Friday, July 27, 2007


Hemidakota...a.k.a Steve taking the base record [USAA rules]

What did it take to gain that perfect bench? You will need to do at least one of the following:
Alot of prior training
315lbs for 20-reps
405lbs for 10-reps
505 lb for 5-reps
and a
550lb for 2-reps

Marine team

Chris - 605lb bencher and 5'.4"

Chrysler Chairman Wolfgang Bernhard: Why He Matters

Posted By:Phil LeBeau

There's a new sheriff at Dodge, and for that matter Chrysler as well. But the new boss is actually one of the old bosses. Either way you look at it, the return of Wolfgang Bernhard to be chairman of Chrysler is important for a few reasons.

First, he brings the kind of urgency Chrysler needs. Yes, Tom LaSorda will remain CEO, but while he ran the shop under Dieter Zetsche, the U.S. Automaker never got the full attention it deserved at DaimlerChrysler

DaimlerChrysler AG

88.57 -0.34 -0.38%

[DCX 88.57 -0.34 (-0.38%) ]. That's not to say LaSorda was kept from pursuing projects under Zetsche. But there's huge difference being the only child, as Chrysler is under parent company Cerberus, and being a decidedly second favorite at Daimler.

Bernhard's agressive style is one reason Chrysler rolled out hit models like the 300C and Charger when he was COO of the company under Zetsche. He will push the automaker to stand out and break away from building rather mundane designs like the Dodge Caliber. It will take some time for that to happen, but keep in mind Chrysler's designers are among the best in the business--when freed up to do their thing.

Second, Bernhard knows Chrysler and its place in America's auto landscape. That institutional knowledge is critical in helping him get Chrysler back on track. Does this guarantee Chrysler will avoid building mis-positioned models like the Aspen? No. But Bernhardt knowing what Chrysler stands for in the U.S. will help him and the new management team re-establish the automaker.

Now, I can already hear you as you read this say to yourself, "how much difference can one guy make?" In this case, quite a bit. Bernhard is one of those lightning rod leaders in the auto business who is extremely confident with the talent to back up his swagger. And putting the swagger, and profit, back in to Chrysler is the kind of challenge he will relish.

Sonoma: Team Mopar preview

Racing series NHRA
Date 2007-07-27

Johnson on a roll as he heads for the Fram Autolite Nationals, Stevens hopes to gain momentum with a good showing at the Fram Autolite Nationals in California

* Allen Johnson seeks more success after back-to-back finals' appearances

* Richie Stevens Jr. looking for redemption after red lighting at Bristol

Center Line, Mich. -- Allen Johnson and Richie Stevens Jr., Team Mopar®'s NHRA POWERade Pro Stock duo, head for the West Coast this weekend for the Fram Autolite Nationals at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. Johnson has posted back-to-back finals appearances during the last two races while Stevens, the No. 10 qualifier at Bristol, will seek redemption after red lighting in the first round of eliminations.

Johnson seeks more success after back-to-back finals Team Mopar driver Johnson, pilot of the Mopar/J&J Racing Dodge Stratus R/T, has been on a roll lately as he has posted back-to-back finals appearances in the last two NHRA events. Riding this hot streak, Johnson is poised to clinch a spot in the Countdown to the Championship with a good showing at the Infineon Raceway this week.

At last week's event, Johnson's matchups in the eliminations not only presented a problem for him, but for the folks covering the race as well. After all, when Allen Johnson defeats Warren Johnson in the second round, then goes up against and defeats Kurt Johnson in the third, well, that's a lot of Johnsons to keep straight. But for Allen, that's just all background noise. "I don't pay any attention to who's next to me," he said. "I only want to make sure I'm first to the finish line."

Johnson also realized that you always need a little bit of luck to make it all the way through to the finals. He said, "We've been fast and consistent all year, but it's only lately that we've started to get some breaks, too. With Warren and Kurt red lighting, it looks like we're starting to get some things to go our way finally. The key will be to keep it going this week at Infineon. It's all starting to come together just in time for the Countdown and we plan on being there when the smoke clears."

Stevens Jr. hopes to get back on track at Infineon It was a week that began with so much promise but also ended with disappointment as Richie Steven's Jr. was unable to advance in the Pro Stock standings. After posting the 10th best qualifying time on Saturday, Stevens figured he was ready to pull off some upsets once the elimination rounds started. Unfortunately, he was a little too quick on the trigger and red lighted in his first race.

With the race at Infineon coming up this week, Stevens knows he has the car and crew to make a great showing at one of his favorite tracks. "It's all coming together at the right time," Stevens said. "If I just do my job, the results will take care of themselves."

Fram Autolite Nationals Event Details
The Fram Autolite Nationals is scheduled for July 27--29 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. Qualifying coverage will air on Saturday, July 28 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. (EDT) on ESPN2. Three hours of eliminations coverage will be broadcast on Sunday, July 29 starting at 8 p.m. (EDT) on ESPN2.

-credit: mopar/dsr

Bernhard Set to Be Chrysler Chairman

Associated Press

By TOM KRISHER 07.27.07, 10:46 AM ETDETROIT -
Wolfgang Bernhard, a senior adviser to Cerberus Capital Management LP, will return to Chrysler to become chairman of the automaker's board of directors once its sale to the private equity firm is completed, a person familiar with the situation said Friday.

The likely date of the sale's closure is Aug. 3, said the person, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of not being identified by name.

The person, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter, also said that current Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda would remain in his current position and control day-to-day decision-making.

The Bernhard appointment also was reported by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Detroit News. The newspapers cited people familiar with the situation they didn't name.

Chrysler spokesman Mike Aberlich said he had no comment. A message seeking comment was left for Cerberus spokesman Peter Duda.

Bernhard's return to Chrysler is not a surprise. His involvement in negotiations between Chrysler's parent, DaimlerChrysler AG (nyse: DCX - news - people ), and Cerberus is thought to have played a role in persuading United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger to support the sale.

Bernhard was known for his manufacturing acumen and his decisive management style when he served as chief operating officer at Chrysler from 2000 to 2004. He acted as the No. 2 executive to former Chrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche, who now is the chief executive at DaimlerChrysler.

Bernhard eventually left DaimlerChrysler for Volkswagen (other-otc: VLKAF.PK - news - people ) and oversaw the VW brand until stepping down for unspecified reasons in January.

More Light-Duty Diesels Coming

July 27, 2007
So-called half-ton pickups will be getting fuel-thrifty diesel engines soon. Diesel engines, which are popular with trailerists, typically boost fuel economy by about 30 percent. According to a study by the Martec Group, a typical diesel engine option costs the consumer about $6,660 more than a comparable gas motor. However, after 4.5 years of ownership, a diesel is worth about $4,700 more than a gas-engined pickup. During those years of ownership, the diesel owners surveyed saved about $4,200 on fuel.

Ford is going to offer a 4.4-liter V-8 turbodiesel in the F-150 pickup, and perhaps the Expedition. This engine is based on the 3.6L turbocharged V-8 used in Range Rovers sold in Europe.

Dodge is adding a Cummins 4.2-liter V-6 turbodiesel to the Ram 1500 pickup truck. It may put out about 190 hp and 570 lb-ft of torque and is expected by 2010.

GM recently announced plans for a 4.5L V-8 Duramax turbodiesel in Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500-series pickups, and the Hummer H2 by 2010.

Nissan may add either a V-6 or V-8 Navistar-sourced turbodiesel to the Titan in 2010.

Rival Toyota may introduce a turbodiesel Tundra, using an Isuzu-built engine, also in 2010.

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Another Dodge Viper crash

Edison man critically injured, boy killed in 2-vehicle Turnpike crash
Home News Tribune Online 07/26/07

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A 17-year-old Florida boy was killed and a 21-year-old Edison man critically injured early today after the Dodge Viper they were traveling in collided with a tractor-trailer on the New Jersey Turnpike, said State Police Sgt. Stephen Jones.

At 3:53 a.m., Mark J. Leo of Edison and Thomas Demetro of Orlando, Fla., were headed southbound in the truck lanes in a 2004 Dodge Viper. While near Interchange 14, the vehicle crossed from the left lane into the center right lane and struck a tractor-trailer, driven by Taif Allah, 33, of Elizabeth.

The Viper careened out of control and crashed into the center median, where it was struck by the same tractor-trailer it had hit, Jones said. Though neither were wearing seat belts and both were ejected from the car, State Police believe Leo was the driver. The tractor-trailer ended up on the center guardrail.

Demetro was pronounced dead at the scene by a medical examiner at 4:05 a.m. Leo was taken to University Hospital in Newark in critical condition, Jones said. Allah sustained minor injuries.

New Jersey Turnpike Authority spokesman Joe Orlando said the sports car was traveling well over 100 mph when it hit the tractor-trailer. Blood samples from Leo and Demetro were taken at the hospital to determine if alcohol was a factor in the
crash, but the results were not immediately available.

The southbound lanes from Interchange 14 to Interchange 13A were closed until 10 a.m. Morning rush hour traffic was diverted onto the inner roadway, where drivers experienced significant backups, Jones said.

Chrysler Confirms Challenger SRT-8

TimesPosted Jul 27, 2007, 3:30 AM ET by Jason

"Chrysler Group has confirmed that it will build a high-performance version of the Dodge Challenger. It is expected to launch sometime after the 2009-model base car rolls out. The SRT-8 Challenger will be based on the next-generation LX platform, the LY. Currently, the LX platform serves the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger sedans and the Dodge Magnum. Currently the SRT-8 products are equipped with a 6.1L, Hemi V8.". Source:

Plymouth Cricket: The Amazing Disappearing Mopar


After watching the '71 Plymouth Cricket ad yesterday, we got to wondering: how was it that the Cricket (which was a rebadged Hillman Avenger built by the Chrysler-owned Rootes Group) disappeared from America's roads without a trace? Has anyone here ever seen one? After all, Chrysler did sell a fair number of them here before the captive-import Colt took over their subcompact duties. Was the car that bad? Take a look at Allpar's Cricket page for their version of the story: []

Chery and Dodge to work together to make new brand?

We at China Car Times towers are hearing rumors that Chery and Dodge, already in a deep joint venture over the A1 and A3 are planning to work together to make an entirely new brand for emerging markets where neither marques have presence (we’re thinking the Indian market). The original deal with Chery will see the Chery A1 going to Mexico before January next year, but carrying the Dodge logo and stickering. Other models, which have yet to be announced will be going to the USA in 2009.

We’ve got this snippet of news to share:

China’s Chery Automobile and its US partner Chrysler are discussing the possibility of creating a new brand to make forays into emerging markets where neither has a presence now, according to a source.

The source, who asked not to be named, told China Daily that the two firms intend to jointly develop small models that would not bear a Chery or a Chrysler badge for markets such as India.

“The two parties also intend to form a joint venture responsible for marketing these new-brand cars,” the source said. But the source wouldn’t reveal the name of the new brand or other details.

The Chery spokesman was not available for comments yesterday. A Chrysler China official refused to comment.

Third worlders, get ready to trade your horse and cart in for a Dodge made Chery.

UPDATE: American Axle's 2Q Net Up On Higher Sales, Cost Cuts

Dow Jones

DETROIT -(Dow Jones)- American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc. (AXL) said Friday that second-quarter net income rose 67% due to productivity gains, cost cuts and higher sales.

Detroit-based American Axle is a major supplier to General Motors Corp.'s (GM) new pickup trucks.

The company also increased its new business backlog for 2008 to 2012 by $400 million to $1.2 billion.

While production of full-size sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks for GM and the Chrysler Group was flat year over year, production on midsize SUV and truck programs American Axle supplies was down about 18%.

Net income for the quarter ended June 30 was $34 million, or 64 cents a share, compared with $20.4 million, or 40 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

Revenue increased to 4.8% to $916.5 million from $874.6 million.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial forecast earnings of 60 cents a share and revenue of $888.75 million, on average.

"Through the first half of 2007, AAM is on track to achieve its annual objectives for sales growth, margin expansion and free cash flow generation," said American Axle Chairman and Chief Executive Richard E. Dauch in a statement.

American Axle said that much of the new business it will launch in 2008 through 2012 will be built at its non-U.S. plants and that about half the business is for rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive passenger car and crossover vehicle applications.

The company is working to lessen its dependence on pickup truck and sport- utility vehicles and to widen its customer base.

Automobile Quarterly
Automobile Quarterly
This Day in Auto History:

The first Buick is sold to Dr. Herbert H. Hills of Flint, MI according to contemporary journalist Hugh Dolnar, although most later references cite August 13, 1904 as the actual date of sale
The “last” 4-cylinder Dodge is produced, until the introduction of the sub-compact Omni in 1978
Racer Jean Max is born in Marseille, France
Racer Philippe Alliot is born in Voves, France
Racer Moises Solana is killed at age 36 when his McLaren M6B crashes during the Valle de Bravo hillclimb in Mexico

Source: Automobile History Day By Day, by Douglas A. Wick

Muscle car gets PD tryout

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Bob Brownne Thursday, 26 July 2007
Tracy police added some muscle by deciding to try out a new Dodge Charger as a cruiser.
Dodge Charger cruiser
The Tracy Police Department will try out this Dodge Charger as a patrol car for at least the next year. Photo by Glenn Moore

The newest addition to the Tracy Police Department car fleet is a tryout of the latest in patrol muscle cars.

The department took delivery two weeks ago of a 2007 Dodge Charger, Daimler-Chrysler’s recent entry into the police car market, and expects to have it on regular patrols by next week.

Administrative Sgt. Tony Sheneman said it’s too early to tell if the Charger will replace the Ford Crown Victoria as the department’s favored police car, but Tracy police figured it would be worth a try.

The new car will be part of the 29-car patrol fleet and will be on the street for two of three shifts every day. In addition to their regular reports, officers will fill out forms that rate the car’s handling, speed and roominess.

"We’ll use that questionnaire to gauge whether this particular vehicle is acceptable to patrol staff," Sheneman said.

The city bought the car for just more than $30,000 after the police department sought bids, with Amador Motors Inc. of Jackson submitting the only bid. The most recent purchase of patrol cars before that was nearly $97,600 for four Crown Victorias, about $24,400 per-car, from Senator Ford in Sacramento.

The department pays another $20,000 or so per car to install on-board computers, video cameras, lights, sirens, seats and the metal screen between the front and back seats of the car.

Chief David Krauss said one of the selling points for the Dodge is that it could cost less to add special equipment. He expects the Dodge might also be faster and handle better. The car has Dodge’s trademark 340-horsepower, 5.7-liter, eight-cylinder Hemi engine.

The car reportedly goes from zero to 60 mph in six seconds, and the speedometer tops out at 160 mph.

But the car is also about 4 inches narrower than the Crown Victoria, meaning an officer with all of his or her equipment would have a tight fit in the front seat. And the windows are smaller, so visibility through the side and back windows is restricted. Plus, the back seat where suspects sit is much smaller, with little leg and foot room.

"We’re not making any commitment yet," Krauss said. "We’re seeing how they will hold up and if the officers like them better."

"Frankly, Ford has had a corner on the market. It’s almost like a monopoly," he said. "We’ll just have to see what (Dodge’s) product is."

Sheneman added that it will take about three years, which is how long the department typically keeps a patrol car, to get an idea of how durable the Dodge is. Tracy usually sells its cars at auctions as they approach 100,000 miles, though he mentioned that some agencies keep their Fords until they’re at nearly 200,000 miles.

Steve McCarty, general sales manager at Amador Motors, said his company took a leap of faith this spring when it ordered 20 of the cars, not knowing if police departments would be interested in the new model.

After delivering Tracy’s car, he has only one left and has eight more on order. He said police departments in Pleasanton, Sutter Creek, Grass Valley and Yreka wanted the cars, and other dealers in Idaho and Arizona bought cars from him after their local police agencies decided to try them out.

"Since we’ve sold those cars, everybody and their brother wants one, now that we don’t have any," he said. "I’m going to have to tell all these people that I’ll have to order them and they’ll be here in 10 weeks."

Thanks to you, Chrysler's paying for a new dashboard


After reading Action Line (June 18) about PT Cruiser dashboards cracking, I tried unsuccessfully to file a complaint and then sent an e-mail to Action Line describing my problem. I figured that would be the end of it.

However, on July 23, I received a call from the Daimler-Chrysler executive referral department. Apparently, Action Line had forwarded my complaint.

The woman made arrangements for me to take my PT Cruiser to the service manager of a local dealership for inspection and -- believe it or not -- she called back today and said Chrysler would pay for a new dashboard and all the parts needed to install it if I would pay the installation cost.

I agreed.

Since I had received nothing but negative responses from the dealership and Chrysler, I can only think that my complaint would never have been addressed without Action Line's intervention.

I truly appreciate what you've done and cannot thank you enough.

Thousands Come out for Camp Jeep

Thursday July 26, 2007 11:47pm Posted By: Rachel Duncan

» Watch the eVideo

Nelson County, Va -
They have come from far and wide, and they have one thing in common- they all drive Jeeps. Nelson County is holding this year's Camp Jeep. We were there and it's a lot like a big playground for big kidsTammy Winey, Jeep Enthusiast-- "Lots of rocks, lots of fun, a little mud, and here we are."

They come from all over- Pennsylvania, New York, Wisconsin, Florida- even California.

Mark Winey, Jeep Enthusiast-- "Today we did the most difficult trail. It was just right. Enough to challenge me. Enough to make my wife a little nervous."

People of all ages are here to go off-roading and get a good adrenaline rush. There's a sea of Jeeps - organizers say this year is one of the biggest yet. It's sold out.

Dianna Gutierrez, Manager of Public Relations for Jeep-- "It's a great event, and it really shows the true jeep spirit."

And with more than 10,000 people all sharing the same passion- it's not hard to find things to talk about.

Dan Lenhart, Jeep Enthusiast-- "The fellowship is unbelievable, cause you know, we have that common bond of owning a jeep. It doesn't matter what kind. We're hitting the trails and everyone is having a good time."

It's a good time - even when you're stuck in the mud. This is the 6th time Camp Jeep has been held in Nelson County. Pro-skateboarder Tony Hawk and snowboarding Olympic Gold medalist, Shaun White will be putting on a show Saturday.

Chop of the week....

Chrysler mailing takes tougher tone

Dealers told to meet sales goals soon

The Chrysler Group has warned 173 dealers, who have struggled to meet sales goals, to improve in six months or face losing their franchises.

"We're not going after any dealers to get rid of them," Steven Landry, Chrysler executive vice president for North American sales, said Thursday. "The notes that we sent out to 4% of our dealers basically is to say that you are under performing by a very high degree compared to other dealers in your market, and we'd like them to improve their performance."

Landry emphasized that the majority of Chrysler's 3,700 dealerships are doing well and that the company would be remiss not to address the low performers. About 20 letters went to dealers in the sales area that includes Michigan, a person familiar with the correspondence said.

Such letters have been used in the past to address dealerships with low sales, but this round is more aggressive as part of the company's turnaround plan announced in February that aims to return the company to profitability after losing $680 million last year.

Leo Jerome, who owns a Chrysler Jeep dealership in Lansing, said he received the letter earlier this month and plans to fight it. "It's a crazy thing," he said, adding that area dealers have struggled because of a nearby General Motors plant, and he doubts anyone new could do better. "I am ready to take them on," he said of Chrysler.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Another Ripped Viper Owner in Orlando

Crash Kills 1, Injures 1 on N.J. Turnpike

Fatal Newark Accident

The accident occured near Interchange 13 in Newark.


(AP) NEWARK One man is dead and another critically injured after a Dodge Viper collided with a tractor-trailer and disintegrated on the New Jersey Turnpike in Newark early Thursday morning, snarling traffic through the morning commute.

The victims were in the car.

Turnpike Authority spokesman Joe Orlando says the sportscar was traveling well over 100 miles-per-hour when it hit the truck around four this morning.

Orlando says the southbound truck lanes around Exit 13-A are mostly opened after they were closed for several hours.

The injured man was taken to University Hospital in Newark.

Dodge teams pp with Patrick Carpentier for first NASCAR Busch Series race in Canada

Montreal, QC, (July 26, 2007) – Dodge/MOPAR of Canada and the Dodge Quebec Dealer Advertising Association will rev up the Dodge brand when the NASCAR Busch series visits Canada next weekend.

Dodge recently announced their sponsorship of Patrick Carpentier, one of Quebec’s most recognized and most respected sports figures, which provides him the opportunity to drive the Dodge Charger in Canada’s first-ever NASCAR Busch Series race.

"I am really happy that the Dodge Quebec dealers have given me the opportunity to make my first start in the Busch Series race in Montreal," mentioned Patrick Carpentier. "Honestly, I am thrilled to be racing in front of my fans. It will be a very busy weekend with two races in two days, but I will definitely have fun. I have a very good car and the team is very competitive, so I will do everything I can to finish on the podium at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve."

Dodge also is the Presenting Sponsor of the August 3-4, 2007 race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. Dodge has a long standing association with stock car racing in Canada and is committed to supplying drivers with some of the best equipment available. The Dodge Charger returns for another season of high-speed action and is also joined this year by the new Dodge Avenger. The all-new 2008 Dodge Avenger is in dealer showrooms now, bringing the Dodge Charger heritage to the mid-size segment.

"The Dodge commitment to stock car racing at local, regional and national levels in Canada is unmatched," said Judy Wheeler, Vice-President – Marketing, DaimlerChrysler Canada. "With this sponsorship of Patrick Carpentier, we are telling Dodge owners that we are committed to bringing them world-class stock-car racing."

Dodge Brand

Dodge is Chrysler Canada’s best-selling brand including Dodge Ram and Dodge Grand Caravan. Chrysler Canada sold 220,500 Chrysler, Jeep® and Dodge vehicles in 2006 and is the number 2 seller of cars and trucks in Canada. The company has more than 11,000 employees and two assembly plants that build more than 600,000 vehicles a year, most of which are exported for sale. With nine new vehicles launching in the last two years,

Mopar Brand Chrysler’s Global Service & Parts division is responsible for the manufacturing and distribution of nearly 250,000 authentic Mopar branded replacement parts, components and accessories for Chrysler, Jeep® and Dodge vehicles sold around the world. The division has more that 250 employee and six part distribution centre in Canada.

Canada - 2008 Dodge and Chrysler minivans offer new looks

Chris Chase, CanWest News Service

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? Of course, there aren't many new tricks to learn when it comes to minivans. This handy vehicle configuration has seen myriad innovations, from a variety of manufacturers, since Chrysler more or less invented the segment in 1984.

The crossover SUV may be the latest craze in carry-alls, but the fifth generation of the mother of all minivans -- the Dodge Caravan and its upscale Chrysler Town & Country twin -- arrives for 2008 with new looks, some new stuff under the hood and -- best of all, perhaps -- a lower price.

Base pricing starts at $26,495 for the Grand Caravan SE Canada Value Package (CVP) and tops out at $35,995 for the Chrysler Town & Country Touring. That makes the '08 Grand Caravan $3,810 cheaper than its 2007 equivalent, while the T&C's base price is a whopping $6,570 less than in 2007. While the Town & Country has typically sold in relatively small numbers, the attractive new price could reel in buyers who might previously have bought a well equipped Grand Caravan.

One of the most significant changes to Chrysler's minivans is that the short wheelbase configuration is gone. So, no more Caravan; all Dodge models are now Grand Caravans, and the Town & Country remains the upmarket alternative.

The reason for the dramatic price drop, according to Judy Wheeler, vice-president of marketing for DaimlerChrysler Canada, is to avoid alienating current owners of short wheelbase vans who might be looking for a similarly priced replacement vehicle.

"Buyers who chose short wheelbase vans in the past did so mostly for the lower price," said Wheeler. "We want to retain those buyers even though we're no longer offering a short wheelbase model."

For power, the entry-level Grand Caravan SE CVP gets a 3.3-litre V6 good for 175 horsepower and 205 lb.-ft. of torque, and a four-speed automatic transmission. It's not a groundbreaking powertrain: While both horsepower and torque are up five from 2007, just about every other minivan out there offers at least 240 horsepower and a five-speed automatic tranny.

Buyers with gear envy should opt for the available six-speed transmission -- a minivan first -- that will be paired with a 3.8-litre V6 (also carried over from '07, and making 197 h.p. and 230 lb.-ft.) and a new 4.0-litre V6 borrowed from the Chrysler Pacifica crossover. That largest engine should satisfy power-hungry soccer moms: Its 251 h.p. and 259 lb.-ft. of torque will put these vans very near the top of the minivan horsepower charts. Only the Toyota Sienna has more horsepower, with 266, but the 4.0-litre Chrysler motor is tops for torque.

For its $26,495 opening price, the base Grand Caravan CVP is, well, basic. All the necessities are here, though: four-wheel disc antilock brakes, Chrysler's electronic stability control with brake assist and traction control, and side curtain air bags for all three rows of seats. What you don't get are the nifty second-row Stow 'n Go seats, but there are underfloor storage bins in their place. Losing the middle seats here means going old school and taking them out. All the new Grand Caravans get third-row seats that disappear into the floor.

The Grand Caravan SE Stow 'n Go does get second-row seats that fold into the floor. In addition, this model features anti-static, odour and stain upholstery, a front-row centre console with four cup holders, cruise control and body-coloured side moulding and door handles. The list price here is $28,795.

For another $1,700, the Grand Caravan SXT adds remote start, second-row power windows and third-row power pop-out vent windows; power adjustable pedals; leather-trimmed shifter and steering wheel; steering-wheel-mounted audio controls; power heated mirrors; aluminum wheels and some exterior brightwork; trip computer and compass display in the instrument cluster, and a tachometer.

Key extras for the Town & Country Touring are a powered lift gate and sliding side doors, an eight-way power driver's seat and three-zone climate control with rear air conditioning and heating. The Touring model also gets the 3.8-litre V6 and six-speed automatic transmission as standard kit.

Move up to the T&C Limited, the priciest Chrysler minivan at $42,895, and you get the 4.0-litre V6 and six-speed auto combo; high intensity discharge headlights; auto-dimming rearview mirror; a rear parking assist system; Chrysler's MyGIG stereo that plays just about every audio format except vinyl; Sirius satellite radio; a 10-speaker sound system with a gargantuan 506-watt amplifier and subwoofer; heated front and second-row seats; premium tire pressure monitoring system, and 17-inch chrome wheels. Extras here include a power sunroof, power-folding third row seats, integrated child booster seats and a trailer-towing package.

Key among extras available in the Grand Caravan SE Stow 'n Go and higher-spec models is the company's newest seating innovation: Swivel 'n Go second-row seats, which can be turned 180 degrees to face the third row.

The 2008 Grand Caravan and Town & Country arrive in Canadian dealerships this fall.

Earlier this month, Audi announced pricing for its R8, a Porsche 911 fighter that will arrive in showrooms in September as a 2008 model. And while entry to this party is anything but cheap -- MSRP is $139,900 -- there's little doubt that Audi will sell every example of this sexy car that it builds. In fact, we're surprised well-funded VW and Audi fanatics haven't been camping out in front of Audi stores since the car was unveiled last fall, just before the Paris auto show.

The R8 should excite Audi fans for the same reasons Harry Potter fans line up around the block for the latest book: the expectation of getting more of something you love, along with all sorts of nifty new surprises.

With a 420-h.p., 4.2-litre V8, a choice of six-speed manual transmission or a sequential manual Audi calls R-tronic, we think it'll hold its own quite nicely: Audi claims 4.6 seconds to reach 100 km/h and a top speed of 301 km/h. A supposedly forthcoming, higher-performance S version, powered by a V10 making at least 500 h.p., would move the R8 into even more rarified company, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Lamborghini and Ferrari in terms of performance, if not price.

In Canada, the R8 will come standard with 19-inch wheels and tires, while 18-inchers will be standard in the U.S. and overseas markets. What we don't get, at least not right away, are lightweight ceramic brakes that will be available elsewhere.

Naturally, there will be many ways to add to the R8's bottom line. A 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo will be available, as well as various interior trim options and different leather colours. Outside, the side "blades," which hide engine air intakes on either side of the car, can be had in three different finishes. Other extras include an R8 luggage set designed to fit snugly in the car's 100-litre cargo area. Better start planning that weekend getaway.

Ottawa Citizen

Russia: Craze For Air-Brushed Cars Hits The Streets

By Chloe Arnold

Russia -- auto airbrush artist Ilnur Mansurov 26Jul2007
Moscow aerographic artist Ilnur Mansurov
(Courtesy Photo)
MOSCOW, July 26, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- They've got the designer clothes, the million-dollar apartments, and the holiday pictures from St. Tropez. But when it comes to cars, it seems it's no longer enough for Russia's moneyed elite to simply drive a top-of-the-line luxury vehicle.

To make their automobiles really stand out, they are having them spray-painted -- with designs ranging from sharks and tigers to scenes from their favorite movies.

Airbrush Master

Wearing scruffy overalls and a pair of goggles, a Moscow artist applies the finishing touches to a baby crocodile emerging from its shell on the trunk of a Lexus.

"For [the Russians] their cars are their hobby, their joy, their free time. Maybe part of it is that people remember how it used to be, life was difficult, dull back then. Now, if they've got the opportunity, they try to live life to the fullest." -- Mansurov

The roof of the car has been transformed into a mother crocodile guarding her eggs. Every centimeter of the car has been custom painted in loving detail.

It is the work of Ilnur Mansurov, a man considered to be a master of the art of auto airbrushing.

"Of course it's art. It's work -- when you spend a lot of time on something, you use your experience, your talent. It's just that's it's technical -- it's a more technical process when you are working on cars," Mansurov says. "I'm happy that so many people see my work, that the cars themselves drive around town like an exhibition, and people are always seeing my work."

Airbrushing, or aerography, as Mansurov prefers to call it, is big business in Moscow. Ten years ago, the most ubiquitous cars on the capital's streets were Russian-built Ladas and Volgas. Today, Muscovites prefer to drive foreign cars and you're less likely to see a rusty Zaporozhets at the traffic light than a line of shiny Audis and BMWs.

Status Symbol

The average wage in Russia remains at around just $5,000 a year. But Russia's rich are astoundingly rich and, Mansurov says, they aren't afraid to spend their money.

"There are lot of people who have earned money quickly. They don't have the sort of conservatism that they have in, say, Great Britain," Mansurov says. "I doubt very much they would paint anything onto a Rolls Royce -- even Big Ben! But here, they're ready to do that. For them their cars are their hobby, their joy, their free time. Maybe part of it is that people remember how it used to be, life was difficult, dull back then. Now, if they've got the opportunity, they try to live life to the full."

A closer look at Mansurov's work (courtesy photo)Mansurov's creations don't come cheap. For $1,500 you can get your hood painted, for $3,000 he'll do one side of the car. But if you want the entire vehicle transformed from a modest, say, Chrysler PT Cruiser, into one of the scenes from "Pirates of the Caribbean," that will set you back upward of $15,000.

A closer look at Mansurov's work (courtesy photo)Mansurov is discreet about his clients. He says many of the cars he has painted belong to pop stars and actors and, possibly, some politicians. But he does let slip that the governor of a region to the south of Moscow recently had his Hummer chauffer-driven to Ilnur's studio, where it was painted with a sunset over the ocean, with flapping seagulls on the roof.

In addition to cars, he has applied his airbrush to two private jets and a yacht.

"And I did a big plane, a Yak-42, which has a height of seven meters. That was hard work because I had to keep running up and down four flights of stairs, dragging my equipment with me," Mansurov says. "On the tail I painted flying geese against the backdrop of a setting sun."

New Direction For Cars

On the other side of Moscow, Vadim Nikulin and Yury Tsarkov run the 4Friends airbrushing studio. They charge a little less than Mansurov -- an entire car costs just $5,000 to spray -- and they specialize in cartoon characters and science fiction. Tsarkov remembers some of the most difficult designs he's been asked to paint.

"We had one client with a Subaru who wanted a robot smashing its way out of the hood," Tsarkov says. "He was very demanding. But after we'd finished, the owner of the car jumped for joy and even left the artist extra money for his work and took him out for a round of drinks."

One of 4Friends' clients is Yaroslav, an insurance salesman, who is having his car spray-painted with smoke and flames.

Airbrushing cars "is a new direction for us," Yaroslav says. "It's as though people want to stand out in the crowd. Yes [sighs], maybe it's a sort of Russian mentality -- to have something that's bigger and better than anyone else's."

Dodge Gains Third-Place Breathing Room; Chevrolet Is The One To Beat At ORP

Reed Sorenson’s win at Gateway International Raceway last Saturday was a run of lucky sevens for Dodge in this year’s Bill France Performance Cup standings.

The victory was the first for the manufacturer in seven races – and third overall on the season. The win increased third-place Dodge’s lead over fourth-place Toyota by seven points, its biggest margin since a seven-point advantage following Milwaukee four races ago.

Dodge, Toyota and second-place Ford have their work cut out for them at ORP of Saturday. First-place Chevrolet has won 15 of the previous 25 races at the track, 14 of the last 15 and the last four in a row, including last year’s victory by reigning series champion Kevin Harvick.

Ford’s win in 2002 by Greg Biffle is the only dent in Chevy’s recent run of success.

Manufacturers' Championship
2007 Point Standings

Chevy 157
Ford 131
Dodge 91
Toyota 83

Chrysler Introduces New 'Best-in-Industry' Lifetime Powertrain Warranty on Chrysler, Jeep® and Dodge Vehicles

Thursday July 26, 10:45 am ET
- The New Chrysler Lifetime Powertrain Warranty
- the first from an OEM and the longest in the industry
- is a statement of confidence in the reliability of Chrysler products
- Warranty covers the cost of all parts and labor needed to repair covered powertrain components - engine, transmission and drive system
- Provides worry-free ownership for new Chrysler, Jeep® and Dodge owners

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., July 26 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Chrysler today announced that the Company would extend its powertrain warranty from the 3- year/36,000-mile Basic Limited Warranty to a new Lifetime Powertrain Warranty. The new Chrysler Lifetime Powertrain Warranty applies to most new Chrysler, Jeep® and Dodge vehicles purchased from dealer inventory and delivered on or after July 26, 2007.

The Lifetime Powertrain Warranty covers the cost of all parts and labor needed to repair covered powertrain components -- engine, transmission and drive system. The new powertrain warranty is limited to the first registered owner or retail lessee. Customers should contact dealers for details on vehicle selection.

"This new Chrysler Lifetime Powertrain Warranty is a statement of confidence to our customers to the reliability of their powertrain. It's peace-of-mind reassurance for as long as they own the vehicle," said Steven Landry, Executive Vice President - North America, Sales and Marketing, Service and Parts, Chrysler Group.

To continue warranty coverage, the owner must have a powertrain inspection performed by an authorized Chrysler, Jeep or Dodge dealer once every 5 years. This inspection will be performed at no charge. The inspection must be made within 60 days of each 5-year anniversary of the warranty start date of the vehicle.

Landry added, "The new Chrysler Lifetime Powertrain Warranty underscores our focus on quality and customer satisfaction. It demonstrates our commitment to customers and the confidence we have in our ability to produce quality, reliable and durable vehicles. That's why we put 'lifetime' on it."

Customers may visit, and for more information. A warranty promotion - print, radio, television and Internet - begins Friday, July 27.

Mark Image

Goods and Services IC 012. US 019 021 023 031 035 044. G & S: Passenger motor vehicles, namely, automobiles, passenger cars, pickup trucks, vans, and sport utility vehicles, and structural parts therefor, excluding all-terrain vehicles and tires therefor
Standard Characters Claimed
Serial Number 78938042
Filing Date July 26, 2006
Current Filing Basis 1B
Original Filing Basis 1B
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

Wolfgang Bernhard

Automotive News Europe
July 26, 2007

MUNICH -- Former Volkswagen brand chief Wolfgang Bernhard will become the new chairman of the Chrysler group when DaimlerChrysler’s sale of 80.1 percent of the company to investment fund Cerberus Capital Management is complete later this year, Germany’s manager magazin reported today on its Web site.

Tom LaSorda will keep his job as Chrysler CEO, the magazine said. The final decision on the executive positions will likely be made as early as today, the report said.

There has been speculation about Bernhard's role at Chrysler ever since Cerberus hired the former Chrysler chief operating officer as an adviser when it was preparing its bid for the U.S. automaker.

Bernhard is best known as the product whiz who championed the Chrysler 300C during his years at Chrysler headquarters. He has been a key adviser to Cerberus in the acquisition, spending a lot of time at Chrysler headquarters.

Cerberus has also hired several other former Chrysler executives as advisers. They include design chief Tom Gale; sales chief Gary Dilts; Thomas Gilman, ex-chief financial officer of DaimlerChrysler Services; and Jerry Farrell, former president of Chrysler Financial Corp.

Automobile Quarterly
Automobile Quarterly
This Day in Auto History:

Sam Breadon, longtime Saint Louis, MO car dealer and owner of the St. Louis Cardinals major league baseball team, is born in New York City
The Mack Brothers Company is incorporated in New York State
Jimmy Murphy in a Duesenberg wins the French Grand Prix in Le Mans to become the first United States citizen driving a United States-built car to win a major foreign race
Racer Don Beauman is born in Great Britain
Racer Ernst von Delius dies at age 27 from injuries suffered the previous day when his Auto Union crashed during the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring

Source: Automobile History Day By Day, by Douglas A. Wick

Festive mood at Chrysler fades fast

Poor-performing dealers warned; debt sale a worry

Chrysler and Cerberus Capital Management won't be formally joined until at least next week, but it's already clear that their union won't begin with a relaxing honeymoon.

Can it be only two months since Cerberus Chairman John Snow and Chrysler Chief Executive Officer Tom LaSorda gave us their best Louis Armstrong impressions, warbling about what a wonderful world it will be for Chrysler under the nurturing wing of private ownership? But look what's happening now:

• Wall Street balked Wednesday at buying a $12-billion debt offering Chrysler was trying to peddle to raise cash, even after delaying the offering a week as Chrysler's banks tried to find takers for the debt.

• Chrysler has banned more than 450 of its dealers from attending factory auctions of used cars because those dealers were falling way short of new-car sales targets set by the company, according to Automotive News.

• And Chrysler has acknowledged sending letters to dozens of poor-performing dealers, threatening to force them out of business. Leo Jerome, a Chrysler Jeep dealer in Lansing, told the Free Press on Wednesday that he has been given six months to improve sales or face losing his franchise.

None of these problems are expected to impede or delay the closing of the deal for Cerberus, the New York private-equity firm, to buy 80.1% of Chrysler from DaimlerChrysler AG, Chrysler officials insist.

But they illustrate how rocky the road ahead remains for the Auburn Hills automaker, no matter how strong the commitment or how deep the pockets of its new owner.

Financial markets have been jittery in recent weeks for a number of reasons, including heavy default rates on subprime mortgage loans, which back some junk bonds and risky corporate loans.

Chrysler's debt is viewed as riskier than that issued to finance most private-equity deals because the company is burning cash in a weak but hotly competitive market for new car and truck sales.

Chrysler lost $680 million in 2006 and nearly $2 billion in the first quarter of this year. The more nervous investors are about a company, the higher interest rates they charge for the debt, and underwriters have reportedly increased the rates for Chrysler's loans by more than 0.5% in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, Chrysler is playing hardball with some of its dealers, just months after LaSorda worked hard to defuse an angry uprising in the wake of last year's huge inventory buildup. Dealers were choking on a glut of cars and trucks factories kept churning out despite weak sales.

"I certainly was not feeling loved by the old regime," said Carl Galeana, owner of Van Dyke Dodge in Warren and Chrysler-Jeep stores in South Carolina and Florida, referring to former Chrysler sales chief Joe Eberhardt, who was forced out after the inventory fiasco.

Galeana said he is meeting his sales targets, so he personally is not being threatened with closure or banned from used-car auctions.

But Jerome, who got a threatening letter for missing his sales targets, said he sells about 50 new Chrysler vehicles a month in a town populated by thousands of current and former General Motors Corp. workers. He said he is angry and worried about the future of Chrysler.

"My question," Jerome said, "is what is Cerberus going to do differently than its predecessors? Knock off a few dealers? ... I don't think that's the problem. In my opinion, they've got other issues to address."

A Chrysler spokesperson said that thinning the dealer ranks, particularly in older, slow-growth markets east of the Mississippi River, was part of the company's turnaround strategy spelled out in February, months before the sale to Cerberus. But Jerome and some industry analysts see the hand of the new owner-in-waiting behind the effort to step up pressure on the weak dealers.

Snow, a former Treasury secretary, has been Cerberus' public face in the Chrysler deal, although Stephen Feinberg is the founder and chief executive officer. Snow consistently has sung a song about Cerberus being a patient long-term investor in Chrysler, with faith in its turnaround plan and management team.

But that doesn't mean hooey to guys such as Jerome, out there trying to move the metal in a very difficult market.

"What does he know," Jerome, asked, speaking of Snow, "about selling cars in Lansing, Mich.?"