[Autoblog] 14 New Entries: Dave Barry sums up 2008, Detroit 3 included

Dave Barry sums up 2008, Detroit 3 included

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2008 is at an end, and while the editorial pages of some newspapers spend the final days of December focusing on ways to further burden taxpayers and foment interstate hostility, the Washington Post Magazine has, thankfully, handed several pages over to Dave Barry who, as usual, makes the events of the past year actually seem funny. This includes car-related stuff like the farcical Detroit bailout proceedings, which often bordered on satire. Fortunately, Barry knows exactly how to handle that sort of thing, and does so much in the same way David Ortiz handles a hanging curveball with runners in scoring position. Hilarity ensues on many fronts, except maybe inside the executive boardrooms of GM and Chrysler, the latter of which earns mention in Dave's June summary with, "In economic news, Chrysler announces a plan to lay off workers who have not been born yet." This year-end recap is best appreciated as a whole, however, so if you're in a mood to lighten things up this afternoon, head over to the WaPo and just read the whole thing.

[Source: The Washington Post]

Dave Barry sums up 2008, Detroit 3 included originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 28 Dec 2008 16:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Yes, in the new Knight Rider, KARR is a big robot

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On New Year's Eve, Knight Rider returns to the airwaves following its extended holiday hiatus. Once the 12/31 episode is out of the way (it's reportedly one of the earliest ones filmed, so expect it to suck miserably), the too-little-too-late "reboot" of Knight Rider will get rolling, with character deaths (yes!) and a story arc that will include a KITT vs. KARR showdown. As in the original series (which seems like I, Claudius compared to the current dreck) Peter Cullen will provide KARR with his voice. Unfortunately, instead of a two-tone 3rd-gen F-body, that voice will be attached to giant transforming robot. That's all good for Peter Cullen, who knows from voicing transforming robots, but for Knight Rider, it seems pretty dopey, which is to say, par for the course. For a sneak peek at KARR's new form, check out the video snippet posted at Knight Rider Online. Liveblogging the final nine episodes of this catastrophe is gonna be fun, and it all resumes Wednesday at 8pm Eastern.

[Source: Knight Rider Online]

Yes, in the new Knight Rider, KARR is a big robot originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 28 Dec 2008 16:05:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Chinese government to reward scrapping your car and buying a new one

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China, just like the U.S. of A., is worried about its auto industry. Last year Chinese auto production topped 8.8 million vehicles, and this year the country was on track to reach 10 million sales. Then everything went all pear-shaped, and now Chinese automakers are asking their government for help. Beijing hasn't said exactly what it will do yet, but one plan is to offer incentives for folks to scrap the cars they own and go buy new ones.

The key word in this plan is "scrap." The way it's been presented, the government doesn't want folks to just trade in their cars - that would simply add more cars with much smaller margins to dealer lots. They want car owners to send their cars to the crusher. If that's what is actually being considered, we'd be interested to find out how close the "incentive" will be to the value of the car being junked. If the difference is considerable, that plan sounds like a non-starter.

Thankfully, other tacks are being considered: lowering the vehicle purchase tax, making auto loans easier to get, and relaxing the quotas on how many loans banks can make. China's auto sales haven't yet slid into the crevasse -- November sales were down 14.6% -- but with many other sectors of the economy weak, the government is trying to get ahead of a fall before it actually happens.

[Source: Drive.com.au]

Chinese government to reward scrapping your car and buying a new one originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 28 Dec 2008 15:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Porsche Panamera interior caught in color

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Someone has scanned a photo of what looks to be a production-level Panamera interior. The fact that it's dressed up in brown leather probably will probably be lipstick on a warthog for those who revile it in pre-production form. Of course the number of buttons has been a major item of discussion, but there aren't that many more buttons compared to the 911 or Cayenne - they've simply been rearranged.

Other changes: it gets at least one real cupholder (compared to the 911), the IP and controls to the left of the steering wheel have been more integrated into the flow of the dash, and the 911-type gauges seem to be topped by a trim panel like the one around the Cayenne cluster. Thanks for the tip, Jacob!

[Source: Motor Spain]

Porsche Panamera interior caught in color originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 28 Dec 2008 15:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Chinese automaker to build sedan on Saleen platform?

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On one hand, Steve Saleen has two Challengers due out under his SMS brand. On the other, he's got the slightly tangled mess of CHAMCO, it's Chinese partner Zhongxing Auto, and their joint U.S. venture, ZX Auto North America International.

Earlier this year, Steve was meant to be helping CHAMCO bring Chinese-made Zhongxing pickup trucks to America. Due to CHAMCO and ZX Auto NA getting tied up in bankruptcy, it appears Saleen has left CHAMCO to join its Chinese partner, Zhongxing Auto. There, he will develop a platform on which Zhongxing will base a sports car, a sedan, a CUV, an SAV, and an MPV. It looks like a Chinese-market operation, with Zhongxing promising mid- and high-end segment competitors with "big power and big torque."

[Source: Gasgoo]

Chinese automaker to build sedan on Saleen platform? originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 28 Dec 2008 14:36:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Top Gear goes to Vietnam

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The Top Gear team is going global. Location shoots are planned to take the British trio all over the planet, starting with Vietnam. Clarkson, May, and Hammond loved the idea when they were plotting it in the pub, but they didn't actually plan for the fact that Nam doesn't have adequate roads... or very many cars. That made the idea of finding a £600 vehicle and racing it across the country a non-starter, but that doesn't mean the crew couldn't come up with an adventure worthy of Top billing. James May didn't want to give too many details of the Vietnam show during his interview with the Daily Mail, but he did provide enough of a tease to make us want to watch. The program will include the bike-loathing Clarkson on two wheels, and there's even footage of the Top Gear star strapped to a third world Ski-Doo (pictured above).

The Vietnam show will be followed next year with trips to Hong Kong, Johannesburg and Sydney. Since there is a 21-year waiting list to see the Top Gear crew do their thing in-studio, these exotic locations may be the best chance anyone has to see the popular show in-person.

[Source: Daily Mail]

Top Gear goes to Vietnam originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 28 Dec 2008 14:06:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Spy Shots: E-Class wagon

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When we saw spy shots of the E63 AMG wagon a couple of months ago, we thought the extended lines might diminish the stubbiness of the E Class sedan. The camouflage, cladding, and low profile tires made it seem deceptively sleek. Now that we've seen pictures of the regular E Class wagon, we're not so sure. There are two swage lines along the sides, but without any other curvature or those nifty ConceptFascination-esque haunches, they can't break up the impression of acres of metal. It just looks huge. Even so, we're still upset we don't get it here, and with a trailer hitch, even...

[Source: Global Motors]

Spy Shots: E-Class wagon originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 28 Dec 2008 13:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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The NYT chimes in: time for a gas tax

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Can you hear that? Those are the war drums, and more and more of them are beating the same tune: bring on the gas tax. An editorial in The Gray Lady is the latest and arguably the weightiest to join the shock troops advocating for higher gas prices. The writer proposes a fluctuating consumption tax that would keep gas at least $4 per gallon in 2008 dollars, while an economist suggests a sliding tax on the price of a barrel of oil to achieve the same effect.

The NYT admits "a bitter recession is not the most opportune time to ratchet up the price of energy." But it balances that against the coming Obama administration's aims, the government's enviro-friendly suggestions to the U.S. auto industry, and Americans' claims to want to get off of foreign oil.

Although not mentioned specifically in the Times piece, some recommend a gas tax for a reason that has nothing to do with environmental stewardship: state governments need money. States are making enormous budget cuts, trying to sell and lease their lotteries, state parks, roads, bridges, and even their airports, and lining up for federal aid totaling hundreds of billions of dollars, and still saying they won't have enough money. The answer to "Will there be a gas tax?" could be, as Jesse Jackson once said, "The question is moot!" The question is not whether there will be a gas tax, but whether you will pay your additional taxes at the pump, at the toll booth, in your paycheck, etc...

[Source: New York Times]

The NYT chimes in: time for a gas tax originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 28 Dec 2008 13:04:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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First 2010 Shelby GT500 being auctioned at Barrett-Jackson

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As has become the tradition in recent years, Barrett-Jackson will be auctioning off various "firsts" of upcoming production cars. Last year, the very first Corvette ZR1, Dodge Challenger, and Shelby GT500KR all went across the block, and earlier this month it was announced that the first retail 2010 Camaro would be available to the highest bidder. Not to be outdone, Ford has announced that a trio of their new offerings will be up for auction, the highlights of which will be the very first 2010 Mustang GT and Shelby GT500. This announcement all but confirms that the car will make its debut a few days earlier in Detroit. Also up for grabs will be the first 2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor. Proceeds for the auctions will be donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, providing more justification for collectors to bid on the vehicles.


[Source: Barrett-Jackson via MustangBlog.com]

First 2010 Shelby GT500 being auctioned at Barrett-Jackson originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 28 Dec 2008 12:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Early-50s NASCAR Tucker Torpedo photo surfaces

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When you think of the early days of NASCAR, brands like Oldsmobile, Hudson and Chrysler come to mind. What you don't usually think of is Tucker. In fact Tucker usually isn't associated with motorsports at all. With only 51 examples of the Tucker Torpedo having been completed before the lights were switched off, racing probably wasn't top of mind for owners of the time.

Apparently, a Tucker did hit the roundy-round circuit, at least for one race. A reader over at Hemmings has turned up a photo of a Tucker at a race in Ohio in 1950. NASCAR records from the time indicate that the car was classified last with zero laps complete. It's not known if the car crashed on the first lap or simply didn't start. Either way, it appears this may have been its one and only appearance.

[Source: Hemmings]

Early-50s NASCAR Tucker Torpedo photo surfaces originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 28 Dec 2008 12:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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BMW's 2009 unveiling schedule?

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BMW Blog has trained its spyglass on what it says is a list of BMW rollouts for 2009, and it will begin next month with the brand spankin' new Z4 showcased at the Detroit Auto Show. It is March, though, that will bring year's first real bounty. At Geneva, BMW will be showing off a concept version of the Progressive Activity Vehicle (half 5 Series, half X6), the Concept eDrive (an electric 1 Series or 3 Series), a Z4 Individual, and the Rolls-Royce 102EX (otherwise known as the RR4). Then in April, BMW's taking the show to Shanghai with the 760Li.

Post-Shanghai, you'll get a few months to digest. Then at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, BMW is expected to have the production-ready Progressive Activity Vehicle on display and the MINI Crossover. It is there, perhaps, that they'll also trot out a show pony speedster they call the Vision-Z with eDrive, their idea of "progress of sports cars for the future." And sprinkled on top throughout the year come launches of the 7 Series xDrive, 7 Series Hybrid, X5 M, X6 M, and X6 Active Hybrid. For bimmer lovers, 2009 is going to be a jubilee year.

[Source: BMW Blog]

BMW's 2009 unveiling schedule? originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 28 Dec 2008 11:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Cheap gas saves Americans $1B per day

The severe economic downturn here in the US has lead to all sorts of bad news. Layoffs, business closings, and bailouts dominate the headlines, and good news can be hard to find. One of the only reasons to hold our heads high has been the unprecedented drop in gas prices. The recession has caused a decrease in oil demand, which has lead to fuel costs that dropped from $4.11 per gallon in July to $1.62 today. That's a decrease of almost $2.50 per gallon in only five months.

Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for Oil Price Information Service, says the meteoric fall of fuel prices has been so dramatic that Americans are now paying $1 billion less per day than they were in July. The extra cash in Americans' pockets is likely helping to avoid an even greater financial calamity, though even a billion a day isn't going to make the recession go away. Still, it's nice that we can go to the gas station without consulting with a financial analyst or raiding the children's college fund.

[Source: Detroit Free Press]

Cheap gas saves Americans $1B per day originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 28 Dec 2008 11:06:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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New Hirsch aero upgrades for Saab 9-3

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Click above for a gallery of the Hirsch Performance kit for the Saab 9-3 Aero

Swiss tuner Hirsch has created a full body kit in carbon for the Saab 9-3 Aero sedan, convertible, and SportCombi. To do the best job of improving aerodynamics, reducing drag, and making the car look good, they enlisted the help of Saab's "master aerodynamicist" Håkan Danielsson and his team, as well as Taras Czornyj, who was the lead exterior designer on the 9-3 SportCombi.

What they came up with out front was a 3-piece upper mesh grille, a larger front spoiler with integrated splitters, and a lower mesh grille that increases airflow to the intercooler. Shaped side skirts lead the way to a rear diffuser and a larger rear spoiler on the sedan and convertible. For the SportCombi, Hirsch designed a hatch spoiler almost good enough for the WRC.

The hand-laminated carbon fiber parts are UV-coated, have been wind tunnel tested, and also tested and homologated for safety by the Royal Netherlands Motor Vehicle Authority. That means, according to Hirsch, that the parts are approved for fitment in all markets. The kit is only for the Aero trim level, and the price is listed as "on request," but based on the prices of the individual parts, don't expect much change if you hand over €1,500 -- and that's not including the wheels.


[Source: Hirsch via turboNines]

New Hirsch aero upgrades for Saab 9-3 originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 28 Dec 2008 10:35:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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The Aztek is all Toyota's fault - RV2 concept

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click the picture above for a gallery of the Toyota RV-2 concept.

If this were a Trivial Pursuit clue: "Vehicle aimed at an active lifestyle, based on much more common machinery, offering even a camper attachment for the rear," your answer might be a confident, "Pontiac Aztek." You'd be wrong. Even setting the wayback machine for 1970-something and answering "VW Camper" would be right, but also wrong. The correct reply, of course, would be "Toyota RV-2," a vehicle that never saw the light of day much beyond a display stand after the 1972-73 Auto Show season. Granted, it's a little arcane, but the Corona-based brake shows that Toyota was, once upon a time, much hipper, and we're not talking about the surgically implanted ones that Avalon owners sport. The edgy-wedgy styling belies a rear quadrant that unfolds and deploys a tent to cover a party palace more accomodating than the two seats up front. This is the car you take tailgating. Apparently, nothing ever became of the RV-2, but the idea of a car with a tent attached to its arse had surprising staying power, and didn't help the General sell its prescient, awkwardly styled crossovers, either. At least the RV-2 looked mighty natty with some Torq-Thrusts. Thanks for the tip, imoore!


[Source: RetroThing, Photos: Stepho's Toyota Site]

The Aztek is all Toyota's fault - RV2 concept originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 28 Dec 2008 10:03:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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