Archive for Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Governor replaces foreign car with made-in-Kansas Malibu

September 17, 2003

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— Gov. Kathleen Sebelius picked up a new set of wheels Tuesday, a regal silver, fully-loaded, specially-ordered Chevy Malibu, the first of its kind to roll off a Kansas assembly line.

The governor's model retails for $25,575, and she drove it straight out of the showroom of a south Topeka dealership. The car, financed with a loan, is for the governor's personal use, replacing a silver Toyota Camry she had been leasing for three years.

The car comes with all the special options available -- CD player, leather seats, all-wheel disc brakes, cruise control, power windows, power seats and a power sunroof. She even ordered seat warmers and a remote-control that allows her to start the car and run it for 10 minutes without a key.

That last feature had caught Sebelius' attention in August, when her car rolled off the assembly line at the General Motors Fairfax plant in Kansas City, Kan.

"Now that is cool," Sebelius said. "Pretty slick."

Sebelius said the automatic ignition feature would allow her to "terrify people."

"It'll be great," she joked.

Sebelius' new car had been the hit of the Ed Bozarth Chevrolet showroom during the past week. Employees placed signs on its windshield and windows proclaiming that Sebelius had bought it, and on Tuesday, velvet ropes separated it from the other vehicles on display.

The dealership has never outfitted a governor before, said Alvin Dvorak, its general manager.

"We ordered the car to her specifications, exterior and interior," he said.

Sebelius acknowledged that her husband, U.S. Magistrate Gary Sebelius, the self-proclaimed "first dude" of Kansas, might get to drive the car more than she does. On official business, the governor has a Kansas Highway Patrol driver.

"I drive on the weekends and sometimes during the week, when I can sneak away," she said. "I actually am going to come figure out some times to come and park this in the governor's slot at the Statehouse, because everybody's been asking where the Malibu is."

The governor said she began thinking about a new car when the lease on the Camry she had been driving was nearing its end. The fact the Malibu is manufactured only in Kansas was a big plus for her.

Sebelius has favored the royal silver color in past vehicles as well.

"I just kind of like silver," she said. "It kind of matches my hair."

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