Just because a car is old and a classic that doesn't mean it's any good

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Old classic cars can fetch a lot of money at auctions and most have a lot more style and character than modern cars. However, that style often comes at the price of driveability. Modern electronic engine controls have eliminated such quaint features as manual chokes, vapor lock, flooded carburetors, dysfunctional drum brakes and more.

San Francisco writer Paul Boutin tells the tale of living with a 1963 Studebaker Avanti coupe that he and his wife decided to use as their sole car in place of more recent sedans. The Avanti certainly has style and all those other aforementioned features of old cars, but basic reliability is in desperately short supply. If you're going to have such a car, it would probably be wise to have a solid backup unless you have access to good public transit.

[Source: Slate]

 

[via] Autoblog

Ripsaw MS1: Fastest two-track vehicle on terra firma?

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This is the Ripsaw MS1, a scratch-built tracked vehicle created by Howe & Howe productions. It's very fast -- its 650-horsepower blown 427 CID V8 rockets it from 0-50 in 3.5 seconds and lets it run up to 80 mph. It's also very agile, sporting a suspension with fourteen inches of travel that lets it handle bumpy terrain with aplomb. In fact, the Howe & Howe guys say it's the fastest tracked vehicle anywhere. We can't verify that, but based on the video embedded after the jump, it's clear that the Ripsaw does indeed have some serious giddyup. Lastly, based on the photo above, it can probably be made to look like a Cobra H.I.S.S. tank with a some extra effort, increasing its awesome factor by an order of magnitude. Who do we write the check out to?

Follow the jump to see it in action!

[Source: Howe & Howe Productions via Dieselstation]

Continue reading Ripsaw MS1: Fastest two-track vehicle on terra firma?

 

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VIDEO: Customer calls out Service Rep. on bogus $6,500 estimate

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The vast majority of service technicians are honorable, hard-working folks. It's the rotten few that will rake you over the coals when given the chance, giving the entire profession a bad name. Wise Bread, a personal finance website, tells of a Mercedes-Benz owner who seems to have encountered one of the latter. The gentleman in question had a moonroof that was on the fritz, so he took it in for service. The service writer and "certified" technician appear to have teamed up to deem the powered roof completely broken, and gave an estimate of $6,500 for repairs. Shocked by the guesstimate, the man went out for a second opinion. The second tech looked over the problem, found a pebble in the roof tracking, and removed it with a pair of tweezers. Total repair cost? $143 (most service departments charge you two hours labor just to walk through the door).

What happens next is both cool and funny. The disgruntled owner went back to the dealership with a hidden camera to show just how wrong this original diagnosis was. The resulting seven-minute video, while poor on audio, is quite amusing nonetheless. Check it out after the jump, and while you're over there, tell us in the comments about some of your most memorable trips to the service department.

Thanks for the tip, Wilson!

[Source: Wise Bread]

Continue reading VIDEO: Customer calls out Service Rep. on bogus $6,500 estimate

 

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STARTECH announces new Jeep Wrangler accessories

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Click for photo gallery

Startech, the division of Brabus that tunes and accessorizes Chrysler Group vehicles, has now turned its attention to the Jeep Wrangler. European Jeep drivers can now upgrade the Jeep's appearance with set of the firm's good-looking Monostar alloy five-spoke wheels. Tubular steel rocker panel guards will also be offered for both the standard Wrangler and the longer Unlimited (shown), and a chrome-rimmed spare-tire cover can be added to dress up the rear. Overall, the exterior accessories are tasteful and subtle -- so much so that apart from the wheels, you miss them at first glance.

Performance upgrades aren't ready yet, but they're coming. A tuning kit for the 2.8L CRD engine and a sport exhaust are said to be on the way. Finally, Brabus/Startech can do just about anything to upgrade vehicle interiors, and the Jeep is no exception. From a new steering wheel to a full leather interior (silly for a Wrangler, if you ask us), the only limiting factor is likely to be the customer's budget. Startech's press release is pasted after the jump. Hopefully, the accessories will be available through Brabus' US outlets as well.

[Source: Startech]

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Shelby GT500 Super Snake snagged in the wild

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Click image for photo gallery

The massively-powerful Shelby GT500 Super Snake isn't going to officially debut until later this weekend at the Mid-America Ford Performance and Shelby Meet, but that hasn't stopped Mustang Evolution from snagging and posting the first real shots of the ride ahead of its big reveal. Its GT500KR looks are further augmented with Super Snake badging and blacked-out head and taillamps -- the whole package looks just menacing. Appropriate, when you consider it'll be available with up to 725 supercharged horses underhood. Daddy wants a pony for Father's Day...

[Source: Mustang Evolution]

 

[via] Autoblog

Autoblog: So fresh and so clean

We'd like to direct your attention above the fold (that means the top of the page) where you can now get a good look at what the new Autoblog design is supposed to look like. We haven't seen it ourselves since before the Sweepstakes, and its true awesomeness was somewhat obscured by the promotional banners for the Sweeps. One addition, or rather, omission, that we didn't know was coming is the removal of the Google AdSense ads below our header. We point this out because, honestly, we've never seen our content so far up the page before, and it looks great.

We also wanted to let you know that we've read every suggestion on how to improve the site's design that you all have sent us, and responded to as many as we could. Yes, the drop down categories are No. 1 on our list of things to fix, and we're considering making a click required to drop them down. Turns out that's easier said than done, but we're working on it. We've also improved the comments by numbering them again (a frequently called for addition), though at the same time we made it so that they're truly threaded, which means if you reply to someone's comment, your comment will appear indented directly underneath the one you're replying to. It's much easier to follow a conversation that way.

We are so not done with tweaks, as plans are also in the works to make the galleries more user friendly and require less clicks to navigate. A few more additions are in the pipeline, and we'll bring them to you're attention as they come online. Thanks for reading Autoblog!

 

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Autoblog's (last-minute) Father's Day gift-buying guide

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Oh crap! We just realized this Sunday is Father's Day and we don't have a gift for dear old Dad. Again. Never fear! Autoblog's staffers been in this spot before, so just follow our lead. Oh, and we're gonna assume that if you're car-crazed enough to be looking for gift ideas here, then your pops probably likes cars too.

Homemade tire tread wallet - $0
The folks at Make Magazine are like all journalists who love their dads. Broke. So they offer this guide from Instructables on how to make your dad his very own wallet from a bike tire, though you could probably substitute any tire with some ingenuity. Now how cool is that? They even show you how to install a "drop alarm" on the wallet in case it falls out of your dad's pocket. Or if, we're guessing, he throws it away and you want to fish it out of the trash. Just like that tie rack you made him in seventh grade. If he's not a car guy (what?!), there are also instructions for wallets made of duct tape, or a computer keyboard or an Altoids tin.

However, if you have a few dollars to spend, check the jump for some great Father's Day gift ideas before it's too late.

Continue reading Autoblog's (last-minute) Father's Day gift-buying guide

 

[via] Autoblog

VIDEO: Supercar road test

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The lads at Autocar magazine really do have one of the best jobs in the world. They recently put together a "test" comparing some of the fastest cars in the world, including the Bugatti Veyron. Other cars include the brand new Lambo Gallardo Superleggera, Audi R8, Porsche 911 GT3 RS, and the Aston Martin DB9 with Sports Pack.

While this video isn't a review per se, you do get an idea of the different personalities of each car and some flaws. If nothing else, watch it for the shots of a DB9 drifting through a corner or hearing the bark of the 530hp V10 engine in the Gallardo.

[Souce: YouTube via German Car Scene]

Continue reading VIDEO: Supercar road test

 

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Beginning of the end for ICEs, GM moves 500 FC engineers to production group

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The end is nigh for the internal combustion engine at General Motors...eventually. Today, GM is taking a huge step in that direction by reassigning most of its fuel cell engineers and scientists from the research and development group to various production engineering groups.

Of the close to 700 staff that have been developing fuel cell technology at GM's Honeoye Falls, N.Y. research facility, more than 400 will now report to Powertrain to work on bringing GM's latest generation fuel cell stack to production readiness. Another 100 engineers will now work in the global product development team to work on vehicle integration, while the rest will stay in the research group.

[Source: General Motors via AutoblogGreen]

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Spy Shots: Best pics yet of Ford's future Holden fighters

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Seemingly overnight the Australian market has become the holy grail for a pair of U.S. auto giants. That's because both General Motors and Ford are considering taking advantage of rear-wheel drive platforms that have prospered on the island continent by exporting them to new markets, including the U.S. GM, of course, has plans to bring its RWD Zeta platform to the States and use it to underpin the new Chevy Camaro, Pontiac G8 and a few other cars that have yet to get the final go-ahead. Ford, meanwhile, is a little behind in that its next generation RWD Falcon sedan has yet to debut. CarAdvice.com.au, however, has been furiously snapping prototypes caught testing, and it just published a trunkful of shots showing prototypes of many Falcon models with less disguise than we've previously seen.

Most notable are shots of the FPV Falcons, which truly do look like birds of prey with their sloped noses, Xenon lamps and a braking/tire/wheel combo that should allow them to easily chase down that next meal. Note the hood bulge visible on many of these mules - wonder what's hiding under there. Also shot were more staid models like the Futura, as well as the XR8, which we feel silly calling "staid".

While GM's Zeta cars are figuratively crossing the oceans as we speak, the Fords appear to be still packing their bags. It's too early to say how the Falcon's platform will be used by Ford in the U.S. It will likely be the basis of the next-gen Mustang that arrives around 2011, as well as supply the platform for a new Crown Vic. We're of the mind that the current Crown Vic and its ancient Fox platform will continue for some time, and that Ford will introduce a new RWD large sedan inspired by the Interceptor Concept.

[Source: CarAdvice.com.au]

 

[via] Autoblog

Rumor Mill: Audi canceling RS4?

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Say it ain't so. One of our favorite cars in recent memory might be going out of production. Autocar UK is saying that Audi has pulled the plug on the sweet RS4 supersedan. According to them, the convertible and wagon versions are still being produced, but they don't know for how long. With the new RS6 and RS5 on the horizon, it's possible Audi has decided to cut RS4 production to gear up for those new models, but the RS4 has been pretty successful for automaker by all accounts and it seems surprising it would be cancelled altogether. Besides being one of the best driving vehicles on the planet, the V8 RS4 is also one of the best sounding vehicles made. Right up there with the Vantage and F430. The RS4 offers performance figures that are nearly the equal of those two sports cars as well, all while providing a back seat and proper trunk. The 414-hp RS4 sedan went on sale in the UK in October of 2005, and showed up in the States around summer 2006. That's a pretty short run for such a great car. With its rumored turbo V10, the RS6 will undoubtedly be awesome as well, but the RS4 will be sorely missed if this news is true.

[Source: Autocar]

 

[via] Autoblog

Toyota delays launch of third-generation Prius

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According to Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, Toyota is going to postpone the launch of its next generation Prius. Originally planned for fall 2008, the release has been pushed back to spring 2009. This will be the third generation of the popular hybrid-only model, and it was expected that we'd see the first use of lithium-ion batteries in this new model. Toyota, however, has apparently decided to stick with the nickel-metal hydrides, and delayed the launch of the new car until further development could be done on that system. Toyota's battery partner, Matsushita, could be partly to blame here, but officially Toyota says there is no delay. They maintain that the launch date was never announced and that when they feel everything is in place, the new car will appear. With or without the li-ions. The Prius is by far the best selling and most widely known hybrid on the market. Toyota sold 186,000 of them last year, and 313,000 hybrids overall.

[Source: Automotive News, sub. req.]

 

[via] Autoblog

Ford Taurus safety ads set to go live

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click above image to view both versions of Ford's new ads for the 2008 Taurus

While Ford seemingly let its large front-wheel-drive sedan languish in obscurity when it was called the Five-Hundred, it doesn't intend to make the same mistake now that it's called the Taurus. We told you at the beginning of the month that the Taurus' new tagline will be "Rated Safest Car In America", and now we've got some advertisements to go along with the new marketing babble. Above you'll find one of the two print ads developed, we assume, by longtime Ford ad agency JWT Detroit. The ad features a highly photoshopped shot of the new Taurus wearing its Sunday best, which is comprised of super shiny chrome trim and 18-inch chromed 7-spoke wheels. The color appears to be Light Ice Blue Clearcoat Metallic, although it looks much better in the ad than it does when building the car on Ford's website. Besides the gussied up Taurus on the left, consumers will also notice the new tagline and references to the stellar crash test scores the Taurus received from both the NHTSA and IIHS.

After the jump you'll find Ford's new commercial for the Taurus that debuts on June 18th. Playing off of Father's Day, it shows that heartwarming moment we've all experience when Dad hands you the keys for the first time and says, "You drive." We thought this would be a perfect set up for a demonstration of how safe the Taurus is when the son blows a stop light and introduces Dad's new car to the business end of a fire hydrant, but alas, the 2008 Taurus just accelerates away.

[Source: Ford]

Continue reading Ford Taurus safety ads set to go live

 

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GM announces new 4.5L V8 Duramax diesel for half-ton trucks and HUMMER H2

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Mark your calendars, because we're calling today a watershed moment for the advancement of diesel's acceptance in the U.S. General Motors has just announced a new 4.5L V8 Duramax turbo-diesel powerplant it plans to use in the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra half-ton pickups, as well as the HUMMER H2. The new oil burner is expected to produce at least 310 horsepower and 520 ft-lbs. of torque. It features dual-overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, a variable-vane turbocharger and aluminum cylinder heads with integrated manifolding that helps keep the overall package small enough to fit in the same space as the automaker's small-block gas V8s.

That's right, just imagine the possibilities. Wherever GM uses a small-block V8 gas engine, it could potentially use the 4.5L V8 Duramax diesel. In a few years we could be driving diesel Impalas, diesel Camaros, maybe even a diesel Corvette! To quote GM's press release, the engine's small size gives it "the flexibility to introduce this engine in a wide variety of vehicle applications should there be future market demand." Indeed.

GM estimates that the engine will improve fuel efficiency by 25%, reduce CO2 emissions by 13% and decrease particulate and NOx emissions by at least 90% in its GMT900 pickups and the HUMMER H2. Whoever said the HUMMER H2 was on its way out will likely be proven incorrect after this engine debuts. Scheduled to be built at the GM Tonawanda engine plant outside Buffalo, NY, the 4.5L V8 Duramax diesel will be 50-state emissions compliant and meet 2010 diesel emissions standards, as well. GM claims its new diesel will also have NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) levels approaching those of today's current gas V8s, though we'll have to wait and see if that wish comes true. That wait should end in a couple of years, as the automaker states the engine will be available in Silverado, Sierra and H2 models built after 2009.

UPDATE: Pickuptruck.com's Mike Levine has learned from GM that despite sharing its name with the older 6.6L Duramax diesel that was developed in partnership with Isuzu, the new 4.5L Duramax was developed completely in-house by GM.

Check out GM's full press release after the jump for more details.

[Source: GM]

Continue reading GM announces new 4.5L V8 Duramax diesel for half-ton trucks and HUMMER H2

 

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KTM X-Bow: 1000 pre-orders and counting...

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KTM X-Bow
Click image for photo gallery

The funky-minimalist-cool KTM X-Bow is proving to be a roaring sales success, and it's not even out yet. On Thursday, KTM announced that it has eclipsed the 1000-car mark in pre-orders, and that more continue to flow in, surpassing the company's expectations. And why not? The Audi TFSI-powered X-Bow is mean-looking, fast, and exclusive. After the initial pilot series of 100 Dallara-built cars is complete, the regular production run at Magna Steyr in Germany will begin. With a projected maximum annual capacity of 1000 cars, it would appear that the entire first-year run is spoken for already. Plans announced back in April stated that subsequent years will likely see annual production of around 500 cars. If the demand for the X-Bow remains this hot, one wonders if KTM will try and boost that number to meet it.

Cars can be reserved via the X-Bow website or at KTM motorcycle dealers. The press release after the jump has all the details.

[Source: KTM]

Gallery: KTM X-Bow

Continue reading KTM X-Bow: 1000 pre-orders and counting...

 

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Spy Shot: Cadillac CTS-V engine bay

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click image above to enlarge

Don't get excited, as this shot of the 2009 Cadillac CTS-V's open engine bay reveals next to nothing. What we can see is a beefy cross brace that looks to be the tallest component of the engine. The crossbrace is probably what's necessitated the hood bulge we've seen in so many spy photos of the 2009 Cadillac CTS-V. Aside from that, a strategically placed piece of insulation hides what's below the brace, which allows us to continue speculating what motor will be moving this beastly sedan.

GM product planners have no doubt had a good chuckle over all the claims made about what engine the 2009 CTS-V will use. Motor Trend stated with authority that the CTS-V would get a detuned 600-horsepower version of the Corvette "Blue Devil" SS's 700-hp supercharged LS9 V8. The instant that claim was published, however, other inside sources were deriding it as completely bogus. Another possibility is to use a supercharged version of the 2008 Corvette's new LS3 V8. Last, but certainly not least, is the option of dropping the 505-hp 7.0L LS7 V8 from the current Corvette Z06 into the CTS-V. We think one of the two latter options is more likely, with the LS7 from the Corvette Z06 making the most sense because it would require the least amount of investment. What do you think? We're sure someone out there knows something and just isn't talking.

[Source: KGP Photography]

 

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First look at Joker's Clown Car in new Dark Knight film

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The Model A Ford pickup you see above will play the Joker's Clown Car in the upcoming Batman sequel, The Dark Knight. Heath Ledger will play the Joker to Christian Bale's Batman (who gets a new suit, incidentally), but he unfortunately gets stuck with this very unimpressive (and very purple) truck that has no chance of outrunning the Tumbler. In fact, the Tumbler could likely slice this truck in two if Batman were to t-bone the Joker in an intersection. It also turns out that illustrator Chris Ring was way off the mark when he paired the Joker with a 1974 Ford Mustang II in his Comics and Costume Sketchbook we told you about last week.

[Source: Filmwad via Digg]

 

[via] Autoblog

Photo Time Warp: Opel celebrates the Summer

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Click image for theme-tastic Opel gallery

With the arrival of summer, the media folks at Opel have assembled a bunch of summer-themed PR shots featuring the marque through the decades. Fun to look at of you're interested in older cars (or old advertising art), the subject matter runs the gamut from the big Omnibus to the slinky Opel GT (and everything in-between). We've collected 'em in the gallery below for your perusal, and added a few of our faves after the jump, too.

[Source: Opel]

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Slimy red car found oozing on Russian city street

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We've seen badly-painted cars before, some with store-bought spray cans and even some painted with brushes. But we've never, EVER, seen one painted with, um, what is that? Stucco? Bondo applied with a shovel-wielding 6-year-old? And, possibly more important, what WAS that? A Renault?

Going to the source (careful, link NSFW for some) of these photos didn't really help much, either. Not only was there little accompanying text, but it's all in (surprise!) Russian.

We look forward to hearing our readers' comments on this one, and would be very interested to hear from anyone who might have insight into this lumpy car's slimy background. And, yes, we know some of the other off-color things it might resemble, but let's keep things family-friendly.

[Source: Fishki via EnglishRussia]

 

[via] Autoblog