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Throughout The Car Industry



Categories: Videos

Belgium's Supercar Gets a Successor

On: Thu, Nov 11, 2010 at 4:33PM | By: Chris Weiss


Belgium's Supercar Gets a Successor test 1-1

It seems that no matter how long I write about supercars and the automotive industry, there's always some random exotic company out there—often in northern Europe—building a supercar that I've never heard of. The latest company to point to my insufficient supercar knowledge is Automobiles Gillet. Its new Vertigo .5 Spirit is a successor to the original Vertigo that was launched back in the 1990s and promises to deliver even more performance.


Opel Ampera: Meet Volt's Attractive German Step-Sister

On: Thu, Nov 11, 2010 at 4:26PM | By: John Welch


Opel Ampera: Meet Volt's Attractive German Step-Sister test 1-1

The Chevrolet Volt is cool enough on its own, any vehicle as complicated and well executed as the Volt would have to be, at least, sort of cool. But it could be sooo much cooler. It could look like a DTM car, it could look like a rocketship, it could look like the Opel Ampera.

The Ampera is the Volt, just draped in stylish Germanic sheetmetal. The wheels are slick, the headlight treatment divine. Around back, the Volt's taillights are in place, but there are vents and curves not seen on Volt flanks. It makes the Volt look less like a Prius. I understand the need for differentiation between markets, but c'mon . . . This is the difference between the Ford Mondeo and the Ford Contour. The Holden Commodore and the Pontiac G8. The Honda Civic Type R and Si. The Sierra and XR4Ti . . . the Euro version is better.

Pricing on the old continent is a little difficult to pin down. We pay $41,000 dollars, before tax credits and other incentives for the Volt. The Opel Ampera could be as much as 42,900 euros, but countries such as Germany offer their own discounts. Some, again, like Germany, are substantial. A German Ampera could dip as low as 36,000 euros. Look for the little Opel's to dot the old country by the thousands by the end of 2011. This is probably the last time we will mention the Ampera so you'll find a proper image gallery inside the post.


GM Goodwrench Getting The Long Kiss Goodnight

On: Tue, Nov 9, 2010 at 12:52PM | By: John Welch


GM Goodwrench Getting The Long Kiss Goodnight test 1-1

In another attempt to differentiate its brand images, GM will be axing the "GM Goodwrench Service Plus" branding it has used for its service arm since 1974. Originally introduced under the "Mr. Goodwrench" name, GM will split the former halo corporations' duties between its four brands, creating Chevrolet Certified Service, Cadillac Certified Service, Buick Certified Service, and GMC Certified Service in its place. Dale Earnhardt fans everywhere could be heard issuing a collective sigh of relief, as they can now rest assured that "Goodwrench" will never be resurrected on another, less worthy driver's stock car. The number "3" is a different story; Richard Childress have commissioned its use on more than one of his grandson's race cars.

Wait, what? I digress . . . “This is another part of the effort to clear out brand clutter,” a GM source said, though the brand will remain in Canada, where it still carries some sort of cachet. In the States, the brand will officially bite the dust February 1st, 2011. It seems that GM dealers have gone against the Mr. Goodwrench credo in recent years, failing to display signage touting "Service for all GM vehicles, at all GM dealerships, using nothing but GM certified replacement parts." The Goodwrench brand, obviously, has lost some of its sway.

Steve Hill, vice president and general manager, GM Customer Care and Aftersales, explains the new branding in a statement released this morning: “Certified Service supports GM's strategy to focus on the four brands—Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac—and is a natural extension of the customer's vehicle purchase experience at the dealership.”

The name change does little to affect the bad rap GM service has earned over the years, needless to say their crappy cars. Here's hoping the recent improvements in product design and execution trickles down to the proverbial service department. The full press release can be found inside this post . . .


Once Again, We Do blogaboutthis.com: BMW Confirms Production For VED Concept

On: Fri, Nov 5, 2010 at 12:50PM | By: John Welch


Once Again, We Do blogaboutthis.com: BMW Confirms Production For VED Concept test 1-1

Back in September we came across dontblogabouthis.com, a URL purchased by everyone's favorite Bavarian car company, BMW. The website was populated with weird posts regarding what appeared to be a BMW 6 Series coupe. Some things didn't add up. The car has a single exhaust pipe and really skinny tires. The body work was of course ill-fitting and featured enormous fender flares. Strange, to say the least.

BMW did want us to blogaboutthat, and they placed two eerily vague videos featuring this . . . whateveritis car zipping in and out of focus, though never actually being in focus. We were intrigued, naturally. BMW has produced some extremely interesting concept cars in the last few, post-Bangle years, though their actual cars have gotten pudgy and staid. I didn't like the goofy trunklid that came with Bangle-butt; I don't like a 5-Series riding on a 7-Series platform either.

So, now it is official, the mystery coupe is, in fact, a production varient of the Vision Efficient Dynamics concept. This car is a looker for sure, but it also brings some interesting techno-zaniness to the Fisker luncheon. Prius-pounding economy? Check. WRX-whipping acceleration? Check. Doors that out-SLS the SLS? Check. Dueling hybrid powertrains, plug-in capability, and full electric operation? Check, check, and Check.


 

Audi To Offer Robotic Engine Note in Its EVs

On: Fri, Nov 5, 2010 at 10:13AM | By: Chris Weiss


Audi To Offer Robotic Engine Note in Its EVs  test 1-1

Range anxiety isn't the only big issue facing electric vehicle manufacturers. About a year ago, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration released study findings showing that crashes involving pedestrians and cyclists occurred more frequently among hybrid drivers than among gas-powered drivers. While the NHTSA didn't get involved in analyzing the reasons behind the discrepancy, the quiet, "silent killer" nature of the hybrid (and electric vehicle) has been a concern among road safety organizations, organizations for the blind and vehicle manufacturers. Companies like GM, Toyota and Nissan have worked on artificial systems designed to mimic the sound of a gas car and warn pedestrians of approaching vehicles.

For its own future electric vehicles, Audi has decided to take a different route. Instead of a faux engine grumble, the company is borrowing some inspiration from Hollywood.


Lexus Launches Real Life Driving Simulation Technology

On: Mon, Nov 1, 2010 at 4:53PM | By: Sherry Christiansen


Lexus Launches Real Life Driving Simulation Technology test 1-1

The next big thing from Lexus is not a car!  Lexus has designed the world’s most advanced driving simulator, located in Higashifuji, Japan where the company’s research campus is housed. The simulator is a dome-shaped structure, 15 feet high and 56 feet in diameter, located on top of a series of complex interlocking full motion tracks that run across a room the size of a football field.

Step inside the dome to discover a genuine Lexus car mounted to a turntable that allows drivers to test drive the actual steering wheel, gear shift, and accelerator. An imaging system with high definition displays provide a 360-degree view of roads around the vehicle. Traffic is visible and audible, as are images of a city surrounding the scene, just like it would be in a real life driving scenario. 


2010 Sebring Historic Fall Classic: German Mega Gallery

On: Fri, Oct 29, 2010 at 10:36AM | By: John Welch


2010 Sebring Historic Fall Classic: German Mega Gallery test 1-1

Sebring International Raceway is open for business all year long. This is Florida, and despite what news media sensationalism would lead you to believe, hurricanes do not disrupt our fun that often. You can book the Sebring course for practice, testing, weddings, company picnics, and of course, Historic Racing.

That term "Historic Racing" is sort of arbitrary; there is no specific factor that makes a race or race car "historic". If it has turned a wheel in sanctioned competiton, it probably carries some historic value for sombody. Personally, I think all race cars are historic in one way or another. As it turns out, Historic SportsCar Racing Limited agrees with me. They put together three days of hard-nosed, surprisingly close racing comprising of 6 classes, two night races, three enduros and, the big draw, two race-winning Audi R8 prototypes. I certainly didn't think I would ever get a chance to photograph these cars at speed. What a thrill!

The races were exciting to the end, the Audis dominating the multi-class racing, while several GT1 Porsche 911 RSRs were the "class" of the GT field. The No. 28, owned by Klaus Graff (driver of the CytoSport Porsche RS Spyder that won two races during the 2010 ALMS season) was especially soul stirring. Listening to this car downshift from sixth to second entering turn 15 was a nearly religious experience. It's the little things that make you wonder why America isn't a little more enamoured with auto racing. The echo from a sequential transmission barking off downshifts is so bizarre and spine tingling it seems to me that one hasn't lived until having witnessed such a mechanical epiphany.

Thankfully, I live in Florida, I work for the AutoShopper, and I get to experience this magic six times a year. I lie awake at night dreaming of Sebring, and I can't wait for you to open this gallery, or watch the attached video, and consider a trip down here yourself, come March 2011. Check back all weekend for more SHFC images; it is simply impossible to fit them all into one post . . .


12 Minutes Of V8 Super Cars That Reaffirms Our Lust For Racing

On: Thu, Oct 28, 2010 at 11:42AM | By: John Welch


12 Minutes Of V8 Super Cars That Reaffirms Our Lust For Racing test 1-1

We don't cover the Austrailian V8 SuperCar Series that often in the AutoShopperBlog. Like NASCAR and Formula One, this series is well-covered across the interwebs, and doesn't hit close to home like the ALMS or Rolex Grand Am Series. Just like NASCAR and F1, sometimes we just can't ignore the Aussie V8s.

In case you are totally uninitiated, V8 SuperCars are very close to their production brethren, the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon. Though we have not had anything similar to the (completely badass) Ford Falcon on these shores, you may recognize the Commodore as the late, great Pontiac G8. Don't cry for me, Catalina, though we no longer get the G8, it's chassis lives on as several Holdens, and a Vauxhall or two; don't forget Chevrolet-badged versions sold in Saudi Arabia and China. Hilarious how our own government likes to screw us over in the name of "good relations" with these countries, while at the same time General Motors sells the most ‘American’ of vehicles not to Americans, but to our financial "frienemies". Sooo funny. The world just isn't fair.

Political rant stifled, I must now turn your attention to the video inside this post. It comes from last weekend's Gold Coast 600 (600 Kilometers, not miles) and it features a veteran Holden driver, Jamie Whincup, holding off an upstart Ford rookie, Shane Van Ginsbergern. The two drivers are bumper-to-bumper for a long time, the racing action too good to ignore. Sit back in your office chair, watch out for Eye-Hustlers, and let this video rip; it is sure to be the best ten minutes of your stuffed-shirt, cubicle-dwelling day!


Top Gear To Debut On November 21

On: Tue, Oct 26, 2010 at 8:23AM | By: Chris Weiss


Top Gear To Debut On November 21  test 1-1

There really aren't enough hot cars on American television. Especially not when compared to Great Britain where several shows dedicated to the fascinating world of automobiles tantalize viewers. Here, we have to settle for the occassional sneak peek into Jay Leno's garage—just one more reason to hate that smarmy, big-chinned bastard.

Well, the History Channel is fixin' to fill the void of compelling car television with the importation of Great Britain's most famed auto show: Top Gear. This was announced back in the spring, but last week, History made it official with the debut date: Sunday, November 21 at 10 / 9 central.


2009 Hurst Series 5 Challenger: Gentleman's Hot Rod Enters 21st Century

On: Mon, Oct 25, 2010 at 1:03PM | By: John Welch


2009 Hurst Series 5 Challenger: Gentleman's Hot Rod Enters 21st Century test 1-1

Let's say you woke up one morning and realized that you finally had the means to own any car your heart desires. Would you go for the requisite Ferrari or Porsche? Would you buy an older car and restore it? Would you get a hoopty, a muscle car, a European exotic, a Concourse winner?

Most people, in the real world, dive head first into some endless basket-case of a project and never realize their final goal. Phillip Anderson is not that guy. Knowing full well that his time is his most important commodity, and that he didn't have room for a half-finished project that he could never devote time to, and that he did not lust after Euro machinery in quite that same way as American Iron, Mr. Anderson went about his dream car search in a more logical way than most men would. And, being totally honest, it wasn't even a man who worked through all of this mental puffery—it was Phillip's wife.

Ruthelise Anderson knew her husband desired a car that would turn heads, haul ass, and not get him arrested while doing it. She knew that he had enjoyed Hurst automobiles his entire life and she knew that buying a Hurst meant exclusivity that could not be gained through any but the most rare European car. Okay, things are going well if your wife knows who or what Hurst is in the first place, but Ruthelise did one better. She bought Mr. Anderson the last Hurst Series Five Dodge Challenger made in 2009. That would number 15 of 15. Slathered in gorgeous bright white paint, broken up by gold stripes, this Challenger meets all of the requirements laid out by Phillip when originally considering a high performance car, and ticks a few extra boxes along the way.


Poor Man's Bentley Gets Juiced: Dodge Adds Viper Engine To 300 C

On: Wed, Oct 20, 2010 at 9:16AM | By: Chris Weiss


Poor Man's Bentley Gets Juiced: Dodge Adds Viper Engine To 300 C test 1-1

The boxy Chrysler 300 often draws comparison to a Bentley or Rolls. Kind of the 50-footer of the auto market, the 300 appears to some untrained eyes like a Bentley from distance, but as it draws closer, it's more than clear that it's not a $250,000 ultra-premium, but a Chrysler knock-off. And while Chrysler offers several attractive engine options for the 300, topping off at the 425-hp 6.1-liter SRT HEMI V8 used in the 300C SRT8, the 300 still falls short of 500 to 550 horses worth of Bentley V8 or W12 power. Of course, with a starting price of under $27,500, the 300 doesn't exactly need to compete with the Bentley on every level. Or any level.

But now it can. One enthusiast of yet-unknown origin recently took the Chrysler 300 to the next level by jamming the 600-hp 8.4-liter V10 engine from the Viper under the faux-Crewe hood. In addition to some deep-throated, all-American muscle grumble spewing from the exhaust, the upgraded 300 would certainly be capable of super-Bentley numbers.