, parts, and have their Chrysler products serviced for many years to come.

This raises the question of what will happen to the current inventory of Chrysler vehicles when the 789 dealers close. There is currently 400+ thousand Chrysler, Dodge & Jeep vehicles spread across the 789 dealers. The cars will be taken back by Chrysler and redistributed to the remaining dealers. This is due to Chrysler's decission to not produce any more vehicles during the bankruptcy process. So dealers that will be taking on new franchises will have a supply of cars to pick from.

Source: Chrysler


Chrysler LLC Files Papers to Retain Majority of U.S. Dealer Network as Part of Company's Sales ProcessAuburn Hills, Mich., May 14, 2009 - Chrysler LLC today filed a motion with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court seeking to reject certain U.S. dealer agreements, and a list of U.S. dealer agreements to be assigned to the buyer of its business assets. Subject to Court approval, 2,392 Chrysler, Jeep® or Dodge dealers will continue with the new company in a global alliance with Fiat once the sale is complete. This action will help improve the landscape of the Chrysler dealership network following the sale and enhance the full line portfolio of Dodge, Jeep and Chrysler products for customers."We are in the process of revitalizing Chrysler's business to succeed as a viable enterprise under new ownership in the future," said Jim Press, Vice Chairman and President. "The unprecedented decline in the industry has had a significant impact on our sales and forced us to reduce production levels to better match the needs of the market. With the downsizing of operations after the sale and reduction of plants and production, similar reductions must be made to the size of the dealer body. We appreciate the support of our dealers and regret this painful action. We wish market conditions made it possible to keep everyone."Chrysler plans to maintain "business as usual" with all of its dealers through the transition. The Company intends to honor warranty and incentive payments during the period that rejected dealers remain active. Chrysler is committed to working with these dealers to ensure a positive relationship with customers. To ease the burden on dealers whose agreements have not been assumed, Chrysler will work to assist in the redistribution of new vehicles and parts to the remaining dealer network."It is with a deep sense of sadness that we must take steps to end some of our Sales and Service Dealer Agreements," said Steven Landry, Executive Vice President, North American Sales and Marketing, Global Service and Parts. "The decision, though difficult, was based on a data-driven matrix that assessed a number of key metrics. In total, 789 dealers, which represents 14 percent of our sales volume, will be rejected and, subject to the court approval, they will discontinue selling Dodge, Chrysler or Jeep vehicles on or about June 9."The review was an objective and rigorous process that was both thoughtful and thorough. We plan to work to have an orderly transition. These are extraordinary times, and they call for an extraordinary response. It is important to our dealers and to our customers that these steps be completed quickly and seamlessly as we transition to a new Chrysler," Landry added.Additionally, on May 12, the Court approved the motion regarding Chrysler LLC's agreement with GMAC Financial Services to provide the automotive financing products and services to the Company's dealers and customers moving forward. GMAC Financial Services will be the preferred lender in North America for Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge dealer and consumer business, including wholesale of new and used vehicles as well as retail. GMAC Financial Services will be able to offer the best long-term finance options for Chrysler dealerships and customers and is established as a bank holding company with access to a variety of funding sources.While difficult, the actions to restructure its dealer network are a necessary part of Chrysler's viability plan and are central to the proposed sale transaction. These actions will help ensure that both remaining dealers and the new company will be stronger and more profitable going forward."A stronger dealer network supported by GMAC's long-term finance options provides an advantage to consumers, and that is what will ultimately drive the creation of a significantly stronger global competitor," said Press.Additional information, including the motions filed, can be found at

Monday, February 16, 2009

Coming 2010. Fiat 500!

An anonymous source speaking to Automotive News has said that with the recent announcements on partnering with Chrysler. That Fiat will begin importing the Fiat 500, along with the new Alfa Rome 940 as early as next year. And as an added bonus setting up production in the United States shortly there after in 2011.

I drove a 500 while on vacation in Italy and fell in love with. Hopefulyl we'll get the Abarth tuned versions too.

Source: Automotive News via Autoblog.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The New Beetle Donk. What not to do with your new VW

This one just came across our desk tonight.

Here we have a 2007 New Beeetle Tripple White convertible. Since the car wasn't white enough. The owner decided a set of 22 inch wheels were in order. Here you have folks. The worlds first Donk New Beetle. I for one can't imagine this car riding good, turning good, or stopping good with the stock brakes. But I bet it goes great in a straight line.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Bowl 43 Ad Watch: Audi A6: The Getaway

Audi was in prime form at this years Super Bowl with the highly anticipated Getaway commercial. The ad features everything you could want from a car ad. Chases, cool cars, baddies, and of course premier wheelman Jason Statham.

We start off in the mid 70s trying to get away in a plenty powerful Mercedes 6.3, only to end up blasted by a dumpester and a Lincoln Towncar. Jump to Miami Vice style 1980s with a bright red BMW 5 series and a black Bandit Trans Am, and a Mouse is loose billboard. Thankfully Audi left the 90s well enough alone with a Lexus ES parked outside a theater playing Tommy Boy. You have to love Staham's disgusted face when he sees the Lexus. Next we jump to 2009 in all Statham's Driver glory in his trademark black suit. Swipe the keys from the valet played by Joaquin Garay III(Paco from Herbie Goes Bananas for you car guys). And off we go with baddies on motorcycles. Finally able to get away thanks to the new supercharged Audi A6. Hollywood at its best.

As an added bonus, we're throwing in the Audi R8 Godfather commercial from the 2008 Superbowl.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Here's your sign. Hillbillies ravage Lambo wreck

In a story worthy of a Bill Engvall skit comes news of a most peculiar car crash. A North Carolia man lost control of his Lamborghini Murcielago wearing the plate "ITS YELLO" In case you're color blind.

Enter the hillbillies. Since a Lamborghini is a rare sighting in NC, Chuck Maner and Chad Blackwelder. They thought they were on to something by picking up the pieces of the wrecked Italian lady after she was towed off to the junkyard. I wouldn't be surprised to see a Chevy Cavalier sportin around town wearing a Lambo charging bull sometime in the near future.

GREENSBORO - A piece of yellow plastic here. A turn-signal bulb there. Chuck Maner picked up remnants left behind after a tow truck hauled away a Lamborghini that crashed Friday afternoon on Norwalk Street.

"It's the closest I'll get to a Lamborghini," Maner said.

He held up two handfuls of decadent Italian debris and mentioned the song "One Piece at a Time," in which Johnny Cash describes stealing a car piece by piece from 1949 to 1973 .
"If I furrow around enough, I'll get a full one," Maner said.

A small crowd gathered as the exotic roadster was dragged onto a wrecker; the crowd dispersed as the wrecker carried the car away.

Chad Blackwelder of Thomasville said he wouldn't have paid much attention if just any car had wrecked. What drew his attention was a wrecked car with a price tag that makes sense to measure in fractions of a million dollars. Large fractions.

According to police, the man driving the Lamborghini lost control of the car because of a mechanical failure about 3 p.m Friday.

The car apparently drove off the left side of the road and came to rest against a chain-link fence at 344 Norwalk St.

No one was injured.

The driver declined to comment at the scene. Police did not identify him Friday night.

Maner, who works nearby, said the very same piece of fence had just been replaced two weeks earlier after a similar accident. But that car kept going, more of a "hit and bounce" than a hit and run, Maner said.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Limo One version 9.0

Just as Air Force One serves as the President of the United Sates transportation from Washington D.C. to anywhere in the world. Limo One serves as his ground transport to and from Air Force One. On Tuesday, the world will be watching as Barack Obama takes the oath of office as the 44th President of the United States. President Elect Obama will ride to the U.S. Capital in an entirely new Presidential Limousine. Meet the 2009 Cadillac DTS Presidential Limousine. For years the President's limo has served as the power of America especially in foreign countries as the President travels around world. For many, glimpses of November 22nd, 1963 come to mind when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in his 1961 Lincoln Continental limousine in Dallas Texas.

Prior to 1993, all Presidential limousines were produced by outside coach builders with development, engineering, and testing partnered with the Secret Service. Many of them built by the Hess & Eisenhardt Company. And usually were Lincoln automobiles, but since 1983 have been Cadillacs. Also since 1963, the President of the United States has not been allowed to ride in an open car in response to the Kennedy assassination. Starting in 1993 all Presidential limos have been designed, developed and built by General Motors, again with the aid of the Secret Service.
Both General Motors and the Secret Service are hush hush about the specific details of the modifications made to Presidential vehicles for obvious security reasons. Some speculations around the new Obama limo are that it is built on a GMC Topkick pickup truck and possibly diesel powered. And there certainly isn't 20 inch spinners, tinted glass, or billet grilles on this black caddy.

Source: General Motors Cadillac Division.
For release: Jan. 14, 2009
An American Tradition Continues: New Presidential Era Begins With a New Cadillac Presidential Limousine

President Obama to Christen New Car at Jan. 20 Inaugural Parade

WASHINGTON – As Americans celebrate the inauguration of a new president of the United States next week, another new Cadillac will grace Pennsylvania Avenue to lead the proceedings. President Barack Obama will ride in an all-new Cadillac Presidential Limousine, continuing a long tradition of Cadillac limousines that have served many U.S. presidents.

“Cadillac is honored to again provide a new Presidential Limousine,” said Mark McNabb, North America vice president, Cadillac/Premium Channel. “This is a great American tradition that we’re delighted to renew with an all-new car featuring the best of Cadillac’s dramatic design and technology.”

The image of an American president greeting crowds from a Cadillac limousine dates to President Woodrow Wilson and the early days of the automobile, and continues into a historic new era. The latest Cadillac Presidential Limousine is a completely new design, succeeding the DTS Presidential Limousine that debuted in 2004. The new car incorporates many of the dramatic design and technology features of new and highly acclaimed Cadillac vehicles in a purpose-built format tailored to specific and exacting specifications befitting presidential transport.

Inside and out, the Cadillac Presidential Limousine includes many of the brand’s signature design elements. Assertive, modern and elegant, the front of the car includes the intricate, dual-textured grille made famous by Cadillac’s most popular current models, the CTS sport sedan and Escalade. Vertical design elements, such as the car’s front and rear lighting, mirror those used on production models.

For largely functional reasons, such as optimal outward visibility, the car is slightly more upright than its predecessor. However, this new Cadillac Presidential Limousine occupies roughly the same overall footprint on the road as the previous model, with a similar size and proportion.

The side and rear profiles of the new Presidential Limousine are classic, elegant forms, evocative of Cadillac’s STS and DTS luxury sedans. Inside the cabin, the car includes the finest examples of Cadillac’s recent renaissance in design, technology and craftsmanship. The cabin blends modern design and technology with old-world craftsmanship. Major aspects of the cabin are cut and sewn by hand, the same process used in popular Cadillac models such as the CTS sport sedan.

Naturally, many purpose-built aspects of the car are specially designed and prepared for presidential use. The rear passenger area includes an extensive executive compartment with ample seating space, outward visibility and useful mobile office features.

The car was designed, developed and tested by specialists who adhered to an extensive set of specifications. It was subjected to an extreme testing regimen to ensure performance that achieves precise functional requirements. In doing so, security provisions were undertaken at all times during development to ensure the car’s functional capabilities are preserved and confidential.

An embroidered presidential seal is positioned in the center of the rear seat back panel, as well as on each rear door trim panel. Presidential seals are also affixed to the exterior rear doors. The U.S. flag is placed on the right front fender, and the presidential standard is located on the left front fender when the president travels in the vehicle. High-tech LED spotlights illuminate the flags at night.

History – Cadillac and the U.S. Presidency

Cadillac has built limousines and special vehicles for U.S. presidents, diplomats, ambassadors and foreign dignitaries since the early 20th century, an iconic aspect of the brand that continues today.

Cadillac’s central role began during World War I, when many Cadillac engines and cars were transferred to military and government service because of their superior durability and power. One of the first chief executives to use a Cadillac was President Wilson, who rode through the streets of Boston during a World War I victory parade in 1919. A lavish 1928 Cadillac town car was used in the Calvin Coolidge administration.

In 1938, two Cadillac convertibles, dubbed the "Queen Mary" and "Queen Elizabeth," were delivered to the U.S. government. Named after the great ocean liners of the time, the vehicles were 21.5 feet long, weighed 7,660 pounds and were equipped with a full ammunition arsenal, two-way radios and heavy-duty generators. Durable and reliable, the two "Queens" served Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

President Eisenhower, known as a car buff, rode in one of the first Cadillac Eldorado models ever produced during his 1953 inaugural parade. The Eldorado represented a high point in automobile design history, as it had the first wraparound windshield, a feature quickly adopted on other new production models.

In 1956, the Queen Mary II and Queen Elizabeth II convertibles replaced the original series. The vehicles were slightly smaller, but like their predecessors, were fully armored and featured state-of-the art communications. Moreover, the vehicles were fitted with narrow rims inside the tire in case the tires were shot out. The Queen Mary II and Queen Elizabeth II served not only President Eisenhower, but also Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Both vehicles were retired in 1968.

The Ronald W. Reagan administration was delivered a 1983 Cadillac Fleetwood limousine and a Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham – Presidential Series was delivered to the William J. Clinton administration in 1993. Unlike previous models that typically were Cadillac cars adapted and modified by independent limousine companies, the 1993 Presidential Brougham was designed, developed and manufactured totally within General Motors and Cadillac. This included an extensive set of security measures to maintain confidentiality, a process that continues today.

Currently, the 1983 Cadillac Fleetwood limousine resides at the Ronald W. Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif., while the 1993 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham is at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Ark.

Monday, January 5, 2009

In the garage: 2009 Scion xB

We have a new test vehicle to report on for 2009. Introducing the 2009 Scion xB. We recently picked up our new tester and have been pleasantly surprised with it so far. Our xB is a black sand pearl model that is pretty much standard by way of options. Really, it is standard. No optional equipment what so ever. Not that it's a bad thing. What we did get is A/C a 160 watt Pioneer stereo with iPod and MP3 jacks, standard disc brakes w/ ABS, and just about everything else you'd expect to find standard.

Our car has the 2.4 liter DOHC 16 valve 4 cylinder that offers relatively good performance at 158 horse power. This is backed by a 4 speed automatic transmission. Toyota rates the fuel economy at 22 City/28 Highway. So far we have averaged 23.3 MPG, though it's not like we're exactly light on the gas.

So far handling has been ok, at highway speeds the steering does feel on the light side, same in wet conditions. So I would say don't go out there and hot dog around in those conditions. Perhaps this will improve as we break the car in.

Inside the xB is very roomy. the seats sit at chair height and are fairly comfortable. Only the driver is spoiled by the presence of a flip down armrest for his or her right arm. The central dash display is easy to read and nicely positioned in the center of the dash. I found that the cluster looks similar to that in a Dodge Challenger, looks wise. The radio, heater and A/C controls, and the gear shift are all right at your finger tips. And there are controls for volume and station selection on the tilt steering wheel. We noticed the lack of power out lets in the car to run accessories from, but not a major problem that can't be solved with a trip to Walmart. Storage is ample. Though the trunk area is a bit short. Especially when you throw suitcases and camera equipment at it. So you will have to keep the 60/40 rear seat down for medium to large hauls.

Our xB comes with a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $16,700. And totals out at $17,320. after the $620 Delivery and Processing Fee is added. So the xB is both light on gas and light on the wallet.

Otherwise we will continue to fill you in with our further adventures with the xB and look for an update on our other fleet car the 2008 Mini.