Lightweight Ginetta G50 brags of 300hp Ford V6

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You might not be familiar with British car builder Ginetta, but it's been around since 1958. The latest offering is the G50, a wide, low-slung, lightweight coupe the company plans to build a cup race around. With only 800kg (1,750 pounds) to push around, the mid-mounted, 300hp, 3.5 liter Ford V6 should make this one sexy-fast ride.

In 2005, Ginetta was bought by LNT Automotive, run by veteran racer Lawrence Tomlinson. He says the first 30 real versions of the virtual renderings you see here are already in production and should be ready for sale in early 2008.

Tomlinson said the first 30 G50s are a good mix of "cup, road and GT4 cars." The company's press release (read it in full after the jump) promises the cup series will be set up to keep costs down with 10 race weekends, a "substantial prize fund" and guaranteed TV coverage. "We've designed the G50 as a stepping stone for GT drivers," Tomlinson said.

Projected cost for the G50 is around £35,000. But don't get too excited. Although we have no official word, there's no reason to think you'll be able to buy one in the States.

[Source: Ginetta via Carscoop]
%Gallery-3432%Ginetta is to launch an all-new British sports car for 2008, designated the Ginetta G50, the car has been designed in-house at LNT Automotive's new purpose-built factory in Leeds.

The G50 is a celebration of 50 years of British sports car manufacturing by the company, and has been designed as the base for a new generation of Ginetta sports cars.

2008 and will see the Ginetta 'G50 Cup Car' launched, this car is designed to bridge the gap between single-make sports car racing such as the current Ginetta G20 championship - and GT cars such as the new GT4 Championship, GT3 and GT2 racing.

Weighing in at a little over 800kg, the Ginetta G50 is a rear-wheel drive car, powered by a front-mid mounted Ford 3.5- litre, V6 engine producing 300 bhp, with a five-speed sequential gearbox.

A G50 Cup Car series will be created, with the focus on keeping running costs to a minimum by using control tyres, control fuel and low maintenance costs through clever design. Ginetta will offer a spares and support service at all race and test events.

The series will consist of 10 race weekends, with eight events confirmed to be supporting the SRO F3/GT package alongside the current 'G20' Texaco Havoline Ginetta Championship. Two stand alone, long distance events are also planned with a substantial prize fund and TV coverage guaranteed by Ginetta.

Lawrence Tomlinson, Chairman of LNT Automotive said: "We've designed the G50 as a stepping stone for GT drivers. Production of the first 30 cars is well under way with a mixture of cup, road and GT4 cars available from early 2008."

The price is likely to be around the £35,000 mark.

Further news and details will be announced over the coming months as the race car design is completed and goes into full time production.

 

[via] Autoblog

National gas price average to hit $3.50? Wanna bet?

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Someone was asking the other day if trading their gas-hungry Mustang for a hybrid Civic was a good idea. Essentially what they wanted to do was wager gas prices were not going down any time soon and could likely go higher. But you don't have to give up high-horsepower driving just to place a bet on future pump prices. BetUS.com will let you keep the 'Stang by taking your bet that we'll soon see a $4-a-gallon national average. Right now, neither yes or no is favored, both with money lines of -120 for an average gas price above $3.50 before 2008.

Or maybe you like a long shot. In that case, the site will take your wager on whether the Earth will run out of oil by 2050. Pessimists could make out nicely if the wells dry up in few years with a $100 bet earning $1,000. Even longer odds are on gas prices going lower. If scientists announce tomorrow a $4 gadget allowing your car to run on household waste (Mr. Fusion, anyone?) and the average national gas price plummets to less than $1 a gallon, your $100 bet earns you $15,000. That's a lot of cheap beer and banana peels for your future Delorean.

Cha ching!

[Source: BetUS]

 

[via] Autoblog

One less to pine for: Ford Europe drops MkII Focus RS plans

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Click image for a gallery of the 2002 Ford Focus RS

One of the most desirable pieces of forbidden fruit from the Ford of Europe stable was the Focus RS. Based on the Mk1 Focus, the RS sported WRC-inspired looks and handling, and was powered by a turbocharged 215-horsepower 2.0L Duratec that spun the front wheels. Auto Express is now reporting that the next RS, which was to be based on the freshened MkII Focus coming in late '08, expected to boast 300 horsepower and 4WD, has been scrapped.

A UK buyer who had placed a deposit told the publication that his money was returned, saying the dealer informed him that the project was scrapped due to emissions concerns. Ford has dispelled that notion, telling Auto Express that a sound business case for the car simply couldn't be made at this time. Before our European readers get too upset, the mag says that the RS could come back on the radar for the MkIII refresh scheduled for sometime in 2010.

At least we'll be spared the ignominy of being taunted with another awesome Europe-only Focus for the time being.

[Source: Auto Express]
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[via] Autoblog

Day 3: Enter the Autoblog Relaunch Celebration Sweepstakes featuring the All-New 2007 Dodge Nitro

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UPDATE: We've fixed a lot of bugs, so if you've encountered issues while entering the Sweeps, please clear your browser's cache and restart your browser before trying to enter again. Thanks!

click above image to enter to win an All-New 2007 Dodge Nitro!

Did you enter yet today? You may as well make entering the (deep breath) Autoblog Relaunch Celebration Sweepstakes featuring the All-New 2007 Dodge Nitro a part of your daily routine, like brushing your teeth or playing Solitaire at work. The Sweepstakes spans 23 days, which means if you enter every day by clicking here, you'll have a better chance to win the loaded 2007 Dodge Nitro R/T than someone who enters only once or twice. Did we mentinon the prize is loaded with 20-inch chrome wheels, the high-end 4.0L V6 engine making 260 horsepower, and... AND the optional MyGIG[TM] Multimedia Infotainment System?

We're working hard to fix any bugs that have been encountered while trying to enter the Sweepstakes, so please, if something seems awry, click the "Corrections/Problems?" link at the top of this page and let us know what the problem is.

We also want to say thanks to a few websites that have mentioned our Sweepstakes and commented on what it means for our little internet industry. If your website has mentioned the Autoblog...Sweepstakes, make sure to let us know by sending a link to abresearch at gmail dot com. We'll keep a running list of links going, as we appreciate any site that helps spread the word.

 

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eBay Find of the Day: Pimped '94 Jaguar XJ12

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Click image for photo gallery

If you need a new whip in which to roll out to the Player's Ball, you'd best get your fingers tapping and mice clicking over to eBay RIGHT NOW, because the universe has aligned itself and offered up what might be the ultimate vehicle for this duty, short of Les Dunham's sublimely pimptacular Corvorado.

The '94 Jaguar XJ12 depicted here has everything you need. There's the gold leaper, gold 20" 100-spoke Daytons, Mustard/Brown two-tone finish, and our personal favorite: the custom Louis Vuitton Monogram Multicolore interior upholstery and trim. The cherry on top is the extra-classy "1 of a Kind" decal under the car's XJ12 badge. And wait -- what's this we see? It even has a new clean title! Who's the mack? You are, so bid away.

Thanks for the tip, Chuck!

[Source: eBay]
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[via] Autoblog

All your robot CUVs are belong to us: Nissan Dualis viral videos

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Click image for a gallery of the Nissan Dualis and its launch event

The new Japan-market Nissan Dualis (Qashqai in Europe) is a good-looking CUV that will have room for seven in a compact form factor. Nissan's marketing gurus have cooked up four viral marketing ads that feature an 11-foot-tall robot designed by anime creator/mecha designer Shoji Kawamori that's wreaking havoc all over town. The robot's name is Dualis, and it's nicknamed the "Powered Suit." We're guessing that the premise of the spots is that Nissan's new CUV is fun to drive, but when considering the robot's carefree and unpredictable behavior, maybe Nissan is warning us to keep both hands on the wheel.

Take the jump to see all four 20-30 second videos, but we must forewarn you that the recent Transformers previews featured here make what you're about to see look like something ahigh school kid did on his Mac. We don't think the exaggerated shoulder pads on the "Powered Suit" are going to bring back any 80's fashion, either.

[Source: Jalopnik]
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[via] Autoblog

Car Costume: Audi 90 Quattro becomes Audi 90 IMSA GTO

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Old Audis are cool, and old racing Audis are even cooler. A Swedish Audi fanatic seems to think so, too, and has gone to extreme lengths to transform a workaday Audi 90 into the IMSA GTO version of that car. Not wanting to go the stripe-and-bodykit route, this Audi's flares were painstakingly constructed from many pieces of metal, intricately tacked into place. Replica body pieces like splitters were created in composite after measurements of an original car were taken, and the authentically nutty looking rims are custom-modified VW pieces. The doors still open, despite 8 additional inches of width, and the amount of work that went into the body modifications is truly incredible. It looks like a scale model was built first, and once the form was perfected, it was "blown up" to the actual car - we don't know Svenska, and translators aren't terribly useful. Motivation is provided by an A8's 4.2 liter V8, which must make the replica pretty zippy, but probably not as fast as those IMSA cars were. Still, though, it's a hell of a thing to see lurking in your rearview, and the handiwork is truly impressive. We see the most insane stuff coming out of Sweden - must be something in the water aquavit. AudiMotorSport's got galleries of the build here.

[Source: AudiMotorSport.se via German Car Scene]

 

[via] Autoblog

Chrysler celebrating 20 years of modern concept vehicles

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click on this photo of the Portofino for a HUGE gallery of Chrysler concepts

At the 1987 Frankfurt Motor Show, Chrysler opened a new chapter in its history with the introduction of the Portofino Concept (above). The Portofino introduced the world to Chrysler's cab-forward design philosophy that would dominate its next generation of mainstream cars. In the two decades since, Chrysler has continued to crank out at least 3-5 new concepts every year, some making their debut in Detroit every January, while the rest were revealed in locations like Geneva, Frankfurt, Paris and Tokyo.

In that time, the team from Auburn Hills has created some truly inspired vehicles and others that are not so much. Some of the design details have made it into production, while some vehicles have been moved straight to the assembly line such as the Viper, Prowler, first-generation Neon and the upcoming Challenger. Other concepts that people clamored for such as the Plymouth Pronto Spyder and Dodge Copperhead did the show circuit and then faded away. Then again, some concepts that made it to production might have been better left in the museum like the Crossfire. One of the consistent themes that has popped up every couple of years is a flagship for Chrysler, and after some gorgeous models like the Atlantic Coupe and the Chronos have all gone unbuilt, it appears one is getting called up for active duty on dealer lots. We've learned that the Imperial sedan will start rolling off the line in a couple of years. Regardless of your opinion of any individual Chrysler concept, the debut of new ones are always highly anticipated at auto shows, and they are rarely dull.

[Source: Chrysler]

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Chrysler Group Celebrates 20 Years of Modern Concept Vehicles


* Chrysler Group's design tradition has become a key strength of the company
* More than 100 concept vehicles have been developed since 1988
* Chrysler Nassau, Jeep(R) Trailhawk and Dodge Demon are the most recent concepts


Auburn Hills, Mich., May 25, 2007 - "Concept to reality" has become a term that epitomizes the Chrysler Group design philosophy, and many observers are hoping that it will apply to the company's concept vehicles for 2007.

Chrysler Group's latest concept vehicles clearly demonstrate a design tradition that has become a key strength of the company: an ability to design the coolest-of-cool concepts, which are as relevant as they are innovative.

This approach started with the Frankfurt Motor Show reveal of the Lamborghini-engined, cab forward-styled, four-door Chrysler Portofino concept sedan in 1987. Almost 20 years and more than 100 concepts later, this continuous development has helped Chrysler Group reinvent and maintain its reputation as a car company driven by design and engineering.

Concept vehicles have two major roles for the Chrysler Group: they showcase to management, the media and the public the potential future design direction for Chrysler Group cars and trucks, and they help to attract the best young designers in the world into its design studios.

Chrysler Group's concept vehicle program allows designers to test new colors, features, vehicle size and segments. Concepts can also be showcases for new design cues, which often find their way into production on future vehicles - even if the entire concept vehicle does not.

Importantly, the designs that are revealed to acclaim and accolade at auto shows around the world each year are not just built to look good. That is where the company's design-to-reality tradition really kicks in.

Not only does Chrysler Group produce concept vehicles that can actually be driven - especially by journalists for feedback and publicity purposes - but many ultimately become production vehicles within a few years of their first reveal. The latest example is the Dodge Challenger. First revealed as a concept at the 2006 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, it was announced that the Challenger will go into production in 2008.

According to Trevor Creed, Senior Vice President - Product Design Office, Chrysler Group, "We've always said at Chrysler that we don't just produce concepts for fun. We have proved year after year that our concepts are innovative and relevant.

"Our track record shows that many Chrysler Group concepts, and several of the design features showcased on our concept vehicles, have gone into production," he added. "While we can't say yet if any of our 2007 concepts will eventually be seen in our showrooms, they clearly hint at exciting and innovative future design directions that could find their way into our company's products."

2007 Concept Vehicles
This year's group of concept vehicles includes one for each of the Chrysler Group's brands. Combining refinement, function and style, the Chrysler Nassau concept explores a new expression of the Chrysler brand. First shown at the 2007 NAIAS, the four-door, four-passenger Nassau luxury coupe is a more emotional and artistic articulation of what it means to be a Chrysler.

The Jeep(R) Trailhawk, which also had its premiere at the 2007 NAIAS, merges the spectrum of the Jeep brand by combining the core off-road features of the new Jeep Wrangler Unlimited with the refined sophistication of an all-new on-road, open-air concept vehicle, providing a unique and fresh expression for Jeep.

The Dodge Demon is a compact, nimble "roadster with an attitude" - a perfect balance of classic sports car proportion and simplicity blended with modern design and performance. The vehicle is designed to be an affordable Dodge sports car that merges brand cues of bold design and powerful performance with an open-air "fun-to-drive" attitude. This concept had its debut at the 2007 Geneva Motor Show.

Twenty Years of Modern Concept Vehicles
The Chrysler Group has a long history of innovation in design and engineering, going back even as far as the first 1924 Chrysler sedan. In the modern era, since 1988, the company has created more than 100 concept vehicles in a variety of shapes, sizes, configurations and materials.

1988
Chrysler Portofino
Plymouth Slingshot

1989
Chrysler Millennium
Dodge Dakota Sport V-8
Dodge Intrepid
Dodge Viper RT/10
Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
Jeep Z5 Concept 1
Plymouth Speedster
Plymouth Voyager III

1990
Dodge Daytona RT
Dodge LRT
Eagle Optima
Jeep Freedom

1991
Chrysler 300M
Dodge Neon
Jeep Wagoneer 2000

1992
Chrysler Cirrus
Dodge Epic

1993
Chrysler Patriot
Chrysler Thunderbolt
Jeep Ecco
Plymouth Prowler

1994
Chrysler Pacifica
Dodge Aviat
Dodge Ram VTS
Dodge Venom
Dodge Viper GTS Coupe
Eagle Vision Aerie
Plymouth Expresso

1995
Chrysler Atlantic
Eagle Jazz
Plymouth Back Pack

1996
Chrysler Composite Concept Vehicle
Chrysler LHX
Dodge Intrepid ESX

1997
Chrysler Phaeton
Dodge Concept
Dodge Sidewinder
Dodge T-Rex
Jeep Cherokee Casablanca
Jeep Dakar
Jeep Icon
Jeep Wrangler Tabasco
Jeep Wrangler Ultimate Rescue
Plymouth Pronto

1998
Chrysler Chronos
Dodge Big Red Truck
Dodge Intrepid ESX2
Jeep Jeepster
Plymouth Pronto Cruiser
Plymouth Pronto Spyder

1999
Chrysler Citadel
Dodge Charger R/T
Dodge Power Wagon
Jeep Commander
Jeep Journey

2000
Chrysler 300 Hemi(R) C
Chrysler GT Cruiser
Chrysler Java
Chrysler Panel Cruiser
Dodge ESX3
Dodge MAXX cab
Dodge Neon SRT
Dodge Viper GTS/R
Jeep Varsity
Plymouth Howler

2001
Chrysler Crossfire
Dodge Powerbox
Dodge Super8 Hemi
Jeep Willys

2002
Chrysler California Cruiser
Chrysler Pacifica
Dodge M80
Dodge Razor
Jeep Compass
Jeep Willys

2003
Chrysler Airflite
Chrysler 300C
Dodge Avenger
Dodge Durango
Dodge Kahuna
Dodge Magnum
Dodge Tomahawk
Jeep Treo

2004
Chrysler ME Four-Twelve
Dodge Sling Shot
Jeep Rescue

2005
Chrysler Akino
Chrysler Firepower
Dodge Caliber
Dodge Nitro
Jeep Compass
Jeep Gladiator
Jeep Hurricane
Jeep Patriot

2006
Chrysler Imperial
Dodge Avenger
Dodge Challenger
Dodge Hornet

2007
Chrysler Nassau
Dodge Demon
Jeep Trailhawk

 

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[via] Autoblog

New Yorkers score lowest on the driver's test

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No disrespect to our friends on the East Coast, but in the "survey results that will probably surprise no one" category: drivers from New York scored the lowest on a Department of Motor Vehicles driving test survey. That doesn't mean New Yorkers are bad drivers ... ahem ... it simply means they don't know the right answers to questions about what to do on the road.

One hundred people from every state and Washington D.C. were given questions that apply to every state from DMV tests. The nationwide average was 77.1 percent. The Big Apple scored 71 percent. But NY isn't alone -- the bottom five states are all on the Eastern Seaboard. And which state do you think had the best group of respondents? That's right: Idaho, leading the curve with 87.1 percent. Second best? Alaska. Apparently, you do better on driving tests in states where you're more likely to hit something other than a person. Who knew?

Thanks for the tip, Peter!

[Source: CNN]

 

[via] Autoblog

Alfa Romeo wins Mille Miglia

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Here's more reason for Alfisti to rejoice. Although it hasn't been a race of pure speed since 1957, winning the Mille Miglia is still an honor and a testament to skill behind the wheel. This year's trophy hoisters are Luciano Viaro and Luca Bergamaschi, in a 1928 Alfa Romeo 6C 1500S. They beat a 1927 Bugatti T 37, and a 1933 Aston Martin Le Mans.

It's the third Mille Miglia victory for Alfa Romeo since the race changed format in 1957: they won with the same car and driver combo in 2005, and prior to that they won in 1977 with a 1927 RL. During the 30-year span when the race was about being the first and fastest, from 1927 to 1957, Alfa won 11 times. Coincidentally, this year's winner is the same car that won the 1928 edition of the race.

[Source: World Car Fans]

 

[via] Autoblog

MINI's Euro lineup to burn less fuel, run cleaner

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Mini Cooper D. Click image for photo gallery.

Come August, the European MINI range will undergo a revamp that results in fuel economy and emissions improvements across the board. The most impressive numbers come from the Cooper D (for diesel), which as you know is unavailable here. We'll use the car's US mpg measurements for the sake of discussion (the press info after the jump uses measurements based on the larger Imperial gallon). The current Cooper D gets 53.4mpg as is, but after the changes it'll jump to a tick over 60 mpg. At the same time, its CO² emissions will drop from 118g/km to 104g/km.

As you'll see after the jump, every car makes, including the Cooper S, whose combined-cycle fuel economy will rise to almost 38 mpg. The regular MINI Cooper will go 43 miles on a single gallon, and the Europe-only MINI One will do slightly better, getting 44 and change. MINI pulls this off by incorporating regenerative braking, a driver-defeatable stop/start system on manual-transmission-equipped cars, and by adding a shift indicator that tells the driver what gear to select to ensure that maximum efficiency is being achieved. We see no reason why these changes couldn't be incorporated on the USDM Cooper and Cooper S, and hope that 's part of the plan. Next step: work on getting that Cooper D over here, okay? We want that.

Full PR with before-and-after numbers is pasted after the jump. You can use TDIClub's conversion calc to translate the Imperial measurements to our own.

[Source: MINI via AutoblogGreen]
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PRESS RELEASE:
72.4mpg. 104 g/km CO 2. No batteries required.

MINI hatches plan to clean up with revised engine range

MINI hatch models are to receive technological revisions later this year, resulting in jaw-dropping performance and efficiency figures. Already BMW Group's cleanest ever car, the MINI Cooper D will be capable of returning an astonishing 72.4mpg, with CO 2 emissions of just 104 g/km.

When production of the revised models begins in August 2007, there will be no requirement for alternative fuel sources or hybrid technology to achieve these stunning stats. All model variants will instead be supplied as standard with high-tech engine tweaks, providing exceptional economy and minimal emissions without compromising the MINI driving experience.

Efficiency improvements are consistent across the revised MINI hatch range.

Brake Energy Regeneration, Auto Start-Stop Function and Switch Point Display complete a package that will come at no extra cost to future MINI customers.

Brake Energy Regeneration works by using an Intelligent Alternator Control (IAC) and an Absorbent Glass Mat battery to recycle previously lost energy, which saves fuel. The IAC reduces drag on the engine by only engaging when required to charge the battery, whereas a traditional alternator is always pulling power from the engine. Additionally, the energy generated by the engine on over-run (under braking or descending a hill) was previously wasted. Now this lost energy is utilised by the IAC to charge the battery.

The Auto Start-Stop Function, available with manual transmission cars,automatically switches the engine off when the vehicle is stationary and the driver puts the car into neutral. To restart the driver only need engage the clutch again before pulling away in the normal manner. The system may be de-activated at the touch of a button when not required.

Switch Point Display aids drivers of manual transmission MINIs in selecting the most economical gear in which to drive. The engine management system analyses speed, road situation and accelerator pedal position and based on this data calculates optimum gearing. The ideal gear is then displayed by number in the cockpit display.

Even without these technology advancements in place, MINI leads the new car market for year-on-year improvements in clean engine manufacturing. CO 2 output per car has been reduced in the last year by an impressive 14 per cent. Putting that into perspective, the industry average was recorded at a lowly 0.3 per cent.*

To put the icing on the cake for customers, MINI Cooper D owners will continue to benefit from the car falling into VED tax band B. So savings are not only made in carbon emissions, but at the fuel pumps and the Post Office when replacing an annual road fund licence too. Little wonder then that MINI UK is again celebrating a month of record car sales!**

 

[via] Autoblog

If only: The Aston Martin DB-ONE

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click above image for gallery

We certainly don't want to be called out for complaining about Aston Martin's current crop of designs. Were we to win the lottery tomorrow, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage would be high up on our list of cars to purchase the day after tomorrow. That said, we've lived with the Aston Martin's corporate style for a few years now, and at some point the next generation needs to be confronted.

When the time comes, Aston Martin should give this guy a call. Ruben Vela is a Spanish designer who just received his Masters Degree in Automotive Design last year from Polytechnic University in Valencia. He created the DB-ONE Concept you see above (and in the high-res gallery below). Vela says that the design's most important element is "dynamism", kind of a subtle tension between the car's surfaces and lines that gives it an energy even when static. The front grille is much larger than current Aston models and becomes the focal point of the DB-ONE's front end, while the narrow slit headlights ensure that the massive expanse of sheetmetal presents a dominant front end. A true two-seater, the DB-ONE's windshield extends up and over the cockpit to let the sun shine in, as well. The extremely tapered rear is probably the least production feasible element on the car, though it definitely adds to the "static motion" theme.

Check out more pics of the Ruben Vela's Aston Martin DB-ONE Concept in the high-res gallery.

[Source: Car Body Design via DieselStation]

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[via] Autoblog

Updated 2007 Kia Picanto bound for Barcelona

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click above image for more angles of the 2007 Kia Picanto

The Kia Picanto is a small city car that's a big seller for the South Korean automaker. Though not sold in the U.S., the Picanto, which is based on the Hyundai Getz, is a hit in Europe and other export markets where teeny weeny autos are appreciated by the populace. Early next month, Kia will be debuting an updated Picanto at the Barcelona Motor Show in Spain. While far from all-new, the refreshed Picanto gets a more organic front end that reminds us a bit of the Hyundai Elantra that's sold in the U.S. The new front clip and rear bumper manage to grow the Picanto's overall length by 1.57 inches, but it's basically the same car underneath as before. The interior has also been upgraded, though it still appears to be chiseled from a giant block of hard plastic. Nevertheless, this new look has grown the Picanto from an awkward-looking city car into something that resembles a car even we Americans could excited about. After all, who doesn't love Lambo look-alike wheels on a micro mini?

You can rad Kia's official press release after the jump and check out the gallery by clicking below.

[Source: Kia]

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PRESS RELEASE:

NEW KIA PICANTO MAKES WORLD WIDE DEBUT IN BARCELONA

Kia's best seller is about to get bigger and better. Only millimetres bigger but miles better in every way, the face-lifted Picanto is set for a world debut at the Barcelona show on June 7.

Kia's design teams have updated Picanto to exude glamour while still maintaining its cheeky charm. A rounder nose and deeper rear bumper make the new model 40mm longer than its predecessor. Further changes in Picanto's looks are a result of all-new panels on the bonnet, front wings and front and rear bumpers. This new 'rounded' theme is also reflected in the light clusters and newly designed grille which will be gradually introduced across the Kia range. Fresh new colours and a restyled rounded exterior create a more intimate feel which continues on the interior as well.

The upgraded interior comes in five funky new colours to complement the nine new exterior colours on offer. New audio equipment and power steering will also enhance Picanto's high quality driving experience seldom offered in this sector.

Kia Motors European Vice President, Jean-Charles Lievens commented on this latest addition to the Kia range: "Picanto has been a great success for Kia, achieving more than 250,000 sales across Europe in a segment where we previously had no presence. Now we have refreshed our small car, upgrading its equipment and introducing a range of customer benefits, we aim to maintain its appeal and expand sales to 90,000 units annually over the next few years."

 

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[via] Autoblog

Put a Ron Fellows Z06 on your desk

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Want a 2007 Ron Fellows ALMS GT1 Corvette Z06, but the $80K you need to get it is currently tied up in pork futures? The fine folks at www.vettecollectibles.com can get you something that will do in the meantime. To go along with the 399 full-sized versions of the car, they are offering 399 1/24-scale die-cast editions. The models have a metal chassis, and opening hoods, doors, and trunks. Each one is also numbered, like the actual car, but will only run you $35 in this case. And honestly, short of the autograph on the $80K car, it'll put you just about as close to Ron Fellows as the people who bought the life-sized version.

Thanks, Bill!

[Source: VetteCollectibles.com]

 

[via] Autoblog

Getting ready for the Goodwood Festival of Speed

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click above image to view more pics of the Acabion GTO

The Goodwood Festival of Speed is right around the corner on the weekend of June 22-24, and guess what, we're going! Every year (here's last year) we've had to watch from across that transcontinental puddle we call the Atlantic Ocean as pics from this most mega of car events trickle into our RSS feeds. For those not in the know, the Goodwood Festival of Speed centers around the famed hill climb on the grounds of the Goodwood House in West Sussex, UK. Drivers of every imagineable type of vehicle tackle the 1.16-mile long hill, and if you've got a camera in hand it offers the best photo ops of the year. Barring any surprises, we'll have a long lens on hand to capture every car that climbs the hill.

Good thing too, as word from the Goodwood folk is that this year's event will have a record number of new car debuts, including the Acabion GTO shown above, the two-wheeled fuselage that's claimed to be the fastest production car in the world with a 342 mph top speed. Looks Even for those cars that don't make the climb, organizers allow visitors to get closer to these cars on display than any other auto show in the world. Below is a list of some of the more impressive vehicles that will be on site, as well as links to more pics and info.
Check after the jump for the FoS press release that lists even more cars that will be on hand to ogle.

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PRESS RELEASE:

THE 2007 GOODWOOD FESTIVAL OF SPEED HOSTS A RECORD NUMBER OF NEW CAR DEBUTS

A record number of important new cars will being making either their world, European or UK public debut at this year's Goodwood Festival of Speed - to be held in the grounds of Goodwood House in West Sussex from 22-24 June.

These range from the world's fastest production vehicle, the Acabion GTBO, claimed at an astonishing 342mph, to the most powerful (the 1012bhp Bristol Fighter T), and include the public debuts in action on the Goodwood Hill of the Maserati Gran Turismo, Caparo T1, Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR Roadster, Audi R8, Bentley Brooklands Coupé, Lamborghini Murcielago LP640, Porsche 911 GT3RS, bio-ethanol-powered Concept Climax, the electric Tesla Roadster, one-off Pininfarina Ferrari P4/5 Enzo, RUF CT3, and Artega GT, to name but a few. A couple of still top-secret concepts from major manufacturers are also due to be revealed for the very first time at the Festival.

Other new models being seen publicly for the first time in the UK on static display at Goodwood will include the third-generation Ford Mondeo, Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé, Mazda 2, and Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera, which will also take to the Hill.

interesting new initiatives from motor manufacturers, design specialists and other motor industry suppliers, recent concept cars such as the hydrogen-powered Ital Design Vadho, Honda Small Hybrid Sports Concept and Mazda Hakaze will appear for the first time on British soil. Also on display are other ecologically-advanced concept vehicles not seen in Britain before, such as the hybrid Toyota FT-HS, and diesel-hybrid Peugeot 908 RC, along with projects such as the NissanPivo and Honda's Asimo robot, which illustrate how the automotive world is changing and pioneering new technologies to meet future transportation requirements and legislation. Continuing the high-tech theme, Toyota will demonstrate its 'personal mobility' I-Swing around its display outside Goodwood House throughout the event.

The displays at FoS-TECH promise to be visually and intellectually stimulating, with the exhibits ranging from concept cars, incorporating the very latest automotive thinking, as above, to alternative fuels and future personal transport solutions. FoS-TECH, in association with BP Ultimate, will be based in a purpose-built structure on the Festival's main Exhibition Area, close to the cricket pitch. All exhibits will be under cover, and Festival visitors will have close, direct access to the displays.

 

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Scion may break promise to itself, add fourth model

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When Toyota's youth brand was born, there was an unwritten rule that it wouldn't grow beyond three models. Years later, Scion is an unqualified success having sold 170,000 units of the xA, xB and tC last year, which has Toyota execs wondering if just a few more units could be sold with a fourth model. The Car Connection got Scion's corporate manager Steve Haag to admit his brand does need to expand. Haag told TCC, "We have to offer more products, (though) we want to remain small."

Though a fourth vehicle, if produced, would still have to be an entry-level model to be called a Scion, Haag hinted that it would likely be something bigger and more expensive than what Scion currently offers. Haag also acknowledged that despite the green image of parent company Toyota, Scion models aren't fuel efficient enough to attract environmentally conscious car shoppers. As such, Scion could get its own hybrid as a fourth model.

The question is can Scion sell 200,000 units a year with its current three-model lineup, which includes the redesigned xB, all-new xD and tC, or will a fourth be needed to break through the ceiling? What type of model do you think Scion should sell next, or should it nix a fourth car and concentrate on improving the three it currently sells?

[Source: TCC]

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Morbid Merchandise: JFK hearse to be auctioned

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The JFK assassination was one of the most memorable moments in American history, and as of yesterday, a very large part of that history will be up for grabs on eBay. The 1964 Cadillac Miller & Meteor Hearse that carried President Kennedy's body was seen by of millions of people when JFK was driven to Love field, and now your neighbors can see it in your front yard. Included in the eBay auction is what is said to be the last known remaining original death certificate, which had errors that were later corrected and resulted in another certificate being issued. The hearse failed to sell in a May 5th auction, but bidding did go as high as $900,000.

We could see why an item like this would be a big draw at a museum or car show, but why an individual would want a hearse is beyond us. What's the selling point? "Hey, check out my hearse. Do you want to lay in the same spot as JFK's dead body?" Maybe we'd think differently if we had $1,000,000 to throw at a piece of Americana, but we don't.

[Source: eBay Motors via Sports Car Market]

 

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NEIN sez Porsche: Roxster ain't going to happen

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Fughedaboudit. That's what Porsche is saying about German magazine Auto Bild's claim the sports car maker is going to build a smaller companion ute to the Cayenne called the Roxster that would share its DNA with the upcoming Q5 from Audi. The Stuttgart-based automaker issued a statement that was originally reported on the Dow Jones Newswires denying the Auto Bild report.

No reasons were given as to why the Roxster won't be built, which is odd since we imagine it would be an easy business case to make. Just like the Cayenne shares many components with the Audi Q7 and Volkswagen Touareg, the Roxster would also share parts with the soon-to-arrive Audi Q5, as well as other models in the Audi range like the A4 and A6.

And who is Porsche kidding? This is one automaker that can longer claim its brand is sacred. The Cayenne looks like the Bearded Lady wearing a ball gown and the Panamera also takes the Porsche identity and applies it to an odd form. The Porsche badge could be applied to a riding lawnmower at this point (and it would sell!). Regardless, the official word from Germany is that the Roxster is not going to happen, which will just leave more sales for the BMW X3, Acura RDX and Mercedes-Benz's new CUV, the GLK.

[Source: Road and Track]

 

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Straight to the Source: Pininfarina chief moves to Fiat Group

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Between its numerous brands and divisions, the Fiat Group has, over the years, sent a lot of work the way of Pininfarina. As if the repeat business weren't enough, another indication of the Italian auto conglomorate's evident satisfaction with the design house's work is their most recent hire: Lorenzo Ramaciotti.

In various capacities at Pininfarina, Ramaciotti has been responsible for some 20 concept cars and dozens more production cars that have included some of Italy's most beautiful designs, as well as some of the more controversial. Included in his portfolio are the Maserati Quattroporte and Ferrari's 550 Maranello, 360 Modena, F430, 612 Scaglietti and Enzo. Having joined Pininfarina straight out of engineering school at Turin Polytechnic, he made his way up through the hierarchy to general manager, board member and finally to chief executive.

In his new position with the Fiat Group, Ramaciotti will be in charge of all designs for future products from Fiat's various divisions, most notably Maserati and several upcoming Alfa Romeos. He'll be reporting directly to group boss Sergio Marchionne, and we'll be keenly watching to see the fruits of his labors.

Press release after the jump.

[Source: Fiat Group]



PRESS RELEASE:

Lorenzo Ramaciotti responsible for Style of Fiat Group Automobiles and Maserati

As of June 1, 2007, Lorenzo Ramaciotti will take on responsibility for the Style function of all the brands of Fiat Group Automobiles and for Maserati. He will directly report to Sergio Marchionne, Chief Executive Officer of the Fiat Group.
Mr. Ramaciotti was born in 1948 in Modena and graduated in Mechanical Engineering at the Turin Polytechnic. He has a broad professional experience in automobile styling, which he earned at Pininfarina, one of the companies that represent the excellence of Italian styling.

He joined Pininfarina in 1973 and was soon charged with the responsibility for realising models and prototypes.
In 1982 he was appointed Deputy Manager of Pininfarina Studi e Ricerche at Cambiano, six years later he became General Manager and in 1994 he became a member of the Board of Directors.

In 2002 he was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Pininfarina Ricerca e Sviluppo S.p.A.

During the 17-year-period in which he headed the Pininfarina design, he developed approximately 20 concept cars, several of which were awarded at the international level, and directed projects of successful automobiles, on behalf of Italian and several important foreign manufacturers.

He developed the Maserati Quattroporte, as well as some of the most beautiful Ferrari models: the 550 Maranello, the 360 Modena, the Ferrari Enzo, and the current Ferrari F430 and 612 Scaglietti.

 

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Report: Diesels will outsell hybrids in the U.S. by 2012

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Right now in the U.S., hybrids are all the rage among drivers who want to be more green in what they drive, but it may not stay that way for much longer. New research by Ricardo and UBS is projecting that total sales of hybrid and diesel vehicles will hit 2.7 million annually by 2012, and that oil burners will account for 1.5 million of those sales. For those not good with math, the report is claiming that within five years, diesels will outsell hybrids in the U.S.

The report concludes that the added complexity of hybrid systems with their batteries, electric motors and internal combustion engines won't be able to overcome the cost advantage of a modern diesel engine, even with the expensive exhaust treatment systems needed to make diesels meet our new stricter emissions requirements.

Toyota, however, is projecting that it will achieve cost parity between hybrids and conventional drivetrains in the next few years. More likely is a scenario in which fuel efficiency and emissions requirements reach a point where diesel-hybrids become a necessity. As batteries improve and Series Hybrids like the Chevy Volt become a reality, diesels will be the likely choice as range extenders. In the short term, diesels are moving full speed ahead, at least from European manufacturers, so we'll just have to wait and see how American drivers take to them.

[Source: Ricardo]

 

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