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Astra Test Drive in Germany Contest Winner

Date: Oct, 2007


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Astra Test Drive in Germany Contest Winner

As the old saying goes, some days you're the bug and some days you're the windshield.

 Today, Eric Tingwall is the windshield. The 21-year-old Michigan State senior is the winner of Inside Line's "Win a Trip to the Frankfurt Auto Show" contest. Eric's essay was chosen from hundreds of entries, which means the single Novi, Michigan, native will be flown to Germany where he will attend a press day at the Frankfurt Auto Show and spend a day driving a U.S.-spec Saturn Astra.

"Cars are such an emotional thing," says Tingwall, who owns a 2003 Mazda Protege 5. "And the Astra caught my eye when Saturn said they were going to bring it over here. I'm a hatchback guy, and there aren't many in the U.S."

Aside from his passion for cars, Eric is an avid triathlon participant and plays a little guitar. Oh yeah, and he finds time for a double major. Tingwall is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering, and a Bachelor of Arts in journalism. But he's still on the fence about which one he'll use to earn a living and the Lamborghini Gallardo he desires.

"I'm not sure what I'll do after graduation," says Tingwall. "I just know I'll do something with cars."

Read Eric's blog here

Eric's winning essay:

Do you ever worry about one of your writers starting an article with the world's worst lead? Ja? With Eric Tingwall as your Inside Line correspondent, you'll catch a passionate and thorough evaluation of Saturn's Astra along with epic third-person writing skills.

Hyperbole, clichés and cheesy German aside, I'd make an incredible Inside Line correspondent for driving Saturn's U.S.-bound Astra. For years I've dreamed of test-driving cars for a living. Plenty of obstacles have stood in my way of driving hard and earning money. To this point it's been more like driving fast and losing money, thanks to Officer Trojanowski's radar gun.

I'm earning dual degrees in mechanical engineering and journalism at Michigan State University, which means you could say I've already paid $30,000 for this trip to Germany. I've had professional engineering experience at Ford Motor Company and real-world writing assignments while working at the Lansing State Journal. The Astra is a product with immense potential. The excitement surrounding the car would drive me to produce the most detailed and comprehensive review.

There can't be a better place to test-drive the Astra than Germany. Sure, there are some slightly undesirable aspects of German life, like people who enjoy David Hasselhoff, sauerkraut and people eating sauerkraut while watching Hasselhoff films. But I hear if you have to drink beer somewhere that isn't Michigan State, Germany's not too bad. The autobahn is silky smooth, with unrestricted speeds in some places; it's a figurative chromy 20-inch wheel to Metro Detroit's salt-tarnished 14-inch steelies that are crater-riddled, gridlocked roads. If the Astra can make it in a country where a talking, crime-fighting Pontiac Trans-Am sets the standards, undoubtedly it can survive in the nation that tolerated the Ion for four years.

My combination of engineering and journalism experience and ability to tolerate the smell of sauerkraut make me the perfect candidate for this trip to Germany. I promise knowledgeable, thorough reporting for the Inside Line readers. Plus, it might finally get Dad off my back for that dual-degree, five-year college program.


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