Watch out Buick! Maybach drives for golfers

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DaimlerChrysler would like to see more of its super-luxe Maybach limousines at local country clubs and has launched a new marketing campaign, principally in Europe, to promote its brand in the golf world.

The campaign includes a sponsorship deal that places legendary professional golfer Nick Faldo as a "brand ambassador", a marketing maneuver popular with luxury brands, and the launch of the Maybach Golf Cup tournament. Faldo says he's "delighted to be so closely associated with a brand that shares the very same values as my own", values which he cites as "the absolute pinnacle of motoring style and technology". This makes us wonder if he's some sort of golf-playing Transformer, which would be really cool. Faldo has won over 40 worldwide tournaments and was appointed captain of the 2008 European Ryder Cup team.

The Maybach Golf Cup, meanwhile, is open to existing and potential Maybach customers, starting with four European qualifier tournaments in Spain, Russia, Austria and Germany before culminating with the finals in December in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Part of the tournament includes a special hole-in-one prize of an SLR McLaren, whose program is grouped together with Maybach's under CEO Klaus Nesser, pictured above (right) with Faldo (left) as the endorsement deal was announced.

Press release after the jump.

[Source: Maybach]

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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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YOU are big brother: Control and track your car from the 'net

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The world is certainly not lacking devices that allow you to track and control your vehicle from afar. The newest breed of these systems was developed by Inilex, which allows a subscriber/user to do everything from unlock their doors, start their vehicle, sound the alarm, disable the engine or give the location of their ride. The system can be used by logging on to Inilex's website via a PC, calling a toll-free number or using a PDA with access to the internet.

Aside from providing a bit more convenience and protection, the major draw for some users, namely parents, is the ability to not only track the movements of the vehicle, but also be alerted via text message or email if the kiddies stray from set boundaries or operate the vehicle during certain times of the day or night (no more ditching school or sneaking into the love interest's window at 3 AM).

Straightline has several links that provide more information and Inilex has a demo posted on their site.

 

[via] Autoblog

New York Auto Show: Callaway C16 Convertible cometh

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Click the image for a high res version, perfectly suited for your desktop.

The folks at Callaway figured that if their customers were willing to plunk down the cash for a fixed-roof bespoke coupe, they'd be even more smitten with a drop top version. So at next month's New York Auto Show, they'll be debuting the C16 convertible, another supercharged super-Vette creating either 560 or 616 HP from its blown V8.

Much like the hardtop version that debuted in Montreal, the open-air version will be able to reach 60 in three and half seconds and on to a top speed over 200 MPH. All that, while still leaving the factory with a five-year, 100k-mile warranty. If you've got the $128,765 entry fee, go on and read the full press release after the jump.

[Source: Wired's Autopia, Callaway]

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Skip Barber to host MX-5 Cup racing school

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One of the fastest growing race series in the U.S. is the Mazda MX-5 Cup, and the reasons behind its popularity are obvious. Drivers with the motivation, a modicum of talent and limited funding ($10-13k will get you in the door) can experience the thrills of wheel-to-wheel racing at tracks around the country. Few racing series can offer the same bang-for-the-buck action as the MX-5 cup and for many (if not most), it's the realization of a life-long dream.

Until now, there hasn't been much in the way of organized training to get competitors ready for the series, so in partnership with Mazda, Skip Barber will begin offering a three-day training course at its facilities around the U.S.

Based off the same curriculum used to train its open-wheel students, participants will get behind the wheel of race-prepped MX-5s, built to the same specs required in the formal racing series.

The first course will be offered at Laguna Seca this April 27 through 29, with another course on May 21 through 23 at Road America. Other classes will be added throughout the year at Sebring, Daytona and Lime Rock, for the same price as their formula-car school: $3,995.

You can read the full press release after the jump and visit the Skip Barber website for more information.

[Source: Skip Barber]

Continue reading Skip Barber to host MX-5 Cup racing school

 

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A moment of silence, please: NISMO R34 GT-R Z-tune sales officially end

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NISMO R34 GT-R Z-Tune

And so, this is how it ends. The final Super Godzilla Specification R34 GT-R (a.k.a. the Z-tune) has finished its run. Initially intended to be a 20-car series, NISMO issued a press release last week announcing that in addition to the two cars finished in "NISMO R34 GT-R Z-tune Proto" trim, a smaller-than-intended group of cars was completed at the final customer Z-tune level due to difficulties finding appropriate R34 GT-R source vehicles. As such, the final run of Z-tunes, including the two prototypes, was limited to a grand total of 19.

Most remained in Japan, but a handful were exported (NISMO mentions Australia specifically), and the final deliveries are scheduled to take place in the immediate future (if they haven't already happened). This effectively closes the book on the R34, which is revered the world over by enthusiasts (and Gran Turismo players) of every stripe.

The next GT-R drops the Skyline moniker entirely, becoming a separate car in Nissan's lineup, and we'll finally see the finished product in Tokyo later this year. In the meantime, NISMO's keeping busy with a new hotted-up Z-car, and we have a feeling that they'll cook up something really tasty when the 2009 GT-R finally hits the scene.

Until then, follow the jump for a YouTube oldie-but-goodie, showing one of the two Z-tune Protos lapping the 'Ring at ludicrous speed. Long live the R34 GT-R!

[Sources: NISMO, YouTube]

Continue reading A moment of silence, please: NISMO R34 GT-R Z-tune sales officially end

 

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Sebring: Corvette Racing's #3 car wears white in salute to Fellows

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Click image for gallery

Corvette Racing transformed the #3 C6.R from Velocity Yellow to Arctic White before the start of today's 12 Hours of Sebring endurance race in Florida. Ron Fellows, making his final Sebring appearance as one of the #3 car's co-drivers, has a similarly liveried limited-production Corvette Z06 named for him. The change to the race car is an obvious tie-in to the production machine, as it's identical in scheme right down to the red fender stripes.

GM points out that this is the first time since Le Mans 2003 that one of Corvette Racing's cars have run in a color other than yellow. Their press release does not point out that 2003 was the year that the Vettes, in their navy blue anniversary livery, were bested by Prodrive's 550 Maranello at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. As of Sebring's 10-hour mark, it looked as if running in a non-yellow color might not the luckiest thing for the C6.R. The O'Connell/Magnussen/Fellows #3 car was running second in GT1 behind the still-yellow #4. The #3 led early in the race, however, and the cars were on the same lap as of the last posted standings, so there's still time left for it go out and bust that color jinx.

UPDATE: #4 car wins GT1 (7th overall), followed by the #3 (8th overall). Gap between the two was 17 seconds.

[Source: GM via ALMS]

 

[via] Autoblog

Weekend History Lesson: Aston Martin 101

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We just thought that it would be apropos to take a look back on the history of Aston Martin, as the automaker begins another chapter of its storied legacy. This is an episode of Victory by Design that our friends over at Coolbrit.net came across, covering everything from its owners, its racing victories and the models that we've come to know and love. You can watch hour-long episode after the jump or follow this link to watch a full screen version. Enjoy! And yes, there will be a quiz.

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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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Lorinser takes on the new Merc C-class

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The C-class is the entry-level Benz in the North American market. As such, every nouveau riche new graduate seemingly goes out and treats themselves to a slice of flashy bourgeois pie. That can be alarming for the Euro-car fan, as you risk being lumped into that precocious category along with Johnny Overachiever from down the block. There's no denying that the Stuttgart Swabians build nice vehicles, and we've certainly considered parking one in our driveway. We wouldn't want to deny ourselves the pleasure just to avoid being lumped in with a group of lecherous climbers, either. Lorinser has given the C-class a once-over and made it possible for true car-guys to have their Mercedes pleasure while standing apart from the schmuck brigade.

We love the look of the cosmetic upgrades. The turbine-style wheels look like impellers from a turbocharger with a wacky pituitary gland, and we wonder if they can slice, dice and julienne at speed. We're not normally fans of unnecessary extra ventilation, but the revised front quarter panels have gained a nice pair of extractors. We do find the "gills" in the lower rocker covers sorta strange, and they don't appear to have any purpose other than serving as a visual element. The front airdam has also received some tasteful attention, and Lorinser offers performance upgrades to back up the high-powered looks. Unlike some of the entry-level MBZ crowd, we'd rather the car be the high-powered one in a zoot suit.


[Source: World Car Fans]

 

[via] Autoblog

Lotus 2-Eleven even faster than anticipated

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Click on the photo for a high-res gallery of Lotus 2-Eleven images

The Lotus 2-Eleven, unveiled just prior to the Geneva Motor Show, recently hit the track for the first time. Apparently the results were good -- very good, in fact! AutoCar ireports that acceleration for the 1474 lb speedster is already beating initial projections, with 0-60 taking just 3.9 seconds and 100mph arriving in 8.9 seconds from a dead stop. The £39,995 track-only version will start rolling off the line at Hethel next month.

[Source: AutoCar]

 

[via] Autoblog

Toyota offers Tundra deal to dealers

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At the risk of piling on, we bring you more news from the Toyota Tundra camp. Earlier this month Toyota told dealers they would be allowed up to $1,500 in incentives on the base-model Tundra in an effort to take some market share from the Big 2.5. Now, ToMoCo is offering Toyota, Lexus, Scion and Hino Motors Ltd. truck dealers $2,000 toward the purchase of a B-cab Tundra.

In the past, dealers had to go through "channels" to acquire such vehicles, but in addition to the cash, the new program is apparently intended to allow dealers to skip some of the red tape.

Should it be necessary to offer incentives to your dealers to buy the very product you're trying to sell? With more than 1,200 dealers, sales numbers wouldn't spike all that much, actually. But the image boost of all those shiny new Tundras would surely be a plus. Maybe Toyota should also consider offering special incentives to the behind-the-scenes crews of its commercials and, what the heck, those NHTSA workers too. Couldn't hurt.

[Source: AP via Forbes.com]

 

[via] Autoblog

AutoblogGreen for 03.18.07

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Another Micro-Brewery has set out prove that beer is good for the world, sort of. The Stone Brewery of San Diego is recycling their onion ring oil into biodiesel for their delivery trucks. The Marketing VP of Tesla confirms some of their sales and service plans and the FIRST robotics competition is teaming up with FirstFuelCells for a new fuel cell powered robot competition.

 

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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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12 Hours of Sebring ends with Audi win, nail-biting GT2 finish

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The first race of the 2007 American Le Mans Series is in the books with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring concluding in utterly spectacular fashion. Before we get to the story of the race -- the jaw-dropping GT2 finish -- we need to fill you in on the rest of the action. Audi, as expected, took the overall win as Marco Werner drove the #2 car across the finish line, giving Audi its 8th consecutive win at the event. Emanuele Pirro and Frank Biela were the co drivers on the winning machine. The defending champion #1 Audi, which was essentilly rebuilt following a practice crash Thursday night finished fourth overall with Tom Kristensen, Dindo Capello, Allan MacNish, and Le Mans god Tom Kristensen behind the wheel.

In P2, Acura made a smashing debut, taking the first two spots in the class and second and third place overall. The Andretti Green Racing team of bryan Herta, Dario Franchitti, and Tony Kanaan took the class win (2nd overall) in their Acura ARX-01a. They were followed by the Fernandez Racing Acura (3rd overall), with the #7 Penske Porsche taking the final P2 podium spot and fifth place overall.

GT1, as expected, was an all-Corvette affair, with the #4 car piloted by Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta, and Max Papis edging its sister, the striking white #3 car helmed by Ron Fellows (in whose honor the car wore its new finish), Johnny O'Connell, and Jan Magnussen. 17 seconds separated the two 'Vette C6.Rs.

That leaves the epic GT2 finish, which we'll detail for you after the jump.

[Sources: ALMS, Motorsport.com]

Continue reading 12 Hours of Sebring ends with Audi win, nail-biting GT2 finish

 

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Mazda makes big commitment to Karting

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Mazda vehicles are known for reasonable prices and outstanding handling. The company's long-standing "Zoom-Zoom" tagline, even for SUVs, shows that Mazda injects everything they make (except the B-Series) with a bit of race-car spirit. To help breed new Miata and RX-8 drivers, Mazda has decided to start with youngsters by throwing major dollars into karting.

At Sebring, Mazda announced a financial commitment of over $100,000 for prize money and operating costs, plus discounts on Mazda products for Kart racers in the sponsored competitions. Partnership agreements were signed with multiple sanctioning bodies and events, giving Mazda a major presence where young automotive enthusiasts grow on trees. The automaker is already involved in SCCA racing with sponsorships and big-dollar prizes for Mazda racers. Adding karting into the mix further increases Mazda's motorsports presence.

These latest moves demonstrate that the folks in Hiroshima are dead serious when it comes to exposing even more younger people to the Mazda brand. This cultivates potential new customers and ingrains them with a sense of brand loyalty at an early on. You can read the entire press release after the jump.

Continue reading Mazda makes big commitment to Karting

 

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VIDEO: Even for a Ferrari, that's a bit of a stretch

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The motorsport press thought it was a big deal when Ferrari made their F1 car longer than last season's by a couple of inches. Well, some nutjobs in a chop-shop somewhere have taken things a step further by hacking a perfectly good Ferrari in two and adding a few seats, turning out a gran turismo even longer than the 612 Scaglietti.

To make matters worse, this wasn't some 80's-era $30k Ferrari, either: they've chopped up a previous-generation 360 Modena, arguably among the most beautiful of modern road-going Ferraris.

Although we hate to admit it, logistically speaking, stretching out a mid-engine car with rear-wheel-drive technically makes more sense than running a long driveshaft from a front-engined limo all the way to the rear axle (as Top Gear's Richard Hammond reckoned with his stretched MGF). But that's where our sense of charity ends and our sense of outrage kicks back in. This is the automotive equivalent of painting a mustache on the Mona Lisa.

If you can bear it, there's a video after the jump.

[Source: Bilfeber]

Continue reading VIDEO: Even for a Ferrari, that's a bit of a stretch

 

[via] Autoblog

Toolkit Upgrades Round Two - more fun toys

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A while back, we expounded on some simple items that brought more joy to the automotive arts. Spring is just around the corner, and we've compiled a big ol' list of things to address in celebration of the Vernal Equinox. Unpacking the tools from their long winter nap is a ritual here, and it's like reconnecting with old friends. Off we go.

Continue reading Toolkit Upgrades Round Two - more fun toys

 

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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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Not all the Germans want to dump Chrysler

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Some German DaimlerChrysler shareholders may be moving to rename the company back to Daimler-Benz, but not everyone from the Stuttgart side is ready to abandon Chrysler yet. Helmut Lense is one of the union representatives on the company Supervisory Board, the equivalent of a US board of directors. Lense spoke to the Detroit News and indicated that the employee representatives on the board would oppose any selloff that resulted in the dismantling of the Chrysler Group. If a sale must be made, then he would prefer to see another manufacturing company buy the group as opposed to a private equity fund like the Blackstone Group.

Currently, DaimlerChrysler management is in talks with manufacturers like General Motors and supplier Magna International in addition to equity funds Blackstone and Cerberus Capital. Lense feels that a big part of Chrysler's difficulty is an over-reliance on truck sales, which have been particularly hard-hit the past two years. He feels that a revamp of Chrysler's passenger car lineup is what's really needed. As GM has learned in the last few years, cuts can only take you so far, without revenue you can't be consistently profitable. The key to revenue in the auto industry is creating a string of products people actually want to pay for, and that has been Chrysler's real downfall.

While selling to a manufacturer with experience running a large industrial company might be preferable, finding one that is a good fit without significant overlap in product won't be easy. That's why Lense doesn't see GM as a good buyer. For Chrysler to be successful in the long run, the best option could be for Daimler to keep them and make a commitment to the company. They should then follow GM's pattern and design some desirable small and mid-sized models that will appeal to drivers. For that to work, Daimler must be willing to commit to sharing resources with the Auburn Hills group, and perhaps let Chrysler market vehicles like the A and B-Class. Mercedes could then re-focus on more premium vehicles. This would help reduce the brand dilution that Mercedes has experienced, while giving Chrysler a more well rounded lineup. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem likely to happen.

[Source: Detroit News]

 

[via] Autoblog

Autoblog week in photos: Week of March 12, 2007

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With another week officially in to books, it's time to take a look at back at it in pictures. This week on Autoblog we had reviews of the Chevy Aveo and the Lincoln MKZ and more vehicles from the Geneva Motor Show were shown. We've captured some of the best photos and placed them in this video. Some of the many galleries from last week are below for your enjoyment.

Music for this piece comes from Johnny Rawls and the Rays with "Long Black Car" and from The Cartoon Factory with "The King of the City". Enjoy!

Gallery: Autorama

 

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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