Today hottest/favourite autonews about auto makers (Hyundai, GM, Dodge, Chevy, Mercedes-BenzB, Cadillac, BMW, Toyota), photos/videos of supercars and from auto shows
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Is that a cannon in your Vespa or are you just happy to see me?

12/17/2006   [Original: Hemmings via Autoblog]
Category: Time Warp, Etc.

This scooter looks terribly exciting, till you learn that it needs Viagra. Sure, this Vespa Acma packs a badass barrel, but it was designed for transporting the cannons, not blasting other motorists. We wonder what the little 145cc engine would do when faced with the recoil, as well.

We'll admit that our French isn't what it once was, but the gist we took away from some research was that ACMA was a licensed assembler of Vespas in France and it was used by French Paratroopers in the late 1950s. The intimidation factor of puttering around on an "armed" Vespa would be fun. We're not sure how these looked on the battlefield though. We can't imagine that it'd be intimidating to see the troops roll in with olive drab Vespas. Even if they had a mortar barrel and shells on it, we think you'd surrender to laughter first. Apparently, though, these things were like the all-purpose little scooter that could. They even dropped them out of planes with parachutes. Still, it all smacks of something out of Monty Python to us, no matter how lethal. We also wonder if the riding posture is um, erect.

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Tron light cycle contest declares winners

04/14/2011   [Original: SideQuesting.com via Autoblog]
Category: Etc., Motorcycles, Design/Style

Side Questing Tron Light Cycle Design Contest Winner

SideQuesting Tron Light Cycle Design Contest - Click above for high-res image gallery

SideQuesting.com is a website focused on discussions about video games that decided to host a competition to see who among its readership could draw up the best Tron Light Cycle. The entries were received and the results are... well, they're pretty amazing.

Two winners were chosen, one from the United States and an International representative. John A. Frye took home the top spot among American artists with an appropriately American interpretation of a futuristic bike, while Raphael Laurent of Switzerland won the international prize. Each winner received a copy of the Art of Tron Legacy book and two Light Cycle toys.

We've assembled a gallery of the top eight submissions, but we think you should still go ahead and take a stroll through all of the submissions at SideQuesting.com. A variety of concepts are on display, and they range from jaw-dropping renders to beautiful hand-drawn sketches.

Gallery: Tron Light Cycle Design Contest by SideQuesting

Winner John A. Frye of South Pasadena, CaliforniaUS Honorable Mention Izaak MoodyUS Honorable Mention Vaughn LingUS Honorable Mention Chris GreazelInternational Winner Ralph Laurent of Switzerland

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Spotter's Guide makes sense of the 2012 Formula One grid

04/18/2012   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports

2012 Formula One spotter's guide

While the top four teams - you know, the ones that will be winning most if not all of the grands prix this year - have kept the same drivers, the same engines, the same sponsors and the same colors as last year, this year's Formula One World Championship has seen plenty of changes on the grid.

Lotus and Caterham have finally solved their naming-rights dispute, and both changed both of their drivers - including former World Champion Kimi Raikkonen coming back to F1. Scuderia Toro Rosso also dumped both its drivers, as did HRT, and Williams axed one Brazilian (Rubens Barrichello) for another (Bruno Senna). Virgin changed its name to Marussia, and Force India sold nearly half the team to Sahara.

Can't keep track of it all? Fortunately, YankeeF1 has provided us with spotter's guide for easy reference, showing each of the teams, its car and its drivers, plus a calendar of the grands prix this season and the color-coded tires. Keep it handy next race Sunday and you might just be able to make sense of it all.

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GM recalling another 1.3 million cars over power steering woes

04/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Recalls/TSBs, Safety, Chevrolet, GM, Pontiac, Saturn

Chevrolet HHR

GM power steering recall chartWhen it rains, it pours. General Motors has announced yet another major recall, covering 1.3 million units in the American market over concerns that their power steering could suddenly fail. As reported by The Detroit News' David Shepardson, GM has now recalled nearly ten times as many cars as it did all of last year.

It's important to note that should this problem arise in these cars, the steering won't fail completely, however, power steering could suddenly stop functioning. Manual steering would still be possible, but as GM says, there's an increased risk of accidents, particularly at lower speeds.

Like the ignition switch recall, this latest problem covers a wide range of vehicles from Chevrolet, Saturn and Pontiac. Normally, we'd give you the full rundown in paragraph form, but the variety of models and model years means a list is just easier. So, have a look, directly from GM's press release:

"Chevrolet Malibu: All model year 2004 and 2005, and some model year 2006 and model year 2008 and 2009 vehicles

Chevrolet Malibu Maxx: All model year 2004 and 2005, and some 2006 model year

Chevrolet HHR (Non-Turbo): Some model year 2009 and 2010 vehicles

Chevrolet Cobalt: Some model year 2010 vehicles

Saturn Aura: Some model year 2008 and 2009 vehicles

Saturn Ion: All model year 2004 to 2007 vehicles

Pontiac G6: All model year 2005, and some model year 2006 and model year 2008 and 2009 vehicles"

In addition to those cars, 309,160 HHRs from 2006 to 2008 and 96,324 Saturn Ions from 2003 will get lifetime warranties for their power steering motors.

"With these safety recalls and lifetime warranties, we are going after every car that might have this problem, and we are going to make it right," Jeff Boyer, GM's new vice president of global vehicle safety said in a statement. "We have recalled some of these vehicles before for the same issue and offered extended warranties on others, but we did not do enough."

Scroll down for the full press release from GM.

Continue reading GM recalling another 1.3 million cars over power steering woes

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Porsche, Hyundai and GM impress in J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, Fiat and Jeep don't

06/19/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Buick, Chevrolet, Chrysler, GM, GMC, Hyundai, Jaguar, Jeep, Kia, Porsche, FIAT, Ram

Porsche badge

JD Power IQSConsumers continue to struggle with the advanced user interfaces and technologies being fitted to new cars, according to the latest J.D. Power Initial Quality Study. Overall, the industry average for problems per 100 vehicles climbed three percent, to 116 issues reported in the first 90 days of ownership.

Vehicles from the General Motors' family were dominant, with Buick, Chevrolet and GMC capturing more individual IQS segment awards than any other manufacturer. Despite its well-publicized issues, six GM vehicles (Buick Encore, Chevrolet Malibu, Chevy Silverado HD, Chevy Suburban, GMC Terrain and GMC Yukon) were given IQS awards for their respective segments.

Hyundai was ranked the best overall mass-market brand, with just 94 issues in every 100 vehicles reported in the first 90 days. Parent Hyundai Motor Company, meanwhile, trailed GM with five vehicles winning their segments, including the Hyundai Accent, Elantra and Genesis, as well as the Kia Cadenza and Sportage.

On the premium end of the scale, Porsche was tops for the second year in a row, with just 74 issues per 100 vehicles. Not only was it the best premium brand, it had the best score of any marque surveyed. Weirdly, it was followed by Jaguar, which handily topped quality stalwart Lexus, with just 87 problems per 100 vehicles (don't worry, Jag's sister company, Land Rover, still finished well below the industry average).

While Land Rover was its usual disappointing self when it comes to the IQS, Fiat easily took the crown as the worst performer overall. Owners of the diminutive Italian cars reported 206 problems per 100 vehicles during the first 90 days of ownership. Yes, that works out to over two problems per vehicle within the first three months. In fact, Fiat Chrysler Automobile's brands did rather poorly in general ­- Jeep was the second worst brand, with 146 issues while Dodge had 124. Ram matched the industry average, while Chrysler was the only FCA brand to finish above the industry average.

You can take a look at the full release of results from J.D. Power, available below. You can also click the inset image for a graphical breakdown of this year's IQS.

Continue reading Porsche, Hyundai and GM impress in J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, Fiat and Jeep don't

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Wish You Were Here: Japan's Chevrolet MW

07/10/2006   [Original: Suzuki Japan (translated) via Autoblog]
Category: Minivans/MPVs, Japan, Chevrolet, GM, Suzuki

Chevrolet MW (Japan)

If it was sold here, it could give the Scion xB a run for its money. it's boxy, it's cool, and it's Japanese-branding has credibility. The vehicle I'm talking about is the Chevrolet MW, a rebadged Suzuki Wagon R.

From the looks of things, the MW is positioned as an upmarket compact wagon -- the leather seats and snazzy take on the Wagon R interior are the visual indicators that this is the case. The regular Wagon R and the slick-looking Wagon RR variant make do with the cloth seats generally found in the cars that make up this segment.

The upmarket nature is also on display underhood. Suzuki's M13A 1.3L 4-cylinder rests in the MW's engine bay. It's good for 88 horsepower and is hooked up to a 4-speed automatic. The Wagon Rs are kei cars so they must make use of Suzuki's 660cc 3-cylinder in either normally-aspirated (50 hp) or turbocharged (64 hp) form.

The interior is pretty flexible, with the folding seats and numerous storage nooks that are par for the course in these types of Japanese mini-wagons.

The MW is a neat little package that we'll sadly never see here. First off, the Wagon R is a right-hand-drive car. Secondly, GM has sold off most of its stake in Suzuki anyway, and each automaker seems to be heading in its own direction. To that effect, Suzuki has announced it will cease importation of the Chevy Trailblazer and Optra (Forenza) Wagon.

Too bad, this is one Chevy-badged import that would likely have connected with people here in the U.S.

In the world of automotive forbidden fruit, the Chevrolet MW is a tempting little apple, indeed.

Update: Reader PaulN points out in the comments that the Wagon R is available in LHD as well. The Opel Agila is a Wagon R rebadge. Hope springs eternal! Thanks for the correction, Paul.

(More Pics after the jump)

Chevrolet MWChevrolet MWChevrolet MWChevrolet MWChevrolet MWChevrolet MW

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Demystifying nitrous oxide, Part II

08/16/2006   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Aftermarket, Tech

In the previous installment of this series, we discussed the function of nitrous oxide on a theoretical level. Now it's time to take a look at the hardware that is required to successfully employ nitrous as a power adder.

Most nitrous users will start with a kit, the thoroughness of which varies with manufacturer and the intended application. Let's take a look at a direct-port kit for a 4-cylinder application from Nitrous Oxide Systems that we happened to have laying around the garage.

The nitrous is stored in liquid form at a relatively high pressure (around 1000 PSI, depending on temperature) in a tank, which is more commonly referred to as a "bottle". It's constructed of high-quality aluminum, and also has a high-flow valve assembly to shut off the flow of nitrous when not in use, as well as a blow-off valve to allow the nitrous to escape if an overpressure situation occurs.

It's important to mount the bottle securely in the vehicle and to treat it with extreme care when outside the vehicle, as damage to it or the valve could cause an explosive release of pressure.

Insulating blankets or heaters are often used to keep the bottle at a consistant temperature, which in turn provides a predictable pressure.

The high pressure of nitrous requires robust lines and fittings. Teflon hoses, protected in braided stainless-steel sheathing, are the norm. A separate set of lines is used to bring fuel into the system.

Most nitrous systems will use "AN" fittings (designed by the US Army and Navy, hence the abbreviated name) to join hoses to other components. Compression fittings and tapered pipe thread are also commonly encountered. Information on the sizing of AN and pipe fittings can be found here; most basic nitrous systems will employ AN-4 and 1/8" NPT fittings.

Hoses can be purchased in pre-selected lengths with the proper fittings assembled on the ends, or the materials can be obtained in the bulk form and custom fabricated using normal hand tools and some patience.

Solenoid valves control the operation of the nitrous system. When 12V is applied to the electromagnet coils, the valves open, which allows fuel and nitrous to flow into the engine's induction path.

In this case, the solenoids for the nitrous are identified with a blue label, while those for the fuel have a red label. It's important to use the appropriate solenoid, as the valve seats are different. When running alcohol (methanol racing fuel, not E85 pump fuel), most manufacturers will require the use of a special corrosion-resistant fuel solenoid.

To a large extent, the quality and flow characteristics of the solenoids will determine the pricing of a kit. Lower-end kits will use smaller solenoids which are often adapted from fountain soft-drink dispensers, while higher-end kits use custom assemblies that are more robust and capable of higher flow rates.

The fuel solenoids shown above have a fuel filter installed to protect the valve seat from contamination. A filter is also sometimes employed on the nitrous solenoids. The likelihood of getting contamination on the nitrous side is minimal, but the consequences of having a piece of debris holding open the valve would be quite severe.

There are several ways in which to inject the nitrous and fuel into the intake tract; the nozzles shown here are among the most versatile and economical, requiring only a hole that is tapped with 1/8" NPT threads and approximately 3" of clearance in the mounting area. Plates that go under a carb or throttle body are also commonly employed, and some applications use custom throttle bodies or mass airflow sensor housings that contain the necessary flow paths. Direct-port systems place a nozzle, such as these, in the intake manifold port. This allows for more even fuel distribution, but complicates the install.

The amount of additional power provided by the nitrous system is determined by one or more jets, shown above. These have a small and accurately-machined orifice that will pass a particular mass flow rate at a given pressure. With the nitrous jet selected to provide the desired amount of additional horsepower, a fuel jet is chosen to supply sufficient enrichment to maintain a survivable air-fuel ratio (typically in the range of 12:1 or thereabouts).

Since the jet orifices are so small (the ones above are 0.020" to 0.030"), it's extremely important to keep them clean, which means it's probably not a good idea to set them on a dirty tractor fender.

A basis kit will use a momentary switch to activate the nitrous system upon the driver's comment. A well-protected "master arming" switch is highly advised, and the use of a keyed switch is recommended if the vehicle is operated by other drivers. Relays are used to provide high current to the solenoids, which allows the use of lighter-duty (and consequently smaller) switches, as well as somewhat simplifying the wiring.

Since nitrous should only be used at wide open throttle (WOT), a switch (shown to the left in the above shot) is usually mounted to the throttle linkage and closes only when the throttle is fully applied. Some modern systems replace this switch with a piece of electronics that monitors the signal from the throttle position sensor; indeed, on a vehicle with electronic throttle control (throttle-by-wire), such a system is the only practical solution. For vehicles with manual transmissions, it's also advisable to use a clutch-activated switch to shut off the system during shifts, especially for those that like to powershift.

Not shown is a fuel pressure cutoff switch, which is a normally-open switch that closes only when sufficient fuel pressure is present. This will help protect the engine from fuel starvation if a pump fails or a filter gets clogged.

There are other precautions that are wise to take into consideration when setting up a nitrous system. For example, the use of nitrous at low engine speeds (roughly defined as lower than halfway to redline) is not recommended, as excessive cylinder pressures and damaging backfires can occur. Additionally, it's also usually desirable to turn off the nitrous system before the shift point, or before a rev limiter is encountered (especially if said limiter is of the fuel-cutoff variety). To accomplish this, an RPM activated switch is used to control the on and off points (a device incorporating both a low and high cutoff is referred to as a "window switch").

It's also desirable to retard the timing, due to the increased cylinder pressures. This can be done via an adjustment to the PCM (or distributor, if you're old school), but a better method is to use a retard box that only pulls out timing when the nitrous system is activated. Do not depend on a vehicle's knock sensor to pull timing during the use of nitrous, for it cannot pull enough timing or do it quickly enough to save the engine if detonation occurs.

Finally, if your vehicle is equipped with the type of rev limiter that shuts off fuel at redline, it's a great idea to eliminate that system and go with an ignition-cut limiter. While it's a bad idea to hit any sort of limiter while spraying nitrous, it's especially bad to cut off part of the fuel flow (which is exactly what happens when the PCM intervenes during the operation of a wet-type system).

The above features can be incorporated via discrete modules, or an all-in-one ignition box - such as the Mallory HyFire VI shown above - can be used. Some vehicles will also benefit from the hotter spark that is provided by an aftermarket box, although modern ignition systems are indeed difficult to improve upon.

The combination of a high-quality kit, modern electronics, and the right engine and vehicle modifications provides enthusiasts with the ability to implement a nitrous system in a safe and effective manner. Obviously, the optimal set-up will vary from one vehicle to another, so we suggest doing some serious research before handing over your hard-earned money.

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RR of the Day: 1988 Chrysler Conquest TSI

10/10/2006   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Chrysler, Mitsubishi, RR of the Day

Before the Supra Turbo, the Impreza or the EVO, there was the Starion, or, if you opted for the domestic nameplate, the Chrysler Conquest. This initial bit of tasty, Japanese, turbocharged deliciousness was available between 1982 and 1990 and it played a substantial role in laying the foundation for future high performance imports.

The history of the Starion and its domestic counterparts is well documented in the annals of the internet, so we'll just give you the nitty-gritty. The Starion/Conquest was a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive coupe, equipped with MacPherson struts in the front and a fully independent rear suspension. In Japan, the Starion was home to the venerable 4G63, 2-liter inline four, which shares the same designation with EVOs of today. However, for the U.S. market, the Conquest was fitted with a G54B, 2.6-liter four that made the same amount of power, but lacked dual-overhead cams. There were a few combinations of turbocharger and intercooler, but most U.S. models produced power figures somewhere in the 150-170 HP range.

This particular example is owned by Flickr member RAVDesigns, who seems to have poured his heart, soul, blood and pocketbook into making this one of the more potent examples of early-modern, turbocharged bliss. The engine was torn down to the block, balanced, stuffed with Wiseco forged pistons and rebuilt with a host of new parts. A custom intake and exhaust were fitted, along with a TDO6-17C turbo, three-inch turbo back exhaust, intercooler with custom plumbing and Blitz BOV. Orchestration duties fall onto a Hawk programmable ECU.

The stock suspension was tossed in favor of Ground Control coilovers and Eibach springs, along with 4-way adjustable KYB shocks. Suspension Techniques front and rear sway bars were fitted, along with both front and rear strut braces. RAVDesigns didn't disclose what rubber is wrapping the 17" Work Equip wheels, but we're assuming he goes through tires so quickly, he can't keep track.

You can find a full list of the mods after the jump along with a shot of the engine bay.

If you'd like to see your own ride featured here, simply upload photos of your ride into our Flickr group. We select one image to highlight each week day, and on the weekend let you vote for the RR of the Week. Detailed instructions can be found after the jump.

Engine:

G54B 2.6L I4

Rebuilt, balanced, with "balancing shafts" removed

Wiseco forged pistons

New: crank, rods, timing chain, oil pump, water pump, starter, and alternator

Fidanza aluminum flywheel

A/C removed

Custom Australian "Magna" MPI intake w/ 750cc injectors

Custom "log" header

GMC Syclone/Typhoon TDO6-17C turbo

Isuzu NPR FMIC

Custom IC pipes by JMFabrications.com

Blitz BOV

"Joe P" MBC

Turbo-back 3" mandrel bent exhaust w/ Magnaflow muffler

Hawk fully programmable fuel/ignition ECU

Zeitronix Wideband O2 sensor w/ display

MSD 6A ignition box

Magnecor wires

Suspension:

Ground Control coilovers w/ custom rate Eibach springs

KYB AGX 4-way adjustable shocks

Rear camber plates

F & R Strut braces

Suspension Techniques F & R Anti-Sway bars

Interior/Electronics:

Momo Jet steering wheel

Defi Display/Computer/Boost gauge

Custom carbon fiber dash inserts

1G DSM shift knob

JVC 3-disc cd changer headunit

Exterior/Wheels:

1983 Starion hood

Cleared & tinted front turnsignals and fog lenses

Work Equip 17"

How to submit to RR of the Day:

Create a Flickr account if you don't already have one. Search for and join the group called 'Autoblog RR of the Day'. Upload up to three photos of your ride to your own account at a size no larger than 450 pixels wide if possible and include as much information about it and yourself as possible. Even if your ride is sweet, it will not be chosen if there's not a lot of info accompanying it. Click on each photo and just above the picture it will say "Send to group". Click that and select the Autoblog group. You're done, that's it!

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Mitsubishi may build supercharged Galant for Aussies

10/26/2006   [Original: Drive.com.au via Autoblog]
Category: Concept Cars, Sedans/Saloons, Mitsubishi, Misc. Auto Shows

click on image to enlarge

The Mitsubishi 380 sold in Australia is basically a version of the Galant sedan sold in North America with a few minor styling tweaks. The car's share the same 3.8-liter MIVEC V6 from which the Australian version gets its name, which is why we're so jealous of the Australian market after seeing this 380 TMR concept being shown off at the Sydney Motor Show. The 380 TMR features a supercharged version of the MIVEC 3.8-liter V6 that produces 308 horsepower and 326 ft-lbs. of torque, which are scary numbers indeed for a front-wheel drive sedan, but assuredly entertaining, as well. Aside from the hopped-up engine, the TMR, which stands for Team Mitsubishi Ralliart, includes six-piston front and four-piston rear brakes developed by Ralliart, a ride height lowered 50mm on adjustable Koni shocks, and 19-inch wheels bound with Goodyear Eagle F1 rubber. Styling is amped up with a new hood that sports twin scoops and aggressive body kit, while Recaro seats and a Fujitsu sound system are new additions to the interior.

Mitsubishi is seriously considering offering the TMR 380 to its Australian customers in one form or another, either as a two-tier model range with a lower-spec example sporting all the visuals and a top end version that adds the supercharged motor. The automaker might also make the components used to build the TMR 380 available as individual accessories. The business case seems solid, as Mitsubishi has already received orders for the car after it was seen on the internet.

Knowing that the 3.8-liter V6 powering the 380 is available in the U.S.-spec Galant, we're groaning out loud that this supercharged version wasn't offered in the Galant Ralliart. The Galant Ralliart sold here has a normally aspirated 258-horsepower version of the same engine that routs power through a 5-speed automatic. While 258-horsepower is nothing to scoff at, scoff we shall since more powerful motors are offered by the Galant's competition in models that are bereft of much sporting intent. The Toyota Camry's 3.5-liter V6, for instance, produces 268 horsepower, and it doesn't have a TRD badge on the back. It seems Australians have even more power lust than us in North America, and Mitsubishi is happy to feed their need.

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Twin-engine Lupo answers unasked question

06/20/2007   [Original: Caradisiac via Autoblog]
Category: Tuner Tuesdays, Economy, Etc., Euro, Volkswagen

Click image for 14-pic gallery of this loco Lupo

The VW Lupo is a decent car. Sporty even in some cases. But adding Porsche Turbo brakes and 18" OZ rims seems a tad over the top. That is, until you see that big V6 poking out through the hood cutout. We can't imagine how nose-heavy this little runabout is with that lump out front, but fortunately we don't have to. The creators decided to take a novel approach to counter that weight over the front axle. They put another VW V6 in back. One powers the front wheels, the other powers the rears. Makes the roll cage an entirely logical addition now.

The Google translation from the original French helps us understand nothing more than that the builder wanted a little more zip in his Lupo and decided to use a Golf V6. But that wasn't quite peppy enough, so he thought of turbocharging the car. That seemed too expensive and so he went the twin-engine route. That makes about as much sense to us as it does to you. Although we haven't built many projects like this ourselves, sometimes you wonder what possesses people to spend so much time and energy on a vehicle with shortcomings that will require untold hours and dollars to remedy. And then we realize that it doesn't really matter what we think. This guy (or gal) decided this is what he wanted to do, and did it. That's probably why there's only one seat inside. More power to him. Literally.

Gallery: 12-cylinder VW Lupo

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