A Wile E. move for Chevrolet?
What a way to reach families with children! Look for Chevrolet to announce soon a limited-edition 2000 Venture minivan with images of Looney Tunes cartoon characters on the seats. Although a Chevy spokesman wouldn't confirm or deny a Venture tie-in with Warner Brothers, the owner of Looney Tunes, executives close to General Motors said the deal is done. Chevy's 1998 Warner deal teamed the Tasmanian Devil with Monte Carlo in ads and merchandise.
BID FOR CHARITY - Wouldn't you like to have just a little bit of what Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates owns? You can have his car - or at least the car he used to own - if you are the highest bidder. The burgundy 1990 Lexus LS 400 previously owned by Gates is being auctioned online via CarScene.com, an online auction site for specialty cars. The car has 82,000 miles and is fully loaded with sand leather interior. The current owner said he bought it at a charity auction and will donate proceeds from this sale to the Humane Society of Portland, Ore. Bidding began June 21 and ends today, July 12. As of Friday morning, July 9, the highest bid was $32,500. According to Kelley Blue Book, a similarly equipped LS 400 in excellent condition would retail for about $18,765.
DRIVE VIG-OROUSLY - Borrowing a page from BMW, Saab Cars USA Inc. is inviting 9-3 Viggen buyers to a free two-day, high-performance driving school. BMW of North America Inc. earlier made a similar offer to M5 buyers. The M5 debuts in October. Viggen sales started last month. BMW will train drivers at its own $12 million Performance Center, near its South Carolina factory. The M5's $69,970 sticker price helps pay for that sort of thing. Saab uses the Road Atlanta track - which, despite the name, is a bit of a haul from Saab's U.S. headquarters outside Atlanta. Not to worry. At $38,325 for the Viggen, the Saab owners will have money left over to rent a car in Atlanta.
LONG-HAUL HYBRID - A group of Japanese adventurers and environmental enthusiasts has completed a 4,200-mile, cross-continent trip on Friday, July 9, in the Toyota Prius hybrid-electric car. The team included eight people and two support vehicles. It began the trek -called Eco-Mission `99 - in Torrance, Calif., on June 4 and traveled across the South to New Orleans, then zigzagged through Kentucky and Washington, D.C., up to Toronto, and circled Lake Ontario before turning south to cross Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. Along the way, team members visited environmental groups and observed ecology projects. The Prius has been sold in Japan since December 1997. It reaches the U.S. market next year.