Stepped away from your Blackberry, PC, or iPad for the week? Here are a few of the top news stories for the past week and racing action you may want to tune into during your weekend.
July Sales Figures
July was another great month for auto sales. General Motors tallied a total of 125,210 units, which equates to a 25 percent increase over the same period last year. Volkswagen had a strong month, selling 23,880 units, a 16-percent increase. Ford's sales increased a modest 5 percent, with 166,092 vehicles moving off dealer lots. Chrysler, too, posted a 5-percent increase, but sold just 93,313 vehicles. Hyundai, strong as ever, recorded 54,106, a 19-percent jump. Toyota, leading the way with 169,220 sales, managed a disappointing 7-percent drop over last year.
For the full results, see our July 2010 sales results feature post.
Mid-Engine Corvette Rumors Surface Again
Practically since the Corvette was launched in 1953, rumors of a nontraditional engine location have been floating around. This time, the gossip comes from an undisclosed source at Saab, which claims that the Swedish automaker had worked on a dual-clutch transaxle, specifically designed for mid-engine applications, most likely a Corvette. The engineering work, directed toward the next-generation C7 Corvette was put on indefinite hold surrounding financial woes, but post-bankruptcy GM restarted development of the C7. The high cost of a new engine layout may have halted a mid-engine design, but we're keeping our fingers crossed. Are the rumors true?
Ford Boosts 2011 Super Duty Torque to 800 Pound-Feet
When Ford launched its new 2011 6.7-liter V-8 diesel earlier this year, it stood atop the mountain as far as power goes, boasting 390 horsepower and 735 pound-feet of torque. A few months later, General Motors fired back with its revised 6.6-liter turbocharged Duramax diesel, making 397 horsepower and 765 pound-feet of torque. Unwilling to submit, Ford reworked its engine software so that its diesel can now make 400 horsepower and 800 pound-feet of torque. Production of the upgraded engine won't leave 2011 Super Duty owners shortchanged, as Ford will offer the half-hour engine update for free.
The Highway Loss Data Institute collects information about stolen vehicles, and recently released its list of the vehicles most and least likely to be stolen. For the sixth time in the last seven reports, the Cadillac Escalade topped the list, with 1 percent of all vehicle thefts. "It speaks to the desirability of certain aspects of the Escalade," said Cadillac spokesman Nick Twork. One of the least stolen vehicles was the Volvo S80, with only one in 1000 vehicle thefts from the model; according to Volvo spokesman Dan Johnston, however, says the model is "truly worth stealing." It seems as though sedate sedans and fuel misers are relatively safe. Thieves are rather after high-dollar SUVs, horsepower, and chrome according to the HLDI.
Lexus Expands LF-A Purchase Options
Until a week ago, if you were interested in picking up Lexus' first supercar, the only option was to enter a 24-month lease program, with the option to purchase upon completion. However, Lexus has since changed its mind, and will offer financing and outright purchase availability. Continuing to spoil speculators, the Lexus dealer that sells the car will hold the right to first refusal within two years of taking delivery. Some 500 LF-As will be produced for the 2011 model year, with 150 headed to the United States. With the high demand, we don't suspect Lexus will have any trouble selling the entire lot.
-NASCAR Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at Watkins Glen International Sunday August 8 at 1 p.m. on ESPN -IndyCar Series Honda 20 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Sunday August 8 at 2:30 p.m. on Versus