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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Volkswagen Amarok Power Concept Set To Rock Wörthersee With 5,000-Watt Audio



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                       Volkswagen Amarok Power concept

The kit is not only perfectly-suited to an outdoor car show, but it also demonstrates the versatility of VW's small pickup. Everything fits in the bed, and can be set up or packed by one person, according to the carmaker. Perhaps there's some potential in the mobile-DJ segment of the pickup market, alongside the usual contractors and ranchers.

To maker the truck as loud as its sound system, Volkswagen. gave the Amarok Power Dynamic Grey exterior paint with embedded glass flakes for a more-intense shine. Other exterior changes include Gunmetal mirror caps and 22-inch alloy wheels, orange brake calipers and decals, bi-xenon headlights, and chrome tailpipes.

On the inside, the Amarok Power features black-and-orange Nappa leather, an Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel., special carbon leather trim, and laser-etched seat-fabric graphics.

This isn't the first time Volkswagen has brought a customized Amarok to Wörthersee. Last year, it unveiled the performance-oriented Amarok R-Style concept, which featured an uprated version of the stock 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6, good for 270 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque.

Here Are The Biggest Drawbacks of Owning an Exotic Car

 Posted ByDoug DeMuro



With today's column, I've decided to cover an issue I think we can all relate to: the many drawbacks of owning an exotic car.

Ha ha! I'm just kidding, of course. Very few people can relate to the drawbacks of owning an exotic car, unless of course you follow me on Twitter, where I post about them frequently. (For instance: "WTF? People are such jerks. Another nasty note for taking up two spots!") I think this is largely because most people don't own exotic cars, they own Honda Odysseys, and the biggest drawback there is they didn't spring for the model with the vacuum cleaner that picks up Cheez-It crumbs.

Of course, there's another reason we don't think about the drawbacks of exotic car ownership. Basically, we want exotic cars to be cool. We want them to be awesome. When we were kids, and we all had posters of the Lamborghini Countach on our walls, we thought about driving down the highway at 200 miles per hour, screaming along with the engine roaring behind us.

 We never considered the fact that visibility in a Countach is so bad you have to open the scissor door and stick your head out like a confused puppy every time you want to back up
But there are a few drawbacks, as brilliantly reported by Battery Tender Unnecessary back in September. So I've decided to steal his idea and cover them as well, largely because I couldn't think of anything else to write today. Here goes:
There are three types of potentially problematic other drivers: those who want to take your picture, those who want to race you, and those who don't care. We'll take them individually.
To me, the least concerning group is the people who want to take your picture. These people are innocent, happy-go-lucky travelers, just looking for a quick camera phone snap while they're turned completely around and moving down the road at 75 miles per hour. I love these people. In fact, I always give them a thumbs up, or a wave, or a smile and sometimes — on rare occasions, if I'm not busy — I even stick around as a witness when they plow into the back of the car they're following.
You might be wondering: How often do people take your picture? The answer is: all the time. You could stopped at a light, minding your own business, checking Twitter to see the latest Travis Okulski hilarity, when suddenly you look up to see a guy in a plumbing van hoisting an entire iPad out the window in your direction. These are unusual, sometimes uncomfortable situations, and I always drive away from them thinking the same thing: Oh crap. Did he catch me picking my nose?
Next up, we have people who want to race. You know these people, because you were one of them when you turned 16. I say this because approximately 94 percent of Atlanta's young male population, ages 16 to 19, has now attempted to race me. And here's the thing: it doesn't matter what they're driving. They could be in anything. I've had Jeep Grand Cherokees. Acura Integras. Last week, I got a race offer from a Saab 900. And a few months back, a guy in an Infiniti FX35 flipped me off because I wouldn't race him on a highway in the middle of the day.
Of course, the race offers are constant because everyone wants to tell their friends they raced a Ferrari. But the problem is that racing a bright red Ferrari down a public street is among the single stupidest acts you can commit in modern society, where street racing is viewed with the same hostility as major crimes such as murder, armed robbery, kidnapping, not picking up after your dog, etc.
Seriously: racing down the street in a Ferrari is like walking into your local police station, showing off the cell phone video you took from the time you stole your neighbor's lawnmower, and then peeing on the couch in the waiting area. So I tend to decline all race offers. But I'm always flattered to receive them, and I typically let my would-be drag racing partners know that I sincerely hope they have an excellent time at the prom.
But when you're in an exotic, the most dangerous driver on the road is the person who doesn't care. There's a reason for that: even the street racers and the picture takers respect the car and give you some room. They'd never hit you. But the guy in the Neon with the temporary tire? Who knows what he might do.

  He might dart across six lanes of traffic to catch an exit at the very last second just because he saw a 2-for-1 deal at Arby's. And once he hits you, he'd discover — much to his shock — that his insurance expired in 2004. "But really, man, it doesn't look so bad!"


Parking is another problem when you have an exotic car. But let's be clear: fitting into parking spaces isn't the issue. Exotic cars can fit into nearly all spaces, especially when you park across of two of them. 
The problem, once again, is other people. For instance: if you park in a normal parking space, in a normal parking lot, around normal cars, you have to understand that your car is subject to normal people

 This means that your precious exotic car could, at any moment, find itself surrounded with vehicles driven by the kind of person who believes that "Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make History" is an opinion that must be expressed by their automobile.
Once you've parked, you're constantly wondering about the car. Is anyone touching it? Keying it? Smashing it? 

 This is because we now live in a post-Occupy world, where any display of wealth automatically makes you a cocky investment banker who personally squandered the pension plans of many elderly, heartland, God-fearing Americans who now must kill the family dog in order to feed their children. Never mind the fact that the 360 costs approximately the same amount of money as the GL450 driven by the parents of all the Occupy protesters.


Here's the thing: no matter where you live, the roads suck. You might think the roads in your area don't suck. You might think they're beautiful roads, glass smooth, free from bumps and potholes and ruts. But they're not. They're awful.
I say this because I once thought the roads in Atlanta were fine. Not great, like it's Germany and the Office of Road Lines has the same annual budget as the Department of Defense. But acceptable. Livable. Tolerable. Miles ahead of cities like Philadelphia, where entire families of migrant workers are currently forming tent cities in some of the larger potholes on Interstate 76.
But the roads aren't acceptable, or livable, or tolerable, once you're in an exotic sports car. Instead, they're hell. Every time you see a bump, you cringe. Every time you see a pothole, you swerve. Every time you see a rock, or a pebble, or a little tiny stone, you realize you're about to know its exact size, shape, and composition. "Shale," you say. "Oooh, limestone." 
Of course, at some point, you wake up and realize: Hey, I'm sitting in a beautiful exotic sports car with the air conditioning on and the stereo playing. Maybe I should quit being such a weenie. But you'll still be a weenie who cringes when you hit a pothole.


The last major drawback to owning an exotic car is mileage. Basically, you can't drive it anywhere near as much as you'd like.
One reason is insurance. My own personal insurance company, who clearly does not read Jalopnik, limits me to 6,000 miles a year on a "collector vehicle" policy. This keeps my rate reasonable, but it means I can't drive it every day. If you wanted, say, 12,000 miles per year, you'd have to get a standard policy, which costs – in the words of my agent – "lotsa money." Presumably, this is because the insurance companies are just as leery of the non-Well Behaved Women and their desire to Make History as I am.
But the main issue is resale value. I recently rolled over 20,000 miles, which probably took four figures of value off my car. Seriously: a car with 19,000 miles is probably worth at least $1,000 more than one with 20,000. Maybe $2,000. Maybe $5,000, to the right crazy Ferrari owner with the right crazy detailing tools that will shine the car to perfection after his once-a-month drive around the block.
And a car with 30,000 miles? That simply doesn't happen. Ferrari owners know it can happen, of course. But it never would. "Did you hear about Jim?" the Ferrari owners say at their gatherings, in between nibbling cheese squares on a toothpick. "He just hit 29,000 miles!" Then stunned silence. "What's his car worth?" someone will eventually reply. "The same as an Etch-a-Sketch?!" And then they laugh and laugh, and at the end of the day, they carefully load their cars into trailers and head home.
Now, I'm not much of a stickler for mileage, but I've got to sell this thing when I'm done writing about it. So I have to be careful. And that means I'm always asking myself questions before I set out: Is the mileage worth it? What's the parking situation like? Are there potholes? Road construction? Occupy protesters? Plumbers with iPads? Well Behaved Women? Making History? Are there guys with Dodge Neons and temporary tires? Is there a 2-for-1 deal at Arby's?!?
It all gets a bit tiring, really. So much that sometimes you don't even bother. Sometimes you hang up the Ferrari key, you walk outside, and you drive the Nissan Cube instead.

@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn't work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.

Veteran Who Lost His Leg in Afganistan Wins First IMSA Race



Liam Dwyer Lime Rock
Three years ago, Marine Staff Sgt. Liam Dwyer lost his leg and most of the feeling in his arm while serving in Afghanistan. This past weekend, he piloted a Mazdaspeed racing MX-5 to victory at the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut. A true story of American perseverance.

Along with his co-driver Tom Long, the No. 27 Mazda MX-5 found its way to the finish line faster than any of its competitors. It was a nearly 20 second victory over the rest of the field with Tom Long at the helm.

Liam Dwyer Lime Rock 2

“Saying I’m excited is a major understatement,” Dwyer said in an interview with The Associate Press this past weekend. “I am ecstatic about this.” And we don’t blame him.

In 2007, when Dwyer received his first injury overseas, the minor setback didn’t keep him from reenlisting a second time. In 2011, while on a second tour, Dwyer received severe injuries from a roadside bomb, losing the feeling in most of his left arm, and the use of his left leg altogether.

Returning home in May of that year, Dwyer quickly took to rehabilitation, and was fitted with a prosthesis. That’s when his racing career began, taking to the track in vintage sports cars.

But his need for speed didn’t stop there, and his family and friends encouraged him to take his talents to the next level. Dwyer caught the attention of Freedom Autosport and his co-drvier Tom Long, who wanted Dwyer to run some tests at Mazda Laguna Seca raceway this past January.
From that point on, as they say, the rest is history. With his first victory this past weekend at Lime Rock, Dwyer hopes to keep up his streak at Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Virginia on August 23rd.

Liam Dwyer Lime Rock 4

We’ll be rooting for you Liam!

Dodge Challenger Hellcat Shooting Brake Adds Some Junk in the Trunk



The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat seems like a swell ride. America’s newest muscle coupe comes pre-loaded with 600 horsepower and an old school six-speed manual gearbox. But what if it had enough room in the back for the kids and dog?

Similar to the SRT Viper Sportback we rendered earlier in the year, the Challenger Hellcat keeps many of its sporty cues, albeit with a little junk in the trunk. Rendered by X-Tomi Design, the Challenger looks dapper with a the addition of an extra boot. It almost conjures up memories of American wagons of past.

Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Wagon

While it will never be built— I mean, never, we don’t see why people wouldn’t line up to buy this thing. I mean, the Dodge Magnum did pretty decent after all.

The newly consolidated Dodge and SRT brands are launching out of the gate at full throttle – introducing the new 600-plus horsepower 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT with a Hellcat engine and its stablemate – the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT just one month after taking the wraps off the new Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker at the New York Auto Show.

Driven by the five SRT performance hallmarks, the new 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT and Challenger SRT with the Hellcat engine are re-designed and totally re-engineered to be the most true-to-form muscle coupes on the market with performance-enhancing technologies inside and out. The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat will feature the most powerful V-8 engine ever produced by Chrysler Group – the supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V-8.

“The new 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is the ultimate performance muscle car,” said Tim Kuniskis, President and CEO – Dodge Brand, Chrysler Group LLC. “Dodge is the Mainstream Performance brand, and now combined with SRT, we are able to unleash a true GT car with an all-new driver-focused interior and the TorqueFlite eight-speed transmission combined with the most powerful V-8 Chrysler has ever produced. The Challenger Hellcat has been released!”

The 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT coupes will be built at the Brampton (Ont.) Assembly plant. Production is scheduled to begin in the third quarter of 2014.

Awe-inspiring powertrains

For 2015, the Challenger SRT with a Hellcat engine is propelled by the new supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V-8. Its 600-plus horsepower rating will be the highest of any V-8 engine in Chrysler Group’s celebrated history. The all-new V-8 engine can be mated with an upgraded six-speed manual transmission or a beefy, new TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic – the first such gearbox ever offered in the Dodge Challenger SRT’s time-honored segment.

This new HEMI® Hellcat engine is Dodge and SRT’s first application of V-8 supercharger technology, delivering the full brand experience with fresh potency.

The breakthrough supercharged engine features a forged-steel crankshaft with induction-hardened bearing surfaces. The result is a crank so well-engineered it can withstand firing pressures of 110 bar (1,595 psi) – the equivalent of five family sedans standing on each piston, every two revolutions. And its unique, specially tuned crank damper has been tested to 13,000 rpm.

High-strength, forged-alloy pistons – developed using advanced telemetry measurement – are coupled to powder-forged connecting rods with high-load-capacity bushings and diamond-like-carbon-coated piston pins.

The new supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V-8 has premium-grade, heat-treated aluminum-alloy cylinder heads that are optimized for superior thermal conductivity. And its die-cast aluminum rocker covers are HEMI Orange.

In addition to the supercharged HEMI V-8 in the Challenger SRT Hellcat, the new 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT model also gets a power boost with upgrades to the 392 HEMI V-8. Horsepower climbs to 485 from 470, while peak torque jumps to 475 lb.-ft. from 470 lb.-ft.

The 392 also can be mated with a new TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic or the proven six-speed manual transmission.

All-new Drive Modes tailor the driving experience to each individual driver

Whether its on-road or on-track, Challenger SRT owners can personalize their drive experience via the all-new Drive Modes feature. Drive Modes tailor the driving experience by controlling horsepower, transmission shift speeds, steering (Challenger SRT only), paddle shifters (automatic transmission only), traction and suspension. Drive Modes are pre-configured for Sport, Track and Default settings, while the Custom setting lets the driver customize the drive experience to their favorite settings.
Custom - Allows the driver to personalize the vehicle’s performance
Sport - Delivers increased vehicle performance capability over the Default Mode
Track - Delivers maximum vehicle performance capability on smooth, dry surfaces
Default - Activates automatically when starting the vehicle
The Drive Mode feature is controlled through the Uconnect system and may be accessed by performing any of the following:
Pushing the SRT button on the instrument panel switch bank
Selecting “Drive Modes” from the “SRT & Apps” menu
Selecting “Drive Modes” from within the Performance Pages menu.
Unlocking the power

For the first time in Chrysler Group history, the all-new 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT with a Hellcat engine comes standard with two key fobs – red and black. The red key fob is the only key that can unlock the full horsepower and torque potential of the Challenger SRT Hellcat engine; while the black key fob limits the driver to a reduced engine output.

Valet Mode is offered on both Challenger SRT and Challenger SRT with a Hellcat engine. When Valet Mode is activated, the following vehicle configurations are enabled:
Engine is remapped to significantly reduce horsepower and torque; limited to 4,000 rpm
Transmission locks out access to first gear and upshifts earlier than normal
Transmission will treat the manual shifter position the same as the drive position
Traction, steering and suspension are set to their “Street” settings
Steering-wheel paddle shifters are disabled
Drive Mode functions are disabled
Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is enabled to Full-on
Launch Control is disabled
The driver can activate and deactivate Valet Mode with a four-digit PIN code they create.

Outstanding ride and handling

The 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT rides on new, SRT-exclusive “77” eight-spoke 20 x 9-inch forged-aluminum “Hyper Black” wheels. Standard 245/45ZR20 (front and rear) Goodyear RSA2 All-Season or available Goodyear F1 Supercar Three-Season tires deliver serious grip and handling.

Standard wheels on the Challenger SRT with the Hellcat engine are new SRT-exclusive “Slingshot” split-seven spoke 20 x 9.5-inch, lightweight forged-aluminum wheels with a matte black finish; available on the SRT 392 as part of the SRT Track Pack. New P275/40ZR20 Pirelli P Zero Nero tires (front and rear) provide all-season traction while the newest tire technology from Pirelli includes the class exclusive four-season tire that is Y-Plus rated to handle the extreme speeds. Pirelli P Zero tires are available for three-season performance driving.

Available on the Challenger SRT Hellcat are 20 x 9.5-inch, lightweight forged-aluminum wheels with a Brass Monkey/dark bronze finish.

Benchmark braking

Standard on the 2015 Challenger SRT with the Hellcat engine is the largest front-brake package ever offered in an SRT vehicle, featuring all-new 390-mm (15.4-inch) Brembo two-piece rotors with six-piston calipers for outstanding heat management/thermal capacity and longevity. This upgraded high-performance brake package is available on the 392 HEMI® SRT model as part of the SRT Track Pack.

New anti-lock braking system (ABS), ESC and traction control systems are uniquely tuned and configurable for specific tire and powertrain configurations.

Aggressive and functional exteriors

Dodge and SRT designers and engineers spent 35 percent more time in the Chrysler Group’s full-scale wind tunnel in Auburn Hills, Michigan, (compared with the previous-generation Dodge Challenger SRT) developing and further refining the aggressive and functional exteriors on the Challenger SRT and Challenger SRT Hellcat. The result is a re-engineered Challenger capable of maximum aerodynamic performance for spirited driving on the road or the race track.

At the front, new fascia designs and all-new vertical-split grille provide a menacing update of its 1971 inspiration. A larger, power-bulge aluminum hood features a dedicated “cold-air” intake – a visual styling cue from the first Viper coupe built in 1996.

The hood on the new Dodge Challenger SRT with a Hellcat engine also includes dual air extractors to ensure effective removal of heat and reduced air turbulence in the engine compartment. The hood is standard in body color and is available in a Satin Black finish. Both models of the Challenger SRT feature all-aluminum hoods designed to reduce weight.

Another key design element on the Challenger SRT Hellcat is the exclusive Air Catcher inlet port, which feeds ram-air directly into the engine air box through the driver-side parking lamp.

All-new quad projector headlamps give a more detailed appearance, while a more aggressive brow “chops” the upper portion of the lamp design for an even more sinister attitude.

Integrated projector fog lamps on the Challenger 392 SRT are pushed to the lower corners to help accentuate the car’s width while illuminating the road. A new duck-bill fascia splitter helps improve the vehicle’s aerodynamics.

The Dodge Challenger SRT with a Hellcat engine features a larger front splitter designed for optimal downforce to minimize lift.

From the side, the signature muscular proportions and large thruster rear-quarter panels stand out from the crowd, while fender and belt lines tie together at the front and rear of the car to create a sleeker appearance. Differentiating the Challenger SRT Hellcat from the rest of the Challenger lineup are its “SUPERCHARGED” fender badges. Black sills accentuate the proportions of the muscle coupe and have been tuned in the wind tunnel to improve aerodynamics.

Out back, the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT recalls the historic 1971 model’s styling with a new split tail-lamp design and rear fascia. The tail lamps feature the new signature LED graphic with its smooth glow of light that can be seen from blocks away. A redesigned rear valance helps the 2015 Challenger SRT models look more planted on the ground. A unique, taller rear spoiler on the SRT Hellcat features a raised SRT logo.

Race-inspired, high-performance interiors

Inside the 2015 Dodge Challenger is an all-new enthusiast-centric cockpit with world-class materials, execution and technology. Key elements are inspired by the interior of the 1971 Challenger.

The performance cockpit of the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT carries an essence of the 1971 Challenger, in an artistic and more organically styled way.
The all-new cleanly executed instrument panel features a stamped aluminum bezel, which sets the tone for the driver’s display. For a high-tech look, an innovative 7-inch driver-selectable driver information display (DID) screen is centered in the gauge cluster and provides an almost infinitely customizable display. The all-new DID screen is flanked by new analog speedometer and tachometer gauges, which provide a heritage-inspired look with concave shapes and a hub-covered needle design, reminiscent of the “tic-toc-tach” gauges from the 1971 Challenger. For the Challenger SRT with the Hellcat engine, the fixed gauges and digital graphics are finished in a Dark Radar Red tone to make it even more unique.

Additionally, the dashboard’s center stack neatly houses the new standard 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen. New for 2015 drivers can select one of the many offered backgrounds to connect the digital look and feel with their chosen interior package.
A new, trapezoidal shaped stamped aluminum center console provides Challenger SRT’s interior with a fresh look. The aluminum trim gets one of two finishes, “Hectic Mesh” for the Challenger 392 SRT and “Dark Engine Turn” for the Challenger SRT Hellcat. The console also exudes craftsmanship and style with leather-wrapped surfaces and French-seamed accent stitching running from the back to the front. Employing a unique, elevated design, the all-new center console houses ergonomically located redundant button and knob controls for audio and climate functions. An all-new media hub with an SD card slot, USB outlet and audio jack is neatly housed inside the center console’s flocked armrest.
For those who opt for the segment-first TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission, an all-new and class-exclusive electronic shifter with an all-new driver-oriented T-handle provides the driver with intuitive gear selection and offers an Auto Stick selector gate for added control. For those who prefer having a third pedal, the precise and track-proven Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual transmission is fitted with a throwback ball shifter.

A redesigned SRT-branded heated steering wheel features a flat bottom for the high-performance driver. Available paddle shifters (with automatic transmission) are located on the back of the upper spokes. The buttons to control the driver-configurable full-color thin-film transistor (TFT) display are large and illuminated. Buttons for Uconnect and phone access now reside along the bottom edge of the horizontal spokes. Optional adaptive cruise control is configured by buttons that are symmetrically opposite on the right hand side of the wheel. As before, the highly praised audio controls are still found on the back of the upper spokes. This new tilt-telescoping steering wheel also has a 360-degree heat element.

To make cruises more pleasurable, the new 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT features redesigned seats with improved cushioning and more comfortable contours. For improved comfort and convenience, new for 2015 are standard heated and ventilated front seats. The passenger seat also has an easy exit/entry function to provide access to the rear seat – this is controlled by a release handle on the top shoulder of the seat.

Challenger SRT offers performance seats with large side bolsters for maximum lateral support in hard cornering. The seats can be covered in Nappa leather/Alcantara material with embroidered SRT logos. Laguna premium leather, colored either sepia or black with embossed SRT logos, is available as part of an equipment package.
High-impact exterior colors

Many of the most memorable paint colors in automotive history have been found on the Challenger. The 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT 392 and SRT with the HEMI Hellcat will be available in 11 exterior colors: B5 Blue Pearl Coat, Billet Silver Metallic Clear Coat, Bright White Clear Coat, Granite Crystal Metallic Pearl Coat, Ivory White Tri-Coat Pearl, Jazz Blue Pearl Coat, Phantom Black Tri-Coat Pearl, Pitch Black Clear Coat, Redline Tri-Coat Pearl, Sublime Metallic Pearl Coat and TorRed Clear Coat.

Twin, full-body stripes are available in Black Satin Gloss and Silver High Gloss on the SRT 392.
Source: Dodge Press


Friday, May 30, 2014

Lamborghini Zagato 5-95 is Truly One in a Million


@ BOLD RIDE                              

It’s called the 5-95, and it’s a mixture of Zagato, Lambo, and even a few cues from Spyker, to which the coachbuilder is all too familiar. Based on the now defunct Gallardo LP570-4, the 5-95 was commissioned by wealthy entrepreneur Albert Spiess, and features a “sensual design inspired by nature.” And by “nature” they probably mean a whale shark.

Whatever the case, the car made its official debut at the Concorso d’Eleganza in Lake Como, Italy, and will be the only one of its kind. It didn’t take home top honors, but it did catch the eye of some of the world’s wealthiest. Let’s just all be glad this polarizing creation is really a one-of-a-kind.


A New American Supercar Emerges, Meet The Rezvani Beast

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Rezvani Beast
                        Rezvani Beast via © Rezvani

A new American supercar has recently emerged and is starting to gain more attention. The Rezvani Beast comes with a compelling premise: what if one were to capture the incredible performance of the Ariel Atom, yet not make it a near death experience for the driver and any unlucky passenger? With this idea in mind, boutique California automaker Fardees Rezvani has set out to make his mark in the automotive world.

As you probably have already guessed, Rezvani uses the Ariel Atom as the platform for his own automotive creation, the Beast. The Ariel Atom is notorious for being a bare-bones, stripped-down track car that will either thrill drivers and passengers or cause them to be completely traumatized.

To create the supercar, Rezvani wraps a carbon fiber body around an Atom, giving it a stylish yet lightweight makeover that leaves the popular performance car virtually unrecognizable. The interior of the Atom is pretty much nonexistent, which gave Rezvani a blank slate to create a relatively comfortable place to sit and enjoy the thrilling ride.

Buyers can even add a windshield onto the car, but it is an option that will cost extra. Of course having a windshield is something hardcore Atom owners scoff at as they show off the bugs caught between their teeth.

Rezvani Beast
Rezvani Beast via © Rezvani
Before you start to say that Rezvani created a car that absolutely kills what the Atom is all about, consider this: the carbon fiber body only adds about 200 pounds to the car’s curb weight. On top of that, the Beast adds a turbocharger and supercharger to the Atom’s four-cylinder engine, boosting output to an amazing 500 horsepower.

 According to Rezvani, the Best can go from 0 to 60 in just 2.7 seconds. If that’s not thrilling, the price is. The automaker says it will charge a base price of just $120,000 for the Rezvani Beast. If you want one, though, you might have to get in line since production will likely top out at 10 units per year.

The Confusing Story of the Cadillac Allante


@ BOLD RIDE                              


Here’s a bit of auto trivia for you: what does the term “Allante” mean in Italian? Answer: nothing. The word was created randomly by a GM computer as a way of concealing any details about the Cadillac by the same name. However to many of those who worked feverishly to bring the luxury car to these shores, the word might as well have meant, “pain in the a**.” That’s a good metaphor to sum up the trouble and expense the project entailed.

Flash back to the early 1980s. The domestic car industry is struggling to recover from the Decade of Malaise. The suits at Cadillac want a vehicle that can hold its own with Europe’s finest. They put in a call to Sergio Pininfarina in Turin. He agrees to help build the new car, which will fit on a chopped-off El Dorado frame.


First challenge is getting the frames to Italy. GM had three 747s modified for the task of flying them across the Atlantic. The shipments included the divided chassis, electronics, AC, and steering column. The crew in Italy welded the chassis components into one piece, installed their own bodies and interiors, and topped everything off with a paint job.

Then came the first major snag. The Italians realized that the soft-top roofs would leak unless they were redone. They wanted some extra time to iron out the bugs. But, when they told the news to the suits at Cadillac, the Americans said, “no way! We want those babies to hit the street September of ’86! Ship ‘em back as-is!” So the semi-finished vehicles were returned to Detroit, where Cadillac installed the sub-frames, drive train, fuel tanks, and wheels. 18-wheelers with special covers shipped the new vehicles to dealers across the country.


They sold like hotcakes. Then, as soon as it rained, they came right back, with furious owners screaming about water-soaked interiors; surprise, surprise! Cadillac spent a fortune trying to fix the issues, but the 87-88 Allante releases are still notorious for leaking.
By 1989 the roof problems were solved, and Cadillac added a 4.5-liter 200 hp engine, 16” wheels, and electronic suspension.

 By this point the Allante was actually a decent car, but sales still sucked because GM’s prior rush to market killed its reputation. Then, when the 1990 models come out, Mercedes released the 500SL with a one-button automated power top. This made GM look bad, because they were using the Allante to compete with the 500 and it had no such top.


Enter 1991. Bosch, the company which makes the Allante’s ABS units, contacts GM with a heads-up. They’re concerned that the brakes might fail and ask the automaker to send them back to their facility for testing and retooling. GM says, “thanks but no thanks; we’ll handle it.” And “handle it” they did, to the tune of several thousand dollars for every car. Then, to top it off, a defect in the Bose sound system’s circuit board lead to weird snapping sounds over the speakers. Once more, Allante owners returned their cars to the dealers for expensive service.

When 1993 rolled around Cadillac once more had a reinvented Allante. But by that time the car had an atrocious reputation. Plus, the world economy was taking a nose-dive, killing the market for luxury autos. GM skipped model year 1994 altogether, intending to release a ’95 model. By that time, however, the suits figured it was time to cut their losses. The Allante became just another example of how poor management can kill even the best-laid plans.

Google Reveals Self-Driving Car with No Steering Wheel or Brake Pedals


Google Reveals Self-Driving Car with No Steering Wheel or Brake Pedals

“Taking a spin behind the wheel” might soon be a phrase from the past.
On Tuesday night, Google unveiled the latest version of its self-driving car: a vehicle that can navigate and drive by itself and that does not feature a steering wheel, brakes, or acceleration pedal. 

“Fully autonomous driving has always been the goal of our project,” Google’s self-driving vehicle team said in a statement, “because we think this could improve road safety and help lots of people who can’t drive. We’re now developing prototypes of vehicles that have been designed from the ground up to drive themselves — just push a button and they’ll take you where you want to go.”
Google’s rendering of the car.

The car uses the same navigation software as Google’s other self-driving vehicles, which have racked up 70,000 miles on the road already. Previous versions of Google’s self-driving car feature a steering wheel and pedals, should the driver need to override the computer’s navigation; they have also always been on the road with a driver behind the (literal) wheel.

This new, truly driverless car, according to a blog on Google’s website, would eliminate the need for the driver to look for parking (the car could do it on its own, as you walked off) and also potentially wipe out drunken-driving incidents. It could also let older people, who have lost the faculty to drive, get back behind the –– well, get back in the car.
According to tech blog Re/code, Google hopes to start testing the car in earnest this summer. The car has upgraded sensor technology, Re/code reports, and the same navigation technology that is used in its driver-equipped (yet driverless) cars.
Google also shared a promotional video of its (really cute!) self-driving car.
The car is still in its early testing phases and is not expected to be on sale anytime soon. It will also have to pass regulatory hurdles; American lawmakers have proved somewhat skeptical of Google’s first attempts at a self-driving car. Current California law requires that there be a licensed driver behind the wheel.
Google’s other self-driving car –– the one with a steering wheel and pedals –– is also still in development, and also lacks a projected release date. Experts say that it could be on the road by the end of the decade, however.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Pontiac Kammback: Innovation vs. Convention



Another example is the initial resistance within the medical community to vaccines. To “proper” medical men the idea of using an illness to prevent an illness was too absurd to deserve consideration. The fact that it worked didn’t seem to register in their straitjacketed minds.

This same tendency has shown up all too often in automotive history as well. Case in point: the Pontiac Trans AM Kammback, which was a favorite play toy of GM designers during the 70s and 80s. With a host of advantages over more traditional layouts, it should have signaled a new era in automobile manufacturing. But, alas, it was not to be.

Pontiac Kammback 3

The term “Kammback” actually refers to an approach to auto body design developed by German aeronautical engineer Wunibald Kamm back in the 30s. It envisioned smoothly flowing lines that ended in an abbreviated tail end. Wind tunnel tests have shown this approach to offers significant advantages over the more popular “teardrop” shape.

In 1985 GM created a prototype that welded a Trans Am with a 305 ci V8 to a Kammback hatch, giving the sports car a boost in both performance and fuel economy, along with extra storage space. The idea of combining practicality and excitement into a single vehicle is an old one that has spawned lots of dreams but few real innovations.

 The Kammback was an exception to this rule, and GM apparently took it seriously for a number of years. Sadly, it axed the idea in favor of more traditional approaches.

The Kammback design lived on, but it was wedded to other types of motor cars than the Trans Am, for example the ever thrilling Honda Insight and the pulse-pounding Toyota Prius (be still by racing heart).

 The original ’85 Trans Am Kammback, meanwhile, sold at auction in 2010 for $35,200.00, a disappointing sum for a vehicle that represents one of the better concepts to come out of Detroit in the last several decades. I guess that’s the price to be paid for swimming against the stream.

Pontiac Kammback 2

Photo Credit: RM Auctions

Steve McQueen's Jaguar XKSS Roars Into Jay Leno's Garage: Video

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It's hard to say which car is the coolest in the world, but Steve McQueen's 1956 Jaguar XKSS certainly makes our shortlist.

This singular Jag currently resides in Los Angeles' Petersen Automotive Museum, but Jay Leno got to take it for a spin on the latest episode of Jay Leno's Garage.

It goes without saying that Jay has access to come fairly amazing machines., but the XKSS stands out. The model was essentially a road-going version of the D-Type racer, and only 16 were built. McQueen and a subsequent owner drove this one around Los Angeles for years, and now it's reportedly worth over $25 million..

Yet even without all of that provenance, the XKSS is still a great car. The styling rivals anything on four wheels, including Jaguar's own vaunted E-Type. The inline-six makes an unbelievable sound as it breathes through the side pipes.

Watch. the full video for plenty of that mechanical music, and for more on what makes the XKSS one of the greatest (and coolest) cars ever made.