Paging Sarah Connor, your ride is here -- and it's glowing

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A Russian gentleman has a thing for The Terminator and for glow-in-the-dark paint. In a lot of other places -- or a lot of other heads -- that might add up to a painting hung in the tastefully private confines of one's bedroom. Not this time. Instead of a keeping it to himself, he has showcased those twin affections with a mural that covers every panel of his black Toyota MR2. During the day, it is your everyday two-seater covered in what looks like a Terminator modeling shoot. At night, the fun kicks in when all that paint starts to glow, and the car looks like a stray from the Ghostbusters set. Does anyone know how to say "Feast your eyes on this!" in Russian?

[Source: English Russia via Jalopnik]

 

[via] Autoblog

Autoblog Week in Photos: Week of May 20, 2007

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This has been a huge week on Autoblog, as we launched our completely updated website, and we're celebrating this feat by giving away a fully-loaded $29,000 Dodge Nitro. (Enter every day through June 14th by clicking here.) We also had reviews of both the Chevy Silverado and the Infinity G35, and we had a great post on the Jeep JT Conccept proving it is more than just some thrown-together concept.

To get a three-minute recap on the past week, all you need to do is click play on the video above. We've also added links below to some of the more significant galleries from the last seven days. This week, music comes from Three Legged Dogg with "Frozen Summer". Enjoy!

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[via] Autoblog

British insurer says speed cameras are killing the points rating system

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Britain's installation of more speed cameras and the swap to digital means they'll catch even more speeders. That's good for the treasury. According to British insurer Swinton, it isn't good for the points system that insurance companies use to set premiums -- there are too many people getting more and more points to make it a useful criteria. So Swinton says it will no longer automatically raise premiums if drivers get points due to speed cameras, saying "points alone can no longer be used as a yardstick for driver evaluation." Currently in Britain, getting 12 points means losing your license. With 6,000 cameras nabbing two million speeders annually, and mobile phone infractions earning three points, Swinton says "a few years ago insurers might have assumed that a motorist with six or more points on their license was a reckless driver, but that is no longer necessarily the case." With the suggestion that drivers with 6 points could be viewed as "standard," six could become the new zero. We can't wait for that kind of sense to make it this way. Allstate? You listening?

[Source: Daily Mail]

 

[via] Autoblog

In the Autoblog Garage: 2007 Mazda CX-7 GT AWD

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click above image to view more pics of the 2007 Mazda CX-7 GT AWD

After a few days of driving the 2007 Mazda CX-7 GT AWD, I was reminded of a college buddy who had broken up with a girl he described as his ultimate dream date. She was good-looking, funny and even pleased his Mom. But my friend was tired of financing her $4-a-glass Zinfandel habit while he drank $2 draft. And that's kind of how we felt about the CX-7. Its beautiful design, high-quality interior, willingness to zoom-zoom all night long and actual usable utility is, unfortunately, totally overshadowed by its $4-a-premium-gallon gas habit.

So it was with mixed feelings we broke up with the copper red mica SUV. We're already missing its buttery-soft black leather seats, the kick-you-in-the-pants turbocharged four and the looks of incredulity from friends and family when they saw it. But we're not missing the costly gas pump visits.


click any image to view a larger version

Let's just go ahead and get that gas issue out of the way so we can focus on the good things in the relationship. The CX-7 had a drinking problem. It really liked to empty a tank. We drove 445 miles during our short time together, covering scenic highway drives as well as mundane commutes in city traffic. We enjoyed those miles, but at the end of the week, the day before the breakup, we realized our beloved car was getting only about 14 mpg. Yikes! And because of the champagne-tastes of its turbocharged heart, that was 14 miles to every gallon of $4 premium. Meaning we spent about $90 on gas for the week, which is not that much worse than the EPA's new rating for the car, 16 city, 22 highway.



But let's move on to happier things, like that high-quality interior we mentioned. Mazda is known for passing on its sporty genes to everything it touches, and the CX-7 inherits them, too. But Mazda should just as well be known for its lux interiors. The CX-7's dash and doors are made of a soft-touch plastic that one admiring friend equated to leather. Seats and steering wheel, however, are wrapped in the real thing. Their soft, black surfaces are a pleasure to touch and the seats are also soft and comfortable. The faux croc print center inserts were a bit gaudy, though. We'd have liked a little more depth to the seat cushion and stiffer side bolsters, but the 8-way power driver's seat eliminated most reasons to complain. Leg and headroom front and rear were ample, and with the child seat installed behind the driver, two adults might have fit beside it.



The lockable center armrest lifts to reveal a gaping storage bin for cabin clutter, and includes a power port for your electronic gadgets. Unfortunately, and surprisingly, the CX-7, a model only a couple of years old, doesn't have an auxiliary input jack. Luckily buyers can choose the iPod integration module for $149. Even though our tester didn't have that option, we found ample auditory entertainment on the in-dash Sirius radio and from the right pedal. Sound output was OK, but more bass would make for a richer audible experience.

Fit and finish were impeccable, as you would expect from a $30,660 car. Something else you expect in this price range, but don't get in the CX-7, is lighted vanity mirrors. Front windows and the sizable sunroof are a one-button operation open and close. The automatic climate control was also a set-it and forget-it luxury. The 6-disc changer, however, was slow to load and unload, but we're betting the satellite radio and (if purchased) iPod controls get way more use.



The instrument lighting can be toggled between red or a redish-purple, and the GT version gets an odd blue LED mounted near the rearview mirror. It dimly shined on the shifter, but did little to actually illuminate.

We are, of course, reviewing this from a family perspective, so the child safety seat went in the day we got the car. NHTSA and other safety organizations strongly suggest child seats be installed in the center of the back seat. Mazda, however, does not make this simple in the CX-7. Most cars, including this Mazda, have the LATCH system, which consists of metal loops buried between the seat cushion and the seat back. Two hooks on the child seat attach there to firmly hold it in place. A third hook is designed to go over the top of the seat and attach at the back to another LATCH loop.

The CX-7 provides center loops on the rear seat, but not a center loop behind the seat. Unless you're willing to perform a bit of origami-like maneuvers on the cargo area floor cover, you'll need to put baby on either the left or right. It's not unsafe, just not the safest position recommended. If you bring home one of these vehicles, either have someone at the dealership demonstrate proper center installation, or, better yet, have them do it.



One more note on the child seat. Those heated, buttery-soft leather seats were made to coddle your back side in near-luxury comfort, not a hard plastic child seat. The night before we returned the car, the child seat came out. Left behind was the distinct impression of a hard plastic child seat. By morning, the leather had somewhat returned to its intended state, but it wasn't perfect. Parents should keep this in mind when deciding between leather and cloth options. There are tricks out there you can use to protect your seats, but most of them increase the leather's protection while reducing the child's.

Overall, safety is taken care of. Air bags surround all occupants, and Mazda engineers created a vehicle that passed NHTSA crash tests with no problem. The NHTSA gave the CX-7 five stars in all its crash tests, and four for rollover, indicating a 14% chance of tipping. Those numbers are for the two- and all-wheel-drive models. Standard safety features include stability control, four-wheel ABS, traction control and tire pressure monitors.

The stroller test was also no trouble for this SUV. Shoved in the back, our Graco didn't even fill up half the space either sideways or longways, leaving room for groceries, luggage, kegs, etc. Leave baby at home, fold the rear seats, and you've got huge room for cargo. Tie-downs in back keep things from shifting around and a sliding cover hides your valuables. The spare tire and jack are beneath the reversible rear floor cover, which is carpeted on one side and hard plastic on the other.



Being a typical guy, I like gadgets. The gadget I like most on the CX-7 fit in my pocket. Keyless entry is offered from Mazda, but was not installed on our tester. However, the switchblade key fob did offer a nice surprise. Push the door open button twice and hold it to see the car's windows lower and the sunroof slide open, which lets out hot air while you walk across the smoldering desert of your local mall's parking lot Unlike remote starters, no gas is wasted, which is appreciated in this vehicle. When you park, insert the key into the driver's lock, turn and hold, and all windows and sunroof close. Nice and simple.



Driving the CX-7 is mostly pleasurable. The CUV rides smoothly on open highways and handles itself very well around town. My wife complained that in stop and go traffic, she was bothered by a slight hesitation when starting from a stop. I felt it, too, but was bothered less by that than by the nasty turbo lag. Pulling into traffic, or switching lanes is no problem with this vehicle's 244-hp motor sourced from the MazdaSpeed6, but you need to time it just right. The first time I goaded the CX-7, the kick in the butt took me by surprise. To minimize the delay and the lurch of the turbo lag, we found using the manumatic to drop down a gear or two ahead of making our passing manuevers helped spool up the turbo. It's something a manual-transmission driver would know to do, but something anyone who grew up with only automatics would have to learn.

Speaking of the manumatic, it's better than some we've driven, but still a bit on the nannyish side. It forces upshifts too soon to be sporty and wouldn't allow 6th gear until too late to help with fuel economy. The system was presumably programmed to protect the all-aluminum four-cylinder, but the best use of the manumatic is when you need that lower gear in traffic, which is something that could just as easily have been accomplished with a simple PRNDL.

Our tester had the AWD option, which, due to 90-degree weather and an extended regional drought, we were pretty much unable to test in any meaningful way.



Everyone who saw the CX-7 loved the look, the feel, the ride, the sound, the way the sun glinted off her curves and reflected in her shiny, crystal-like headlights. But mention the premium gas, and the admiring gazes quickly turned to looks of dismay and emotional betrayal. Mazda had a potentially huge hit in the CX-7, until premium gas started costing more than milk. We think the turbo-four is unnecessary, and would be better replaced with a smoother, less hungry, larger displacement 4-cylinder or a small V-6. A hybrid four would be even more welcome, and would complement the car's sleek, modern design very well.

If you can afford to feed it, the CX-7 could be the family man's Miata. If baby formula and diapers already have the family budget stretched thin, wait until the CX-7 gets a powertrain that doesn't swill the Dom like there's no tomorrow. Until then, we'll look wistfully at our photos and wonder what could have been.

 

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[via] Autoblog

Autoblog goes for a ride in the Holden Efijy

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click above image for 22 new high-res pics of the Holden Efijy Concept


A couple of weeks ago, when GM was trotting the Camaro Convertible Concept around the country, there was another throwback hotrod along for the ride: the Soprano Purple Holden Efijy. The car was created two years ago, in 2005, by Richard Ferlazzo, a designer at Holden (otherwise known as GM Down Under). When Autoblog wasn't busy ogling the Camaro, we were checking out the Efijy in all its future retro splendor. Follow the jump for the story, and be sure to check out the gallery of hi-res pics.

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Click on any image to view the high-res gallery.

Hanging out in and with cars like the Holden Efijy brings two questions to mind: the first is, if car designers are designing stuff like this, how come we get stuff that's... to put it kindly, not at all like this?

Like the Camaro, the Efijy is an even wilder update of a former automotive icon: the FJ Holden, called "Australia's most famous car." (That's also where eFiJy comes from -- get it?) The Efijy specifically references postwar FJ's, the 1953 in particular. Chief Designer Richard Ferlazzo first sketched the car in 1989, and finally got a chance to build it in 2005. As the GM press packet said, "the car delivers retro, mumbo, and gizmos in one glorious package." While we didn't lay our hands on any mumbo, we're sure it's stuffed somewhere in the car's 17+ foot length -- just a few inches shorter than a Bentley Arnage. It was built on a stretched C5 Corvette chassis, and the adjustable air suspension can lower the car to about a half an inch off the ground. So yes, it's just as low and long as it looks in the pics.

The supercharged 6.0-liter LS2 engine is good for 645 hp. The 1953 FJ had 60. The LS2 looks like a tiny chrome jewel in the massive engine bay because the car is more than six and a half feet wide, but the span isn't noticeable until you raise the hood. A rear-mounted four-speed autobox is worked with illuminated pushbuttons where there would normally be a stick. (Speaking of that transmission, somewhere along the way the computer went out and the transmission control module lost its settings, so the car had to be manually put in gear, which meant we didn't get to drive it.) A limited slip differential keeps the 22-inch by 10-inch wide rear wheels doing something other than spinning. The exhaust is especially nice, a 2.5-inch dual affair in billet aluminum contoured flush with the bodywork.

Ferlazzo's aim was to combine the raw might and appeal of glory days hotrods with the technology available today, which is really on display inside. Proximity sensors open the doors as you approach (sadly, we didn't get to sample this feature). In addition to that pushbutton transmission, there's a drop-down touchscreen LCD that controls the air suspension, sat-nav, radio, and other functions. The retro stereo graphic that appears onscreen controls a 2000-watt system with a hard drive for audio and video. The instrument cluster is electronic. The floor is hardwood: maple timber veneer with aluminum bands. Dual filament LED's inside can provide different colored mood lighting. LED's do illumination duty outside front and rear, with the LED headlamps cooled by fans.

When you're sitting in the car, visibility is meager, to say the least. The car's beltline comes right up to your shoulder, and your buried in tombstone bucket seats that scrape the ground. But that's all right -- everyone outside has great visibility of you inside. As far as the sound of the car, while the tech accents might be all about today, the rumble is straight from 1953. When they started the car up, everyone knew it. Except for the fact that you're driving a purple car, there could be few better ways to hotrod comfortably than in an Efijy. You could rumble from coast to coast in climate-controlled, aural bliss. You wouldn't see much, but you'd look marvelous.

Because of suppliers who wanted to be involved with the project and donated parts and time, the car only cost $250,000 to create. There will probably never be another. Which brings us to the second question we have when we hang out with cars like the Efijy: how come Autoblog doesn't have a team of designers, the resources of a major auto manufacturer, and a herd of suppliers willing to supply free loot? We've got dream cars, too. And they're really good. We promise.



Holden Efijy Specs:

Dimensions

Length: 5162mm Width: 1999mm

Height - drive setting: 1386mm Height - show setting: 1274mm

Ground clearance - drive: 139mm Ground clearance - show: 27mm

Track front: 1640mm Track rear: 1660mm

Wheelbase: 2946mm

Powertrain

Engine: GM 6.0-litre, LS2 aluminium V8 with Roots-type supercharger

Bore and stroke: 101.6 mm x 92.0 mm

Compression ratio: 10.9:1

Power and torque: 480kW (645 bhp) @ 6400 rpm

Torque: 775Nm (560 ft/lb) @ 4200 rpm

Exhaust: Custom designed, block hugger headers, stainless steel 2.5-inch dual system, billet aluminium exhaust tips

Transaxle: GM four-speed electronic automatic transmission, push button electronic control, limited slip differential

Exterior

Body: Two door pillarless coupe, glass fibre bodyshell; remote door release and proximity sensor systems; polished billet aluminium brightwork

Colour: "Soprano Purple" custom ' kandy ' mix

Head lamps: High intensity LED head lamps; LED park and turn-signal lamps

Tail lamps: LED dual color stop/tail and turn signal lamps; LED single 'blue dot'; LED centre high mount stoplamp

Chassis: Modified Chevrolet Corvette. Front mounted engine, torque tube driveline, rear mounted transaxle

Suspension: Modified Chevrolet Corvette. Forged upper and lower control arms; height adjustable airbag suspension units with electronic control

Steering: Variable ratio rack and pinion

Wheels: Billet aluminium - 20 x 9-inch front, 22 x 10-inch rear

Tyres: Dunlop SP Sport - 9090 255/35 ZR 20 front, 9000 285/30 ZR 22 rear

Brakes: 381mm grooved and ventilated rotors; six-piston aluminium calipers (front), four-piston aluminium calipers (rear); electric park brake

Interior

Seats: Electric tombstone-style bucket, leather trimmed, integral seat belts

Headliner: Leather trimmed

Steering wheel: Billet aluminium and leather

Flooring: Figured maple timber veneer with aluminium inserts

Instruments: LCD screen display, drop-down touch control LCD screen

Entertainment: Hard drive audio and video file system; 2000W amplifier, 1000W RMS subwoofer, two x 200W RMS mid-bass, two x 100W RMS split mid-range, two x 100W RMS directional tweeters

Lighting: LED interior courtesy lamps; LED sill plate illumination lamps

 

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[via] Autoblog

Call Magnum, there's a new 308! Oh wait, it's a Peugeot...

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Click image for a gallery of the Peugeot 308

In our minds, the number 308, as it pertains to cars, is inextricably tied to Ferrari, and by extension, one Thomas Magnum, whose 308 GTS was one of the cooler TV rides of the 80s. Unfortunately, the number will soon be associated with Peugeot's "gaping maw" front end treatment on the new 308 hatch. Regardless of how anyone feels about Pug's corporate schnoz, it's very...um, distinctive, and naturally, it adorns the automaker's newest 5-door. The photos here leaked earlier in the week, and there's no official release to accompany them yet (that will come on June 5, according to WorldCarFans).

The prevailing wisdom, however, is that is that the 308 will launch with the BMW-PSA 120-horsepower 1.6L four cylinder (also used in the Mk2 MINI Cooper). A range of diesels will also be available, and as previously reported, PSA's diesel-electric Hybride HDi system is also going to be in the mix. That powertrain should be good for something in the neighborhood of 69 mpg in the combined-cycle, which is obviously fantastic. Finally, an E85-capable engine will also be offered.

A wagon and coupe+convertible will join the hatchback later on, and a spunky, turbocharged 308 RC is expected sometime in the future. All these new 308s may well be fine cars, but we'd still rather have the kind with that horse on the hood...

[Source: WorldCarFans]
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[via] Autoblog

Day 5: The Autoblog Relaunch Celebration Sweepstakes featuring the All-New 2007 Dodge Nitro R/T

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click above image to enter to win an all-new 2007 Dodge Nitro R/T

We're five days into the Autoblog Relaunch Celebration Sweepstakes featuring the All-New 2007 Dodge Nitro R/T, and want to thank all the websites below that are helping us celebrate Autoblog's new design. One thing we've always loved about what we do is the sense of comradery that replaces competition in the blogosphere. This has also been a great opportunity to meet some sites we weren't aware of before. If you're site does a post on the Sweepstakes, make sure to let us know by emailing a link to abresearch at gmail dot com and we'll add it to the list below.

If you haven't entered to win the fully-loaded 2007 Dodge Nitro R/T we're giving away, you can do so by clicking HERE. You can enter once a day from now through the end of June 14th, so don't forget to do so while perusing the posts on Autoblog. We apologize to those of you getting sick of hearing us plug the sweepstakes, but hey, it's a big deal to this little blog and we're doing everything we can to ensure it's a success. We'll be satisfied when one of our readers is handed the keys to a 2007 Dodge Nitro R/T. Thanks for entering and good luck!

 

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[via] Autoblog

Welcome to Indiana, home of the $1,000 speeding ticket. And that's just the beginning...

States have come up with some neat little quips to get people to slow down for work zones on freeways. "Slow for the cone zone" comes to mind. The Hoosier State has shunned the soft sell and gone straight for the I-double-dog-dare-you-to-speed-here school of prevention by serving up a $1,000 ticket.

Starting July 1, the Indiana DOT can lower speed limits without previous any study in highway work zones. Then, they can send five-0 to the scene to make sure Joe Q. Driver isn't trying anything funny, even if there aren't any workers present. The first time Joe's foot slips after he passes the 45 mph sign, it's $300. The second infraction is $500. And if that doesn't cure his wayward ways, then his gracious donation of $1,000 will gladly be accepted by the good state of Indiana. Oh yeah, and if he fights it and loses it's another $70.

Our favorite provision is the "aggressive driving" misdemeanor. If you drive 46 mph in a highway work zone and perform any aggressive action on a driver in front of you, such as flashing your headlights, and you get caught, you get a $5,000 fine that probably comes with its own Howitzer sound effects. If you do it again, the officer will apply a Rowdy Roddy Piper sleeper hold, then pin you to the mat with a $10,000 ticket, three years in jail, and a felony on your record. Don't mess with Texas Indiana.

[Source: The Newspaper]

 

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[via] Autoblog

Tennis, anyone? Peugeot unveils 207 CC Roland Garros

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Peugeot 207 CC ROland Garros
Click image for gallery

To coincide with this year's French Open, Peugeot has released the 207 CC Roland Garros. The yellow coupe+convertible is latest in a line of special models released in conjunction with the tourney, and uses edition-specific badging, interior trim, color, plus features such as A/C and navigation to help lure customers. Power comes from the NA 1.6i 120-horsepower four-cylinder co-developed with BMW and also used in the MINI Cooper. Turbocharged and diesel engines are, of course, offered for the regular 207 CC, which you can read all about here.

[Source: Peugeot via Autoblog Spanish]

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[via] Autoblog

Learn the language of car designers

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At one of the Hot Rod Power Tour stops a few years ago, I met a GM designer at the automaker's booth. I can't recall his name, but I was so starstruck I think I remember our conversation consisting mostly of me saying, "Hey, you're cool."

Don't let this happen to you. The New York Times provides a lexicon of design slang to help you at least fake a conversation if you happen to run in to, say, Brian Nesbitt at the local bowling alley. We're sure most Autoblog readers know many if not most of the terms defined in the story, but there are a few that might surprise, and a refresher course is rarely a bad thing. Here are a few of the more obscure terms to get you started:

I.P. - The NYT's story warns to never use the word dashboard when speaking with a designer, but instead to refer to it as the instrument panel, or , preferably, the I.P.

D.R.G - Cars designed with traits of its company have what is called Down the Road Graphic. It's the "visual signature" that with only a quick glance, communicates the brand.

Dead Cat Hole - We can guess the origins of this term, but it refers to the space between a car's tire and the wheel well.

Check out the NYT story for more terms defined, like gummidinger and rat hole.

 

[via] Autoblog

VIDEO: Playing indoors - Lancia Delta S4 on a kart track!

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How many times have you heard someone use the phrase, "That thing handles like a go-kart." Well, in the case of the Lancia Delta S4 of Group B fame, it's true. The video embedded after the jump was taken at an indoor track. Killer stuff, and it had to have sounded incredible in there while this was going on. Wherever this is, there's some pretty sweet hardware parked inside the tire barriers, too. Based on some Googling we've done, we're guessing the pilot is Bruno Ianello, who appears to have been driving this particular Delta S4 in recent years at historic rallies. We found some nice shots of the car here and here, if you'd like to have a better look at it.

Follow the jump for the video of the indoor action.

[Source: Dieselstation]

 

[via] Autoblog

For shame! Tiff Needell makes argument for HP limit

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Et tu, Tiff? Fifth Gear presenter Tiff Needell, in a roundabout twist of fatalist logic, has the temerity to suggest that automakers voluntarily adopt a maximum horsepower limit. His argument is a classically defensive one: willingly give up a little bit before the opposing forces -- who want everyone to drive Priuses -- force everyone to give up a lot.

Regardless of what you think of that tactic, the real problem is when Tiff (of all people!) starts saying that cars have enough horsepower as is, bringing up the same points that are used by the people he's trying to thwart. "Today's motors have more than enough performance. Developing models with even more could do more harm than good with the accompanying bad publicity." Tiff? Is that really you? As if it could get worse, he then cites the Vauxhall Corsa VXR and Renaultsport Clio 197 as all we really need: "All have less than 200 bhp, but are more thrilling to drive than some supercars from a couple of decades ago. [They] can rocket from 0-60 in under seven seconds, which means they're easily fast enough for most people."

A couple of decades ago? Seven seconds? Most people? And it only goes downhill from there. You can check out the entire piece for yourself, but be warned it's not a fun Memorial Day read. When bastions of the enthusiast press start sounding like Comintern double agents, you know it's gotten really crazy.

[Source: Auto Express]

 

[via] Autoblog

AutoblogGreen for 05.28.07

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Usually in this space, we bring you the green car news from yesterday's AutoblogGreen (and, on Mondays, the weekend as well). We've still got that down below, but for all of the Memorial Day drivers out on the road today, we've got two recent stories from AutoblogGreen about the insanely high gas prices in America and how they're making an impact - or not - on the number of cars on the road. So, sit back, enjoy and check out the video above of Lee Iacocca on Charlie Rose.

 

[via] Autoblog

It's a madder world: Mid-engine RWD Integra GSR

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There once was a man named Dave who had a '91 NSX and loved it. The problem was it cost too much to maintain, and he was petrified of the car receiving the slightest nick. When the money and the angst got too much, after 1,800 miles, he got rid of it. The car he replaced it with is far, far more interesting: a mid-engined RWD mash-up of a 97 Prelude VTEC and 94 Integra GSR.

His only goal was to build a car that rode and handled well with decent performance. Call it an NSX that wouldn't slaughter the piggy bank and that can be parked in a mall lot without its owner breaking into a sweat. After two months of R&D, the Frankenstein began. Dave doesn't give exact numbers but does indicate a budget of $10K, a total weight of 2,700 lbs, and 45/55 weight distribution.

Check out the link for finished pictures, and you can read the entire conversion story with pics written by Dave himself here.

[Source: Team Integra]

 

[via] Autoblog