It's that time of year again, car fans. No, not for counting the seconds down until the new year – although, of course, that too. What we mean is that it's time to look back on the year now drawing to a close and reflect on the most popular stories that caught your attention over the course of the automotive roller-coaster ride that was 2014.

This past year saw some major events unfold in the automotive industry. Mary Barra took office as the first female CEO of a major automaker. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles officially merged and launched their IPO. There was an unprecedented scope of recalls issued this year. And of course we saw the release of some of the most advanced and lust-worthy automobiles ever to hit showrooms.

Memorable though they may remain, however, those developments are not what caught your eye the most this past year. What did, more than any other, were the ten stories below - presented with the requisite photo of Betty White, whom we're glad (despite persistent rumors to the contrary) has made it another year to adorn our list, and hope she does for many more years to come. Here then, are the most clicked-on Autoblog stories of 2014.



10. The coolest official vehicle of the Sochi Winter Olympics comes from VW

VW Amarok Polar Expedition

As official automotive partner of the 2014 Winter Olympic games in Sochi, Russia, the Volkswagen Group provided all manner of vehicles to the event organizers. But the coolest of them all was this jacked-up version of the Amarok, a vehicle which we drove earlier this year in Canyon spec, but not with such huge tires and beefed-up suspension. VW made three of these beefed-up pickups, which didn't only promote and serve the Olympics themselves, but also set a Guinness World Record for the longest off-road journey within a single country, traversing nearly 10,000 miles from Moscow to Kamchatka over the course of 66 days of frozen Siberian wilderness.

Click here to read the full story.




9. Looking back at Oprah's free-car giveaway 10 years later

Oprah Obama 2008


It may not have seemed so long ago, but 2014 marked ten years since Oprah Winfrey gave out 276 Pontiac G6s – one to each member of her studio audience. (Then again, it couldn't have happened just yesterday, since GM shut down the Pontiac brand and stopped building the G6 four years ago.) In September we looked back on the landmark giveaway that changed the lives of some, were immediately sold by others and saddled a few with huge tax bills.

Click here to read the full story.



8. Doctors fear Michael Schumacher may remain in vegetative state for rest of life

ITALY F1 SCHUMACHER


It was late in 2013 when Michael Schumacher tragically fell on the ski slope and hit his head. We're sad to report that, a full year later, the seven-time Formula One World Champion has yet to make a full recovery. But while his family has understandably favored privacy over public declarations on his rehabilitation, things aren't looking quite as bad as they did in January, when medical experts sadly predicted that Schumi might never recover from the vegetative state in which he remained for months after the accident. Here's hoping that the year ahead brings better news on the champ's condition.

Click here to read the full story.



7. 2015 Chevy Corvette Z06 images leak, we swoon

2015 Chevy Corvette Z06


When the first images of the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 came out, we knew it would be menacing. But while no one knew the full extent of just how fast and powerful it would be at the time, readers flocked to get their first glimpse of what could arguably be the most devastating American supercar yet. We would later learn that the new Z06 would become the most powerful GM product ever, with 650 horsepower and just as much torque churned out by its 6.2-liter supercharged V8 to drive the hottest Vette yet to 60 miles per hour in a blink under three seconds while turning 1.2 Gs on the skidpad.

Click here to read the full story.



6. Ford to offer Police Interceptor surveillance tech to competitors [w/video]

Ford Police Interceptor Utility and Sedan


As hot as the competition is between commercially available vehicles for civilians, so to is the rivalry between Detroit's automakers for business from law enforcement agencies across the country and around the world. And in September, we reported that Ford would offer the surveillance technology available on its Police Interceptor models to competitors, potentially making the streets safer for the men and women who make our streets safer by offering them a few seconds' heads-up when someone approaches their police cruiser.

Click here to read the full story.



5. Dog sent packing after eating owner's $130,000 Aston Martin

Royston Grimstead with his chewed-up Aston Martin


Man's Best Friend. That's what we call our pet dogs, but one man in England was bound to have felt otherwise when his Border Collie/Spaniel mix chewed up part of his Aston Martin. The pooch gnawed away at the roadster's wheel arch, and we can hardly blame him for finding another home for the dog after the incident – which is what he was planning on doing even before she turned his prized convertible into a chew toy.

Click here to read the full story.



4. Five Ways You May Be Prematurely Aging Your Car

Winter Weather


Last September we brought you five ways to make your car last longer in the winter, and we were glad how many of you took the advice to heart – or at least stopped by to read over the tips. Things like leaving the car idling, neglecting your tires, driving too fast, riding the brakes or clutch and leaving the dashboard baking in the sun (which can be deceptively strong in the winter) can takes years off the life of your car and cost you more in maintenance than you expected.

Click here to read the full story.



3. Jeremy Clarkson gets final warning from BBC

The Military Awards London


Did you know that the words to "Eeny, meeny, miny, moe" didn't always refer to catching a tiger by the toe? No, an earlier version used a far more nefarious term. And the ever-controversial Jeremy Clarkson brought that to light in May when an out-take from an episode of Top Gear seemed to record him using the racist word on tape. Members of the public weren't impressed, and neither was the BBC, which issued him a stern warning: clean up your act (and your mouth) or get the boot. Jezza, for his part, denied the allegations, and the recording itself was unclear at best. But while we wouldn't go so far as to label the Top Gear presenter as a racist, he's never been one to shy away from controversy.

Click here to read the full story.



2. Valet mode captures joyride in red Corvette

Chevy Corvette Stingray


It's got to be hard sometimes being a valet. You get handed the keys to all manner of cars – usually high-end stuff if it's being valet parked – and you're entrusted to park it safely without abusing that trust by taking it for a joy ride. But we all know it happens from time to time, especially when the valet is given the keys to a brand new Corvette. That's what the owner of a new Stingray in Costa Mesa, CA, found when he got back into his car. Because he spec'd his red sports car with the optional Performance Data Recorder with Valet Mode, he was able to review what the parking attendant had been up to – including a brief run indoors up to 50 miles per hour before safely parking the car. (At least he didn't wreck the car like one valet did with my uncle's Vette back in the day.)

Click here to read the full story.



1. Wrecked Camaro ZL1 owner getting new car thanks to GM and different dealer

Chevy Camaro ZL1


Far worse than what the valet in the story above did with the Corvette is what happened to another piece of Chevy performance machinery owned by a couple in Delaware. After dropping their Camaro ZL1 off for service, a dealership employee took it out for a joyride and wrecked it. The dealer initially denied responsibility, but last we heard, another dealer (with a little help from the manufacturer) got the owners a new ZL1 to replace the crashed one.

Click here to read the full story.

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