January 30, 2013: The next three weeks are crazy busy, starting with a trip out to Arizona to driver the new Kia Forte. That’s the reason for the early issue this week, and the abbreviated content. Next week it’s off to Chicago for the auto show, and the following week it’s back to Arizona for a drive of Toyota’s new RAV4. In the interim, Al Vinikour weighs in on winter driving, specifically the careless louts who drive off without adequately cleaning snow from their vehicles. And Chris Sawyer comments on the mad dash to increase the ethanol content in our fuel and the damage it might do to your car. Who wins in this battle? Certainly not the consumer.
January 25, 2013: After the rush and bother of the Detroit auto show, this week’s issue is quieter and more eclectic. First up is a look at the technology used by Mercedes to set an on-road speed record in 1938, and the Porsche-designed vehicle they built in hopes of bringing the land speed record to Nazi Germany. Meanwhile, automotive analysts are singing the praises of Tata’s Jaguar Land Rover unit, but Chris Sawyer wonders if they have missed the point; can it sustain its current pace and pay the price to do so? Finally, we have the third episode of Cars In Context Television, co-hosted by John Clor and Editor Sawyer. Make sure to pay close attention as barbs fly early and often. And, just to show he’s a nice guy, Sawyer has given Al Vinikour the week off. (He's not fooling anybody, especially Al.)
January 18, 2013: It’s been one heck of a week. First, the annual North American International Auto Show took place in Detroit’s Cobo Hall. Not only did Chevy launch its latest Corvette, many automakers brought their best to the Motor City in an attempt to impress the natives, the press, and each other. This gathering of global automakers got our own Al Vinikour thinking about cars as teaching tools, and how their diverse places of origins could lead today’s youth to become interested in geography and geopolitics. (Editor’s note: Despite what Al wrote in his last sentence, we have a hard time imagining him on the couch grooving to Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) or Itchycoo Park for that matter, nursing the munchies.) Finally, The Virtual Driver was contacted by representatives of TheStreet.com and asked if we might be interested in reprinting its coverage of the top car auction sales in 2012 in our Lifestyle section. They didn’t have to ask twice.
January 11, 2013: Next week, it’s the Detroit auto show. This week, the world’s automakers descended on Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show. CES continues to grow in importance as car companies add more software, hardware and capability to their products. First up is Delphi, which introduced a plug-and-play connectivity solution that can do some of the things OnStar can, and some things it can’t. Next up is Hyundai. It showed its ideas for future on-board electronics, including connecting to Apple’s Siri and Nuance’s Dragon Drive. Finally, Ford gave notice that it plans to be an even bigger player in the automotive electronics field. On the lighter side, the folks at Laguna Seca have created a run of Corvette t-shirts to celebrate the marque’s 60th anniversary, and Mecum Auctions has a 1954 Corvette that has risen from the dead, so to speak. Al Vinikour spends a week with the Prius c and comes back smitten, despite its diminutive size. Finally, Al remembers those thrilling days of yesteryear when new tires would get you to the lake, and old ones would keep you afloat.
January 4, 2013: How many times have you perused the news section of your favorite magazine or blog, and read something that never came true? The many, many iterations of the mid-engined Corvette are a prime example; lots of coverage, but no vehicle. Chris Sawyer may have an answer as to why this phenomena keeps happening, and its stems from a conversation he had years ago with a former colleague. Speaking of ghosts, Sawyer was certain the last appearance he made on the In a Heartbeat TV would never get aired. Technical difficulties made it impossible to upload the show, but perseverance has paid off. You can see the show here. Al Vinikour returns from vacation with a story about driving the new Land Rover LR2 in snowy Montreal. Plus, he takes time out to take owners of rusted out vehicles to task, and question why vehicles built in the “quality years” rust so quickly.