GranTurismo: Maserati releases details

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Click on the image above for high-resolution

It's been a regular Maserati love-in over here these past few days. First we got a teaser sketch of the coupe designed by Pininfarina. Then the Trident marque gave us three images of the stunning new GranTurismo in advance of its Geneva debut. Then we brought you the MC12 XX by Edo Competition. And now Maserati has hit us with the press release for the GranTurismo and an additional profile shot. It must be Christmas time for fans of the house that Alfieri built.

The press release confirms certain details about the stylish new coupe and reveals others. The 4.2-liter V8, derived from the Ferrari-designed engine in the Quattroporte, gets a power spike of 9 horsepower up to 405. It's driving through a fully automatic gearbox - presumably the new ZF unit recently placed in the Quattroporte - but we'd speculate the paddle-shifted sequential will find its way in their eventually despite the anticipated availability of paddle shifters on the torque-converting auto-box. Weight is distributed, as reported, in an ideal 49/51 rear bias. The styling was penned by Pininfarina's American wonderboy Jason Castriota, the same guy responsible for the design of the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano and the custom Enzo-based P4/5 one-off.

The GranTurismo's launch at this year's Geneva show marks the (approximate) 60th anniversary of the launch of Maserati's first road car, the original Gran Turismo, which was also designed by Pinin Farina (in an era when words were separated by spaces).

Follow the jump for the press release, or click on the gallery below, where we've added the new profile shot seen above.

[Source: Maserati]

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Another answer to an unasked question: Saab's Little White Purse

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We're not sure why strains of "Little Green Bag" are going through our head. Perhaps because it's about as funky as this little white purse. Saab teamed up with fashion designer Osman Yousefzada to create "The Little White Purse." The impetus behind the lash-up is to reduce the approximately one day per year the average woman spends digging around for her keys. This from the car company that mounts the ignition lock on the floor. It costs about $150, and is constructed of Italian leather and a nice, heavy silver plated chain. The compact purse (isn't it always the case, the more you spend, the less you get when you're buying designer goods?) can fit inside another purse, be worn as a necklace, or used as a torture device. Like any good exclusiv e Euro accessory, the Little White Purse isn't available in the US, but you can order it through the Saab UK website. We have two more pictures of the purse in action on the arm of a young woman after the jump.

[Source: gizmag]

Continue reading Another answer to an unasked question: Saab's Little White Purse

 

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The Rolls Royce of marketing strategies

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Most carmakers produce automobiles for a wide variety of customers and adjust their marketing strategies accordingly. While a Viper may be used to promote the brand, Dodge isn't trying to sell one to the same customer considering a Caliber, for instance. A handful, meanwhile, only market to the über-rich. Brands like Ferrari and Bentley may come to mind, but compared to the crème-de-la-crème marques like Bugatti and Rolls Royce, they're a dime a dozen.

Rolls Royce, as was recently revealed in the Los Angeles Times, only targets potential customers who have liquid assets in excess of $30 million. That segment wouldn't be considered a mass market, and so the way Rolls Royce sells a car is markedly different from how, say, Dodge would.

[Source: LA Times]

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VIDEO: "Redneck Rollercoaster" doing epic endos

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You simply have to see this contraption to believe it. Dubbed the Redneck Rollercoaster, it's a Chevy Cavalier that has had its seats and controls elevated to a position over the front bumper. As you can probably imagine, this makes the car a bit nose heavy and prone to endos, which is the whole point, actually. As these YouTube videos will show, the name of the game here is fun, or insanity, depending on how you look at it. Get a little speed going and slam on the brakes and see if you can touch the ground when the car lifts its rear wheels and catapults you earthward. The first video is a demonstration run but the second gives a detailed rundown of the engineering behind the RR and a basic blueprint on how to build one of your own if you have a spare Cavalier lying around (Don't we all?). Click through for the clips, you went regret it.

[Source: high t3ch]

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500: Fiat moves things up

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We've grown more accustomed to reporting production setbacks and launch delays, but in its never-ending quest to recreate themselves, Fiat is actually moving things ahead. Following rumors circulating around the European motoring press, Fiat chief Sergio Marchionne confirmed yesterday that they'll actually be moving the official launch of the highly-anticipated 500 up by a couple months. The new 500 was originally scheduled for launch in September, but with development progressing along smartly, Fiat is moving the launch date ahead to July, which will conveniently coincide with the 50th anniversary of the launch of the original 500.

[Sources: Italiaspeed and Euronews]

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Tuner Tuesdays: Maserati MC12 XX by Edo Competition

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In the world of modern Italian exotic supercars, a surprising share of the field has stemmed from one car: the Ferrari Enzo. It is in and of itself one of the best performing cars of all time, shattering previous records and nearby windows in the process. But it didn't stop there: the Enzo had offspring. Most recently, the 599 GTB Fiorano got its engine from the Enzo. Before that came the Maserati MC12, which itself bred road, race and track versions, as well as the show-stopping Birdcage concept car. Then Ferrari turned out the FXX program, something of an "Enzo Evo".

German tuning house Edo Competition didn't like that the FXX was out-performing the first ever 200-mph Maserati and has set out to rectify the situation by giving the MC12 the "FXX treatment". This isn't the first time Edo has tinkered with the limited-edition MC12, having created the MC12 R previously. But whereas that program netted a more modest 70 horsepower increase - by no means something to scoff at considering how high-strung the engine is already - the new MC12 XX boosts power by 170hp to match the FXX's 800hp rating.

[Source: Edo Competition and World Car Fans]

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Spy Shots: 2008 Ford Fiesta test mule

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The Ford Fiesta name might not raise a lot of excitement in the American market, conjuring up as it does images of pathetically underpowered golf karts that pale next to other Ford products sold here like the Mustang and F-Series trucks. But in Europe, the Fiesta is one of Ford's top-selling cars. England's Car magazine reports that Ford sold over 100,000 Fiestas just in the UK last year, some 30,000 more than its nearest rival. Superminis are big business for Ford of Europe, which intends to keep it that way with the anticipated launch of the replacement for the current car, which has been on the market for five years already.

We can't tell much about the styling from this test mule, caught while undergoing cold-weather testing in Scandinavia, wearing body panels from the current version. But expect it to follow along Ford's latest global "kinetic" design direction, as seen on the new Mondeo and previewed by the Iosis concepts. Also expect a small increase in size thanks to the new B-class platform it will share with the Mazda2, but nothing to mess with the success of the current Fiesta.

[Source: Car]

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New Chrysler campaign seeks to move brand upmarket

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Chrysler will further tout its connection to Mercedes beginning with the launch of the Sebring convertible. Well, gee, the Mercedes DNA is fairly oozing off the Sebrings, isn't it? Underwhelmed by the Sebring sedan's sales performance thus far, Chrysler has decided to move the image for the entire brand upmarket. The idea is to play up the idea of "German Engineering" while also emphasizing that Chrysler is the premium American offering under the DCX tent. Ultimately, the goal is to attract customers from Toyota and Honda, which are also seen as premium-engineered vehicles.

Time will tell how successful they are about passing off the Sebring and other mainstream Chryslers as having any link to Mercedes (LX plat form excluded). The "merger of equals" has played out more like Mercedes throwing their dregs over to Chrysler in the form of the R170 platform for the Crossfire and the suspension design under the LX cars. The mainstream Chryslers -- the ones that actually need to be popular instead of the halo cars -- have nary a lick of Mercedes in 'em as far as we can tell. Premium in this case must mean content and value for the dollar, which the Chrysler line certainly represents. Then again, how strong is the connection between Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz if one is about to be auctioned off to the highest bidder?

[Source: Auto News - sub. req'd]

 

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Audi S5 surfaces in wake of leaked A5 images

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click above image to view 5 high-resolution images of the Audi S5
Images of the Audi A5 have been traveling around the internet at light speed since they were discovered some time yesterday, but this afternoon five more images of the high performance S5 model showed up to steal the spotlight. According to the Audi experts at Fourtitude.com, the S5 will likely feature a version of the A5's 4.2L V8 with FSI, Audi's Valvelift technology and a corresponding bump in power. Clearly the styling has been tweaked to be more aggressive with a modified front fascia that includes the string of LED daytime running lights that have become trademark ware for these mode ls. A strip of what appears to be polished aluminum now adorns both the center of the front chin spoiler and the bottom of the rear bumper where, out back, it's flanked by a pair of dual tailpipes. The interior also appears to gain additional silver and carbon fiber accent trim. Will this hotted up A5 have the cajones to take on the BMW M3 Coupe? That remains to be seen, but we're left a little underwhelmed by the subtle visual modifcations apparent in these pics.

[Source: Fourtitude]

Gallery: Audi S5

 

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Blue Devil to be called Corvette SS

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We were excited to announce when Bob Lutz confirmed that GM was working on a higher-performance version of the Corvette. The announcement finally vindicated all those spy shots of a suped-up Corvette test mule, dubbed the "Blue Devil", that was caught undergoing developmental testing for so long. And it gave fans of American muscle something to look forward to in the wake of the new 600-horsepower Dodge Viper.

Now reports are surfacing that the highly-anticipated 600-hp Super-Vette, which is what we called it in the absence of anything more official, will wear the Corvette SS badge. You may recall that after the storied SuperSport badge got diluted with less than SuperSporty products, Chevrolet promised it would only use the name for cars that truly deserved it. We think it's safe to say that the upcoming Corvette SS will be a fitting resurrection of the badge, don't you?

The Corvette SS, which will be known internally as GMX245-SSC (GMX245 is the product code for the C6-generation Corvette), is tipped to make its debut at next year's Detroit show. Some of us here at Autoblog will be cryogenically freezing ourselves until then, we're that stoked.

[Source: Winding Road]

 

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Toyota says it won't increase warranty coverage

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In the face of increasing quality problems, Jim Press, president of Toyota North America, revealed at the recent Chicago Auto Show that no discussions have taken place within Toyota about increasing its new or used vehicle warranty coverage. Speaking about the topic to Automotive News, Press said, "It's something you need as a solution to a problem." Hmm... a problem like this, this, or this? AN reports that the company has recalled 3.4 million vehicles since 2005, 2.2 million of which occurred in 2005 alone.

It's perfectly valid to wonder if Toyota should increase its warranty coverage and follow the lead of General Motors and Ford, both of which have increased their warranty coverage recently. We don't dispute Press's claim that such increases are meant to solve a problem, but in the case of these two domestics, it's not because of increasing recalls and rising warranty claims. Rather, the domestics are seeking a solution to their image problem. GM and Ford have both been dogged with poor reputations for quality despite steadily improving the durability and build quality of their cars. Neither is admitting they have quality problems by increasing their warranties, rather th ey're both showing customers that they're willing to put up or shut up about their increased quality. Frankly, if Press believes that his company doesn't have "reliability issues that go beyond our normal warranty," as he says, then what's the harm in extending the warranty to prove it?

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

 

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XM and Sirius set to announce "merger of equals" today

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UPDATE: It's official!


Both XM and Sirius have been dropping hints since last summer that the two could merge into one giant satellite radio provider with a subscriber base of 12 million. It appears after a marathon negotiation session last weekend, the two are finally ready to make it offiicial sometime today and start the long process of gaining SEC approval. Though approval will likely take over a year, we doubt the feds will break this one up. While XM and Sirius technically compete with each other for subs cribers, satellite radio as an industry is in a fight for its life with other forms of audio distribution, like regular old terrestrial radio, internet radio and the 800 lb. gorilla, Apple's iPod. These two company's have a better shot at surviving by jumping in the same bunker.

Of course, auto interiors are the primary front in this war, which makes the merger interesting to us. Car owners subscribed to one of the two services will be the big winners, as Howard Stern and Oprah will now occupy the same dial. You'll be able to get all your satellite radio sports coverage with one subscription now, as well.

Trying to meld two established brands into one, however, is not an easy thing to do. Just ask DaimlerChrysler if you need a reference. We chuckled out loud while reading the linked article from the New York Post when the author describes the deal as a "merger of equals". Sure...

[Source: The New York Post]

 

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Woman exits parking garage through second floor wall

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The photo pretty much tells the story here. A 49-year-old woman, who was reverse parking in a multi-story car park, mixed up the gas and brake pedals and almost ran her car completely through the second floor garage wall - check out the second photo after the jump.

Looking like something out of an action movie, this nasty situation took place on the January 23rd, 2007 in the northern German town of Langenhagen. Apparently the automatic gearbox was the villain according to the woman, who was thankfully unharmed but no doubt received the shock of her life. Wonder if anyone was walking down the sidewalk underneath when it happened?

[Source: Drive.com.au]

Continue reading Woman exits parking garage through second floor wall

 

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High performance R-badged Touareg on its way

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According to AutoTelegraaf, a loose-lipped V-dub employee spilled the beans that the German automaker is developing an R-badged high-performance version of the Touareg SUV. Unlike current gas-powered R variants such as the R32 Golf and upcoming R36 Passat, the R-badged Touareg will likely be based on the 4.9L V10 TDI model. Motor Authority reports that aftermarket tuners have gotten this engine to produce upwards of 625 ft-lbs. of torque and 365bhp, which bodes well for this SUV's potential. According to VW's naming convention, the new model will likely be called the R50. In terms of appearance, it's thought the R50 will resemble the R-line Touareg (shown) that can be built by outfitting your SUV with parts from the VW Individual customization program. Unfortunatel y, there's no word on whether this speculation includes the U.S. as a possible market for the R50. Currently, we're only promised the presence of the R32, which isn't even here yet (you can preorder one of the 5,000 earmarked for the States here), so chances are the R50 is not in our immediate future.

[Source: AutoTelegraaf via Motor Authority]

 

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VIDEO: Ferrari 599 GTB vs. Porche Carrera GT

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There could hardly be two more different approaches to the exotic supercar than the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano and the Porsche Carrera GT. One's a production Italian gran tourismo with a front-mounted V12, and the other's a rare German targa with a mid-mounted V10. The Ferrari was designed and executed to be easy to drive, while the Porsche is reportedly twitchier than a monkey drinking coffee. As far as exotic sportscars go, they're like apples and oranges.

The question is, which one is faster? The video after the jump has your answer. The two supercars make two runs from a rolling start. One pulls ahead but by the end of the drag strip the second is ahead by a couple car-lengths. Follow the jump to find out which took the checkered flag.

(If you're thinking the Enzo would be a more fitting adversary for the Carrera GT, you're not the only one.)

[Source: German Car Blog]

Continue reading VIDEO: Ferrari 599 GTB vs. Porche Carrera GT

 

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Maserati GranTurismo Coupe pics surface

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Looks like the new car intro embargo-breaking will continue, this time overseas. A couple of weeks before the car is set to debut officially at next month's Geneva Motor Show, here are a few images of Maserati's new GT Coupe. This Pininfarina-styled coupe takes the Quattroporte's styling in a much bolder direction.

The current Coupes have failed to enthuse as much as hoped, although their performance is stellar. As we told you a few days ago, the car should be quite a mover. MotorAuthority is reporting an anticipated (and amazing for a front-engine coupe) 49/51 weight distribution. Rumored to be powered by an upgraded 400 hp 4.2-liter V8, performance should again match the car's promise. As evidenced by the tail lettering, the full GranTurismo name will be used on the new GT. Expect cars on dealer lots by Summer.

And there are rumors of the new GranSport model as well. Featuring an all-new 450 hp 4.7-liter V8 from Alfa Romeo's 8C Competizione, it should better match up against the M6/XKR/DB9 competition. A new Spyder and possibly a Coupe-Convertible with a retractable hardtop should follow some time next year. And of course, this is also the platform that the upcoming entry-level Dino might share when it shows up late this year. That car is still unofficial, but word has it that this baby Ferrari will sell for around 175 large and might not be a Ferrari at all (no Prancing Horse logos, just like the original Dino), just in case there's any backlash. Three slightly larger pics in the gallery.

[Source: AutoWeek.nl via MotorAuthority]

 

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DaimlerChrysler stocks skyrockets on talk of Chrysler sale

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We have no idea who will end up with Chrysler once all this madness ends, but we can say that there are already quite a few winners in the process -- DCX stockholders.

While we all sat and played the Hyundai vs. GM vs. ? game, the stock price shot through the roof. Apparently in the minds of shareholders, any buyer would be better than Daimler at this point. The stock closed up four-percent, trading at its highest price since 2001. At the closing bell, the final price was 56.08 Euro (about $73.74) per share. We first mentioned rumors of the sale on Valentine's Day and within a few days the story had exploded into unconfirmed, ye t very probable, negotiations between GM and DaimlerChrysler, with Hyundai appearing out of nowhere and then quickly dropping out. While we figured the buyout was probably not going to happen, and that pickups were the basis of the talks between GM and Chrysler, the rumors persist.

[Source: Reuters]

 

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AutoblogGreen for 02.20.07

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Tesla's WhiteStar sedan will be built in New Mexico. When? We're not sure yet. But Tesla's moving ahead to bring us the $50,000 all-electric sedan. Until we get one, we'll be happy to ride in Venture Vehicle's upcoming VentureOne, based on the three-wheeled Carver. Find out everything there is to know - for now - on this ethanol-drinking hybrid directly from company founder Ian Bruce at AutoblogGreen.

 

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REPORT: Ford SVT's Hau Thai-Tang headed to Brazil

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Ford Motor Company has decided that Hau Thai-Tang has done such a splendid job with SVT that it was time for a promotion to head Ford of Brazil, the automakers's most profitable global market. Brazil has been great for Ford mostly due to the success of the EcoSport, which reversed share declines, but was deemed "too basic" for American tastes. Thai-Tang is continuing to live the American Dream, and we wish him luck with his new post.

Many of you are likely questioning what will come of SVT, which currently includes only one product, the Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500. As a matter of fact, there isn't even an SVT in the name of that one either, but we digress. Thai-Tang's right hand man Hermann Salenbauch, who was once the head engineer for then BMW's Land Rover unit, has been mentioned as a possible SVT Director. Either way, without products and without Thai-Tang, SVT's future looks more cloudy than ever.

[Source: Winding Road]

 

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Spy Shots: New SRX spied, V-series or refresh?

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The current SRX looks good, its interior was updated for '07, it seats seven, it's a Crossover with somewhat decent MPG, and for some reason it just hasn't caught on yet. There were only 22,000 SRXs sold in 2006, which equals about one-fifth of Lexus RX350 sales. Disappointing sales and pushed back updates fed speculation that the vehicle could even be phased out.

However, looking at this mule leaves evidence that there may be more SRX in our future. The large mesh air-intakes up front replace the lower light assembly found on the '07 model and the addition of V-Series brakes and wheels look darn cool on pretty much anything. There are some sweetly-revised tail lights and the headlights look tweaked as well, while somebody over at Cadillac has a sense of humor, as the SRX is sporting a set of Buick Lucerne portholes at the A-pillar. The holes could be helping to increase air-flow for a bigger, badder engine. We can only hope, but we doubt they're meant for production. An earlier Autoblog review of the SRX was very favorable, and we're hoping to see more SRX Caddy's in the near future.

[Source: Leftlanenews]

NOTE: The rest of the Autoblog team has weighed in, and we're 90% certain this is a mule for the high-performance SRX-V.

 

[via] Autoblog

Shell leaves Australia in a hurry, but Ferrari will be back soon

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We reported a couple weeks ago that Shell was pouring big money into furthering its brand association with Ferrari and F1 racing by filming what was projected to be the most expensive television advertisement ever to be produced. The commercial was set to feature a Ferrari F1 car racing through the streets of downtown Sydney, London and New York.

The crew was reportedly all set to begin filming in Sydney last week when they ran into a slight glitch: at the last second, the government in the state of New South Wales denied the film crew the necessary permits to begin filming. When it was suggested that they could obtain the permit by making a certain - ahem - "charitable contribution", the presumably enraged producer called a halt to production and the entire crew packed up and left.

For our readers in Australia hoping to get a glimpse of the Ferraris racing through their streets, you'll know who to blame for the disappointment. All is not lost, however, as a Ferrari street parade is scheduled to run down Melbourne's Lygon street on March 3. The event, which will serve as a combined promotion for the Australian Grand Prix and for Ferrari's 60th anniversary, will feature 60 Ferraris rolling down the closed-off street section, including a modern Ferrari F1 race car.

[Source: GrandPrix.com]

 

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eBay Find of the Day: WTF?!?! The Nail Polish Art Car for $60k

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This 1996 Mitsubishi Mirage just finished a stint on eBay and somehow failed to get a single bid at its opening price of $60,000. Wow, that's a shocker. Surely that was a typo, no? Maybe $6,000? Nope. The seller was really hoping to get 60 large for this colorful coupe. Here's the back story. South Carolina resident Yvonne Millner decided her little car needed a little something extra to give it a distinctive look. So she started painting it with designs that she thought might bring smiles to strangers who saw it. And "Smiley" was born. The paint of choice for this hospital worker and mother of three was nail polish. Wanting a variety of colors and permanence, it was the perfect choice. And so The Nail Polish Art Car blossomed. Millner has gotten a lot of attention with the car and even did a spot on the Montel Williams show. Offering the vehicle as a folk art piece rather than a crappy old Mirage with nearly 160,000 miles on the clock, it sadly still failed to attract interest. It has already resurfaced with a "buy it now" price of half the original reserve. The auction is now set up as a "Make an offer" sale and has about 6 days left. Frankly, we wouldn't pay $6 for it. Tons more pics on the sale page.

Thanks for the tip, Mike!

[Source: eBay]

 

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