Today, blogs from Autoblog to Worldcarfans are tripping over themselves, knowing for sure that Opel will launch, as soon as next year, its top-of-the line car, that it will be the Opel Omega, and that it will be based on the Cadillac XTS. (Heck, isn’t that thing based on an Opel-developed Epsilon II anyway?) The trouble is: It’s all made up. Let’s investigate the making of the Great Lie of the Day.
Today’s Great Lie can be traced all the way back to Germany’s Auto-News. In case you have never heard of it: You don’t have to. Because the story is in German, the blogs turn to Worldcarfans.com for help. Too bad the German linguist at Worldcarfans must be courtesy of Google translate.
Would the worldly Worldcarfans know a little Deutsch, they would notice that Auto-News pulled the story out of thin air. The only source it names is “the usually well informed” Saabsunited. Did they find out that the XTS will become an Omega? Nope. Auto-News says that Saabsunited found in the files of bankrupt Saab that the company had trademarked “9-8.”
That in itself would not be an earth shattering revelation. It gets worse. The story in Saabsunited is as old as April 12, 2012 (yes, April 12, 2012), and it goes like this:
“From Saab’s bankruptcy documentation a number of attachments can be found, one interesting item concerns registered names. And in that list of names the Saab 9-8 can be found. According to a source to SaabsUnited the 9-8 was supposed to be an Audi A8 type of sports saloon. A serious big luxury car which could compete at the very top level. Other cars in that segment are the BMW 7-series, Mercedes-Benz S-class, Jaguar XJ and Lexus LS430.”
Yawn. See anything about Opel? Omega? Cadillac? XTS? Thank you. I thought I might be blind.
It’s summertime. Stories are few and far between. Auto-News editor Gregor Hebermehl needs a story. He has a few beers and starts to speculate: Now what could be the platform for that Siebener Killer of Saab? Must be the XTS. Ok, ok. But Saab is dead, right? Herr Hebermehl sees with horror that he has just 179 words, and he already is at a dead end, what with Saab being bankrupt. Hebermehl promised to deliver more than 700 words. After a big gulp of Weissbier and an even bigger leap of faith, he comes to the conclusion that “The former Saab mother GM must want to sell the XTS platform under one of its European brands. In Germany, this would mean Opel. In the UK Vauxhall.”
After this compelling piece of logic has been typed, Hebermehl needs a name for that inter-company technology transfer. Later, Leftlanenews will write: “The XTS would reportedly be branded as the Omega, which has served as the nameplate for past Opel flagships.” Reportedly? To warrant a reportedly, someone needs to report something.
Herr Hebermehl reports just this: “Whether Rüsselsheim’s new upper class will carry the name Omega as desired by Opel fans, is an open question. Opel is unpredictable when it comes to names.” That’s it. Even after a few beers, Herr Hebermehl has not consumed enough liquid courage to outright say that it will be an Omega. That dirty job will be left to the car blogs.
In reputable car publications such as Autoevolution, which subscribe to the “if Google finds it, it must be true” editorial philosophy, Herr Hebermehl’s open question morphs into “Opel will be bringing back the Omega.” Oh, and by the way: “The information comes from Opel’s ex-CEO, Karl-Friedrich Stracke.”
No, it does not. It comes out of Herr Hebermehl’s Weissbier. He orders another one and writes about the technical specs of the new Omega. Easy. He simply copies the specs of the XTS, converted to metric. Wait, this is Germany, it needs a diesel engine. Herr Hebermehl buys one from BMW and puts it into the Opel. Another beer, and the car gets a “limited slip differential from Haldex,” and as the beers start beginning to do their job, the car gets “anti-doze electronics and a blind angle warner, a lane departure prevention system and a touch screen with gesture recognition.”
Finally, the 700 words are in reach. Hebermehl calls Opel and asks assistant manager Michael Blumenstein whether his Omega concept is a good one. “No comment” says Blumenstein.
“A clear denial sounds different,” types a proud Hebermehl, and hits send. At the Auto-News offices, someone fires up Photoshop and starts to badge engineer.
Nobody in Germany copies the story. Tons of blogs in the US do. Too bad they had to get the lies second-hand from Worldcarfans. At TTAC, you get your lies straight from the source.