Cars n' Stars: Another Unser Tries Indy, Infiniti Debuts New G20, CART Standings, Chrysler vs. TV

16 April 1998


Robby Unser, son of three-time Indy 500 winner Bobby, will try his
luck in an IRL car at the Indianapolis 500 mile race May 23. If he
qualifies and IF he wins, it would mean the Unser clan has won ten
times at the Brickyard.  75 cars will test for this year's classic;
they fight for 33 starting positions.

At the New York Auto Show, Nissan's Infiniti division unveiled a new
version of the old G20 nameplate.  The four door sedan has swoopy
styling and a 140 hp four cylinder engine.  Look for Detroit Lions football
superstar Barry Sanders to do some TV spots.

After three races the Fed Ex/CART standings look like this:

1  Adrian Fernandez
2  Greg Moore
3  Alex Zanardi
4  Dario Franchiti
5  Michael Andretti
6  Gil de Ferran

Chrysler Corp spends a ton of money on television to hawk their new
cars and trucks, and would like to have some sort of say-so on
programming.  At a seminar last week Chrysler's Ad and PR boss Bud
Liebler took on the networks, saying that now that CBS has put out $4
billion for NFL football, "guess who pays that bill?"  A 30 second
spot on Seinfeld's last show (who cares) costs $2 million, and yet the
show occasionly has maligned car dealers as being shady.  After
Chrysler sponsored the Bob Hope Desert Classic golf gig for 35 years,
the company was not even notified when the PGA decided to switch
networks.  Hmmmmmm.

Edsel Ford is no longer on the Ford Motor Company payroll, but will
remain on the board.  He gives much of his time to managing the Fords
family affairs and philantrophy. Ford is planning to build a new $330
million plant in the Philippines.

Generous Motors has come up with a new sales wrinkle: rewarding
repeat customers with "loyalty discounts" in the form of  coupons for GM
purchases at "the Preacher price."  

Mitsubishi has a new automobile/truck engine called GDI--gasoline
direct injection.  It is a V6 that you may see on future Monteros.
GDI zaps gasoline directly into the combustion chamber, generates more
power, and is environmentally friendly.

Mercedes Benz has lots of money; maybe they got lots of money because
they don't spend foolishly or let anyone take advantage of them. MB
was set to build a new $50 million U.S. headquarters complex in
Orangetown, N.Y., but when construction costs started escalating
U.S. MB Pres. Mike Basserman said we'll cool it and maybe we won't
build a new facility until the costs get into line.  MB just delivered
its first V8 powered C-class cars to dealers: the $52,000 C43.

A couple weeks ago we told you that CART raised $62 million via a
stock sale so they could expand. Their first acquisition is the Toyota
Atlantic series, and then the sanctioning body will purchase Indy
Lights.

The Saab 900 was just selected "Top Car" by Consumer Revue magazine.

Lee Iacocca has purchased a piece of Koo Koo Roo Chicken fast food
stores. Puns anyone??

The Volvo C70 convertible was recently introduced to the automotive
press. Prices start at $43,000. Look like neat car.

Greg Penske not only runs the California Speedway for his Dad Roger,
but he also oversees the family's retail auto business.  He is opening
a new Jaguar store in West Covina, CA (a strange place to open a
luxury car store . . . it's a Toyota/Nissan neighborhood).  He will
have all kinds of amenities for his customers: fax machines,
computers, snacks, coffee.

Dick Macedo is the new U.S. boss of Kia Motors.

The new Hyundai Avatar looks like a winner--four doors and a Chrysler
300-like front end.

We goofed.  A couple of weeks ago we downplayed the possibility of an
auto racing track being built at Chicago's Sportsman Park horse track.
Well, it's going to happen.  It's a one mile paved oval for Indy cars,
and the first race is Labor Day, 1999.

Bill Maloney -- The Auto Channel
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