The Truth About Cars » News Blog http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 31 Jul 2015 21:47:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » News Blog http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/ Who Wants To Forge Their Car’s History? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/wants-forge-cars-history/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/wants-forge-cars-history/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 21:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1130625 Hat tip to reader Alexander who sent us a link to a comprehensive 1991 BMW 325ic’s service history offered up on eBay because someone just probably wants them for the “novelty.” The items reportedly include purchase paperwork and dealer maintenance records for an Alpine White, automatic convertible built around April 1991. Paperwork from Hawaii, Washington and California is […]

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Phony service history

Hat tip to reader Alexander who sent us a link to a comprehensive 1991 BMW 325ic’s service history offered up on eBay because someone just probably wants them for the “novelty.”

The items reportedly include purchase paperwork and dealer maintenance records for an Alpine White, automatic convertible built around April 1991. Paperwork from Hawaii, Washington and California is included in the mildly suspicious auction lot listed with a Washington location.

“I want to frame those oil change receipts and hang them on my walls,” said nobody browsing this eBay listing.

We called attorneys general for New York, Washington and Colorado to see if misrepresenting your car’s service history was explicitly illegal and haven’t heard back. We also reached out to the Department of Justice and Department of Transportation to hear their takes.

It’s possible that phony service records wouldn’t be against the law in the same way as rolling back an odometer, but opinions seem to vary.

(Surely, if you pick up some junker BMW 325ic with a pristine service history and the whole thing blows up in your face, there’s gotta be a rule for that, right?)

Speaking with a few attorneys, we heard it could be easily proven fraudulent to pass these records off as legitimate paperwork for a car in which they don’t belong in a common law sense, but likely only if the service records were presented as belonging to that specific car.

Rick Wynkoop, a Colorado-based attorney, said selling the documents online isn’t against the law, but passing them off as belonging to a car that they don’t probably is. Wynkoop suggested something more sinister afoot — perhaps some VIN smudging — but phony service records was new to him.

“I can’t imagine there’s enough juice there to squeeze,” he said regarding a seller’s ability to use the paperwork in a private transaction.

Either way, it’s very definitely slimy.

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Whoa, Don’t Get Amped About Your Free Model X Just Yet http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/whoa-dont-get-amped-free-model-x-yet/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/whoa-dont-get-amped-free-model-x-yet/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 20:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1130529 Yesterday, we reported that in a sales call, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk announced a referral program that could, possibly, maybe net one free Model X for someone who referred 10 new buyers. The qualifications for getting the free car: Refer 10 buyers by Oct. 31 and be the first in your “region” to do so. […]

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Tesla Model S Center Stage

Yesterday, we reported that in a sales call, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk announced a referral program that could, possibly, maybe net one free Model X for someone who referred 10 new buyers.

The qualifications for getting the free car: Refer 10 buyers by Oct. 31 and be the first in your “region” to do so.

Turns out “region” doesn’t mean what we think it does.

According to a Tesla spokesman, “region” in this case means “country.” As in, apparently, one (1) Model X will be awarded to a single (1) person in the U.S. for referring 10 new Model S buyers.

In case you’re wondering, the U.S. is a larger market for Tesla than the next nine countries combined.

So if you live in Switzerland, it may be a good deal to get your friends to buy a Tesla and score your own for free. If you live in Dallas, however, you should probably line up your friends at the “dealership” today.

Lesson: Elon Musk is really, really good at marketing.

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Canada, Ontario Governments Kick in Millions for Toyota Plant Upgrades http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/canada-kicks-millions-toyota-plant-upgrades/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/canada-kicks-millions-toyota-plant-upgrades/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 19:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1130465 Federal and provincial governments in Canada have offered more than $100 million (USD $77 million) for improvements to the Cambridge and Woodstock plants, CTV news is reporting. The incentives are part of a $421 million (USD $323 million) investment that will be used for light metal stamping in Woodstock, which makes the RAV4, and plant improvements […]

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2013 Toyota RAV4

Federal and provincial governments in Canada have offered more than $100 million (USD $77 million) for improvements to the Cambridge and Woodstock plants, CTV news is reporting.

The incentives are part of a $421 million (USD $323 million) investment that will be used for light metal stamping in Woodstock, which makes the RAV4, and plant improvements in Cambridge, which produces the soon-to-be-gone Toyota Corolla and Lexus RX vehicles. Toyota has said it will move the Corolla to Mexico, but hasn’t announced what would replace it at the Cambridge plant.

The Canadian government tipped in $34 million in 2013 for improvements to the Cambridge plant to produce the RX 450h.

Toyota’s announcement may be welcome news for Ontario’s car-building complex. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne recently told media in Toronto that building cars in Canada is becoming more expensive, and former Oshawa mayor John Gray calling for a GM boycott if the automaker doesn’t replace the Camaro when production ends in November.

Both Volvo and Land Rover have opted to build plants in Southern U.S. states that could potentially offer more in incentives than Canada’s most populous province, which is heaping more public debt on itself through public infrastructure projects.

The announcement could also signal a better working relationship between the governments and automakers. FCA may be looking for incentives as it prepares to make a $1 billion decision on its Brampton plant, which produces the Dodge Challenger, Charger and Chrysler 300.

Marchionne asked federal and provincial governments in 2014 for incentives to retool the company’s Windsor plant that produces minivans. After a contentious public debate over the size of the financial package requested, FCA decided to go it alone. The future of the Brampton plant, which will also require funding to finance retooling for the next-generation rear-wheel drive sedans, is uncertain.

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Volvo Bringing New V40, S60L to United States http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/volvo-bringing-new-v40-s60l-united-states/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/volvo-bringing-new-v40-s60l-united-states/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 18:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1130217 Volvo will bring its smaller, compact-sized V40 wagon, its related crossover and long-wheelbase, Chinese-built S60 sedan to America, Autoblog is reporting. The newest generation of the Volkswagen Golf-sized V40 wagon is being built with the U.S. in mind, Volvo senior vice president Alan Visser told media in the Netherlands. The earliest it could reach the United […]

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Volvo V40 R-Design - model year 2016

Volvo will bring its smaller, compact-sized V40 wagon, its related crossover and long-wheelbase, Chinese-built S60 sedan to America, Autoblog is reporting.

The newest generation of the Volkswagen Golf-sized V40 wagon is being built with the U.S. in mind, Volvo senior vice president Alan Visser told media in the Netherlands. The earliest it could reach the United States would be 2017.

Visser also said the XC40, a compact crossover based on the V40 Cross Country, would make its way to the States shortly after the V40.

It’s unclear what engine would power the V40 in North America. Worldwide, the V40 is powered by a inline, four-cylinder diesel- or gasoline-powered engine. Visser told De Telegraph that the V40 would also be available as a hybrid.

The company also said that it would make available its long-wheelbase version of the S60. The Chinese-built S60L would go on sale later this year in North America and Russia, according to Reuters.

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Lexus Will Plant 2-liter Turbo Four Into RC Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/lexus-will-plant-turbo-four-rc-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/lexus-will-plant-turbo-four-rc-coupe/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 17:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1130145 Lexus will take the turbocharged four cylinder from the NX 200t and plant it in its RC coupe, the automaker announced today. The RC 200t, which will make 245 metric horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, has only been announced officially for sale in Europe — for now. It joins the RX 200t, NX 200t and IS […]

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Lexus RC 200t

Lexus will take the turbocharged four cylinder from the NX 200t and plant it in its RC coupe, the automaker announced today.

The RC 200t, which will make 245 metric horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, has only been announced officially for sale in Europe — for now. It joins the RX 200t, NX 200t and IS 200t in the Lexus lineup as the fourth model to sport the engine on the Old Continent.

Parent-company Toyota has quickly adopted the turbo four as its preferred replacement for its aging V-6 in other cars, including the Camry.

The turbocharged RC may arrive in the United States at some point, but Lexus is tight-lipped about that possibility.

In Europe, the turbocharged, direct-injected engine will only drive the rear wheels and will be exclusively paired to its 8-speed automatic transmission. According to the automaker, it’ll propel the coupe up to 62 mph in 7.5 seconds, while managing roughly 33 mpg in average fuel consumption.

The model will join the recently announced hybrid RC 300h, which isn’t offered in the States either.

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Piston Slap: The Fallacy of Aftermarket Performance? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/piston-slap-fallacy/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/piston-slap-fallacy/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 16:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1125361   Evan writes: Hi Sajeev! How do people get your name wrong when it is in your email address? But that wasn’t why I was calling. My question: are aftermarket parts for brand spanking new cars sensible? For instance, I’m picking up an Audi SQ5 and there are these ‘x-brace’ things and mount inserts. Why would Audi […]

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034-505-2016-animation

(animation courtesy: store.034motorsport.com)

Evan writes:

Hi Sajeev!

How do people get your name wrong when it is in your email address? But that wasn’t why I was calling. My question: are aftermarket parts for brand spanking new cars sensible?

For instance, I’m picking up an Audi SQ5 and there are these ‘x-brace’ things and mount inserts. Why would Audi not have engineered it well enough in the first place? Money savings? They didn’t think whatever attribute x-braces add was ‘for’ the SQ5 demographic?

Or are companies selling mount inserts and eXtra bracing to people with $60k sport-crossoverUVs selling snake oil?

Thanks for the insight!

Sajeev answers:

You can’t make generalizations — except about the horrible people calling me Sanjeev even though my name’s been plastered all over TTAC since March 2006…but I digress.

Vehicles are designed to a certain expectation of performance, ride quality, cost constraints, and acceptance to a wide variety of consumer preferences. Aftermarket performance modifications can do better than factory stuff.

But some are worse than other aftermarket alternatives, especially against those of a creative and grassroots racer nature. Sadly, many (either by themselves or in a package) only make a difference to the owner’s perception of vehicle performance and some parts are worse than what came from the factory (i.e. oversized throttle bodies on a naturally-aspirated motor). Take it from the guy that loves tweaking RWD Fords: every scenario above is true.

It’s like walking through a metaphorical minefield: keen research, trusted advisers with years of hands-on experience, and hours of internet forum digging are mandatory to sort fact from fiction.

So, shut up and tell us, what’s the scoop on these SQ5 bits? Well, I’ve never driven said vehicle…

However, I rather like those billet aluminum bushing inserts, even though billet and anodized finishes are often overpriced flash. Yes, many forms of motorsport require such fancypants materials, but that doesn’t apply to the SQ5. Flash doesn’t sell me; tangible improvements in performance does. To wit, these babies likely improve performance out of the hole, especially with an aftermarket computer tune bumping up performance, reducing torque management and perking up throttle response.

Yet I wonder if there’s a universal fit, solid (rubber or invasive polyurethane) bushing you can buy from a catalog (or from another VAG product) — which might be like, waaay cheaper, son.

And since a new Audi is far from the flexi-flyer chassis of my beloved Fox Ford products, I question the value of any chassis improvement on a higher dollar luxury car, much less a billet aluminum one. Does it stiffen the chassis and improve feel enough to matter? Maybe it helps NVH control. Perhaps handling is more confident with other modifications. Odds are, though, it won’t make the SQ5 any quicker on a track.

Consider, if you will, improving the factory part: adding metal (perhaps triangular sheetmetal between the weak points?) welded it up by someone familiar with roll cages. Perhaps that aftermarket part is a good template. That’s more labor and it won’t be billet aluminum pretty…but, right or wrong, it’s the other side of this coin.

Don’t forget one other important fact: modifications are worth pennies on the dollar in the vehicle resale department. Many will lower the value as stock vehicles are preferred at trade-in time. The SQ5’s bits add curb appeal for buyers motivated to get on their hands and knees to see them, which amounts to precisely nobody in the used car market.

Don’t get me wrong, I love modifying cars with cool aftermarket bits, but it boils down to two words: buyer beware

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Crapwagon Outtake: 1987 Buick Regal Turbo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/crapwagon-outtake/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/crapwagon-outtake/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 15:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1128617 I never thought much of Buicks as a kid. When it came to daily drivers, dad was an Oldsmobile man. See a very young Chris below, detailing dad’s Cutty sedan. Buicks were old-man cars. My grandpa drove Buicks. Underfunded Indy 500 drivers drove and exploded Buicks. One day, I recall someone light up a set […]

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I never thought much of Buicks as a kid. When it came to daily drivers, dad was an Oldsmobile man. See a very young Chris below, detailing dad’s Cutty sedan. Buicks were old-man cars. My grandpa drove Buicks. Underfunded Indy 500 drivers drove and exploded Buicks.
One day, I recall someone light up a set of BFG Radials with a black Buick Grand National (remember, kids, street racing is bad), and my opinions changed. All of a sudden, Buick was bringing back the muscle car!

This time, rather than big blocks and massive carbs, Buick was generating performance with a page from the import playbook: turbocharging. That same G-body architecture found in dad’s Olds was home to some of the most advanced powertrain engineering to come out of Detroit. It’s even been said that GM underrated the power found in the later Turbo Buicks so as not to encroach on the mighty Corvette.

Grand Nationals and GNXs have been bringing big money lately. The ’87, for example, can fetch close to six figures according to Hagerty’s valuation guide. So I went in search of a boosted Buick that wasn’t so dear.

This ’87 Turbo Regal (ignore the dealer’s “Grand National” title) for $13,000 seems much more reasonably priced. The medium grey was a popular color and looks especially menacing with the blacked-out trim. Since it’s not nearly as sought after as the limited-edition cars, yet has nearly the same performance, one could modify the car for even better performance without destroying a precious collector car. The options the original buyer chose are a bit odd, though. Power mirrors but manual windows? The shift knob seems to have gone missing as well, but this looks quite clean otherwise.

I walked through my nearby Buick lot on Sunday morning, eyeballing the new Regal. The GS looks especially attractive, with polished 19-inch rims that certainly scream performance, but the classics keep calling me and I really don’t know how I’d choose between the two.

Your humble author as a toddler. This car probably has 22s now.

Your humble author as a toddler. This car probably has 22s now.

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“I Really Do Think This Is Going To Be The DUI Of The Future” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/really-think-going-dui-future/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/really-think-going-dui-future/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 13:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1129641 I am utterly convinced that our descendants will look on the aggressive prosecution of “distracted driving” the way hipster kids today look at the “Reefer Madness” scare of the Thirties. As police departments across the nation weigh the relative rates at which smartphone owners and career drunk drivers pay their court fines in a timely […]

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distracted

I am utterly convinced that our descendants will look on the aggressive prosecution of “distracted driving” the way hipster kids today look at the “Reefer Madness” scare of the Thirties. As police departments across the nation weigh the relative rates at which smartphone owners and career drunk drivers pay their court fines in a timely fashion (hint: it’s heavily weighed in favor of the former category), the shrill call to take additional action against people holding phones for any reason including navigation will reach a fever pitch not seen among American law enforcement since an idiot named Jack Anderson told them the Glock 17 could sneak through a metal detector. A claim, by the way, that Rachel Maddow repeated a few years ago, presumably because Maddow is either a deliberate liar or an unknowing dupe.

American drivers with more than a few days’ experience will note that the police tend to choose their speedtrap locations not by the risk that speeding in a given location poses to public safety but rather by ease of access and proximity to well-heeled drivers who are likely to quickly pay their tickets. In my hometown of Columbus, for example, speed enforcement on Route 315, which runs from the wealthy suburbs to the downtown offices, is constant and vigilant. Speed enforcement on Route 71, which runs parallel through the city but has exits leading to the ghetto and the truck stops instead of the ‘burbs, is nonexistent with the exception of the short stretch that connects the outerbelt to the upscale mall. As a consequence, Route 315 is an orderly low-speed commuter parade every day and Route 71 looks like a scene from Mad Max: Fury Road.

This cash-directed approach to safety has reached a new nadir, however, with a distracted-driving program that targets drivers who are incapable of doing any harm whatsoever.

In Marietta, Georgia, the police are posing as construction workers, which allows them to walk up to drivers who are stuck in stalled construction-zone traffic and issue them tickets for distracted driving. Never mind that no actual driving is taking place, unless you call sitting in a car with your foot on the brake for ten minutes at a time “driving”, in which case you’re going to just love “driving” in Chicago. The sheer ridiculousness of claiming that the public is endangered by cars that are not moving wouldn’t disgrace any council of the pigs in Animal Farm.

“Anytime you’re in the road, in the roadway, you’re in gear and in control of the roadway. Even reading it falls under the code section as well,” one officer told a driver.

The tickets are $150 and one point on your license. Police say texting and driving is a growing problem that needs to stop.

“I really think this is the DUI of the future. Impairment is still a problem, but this distracted driving is killing as many people as drunk drivers,” [Marietta officer Nick] Serkedakis said.

Let me correct that last sentence:

“I really think this is the DUI of the future. Impairment is still a problem, but this distracted driving is killing as many people as drunk drivers,” [Marietta officer Nick] Serkedakis LIED.

I hope you caught the word LIED in my correction. Because it’s a lie. Even the Huffington Post, which typically gives the mostly illusory problem of “distracted driving” a big slurpy blowjob every time the subject comes up, has to admit the actual facts.

In 2012, 3,328 Americans died in crashes involving a distracted driver, while 10,322 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes.

Let me edit that sentence for truth:

In 2012, 3,328 Americans died in crashes that could have possibly involved a theoretically distracted driver according to whatever cop took time to look in the car, while 10,322 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes that are always verified by blood testing for purposes of legal prosecution.

Let me offer a sentence of similar veracity for you:

According to Jack Baruth, a noted collector of “Sengir Vampire” Magic : The Gathering cards, there are probably at least five million women in the Midwest who can have an orgasm just by touching a Sengir Vampire card in the presence of a handsome, bearded man. On the other hand, there are sixteen ounces in a pound.

I’m not saying that it’s a great idea to go rocking down the road while sending selfies to your “boo” or playing Plants vs. Zombies or even reading Wikipedia, but to even think about equating texting-and-driving with drunk driving is to exaggerate the former for profit while endangering lives by de-prioritizing enforcement of the latter. Every cop who is playing fake construction worker looking for easy marks in stopped cars is one fewer cop out there catching actual criminals doing actual dangerous things. If, as Office Nick says, texting-while-driving enforcement is “The DUI Of The Future”, then take my advice: don’t let your children leave the house after the bars close, because the DUI Of The Present will kill them stone dead.

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Is It Real Baby Seal? Tucker #52 Gets First Public Showing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/real-baby-seal-tucker-52-gets-first-public-showing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/real-baby-seal-tucker-52-gets-first-public-showing/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 12:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1128177 Some automotive production figures are etched in cast iron, if you will. There are only six Bugatti Royales and likewise only a half dozen real Shelby Daytona Coupes. Read any history of the Tucker car written in the last three decades and you’ll find that there have been 51 Tuckers, of which 47 have survived in […]

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IMG_0453

Some automotive production figures are etched in cast iron, if you will. There are only six Bugatti Royales and likewise only a half dozen real Shelby Daytona Coupes. Read any history of the Tucker car written in the last three decades and you’ll find that there have been 51 Tuckers, of which 47 have survived in one form or another. Now not all of those 51 were assembled by Preston Tucker’s company. History says 37 production Tuckers were completed, more or less, before the company was shut down with 13  cars left unfinished on the assembly line.

Shortly after the Tucker firm closed, a dozen of those cars were completed, with a final car being assembled from remaining parts many years later. Add the “Tin Goose” prototype and you get 51. Now that a well-known pile of Tucker parts has finally been assembled into a completed car, it will be interesting to see if historians and Tucker enthusiasts change that number to 52.

I’m not talking about the controversial Tucker convertible. That will always have a question mark over its head because of lacunae in its provenance. In contrast, the parts that went into making Tucker #1052 are well documented and for decades Tucker fans have hoped that someone might put them together.

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In 1950, Ezra Schlipf bought many of the Tucker factory’s assets at its bankruptcy auction. He later sold, to a collector named Stan Gilliland, most of the components needed to assemble an entire car. Gilliland was co-founder of the Tucker Automobile Club of America. Chassis #1052 is well documented as being used by the Tucker factory to test a proposed automatic transmission that they hoped would replace the preselector transmission in the production cars. Tucker #1018 hit a tree broadside in 1948, totaling the car but leaving the entire front end undamaged. That front clip ended up with chassis #1052. The body parts also included new-old-stock bumpers, front doors, cowl, hood, quarter panels and a rear decklid. A Tucker engine and transmission, plus lots of small parts, completed the lot.

Gilliland, though, never got around to putting things together and sold the lot at auction to noted Detroit area collector Dick Kughn in 2002. Kughn subsequently sold the yet-to-be Tucker to Wayne Lensing, who wanted to make an exhibit depicting the Tucker factory’s assembly line.

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Tucker enthusiasts are an interesting lot and to say they are passionate and opinionated is an understatement. With so few cars available, they collect just about everything associated with the Tucker company, the Tucker car or with Preston Tucker. Two different car museums in Michigan alone have Tucker archives and artifacts.

Bumpers and body parts aren’t the only NOS Tucker parts that have surfaced. You can’t start production of a car without having at least as many engines on hand as cars you are planning on building. In fact, Tucker bought an entire company — Air Cooled Engines, the corporate heir to the Franklin air-cooled car company (there is a Franklin logo on Tucker engines) — just so he could reliably source engines in the still-production-controlled postwar era. The flat-six engines, originally used in helicopters, were reengineered to be water cooled, and Tucker ordered 98 powerplants. As a result, Tucker crate (or rather pallet) engines do surface from time to time.

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John Schuler of Aurora, Indiana, is a Tucker enthusiast and he had been trying to buy a Tucker for years.

“I have been fascinated with buying a Tucker since I was a kid,” he told Old Car Weekly. “I saw their ads in the newspaper and they were neat. I wish I had gotten involved in the Tucker earlier. I would have had a car years ago.”

He’d hear of private sales after they were transacted and he got outbid at auctions. Tuckers typically sell for about $1.1 million plus or minus 10 percent. Eventually, he did acquire a Tucker motor that had been swapped out for a replacement. He knew about the components that Lensing owned, but — like many vintage car owners with persistent “someday I’ll restore it, not for sale” dreams — for a long time Lensing wouldn’t part with the parts. Eventually, though, Schuler prevailed.

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In 2010, the project was begun with Tucker expert Martyn Donaldson cataloging what was in the lot. Since it had been used as a test mule, #1052 was a rolling chassis, complete with suspension and firewall, though lacking a drivetrain. In the lot there were many hard-to-find parts, including items like door handles, the speedometer, and windshield wiper motors.

While some small parts needed to be fabricated, the only major sheetmetal parts not included were the rear doors, the Tucker’s fastback roof, and the floor pan.

Once everything was inventoried, the partially assembled car and the rest of the parts were shipped to Classic and Exotic Service, a highly respected restoration shop run by Brian Joseph in Troy, Michigan. Borrowing the Gilmore Car Museum’s Tucker #1047 to use as a template, Joseph fabricated the remaining body parts. Schuler had Gilliland rebuild a Tucker Y-1 transmission and, where necessary, other previously used parts were restored and installed.

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Preston Tucker, as alluded to above, hoped to sell the Tucker car with a novel automatic transmission that used two variable-vane torque converters, one mounted at each end of a transverse engine’s crankshaft. Not only would that eliminate the need for a differential and individual gears, the vanes could swing past center, providing reverse.

Not able to develop that drivetrain in time, Tucker switched to the Y-1, based on the Cord front-wheel drive transmission.

Joseph’s shop finished the car in maroon to match the Tin Goose prototype.

“The reason for painting it that color is the singer Sofie Tucker, who was [known as] the last of the Red Hot Mommas,” Schuler said. “So my wife thought we should call our car ‘Sofie’ because she will be the last of the red hot Tuckers.”

You can see photos of the restoration while it was in progress at Old Car Weekly.

It’s possible that some Tucker fanatics may not accept Schuler’s #52 as authentic, but he’s being completely transparent about the car, whose history is now very well documented. Whether or not it’s embraced by the Tucker community, it’s likely to be the last Tucker built from original parts. Unless some unknown trove of NOS Tucker parts surfaces, there just aren’t enough surviving original components known to exist for such a project to be possible.

The completed Tucker #1052 had its first public showing at the 2015 Concours of America at St. John’s. From the way it turned heads as it drove onto the show field — even if a few Tucker diehards don’t think it’s real, and Schuler has received some criticism — I don’t think very many people will do anything other than admire number 52. At least part of the establishment Tucker enthusiast community seems to have embraced the project, perhaps because of Gilliland’s involvement or because of how well documented the provenance is, unlike with the Tucker convertible.

Jay Follis runs the Tucker Historical Collection and Library at the Gilmore Car Museum, which, as indicated above, owns Tucker #47. He’s also a former president of the Tucker Automobile Club of America and he’s all for the project.

“I think it’s pretty great that somebody is taking the effort 65 years after the fact.”

I suppose the ultimate measure of its acceptance will be how much it sells for when Schuler or his family decide to part with it. A Duesenberg enthusiast explained to me that there are three kinds of Duesenbergs. There are the numbers matching (or with documented, period replaced components) chassis and engine combinations that still carry their original bodywork. Those sell for millions of dollars and have investment potential. Next there are original chassis with period or modern rebodies. Some of those may have reproduction components like superchargers. Those are worth about a million, plus or minus, and might keep up with inflation. Then there are the “bitsa” Duesenbergs. They may have authentic Duesenberg engines and chassis, but they are modern assemblages. Those are worth in the mid-six figures. Cars to be driven, when you drive them, and people will notice; but they won’t win any ribbons at high end car shows, and they don’t have much upside as investments, though they are welcome at Duesenberg club events.

The Duesenberg brothers and E.L. Cord made hundreds of Model Js, but Preston Tucker and his associates only managed to make a bit more than three dozen cars before the factory shut down. Tucker enthusiasts necessarily have to be less choosy than Duesenberg fans. Few of the 47 — now 48 — surviving cars are completely original in terms of being all-Tucker, let alone factory original. Many have been modified to keep them driving. While some have quibbled over #51 built in the 1980s, that’s the number I usually see mentioned in today’s sources. Serial numbers 1038 thruogh 1050 were all finished after the fact from vehicles whose assembly were started at the Tucker factory. Since #1052’s chassis was indeed assembled and in fact driven at the factory, I don’t think that #1052 should be treated any differently than they are.

By the way, if you want to ride in Tucker style without having to worry about degrading a million dollar artifact, respected hot rod fabricator Rob Ida, whose family owned a Tucker dealership, has made four examples of what he calls the Tucker 48. It’s a dimensionally accurate Tucker body on a modern mid-engine chassis (proving the point I’ve often made about the original rear engined Tucker being a technological dead end). Unfortunately, like the original Tucker’s current status, you can’t order one new from the factory. Rob builds them as a labor of love when the spirit moves him and originally planned to limit them to 51 examples. I suppose now he’ll have to make that 52.

Photos by the author. The full gallery can be seen here.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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QOTD: What’s the Stupidest Automotive Feature? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/qotd-whats-the-stupidest-automotive-feature/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/qotd-whats-the-stupidest-automotive-feature/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 10:43:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1129913 I think it’s time to discuss something that we should’ve brought up a long time ago: the stupidest automotive feature. Oh, sure, we’ve discussed the worst automotive feature, and the best automotive feature, and the automotive feature you wish you had, like spiked tires that could cut through ice and offending road users. But what […]

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2004 Chrysler Crossfire Rear Retractable Spoiler

I think it’s time to discuss something that we should’ve brought up a long time ago: the stupidest automotive feature.

Oh, sure, we’ve discussed the worst automotive feature, and the best automotive feature, and the automotive feature you wish you had, like spiked tires that could cut through ice and offending road users.

But what about the stupidest feature?

I ask this because I think there are a lot of unnecessary automotive features out there in today’s world; items that have no basis or bearing for real life use, or customer desire, brought to us by automakers who are hellbent on coming out with a vehicle that offers the highest possible level of gadgets and equipment so they can use the phrase “BEST IN CLASS” over and over in their ads.

Interestingly, however, I don’t believe the stupidest feature is one of these newfangled ideas that seems to exist for the sheer sake of existing. I believe the stupidest feature is actually an oldie. And it is: a retractable spoiler.

For those of you who don’t know what a retractable spoiler is, allow me to explain. You’re cruising along in your Porsche, or your Bugatti Veyron, or your Volkswagen Corrado, and you hit a certain speed, which is usually something inexplicable like 47 miles per hour or 87 kilometers per hour. And then the spoiler shoots out for no apparent reason other than to alert drivers on the road that you’re in a sporty car.

I’ve never really understood the purpose of this retractable spoiler. Ninety-nine percent of the time, when you see it sticking out on a Porsche 911, the driver is just cruising down the interstate. That’s because the spoiler is designed to deploy based on speed, not driving style, apparently in some bizarre effort to keep your car on the road should you begin to experience the effects of a massive windstorm.

The funny thing is these spoilers are never adequately sized to actually do anything. They’re just there to be spoilers, so you can tell your friends you have a cool spoiler that extends out at speed as if you’re in a race car, when in reality the spoiler is the size of a license plate and it wouldn’t have any effect on any vehicle larger than a Hot Wheels.

So why does this spoiler exist? I really do think it’s for bragging rights. But that’s not the worst part.

2010 Porsche Panamera Turbo Adaptive Motion Rear Spoiler

Oh, no. The worst part is that the retractable spoiler in most modern Porsche models actually can be extended at the push of a button. I want you to consider this. If you decide you need a spoiler on the back of your car, Porsche actually lets you push a button in order to extend it and get you ready for all that serious track use.

Except, of course, this isn’t how anyone uses the spoiler. The only people who actually push that spoiler extender button are the same type of people who drive around wealthy shopping areas looking around to ensure people are looking at them. These are the worst people in the world. The spoiler button is not a spoiler button. It is an asshole button.

So what people do, when they push the asshole button, is they cruise around — not on the race track, or even a drag strip — but just around town, driving like normal, making sure everyone sees how cool their car is because they have a spoiler. Nothing makes a Panamera V6 look cooler, they think, than if you extend the rear spoiler.

But surely, the retractable spoiler is not the single stupidest feature in the world. There are a wide range of stupid features, and I’m sure I can count on you to inform everyone of your personal favorites. However, I must warn you: it’s going to be hard to top the asshole button.

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Senate Committee Approves Bill to Help Detroit Make Hybrids http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/senate-committee-approves-bill-help-detroit-make-hybrids/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/senate-committee-approves-bill-help-detroit-make-hybrids/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 21:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1129497 A U.S. Senate committee for transportation passed along a bill Thursday that included provisions to help domestic automakers develop and build cleaner vehicles, the Detroit News is reporting. The proposal, dubbed the Vehicle Innovation Act, was included in a larger clean energy bill taken up by the committee. The Vehicle Innovation Act would set aside […]

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Chevrolet_Tahoe_Hybrid_O'Malley_--_01-12-2010

A U.S. Senate committee for transportation passed along a bill Thursday that included provisions to help domestic automakers develop and build cleaner vehicles, the Detroit News is reporting.

The proposal, dubbed the Vehicle Innovation Act, was included in a larger clean energy bill taken up by the committee. The Vehicle Innovation Act would set aside $313.6 million next year for research and development of hybrid technology, battery development and alternative fuels such as natural gas. Funding would increase by 4 percent every year up to 2020.

Nearly all major U.S. automotive lobbies representing manufacturers supported the proposal.

The proposal, which will now head to the Senate, faces an extremely difficult future. The bipartisan bill, which was sponsored by Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), and Michigan Democrat Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, may be a long shot in the Republican-controlled House — if it makes it that far.

Separately, a bill that Peters introduced that would allow states to use highway funding to help advance road-to-vehicle communications, passed the Senate as part of a larger transportation package. The bill, called the Vehicle-to-Infrastructure Safety Technology Investment Flexibility Act of 2015 says what it does and does what it says will be part of the Senate’s larger 6-year highway funding package.

Along with the Vehicle Innovation Act, the “smart road” provision and larger funding bill won’t be taken up by the House anytime soon. Congress is working toward a 3-month stopgap measure and will take up the larger spending packages after its August recess.

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Refer 10 New Tesla X Buyers, Get Your Tesla Model X for Free http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/refer-10-new-tesla-x-buyers-get-tesla-model-x-free/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/refer-10-new-tesla-x-buyers-get-tesla-model-x-free/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 20:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1129465 Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk told press Wednesday that people who refer 10 people to buy the company’s new Model X would get one for free, Mashable is reporting (via Car and Driver). The caveats: You need to be the first in your region to refer 10 people (we have no idea on what “regions” mean, […]

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tesladeal

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk told press Wednesday that people who refer 10 people to buy the company’s new Model X would get one for free, Mashable is reporting (via Car and Driver).

The caveats: You need to be the first in your region to refer 10 people (we have no idea on what “regions” mean, we asked) and you’d need to do it by Oct. 31.

Despite how you feel about Tesla, the company is proving that an automaker can be run like a tech startup and not a car company.

The incentive is part of a larger program that Musk detailed in his call.

Any current Model S buyer who refers another new Model S buyer gets $1,000 off the purchase of another Tesla. The new buyer also gets $1,000 off the purchase price of their new car too. Refer five new buyers, and you get a tour of the new Gigafactory. Refer 10 new buyers and get $20,000 knocked off the price of a new Model X.

There isn’t a similar program in place for Tesla’s used cars, but Musk said he’d be open to the possibility.

So, who wants to be a Tesla dealer today?

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OnStar Hack Can Open Doors, Start Car, Track Driver http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/onstar-hack-can-open-doors-start-car-track-driver/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/onstar-hack-can-open-doors-start-car-track-driver/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 19:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1129417 Not content with scaring the bejesus out of Chrysler owners, Wired has uncovered a hacker who says he can open a GM car with OnStar, start it or track it remotely. The only thing he can’t do is put the car in gear or steer it, which still requires a key. Hacker Samy Kamkar says […]

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cq5dam.web.1280.1280-3

Not content with scaring the bejesus out of Chrysler owners, Wired has uncovered a hacker who says he can open a GM car with OnStar, start it or track it remotely. The only thing he can’t do is put the car in gear or steer it, which still requires a key.

Hacker Samy Kamkar says his $100 device can seriously annoy — or seriously rob — a GM car owner if he wanted it to. GM promptly responded by saying it fixed the flaw in a way that owners won’t have update their cars.

Kamkar said his exploit wasn’t mean to cause mayhem, but rather to show how modern, technological cars can be vulnerable to hackers.

Kamkar’s hack wasn’t as simple as the St. Louis duo’s Uconnect exploit that prompted a recall earlier this month.

A WiFi-enabled box would be attached to the target vehicle and emulate a well-known network, such as a popular coffee shop hotspot. Assuming the user logged onto the phony network and launched the GM RemoteLink app, Kamkar’s hack could retrieve the car’s data, including position. Kamkar could unlock the doors — or start the car.

“As soon as you’re on my network and you open the app, I’ve taken over,” Kamkar told Wired.

Kamkar said he’s only tried the hack on his friend’s 2013 Chevrolet Volt, but he’s confident the system would work on any OnStar-enabled car.

GM said it became aware of the hack a few days ago and patched the issue within hours of the story’s publish earlier today.

Surprisingly, this photo is provided by the manufacturer.

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Jeep Posts Biggest Ever Quarterly Sales Total in US http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/jeep-posts-biggest-ever-quarter-us/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/jeep-posts-biggest-ever-quarter-us/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 18:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1129401 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said strong North American sales and brisk worldwide Jeep sales propelled the company to a $364 million profit in the second quarter of 2015, despite record fines from the federal government. Overall, the company earned a pre-tax profit of $1.4 billion, which is double the $650 million it made in the same quarter […]

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Jeep Wrangler American flag

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said strong North American sales and brisk worldwide Jeep sales propelled the company to a $364 million profit in the second quarter of 2015, despite record fines from the federal government.

Overall, the company earned a pre-tax profit of $1.4 billion, which is double the $650 million it made in the same quarter last year, the Detroit Free Press reported.

The earnings beat expectations for the company, whose profit margins are still below the other domestic automakers. FCA reports its margin was 7.7 percent in the second quarter, up from 4.9 percent last year, but well behind the double-digit margins of Ford and General Motors.

FCA chief Sergio Marchionne delivered the results in London on Thursday. Wall Street responded at 11:30 a.m. ET by boosting the automaker’s shares by nearly 5 percent.

Executives said the Jeep brand was up 19 percent in the U.S. over the quarter, buoyed by record sales of the Wrangler and other models, which was the brand’s best-ever showing, according to Business Insider.

In Europe, FCA posted a $62 million profit, compared to no profit from the same time a year ago. The global automaker said it expects to ship 4.8 million cars by the end of the year.

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Fiat Chrysler’s Product Pipeline Drier than California for 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/fiat-chryslers-new-us-cars-far-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/fiat-chryslers-new-us-cars-far-2016/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 17:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1129321 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles may have only one new model built in North America over the next 18 months after executives pushed back development of others due to brisk sales of current models, Reuters is reporting. The redesigned Chrysler Town and Country minivan may be the only new car built stateside that FCA plans to launch in […]

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2015 Chrysler Town & Country

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles may have only one new model built in North America over the next 18 months after executives pushed back development of others due to brisk sales of current models, Reuters is reporting.

The redesigned Chrysler Town and Country minivan may be the only new car built stateside that FCA plans to launch in the next 18 months, sources told Reuters. The company is planning to bring to the United States three Italian cars — the Fiat Spider, Maserati’s crossover and the Alfa Romeo Giulia — in the same timeframe.

This is the part where we would like to mention that a new Jeep Grand Cherokee and Wrangler are seriously overdue.

The reason for the delay in U.S.-built cars also could be the application of the time-tested Georgia farmer theory: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Wrangler sales are booming this year, Grand Cherokee’s numbers don’t suck either and Jeep is doing pretty well with just the Renegade as its new product this year. According to the story, the Wrangler redesign is now slated for 2017 and the Grand Cherokee overhaul should arrive in 2019.

Earlier this year, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said he was hesitant to shut down the Toledo Wrangler factory for retooling when the company needed the plant to produce so many cars.

“If I shut it down for 60 days, I’d lose more money than I’d make in a year,” Marchionne said.

Comparatively, General Motors will launch six new North American vehicles in the next 18 months, according to the report.

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IIHS: Not All Ford F-150s Are Built Just As Tough http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/iihs-not-ford-f-150s-built-just-tough/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/iihs-not-ford-f-150s-built-just-tough/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 16:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1129193 Automotive News is reporting the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety will rate versions of Ford’s F-150 pickup with dramatically different safety ratings after re-testing versions of the pickup, which is a highly unusual move for the safety nonprofit. The SuperCrew cab version of the F-150 earned the highest marks from the IIHS in its small overlap […]

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2015_Ford_F-150_Pickup_Truck

Automotive News is reporting the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety will rate versions of Ford’s F-150 pickup with dramatically different safety ratings after re-testing versions of the pickup, which is a highly unusual move for the safety nonprofit.

The SuperCrew cab version of the F-150 earned the highest marks from the IIHS in its small overlap crash test, earning a Top Safety Pick rating. The re-tested SuperCab registers only a “marginal” rating in the same crash.

The difference, according to Automotive News, are tubular frames called “wheel blockers” installed on the SuperCrew, but missing from the SuperCab and Regular Cab models.

David Zuby, who is the chief research officer for the IIHS, said that the crash ratings between different cab versions could give buyers the wrong impression.

“(It) shortchanges buyers who might pick the extended cab thinking it offers the same protection in this type of crash as the crew cab,” Zuby told Automotive News.

A Ford spokesman said the company would look into adding additional safety measures into the Regular Cab and SuperCab versions of the F-150 for 2016.

The wheel blockers present on the SuperCrew, but missing on the SuperCab and Regular Cab, significantly varied the trucks’ performances on the small overlap crash test. In the follow-up test conducted on the SuperCab, the “intruding structure seriously compromised the driver’s survival space,” the IIHS told Automotive News.

The notoriously difficult small overlap test has been particularly difficult for automakers to solve. It’s unclear why Ford put the wheel blockers on the SuperCrew, but not the SuperCab and Regular Cab. Zuby offered a possible solution.

“I think automakers are trying to design the vehicles to offer the best protection for their customers,” he told Automotive News. “But occasionally, we do see evidence that maybe they are trying to get a good rating in a test, maybe without looking for a completely holistic solution.”

The IIHS tests only high-volume models. Historically the SuperCab and Regular Cab models only comprised 25 and 5 percent of sales respectively.

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TTAC Project Car: Sacrifice to The Sierra Gods! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/ttac-project-car-sacrifice-sierra-gods/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/ttac-project-car-sacrifice-sierra-gods/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 12:00:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1128273   No surprise, the auto journo that insists on everything LS-swapped is actually a big ol’ fraud. Do as he says, not as he does with TTAC’s Project Car — a 1983 Ford Sierra Ghia previously reviewed with the promise of more to come. Promises: kept. After scouring the interwebs, reading about the Sierra’s factory […]

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Merkur? ZOMG SANJEEV Y U NO LS1-FTW?

Merkur? ZOMG SANJEEV Y U NO LS1-FTW?

No surprise, the auto journo that insists on everything LS-swapped is actually a big ol’ fraud. Do as he says, not as he does with TTAC’s Project Car — a 1983 Ford Sierra Ghia previously reviewed with the promise of more to come.

Promises: kept.

After scouring the interwebs, reading about the Sierra’s factory shortcomings and applying a modicum of common sense, the ultimate in Chevrolet LS-performance was beyond my financial scope and my intentions for a Mk1 Sierra. Stuffing 10 pounds of shit into a 5-pound bag, no matter the ability to make the baddest, brown, 5-door hatch on the planet, wasn’t in the cards.

1988 Thunderbird Turbo Coupe

Then a 1988 Thunderbird Turbo Coupe arrived via phone call. Bought by my friend (and infamous LeMons racer) Brian Pollock as a rust-free restomod worthy of a good home, he parted it out to feed his racing addiction. True to form, he made a quick buck off me with its valuable Fox Body parts, but our conversation soon regressed to the Sierra-worthy goodies: the turbocharged 2.3-liter mill, EEC-IV fuel injection, T-5 gearbox (a la Sierra Cosworth), the largest injectors/camshaft/manifold/VAM of its breed, rear disc brakes and even a serpentine accessory belt drive. It was all mine for $700, with Brian’s commitment to be the craftsman behind this madness.

IMG_5310

Then another LeMons racer offered the running, restorable 1988 Merkur XR4ti (American Sierra to you noobs) seen in this article’s introduction. Sure, the motor’s hurt, but it rounds out the Sierra’s Ford-ification: a drop-in EFI wiring harness/fuel system/clutch, bigger (front) brakes, firmer springs, fatter anti-sway bars, stronger 7.5-inch differential and countless interior bits including a boost gauge.

$600? Sold! There’s even my favorite 2.3-liter aluminum cam cover with complimentary mud dauber nest:

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Shockingly, the Merkur’s hurt motor fired up on first attempt after a 2+ year slumber. Once the amazement subsided (terrible quality YouTube video remains), the notion of driving a parts car certainly beats pushing the damn thing.

For the price of an LS1 take-out motor, my path to being a complete fraud — a two-faced bastard of massive proportions — was complete. Plus, I enjoy slamming performance Ford parts in Ford products where they do not belong. It’s been my shtick with non-Mustang Fox Bodies since 1999.

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Necessary Aside: Behold the amazing parts interchangeability of (disturbingly comfortable) Turbo Coupe seats in Brian’s Ford truck. It’s also a 5-speed Fummins conversion, garnering attention from the tow-savvy among the B&B in our last article, effortlessly yanking the Merkur, T-bird and the Sierra around Texas. Aside from the color clash, this embodies everything I wanted to share in this update.

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That’s a very handy book to find in the back seat of your Merkur parts car. I bet I can get $50 for it when I’m done with the swap. So what’s next for TTAC’s Ford Sierra?

The Turbo Coupe is stripped; of no further use to anyone but China. It’ll be scrap metal by the time you read this.

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The Merkur isn’t long for this world, but the sacrificial lamb’s pain is pure pleasure to The Sierra Gods. I suspect we’re swapping subframes (for that stiffer suspension and big differential), grabbing fuel, drivetrain and EFI wiring bits in the coming months. And since its rust free, maybe I’ll sawzall off the rocker panels as the Sierra is a tad rusty-crusty after those hard UK winters.

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Most of this is on Brian’s plate, but me? I’m ensuring the Merkur’s computer accepts a tune like the (better) unit salvaged from the Turbo Coupe, with input from my SCT tuner friend. Perhaps intake, exhaust and camshaft upgrades are in the mix. You never know!

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I’m also geeking out over the Merkur’s factory boost gauge via installation into the Sierra’s cluster. Not a direct drop in, as the right-hand-drive Sierra puts the speedometer (and cable) on the wrong side of the assembly.

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Nothing I can’t handle.

What other roadblocks shall TTAC’s project encounter? Until next time!

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QOTD: What Brand/Model Existed Before Its Time? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/qotd-what-brandmodel-existed-before-its-time/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/qotd-what-brandmodel-existed-before-its-time/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 11:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1128761 Way at the bottom of the comments on yesterday’s Hyundai Santa Cruz article was a reference to a vehicle that I think, if it was built today, would probably sell better today than it ever did when it was new. The Isuzu VehiCROSS, for all its faults, is (almost) exactly what people are craving today in a […]

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2000-isuzu-vehicross

Way at the bottom of the comments on yesterday’s Hyundai Santa Cruz article was a reference to a vehicle that I think, if it was built today, would probably sell better today than it ever did when it was new.

The Isuzu VehiCROSS, for all its faults, is (almost) exactly what people are craving today in a crossover-fueled market: go-anywhere utility, a tall sitting position, and full wrap-around plastic body cladding. Oh, and you either love it or hate it, just like every other new, successful crossover hitting the market in America at the rate of 2.5 new models per second.

Think about it. The sales of non-crossover, non-SUV and non-truck models in America is rather stagnant at the moment. This is pretty evident at Hyundai. The South Korean automaker’s car-heavy lineup is experiencing growth, but it’s a far cry from the industry average mostly due to a lack of crossovers and utilities in its lineup (the other big part being the Tucson getting pretty long in the tooth and uncompetitive against more established rivals).

Now, what if you could build a brand that was the complete inverse of Hyundai? Lots of SUVs. Little to no cars. Unlike Jeep, this brand could tout “Japanese build quality” and not be saddled with traditionalist design cues. That sounds a lot like Isuzu.

The VehiCROSS is just what America is craving, too. No, I don’t mean a two-door, body-on-frame SUV powered by a pair of V-6 engines. The most successful new entrants in the crossover and SUV space in the last few years have been styled in a way that leaves nobody wondering whether they love it or hate it — Nissan Juke, Buick Encore, Ford Edge, etc. The VehiCROSS certainly fits that bill.

What do you think, Best & Brightest? What brand or model from yesteryear was sold and killed off before its time?

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Volkswagen Bringing Safety To The People For 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/volkswagen-bringing-safety-to-the-people-for-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/volkswagen-bringing-safety-to-the-people-for-2016/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 21:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1128569 Volkswagen has announced sweeping changes to their suite of tech-driven safety features for the 2016 model year, making a vast array of options available on almost every model within its range. The features, which are currently only available on the Touareg, will trickle down to a number of other models including the Beetle, CC, Jetta, […]

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Der neue Volkswagen Touareg

Volkswagen has announced sweeping changes to their suite of tech-driven safety features for the 2016 model year, making a vast array of options available on almost every model within its range.

The features, which are currently only available on the Touareg, will trickle down to a number of other models including the Beetle, CC, Jetta, Passat and Golf in all its flavors.

Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front Assist); Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC); the Parking Steering Assistant (Park Assist); and an active Lane Departure Warning (Lane Assist) system” are all mentioned in the release sent out today by Volkswagen of America.

The changes are also part of a planned upgrade to infotainment systems in Volkswagen vehicles for 2016. The new infotainment system, dubbed MIB II, will bring with it an improved touchscreen display and USB ports to Volkswagen’s most popular models.

You can check out the full changes to Volkswagen’s safety features on their media portal.

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Reuters: Subaru Success Fueled By Marginalized Foreign Workers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/reuters-subaru-success-fueled-by-marginalized-foreign-workers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/reuters-subaru-success-fueled-by-marginalized-foreign-workers/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 20:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1128529 Reuters Investigates has a scathing report on foreign workers in Japan at some of Subaru’s most important suppliers. According to the news agency, due to the combination of a booming “Abenomics”, Japan’s 2010 asylum seeker program, and manufacturers looking for cheap sources of expendable labor, foreigners are taken advantage of and treated as second- and […]

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2015-Subaru-Forester

Reuters Investigates has a scathing report on foreign workers in Japan at some of Subaru’s most important suppliers. According to the news agency, due to the combination of a booming “Abenomics”, Japan’s 2010 asylum seeker program, and manufacturers looking for cheap sources of expendable labor, foreigners are taken advantage of and treated as second- and third-class workers. Another program meant to help Chinese citizens learn manufacturing skills in Japan is also implicated in helping Subaru take advantage of marginalized immigrant workers.

Subaru isn’t the only automotive manufacturer named as the same suppliers also feed parts to Honda and Toyota.

The long, detailed report states there are nearly 18,000 foreign residents in Ota, Subaru’s manufacturing home base in Japan, “making it a rare example of multiculturalism in a country stubbornly resistant to immigration” at three times the national average by percentage of population.

However, that immigration isn’t officially of the economic variety as is typically seen between industrialized nations, but of asylum seekers looking for a better life and finding their way into Japan through labor brokers and as indebted trainees. The situation has also been an example of institutionalized racism within Japan.

From Reuters:

In Ota’s auto industry, labor brokers and a manager at a Subaru supplier said ethnicity plays a part in how workers are placed: Japanese workers are at the top of the chain, followed by Brazilians of Japanese descent, who have been in the country longer under a special visa category and can speak the language. They’re followed by South Asians, many of them asylum seekers, and lastly, African workers at the bottom of the pyramid. An executive at one local manufacturer said he favored asylum seekers from Nepal, Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh, who he said are more willing to take on difficult jobs for lower pay.

“We carefully examined the matter and confirmed that this was not the case,” Subaru said in a written response to questions from Reuters.

The conditions for asylum-seekers-turned-workers in Ota are fueled by Subaru’s popular Forester, Reuters states in the report, running counter to the company’s “Love Promise” to make “a positive impact in the world.” Some workers make as little as minimum wage — $6.60 an hour — before labor brokers take their own cut off the top for housing, utilities and “dispatch fees” for arranging employment.

Many of the employees, typically on short-term contracts, are working illegally while on provisional release from immigration detention centers.

From Reuters:

Asked how people on provisional release were supposed to survive if they were barred from working, Hidetoshi Ogawa, a senior official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said they should rely on support from their relatives, friends and local charities. He said provisional release was a humanitarian measure to avoid long-term detention, “but in truth, these people should leave the country.”

The terms of employment, conditions of work, and treatment of the workers is fully detailed in the report and not what you’d expect from a supposed First World country like Japan.

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Honda Accord, Toyota Camry Will Get Turbo Fours Soon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/honda-accord-toyota-camry-will-get-turbo-fours-soon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/honda-accord-toyota-camry-will-get-turbo-fours-soon/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 19:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1128169 The best-selling mid-size sedans in the United States will catch up to their competition by offering boosted fours under their hoods soon, Automotive News is reporting (via Car & Driver). The long-running Camry will replace its six-cylinder engine with the turbo four, though the Accord is likely to use a new, smaller, boosted four pot to replace its base […]

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2016 Honda Accord

The best-selling mid-size sedans in the United States will catch up to their competition by offering boosted fours under their hoods soon, Automotive News is reporting (via Car & Driver).

The long-running Camry will replace its six-cylinder engine with the turbo four, though the Accord is likely to use a new, smaller, boosted four pot to replace its base four-cylinder engine.

The Camry’s turbo four comes from the newly announced Lexus IS200t and NX200t, which will produce around 235 horsepower (or 241 in the IS200t) and 258 pound-feet of torque. The turbo four would likely replace the 3.5-liter V-6 option at the top of the range for Toyota, which makes 268 horsepower.

Honda’s solution is on the other end of the spectrum. Their 1.5-liter turbo four, borrowed from the new Civic, will likely replace the 2.4-liter naturally aspirated base engine that cranks 184 horsepower. The smaller engine would likely improve upon the 27 mpg city/36 mpg highway rating that the base model has now.

The force-fed Camry and Accord models would join the ranks of mid-size sedans already including smaller displacement, turbocharged engines such as the Ford Fusion, Chevrolet Malibu and Volkswagen Passat.

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Hyundai May Actually Make The Tucson-based Santa Cruz, But… http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/hyundai-may-actually-make-santa-fe-based-truck/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/hyundai-may-actually-make-santa-fe-based-truck/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 18:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1128001 Hyundai America chief Dave Zuchowski told Car and Driver that he expects the Santa Cruz Concept, seen here, to be given the go-ahead from Korean bosses this year. That means the Subaru Brat-inspired pickup, based on the Hyundai Tucson, could go on sale sometime soon, for which you can pay actual money for a real one of these (maybe […]

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Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept

Hyundai America chief Dave Zuchowski told Car and Driver that he expects the Santa Cruz Concept, seen here, to be given the go-ahead from Korean bosses this year.

That means the Subaru Brat-inspired pickup, based on the Hyundai Tucson, could go on sale sometime soon, for which you can pay actual money for a real one of these (maybe with a diesel!) compact pickups. However, the pickup’s viability hinges on a couple key points.

The concept, which was unveiled in Detroit last year, was received very well by most accounts. But that may not be what spurs Hyundai into making it. The recent crossover and pickup boom leaves Hyundai’s sedan-focused fleet a little high and dry, C&D correctly points out. Variants based on their few crossovers could come fast and furious from the Korean automaker.

However, the challenges with bringing the Santa Cruz are its form factor and what sits underneath its stylish skin.

For starters, the pickup is … well, a pickup. To get around the dreaded Chicken Tax, Hyundai will have to build the Santa Cruz within the NAFTA zone or face a 25-percent tariff upon importation to the United States.

The next problem compounds the first: The Tucson, on which the Santa Cruz is based, is only built outside the NAFTA zone. Currently, the only vehicles Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama builds are the Elantra and Sonata. Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia builds the only American-assembled Hyundai, the Santa Fe.

Looking south of the border might be the solution. Kia is set to open a new facility in Mexico in 2016 that’s tipped to assemble sub-compact and compact cars, as well as crossovers.

If the concept does get the greenlight from decision makers in South Korea, it’s unclear what from the concept will make it to the production model. The yellow Brembo brakes and side-view mirror accents may get left on the floor, but its diesel engine could survive. The engine in the concept was a 2-liter, turbocharged oil burner that made 190 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. It could be a smaller-displacement version lifted from a Santa Fe — or complete fantasy.

In Detroit, Hyundai hinted that it could get a gas-powered option, but didn’t specify if that would be the 2.4-liter naturally aspirated engine or the company’s 2-liter turbo.

Apparently we won’t have to wait long to find out with a decision expected in November. But how many can they realistically sell?

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Nissan To Trump-bashing California Dealer Ad: ‘No Bueno’ [Video] http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/nissan-trump-bashing-california-dealer-ad-no-bueno-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/nissan-trump-bashing-california-dealer-ad-no-bueno-video/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 17:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1127961 Nissan scolded one of its dealers Tuesday for releasing an ad showing the battering of a piñata resembling Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Automotive News is reporting. The ad depicts salesmen repeatedly hitting a Trump-looking piñata and declaring, “At Van Nuys Nissan, Latinos rule.” The ad was made after Trump denounced some undocumented Mexican immigrants […]

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Van Nuys Nissan

Nissan scolded one of its dealers Tuesday for releasing an ad showing the battering of a piñata resembling Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Automotive News is reporting.

The ad depicts salesmen repeatedly hitting a Trump-looking piñata and declaring, “At Van Nuys Nissan, Latinos rule.” The ad was made after Trump denounced some undocumented Mexican immigrants as “rapists” in a June political speech.

“We find these advertisements to be neither responsible or respectful, and we do not condone what they represent,” Nissan said in a statement. “We expect our dealers to establish advertising that is responsible and respectful and represents the best interest of the Nissan brand.”

Commenters have blasted Nissan of Van Nuys for airing the ad.

“I’m Hispanic, and I’m embarrassed for you. I’d never go to your dealership based on your crappy reviews. The idiotic piñata thing is the icing on the cake,” one commenter wrote. “Van Nuys Nissan, get your PR crew together and get rid of that racist manager.”

Nissan said it respected the dealer’s right to free speech.

Of course, this is hardly the first dealer to air a controversial ad. Nor is it the most entertainingly profane (link NSFW, obviously).

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Oh, Hello There Previously Unseen Jaguar F-Pace http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/oh-hello-previously-unseen-jaguar-f-pace/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/oh-hello-previously-unseen-jaguar-f-pace/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 16:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1127873 Jaguar’s coming crossover, dubbed F-Pace, was sent all over the world to test in various climates, and the automaker is sharing its photo album from the trip. The F-Pace pictured here is only slightly camouflaged ahead of its official unveiling in Frankfurt later this year. The pictures show a crossover that’s expected to take on […]

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Jag_FPACE_Cold_Test_Image_290715_02_LowRes

Jaguar’s coming crossover, dubbed F-Pace, was sent all over the world to test in various climates, and the automaker is sharing its photo album from the trip.

The F-Pace pictured here is only slightly camouflaged ahead of its official unveiling in Frankfurt later this year. The pictures show a crossover that’s expected to take on the likes of the BMW X4 and Porsche Macan when it goes on sale next year — if the automaker is to be taken seriously.

The body in the photos closely resembles the C-X17 concept that Jaguar showed off a couple years ago, and spy shots that have been circulating for a while.

While it appears that the rear tail lamps will likely be different on the production version, the concept’s aggressive hood lines and sloping roof line have remained the same. Even from the front, the Jaguar looks, well, almost Jaguar-ish.

The statement from the automaker didn’t reveal any details about what could be stuffed under the hood. Everything from a six- to eight-cylinder engine could make its way in there, forced induction or not. We’ll learn more when the crossover concept becomes a reality in Frankfurt.

The Frankfurt Motor Show begins Sept. 15.

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Richard Rawlings Is Fast N’ Loud N’ Pouring Light http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/fast-n-loud-n-pouring-light/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/fast-n-loud-n-pouring-light/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 15:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1127857 Thomas Kreutzer’s original post about Discovery’s Fast N’ Loud is one of the most popular articles in TTAC history, for reasons that completely escape me. I’ve never been able to watch more than five minutes of the show. I also have a healthy dose of contempt for the show’s star, Richard Rawlings, and his entirely […]

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PATRON-SILVER-750ML

Thomas Kreutzer’s original post about Discovery’s Fast N’ Loud is one of the most popular articles in TTAC history, for reasons that completely escape me. I’ve never been able to watch more than five minutes of the show. I also have a healthy dose of contempt for the show’s star, Richard Rawlings, and his entirely unsupported claim of a “new Cannonball record” a few years ago. To claim a “Cannonball record” for driving a different route from Brock’s original and then to approach the matter of actual proof with a the-dog-ate-my-homework mindset… well, that’s like telling people that you’re the lead singer in a Justin Bieber cover band but that you can’t actually sing quite like the Biebs and you also forgot to put up any YouTube videos of your performances. What’s the point?

Regardless of the merits of the TV show or the tattoo-commemorated record, however, one thing you cannot deny is that Mr. Rawlings is an extremely sharp businessman and entrepreneur who maximizes his profit from every opportunity. And the latest news from Dallas might be further proof of that.

To capitalize on his fame from “Fast N’ Loud”, Rawlings opened up a bar in 2013. One can only assume that it’s patronized by middle-aged, middle-management men who like a bit of the ol’ leather biker cosplay on the weekends. But if those patrons want Patron, they might want to be careful. According to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Rawlings’ operation is playing fast n’ loose with the liquor:

The operation, the first ever of its kind, identified that at least five Dallas-Fort Worth Bars had, on at least on occasion, served counterfeit booze to its customers. At present, the only Dallas bar that has been identified is Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill.

Not to worry, the bar has an explanation:

“One explanation could be that Patron is served chilled, which can water down the product if testing wasn’t done immediately,” says Mendonsa. “We would never refill bottles with a cheaper alternative or serve a cheaper liquor in place of premium. Not only is that unethical, but also because it puts too much at risk — our liquor permit and our reputation are only two examples. We are too high-profile to take such extreme measures to save a few nickels.”

This explanation, which is more or less taken from a Seinfeld episode featuring George Costanza, did not prevent the TABC from issuing a warning to Gas Monkey. While it’s difficult to muster sympathy for any semi-human being whose idea of a good time is heading over to the ol’ Gas Monkey and ordering up some Patron, there’s a genuine sense of appropriate irony to the whole thing. In a world where “reality TV” is tacitly acknowledged to be unreal, and someone can build a public identity around a street-racing accomplishment of dubious provenance and minimal documentation, why would anybody think that the “top-shelf” liquor they’re getting is authentic? And if you’re the kind of person who prides himself on demanding authenticity in tequila at a bar in Dallas, why haven’t you jumped off the top of a building yet, just for the sake of the rest of humanity?

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