Our first Houston robbery

This is the bike that I gave to John for Christmas.
It was stolen last night. We woke up this morning
to find the shed light on, the door open, and the
gate to our back yard open. There was probably
only one thief as mine wasn’t taken.

If anyone in Houston sees this bike, please grab the
rider by the throat, wrestle him to the ground, kick
him wherever you like, and call the police.

Thank you.

New fence

Things are really moving next door. They built a fence yesterday. It stretches down three-quarters of our driveway. They told us that tomorrow they will power-wash our driveway and will have the landscapers plant grass along the strip between the fence and the driveway.

Those are the good things. The bad things are that when it rains our garage now fills up with water. We’ve so far had three flat tyres from nails. And last week one of their tractors backed into our house and dented the siding. Then, of course, there was the tree.

I guess, in the end, it will all even out.

Log in to see the photo album and more of the shiny new fence.

Weather, Wogan and bulbs

The bulbs I planted in November are very confused. We had a warm spell and the paperwhite daffodils came up. Then it got cold again and the hyacinths appeared. No sign of the snowdrops yet.

And talking of weather, I hear that it snowed in England today. Did that keep all you Habs off the trains? Terry Wogan was late. The lady who does the show before him covered for him but gave him a hard time for not setting his alarm clock earlier.

Can you tell it’s past my bedtime?

I'll still love you, Cyril

If someone asked you what the most boring car was, what would you say? I’ve always said, “The Ford Taurus.” It now appears we have one in our garage. Yep, the Ford Five Hundred is going to be renamed.

Company executives are expected to announce formally today at the Chicago auto show that Ford’s Five Hundred midsize sedan will be renamed Taurus, . . .

John‘s not happy.

Here‘s the full Wall Street Journal article from yesterday. Or you can click on the “Read more” link above the Comments box.

Ford Revives Taurus Name
As Part of Marketing Shift
February 7, 2007; Page A4

Ford Motor Co.’s expected decision to revive the Taurus name comes amid growing concern among auto-industry executives about the burgeoning number of vehicle models competing for consumer attention in the U.S. market.

Company executives are expected to announce formally today at the Chicago auto show that Ford’s Five Hundred midsize sedan will be renamed Taurus, according to people briefed on the company’s plan. The move is part of a marketing strategy shift spurred by new Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally.
[A M]

Ford’s decision to revive the Taurus name comes just months after putting an end to the Taurus sedan, which at one point was the best-selling car in the U.S. It launched the Five Hundred in 2004.

Market research consultants J.D. Power & Associates count 331 vehicle nameplates in the U.S. market, with 60 new models on the way. “How do you get a consumer to register that?” said J.D. Power senior vice president Gary Dilts, a former top Chrysler Group sales executive, at an industry conference last week.

Mr. Mulally has been a vocal advocate of the Taurus name since he arrived at Ford last fall. As a Boeing Co. executive, Mr. Mulally studied the Ford project that produced the original Taurus in 1986. Mr. Mulally has said Ford made a mistake by letting the Taurus wither and then abandoning the name, which is recognized by 80% of potential car buyers. By contrast, the Ford Five Hundred name has achieved recognition by just 30% to 40% of potential buyers, according to people familiar with Ford’s research.

The original Taurus’ rounded, aerodynamic design stood out from the mainstream midsize sedan market of the time, which was dominated by General Motors Corp.’s boxy, lookalike Chevrolets, Pontiacs and Buicks. For years, the two Ford plants that built the Taurus were among the most efficient car-assembly plants in the U.S.

Japanese auto makers Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. scrambled to make their competing Accord and Camry sedans more like the Taurus. In the late 1990s, following an unsuccessful redesign, Ford let the Taurus drift, focusing instead on sport-utility vehicles and other light trucks. Honda and Toyota, in contrast, kept investing in the Accord and Camry, and those two cars became the sales leaders in the midsize-sedan market.

By the time of its demise, the Taurus was sold largely to rental fleets. Still, with around seven million sold, the Taurus is one of the largest selling names in Ford’s recent history.

The Five Hundred, a larger car that Ford hoped would take on the role of high volume family car, has met a cool reception since its launch. In 2006, sales of the Five Hundred fell 22% to 84,218 vehicles, or about half as many Tauruses as were sold in the last year of production. Sales of the Five Hundred were down 51% in January from a year earlier, at just 3,526 vehicles. The Five Hundred shares many of its parts and a common architecture with the Ford Freestyle crossover vehicle and the Mercury Montego sedan, all of which are built in Chicago.

–Stephen Wisnefski contributed to this article

A glimmer of hope

David sent a few no450-related links this week. My apologies for getting them posted so late.

Rail passengers in plea for legroom
David’s video diary. I haven’t managed to get it to play on my laptop yet. Perhaps UK viewers will have better luck.
– and, best of all, as you can see by the headline: Hope of rethink on cramped trains

David also advises that they spent “an amazing 90 minutes on Waterloo Station [Thursday night] bullying the SWT managers.”

You go, bro!