GM/Chrysler To Be Chinese Owned?
As this is being written in early December, Congress has twice rebuffed the Big Three Detroit automakers, sending them packing with no loan guarantee. And while developments over the intervening months may have brought a change of heart, at the moment it looks like one possible resolution--for GM and Chrysler at least--is that they will be bought and merged by the Chinese: either by the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC received its charter in 1968 by none other than Mao Zedong himself), or by the Dongfeng Motor Corporation. Both companies are controlled by the Chinese government. The hint was dropped by Zhang Xiangmu, a senior member of China's Ministry of Information Technology, which is the regulating body of China's automotive industry.
This news, which was reported by China's 21st Century Business Herald--the Chinese equivalent of the Wall Street Journal--is considered reliable by some industry experts, but other media outlets, such as the global automotive source gasgoo.com, were unable to confirm this independently, reporting that recent heavy losses in other overseas investments would prevent such a bid. In any event, the cost of buying GM and Chrysler would be pocket change in comparison to China's $2 trillion in currency reserves. At the moment, the only thing holding back China's place on the automotive world stage is a reputation for poor quality and lagging technology, which would be immediately rectified with GM and Chrysler. GM and Chrysler both have robust technologies, quality suppliers, extensive dealer networks, and intimate knowledge of their markets--all things that the nationalized Chinese auto industry would be looking for in a global partner.
Move Over SRT-8:
Pontiac G8 GXP Is Here!
For all of you wanting a new 2010 Camaro SS, but who aren't digging the two-door configuration for family use, you may want to consider the new Pontiac G8 GXP--the massaged sibling to the already hot G8 GT. The four-door GXP increases on the GT's impressive 361 hp (the 6-liter L98) with 415 hp through the adoption of the Corvette's 6.2-liter LS3. The news gets better yet: for 2009, GXP will be available with a Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual trans. Approximately 5,000 GXPs will be produced in Australia, where the car is built by GM's Holden subsidiary on the new Zeta rear-wheel drive platform. Other stats: 0-60 mph in 4.6 seconds, the quarter-mile in 13.2 seconds (109 mph trap speed), and top speed (limited) of 150 mph. Four-piston, 14-inch Brembo brakes also promise excellent stopping power. A Track Pack that includes additional coolers for transmission and engine oil will follow later in the year. When the GXP hits the market in late January, you can expect a sticker price of under $40,000--well south of Corvette territory.
PHR Magazine Goes Digital
For more than a decade, computer versions of print magazines have been available online, and now Popular Hot Rodding is getting into the action. Starting with the current issue, you'll be able to subscribe to PHR online at zinio.com, barnsandnoble.com, and popularhotrodding.com for the digital version. The digital version of PHR will look identical to the print version, and will cost about half what a print subscription costs. The best thing about it is that the digital platform supports future web-only content, including video.
Ultimate Barn Find:
Super Duty Tempest Found!
In a story too bizarre to be fiction, one of six rare 1963 Super Duty Pontiac Tempests thought to be long gone has turned up in Harrison, Michigan. When the eBay auction closed on November 9, the winning bid was $226,521.63. Not bad for a car with no motor, no trans, beat-up paint, and a non-original front end. The car has been positively authenticated as the one that Stan Antlocer ran during the 1963 NHRA season, and that Popular Hot Rodding reported on in the December 1963 issue. What makes the Antlocer Super Duty unique is that it was the only one converted to a solid axle (the other five cars were run in NHRA competition with the original independent rear suspension, rope drive, and rear transaxle).
Almost as soon as the auction opened, the seller was bombarded with questions from Pontiac experts. When that happened, the "Buy It Now" option quietly disappeared, and the bidding skyrocketed. We called the seller to get additional information after the auction closed, but he declined to elaborate on the advice of his lawyer. We got unconfirmed reports that the seller was asked as a favor by someone else--possibly a family member or friend--to dispense with the contents of a garage that included the Tempest. The seller allegedly piled the contents of the garage into a truck to take to the dump, intending to do the same with the Tempest. The story goes that his daughter suggested he sell the car on eBay rather than tow it to the dump. If that's true, then this rare bird is one lucky piece of history!
We're working on a major story on this significant barn find, as well as an interview with the Tempest's original owner and driver, Stan Antlocer. We'll also have plenty of juicy details from Pontiac experts, as well as current and historical photos of the Antlocer Super Duty Tempest soon, so stay tuned.
Laguna: Full Speed Ahead!
To be honest, I thought you guys were a bunch of tools over there with "get your car in the mag," but you buying the Laguna changed that for me! Anybody building a Laguna can't be all that bad. I'm building a 1976 Laguna S3. It's green with white inside, with all the 'Guna spec stuff. I'm going with the following: big-block 454, Flowmasters, steel two-inch cowl hood, ZR1 taillights, big brakes, and anything that will make it handle like a GT car. As far as parts go, I have a bunch of NOS parts I bought over the years to do this right (my family owns a Chevy dealership); no one has as many new Laguna parts for the inside and outside as I do. Laguna owners are a bunch of crazy guys, too, like the poor version of Shelby owners without the paperwork! I'm building mine to drive every day, so everything I do will be based on that. I even got two brand-new noses in the boxes. Pack rat DNA. If you need anything, contact me.Warren Rodgers
We didn't have the heart to call your letter our "Rant Of The Month," Warren, because outside of being just a tad crazy, there's nothing insulting about it. Send in some pix of your car and your NOS swag, and we'll print 'em! As for Project Talladega, our body and paint are handled in this issue, but all the custom touches, like spoilers and block-offs, will be next month.
Thank you for the enjoyment and memories your October issue has given me. I was passing the magazine rack and saw the yellow Popular Hot Rodding title, remembering how I would get the magazine in my younger years. So I picked it up, read it complete that night, with flashbacks of being 13 years old and a runner for my Dad's friend's AA gas dragster pit crew, racing weekends at Irwindale, OCIR, and Lyons Dragstrip.
Now that I was done, thinking I have to wait a month for the next issue to come out, I remembered how you magazine people print one month ahead, so I went to the magazine rack the next day, and the November issue was there waiting for me. The way I was excited, you would've thought it was the 1968 Sears Christmas Wish Book catalog. I'm reading again at midnight, thinking I could build a car like these in your magazine, and maybe get a picture in Hometown Hot Rodding.
Bring it on, Kent! You build it, and we'll print it.
I was very excited to read about the Ford Racing Performance Parts (FRPP) Aluminator in the October issue, and was looking forward to using one in my '68 Cougar when I get around to that project. A friend of mine purchased one for his '03 Cobra, and I have been helping him with the installation. Before we dropped the engine in, he came across a thread on modularfords.com.
Just to hit the high points of the thread, FRPP is selling these engines with a major problem that they know about, and hanging the purchasers out to dry with no real warranty service. The problem is that the crank end play is not properly set up at the factory, and this causes the harmonic balancer to eat a hole in the timing cover. FRPP claims this is a very small problem, but the numbers speak for themselves. One of the posters in the thread is an FRPP distributor. Five that he has sold are known to have this problem, and their build dates range from February 2008 to just a few weeks ago. That doesn't seem like an isolated case to me.
The only response FRPP has offered is to pay about 25 percent of the cost of correcting this problem, and they have only offered that to one of their customers who have this problem. The warranty that is provided with the Aluminator is for parts only; however, when an engine has a problem when it leaves the factory, it is a manufacturing defect, and it should be taken care of. I can't speak for you, but if I was in your shoes, I would have a real hard time allowing an obvious rip-off to go unchecked. Customers and potential customers need to be made aware of things like this, particularly when the vendor in question is going out of their way to cover it up just so they can get out of taking care of the problem.
FRPP's Jesse Kershaw responds: "We have repaired or replaced every Aluminator with this issue that has been returned to us. We now have a robust fix, and have added checks to our assembly process so this doesn't happen again. Any customer's engine not installed can be exchanged or returned for a full refund. Our crate engine warranty covers defects in material and assembly, but not installation and removal labor costs, which if you look at other manufacturers, is pretty much industry standard. We have tried to work out some goodwill adjustments for those customers whose engines were already installed. We absolutely stand behind our products, like Aluminator!" If you've got an early Aluminator with this problem, Jesse recommends that you call 800-367-FORD.
Let Your Voice Be Heard!
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