Spy Shots: First look at production VW Scirocco!

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click above image to view many more spy shots of the VW Scirocco

After going back and forth on whether or not it will be offering the upcoming Scirocco hatchback in the U.S., Volkswagen still appears to be up in the air on the matter. These spy shots taken by KGP Photography in the deserts of California further confuse things. They are the first shots of an actual Scirocco prototype, not a Golf-bodied development mule.

Despite the front and rear ends being covered, it's easy to see that the production Scirocco will retain much of the style previewed on the IROC Concept last fall. It's clearly much lower than the Golf hatchback, with a cab-forward type greenhouse and short hood. It has a low-slung look, almost like the last-gen Honda Civic Si hatchback, but even lower and wider. The face, though obscured, also appears to sport a honeycomb grille almost identical to the one on the IROC Concept.

So will it come to the U.S. or won't it? We don't know, but we're hoping this prototype's presence in California is a good sign.

Feel free to link to this post, though we ask that you not republish these images elsewhere. Thank you.

[Photos: KGP Photography]

 

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VIDEO: Goodwood - The motorbikes

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Click above for motorbike gallery from Goodwood


The video camera we had with us at Goodwood was put to good use. This clip shows a few of the motorbikes that made runs up the hill. Straight-long wheelies and a vintage Norton are then followed by some acrobatics. Chris Pfeiffer amazed everyone with his bike and body control all weekend. Here's a small sample. Follow the jump for the YouTube clip produced and posted by our buddy over at SoCalSpeedZone. And if you haven't seen them yet, don't forget to check out our galleries from this year's Festival of Speed.

Thanks, Duane!

Continue reading VIDEO: Goodwood - The motorbikes

 

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Jack Odell (1920 - 2007) - Creator of the Matchbox car

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Matchbox/Lensey D-Type jaguarMatchbox cars. We collected them. We played with them. We loved them. Heck, a lot of us still do. And over the weekend, the man responsible for making these simple, inexpensive pleasures a reality passed away. Jack Odell was 87 years old.

The inspiration for the Matchbox car came after he created a miniature toy steamroller that fit inside an actual matchbox for his daughter. Odell was co-owner of Lensey Products, which subsequently began manufacturing and selling the miniature toys to the public, and the rest is history. Many of our fondest childhood memories can ultimately be traced back to Mr. Odell's creation. We are eternally grateful, and may he rest in peace.

[Source: Wall Street Journal via Telstar Logistics via Jalopnik]

 

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All about Audi: Every 2008 US model and alteration

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Audi of America yesterday released details of its full lineup of 2008 models, along with the changes that will accompany them. The details include the fact that the A4 and A6 series will get the S-Line treatment as standard. There are also two new packages, Titanium and Audi Exclusive, with which to deck out the cars. Click through the jump to read the press release, which also recaps (but doesn't have much new to say) on the 300 S4 Cabriolets that will come to the US, and the S5.

Continue reading All about Audi: Every 2008 US model and alteration

 

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Rendered Speculation: BMW X6

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Believe it or not, BMW is developing a third SUV model - this time a coupe-crossover that will be manufactured at its Spartanburg plant alongside the X5 and next-gen X3 SUVs. The new model, which will pick up 'X6' badging, will share its running gear with the X5 but will feature a chopped profile and lowered suspension.

UK's CAR Online has a series of spy images of what it calls the new SAC or Sports Activity Coupe, including some of the best artist impressions we've come across. The renderings show what appears to be a much sleeker version of the X5 with a sloping coupe-style roofline, a Concept CS-inspired front bumper and a squared off tail-end.

The low profile rules out any possibility of third-row seating, and according to CAR there'll only be enough seats for four with an optional jumper seat for a fifth passenger. Expect the full gamut of BMW electronic gadgets and gizmos to feature in the X6, including the latest iDrive, Efficient Dynamics fuel saving technology and Adaptive Drive suspension mods.

[Source: Car Magazine]

 

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Spyker C12 Zagato delayed

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The Spyker C12 Zagato, introduced during the same burst of fanfare that followed Spyker's acquisition of an F1 team, has been put on hold. Only 24 are slated to be made, and only for existing Spyker customers, but Spyker simply doesn't have the production capacity at the moment. Right now, the company has enough to deal with getting its backlog of current and coming models made, at the same time working to shore up its finances. According to the Auto Telegraaf, the company will be posting a large loss this year, the F1 team is having trouble with sponsors, and company shareholders are bickering. Not that we would necessarily spend $700K on one, but we would think it a shame if the C12 Zagato was crushed by market forces.

[Source: Motor Authority]


 

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Muscle Car Machete? Fusion by SOG Muscle Car Knife

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click above image to view a high-res gallery of the Fusion Muscle Car Knife

Upon first seeing the Fusion Muscle Car Knife by SOG, we instantly thought of Jr., Senior and Mikey Teutul from the Discovery Channel show American Chopper. Off the top of our heads we can remember Orange County Chopper building theme bikes for Intel, the Yankees, the movie Eragon, CAT, Gillete, LUGZ, Lincoln... the list goes on and on (you can actually see the entire list on the show's wikipedia page).

We've become so accustomed to themed bikes from the OC, a themed knife hardly requires a stretch of the imagination. SOG made sure to target our passion, as well, by choosing Muscle Cars as the theme of its newest knife, aptly named the Fusion Muscle Car Knife. Just like a Tuetul bike, the Muscle Car Knife features all sorts of details that link this blade with all manner of Muscle Era metal. Check out the wheel that turns when the knife is open and closed, as well as the fan belt and pulley array on the opposite side. There's custom racing stripes, an exhaust pipe, hood latch and license plate on the blade itself, a gear shifter clip and headlights (truth be told, we couldn't find what was supposed to represent the headlights, let us know if you do).

Unlike a bike built by Orange County Choppers, however, there's more than just one of the Fusion Muscle Car Knife and they're available to buy for an MSRP of $40 from the company's website.

[Source: FusionKnives.com]

 

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It's Dodge Nitro vs. dog in "shocking" new viral

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The Dodge Nitro may not be flying off dealer lots right now, but at least the mid-size SUV's advertising campaign has taken on a life of its own. You probably remember the commercial in which the owner of a Nitro gives a motorist a jump, only to blow his car sky-high. Someone has cooked up a viral spot in which a dog that tries to do his business on a hydrant-red Nitro, but winds up getting the (last) shock of its life. PETA members can't be pleased, but it's just a commercial (a European one, based on that front license tag). Check it out after the jump, unless you've recently lost a pet. Especially to an angry Nitro that shoots Force lightning.

[Source: YouTube]

Thanks for the tip, Paul!

Continue reading It's Dodge Nitro vs. dog in "shocking" new viral

 

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Reader Ride returns next week

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We're a mere five days away from relaunching our Reader Ride feature, and by the looks of it so far, we're off to a cracking start. We've amassed over 30 new members in our Flickr pool, with many accompanying their pics with a detailed explanation of where the car is from, its history and what mods have been performed -- others, not so much. There are several rides floating around the pool that are begging to be chosen (we're talking to the owners of the Audi S2, 911 Targa, and VW Corrado, specifically), but will remain unloved until we get at least one descriptive sentence.

As for the the RR format, we've decided to highlight three vehicles per week, posting one on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with a vote at the end of the month that allows you to pick your favorite from the group. We think it will work, and we've got faith that the submissions will continue to flow in.

That said, if you haven't done so already, follow the directions after the jump to throw your own ride into our Flickr pool. All we need are three photos and a brief description of the car, and you're whip is almost guaranteed its 15-minutes of fame -- or infamy.

Continue reading Reader Ride returns next week

 

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AC Schnitzer does up the new MINI

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Click image for hi-res photo gallery

Longtime BMW performance specialist AC Schnitzer has turned its attention to the new R56 MINI Cooper S, and the result is the blue bomber pictured above. The big upgrade is the available Nordschelife-developed racing suspension (which can be combined with a separately-available spring kit) that takes the already athletic MINI and elevates it to new dynamic levels. AC Schnitzer can also improve the car's breathing on the exhalation side via a new sports muffler with a chromed double-tip. Visually, a host of appearance upgrades are on the table, with new skirting, spoilers, and a decal/stripe package available to owners, all of which add a decidedly racy look to the diminutive hatchback. Drivers can cap things off with a selection of alloy wheels and interior trim enhancements that allow additional personalization to taste.

[Source: AC Schnitzer]

 

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BMW developing its own MINI-car

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MotorAuthority is reporting that BMW is developing its own microcar based on the MINI Cooper platform. With competitors from Audi and Volkswagen on the way, it's said that BMW wants a piece of the action. A new entry-level BMW could see production as early as 2010 if the reports are correct. If the new microcar indeed uses the MINI platform and powertrains, it seems reasonable that it could appear even sooner. One has to wonder, however, if concerns of cannibalizing MINI sales will ultimately torpedo this project.

One compelling reason to support the project, however, is the impending CO2 limits that could be imposed on automakers if European Union legislation takes effect. A tiny, low-emission model could help BMW earn some credits for its top-of-the-line V8 and V12 models. Manufacturers like Mercedes, Audi and BMW haven't really had much of a presence in this end of the market until recently, at least not in their U.S. offerings, but with new environmental concerns, all appear to be making a move into the sector. Consider the Audi A1 or M-B A-Class, which were often seen as being too expensive for their content, or too cheap for their respective brand images. But buyers are getting more sophisticated and with the green movement and elevated gas prices, they are also looking for luxury in all auto categories.

[Source: MotorAuthority]

 

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Ferrari reveals F430 Scuderia, not Challenge Stradale

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click above image to view high-res gallery of the Ferrari F430 Scuderia

Unfortunately for Noah or Frank, Ferrari has gone and revealed the new F430 Scuderia when neither are around, so it's up to me to convey how fantabulous this new Prancing Horse is to you. We've been following for some time what we thought would be called the new F430 Challenge Stradale, but Ferrari has instead decided to name it the F430 Scuderia. Regardless of what it's called, this new F430 joins the coupe and spyder, yet takes a decidedly harder, more track-oriented edge than its siblings. The car weighs around 100kg (220 lbs.) less than the standard F430 coupe, and its version of Ferrari's 4.3L V8 produces 510 horsepower instead of 483. That gives the Scuderia a frightening low power-to-weight ration of 1 horsepower for every 5.4 lbs.

The new F430 also Scuderia promises to carry a lot of trickle down F1 technology, as well, including lightning quick 60 millisecond shifts and integrated traction and stability control system. In order to accentuate the car's F1 connection, none other than famed F1 driver Michael Schumacher will officially unveil the car in Frankfurt this September. Until then, we have a gallery of high-res shots for you to flip through below and Ferrari's press release after the jump.

[Source: Ferrari via Supercars.net]

Continue reading Ferrari reveals F430 Scuderia, not Challenge Stradale

 

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Spring 2008: Arrival date for BMW 1-Series

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The upcoming BMW 1-Series Coupe is one of those rare cars over which nearly every Autoblogger is drooling. It returns Bimmer to its roots of building relatively lightweight handlers, as well as lowers the cost of entry for an Ultimate Driving Machine to within the reach of the coupon clipping middle class. Thanks to the sharp eye of folks over at bmw128i.com, we now have confirmation from BMW via it's North American website that the 1-Series will be available to purchase in the U.S. by Spring 2008. The news comes via a flash video that plays when you visit BMW NA's website, and it's crystal clear in meaning: "Introducing the all-new BMW 1-Series. Year One of the 1 begins Spring 2008." This means that BMW dealers will likely be ready to take orders for the 1 by the end of the year. Instead of celebrating the Vernal Equinox next year with a traditional dance around the fire, you just may find us in line at your local BMW dealer.

[Source: bmw128i.com via Jalopnik]

 

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Honda confirms new Fit will arrive in Fall, at least in Japan

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Honda CEO Takeo Fukui just confirmed that a new Honda Fit will make its debut this fall in Japan. We expect the U.S. version to follow pretty soon after, but that wasn't confirmed. During a press event yesterday, he also spoke about Honda's commitment to fuel efficiency with the further development of its hybrid powerplants and introduction of a 50-state diesel, but it was the Fit that got our attention. Right after announcing it has sold 2 million of the current model Fit, Honda is already talking about a sequel. We doubt it will look much different than the current model, perhaps adopting the nose seen at right.

We've talked about how this next gen hatch will be a "relaxed" Fit version, with just a bit more room in the seat. Just like the European Honda Jazz variant, the new Fit will get an extra 20mm of girth and 50mm in length. That should mean even more room in the Fit/Jazz's already class-leading interior. No diesel is planned for the States, but we'll likely see the hybrid version down the road. In the meantime, we're also likely to see familiar 1.3- and 1.5-liter gas engines underhood. The new Fit will debut at this year's Tokyo Motor Show in October.

[Source: The Detroit News]

 

[via] Autoblog

Autoblog Podcast #71

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We're shooting from the hip this week for Podcast #71. Rather than prepare, we're going with gut reactions. Starting it off, we mull over the loss of the USGP from Indianapolis, and postulate on where else F1 may pop up in the US. An F1 race on the Vegas strip would be the bomb. Staying with motorsports, we marvel at how Team SARD spanked everyone extremely hard at Tokachi with a hybridized Supra GT. We're sure that racing will improve the hybrid breed at a much steeper pace than conventional powerplants. In other racing news, Dale Junior has split from Budweiser, so he'll have new livery to plaster all over his left-turn machine.

Moving on from racing, we ponder the leakage and eventual announcement of the Porsche 911 GT2. It's as unassuming as a Porsche can get, but it packs 530 horsepower and uses the rear wheels to push top speed to the 200 MPH realm, while being a docile everyday car. While Porsches always make us giddy little schoolboys, Subaru's recent model line revisions have us alternating between cheers and jeers. The good: the Legacy SUS, or whatever the heck they call their Outback sedan is kaput. The bad: so is the straight Legacy wagon. We devolve into a styling review of Subaru's new corporate language for a while before surfacing again to discuss the inanity surrounding presidential candidates and hybrid vehicles. Idiocy, 'nuff said.

On a lighter note, we discuss the rumored sequel to Disney/Pixar's "Cars." Not surprising when you consider how lucrative the tie-ins usually are. Off entertainment and on to entertaining cars, we ogle the leaked pictures of the FPV Falcon, and discuss the future plans of that platform here in the US. It does look mean, so thanks to that janitor who picked these renderings out of the trash. Our pithy cavalcade keeps rolling along, and we chew over Bob Lutz's latest comments about the future of diesel powerplants in the US. It's odd that Bob is cool on diesel just as GM is poised to roll out new oil-burners. Wrapping up, we put out the call to action again for the
[via] Autoblog

Would VW leave the US market?

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VW's has strengthened its position in Europe as the leading brand, claiming more than 20% market share. In the US, though, VW sales have dropped by an average of 25,000 cars every year for four years, and the company has lost close to a billion dollars each of the past three years. Stefan Jacoby, the former head of global sales and marketing who raised the firm's Euro market share, has been put in the top US spot in order to achieve one goal: breaking even in the US by 2009.

Blame for the slide can be attributed to a variety of factors (and we're sure you readers have plenty of theories about what's wrong with and how to fix VW), but unless they figure out how to get them right, the feeling is that VW could leave the US market. It's almost impossible to believe that the company known for fun, funky cars that drove until the wheels fell of, two cars that have been famous for decades around the world (Beetle and Golf), deep brand equity, and fervent brand loyalty would have to grab its wurst and head back home. Yet the situation was summed up by one exec as: "For the first time in some time, the phrase 'If we are to stay in the U.S.' precedes a lot of conversations at VW."

[Source: Business Week]

 

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eBay Find Of The Day: Terchero

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What is it about the front-loaded form factor introduced by the Ford Ranchero in 1957 that the compulsion to modify other cars in its image is so great? Witness this first-generation Toyota Tercel - it's got a "needs to be fixed" list, but the bodywork looks darn good. It's hard to discern from the fuzzy pictures whether the claim of a professional conversion is bogus, or if this is one of those bondo buckets that waves back at you when you sight down the quarter panel. Nevertheless, you could have a lot of fun with this stubby trucklet. It'd be a cheap way to have fun at car shows, and we can't imagine a much less expensive vehicle to maintain. The color scheme looks rather handsome, actually, and the Cadillac taillights look pretty slick in this application. This appears to be a vehicle that was done up a while ago and then put away for some time. Older restorations can be hoary little chestnuts, so if you're going to bid, find a buddy in York, PA who can go take a look.

Thanks to tipster Matt!

 

[via] Autoblog

Put that in your pipe and smoke it - Fords made of hemp?

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a 1941 Ford with organic plastic body panels

Okay, let's get the spliff jokes out of the way - there's lots of stuff made from hemp, and it won't get you high. It would be nice to swap plastic off-gassing for an entirely more pleasant type of new car smell, though. Don't get your hopes up for a Ford you can smoke, however. What's really going on is research into building cars from renewable organic materials that are also more easily recycled than the metal and petrochemical parts from which that cars are currently constructed.

The effort has Ford teaming with the UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and hemp fiber supplier Hemcore. The DEFRA is throwing about £500,000 (roughly $1 million) at the effort, and Ford already has experience using plant matter to build auto bodies. There was a prototype in 1941 with a plastic body fashioned from plant material. We wonder what a rush to plant matter body materials will do to the price of crops; much the same way the E85 push has caused the price of corn to increase. It would be nice, however, to have plastics that can be more easily reused, and may biodegrade instead of plugging up landfills for millennia.

[Source: Winding Road]

 

[via] Autoblog