Cherry's choice needed a lift
Wayne Cherry, General Motors vice president of design, has an obvious love for the Chevrolet SSR concept roadster. The vehicle with a convertible top harks back to one of his favorites, the Chevrolet pickup of the late 1940s and early 1950s. Cherry says landing the SSR on GM's list of 10 concepts for 2000 was no small task, though, and required an 11th-hour push from two former DaimlerChrysler public relations guys. Although the SSR design 'struck a chord' with GM's strategy board, the board determined in fall 1999 it was too late to build the vehicle for the 2000 car show circuit. Cherry credits two new colleagues with convincing the board otherwise: Steve Harris, GM vice president of communications, and Tom Kowaleski, one of Harris' top lieutenants. Both joined GM from DaimlerChrysler in early 1999. The result: In January GM unveiled the SSR in Detroit to rave reviews and last week took the roadster to the Geneva auto show. Cherry may be in for more happy news. GM officials have identified the SSR as a top candidate for production. Ron Zarrella, GM president of North America, has even identified possible production sites.
A TOUCH OF CLASS - A chance meeting at Pebble Beach, Calif., last summer led to a collaboration on the new Cadillac Imaj concept sedan between General Motors and Italian jeweler Bvlgari. Martin Walsh, Cadillac's top marketing executive, says the division wanted to add a few touches to the Imaj that recalled Cadillac's heyday in the 1950s when designer clocks and other features graced its vehicles. The 1957 Eldorado Brougham, for example, came with a personal vanity kit and a small bottle of Arpege perfume. As fate would have it, Walsh ran into Nicola Bulgari, vice chairman of the Bvlgari Group, at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in August. As a result, Bulgari, an avid collector of American cars, had his company design aluminum luggage for the Imaj and allowed the Bvlgari name to appear on the Imaj's instrumentation in a manner similar to Bvlgari's famous watches. Bulgari was on hand last week to help celebrate the unveiling of the Imaj at the Geneva auto show.
SPORT-UTILITY BEAGLE - Snoopy, the precocious beagle created by the late Charles Schulz, took on many roles in his 50 years with the 'Peanuts' gang: fighter pilot, Joe Cool, headwaiter, spy. Now he'll be a sport-utility. Mitsubishi Motors Corp. is launching a special 'Snoopy Edition' of its Pajero Mini sport-utility in Japan this month in a bid to attract more 20-something women. Mitsubishi plans to unveil the vehicle, presumably with Snoopy emblazoned on its body and upholstery, on March 16 at Snoopy Town Shop, a theme store in Harajuku, the center of Japan's culture of cute. The vehicle goes on sale April 8. A Mitsubishi spokesman said the licensing tie-up with United Feature Syndicate Inc., which holds the rights to the 'Peanuts' comic strip and its characters, was negotiated well before Schulz's death.