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Mercedes-AMG GT to debut on September 9

Posted Sep 1st 2014 4:56PM

Mercedes-AMG GT

Mercedes-Benz kept the SLR McLaren around for a solid eight years. The SLS AMG hasn't even been around for five, but already Benz is preparing to roll out its next sports car. We've been anticipating the arrival of the new Mercedes-AMG GT for some time now, but now we've got the exact date of its debut.

This latest video gives us plenty of figures to chew on, from the amount of camouflage sheets used to wrap the prototypes to the temperatures at which they were tested. But the salient detail is that the coupe – which is expected to cost less than its SLS forbearer – will officially be unveiled on September 9.

Expect a public debut to follow at the Paris Motor Show the following month, after which its new 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 will be available in two states of tune: 462 horsepower or 510, nestling comfortably in between the V8 and V10 versions of the Audi R8 and just a few steps behind the Porsche 911 GT3 and Turbo.

News Source: Mercedes-AMG via YouTube

Are these the world's worst speed bumps?

Posted Sep 1st 2014 2:57PM

Speed Bumps in Palm Bay

If you ask a lot of driving enthusiasts, they'll tell you that speed bumps are annoying across the board. Most community organizations, however, would argue the opposite. And as with so many other things, the most effective and mutually tolerable path lies somewhere in the middle. But that middle ground is a big area. Some speed bumps are more tolerable – or more effective – than others, but striking a balance between safely slowing down vehicles and not rattling them into an early repair shop visit can sometimes be tough.

This 41-second video appears to favor one side of the aforementioned balance pretty distinctly over the other. It depicts a set of five speed bumps to slow any traffic down to an absolute crawl... and a bouncing one at that. Though we don't know exactly where it was shot, it appears to have emerged from Florida. (The mail truck tells us it's in the United States, the absence of front plates narrows it down to one of 19 states, the weather and vegetation hint at the southeast and that truck in the first frame seems to belong to a landscaping company in Palm Bay, FL.) Wherever these humps were installed though, it strikes us as the local community going a little overboard.

News Source: 0to100realquick via YouTube

73-year-old racer dies after crashing his MG at Lime Rock

Posted Sep 1st 2014 1:01PM

Lime Rock Park Historics

Vintage racing provides fans with the opportunity to watch some of the greatest cars from yesteryear still competing on track against some of their contemporaries. Unfortunately, like any form of motorsports, racing in classics can never be completely safe, a reality sadly illustrated during this weekend's Lime Rock Park Historic Festival on Saturday, August 30.

Lee Duran, a 73-year-old racer from Lyme, CT, was in a single-vehicle accident in his 1934 MG PA Special on the final corner of the track. According to The Hartford Courant, his car spun, crashed and Duran was fatally injured. Track officials believe that this was the event's first fatality since it began 32 years ago. State police are also still investigating.

The crash came on the third day of the Lime Rock festival celebrating vintage cars and racing. According to the track schedule, the event was split among nine groups of various categories with over 30 races scheduled for the weekend.

Our condolences go out to Duran's friends and family.

News Source: The Hartford Courant, Lime Rock Park

Image Credit: Facebook

Max Verstappen has already crashed his first F1 car

Posted Sep 1st 2014 12:01PM

Max Verstappen crash

Toro Rosso made headlines a couple of weeks ago when it signed Max Verstappen. Born in 1997, Verstappen is just 16, and will be just 17 when he makes his race debut next season, which will make him the youngest driver ever to compete in a F1 grand prix – by a margin of nearly two years, no less, the previously record held by Jaime Alguersuari, also of Toro Rosso, at 19. You imagine, then, that the team has been eager to showcase its young new talent, especially in his home country of Holland. So when STR set up one of its traveling Formula One road shows in the city of Rotterdam, it put Max behind the wheel. But things didn't go so well.

As you can see from this video, Verstappen lost control of the car – a 2007-spec STR7, if we're not mistaken – and drove it step-nose-first into the barricade in front of the cheering crowd. Not exactly a promising start to his career with the team, but then, Max has the rest of this season (and the winter break) to hone his skills as part of the Red Bull Junior program before his race debut, and he's already won nine races in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship this season.

News Source: Peter W via YouTube

Will the new Mazda Miata be available with multiple engines?

Posted Sep 1st 2014 11:00AM

Next-Generation Mazda MX-5 spy shot

At this point, the countdown until the launch of the all-new, fourth-generation 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata can be measured in hours until its September 3 unveiling as easily as it can in days. With the debut of such a highly anticipated model so close, the rumors about the new sports car are starting to boil over.

We recently heard that the new Miata would likely get a 2.0-liter Skyactiv four-cylinder with a six-speed manual, plus a decent drop in weight compared to the current gen. There's even the rumored possibility of a fastback coupe version sometime in the future.

Now, Australia's GoAuto is adding another dollop of speculation into the mix with the claim that there could be "potentially more engine options," according to Mazda Australia managing director Martin Benders to the website. The more potent option would still be the 2.0-liter Skyactiv with a power bump from its current 167 hp to closer to 200 ponies. The other possible powerplant option would be a 1.5-liter, naturally aspirated four-cylinder taken from the upcoming Mazda2 replacement. This version would also ditch some of the MX-5's more premium features to cut the weight and the price slightly.

"Lightweight rear-wheel drive sportscar offering great value is what we want to return to," said Mazda Australia senior public relations manager Steve Maciver to GoAuto. While such a tiny engine might sound dubious, remember that the original NA Miata performs admirably with just a naturally aspirated 1.6-liter four-cylinder. The potential small-displacement MX-5 might not make it to the US – we'd be a bit surprised if it did, to be honest – but it could still be quite an engaging driver. Besides, it's worth noting that earlier rumors had a 1.5-liter mill pegged as a possibility for the ND Miata.

News Source: GoAuto

Image Credit: CarPix

Lambo considering Huracán GT3 for United SportsCar Championship

Posted Sep 1st 2014 9:00AM

Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo

With all the versions of the Gallardo that Lamborghini made over the course of that model's dozen year lifecycle, we knew the debut of the new Huracán would only be the start. And now we're getting an idea of what Sant'Agata has in store. Before too long, there'll be a new Spyder, and likely a rear-drive version as well. But racing teams are more eagerly anticipating the new competition versions. There's the new Super Trofeo spec racer that Lambo unveiled in Monterey a couple of weeks ago, but now we're receiving word of a new GT3 racer as well.

Based closely on the Super Trofeo, the Huracán GT3 is reportedly being designed to meet the regulations of numerous racing series – including, the latest reports will have us know, the United SportsCar Championship that competes in North America. This according to Sportscar365.com, which spoke to Lamborghini's chief test driver Giorgio Sanna at Virginia International Raceway recently.

Unlike some of its rivals, racing has not traditionally been a core value at Lamborghini, but it has competed here and there. It previously relied on Reiter Engineering to develop racing versions of the Murcielago and Gallardo, but is said to be doing the Huracán GT3 almost entirely in-house, with a modicum of input from Dallara, the racing chassis manufacturer founded by the man widely credited with developing the Miura and Espada in the 1960s.

The Huracán GT3 would likely be sold to privateer teams who would enter it in individual racing series with support from the factory. Among its competitors would be the 911 RSR, R8 LMS and Continental GT3 offered by sister companies Porsche, Audi and Bentley, who have evidently found enough success on the circuit for Lambo to follow in its footsteps.

Watch Sebastian Vettel become first driver to lap Sochi GP circuit

Posted Aug 31st 2014 7:28PM

Sebastian Vettel Infiniti Red Bull racing

In April of last year, Sebastian Vettel and David Coulthard drove the unpaved Sochi Formula One circuit in a pair of Infiniti M sedans, getting both muddy and airborne in the process. Now with tarmac laid down and fences put up, Vettel and Coulthard have gone back to the Black Sea vacation spot for another hot lap, this time in a Q50 Hybrid and without the need for mud flaps.

Sochi has earned the blessing of F1's race director, so now the next test will be the fans. With a healthy amount of wall-and-fencing along the straights, it has shades of Valencia for the viewer. We hope it will be much more exciting than its Spanish counterpart when racing happens on October 12. You'll find more videos below covering Infiniti's visits to the Sochi Autodrom, and a press release on the latest lap.

Infiniti Q50S getting G37's hydraulic steering for 2016

Posted Aug 31st 2014 6:30PM

Infiniti Q50S

Sometimes, new technology doesn't make things better. Take the march of power steering technology as an example. Electrically assisted systems are in vogue at the moment for their ability to increase fuel efficiency, but tuning them to offer good feedback remains something of a dark art. Some automakers get it, but most don't. The previous hydraulically assisted setups just seem to be inherently more communicative when driven with enthusiasm. And it looks like Infiniti might be learning this lesson the hard way.

In talking with Keith St. Clair, the luxury brand's head of product planning, Car and Driver has learned that the Q50S is probably going to ditch its standard electrically assisted steering in favor of a hydraulic system derived from the old G37, a model soon to be renamed the Q40. The system should make the sedan more engaging behind the wheel, but it still won't help those who tick the option box for Infiniti's controversial Direct Adaptive Steering drive-by-wire system.

According to St. Clair, Infiniti's engineers have heard the complaints of critics and previous G37 owners about the Q50S model's electric steering system, and wanted to see what they could do. They didn't have to go far to figure it out – all it required was taking the steering rack off of a G37 and putting it onto the Q50S. After a little tweaking, "the car is a blast to drive," St. Clair reports. Now, the company is said to be fast-tracking the switch, and it could be ready for the 2016 model year.

To be clear, this change is likely going to be for the Q50S only. Electric assistance and Infiniti's DAS steer-by-wire aren't going anywhere, but the S model is supposed to be a little sportier than the rest of the Q50 range. Therefore, the switch to something enthusiasts prefer in a model expressly designed for them would appear to make good sense.

News Source: Car and Driver

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Michael Harley / AOL

Lamando is Chinese for VW Jetta CC [w/video]

Posted Aug 31st 2014 4:58PM

VW Lamando

Volkswagen is not messing around when it characterizes its new MQB architecture as modular. It's already underpinning the VW Golf, Audi A3, Seat Leon and Skoda Octavia, and will soon form the basis for many more. And here is the latest.

Unveiled at the Chengdu Motor Show in China this weekend is the new Volkswagen Lamando, a four-door coupe similar in size to a Jetta but with the svelter roofline of the larger Passat-based CC to go after the Mercedes-Benz CLA. It's essentially the production version of the New Midsize Coupe concept that previewed its arrival at the Beijing Motor Show this past April, and will be built locally for local consumption by VW's joint venture with SAIC.

Power comes from either a 1.4- or 2.0-liter turbo four mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, with an equivalent price tag below $30,000. Whether this or any similar vehicle ever arrives in North American showrooms remains to be seen, but we'll be watching to find out. In the meantime you can scope it out in the trippy video below and the photos in the gallery above.
Related Gallery2015 Volkswagen Lamando
2015 Volkswagen Lamando2015 Volkswagen Lamando2015 Volkswagen Lamando2015 Volkswagen Lamando2015 Volkswagen Lamando2015 Volkswagen Lamando

News Source: CarNewsChina.com via Carscoops

Image Credit: Volkswagen

This Labor Day, low gas prices mean more cars on the road [w/video]

Posted Aug 31st 2014 3:00PM

Consumer Prices

It's not hard to understand, when gas prices go up, Americans sometimes drive less on national holidays. This year, though gas prices are lower than they have been right before Labor Day since 2010, and that means the American Automobile Association (AAA) is predicting that the number of people taking a road trip of more than 50 miles is expected to rise compared to last year. AAA says that 35 million people will make a 50+ mile trip this year, the highest number since 2008 and up 1.3 percent from 2013. There's a video report on this increase available below.

The average price of gas in the US this past Monday was $3.45 a gallon. Not only is that the lowest price it's been on the Monday before Labor Day in four years, it's also 25 cents lower than it was in the end of June and a dime lower than it was a year ago. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) says that the main reason for the drop is lower crude oil prices from the North Sea. As always, global worries about places like the middle east affect the crude oil price, and the EIA says that the market has a "perception of reduced risk for Iraqi oil exports as well as reports of increasing Libyan oil exports" that is helping to keep prices low.

News Source: US Energy Information Administration, American Automobile Association

Image Credit: Wilfredo Lee / AP

Ford hybrid sales rebound following MPG controversy

Posted Aug 31st 2014 1:00PM

Ford C-Max Hybrid

Ford hybrid customers apparently have very short memories. With two EPA fuel economy reratings in the last year, sales of the C-Max, Fusion Hybrid and Lincoln MKZ haven't been too terribly dented, Ward's Auto reports.

All three vehicles saw sales dips following the August 2013 rerating, although sales of the MKZ Hybrid had begun to rebound as early as November of that year. C-Max sales, meanwhile, took slightly longer, with sales on a steadily improving course as early as February of this year.

The second rerating, in June of this year, has had an even smaller effect on the Blue Oval's hybrids. The C-Max has actually been subject to a sales increase, while both the MKZ and Fusion saw minor sales drops (less than 400 units between the two in the month following the rerating).

That seems to be peanuts according to Ford spokesman Aaron Miller, who told Ward's the company hasn't really seen a negative downturn.

Part of this, Miller claims, is due to Ford's goodwill payments to owners of affected vehicles, which ranged from $325 to $550 in the first case and $150 to $1,050 in the second case, depending on whether the customer leased or financed their vehicle.

"Our marketing team reported that current owners of those (affected) vehicles did not become dissatisfied," Miller told Ward's Auto. "I believe that the goodwill payments made to our customers helped a lot."

Ford's hybrid sales are actually up 2.5 percent through July, which is below the industry average of 2.9 percent. All things considered, though, that's certainly not as bad as it could be.

News Source: Ward's Auto

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL

Corvette museum to fill in sinkhole, leave five cars unrestored

Posted Aug 31st 2014 10:58AM

Sinkhole at the National Corvette Museum

Preservation or restoration. That's the question that faces anyone dealing with classic cars, and it's the issue with which the National Corvette Museum is grappling in the wake of the sinkhole that opened up in its midst this past February.

In the months since the damage was inflicted, the museum had planned to keep at least part of the sinkhole open as a sort of memorial and tourist attraction so that visitors could see what happened. Unfortunately, it turned out that keeping the hole open would cost the museum more than closing it up. Much more, if you can believe it: instead of the earlier estimates that initially placed the cost of preserving a portion of the sinkhole at around $500,000, the eventual cost estimates rose to over $1 million.

Even if the museum had the funds in order to do so, the visible portion of the sinkhole would still require 35-foot retaining walls, steel beams and other reinforcements (not to mention proper humidity control required to deal with vapors emitted from the hole) that would have defeated the point altogether. So in the end, the board of directors have voted at its quarterly meeting to completely fill it in.

The hole itself, however, is not the only area in which the museum has had to choose between preservation or restoration. General Motors had originally pledged to restore all eight of the Corvette display models damaged in the natural disaster, but following an outpouring of requests from visitors and fans, both Chevy and the museum have opted instead to keep five of the less-damaged Vettes in the same condition in which they were extracted from the sinkhole.

In the end, Chevy will still restore two of the more substantially damaged Corvettes itself – namely the 2009 ZR1 "Blue Devil" prototype and the 1992 C4 convertible that was the millionth Corvette ever made – and will bankroll the restoration of the '62 model to be undertaken off site. The others will stay as they are. So while you may not be able to see the sinkhole for much longer, you'll be able to see at least part of the aftermath in those heavily patina'd cars for the foreseeable future.

News Source: National Corvette Museum

ETC

Volvo PV444 turns 70

Posted Aug 31st 2014 8:58AM

Volvo PV444

Volvo has made all manner of vehicles over the course of its long history, including coupes, convertibles, hatchbacks, sedans, wagons and SUVs. But the vehicle that started it all was the PV444.

Or rather, we should say, the PV444 is what re-started it all. Because while it wasn't Volvo's first model, it was the first one it produced after the war. Monday, September 1, will mark 70 years since the PV444 first debuted at the Royal Tennis Hall in Stockholm pictured above, where the company received 148,437 visitors.

That presentation there took place shortly before the end of World War II when the vehicle wasn't even finished yet. A team of 40 engineers and designers were still fine-tuning the final version, but were eager to show the public what it would start building after the last bullet was fired and peace would return to Europe.

The exhibition garnered 2,300 pre-orders (though we doubt that's what they were called seven decades ago and in Swedish). It would take Volvo another few years to begin delivery, but once it did, people got Gothenburg's first small car, built on a monocoque chassis with an overhead-valve engine – all pioneering features at the time. That OHV engine displaced 1.4 liters and offered just 40 horsepower, and all those initial examples were painted black with green interiors.

The first examples delivered to the United States arrived in Los Angeles on August 15, 1955, and established Volvo's presence in the North American market. Though Volvo had only made 2,000 cars at that point, it ambitiously set the production goal of 8,000 units for the PV444... and ended up building 200,000 of them by the time production ended in 1958. That total is 440,000 if you include the updated PV544 that followed until 1965. In short, it was a pivotal model for Volvo, and one worthy of celebrating.
Related GalleryVolvo PV444
Volvo PV444Volvo PV444Volvo PV444Volvo PV444Volvo PV444Volvo PV444Volvo PV444

News Source: Volvo

The sunniest Ferrari collection you've ever seen, shot for Forza mag

Posted Aug 30th 2014 7:02PM

Ferrari Collection in Tennessee

There's a stable of about 40 beautiful prancing horses hiding in a Tennessee garage. These thoroughbreds aren't out to win the next Triple Crown, though. Instead, this is one of the best collections of Ferraris in the world where you would probably least expect it.

Photographer and auto journalist Clint Davis went there to write a story about collector Phil Bachman for the Ferrari-focused Forza magazine, and he took some dazzling photographs to go along with his words. At the same time, he brought along a friend to film their day meeting Bachman and his sublime collection.

Amassing this many sensational vehicles would be amazing anyway, but Bachman takes his Ferrari obsession even further. He prefers to get his cars in yellow and tries to get the last production example of a given model. In fact, he already has a reservation for the final LaFerrari. You can probably figure out in what color. Keep your eyes open here for glimpses of a plethora of vintage beauties, but the star of the show might be a yellow FXX.

News Source: Clint Davis, Keown Films via Vimeo

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