GM Diesel News, Jeep Pickup Rumors and More!
Andy McMillin is tearing things up in SCORE desert racing. He won last year's Baja 1000, emerged victorious at the Laughlin Desert Challenge, and has added an overall win at the Baja 500 to his list of accomplishments. Andy and his father, Scott, drove the McMillin Realty F-150 Trophy Truck through the race's 439 miles in 9 hours 15 minutes, for an average speed of 47.2 mph. "It was a smooth day, no problems," said Andy.
This win earned a milestone for tire maker BFGoodrich: its 50th overall victory in a SCORE Baja race. To date, racers on BFGs have won the Baja 500 27 times and the Baja 1000 23 times.
"This was a textbook way for BFGoodrich to kick off its 35th anniversary of racing with SCORE in Baja," said Robert Kukainis, BFG's motorsports manager. "We came down here at the invitation of SCORE's Sal Fish 35 years ago to prove the toughness of our tires in the most unforgiving terrain on earth. With 50 combined wins to date at SCORE's Baja 500 and Baja 1000, more than all other tire manufacturers combined, I think we've done that. And we will continue to return to Baja and support the SCORE series [and] our racers and enjoy the hospitality of the wonderful people of the Baja peninsula."
New Jeep Pickup?
This lightly camouflaged Jeep was spotted recently on a Southern California freeway. (Yeah, the photo sucks. It was taken with a phone.) The aftermarket wheels and tires make it look like any other Jeep on L.A.'s freeways, but the turret shape of the windows makes them look like they were taped off that way. We don't think this is just another Jeeper but rather a mule of the long-rumored Wrangler-based pickup truck.
It's no secret that Chrysler is desperate for new product these days, and since Wrangler sales have stayed strong despite the corporation's turmoil, variations on the Wrangler theme could move more units out the door. AEV is already converting Wranglers with its Brute kit, and Jeep tested interest in a Wrangler pickup with the Gladiator show truck (seen here) and later when it brought the JT concept to Moab. Maybe Fiat has decided the time is right to make this one a reality.
GM Diesel News
We just got back from spending some quality seat time in GM's new heavy-duty pickup trucks. Rain prevented us from getting great photos (as you can see), but we drove for hours, and even towed some, so we could bring you a detailed driving impression next month.
We did learn some interesting things while hanging with GM execs.
•Truck enthusiasts aren't the only ones who like the Ram's styling. So do GM designers, "and they're working on the next-generation Silverado right now. That's all I'm saying," said one insider.
•Don't look for the new Duramax in a SUV. That engine is tall (every truck we drove had either a taller hood or power bulge to clear the intake system), and the last thing any vehicle engineer wants to do is add height to an already big SUV. GM's marketers also don't believe the typical SUV buyer would be willing to pay the $8,400 premium that the Duramax/Allison option commands. Those serious towers who do buy diesel buy pickups.
•The light-duty diesel is still dead. Cost is a big factor; GM isn't convinced half-ton truck buyers would really pay $5,000 or more for a small diesel engine. Emissions are an issue too. Now that the government's fuel economy regulations are tied to carbon dioxide emissions, the benefits of the diesel's fuel economy are offset by its carbon dioxide output. "The light-duty diesel doesn't help me meet CAFE anymore," one insider put it.