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Categories: Reports

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 . . .


Toyota Recall Companion Pt. 3: What Akio Had To Say

On: Thu, Feb 25, 2010 at 2:51PM | By: John Welch


Toyota Recall Companion Pt. 3: What Akio Had To Say test 1-1

Mark McGwire was a hell of a baseball player. On the field, he was unstoppable. In court, not so much. Same with Roger Clemens. Testifying just wasn't their bag. How about Akio Toyoda? How did he fare against the awkward jabs and sideways questions presented to him on Capitol Hill?

Enter the post, and decide for yourself . . .


Toyota Recall Companion Pt. 2: The Mighty List

On: Wed, Feb 24, 2010 at 4:30PM | By: John Welch


Recalled Avalon test 2


Today Akio Toyoda is in Washington D.C., getting lambasted by the board of GM, err, the US government. We will have a complete report on what was said under the hot lights of the Capitol building, but for the moment we want to make sure that we all know exactly what Toyota vehicles might be disastrously unsafe to drive. The Mighty List, located inside yon post . ..


Toyota Recall Companion Pt. 1: Is Your Camry Trying To Eat You?

On: Sat, Feb 20, 2010 at 10:19AM | By: John Welch


Toyota Recall Companion Pt. 1: Is Your Camry Trying To Eat You? test 1-1

Wow, Toyota, people say that we Americans learned a lot from you, but it appears that you have also taken a few lessons from us. Like the joy that can be gained from abject greed. Or how easily our government can be manipulated for the sake of pure evil. What's the death toll up to again? 30 some-odd Americans?

We will lay out everything there is to know about the Toyota recall over the course of these posts, starting with the newest updates from Toyota.


 

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly: F1 Test-Days Edition

On: Fri, Feb 19, 2010 at 3:04PM | By: John Welch


The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly: F1 Test-Days Edition test 1-1

Re-fueling ban appears to have leveled the competition;

USF1 is in dire straits;

and Chad Hurley is a ship-jumpin' punk and a half . . .


New Shelby Cobra Sheds Iron Block Engine

On: Thu, Feb 11, 2010 at 11:38AM | By: John Welch


New Shelby Cobra Sheds Iron Block Engine test 1-1

The Shelby GT500 has been interesting, if not odd and misconceived, since its debut in 2007. Five hundred horsepower, unique body cladding, and a mean-ass exhaust note set this car apart from run of the mill Mustangs. But there were problems. Ford has always told anyone who will listen that they saddle the Retro-Stang with a solid rear axle in the name of satisfying drag-racers. Okay, that's complete BS, but they were able to make this axle work so well it can almost be overlooked.

That sort of mercy doesn't get extended to the Shelby's iron-block 5.4 liter V8. An iron block? Really? Other automakers are able to churn out much more then 500 horsepower from aluminum blocks, the Gen three Chevy small-block comes to mind. Why would Ford go with an iron block at a time when iron was being phased out of every engine, even the trucks that this re-badged Triton came from. To save a few pennies? Really?

So, the automotive press bitched and moaned. Regardless, Ford still sold a respectable number of Shelbys. The iron block wasn't going to sink this vessel as the pundits so vehemently thought it would. Which was fine, until Ford realized that it could eliminate the Gas Guzzler Tax with better economy and less weight. And that is exactly what Ford dun did: tossed the iron in favor of aluminum, saving 120 pounds and a little MPG at the same time . . .


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 . . ."

JD: "<<--- DEPRESSED"

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 . . .


The Rolex 24 At Daytona: The 'Shopper Preview

On: Mon, Feb 1, 2010 at 3:15PM | By: John Welch


The Rolex 24 At Daytona: The 'Shopper Preview test 1-1


Twenty four hours is a long time to be driving a car, at part throttle. Wide open throttle, for nearly half a minute, and then brakes, hard, and then full left-hand lock and then full right-hand lock and then full throttle again, three times a lap, for twenty four hours; why, that is just plain stupid.

Or "awesomelybadass", depending how you look at it. The 'Shopper tends to fall into the latter category. If you do too, then maybe you would like to know what we were up to this weekend . . .


F1 2010, Ferrari, And McLaren Launch 2010 Cars First

On: Fri, Jan 29, 2010 at 4:12PM | By: John Welch


Sloppy Photoshop Visual Representation Of Historic Corporate ShowDown. test 2

Aww geez, JD's Christmas wasn't in December. No, JD gets most excited (gnashing teeth, sweating bullets-excited,) right around the middle of March. The boiling point will be reached on March 12th, 2010: first day of practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix. The Bahrain GP grid will contain a renewed, Maylasian-flavored Lotus, Richard Branson and John Booth's Virgin/Manor Racing garage-project, Adrian Campos-GP2 owner turned F1 owner, and (covered exhaustively by the 'Shopper Blog) the first American-manufactured F1 car since Dan Gurney's Eagles pounded European pavement in the late Sixties.

As of Friday, January 29th two teams have held public launches of their 2010 contenders; not surprisingly, Ferrari and McLaren are the first out of the gates. Venture inside yon post for all of the angular, massive winged car-stag . . .


Forward Thinking From Honda

On: Thu, Jan 28, 2010 at 5:24PM | By: Clay Ritchings


Hydrogen refill station test 2

Honda has taken steps forward in the fuel cell world by unveiling the next generation in the hydrogen refill station. Utilizing solar power and designed as a single, integrated unit to fit in the home garage, the station produces enough hydrogen in an eight-hour overnight fill to power a fuel cell electric vehicle for its typical daily commute. The unit was designed to complement a public network of fast-fill hydrogen stations by refilling overnight, letting owners take advantage of less expensive off-peak electrical power and remove the requirement of hydrogen storage. In other words the unit will use solar during the day and run off the power grid at night. . . Bravo!