Where have all the heroes gone? That question popped into my mind Friday when I learned that Carroll Shelby had died at age 89.
To automotive fanatics like myself, Shelby was the hero of performance cars, starting in the mid-1960s when the Mustang, Camaro and Barracuda dominated our imaginations. Shelby took the Ford Mustang to a level never even considered with the Cobra and Cobra GT models.
While most of his fame came from his modifications of Mustangs, Shelby also shared some of his genius with Chrysler for a few years. While there he took an Omni and converted it from a commuter car to a fire-breathing monster that nearly went airborne when pushed to the limit.
Shelby was more than a gearhead and racer. He was a visionary who put an American-designed, American-built muscle car on a global platform. His appeal was more than mere mechanics and was clearly demonstrated a few years ago when Ford unveiled the latest version of the Mustang on the eve of the Los Angeles Auto show. FULL POST
Members of the United Auto Workers union have voted to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement with General Motors Co.
The vote was 65 percent in favor of the agreement among production workers, and 63 percent in favor among skilled trades workers.
The UAW and General Motors reached a tentative deal nearly two weeks ago.
Thanks to you, the Green clan is still cranking out cars in Lansing, Michigan.
CNN introduced you in November 2008 to 10 members of the family who had provided a collective 300 years of service to General Motors and the United Auto Workers union. GM's future was hanging in the balance as the federal government weighed whether to save the automaker with an infusion of billions of taxpayer dollars.
"We're not asking to be bailed out, we're asking for a loan," Mike Green, the president of UAW Local 652, said at the time. "We're not asking for a handout, we're asking for a hand up."
The $50 billion loan was approved, a new version of GM emerged, the taxpayers recouped their money, and the extended Green family kept working.
"I think the government made one of the best investments it ever made," Green, now 50, told CNN this week. "I'd like to thank the American public for having faith in an American company."
Green has been re-elected as president of UAW Local 652, his sister Cindy DeLau continues to work on assembly line ergonomic improvements, and his son Rollin, 26, is "hanging in" at GM's Delta Plant, just west of Lansing, despite having been laid off a couple of times in the last three years.
Painful concessions by the UAW were part of the survival plan, Mike Green noted.
"Because of the sacrifices of the membership, we made it through," he said.
Not only did GM survive, but it's bringing 600 to 700 more jobs to Lansing next year when production starts for a new Cadillac product.
"It's been good for Lansing," Green said. "We appreciate that GM is bringing work here. That's what we do here. You bring it, we'll build it."
Riot police backed by helicopters and water cannons broke up a sit-down strike by union workers Tuesday at an auto parts plant in South Korea, media there reported.
The strike at the Yoosung Enterprise factory in Asan threatens to cripple production at Hyundai, Kia, GM and Renault plants in South Korea, The Korea Times reported.
Hyundai and Kia get 70% of their engine components from Yoosung, according to the Korea Times.
GM jobs: General Motors will announce Tuesday a plan to add or preserve 4,200 jobs, the Detroit Free Press reports, citing "people familiar with the planning."
Up to 2,000 of the jobs will be in the metro Detroit area, the paper reported, with many of those going to the plant that produces the Chevy Volt, GM's extended range electric car.
GM is now planning on building 25,000 Volts this year, up from an earlier estimate of 10,000, the Free Press reported. It is considering building 120,000 Volts a year beginning in 2012, the paper said.
Immigration speech: President Barack Obama heads to El Paso, Texas, on Tuesday to give a speech on the need for comprehensive immigration reform.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said the president's speech is likely to highlight border security improvements and the economic costs stemming from a failure to change course. And senior administration officials said the speech will kick off a campaign-style effort to rally support for an overhaul.
Obama wants to create "a sense of urgency around the country that matches his sense of urgency," one administration official said.
Mississippi River flooding: The Mississippi River level stood at 47.8 feet in Memphis, Tennessee, on Monday evening and is expected to crest at 48 feet today, forecasters said.
The Mississippi is the highest it's been at Memphis since 1937, when it crested at 48.7 feet – 14.7 feet above flood stage. That flood killed 500 people and inundated 20 million acres of land, said Col. Vernie Reichling, the Army Corps of Engineers' Memphis District commander.
Ripple effects from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan continued to be felt by the U.S. work force this week as Japanese automakers announced cuts in plant production at North American factories.
While the cuts were expected, the news signals the long road ahead for Japan's economy, the world's third largest, and how other nations will be affected.
Japan's big three - Honda, Nissan and Toyota - and the global auto industry are increasingly hampered by parts suppliers in Japan who are struggling in the aftermath of the worst disaster to strike the island nation since World War II.
Turmoil in Libya – It's Day 10 of anti-government protests in Libya. There were bloody clashes Thursday between security forces and demonstrators in Zawiya, a town west of the capital, Tripoli. Seven people have died there, witnesses said. "Blood is all over the streets," a mother told CNN, saying her son had been shot. A witness said the violence began when people who support leader Moammar Gadhafi came into the city square and encountered those who are protesting his ouster.
Speaking by phone Thursday on state TV, Gadhafi blamed the country's violence on young people, who he said were taking drugs and being influenced by al Qaeda. Addressing the situation in Zawiya, he said, "We shouldn't leave (the town) without any control."
American automakers are modestly adding new jobs that some say signal a strengthening American manufacturing sector.
Autoworkers are not celebrating yet.
Second-generation GM autoworker Leonard Smith says the last time he checked, there were still some 6,000 workers laid off.
“The plant I’m working at now at Marion, Indiana, has 70 original hires out of 1,400 employees,” Smith said.
General Motors says it will sell 365 million shares in $13 billion initial public offering at an estimated $26 to $29 per share.