Mustang Parts
   Carrying Saleen wheels and Bullitt wheels.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Honda: Somnolent Styling

This is the (leaked) press photo of the 2007 Honda CR-V.

Honda has great technology, and excellent engines. But their design for the U.S. market is weak, in fact, it is the chink in their armor. I mean, what is this thing supposed to be? It has BMW X5/Mercedes ques along the sides, and a rear quarter that reminds me of a Chrysler product. The front end has a small nose with an apparent overhang and a strange mustache underneath. The front bumper appears to jut forward like a cow-catcher.

Has Honda hired away all of Kia/Hyundai's old designers or something?

I thought that the current Honda Pilot/Ridgeline was a decent look--butch and trucky in a Japanese Mr. Roboto sort of way. The new Civic is very Japanese, and very unique.

This thing, well, if this is the new Honda SUV design language, then GM and Ford have a great opening: make some reliable small SUVs with some passion.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Great Leap Ford-ward

Since everyone in the blogosphere and his dentist have given their opinion on how to fix Ford, and the rumors are flying, I think I'll chime in.

So, here's my Dear-Bill note:
Sell Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin. I've said this before, and I'll say it again. Jag is a black hole, a cash vacuum. Ford doesn't know how to fix it, after years of trying. The trick is, can Ford find a buyer? Rumors are that Jacques "The Knife" Nasser and J.P. Morgan may be interested. That would be rich, as Nasser's buying binge is partly how Ford got into its mess in the first place.

Keep Volvo. Lots of "synergy" there (terrible, over-used business jargon). Volvo has been profitable, can probably make money, and has lots of high-tech safety goodies to borrow. Volvo can be Ford's European luxury brand in place of Jaguar.

Keep Mercury, as long as it makes money (and keeps Lincoln dealers from starving--a key point). But the metro-sexual thing? Not going to work. You're not going to make Mercury into Scion/VW/Honda. I'd see Mercury as more of a Saturn/Buick like entity. Mercury is "Ford plus bling". Keep Lincoln, but make it interesting--look back to the big black boats with suicide doors. Please, no more angry cheese grater robots.

Go private! This will save some cash--no more Sarbanes-Oxley accountants, no more stock dividends. No more Evelyn Davis or liberal Catholic nuns badgering you at the shareholders meeting. No more analysts. Even better, become "employee pwned"--issue private shares to all employees, and invite employees to buy more, financing the company.

To raise cash, sell a stake to an industrial partner. How about BP or Shell Oil? They have tons of cash, and the fuel marketing opportunities would be significant. Sell part of Ford Credit to a bank, like Citigroup.

Consider an alliance, but leave Mr. Bean, er Carlos Ghosn alone. Ghosn is a talented executive, no doubt, but Ford's problem's aren't due to a lack of cost-cutting. Ford's problem is lack of attractive product. What does Nissan have that Ford needs, other than money? Ford already has Mazda for Japanese influence, and Ford Europe/Volvo for European.

If you make an alliance, make one with a company that has something you need. GM for example has excellent low-cost truck engines with cylinder de-activation. Honda has world class small and mid-size cars. Harley has motorcycles. Chrysler has Dr. Z and his mustache.

Fix the product:
  • Re-task a few product teams from working on the next Explorer or whatever to get a sub-compact car from Mazda, Ford Europe or Ford South America ready for U.S. regulatory compliance. Do it with minimal changes, so it is ready sooner than later.
  • Bring a small SUV over as well, call it Bronco.
  • Bring the European Focus over, to compete with Civic, Corolla, and Sentra.
  • SVT Fusion!
  • Lincoln Mustang/Lincoln Continental (with suicide doors!)
  • Do sheet-metal and interior on the Ranger to bring it closer to F-150. I bet there is still a market for small pickups, if they are done well.
  • Stop futzing around with hybrids and put your money into improving your IC engines.
  • Stop naming Ford's with F and Mercuries with M. It is confusing and annoying. Stop naming Lincolns with MK*.
Buy Mark Fields a haircut. "Best Executive Mullet", heh.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Walmart's "Ambassador"

I am not a Walmart basher, but they really should reconsider using Andrew Young's company GoodWorks International for a public relations campaign. Here's what Mr. Young said in an interview:
"Those are the people who have been overcharging us, selling us stale bread and bad meat and wilted vegetables. And they sold out and moved to Florida. I think they've ripped off our communities enough. First it was Jews, then it was Koreans and now it's Arabs; very few black people own these stores."
Edit: Ah, I'm late to the story. Young already resigned from his chairmanship.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

"Justice", Palestinian Style

Here is what happens if to you if you are a Palestinian who is suspected of talking to the Israelis. I bet he had a nice jury trial beforehand. (Photo from Yahoo! News)

Palestinian gunmen, who identified themselves as members of the Islamic Jihad group, shoot a man in a public square in the West Bank town of Jenin Sunday Aug. 13, 2006. The man, who was executed in front of hundreds of people, was accused by the gunmen of giving information to Israeli authorities, helping them to kill two militants last week in a targeted attack, said witnesses and Islamic Jihad members. The victim was identified as Bassem Malah, 22, who worked in the Israeli Arab town of Umm al Fahm. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Hicks vs. Yuppies - BMW Car Chase

I don't know if this is real, but does have a neat ending. A pair of "hicks" (driving a Toyota pickup, no less) harass a guy in a BMW. The guy lets them corner them, then draws a gun.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

BP Blowout

The Democrats are howling over BP's pipeline problem. From Yahoo News:

"It is appalling that BP let this critical pipeline deteriorate to the point that a major production shutdown was necessary," said Rep. John Dingell, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, in a statement.

"The United States Congress has an obligation to hold hearings to determine what broke down here and what laws and regulations need to be improved to ensure problem pipelines like these are found and fixed earlier," Dingell said

Don't forget that the Democrats fought tooth and nail to prevent drilling in ANWR.

So which is it? Are high oil prices bad, or is oil production in Alaska bad? Can they pick a side and stick to it?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

'Gator vs 'Slade

Today while driving home from work, I had the luck to drive near the two major competitors in the large luxury SUV class--a 2007 Lincoln Navigator (sporting an M-plate) and a privately owned 2007 Cadillac Escalade, just a few miles apart. Here are a few quick thoughts.

The Navigator (red) looked good from the rear, and had relatively clean lines from the side view. This was also my impression of the (pearl white) Escalade. Both trucks had a bit of decoration in back, the Navigator with chrome edging on its tail lamps, and the Escalade with the prominent chrome bar and Cadillac badge. I give the rear view to Navigator, for being more understated.

Where things fell apart for me was in front. The Navigator has a very busy front end, which reminds me somehow of an angry cheese grater or maybe a 1950's era robot. Too much flash, too many lines. There is also a prominent bulge in the hood, which has a flashy chromed leading edge, forming a metallic unibrow for the robot. The front view of the Navigator gave me a nervous, busy vibe.

The Escalade was more subdued, in person, and not as busy looking. It also had a big chrome grille up front, and a chrome unibrow. The Cadillac badge up front was large, but it was proportionate to the large vertical headlamps.

If I was in the market for a large luxury guzzler SUV, based on the exterior design I think I would choose the Escalade over the Navigator. Surprisingly, in person, the Cadillac looks more elegant to me than the Navigator.

When it comes to the interior design, however, I would pick the Navigator as having the more interesting design. The Cadillac interior (which I know only from press photos on the web) is an anonymous, but tasteful space which could be from any high end Japanese or European luxury vehicle. The Navigator interior, however, has a definite character, and is unmistakably Lincoln. It is a matter of taste, of course, but I would take the Lincoln furniture.

If I actually had the kind of money to spend on a vehicle that either of these beasts costs, I would pick neither. Instead, I would get myself a nice turbo wagon (think Volvo V50 or Saab SportCombi) for commuting, and for nice days, a Mazda MX-5 or Pontiac Solstice. I'd probably have gas money left over.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

My New Picture

I have changed my Blogger pic, in support of the people of Israel.