Detroit auto show: Here comes Speed Racer’s Mach 5!

Jan 13, 2008 20:54 UTC

mach5.jpgSpeed Racer may be a “demon on wheels” as the carton theme song proclaims, but the real-life version of the beloved Mach 5 (pictured right) proved a disappointment to some at the Detroit auto show, including the auto enthusiast Web site Jalopnik.

The teen driving sensation, whose popular cartoon adventures were dubbed into English in the late 1960s, is set to get live-action treatment this year from the Wachowski brothers of “The Matrix” trilogy fame. The movie, starring Emile Hirsch as the title character and Matthew Fox as the mysterious Racer X (psst, really Speed’s long-lost brother Rex) is set to race into theaters in May.

The Mach 5 show model in Detroit lacked many of the features the cartoon version sported, including saw blades, jump jacks and a gull-shaped homing robot. It even lacks a trunk, which every true fan knows is where Speed’s younger brother Spritle and his pet chimpanzee Chim Chim often hid.

A Warner Brothers spokesman at the show assured that all the favorites will be in the move thanks to CGI magic. Phew!

Photo: Reuters 

Detroit auto show: Toyota plugs in

Jan 13, 2008 19:54 UTC

priusplug.jpgThe streets outside baseball’s Comerica Park in Detroit were never so quiet — even on a cold Sunday in January — from the inside of Toyota’s early prototype plug-in hybrid (pictured left).

The extra battery in a 2007 Prius means the gasoline motor didn’t kick in until 62 mph. The single-battery Prius  on the road today switches over at roughly half the speed.

Toyota, the global leader in hybrid production, is working to advance the technology with University of California’s battery and transportation programs.

Detroit auto show: Group calls for more “green” cars

Jan 13, 2008 19:09 UTC

greenprotest.jpgAutomakers dressed in “green” at the Detroit auto show, but it wasn’t enough for a vocal band of Michigan college students (pictured left) aligned with the Freedom from Oil Campaign.

Donned in green hard hats and gathered under a big blue balloon a long block from Cobo hall, the 50 activists flashed their enthusiasm. They beat their bucket drum, danced on the concrete sidewalk and fired up their megaphone, promising: “We will not drive cars that drive climate change.”

Urging the biggest U.S. and overseas automakers to go all out to arrest fuel inefficiency, the demonstrators — under the watchful eye of a few police — agitated for zero oil, zero emissions and more environmentally friendly jobs.

Detroit auto show: Chrysler’s moo-ving experience

Jan 13, 2008 18:42 UTC

In Hollywood, the old adage is “never work with animals or children.” dodgecow.jpg

In Detroit, the new adage — after today’s unveiling of the updated Dodge Ram (pictured right) — might be “never work with cattle.”

When Chrysler LLC on Sunday unveiled an updated version of its best-selling pickup truck at the Detroit auto show, it drove a herd of Texas longhorn cattle down a Detroit street.

Detroit auto show: GM takes top car…again

Jan 13, 2008 17:31 UTC

malibu.jpgGeneral Motors might be struggling in the North American car market, but it is still managing to impress the automotive media that hands out awards at the Detroit auto show.

For the second year in a row, the No. 1 U.S. automaker took the North American Car of the Year award with its Chevrolet Malibu (pictured above), while Mazda’s CX-9 SUV took truck honors. It was the 15th year for the awards, which are chosen by 45 U.S. and Canadian auto journalists.

Road & Track has said the Malibu sports European flair, while Car and Driver calls it a “no-excuses mainstream domestic sedan.”

Detroit auto show: GM kicks of show with Kid Rock, new ‘Vette

Jan 13, 2008 16:27 UTC

kidrock1.jpgGeneral Motors opened the Detroit auto show with an event, dubbed GM Style, that blends new cars, fashion, music and Hollywood stars.

The Saturday evening event culminated with Michigan musician Kid Rock (pictured right) performing a series of songs, including one with rapper Rev Run of Run DMC, and introducing GM’s 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1.

GM holds the event to cast a spotlight on its cars and trucks in the hopes of sexing up its image, although the Detroit News pointed out the number of GM cars in the valet line for the event were few.

Detroit auto show: Mercedes strikes up the band for small SUV

Jan 13, 2008 14:12 UTC

Mercedes came back to Motown after its divorce from Chrysler and brought along a band of German musicians.

mercedessuv.jpgIn a former car dealership turned into the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, the Mercedes star, a concept small sports utility vehicle dubbed the GLK Freeside (pictured left), was suspended high in the sky by a crane at a media event Saturday night ahead of the Detroit Auto Show. Liveried assistants gave guests the red-carpet treatment and champagne flowed freely.

The Palast Orchestra of Max Raabe played songs in German and English from the roaring ’20s with brass and violin, including “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf” and more modern renderings like “Sex Bomb” and “Oops! … I Did It Again.”

Detroit auto show: Ford to muscle up with remodeled pickup

Jan 11, 2008 17:00 UTC

Tough times in the rear-view mirror for the U.S. auto sector as high gas prices, a weak housing market and talk of the dreaded R word (read: recession) cloud the outlook just in time for the Detroit Auto Show.

Ford Motor Co officials will unveil the latest iteration of its F-150 full-size pickup truck, the country’s top-selling vehicle, at a time when talk of small cars around the globe is all the rage. India’s Tata Motors has set tongues wagging with plans to build a $2,500 car this year for developing markets called the Nano (pictured below).

nano.jpgThe show comes at a time when some officials in the industry believe the U.S. auto sector is heading for its worst year in 15 years, resulting in pressure on automakers to consolidate. Japan’s Nissan just announced it will supply newly independent Chrysler LLC with a small car for sale in South America.

Bill Murray explains that golf cart incident

Sep 3, 2007 19:40 UTC

rtr1m8qf.jpgActor Bill Murray gave us a long explanation for his bizarre antics in Stockholm last month, when he was picked up by police and tested for drunk driving after being found at the wheel of a golf cart en route to his downtown hotel.

In Venice to promote “The Darjeeling Limited”, Wes Anderson’s latest comedy in which Murray plays a nameless businessman who appears in short scenes at the beginning and end of the film, a deadpan Murray was asked: “What the heck were you doing in that golf car in Stockholm?”

It was an unusually direct question from a group of journalists who tend to presage their questions with long and rambling praise for whichever film they are talking about.

Hacked off over usage…

Jul 22, 2007 02:57 UTC

Hackers steal US govt, corporate data from PCs  
BOSTON, July 17 (Reuters) – Hackers stole information from the U.S. Department of Transportation and several U.S. companies by seducing employees with fake job-listings on advertisements and e-mail, a computer security firm said.

This article is great. It’s thorough, and complete, but you incorrectly lable the perpetrators as ‘hackers’ instead of ‘crackers’.

Bill E.

We heard from a number of readers on this one, and we are aware that this is a sore subject among insiders who distinguish between hacking  and cracking.