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Categories: Reports

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

On: Fri, Apr 9, 2010 at 12:49PM | By: John Welch


The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly test 1-1

Carlos Ghosn and Deiter Zetsche hopped into bed this week, and this unholy Franco-Hun alliance is already producing some interesting love children. Mercedes four cylinder in an Infiniti? Wouldn't that be a little, I don't know, difficult for Benz dealers to swallow?

GM is repaying tax-payer loans five years early, sure, but does that mean that they are on the road to profitability? Short answer, NO. Long answer, Double NO! The General has shed $4.3 billion dollars since bankruptcy, $1.9 billion in the last three months of 2009. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it's still a pin-hole. Profit in 2010? We shall see . . .

Audi has dominated sports car racing for the better part of a decade. With countless R8s and R10s, the storied marque has taken every major trophy more then once, from Le Mans to Laguna Seca. Their red and silver rocket-sleds have yet to win any beauty contests, however. With its racing introduction this weekend in the south of France, at the Paul Ricard Circuit 8 Hour, Audi continues a proud tradition of function over slightly hideous form. You be the judge, inside the post . . .


Chrysler To Roll Out New Grand Cherokee In July

On: Thu, Apr 1, 2010 at 9:58AM | By: John Welch


Chrysler To Roll Out New Grand Cherokee In July test 1-1


The Italians are not blind to the situation they have bought into at Chrysler. Things, in their romantic eye, at least, are starting to improve. To quote Sergio Marchionne, "I feel a lot more comfortable today than I did 12 months ago -- by far."

Arguably the most successful, and well received late model Chrysler vehicle, the Jeep Grand Cherokee will lead the march toward profitability for Chrysler (good thing I typed that last bit of hog-wash -- I could never say the words "Profitable Chrysler" with a straight face . . .). The new Grand Cherokee will go into production in May, and will land in showrooms towards the beginning of July.

How does this SUV stack up against the competition? If that were still a relevant question, I would answer it. SUVs are dead, folks, you can no longer enhance your manhood with tall tires and too much lane-choking width. Chicks don't dig it as much as they used to. Sorry.

Since the Grand Cherokee occupies a weird niche of its own, let's just explore its merits solely as a viable product, one that may or may not help Chrysler succeed long enough to re-badge Lancias and then fail all over again . ..


Mobil 12 Hours of Sebring: The Race That Was Pt. 3

On: Fri, Mar 26, 2010 at 10:04AM | By: John Welch


Mobil 12 Hours of Sebring: The Race That Was Pt. 3 test 1-1

Ahhh, the third and final installment of the AutoShopper Blog's Sebring coverage. My ass and legs are still a little sore, and my ears are still ringing, but I am happy as a clam to be bringing you another gallery and a another movie of the action. I am, of course, so thrilled, because now that I'm done gushing over Sebring, I get back to updating internet ads. Yaa-Hoo.

This post rounds out our coverage of Sebring; there are several videos and images to pore over. GT car-centric as I am I feel like we've been ignoring them. Notes and observations, inside yon post . . .


Mobil 12 Hours of Sebring: The Race That Was Pt. 2

On: Wed, Mar 24, 2010 at 11:25AM | By: John Welch


Mobil 12 Hours of Sebring: The Race That Was Pt. 2 test 1-1


Over-exertion can be a bad thing, but it can also be a very good thing. It's Tuesday morning, and my heels still hurt like crazy. From last Saturday. I did a lot of walking, a lot of standing . . . a lot of getting in other people's way . . . typical "suburban-dick" stuff.

This here post will fill you in on the hard numbers: who made it to the podium of the Mobil 12 Hours of Sebring. It also contains several videos, some from our intrepid 'pit' (shyeah, right) reporter, and some from media outlets who have slightly higher production values. It's an ALMS-Media-Overloadblitz-a-thon!! Enjoy!


 

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. . . .


Mobil 12 Hours of Sebring; Le Mans Protoype Hawtness

On: Thu, Mar 18, 2010 at 3:17PM | By: John Welch


Mobil 12 Hours of Sebring; Le Mans Protoype Hawtness test 1-1

The Sports Car season is about to get into full-swing, the Mobil 12 Hours of Sebring presented by Orange Juice or Hair Cream or Cell Phones or something . . . is this Saturday! Eff!

The 'Shopper will be there and we will have freaking bells on! Getting the tickets we wanted didn't turn out to be such a snap, but the plans are lain and the Subie is gassed up. Now, to pound enough Unisom to make me just effing sleep until Saturday morning, March 19th. My liver has got to hate my guts . . .

The cars are more varied and exciting than ever, especially in the GT2 class. The number and variety of factory-backed full-bore GT2 cars is just astounding: Porsche, Corvette, BMW, Ford, Jaguar, Ferrari, Panoz, the list goes on.

Also thoroughly exciting, the prototype classes are going through some major changes this season. In order to emulate the fantastic LMP1 vs. LMP2 battles that took place between Audi, Penske (Porsche RS Spyders), and Highcroft-Acura. During the 2007 and 2008 campaigns, the LMP2 cars were working so well (and the then-new Audi R-10 was driving like a panel-van) that the significantly underpowered Acuras and Porsches were able to steal several over-all victories from the mightier (re: more powerful) LMP1 juggernauts.

For 2010, the ALMS has combined the LMP1 and 2 classes, and added a third, 'spec' class- LMPC. By taking weight off of the LMP1 cars, and taking the restrictors off (well, sort of; made the openings larger) the engines of the LMP2 cars, the playing field has been leveled between the two classes- essentially creating one mega-classification. The LMP2s are faster, but now the LMP1s can keep up with them in the corners . . . it's going to be very interesting . . .


The Economic Collapse Claims Another Victim: Bye Bye, Ralliart

On: Fri, Mar 12, 2010 at 1:38PM | By: John Welch


The Economic Collapse Claims Another Victim: Bye Bye, Ralliart  test 1-1

Though relatively unknown until Gran Turismo changed all of our misconceptions of foreign car markets, Ralliart has been providing parts to Mitsubishi for over 25 years. The company has also lent its name to several Rally-inspired Mitsus, the most recognizable (for us 'Murrhikens, anyhow) being the Lancer Ralliart.

Mitsubishi doesn't seem all that worried, as now they don't have to pay royalties on a name that is already synonymous with their vehicles. The demise of Ralliart may just be the first in a wave of Jap-o-Tuner deaths, as the Japanese tuning industry has nose-dived in the last two years. The world woke up and realized that nobody wants a 400 horsepower Scion xB. Or Hummers with stoopid rims and three tons worth of stereo equipment. Oh, wait, that last abortion is a uniquely American disaster, sorry, Japan. Didn't mean to reflect my self-loathing on you guys . . . make a race car out of that CR-Z, fellahs, don't mind me . . .


Road Safety Worldwide

On: Fri, Mar 12, 2010 at 12:38PM | By: Geoff Ciesla


Road Traffic Accidents test 2

Next Generation Healthcare has an infographic depicting the number of traffic accidents around the globe from the Global Status Report by WHO this year. While infograghics are interesting, and often times informative, there seem to be some flaws with this graphic. The colors in this chart are poor. It would appear to some that the colors distinguish different territories and continents. Even though Greenland has been politically associated with Europe, it is physiographically a part of the continent of North America. As is the same with Europe and Russia, for Russia is not a part of Europe. In addition, most countries in Europe are not low income countries.

It must be coincidence that Africa and North America had exactly 234,768 vehicle- related fatalities.


Toyota Attempting To Block Executive Testimony

On: Wed, Mar 10, 2010 at 11:48AM | By: John Welch


Toyota Attempting To Block Executive Testimony test 1-1

LLCoolT! The Lawyers Love Cool Toyota! Toyota has dug such a bottomless pit for themselves, that even instances where it is hard to believe that the Toyota vehicle caused a death, and not driver error, acquire nasty headlines like "Toyota Attempting To Block Executive Testimony!!!" I mean, I'm sorry, Toyota; I tend to side with you on this one, but that is the headline because that is what's happening.

So, just the facts, Friday. A 78-year-old woman, Guadalupe Alberto, was driving a 2005 Toyota Camry when it accelerated out of control, veering towards and smashing into an oak tree, killing Mrs. Alberto instantly. This happened in Flint, Michigan in April of 2008. The family is attempting to take Toyota to the cleaners.

Uhm, well, no offense, but the elderly may have mistaken a gas pedal for a brake pedal once or twice over the course of American history. That being said, Tough Rocks, Toyota! You sold cars that thrash, kill, and maim, youse got's dis come'n!


Ganassi Takes The Miami Grand Prix At Homestead

On: Tue, Mar 9, 2010 at 1:57PM | By: John Welch


Grand Prix of Miami test 2


Germany had a small civil war on the track at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday. Scott Pruett was able to hold off David Donohue by .255 seconds- Pruett, behind the wheel of a BMW-powered Riley, and Donohue piloting a Porsche-powered Riley.

"This is tough competition. You never know what's going to happen until the checkered flag falls. It was pretty exciting in my seat, that's for sure. I sure didn't want to see that last caution, but I was happy for the fans," Pruett said after scoring his 23rd Rolex Series overall victory.

The caution he speaks of dissolved a healthy lead Pruett had put together, bringing the #59 Brumos Porsche right up to Pruett's wing. Pruett managed to weave through GT traffic in the infield on the final lap and maintained the lead through the superspeedway banking. Donohue was able to pull up to the back of Pruett several times in the closing laps, but was unable to get by. Alex Gurney finished third in the #99 Gainsco-Riley Chevrolet. Overall, another awesome race conducted under the banner of "Grand-Am"!


The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly: Geneva Auto Showzen, Pt.1

On: Fri, Mar 5, 2010 at 12:46PM | By: John Welch


Porsche 918 Sports-Hybrid test 2

Willya stop it with the Hybrids already?! The auto industry has been pumping out Hybrid vehicle after Hybrid vehicle for the past few months, and it is making Canada and me sick to our stomachs. These things aren't viable, we all know that; none of them will be on the road by 2018, so willya just effing quit it already? Has anyone heard of the Nissan Leaf? Or Fisker Karma? Or the Honda FCX?

While I am absolutely sick of Hybrids, and the Geneva Auto Show was absolutely rife with them, there were some interesting concepts displayed in the halls of the Geneva Palexpo. Audi debuted an A1 Hybrid, whose gas-o-propulsions arrive via a single-rotor Wankel. Interesting.

So, there were some hits and some misses. You may not agree, but this is what I think are the most significant Belles and Duds of the 2010 Geneva Motor Show . . .