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24 Heures Du Mans; The 'Shopper Preview

On: Thu, Jun 10, 2010 at 4:22PM | By: John Welch

24 Heures Du Mans; The 'Shopper Preview test 1-1

It wasn't all that long ago you could time an Audi victory at Le Mans by the damn sun. Nowadays things have changed, drastically. The 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans will be held this weekend, and an Audi R15 Plus occupies not one of the top four starting positions. Not one! To further rub salt in that gaping wound, all four of the top spots have been filled by Audi's arch nemesis, Peugeot. You read that correctly, the first four positions are all Peugeot 908 HPDi's, with the fastest Audi coming in fifth. FIFTH?! All that '2012' business must be true! The world really is coming to an end!

For American fans, there a number of Le Mans aspects that are especially interesting this year. 2010 is the first year that Patron-Highcroft, a decidedly American team, has been invited to La Sarthe. 2010 also marks the 50th anniversary of the Chevrolet (no more 'Chevy', right?) Corvette's first appearance at Le Mans. In 1960, the No. 3 Cunningham Corvette driven by John Fitch and Bob Grossman won the large displacement GT class and finished eighth overall. Sharing the GT2 class with the yellow and black Corvette Racing cars are ALMS regulars Rahal/BMW, with their M3 GT's, the Flying Lizard Porsche GT3 and, on provisional pole for GT2, the Risi Competitzione Ferrari F430 GT. Not in the 78-year history of Le Mans has our country entered so many strong teams. The BMW's, the Ferrari and the Porsche should all be able to stomp their European counterparts, and the Corvettes will rival their GT1 cousins in overall speed. Utilizing a significantly toned-down set of aerodynamic rules, it will be interesting to see if the modern GT2 machinery can keep up with the older GT1 Corvette C6.R's, as well as the other GT1 machinery.

I'm going to go ahead a swallow my tongue right now, so that it doesn't happen while I am hyperventilating at 6:00 a.m., Saturday morning. While I'm doing that, why don't you peruse the LMP results from the first Le Mans qualifying session, inside this post . . . GT1 and 2 qualifying results to come in a later post . . .

The Car That Started It All

On: Thu, Jun 10, 2010 at 10:46AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Lamborghini Countach test 2

The most beautiful car I’ve ever seen was not in a showroom. It wasn’t even on the road. No, the day I fell in love with exotic automobiles began as a very inauspicious trip with my father to an Ames Department Store, in New Hampshire, while we were visiting my uncle.  

For the record, I had always loved cars. My father still has his white 1971 Corvette with its behemoth 454 that I used to beg and plead to take anywhere everyday for years. When Dad wasn’t around to pester, I would be out and about with Mom in our 1981 Toyota Corolla Tercel and beg her to let me shift the clunky 5-spd shifter just once. I had (and still have) hundreds of Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars, at least two functioning radio controlled cars every year, and a collection of Corvette posters that would have made Zora Arkus-Duntov proud.  

I did love Corvettes and, up until that day in New Hampshire, I was convinced that the Corvette was king of the hill, as far as I was concerned. I had a little red Matchbox C3 Corvette that was the crown jewel of my collection. However, as I perused the toy section of Ames, I stumbled upon an enigma. It was a car I had never seen, yet instantly loved. I didn’t know what it was called, because the name was too long for my young brain to piece together on its own. All I knew was that it was white, and looked far too wild to be a real car. I picked out the white Hot Wheels car and brought it to my father who explained that the car was something called a Lamborghini. At that moment in time I knew two things about that mysterious car:  The first was its name and the second was simply that I had to have it.  

How to Acurately Calculate Your Gas Mileage

On: Thu, Jun 10, 2010 at 8:53AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

How to Acurately Calculate Your Gas Mileage test 1-1

Nowadays, many consumers are becoming more and more conscious of how much fuel they consume. Many are implementing some simple techniques to save on gas mileage, such as using a feather technique on the gas pedal to accelerate or obeying  the speed limit. How do you know if your driving habit changes are making a difference? If you do not know how to accurately calculate your fuel consumption, it may be difficult to evaluate which practices actually help the most in gas expense savings, and which automobiles truly get the best gas mileage when comparison shopping.

Is Your Car a Republican or a Democrat?

On: Wed, Jun 9, 2010 at 4:59PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Is Your Car a Republican or a Democrat? test 1-1

One way to find out the probability of the political party affiliation that an individual has is to find out what type of automobile he/she drives. A recent survey by market researcher Scarborough Research shows strong trends related to the type of cars that voters drive.The survey asked 500 drivers which type of vehicles they drove and gathered statistics on which cars were more likely to belong to the Republican voters, and which were Democrats’ vehicles.

Here is what the poll discovered;
No matter the political stripe, according to the survey, sedans and coupes are the most popular type of car. Half the Democrats in the survey drove them, along with over one-third of Republicans. The two groups differ on pickup trucks, which are the modern day automotive symbol of red states: 15 percent of Republicans drive them, compared with just over three percent of Democrats. 


Ford and GM Partner With Google

On: Wed, Jun 9, 2010 at 9:52AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Chevy Volt Mobile App test 2

Google has become such a big name that it is now being integrated into automotive technology in many of Detroit’s Big Three vehicles. It was announced today that Google Maps will soon be incorporated into GM’s OnStar eNav technology.

Ford has also made a similar decision, today, to assimilate Google Maps into its Sync system which is similar to OnStar and includes: hands-free calling, turn-by-turn directions, 911 assist, traffic alerts, audible text messages, and now the ability to incorporate Google Maps.  In fact, the major difference between OnStar’s telematics system and Ford’s Sync technology is that Onstar has its own communications equipment and Ford’s system is linked through cell phones.

GM Execs to Get $24.5 Million in Shares

On: Wed, Jun 9, 2010 at 9:32AM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

gmexecs test 2

According a recent report published on Auto News, “GM issued 184,255 salary stock units and 71,155 restricted stock units executives can exercise if they hit certain performance targets, the automaker said Monday in U.S. regulatory filings. Each unit represents one share of stock, and if GM stock hasn’t been trading for six months, the executives will receive cash.”

This distribution of shares is related to their next planned IPO launch (initial public offering), according to Joe Phillippi, the president of AutoTrends Consulting. In an interview with Auto News he stated, “This is probably 100 percent related to their run up to an IPO.” Phillippi further added, “It’s probably one more step in preparation to go public.”

The CFO for GM, Chris Liddell, emphasized that the IPO probably will not take place until sometime during the next fiscal year. Even more interesting is the fact that GM’s stock value is rapidly increasing. This means that we could potentially see them actually paying back the taxpayers and the loans they borrowed a lot faster than experts first had predicted.  

New Rules Push Automakers to Boost Fuel Economy Even More

On: Wed, Jun 9, 2010 at 9:19AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

New Rules Push Automakers to Boost Fuel Economy Even More test 1-1

Everyone who has bought a new car has probably experienced the excitement of selecting a vehicle that reports great fuel economy, only to later realize that in real life driving situations, such as stop-and-go traffic on the interstate, that the new vehicle never quite stacks up to the numbers on the window sticker. Most consumers will be happy to learn that a new revision for fuel economy testing is being created by government agencies in order to push automakers into creating even more fuel efficient vehicles. New mandates could be expensive for car makers in the U.S., but they will create new rules so “vehicle test data better reflects actual fuel consumption.”

In 2007 a panel of experts were gathered by government regulators in order to analyze how accurate reported vehicle fuel economy was being reported by the automakers. Thursday that three-year report was released and it affirmed that the new rules will burden automakers with major expense in order to comply with new regulations.

The panel asked the Envirnomental Protection Agency (EPA) to revise the rules on fuel economy so that tests that are performed will be more accurate in reflecting real life MPG that motorists will be getting.

Honda Leader of Pack with Auto Sales in Asia & US - Civic is Still the Hot Seller

On: Tue, Jun 8, 2010 at 1:44PM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

Honda test 2

At one time or another it seems that we all have known someone who absolutely swears by driving a Honda. There are tons of great lines that this automaker has to offer to the consumer—from small and  compact cars, like the Honda Civic, to roomier and spacious mid-sized sedans, like the Honda Accord. They have even increased their already impressive fleet of vehicles lately, adding the sweet touring sedan they call Honda CrossTour, and even making mini-SUVs that appeal to the younger  crowd, like the Honda Element. They also offer the Pilot for those looking for a real four door SUV, and they have the Ridgeline, a very durable and heavy-duty truck. For  parents and child-toting folks, they also offer the Honda Odyssey—which is a pretty feature-loaded and safe mini-van.

These are but a few of the many great cars already in the Honda fleet.

Over the years, Americans have really taken to Honda cars. People love Hondas for several different reasons. Most people, when asked why they cherish their Honda so much, have told me it is the most reliable car they have ever driven, and that it comes with an excellent warranty as well. They seem to really, indeed, like a car company that offers them the car they want and the peace of mind gained  from knowing their car is covered by a great warranty.

Curious about the Honda warranty, I poked around on their website (www.honda.com) and pulled up some stats. They do offer a fairly decent package. And when I looked at other car warranties, the Honda warranty does indeed compare rather nicely—adding to why people love these cars so much, in addition to the fact that they look so sleek and drive so smoothly.

GM Recalling 1.5 Million Vehicles For Potential Fire Hazard

On: Tue, Jun 8, 2010 at 12:46PM | By: Drew Christy

GM Recalling 1.5 Million Vehicles For Potential Fire Hazard test 1-1

General Motors is recalling 1.5 million Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Hummer, Saturn, and GMC vehicles worldwide to fix a heated windshield wiper fluid system module, which could cause a fire. The recall affects several GM car, truck, and SUV models made between 2006 to 2009. This is the second recall for the same heated windshield wiper fluid system. GM originally recalled the system back in August 2008 because a short circuit on the printed circuit board could overheat the control-circuit ground wire and cause a fire. Dealers fixed the vehicles by installing an in-line fuse in the heated washer module wiring, however, GM came across new reports of fires in vehicles that had been fixed.

In a press release, General Motors Executive Director of Safety stated: “While our analysis shows the number of incidents is very small compared with the number of vehicles on the road, we want our customers to have complete peace of mind. We always want to make sure customers can count on the safety and quality of their GM vehicle.” GM has decided to disable the heated portion of the washer fluid system because no solution is available to fix the malfunctioning module. Dealership service personnel will remove the heated washer fluid module and reroute washer fluid hoses. “This was a unique technology available from only one supplier, and that supplier has stopped manufacturing, which left no opportunity to collaborate on an improved design,” Boyer said. Boyer continued, “We want to be clear that the voluntary payment to customers is for the loss of the feature, not the recall.” The report says GM will reimburse owners and lease holders $100 since the feature is being disabled.

GM will start sending recall notices this month, however, customers may also contact their local dealer at any time to make an appointment to have the heated washer system removed. Most of the vehicles, 1,365,070, are in the United States; there are 98,794 affected vehicles in Canada; 26,228 in Mexico, and 38,093 elsewhere. There are no known injuries or crashes reported, however, GM is aware of five fires.

See the list and full report after the jump...

Panoz Unveils Abruzzi; So Wild It's Nearly Pornographic

On: Tue, Jun 8, 2010 at 11:46AM | By: John Welch

Panoz Unveils Abruzzi; So Wild It's Nearly Pornographic test 1-1

The Internet has a funny way of taking rumors and running with them. Like scissors. The Panoz Abruzzi is the source of a few rumors, and the Internet has sensationalized every aspect of the new Panoz supercar in any way it could.

"2,300 brake horse pressures!"

"Carbon-Kevlar dead-pedal and a licorice dispenser on the ceiling!"

"The nose doubles as a sweet three-blade razor! Lifts and cuts!"

On top of these ridiculous claims, the Internet has provided us with several concept drawings that were far from accurate. What I find hilarious about this is that the actual car is more outrageous than any of these fake Panoz drawings depict. I mean, geezus, this car is front-engined?! Where, exactly, does the engine go?! Not being manufactured by some elves in an Alpine cave somewhere, the Panoz Abruzzi has a lineage that helps us ease past the slightly Sci-Fi aerodynamic treatment. This is a real car, screwed together well, and the badge on its hood has the racing credentials to give it more cachet than, say, a Gumpert Apollo . . . which is built by some elves in some Alpine cave somewhere . . .

Official Reproduction Parts Available For Restoring Your Old Ford

On: Tue, Jun 8, 2010 at 10:46AM | By: Clay Ritchings

Official Reproduction Parts Available For Restoring Your Old Ford test 1-1

The days of driving around hunting for car parts to restore your old Ford are a thing of the past. No more trudging through muddy junk yards on the hunt for the illusive Mustang—all the while doing your best to avoid the canine landmines. If you are lucky enough to scrounge the part you need, it is unlikely that you can just bolt it to your classic and call it a day. Thanks to Ford and the “Interwebs” it is much easier to restore your classic Ford with factory-correct parts. Parts that are manufactured on original Ford tooling and have the fit and finish you are looking for are just a mouse click away.

Rejoice, Ford fanatics, your beloved manufacturer now offers up over 9,000 officially licensed parts. Ford is offering Parts for cars and trucks going back to Model Ts, and the catalog includes complete shells for 1967, 68, 69, and 70 Mustang coupes, as well as all manner of other parts to fix up old Mercurys and Lincolns.