LA Show 2007: Faces in the crowd

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What would an auto show be without all those lovely models? Although they weren't deployed as numerously as at some other recent shows (Frankfurt, Tokyo and SEMA come to mind) Los Angeles had its fair share of pretty faces representing the various manufacturers. It also had a few celebrities floating around to make you know you were close to Hollywood. Former NBAer John Salley, racer Derek Bell, "The Transporter" himself, Jason Statham, architect Frank Gehry, and California's own Governator made it into our files this year. Aside from the ones in our gallery there were several others who proved too elusive even for our shutterbug corps, which included occasional helper Las de Alwis as well as several AB and ABG regulars. We'll just have to try harder next time.

Click image at right for high-res gallery of some of the beautiful people from Los Angeles.

Gallery: LA Show 2007: Faces in the crowd

Frank Gehry at right

 

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Lamborghini CEO shoots down LM002 revival rumors

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Fast Lane Daily got some camera time with Stefan Winkelmann, head of Lamborghini. After a discussing the 20-samples-only Reventon for a few minutes, Fast Lane's interviewer asks Winkelmann what he thinks of the Audi R8 and the effect it might have on the Gallardo. If you know anything about Mr. Winkelmann or Lamborghini, you already know his answer. And then Winkelmann is asked about the rumors of a Lamborghini SUV. With a smile, but with no hesitation, his answer was a brief two words: "No SUV." So there. Purists, you can rejoice now. Check out the entire video after the jump.

[Source: Veoh]

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BMW builds Ultimate Espresso Machine for Starbucks

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You can get Starbucks anywhere from airports to a hospital cafeterias. The coffee giant is so hot right now, even BMW Designworks USA is getting in on the act. The BMW designers created a state-of-the-art espresso machine design that can be purchased at Starbucks for use at home.

Asipring home barista? This machine is for you. Powered by Bimmer's 3.0L turbocharged inline-six, It fits on your countertop and lets you keep it simple with espresso or go more complex with cappuccino. The BMW designers even had enough tact to leave off the Bavarian Motor Werks roundel, which is a step in the right direction vs. what we've seen Ferrari do of late. The fancy and presumably expensive machine doesn't appear to have any BMW styling cues, but it does bear a slight resemblance to the center stack of a Chrysler Sebring. If it helps you save a bit vs. the $4.03 you shell out for a medium latte in one of the trendy Starbucks stores, it may pay for itself over time. Just try not to scald your hand when frothing. Those Starbucks people are, like, highly-trained professionals, you know.

[Source: BMW]

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LA 2007: 1936 Mercedes-Benz 290 Roadster Special

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Click on the image above to view in high-resolution

The SLR wasn't the only attention-grabbing roadster Daimler-Benz had on display at this year's LA show. Sitting front and center in between all the latest machinery from Mercedes was this unique classic, the 290 Special Roadster.

On loan from the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center USA, the bright orange convertible was a one-off drophead version of the 290-series flagship sedan that debuted in February 1933 at the Berlin Motor Show. Taking the place in Benz's 30's line-up where the S-Class sits today, the 290 came in short- and long-wheelbase versions (for personal or chauffeured use) and adopted the company's then-new swing axle technology.

This convertible is one-of-a-kind, built in 1936. It packs a 68hp 2.8-liter straight six driving through a 3-speed transmission and wrapped in some truly classic sheetmetal that gives you an idea for where the guys at Wiesmann may have drawn their inspiration. Check out the gallery below for all the elegant curves and details.


 

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Autoline on Autoblog with John McElroy

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John McElroy is host of the TV program "Autoline Detroit". Every week he'll bring his unique insights as an auto industry insider to Autoblog readers.

LONG LIVE THE PISTON ENGINE
by John McElroy

Every auto show I go to in the world all claim they're the "greenest" of them all. Same with LA.

But as I go around the displays looking at all the hybrids and diesels and flex-fuel cars, it sure looks like the piston engine is going to be around for a long time to come.

Invented over 100 years ago, you would have thought something could have surpassed the internal combustion engine by now. But it just hasn't happened.

Continue reading Autoline on Autoblog with John McElroy

 

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Asinine Engineering: Direct Exhaust Injection

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Hang around internet fora dedicated to increasing internal combustion performance long enough and you'll eventually run across this type of perpetual-motion misunderstanding. Seems a Vette 'boarder over at the GMModernMuscle Forum needs to study up on several principles before heading out half-cooked, wrench in hand. The brilliant idea that dawned above the poster's head like a 3-watt bulb was that instead of messing around with those ever so inefficient turbochargers, it'd be a simpler route to just run the exhaust back into the intake manifold to put the intake tract under positive pressure. Reading through the multitudinous pages of fodder, this is either someone with "issues" or just a jokester troll.

If he is serious, let's lay out a few simple things here. Firstly, there's not very much oxygen in the exhaust gas, which would make recombustion rather difficult. Second, it's tremendously hot. Third, his assumption that a turbocharger is driven by high-pressure exhaust gas pulses is incorrect. What drives a turbocharger is the expansion of the exhaust gas as it cools and depressurizes. It's the same way an air conditioner works, and it's really thermodynamic theory when you get right down to it. Sure, the exhaust gas is under pressure, but if you think that a turbine is an inefficient way to compress air, pistons are only more so. There's a lot of mass to swing around, and the poppet valves in an automotive cylinder don't improve airflow versus what a compressor housing of a turbo can do, either. Before you raise the EGR flag, let's note that exhaust gas recirculation is used to control combustion pressure and temperature, and since it takes up space that would otherwise be occupied by oxygen-rich intake charge, it's a performance detriment. Finally, how is the engine going to breathe when you've basically set up an infinite feedback loop? We're sure that these sticky engineering challenges are all easily worked out on a bar napkin, though. Why have automakers been denying us the pleasure of this simple high performance option for so long? They must be in cahoots with turbo manufacturers, that's all there is to it.

Thanks for the tip, Richard

[Source:GMModernMuscle]!

 

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Aston Martin & Prodrive working on V8 Vantage GT2

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When will it be enough? "Never" could very well be the answer for David Richards, the head of racing freelancers Prodrive and chairman of Aston Martin. The two companies under his thumb have been collaborating on the campaigning of Aston Martin racing cars in a growing number of endurance sports car competition classes in recent years. The DBR9, DBRS9 and Vantage N24 have been ripping it up in the FIA GT1, GT3 and GT4 classes, but as you may have noticed, the Aston Martin racing program lacks a car to enter in the GT2 level. Prodrive and Aston are planning to plug that hole and strive for an eclipsing domination of sports car racing with a GT2 racer based on the V8 Vantage.

A mule is currently undergoing testing, having run laps around the MIRA test track in England, up the hill at Goodwood, and was set for more work this week at a Michelin tire test in Spain. That most recent test session, according to Prodrive's Aston racing program, will give them a better idea about the project's future.

The prospect of another Aston Martin hopped up on steroids and storming the track has got us watering at the mouth, so watch this space for more news.

[Source: AutoWeek]

 

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Missed out on buying an Audi R8? You have one more shot

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Neiman Marcus has its Christmas special holiday catalog offerings, and now Bergdorf Goodman (part of the Neiman Marcus Group) has something special of its own for the Xmas season: a specially-designed Audi R8 for auction.

The winner of the phone-in sealed bid auction will get to kit out an R8 with the help of architect and interior designer Tony Chi, who has designed the Park Hyatt in Shanghai and the MGM Grand's Skylofts in Las Vegas. The proceeds from the auction will be donated to the charity of the winner's choice. Plus, the owner gets in early on the R8 queue, as well as getting to put together an R8 that no one else in the world has. Sounds like everyone wins.

Follow the jump to read the full press release.

[Source: Audi]

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LA 2007: Lotus blossoms from Elise/Exige to Eagle to Esprit

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Large high-res gallery of all of the Lotus models available by clicking above

This week in LA, veteran Lotus development engineer Roger Becker told the assembled press about the changes we'll see in the Elise and Exige for 2008. He also talked a bit about some of the changes happening at the factory and even gave us some info about new models in the company's future.

The biggest recent news for Lotus was that the Elise SC and Exige S were given an optional power boost via a Magnuson-developed supercharger that raises horsepower from 190 to 218 or 240 depending on the application. Other changes were made to all 2008 model year cars in the lineup.

Aside from upgraded brakes and a few other tweaks, the biggest changes came inside, where a new security system has been installed that for the first time ever allows a single key for Lotus owners. As a nod to American driving habits, TPMS and a new information display were also added, because as Becker put it, we aren't too aware of when a tire is going down and need to have it pointed out. That line was delivered without missing a beat and expertly showed a typically dry British sense of humor. Funny guy. Follow the jump for individual model news and to hear more about the upcoming Eagle and Esprit replacement too!

[Source: Lotus]

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Fiat 500 named 2008 European Car of the Year

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Hot on the heels of the announced winner of EVO's Car of the Year award comes the revelation from the bigger European Car of the Year, which bestowed the citation for 2008 to the impossibly charming Fiat 500. While EVO's, like Motor Trend here, is awarded by one magazine, the European Car of the Year is named by a collection of several major European publications in several different languages from several European countries.

As we reported earlier, the 500 made the short-list of seven finalists from a pool of 33 nominees. Ultimately the retro Italian hatch beat out some stiff competition from Ford (Mondeo), Kia (cee'd), Mazda (2), Mercedes (C-Class), Nissan (Qashqai) and Peugeot (308).

Not only did the 500 take it by a wide margin - 385 points to the runner-up Mazda2's 325 - but the recognition pushes Fiat even further ahead in the annals of the award's history. Fiat itself has won the contest no less than nine times, while its subsidiaries Alfa Romeo and Lancia add another two and one, respectively. Now if they'll only start bring the 500 stateside, it can start racking up the awards here, too.

[Source: Autovisie via Italiaspeed]

 

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LA 2007: Mitsubishi to tackle touring car with WORKS-prepared Lancer race car

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Mitsubishi will no longer be absent from the starting grid of the SCCA Speed World Challenge with the new WORKS-prepared SWC Lancer race car. The tuning company that specializes in tweaking EVOs, in a partnership with Mitsubishi North America, will be hitting the racetracks next year against Mazda, BMW, Audi, and more with two-time U.S. Touring Car champion David Brown behind the wheel. The car received new front and rear coilovers, two-piece rotors with Brembo calipers, a racing clutch and flywheel, and a fully built Mitsubishi inline-4 among other racing necessities. Pending its final homologation, it will race the full 2008 season in the Touring Car class. Follow the jump for the full details in the press release.

[Source: WORKS]

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Back with a Vengeance: Schumacher takes all in comeback F1 test

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The critics have been silenced, and silenced good.

Michael Schumacher retired a seven-time world champion, but his eighth title narrowly escaped him right down to the line at his farewell grand prix in 2006. Retiring after losing the championship two years in a row to a younger Fernando Alonso, many started asking if the driver that dominated the sport for so long still had it in his, ahem, "advancing" age.

Those pundits got their answer when Schumacher briefly returned to F1 in taking the wheel of the Ferrari F2007, this year's title-winning car, at an official FIA-sanctioned Formula One testing event in Spain this week. The focus of the event, the first since the end of the season, was to give the teams a chance to run the cars without traction control and with the standardized engine control unit (ECU), as mandated by the 2008 regulations.

Schumacher drove for the first two of the three day test session, and on both days his lap times sat at the very top of the time sheets. Unfortunately, spokespersons were quick to point out that this did not herald Michael's return to the grid, just a one-time event. So the rest of the drivers can sleep easier.

[Sources: Italiaspeed and Ferrari]

 

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LA 2007: Mazda Design Challenge rendered in clay, sweat

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Click the image above for a gallery of pics.

We were finally able to check out how the clay model of the Mazda Design Challenge winner was coming, and after two days of milling and scraping, Mallory McMorrow's design was beginning to materialize. Her vision of the 2018 Mazda3 began to look like an obvious choice considering how Mallory incorporated many of the "Flow" design elements that Mazda has debuted in concept form over the course of the last year, particularly the sweeping lines flanking the sides, the gaping grille and the tapered ducktail rear end.

The crew of designers and modelers toiling away at the full-size concept still has another seven days to complete the project, but we've already made the trek back to our respective homes. If you make it out to the last few days of the show and have pics of the finished product, send us tip so we can check out the results and share them with the rest of you.

In the meantime, you can head on over to our previous post about the winning design and peruse the gallery below.

Gallery: 2018 Mazda3 Design Challenge

 

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LA 2007: Autoblog picks the top 5 world debuts (VIDEO)

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The 2007 LA Auto Show has come and passed, and the show acted as a North American catch-up for all the world-wide unveilings from Frankfurt in September. We saw the production F430 Scuderia, the Reventon, the Up!, and many other vehicles that first caught the public eye in Germany two months earlier. LA had its share of world debuts, like the all-new Sequoia, the Nissan Murano, and the Lincoln MKS. We looked over all the world debuts and came up with a video of our top five new introductions of the 2007 LA Auto show. We tried to figure into our decision both industry significance and enthusiast impact. Click play on the video above to check out where the new vehicles ranked, and hit the jump to chime in with your list as well.

 

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Spy Shots: Production Hyundai Genesis Sedan

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What do you get when you cross a Lexus LS460 and and a BMW 5-Series (plus a healthy dollop of Toyota Crown -Ed.)? You get what appears to be the production Hyundai Genesis sedan. The front end looks as though it was ripped right off of the most expensive Lexus, with a strikingly similar set of headlights, a spot-on grille, and similar brightwork. Only the lower fascia wanders from the LS460. Out back, it appears that Hyundai took a pass on the classic Lexus C-pillar, but the Korean automaker's designers were obviously fond of the BMW 5-Series.

The big difference between the Genesis sedan and the vehicles it borrows from is that Hyundai likely has no intention of charging $60,000 for its RWD 4-door. While we're generally not a big fan of derivative styling, the Genesis looks pretty good for a RWD V8 sedan priced in the $30,000 range.

Thanks for the tip, Jose!

[Source: bobaedream]

 

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AC Schnitzer GP3.10 natural-gas powered 3-series hits 318 km/h

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Click the image above for more shots of the GP3.10 hammering around Nardo.

You might recall the AC Schnitzer crew trotting out a particularly gaudy BMW 3-series coupe in Frankfurt called the GP3.10, powered by a V10 engine pulled from the M5/M6 running off liquefied petroleum. While the styling of the Bimmer caused a few of us to inadvertently gag while patrolling the floor in Germany, its performance potential - 552 hp and 400 lb.-ft. of torque - showed promise.

Fast forward a few months later, and according to the Schnitzer folks, the GP3.10 set the world record for the fastest gas-powered car in the world. The coupe was brought out to the 13-mile Nardo test track in Southern Italy where it laid down a terminal velocity of 318.1 km/h, or 197 mph. While that's a feat unto itself, even more surprising is AC Schnitzer's claim that some of the technology will filter down to the tuner's products in the future.

[Source: AC Schnitzer]

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LA 2007: Audi's 5.2L V10 FSI engine on display

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While browsing the 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show we discovered Audi's 5.2L V10 FSI engine in all its 450 hp glory. It was perched on a stand in the Audi booth mated to a six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, and was strategically displayed amongst the S6 and S8 sedans, which it powers. We remembered reading about this engine in the January 2007 issue of SAE's Automotive Engineering International, so we dug it out to give you a rundown of its specifications. The first thing that must be pointed out is that contrary to popular belief, this engine is entirely different from the V10 used by the Lamborghini Gallardo. The Lambo engine was designed for high RPMs, while the S6/S8 V10 was put together for high torque and fuel economy.

The 5.2L V10 is built for two different outputs between the S6 and the S8 applications. The S6 receives a version that puts down 435 hp at 7000 rpm and churns out 398 ft-lbs of torque, while the S8's creates 450 hp at 6800 rpm and also produces 398 ft-lbs of torque. The varying power numbers are achieved through both its exhaust design and tuning, and the differences in output equate to relatively similar power-to-weight ratios for both cars. Follow the jump for a detailed look at the display engine along with Audi's own renderings.

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Racer X Design KC-427 Concept offers modern interpretation of the Cobra

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Nearly four years ago at the 2004 Detroit Auto Show, Ford launched a Cobra Concept with a 6.4-liter V10 and a modern design twist of the classic two-seater. While it was cool to see a modernized version of the original, it still lacked the overall aggressive design of the original Cobra that so many people love. There weren't enough curves, and the front looked somewhat awkward.

Recently, Maltese design and tuning company Racer X Design launched renderings of what they call the KC-427 Concept. It has very similar lines to the original Cobra (especially the rear), but with sharper creases that give a modern appearance. Racer X Design hopes to have a full concept car out within a year, and to eventually produce a run of twenty.

[Source: Racer X Design via Serious Wheels]

Gallery: Racer X Design KC-427 Concept

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