Geneva Preview: Opel planning surprise that will please Saturn fans

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GM Europe has announced it will be holding a special event during the Geneva Motor Show next month at which an all-new Opel Concept will be unveiled. The only official hint we have is the picture above that shows the car concealed in a cloak of darkness, with only its headlights and outer edges distinguishable. The reason that this concept car will be of interest not only to Euro folk is that we hear its styling will preview the look of the next Opel Vectra / Vauxhall Insignia, the car with which the next-generation Saturn Aura will share its mecanicals and looks.

Many mistakenly believe the current Aura and Vectra are built on the same platform and share sheetmetal, but that's not quite true. The Vectra is built on the Epsilon platform, while the Aura is built on a stretched version of the Epsilon and they really d on't share many if any common body panels despite their similar styling. The Epsilon II platform, however, will underpin the next-generation Vectra, and that car will be a body double for our next-gen Saturn Aura due to debut around 2011. Moral of the story? This concept car will give us some far reaching clues as to what the 2011 Saturn Aura will look like. Until then, we are expecting that the Epsilon II platfom will appear first in the U.S. with a Saturn badge as an Aura Wagon. Though it's strange to offer a wagon version on a different platform than its sedan counterpart with entirely different sheetmetal, it's thought that the Aura Wagon will be positioned upmarket like an Audi Allroad.

[Source: GM Europe, Autocar]

 

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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

[via] Autoblog

You get a sticker: 500 Wants You reveals five finalists

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The triumphant return of the Fiat 500 back into production, which has been moved up to July of this year, has created an outlet for artist types to express their affection for the little city car. The 500 Wants You website was set up a while back to wrangle these expressions together, specifically in the form of the 500 Sticker Art Contest. Artists were encouraged to design large graphics for the 500 that express the car's flavor, attitude and meaning to the European motoring public. Five finalists have been chosen from 800 entries, and include such designs as feet, barcodes, argyle, the Eiffel Tower and a programmable digital message display mounted to the car's roof. You can view each entry and vote on which graphic you'd like to see on your 500, that is if you live in Europe and can get one when they go on sale.

Another competition centered around the return of the 500 had industrial designers stretching their imaginations to come up with products in the categories of 500 Accessories, 500 Lifestyle and 500 Everywhere. Put on by Designboom.com, The winners for this competition have already been chosen and include a special paint applique that shows images on the 500's sheetmetal at certain angles, a 500-inspired DustBuster vaccuum (shown) and a 500 equiped with a projector and sound system to play feature length films on the walls of building. We've just wasted about a half hour going through the list of entrants that didn't win, which are just as unique and curious to behold.

[Source: 500 Wants You]

 

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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: Top Gear takes a Reliant Robin to the heavens... and back

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If you missed the most recent episode of Top Gear (download it here via bittorrent), we feel obliged to bring you this clip of what was by far the show's highlight. As if the Clarkson, Mays and Hammond haven't learned already that disaster lurks around every corner, they thought it would be a smashing idea to build a space shuttle out of a Reliant Robin. The goal would be to send the craft up into the heavens and have it guide back down to earth safely via remote control. That's right, they did learn one lesson from Richard Hammond's near death experience and decided to hide the humans safely within bunkers.

The contraption certainly looks the part, but we expected the thing to blow up Mythb usters style when the launch sequence reached 00:00:00. We'll let you watch for yourselves what happens and how the story concludes in the video after the jump, but we're pretty certain that with the show's track record that you can guess the outcome. Skip to about 2:29 left in the video to see the launch if you don't care about the build up.

[Source: Engadget]

Continue reading VIDEO: Top Gear takes a Reliant Robin to the heavens... and back

 

[via] Autoblog

Shipping company employee (POSSIBLY) carted off to jail for Corvette SS pics

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We've just learned that EMO TRANS, the shipping company that was hired by General Motors to transport a Corvette SS mule to Germany for testing on the Nurburgring, has fired the employee who took pictures of the vehicle and posted them on the internet. In addition, the unnamed employee has been taken to jail, though we don't know what charges have been filed against him. For our part, we've removed the pics from Autoblog for fear of GM's wrath. The automaker has been reportedly approaching various sites all day requesting the images be removed, so rather than waiting for the phone to ring we've gone ahead and taken them down.

This clearly illustrates how seriously GM is taking the development of the Corvette SS, as well as how utterly embarrased and apologetic EMO TRANS must be for the actions of its employee. It's all fun and games on our side of the fence because we got to see some real, informative shots of this very special Vette, but it reminds us that there's a lot of money on the line. We're sure that GM didn't appreciate pics of this powerplant were available for every other automaker to peruse. Lesson learned, though harder for some than others.

We'll keep you updates as more concrete and verifiable info becomes available.

UPDATE:
Josh over at The GM S ource is reporting that the SShutterbug in question has not been placed under arrest, nor is he in police custody. GM has filed a civil complaint with the Romulus PD, and the matter remains under investigation. Whether or not the individual in question will be charged with a crime depends on the outcome of said investigation. Stay tuned. Full report here.

 

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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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AutoblogGreen for 02.23.07

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Have you heard of the Kurrent? It's a small, American-made electric vehicle, and AutoblogGreen got a peek at the assembly location and took one for a test drive. You can watch the video below, read more on the Kurrent and manufacturer American Electric Vehicle here and see our gallery of images here.

But what might be foremost on your mind is that one-wheeled Harley "Beast" in the photo above, no? I understand. It's not everyday you see a unicycle with an engine. But we're serious when we say we cover transportati on "alternatives," so check the story out here.

 

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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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SHO Time! Taurus SHO should return to lineup, too

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click on above image to view high-res gallery of the 2009 Ford Taurus SHO photoshop

I've never been one to hide my unabashed appreciation for the Ford Taurus SHO (the first generation in particular, as they got progressively worse with each gen IMHO). Readers got a total kick out of the Ford Taurus Heritage Edition we showed you a week ago, and we think it's time Ford also consider bringing back the Super High Output. Fortunately, we were pointed to another Photochop artist that already took digital pen to paper and dreamed up what such a car might look like.

The rendering, posted by BlackManta on the CarSpyShots.net forum, is actual ly more ingenious than its first impression might suggest. BlackManta grafted the face of the Taurus X, previously known as the Freestyle, onto the Taurus to create a look that's more aggressive and interesting than the standard Taurus front end. The car's C-pillar has also been enlarged, which reduces the amount of harmful greenhouse glass (tee hee) and kind of reminds us of the now defunct Mercury Marauder, kind of.

We're having fun imagining the mechanicals, too. BlackManta would like to see the Yamaha-sourced 4.4L V8 used that currently powers the Volvo XC90 since it's roots can be traced back to the 3.4L V8 used in the third-gen Taurus SHO. That engine was a blight on the SHO's legacy, though, and we believe a proper tribute would be a 300-hp version of the new 3.5L V6 paired with the new six-speed auto and all-wheel drive. To be true to the legacy, a six-speed manual version would be even better. The mind reels at the thought.

Thanks for the tip, James!

[Source: CarSpyShots.net]

 

[via] Autoblog

GM extends incentive deal and adds Saturn Vue Green Line

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GM has been working hard over the past 14 months to curtail incentive spending. Last month the company may have shown too much restraint with sales that were down eight percent vs. 2006 levels. GM knows as well as anybody how to get rid of excess invetory; slap a 0% sticker on the windshield and get ready to deal. The General did just that with their recent Presidents' Day sale and the response was so strong, the sale has been extended to the end of February. They even added the Saturn Vue Green Line to the 0% deal due in part to the fact that many Saturn dealers only had the Green Line version of the Vue in stock. Even with the big sale, GM's incentives for February are about flat vs. 2006.

[Source: Detroit News]

 

[via] Autoblog

VW not interested in buying Chrysler Group

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Gee, you lose over $1.5 billion in the third quarter of 2006 and all of a sudden you're not an attractive automotive partner. First, news leaks that Daimler wants to kick the Chrysler group out the window, then Hyundai and Nissan decide that they're not interested in purchasing the struggling domestic. Now, Volkswagen has made it known that the five-star isn't on their shopping list, even though Chrysler is currently working with VW to build them a minivan based on the next-generation Town and Country.

As reported here on Autoblog, GM has been mentioned as a potential suitor for Chrysler. We wonder if the General will get a discount if nobody else is interested. It's hard to believe the company that builds the Viper and the 300C could be wanted like a sweater at Walmart in June.

[Source: Yahoo]

 

[via] Autoblog

TVR sold again, to Smolenski



The soap opera that has been the recent history of TVR has taken another turn. The administrators of PKF Partners have announced the sale TVR's asset's to none other Nikolai Smolenski, the previous owner who oversaw the failure of the company in the first place. The sale price hasn't been released, but is believed to be over £2 million.

Smolenski has signaled his intention to resume production of TVRs outside of England, probably in Italy with Bertone doing the assembly work. Al Melling, who had previously designed many of TVRs engines, was another bidder, but Smolenski offered more money and in the end, won back the quirky automaker.

[Source: CAR]

 

[via] Autoblog

Down Under gets first-ever wrong-hand drive Z06

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It's got the same 505 HP, 427 engine as the U.S. Z06, the same 325/30s in back, and, of course, the same 6-speed short throw transmission. But soon after landing on Australia's shores, Performax International gets to work sliding that leather-wrapped wheel from the left side to the right. Sound simple? Um, no.

The crew at Performax must first remove the factory interior, make a completely new dashboard, move the airbags, move the pe dals, and put the parking brake nearer the driver's new position. Except for the fender-mounted side indicator lamp just below the Z06 logo, the finished product, as you can see here, looks no different than if it had just rolled out of Bowling Green. Except for the whole steering wheel on the wrong side thing.

Rearranging all the bits and pieces inside a high-end Vette does not come cheap. In the States, a Z06 will cost a minimum of $70,000 MSRP. Buying one in Australia with the steering place on the wrong side will run you about $190,000. Them's American dollars, by the way.

Be sure to check out our high-res gallery of 680X pics.

[Source: WorldCarFans]

&n bsp;

[via] Autoblog

Was he or wasn't he? TheGMSource reporting shipping company employee NOT jailed (Probably)

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First off, we know for a fact that's a Corvette in those pictures allegedly taken by an EMO TRANS employee. That we know. But Josh Oliver at TheGMSource now says the anonymous employee might or might not have been fired from his EMO job. Maybe. And Oliver says it now looks like the alleged photographer most likely was not taken to jail for snapping those pictures. In all likelihood. Though if he did take those sensational photos that have us all excited with Blue Devil anticipation, then General Motors is most definitely not very happy with him. And we can more than likely assume GM and its myriad lawyers have already used up several ink cartridges printing lengthy legal documents with this guy's name on them. At least that's what we would do were we an international automaker with trade secrets to protect. We think.

You get the impression nobody is totally sure what's going on with this case? Then you're right. Probably. Hopefully as the day passes in scenic Romulus, Michigan on Friday, we can take a few allegedlys and a probably or two out of the story. Maybe. Either way, we're (allegedly) on the edges of our seats waiting for the next twist.

[Source: TheGMSource]

UPDATE:
After speaking with a representative from General Motors personally, we can say unequivocally that the automaker claims not to have taken any action legal action against anyone in this matter. That's from the horse's mouth, people. Whether or not other companies, entities, or suppliers have done anything is not known, but GM appears to be staying out of it completely.

UPDATE 2:
Turns out we didn't know for a fact that the man in the middle of all this is an employee of EMO Trans. The shipping company also contacted us to inform us that the man in question is not an employee of theirs and they do not know him. Furthermore, EMO Trans also claims he is an employee of a company called Central State, which is a handling agency for the German airline Lufthansa.

 

[via] Autoblog

RR of the Day: 2000 Audi S4

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It's hard not to get all hot and bothered when we see an S4 doing the three-wheeled tango around an autocross course. However, this particular S4 is putting down 387 HP and 445 lb-ft of torque through all four wheels. In addition to such prodigious power figures, the 2.7L twin-turbo'd Audi has been piloted to a number of first place wins under the deft touch of Oliver Licul, an SCCA participant, instructor and Autoblog reader.

The extensive catalog of mods is listed after the jump, along with another photo of Oliver's ride doing its thing, but a few items deserve note. First, the suspension is made up of custom Koni double adjustable coilovers, sporting 800 lb. springs in the front, while 950 lb. springs hold up the rear. All those cushy stock bushings have been swapped out in favor of soli d, spherical bearings, along with hollow sway bars fore and aft. Mr. Licul admits that it's still a porker, coming in 600 pounds overweight for its class, but judging from his accomplishments around the cones, he's made up for it with some serious skill behind the wheel (that, and gobs of power).

Check the rest after the jump, plus find out how to submit your own ride to our Flickr pool.

Continue reading RR of the Day: 2000 Audi S4

 

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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: 2009 Lotus Esprit on the street

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After many fits and starts over the last fifteen years, a replacement for the iconic Lotus Esprit finally seems to be nearing reality. Spy photos of various prototypes have been cropping up with increasing frequency in recent weeks, but this is the first shot of the latest prototype on the road, probably somewhere in Norfolk.

The Lotus designed 3.5L V-8 in the last iteration of the Esprit will be supplanted by a BMW supplied V-8 this time around, probably producing 370 hp or so. MotorAuthority expects the weight to come in around 2600 lbs., which should be easily achievable if Lotus uses the bonded aluminum extrusion technology of the Elise. With this much power in such a light car, it could put the likes of the F430 and Gallardo to shame.

[Source: Autovisie.nl via MotorAuthority]

 

[via] Autoblog

Mark the date: 2008 Porsche Cayenne hits Euro dealers this Saturday

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Click image for gallery of 72 wallpaper-sized images

The 2008 Porsche Cayenne will be at dealerships this Saturday, February 24th, awaiting new owners with wallets big enough to tame the German sports car maker's only SUV. Clearly, there are many equestrians who need the Cayenne's combination of sport, utility and exclusivity to haul around their thoroughbreds, as the picture above, one of many released today by Porsche, illustrates. Make no mistake, however, the new Cayenne is no gelding. In fact, all three models have received a significant bump in power thanks to the addition of direction injection. The base model increases 40 hp to 290 hp, the S gets 45 hp more to make 385 hp and the Turbo S jumps a full 50 hp to a nice, round 500 hp (Those are European numbers. Despite the increases, Porsche claims that each engine consumes 15% less fuel.



As for the 2008 model's styling, most of the changes occur up front to the Cayenne's polarizing front fascia. Its looks were always unmistakeably that of a Porsche, and that hasn't changed. The soft face up front has been changed to be much more aggressive with new headlights and larger air intakes. We have to say that the only model we find even remotely attractive is the Turbo S thanks to its trademark LED lights within the outer intakes. The intakes on the base and S model, however, just come off as gratuitously large. We have 85 high-rseolution shots of 2008 Porsche Cayenne to help you make up your own mind.

Check out the official press release for Euro pricing after the jump. We'll keep you updated on the U.S. versions, which should be around next month.

[Source: Porsche]

Continue reading Mark the date: 2008 Porsche Cayenne hits Euro dealers this Saturday

 

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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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Custom Style! Mazda AZ-Wagon arrives in Japan

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Mazda AZ-Wagon
Click image for one more high-res photo

Behold Mazda's new kei car, the AZ-Wagon. Like its predecessors, the new AZ is simply a rebadged Suzuki Wagon R. In this case, the donor vehicle is the just-introduced Wagon R Stingray, which eschews the standard Wagon R face in favor of a more squared-off ,Toyota bB/Scion xB-like (last-gen, that is) appearance.

Since the AZ-Wagon is a straight rebadge, all the features of the Stingray can be found here, including HID headlamps, black cloth interior, premium audio system (for the turbocharged, direct-injected Custom Style DI model), and keyless entry and s tart. Unlike its Suzuki twin, the Mazda gets only two kei-spec engines. The Custom Style DI gets the top-end 64 horsepower direct-injected 4-banger, while the Custom Style X receives a normally-aspirated 54-horse 3-cylinder with VVT. (Suzuki buyers get the added choice of a non-direct-injected turbo engine.)

As is always the case, 2WD and AWD are available for both trim levels. The only available transmission is a 4-speed auto. Complete details and pricing can be found after the jump.

[Source: Mazda]

Continue reading Custom Style! Mazda AZ-Wagon arrives in Japan

 

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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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Currency's 810 HP, twin-turbo M5

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BMW Car magazine's March issue features what is likely to be the only 240 MPH, twin-turbocharged E60 M5 in existence. Put together by Currency Motor Cars in Westlake, California, this blown uber-sedan sports the aforementioned duo of turbos, acres of custom intercooler plumping and a modified exhaust that, when combined with what we'll assume is some pretty creative ECU tuning, creates an astounding 810 horsepower.

The car is owned by the company's founder, Ron Cash, and in addition to the substantial amount of work performed under the hood, Currency and Cash dropped another $100k on the interior. Can you say Florida Crocodile? We wish we couldn't either, but that's what's draped all over the inside of the M5. From what we understand, it's more attractive than we're imagining , but we'll have to pick up a copy of the mag to see how both the interior and engineering are executed.

[Source: M5Board, BMW Car magazine]

 

[via] Autoblog

C7 Corvette may produce up to 700 HP

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Motor Authority is reporting that General Motors' VP of Global Product Develpment, Jim Queen, revealed in an interview with Motor Trend that the next-generation C7 Corvette will produce up to 700 naturally-aspirated horsepower in its top trim. We haven't been able to find the interview on Motor Trend's website or in the current March issue of the magazine, and the April issue has yet to arrive in either digital or dead tree form, so we can't corroborate the information at the moment.

The news of a 700 horsepower Corvette certainly isn't shocking at this point, considering the 2008 Dodge Viper will be packing at l east 600 horspower by the time the C7 arrives, if not more, and GM product czar Bob Lutz told reporters at the Chicago Auto Show that a 600-horsepower Corvette would arrive by summer of 2009. He was most likely referring to the C6-based Corvette SS that's been making news on the internet lately. That car appears to be a supercharged version of the current Vette's motor, so it's interesting that they're going for 700 horsepower in the C7 without the use of forced induction.

Queen also confirmed that rumors about an all-wheel drive Corvette are false and that the iconic sports car, along with the Cadillac XLR, would remain on their own unique platform.

[Source: Motor Authority]

UPDATE: After conferring with Motor Trend and finding the original source, it's clear that GM's Jim McQueen did NOT say the C7 Corvette will produce up to 700 hp. The original article's author, MT's Paul Horrell, merely extrapolated on his own and made an educated guess that the C7 might produce that much power, probably considering that the C6 SS would already be producing in the neighborhood of 600 horsepower. The stuff about no all-wheel drive and maintaining a unique platform still stands, though.

 

[via] Autoblog

Driver intentionally crashes into cellphone-wielding motorist

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As a whole, people that yap on their phones while behind the wheel are considered to be inconsiderate at least, and a threat to other's well being in the extreme. So Joseph C. Asselin took it upon himself to play traffic vigilante by beginning to yell at a fellow motorist that was chatting it up while driving in Peoria, Arizona. After a brief exchange of obscenities, Asselin crossed several lanes, struck the Bluetooth-unequipped pickup driver, forcing him to cross the median and head into oncoming traffic.

Thankfully, no one was hurt and Asselin was later arrested and charged with aggravated assault, endangerment and criminal damage. We can't help but think that there's more to the story than that, but then again, that moron in the yellow H2 who cut us off earlier in the week had us scr eaming out the window like Andrew Dice Clay coming off a Meth binge.

[Source: AZCentral.com via Fark via Engadget]

 

[via] Autoblog

Inappropriate use of Line-X #87

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click above image to view entire gallery

Yikes, this is definitely one way to add a little more toughness to an S-10 Blazer. Our fellow blogomaniacs over at CarDomain found this unique dash treatment and reported on it yesterday. We bet that it would still pass under the radar of materials standards (if we had to guess, we'd say this falls under FMVSS 205). Of course, hot summer days sitting in the JumboMart parking lot with the windows up may lead to lots of delicious off-gassing, but damn if it doesn't look butch. The coating is Line-X, a spray-type bedliner, and CarDomain mem ber BLAZED98 has done a nice job of applying the coating to his 1998 Blazer's dash bezel and the trim panels for the power windows. It's probably even got a nice soft-touch feel that's absent from the interior plastics those vehicles shipped with. As for Line-X's other marketing claims of impact protection and quieter ride, we wouldn't want to test the former, and the nifty stereo in the dash should deal with the latter nicely, anyway. We can't really call it abuse, per se, as it's a well-done spray job, and it does add a tough look to the dash. If GM starts Rhino-Lining the inside of the H3, we'll know where they got the idea from.

Thanks of for the tip, Greg!

[Source: CarDomain]

 

[via] Autoblog

More hysteria over suggestive ads: Hyundai yanks ad featuing baby behind the wheel

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Aw hell, here we go again. Hyundai is pulling its spot called "Restless" after the Advertising Standards Bureau of Australia banned it. The ad, which appeals to people's warm, gooey centers by adultifying toddlers, shows a baby snatching the keys to the Santa Fe and hitting the highway. Along the way, he picks up a girl who happens to be hitching to the beach. He surfs, she watches, world hunger and strife are nearly wiped out in the span of sixty seconds. It's a great spot and was voted the most popular ad in New Zealand last year (what a dubious distinction!)

The ASB argues that the ad shows illegal activity (and there's nothing else on TV that shows illegal stuff?), and may entice youngsters into copycat behavior. Right. Like nobody in the history of the car ever had a kid yank the controls before this ad suggested it? Kids love to pretend like they're adults, so you can be sure that if you plop your toddler in the driver's seat, they're going to have a grand old time. Not that there's much watchable content on television anymore, but these situations go beyond the ridiculous and will just lead to more whitewashed, mamby-pamby crap for us to have to sit through. What's next, banning talking animal spots because no animal really talks? Come on people! There's got to be a more fulfilling pursuit than getting all wadded up over an ad - this is one of the most harmless, charming spots we've seen in a while.

We just don't get it, but apparently there's a large contingent out there who yearns to be protected from themselves. Life is no fun if you don't collect a few bumps and scrapes. Yes, I drove mom's '68 Rambler into the garage and out into the street a couple times as a kid. I cou ldn't help it - that column shift was just asking for it!

Thanks for the tip, Anton!

Check out the spot after the jump

[Source: duncans.tv]

Continue reading More hysteria over suggestive ads: Hyundai yanks ad featuing baby behind the wheel

 

[via] Autoblog

Cleveland Rocks! Thanks to Limited Edition Ford Shelby GT Standard Stratocaster

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click above image to view high-resolution gallery of the Limited Edition Shelby GT guitar

Being a native Clevelander, I hop on the chance to celebrate my city because, honestly, there's usually not much to celebrate (our river caught on fire, for Pete's sake!). But hey, we've got LeBron James, make a mean pierogi and, of course, are home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We're also home to some very important Ford production plants, mainly the Cleveland Engine Plant in Brookpark that builds the Duratec 3.0L V6 and the Lima Engine Plant that builds the new 3.5L V6.

That being the case, Ford used the Cleveland International Auto Show today to announce a special partnership with Fender guitars to produce two special limited edition guitars. The first is the Limited Edition Ford Shelby GT Standard Stratocaster, obviously inspired by the Ford Shelby GT. The first one of 200 that will be made has been signed by Carroll Shelby himself and is being donated to the GuitarMania fundraiser that benefits the Cleveland United Way and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame education fund. Ford will also sponsor two giant 9-foot Stratocasters customized by Blue Oval designers for the event.

No word on price or what the second guitar will be, but you can purchase one of the 200 Shelby GT guitars starting March 1st through the Ford Collection.

[Source: F ord]

Continue reading Cleveland Rocks! Thanks to Limited Edition Ford Shelby GT Standard Stratocaster

 

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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

[via] Autoblog