A biweekly roundup of automotive news, good, bad and just plain weird:
Car thieves uninterested in green
When it comes to automotive theft, the usual suspects are always at the top of the list of cars that appeal to the Usual Suspects. Not that the Civic and the Mazda3 are particularly easy to break into, just that thieves know learning the tricks of getting into popular models can have them in and out in a flash.
Then there are those machines that are stolen for a joyride, notably the early Subaru STi, which didn't have a passive immobilizer from the factory - proof that anti-theft systems make all the difference. But what of those cars with a different sort of anti-theft system?
Witness the Toyota Prius which, according to the U.S.-based National Insurance Crime Bureau, has a theft rate approximately one-seventh that of other vehicles. Why no sticky-fingered, balaclava-wearing love for the little hybrid?
One hates to turn to conjecture, but perhaps thieves are worried about being electrocuted while trying to bypass the ignition systems. Either that, or the black-hearted blaggards are simply uninterested in saving the planet.
Rumour mill: The return of the GNX?
It is, without a doubt, one of my favourite automobiles of all time. The boxy, blacked-out Buick GNX of the late 1980s oozed menace, and why wouldn't it, with the capability to blow the doors off a Ferrari Testarossa.
Some wag at Car and Driver came up with the tagline, "Lord Vader, your car is ready," and away the turbocharged Regal roared off into the public's imagination. However, for decades now, Buick has turned to the Beige Side: less light-sabering and Galaxy domination, more golf sticks and sofa-like cruising.
The pot was first stirred with the reintroduction of the Regal nameplate, and the return of turbocharging to Buick in the GS. A sporty little front-drive sport sedan, the Regal GS can be got with a six-speed manual, and drives much less Buicky than you'd expect.
However zippy it might be, it pales when compared to the current rumoured product - a re-badging of the Cadillac ATS's lightweight rear-drive platform. Perhaps to be called the Grand National once more, this rumoured sport sedan may receive the V-8 out of the Corvette and a manual transmission.
Heady stuff indeed, but remember that the original sharpie'd shoebox could blitz the world's fastest sheetmetal to the point that they had to underrate the performance so as not to embarrass 'Vette owners. Hopefully the modern GNX will pack at least as much punch as the supercharged ZL1 Camaro.
Ford Fiesta to get two flavours of turbo
In one of the more clever PR stunts we've seen lately, Ford brought their tiny three-cylinder eco-boost engine to the L.A. Auto Show as carry-on baggage. What better way to show off its compact size: if you can cram an engine in an overhead bin while an angry queue of fellow passengers glares daggers at you, then fitting it under the hood of the Fiesta should be no problem.
Numbers aren't quite out yet for the 1.0-litre turbo, but expect around 125 horsepower, not bad for the little tyke, and certain to put out Pontiac Firefly levels of fuel economy. But that's not the only turbo destined for Ford's subcompact.
Also due on our shores fairly soon is the Fiesta ST, which joins the Focus ST as marking a beachhead for the Fast Ford hot-hatchbacks principally enjoyed by Europeans alone. The Canada-bound model should get 197 h.p., which is excellent for such a small car - head-to-head comparisons with the Veloster Turbo and the Sonic RS will be a Lilliputian World War III.
Australian police go all Mad Max
If one views the career of Mel Gibson as a parabola, with the apogee being the Lethal Weapon films, and the downward slope being the lunacy of the past several years, you have to pick Mad Max as the launching point. But the 1979 apocalyptic cult classic had another star too: a heavily modified Ford Falcon coupe dubbed The Interceptor.
Somebody at Aussie Fuzz HQ has been watching a little too much Road Warrior, and commissioned a rather special Pursuit model of their Falcon four-door sedan. Remember, this is the same Australia where the Ford vs. Holden Super-V-8 racing championships found it necessary to restrict spectators to just 24 beers. Per day. Each.
The Falcon in question here is a four-door, rear-wheel-drive sedan, with a supercharged V-8 engine cranking out - hold on to your hat with the little corks on it - 536 h.p.! 'Strewth!
At a price tag somewhere north of $100,000 (after currency conversion), don't expect fleets of these things to be battling sheep-rustlin' jackeroos in hopped-up utes. This one-off is more a way for the Oz Police to connect with the racing community and keep fast driving to the track, not the street.
Watch this space for all the best and worst of automotive news, or submit your own auto oddities to firstname.lastname@example.org.