His last ride in a Beetle
Fans of Volkswagen's New Beetle say it's a success because it makes people smile. Now, it can be said, that's true even at a funeral. The cremated remains of Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun were transported to their final resting place at Arlington National Cemetery in a blue New Beetle. Blackmun's family leased the jaunty car for the March 9 funeral procession as a way to commemorate the string of VW Bugs the justice drove for many years, court spokeswoman Kathleen Arberg explained last week. She said family members were unable to find a vintage Bug and chose instead to rent a New Beetle of about the same color as Blackmun's last car. Justice Blackmun, who retired in 1994 after 24 years on the court, died March 4 at age 90.
HAVE A FLING WITH GM - General Motors' Test Track is the newest ride at Epcot, a theme park near Orlando, Fla. The attraction is modeled on GM's Milford, Mich., proving grounds. Cars on the track were inspired by the proving grounds' test sleds. Once on board, riders are propelled along a one-mile track that features 50-degree banked turns and top speeds of 65 mph. Phil Guarascio, vice president of advertising and corporate marketing, said: 'The elegance is how we've enhanced the consumer's entertainment experience, at the same time we have connected them to GM.'
'WE CAN' - Clinton administration officials were acting spacy about clean cars in Washington last week. EPA Administrator Carol Browner, appearing at DaimlerChrysler's elaborately choreographed unveiling of the fuel-cell-powered Necar 4, said people always ask, 'If we can put a man on the moon, why can't we ...?' - and then they fill in their own favorite impossible dream. If the rest of the question is 'build pollution-free cars,' the answer is fast becoming 'We can,' she said. A few blocks away, Morley Winograd, top adviser to Vice President Al Gore, handed out medals to researchers involved in the government-industry Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles. Recalling that the partnership has been dubbed 'the moon shot of the '90s,' Winograd said building low-polluting, 80-mpg family sedans might be even tougher than going to the moon. He said: 'They only had to build one rocket ship at a time, and cost was not a big consideration.'
BIG, HAIRY DEAL - In one of the more, um, unusual metaphors we've heard in a long time, Darrell Davis, CEO of DaimlerChrysler Financial Services North America, compared the DaimlerChrysler merger to what happens when a man turns into a werewolf: 'The man fights the change at first, but when it's complete, he discovers he's hearing with sharper ears,' Davis said in a speech last week at the Consumer Bankers Association Automobile Finance Conference in Atlanta. 'That's how we at D/C view our merger,' he said. 'It will make our wits sharper, our legs more powerful and our reach surer and more powerful.'