Sheriff of Nottingham and crew crack down on fast cars

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The County Court of Nottingham, England has decreed that Thou Shalt Not Congregate With Thine Automobiles. Or something like that. The authorities wanted to halt bad drivers and the ferocious noise of fast car owners racing through the streets, and found it easiest to simply ban any kind of gathering. From now until June 2009, the county forbids "five or more motor vehicles from congregating together, driving in convoy or racing each other on the highway." If they catch you in convoy, you'll be fined and spend two years in the tower, or whatever they use for jails in Nottingham. The police will be watching the county's closed-circuit TVs to make sure the law isn't flouted, and as an example, they impounded a motorcycle that three kids were taking turns riding.

Is there no Robin Hood among the people who will rise up against the evil Sheriff of Nottingham? If not, we suppose we could lend you Kevin Costner, but we want him back at the end of the month for a Field of Dreams sequel.

Thanks for the tip, Jay!

[Source: The Newspaper]

 

[via] Autoblog

Mercedes Benz dropping the A-class?

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Mercedes' pint-sized A-class hatch, the premium brand's first front-wheel-drive model, could be a thing of the past if news from Germany's WirtschaftsWoche proves to be true. The business weekly reports that DaimlerChrysler is planning to drop the A-class after the current model reaches the end of its lifecycle in 2011. The only word from Mercedes is that it's purely speculation and that the A-class hasn't been a failure, managing to find the homes of more than 1.5 million buyers since its introduction in 1997.

Focus now seems to be on the new B-class, which is also due for replacement in 2011. Back in May, Mercedes' US Chief Ernst Lieb told reporters that the next-gen B-class was under consideration for US importation. The new model's underpinnings will likely be shared with the recently revealed C-class to improve quality levels and exploit economies of scale. It would also mean the next B-class would feature a RWD chassis and more powerful engine options. The only problem for Mercedes now is whether or not it could market a car in the US positioned below the C-class and still remain profitable.

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req.]

 

[via] Autoblog

Honda to enter $3k segment, too

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There isn't a major carmaker in the world today that wouldn't want a piece of the action in India's rapidly growing car market, namely its compact car segment. One car company that's favorably positioned to capitalize on the Indian market is Honda, which is already one of the country's largest manufacturers of cars and motorbikes.

Honda chairman Satoshi Aoki has revealed that there are plans to launch a premium small car in India by 2009 as well as an ultra-cheap minicar that would cost under US $3,000. Originally under consideration were the small Fit (pictured above) and City models, but these cost upwards of $9,000, three-times as much as Honda was aiming for its new budget model.

Aoki admits it would be difficult to build a car that retains 'Honda characteristics' for that kind of money and that the original plans have now been shelved. "Personally I would be surprised to see such a vehicle," Aoki revealed. This now puts doubt on claims from Renault-Nissan and India's Tata Motors that they'll introduce their own sub-$3,000 cars by the end of the decade.

[Source: India Times]

 

[via] Autoblog

Video in the FastLane: Lutz goes on tape to answer an oft-asked question

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Looking like a talk show host running through his mailbag, Bob Lutz answers one question that readers have repeatedly asked: "what's up with all the concept cars that never go into production?" His answer touches on the Buick Velite and Centieme, Chevy Bel-Air, Volt, Cadillac Sixteen, public image, alternative energy, and he boasts that GM is possibly the best carmaker in the world at putting concept cars into production. It's 3:09 of no-nonsense Lutz. Click the "Read" link to watch.

[Source: FastLane]

 

[via] Autoblog

Belgian dealer axes Brilliance BS6

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Brilliance BS6

Brilliance BS6The first reported dumping of the Brilliance BS6 has taken place in Belgium, where dealer Karel Cardoen has halted sales of the car in the wake of its horrifying crash test conducted by Germany's ADAC. In perhaps the understatement of the year, Automotive News Europe quotes Cardonen as saying, "We don't think this car is good to sell in Europe."

The BS6, for those of you new to the story, is a Chinese luxury sedan and recent arrival into the European automobile market. It recently flunked the ADAC crash tests in spectacular fashion, and In the wake of that fiasco, the automaker said that it didn't feel the poor crash results would have a negative impact on sales.

So much for that. Cardoen's dealership was one of just three that were offering the car to European customers. The remaining two are both in Germany. Cardoen said he'll reconsider his position if the safety of the car improves.

[Source: Automotive News Europe (sub req'd)]

Continue reading Belgian dealer axes Brilliance BS6

 

[via] Autoblog

Ford's "Twin-Force" powering towards production

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At Ford's 2008 model year introduction event, group vice president for global product development Derek Kuzak mentioned that the same Twin-Force technology the Blue Oval unveiled at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show in the MKR concept will soon be available on production models. Even better, Kuzak says the twin boost will result in fuel efficiency on par with comparably sized diesels. Ford has more powertrain plans, too, as the folks from Dearborn, MI usher in the best of 2003 with a manual-mode "Power Shift" automatic transmission, and multiple displacement V8s.

Ford has been playing catch-up in the competitive powertrain department for years, and these new technologies will go a long way toward Ford leveling the playing field. The Twin-Force technology in particular seems very exciting, with high horsepower and above average fuel economy promised. We'll believe the diesel-like fuel economy claim when we see it, though, since diesels come with turbochargers too, and oil burners are just more efficient than gasoline powertrains.

[Source: Automotive News - sub. req'd]

 

[via] Autoblog

End of the road for $25,000 luxury SUV tax loophole

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Small business owners in the market for a new HUMMER or Cadillac Escalade can enjoy up to a $25,000 tax deduction because of a loophole that affects all vehicles weighing over 6,000 pounds. However, the opportunity might not be around for long if Congress members led by Oregon's Earl Blumenauer are able to pass a bill that's expected to be voted on by the House of Reps next month.

Under the new proposal, provisions for legitimate business use will remain, such as discounts for farm vehicles, vans, flatbed trucks and school buses. The original provision in the tax code was to aid farmers and small business owners purchasing heavy work vehicles to recover some of their costs, but this was before popularity of overweight luxury SUVs became widespread. Now the loophole is providing a tax break for small business owners wanting to purchase a luxury vehicle.

Understandably, carmakers and dealers are strongly opposed to any changes, regarding the new proposal as a tax increase for small business owners.

[Source: ABC News]

 

[via] Autoblog

TechArt releases new shots of the GTstreet

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There's nothing really new to report about TechArt's awesome Porsche 911 Turbo-based GTstreet. The good stuff all remains exactly as originally reported in the runup to the Geneva Motor Show. Tucked into the car's rump is a modified 3.6L twin-turbocharged flat six dishing out a reasonably healthy 630 horsepower and 604 lb-ft of torque. That's more equine propulsion than the mighty Carrera GT, and as you can see above, you can get it in green. We dig the matching stripes on the wheel rims, too. In fact, based on everything we've seen so far, there's really not a whole lot not to like about the GTstreet. 60 mph arrives in a scant 3.2 seconds, and when equipped with the full aero kit shown, the top speed is a manufacturer-claimed 214 mph. Very impressive, to say the least.

Updated photos have been added to the attached gallery.

[Source: TechArt]

 

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Guessing Game: AMG website hints at impending new model

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Those octane junkies in Affalterbach never seem to tire of developing new, more powerful engines and shoehorning them into everything with four wheels and a three-pointed star. The Mercedes AMG website is featuring a cryptic bit of flash animation that shows the back end of an unknown new product speeding through a haze, accompanied by the caption that reads, "In July... the fog lifts." Hey, wait a minute... July... that's this month!

The indication that Benz' in-house tuning division is preparing, in short order, to release a new model naturally leads to speculation over just what that new model might be. One definite possibility could be the impending AMG version of the newly-released C-Class, on which spy shots and information have been trickling in of late. Aside from a C63 AMG, we can speculate based on AMG's current line-up of fire-snorting models, which places the division's latest 6.3-liter V8 in every Mercedes model except for three: the G-Class SUV, the outgoing C-Class wagon, and the SLK roadster, all of which still use the outgoing 5.5-liter engine.

Thanks for the tip everyone!

[Source: Mercedes AMG via eMercedes-Benz]

Continue reading Guessing Game: AMG website hints at impending new model

 

[via] Autoblog

Ford offering 0% APR financing on all 2007 Mustangs, including Shelbys

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Yes, you read that headline correctly. It seems that Ford's offering 0% APR financing over 36 months on all new 2007 Mustang purchases (from dealer stock) through July 9, 2007. The tip came in via a California Ford dealer, and a quick visit to the Ford Direct website confirmed what his email said.

The reason this seemed worth mentioning is that we almost never hear of deals like this on desirable cars like the Mustang, particularly the higher-end GT models and up. From what we see on the website, it applies to the 2007 Mustang V6, Mustang GT, Shelby GT, and Shelby GT500. Lately, the only promos we've been seeing on TV, etc. focus on deals related to the V6es with the Pony Package, etc. The 0% deal that's been available since June 28 was completely off our radar screens until now.

If you're in the market and can swing a 3-year deal, this might be worth looking into, particularly if you're shopping for a V8 Mustang. Don't expect any favors from dealers when it comes to Shelby pricing, though.

[Source: Ford]

 

[via] Autoblog

Middle-East investment funds vying for Jaguar and Land Rover

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The latest companies tipped to be interested in buying Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford is Middle-Eastern investment funds Dubai International Capital and Abu Dhabi's Mubadala Development Company (MDC). According to the UK's Observer newspaper, both investment funds have ordered financial advisers to prepare a proposal for one or both of the carmakers. An official from MDC has since denied the claims, and there's still no word from the other investment firm or Ford.

The report also claimed that the deal could be worth up to $6 billion and that British unions would prefer the investments funds to take over rather than private equity groups because of fears of job security. It was revealed earlier that private equity firms Cerberus, Blackstone and Bank One Corporation were also interested in the sale, the latter with former Ford CEO Jacques Nasser as a senior partner.

Just last week, Ford's president for the Americas Mark Fields told reporters that Ford was "continuing to evaluate everything" in regards to the impending sale, which means it's likely to become a very drawn out affair.

[Source: MSNBC]

 

[via] Autoblog

RetroVette: Castagna Aznom unveiled

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click above image for more pics of the Castagna Milano

One of the most exciting recent developments in the industry, by this writer's account at least, is the re-emergence of the coachbuilding industry. Cars like the Fisker Latigo and Zagato Ferrari 575 GTZ have heralded a revival of the long-lost segment that inherently gives birth to some of the most unique automobiles on the road. It was only a matter of time until the Italians picked up where they left off by crafting unique Corvette-based sportscars.

Italian coachbuilder Castagna Milano, originally founded way back in the 1850s and revived in the 1990s, has created a number of bespoke models, including the Imperial Landaulet concept and a slew of custom Minis. The carrozzeria's latest offering, the Castagna Aznom, was previewed in skeletal form back in April at Monaco's Top Marques show, and the firm has now released further details and images.

Based on the Corvette Z06, the Aznom also draws on retro Corvette styling elements, blended with thoroughly modern design features to create a heart-stopping supercar. The egg-crate grille is drawn from the original '53 Vette, slab-sided flanks from the '58 Stingray and fenders from the '56 SR-2 Sebring race car. On the contemporary side of things, LED rear lights, retracting rear wing, three-section rear diffuser and F1-style fender-mounted carbon-fiber wing mirrors round out the design. Those sharp five-spoke wheels measure 20 inches, shod in 285/30 and 335/30 Pirelli PZero rubber front and rear respectively, housing 356mm cross-drilled discs with six-pot calipers fore and 340mm discs with 4-pot calipers aft. The cockpit even features a Google Earth-powered sat-nav system.

Whether you love or hate the unique styling, the Aznom has the "go" to back up the "show". Castagna has thoroughly massaged the Z06's 7-liter V8 from 500 horsepower to a whopping 750, and with the use of carbon fiber, aluminum and magnesium bodywork, has trimmed the weight down to 1,400 kg. With that magical formula of more power and less weight, the carrozzeria puts the performance figures at 0-60 in a scant 3.4 seconds on its way to a claimed top speed of 217 mph.

[Source: Italiaspeed]


 

[via] Autoblog

Latest: Alfa Romeo to produce 8C Spider in 2008

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Following the initial confirmation from Alfa Romeo that the drop-dead-sell-my-soul-and-both-kidneys-gorgeous 8C Competizione was going into production, however limited, the temporarily satiated hearts and minds of Italian sportscar fans (and really, who isn't a fan of Italian sportscars?) turned to the next obvious question: what about its equally jaw-dropping open-aired sister, the 8C Spider? We've been patiently awaiting any indication from the Milanese automaker, and the latest reports suggest that Alfa will indeed produce a limited run of the rolling piece of alfresco art.

Italian automotive publication Quattroroute claims that the 8C Spider will begin rolling out of the factory at the end of next year. Like the instantly sold-out fixed-roof version, only 500 examples will be produced, with a corresponding price increase to €180,000.

So, seriously...anyone interested in buying a kidney?

[Source: Quattroroute via Motorpasion]

 

[via] Autoblog

eBay Find of the Day: Corvette supercar prototype

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click above image for more pics of the 1992 Marocco II Corvette Prototype Supercar

What you see above is the original 1992 Marocco II Corvette Prototype Supercar. What is that? We're not exactly sure. Even though the eBay seller has plenty of magazine articles pictured, information is thin on the ground for this car. It apparently went for $156,564 in 1992, which is about $123,000 above the purchase price of a Corvette at the time. What you got for your money (and still will) is an optioned up C4 with a Superblock 350 CI engine that puts out 500 hp and 500 ft-lbs. Not only does the seller claim the car does 0-60 in 3.9 seconds, it does the quarter in 11.6 seconds, tops 200 mph, gets 29 mpg on the highway, and has near zero emissions. That's right, near zero -- at least, according to the hydrocarbon test it took in New Jersey in 1993. And then there's the bodywork, which, well, doesn't suit us, but it is original. And it is one of a kind. $250,000 gets you into the action.

Thanks for the tip, Mike!

[Source: eBay]


 

[via] Autoblog

Porsche Cayenne, Panamera getting hybrid power

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Automakers and legislators in Europe are tightening the screws on CO2 emissions, and Porsche may turn to hybrid powertrains for the Cayenne and Panamera to meet a proposed 130 gram per kilometer limit. Bosch and Audi are reported partners in the effort to bring a gasoline/electric system to the Cayenne before 2010, with the Panamera falling in line, as well. While hybrid technology is typically used to boost fuel economy, the V8 and large vehicle size of the Porsche models are anathema to the studied aero shape of the Insight or Prius, and we doubt that Porsche has misgivings about the unbelievably strong torque delivery of an electric motor. You'll still be able to rocket around in your Wessiach thumper, but Porsche has got its eye on that 130g/kg CO2 target. If it becomes mandatory, the hybrid powertrain is a good hedge at being ready. In the meantime, Porsche is promoting a percentage reduction in CO2, rather than a blanket number for all vehicles.

[Source: Car]

 

[via] Autoblog

Two-Wheel EV whizzer: The evDaytona electric motorcycle

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GoWheel brings you an electric motorbike that's going to cost you some money, but it looks and goes just like the real thing. Almost. Starting with a Triumph Daytona, the folks at Go replace the inline DOHC 3-cylinder with a li-ion battery pack that adds 100-190 pounds depending on how many batteries you want. The bike still gets to 60 in 2.9 seconds, and will cruise at 93 mph for 143 highway miles or 49 miles of hard street use. As this whole electric thing gathers steam -- no pun intended -- it's nice to see more and more rides that look like their fire-powered equivalents. But for now, there are always caveats: the bike isn't DOT approved, and it sports an enormous Plexiglas fairing to improve aero efficiency that looks more like a giant shield. And one more thing -- if the bike ever gets made, it will cost you $77,000 to ride in silence.

[Source: Motorbiker via Engadget]

 

[via] Autoblog

VW crafts a bitchin' race camper

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Click image for photo gallery

The Volkswagen Van Centre in the Welsh city of Cardiff has created a very cool custom weekend race camper for motorcycle and/or ATV riders. Using a Euro-market long-wheelbase, high-roofed VW Crafter panel van as the basis, they've created an all-in-one race home that combines a garage fit for two bikes or one four-wheeler with a usable living space for its riders. On race day, an awning can be extended out from the side of the vehicle to provide additional shelter. The accommodations aren't exactly spartan, either, as the rig includes a kitchen, two double-beds, and a bathroom with shower. Neat! Complete details on the Crafter Race Home are in the release from VW, which is pasted after the jump.

[Source: Volkswagen]

Continue reading VW crafts a bitchin' race camper

 

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[via] Autoblog

Citroën C-Crosser could lead to more French-branded, Mitsu-sourced 4WDs

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Click image for photo gallery

We've covered the adventures in rebadging undertaken by PSA Peugeot Citroen with the forthcoming Mitsubishi Outlander clones, the Peugeot 4007 and Citroën C-Crosser. The 4007 is homely-looking, but the Citroën's visual transformation fares much better. In the UK, it appears to have connected with Citroën dealers, who have bought up the full 2007 allotment of the cars.

If car buyers show the same level of confidence in the French-branded SUVs as the dealers have shown in stocking up on them, it could pave the way for more interesting vehicles out of the Franco-Japanese joint venture. Industry resource Just-Auto reports that one possibility could be a Peugeot/Citroën-branded "lifestyle pick-up" based on the Mitsubishi L200, which has seen some success in the UK market already. The idea would be to leverage Mitsubishi's 4WD expertise to offer something very different from PSA's traditional passenger vehicle lineup. The C-Crosser and 4007 are the automaker's first SUVs.

[Source: Just-Auto - sub. req'd]

 

[via] Autoblog

Spy Shots: 2008 Honda Accord V6 in production trim

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Jalopnik brought us a few nice shots of the 2008 Accord coupe and sedan last week, and they do it again with some better shots of the cars' V6 badging, lower rear bumper assembly and overall BMW-like profile.

Though not a radical new design direction for Honda, it's a handsomely-done Camry competitor that should age well.

[Source: Jalopnik]

 

[via] Autoblog

Jefferson North plant being prepared for next-gen unibody Durango/Grand Cherokee

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Production of the next generation Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen will apparently be moving from New Jersey to Detroit alongside the Jeep Grand Cherokee at Chrysler's Jefferson North Assembly Plant. The new models are expected by the end of 2009 and preliminary work has begun to reconfigure the plant to accommodate them. The Durango/Aspen will evidently share a platform with the Grand Cherokee, while the absence of the soon-to-be-cancelled Commander will free up plenty of space at the Jefferson North plant for all three models, and possibly the yet-to-be-named JC49 crossover.

Since other SUVs like the Explorer are moving away from body-on-frame designs, it seems probable that all the Chrysler models will use the next generation of the Grand Cherokees unit-body platform. If the Durango/Aspen move to a new platform at the end of the 2009, that would mean a very short run for the hybrid versions of those vehicles, which are due out in the second half of 2008.

[Source: Detroit Free Press]

 

[via] Autoblog

Chameleon A8 - an Audi that drives like an Elise, GTI, Getz and E-Class!

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Audi has seen the future, and the future is exciting; at least in Ingolstadt. Engineers at Audi have cooked up the automotive equivalent of the Focusrite Liquid Mix. An A8L has been pressed into service as the basis for Audi's emulator, having been modified with extra hydraulics, an active steering system and hardware to steer the rear wheels, as well. Dubbed HORST, for Handling Online Research Simulation Tool, the car was initially developed to ape the dynamic responses of an E-Class Benz. More cars have been added as "presets," and engineers can switch from a range of vehicles, including a VW GTI, a Lotus Elise, even a Hyundai Getz, all at the behest of a laptop.

[Source: Auto Express]

Continue reading Chameleon A8 - an Audi that drives like an Elise, GTI, Getz and E-Class!

 

[via] Autoblog