A Dash of Rainbow
The all-new '05 Mustang will be here shortly, and while most of the car is still under wraps, Ford has leaked out photos of the multicolor dashboard with which it will be equipped.
Mustang owners will be able to choose exactly the color of instrumentation lighting, ranging from flat white to vivid blue, green, or red. Also note the throwback instrumentation including the gauges clustered between the tach and speedometer.
It's just a glimpse of the production car, but it's a tantalizing one.
Racecar of the Month
The Parnelli Jones and Bill Stroppe "Big Oly" Bronco
Off-road racing was a purely funky affair in the '60s and early '70s. A driver could enter everything from crusted-over Edsels to motorhomes in races like the Baja 1000, and the winners would often be driving some homebuilt machine. Then came the Big Oly Bronco-a real race machine that revolutionized off-roading.
Parnelli Jones, whose storied driving career includes winning the '63 Indy 500, had been introduced to off-road racing during the late '60s but found the stock-based, four-wheel-drive vehicles of the time didn't respond to his aggressive driving style. So enrolling fabricators at Bill Stroppe's Long Beach, California, race facility, he decided to build a two-wheel-drive, tube-frame '69 Ford Bronco that could, it was hoped, even beat the motorcycles running in off-road events.
Using a Twin-I-Beam front suspension, a fiberglass Bronco body subtly channeled 3 inches, a massive wing built atop the rollcage, and a 351 V-8, the "Big Oly" (Olympia beer was the major sponsor) Bronco dominated both the '71 and '72 Baja 1000s and ran consistently well in almost every other race it entered. This was the way off-road race machines should have been built, and extensive suspension developments over the years have made current off-road race vehicles a study in engineering excellence.
A Smaller Better Hummer
The Hummer H2 has been at least two things since its introduction: (1.) a lightning rod for environmentalists convinced that SUVs are a threat to the Earth, and (2.) an amazingly popular machine that's sold in huge, profitable numbers for GM. Can what comes after the H2 be, if not popular with environmentalists, at least less antagonistic towards them while still bringing in throngs of buyers attracted by the vehicle's marauding attitude? We'll find out when the H3T, shown in concept form at the '04 Greater Los Angeles Auto Show, goes on sale in a coupe of years.
Built atop the basic structure of the new Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon midsize pickup, beyond its Hummer family styling, it features neat plucks like side access doors for the bed, dropdown assist steps which become storage bins when the gate is closed, a folding power canvas sunroof, and dropdown rear window. Of course it has four-wheel drive, and power comes from a turbocharged, 350hp version of the Colorado's Vortec 3500, 3.5L, DOHC, 20-valve inline-five with variable valve timing.
The turbocharged five may sound too radical for production, but Saab will be selling a version of the Trailblazer SUV next year and turbocharging is a tradition with that manufacturer. Also, turbocharging for truck use has come a long way thanks to the battle for diesel supremacy, and GM is claiming a stunning 474 lb-ft of peak torque for this engine at a reasonably low 3,600 rpm. If the blown five happens at all, it's likely to go in that Saab and the H3T to differentiate them in the market place.