Volvo developing C30 series hybrid concept

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Volvo has long tried to be good environmental stewards. Even before its revolutionary Lambda-Sond system in the late 1970s, the Gothenburg-based automaker had been making efforts to tread lightly. Now comes word that Volvo has developed a hybrid version of the C30 hatchback. The drive system is reportedly a series hybrid, with the batteries being charged on the go by a diesel powerplant. There's plug-in charging capabilities, as well. The batteries alone can provi de motive power for about 45 miles before the generator awakes. The electrified C30 will be part of the Michelin Challenge Bibendum, where engineers will presumably be trying to break stuff so that any production version has well-vetted hardware. No details are available about whether the hybrid hardware was developed in-house by Volvo or bequeathed by parent Ford, which developed a similar series hybrid drivetrain with a hydrogen fuel-cell generator for the Airstream Concept that debuted at the Detroit Auto Show this year.

[Source: Autobild - in German]

 

[via] Autoblog

Freemasons getting into NASCAR

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If bestselling author Dan Brown ever decides to center a book around racing, the Freemasons, who figure largely in his symbology-driven novels, have served up a real-life scenario that he can draw from. Seth Stevenson, who writes Slate.com's Ad Report Card, delves into the details surrounding the Masons' NASCAR Busch Series #34 Scottish Rite Chevrolet (which is decorated with a giant two-headed Masonic eagle on its hood).

Stevenson ran across the machine when he saw it parked outside the Masonic Temple in Washington D.C. The seemingly incongruous combination has a purpose: the Masons are recruiting, and they think that the massive TV exposure the car will receive during race telecasts will help bring in new, younger members.

If I was a conspiracy nut, I'd carry on about about the subliminal messages ESPN will unwittingly be broadcasting as the symbol-covered racer makes the Busch Series rounds. The truth is, however, viewers who don't know better (I'm guessing this will be more than a few) are just as likely to look at "Scottish Rite" and the Masonic eagle and assume it's all a promotion for some sort of new deodorant or shampoo as they are to make the Masonic connection and investigate further at their local hall. You have to credit the Masons for thinking out of the box on this one, though.

Naturally, there are additional elements to the story -- the Scottish Rite apparently isn't paying the race team a dime, even though they're the car's primary sponsor -- that make the whole thing even more interestin g. Especially if you put your tinfoil hat on.
[via] Autoblog

VIDEO: Xtreme shadow puppets sell the VW Phaeton

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This spot is as amazing as the fact that the Phaeton actually made it into production. Of course, its run didn't pan out (at least in the U.S.), but you have to admit the Phaeton's a hell of a car no matter the badge on the grille. This commercial is truly incredible, as well. The expressiveness, detail and natural-looking motion these shadow puppets achieve just boggles the mind. Actually, it makes us wonder if it was a real spectacular feat shot in a single take with many talented performers who had rehearsed it until they were doing it in their sleep; or if it was a digital creation. Either way has its challenges, but we're more impressed with the former, so that's the story we'll continue to tell ourselves.

Video after the jump

[Sou rce: YouTube via Fresh Creation]

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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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NYC trying its luck with first robotic parking garage

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Robotic parking garages haven't caught on in the U.S. like they have in other developed countries. Perhaps that's because we're not as strapped for open space as other nations, or maybe its because the only robotic parking garage in the U.S. has dropped both a Cadillac Deville and a Jeep several stories and trapped its patrons vehicles inside for 26 hours because of a software glitch. We reported on that robotic garage back in August when a legal dispute between the city of Hoboken, NJ and Robotic Parking Systems, Inc. trapped even more cars inside.

In the Big Apple, however, space for parking is at such a premium that they're willing to risk the aforementioned pit falls to give this robotic storage-and- retrieval thing the old college try. A new robotic garage will open in Chinatown in early February that, unlike the Hoboken facility, stores its cars underground beneath an apartment building. Built by Automotion Parking Systems (click link to watch a demo), the Chinatown facility will be able to fit 67 vehicles where a traditional garage could only fit 24. Patrons can pay $25/day to park or $400/month, which the AP report tells us is competitive for NYC parking. Automotion claims there's a virtual impossibility of any snafus occuring similar to the ones that plagued the parking patrons of Hoboken, though time will certainly tell on this one.

As always, we here at Autoblog would like to extend our warmest greetings to our new robotic overlords, and just say that we look forward to becoming their sole source of power after we scorch the sky.

[Source: Associated Press]

 

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Nanjing nearly ready to restart MG production

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For those awaiting the return of the Modern Gentleman, your wait is nearly over if you live somewhere other than the U.S. New owners of the MG name and much of the defunct automaker's production equipment, Nanjing Automobile Group, have announced that production of cars based on the old MG TF roadster will begin in China as soon as March of this year, while low volume production of right-hand drive models will begin at the automaker's old Longbridge assembly plant in April or May. The Chinese plant located in Pukou, Nanjing Province will handle the bulk of production, which is pegged at 6,000 units annually, though any righ t-hand drive orders will get their final assembly in Longbridge. Unfortunately, Nanjing has been mum on the prospects of selling MG-branded vehicles in the States again since the possibility was mentioned back in July of last year.

[Source: Just-auto]

 

[via] Autoblog

eBay Find of the Day: slightly used Lotus Elise

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You may remember reading our original post on this Lotus Elise and feeling the abject horror that accompanies the site of such a car pointing towards the sky. Well, the owner has decided to salvage what he can from the debacle that saw his beloved Elise tumble from a mechanic's lift by selling it on eBay. Actually, he's really selling it because a bad motorcycle accident left his leg not strong enough to shift the car anymore. He does give pretty good disclosure of the accident on the auction page, saying that his buddy, a body repair man, could fix the damage done by the fall for $2,000. Hmm... no thanks. It sounds like the car is still in driveable condition, however, and at the moment the bidding has reached only $13,601 with a litle over 3.5 days to go. Somebody needs to give this car a good home and nurse it back to health.

Thanks for the tip, Thomas!

[Source: eBay]

 

[via] Autoblog

Nissan Altima Hybrid starts at $24,400 for the few who can buy it

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The Altima Hybrid is a strange bird, a very strange bird indeed. Nissan signed a deal with Toyota back in 2002 to license its Hybrid Synergy Drive technology for use in the Altima Hybrid, but will be dropping the Toyota bits as soon as an in-house team can develop its own hybrid technology. Meanwhile, the Altima Hybrid will be sold with Toyota technology in only eight states, which include California and seven other northeastern states that have adopted California's strict emissions regulations. Nissan announced today that the car will carries a base price of $24,440.

We've got more to say on the Nissan Altima Hybrid after the jump, along with Nissan's official press release.

[Source: Nissan]

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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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Supercar Sunday at VCR: Tank Car storms SoCal meet

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Click above for a high-res gallery of images of the Tank Car and others

We are pretty lucky out here in Southern California, and, yes, we know we don't deserve it. Despite the ridiculously overzealous government, ever-present smog and overpopulation, we are blessed with a lot of very cool cars and very cool car people. And the weather usually allows for regular opportunities to drive and show these cars year-round. Besides the Crystal Cove and successor Cars & Coffee shows that we have covered in the past, there are numerous similar events all over the Southland. One of our favorites is another gathering a bit further north in Woodland Hills. 70 miles from the Irvine locale, it's worth the one-hour drive on the last Sunday of the month to see some of the most outrageous rides and meet some of the most generous people on the planet. "Off week" Sundays are usually pretty great, but the final Sunday is usually killer. This past Sunday was a great example.

It was cloudy but stayed dry most of the way up there. And then about ten miles from the Village Coffee Roaster the roads were suddenly wet. Not a good omen. Although the people that regularly gather for Supercar Sundays at VCR are a pretty hardy bunch, rain usually keeps the lot fairly empty. It came as quiet a thrill then to see a few Vipers, Ford GTs, and a whole fleet of SRT-8 Mopars and Jeeps already assembl ed. And it only got better from there. A Suzuki Cappuccino and Honda Beat rolled in for some comic relief and then an SLR, CLK DTM and yellow Enzo showed up. Still not a full house, but already worth the drive. It got even better. Follow the jump for the rest of the story.

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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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Where is he now? Lee Iacocca rolls the dice in Nevada

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It's been a while since we mentioned Lee Iacocca. But he is in the news once again and we feel obliged to pass along the latest chapter in this automotive icon's professional life. While one of his former employers was busy announcing a record $12 billion loss, Lee was meeting with the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC). It seems Lido is getting into the gambling game.

Apparently Iacocca owns 12% of Full House Resorts, Inc., and Full House was just approved by the NGC to purchase Stockman's Casino in Fallon, Nevada. Iacocca told the Detroit Free Press that running a cas ino is similar to running an auto company. "Set your priorities, get good people around you and take care of the customers."

And Lee should know, too. Besides being the former President of Ford, CEO of Chrysler, head of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, and author, he's been an actor, appearing in Miami Vice and some of the funniest fish-out-of-water ads we've ever seen with Snoop Dogg.

[Source: Freep]

 

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VIDEO: Chicks! Gunplay! Pontiac! It's the '82 Firebird!

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The YouTube treasure trove continues to bear fruit, this time in the form of a dealer video for the then-all-new 1982 Pontiac Firebird. Like another favorite of ours, the '64 Dart television commercial, the Firebird propaganda film also features exploding clay pigeons. This time, however, it's a lovely '80s babe pulling the trigger during the opening minute instead of a little kid. Said shotgun is then used to demonstrate the gat-swallowing cargo capacity of the birdie's hatchback. All that and more after the jump!

[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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Future Classic: Cadillac Cimarron

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It seems that our Future Classics posts have spurred readers into dreaming up their own nominees. This time around, our Future Classic post was written by Autoblog guest writer Derek Kreindler. We know our choices are often offbeat, but Derek has taken a dive off the deep end. The piece has been edited by Autoblog staff for grammar, spelling and general spunkiness.


Who Killed The Entry Level Caddy?
(By Derek Kreindler)

In the history of the automobile, there have been many cars inexplicably authorized for sale: the homely Edsel, firey Pinto, and who could forget the TC by Maserati, synonymous with "unholy alliance"? There is one car, however, that is met with sneers, jeers and other remarks so disparaging they would make a French waiter blush with embarrassment. That car is the Cadillac Cimarron.

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The clearest form of conspicuous consumption: Radurra Clear Wheels

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We reported on Radurra's Clear Wheels at the 2006 SEMA Show in Las Vegas where they debuted, but at the time we could only show you live pics of these transparant polycarbonate wheels because Radurra didn't come prepared with a media kit. After checking back with the company's website, we found a new, large gallery of pics that better show off the wheels in their natural state of invisible glory. To recap, they are composed of a hub and outer rings made out of forged aluminum that hold in place a 1.5- or 2-inch think polycarbonate disc that's chemically hard coated. They come in 20- and 22 -inch sizes, the former weighing 27 lbs. and the latter 38 lbs. Each wheel costs approximately $5,000, which means the total price to outfit your car will be in excess of $20,000 when all is said and done. Hey, maybe your red-painted Brembo's really are that pretty.

[Source: Radurra via BenzInsider]

 

[via] Autoblog

DAMD mini Escalade has American chutzpah

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click above image to view high-resolution gallery of DAMD mini-'Slade pics

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and it's the business of Japanese tuner DAMD to take a seemingly innocuous vehicle and have it emulate a machine that's clearly out of its league. In the past, they've transformed an Infiniti G35 into a baby Aston, and now they've taken a Suzuki Every Wagon and given it the grandest of aspirations. The DAMD Concept B Type 1 Every DA64W is dressed to the nines to look like a Cadillac Escalade. Really, the only exterior modification that's performed to this end is replacing the stock grille with a Cadillac knock -off, but combined with the stock Suzuki headlights that already look like they were lifted from the GM parts bin, the costume is effective. Of course, you're not a Caddy without chromed wheels, so DAMD added nine-spoke chrome rims along with some upgraded running boards and new rear bumper. The interior benefits from the addition of stitched leather seating and door trim, as well. The stock Suzuki Every Wagon looks like a stiff wind would send it into a series of roll overs, but somehow the addition of an Escalade grille gives it an attitude that was completely lacking before.

Check out the full gallery of high-resolution pics to see more angles of this Japanese mini 'Slade.

[Source: DAMD via Winding Road]

Check out more offerings from DAMD:
DAMD if you do: Mitsubishi Outlander tuned by DAMD
Get outta Dodge: DAMD goes Loco(boy)
DAMD again: Japanese tuner gives G35 the Aston treatment
Mitsubishi i by DAMD

 

[via] Autoblog

Live like a king in Bill Ford's ex-residence

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Are you looking for a unique property with plenty of land, 5,900 sq. ft. of living space and a beautiful view of a lake Huron the Huron River? Not sure? What if we told you the house belongs to Ford Motor Company Chairman Bill Ford? Well, if you have $3.95 Million and a desire to live in Ann Arbor, then this very well may be your dream home. The Fords moved down the street, so your children may even go to the same school. They'll be the kids with the full-time security detail and access to a corporate jet.

Mr. Ford's house has five bedrooms, a tennis court, in-ground pool, and a view that is remarkably like the one at the Henry Ford Estate in Dearborn. The house sits on 17.1 acres and has an amazing 650 feet of lake-frontage. The $3.95 Million selling price seems very firm, but since it's a Ford you can probably negotiate 0% financing.

Check out the house listing here.


[Source: Detroit Free Press via Jalopnik]

 

[via] Autoblog

Diesel-burning Hyundai on the way?

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It looks like pretty soon you'll be able to order just about any make car (please, not the Corvette) with a diesel engine. Hyundai Motor America CEO Steve Wilhite is hinting at bringing some of the company's recently trendy diesel-powered cars to the U.S. according to The Detroit Free Press. Hyundai currenty sells several models (including the Tuscon and the Santa Fe) internationally with such engines. The company also chose a 3-liter CRD to push the Hellion concept seen at last year's L.A. Auto Show, showing Hyundai folks hav e diesel on the brain.

[Source: The Detroit Free Press via The Diesel Forum]

 

[via] Autoblog

Did you get your bid in? Auction closed for sale of Aston Martin

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Did you get your bid in? Hope you didn't put it off to the last minute and let it slip by. After all, this IS one of the coolest car companies on the planet. Just think of yourself being able to say, "I liked the car so much, I bought the company!" And even better is the knowledge that it might not be losing as much money as you may have thought when you first considered your bid. The bidding for Aston Martin is just about to close and we will hopefully have the winning bidders name for you as soon as it is released.

The sale of Aston Martin initially attracted more than 30 bidders, but it is believed that the final contenders are the James Packer led consortium, another led by current Aston boss Ulrich Bez, and a bid led by Syrian-born billionaire Simon Halabi. According to Autocar, others in the running include equity groups from the UK and Magna, the Canadian component manufacturer. The investment bank handling the sale, UBS, had asked that all final bids be submitted by today.

[Source: Autocar]

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AutoblogGreen for 01.31.07

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Tesla Motors passed on the idea of making an all-electric CUV, but Zap! thinks it's a winner. The company announced yesterday they'll be taking the Lotus APX concept and fill it with battery goodness. That's what we call a good news day. Read more at AutoblogGreen.

 

[via] Autoblog

Subaru celebrates Forester 10th birthday with JDM Anniversary model

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Click for high-res photo gallery

Subaru is known for high quality, all-wheel drive vehicles that offer a lot of what a Volvo would get you, but for a lot less money. The Subaru Forester offers SUV utility and capability with station wagon looks and gas mileage. The 10-year anniversary of the Forester is being marked with a special JDM edition that carries a 2.0L engine and a special white paint job. This celebration of the Forester is about as daring as the vehicle's styling -- very understated. While the 2.0L engine isn't available here in the US, we do finally get more JDM-looking Foresters in the new Sports 2.5 X and Sports 2.5 XT. As f or the unavailable 2.0, well, we'll just have to settle for more displacement, better power, and no need trying to remember another anniversary.

[Source: Subaru via Winding Road]

 

[via] Autoblog

Best lid wins topless Sebring

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Do you design hats? You do? Then what the hell are you doing reading Autoblog? However you got here, it's your lucky day. Because perhaps for the first time in Autoblog history, we have a post on headwear design. All you dedicated readers stop your groaning, it's not totally off-topic. Chrysler's giving away not only a trip to the 133rd Kentucky Derby, but a new Sebring convertible as well. (See, we brought it back on topic.)

You have a month to design a Kentucky Derby-worthy hat inspired by (and utilizing parts of) Chrysler's 2008 Sebring soft top. Get your best sketch along with a 100-word essay to Chrysler by March 5 to qualify. Complete rules and ot her important notices, disclaimers and promotional verbiage are all in the official press release after the jump.

[Source: Chrysler]

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HKS R33 Skyline Drag GT-R heads to retirement

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I'll admit it. The first exposure I had to the HKS R33 Nissan Skyline drag racer pictured above was when I won it as a prize car in the monumentally great Gran Turismo 2 for the original Playstation. That was 1999 or 2000, and sadly, despite the car's formidable in-game stats, it was a bit of a drag (no pun intended) to play with because the dragstrip was not included in the U.S. release of the game. (Suffice to say the car was not the most awesome thing to use at Laguna Seca, for example.)

Pity, because the real-life HKS drag car certainly walked the walk. In 2001, it made a 7.671-second run in Japan, setting a record for AWD cars that stood for several years. HKS announced this week that after years of entertaining fans, the car is being officially retired. It'll be displayed at an import drag event in New Zealand in February, after which it'll head home to Japan for good. Initially, HKS planned to rebuild and race the car at the NZ event, but they discovered that there was a lack of replacement parts for it and that the car's chassis has weakened over the years to the point where they felt it could no longer be raced safely without being completely redone. That, combined with the dearth of proper parts, made the HKS decision easy.

Follow the jump for a shot of how many of us first experienced this car, along with a 2002 video of the car in action and HKS's official press release.

Don't miss the video. Like I said at the top, that thing sure as hell walked the walk.

[Sources: HKS, YouTube]

Continue reading HKS R33 Skyline Drag GT-R heads to retirement

 

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RR of the Day: 1973 BMW Bavaria

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Flicker user "lithuimbomb9999" bought this '73 BMW Bavaria back in 2001 and informs us that instead of one of the stock engines from its time (either a 2.8L or 3.0L inline 6 making 170 - 190 HP), the engine compartment of this old Bimmer hides a 3.5L six-cylinder from an '88 535i. That gives the car somewhere between 200 and 220 horsepower and, as lithiumbom puts it, "boatloads of torque." Other mechanical updates include a metric mechanic sport cam, dual weber 32/36 DGAV carbs and later-model springs and sway bars.

Appearance-wise, the car's subtle, elegant look is augmented by a set of vintage Alpina wheels (nice) and Recaros from a 320i. It was restored in 1982 and is finished in its original color. The owner says that it's due to be revisited, as there's some paint and bodywork required to address some rust i ssues that have popped up in the intervening decades.

Lithiumbomb notes that BMW E3-family cars like his Bavaria sell for much less than the more-coveted 2002s and CSes from the same era and that working examples can be found in the $1,000 - $2,000 range, with mint-condition cars checking in between $5 - 10K. Not a bad deal for anyone looking to pick up a vintage Bimmer. We happen to like old BMWs ourselves, and as such, LB's Bavaria is today's Reader Ride of the Day.

Follow the jump for a couple more pics, and instructions on how to submit your own vehicle to become our Reader Ride of the Day. And next week, our themed RR of the Day will be back and we're looking for beaters. If you've got a decrepit ride that still manages to get your from point A to point B, we want to see it. Rusted, busted or smoking, submit it by following the directions 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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eBay Find of the Day: "tuner" Rolls Royce Centurion

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A new Rolls-Royce Phantom starts in the neighborhood of around $330,000. Its styling is polarizing, however -- not everyone is enamored with the Phantom's imposing look. That hasn't hurt the car's sales, as Rolls-Royce has continued to expand to new markets and added an even more massive long-wheelbase version of the ultra-sedan since its introduction. Those who want to individualize their machines can work through the automakers bespoke program to tastefully customize the car.

What some deem tasteful, however, doesn't jibe with how others define the term, and as such, we see items like the Rolls-Royce Phantom "Centurion" depicte d above. It's listed on eBay, and the item description says that it "will become one of the most historically significant Rolls Royce Phantoms of recent times." We tend to agree, as bad things do make history. Our "favorite" parts of this unfortunate custom (which was made for an unnamed "Las Vegas celebrity" ) are the trio of fender vents and the fascia update that makes the headlights look as if they've been masked off with electrical tape. Around back, a set of LED taillamps and local-auto-parts-store-looking exhaust tips keep it all terribly classy. Even if you don't like the Phantom in general, this is pretty hard to take. The changes to the car make it look like a replica. Despite all that, the current bid is $229,000. Good grief.

Thanks for the tip, Jay!

[Source: eBay]

 

[via] Autoblog