Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers
GM is developing new technologies like forward-looking collision warnings and adaptive cruise-control systems that need to be tested, but the very nature of the testing could wind up with cars bounding into the backs of other cars over and over and over again. So GM has developed a special car other cars can run into with virtually no damage.
Towed behind a Suburban, the rubber car looks sort of like the back half of a Monte Carlo on a small trailer, and it's perfect for testing radar and other sensing technologies with minimal sheetmetal destruction. Of course this begs the question of why they don't just make whole cars out of rubber in the first place?
Bad Boy Focus
Ford has found itself playing catch-up to Peugeot in the World Rally Championship with its Focus WRC cars. So it has gone back to the drawing board and redesigned the competition Focus for 2003.
The new Focus RS WRC '03 is over 80 percent brand-new according to Ford. The styling has been twisted with a new rear wing and a deep front air dam to improve stability, and the body shell itself is significantly stiffer. The turbocharged 2.0L Cosworth-built Duratec four's mass has been reduced, and a new rear suspension is aboard to take advantage of the improved weight distribution.
The new car debuted at the Rally New Zealand on April 11th. Expect the Focus WRC '03 to wind up programmed into video games by the end of the year.
Singer Christina Aguilera shot a music video to promote the NBA Playoffs and we snagged this photo from the resulting PR fusillade. This gave us a chance to use the word "skanky" as a headline.
Lincoln of the Sky
The words "limited edition" have been used so often lately that it's impossible to tell when they actually indicate anything. Here, for instance, is the Lincoln Aviator Kitty Hawk Edition; a version of Lincoln's smaller SUV designed to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers' first powered flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1903. Prices start at $45,210.
What makes the Kitty Hawk Edition a Kitty Hawk Edition is a monochromatic black exterior, a rear spoiler, an "argent grille with chrome surround," chrome-tipped exhaust, special badging, special floor mats, black leather seats with black stitching, and mink zebrano wood trim on the interior.
Available in two- or all-wheel drive, the Kitty Hawk also comes with standard Lincoln stuff like 17-inch wheels, heated and cooled front seats, power adjustable foot pedals, and HID headlights. Power comes from a all-aluminum 302hp 4.6L DOHC 32-valve V-? feeding a five-speed automatic transmission.
Coincidentally, Ford is also celebrating its 100th anniversary during 2003, and it's making a big deal about the company's aviation history-including the classic Ford Tri-Motor airliner and the B-24 produced in great quantities by Ford during World War II. Ford and The Discovery Channel will present documentaries about the Wright brothers and Henry Ford's involvement with airplanes. Ford will also sponsor the "Countdown to Kitty Hawk" (www.countdowntokittyhawk.org), a program that will reenact the Wright Flyer's historic flight with the launch of an accurate reproduction at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17. That's exactly 100 years after the first flight. The reenactment will be telecast live and should be fascinating if for no other reason than that the Wright Flyer was notoriously unstable.