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Car Craft Automotive News - 'Straight Scoop

By Tori Tellem, Photography by Drew Hardin, Courtesy Geico, Courtesy Mattel, LCPL Cory Yenter, USMC Department Of Defense

Guys Who Design Cars Design Toys
What took them so long to come up with this? Hot Wheels' people thought outside the toy box to celebrate the brand's 40th anniversary by holding the first-ever Designer's Challenge. Automakers were invited to design die-casts that not only look cool, but can also complete a loop on the Hot Wheels orange track. Dodge, Ford, GM, Honda, Lotus, and Mitsubishi took on the deed. Their winning designs will be on sale in the spring.

Magnum, but not magnum opus.>

Chrysler has killed the Dodge Magnum and the PT Cruiser convertible (the hardtop is still breathing), as well as the underrated Crossfire. The official line was that the triple homicide "allows us to focus our resources on new, more profitable and appealing products." Hemi Challengers, maybe?

People and their engine.>

Boss 500 Drag Racing Engine
John Force Racing and Ford have developed the Boss 500. The 500ci nitro engine has Ford main bearings that you can order right out of the Ford catalog; the valve covers are supposed to make you think vintage Ford Boss motor. Ford says the plan is for the new Ford Mustang driver to run the engine in 2008 as it goes through development, then John and Ashley Force will be among those trying it out next. Fun fact for technogeeks: The drag racing mill was designed via analytical tools.

Colored thingies.>

Ford Gets Very Serious About . . . Paint
"Ford is planning its biggest paint changeover in company history," is what the Blue Oval said. Sheesh. They can make anything sound important. The automaker promises that by 2009, 45 percent of Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury vehicles will feature new paint colors. We were hoping Ford would go all Harry Potter on us-Earwax Clearcoat, Booger Metallic, Sausage-but among the new shades are the tamer Grabber Orange, White Chocolate, and Kiwi Green. By the way, Ford says its research has uncovered that 40 percent of consumers will head to another brand if they can't find the color they want. At least consumers have their priorities straight.

Such a tease, we put a dollar under its wiper.>

'08 Concept 'Cuda
Tasty! We spotted this car at the '07 SEMA show, and like every other enthusiast there, we immediately had to start thinking about baseball and cold showers. As cool as it is, the bummer is that it's not actually a concept from Chrysler, but a privately owned car. It includes a 6.1L Hemi, a Pistol Grip shifter, a lowered suspension (1.5 inches in front, 2 in back), Pirelli PZero rubber (265/35ZR22 at the front end, 305/35ZR22 at the other), Zenetti 22-inch wheels, and six-piston Brembo brakes. The interior is inspired by the Charger SRT8. And that's a carbon-fiber body. How likely is it to see production? Not. But all the drooling reiterated to Dodge folks that the Challenger is the absolute right thing to build.

By Tori Tellem
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