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Friday
Jun052015

June 2015

June 19, 2015: Honda listens to its customers and brings a limited edition MotoGP bike to the street. Renault celebrates the new Alpine, but hedges on what it will look like and when it will arrive. Ligier and Exa join forces to create an LMP3 prototype from the digital future. Hyundai taps its inner artist and “explodes” a Genesis Coupe, then sends slot cars to transmit the results. Evolute Drives announces its multi-speed gearbox for EVs and hybrids. Lincoln’s Navigator L gets an update. Alfa Romeo introduces the 4C Spider when what it really needs are non-halo cars real people can buy. We talk to a MazdaPro racer who stared adversity in the face and made it blink, test an Audi SUV that’s anything but subtle, and give Al Vinikour the week off as he celebrates another birthday.

 

June 5, 2015: Two issues ago, we were talking about the suspension and brakes of Ford’s new GT350 Mustang. This time we’re looking at the engine, all 5.2-liters of flat-plane crank goodness. We also compile more Notes of Note, including shoes from Audi, race cars, Bristol and Fraser-Nash and more. Bienville announces it will take its Legacy motorcycle to Goodwood. Ansible builds a pretty cool driving simulator for professional virtual drivers. Porsche Classic puts the classic early 911’s instrument panel back into production. TVR comes back from the dead with the help of Gordon Murray, while another, fully developed British sports car program comes on the market. We take a first drive in Nissan’s uniquely styled 2016 Maxima, and rethink what’s truly important about the Lexus RC 350 F Sport. Meanwhile Al Vinikour discovers that America’s most dangerous combat zone is closer than you think.

 

Friday
May082015

May 2015

May 22, 2015: We introduce a new feature this week, Notes of Note, a compendium of just some of the stuff cluttering our e-mail box that might (or might not) be of interest. On the new car front,Chevy unveiled the 2016 Camaro, a car that definitely has Mustang in its sights.  Also on the new car front, Fiat introduced a new low-cost car for eastern Europe that could find its way here with a Chrysler badge. While cruising the Internet, we discovered a video that promises to show you how to quickly and safely negotiate the famed Nurburgring in your classic. Speaking of fun, we got a chance to climb inside a Michigan landmark, Uniroyal’s giant tire, and have the pictures to prove it. Porsche Cars North America opened its new headquarters, making enthusiasts cheer and competitors weep. Parent VW, meanwhile, talked about the future of the internal combustion in Vienna, and showed a few things it has up its sleeve. Fate scheduled the long wheelbase Ford Transit Connect Titanium and Toyota Sienna Premium back-to-back, so we took the opportunity to compare the yin and yang of the current minivan fleet. Also, we check out Quixx’s All Metal Polish Kit and come away impressed, while our own Al Vinikour questions the need for tachometers on most modern vehicles.

 

May 8, 2015: We start out this issue on a sad note with the passing of two legends in the automotive world. Tom Hoover, the so-called “Godfather of the Hemi”, passed away on April 30 at the age of 85. Closer to home, friend and former colleague Denise McCluggage died May 6 at the age of 88. Both will be missed. On a lighter note, the apprentices at Skoda’s vocational school were given the task of building a concept vehicle for the upcoming GTI gathering in Germany and they built a — small pickup truck! It’s just more proof this is a market that is begging for product. New aero packages are all the rage, apparently. Audi introduced its Le Mans aero package at the 6 Hours of Spa, while Chevy and Honda pulled the wraps off their Indy 500 aero packages at the Brickyard. Goodwood announced a new category for its Festival of Speed that features failed F1 cars. Honda showed the technology behind the new NSX at the recent SAE Congress in Detroit, while Ford invited us to the Ford Performance garage to take a walk around the new GT350. Finally, our own Al Vinikour tells a personal tale about hit-and-run driving, and what he would do to those guilty of this crime.

 

Friday
Apr102015

April 2015

 

April 24, 2015: Dr. Ferdinand Piech has apparently met his match, having called out VW chairman Martin Winterkorn, and getting a fusillade of acrimony back form the company’s Executive Committee. However, a chance meeting on an airplane nearly a decade ago leaves us wondering if Piech won’t eventually get his way. Speaking of things that are hard to handle, Honda’s Formula 1 powertrain has failed to live up to expectations. We take a look behind the scenes and ask if Honda may have the last laugh. Former F1 team executive Nick Wirth is taking his company’s computer-aided aerodynamic capabilities to the big time, and we do mean big. Unlike politicians, Chrysler engineers bring greater transparency to their work. Ducati, on the other hand, follows the path of the ancient masters, and creates something truly sculptural. We find a 1973 Jaguar up for auction that’s been in one family, had three owners, and still hasn’t broken 10,000 miles. Is all the hype surrounding Ford’s aluminum-bodied F-150 for real, or just the aftermath of an all-out PR assault? Baume & Mercier builds a Cobra-themed watch that celebrates a major motorsport anniversary. And if that’s not enough, Al Vinikour shines a spotlight on a car option you can’t seem to find anymore.

 

April 10, 2015: Cadillac comes out swinging with its new CT6 sedan declaring its boldness, but looking conservative enough for a seat on Wall Street. Jim Meachen gives us a first look at VW’s long-awaited Golf (not Jetta) SportWagen. Toyota follows VW’s lead and announces the latest information on its modular family of platforms and powertrains. We take a second look at the Lexus GS F Sport, this time with all-wheel drive, but have more questions than answers. Meanwhile, Lincoln’s MKC crossover stays for a visit and shows there’s hope, and more need for the Lincoln brand to evolve. Rolls Royce announces the first test mule of its upcoming SUV, but shows a car that looks like it belongs in the British Touring Car Championship. We take time out to review a book about one of the most impressive, misunderstood, and maligned U.S. presidents. And Al Vinikour takes aim at the “logic” behind patching potholes.

 

Friday
Mar132015

March 2015

March 27, 2015: A big bruiser that’s about as subtle as a punch, Ford’s F-350 4x4 is a capable work truck, but more than all but a rancher or tradesman probably needs. Despite all appearances, driving a Jaguar C-Type at speed is all about subtlety, and planning ahead. Watch as Alex Buncombe takes Juan Manuel Fangio’s old racer around Monaco. Speaking of Jaguar power, the Lister cars has put the Jaguar-powered Lister Knobby back into production, building a short run of racers suitable for FIA historic racing. And as Amazing as these Jaguar-engined cars may sound, nothing compares to the symphony that comes out of Honda’s 1965 RA272 F1 car. Driven by Americans Richie Ginther and Ronnie Bucknum, it makes you nostalgic for a time when F1 cars sounded fantastic, and American drivers were thick on the grid and able to run with the best. Staying with the racing theme for a moment, Audi has updated its R18 e-tron quattro for the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans, and we take a look inside. Meanwhile, McLaren Applied Technologies and MTS have teamed up to build a simulator suitable for road or race cars. Intelligent Energy’s Motive division shows a 100 kW automotive fuel stack it is licensing to automakers globally. Opel/Vauxhall bring high-tech lighting systems to everyday cars. The AAA reexamines distracted driving among teens, and comes away with dire statistics and shocking videos that will have you wincing. On the plus side, Ford introduces a technology that could make speeding tickets a thing of the past, and our own Al Vinikour asks what pair of geniuses set speed limits on the nation’s roads.

 

March 13, 2015:  Detroit’s other auto show was in town, and it was a record setter in more ways that one. Chip Foose took his fourth Ridler Award, a record, and attendance climbed yet again. The quality of cars on display continues to increase, and the scope of vehicles expands to include restorations, imports, race cars and more. It’s a show everyone should attend at least once. The introduction of the Apple Watch comes as some automakers include smart watches into their technology plan. However, it was the introduction of the 12-in. MacBook that has the greater relevance to the auto industry. Speaking of computers, Honda’s new aero package for its IndyCar teams spent a lot of time churning through a CFD program, but the result is not only shocking, it’s bad for the sport. We also spent time on the road testing a variety of vehicles. First up is the Mustang GT, not the first choice for winter fun. But, shorn of its summer tires and Performance Pack, can the prototypical pony car measure up? Next, we get behind the wheel of Lexus’s turbocharged NX 200t F Sport. It has the potential to give Audi, Mercedes and even Porsche something to think about, but is it more show than go? Finally, we spend some time in the Toyota Yaris, the smallest, least expensive vehicle in Toyota’s lineup. Might it prove the old adage about good things coming in small packages? Finally, Al looks back to his earlier escapades to condemn freeways and drivers that aren’t in the Western U.S., and question the sanity of adaptive cruise control’s creators.