VIDEO: Drag racer crashes at over 300 MPH

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Most people attending drag races expect to see cars accelerate to breakneck speeds in a matter of mere seconds. However, as sick as it sounds, there's always the excitement one gets from seeing a car crash out of control at these same speeds. This is a rare occurrence, but every now and again, it does happen. This time, show goers at a drag meet in Brisbane, Australia witnessed a high-speed crash and we have the footage of the whole thing. As violent as it all seems, we're glad to hear the driver walked away with only a cut on his finger.

Check out the video after the jump.

[Source: AOL Video]

Continue reading VIDEO: Drag racer crashes at over 300 MPH


[via] Autoblog

0-300 in 10 minutes: Honda Civic Mugen RR a sellout in Japan

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Honda Civic MUGEN RR
Click image for photo gallery

The Honda Civic Mugen RR (based on the new JDM Honda Civic Type R) is limited to a total production run of 300 cars. Japanese track fiends with ¥4.7million to spend on a spiffy, street-legal time attack weapon are its target audience -- and a receptive one at that. On September 14th at 9:00 AM local time in Japan, reservations for Mugen's ultimate Type R officially began being taken. By 9:10 AM, according to the Japanese enthusiast site, Carview, the 300th reservation was placed. However you want to parse the numbers (we're sure additional reservations were taken, in case some prospective buyers bail out), one thing's certain: all 300 cars are spoken for well in advance of the expected January delivery date.

Those lucky enough to secure the Mugen RR receive a lighter, more powerful and track-tuned Civic Type R that in the right hands is capable of lapping Japan's Tsukuba circuit in 1:06:38. At least that's what the folks at Mugen were able to wring out of it. We're sure some of the car's buyers will be looking to top that number as soon as they have a chance. With this thing, life is a driving game, and Time Attack mode is always on.

[Source: Carview]


[via] Autoblog

Spy Shots: Five-door Ford Fiesta/Verve

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Our friends over at World Car Fans procured a series of shots showing the next generation Fiesta undergoing testing, but this time it's sporting an extra set of doors. The five-door model, like its two-door sibling, will take cues from the Verve Concept that debuted last week in Frankfurt and gets an Iosis-inspired front end, complete with drawn-back headlamps and a steeply raked windscreen. The beltline moves northward in Florida-retiree style, terminating in an upswept D-pillar, while the roof-mounted wing may portend the future of a hot hatch version.

You can check out all the shots from WCF here, and compare it to its concept counterpart by checking out gallery below.

[Source: World Car Fans]


[via] Autoblog

Signing bonuses may get GM and UAW over hump

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Although labor talks between GM and the UAW have been going on since the union's contract expired last Friday at 11:59 PM EST, we've been following the late-night negotiations from afar, waiting for something that amounted to more than the mainstream media's perpetually boring status updates. That finally came today in an article in the Detroit News, which reports GM may be considering signing bonuses for current works in an effort to win the hearts and minds of the proletariat if the automaker drops billions of dollars in retiree health care costs.

It's estimated that of the 270,000 retired workers and their 70,000 surviving spouses, GM will need to pay over $50 million in health care costs - but it doesn't have the funds. The move to offer signing bonuses to current workers was devised so that GM could lose the insurmountable health care costs that will likely go up in the coming years, and replace them with lump sums now, when the General can afford it.

The plan is to set up union-controlled trust funds that would receive stocks and cash, and would negate the need for GM to foot the bill. However, negotiations, which have been in constant turmoil, have broken down again, with the two parties conflicted on how much money to throw into the assets and what happens if health care costs exceed the amount of money stored up by the UAW.

[Source: Detroit News]


[via] Autoblog

Updates on Audi: A1 coming, Tokyo concept, A8/Bentley diet

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4Car sat down with Michael Dick, a member of Audi's board who heads up the product engineering side of things, and came away with new insights on the MINI-fighting A1, the future of Bentley and what products are waiting in the wings.

Starting small, Audi's new A1 will not share the all-aluminum construction of the less-than-popular A2, instead using the steel PQ24 platform that underpins the VW Polo and Skoda Fabia. It will be distinctly Audi in its design, albeit in a small package, and will feature a number of technologies - specifically the MMI setup - that's found in the quad-ring's luxury offerings. Don't expect Quattro in the beginning, nor will a three-door body be offered at first, but Dick confirmed that there would be a concept debuting in Tokyo next month that hints at the A1's styling.

Audi is also developing a new alloy structure for the A8 that will underpin the next generation of Bentleys, and will likely reduce the overall weight of both models by over 300 pounds. Also, the reworked A3 is coming next year, along with a convertible version, while the Q5 will arrive in 2008 complete with either a hybrid drivetrain or a diesel engine - both slated for sales in the U.S.

[Source: 4Car]


[via] Autoblog

Tokyo Preview: Mazda's concept-inspired rotary coupe

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click above image for more pics

Word from inside the pages of an unnamed Japanese auto mag is that this car will debut on the Mazda stand at this year's Tokyo Motor Show next month. The coupe is obviously inspired by the trio of concepts that Mazda debuted on the auto show circuit last year: the Nagare, Ryuga and Kabura concepts. While we don't know if these pics are official from Mazda or merely renderings produced by the magazine, we can tell you that at least the head on shot is a touched up version of a Kabura sketch. In fact, the entire car looks mostly like a production version of the Kabura Concept, though it features cues from all three concepts.

Though it's not known whether it would be front- or rear-wheel drive, the article is reported to mention that it would be powered by the next generation of Mazda's rotary engine, the RENESIS(2), which itself will incorporate the first increase in displacement of a Mazda rotary engine from its famous 1.3 liters since 1974.

Regardless of whether or not these are official pics, one thing's for sure is that they show a car we'd want to buy. Ever since seeing the Nagare, Ryuga and Senku concepts, we've wondered how those radical concepts might translate into a production car, and we might have our answer in a few weeks.

Thanks for the tip, Michael!



[via] Autoblog

Edo Competition reworks the 911 GT2 R, now with 997 flavor

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Click the pic above for more high-res images of the EDO Competition 911 GT2 R.

Don't be deceived. Although the front clip of this EDO-tuned GT2 may look like the 997 variant that debuted last week in Frankfurt, it's actually a carbon fiber replica that makes use of the headlight design employed on the new breed of 911s. Obviously, there's much more to the EDO Competition GT2 R than just a facelift, as evidenced by its massive fender flares, extreme body kit and Chicago-style deep-dish wheels.

The GT2 R gets a series of upgrades, beginning with the engine, which benefits from a new exhaust and a retuned ECU bumping power output to 542 HP and 557 lb.-ft. of torque. The stock suspension has been ditched in favor of KW adjustable coilovers, while the brakes have grown to 380 mm up front and 350 mm in the rear, clamped by 4-piston fixed calipers.

The rolling stock is comprised of 18-inchers at all four corners, measuring 10-inches wide up front and a massive 13-inches in the rear. All four wheels are shod in top-of-the-line Michelin Pilot Sports, sized 235/45 in front and 335/30 out back.

Top speed: 205 MPH. 0-62: 3.8 seconds. 0-124: 11 flat. Bad-ass factor: immeasurable.

[Source: EDO Competition]

Gallery: Edo 997 GT2 R


[via] Autoblog

Parking stripe ads assault the senses from beneath your feet

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My father used to stripe parking lots as a side business, and while still with us, he will nonetheless find a grave, hop in it, and roll over after learning that his beloved lines are now being taped over with advertisements. Parking Stripe Advertising, a three years young agency from Colorado, is responsible for this scheme that covers those long yellow and white lines with a heavy-duty tape bearing promotional ads. The advertisements themselves cost about $40 per stripe and are made using a heavy-duty tape that's recyclable with adhesive that breaks down over time.

A current promotion advertising the return of ABC's Desperate Housewives is running concurrently in California and New York, and it appears to be a hit with the parking crowd, though store owners have reported a few complaints. Otherwise, consumers and advertising analysts alike think the idea is brilliant for the way it captures one's attention in a new and unique way.

[Source: Daily News via]

Continue reading Parking stripe ads assault the senses from beneath your feet


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Spy Shots: Fiat 500 Abarth SS

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Before you overlook the Fiat 500 Abarth SS as just another sporty hatch that will be sold in a few select European markets, note that it could be sold in the U.S. as well as Asia-Pacific as an alternative to cars like the MINI Cooper. In July, Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne hinted that selling the 500 outside of Europe was a definite option, although nothing has been confirmed.

Abarth is now a performance line for Fiat models and the new 500 Abarth SS and its larger Fiat Grande Punto Abarth SS sibling are set to arrive in European showrooms early next year. These new spy shots depict the Fiat 500 Abarth SS, a hot little hatch with a 1.4L turbocharged engine developing a rumored 180 HP, the same amount as the larger and heavier Punto version. There will also be a sports handling pack to make sure owners can take advantage of the extra bump in power, with stiffer springs and wider tires than the base 500.

To differentiate it from the 500 minicar on which it's based, developers have also added new bumpers with larger air intakes, a set of hood scoops, a roof mounted spoiler and dual exhaust pipes.

[Source: Auto Motor Und Sport]


[via] Autoblog

MINI may be working on even smaller model

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What could possibly be smaller than a MINI? We're likely to find out in a few years as Motoring File reports that BMW is in the early stages of developing an even smaller model to join the MINI lineup around 2011 or 2012. The Bavarian automaker needs a new ultra small car to improve its corporate average CO2 emissions, but such a vehicle wouldn't jive with the BMW brand image. Enter MINI, which is now adding the larger Clubman model to its lineup, but will likely find itself with an even smaller car to help out its parent company. Motoring File surmises such a car could cost as little as £8,500, or about £2,000 to £3,000 less than the least expensive MINI on the market now, the MINI One.

A smaller MINI may actually move the retro brand closer to the car from which it sprung, the original MINI Cooper. The current car resembles the original in appearance, but is considerably larger, even more so since the second gen. debuted. The original MINI developed by Sir Alec Issigonis (on a napkin, no less) was only as large as it absolutely needed to be. It would be great to see today's MINI pumping out vehicles that adhered to that standard again.

[Source: Motoring File]


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Ford might increase cuts in slow economy

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Mark "the Mullet" Fields dropped some small ordinance during an interview with the Wall Street Journal today, saying that if the slow U.S. economy puts the automaker at risk of not meeting its financial goals for the next two years, it may increase the rate at which it will cut costs.

To quote Ford's executive veep of North and South American operations, "There's more risk than there is opportunity going forward." Fields maintains that the combination of the turmoil-ridden home mortgage market, weak job numbers and increased debt among U.S. borrowers might cause Ford to slow production down in the fourth quarter to avoid excess inventory, a problem that plagued Chrysler last year around this time.

The adjustments are a last resort, and according to Ford, it's currently on track to meet its goals as long as things stay stable. Nevertheless, you can bet Fields has his fingers crossed.

[Source: Wall Street Journal]


[via] Autoblog

BMW debuting dual-clutch gearbox in M3 sedan

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The expansion of BMW's M3 lineup is expected to take place sooner than we anticipated, and a new version of the Bavarian bomber will finally put the oft-maligned sequential gearbox to rest. According to Auto Telegraaf, BMW will be debuting the M3 sedan at a major Stateside auto show, likely L.A. or Detroit, and along with an extra set of doors, it'll be sporting the automaker's new dual-clutch gearbox. Rumored to be dubbed "M DCT," the new 'box will get seven forward gears that can be controlled by either a new shift lever, much like the one found in the new X5, or steering-wheel mounted paddles shifters. BMW also plans to offer a traditional six-speed manual for those who prefer to row their own gears.

The regularly spied convertible version of the M3 is also on its way, which is proving to be an engineering challenge for the M-division due to the extra tonnage the retractable hardtop tacks onto the curb weight. We've heard that a track-bred CSL is also under development, and that its debut is likely to take place some time in 2009.

[Source: Auto Telegraaf via Motor Authority]


[via] Autoblog

Officially Official: Toyota debuts 8th generation Land Cruiser

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click above image for more pics of the 8th generation Toyota Land Cruiser

We've already seen Toyota's 8th generation Land Cruiser thanks to a slip by the automaker's Honduran division, but that won't take away the company's pleasure of officially debuting the vehicle today ahead of its public reveal at the Australian International Motor Show in early October. The new Land Cruiser is completely redesigned with a look that evokes the Tundra's bold front end, but it's also 60mm longer and 30mm wider than the vehicle it replaces. The larger dimensions allow the new Cruiser to seat eight comfortably, though we'll wait until we sit in the third row ourselves to test that claim.

In Australia, Toyota will be offering the Land Cruiser with either a turbodiesel V8 or gas V8 engine. While the Australian press release didn't contain details on either powerplant, we found a European press release that states the diesel will be a 4.5L producing 286 HP and 480 ft-lbs. of torque, and it will be mated to a 6-speed automatic. The gas engine will be a 4.7L VVT-i V8 producing 288 HP and 328 ft-lbs. of torque, though its power will be divided by a 5-speed automatic. Since its sister SUV, the Lexus LX570, will go on sale in the U.S. with the Tundra's 5.7L V8, we expect the Land Cruiser to be offered in the States with that engine, as well.

[Source: Toyota]

Continue reading Officially Official: Toyota debuts 8th generation Land Cruiser


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DISKDRV doesn't like magnets

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Like many of us at Autoblog, we're pretty sure many of you are life-long computer geeks, which means, if you're old enough, somewhere in your house is a box (or boxes) of never-to-be-used-again floppy disks. Lara Weigand saw potential in those boxes of discarded data and decided her 1998 Honda Civic could use an exterior upgrade.

After painting hundreds of 3.5" and 4.25" floppies, Weigand glued them to the car, upgrading the Honda's storage capacity by at least half a gig. Such a valuable art car needs security, so we're glad to see she write-protected most of them.

Inside, Weigand's car features a dash plastered with sheets of punch cards and windows bordered by computer keys. On the wheels are processor chips and, fittingly, the door handles are covered with ESC keys.

The license plate, of course, reads DSKDRV. Write that down and if you ever see an improper driver taking the car through some bad sectors, it means someone has performed an illegal operation and should immediately be booted.

Check out TechEBlog for more photos.

Thanks for the tip, Mikkel!

[Sources: TecheBlog, Real Change News]


[via] Autoblog

Ford wants New Zealand safety ad pulled

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Safety campaigners and law makers in New Zealand have consistently complained about car ads showing any sense of speed and have since had them banned. Now the tables have turned with Ford reportedly unhappy over the latest anti-speeding ad from Land Transport New Zealand (LTNZ) because of the way it portrays one of its new cars.

The $2 million television ads shows a late-model Ford Falcon XR6 (pictured) sliding out of control and ending up in a ditch, and, according to a Blue Oval spokesperson, the ad breaches an agreement between the automakers and the LTNZ, which stipulates the make and model of cars in road safety ads are to be concealed.

The LTNZ is standing by its ad, claiming it doesn't breach any rules because the car's badging is gone, and expects it to air for the next 18 months. Fortunately for Ford, a new version of the Falcon is due to go on sale early next year.

[Source: The Age]


[via] Autoblog

VIDEO: Lamborghini shows off its Reventón

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Click the image above for more high-res shots of the Lamborghini Reventón

It's fast, it's rare, and it costs one million euros to own. The Reventón may well be the Lamborghini to end all Lamborghini's, but with only 20 copies ever scheduled to see their way through the assembly process, it may be too exclusive for its own good. Either way, 650 HP and 0-60 in 3.4, and slap you in the face styling are enough to keep enthusiasts of all ages up at night. The Reventón may be 20 copies exclusive, and none of us may ever see one on public roads, but that doesn't mean it isn't all over YouTube. Hit the jump to see 1:41 of a fast cut montage all about Lamborghini's one million euro baby.

Continue reading VIDEO: Lamborghini shows off its Reventón


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AutoblogGreen for 09.18.07

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What was it with animal cars yesterday? We had a leather MINI Cooper and then the return of Greenpeace's pink pigs. For American readers, the news that the VW Up! might come to our shores was most welcome, and we also heard Bob Lutz's thoughts on the Opel Flextreme.

Plus, if you like viral, somewhat offensive videos, you should probably see this Prius "ad." Or this one.


[via] Autoblog

Volvo enlists valets to understand its clientele

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The new Volvo slogan gleaned from hours of interviews with valets and Volvo owners: "Life is better lived together." When Volvo's new ad agency, Arnold Worldwide, went looking for a Volvo message that went beyond safety, it started with valets and parking attendants. They told Arnold that Volvo owners are friendly, generous, travel in company, and use their cars as more than showpieces.

Arnold then went to Volvo owners and discovered that they are "users, not havers," and they like to share. In fact, "89% of them put a premium on togetherness and sharing." The result is that six television spots will air that showcase Volvo owners as "'we' people as opposed to 'me' people."

Lifestyle marketing doesn't follow rational rules, but it will be interesting to see if buyers will connect being gregarious doers with owning a Volvo. If so, then Volvo might reverse its 9% decline in year-on-year sales so far this year. And if you're the person who actually did bring enough candy for everyone in the first grade, Volvo would like to have a word with you.

[Source: Ad Age]


[via] Autoblog

VW seeks identity of Nazi-themed ad parody poster on YouTube

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One mysterious home movie maker created a video that Volkswagen didn't like, and the German automaker isn't stopping at having the video pulled from YouTube. The home movie in question puts a Nazi spin on a recent VW Golf commercial, and VW has issued a subpoena in hopes of finding out the identity of the maker of the spoof. YouTube is fighting the subpoena with everything it has in an effort to protect its user base from future attacks, but in the end the courts will decide whether or not VW's copyright was infringed upon. Since YouTube is profiting from these videos, it seems like they're exposed to countless lawsuits, but VW is going after the video's creator.

While this lawsuit is certainly a big deal, the bigger picture is that social networking sites are under attack, even though creators aren't cashing in on their work. We can see why VW is interested in having removed any video that links it to the Nazis (unless it's a documentary), it's hard to imagine the lawyers from Wolfsburg have much legal ground to stand on. Then again, we're not lawyers, and crazier things have happened in a court of law.

[Source: Wired]


[via] Autoblog

Detroit automakers still grapple with perception gap

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"Import intenders" is the term used for car buyers who don't even consider domestic vehicles when planning their next purchase. And according to J.D. Power, they make up 54-percent of car buyers. In spite of Detroit's efforts, and in spite of improving testing scores, the Big Three have been unable to sway those buyers to their brands.

When Ford's ad agency put on a promotion called Swap My Ride, ordinary folks who drove Ford vehicles for a week raved about them. Buick just joined Lexus at the top of the J.D. Power long-term reliability survey. Yet when market research firm CNW holds focus groups with cars that have all of their branding removed, if people think the car is American their opinion of it automatically drops -- even if they're talking about a Toyota Camry. Having driven the new Cadillac CTS, which is a very good car, the biggest hurdle the brand will face when trying to lure BMW buyers is not the quality of the CTS -- it's the word "Cadillac."

There are a host of potential reasons for the reflex judgment of American cars = lesser quality. Detroit is building better cars than the ones that created the perception in the first place, but Ford, GM, and Chrysler aren't having much luck changing it. They are sure they can get more people to change their minds if they can just get them in the cars -- but they have to get them to even consider getting in the car. A solution is not just around the corner, but the first step will be to keep building good cars .

[Source: Wall Street Journal via Edmunds]


[via] Autoblog

One of five Ford dealers saying Five Hundred instead of Taurus

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Ford is learning change is not always a good thing when it comes to selling cars. Ford's dealers sold Taurus' for 20 years until the company ditched that name and began selling the Five Hundred. Until February, of course, when the Five Hundred became the Taurus again. At most dealerships.

Winding Road reports that CNW Marketing shopped around and found about 20-percent of Ford salespeople still trying to sell Five Hundreds instead of the revived Taurus. And another 60-percent of the sales team usually call it a Taurus, but occasionally let slip the old name.

We agree with Winding Road that Ford needs to get a handle on this. No matter how good the product, if your sales force can't even remember the proper name, how are the buyers supposed to? Personally, when I'm shopping for a car, if I know more about the car than the the person selling it, I walk. And if they can't get the name right, how am I supposed to believe them when they tell me the Taurus is the best car available? Come on folks, you've had six months to get used to Taurus rolling off the tongue, get out there and sell some cars.

If your Ford sales staff is having trouble keeping the two names straight, feel free to print our handy Field Guide to the Ford Taurus above.

[Source: Winding Road]


[via] Autoblog

Spy Shots: New Opel Vectra/Insignia interior shots

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The new Epsilon II based replacement for the Opel Vectra is now expected to make it's official debut at the Geneva Motor Show next March, and the first interior shots have now surfaced. A pretty much camo free prototype was nabbed while testing in Colorado and the photographer managed to get some shots of the interior. Judging from this mule it looks like the new Opel will have an interior almost identical to the GTC concept that was shown at Geneva this year.

In addition to a whole new look, the Vectra is also likely to get a different name. The new sedan will probably be called the Insignia, although it's likely to retain the Aura name when it shows up at Saturn dealers in 2009.

[Source: Car]


[via] Autoblog

Official Alfa Romeo Junior sketches surface

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Germany's Auto Motor und Sport has unearthed sketches and renderings of the upcoming Alfa Junior. Yet another car they get over there, that we wish we could have over here. Automakers usually counter hatch lust with the party line that they're not popular in America, so we'll see what Alfa puts on the US bound boats.

Based on the Fiat Grande Punto's platform, the Junior will launch in 2008. The tightly-wrapped hatch bodywork will cover power units ranging from 95 to 230 horsepower, with all wheel drive also making an appearance on the option list. There's a tinge of Gremlin in the C-Pillar, in a very stylish manner that only the Italians (and maybe the French) could get away with. Since they're targeting the 18-30 year old buyer, look for the style to remain high while Alfa attempts to hold the price down to about $16,000. Should the Junior closehaul its way westward across the Atlantic, we'll have another stylish and affordable car to mix it up with the MINI.

[Source: Auto Motor und Sport]


[via] Autoblog

BMW going to the dogs: Donates X3 to local Ohio K-9 unit

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The K-9 unit in Hilliard, Ohio is completely funded by donations from local businesses and organizations. The latest firm to give something to the K-9 team is BMW Financial Services, which provided a specially modified BMW X3. The $50,000 SUV was given to the department in honor of the unit's second birthday and its stellar arrest record. The X3 was kitted out by BMW and other suppliers with a light bar, canine cage, remote controlled door latches, and it touted as being dog and criminal ready. In Hilliard at least, a dog's life has gotten just that much easier.

Thanks for the tip, Oss!

[Source: Auto-Talk]


[via] Autoblog

H&R tunes the Fiat 500

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H&R has gone after the diminutive Fiat 500 and developed a line of accessories and upgrades for the small hatchback. It's mostly show, but H&R does drop the suspension 30 millimeters and adds adjustable coilovers to the suspension. The rest of the mods comprise a handsome complement of body mods. There's a roof spoiler, a mesh grille, and 17-inch wheels from eMotion. Those wheels are mounted with spacers that broaden the shoulders of the 500, making the stance more musclebound. The friendly two-door 500 has emerged from H&R's gym looking great, especially in the monochromatic black of the car in the pictures. It's still got a long way to go to be menacing, but it's certainly less cute, a huge plus.

[Source: Carscoop]


[via] Autoblog