30th May 2011

Tron Car by Timur Bozca

If you are a fan of the Tron Legacy movie that aired last year you should know that it is full with dreaming of the wondrous vehicles. And is no wonder that people would try designing vehicles similar to those in the movie. For example, Timur Bozca, a young and enthusiastic designer has developed the “Tron Car” – a vehicle that seems suitable for any ride on both Earth or Grid.

His car is a combination of the elements found in the movie: it combines a glossy black body with blue neon lines on either side of the car. The car sits on 20″ wheels that are also highlighted by blue neon lines.

The concept’s dimension are 4000 x 2000 x 1550 mm and is comes from the future it is an electronic vehicle. The car runs on four electronic Hub Motors that take their power from both battery and power units for charging and storing energy.

And you will be happy to know that this is a family car: it offers interior room for four people.

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30th May 2011

Italian beauty and absurdity extend to gas stations in Cuneo, Italy

Italian beauty and absurdity extend to gas stations in Cuneo, Italy

Italian gas station by Damilano Studio Architects – Click above for high-res image gallery

When luxury becomes a commodity, there’s little left but to make commodities luxurious. This is a newly constructed gas station in Cuneo, Piemonte, Italy, designed by Damilano Studio Architects, and it’s rather pleasant to look at if modern architecture is your thing. Reinforced concrete enclosing a glass wall creates staggered, latitudinal forms that are sliced by aluminum canopies front and back, with blood red fuel pumps.

We have no idea if a beautiful station sells more fuel or makes the Skittles taste better, but a little more pulchritude in one’s day never hurt, did it? As to that absurdity, around back is a red steel block bearing a work of art that looks like a long armed, dog-headed man on a toilet. It is actually “a wolf howling, illuminated at night, draw[ing] attention to the urgent needs.” Now that will definitely make the Skittles taste better. Thanks for the tip, John!

[Source: Contemporist]

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30th May 2011

With Fiat’s Help, Chrysler Refinances, Pays Off $7.5 billion in Government Loans

STERLING HEIGHTS, MICHIGAN – It’s 72 degrees Fahrenheit in Metro Detroit. Much, much warmer in Chrysler’s Sterling Heights assembly plant, which was once slated for post-bankruptcy closure and now gets by with facelifted Chrysler 200s and Dodge Avengers. “A plant,” Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne says, “which is now looking forward to the introduction of new, state of the art platform which will guarantee it a future for a long time to come.” That’s the all new, Fiat-platform midsize Chrysler and Dodge planned for the 2014 model year.

It’s 72 degrees, and Marchionne is wearing his signature sweater, and former Automotive Task Force chief Ron Bloom chides the Chrysler chief about his clothing. Weeks earlier, Bloom says, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, famous for always wearing a hoodie, dressed up in a suit to meet with the president.

“Here in Detroit, there is another CEO who appears sartorially challenged,” and Bloom, who is now Obama’s Manufacturing Policy chief, doesn’t rate an upgrade.

It was that sort of celebration Tuesday afternoon. Marchionne admitted he choked up when he spoke before employees at the Auburn Hills headquarters Tuesday morning, and that now, the standing ovation, initiated by design and Dodge brand chief Ralph Gilles was threatening to make him verklempt again.

And yet, we all gathered here for the numbers. Citigroup confirmed that at 10:13 a.m. Tuesday, it had transferred more than $7.5 billion to the U.S. Treasury and the Canadian and Ontario governments, paying off $6.7 billion in remaining loans and $1.8 billion in interest (in round numbers). Marchionne, Bloom, the United Auto Workers Chrysler Department vice president and director General (that’s his first name) Holiefield, Chrysler manufacturing veep Scott Garberding and his workers all wore red, white and blue campaign-style buttons with the word “PAID” below the Pentastar and “May 24, 2011” below that.

And yet, detractors still angry about the Chrysler and General Motors bailouts and bankruptcies will note that the U.S. Treasury still holds 6.6 percent of Chrysler, reduced from 8.6 percent. Canadian governments’ interest goes from 2.2 percent down to 1.7 percent, and the UAW Retiree Medical Trust holds 45.7 percent.

Bloom, who said that “given after today, Chrysler will have less to do with us,” and he’d like Eminem autographs for his 9- and 11-year-olds, offered no guidance in the reporters’ scrum afterward on how soon an initial public offering will allow Treasury to divest itself of that remaining share of the company.

About $1.9 billion of Chrysler’s pre-bankruptcy loans remain on the books, and Bloom said he didn’t expect we’ll get that back. This is from the loans that old, Cerberus-owned Chrysler received during the first half-year of the Obama administration, from President Bush’s Targeted Asset Relief Program funds.

Of the roughly $1.8 billion in interest that Chrysler has paid since the June 2009 bankruptcy, $1.4 billion has gone to the U.S. Treasury and the rest to Canada and Ontario. So the interest has eaten all but half a billion dollars of the unpaid pre-bankruptcy loan. After Chrysler launches the Alfa-Romeo-based Dodge PF 40-mpg (highway) car before the end of this year, Treasury’s share of the company will be cut to 1.6 percent.

To Marchionne’s credit, he didn’t present Bloom with a giant check for $5.1 billion (our share of the payoff), Lee Iacocca style.

How viable is Chrysler going forward? Marchionne was able to pay off the loans by borrowing $3 billion in a term loan, by issuing $3.2 billion in junk bonds, at rates well below the governments’, and by arranging another $1.3 billion in revolving credit. Fiat put in another $1.27 billion, and the whole deal raises Fiat’s stake in Chrysler from 30 percent to 46 percent. Marchionne promises the 40-mpg Dodge PF (which he did not name) will go on sale before the first quarter of 2012, a provision that will give Fiat another 5 percent, for 51 percent total.

Marchionne proudly noted that the repayment comes six years ahead of schedule, just 23 months after the bankruptcy. Chrysler Group posted its first post-bankruptcy profit of $116 million in the first quarter of this year, and he expects to post a profit for the full 2011 fiscal year.

The Dodge PF will be built on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta platform, probably with a 1.4-liter MultiAir four. The PF will have a longer wheelbase and wider tracks than the Alfa Giulietta. Chrysler is working on a Chrysler brand version, too, codenamed PG, though with a larger and less fuel-efficient four. Think of the Chrysler’s relationship to the Dodge PF as the Buick Verano’s to the Chevy Cruze.

Fiat, along with the most of the European industry, is struggling in its home market. Western European car sales haven’t recovered as much as they have here, even as luxury brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi and Porsche post healthy global profits.

Fiat’s impending 51 percent interest in Chrysler gives Fiat, finally, a substantial re-entry point into the still-lucrative North American market. Most future Dodges and Chryslers, and many of the Jeeps, will share architectures and powertrains with Fiats, Alfas and Lancias. Most, if not all, Ram trucks will remain specific to our market. The two automakers’ prospects still look better together than they do separately.

The “been there before” attitude toward Chrysler’s repayments doesn’t begin with the Iacocca bailout and end with the ’09 bankruptcy. Chrysler had to sell its beautiful, iconic art-deco skyscraper in Manhattan not long after it was completed in 1930. After World War II, Chrysler bumped along from feast to famine even as it was on the leading edge of such engineering experiments as the turbine engine.

In his in-depth January 1972 Motor Trend article on the federal government’s anti-trust efforts to break up GM, Karl Ludvigsen quoted a “former GM man” as figuring that a Chevrolet Car Corporation bifurcated from GM would create two giants that would be even stronger than before. “I see the end of Chrysler and American Motors, just like that,” the source said.

What a difference years of bad management makes.

In his “Repayment Day” speech at the Sterling Heights plant, Marchionne repeated what he told employees in Auburn Hills; “painters know that every painting, even the greatest of masterpieces, begin with splashes of colors on a canvas. They know that giving life to a piece of art is much more a question of inspiration, passion and vision, than just technical skill.”

He could have added Pablo Picasso’s words: “Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.”

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30th May 2011

Luxury-car sales starting to jingle again

Dallas — Eighteen months ago, customers at Jim Snell’s Land Rover dealerships sometimes bought new SUVs that looked just like their old ones.

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29th May 2011

Fast cars, fast rise for Miami dealer

The top-selling Audi dealer in the United States is 23 years old — and he has been running the business since he was 19. His name is Brett David, a wunderkind who took over Prestige Imports of Miami in 2007 after a tragedy.

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29th May 2011

Jason Howell was the Sprint Series of Texas winner at Cowtown Speedway

Jason Howell was the SST feature winner.

By Don Cook
Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Cowtown Speedway (Kennedale)
March 26 (Saturday)

The Sprint Series of Texas opened their season at Cowtown Speedway Saturday. Jason Howell, #44, who started from the eleventh position, worked his way through the field to take the checkered flag. Jerry Hammock, #4, and Cory Minor, #8, rounded out the top three positions.

Kennedale Speedway Park will host the next SST race on April, 9. For more information on the SST Series, go to: www.sprintseriesoftexas.com

Jerry Hammock was the second place finisher.

Corey Minor was the third place finisher.

There were 31 SST Sprints in the pits.

To view a video of SST racing highlights, go here:

Nick Clinkenbeard was the Limited Modifieds feature winner.

In the Limited Modifieds feature, Nick Clinkenbeard, #66, was the winner for the second week in a row. Coming in second was Brett Young, #69, and Billy Burt, #72, was third.

Andy Hogan was the 600 Mini Sprints feature winner.

In the 600 Mini Sprints, Andy Hogan, #3d, was the feature winner. Coming in second was Kyle Jones, #04, and Jeremy Hefler, #69, was third.

In the Restrictor Mini Sprints, Deylan Guthrie, #88, was the feature winner. Coming in second was Jeffrie Elisowski, #15x, and Lydon Harvey, #99h, was third.

Larry Smitherman was the Bomber feature winner.

A three-peat, Larry Smitherman, #74, is the man to beat in the Bomber class. Coming in second was Gary Smitherman, #8, and Chad Pearce, #82, was third.

Kevin Robinson was the Wing Modifieds feature winner.

For the third week in-a-row, Kevin Robinson, #75, was the Wing Modifieds feature winner. Rick Poteet, #61, was second and David Williams, #22, was third.

For OFFICIAL results and more information, go to: www.cowtownspeedway.com

To purchase track photos, contact Rudy at: www.rudygarciaphotos.smugmug.com

To view some photos of the race cars, go here:

To view a video of some racing action, go here:

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