VIDEO: Watch a 911 GT3 chase a Yamaha R1 on the 'Ring

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We've seen quite a few videos on Autoblog of exotic sports cars tackling the ring, but motorcycles don't make much news here. MCN road-tester Michael Neeves braved the 'Ring back in April in a Yamaha R1 while his brother Ben followed close behind in a Porsche 911 GT3. In the wide-open, the R1 tears the lightning-fast GT3 a new one, but the Porsche consistently caught up in the twistier sections.

The 8:48 lap time pulled in by the Neeves brothers was pretty impressive considering the major traffic on the track and the two accidents that needed to be traversed. Hit the jump to check out the two-wheeled action.

[Source: Motorcycle News]

Continue reading VIDEO: Watch a 911 GT3 chase a Yamaha R1 on the 'Ring

 

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eBay Find of the Day: Poor man's Porsche "Carrera GT" Boxster

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Click photo for gallery

So many things are possible thanks to the wonders of eBay. Tea with Nelson Mandela? No problem. Ferrari Enzo? Sure, you can have one, and you can even get one with a 26-year-old woman tacked onto the deal.

Needless to say, we aren't surprised to come across a Porsche Boxster with a Carrera GT bodykit -- recessed doors, power hardtop convertible, Tiptronic (or "Triptonic," if you look at the auction listing), and just 16,000 miles on it. It also sports new rims worth $6K. The seller is moving to Hawaii, lucky dog, and has "too many cars," as if there is any such thing.

With a reserve of over $50,000 we're not exactly expecting a blowout, but it is a cool knock-off for significantly less than a bona-fide Carrera GT -- and with Porsche engineering, still. Place your bids here.

Thanks for the tip, Zac!

[Source: eBay]


 

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Dodge to sell Caliber, Caravan in China

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Just as Chrysler is finalizing plans to bring Chinese-made B-class cars to the States, they're also taking advantage of a growing affinity over there for American-flavored rides. China Car Times is reporting that Dodge will begin selling Calibers and Caravans in China with partner SouEast Motors. And just as CCT said, SouEast is not a typo. As CCT reminds that General Motors has found a huge, virtually untapped market in China where Buick sedans are selling better than back home. If Dodge can find similar success, it could at least offset development costs for the Hornet, and at most be a huge growth opportunity that puts the company back in the black.

We say send 'em the Compass, too. All of 'em.

[Source: China Car Times]

 

[via] Autoblog

VIDEO: Autoblog shows how to unlock your car with a cell phone

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About a month ago my brother sent me an email explaining that if a friend or family member has the second key fob for your car, you can call them up on your cell phone, ask them to hold the key fob up to the phone, press the unlock button, and your car door will unlock. In theory, the sound waves from the key fob, which are unintelligible to the human ear, will be transmitted via the cell phone, and the doors will unlock. Well, we've seen enough spam emails before that were full of it, but we decided to see for ourselves if this works.

When we tested this theory, we were stunned to find out that it actually works. I was so excited that I pulled out the wife and daughter outside to shoot a quick video on the front lawn. Before getting this on camera, we tested it five times, and it worked every time but one. There was a lot of traffic during the one failed test, so our best guess is that the noise from the passing cars negated the sound from the key fob signal.

Mad props to the wife for getting eaten alive by bugs and keeping the camera still at the same time (for the most part). Hit the jump to check it out, it's pretty damn cool. Test this out with a friend or spouse, too, and let us know if it worked for you.

Continue reading VIDEO: Autoblog shows how to unlock your car with a cell phone

 

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Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost turns 100, commemorative Phantom unveiled

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Click image for gallery of the Phantom Silver and centenary gathering

Silver Ghosts gather at GoodwoodRolls-Royce recently celebrated the centenary of the Silver Ghost with a gathering of over five dozen of the cars at the automaker's Goodwood HQ. Some 6,000 Silver Ghosts were produced from 1907 to 1925 , and as you can see in the photo at right (click it to enlarge), they varied greatly in style. We're completely smitten with the wood-bodied boattail behind the group of owners in the middle of the photo (we zoomed in on it in the photo gallery below).

To celebrate the Silver Ghost's 100th anniversary, Rolls-Royce is producing a highly-limited run of commemorative Phantoms. Dubbed the Phantom Silver, the car carries a £22,000 premium over the standard Phantom and features a custom Ghost Silver finish. Its list of other specific features (follow the jump for full details) includes 21" wheels with chrome center caps, a solid silver Spirit of Ecstasy, a solid silver keyfob, white-faced gauges, a matching clock, and more.

By the time you've read this, they'll probably all be spoken for.

Press releases after the jump.

[Source: Rolls-Royce]

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Google's Street View Car: Take a look at the vehicle that's looking at you!

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While it was much more fun to think of the little hover-droid flying around New York City waiting to snap pictures for you of the surrounding city-scape, the reality is a bit less interesting, although more realistic. The vehicle you see in the picture above is one of Immersive Media's camera wielding cars, a Volkswagen New Beetle to be exact. These are the cars that Google is using to populate their new Street View function with pictures of major cities, or as Immersive Media themselves refer to it: 360° georeferenced spherical video. Ummm... yeah.

Since I just ruined John's fantasy of the little hover-droid, I propose this stunning possibility: Maybe this is the real Bumblebee from Transformers! He's no Camaro, he was a Bug all along. He's come to earth in an attempt to map out possible... alright, nevermind. I'll just go back to thinking of the hover-droid.

[Source: Immersive Media via Engadget]

 

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Spy Shots: 2008 Honda Accord V6

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Chris Doane has done it again. The latest Accord to be caught by this ace spy photographer is apparently the 2008 Honda Accord V6. Note the dual rear exhausts when you click through to see the full-size pics at Straightline. Another lightly-disguised sedan undergoing final testing, this V6 differs little from the previous base sedan we showed you a couple of weeks ago. Slightly different 7-spoke wheels and a sunroof are the only apparent changes besides the dual pipes out back. Oh, and one interior shot shows a fairly large binnacle for the nav system in the top center of the dash.

Not meant to set the design world atwitter, the new Accord is inoffensive if not handsome. The sedan styling echoes that of the Accord coupe that was unveiled as a concept last January in Detroit and has also been captured by Brenda Priddy & Company. Lacking the honeycomb grille of the coupe, the sedan offers a slightly more mainstream look that should continue to win hundreds of thousands of buyers annually in the midsize sedan segment.

Rumors suggest those buyers will find a bit more personality under the hood, via a new 3.5L V6 with at least 270 horsepower on tap. Lower emissions and and better mileage are expected too, thanks to Honda's new cylinder deactivation feature. Looks like we'll be getting a new acronym in the process (VTEC, ftw!). Production of the new Accord should start in September or October with deliveries to dealerships arriving not long after.

[Source: Straightline]

 

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Lexus files lawsuit against p0rn site

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The Detroit Free Press is reporting that Lexus has filed a lawsuit against two metro Detroiters who have commandeered the brand's name for their pornographic website and the site's star, Lexus Cash (yes, that's her at right). Lexus is claiming the two, uh, entrepenuers, broke trademark laws by using its brand name in a less than savory manner, which could result in the dilution of its good name. While doing research for this (somebody had to), we came across another pornstar named Lexus Locklear, but so far haven't heard whether or not she's also being sued by the Japanese automaker. Perhaps her brand of entertainment is a little more high-brow than what Lexus Cash offers, we wouldn't know.

Whlie the name "Lexus Cash" is probably a stage name, this got us wondering about other people who are actually named after cars. For instance, we've heard of girls named Porsche (yes, actually spelled that way, not like Portia de Rossi). If one of the Porsches of the world grows up to be a porn star, would Porsche the carmaker have any grounds to sue? We'll consult the AOL lawyers and get back to you on that one, but clearly Lexus thinks it has a case against Lexus Cash and her employers.

[Source: The Detroit Free Press via Jalopnik]

 

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Student-penned Lamborghini LM400 Concept

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click above image to view more pics of the Lamborghini LM400 Concept

The original Lamborghini LM002 combined the qualities of a HUMMER (before there really was HUMMER) with a level of power and performance one would expect from a Italian exotic. It eschewed actual design for a slab-sided, utilitarian look, with a pair of round headlights that toned down its aggression so it looked safe to pet without getting bitten.

Of course, the LM002 missed out on the big SUV boom that saw luxury, high-performance SUVs like the Porsche Cayenne padding its parent company's pockets with big profits. But now that SUVs are truly mainstream and Lamborghini finds itself under the care of VW/Audi, design student Rene Harrigan thought it might be time to reconsider bringing this beast back to life. His idea, called the LM400 Concept, updates the old bruiser with a new Lamborghini-esque design that sits on an Audi Q7 platform. We like Harrigan's vision from the A-pillar back, but the front end lacks a strong visual connection with current Lambos and looks too anonymous to wear a Raging Bull badge. He says the LM400 would be powered by various V8, V10 and V12 engines plucked from the corporate parts bin, and be offered in four trim levels: the LM V8, sporty LM-S, luxurious LM400 V10 and the obscene LMR that sports a 600-hp V12.

The idea of a new LM for Lamborghini is fun, but in reality would say something about how far the brand has come from its many trips to the edge. Porsche got away with offering an SUV and not alienating its fanbase too much, so perhaps Lamborghini could do the same.

[Source: CarBodyDesign via CarScoop]

 

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Alpha RWD platform set to invade GM lineup

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Citing suppliers and loose-lipped employees of General Motors as its source, Inside Line has learned that the rear-wheel drive Alpha platform will be making a big splash in the automaker's product portfolio soon. The Alpha will reportedly underpin a successor to the Pontiac G6 set to arrive in late 2010. Such a vehicle would do much to enhance Pontiac's unsubstaniated claim to build excitement, and would also augment the upcoming Zeta-based, rear-wheel-drive G8 sedan nicely. After that, the Alpha will take up residence beneath the next-generation Cadillac BLS sedan that's currently sold only in Europe. Once it makes the switch, IL expects the BLS to cross the Atlantic and slot in below the CTS in Cadillac's North American lineup. Next up would be a new rear-wheel-drive Alpha-based sedan for Saturn that would be positioned below the front-wheel drive Aura and above the Astra.

The Alpha infusion would occur in GM's lineup just as the aged front-wheel-drive W-body platform is phased out and replaced by the Epsilon II platform. The W-based Buick LaCrosse will make way for an Epsilon II successor that revives the Regal name, while the next-gen Malibu and Aura will move over to the new platform, as well. The Malibu may also be offered in a long-wheelbase version to appease current Impala customers who will still need a large, front-wheel-drive sedan once that car jumps to the rear-wheel-drive Zeta platform.

Regardless of whether any of these plans actually happen (nothing's written in stone in this business), it's clear that GM's push to globalize its platforms is on track.

[Source: Inside Line]

 

[via] Autoblog

Porsche officially files for takeover bid of VW

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Reuters is reporting that today, Porsche has politely asked the European Commission if it can take over Volkswagen. The short filing by Reuters goes on to state that the Commission has until July 2nd to either give the green light or look into the matter further. Naturally, we'd expect the E.C. to take its time on the matter. Porsche's ultimate plan appears to involve taking over Volkswagen without being forced to buy all of its shares. A 47-year-old German law currently prevents a Volkswagen takeover, but the European Union is reportedly considering a repeal that would open the door for Porsche to make its move.

[Source: Reuters]

 

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Hyundai offers big warranty on certified pre-owned vehicles

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Hyundai has just announced a new Certified Pre-Owned Limited Warranty on used (sorry, "previously owned") vehicles that are up to five years old and have less than 60,000 miles. Known for being the first to offer a 10-year/100,00 mile powertrain warranty on its new cars, Hyundai will now be including that same lengthy coverage with the purchase of a CPOV.

Hyundai's original 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty really forced the automaker to improve the quality of the cars it builds, otherwise the cost of warranty repairs would have put it out of business. That warranty first began around Y2K, so any vehicle that qualifies for Hyundai's new Certified Pre-Owned Limited Warranty was originally sold with its new car warranty. The new 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty for pre-owned vehicles demonstrates that Hyundai is clearly confident in the cars it built back in 2002.

[Source: Hyundai]

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What's up with Wolfgang? He's back at Chrysler

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Immediately following the sale of Chrysler to Cerberus, people began speculating on what role former Chrysler exec Wolfgang Bernhard would take up in the newly minted Chrysler Corp. Even we jumped on the bandwagon and suggested Bernhard, who had been hired on by Cerberus to advise the sale, would be a likely replacement for Tom LaSorda if the automaker's current CEO couldn't turn around the company's fortune. The Wall Street Journal is reporting, however, that Bernhard will act as a high-level advisor and report directly to Cerberus founder Stephen Feinberg.

The interesting thing is that Bernhard has been present at nearly every meeting since the acquisition was announced. He currently has an office on the executive floor of Chrysler's Auburn Hills headquarters and has been seen making the rounds, even stopping by the design studio to point out what he likes and dislikes in future designs.

Cerberus makes it clear, however, that Bernhard is not part of the Chrysler executive team, which begs the question, why is he there? It seems to us that Bernhard's considerable talent in having an eye for good product and dealing with the unions will be extremely valuable to LaSorda and his team while they attempt to bring Chrysler back to profitability. At the same time, Bernhard's role also comes off as a strategy by Cerberus to keep the Chrysler execs, specifically LaSorda, focused in their task. Should they fail, Bernhard won't have to move his desk far to take over the CEO role. Hopefully it doesn't come to that, and the two execs will form a relationship similar to the one used effectively by GM CEO Rick Wagoner and his product man, Bob Lutz.

[Source: Wall Street Journal via Motor Authority]

 

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San Fran gas station drains tanks at $2.99/gallon in protest

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Epilogue: remember Bob Oyster? He's the Shell station owner in San Francisco who jacked up his gas prices to protest what he considered Shell putting the squeeze on his profits. On his last day of owning the station, Oyster pulled his other card: he dropped the price of gas to $2.99 -- perhaps the lowest price in the entire Bay area. Oyster said he was going to pump at that price until he ran out of the 6,000 gallons in his tanks, and our tipster said there were cars lined up around the block. We don't imagine he had to wait too long for 'empty' to come. Today he hands the keys back over to Shell, and the saga comes to a close.

But remember a time -- not so long ago! -- when $2.99 for a gallon of gas was considered highway robbery?

Thanks for the tip, Patrick!

[Source: SF Gate]

 

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Ford's Wixom plant heads to the great assembly line in the sky

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The "Way Forward" has claimed its latest victim, this time in the form of the 50-year-old Wixom plant in Michigan. The production center, tasked with building Lincolns since 1957, has built its final White Chocolate Town Car destined for a customer in Washington D.C.

However, the Town Car hasn't met its demise yet. Production will continue at the St. Thomas plant in Ontario, Canada, along side its Panther brethren, the Crown Victoria and the Grand Marquis.

Wixom was housed production in the recent past for the Lincoln LS, Continental and Ford Thunderbird. Even Ford's ultimate halo car, the GT, received its finishing touches at Wixom.

[Source: Ford]

Continue reading Ford's Wixom plant heads to the great assembly line in the sky

 

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By The Numbers: May 2007

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General Motors continues its turnaround by posting a 4.7% increase in sales last month versus last year, bolstered mostly by the 68.6% increase at Saturn and a strong showing from GMC (8.6%) and Pontiac (13.7%). Likewise, Toyota contiues its positive growth with an increase of 10.9% for the brand and 9.7% for the company including Lexus. The gain by Toyota put it ahead of Ford as the No. 2 best-selling automaker in the U.S. last month. Ford, meanwhile, saw sales dip by 10.4%, which it claims is due to an ongoing effort to reduce fleet sales. It claims retail sales were nearly flat, helped by the Edge, new Escape and Expedition, among others. The Chrysler Group, meanwhile, remained flat, despite the monster effort by Jeep, which saw sales of the Wrangler increase by 106%!

The rest of the industry's performance by brand can be found after the jump.

Biggest Winner
Saturn 68.6% at 26,905 (05/06: 15,347)

Biggest Loser
Jaguar -44.1% at 1,379 (05/06: 2,374)

COMPANIES
BMW Group 4.5% at 30,819 (05/06: 28,360)
Chrysler Group 0.2% at 199,393 (05/06: 191,261)
Ford Motor Co -10.4% at 259,470 (05/06: 278,546)
General Motors 4.7% at 375,682 (05/06: 345,157)
Honda America -1.4% at 145,367 (05/06: 141,810)
Nissan North America 3.2% at 93,062 (05/06: 86,667)
Toyota Motor Co. 9.7% at 269,023 (05/06: 235,708)

DISCLAIMER: All percentages represent the change in the Daily Average Sales Rate. There were 26 selling days in May 2007 versus 25 selling days in May 2006. As such, an automaker that sold more vehicles last month than the year prior did not necessarily show a positive increase.

Continue reading By The Numbers: May 2007

 

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Winding Road invents "Speed per Dollar" index

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click image above to enlarge

The good boffins at Winding Road have come up with a metric called Speed per Dollar (SpD). Its aim is to put straight-line vehicle performance into an easy-to-understand financial perspective. In light of the monetary component, the best and worst SpD ratings among the sample cars tested aren't entirely surprising: Ariel Atom at the top, Bugatti Veyron at the bottom. Supercars -- and their super prices -- would of course fare poorly. However the Mazdaspeed 3, with "just" 263 hp, climbs up the charts to score second place. As Winding Road admits, the chart doesn't take handling (or luxury or Making the Jones' Jealous) into account. But Autobloggers (and Winding Roaders, we're sure) are hugely interested in price-for-performance, and this is a novel new way to compare speedsters. Let the calculations, comparisons, and commentary begin.

[Source: Winding Road]

 

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British Gumballers forgiven by victims' family

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You didn't think the Gumball saga was finished, did you? The latest turn: Nick Morley has been completely absolved of responsibility by the family of the Macedonian couple that was killed in a car accident in this year's rally. Morley was the one was was driving the Techart 911 at the time of the 2-car, twin-fatality crash in Macedonia.

We're not conspiracy theorists, but Macedonians are either the most forgiving people on the planet, or the fix is in. The family not only forgave Morley, but retracted their plans to seek compensation of £100,000, asked that Morley be released from custody and allowed to return to Britain, and tacitly blamed Vladimir, the driver of the Golf, for the accident by saying "It was just fate that forced Vladimir to drive wrongly." Morley, for his part, took no responsibility, saying: he was only going 60 kph, he obeyed all laws, it was the other driver's fault, he tried to help the couple, he only got in the other car and left because people started shouting at him, and he planned on stopping at the border to report the accident. Oh, and the Porsche wasn't even his. And he's not rich. And he doesn't know why the media is saying that, because he's "just a simple property developer." And he doesn't feel guilty, but he does "feel regret for the victims."

It turns out, however, that Morley's brother Oliver actually is rich, and has spoken with the family, but there's been no comment on what transpired. Hmmm...

[Source: Daily Mail]

 

[via] Autoblog

BMW updates and expansions: M5 gets more oomph, new diesels on their way

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BMW seems to be matching pace with Audi in its pursuit of becoming all things to all people. We know that a new compact crossover is in the works, along with a supercar to best its cross-town rivals, and the soon-to-be-U.S.-bound 1-series will be released in both coupe and convertible forms.

But BMW isn't letting its core products rot on the vine. They'll be upgrading their European oilburning offerings with a new 2-liter diesel, set to find its way under the hood of the 123d, while the X5 will get a 3-liter diesel, producing 286 HP and 580 Nm of torque.

In an effort to combat the upcoming RS6, BMW also plans to revamp the M5 with a revised version of the 5-liter V10 that should bump horsepower into the 520 to 530 realm. Along with the engine upgrades, expect to see several interior upgrades, including a new heads-up display system.

[Source: Motor Authority]

 

[via] Autoblog

Google Street View finds one fugly Buick and more

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Wasting time scouring Google Maps with the company's new Street View feature has become our new favorite hobby. Earlier today we showed you one of the vehicles that's used to take the street level pictures. It turns out these vehicles capture some amazing things, and since they're on the ground rather than orbiting the earth, we can actually make out some cool stuff in the pics.

For instance, some mom must be so proud that her son parks his modified Buick Regal right in front of the house for all to see. He probably leaves the doors unlocked, because there's little chance anyone would approach that paint job voluntarily.

Thanks to a commenter, we found a site that's collecting all of the interesting photos the Street View cars find, and some of them are, of course, auto related. Take, for instance, the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine van that was snapped in a Palo Alto, CA parking lot. Or how about the license plate-less Mercedes-Benz of Steve Jobs? Then there are some incriminating photos that could get the Street View in trouble with their bosses. This one caught them in the drive thruhanging out at McDonalds, and this pic shows them amidst a flow of traffic that's exceeding the posted speed limit.

If you find something interesting related to autos while using Google Maps' new Street View feature, make sure to hit the Tip button above and send us the link.

Thanks to anonymous for the tip! (You know who you are)

 

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