Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Harley-Davidson Riders Take Over Orlando

More than 100,000 Harley-Davidson enthusiasts from around the world roar into Orlando the first week in March for the annual Bike Week.

It's one of the largest Hogfest gatherings outside the most famous one, the Sturgis Rally, each summer in the Black Hills of South Dakota. There's also an annual Harley Homecoming event each Labor Day weekend at the "mother ship", the Harley headquarters and factory in Milwaukee.

But I digress. Back to Bike Week in Orlando which is headquartered at the Orlando Historic Factory Dealership, a re-creation of the 1910 factory and the 1903 "shack" revered by Harley afficionados.

Festivities include live music from local and regional bands, gear-head vendor displays, biker fashion shows, a ride-in/custom bike show, food and drink, a pin run and more, including activities for the kids of Harley riders.

Visitors are also welcome to have the chance to demo the latest models at Orlando Harley-Davidson's newest dealership, East Orlando Harley-Davidson.

Vroom, you HOGS. For anybody who doesn't know -- HOG stands for Harley Owners Group.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Worldwide Fiesta for Ford

Fiesta is the global name for Ford's new fuel efficient small car, which begins production in Europe this year and will be launched worldwide by the the end of the decade.

The car is new, from what Ford is calling its "new global development process", but the name is not. There's been some version of a Ford Fiesta somewhere in the world for more than 30 years.

The Fiesta was offered in the US from 1978 to 1970, and another version of the small car with the same name is a best-seller now in Europe, Asia, Australia and South America.

"The new Ford Fiesta captures every aspect of what's defined Ford as a small-car leader in Europe and builds on it in terms of driving dynamics and design," said Mark Fields, president of the Americas, Ford Motor Company, who predicts it will set a new standard in the small car segment.

Over the years, more than 12 million vehicles named Fiesta have been sold, making this one of the world's most popular vehicles. So the all-new design is carrying a lot of expectations in its small trunk.

Starting in the early 1970s, the Fiesta project became a personal mission of Ford's chairman, Henry Ford II, fueled by the 1973 gas crisis, when the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries -- OPEC -- cut off shipments to the United States. It caused long lines at the gas pumps and gas prices nearly doubled -- from 39 cents a gallon to 55 cents a gallon.

Henry Ford II also chose the name Fiesta, to reflect the car's new manufacturing plant in Spain. The 21st century Fiesta also is being manufactured in Spain, and in Germany, too.

The Ford Motor Company has about 100 factories and 250,000 employees worldwide.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Best Family Vehicles of 2008

Three-row 'Crossovers' are replacing the SUV and Minivan as the vehicle of choice for families. And the four-door sedan, too, such as the Chevrolet Malibu (pictured), which has been named 2008 Car of the Year.

That's according to Kelley Blue Book, which reviewed dozens of family-haulers and rated them for feautres like safety, roominess, fuel economy, affordability, and family-friendliness. These are the winners, all 2008 models, grouped by manufacturer:

  • Chevrolet Malibu, Chevrolet Tahoe

  • Hyundai Veracruz

  • Mazda CX-9

  • Dodge Grand Caravan

  • Saturn Outlook

  • Ford Taurus X

  • Subaru Outback

  • Honda Odyssey

  • Toyota Highlander

Half of this list is made up of three-row crossover vehicles, which have come to represent the standard for family vehicles in 2008 by combining SUV-like functionality with car-like ride and handling. The rest of the list is sedan (Chevy Malibu), a wagon (Subaru Outback), an SUV (Chevy Tahoe) and two minivans.