Under GM/Chrysler Merger Camaro and Challenger Both Survive!It may be old news by now, but that's not saying it sits any better with us. As we prepare this, GM and Chrysler are in merger talks, and barring another catastrophic Wall Street event, it looks like the union will happen. At present, the U.S. Treasury Department has denied a request by General Motors to provide the $10 to $12 billion in loan guarantees that would be required to effect the merger-in direct contrast to the slam-dunk $700 billion bailout given to Wall Street back in October. After getting the Heisman maneuver from the Treasury Department (i.e. ex-Wall Street fat cats Henry Paulson and bailout czar Neel Kashkari), GM CEO Rick Wagoner has turned to overseas investors to fund the merger-not good if you hate the idea of the largest domestic automaker being owned by off-shore interests. The alternative to a merger is one or both companies entering a pre-planned bankruptcy, in which suppliers and workers would be paid, but investors (and the credit ratings of either company) would take a big hit. At the core of the problem: a 15-year low for annual auto sales, and the certainty that one or both companies will run out of operating cash in the next few months. In the best-case scenario, according to the Anderson Economics Group of Southfield, Missouri, approximately 35,000 jobs would disappear from the merging companies, versus a 200,000-job loss under a bankruptcy scenario.
What does this mean for our favorite performance cars? For the moment, the Camaro is safe by virtue of its product cycle being too far along for significant change. The October 30 edition of the Calgary Herald reports that-according to Chrysler-Chrysler's two profitable Canadian plants would survive: the minivan plant in Windsor, Ontario, and the rearwheel-drive Brampton, Ontario, plant that builds the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, and Dodge Challenger. Out of Chrysler's 27 vehicle lines, 16 of them would disappear almost immediately.
Eastwood Flick Features TorinoAs this issue drops on the newsstand, a new Clint Eastwood movie will be hitting the theatres (either December 17 or January 16, depending on who you ask), and we're making plans to see it. The title, Gran Torino, says it all. In a movie that Eastwood directs, he plays the role of Walt Kowalski, a retired Korean War veteran and ex-Ford factory worker living in Detroit's bombed-out suburbs. The thing you need to know about this movie is that Kowalski has two loves: his M1 rifle, and his '72 Gran Torino. And you don't mess with either.
When a young Asian neighbor kid tries to steal his prized Gran Torino as part of a gang initiation, things start getting complicated. We've only seen the movie trailer, which you can check out at www.thegrantorino.com, but in typical Dirty Harry fashion, there is no love lost between Kowalski and the MAC-10-toting, Honda-driving gangsters who spray his home down with hot lead. Even if the acting turns out to be only half as good as Dirty Harry, it's more than enough to make up for The Bridges Of Madison County. And you gotta love Kowalski's name-a wink to car-guy insiders, telling them this movie is the real thing!
World's Best Burger Joint
We got a tip from Jeff Lacina of ProCharger about a new burger joint in Chandler, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix. Next time we're in town, we'll be checking this place out for sure. If you go, however, know in advance that there is no place for political correctness at the Heart Attack Grill, which is located at 6185 W. Chandler Boulevard. On the menu you'll find such things as the Quadruple Bypass Burger, Jolt Cola, and non-filtered cigarettes. All this is served by a bevy of beautiful nurses who will even wheel you out of the joint in a wheelchair when you're done. Hey, if you gotta go, you might as well do it with a smile on your face! The Heart Attack Grill is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week.
Let Your Voice Be Heard!
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Rant Of The Month
Missing Door Handle
I was just rereading my November PHR, and was looking at Randy Johnson's 66 Chevelle ("Unconventional Killer"). What's up with the disappearing door handles on the second page of his article? I am VERY disappointed in your mag that ya'll are doctoring the pics of the cars. You must have made the car look better than it was, or tried removing a shadow from the side using Photoshop or something. Shame on ya'll. If this is what you're doing, I'll send you a pic of my '70 Chevelle that's unpainted, and ya'll can just Photoshop some paint on it and there you have it, a cover car. I must admit I didn't catch it till about the fourth time reading the mag.
We're busted! Yes, we do spruce up cars from time to time, and in this case we cleaned up some reflections in the side of the car. Unfortunately, the door handle got taken out along with those reflections. Send in your Chevelle. We'll fix it up good!
Oldsmobile: Far From Dead
I wanted to say that I appreciate your Oldsmobile support. I was happy to see your enthusiasm for the Dale Robinson and Bill Trovato EMC entries; all of us Olds enthusiasts are proud of their efforts, and in a sense we all get to share in their success. Of course, most of us in the Olds community are well aware of Bill's success campaigning his Starfire, and of the quality work that comes out of his BTR shop. We are looking forward to seeing stories of these entries in the pages of PHR. Attached is a pic of my 455-powered Starfire. It's been a two-year project that I am now just finishing up.
Thanks for the good word, Steve. We will be featuring both Olds engines by BTR (400 ci) and Robinson Analytical (307 ci) in full stories this coming year. In the meantime, you can get a sneak peek at both engines-along with dyno numbers-beginning on p. 38.
From the intel we've been...
From the intel we've been able to pick up, the Camaro is definitely safe, and the Challenger will continue being built at one of the few Chrysler plants (Brampton, Ontario) that will remain after the GM/Chrysler merger.