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Sunday, August 31, 2014

August 28: Charles Rolls, co-founder of Rolls-Royce, was born on this date in 1877


Charles Rolls could have done nothing with his life. Born into the English aristocracy, educated at Cambridge, his family had peerage and wealth aplenty to support whatever he did.
What Rolls wanted to do was go fast and fly, becoming the first student to bring a car to Cambridge in 1896, setting a speed record of 91 mph in Dublin, and opening a car dealership at the turn of the 20th century.
That's how he met Frederick Royce, an engineer who had been building his own cars; using his upper-class connections, Rolls and Royce began building their own models in 1904, soon finding favor among wealthy Britons for their power and quietness.
 Rolls had stepped back from the company in favor of flight by 1910, when he became the first pilot to perform a two-way crossing of the English Channel — and died a month later when his plane broke apart just 20 feet off the ground. He was 32 years old.

All-new 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class has the makings of a luxurious crowd pleaser

We’ve just bought a 2015 Mercedes-Benz C300, the mainstream version of the newly redesigned C-Class sedan. Based on our first impressions, we think a lot of people are going to like this car. It’s somewhat larger inside and out than the last generation, and it remains beautifully finished inside. It’s everything a Mercedes ought to be: comfortable, quiet, agile, and altogether well sorted out.

The new C-Class takes styling cues from the flagship S-Class, new last year, and comes standard with a raft of up-to-date safety gear such as a collision-avoidance system that can automatically brake to stop the car in some situations. Two versions are available initially, the C300, powered by a 241-hp, 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder, and the C400, with a 329-hp, 3.0-liter turbo V6. The C-Class is now built in Alabama, alongside Mercedes’ SUVs.

We opted for an all-wheel-drive C300 with a typical options array, including the Premium package, panoramic sunroof, blind-spot assist,  and rearview camera. With a sticker price of $47,560, our C lands at the higher end of the sports sedan spectrum, where it competes most directly against the BMW 3 Series.


First impressions

As you begin to cover some ground, it becomes clear that power from the small four-cylinder engine is ample and that turbo lag is essentially imperceptible. The seven-speed automatic works well. So far, this powertrain combination has been averaging a respectable 26 mpg.

A console-mounted button labeled “Agility” lets you toggle between Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Sport Plus modes. Each setting alters transmission shift points and changes the steering heft. Predictably, Eco dulls responses while Sport Plus may be too frenetic for relaxed cruising. Comfort is the happy medium most people will probably prefer for everyday driving. And when in a hurry, Sport mode might be the choice. Helpfully, the mode selector and dash display make it instantly clear what setting you’ve selected.

As to actual agility, the new C has quick reflexes with very prompt steering response, making the car corner with alacrity. It’s sporty and always enjoyable to drive. The pliant suspension delivers a comfortable ride, with Mercedes’ typical cushiness and settled body motions. The cabin stays quiet, but you do hear an unmistakable four-cylinder thrum, which may seem a little out of place in a $47,000 sedan. But that’s the modern world; Many luxury-level cars use turbocharged four-cylinder engines these days.

Inside you’ll find the expected Mercedes upscale execution, with a high-quality feel to every surface, switch, and button, and nothing garish or flashy. The artificial-leather upholstery, called MB-Tex, is the most believable fake leather you’ll find anywhere, and honestly, it can pass for the real thing.

The center screen looks like it floats in the middle of the dash but unfortunately, its baffling menu structure resembles the S-Class’ too much. Other Mercedes models have a more straightforward control interface, and it looks like the folks in Stuttgart are about to give it up.

 A piano-black touchpad provides an alternative method for selecting various functions and on cars with navigation, the touch pad allows for some shortcuts. Some of us found that it gets in the way of the more reliable center knob.

The rear seat, a low point of the last C-Class, has markedly improved and now allows decent space for an adult.

So far, the new C-Class seems to be a very satisfying car with accomplished ride and handling, top-drawer interior fit and finish, and advanced safety features. It certainly has the potential to land among the highest-rated sports sedans, but we won’t know that for sure until our formal tests and evaluations are completed in the weeks ahead.
Gabe Shenhar


Why this off-road, Russia-only Chevy concept should come to America


Chevrolet Niva Concept
The Chevrolet Niva, a mini-SUV produced as a joint venture between GM and Russian automaker AvtoVAZ, is a beige little ute based on a Lada.
 It's an incredibly boring car in current form, but the next generation Niva concept unveiled today ahead of the Moscow auto show is a strong enough idea to make us wonder why Chevy hasn't tried something like this over here.
Even if you ditch the concept-y winch up front, knobbly tires, off-road snorkel and roof rack featuring enough lights to illuminate Norilsk, the new Niva still manages to look far more aggressive than the standard compact ute.

 If the Niva went into production with the same purposeful stance, it could be quite appealing to younger buyers. But regardless, it's only for Russian consumption.

In the United States, Chevy will soon scratch the mini-SUV itch with the Chevy Trax -- a small crossover originally designed for Europe that's currently making the rounds in Mexico and Canada. While not an inherently bad car, GM calls it a "youth-focused" vehicle.

Having sampled it, the Trax offers a lukewarm addition to a segment filled with quirky fare like the Nissan Juke and Kia Soul. So why, I ask, would a young, hip buyer want a Trax?

Back to the Niva concept: this rugged little shoebox is precisely what a buyer of that description might desire -- something fun, different and, yes, practical.

 If it came with, say, the concept-style off-road tires, it might blend the niche between folks that think the Juke is too weird and despise frogs, and those that find a Jeep Wrangler too adventurous and have never heard of Deadmau5.

The last time Chevy had a youth-focused off-roader in its dealerships? The Chevy Tracker, now more than a decade gone. Bring this new Niva to America at a starting price of around $20,000, and, maybe, Chevy would have a nice little winner for the average millennial. 

 Because, let's be honest, my grandma would drive a Trax. This way, you're catering to both parties.


Challenger A/T Unlimited Concept could be your next Hellcat-powered ORV


 News Source: J. Ruiter

This past June I spent an excellent day hanging out with Joey Ruiter, driving and discussing his Reboot Buggy project. Before heading home, I let him know that he was more than welcome to keep me abreast of whichever new automotive project he'd get into. You can never have too many car designers and one-off fabricators in your Rolodex, right?

Ruiter recently made good with the follow-up, emailing me with details on this Dodge Challenger A/T Untamed Concept that pushes a lot of hot buttons for the muscle car and off-roading enthusiasts.

This all-terrain Mopar is a lot more than a
Challenger body dropped on a truck chassis, too. A materialized version of the A/T would included a completely new, long-travel suspension, skid plates, body armor and rock sliders, and obviously flared fenders to help accommodate a hellacious set of off-road-ready tires.

 The dramatically revised underpinnings would be topped with a slick graphics package and a killer lower light bar, all making the A/T look quite cohesive in its own, radical way. And the result would be a car no longer limited to mere road-driving.

I asked Ruiter if his concept was rocking a theoretical
Hellcat V8 under the hood, and while he agreed that the supercharged engine would make the A/T "the most insane ride ever," he thinks a tuned V6 would make more sense from a weight standpoint. Ruiter also told me that he "wanted the passion given to the Hellcat to be pushed into more areas."

That's a sentiment a lot of you should be on board with, considering how many "Hellcat Grand Cherokee NOW!!!!" comments I read, every time we run a new HC piece.

Which is important to know, because, while the package isn't ready yet, Ruiter really would like to offer something like the Challenger A/T for real customers. He's working to develop a kit that could A/T-ize Challengers, Mustangs and Camaros. We're all for it.

Combining our love of American muscle and off-roading.

When products work well in the worst extremes, it will work that much better in normal use. No curb, parking gate, city ramp, pot-hole, or incline will ever be an issue.


Meet the CONCEPT Dodge Challenger A/T with more muscle than ever. It's sleek enough for the city nightlife and rough enough for the off-road landscape.

New Products developed for the 2015 Challenger:

• Front long travel arms
• Rear trailing arm with links
• Body armor with rock sliders
• Fender flares
• Front skid plate
• Integrated lower light bar
• A/T logo badge

Body Modifications:

• Wheel well trimming
• Inner fender wall construction
• Exhaust tuck and reposition
• Spare tire truck mount
• Graphic twin striping
• Off-road tool storage and details
• Safety equipment

We pushed the performance, power and capabilities of the iconic Challenger from the street to the dirt. From body armor to racing seats, this ride is customized from top to bottom and ready for some serious use.

No matter where you're going, this car will get you there. So pick your road, we've got the car.

We would love to build one for you.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The best worst cars ever made



1960–69 Chevrolet Corvair

 Nader's Nemesis: Ralph Nader kneecapped this popular compact car (pictured, above) in his 1965 book Unsafe at Any Speed. But the Chevy had slick, minimalist styling at a time when other Detroit designs were overwrought.

Best of the lot: The Lakewood wagon, which debuted in 1961 and had the performance—not to mention surf-wagon capaciousness—other cars in its category don't.

Past five years: Some models are topping 20 percent growth. "If it's bad enough for Nader to hate," says McKeel Hagerty, a leading insurer of collectible cars, "it makes some people think they're going to love it." (Average 2014 sale price: $7,539. Highest sale price: $39,600, in 2013.)


1971–80 Ford Pinto

Lemon Par Excellence: The Pinto wasn't as sporty, efficient, or reliable as economy imports. And, oh yeah, it was infamous for exploding in rear-end collisions.

Best of the lot: The 1977–80 Cruising Wagon, which desperately tried to emulate the identically racing-striped and bubble-windowed "shaggin' wagon" van of the same era.

Past five years: Pintos are up about 25 percent in value. "People's parents bought them a Pinto, so that's what they end up collecting," says John Clor, Ford's liaison to Pinto car clubs. (Average 2014 sale price: $3,800. Highest sale price: $12,650, in 2007.)

1974–78 Ford Mustang II

The New Coke of Cars: This rebrand-gone-wrong was built with the guts of the Pinto and an 88-horsepower 4-cylinder engine, a far cry from the 375-hp V-8 Mustangs of a few years prior.

Best of the lot: The V-8–equipped, hot-rod-inspired (think spoilers, fatter wheels) 1976–78 Cobra II.

Past five years: They're up 24 percent because, Clor says, they're subversive: "They're the Kryptonite to the Superman of Mustang collectors. If you're the lone guy who shows up at a meet with a nice Mustang II, you are competing with no one. You win." (Average 2014 sale price: $4,307. Highest sale price: $18,975, in 2014.)

1975–80 AMC Pacer

"Bohemian" Behemoth: The Pacer's major use of heavy glass meant it got only 16 miles per gallon, even if you could headbang to "Bohemian Rhapsody."

Best of the lot: The 1975–78 X package, which sported vinyl bucket seats, chrome bumpers, aluminum rims, and door decals.

Past five years: Values are up about 9 percent. The car's oddball look, once a minus, is now a plus, says Alan Galbraith, who started the Concours d'LeMons show five years ago in Pebble Beach, California. (Average 2014 sale price: $4,886. Highest sale price: $16,500, in 2013.)


1984–88 Pontiac Fiero

The Pig in Lipstick: Imagined as a sporty two-seater with unique engine, transmission, and suspension components, the Fiero ended up taking its guts from Chevy's Chevette and Citation economy line. It did 0 to 60 mph in...11.3 seconds.

Best of the lot: The final-edition 1988 GT, with its upgraded suspension, engine, body, and brakes.

Past five years: The Fiero's worth has dipped about 4 percent, but Hagerty says it's poised for an uptick as demand for wedge-shaped cars from that era heats up. (Average 2014 sale price: $5,380. Highest sale price: $21,200, in 2011.)

2015 Ford Mustang Production Starts Now, First-Ever RHD Models Begin Testing and Just Look Wrong


Posted by
2015 Ford Mustang Begins Production at Flat Rock Assembly Plant
 Wipe the saliva off your keyboards, Mustang fans, the arrival of the all-new 2015 iteration of your beloved pony car is now mere weeks away.
 Today, Ford triumphantly paraded the first production-ready 2015 Mustang off of its Flat Rock, Michigan, assembly line in the form of a red GT coupe.
The plant, which also ships out Fusions, is dialing its roughly 3000 workers to “full speed” to crank out as many Mustangs as possible.
It’s likely, even with two shifts and a $555 million facility upgrade to allow multiple models come off the same lines, it won’t be enough to fulfill demand for the first few months.
 Dealers are already taking inventory orders, while individual customers will be able to place orders sometime early next month.

2015 Ford Mustang GT interior

In the coming months, Ford will introduce the first-ever right-hand-drive Mustangs to more than 25 markets hellbent on using the wrong side of the road, including the U.K., Australia, and South Africa.

 The first 500 European models were reserved in 30 seconds, but we recommend customers anywhere in the world get to stepping to their local dealer, like, now. And if you want your car right away, you may want to bring a pile of actual cash.

August 29: Gottlieb Daimler patents the first motorcycle on this date in 1885



Tucked on the back of the fairway at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in 2012 was this contraption, which looks like a cross between a bicycle and some kind of 19th-century medical device.
 Brought by Mercedes, it's a replica of the world's first motorcycle — an attempt by Gottlieb Daimler to explore how he might package the four-stroke gasoline engine invented by Nicolaus Otto.
While there had been a steam-powered two-wheeler before, Daimler's invention, patented 128 years ago today, is generally considered the primordial vehicle from which modern motorcycles and automobiles evolved.
 (The real item was lost in a fire during the 1930s.) Here's a close-up of another replica demonstrating how a rider might try to control it:


The Ten Best Supercars You Can Buy On eBay For Under $50,000


eBay Challenge: Budget Supercars Under $50,000
Good news! That 10 percent of your paycheck you've obviously been saving for the last few decades is finally ready to do some good. Even… Read…

The Ten Best Supercars You Can Buy On eBay For Under $50,000


The Ten Best Supercars You Can Buy On eBay For Under $50,000

Yesterday. I asked the financially responsibly lot of you about what supercars you would buy on eBay with a maximum budget of $50,000, and you certainly delivered. Here are the cars that are the automotive equivalent of a fine steakhouse, for the price of a value meal:
(Photo by Alexandre Prévot on Flickr)

10. Bentley Continental GT

The Ten Best Supercars You Can Buy On eBay For Under $50,000

Here's a twin-turbocharged W12, 200mph cream puff. It's got the right color interior, refined looks, and handcrafted attention to detail that screams "high class" without being "high price".
(Suggested by Tiny Toy Viper on Flickr)

9. Pretty much every Aston Martin made in the last 10 years.

The Ten Best Supercars You Can Buy On eBay For Under $50,000
I have a soft spot (...or is it a hard spot?) for Aston Martins. I think that they're the closest thing to rolling pieces of art that you can buy today, bar none.
 Whether it's a DB7, DB9 or V8 Vantage, it's likely that every Aston made within the last decade is within striking distance of anyone not currently involved in a protest for increasing the minimum wage. They're a tremendous value for the money.

8. Ferrari 456 GT

The Ten Best Supercars You Can Buy On eBay For Under $50,000
Although I don't think I agree with this one, I can see why it's on the list. It's a Ferrari that doesn't require reconditioning, with a V12 at the front and a 4-seater configuration. It's the Ferrari you can drive every day, and that alone makes the car stand out.
(Suggested by weetstraw, jewtoys)


7. Noble M400

The Ten Best Supercars You Can Buy On eBay For Under $50,000
It has what's essentially a Ford Taurus engine, in a car built in a garage somewhere in England by a handful of hoodlums. But it works better than nearly anything else on the road because of the extreme attention to detail and the huge turbochargers strapped onto that 3.0 liter Ford Duratec V6. This one isn't a Rossion, but a real, genuine Noble. I'd buy it.

6. Maserati GranTurismo

The Ten Best Supercars You Can Buy On eBay For Under $50,000
This is one of the sexiest shapes ever. It's not the most taught thoroughbred racer, but it looks the part and it's comfortable enough that you can use it everywhere. This one squeaks just under budget, but it's still certainly worth a look.
(Suggested by nothingreal)

5. DeTomaso Pantera

The Ten Best Supercars You Can Buy On eBay For Under $50,000
An Italian body with a firebreathing Ford engine is like a supermodel that also happens to be a grilling champion. It's a win-win-win, and this Pantera does all the right things and comes under budget. What's not to like?
(Suggested by Jonee, patgilmartin, Conan)

4. Ferrari 328 GTSI Quattrovalvole

The Ten Best Supercars You Can Buy On eBay For Under $50,000
Buy this and pretend it's the 80s, since I'm pretty sure cocaine prices have depreciated accordingly. Coincidence? I think not.
Entry-level super car, but you can't NOT fall in love with this shapes. $48000 and a decent low mileage example.
(Suggested by Wojtek)

3. Dodge Viper GTS

The Ten Best Supercars You Can Buy On eBay For Under $50,000

Nothing says "supercar" like a Viper that says "VIPER" on the windshield. Miles per gallon? Sounds like liberal propaganda to me.
(Suggested by mtdrift)

2. Lotus Esprit V8

The Ten Best Supercars You Can Buy On eBay For Under $50,000
As I come to terms with the fact that I have increasingly expensive tastes, we see this shining example of what Britain can come up with when it has an amazing chassis, 8 cylinder, and 2 turbos. It's not the most reliable car in the world, but as it sits, it just makes sense.
(Suggested by Scuba Steve)

1. Acura NSX

The Ten Best Supercars You Can Buy On eBay For Under $50,000
The king has arrived. Although you can buy a high-mileage NSX for less than half of this budget, the true holy grail, unicorn cars, like this one with less than 40k miles, are worth the extra cost. It's the epitome of a supercar you can drive everyday, even if the power isn't exactly what I'd call abundant. A must drive at the very least.

Tavarish is the founder of APiDA Online and writes about buying and selling cool cars on the internet. He owns the world's cheapest Mercedes S-Class, a graffiti-bombed Lexus, and he's the only Jalopnik author that has never driven a Miata. He also has a real name that he didn't feel was journalist-y enough so he used a pen name and this was the best he could do.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The lengthy process of shipping the world’s ugliest $3-million car

Posted By Shawn Langlois  
Market Watch @ the Wall St. Journal 

Considering what it might cost to repair a ding, the process of shipping this $3-million Bugatti Veyron Vitesse doesn’t seem so heavy-handed.
Then again, when the paint job is finally revealed, it seems a few scratches could actually help. What’s the opposite of lipstick on a pig?
Anyway, Spencer Berke, an employee at San Diego’s Symbolic Motors, took the time to document the laborious delivery of the ultra-rare sportscar, and suffice to say, Kia probably doesn’t go to these lengths to ship its Rio.
The car was handled like a Faberge egg filled with snowflakes. Special wood floors in the transport truck. Each wheel spoke was individually wrapped.
The owner stood by as “one of the most respected and skilled Bugatti technicians in the world” went about disrobing this beast, according to Berke.
As for the paint job, this is how Berke describes the process:
 “They basically take the car into a detail booth where they paint buff their final vehicles. Inside of their booth, they have a surrounding dome of lights that overhang the entire car.
 They actually mask off the reflections of the lights on the car and base the paint off the reflections leaving behind a crazy, marble like paint scheme.”
The proud buyer of the car wasn’t identified. This guy, perhaps?

The Bugatti Veyron is nearing its production run, with a total of 450 being built. At last check, there were just 15 left to be sold. Check out the full video.