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Donors give Saab story a happy ending

A biweekly roundup of automotive news, good, bad and just plain weird: Saab Museum reopens its doors Finally, a bit of good news to put a final garnish on the saad saaga of Saab.

A biweekly roundup of automotive news, good, bad and just plain weird:

Saab Museum reopens its doors

Finally, a bit of good news to put a final garnish on the saad saaga of Saab. Even though the defunct Swedish company is now officially deader than a meatball, we are at least able to confirm that its legacy will live on.

Specifically, if you're a Saab fan, you'll be able to travel to Trollhättan and go to the now-reopened Saab Museum. The place is a wonder for Saab-o-philes, packed to the rafters with every kind of Saab produced through the ages, from the first concept Ur-Saab to the 9-3x Aero.

Well, not quite every Saab. It took some time to get together a collaboration of the City of Trollhättan, the Wallenburg Foundation (a private NGO) and SAAB AB. In the interim, two American collectors snapped up the U.S. part of the collection.

However, overall it's a great success and good to know that while the number of Saabs on the road may wane, there will always be some of these quirky cars preserved for posterity.

Chevy Sonic Turbo gets sixspeed auto

Subtitle: so what?

It's true, we normally carry bigger news than just a transmission upgrade for a sub-compact economy car. However, this is exactly the sort of thing the Sonic needed to be just about a perfect city car.

The enthusiast's choice is still going to be the six-speed manual, but for folks who want an automatic for stop-andgo driving, the choice was only previously available with the base model and the base engine: a combination that had a tendency to lurch around so much it could be the butler for the Addams Family.

Having an auto in the Sonic Turbo means that the car finally has the low-end torque that the six-speed auto seemed like it was designed for. If you've been holding off on springing for the turbo model: no more excuses.

Denver Zoo harnesses the power of poop

One of my favourite motorized contraptions is the cheerily-named Tuk-Tuk, a three-wheeled rickshaw/taxi commonly found in Thailand. It is so-named because of the "tuk-tuk-tuk-tuk" noise its tiny engine makes as it pootles around the crowded streets of Bangkok.

My new favourite one works at the Denver Zoo and, if you haven't guessed from the headline yet, is the answer to Austin Powers' question, "Who does Number Two work for?" Yep, it runs on poo.

Actually, the zoo is generating electrical power for all kinds of applications by burning dung, but the Tuk-Tuk is sort of interesting as a stand-alone project. Taking the pelletized, uh, animal pellets, and subjecting them to very high heat in a zero-oxygen environment produces something called syngas.

Syngas sounds all sciencey and sustainable, and is far more PR-friendly than "poop-gas," hence the name. It is also roughly equivalent to natural gas in potential application and can be used to run generators, in this case, charging the batteries of this Tuk-Tuk - which doesn't tuk, but hums instead.

Eric Clapton's one-off Ferrari

When you're just an ordinary millionaire, you only get to buy ordinary Ferraris. 458 Italia? Oh sure, any old rich dunderhead can pick up one of those. On the other hand, when you're one of the most successful guitarist/songwriters in British music, you get whatever kind of Ferrari your little heart desires. In this particular case, you get a 458 Italia base that's custom coachbuilt to look like an homage to the two-tone Ferrari 512 BB.

What's more, you get whatever you'd like as an engine, in this case, what sounds like a V-12, rather than the 458's normal V-8. I say "sounds like," because the last thing you get, if you're Eric Clapton, is the discretion to not have the details on your one-off creation leaked out to the press.

Just in time for Easter, Jeep releases Trail concepts

Jeep is probably the last true off-road brand, and certainly one of the more storied. As such, it annually sponsors the Easter Jeep Safari, a 46-year tradition of getting your Jeep out rock-crawling in the harsh terrain of the Moab Desert.

This year, Jeep's brought along some special concept vehicles to go four-by-four-ing in. These are no ultra-modern high-efficiency rigs with alternative power sources or sleek aerodynamics. Nope, instead we get shout-outs to Jeep's long history of building tough trucks. Take, for instance, the Mighty FC (yep, that's the official name), a modernized version of Jeep's Forward Control of the late '50s and '60s. With a chopped-off nose and a pick-up truck bed, it's a brutish-looking thing, all jacked way up in the air on 40-inch balloon tires.

Or maybe you'd prefer a more conventional-looking blast from the past in the J-12 concept which looks almost exactly like a Wagoneer or a Gladiator. It's got the monster-truck treatment too, naturally.

Other concepts include Mopar-accessorized Wranglers and Grand Cherokees, showing that while modern Jeeps are a tad more comfortable than their old military-based ancestors, they're still just as serious about getting down and dirty.