HOW TO: Photoshop your car into Lightning McQueen

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click on image above for gallery of high-res images

Every car has a personality, and most of us take that next step and christen our cars with names like Roger, the Powder Blue Thunder Wagon, the Scalded Chicken, and the Jetta Knight (all names of past cars I've owned). After watching Pixar's computer animated opus to the automobile, CARS, we know have demonstrable proof that cars can smile, wink and express all the emotions on their front fascias that their owners do. But until now, coaxing the personality out of your car in a visible way hasn't really been an option. Thanks to psychochild on the North American Subaru Imrpeza Owners Club forum, we now can all infuse our daily drivers with the personality of Lightning McQueen and Sally Carrera. The only tools you'll need are Photoshop and the courage to use it. psychochild's instructions are straightforward and can be followed by even the newest of noobs. Even we could do it, as is evident by Ernie Intercepter and Ned Nassau (check the gallery).

If you take the challenge to Pixar your own car, send the results to abresearch at gmail dot com and we'll publish them in our gallery.

[Source: NASIOC.com]

Continue reading HOW TO: Photoshop your car into Lightning McQueen

 

[via] Autoblog

Jaguar "customized" with 14,000 Post-It-Notes

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Scott Ableman says the folks at InPhonic get along great and love playing practical jokes on each other. He says one of his co-workers is "fanatical about his car," going so far as to park it in the "most remote corner of the garage." So, naturally, Scott and his office buddies just had to stick 14,000 Post-It-Notes on the XJ S-Type.

Take note, if you want to pull off a sticky job like this yourself, get several friends to help, raid the office supply room, and plan for it to take a couple of hours.

Scott says the owner of the car took the joke very well and was even able to drive home with most of the blocks on the car for his kids to see. And all you Jag uar fans shouldn't worry. Scott says no cats were harmed in the making of this practical joke.

I wonder, though, if in the ever-escalating InPhonic practical joke war, the Jag owner will come back next week and Whit-Out Scott's Porsche. Or color a co-worker's white Eos with pink highlighters. Scott, keep us updated. We definitely want to know what happens next in the InPhonic garage. Anyone there drive an Enzo, by any chance?

Many more photos after the jump, and even more at Scott's Flickr page.

Thanks to faithful reader, Spluch for the tip!

Continue reading Jaguar "customized" with 14,000 Post-It-Notes

 

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Hatchback fra diavlo: Fiat Punto Abarth

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Fiat is cooking up something spicy and opening a bottle of classic Abarth to go with it. Up until 1971, Abarth was an independent automaker and racing team when, like nearly all Italian marques, it was sold to Fiat, who in turn transformed it into their own in-house tuning department.

The car set to revive Abarth's scorpion badge is a hot-hatch version of the popular Fiat Grande Punto. Thematically based on the European Championship-winning Rally Super racing car, the Punto Abarth will be positioned far above the current range-topper, the 130-hp 1.9-liter Multijet diesel Sporting. Sources anticipate the Abarth to be motivated by a 200-horsepower twin-turbo powerplant, which is expected to propel it to sixty in seven seconds flat. To accompany the extra power, we can expect a host of visual enhancements taking their cue from the aforementioned rally car, including a wider track, roof-mounted air intake, jumbo alloys with low-profile rubber, a lip spoiler on the trailing edge of the roof, side skirts and a black front grille like on the Panda 100hp.

It's plain to see that, just like on the F1 circuit where Fiat-owned Scuderia Ferrari battles against Renault, the Punto Abarth is aimed squarely at the Renaultsport Clio 197. A package with more power for less money plus that unmistakable Italian flare should present a compelling case when the Abarth hits showrooms late in this new year.

[Source: Auto Express]

 

[via] Autoblog

Autoblog's #1 Most-Read Post of 2006

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click above image to see complete high-resolution gallery

On this, the first day of 2007, we look back and honor the most popular post that appeared on Autoblog in 2006. To no one's surprise, it is the post in which we introduced to you the Chevrolet Camaro Concept for the first time. Titled simply "Debut of the Chevrolet Camaro Concept", this post was published originally on January 9th, 2006 during the 2006 North American International Auto Show. Since then, it has been viewed on Autoblog 364,456 times, more than any other post.

Obviously the Camaro Concept was a big hit with the public, but at the time it debuted we didn't have the ability to offer y ou a high-resolution gallery of official shots. Now we do, so we've assembled all the hottest Camaro Concept shots we could find in all their 1,280 pixel-wide glory. Check out the gallery here, and feel free to download the pics for your own personal use.

 

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Thank you, President Ford, for turning right

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As America mourns the passing of the late former President Gerald Ford, in the automotive world we remind ourselves of one of the simplest yet greatest things he ever did for drivers in America: the Right Turn On Red (RTOR).

Highway traffic policy is a matter for each state to determine, but as President, Ford was a strong proponent of the states passing it into law. He pushed for and signed a federal bill encouraging the policy, but for those unfamiliar, the reason may surprise you. Naturally it wasn't about making driving more convenient, it was an energy decision, designed to reduce the number of hours cars spend idling at intersections. The context was the 1973 oil crisis when OPEC was locked in an embargo, and President Ford had the foresight to initiate policies to reduce America's borderline-addiction dependence on foreign oil.

Thank you, Mr. President. You'll be missed.

[Source: Autoblog Green]

 

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VIDEO: 1940 Chevrolet - "The Trip"

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One thing we once again have in common with our forebears is that just as they did decades ago, we watch advertisements in darkened theaters before settling in for a feature. Of course, in the 30s and 40s it was just a wee bit different, seeing as there was no television with which to reach the masses. While we now endure rehashed TV spots before the latest blockbuster, our parents and grandparents routinely saw promotional films specifically produced for movie houses.

This one, a 1939 film touting the 1940 Chevrolet, strikes us as being particularly great right from the title card, which boasts of the Technicolor production, through the film itself, which captures a smiling nuclear family (and family dog, Rex) on a trip to grandma's. This is when men wore ties because that's simply what was done. The announcer's cadence is typical of the era, and when he mentions the "perfected knee-action riding system" we can't help but crack a smile.

Sit back, relax a moment, and click the video to fly back to a time when the year 2007 was a little more than a flight of fancy in people's minds. Happy New Year, everybody.

[Source: YouTube]

 

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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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Will Lancia make a new Monte Carlo?

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Reports are surfacing that suggest that Lancia is considering reviving the Monte Carlo nameplate for a new model. The original Monte Carlo was a small mid-engined sports car from the 1970s, designed and built by Pininfarina. Because Chevy already had dibs on the name in the US (and does still), the American version was sold as the Scorpion, and was marred by modifications that were required for certification on American roads. Lancia raced the Monte Carlo in Group 5 and was the basis for the legendary Type 037 Group B racer.

Lancia's parent company Fiat has been in the process of rejuvenating its many brands, and with Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Ferrari all returning to their respective heydays, Lancia's next. But with only a handful of quirky models in its line-up, Lancia is in need of a halo car to boost its sales and image. A small, affordable mid-engined sports car could be just what the doctor ordered. But without a cost-effective platform in the Fiat Group on which it could be based, its production could be a tough sell to the bean-counters.

[Source: Autocar via Winding Road]

 

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VIDEO: Audi re-mixed

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Audi Quattro fans should love this video. Compiled of footage of Audis old and new taken from television commercials, motorsports coverage and even a couple Top Gear segments, the five-minute video quickly gives you all the four-ringed circus you could ask for.

Despite the occasional (and irresistible) shot of Ingolstadt's Le Mans-dominating sports racers, the unspoken focus of the video is on Audi's venerable Quattro all-wheel-drive system that has brought the company to countless victories in rally racing, changing the face of the sport. Quattro set Audi apart from the field of German carmakers, leaving rivals Mercedes-Benz and BMW to follow suit with their own traction-enhanced luxury sedans.

We're anticipating lots of moaning and groaning over the soundtrack, but like it or not, it compliments the retrospective opening and closing scenes. Watch and enjoy.

[Source: German Car Blog]

 

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SMART 250 SWB Speciale

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Now there's short wheelbase and then there's short wheelbase. The Smart ForTwo is about as short as they come. The original Ferrari 250 GT came in long-wheelbase "Lusso" and short wheelbase versions, the latter more of a competition special and a collectors' favorite. To honor (or mimic, depending on your point of view) the iconic gran turismo, 250 SWB Ltd., a leading Ferrari specialist in the UK, prepared this unique 2004 Smart 250 SWB Speciale.

Under the hood, the engine was remapped, outfitted with a larger turbocharger, new dump valve, bigger injectors and the Brabus exhaust system. The wheel and tire package was upgraded and the suspension has been lowered. Inside the interior was swathed in Italian leather with carbon fiber and aluminum trim. It also comes fitted with a Sony CD stereo, sat-nav and phone kit. Outside you'll also notice the red and silver paintjob, Ferrari badging, halogen lights and aerodynamic body kit that sets it apart from an ordinary Smart.

With all the modifications, the owner describes the car as feeling incredibly fast - "delirious entertainment" - with a 0-60 time below eight seconds, a 115 mph top end and average fuel economy over 50 mpg. The car recently sold for a little over ten thousand pounds.

Modern tribute to the original or shameful exploitation of the name? We'd tend to lean closer to the latter, but it's entertaining nonetheless.

[Source: 250 SWB LTD]

 

[via] Autoblog

AutoblogGreen for 01.02.07

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I get the feeling that if AutoblogGreen's post about the town of Hamiltion, Ontario thinking about banning new drive-through windows had appeared on Autoblog, you guys would have a field day in the comments. But, because the reason for the possible ban is environmental, we covered the story on ABG. If you'd like to express some sort of disdain (or approval) for this idea, hop on over and tell us what you think about this, or any other green car story that kicked off the new year on ABG.

 

[via] Autoblog

Fleets inflating domestic minivan sales numbers

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In recent years, we know very few people with kids who have opted to buy domestic minivans as the primary family hauler. More often than not, we hear the Odyssey and Sienna names put forth, followed by an assortment of SUVs, domestic and otherwise. Some people have undoubtedly abandoned a domestic brand for one of the Japanese big guns. This isn't surprising, since the Odyssey and Sienna do the job very well.

Now comes word in Automotive News that fleet sales are keeping up the illusion that the domestics' position in this segment is mer ely calamitous and not utterly cataclysmic. Rick Kranz points out that from January through October '06, fleets accounted for 65-percent of Ford Freestar sales, 62-percent of Chevy Uplander sales, and over 40-percent of the DCX vans. And what of the Odyssey? Fleets account for 1 percent of sales. No wonder Ford and GM are all about the crossover nowadays. Their minivans are the stars in a Weekend at Bernies sequel in which they're playing the part of Bernie.

Ford's bailing out and pulling the ripcord labeled "FAIRLANE," while GM prepares its trio of new large crossovers -- the Saturn Outlook, GMC Acadia, and Buick Enclave -- with hopes for 130,000 in combined sales, according to North American sales veep Mark LaNeve. Chrysler, which as the inventor of the minivan has a lot of prestige on the line, will stay in the fight and unveil its fully redesigned vans at the Detroit show next week.

The overall market for minivans has been shrinkin g for several years in a row, and many of the automakers point to that as justification for looking to crossovers. We doubt that Honda and Toyota execs are fretting, however, since the (real) people buying minivans are apparently choosing theirs. Chrysler knows what it's doing here, so we hope to see something good next week. The market may be shrinking, but there is still a market for the things. It just takes a high-quality product to compete.

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req.]

 

[via] Autoblog

Separated at Birth: Bugatti Veyron and Bentley Hunaudières Concept

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Look too quickly and you'd swear that these two exotics are the same car. Anything longer than a glance and you start to notice the differences. Even then, the silhouette of the Bugatti and the Bentley are quite similar. Both brands are under Volkswagen's corporate umbrella, and both cars were touched by the design fingerprint of Hartmut Warkuss. The shape of these two cars seemingly represents what VW's design folks thought of as a supercar eight years ago. We think it still works pretty well.

Remembering our remedial lesson in how to pronounce Hunaudieres brings 1999 flooding back. Volkswagen had recently purchased Bentley, and they made a splash by debuting a supercar concept powered by a W16 engine with rumored LeMans aspirations. In fact, H unaudieres is the name of the straightaway at LeMans. The car never made it out racing, though Bentley campaigned the Speed 8 from 2001-2003.

A few months after the Bentley was on the stand in Geneva, the Bugatti Veyron was rolled out at the Tokyo Motor Show. The Veyron was originally slated to run a W18 engine, but the production version wound up with a turbocharged W16. The Veyron has gone on to become the fastest and most powerful new car you can buy today. It looks like the Bentley team donated their engine and interior to the final car, which has turned out quite nicely, thank you.

More pictures after the jump

[Source: Sybarites]

Continue reading Separated at Birth: Bugatti Veyron and Bentley Hunaudières Concept

 

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AutoNet Mobile rocking wi-fi in your car

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For those of you confined to a movable cubicle, having a wireless internet connection within your mobile office would be a Godsend. Autonet has recognized this need and developed, what the company maintains is, the first in-car ISP, allowing any wireless devices within your vehicle to be hooked up the World Wide Web. The unit will set you back $399 and a monthly fee of $50 will hook you up with Verizon's EV-DO network. Initially, the product will be launched in the spring of 2007 in AVIS rental vehicles for $10.95 per day and, according to the company, will function on 95-percent of roadways within the U.S.

[Source: Engadget, NYTimes]

 

[via] Autoblog

The first Carnival of Wheels is up!

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Carnival of Wheels

Some readers may be familiar with the Carnival of Cars, which used to be a weekly occurrence over at Mark Tapscott's automotive blog, Tapscott Behind the Wheel. Behind the Wheel has moved to Examiner.com (where Mark is the editorial page editor) and it's been a while since he's posted a carnival.

A blog carnival, for those of you unfamiliar with the concept, is collection of links to various stories being published by bloggers around the 'sphere. To get involved, one generally needs only to submit a post (or posts) to the carnival organizer to be featured. It's a great way for smaller blogs to get exposure, and for readers, it's a convenient way to catch up on stories they might have missed, as well as being a great place to find new (or new-to-you) blogs to add to your daily reading list.

In the absence of Tapscott's Carnival of Cars, Gary over at The Garage Blog decided to pick up the torch and kick off the Carnival of Wheels, the first edition of which went up New Year's Eve. We encourage you to check it out, and if you're a carblogger (and we know many of you regular readers are), we doubly encourage you to hit Gary's submission form and get involved for edition #2, which should go up next weekend. After all, you never know when a <cough> larger site might send some linky-love the Carnival's way. Speaking as a former carnival regu lar, that overflow traffic is fun to get on the weekend.

So, make sure you check out the Carnival of Wheels. It's a great way to support other bloggers who share your love of the automobile.

 

[via] Autoblog

Why no suicide doors on the Lincoln MKR?

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Thanks to the 1961 Continental, one of the first things many car fans imagine when they hear "classic Lincoln" is suicide doors. Therefore it's only logical we'd come to expect them on any signature Lincoln show car. The 2002 Continental concept had them, and so did the 2003 Navicross concept. So why did Ford decide to leave them off the striking MKR concept? Automotive News quotes the MKR's exterior designer, Xitij Mistry, saying conventional doors were used on the concept because they're easier to put into production. Hmmm. That's interesting. Does this mean the MKR is a shoo-in for production? Could be. "I love it, love it, love it. To me, it almost looks like a production car, and that was a bit of a surprise. It's real, and that's a good thing," said Pat Schiavone, director of the design team at the beginning of the MRK project.

One more interesting design note on the MKR after the jump.

[Source: Automotive News]

Continue reading Why no suicide doors on the Lincoln MKR?

 

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RR of the Year: Poll results

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When we started this poll last week, there was little doubt in our minds what vehicles would hold the top slots. We knew that Chuck's Jag would be a reader favorite and as polling continued that assumption proved correct. Although the E-type was enjoying the top slot, the NSX, EVO MR and '71 Celica were following close behind.

Then, over the weekend, a massive "get out the vote" campaign enacted by the online Saab community began building momentum. When we ended the poll on New Year's Eve, a thoroughly unbelievable 28-percent of the vote was locked in for the Saab 900.

So, with that in mind, we're prepared to announce that the Autoblog Reader Ride of the Year is the 1987 Saab 900 Turbo convertible owned by a gentleman by the name of Patrick. Congratulations Patrick, your community supported you well.

As for the runners up, the aforementioned '65 Jag E-Type came in second, followed by the '91 NSX, the EVO MR and the S2k-powered 1971 Celica.

Congratulations to all involved!

 

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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 Maintenance/Project Garage: 2006 wrap-up

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In 2006, we spent a lot of time spinning wrenches here in the Autoblog Garage in the process of taking on common maintenance tasks and a few performance upgrades. For your convenience, we've compiled links to each of the posts after the jump.

We already have some things in the works for 2007, but we'd also love to get suggestions for additional posts from our readership. Keep in mind that we need projects that have a relatively broad appeal, and we're a bit limited in our selection of "test subjects"; beyond that, we're all ears, so please share your ideas.

Continue reading Autoblog Maintenance/Project Garage: 2006 wrap-up

 

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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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VIDEO: Chaparral 2E continuation racer

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Many would argue that the golden-age of racing improving the breed has passed. We still see innovation and clever engineering out there on the closed course, but it takes forever to get to the open road. Back in the 1960s, Chaparrals were arguably the most innovative racers out there. The company practially invented modern aerodynamic practices as they apply to automobiles, and the cars were full of other trick touches as well. Winding Road's James Morse has spent some time with Chaparral's James Musser, walking around one of the company's continuation cars and following it to a presentation at the GM Tech center. A continuation car is basically an exact a reproduction of the original as possible. Musser offers great commentary explaining how the 2E's innovations came about, and it's enthralling to see how items like the rear win g are implemented. Not only that, but the thing sounds positively evil in the best of ways. There are three videos after the jump for your viewing pleasure.

Thanks to tipster Chuck!

[Source: Winding Road]

Continue reading VIDEO: Chaparral 2E continuation racer

 

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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: Pontiac G8 RWD sedan!

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Now that the Solstice is here and things are quiet again at the Pontiac pavilion, it's time to focus on the next big thing from GM's "excitement" division. That car will be the Grand Prix replacement, assumed to be called the G8 based on Pontiac's current naming scheme. The G8 will return the Grand Prix to its rear-wheel drive roots thanks to the platform underpinning the Aussie-built Holden Commodore VE sedan. The G8 will be platform mates with the Commodore, likely along with a Chevy and Buick variant, though it will not share any sheetmetal or interior design with its counterpart from down under. These are the first spy pics of the Pontiac G8, and while they don't reveal much in terms of design , at least they indicate the project is underway and progressing.

[Source: World Car Fans]

 

[via] Autoblog