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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry



Categories: Good, Bad & Ugly

Mecum Brought The Weird And Wacky To Its Dallas Sale, Too

On: Wed, Oct 12, 2011 at 2:37PM | By: Andrew W Davis


Photoillustration by author test 2

Life at a modern car auction like Mecum’s October 6-8 Dallas sale doesn’t revolve around ’69 Camaros and 1950s fin-tails alone. In fact, in order to fill out every slot on every planned sales day, the large majority of lots are actually filled with the mildly-collectible, the odd-but-mundane and the lightly-used/late-model “just a” cars.

But hidden among the 80 Camaros and 95 Mustangs and the bazillion other “usual” lots are the truly unique, interesting and just plain weird. They are what my grandfather would call a “hammer without a nail,” but if you have a particularly-bizarre itch that needed scratching—say for the “fastest F450 in the world”—then these might be right up your alley.

So join me for a trip through the seven wackiest lots—actually eight, but two were linked—Mecum had on offer, from a $12,500 Honda to a $333,000 Camaro. They may not be your cup of tea to own, but you can’t say that they’re not “interesting” in their own way(s)…


Poop Powered Bike, Never Leave The Throne Again

On: Fri, Oct 7, 2011 at 2:30PM | By: Chris Salamone


TOTO Neo test 2

As Japanese toilets become increasingly bacteria free, efficient, and aesthetically pleasing, one toilet manufacturer seeks to produce the ultimate human waste receptacle. TOTO, Japan’s largest toilet maker, aims to halve their CO2 emissions in bathrooms by 2017. In support of that, the company issued the TOTO Green Challenge which features a 600-mile cross-country tour via a toilet-powered motorcycle nicknamed Neo. By toilet-powered, we mean BioGas. And by BioGas, we mean feces.

Neo is a motorcycle powered completely by human excrement. The vehicle finds fuel in noxious fumes converted from the driver’s recently deployed bombs—giving new meaning to our previous notions of bathroom availability. Indeed, provided the driver has absolutely no shame, she can literally go whenever and wherever she wants. In this case, our hypothetical driver is female simply because TOTO chose a female to drive their waste harvester across Japan! Let’s hope that jumpsuit has a rear hatch.


Nissan Juke R: GT-R-Inspired Small Crossover

On: Thu, Oct 6, 2011 at 12:31PM | By: Chris Weiss


Nissan Juke R: GT-R-Inspired Small Crossover test 2

The worst news we've heard today: Nissan built a hardcore, sport version of the awkward Juke crossover. The best news we've heard today: "the car is not for production." The Juke R is merely a concept that Nissan designed to test the public reaction to a sported-out Juke.

While the sporty body kit and rear spoiler make the Juke look way more odd (something we didn't necessarily believe was possible), the one thing we can't argue with is the massive power upgrade. The Juke R trades its 188-hp 1.6-liter four-cylinder for a 530-hp twin-turbo V-6 popped out from under the hood of the GT-R. I'm not sure if a crossover ever really needed Godzilla power, but it sure is a beefy upgrade.


Another WTF Moment Brought To You By Dartz

On: Tue, Oct 4, 2011 at 9:20AM | By: Chris Weiss


Another WTF Moment Brought To You By Dartz test 2

Russian auto company Dartz seems to be in business for no other reason than to make a scene. Sometimes it's kind of good, like when they launch a futuristic, 2000-hp armored car, and sometimes it’s bad, like when the company suffers big fallout over the use of unnecessary materials like whale penis leather. Either way, Dartz just keeps making us scratch our heads in bewilderment.

In teasing its next debut, Dartz has us scratching our heads once again.


 

Now Men Can Smell Like Mercedes (But Not In That Good New-Car Way)

On: Thu, Sep 29, 2011 at 1:03PM | By: Andrew W Davis


Mercedes-Benz Perfume for men test 2

From the folks that bring you custom helicopters, branded credit cards, the ridiculous smart transport module, and the occasional car, now comes what every rich, German-car-loving guy—and it is for guys—has been waiting for: Mercedes-Benz Perfume.

Hey! I know what you’re thinking, but just because it says “perfume” doesn’t mean it’s only for the ladies. And the proof is in Mercedes’ own spiel: “Innovative and unique, it is the first men's fragrance from Mercedes-Benz and it combines woody notes with floral freshness.”

So… yes. It’s perfume and it’s floral. But seeing as how the bottle design is “masculine, modern and elegant,” it HAS to be manly, right? Right!


Tata Nano Loves Gooold

On: Wed, Sep 21, 2011 at 4:29PM | By: Chris Salamone


Gold Tata Nano test 2

Easily one of the least expensive cars on planet Earth, the Tata Nano has become the object of the people—a symbol of accessibility, mobility, unreliability, and practicality for the masses. While native Indian models start around $2,500 and the much anticipated North American model is expected to cost about $7,000, the Tata family has developed another price point worthy of note. Except this time only one man is capable of pulling off such an exceptionally appointed automobile, and he is from Holland… not North America or India. This latest Tata Nano is not a production vehicle, and couldn’t possibly be reproduced on a mass scale. That’s because it cost $4.6 million to create.

Yes, a company known for incredible value has developed a car completely decked out in gold, silver, and precious gems. Why, you ask? Unfortunately, this is not for a fourth installment of the funniest movie trilogy of all time, Austin Powers. Instead the Tata family is trying to execute a two-player sway publicity stunt intended to promote enthusiasm for the randomly combustible Nano and in celebration of the 5,000-year anniversary for their jewelry company in India. That’s quite a milestone, made more important by the Tata family’s ownership of the Gold Plus jewelry company.


Please GM, Not Another Malibu SS!

On: Mon, Aug 29, 2011 at 9:22AM | By: Lou Ruggieri


Please GM, Not Another Malibu SS! test 2

There is good news and bad news when it comes to the Chevy Malibu and the year 2013. The good news is easy—compared to the outgoing 2012 model, the '13 variant will have much more fit and finish. More shoulder and hip room (up by nearly 3 inches), and adds more than three cubic feet of interior space. And although the 4.5-inches lost in wheelbase may seem like a negative, it is actually addition by subtraction because the new Epsilon II platform is home to a newer, much sportier nigh Bimmer-like look.

If the outgoing Malibu was the average cubicle worker, then the new Malibu is the boss in his own office who has more responsibilities, but shows up wearing jeans and sneakers on a Tuesday morning. The '13 Malibu conveys a sense of casual competency we haven't seen from GM in an extremely long time, and actually looks quite a bit like an Americanized Acura TSX from certain angles. In short, the new Malibu actually looks like it can compete on a global level with cars like the Hyundai Sonata, Honda Accord, and even the performance oriented Nissan Maxima. 

However, there is a downside to this very hopeful story. Despite the new car's very sporty motif, there are rumors that Chevy is debating on bringing back the SS badge to the Malibu. Now, for those of you who may have blocked out the awful image of the last Malibu to wear the SS badge, it was the very ill-fated Malibu Maxx SS, a very lackluster, automatic, station wagon. A true SuperSport, if there ever was one. And, though the one good thing that came out of that travesty was that GM put forth a decree that only legitimate performance cars will wear the venerable double 'S' badge from that point forward. 

Well, we at Autoshopper are here to hold GM to its word. Please, GM, no more Malibu SS models. Please! Look, the new Malibu is a fine looking car, it really is, and not just in comparing it to its predecessors either. The '13 Malibu really looks like it could help GM take back some of that all-important family sedan market that has been dominated by the Japanese carmakers for so long. But that being said, it is still just that—a family sedan.


Worlds Collide: Audi Planning A Pickup Truck?

On: Tue, Aug 23, 2011 at 10:59AM | By: Chris Weiss


Worlds Collide: Audi Planning A Pickup Truck? test 1-1

Pickup trucks. Luxury cars. These are two terms that don't tend to intertwine, save perhaps for auto dealership inventory sheets. There's really nothing luxurious about hard-driving, utilitarian haulers designed to truck gear, dirt and manure around the work site. Nor should there be.

But, lately, the terms have been appearing together every so often. BMW released its own bedded four-wheeler, though it revealed that it was meant only as an April Fool's prank. This week brings some photographic confirmation of another German luxo-ute: It's an Audi-branded pickup and it may be for real.


Mecum Des Moines: Home Of Great Original-Condition Oddities

On: Tue, Jul 5, 2011 at 1:16PM | By: Andrew W Davis


1981 Zimmer Golden Spirit automatic [Lot F114] test 2

It is a car collector’s most fervent wish that they find the vehicle they've been seeking in as-new, one-owner, low-mileage and perfectly-running and -driving condition. But as most cars that are desirable NOW were the same THEN—or were built for dangerous duties like racing—that almost never happens. And while you can restore a valuable car to better-than-new condition, the very fact that so many ARE restored has flipped the equation, making those in original condition the rarer of the two.

But for every multimillion-dollar original relic discovered there are thousands upon thousands of cars that nobody wants—apart from the weirdos that fastidiously maintained them—that feature all the buzzwords I mentioned up top, despite the fact that there's no "popular" reason for their preservation.

I found four such cars—OK, three cars and a truck-thingie—on-deck for Mecum Auctions’ July 15-16 Des Moines sale. They are proof of the adage that something's being rare does not make it desirable, nor does a desirable thing have to be rare. Even so, these vehicles are among the best examples of their kind you’ll find, so maybe it's best to think of this as your opportunity to buy some vehicles you never knew you needed…


They're At It Again: Forbes Misses Mark In Naming

On: Wed, Jun 22, 2011 at 5:40PM | By: Andrew W Davis


Photoillustration by author test 2

Forbes—a publication you’d think would have better things to do—has come out with another automotive character-assassination list, this time directed at “Used Cars to Avoid.”

Their list—based on information they say they’ve gathered from a variety of sources, including “TrueCar.com” and “J.D. Power & Associates”—basically names 2008-model-year vehicles they say you should stay away from, including: Chevrolet Aveo & Colorado [and sister pickup GMC Canyon]; Dodge Avenger, Charger & Magnum; Jeep Liberty & Wrangler; Land Rover Range Rover Sport; Mitsubishi Eclipse & Lancer; and Suzuki XL7.

Now I’m going to tell you why they got it wrong.


1990 Honda Accord Nears Million Mile Mark

On: Sat, Jun 18, 2011 at 10:45AM | By: Chris Salamone


1990 Honda Accord Nears Million Mile Mark  test 2

A man from Norway, Maine (yes, such a place-name exists and the pictures demonstrate why) is taking his 1990 Honda Accord above and beyond any insignificant six digit limit speculatively put on the odometer. Joe LoCicero intends to break the 1-million mark by September 2011. Seeing Joe’s initiative, Honda has taken this opportunity to put out a press release showcasing the reliability of Honda automobiles. As we say in the schoolyard, or the occasional jailhouse, the proof is in the pudding.

Since he purchased the vehicle in 1996, Joe has racked up an average of 62,500 miles a year. Yes, that’s nearly 5 times greater than most people. Around the 300,000 mile mark on his odometer, Joe began taking detailed records of his maintenance and vehicle achievements—including 661 photos of his odometer. Yikes.