'Must Reading' in Auburn Hills They've seen how he engineered the takeover of their company, but if former Chrysler Corp. folks want a fuller picture of their new boss, they might pick up a 201-page book whose arrival has been little noticed in the United States. Juergen Schrempp and the Making of an Automotive Dynasty (McGraw-Hill, $25.95) is an unauthorized biography of the DaimlerChrysler AG dynamo who led the 1998 merger of Germany's D-B and Chrysler. Mr. Schrempp agreed to be interviewed for the book, but reportedly has ducked any comment on the finished product. Written by Juergen Grasslin, leader of a group of dissident German shareholders of the former D-B, the book is heavy on Mr. Schrempp's early career at Mercedes-Benz. He is portrayed as a smart, extremely ambitious man who often ruthlessly trampled those standing in his way. On April 1, he will stand alone at the top of DaimlerChrysler after the retirement of Co-chairman Robert J. Eaton.

A car in every garage, a PC in every den Home computers for everyone? The world must see Ford Motor Co. as one of two things - a filthy rich company with money to burn or a slick employer that has subtly found a way to suggest that working at home isn't so bad. The No. 2 automaker links up with Hewlett-Packard to place personal computers in the homes of all 350,000 employees worldwide. Workers will begin receiving the computers in the second quarter, complete with printer and unlimited Internet access for $5 per month. Other companies, including Delta Airlines, were quickly following suit with similar announcements. Ford might even accommodate reasonably-priced system upgrades.

GM to drop Jimmy, Blazer nameplates; delays Bravada General Motors Corp. will eliminate the GMC Jimmy and Chevrolet Blazer nameplates when the next generation midsize sport/utility vehicles go on sale in late '01, sources tell Ward's. The automaker also has pushed back the public unveiling of the all-new Oldsmobile Bravada, company insiders say, from the New York auto show in April to the Detroit auto show in January, so it can debut alongside its GMC and Chevrolet brethren. The new GMC and Chevy midsize SUVs will be called Envoy and TrailBlazer, respectively. A Pontiac-GMC spokeswoman says it's possible Jimmy, with its World War II troop carrier heritage, could be used again on a future product.

UAW advancing cause in Vance, Mexico The United Auto Workers union says it is making headway in organizing efforts in Alabama and Mexico. At DaimlerChrysler AG's M-Class assembly plant in Vance, AL, UAW President Stephen Yokich says only that the effort was "doing very well," and he declined to say whether a vote was near. South of the border, the UAW has been encouraging independent unions to push for a health and safety program. An established national workers union still seems far off. For a guy who badmouths Mexico, Mr. Yokich speaks highly of its constitution. "I wish we had the Mexican constitution as far as workers' rights," he says. "It (the Mexican constitution) was born under a revolution, but I think it's dying under capitalism."

Cobra R set to uncoil John Coletti can hardly wait. He's the chief engineer at Ford Motor Co.'s Special Vehicle Engineering (SVE), which developed the hottest Mustang ever: The heavily modified 385-hp Cobra R, beginning production at Ford's Dearborn assembly plant. It hits the road with 5.4L V-8 power in April. Mr. Coletti claims it can run a quarter-mile in just 12 seconds at 106 mph (170 km/h). Top speed is said to be close to 170 mph (270 km/h). All 300 Cobra Rs Ford will build were sold last July, and they're strictly rationed to dealers via a lottery. Sticker price including luxury tax and gas-guzzler penalty (averaging around 19 mpg) is an eye-popping $54,995. What's next for SVE? A good bet might be an SVT performance version of Ford's new Focus to replace the Contour SVT, which is being phased out.

Durango leads new Dodge R/Ts to market It's no secret that DaimlerChrysler Corp. is selling considerably more trucks than cars. So it's fitting that the truck side of the business is well represented as Dodge Div. launches three new members of its R/T performance series. Dodge Durango is the first new R/T product to market, followed by Intrepid and Neon. Durango is loaded up with more interior features than its car siblings - stylish two-tone leather seats (standard), with matching suede door trim panels. Durango R/T also gets the thumping 5.9L overhead valve V-8 Magnum (250 hp and 350 lb.-ft. of torque), which was recalibrated for premium fuel and mated to a sport-tuned exhaust system. The '00 model, with all-time 4WD, sells for $34,175, up from $29,425 for Durango SLT.

Steel industry to deliver lightweight concepts The UltraLight Steel Auto Body (ULSAB) consortium, which showcased a lightweight steel body-in-white in 1998, is expanding its focus and promises to deliver by early 2001 two complete concept vehicles that prove steel is suited for a future of lighter, more efficient cars and trucks. The program has been tagged ULSAB-Advanced Vehicle Concepts (AVC) and hopes to appeal to automakers globally by building a C-class compact car and a midsize sedan that weigh 17% and up to 30% less, respectively, than conventionally built comparable vehicles. The coalition of some 25 sheet steel producers intends to show once again that steel can be used more efficiently and provide a structural platform for achieving improved fuel efficiency, 2004 crash safety requirements, reduced emissions and increased recyclability while maintaining high-volume manufacturing at affordable costs. However, ULSAB-AVC will not develop a powertrain, which is an area of vehicles where steel has been especially vulnerable to alternative materials.

O'Malley's appointment delayed at Cadillac General Motors Corp. has delayed naming Michael J. O'Malley as the new head of Cadillac from mid-February until March, and perhaps even later, because the automaker was unable to fill Mr. O'Malley's current position as chief of GM's North Central Region as quickly as it had hoped. Mr. O'Malley will replace John F. Smith, who was named to run GM's Service Parts Operations. Like most other divisions within GM, Mr. O'Malley will be named marketing general manager, and won't become a GM officer. Mr. Smith was the last of the old-line GM divisional general managers. Mr. O'Malley joined GM in 1988 as general director of strategic merchandising operations with marketing and product planning.

Dana's Woody Morcott goes out in style Southwood J. (Woody) Morcott of Dana Corp. ends 37 years of service with the Toledo supplier April 30, but not until after he takes a little good-natured ribbing from his colleagues. Mr. Morcott takes the hot seat for the Fourth Annual Supplier Charity Roast on Tuesday, April 11, at the Detroit Athletic Club, co-sponsored by Ward's Communications and the Thomas Group. Following tradition, money raised will go to charities chosen by Mr. Morcott. Last year's event raised $40,000. Corporate sponsor tables of eight seats are still available for $2,000, while individual seats are $200. Call the Thomas Group's Marcy Duering at (248) 528-5110 for reservations.

All right, let's try this again We told you last month about the departure of the Chrysler Cirrus nameplate when DaimlerChrysler Corp. rolls out new JA midsize cars for '01. That much we got right, but we should have clarified that the Mitsubishi Galant-based Avenger and Sebring two-door coupes will now be named Dodge Stratus and Chrysler Sebring and will be made by Mitsubishi Motor Mfg. of America Inc. in Normal, IL. DCC's Sterling Heights, MI, plant will produce four-door Stratus and Sebring, plus convertible Sebring for '01, all part of a $985 million program. Sorry about the confusion, but automotive journalists aren't rocket scientists. We're not even automotive engineers. That's why we became auto writers.