By: N.A. on December 4, 2000
Original Article: AUTOWEEK, VOL. 50, ISSUE 51

DECEMBER 4, 2000

To misquote Shakespeare, all the world’s a rally and we’re putting you center stage. World Rally driver Richard Burns topped the competition in the Britain (apge 50) and Subaru is already dreaming about what it–and you– will do with its rally-inspired Impreza WRX (Headliner, page 9). Over at Pontiac, the REV is only a concept (Cover Story) but a powerful little all-wheel-driver that claims rally inspiration, too. The yearlong rally is over for our long-term Beetle (page 18), which ran stronger than we expected. Maserati won’t rally anything but its troops, to put a new Spider (below) at an auto show near you in the not-too-distant future.

Mysterious Maserati Spider
Maserati’s Spider will take center stage in the future model lineup and should serve Maserati well for its return to the North Ameri-can market in 2001. Insiders say the car now meets emission regulations of both the American and European markets.

Compared with the coupe version, the new Spider’s wheelbase is slightly shorter. The Spider reportedly will also get an all-new, highly tuned 4.0-liter V8 engine, a derivative of the Ferrari 360 Modena powerplant. With assistance from parent company Ferrari, during the next two years Maserati’s new V8 engine also will be adapted to the coupe and the next-generation Quattroporte sedan.

Company officials declined comment on reports the Spider will be launched at either the Detroit or Los
Angeles auto show.

First Viper GTS-R, now Saleen S7
The engineer responsible for turning the Dodge Viper concept into a production car and then into the Viper GTS-R racer is joining Saleen as chief engineering officer.

Neil Hannemann, whose 18-year career centered on ultra-high-performance street and competition vehicles first at Chrysler and then at DaimlerChrysler, will lead Saleen’s product development and certification programs, including work on the S7 supercar.

Pinto’s revenge?
Years after the federal government complained that Ford’s Pinto exploded on rear impact, the feds are proposing that cars and trucks be built to withstand a 50-mph rear-end collision with virtually no loss of fuel.

The proposed new rule comes more than five years after General Motors agreed to fund research in rear-crash testing to avoid a recall of its full-size pickups outfitted with sidesaddle fuel tanks. Critics contended the sidesaddle tanks contributed to fuel fires in crashes.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administra-tion estimates the tougher standard could save up to 21 lives per year over the existing 30-mph rear-impact requirement. The agency says the regulation would add $5 to the cost of each vehicle. Industry lobbyists are still formulating their response to the proposal, but in the past they have advocated improved testing.
Car of the Year–Japanese-style

Honda Civic is the 21st Japanese Car of the Year, beating its direct rival Toyota Corolla, according to a poll of Japanese automotive journalists.

The Subaru Impreza WRX received the Car of the Year special award and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class received the Imported Car of the Year award. Cars built in Japan between Nov. 1, 1999, and Oct. 31, 2000, were eligible.

Bill Devin, an automobile industry pioneer once referred to as “the Enzo Ferrari of Okie Flats,” died Nov. 22. He was 85.

Starting as a Chrysler-Plymouth dealer in Fontana, California, Devin moved up to exotic cars and eventually specialized in racing Ferraris. His dream of becoming a car builder materialized in 1954 with the fiberglass-bodied Devin-Panhard. He ultimately became the world’s largest producer of aftermarket fiberglass bodies in the 1950s. In 1958, he introduced the Devin SS, powered by a Corvette V8, and also produced the Porsche- or Volkswagen-powered Devin D and Corvair-powered Devin C.