There were shockwaves in Detroit last week after Jack Tungsten, GM's Vice Executive Deputy Chairman of Brand Strategy & Management, sent out an urgent command to his staff, ordering them to find out what exactly 'a SAAB' was. The senior manager was apparently perplexed after seeing the word on an internal document along with a note explaining that GM owned this so-called 'SAAB' and had done for several years. "What the hell is 'a SAAB'?" the gnarly old car boss bellowed from his top floor office in GM HQ, "Anyone know? What does it mean? What does it stand for?" he hollered, finally adding in frustration, "Is there anyone in the world who knows what 'SAAB' is all about?" Tragically, there isn't. Tungsten immediately dispatched his staff to investigate this mysterious 'SAAB'. Within hours they had returned with several possible solutions, including the suggestions that 'SAAB' was a low-cost furniture store or perhaps a four piece beat combo specialising in guitar and keyboard-based pop hits. One thing was certain; the 'SAAB' seemed to be Swedish. "Damn those Scandinavians," Tungsten was heard to mutter having assembled five items of flat pack furniture and listened to six hours of melodic, if lyrically sometimes weak, up-tempo pop, all in the name of research. "Those blonde bastards sure love their four letter acronyms," he added. As Sniff Petrol went to press the GM team were no closer to finding out exactly what 'SAAB' was, never mind resolving what they were going to do with it, if they found out. We tried to contact 'SAAB' for ourselves but somehow ended up talking to Bjorn Borg. "Do you like movies?" the tennis star asked. "I'm not wearing any pants," he added cheekily before Sniff Petrol put the phone down and went to hide in the other room.
These people are not 'SAAB'
Nor is this. Look, it's spelt differently and everything.
VW DIESEL ENGINE 'TOO TORQUEY' SAY ENVIRONMENTALISTS
Environmental agencies have issued a warning to Volkswagen this week following news of an experimental diesel engine which is alleged to be 'too torquey'. Some bloke from Greenpeace was just one of those adding blather to the whinge pile: "If reports are true, this new engine could have dire global implications." he said, "We understand that this latest development has so much torque that any car it's fitted to will remain static and the entire earth will be rotated underneath it. That could be disastrous, especially if two cars so equipped want to drive in different directions or something."
A VW person was quick to rebuff these claims: "It is true that we have a development of our
Some torque, yesterday
new V10 twin-turbo PD TDi but this is purely experimental. Frankly we can't shift out of first yet without knackering the gearbox. Mind you, we might just leave it in sixth and let the torque do the work." If the engine were to enter production it's sure to be popular with economy fiends, offering a potential 593mpg on the combined cycle.
"Bugger" said a spokeman for OPEC.
WE WANT A SUPERCAR TOO WAILS SKODA
How the new Skoda supercar might look
(photo: Auto Bilg)
No sooner has Volkswagen confirmed it is to produce a 600bhp, 220mph supercar, than workers at Skoda's Czech Republic plant have threatened imminent mass industrial action if they don't get a slice of supercar action. "Alright, VW did do us proud with the Fabia," said shop steward V�clav Forman, "but we really don't want to be left out on a limb here, especially when heightened tension in the Middle East is causing wild stock market fluctuations and a global fear of terrorism. It just doesn't make sound commercial sense to leave Skoda without a supercar to call its own. If Lamborghini, Bugatti and even VW can have one, then why can't we?" he snarled, biting the top from another bottle of Budvar.
Sniff Petrol reluctantly extracted itself from that intriguing basement bar in Prague and hotfooted it to Audi's glass and titanium HQ in Ingotsteel to ask senior strategic planning spokesperson Axel Tramp why Audi, a company with a proud motor racing heritage, wasn't planning a supercar of its own. "Zere are zwei main reazons" he explained in an amusing German accent, "Eine, Volkswagen has nicked our W12 engine, und zwei, vhat vould be ze point ven vee already own Lamborghini?" Sniff Petrol pointed out that, since Audi had
spent an estimated DM20,000,000,000,000,000 on winning Le Mans for the past two years, it would be logical to capitalise on that investment with a road-going Audi supercar. "Good point", he replied, "Ve didn't zink ov zat."
We rang VW's corporate communications centre in Wolfsburg for the official reaction to Skoda's planned workforce walkout. Press Relations Director Bart Humbug was surprisingly candid. "The Czech workers have a point; Skoda might indeed benefit from the commercial and morale boost that a supercar could bring. Which is precisely why we are currently evaluating a prototype gullwinged Octavia powered by an all-new Bentley-developed supercharged 96 valve W24 TDi PD engine with a turbo for every cylinder." Herr Humbug was quick to rebuff suggestions that the Skoda would inevitably tread on the VW supercar's toes: "They will be quite different," he said, "the Skoda will not have damped passenger grab handles."
As yet there is no official word on what the super-Skoda might be called but spies report that, following the unveiling of the Superb luxury saloon, the new model might be badged 'Brilliaaaant!'
CAR MAGAZINE TO GET RID OF 'MESSY' WORDS
CAR magazine, EMAP's flagship car-based glossy, is to get rid of words, it was revealed this week. Editor Drinkin Fountain is said to have long complained that having to print words in his magazine "Made all the nice design look messy. And it spoils the lovely photography." Now that problem will be solved by simply getting rid of all the words and the attendant sentences they are made into by CAR's writers such as thingy and whatsisname. "CAR is an important magazine for us in the shiny papered, ABC1 market sector," said a man. "We are simply streamlining its positioning for the lifestyle market," he added, odiously. We rang CAR's office to ask what exactly 'lifestyle' meant in the context of a magazine but they didn't seem to know. "I'm not sure," said the person who answered the phone, "but I'm pretty certain it's something to do with really swish photography and probably superb design. Oh, and no words. Not anymore." We tried to contact the Pet Shop Boys because some people think they used to be a lot better about ten years ago too, but they were out.
FERRARI ULTIMATUM TO BRAWN: HAVE YOU GOT A BEARD OR NOT?
beard not pictured.
Oh, hang on, it is
Ferrari's preparations for next year's F1 season have been shaken by a management ultimatum to technical director Ross Brawn. Bosses at the Italian team have insisted that they cannot maintain a satisfactory working relationship with the British engineering maestro until he decides whether he has facial hair or not. "Ferrari management have been very tolerant of Ross's shaving policy," said one insider, "but the team is determined to be more focussed than ever next season and that must be reflected in our staff's grooming routines." Brawn's beard has had a chequered past, having disappeared several times in the past, only to re-appear looking as if it was being grown yet somehow remaining at an awkward 'not quite stubble or a full beard' stage for weeks on end. "Ferrari team management have become sick of people asking if Ross has a beard," says another Marenello mole, "In some lights you can hardly see it at all. In others you might be forgiven for thinking he just hasn't shaved for five days. Then you'll see him on TV and swear that he is, in fact, a man with a beard. But a rather vague one."
However, some commentators suggest that the Prancing Horse team is being too hasty: "People with vague beards do have a history of success," notes Dr Mack Threa, head of hair studies at the San Francisco Institute of, Like, Stuff, "Look at Dave Richards or Alan Sugar, for example. On the other hand, it does make you look like a scruffy twat."
ROVER SD1 (1975-86)
Back in the mid-1970s this was a dramatic indication of what to expect in the brave new dawn we came to affectionately call "the eighties". In which case the Thatcher era would have been a time of unbearable quality glitches and catastrophic major component failure, just as it was for early SD1 owners. An object lesson in taking a really good idea and then making an absolute rat's cock of the execution: the SD1 was startlingly beautiful and contained some genuinely innovative industrial design that should have made it a world beater. Add in that man-size V8 up front and a practical hatchback at the rear and you've got a winning package.
A winning package that was unfortunately productionised by British Leyland. You can guess the rest. The paint shop extractor fans blew rather than sucked, thereby royally buggering this supposedly state-of-the-art facility. The electrics has a zany sense of humour all of their own and there were a myriad of component failures. You know, minor niggling stuff like entire rear axle assemblies. But hey, let's not get bogged down in all that. Just enjoy the gorgeous looks and bass-heavy soundtrack. And try not to think about how, if this had been built by Germans, it would have been a no-ifs-or-buts classic by now.