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Friday
Dec192014

Sad Times for Lotus, Good Times for Aston Martin

By Christopher A. Sawyer

First the news…

Aston Martin chief Andy Palmer has wasted no time shaking things up since leaving Nissan’s U.K. branch for Aston’s HQ in Gaydon. His latest move has been to hire Matthew Becker from Lotus, naming him Chief Engineer, Vehicle Attribute Engineering. Becker moves into his new role just after the start of the New Year after 26 years with Lotus. In this position, Becker will do many of the same things he did at Lotus as Chief Engineer, Vehicle Test and Development. This includes vehicle dynamics, aerodynamics, vehicle durability, NVH testing, and more.

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Friday
Dec052014

The Life of an Old Race Car Isn’t Easy

By Christopher A. Sawyer

Photo courtesy of The Henry Ford.The Ford GT Mk. IV driven to victory at the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans is not your typical racer. The driving pair (A.J. Foyt and Dan Gurney) was American. The car was designed and built in America. It was the first time an American-designed and -built car driven by American drivers had won at Le Mans. And the victory came just one week before Gurney, in a car of his own manufacture, won the 1967 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa Francorchamps. It was an all-American summer.

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Friday
Nov072014

Lincoln’s Modular Musings

By Christopher A. Sawyer

This guy is just as confused about the future of Lincoln as the rest of us.Rumors swirling around Dearborn claim Lincoln is the recipient of a five-year, $5 billion infusion. The Reuters news service quotes four insiders who say a significant portion of the money will be used to create a modular architecture known as D6 that will spawn a number of new Lincolns and a few Fords. Undoubtedly the next generation Mustang will use the rear-drive architecture, and share a mix of materials that will lean heavily on aluminum. However, the story also claims D6 will be used for front- and all-wheel drive Lincolns and Fords as well.

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Friday
Oct242014

Hyundai’s Home at the Nurburgring

There is no doubt that the largest failing of Hyundai vehicles has been ride and handling. Say what you will about the bang you get for your buck in terms of styling, features, etc., the fact is that most Hyundais ride and handle like cheap knockoffs. For years it was commonplace to attend the launch of a new Hyundai vehicle, meet the current head of vehicle dynamics, highlight the various problems with the way the car drove, and wait until the next launch to do it again. It got to the point that I began to wonder when, if ever, Hyundai would wake up to the fact that its vehicles didn’t match up.

This continued until the launch of the 2015 Genesis Sedan. Early in its development, Hyundai boasted about its commitment to testing its vehicles at Germany’s famed Nurburgring. Not only did Hyundai put up an $8.4 million, nearly 12,000 ft.2 test center onsite, it hired a professional test driver to help with the testing and development. And now, one year after the test center opened its doors, Hyundai has released a few facts about what goes on at the Nurburgring.

More than 20 models have covered in excess of 49,000 miles and 4,000 laps in the past year. Hyundai claims its Accelerated Durability Test can simulate a vehicle’s lifecycle in four to six weeks, and covers 110 laps per week. Six professional test drivers push each vehicle to 90% of its limit, and test results are shared with Hyundai’s R&D centers around the world.

Perhaps one of the things that was shared with these units was just how much knowledge is necessary to build a car that can turn quick laps of the ‘Ring, and still be pleasant to drive. Whatever the case, it didn’t take long for Hyundai to tap Lotus engineer Matthew Becker for the job of making the Genesis Sedan both quick and supple. It seems like there’s a bit more to it than just testing new vehicles in Germany. — CAS

Friday
Oct242014

Reevaluating the BMW X6

Rather than reiterate what I wrote earlier about BMW’s X6, I refer you to the original article (here). It makes the point while analyzing why BMW would seek to repeat the same “mistake” with the X4. For another opinion on the X6, the folks at XCar examine BMW’s large SUV coupe, and wonder if the critics haven’t got it all wrong. — CAS