1999 Frankfurt Show, Part II

September 20, 1999
1999 DC Smart car

1999 DC Smart car


1999 DC Smart Cabrio

1999 DC Smart Cabrio

OOH, THAT SMARTS. Just a day before the Frankfurt show’s press preview came word that the head of DaimlerChrysler's troubled Smart car operation is quitting because of differences over how to market the microcompact two-seater. Lars Brorsen's resignation will take effect Oct. 1. But despite this latest setback, DaimlerChrysler’s passenger-car chief, Juergen Hubbert, said he is "absolutely committed" to Smart, which has sold barely half as many cars as initially expected following a launch delayed six months to fix potential safety problems. Volume has begun to pick up in recent months and should get another boost with the introduction of diesel and cabrio (convertible) versions of the barely 10-foot-long Smart two-seat coupe. The automaker also took the wraps off a sleek and sporty roadster concept car, which Smart admits considering for production. It’s about a foot longer and a good bit wider than the current coupe, with a built-in safety cage and a body made of a mix of plastic and metal panels.

BMW’s chairman, Joachim Milberg, offered strong support of his own to his company’s beleaguered British subsidiary, Rover, which has plunged deep into the red with sales off an unexpected 29 percent

1999 BMW concept SVX

1999 BMW concept SVX

so far this year. That decline comes despite the recent introduction of the all-new Rover 75 saloon (sedan). "We’re well on the way to regaining our customers’ confidence," Milberg declared at a crowded news conference. "Our objective is to make Rover profitable again in the year 2002." BMW’s chairman noted his company intends to invest 30 billion D-Marks ($16 billion) over the next five years. While Rover may be struggling, the Land Rover unit continues to do just fine, thank you, as global SUV sales continue to grow. The SVX concept vehicle was one of several BMW Group prototypes on display. It’s essentially an Anglo-Teutonic take on the Jeep Wrangler.

1999 BMW Z8

1999 BMW Z8

FROM AAH TO Z. BMW put the mark of Zorro on two of its Frankfurt premieres. The Z8 is "a tribute to the legendary BMW 507," the company's chairman, Joachim Milberg, declared. It’s also the production version of the stylish Z07 super-roadster that debuted, in concept-car form, at the 1997 Tokyo Motor Show. The body — and suspension — is aluminum, mounted on a space frame. It’s equipped with a 5.0-liter, 400-hp V-8 capable of 0-to-60-mph times of well under 5.0 seconds. While no pricing information was revealed, BMW officials originally suggested it would run in the neighborhood of $150,000.

1999 BMW concept Z9

1999 BMW concept Z9

The Z9 concept vehicle is what industry professionals like to call a "bipolar" car. In other words, some people love it, and a lot of others hate it. This bold and muscular touring coupe has a classical profile with gullwing doors and a rather striking, swept-back nose. When you lift the gullwings, a second set of doors pivots outward. The Z9’s ice-blue exterior is made of carbon fiber mounted on an aluminum space frame. The Z9 sits on 20-inch tires. Curiously, BMW chose to equip the prototype with a 3.9-liter supercharged, direct-injection turbodiesel. The prototype is loaded with an array of electronic bells and whistles, including a pushbutton shifter.

2000 Porsche 911 turbo

2000 Porsche 911 turbo

PORSCHE POWER. It takes only a little practice to spot the difference between the latest iteration of the newest generation Porsche 911. The Turbo edition has three large air scoops up front, along with flared rear wheel arches (the extra room is needed to house the intercooler air ducts) and a newly redesigned, retractable rear wing. Under the covers, you’ll find a turbocharged 3.6-liter flat-six pumping out a tire-spinning 420 hp and 413 pound-feet of torque. That’s enough to launch the 911 Turbo from 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and all the way from 0 to 100 in 9.2 seconds. Top speed is 189 mph, if you have access to the autobahn or a nice open test track.

2017
The Car Connection
See the winners »
2017
The Car Connection
Commenting is closed for this article
 
Ratings and Reviews
Rate and review your car for The Car Connection
Review your car
The Car Connection Daily Headlines
I agree to receive emails from the site. I can withdraw my consent at any time by unsubscribing.
Thank you! Please check your email for confirmation.