The Truth About Cars » Tuners http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Apr 2014 13:30:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 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 is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Tuners http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/tuners/ A Primer On SLAB Culture http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/a-primer-on-slab-culture/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/a-primer-on-slab-culture/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 11:55:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=794826 title

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.   

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Like most automotive hobbies, the Houston SLAB scene starts with the belief that the factory’s work needs improvement.  While spec racers turn a depreciated hulk into a track beast, the SLAB rider takes a slice of unloved Americana, bringing it back to a time when Japanese cars were cheap rust buckets that’d never threaten General Motor’s existence! I mean, look at our grilles and look at theirs, right?

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A car that traces its roots back to the 1970s Pimp Rides is necessary to make a modern SLAB: Camcords need not apply. Any Blaxploitation movie gets you up to speed on Pimp Rides, but the Houston SLAB scene uses them as a springboard to something new.

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Depreciated American luxury cars are the norm: Cadillacs, Buicks and certain Oldsmobiles are preferred.  Lincolns/Panthers and Chryslers are cool too, even Jaguars and Quattroportes pull it off vis-à-vis distinctly luxurious proportions.  But don’t break your budget on the ride, GM’s W-body is one of the most common platforms for good reason, as costly modifications are necessary to pay homage to the Pimp Riders while advancing the game:

  • Massive stereos, some are IASCA worthy with a little tweaking.
  • Kitted out power popping trunks, slathered in custom vinyl and personalized phrases in neon/mirrors.
  • Wire wheels much like the Cragar units supplied as OEM for Cadillac in 1983 and 1984, except replacing the fragile tin content with 100% steel. Texan Wire Wheels sells them as “83s” and “84s”, seemingly cornering this niche market.
  • Vogue tires in new sizes for new cars, naturally.
  • Replacement steering wheels, usually with wood grain rims.
  • Candy Paint, just like any vintage rodder.
  • Reupholstered interiors, taking advantage of the latest trimmings on the market.
  • Aftermarket HID lights, custom LEDs, Lambo doors, flat panel TVs and anything else you’ll find in the custom car scene.
  • Oversized brand logos, like the tailgate emblem from an Escalade.
  • Lowered suspensions (often aftermarket Air Ride) for obvious curb appeal.

That stance is at the SLAB’s core: it’s a sweet American luxury sedan ridin’ close to the curb.  Close to the concrete, up against the “slab”…hence the name. Some suggest that SLAB is an acronym for Slow-Loud-And-Bangin’ but that definition seemingly came later.

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But the wheels make SLABs so eye-catching: references percolating through Houston’s music, Houston’s culture.  Originally a re-pop of those Cadillac rims from 1983 and 1984, some are fed pro-baseball grade growth hormones to extend the hub far beyond Cadillac’s factory specification.  Ordinary wires have “pokes” while insanity ensues when you go “super poke.”  While not sure of their origin, odds are that having more poke comes people’s need to out-do each other. Like everything else in this world!

IMG_1759Your taste in poke is subjective, but they are all known as swangas and elbows.

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Elbows are when the hub and spoke of your wheels “poke” out of your body just like your arm’s elbow when perched atop the door sill.  Makes sense, but Swangas?

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Again, not sure: it’s connected to the organized dance that multiple SLABs do on an open stretch of road.  It’s like watching racers warming up their tires during pace laps.  It’s infectious: even the cops do it.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Here’s what I saw at the first annual SLAB Parade, put on by the Houston Arts Alliance.  This cow town’s been good about supporting the art scene, especially our Art Cars and our screwed and chopped Rap artists.  While H-town Rap is a “thing” for the likes of Jay Z and Justin Timberlake, Detroit has yet to embrace Houston’s re-branding of their Camry prey/Rental Car fodder and their highline euro-wannabes. Aside from the Chrysler 300, of course.

So welcome to the Third Coast, the coast that actually likes American cars. How they were: with real names, impressive proportions and maybe even SLAB hugging overhangs, too. And the people who make them?  They are no different than other car nuts.

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No doubt, Houston is the best place to be a car fanatic, mostly thanks to our diverse population.  Love it or hate it, hopefully you enjoyed seeing this slice of Automotive Americana while I avoided the pitfalls of a milquetoast overview of an automotive sub-culture. Fingers crossed on that last part.

 

 

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Introducing The All New Porsche Paaaaaaaanamera (Chinese Spec) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/introducing-the-all-new-porsche-paaaaaaaanamera-chinese-spec/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/introducing-the-all-new-porsche-paaaaaaaanamera-chinese-spec/#comments Fri, 13 Jan 2012 16:23:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=426157

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.

This thing is a full 40 centimeters (that’s a little less than a foot and a half for the metrically challenged) longer than stock. I would have called in “Max Legroom” and would have created a cartoon character. Instead, Ruf opted for “XL”.

In China, the car may have to contend with a factory-stretched Panamera. The Dutch version of Autoblog says that Porsche will combat penis envy cramped rear compartments with a Panamera that gained a mere 12 cm in length. The accompanying picture shows the subtle shapes of a dildo.

Tip o’the coolie hat to Tycho at Carnewschina, who keeps an eye on these developments. He has more pictures.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: GM Hearts Cycling After All Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-gm-hearts-cycling-after-all-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-gm-hearts-cycling-after-all-edition/#comments Tue, 01 Nov 2011 17:40:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=416427 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.

Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Sonic meets cycle... Chevrolet Sonic All-Activity-Style Concept Chevrolet Sonic All Activity Vehicle Chevrolet Sonic All Activity Vehicle Chevrolet Sonic All Activity Vehicle

 

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Nissan Leaf Owners Take The Lead In Improving Efficiency http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/nissan-leaf-owners-take-the-lead-in-improving-efficiency/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/nissan-leaf-owners-take-the-lead-in-improving-efficiency/#comments Sat, 15 Oct 2011 19:10:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=414873

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.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: An Archetype’s Progress Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-an-archetypes-progress-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-an-archetypes-progress-edition/#comments Wed, 28 Sep 2011 15:39:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=412835

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…

Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Porsche 991, tuned by TopCar. 991bytopcar2 991bytopcar1

 

 

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: The Most Interesting Tuned Cayenne In World Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-the-most-interesting-tuned-cayenne-in-world-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-the-most-interesting-tuned-cayenne-in-world-edition/#comments Sat, 10 Sep 2011 14:43:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=410844 What does it take for a tuned Porsche Cayenne to be featured at TTAC? It must be nothing less than the most interesting tuned Cayenne in the world. And your eyes don’t deceive you… that’s exactly what you’re looking at. The Eterniti Hemera may or may not have advantages relative to the competition from Mansory, Ruf, Gemballa et al, but its story beats all of them (with the possible exception of Gemballa, er, hollow. Eterniti burst onto the scene when a Twitter squatter managed to spread all kinds of speculation about the company, including that it would use licensed RedBull F1 technology, adding to rampant speculation that the company was somehow associated with Nissan’s Infiniti brand. Of course Bertel Schmitt tracked down the truth, and even though Porsche no longer associates itself with its former dealer and Eterniti founder Kenny Chen, Bertel could have told you nearly a month ago that the Hemera would be a tuned Cayenne. So, though this glorified bodykit of a car may seem like something of a letdown, its strange social-media-parable storyline makes it… the most interesting tuned Cayenne in the world.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: I’m Looking For Something That Says “Dad Likes Leather” Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-im-looking-for-something-that-says-dad-likes-leather-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-im-looking-for-something-that-says-dad-likes-leather-edition/#comments Thu, 18 Aug 2011 15:08:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=407747

What’s next for the whale penis leather upholsterers at Russia’s gauchest tuning house, Dartz? How about a wrapping a Ferrari F430 in leather-grain vinyl? Sophisticated! [via GTspirit]
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Quote Of The Day: The Ultimate Data Machine Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/quote-of-the-day-the-ultimate-data-machine-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/quote-of-the-day-the-ultimate-data-machine-edition/#comments Tue, 09 Aug 2011 23:47:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=406480

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.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: MINI’s Untouched Niche Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-minis-untouched-niche-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/06/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-minis-untouched-niche-edition/#comments Mon, 27 Jun 2011 14:50:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=400481

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…

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: Brand Management Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-brand-management-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-brand-management-edition/#comments Wed, 13 Apr 2011 14:26:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=391113

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.

According to Autocar, the 1,000 units of limited edition Rolls-prepped MINIs will feature

a bespoke cabin whose spec was overseen by Rolls-Royce interior designer Alan Sheppard. It features elements synonymous with the Sussex-based luxury brand, including walnut burr veneers on the instrument panel and door pulls, Corn Silk beige leather on the fascia, centre console, seats, door sides and pillar trim, and deep lambswool fleece carpets.

Even the roof lining, sun visors and boot compartment cover are coated in a Rolls-Royce-spec cashmere blend. Rolls’ own typeface features on the speedometer and revcounter, and there’s a piano black finish on the steering wheel-mounted controls and centre console switches.

The car’s exterior mixes Cooper S parts — specifically, the front and rear bumpers — with the non-vented bonnet of the Cooper D. The standard colour will be metallic Diamond Black, which was developed, again, by Rolls-Royce Design — but Mini’s own Reef Blue metallic will be offered as an option.

Underneath there’s a standard Cooper S turbo petrol powertrain, producing 181bhp and 177lb ft (192lb ft on overboost). That’s enough for the Goodwood edition to hit 62mph in 7.0sec. The transmission is a six-speed manual, but a six-speed automatic will be a cost option.

Standard kit in the Mini Roller will include xenon headlights, Harman Kardon speakers, automatic climate control and parking sensors.

minigoodwood2 Is this a MINI... or a Rolls-Royce? minigoodwood minigoodwood14 minigoodwood11 minigoodwood5 minigoodwood4 minigoodwood1 minigoodwood8 minigoodwood7 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail minigoodwood10 minigoodwood13 minigoodwood6 minigoodwood12 minigoodwood3 ]]>
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What’s Wrong With This Picture: If You Love Something, Let It Go Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/03/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-if-you-love-something-let-it-go-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/03/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-if-you-love-something-let-it-go-edition/#comments Tue, 15 Mar 2011 16:10:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=387392

“Fine. You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain”

-Harvey Dent, The Dark Knight

What is it about human nature that forces us to destroy the things we love the most? Jaguar’s E-Type died long ago, shuffling off this imperfect mortal coil to take its place in automotive Valhalla. And, if we really loved the XKE, that’s where we’d let it stay, swathed in the immortality of the glorious yet out-of-reach past. Instead the E-Type is being destroyed in the name of love… and on the 50th anniversary of its birth, no less. For between €500k and €1m (depending on the number of takers) Switzerland’s Robert Palm will modify a new Jaguar XKR into this hollow mockery of the E-Type’s epic proportions and classic design cues. Called the Growler E 2011, this 600 HP beast is neither a high-quality, faithful resto-mod like the Eagle E-Type, nor a truly modern interpretation of the classic. Instead, what we have here is a wire-wheeled lesson in learning to let go.

growler1 Respect yourself... Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail growler3 growler5 ]]>
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What’s Wrong With This Picture: Put That Top Back On Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/03/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-put-that-top-back-on-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/03/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-put-that-top-back-on-edition/#comments Sun, 06 Mar 2011 16:31:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=386344

I just returned from the press launch of a certain, shall we say unexpected convertible. The kind of vehicle that makes you stop and wonder what’s being put in the water at a certain product planning department. Look for a review tomorrow, but in the meantime, as a kind of innoculation, consider this Subaru STI drop-top modified for Manchester Subaru. It’s one thing to chop the top off a car that doesn’t lend itself to convertible versions, but it’s quite another to add picnic basket-handle roll bars and then top it all off with a huge rear spoiler. It’s no Transvertible,  but death is still too good for this little monster. Subaru-STI-Cabriolet-2 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Subaru-STI-Cabriolet-7 Subaru-STI-Cabriolet-3 Subaru-STI-Cabriolet-6

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: Taste Invaders Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/02/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-taste-invaders-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/02/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-taste-invaders-edition/#comments Thu, 17 Feb 2011 21:25:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=384234

In his recent review of the Lexus LX570, Michale Karesh noted that he

struggled to make this 5,995-pound, technology-packed, luxurious SUV make sense.

Apparently he’s not the only one. From the looks of things, the Japanese tuning house Invader Technologies is having a hard time making the LX570 make sense… at least to anyone who’s not a drug-addled, mobbed-up Russian gangster. I suppose that, by post-Mansory tuning standards anyway, the Invader L60  isn’t exactly breaking new ground… still, I’m amazed by how freshly insulted my optical nerves feel.

invader5 invader invader3 invader4 invader2 Oh yeah... drink it in! invader6 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail invader5 invader3 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail invader2 invader invader4 invader6 Oh yeah... drink it in! ]]>
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Cadillac Knows What The Kids Want http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/02/cadillac-knows-what-the-kids-want/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/02/cadillac-knows-what-the-kids-want/#comments Wed, 02 Feb 2011 22:53:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=382691

Yeah, yeah, we know… wood and beige leather are out, edgy and blacked-out are in. But did anyone expect that these hot, youthful trends would give rise to a murdered-out factory special Cadillac CTS-V Coupe? Now, more than ever, this thing is “Darth Vader meets Don Draper.”

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: That’s Not A Gullwing, This Is A Gullwing Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/01/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-thats-not-a-gullwing-this-is-a-gullwing-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/01/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-thats-not-a-gullwing-this-is-a-gullwing-edition/#comments Wed, 05 Jan 2011 19:52:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=379567

The tuning house Gull Wing America have a huge thing for vintage Mercedes models, resulting in such bizarre creations as a re-interpreted W-121 and a retro-fied SLS. But for its latest project, GWA has taken on the most ambitious gullwing Mercedes ever, the “forgotten gullwing” known as the C111. Based on a tubular steel chassis, and sporting a 400 HP Mercedes V12, the “Ciento Once” is more of a re-interpretation than a strict replica. Still, it’s heartening to see such an influential yet forgotten car re-appear on the automotive scene, if only as a one-off prototype.Perhaps it will even inspire the the boys in Stuttgart to come up with their own “take two” on the great gullwing C111.

Gullwing-America-Ciento-Once-Mercedes-C111-f498x333-F4F4F2-C-f4f42663-442647 Gullwing-America-Ciento-Once-Mercedes-C111-f498x333-F4F4F2-C-b8679b2e-442644 Gullwing-America-Ciento-Once-Mercedes-C111-f498x333-F4F4F2-C-756a3d5e-442654 Gullwing-America-Ciento-Once-Mercedes-C111-f498x333-F4F4F2-C-f3d01461-442649 Gullwing-America-Ciento-Once-Mercedes-C111-f498x333-F4F4F2-C-f887b0cf-442641 Gullwing-America-Ciento-Once-Mercedes-C111-Cockpit-f498x333-F4F4F2-C-4b7a1e42-442646 Gullwing-America-Ciento-Once-Mercedes-C111-f498x333-F4F4F2-C-355f2444-442642 Gullwing-America-Ciento-Once-Mercedes-C111-f498x333-F4F4F2-C-56622b61-442645 Gullwing-America-Ciento-Once-Mercedes-C111-f498x333-F4F4F2-C-86513074-442655 Gullwing-America-Ciento-Once-Mercedes-C111-f498x333-F4F4F2-C-70f679af-442643 Gullwing-America-Ciento-Once-Mercedes-C111-f498x333-F4F4F2-C-d4c8a6c8-442653 Gullwing-America-Ciento-Once-Mercedes-C111-f498x333-F4F4F2-C-416b2de4-442651 Gullwing-America-Ciento-Once-Mercedes-C111-f498x333-F4F4F2-C-6a34c47d-442652 Gullwing-America-Ciento-Once-Mercedes-C111-Cockpit-f498x333-F4F4F2-C-9557275c-442648 ]]>
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What’s Wrong With This Picture: Leaf It To The Tuners Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-leaf-it-to-the-tuners-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-leaf-it-to-the-tuners-edition/#comments Mon, 27 Dec 2010 18:29:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=378712

While Brabus digs deep for ideas to keep its tuning business relevant in the EV era, Nissan has a less sophisticated approach to electric car tuning: the bodykit. According to Nissan, the Nissan Leaf Aero Style Concept includes new wheels, skirts, mirrors, front bumper and LED daytime driving lights. Because, in the words of the firm’s press release:

Equipped with an aero body kit that accentuates Nissan LEAF’s distinctive silhouette and character lines, this concept car expresses an image of futuristic sport EV driving.

Emphasis on “image.” The rest of the EV tuning equation is still largely a mystery.

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The Mercedes Hot Hatch: Fantasy Meets Reality http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-something-old-something-new/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-something-old-something-new/#comments Sat, 18 Dec 2010 16:05:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=377680

This is the B55, a silly one-off project by workers at Mercedes’ Rastatt plant that involved shoving an old “55″ AMG engine into a new B-Class, running a driveshaft through the “sandwich floor” and hooking it up to an old E-Class wagon rear axle. The result: 383 HP, a 0-60 time in the 5 second range, and what Autocar terms “surprisingly mature dynamic properties.” Possibly even more surprisingly, the whole project was done without a lick of help from the nutters at AMG, and required no frame modifications. Best of all is how  comfortingly old-school the project is: the days of turning an FWD compact car into a V8 RWD beast are rapidly drawing to a close. Need proof? For the next-generation of A/B-Class, AMG is going in a very different direction, creating an “A25 AMG” which will use a two liter turbocharged four-banger, putting around 300 HP through a dual-clutch transmission and Haldex AWD. This “STI by AMG” will doubtless be infinitely more practical, efficient and useable than the B55′s old-school V8/RWD setup… but more than a few gearheads will be sad to see these kinds of unhinged anachronisms ride off into the sunset.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: Raptor Hunting Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-raptor-hunting-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-raptor-hunting-edition/#comments Fri, 17 Dec 2010 16:38:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=377583

Where did GMC get the idea to take a short-bed pickup, widen the track, fit some Fox shocks and generally beef it up to create a factory off-road “halo” truck? Oh right, from Ford. If you’re not convinced that Detroit still has at least one foot firmly stuck in the past, this halo niche-chasing behemoth should help clear up some of that doubt.

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Brabus Breaks New Ground In EV “Tuning” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/brabus-breaks-new-ground-in-ev-tuning/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/brabus-breaks-new-ground-in-ev-tuning/#comments Wed, 08 Dec 2010 00:33:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=376144

With electric cars becoming the new big thing among car lovers with more money than sense, it’s clear that the world’s many tuning houses will try to get in on the action sooner or later… but how? Brabus has offered tuning packages for the Tesla Roadster since shortly after the EV sportscar launched, but the treatment has always been basically skin-deep: wheels, spoilers, lighting, and best of all,

several simulated engine sounds including that of a typical V8 combustion engine, a racecar engine and two futuristic soundscapes named ‘Beam’ and ‘Warp.’

Which is all well and good, but it highlights a real problem: tuners simply can’t improve the performance of EVs without replacing the batteries or reprograming the entire car. For a company like Brabus that’s used to turning crazy-fast Benzes into super-crazy-fast ‘bahn burners, this has to be a frustrating state of affairs. So what’s a tuner to do? Instead of dialing up the power, the future of EV tuning may just be in making these already-green cars even greener.

In pursuit of this new marketing strategy, Brabus has partnered with the German utility company RWE for its TESLA Roadster Sport BRABUS Green Package, an upgrade that’s available only in the German market. We’ll let the presser explain:

The exclusive BRABUS customization program for the first electric production sports car includes the RWE-BRABUS high-tech quick charging station for the customer’s garage and environmentally friendly RWE Eco Electricity for 30,000 kilometers (18,641 miles). Also included is a one-year RWE car electricity pass for free use of all public RWE charging stations… The purchase price includes the professional installation of the stylish high-tech charger in the customer’s garage. The quick charger is three times faster than charging the two-seater at a normal household power outlet and environmentally friendly RWE Eco Electricity for the first 30,000 kilometer (18,641 miles) is free. In less than six hours the open-top eco sports car is fully charged for an operating range of some 350 km (220 miles). Eco-friendly power is available away from home as well. The Green Package also includes a one-year pass for free use of all public RWE charging stations.

The only problem with this strategy is that it can only be locally implemented. Still, as EVs grow in popularity, one can imagine more tuning houses partnering with local utilities to offer renewable-based home charging as well as local public charging station access to go with aftermarket wheels, spoilers and yes, simulated engine noises. Welcome to the brave new world of EV “tuning.”

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Ask The Best And Brightest: Infiniti AMG? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/ask-the-best-and-brightest-infiniti-amg/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/ask-the-best-and-brightest-infiniti-amg/#comments Mon, 06 Dec 2010 19:44:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=375925

Infiniti recently got into the in-house tuning game, by rolling out the Infiniti Performance Line as an answer to Lexus’s F line, Audi’s S line, BMW’s M line and Mercedes’ AMG-tuned hot rods. Nissan’s luxury brand may have been a bit late to the profit-puffing game of performance sub-branding, but better late than never, right? Maybe not. Now that Renault/Nissan and Daimler have hooked up to share engines and architectures, it seems that the alliance is considering making AMG power available to Nissan’s luxury brand. Citing “sources in Japan,” Autocar reports that

Infiniti’s hot models could carry ‘Powered by AMG’ badges as part of Nissan’s recent tie-up with the Daimler group…

One powerplant on the shortlist is Mercedes’ forthcoming turbocharged 3.5-litre V6. It would replace Nissan’s venerable 3.7-litre unit in Infiniti’s G range and could be tweaked to produce up to 400bhp.

Sources say the IPL version of the M, Infiniti’s 5-series rival, could end up using AMG’s 6.2-litre V8 — and be priced north of £60,000. That would allow the M IPL to undercut the E63 AMG but rival Jaguar’s XFR on price.

But will the exclusivity of Affalterbach-tuned Mercedes models be hurt by sharing engines with Infinitis? Would the damage be the same if Infinitis got the engines but not the badges? After all, the VQ V6 is hardly exclusive to the G Series, and a switch to a Mercedes engine could impact on everything from the Nissan Z to the Infiniti FX35… unless the Infiniti is willing to alter the IPL-spec G37 to be the only Mercedes-powered G. In short, the challenges of what Infinitis to offer with AMG engines are nearly as great as the challenges Mercedes will have to face by losing the exclusivity of its AMG engines. After all, it’s one thing to sell AMG engines to a supercar firm like Pagani, but an upstart Japanese luxury brand doesn’t offer the same brand-halo benefits. Should Daimler let this happen, or should the AMG badge and engines stay exclusive to tuned Mercedes models?

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Quote Of The Day: Shelby Cobra And The Pursuit Of Distinctiveness Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/11/quote-of-the-day-shelby-cobra-and-the-pursuit-of-distinctiveness-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/11/quote-of-the-day-shelby-cobra-and-the-pursuit-of-distinctiveness-edition/#comments Fri, 05 Nov 2010 17:19:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=371574

It is one thing to recognize the legendary status of Mr. Shelby and the original Cobras, including the 427 S/C, and quite another to assert that purchasers and potential
purchasers view Cobra continuations or replicas, sold primarily as kits, which employ the Cobra 427 S/C Design as coming from a single source.  The fact that Cobra replicas, sold primarily as kits, which employ the 427 S/C Design, have been sold by numerous third parties for more than three decades, including between 2002 and 2009, precludes us from drawing that conclusion.  Accordingly, we find applicant’s evidence based on media coverage of Mr. Shelby and all of the Cobras not probative of the issue of acquired distinctiveness.

That’s right, the Shelby Cobra has been officially copied to death, according to a recent ruling by the US Patent Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board [in PDF here]. The board’s finding was complex, as proving “distinctiveness” takes a lot of doing, but the upshot is that so many Cobra replicas have been built, consumers don’t actually think of the original (Shelby-designed) Cobras when they see one. Had Shelby sued every single kit car maker since day one, he’d have the legal rights to his design, but in the years since 1968, the term “Cobra” has come to mean more than the specific Shelby Cobra 289 or Shelby Cobra 427 S/C. In fact, a survey used to try to prove the distinctiveness of the Shelby designs in the eyes of consumers may have even used a photo of a 289 to illustrate a 427 S/C… even the guy running the survey wasn’t sure. The moral of Caroll Shelby’s legal battle to own the rights to anything resembling an original Cobra: never stop suing the kit car makers. Or, just be happy with the millions of dollars and legend status you’ve already accumulated.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: Stealth Fuzz Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/11/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-stealth-fuzz-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/11/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-stealth-fuzz-edition/#comments Mon, 01 Nov 2010 19:55:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=371100

You’re driving down the road at a spirited tempo when you see a big, black, tuned Taurus. No biggie, right?

Wrong… at least, as long as Ford’s SEMA-bound Interceptor Stealth Concept helps police departments get past the car’s wrong-wheel-drive problem. And between its insanely stealthy looks, and its lack of previous cop-duty baggage, Interceptor Stealths will be hell to spot on enthusiastic drives. Here’s hoping they end up on detective duty rather than traffic patrols…

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TTAC Project: The Zombie Sierra http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/10/ttac-project-the-zombie-sierra/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/10/ttac-project-the-zombie-sierra/#comments Sat, 30 Oct 2010 16:29:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=370876

I’m going drifting. I’m going drifting dressed in the finest English brown velour ever to roll out of Dagenham, England. I’m going drifting in what this week’s Curbside Classic should have been, a 1983 Ford Sierra. And with that, I rejoin TTAC after a long hiatus due to our wonderful country sending me to various deserts to hunt for Osama bin Laden.

I have survived, although my Hilux did not after one ill-placed Taliban rocket sent shrapnel through the radiator. I also relish returning to write for one of the finest audiences I know, the Best and Brightest.

Sajeev “Piston Slap” Mehta and I concocted a plan worthy of poetic balads (or at least a YouTube auto-tune) late this Friday night. We were commenting on how the Ford Tempo really should have been the Ford Sierra. Ford did eventually import the Sierra in the Merkur XR4ti guise in 1987, yet, how successful would the Sierra have been should they have built it from the start in the United States back in 1984? It was RWD, had independent suspension on all four corners, came with a wide variety of engines, looked great, and sported the finest shades of brown that year, specifically “Rio Brown”. Horsepower ranged from 59bhp in the 1.3L Pinto to 201bhp in the Cosworth. Ford could have used the 2.0L four-cylinder, and the 2.8L fuel-injected Cologne V6, and had a real winner on its hands.

Instead, Ford graced us with the Tempo, and lost money on the expensively imported, and mismarketed Merkurs.

Sajeev and I continued to talk while perusing the classifieds in the United Kingdom, the source of my recently purchased, and absolutely mint condition 1986 Peugeot 205 GTI (more on that later). Sodding a lark, I discovered the holiest of holies. An unmolested, low-mileage, one-owner, completely rust free, Rio Brown Ford Sierra 2.0L. Ghia optioned, with the rear curtains intact. The brown velour interior might surround an automatic gearbox lever, but no matter, we decided we have plans for this most humdrum, but ultimately awesome (and aerodynamic!) vehicle.

Sajeev possesses several 5.0L Ford V8′s. And an intact Thunderbird Turbo parts car. I have the ability to purchase and register a European car in Germany, and have it exported. The planets aligned. The first TTAC project vehicle has come together. And at this point, we need your suggestions, yes, the Best and Brightest shall have some input on how awesome, or terrible, this vehicle shall become. Which V8, turbo 4, or even V6 (SHOtime?) shall we use?

I say a 5.0L Mustang engine with a manual gearbox conversion. Sajeev suggests the GT-40 infused 5.0L and electronic-automatic duo from an Explorer. I say full custom aftermarket coil-over suspension to handle the power. Sajeev wants OEM-spec Ford Cosworth bits from England. The “Sierra of Brownshire” should arrive in Texas in late-winter, after I return from Operation Enduring Freedom, allowing you, the B&B plenty of time to convince of our course of attack, and us enough time to come to our senses.

EDITORS NOTE: We posted one shot of the (so Brown!) Sierra Ghia in question on our Facebook page for comments and queries. Facebook Fans, here are your answers:

Kevin M:  Goofy-fun daily driver is the intention, as it is a 5-door hatch. Though the Sierra’s 2700lbs curb weight will make it super fun to drive, if we spring for aluminum heads to keep the 5.0 as light (?) as the stock iron motor. Rob A: the exchange rate won’t let that happen, its not gonna be a $500 LeMons car anyway. James M: No, this is not Cammy Corrigan’s car, she wouldn’t be caught dead in a Sierra Ghia! Scott M: we don’t have a ‘busa motor lying around, plus there are several 5.0 Merkurs rattling around the Internet for proof.

83fordsierraghia2 Igor, bring me the Five point Oh.... Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail 83fordsierraghiaintbrown 83fordsierraghiaintbrown2 83fordsierraghia3 83fordsierraghia1 83fordsierraghia4

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: Tuners To SEMA New Charger First Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/10/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-tuners-to-sema-new-charger-first-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/10/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-tuners-to-sema-new-charger-first-edition/#comments Mon, 25 Oct 2010 14:45:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=370100

The 2011 Dodge Charger’s unofficial debut came in the form of a police cruiser which mixed things up at the Michigan State Police trials this year. And though they’ve showed off a few teasers of the new full-sized Dodge, the updated Charger’s official debut won’t come until the annual Las Vegas tuner-fest known as the SEMA show. Which begs the question: when will Dodge start marketing this car to consumers that are neither law enforcement officers nor criminals? We kid… sort of. Meanwhile, this rendering gives you some idea of what Dodge’s less-classy customers might do to their own 2011 Charger. Still interested?

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Trade War Watch 16: Hot Wheels Just Got Hotter http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/10/trade-war-watch-16-hot-wheels-just-got-hotter/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/10/trade-war-watch-16-hot-wheels-just-got-hotter/#comments Mon, 25 Oct 2010 12:30:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=370077

It’s been some time since since we had a “Trade War Watch” on mounting trade tensions in the auto industry, and thank goodness for that. In this economic climate of cuts, currency swings and bankruptcies, what we need are things which will make the situation worse, right? In May I reported about how the EU put a 20.6 percent tariff on aluminium wheels from China. The EU did this in response to complaints from domestic manufacturers. Naturally, this left a sour taste in China’s mouth. Well, over 5 months later, you’d think that the EU would have calmed down and this nasty business would be swept under the carpet, right? Erm, not quite….

Bloomberg reports that the EU have not only turned the temporary tariff into a 5 year tariff but increased it from 20.6 percent to 22.3 percent. Chinese exporters like YHI Manufacturing (Shanghai) Co. and Zhejiang Wanfeng Auto Wheel Co. will get hit by this new tariff. But not only will they get stung, but also BMW and Renault will because they buy these wheels from Chinese suppliers. Thus, the price of their cars will rise. The tariff is expected to be imposed by November the 11th.

Naturally, the EU defended this move by claiming that the benefits of this duty outweigh the disadvantages which come on the carmakers. Aluminium wheels are about 1 percent of the total cost of a car, therefore, the cost increase can’t be no more that 0.22 percent according to the EU. “Even this maximum cost impact appears limited in the view of the turnover achieved by car makers,” said the EU. Some automakers have threatened that this move would force them to move production abroad, but the EU dismissed this threat as “disproportionate”.
We”ll keep an eye on the news to see how (or indeed “if”) China hits back. Remember, the EU have far more to lose by China imposing tariffs on EU goods than the other way around. After all, China is far more important to the EU as a market than as a manufacturing center. The EU has 501,064,211 potential customers for Chinese products. China has 1,338,612,968. In this poker game, the EU are holding a four of a kind, China’s got a royal flush.
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