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And Car Reviews

Buick Continuing To Market To Youth With NCAA Deal

On: Wed, Mar 16, 2011 at 11:31AM | By: Tim Healey

Buick Regal test 2

This is not your father's Buick marketing deal. As part of a continuing effort to appeal to younger buyers, Buick has signed a three-year deal with the NCAA to advertise during NCAA events, such as the men's basketball tournament, which begins tonight.

Buick's sponsorship will include commercials for its LaCrosse and Regal sedans.

Buick is aiming for the NCAA audience because the company's research indicates that the tournament audience is made up of educated folks with money; but there's another potential benefit for the brand: The younger audience might help shift Buick's average buyer age lower.

Fast Cars Aren't Always Your Friend: McLaren Chief Loses License

On: Wed, Mar 16, 2011 at 9:34AM | By: Chris Weiss

Fast Cars Aren't Always Your Friend: McLaren Chief Loses License test 1-1

When you lead a company with a history of building some of the fastest, most exotic supercars in the world, there's a pretty strong chance that you like to drive fast. But when you're not on a testing track, you should probably temper the need for speed just enough to keep your driving privileges. Otherwise, you'll end up like 63-year-old McLaren CEO Ron Dennis, who recently lost his U.K. driving privileges after pleading guilty of running a red light.

Spied At The Ring: BMW M3 Pickup, Huh?

On: Wed, Mar 16, 2011 at 8:57AM | By: Chris Salamone

BMW M3 Pickup test 2

If you haven’t already collapsed from shock, please sit down. These images may cause confusion. This seemingly El Camino-esque BMW was spotted kicking off the new testing season at Germany’s Nurburgring. For those not in the know, Nurburgring, aka ‘The Ring’, is nearly 18 miles in length and wraps around 73 turns. The Ring is the proving ground for the world’s greatest super cars, including the Porsche GT2 and, in this instance, a pickup version of some potentially future BMW M3 model. Information remains scarce, but hopefully updates are to come.

Lamborghini Aventador To Have Similar Production Run As Murcielago

On: Mon, Mar 14, 2011 at 6:00PM | By: Chris Weiss

Lamborghini Aventador test 2

In case you were wondering just how many $380,000 Aventador LP700-4 models Lamborghini plans to build, the answer—at least at the moment—is around 4,000, putting the planned production run right in line with the Aventador's predecessor. According to Lamborghini numbers, 4,099 Murcielago models were built before the flagship was retired last year. Murcielago production began in 2001 and ran for nearly a decade, winding down in May of 2010.

Lamborghini sources told Autocar that the molds that are used to craft the carbon fiber tub for the Aventador are good for 500 uses each. And the magazine discovered that Lamborghini has budgeted for eight molds. With a little, quick math, it's easy to deduct that Lamborghini is planning on a production run comparable to that of the Murcielago.


Japanese Automakers Shutdown To Deal With Earthquake

On: Mon, Mar 14, 2011 at 5:15PM | By: Tim Healey

Japanese Automakers Shutdown test 2

Due to complications from the aftermath of the severe earthquake that hit Japan last weekend, the seven largest Japanese automakers are shutting down for a few days.

There are several reasons for the shutdowns. The first centers around the human toll—automakers are giving their employees a chance to track down missing loved ones while regrouping with injured survivors.

There are also business concerns, as well. The quake has disrupted supply lines, and some suppliers who are based in the quake zone have been unreachable. Export shipments might be disrupted, as well, due to tsunamis that devastated ports after the quake.

Redesigned FT-86 II Addresses Drivers' Complaints

On: Mon, Mar 14, 2011 at 4:52PM | By: Chris Weiss

FT-86 II test 2

Earlier this month in Geneva, we saw what Toyota refers to as the "clearest indication yet as to the final design of Toyota's next sports car," a second iteration of the FT-86 sports coupe developed with the help of Subaru. While it was quite clear that the FT-86 II had gotten some significant modifications from the original FT-86, a concept launched a year and a half ago at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show, it wasn't exactly clear why those design changes were instituted.

In a conversation with Autocar, Toyota design manager Akihiro Nagaya explained that the changes were made to improve driving dynamics. They were a direct result of driver feedback.

Another New Lamborghini: Gallardo Tricolore

On: Mon, Mar 14, 2011 at 4:20PM | By: Chris Weiss

Lamborghini Gallardo Tricolore test 2

The Lamborghini Gallardo is in a rather unenviable position. Not only is it the forgotten older brother of the brand-new Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4, but despite being older, it's still the baby brother in the Lamborghini hierachy. It's less powerful, less technologically advanced, less performance-oriented, less flashy, and just all around less attractive than the more exciting Aventador.

This is a new problem for the Gallardo. It's always been the 'baby Lambo', but when it was introduced in 2003, at least it was the newest, freshest car in Lamborghini's line. It's more modest price led it to become the most successful Lamborghini of all time, so it doesn't have much to prove, but it's still getting majorly overshadowed by the Aventador.

So Lamborghini has done what any good supercar maker would do: built a special edition Gallardo (likely a number of special edition Gallardos, but there's just the one for now) to restoke interest in its older model. And it hasn't wasted any time: the Gallardo Tricolore has been announced ahead of its official debut later this week.

Classic Car Cultist: VW Type 181

On: Mon, Mar 14, 2011 at 12:40PM | By: Chris Salamone

1974 Thing test 2

Produced by Volkswagen from 1969 to 1983, the Type 181 “Kurierwagen” remains a modern day cult classic throughout the world. This lightweight utilitarian vehicle traces its roots from the Type 1 Beetle and later the World War II Kübelwagen. Depending on location, the vehicle was also known as the Trekker in the UK, the Thing in the US, and the Safari in Mexico. Just looking at the 181, it’s easy to see what separates this automobile from the rest of the pack.

The 181’s popularity is most likely a direct result of the car’s zany styling and aesthetics. Exterior characteristics include angular edges, removable doors and windows, and a folding windshield. The interior follows a similar spirit with flat bench seats and painted steel door panels. With the right mix of a totally unique look and humorous drive feel roaring around with 55 horsepower, the 181 is an all in all perfect car to collect a cult-like following.

Mini Rocketman Concept to Influence Future Models

On: Mon, Mar 14, 2011 at 9:48AM | By: Chris Weiss

Mini Rocketman Concept test 2

Don't expect to see the Union Jack-adorned roof on the road, but Mini is planning on siphoning some of the construction and technological elements of its recent Rocketman concept into its production line. The return to small previewed by the Rocketman concept will be a theme that appears in new production models over the next several years.

The design language of the Rocketman is expected to influence new coupe and convertible models that will debut in 2013.

VW Leaning Toward Bulli Microbus Production

On: Sat, Mar 12, 2011 at 11:20AM | By: Chris Weiss

VW Leaning Toward Bulli Microbus Production  test 1-1

In 2001, Volkswagen presented the Microbus concept, which it had planned to bring to production at the time. Unfortunately, production plans were scrapped earlier in the decade and it took years before VW gave it a second try with the Bulli concept, released earlier this month at the Geneva Motor Show. Also unfortunate, Volkswagen's latest Microbus concept steps away from the classic design in resituating the engine to the front, a move that changes not only the driving dynamics, but also the look of the bus. Still, a Bulli is better than no bus at all.

And it looks like VW will inject some flavor into the van market. According to media reports, the German automaker is planning to bring the Bulli to market.

Rolling Kias Return to Sender

On: Sat, Mar 12, 2011 at 9:59AM | By: Chris Salamone

2007 Kia Optima test 2

If you own a Kia Optima, use the parking brake and check the mailbox regularly this month. Drivers will be notified via post of a recall relating to the vehicle’s transmission shifter cable which, if left unrepaired, could cause the disobedient cars to roll away while in park. Kia Motors is recalling more than 70,000 automatic transmission Optimas from model years 2006 to 2008 which were actually built from September 29th, 2005 to June 13th, 2007.

In Kia’s documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on March 3rd, the automaker said that in some of the cars a transmission shifter cable was installed incorrectly and could potentially become detached from the shifter. If that happens, and the cable comes off, the car would remain in the last gear it was used in. Thus, drivers who just returned from a jaunt to the Hamptons might park their Kia only to lose control of their vehicle in a HAL - 2001: A Space Odyssey-type of way…watch out for the prerecorded message from Mission Control which reveals the true reasons for Kia’s faulty transmission cable installation.