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Auto Industry News
And Car Reviews

Whatever Floats Your Boat

On: Mon, Oct 26, 2009 at 2:35PM | By: Clay Ritchings

Amphicar at Lake Mirror test 2

For the past 10 years the people of Lakeland have had the pleasure of hosting the Lake Mirror Classic car show at beautiful Lake Mirror. The show is one of the country's leading classic car shows and is always a firm favorite with the public. This year’s feature display showcased European cars from the art deco era. In the midst of all the beautiful cars from the brass era, pre-war, post-war, domestic sports cars, and muscle cars there are always a few cars that are of particular interest.

Tampa International Auto Show Pt.1

On: Mon, Oct 26, 2009 at 10:45AM | By: John Welch

Tampa Convention Center test 2

The Tampa Convention Center hosted Motor Trend's "International Auto Show" over the weekend. It isn't Detroit or Geneva or Tokyo or any city demanding a multi-billion dollar auto extravaganza featuring concepts and glitzy umbrella girls and gorillas on jet skis. Thankfully.

Because it is so exempt from auto manufacturer excess, there is little to get in the way of an overly anal, under-funded auto reviewer such as myself from actually comparing the construction and execution of new cars with each other. Still haven't found the magic wand that allows me to actually take home and drive press-beaters, but the Tampa Auto Show afforded me the opportunity to get an accurate picture of what car companies are up to, and how they directly compare with each other.

What I found was equal parts disappointment and joy...

Red Light Cameras: Show Me The Money

On: Wed, Oct 21, 2009 at 3:16PM | By: Clay Ritchings

Intersection With Camera test 2

I have not put much thought into the whole “red light camera” topic until my town decided to place these autonomous ticket printing machines up in strategic places that will Make Money. Make no mistake about it that when a town decides to use an independent company that has incentives to write tickets without the discretion of a police officer at the scene to take in the whole situation and use his judgment, they are in it to make money. I must say that in no way do I advocate reckless driving or breaking the laws, but If Big Brother is going to start writing tickets from an armchair in Arizona for your front tires being over the white line then I must protect myself.

Webber Wins Brazil; Button, Brawn Win Championship

On: Tue, Oct 20, 2009 at 1:16PM | By: John Welch

Webber Wins Brazil; Button, Brawn Win Championship test 1-1

Mark Webber and Red Bull were able to pull out a victory in Sao Paulo, but Jenson Button managed to finish ahead of Sebastian Vettle and teammate Rubens Barrichello to secure the 2009 Driver's Championship. Brawn GP was able to take the constructor's championship, with one race remaining in Abu Dubai.

The week leading up to the eventual win was a busy one; a recap of all the dramatic happenings here . . .


Lake Mirror Classic 2009

On: Tue, Oct 20, 2009 at 9:01AM | By: John Welch

Lake Mirror Classic 2009 test 1-1

Annually, the City of Lakeland and a few corporate sponsers put on a little car show at Lake Mirror, in down town Lakeland. Little like 500 cars and 30,000 spectators little. In other words, not so little. In fact, kind of a big deal. The Auto Shopper attended the Lake Mirror Classic of course, and we took some pretty decent notes . . .

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

On: Fri, Oct 16, 2009 at 3:38PM | By: John Welch

ALMS test 2

Last weekend's Sports Car finales were the bee's knees.

"Just why was Buell so great?!"

And I break my "no GM reporting" oath, mostly to rub it in everyone's face.

BMW M3 Test At The Nurburing; New CSL?

On: Fri, Oct 16, 2009 at 1:43PM | By: John Welch

BMW M3 Test At The Nurburing; New CSL? test 1-1

Car companies currently have an unhealthy obsession with the Nurburing. Everything from Trailblazers to GTRs are tested there, and now manufacturers are dueling for the fastest 'production car' laptime. It's a drug, that dern Nurburing, and the auto industry is selling their VCRs and golf clubs just to get a taste.

What about companies who are ahead of the curve? Companies who have been testing at the Nurburing for thirty years? Companies like BMW . . . oh, they still test on the Nurburing, and photo-spys were able to capture their most recent visit to the "GreenHell" . . .

Buh Bye, Buell, MV Agusta Next On The Chopping Block

On: Thu, Oct 15, 2009 at 5:14PM | By: John Welch

Buh Bye, Buell, MV Agusta Next On The Chopping Block test 1-1

I consider myself at least slightly knowledgeable when it comes to motorcycles. Regarding Harley-Davidson's sales figures however, a working knowledge of the paralever isn't really necessary. Harley is in trouble, severe trouble. Their sales have tanked, probably because of the economy, but I like to think it's because their bikes are horrible: heavy, under-powered, louder than hell, smelly, ridden mostly by accountants who should have bought a Goldwing . .

As is always the case with bloated conglomerates, the interesting product is the first to get the ax (Pontiac G8 anyone??! . . still burns me up). To this end, Harley does not disappoint. Buell, this is your swansong . . .

Web Review: Hyundai Genesis Coupe

On: Thu, Oct 15, 2009 at 12:42PM | By: John Welch

Web Review: Hyundai Genesis Coupe test 1-1

Let's get the obvious out of the way; the Hyundai Genesis Coupe isn't going to win any beauty pageants any time soon. From all but the rear three-quarter view, this car is homely. The front end is reminiscent of a sad puppy, all droopy eyed and lethargic. The profile lends itself to odd angles and geometrically challenged shapes. The tail end is pleasing enough, if not generic. The rims are slovenly designed hunks of aluminum featuring fat spokes that are anything but sporty. The interior, an ill-fitting hodgepodge of plastics and fake metals, is an execution dotted with varying degrees of success.

So, that is what I don't like about the Genesis Coupe. Probably the last time I'll mention anything I don't like about it. The benefits of purchasing a Genesis Coupe far outweigh the styling issues; it doesn't even compare to a new Camaro styling-wise, but dynamically it is far superior.

With this in mind we venture over to the Hyundai website to see if optioning a Gen-Coupe is as pleasing an experience as slinging one around a skid pad has the potential to be . . .

ALMS Season Finale Pt.2 - GT Car-Stag!

On: Wed, Oct 14, 2009 at 3:42PM | By: John Welch

ALMS Season Finale Pt.2 - GT Car-Stag! test 1-1

Yowza! I don't usually say nonsensical things like that, so enjoy it now: Yowza! All it takes to produce entertaining television is a Porsche, a Corvette, and a finish line. A couple of Europeans who seem to absolutely despise each other driving the two cars doesn't hurt either. Throw in one gut-twisting piece of elevation-shifting pavement referred to, simply, as "The Corkscrew", and you have the makings of a prime time bash-fest that network TV could never hope to compete with. Or, you would, if we Americans had any taste. Instead we get 'Private Practice' in prime time . . . yeeech!

But I digress; this weekend's ALMS finale featured one of the best last lap battles ever witnessed in American road racing, along with a number of other surprises . . .

ALMS Season Finale Pt.1

On: Wed, Oct 14, 2009 at 12:49PM | By: John Welch

ALMS Season Finale Pt.1 test 1-1

The American Le Mans Series, week to week, is the most entertaining racing of any kind in the world. It is a thinking man's sport; the sheer number of different car makes and drivetrains and classes gives a race-dork like me hours of brain food. After having learned every nuance of new cars and teams over the 2008/9 off-season, my autotechnophile-glands were swollen and ready to burst. This year saw several changes take place in the ALMS. Using the economic downturn as an excuse, Audi pulled out of the series for the first time in nine years. Running only two events, Sebring and Petit Le Mans, the Audi team was not able to dominate the series like they had in the past. A new LMP1 contender stood up to take their place, Acura.