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Gizmondo Car Crash


JPickford (retired mod)
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http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_3533119

Million-dollar auto had hit 120 mph before hitting pole

By Josh Kleinbaum, Staff Writer

For More Info

• AP Video: Ferrari snapped in two in PCH crash.

• Photo Gallery: Ferrari Crash

MALIBU - A million-dollar top-of-the-line Ferrari - a cherry-red masterpiece that rockets from 0 to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds - sat in pieces early Tuesday on Pacific Coast Highway.

Nearby was the owner, a Swedish playboy with a bloody nose. Authorities said he had alcohol on his breath and told a wild tale about a German named Dietrich who crashed the Enzo Ferrari, splitting it in two and proving that the car was made not only for speed but for passenger safety.

By the end of the day, police were still trying determine who was behind the wheel of the car - which uses racing technology and is designed to withstand high-speed crashes - and why it was speeding down PCH at 120 mph before it crashed at 6:15 a.m.

At the center of their investigation is Stefan Eriksson, 44, a disgraced electronics executive who police believe might have used the streets of Los Angeles as his personal Formula One course.

"It's all beginning to come together," said Los Angeles County sheriff's Sgt. Philip Brooks. "Pretty soon, we'll have it all figured out."

Eriksson told authorities he was riding in the passenger seat, and that a man named Dietrich was driving, when the car went out of control and hit a power pole near Decker Road. Dietrich bolted into the underbrush, Eriksson said, leaving him to deal with police.

"When we got there, we were searching for the German," Brooks said. "As far as we're concerned, the driver is still outstanding."

But police are also pursuing the theory that Eriksson spent Monday night and Tuesday morning drinking with friends at a Beverly Hills house when they decided to drive to Malibu to race the Enzo against a silver Mercedes SLR, a sports car with a top speed of 208 mph.

"Once the Ferrari crashed, the driver of the Mercedes took off," Brooks said. "We haven't found the Mercedes yet, but my investigators are working on it. They're very good."

Aside from Eriksson's story, there was no sign that there was more than one person in the car, Brooks said. Eriksson suffered a bloody nose, and the only blood in the car was on the driver's side air bag - not the passenger air bag.

Also, Eriksson's blood-alcohol level was .09 percent, just above the legal limit of .08 for drunk driving, and police found a gun at the scene, Brooks said.

If detectives determine that Eriksson was behind the wheel, he could be charged with drunk driving, lying to a police officer and other violations, Brooks said.

It wouldn't be the first time he's run into trouble with the law.

He was convicted of fraud and counterfeiting in Sweden in 1993 and 1994, and has been linked to a group known as the Uppsala Mafia, according to authorities.

Whoever was behind the wheel of the Enzo was driving Ferrari's top-of-the-line car, named after the company's founder, Enzo Ferrari.

Only 399 Enzos were manufactured between 2002 and 2004, with one more made for Pope John Paul II in 2005. The Catholic Church auctioned that car off for $1.275 million to benefit charity.

The original sticker price was $643,330, but the Enzo usually resells for about $1 million.

"This is the pinnacle of Ferrari automobiles - and just about any automobile produced today," said Dustin

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Troyan, who hosts car shows every Sunday at Village Coffee Roaster in Woodland Hills.

"This is the best. It has incorporated a lot of Formula One technology into a drivable car. This is a work of art. With one less, the value of every other Enzo just went up."

Like F1 race cars, the Enzo is designed to be able to withstand high-speed crashes, experts said. Tuesday, it performed just as advertised - the carbon fiber body disintegrated around the cabin, totaling the car but leaving its passenger nearly unharmed.

"To cut it in half like that is a very significant impact, and to have people walk away, it shows how safe these cars really are," said James Del Pozzo, general sales manager at Ferrari of Beverly Hills. "It's very sad. It is just a car, but at the same time, it's a very special car."

A list of Enzo owners looks like a who's who of the rich and famous - entrepreneur Steve Wynn, actor Nicholas Cage, musician Eric Clapton, clothing designer Tommy Hilfiger.

The car goes from 0 to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds and has a top speed of 217.5 mph. It has gull-wing doors and sits 3.9 inches off the ground, with a special button on the steering-wheel mount that allows the driver to lift the front suspension a few inches more. Then there's the V-12 engine that cranks out 650 horsepower.

"If you're riding with somebody who knows what they're doing, it is an experience like no other," said Carbon McCoy of Ferrari Market Letter, a newsletter for Ferrari owners. "The braking, the acceleration, the handling, it's phenomenal.

"The car is the complete package. Nothing compares."

http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/this_brit...ticle347138.ece

Rock stars, fast cars and 'Swedish Mafia': how gadget firm ate up £180m and crashed

By Jonathan Brown

Published: 23 February 2006

The fleets of limousines and super-powered sports cars queuing in the Saturday night traffic signalled something special was going on at London's Park Lane Hotel. Inside, Sting and the Jamiroquai frontman Jay Kay were preparing to perform for an audience of A-list guests, happily glugging the free Cristal champagne. The rap stars Pharrell Williams and Busta Rhymes had been flown in from the United States for the occasion.

The organisers of the extravaganza, makers of a new handheld gaming device called Gizmondo, had spared no expense on the launch of their new product. But outward confidence was masking a fragile edifice.

Eleven months later Gizmondo was in liquidation, its reputation shredded by its association with a group of convicted criminals known as the "Swedish Mafia". More than £180m of investors' money had been spent in an orgy of corporate excess, bloated salaries and perks. There were fast cars, a private jet, a racehorse, and lawsuits. At the height of the spending, Gizmondo bought a modelling agency, ran a fleet of 120 Smart cars and retained an 80ft super yacht.

This week official receivers called a public meeting of the company's many creditors and began the process of clearing up the wreckage. But those owed money fear the company's assets amount to little more than the furniture at its Regent Street store. While there is no suggestion of illegality, observers have been left asking how a company, which promised to take on the gaming giants Sony and Nintendo, could have failed quite so spectacularly. One veteran industry source and former insider had this answer: "This was the worst case of corporate mismanagement and rape of a company and its investors that I have ever come across."

The Gizmondo story began in Jacksonville, Florida, when a former laminate flooring company, Tiger Telematics, diversified into the new technology. By November 2003 Tiger had acquired a UK-based subsidiary, Gametrac Europe Ltd, and was announcing plans for the "smallest, most feature-rich, mobile entertainment device on the market". Using a Microsoft operating system, it combined a handheld gaming consul with GPS - allowing mobile multi-player use. There was also an MP3 player, a camera, phone and an e-mailer.

But the first signs of excessive spending were already in evidence. The fledgling Gametrac had signed a sponsorship deal with motor racing's Jordan.

Forced to change its name, and rapidly embroiled in a $3m (£1.7m) High Court battle with the Formula One team, Gizmondo was born in April 2004. According to a former adviser: "The company had a phenomenal burn rate and was continually scrabbling around seeking new investors." Gizmondo's managing director, the explosive Swede, Carl Freer, found hedge fund managers only too willing to climb aboard.

Alongside persistent takeover rumours, the device was expected to be in the shops in time for Christmas. But insiders were concerned, not least at the shortage of software to play on it, but at the ability to manufacture and deliver the consul. Deadlines were missed and the global launch did not happen.

In March 2005, at the time of the Park Lane party, concern was mounting. In August as the company's new racehorse was cantering to a poor 14th in its first and only outing, Gizmondo's PR company Ogilvy Group began legal proceedings to recover $4.1m in unpaid bills. In September MTV began a $1.5m lawsuit.

Another former employee said: " There was no marketing strategy and the product never seemed to work properly."

That month the company revealed $210m losses - more than double that of 2003. The filings to US regulators also revealed Mr Freer received a salary and bonuses of $3.45m, including a car allowance of $115,662. Stefan Eriksson, an executive officer, collected $3.22m in pay and bonuses. Steve Carroll, the chief technology officer, drove a company car worth $231,324 on a more modest salary of $1.54m.

As investor confidence evaporated, the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet reported that three Gizmondo executives, dubbed the "Swedish Mafia", had criminal convictions. Among the men, all from the town of Uppsala, was Eriksson as well as Johan Enander, Gizmondo's "head of security" and a third man, Peter Uf.

Mr Freer and Mr Eriksson quit and Mr Carroll took charge. His partner Tamela Sainsbury was drafted in as company secretary. Despite a last-minute refinancing deal, Gizmondo met its end in the High Court.

One insider believes only 30,000 gadgets were ever manufactured - at a cost to investors of £6,000 each. Meanwhile, Gizmondo the racehorse is for sale. It is described as of "modest ability" and its trainer says he is open to offers - starting at £600.

The fleets of limousines and super-powered sports cars queuing in the Saturday night traffic signalled something special was going on at London's Park Lane Hotel. Inside, Sting and the Jamiroquai frontman Jay Kay were preparing to perform for an audience of A-list guests, happily glugging the free Cristal champagne. The rap stars Pharrell Williams and Busta Rhymes had been flown in from the United States for the occasion.

The organisers of the extravaganza, makers of a new handheld gaming device called Gizmondo, had spared no expense on the launch of their new product. But outward confidence was masking a fragile edifice.

Eleven months later Gizmondo was in liquidation, its reputation shredded by its association with a group of convicted criminals known as the "Swedish Mafia". More than £180m of investors' money had been spent in an orgy of corporate excess, bloated salaries and perks. There were fast cars, a private jet, a racehorse, and lawsuits. At the height of the spending, Gizmondo bought a modelling agency, ran a fleet of 120 Smart cars and retained an 80ft super yacht.

This week official receivers called a public meeting of the company's many creditors and began the process of clearing up the wreckage. But those owed money fear the company's assets amount to little more than the furniture at its Regent Street store. While there is no suggestion of illegality, observers have been left asking how a company, which promised to take on the gaming giants Sony and Nintendo, could have failed quite so spectacularly. One veteran industry source and former insider had this answer: "This was the worst case of corporate mismanagement and rape of a company and its investors that I have ever come across."

The Gizmondo story began in Jacksonville, Florida, when a former laminate flooring company, Tiger Telematics, diversified into the new technology. By November 2003 Tiger had acquired a UK-based subsidiary, Gametrac Europe Ltd, and was announcing plans for the "smallest, most feature-rich, mobile entertainment device on the market". Using a Microsoft operating system, it combined a handheld gaming consul with GPS - allowing mobile multi-player use. There was also an MP3 player, a camera, phone and an e-mailer.

But the first signs of excessive spending were already in evidence. The fledgling Gametrac had signed a sponsorship deal with motor racing's Jordan.

Forced to change its name, and rapidly embroiled in a $3m (£1.7m) High Court battle with the Formula One team, Gizmondo was born in April 2004. According to a former adviser: "The company had a phenomenal burn rate and was continually scrabbling around seeking new investors." Gizmondo's managing director, the explosive Swede, Carl Freer, found hedge fund managers only too willing to climb aboard.

Alongside persistent takeover rumours, the device was expected to be in the shops in time for Christmas. But insiders were concerned, not least at the shortage of software to play on it, but at the ability to manufacture and deliver the consul. Deadlines were missed and the global launch did not happen.

In March 2005, at the time of the Park Lane party, concern was mounting. In August as the company's new racehorse was cantering to a poor 14th in its first and only outing, Gizmondo's PR company Ogilvy Group began legal proceedings to recover $4.1m in unpaid bills. In September MTV began a $1.5m lawsuit.

Another former employee said: " There was no marketing strategy and the product never seemed to work properly."

That month the company revealed $210m losses - more than double that of 2003. The filings to US regulators also revealed Mr Freer received a salary and bonuses of $3.45m, including a car allowance of $115,662. Stefan Eriksson, an executive officer, collected $3.22m in pay and bonuses. Steve Carroll, the chief technology officer, drove a company car worth $231,324 on a more modest salary of $1.54m.

As investor confidence evaporated, the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet reported that three Gizmondo executives, dubbed the "Swedish Mafia", had criminal convictions. Among the men, all from the town of Uppsala, was Eriksson as well as Johan Enander, Gizmondo's "head of security" and a third man, Peter Uf.

Mr Freer and Mr Eriksson quit and Mr Carroll took charge. His partner Tamela Sainsbury was drafted in as company secretary. Despite a last-minute refinancing deal, Gizmondo met its end in the High Court.

One insider believes only 30,000 gadgets were ever manufactured - at a cost to investors of £6,000 each. Meanwhile, Gizmondo the racehorse is for sale. It is described as of "modest ability" and its trainer says he is open to offers - starting at £600.

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New story added to first post.

About halfway through the story I thought the journalist was being 'stylish' by reprising the first few sentences of the story before I realised you had pasted it twice!

By the way, are you the 'veteran industry source' quoted?

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This story is becoming more and more bizarre. The full story is at http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-03020...-home-headlines

"When emergency workers arrived at the scene, Eriksson produced a card identifying him as "deputy commissioner" of the San Gabriel Valley Transit Authority police department's antiterrorism unit, according to the Sheriff's Department.

A few minutes later, two unidentified men arrived at the crash site on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu and flashed cards and said they were from "homeland security," according to a Sheriff's Department report.

The men were allowed by deputies onto the crime scene, where they spoke to Eriksson before leaving, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Phil Brooks.

Brooks appealed to the public for help in identifying the two men."

Even more strangely the San Gabriel Valley Transit Authority seems to perform a role similar to Motability here in the UK, i.e. helping disabled people to get around (see http://sgvta.gov/vision.htm for their mission statement), although they for some reason also have their own police department http://sgvta.gov/press.htm and in particular:

“Chief Sugar takes over at a time when mass transit is faced with perhaps its greatest challenges ever - - the post 911 era,” said Ashley D. Posner, Chairman of the San Gabriel Valley Transit Police Commission, “we’re quite proud to have him as our new Chief.”

I have no idea what this all means but you couldn't make up something like this no matter how hard you tried.

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“Chief Sugar takes over at a time when mass transit is faced with perhaps its greatest challenges ever - - the post 911 era,” said Ashley D. Posner, Chairman of the San Gabriel Valley Transit Police Commission, “we’re quite proud to have him as our new Chief.”

Just because he was driving an Enzo doesn't mean it's fair to say that it's the post 911 era.

The new turbo has only just been launched at the Geneva show. I can't imagine Porsche would be very happy with the comment.

http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2006/03/02/gu...rashed_ferrari/

US police have found a gun magazine near the site of a crash...

0060616.jpg

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How typical that he would claim to be "deputy commissioner of the department's anti-terrorism unit" for a department that is headquartered at "Homer's Auto Service, an auto repair shop" and "provide bus rides for disabled residents".

It's a bit like basing a multi-millin dollar electronics business around some loss-making shop that sells kitchen floors. Still it's good to know that if I ever want my own private CTU I just need to buy a bus with wheelchair access. Jack Bauer got into the business the same way, I hear.

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Forget Gizmondo, I'm amazed to hear that the Pope's got an Enzo.

I was going to accuse you of being a lying Turk but then I was amazed too. Not the currently pope however. JP II owned it briefly before auctioning it off for chariddy.

So it's not all corruption and lies then.

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