Caparo touts safety features of T1, mandatory driver's ed. for owners

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The recent spate of negative press hampering the Caparo T1 hasn't stopped the makers of the clichéd "road-going racecar" from releasing a host of details outlining the finer points of the T1's safety systems.

While the press release after the jump goes into detail about the Caparo's lightweight, yet extremely rigid, carbon fiber composite tub and energy-absorbing snout, and regurgitates all the impressive details and stats surrounding the AP-sourced braking setup that hauls down the 1,256-pound street-legal F1 car from 100 mph in under three seconds, it's the last bit about driver training that caught our attention.

It seems that all owners of the Caparo T1 are required to attend a training course that allows them to experience the vehicle's dynamic pleasures on a closed track. If the T1 is to be driven on the street - something that's legal in the UK, but not highly advised - owners will embark on a separate course that gives them the ins and outs of driving a vehicle with such high limits on public roads.

Caparo is touting the T1 as "one of the world's safest ultra-performance vehicles," although we'd probably ask Jason Plato's opinion first if we had the means of acquiring one.

[Source: Caparo]

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[via] Autoblog

Spy Shots: Suzuki Swift sedan nabbed in India

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As we mentioned in an earlier post today, the Swift hatchback would be a great addition to Suzuki's lineup in the U.S. Much better than a mid-size truck, at least. The Swift is a well regarded little car in markets abroad where it's sold as a three- and five-door hatch, but if this spy shot supposedly taken at Suzuki's manufacturing plant in India is to be believed, a sedan version of the Swift is right around the corner. After glancing at the design, however, we're not so sure that's a good thing. The image was originally hosted on the GM Inside News forums by member indica, and the comments that follow are not flattering. Panel gaps wide enough to drive, well, a Suzuki Swift through and tons of unoccupied space between the wheels and the wells in which they sit are tops on the list of what's wrong with this car, though we think the back end just look fugly. Those taillights look similar to ones used on the Yaris Sedan, and they don't look good on the Toyota, either. Unfortunately we have no information about the Suzuki Swift Sedan other than what this pic provides, but we'll keep our feelers out for more.

[Source: GM Inside News]

 

[via] Autoblog

2008 Chevy Impala 50th Anniversary Edition coming to Detroit

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Click the image above for over 30 high-res pics.

The Chevy Impala is celebrating its 50th Anniversary, and to commemorate the occasion the Bowtie division is offering up a badge-and-trim special edition. What you have here is the garden-variety Impala LT, upgraded for anniversary-edition duty with an FE3 sport suspension, 18-inch alloys, commemorative "50th" Impala badges and a rear spoiler. Inside, the seats are leather and two-toned, with eight-way adjustability for the driver and anniversary embroidery on the headrests. Other edition-specific features include a multifunction steering wheel wrapped in contrast-stitched leather, slightly fancier floormats, and doorsill plates sporting the anniversary logo. It comes in red or black and is, without question, the single most unexciting car GM will be introducing at next month's Detroit Auto Show.

[Source: GM]

Gallery: Chevrolet Impala 50th Anniversary Edition

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Rendered Speculation: Mazda3 interpretation gets it all wrong?

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The blokes over from AutoExpress tapped an artist to photochop the next Mazda3, supposedly utilizing sources within the automaker, and although it looks like an inoffensive evolution of the current model, we're somewhat doubtful that it's an accurate representation of what's to come.

Earlier this week, Automotive News sat down with Mazda's design chief, Laurens van den Acker, who said that the redesigned 2009 Mazda3 would take several cues from the Nagare line of concepts. All of the concepts featured a prominent five-point grille and "flow" inspired creases flanking the sides. In the rendering above, we don't see any of those elements. Instead, it's simply the integration of a few of the cues found on the new Mazda6 and its CUV/SUV siblings.

The Brits assert that the next 3 will be built atop the longer platform slated to underpin the 2010 Ford Focus, featuring a more spacious interior with higher quality materials, with a Mazdaspeed version (MPS abroad) that will utilize the 2.5-liter mill from the new Mazda6.

[Source: AutoExpress]

 

[via] Autoblog

Nissan-built Suzuki pickup confirmed

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Nissan is all about collaboration with its competitors, as evident by the rumor today that it could enter into an agreement with Chrysler to co-develop cars, trucks and engines. Japan's third largest automaker partnered up with Suzuki in 2006, and as Mike Levine from Pickuptruck.com figured out, one big collaboration that has resulted is a new mid-size Suzuki pickup that will be based off of Nissan's Frontier platform and be built by Nissan at its Smyrna, Tennessee plant. Both automakers have now officially confirmed that they're working on the truck together, and the only thing left to wonder is when it will debut and what it will be called. Mike Levine again provided us with an educated guess that the truck will show up at the Chicago Auto Show, and based on recent trademark filings by Suzuki, will be called the Equator. We feel compelled to reiterate our initial concern that entering the mid-size truck market is not the best way for Suzuki to continue increasing its sales in North America, as the segment is shrinking at fast pace. Isn't there a small three-door hatch you'd rather sell in the U.S., Suzuki?

[Source: Suzuki, Nissan]

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Jaguar and Land Rover to build coolest design studio on Earth

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Even though Jaguar and Land Rover might only have a foot or so of visibility into the fog of their business futures, they continue to plan for long-term success. The latest step is a $4 million investment in a "virtual reality center" that will create three-dimensional projections for designers and engineers to study, saving the time and expense of having to build individual models.

Jag and Land Rover worked with four suppliers to create the four-walled studio. Projecting power will come from eight Sony SRX-S105 projectors, each one of them as powerful as the best cinema-standard projector and each one having four times the resolution of HD. With that kind of capability, designers -- wearing 3-D glasses -- will be looking at photorealistic representations of their creations.

When finished in the spring of 2008, it will be the most advanced design studio in the world. We're glad to see the two embattled marques focused on nothing but getting better. Now if Jag could use that studio to make a kick-ass XJ replacement, and make the XF -- as good as it is -- everything it could be, then they'd really have a blockbuster studio on their hands.

Continue reading Jaguar and Land Rover to build coolest design studio on Earth

 

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Nissan GT-R dynoed at 475 hp, 428 lb.-ft. of torque

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Japan's BestCar buff book grabbed the keys to a new Nissan GT-R and made for the nearest Super Autobacs. Once they arrived, they mounted Godzilla atop a Dynapack chassis dynamometer, removed the wheels and laid down a few runs to get power figures straight from the axles. The numbers are due for publication in the mag's December 25th issue, but our new friend Jeff made Christmas come early.

The dyno chart shows a peak output of 475 hp at 6,115 rpm and 428 lb.-ft. of torque at 5,130 rpm. Those numbers are incredible close to Nissan's claim of 480 hp and 430 lb.-ft. of twist, but we'll have to wait until a few lucky souls slap the GT-R onto a set of rollers to get some idea of wheel horsepower and torque figures.

Looking over the chart shows very little happening before 3,000 rpm, which is contrary to a number of driving reports we've read so far. Turbo lag has virtually been eliminated on many new models, the GT-R included, so we're assuming that the Dynapack at Super Autobacs wasn't paying attention until later on in the rev range.

[Source: NAGTROC]

 

[via] Autoblog

Chevy Silverado commercial spoils CBS show for fans

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Earlier this year, the CBS show Cane was the seventh most searched new fall show. Since then, we haven't heard anything about it, neither good or bad. That changed this week when someone at CBS had a Homer moment ("D'oh!") and ran a story-spoiling commercial before the plot had run its course on the show.

On the show, cut to: Jaime taking off in a Chevy Silverado into a cane field, being chased by his father, Alex (Jimmy Smits in the lead role), and getting caught in a fire set by a rival. Fade to black. Cut to commercial: a Chevy Silverado bursting through a wall of flames, and a narrator asking "Did you think that stunt with the Silverado was hot?" Cut to viewers asking: "Uh, what the...?"

But come on -- was this really a plot spoiler? Because you really thought it possible that the main character and his son were going to die in a fire in the show's first season? Really? CBS, in fact, did get one angry call. And with that, probably lost the one ardent fan of Cane.

[Source: Winding Road]

 

[via] Autoblog

First nighttime F1 race gears up

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On September 28, 2008 at 8 pm, the first Formula 1 race ever held at night will begin in Singapore. Sixty-eight miles of power cable will provide juice to 1,500 light projectors mounted on 240 pylons around the track. What does that mean? It means three billion watts of power -- about four times brighter than a sports stadium. And that might make it the only night time race that requires sunglasses.

Recent developments in Melbourne, Australia, however, mean that Singapore might not be so special for long. Hella has created a special night lighting system for the Australian Grand Prix, and is waiting on a response from the FIA to move forward with it.

 

[via] Autoblog

2007 SSC Ultimate Aero Twin Turbo for sale

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Getting tired of the staid supercars sitting in your garage? Now is your chance to own the Guinness-verified world's fastest car, the SSC Ultimate Aero which was clocked at an average two-way speed of 255.83 mph - besting both the Bugatti Veyron and Koenigsegg CCX. Motorcars of Las Vegas, the sole distributor of the Ultimate Aero, has chassis #SSC-07-004 on its showroom floor ready for its first owner. This is the first one they have had for immediate delivery, and there are only 15 miles on the odometer. The twin-turbo V8 mounted amidships puts out 1183 horsepower and 1094 lb-ft torque. Other features include a full carbon fiber body, navigation system, back-up camera, and a front lift system to clear speed bumps. If this particular one doesn't suit your taste, you can also commission one to your own specifications.

[Source: Motorcars of Las Vegas]

Gallery: 2007 SSC Ultimate Aero Twin Turbo

 

[via] Autoblog

Spy Shots: 2009/10 Ford Fiesta

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click above image for more spy shots

Brenda Priddy & Co. caught a Euro Fiesta mule filling up its gas tank in North Sweden, and the car can already be seen wearing a few cues inspired by the Verve Concept that debuted in Frankfurt. First and foremost is the large front grille that punctuates the cladding this mule is wearing. This car's beltline also sweeps up dramatically from front to back, and the rear taillights are mounted on the C/D-pillar just like the Verve's. Of course, we're interested in the European Fiesta because after it debuts over there next summer as a 2009 model, it will arrive in the U.S. virtually unchanged the following year as a 2010 model. Expect both three- and five-door hatchback models to be offered, which makes the loss of those model types in the larger Focus lineup a bit easier for us to swallow.

[Photos: Brenda Priddy & Co.]

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Burning rubber has become an art form

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So there's handwriting, skywriting, writing on the wall and writing your name in the snow. Now there's rubber writing -- otherwise known as "skid art" -- which you do with your car and a rapidly spinning set of rear wheels. The video game Project Gotham Racing 4 apparently has an area or level where you can practice your tarmac penmanship, unbeknownst to us.

As you can see in the example above from Auto Express, we don't think it will replace Krylon aerosols any time soon, as efforts appear to be written in the hand of a monstrous 6-year-old. It also lends itself to simpler letters -- you won't be laying down Dante any time soon. And painting a canvas in anything other than black is out of the question for a while. But if you've got some rear-wheel HP lying around, and you really want to get a message across, well, it could be just the thing.

[Source: Auto Express]

 

[via] Autoblog

Eco tires: good for the environment, bad for safety?

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Continental Tire's head of development, Burkhard Wies, has issued a warning to us all against so-called "eco tires." Europe is considering labeling tires with eco ratings if they have certain attributes like especially low rolling resistance or create minimal noise pollution. But Wies says that tires purposely designed for "extremely low rolling resistance and high mileage are 10-percent worse at wet braking than those with good all-round properties." In one example, the eco friendly tires increased braking distance by more than 24 feet.

The quandary being presented for motorists is that eco tires give them the chance to save the environment and save money with incentives offered for fitting a car with such tires, but perhaps at the cost of personal safety. It's early in the days of eco tires, so there is a great deal more study, work, and refining to be done. And we will have to see what Continental comes out with, since its rival Michelin already has an eco tire (shown) that comes as standard equipment on the Peugeot 308.

[Source: Auto Express]

 

[via] Autoblog

VW & DaimlerChrysler put out more CO2 than last year... kind of

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In 1998, the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association said that in ten years it wanted cars to put out 140g of CO2 per kilometer. According to the latest report from Transport & Environment, a "green pressure group" according to the BBC, only two makers are close to that, and two out of three German car makers have raised their fleet CO2 levels since 1998.

Along with Suzuki, VW and DaimlerChrysler were the only two automakers in the survey not to have lowered their fleet CO2 levels. BMW lowered its CO2 emissions by 2.5-percent to 184 g(CO2)/km, but VW's increased by .9-percent and DaimlerChrysler's rose by 2.80-percent. Yet even though VW increased its emissions, it is still the best performing German manufacturer, with a fleet average of just 166 g(CO2)/km.

PSA/Citroen is the closest to the target, with a CO2 rating of 142 g/km, followed by Fiat at 144 g/km. For the full report and methodology, click here. And for those of you interested, GM and Ford fall in line just behind Honda, and before VW.

Thanks for the tip, John P!

[Source: BBC.com]

 

[via] Autoblog

Totally Meta: 2008 Barrett-Jackson Shelby GT unveiled

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Click image to enlarge

It has come to this. A special edition of a special edition, named for the made-for-TV cash tsunami at which many of the first editions of the aforementioned special editions are auctioned off at eye-watering prices. It is the (we are not making any of this up, by the way) Barrett-Jackson Shelby GT. There will be 100 of them in total (coupes and convertibles), they will be black with (again, not making it up) "Barrett-Jackson Red" stripes, Barrett-Jackson sill plates, all the expected Shelby badging, and they'll start at a smidge under $39K, $250 of which goes to the Carroll Shelby Children's Foundation. Ironically, the first one of these will not be auctioned off at Barrett-Jackson. The B-J/GT is an Arizona-region Ford dealer exclusive, and it officially went on sale today. In addition to the car itself, buyers get an autographed family photo featuring Carroll Shelby and Amy Boylan from the Shelby Autos side, and Greg Jackson and Steve Davis from the B-J side. In a glaring omission, Ford mullet hero and perennial Barrett-Jackson special guest star, Mark Fields, is somehow not included in the photo. What a jip.

[Source: Ford/Shelby/Barrett-Jackson]

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Delhi Meet: 2010 Indian GP confirmed

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Formula One has been on the rise in India. First came Narain Karthikeyan, the first Indian F1 driver. Then came the purchase and transformation of Spyker F1 into the Force India team, followed by a second Indian driver, Karun Chandhok, emerging onto the F1 scene. Now comes the official confirmation that India will host its own grand prix starting in 2010.

The track will be constructed 50 km east of the capital New Delhi by JPSK Sports Private Ltd, a division of Indian development company JP Associates. The confirmation comes from the office of F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, who struck the deal with JP Associates, who together hope to develop F1 as a rival to cricket's standing as the most popular sport in the world's second most populous country.

[Source: itv-F1]

 

[via] Autoblog

eBay Find of the Day: 2000 Cobra Mustang R, #186 of 300

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click above image to view gallery

We often point out the extremely odd vehicles that end up for sale on eBay Motors, but every once in a while a true gem pops up that's worthy of note just to ensure it winds up in the hands of the truly deserved. Such is the case with item #180182185046, a 2000 Ford Mustang Cobra R. This particular example is #186 of only 300 made and has only 4,257 miles under its belt. For those who don't remember the Cobra R pedigree, it was the apex of SVT engineering at the turn of the millennium, powered by a naturally-aspirated 5.4L V8 producing 385 horsepower. Make no mistake, the 2000 Cobra R was a track special model with no radio, A/C, heating or even a back seat. While more powerful Mustangs have come and gone since the 2000 Cobra R, it is arguably one of the best handling 'Stangs ever thanks to the attention paid to weight reduction and its competition-oriented chassis tuning. The car is easily identifiable by its deep chin spoiler and large fixed rear wing, though the only time we've ever come across one is in a video game. The bidding for this mint Mustang ends on November 26th, but currently stands at only 11 bids with an offer of $35,100 leading the pack and the reserve not yet met.

Thanks to all who tipped on this!

[Source: eBay Motors]

 

[via] Autoblog

Spy Shots: 2009 Mercedes CLC Sport Coupe

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New spy shots have emerged of Mercedes' little C-Class 2-door, the newly renamed CLC Sport Coupe according to WorldCarFans. The front looks to get the same face as the new C-Class, but otherwise doesn't appear to bring anything especially exciting to the party. The interior is the same one that's been doing duty for years now, and the car is expected to use innards from the previous C just to keep the price down. We can expect new engines, including a fairly powerful V6 that should get this hatchback up and going with gusto.

We think Mercedes-Benz is missing a big opportunity to take on the BMW 1-Series in the very entry-level luxury sports car class that's just starting to get interesting. Clearly, however, a game of one-on-one with BMW in this segment isn't of interest to the Benz boys and girls, as the investment is this new CLC Sport Coupe appears to be minimal.

[Source: WorldCarFans]

 

[via] Autoblog

Bimota releases the new DB7, awesomeness ensues

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Love the idea of an Italian twin but worried you'll see yourself coming and going a little too often? Consider the Bimota DB7, which uses Ducati's 1098 Testastretta Evoluzione engine. The price (if you need to ask...) will likely keep this one from getting into the hands of your riding buddies, so you'll be sure to have the only one at your local hangout; and you'll be the envy of everyone else in attendance.

The chassis is a mix of tubes and machined plates, as is the swingarm. Both are beautiful to behold, as is the bodywork - made up of structural carbon fiber, eliminating the need for separate subframes front and rear. The end result is an extremely lightweight bike at just 375 pounds. Rounding out the package are fully adjustable Marzocchi Corse forks, an advanced Extreme Tech rear shock, forged alloy wheels and radially mounted Brembo brakes. This truly is a beautiful bike, and the price will surely reflect the design and engineering that went into its development. Unfortunately... we're not worthy!

[Source: Bimota]

Gallery: Bimota DB7

 

[via] Autoblog

Toyota exec calls Hyundai "strong enemy"

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You know you've arrived when your competitors not only begin acknowledging that you exist, but actually see you as a threat. Hyundai got to enjoy this distinct pleasure today when Toyota's chairman Fujio Cho told a group of Korean journalists that it was a "strong enemy". Not only has Hyundai completely transformed its image in North America from a slinger of bargain basement econo-boxes to a respected purveyor of reasonably priced, well built automobiles, but it's also going after emerging markets like China, Africa and the Middle East as hard as anyone else. Plus, Toyota has directly felt the sting of Hyundai's success, having been forced to rub elbows with the brand at the top of many recent J.D. Power and Associates reports. Still, calling Hyundai a 'strong enemy' is a bit harsh, no? How about "worthy adversary" or "respected competitor"? Toyota really drives home the point that the business of selling cars is like war and that no 'enemy' should be underestimated.

Thanks for the tip, catgirlshyla!

[Source: TradingMarkets.com]

 

[via] Autoblog

Nissan recalling 650,000 Altimas and Sentras

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NIssan has issued a recall for over 650,000 MY 2002 and 2005-06 Altimas and Sentras sold with the company's 2.5L four-cylinder engine, which may suddenly stop running. Automotive News reports that the problem lies with the crankshaft position sensor, which can overheat and stop sending signals to the car's computer brain. If the signal break is too quick for the ECU to diagnose the problem, it stops the engine, which obviously could be extremely inconvenient depending on what the driver's doing at the time. All it takes to fix the problem, however, is for Nissan dealers to reprogram the ECU, which they'll do free of charge, of course. If you've got an affected vehicle, expect a notification from Nissan around December 10th.

[Source: Automotive News, sub. req'd]

 

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Lutz says Volt production by end of 2010

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Speaking at the Reuters Auto Summit in Detroit today, Bob Lutz stated that the Chevrolet Volt series hybrid will be in production by the end of 2010. What's more interesting is that he told reporters employees working on the Volt "are becoming increasingly nervous" about meeting that deadline. According to Lutz, however, GM leaders are insisting it be done, so the families of those on the Volt team shouldn't expect to see their loved ones much until after Dick Clark drops the ball on 2010. As we mentioned yesterday, the first test of the Volt's viability will be working prototypes demonstrating the car's capabilities by Easter of 2008. Earlier guesstimates had the Volt entering production and going on sale sometime in 2010, so today's clarification appears to give the General a little breathing room by only promising production to start by the end of the decade.

More after the jump.

[Source: Just-Auto, sub. req'd]

Continue reading Lutz says Volt production by end of 2010

 

[via] Autoblog

German tank bike tops all others

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I ask you, who says the Germans don't have a sense of humor? All right, so it can be an arcane, mystifying sense of humor, but it's there, and that's the point. Tilo Niebel and his gents at the Harzer Bike company in Germany, upon finding they had a tank engine to play with, decided that of all the more reasonable things they could build, they should construct a giant WWII German motorbike with sidecar.

The engine comes from a Soviet T-55 tank (though the article incorrectly says the T-55 was a Panzer -- go here for a Google translation of the original article), which was a diesel V12 with 620 HP. Note the CCCP and crest at the front of the sidecar, which adorns the front of the hood from a Soviet truck. Even better, check out that anvil hood ornament.

The bike is almost 19 feet long, over 9 feet wide, and weighs 9,480 pounds. That means if you tip it, you'll need the assistance of a wrecker to get it back up. If the Jolly Green Giant decides to go badass, his ride has arrived. Makes the Jagged Edge look decidedly mundane by comparison.

Thanks for the tip, Andrés!

[Source: 20 minutes]

 

[via] Autoblog

Raising taxes through speed traps

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As many states and local municipalities struggle to balance budgets and find funding for services like police protection, it seems like many are turning to alternative means of raising revenues. Since politicians are invariably loathe to actually raise taxes to pay for the services that people expect, speed traps are becoming increasingly popular. According to Detroit News columnist John McCormick, not only are more speed traps being used, the fines are getting increasingly punitive. Drivers in Virginia might want to be particularly watchful of speed limits. Surpassing the limit by 15 mph will now cost you $1,250 plus court costs. Topping 80 mph will cost you double that and possibly jail time. All this seems pretty extreme, especially if a driver isn't driving recklessly or the speed limit is set artificially low. Speeding in a residential area is unacceptable, but going 80 on a wide open highway in clear conditions is not necessarily dangerous.

[Source: Detroit News]

 

[via] Autoblog

Nissan can't prevent GT-R markups at dealer level

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Despite floating a plan that would attempt to stop the inevitable customer speculation in the GT-R by voiding the car's warranty if it were sold in the first year, Nissan has come to the conclusion that they are, frankly, powerless to stop it. The company says it gave up on the plan because it wouldn't be fair to the guy who really had to sell his car within that time.

The other folks who Nissan won't be able to stop from making a bundle by marking up the car are its own dealers, who, let's face it, are frothing at the mouth to have a GT-R on display in their showrooms. Honestly, after years of trying to push Maximas and Sentras, if you were lucky enough to get some GT-Rs to sell, wouldn't you add a little cream? For some new shoes for the kids? Especially since there will be only 1,500 sold the first year?

But by law Nissan can't tell dealers what they should and shouldn't charge. Instead, it will "counsel them on why they shouldn't." And when the dealers are finished nodding sagely, everyone can expect them to start adding zeros. It's not all free beer, though: dealers certified to sell the GT-R will need to shell out on additional training for their mechanics, and will need to adjust the car's transmission and drive shafts every three years, for free. That's money they will probably recoup on the markup from just one car...

[Source: Kicking Tires]

 

[via] Autoblog