Richard Hammond crashes again in enduro race

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Our favorite rodent host of Top Gear, Richard "The Hamster" Hammond, was involved in an on-track collision last Saturday during an endurance race at Silverstone behind the wheel of a BMW 330 DTi Sport. Hammond, of course, was almost killed last September when he lost control of a jet-powered dragster at 288 MPH. This time Hammond merely collided with a car that was trying to overtake him. Reportedly traveling around 100 MPH at the time, he was able to limp the BMW off the track and wait for a tow to the pits where the car was repaired so he could continue racing. Fellow hosts Jeremy Clarkson and Jay Mays, as well as their mystery driver, the Stig, were also taking turns with the BMW last weekend.

The one-year anniversary of Hammond's near death experience in a jet car is September 20th. While his most recent incident is hardly newsworthy in and of itself, the fact it's his first since the jet car accident and comes almost exactly one year later makes it an interesting piece of news. Hammond, however, doesn't think there's much to report here, saying ""Reports of my shunt this weekend have been greatly exaggerated." Regardless, no one can say that Richard Hammond doesn't lay it on the line for his craft, that's for sure.

Thanks for the tip, Filip!

[Source: AOL Entertainment]

 

[via] Autoblog

Frankfurt 2007: Le MANSORY Convertible

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Click image for high-res gallery

Over in Frankfurt, MANSORY has its latest creation on display. The Continental GTC-based LeMANSORY Convertible is one of Bentley's delectable ragtops that's been subsequently outfitted with the Le MANSORY body and tuning package. Sadly, the widebody kit obscures the GTC's classy art-deco lines in the name of giving the car a racier look. Black wheels and grille inserts contrast to the bright white bodywork, and the interior is transformed by a retina-scorching white-and-red full leather/Alcantara package. That color scheme is carried into the engine compartment, where the modifications are more to our liking.

The MANSORY performance kit ups the twin-turbo W12's output from 552 hp to a stout 641 horses @ 6100 RPM and a tire-destroying 575 lb-ft of torque at just 1600 rpm. As you might imagine, the performance numbers reflect the added punch. 0-60 happens in 4.4 seconds and the car's claimed top speed is 205 mph. A Brembo brake upgrade adds the required stopping power, and a new exhaust system that exhales via quad ports lets the neighbors know about the evil underhood. Only 24 LeMANSORY kits will be sold, so if you don't like it, don't worry. Chances are you'll never see one in the wild anyway.

MANSORY's full press release is pasted after the jump.

[Source: MANSORY via Motor Authority]

Continue reading Frankfurt 2007: Le MANSORY Convertible

 

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Brilliant recovery? Brilliance BS6 garners 3 stars in Spain crash test

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Following its utterly calamitous performance in crash tests conducted by Germany's ADAC, Chinese automaker Brilliance said that it would work with the German body to improve the car's safety. To be honest, we don't know if any such changes have been designed or implemented yet, but apparently, Brilliance has done something.

According to a wire report carried by Forbes.com, the Brilliance BS6 has been tested by Spain's Idiada Automotive Technologies SA. Unlike the test in Germany earlier this summer, the Brilliance garnered a 3-star rating as it passed the test performed in accordance with Euro NCAP guidelines. According to Brilliance, that's the best rating ever for a Chinese car tested under the European standards. According to the report, Brilliance plans on using this test success to drum up business in Europe and the US. Unfortunately, we haven't come across any photos or video of the Spanish test yet. If and when we do, we'll post them so you can compare them to the ADAC test the car failed earlier in the summer.

[Source: AFX News via Forbes.com]

 

[via] Autoblog

Audi R8 downed in Moscow

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The Audi R8 isn't even on sale yet in most parts of the globe, but already we've heard of cars going up in flames in Germany and now we have a story about one that's gone amok in downtown Moscow. From the images, it appears the driver lost of control of the car in the wet weather, skidded across onto the median strip and then crashed into a small tree before spinning to a stop. The car must have been traveling at some speed because the crash managed to rip out the car's headlight out, projecting it several meters away onto a small patch of grass.

R8 Crash -- headlightEvery time we see a crashed exotic, we wonder when more car companies will start offering some kind of advanced driver training course as part of the car's purchase. Then again, there's no way to prevent the stupidity that makes someone want to speed in a built-up urban area in the wet. We hope the driver was at least smart enough to have insurance because it appears this R8 will have one very hefty repair bill.

There are plenty more photos at English Russia. Click the "Read link" or either pic shown here to head over. If you're easily saddened by exoticar wreckage, keep a box of Kleenex handy.

[Source: English Russia]

 

[via] Autoblog

Own an Aston Martin DBS, get a watch... for another $34,500

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Click image to view the high-res version, the DBS gallery

The Aston Martin DBS is one exclusive, expensive ride, with only 500 copies of the $250,000 car scheduled to be made each year. To up the exclusivity factor while also giving deep-pocketed DBS owners the ability to play James Bond, Swiss watchmaker Jaeger LeCoultre has designed a very exclusive chronograph strictly for DBS owners. The AMVOX2 chronograph has over 400 parts and costs an absolutely stunning $34,500. The timepiece, which is limited to 999 grade 5 titanium editions and 300 more exclusive Rose Gold wrist jewels, can actually open your DBS for you. Spending $35k on a good looking watch so you don't have to carry a key fob seems drastic to us poor folk, but when you've got money to burn, it's nice to pony up for items that are at least functional.

While the exclusive chronograph is an impressive piece of Swiss engineering, the best part of the equation is that the watch will likely never lose its value, and owners will undoubtedly be rewarded handsomely if they ever try to sell their prized bauble. Funny thing about a watch with 400 parts: when an autommaker over-engineers a part with too many components, it leads to more recalls and lower resale value. In a Swiss watch, a bunch of fancy parts makes it worth 1,000 Casios.

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

 

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Ford to Jag and Land Rover: Don't let the door hit you on the way out!

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Ford is working hard to unload Jaguar and Land Rover, and unlike Aston Martin deal, the Oval wants to be completely out. While Ford kept a small stake in Aston just like Daimler did with Chrysler, whoever buys the other two British brands will have to take everything.

Ford's European boss, Lewis Booth, spoke in Frankfurt this week and told reporters that the company wants final bids by the end of September and the deal closed by the end of the year. According to Booth, Ford needs the cash and wants to rid itself of distractions from its core businesses. Evidently, it feels that keeping a stake might be no better than keeping the whole thing, and it would still ultimately be responsible for what happens to the two companies.

[Source: Detroit News]

 

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"Stepneygate" verdict reached: McLaren stripped of '07 championship points, fined $100 million

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The ongoing "Stepneygate" espionage scandal that has embroiled Formula 1 this summer has drawn to a conclusion (for the time being, at least), and the World Motor Sport Council has meted out some severe punishment. McLaren F1 has been stripped of all its constructors' championship points for the 2007 season and fined $100,000,000 USD -- a record amount. This puts Ferrari in the points lead and makes them the probable champions this year. The BBC also reports that McLaren must prove that none of its cars are making use of any improperly-obtained Ferrari intellectual property before the beginning of next year's F1 campaign.

McLaren will finish out the current F1 season on the track, and both Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso have retained their accumulated drivers' championship points. The FIA's findings and the council's reasoning behind its verdict will be released tomorrow. McLaren boss Ron Dennis will apparently wait to see this information before making a final decision on whether he's going to appeal the council's decision, though based on his quotes in the BBC's report, it sounds like his mind's made up, and an appeal is all but inevitable.

Thanks to all who sent tips!

[Source: BBC]

 

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Mexico bombings affecting Big 3, VW, Honda manufacturing operations

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Mexico flagA series of recent bombings targeting natural gas pipelines in southern Mexico has now caused five carmakers to halt production in the country. The attacks have apparently been the work of the Popular Revolutionary Army, a rebel group in the state of Veracruz.

General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Volkswagen and, most recently, Honda, have all had to close plants in the past couple of days due to a lack of natural gas needed to power operations. A number of additional plants as well as supplier's plants may be affected over the next few days as well.

GM is working to switch over to propane at some of its plants, but others will remain closed until the natural gas supplies are restored. The Mexican oil company Pemex expects to have the pipelines restored and running again sometime between Sunday and Monday.

[Source: Detroit Free Press and Automotive News]

 

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Hell hath no fury like today's eBay Find of the Day

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If you're working on a '66 Chevy pickup with the hopes of getting it featured on the drag-racing reality show, PINKS, it's generally not a great idea to walk out on your significant other, leaving said project vehicle in the driveway. Chances are you're not going to be popular, and any vestiges you left behind are in danger. We don't know how far along the build was, but seriously: nothing says "FAST" like one of those foot-shaped accelerator pedals. Now it can all be yours, courtesy of eBay.

Foot pedalThe listing's full of fun, with lines like, "I don't know much about the truck since to me it is a piece of junk... All I know is that the Jerk spent hours watching "Pinks" and said this was the truck that was going to win it all out... whatever that means," and "I don't know how many miles are on it... It has a 10 on the side of it... if that helps, cash only, pick up only, I suggest a trailer, but it does run and crank, it just gets hot or something... I don't know the loser probably just couldn't drive it."

Ain't love grand? Click either photo to go bid on it. Plan on going higher than 800 bucks.

Thanks for the tip, Jamie!"

[Source: eBay]

 

[via] Autoblog

Frankfurt 2007: Mercedes-Benz A-Class Edition 10 anniversary edition

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Click the photo of the Anniversary A-Class for a high res gallery

Ten years on from a rather inauspicious start, Mercedes-Benz has released an Edition 10 anniversary model for the A-Class. When the original Mercedes-Benz A-Class failed miserably in a double lane change test (rolling over at speeds that most cars handled with no problem) in the hands of some Swedish media, the company had to quickly recall the first few months production and retrofit a stability control system and some suspension and tire changes.

The A-Class is now an established part of the Mercedes lineup and the anniversary edition adds special 16" alloy wheels, a new grille and a louvered panoramic sunroof. The Edition 10 is also available in an exclusive mountain grey metallic finish. Another option that will be available is a service contract that covers all maintenance and repair on the car for 10 Euros a month.

[Source: Mercedes-Benz]

Continue reading Frankfurt 2007: Mercedes-Benz A-Class Edition 10 anniversary edition

 

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AutoblogGreen for 09.14.07

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This could get good. Chrysler announced ENVI yesterday, a semi-independent, start-up-like organization that will focus on electrically driven vehicles. Sounds like the Volt is causing ripples. Speaking of the Volt effect, GM seems to want to cause even more ripples by already advertising the concept car, years before a production version might see dealer lots. Oh, yeah, it's going to get good.

 

[via] Autoblog

France set to invade Germany

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Renault and Citroen are winding up to launch a frontal assault on the German car market. Germany is Europe's largest automotive market, filled with über-drivers that demand cars that set the performance and luxury standard for the rest of Europe, and arguably the world. The French automakers want a larger piece of the German market, as well as further global expansion, too. Renault is bringing the fight to Germany with their new Laguna. The Laguna was designed specifically to appeal to the tastes of German buyers, with Renault's German marketing department making sure the car met the needs and desires of the Deutschland buyer. Hopes are high that the Laguna will bolster profits for Renault. It's an attempt to crack into the $35,000 price range, where profits are fatter, yet buyers are more demanding.

Citroën is also trying to push into the luxury market. Long known for small and medium-sized cars, the brand's C6 is attempting to mix it up on Mercedes, Audi, and BMW's turf. Citroën has a plan to bolster its credibility as a maker of luxurious cars, such as drawing the line from the DS to the C6, while also improving the dealer and support experience to keep customers smiling. Both brands don't yet have the volume in the German market that they desire, but have pledged that Germany is crucial to their survival plans.

[Source: Reuters]

 

[via] Autoblog

BMW 1-Series to start below $30k

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A new entry-level car from a premium European brand will be washing up on our shores when the BMW 1-Series arrives carrying a price tag slightly under $30,000. Much the same way as Volvo's looking to its bobbed-tail C30 to recruit younger buyers into the fold while offering an appropriately flavored confection of a car, the 1-Series has the task of winning customers who would love a Roundel on the hood, but can't swing the 3-series. Having done the truncated poop deck on the E36 318ti, BMW decided to go with a traditional three-box profile this time around.

Where former entry-level efforts from premium European brands have not inspired drivers, the 1-Series has everyone buzzing. While the 135i gets the 335's delectable 300-HP drivetrain, good for a 5.1 second run to 60 mph, even the "entry level" 128i will have plenty of snort. The 128i will make do with 230 horses, giving up a second in the accelerative dash, yet taking it about $5,000 easier on your checkbook. We expect that BMW has learned from its 318ti experience, and the interior will not be a cheapened affair when compared to the 3-series, but will carry the same high quality materials, super comfortable seats, and impossibly tight fits. It's getting to be so you can't swing a cat without hitting a slightly-sub-30K vehicle with a spiffy emblem on the rump. We like that.

[Source: Auto News - sub req.]


 

[via] Autoblog

Chrysler turns green with ENVI

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Chrysler's efforts to develop more environmentally-friendly vehicles have been distinctly overshadowed by the drama of their divorce from Chrysler and that 800lb green gorilla called Volt. New CEO Bob Nardelli is continuing to shake things up, though. Just a week after hiring Jim Press away from Toyota, Chrysler has set up a new group called ENVI.

ENVI is a skunk works project that will focus on the development of electrically-driven vehicles for Chrysler. It'll operate semi-independently within Chrysler to bring together all the technologies that are being worked on in various corners of the Auburn Hills tech center. Lou Rhodes has been appointed President of ENVI and he will report directly to Product Development VP Frank Klegon and Purchasing chief Simon Boag. The Chrysler press release is after the jump.

[Source: Chrysler]

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SSC (almost officially) takes top speed record

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And the award for Top Speed Achieved by a Production Automobile goes to: Shelby Supercars' Ultimate Aero Twin Turbo. Claiming a stretch of public road in Washington State for the effort, the SSC UATT made two runs in accordance with Guinness Book of World Record rules, one in each direction. The first run clocked 257.11 MPH, the second, return one came in at 254.55 MPH. The average: 255.83 MPH. That bests all challengers -- yes, even the Veyron -- by at least 3 MPH.

For comparison, the SSC's V8 packs 1,183 BHP and 1,094 ft-lbs. as opposed to the Veyron's 16 cylinders, 1,001 HP, and 922 ft-lb. In addition to a bigger punch, the SSC also carries less weight: 2,700 pounds versus the Veyron's 4,162. Much of the Veyron poundage no doubt is attributable to its interior, which is a splendid place to be even when you're not doing 250+. SSC still needs to submit the paperwork and get official certification from Guinness before it's run is, as we say, officially official. Intriguing, though, that of all the names mentioned, the one not broached was the previous holder of the top speed record: the Callaway Sledgehammer.

[Source: Jalopnik]

 

[via] Autoblog

Future Ferrari: lighter weight, 2+2 V8, new supercar

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Ferrari's getting in on the environmental game. Well, relatively speaking. The next supercar from the home of the prancing horse will be lighter and use a lower-displacement engine, but still have at least 500 HP. Thoughts are that such a car would derive its powerplant from the one mooted for the Millechili concept shown earlier this year. Though the car shown was nothing more than cardboard, the powerplant spoken of was a twin-turbocharged, direct-injection, 550-hp, 3.0-liter V-8.

The other big news is more information on Ferrari's No-It's-Not-A-Dino. Instead, what will be revealed early next year is a 2+2 V8 with a 4.3L V8 mounted up front. Other changes to the rest of Ferrari's line have taken a back seat due to the marque's growing popularity. The 599 hardtop convertible has been put on hold in light of the coupe's 18-month waiting list. The 612 will remain unchanged until its replaced in 2010.

[Source: Auto News, sub req'd]

 

[via] Autoblog

One Scoop or Three? Subaru Impreza STi may get "scooplets"

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While the world seems to know every minute detail of the new GTR and Evo X prior to their launch at the Tokyo Motor Show in October, there are conflicting views and reports regarding the exact appearance of the upcoming Subaru Impreza STI. Gold alloys or silver? Two exhausts or four? One scoop or three?

Yep, you read that right. At least one of the modelling mules at Subaru's Mitaka design studios appeared to have additional "scooplets" bracketing the tradional STI gaping hole. The picture above is Best Car's rendering of such a set up. We will bring you shots of the real deal just as soon as one is caught in the wild. Promise.

[Source: BestCar Magazine]

 

[via] Autoblog

UAW will deal with GM first in negotiations

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GM has been chosen as the lead company in the UAW contract renegotiation talks. That means that the UAW will come to a contractual agreement with GM first, and that contract will be used as the template for negotiations with the other two carmakers, Chrysler and Ford.

Of course, that also means that GM becomes the first target of a strike. The UAW's agreements with all three carmakers ends today, September 14th, and Chrysler and Ford have managed to work out extensions. GM, however, has not, and the UAW has told its members to be ready for a strike that could come as early as today.

[Source: Auto News, sub req'd]

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Jeep J8 marks brand's return to military duty

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Click image for high-res gallery of the Jeep J8

Remember those Jeep Wrangler pickup spy shots? Now we know the details. That vehicle was one of the variants of the new Jeep J8. The J8 is based on the Wrangler Unlimited and has been designed for military and civilian government use. It sports a reinforced frame and upgraded suspension that includes the much-discussed rear leaf springs that were pointed out in the earlier spy photos. Maximum payload is 2,952 lbs. as a result.

It'll be offered as both a four-door that looks mostly like the civilian Wrangler Unlimited and a 2-door pickup. Jeep sneakily showed off the pickup body on the very awesome SEMA-bound JT Concept earlier this year. The J8 is designed to be very flexible, and will be available in a variety of seating/cargo configurations in both left- and right-hand drive (again, this explains the RHD version captured in spy photos).

Power comes from a 158-horsepower / 295 lb-ft 2.8L 4-cylinder turbodiesel mated to a 5-speed automatic and Jeep's Command-Trac 4WD system. The powertrain affords the J8 a maximum towing capacity of 7,716 lbs. Another feature unique to the J8 is its air-intake system, which uses a hood-mounted snorkel that lets it ford bodies of water up to 30 inches deep and operate in sandstorm conditions up to five hours.

For full information on the J8, follow the jump for the official press release from Jeep. The truck made its debut today at the DSEi trade show in London, and it will be produced in Cairo, Egypt at a Chrysler LLC joint-venture facility. It will officially become available next Spring, though only for military and civilian government use. Sorry, no civilian sales will be offered.

[Source: Chrysler]

Gallery: Jeep J8

Continue reading Jeep J8 marks brand's return to military duty

 

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VIDEO: Flying car powered by, uh, firehoses?

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We're not sure where this takes place (it looks like it's probably somewhere in Europe), why it's being done or even what kind of car it is. But we do enjoy watching the pressure from about eight firehoses lift a small red hatchback off the ground. A fire brigade training exercise? A firemen's fraternity house prank? Idle hands doing the devil's work? It doesn't matter! It's a freaking car suspended on water.

However, if it turns out the car in question is by chance a Yugo, we think next time, just for funsies, and maybe to make the whole stunt more relevant, it should be filled with gasoline and set on fire. Just saying.

[Source: Live Leak via Reddit]

 

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MR2 redux snagged on transporter?

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Nah. Highly unlikely. In your dreams. That's what the folks at Toyota said as I handed the keys to the MR-S V-Edition back to them earlier this year and asked if Toyota had another mid-engined sports car on the drawing board.

So what, pray tell, is this litle number spotted on the back of a Toyota transporter near Nagoya earlier this summer? Toyota is keeping mum, but could this be another prototype from the Committee to create Interesting Cars? Let's hope so.

[Source: BestCar magazine]

 

[via] Autoblog