This well-traveled Houstonian thinks his town is Pistonhead Nirvana, proven every month via fanboi scale and diversity at Cars and Coffee gatherings. Or with every 1000+hp racer on at Texas2k, every shoestring budget’d LeMons racer and Art Car fanatic: it’s all here. Except there’s nothing like Houston’s SLAB culture.
A confession: I know automotive subcultures, no matter which socioeconomic population nurtures it, always raise the ire of outsiders. My response? Every generalization about SLABs applies to anyone building a custom, race or show car. We are all the same, deal with it.Read More >
German tuner Ruf is coming to China. He did what everybody should do who is setting up shop in another land: Do thorough market research. When he asked what Chinese like, the answer was: “Long!” With that in mind, Ruf made what the Chinese market (possibly) wants: A stretched Porsche Panamera. Read More >
Having royally pissed off all of cyclist-dom with a tone-deaf, multi-brand ad in college newspapers, GM just so happens to have a concept car for the SEMA tuner show featuring a mountain bike. Not that the two are in any way related though, as NASCAR racer Ricky Carmichael is the creative force behind the concept. The 15-time American Motorcycle Association champion explains in a Chevy press release
The car looks so cool, colorful and fun to drive. I live my life on the go and this Sonic really represents that active lifestyle and my desire to have fun when I’m off the race track.
See? Cycling is cool… as a hobby. On the other hand, maybe the bike just a way to escape the photoshopped beach when this slammed Sonic inevitably gets stuck in the sand. Or perhaps it’s there as a reminder that even if you want to drive a Sonic you may be stuck on a bike, as Automotive News [sub] reports that GM has to idle production of the subcompact for two weeks over a parts shortage. Either way, it’s an improvement on shaming cyclists into buying cars.
One of most common complaints that traditional “car guys” have about the modern auto industry is that cars have become so complex and computerized that repairs and modifications have become too complex for their mechanical skillset. But, on the other end of the car guy spectrum, EV enthusiasts are taking over the mantle of the homebrew automotive modifications. The New York Times reports that Nissan Leaf owners are taking the lead to fix issues with the first mass-market electric car, creating more reliable state-of-charge indicators and rapid-chargers, tipping the balance of power from the manufacturer back to the savvy, hands-on consumer. And as EV enthusiasts build communities, share their experiments and improve vehicles like the Leaf, automakers like Nissan are listening.
Despite the antipathy between old-school auto enthusiasts and their new-wave EV counterparts, these two groups have more in common than you might realize… which can only be good news for the larger automotive culture.
I’m no fan of tuned cars, particularly the garish, over-the-top bodykit jobs that seem to curse the high end of the European sportscar market. And yet, when I saw these pictures of the new Porsche 991, as tuned by the Russian house TopCar, something strange occurred to me: this was the first picture of the new 991 that I could instantly recognize as the new model. And then I read, over at Pistonheads, that the 991 will be sold with only minor design changes through 2025, a 14-year lifespan for a model that’s barely distinguishable from its predecessor. And all of a sudden, this garish Russian tune-job started looking a lot better. It may not be subtly tasteful, but there’s an undeniable hunger to its flared-and-scooped styling. It’s trying to be something different, while Porsche’s design evolution has ground to halt. We hear that Ford, which has enjoyed great success working a retro groove with the last couple of Mustangs, is “moving on” to craft an entirely new, non-retro Mustang for the next generation. It seems that we’re going to have to wait about 14 more years for Porsche to similarly realize the benefits of making its flagship a “living document.” In the meantime, if you want a 991 that looks like it has moved with the times, you may just have to look at the aftermarket…
The source of today’s Quote Of The Day, a BMW M Division engineer, is clearly not a native English speaker, but he reveals just where performance cars like the new M5 are going when he says:
More and more demand is from our test engineers from the referring(?) departments and they come over and 80%, 90% are only working on the electronic systems. The other 10, 20 percent are working at the car, under the car….
Of course, the M engineers aren’t developing a car from the ground up here, but it’s still amazing that the workload is so unevenly weighted towards electronic rather than, for lack of a better term, “greasy hands” work.
Since cementing its premium-retro-cutesy positioning in the marketplace, MINI’s been leveraging its two platforms into a niche-munching binge. Soon the MINI lineup will range from cozy Coupe to two-door “Sport Activity Vehicle,” and will include two convertibles, multiple versions of the two-door hatche, two-and-a-half-door hatch, and four door SUV. So what’s missing? A Moke? A Delivery van? What about a re-interpretation of the old Mini Pick Up? You and I may feel like the MINI brand already has plenty of niche offerings, thanks, but here is indisputable proof (found in a supermarket parking lot) that the market thinks MINI hasn’t chased enough niches. Carry on then, lads…
Typically, when a focused, well-branded company like BMW buys storied brands and then tries to combine them, the results are less than ideal for all involved. Thus far, BMW had actually been doing a fantastic job with its MINI and Rolls-Royce franchises, expanding into new niches while revitalizing potent brands with high-quality products. But putting the two together? It’s not clear how many buyers will line up for this Rolls-fettled MINI Goodwood (price estimated as high as £50,000), but at least the thing has good historical precedent in the Peter Sellers Mini-Rolls. And compared to some of the modern attempts to create premium city cars (hello Aston Cygnet), that makes this über-priced MINI-mashup something more than a mere cynical play for profits and C02 emission average reductions. In fact, it’s something of a tribute to BMW’s stewardship of two brands that could well have been botched over the past decade or so. Hit the jump for details on the Mini Goodwood’s posh appointments.