The Japanese supercar that almost was - the Dome Zero

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click above image for more views of the Dome Zero

What do you get when you mix Japan's burgeoning fortunes as an automaker in the 1970s along with a passel of frustrated racers? One of the first Japanese supercars, that's what. The Dome Zero's road to the 1978 Geneva Motor Show was paved with broken marriages, infrequent bathing schedules, and a nearly impossible deadline. It sounds like an episode of Monster Garage, now that we think about it. The wedgy, Italian-esque body evokes the finest work of the House of Nuccio. Power came from a Datsun inline six, offering a power to weight ratio on par with Porsches of the day.

[Source: Dome.co.jp via grandJDM.com]

Gallery: Dome Zero

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[via] Autoblog

Nissan ups MSRP on 2008 Altima Sedan

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Nissan just sent out pricing information on its 2008 Altima Sedan, which is already at Nissan dealers across the country. The best-selling car in Nissan's stable, the Altima was completely redesigned last year and receives only modest changes for '08. But that hasn't stopped the inevitable price hikes. But before you protest, understand that the price increases are quite modest ($280 on 4-cylinder models, $80 on the V6) and include some additional equipment. On SLs, the price actually dropped $120. The now-standard Anti-lock ABS alone used to be a $300 option. Pricing for the Coupe and Hybrid, however, weren't included in this release.

Altima Sedan MSRP
2007 2.5 $17,950
2008 2.5 $18,230
$280

2007 2.5 S M/T $19,800
2008 2.5 S M/T $20,080
$280

2007 2.5 S CVT $20,300
2008 2.5 S CVT $20,580
$280

2007 3.5 SE M/T $24,000
2008 3.5 SE M/T $24,080
$80

2007 3.5 SE CVT $24,500
2008 3.5 SE CVT $24,580
$80

2007 3.5 SL CVT $28,400
2008 3.5 SL CVT $28,280
$120

[Source: Nissan]

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Dodge will remain in NASCAR under Cerberus

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Not that there was a lot of speculation about Dodge possibly dropping out, but Dodge's senior manager for motorsports, Mike Deahanty, says the brands presence in NASCAR will remain under Chrysler's new ownership by Cerberus Capital Management. Petty Enterprises and Evernham Motorsports have both renewed their contracts with Dodge.

Top Speed, however, says sponsorship for the Evernham team, which currently includes Dodge dealers and the United Auto Workers, could change, with Budweiser rumored to be interested in paying Kasey Kahne to wear its red livery.

So rest easy, NASCAR Dodge fans. You'll still be able to see Dodge Chargers (or at least machines with Charger written across the nose) roaring around in circles.

[Source: Top Speed]

 

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Bernie Ecclestone to make even more money selling his car collection

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On October 31st in Battersea Park, London, RM Auctions will be selling 50 cars from the private collection of Bernie Ecclestone at the Automobiles of London auction. What kind of cars does the notoriously particular F1 supremo collect: among the lot are a 1933 Marmon Sixteen Victoria Coupe, 1950 Ferrari 250 GT Europa Mk II (shown above), 1937 Mercedes 540 K Cabriolet B worth $7 million, 1933 Lancia Astura Roadster, and the obligatory 300 SL Gullwing. And because you just never know where Bernie's coming from, there's also a 1964 Ford Anglia.

The sale is expected to raise about 15 million pounds, which is the parking meter fund for a guy worth 3 billion pounds. According to his biographer, Ecclestone turns 77 in October, and perhaps "believes it's time to tidy up some of his private assets." Check out RM Auctions for more on the sale.

[Source: Pistonheads]

 

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Time waster of the day: Bourne Stunt Simulator

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Coinciding with the launch of the new Bourne Ultimatum movie, Volkswagen has launched an interactive stunt simulator that allows fans to play out their own stunts online as many times as they want. Users can maneuver any of six different VW models through different explosions, while altering vehicle speeds, props, sound effects and camera angles to make that perfect scene.

Product placement in the movie has several VW vehicles making an appearance, including the Touareg 2 SUV and Golf GTI, a smart move seeing that The Bourne Ultimatum has grossed more than $70 million in its first weekend. That's a hell of lot of viewers seeing VW's new models up on the big screen.

[Source: Bourne Simulator]

 

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Nissan's new gas pedal has a mind of its own

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Not too many years ago, Audi got into a big mess with cars that were accused of having accelerator pedals with minds of their own. Nissan now says it has developed a system that gives its cars' gas pedals the ability to think, and it sounds pretty smart.

In conjunction with a frontal radar system and onboard computer, the car can tell when it's getting too close to a vehicle or object in front of it and lifts the gas pedal in response, which is supposed to alert the driver to impending danger. If the driver agrees and lifts his foot off the pedal, the system applies the brakes and brings the car to a complete stop. If the driver continues to push the pedal down, the system won't interfere and car plus driver will continue on to meet their fate together.

The system will be available this year in Japan, and reportedly next year on U.S. spec cars. The smart pedal system is part of a big technology/safety push within Nissan that also includes its anti-drunk driving system and pedestrian-friendly hood we've shown you before.

[Source: Detroit News]

 

[via] Autoblog

And.... ACTION! Ford partners with film company for product placement

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Ford's been working with studios to get its product featured in films for years, one of the first being the original Batmobile. But the automaker has now teamed with Our Stories Films to target minorities with the production company's family-themed movies.

Under the agreement, Ford will be able to examine scripts for product placement opportunities, and will even get to make script-change suggestions. Ford will also integrate promotion of the films into its Web sites, fordurban.com and lincolnlounge.com.

Our Stories Films was created by BET founder Robert Johnson and producers Bob and Harvey Weinstein. According to IMDB, the company's first film is the current box office blockbuster (watch the sarcarsm, it's dripping) "Who's Your Caddy?" and features Ford's Range Rover co-starring with Big Boi and Andy Milonakis.

"We are all grappling with our numbers in this audience," said Marc Perry, multicultural marketing manager at Ford/Lincoln, in a Brandweek article. "We know that we can do better than what we are doing and this opportunity allows us to go after a targeted audience. It's African-Americans in urban centers. This arrangement helps by allowing us to cast both characters and vehicles, and with our imaging onscreen." Sigh... kind of sucks the whole artistic angle right out of filmmaking.

[Source: Brandweek, IMDB]

 

[via] Autoblog

Most Americans want texting-while-driving banned, but admit guilt

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A recent Harris Poll found that an overwhelming 91% of Americans think it's unsafe to text message while driving. In fact, they think it's just as bad as driving after a couple of drinks, and 89% even think it should be outlawed. But that didn't stop a full 57% of them from admitting that they have still done it.

The same Harris Interactive survey -- commissioned by Pinger, Inc., a messaging service -- found that 66% of adults surveyed read their text messages or e-mails while driving. The survey also found that younger drivers, not surprisingly, were much more likely to TWD. So far only Washington state has passed a law banning texting while driving (TWD), although New York, California and Florida among others are considering similar legislation.

[Source: Reuters]

 

[via] Autoblog

Two new engines for the Audi A5

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click above image for photo gallery

The A5 is Audi's latest salvo in its battle to rule the luxury automotive landscape, and the German automaker is putting its technical might behind the launch. The A5 was launched in June in Europe, and now two all-new six cylinder engines are under the svelte coupe's bonnet. Audi's 3.2L engine isn't all-new, but direct injection and variable lift control have been updated to produce an impressive 265 hp. The 3.2L will be available in the U.S. at launch this fall.

In Europe, oil-burning engines are necessary to compete in any significant segment, and Audi is packing its common-rail fuel injected 2.7L turbo-diesel under the A5's hood. The engine produces 190 hp, which is enough grunt to get the diesel A5 to 62 mph in 7.6 seconds. It also returns 35.3 mpg! As is the case with all euro diesel powerplants, U.S. customers likely won't be able to check that option for a while, if ever.

[Source: Audi]


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AutoblogGreen for 08.08.07

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There's more news from the Paris Hilton-hybrid Hummer front: apparently, she's having one of these fictional beasts "designed" because the current crop of hybrids isn't cute enough for her (but a Hummer is?). We do agree that cute and good design don't always mesh well, as Jeremy Clarkson's review of the Reva G-Wiz shows. And, what we're proudest of, AutoblogGreen starts converting a classic 1966 Pontiac LeMans convertible to run on ethanol.

 

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GM completes Allison Transmission transition

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GM has announced that it has completed the sale of its Allison Transmission business. The commercial and military transmission part of the company was sold to The Carlyle Group and Onex Corporation for about $5.6 billion. That should keep them in the black for a bit longer. The sale includes the seven manufacturing centers throughout Indianapolis, along with the company's sales offices and worldwide distribution complex. GM will retain its Baltimore plant to produce both regular and hybrid two-mode transmissions for its trucks and SUVs. If all goes as expected, GM will use the funds from the sale to bolster R&D into new products and technology, including alternative energy sources.

[Source: GM]

 

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Rendered Speculation: Fiat Bravo Crossover

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Fiat's already started the machinations to bring Alfa back to the North American market, so is it too much to dream that Fiat proper would mount a return as well? The rhetoric surrounding the 2010 Bravo is that it's an integral part to the brand spreading to more diverse markets. What could be more diverse than a US market that's devoid of all those interesting foreign and domestic brands that were once vibrant? Motor Authority's rendering shows a handsome vehicle with a contemporary look. Contemporary...such a thorny adjective. 2010 is nigh three years from now, and by then, this smartly styled CUV may look pretty dated. The Alfa/Fiat design cues are as tidy here as they are on the Subaru Tribeca, and the XK-esque headlamps jazz things up, too. It's not a bland look, though it's not the current vogue of "boxier than thou" among high-style CUVs. Okay, those are enough words, check out Schulte Design's fine work and form your own opinion.

[Source: Motor Authority]

 

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Chrysler debuts childish new ad campaign

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Cerberus and Chrysler are now officially linked, and to celebrate, the privately-owned automaker is kicking off a new ad campaign titled "Get ready for the next 100 years." The ads will showcase Chrysler's many accomplishments of the past while illustrating why the company will be part of the many generations to come. The folks from Auburn Hills are going all-out, including print and radio spots across the nation.

The Pentastar got creative with its print campaign, and it's dragging out the kiddies to get our attention. The ad shows three children in car seats, each dressed in clothes that illustrate what each brand is about. The Dodge kid is great, race helmet and all (too bad you can't put a car seat in a Viper). The Jeep kid is sitting in a camo'd car seat, which fits the off-road brand perfectly. The little girl in the Chrysler kiddie seat is a little less obvious, but we're guessing she stands for class and refinement. The point of the spot is to show how Chrysler is looking towards future generations of customers. Who knows, maybe these kids will wind up driving an all-electric Charger someday. Hopefully the Chrysler interiors are better by then, too.

[Source: Chrysler]

 

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Bespoke roadster uses WWII German fighter power

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Pur Sang, an Argentine coachbuilder, is normally in the business of making Bugatti T35 replicas. It also makes custom vehicles for those who can afford them, and for one German customer it has made the burgundy roadster you see above. Not much is known about it (or the client), except that the lengthy engine cowl hides the magnesium V12 from a German WWII airplane. It isn't revealed exactly what engine it is, but both Daimler and Junkers made inverted V12 powerplants, and the Daimler model had direct fuel injection and went into the Messerschmidt 109. The roadster's horsepower is listed as 400, which would be a severe detune from the potential 1,200 hp that the 109 boasted. However, torque is a massive 885 lb-ft, which should still allow for some pretty exciting low-level maneuvers. The exact price wasn't revealed, but it was said to be well into six figures, in euros.

Thanks for the tip, Carlos!

[Source: Argentina Auto Blog]

 

[via] Autoblog

eBay find of the Day: 50 Cent's chrome Murcielago

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August on eBay is the season of celebrity car flogging, with Sean Connery's 635 CSI and a BMW 320is owned by a post-Risky Business Tom Cruise going now. 50 Cent, perhaps making space at one of the mansions for the season's new rides, has thrown his chrome Lamborghini Murcielago into the mix. Inside is black leather with contrasting gray stitching, black carpet, and E-gear. Outside is the aforementioned reflective paint job, sitting on 20's. The whole package has done 1,060 miles, having been in magazines, on TV shows, and a YouTube traffic stop video...

According to the seller, the car has was also the subject of a huge stereo upgrade, but all traces of it have been hidden or removed. If you don't mind the shine factor -- the car doesn't scream for attention nearly as much as a yellow one would -- it's a remarkably decent looking package. And that makes us think something we never expected to be saying about Fifty: if it really is his car, we wish more rappers showed as much restraint with their rides.

[Source: eBay via A Grandiose Blog]

 

[via] Autoblog

Estonian man arrested for driving while blind

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This past weekend, police in the Estonian city of Tartu pulled over a car because it was being driven erratically. The officers who made the traffic stop found a 20-year-old driver accompanied by a 16-year-old passenger. Thinking that the driver was drunk, they sought to administer a breathalyzer test, but the driver kept missing the tube he needed to blow into. Ultimately, Estonia Five-O figured out that the driver was blind and was piloting the car based on instructions given to him by his passenger. Hey, maybe they were were practicing for some enhanced form of the World Rally Championship. We'll never know. Anyway, at that point, the cuffs came out, because apparently Estonia requires drivers have the ability to see before getting behind the wheel. What a bunch of killjoys. It can be done! Haven't these people seen Scent of a Woman?

[Source: Reuters]

 

[via] Autoblog

New voice recognition tech coming to cars

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Car companies always boast about how many technological gizmos they pack into each new model, but the sad truth is that many buyers -- and we're talking a lot here -- barely have a clue what they'd use them for let alone how to go about it. This hasn't stopped companies like Nuance Communications Inc. from developing a raft of new and innovative gadgets for our convenience. The speech-recognition market leader most recently supplied its software for use in Ford-Microsoft's new SYNC and that's just the beginning of what it has to offer.

One gadget it has in the pipeline will let drivers pick a song from an MP3 database by simply calling out the artist or title. Another feature of the system will be the ability to detect different voices so that different people will be able to program their own unique settings and control multiple devices through the one system.

Sadly, voice recognition on the PC still leaves something to be desired, so we don't expect in-car recognition to be perfect any time soon. While some might view automotive gadgets as getting to the point where they become more of a hazard than convenience, workable systems that keep more hands on the wheel and eyes on the road are to be commended.

[Source: Wards Auto]

 

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All Hail Wolfsburg! VW GTI W12-650 struts its stuff for Autocar

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Click image for photo gallery

The fabulous VW GTI W12-650 show car that was built in just 8 weeks for the 2007 Wörthersee meet is no show pony. We knew that it was a legit runner, as was seen in a video we posted of the car rehearsing its entrance on a grandiose stage setup. What we didn't know at the time was that the GTI W12, despite being a one-off machine, was constructed to really take advantage of the massive power being pumped to its rear wheels. The UK's Autocar got to drive the damned thing on a closed course, and they laid into it pretty well. To keep the car from vaporizing its rear tires, torque is limited to just 50% of max in 1st gear and 60% of max in 2nd. In third, however, it's all there, and when he drops the hammer, the Autocar correspondent sums things up in two words: "Bloody Hell!"

Note to Volkswagen: Build it. A limited run of 650 would seem perfectly appropriate. Follow the jump top watch Autocar put it through its paces, and try not to drool all over yourselves when you hear that wicked exhaust note..

[Source: Autocar via YouTube]

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First official details on the Hyundai Elantra Touring

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Click image to enlarge

Hyundai has announced that the 5-door you see above is set to arrive next year as a 2009 model and will be named the Elantra Touring. It will use the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder currently found in the Elantra sedan. Based on Europe's i30 wagon, the sketch provided by Hyundai suggests that the US-spec car will be more aggressively styled, which makes sense since the Elantra Touring's marketing will focus on its sporting character. The usual list of standard and comfort equipment will be offered, of course, and you can read Hyundai's full release after the jump.

[Source: Hyundai

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Spy Shots: Mystery Merc coupe spotted

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It's well known that Mercedes-Benz is developing a new sports car with its racing partner HWA, but, until now, there's been very little evidence of the car apart from a few superficial media reports. However, proof that such a car is in development are these new spy shots that show a very low slung development mule being tested in a desert by AMG engineers.

Contrary to earlier speculation, the prototype's severely long snout suggests this will be a front-engined model, but its proportions put it close to rivaling the flagship SLR in size. The spy photographers managed to get up close to the car during the night and were able to measure its wheelbase, which stands at 106 inches.

The extended wheelbase makes it very hard to believe this is in fact the SL-based SLC super-sports car that HWA rep Hans Jürgen Matheis hinted at back in June. That, and the cab backward proportions could signal something different. Winding Road thinks it could even be a new Maybach coupe, which would be very interesting indeed.

[Source: Winding Road]

 

[via] Autoblog