News Briefs August 2005

* Bucking the metal-roof trend, Audi will continue to use cloth roofs on all of its future droptops, including the A3 cabrio, which could look like these drawings when it arrives in 2007. Based on the next-generation A3, it will feature a clever double-hinged trunk lid. Besides the base car, a hot S3 version is planned.

* After thirty months on the road, drivers Michael Groves and Sandy Methven should soon conclude a sixty-country, 93,000-plus-mile trek behind the wheel of a 6x6 Land Rover Defender that they built specially for their round-the-world trip. Visit the travelers' online journal at www.expeditionoverland.com.

* TWM Performance, a Canadian aftermarket parts company, recently offered for sale on eBay a $75,000 pure platinum shifter knob. It sold with one bid.

* Visionary Vehicles founder and CEO Malcolm Bricklin has backed down from his plans to stick with the name "Chery" for the vehicles from Chinese carmaker Chery Automotive, which he plans to import to the States beginning in 2007. Bricklin's retreat comes after General Motors vowed to sue Visionary because "Chery" sounds too much like "Chevy." No word yet what badge Bricklin's Chinese imports will wear, but you can probably rule out "CMC."

* American tennis star Andy Roddick has become the first celebrity to ink an endorsement contract with Lexus. Roddick sports the Japanese brand's logo on his sleeve during matches and appears in Lexus advertising; he also enjoys the use of a personal vehicle.

* General Motors recently bumped up Buick's bumper-to-bumper warranty to four years or 50,000 miles for 2006 models. Buick vehicles were previously backed by a warranty that covered three years or 36,000 miles.

* If you've always wanted your incoming calls announced by the sound of a revving Corvette engine with a high-performance Corsa exhaust system, look no further than www.zingy.com--as long as you have Cingular, T-mobile, or Verizon service.

* Unconfirmed reports say that Chrysler will build a version of the Dodge Durango, for sale sometime in 2006. The Chrysler sport-ute will reportedly, er, recall an infamous name from Dodge's past, Aspen, also a Colorado locale. Look for the snowstorm to hit at the Detroit show in January.

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