May 17, 2013: Sir Torquil Norman (that’s his real name and title) has underwritten the design of a car made specifically for rural Africa. The aptly named OX promises rugged reliable transport for areas that have no regular transportation or hope of rising from grinding poverty, and follows in the footsteps of the late, lamented Africar. Not quite as entry-level or as rudimentary, Kia’s Soul and Rio SX promise a lot and deliver on much of it, but fall short in some important ways. Similarly, the 2014 Lexus IS hopes to eradicate its predecessors’ shortcomings, and ignite a passion previously foreign to Lexus. Can it do it? Rolls Royce, meanwhile, turns to its Bespoke division for a special run of Celebration Edition cars. This group of craftsmen is a growing force inside the company, and produce a high percentage of special vehicles for the automaker. Worried that you might end up on the wrong side of the law in an accident? Genius has an affordable dash cam for you. Speaking of affordable, gear-head artist Sabrina Chun’s company Blackprint Design has created a line of modern automotive art that is suitable for framing, and reasonably priced. Elsewhere, the folks at Phoneshield have created a protective carrying case for iPhone 5 users that lets them mount it on a motorcycle or other vehicle, and use it to provide GPS, music, etc. BMW has introduced a new member of its F 800 GS line, the Adventure, ready made for Phoneshield buyers. The mid-size enduro/touring bike is a bit more focused on rough terrain, but is designed for those road trips that follow pavement or trail. Come to think of it, clomping around off road might be just the thing for Al Vinikour this week as the mud and dirt would hide the sin of black alloy wheels.
May 3, 2013: Last week was the first of many we will be taking off this summer. TVD is temporarily moving to a biweekly production schedule in the hopes that at least one classic car’s restoration, and a number of other more lucrative projects, are completed in a timely fashion. Nevertheless, there’s a lot in store for you this week. First up, Peugeot Sport prepares to attack Pikes Peak with endurance racing technology. Next, Volvo shows the KERS system it has been testing on the road, and is readying for production. Toyota facelifts the 4Runner, making it more comfortable, more aggressive, and surprisingly like a Mitsubishi Raider in at least one respect. Chris Sawyer tests the fantastic new Scion FR-S and comes away doubting Toyota claims about the car. He also looks at McLaren’s MP4 12C Can-Am Edition video, and reminisces about a “simply brilliant” program he put together for Lotus that never got off the ground. Then he questions the sanity of bureaucrats involved in America’s fuel economy and emissions testing. Finally, Al Vinikour takes aim at folks who turn their rides into a rolling beauty salon, and get ready for their day while rolling down the road.