Sometimes A Big Powerful Car Needs A Little Sidekick, Too

Welcome to Must Read, where we single out the best stories from around the automotive universe and beyond. Today we have reports from The Truth About Cars, Bloomberg Businessweek and Autoweek.

SRT Needs More Firepower: The Case For A V8 ViperThe Truth About Cars

A good case since considering Viper sales haven't taken off lately, and now they're slowing the plant down. It also shows the value of an "entry-level" car within a lineup, especially for Ferrari and Lamborghini.

Until the Urraco went on sale in 1973, there was no fakerich-spec vehicle in the Lamborghini lineup. You had only two options at a Lamborghini dealership: Buy a V12-powered Lamborghini or buy no Lamborghini at all. Lamborghini's chief domestic rival, on the other hand, did offer such an alternative. It was called the Dino.

Today, Chrysler faces a similar, though not identical predicament. For twenty years, there has been only one Viper. And for most of those twenty years, one was enough. No longer.

Traveling to Beijing? Have You Considered Smog Insurance?Bloomberg Businessweek

A scam or piece of mind? Personally, an investment in designer face masks sounds like the better move.

Visitors to six Chinese cities—including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou—who book their tickets via Ctrip can pay up to 15 yuan ($2.42) for what the China Daily euphemistically calls "haze insurance." If the air turns out to cross a certain threshold (it varies from city to city), travelers can get some money back.

Taking a 600 euro minivan to Kurdistan and backAutoweek

Why spend a miserable summer in Germany when you could buy a Renault Espace for 600 euros and take it as far as you want? Also an alternative to putting up with airports on a vacation.

The humble minivan on aftermarket five-spoke wheels didn't leak oil, it fit plenty of luggage and its air conditioning worked. Calchera fixed a side mirror and outfitted the rig with a hot plate. Halfway to a Westfalia!

Photo: Chrysler