The Truth About Cars » Other 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 » Other http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/other/ DeltaWing Entering GT, Eyeing Future Showroom Debut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/deltawing-entering-gt-eyeing-future-showroom-debut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/deltawing-entering-gt-eyeing-future-showroom-debut/#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 10:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1027369 Coming soon to a track near you, DeltaWing will bring its signature design to the GT class, and eyes set on the showroom down the road. The latest racing variant is expected to demonstrate on the track “that with far less horsepower than many of today’s best sports cars, a two-seat performance car based on […]

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DeltaWing GT race car concept chassis

Coming soon to a track near you, DeltaWing will bring its signature design to the GT class, and eyes set on the showroom down the road.

The latest racing variant is expected to demonstrate on the track “that with far less horsepower than many of today’s best sports cars, a two-seat performance car based on the DeltaWing® architecture would deliver the same performance, yet with previously unimagined fuel economy and efficiency.”

The GT will, like the DWC13 Coupe campaigned by DeltaWing Racing Cars, be a coupe using weight distribution to its advantage, thanks to its narrow nose and wide backside putting 30 percent up front, the rest in back. The project won’t interfere with the team and its efforts in IMSA’s TUDOR series.

Meanwhile, that same basic design forms the basis for two- and four-passenger prototypes that could lead to a road-legal version of the DeltaWing. Preliminary data suggests the design would net “an unadjusted EPA fuel economy rating of nearly 74 mpg Highway and over 57 mpg combined rating,” adding that if one could buy a DeltaWing from the showroom today, they would have a vehicle that was not only the most fuel efficient conventionally powered vehicle in the United States, but would also meet the 2025 54.5 mpg standard. The ratings are for a DeltaWing powered by a 138-horsepower 1.4-liter engine placed in the four-passenger variant.

Aside from traditional ICEs, the company says the prototype could be fitted with hybrid, diesel, CNG, hydrogen and electric power, with results ranging from better range for diesel, EV and FCV versions, to a 42 percent reduction in emissions for gasoline models.

DeltaWing GT race car - early concept 1 DeltaWing GT race car - early concept 2 DeltaWing GT race car concept chassis DeltaWing common chassis

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Uber, BYD Sign Deal To Test EV Fleet In Chicago http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/uber-byd-sign-deal-test-ev-fleet-chicago/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/uber-byd-sign-deal-test-ev-fleet-chicago/#comments Mon, 16 Mar 2015 10:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1023025 Chicago Uber customers are the first to take a ride in a Chinese-made EV, thanks to a deal between BYD and the transportation network company. Reuters reports the deal involves a test fleet of 25 BYD e6 EVs made available through Chicago-based Green Wheels USA, a concern that sells EVs and hybrids as well as […]

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byd-e6

Chicago Uber customers are the first to take a ride in a Chinese-made EV, thanks to a deal between BYD and the transportation network company.

Reuters reports the deal involves a test fleet of 25 BYD e6 EVs made available through Chicago-based Green Wheels USA, a concern that sells EVs and hybrids as well as charging stations. UberX drivers can lease from the fleet — which could expand to around 200 by year’s end — for $200/week, allowing them to drive the e6 during their shift before returning the vehicle to Green Wheels for recharging; lease-to-own and traditional leasing programs are also available.

The e6 program, part of the TNC’s overall financing program meant to put drivers into new or used vehicles through purchases or lease agreements, could help pave the way for BYD to bring all of its offerings to the U.S. market. So far, the automaker has only brought over electric buses and a limited number of e6s, the latter for pilot programs.

As for why the two companies teamed up, none would comment on the deal, which could expand to cover more cities should Chicago’s test run prove to be viable.

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Geneva 2015: Koenigsegg Regera Debuts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-koenigsegg-regera-debuts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-koenigsegg-regera-debuts/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 13:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1013122 The Agera RS having made its appearance, it’s the Koenigsegg Regera’s turn under the spotlight at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show. The Swedish-style carbon-fiber exotic receives its power from a 5-liter twin-turbo V8 paired with an electric motor putting out 221 lb-ft of torque, while each rear wheel gains 192 lb-ft from their own motors, […]

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The Agera RS having made its appearance, it’s the Koenigsegg Regera’s turn under the spotlight at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show.

The Swedish-style carbon-fiber exotic receives its power from a 5-liter twin-turbo V8 paired with an electric motor putting out 221 lb-ft of torque, while each rear wheel gains 192 lb-ft from their own motors, which also helps with electronic torque vectoring. A 9 kWh battery pack contributes electric power for the Rimac-made motors.

As for horsepower, 1,500 escape the corral to push the Regera from nil to 249 mph in less than 20 seconds; their escape is aided by a single-speed direct-drive transmission. Electric-only range comes to 21 miles of travel

Price of admission for each of the 80 Regeras will begin at $1.89 million.

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Geneva 2015: 2016 Morgan Aero 8 Debuts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-2016-morgan-aero-8-debuts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-2016-morgan-aero-8-debuts/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 07:57:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1011450 Simon Cowell may be upgrading his ride next year, now that the 2016 Morgan Aero 8 has hit the ramp at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show. Moving the Aero 8 is a 4.8-liter BMW V8 delivering 367 horsepower and 370 lb-ft of torque to the back through either a six-speed manual or auto. Nil to […]

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Simon Cowell may be upgrading his ride next year, now that the 2016 Morgan Aero 8 has hit the ramp at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show.

Moving the Aero 8 is a 4.8-liter BMW V8 delivering 367 horsepower and 370 lb-ft of torque to the back through either a six-speed manual or auto. Nil to 62 comes at 4.5 seconds, with the handbuilt all-aluminum roadster topping out at 170 mph.

The Aero 8’s standard soft top folds away in a rear-opening clamshell trunk, while the optional hard top easily turns the roadster into a coupe. Other features include real wood accents, detailed stitching in the leather, and components that would not look out of place in a much, much older roadster.

Production is set to begin Q4 2015, with an unknown limited amount expected to be produced.

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Geneva 2015: Koenigsegg Agera RS Debuts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-koenigsegg-agera-rs-debuts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-koenigsegg-agera-rs-debuts/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 19:34:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1010722 The carbon-fiber extravaganza known as the Koenigsegg Agera RS made its debut at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show, one of two Koenigseggs set to bow this week. Power for the exotic comes from a 5-liter twin-turbo V8 producing 1,160 horsepower and 944 lb-ft of torque, all funnelled through a seven-speed dual-clutch auto to an electronically […]

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The carbon-fiber extravaganza known as the Koenigsegg Agera RS made its debut at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show, one of two Koenigseggs set to bow this week.

Power for the exotic comes from a 5-liter twin-turbo V8 producing 1,160 horsepower and 944 lb-ft of torque, all funnelled through a seven-speed dual-clutch auto to an electronically controlled differential in the back.

Curb weight is 3,075 lbs due to its extensive use of carbon fiber — including the wheels, which are shod in Michelin Pilot Sport Cup2 tires for the track, Supersports for the road — and is able to produce 1,070 lbs of downforce at 155 mph thanks to aggressive aero and adjustable rear wing.

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Fisker Karma To Return Mid-2016 Under Elux Brand http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/fisker-karma-return-mid-2016-elux-brand/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/fisker-karma-return-mid-2016-elux-brand/#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 13:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1006722 If you were hoping to pick up a new Fisker Karma, not so fast. The PHEV won’t be out until mid-2016, and it won’t be a Fisker, either. Reuters reports parent company Wanxiang Group, which bought Fisker at a bankruptcy auction last year, will drop the Fisker name when the Karma hits the showroom, whose […]

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The Fisker Karma of Justin Douchebag Bieber

If you were hoping to pick up a new Fisker Karma, not so fast. The PHEV won’t be out until mid-2016, and it won’t be a Fisker, either.

Reuters reports parent company Wanxiang Group, which bought Fisker at a bankruptcy auction last year, will drop the Fisker name when the Karma hits the showroom, whose brand will now be called Elux.

As for the delay, Wanxiang is looking for a production site to build the PHEV, sources stating that it won’t be assembled in Finland, where the original Karmas rolled off the line. Pricing is expected to begin at $135,000, 20 percent higher than the $116,000 for the original top model before production ceased in 2012.

The Elux Karma’s looks are expected to to rely heavily on Henrik Fisker’s original design for the PHEV, with Wanxiang said to be investing “millions” into updating the technology to bring the car up to par with similar vehicles that have emerged over the years.

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NAIAS 2015: GAC GS4 Debuts In Cobo Hall Lobby http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-gac-gs4-debuts-cobo-hall-lobby/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-gac-gs4-debuts-cobo-hall-lobby/#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 17:20:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=980585 When the 2015 Detroit Auto Show opens to the public Wednesday, those in line to buy their tickets will get to see the GAC GS4 crossover in the lobby of Cobo Hall, a harbinger of the day when the Chinese will grace the United States with auto sales. Power for the GS4 comes from a […]

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When the 2015 Detroit Auto Show opens to the public Wednesday, those in line to buy their tickets will get to see the GAC GS4 crossover in the lobby of Cobo Hall, a harbinger of the day when the Chinese will grace the United States with auto sales.

Power for the GS4 comes from a 1.3-liter or 1.5-liter mill, both of which are turbocharged; no power or torque figures were made available, however. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic handles power delivery, though where the power goes wasn’t mentioned.

Styling is derived from GAC’s “light sculpture 2.0″ and “flying dynamics” design language, while the interior has soft-touch materials and the appearance that you’re sitting in something by Hyundai.

Other details include: Euro5 emissions compliance; disc brakes on all fours inside 18-inch wheels; Geometric Absorption Control; and Bosch electronic stability.

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Supplier Woes Lead To Lada’s First-Ever Loss Of Monthly Sales Crown http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/supplier-woes-lead-ladas-first-ever-loss-monthly-sales-crown/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/supplier-woes-lead-ladas-first-ever-loss-monthly-sales-crown/#comments Thu, 08 Jan 2015 11:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=973537 Since the first Ladas left the assembly line in the 1970s, the automaker has always held the top spot on the sales podium, month after month, year after year. Until November 2014, that is. Automotive News Europe reports that problems between parent company AutoVAZ and several of its suppliers helped to bring Lada’s continuous dominance […]

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Since the first Ladas left the assembly line in the 1970s, the automaker has always held the top spot on the sales podium, month after month, year after year. Until November 2014, that is.

Automotive News Europe reports that problems between parent company AutoVAZ and several of its suppliers helped to bring Lada’s continuous dominance over the Russian domestic market to an end that month, when Kia moved 10,834 Rios over the former’s 10,520 Grantas to take the monthly gold. Those problems have since been resolved, per an AutoVAZ representative.

Despite the hiccup, Lada is still the czar of the Russian market, having sold 351,992 units between January and November of last year; Kia holds a distant second with 175,491 sold. The Granta is also holding its own overall, with 139,405 copies taking to the highway over the same timeframe. Hyundai’s Solaris (105,142) and the Kia Rio (84,350) round out the top three.

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US Army Makes $744K In First-Ever Public Humvee Auction http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/us-army-makes-744k-first-ever-public-humvee-auction/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/us-army-makes-744k-first-ever-public-humvee-auction/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 12:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962818 Forget Panthers: Humvees are the new hotness, as so demonstrated when the United States Army held its first-ever public auction for a surplus of the iconic military vehicle. Military.com reports a total of 25 vehicles were auctioned on behalf of the Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency, with $744,000 brought in for the trouble. Bidding for each […]

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Humvee

Forget Panthers: Humvees are the new hotness, as so demonstrated when the United States Army held its first-ever public auction for a surplus of the iconic military vehicle.

Military.com reports a total of 25 vehicles were auctioned on behalf of the Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency, with $744,000 brought in for the trouble.

Bidding for each vehicle began at $10,000, but it didn’t last long at that level; the average winning bid came in at $30,000. The lowest bid was $21,500 for a 1989 model, while the highest was $41,000 for one made in 1994.

That said, the vehicles won’t be hitting the highway any time soon, as the vehicles were sold with the caveat that they would be limited to off-road purposes. Another auction is expected in January, with more likely to follow; the DLA has 4,000 Humvees gathering dust at present.

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Mobius Leads Path Toward Local Manufacturing For African Consumers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/mobius-leads-path-toward-local-manufacturing-african-consumers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/mobius-leads-path-toward-local-manufacturing-african-consumers/#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 15:00:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=958457 Today, 50 units from Nairobi-based manufacturer Mobius are set to be delivered to customers, marking the first step for the company as it aims to prove Kenya — and the continent of Africa — can produce just as well as it supplies raw materials. Reuters reports the vehicle, known as the II, will go for […]

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Today, 50 units from Nairobi-based manufacturer Mobius are set to be delivered to customers, marking the first step for the company as it aims to prove Kenya — and the continent of Africa — can produce just as well as it supplies raw materials.

Reuters reports the vehicle, known as the II, will go for KSh950,000 ($10,500 USD) before taxes, and is meant to tackle the rough roads the Chinese have yet to pave over. Thus, for ease of maintenance and repairs, the II has little more than a front windscreen, minimal electronics, and a sturdy suspension upon which its aluminum body rests. Forty-five percent of the vehicle is derived from local sources, while the engine and other pieces come from outside suppliers.

Mobius joins Ugandan automaker Kiira Motor Project in designing, building and selling an African-made vehicle for Africa, overcoming long-standing concerns that the continent cannot make anything like the II for its people, let alone the rest of the world; the last attempt by a local concern — the Nyayo Pioneer in 1990 — fell apart soon after production began.

So far, Mobius is doing well for itself with its business model, with enquiries from neighboring nations, western Africa and beyond. Kiira, meanwhile, received an initial commitment of $70 million from the Ugandan government, and is seeking a total of $350 million to build a factory for its planned vehicle, a $20,000 sedan in the vein of the Toyota Camry aimed at office workers and executives.

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Mahindra Buys Majority Stake In NEVS http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/mahindra-buys-majority-stake-nevs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/mahindra-buys-majority-stake-nevs/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 15:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=954745 Ever wondered what Indian curry and Swedish meatballs tasted like together? You will soon enough, thanks to a new deal between National Electric Vehicle Sweden and Mahindra. SaabsUnited reports Mahindra & Mahindra purchased a majority stake in NEVS in an agreement that keeps Mahindra’s identity secret until the agreement is made final. Though NEVS’ administrator […]

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Ever wondered what Indian curry and Swedish meatballs tasted like together? You will soon enough, thanks to a new deal between National Electric Vehicle Sweden and Mahindra.

SaabsUnited reports Mahindra & Mahindra purchased a majority stake in NEVS in an agreement that keeps Mahindra’s identity secret until the agreement is made final.

Though NEVS’ administrator Lars Eric Gustafsson wouldn’t confirm Mahindra as the party purchasing the stake, he said the deal would finance operating costs — to the tune of €5 million ($6.2 million USD) per month until the agreement is finalized, which is expected to occur February of 2015. Gustafsson added that NEVS was in talks with another Asian manufacturer about the possibility of a joint venture.

Meanwhile, the company is still undergoing reorganization, granted by the Vänersborg District Court in Vänersborg, Sweden late August of this year. NEVS petitioned for an three-month extension Monday.

As for the Saab name, NEVS plans to renegotiate the brand agreement with owner SAAB AB once its finances are more stable. The company lost the name after filing for creditor protection.

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Review: 1982 VAZ 21033 – Lada 1300 for the Soviets http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/review-1982-vaz-21033-lada-1300-soviets/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/review-1982-vaz-21033-lada-1300-soviets/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 14:26:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=937082 Everyone knows it by its export name, Lada, but its real name was VAZ and that is how it was commonly known in Soviet Union. Like all other Soviet automakers, VAZ is an acronym and it stands for Volzhsky Avtomobilny Zavod, or Volga Automobile Plant. This is not to be confused with Volga cars which were […]

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1982 vaz lada 21033 front 34

Everyone knows it by its export name, Lada, but its real name was VAZ and that is how it was commonly known in Soviet Union. Like all other Soviet automakers, VAZ is an acronym and it stands for Volzhsky Avtomobilny Zavod, or Volga Automobile Plant. This is not to be confused with Volga cars which were made by GAZ, Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod or Gorky Automobile Plant, some 600 kilometers southeast.

1982 vaz lada 21033 rear 34

The 2103 model, like all Ladas in this series, 2101 through 2107, is based off the 1966–1974 Fiat 124 Special. Designed to be the car of the people, in its transformation from Fiat to VAZ, the vehicle lost most things that could have been described as a luxurious. Furthermore, the body and chassis were modified to withstand the harsh Soviet climates; thicker steel, better heater, increased ride height, and a newer Fiat-designed engine. The 2100-series VAZs and Ladas, also known as Classic, Riva, Signet, Laika, or Kalinka depending on the market, were produced from 1970 until 2012 in Russia, and the 2107 is still in production in Egypt!

1982 lada vaz 21033 exterior details

The VAZ 21033 pictured here is one of the more rare models. The 21033 was a less expensive version of the basic VAZ 2103. The differences between the two are limited to the 21033 having a 70hp 1.3-liter engine, versus a 75hp 1.5-liter engine. The 2103 also had a radio with a single speaker, whereas the 21033 did not. Those lucky enough to be able to purchase a new VAZ may have been given the options of some models which included engine size or a wagon body. The price for the 21033 was 8617 Rubles, whereas the price for the more powerful 2103 was 8667 Rubels in 1982. Needless to say anyone who could choose, chose the 2103.

1982 lada vaz 21033 exterior details 2

The story of the pictured 21033 is that it was won in a state lottery by some lady in 1982. Because she was not buying a car, she was not given a choice of model, so she got what no one else wanted. After thirty years of use and abuse, the VAZ was purchased by a young Russian-American enthusiast of Soviet vehicles named Roman. With the exception of paint, he restored mostly by himself in Ukraine and then shipped the car to New York two years ago. After proper federal and state paperwork was completed, the car was issued New York state license plates.

1982 lada vaz 21033 interior dash

Vehicle restorations can vary in forms and qualities; for instance I have a personal distain for cars that have been supposedly restored to factory level, but are in reality over-restored and therefore superior to what they were brand new. Over-restoring any Eastern Bloc car would be a rather simple task given their original built quality, and that is where Roman was extra careful. The car was improved where it seemed practical, so factory issues such as poor panel gaps and overs-pray were avoided.

1982 lada vaz 21033 interior details driver

 

Each part used was an original factory part, many of which proudly display a CCCP logo, otherwise known as “made in USSR”. Brand new parts were used on few rare occasions but most were old, restored to original condition. Since these vehicles have been in production for such a long time, finding the original model year part was not always easy for Roman. One such instance were the front fenders, which varied in style but not in fitment. The replacements for the rusted out original fenders were no longer available, so fenders from a newer model had to be adopted for proper side-marker and trim fitment. Steel wheels with chrome covers are also original, down to what looks like a missing center cap.

1982 lada vaz 21033 other details

All interior parts are original, including seat covering. Shockingly, such luxury item as the rear center armrest was standard but headrests were not added until later in production. Manual seat-belts provide world class insecurity and a lot of the interior had a very familiar Fiat feel. Where he could, Roman added factory accessories, such as the factory radio and with a mono-speaker mounted below it; at the right frequency, the ignition system is very audible. Other interesting features are designed with security in mind, such as quick disconnect wiper blades and side mirror, both of which were frequently stolen in communist Russia.

1982 lada vaz 21033 interior details

The front seats offer little support yet are comfortable, feeling springy like older Mercedes-Benz seats. They give an impression on being seated on, rather than seated in. The rear bench has the same springy feel to it. I was really impressed with the amount of leg and headroom for such a small car; a modern 3-series would not be any more spacious, with the exception of the VAZ being a lot narrower, having smaller doors, and much smaller overall exterior dimensions. This is a small car by modern standards, one can almost hug it!

1982 lada vaz 21033 engine

The trunk is lined with a factory-like vinyl cover which I have never seen before as it was something that was likely easily ripped and therefore quickly discarded. The full-size spare tire fits snugly on the left side and is complimented by two tool kits and a foot air pump, all factory parts. Yes, it may seem mind-boggling by today’s standards, but VAZ owners were expected to perform minor service and repairs by themselves. On the right side of the trunk is the gas tank, which in some other Fiat models was relocated under the rear seat.

1982 lada vaz 21033 tool kit

Around town, the little VAZ keeps up with traffic just fine, but it does struggle a bit at highway speeds. The peak of 70hp and square shape simply does not allow it to cruise like an S-class, or even a new Hyundai Accent. Nor should it, as it was designed in time and place where freeways just did not exist, speeds over 60mph were rarely reached and considered fast. The engine has a narrow power-band and does not like to be spun at speeds that approach the redline. The clutch, the shifter, and the steering feel like they have an organic, unobstructed, mechanical connection to the engine and the chassis; it can be felt and heard. From personal experience of driving similar cars over longer distances, this is amazingly unique these days but it does get tiresome.

1982 vaz lada 21033 side

Once the iron curtain fell, one of the first things people in Eastern Europe did was ditch their crappy commie cars. They wanted something, anything, with more power, better reliability, and improved fuel economy. They wanted to be able to hear the radio while driving and have enough power to safely pass a tractor on a narrow two-lane road. With time they developed taste for status which is best shown by the automobile one drives.  In recent years, however, the Eastern Blok cars have developed a cult and patriotic following. People want to restore and preserve them. To many of those people those once hated but now charming cars represent an important era in history, one that shows perseverance and victory against communist tyranny.

1982 lada vaz 21033 greenwich concours 2014

If you want to learn more about Eastern Bloc cars, I suggest this Facebook page. Additionally, in the past I have reviewed an FSO Polonez and a Lada Niva. On semi-regular basis I do write-ups on Hooniverse about weird and obscure cars and trucks that are living and dying on the streets of Poland; see the many links within that post.

Kamil Kaluski is the East Coast Editor for Hooniverse.com. His ramblings on Eastern European cars, $500 racers, and other miscellaneous automotive stuff can be found there. 

1982 vaz lada 21033 front

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NEVS Lays Off 200 In Reorganization Plan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/nevs-lays-200-reorganization-plan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/nevs-lays-200-reorganization-plan/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 10:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=921169 With the Saab name reclaimed by the mothership, a host of financial problems, and no product beyond a 10-year-old platform, what else is left for National Electric Vehicle Sweden to do? If you said, “Tap out,” then you just might see that hand pounding the mat rather quickly. Reuters reports the automaker has laid off […]

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National-Electric-Vehicle-Sweden

With the Saab name reclaimed by the mothership, a host of financial problems, and no product beyond a 10-year-old platform, what else is left for National Electric Vehicle Sweden to do? If you said, “Tap out,” then you just might see that hand pounding the mat rather quickly.

Reuters reports the automaker has laid off 200 workers due to a lack of work as of late, work that likely won’t be coming anytime soon. NEVS says the move was part of its reorganization plan that will be presented at a creditors’ meeting October 8.

Originally, the workers were retained since production ceased in May 2014 in the hope that financing would soon come its way to restart work immediately. The remaining staff will keep the factory in good condition should NEVS secure the needed financing to resume assembly.

At present, the automaker owes kr400 million ($56 million USD) to its creditors, and is allegedly in talks with two unknown firms — speculation says Mahindra is one of them — to gain a financial jumpstart for an electric variant of the 9-3, currently in the prototype phase.

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Qi: New Spare Parts For Fisker Karma Owners Coming Soon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/qi-new-spare-parts-fisker-karma-owners-coming-soon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/qi-new-spare-parts-fisker-karma-owners-coming-soon/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 11:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=903210 If you’re Justin Bieber, Carlos Santana or Bob Lutz — and even if you’re not — you’ll be happy to know that your Fisker Karma will be more fixable in the event of a fender-bender or two, all thanks to parent company Wanxiang. Green Car Reports says Wanxiang America’s Fisker Coordinator Linyun Frank Qi dropped […]

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If you’re Justin Bieber, Carlos Santana or Bob Lutz — and even if you’re not — you’ll be happy to know that your Fisker Karma will be more fixable in the event of a fender-bender or two, all thanks to parent company Wanxiang.

Green Car Reports says Wanxiang America’s Fisker Coordinator Linyun Frank Qi dropped a note with the Fisker Owners Club, informing them that his company, still in the rebuilding stage, was “settling and still negotiating with over 300 suppliers” involved in the Karma’s construction to regain access to every part made for the premium PHEV.

As for when and how customers will receive the new parts, along with the service needed to put everything back together, no timeline was mentioned. Wanxiang purchased Fisker in a bankruptcy auction February 2014 for $149 million, promising to restart production of the Karma as soon as possible.

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General Motors Recalls 8.4 Million Vehicles http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/general-motors-recalls-8-4-million-vehicles/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/general-motors-recalls-8-4-million-vehicles/#comments Mon, 30 Jun 2014 22:05:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=856065 General Motors has issued a total of six recalls affecting some 8.4 million vehicles in North America, the majority of which have ignition-related issues. Autoblog reports the following group totals 7,610,862 — 6,805,679 in the United States — and are being recalled for unintended key rotation: 1997-2005 Chevrolet Malibu 1998-2002 Oldsmobile Intrigue 1999-2004 Oldsmobile Alero […]

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GM RenCen Storm Clouds

General Motors has issued a total of six recalls affecting some 8.4 million vehicles in North America, the majority of which have ignition-related issues.

Autoblog reports the following group totals 7,610,862 — 6,805,679 in the United States — and are being recalled for unintended key rotation:

  • 1997-2005 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1998-2002 Oldsmobile Intrigue
  • 1999-2004 Oldsmobile Alero
  • 1999-2005 Pontiac Grand Am
  • 2000-2005 Chevrolet Impala
  • 2000-2005 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
  • 2004-2008 Pontiac Grand Prix

The second group totals 616,179 — 554,328 in the U.S. — and are being recalled for unintended key rotation due to bumping of key fob:

  • 2004-2006 Cadillac SRX
  • 2013-2014 Cadillac CTS

The third group totals 20,134 — 2,990 in the U.S. — and are being recalled for potential damage to the engine block heater power cord’s insulation under extreme cold conditions:

  • 2011-2014 Chevrolet Cruze
  • 2012-2014 Chevrolet Sonic
  • 2013-2014 Chevrolet Trax
  • 2013-2014 Buick Encore
  • 2013-2014 Buick Verano

The fourth group totals 117 — 104 in the U.S. — and are being recalled over the Superjoint fastner not being torqued to spec prior to leaving the assembly line:

  • 2014 Chevrolet Camaro
  • 2014 Chevrolet Impala
  • 2014 Buick Regal
  • 2014 Cadillac XTS

The fifth group totals 12,002 — 9,731 in the U.S. — and are being recalled due to the underhood fuseable link potentially melting through electrical overloading, leading to smoke and fire damage to other electric wiring components:

  • 2007-2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD (with auxiliary battery)
  • 2007-2011 GMC Sierra HD (with auxiliary battery)

The sixth and final group totals 188,705 — 181,984 in the U.S. — and are being recalled over the potential for an electrical short to the driver’s door module disabling the power lock and window switches, as well as overheating the module itself:

  • 2005-2007 Buick Rainier
  • 2005-2007 Chevrolet TrailBlazer
  • 2005-2007 GMC Envoy
  • 2005-2007 Isuzu Ascender
  • 2005-2007 Saab 9-7X
  • 2006 Chevrolet TrailBlazer EXT
  • 2006 GMC Envoy XL

In the press release issued by the automaker, CEO Mary Barra said her company undertook what she believed “is the most comprehensive safety review in the history of [GM] because nothing is more important than the safety of [GM’s] customers.” She added later on that if any other issues come to the automaker’s attention, GM would “act appropriately and without hesitation” to recall and repair those vehicles. The automaker has recalled a total of 28 million vehicles since January of this year.

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Great Wall’s Descent A Sign Local Industry Not Ready For Primetime http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/great-walls-descent-a-sign-local-industry-not-ready-for-primetime/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/great-walls-descent-a-sign-local-industry-not-ready-for-primetime/#comments Tue, 13 May 2014 12:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=819681 Once the darling of investors amid ambitions of taking on foreign automakers such as Jeep with its line of SUVs, Great Wall Motors’ recent fall from grace on the back of the upscale Haval H8 may be a sign Chinese automakers are not yet ready to move from production of cheap transportation. Bloomberg reports production […]

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Great Wall Haval H8

Once the darling of investors amid ambitions of taking on foreign automakers such as Jeep with its line of SUVs, Great Wall Motors’ recent fall from grace on the back of the upscale Haval H8 may be a sign Chinese automakers are not yet ready to move from production of cheap transportation.

Bloomberg reports production of the 200,000 yuan ($32,100 USD) SUV, aimed at the likes of the Volkswagen Tiguan and Ford Kuga, was suspended indefinitely earlier this month amid quality concerns regarding “knocking noises” from the six-speed automatic transmission at high speeds. The second delay of the H8 — the first occurring earlier this year after local press panned the SUV in test drives — sent Great Wall’s stock price down 17 percent, while seven analysts cut their ratings of the automaker due to perceived weaknesses in the overall local industry from the suspension. Oriental Patron Financial Group analyst Vivien Chen, one of the seven, explains:

We believe the event indicates domestic automakers haven’t met requirements to upgrade to be a high-end vehicle maker. The event definitely hurt customers’ perception of H8, and hurt company image.

The suspension is the latest stumbling block for Great Wall, having faced a recall with Chery of 23,000 units from Australia in 2012 when banned asbestos parts were found in some models. In addition, 2013 exports fell 22 percent to nearly 75,000 units due to currency challenges in Japan and South Korea. Locally, the automaker is faring better, having moved almost 112,000 SUVs over its competitors so far in 2014, though the market overall fell 2.5 percent in April to 37.1 percent for local automakers, the eight consecutive month this has occurred.

Despite the setbacks, Macquarie Group analyst Janet Lewis believes Great Wall and the rest of the Chinese automakers may be able to learn from the experience as they move forward toward selling their wares to developed markets such as the United States, though they all still have a long road ahead of them, as Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Max Warburton points out with Great Wall:

The company faces monumental challenges in trying to move up a league in the automotive world, and the problems faced by the H8 confirm Great Wall is struggling with technology. Serious questions will now be asked about Great Wall’s growth potential.

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Ich bin ein Hotrodder: A Story of My Opel Diplomat http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/ich-bin-ein-hotrodder-a-story-of-my-opel-diplomat/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/ich-bin-ein-hotrodder-a-story-of-my-opel-diplomat/#comments Sun, 20 Apr 2014 13:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=804154   While JFK was busy capturing the hearts of the German people with his Ich bin ein Berliner speech, the GM engineers at Rüsselsheim were busy at work finishing their next big project – the series of full-size (on European scale) luxury models, called Kapitän, Admiral and Diplomat. Introduced in February of 1964, the new […]

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While JFK was busy capturing the hearts of the German people with his Ich bin ein Berliner speech, the GM engineers at Rüsselsheim were busy at work finishing their next big project – the series of full-size (on European scale) luxury models, called Kapitän, Admiral and Diplomat. Introduced in February of 1964, the new models were meant to take on Mercedes-Benz, though they shared something in common with contemporary America cars, in that they were really just one car, offered in different equipment levels, and with different engine options. Kapitän was the cheapest, with an inline six under the hood, standard manual transmission and relatively sparse equipment. Its size, equipment and power put it somewhere between American compacts and midsize cars of the time, like a smaller 1964 Chevelle, with a dash of Buick styling.

The other two models were more interesting. The Admiral added some equipment, and available V8 engine – the venerable Chevy Small Block, in 283 cubic inch guise. The top of the line Diplomat, which came with even more luxury, shunned the six cylinder altogether. It was produced with a choice of the 283ci V8, and the famous 327, both teamed with a two-speed Powerglide automatic transmission. The Diplomat even spawned a sexy, Riviera-like V8 coupe model, with only 347 examples and now exceedingly rare – and terribly expensive.

In the next four years, nearly 90,000 KAD Opels were built. Most lived their lives on Germany’s roads and Autobahns, but some went to other countries. A few even got to the other side of the Berlin Wall. And at least two or three (although probably more) made their way to Hungary.

Around the time of the KAD’s final production run, a white Galaxie 500 coupe, with a 390 big block engine, rolled off the Ford assembly line on the other side of the world.

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For the next half a century, those were totally unrelated events. While the Galaxie 500 puttered around Southern California, preserved by the desert climate, the Admirals and Diplomats in Hungary led eventful, hard lives, which lead them in the state of wrecks.

But their stories were meant to come together. Early in the new century, a Hungarian guy called István bought up three KAD Opels, and started putting them together to build one good car. And some time after that, the old guy owning the Galaxie decided to put it on eBay, where a young guy from Czech Republic saw it, and decided to buy it. That guy was me, and the goal was to import the car, have some fun with it and then flip it for a profit. It didn’t work, because I chose the wrong car. Instead of buying a nicely preserved, but uninteresting four-door, with shiny paint and gleaming chrome, which would sell easily in Europe, I decided to buy a car muscle car enthusiast would like – two-door with a big block engine, discs in front… but also with faded paint and lots of dings and scrapes. Which meant the car didn’t sell, and as my attempt on US classic car importing business fell apart in the global financial crisis, I was stuck with a car I had no means to restore.

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At the same time, István fixed up his Opel. He put the best parts of the two or three cars together, fixing up the best body, rebuilding the 283 engine, fitting the modern 200R4 transmission with a bunch of hot-rodder upgrades, and painted the whole thing flat black, to achieve the cool hot-rod look. To spice things up, he added red wheels, and dual exhausts with glasspack mufflers. But before he got around to restoring the interior or finishing details, he got fed up with the thing. He needed change, and he wanted to go American.

I guess you can see where this is going. Two guys with cars that are hard to sell, both in Central Europe, both lusting for what the other one has.

I don’t even recall for sure who did the first contact. I think it was me. We exchanged e-mails for some time, sending photos of our cars, details about their condition, lists of what was done (on his) and what needed to be done (on mine). And eventually, we came to agreement that we really like each other’s car, and that we’ll go through with the trade. It was decided that it would be me who will do the trip, trailering my Galaxie to István’s place in Budapest. I called a friend of mine with a Seat Alhambra and a car trailer (yes, my American friends – while you think that your ¾ ton truck may not be enough to trailer a car, we do it with minivans), we agreed on a date, and off we went.

IMG_0058

The trip itself would be quite uneventful, with the exception of my idiot friend conveniently “forgetting” he was meant to do it for free (to repay some money he owed me), and needing me (totally broke at the time – partly because of said idiot’s actions, like blowing up transmission and differential in my Chevy Caprice) to pony up the fuel money. The exchange went well, I got a tour of the speed shop where István worked, full of cool muscle cars, hot rods and motorcycles. I did a test drive, and fell in love with the car. We shook hands, loaded the car, and off we went.

My slight annoyment about having to pay for the fuel grew into full-blown rage when I found out that we’re nearly out of fuel, have no Hungarian money and may not make it to the first gas station in Slovakia. I firmly decided to unload the Opel and proceed home, leaving my idiot friend stranded in Hungary – with no money, and no ability to understand their language. Fortunately, the venerable 1.9 TDI turbo-diesel marvel once again shown its unbelievable efficiency and took us to Slovakia, and then home.

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So, I was now in possession of a huge (for Europe, it was about the size of the S-class) beast with a slight identity crisis. The car wasn’t sure whether it’s Admiral or Diplomat (although the paperwork said Diplomat), and most of all, it was a cross between an old German luxury sedan and typical American muscle car. With some hot rod influences here and there, starting with the red wheels and Mooneye decals, and ending with the monstrous roar from the exhaust.

Simply put, it was a perfect car for my daily driver, and that was exactly what I wanted to do with it. At the time, I basically had no other fully street legal and functional vehicle, except for the steady stream of press cars. And I had this idea that unlike the 1967 Dodge Coronet, which I also owned at the time and which could only be registered as “antique”, slightly restricting the daily-driver duties, the Diplomat was the perfect solution for times when I had no press car.

ulice

Of course, using the nearly half a century old hot rod for daily driver duties has its problems. If we dismiss the obvious stuff, like fuel consumption(circa 10 to 16mpg) and its enormous size, there was still the other white elephant – it’s a hot rod.

Those of you who live in good old US of A are probably familiar with what a Chevy Small Block with glasspacks sounds like. For the rest of you, it is best likened to four Harley-Davidson motorcycles with loud pipes, running in unison. Slight problem, if you want to go somewhere, or come from somewhere, during the night, and don’t want neighbors to key your car or throw stuff at you. But this could be avoided by leaving and approaching your home while idling – at least that didn’t set off car alarms.

But being a hot rod, meant for nice, sunny days, the Opel had no choke. And starting a carbureted vehicle with no choke, especially in colder weather, means revving the engine for at least a minute, before you set off. Or it would stall. Which gives your neighbours about a minute to come out of their houses and murder you.

Also, the car lacked some other unnecessary stuff, like a heater. And the lowered front end was pretty cool to look at, but the wheel lock was a bit reduced by the tires rubbing against wheel arches. Which sucks for maneuvering in parking lots.

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But non of it mattered, because, oh, boy, it was fun to drive. Of all the cars I owned, this got closest to my ideal of a big, evil, noisy hot-rod/muscle car thing. Not that it drove any good of course. Those big Opels were basically midsize American cars, modified just very slightly for European use. And even pure European cars of that time weren’t significantly better driving or handling than American ones – this came much, much later.

I don’t remember the handling of that thing very much, mostly because it didn’t have any. By turning that monstrous steering wheel in front of you, you were able to somehow tell the car where it should go, and it somehow obeyed. With disc brakes, it was somehow able to stop. But driving fast into corners wasn’t something that would ever cross your mind.

And the funny part was that it wasn’t even fast. It sure sounded fast, and with an open diff and 185-section tires, it was able to lay rubber, peg-legged, for maybe 60 feet. But the 283 was totally stock, with a 2-barrel cabrburettor, and it had 190 horsepower originally – which I suspect were SAE gross horsepower, leaving the “real” number somewhere around 160hp. I can imagine how slow the thing had to be with original Powerglide two-speed, but thankfully, the 200R4 made things a bit more sprightly. And extremely firm shifts of the hot-rodded tranny helped the “feeling of speed”.

The car roared off the line, with heavy jolts on each shift, squealing rubber… and then got beat by just about anything at least remotely quick, including some faster diesels. In a way, it was a really safe way of having fun, because you were going slow all the time, anyway.

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I had big plans for the car. Buying some nicer and bigger wheels, fixing up the annoying problems like too loud glasspacks or missing heater. Or at least registering it in my name, instead of running on the expired Hungarian temporary tags all the time. I even thought about adding some more horsepower, either by massaging the 283, or selling it to someone who wanted a stock engine, and building a Chevy 302. Actually, I think that was one of my best project car ideas of all time – German sedan with 8000rpm-revving Chevy engine.

But then life got in the way. A failing business meant debts to pay – and a lot of them. That’s why I still drive a borrowed Town Car, and why I had to sell the Opel some three years ago. I don’t think I drove it for more than maybe a thousand miles, but even in that short time, I’ve made tons of memories with it.

When I offered it for sale, no one in Czech Republic wanted it – even when I lowered the price way under its worth. I nearly sold it for peanuts, when I realized I didn’t try Germany. And of course, because Germans love old German cars, it sold – in about three days, for basically what I wanted in the ad (and I regretted not wanting more afterwards).

Last I heard from the new owner, he sent me some pictures of the car with new Cragar mags, straightened bodywork and a new paint (again flat black), and scoop sticking out of the hood. I guess the Opel is still alive and well, terrorizing the Germany’s streets.

Photo credits:
Opel, myself, Radek Beneš, István Zitas (pictures in gallery below)

@VojtaDobes is motoring journalist from Czech Republic, who previously worked for local editions of Autocar and TopGear magazines. Today, he runs his own website, www.Autickar.cz and serves as editor-in-chief at www.USmotors.cz. After a failed adventure with importing classic American cars to Europe, he is utterly broke, so he drives a borrowed Lincoln Town Car. His previous cars included a 1988 Caprice in NYC Taxi livery, a hot-rodded Opel Diplomat, two Dodge Coronets, a Simca, a Fiat 600 and Austin Maestro. He has never owned a diesel, manual wagon.

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Datsun To Enter Russian Market April 4 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/datsun-to-enter-russian-market-april-4/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/datsun-to-enter-russian-market-april-4/#comments Fri, 14 Mar 2014 10:07:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=771234 Following its global grand opening in India, Nissan’s low-cost Datsun brand will open its doors to the Russian market April 4 in Moscow. Just Auto reports the launch marks the official introduction of the brand to the Russian market for the first time in its history, and, according to Nissan in a statement, “is particularly […]

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Datsun_1519061g

Following its global grand opening in India, Nissan’s low-cost Datsun brand will open its doors to the Russian market April 4 in Moscow.

Just Auto reports the launch marks the official introduction of the brand to the Russian market for the first time in its history, and, according to Nissan in a statement, “is particularly significant for the global expansion of the brand as it is a key market that offers Datsun great potential for growth.”

Consumers will be able to sign up for updates on Datsun’s Russian website, as well as view a live stream introduction of the brand on April 4, featuring a sedan made specifically for the market that still follows Datsun’s philosophy of bringing accessibility to consumers in emerging markets.

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Datsun to Unveil Concept at 2014 Delhi Auto Expo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/datsun-to-unveil-concept-at-2014-delhi-auto-expo/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/datsun-to-unveil-concept-at-2014-delhi-auto-expo/#comments Thu, 23 Jan 2014 16:32:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=706482 Should you happen to be in India two weeks from now, Datsun will unveil the above concept at the 2014 Delhi Auto Expo during a conference held by the offshoot automaker. The concept heralds a possible expansion of Datsun’s current lineup, aimed at the young customers in South Africa, Russia, India and other high-growth markets. […]

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Datsun Concept India

Should you happen to be in India two weeks from now, Datsun will unveil the above concept at the 2014 Delhi Auto Expo during a conference held by the offshoot automaker.

The concept heralds a possible expansion of Datsun’s current lineup, aimed at the young customers in South Africa, Russia, India and other high-growth markets. The concept appears to be a three-door hatch slotted just below the Go five-door supermini, with the Go+ MPV completing the future trio.

As far as production is concerned, the hatch will be underpinned by Renault-Nissan’s Compact Module Family platform. The flexible platform is expected to support up to 14 vehicles within the Franco-Japanese alliance’s complete range.

The concept will debut at Datsun’s press conference February 5.

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BYD Coming to America in 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/byd-coming-to-america-in-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/byd-coming-to-america-in-2015/#comments Tue, 07 Jan 2014 05:41:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=693713 Backed by Warren Buffet and his investment company Berkshire Hathaway, Inc.,Automotive News is reporting that Chinese automaker BYD plans to deliver four models to the United States in late 2015. This move comes after BYD founder and chair Wang Chauanfu spent the past three years reorganizing his company, cutting the number of dealerships under the automaker’s […]

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BYD Qin

Backed by Warren Buffet and his investment company Berkshire Hathaway, Inc.,Automotive News is reporting that Chinese automaker BYD plans to deliver four models to the United States in late 2015.

This move comes after BYD founder and chair Wang Chauanfu spent the past three years reorganizing his company, cutting the number of dealerships under the automaker’s banner while narrowing losses with their solar business with help from state incentives.

In turn, investors rewarded the changes with a 63 percent surge in the share price — currently holding around $5 USD — though nowhere near the peak of $11 BYD saw in October 2008; Berkshire Hathaway paid around $1 per share for 9.9 percent ownership of the company back in that year.

Though BYD has yet to bring over any of their cars to the U.S., they will begin manufacturing of their K9 electric bus in March at its factory in Lancaster, Calif.; a plan to sell the e6 electric hatchback by the end of 2010 was postponed.

Leading the charge will be the Qin (pronounced Chin) plug-in hybrid, which already arrived in local market showrooms last month. The $31,400 (before state subsidies) sedan books it from nil to 60 in under 6 seconds, and possesses a 43-mile range in electric-only travel.

That said, the Qin, along with its electric brethren, may be a better sell in Los Angeles than in Beijing, as high prices, safety concerns, and a lack of supporting infrastructure have held back China’s goal of 5 million alternative-energy vehicles by 2020.

However, the state government unveiled a new program last September which is supposed to alleviate the issue through heavy promotion of new-energy vehicles in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou using subsidies through 2015, which should help BYD in local adoption of their plug-in and EV offerings.

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Hyundai Battles Skoda For Czech Republic http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/hyundai-battles-skoda-for-dominion-of-czech-republic/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/hyundai-battles-skoda-for-dominion-of-czech-republic/#comments Thu, 02 Jan 2014 12:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=691138 While Skoda has long been the Cinderella story of the Czech Republic, Skoda could soon find itself deposed as sovereign of their domestic auto market. In an effort to boost their market share in the Czech Republic to 15 percent by the end of the decade, Hyundai has pursued a “going-native” strategy. The strategy ranges from […]

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Hyundai i30 3D

While Skoda has long been the Cinderella story of the Czech Republic, Skoda could soon find itself deposed as sovereign of their domestic auto market.

In an effort to boost their market share in the Czech Republic to 15 percent by the end of the decade, Hyundai has pursued a “going-native” strategy. The strategy ranges from sponsoring the national soccer team and promoting its factory (where 72 percent of Hyundai’s models sold in the country are assembled, employing 3,500 to build 300,000 units annually), to dealers displaying Skoda’s new Octavia in their showrooms alongside Hyundai’s i30 and i40 models so consumers can comparison-shop right then and there.

The result? Hyundai holds 9.6 percent of the Czech market, up from 3.6 percent ten years prior. Skoda, on the other hand, fell from 48 percent to 30 percent in the same period. However, the original home team has pushed back hard with their own war plan, sponsoring the national hockey team, launching eight new models for the 2014 model year, and relying upon tradition to keep one-third of their homeland’s market.

Like Hyundai, Skoda has a goal of increasing their European sales to 5 percent of the market by the end of the decade; Hyundai currently has 3.5 percent, Skoda holds 4.1 percent.

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McLaren Faces Hurdle From China’s Lavish Spending Crackdown http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/mclaren-faces-hurdle-from-chinas-lavish-spending-crackdown/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/mclaren-faces-hurdle-from-chinas-lavish-spending-crackdown/#comments Mon, 25 Nov 2013 14:56:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=663402 McLaren, like many makers of luxury goods, is having a difficult time moving their fine wares in China as of late, all thanks to a crackdown against lavish spending begun last year by the country’s Communist government. While the elite of China presumably have no difficulty hiding expensive watches or fine liquor in their homes, […]

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McLaren-P1-production-model-side. Photo courtesy AutoGuide.com

McLaren, like many makers of luxury goods, is having a difficult time moving their fine wares in China as of late, all thanks to a crackdown against lavish spending begun last year by the country’s Communist government.

While the elite of China presumably have no difficulty hiding expensive watches or fine liquor in their homes, driving around in a P1, a Mulsanne or an Aventador practically screams the word ‘corruption’ to government officials. That said, McLaren still plans to expand in the coming year from three to 12 dealerships throughout China, based on visibility of their Formula One program and the citizen’s love for new brands.

Speaking of visibility, McLaren joined Bentley at the 2013 China International Automobile Exhibition in Guangzhou this weekend to show off their latest and greatest to help drive sales in the emerging market. The British automaker expects to sell 1,400 vehicles throughout the world in 2014.

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Fisker Files For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/fisker-files-for-chapter-11-bankruptcy/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/fisker-files-for-chapter-11-bankruptcy/#comments Mon, 25 Nov 2013 05:51:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=663138 What do Justin Bieber, Ashton Kutcher and Al Gore all have in common? They may soon — baring a miracle — become the proud owners of the first orphan cars made in the 21st century for well-moneyed consumers by an automaker born in the 21st century, as Fisker Automotive has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy […]

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Fisker Karma Courtesy tumblr.com

What do Justin Bieber, Ashton Kutcher and Al Gore all have in common? They may soon — baring a miracle — become the proud owners of the first orphan cars made in the 21st century for well-moneyed consumers by an automaker born in the 21st century, as Fisker Automotive has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Unlike Chapter 7, where everything is liquidated and everyone is laid off forever (an experience this writer has gone through herself with her last full-time employer), Chapter 11 will allow Fisker to attempt to get it together through reorganization with Richard Li of Hybrid Tech Holdings, LLC at the helm. Li purchased Fisker in a United States government auction last month for $25 million.

As for who this bankruptcy filing affects, look no further than your wallet: Fisker Automotive was one of a few automakers who took out a loan from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program. The total note was $529 million, though Fisker only took $192 million from the government while also taking $525 million from private investors. While the DOE recouped $28 million from the automaker’s first missed payment, the government (and thus, the taxpayer) lost $139 million on the investment.

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More Than 550 Classic Cars For Sale In One Ebay Auction http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/more-than-550-classic-cars-for-sale-in-one-ebay-auction/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/more-than-550-classic-cars-for-sale-in-one-ebay-auction/#comments Wed, 01 May 2013 13:20:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=486335 If you have a half million dollars in your pocket, you can be the opening bidder on a lot of 550 classic cars located at a family owned towing and storage lot in Apache Junction, AZ and listed for sale on Ebay right now. According to the ad, the business has been in operation since […]

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If you have a half million dollars in your pocket, you can be the opening bidder on a lot of 550 classic cars located at a family owned towing and storage lot in Apache Junction, AZ and listed for sale on Ebay right now. According to the ad, the business has been in operation since the 1960s and the lot is filled with cars from the 1940s through the 1980s, approximately 97% of which are complete with motors, transmissions and body parts. You can even negotiate to leave the cars where they are – that way your wife will never know…

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Review: Morgan 3 Wheeler http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/review-morgan-3-wheeler/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/review-morgan-3-wheeler/#comments Mon, 01 Apr 2013 13:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=483030 “YOUR CAR!!!! I LOVE YOUR CAR!!!!” She was a Slavic-faced woman in her mid-twenties, not bad for New York and positively model-grade by Midwestern standards, and she was literally hopping up and down on the streetcorner. “It’s not a car,” I said, wedged into the Morgan’s extremely tight drivers’ compartment, feeling self-conscious in a half-face […]

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“YOUR CAR!!!! I LOVE YOUR CAR!!!!” She was a Slavic-faced woman in her mid-twenties, not bad for New York and positively model-grade by Midwestern standards, and she was literally hopping up and down on the streetcorner.

“It’s not a car,” I said, wedged into the Morgan’s extremely tight drivers’ compartment, feeling self-conscious in a half-face helmet that I wasn’t strictly sure was necessary or even required by law. “It’s a trike.”

“I WANT A RIDE!” she yelled. A crowd was starting to gather. The stoplight seemed to be taking an unusually long time to change.

“There isn’t room.” Wedged next to me, the Morgan’s owner, professional bon vivant and recreational speeder Alex Roy, was making a “no room” motion with his hands in her direction as he explained the situation.

“Oh,” I smirked, “I think there’s room.” But then the green light flashed and with an incongruous but very forceful Harley-blat we departed the intersection, leaving Miss Hopping Estonia 2007 in our blue-smoking wake.

Most modern gearheads know who Alex Roy is; he’s even managed to get on the Letterman show in order to brag about making it across the country in thirty-one hours and change in one of his “POLIZEI” BMW M5s. Like fellow journalist and daredevil Matt Farah, Mr. Roy is notorious for all sorts of high-dollar hijinks in various Bullruns, Gumballs, and other velvet-rope driving events. Also like Matt Farah, the real-life Alex Roy is a thoughtful intellectual with a genuine, childlike passion for cars. It’s hard not to like them both once you have any in-person exposure to them.

A few years ago, I had a couple of caustic words for the bald-by-choice Roy. In response, he sent me a copy of his book and invited me to stop by his place in New York to discuss it. I arrived ready for a good solid scrap but ended up laughing all evening at Alex’s ability to turn a phrase in the service of a story. At the heart of it, he’s one of “us”. He’s a car guy through and through. Whatever my opinion of the Gumball Rally might be, (hint: it rhymes with chucks rocks) my opinion of Alex Roy is high.

When he offered me an opportunity to spin his Morgan Trike around Lower Manhattan in the dead of night, therefore, I accepted before he could finish the sentence. I arrived at his Greenwich Village loft last Tuesday evening and found Alex screening films with his cross-country co-driver, the impeccably handsome David Maher. With Mr. Maher’s departure to do whatever millionaire playboys do in New York, Alex and I headed to the parking garage beneath his building. The trike was parked on a very steep blind exit, so my first task was to fire it up and drive away without rolling backwards and hitting my own rental car.

I hadn’t been exactly sure what to expect when I squeezed myself into the leather-lined open cockpit, but the reality of operating the 3 Wheeler is very pleasant. Three pedals, no hand clutch or anything deliberately odd like that. It starts up like a car, although there’s a master switch to flip on before hitting the starter button. My size 10.5D New Balance 993s fit the pedalbox with no difficulty, although there’s no dead pedal to speak of. This would not be a great vehicle in which to cross the country, even if one suspected it could be done in thirty-one hours. Which it could not, for reasons I’ll discuss shortly. Although final drive is by means of an unconventional and fairly delicate toothed belt, I had no trouble balancing it on the clutch and then rolling it up and out of the garage.

The last trike I drove was the the rather imperfect CanAm Spyder, which was basically a snowmobile with wheels. This, on the other hand, feels like a somewhat attenuated version of a Caterham Seven. Control efforts are very low, from the wrist-action shifter to the quick-to-engage brakes. I found it easy to place my left palm flat on the ground without altering my seating position. I don’t recommend doing this on the move, even for a moment, even just to see if you can do it. The Morgan offers a doorhandle’s-eye view of New York City traffic.

The power from the S&S-built Harley twin is more than adequate, even short-shifting to save the already-battered drive belt. It’s possible to dive for gaps between taxis, but this is no Crown Victoria and it has to be understood that in any metal-mashing encounter with anything more substantial than a Vespa the Morgan will likely come off the loser. Best to use the power to get out of trouble, rather than into it.

With 1,996 miles of hard downtown use showing on the odometer at the start of our journey, Mr. Roy’s trike has already suffered a variety of mechanical issues including the departure of both exhaust hangers, a failure of the accelerator pedal bushing, and a gradual collapse of the headlight brackets. After a few minutes in Chelsea it’s easy to see why. You, the urban Morgan driver, must continually steer between manhole covers and potholes. Striking any of them will result in a crash and rattle from the front kingpins violent enough to reposition one’s spectacles. Thankfully, the front end steers with perfect clarity and precision. It’s the back wheel that causes a spot of difficulty, really. At fifty miles per hour, any sudden manhole-cover-avoidance maneuver results in a rather startling oscillation from the rear wheel as it meanders up and down the road crown looking for a place to settle. I can easily imagine it breaking free entirely under less than considerable provocation. The way it interacts with the various steel plates and whatnot making up a large part of city streets has to be experienced to be understood but if you’ve driven an old motorcycle in New York and you’ve felt a narrow bike tire scoot on steel sideways you’ll have an idea.

The Morgan is far from autobahn-ready, and Roy describes the few racetrack laps he’s taken in it as “slower than the safety car,” but in this downtown environment it’s absolutely perfect. Not because it’s safe, spacious, easy to see, or terribly competent to drive, but because it pulls female attention like Mark Purefoy’s bathing scene in the second season of HBO’s Rome. At every one of Manhattan’s crowded crosswalks, the trike creates an absolutely hilarious phenomenon that goes something like this: children stare open-mouthed, men pretend to ignore it, and women of all types start twitching from the knees up. I experienced this phenomenon when I used to drive a Seven clone around central Ohio, but let’s face it: Columbus is a hick town and every time somebody in the city buys a Mustang GT the local paper runs a front page story entitled NEW SPORTING VELOCIPEDE PURCHASED FROM LOCAL PURVEYOR OF NON-TRACTOR MOTORIZED VEHICLES.

New York, on the other hand, is the capital of the world and the women here have seen it all. I’ve personally observed an F430 snarl its way down 7th Avenue without anybody looking in its direction whatsoever. And when the ladies of the city do deign to notice your Reventon or what have you, it’s usually with some comment regarding lack of endowment. The common-and-garden-variety 911 Turbo S is more of a hindrance to getting your groove on the Village than a BUSH/CHENEY FARM AND RANCH TEAM T-shirt would be.

Not so the Morgan. After a solid twenty minutes of seeing beautiful women run into the street for a mere chance to more closely examine the vehicle and its pilots, I asked Alex if this was par for the course. “Oh, yes,” he laughed, “I can get in trouble with this thing if I drive it around. Better to stay at home.” At perhaps sixty grand all in — the price of a Boxster 2.7 PDK with vinyl seatbacks, 13″ steel wheels, and a molded-plastic blank plate labeled “POVERTY” where the radio’s supposed to be — the Trike is an absurd value, assuming you have no concerns about the future of your marriage or the present state of your prostate gland.

Before I knew it, we’d arrived at Roy’s chosen restaurant, where we just parked the thing out front as if it were legal or advisable to do so. While I dined on some top-notch roasted chicken and chucked back the Ketel One, he laughingly observed women climbing into the Morgan for photographs again and again. “I don’t mind,” he allowed, “as long as they aren’t hurting anything.” When we walked out, a young couple was attempting to photograph themselves in front of the Morgan.

“I’m the owner,” I announced, and simply put my arm around the lady’s waist, dragging her away. “Take a picture,” I commanded, which the boyfriend dutifully did. Then, amazingly enough, he turned to Alex to ask him about the car. “Perhaps you’d like to take a spin with me,” I whispered in my impromptu companion’s ear. She nodded eagerly; it didn’t appear that she spoke English. I caught Roy’s eye; he was clearly prepared to wingman for me. This was a man who had bluffed his way out of a hundred dicey situations. It occurred to me that the key to his rather impressive loft was probably also on the trike’s keychain. I could absolutely rely on Roy to keep this fellow occupied for hours while I alternately serenaded and violated his significant other. How could I not do it? In a moment, I attained what the Buddhists call satori. I understood why Fate had decreed that I would never be handsome, successful, or lucky: I’m simply not prepared to handle any of those things with grace. I released the lady’s waist with a final and thoroughly inappropriate caress and slumped back into the Morgan, helmet askew, prepared for the next destination.

Perhaps thirty people crowded around us as Alex hopped in and I selected first gear. I’ve seen other trikes decorated with the Flying Tigers gaping-maw graphic; I’d be tempted to select that for mine. It makes sense. In the city, the Morgan makes fighter pilots out of ordinary men and adventure out of a trip to dinner. It’s best left to people whose sense of self is just as larger than life. It was a relief to exchange it for my Caravan and once again become an observer of, rather than a participant in, the city’s nightlife. Still, I can’t say that I haven’t looked at the Morgan website since then. Celebrity’s a hell of a drug, isn’t it?

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