DAKOTA 'BOYS' DRESS DOWN - Wearing workshirts and blue jeans, James Holden (Executive v.p, sales & marketing) and Tom Stallkamp (President, Chrysler Cars & Trucks) did a stand-up routine along the lines of Tim Allen's Tooltime TV spot to introduce the 2000 Dodge Dakota Quad Cab. Though the comedy fell flat - Holden and Stalllkamp were quickly told to "wrap it up" by the PR guys - the Quad Cab's combination of power, interior room, and cargo capacity made a favorable impression on its own. The new truck has four full-size, front-hinged doors and offers legitimate seating for six people. In order to keep overall length within the bounds of, say, a Greyhound bus, the cargo box is 5-feet 3-inch long and nearly square. While the small box precludes the conveyance of 4x8 plywood sheets, the 1,450-pound payload capacity is said to be peerless in the compact domestic pickup market, thanks in part to Dakota's available 4.7- and 5.9-liter V-8s. Production at the Warren, Mich. facility is said to reach 70,000 units in the first year, no doubt drawing buyers away from SUVs and conventional crew cab pickups. In fact, said Holden, Dodge's Club Cab could be dropped from the lineup. Pricing for the Quad Cab has not yet been set.
- by Ted Grozier
TCC photo by Sue Mead
LIVE FROM THE GRAND OL' OPRY, IT'S' No, not the Blackwood Brothers'the Lincoln Blackwood! Ford's Lincoln-Mercury Division. Displaying at its second major auto show since relocating from Detroit to Irvine, California last spring, Lincoln-Mercury marketing boss Jim Rogers and Ford Motor Company design vice-president J Mays introduced the assembled media to the Lincoln Blackwood. The burly looking Blackwood is a four-door, four-passenger combination SUV/pickup truck concept, which is one-third truck bed and two-thirds Lincoln Navigator. It uses a two-wheel-drive drivetrain, and has been lowered three inches from normal Navigator ride height. It rides on P285R60-19 tires and polished cast aluminum alloy wheels. Instead of a third seat, the Blackwood concept has a fully enclosed 4'8" pickup bed. The bed is covered by more than 20 square feet of African Wengewood sealed with clear epoxy to protect it from the weather. And instead of a conventional tailgate, it uses a pair of swing-out Dutch doors. The Wengewood bed cover is operated hydraulically by the key fob and the doors are manual. The Blackwood is powered by a 5.4-liter double-overhead-cam V-8 engine with four valves per cylinder, similar to the engine used in the 1999 Ford Mustang Cobra, generating 300 horsepower, and the interior features four bucket seats covered in Connolly leather, the same leather used in Jaguar luxury cars. A global positioning system is integrated into the center console.
- Jim McCraw
MY, MY MERCURY - Mercury'ss 1999 concept vehicle is called (My) Mercury, and it is a small go-anywhere, do-anything vehicle with five doors and five seats, amber windows, an amber glass roof panel, and a hatchback assembly integrated into what is otherwise a sedan body. Mercury says it is a cross between a car, a truck, and a sport utility vehicle. Front doors of the (My) open conventionally, but the rear doors are rear-hinged allowing full unobstructed access to the interior. The top of the hatch section opens upward and the lower section opens outward to maximum useable interior space. The rear bucket seats fold down to yield a flat, 6-foot-long rear load space for outdoor adventure gear. In addition, (My) has its four bucket seats mounted on machined aluminum stands so the underseat area can be used for additional storage. The center console features an amber trackball that controls the audio, climate control and navigation systems, the displays for which are shown on a centered screen on the dashboard, just below the tachometer and speedometer units. The centered instruments (a throwback to cars of the `30s) early would allow the (My) to be built in either right- or left-hand drive. Although the (My) is a lineal descendant of the Mercury MC2 and MC4 concepts, it looks nothing like either one. Rather, the (My) reflects Ford design boss J Mays's 14 years at Audi, with very large wheel well opening flares, and a rounded roof section and rounded front end similar in character to the Audi TT coupe. It is further characterized by two round high-mounted headlamps and four round taillamps augmented by twin round exhaust outlets. Lincoln Mercury said they had no firm plans to produce either the Blackwood, or the Mercury concept vehicles.