Model: Model T
Options: 4-Wheel Drive, Leather Seats, Convertible
Drive Type: FWD
Monsey, New York, United States
Ford's board is open to CEO Alan Mulally stepping down before his planned departure in 2014, inside sources are telling Reuters. Ford's plan of succession, aside from who would be his actual successor, has been something approaching common knowledge - the 68-year-old former Boeing exec had plans to stay through 2014. This was recently confirmed by Mulally himself on Bloomberg Television and in Automotive News.
Motivation for the about-face comes from what Reuters calls a "growing confidence" in the current crop of Ford execs, led by Mark Fields. Fields, Ford's current chief operating officer, has been tipped as Mulally's ultimate successor, although he's far from the only person with eyes on Ford's top job. Normally, Ford's board saying they're open to an executive, that's done very well for the company, stepping down early would be nearly unremarkable. It's the timing of this announcement, though, that makes this a big piece of news.
Recently, Mulally has been the subject of rumors that he's interested in taking the CEO position at tech giant Microsoft. The Redmond, Washington-based company's CEO, Steve Ballmer, told the media in August that he'd be retiring in a year's time. The fires were stoked when tech website AllThingsD speculated that Mulally would take the top spot, despite denials from the man himself. Could Ford's current boss become the new top dog at Microsoft? Will Mark Fields replace him? Could recently departed Renault exec Carlos Tavares land at Ford in some capacity? Let us know what you think below in Comments.
For nine years, Diesel Power magazine has run the Diesel Power Challenge, this year's grindfest being "a week-long torture test that features seven events, nine trucks, 8,000 horsepower, and nearly 15,000 pound-feet of torque." The road to being crowned "the most powerful truck" starts with a dyno run, and then continues through the completion of a CDL-style obstacle course, an eighth-of-a-mile drag race while towing a 10,000-pound trailer, a quarter-mile drag race without a trailer, a fuel economy test in the mountains and finally a sled-pulling test through a 300-foot-long packed-mud pit.
What kind of trucks get into such a fight? Last year's winner, for instance - who upgraded his truck this year to prove he didn't "luck into the win" - drives a 2008 Ford F-250 Super Duty with a 6.4-liter Power Stroke V8 upgraded with a custom intake, Elite Diesel triple turbos and a two-stage nitrous system. Another competitor has a 2005 Dodge Ram 2500 powered by a 5.9-liter Cummins inline-six, upgraded with Garrett turbos, dual-stage nitrous, a seven-inch exhaust stack and twin fans built into the bed to cool the Sun Coast Omega transmission. The numbers on that truck: 1,255 horsepower, and 2,063 pound-feet of torque at the wheels. Naturally, as the image above might suggest, things don't always end well.
You'll find all five videos covering this years challenge below. A scene in the dyno video sums it all up perfectly: a competitor leaves his nitrous on too long and the crew is treated to some ominous poppings, he leans out the window, throws both hands up and shouts, "Amer'ca!"
Whether fitted with soft or hard folding lids, today's droptops are better than ever for year-round motoring. Advancements in power top mechanisms, sealing, aerodynamics, structural rigidity, rollover safety and creature comforts like heated and cooled seats mean that modern convertibles are more versatile and better to drive than ever before. Yet the segment's sales took a dive during the recession and haven't come back, Automotive News reports.
Part of that is because automakers are looking at today's more sensible buyers and simply not developing as many new models, and that lack of fresh iron is curbing sales. AN cites R.L. Polk data which notes that only about one percent of new vehicles registered in the US last year had tops that folded. Back in 2009, it was 1.4 percent, and it was 2 percent in 2006. All-in, some 151,636 convertibles were registered in 2012. That's more units more than were registered in each of the past three years, but the market has also grown as the economy has picked up speed, and as a percentage of new vehicles purchased, convertible sales are lagging.
Thus far in 2013, the Ford Mustang is America's top-selling convertible, with 6,421 units registered through the end of April, followed by its rival, the Chevrolet Camaro, at 4,751 units. The Volkswagen Beetle isn't far behind, with 4,305, but from that point, it's a steep drop off to the fourth-place Mercedes-Benz SL-Class and its 2,380 sales.