The Truth About Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 02 Aug 2015 16:00:32 +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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Campbell Points Fingers At Kett, Manley, Marchionne in Defense http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/campbell-points-fingers-at-kett-manley-marchionne-in-defense/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/campbell-points-fingers-at-kett-manley-marchionne-in-defense/#comments Sun, 02 Aug 2015 16:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1131633 The court case against former FCA Australia executive Clyde Campbell is turning into a venerable who’s-who of decision makers at the company, reports The Age. Campbell, who is charged with misappropriation of $30 million AUD of company funds, claims he had verbal permission from recently departed FCA executive John Kett, current company hotshot Mike Manley, […]

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The court case against former FCA Australia executive Clyde Campbell is turning into a venerable who’s-who of decision makers at the company, reports The Age.

Campbell, who is charged with misappropriation of $30 million AUD of company funds, claims he had verbal permission from recently departed FCA executive John Kett, current company hotshot Mike Manley, and head of FCA Sergio Marchionne.

Campbell’s statement of defense comprises of many claims about instructions received by him from executives further up the chain of command.

One item of contention has to do with dealerships owned by formerly disgraced Mercedes executive Ernst Lieb and business partner David Piva. Campbell authorized payments from FCA to the pair to buy dealerships in Australia in order to increase FCA sales in Australia to 20,000 units per year by any means necessary.

From The Age:

Mr Campbell claims he authorised that expenditure on the instructions of Mr Manley, who “implied by a direction to increase FCA’s dealerships to 100 by June 2012″ that such deals were needed.

According to Mr Campbell, at a management meeting in Shanghai in 2012, Mr Manley told him FCA needed to match the sales volume of Kia and Volkswagen in Australia.

Mr Campbell claims he replied that Kia and Volkswagen had more dealerships and FCA was trying to expand its dealership network. 

According to the court documents, Mr Manley replied with words to the effect: “I’m sick of this excuse. Get 100 dealerships by June next year or you’re out of a job. I don’t care how you do it, I don’t care how much it costs, just get it done. All your marketing is being wasted if you do not have a dealer network to deliver on it”.

Campbell also claims he received “implicit instructions” from Sergio Marchionne and former executive John Kett.

It should be mentioned many of the claims made by Campbell lack supporting evidence.

Other deals as part of the case include the purchase of a plane painted in Alfa Romeo livery (pictured) and a $400,000 Chris Craft yacht.

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Porsche Boxster, Cayman Four-Pot Turbo Details Released http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/porsche-boxster-cayman-four-pot-turbo-details-released/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/porsche-boxster-cayman-four-pot-turbo-details-released/#comments Sun, 02 Aug 2015 15:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1131617 According to CAR (via AutoGuide), the next round of Porsche Boxsters and Caymans will have turbocharged, four-cylinder powerplants ranging from 240 to 370 bhp. Porsche could also position a base model Cayman below the Boxster depending on region. The British outlet says the Cayman and Boxster will become four-cylinder-only affairs, except for top-end specials such […]

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2014-Porsche-Cayman-S. Photo courtesy Porsche.

According to CAR (via AutoGuide), the next round of Porsche Boxsters and Caymans will have turbocharged, four-cylinder powerplants ranging from 240 to 370 bhp. Porsche could also position a base model Cayman below the Boxster depending on region.

The British outlet says the Cayman and Boxster will become four-cylinder-only affairs, except for top-end specials such as the GT4.

The new engines will make do with a single fixed-vane turbocharger and measure in from 2 to 2.5 liters in displacement. The base model Boxster and Cayman will produce 240 bhp from its 2-liter turbo. S models will get a 60 bhp bump to 300 bhp from ita 2.5-liter four. GTS models crank up the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine another 70 bhp to 370 bhp.

The 370 bhp, 2.5-liter engine in the GTS will be the most powerful four cylinder money can buy, though not necessarily the most power dense (Mercedes will still wear that crown).

CAR says a base model Cayman could also be priced below the Boxster in order to “increase awareness and boost sales”.

We will likely see the next-generation Boxster and Cayman at 2015 IAA Frankfurt for release in early 2016.

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Spyker Emerges from Bankruptcy Charged with Enthusiasm http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/spyker-emerges-from-bankruptcy-charged-with-enthusiasm/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/spyker-emerges-from-bankruptcy-charged-with-enthusiasm/#comments Sat, 01 Aug 2015 18:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1131465 Spyker — the former Saab owner, F1 contender, and builder of aircraft-inspired supercars — has emerged from moratorium and plans to merge with Portland, Oregon electric aircraft manufacturer Volta Volare, said the company in a release on Thursday. As part of Spyker’s future plans, electrification seems to be the common theme, whether it be for […]

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Spyker C12 Zagato (courtesy zcars.com.au)

Spyker — the former Saab owner, F1 contender, and builder of aircraft-inspired supercars — has emerged from moratorium and plans to merge with Portland, Oregon electric aircraft manufacturer Volta Volare, said the company in a release on Thursday.

As part of Spyker’s future plans, electrification seems to be the common theme, whether it be for airplanes or automobiles. Now silver-tongued Skyper CEO, Victor Muller, only needs to find an electric train company to complete the set for a modern movie remake.

In a statement posted on the Spyker website, Muller stated:

After winning a long legal battle with just one creditor, we have now finally succeeded in exiting moratorium and we are back in business as a healthy, debt free enterprise. In the coming weeks we will finalize the agreements with investors which were held up for over two month by the protracted litigation. But true to our logo “nulla tenaci invia est via” (for the tenacious no road is impassable) we have persevered and we can now move on and pursue our ambitious goals including the merger with Portland, Oregon based electric aircraft manufacturer Volta Volare.

In summary, Spyker is back with a vengeance and we look forward to a bright future for the company I founded 15 years ago and which is now set to build sensationally elegant and classy (electric) motorcars and electric planes for decades to come.

Spyker’s new partner, Volta Volare, has one aircraft — the GT4 — that was announced in 2012 with test flights to start that spring. However, we have been unable to verify if any test flights ever took place.

While the news seems rosy at first, I doubt this is the last we will hear of Spyker’s woes.

 

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TrueCar Involved In “Deceptive Business Practices” Says Lawsuit http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/truecar-involved-in-deceptive-business-practices-says-lawsuit/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/truecar-involved-in-deceptive-business-practices-says-lawsuit/#comments Sat, 01 Aug 2015 17:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1131417 A lawsuit brought forward by a group of 100 auto dealerships are alleging car-buying service TrueCar of “deceptive business practices”, reports Automotive News. The lawsuit claims TrueCar’s advertising, which proclaims transparency in vehicle transaction prices for customers, does not disclose the $299 and $399 dollar fees that are paid by dealers for new and used car […]

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truecarprice

A lawsuit brought forward by a group of 100 auto dealerships are alleging car-buying service TrueCar of “deceptive business practices”, reports Automotive News.

The lawsuit claims TrueCar’s advertising, which proclaims transparency in vehicle transaction prices for customers, does not disclose the $299 and $399 dollar fees that are paid by dealers for new and used car sales brokered by TrueCar.

The meaning of “transparency” for TrueCar has been brought to question at TTAC before, as has TrueCar’s use of personal data collected on buyers by participating dealers who must provide said data to TrueCar as a condition of receiving high-quality leads. This data access was reported to be the main reason for a split between TrueCar and dealer group AutoNation.

The group of dealers who’ve launched this latest lawsuit say failure to disclose the fees violates California law as those fees are typically bundled into the final transaction price of the vehicle and passed on to the customer.

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Automotive News Late, Wrong On Cadillac XTS De-Livery News http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/automotive-news-late-wrong-on-cadillac-xts-news-de-livery/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/automotive-news-late-wrong-on-cadillac-xts-news-de-livery/#comments Sat, 01 Aug 2015 16:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1131385 Automotive News reported earlier this month the death of the Cadillac XTS — expected to happen when the new, range-topping CT6 arrived at dealers — has been stayed until 2018 or 2019 thanks to the livery market and sales in China, sourcing “three people familiar with General Motors’ plans.” Sorry, Mike Colias, but you are about 3-and-a-half […]

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2015 Cadillac XTS Vsport front

Automotive News reported earlier this month the death of the Cadillac XTS — expected to happen when the new, range-topping CT6 arrived at dealers — has been stayed until 2018 or 2019 thanks to the livery market and sales in China, sourcing “three people familiar with General Motors’ plans.”

Sorry, Mike Colias, but you are about 3-and-a-half months too late and have the narrative all wrong.

The CT6 is the first model in Cadillac’s lineup to sport the brand’s new nomenclature and will also trigger similar changes to other models; the next Cadillac to be renamed will be the Cadillac SRX when the XT5 is introduced later this year.

At the media preview of the CT6, a model widely rumored to be the death knell for the front-wheel drive XTS, I was able to ask Cadillac head honcho Johan de Nysschen exactly what the new CT6 meant for the similarly sized, large, front-wheel-drive sedan.

“Ultimately, a car like XTS when it reaches the end of its lifecycle, will not be replaced,” de Nysschen said of the XTS at the CT6 preview event.

Speaking of the livery market specifically, de Nysschen continued, “We will not have a car that will lend itself to these kind of modifications and we will probably withdrawal from those markets.”

This narrative makes the most sense as Cadillac looks to position itself as a more premium offering against the likes of BMW and Audi. Offering up a model from the Cadillac range for stretch limousine and funeral service would only contribute to prolonging the brand’s image of building vehicles for the Florida snowbird set.

While Automotive News is reporting Cadillac will “XTend” life of its XTS into 2018 or 2019, the fact of the matter is 2019 is the planned end-of-life for the large sedan anyway — and when it dies, Cadillac’s livery business will likely die along with it.

Automotive News does highlight one worry, however, and that’s where the Cadillac XTS will be built after 2016. Currently, the large sedan is built in Oshawa, Ontario, and we all know how secure that facility’s future is these days.

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Don’t Buy a 2015 Buick Regal http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/dont-buy-a-2015-buick-regal/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/dont-buy-a-2015-buick-regal/#comments Sat, 01 Aug 2015 15:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1131353 If you are looking for a new midsize car to add to your driveway and the Buick Regal is on your shortlist, you might want to wait a few months. According to a dealer communique sent out by Buick head Duncan Aldred, the Regal will receive a massive price cut for 2016. Even the top-trim […]

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2015BuickRegalGS-6

If you are looking for a new midsize car to add to your driveway and the Buick Regal is on your shortlist, you might want to wait a few months.

According to a dealer communique sent out by Buick head Duncan Aldred, the Regal will receive a massive price cut for 2016. Even the top-trim Regal GS will have its price slashed to make it more competitive as an older offering in a crowded segment.

The letter, sent yesterday, outlines the changes to the Regal as it struggles toward the end of its lifecycle.

The Regal is being simplified and attractively priced to appeal to a broader share of midsize intenders. The 2016 Regal will be available in four trims, with the popular 1SL, 1SP and 1SX all priced dramatically lower than the 2015 trims — with no change in content. Ultimately, we’re giving our customers greater value without sacrificing the features they want.

You’ll find more details in the attached 2016MY Buick Regal Product and Pricing Guide, but a few highlights of the new pricing structure include:

  • Starting price for 2016 Regal GS is $34,990; more than $3,300 lower than the 2015 model
  • 2016 Regal 1SP is priced below the 2015 Regal 1SN (which has been eliminated)
  • 2016 Regal 1SL is now priced below the Nissan Altima SL — yet offers more standard horsepower (+75 hp), more torque (+100 lb-ft) and standard 18-inch wheels

Regal trims will be realigned, eliminating the “Premium I” (1SN) trim and decreasing the “Premium II” (1SP) trim’s price below that of 1SN. GM states there will be no change in equipment. Base price for the Regal will remain unchanged at $27,065 before destination. The biggest cut is to the GS FWD model at $3,320, bringing its price down to $34,065.

In the midsize sedan segment, the Regal only bests the Volkswagen CC and defunct Dodge Avenger in terms of year-to-date sales, having dropped 23.7 percent. June saw sales drop 12.3 percent versus the same month last year.

So, don’t buy a 2015 Buick Regal — unless it’s the base model or a lightly used example traded in by its original owner after less than a year on the road.

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Who Wants To Forge Their Car’s History? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/wants-forge-cars-history/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/wants-forge-cars-history/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 21:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1130625 Hat tip to reader Alexander who sent us a link to a comprehensive 1991 BMW 325ic’s service history offered up on eBay because someone just probably wants them for the “novelty.” The items reportedly include purchase paperwork and dealer maintenance records for an Alpine White, automatic convertible built around April 1991. Paperwork from Hawaii, Washington and California is […]

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Phony service history

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Either way, it’s very definitely slimy.

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

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Tesla Model S Center Stage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2013 Toyota RAV4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Volvo V40 R-Design - model year 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Lexus RC 200t

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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034-505-2016-animation

(animation courtesy: store.034motorsport.com)

Evan writes:

Hi Sajeev!

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

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

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

Thanks for the insight!

Sajeev answers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2015 Buick Regal GS AWD – Get A Grip, Man http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-buick-regal-gs-get-grip-man/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-buick-regal-gs-get-grip-man/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 14:07:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1129617 It’s not often you get to see the future when you look at a car. Admittedly, the 2015 Buick Regal GS AWD looks nothing like a crystal ball — it’s a deep shade of white that I never knew existed and its 20-inch wheels wrapped with summer rubber are … challenging. But I can see […]

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2015BuickRegalGS-3

It’s not often you get to see the future when you look at a car.

Admittedly, the 2015 Buick Regal GS AWD looks nothing like a crystal ball — it’s a deep shade of white that I never knew existed and its 20-inch wheels wrapped with summer rubber are … challenging.

But I can see the future of Buick in this car.


The Tester

2015 Buick Regal GS AWD

Engine: 2-liter, turbocharged I-4 (259 horsepower @ 5,300 rpm; 295 lbs-ft @ 2,500-4,000 rpm)
Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Fuel Economy (Rating, mpg): 19 city/27 highway/22 combined
Fuel Economy (Observed, mpg): 24 mpg combined; 60/40 highway/city

Options: Driver Confidence Package #2 (Adaptive cruise control, Automatic collision preparation) $1,195; Driver Confidence Package #1 (Following distance sensor indicator, Forward collision alert, Rear cross traffic alert, Lane departure warning, Driver and passenger seat memory settings, Side blind zone alert) $1,040; Power moonroof $1,000 (!); White diamond tricoat $995; 20-inch aluminum wheels w/ summer tires $700; Cargo area tray $140; Floor mats $140; Cargo mat $80.

As tested: $46,025


Allow me to practice my Google-certified armchair psychology for just a moment.

Are you a middle child? Do you find yourself grasping for an identity, sandwiched between two personalities so large that Siegfried and Roy would blush?

Buick would like to talk to you. Their latest effort, the 2015 Regal GS, screams middle child worse than black fingernails or repeated trips to the principal’s office. If you’re a parent (I’m not), or ever been to the principal’s office more than once in a day (I have), then you’ll understand.

The normal Regal — built on the same Epsilon II platform as the Chevrolet Malibu — is a geezer’s paradise of creamy leather, creamy ride and plenty of storage space for Werther’s Original candies. To say that the Regal has no character is wholly inaccurate. The Regal has spirit like “Dean Martin’s Celebrity Roasts” used to: tightly packed in an easily digestible delivery so smooth you could eat dinner and never miss a beat. For that reason, the Buick Regal may be the Salisbury steak TV dinner of the automotive world.

But the Regal GS is a little different.

Back to middle child syndrome, our tester was priced at more than $46,000 all told, and that’s a lot for not-quite-a-Cadillac. If you look far enough into the future, you can see Chevrolet and Cadillac growing far enough apart that Buick — a brand on the ropes not too long ago — will have a future in the United States. The Regal’s stately presence is a perfect middle between Chevrolet’s no-frills Malibu and Cadillac’s upcoming CT6.

But the Regal GS sticks out like black nail polish on a middle schooler. It’s fine for a while, but you just hope it’s something they’ll eventually grow out of.

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Exterior
The Regal GS sports a little more ‘tude than the Regal and I’m all for that. The neatly packaged exterior is handsome (but not aggressive) and curvy (but not bulbous). The GS separates itself from the Regal with a unique front fascia and rear bumper that integrates the dual exhaust tips. Our tester, clad in white, showed its curves very well despite being white, the color that encompasses — though somehow lacks — all colors.

The Regal GS’s heritage as an Opel is evident. The Insignia-based looks are clean and sharp, and belie the idea that at its heart, the Regal is just a retooled Malibu. Admittedly, I loosely remembered that the Regal was related to the Malibu, but had to double-check my facts when the car first arrived. That’s a good thing.

The Regal GS’s waterfall grille and logo looked a little big to me and felt like overcompensation for a car that wants to very badly be American sports sedan a la ATS-V. It’s not. It has too much Opel. And its all the better for it.

There are some curiosities on the outside. The faux hood vents are a little low-rent, and the underline body crease that extends from the rear wheel forward like a hockey stick is entirely too dramatic.

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Interior
Any conversation about the Regal GS should begin and end with its seats. The deep buckets are soft and comfortable, with pockets for my rump that held me in place when I threw the car around. There are accented trims and stitching to break up the pallid gray world of most mid-sized sedans, and I love that.

But on the rest of the interior, the GS reads like the back of a bottle of mouthwash. Aside from two buttons near the top of the infotainment screen, which read plainly “GS” and “Sport”, you’d be hard pressed to realize you’re in the performance variant of anything. Even the digital instrument readout in front of the driver doesn’t have much special going on. Its customizable performance pages are limited to lateral grip, transmission temperature and oil pressure. That’s not performance so much as it is perfunctory.

In back, the Regal sports rear legroom that’s better than the competition and a copious amount of trunk space for a sports sedan. The Regal GS’s 107.8-inch wheelbase is fully one inch shorter than the BMW 3-Series, but by my measure, Buick takes advantage of its space better, which I can appreciate.

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Infotainment
Fitted with Buick’s IntelliLink system, which is a variant of Chevrolet’s MyLink and Cadillac’s HotLink (I may have made that up), the car’s entertainment and information screens are easily laid out and logisticalistical (I may have made that up too). Among its competitors, the system General Motors uses is among the best and least fussy. The standard measure for how I know such things: I’m confident my father could have figured this thing out in 5 minutes cold. That’s a good sign.

Our tester’s stereo, a Bose-branded, 9-speaker affair, was fantastically clear and rich. I know there’s a habit of dumping on premium sound systems — especially those named Bose — but I wouldn’t imagine anything other than this setup in a Regal GS. Good thing it comes standard.

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Drivetrain
The Regal GS is powered by a turbocharged, 259-horsepower, 2-liter four cylinder and it’s a little bit of question mark. For starters, you should consider that it adds a whopping $14,000 to the bottom line, bumping the price up to $40,075 for the GS model.

I get that the GS is a throwback to Buick’s semi-lucid performance days. Their Grand National coupe was a 1980s legend. That black body could command attention and pink slips at any dragstrip — especially if someone were dumb enough to call it “granddad” while sitting in their Corvette. Recent examples of the Grand National have sold at auction for more than $165,000. Yeah, they’re that awesome.

I’m not as confident that the Regal GS will command the same price at auction in 20 years, but its mechanicals are interesting. The aforementioned 2-liter, turbo four is married monogamously to a six-speed automatic transmission if you opt for all-wheel drive, or a six-speed manual if you choose front-wheel drive. The GS also adds four-wheel independent suspension; MacPhersons up front and four-link in the back with adaptive damping all the way around. Shod with 19-inch shoes — or 20-inch wheels in the case of our tester — the Regal GS will sprint up to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, according to the manufacturer.

Are you not impressed? You should be. Taken alone, the Regal GS reads on paper like an Audi. For serious. No really, it does.

Fire the Regal GS up and let’s chat.

First, you’ll notice that despite having more power under the hood, the Regal GS is just as quiet as its wafty brother.

Second, the turbo four didn’t sound to my ears like it was enhanced at all. I respect that. Its engine doesn’t sound particularly awesome, but hats off to Buick for playing the cards they were dealt.

Third, despite being a sports sedan for Buick and having an automatic transmission, the Regal GS doesn’t have steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. I know, I know, paddle shifters scream “sport” like compression leggings on a 50-year-old — but they’re just par for the course these days. Go fig.

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Drive
Once you get past that, the GS is a hoot to drive. Its 259 horsepower doesn’t do much for its 3,500-pound mass, but the 295 lb.-ft. of twist races up to highway speed with grins along the way. Of all the features the GS does well (interior comfort, exterior looks, and Werther’s Original cubbies) it handles better than your father’s handshake. Our GS AWD shifted its mass and wriggled its way around corners like a competent European sedan. That could have come down to its summer tires wrapped around 20-inch polished wheels — which I’m not sure how many people would actually order in an AWD car — but goodness can the GS grip.

But in my tester, I noticed that by tapping on the Sport or GS buttons very little of the car’s inputs change. According to Buick, GS is a more aggressive setting than Sport, which is a more aggressive setting than normal driving conditions. Aside from its steering firming up a little, I was hard pressed to tell the difference between any of the GS’s three drive modes.

In all, the GS is the best kind of Regal that money can buy, but its $46,000 price tag is a lot of money for this kind of Buick.

And it’s hard to imagine that this kind of Buick has much of a future with Cadillac around.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let me correct that last sentence:

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

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

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

Let me edit that sentence for truth:

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

Let me offer a sentence of similar veracity for you:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2004 Chrysler Crossfire Rear Retractable Spoiler

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

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

But what about the stupidest feature?

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

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

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

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

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

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

2010 Porsche Panamera Turbo Adaptive Motion Rear Spoiler

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

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

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

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

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2015 Nissan Micra S Review – Lively Lilliputian http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-nissan-micra-s-review-lively-lilliputian/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-nissan-micra-s-review-lively-lilliputian/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 22:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1127761 Staring at a Monroney sticker with a four-digit MSRP would only excite you if spending a weekend clipping Sam’s Club coupons while sipping Faygo is a “fun night in.” With a base price of $9,998 in the Great White North, the Nissan Micra is the definition of Quebec Special: an entry-level car in the lowest of […]

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2015 Nissan Micra S (2 of 10)

Staring at a Monroney sticker with a four-digit MSRP would only excite you if spending a weekend clipping Sam’s Club coupons while sipping Faygo is a “fun night in.”

With a base price of $9,998 in the Great White North, the Nissan Micra is the definition of Quebec Special: an entry-level car in the lowest of trims and absolutely zero options. Wind-up windows. Manual locks. An actual, honest-to-goodness metal key. All it needs is a cassette deck and a bench seat to take you back to a time when parachute pants were cool and Wesley Snipes was paying taxes.

Yet, this diminutive, red hatchback is much more than its price and lack of options suggest. While my predecessor likened the Micra to the EK Civic, I’m going to take it one step further: The Nissan Micra is a four-door Mazda Miata.

 


The Tester

2015 Nissan Micra S [Canada]

Engine: 1.6-liter DOHC I-4, CVVT (109 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm, 107 lbs-ft @ 4,400 rpm)

Transmission: 5-speed manual

Fuel Economy (Rating, MPG): 27 city/36 highway/31 combined
Fuel Economy (Observed, MPG): 32 mpg, 50/50 city and highway, 50/50 eco-driver and small-car, fast-lane lunatic

Options: What you see is what you get, folks.

As Tested: $11,565 (sheet), approx. $8,950 USD.


“Miata with four doors? Have you completely lost the plot?” Maybe, but …

All the important ingredients from the Miata are woven into the Micra’s DNA as well: light weight, just enough power to spin the little front rubber donuts, and the suspension — well, let’s just call it peculiar for now as it needs an explanation all its own.

The bottom line: The Micra provided the most engaging and fun driving experience I’ve had in at least 12 months, and that includes all the 400+ horsepower cars that have graced my driveway over the same timeframe.

2015 Nissan Micra S (1 of 10)

Exterior
Before we get into why the Micra is a four-door Miata, we should talk about its looks for a moment, because this is really the only area where Nissan’s sub-compact could use some effort the next time around.

As much as some writers believe we shouldn’t genderize car design — especially when critiquing said sheet metal — the reality is automakers pen vehicles to appeal to certain demographics: young women, older men and any combination thereof. Certain genders will be drawn to particular design cues more than others.

When I attended the launch of the Micra last year, Nissan representatives were surprisingly upfront about the car being styled to primarily capture the attention and interest of female buyers — and it shows. The Micra is a women’s car whether you want to bury your head in the sand about it or not.

However, the cheap-and-cheerful demeanor of the Micra isn’t so dissentious that male buyers should disregard this wonder of economical automotive manufacturing. In a color other than our tester’s Red Alert, the Micra is a bit more palatable.

With that out of the way, the V-Motion grille is a bit of an architectural afterthought, like an addition to a family home gone awry. Fortunately, this forced design lineage only affects the Micra in the Canadian market. In other regions — where this runabout is named March — a single chrome bar floats within the grille’s crevasse. Headlights are the same globally, finding their place far up the hood much like the Chevrolet Spark and even the Nissan Juke, though their placement much less visually pronounced on the Micra.

A side view of the car brings back memories of the old New Beetle and its perfectly arched roofline thanks to the Micra’s semi-circular window frames. Unpainted door handles and mirror caps are noticeable but not in the same way as black plastic bumpers grabbed your attention on base model Chevrolet Cavaliers. Even though this Micra is the bottom rung on the trim hierarchy, its wheel covers still manage to look higher end than the optional alloys available on the Mirage.

2015 Nissan Micra S (4 of 10)

There’s additional unpainted black plastic at the back, but thankfully it’s limited to just the door handle for the rear hatch. The taillights and bumper seem to have received more stylistic attention than one would expect for a car costing significantly less than its competitors. To top it off, the rear window also provides ample vision from inside the car — and you’ll need it, as there’s no back up camera on this Japanese go-kart. But, you do get a rear spoiler, so at least there’s that.

2015 Nissan Micra S (7 of 10)

Interior
Complaining about the Micra’s interior materials is like going on a tirade at H&M about the quality of their $4.99 fashion-of-the-week, button-up shirts. A car that’s near-as-makes-no-difference $10,000 is going to be incredibly cheap. You don’t buy this type of car for its soft-touch dash and rubberized temperature control knobs. You buy it because it’s usable and serviceable. The plastic knobs are almost translucent in their cheapness, but they work and that’s all they’re meant to do. You should feel lucky the Micra even has a tachometer in this trim.

The only complaint I have — a trivial personal preference more than anything else — has to do with the gas gauge. You are given a digital gas gauge in the Micra — and I hate it. Please, Nissan, just give me a nice little dial so I can more accurately estimate the amount of fuel in the tank.

Other than that, the seats are incredibly simple along with the rest of the interior and not something you’d want to sit in for long jaunts on the highway, but this car isn’t built for long highway jaunts anyway.

2015 Nissan Micra S (9 of 10)Infotainment
I used to have a manual, Vulcan-powered Ford Ranger with a manual transmission. Like the Micra, it didn’t have air conditioning and just a simple radio provided your anthem for the road. When I bought my Ranger, the total came out to nearly $14,000 in used condition. It also featured two speakers — one in each door. The Micra has double the number of speakers and is cheaper in new condition. Folks, by all accounts, that’s a bargain!

In all seriousness, the Micra does come with a CD player and auxiliary input as standard. If you are keen on tuning into some daytime sports talk radio on the AM dial, you can do that, too.

You aren’t locked into the ’90s radio option, however, but you’ll need to spring for the Krom or SR-trimmed Micras to get USB input, Bluetooth and display audio as standard and those models are significantly more expensive than our base model tester.

As you can imagine, audio quality with the simple four-speaker stereo is on par with listening to a alleyway catfight on a string can telephone — tinny, full of treble and all the vocals sound like they’re being performed by Richard Simmons with a throat infection.

The 2015 Nissan Micra will mark a new era of unbeatable value for Canadians when it arrives this spring. Combining Japanese quality with European styling and heritage, Micra will provide Canadians with more fun, more attention to detail and more value than they've ever expected in a small car.

Drivetrain
Under the Nissan Micra’s short hood sits the same 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine found in the Versa Sedan and Versa Note producing 109 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 107 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm. These numbers might seem downright dismal in comparison to other slightly more expensive offerings; in the Versa Note equipped with the CVT, this engine is slow, loud and almost as annoying as Social Justice Warrior Comedy Hour. When sent through the standard five-speed manual transmission, the little four pot sings along just like the eager hatchbacks of 15 or 20 years ago. The 1.6 loves to rev, but still has a grunty note that permeates the cabin. Meanwhile, it’s probably the most responsive motor in the sub-compact class with a manual that I’ve driven in recent memory. Even if you opt for the automatic transmission, you will still be welcomed by four real gears instead of the near-ubiquitous Nissan CVT.

However, the Micra isn’t incredibly efficient. Fifth gear in the manual box is too short for highway usage and bumps up fuel consumption a tad. Again, this car is built to be a cheap city grocery-getter and not a cross-country cruiser.

The manual gearbox itself is a tad loose, but it’s fairly forgiving, making missed shifts a rare occurrance. I could also say the clutch needs to provide some more feedback, but then I’m really going down the road of nitpicking. The manual in the Fiesta is better.

2015 Nissan Micra S (3 of 10)

Drive
Even with all the text above extolling the Micra’s cheap car virtues, driving it on a windy road is what makes it a real winner. The five-door Datsun absolutely loves corners — but not in the way you’d expect.

The Mazda MX-5 Miata is highly regarded as being the most-fun driver’s car per dollar. That’s not because the Miata puts up huge horsepower numbers or corners completely flat or does record-setting laps around the Nurburgring. Instead, it’s because the Miata communicates with the driver and doesn’t desensitize the driving experience. If the body rolls a little bit, you’re going to feel it. When braking, the Miata’s brake pedal will communicate to the driver the exact point before ABS kicks in.

The Micra does the same thing.

No, it isn’t going to attack a corner as fast as a Miata, but it feels just as fast. If the brain is tricked into thinking it’s going fast — even if the car is only doing a bit over the speed limit — isn’t that all that matters? You don’t need to be a driving hero. You only need to feel the sensation of being a driving hero.

While we all know this feeling is very hard to quantify, let alone market to the buying public, this is the Micra’s greatest party trick. It’s the slow car you want to drive fast — or at least think you’re driving fast. And it isn’t by accident that the Micra drives the way it does, especially in Canada.

Compared to overseas units, the Micra in Canada has different sway bars — front and rear — and steering tuned specifically for North American roads. This makes the Micra more chuckable, more communicative, and — as a result — a helluva lot more fun.

Unfortunately, those of you in the U.S. won’t be able to enjoy the magic of this micro machine — at least not yet. A year ago, there were rumors swirling about the Micra’s future availability in the U.S. They’ve simmered down before coming to fruition.

It’s unfortunate, really, because when the answer is not Miata, it could surely be Micra.

2015 Nissan Micra S (1 of 10) 2015 Nissan Micra S (2 of 10) 2015 Nissan Micra S (3 of 10) 2015 Nissan Micra S (4 of 10) 2015 Nissan Micra S (5 of 10) 2015 Nissan Micra S (6 of 10) 2015 Nissan Micra S (7 of 10) 2015 Nissan Micra S (8 of 10) 2015 Nissan Micra S (9 of 10) 2015 Nissan Micra S (10 of 10)

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

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Chevrolet_Tahoe_Hybrid_O'Malley_--_01-12-2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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tesladeal

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, who wants to be a Tesla dealer today?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Surprisingly, this photo is provided by the manufacturer.

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

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Jeep Wrangler American flag

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2015 Chrysler Town & Country

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Money Isn’t Everything: What an $8,500 Porsche 996 Really Costs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/money-isnt-everything-what-an-8500-porsche-996-really-costs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/money-isnt-everything-what-an-8500-porsche-996-really-costs/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 15:00:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1129177 About two months ago, I purchased my fourth new-to-me car in as many years — and I still had two of the previous three. Of those three, one was purchased for adventure (a 1977 Porsche 911S that I drove cross-country and back nine days after purchasing it), one because of nostalgia (a Honda S2000, I […]

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About two months ago, I purchased my fourth new-to-me car in as many years — and I still had two of the previous three. Of those three, one was purchased for adventure (a 1977 Porsche 911S that I drove cross-country and back nine days after purchasing it), one because of nostalgia (a Honda S2000, I bought one new and missed it), and the third due to reputation (an Acura NSX, I had never even driven one before buying this one online). Those reasons must be the foundation for some sort of automotive cardinal sins list.

However, I bought the fourth one because it represented such a good value. It was a 1999 Porsche 911 Carrera with about 146,000 miles. It hadn’t had the IMS bearing replaced, but I figured that with such high mileage it probably wouldn’t have an issue. Is this foreshadowing? The seller was a friend who had owned it for about two years but had purchased a mid-eighties 911 Targa recently and didn’t want the ’99 as a daily driver any longer.

Painted a pretty medium blue, the 996 was equipped with a beige interior and GT3 wheels. It drove well and — except for mediocre clearcoat and worn leather, a ‘check engine’ light that appeared intermittently, and a blown speaker — it was a solid performer. I certainly didn’t need the Porsche (nor did I have the space), but at $8,500, how could I go wrong?

Also, I’ve always been of the opinion that anyone who buys a new [insert shitbox automotive appliance here] is an idiot. I read “You Gotta Be Rich to Own a Cheap Car” and agreed with the article.

“Baruth,” I thought to myself, “you nailed it.” But he missed something important, too. I’ll come back to that in a bit.

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My friend and I went for a test drive and then we met up on a Sunday morning for coffee at Deus Ex Machina, in Venice, CA. He signed the title and I signed a check. $8,500 for a Porsche 911. Boom. What’s a Toyota Corolla? I just bought Zuffenhausen’s finest.

On Monday, I called my insurance agent to add the Porsche. “Hmmm. It comes up in my system as a Porsche Boxster.” I frowned. “No, it’s a 911,” I replied.

“Maybe the DMV just has it wrong. But it is a convertible, right?” she asked.

“No, it’s a coupe.”

“Could you go outside and compare the windshield VIN with your title, please?”

Now I was nervous. This was cutting into my valuable automotive journalist cereal-eating time. I walked outside under a bright, blue Los Angeles sky and almost dropped my cereal. The VIN on the title and on the car didn’t match. On closer inspection the title also had the wrong license plate number.

“Let me call you back…”

I called my friend immediately and told him what was going on. He told me that he used to have a 1999 Porsche Boxster that was totaled and that he had probably given the shop that bought it the wrong title.

“Let me call you back…”

After a quick phone call to them, he confirmed this was the case. We met again a few days later to switch titles. The Porsche was now insured, but still not registered.

That was a whole other headache because when my friend gave the shop that bought the wrecked Boxster their half of the title, he mailed his half in that stated that this shop now owned it. Except they didn’t. They owned the 911 because he had mixed them up. Now he’d have to write a letter to the DMV explaining the mix-up. He wrote it promptly and sent it over. In the meantime, I drove the Porsche around enjoying its torquey flat-six, thinking, “Yeah, it’s been a bit aggravating, but it’ll work out. And after all, I got an eighty-five hundred dollar 911!”

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A couple of days later, I went out to run some mundane errand. I jumped in the car, fired it up and lowered the windows. Except the driver-side window didn’t drop smoothly. Then, when attempting to roll it back up, it jammed and stopped — crooked, half-way up. I opened the door and tried guiding it.

“I’ll just use the air conditioning.”

(Don’t forget: This is Los Angeles. We don’t have real seasons.)

Air-con is on, let’s go! Oh. What’s this? A warning light. The check engine light came on again. I was used to that one by now, but now the airbag light was on too.

“At least the car was cheap,” I nervously muttered as I released the clutch.

Following all the registration issues, my threshold for nonsense was much decreased. I had now owned the car over three weeks, but had only driven it about a hundred miles. I called my friend again. It’s at this point that I began to suspect that he had realized that he’d sold me the car for far less than he could get from some joker in Cleveland. He offered to buy the car back for what I had paid.

I told him that I’d like to have it checked out, see what the airbag issue was, and that I’d let him know how I wanted to proceed. He graciously offered to pay for the repairs as he didn’t want me to be pissed. I took it to the shop and they called back the following morning.

“There’s an issue with the airbag wiring harness and also, ummm, the car needs a new window regulator.”

“OK… how much will that cost?”

“Well, we also put it on the rack and there are a few other issues… the clutch will need to be replaced within the next 5000 miles and the water pump is leaking pretty badly. Also, the tie-rods are damaged and there are a few cosmetic issues inside the cabin. Oh and…”

“Let me call you back…”

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My friend and I met up the following Sunday. I handed him the title and he signed a check. In total, I “owned” the 911 for twenty-six days. The IMS bearing didn’t fail during my ownership stint. There were no hard feelings on either side. He’s happy that he can make more money off of it and I’m happy to be rid of the registration issues and mechanical faults.

Which brings me to what Baruth missed. Being rich or privileged isn’t enough to own a cheap car. All those trust-fund enthusiasts — who can’t believe the masses drive around in $10-15K Camrys, Civics, and Altimas — would do well to realize how fortunate they themselves are. Not simply because they can purchase “cheap” performance cars and feel superior to the poor Versa-driving shmucks (“Man, you don’t know what you’re missing! Just get a cheap sports car…”); but because more than the pure financial cost is the amount of time you have to be able to waste attending to issues that invariably pop up.

How much time did I squander between trying to register the Porsche, buying and selling it back, and taking it to the shop? Please don’t tell me. I’m fine spending some money on cars because you can always earn more, sell something, etc… But my time? That is a limited, decreasing asset and, as a car guy, I’d rather spend mine driving.

POSTSCRIPT: You may have noticed that the accompanying photos are not of a medium blue Porsche 996. No, they’re of a GT Silver 40th anniversary 996. That’s because my friend worried that this article might affect his ability to sell the car and hence didn’t allow me to photograph his car (and I didn’t shoot it while I still owned it). But I didn’t want the story to run with one crappy instagram shot so I turned to the forums where a good Samaritan stepped in.

You’ve got to have eye candy, right?

Yoav Gilad is the Principal and Co-Founder of Screen Cartel, a content and production agency. He also has a personal automotive site dedicated to bringing the thrill and romance of cars and travel to the enthusiast, KeepItWideOpen, which has at least two fans: his mom and his wife. His dad doesn’t care for it. He is a car designer by training and was Petrolicious’s managing editor before branching out on his own.

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