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Ford F-Series Super Duty prototype reduced to smoldering mess of aluminum and steel [UPDATE]

08/04/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Spy Photos, Trucks/Pickups, Ford

2016 Ford F-Series Super Duty prototype on fire

The most important bit of information you need to know after looking through our high-res gallery of images depicting a prototype 2016 Ford F-Series Super Duty pickup truck burning to the ground is that nobody was hurt. There were two engineers inside the vehicle when it caught fire, and both exited to safety.

That's the good news. The bad news is that the truck, which appears to have been testing in Death Valley, appears to be a total loss, minus, of course, whatever information Ford can glean from the conflagration - particularly tracing it back to its root cause. Besides that, we're also expecting the body of the next Super Duty to be hewn from aluminum, as is the case with its smaller brother, the brand-new F-150. Note the little aluminum droppings littering the roadway as apparent proof of that.

Our spy photographers report that it took just 21 minutes for the F-Series Super Duty to burn completely to the ground. The fire appears to have started in the driver-side front wheel well, spreading to engulf the entire front end in three minutes. We can't confirm the source of the blaze, but we're curious if the car's black vinyl cladding, meant to obscure the secrets within, contributed to the fire.

Check out the complete gallery of images to see how a fully working prototype can be reduced to a smoldering mess of aluminum and steel in just 21 minutes flat. We'll let you know if Ford can shed any light on the cause of the fire as soon as we hear back.

UPDATE: Ford has issued the following statement: "While testing an experimental vehicle in Death Valley, there was a fire. We are investigating." That much is clear, and we'll keep you informed of any new information we get.

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Ford announces free brake pad offer if customers stop by dealers

08/04/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Maintenance, Ford, Lincoln, Mercury

Ford Motorcraft Brake Pad Guarantee

These days, when you buy a new car, it's not unreasonable to expect a certain period of free maintenance to come along as well. Sometimes this is through the life of the warranty, in other cases a little less. But Ford Motor Company is going beyond those deals for at least one part of its cars. As of now, if you buy a set of Motorcraft brake pads for a Ford, Lincoln or Mercury model, you get free replacements for as long as you own the vehicle. The offer is good at Ford or Lincoln dealers and Quick Lane Tire & Auto Centers.

"We will replace the pads for as long as you own the vehicle," said Elizabeth Weigandt to Autoblog. She did clarify that the Motorcraft pads are generally for models from the '90s or newer. Also, to take advantage of this program, a person must return to the same dealer each time to get the free parts.

Of course, Ford isn't just handing out brake pads to anyone who walks by; there are certain stipulations. First, the components have to be worn down to less than three millimeters to be eligible, and the buyer still has to pay for the labor to install them. If the model is used as a fleet vehicle for commercial purposes like as a taxi or limousine, this offer also doesn't apply; the same thing for racecars. On the plus side, if you recently bought a set of pads from one of the participating locations, you're still in luck. The deal covers parts purchased as of July 1.

"This program reflects our commitment to providing customers with an excellent ownership experience regardless of the age of their vehicle," said Frederiek Toney, President of Ford Customer Service, in the company's announcement of the offer. Scroll down to read the all the details.

Continue reading Ford announces free brake pad offer if customers stop by dealers

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GM also sheds parts from its pickups to boost payload ratings [UPDATE]

08/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Trucks/Pickups, Commercial Trucks, Chevrolet, Ford, GM, GMC, Special/Limited Editions, Ram

Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD

The row between Ford and Ram over who boasts the best-in-class tow rating for heavy duty pickups has revealed a number of things. Chief among them is a report that Ford removes items like the spare tire, jack, radio and center console from its trucks in a bid to lower its base curb weight, and therefore its gross vehicle weight.

For those that need a refresher, GVW is the combination of a truck's curb weight plus its payload. Gross vehicle weight rating, meanwhile, is the maximum amount of weight a vehicle can handle, and it's also used to classify pickups. In Ford's case, tweaking the GVW by removing parts allows it to station the F-450 among the so-called Class III pickups. This is despite the fact that it's hewn from stiffer stuff than the average Class III and has the elevated towing capacity to prove it.

Ford explains away these deletions, saying a customer could order their vehicle in such a manner. It has also come to light that Ford is not the only automaker to engage in such practices.

General Motors started deleting the rear bumper and swapping in alloy wheels for heavier steel wheels for its 2014 pickups (both light-duty and heavy duty models). This is despite originally claiming that it did no such thing, a statement GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson told Automotive News was a mistake.

Wilkinson, like Ford, justifies the practice, explaining to AN, "You can delete the rear bumper, which some business customers do so they can install a custom bumper or other equipment on the back of the truck."

What are your thoughts on this? Is the process for figuring out tow ratings and GVWR too easy to manipulate? We want to hear from you. Head into Comments, and let us know what you think.

UPDATE: This story originally stated that gross vehicle weight rating was a combination of curb weight and payload. To clarify, GVWR is a fixed figure, which a vehicle's curb weight and payload cannot exceed. The story has been edited to reflect this.

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GM also sheds parts from its pickups to boost payload ratings

08/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Trucks/Pickups, Commercial Trucks, Chevrolet, Ford, GM, GMC, Special/Limited Editions, Ram

Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD

The row between Ford and Ram over who boasts the best-in-class tow rating for heavy duty pickups has revealed a number of things. Chief among them is a report that Ford removes items like the spare tire, jack, radio and center console from its vehicles in a bid to lower its base curb weight and therefore keep the truck's gross vehicle weight rating down.

For those that need a refresher, GVWR is the vehicle's curb weight plus its maximum payload. A lower GVWR allows Ford to station its F-450 among the so-called Class III pickups, despite the fact that internally, it has the makings of a more brutish Class IV truck.

Ford explains away these deletions, saying a customer could order their vehicle in such a manner. It has also come to light that Ford is not the only automaker to engage in such practices.

General Motors started deleting the rear bumper and swapping in alloy wheels for heavier steel wheels for its 2014 pickups (both light-duty and heavy duty models). This is despite originally claiming that it did no such thing, a statement GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson told Automotive News was a mistake.

Wilkinson, like Ford, justifies the practice, explaining to AN, "You can delete the rear bumper, which some business customers do so they can install a custom bumper or other equipment on the back of the truck."

What are your thoughts on this? Is the process for figuring out tow ratings and GVWR too easy to manipulate? We want to hear from you. Head into Comments, and let us know what you think.

Read more..

2015 Ford F-150 appearance guide takes the truck from mild to wild with options

08/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Car Buying, Trucks/Pickups, Ford, Design/Style

2015 Ford F-150

2015 Ford F-150 Trim GuideWe already know that the 2015 Ford F-150 has a base price coming in at just $395 more than the 2014 model, despite all of the new standard tech and aluminum-intensive construction in the upcoming version. Now the Blue Oval is finally giving us an idea of what that extra money actually buys customers, with the release of the appearance guide for its latest pickup.

The guide basically explains everything you could want to know about what changes occur among the multitude of trims on the 2015 F-150. There are five levels for the new truck. Although, that is something of a misnomer because most of them are also available with either Sport or Chrome packages, plus the FX4 Off-Road option with Hill Descent Control, an electronic-locking rear axle, off-road shocks and skid plates. With 13 available colors, including 4 new ones, and 14 wheel designs in various sizes, pickup buyers should have no problem specing one to fit their style.

The lineup starts out with the base XL with a black grille and fascia and 17-inch wheels. However, across most of the range the Sport and Chrome packages are also available to add either body-color or chrome accents, respectively. Next up is the XLT with a standard chrome grille but also available with a black, billet-style one with a body-color surround. Things really start getting plush with the Lariat model with leather trim, a three-bar front end and 18-inch wheels. The King Ranch sticks with that look but adds power running boards, 20-inch wheels and two-tone paint. Finally, the top-dog Platinum is all about bling with yet another frontal design, chrome door handles and mirror caps, a big logo running across the tailgate and more.

All of the options are certainly a lot to take in, and Ford clearly doesn't want any potential customers to fall through the cracks in terms getting exactly what they want from their F-150. Check out the gallery to see all of the differences between the trims for yourself.

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'Blood Muscle' auction to sell impressive collection of ill-begotten classic cars

07/30/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Time Warp, Convertibles, Coupes, Sports/GTs, Auctions, Government/Legal, Chevrolet, Ford

Blood Muscle auction

The old saying goes that if you can't do the time, don't do the crime. But being a criminal can involve more than just taking a trip to the big house; it can also mean losing possessions purchased from any ill-gotten gains. Still, one man's loss is another's gain, and if you're in Lodi, NJ, on September 12, you stand the chance to buy some of the ultimate muscle cars from the US Marshals in what is being gruesomely nicknamed the Blood Muscle auction.

The grisly moniker was earned because all of the vehicles belonged to the president of a blood testing company who is facing prison time for alleged bribery, according to Hemmings. After all, they are muscle cars bought with actual blood money. The seven-vehicle collection includes some of the ultimate muscle cars ever made, and the original buyer clearly had an eye for rarity.

This cornucopia of V8 power includes a teal 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 429, a 1967 Shelby GT500 Mustang, an orange 1970 Plymouth Superbird, a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS convertible and perhaps most prized of all - a trio of 1969 Yenko Chevys with a Chevelle, Nova and Camaro all represented. From the included photos, all of them look to be in fantastic condition.

A.J Willner Auctions, which is coordinating the sale, has authenticating documents for all seven vehicles on its website. "This is a live auction, all bidders will need to attend and bid in person with the required $10,000 cashier's check as a deposit on them," the company says about the event. If you can get past how the cars were purchased, there could be some bargains here.

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2015 Ford F-Series Super Duty Power Stroke

07/29/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Trucks/Pickups, Commercial Trucks, Ford, Driving

2015 Ford F-Series Super Duty

What weighs 30,000 pounds? Big Ben's Westminster bell. A navy ship anchor. Or as we found out during our first drive program for the 2015 Ford F-Series Super Duty, seven pallets of cinder blocks loaded onto a dual-axle gooseneck trailer. The test was part of a raft of towing demonstrations that showcased the new Super Duty's impressive tug capacity, which maxes out at 32,100 pounds. That's 1,200 more than its nearest rival, the Ram 3500, when equipped with its upgraded 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel V8. Such is the heavy-duty pickup truck business, a diesel-fueled game of one-upmanship with only three players: Ford, Chevrolet/GMC and Ram. And in this game, the one with the most torque wins.

Until 2014, Ford was the one to beat, with its 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel bringing 400 hp and a massive 800 lb-ft of torque to the table. Then last year, Ram did exactly that, serving Ford with a beefed-up Cummins turbodiesel inline-six in its freshened Ram Heavy Duty truck line with 385 hp and 850 lb-ft of torque, enabling it to tow up to 30,000 pounds. But Ford claims it had designed its engine to be relatively easy to upgrade when the time called for it, so for 2015, Ford bolted a larger turbo to the Power Stroke, bringing output to an insane 440 hp and 860 lb-ft of twist, all without reducing fuel efficiency. Maximum tow capacity rises from 24,700 lbs to an incredible 31,200 lbs for the F-450 dually.

As for GM's HDs? They lag behind the lot with their 6.6-liter Duramax V-8, producing 397 hp and 765 lb-ft of torque. Yeah, you know things are serious when the trucks with 765 lb-ft are the knock-kneed wimps of the lot.

Yet all this one-upmanship isn't as crystal-clear as the spec sheets would have you believe. Ford and Ram are currently involved in a pissing match over how these tow ratings are calculated, and the solution might not be arrived at without legal intervention. We prefer firsthand drive impressions over spec-sheet bench racing (towing?), so we headed to West Virginia to saddle up and ride.

Continue reading 2015 Ford F-Series Super Duty Power Stroke

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eBay Find Of The Day: 1988 Saleen Ford Mustang General Tire 21R race car

07/29/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Coupes, Auctions, Ford, Racing

1988 Ford Mustang Saleen 21R General Tire racecar auction

Saleen may be making headlines these days for working on the Tesla Model S, but its history and bread-and-butter is all about the Ford Mustang. The rear-wheel-drive Dearborn pony cars singlehandedly put the company on the map in the '80s. Founder Steve Saleen was already a talented American racing driver when he started the venture, and like many auto industry businesses before him, Saleen went to the track to prove his vehicles' worth. Now, there's a chance to buy one of those early racers on eBay Motors.

Saleen Mustangs raced in the Sports Car Club of America Escort Endurance Championship - a series of multi-hour races meant to challenge man and machine. Ostensibly a showroom stock class, the cars had larger wheels, tuned suspensions and other upgrades that stretched the concept slightly. Saleen found major success though, taking the championship for its class in 1987 and winning the 24 Hours of Mosport consecutively from 1986 through 1988.

According to the seller, Saleen only built eight of these cars, and this one carries the #21R serial number. They all started life as new Mustangs from Ford dealers but were immediately stripped and prepped to go racing. Beyond obvious mods like a roll cage, they featured eight-inch wide wheels in front, an inch of additional track width, stiffer suspension bushings and much more.

Saleen #21R is still in its well-known "Bumblebee" livery and includes its SCCA logbook, original wheels, a Saleen title, Steve's signature on the interior and many of the company's ID tags still on the car, according to the auction. It carries a Buy It Now of $65,000, and the auction ends on August 13. That's not cheap, but it would likely be quite a conversation piece whenever it arrived for a day at the track.

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Ford, Ram in heavy-duty towing spat

07/29/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Trucks/Pickups, Government/Legal, Ford, Ram

2015 Ford F-450

2014 Ram 3500Every pickup truck commercial has the brand trying to convince us that its model is the biggest, brawniest vehicle on the block. But Ford and Ram appear ready to really throw down the gauntlet and scrap over the towing figures for their heavy-duty models, and it could potentially end up in court.

The issue revolves around what it means to be best in class. Ford claims that its 2015 F-450 (pictured above) has a max tow rating of 31,200 pounds, compared to 30,000 pounds for the Ram 3500 (right). However, both companies market these heavy haulers as having the top towing in their class. According to Automotive News, Ford is threatening legal action if Ram doesn't back down.

The situation isn't as simple as just comparing the numbers, though. First, the two companies calculate their towing capacities differently. Ram adheres to the SAE J2807 rating, while Ford uses its own internal system. Although, as the company introduces new models, they are certified using the SAE standard. "When an all-new F-Series Super Duty is introduced, it also will use SAE J2807," said Ford to Autoblog in an emailed statement.

The second issue hinges on whether the F-450 and Ram 3500 are even in the same class at all. The "best-in-class" boast hinges on both trucks belonging to the Department of Transportation's Class 3 rules, stipulating that above a gross vehicle weight rating of 14,000 pounds, a model moves into Class 4. Ford claims that the F-450 has a GVWR of exactly that amount. However, according to Automotive News, the company removes the spare tire, tire jack and center console to reach that number.

Ford is sticking to its guns, though. "The 2015 F-450 pickup is a Class 3 (10,001 lbs. - 14,000 lbs. GVWR) dual rear-wheel, chassis-certified pickup truck," said the company in a statement emailed to Autoblog.

Although, Ram isn't changing course either. "Our best-in-class claim of 30,000 pounds of towing capacity for the 2014 Ram 3500 stands firm in the 350/3500 segment. Additionally, unlike our competitors, our new 2015 Ram 3500 will hold the title and weight capacity while adhering to the SAE J2807 towing test criteria," said Ram in a statement emailed to Autoblog.

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What you missed on 7.28.14

07/29/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Sedans/Saloons, Sports/GTs, Videos, Cadillac, Ford, Infiniti, Scion, Motorcycles, Special/Limited Editions, Luxury, MISC, Racing

Daily U-Turn

First Drive: Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge PrototypeInfiniti Q50 Eau Rouge prototype

It's quick - 0-60 in under four seconds. It's fast - top speed is estimated at around 186 miles per hour. And, rather surprisingly considering its status as a prototype, it drives pretty darn well. With a heart of gold borrowed from the Nissan GT-R mated to all-wheel-drive hung off a luxurious sedan chassis, this is one vehicle we openly beg and plead enters production. Soon.

Polaris Slingshot enters the fray on three wheelsPolaris Slingshot

The fact that it only has three wheels on which to stand means the government classifies the Polaris Slingshot as a motorcycle. That means you'll need an appropriate license to operate it, and it probably means you'll need to wear head and/or eye protection. But with an enviable power-to-weight ratio to go along with what's sure to be a thrilling drive experience, those may be small prices to pay. Speaking of which, this sucker will start just shy of $20,000.

Rain an equalizer at Hungarian Grand Prix2014 Hungarian Grand Prix

How thankful we are that rain doesn't keep these open-cockpit Formula 1 cars in the paddock. The 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix proved once again that changing weather conditions are one rather natural way of adding some excitement to the race track. Check out our full race recap for all the details of what went down in Hungary.

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