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Of course we'd like to Kickstart a hoverbike [w/video]

Posted Jul 26th 2014 4:09PM

hoverbike scale drone

It may not be a flying car, and it may not even be a Hoverboard. But we don't care. A hoverbike is still incredibly awesome, and there's now a chance to bring just such a device to the real world thanks to Kickstarter.

Designed by an Kiwi bloke in London named Chris Malloy and seen on these very pages three years ago in prototype form, the would-be hoverbike is a sort of combination between a motorcycle and a helicopter, relying on spinning rotors front and rear to generate lift. Past versions of the machine used two rotors, powered by a a 1,170cc boxer engine from BMW, but what you're helping build is rather different entirely.

Since we last featured that Hoverbike prototype, Malloy has further refined the design, changing from two rotors to four, but it's still far from being ready for production. That's the bad news. The good news is that small-scale testing has proven this new design, and third-scale models, powered by electric motors and controlled remotely, are now ready for those with a bit of expendable income to get their grubby mitts on.

As much as we'd love to see a Kickstarter campaign for the fullsize Hoverbike, we think these radio-controlled, unmanned drones are pretty darn cool in their own right, and Malloy says this project will help fund the real thing in true human-scale. Check out the Kickstarter campaign here, and scroll down below for some video.

News Source: Kickstarter

Ford F-35 Lightning II Edition Mustang appears at EAA Oshkosh

Posted Jul 26th 2014 2:05PM

Ford Mustang F-35 Lightning II Edition

Ford is back at the Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, WI, on July 31 auctioning off its seventh Mustang for charity, and this is one seriously mean looking 2015 'Stang. All of the money from the sale goes to give free introductory flights to young people to get them interested in aviation.

We recently saw this latest EAA Mustang as a sketch. However, it looks a whole lot more menacing in person. Dubbed the Ford F-35 Lightning II Edition Mustang, it takes liberal inspiration from Lockheed Martin's latest fighter jet, and the customization makes the pony car look ready for a role in Top Gun.

On the outside, the special Mustang wears titanium-color paint that's offset by a black and yellow stripe running from hood to rear. Out back things get really wild with a mix of bright yellow and black that flows diagonally all the way to the rear spoiler. The design is based on the livery of early production F-35s. If the rousing color scheme isn't enough to get you interested, the car also gets a carbon fiber front splitter and rear diffuser, lowered suspension and a set of custom 21-inch wheels with yellow brake calipers.

Inside, the design continues to take inspiration from the fighter with gold-tinted windows to match the radar shielding from the plane's cockpit. To keep the driver and co-pilot planted, there are two big Recaro sport seats with more yellow accents, and in case you forget what's influencing the car, the door panels and floor mats show the F-35.

Ford's work with the EAA has raised over $2.5 million for charity, and last year's Air Force Thunderbirds-inspired car brought in nearly $400,000. With the 2015 Mustang being so highly desired, you might need some deep pockets to put this one in your garage. Scroll down to read more about this fighter-inspired coupe.

News Source: Ford

Weekly Recap: New bosses try to jump-start Cadillac and Lincoln

Plus: Notes On Aston, Nissan And Another Hellcat

Posted Jul 26th 2014 12:00PM

Cadillac and Lincoln

Both of America's domestic luxury brands seem to be stuck in neutral.

It's ironic that Cadillac and Lincoln got new bosses within days of each other this month. It's also a commentary on the fact both of America's domestic luxury brands seem to be stuck in neutral.

Cadillac has received barrels of good ink in recent years, thanks to its sporty, fun-to-drive cars with gaudy horsepower figures and eye-catching designs. The problem is sales have been uneven, and this year they've fallen 1.9 percent to 82,117 vehicles.

Enter Johan de Nysschen. You know him from such roles as the head of Audi in the United States and more recently, as the global boss of Infiniti. Both brands have somewhat underdog status compared with segment leaders Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus, and de Nysschen was lauded for his work at his previous stops, overseeing sales and product successes.

Cadillac went out and got a "name" with a proven track record. The 54-year-old South African brings strong leadership and industry credibility to a brand that needs both. He'll be tested right away, as 554,328 Cadillac CTS and SRX models were recalled in June in the United States for ignition switch problems. More recalls involving Cadillacs and other General Motors vehicles for a welding problem was also announced in July.

He's taking over for Bob Ferguson, who had been dividing his time between Cadillac and handling GM recall response on Capital Hill. Ferguson moved to a full-time role as GM's top public policy and government relations executive in July.

Meanwhile, Ford tapped a relatively obscure engineer, Kumar Galhotra, to lead Lincoln. He's replacing an industry star, Jim Farley, who's giving up the reins at Lincoln to focus on his other job – overseeing Ford's global marketing efforts.

Galhotra doesn't have as much name recognition as Farley or de Nysschen, but that means nothing. Lincoln needs momentum, and the only way Galhotra will ultimately be measured is through increasing sales and strengthening the product portfolio.

Check out Indy's new million-dollar LED scoring pylon

Posted Jul 26th 2014 10:01AM

Indianapolis Motor Speedway scoring tower

general view of the carsAnyone that's been to a race at the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway knows this to be true: The scoring pylon, which sat at the start-finish line and showed the positions of drivers as they lapped the oval has been horribly, terribly outdated, making it quite difficult to read. Considering this, the new, 92-foot-tall, $1-million, LED-adorned scoring tower that's just been erected is a huge improvement. Just compare the above image of the new tower with the inset image of the older model to see what we mean.

The new tower will see its race debut this weekend, as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rolls into Indy for the Brickyard 400. The new tower should be a big improvement over the 20-year-old pylon it replaces, allowing race organizers to better communicate with fans. That means fans will know whether there's a green, yellow or red flag, as well as what the separation is between drivers. It's even capable of video and animation, as shown in the video below.

Next on the docket for IMS is an upgrade to the equally antiquated digital video screens at the circuit. Scroll down for a walkthrough of the upgrade process from Doug Boles, the president of IMS.

News Source: IconArchitectural via YouTube

Image Credit: Chris Owens / Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Donald Miralle / Getty Images

China probing German automakers over spare parts

Posted Jul 26th 2014 7:59AM

General Views Of Shanghai's Economy

The Chinese market has proven to be a boon to German luxury automakers. However, the way that the companies have allegedly been controlling their supply of spare parts has begun to draw the ire of the nation's government. According to insiders speaking to Bloomberg, officials from the country's economic planning organization have opened a probe into Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and some Japanese carmakers over claimed price inflation and limiting supply.

Specifically, the investigation centers around two aspects of how the companies do business, according to Bloomberg. Investigators want to know whether the original equipment component makers are able to sell spare parts only to automaker-authorized dealers or if they are also available to independent shops. There is also the issue of whether the price markup on replacement pieces is too high. The tight controls could be partially explained by China's reputation for producing counterfeit parts.

Evidently, the investigators haven't checked parts prices at car dealers elsewhere in the world. At least in the US, paying more at the dealer for factory components just goes along with owning a vehicle. If evidence of price fixing is found, the companies could face fines the equivalent of millions of dollars, according to Bloomberg.

News Source: Bloomberg

Image Credit: Tomohiro Ohsumi / Bloomberg via Getty Images

Fiat hangs ten with surf-inspired 500L Vans concept

Posted Jul 26th 2014 12:01AM

Fiat 500L-Vans Concept

Fiat 500L-Vans ConceptFiat is all set to ride some waves with its new 500L Vans Concept debuting at the Vans US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, CA, on July 26. Inspired by the famous shoe company known to skaters and surfers the world over, the hatchback is packed with seaside style and is ready to show it off at the beach.

The first thing that jumps out about the concept is its grille. It's unlike any other 500L and sports four rings of LED driving lights that are open in the centers. "We added the circular LED DRLs to add a sense of purpose and adventure to this concept," said a Fiat spokesperson to Autoblog via email. Below them are two more foglights, and combined together they should be able keep a party going long into the night after a day of surfing.

Beyond a ton of lighting, the Vans Concept has some extra panache thanks to its three-tone color scheme. It starts with dark blue outlining the car along the bottom, white for the main portion of the body and a lighter shade of blue for the hood, mirror caps and tops of the doors. The roof gets the shoe company's' traditional checkerboard pattern, and there's a rack up there to hold two surfboards and extra gear.

The interior is an even bigger tribute to Vans with the company's stickers from over the years used to decorate the dashboard. Like its shoes, the seats are made from canvas, and the famous waffle sole tread pattern covers the pedals and storage bins.

This concept is more about style than speed, though. According to Fiat spokesperson Angela Bianchi, the drivetrain is left entirely stock with a 160-horsepower, 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and a six-speed manual gearbox. The 500L will be on display throughout the event from July 26 to August 3, and will be joined by the rest of the brand's vehicles. Scroll down to learn more about Fiat's trip to the beach.
Related GalleryFiat 500L - Vans Concept
Fiat 500L - Vans ConceptFiat 500L - Vans ConceptFiat 500L - Vans ConceptFiat 500L - Vans ConceptFiat 500L - Vans ConceptFiat 500L - Vans ConceptFiat 500L - Vans Concept

News Source: Fiat

Coal-rolling Ram dually does tandem beer-shooting burnout with ATV in bed

Posted Jul 25th 2014 8:03PM

A Coal-Rolling tandem ATV burnout

Sometimes a video comes around that just makes you shake your head in disbelief. Take for example these guys from Nebraska in their dually diesel flatbed Ram, doing a smoky burnout. Lighting up the tires is nothing new, but these folks take things a step further by having another guy on an ATV in bed that is also smoking the tires. Finally, people are sitting on a couch in the bed taking the whole show in, as beer cans shoot out of the stacks.

There have been several stories recently about the scourge of rolling coal, i.e., diesel trucks modified to lay down a thick, black smoke screen, sometimes for vaguely political reasons. Whatever your opinion is on it, breathing in this much nasty stuff isn't exactly great for your health. Of course, it turns out that burning rubber is pretty awful, too. Both diesel and tire emissions contain cancer-causing Group 1 carcinogens. Combine them with the cigarette smoking here, and these guys are an oncologist's nightmare. Scroll down to take it all in for yourself. Warning, there is a little explicit language.

News Source: 1320 Video via YouTube

What you missed on 7.25.14

Posted Jul 25th 2014 7:31PM

Daily U-Turn

Aston Martin Lagonda super sedan teased

Fans of England's most famous sports car builder have something for which to cheer today, as Aston Martin has revealed two new images of its upcoming Lagonda performance sedan. The luxurious new Aston will be built in "strictly limited series production," with customers arriving by invitation only, and likely only from Middle East regions. Technical details and pricing (if you have to ask...) are still a ways off.



Former Ford engineer investigated by FBI

Ford has been working with the FBI to investigate espionage charges leveled at a recently terminated engineer at the company. In what Ford is calling "a joint investigation" the FBI had warrants to seize listening devices that were allegedly employed by the terminated engineer. For her part, the employee maintains that she has done no wrong, and that any and all listening devices were used without malicious intent.





Mercedes details turbo 4.0L V8 for AMG GT

The days of "no replacement for displacement" continue to fade from memory, as companies like Mercedes-Benz continue to build new, small, turbocharged powerhouses like this 4.0-liter V8. Set to make its home in the upcoming AMG GT sports car, the Mercedes mill is said to produce a robust 510 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque, thanks to twin turbochargers and a 7,200-rpm redline. We can almost hear it now...



Top Stories

In China, Tesla Model S is missing one basic feature

Company Says Google Is To Blame For Lack Of Nav System

Posted Jul 25th 2014 6:44PM

Tesla Model S Nav Screen

There were questions about the nav system in the Tesla Model S when the vehicle launched in the US, and there are still people who don't like it. But here's the thing: the US version at least has a nav system. With the luxury electric vehicle now available in China, drivers are discovering that the car is shipping without a working navigation system at all.

As China EV blogger Alysha Webb reports, Tesla's explanation for the lack of a nav system is that "Google maps are not supported." At least the company is working on an alternative map database for the land where Google doesn't work right. We've confirmed with Tesla PR in the US that Webb's report contains an official Tesla response, which includes the following:

Currently there isn't a navigation system in Chinese Model S as Google maps are not supported in the country. However, teams are currently working on a solution with Chinese text and voice recognition. We plan to introduce navigation to Chinese cars later this year (as already communicated to our customers). Once it's available, maps will be pushed to customers' vehicles through software updates.

One interesting quirk is that Tesla can't yet push the updated map to everyone over the air, since, "remote over-the-air software updates are not yet supported in Chinese Model S." Instead, Tesla will have to rely on its backend system to update the EV to what most American customers would consider standard equipment in a car in this price range. You can read the whole thing here.

NHTSA investigating more than 300k Chevy Impala sedans for airbags

Posted Jul 25th 2014 5:59PM

2011 Chevrolet Impala

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating vehicles from General Motors (if we had a nickel for every time we've written that this year). This time around, 320,000 Chevrolet Impala sedans from model year 2008 (the above photo is a 2011 model) are the focus, thanks to a defect petition filed way back in November, which NHTSA has just now opted to take a closer look at. This isn't a formal investigation just yet, although it could evolve into one depending on the review of the petition.

Donald Friedman, from Xprts, LLC, filed the original complaint, which focuses on the passenger airbag's Occupant Classification System. If any of this sounds familiar, it's because Friedman and Xprts aren't the only safety-focused folks asking NHTSA to take a closer look at the last-generation Impala. Clarence Ditlow and the Center for Auto Safety have also called out the OCS on certain last-gen Impalas. In those cases, a bad algorithm in the system would prevent the airbag from deploying if a seat's occupant bounced out ahead the impact.

While Xprts' complaint doesn't get into OCS specifics, it does call out the "software logic and algorithm," according to The Detroit News. The focus of the investigation revolves around a crash involving an elderly Texas couple and their 2008 Impala. Both occupants weighed around 170 pounds, yet only the driver's-side airbag deployed. The passenger airbag, meanwhile, was kept from deploying by the OCS.

Despite this case, NHTSA "has not identified reports indicating the presence of an OCS related defect in the 2004-2014 Impala," it said in a statement. "However, and in an abundance of caution, an evaluation of a limited scope of GM models, which will include a request for potentially related data on the MY 2007 to 2009 Impala, will be conducted to further evaluate the petitioner's allegations."

GM spokesman Alan Adler has told The News that the embattled company "will cooperate with NHTSA on its request for information. While the agency has 'out of an abundance of caution' asked for information on certain models of Impalas in the original defect petition, it is important to note that the agency has not opened a formal investigation."

More on this as it develops.

News Source: The Detroit News

Ford car-camo artist works his craft on Australia's new Falcon XR8

Posted Jul 25th 2014 5:15PM

Ford Falcon camouflage

Ford is among the kings of concealment when it comes to test cars. On one recent Mustang SVT mule, the automaker went to the extreme of putting baffles over the exhausts to hide how many there were. Sounds like a lot of work, right? In a new video, the Blue Oval has decided to take fans behind the scenes to show them what it takes to camouflage a prototype. In this case the subject was the recently unveiled 2014 Falcon XR8 for Australia.

Ford's prototype build coordinator Down Under has the very appropriate name of Neil Trickey, and it's his job to obfuscate the important bits of test cars to keep them out of spy shooters' camera lenses. Trickey calls his job a "dark art," and he shows off some of the tricks of his trade in the video. It turns out that the fabric we often see on mules is a type of lycra, but his team isn't above getting out a can of spray paint to conceal parts, too.

Scroll down to watch a video about a man who you probably wish could be a little worse at his job.

News Source: Ford Australia via YouTube

These are the top luxury cars bought by people entering the segment for the first time

Posted Jul 25th 2014 4:30PM

Volvo C70

Let's say you just got a big promotion at work or the kids are moving out of the house, and you finally have some extra money. You decide to blow it all at once and treat yourself by upgrading your ride. Naturally, you look to a luxury automaker. What do you choose?

Models like the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class may be tailor-made to introduce buyers to the premium segment, but a new study finds that they don't garner the highest rates of non-luxury customer conquests. It turns out that a Volvo leads among folks moving up to a premium brand, and it isn't even one that's made anymore, at that.

A recent study by Polk and IHS Automotive looked at what models had the highest rates of buyers upgrading from a non-luxury segment. The information comes from its new vehicle registration data through April 2014. All ten top models boasted conquest rates of over 50 percent, but the Volvo C70 led the field with 68.01 percent of its customers coming from non-premium brands.

It's an odd winner because the C70 isn't even available as a new model anymore, having been discontinued after the 2013 model year. It isn't the only car no longer offered that's on the list, either. The BMW 128i is in seventh place with 53.93 percent of conquest buyers despite leaving us in MY 2014. It seems likely that some of these vehicles are still on dealer lots, and buyers are getting good incentives to pick them up at lower prices.

According to Polk, the 10 models with the highest conquest rates from non-luxury segments are: If you're curious about the other side of the table, the Mercedes S-Class is the least likely vehicle for new luxury buyers to choose at 10.35 percent. Although, that's not exactly a shock – with a starting price of nearly $100,000, it would be quite a leap up from a Camry or Accord.

News Source: Polk

Will this 1966 Ferrari three-seater surpass $20M at Pebble Beach auction?

Posted Jul 25th 2014 3:44PM

1966 Ferrari 365 P Berlinetta Speciale

With a week of lavish automotive events coming up centered around the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in August, some of the highest profile auto auctions in the world are about to take place. Hearing about Ferrari Testa Rossas and 250 GTOs going for tens of millions of dollars during these events is commonplace, but Gooding & Company is bringing a unique Prancing Horse to sell in California that could be a record-breaker for the company.

The car in question is the drop-dead gorgeous 1966 Ferrari 365 P Berlinetta Speciale with just 7,900 kilometers (4,910 miles) on the clock that's pictured above, and it checks all of the boxes to make it incredibly desirable. First off, just look at it. The flowing lines and giant, tinted moonroof really make this Ferrari a head-turner. Inside, it has the distinctive feature of three seats with the driver slightly forward in the middle, kind of like the McLaren F1. And what a view from behind the wheel with all of the expansive glass in front of and above the driver. According to the auction listing, Pininfarina displayed the Speciale at a variety of international motor shows in 1966 and 1967.

If the looks aren't enough, then the provenance puts this Ferrari over the top, for sure. Underneath those gorgeous lines is the chassis from a Ferrari 365 P2 endurance racer. The sale claims that this was the first mid-engine, Ferrari 12-cylinder model created from the start as a road car. After touring with Pininfarina, it went to Luigi Chinetti, the first man to sell a Prancing Horse in the US and the boss of the company's North American Racing Team. He sold it twice, but the Speciale has been in the hands of the Chinetti since 1969.

Gooding isn't offering a dollar estimate on the sale, but it's expecting big things. "The most expensive automobile that Gooding & Company has ever sold at public auction is the 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa. We expect to shatter that record at Pebble Beach this year," said company boss David Gooding about the car, according to a spokesperson to Autoblog. That Testa Rossa went for $16.39 million after fees. It gives the 365 a lot to live up to. Scroll down to read the entire auction listing.

News Source: Gooding & Company

Image Credit: Brian Henniker, Mathieu Heurtault / Gooding & Company

Dealership refunds student for broken Saab with bags of pennies

Posted Jul 25th 2014 3:01PM

Woman refunded by dealer with bag of pennies

Every so often, we come across the story of someone trying to "stick it to the man" by paying a parking fine or speeding ticket in pennies or dimes. Never, though, have we heard of a business stooping to such clichéd lengths. Enter Florida.

Irena Mujakovic bought a 2003 Saab way back in January from Holiday Motors, in Jacksonville, FL. Shortly after the purchase, the transmission started acting up. She returned to the dealer and paid for the repair, and purchased a warranty for future issues. Total cost: $300. But then the trans crapped out not long after the initial repair, and Mujakovic was back at Holiday Motors. This is where things start going south.

This second trip cost Mujakovic $400, with her warranty in hand. That's because the man that runs the dealer, Ed Di Miranda, neglected to mention that the warranty didn't cover labor costs.

"The warranty did not cover labor and I failed to write that in and that was her loophole," Di Miranda told First Coast News.

The young college student filed a complaint with the Florida DMV, who sided with her and ordered Holiday Motors to refund the money. Di Miranda and the dealership did just that, but when Mujakovic came to collect her refund, it was to a bag of pennies, with a few dollar bills sprinkled in for good measure.

Di Miranda, doesn't seem to think he's done anything wrong, claiming that only about $85 was in change, while the rest was paper money. "I am doing what DMV asked me to do," Di Miranda said. "It is legal tender."

Mujakovic has not collected her refund. Have a look below for the video news report.
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