Consumer Car News: 4/1/02

March 31, 2002

TCC HEADS TO NY AUTO SHOW
The New York Auto Show is open to the public, and this week at TheCarConnection.com, our team of reporters will be bringing you all the new production and concept vehicles the show has to offer. Get the latest on the Ford Five Hundred, Infiniti G35 Coupe, Chrysler PT Turbo and more in today’s edition of TCC:
2002 New York Auto Show (3/31/2002)

LUTZ: MONARO WILL BE NEW GTO

2002 Holden Monaro

2002 Holden Monaro

One of the most memorable musclecar nameplates will soon be back spinning its tires. The Pontiac GTO will return to the market in time for 2004 – with a concept version likely debuting at the next Detroit auto show – revealed General Motors product chief Bob Lutz, but the next-generation of this classic tire smoker will be coming from “down under.” Confirming earlier reports in TheCarConnection, Lutz announced that GM would do a GTO version of the Holden Monaro, a rear-drive coupe being sold in Australia. The decision to turn to Holden, he added, “gets a high-performance rear-wheel-drive vehicle back into our system far faster than if we started from scratch,” designing an all-new GTO in the U.S. Few details are being offered other than the fact that the next GTO will be V-8-powered.

FORD FIVE HUNDRED COMING IN ‘04

2004 Ford Five Hundred

2004 Ford Five Hundred

A tall-roof sedan based on the Ford CrossTrainer crossover will go on sale in 2004, Ford will announce at the New York auto show on Thursday. The Five Hundred puts an emphasis on interior room — larger than the current Taurus, the Five Hundred purports to offer much more leg and head room, and a high seating position like that of Ford’s SUVs. The five-seater will be motivated by a new version of the 3.0-liter Duratec V-6 and either a six-speed automatic or a CVT. Dual front and side airbags, side curtains, AdvanceTrac stability control and anti-lock brakes will be standard on all versions. While the Taurus soldiers on in Atlanta, the Five Hundred begins production in Chicago alongside the CrossTrainer early in 2004.

GAS PRICES ON THE RISE
You’re paying 22 percent more for gas than at the end of last year, Reuters reports — and more increases in gas prices could be on the way as summer comes. The average price of gas last week hit $1.34 a gallon for regular unleaded. Prices have run up nearly 23 cents in just the past month. A reviving economy and the war on terrorism could lift prices higher, but experts tell the news service they don’t expect to see them rising as high as the $1.71 a gallon reached last May.

FORD ENDING FIRESTONE REPLACEMENTS
Sunday will be the last day to swap Firestone tires for other brands through Ford, the automaker said Thursday. As part of its sweeping recall of Firestone tires found on some of its most popular SUVs and trucks, Ford said last October that it would finish its replacement program on March 31. The $2.1-billion recall brought about the end of a 100-year relationship between Ford and Firestone, which Ford is said to be interested in rekindling. A Ford spokesman told Reuters the company replaced about 10.6 million tires as a result of its action.

FIRESTONE CASE GOES GLOBAL
Some 121 lawsuits filed by foreign plaintiffs will be heard in the U.S. as a result of a hearing on Tuesday, Reuters reports. U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker ruled yesterday that some accidents involving Firestone tires in Venezuela and Colombia could be brought to the States, which could also affect lawsuits pending in several states, the news service reports. The tires are similar to those suspected in 271 deaths and more than 800 injuries in accidents in the U.S. Earlier this year, Firestone brought to an end the recall of some 6.5 million tires deemed unsafe because of tread separations; Ford Motor Company, which put the Firestone Wilderness tires in question on hundreds of thousands of its Explorer sport-utility vehicles, widened the recall and dropped Firestone as a supplier, ending a 100-year relationship. More tread separations are pending with plaintiffs from nations as far-flung as Qatar and Thailand.
Firestone: Getting the Word Out by William L. Sharfman, Ph.D (3/25/2002)

CHRYSLER EXTENDS EXTENDED WARRANTY
Chrysler says the extended-warranty plan it’s offered along with cheap financing will continue through May. The company’s seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty is offered on 2001 and 2002 cars and trucks until May 31. In November, Chrysler stopped matching the zero-percent financing brought on by GM and added the warranty. The company’s sales are down 10 percent so far this year.

MINI STARRING IN NEXT AUSTIN POWERS
The next place you see a Mini Cooper — what with orders outstripping supply at 70 dealers nationwide — might be the silver screen. The Mini will show up, along with Michael Myers, Michael Caine and awful prosthetic dentistry in the third Austin Powers movie coming this summer. The Mini, driven by Caine in The Italian Job, will carry him to further fame behind the line, "it's not size that matters, baby, but how you use it." Yeah, baby. The movie had been named Austin Power’s Goldmember until MGM objected to objectifying their Bond franchise. Click over to http://newline.com/properties/austinpowersingoldmember.html and get the latest on the Mini (and the name snafu).
2002 Mini Cooper (3/31/2002)

 

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