BMW Transmission Trouble

Beware, BMW's Sequential Manual Gearbox is not ready for prime time yet. After a year and a half the SMG in my '02 M3 locked up, and the computer won't let the car budge. The dealer hasn't been able to fix it and they've had it for six weeks. The car only has 8,000 miles on it.

BMW customer service claims they haven't had a chance to fix it yet. All I can say is I will find my next “Ultimate Driving Machine” elsewhere.
Todd Miller
Houston, TX

GTO No Firebird Replacement

In 2002, for roughly $26,000, you could buy a Pontiac Firebird Formula with a 310 hp LS1 V-8 getting 19 mpg city/28 mpg highway. But GM pulled the plug because the slower, more expensive Ford Mustang was outselling the F-body cars by a wide margin.

So, GM strikes back with a gas-guzzling porker of a GTO — for $7,000 more than the lamented Firebird. Surely that must be because GM expects to sell a gazillion GTOs. Wait: GM's contract with the Australian producer, Holden, limits the number of GTOs to 18,000 per year. In 2000, GM sold about 70,000 Camaros and Firebirds. Way to go, GM — what a great step forward.
Will Perkins
Springfield, IL

Japanese Jobs — For Americans

I would like to reply to a letter that was printed in your January issue (see WAW — Jan. '04, p.7). The author disputes the fact that the Japanese auto industry has created thousands of jobs in the U.S.

I am an American working for a Japanese company, Denso International America, designing HVAC systems for GM vehicles, most recently the Cadillac CTS and the Cadillac SRX. There are thousands of Denso employees (engineers, designers, assembly workers, etc.) who also are American.

Denso bids on Big Three business, wins the business and builds engineering technical centers, assembly plants and sales offices in the U.S. in support of this business. Denso has hired Americans for these facilities. Most of our parts do not come from Japan as is assumed by the author. Just a point of clarification for the uninformed.
Kurt E. Schulz
Denso International America
Southfield, MI

Rotary Engine Fan

I was very pleased to see the new Mazda rotary as one of the 10 Best Engines. However, the first rotary Mazda available in the U.S. was the R100, and not the RX3, which debuted in 1973 (see WAW — Jan. '04, p.44).
Steve Remington
Project Engineer
AAI\ACL Technologies

SRT-4 Deserves 10 Best

There are fine automobiles out there, but none in this writer's opinion that measure up to the Dodge Neon SRT-4. I can't imagine why the other Best Engines judges would not select this engine (see WAW — Jan. '04, p.42). It is quite the powerhouse. Dodge has a 3-step upgrade for the vehicle that will boost horsepower to 300 and torque to 300 lb.-ft. (406 Nm), all for minimal cost. The first upgrade is a mere $495.00.

I own a new '04 SRT-4. My '98 Neon R/T is now owned by my son. I gave it to him with 116,000 miles on it. I never had one problem with the engine.

If the SRT-4 was made as well as the '98 Neon R/T, (and I have no reason to expect otherwise) it will be an even better deal for the money. Problem is, everyone compares the SRT-4 to cars costing as much as double the amount.

An engine worth 10 Best consideration? Yes.
Bob Warren
N. Canton, OH

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