Chrysler group design chief Trevor Creed showed sketches of a two-seat Corvette-fighter concept last week, but the car lacks a name. The roadster is based on the Dodge Viper and will debut at the Detroit auto show in January. It has the code name Firepower - but that name is owned by someone else, Creed says. "Between now and the auto show, the drill for us is to find a name that fits this kind of a vehicle," he says. The Firepower has a theoretical top speed of 185 mph - but don't look for Chrysler to test that theory on a track. Too many possible nicks and bumps for a one-off car, Creed says: "It's a so-called million-dollar paint job." See a picture of the car on Page 14.
PRESIDENTIAL RIDE -- It's not every day that a former presidential limousine hits the market, but that's what's going to happen on Jan. 28, when RM Auctions Inc. puts this 1962 Lincoln Continental on the block. The limo, called the Kennedy Bubbletop because of its transparent rear-compartment covering, is the sister car to the convertible in which President Kennedy was shot 41 years ago today, on Nov. 22, 1963. After government service, the limo was sold in 1970 to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich., and is now owned by a private collector. RM Auctions, of Blenheim, Ontario, says it expects the car to fetch at least $500,000 - far beyond the original $80,000 sticker.
NOSE JOB -- U.S. Volkswagen dealers will get a little piece of Microbus history after all. VW executives tell Automotive News Europe that the van scheduled for the 2008 model year will have a stubby nose - a throwback to its beloved ancestor. But it will not have the rounded features of the concept vehicle at the 2001 Detroit auto show. VW dealers were disappointed last spring when VW said it was scrapping plans for a modern version of the company's 1960s-era van. VW cited high costs and said it will save money on its U.S. van by borrowing heavily from one now built in Europe.
ANOTHER HELPING OF SPUDS -- Toyota Motor Corp. is boosting production of a plastic derived from sweet potatoes. Toyota makes 20,000 tons of sweet potato-based bioplastic annually in Indonesia and will expand that total to 20 million tons. The bioplastic has appeared in floor mats sold in Japan, Toyota says. Plant-based car parts aren't new. The Ford Model T used soybean-based panels and knobs.