April 25, 2013: We're taking the week off here at TVD, but will be back next week with new features and reviews. In the interim, take the time to tour the site, see some things you might have missed, and leave comments for our staff.
April 19, 2013: The race engineers at Prodrive have gotten together with the production engineers and created a formula by which they can create an optimized race car for a reasonable amount of money. Though it sounds like heresy, they claim to have developed the idea while creating the Mini Countryman World Rally car, a vehicle that proved quite successful straight out of the box. Perhaps more bizarre are the chairs designed by Maserati and Mazda for Milan Design Week. The Maserati seat looks more comfortable, but it is Mazda’s Kodo Chair that has the sleekness you would expect from a maker of expensive Italian sports cars. At Shanghai’s motor show, Mercedes pulled the wraps off its Concept GLA. This small SUV has many over-the-top features you expect from a concept, but is very close in look and feel to the production GLA that launches next year. Shanghai also is the venue at which BMW launched its X4 concept. A bite-sized version of the X6 SUV coupe, the X4 seems like the answer to a question nobody asked. However, when you run the numbers, the idea behind these vehicles makes a lot of sense. Continuing with the BMW theme, the company’s heritage division teams up with transmission ZF to make a limited number of new transmissions for its 1930s 328 sports car to the original design, only better. Lastly, Al Vinikour questions whether or not anyone at the car companies is paying attention to the design of steering wheel controls, or whether they consider it enough just to have them.
April 12, 2013: Sunday April 7th was the 45th anniversary of one of the saddest days in motor racing. On that day in 1968, two-time F1 World Champion Jim Clark was killed while competing in a F2 race at Germany’s Hockenheim. A man of incredible talent, Clark was admired by fans and competitors alike, and his death shook the foundations of the sport. We have downloaded a documentary on the life and times of the Scottish champion that originally appeared on BBC Four. If you know nothing about the man, take this as an opportunity to learn about the quiet sheep farmer turned race driver. Conversely, if you are familiar with Clark, become reacquainted with his accomplishments and gentle nature. Speaking of Formula One and heroes, the new Ron Howard film, Rush, which chronicles the story of Niki Lauda’s near-fatal crash at the Nurburgring in 1976 and his battle for the F1 driver’s title against James Hunt, premiers later this year. Chris Sawyer looks back to that time, and recounts a chance encounter with an American hero who played a pivotal role in Lauda’s survival. On a completely different note, Yamaha introduces a product that bike owners, especially those who go off road, will appreciate. It’s not what you expect from the Japanese motorcycle manufacturer. Finally this week, our own Al Vinikour has a solution for interminable construction delays. It’s a simple common sense solution that could cut construction time in half, and drive everyone wed to the old ways crazy.
April 5, 2013: We were there for the launch of the Prius v, but now we’ve had the chance to spend a week behind the wheel. Is it a hybrid SUV alternative or just a glorified Prius wagon? And why is Mazda’s full-size CX-9 not one of the most popular crossovers in the market? Based on our time with the Japanese mild-roader, it should be at the top of shopping lists. Nissan released two videos this week. This first looks at digital versus analog design, and reminds us of time spent in Canada with a famous designer. The second shows the post-war ancestor of the all-electric Nissan Leaf, and an innovative answer to difficult times. Fancy a quick cup of espresso? How about one brewed in a V10 or V12 engine? However, if you really fancy the best of the best, you might want to consider buying the Ferrari F1 team, which gets plenty of perks from the FIA. Speaking of initials in place of names, Al Vinikour vents about the recent spate of alphanumeric car names.