The Car Geek: February 2007

The Car Geek

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Chrysler, Chery to collaborate on small cars

The Chinese are coming.

In the news: DaimlerChrysler's Supervisory Board has just approved plans for a partnership with China 's Chery Motor Company to develop affordable, small vehicles. The announcement follows a preliminary agreement between the two companies made in December.

The Chery deal has long been rumored and people have been speculating for a time expecting the deal to pave the way to the production version of the Dodge Hornet concept. Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda however, has earlier said in January that these projects were not related.

"The Hornet is a great statement of our design," LaSorda said. "It is also a statement that it’s something that we’re going to continue to take a look at, and depending on the business case going, we’ll look at that independently from this particular project."

In a statement released, the company said that the new small vehicles will allow Chrysler Group brands to "compete in segments in which the brands do not currently compete, and which are especially important in price- and fuel-economy sensitive markets."

"Some 67 percent of all vehicles sold outside of North America are in these segments. Chrysler Group's major competitors in the U.S. and Western Europe have similar arrangements with Asian manufacturers for vehicles in these segments."

Under the partnership, Chery-built vehicles with its auto body parts will be distributed under Chrysler brands, primarily in North America and Western Europe.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Return of the Scorpion

The legendary Scorpion is stinging its way into the Abarth’s in-house tuning threshold biting into resurrection its famed logo at the upcoming Geneva auto show.

Two Abarth versions of the Fiat Grande Punto Abarth S2000 will be exhibited at the show: the Grande Punto Abarth Preview concept car and the Grande Punto Abarth S2000. Of course the Grande Punto Abarth S2000 is the racing cousin of the production model. The prepped and preened car will also enter the renowned 2007 Italian Rally championship after the Geneva show as well as the Intercontinental rally Challenge. The S2000 will include a typically aspirated 270-horsepower four-cylinder engine and four-wheel drive.

The Grande Punto Abarth Preview showcar carries around 150 horses turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder gas engine. Fiat is promising an even better 180-hp alternative for production.

Regarding its Punto-powered mechanics, it will be fitted with enlarged wheel arches, smart alloy wheels precious lightning packages, roof-mounted air intake and more modernized details that will distinguish this scorpion emblazoned car apart from the pack.

It’s been a long-awaited comeback for the scorpion’s sting. Prices for the aggressive-looking model have yet to be confirmed. For full details, log onto Abarth’s national website.

Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera to be unveiled in Geneva

Ah, the Italians. They always seem to know how to make us drool.

And who does it best? I’d say it’s the Italian supercar maker Lamborghini which will showcase its new Gallardo Superleggera coupe at the Geneva Motor Show in March.

Get those bibs ready as this baby will no doubt make you slobber, thanks to upgraded performance parts and increased power (an additional 10 hp) and a 220-pound reduction in weight (154 pounds for the U.S. model) – making the new range-topping Superleggera faster and more agile than the regular model.

Compared to the basic Gallardo (booooring), the Superleggera needs only 3.8 seconds to go from 0 to 62 mph, read: 0.2 seconds less. The Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera comes with robotized mechanical e-gear as standard; a sports package including shock absorbers; and special suede-covered steering wheel.

The car's engine is the latest version of Lamborghini's well-known 4,961 cc V10. 530 hp is achieved in 8,000 rpm.

In case you weren’t slobbering enough: Lamborghini engineers decreased the Lamborghini Gallardo's already low weight using advanced materials. The engine hood is made of visible carbon fiber and plastic, a type of material that guarantees lightness and also shows off the magnificent V10. Talk about flaunting it when you have it!

The word is light, as the rear diffuser and underbody covering, the rearview mirrors, door panels and the central tunnel's covering are also made of carbon fiber. Weight was further decreased by replacing certain glass surfaces with clear plastic. The interior is just as good: monocoque carbon fiber sports seats covered in Alcantara are offered.

SkinzWraps HD to Be on Display at the 2007 Ferrari Challenge Racing Series

No, it’s not a company that provides skin wrappers or any of that sort. SkinzWraps, Inc. is one of the leading full service vehicle wrap company, pioneering the concept of “wrapping” vehicles. The company announced recently that it has been bespoken by a racing buff to design and wrap his F430 Challenge Ferrari (a car specifically designed to meet the expectations of its sportier clients, integrating track-oriented modifications and a host of new features, racing on challenging race tracks).

The fan insisted that the Ferrari be wrapped in a one-of-a-kind, almost customized Skinz HD wrap for use in the upcoming 2007 Ferrari Challenge racing series. As part of the commission, the SkinzWraps logo will be embossed in the wrapping. Talk about a trademarked maneuver in promoting a business product.

"Individualism is a mix of style and charisma and it has no bounds. In a race series where everyone participating owning at least one F430 Challenge Ferrari (retail price approximately $250,000.00) it is exciting to know that our Skinz HD wraps helps to foster individualism," says Peter C. Salaverry, Chairman and CEO of SkinzWraps, Inc.

I guess the appeal of the Ferrari Challenge is pretty obvious. The Ferrari Challenge is in its 13th season which makes it the longest-running series of its type in North America. Most racer cars have identical BBS racing wheels and Pirelli racing slicks. Of course, all preparation on today's Challenge racers is handled only by authorized Ferrari dealers.

For more information about SkinzWraps’ other products, visit the company’s website.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Curtains Down For All-New Powered-up Audi S5

Audi S5">

What does the Audi brand have in store for us? We all have been waiting for the German brand to reveal its newest high-performance version of the all-new A5 coupe which is rumored to be coming packed with more power like the S5 model.

Under its hood lies the secret of its outstanding power. The 354-hp V-8 engine and the Quattro all-wheel drive allows the vehicle to speed up and allows it to hit 62 mph in just 5.1 seconds. The car’s heavy sport suspension lowers the stance adding more possibilities for the best handling. Packed with the Audi exclusive eighteen-inch wheels, xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights and these vehicles have been made standard.

More enhancements? Can you see the exterior parts of the vehicle that are tinted with aluminum paintings that are paired to the side mirrors, larger spoiler, larger air intakes and different front and rear bumper treatments.

With all these new features, don’t you want to get one for your own? Well, wait until November when it finally goes on dealership showrooms. The first model to be released will be running on a six-speed manual transmission, while the automatic will come after six months of waiting. The idea of making all choices of transmission available is a nice plus. The followers will have the chance to choose between the two options.

The Audi keeps you excited though... am I right?

Are 2007 Hybrid cars losing their efficiency?

Say what?

According to a new government fuel-economy ratings that are available for the first time, new hybrid cars are loosing their fuel efficiency as compared to old models. A visit in the government’s fuel-economy Web site reportedly now will reveal that new hybrid cars use significantly more fuel than their previous ratings.

So I figured I’d go check it out myself. And hmm, the 2007 Honda Civic Hybrid dropped from a city/highway mpg of 49/51 to 40/45 with a combined drop from 50 mpg to 42 mpg.

Well that’s not really too bad…

How about the Toyota Prius then? This popular hybrid car has been on top with praises for its fuel efficiency and there hasn’t even been an upgrade since its initial debut. Check it out, the Toyota Prius dropped from a city/highway mpg of 60/51 to a current mpg of 48/45. I did a little knee-jerk there, I have to admit. We’re talking of a 20% drop in its city mpg and a 12% drop in its highway mpg.

Guess it’s still best to keep those auto body parts in excellent shape, hybrid or not.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

BlueTraks Introduces BT-211 Hands-Free Car Kit

Ah, the emergence of car technologies likes BlueTraks. It introduces its BT-211 Hands-Free Car Kit – a hands free car system that incorporates the 4 most popular infotainment functions in one unit. The BlueTraks BT-211 is the first product to set itself apart from all other hands-free car kit manufacturers.

A number of aftermarket consumers are providing their cars with plug-in gadgets to add an iPod; satellite radio and satellite navigation (talk about high-tech!). The only problem is these mobile systems are independent of each other and working these gizmos adds another level of driver difficulty and distraction.

The product BT-211 features hands-free Bluetooth communication and iPod command control. It uses a high 4.2” resolution touch screen color display, a hard-wired interface to the vehicle’s auto body parts like the communication bus system and to the factory stereo amplifier. At a touch, the BT-211 mutes the audio system inside the vehicle and will listen to the driver say the name or number they wish to call, request phone status or lookup a name to call from their cell phonebook (now that’s what I call instant gratification). It will also mute the audio system when an incoming call is received.

There are more additional features though. The Satellite Radio Ready and GPS Navigation will be installed by mid-2007. The BT-211 is designed to be installed to give the look and feel of a factory installed product meaning that the 4 most popular doodads to the audio junkies are “all-in-one unit”.

BlueTraks Inc. sure knows how to boost a vehicle’s confidence thanks to its integrated Bluetooth wireless technology. You can enjoy your mobile systems squeezed in one whole device.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X Sportback

The Mitsubishi Concept-Sportback previews the next Lancer and, by extension, the Evo X. This forthcoming 2007 Detroit Auto Show will have the Mitsubishi showcasing its 2008 lancer sedan. The sport sedan is based on Mitsubishi's "Project Global" platform, on which the new Outlander is also built.

The new Lancer has a 103.7-inch wheelbase while length, width and height are 180, 69.3 and 58.6 inches respectively. The Evo is expected to be launched early in 2008 and to hit the mainstream market in 2009 all in due time.

Mitsubishi parts consist of five different engines as options, including a 140-hp, 2.0-liter common-rail diesel. The Lancer will arrive at the end of summer, sources said and the model line will be completed with a various depictions.

Although Mitsubishi is hinting that the Evo might be presented as a hatchback as well as a sedan, not in the U.S. market but will be available in Europe like the Lancer.

U.S. versions will get a four-cylinder similar to that in the Dodge Caliber including a 2.0-liter, 152-hp aluminum DOHC MIVEC engine (143 hp PZEV in Calif.) teamed to a five-speed manual transmission.

Domestic or Foreign Car Brands?


“When you purchased your last car, did you consider whether your car was American or foreign made?” This was one of the most interesting questions asked at the recently concluded research handled by An independent firm asks more than a thousand of respondents this question. And yes, the respondents had been carefully selected. The survey started last January 27 and has a sampling error of plus or minus 3%, with a 95% level of confidence. Going back to the question, most of the respondents reacted truthfully. Well, of course they did. And by doing such, they also did give accuracy to the research. A large percentage or 49.9% of the whole lot, almost half of the respondents say that it didn’t matter if they bought an American vehicle or a foreign-made one. Meaning they didn’t care whether the car was built in other foreign countries or if it was created in the US. And only 32.5% admitted that they still prefer to buy cars from the American auto makers and only 17.5%, who preferred foreign automakers. Another important matter was asked on the survey. The question asked about which important factors came into the car-buying decision. Of course, undeniably, price ranked no. 1 with 88.1% followed by a surprising fuel efficiency scoring a 75.9%, and safety on the third notch with 69.2%. What about you? Anyway, if you looking for K&N filters or Extang BlackMax online stores got them all just for you.

The 2009 Mercedez-Benz E-class

The next fifth-generation E-class is codenamed W212 and due in 2009. The E-class will get its usual mid-cycle face-lift this year (including a tummy tuck of course) with new bumpers, headlights, grille and enhanced fenders and doors.

This E-class will have wheel-arch extensions, rising character line below the door handles, massive bumpers and greenhouse. A more sculpted wide-frame grille, the more geometrical nasal air intakes and the wedged-shaped profile should give W212 a sportier look.

It prides itself with enhancements such as wet-weather disc wiping, wheel-selective cornering controlled brakes and optional ceramic-composite discs. Sources are speculating an increase in length for about 20mm. Combined with a revamped interior; it will offer a more spacious experience for the passenger compartment.

One major W212 theme is driver assistance. An all-new instrument – the updated Command system will highlight the interior changes. Anticipate lane-departure warnings and eye-movement monitor, traffic-sign identification, road-condition sensors, night-vision technology and stability control for crosswinds, camber changes and tire wear. You simply can’t go wrong with these.

Performance: the base powerplant will consist of four-cylinder engines, 175 horsepower rating followed by the usual V-6 and V-8, diesel offerings and an E63 AMG’s version offering over 500-horsepower.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

GM’s New E100 On Saab Concept

Saab BioPower 100

The US car market is having quite a high demand for fuel efficient cars. And this is the fact that moved GM to produce a new vehicle that will pass all of the standards of the car buyers nowadays.

Today, the current market is selling flex-fuel vehicles that run on E85 (85% ethanol and 15% regular gasoline). But now GM has got something that would top all the eco-friendly cars you can find in the market.

GM recently announced its plans to produce the Saab BioPower 100 and this is the company’s first BioEthenol concept. It is also called the Saab 9-5 SportCombi wagon which will be run by E100 that stands for 100% ethanol. 100% ethanol. I am repeating that just in case you think you did not read that quite right.

The new concept which will receive a 2.0-liter turbo engine will use the E100. With the use of ethanol, the octane level in a vehicle will be incredibly high. The new concept would also be boasting of what is under the hood. You see, there lies the important fuel parts which is a small turbo engine that creates an enormous 300 hp and 295 pounds-feet of torque that allows the vehicle to run a distance of 62 mph in just 6.6 seconds.

The idea was made into a concept because of the possible performance aspect. If we take into consideration the price, imagine if the E85’s price is quite high, how much more if E100 will be out in the market? But on the other hand, using E100 is 100% environment-friendly. I just wish that GM would make it affordable. Well, perhaps in time when production of such would be made even more inexpensive.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The 2008 Porsche Panamera

A four door, four seater sedan from Porsche. With this fourth model line to be called Panamera, purists can now drive this baby with gusto. The Panamera will be a "sport-coupe in the premium class with four seats and four doors.

It will be a hatchback using existing component modules and a brand-new platform and sheetmetal. The Panamera will be built at the Leipzig factory alongside the Cayenne. No doubt, Porsche is watching sales of the Mercedes-Benz CLS very carefully and sources are estimating an annual production doubling over 20,000 units a year worldwide! Not bad.

This sleek, rear-wheel-drive four-seater is powered by not-so-basic Porsche parts that includes a 4.5-liter V-8, either the 340-horsepower version, or the optional 450-horsepower turbocharged engine. A hot 500-horsepower version may eventually follow. The new chassis may be similar to the one that produced the Cayenne.

Porsche will show a concept of this vehicle at the Frankfurt auto show later this year. But the production vehicle is expected for the 2009 calendar year.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Check your Children's SeatCheck

FACT: Motor vehicle crashes remain the number one killer of kids; seven out of 10 children are not properly restrained.

Parents can now have more reasons to ease their worries while driving with their kids as SeatCheck, a national public education campaign to provide parents with the resources to properly secure their children when traveling in motor vehicles created by DaimlerChrysler and its partners can now be easily accessed to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) child safety seat technician locator database.

The free service - available online at or by calling 1-866-SEATCHCK - connects parents to the closest child safety seat inspection locations in their community to have their child's safety seat inspected for proper fit and use.

And in celebration of NHTSA's annual Child Passenger Safety Week which runs February 12-17, SeatCheck offers parents and caregivers the following safety tips to ensure proper fit and use of their child's safety seat:

* Infants must always be placed in rear-facing seats until they are at least one year old and 20 lbs. If less than a year old and more than 20 lbs., be sure they ride in a seat approved for heavier babies and continue to ride rear-facing until at least one year old. Children may ride rear-facing in many seats up to 35 lbs. Never place a rear-facing infant seat in front of a passenger air bag.

* Once children are forward-facing, they should ride in a forward-facing seat (convertible seat) until they reach approximately 40 lbs. All children who have outgrown child safety seats should be properly restrained in booster seats until they are 4'9" tall.

* Old/used child safety seats should not be used unless you are certain they have never been in a crash and you have all the parts (including instructions). Seats six years old or older should be discarded and never used. To check if your safety seat has been recalled, check the seat recall list on

* Always read both the vehicle owner's manual and the instructions that come with the child safety seat.

* Vehicles and rear- and forward-facing child safety seats manufactured after September 1, 2002, are equipped with LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) to help ease the installation of child safety seats. For more information on LATCH, visit

* Children 12 & under should always be properly restrained in the back seat.

* It's important to remember that the "best" child safety seat is the one that correctly fits the child, the vehicle, and is used correctly every time.

* Get your child safety seats checked to make sure it is installed properly!

Make sure your children's safety is top priority when it comes to your car. After ensuring your children's safety seats are A-okay, make sure those Volkswagen parts are in top form too.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Saturn Unveils New Cars At Chicago Auto Show

2008 Saturn Prevue

Saturn may not be that well known compared to other brands and companies in the industry like Ford, GM or Chrysler, or those companies which make Hypertech programmers or anything of the like. But it does look like Saturn has already been in the business for 17 years already and it still is counting more years.

And at the 2007 Chicago Auto Show, the brand took the curtains off some of the newest vehicles in its range. In fact, officials from Saturn have spoken and they have informed the auto industry that their portfolio now holds vehicles that have been totally refurbished and have been given facelifts.

Among those unveiled at the mentioned auto show is the new Saturn Sky Roadster. This one has been created to be a convertible holding two seats. Analysts in the market say that the vehicle is directly maimed at the younger buyers who are looking for something sporty and very trendy to drive around town.

And if you are one of those customers looking for a good hybrid, then maybe you would like to consider the new Saturn hybrid SUV which comes with four seats. You not only would be getting a great SUV but you also would be saving much on fuel.

There are three more vehicle line ups unveiled under the Saturn brand. You may want to visit the brand’s showroom at the auto show to take a real good look at what indeed do they have to offer.

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Tulsa Ford dealerships unite

Tulsa's two Lincoln Mercury dealerships have been consolidated yesterday. But mind you, it doesn’t have anything to do with the Ford Motor Company’s last year’s scrapes since decisions have been promptly made already.
“We made the decision to consolidate. It's something we're pretty excited about." Bill Knight, president of United Ford in Tulsa, said. Sure, the company opts for the quirky campaign to show to the public that they have their own choice whether to like it or not instead of telling them why they should like it. The only unfortunate aspect of the move is the timing, given the automaker's ongoing reorganization. Last year it would either seal or fuse hundreds of Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealerships across the country under a restructuring plan. The company also announced last week that its $12.7 billion loss in 2006 was the worst ever for the 103-year-old company (yikes!). So this is some strategy employed by the company I’m sure. The Lincoln Mercury Volvo dealership and its Volvo parts at 4111 S. Memorial Drive will remain in operation in Tulsa. United Ford South is now operating at the same address as Jaguar of Tulsa, and Ford was supportive of that move. But Jaguar sales and service will not be pooled together with Ford operations. Ford realized that Jaguar customers want to feel exclusive since it’s a luxury car brand. But no matter what the impact of their ploy is, let's hope Ford Motors will be having a bright future minus the losses.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Volkswagen Elevates Urban Owners and Prospects in an All-Star Weekend

AUBURN HILLS, MI - The renowned Volkswagen of America, Inc. recently announced that it’s taking its Volkswagen Important People (read: VW VIPs) initiative an added step by creating a complete “VW i.p. Experience” from Friday, February 16, 2007 through Sunday, February 18, 2007. Sure all the helter-skelter of the weekend reaches its peak with grand doses of the Volkswagen million dollar sweepstakes, personal paparazzi, big ticket giveaways and celebrity sightings at the All-Star weekend.

As guests cruise the Strip or visit the Fashion Show mall they will get a first hand look into celebrity life. The VW i.p. Experience forms an intention that anyone can be treated as a star! It allows Volkswagen an opportunity to communicate a direct message of respect, positive reception and value to the African-American and urban community.

The Million Dollar Joy Ride is central part of the VW i.p. Experience. Participants can test drive a Touareg with new Volkswagen parts, Volkswagen’s luxury SUV located in the south parking lot of the Fashion Show mall. Now, get those imaginations grinding as it gets better.

Picture this: As a participant in the drive, you’ll get to lavishly experience an all-access pass to the VW i.p. Experience Lounge. A 1,000 square foot custom designed VW i.p. day spa within the Fashion Show mall. Upon entry, guests will receive nothing less than the royal treatment. Spa services include manicures, massages, barber services and make-overs! Guests will also enjoy light refreshments, video games and music provided by celebrity guest DJ’s, such as the legendary DJ Biz Markie. The VW i.p. Experience Lounge and Million Dollar Joy Ride will be open from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, February 16th through Sunday, February 18th.

This sponsored event celebrates grand luxury at the same time benefiting inner-city communities. Hurry now.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A Unique Car Cover

Jonathan Gitelson’s Car Project

You might be more interested in the cover of Jonathan Gitelson's car rather than what's underneath it. You see, his car cover is truly unique. And with his creativity, he came up with the idea of putting all his flyers together to make a one of a kind car cover.

He had begun collecting leaflets and flyers after being annoyed by the heaps of these pieces of paper that almost covered the entire Honda parts of his interior. And almost every morning, he opens his 1999 Honda Civic DX only to find out that the flyers from shows, restaurants and clubs are almost filling his husky liners. So instead of considering it as pieces of junk and trash, he came up with a better idea that will make use of these flyers into something functional and, well, weird at the same time. But it is brilliant idea, isn't it?

The Chicago artist had collected a massive ton of these flyers and leaflets for his "Car Project". He spent three long months sewing up these flyers together and in the process creating a huge car cover.

Gitelson parks his Honda on a club in Chicago and took some photos of it. The car cover will also be seen draping a metal sculpture modeled on the Honda Civic DX's frame. I saw this car cover only on the net but I guess it is better looking in real life.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Toyota Surpasses Ford

Well Ford did warn us that January sales wouldn’t be anything to throw a party about, and it was right.

Inside Line is reporting that Toyota Motor Sales USA and DaimlerChrysler has outsold the troubled Dearborn automaker as Ford's U.S. sales took the plunge to 19.0 percent from the same month a year earlier. In a saddening turn of events, Ford's sales of its market-leading F-Series pickups also plummeted down 15 percent in January.

The sales dive lands Ford squarely in 4th place as 2007 starts, allowing Toyota the early lead in a year in which many industry observers are predicting that the Japanese giant will top Ford in U.S. sales and take over the number-one spot, unseating General Motors. Combined January U.S. sales for Toyota, Lexus and Scion totaled 175,850 units, up 9.5 percent from a year ago for the Japanese automaker's 20th consecutive monthly sales gain. In comparison, Ford's U.S. sales in January were 165,688 units. General Motors was the top-ranked automaker in U.S. sales for the month, posting sales of 244,614 in January. Well at least you can still buy quality Ford tie rod ends from your favorite online store.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

World Car Finalists Revealed

Word Car Of The Year awards
Everybody in the car industry is so excited to know which cars are included in the list of finalists for "The World Performance Car" and the much awaited "World Car" contests. Today, the international accounting firm KPMG revealed the short list of the ten finalists for the third annual World Car of the Year (WCOTY) awards. The Top Ten Finalists for The World Performance Car were also announced.

There were 28 new vehicles on the initial entry but only 10 lucky new vehicles were chosen to be in the final list. The winners will be announced at the Press Preview at the upcoming New York International Auto Show on Thursday, April 5, 2007.

The 10 lucky finalists were all selected by 45 top level automotive journalists around the world. To be qualified, a car must be in production and also sold in at least five countries on two continents. Here is the short list.

Top Ten Finalists for World Car:

  • Audi Q7
  • Audi TT
  • Citroen C4 Picasso
  • Citroen C6
  • Fiat Grande Punto
  • Jaguar XK
  • Lexus LS 460
  • Mercedes CL
  • MINI
  • Suzuki SX4 / Fiat Sedici
  • Top Ten Finalists for The World Performance Car:

  • Audi RS4
  • Audi S6
  • BMW 335i
  • BMW M / Z4 M Coupe/Roadster
  • Ferrari 599 GTB
  • Jaguar XKR
  • Mazda 3 MPS / Mazdaspeed3
  • Porsche 911 GT3
  • Porsche 911 Turbo
  • Renault Clio Renault Sport
  • Let us all wait for the results which will come very soon. For the mean time, Tonneau covers are available online. You might as well need one to replace your old car parts.