Clarkson climbing to new heights, literally

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While the new season of Top Gear is in full swing, Clarkson and crew are getting ready for their appearance at MPH '07, a European petrolhead extravaganza of the highest order. In addition to having over £27,654,000 worth of exotic metal on hand, including every 200+ MPH supercar ever built, Jezza will be racing a rock climber up a 40-foot tall, man-made mountain in a Land Rover Discovery. The steel construction took over three months to build, and will pit Clarkson and the climber against the clock in an indoor arena.

For those of you inclined to make the trek, the event will be taking place in two different locations, on November 1st through 4th in Earls Court and 8th through 11th at Birmingham's NEC. More information is available at the MPH '07 website.

 

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Pics Galore! Ferrari 430 Scuderia, inside and out and upside down

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Click on the image above to jump to our 52-image high-resolution gallery

Can't get enough of Ferrari's latest hotness? Neither can we, and the first batch of eight official images to come out of Maranello just weren't enough. So we flew out to Germany and got some more from the 430 Scuderia's unveiling at the Frankfurt auto show. But that still wasn't enough. So we got in touch with Ferrari North America to ask for more, but unfortunately our requests went unheeded.

Thankfully our Italian friends over at Automobilismo.it came to the rescue with a whole F1-calibre convoy full of new press images of the new Scuderia, that stripped-out supercar that laps Ferrari's private Fiorano test track faster than any Ferrari road car in the company's sixty-year history - including the Enzo.

Without confirmation from Ferrari, we can't be 100% sure these are all factory-issued, but until we hear otherwise, we give you this gallery of 52 high-resolution images. Enjoy them, because it can't have been easy for the photographer to get the 430 Scuderia to stay still for long.

Gallery: Ferrari F430 Scuderia



[Source: Ferrari via Automobilismo.it]

 

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eBay Find of the Day: Topless Taurus makes us Neff swoon

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Having healthy fascination with the SHO is one thing; that car was kick-ass, so the lust is understandable. This, on the otherhand, is just... wrong. Not even the novelty of a Taurus convertible can redeem this car from being anything more than a wrong-headed bucket of, um, fertilizer. Sawz-All roof treatment aside, there's still the paintwork to contend with. There's obviously a lot of time put into the design, but the color choice and odd striping work look more like someone did donuts in a bunch of spilled pigment than any kind of concerted effort to make the car look good. Then again, if you're chopping the roof off a first-gen Taurus (already made of wet spaghetti), affixing a big, stupid wing to the back and frenching the antennas (let's repeat that, dual frenched antennas. WTF? It's an '88 Taurus, not a '58 Skyliner), you're not much concerned with the way the end result actually looks. We're tempted to buy it just to burn it to the ground, it's only $3500, though apparently an appraiser saw $15,000 worth of value here. We beg to differ, though it'd be a sweet ride for next year's LeMons effort, which would also ultimately assure its destruction.

Thanks for the tip, Sean!

[Source: eBay]

 

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NO SOUP FOR YOU! Prodrive-McLaren deal cancelled

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If you've got your money on Prodrive making an unprecedented F1 debut next season, we'd recommend calling your bookie and changing your bet. The British racing consultancy was preparing to hit the grand prix circuit using equipment obtained through a deal with McLaren, but the agreement that was all but dotted and crossed has reportedly fallen apart.

Neither Prodrive nor McLaren have yet to comment, but according to Autosport.com, the deal is off. As we'd reported previously, Prodrive were to become an effective second McLaren team by using the same chassis next season, but that all depends on the FIA Court of Appeal's ruling on the legality of such an arrangement. That procedure was, according to Prodrive chief David Richards - also chairman of Aston Martin and former lyteam principal at first Benetton and then BAR-Honda - was the last obstacle standing between the new team and its fight for podiums in 2008. It would appear, however, that McLaren is less than confident that the regulatory body will rubber-stamp the customer-car deal, as they've reportedly told their employees not to prepare the additional Prodrive cars.

Mad props to our reader andybee for the tip!

[Source: Autosport]

 

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Spy Shots: Verve is the word for Ford

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Spy shooters abroad have snagged a handful of pics proving once again that Ford's next generation Fiesta will be influenced by the Verve concept shown in Frankfurt. The automaker's Kinetic design language will influence every aspect of the five-door's exterior, with a cleanly stylized front clip, tautly drawn headlamps and a steeply raked windshield. The boxy persona of the outgoing model will be dispatched in favor of more curves and sculpted lines, and while the rear spoiler may be a bit of a stretch on this prototype, we'd expect something closer to the concept's to make it to production.

It's expected that the Fiesta will find its way to the States once the hatch meets U.S. crash regulations and the styling fits in with Ford's other American offerings. Our only concern is how the three-bar grille treatment will affect an otherwise faultless front end.

[Source: World Car Fans]

 

[via] Autoblog

Suzuki has big plans for Kizashi Concept including Mondeo rival

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click above image for more pics of the Suzuki Kizashi Concept

We were fans of the Suzuki Kizashi Concept when we stumbled across it at the 2007 Frankfurt show, and are equally interested in the Kizashi 2 Concept debuting in Tokyo soon. The Japanese automaker apparently likes the concepts so much that it will be spawning no less than three production Kizashi models, including a CUV, wagon and four-door sedan that will reportedly rival the Ford Mondeo in Europe. The sedan will be the first to arrive in 2009, reports AutoCar, with the wagon and CUV slated for production a year later. That fact that this news is being reported by AutoCar, a UK-based automotive news outlet, and that the sedan is pegged as a Mondeo rival suggests these vehicles might not be destined for U.S. consumption. On the other hand, resurging Suzuki needs something to replace the mid-size Verona sedan that's no longer on sale in the U.S.

[Source: AutoCar]

Gallery: Suzuki Kizashi

 

[via] Autoblog

Honda to double North American production of the CR-V

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Recently, Honda has had issues with keeping supply and demand in check with its newest products. Waiting lists for everything from the Civic Si to the Honda Fit have become bones of contention with consumers, and the recently redesigned Honda CR-V was among them earlier this year. Sales of Honda's cute 'ute have been on an upwards trajectory during 2007, with over 167,000 units sold thus far -- a 44-percent jump over the previous year. Analysts contend that buyers who used to flock to the Ford Explorer are now looking at smaller, more fuel-efficient offerings, bolstering sales of the CR-V along with Toyota's RAV4.

Honda is constantly trying to keep a balance between imported and domestically made products, so it's considering doubling the North American production of the CR-V. The move would come at a perfect time, as CR-V sales have officially eclipsed sales of the Explorer, the U.S.'s best selling SUV for 14 years.

[Source: Detroit News]

 

[via] Autoblog

High rollers snatching up Phantoms as fast as Goodwood can make them

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click above image for more truly awesome shots of the 2007 Rolls-Royce Phantom

A quick snapshot of the world's richest people shows that the wealthy are padding their pockets at a blistering pace. With all that extra cash at the top of the food chain, cars with big price tags are flying off the shelves. Aston Martin has gone from making only a handfull of cars to producing over 7,000 per year, and Bentley has been riding the wave with its Continental and Flying Spur. The once financially challenged Rolls-Royce is also getting in on the game, enjoying a 22% increase in sales that's driving its Goodwood factory to the brink. Extra shifts and longer work hours are the result for rank and file, but we're sure most of them don't mind the extra coin. With the introduction of a Phantom coupe based off of the 110EX concept from Geneva coming in the next few weeks, the chaps from south England may need to break new ground just to fulfill demand.

It seems the ultra-luxury automaker isn't concerned with overpopulating the world with Rolls Royce luxury, either. The company is preparing a new lineup for 2010 that will expand Goodwood's offerings while also increasing the number workers employed. We may yet get a Rolls for more than a week, but then again, maybe not.

[Source: Motoring News]

 

[via] Autoblog

Honda S2000 CR starting at $36,300

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Click the image above for more high-res shots of the Honda S2000 CR.

Honda has officially priced the 2008 S2000, and for an extra $2,000 you can step up to the track-ready CR model for a cool $36,300 (not including $635 for shipping). As you've seen before, the S2000 CR nixes the soft top in favor of an aluminum hardtop, and comes equipped with a revised suspension and new aero bits while simultaneously shedding the pounds (99 with roof, 51 without). If you're not inclined to make the trek to the track sans air conditioning and tunes, they can both be added for an additional $1,000.

The new for 2008 S2000 gets redesigned 18-inch wheels, retuned spring and damper rates that improve high-speed stability and steering feel, along with a tire pressure monitoring system and a new instrument cluster with redesigned fuel and temp gauges.

Honda's full press release is after the jump, and be sure to check out the S2000 CR's gallery below.

[Source: Honda]

Gallery: Honda S2000 Club Racer

Continue reading Honda S2000 CR starting at $36,300

 

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Volkswagen Touareg R50: Stump pulling in style

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Click the image above for a gallery of high-res pics of the Touareg R50.

After releasing a teaser last week, Volkswagen finally let loose official details about the Touareg R50 before its debut at the Sydney Motor Show this Sunday. VW tweaked the ECU to huff extra boost into the twin-turbo'd 5.0-liter V10 TDI, which now produces 350 HP at 3,500 RPM and peak torque of 627 lb.-ft. at 2,000 RPM. That allows the bespoke blue behemoth to sprint to 62 in 6.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 146 MPH.

The Touareg's R-treatment isn't limited to the extra grunt, as VW's Individual group equipped the R50 with 21-inch rollers wrapped in 295mm gumballs that frame blue-painted brake calipers. The front clip gets a revised bumper and a grille coated in a matte finish, while flared wheel arches and new side skirts give the R50 a more planted persona. The inside gets swathed in Nappa leather complete with the "R50" logo stitched into the seats and engraved into the doorsills.

When the Touareg R50 goes on sale this November, consumers will have their choice of five color combos: Biscay Blue, Campanella White, Reflex Silver, Black Magic and Atacam Gray.

Volkswagen's press release is posted after the jump.

Gallery: Volkswagen Touareg R50

Continue reading Volkswagen Touareg R50: Stump pulling in style

 

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More job cuts for Chrysler, white collars beware

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Chrysler's deadline to hammer out a new contract with the UAW expires tomorrow. If common ground cannot be found by tomorrow morning at 11AM EST, the UAW could strike again. As if that weren't heavy enough news for the newly rebranded Chrysler LLC, it's being reported today that more job cuts are on the way for some 1,600 non-union workers. Though Chrysler's turnaround plan called for shedding 13,000 jobs by 2009, of which 2,000 were non-union, salaried white collar positions, the automaker is reportedly planning to lose an additional 500 salaried positions and 1,100 contracted jobs.

Though Chrysler did not comment to The Detroit News about the job cuts, one has to wonder whether or not these new non-union job cuts are being used as a bargaining tool to show the UAW that it's not just union members who are being asked to sacrifice for the greater good.

Sources from inside those contract negotiations are signaling that a strike may be likely as Chrysler is not in a position to offer the UAW an agreement similar to its tentative one with GM. For one, Chrysler's new owner, Cerberus Capital Management, is reportedly unwilling to offer the same level of job security by promising future products to U.S. plants like GM did. Chrysler also wants health care concessions it wasn't offered back in 2005 when similar concessions were given to both GM and Ford.

[Source: The Detroit News]

 

[via] Autoblog

Jason Plato injured when Caparo T1 bursts into flames at 150 mph

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Jason Plato, BTCC champion and Fifth Gear presenter, found himself in the midst of a Caparo T1 barbeque while testing the new supercar at the Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground in Leicestershire. According to Plato, he noticed a loss of power while traveling upwards of 150 MPH. He checked the outside mirror, saw smoke and then felt a rush of intense heat. The T1 "spontaneously erupted into a ball of flame," said Plato, who immediately stopped the Caparo and jumped out after sustaining burns to his neck, face and hands.

He was rushed to the hospital and is expected to consult a burn specialist later today. Plato still intends to compete at the final BTCC race this weekend at the Thurxton Circuit this Sunday, which coincides with his 40th birthday. Just be careful blowing out those candles, Jason.

[Source: Fifth Gear]

Continue reading Jason Plato injured when Caparo T1 bursts into flames at 150 mph

 

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No suicidal robots this year: GM may not run ads during Super Bowl

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GM is considering a hiatus from in-game advertising during the next Super Bowl. Mark LaNeve, GM's VP of vehicle sales, service, and marketing, said that the timing simply wouldn't be right. With no new cars or launches, there would be no reason to spend the $2.6+ million necessary for thirty seconds of air time during the big game.

Last year GM ran one 30-second spot and two 60-second spots. One of the 60-second commercials promoted GM's 100,000 mile warranty featuring a robot that, in what turned out to be a dream sequence, committed suicide. It was actually one of four suicide-themed commercials that came out around that time, all of which generated a fair bit of publicity and discussion about advertising standards. Under pressure from a variety of organizations, GM altered the ad's finale (see altered version here).

LaNeve didn't completely rule out any advertising during this year's Super Bowl, saying "We might end up there, but we haven't committed we'll be there." Cadillac, though, will still sponsor the post-game show and MVP award.

[Source: Auto News, sub req'd]

 

[via] Autoblog

Ferrari negotiating engine deal with A1GP

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Ferrari is apparently running out of F1 teams to supply with engines, so it's looking to other racing series altogether for new customers. For the current season, the Maranello-based team had to have the rules bent so that they could supply their engines to not one but two additional teams on the grid (Spyker and Toro Rosso). No wonder then that half of the cars that finished in the points at this past weekend's penultimate Chinese Grand Prix were powered by Ferrari.

Like other single-seater racing series, A1GP, the self-described "world cup of motorsport", uses the same chassis and engines for all the teams. Lola and Zytek have been supplying the cars and power respectively, but with contracts up for renewal, rumors started to fly when Ferrari's sporting director Stefano Domenicali was seen at Silverstone during an A1GP test session. Ferrari has now confirmed that they're in negotiations with the series' organizers.

Rumor has it that the engine deal isn't the only thing A1GP chief Tony Teixeira is discussing with Ferrari, as insiders tip the South African businessman as a potential partner in Scuderia Toro Rosso, which would effectively become Ferrari's B-squad in the developing "super team" saga.

[Sources: F1i.com and autosport]

 

[via] Autoblog

Lamborghini Embolado Concept: a bull only Picasso could love

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click above image for more high-res pics of the Lamborghini Embolado Concept

Design students hatch some crazy concepts because they're not hindered by the mind numbing effects of product planners, bean counters, focus groups and the like. We think the Lamborghini Embolado Concept by Italian design student Luca Serafini makes a good case for why those hindrances are in place. Of course, beauty's in the eye of the beholder, so perhaps you disagree, but to us the Embolado Concept looks a Picasso painting that's been shrink wrapped around a Gallardo. Named after a Spanish festival called the Tore Embolado, which means 'bull in balls' (what is it with Lambos and weird translations?), the concept was reportedly inspired by "aggressivity", as if that's something Lamborghini's sold today lack. What do you think? Are we on the money or would this thing be the new hotness if it were actually real? Serafini apparently thinks there's a business case for it, as he also designed a Superleggera version for consideration.

[Source: Car Body Design via Motor Authority]

Gallery: Lamborghini Embolado Concept

 

[via] Autoblog

Tokyo 2007 Preview: Honda PUYO Concept wants you to touch it

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click above image for more pics of the Honda PUYO Concept

Honda's second concept that will debut at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show is the PUYO. The name is an onomatopoeia that, according to Honda, "expresses the sensation of touching the vehicle's soft body." Sounds kinky, but the PUYO's "gel body" actually is soft, which Honda claims increases safety. For some reason, we still wouldn't want to collide with one in a cross walk. According to this pic, however, the PUYO glows in the dark and therefore would be hard not to notice while crossing the street at night.

Since the theme of Honda's display this year is "For the endless joy of mobility on our earth," the PUYO is not surprisingly a green vehicle powered by a fuel-cell. It's design is that of a cornerless box, which provides the functionality of a cube-like design with a soft presence lacking any edges. The tiny wheels are at the extreme corners of the vehicle, and the pic above reveals that the PUYO can perform 360-degree turns in place. As the body turns to all glass above the beltline, it's apparent that Honda designers were intent on maximizing the feeling of spaciousness inside the PUYO. Just check out the size of those scissor doors!

Inside the PUYO you'll find an instrument panel monitor and a cloth dash that actually rises up when the vehicle is started, as well as a trick lighting system, "luminous fluid meter displays" and a joystick instead of a steering wheel.

Quirky and impractical probably best describes the PUYO, which is exactly what we expect from most concepts that debut in Tokyo.

[Source: Honda]

Gallery: Honda PUYO Concept

Continue reading Tokyo 2007 Preview: Honda PUYO Concept wants you to touch it

 

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[via] Autoblog