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The TACH Report: Highlights of New 1998 Models

2 June 1998


For 1998, the big change in the Viper is not the price--which stays at 70
grand ($63,000 base)--but the addition of electric glass windows plus a
hard Targa type top panel.  The cloth top is STILL part of the package,
and is, of course, the summer model.  For winter attach (two man job)
the hard top panel. This eight liter 450 hp hot rod still bottoms out
at the front dive plane when going into ANY driveway or puilling up to
concrete parking bars in a supermart.  Performance-wise, the Viper is
still a blast: it rips off sub 5 second 0-60 runs and does the quarter
mile in 12.6 secs. The speedo goes to 200.  Second gear almost feels non
synchro, because you canít even think about speed shifting into that
cog. YOU ease it into the gear and then you can row your way up to
sixth. It's a brute, it's loud and it has a radio that must have come
out of a Yugo.  SMALL buttons/switches.  If you have an extra 70
Gs and like hot rods this is it.  Also, you had better realize you will
become an exhibitionist. The outside mirrors are adjusted by hand. City
EPA is 11 mpg.

SAAB 9.5

This is really an updated  and stretched 9000 four door, but well
updated. The 9.5 has something to do with the 5th iteration of the
9000.  This car has a ton of room and great performance for the
money.  Saab is till in the safety business, and this design is based
on what they call "Real Life Safety Engineering."  They say it has 
outstanding rear and side impact protection, plus front end crumple 
zones, plus it sports five automatic belts. The base price is
$29,995, but to really get the full Saab treatment you are looking at
$37,000.  The higher price will get you all the goodies: climate control,
heated seats, 3 liter V-6, leather, and the sunroof. The 9.5 is intended
to compete with Volvo S70, Mercedes C280, and BMW 528i--all of
which are considered mid-sized cars. With 15.9 cu ft, the Saab has
the biggest trunk in this class/category.  The 9.5's 99.5 cu ft of cabin
space also ranks it as the biggest in class. The car has traction
control, and the whole package weighs in at 3600 lb.


This two door is an eye catching, head turning vehicle, and while it's no
hot rod, it gets up to speed smoothly once its 236 hp, five cylinder
mill gets on track.  The price though says to us that this car is for the
Volvo-ista . . . the enthusiast who likes everything Volvo. The MSRP
is $39,970.  Add leather, premium sound, traction control, heated
seats and destination charge, and you'll find yourself approaching
Corvette country at $44,000. You'll also get a power sunroof, and an
automatic dimming rear-view mirror. As might be expected of a car with
fastback styling, the rear seat is fairly cramped.  While on that subject,
do you think a coupe should have 12 audio speakers? Tom Walkinshaw Racing
had a hand in designing and assembling the new Volvo coupe.  To make
sure the Volvo Coupe owner gets lots of stares, they have some trick
new paint colors including Saffron Metallic and Cassis Metallic.


The Mountaineer is a Merc version of the Ford Expedition, but while the
Ford variant is selling at a brisk pace, the Mountaineer hasn't caught
on yet.  Like every Lincoln-Mercury division version of Ford vehicles,
this sport ute is the upstyle model, of the six seater. It has a 5
liter V8 (V6 is standard) and a four-speed automatic tranny.  This truck
has a new easy to operate rear liftgate and four-wheel ABS. Prices start
at $28,680 but if you want the V8, top of the line radio, it comes in at 


Next week we'll cover this vehicle.  It's in a class of its own and we
are still attempting to determine what to do with it.

Bill Maloney -- The Auto Channel