The Duke recalls special delivery for the Chairman
Heinz Prechter, known in Detroit as the Duke of Downriver, was on a radio show last week with a tale about the late Frank Sinatra. In the 1960s, when Prechter did custom car work for many Hollywood celebrities, Sinatra called and asked him to install a sunroof in a new Jaguar that the Chairman of the Board planned to give as a surprise gift. Sinatra told Prechter to drive the car to a certain alley and leave it there. The recipient? Teen-age actress Mia Farrow.
TORNADO ALLEY - Tornadoes in Los Angeles are rare, but the folks at Pacific Ford in the suburb of Lakewood have been hit by two El Nino-spawned funnel clouds in three months. The first damaged a sign and about 10 cars. The second, on Wednesday, May 13, ripped a section of roof off the body shop and damaged some cars in for service. 'We're calling this 'Tornado Alley',' said Bob Hoffmann, Pacific Ford service manager.
GREEN GIANTS - A high-ranking environmental lobbyist credits car companies with taking a greener stand than the EPA. Said Frank O'Donnell, executive director of the Clean Air Trust, 'EPA's role is to protect the public interest, not just be a referee between two private interests.' He referred to the battle between automakers and the oil industry over how much sulfur in gasoline is too much. Carmakers want much less than the oil companies, so emission controls works better; O'Donnell says EPA should demand the same thing. 'The car companies are arguing for the right thing,' O'Donnell said. The EPA is likely to decide on sulfur later this year.
FAST BREAK - Dennis Rodman may be the National Basketball Association's unofficial drag queen, but Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Tom Hammonds wants to be its drag king. Hammonds will race his Chevy Camaro May 28-31 at the Fram Route 66 Nationals in Joliet, Ill. 'I plan to make drag racing my career,' said Hammonds, 31, a part-time racer for nine years. This year, the Timberwolves helped him begin his racing season early by getting knocked out of the NBA playoffs in the first round.
A JAM OVER SPAM - Protesters sick of junk e-mail picketed a Seattle auto dealership that had sought customers by 'spamming' - sending unsolicited ad messages to thousands of Internet users. Picketers aligned with a group called FREE - Forum for Responsible and Ethical E-mail - protested May 7 outside Aurora Nissan. Aurora Nissan General Manager Kerry Phelps told the Associated Press that when people phoned to complain, he ordered a stop to the mass e-mail.
MORE DOORS - Ford Motor Co. Chairman Alex Trotman broke Ford's June 29 embargo on details about the 1999 Mercury Villager. At the annual Ford shareholder meeting, Trotman gave the first official confirmation that the Villager will sport four doors.