A tour of GM's Bowling Green Assembly Plant

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click the above image to view our tour of the Bowling Green Assembly Plant

Across the street from the National Corvette Museum is the Bowling Green Assembly Plant. Located in the green wilds of central-southern Kentucky, it proudly proclaims itself "Home of the Corvette and XLR." Fifty thousand tourists tread the green painted walkway of the factory tour every year to see how that American icon, the Corvette, is made. It is the only place in the world where Corvettes and XLRs are created. Follow the jump to read about the plant and see the pics from our recent factory tour.

Continue reading A tour of GM's Bowling Green Assembly Plant


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Do you smell fastback? Estee Lauder announces Mustang cologne

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Talk about badge engineering. Aramis and Designer Fragrances, a division of Estee Lauder, has partnered with Ford to "bring the Mustang man to life." How? With a cologne spray, of course.

The same fragrance design house that has created for Donna Karan, Missoni, and Coach, has "engineered" a scent that is -- wait for it -- "bold, daring, and legendary." This, apparently, accurately describes the average Mustang owner, as well. A few more attributes you must have to comfortably wear this cologne: you must be "strong," "confident," "driven," "with an innate masculinity that does not go unnoticed." And you're "a guy's guy, yet... both modern and authentic." With great cologne, comes great responsibility.

So now that you know what you're getting into, here is the breakdown: the bold is lavender, ginger, and lemon; the daring is pipe tobacco and cedarwood; and the legendary is amber, fir basalm, and patchouli. Doesn't exactly sound like the scent that Bullitt would have been reaching for, but what do we know? The exterior packaging is a graphite metal reusable collector's tin, and prices for the range of cologne and after shave will begin at $20. It launches in July. And if current Mustang trends hold, it will launch again a month later with red racing stripes.

[Source: Yahoo]


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VW busted for scamming Google search, gets off easy

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Both Volkswagen and Google have responded to criticism that the automaker's web pages were in violation of Google's quality guidelines. The uproar centers around hidden keywords in flash-based pages.

Rather than include the keywords in the meta tag of the HTML page, which is where information about the document is typically placed, VW was hiding search keywords inside the page. Using a div layer, which is a technique of building pages with style sheets, Volkswagen had loads of search terms that would register with web spiders, but not show up to end users. The end result would be the Volkswagen pages would be called up for more searches on Google than they otherwise would be.

The name of this suspect layer, "invisibleContent," seems to clearly register its intent. Since being flagged, Google and Volkswagen's agency had a chat, and the search terms are now properly placed under the Meta description in the page. Oh yeah, the pages now block web crawlers from caching the pages - a total 180 degree turn from spamming search engines with hidden terms. Very weird.

Some webmasters are a little miffed that Google didn't throw the book at VW and kick it from the search engine's index, a particularly devastating reaction for websites that Google often has when a site is found to be violating its quality guidelines. Apparently it doesn't matter, however, since VW's blocked its site from being cached anyway.

[Source: cartoonbarry.com]


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Diesel VW Jetta Sportwagen a real fuel-sipper

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When we told you last month about the return of Volkswagen's Jetta wagon, many of you were unimpressed by the car's bland styling and we don't totally disagree.

Now, however, we find out what VW's hiding under those dowdy clothes. Inside Line is reporting that VW expects 2008 Sportwagens ordered with the 2.0 diesel engine to get EPA numbers of 40 city/60 highway. A VW spokesperson also said the diesel Sportwagen will be available nationwide, the first time since 1999 that a diesel Jetta will be sold in all 50 states.

For us, a fuel-sipping diesel combined with an under-$20k starting price makes up at least a little bit for the uninspiring exterior. Looks like it's gonna be a long wait until the diesels hit the lots in January.

Thanks for the tip, Steve!

[Source: Inside Line]


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VIDEO: McMerc cabrio in motion

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Looking for a way to be seen while you drive around in a vehicle that says you have an oversupply of funding coupled with a shortage of sense? Presented for your approval, the obscenely fast Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren roadster. Just like the fixed-roof SLR, the styling cues lifted from 1950's racing glory are present in the scoopage, and the supercharged V8 can crank you right up to 207mph. That's enough to suck the hair plugs right out of your scalp should you attempt that velocity with the top retracted. It is cool to see the uber-exclusive Benz tooling around and ogle the doors that remind us of chopsaws. Funny, though, all that money, and you still get a fabric roof, while the lowly MX-5 can be had with a natty retractable hardtop.

Video after the jump

[Source: MotorAuthority]

Continue reading VIDEO: McMerc cabrio in motion


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Australia does it again! First non-Euro market to nab Civic Type-R hatch

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Click for 55-image high-res gallery

As if our fellow car enthusiasts in Australia don't already have it good enough (what with the high-power Commodores, Falcons, Utes and assorted Ford Europe imports), now Honda UK's going to start exporting its Swindon-built Civic Type R 3-door to the island continent. When sale kick off in July, Oz will be the first non-European market to receive the Type R hatchback. It's also scheduled to make the trek to Eastern Europe, with sales in Russia and the Baltic states beginning by the end of the year. This Type R is an altogether different vehicle than the just-introduced JDM Civic Type R (gallery), which is based on the sedan.

Pricing should be in the vicinity of $40,000 Australian dollars (around $32K USD). The Civic Type R generates 201 horsepower at 8,000 RPM from its 2.0-liter DOHC i-VTEC powerplant, makes the run to 60 in around six seconds, and has a top end of 146 mph. It went on sale in Europe in March. As for us, the most recent rumors point to 2010 for a possible US-market Type R sedan. We'll wait patiently.

[Source: just-auto, sub. req'd]


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Honda's F1 car gets elephant ears, but doesn't get any better

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If you try out something never seen before, and it works, it's called innovation. If you try out something never seen before, and it doesn't work, it's called an experiment. And this particular experiment, carried out by Honda's F1 team, was called "elephant ears."

During last week's test session at the Barcelona F1 circuit, Honda was trying out fixes for its car's notoriously bad handling under braking. One of the attempted fixes was these arced winglets on the nose. The wings were of no use: Honda set the slowest time of the day. Hence, we've probably seen the last of them. Nevertheless, even without the wings, Honda F1's Engineering Director, Jacky Eeckelaert, said "The braking is definitely better now and the lap times have improved and become more consistent, but there is still a long way to go to bring the team back into contention." For a team with Honda's history of winning, the arrival of their new car can't come soon enough.

Thanks for the tip, Steve!

[Source: TSN]


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Mustang FR500GT and Matech Ford GT debut at FIA GT Silverstone race

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A while back we posted on the impending debut of two Fords in FIA GT3 class racing - the Ford FR500GT and Ford GT. Last weekend both cars debuted simultaneously at Silverstone in the GT3 class and raced alongside other contenders like the Jaguar XKR GT3, which also debuted that weekend, the Ferrari F430 GT and Lamborghini Gallardo. The Ford factory-backed FR500GT apparently didn't make a great showing, but the two Matech Ford GTs impressed everyone by holding their own before trailing off at the end. One of the GTs actually qualified second for the race in a field of 50 GT3 cars, but it only managed to finish 16th. The GT3 class race at Silverstone was actually won in a thrilling manner by the Kessel Racing Ferrari F430 Challenge, which held off a charge at the finish by the Berg Racing Lamborghini Gallardo, finishing just a half second ahead of its Italian foe.

Check out some excellent on track photography over at Supercars.net, who had a photographer on hand during the race. The pics really tell the story.

[Source: Supercars.net]


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Will the rear-engine Volkswagen be revived?

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When Volkswagen created the New Beetle in the late '90s, it revived the iconic shape of the original people's car, but not much else. The original was pushed around by an air-cooled boxer four-cylinder that ultimately provided the basis for the first Porsche engines and countless dune buggies and kit cars. The modern edition was essentially nothing more than a nostalgic looking body on a run of the mill Golf platform.

It now seems possible that the new entry level car VW is working on may be more like the original Beetle than the Lupo that it was supposed to replace. The baby VeeDub could turn out to have it's engine sitting on top of the rear axle much like the Smart ForTwo and come in Beetle-esque and sedan body styles. The emerging market variant would be powered by a two-cylinder engine, while Europe and the US would get a direct injected, turbocharged three cylinder FSI. The cars would be kept simple with a target price of $10,000 to $14,000.

If you can't wait until the end of the decade for rear engine VeeDub and you're in South-East Michigan, you might want to head down to Riverside Park in Ypsilanti for the Michigan Vintage Volkswagen Festival on Sunday May 13 from 10-4. This year they're celebrating fifty years of the Karmann Ghia.

[Source: Automobile via eGMCarTech]


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Artist creates life-sized VW Bus out of wood

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Well, this is interesting. By his own account, sculptor Lee Stoetzel is "very interested in the far-reaching power of nature." If you needed further evidence of this, it's currently being displayed at the Mixed Greens Gallery in New York in the form of an almost-full-scale VW Transporter built out of wood and steel (but mostly wood). The craftsmanship is very impressive, and if you've simply gotta have it, you can put it in your...well, somewhere (Flower bed? - Ed.)... for a mere $65,000 USD. As impressed as we are by Stoetzel's work, we'd still rather buy a perfect example of the real thing...for less. Then again, we aren't the most cultured bunch.

Make sure you check out his sportbike made of shells, too.

[Source: Mixed Greens Gallery via Hemmings]


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U.S. customers must now wait 24 months to own a Ferrari

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There is a basic principal of economics that we all know about called supply and demand. As long as the demand for a product exceeds the supply, the price can stay relatively high. If the supply grows beyond the demand, the price drops. US automakers have proved this principle in no uncertain terms as demonstrated by the level of incentives they have to provide to move their vehicles.

Ferrari, on the other hand, has always tried to make sure that the supply of its sports cars fell a little bit short of demand. That has allowed it to keep its prices high and maintain an exclusive image. Unfortunately, it has faced an enviable problem in the last few years as new markets have exploded in places like China and newly wealthy individuals decide they need an insanely fast car to demonstrate those financial resources to the local populace.

Ferrari doesn't want to find itself in the situation that Porsche faced in the late '80s when that automaker greatly expanded production to try and meet demand, then suddenly found itself stuck as a recession hit and it had a lot of unsold cars. Over the past seven years, Ferrari production has swelled from 4,000 to over 6,000 this year, and at the same time waiting lists have also doubled from twelve to twenty four months. A tough problem to deal with, but at least a Ferrari is a little harder to knock off than a Hermes bag or a Rolex watch. In the meantime, dealers are trying to steer new buyers toward used models to get them into the family while they wait for a new example, and the company is keeping tabs on dealers to quash abusive waiting list practices.

[Source: Wall Street Journal]


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VIDEO: Ellen gives us latest glimpse of Transformers

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In anticipation of its July 4th opening, the Transformers movie cast is beginning to hit the talk show circuit. The first on the couch was Josh Duhamel, who popped a squat on the Ellen show yesterday, played with a couple Transformers toys on stage, and debuted a full scene from the film in which Blackout lands at a military base and picks a fight. Duhamel plays Captain Lennox in the movie, not a far cry from the ex-Navy SEAL he plays on the TV show Las Vegas, we suppose. Not a bad gig for the guy that beat a young Ashton Kutcher in a runway model walk-off (Eat it, Kutcher!).

Check out the scene from Transformers after the jump, and keep an eye on our burgeoning gallery of movie pics below.

Thanks for the tip, Rob!

[Source: Siebertron]

Continue reading VIDEO: Ellen gives us latest glimpse of Transformers


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Twin-turbo, mid-engine Corvette Super Coupe headed to SEMA

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Though rumors are still swirling beneath the surface that General Motors may be working on a true mid-engine Corvette that would be sold alongside the next-generation C7 model, no one really expects such a paradigm shifting car to ever see the light of day. That hasn't stopped Phil Somers from American Super Car, who is building a mid-engine car with a Sting Ray body powered by a 1,000-hp, twin-turbo LS V8 for this year's SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Called the V7twinturbo, the car is built on a tube chassis and has an independant suspension that supposedly can handle the stampede of ponies beneath the car's rear-hinged engine cover. Shifting will happen via paddles that operate a Mendeola transaxle, while every other aspect including braking, steering and handling will be top notch, as well. The picture above is of a scale model that's been photoshopped for effect, which is good because those DUB rims need to go.

[Source: MaxChevy via Jalopnik]


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It's been twenty five years since Gilles Villeneuve died

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When I was a kid growing up in Canada, I first got into Formula One racing when Gilles Villeneuve took the Grand Prix world by storm. After dominating Formula Atlantic for a couple of years, he ran a couple of races with McLaren at the end of the 1977 season. Shortly after that he signed with Ferarri as second to Carlos Reutemann and really captured the F1 world's attention at the Long Beach Grand Prix where he flung his car around on the beach front streets, leading the first half of the race before crashing - something that happened all too often in his career.

At the end of a tumultuous rookie season, he won his first race at home in Montreal at the track that would ultimately be renamed in his honor. He finished second in the 1979 championship to new teammate Jody Sheckter before a couple of fallow years with Ferrari. In 1982, as the Italian team was making a resurgence, teammate Didier Pironi ignored team orders at the Imola race and passed Villeneuve for the win. At the next race in Belgium, Gilles went all out in qualifying to beat Pironi and pushed too hard, crashing into Jochen Mass. His Ferrari was launched into the air and came down nose first. The crash took his life, and one of tne of the most exciting drivers of all time was gone. Villeneuve may not have been the best technical driver, but watching him force some evil handling cars around a track was always a pleasure, and F1 has never been the same since. There is a tribute video from YouTube after the jump.

[Source: F1-Live]

Continue reading It's been twenty five years since Gilles Villeneuve died


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GM intros incentives for full-size trucks

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This is possibly the least shocking news of the day when you consider that the housing market, which fuels the full-size pickup segment, is in a slump and gas prices are rising once again. Nevertheless, General Motors must respond to market pressures, and in the wake of Silverado sales that fell 7% last month (that's the all-new, winner of the Motor Trend Truck of the Year, critically acclaimed Chevy Silverado), has decided to offer some new incentives to spur sales of Chevy's new truck and its mate, the GMC Sierra. From now through July 9th, customers can get zero-percent financing for 36 months or reduced-rate financing for 60 months on either model. If you're paying cash on the spot, GM can instead offer you $1,250 cash back on the Silverado or $1,500 on the Sierra.

Don't feel bad GM, Toyota has seemingly been offering incentives in one form or another on its new Tundra since the day it was born, and sales of the Ford F-150 fell 12% last month according to Automotive News. See? It's not just you.

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


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The How-To guide on buying your mom a car for Mother's Day

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Think about everything your mom has bought you in your lifetime. Who paid for those car magazines before you were gainfully employed? Who gave you gas money to get back to campus after a quick visit home? And who was there with bail money when you really needed it? That's right, Mom.

Can any pure bred auto enthusiast deny that there is no more meaningful gift a son or daughter could give in return than a brand new car? It's a dream very few of us will fulfill in our lifetime, but one guy is planning to do just that this weekend when he presents his mom with a brand new Mercury Milan on Mother's Day.

Who knew that giving your mom a car could be so complicated? We didn't until we read this forum post written by the aforementioned good son who goes by Crystallas on the Ford Fusion Drivers Association website. Apparently, there are lots of things to consider that should ensure your mom's smile on Mother's Day stretches from ear to ear and doesn't turn upside down.

It might be small stuff like what color you should pick, but if you get that one wrong she'll leave your present in the garage like a cardigan that doesn't match her favorite blouse. And does she even want a new car in the first place? If you replace her trusty and reliable K-car, she may never forgive you. The presentation of the gift is crucial, as well. Make sure you have a glowing review of the winning car handy when you hand over the keys.

There's plenty more tips for giving your mom the ultimate gift by clicking the Read link below.

Thanks for the tip, Carl!

[Source: FusionDrivers.com]


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Volvo adds T6 Turbo AWD to S80 line

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click above image to view high-res pics of the 2008 Volvo S80 T6 Turbo AWD

Volvo has given the S80 line a little more power and traction with the introduction of the T6 Turbo AWD edition. The T6 utilizes a twin-scroll turbo unit to provide the extra power, and the velvety-smooth 3.2L inline six has been down-sized to 3.0L due to a narrower cylinder bore and shorter stroke. Don't let the reduction in displacement fool you, though. The turbocharged S80 will unleash 285 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque at a very low 1500rpm, which Volvo says will result in smooth, linear power delivery. That's 50 horsepower more than the normally asipirated 3.2L inline-six and only 26 ponies short of the top-end V8 model.

All that power going to the front wheels means that the T6 needs all-wheel drive, which was previously only available with the high-end V8. Thus, you have the T6 Turbo AWD. Pricing and availability of the T6 Turbo AWD have not yet been announced, but we're betting that it will be a few thousand dollars south of the V8 model's $47,350 price tag, and availability should be soon.

Volvo's press release is available after the jump.

[Source: Volvo]

Continue reading Volvo adds T6 Turbo AWD to S80 line


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AutoblogGreen for 05.09.07

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The U.S. Senate will vote on a bill to raise CAFE standards to 35 mpg by 2020 in June. There are lots of critics, but Democrats say it'll pass. What does it mean for automakers? Will Chrysler survive? Learn more at AutoblogGreen.


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Aw Snap! Corvette Z07 spied with polycarbonate hood window

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The Corvette Z07/SS/Blue Devil is fast becoming one of the worst kept secrets in Detroit. It's not for GM's lack of trying to keep the lid on it, but rather on account of the zealous nature of the Corvette Nation. They're an impatient bunch and are having a hard time waiting for next year's North American International Auto Show in Detroit, where many suspect the super Corvette will bow.

Here we have a set of new pics taken god knows where that show one of the Corvette Z07's most closely hidden secrets. We all assumed that camo on the hoods of development mules was hiding an air intake. Guess what. It wasn't. If these blurry camera phone shots are the real deal, then the ultimate Vette ever will be sporting a clear polycarbonate window in its hood to show off the goods underneath. Say whu? Yeah, a plexiglass window, not unlike the totally transparent hood on the car in which John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John liberated themselves from terra firma at the end of the 1978 film musical Grease. Anyway...

The shaky shots also show some serious braking hardware and what appears to be more extreme air extractor vents behind the front wheels. Aside from that, it appears the Z07 may look much like the Z06. Again, we have to qualify all this with the disclaimer that the car in these pics is most likely not a final production model and may be nothing like what we eventually see on stage in January. Still, a polycarbonate window? We admit, didn't see that one coming.

[Source: Digital Corvettes via GMInsideNews]


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