VIDEO: Goodwood - Endurance and other racers

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Click above for an endurance racing gallery from Goodwood

The longest of the video clips from the Goodwood Festival of Speed, this is a sort of catch-all for the other race cars that made it out to West Sussex this year. You'll see a sampling of endurance, open-wheel, rally and dragstrip cars in this 9-minute video. Fans of Porsche can see a 917/30, 935, 956, 962 and RS Spyder. Ferrari is represented by their largest-engined car ever, the 712 Can-Am racer, plus a Daytona Comp, F40 LM and the immortal 330 P3. Audis from the Quattro S1 to this year's LeMans-winning R10 can be seen tackling the hill. There are Jags and Astons, Benzes and BMWs, Peugeots and Allards, Toyotas and Mazdas, plus many, many more. 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 other posts from this year's Festival of Speed.

Better quality vid available by clicking here.

Thanks, Duane!

Continue reading VIDEO: Goodwood - Endurance and other racers

 

[via] Autoblog

Ferrari flexes its branding muscle with Ferrari Unica Home Gym

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If you already own a Ferrari laptop, Ferrari watch, Ferrari shoes, Ferrari pen, Ferrari speakers and Ferrari surfboard, then maybe you'll be in the demographic for this new Ferrari Unica Home Gym. The Italian-bodied exercise equipment features 25 possible exercises (double-clutching is not one of them), a key card that stores a users' data, and a built-in Wellness Mate computer that incorporates the aforementioned data and designs a personalized training plan. The price for this calorie burning machine from Maranello is actually quite reasonable for a Ferrari: €12,500 or about $17,250 USD. Here's the link to the Ferrari Store description and order form.

[Source: Luxist]

 

[via] Autoblog

Grand Theft Auto, Malaysian style: 1 Porsche stolen by 1 thief... twice

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The guy who pulled off this 2-part heist is probably now teaching cucumbers a thing or two about being cool, and instructing killer bees in the value of persistence. The unnamed -- and uncaught -- thief walked into a Porsche dealership in Malaysia nattily dressed and holding a checkbook. He asked if he could test drive a black 911. Once given the keys, he got in, started it up, and drove straight out through the dealer's plate glass window. There was only one thing he didn't realize: the car only had enough gas to go 2 km, so it took the police just 30 minutes to find it abandoned.

But this was no ordinary thief. When he abandoned the car, he took the keys. Then, when the police impounded the car, they put gas in it. Add it up... and you have the same Porsche stolen again, this time from police headquarters. You can read the first part of the heist here, the second, here. Neither the thief -- whom we'll call Cool Hand Ahmad -- nor the car has been found.

Thanks for the tip, Demio121!

[Source: Malaysian Star]

 

[via] Autoblog

Michael Schumacher wants to help Ferrari develop road cars

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In case you needed a reminder of just how fast the Formula One world spins, 7-time World Champion Michael Schumacher says he is already out of date after retiring at the end of just last season. Not that he's complaining. Although he'll be at the Nurburgring this weekend for the German Grand Prix, he thinks he got out at the right time and doesn't miss driving.

Michael has been to a few races this year, but doesn't really see a future role with the Scuderia. Instead, he says, he would prefer to work on the road cars. He still refers to his function as an advisory role, despite the fact that some see him becoming the head of Ferrari's road car operations somewhere down the road. Whatever his position, we can understand him wanting to work with the road cars. Who wouldn't?

[Source: MotorAuthority]

 

[via] Autoblog

Arrival of Acura in Japan put on hold

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It appears that Acura will remain banished from its homeland for the foreseeable future, despite Honda claiming nearly two years ago that it would begin selling its luxury brand in Japan by 2008. At the same meeting this week during which Honda CEO Takeo Fukui announced that there'd be a redesigned Fit come year's end, he also revealed that an Acura would now not be sold on the nation island until around 2010, or "two years or so from its original plan of fall 2008." It seems that with sales way off in the Japanese home market, Honda would rather focus its resources on aligning its current Honda dealerships into a better integrated network, as well as establishing larger dealerships in heavily populated metro areas, no doubt in order to move more of those popular minicars. We doubt larger vehicles like the MDX (shown above), would fare as well in Japan as they do in the U.S., anyway.

[Source: Ward's Auto]

 

[via] Autoblog

Mercedes going all-aluminum with new SL and SLC super coupe

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In late June we showed you spy shots of the Mercedes-Benz SCL, what we believe will be Mercedes' answer to the Audi R8. It seems that the new Merc will be armed with a new weapon when it enters the fight - a lower curb weight.

Just Auto is reporting that Mercedes has plans to build the SL model out of aluminum, much like Aston Martin, Audi, Jaguar and Rolls-Royce have done with some of their models. Expected to use an aluminum spaceframe and body panels, the new SL should be at least 10 - 15% lighter than the current model, the weight of which ranges from 3,860 lbs. to 4,500 lbs. depending on what model and options are chosen.

Not wanting an interruption in SL production when the new aluminum structure is phased in, Mercedes is planning the super coupe SLC as a car that will use the spaceframe but be produced only in limited numbers. The idea is to make sure all the kinks are ironed out of the new production process before it's applied to the higher volume SL. Expect only about 3,000 to 4,000 SLC coupes to be produced, and you'll be able to pick one up around 2010, two years before the new all-aluminum SL debuts.

The SLC, however, will not share a body panel with the SL, which means it could even be the retro "gull-wing" coupe at which insiders have been hinting. We're also not sure if Mercedes will even continue to produce the SLC after the new SL arrives in 2012. At this point, there remains more questions than answers.

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

 

[via] Autoblog

2008 Cadillac CTS to be first with Gracenote MusicID database

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It looks like Cadillac will be the first company to offer the new Gracenote music library database in a car. Buyers of the new 2008 CTS will be able to get the system when the car goes on sale in August. Gracenote points out this will be the first time the MusicID database and Playlist products have been paired with an in-car entertainment system for the North American market. Sounds like a technicality, but it's a pretty sweet system.

What this means is that you can load all of your CDs into the system, have them copied, and then during playback the unit accesses a huge database to add track info. Things like album, artist and track names are a given, but the Gracenote system adds additional proprietary data like genre, artist type, era and region of origin. And then your personal collection can be searched and custom playlists developed using the data. How very iPod. Similar systems exist, but none are quite like Gracenote, and none have been factory available in the States until now.

[Source: just-auto - sub. req.]

 

[via] Autoblog

REPORT: Up to six bidders vying for Jaguar and Land Rover

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Up to six different potential buyers are expected to place bids for the Jaguar and Land Rover brands when the auction for the British automakers gets underway later today. In the running are private equity firms Cerberus, Ripplewood Holdings and One Equity Partners, plus new entrants Tata Motors and Mahindra.

Tata Motors is already in negotiations with Fiat over a deal to build Fiat cars in India, and together, the two may form a new joint-venture to finance the bid for the British marques. According to reports, Tata has instructed several merchant bankers to evaluate the possibility of a joint offer for Jaguar and Land Rover, and both Tata and Mahindra recently signed confidentiality agreements.

Automakers Renault and Nissan have reportedly dropped out of contention, as did Hyundai, which yesterday announced that it has no plans to acquire any companies in the near future.

It's expected Ford won't announce the winning bidder for several months as it will take time for all the companies to do their due diligence.

[Source: Forbes]

 

[via] Autoblog

J.D. Power Report: Jaguar satisfies the customers it has left

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You have to hand it to the folks at Jaguar. In the face of sales dwindling to almost nothing, its dealers and service staff manage to still do their jobs well and delight their customers. In the 2007 Customer Service Index Study released by J.D. Power and Associates today, Jaguar was rated number one in customer service, scoring 925 out of 1,000.

Adding ammo to the argument that domestic automakers are making a comeback in significant areas like customer service, the top five spots in this year's 2007 CSI Study are occupied by automakers from the U.S.A., not counting Lexus, which tied for third place with Cadillac. Buick came in second, while Mercury and Saturn earned the fourth and fifth positions, respectively.

One interesting finding of the study was that Toyota earned a relatively low score of 858 out of 1,000, which was only good enough for a three-way tie for 22nd place with Ford and Chrysler. All three were below the industry average of 876 points out of 1,000. While Ford and Chrysler placing so low could be explained by a number of factors, including the general feeling of malaise among their respective workforces in the face of each company's financial troubles, Toyota's placement might be explained by the fact it just doesn't have enough service centers to adequately meet the demands of its ever growing customer base. Ford, at least, can be happy with the fact that today's news may have increased the value of Jaguar, which is up for sale, by at least $50 or so.

[Source: J.D. Power and Associates]

 

[via] Autoblog

Jeep drops price of 2008 Liberty to $20,990

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click above image to view our high-res gallery of the 2008 Jeep Liberty

Jeep has been on a tear lately, thanks entirely to the popularity of the Wrangler in the marketplace. The Jamboree kids at Jeep would like to give the Wrangler some help, and as such they've decided to price the all-new 2008 Liberty SUV below the outgoing model by an average of about $1,000. A base 2008 Jeep Liberty 4x2 will carry an MSRP of $20,990, which includes a $660 destination charge, when it arrives at dealerships later this summer. That's $1,270 less than the 2007 model, according to Jeep. The 4x4 model, meanwhile, will start at $22,600, or $1,170 less than the current model. Finally, the range-topping Limited model will start at $25,175 for the 4x2 and $26,785 for the 4x4. The Liberty's 3.7L V6 producing 210 horsepower and 235 ft-lbs. of torque will be a carryover from last year, but the new SUV can now be had with the industry first Sky Slider full-length open canvas roof for $1,200.

You can view the new Liberty from a variety of angles in our gallery below, and check out Jeep's pricing press release after the jump.

[Source: Jeep]

Continue reading Jeep drops price of 2008 Liberty to $20,990

 

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Hyundai reaches 5 million cars in the US

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Hyundai announced today that it has passed the five million sales milestone in the U.S. since entering the market a little over two decades ago. During that time, Hyundai has transformed itself from a cheap and shoddy import brand into one that can rival industry leader Toyota for reliability, and is now on track to reach its goal of being the fifth largest automaker in the world by the end of the decade.

The first Hyundai to be sold in the U.S. was the Excel compact, which arrived back in 1986. Hyundai was unprepared for the levels of sales its Excel would enjoy, and consequently couldn't provide adequate service for its rapidly growing customer base. This led to the company being stereotyped as the maker of unreliable cars, but this all changed at the turn of the century when Chairman Chung Mong-koo made quality a key priority.

Today, Hyundai is manufacturing cars in the U.S. and Europe and is on target to reach 550,000 sales in America for this year. Recently, products like the new Veracruz and Santa Fe have shown just how far Hyundai has come. Next up is the Genesis luxury sedan and a rear-wheel-drive coupe.

[Source: Detroit News]

 

[via] Autoblog

Iosis X-based Ford Kuga to hit Europe in '08

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Click image to enlarge

Sometimes, you have to wonder if Ford really favors Europeans over Americans. After all, look at the product portfolios. Sure, we have the Mustang and the trucks, which are great, but Europe wins pretty much everywhere else. The Mondeo tops the Fusion, their Focus is worlds better than the bizarre-looking thing we're about to get, and now they've announced that Europe's receiving a small crossover that's likely to make Escape look ponderous by comparison. Obviously derived from the Iosis X concept, that car is the Ford Kuga, and while the name's not the greatest (sounds like a Bostonian saying "Cougar"), the sketch above shows a very sporty-looking ride that applies the Ford of Europe "kinetic design" philosophy to a 4x4 crossover. Assuming it's similarly-sized, Kuga is to Escape what Mondeo is to Fusion. That means the Europeans win and we lose. Again.

The car will debut in September at the Frankfurt show and go on sale throughout Europe in 2008. Follow the jump for Ford's press release. We've also included a gallery of the 2006 Iosis X concept below.



[Source: Ford]

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McRae Enduro: Dakar doesn't stand a chance

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It's obvious that the fast-paced risks Colin McRae endured during his time behind the wheel have set the tone of his retirement. The term "retirement" is a total misnomer however, as McRae has kept himself busy consulting, marketing and developing his own line of rally machines. The R4 is so close to completion that McRae has taken on another project dubbed the Enduro.

Much like the R4, its purpose is to offer privateers an entry-level means of competing in cross-country rallies, approved by the FIA's T1 regulations that cover everything from Dakar to other Baja-style campaigns.

The machine was developed in conjunction with MDV Specialist Engineering and is made up of a space-frame chassis in which a Land Rover-sourced, turbocharged diesel 2.7-liter V6, tuned by Roush, produces 240 HP and 383 lb.-ft. of torque. Power is sent to the all four wheels via a six-speed ZF transmission equipped with a non-variable LSD in both the rear and center.

As with the R4, McRae envisions the Enduro competing in a one-make series, named the Pirelli McRae Enduro Trofeo, which will include three FIA World Cup events and three Baja series campaigns. Pricing is expected to be around 150,000 euros when it's finally offered up next year.

[Source: EVO]

 

[via] Autoblog

2008 CTS will start at $32,245

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Although leaked pricing information isn't the most compelling of posts, those of you that have been salivating over the new Cadillac CTS can start arranging your budget accordingly. A forum member over at Cheers and Gears acquired a full breakdown of the '08 CTS' pricing, and aside from the options, a few things deserve note.

First off, Cadillac will be nixing the 2.8-liter V6 in the standard model, instead offering the 255 263-hp 3.6L VVT V6 with a manual tranny and the 300 304-hp 3.6L VVT DI V6 with the auto 'box. Pricing for the manual starts at $32,245; while the automatic version will set you back $34,545. If you decide to go the all-wheel-drive route and prefer to stir your own gears, you can tack on an additional $1,900 to the base price, or $3,200 in automatic trim.

You've got your choice of several packages, including the Luxury collection ($2,600), the Premium Luxury Collection ($8,165), the Performance Collection ($3,300), the Luxury Level One ($1,000) or the Luxury Level Two packages ($2,025).

You can view the spec sheet here, and follow the jump for the full list of packages and their respective add-ons. Just don't forget the destination fees, licenses and taxes.

[Source: Cheers and Gears]

Thanks for the tip, Brian!

Continue reading 2008 CTS will start at $32,245

 

[via] Autoblog

Subaru developing CVT for all models

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CVT transmissions definitely aren't new, but high gas prices have thrust the once unreliable continuously variable trannies back into the powertrain equation. Chrysler uses the CVT in a few of its products, Mitsubishi added the tranny to the new Lancer, and Nissan has begun using the CVT in the Altima and Sentra, among others. According to a Japanese business rag, Subaru is planning to add the gearless transmission into every model they make by 2010. The first Subie to mate a boxer engine to the CVT is rumored to be the updated 2009 Legacy, and a 2.0L diesel with a CVT may follow shortly there after. While the CVT will be available with every model, we're assuming (and hoping) that manual transmissions will be offered as well.

CVTs are usually a bit quicker off the line than automatics, but in our experience fuel economy savings are a mix bag. While the Sentra's MPG improved with the CVT, in the 2006 Ford Five Hundred, the FWD CVT version got two less MPG on the highway than the auto-equipped SEL model. As far as the driving experience goes, CVTs take a little getting used to since the transmissions keep the engine in the optimal rev range at all times and the transmission feels like it's slipping, but most drivers may never notice the difference.

[Source: Winding Road]

 

[via] Autoblog

Spy shots: MINI Clubman interior exposed

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Although the MINI Clubman has proved to be the worst kept secret from any automaker in recent memory, the one unknown is how BMW's boffins would engineer and design the interior of the stretched Cooper. We knew it would retain the same funked-up, yet toned-down aesthetic of the new R56 MINI, and these stellar shots provided by Gabe over at MotoringFile tell the tale.

Even thought the third, suicide-hinged door on the passenger side will aid ingress and egress, it's still a move best attempted with the front seat tilted and moved forward. The oval inset trim that defines the doors is present fore and aft, with the third door slicing into both shapes. The semi-circular handle allowing passengers inside to open the door seems a bit out of place among the other elements, but we'll reserve judgment until we see the whole package in the next few months.

We're digging the wood-rimmed wheel and brown leather chairs, but we're really looking forward to seeing the Clubman in its exclusive Chocolate hue. Clicking the image above will send you over to MotoringFile where several other photos await.

[Source: MotoringFile]

 

[via] Autoblog

Aston Martin closing historic factory

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Later today, Aston Martin will be closing its historic Newport Pagnell factory, and CAR magazine will be on hand to cover the story live from the facility. The plant produces the V12 Vanquish, and after its shuttering, the center will be leveled in order to erect a series of office parks and residential housing.

Although the plant has been in operation for close to 50 years and Prodrive had originally said that it was safe, skepticism seems to have surrounded the future of the facility. The town itself has undergone a mass exodus of manufacturing jobs over the years, essentially turning the hamlet into a bedroom community.

We'll be following CAR's coverage throughout the day, so watch this space.

[Source: CAR, Newport Pagnell Homepage]

 

[via] Autoblog

The good life: getting gifts for test-driving luxury cars

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Giving buyers an incentive to test drive a car is an old tactic, but usually these were limited to small gifts or vouchers of nominal value. With competition in the high-end luxury market heating up, automakers are now moving to more elaborate ways to attract the well-heeled.

Take Maserati for example. The exotic Italian brand offers potential buyers who take a new Quattroporte for a spin a pair of Bose headphones valued at around $179. Lexus doesn't even bother with a gift -- its dealers straight up offer you a $100 American Express gift card for taking the new IS 350 for a spin. Bentley is a little more subtle in its giving by offering to donate money to the Breast Cancer Alliance if you try their car.

Of course, such deals aren't exactly available for the average Joe, and the old trick of turning up to the dealer wearing a suit probably won't work either. You'll have to be on a mailing list targeted towards "high net worth" individuals or receive a private invite from the dealership.

[Source: New York Times - Sub. Req'd via Automobiles Deluxe]

 

[via] Autoblog

U.S. or Bust: Volkswagen China developing car for North America

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Volkswagen makes good-looking vehicles with terrific interiors, very good fuel economy, and spirited driving dynamics. In the US, those virtues alone don't make a high volume automaker, as price tends to play a major role in buyer's decisions. Due to the strength of the Euro, VW has much higher fixed costs than its competitors, even when production in Mexico is taken into account. As a result of their large financial burden, Volkswagens usually cost more than most of the competition. To strengthen their competitive position and leverage cheap labor in developing countries, VW is planning on producing vehicles in China for the US market.

VW, along with partner SECI Motors, is a juggernaut in the land of the Great Wall, as the Germans automaker has been entrenched in China since 1984. The SECI/VW partnership will replace the Chinese market Passat Lingyu with a sedan that will also be sold on our shores. Many automakers have utilized China's inexpensive labor for cheaper parts, but as of yet, no US-sold vehicles have been assembled there. If VW can make cars in China that can meet US safety and emissions standards, Europe's only volume automaker with a presence in the US will go a long way towards closing the cost gap.

[Source: Auto News (subscription req'd)]

 

[via] Autoblog

Spy Shots: 2008 Toyota Sequoia

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Why bother even camoflaging the new Sequoia? We all know it's going to have a Tundra nose, with a closed-in tail. Woohoo. There will be detail differences, we're sure, but the more important details of the new Sequoia snaps that Priddy and Company snared are the underbits. Looking closely at the back end, an independent rear suspension appears to be fitted. That should help create more liveable space for third row passengers in what promises to be a cavernous interior, and it wouldn't be right to have the Armada prancing around with IRS while the Sequoia carried on with the live-axle setup that suspends the current truck.

The front view shows what may be a sensor for adaptive cruise control, which means this behemoth will now effortlessly ride the bumper of meek cars, threatening to crush them. Powertrains should be direct ports from the Tundra, so while it's stature may be glacial, its speed will not.

[Source: StraightLine]

 

[via] Autoblog

India's Tata Motors interested in Jaguar and Land Rover

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It doesn't seem that anyone else has shown interest in Jaguar or Land Rover - some rumored suitors have outright denied any interest - but Indian industry giant Ratan Tata is contemplating adding the luxury marques to his Tata Motors unit. Tata has set his advisory bloodhounds after the business case of making Ford an offer for the brands, which could fetch $1.5 billion together.

It seems antithetical considering Tata Motors push to develop the world's cheapest car with a $2,500 price tag. The last Land Rover we drove was thirty-eight times that expensive. It would certainly be a nice property for the conglomerate Tata Sons, parent to the automaking concern, to take on. There are more and more folks worldwide newly flush with cash and looking for cars with some curb appeal. No word has been forthcoming from Tata, rumored to have signed a confidentiality agreement with Ford recently, and Ford also offered no comment.

[Source: Telgraph.co.uk]

Thanks for the tip, Raj!

 

[via] Autoblog

Spy Shots: AM General Humvee prototype caught!

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click above image for more views of the AM General Humvee Prototype

Though normally hiding in bushes and waiting for the next-gen Mustang or Corvette Blue Devil to pass by, Brenda Priddy and pals sometimes spy things not meant for public consumption. They recently photographed a new AM General HUMVEE prototype that will be competing for the military's Future Tactical Truck System (FTTS) contract, which will produce the replacement for the current Humvee, of which some 140,000 are still in active service. Though prototypes from Lockheed Martin and other military contractors will also be submitted, this is AM General's bid to keep the Humvee in the game.

Follow the jump for more details and Priddy's own analysis of the vehicle that's aided by her consult with some military experts, and check out the high-res pics in our gallery below.

[Photos: Brenda Priddy & Co.]

Continue reading Spy Shots: AM General Humvee prototype caught!

 

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Fear the man: British cops channel their inner Makinen with EVO cruisers

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A recent conversation with a colleague, whose previous stint as a traffic officer in the UK equipped him to become one of the preeminent driving instructors in the U.S., prompted a discussion of law enforcement exercises. Apparently in the U.K., it's not uncommon to see an unmarked Volvo, with neither a siren blaring nor lights flashing, traveling upwards of 140 MPH down the M1. Only a sticker on the rear proclaims the vehicle's purpose: "Police Training."

As if that wasn't disconcerting enough (albeit incredibly cool), our new friend Alex of Team Polizei fame was fortunate enough to have a reader send in shots of one of two Mitsubishi Evolution 8s currently used by the UK ANPR police. His story is accessible by clicking the "Read" link below, but according to Mr. Ed these two Evos won't be the only AWD rally rides carrying the boys in blue - they'll be getting two new Subaru WRXs, complete in yellow and blue livery within the next couple of months; all paid for by traffic offenders. Drive right and
[via] Autoblog

Way Corny: OCC unveils E85 chopper

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click above image to view more pics of OC's E85 Chopper

As the saying goes, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." So when the Orange County Chopper crew was asked to come to Iowa and build a custom bike to help out Join the Ride Iowa, the result was understandably corny. The first things you'll notice are the soybean and corn paint job. The edamame paint is unmistakable, but It also has what they refer to as a corn head "scoop" and exhaust pipes that are said to emulate the tubing on an ethanol plant. Built to support the Iowa Farm Bureau Renewable Energy movement and show off Iowa's place as the 4th leading supplier of energy in the nation, this custom bike also incorporates other renewable fuel sources.

The big yellow gas cap clearly shows that the bike is powered by an E85 motor. Apparently that's a first. You'll also find the E85 logo on the air cleaner cover. And if that's not enough, the wheels were designed to resemble the blades of a wind turbine. A nod to Iowa's livestock industry comes via the, surprise, leather seat. Well, it does have embossed animals on it.

A custom chopper built by the Teutels will always draw some attention, especially if Sr., Jr., and Mikey are around to promote it. In this case, the cause seems a bit outside their normal sphere of influence. But if it helps people think green, what the heck. If you happen to like the looks of this bad boy, it will be raffled off to raise money for Join the Ride Iowa. Tickets are $10 and it looks like there's a $50,000 cash option should you have no place in your barn for a corn-fed chopper.

[Source: AutoblogGreen]

 

[via] Autoblog