Brisbane Motor Show: Aussie Utes

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Click on the image for a gallery of high-res images of Ford and GM Holden Utes.

At the Brisbane Motor Show, which started on Friday, Ford and GM Holden, plus their tuning groups Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV) and Holden Special Vehicles (HSV), had plenty of top Aussie utes on display, ranging from the workman Ford Falcon XR6 Cab Chassis, through the higher performance Ford Falcon XR8 and Holden SS Crewman and up into the fully-blown FPV Super Pursuit Ute and the HSV Thunder.

As a ute driver myself, it was great to see the totally Oz vehicles proudly flying the flag as fast, fun, rear-wheel drive sports cars with big boots.

On the side: our friends over at the Jalop uncovered a story in CarPoint that reports that the launch date for the new Holden Commodore Ute has been bumped forward and that a left-hand drive version is in the cards. Could this mean that GM is considering a El Camino comeback? An even better question is: would you buy one? - Ed.

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[via] Autoblog

Vintage Tech: The Granddaddy of EFI



Every car on the road now has fuel injection. There was no real battle royale between electronic systems and mechanical, though both flavors saw plenty of development. Rochester's Ramjet system was effective and quite slick, contained in a special intake manifold. Bosch had K-Jetronic which was a mechanically metered system that later gained some feedback electronics, becoming the very first FI system to utilize an exhaust gas oxygen sensor for fine mixture control. Fuel injection systems have now gone the way of all-encompassing powertrain management setups, controlling ignition and fuel; as well as talking to the transmission, anti-lock braking system and stability control. Electronic systems all owe something to the first successful electronic fuel injection rig to be mass-produce d: Bosch D-Jetronic. DJet, in turn, has its own piper to pay.

More after the jump

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Saturn delivers. Test drives, that is.

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Besides the nifty new Astra and Vue Red and Green Lines, the Chicago Auto Show will see the debut of something else new from GM's Saturn division: the "Test Drive at Home" program. Rather than dragging the whole family down to the local dealer to get an abbreviated ride around the block, Saturn will start bringing a model of choice to customers' homes for more real world opportunities to test them out. You just call up your local dealer and a new car will be brought out to your driveway. The program is similar to the way Japanese sellers operate in their home market. Saturn hopes to make this its standard operating procedure from now on. This seems to fit Saturn's image of luxury-marque customer service levels at econobox prices very well. It should help Saturn stay one step ahead of the competition too, as its newest offerings seem to offer quality, pricing and feature content that stacks up nicely with the opposition. The details will be announced soon, but the test drive opportunities will likely be overnight, with the cars being dropped off and returned during regular showroom hours.

[Source: Chicago Tribune via Kicking Tires]

 

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Pint-sized Buick on the horizon?

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It ain't no Skyhawk. Actually, we're not even sure this is the model that Buick may be contemplating bringing Stateside. Perusing their Chinese offerings, however, this seems like the most likely bet for a smaller Buick to slot below the LaCrosse. The only other Chinese Buick that makes a sliver of sense is the Royaum, based on the Omega platform (Catera, GTO), but that's a larger car aimed at dignitaries who prefer riding to driving. There are no facts to offer yet, other than Buick is analyzing whether offering an entry-level car under the LaCross e is a good move.

There's debate among GM execs about whether a kiddie-pool Buick is the way to go. Some feel that it'd be a bad move, and the brand should focus on moving upscale, but we don't think that "upscale" and "entry-level" are mutually exclusive. There is a market for premium small cars; witness the MINI. If the car were fussed over enough to have the General's current, much improved, level of fit and finish, some dashing style, and offer capable and competitive powertrains and performance, they could have a winner on their hands. If it's indeed the Excelle, we'd be inclined to leave it. It's based on the Daewoo Nubira, and while it looks nice enough and it's not a bad car, there's still a yawning gap to leap into a LaCrosse. We haven't seen the likes of four-cylinder Buicks since the 1990s, and very few of them were of any interest (T-Type Skyhawks, Somersets and Skylarks get a pass). If there wa s proper development put into a smaller Buick, we'd welcome the return of a car to fill the Skylark's old shoes. We're not seeing that car in the current Chinese lineup, where the focus is more on uber cushy appointments inside, large size, and conservative styling. Hmm.. That doesn't sound half bad if it winds up on a chassis with some starch in the suspenders.

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req.]

 

[via] Autoblog

All in a Name: No end to the free advice for Ford, no need to rechange names

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Click the image above for the Autoblog Five-Hundred gallery

In the news, at the water cooler, and in your favorite auto magagine, there is no shortage of advice for Ford Motor Company. Advice for new engines, better marketing, and rear drive architectures come flowing in at all angles. Most of the advice seems to center around the need to balance design, safety, horsepower, and business realities to make vehicles that you and I will want to buy. But vehicle names? A recent Detroit Free Press article is one of many that seems to think name recognition is perhaps more vital than it really is. As we reported today, it looks like Ford is listening to the calls for the recasting of the Taurus name, after all. In the end, do we really care what the vehicle is called? We probably care a lot more about what the vehicle can do and how it lo oks.

When Allan Mulally took over at Ford, he found himself wondering why the company would spend hundreds of millions of dollars over 20 years to build the Taurus name only to drop it because it didn't start with an F. The Five Hundred very well could have been the Taurus from the start, but it wasn't. Lets be honest, the Taurus wasn't the Taurus for almost half its lifespan. We loved it, then we liked it, then finally, we rented it. The product was stale. The name got stale too, mostly because it became synonymous with Hertz, so Ford decided to drop it.

Keep reading for more thoughts on what's in a name.

[Source: Detroit Free Press]

Continue reading All in a Name: No end to the free advice for Ford, no need to rechange names

 

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Mazda dealers: CX-9 sales don't need Zoom-Zoom push

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We recently lamented Mazda's decision not to bring their new MPV minivan to the States. Mazda helped explain the decision by saying that minivan marketing practices put too much downward pressure on prices and therefore limit profits for automakers. We think Mazda could reverse that trend by doing what we called for years ago: adding some "Zoom-Zoom" to the segment with a better handling, lighter-on-its-feet shuttle like the new MPV. Mazda has instead decided to focus on crossovers, much like every other manufacturer with the exception of Chrysler. Apparently SUV/CUV buyers will still accept the premium pricing that nets higher profitability for the automakers. There may be a fly in that ointment, h owever.

Story continues after the jump.

[Source: Automotive News, sub req]

Continue reading Mazda dealers: CX-9 sales don't need Zoom-Zoom push

 

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More images of the KTM X-Bow released

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Over the weekend, we were finally able to catch a glimpse of a computer-generated mockup of the X-Bow, KTM's track day terror. Now, a month ahead of its debut in Geneva, images of a scale mockup have been released, providing much more detail on the Ariel Atom's closest competition.

Looking over some of the close-ups, the exhaust outlet is a pretty trick component, along with the bevy of carbon fiber diffusers, exposed coilovers and that subtle, yet menacing wing. We could go on, but our salivary glands are working overtime every time we start thinking about this 1,500-pound apex assassin. March isn't coming quick enough.

Click the image above for our full gal lery, or choose one of the thumbnails below.

Thanks for the tip, Helmut!

 

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Thinking Big: new law opens path for Toyota takeover of Subaru

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Toyota has been eying a takeover of Fuji Heavy Industries - Subaru's parent company - for some time now. When General Motors ditched its 20 percent stake in Fuji back in October 2005, Toyota snapped up 8.7 percent and the two have been undertaking a series of joint ventures since.

But that wasn't nearly enough for the Toyota Motor giant that's getting closer and closer to the #1 global automaker spot with each passing day. An acquisition of Subaru would bring them even closer, if only they could.

Continues after the jump.

[Source: Automotive News - sub. req.]

Continue reading Thinking Big: new law opens path for Toyota takeover of Subaru

 

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Police Chief tickets himself and docks 4 points off license

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If you've ever blown past a school bus with its lights flashing, here's proof that there is absolutely no excuse. Even Kewaskum Wisconson Police Chief Richard Knoebe isn't above the law as the officer gave himself a $235 ticket and 4 points on his driving record for passing a flashing school bus while in his patrol car. What's amazing is that the officer even had a good excuse for passing the bus. He was approaching a stopped dump truck when he saw a vehicle passing from behind. He was busy passing the truck when he belatedly noticed the school bus. Since Knoebe was the only officer around, he wrote himself up and paid the fine the next day. We're guessing Knoebe received his Cub Scout honesty badge without any issues.

The incident occurred back in September but went unnoticed until recently when a local newspaper noticed the infraction in the court records.

[Source: MSN]

 

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5 more MINIs in 5 years

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Motoring File
just had a chance to attend MINI USA's official 2007 MINI press introduction, and besides seeing the new Coopers, they got a few insights into other future products. While most questions generated a polite "no comment," MINI USA's Jim McDowell let MF in on a few secrets. When asked about the importance of MINIs being British, he compared them to BMWs being built in Munich. Important, certainly, but not important enough to keep BMW from building plants in the States and South Africa. So will we see MINI plants outside of Oxford? Quite possibly. And then McDowell mentioned we should "expect to see four to five models in total from the MINI brand in the next five years."

When asked to repeat that, he said, "we will have an important new production every year for the next four to five years." Now, we know about the new Coupes, the Clubman and the new convertible, but what else could we be looking at from MINI? Perhaps a top-of-the-line Cooper like the Works or GP? A sedan? A pickup? A CUV? Who knows. All we know right now is that MINI will continue to hold our attention over the next few years, and not just for its great little Cooper and Cooper S.

[Source: Motoring File]

 

[via] Autoblog

Abu Dhabi event draws big crowd - Bernie wants more

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Click on the image above to view more pictures from the event.

As promised, organizers put on quite the spectacle on Saturday when the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was officially announced. Tens of thousands of people reportedly turned out for an F1 demonstration on the streets of the gulf emirate that featured all the big-name drivers, including Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa. No big surprise that Ferrari sent both its driving aces to the event, but Spyker's absence seems conspicuous. Abu Dhabi crown corporation Mubadala Development is a minority shareholder in both teams.

Follow the jump for the rest of the story plus the official press release.

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[Source: AbuDhabiGP.com]

Continue reading Abu Dhabi event draws big crowd - Bernie wants more

 

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TAG Team: Heuer and Mercedes unveil new SLR Chronograph

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TAG Heuer is a watchmaker with a long history in motorsports, sponsoring racing events, drivers and teams for decades. Even Steve McQueen wore one. Now the Swiss watchmaker has unveiled the "TAG Heuer SLR for Mercedes-Benz", the third timepiece made in collaboration with the German automaker.

The automatic chronograph features the TAG Heuer Calibre 17 movement enclosed in a uniquely-designed case that takes its styling cues from the SLR McLaren and boasts a number of unique features. While conventional chronographs have the function buttons mounted on the side of the case, TAG Heuer patented a mechanism placing the buttons next to the bezel, like on the previous SLR wristwatch, only angled at 45 degrees. TAG Heuer managed to eliminate the functional tradeoff between a diver's watch and a chronograph by using two bezels: a black titanium bezel with markings against which the user can measure between mileposts to calculate the exact speed all the way up to 400 km/h (248 mph), and a unique second bezel for counting down - handy for qualifying sessions and rally-style timed stages. The designers avoided taking the easy way out: it's the inner bezel that rotates, adjusted by a second crown positioned at 9 o'clock.

Follow the jump for the rest of the details, an official press release, and a second photograph of the timepiece.

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[Source: DaimlerChrysler]

Continue reading TAG Team: Heuer and Mercedes unveil new SLR Chronograph

 

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Germany's open speed limits upheld

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The days of unrestricted speeds on portions of Germany's autobahn may be numbered, but they will continue for at least the immediate future, thanks to their plucky Chancellor. The lucky souls who have a valid passport, a current license, a capable car and the will to challenge themselves will be able to do so without legal entanglements a bit longer.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel just added her support to legal measures that will help keep the country's autobahnen free of speed limits, Greenies be damned! OK, she didn't go that far, but Merkel's support was unflagging even against European Union criticism that Germ any could do a little lot more in the fight against harmful automotive emissions. The unrestricted autobahn has been seen as a poster child for what's wrong with the automotive world by some environmentalists.

Follow the jump for the rest of the story.

[Source: Inside Line]

Continue reading Germany's open speed limits upheld

 

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TVR Typhoon takes shape

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It ain't over till the fat lady sings, and although it promises to be a real screamer, TVR's seductress is anything but fat. We were pleased to bring you earlier information on the upcoming Typhoon, and now more details and computer-generated preview images have surfaced.

Once it hits production, the Typhoon will be TVR's first completely computer-designed car, helping the automaker fine-tune the aerodynamics to a more efficient extent. Power will come from TVR's 4-liter inline-six, only with a big nasty supercharger pumping horsepower up to 600 and torque up to 500 lb-ft. Supercharger or no supercharger, six hundred horses out of a six-cylinder engine is no mean feat, and the engine specialists at Ricardo helped along the way.

Follow the jump for the rest of the story and some additional renderings of the Typhoon.

[Source: evo]

Continue reading TVR Typhoon takes shape

 

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Tuner Tuesdays: Hamann's wicked 673-hp Ferrari 599

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Click for image gallery.

Haman the Wicked was an ancient Assyrian viceroy who thought himself better than the King. He had an unquenchable thirst for power and fathered equally wicked sons. History, it seems, has come full circle, and there's a lot in a name. Today it belongs to the German tuning house Hamann that, in its unquenchable thirst for power, aims to better Ferraris - kings of all sportscardom - and as a result produces some seriously wicked offspring of its own.

The latest is a complete tuning package for the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano, already hailed as one of the best GTs of all time. Hamann has tweaked an extra 53 horsepower out of the Fiorano's Enzo-derived engine, bringing peak power up to 673 hp, by fitting its own custom header. And in case the wail of the Fiorano's V12 just wasn't cutting it, Hamann also fitted its own exhaust.

Follow the jump to continue reading and for the full press release, or click here for more pics.

Continue reading Tuner Tuesdays: Hamann's wicked 673-hp Ferrari 599

 

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Chicago Auto Show: Debuts and Galleries

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If there's anything that we've learned over the years, it's to always laugh at our father-in-law's jokes. Well, that and to stay organized. So, after our failed attempts at providing some level of orderliness during the Detroit Auto Show's informational glut, the idea dawned on us that we could make a mega post of everything that debuts at a car show. Problem solved.

So we present to you the definitive guide to all things Chicago. After the jump, you'll find every single vehicle, as it debuts, including galleries of live and press pics, press releases and any other piece of trifling knowledge that we can come up with. Maybe even videos.

So bookmark this page now and begin hitting refresh early tomorrow morning. The Chicago Auto Show is about to begin. Get ready.

Continue reading Chicago Auto Show: Debuts and Galleries

 

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Introducing the Pontiac G8

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Pontiac G8 GT show car
Click image for high-res photo gallery

Finally. We have been begging GM to bring us a version of Holden's new VE Commodore ever since the Aussie sedan launched in July. And now, at the 2007 Chicago Auto Show, we're about to be granted our wish. Introducing the front-engined, rear-wheel-drive 2008 Pontiac G8. The car depicted above and in the attached gallery is the slightly gussied-up "show car" version, but fret not, because 99 percent of what you see is what you're gonna get.

Pontiac G8 interiorThe G8 GT show car is essentially a Holden Commodore SS-V sporting a new Pontiac front clip and hood. The 6.0L V8 with 362 horsepower lurking under its hood is the standard engine that will be found in the G8 GT production car. At launch, it'll be connected to a six-speed automatic, but if you want to row through those gears yourself, a six-speed manual will follow shortly thereafter (all together now...."YEAH!"). Pontiac says that the lowered ride height, 20" wheels, performance brake rotors, custom interior trim color and exterior paint color are all show-car-only parts. The same goes for the revised Pontiac a rrowhead, which is there to gauge reaction from the public. If it's favorable, we expect to see it on the production car when it arrives in showrooms in early 2008.

While Pontiac states that the wheels and suspension are exclusive to the show car, we must point out that the rolling stock is taken directly from Holden's high-performance HSV GTS model, and we're willing to bet that the suspension is also HSV-sourced. That means both are readily available, so never say never.

Follow the jump for more info, the official press release, and the G8's full technical specifications.

[Source: Pontiac]

Continue reading Introducing the Pontiac G8

 

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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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Porsche's Martini Racing collection leaves us stirred, not shaken

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Martini Racing is easily among the most iconic motorsport sponsors of all time. Their instantly recognizable dark-blue, light-blue and red striping have appeared on Fords, Alfas, Lancias and just about everything else on the track, in the dirt and in the water. After several years' hiatus, the Italian spirit and liquor brand made a comeback with a minor sponsorship of Scuderia Ferrari last year. Carlos Reutemann, Riccardo Patrese, Colin McRae, Mario Andretti and Michael Schumacher have all driven under the Martini Racing banner. But before all of them, Martini went with Porsche on the track like it goes with gin in the glass.

To commemorate (and capitalize on) the 35-year partnership between the two iconic companies, Porsche Design has graced us with a new line of merchandise. It includes t-shirts, polos, jackets, caps and belts with the distinctive Martini striping. Far from the usual standard issue with patches sewn on, the Porsche Design Martini Racing collection features unique designs and distinctive products that would make for a great addition to the collection of any Porschephile, vintage racing fanatic or style-conscious enthusiast.

Now who said that nostalgia isn't what it used to be?

To view the complete collection, visit Porsche-Design.com.
For more information on Martini Racing, visit
MartiniRacing.com (where they've got some great downloads for you, too).

[Source: Porsche Design/Martini Racing]

 

[via] Autoblog

CONFIRMED: Taurus, Taurus X and Sable return for 2008

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2008 Ford Taurus X
Click for a mini gallery of Taurus, Taurus X and Sable

Let this be a lesson to Ford: if you have a web page up on your servers, it is LIVE even if you don't have a link published for it. The proof comes courtesy of Blue Oval News, where one of their forum posters played around with URL strings and found the splash pages for the 2008 Ford Taurus and Taurus X (née Freestyle), as well as the 2008 Mercury Sable (formerly Montego).

The materials were posted, and the rest, as they say, is history. The big news, of course, is the summary renaming of the Ford Freestyle, Ford Five-Hundred, and Mercury Montego to the familiar Taurus and Sable monikers. Ford honcho Alan Mulally made it no secret that he thought ditching the old names was a big mistake, and by resurrecting them, he and Ford hope that shoppers see them and welcome them back with open arms. It could work. There are plenty of people who don't follow this stuff with the level of fanaticism we (and you, the readers) do. For them, the idea of a New Taurus or New Sable will be of interest, even though we all know it's simply a matter of nameplate swapping.

It also helps that all three cars are restyled. The Taurus is the Five-Hundred that was rolled out in Detroit. The Taurus X loses the Freestyle name and gains the Edge's face, creating a family look for the crossovers. The Sable's new front end apes that of its little brother, the Mercury Milan. All the cars get the 260-horsepower V6 and some new stuff like Ford Sync will be available across the board.

While the initial reaction may be to dismiss this as an act of desperation, it very nicely sets up 2010, when the entire Ford lineup should be all-new. These are just renamed cars right now, but when they get redesigned, they'll be the all-new Taurus and Sable. They'll have had a couple of years to reconnect with the public and by then, all this naming hubbub is going to be a very distant memory. Especially to consumers.

Follow the jump for the press releases on all three.

Stay tuned tomorrow for much more on these cars, as the Chi-town crew will have live shots, full galleries, and (hopefully) video.

[Source: Blue Oval News]

Continue reading CONFIRMED: Taurus, Taurus X and Sable return for 2008

 

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