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HSV rolls out new 577-hp GTS Maloo ute [w/video]

Posted Sep 15th 2014 11:31AM

HSV GTS Maloo

Last month, we brought you word that Holden was planning a new performance model that promised to be the fastest and most powerful ute in the world. And here it is.

The latest product from Holden Special Vehicles – GM's Australian tuning division – the new GTS Maloo packs the 6.2-liter supercharged V8 from the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. It kicks out 577 horsepower and 546 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels through a six-speed transmission (manual or automatic), limited-slip differential and torque-vectoring system. A touch of power appears to have been lost in translation from ZL1 to HSV (probably down to different units of measure), but while the Aussies aren't saying what it'll do, HSV GTS Maloo promises blistering performance with a remote-locking pickup bed to boot.

HSV has also given the ute a retuned suspension, AP Racing brakes measuring 15.4 inches up front and 14.6 in back are packed inside 20-inch alloys. It's also introducing a new bronze-red and metallic green (pictured here) to the color catalog. Only 250 examples will be made, set to begin delivery in November. Unfortunately as with the rest of Holden's lineup, none are earmarked for North America, so you'll just have to check it out in the video footage and press release below.
Related GalleryHSV GTS Maloo
HSV GTS MalooHSV GTS MalooHSV GTS MalooHSV GTS MalooHSV GTS MalooHSV GTS MalooHSV GTS MalooHSV GTS Maloo

News Source: Holden

Automakers stuck on structural adhesives for new cars

Posted Sep 15th 2014 10:57AM

BMW i3 production

The biggest benefit of adhesives is that they allow automakers to mix and match structural materials.

Whether shedding pounds to gain speed or points of fuel economy, weight is always the enemy when it comes to automotive efficiency. With increasing regulation forcing automakers worldwide to find ways to reduce emissions and boost mileage while simultaneously improving crash-test results, the challenge of shaving off mass while adding strength is one of the toughest challenges facing the industry. One way that automakers are finding ways to cut the fat includes replacing old-fashioned bolts, screws and even welds in favor of structural adhesives.

The average vehicle today uses 27 pounds of these bonding agents, which is up nearly 10 pounds in as many years, according to The Wall Street Journal. In all likelihood, that figure is only poised to grow. According to the report, global demand for the bonding agents is accelerating at about four to five percent annually.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of the adhesives is that they allow automakers to mix and match structural materials to make their vehicles light and strong. Various types of aluminum, steel, carbon fiber can all get combined together to take advantage of each of their strengths. However, this medley can't just be welded together in many cases. Instead, bonding agents come into play to fasten them all together. The 2015 Ford F-150, for example, with its significant amount of aluminum panels uses three times more structural adhesive than the current model, notes the WSJ.

These bonding agents have other potential advantages as well. BMW, for its part, claims that they can make repairs cheaper for the carbon fiber reinforced plastic on its i3 city car (pictured above). The car's passenger cell is made from over 30 components, and if one is damaged, it can often be cut out and a replacement glued in.

According to the report, the next frontier is using adhesives to hold together engine components. Because of the extreme heat and oily environment, bonding parts together there is difficult, but given the industry's dogged pursuit of weight savings, it's likely we'll see someone crack the code eventually.

News Source: The Wall Street Journal - sub. req.

Image Credit: BMW

Toyota Hilux successor spotted

Posted Sep 15th 2014 10:30AM

Toyota Hilux spy shots

The midsize truck segment is suddenly seemingly exploding with new vehicles worldwide, even here in North America. Not only will the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon be available very soon, Toyota is already testing a replacement for its aging Tacoma and Honda has promised a Ridgeline replacement within the next 18 months. Also, the recently shown Nissan Navara is said to portend the future of our Frontier. Here's some more fresh evidence from Europe of this pickup boom with the next generation of its venerable Hilux in testing.

Thanks to Top Gear and sometimes the evening news, the Hilux has built a reputation of being able to go just about anywhere. According to out spy shooter, this particular pickup was spotted during hot weather testing in southern Europe. Interestingly, a Volkswagen Amarok was along for the ride as a benchmark. Because the VW tends to offer a bit more comfort than the generally utilitarian Hilux, this could indicate Toyota is considering taking the new truck in a slightly comfier, more refined direction.

Compared to the current model, this camouflaged tester sports a narrower front grille and headlights. The hood scoop is also absent here. The lower air dam also receives a more horizontal look, but the more vertical fog light housings provide some contrast. The crazy camouflage pattern makes things hard to discern at the rear, but the taillights appear to be more slender than they on the current model. Unfortunately, mechanical details about the new truck remain a mystery at the moment, but enjoy these spy shots as a preview of one more upcoming pickup.
Related GalleryToyota Hilux Spy Shots
Toyota Hilux Spy ShotsToyota Hilux Spy ShotsToyota Hilux Spy ShotsToyota Hilux Spy ShotsToyota Hilux Spy ShotsToyota Hilux Spy Shots

Image Credit: CarPix

FIA confirms 20-race F1 calendar for 2015

Posted Sep 15th 2014 10:00AM

F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain

Formula One has been ratcheting up the number of races on its calendar for decades. It ran with ten or fewer races through the 1950s and into the late 60s, then started climbing into the teens until it plateaued around 16 races throughout the 80s and 90s. But since then it's been climbing: 17 races after the turn of the millennium, 18 in 2004 and 19 in 2005. The year before last it reached a record 20 races, and now it's back up there again.

Following a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Beijing this weekend, the FIA has confirmed the calendar for next season, packing a record-matching 20 grands prix. The season is set to kick off as usual in Australia next March before heading to Malaysia, Bahrain and China followed by the first European rounds in Spain and Monaco. Canada follows in June before the circus returns to Europe for the races in Austria, Great Britain, Germany and Hungary, with a month-long break before Belgium and Italy, then heading back overseas to Singapore, Japan, Russia, these here United States, Mexico, Brazil and the season finale in Abu Dhabi.

The Mexican Grand Prix is the only new addition for next season, sandwiched between the races in Austin and São Paulo.

News Source: FIA

Image Credit: Drew Gibson / Getty

Toyota previews new C-HR crossover concept bound for Paris

Posted Sep 15th 2014 9:30AM

Toyota C-HR concept teaser

We're now just a few weeks away from the start of the Paris Motor Show, and when the doors open at the Porte de Versailles, Toyota will be among the many automakers with new wares to show – including the new concept car pictured in this latest teaser image.

Called the C-HR, the concept is designed to represent an "innovative vision for a compact crossover model", incorporating "a new design language with an engaging driving experience and a hybrid powertrain." The Japanese industrial giant isn't saying much else, but the C-HR is set to debut alongside the finalized exterior design for its upcoming new fuel cell sedan.

Toyota, of course, became a pioneer in the compact crossover segment when it introduced the first-generation RAV4 way back in 1994. If the silhouette is anything to go by, however, the C-HR concept appears to adopt a far more streamlined form. Watch this space for more.

News Source: Toyota

Marcos Ambrose leaving NASCAR for return to Australia [UPDATE]

Posted Sep 15th 2014 8:01AM

Oral-B USA 500 - Practice

Some racing series attract drivers from around the world, but by and large, NASCAR isn't one of them. Marco Ambrose is one of the few exceptions, but now, after more than six years competing for the Sprint Cup, he's calling it quits.

The multitalented Australian driver came to America after having won the European Formula Ford Championship in 1999 and the V8 Supercars title in 2003 and 2004. Since his NASCAR debut in 2008, Ambrose has won five Nationwide Series races and two Sprint Cup races. And although all of them have been on the road course at Watkins Glen – not one has come on the oval speedways for which NASCAR is best known - those victories make him the most successful foreigner ever to compete in the American stock car series.

Not that the list is that long, mind you: The roster of drivers in the Sprint Cup is populated almost exclusively by good ol' boys born and raised in America. But like most rules, there are exceptions. In fact, while many (including former F1 drivers like Kimi Raikkonen, Nelson Piquet, Jr. and Jacques Villeneuve) have tried, only four foreigners have ever won a NASCAR Sprint Cup race. One was Earl Ross, and he's Canadian (which hardly qualifies him as a "foreigner," really). Another was Mario Andretti, and he was already a naturalized American by then. Colombian native and former F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya is another notable exception. Marcos Ambrose is the fourth, and the most victorious among them within the NASCAR.

That means Ambrose will be leaving a legacy behind when he departs after the end of this season, but depart he will: not only is he leaving his longtime partner Richard Petty Motorsports, but also stock car racing and America altogether, to return to his native Australia. Just what he'll do there remains to be seen, but he's been closely tied to rumors that Penske will launch a V8 Supercars team to bolster its Indycar and NASCAR efforts – to say nothing of the F1, Le Mans, ALMS, Can-Am and Trans-Am efforts Penske's launched in the past. With his wealth of experience in both hemispheres, Ambrose could prove to be a strong candidate to launch Penske's efforts Down Under.

UPDATE: And just like that, Team Penske has confirmed that Marcos Ambrose will indeed take the wheel for a team formed in partnership with Australia's Dick Johnson Racing. The team will run Ford Falcon racecars in the V8 Supercars series. You can read the official press release below.

News Source: Autosport

Image Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty

GT-R owner finds going 200 mph on a public freeway is asking for trouble

Posted Sep 14th 2014 6:59PM



We are going to start with the disclaimer: do not try this at home. Ever.

That covered, we've been intrigued with a video that is making its rounds on the enthusiast forums. Shot from a dash cam, with a full performance overlay, it shows a modified 800 horsepower Nissan GT-R (with its twin-turbocharged engine bored and stroked to 4.3-liters) flying down a public Russian highway late at night. While we've viewed a similar lawless scene too many countless times, what happens next is the real surprise.

As the coupe hits 327 kilometers per hour, which is a blistering 203 miles per hour, the right front tire unexpectedly loses pressure and instantaneously disintegrates from the centrifugal force (even though the Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT 600 is a run-flat tire, it doesn't stand a chance at four times its rated zero pressure speed). Shrapnel from the tire blows out the right front HID headlight (explaining the momentary flash of light) and the steel front quarter panel is peeled back like the lid on a can of sardines... but the driver holds it together and controls the Nissan to a safe stop, which takes place over an agonizing 32 seconds.

Regularly checking tire pressure and the tread surface are great ways to reduce the likelihood of a blowout, but road debris and heat buildup are variables that are hard to control. We don't know why this GT-R owner's tire blew, but we do know that they did nearly everything right from that point forward - hold the vehicle steady, lift off the accelerator pedal, gently apply the brake and coast to a safe stop. Aside from the extensive damage to the right front clip, there is a happy ending to the video because the driver did not panic and slam on the brakes - a mistake that likely would have sent the GT-R careening out of control.

One more thing: the video doesn't tell us who the driver is (for obvious reasons), but we are confident that they should be easy to identify by the bloodied lips from joyfully kissing the pavement once the crippled GT-R came to a stop.

News Source: LiveLeak via MotorAuthority

ETC

1969 Corvette Lego model needs some support to make production

Posted Sep 14th 2014 4:57PM

1969 Chevrolet Corvette Lego proposal

Spend just a few minutes looking around online, and you quickly find that people have figured out how to make just about anything out of Lego, including some very cool model cars. The Danish company has taken this fact to heart and has released some fantastic automotive kits recently. In August, its vintage Mini Cooper came out, and a few years ago, it unveiled its 1962 Volkswagen Bus. But maybe it's about time that Lego added a large-scale recreation of a classic American sports car to its offerings.

To that end, a user named Brickdater on the website Lego Ideas is hoping to put this 1969 Corvette into production. According to the project description, "Ever since I can remember I've always wanted a '69 Vette. So I built one." The creator definitely gets the C3 'Vette's curvaceous form down, despite having to render them in angular plastic blocks. Brickdater has even managed to achieve a two-tone look with a white stripe running over the hood, roof and trunk. As it sits now, the Corvette is made up of 1,500 parts – about 420 more than the Mini Cooper – and the design features removable T-tops and a really well-detailed engine bay, complete with a carb and hoses.

Lego Ideas is a way for the company to get new product ideas directly from its fans. If a project receives 10,000 supporters, the Lego Review Board evaluates it. Then if it gives the design the thumbs up (which isn't a guarantee), the kit gets put into production. Lego even shares a percentage of each sale with the creator.

With about 2,400 supporters as of this writing and nearly a year to reach the goal, Brickdater's Vette is doing pretty well so far, but obviously it could use a nudge if you're so inclined. You can add your further encouragement over at Lego Ideas.

News Source: Lego Ideas

Image Credit: Lego Ideas

Mahindra studying bringing Ssangyong to US

Posted Sep 14th 2014 2:58PM

A South Korean employee talks on his pho

After a valiant effort, Indian automaker Mahindra eventually had to give up its attempt to bring a small, cheap pickup truck to the United States, but it hasn't completely given up. Korean automaker Ssangyong, which Mahindra controls, might have a confusing name, but it's taking the first, tentative steps toward bringing its inexpensive SUVs across the Pacific.

Though an American launch is still years away from actually happening, Ssangyong and Mahindra are investigating whether the Korean automaker has a chance of succeeding in the US market. "Right now what we are doing is very early feasibility study of which products will make sense for the US, what will it take to make those products work, whether it will be financially viable to launch in the US," said Pawan Goenka, president of Mahindra's automotive business to Reuters.

Goenka didn't specify to Reuters when this analysis might end, but he indicated once it was done, the move into the US would still need to be ratified by the company's board. From there, it could be another two-and-a-half years or more to actually put an SUV on sale.

Mahindra had reportedly been considering the Ssangyong expansion as far back as 2012. Earlier this year, the Korean company began working with consultants to determine a more American-friendly name and determine which vehicles from its range might work best here. The two most likely candidates at the time were the Korando and SLV crossovers.

According to Reuters, Ssangyong has been investing into its products and expanding further into China, possibly even building a factory there. Still, Mahindra already learned from experience that launching in the US was no small task. Can it get things right the second time?

News Source: Reuters

Image Credit: Park Ji-Hwan / AFP / Getty Images

Ferrari production to increase under Marchionne

Posted Sep 14th 2014 2:01PM

Ferrari F12 Berlinetta production in Maranello

2014 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta - front three-quarter viewThe head of any company has to juggle the relationship between supply and demand. Of course, that applies to automakers too, even ones as high-end as Ferrari. And as with many other decisions, the way Ferrari has addressed supply and demand has come down principally to the principal.

Enzo Ferrari may have only wanted to sell as many vehicles as he needed in order to fund his company's racing department, but with the F40 – the last model made under his watch – Ferrari ended up increasing supply to meet growing demand. However, after Luca di Montezemolo took over in the wake of Enzo's passing, he started constricting supply. He figured Ferrari could sell 400 units of the F50, for example, so he built 399. More recently, Montezemolo undertook a course of action that spread Ferrari into more markets, while simultaneously constricting supply to increase demand and thereby profitability.

It's been a winning formula for Ferrari. Just days ago, the company announced record earnings up by 14.5 percent in the first half of 2014 over the same period last year, which itself had seen a 7.1-percent increase over the year before. Clearly the strategy has worked, but Montezemolo's successor is already eying a different approach.

According to Bloomberg and others, Fiat-Chrysler chief and incoming Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne intends to increase supply to meet growing demand. Where Montezemolo restricted production to 7,000 units per year, Marchionne is eying 10,000. That's in part because the Italian-Canadian auto magnate believes that Ferrari's expansion into new markets means that there's little risk of oversaturation. In particular, Marchionne sees the F12 Berlinetta (inset photo) as a growth model, and intends to ramp up production to shorten the waiting list and keep supply moving apace.

It's the first big change we're seeing Marchionne enacting as he takes over and ushers in a new era at Maranello. We'll be watching to see what other changes he has in store for the Prancing Horse marque. In the meantime, you can read the full details of Ferrari's financial performance in the press release below.

News Source: Ferrari, Bloomberg

Zack Snyder tweets another glimpse of new Batmobile

Posted Sep 14th 2014 1:02PM

Batmobile

There are plenty of movies flashing cool cars across the silver screen, but few can get enthusiasts as excited as a new Batmobile. From the Lincoln-based roadster in the original series to the Tim Burton-era jet-powered dragster and on to the Tumbler featured in the latest films, Batman's ride of choice has evolved tremendously over the years. And soon we'll have another on our hands.

Although we're still a year and a half away from the debut of the upcoming crossover movie Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, we've been catching glimpses of the new Batmobile for months now. A few months back, director Zack Snyder – known for his comic-book adaptations like 300, Watchmen and Man of Steel – showed us a rear 3/4 view of the cloaked Batmobile, followed by close-up shot with Ben Affleck in costume, and more recently it was spotted on set in Detroit. Now Snyder has tweeted another shot of the Caped Crusader's new wheels, and it looks pretty badass.

Looking something like a cross between Burton's version and Christopher Nolan's, the new Batmobile is all flat panels converging at sharp angles, with knobbly tires, vents, ducts and military-grade bolt-ons (like that turret on the nose and what look like little rocket launches inboard of the wheels) to help the Dark Knight fight evildoers on the streets of Gotham (and maybe Metropolis).

Unfortunately we'll have to wait until March 2016 to see the new gear on screen, but it's shaping up to be a good one.

News Source: Zack Snyder via Twitter

ETC

How did Nissan tweet a response to the Royal Baby announcement so quickly?

Posted Sep 14th 2014 11:02AM



A mere seven minutes after the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announced they were pregnant with their second child, Nissan had the perfect post circulating on the Twittersphere. How did Nissan know to expect Kate and William were expecting? By paying attention to the Internet zeitgeist.



David Parkinson, head of social for Nissan in Europe, told AdWeek that the automaker's creative agency created the image when rumors of a second pregnancy started in July.

"As it happened, the rumor was never confirmed, so we kept the piece in our back pocket."

Nissan spotted the rumors along with the European marketing DigitasLBi France's BrandLive initiative, which keeps an eye on trends and rumors circulating on the net. They look for anything that may be useful for their clients, including Nissan. The proactive approach seems to have worked. Nissan's royal baby tweet referencing its newly redesigned X-Trail crossover has been shared hundreds of times since Monday.

News Source: NissanUK

Rowan Atkinson crashes at Goodwood Revival

Posted Sep 14th 2014 9:01AM

Goodwood Revival 2012

To quote Harry Hogge (played by Robert Duvall) in Days of Thunder, "rubbin, son, is racin'." That can mean some unfortunate damage to high-end racing machinery, which may be repaired easily enough in stock car racing, but when it comes to vintage racing, the stakes can be that much higher. And yet incidents do occur, like at this weekend's Goodwood Revival.

Among the many competitors taking part in the retro racing event in England was none other than Rowan Atkinson, the actor perhaps best known for playing Mr. Bean. Driving a classic Ford Falcon Sprint in the Shelby Cup event, Atkinson (pictured above at the 2012 revival) reportedly crashed head-on into another car on track.

According to reports, the two cars up spun out. The driver in between managed to avoid a pile-up, but Atkinson couldn't steer clear and hit the obstructing vehicle. Fortunately Rowan walked away unscathed (and, we imagine, in a humorous manner), but while we don't know how extensive the damage was to the Falcon, it was enough to take it out of the race.

Atkinson, for those who don't know, is a certified automotive enthusiast. He regularly drives his McLaren F1 (which he's crashed a couple of times), sometimes writes for UK car magazines, once topped the Top Gear leaderboard and even convinced Rolls-Royce to lend him its V16 prototype for use on screen in Johnny English Reborn.

News Source: The Telegraph via World Car Fans

Image Credit: Andreas Rentz / Getty

Decelerating from a 390-mph land speed record run might just trigger your fire system

Posted Sep 13th 2014 7:01PM

Danny Thompson Challenger 2 Fire Extinguisher

Have you ever had one of those days where everything was going smoothly and then, in a split-second, there was utter chaos? Racer Danny Thompson recently got a fantastic story to tell when he was taking his streamlined Challenger II land speed car for a test run. Everything appeared perfectly normal, and then things went very bizarre in a blink on an eye.

We covered Thompson last year when he was raising money to complete the car and take it to the Bonneville Salt Flats. Danny is the son of famous racer and engineer Mickey Thompson, and the Challenger II is an updated version of the same vehicle that his dad attempted to set a piston-powered land speed record with in 1969.

For the project, Danny pulled the Challenger II out of mothballs and upgraded it to modern safety standards. He also ditched the original Ford engines in favor of two, nitro-fueled V8s with a claimed combined total of 4,000 horsepower, which made it really more of a Challenger 2.5.

For this test, the Challenger II made it to over 390 miles per hour with no problem, but then it was time to slow down. Danny pulled the 'chutes and got a very messy surprise to go with it when the fire suppression system kicked on due to the sudden deceleration. Check out the video to see how Thompson reacted.

News Source: thompsonlsr via YouTube

Image Credit: Related images copyright ThompsonLSR

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