California banning black cars?!

In a move that will likely get California’s consumers in a huff, impending legislation may soon restrict the paint color options for Golden State residents looking for their next new vehicle. The specific colors that are currently on the chopping block are all dark hues, with the worst offender seemingly the most innocuous color you could think of: Black. What could California possibly have against these colors, you ask? Apparently, the California Air Resources Board figures that the climate control systems of dark colored cars need to work harder than their lighter siblings – especially after sitting in the sun for a few hours. Anyone living in a hot, sunny climate will tell you that this assumption is accurate, of course. In fact, legislation already exists for buildings that has proven successful at reducing the energy consumption of skyscrapers.

So, what’s the crux of the problem… can’t paint suppliers just come up with new, less heat-absorbent dark paints? According to Ward’s, suppliers have reportedly been testing their pigments and processes to see if it’s possible to meet CARB’s proposed mandate of 20% solar reflectivity by 2016 with a phase-in period starting in 2012, and things aren’t looking good. Apparently, when the proper pigments and chemicals are added to black paint, the resulting color is currently being referred to as “mud-puddle brown.” That doesn’t sound very attractive, now does it? Windshields, backlights and sunroofs are also slated to get reflective coatings starting in 2012.

Aston Martin One-77

At the Geneva Motor Show this week, Aston Martin publicly showed its limited-edition One-77 super-car for the first time. While the design is certainly attention grabbing, the machinery sitting next to it was perhaps even more so. On the first of two press days, the Aston stand was dominated by the first complete One-77 chassis laid bare for all the world to see. Resplendent in carbon-fiber and cast, forged and extruded aluminum, the skinless One-77 is an engineer’s dream.

Chris Porritt, Chief Program Manager for the One-77, took a few minutes to give us a guided tour of this remarkable example of engineering art. The mechanical bits of the One-77 are built more like the guts of an Le Mans Prototype racer than any typical production car. Of course, calling this a production car is a stretch anyway given that only 77 examples will be produced. Major automakers typically produce more prototypes than that for a new vehicle program. Follow the jump for a walk through of the One-77.

A high-performance car relies on several key elements. Obviously, a great propulsion system is a prerequisite and the One-77 has that, but we’ll come back to that later. Large quantities of power don’t mean much without a chassis that’s able to manage the dynamics of spirited driving. Doing that requires keeping the rubber in contact with the road at all times and knowing where the wheels are relative to each other. That requires a rigid structure that minimizes the physical motion of the suspension mounting points as the car corners, accelerates, brakes and follows the contour of the road.

The New Lamborghini LP 670-4 SuperVeloce!

The Lamborghini Murciélago LP 670-4 SuperVeloce. Bologna’s best automaker has just released official info and pics on its latest mighty Murc, and this one tops them all. Lamborghini says the LP 670-4 SuperVeloce is “exceptionally purist”. The description fits as the LP 670-4 SV is more powerful, lighter and therefore faster than the already pretty quick LP-640. As its name suggests, the LP 670-4 SV boasts an increase in power to 670 hp and 487 lb-ft of torque for Lambo’s 6.5L V12, all of which was achieved through simply optimizing the engine’s valve timing and tweaking the air intake system.

Combine those extra bulls under the bonnet with a weight decrease of 220 lbs and performance figures begin to fall fast. 0-62 mph is now achieved in just 3.2 seconds and top speed is 212 mph with the standard, small spoiler. A larger “Aeropack Wing” offering more downforce is also available, but the additional drag drops top speed to 209 mph.

The LP 670-4 doesn’t look like your average Murciélago, either. It’s design is simple and brutal compared to the mess of angles that make up the Reventon. Up front the air intakes have been made larger for better brake cooling and the front spoiler extends much farther out. The new engine cover, meanwhile, is a marvel of design with three hexagonal transparent polymer plates supported by a carbon fiber framework. The interior has also been upholstered entirely in Alcantara and features stitching that matches the exterior color of the car.

You can’t argue with a car that’s faster, lighter and more powerful than its predecessors, and the Lamborghini LP 670-4 SuperVeloce is certainly not a car we’d want to argue with. Check out the gallery of high-res images just released by Lamborghini and stay tuned for our own gallery of live LP 670-4 SV shots when we hit the show floor soon.

Bugatti and Lamborghini maybe up for Grabs

Volkswagen Group could be following Ford’s footsteps , by
disposing it’s high-end supercar brands Bugatti and Lamborghini, recently
quoting the Porsche and Volkswagen Supervisory Board Member Wndelin Wiedeking.
When asked about the future of it’s brands Wiedeking is quoted saying “No Toys
anymore”. This indicates, VW will be restructuring its expansive business and intent
on increasing the VW brand name as an immense International player.

Wiedeking is also distressing that Porsche is not the
flagship brand in the group and has allegedly commissioned an ultra-high
performance Porsche supercar to destroy the top speed record set by the colleague
Bugatti Veyron.

Industry Rumors suggest the Bugatti could be downgraded to
an ultra-exclusive coach building operation once the Veyron is put to rest.

Lamborghini, which sold over 2000 cars last year, could be put
on the market the same way Ford is currently disposing of Aston martin.

Mercedes AMG Posts Record Sales in 2008

Although the automotive industry took one of its worst beatings in history last year, Mercedes-Benz performance division AMG has posted its best sales record yet.

AMG global sales were 24,200 for 2008, an increase of 19 percent over the previous year’s 20,300.

The largest market for AMG was the United States, which accounted for 38 percent of all sales. The German market is AMG’s second largest, accounting for 13 percent of total sales and where sales were up 34 percent over 2007.

AMG delivered 8,100 of the C 63 AMG and 3,050 of the SL 63 AMG.

Successful for the performance division was also AMG’s sports package offering on certain vehicles, which increased its sales by 75 percent. AMG also had twice as many registrations to its AMG Driving Academy as in 2007, the year in which it was founded.

In light of its success, AMG has committed itself to improving the fuel economy of its vehicles by 30 percent by 2012. AMG cars already meet the EU-5 standards and will make the EU-6 standards earlier than 2014 when they come into effect. AMG will be making use of lightweight materials, better engine management and regulation of water and oil pumps, and introducing direct-injection and stop-start technology in all its models in 2010.

Division head Volker Mornhinweg, recently declared the “the horsepower war is over.” AMG will now be boosting performance mostly through new technologies that improve efficiency.

Source: Daimler

Nissan suspected of cheating. Anyone suprised?


Nissan suspected of cheating in record setting Nurburgring GT-R run.

The A.P. have reported that Porsche officials have accused Nissan of cheating with regards to the record setting Nissan Skyline GT-R Nurburgring runGlendale.

Nissan Skyline GT-R at Denver Auto Show.

Nissan Skyline GT-R at Denver Auto Show.


After purchasing an American GT-R Porsche set to the task of recreating the run, but evidently was unable to achieve a time with the car with 25 seconds of the record time.

It isn’t surprising that Porsche would go to these lengths to stand by their record set on home turf, what is surprising is how Porsche suspects Nissan cheated.

“For us, it’s not clear how this time is possible. What we can imagine with this Nissan is they used other tyres.”

Reasoning that tires would make such a large difference begs the question as to whether a Porsche GT2 would set an even more impressive time granted the stickier rubber.

Nissan has yet to comment, but I would assume that Porsche is not pulling any punches as Japanese companies have been famous for stretching the rules for their own benefit.

You may all well remember the SAE revisions that took place back in 2005 in which several major Japanese manufacturers took hits on their horsepower and torque figure for some of their best selling cars.

Or if you choose to look further back and will remember the rumored “300 horsepower agreement” many of the Japanese brands would simply underrate the horsepower and torque figures for their respective supercars.

In my opinion there is no honor in cheating, but if you never get caught then who is the wiser?

GM’s Draggin Wagon

Comfort, convenience, style, and speed; America has a hot new hatchback……Sort of…

Since the 2005 model year, the HHR (GM speak for Heritage High Roof) has been gaining ground with people looking for more versatility and style for a day to day commuter.

However, the HHR has, as of yet, been anything but a sporty model. The hottest engine choice being the 2.4 litre twin cam mill producing 175 BHP, and 165 lb./ft. of torque, the HHR held the blandness of the “styled by the same guy” PT Cruiser.  Even the HHR Panel, which has been well received by small business in need of an economic courier, has yet to stir the loins of the tuner faithful.

GM front man Robert Lutz has made a habit out of injecting performance even in the lowliest econoboxes, and this event is no different. Using the LNF Ecotec Turbo I-4 from the Pontiac Solstice GXP, and Saturn Sky Redline, GM has infused 260 horsepower and 260 lb./ft. of torque channeled through a 5 speed manual.

This puts the quirky styling of the HHR and mates it to the high end tuner world of the Cobalt SS. Now suburban housewives, and upstart business owners can rocket down the road with the speed of a C4 Corvette or run an impromptu  race with any riced out WRX they happen to find.

While using the same engine and transmission setup as the Cobalt SS, some of the techno goodies come along for the ride. So now, while hauling a load of groceries, or a set of wheels for your customers new whip; you can blast through the gears without lifting, or play with the launch control feature for a quick light to light jaunt.

Whether the HHR’s styling in Panel or standard, and the infusion of power will steal more customers from their SUV’s is unknown; yet I’ll say I love the idea and would love an HHR Panel for a daily driver.

After years of getting older Ford gets a new Woodie!

The 2009 Ford Flex

The 2009 Ford Flex

Ford Motor Company has seen better days,

With record losses, bland new models, giant rebates on older models, and only the mustang to anchor the drifting company; many might think back to the iconic models of Ford’s yesteryears.

Enter the Ford Flex.

After years of production for the boring and sales lacking Ford Freestar and Mecury Monterey minivans, Ford has entered the world of the elite crossover.

Crossovers have existed for a decade in one form or another and were tipified with the introduction of the RX300 from Lexus. So, Ford entering this growing segment is needed but with every other manufacturer entereing the game as well, the waters ahead are rocky to say the least.

Luckily, Ford chose with this new model to draw on interesting styling and functionality rather than overall technology (as found in the Acura RDX) or sci-fi trechie styling that perforates most asian based crossovers.

What we end up with is the 2009 Ford Woodie…. whoops, should I say FORD FLex.

Accidentally harking back to the kitchy surf mobile made popular by california hippies in the 60’s, the Flex is immediately recognizable. It stands out in a sea of boring seemingly submersible blobs and razor edged SUVs.

With available seating for 7 and a choice of engines that can receive up to 26 mpg highway it should be gobbled up by the young adventurous family.

My only gripe with this particular mode of transportation with its slab sides and upright windshield is the lack of interior style. Ford continues to create bland uncomfortable looking interiors with bland panel fits and uninspired layouts.

2010 Porsche Panamera

Porsche plans to launch a four door coupe. Codenamed EB2, the big porsche goes on sale in 2009 as a 2010 model, but it’s already been caught lapping the Nordschleife at the Nuerburgring racetrack in Germany. This three-quarter shot shows the production car‘s general proportions, but it’s cagily disguised to look as if it’s revealing more sheetmetal than it is. You’ll see the car’s lighting graphics previewed in a face-lifted Cayenne coming in 2007. The Panamera will be assembled in the Cayenne’s Leipzig factory and will share its 340-horsepower, 4.5-liter V-8 and 450-horsepower, twin-turbo V-8 powerplant.

Chevy Volt Unveiled

Earlier today, GM unwrapped the vehicle that they feel is the key to the company’s survival.  That vehicle is the Chevy Volt.  It is a vehicle that is powered by an electric motor upto 40 miles, and then a small gasolin engine kicks in to help propel the electric motor.  Some features include: an all-black roof, solid front grill, and in the interior, a bright white center stack and customizable LCD displays.

According to GM, the Volt’s lithium-ion battery can be charged in eight hours on a 120-volt plug. Using a 240-volt outlet cuts the time down to less than three hours. The claimed 40-mile all-electric range is based on the EPA city cycle, but GM has not said how power accessories and components like air conditioning will affect it.

It will enter the market in late 2010 as a 2011 model.  Is it too little too late for GM?  What do you think?