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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry




Toyota to boost engine production Stateside

On: Fri, Aug 21, 2009 at 10:48AM | By: John Welch


Toyota to boost engine production Stateside test 1-1

In a surprise announcement Toyota has made it clear that they plan on increasing four cylinder engine production at their Huntsville, Alabama plant. This is a surprising announcement considering Toyota completely abandoned its NUMMI plant earlier this month.

The original (rather short) story ('blurb,' if you prefer) comes from The Wall Street Journal


New Buick Regal Apes Vauxhall/Opel VXR

On: Fri, Aug 21, 2009 at 10:27AM | By: John Welch


New Buick Regal Apes Vauxhall/Opel VXR test 1-1

We may be looking at the next Buick Regal, assuming Fritz Henderson doesn't invent some reason why it offends his 're-badging' sensibilities. The 2010 Vauxhall Insignia VXR seen here is about as striking as a GM product has ever been. (I'm still keen on the '89 era IROC-Z, spent my entire childhood lusting after that car; until I discovered it was making an earth shattering 195 bhp, sigh.) It's from GM's current German arm, Opel. It rides on the same Epsilon II platform that underpins the Chevy Malibu and Buick LaCrosse.There is an interesting assortment of parts that go into the VXR, including bits from Saab, Opel, and GM's Korean subsidiaries. The 321 bhp 2.8-liter twin turbo V6 is sourced from Holden, those same wonderful Aussies who brought us the GTO and G8 before Fritzy decided DESIRABLE cars were not on the docket for GM . . . eeerrr, Government-installed CEOs rub me the wrong way . . . my thoughts on Henderson and his 'rebadging' hypocrisy in a later post . . .

Anyway, here we feature a brief gallery of Insignia VXR images, as well as a link to the origninal story in Edmunds Inside Line.


Wiedeking In Hot Water!

On: Thu, Aug 20, 2009 at 2:54PM | By: John Welch


Wiedeking In Hot Water! test 1-1

And the Porsche/VW saga gets deeper and deeper. Now it looks like high ranking officials within Porsche may have traipsed around the law when attempting to acquire a majority share in Volkswagen last year. Several offices in Porsche's Stuttgart headquarters were raided this morning, including the office of former chief executive Wendelin Wiedeking. Is it just me, or is it impossible to trust a man named 'Wendy'? Almost as egregious as 'Fritzy' . ..

The full write up can be found at The Times Online


Running Round the 'Ring

On: Thu, Aug 20, 2009 at 2:16PM | By: John Welch


Running Round the 'Ring test 1-1

Ahhh, the Nurburgring. Possibly the world's greatest race course (that's debatable, of course; Indy and La Sarthe may take offense). Considered by most of the world's automakers as the ultimate test for their machinery. Manufacturers are so high on the 'Ring koolaid that they've been waging a 'fast lap' war around the circuit for the better part of three years. The waters surrounding these records are starting to get a little muddy. In the last four days three different manufacturers (Devon, Gumpert, and Radical) have made claim to the 'production car' lap record. Huh? The PRODUCTION lap record is held by the Corvette ZR1, at a time of 7:26.4. It could be argued that none of these other cars are 'production' cars. They are all hand-built, small volume rocket sleds that surely required serious bribes in order to get street legal. Take a look at the Radical; it's a LMP2 car with slim bodywork for barkinoutloud.

Besides the epic ego-war being waged between Porsche and Nissan, the fight between these small firms has become increasingly interesting. Following is a breakdown of the supposed records and as much media as I can find to go with them.

Devon GTX
: a Dodge Viper with frilly body cladding. Whoopee. It is 100% American, which I like, but they're shooting for a time of 6:55. MMmmm, that's a little hard to swallow.

Gumpert Apollo
: Here a we a have a serious beast. In the back of the wildly styled chassis lays an Audi V8. Oh, and a couple of hairdryers. You can order the performance flavor that best suits you: 600, 650, and 700 horsepower. Delicious. The Apollo even beats the Corvette by eleven seconds! To bad it looks like Falcor.

Radical SR8LM
: And here we have the new Champ. Though I refuse to call it a production car, it is remarkably reliable. The car was driven from England to South West Germany, and ran its lap on the same tires used for the transcontinental trip. I'll let you read the story for the lap time, but I assure you, it's eye-watering.

 


 

Hyundai to release flagship sedan

On: Thu, Aug 20, 2009 at 11:36AM | By: John Welch


Hyundai to release flagship sedan test 1-1

Hyundai just doesn't stop flooding our shores with new product. Last year we received the Genesis, the Genesis Coupe, and a host of new offerings form Hyundai's little brother, Kia. Wanting an even larger chunk of the US meatpie in its pocket, Hyundai is now leveling its cross hairs on the Luxo-Barge market.

The Hyundai Equus is the flagship sedan for the Korean company. Introduced at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance last week, the Equus boasts the same V8 as the Genesis, with appropriate power updates to deal with the increased mass of the larger Hyundai. The styling is conservative, if slightly more brazen than the Lexus LS.

 

The full Press Release can be viewed at Hyundainews.com


Web Review: Porsche

On: Thu, Aug 20, 2009 at 10:47AM | By: John Welch


Web Review: Porsche test 1-1

I like to pretend that I'm rich instead of just good looking. I like to pretend that I am able to wake up in the morning, dine on Eggs Benedict and lobster, then trot off to buy any new car my heart desires. In the process of feeding these irrational fantasies, I tend to peruse manufacturer websites, finding out exactly what ultra-expensive vehicles with what ultra-expensive options are available in my area. Most of these experiences are good; the car companies definitely drop a little cash on their websites. However, sometimes the site is clunky, or the interface doesn't provide an option I'd like, etc. This series of posts will leave no stone unturned in the name of finding the best, most informative, most complete Auto Manufacturer Websites. This week's subject: Porsche.


BMW wins GT2 at Road America

On: Wed, Aug 19, 2009 at 3:43PM | By: John Welch


BMW wins GT2 at Road America test 1-1

BMW finally made its way to the top of the ALMS podium this weekend, finally taking their first win in the GT2 category. "Big Deal," you say. "I wanna hear about the Corvettes!" you say. "This Hot Pocket isn't cooked all the way!" I hope you just suck it up and chew the ham/ice/cheese in the middle. Also, I'm a Bimmer Nut Case so they will receive just as much attention on this blog as the Corvettes. Is that Hot Pocket tolerable?


ALMS to restructure rules for 2010

On: Wed, Aug 19, 2009 at 12:39PM | By: John Welch


ALMS to restructure rules for 2010 test 1-1

In an effort to return to the excellent racing seen between 2006 and 2008 the American Le Mans Series has announced rule changes for the 2010 season. Series President Scott Atherton made the announcement on Tuesday.

“Our sport has always been about evolution, and our plans for 2010 and beyond reflect it. We intend to stay ahead of the rest of the industry. We are the first movers to embrace a value-based new set of classes while at the same time retaining the core elements of what has made the American Le Mans Series the benchmark professional sports car racing series in modern times. The automotive industry is going through radical changes, and the same can be said for most of the motorsports industry. With today’s announcement we are adding value-based opportunities that expand accessibility to a broader base of competitors, manufacturers, and teams,” declared Atherton.

The proposed changes deal with several aspects of the class structure, most notably combining the two top-tier classes, LMP1 and LMP2. Through the magic of "competition equalization" the series will be able to slow the LMP1 cars while increasing the speeds of LMP2, making the distinctly different machines preform much the way they did in 2007. Equalization can be achieved many different ways: adding ballast to lighter cars, allowing less restriction on smaller engines. The idea is to create a situation where the larger LMP1 cars have advantages at certain tracks, and the LMP2s at others. Other interesting additions include a low cost 'spec' prototype class, all participants running the same equipment.

For the entire story, click over to the official ALMS website


Leno turns down Top Gear, then rips them off

On: Wed, Aug 19, 2009 at 11:24AM | By: John Welch


Leno turns down Top Gear, then rips them off test 1-1

Jay Leno just won't go away. Not only does he go and steal Conan's thunder by preempting the Tonight Show with his own 'semi-late night' program, now he is blatantly stealing bits. I shouldn't care, I wouldn't care but the program he is stealing from is Top Gear. Grrr. As it turns out, Jay was offered the hosting job for the American version of Top Gear. He turned it down, was replaced with Adam Corolla, and we still have no domestic automotive programing worth watching. My DVR's fast-forward button gets a serious workout trying to watch Motorweek. Sheesh, and don't get me started on the ultra-hokey, extremely antiquated Power Block on Spike TV—four hours of commercials and body work just don't do it for me. Sorry.

 

Apparently Jay is planning some sort of segment where a celebrity is placed in an electric sports car, then made to compete against other celeb's for top lap time. Sounds eerily familiar, if I'm not mistaken Jay participated in just this sort of contest recently, albeit sans electrified transport. Shameful. The real crime here is allowing Top Gear America to flounder. Leno's star power would have surely gotten the show on the air, regardless of what focus groups thought. Instead, he'd rather do "Tonight Show-Lite" and include some poorly planned plagiarism. Sweet. I will give Leno one compliment, his reasoning for not doing the show is pretty sound . . .

 

Source: The L.A. Times


Renault allowed to race on Sunday

On: Tue, Aug 18, 2009 at 12:55PM | By: John Welch


Renault allowed to race on Sunday test 1-1

A mistake is just that, a mistake. "Mooom, I didn't mean to draw an outline of Road Atlanta on my bedroom wall, in pastels; it was a mistake!" Yeah, right. She didn't buy it either. Apparently the FIA is more forgiving than my Mother.

When last we saw the venerable F1 circus, the moving pictures were coming to us form Hungary, a track named the Hungaroring. Fernando Alonso was making a routine pit stop. Upon being released form the pits Alonso began to notice a bad vibration coming from his right front wheel. Ah, mistakes. As it turns out the wheel was not properly fastened, causing it to come loose and fly off the car. The stewards were not pleased. So upset, in fact, that they banned Renault from the next round almost immediately. Now we're dealing with two mistakes. The next round of Formula One racing takes place in Valencia, Spain, the "European Grand Prix". Telling Spaniards that Fernando Alonso will not be allowed to participate in his home race is about like the University of Florida telling Gators fans that they're benching Tim Tebow during all home games, for any reason. A bad situation from a P.R. standpoint. The best case scenario would be nobody showing up to the track on race day. The worst case, inciting riots.

The FIA certainly knows which side its bread is buttered on, today overturning the suspension. It was made very clear that the sactioning body was not happy with Renault, fining them and giving the team a brutal tongue lashing. They will however allow Flavio's yellow cars on track this weekend.


The entire story can be read at Formula One's offcial website


Saab Deal Final?

On: Tue, Aug 18, 2009 at 12:27PM | By: John Welch


Saab Deal Final? test 1-1

Not quite. The Saab/Koenigsegg saga is nearing its end as Koenigsegg made their financial situation a little clearer this morning. If all parties are to be believed, Koenigsegg requires a significant loan from the European Investment Bank, in the name of Saab. This loan could total $413.6 million, and would officially make Saab a subsidiary of Koenigsegg (say it: Co-NeenG-Sag).

Saab has spent much of the last few months reorganizing its business model, cutting inventories and positioning themselves better to meet realistic demand. So, the deal is not final, however, according to Koenigsegg spokespeople it should be cut by the end of the month. GM is less optimistic, predicting final sale by the end of the year. GM has stated it and Saab would continue to share technology and services during a defined time period, which would be managed through licenses and service agreements. And possibly more prominent roles for Saabs in Michael Bay flicks . . .

A full write up can be found from The New York Times