Icon of design: A brief look back at the Studebaker Avanti

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Click the image above for more high-res pics.

During a recent excursion back east, we had the opportunity to be in the presence of one of the most iconic automobile designs of the 20th century: the Studebaker Avanti. Worshiped by some and derided by others, Raymond Loewy's masterpiece was two-and-half steps beyond anything produced in the '60s. The coupe's name itself means "forward" or "advance" in Italian, and whether you're smitten by the Avanti's aerodynamic styling or its innovative approach to safety, there's a little something for any purebred pistonhead.

This particular 1964 supercharged R2 example currently resides outside Pittsburgh, PA, under the watchful gaze of its owner, John Kudravy, who is a family friend, architect, design snob and devout worshiper at the altar of power and poise. He's owned the Avanti for going on two decades and after showing it at several events across the U.S., it's likely to be the best-kept Avanti in North America.

For a brief rundown on the Avanti, you can check out Wikipedia's entry here, along with a bio of Raymond Loewy here. And be sure to check out our 40-image-strong gallery below.

A special thanks to John for his time, expertise and patience, along with his early contribution to our obsession with all-things automotive.


 

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Spy Shots: BMW 1-series convertible

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Car Magazine has caught the coming 1-series convertible doing the twisties at the 'Ring. It will be the third in the 1-series model lineup, following the 4-door hatch and the coupe. It gets a fabric roof, probably in order to eat up less of its already paltry trunk space. Engine choices will tend to the sporting side, with the top-line cab getting the twin-turbo, 300-bhp six, and, in Europe at least, they'll get a 123d that features BMW's 2-liter turbo diesel with 200 bhp. While talk of an M1 goes back and forth, Car says the current M3 engine's final task could be powering an M1. The new ultimate driving machine will also get BMW's start-stop tech and intelligent alternator. And even though the car hasn't even arrived on US shores yet (and won't until next year), the next generation is already being planned, which could include a Sportvan.

[Source: Car magazine]

 

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Buick demotes Tiger Woods, OnStar picks him up

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Man, we really feel for Tiger Woods. Just three days after the birth of his first child, Sam Alexis Woods, the guy basically gets canned by Buick as their numero uno spokesperson. Seriously, how's a guy that swings a club for a living going to support a family without endorsements like Buick's? Sure, he's still got the Nike account, but all babies do are eat, sleep and poop, the latter of which requires diapers, which are hella expensive.

Buick says it wants to focus attention back on its product (really?), so while Woods will still appear in some advertisements, he won't be used solely to divert one's attention from the product anymore. General Motors has a heart though, so they've thrown the kid a bone and offered young Woods a stint endorsing OnStar. We'll likely see him appear in more of those celebrity-laden commercials with Jeff Gordon, Jimmy Kimmel, Kelly Rippa and the gang. We wish Tiger all the luck in the world without the deep pockets of Buick behind him anymore.

[Source: The Detroit News]

 

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Ferrari shows off future technologies with its FXX Mille Chili concept

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Details have started to emerge regarding Ferrari's new eco-friendly concept vehicle, the FXX Mille Chile. Ferrari, like other high performance vehicle manufacturers, realize that it needs to develop and introduce new technologies in order to keep selling its high-performance brand of vehicles. Ferrari has been working on many of these technologies and is showing them off on its latest concept. It's important to note that this is merely a paper and wood concept and is not slated for production. It also does not appear to have anything to do with the Millechili concept from 2005.

New technologies introduced to the public on the Millechili concept include active aerodynamics, a new type of hybrid drivetrain, adjustable steering wheel and pedal placement and high-tech (and high-cost) carbon fiber construction. Also seeing daylight are low rolling resistance tires and ceramic composite brakes. Many of these technologies have been done before, but not with quite the same intent as what Ferrari is doing.

Read on past the break for all of the details!

[Source: AutoblogGreen]

Continue reading Ferrari shows off future technologies with its FXX Mille Chili concept

 

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GM building luxury condos in Detroit

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GM, delivering on promises to make Detroit all it can be, is getting into the development game. The General has given Hines Real Estate, out of Houston, a 6-acre riverfront plot next to the Renaissance Center where Hines plans to build 600 luxury condominiums. The condos, to be built in three phases, will go for anywhere from $300K to a $1M, and GM will get a cut of the profits. Hines oversaw the RenCen makeover, and built Detroit's Comerica tower.

According to the head of GM's Economic Development and Enterprise Services, "there's still a lot of pent-up demand for people to live in the city of Detroit." This, even though Detroit's riverfront -- and perhaps the entire city itself -- has long been overdue for some grooming. Fifty thousand residents have left Detroit since 2000, yet the downtown area has seen a slight rise, and the claim for the riverfront is that "there is no better real estate in the region." Groundbreaking on the potentially decade-long project is scheduled for the spring of '08. People might be able to move in by the spring of '09.

[Source: Detroit News]

 

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Rendered Speculation: 2009 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ

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The Fusion could aptly be described as a hit for Ford Motor Company. It sold 66,260 units through May of this year, which is a 15.4% increase compared to last year and not an easy accomplishment in this particular buyers' market. Consider, however, that the Fusion shares a platform and many parts with the Lincoln MKZ and Mercury Milan. Taken together the trio of mid-size family sedans constitutes a big hit for Ford. Some time in the next few years all three cars will be given an MCE, or mid-cycle enhancement, at which point we'll see updates to their exteriors and interiors, as well as some new powertrain choices (we hope).

Through the grape vine of the interweb we found these renderings on a Mexican autos news site called autocosmos.com. This happens to be an appropriate place for these renderings to surface because all three cars are built at Ford's assembly plant in Hermosillo, Mexico. In fact, this site may have had some insider info to work with when creating them. Above we see what the artist believes the Fusion will look like after its MCE. The look is familiar, but clearly suggests the Fusion will gain upturned headlights like those found on the Edge CUV. The site also claims the lower grille will be honeycomb and the car will receive larger wheels and a tweaked rear end with a chrome accent bar.

Thanks for the tip, Igor! More after the jump.

[Source: autocosmos.com via GMInsideNews]

Continue reading Rendered Speculation: 2009 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ

 

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Chrysler expanding dealerships all over the world

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In spite of the hurdles it faces domestically, Chrysler is making all kinds of... bold moves... in every other corner of the world. Chrysler's overseas sales is currently 8% of its global sales, but it's working to change that with a vengeance. It has invited 70 potential investors from 19 countries, including Russia, Japan, and the Middle East, to Auburn Hills for three days to discuss dealership opportunities for all of its brands. The week before, Chrysler hosted 140 dealers from China. And over the next 24 months, Chrysler plans to build 100 dealerships in Europe.

More and more people in those other markets are coming to Chrysler -- the past two years have seen consecutive monthly sales gains and double digit year-to-date growth. From just under 100,000 cars now, Chrysler wants to sell 400,000 overseas within five years. To do that, its overseas offerings will go from 9 to 20 cars, RHD offerings will jump from 6 to 18, and models available with a diesel engine will go from 4 to 16. Surprisingly, one of the biggest engines of growth is the Dodge brand: it could account for 30% of Chrysler's international sales within two years. And do you know what the best selling Chrysler vehicle outside of North America is? The Dodge Caliber.

[Source: Yahoo]

 

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Live from Chrysler's Chelsea Proving Grounds: The 2008 model lineup

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Click above to view more high-resolution images from the Chrysler proving grounds

It isn't just any day when you get to drive dozens of different vehicles that aren't even on sale yet. Chrysler made today just such a day at its Chelsea, MI proving grounds, as the Pentastar rolled out its entire 2008 lineup for automotive journalists to inspect and drive. We were able to drive everything except the 600-hp Viper for 2008 and the new Dodge and Chrysler minivans, which was a bit of a downer, but not nearly enough to spoil an otherwise fun day.

The driving route lined up for us included artificial road hazards, hair-pin turns, and a few straightaways that demonstrated just how impressive the 6.1L Hemi SRT engine really is. Other than the afforementioned Viper and minivans, Chrysler left the keys in literally everything else, from the SRT 300C to the Sprinter van and Ram 3500 flat-bed. AutoblogGreen was also on hand to drive Chrysler's new two-mode hybrid system equipped with a Hemi engine in the Aspen SUV, and we'll tell you just how that went as soon as the embargoes are lifted (or as soon as someone else opens the flood-gates.)

One of the most popular events of the day was an off-road course where we could see just how capable the Jeep lineup really is. Even the JT concept was on-hand for the rough housing, and the end result was some very dirty metal and a few dinged-up quarter-panels.

We'll be bringing you more posts from this event throughout the day today and tomorrow, but for now you can check out some high-res pics in the gallery below.

 

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Out of sorts: Race team's transporter stolen, 2 cars missing

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Sorted Performance had its Speed World Challenge racing season come to an abrupt halt earlier this week when its transporter consisting of a 2005 Dodge Ram 3500 4x4 dually and 48-foot Gooseneck Haulmark Edge triple axle trailer were stolen from a Hampton Inn parking lot in Livonia, MI. Team manager Ken Grammer was transporting both of the team's Grand Touring Class Dodge SRT-4 race cars at the time, along with all the spare parts available for the cars. Today it was learned that the truck has been recovered in Detroit and sustained some damage, though not as much as the trailer, which was also found in Detroit burnt to a crisp. The two SRT-4 race cars, one driven by team owner Hal Brown and the other by current Rookie of the Year points leader Stan Wilson, are still missing. The racing community has its feelers out for the cars, as their parts are very specific and should be easy to spot should the thieves attempt to sell them.

You can view all the currently available info on the situation in this thread on the SCCA Pro Racing forums, and please keep your eyes open if you live in the Detroit area. Hopefully these two race cars can be found in good shape thanks to the collective effort of a concerned auto and racing community. Sorted Performance was looking forward to the next round of the series at the 2007 Grand Prix of Toronto. With any luck, Hal and Stan will be behind the wheels of their SRT-4s by then.

Thanks for the tip, Joe!

[Source: SCCA Pro Racing forums]

 

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The Detroit Auto Show takes on all challengers

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When the LA show moved from January to its current November date, people said that it was a harbinger of doom for the Detroit Auto Show. Car companies may be based in Detroit, they said, but car culture is being largely defined and driven by Southern California. More recently, Porsche pulled out of the Detroit Show, saying it doesn't move much metal in Michigan. Now, according to auto journalist William Jeanes, the Detroit Auto Show might not only have LA to worry about, but Chicago.

Jeanes penned a piece in Automotive News arguing for Chicago to be the home of the end-all-be-all US auto show. Windy City folks held that column up to the world, and now Detroit's airing its response. David Fischer, NAIAS board member, said "We get more press credentials at this show than the Super Bowl," and the show leads all others in coverage and important vehicle introductions. In fact, Detroit gets more than double the number of journalists of any other show.

Still, with people calling Detroit "a necessary evil," not happy about Cobo Hall or what the city itself has to offer, and miffed at the "amateur journalists" who get some of those numerous credentials -- not to mention the rising stature of other cities' shows, could it be just a matter of time before it becomes the NAIAS ... of Los Angeles?

[Source: Detroit News]

 

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Ferrari makes commitment to green performance with FXX Millechili concept

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click above to view more shots of the Ferrari FXX Millechili from Winding Road

Today Ferrari revealed that it has been forced to face an inconvenient truth, which is that the Italian exotics made in Maranello are no longer immune from environmental concerns. The Prancing Horse revealed today at a press event kicking off its 60th Anniversary celebration in Maranello, Italy, that future Ferraris would be both "leaner and greener" according to Car Magazine, which was on hand. To showcase its intentions, Ferrari unveiled the FXX Millechili Concept. The FXX Millechili looks like a truncated Enzo with much shorter front and rear overhangs, while the car's crowning stat is a curb weight of 1,000 kilograms, or about 2,207 lbs. It measures over ten inches shorter than the Enzo, 93.7 inches compared to the Enzo's length of 104.3 inches.

More after the jump.

Click here to view Winding Road's gallery of the FXX Millechili concept.

[Source: CAR, WR, AutoblogGreen]

Continue reading Ferrari makes commitment to green performance with FXX Millechili concept

 

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Ontario threatens to crush street racing cars before they hit the street

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Yesterday we learned that California has begun the practice of crushing modified cars obtained while being used for the illegal and dangerous activity of street racing. The hope is that seeing their expensive toys flattened by a compress will deter street racers from endangering the lives of others on public roads. Judging from the news coming out of Canada, it appears that the province of Ontario is prepared to go one step further. Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant has stated that the authorities in his province will confiscate and crush vehicles built for street racing before they even put rubber to pavement on city streets.

"Just on the balance of probabilities if we can establish that a car is being used for the unlawful purpose of street racing, we will seize it and you will never see it again. We will crush your car, we will crush the parts."

The report from The Star in Ontario tells us that Bryant's fiery edict was given just a few days after a truck driver was killed after being cut off by three youths street racing on Highway 400. The driver, David Virgoe, drove his truck off the road and down an embankment rather than cross the divider and risk colliding with oncoming traffic.

More after the jump.

[Source: The Star]

Continue reading Ontario threatens to crush street racing cars before they hit the street

 

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Counterstrike: Senators offer compromise to prevent CAFE mileage hike

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Michigan Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin, who have been lobbying on behalf of automakers to reign in some of the stricter CAFE proposals being debated this month as part of the larger energy bill, have just offered a new compromise. They made the offer to Dianne Feinstein, a California senator in favor of the most stringent hikes, but wouldn't say what they proposed.

Supporters of the energy bill said they would scale back CAFE increases after 2020, but that approach wasn't enough for the automakers. The Big Three, Toyota, and BMW are part of the Alliance of Automotive Manufacturers that is opposed to the strictest standards. The bill they want to block is the one calling for 35 mpg CAFE by 2020, then annual 4% increases until 2030, for a 52 mpg CAFE standard. The last bill offered by Levin and Stabenow offered a car CAFE rating of 33 mpg by 2022, and 30 mpg for trucks by 2025. It would also let carmakers tally hybrids as alternative vehicles. Ted Stevens of Alaska also proposed an amendment that would eliminate the 4% increases after 2020, as well as the requirement that 80% of carmakers fleets run on flex fuels by 2015.

Feinstein has said that she will be working to take the different approaches into account, though other Senators appear determined not to back down. Levin and Stabenow have said they would block a vote on the entire energy bill if no compromise could be found.

[Source: Detroit News]

 

[via] Autoblog

Kubica survives crash at 75 G

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The boffins have broken down the data from BMW Sauber F1 driver Robert Kubica's crash at the Montreal Grand Prix. If the shunt itself wasn't eye-popping enough, it turns out that Kubica hit the wall nearly head on at 142.6 mph and endured a 75 G impact. And he made it out with nothing more than a slight concussion and a sprained ankle. That's what a survival cell, crash box, HANS system, helmet, and 1,000 pieces of carbon fiber, Kevlar, metal, and honeycomb can do for you when they work perfectly. In a burst of German understatement, the BMW Sauber technical director said they were "very content about the behavior of the chassis as survival cell." Throttle-by-wire is great, but we need a whole lot more of that kind of tech to trickle down ASAP.

[Source: Autosport]

 

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Autoblog Night Watch: Needell flogs the GT3 RS, Clubsport

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Tiff Needell has solidified his place in our minds as the be-all, end-all of motoring show presenters. Sure, Jezza's wit and rhythm is second-to-none, but it wouldn't surprise us to learn that his skills behind the wheel are more a product of clever post-production rather than outright talent. With Needell, his deft touch at the helm of everything from a Suzuki Swift to a BMW/Sauber F1 machine shows his racing roots. And when the time came to run the new GT3 RS through its paces, there is only one man that can make it look so easy.

In the video after the jump, Tiff pits a lime-green GT3 RS against the GT3 Clubsport to see what, if anything, Porsche left on the table. Enjoy!

Continue reading Autoblog Night Watch: Needell flogs the GT3 RS, Clubsport

 

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AutoblogGreen for 06.21.07

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What do you do if you're the Association of British Drivers and you like to rail against anyone who dares to criticize sending CO2 from your tailpipe to the air but people stop listening to you? You call educating kids on carbon's role in climate change to what the Nazi's did in 1930's Germany. That's not smart.

What is smart is the smart grid, which we delved into yesterday. Fill your boots here.

 

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Spy Shots: 2009 BMW 7-series

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Although the BMW 7-series has undergone some mild styling tweaks over the past few years, it seems that more is on the way, all in an effort to tighten the reigns of the mangled Bangled versions that caused drivers to bleed from their eyes.

Although some hope that the Concept CS will influence future 7s, the 2009 model will be more of an evolution, likely drawing cues from the redesigned 3-series. But the real changes are likely to come from underneath.

A longer wheelbase, partnered with a wider track, will be utilized to keep with BMW's handling ethos, while new engine choices, including a hybrid and twin-turbo V8 diesel will provide motivation. A new ZF eight-speed gearbox is almost certain, along with a revised iDrive system and several new safety features.

Look out for the refresh in 2009, with a full redesign sometime next decade.

[Source: Autogepot via Motor Authority]

 

[via] Autoblog

BMW thinks your driving sucks...

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... and with good reason. Most drivers learned from misinformed acquaintances, and the few that sought out professional instruction did so because it was required, sometimes getting antiquated methods in the process. BMW wants to right those wrongs. Well, sort of.

The Bavarian's focus is set squarely on pushing its advanced driver training courses, which utilize on track instruction to teach students the finer aspects of car control. The curriculum includes the prerequisite skid-pad, lane change exercises, hot laps and other methods that give drivers a better idea of the dynamics involved in piloting a ton-and-a-half lethal weapon.

That's all fine and dandy, but studies have shown that drivers, especially those wet behind the ears, who take such advanced classes are more prone to risky behavior when they make it back onto public roads. We're all for advanced instruction - sometimes using methods best left on the track - but there are better options available that focus on the task of day-to-day driving.

BMW's "Relearn To Drive" press release is after the jump, and be sure to look out for some of their print ads and YouTube clips due out in the next few weeks.

Continue reading BMW thinks your driving sucks...

 

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Snatched! VW R32s selling quickly before hitting dealerships

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The last R32 was a favorite of tuners and VW enthusiasts alike, and from the looks of the early orders, the 2008 MK V R32 is going to be in hot demand. The kind folks over at Volkswagen gave current GTI and R32 owners first dibs at the 2008 model, and the VW loyalists didn't disappoint. Of the 5,000 R32s destined for the US, nearly 1,000 have already been spoken for.

The 2008 R32 will retain its 3.2l engine with 250hp, and 4Motion permanent AWD will be standard. The starting price of the hot hatch will be a breath-taking $32,990, putting it in 3-Series territory, but we don't think this will be much of an obstacle for those who covet the R32. After seeing the souped-up Golf in person in Chicago, it's difficult to foresee the R32s hanging out on dealer lots for long. The R32 roles out in the fall.

[Source: Edmunds Inside Line]

 

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Sub-$35K Pontiac G8 GT wins over Autoblog readers

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Tuesday's post on the rumored sub-$35K price for the upcoming Pontiac G8 GT drew plenty of interest from readers, and if our completely unscientific poll is any indication, should the car come in at or below that price, Pontiac will have your attention. After tallying up 2,500+ votes, 63% of you said that yes, the checkbook would be broken out if that number is the real deal. And from the looks of things, a G8 GT for $35,000 is going to happen, as Pontiac's reps told us that the V8-powered car's pricing will indeed start "well under" that sum. Good news for those of you who've been waiting for a proper RWD American power sedan. It's been a while, but you'll get your wish, and parking one outside your house shouldn't break the bank (as long as the dealers don't go into full gank mode upon release, which is always a possibility).

 

[via] Autoblog

NHTSA investigating GM supercharged offerings

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The NHTSA has commenced an "engineering analysis" of GM's supercharged 3800 Series II V6 engine. Fitted to certain 1999-2002 models, such as the Pontiac Grand Prix GTP, Buick Park Avenue, and Oldsmobile LSS, they are apparently catching fire at a rate thirteen times greater than the naturally aspirated engine. Specifically, the agency has 180 complaints of "non-crash-related fires originating in the engine compartment while driving or after the vehicle is parked and the ignition switched off." An engineering analysis isn't a recall, it is a possible precursor to a recall. If you have that particular engine in your ride, you can find out more about the NHTSA's investigation here.

[Source: Inside Line]

 

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Fresh air fun: Porsche 911 Turbo Cabrio promo vid

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Click image for newly-expanded gallery


This video we've embedded after the jump would be a lot better if it nixed the music and let the 911 Turbo Cabriolet's 3.6L twin-turbocharged flat six do the talking. Lord knows it's a far more engaging soundtrack than the chillout/electronica we're required to take in while we watch the new Turbo Cabriolet cruise some scenic areas, drop and raise its roof, and then drive some more. Still, if you're looking for a quick fix of open-air Turbocharged Porsche, this might be enough to satisfy your immediate need.

Follow the jump to watch, and be sure to check out the gallery as well, as it's been updated with a ton of new shots direct from the mothership in Zuffenhausen

[Source: Streetfire]

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Continue reading Fresh air fun: Porsche 911 Turbo Cabrio promo vid

 

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[via] Autoblog