* The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is said to be investigating '07 Wranglers for reported engine stalling at highway speeds. Reportedly, there have been 53 complaints, with 12 of them mentioning loss of electrical power and lighting at the same time.
* eBay Motor's top-10 best-selling vehicles for the first quarter of 2007 include the Wrangler.
* Chrysler Group's new Phoenix V-6 engines will be built in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The company is making a $450 million investment in the Kenosha Engine Plant for what it calls "comprehensive retooling" as part of the prep work. It recently broke ground on the new Marysville Axle Plant in Michigan.
* Could the future hold a Hemi + manual transmission?
* We quote from AutoWeek: ". . . and other well-received Chrysler concepts from the past two years should be in line for the production green light." It was an article about the sale of the Chrysler Group being good news for those of us wanting to buy a Jeep pickup. We're paraphrasing. The Trailhawk is another recent concept. Wait, it says "well-received" ones.
* CarGurus has put together a list of vehicles that do and don't retain value. The Top 10 2007 Cars as Measured by Historic Value Retention has the Wrangler at number one, holding onto 73.49 percent of its worth.
* It's an all-tire theme this month. Toyo Tires is having a "Grab the Cash" dealio. Or as we would have called it, a "Grab select Open Country A/T and Open Country M/T tires and receive $25 cash back per tire, up to $125, with a mail-in rebate when you purchase up to five qualifying tires from an authorized dealer between now and September 30" dealio. Yeah, their way is better.
* General Tires' new ad campaign is "The tire choice of . . ." and is further proof that we don't have a strange enough mind for advertising, or whatever is required to connect the dots of tire and mermaid. The company's new tagline is tied in to different terrains (such as wet traction). For the truck-line Grabber tire, it's a barefoot rockclimber: Living on the Edge. Isn't that an Aerosmith song?
* In Mexico City, farmers are burning up blue agave fields in order to make room for corn. Blue agave means nothing to you? It's used to make tequila. Corn is used to make ethanol. One can fuel vehicles better than the other.
* You know the flying car, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? You know $505,000? The two have become intertwined via an auction.
* Planning a road trip? Budget Rent A Car now has a blog for travelers to throw around travel ideas and advice and to provide tips on which rest stops have the best toilet paper. It's called Up Your Budget (www.upyourbudget.com). Sigh.
* Will it become law for dogs to wear seatbelts in Massachusetts?
* The U. S. Senate Commerce Committee approved a bill to bump the passenger-car fuel-economy standard to 35 mpg by 2010. The House of Reps is working on its own Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard. Sucks to be an automaker right now.
* Staff Sirius faves: Punk 29, Howard 100, New Country 60, Blue Collar Comedy 103, First Wave 22, Raw Dog 104, Lithium 24, and Buzzsaw 19. (What, no Hair Nation 23, Tech Editor Hazel?)
* Rat rods-or any junky but well-built hot rod.
* There are just some cheap, for-sale vehicles that Christian can't turn down, and I think Pete is heading down the same road." -Editor Cappa after FNG Pete purchased an old cop car with a wasted tranny simply for the engine.
* Yes, as we have explained to another magazine guy, the Liberty is a unit body-really, there is no frame. Shouldn't these magazine people know this?
* Most recent barf by a staffer: a few months ago. Oldest barf by a staffer: 2000. * What we buy in bulk: shop rags, cell-phone chargers, diapers. (We're mostly referring to Tech Editor Hazel for the latter. Mostly.)
* Pete likes cheese.
* Two things we learned from recent stories: 20-plus pages of notes are cool and informative. However, they suck to edit. (Bumper comparo.) And, intake port velocity has a dramatic effect on an engine's potential for power even in the upper rpm ranges, where theoretically, it shouldn't matter that much.
* You're an idiot if you buy the box set of "Pirates of the Carribean" parts I and II. Hello? Wait for the third one-you know they'll do a box set then. It's deep thoughts like this that prevent us from having time to debate about who will be our next president.
Just as there is a television channel for everything, so is there an organization. Left Lane Drivers of America is a grassroots campaign to get slowpokes into the right lanes. To "help slower drivers get the point," Left Lane Drivers of America is selling $29 windshield decals with "Move Over" and a big arrow pointing where to go. The org says it's not just a courtesy thing-it's about safety and is the law in many states.
If you live in a one-traffic-light town, you probably can't fully comprehend how desperate things have become in big cities like Los Angeles. Not enough people are telecommuting to make even a noticeable dent in traffic alleviation (in fact, are things worse?), and widening freeways has simply created one more lane of bumper-to-bumper traffic. What's a commuter to do? Meet Carpool Kenny-an inflatable torso. His purpose is to sit in the passenger seat and allow solo drivers to take advantage of the carpool lane by fooling the coppers into thinking there's a flesh-filled complete body. He's outfitted in a suit for legitimacy. It's $19.89 from www.prankplace.com.
"Looks like a modern-day Range Rover and a '79 Datsun pickup mated and had kids," exclaimed Editor Cappa. Who had been elected to have that birds-and-bees conversation with him? This is a Mahindra SUV, which will make its debut in the United States in 2009. If Mahindra rings a bell, it's likely on account of the Mahindra Jeep built by the Indian manufacturer from '47-'54. Willys parts were used (so it was kind of a CJ-3B) until the company made its own pieces. There will also be two- and four-door pickups. A four-cylinder diesel is the plan, along with a six-speed automatic transmission and an independent front and coil-sprung rear suspension. Global Vehicles will be the importer and distributor of the SUV and pickups.
Here's what happens when you take an Unlimited Rubicon, let the Mopar people near chrome, and introduce an experimental color, Liquid Charcoal Pearlcoat.
Consumerreports.org has more than 200 vehicle crash tests courtesy of video taken by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety as the agency complied its safety ratings. The easiest way to find the tests once you're on the Consumer Reports Web site is to choose "Cars" from the navigation bar, then "Safety & Recalls." Once the pop-up window appears, you'll be able to select make, model, and year for any the IIHS has tested.
Seems the whole diesel thing might actually stick (this time). The Grand's got it, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and Volkswagen have teamed up on technology, and there's the on/off/on/off/on/off/on/off rumor about the Nissan Titan, for starters. Now GM has a V-8 diesel coming after 2009. The new 4.5L Duramax will be designed for North American light-duty trucks and Hummers and will fit where a small-block V-8 gas mill could. It's expected to make more than 310 hp and 520 lb-ft of torque. Expect Dodge, Ford, and Toyota to chime in and line up shortly.
"The only way I can explain that is . . . even the color beige can say a thousand words differently to a thousand different people. You just have to listen closely." -Sam Locricchio of Design & Corporate Quality Communication for Chrysler Group on the JT pickup's paint shade, Hearing-Aid Beige