Here’s a great story from CNN in October 2012. Two years ago Kathryn DiMaria, then aged 12, told her parents she wanted to rebuild a car. Not just buy one, but rebuild one to drive when she turns 16. And with her own money. Her car of choice: a high-mileage Pontiac Fiero, and one that needed major restoration. $450 later, and after a short drive home, her journey began.
Her family is involved with showing her how to do the technical work, but she is doing it herself. She also has a legion of followers online, offering her advice when needed.
This is a story of strong motivation and solid values. Also family – both her own and the online Fiero community.
Read the CNN article here: http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/24/tech/girl-builds-fiero/index.html
Read the story in her own words on the Fiero forum: http://www.fiero.nl/forum/Forum1/HTML/085309.html
See her video:
The September 2012 Cars and Coffee found us staring – at a V-8 engine swap in a Fiero. We like swaps, and any kind of swap fascinates us. We’d seen one other V-8 Fiero conversion before, quickly, but now we had the opportunity to look one over in more detail.
As you may recall, Pontiac built the Fiero from 1984 to 1988, ending production just after just after significantly updating the suspension and brakes for 1988 but without fixing the breakage-prone fuel tank. The Fiero was originally equipped with a 2.5 liter PV “Iron Duke”, or the corporate 2.8 liter OHV V-6. Given those meager engines, swaps are popular. Period GM Quad-4 and DOHC 3.4 liter V-6 engines are easy swaps. But the hot ticket came when Fiero enthusiasts discovered that the classic small block Chevy V-8 can also be made to fit.
V-8 conversions are more popular than you might think. Here’s one company: V-8 Archie. Archie has V-8 swap experience dating to 1986 (2500 kits sold), and a wealth of parts including big brake kits and a 6-speed manual transmission conversion. Archie supplies a video tape with his conversion kit, but is so confident of his record that he has two detailed documents on his site here and here.
It always pays to have your camera handy when you are out and about. This time we caught a V-8 Fiero, something we’d heard about but not see in person. There are very few clean Fieros still on the road, and this is one of the absolute best. Because being clean, and cleanly modified with some good suspension work, it’s also got a very nicely done 350 Chevy swap. The transmission is a factory Getrag, with a custom adapter to mate it to the engine, accounting for bolt pattern and input shaft length.
ASC has a Trans Am concept that may go into limited production. With Pontiac eliminated, it probably makes even more sense now to build this for enthusiasts and collectors. And the car is reasonably handsome and logically laid out. Although we believe the headlamps should be round since the front end is styled after the earlier 71-73 models rather than the late models with their rectangular units.
Given the state of the economy, it’s probably unlikely that we’ll ever see these. But, who knows, the new Camaro is becoming very popular with customizers and anything that sets it apart like this could work.
Yes, it’s Smokey and the Bandit – a terrible film that… somehow actually worked out well. Burt Reynolds and long time pal Jerry Reed were at their peak. Gleason went over the top with a very politically-incorrect performance that finally tires the audience. And of course Sally Fields was a sweetheart. The film was extremely popular, and originally grossed approx. $66M dollars. The total gross has risen since then to over double that. Sequels Smokey and the Bandit 2 and 3 were so unbelievably terrible that we won’t mention them here. Just remember the first and the best. Here’s the original trailer:
Our notes from the GM Press Conference 9:00-10:00 A.M. Eastern April 27, 2009.
Sections of particular interest to enthusiasts are highlighted in bold maroon:
- Point is to win, not just to survive
- Hummer, Saab, Saturn – “not expect” to build those products past 2009
- Phase out Pontiac brand by “no later than 2010″. “Painful”
- Brands work by “offense” not “defense”
- Key: how do we WIN with 4 core brands: strong engineering and marketing budgets. “Great products”
- Reduce dealers from 6246 (end of 2008) to 3605 by end of 2010
- Brands, nameplates, expectations for the market drives the # of plants
- Powertrain, stamping, assembly: drop from 47 to 34 plants by 2010 – need to load plants the right way. Plants will use flexible system to help respond to the market. Will notify people by early May exactly who those plants are.
- Labor costs and footprint still need to be negotiated with the UAW, as well as VEBA.
- Plan is based on 10M US market instead of 15-17M units.
- If the restructuring cannot be accomplished thru this process, then it will be “in the courts” (aka bankruptcy)
Answers to press questions:
- “Going to go deeper” thru month of may in whitecollar job cuts: simpler and leaner organization
- Will begin notifying dealers this month. will be accomplished no later than 2010.
- Opel – in talks with German Gov’t
- Delphi must be resolved by end of month of May
- Thinks GM will remain a global corporation, but the nature of those global relationships will change
- Saturn has several bids under consideration (reasonable likelihood that sale will be negotiated). Phase out of production by end of 2009. Possible that some might be guilt by GM, but nothing is on the table that is acceptable to GM.
- Saab: Swedish business remains in reorganization. Any buyer will likely want US distribution. Could anticipate building Saabs in international plants. Might consider providing parts.
- Doesn’t make any business sense to loose Buick and GMC – they are successful and profitable.
- Chevrolet is sold in Europe by GM Daewoo – for eastern Europe and Russia – is very successful so there is a direct presence in Europe other than Opel. Opel likely to move form 100% owner to somewhat less, as is GM Korea. Would not impact global powertrain sharing, for example.
- In response to a question from an Australian journalist: the G8 from Pontiac will be phased out. Inventory will be sold down by the end of this year. GM cannot invest the marketing that is needed to be successful here.
- Solstice and Vibe will not live on in any other form or brand. GM still needs to engage on Toyota as to what happens to NUMI (joint venture). Last Saturn will be built in 2009.
- Fritz’s theory is that big is only good if it can be used to advantage. Vision is to stay global, although nature of that will change. GM is good as a company at partnerships and can work collaboratively. Look at Shanghai. Will be focused, rather than spreading resources across too many things.
- Total funding requirement from the Gov’t is still within the $30B plan outlined on the Feb 17th plan.
- Believe they would turn profitable in 2010
- Fritz anticipates that Treasury will accept this plan
- Vauxhall (UK) will not change – very successful and good dealers. Chevrolet in Europe will be entry level brand, Opel/Vauxhall mid-level, Cadillac perhaps a high-end brand although he anticipates that volume staying very low. Saab would be the high-end brand if it survives in Europe (only).
- Doesn’t think a Chrysler bankruptcy will happen – they will work thru it.
- Scale has never been GM’s weakness – but they do need to convert that scale into business success. They are not and will not be focused on shear volume.
- Bankruptcy is now a question of whether they are successful in the bond exchange program or not. It is a “tough task”.
- Has a contingency plan where bankruptcy would not hurt the international operations. Bankruptcy proceedings can be structured to have no international impact.
- More to say about how the executive team will run the company – and who will be on it - over the next month.
GM has released a summary of it’s press conference an hour before the conference began. The news is (as rumored throughout the weekend) that Pontiac will be eliminated, and the restructuring plan will be accelerated.
GM Press Release below. We have highlighted certain parts in bold maroon.
Updated Viability Plan Speeds, Deepens Restructuring of U.S. Operations
DETROIT— General Motors (NYSE: GM) today presented an updated Viability Plan that will speed the reinvention of GM’s U.S. operations into a leaner, more customer-focused, and more cost-competitive automaker.
The Viability Plan is included in an exchange offer whereby GM is offering certain bondholders shares of GM common stock and accrued interest in exchange for certain outstanding notes.
Revised Viability Plan goes further and faster
The Viability Plan announced today builds on the February 17 Viability Plan submitted to the U.S. Treasury. The revised Plan accelerates the timeline for a number of important actions and makes deeper cuts in several key areas of GM’s operations, with the objective to make us a leaner, faster, and more customer-focused organization going forward.
Significant changes include:
- A focus on four core brands in the U.S. – Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC – with fewer nameplates and a more competitive level of marketing support per brand.
- A more aggressive restructuring of GM’s U.S. dealer organization to better focus dealer resources for improved sales and customer service.
- Improved U.S. capacity utilization through accelerated idling and closures of powertrain, stamping, and assembly plants.
- Lower structural costs, which GM North America (GMNA) projects will enable it to breakeven (on an adjusted EBIT basis) at a U.S. total industry volume of approximately 10 million vehicles, based on the pricing and share assumptions in the plan. This rate is substantially below the 15 to 17 million annual vehicle sales rates recorded from 1995 through 2007.
“We are taking tough but necessary actions that are critical to GM’s long-term viability,” said Fritz Henderson, GM president and CEO. “Our responsibility is clear – to secure GM’s future – and we intend to succeed. At the same time, we also understand the impact these actions will have on our employees, dealers, unions, suppliers, shareholders, bondholders, and communities, and we will do whatever we can to mitigate the effects on the extended GM team.”
Fewer U.S. brands, nameplates, and dealers
As part of the revised Viability Plan and the need to move faster and further, GM in the U.S. will focus its resources on four core brands, Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC. The Pontiac brand will be phased out by the end of 2010. GM will offer a total of 34 nameplates in 2010, a reduction of 29 percent from 48 nameplates in 2008, reflecting both the reduction in brands and continued emphasis on fewer and stronger entries. This four-brand strategy will enable GM to better focus its new product development programs and provide more competitive levels of market support.
The revised plan moves up the resolution of Saab, Saturn, and Hummer to the end of 2009, at the latest. Updates on these brands will be provided as these initiatives progress.
Working with its dealers, GM anticipates reducing its U.S. dealer count from 6,246 in 2008 to 3,605 by the end of 2010, a reduction of 42 percent. This is a further reduction of 500 dealers, and four years sooner, than in the February 17 Plan. The goal is to accomplish this reduction in an orderly, cost-effective, and customer-focused way. This reduction in U.S. dealers will allow for a more competitive dealer network and higher sales effectiveness in all markets. More details on these initiatives will be provided in May.
Sales volume and market share projections
The Viability Plan anticipates improved financial results despite more conservative U.S. sales volume expectations going forward. The lower volume expectations are the result of managing the business with fewer nameplates and dealers, leaner inventories, and reduced market share. To address the inventory issue, GM on April 23 announced U.S. production schedule reductions of approximately 190,000 vehicles during the second and early third quarters of 2009.
The Viability Plan also reduces GM’s market share projections to adjust for the impact of the brand and dealer consolidation, as well as for the short-term impact of speculation regarding a GM bankruptcy. The plan assumes a 19.5 percent share in 2009, with share stabilizing in the 18.4 to 18.9 percent range in subsequent years.
“We have strong new product coming for our four core brands: the Chevrolet Camaro, Equinox, Cruze and Volt; Buick LaCrosse; GMC Terrain; and Cadillac SRX and CTS Sport Wagon and Coupe,” said Henderson. “A tighter focus by GM and its dealers will help give these products the capital investment, marketing and advertising support they need to be truly successful.”
Lower structural costs, lower breakeven point
The Viability Plan also lowers GMNA’s breakeven volume to a U.S. annual industry volume of 10 million total vehicles, based on the pricing and share assumptions in the plan. This lower breakeven point (at an adjusted EBIT level) better positions GM to generate positive cash flow and earn an adequate return on capital over the course of a normal business cycle, a requirement set forth by the U.S. Treasury in its March 30 viability plan assessment.
GM will lower its breakeven point by cutting its structural costs faster and deeper than had previously been planned:
- Manufacturing: Consistent with the mandate to accelerate restructuring, we plan to reduce the total number of assembly, powertrain, and stamping plants in the U.S. from 47 in 2008 to 34 by the end of 2010, a reduction of 28 percent, and to 31 by 2012. This would reflect the acceleration of six plant idling/closures from the February 17 plan, and one additional plant idling. Throughout this transition, GM will continue to implement its flexible global manufacturing strategy (GMS), which allows multiple body styles and architectures to be built in one plant. This enables GM to use its capital more efficiently, increase capacity utilization, and respond more quickly to market shifts.
- Employment: U.S. hourly employment levels are projected to be reduced from about 61,000 in 2008 to 40,000 in 2010, a 34 percent reduction, and level off at about 38,000 starting in 2011. This further planned reduction of an additional 7,000 to 8,000 employees from the February 17 Plan is primarily the result of the previously discussed operational efficiencies, nameplate reductions, and plant closings. GM also anticipates a further decline in salaried and executive employment as it continues to assess its structure and execute the Viability Plan. More details will be announced as soon as they are finalized with the various stakeholders.
- Labor costs: The Viability Plan assumes a reduction of U.S. hourly labor costs from $7.6 billion in 2008 to $5 billion in 2010, a 34 percent reduction. GM will continue to work with its UAW partners to accomplish this through a reduction in total U.S. hourly employment as well as through modifications in the collective bargaining agreement.
As a result of these and other actions, GMNA’s structural costs are projected to decline 25 percent, from $30.8 billion in 2008 to $23.2 billion in 2010, a further decline of $1.8 billion by 2010 versus the February 17 Plan.
Strengthening GM’s balance sheet
Another key element of GM’s restructuring will be taking the necessary actions to strengthen its balance sheet. GM today took an important step in improving its balance sheet by launching a bond exchange offer for approximately $27 billion of its unsecured public debt. If successful, the bond exchange would result in the conversion of a large majority of this debt to equity.
“A stronger balance sheet would free the company to invest in the products and technologies of the future,” Henderson said. “It will also help provide stability and security to our customers, our dealers, our employees, and our suppliers.”
Another important part of improving the balance sheet will be the ongoing discussions with the UAW to modify the terms of the Voluntary Employee Benefit Association (VEBA), and with the U.S. Treasury regarding possible conversion of its debt to equity. The current bond exchange offer is conditioned on the converting to equity of at least 50 percent of GM’s outstanding U.S. Treasury debt at June 1, 2009, and at least 50 percent of GM’s future financial obligations to the new VEBA. GM expects a debt reduction of at least $20 billion between the two actions.
In total, the U.S. Treasury debt conversion, VEBA modification and bond exchange could result in at least $44 billion in debt reduction.
Throughout the Plan, GM will continue to make significant investment in future products and new technologies, with an investment of $5.4 billion in 2009, and investments ranging from $5.3 to $6.7 billion from 2010 to 2014. Very importantly, development and testing of the Chevy Volt extended-range electric car remains on track for start of production by the end of 2010 and arrival in Chevrolet dealer showrooms soon thereafter.
“The Viability Plan reflects the direction of President Obama and the U.S. Treasury that GM should go further and faster on our restructuring,” Henderson said. “We appreciate their support and direction. This stronger, leaner business model will enable GM to keep doing what it does best – provide great new cars, trucks and crossovers to our customers, and continue to develop new advanced propulsion technologies that are vital for our country’s economy and environment.”
# # #
About GM –General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM), one of the world’s largest automakers, was founded in 1908, and today manufactures cars and trucks in 34 countries. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 243,000 people in every major region of the world, and sells and services vehicles in some 140 countries. In 2008, GM sold 8.35 million cars and trucks globally under the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, Hummer, Opel, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn, Vauxhall and Wuling. GM’s largest national market is the United States, followed by China, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Canada, Russia and Germany. GM’s OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. More information on GM can be found at www.gm.com.
Forward-Looking Statements –In this press release and in related comments by our management, our use of the words “plan,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “ensure,” “promote,” “believe,” “improve,” “intend,” “enable,” “continue,” “will,” “may,” “would,” “could,” “should,” “project,” “positioned” or similar expressions is intended to identify forward-looking statements that represent our current judgment about possible future events. We believe these judgments are reasonable, but these statements are not guarantees of any events or financial results, and our actual results may differ materially due to a variety of important factors. Among other items, such factors might include: our ability to comply with the requirements of our credit agreement with the U.S. Treasury; our ability to execute the restructuring plans that we have disclosed, our ability to maintain adequate liquidity and financing sources and an appropriate level of debt; the ability of our foreign subsidiaries to restructure and receive financial support from their local governments or other sources; our ability to restore consumers’ confidence in our viability and to continue to attract customers, particularly for our new products; our ability to sell, spin-off or phase out some of our brands, to manage the distribution channels for our products, and to complete other planned asset sales; and the overall strength and stability of general economic conditions and of the automotive industry, both in the U.S. and globally.
Our most recent reports on SEC Forms 10-K, 10-Q and 8-K provide information about these and other factors, which may be revised or supplemented in future reports to the SEC on those forms.
Some smart webmaster has jumped right in and created a forum for the new Pontiac G8 (demonstrating yet again how easy it is to setup a board powered by vBulletin). Follow the link to the new site.
The Pontiac G8 is actually an Australian Holden with some minor changes for the US Market. Unlike the poorly done Pontiac GTO, the G8 was designed from the start to be exported and it doesn’t suffer from the types of compromises and limitations that hobbled the GTO. And it’s on an all-new platform, not a recycled one that had been around for 15 years (which we’d seen before as the Catera!).
Pontiac enthusiasts can also visit the “Pontiac Underground” site here: http://pontiacunderground.autos.yahoo.com/
Remember the Pontiac Solstice with the Z06 engine – the Hot Rod magazine project car? It’s touring the country now, and some people have caught it on video: