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Detroit 2008: Chrysler 300C Hollywood limo

01/15/2008   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Etc., Chrysler, Lifestyle

click above for more high-res images of the Chrysler 300C Hollywood limo

Despite no longer being owned by Daimler, Chrysler LLC's display area at the 2008 North American International Auto Show in Detroit is still right across the aisle from its former parent company. That means the Chrysler 300C Hollywood limousine comes face to face with the oddly similar Maybach Landaulet with every revolution of its turnstile. Like the Landaulet, the 300C Hollywood also features a partially exposed cabin, but this time over the front seats rather than the rears. The fully-enclosed rear passenger cabin is accessed by two large suicide doors and features plenty of leg room thanks to its chassis stretch. There's also a repository for three bottles of Cristal (or whatever bottled spirits you prefer to imbibe) and two flutes in between the seats. Meanwhile, the driver is left to convene with Mother Nature and her elements up front where the interior luxe is decidedly lesser.

In fact, the 300C Hollywood limo becomes much more interesting when you look at it through a socio-polical lens. It's clear where the Haves and the Have Nots are supposed to sit, with a nice partition in between them to keep the classes separated. OK, perhaps we should just pop open a bottle of Cristal and stop reading into it too much.

There's no press release from Chrysler for this one, just a gallery of high-res pics below to browse.

Gallery: Chrysler 300C Hollywood limo

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Chairman says BMW will make 100,000 electric vehicles a year by 2020

03/20/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: EV/Plug-in, Hydrogen, Manufacturing/Plants, BMW

BMW i3

We know demand for the BMW i3 has been high, both in the US and Europe. It appears that BMW's crystal ball is showing a steady increase in interest between now and 2020. By that year, according to Norbert Reithofer, chairman of the board of management for BMW AG, the company expects to build 100,000 units a year. That's not quite as EVs many as Tesla is talking about for 2020 (500,000), but it would represent quite an increase from the roughly 20,000 units that the best-selling plug-in vehicles moved in 2013.

Reithofer told Automotive News that plug-in vehicle production would steadily increase by 2018 before hitting full stride at the end of the decade. He also made sure to clarify that there was external pressure to make 100,000 EVs a year: "we will be forced to build them in a six digits figure to comply with stricter emission rules."

The plug-in electric vehicles are just one part of BMW's effort to reduce emissions. In prepared remarks delivered at the company's annual accounts press conference (available in full below), Reithofer said, "Customer demand [for i3] is exceeding our expectations. ... We believe the electric motor is a future technology for zero-emission driving in urban areas. Battery technology will continue to progress. ... When it comes to emission-free long-distance driving, however, electric cars featuring hydrogen fuel cell technology offer great potential." He didn't say how many fuel cell cars BMW expects to make and sell in 2020, but BMW's collaboration with Daimler and Renault-Nissan is supposed to launch the "world's first affordable, mass-market fuel cell electric vehicles as early as 2017."

Continue reading Chairman says BMW will make 100,000 electric vehicles a year by 2020

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R&T chases down a burglar in the million-mile Miata

08/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Time Warp, Convertibles, Economy, Sports/GTs, Mazda, Read This

Road and Track Million-Mile Miata

Is the answer always Mazda Miata? We discussed this in passing on the Autoblog Podcast earlier this week, and most assuredly the answer is "no." For example, the little MX-5 would be a terrible people carrier, and it'd be useless off road. You can't really tow anything of substance with it, either. Still, if push came to shove, it's satisfying to know that the diminutive roadster could eke out a career as a chase vehicle for the police.

That fact was proven when Road & Track editor Chris Cantle did something that he himself recognizes as "stupid." Upon returning home, Cantle discovered a "twenty-something" actively burgling his home. The resulting story is easily one of the more entertaining episodes to come out of the 1990 MX-5's service to the team at R&T and, we're guessing, will be one of the highlights of the Million-Mile Miata challenge.

Be sure to head over to Road & Track for a full retelling of the chase from Cantle, as well as a follow-up on the saga.

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Audi A8's active suspension will even protect you in a crash

06/22/2017   [Original: Autoblog]

Filed under: Videos,Audi,Emerging Technologies,Technology,Sedan,Luxury It also helps ride and handling.Continue reading Audi A8's active suspension will even protect you in a crash Audi A8's active suspension will even protect you in a crash originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 22 Jun 2017 14:00:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
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Autoblog Podcast #71

07/19/2007   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Podcasts, Spy Photos, Trends, RR of the Day

We're shooting from the hip this week for Podcast #71. Rather than prepare, we're going with gut reactions. Starting it off, we mull over the loss of the USGP from Indianapolis, and postulate on where else F1 may pop up in the US. An F1 race on the Vegas strip would be the bomb. Staying with motorsports, we marvel at how Team SARD spanked everyone extremely hard at Tokachi with a hybridized Supra GT. We're sure that racing will improve the hybrid breed at a much steeper pace than conventional powerplants. In other racing news, Dale Junior has split from Budweiser, so he'll have new livery to plaster all over his left-turn machine.

Moving on from racing, we ponder the leakage and eventual announcement of the Porsche 911 GT2. It's as unassuming as a Porsche can get, but it packs 530 horsepower and uses the rear wheels to push top speed to the 200 MPH realm, while being a docile everyday car. While Porsches always make us giddy little schoolboys, Subaru's recent model line revisions have us alternating between cheers and jeers. The good: the Legacy SUS, or whatever the heck they call their Outback sedan is kaput. The bad: so is the straight Legacy wagon. We devolve into a styling review of Subaru's new corporate language for a while before surfacing again to discuss the inanity surrounding presidential candidates and hybrid vehicles. Idiocy, 'nuff said.

On a lighter note, we discuss the rumored sequel to Disney/Pixar's "Cars." Not surprising when you consider how lucrative the tie-ins usually are. Off entertainment and on to entertaining cars, we ogle the leaked pictures of the FPV Falcon, and discuss the future plans of that platform here in the US. It does look mean, so thanks to that janitor who picked these renderings out of the trash. Our pithy cavalcade keeps rolling along, and we chew over Bob Lutz's latest comments about the future of diesel powerplants in the US. It's odd that Bob is cool on diesel just as GM is poised to roll out new oil-burners. Wrapping up, we put out the call to action again for the Reader Ride - add your pix to the Flickr pool and include details! The hour duration of Podcast #71 will give you enjoyment to and from work, enjoy!

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Bugatti releases new palette for Veyron Hermes

08/29/2008   [Original: Bugatti via Autoblog]
Category: Supercars, Bugatti, Brabus, Special/Limited Editions

Click above for hi-res gallery of the Bugatti Veyron Fbg par Hermes

We know what you're thinking, because we're in the same lamentable position ourselves: you'd totally order up that uber-exclusive Hermes edition Veyron, but you're not a big fan of the brown and tan paint scheme. Fortunately Bugatti has heard your cries, brother, and announced the availability of new color options for the Veyron Fbg.

The announcement actually came from Monterey but was quickly overshadowed, somewhat ironically, by the unveiling of the open-top Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport and the subsequent auction of its first example for $3.2 million. The unveiling of the new-tint Hermes Veyrons took place at the Quail motorsport gathering on Monterey Peninsula, where Bugatti revealed the four new color schemes available: "indigo blue and vermilion", "indigo blue and lime green", " black and garance red" and "Prussian blue and blue jean". We're not entirely sure what all these colors are, exactly, and given that Bugatti put them in quotation marks, we're not sure they're sure, either. They undoubtedly would have shown us pictures of all four, but given that these 1.5 million euro hyper-exotics are made to order and available only from the end of the year, we doubt examples of each color option have been made yet. Of course they all come decked out with the H-pattern grille, eight-spoke wheels, lavish calfskin interior and exclusive package of specially-made Hermes luggage.

Follow the jump for all the details, and check out the gallery below to see the new black and "garance red" Veyron Fbg par Hermes, which we like to call the "Autoblog Edition".

Gallery: New Colors: Bugatti Veyron Fbg par Hermes

Continue reading Bugatti releases new palette for Veyron Hermes

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Kia bigwig reportedly says mass-produced fuel cell cars would cost $50,000 if made today

07/24/2009   [Original: Galway Independent via

Kia Borrego FCEV - Click above for high-res image gallery

Let's face it: Hydrogen technology still has a ways to go before there's any real chance that we'll all be driving fuel cell cars in lieu of electric or fossil fuel-burning machines. Chief among the issues confronting the widespread adoption of hydrogen for automotive use is manufacturing cost, though that obstacle is currently being worked on. According to Byung Ki-Ahn, general manager of Kia's Mabuk-ri site, "Even if we were producing 50,000 fuel cell cars a year, they would currently have to cost $50,000 each."

While it would be easy for hydrogen proponents to latch on to this statement as good news - and, if true, that pricing is considerably better than we would have predicted - there's more to overcome than just the pricey fuel cell stack. For instance, even if Kia were indeed building 50,000 fuel cell cars per year, there would need to be an adequate infrastructure to support those vehicles. Further, a low cost and eco-friendly process for capturing, storing and transporting large amounts of hydrogen still needs to be developed.

Regardless, it's clear that Kia, along with corporate cousin Hyundai, believe these issues will be worked out in time. When asked where the Korean automaker currently sits on a production-ready hydrogen vehicle, Ki-Ahn said, "On a scale of one to 10, I'd say we we're at six or seven. Before 2020, many people will be hearing about fuel cell vehicles made by Hyundai-Kia."

Gallery: Kia Borrego FCEV

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2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser Ultimate Edition

07/10/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Trucks/Pickups, Toyota, Off-Road, Quick Spin

2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser Ultimate Edition

Introduced at the end of 2006, this is the last year for the Toyota FJ Cruiser, the reincarnated FJ40-series Land Cruiser that will shortly journey to Takama-ga-hara, the Plain of High Heaven. In its first model year, we drove it to SEMA and found it, shall we say, coarse. It bobbled on the freeway and droned in the cabin, its boxy interior providing four bounce-boards for unpleasant frequencies. Tall mirrors helped one work around the eclipse of vision aft of the B-pillars, but navigating traffic required forethought and technique. Its turning circle was measured in kilometers. For the first two years of its life, it needed premium gas. It may have been fun to look at, but we couldn't wait to get out of it.

That's not the case anymore, and now the FJ Cruiser is poised to join a long list of vehicles that got better and better, then got axed.

Driving Notes

  • The current FJ is rugged, and surprisingly it's not really all that coarse dynamically. We drove into the California desert, spent nearly a week playing around off-road, drove it back and then did a lazy Sunday drive to Santa Barbara, all in amiable comfort. That could have to do with our Ultimate Edition being fitted lots of Toyota Racing Development parts, like the TRD coils wrapped about Bilstein shocks affixed to handsome 16-inch TRD wheels on 265/75 R16 BF Goodrich All Terrain T/A tires. The bellow from the TRD-engraved tailpipe is totally copacetic at steady throttle, but gets a touch frenzied if you bury the accelerator.
  • Moving is not a problem, though. The 4.0-liter V6 puts out 260 horsepower and 271 pound-feet, not a raging amount of go for a 4,343-pound truck, but plenty to do whatever you need to do as long as you remember you're in an SUV. (When the FJ first came along, it had 239 hp / 278 lb-ft).
  • Beyond its quadratic styling - that we still think looks good - the FJ remains full of quirks, like the three miniature windshield wipers, the sun visors for the side windows, the backup camera screen in the rearview mirror, the fact it's available in two-wheel drive and, on the 4x4 versions, with a six-speed manual transmission.
  • It still feels like Toyota knew this was only going to be a fling and not a love story, so it didn't lavish its heart nor its wallet on the relationship. The FJ Cruiser only ever received incremental improvements, the interior is barely different now than it was in 2007. You can't get factory navigation or automatic climate control, the audio system's dot matrix and glowing orange display take us back to 90s-era Sony Walkmans, and the giant HVAC dials are useful for those who wear wearing welder's gloves while they drive.
  • The interior is likely a big part of the reason sales have declined from more than 56,000 in its first year to just over 13,000 for the last two years. It can't be the off-road ability - the FJ digs dirt like hippos love mud. In addition to the trail-specific suspension, there's a two-speed transfer case, locking rear differential, hill descent control, a quarter-inch aluminum skid plate and rock rails outside, the triptych of compass, clock and inclinometer completing the feature set inside. It will do its fair share of rock crawling, and it will happily dine on rocky stretches of desert and covers pure desert ground with the calm of an ostrich.
  • We'd take the manual, preferring to have full control in the tricky bits, but the five-speed automatic puts on a good performance.
  • Many complain about interior room, but we didn't find it problematic. Once you get past the shoebox ambience, it's easy to get in through the giant front doors, and although your grandfather might make a mess of getting into the back seats, we couldn't see how it would be a problem for anyone purchasing the FJ Cruiser for its intended purpose - off-roading. Open the rear-hinged back doors, slide the front seats up, haul in. A deep cutout in the back of the front seat left swinging-knee room for us, and that was with the front seat as far back as it would go. Bonus points for the genuinely adjustable armrest on the driver's seat, a feature we're not used to seeing outside of a Land Rover.
  • There are only 2,500 Ultimate Edition FJ Cruisers on offer this year, all in Heritage Blue and sporting the white headlight surround mimicking the FJ40 face that launched a squillion off-road adventures.
With the Hummer H3 gone and the FJ Cruiser in hospice, the Jeep Wrangler will once again be left alone in the US market as the ideal post-nuclear, go-anywhere truck for the misanthropic survivalist. One of the most popular games in the off-road party is to take sides as vehemently as Union and Confederate when it comes to one's choice in rig, but no matter which side you're on the party is a lot more fun when there's more choice. For that reason and more, and turning 180 degrees from our first experience in 2006, we say it's a shame the FJ has to go.
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eBay Find Of The Day: 1946 Tucker Torpedo Prototype II hides a secret Riviera

07/10/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Time Warp, Coupes, Auctions, Buick

1946 Tucker Torpedo Prototype Replica

The Tucker Torpedo is one of the great what-if stories of automotive history. Preston Tucker hoped to revolutionize the industry with a car unlike any other on the road at the time. However, due to a variety of problems, he only managed build 51 vehicles before closing shop. Over time, they have become highly sought-after; In 2012, one sold for $2.65 million at auction.

That brings us to this Tucker "replica" that you see above because it might be one of the ugliest monstrosities ever put together. However, we might extend some leniency to the creator, as the vehicle isn't actually trying to replicate the classic look of the 1948 Tucker Torpedo. Instead, it is attempting to reproduce an earlier prototype from 1946 that actually features that weird, trident nose. According to the seller, his uncle built the car as a labor of love and supposedly used actual plans from Tucker as inspiration.

Underneath all of the crazy changes is a 1971 Buick Riviera powered by a 455-cubic-inch (7.5-liter) Buick V8. Some of the replica's odder modifications include the front fenders that turn with the wheels and the fin running down the back. All three headlights work, but the one in the middle is only for the high beams. Oddly, the small hinged sections on the roof are meant to open to avoid hitting your head when getting in or out. Maybe the seller's uncle was a very tall guy?

According to the eBay auction, the car does run but definitely needs some restoration, as well. It appears to be reasonably popular, though. As of this writing, it has 18 bids with a price of $7,300 with the reserve not yet met. Bidding ends on July 15.

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Porsche acquires Kyalami race track at auction

07/28/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Porsche, Earnings/Financials


With more victories under its belt than any other manufacturer, you could say, in a figurative sense at least, that Porsche owns countless numbers of race tracks around the world. But here we're not talking about figuratively owning a track - we're talking about literally buying one. And Porsche has just bought Kyalami.

Kylamai, for those unfamiliar, is a grand prix circuit near Johannesburg in South Africa. Between 1967 and 1985, and again in '92 and '93, it was home to the South African Grand Prix, and has since hosted a variety of local and lower-level international races, but apparently fell on hard times. As a result, the track's owners - listed as Universal Property Professionals - put it up for auction. Bidders had to deposit four million Rand (about $380k) to participate, but after just 50 seconds, the auction was over.

The winning bid was placed - via telephone from the local press launch for the Macan - by Porsche South Africa CEO Toby Venter, who bid a reported 205 million rand (about $19.5 million) to take over the complex. The German automaker's South African division reportedly intends to keep the track open for racing, but could also be expected to use the facility for testing, customer track days and such moving forward.

It would not be the only track, after all, owned by a Porsche - even if the South African option is owned and operated independently of the German automaker and its holding company. The factory at Leipzig has its own test track on premises, there's another one in the works for the company's new US headquarters in Atlanta, Porsche Engineering owns the Nardo high-speed test track in Germany and there's probably a few more we're forgetting about, not to mention facilities like Ehra-Lessien which Porsche effectively owns through its 50+ percent stake in the Volkswagen Group.

Porsche also has a number of customer experience centers opening at tracks around the world - including LA, Atlanta, Silverstone and Le Mans - and given the new acquisition, we wouldn't be surprised to see it set one up at Kyalami as well.

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