Behind the Scenes in Detroit

I wouldn't think of attending the auto show in Detroit without my trusty camera and notebook to catch those precious moments that don't really qualify as "news." You know what I mean.

Chinese in the basement, part 2
One Chinese carmaker parked in Cobo Hall's basement with cars that didn't bear a striking (that is, exact) resemblance to a Toyota, a Hyundai, or a Kia was the Li Shi Guang Ming Automobile Design Company (page 24). Its logo is apparently the founder's head, which is on a business card with this quote: "From nature and the bottom of my heart." Even more bizarre, his face adorns the cars' steering wheels.

Never mind GM v. Toyota . . .
Henrik Fisker, late of Aston Martin and king of his own California-based carrozzeria, showed the swoopy Karma, a plug-in hybrid sport sedan that uses Quantum Technologies' Q-drive propulsion system.

"We've solved all the problems with batteries," claims Fisker. "We tested them for a year. We ordered 15,000 lithium-ion batteries." He just needs someone to supply a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder gas engine. And air-conditioning. And other pesky things like the inside door trim panels.

Never fear, says Fisker. "If we have to build it ourselves, we will. This is not a show car."

Chry me a river . . .
This is what happens when you put HR in charge of public relations:

Rumor #1: The former German partners of Chryslerberus are said to be a bit surprised to learn that the newly private Chrysler might not be honoring long-standing engine and transmission deals in favor of cheaper and perhaps less sophisticated alternatives.

Rumor #2: Chrysler is considering closing its museum and disbursing the collection.

Rumor #3: Freeloading auto journalists have downed their last free beers poured by famous (and former) Chrysler executives at the Chrysler-sponsored Detroit Firehouse bar after long, hard days at the auto show.

No! No! Say it ain't so!

Hey, where's the mullet?
Mitt Romney (above left) seems puzzled (or is that saddened?) to see that Ford's North American boss, Mark Fields (right) has shorn his longtime, beloved mullet. Ex-Jersey boy Fields has been hounded by the press, and even by his own public relations team, to update his otherwise perfect head of hair. He once remarked to the press, "God forbid I would get rid of my mullet." It's finally over. Leave the man alone.


We "herd" there's a stray Ram in here somewhere . . .
The hero of the overexcited new Dodge Ram launch out in front of Cobo Arena - featuring cowboys, horses, and longhorns flown in from Oklahoma - wasn't the former Chrysler PR executive who arranged this stunt before he left the company. It was president Jim Press, who casually dismissed the live televised mass humpage going on behind his presentation as the natural act it was.

Our very own Miss America
My husband, Tim, spied a bevy of Michigan beauty queens gracing a Wall Street Journal party. "Take my picture with these lovely ladies," he said. "Leave those women alone," I replied. The one with the tiara - Miss Michigan Kirsten Haglund - said, "Oh, it's OK. We don't mind."


Doesn't he look happy? And wasn't he hounding me for this photo when he opened the paper this morning and discovered that Kirsten is the newly crowned Miss America?

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