Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Press the electrically triggered chrome door handle and the door pops open. The sculpted one-piece leather seats are as stiff as the suspension, and you slide onto them as into a Barcelona chair. A 21st-century "shaker" looms in your view, and the rest of the hood is long and upright...you're overlooking a similar expanse of sheetmetal as in a Chrysler 300. Hit the electronic ignition button on the headliner just aft of the header, and the 5.4-liter V-8 fires up with a rumble.
The clutch is a bit heavier than a Mustang GT's, but it releases smoothly and progressively. This big sedan is easy to drive-if you're into low-riders. It bounces along the smooth test road like a candy-colored 1964 Impala on the haunches of its hydraulics. It feels like one good bump could launch it into the air. You shift cleanly into second gear, but that's all she'll show today.
Interceptor. It's just another Ford concept car. A nice piece of eye candy designed to take your attention away from the real horror story playing out in Dearborn amid collapsing sales, massive losses, and a demoralized workforce. Don't you believe it: Even as you read this, Dearborn insiders are sweating the details on a secret plan to radically change the way FoMoCo develops new cars and trucks. And the Interceptor reveals a key part of that plan.
Two things make the Interceptor important: the way it looks and the way it drives. Especially the way it drives. Ignore the fact the Interceptor rolls on a cobbled-together Mustang platform with a nonexistent show-car suspension. It's the thinking behind the car that matters. And the thinking is this: Ford wants an all-new rear-drive sedan for North America by 2011 or 2012.
Not that long ago, rear drive was on life support at Ford. The company had axed the slow-selling Lincoln LS sedan and Ford Thunderbird, both built on the expensive DEW98platform shared with the Jaguar S-Type, and announced the plants building the Lincoln Town Car, Mercury Grand, Marquis, and Ford Crown Victoria would be closed in 2010. Under this scenario (Motor Trend, August 2006), the Mustang would be the only rear-drive Ford car on sale in America by 2011.
Now, under new CEO Alan Mulally, Ford is rethinking rear drive for North America. Insiders say Mulally has looked at what GM has done to reinvent Cadillac, seen the buzz it's generated around new rear-drive cars like the Chevy Camaro, Pontiac G8, and the Chinese-market Buick Park Avenue (all based on the Australian-developed Zeta rear-drive architecture), and asked: "Why can't we do that?"
It's more than just an obvious question. It also addresses a major dilemma for two key Ford products, the Mustang and Ford Australia's Falcon. The Mustang has been a runaway hit for Ford, but by 2011 the platform will have been in production for seven years, and its live rear axle is no match for the sophisticated independent rearends under the newer Camaro and Dodge Challenger. Down in Australia, the Falcon, Ford's rear-drive rival to GM's Holden Commodore, is getting a major overhaul for 2008, but its platform dates back to 1998.
Neither platform has the volume (2006 sales totaled 160,000 Mustangs and 50,000 Falcons and variants) to justify an all-new replacement each. So Mulally has asked for a plan to bring Ford's rear-drive cars together onto a single, global vehicle architecture. That means Mustang and Falcon. And it also means potential replacements for the Lincoln Town Car, Mercury Grand Marquis, and Ford Crown Victoria. Which is where Interceptor comes in.
Read more: Click Here
Posted by Pw3680 at 1:07 AM
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
For the next season of NMRA competition Roush Performance will be building two propane-fueled Mustangs to compete. The first one being developed is a 2005 Roush Stage 3 Mustang that will be driven by Donnie Bowles with testing going this month. The second one is a 2010 Roush Stage 3 Mustang which will be driven by Susan Roush-McClenaghan, Jack Roush’s daughter. Both propane-fueled Mustangs will use a naturaly aspirated all-aluminum 5.4-liter V-8 that was originally designed for the Ford GT.
For more on these propane-fueled Mustangs check out the press release below.Press Release:
Jack Roush is highly recognized for generating horsepower and performance out of engines. Roush also has a long and successful motorsports history with the first of his numerous championships coming in drag racing. And today, Roush is finding great success in engineering, building and selling alternative fuel vehicles to the fleet markets.
So what do you get when you combine all three of these things? A pair of propane-fueled ROUSH® Mustang drag cars, ready to challenge for the NMRA championship next season.
The drag cars are an offshoot of the kits that ROUSH® Performance uses to convert gasoline-powered Ford pickups and vans to run on clean-burning propane. As a leader in the development of green technologies for the automotive industry, Roush sees several benefits in using propane as a “right here, right now” alternative fuel; he cites facts such as propane is the third most popular motor fuel (behind gasoline and diesel), and there are already more than 12 million propane-fueled vehicles on roads across the world.
On the topic of propane, Roush said, “It’s as American as NASCAR. More than 90 percent of the propane used in the United States is produced in North America, much of it from the U.S. natural gas supply. Propane has so many positive aspects and it is finally getting the recognition it deserves as an alternative fuel. Propane can help to lessen our dependence on foreign oil. Propane can help to clean up our environment. And propane can help to create new ‘Green Collar Jobs’ for displaced auto workers who can return to the lines to build alternative fuel vehicles.”
And as a green fuel, on average propane fleet vehicles reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 19 percent and create 20 percent fewer nitrogen oxides, up to 60 percent less carbon monoxide, and fewer particulate emissions, as compared to gasoline. From an economic standpoint, propane used as a motor fuel can be purchased for about one dollar per gallon with applicable federal incentives.
But, one advantage that propane has, especially in a drag racing application, is that it has an octane rating of 106 (premium unleaded is typically around 93 octane). The first car being developed is a 2005 ROUSH® Stage 3™ Mustang which will be driven by Donnie Bowles and expected to be testing in mid-November. The ROUSH® engineering team is also building a 2010 ROUSH® Stage 3™ Mustang for Susan Roush-McClenaghan which should debut in February. This is Roush’s daughter who is adding the next chapters to her father’s legendary history in drag racing.
McClenaghan finished third in the NMRA Modular Muscle class this year, with Bowles one place higher. In NMCA Open Comp competition, they switched positions with Bowles finishing the season in second and McClenaghan third so both are highly skilled pilots.
Both cars will use an all-aluminum 5.4L, V-8 Ford engine that was originally designed for the Ford GT supercar. This engine will be converted to be naturally-aspirated, the compression ratio will be altered to 12.5:1, and several other changes will be required to run on liquid propane. These include CNC ported cylinder heads, high performance camshaft and valvetrain, and a wet sump lubrication system. All these changes should help this engine generate in excess of 600 horsepower.
Despite popular misconceptions, propane is actually very safe to use as a motor fuel and has a significantly lower flammability than gasoline. It is also good in cool or hot weather making it ideal for motorsports applications.
Bowles car will be on display at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas from November 3-5. It can be seen outside at the Cruisin’ Legends lot with the Ford Mustang corral.
Based in Livonia, Mich., “The Art of Performance Engineering” takes place at ROUSH Performance. To get a look behind the scenes at what goes on at ROUSH and how the vehicles are designed, manufactured and produced logon to www.ROUSHtv.com. For more information see your local ROUSH dealer, visit www.ROUSHperformance.com or telephone toll-free (800) 59-ROUSH. Follow us on Twitter @_ROUSH_ or Facebook at www.Facebook.com/roushperformance
Source: Mustang Heaven
Posted by Pw3680 at 9:59 AM
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Small Is Good
The Ford Motor Company unveiled their 2011 Ford Fiesta at the Los Angeles Auto Show, giving small car fans something to look forward to on the domestic front. The Fiesta, a nameplate that some Americans might recall from decades ago (or more recently if they've traveled to Europe in the last few years, where the Fiesta has been a perennial hit), will go on sale next year.
Not A Carbon Copy of European Model
Despite the fact that the Fiesta has been on sale in Europe and Asia for some time, the 2011 Fiesta for North America is a decidedly different car: the exterior is tweaked and Ford claims there's only a 60% carryover from the European model. Paradoxically, this leaves a lot of enthusiasts wondering (or, hoping) that the U.S. version of the car will be similar to the European model, one that was lauded for its driving character. At this point all signs point to the two being very similar.
Ford claims the new 2011 Fiesta will achieve 40 MPG on the highway, something that will make it a near hybrid competitor (or in some cases, even better than a hybrid). The engine is, not surprisingly, a four-cylinder 1.6 liter. But what is surprising is the six-speed automatic transmission (an expensive and fuel-saving move by Ford), something that helps the Fiesta get that high mileage rating.
The Fiesta will be available in two body styles: a four-door sedan and a five-door hatchback. This configuration makes sense for the U.S. market, where smaller three-door cars tend to underperform the rest of the market.
Small But Packed With FeaturesThe interesting part about Ford's strategy for the Fiesta is that the little car will come packed with features. The car comes standard with a very nice LCD display and a push-button start mechanism. Ford' SYNC system (for audio and hands-free controls) is available, as is heated seats, heated side mirrors and a sunroof. That's more than most small cars offer.
Source: Autos AOL
Posted by Pw3680 at 2:25 AM
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Ford's big Frankfurt show splash triggers the beginning of the new, global Blue Oval. A dozen years ago, the North American Focus launched with hopes we would get a small, C-segment Ford as good as the European one. Instead, it was brought down by recall problems and lacked the European model's constant updates.
The 2011 Focus, which also underpins the C-Max and makes its debut at January's Detroit show, is different. Ford says the '11 Fiesta coming to America will share 60 to 70 percent of its parts worldwide. The '11 Focus and Focus C-Max will score more like 75- to 80-percent common parts. And suppliers to the new Focus will make the same parts and components around the world.
Europe gets both a five-passenger and a new seven-passenger C-Max, while North America is slated just for the seven-passenger C-Max, so far. There's good reason for this: Ford also will update the Escape/Mariner C-segment crossover, a big seller here but not overseas.
The U.S.-bound Focus C-Max looks much like this five-passenger model in a front-three-quarter view, but the seven-passenger model will have minivan-style sliding rear doors. It's more Mazda5 competitor than Chevy Orlando competitor.
Ford isn't talking engines, but an updated version of the current Focus' 2.0-liter four will be standard, and a new 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine will be optional in the Focus/C-Max lineup. A 2.0-liter EcoBoost four could power a hot hatch version of the Focus up to a year after the '10 launch.
Ford says it's growing its North American sub-C/D-class (Fusion/Milan/MKZ) lineup from four models (two- and four-door Focus, Escape, and Mercury Mariner) to nine: four- and five-door '11 Focus (the two-door is being cut), Focus C-Max, the Focus BEV (Ford counts its electric version as a separate car) a C-segment Mercury on the Focus platform and two '11 Fiestas, four- and five-door.
Like General Motors, Ford sees huge growth in sub-C/D cars in the coming decade. Ford and GM are selling much better-equipped compacts and four-cylinder midsize cars at higher transaction prices these days than in the recent past. This is important to Ford's strategy: Popular C-segment cars already sell for the equivalent of $25,000to $30,000 in Europe.
Read more: Motortrend
Posted by Pw3680 at 1:57 AM