Be sure to 'click' on the thumbnail photos to see them in their full-size, and with their complete captions!
The lack of a B-pillar on Nassau allows a smooth and elegant look for the car, and the classic four-door sedan-style configuration means front and rear comfort for passengers. Chrysler has built a reputation for always having one, two or even a few concept car "Oh-mi-gods!" at the LA Show. However, perhaps because of the "Under New Management" sign which was recently hung outside the company's Highland Park, Michigan, headquarters by Cerebus, the private investment firm which now owns the company (meaning Chrysler's corporate bigwigs don't have to worry about pleasing the company's stockholders anymore, because there aren't any), the expected (and always hoped-for) "Wow - wees!" were simply not in attendance this year; Chrysler had this single concept car on display, Dodge and Jeep didn't have anything of real note to explore for disappointed show-goers (and we journalist-types, always looking for something ... anything ... to punch-up our show coverage).
Chrysler's "Nassau" concept, the first concept on display since the company was purchased by a huge Wall Street private investment firm, looked more like a show car which was cobbled together at the last minute by some Chrysler engineers and marketing people. We imagine those marketing-types might have gently approached the company's new owners a month or so before the Los Angeles Auto Show and said something to the effect of, "Well, boss, you know, uh ... Oh, nice suit and great tie, by the way, boss! And, uh, how's the little lady and the kids? ... Oh, what did we want to talk to you about? Well, yes, ahem ... Uh, anyway, the LA Auto Showing is coming up right after Tokyo and the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, and uh, well, we don't really have anything, mmmm, well, you know, uh, 'special' to, uh, display there"". New owners answered, perhaps, "Well, what are you talking about? Why can't we show all our new models? Hell, people always love seeing new models, right?! What's wrong with that?" Then ensued a conversation wherein the company's new (non-car guy) owners found out about 'concepts' and 'prototypes' and all the stuff people really like to see at a big, international auto show like Los Angeles and ... thus we have ... "Nassau". Which the blonde and female "presenter" working the Nassau stand told me, when I asked about the engine, that there is no drivetrain in this show car ... Not even a plastic one to make it look good ...
In spite of Nassau possibly having been cobbled together just in the nick of time for the show, many who saw it were impressed with its exterior modern good looks and very large interior spaces, as well as the long length of each of the four doors, allowing for easy in-and-out, especially for rear seat passengers, oft times quite ignored by stylists and designers, both.
There isn't a lot to ogle when it comes to concept Nassau's straight-on frontal view. The grille is is absolutely Chrysler born and bred; one can "hear" this car coming down the street from two blocks away because of it. Or "thanks to it", if you like that style. The entire area is also nicely sculpted, and while many people no doubt think that the large egg-crate grille is necessary to bring cooling air into the engine compartment, the reality is that these days, almost all the fancy grillework is for show only; cooling air enters the engine compartment on many, if not most cars today (and into the future) through inlets under a vehicles' front fender.
The word "hybrid" has certainly caught-on in a big way with the American public, and even if many consumers are still not quite sure what it means when applied to a particular gasoline-powered vehicle, they do think it means "good", for some reason or other. So leave it to Dodge, makers of the V10-engined Viper, and the "performance division" of Chrysler, to make a hybrid-informed pitch for their "Hybrid Hemi" powerplant, and they can do it with a straight face, too ... Very impressive, their informing the public that a gas-wasting engine you've been making for some 50 years is now clean and gas-sipping! At the LA Auto Show, the Dodge display was promoting this "Hemi Hybrid" (yes, you read right). Dodge said that adding an electric motor and batteries to cars and trucks equipped with their famously fast and definitely fuel-wasting Hemi engine, can improve that vehicle's gas mileage by some FORTY PERCENT. Impressive, huh? But keep in mind that this Hemi-Hybrid gimmick, while it may indeed improve a Hemi-engined vehicle's mpg by 40%, that car or truck will still only average less than 20 miles per gallon.
Add Dodge's new hybrid system to the 5.7 liter V8 Hemi powerplant in this Durango SUV and the company says that its fuel mileage will improve by a magnificent 40%. The only problem with that is that this truck will still average under 20 miles per gallon in overall city and highway driving. It's shown in Dodge's display towing a horse trailer; can't guess how the truck's mileage would average out towing that trailer, with horses or not ...
Dodge certainly offered a very exciting and colorful pitch for the average consumer who is already deeply hung-over from their decades-long addiction to oil. The company (and Jeep and Chrysler) showed-off a lot of their most-modern fuel-saving technologies, from Flex-Fuel cars and trucks, which can run on gasoline or an E85 gasoline/ethanol cocktail to batteries-and-electric-motor hybrid systems. Chrysler and their divisions might find themselves in the most difficult position of all of the domestic and import companies, except perhaps the new car-making companies in China (and they are soon to be in the USA, too; as if we didn't have enough to worry about); they already have for-sale and will be bringing out numerous vehicles which place a strong emphasis on speed and overall performance, equipping many of them with their 5.7 liter Hemi V8 gasoline-only engine. Wonder how many Calibers they have to sell to make up for one 300 with Hemi?
It doesn't happen all that often these days, but once in awhile (and usually at a big auto show in another country, particularly Japan) you'll see some crazy, wild or just plain silly (or even downright ugly) vehicle rotating on a turntable, being hit with spotlights from above and all sides, and suddenly wondering to one's self: "Man, just what the hell were they thinking when they designed THIS?" For me, that "What the hell...?" moment came when I first saw this "Cross Cabriolet" concept car which Audi brought to Los Angeles. Having seen that company's unusual but thought-provoking "MetroProject quattro" concept at the Tokyo Motor Show, barely two weeks or so before this LA Auto Show (and seeing all the far-out stuff at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas between Tokyo and LA), Audi's Cross Cabriolet became only the most recent Car Nut's Official "What the Hell Were They Thinking Vehicle" contest for 2007. What do YOU think? What was YOUR favorite car or truck at the LA Auto Show, or any other show you've vsisted this year or seen through the Web and/or our photo albums ... Let us know by clicking below on "Comments" and dropping us a note!
So, what is Audi 'saying' with this vehicle? Ask that of the well-trained Audi PR (public relations) people at their desk in the Audi exhibition space, and one will hear a lot about "open air enjoyment and off-roading potential in one vehicle, the ability to experience off-road areas with all of nature joining you" and so on. All this is possible, of course, due to the vehicle's convertible top (much of the concept appears 'borrowed' from a production car, that is, Audi's A4 Cabriolet), and the cars' relatively high ride height (the better to go over rocks and plants) and of course the company's "quattro" all-wheel drive system for handling dirt roads easily, and affording a more stable and confident driving (and riding) experience on any type of slippery roadways. Acceleration and braking also feel more secure and safe thanks to quattro, as is handling sharp corners at 'sporting' speeds.
The car is unmistakably an Audi, owing to the huge grille which has apparently become standard on each Audi production vehicle from this time forward. Being something of a "cross", or the offspring from being the result of a marriage between Audi's midrange Q5 crossover (sold in Europe, will be sold in the US in 2009) and their venerable A4 cabriolet. The main probelm we see? Well, it's that we see it at all. This car is simply not very good-looking. In fact, apart from the small groups of people which stopped to see and ask about the General Motors (or Chevrolet) Volt plug-in hybrid on display, there were, sadly, fewer people gathered around the Audi's 'Cross Cabriolet concept'.
For a frightening moment after spying this Mitsubishi Concept CX, we thought we were back in Tokyo! Oh, man, maybe we were stuck in some sort of never-ending Tokyo Motor Show, trapped there forever without a way out ... Not able to speak the language, getting tired of the food and we can't even drive on the 'wrong' side of the street! Could we be in ... Car Show Hell?!?!?! Anyway, we got over it pretty quick ... This is Mitsubishi's Concept CX, which might look like a concept, a 'dream car' or a prototype to American show-goers, but to anyone who has spent anytime in Asia, especially Japan and/or Korea, this car looks like a somewhat larger version of everything else on the streets of those countries ...
Here's a front view of the tidy little (and very familiar-looking to those who have visited Europe and Japan) Concept CX from Mitsubishi. With the Smart car going on-sale soon at the almost 100 dealerships in the US owned by Roger Penske, and introduced for the first time in US production trim at the LA Auto Show, and with Mini (owned and built by BMW) doing very well in the US marketplace and even introducing new models (their Clubman "station wagon"), these teeny-tiny cars usually come equipped with 660cc-or-smaller engines for the big tax benefits they carry in some of their home markets ... Why won't that happen soon in the US? I predict major tax rebates and other attractive benefits for buyers of hybrid cars and trucks and vehicles with other, newer technologies which we might not have even heard about, or even invented, as yet.
This is the second time we had seen the new Lancer in three weeks; there was this time at the LA Auto Show, and we had originally seen it at the Tokyo Motor Show about three weeks earlier. There are two trim levels for the car in the US, LS and MR (the MR package is the pricier of the two). Mitsubishi folks at the display told me that this US version will produce 295 horsepower from a turbocharged I-4 2.0 Liter engine and be equipped with all-wheel drive. In Japan, it is the "Lancer Evolution X", known more simply as the "Evo X" (and the 'X' is pronounced as the letter X; it is not the Roman numeral for 'ten', at least in this case).
With nearly-300 horsepower from its spunky little 2.0 liter I-4 engine with turbo boost and equipped with all-wheel drive, Brembo brakes and a taut suspension to boot, Mitsubishi, at last, has the product which the company can finally, and proudly, sell to US buyers. They have the product; now it's time for the US staff to get the word out, and for Mitsubishi, one of the world's biggest and richest companies, to pony-up the dough-re-mi needed to let their American employees tell the company's story ... to Americans! And first thing they should do --- Stop those irritating, damn "Sale of the Week" adverts which still dominate the company's marketing in the US.
Kia said many months ago that their 'Soul' crossover is now in the product pipeline, with a sales launch in the US slated for late 2008. The Soul was originally unveiled as a concept car during the 2006 Detroit Auto Show. The car on display at the LA Auto Show was called, still, a 'concept', so if the company has run into production problems or money problems with the Soul is not known, at least not publicly as yet. Stuck in a small corner of the LA Convention Center, in fact in the spot where Audi's large, two-story display had been for many years, Kia, the Korean step-child of its parent company, Hyundai, was this year ensconced. Audi had moved across the aisle from their original location, and the square feet Audi took-up this year seemed less than half of what they had paid-for in past shows. Nevertheless, Kia's two concept cars caught the attention of show-goers who might have wandered into the Kia display while looking for a rest room. This "Scion xB"-looking vehicle was called (what else?), Soul. Think they are missing an "E" somewhere which belongs in its name ...
This Kia concept vehicle would ever go on-sale in the US as-is, but based on what Kia execs have been saying for over a year, we expect many of the "styling cues" on the concept have more than a good chance of making it into production. Will Kia announce Soul's production schedule at the Detroit Show in January? The company has said that this front-drive crossover will be powered by a 2.0-liter inline-4 mated to a five-speed automatic transmission with manual shift capability and adaptive cruise control. The Soul's styling verges, as you can see, on the 'quirky', with a wraparound windshield and bulging wheel flares. There's also no B-pillar, which Kia hints may be part of the production "Soul".
Kia introduced their all-new "Rondo" crossover production vehicle, which some observers said looked more like a "tall sedan" rather than a true crossover with the qualities US buyers have come to expect in those vehicles. This KND concept from the company is a sport-looking coupe with a high ride height suggesting some modest off-road use. The KND-4 concept was specifically designed to provide an idea of what next-generation Kia compact SUVs will be like.
This KND-4 from Kia was designed and built at the Kia Design Center in Korea, and Kia says "the new concept exhibits a powerful and strong character that corresponds with Kia’s philosophy of 'Exciting and Enabling'." Len Hunt, formerly a top executive of both VW and of Audi in the USA, is now executive vice president and COO of Kia Motors America. His LA Auto Show comments on the KND-4 includes this quote: "Designed with active and independent consumers in mind, KND-4 demonstrates Kia’s ongoing commitment to making vehicles that are both stylish and technologically advanced." In any event, there's no serious 4x4'ing in KND-4's future, but, just like the Mitsubishi "Concept CX" on that company's display stand, which was just a few feet from Kia's, many Asian companies at the LA Show were pushing small, light, safe and fuel-efficient cars to the US, perhaps smaller then most US buyers would like.
With its high ride height, aggressive-looking rubber on all four corners and a two-door, sport-coupe configuration, Kia's KND concept caught the attention of those few show-goers who managed to at least find the Kia exhibit. Inside, KND-4 has one of those wildly-futuristic cockpits wihch might see production in, we'd say, about 2170 and on a flying vehicle at that, or at least one which disappears into thin air. The company says that "KND-4 is powered by a 2.2-liter Variable Geometry Turbocharger (VGT) diesel engine featuring Kia's Active Torque Transfer (ATT) system, which, in severely slippery conditions, automatically distributes torque to the wheel or wheels with the best traction."
Kia, which is wholly-owned by South Korea's Hyundai company which makes everything from small "city cars" popular in Asia to huge construction equipment to gigantic ocean-going cargo ships. All that experience with 'work' vehicles has given Hyundai and Kia a tremendous amount of experience with diesel engines of all sorts, from small ones used to drive the front wheels of some of their smallest cars which are sold in Asia and Europe, to humongous multi-piston affairs which push some of the world's largest ships to their next port. With this diesel engine experience, Kia displayed a cut-away view of a brand-new "Clean Diesel Technology" which they are planning to bring to the US in 2009, earliest. The display reminded us of the "clean diesel" displays of many car-makers at the Tokyo Motor Show, where we had been just weeks before the LA Show.
For many detailed photos of the GT-R, check-out our "2007 TOKYO MOTOR SHOW PRESS DAY #2" photo album. Even on the day before Thanksgiving, 2007, at 9pm in the evening with nary a show-goer investigating the Chevrolet 'Volt' plug-inhybrid concept just a few feet away, a crowd surrounded the first 2009 Nissan GT-R.
We got plenty of 'clean' shots of the GT-R on the LA Show's Press Days, and of course just three weeks before at the Tokyo Motor Show. But we bet Nissan execs from Japan (and especially the French president of the parent company, Carlos Ghosn of Renault) were happy to see photos like this from the LA Auto Show, with Americans of all shapes and sizes and types and ages giving his latest car a traditional US-style "once over". And we always return to the LA Auto Show one day after the Press Days, when the paying public is there, to listen to their comments, get video and photos of them checking-out the cars and generally getting their "feel" for the various exhibits.
Whether brandishing a $2,000 SLR with 12megs-or-more worth of photo or a more prosaic handheld digital (like we use) or even a point-and-squeeze cell phone camera, LA's show-goers were determined to get their shots of the first official American exhibition of the near-$70,000 480 horsepower 2009 Nissan GT-R.
Certainly the GT-R was one of the most photographed, if not the single-,most photographed, vehicle at this year's Los Angeles Auto Show. With the LA Show now held well before the Detroit Auto Show, more car-makers are using the show to make the US or World Introduction of select new vehicles.
It wasn't easy, but if we waited for a few moments, before the next wave of spectators entered the large and colorful Nissan exhibit at the LA Auto Show, it was possible to get a 'clean' photo of their GT-R. Even the night before Thanksgiving, 2007, at around 6:30pm, crowds formed around the car and many show-goers appeared to be in the aftermarket parts business as they took photos of every angle of the car, front and rear and both sides, even underneath the show car if they didn't mind looking a little silly in front of the other observers. The car was not at the SEMA Show, which had been held less than two weeks earlier in Las Vegas, so this was the first opportunity for many aftermarket industry types to get their first look at the car, for which no doubt there will be a large number of after-the-sale performance and appearance parts available, and soon.
Chevrolet says this car will go into production perhaps as early as 2010 as a 2011 model. And we like the name. It's a 'plug-in hybrid', a technology which Toyota says they are also working at and, Toyota made sure to say at the LA Auto Show, several times in fact, that some of their plug-in Prius prototypes are in the hands of several drivers at various University of California locations, undergoing its own 'real world' testing.
It was announced at the 2007 LA Auto Show that Chevrolet will be wearing the "green" hat for all of General Motors, and this plug-in hybrid, now known as Volt, will be the first of its kind to go into production from GM. Chevy says the car will be most likely be charged via a standard 220 volt plug; 110 volt is in every American home and office; however, many families in the US already have "220 service" drawn into their homes and garages for electric appliances like clothes washers and dryers. And most office buildings, especially any medium- or large-sized buildings, also have 220 volt service and even higher, more powerful systems drawn into their buildings for various other uses. GM says using a 220 volt plug, Chevy's Volt will be fully-charged in six hours.
General Motors employees and ubiquitous"spokesmodels" kept a watchful eye on Volt as it spun slowly, and round-and-round on its turntable-equipped exhibition space. A large LED screen behind the car constantly gave Volt info, from its first concept to the vehicle we saw on the stand.
Sabic Plastics, formerly known as "General Electric Plastics", displayed an interesting concept car built on the Hyundai Tucson platform and utilizing a diesel engine not yet available in the US from the gigantic South Korean car-maker. Sabic's unique concept, which is seen in several photos in our "LA Auto Show Album #1", exhibited more than 32 different 'plastics technologies', but was at the LA Show only for the two Press Days, and was situated outside the large Media Room on a LA Convention Center upper floor, far from the actual auto show seen by the paying public. Their display was one of "business-to-business" only, Sabic hoping to catch the attention of the gathered media and the many executives from the world's car companies who were also visiting the LA Auto Show on its Press Days. Chevrolet made certain that people who saw their impressive "Volt" plug-in hybrid display also knew that Sabic was one of the companies heavily involved in Volt conceptually, and seems sure to be involved in its prototyping and eventual production. Sabic purchased "General Electrics Plastics" to make that large and historic automotive company a part of their worldwide operations.
The day before Thanksgiving, 2007, and not a creature could be heard ... The Chevrolet Volt concept/prototype is slated for possible 2010 production. After a six hour charge from a home or garage or office 220 volt plug, this so-called "plug-in hybrid" will run on batteries-only for the first 40 miles. After that initial drive, a 1 liter, 3-cylinder generator, equipped with a 12-gallon gasoline tank, kicks into service, constantly re-charging the lithium ion battery pack for yet another 40 mile all-electric jaunt. In total, Chevy is claiming that Volt, with a fully-charged lithium-ion battery pack can travel for 640 miles without having to stop to re-fuel that 12-gallon gas tank. Notice, too, the lack of show-goers at 6:37pm on the evening before Thanksgiving. Frankly, we expected a larger crowd.
General Motors, hands-down, won the Car Nut's contest at this year's LA Auto Show. Their big 'Tahoe' SUV, equipped with "The General's" all-new automatic transmission which, when working in tandem with "Active Fuel Management" which chooses between using all 8 or just 4 of the 6.0 liter engine's cylinders, can increase fuel mileage by about 40% or even a bit more. From diesel to bio-diesel to gas/electric hybrids to fuel cell vehicles which use helium as their 'fuel', their only exhaust being pure H2O, we can see that big changes are coming to the US auto industry and we need to be ready for them. Also, note the dearth of celebrities (or anyone else, for that matter) helping to "work" GM's exhibit space and information booth, and the lack of show-goers looking at the Volt.
Have you ever wondered why the little things like gear shift knobs, cigar/cigarette lighters and radio dials (when all vehicles used to have those) and anything else which isn't hard-attached to the vehicles at auto shows are usually not there by the time the public sees them on display? Because PEOPLE STEAL THEM, that's why. Or they BREAK them, usually while TRYING TO STEAL THEM, but, if caught, they'll claim they just wanted to see how "well-installed at the factory" whatever the part was. Same reason all batteries are disconnected (and usually removed) and all fuel tanks are EMPTY on auto show cars. You think the people staging these shows haven't done it before? Here's EXACTLY what we're talking about --- While shooting photos of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid concept, and looking around to try and find another interesting angle, or some people looking at the car or asking the lone GM rep on the Volt's stand about the car, my gaze wandered just past the end of the Volt exhibit to where, apparently, some custom Corvettes (including one owned by Jay Leno) were on display. That's when I saw two guys climb into the cockpit of this gold 'Vette convertible (and to their ever-lasting credit, they used the doors, like the human beings they are) and then watched, with similar amounts of horror and humor, revulsion and irony, as some woman, who might be one of their friends or relatives, climbed on top of the car and seated her rather large, well-overweight self on top of the car's tonneau cover ... Now do you understand why many car collectors NEVER allow their vehicles to be 'displayed' in museums or auto shows? And that's why you should never do so, either, if you own some show-able cars or plan on owning some in the future.
OK, have to hand it to this GM rep. In the previous photo, we ran a pretty fuzzy close-up of a large lady situating herself on this custom Corvette convertible's tonneau cover ... and remember, this car is someone's pride and joy (it is privately owned). And she didn't get there by going in one of the car's doors and simply turning around and sitting down, which the car's owner probably would not have minded (well, maybe not). No, there were two guys in the car already, and they had used to doors to get in and then closed them. Then this woman literally climbed OVER the closed doors and the two men and then hauled herself up onto the tonneau and sat herself down ... And then the guy in the blue shirt, one of the GM people working at the auto show, had to go over to the car and NICELY ask her to, "Please climb down". I watched the whole drama and the GM guy handled it as well as possible ... She finally got down, probably when she got tired of pissing off the GM guy and wanted to move onto bigger prey at the show ... "Hey! There's the Cadillac display! Let's go there and climb on the cars!"
No, it's not a classic Lamborghini Miura or even a Honda CRX or Volvo wagon ... We know, that glass on the rear hatch threw you all off. In reality, it's the rear-deck of Chevrolet's plug-in hybrid concept called 'Volt', shown by GM for the first time in Los Angeles. Between the Volt, the hybrid Malibu, the Active Fuel Management multi-displacement system and the dual-mode hybrid automatic transmission in GM's full-size trucks at the show, that company won the "fuel wars" hands-down at the LA Auto Show. Now we could not have imagined making that statement even one year ago; but it appears that The General is serious about being a leader in alternative fuels, gas/electric hybrids, plug-in hybrids and hydrogen-based fuel cell EVs. For GM, this was an impressive show. It's often said that making changes at a company as large as GM is like "trying to turn around an aircraft carrier"; but once it finally does get turned around, watch out!
Now, granted, when we visited and photographed the Chevrolet Volt stand at the 2007 LA Auto Show, it was the day before Thanksgiving and about 7pm to boot (the show would close at 10 that night). However, we honestly did have to wait for more than 10 minutes before one lone couple approached the Volt display and had some questions for the nice young lady representing Chevrolet. We listened in to the conversations she had with these folks, and she did a wonderful job. In fact, we got all our show info on the Volt from her!
The only "car award" which might really mean anything to the average member of the public is the "Motor Trend Car of the Year Award". The two main reasons are easy: It's the one that's been around the longest, and, in a wonderfully-American tradition, it's the one which the winning car-maker promises to promote more than any other potential award which that car-maker might 'win', and Motor Trend promises to do their best 'advertorial' job in the magazine, too. So, good for Caddy ... whatever. This isn't the place for the big discussion about how these awards really work, and whether they are worth anything to the public, but we will do that soon. In the meantime, and with all that said, the 2008 CTS is available with the buyer's choice of rear- or all-wheel drive, the 2008 Cadillac CTS also has engine choices (first time in a long time for that option offered in a mass-produced Caddy, too). Both engines are 3.6 liter V6s; the 'base' engine produces 263 horsepower, the "direct injection" model kicks out 304 horses. Buyers also have their choice of a five-speed automatic or a six-speed stick shift (five speed auto? This is 2008, Caddy...Some of your competitors have EIGHT speed trannys which can help in the mpg department).
Base price for the CTS with the 263 horse engine is $32,245; for the higher-output version of the same engine, pumping out a respectable 304 horsepower, pricing begins at $34,545. That's $2,300 for 41 horses. Is the extra power worth that much cash? Each buyer will at least have that choice. Listen, if you really, really, really need, say, 400 horsepower, Caddy has you covered. Just check-off the "CTS-V" on the order sheet. It comes with a 6.0 liter V8 engine, and, yes, 400 horses and other bits and pieces to handle the extra power. In comparing pricing on this CTS4 (which has all-wheel drive; that's what the '4' means) to similarly-powerful and -equipped autos, from this country or not ... this Caddy might seem a bargain to many car-buyers. Even given all its immense problems, if and when General Motors finally gets all their various divisions (and executives) on the right road towards the future, this company could dominate automotive markets as it did in the last century. What we saw at this 2007 LA Auto Show made us, as corny as it might sound to some, 'proud' of what GM was putting out on the car show floor. GM's profits (however large or small) still stay in the US.
If a car looks good in photos taken at this angle, the rest of the auto usually looks pretty good, too. And this 2008 Cadillac CTS is pretty stunning in that view, as one can see. The classic Cadillac "egg crate" front grille is a bit overstated for a car this size (there isn't an A1 Bradley tank behind the grille; only this car), but Caddy stylists know doubt wanted people to be able to "hear" this car coming down the street from at least a block away. If that's what they had in mind when designing it, they've done their work well. And CTS weighs-in at under 3,900 pounds (now there's something ... a soon-to-be-popular Cadillac under 2 tons).
We used some 'code words' on this photo's title because there's no reason for us to promote "Motor Trend" or their "Car of the Year", because they sure as hell don't promote us. But that promotion in other media is one of the beauties which comes with winning the prize ... and don't think that is not explained, many times, to the car-makers participating in the "MT Car of the Year" competition. Oh, the CTS also has a 40-gigabyte hard drive helping to run all the various systems our cars need these days to, uh, start. GM has a nice winner here; we hope they capitalize on it properly.
When these folks wandered into the South Hall of the LA Convention Center, while we were shooting the Cadillac CTS4 for our TV show and this website, it looked like a good opportunity for some 'candid' photos. And it was, or at least we think so. The man in the front of the photo is looking directly at the all-new 2008 Cadillac CTS4 on its display stand. Cadillac still has the attention of the nation, and the world, so CTS4's 'Motor Trend Car of the Year' award comes at what might be 'just in the nick of time' for both Cadillac and GM. It is very possible that someday soon Cadillac sells as many cars in Asia and Europe as the division now does in the US (and someday, more in China than any other country). This new CTS could be the vehicle on which to re-build Cadillac's once-great tradition of being "The Standard of the World" (remember that great advertising slogan?).
Main lobby area of the Los Angeles Auto Show --- America's first official, factory-sanctioned auto show display of Smart cars can be seen in the photo's upper right. It's perhaps the single best location in the show; every show-goer must pass through this lobby at least twice during their visit. Smart's 'fortwo' model will go on-sale soon across the US, but only at dealerships which are part of the Penske Automotive Group (PAG), which is what we all used to call the United Auto Group until July, 2007, when Roger Penske decided to put his well-known and highly-respected name on the company. How big is PAG? In the US, the company has over 250 dealerships representing over 40 different brands, Smart being just the latest one. It is America's largest single automotive dealer group. More than once, Roger Penske has been asked to consider taking over the helm of General Motors, and he's always turned them down. And why not? With PAG, he has more dealerships than any manufacturer in the US (which is kind of a half-truth, because car-makers, generally, are not allowed to own dealerships in the US, owing to some very arcane and very complicated things known as 'franchise laws'). And Penske can carry and sell the car lines which he wants to present to the public, the way he wants to present them. And perhaps most importantly to Penske, who is very much a "hands-on" executive, he can hire the kind of people he thinks will do a good job (his son, Greg, runs the world's largest auto dealership, PAG's "Longo Toyota"). That dealership, in El Monte, California, not far from downtown Los Angeles, is the world's largest new car dealership, selling a new car, on average, every 8 minutes, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Between his Longo Toyota store and nearby Lexus dealership, Roger Penske sells more than $1.5 Billion worth of Toyota cars and trucks every year. And you know what? I recommend the Toyota place all the time (most folks I know buy Toyota, not Lexus vehicles), to friends, relatives, fans and complete strangers who might approach me and ask ... And have never heard a complaint from them afterwards.
As Paulie Walnuts said to Tony in that fateful final episode, as they sat outside the Italian deli, "I live but to serve you, my liege" ... And if you need to ask what that's all about, you need to start watching 'Soprano' re-runs (or buy the DVD sets). This is your intrepid reporter, about half-way through our second very full and lengthy day of covering the LA Auto Show, the 2007 version ... In fact, this day we would not leave the show until after 10pm. And the next day was Thanksgiving ... But to paraphrase what Paulie said, "We live but to serve you, our viewers, listeners and website visitors!" And by the way, we thought the last scene in the 'Sopranos' final episode was PERFECT. Those of you who saw it should visit Hillary Clinton's campaign website, because they created a video, with Hillary and Bill and some other folks you'll recognize (and some cool surprises), which was a near-perfect take-off on that 'Sopranos' final scene. Whichever way someone votes, they'll have to admit it's the best "officially-sanctioned" campaign video so far.
Callaway Cars, of Old Lyme, Connecticut, has for the past few years displayed their exotic and USA-made wares in the 'Exotics' hall at the LA Auto Show, alongside the likes of Spyker, Rolls-Royce, Saleen and a very pricey, very few others. This year, according to our sources, Lotus demanded (and paid a lot for) more room for their exhibit, so Callaway got dumped from their usual spot --- and into the lobby area of the LA Convention Center! Is that any way to treat an American car-maker? In any event, this Callaway supercharged 6.0-liter LS2 V8 produces an impressive 616 bhp at 6,200 rpm and develops 582 lb-ft of torque at 4,750 rpm. The C16 does 0 to 60 in 3.3-seconds, and a quarter mile in 10.9 seconds. Top speed of the manual transmission coupe is 206 mph. Equally impressive is its fuel efficiency rating of 18 city/28 highway, but somehow we think the mpg test was done going downhill with a big tailwind. It is emission compliant worldwide, says the company's press material. C16's interior remains close-to-stock Corvette. And putting together these parts and pricing it all at just a tick under $120,000 is no mean feat.
This might have been the best-looking car at the 2007 LA Auto Show, better than all those foreign exotics like Ferrari and Maserati and Lotus, etc. This is the rear view of the beautiful and all-new C16 Cabrio Speedster model from Callaway Cars of Old Lyme, Connecticut, one of America's finest tuning houses of traditional American V8 engines, using sometimes un-traditional methods to get all that extra horsepower. And they don't do bad custom body-work, either, as this Speedster attests. There was a time when "speedsters" or "roadsters" were two-seat full-time convertibles. That's right, the top was kept 'down' all the time because ... There was no top to put 'up'. And if someone got a little cold or a little wet or a little stunned because of the engine's constant growl ... Well, that person is definitely in the wrong car (and probably, we'd wager, with the wrong significant other, too). We call this car the 21st-century's official "Wind in Your Hair" automobile. This C16 Speedster utilizes the same "Callaway-tweaked" massive, supercharged 6.0 liter V8 engine from General Motors which produces 616-horsepower (hence, the 'C16' moniker) and is also found in their C16 hardtop coupe.
Well, we found another one. And you know what we're talking about ... We found another car which makes Car Nuts smile immediately upon seeing it; this C16 is nothing short of a screaming throwback to a time when men were men and women were actually ok with that ... Callaway Car's C16 Cabrio is hand-built from the ground up. First, though, a C16's buyer shops for, buys and delivers a new C6 Corvette to the Callaway’s factory, where it is then disassembled, nut by nut and bolt by bolt. It's all put back together afterwards, with engine and suspension tweaks that only a real car lover, who is also an experienced and skilled driver, could truly appreciate. The resulting car is tighter, faster and better-handling then the factory-built C6. The workers at Chevrolet's Bowling Green, Kentucky, Corvette-only factory could certainly build a car of this quality; no doubt about that. Corvette is probably the single best-performing, best-built, best-known and arguably best-loved vehicle in the US. And still, because it is "mass-produced", there are compromises which have to be made. The truth is that, just like economy cars are marketed, even Corvette is aimed at the lowest-common denominator of the Corvette demographic, to bring as many potential buyers as possible into a Chevy showroom, and send them out driving their new 'Vette. In truth, there are only about 28,000 Corvettes built every year and even fewer sold, a shockingly small number of anything made by a giant like GM. Callaway Cars takes a very good car in the stock Corvette and turns it into one of the world's best. They couldn't build those Callaway versions, though, if the 'bones' were not already there, and they certainly are, built by Chevy's employees at Bowling Green. At that Kentucky factory complex, there's a Corvette Museum, a gift shop, restaurant, plus records or copies of almost every Corvette's build sheet, sales and service history and more. Perhaps, even your car’s original window sticker, no matter the year. Visiting the factory, buyers can watch 'their' car being assembled and, later that same day, take delivery of it directly from the factory. We'd imagine the folks at Callaway would not mind much at all if a customer wanted to visit their plant and see their own car being made, either. In fact, they might insist on it. And we'd bet some of those buyers might want to take their new Callaway C16 on a few laps around the nearby Lime Rock, CT, race track.
This Dakar Rally race truck was displayed in Yokohama Tire's exhibit space, located in one of the main lobbies of the LA Convention Center. Small space, great location (just like we told you about Callaway Car's display this year). So when we happened upon this serious looking race truck, tucked into a way-too-small exhibition space to really do it justice, we decided to stop for a moment and take a closer look. It was worth our time; not every night in Los Angeles does one come across a vehicle which had been competitive in the world-famous Dakar Rally and other rallying events in different parts of the globe. As you can also see, the name "Geolandar" is part of the display; that name also tied into the Yokohama Tire connection. As that company's website told us, 'Geolandar' is an entire line of aggressive off-road tires from the gigantic Yokohama corporation. As their website said, "The Geolandar M/T is a Off-Road Maximum Traction light truck tire designed for pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles that require extreme off-road capabilities". In spite of saying the tire is "a Off-Road" instead of using the correct word, "an", we imagine Yokohama got a lot of public attention from its use on this vehicle. Japanese race fans love rallying, the more exotic and empty the spaces covered, the better.
This rally race vehicle was sponsored by Yokohama Tires and their 'Geolandar' line-up of off-road tires, and 'Osaka Toyopet'; Toyopet is one of Toyota's oldest and largest 'sales channels' in Japan, and apparently the Toyopet dealers in the Osaka, Japan area either supplied the vehicle itself or did so and also added extra monies or parts to the vehicle and its team. Trivia Time: The first Toyota cars sold in America, way back in 1957 in North Hollywood, CA, were sold under the 'Toyopet' name. And yes, there will be a quiz.
Less than two weeks after the closing of the LA Auto Show, where Tesla, the big-bucks Silicon Valley EV company, found its prototype "Roadster" shoe-horned into one of the worst display positions in the entire LA Convention Center, as part of the Yokohama Tire exhibit, company co-founder Martin Eberhard had been, essentially, fired. Why? Possibly this memo sent by Eberhard this past August, to the company's high-profile, would-be Tesla owners, each of whom had ponied up $100,000 "deposits" (also known as "100% deposits", because that's also the price of the car) and which said in part, "Naturally, the question on many Tesla customers' minds is 'When will I get my car?'" wrote Eberhard. "The short answer is: We are still planning to start production of the Roadster by the end of next month (remember, this was written in August, 2007) ... We have a good chance of meeting this goal, but to be fully transparent, I want you to know that while it is within our reach, it is not yet fully within our grasp." Well, thanks Martin, and don't let the lithium-ion battery blow up and catch fire on your ass on your way out the door ...
Tesla has some big brains and even bigger money behind the car and the company. It's a shame Tesla didn't hire an actual CAR PERSON to be, at least, a consultant to the company. They would have been told that making one hand-built EV sports car which is sexy-looking and which the company says will sell for $100,000 is a lot easier than actually going into production and delivering cars to customers. That kind of chutzpah has been the end of many car company executive "wanna-bees"; Tesla is a good idea, and we hope they do succeed without making EV's appear to be just another 'green' disaster to the public. This one has more 'riding' on it, though, because it is from California's Silicon Valley and carries the implied endorsement of the state's Governor and the US Secretary of State. We say the company has a responsibility to deliver on their promises, or go back to building computers.
Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of PayPal, is one of Tesla's founders and reportedly has invested $27 million of his own money into the car company. He hopes to bring Tesla prices down to $49,000 within a few years (assuming Tesla cars actually go into production at some future point), about 1/2 of what the price is now. Many of the company's other officers have strong Silicon Valley backgrounds and the connections which come with that, and apparently have the money to keep Tesla afloat for some time.
While Tesla's cars might be among the answers to the world's energy problems, and the car which they use for public demonstrations definitely goes fast enough (0 - 60 in 4 seconds says the company), there are more than a few people who have major questions about the company and its intent. There are some in the 'green' movement who say that Tesla executives, many of them very wealthy Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who have generally supported Republican candidates, might be building not a car, but a "red herring". Those same people think that if Tesla becomes "just one more EV failure", the nation will continue on its deathly oil addiction and make many friends of the Bush family and administration, such as the Saudis. In fact, Diarmuid O'Connell, Tesla's director of strategic affairs, worked in the State Department for the Bush administration until 2006, helping support military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Certainly something to keep in mind ...