Improvements in Virginia brought to you by new fines on speeders

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So they're not out to break a speeder's bank like Indiana, but Virginia has created a host of civil fines for speeders that will pay for the state's new annual $1 billion transportation package. That means that after July 1, not only will you get a bill from the judge for speeding, you will then get a much larger bill from the state. Fr'instance, drive without a license, pay $75 to the court and $900 to VA. Do 20 mph over the limit, pay $200 to the court, pay $1,050 to VA. We really love this one: if you have eight points on your license and get a speeding ticket, you'll pay an additional $75 for every point above eight, and another $100 for simply having more than eight points. That smacks of double jeopardy to us, but what do we know?

For the record, almost no one -- and not just speeders -- likes it. Court clerks are expecting to face the anger when people find out about the new fees at the courthouse window. Defense attorneys are getting ready for legal challenges. Judges are expecting people to start pleading not guilty to avoid paying the fees. Which means prosecutors will face more trials.

The "abuser fees" are only for "major" infractions, and only paid by Virginia residents. The new revenue will pay for building roads, snow removal, pothole repair, and grass mowing. David Albo, one of the legislative sponsors of the bill, took New Jersey's similar fee system as a template, and called it "a voluntary tax." After all, "if you don't commit a crime ... you don't pay anything."

Thanks for the tip, Josh

[Source: Washington Post]

 

[via] Autoblog

Porsche exec says "No" to baby Cayenne, again

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According to our friends over at Motor Authority, Porsche exec Wendelin Wiedeking has officially denied the development of a cute 'ute designed to slot in below the Cayenne. This news is contrary to last month's report from Autobild that Porsche intended to share a platform with the upcoming Audi A5 and Volkswagen Tiguan, dubbing the stillborn model the "Roxster." This most recent news confirms another story reported back in May.

Wiedeking used his opportunity at the podium today to dispel the rumor and to hype the upcoming sports sedan, the Panamera. However, no word from Wiedeking about a successor to the 928 that could conceivably share a platform with the front-engine, four-door sports car.

[Source: Motor Authority]

 

[via] Autoblog

VW poised to sell 200k units in Russia

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Skoda Octavia Scout

Volkswagen is yet another car company that sees vast potential in Russia, due in part to the large quantity of low-cost automotive suppliers in the region. The automaker is targeting sales of 200,000 units per year from the home of Ivan the Terrible by 2009 or 2010, up from about 50,000 this year. VW has has put its money where its plans are, too, with a new plant in Kaluga, which sits between Moscow and St. Petersburg. The facility will eventually produce 150,000 vehicles per year, starting with the Skoda Octavia in October, followed by the Jetta and a Polo-like vehicle.

It's interesting that VW is having so much success in Europe and in emerging markets like Russia and China, yet the Wolfsburg-based company is still looking to make a similar impact in the US.

[Source: Automotive News (Subscription req'd)]

 

[via] Autoblog

Spy Shots: BMW 1-series coupe uncloaked

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BMW 135iAll off the running around chasing the upcoming BMW 1-Series has culminated in these shots of the car taken completely naked, apparently at a location where it was the subject of a photo shoot. A member of the enthusiast site 1accicts.com scored the one above, a similar rear view, and a phonecam shot of the car obviously inside the photo studio, sporting a clear-as-day "BMW 135i" identifier plate where the usual Euro license tag would go. Click the "Read" link or the photos you see here for larger versions of all three new photos over at 1addicts, and let us know what you think of the new 1 coupe. We're liking what we see, ourselves, and have to believe that when equipped with the 300-horsepower TT mill, it's going to surprise plenty of folks at stoplight grands prix.

Thanks to all who sent tips!

[Source: 1Addicts.com]

 

[via] Autoblog

Autoblog drives the Chrysler Nassau concept

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When the Chrysler Nassau concept was unveiled at the 2007 North American International Auto Show, more than a few pundits panned the premium hatch as less than desirable. For one, there aren't a lot of hatchbacks that sell for over $20,000 in the US market, and the Nassau doesn't look cheap. It's also tough for any vehicle to follow up on the success of something as popular as the current 300C, and the Nassau concept had been labeled as a possible next-generation iteration of the RWD mobster/hip-hop sedan.

While there is little doubt in our minds that the Nassau would be in a heap of trouble trying to replace the 300C, we wouldn't be surprised if such a vehicle could serve as a softer, gentler, complimentary vehicle in a future Chrysler lineup. Our opportunity to drive the Nassau was brief, but it gave us a chance to appreciate the concept from behind the wheel, and our overall opinion is fairly positive. Hit the jump to read our test drive of the Chrysler Nassau concept.

Continue reading Autoblog drives the Chrysler Nassau concept

 

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2007 Goodwood Festival of Speed: Open-wheel racers

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Here's another big gallery of pics from Goodwood. This time we're posting images of the various open-wheel racers that haven't been seen elsewhere in our galleries. Think Indy, vintage sports car, A1GP, and the like. A lot of highlights in this group: The 1933 Napier-Railton that was driven by Rowan Atkinson on Sunday, the "Blitzen Benz" that sounded like a biplane, Arie Luyendyk driving Emerson Fittipaldi's 1990 Penske-Ilmor PC-19, Sir Jackie Stewart driving the 1966 Lola-Ford T90 he drove in the 1967 Indy 500, and Al Unser, Sr. right next to him in a similar car. The most bizarre car in the group had to be the 1960 Milliken MX1 Camber Car. Driven by its 90-something designer and namesake, William Milliken, it really wowed the crowd with its 45-degree splayed motorcycle wheels. We swore it had already been pranged in the paddock when we first saw it emerge onto the track.



All photos (C) 2007 Frank Filipponio / Weblogs, Inc.

 

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Enter the rumormill: Nissan 350Z retractable hardtop

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Autoblog reader Sei tipped us off to an article over at the GT Channel that purports to have the inside scoop on the development of a prototype retractable hardtop that can be fitted to the 350Z. Autech, an arm of Nissan whose focus is on specialty vehicle conversions, has developed a system that is likely to be equipped on the next Z car - if it's deemed cost effective and can fit within the Z's pricing structure.

If certain rumblings are to be believed, the next Z could debut as early as this year's Tokyo Motor Show in October, likely a refresh rather than an outright redesign. The coupe would be shown in concept form, with sales likely to begin in 2009, and that's when we'd expect this rumor to be confirmed.

[Source: GT Channel]

 

[via] Autoblog

2007 Goodwood Festival of Speed: Endurance racers

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Group C racers were one of the featured classes at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this week. To show they appreciated it, those legendary Le Mans prototype racers made a pretty good showing. Mazda's 787B was on display, but didn't run, sadly. Being the only non-piston and only Japanese vehicle to ever win Le Mans, the 4-rotor Mazda was one of the most significant vehicles on hand. But there were plenty of other cars that did run up the hill to the delight of the crowd. There was the Rothman's Porsche 956 and 962, and the Skoal Bandit 956B, the Aston Martin Nimrod and AMR1, the Silk Cut Jaguar XJR9 and XJR12, the Peugeot 905B, Allard J2XC (heard one chap call it a Caparo), Sauber-Mercedes C11, and the Nissan R90 to name several. But it wasn't just Group C that represented the endurance racers.

Goodwood fans got to see a 'Batmobile' BMW 3.0 CSL, the 'Baby' Porsche 935, and Lancia's Beta Montecarlo Group 5, LC1 and LC2. Can Am cars like Mark Donohue's Sunoco 917/30, a twin-turbo Toyota 7 (like the one in the central Toyota display by the house), and an ex-Andretti Ferrari 712 ran alongside a Chaparral 2J sucker car (when they turned on the snowmobile sucker motors, the rooster tail was about 100 feet long in the rain!), Howmet TX (very similar to the Chaparral 2F turbine car), Ferrari 330 P3, and Gulf Porsche 917K. One of our favorite categories at the FoS this year, we also got to see some fairly modern iron here like the Toyota GT-1, Radical SR9, Porsche RS Spyder and Le Mans-winning Audi R10. These and many others were also there to make it an over-the-top experience for us. There was even a bit of unintended excitement when veteran racer Derek Bell put a wheel off into the rain-soaked grass and snapped off part of the Gulf Mirage-Ford GR7. Whoops.



All photos (C) 2007 Frank Filipponio / Weblogs, Inc.

 

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Spy Shots: '08 Impreza Outback

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We got our first official look at the redesigned 2008 Subaru Impreza back in April at the New York Auto Show. At that time we saw the standard and WRX variants and assumed that there would probably be more to come. It now appears that another shoe has dropped in the form of a new Impreza Outback model.

How well the traditional Outback two-tone treatment comes off on the new Impreza design is debatable, but we were generally more impressed with the other Imprezas in the metal than in photos so hopefully that will carry over to the Outback.

[Source: Inside Line]

 

[via] Autoblog

VIDEO: Fiat 500 Abarth tackles the 'Ring

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The video embedded after the jump's a good one. In it, we see the forthcoming Fiat 500 Abarth bombing around the Nurburgring with aplomb, and with each turn it takes, we become more envious of our friends in Europe, who are going to have first crack at the scorpion-emblazoned hot hatch. Power numbers are still a matter of speculation -- the video's producer believes that power will come from a 200-horsepower 1.6L turbo, but Carscoop hears that it's more likely to receive the 1.2L T-Jet from the Grande Punto in either 120 or 150-horsepower trim. That'll all get settled in due time. We just know that the badass-sounding little retro rocket has us praying that Fiat US-return rumors are accurate. We can't think of a better car to lead the way.

Follow the jump for the video, and watch out for a special guest appearance (what is this, The Love Boat?) by the BMW X6 mule at 2:29, as it overtakes and passes the Fiat.

[Source: YouTube via Carscoop]

Continue reading VIDEO: Fiat 500 Abarth tackles the 'Ring

 

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2007 Goodwood Festival of Speed: Other Stuff

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We've shown you a lot of the vehicles that were at the track during the Goodwood Festival of Speed this week. Our hope was to help you experience the event for yourself, in case you missed it. While there have been tons of posts and pics along the way, we barely scratched the surface of what a visitor can see and do while at the FoS. It's one of the greatest automotive events we've ever attended. Part concours, part auction, part motor show, and part hillclimb, it's like taking the Monterey week and squishing it onto one estate. We've really had a great time and would like to thank everybody who made it possible. You know who you are. We have had the opportunity to see some of our favorite cars, old and new, gathered together for us, and in many cases, driven like they were intended. Cars from the earliest days of motoring all the way up to our modern F1 cars, and just about everything in between. This will serve as our final wrapup post on Goodwood. Attached is a huge gallery of the random sightings and so-far-unmentioned vehicles that made the week so special.

In the gallery you'll see wheel-standing drag racers, rally cars, Wacky Racers, and Pike's Peak hillclimb cars. There's also a sampling of some of the cars that ran up the hill at night for the VIP ball. You'll also see a bunch of display vehicles and new cars that we don't usually see in the States. There's a few shots of people dealing with the torrential rain, including one family who finally waved the surrender flag and packed it in. Also, a couple of shots of the vehicles as they looked leaving the car park and a few shots of London in general. It's been a magical week of cars and stars, of sights and sounds, with a certain charm and elegance we haven't experienced before. A real dream come true. Hope you have enjoyed it as much as we have.



All photos (C) 2007 Frank Filipponio / Weblogs, Inc.

 

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Chrysler joins green group; Cerberus fights CAFE changes

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Chrysler group announced Wednesday that it was going green by joining United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), a group of industries working to decrease greenhouse gases to combat global warming. It's part of Chrysler's overall attempt to reduce its products' fuel use and pollution output. One of USCAP's recent pushes has been to strongly support the proposed Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) changes that would force automakers' to increase their products' fuel efficiency.

But Cerberus, the private equity firm buying 80% of the carmaker, says the proposed CAFE changes would virtually kill Chrysler by forcing it to implement expensive new technologies which would price their cars out of the market. Cerberus is part of a huge lobbying effort on Capitol Hill opposing the new standards.

In response, Market Watch quotes Chrysler spokesperson Shawn Morgan as saying "we know there will be an (CAFE) increase and we support it -- we just need to make sure it's technically feasible."

Guess that's what happens when you have a three-headed dog for boss. Makes you wonder what the third head is up to. Oh yeah, it's chasing cats.

Read Chrysler's press release about joining USCAP after the jump.

Continue reading Chrysler joins green group; Cerberus fights CAFE changes

 

[via] Autoblog

C63 AMG ready to eat M3's breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert

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It looks like Mercedes is ready get serious about handling performance matching the impressive might of its AMG engines. Autocar reports that the C63 "has been designed from the ground up to make the best of the 6.3-liter engine." To do so, the C-Class Crusher will take elements from the CLK63 Black Series, including portions of the car's front subframe. It will also get the Advanced Agility Package, which creates a "Sport" mode and supposedly the kind of backroad manners that Mercedes hasn't been known for. An exact horsepower number for the car has been hard to come by -- Mercedes wants to demonstrably outdo the competition, without intruding on the E63. Or that's been the story up to now. We reported earlier that the hp number would be 450, but Autocar says, achtung!, 500 bhp. That's only 7 shy of the much more expensive E63. If that's true, Mercedes will have to do something grand with it's middle-rung monster, which mean good times ahead. As for the C, with the new M3 to be offered as a wagon, you'll also have the option to get a hauler-version C63. Still, it's too bad that all versions will only come in automatic.

Thanks for the tip, PD

[Source: Autocar]

 

[via] Autoblog

Honda Accord junket set for Boston, on decaying pile of garbage

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Spectacle Island in Boston Harbor has a name it has truly earned. During a hundred-year-span, a list of its illustrious tenants includes a brothel, a horse rendering plant, a grease reclamation plant, and then tons and tons of Boston garbage dumped there over thirty years. The dumping ended when an entire bulldozer disappeared into the muck. When the city decided to stop dumping, the only thing that happened on the island was the seepage of "thousands of gallons of eroding material into the surrounding water..." A long way from the Tea Party, eh?

That's good enough for Honda, though. The company is hosting its 2008 Accord junket in Boston and on the island. It's a novel choice -- for the obvious reason -- but also because, as the invited NY Times writer mentions, Boston is so ... pedestrian, shall we say ... compared to the usual locales that host such events, which usually feature far more pina coladas than potholes. Good on you, Honda, and good luck to you, Mr. Dyer.

(FYI, Spectacle looks all right for what was recently a rotting heap of compost. After spending what must have been entire landmasses of money, Spectacle now houses "a 120-acre park, with a new pier, marina, a visitor center, two public beaches, and five miles of walking trails.")

[Source: New York Times]

 

[via] Autoblog

Volvo says it won't be building in North America

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There have been periodic rumors of a United States assembly plant for Volvo cars since at least the early 1980s. There was a North American construction arm of the Swedish carmaker, situated in Nova Scotia, but that plant has been shuttered for several years now. Volvo CEO Fredrik Arp has told Automotive News that an American plant would take an unacceptably long time to pay for itself, according to the automaker's studies. A weak dollar doesn't help the economic argument for a plant in the States, either. Volvo can currently handle its goal of 600,000 units worldwide, which they have yet to meet. Current plant capacity is good for 590,000 vehicles, so it goes building any new plants, Volvo would be wise to fully utilize its current capacity. The automaker is looking to markets other than North America to drive growth in the coming years -- China, India and Russia all look to be emerging soon as major Volvo buyers.

Arp would not be pressed regarding rumors of Volvo being put up for sale by parent Ford, but he did comment that the historically green-minded automaker has its finger on the pulse of viable alternative powertrains for the US market. Diesels and alternative fuels are big in Europe, but Volvo's not going to just forge ahead in the US with those technologies. Rather, what they intend to do is watch and see what green platform takes off here, and follow on quickly with their own version of whatever that turns out to be. Volvo is too much of a niche player in the US market to risk developing something that may be met with a yawn by the US consumer. Up for sale or not, it looks like Gothenburg's Rollers have their eyes on the brass ring.

[Source: Automotive News - sub req]


http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070626/ANE01/70626009/1116/rss03&rssfeed=rss03

 

[via] Autoblog

Letting off some steam: vapor-powered car goes for land speed record

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A British team is out to demolish the land speed records for a steam powered vehicle in both the kilometer and the mile. The records are 121.6 mp for the kilo, set in 1906, and an unofficial 145.6 mph for the mile, set in 1985. As if using tap water to go stupid fast wasn't cool enough, they're doing it in a vehicle straight out of Buck Rogers' garage. The chief designer worked on both the Thrust 2 Jet Car and the ThrustSSC. The "car" in question is made of aluminum and carbon composites sitting a tubular steel frame. Out back, there's a two-stage, LPG-fired Curtis-type steam turbine fed by four boilers. Total output is only 325 bhp, but the team expects to break 200 mph using an output shaft gear ratio of 5:1. No word on whether Peter Gabriel is providing the official theme song.

Thanks for the tip, sr20boston

[Source: Steam Car]

 

[via] Autoblog

Yippie-Kai-UKay! Brits get Die Hard 4.0-edition Nissan Navara

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Click image to enlarge

In one of the odder cross-promotional efforts of the summer, Nissan UK is releasing a Die Hard 4.0 edition of its Navara pickup truck. (The Navara is the Frontier here in the US.) It's a limited run of 444 trucks, and most of the equipment they feature is regular stuff available on existing Navara models. The special-edition extras are a numbered tailgate badge, logo-emblazoned floormats, a polished roll bar, and a Die Hard 4.0 graphic on the doors (cringe). Three colors are available, and a separate Die Hard 4.0 accessory package will be available to buyers of non-DH4.0-edition Navara trucks. Full details in the Nissan press release after the jump.

[Source: Nissan UK]

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Will Dodge's marketing push in Japan work?

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The Japanese sure do love all things American, so it only makes sense that possibly the most stereotypically American automotive brand, Dodge, would do well in the Land of the Rising Sun. But since Chrysler pulled out of Japan back in 2002, its been up to independent importers to keep the brand alive there. Now Dodge will roar back onto Japanese streets with full manufacturer backing.

Japanese car shoppers can choose between the Caliber, Nitro, Avenger and the tire-shredding Charger SRT8. While we can see the appeal of the Nitro and Charger, the Caliber and Avenger are up against some tough homegrown competition over there. Dodge knows it, too, with DaimlerChrysler Japan CEO and President Hans Tempel declining to give specific sales targets for any of the cars.

The Nitro and Charger (especially the Charger) are iconic American steel, with masculine features and, in the case of the SRT8, over-the-top horsepower. So, yeah, despite a $26K starting price on the Nitro and a $52k tag on the Charger, they should be at least moderate successes. The Caliber starts at a relatively cheap $21k but isn't bringing much but odd styling to the game (not necessarily a bad thing in Japan), while the Avenger at a minimum $33k doesn't even have that going for it.

[Source: Auto Observer]

 

[via] Autoblog

That was quick! Official information on BMW's 1-series coupe

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BMW 1-series Coupe While the blogosphere was busy covering the latest batch of spy shots of Bimmer's new 1-Series coupe, BMW UK went and posted official details on its version of the car, which will arrive in November as the 120d, 123d, and 135i. We'll get to the two diesels (which we won't see here, in all likelihood) in a moment. The official rundown on the BMW 135i Coupe goes like this: 306 horsepower, 295 lb-ft from 1,300 - 5,000 rpm, Zero to 62 mph in 5.3 sec, and a 155 mph top speed. Fuel economy is rated at over 25 mpg (US) in the European combined cycle.

As for the diesels, they sound pretty good, too -- particularly the 123d, which benefits from BMW's Efficient Dynamics program (Stop/Start, brake regeneration, active aero, etc). In addition to being rated at over 44 mpg (US) in the combined cycle. the 123d is gutsy. Its twin-turbocharged 1998cc diesel four-cylinder makes 204 horses -- that's over 100 hp/liter. The run to sixty takes 7 seconds and it tops out at 148 mph. The entry-level 120d also gets the Efficient Dynamics tech, but makes 177 horses. It's performance is a slight downgrade from the 123d (.6 seconds longer to 60 mph) but it beats it in fuel economy.

Want to read more? It's all there in black and white at BMW UK. Check it out.

Nice tip, Sjo!

[Source: BMW UK]

 

[via] Autoblog

Tunage: Edo Shark 911 Turbo

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Click image for photo gallery

Not long ago Edo unveiled its 996 Turbo conversion kit. A couple of months later, and they've realized that that was so ... 996. Now it's time for their 997 Turbo package, called simply, "Shark." Horsepower goes from 480 to 550, and torque gets twisted up to 460 lb-ft to 583. Top speed is claimed to be around 210 mph. Outside, the package is rather understated, but of course we're talking about a car that looks half aftermarket when it leaves the factory. An altered front valance and front lip, a revised rear spoiler, and quad pipes are about it. If you don't include "edo competition" written on the sides, that is. We don't know how much the upgrade costs, but if you're spending what we're sure is "that kind of money," you could always get 20 more hp and 8 more lb-ft with Rinspeed's white Turbo number.

[Source: Edo Competition]

Gallery: Edo 997 Shark

 

[via] Autoblog