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1st Gear: McLaren GT β€” the combination of McLaren Racing, McLaren Automotive and CRS Racing β€” unveiled its GT3 car and plans for a 2011 development program. The new McLaren MP4-12C GT3 will be the first McLaren car built for FIA* GT series racing since the McLaren F1 GTR finished production in 1997. The 12C GT3 is based on the new MP4-12C high-performance sports car and a team of engineers, designers and test drivers with vast experience in Formula 1 and GT racing has been assembled to undertake the process of adapting the carbon chassis-based 12C to racing specification. I'll take three β€” because we all know I'll likely crash the first one in a fit of irrational exuberance and the second one I'll want to lick and cuddle with in bed. We've got some big wallpaper-sized shots on our Facebook page.


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2nd Gear: As expected, General Motors Co. today will announce plans to invest $100 million to upgrade its Bowling Green, Ky., factory, where it makes the iconic Chevrolet Corvette, according to the Detroit News. GM North American President Mark Reuss is scheduled to make the announcement at the plant this morning, the person said. Reuss will be joined by Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and other public officials. The investment is obviously a necessity as GM gears up for building the next-generation C7 Corvette, expected to debut in late 2012 as a 2013 model.


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3rd Gear: The original Porsche 961 was a 1980s racer based on the fabulous 959, but German magazine Autobild reckons the number is coming back on a new V8 'halo' series production model. Details are sketchy and haven't been confirmed by Porsche, but the story goes that the new 961 will be a V8 powered coupe with styling derived from the 918 Spyder/RSR project. The 918 itself has been confirmed for strictly limited production already, but its carbon monocoque is presumably too esoteric for cost-effective volume build - it's costing the few lucky punters who'll get their hands on it around half a million quid.


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4th Gear: Saab is planning a global public relations tour led by Chairman and acting CEO Victor Muller and including representatives of new partner Hawtai Motors and investor Vladimir Antonov. Once final approval for its Hawtai collaboration and investment deals with Antonov are confirmed, Saab intends to begin the PR campaign, aimed at countering the negative press caused by its financing crisis which idled production last month


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5th Gear: Chrysler, fresh from its first profitable quarter, won credit ratings from two major rating agencies β€” a key step to its debt refinancing and winning government retooling loans. Standard & Poor's said today it assigned its preliminary "B+" credit rating to Chrysler, while Moody's Investor Services assigned Chrysler a "B2" rating. That's right, it's not their first positive credit rating β€” just their first of any credit ratings since emerging from bankruptcy. Baby steps folks, baby steps.


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6th Gear: The United Auto Workers on Tuesday named Mary Beth Cahill, a politically connected former Democratic presidential campaign manager, to head its Washington office and serve as director of the union's Community Action Program. The UAW hiring a Democratic activist? Who would have thought?


Reverse:

⏎ Me or the squirrel, one of us might die. [Detroit News]

⏎ Is Kia planning its own Genesis-like V8-powered RWD flagship a la the Ray concept from Chicago? [Drive]

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⏎ Oh, you want a Chevy Volt, eh? [Green Car Congress]

⏎ Infiniti hires former Ford exec to head north Europe sales. [Automotive News]

⏎ Top ten pickup truck sales for April. [PickupTrucks]

⏎ Toyota to no longer be super number one best automaker in the whole world. [Bloomberg]

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⏎ BMW delays U.S. debut of X1 until 2012. [Automotive News]


Today in Automotive History:

On this day in 1984, New Jersey rocker Bruce Springsteen releases "Pink Cadillac" as a B-side to "Dancing in the Dark," which will become the first and biggest hit single off "Born in the U.S.A.," the best-selling album of his career. [History]

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