Ramblings for Mar. 27, 2000

March 26, 2000

Mangusta becomes Qvale

 Effective immediately, Bruce Qvale, CEO of the Qvale Automotive Group, and Alejandro De Tomaso have agreed to dissolve their business agreement that brought a new De Tomaso Mangusta, now to be called the Qvale Mangusta, to the fore. De Tomaso had developed his own cars in the 1960s, including a forgettable F1 effort, and provided Ford with the Pantera in the 1970s and Chrysler with the Chrysler-Maserati TC in the 1980s. Longtime dealer and importer, Kjell Qvale, had helped revive the Mangusta name with an exotically styled, $78,900 front-engine, rear-drive 2+2 sports car powered by a 4.6-liter Ford V-8. Its three-position "Rototop" roof system allows it to be configured as a coupe, a targa, or a convertible.

Now the Qvale Automotive Group owns the "Mangusta" name and will continue to manufacture and retail the exotic sports car built at its Qvale Modena facility in northern Italy. Said the younger Qvale, "We've been involved in all facets of the automotive business for over 50 years. In that time we've manufactured cars in England, distributed everything from the Volkswagen Beetle to luxury brands like Porsche, Audi and Maserati in the U.S., and, most importantly, we've sold over a million cars." Curiously, this came on the eve of the inaugural Trans-Am Series race at Sebring International Raceway, won by a representation of the Qvale Mangusta, driven by series star Brian Simo.

Beating a path back to racing

While the auto companies are wheeling and dealing, they are also getting more and more involved with racing. From the first day of the motorcar, speed trials such as the Le Mans enduro have been the traditional way of generating buyer interest and demonstrating reliability. All three major U.S. car companies are now officially entered in the 2000 Le Mans 24-Hour race, scheduled for June 10 and 11, with cars that can challenge for the overall win.

Chrysler's new factory-backed effort consists of two Mopar V-8-powered Prototypes entered by Team ORECA, that uses the new Reynard 2KQ chassis with the proven durability of Mopar's World of Outlaws developed aluminum V-8. The 6.0-liter V-8 racing engine powered sprint car driver Mark Kinser to the 1999 championship. According to Hugues de Chaunac, founder, Team ORECA, "we are going to Le Mans to gain experience as we prepare for 2001." Team ORECA will also field three factory-backed Viper GTS R/Ts, with the objective of winning the GTS category for the third consecutive year. Team ORECA's Dodge Viper GTS R/T was the outright winner of the Rolex 24 at Daytona Beach, Fla. Cadillac has had good proving runs at Daytona and Sebring, and Ford is represented by the Panoz team, with Mario Andretti driving this year. Due to rules changes and other manufacturer's preoccupation with Formula 1, the 2000 Le Mans may represent the best chance for the Americans.

Better fuel economy, 1-2-3

With the increase in gas prices, I've been asked by readers and editors to provide the secrets of improving gas mileage.

  • First, keep your car tuned. That is quite easy with the modern cars that have built-in reliability and electronic controls.
  • Second, a little attention to driving habits: avoiding rapid starts. Coasting up to stop signs and lights will bring better mileage and a calmer trip around town.

Finally and most importantly, invest $10 in a GOOD tire pressure gauge, keep it in your glovebox, and find out where you can fill your tires regularly. A majority of cars are running around with under-inflated tires, and are losing several miles per gallon. In addition, ride suffers and tire life is seriously diminished. Last, but not least, handling is greatly improved and the risk of tire rupture goes down dramatically.


Bob welcomes comments or questions at bstorck@sprynet.com.

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