Cars n' Stars: Daewoo Revs up for Sales, IRL in Atlanta, 1999 Jeep Prices

1 September 1998

After three false 'introductory' major auto show starts, Daewoo Motors 
has initiated a public relations program aimed at auto journalists  with
a drive 'em, you'll like 'em offer and is completing finishing touches
on a new retail sales facility in Huntington Beach, CA.  The company is 
also is solidifying its U.S. entry position by importing 800 new
models at Jacksonville, FL port of entry.  They will be sold at Daewoo
stores in Orlando, St. Petersburg, and Fort Lauderdale, FL.

In a recent focus group meeting of automotive journalists who had
tested the Korean auto makers' products the initial consensus among
the scribes was concern over the retail pricing structure.  The cars
performance and build quality was not questioned, and the feeling
prevailed that if Daewoo can bring in the three models with stickers
at the company's bottom range estimated retail prices (Lanos, $9,000;
Nubira, $12,000; Leganza, $15,000), then there may be hope for
success.

We drove the Leganza extensively.  This top of the line model only
churned out 105 hp from its 2.2 liter four cylinder motor . . . that
kept the gearbox busy on a four-hour Las Vegas, "pass 'em where you
find 'em" trip.  The airconditioner took too long to get up to speed,
and in Las Vegas' 110 degree heat, that is not an enjoyable
experience.  Once it started churning, though, all was well. A full
review on the Leganza will be coming up later.

Last Saturday night's IRL race from Atlanta Motor Speedway was a barn
burner that rivaled any race series in the world for action and drama.
The multi-hued speedsters under the lights are fascinating, and
drafting/passing at 215 mph is big time racing.  You just know that
all these guys in the open cockpit racers are from the Sprint car
ranks.  It's just too bad nobody was at the Atlanta oval to see the
race.  Cameras panned the stadium and we saw nothing but empty seats
except for patches in the main straightway. Too bad, as it's good
competition.

Like just about all the other auto makers, Jeep has announced that
they will not raise prices for their 1999 models:
     Grand Cherokee (2WD) Laredo                      $26,220
     Grand Cherokee (4WD) Limited                     $34,415

Mercedes Benz also is keeping the prices down for 1999, and announces an
overall increase of only 1.3%

Steve Saleen, maker of fierce Saleen Mustangs and Expeditions is
holding an all Ford car show at his headquarters in Irvine, CA on Sept
12.  For info: 714 597 4900

We see that several CART teams are going to test at the 2.5 mile Road
Atlanta course.  The general feeling is that Chip Ganassi's drivers
Alex Zanardi and Jimmy Vasser are not only honing their road racing
skills, but that they are also trying out the track for a possible
future CART date.

Mr. Ferrari--Gianperro Moretti, the millionaire auto accessory mogul
and endurance racer in Ferrari 333Sp Can Am type cars--announced his
retirement right after his team won the Watkins Glen USRRC sneak meet
last week.

This weekend in Los Angeles, three NASCAR aces, Mark Martin, Chad
Little and Ken Schroeder are expected to run Featherlite cars at the
L.A.  Street Race on Labor Day.  They will jet into LAX right after
they run at Darlington, S.C. on Saturday.  Info for the L.A. race is
www.lastreetrace.com.  Is that prophetic?  Last street race??

Rumors abound that the IRL and CART are going to patch things up and
get together in 1999. Discussions were held at the IRL Pikes Peak
race, but Leo Mehl of IRL says the differences are too big to get
everyone together. Stay tuned.

The Kool Toyota Atlantic series is bringing back a new/old class
called C2. It will start in 1999 and feature the Ralt RT-40 and RT-41
chassis.

Nelson Piquet and Emerson Fittipaldi are the new promoters of the CART
Rio 400, starting in 1999.  It will be a night race, and CART loaned the
former racing champs $4 million to renovate the  Nelson Piquet Speedway.
CART is happy with the crowd turnout for the Elkhart Lake, Road America
race August 16--it was announced at 115,000 tickets.  The podium was
all 'i's: the winners were FranchittI, ZanardI and FittipaldI.

Bill Maloney -- The Auto Channel

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