2013 Corvette gets a seven-speed, Ford wins crash case, and Saab museum seized by creditors

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1st Gear: Appeals court throws out $43 million gas tank verdict against Ford
Bloomberg reports that Ford won reversal of an Illinois jury's $43 million damage award holding the company liable in a 2003 crash that killed a 73-year-old man and severely burned his wife. The Illinois Supreme Court yesterday threw out the verdict from a 2005 trial, ruling that Dora Jablonski and the estate of her husband, John, failed to prove the placement of the gas tank in their 1993 Lincoln Town Car constituted a defective design. The Jablonskis car burst into flames after it was rear-ended by another vehicle traveling 55 to 65 miles an hour while they were stopped at a highway construction zone in southwest Illinois. The crash caused an item in the trunk to pierce the tank.


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2nd Gear: Swedish court seizes old Saabs, prepares Craigslist ad
The Swedish bailiff in charge of Saab bankruptcy hearings has seized all 109 cars from the company museum. Although the bailiff can not sell the cars during the restructuring of Saab, it does mean he gets to hold on to them and, you know, have his way with them or something. The bailiff had been hoping to sell one of the exhibits to raise money for the creditors, who they say Saab owes 150 million euros in debt.


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3rd Gear: Ford says dividends aren't dead, yet
Bloomberg reports that Ford Motor Co., which hasn't paid a dividend in five years, expects to resume paying one in the "relatively near future," and is no longer tying such a move to achieving an investment-grade debt rating. "As our balance sheet continues to improve, we expect to resume paying a dividend," Controller Bob Shanks said at the Citi Global Industrials Conference in Boston. "We expect this to occur in the relatively near future."


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4th Gear: GM, UAW go back to Spring Hill
GM and the UAW have agreed to give the old Spring Hill, Tenn., plant a second chance as part of a tentative new labor contract. It's a wee bit unusual for an automaker to bring jobs back to a factory all but left for dead, but several GM plants, including Spring Hill and a factory outside St. Louis, will be adding work that had been headed to Mexico. GM will still close its Louisiana truck plant, but the Janesville, Wisc., factory remains on "standby."


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5th Gear: Corvette follows Porsche's lead into seven hand-stirred gears
According to a tweet by Edmunds' Inside Line, GM is going the way of the Porsche 911 by fitting the next-generation "C7" Corvette with a seven-speed manual transmission. They tweeted out the following: "A trusted source tells us the C7 Corvette will be offered with a 7-speed manual gearbox. Yes, seven." Which begs the question: How many gears will a computer force future Vette owners to skip for fuel economy?


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6th Gear: Opel Astra GTC gets a U.S. visa
According to Auto Observer, the Opel Astra GTC could be the next new Buick. Opel and Buick are slated to have the same kissin' cousins relationship that Saturn was slated for pre-GM bankruptcy, and the new UAW-GM contract specifies the company will build a new compact somewhere in the United States. The Astra also might help bring down the average age of a Buick buyer, which while off its Toyota-like highs is still a little more vintage than GM prefers.


Reverse:

⏎ 2011 Petit Le Mans Entry List Revealed. [Speed:Sport:Life]

⏎ Why punctuation in car names drives me £±**!^@ mad! [Autocar]

⏎ Ticket-Fixing Inquiry Grows Into Scandal on Police Leaks. [New York Times]

⏎ Von Dutch did more than pinstripe… [Jalopy Journal]

⏎ Police seek public's help finding John Travolta's Mercedes. [LA Times]

⏎ Skoda rules out low-cost sports car. [Autocar]

⏎ GE, GM in push on EV infrastructure for China. [AP via BusinessWeek]

⏎ My former boss, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, was on The Daily Show last night talking about how competition between states for jobs actually hurts our economic ability to compete in the international community. Buy her new book here

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. [The Daily Show]


Today in Automotive History:

On Sept. 23, 1933, a party of American geologists lands at the Persian Gulf port of Jubail in Saudi Arabia and begins its journey into the desert. That July, with the discovery of a massive oil field at Ghawar, Saudi King Abdel Aziz had granted the Standard Oil Company of California a concession to "explore and search for and drill and extract and manufacture and transport" petroleum and "kindred bituminous matter" in the country's vast Eastern Province; in turn, Standard Oil immediately dispatched the team of scientists to locate the most profitable spot for the company to begin its drilling. [History]

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