eBay Find of the Day: World's Fastest Production Car

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Click above for a high-res gallery of the SSC Ultimate Aero Twin-Turbo

You've always had the opportunity to buy the world's fastest car, but now you can buy THE world's fastest car. The actual SSC Ultimate Aero TT that set the Guinness-certified top speed record for a production car is up for auction on eBay with your name on it. The 2007 model comes with Palladium paint and black Alcantara interior, nav system, 10-speaker audio/DVD system, back-up camera, and power everything. Oh, did we mention the 1183 horsepower twin-turbo V8 mounted behind the seats?

Sure, the 2009 model has 100+ more horsepower and a theoretical top speed of 270 mph, but that's yet to be verified, making this very 2007 model still the world's fastest production car. At just over $150,000 the reserve has not yet been met, but the minimum bid is surely quite a bit less than the base price of a Bugatti Veyron or Koenigsegg CCX.



[Source: eBay Motors]

2010 Nissan GT-R priced... it's more, but you get more

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2010 Nissan GT-R - Click above to enlarge

Supercars have always existed to keep our passion for automobiles on constant boil, and supercars that don't crest the six-figure mark are the best kind. They're almost attainable. The Nissan GT-R remains that way for 2010 with a price bump to help pay for a few upgrades from the factory. The base model will begin at $80,790 and the Premium model at $83,040. According to Edmunds.com, the new MSRPs are both $3,950 more than what you would pay for a 2009 model.

What does an extra four grand get you? A lot actually, not the least of which is a 5-horsepower bump for the twin-turbo 3.8-liter V6, which nets a new grand total of 485 hp. Other additions include a retuned suspension with redesigned Bilstein shocks, an upgraded braking system with more rigid brake lines, standard front seat- and roof-mounted side curtain airbags for the base GT-R model, standard wheels for the GT-R with a darker finish and "near-black" metallic wheels for the Premium model. A new color is also available, Pearl White, and you get a polished front bumper now when ordering your car in Super Silver.

Oh, and there's one more thing: Nissan has given the GT-R new Transmission Control Module programming. The new code is said to increase durability and drop acceleration times with the Vehicle Dynamic Control activated. It should also put an end to concerns about damaging the transmission by using the vehicle's Launch Control with VDC turned off. Preliminary reports indicate that the 2010 GT-R is still faster than all get out with the new programming.

[Source: Nissan]

Continue reading 2010 Nissan GT-R priced... it's more, but you get more

Former Ford plant home to thousands of unsold Hondas

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Being a Clevelander, I had already heard about what's going on at the site of Ford's former Lorain Assembly plant. At one time it was producing more than 10,000 vans and SUVs per month, but that number dwindled until eventually the plant was shuttered in 2005 and the property sold to the California-based Industrial Realty Group. We've heard the facility has since been rented out to a number of companies and we've even seen advanced driving courses being hosted on its expansive and now weed-ridden parking lot.

While slow sales once led to the Lorain plant's demise, the same situation today has given it a new purpose. Honda, which operates a number of plants in Ohio and takes full advantage of the state's existing network of rail lines, is renting the plant's parking lot to store up to 10,000 units of unsold inventory. The Japanese automaker, itself not used to having an overabundance of unsold vehicles on hand, has taken over the giant parking lot with a sea of Civics built in Ohio and Ontario, Acura MDX crossovers from Canada and Odyssey minivans from Alabama.

We've heard plenty of news reports about ports on each coast overflowing with unsold vehicles, but this is the first we've heard of a plant formerly owned and operated by a domestic being repurposed by an import automaker just for the use of storage. It's a sign of the times that companies are using creative solutions to get by, and this one ranks right up there.

[Source: Blog.Cleveland.com | Photo by Marvin Fong / The Plain Dealer]

Rest in Pickup: Man buried in 1967 Chevrolet truck

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Albert Dancy Jr. of Sutton, West Virginia told his family that when he passed away, he wanted to be buried in his 1967 Chevy pickup truck. On February 15, Mr. Dancy was unfortunately shot and killed in a domestic dispute, so his son Adam gave his father the burial he always wanted. Dancy, an avid hunter and fisherman, was laid to rest in full camouflage with his beloved pickup, an Old Timer pocket knife and a Remington rifle.

To ensure that the buried truck caused as little harm to the environment as possible, it was stripped of its engine and transmission, brake fluid and tires. Dancy's son said his father owned the truck for as long as he could remember, and that the unique burial was the last thing he could do for his dad.

[Source: Pickuptrucks.com]

BMW and Fiat working on new small car platform, concept headed to Frankfurt?

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We've been hearing rumblings that BMW and Fiat were working together on the development of future small vehicle platforms for a while now. With the German automaker working on an Isetta revival and the Italian firm moving forward with a new Topolino, it makes some sense that the two companies would join forces on a single platform sharedbetween the two small retromobiles.

According to Auto Express in the U.K., work is far enough along that we could see both new city cars by 2011. If current rumors are accurate, the cars will feature a rear-mounted engine and four seats, putting the machines on par with the new Toyota iQ and upcoming Up! from Volkswagen. AE says that light weight would be ensured through the use of aluminum and carbon fiber for the chassis and possibly even plastic bodywork, and if that's the case, we can't see these being anything less than premium-priced.

An electric drivetrain featuring one motor for each of the four wheels and a thin battery pack sandwiched under the passenger compartment is also likely. If there's any truth to these rumors, we could see a concept vehicle on the new platform wearing a Mini badge at the Frankfurt Motor Show later this year.

[Source: Auto Express]

VIDEO: Drifting on a budget the Chang'an Motors way

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Click above to watch video after the jump

A few years ago, drifting took the motorsports world by storm... and while its momentum seems to have cooled a bit, virtually everyone can appreciate the knife-edged balance of throttle and steering needed to execute a yawning slide. That appreciation has extended all the way to China, where a young man has converted his knock-kneed, skinny-tired Chang'an delivery truck into a purpose-built machine.

And why not? It's rear-drive, light weight, cheap, and reasonably robust. We dig the owner's enthusiasm, as well as his ingenuity and driving skill on China's slick mountain roads and in-town roundabouts. Check out the video after the jump (complete with a nod to Japan's Initial D anime series in the soundtrack), but remember: Kids, don't try this at home with Dad's new F-150.

[Chinasmack via China Car Times]

Continue reading VIDEO: Drifting on a budget the Chang'an Motors way

Jeep adds Rocky Mountain Edition models to Patriot, Liberty and Grand Cherokee

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Click above to enlarge

In an effort to revive lagging sales, automakers often create new packages that bundle desirable features into one new trim level at a slightly reduced cost. Such is the case with the new Rocky Mountain Editions of the Jeep Patriot, Liberty and Grand Cherokee for 2009. Included in the package are a sunroof, an uplevel audio package that includes uConnect and SIRIUS satellite radio, alloy wheels and unique paint colors with special badges. As you would expect from Jeep, four-wheel drive is available on all of these models.

Checking the Rocky Mountain Edition box on the vehicle order form will add a total of $1,595 to the vehicle's bottom line. If added separately, the components that make up the package would cost $2,300, which makes for a pretty good deal (though not quite as good as the "approximately $1,000" in savings that Chrysler is touting). Read the full press release after the break.

[Source: Chrysler]

Continue reading Jeep adds Rocky Mountain Edition models to Patriot, Liberty and Grand Cherokee

Barrett-Jackson to auction first 2010 GT500, two concept Mustangs in Palm Beach

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2003 Ford Mustang GT Concept - Click above for high-res gallery

Ahh, Barrett-Jackson. What would it be without a charity Mustang going up for auction? In the case of the upcoming event in Palm Beach in April, there will actually be three historic Mustangs going across the block with all proceeds being donated to worthy causes. First up is lot #665, the first retail 2010 Shelby GT500 that was initially supposed to be auctioned at the Scottsdale event back in January. The car comes in Kona Blue with white stripes, a color combination specifically chosen by Carroll Shelby.


2003 Ford Mustang Convertible Concept - Click above for high-res gallery

The real news, however, is the sale of two Mustang concepts that ushered in the current retro design of the S197 platform with their debut at the 2003 Detroit Auto Show. As much as we like the styling of the production car, looking at the photos reminds us how much we loved the concepts even more. Each features a supercharged 400-horsepower V8, 5-speed transmission and Brembo brakes, although we doubt either can be registered for road use. The Mustang concepts are being sold as separate lots, but we'd hope that any potential buyers would bid on both to keep the cars together. More details about the cars and the Palm Beach auction in the press release after the jump.



[Source: Barrett-Jackson]

Continue reading Barrett-Jackson to auction first 2010 GT500, two concept Mustangs in Palm Beach

Spy Shots: BMW X1 varies little from concept

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BMW X1 spy shots - Click above for high-res image gallery

BMW unveiled the X1 Concept at the 2008 Paris Motor Show to our bewildered eyes, and spy photographers have just surfaced with photos of the production version that do little to address our concerns for this littlest of soft roaders from Munich. As you can see, the production version will hardly differ at all from the concept, which means the swollen nose from the new 7 Series remains, along with all the surface pinching and odd details that we were so not fond of in Paris.

Styling aside, we question whether there's a market for another BMW sport or crossover utility vehicle, considering that the brand is already loaded with the X6, X5 and X3. The X1 also appears just plain redundant being so similar in size to the X3. That said, it will be built on the same platform as the 3 Series and offer a heaping helping of BMW gas and diesel engines, so it should be the Ultimate Driving Honda CR-V.

[Source: KGP Photography]

Oprah nominated to save domestic auto industry

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In dire economic times like these, everyone needs a hero, and Detroit's automakers are no exception. So, who better to anoint as a savior than the Queen of All Media herself, Oprah Winfrey? The popular talk show host/book club guru/magazine publisher/philanthropist/bazillionaire has been tapped to champion America's struggling domestic auto industry by none other than President Obama Detroit Free Press columnist Carol Cain.

And why not? Winfrey has a fiercely loyal fan base and unassailable credentials as one of America's few wholly trusted celebrities. What's more, she's even got prior experience promoting the domestic auto industry, as back in 2004, she gave away a fleet of new Pontiac G6s to all 276 members of her studio audience.

Alright, so nobody seems to know what Oprah drives (or more likely, what she is driven in), or whether she is really in-tune with the idea of saving the domestic auto industry in the first place. But we know that Oprah still considers her Pontiac giveaway to be one of her show's finest-ever moments, and she's all about people-helping-people, so perhaps there's some latent goodwill within Harpo's offices that is ripe for exploitation. Besides, we can't let such trivialities get in the way of her ascendancy, can we?

[Source: Detroit Free Press]

Rumormill: Jaguar XF Estate headed to Frankfurt

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The Jaguar XF has gotten off to a strong sales start, and with a tempting new diesel engine option in Europe and a new "R" performance model, the sport sedan is being asked to carry a lot of water for the British brand. And if new rumors prove to be true, the XF will soon be able to tote a lot more of the wet stuff thanks to a new wagon variant.

According to Auto Motor und Sport, Jaguar will unveil a thinly-disguised XF Estate concept car at September's Frankfurt Motor Show, with a 2011 production model following about six months later. AMuS also suggests that there will be an XFR estate model to take on BMW's M5 Touring and Audi's RS6, and like its sedan counterpart, it is expected to be V8-powered with some 510 supercharged horsepower. Naturally, more measured V8 and V6 models will also make the scene, along with a pair of V6 diesel models.

Other XF variants, including a possible coupe and convertible are reportedly on the table. Us? We're looking forward to clapping our eyes on the load-lugging cat, and hope that the XF's rumored quality problems don't dog what is sure to be a stylish family transporter.

[Source: Auto Motor und Sport via AutoTelegraph.nl]

Dacia Duster concept to spawn production model?

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Click above for high-res image gallery of the Dacia Duster Concept

Say "Duster" to most auto enthusiasts and you're likely to conjure up images of 1970's Plymouth Valiant-based muscle cars, or perhaps the P-bodied Chrysler buzzbins of the Eighties. What doesn't usually come to mind is the very first concept car from the Romanian low-cost transportation experts at Dacia.

Initially shown at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this month, word from Autocar now suggests that a production version of the showcar is on the way. According to the UK publication, the Duster will hit the ground running at next year's Geneva show, and it will launch with a choice of four-cylinder gas and diesel engines, as well as available all-wheel drive.

Interestingly, Autocar suggests that the production crossover will likely retain the concept's trick reconfigurable seats, including a passenger seat that can slide under the driver's seat for extra room. Check out the jump a video that shows the Dacia's trick disappearing seat, as well as the high-res gallery below.



[Sources: Autocar; Dacia]

Continue reading Dacia Duster concept to spawn production model?

REPORT: Smart ForTwos orphaned as depositers drop out

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Click above for a high-res gallery of the smart fortwo

Add the smart fortwo to the growing list of products impacted by the economic downturn here in the United States. Last year, the diminutive urban runabout was one of the U.S. market's few bright spots, with its small dealer network moving nearly 25,000 units and busting through sales expectations along the way.

For much of the summer months in 2008, the fortwo was actually selling for a premium on the open market, as dealerships only stocked vehicles that had actually been ordered and for which deposits had been collected. According to Sean Sarraff, brand manager of Smart Center Germantown in Maryland, "Since November, it seems people are backing out of purchasing a Smart." These unwanted vehicles end up as orphan cars and are made available to purchase through the automaker's Smart Express shopping system.

What happened? Apparently, a large number of the micro machines were ordered up by families as second cars or as toys for the wealthy. In these tough financial times, toys and playthings are expendable, and that's what seems to be happening with a certain number of smart orders. The good news, though, is that there are finally enough orphan units available that long lead times can generally be avoided for those ready to make a purchase.


Gallery: smart fortwo


[Source: Automotive News - sub. req'd']

Acura crossover concept teased ahead of New York Auto Show

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Acura Crossover Concept - Click above for high-res gallery

The crew at Acura have released a single teaser of a new concept due to arrive at next month's New York Auto Show. The darkened overhead image doesn't show much, but the angular front and rear fenders, single set of door handles and sloping roofline gives us a glimpse of the BMW X6-fighting crossover spied in the past. Acura has confirmed plans to add an all new niche model into its line-up for 2010 as it continues to strive for Tier 1 status. If it's a four-door coupe-like CUV, some might question the logic, but with two crossover architectures already available, it might be a low-cost way of matching BMW model-for-model.

UPDATE: Four more images added to the gallery thanks to AcuraZine.


2010 Chevrolet Camaro rated at 29 mpg highway

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2010 Chevy Camaro - Click above for high-res gallery

Now that the 2010 Chevy Camaro is finally

Review: 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

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2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 - Click above for high-res image gallery

In many ways, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is one of the best vehicles in Chrysler's lineup. Along with the Wrangler, it packs real off-road capabilities into an angular, no-nonsense body. It's an authentic Jeep, first and foremost, and makes no excuses for being anything another than a full-fledged SUV.

Then there's the SRT8 version.

This is what happens when you let the hot-rod mavens at SRT play with time-honored Jeep tradition. Over the last decade, many manufacturers have created high performance SUVs and crossovers, but this beastie is the only one available with a HEMI. The SRT8 is the twisted offspring of the unnatural pairing of a Jeep and a Dodge Viper, and Chrysler was kind enough to loan us its hottest GC for a winter trip to the ski mounds of Northern Michigan. Find out how it behaved after the jump.



Photos copyright (C)2009 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.

Continue reading Review: 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

Toyota's residual values seen falling more than competitors

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One of the strongest selling points that Japanese brand vehicles like Toyota and Honda have had going for them over the past decade or two has been the stronger resale values that have resulted from perceived higher quality. While increased depreciation doesn't matter much to people who buy their vehicles and keep them for more than a few years, it does hurt manufacturers. In recent years, a large portion of those pricey trucks and SUVs have been leased, where the monthly payments are largely based on the vehicle's expected residual value at the end of the term. When that residual is lower than expected, the automaker's financing arm loses money - a phenomenon that has been a particularly painful reality for Detroit's automakers.

Now, like the rest of the industry, Toyota is starting to get hit by falling residuals on both cars and trucks. Some of that is surely due to the general market conditions right now, but some critics suggest that the fact that Toyota's residuals are falling faster than other companies could point to growing awareness of quality issues. At the end of 2008, an average three-year-old Toyota was worth 46.5% of its original value compared to 50.5% two years earlier. Like other brands, Toyota's trucks have been especially hard hit, dropping from over 60% to just 45.4%. In particular, Tundra residuals are on a big downturn, nosediving to 40.1% from 59.5% just one year earlier. Despite the drop, the Tundra's resale value remains higher than Chevrolet's Silverado (39.8%, down from 49.6%) and Ford's F-150 (32.2%, down from 45.6%), so while all is not lost, the race for residual supremacy is getting tighter. Thanks for the tip, Leonard!

[Source: Automotive News - sub req'd]

Hyundai CEO says early Genesis Coupe sales numbers are "simply smoking"

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2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe - Click above for high-res gallery

"Simply smoking." Those are the exact words that John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai USA, used to describe early sales of the automaker's new Genesis Coupe during a recent interview with Motor Trend. The highly-anticipated two-door is selling better than the Genesis Sedan, which arrived on the market last year, even though Hyundai has focused more advertising dollars on the larger luxury sedan.

Still a newcomer, the Genesis Coupe is offered in turbocharged 2.0-liter and normally-aspirated 3.8-liter trim. The bulk of the cars on dealer lots have been the V6 models, with the late-to-arrive four-cylinder variants (including the Track model and next year's R-Spec model) yet to make a significant impact on sales. Seemingly undeterred by its $27,500 sticker price, Krafcik says that more than 50 percent of the 3.8-liter buyers are driving home in the loaded Grand Touring model (the entry-level 2.0T starts at just $22,000).



[Source: Motortrend]