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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Car Reviews

Zipcar Is Zipping It's Way All Over Europe

On: Mon, May 17, 2010 at 3:08PM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

Zipcar test 2

Perhaps one of the most innovative notions that has ever reached the auto rental loving and using masses—perhaps most people are not fond of renting cars because they are paying and they are not driving their own cars—Zipcar is growing exponentially, according to some breaking news reports that show some shocking numbers, as far as expansion and a surprise company merger between the Euro equivalent—or what was up until recently—Streetcar. But this is really no surprise, because there are many desirable features this car rental service has to offer to people, universities, as well as businesses too.

Rates and Plans

The summary of what the company’s service model embodies is rather simple at heart, according to their website, and very innovative when you think about it. Once you sign up and are approved for using a Zipcar—which you can do at their website online at www.zipcar.com—you can then use the website to locate cars that are parked and are for rent in areas near to you. Many places have special Zipcar parking for drivers to park the cars when they are done using them, and for other drivers to pick up and use later on, as opposed to returning them to a specified car rental lot. Anybody who has a Zip card can unlock and drive the car. The company automatically bills the costs of the miles you drove (which for most of their plans include up to 180 miles per day; but you can up that online by adding more miles to your plan). The cars also have a free fuel card in them that you can use to fill up at any gas station, as well. And as far as insurance goes, you are covered with their insurance by being a member, so no worries there.

When looking at their website for what Zipcar poignantly called “Seattle personal driving plans”, there two options offered: “occasional driving plan,” and, “extra value plan”. The real difference between them is pennies saved for drivers who use the plans more often. The usage of either plan requires a $25 US application fee, as well as a $50 US annual fee, which does not vary for either plans. However, some drivers who use Zipcar or Streetcar often can save a few bucks by opting to go with their Extra Value Plans; similar rates are in effect in Europe, just priced out in Euros.

The Biggiest Mini Yet: 2011 Countryman Crossover

On: Fri, May 14, 2010 at 1:02PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

The Biggiest Mini Yet: 2011 Countryman Crossover test 1-1

The Mini Cooper Countryman Crossover is finally here! It seems like it has been forever since the four-door, all-wheel-drive, rugged-styled version based on the basic Mini Cooper theme was unveiled at the Paris Auto Show two years ago. Now that the concept car has evolved into a market-ready vehicle, having made its official debut at the Geneva auto show this year, it won’t be long before it is available in the United States.

The Return of the World Class Hispano-Suiza

On: Thu, May 13, 2010 at 4:37PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

The Return of the World Class Hispano-Suiza  test 1-1

Throughout history, many countries have been known for designing at least one car is so impressive and exotic that it stands far above the rest. Rarely do they produce more than one of these legendary automobiles. Examples are the 12-cylinder Rolls-Royce Phantom III from Britain, the supercharged Mercedes-Benz SSKL from Germany, the huge Bugatti Royale from France, and for Spain, that car was the Hipano-Suiza, a pre-World War II  European luxury car that never made it through the Great Depression.

Hyundai's Standard Warranty is Pretty Darn Good!

On: Wed, May 12, 2010 at 9:33AM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

Hyundai's Standard Warranty test 2

The warranty that is being offered by Hyundai is rather impressive to say the least. In fact, the car company offers not only of the best auto warranties in the US, but in the entire world too! The major South Korean car making conglomerate recently even announced on its website that they have even upped the warranty levels on their newer models in all other countries, and not just the US. This newly added level of protection that the car company is offering to consumers on the international levels speaks mountains of how they feel about the quality, reliability and durability of their engineering. This also translates into the fact that the company is not trying to ‘cheap out’ by making cars that cost less money but are surrounded by a myriad of technical issues.


Some Cars Just Grow On You...

On: Wed, May 5, 2010 at 3:59PM | By: Clay Ritchings

Some Cars Just Grow On You... test 1-1

I am not a big fan of the trend of vehicles that resemble boxes more than the sleek works of art that we are all accustomed to. I know that these vehicles are probably rather functional in a utilitarian way but I just can’t get over the look. Out of this bunch of cubist friendly land dwellers came the Ford Flex; I hated it right off the bat. But as time goes by and I encounter the Flex in parking lots, on the highways, and around town, the vehicle is growing on me…

If there’s one thing that’s indisputable about the Flex, it’s that nothing else on the road looks quite like it. With a body-color contrasting top, the only place you will find some resemblances is if you look upon the much smaller Mini or the much higher-priced Range Rover—…both style icons in their own right. The fit and finish on the Flex leads to the look that is nothing short of high end.

The 2011 Volkswagon Golf and GTI

On: Fri, Apr 23, 2010 at 1:50PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

The 2011 Volkswagon Golf and GTI test 1-1

The all new 6th generation Volkswagen Golf and GTI are here, and according to the chief executive of Volkswagen of America, the twin hatchbacks are all about giving consumers “affordable German fun.”

Auto reviews after the debut of the Golf, at the recent New York International Auto show, were quoted as stating that the seats in the new VWs “manage to look and feel better than seats in a $100,000 Corvette ZR1.”

The Long Beach Weekend

On: Mon, Apr 19, 2010 at 12:11PM | By: John Welch

The Long Beach Weekend test 1-1

This past weekend, April 17th and 18th, we had the most televised racing available to us so far this season. To say that I was "sedentary" this weekend would be like saying "gators eat Cocker Spaniels only if they really have to." A gator will devour a Cocker Spaniel at given any opportunity, and I have La-Z-Boy-sores. Similar to bed sores, made worse by constantly dusting the wounds with Dorito flavoring and spilled beer for a solid 36 hours. The odor was pungent when I finally separated myself from the soggy lounge-chair; I had become one with the dyed, seemingly donkey-derived leather.

These are the hardships that I suffer for you, brave readers, in an attempt to explain and describe the wonders of high-dollar racing to you and your contemporaries. It's hard work, but somebody has to do it. I suppose I can be that "somebody". Never have festering, gooey sores been so much fun to cultivate; never. Inside the post we cover the Long Beach Weekend (ALMS, Formula D, and the IRL*bleech*), and the F1 Chinese Grand Prix will get its own post. If you care, the NASCAR race in Texas was rained out . . . good thing I don't really care . . .

Web Review: New F1 Teams

On: Fri, Apr 2, 2010 at 12:13PM | By: John Welch

Web Review: New F1 Teams test 1-1

Is this post just a big excuse to mention that the US government might be bailing out USF1 to the tune of $100 million dollars? Yes, it mostly is. Our Great Red White and Blue hype has failed us, fellow 'Murrikens, but have faith, our Government may swoop in and save the day . . . oh, wait, yesterday was April 1st, wasn't it? Uhm, so this must be complete BS (an interesting jibe at American politics however), which describes the whole USF1-mess pretty accurately.

There are a few other new teams in Formula One this season, actual, functioning teams, with cars and drivers and everything! Virgin Racing, Lotus F1, and Hispania Racing Team have made it to both rounds of the 2010 F1 Championship. They have had a tenuous introduction to F1, these new teams, as evidenced by how many of them have actually finished a race -- Lotus has seen one car finish twice, and HRT's Karun Chandock was able to take the checkers last weekend in Melbourne. Virgin, arguably the prettiest of the new cars, has yet to finish a Grand Prix. A side-note, Prodrive (famous for campaigning Subaru's now defunct WRC team, as well as DB9.Rs and 550 GTs for Aston-Martin and Ferrari) has thrown its hat in the ring for 2011. Supposedly they had a car prepared for 2010, so their addition next season should be a successful one, assuming it even happens.

Within this post we review the new teams and their websites, if they have a website. Intrigue to follow . . .

Mobil 12 Hours of Sebring: The Race That Was

On: Mon, Mar 22, 2010 at 4:37PM | By: John Welch

Mobil 12 Hours of Sebring: The Race That Was test 1-1

OOOhhhh, man, how much do I love living in Florida? Not much; however, there are perks. For instance: Endurance Sports Car Racing!! Lots of it!! The 'Shopper was there for the Rolex 24, and we were also able to attend the Mobil 12 Hours of Sebring, the second most famous endurance race on the planet.

Held on the grounds of a WWII B-17 aerodrome, the Sebring race draws huge crowds to Highlands County every year. So, who was racing? Who won? How many sets of tah-tahs did I see? Uhm, go to Speedtv.com for all of that crap; what you will find here is a detailed description of all things visceral . . . engine sounds, tire squeals, smoke, dust, fire. The stats and figures you can find anywhere . . . actually feeling like you were there? That is what the 'Shopper does best. . . .

Fear And Loathing At the Rolex 24, Part 2

On: Fri, Feb 5, 2010 at 10:30AM | By: John Welch

Fear And Loathing At the Rolex 24, Part 2 test 1-1

Wet, thirsty, and brimming with manic excitement, I took stock of my current situation. The race (after thirty laps) had calmed into a steady ebb and flow that saw both the Daytona Protoype and GT lead change hands two or three times. It would be a while before the strongest competitors separated themselves from the field. The Ford contingent (Mike Shank Racing, Suntrust/Wayne Taylor Racing) were hanging close to the top four, but it was becoming apparent that the Ganassi BMW/Rileys and the two Porsche flat-six powered prototypes were the class of the field.

Th rain had lessened slightly, and the cold was begininng to set in. We decided it might be a good time to visit the dark green Subaru we had left in the parking lot two hours prior. After assessing what items other people were able to get into the grandstands (backpacks, entire 18 packs of Busch, massive camera equipment) we had a decent idea of what we needed to retrieve from the lowly Legacy. It was time to accessorize, strap loose beers, and a Canon D5 to our chests, and brave the coming night . . .

Fear And Loathing At the Rolex 24, Part 1

On: Wed, Feb 3, 2010 at 6:02PM | By: John Welch

Fear And Loathing At the Rolex 24, Part 1 test 1-1

Oh muthereffer, did I really name this article in the most cliched, laziest fashion possible? Well, sure I did, but I have my reasons. Namely, "Fear and Loathing at the Rolex 24" is the best possible way to describe the end of my January. It was insane. Period.

First, a little background. The 'Shopper Blog has been around only since September of 2009. Grand-Am (the sanctioning body that plans and executes the Rolex 24) is owned by NASCAR. Combine those two factors and you can imagine how far I got in my quest to acquire Press Accreditation. Not far. It took five calls to Daytona International Speedway just to get somebody to tell me "No!" More on the ridiculously incompetent DIS staff later . . .

So, no credentials available, I figured I would have to wait until Sebring to cut my "endurance race journalism" teeth. Enter: Jane. My better half . . .

Google Chat Transcript:

Jane: "What is that thing you wanted to go to this weekend? I can't remember what it's called"

JD: "The Rolex 24 at Daytona. SIGH."

Jane: "What exactly was 'The Rolex 24' again?"

JD: "A sports car race that runs from 3:30 in the afternoon Saturday until 3:30 Sunday."

Jane: "And you couldn't get tickets?"

JD: "Naw, stupid NASCAR doesn't believe that we are an actual 'media outlet', and the tickets I need are too expensive for the 'Shopper's budget . . ."


Jane: "Well, don't be depressed,"

JD (whining like a two year old): "How could I not be depressed?! I wanna goooooo"

Jane: "Because I just bought us tickets . . . "

About a nanosecond after reading that statement, my brain imploded. I couldn't believe it. This is easily the kewlest grrl on the planet, and she gets me! She really gets me! Sneaky effer that I am, I neglected to mention the lack of showers, electrical outlets, and general comfort that are associated with this undertaking. Thankfully, Jane is way tougher than I am and none of that stuff bothered her.

So, got tickets, got coffee, got cigarettes, got a good night's sleep, time to brave I-4, and witness the first serious Sports Car race of the year . . .


UPDATE: "PorscheStag" video added at the end of the post . . .