Dodge will launch a national ad campaign today, Sept. 26, to find two people to appear in 30-second TV commercials for the Dodge Ram pickup equipped with a Hemi engine. Each winner will sit beside the original Hemi guy, actor Jon Reep, as he poses his famous question, "That thing got a Hemi?" Dodge will give audition information after Friday, Sept. 30, at dodge.com/hemistar. Consumers will vote on the candidates at the Web site. Winners will be selected in November.
ON HIS OWN -- The exterior designer of the $320,000 Rolls-Royce Phantom is leaving Rolls-Royce Motor Cars to start a design firm. Marek Djordjevic, 36, was part of the team that designed the first Rolls-Royce - code-named RR01 - under BMW ownership. BMW AG acquired Rolls-Royce on Jan. 1, 2003. Djordjevic said in a statement that his company will be in Los Angeles and will focus on premium land, air and sea vehicles and accessories.
END OF THE LINE -- After five years of slipping sales, Ford Motor Co. will build its last Ford Excursion this week in Louisville, Ky. The fuel-chugging behemoth, which has been a target for environmentalists and proponents of energy conservation since its launch in 1999, had its best sales year in 2000, when 50,786 units were sold. Sales for the first eight months of this year were 11,843. Ford has said the 8,600-plus-pound SUV gets about 12 mpg. It has a 44-gallon fuel tank, which means an owner would have to shell out $132 to fill up when gasoline is $3 a gallon.
ATTENTION, BOZO THE CLOWN -- Automakers are paying more attention to the interior designs of vehicles, and the 2006 Ford Fusion is an example. According to Ford Motor Co.'s media Web site, designers wanted to make it easy for passengers to slip into and out of the back seat. They even put on size 14 shoes "to confirm that someone with that foot size could enter and exit without brushing the B-pillar scuff plate or the back of the front seat."