Paul Walker weeps: California turns to crushing street racers

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The state of California has taken a hard line against illegal street racing, the type of which has on occasion led to the death of innocent pedestrians and the racers themselves. They're employing a new deterrent to make these illegal racers think twice about competing on public roads - crushing the impounded cars of those caught street racing. This Fox News video clip (click this link to view) shows a local reporter present at the inaugural crush who appears a little too excited about the event compared to the disembodied anchorman whose voiceover we hear in the backgroiund. The tuned Honda Civic hatch is flattened quickly inside the crusher's jaws, the extreme pressure popping out its windows like eyeballs and some of the hatch's contents ejecting out the back like vomit. Fortunately, it looks like the aftermarket rims may have survived. The Ron Burgandy wannabe behind the desk says it best at the end exclaiming, "Half the guys in the studio are crying at what you just showed us."

[Source: Fox News via GMInsideNews]

 

[via] Autoblog

Autoblog Podcast #69

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Podcast #69 finds John breathlessly wringing out Forza Motorsport 2 on his XBox 360 and putting out the call for some really talented people to build an Autoblog car with the game's abysmal editor. Compensation (if any) has yet to be determined; if you make a rusted-out Pacer, it will probably not bring the same reward as a Panoz Esperante would.

Moving on from time-wasting frivolities, we dive right into some news. Our first item is the ute-like Scion xP, which may turn the compact pickup market on its ear and spark some life in that segment, we hope. Going for diametric opposition, we move from compact pickups to race cars with some discussion of this year's LeMans. Speaking of racing, Dan Roth, who fills Damon's spot this week, gets mildly tossed under the bus for his slightly controversial drifting video post. To quote Lucy Van Pelt: "Don't you know sarcasm when you hear it?"

Mea Culpas disbursed, the gang moves on to the 4.5 liter GM Duramax diesel V8 that could find its way into some mainstream passenger cars if we all cross our fingers and click our heels. The monster torque of the new motor would be a delight in a wide range of the General's vehicles, from HUMMERs to Cadillacs. On a lighter, yet still dissapointing note, the exhuming of Tulsa's buried Belvidere makes us glad we weren't the "fortunate" one who wins the Plymouth Oxide Special. We go off on a tangent to wrap things up, armchair quarterbacking which car we'd choose to bury for posterity. 47 minutes should be long enough to keep you grinning (or groaning) on your commute, enjoy!

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Spy Shots: MINI Clubman spotted almost camo-free ... yet again

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Those of you mad for MINI, your hour is nearly at hand. With the furor and the spy shots and the commercials, there isn't much left to ponder about MINI's upcoming long-wheelbase Clubman. However, these shots do reveal the other side of the car that isn't seen in these spy shots, in what could be the exclusive Hot Chocolate color. The latest rumor is that the Clubman's roof might have twin sunroofs.


The curtain gets pulled back next month, officially, and the Clubman will be ready for its close-up in September, at the Frankfurt Auto Show. We reported earlier that US sales will begin in November of '08, but Motor Authority simply says November. While the Clubman expands the Mini range to four models, other models are also in the works as well as a possible factory expansion or outsourcing production.

[Source: Motor Authority]

 

[via] Autoblog

Smart-er parking enforcement in Toronto

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In a pilot program to reduce its environmental (and physical) footprint on the streets of Toronto, the city's police department has added a quartet of new vehicles to its fleet. A pair of Honda Civic Hybrids are joined by a pair of smart fortwo diesels, which will be used for parking enforcement purposes in lieu of larger cars that drink more fuel and are more difficult to maneuver and park in the urban environment. The Toronto Police Services' smarts, as seen above, may well be the least intimidating police-liveried vehicles...ever. And that includes the Cushman golf carts NYPD uses (or used) in some situations.

[Source: Torontoist]

 

[via] Autoblog

Ferrari breaks speed records ... on water

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click above image for a few more pics of Molinari's Ferrari boat

So the prancing horse is having a little trouble on the track, but its engines aren't having any problems at all on the water. Speedboat designer Eugenio Molinari, using a production engine from an F430, broke the running kilometer world records in two categories on Lake Como, Italy. At 1,100 kg, he ran the kilo at 123.3 km/h, and at 1,450 kg, he did 122 km/h. The feats were dedicated by Molinari to Luca di Montezemolo, Ferrari CEO, and the marque during its 60th anniversary year. A bit of trivia: 35 years ago, Molinari designed the first boat to house a Lamborghini engine taken from an Espada.

[Source: Motor Authority]


 

[via] Autoblog

eBay Find of the Day: 1988 Chevy Celebrity Eurosport VR

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Click image above for gallery. Visit here for more.

Yes, a Chevy Celebrity is today's eBay Find of the Day. You have to admit, though -- this is pretty cool. While it's listed as an '88 Eurosport VR sedan, it's technically an '87 clone. The seller owned a rare but (completely) worn-out 1987 VR, which he decided to bring back to life. Enter a low-mileage '88 Celebrity Eurosport, which then became the recipient of every single usable VR part from the '87 donor car. The conversion is remarkable, with nary a stone left unturned. The rebuild story is completely documented in words and photos at CarDomain, and you can't help but come away impressed after seeing the work that went into this particular labor of love. The rebuilt car is probably put together better than these things were when new.

And now, in its gleaming black like-new condition, the car is up for sale on eBay. According to the owner, everything is in excellent working condition, and it averaged 34mpg on a recent vacation trip that put 500 miles on the odo. It looks great, has a readily-available history, and comes from a loving home. Add in the fact that the VRs are a true rarity, and you've got something legitimately interesting. The current bid's at $1,025 and the reserve hasn't been met. Assuming it isn't too high, someone's probably going to get a good deal on what might be the nicest Celebrity available anywhere at this moment. You can read more about the Eurosport VR model in general at EurosportVR.com, where this car is also featured (with plenty of photos) in the "JEFFS VR" section. If you want it, you can bid here.

[Source: eBay]

 

[via] Autoblog

More pics of Tulsa's rusty 1957 Plymouth Belvedere unearthed

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click above image for 26 new pics of the '57 Belvedere unveiling in Tulsa

Since we weren't able to get an Autoblogger on a plane pointed at Tulsa last weekend to catch the unearthing of a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere buried underground for 50 years, we called Chrysler because we thought, hey, they built the car way back when, maybe they'll have someone on hand with a point-and-shoot. And they did. Max Gates from the Safety and Regulatory Communications department of Chrysler escaped his cubicle to attend the festivities surrounding the reveal of Tulsa's time capsule and "Mrs. Belvedere".

Of course, by now we all know that Mrs. Belvedere spent much of the last half century under water, her underground sarcophagus having been breached by mother nature and flooded countless times in the past 50 years. In Gates' pics, we get our first close up look at the extent to which the '57 Belvedere is ruined with rust. What's interesting is that there are no rust holes or rust spots, there's just a veneer of rust completely covering the vehicle making it look as if the car were plucked from its tomb and deep fried right before the unveiling.

We haven't heard any news about who correctly guessed what the population of Tulsa would be in 2007 and therefore has won the '57 Belvedere, nor whether it's been confirmed that car customizer Boyd Coddington will restore the vehicle before it's awarded to the winner. For the winner's sake, we're hoping he or she isn't given the car in this condition.

[Source: Chrysler Group]

 

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Toyota announces 2008 Highlander pricing

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click above image for more pics of the 2008 Toyota Highlander

Toyota's redesigned 2008 Highlander is expected on dealer lots in a couple of weeks, and buyers can expect relatively modest price increases over last year's model. The mid-size SUV drops the standard 4-cylinder in favor of a 270-hp, 3.5-liter V6 and the interior gets some upgrades. Toyota brags that the larger, more powerful Highlander retains its 2007 V6 fuel economy numbers of 17/23 for 4X2s and 16/22 for 4X4s.

At the low end, the Highlander Base 4X2 model's sticker gets bumped $510 to $27,300 while the 4X4 is up $560 to $28,750.

Sport and Limited level Highlanders get standard backup cameras independent of a navigation system and 19" wheels. Sport 4X2 models get a $985 bump to $29,950. Limited buyers also get keyless entry and will pay MSRP of $32,700 for the 4X2 and $34,150 for the 4X4, which is $1,890 and $1,940 more than 2007 models.

Highlander Hybrid sales are to begin in September, and Toyota will announce pricing for those nearer the fall.

After the jump read Toyota's complete press release with details on interior goodies and other upgrades.

[Source: Toyota]

Continue reading Toyota announces 2008 Highlander pricing

 

[via] Autoblog

Autoblog takes on Gratiot: Cars don't have to be old to be cruise-worthy

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Click on the image above to view the high-resolution gallery

As big as the muscle car market has become, not everybody wants to spend their weekends working on a vehicle that gets 8 mpg while still reaching 60mph slower than a V6 Accord. For some, their everyday transportation has become their passion. Other vehicles, like the 80's Monte Carlo or Buick Grand National, are collectible because they act as newer versions of the muscle cars of the 60s and 70s, but with smaller price tags.

While Gratiot avenue still reserved most of its space for vehicles that are older than I am, plenty of newer classics had their day in the (hot) sun as well. Our favorite was the Ferrari 328 GTS Fiero dressed up in its best Italian suit, and was on sale for "only" $13,000. There were three or four Prowlers, a few souped-up PT Cruisers, plenty of Corvettes, and a couple of Vipers as well. There was even a Dodge Nitro that someone dropped at least $15,000 on. Take a look at the high-res image gallery of our 80's-and-up shots from the Gratiot Cruise.

All photos Copyright (C)2007 Chris Shunk / Weblogs, Inc.

 

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Volvo XC60 first in line for production

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click above image for more pics of the Volvo XC60 Concept

Volvo is keen to expand its range with several radically styled all-new models, the first of which is likely to be a production version of the XC60 crossover. Displayed in concept form at the Detroit Auto Show back in January, the XC60 is a departure from Volvo's traditional boxy approach and there's a good chance that these same lines will carry over to the production car. One thing we're pretty sure of though is that the production car's interior won't be anywhere near as cool as the one in concept's cockpit.

We won't be seeing the car launch at any of the major car shows this year, as Volvo is said to be focusing on its environmental concepts, such as a rumored diesel-hybrid, so next year's Detroit show is probably the best bet.

Next in line will be the S60 sedan, but according to a Volvo spokesman, the primary attention of developers was centered on getting the XC60 out. This is because the Swede brand has no genuine rival for cars like the BMW X3 or upcoming Volkswagen Tiguan, and this is said to have delayed development work for the next S60 sedan, which now won't be hitting the market until the end of next year.

[Source: The Car Connection]


 

[via] Autoblog

Toyota may slow U.S. factory expansion

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Toyota's rise to the number one position in the global car industry hasn't been without its setbacks. The carmaker is starting to feel growing pains following its rapid expansion over the past few years, and the issue has got some if its top brass very concerned. The Detroit Free Press is reporting that execs are worried they've built too many factories in the U.S. and that they're considering slowing things down. The problem Toyota faces is if demand drops, it'll be stuck with a whole lot of idle assembly lines. GM, Ford and Chrysler feel your pain, man. A weakening yen also means that Toyota is better off building cars in Japan and shipping them over, and there's no forecast that things are set to change any time soon.

To put a damper on its rapid expansion in North America, Toyota's board is planning a strategic shift in policy that will likely result in no more factories being built for now. According to the Journal, Toyota has already scaled back plans for its $1.3 billion Mississippi assembly plant. If by any chance demand does outstrip supply, Toyota would likely fast-track the installation of additional assembly lines at existing plants rather than setting up new ones.

[Source: Detroit Free Press]

 

[via] Autoblog

Spy Shots: Mercedes SLC Super Coupe

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The SLC cometh. Mr. H. Lehmann and crew caught an early development mule out testing, and word is that the car will likely get its grunt from a front-mounted 6.2-liter V8 provided by AMG. In natural guise it would put out 500 bhp, but with a few blowers that could easily be "remedied" to 700 or so.

The SLC will be focused more on sport than luxury, and though based on the next-gen SL and sharing many of it parts, it will use carbon fiber throughout, including its hard top. We'll have to see what kind of weight specs (and body) are eventually revealed, but you're looking at Merc's main competitor for Audi's upcoming RS8.

[Source: Winding Road]

 

[via] Autoblog

Audi RS4 not being cancelled

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You can start the presses again. It was all a big misunderstanding. Autocar said that even though Audi hadn't admitted it, the RS4 sedan had ceased production. Don't know where their source came from, but Winding Road's source, from Audi Communications in the US, calms all of our nerves with a hearty "Have No Fear." Even though Audi is getting its larger bahn-stormer the RS6 ready for production and RS models don't usually overlap, the RS4 will complete its production run through 2008. Thank you, Winding Road, for giving us news that keep our food down today. And a wet haggis for the folks at Autocar.

[Source: Winding Road]

 

[via] Autoblog

It's a go: Federal regulators clear Cerberus' purchase of Chrysler

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Without even waiting for the usual 30-day review period to end, US Government antitrust regulators have officially cleared the purchase of Chrysler by Cerberus Capital Management. While the sale won't officially close until Q3, this means that it won't face any regulatory hurdles or conditions. It's good news for Cerberus, and all are waiting to see if it's good news for Chrysler. However, in light of Cerberus' interest in Jaguar and Land Rover, for Cerberus it could just mean one down and two to go.

[Source: Detroit News]

 

[via] Autoblog

Spy Shots: Lamborghini Gallardo V8 running the 'Ring

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Audi goes up, Lamborghini goes down. Just as the R8, which wasn't really supposed to compete with the Gallardo, is getting revved up for a V10 transplant, the less expensive Gallardo could be going downmarket, swapping adding a V8 model to accompany the current V10. Admittedly its speculative, but sources and pics from the 'Ring indicate to World Car Fans the possibility of a V8 Gallardo with a revised fascia, altered exhaust treatment, and a less raucous exhaust roar than the V10. If true, that would mean we'll have two different versions of an Audi supercar (perhaps a third if a diesel engine is offered) and an "affordable" Lamborghini. Who saw that coming?

[Source: World Car Fans]

 

[via] Autoblog

The Deer Camp Truck: Sightseeing in style

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click above image for more pics of the Deer Camp Truck and its amenities

We don't know much about the monster truck you see above, like who owns it, what it's actually used for, etc., but the pictures in the gallery below tell us all we need to know. Named the Deer Camp Truck, it appears to be a vehicle used for sightseeing, and judging by the its sheer size, we can only assume it comes from Texas.

If you're traveling in (on?) the Deer Camp Truck, your trip begins by ascending a ladder to reach the vehicle's shaded main deck. Once aboard, you and your dozen or so friends take a seat on the wraparound bench and pull up to the poker table for some Texas Hold 'Em. Never mind the beautiful scenery that's being passed on your right. The onboard wet bar and refrigerator, meanwhile, will supply the libations you consume while taking in the wild country from the safe confines of this monster truck with a view.

While we don't know what powers the Deer Camp Truck, an independent suspension is visible that could articulate itself over a decent sized pebble or two. The front end is also tipped with a brush guard that's likely designed to knock over old and stubborn deciduous trees in your path.

On a serious note, if you can tell us any more info about the Deer Camp Truck, enlighten us in the comments.

Thanks for the tip, Celly!

[Source: Maggie's Farm]

 

[via] Autoblog