Europe considering ban of cars capable of more than 101 mph

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Autocar is reporting that the European Parlaiment will consider a proposal this fall to ban all cars capable of reaching speeds over 101 mph. The proposal can be traced back to a man named Chris Davies, a Liberal Democrat Member of the European Parlaiment for the North West of England. Davies argues (try not to laugh while reading his words) that "between 1994 and 2004 the power of new cars went up by 28 per cent, making them a lot heavier, and so increasing the amount of CO2 they put out, even though no country raised its speed limit to allow cars to use this increased power."

The logic is so flawed here, we don't know where to begin. According to Davies, giving a car more power makes it heavier, thus increasing the amount of CO2 it emits. First of all, cars are heavier these days primarily because most developed nations, Europe and the United States included, have federally mandated that cars be made safer, and to achieve this, manufacturers have had to design new safety systems that add weight to cars. Things like airbags, crumple zones, side-impact bars, and the like are the primary reason cars have gotten heavier. While enlarging the displacement of an engine, switching from four to six cylinders or adding a supercharger could make a car heavier while giving it more oomph, more power for its own sake is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for a car gaining weight.

[Source: Autocar]

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[via] Autoblog

Japan: Nissan March gets facelifted

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Nissan March 15SR-A
Click image for gallery of the updated Nissan march

On Tuesday, Nissan released a facelifted version of its Japanese-market March. One can only assume that these changes will ultimately be seen in Europe as well in the form of an updated Micra, but we'll just have to wait and see how that pans out. Anyway, the freshened March gets new headlamps, revised grilles, and an available front bumper treatment that'll see wider use as standard equipment across the line. Other changes include the implementation of Nissan's I-Key, some new paint colors, a new HDD Navi model and a Cacao-colored interior option.

Also updated are the odd-looking March Bolero and the MINI-aping (look at the grille) March Rafeet. The kitted, more aggressive-looking SR models are pretty cool, too. In addition to the March facelift, Nissan's introducing the Micra C+C in Japan for the first time. For whatever reason, it retains its Euro-market name after making the trip to Japan.

More info can be found in the press releases after the jump.

[Source: Nissan]

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Another take on the MINI SUV

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Just as MINI is ramping up to launch the Clubman wagon in addition to its current lineup for 2008, rumors are flying about a possible MINI compact sport utility vehicle, reportedly inspired by the Austin Ant and MINI Moke, dunebuggy-ish off-roaders originally designed for the British military. BMW's California DesignWorks studio is apparently already working on a design, and production would likely take place in the U.S. at BMW's Spartanburg plant. It would include BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive and rumor has it that the CUV would actually be based on the same platform as the BMW 1-Series.

Thanks to the Spartanburg plant's flexible manufacturing system, the CUV would be right at home next to the BMW X5 and Z4 roadster models, odd as that may sound.

Click through to the link to see a concept drawing of the MINI SUV and some spy photos of the Clubman.

[Source: World Car Fans]

 

[via] Autoblog

VIDEO: How many idiots does it take to crash a Ferrari? Usually only one

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Have you ever noticed that the vast majority of high-profile Ferrari crashes involve only one person? It's almost as if Enzo designed his Ferraris to be high performance Darwin machines. Well folks, we have yet another Ferrari mishap, this one taking place during some sort of Ferrari parade, and someone caught it on tape. Luckily, this wasn't a high-impact crash and it's likely that nobody was injured, but it sure looks like the driver had absolutely no idea what he or she was doing. The driver of the Italian supercar needed only to turn left and drive slowly down the street, but the slightest punch of the accelerator lead to oversteer and an expensive fender bender. Somewhere out there, Enzo is shaking his head and muttering "Stupido!". Now we know why there's an 18-month waiting list for a Ferrari and you can get a gun after sitting on your hands for 30 days. Hit the jump to check out the video.

Continue reading VIDEO: How many idiots does it take to crash a Ferrari? Usually only one

 

[via] Autoblog

Spy Shots: 2009 Ford Fiesta on U.S. soil

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click on image above to view both spy shots of the 2009 Ford Fiesta

KGP photographers are the first to have caught the 2009 Ford Fiesta testing on American soil. These shots give us, and many Europeans, our first look at the sub-Focus car that will be sold in both Europe and the U.S. As we learned back in March when Ford announced the new European Fiesta would also be sold in the U.S., the two cars will be virtually identical save for a little longer nose on the U.S. version to meet our own crash safety standards. Based on the same platform as the Mazda2, the new Fiesta will wear a more conventional look that will likely please the masses more than the Mazda's swoopy design. Though the camo does its best confuse the corneas, we can definitely make out pronounced wheel arches on the car, and a more typical set of rear taillamps that don't climb up the C-pillar like on the Focus. While rear overhang is virtually absent, the nose on this test mule does project far out in front of the lead wheels, which implies that Ford may be far along in making the design and engineering tweaks necessary to sell the Fiesta in the U.S. While there's no clear shot of the Fiesta's face this time, one can clearly see the influence of Ford of Europe's design language in the shape of the headlights and the grille. Our sources say we'll get no three-bar grille, as the Fiesta marks the first official comingling of Ford's Red, White and Bold (U.S.) and Kinetic (Europe) design themes in the same market. Though the Fiesta isn't expected to go on sale until at least late next year as a 2009 model, we want to know if you think it will be worth the wait.

[Photos: KGP Photography - do not republish]

 

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Day 16: Enter 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

Think of this post just like the alarm clock next to your bed. Every day it starts buzzing around this time to remind you to enter the Autoblog Relaunch Celebration Sweepstakes featuring the All-New Dodge Nitro R/T. Sure, it's a little annoying, but if it keeps you entering every day, then it'll be worth it when the keys are in your hand.

Click here to enter.

Today we thank 4wheelsblog and ZCars for helping us promote the Sweepstakes.

If you post about the Autoblog Nitro Sweepstakes on your own website or add a permanet banner (available after the jump), please make sure you link it here and drop us a line at abresearch at gmail dot com to let us know so we can include your site in the list below.

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Barcelona Motor Show: GM unveils Opel Corsa GSi

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Click image for photo gallery

The Barcelona Motor Show kicks off today, and GM will use the Spanish venue to show off its new Opel Corsa GSi (its UK twin, the Vauxhall Corsa SRi, has also been announced). Positioned below the range-topping Corsa OPC, the GSi gets a detuned version of the OPC's 1.6L 192-horsepower turbo four In GSi guise, the little hatch is good for 150 horsepower. That'll still be enough to let it do 0-62 in 8.1 seconds and top out at 130 mph, all while pulling down nearly 30 mpg (US) in the combined cycle.

In the UK, the Vauxhall Corsa SRi will also be available with 1.7L CDTi diesel, which will drop the acceleration time to 9.1 seconds and increase fuel economy to over 49 mpg US.

Available in 3-door and 5-door variants, the Corsa GSi gets sporty bodywork, an attractive set of 17" five-spoke wheels, and two-tone seats. It goes on sale in Europe this September. We'll have to wait for the next-gen Corsa to arrive, which will be sold here as a Saturn.

[Source: GM]

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Navistar sues Ford (again) regarding upcoming F-150 diesel engine

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Wow, talk about a strained relationship! With so much money passing hands between Ford and Navistar, you might think they would find a way to negotiate a deal regarding their diesel engine partnership(s). You would be right, assuming you think that starting yet another lawsuit is a way to patch things up. That's right... another lawsuit. This one is still about diesel truck engines, but instead of the large 6.4 liter Power Stroke, this one cites a smaller 4.4-liter diesel engine slated for the F-150 truck in 2009 or 2010. Navistar has been Ford's long-time supplier of diesel engines that carry the "Power Stroke" moniker for Ford, and Navistar is claiming that if Ford goes to market with the 4.4-liter engine, it would constitute a breach of contract. At this point, it seems unclear whether Navistar is claiming to have designed the engine in question, or if it believes it had a contract to do so, but either way, things could get even messier between the two companies.

[Source: Automotive News (sub. req'd) via AutoblogGreen]

Continue reading Navistar sues Ford (again) regarding upcoming F-150 diesel engine

 

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Wild Ride: Semi pushes wheelchair-bound man 50mph down highway

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rig grilleIt could have been a horrible tragedy, but at the end of it all, no one was injured, and there were no hard feelings, either. Michigan State Police were skeptical when they started receiving calls saying that a big rig was pushing a wheelchair down the Red Arrow Highway in Paw Paw, MI, but when said calls didn't abate, they headed out to investigate.

The rig was found in front of a local trucking company and to everyone's shock, there was a wheelchair attached to the front. With a man in it, no less. The occupant was unharmed, and the astonished truck driver had no idea he was even there. Apparently, the wheelchair was in the process of crossing the road in front of the truck. Too low for the driver to see, it was driven into. Miraculously, the chair was positioned in such a way that the handles lodged in the rig's grille and it wound up facing forward. Think about it -- it could have just as easily been knocked over and then run over -- a nightmare scenario for all parties involved.

Instead, the worst thing that happened was that the man in the wheelchair apparently spilled the soda pop he was drinking during his high-speed trip. Of the experience, he told authorities, "It was quite a ride."

Friends, that's today's candidate for understatement of the year.

[Source: South Bend Tribune]

 

[via] Autoblog

V8 for '08: Chevy Colorado engine lineup expanding

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2007 Chevy Colorado

The addition of GM's 5.3L V8 to the HUMMER H3 Alpha for 2008 has resulted in some trickle-down goodness for the SUV's pickup truck platform-mate, the Chevy Colorado. PickupTruck.com is reporting that the smaller Chevy truck will indeed receive the same infusion of V8 power in 2008. We've driven both the Silverado and the GMC Sierra with that engine, and we liked it a lot in the big trucks. Imagining it in the Colorado has grins spreading across our faces, as it will certainly add a good amount of pop, and with the 5.3's cylinder deactivation system, it should also be respectable at the pump, considering it'll have a lot less truck to move around than with the GMT900.

The addition of the 295-horse V8 will catapult the Colorado to the top of the heap in the midsize pickup segment in terms of power, edging the new Dodge Dakota (290 hp), and putting it well beyond the Toyota Tacoma and Ford Ranger (numbers 1 & 2 respectively on the sales charts). GM's been teasing everyone with V8-powered small concept pickups for a while now, and though it won't officially confirm or deny the report (a spokesman only says, "stay tuned"), it sure looks like the General's finally decided to give us the real thing. Good.

[Source: PickupTruck.com]

 

[via] Autoblog

Autoblog Podcast #68

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Getting back in the groove, we bring you Autoblog Podcast #68. Starting us off is the battle of the inside sources, where we debate which GM mole is correct about the CTS-V. One rumor has the hottest little Caddy getting the Blue Devil's 600-horsepower 6.0L V8. The competing theory is that there'll be a 6.2L V8 with mid-500 horsepower, not the Blue Devil's mill. Either way, it will add up to M5 punch in an M3-sized wrapper. GM has more RWD goodies for us, as word of its Alpha platform replacing Epsilon cars like the G6, and Cadillac BLS replacement, which may come here, has us all atwitter. Our last bit of GM fodder is the passing of the Cobalt SS Supercharged. It was an entertaining car; but even though the supercharged Cobalt goes away, the un-muscled SS remains. We hope that GM's pledge to reinvigorate the SS badge so that it actually means something will get in gear soon.

We move on from GM to Chrysler and the Cerberus sale. Wolfgang Berhnardt is said to be an integral consultant to the deal, and he's looking for a homestead in the Detroit area as well as poking around the offices and design studio. Seems like Bernhardt is waiting for his noncompete with VW to expire while quietly orchestrating a turn of the Pentastar vessel. We detour into how fitting a Star Wars-themed Chrysler press conference would be (c'mon, you wouldn't really be surprised, would you?) before wrapping up with Hyundai's confidence-inspiring extension of its 10-year/100,000 mile warranty to Certified Pre Owned Vehicles up to five years old. They must feel pretty certain that their cars will hold up, as the warranty means they could possibly cover some powertrains for 15 years. That's it - 37 minutes of heaven!

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VW tosses two GTIs in the 'Ring for 24-hour enduro race

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Two factory-built GTIs will mark Volkswagen's return to the 24-hours at Nürburgring this week. The cars are modified production vehicles with 300 hp under their hoods. They'll be helping VW usher in the newish R-Line banner, using some of the distinctive parts found on models like the Golf R32 and Passat R36. Volkswagen has been testing the GTIs quite a bit to get them ready for the race, including a 4-hour stint around the Green Hell last month.

The original GTI was launched in 1976, but it wasn't until 20 years later that Volkswagen started using a factory team to test its street technology in the 24-hour enduro. And this year they get to test the 2.0 L TFSI motor and six-speed DSG gearbox, which sounds like it could be a lot of fun around that Behemoth. Piloting the GTIs will be an all-star cast of VW employees, racers and VW-affiliated personalities. Look for Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg (management board), Bernd Ostmann (auto motor und sport editor), Dieter Depping and François Verbist (Volkswagen Dakar racers) in the 101 car. The number 111 GTI will be driven by Polo Cup winners René Rast and Jimmy Johansson, Lupo Cup competitor and Seat Cup champion, Florian Gruber, and also Dieter Depping, who will do double duty during the race driving both cars.

Full, lengthy press release available after the jump.

[Source: Volkswagen]

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Fiat prepping Grande Punto Brutale based on Super 2000 rally car

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Click image for a gallery of the Fiat Grande Punto Super 2000 car


We like Super 2000 rally cars, as they demonstrate just how much you can do with a normally-aspirated 2.0L engine. Fiat's Grand Punto Rally is built to S2K specs and it certainly delivers the goods: 270 horsepower at 8,250 rpm, to be exact.

Lancia Delta IntegraleNow comes word from Britain's 4Car that the Italian automaker is readying a limited-run (250 units) special road car based on the Super 2000 called the Grand Punto Brutale, in what's said to be a nod to the Lancia Delta Integrale (shown at right).

"Based on" is an apt description, because 4Car reports that the Brutale will be turbocharged, which is a no-no in Super 2000. We're guessing the real similarity will be in the looks department, as the Brutale will apparently get the S2K car's bodywork and a stripped-down, racy interior. It'll also have AWD, just like the rally car. Sounds cool. Too bad we'll never see it here.

Follow the jump for a vid of the Grand Punto Super 2000 car in action, as well as a breakdown of the racer's tech specs.

[Source: 4Car]

Continue reading Fiat prepping Grande Punto Brutale based on Super 2000 rally car

 

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Whaa? Big 3 wins big in Ward's Interior of the Year Awards

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2007 Saturn Aura XR

When did the day come that interiors designed by our own domestic automakers were being celebrated as the best in the biz? After decades of dull designs, cheap materials and poor fit and finish, that day would be today. Ward's Auto has released the results of its 2007 Interior of the Year Competition, in which both its own editors and members of the auto industry at large choose the best inner sanctums in seven vehicle classes ranging from Economy-Priced Car to Premium-Priced Truck. Shocker: Domestics cleaned up, being awarded 11 out of 14 class awards between the editors' choices and the popular vote (and that's not including the Volvo S80's editor award for Premium-Priced Car). The Saturn Aura and Chevy Silverado, in particular, were singled out for their fine furnishings by both judging bodies in their respective classes, just like they were in the North American Car and Truck of the Year Awards last January.

Ward's also awarded prized for Best Brand Expression to the Jeep Wrangler, Best Interior Trim to the Infiniti G35, Best Cup Holder to the Chrysler Sebring and Best Overall Comfort to the Lexus LS 460L. Check out all the award winners after the jump, and pontificate on the state of affairs that led us to this day when domestic interiors are getting props aplenty.

[Source: The Auto Channel]

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Steve Saleen to bring Chinese cars to U.S.

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Not that it's much of a surprise, but It didn't take long for Steve Saleen to find a new job. Less than a month after leaving his eponymous specialty manufacturing company, AutoWeek is reporting that Steve has landed a new gig. The somewhat surprising part is that he is the new CEO of ZX Automobile Company of North America (ZXNA). ZXNA is a subsidiary of China America Cooperative Automotive (Chamco), and the New Jersey company has started the process of bringing Chinese vehicles into the States.

ZXNA plans to bring two Chinese models to these shores later this year, a pickup truck and an SUV that will probably be sold in Mexico at first because they don't currently meet U.S. emissions and safety standards. Their pricing will start at around $13,000. ZXNA is trying to establish a network of 150 U.S. dealers, though, and it's at 20% of that goal so far. Eventually the company plans to build an assembly plant in Baja, Mexico that will build those vehicles intended for sale in the United States. They've set a goal of 30,000 vehicles a year by 2009, which is about four times what they produce currently. There's no word on whether the Chinese vehicles will get the trademark Saleen slats, fins and rockers, but we doubt the bumpers will accommodate a serialized production number of up-to five digits.

[Source: AutoWeek]

 

[via] Autoblog

Ruh-Roh: Carbon fiber in short supply

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Looks like it might take a few extra shifts of flipping burgers to save up for that carbon fiber hood you've had your eye on, bucko. USA Today is reporting that carbon fiber demand has gone way up recently, causing prices to quadruple in some cases. They blame the price surge on demand for new jetliners, like Boeing's 787 and its primary rival, the Airbus A350, which use significant amounts of CF, particularly for their wings. The cost of carbon fiber has jumped from $5 a pound just a few years ago, to a whopping $20 a pound today. We kind of figured it was sold by the yard rather than by the pound, but that's neither here nor there. To cope with the increased demand, carbon fiber manufacturers are adding production capacity, but that will take time. And in the meantime we'll have to keep paying more.

To put this price increase in perspective, they point out how specialty manufacturer Saleen had to raise the price of its S7 supercar by $25,000 for 2007. That might not seem like a big jump on a car that already retails for $580,000, but that increase alone could get you a Mazdaspeed3. And the tuner crowd could be especially hard hit, with costs more than doubling for products like hoods, mirrors, spoilers, and trim. Of course, faux fiber will probably be even more popular than ever as a result, which is the dark side to this story. It's probably the extra time to get their carbon fix more than the extra money it costs to buy that will effect most shoppers, however. Retailers are saying some product delivery times are up 4-6 weeks as a result of the extra demand.

[Source: USA Today via Motor Authority]

 

[via] Autoblog

Bring back the 240! Nissan developing new sports coupe, redesigned 350Z

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For some time now, Nissan has been lacking in the entry-level sports car segment both here and abroad. The 350Z and Skyline/G35 have proven successful, but only to those able to afford the cost of entry, and although the upcoming GTR will redefine the iconic marque, its price tag will put it out of reach for the average enthusiast. Sure, the new SE-R is something, but it's neither sporty, a coupe, or - more importantly - rear-wheel drive.

According to Autocar, Nissan is actively developing a new sports coupe, drawing inspiration from the Urge concept that debuted at the North American International Auto Show in 2006. Since mechanical specifics are nil, the powertrain is open to speculation, and speculate we will. Ideally, we'd like to see a turbocharged version of the SE-R Spec-V's QR25DE sending power to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual (Nissan 250 anyone?).

The article also sheds some light on the next generation of the 350Z, which will share its profile with the current car, but will receive a variety of design tweaks to smooth out some of the more awkward elements (read: door handles, tailgate, etc.). The possibility of swapping out the current VQ35 V6 for the new VQ37VHR should also be on the table, effectively changing the name from 350Z to 370Z. Viva la evolution!

[Source: Autocar via Motor Authority]

 

[via] Autoblog

Farboud changes its name to Farbio

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Remember the name Farboud? That GTS supercar maker from the UK? We barely did either, but it's kind of a moot point now anyhow. You can go ahead and forget it again. Instead, think Farbio. No, not the romance novel cover model - slash - "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" spokesman. It's Farbio, with an "R" in there. The former Farboud Sports Cars has become Farbio Sports Cars. The change was made because GTS designer and current minority shareholder, Arash Farboud, has another company in the supercar game and there still seems to be a lot of confusion about the difference between the two. And so, the two companies decided to distance themselves a bit for clarity sake. Each has a supercar getting ready for release, but the two cars are very different.

The Farboud Farbio GTS is perhaps best known to U.S. enthusiasts via Project Gotham Racing 3 on the Xbox 360. Looking something like the lovechild between a Carrera GT, Exige and Koenigsegg ménage a trois, the GTS is powered by a Cosworth-tuned Ford V6, which produces 275 hp in naturally aspirated form, or 375 with the optional supercharger fitted. The GTS pricing hasn't been confirmed, but we do have word that U.S. sales are in the cards. The GTS fits in between, say, a Lotus Exige and a Noble M400 in size and power. Should be exciting. Arash, on the other hand, is the company producing the Arash AF10. That's the carbon fiber supercar powered the 7.0-liter Corvette Z06 engine hooked up to a six-speed Graziano transmission and capable of 200+ mph. Should be crystal clear now, right?

Full press release below the fold.

[Source: Farbio]

Continue reading Farboud changes its name to Farbio

 

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eBay Find of the Day: Eagle Premier, meet bandsaw...

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click above image to view more angles of this cut-in-half Eagle Premier

We admitted our affection for the underappreciated Eagle Premier a while back, but seeing one irreparably sawed in half still makes us grin. This car was given its unorthodox chop job by California's Premiere Studio Rentals as preparation for a starring role in a TV commercial. The spot, called "In Half", promotes Dunkin Donuts new frozen confection disguised as an "energy drink," as if that softens the massive caloric blow to your system. You'd need a large living room to house this conversation piece, and TV props are never as pretty in person as they are on screen, so we'd expect a level of undesireable rattiness to this piece, especially after shooting. It would be a cool attention-getter for a body shop or something, though an even better demonstration of their skills would be stitching the sedan back together so the julienne slice was invisible. Somehow, we don't see reassembly happening. Get your bids in, though - currently, it's at $50 with 6 days left.

Check out the commercial in which this half off Eagle Premier stars after the jump.

Thanks for the tip, Mike!

[Souce: eBay]

Continue reading eBay Find of the Day: Eagle Premier, meet bandsaw...

 

[via] Autoblog

VIDEO: The Making of Grand Prix

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With the recent highly-anticipated announcement of the DVD release for "Grand Prix", fans have had reason to rejoice. After a petition-signing campaign, Warner Home Video made the right call and decided to release this classic movie on the old digital video disc format. A two-disc, 40th anniversary special edition of John Frankenheimer's Academy Award-winning movie is now scheduled for a U.S. release on July 11.

Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, 16x9 widescreen format, and several special feature documentaries will allow viewers to experience this great movie like never before. But if you just can't wait another month, we have a new treat for you, via YouTube. A partial behind-the-scenes look at the making of the Monaco portion of the film is available after the jump. The description says it all: "This is Monaco in the mid 60s. The Making of the John Frankenheimer film 'Grand Prix' on Monaco. Sweet glamour of an era that will never be the same." Click through to see the whole 12-minute clip. Keep an eye out for the GT40 camera car!

[Source: YouTube]

Continue reading VIDEO: The Making of Grand Prix

 

[via] Autoblog

Rendered Speculation: Chevy/Opel cute 'ute

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T2X concept from the 2005 Seoul Motor Show

So far, General Motors has been taking a measured approach with crossover vehicles. The General has recently rolled out the seven-to-eight-seat Lambda-based Saturn Outlook, GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave to join its smaller Chevy Equinox, Pontiac Torrent and Saturn VUE. Now we're hearing from the folks over at Motor Authority that an even smaller CUV based off of the Opel Corsa could soon be sold at your local Chevy dealer.

European Opels are currently being brought into the US as re-badged and good-looking Saturns, but Chevy's status as the General's volume brand may garner it some of the styling and handling benefits of GM's Euro marque. GM already unveiled the T2X concept in Korea, showing that it has the design resources to make good-looking small CUVs, and some of those styling cues are destined to be used on an Opel Corsa-based CUV, reports Motor Authority. The cute 'ute is rumored to hit our shores as a 2010 model wearing a Bow Tie badge instead of the Saturn stamp. The Chevy version of this small crossover will undoubtedly receive different powertrains than what's offered overseas, and we'd imagine that a mild hybrid mated to a fuel-efficient four-cylinder would result in above average gas mileage.

[Source: Motor Authority]

 

[via] Autoblog