thecarnut.typepad.com > 2007 LOS ANGELES AUTO SHOW #1

LA AUTO SHOW PRESS ROOM

LA AUTO SHOW PRESS ROOM

Be sure to 'click' on the thumbnail photos to see them in their full-size, and with their complete captions!

Members of the media, some of them actually working (a rare sight when there's free food around, which there was) enjoyed lots of space, lots of phone lines and lots of computers for their (our) use. In a purely non-scientific poll, it appeared to us that there were quite a few less media members at this year's show as last year's, which had been the first time in many, many years that the show was held in November so as to not conflict with January's traditional Detroit Show, which comes complete with Detroit's wonderful January weather ... Perhaps some media folks thought that this year's LA Auto Show was a little light on the "Oh, my gosh's!" And if they had been to Tokyo and SEMA, as we had, there was more than a little truth to that opinion.


Media Room at the LA Auto Show

Media Room at the LA Auto Show

A wider angle of the LA Auto Show Media Room (actually a couple of ballrooms with separating walls removed). Media Room sponsor was Yokohama Tires, and all media members appreciated their soft drinks, cold water, tiny little cold cut sandwiches, passable potato salad and very good, chewy cookies. No complaints from this corner.


Sabic Plastics Showcase Concept Car

Sabic Plastics Showcase Concept Car

Under the body on this concept car is a diesel-powered Hyundai Tucson SUV, believe it or not. The vehicle is an exercise in current and future plastics, built by a company named Sabic, which used to be known as General Electric Plastics before Sabic's purchase of that outfit. Sabic reps said there are more than 32 different plastics technologies showcased on the vehicle. Sabic had another very interesting vehicle, or made major parts of it, displayed at the LA Show: It was a parts contributor to Chevrolet's plug-in hybrid concept car, Volt, which was introduced to the general public at the LA Auto Show.


Sabic Plastic Car Concept Interior

Sabic Plastic Car Concept Interior

An impressive interior with imaginative use of low-key lighting greets the driver and passenger in this concept car showcasing over 32 different plastics technologies; some are in use already, but most of them are aimed at future products.


Sabic's Plastic Wonder-Car

Sabic's Plastic Wonder-Car

Somewhat hard to believe that a diesel-engined Hyundai Tucson is under all those smooth lines, but the vehicle's high ride-height tells us that this car/truck crossover is all-wheel drive. Inside, the smooth-edge design cues from the exterior continue, with the interior outfitted with what we used to call "mood lighting". The soft blue interior glow would surely make this car/truck a great vehicle for teenage dating; at least it would have when I went to high school!


Sabic Plastic Car Concept Rear Deck

Sabic Plastic Car Concept Rear Deck

This Sabic showcase of more than 32 plastic technologies in this one vehicle (which started life as a diesel-powered Hyundai Tucson) is typical of companies which bring a vehicle to a show to let other car executives see it, and perhaps to strike up a conversation with a VP of engineering or a chief of marketing for this or that car company, and possibly to have some meetings which might result in Sabic getting some big orders for their plastic parts. This is purely a "business-to-business" show case, similar to an exhibit at the SEMA Show. After press days, the car mysteriously disappeared.


Nissan GT-R Hits Los Angeles!

Nissan GT-R Hits Los Angeles!

There wasn't a moment that this GT-R, the first GT-R ever (legally) imported by the distributor into the US, was not jam-packed with photographers, video and film shooters, reporters doing their 'stand-ups' in front of and even inside the car ... As it was at the Tokyo Motor Show about three weeks previously, GT-R was one of the smash-hits of the LA Show, certainly among the most-anticipated. Nissan announced pricing for the GT-R, and it will be around $67,000 "nicely equipped". Whether or not anyone will go into a Nissan store planning to spend that much money remains to be seen ...


Nissan's GT-R

Nissan's GT-R

More than a few among the media at the LA Show's two Press Days commented that the GT-R carried styling cues which looked a bit like "Japan Sports Car, Circa Mid-1970s", which was the feeling we had when we were at the car's unveiling in Tokyo just a few weeks before the LA Show. In a sense, this is the 21st century version of the original Datsun Z-car, and while that is not necessarily a bad thing, GT-R has enough of what designers call "surface excitement" for three or more cars.


"Nissan GT-R" is its Name; No "Skyline" moniker for USA

"Nissan GT-R" is its Name; No "Skyline" moniker for USA

The name of this 2009 near-supercar from Japan is "GT-R", nothing more, nothing less. But Nissan or Infiniti? While selling this car at Infiniti stores might make more sense, considering its base price of almost $70,000, executives at Nissan, both in Japan and the US (where they are now located in Nashville, TN, of all places), fought for the car to retain its "Nissan" moniker because of the car's heritage; it had carried the "Skyline" name both as a Datsun and Nissan since the 1960s. But, in reality, how many potential GT-R buyers, who can easily appreciate the GT-R as a modern high-performance car, would know that much about the car's history? The tradition of the GT-R name might carry a lot of weight in its home market of Japan, but here in the US? One wonders ... In any event, potential GT-R buyers who feel they are not necessarily in need of all that power, all-wheel drive and countless other performance fetaures, can still buy the "G37" at Infiniti stores, a much more luxurious, rear-drive and much more tame version of a car very similar to GT-R.


Nissan GT-R rear view

Nissan GT-R rear view

"Baby got back!" There sure is a lot going on and happening on the rear deck of this car. It reminds us a bit of the original Toyota Supra from mid-1986, when Supra became its own model and was not related to the Celica anymore, as it had been from its launch in 1979 as the "Celica Supra", when it was just another model in the Celica line-up. GT-R will certainly be the most expensive piece of hardware ever sold at Nissan stores, and now the battles between Nissan dealers will begin: How many GT-Rs will be made, and how many of them will be imported in the US? Nissan will purposely keep dealer prices high and production relatively low, not only to add to the car's built-in cachet and to keep it relatively rare on US highways, but also to try and make sure that the car's residual value stays high in the used-car market. LATE NEWS: Nissan announces 1,500 GT-Rs will be imported to the US each model year beginning late this calendar year, 2007.


Hyundai Genesis Coupe

Hyundai Genesis Coupe

Our first thought upon seeing this car in person was, "That's a Hyundai!?!?" This concept car, designed in Irvine, CA, comes with a big 3.6 liter V6 engine, the biggest one which Hyundai currently makes. But the big news is that this car will go into production in another year or so, and be available at Hyundai dealers in the USA in mid-2009.


Genesis Coupe from Hyundai

Genesis Coupe from Hyundai

Hyundai says this car, when it goes into production in 2009, will have an engine producing over 300 horsepower and a six-speed stick shift tranny. And perhaps most importantly, Genesis (and we don't think it will keep that name by the way ... too biblical!) is a front engine/rear wheel drive car.


Genesis Coupe Concept

Genesis Coupe Concept

There will be sedan and coupe versions built on this front-engine/rear drive platform from Hyundai, and the sedan will appear first, sometime late in 2008. And that four-door will have a brand-new 4.6 liter V8 in its engine bay; Hyundai says it's possible that the coupe might also get that V8 (if there's room --- in the car and on the engine's assembly line).


Hyundai "Veloster" Concept

Hyundai "Veloster" Concept

The Veloster (really weird name contest entrant, for sure) from Hyundai is going to see the light of day in production form very soon. Which Hyundai are we looking at? The next-generation of their popular and sporty Tiburon.


Hyundai Veloster Concept

Hyundai Veloster Concept

It is just me, or does the car look a bit too much like the Pontiac Aztek? In any event, we're pretty certain the production version of the car, when it replaces Hyundai's Tiburon, will be "toned-down" a little in its exterior styling.


Hyundai Veloster Rear View

Hyundai Veloster Rear View

While this concept car is set to replace Hyundai's Tiburon in the company's line-up, don't expect to see anything resembling this photo on the production car. However, as a Hyundai official told us at the LA Auto Show, the company "will always have a 4-cylinder, front-wheel drive sporty car" in their line-up, with prices starting at well under $20,000 --- And this car will fit that bill when it goes on-sale in the US in mid-2008.


Hyundai's Tiburon Replacement, Veloster Concept

Hyundai's Tiburon Replacement, Veloster Concept

Hyundai "Wowed 'em" at the LA Auto Show with this concept car, a front-wheel drive sporty car with a four-cylinder engine, aimed to replace the company's Tiburon in 2008. This front-end shot shows just an "impression" of what the production car's will look like, but it's not an exact representation by any means. We think the production car will have about 50% fewer parts on it ...


Chevrolet Malibu "Mild Hybrid" Attacks Camry, Accord, Fusion

Chevrolet Malibu "Mild Hybrid" Attacks Camry, Accord, Fusion

This car is the designated 'point' in GM's attack on the nation's best-selling cars. Camry and Accord both sell over 400,000 units a year, Ford's Fusion has yet to catch-up to those import model sales numbers. If Malibu can do well, and GM proves they can sell more than 300,000 units of something other than a pickup truck, the face of the car business in the US could change drastically. Malibu mild hybrid uses the same belt-alternator-starter system as the earlier Saturn Aura and Vue Hybrids. Malibu mild hybrid gets only about 2 extra miles per gallon over the gas-only version, but it is priced under $23,000 (and it's on-sale now or very soon...ask a dealer). EPA testing says Malibu hybrid should get 24 mpg in the city and 32 on the highway. Having a hybrid model or a vehicle using some sort of "alternative" fuel is now the "price of admission" to the car-selling marketplace as far as many car-buyers are concerned. The mild hybrid Malibu offers a 36-volt electric motor coupled with a gasoline-fed 2.4 liter Ecotec VVT four-cylinder engine and a four- speed automatic transmission ... A four-speed automatic? We know Malibu is inexpensive, but hey, Chevy, this is 2007 ... Some new cars have EIGHT-speed trannys!


Chevy's "Mild  Hybrid" Malibu

Chevy's "Mild Hybrid" Malibu

Chevrolet, which has been designated the "green" division of GM, has a tremendous amount of prestige riding on this all-new Malibu; and it's the first major Chevrolet product to be available with a hybrid powerplant, albeit a "mild hybrid', as opposed to the "full hybrids" such as Toyota developed and uses. Malibu's gas engine shuts off when the vehicle stops at red lights or for any period of time, then is re-started almost instantly by a single electric motor when the driver's foot comes off the brake and hits the gas pedal. The system is basically an automatic start/stop setup with a nickel metal hydride battery to capture some energy from regenerative braking and provide some power boost when needed for acceleration.


Green Car of the Year(?)

Green Car of the Year(?)

Chevrolet's gigantic Tahoe SUV, with a 6 liter V8 engine, managed to snag an award which defied credulity to some observers. Yes, this Tahoe with that massive engine, was named the "Green Car of the Year" by Ron Cogan's "Green Car Magazine", an industry publication. Last year, the prize went to Toyota's hybrid Camry (which was, let's say, not a big surprise). GM has experience with this new-for-consumer-vehicles technology; they developed and have been building a heavy-duty two-mode transmission for urban transit buses which began production in 2003. GM says they have provided 388 hybrid propulsion systems, designed and built in Indianapolis, Indiana, for transit systems in 29 cities in North America and Yosemite National Park. GM also says they began 2006 with orders for an additional 216 dual-mode hybrid transmissions for bus systems. The new “consumer” version of the transmission uses two 60-kilowatt electric motors packaged inside the tranny itself, rather than depending on one large motor to “assist” the engine. GM, BMW and (what was then) DaimlerChrysler took the existing bus/truck transmission and re-worked it, mostly in Europe, for the past three years. The latest version of it can fit in the full-size pickup and SUV GM line-up and can improve fuel mileage, GM says, by up to 50% under certain circumstances. The V8 engine in this system, using what they call “Active Fuel Management”, can run on either four or eight cylinders, depending on the driver's demands for horsepower and torque. The trucks can run on electric-only, V8-only, or a combination of the two.


GM Wins "Green Car of the Year" Using New "Dual Mode Hybrid Transmission" on Tahoe, Other Trucks

GM Wins "Green Car of the Year" Using New "Dual Mode Hybrid Transmission" on Tahoe, Other Trucks

A "dual mode hybrid transmission" developed in Europe by engineers from GM, Daimler, Chrysler and BMW, is what allows these large GM trucks to improve their mileage numbers by as much as 50% in some circumstances. This light truck dual-mode hybrid transmission was based on GM-developed technology for dual-mode transmissions which have been used for years in inter-city busses. The transmission can be fit into many large trucks and cars, so it might be seen in some of the biggest sedans from those four companies in the next few years (think Cadillac, 7-Series, S-Class and maybe a new Imperial). The new two-mode hybrid transmission will go into production next year and will initially be used in GM's all-new full-size SUVs, the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon, along with Active Fuel Management which chooses between 8 or 4 cylinders and regenerative braking to help recharge the 300-volt battery pack. The vehicles will be assembled at GM's Arlington, Texas plant. GM also says they will invest up to $118 million to upgrade their "GM Powertrain Baltimore Transmission" facility for building a new, rear-wheel drive two-mode hybrid vehicle transmission for future vehicles, cars and light trucks. The investment will also create up to 87 new jobs at that plant.


General Motors' "Equinox" Fuel Cell Crossover

General Motors' "Equinox" Fuel Cell Crossover

GM has been showing the "Equinox" at auto shows all over the world for the past few years. In this most-current incarnation, its smallest yet, it appears the engineers have managed to get all the pressurized hydrogen tanks and the fuel cell stacks inside the vehicle while still allowing for plenty of usable interior space. The 'Big News' from GM at the auto show, as far as Equinox is concerned, is that up to 100 of the hydrogen-based fuel cell vehicles will be put into the 'real world', given to some 60 people in Southern California, to be used as their daily drivers, and several to the Disney Corporation (headquartered in Burbank, California), which will use them as staff shuttles around their vast studio lot. Remember when the newest GM cars would be exhibited at the entrances to Disneyland and Disney World? A person felt they were in the presence of two great American companies. Perhaps that tradition will begin anew ... GM was the "star of the show" as far as alt fuels and various hybrid transmissions, gas engines and electric motors were concerned.


New Chevrolet HHR Models

New Chevrolet HHR Models

Chevy's HHR has done well in the marketplace, even though it is so clearly an attempt to emulate (that's a nicer word than "copy") Chrysler's PT Cruiser. Shown at the LA Auto Show were a "panel truck" version of the HHR, and a 260-horsepower front-wheel drive turbocharged version called the HHR SS (standing for Super Sport, and that's the red one in the photo, of course) utilizing a 2 liter Ecotec turbo'd and intercooled four-cylinder powerplant.


HHR Panel Truck

HHR Panel Truck

This is one very cool piece, and the one we'd hoped GM would make as soon as we saw the original HHR. We hear, though, that the rear of the interior is a bit tough to deal with, and it's almost-impossible to create a totally flat floor, something which you'd expect would be pretty simple (and important) in a vehicle tyring its best to look like a "delivery truck", even though we know that's not really the point of the HHR. What is the point, then? To recreate a vehicle which speaks to the "automotive memories" of baby-boomers.


HHR SS

HHR SS

Take Chevy's cool little HHR, add an intercooled turbocharger to the tidy 2 Liter four-banger Ecotec (one of the most advanced engines made by any car company) and the answer is: TWO HUNDRED AND SIXTY front-tire smoking horses ... Which sort of defeats the original purpose of the engine, that is, to be a peppy little powerplant that's also a fuel miser, having been developed with GM of Europe input and all ... With enough "handsome side, front and rear color-matched plastic cladding" to sink a fleet of Japanese ships bringing Subarus to the US, HHR SS will no doubt be a best-seller. One hopes their numbers remain low and their prices remain high, and that HHR SS becomes something of a collectible ... Which probably will not happen. But it would be nice to see GM get a bunch of power and save a lot of gas at the same time from some of their vehicles. I mean, we know they can do it!


2009 Camaro Convertible Prototype

2009 Camaro Convertible Prototype

Looking every bit as close to production as a car can without actually being in the showroom, Chevy showed their 2009 Camaro prototype droptop at the 2008 LA Auto Show, and naturally it was swamped by journalists during the two Press Days at the show (even though the real motoring journos among the crowd had seen the car two weeks before, at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas). No official word as yet on powertrain (though we're betting that the 400hp Corvette V8 drivetrain with the six-speed shifter will be called to duty once again), pricing (I saw one idiot reporter on a live TV show on KTLA/TV5 in Los Angeles on the first Press Day morning say, "I just talked to my friends at Chevrolet, and they said it will be above $20,000!"), on-sale date or how the convertible mechanism will work ... But, as John Travolta said in one of those lousy movies of his, "Ain't it cool?"


Camaro Droptop Prototype

Camaro Droptop Prototype

Chevy's various Camaro concepts and prototypes have been shown publicly for the past two years, and one wonders if that's the wisest move for Chevy's marketing people. Remember when the local dealers in town would put butcher paper all over their huge windows, preparing their stores for "the new models", then hold parties for invited guests before "everyone else" got to see the cars? Well, what's wrong with a little mystery on GM's part when it comes to an important car like the Camaro? Is GM simply "testing" everyone who sees the car in the flesh and then making changes to the car based on those folks' opinions? We hope not. The worst thing would be for the official introduction of the 2009 Camaro to be a boring, been-there-done-that bust. And make no mistake ... that is possible.


Camaro Prototype Rear 3/4 View

Camaro Prototype Rear 3/4 View

Is GM taking this whole "retro" thing too far? Ford certainly has ... The company from Dearborn which brought us that modern re-make of their classic Thunderbirds of the 1950s is having this problem ... To be specific, the best-looking car in Ford's LA Auto Show display was a Mustang modeled after the 1977 car which Steve McQueen drove in "Bullitt". There's something fundamentally wrong with a car comnpany seeming to 'fall back' on retro when all else fails, or when you don't trust your own company's designers instincts. While retro can definitely be cool, when it becomes an overused 'gimmick' and loses its authenticity, then the car loses, too. And people can definitely sniff out a phony, even when it comes on four wheels with 400 horses up front.


Camaro Prototype Rear Shot

Camaro Prototype Rear Shot

Looks familiar, doesn't it? GM's 2009 Camaro convertible prototype was one of the show hits at the 2008 LA Auto Show. This could be a car which gets people under 35, especially those in So Cal, that group which has been buying "imports-only" for going on three generations, to actually consider walking into a Chevrolet store, of all the weird places for them to be, and seriously considering an American-built car with the authentic history that comes with it.


Chevrolet Camaro Replicar

Chevrolet Camaro Replicar

In another 30 years, will car-buyers be considering cars which "look just like", say, a 2004 Honda Accord, but with the up-to-date technology of the day added for a great driving experience? Will a Town and Country Chrysler minivan from 1986 be on auction blocks in and around Monterey, CA, during the week of the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance? Most important, did the original designers of the Camaro foresee a time when an automobile, one 30 years in their future, would be produced by GM, trying to emulate the "styling" which they created with the first Camaros? These are tough questions for automotive analysts and designers and especially the leaders of the large, multi-billion-dollar corporations that plan and actually make cars. Looking at the (Chevy) HHR, (Chrysler) PT Cruiser, Ford's retro-T-Bird and now this 2009 Camaro, we hope that people wiser than we take these questions to heart (and mind) and develop the methods necessary to make the vehicles needed not just 30 years from now, but 50 and 100 years from now, to enable the public to own and drive the vehicles which they really want.


GM "Dual Mode Hybrid" Transmission

GM "Dual Mode Hybrid" Transmission

There are two electric motors inside the automatic transmission which react to driver input and the perceived needs of the gasoline engine (adds more torque for hauling or going up a hill, less for downhill or cruising on city streets, etc). Combined with a 6 Liter V8 with the "Active Fuel Managament" system that can run the engine on all 8 cylinders or shut down 4 of them to also save fuel, GM says they have cut the fuel consumption of their Tahoe, Silverado and other big trucks and SUVs by up to 50% under certain circumstances. For this, GM was awarded the "Green Car of the Year" prize from industry publication Green Car Magazine. The transmission was developed by GM, Mercedes, Chrysler and BMW over the past three years in Europe. It seems to be a big step forward, but the basis of the system is still the internal combustion engine; there's no new battery technology, no new alternative fuels being developed and used, and those are just two starting points where car companies might plan to spend a lot of time and money in the near future.


Straight from Inchon, South Korea!

Straight from Inchon, South Korea!

GM has recently announced the building of or actually opened multi-zillion dollar Research and Development centers and test tracks in China and South Korea ... Whatever is wrong with opening these kind of sites in the US escapes us, but you know what they say ... "What's good for GM is good for America!" Anyway, GM had three concept cars from their Inchon facility at the LA Auto Show and one of them, called the "Beat", is slated for production and sale in South Korea and other Asian markets. It's not a bad-looking little "city car" which might be fun to drive (with a 1.2 liter turbocharged engine driving the front wheels only) but ... Where's the hot new battery tech? Where's the alternative fuels capability? Any car company can build a cool and hip small car running on gasoline which gets great mileage. It's only when they are encouraged (through tax breaks, outright government grants, whatever it takes) to build vehicles which don't run on fossil-based fuels that car executives start hemming and hawing.


Inchon Small Car!

Inchon Small Car!

This little car from GM called "Beat" comes to US auto shows from South Korea (where GM is building a big R&D facility in Inchon, the very same city where General Douglas MacArthur launched one of the greatest military attacks of all time against the North Korean and Chinese armies during the Korean War ... Didn't you see that movie?). The one hitch is that at this time, Beat is not scheduled for being on-sale in the US anytime soon. In many nations around the world, especially in the Europe Community and Japan, many families have two cars; one is used for daily in-and-around-town commuting and business and is usually a basic city-type car, the second vehicle, on the other hand, might be a large "saloon" (what they call big sedans in the UK) or a sports car just for mom and/or dad to take cruising or even a classic collectible driven to auto shows on the weekends. It would do Americans good to develop these same sensibilities. How can we best live with less oil and the products that come from it? Simple. Just look to the countries which have been doing it forever --- Again, that would be most of Europe and definitely Japan (where gas is $4 a liter, as we saw in Tokyo just three weeks ago).


Chevrolet Beat City Car Goes Into Production --- But Not-For-Sale in the USA

Chevrolet Beat City Car Goes Into Production --- But Not-For-Sale in the USA

The South Korean car-making company formerly known as Daewoo, until it was purchased by General Motorsa couple of years back, produced three of the concept cars in the Chevy exhibit at this season's LA Auto Show, the first big auto show every year in the US. Two of the three were obviously almost dream-like concepts, and looked as if they were built using Lego blocks and tar paper. However, the green car of the three (and we're probably supposed to 'get' something subliminal from the colors used; the other two concepts were both done in dark colors and appeared very cluttered in appearance) is the one planned for production and going 'on-sale' soon in Asia and other markets. But not in the US.


Chevrolet Aveo and Aveo5

Chevrolet Aveo and Aveo5

Another little city-car from Chevrolet and Gewneral Motors, and also planned and built by Daewoo in South Korea (GM's unofficial, new "small car division") and going on-sale in the US in the next few months, is the Aveo. Available in two "flavors", the Aveo sedan is just that ... A traditional four-door sedan. The Aveo5, on the other hand, is a five-door hatchback (shown in picture). While both models can be gussied-up so they look like something quite fierce, the truth is that both models get their power, or what there is of it, from a 1.6L 16-valve E-TEC II DOHC inline-4 engine, which can be coaxed, on a good day, to produce a throbbing 103 horsepower. If trailering and towing are among your basic driving needs, that workhorse of an engine also makes, according to the manufacturer's own website, a full 107 foot pounds of torque.


Aveo and Aveo5

Aveo and Aveo5

Aveo made its debut just a few years ago in Chevrolet dealerships, but these new models are a fairly good reworking of those original cars. The Aveo seemed to almost disappear for a time, but now it's back, and with no vengeance whatsoever. We make fun of it because the car is such an obvious Asian-made machine, something we might expect from Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru) after the engineering guys had a bad day at the factory. But you can not argue with the car's mileage figures (between 26mpg and 37mpg, on average, highway and city driving combined) or its price (the sedan starts at $12,730 and the Aveo5 can be had for $10,595).


Chevrolet Aveo/Aveo5

Chevrolet Aveo/Aveo5

Both 2008 Aveo models can be had with either a five-speed stick or a four-speed automatic and have front disc brakes and rear drums (which is what a buyer might expect in a 1986 Asian import car). A tire pressure monitor is standard (as they are on all new cars and trucks entering the marketplace after the 2006 model year) and Aveos all come with a five-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty; most other products sold at Chevy dealerships carry a three-year/36,000 mile warranty.


Jay Leno Corvette

Jay Leno Corvette

This auto show being in Los Angeles, it's only natural that there has to be some star-power at the show other than the cars. Here's Jay Leno's take on the C6 Corvette, which is apparently aided greatly in locomotion by an 8.2 Liter (yep, and I think it read it right off the information board next to the car) V8 engine and a large amount (what some might even call a "plethora") of appearance parts, so many that the car itself was like a mini-SEMA Show.


Jay Leno Corvette "Green" Engine

Jay Leno Corvette "Green" Engine

At the SEMA SHOW in Las Vegas just two weeks before the LA Auto Show, where we first saw this car, Jay Leno said, "The C6RS is the result of an idea we hatched to prove that high-performance cars and alternative fuel technology weren't diametrically opposed concepts," said Leno, who increasingly sounds like the voice of reason when it comes to automotive trends. "I love the idea of having 600 horsepower at my disposal, but using a homegrown alternative to gasoline." That "homegrown alternative" is the 85% ethanol Leno runs through this modified 'Vette powerplant.

Leno partnered with engineering company Pratt & Miller, which builds and campaigns C6.R Corvettes, to develop his green SEMA machine.


"Green" Corvette ala Jay Leno

"Green" Corvette ala Jay Leno

Leno's C6RS Corvette's fuel system and engine control computer were modified to use E85, with the spent gases exiting through a Corsa exhaust system. The custom 8.2-liter all-aluminum small-block V8 is linked to a strengthened T-56 six-speed transmission and a high-performance Centerforce dual-friction clutch. Is this "green enough" for anyone? Not for us, but it's yet another minor 'step' in the right direction ... With Leno's influence over the TV viewers of this country, his doing anything which promotes "green living and thinking" is positive. We'd just like to see Jay drive his Segway to work at NBC/Burbank one day, instead of one of his "collectible" toys! Now, THAT would make a statement!


Aveo5

Aveo5

The Aveo5 looks the part, but can it play in any of the big leagues? Definitely not. Chevrolet's latest from South Korea's Daewoo (now wholly-owned by GM) has a few dealer-installed options available, but not one of them has anything to do with improving the little car's performance. But if you're buying this car for the kid in your family, that might actually be a good thing ... Think about it!


BMW's 1-Series Makes LA Debut

BMW's 1-Series Makes LA Debut

We saw it in Tokyo, anbd now it is in Los Angeles. This "entry-level" BMW will produce 300 horsepower from its turbocharged 3 Liter inline-6 cylinder engine. That's a far cry from BMW's most recent attempt at selling an entry-level car in the US, their ill-fated (at least in the US market) 318i.


BMW 1-Series

BMW 1-Series

One of the worst-kept secrets in the automotive world was the development, testing and production of this "entry-level" BMW, the 1-Series. It may be a bit shorter than other Bimmers, but it lacks nothing in the horsepower department, coaxing 300 of them from the turbo'd inline-6 engine, a 3.0 Liter model.


BMW's 135i Sees Light in the US at LA Auto Show

BMW's 135i Sees Light in the US at LA Auto Show

What wealthy mom and dad could resist driving their 7-series down to their local BMW store and getting junior (or Babs) their first car. Of they might want to get one, put it in the trunk of their land yacht, and use it as a spare tire.


BMW Display

BMW Display

Out of the way, in a location far from their new car display at the BMW stand at the LA Auto Show, was this little beauty from a earlier BMW. This 328 was one of the first Bimmers, one of the early cars which quickly gained the company a reputation for quality concerning their automobile engines, in addition to their famed aircraft engines. The company made motorcycles (and their engines) before they made cars.


BMW 328 Rear View

BMW 328 Rear View

Take in the glorious lines on this 328 BMW from a much earlier age. Note the removable covers on the rear wheels to facilitate tire changing, one of the most frequent acts of a driver in those pre-vulcanization days (no, it has nothing to do with 'Star Trek' either ... Look it up).


Instrument Panel of Classic BMW 328

Instrument Panel of Classic BMW 328

That's a removable glass windscreen, and note the huge wooden steering wheel. That's one of the main reasons drivers in those days of wooden wheels didn't survive crashes very well. Gauges are black numbers and dials on a white background (today's BMWs use red light illumination on the car's gauges at needed).


BMW Motorcycle

BMW Motorcycle

Also in the BMW exhibit at the LA Auto Show, we found this wonderful BMW motorcycle. The bike appears to be powered by a two-cylinder, horizontally-opposed engine (also called a "boxer"), a configuration which BMW would see copied (stolen?) many times in the ensuing years, by various car-makers, from Porsche to Subaru.


BMW Airplane Engine

BMW Airplane Engine

Ever wonder where BMW got their corporate logo? Notice how this photo of a 9-cylinder (!) radial aircraft engine built by BMW resembles the company's logo, though in an impressionistic way. I'm no art critic, but I know it when I see it, as the Supreme Court of the US once famously decreed about pornography, I think it was. Anyway, just imagine the hand-craftsmanship which went into this very powerful engine.


BMW M6

BMW M6

It's got a V10 engine, 40 valves, costs $103,000, and produces 500 reliable horsepower ... Wanna go for a ride in my M6?


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