Behold the cam-less future

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Mechanically actuated valves may soon be a thing of the past. We've made over a century's worth of improvement on the same basic combination of a camshaft, followers (or lifters), a poppet valve and a spring. We've gone from using pushrods and rocker arms to actuate the valvetrain to direct-acting buckets motivated by an overhead camshaft with variable phasing and lift. While engineering ingenuity has managed to wring incredible performance and flexibility out of these setups, there's only so far you can go before bumping into the laws of physics. French automotive supplier Valeo SA has been working on camless engine technology for quite some time and they e xpect to have their system on the street by 2010 or 2011. Valeo is working with several automakers to implement the camless technology. Eliminating a traditional valvetrain is expected to yield efficiency improvements nearing 20 percent. An increase in performance and emissions decreases will also be realized from the system.

More after the jump


[Source: Valeo via Autoweek]

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[via] Autoblog

GM bringing Efijy, WTCC, Antara, T2X, Carmen Electra to Detroit

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While we were pretty sure GM would grace Detroit with the Opel Antara and Holden Efijy, we didn't expect the WTCC, the T2X... and Carmen Electra. But GM announced this week all five would be in icy, snow-bound Michigan next month.

As you well know, the Antara will be the new Saturn Vue and the WTCC and T2X hint at future Chevrolet style. So where does the sumptious Efijy fit into GM's N orth American plan? GM's press release announcing the North American debut of these concepts doesn't give any indication where in Cobo Hall the Efijy will be displayed. If we had to guess, the Efijy's Corvette V8 would score it a parking spot in the Chevrolet booth. But that's nothing more than pure speculation.

As for Carmen Electra, she and Mario Lopez will be there to give the whole GM stand an air of celebrity. Or something.

Read GM's entire press release after the jump.

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

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Plethore supercar by HHT Locus Technologies to debut in Montreal

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Nicknamed the "Quebec Bomb" by designer Luc Chartrand, the 2007 Plethore from HHT Locus Technologies is set to explode on to the exotic car scene at the 2007 Montreal International Auto Show in late January.

Constructed completely from carbon fiber, the mid-engine Plethore tips the scales at a mere 2,450 lbs. In standard guise, the GM-sourced 8.2-liter V8 sends 750 horsepower through the Tremec 6-speed manual gearbox with optional engine packages up to 1,300 horsepower available. To put that into perspective, let's run some numbers. In standard form, the Plethore only needs to move 3.27 pounds with each horsepower generated by the big V8. Compare that to the Bugatti Veyron at 3.52 lbs/hp and you get an idea of the potential of this vehicle. Even crazier is the number with the available 1,300 horsepower package; an astounding 1.88 lb/hp that cozies right up to an F1 car at around 1.65 lb/hp.

Thanks to Raoul for the tip!

[Source: CNW Group]

Continue reading Plethore supercar by HHT Locus Technologies to debut in Montreal

 

[via] Autoblog

All hail the stickshift! - A website for lovers of the crashbox

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We like manual transmissions. We don't like how rare they are these days. Sometimes, we're tempted to act like Stephen Wright and just say "I can't drive automatic." Standard trannies make you feel more in-tune with what the car's doing. Driving is an active passion for us, regardless that everyone else is trying to make it something you do while talking on the phone.

While our passion for driving can border on fanaticism at times, the folks at shiftyworld.com have totally fallen into the abyss. Their website is full of heartwarming tales of learning to drive a manual shift, odes to the joy of rowing your own and interviews with race drivers and celebrities. It's chock-full of good stuff. If you become a member, they've even got a tips section and a searchable database of who is still equipping their cars with a good old box full o' cogs.

Thanks to tipster amp!

 

[via] Autoblog

Toyota officially launches the Blade

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As we reported yesterday, Toyota announced today the availability of a new premium compact hatchback called the Blade. Based on the Auris, the Blade gets a sharper edge of style with a sculpted front end that's more aggressive than the bloated face of the Auris. Unlike what we told you yesterday, Toyota did not announce a powerful 280-hp V6 as an engine option for the Blade, at least it hasn't yet. At launch, the Blade will be powered by Toyota's 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, which Wikipedia lists as producing 157 hp and 162 ft-lbs of torque. Toyota didn't release official power figures for the engine's use in the Blade, so those numbers may turn out to be different. The engine will be paired with what Toyota calls its S uper CVT-i, a continuously variable transmission with seven programmed "speeds" if people still yearn the kick-down of a cog, and will be available in front- and all-wheel drive. As a premium hatchback, the Blade also gets many electronic nannies including Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, side and curtain shield airbags, as well as a driver's seat knee bag.

Read more of our thoughts and check out the official press release from Toyota after the jump.

[Source: Toyota]

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

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BMW M3 sedan to get coupe front end

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While sightings of the upcoming BMW M3 Coupe have been near prolific, glimpses of Bavaria's bomber in sedan form have been harder to come by. We found one for you back in July, but that mule hardly told us anything about what the M3 Sedan would look like since it was wearing the stock front clip of the 3-Series sedan. As far as we know, the shots we link to above are some of the first of the M3 Sedan showing its production front clip, which appears to be nearly identical to the front fascia we expect to see on the M3 Coupe.

What does this mean? It means the M3 Sedan's gonna be a hot number, foh sho. The standard 3-Series sedan, while not exactly uggo, is creased and stern looking, muc h like the mugs of the many business people who'll buy one. The coupe, however, is long, lean and graceful with a face that could launch a thousand ships. To see that visage on the M3 Sedan is a good thing, along with the 400-hp V8 that will be located directly behind it.

Thanks for the tip, Jason!

[Source: M3Post.com]

 

[via] Autoblog

Petersen/White Lightning to use Ferrari F430 GT in '07

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You win some, you lose some. First Dyson announces it's dropping a division to start racing LMP2 in a Porsche RS Spyder, and now Petersen/White Lightning is switching from its two-time championship winning 911s to a Ferrari F430 GT. That 2,425 lb. Ferrari is essentially the same as the Risi Competizione car that won the GT2 Team Championship last year in its first season of racing.

After two consecutive ALMS Drivers' Championships, the team will be getting a higher level of factory support than ever before. By getting their car through the Ferrari Corse Clienti program, they will get a thoroughly sorted machine with lots of factory help, but they will still be able to compete for the independent championship. That would be their third in a row if the sophomore Ferrari performs as well as hoped.

The F430 GT will continue to wear the neon yellow, red and white paintjob on their No. 31 car when they go for the threepeat starting at the season-opener, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March. Petersen/White Lightning has campaigned 911s of one type or another in the American Le Mans Series since 1999, racking up 17 class wins including the 24 Hours of Le Mans twice, the 24 Hours of Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring, and the Petit Le Mans twice as well.

So far it looks like GT2 will feature 5 Porsches, 4 Ferraris, 2 Panoz, and possibly those 2 Spykers. That would be a very entertaining field that might actually start to bring ALMS to the forefront of America's racing consciousness. Still more changes are expected before the New Year, so we'll keep you posted.

[Source: ALMS]

Thanks for t he tip, Mr. ALMS Mike!

 

[via] Autoblog

Fixer Upper: Maybach 62 for only $159,000

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What's worse? Wrecking an Enzo, of which we have documented several in the last few months, or a Maybach 62? Most certainly the Enzo, but either incident is guaranteed to put a serious ding in your savings account and garner mixed reactions from your insurance agent.

Check out the price for this jewel, discovered at a NJ salvage yard for a mere $159,000, complete with a salvage title. If you have the mad skills required to repair the Maybach and can get into your dad's awesome set of tools, you could buy the 62 and repair it to for nights out with your friends at the drive-in and have enough left over to buy a low-mileage F360 Spyder for yourself.

One thing we did find odd is that the airbags did not deploy. Good for the person who ends up buying the car to repair, but potentially bad for the previous driver and passenger. Maybe the impact wasn't as bad as it looks?

Check out more pic's after the jump.

Thanks to Shoaib for the tip!

[Source: Elite Motor Cars]

Continue reading Fixer Upper: Maybach 62 for only $159,000

 

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VIDEO: Designer on the Volvo XC60 concept

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Check this video out - it's great. You get to take a walk-around of the XC60 concept with Volvo design chief Steve Mattin. We're not so sure about the enlarged Iron symbol. The old Alchemists' shorthand for iron has been on Volvos in a more proportionate and tasteful way since the dawn of the brand. It looks a little overly emphasized here, kinda like that monstrous Cadillac crest on the 'Slade, or the really big Blue Oval on the teeny tailgate of the Ranger.

We really like the trick tailgate, though, and the interior is beautiful. We're not sure how that much white leather would hold up in regular use, but it looks great teamed with the center stack tha t glows from within. They must've been watching Tron when they designed this thing.

It's great hearing that the lines of the XC60 are a hint of where the styling of the Volvo brand is headed, and that they're working hard to add more bombast to Volvo vehicles. Let's hope they can find the balance between the traditional Scandinavian design strong points and butching it up a bit. Volvo design has sure come a long way from the boxy days of not too long ago, and their progress has been remarkably quick. There's nary a squared-off edge in sight on any of their models, and they still retain familial cues after having gone all swoopy on us.

[Source: MotorAuthority]

 

[via] Autoblog

VIDEO: BikiniRacer 2006 highlights

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One of our favorite models from this year's show circuit was Anna Comingore at the VIP Auto Fashion Show. Anna's nickname is Bikini Racer. We know what the "Bikini" stands for. Anna has won her fair share of modeling trophies, and deservedly so. So what does the "Racer" part refer to? You can be forgiven for thinking so because of the bikini association, but it doesn't refer to swimming. No, you see, Anna campaigns a Toyota Supra Turbo drag racer. And she did pretty well this year, finishing 2nd out of a field of 16 nationally in the NDR NOPI Chic class, and winning Stock Twin Turbo outright at TX2K6, the Supra Nationals. Along the way she managed a best time of 11.55 @ 120 mph! Pretty impressive. Well, Anna reme mbered us from VIP and wanted us to know she put together a video montage of the highlights from her 2006 season, both on and off the track. Thanks, Anna. Click away after the jump and enjoy.

[Source: BikiniRacer]

Continue reading VIDEO: BikiniRacer 2006 highlights

 

[via] Autoblog

Die, Die, Die! - Things that should be euthanized in 2007

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(Ed. - The views expressed in this post are those of Dan Roth and not Autoblog in general. Dan asked if he could channel the grumpy old man inside of him, and for better or worse, we took off his leash.)

Our morning commute often gives us time to contemplate our navels, as the traffic engineers haven't spent enough time with TrafficSim around here. When the radio gets too boring, it's always interesting to analyze the vehicles around us. Here's some stuff we think is gangrenous, and some is just crap.

Toyota Camry Solara
Please go away. You're ugly. Yes, yes, you're a Camry, rah rah. You're ugly. Especially the convertible. Please just give us a two-door version of your only mildly less ugly Camry sedan sibling, if you must.

Big cars that were once small
The Civic was once a small car, now it's almost as big as Accords once were. The Nissan Versa and Dodge Caliber are similarly not-too-small cars being marketed on the pretense of being compact. The Fit is a step in the right direction, and we realize that all the required safety gear makes light cars largely a thing of the past, but the efficiency-lovers among us can't square the fact that these cars were once small and efficient, and now they're larger and less efficient.

Follow the jump for more items on the hit list.

Continue reading Die, Die, Die! - Things that should be euthanized in 2007

 

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

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Spy Shots: Mazda2 in the Golden State

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Although at first appearing to be a mini-me version of Porsche's Cayenne SUV, the image you see here is actually believed to be a test mule for Mazda's upcoming Mazda2. Caught in testing in California by Hidden Image photographer Antoine Guilbaud, the new supermini doesn't look anything like the Mazda2 we're aware of being sold overseas, but that's because it's wearing the attractive skin of the Mazda Veriza, which is sold only in Japan. The actual next-gen Mazda2 will look something like this.

As we told you in September, Mazda is expected to bring a version of the new Mazda2 over to the States at some point. The fact that this mule was caught in California is the real news, as that suggests Mazda is testing the new 2 for U.S. emmissions and safety standards. With the Yaris, Fit and now Versa all on the ground in the U.S., Mazda needs to shake a leg and hurry up.

[Source: Winding Road]

 

[via] Autoblog

Nissan and NEC to work on new batteries together

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Just-Auto is reporting that Nissan has approached electronics giant NEC to work on new lithium-ion batteries together. This would certainly help Nissan in its goal to add more hybrid and fuel cell cars, as well as an all-electric within three years.

As you may recall, Nissan has been borrowing its hybrid technology from Toyota and announced that it would like to do an in-house hybrid in the near future. Next came the announcement that a plug-in would be on its way in the next three years. This partnership between NEC and Nissan would cover the development, production and marketing of the batteries. It looks like a joint venture factory will also open sometime in 2010. In the rush to take advantage of new breakthroughs in battery technology, cozying up to NEC seems like a particularly shrewd move for this Japanese automaker.

[Source: Just-Auto, sub req]

 

[via] Autoblog

Ford Bold Moves - Episode 27: "Fix Or Repair Daily" finally addressed

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None of you probably noticed the we skipped reporting on the release of Ford Bold Moves - Episodes 26. Yeah, we watched it, but its subject matter didn't even register on our Interesting Meter, so we passed. Episode 27, however, entitled Proving our Metal, hits the company pretty hard with the recognition right up front that a large portion of the population still thinks "FORD" is an acronym for "Fix or Repair Daily."

This episode of the Bold Moves web documentary tackles quality issues at Ford, which have admittedly improved by a factor of ten in the past few years. Nevertheless, a bad quality rep sticks like white on rice, and Ford, along with the other domestics, have yet to change many minds. Episode 27, however, just might help. We get to see the beating Ford vehicles take at the company's Arizona Proving Grounds where the ir durability is tested to the breaking point and beyond. Also on screen is a new way to test a vehicle's durability that can achieve results in the lab after only two weeks versus seven months out in the field.

[Source: Ford Bold Moves]

 

[via] Autoblog

Westfield Sportscars developing hybrid 7

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To some, the Lotus 7 was the quintessential British sportscar. Its tires are pushed out to the corners to deliver the ultimate driving experience through a direct connection to the road. It didn't need a lot of horsepower to move it along because it was so light weight. It just went where it was told, kind of like the winning formula for today's Elise. The 7 was so popular in fact that after Lotus stopped making it, dozens of companies jumped in and started offering their own 7 kits. Although Caterham bought the tooling and rights to become the official 7 maker, there are still others building versions of this legendary car.

One of these is Westfield Sportscars. One of the things that sets Westfield apart is the use of fiberglass bodies and its own unique independent rear suspension. Well, Westfield Sportscars is about to gain another distinguishing characteristic when its finished developing a hybrid version of the 7 along with the University of Warwick's manufacturing group. Together they are expected to figure out a way to mate the 7 with an existing hybrid drivetrain, probably one from Toyota or Honda. The added torque of the electric motor should further reduce naught-60 times and fuel economy should likewise be stellar.

It's somewhat ironic that the new Tesla Roadster is seen as an electric Elise due to the involvement of Lotus in its development. This new Westfield hybrid Lotus 7 threatens to bring even more green to the Lotus name.

[Source: Westfield SportsCars via AB Green]

 

[via] Autoblog

The most expensive red and green auction cars of the year

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In a special slideshow on their website, Sports Car Market has fashioned a sort of Christmas card for collectible car lovers. Culling the year's most expensive lots out of the top auctions from around the globe, they found the ten priciest red and green vehicles to cross the blocks in 2006. Sure we already told you about the top ten overall, but this is kind of special. Starting with the gorgeous red 1958 Ferrari 412S Sports racer that sold for $5,610,000 at RM's Monterey auction, the Maranello marque places three cars in the top ten. The GM Futurliner from the Scottsdale Barrett-Jackson auction and the 1933 Packard 1006 Sport phaeton from Gooding's Otis Chandler collection sell-off round out the reds. Making us green with envy was the 1954 Pontiac Bonneville Special coupe that nearly matched the $3.24 million of its corporate cousin Olds F88 from a year ago by topping #3 mil. Jaguar C and D-Types, a 1929 Bentley Speed Six Dual Cowl tourer, and a 1971 Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda that brought just over a million bucks, cover the greens. Click the read link to see these beauties for yourself.

[Source: Sports Car Market]

 

[via] Autoblog

Another crashed Enzo... this time a yellow one!

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Will the maddness ever end? Word has just surfaced that yet another Ferrari Enzo has been trashed after a crash in Abu Dabia left it far from pristine. We have no details yet on what happened, who was driving or even who owns the car, but the yellow Enzo definitely came in direct contact with the stubby trunk of a palm tree-like plant. That's normally something you want to avoid while driving an Enzo. From the pictures that are viewable by clicking the Read link, it doesn't appear the Enzo was damaged too badly, so perhaps it's salvageable.

[Source: Tovx.com]

 

[via] Autoblog

AutoblogGreen for 12.22.06

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How does Santa deliver all those gifts on Christmas Eve? Well, by using a hydrogen fuel cell sleigh, of course. What did you think? The reindeer are just there because hybrids are cool. This story and more on yesterday's AutoblogGreen.

 

[via] Autoblog

Autoblog Podcast Relaunch Sweepstakes #2: Update

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The first Autoblog Podcast Relaunch Sweepstakes received a grand total of 121 submissions over the course of a week. In less than two days, the Autoblog Podcast Relaunch Sweepstakes #2, the prize for which is a 2GB iPod Nano, has attracted over 100 submissions. Obviously you all are catching on to the fact that these are some good odds.

Entering the Autoblog Podcast Relaunch Sweepstakes #2 to win a 2GB iPod Nano is super simple. Listen to episode #51 of the Autoblog Podcast for this week's secret keyword that's announced during the show. Email the keyword along with your name, age and address to abresearch at gmail dot com. Bamb! That's it. You've just entered the sweepstakes. We'll accept submission s through 12AM EST on Wednesday, December 26th, at which point we'll randomly select the winner. Check out the official rules here.

This is the second sweepstakes in a series of four, so we've got two more iPods to give away after the 2GB Nano finds a new home. Please subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes so you're sure not to miss any of the upcoming episodes. A free iPod hangs in the balance.

 

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

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Autoblog gets photo galleries, and there was much rejoicing

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One of the things we've always enjoyed about this particular medium is its raw, unadulterated simplicity. In the beginning, it was a title, a photo and some text, with a few hyperlinks thrown in for background. As Autoblog has evolved, we've gone from a basic rat rod, with a bare minimum of mechanicals to a mildly modded muscle car that actually has a few creature comforts and a couple of boltons. In the very near future, more features will be added, with the end result being a fully built, customized conveyance of information with all manner of features and technologies. At the close of the day, however, we won't lose the essentials that make this site the success that it is.

In the spirit of moving forward, we'd like to point out that on the right hand side of the site, you'll find our new photo gallery feature. Our amazingly, super-wonderful friends in IT have blessed us with a system that allows for thumbnails and full size images, all at the click of a mouse. This feature will make it exceptionally easier for you to view images and for us to bring you all those compelling live shots you expect from our show coverage.

We'd ask you to check out the gallery, play around with the links and then let us know what images you've seen in the past that you'd like to see uploaded, as well as what size you'd like the full pics to be displayed in. Currently, our full size images are formatted to be 1280 pixels wide. That may make viewing the pics in their entirety an exercise in scrollerobics, so we want to know what you'd prefer.

As always, watch this space. More is on the way and we think you'll be as excited as we are when you se e what our evolution will bring.

 

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

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RR of the Day - 1985 Chevy Corvette

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Yes folks, there's still another Z-car out in the pool, but it will live to see another day, because today we're featuring Lauren. That's not the reader's name, mind you, its the car's. Lauren is an '85 Corvette, and we think that she's a nice example of the C4. Reader j3studio picked up the car in 2004 and has been restoring her ever since. So far, the Vette's gotten some paint work, a new exhaust system, a new set of Bilstein shocks, fresh tires, and an assortment of other small fixes.

Lauren's been judged as being "Top Flight" by the National Corvette Restorer's Society (NCRS) and is driven at least once a week as long as there's no snow or salt on the road. She currently has around 57,000 miles on the odometer. J3studio is trying to keep this 'Vett e as original as possible, and in her stock form she's loaded up with the Z51 suspension, performance axle, Delco-Bose stereo (which still works fine), and leather seating with power adjustments for the driver. Under the hood, she sports GM's 5.7L V8 with Tuned Port Injection (this was the first year of the TPI V8, according to the owner) , which makes 230 horsepower and was capable of bringing the car up to a top speed of 150 mph.

Sadly, j3studio didn't include an interior photo, as we'd have loved to include a shot of the car's full-digital dashboard for old times' sake. That part of the car is quintessentially 80s, and people apparently think the same of the its light metallic blue finish. They called it "very 80s" enough times that the owner turned that into a vanity plate to celebrate the car's 21'st birthday. It may be very 80s, but it's also very nice, and worthy of this week's final Reader Ride of the Day.
Follow the jump for more pictures and instructions on how to submit your car!

Continue reading RR of the Day - 1985 Chevy Corvette

 

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

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Chicago-area Volvo dealer gets car tower

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Paying homage to Volvo's car-stacking antics of yore, Volvo of Oak Park outside Chicago has created a new landmark for those cruising the Eisenhower Expressway. No doubt, Chicagoland
traffic reporters will use the tower to denote how bad traffic is, like "The Ike is backed up past the Volvo tower to the Tri-State." Facing a need to display cars in a small space, Volvo of Oak Park decided the only way to go was up.

Seven cars can be displayed in the tower, which is lit up at night and will change cars and lighting in keeping with the seasons. We're a little miffed we weren't invited to rub elbows at the introduction party they held featuring a classical guitarist and a dance orchestra, but the tower concept is a new wrinkle for Volvo, and it could work out well f or other space-limited dealerships. Maybe we'll get our chance to hear an ersatz-Segovia and act like we know something about wine and cheese after all. Or are Volvo parties different now?

Press release and more pics after the jump.

[Source: Volvo North America]

Continue reading Chicago-area Volvo dealer gets car tower

 

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BOLD MOVES: THE FUTURE OF FORD A new documentary series. Be part of the transformation as it happens in real-time

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Carbon-ceramic brakes on their way down to the peons

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The sight of a race car streaking into the darkness, brakes aglow as it slows for the next corner, is one of those incredible images that just sticks with you. Those massive carbon-ceramic rotors can take a lot of abuse and their light weight and durability have made them a racing staple for more than 15 years now. Street cars, on the other hand, have been slow to adopt the technology. Although their superior performance is unquestionable, the high cost of carbon-ceramic brakes has made them pretty much exclusive to exotics and supercars.

Porsche was the first to use them on a street car when they fitted them to the "widowmaker" GT2. Soon after, they found their way onto the "regular" 911 Turbo as well. Now you can get carbon-ceramics on any Ferrari, most Lambos and Porsches, the Bentley Conti GT Diamond and the Audi RS4. But whereas half of Ferrari buyers splurge for the upgrade, only 6% of RS4 owners have done likewise. Why is that? Well, price surely must factor into it.

Although the carbon-ceramic brake discs last four times longer than conventional steel discs, they cost a heck of a lot more than traditional steel discs: $15 to $20 a disc for steel compared to $665 to $2,660 a disc for carbon-ceramic. That's quite a jump. But there may be hope. By switching from batch production to a continuous process, German manufacturer SGL Carbon AG, along with Audi, are trying to change that. If they can get the process perfected, they are expecting the price per disc to drop all the way down to $465.

Some still think that's too expensive to generate real mass appeal. Perhaps they'll still primarily be seen on sports cars and exotics, but the new, lower price would make them that much more attainable to the average Joe or Josephine who wants to autocross, say, their Mazda5 on weekends. Click through for the details about the new process and the specifics about why carbon-ceramics are so superior to steel.

[Source: AutoWeek]

 

[via] Autoblog