We at Automotive News normally ply our trade in words. This year, in a special project to ring in the new millennium, we'll do it in pictures. And we need your help.
This May, we will dispatch 60 photographers around the world to record a day in the life of the global automotive industry.
The images they capture will be collected in a pictorial issue we'll publish Oct. 18.
A few weeks ago, our reporters and editors began submitting their ideas for the project.
'How about the crash tests done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety?' was one suggestion. They destroy cars in the hope that they will be built better.
Someone else recommended a primitive repair shop in Africa, where automotive genius means finding ways to keep Renaults running, decade after decade.
The list goes on.
Mexico City shrouded in smog. Bangkok's streets choked by traffic.
Bill Ford Jr. starting his day at a neighborhood coffee shop. German auto workers washing down their lunch with a beer. U.S. office workers escaping their cubicles for an afternoon cigarette.
The rows of earnest workers - most of them female, all of them standing - assembling wire harnesses at a Delphi Automotive Systems plant near Shanghai.
The pomp and circumstance that surround deliveries at Saturn dealerships. A Chinese family, pioneers in a fledgling consumer society, taking the keys to its first car.
A 'spy' photo of spy photographer Jim Dunne, on the prowl for a shot of a future model.
Each would help achieve one of our goals: Provide a visual snapshot of the auto world at the end of its first full century.
And we surely will use some of those ideas. But we could send out hundreds of photographers and not completely capture the variety and breadth of today's global auto industry - from the car clinics where ideas are born, to the junkyards where cars are laid to rest.
Which, after all, is today's typical assembly plant? Ford's Rouge complex, well over 70 years old and about to be 'modernized' yet again, or GM's new marvel at Eisenach, Germany?
Is the model dealership the roadside garage that peddles new cars in small towns across Europe, or the newest AutoNation USA store in suburban Chicago?
The truth is, the global industry is all of that, and much more.
And we hope to capture a representative slice of it. But we also want our book to reflect an industry churning with change as it approaches the next millennium.
Eight years ago, French Prime Minister Edith Cresson said she didn't want her people to mimic the Japanese and have to work like ants. Now a Toyota plant is rising in France, promising to transform its industry like little before it.
The internal combustion engine ruled the 20th century. How long will it rule the 21st? Potential replacements are lining up. We'll want to capture the spirit of that battleground.
Who knows what automotive commerce will look like in a century? But for now, the Internet is shaking up retailing plenty. And we'll reflect its impact in our pages.
But we can only report on the industry. You live it. Tell us what places and activities ought to be part of our chronicle. Please send your ideas to the addresses in the box above.
We won't be able to act on every suggestion. But one thing's for sure: The more ideas we have, the better the issue will be.
So help us make it a page-turner. With any luck, our work will manage to cling to a few shelves 100 years from now, a dog-eared witness to the industry as it concluded its first remarkable century.