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New Cars 2006 Model to Hit the Road in May with Todd Rundgren Behind the Wheel

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( - - March 5, 2006 - - The Cars with an updated lineup will announce a summer tour March 14 to coincide with the release of their new single "Not Tonight." In addition to original guitarist Elliott Easton and keyboardist Greg Hawkes, veteran rock Renaissance man Todd Rundgren will be at the helm as lead singer and guitarist. According to Easton, the tour will start in May.

Original frontmen Ric Ocasek and Benjamin Orr are not among the new lineup. Ocasek chose not to join the reunited band and Orr died in 2000 of pancreatic cancer. Filling out the band are bassist/singer Kasim Sulton, who has played with Rundgren for three decades as a member of Utopia, and Tubes drummer Prairie Prince. It is not clear why original Cars drummer David Robinson is not on board.

The Web site for NBC's Jay Leno show lists "The New Cars" under "Upcoming Guests" for March 14.

Industry managers involved in the reunion have denied or skirted direct questions regarding the Rundgren-Cars connection since rumors started surfacing last summer even as Rundgren acknowledged his involvement on the Todd Rundgren fan site,, last fall.

Another rumor circulating is that Blondie will be along for the ride on the circuit, billed as the "Let the Good Times Roll Again" tour (a play on The Cars song "Good Times Roll" from their 1978 debut album). Blondie are set to release a new CD/DVD collection called "Sound and Vision" March 7, 2006. Blondie's Myspace page ( has been playing a video teaser for "Let the Good Times Roll Again" featuring the song "Not Tonight." Also on Myspace: The original Cars page, which until a few weeks ago was known as and posted songs and pictures of the original lineup, has been renamed "Let the Good Times Roll Again" with the new URL

To add more intrigue, there may or may not be a link between the Disney/Pixar movie "Cars" set to be released June 9 and the summer tour by The New Cars. There is a striking similarity to the "Cars" movie logo and the car featured in the video teaser for "Not Tonight." The Disney movie was originally scheduled for a November 2005 release. Reasons noted for the delay range from the schism that emerged between Disney and Pixar (this movie is said to be their last "official collaboration") to wanting the movie in theatres when NASCAR is in season.

Denials notwithstanding, more than enough evidence abounds to support the fact that The New Cars will be touring with Rundgren in the driver's seat. There are reviews complete with pictures on the Internet of showcase performances the band played in Burbank during January. The Web site for the Honocti resort is sporting a banner with the look and feel of the "Not Tonight" video teaser announcing a May 27 show that will be announced on March 14. Other venues are beginning to sport similar banners.

Still not convinced? In February at Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp in Hollywood guitarist Easton told the crowd of campers about the upcoming tour, the collaboration with Rundgren, and plans for the release of a live record with three bonus studio tracks.

Elliott Easton plays drums at February 2006 Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp"The Cars are back together," said Easton. "At some point it became apparent that Ric did not want to be involved. We cast about for a new lead singer and we came up with a guy named Todd Rundgren. The fit is incredible."

Easton introduced the new song called "Not Tonight" he said was written by himself, Hawkes, and Rundgren. Part of the song is included in a video teaser circulating on the Internet.

"We're going to give you a sneak preview of The New Cars with Todd Rundgren," Easton told the crowd, who responded to the track with an enthusiastic round of applause.

Elliott Easton and Steve Poole at February 2006 Rock and Roll Fantasy CampEaston said the single will be released March 14 in conjunction with a summer tour announcement and the appearance on Jay Leno song that night.

In addition to performing classic Cars songs, the new lineup will play Rundgren material.

"We are going to play some of Todd's stuff. We actually played 'Open My Eyes' by Nazz for the record and 'I Saw the Light.'"

"We're doing 'Drive,'" Easton said, referring to The Cars' song originally sung by bassist Orr. "Kasim Sulton our bass player/singer - you know Kaz from Utopia? He has a beautiful sweet voice and he does an amazing job on it." (Rundgren also wrote a song called "Drive" that is on his 1983 record "The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect.")

While Easton conveyed excitement about upcoming New Cars activities, he realizes the band has some hurdles to face.

"The biggest challenge I guess is overcoming skepticism that you could have The Cars without all of the original members." Easton said.

Despite a significant amount of information and interest that has buzzed about The New Cars over the past few months, the news is still unconfirmed by band management even as Rundgren's November post on the TR Connection noted that "the cat is out of the bag, or rather 'car is out of the garage.'"

The latest clue? A soon-to-be-unveiled Web site - - that looks back to The "Classic" Cars' career while at the same time pointing to the future by inviting visitors to "Get Updates on The Cars" by e-mail or mobile.

Regardless, the "mystery" will be solved March 14. Start your engines.