Tuesday quick snippets – car care edition

It seems some Hummer fans are taking a leaf out of the Saab book.

Hummer may be on its last leg at the moment, but fans of the brand aren’t going to let their favorite earth-roaming SUVs go down without a fight. Capital & Labor International Coalition, a newly-minted organization, thinks it has all the answers to the brand’s woes, and has scheduled a summit to help save Hummer here in the states on April 11.
This assemblage could be more than just a few fans with posters. CLIC has invited everyone from shareholders to Hummer’s CEO and United Auto Workers leaders. Thane Ritchie, chairman of the organization, said CLIC has taken a good hard look at the General Motors/Hummer issue and there may be another option out there other than just turning off the lights for good.
Members of the group have even invited Senator Rolland Burris (D-Illinois) to help out as well. Burris will be acting as a liaison between the coalition and the federal government, especially when it comes to getting any aid for the brand. In the meantime, the Save Hummer in America rally will be held next week in Chicago. Hey, it worked for Saab, right?

Whilst they might have themselves feeling good about having a fancy name and inviting some heavy hitters along, it’ll take more than that to make it work.
The Saab Support Convoys were a success for the sole reason that they featured “a few fans with posters”. Well, more than a few, actually. They featured around 6,000 vehicles at more than 60 rallies all around the world. That kind of spontaneous action meant some serious media coverage, and that meant GM couldn’t make a decision about Saab in the dark. People were watching.
If Hummer supporters and owners don’t get out there and support their brand, then a few heavy hitters aren’t going to amount to a hill of beans.
I actually wish them well. Whilst I wouldn’t ever want a Hummer, it was actually one of the few GM labels with a real identity that people could get passionate about. Hopefully there’s enough of them to make someone listen.
Has the Easter holiday led to you doing a little bit of car preparation for the months ahead?
I’ve used the extra days off to finally give the Monte a decent tidy up and some much needed attention.

  • I finally managed to give it only its second wash in 16 months. Yes, I’m ashamed.
  • I also reinstalled the BSR open air filter, just for fun. Sounds great, but I know I’ll tire of it eventually so it’s nice to have the Maptun performance filter to go back to.
  • I finally got around to putting on my smoked side repeaters (there was a wiring issue that prevented me from doing so earlier)
  • and some new bulbs for the headlamps.
  • I re-torqued the rear sway bar and front brace
  • The final addition involved installing some more bits from the Viggen carbon fibre interior kit that I bought last year.

Today I’ll give the leather a good conditioning, as well as cleaning up all the window glass. The car still needs a good cut and polish, but that’ll come.
I’m hoping to get the Monte out for some video later on today, so I can test the GoPro HD video camera I picked up last month.
So, did you do any Saabification this Easter?

Monday Nights Snippets – Trollhattan, Hummer and Swedish Metal

Doe Run Peru – the smelter operated by Renco and one of the primary reasons I’m concerned about them as an owner of Saab – is closing down for 90 days. This is due to ongoing uncertainty with regards to Renco’s inability to adhere to cleanup provisions, as well as weak commodity prices.
Further to James’ great letter of thanks to the people of Trollhattan, AFP have a story today about the impact that Saab’s difficult year is having on the locals there.
It’s a good read.
If you like your Swedish metal in both flavours – Saab and Volvo, then you should ckeck out the images at the following links:
Jeff attended a Saab/Volvo event at Redondo beach in southern California. There were heaps of great cars (including Walter Wong’s Sideways convertible) and just as many great people in attendance. Thanks for the heads-up, Jeff.
Also, there’s a folio of photos at Flickr that have been taken at both the Saab and Volvo museums. I’ve never seen the Volvo museum before, so it’s an interesting walk through the other Swede’s past.
Some alarming openness from Fritz Henderson when it comes to the sale of Hummer:

[Comment From Todd Lassa ]
How did a Chinese company with no prior history or experience in personal vehicle production snag the Hummer division? And can you comment on reports that the Opel-Magna deal isn’t final?
Fritz Henderson: with regard to hummer, the potential buyer sichuan tenzhong offered the best overall alternative, and we did not have broad portfolio of other buyers!

Of course, the Hummer deal is far from done just yet. Apparently the Chinese government isn’t all that happy with the idea and may veto the transaction, though I find it strange that this company could bid at all without the Chinese government’s say-so.
h/t to Autoprophet
The Chrysler/Fiat deal is also hitting a snag today, with a group of creditors appealing to the US Supreme Court in a bid to stall or even cancel the transaction. They are claiming that the deal is an improper use of TARP funds, which were earmarked for troubled assets of a different kind (mostly bad mortgages, IIRC).
If they are successful, it’ll definitely have a huge bearing on GM’s bankruptcy process.
Thanks None!
And finally, Autoblog are showing a video where Sir Sterling Moss gives a tour around his London home.
Sir Sterling is, of course, the brother to the late Pat Moss and thereby the brother-in-law of Mr Saab, Erik Carlsson.
It’s definitely worth a watch as the house is full of 1970s cool gadgetry and a modern racy elevator as well.

Sunday night snippets – MX5 in my garage edition

So………I probably overpaid for the MX-5 – a little.
I gave it a pretty thorough test drive a few weeks ago, but not long enough to get it to tell me what it told me today. As it turns out, the clutch gets a bit jiggery in first and reverse when the car is warmed up, so I might have to shell out for that quite soon.
It also ran a little hotter than expected. I got off the boat this morning and hit 110 on the highway, which is the posted speed limit here, and it nearly overheated. I slowed down to 80 to cruise to the next town, topped up the water and eventually the car was able to run at a temp that made me comfortable at 100.
The radiator fan is cutting in OK, so I’m going to put a new thermostat in tomorrow, flush the cooling system and take it for another spin.
I’m not unhappy or disappointed. Not at all. I’ll call that overpayment the price I had to pay to secure the only “smurf blue” one for sale in decent shape, with a hard-top and in a convenient location.
It’s been great fun already and will be a blast to play with. Hopefully I’ll get some better photos tomorrow, too.
As yet, I haven’t grown a snout.
I’m still eating like a pig, though.
So what do you think is the particular project being undertaken here?
The answer is after the jump……

Read moreSunday night snippets – MX5 in my garage edition

GM sell HUMMER to a Chinese company – good luck to ’em

It’s not Saab related at all, but it’s news that’s tied to everything Saab’s going through right now, so here we go…….
If you’re into sports, then you probably have a favourite team playing in whatever competition it is that you watch. For me that team is the Carlton Football Club in the australian Football League.
And if you’re sport of interest is like mine, then that particular competition will also include a team that has a …….. dare I use the word ……… nemesis.
Carlton’s arch rivals in the AFL are the Collingwood Football Club. They wear black and white stripes and are known as The Magpies (a black and white bird). A former Carlton coach admitted he used to swerve his car to try and hit magpies when he saw one by the side of the road.
Within the GM group of brands, there wasn’t one further from the Saab ethos than HUMMER. In it’s truest form, a HUMMER was massive. It was made to go over things. Anything. That Saab and HUMMER and their conflicting philosophies could come from the same parent was pretty typical of the contradiction that was GM.
Well, Saab are on their way and today, GM announced that HUMMER are already out the door, having been sold to a Chinese company.

DETROIT and SICHUAN, June 2, 2009 – Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co., Ltd (Tengzhong) and General Motors Corp. today confirmed details of their proposed transaction, pursuant to which, Tengzhong, a major industrial machinery group, will acquire the rights to the premium off-road HUMMER brand, along with a senior management and operational team.
It will also assume existing dealer agreements relating to HUMMER’s dealership network. It is contemplated that Tengzhong will, as part of the transaction, enter into a long-term contract assembly and key component and material supply agreement with GM. In an earlier statement, GM said it expects the deal if successful to secure more than 3,000 US jobs. The final terms of the deal are subject to final negotiations.
Based in the Chinese province of Sichuan, Tengzhong is a privately-owned company and a leading domestic manufacturer of road, construction and energy industry equipment. It will expand into the premium off-road vehicle segment through what will be a strategic acquisition for Tengzhong and a catalyst for HUMMER’s growth in the U.S. and around the world.

I’m guilty of having mocked HUMMER. I admit it.
I saw one in Stockholm and gave it the finger. And I was pleased to do so. I caught Saab Australia head honcho Parveen Batish turning up to a Saab event in one, and gleefully shot a photo. I rode in one myself at that same event and panned it relentlessly.
The Australian Football League wouldn’t be the same if Collingwood weren’t part of it. They may be enemies, but at least they have a rock-solid unmistakable identity.
HUMMER might be gone, but far from hoping they go under, I hope they go well.
A HUMMER might be the polar opposite to what I want in a motor vehicle but at least it has an identity. Not that GM didn’t try and water that down, too. The H1 was the real deal and the H3 was a toy car in comparison.
In a world where seemingly everything else is being dumbed down to a homogenised single design, at least the HUMMER brand has some meaning.
In fact, as I’ve said before on this site, HUMMER might have the most identifiable brand amongst the whole GM stable. It became an achilles heel for them, but at least it was something ‘pure’.
I hope Saab can regain the bits of identity they’ve lost under GM ownership. I’ve got no reason to withhold that wish from HUMMER, too.

GM Bankruptcy snippets

Some interesting tidbits from around the internets today…..
Automotive News clear some air on the bankruptcy process and Saab:

General Motors’ U.S. bankruptcy filing will not obstruct plans to sell the company’s subsidiaries in Europe — a process that is advancing while plenty of issues remain unresolved…..
…..None of GM’s operations outside the United States are included in the U.S. court filings. The company confirmed that all business operations are continuing without interruption in its regions in Europe; Latin America, Africa and the Middle East; and the Asia-Pacific…..

You can watch a reply of GM chief Fritz Henderson’s presentation at the GMTV feedroom. This includes the Q&A session where he confirms that Ripplewood and Fiat are not on the bidders list in Trollhattan.
Toward the start of his presentation, he states that a new GM will re-emerge with it’s best brand revitalised, or words to that effect.
How can a guy be so wrong and so right both at the same time?
Here’s an interesting aside – one of General Motors largest trade creditors with $33million owed is The Renco Group.
From Autoblog:

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, General Motors plans to announce a tentative sale of the Hummer brand less than a day after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Although GM won’t release the name of Hummer’s (possible) future owner(s) on Tuesday, the WSJ’s sources say that a deal could be struck by the end of the third quarter and the H2 and H3 will continue to be produced at GM’s plants in Indiana and Louisiana.

I’ve wondered for some time if Renco were also having a crack at Hummer. I guess we’ll see soon.

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