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The Lake Mirror Classic Auto Festival, 2010

On: Sun, Oct 17, 2010 at 1:59PM | By: John Welch

The Lake Mirror Classic Auto Festival, 2010 test 1-1

Yesterday's Lake Mirror Auto Festival was a great success. 600 pristine vehicles from all over the world converged on Lake Mirror and downtown Lakeland to celebrate all things automotive. Here we have a 20-shot gallery of the proceedings, featuring interiors, tailights, exhaust pipes, wheels, owners, pontential owners, palm trees, bad angle sunlight, canvas chairs, traffic cones, very shiny body panels, a red Delorean, and, of course, hood ornaments.

We had cameras everywhere; tomorrow's posts will cover everything from Honorary Chairperson Lyn St. James to this morning's Road Tour and Luncheon. The Road Tour participants ranged from Ferraris to Sunbeams to Merc SLs—it was interesting to see many of the older vehicles from the show not only moving under their own power but, in some cases, displaying said power. Posts with images from Drew's camera and others will appear all week; be sure to keep the AutoShopperBlog fresh in your browser's History . . .

Toyota Acceleration Investigation Findings Will Be Released In Late Fall

On: Sun, Oct 17, 2010 at 11:29AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

 Toyota Acceleration Investigation Findings Will Be Released In Late Fall  test 1-1

Federal Safety regulators expect to meet the deadline set for the investigation of recalled Toyota vehicles with unintended acceleration by late fall of this year. Toyota vehicles are being examined for problems with electronic systems and throttles to find out if defects can be linked to Toyota cars that were reported to speed out of control.

According to senior safety investigator Richard Boyd: "We're working hard to get this to you." Boyd, acting director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) defect investigations unit told the chair of a the Acadamy of Science panel,  "It will be sooner rather than later."

Ford to Sell Mazda?

On: Sun, Oct 17, 2010 at 11:28AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Mazda Shinari Concept test 2

Ford Motor Company is the top stake holder in Mazda Corporation with 11% ownership. Nikkei Business Daily reported that the company plans to reduce its majority stake in Mazda Motor corporation selling all but 3% of its interest to other companies that have business associations with Mazda.

Ford called the report “speculation” in a statement.  "Ford's ownership stake in Mazda remains unchanged," the statement said. "Ford continues to have a close strategic relationship with Mazda and we cooperate in areas of mutual benefit. We have no further comment on the speculation." The business daily states that Mazda asked Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and other firms to buy shares from Ford. Ford’s shares amounted to195 million Mazda shares, worth around 42 billion yen ($515.6 million), as of today, the Nikkei said.

The Lake Mirror Classic Auto Festival, 2010

On: Sat, Oct 16, 2010 at 1:17PM | By: John Welch

The Lake Mirror Classic Auto Festival, 2010 test 1-1

I felt pretty lucky this morning. Not because I was up at dawn, I'm never happy about that. I was feeling lucky because I live in downtown Lakeland, FL. Every October, this area comes alive with collectible cars. Pre-war, Post-war, 60s muscle, vintage hot rods, modern supercars . . . priceless Cadillacs, Buicks, Hudsons, Fords, Chevrolets, Porsches, Ferraris . . . Corvettes, Mustangs, Vipers, and DMC-12s. A third of a mile from my front door all of these cars, motorcycles, and  assorted exotica bekoned. 6:30 wasn't so bad, for once.

I filled the memory card, stuffing it to the gills with as much polished sheetmetal as I possibly could. In the interest of whetting your appetite for eye-candy, this post contains a small sample of the first few cars to arrive at the Lake Mirror Classic. Beginning with opening ceremonies and a outdoor concert last night, the Classic will continue today and end tomorrow with a cruise through the historic boulevards of central Lakeland. Enjoy these early morning images and check back all weekend for more coverage of Lakeland's crown jewel, the Lake Mirror Classic.


BMW and Porsche Plan New CUVs

On: Fri, Oct 15, 2010 at 5:04PM | By: Chris Weiss

BMW and Porsche Plan New CUVs test 1-1

It seems that BMW and Porsche are set to lock horns in another segment: the high-end CUV segment. Reports are indicating that both German automakers have concept CUVs planned for 2011 that will foreshadow production models. BMW will show an X4 concept, a sportier crossover model to complement the X3, and Porsche will show the Cajun, a smaller, nimbler Cayenne.

Speculated production for the X4 indicates a start-up somewhere between 2013 and 2014. The X4 is reportedly being designed specifically with U.S. customers in mind. It will share much of the powertrain and platform of the  X3, but BMW will aim to make the new model sportier in terms of styling. It will be a four-seater with four- and six-cylinder engine options upon launch. Shifting will be offered in six-speed manual, seven-speed dual-clutch and eight-speed automatic flavors. After the X4 launches, BMW will also launch a high-performance M version with a twin-turbo inline six and a seven-speed DCT dual-clutch transmission.

Over in Stuttgart, meanwhile, Porsche is currently developing the Cajun with a spring of 2012 production window in mind. Sure to ruffle a few feathers of Porsche traditionalists that despise models like the Cayenne and Panamera, the Cajun will basically be a smaller Cayenne. It will be based on the platform of the Audi Q5 and may get two doors instead of four to help differentiate it from both the Q5 and the Cayenne. The top trim level will be offered with a twin-turbo six cylinder. The hybrid powertrain from the Q5 is being considered as another option.

Buick Tackles The World's Toughest [Virtual] Roads

On: Fri, Oct 15, 2010 at 4:00PM | By: Chris Weiss

Buick Tackles The World's Toughest [Virtual] Roads  test 1-1

There seems to be a lot of attention lately to the world's scariest, most challenging roads—well deserved attention, if I might add; these roads are fascinating. The History Channel recently pulled its grizzled, tried-and-true ice road truckers (plus one pretty cute chick) off the ice to tackle some of these roads in a new series called IRT Deadliest Roads. The truckers navigate some of the most dangerous, unforgiving roads in the Indian Himalayas. It's terrifying but quite compelling television.

Well, Buick has announced that it's getting in on the deadly road craze. It has created a 3D simulator that allows it to recreate some of the world's roughest, most difficult roads for vehicle testing. So when you buy a Buick in the future, you'll know that it can not only stand up to your local dirt road, but can take on some of the world's worst roadways.

Enterprise Rent-a-Car Continues to Get Greener With Coda Electrics

On: Fri, Oct 15, 2010 at 3:53PM | By: Chris Weiss

Enterprise Rent-a-Car Continues to Get Greener With Coda Electrics test 1-1

The Coda electric car might not be as well-publicized or anticipated as the Nissan Leaf, but the car will appear alongside the Leaf at Enterprise rental outlets in select states. In a continued effort to distinguish itself as a more eco-friendly car rental operation, and to give its customers access to new EVs, Enterprise announced that it will be adding a fleet of 100 Codas by next year.

Enterprise has not made a final determination as to what markets will get the 100 Coda EVs. Coda is set to launch its vehicles in California sometime next year, and Enterprise plans to make California a market for Coda rentals. What cities in California and what other areas will be added remains an unknown, though Columbus, Ohio has been speculated as one possible market.

A relatively unhyped electric vehicle, Coda comes from California-based start-up Coda Automotive. The electric cars feature a 134-hp electric motor. The company uses a unique 33.8 kWh lithium-iron phosphate battery that provides a different look from the lithium-ion batteries that are more common among EVs and hybrids. Range varies between 90 and 120 miles, and a battery management system displays projected ranges based on driving conditions (traffic, aggressive driving, and open-road cruising). Not likely to be particularly popular with Nissan Leafs and Chevy Volts to compete with, the Coda will carry a base price of $44,900, well more expensive than either the Volt or Leaf. It offers far less of a range than a Volt and a comparable range to a Leaf.

British Men Love California Girls: Katy Perry Voted Most Popular Passenger

On: Fri, Oct 15, 2010 at 12:10PM | By: Chris Weiss

British Men Love California Girls: Katy Perry Voted Most Popular Passenger test 1-1

The other day when introducing a study about the most popular car colors, I made a point that pretty much every trivial automobile fact is linked to a research study or survey of some sort. A new poll done for the British MPH the Prestige & Performance Motor Show, which takes place from November 4 to 7 in London, helps to drive this point home. The poll delved into the ever-important query of who men and women would most like to see in the passenger seat and what car they'd most like to chaffeur them around in. 

Fisker Moves One Step Closer To Production With Karma Configurator

On: Fri, Oct 15, 2010 at 9:24AM | By: Chris Weiss

Fisker Moves One Step Closer To Production With Karma Configurator  test 1-1

The Fisker Karma was originally debuted as a concept at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show. In the nearly three years that followed, production on the plug-in hybrid has been delayed several times. Despite Fisker's green but powerful design, it had looked at times like the Karma was going to be nothing more than a fancy concept.

Finally, Fisker appears ready for production. The company brought its final production Fisker Karma to the Paris Motor Show and now it's launched a configurator so that potential buyers—and those who just like to fiddle around with fancy cars—can see what their dream Karma will look like.

V8-Based Bentley Continental GT to Get Audi S Tronic Transmission

On: Thu, Oct 14, 2010 at 4:59PM | By: Chris Weiss

V8-Based Bentley Continental GT to Get Audi S Tronic Transmission test 1-1

Audi and Bentley are known to be working jointly on a 4.0-liter V8 engine that will be used in the Continental GT and Audi models. The latest indications are that Bentley will also share a transmission with Audi for the V8 Continental GT. In an effort to appeal to the buyers it has in mind for the V8 Continental, Bentley will equip it with Audi's S Tronic transmission.

The S Tronic transmission is a sporty, dual-clutch transmission. The S Tronic set-up uses two wet clutches, one for odd-numbered gears and one for even numbers, to ensure seamless power flow, short, decisive gear shifts, and smooth acceleration. The S Tronic provides for both manual and automated shifts.

Bentley believes that the buyer for the V8 Continental GT will be a different breed than that of the W12 model. Sales and marketing chief Alasdair Stewart said: "The V8 will find a new audience for us. There are sports car enthusiasts out there, particularly in the US, who won’t buy a sports car unless it’s powered by a V8." 

The Crewe crew believes that the S Tronic gearbox will appeal to sports car fans over the ZF automatic transmission used in the current W12-based Continental. The company is currently assessing how the underbody of the car will need to be changed to fit the S Tronic hardware. A feasibility study will determine if the S Tronic is the right solution for Bentley.

Chevy Volt, What The Heck Is It?!

On: Thu, Oct 14, 2010 at 11:53AM | By: John Welch

Chevy Volt, What The Heck Is It?! test 1-1

The controversy surrounding the Chevy Volt has turned into the sort of PR nightmare that General Motors is famous for, and has famously tried to avoid. Is it a hybrid? An electric car? A plug-in hybrid?! Any categories I'm forgetting? I can give you my personal opinion, which I have formulated over the last week by myself. This isn't the AutoShopper's opinion in any way—we have had a constant inter-office argument going since Monday. Each editor has his own thoughts on the Volt and what exactly it is; they are welcome to share their thoughts in the comments . . . so are you, dear AutoShopperBlog reader!

The media, including our blog, has muddied a few of the issues here. A hybrid car, by definition, consists of an electric motor piggybacked on top of an internal combustion engine. The Volt, by comparison, features an internal combustion engine piggybacked on an electric motor. Okay, so, by definition, the Volt isn't a hybrid, contrary to what Motor Trend and others seem to think. The Volt does not operate without its electric engine, its main source of locomotion, so clearly, it doesn't fit in the box created by the accepted definition of a "hybrid".