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Ramblings for Apr. 10, 2000


000410_FordHarley

000410_FordHarley


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Auctioning off Hogs online

A few weeks back, we highlighted the auctioning on eBay of special packages associated with a Hummer, a Monte Carlo and an Aztek, through which GM raised well over $100,000 for charity. BMW raised a similar amount for cancer research by auctioning an early X5 sport-ute last year. Now Tonight Show host Jay Leno and Ford Division President Jim O’Connor are donating a new $32,995 Harley-Davidson F-150 to be auctioned off on Yahoo!, with proceeds going to the Love Ride Foundation and to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. The online auction will begin on June 20 and end on June 30 (just in time to haul your hog to Sturgis!). The Harley-Davidson F-150 is the product of a marketing alliance between Ford and Harley-Davidson, with both companies jointly celebrating their centennials in 2003.

Four-wheel steering makes a comeback

About twenty years back, I drove a large Lincoln that had rear-wheel steering, along with the soft, vague suspension that was then popular. I thought it was great. It still allowed a cushy ride, yet had precise steering and control at speed. Then a few years later, Honda and Mitsubishi offered four-wheel steering as an option on small coupes and sports cars. In these cars with low mass and a tight ride, the benefits were not worth the cost and complexity, and they soon disappeared.

Now, General Motors announced it will be the first manufacturer to offer an optional four-wheel steering system on a truly appropriate vehicle . . . a full-size truck. Delphi Automotive’s Quadrasteer four-wheel steering system will debut in the 2002 model year. At lower speeds, the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction of the front wheels, reducing turning radius and helping parking maneuvers. At moderate speeds, the rear wheels remain straight. At higher speeds, the rear wheels turn in the same direction as the front wheels, enabling the vehicle to smoothly change lanes without inducing any sway. Look for this to also appear on larger Cadillacs, and don’t count out Lincolns, Rolls-Royces, Maybachs and Bentleys as Delphi shops the system around to the world’s luxury leaders.

Racing gets diverse

Diversity has become a major concern for our politically correct society. Auto racing has had its multicultural moments, but they have been fewer and further between than the racing leagues would like. Probably the most successful instance was the 1993 Indy 500, which featured a black, an Hispanic, an Asian and a whole host of European drivers, to say nothing of a woman and a few drivers who claimed Native American

heritage. This was a momentary blip, and while there are several teams with black and Hispanic owners, few American-born ethnic groups are represented among drivers.

NASCAR stock car racing is actively encouraging minority involvement at the grass roots level, and the Indy Racing League is grooming several talented women for stardom. Ironically, the Championship Auto Racing Teams events are having trouble keeping any Americans in the cockpits, having been so focused on getting well-funded drivers into the cars, that their season opener only had two U.S.-born drivers. Perhaps the best African-American driver, Willy T. Ribbs, has found a ride in the Trans Am series after a few years on hiatus, and now Olympic athlete Jackie Joyner-Kersee is forming a NASCAR team. I personally lament the passing of Walter Payton, a great athlete, great team owner, sometime driver and wonderful person.


 
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