Every time Chrysler workers get busted for drinking and smoking pot during their lunch breaks, we tend to get one of two reactions from the B&B: either the lunchtime partying is emblematic of the entitlement of all union workers, or it happens at every plant in the US but Chrysler just got unlucky enough to get caught. But this is the third scandal since last September involving Chrysler workers consuming drugs and alcohol on camera ( twice at Jefferson North, now in Trenton), and (as far as I can tell) no other company has suffered similar embarrassment.
So I want the convenient generalizations put aside for a moment: clearly this is not a union problem or an American worker problem or even an auto workers-in-general problem… at this point it’s a Chrysler problem. But why? Does Chrysler have lower morale, worse union locals, insufficient training and accountability, or is the media simply targeting it? Someone’s got to get to the bottom of this before Chrysler becomes a complete laughing stock… so let’s hear your (constructive) thoughts. Oh, and ideas for actually fixing the problem (Chrysler has already announced suspensions) probably wouldn’t hurt either.
The confrontation between modern, Western societies and deeply traditional lifestyles in Afghanistan creates a healthy supply of fascinating car stories, as we’ve already heard about such uniquely Afghan manifestations of car culture as the Taliban’s Toyota Hilux-inspired maple leaf tattoos. And now here’s another one, fresh off the Reuters wire: Afghans are reportedly in a tizzy over (get this) license plates containing the number 39. Yes, really.
Afghanistan’s booming car sales industry has been thrown into chaos by a growing aversion to the number “39”, which almost overnight has become an unlikely synonym for pimp and a mark of shame in this deeply conservative country.
Drivers of cars with number plates containing 39, bought before the once-harmless double digits took on their new meaning, are mocked and taunted across Kabul.
“Now even little kids say ‘look, there goes the 39’. This car is a bad luck, I can’t take my family out in it,” said Mohammad Ashraf who works for a United Nations project.
Other “39” owners flew into a rage or refused to speak when asked whether their car was a burden.
The Guardian adds:
I did not think it would matter when I got my car,” said Zalmay Ahmadi, a 22-year-old business student. “But when I drive around all the other cars flash their lights, beep their horns and people point at me. All my classmates now call me Colonel 39.”
We’ve heard of huge demand for certain-numbered license plates before, such as the craze in Arab countries for the lowest possible license number… but we’ve never heard of a taboo number when it comes to license plates. So what gives?
Don’t blame Jerry Hirsch for this headline. Heck, don’t blame the LA Times either. This headline comes courtesy of the Modesto Bee, which demonstrates its auto reporting incompetence by making the oldest assumption in the non-car-guy book: if they make V6 and V8 engines, they must make V4s as well. And though this abject ignorance may be good for a chuckle, it’s indicative of a larger problem: no matter how good of an auto writer you are, chances are you have to send your piece through an editor who knows little to nothing about cars.
Are Audi’s Mad Men missing Bertel’s services? They must be, as the Detroit Free Press reports that Eminem’s licensing firm has filed a motion in German court seeking to ban this advertisement. Joel Martin, manager of Eight Mile Style, tells the Freep that Audi did not license the Eminem song “Lose Yourself,” adding
It’s stunning. What makes it extraordinary is the similarity to the way Chrysler is using (the song). We saw it and said, “This has got to be a joke.”
At this point Audi’s only statement on the matter comes from its US operations, which simply notes that the A6 Avant will not be marketed here. “This has got to be a joke,” sure seems to sum the situation up…
Ladies and gentlemen, today is a historic day for the Aston-Martin brand. Never in the rich and storied history of the British sportscar maker has there ever been a vehicle, and therefore a review, quite like this one. Autocar handles the burden of history with the soft touch that defines nearly every “first drive” review, demeaning its own readers’ inability to purchase this exclusive Aston rather than daring to question its point, purpose, performance or purchase price. So read on, dear reader… because what we have here is a piece of automotive history. And since you’ll never own one of these proud and noble machines, you might as well use this opportunity to bask in its reflected glory. To wit:
The 97bhp four-cylinder engine feels and sounds energetic up to 50-60 mph. The optional CVT transmission gives easy step-off at traffic lights. In this car it it’s a much better option in a city car than any fiddly five-speeder.
The [Aston-Martin] can produce a quite refined cruising performance on motorways if necessary, though passing performance isn’t its forte.
The steering is feather-light and nicely accurate. If you haven’t sampled [this Aston-Martin] you’ll be surprised by the sheer pleasure that flows from using its scooter-like turning circle, especially when it’s a viable three-seater, that can occasionally cope with four if you don’t mind having no boot space.
But wait… that’s not all! Hit the jump for the answer to the question you’re doubtless asking yourself at precisely this moment: Should I buy one?
Under the terms of its contract with the US Treasury, Fiat will get an additional five percent of Chrysler Group’s equity when it builds a 40 MPG (CAFE, not EPA, so actually about 30 MPG) vehicle in the US. But it turns out that Dodge already sells a car that might qualify… unfortunately, Dodge doesn’t actually build it, offer it in the US, or, starting with the 2012 model year, even bother to rebadge the thing. That’s right, you’re looking at a 2012 Hyundai Dodge Attitude… the only non-red, and one of the only non-Dodge-branded car in the brand’s Mexican lineup [the Hyundai Atos and H100 “Ram Van” are also badged with the Korean brand’s “H.”
Elvis Presley famously bought (and gave away) Cadillacs, lots of them. One of the first cars he bought after his first success with Sun Records was a 1955 Caddy, which caught fire and burned up out while on tour. Around that same time he bought Sun owner Sam Phillips a Cadillac as well. He bought a 1955 Fleetwood 60 Special and had it custom painted pink for his mother, Gladys, but she never drove it. There’s even a web site devoted just to Elvis’ Cadillacs. though he had at least a couple of notable Lincolns including a ’55 Continental that Ford had customized by Hess & Eisenhardt, the same company that made presidential limos. That web site documents about 30 Cadillacs known to be owned by the King, along with at least a score of Caddys that he gifted to friends and associates. The Cadillac fit Elvis’ image. They were big, bold, brash and fast. That big white Cadillac hearse that the king of rock and roll took for his last ride seemed particularly fitting. All it was missing were rhinestones. That’s why it’s a bit surprising to find out that Elvis owned and drove a tiny three-wheeler Messerschmitt micro car, and he owned it right around the time he couldn’t help falling in love with the much bigger Cadillacs.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has spent much time and many rubles trying to turn around his nation’s struggling automakers, particularly AvtoVAZ, the makers of the infamous Lada brand. Putin is, after all, a deep believer in the national importance of automaking… which is why he drives a Lada himself. But Putin is also shrewd enough to know that automotive patriotism can have some nasty side effects, which is why his Lada has had its engine discretely swapped for an Opel mill. But apparently Putin hasn’t learned to completely insulate himself from the embarrassment that the Russian auto industry appears to manufacture with at least as much efficiency as it manufactures cars. At the launch of something called the Lada Granta, Putin’s struggles to even start the car were caught on video and posted at Jalopnik. The Moscow Times makes no reference to the humiliating episode, but mentions that Putin hinted darkly to the assembled journalists that the Granta’s trunk could fit “easily take two sacks of potatoes.” If you know what he means… and trust me, anyone who’s been to Tolyatti before does.
The Washington Post‘s Paul Duggan blogs that Charlie Sheen arrived late to his Washington DC show after being escorted by local police officers at speeds of at least 80 MPH, an incident the actor documented in the tweet shown above. And lest TTAC be accused of pandering to lowest-common-denominator Charlie Sheen voyeurism, Duggan teases an interesting question out of the situation: can just anyone get a police escort and drive legally at illegal speeds? Hit the jump for your answer…
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