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. Mon, 06 Jul 2015 15:17:10 +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 QOTD: Is Motorsport Still Relevant? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/qotd-motorsport-still-relevant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/qotd-motorsport-still-relevant/#comments Mon, 06 Jul 2015 15:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1108129 I am completely at a loss to think of another sport that tests man and machine as much as motorsport. Maybe bobsledding? Nah, scratch that. Automakers have a history of testing their latest and greatest at road courses, ovals and street circuits all over the world. Some of the best technological innovations have come directly from […]

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SONOMA, CA - JUNE 28:  Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M's Crispy Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 28, 2015 in Sonoma, California.  (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)

I am completely at a loss to think of another sport that tests man and machine as much as motorsport. Maybe bobsledding? Nah, scratch that.

Automakers have a history of testing their latest and greatest at road courses, ovals and street circuits all over the world. Some of the best technological innovations have come directly from racing. But, is that still the case? Is racing still the test bed it used to be for what we see on our cars a decade from now? And does it still help automakers capture the hearts and minds of the car-buying public?

Formula 1, the multi-billion dollar single-seater racing series controlled by a British troll, has gone down the rabbit hole of high technology and, to a degree, fuel economy. The new breed of Formula 1 “power units” — as they are now called — are a combination of turbocharged V6 engines and electric drivetrain systems. The days of a relatively simple V10 are over, as is the noise and overall spectacle of a Formula 1 car.

Today’s production cars are certainly becoming more tech laden. However, whether the technology is directly derived from racing is another point entirely. I can’t remember the last time I saw an ad for a piece of technology taken from an automaker’s F1 efforts and applied to a vehicle on the showroom floor.

That’s not to say racing is irrelevant because the technology cannot be directly transferred. Instead, Formula 1 has turned into a marketing exercise disguised as a high-brow sport. Infiniti, and possibly Aston Martin in the future, has sponsored Red Bull Racing for a few years now, but the team has never once used an engine built — or even branded — by Infiniti. Yet, the Cars of the Bulls that are Red still wear multiple Infiniti logos all over their bodywork.

NASCAR is a completely different can of beer, but the outcome is very much the same. Chevrolet, Ford, and Toyota are the only three automakers contesting America’s motorsport of choice after Dodge decided the investment was no longer returning the needed rewards. After all, today’s NASCAR cars are no longer even loosely connected to what you can buy at your local dealer — though a push-rod V8 Camry would be a tempting proposition. The disconnection is compounded when you realize many engines in NASCAR are built by engine builders and not the automakers themselves.

The motorsport that turns left is another marketing exercise — though not as polished in its fan base or technology as Formula 1 — that exists simply to show you what candy you should by, where your should enlist for service, and multiple options for achieving *ahem* stature.

Even IndyCar, with its less ambitious technological aims, is only supplied by two automakers — Chevrolet and Honda — with nary a piece of tech making it to either of their showrooms.

What about club racing? Certain members of TTAC’s roster believe all car reviewers should be track aficionados, possessing the ability to push a Nissan Pathfinder to its physical limits in an effort to deliver the best value to readers. Many of these reviewers are club racers of one flavor or another, whether it be entry-level Spec Miata or top-flight competition at the SCCA Runoffs, but it is difficult to justify club racing as relevant to the general car-buying public. I’ve never once heard “I am extremely interested in XYZ model … but where did it place in the Runoffs this year?” The commercial viability of marketing in such a space is quite small as well as there is virtually no media coverage of club events.

Speaking of media coverage, the three top-level racing series mentioned above have seen their TV viewership dwindle over the years. Formula 1 lost 25 million viewers thanks to a switch to pay TV in Britain and a laundry list of other reasons. NASCAR can’t fill all the seats at their biggest race of the year. And, well, IndyCar is IndyCar. Even as an excuse for dumping large amounts of marketing cash, racing is a case of diminishing relevance.

And just to drive the point home a little bit more: Mazda. They are likely the most recognizable marque at your local road course or autocross and they cross the finish line first more often than any other automaker in America. In terms of sales, Mazda finished 18th last year.

But, that’s just what I think. What about you, Best & Brightest? Is motorsport still relevant in today’s automotive marketplace?

[Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images]

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New Or Used: Wishing For Simpler Times http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/new-used-wishing-simpler-times/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/new-used-wishing-simpler-times/#comments Mon, 06 Jul 2015 14:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1107425 Hi Sajeev & Steve, “You have not covered extensively the problems encountered by GDI engines, especially Mitsubishi Dion (the engine is 4G63). As the revs go beyond the 2000 rpm, the ‘check engine’ light comes on, then eventually the engine — if forced — cuts off. After a few minutes, the engine can start but […]

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Mitsubishi GDi Engine (Dion)

Hi Sajeev & Steve,

“You have not covered extensively the problems encountered by GDI engines, especially Mitsubishi Dion (the engine is 4G63). As the revs go beyond the 2000 rpm, the ‘check engine’ light comes on, then eventually the engine — if forced — cuts off. After a few minutes, the engine can start but it does not take long before it repeats. I was told by a mechanic to buy a new pressure pump. This was fitted but the problem has not gone away. Please help!”

Ummm… we think your mechanic needs to keep away from Runaround Sue.

Cut Portion:

It turns out that a TTAC alum, Andrew Bell, did a fantastic job explaining this issue a few years ago. I’ll offer the Cliff Notes version here.

“In a GDI engine, the gasoline doesn’t touch intake side of the valve. As a result, the droplets have a tendency to bake onto the valve and significantly reduce performance… Even more alarming is that these deposits can dislodge and damage other downstream components (turbochargers, catalytic converters, etc). Manufacturers have added systems to capture these oil droplets and particulates, but no system is 100% effective. As a result, there are many disappointed early adopters with large repair bills.”

Steve Says:

When folks ask me why I am so sour on recommending cars that are on the early curve of advanced powertrain technologies, it’s because I regularly see these types of vehicles traded-in and sent to the auctions at a far greater frequency than their less technologically advanced counterparts.

Whether it’s a vehicle equipped with an early CVT that simply couldn’t handle the load (Ford Freestyle, Nissan Maxima/Rogue/Quest, Dodge Caliber), or a direct injection engine design that has severe teething issues (Mazda CX-7, the VW/Audi FSI engines, BMW with their N54 and N55 engines), I have come to the personal conclusion that automakers are far more apt to sweep these problems under the rug than to tackle them from the early get-go.

To Hyundai’s credit in particular, owners are now using a fuel additive to get rid of excessive carbon that can accumulate in their GDi engines. But there is a dark cloud in that silver lining, and it comes from the feedback of over 750,000 vehicles that have been independently inspected and appraised by certified mechanics and car buying professionals.

Automakers, to no fault of their own, often get sideswiped by long-term issues that couldn’t be anticipated during the research & development phase. As a result, those who stay with the tried and true often have a far better record of long-term reliability than their less conservative counterparts. Or to put this in a more brand specific way, there is a reason why a brand like Mitsubishi is ranked 8th at the moment when it comes to long-term reliability, versus a brand like Hyundai which has gone headlong into to direct injection, and is now ranked 21st overall. As I explained a few months ago on Yahoo:

“Mitsubishi has benefited from long model runs over the past ten years, and much of what they sell is devoid of the unproven electronics and technologies that have hurt other brands. Four-cylinder models are particularly strong in terms of long-term reliability.”

Does this mean a new Accent can’t last over 300,000 miles? Not at all. It does represent the fact that more sophisticated powertrains often have to compensate for unknown variables that can hurt their long-term reliability. In the case of GDi engines, it’s those vehicles that are not driven on a regular basis and have the corn curse that is ethanol lodged into their fuel systems.

This also bears some unusual fruit in the used car market. You may find that a 2011 or older Hyundai Azera offers an exceptional bang for the long-term buck because it didn’t come equipped with the third generation GDi engine. While a low-mileage late model Azera that gets driven infrequently, and has very short trips, may require a bit more engine care.

As many of you know, I absolutely love personal stories about cars that are kept for the long haul. Whether it’s a 30 year old FIAT that miraculously lasts over 500,000 miles, or a first-generation Dodge Neon that also gets to the moon and back, I love seeing cars live up to their potential longevity. But complexity is a real bitch when it comes to cars, and the current CAFE regulations are going to likely promote more rolling long-term dogs in the near future.

So let me ask you: Anyone have unfortunate experiences with what seemed to be the latest and greatest powertrain technologies? Whether your unpleasant experience came from ye olde Cadillac V8-6-4 which had the then tricky cylinder deactivation technology, or a late-model truck or SUV that had a CVT that became DOA within 100k, please feel free to share your experiences below.

Sajeev Answers:

Well then! What else can I add, especially considering relevant info of Piston Slaps past? (Here, here, and here.) Let’s focus on the 4G63. Wait, was that direct injected? Do you mean the 4G93? If so, that was the first production GDI motor and likely lives on the bleeding edge of technology like most cutting-edge products. So what will get you out of your predicament?

Probably a good de-coking of the intake system, ditto the EGR. And maybe some walnut shells blasted into the system if you put a scope into the spark plug hole and notice excessive carbon buildup.

Or maybe its the throttle body.   No matter what, I suspect you need to find another mechanic.

Note: All the links in this article have been sanitized and customized for your own viewing pleasure. Please click on at least a few of them, because it will likely give you a far greater understanding of this topic, and besides, the Long-Term Quality Index can always use a few more clicks and critiques. If you have used car questions, please contact us directly at carselect@gmail.com.

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2016 Scion iA Review With Video – Mono-Priced Zoom-Zoom http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2016-scion-ia-review-video-mono-priced-zoom-zoom/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2016-scion-ia-review-video-mono-priced-zoom-zoom/#comments Mon, 06 Jul 2015 13:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1105937 When is a Scion not a Scion? Since Scion is division of Toyota, this is both a trick question and a serious one. Scions can be anything from tweaked Toyotas and foreign market Toyotas to cars built by other manufacturers for Scion. The first such product was the collaboratively developed Scion FR-S / Subaru BRZ / Toyota 86. […]

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2016 Scion iA Exterior-004

When is a Scion not a Scion? Since Scion is division of Toyota, this is both a trick question and a serious one.

Scions can be anything from tweaked Toyotas and foreign market Toyotas to cars built by other manufacturers for Scion. The first such product was the collaboratively developed Scion FR-S / Subaru BRZ / Toyota 86. The second is this Mazda-designed and Mazda-built Scion iA.

Exterior
Mazda and Toyota entered into a partnership of sorts a while back, and the iA is the first fruit. If you didn’t know by now, the tasty looking 2016 Mazda2 hatch is not coming to the USA, despite Mazda’s plan to sell it in Canada and Puerto Rico. To satisfy shopper’s love for sub-compact Zoom-Zoom, Scion had Mazda turn the 2 into the Scion iA sedan for the U.S. and Toyota Yaris sedan for Canada. As happens with the Ford Fiesta, the hatch-to-sedan conversion adds around a foot of length overall. To help differentiate the iA from any future Mazda2 sales in the USA, the front end gets an enormous trapezoidal front grille and some “Angry Birds” headlamps. Out back, the Scion’s rear is less disguised with a strong Mazda influence in the tail lamps blended with a hint of Camry.

I know I’m going to take heat for this, but I actually like the looks of the iA in person. I think the side profile and rear are better balanced than the Ford Fiesta sedan, although the Fiesta’s grille is better looking. The overall design comes across as more intentional and — dare I say — emotional than the Nissan Versa or Chevy Sonic.

2016 Scion iA Interior-006

Interior
Hop inside the iA and it’s pure Mazda, which is a good thing. In terms of style and parts quality, Mazda basically made Scion a 90% scale Mazda3 interior with a few tweaks. We get the same chunky steering wheel loaded with buttons, same single-dial instrument cluster and 7-inch infotainment screen. Also cribbed from the Mazda parts bin is the standard keyless-go system, a single-zone manual climate control and standard cruise control.

For a car as small as the iA, the front seats proved surprisingly roomy. Scion claims 41.9 inches of legroom up front, which is more than you get in the Corolla or Focus, and a still respectable 34.4 inches in the back. Although taller drivers will probably bash their elbows on the B-pillar, they will fit. Cargo room comes in at a generous 13.5 cubic feet beating the bigger Corolla by a hair.

2016 Scion iA Interior

Infotainment
Mazda calls the infotainment software MazdaConnect. Scion hasn’t named it specifically but the system is exactly the same. What sets the iA apart isn’t so much the class-leading infotainment software and interface but that the system is standard. Looking like someone grafted an iPad to the dashboard [I think it looks more like a cheap Walmart Android tablet than an iPad, but to each their own. -Mark], the 7-inch color touchscreen LCD is the heart of the system. In the center console we have an iDrive/MMI-like controller knob and button array. Similar to Infiniti’s systems, you can navigate with either the controller, or the touchscreen, or both depending on what is easier at the moment. As long as you’re parked. Above 5 MPH the touchscreen functionality is locked out allowing only voice and control knob inputs.

Smartphone app integration for streaming media is standard and shoppers can add navigation software to the display for an undisclosed price after you buy the car. The high-resolution graphics, an intuitive interface and complete voice commands of your media library create a system that rivals uConnect and iDrive for best in the industry. The only danger with making this system standard in the iA is that it makes other Scions look decidedly behind the times.

2016 Scion iA Engine Mazda SkyActiv-001

Drivetrain
Logically, there’s a Mazda 1.5L four-cylinder engine beating under the iA’s hood. Good for 106 horsepower and 103 lb-ft of torque, the engine uses all Mazda’s fuel sipping tech, including direct injection, a high 12:1 compression ratio and a Mazda 6-speed automatic with a tall final gear and aggressive torque converter lockup program. For the purists in the crowd, you can get your iA with a short-throw manual transmission, but you’ll get 2 MPG better (37 MPG combined, 42 on the highway) with the 6-speed automatic.

2016 Scion iA Exterior-003

Drive
In an unexpected twist, all iA models will come with a standard low-speed collision warning and mitigation system. The system is similar in design to Volvo’s first-generation City Safety system and uses a laser scanner mounted in front of the rear view mirror to monitor traffic. At speeds between approximately 5 and 18 MPH, the system will first warn the driver of an impending collision, pre-charge the brakes, then as a last resort reduce engine power and apply the brakes autonomously to either avoid or mitigate the collision. The Scion reps said the system is not programmed to detect pedestrians or cyclists like Volvo’s latest system, but it “may respond” to that type of obstacle depending on the situation.

Since my time was limited with the iA, I wasn’t able to put it through my usual battery of tests. You should expect acceleration times to be leisurely, likely in the 10 second slot occupied by the Prius C. The best acceleration times will be with the 6-speed automatic but the 6-speed manual will make those seconds tick by faster because it’s simply more fun. I spent most of my day in a 6-speed manual version and, although I did long for more power, the short throws and excellent clutch pedal distracted me for the most part.

2016 Scion iA Exterior-006

For a Scion, the steering is sheer perfection. For a Mazda, I’m still sad the iA has electric power steering. Turn in is crisp as can be expected from a car riding on 185/60R16 tires and the steering ratio is just about perfect. The Scion folks had Mazda tune the iA towards the softer side of the segment which causes more body roll than I had expected, but aside from that it didn’t reduce the fun too much on the winding mountain roads of our test drive. Overall grip is lower than I had expected with plenty of commotion coming from the tires if you enter a corner a little too hot. I blame both the tire size and the rubber compound for this but the tires can be easily swapped. Even though we have a torsion beam suspension in the rear, the iA was remarkably well-behaved in corners with broken pavement.

The most compelling thing about the iA is the combination of Mazda engineering and Scion pricing. For 2015, the MSRP starts at $15,700 with the 6-speed manual and ends at $16,800 for the iA with the 6-speed automatic. Because of the way Scion’s pricing scheme works, the manual transmission model has a high level of content that frequently precludes a manual transmission in the competition like the 7-inch LCD infotainment system, the pre-collision braking system, keyless-go and the backup camera. Scion also tosses in a 2-year/25,000 mile scheduled maintenance plan. When comparing the iA to the rest of the segment, the high level of standard equipment manages to make the iA the best sub-compact deal around. When pitted against Nissan Versa, the value leader in the segment, the Scion manages to be $1,500 less when comparably equipped.

2016 Scion iA Exterior Front Grille

The iA isn’t the Scion I was expecting, and it isn’t the Mazda I was hoping for either. The iA seems like Mazda’s interpretation of what a Scion should be, and marriage has created a surprisingly good little car. Shoppers will find a well-controlled ride, excellent road manners and impeccable fuel economy all wrapped inside Scion’s warranty and scheduled maintenance, and sold at a Toyota dealer. The combination makes for the most appealing sedan in this segment by a hair. (If Ford mates an automatic transmission to their 3-cylinder turbo Fiesta, it’s game on.) The combination should also be a lesson for Mazda, because Scion’s mono-spec philosophy and pricing give pragmatists a reason to buy the best driving sedan in this segment.

Scion provided the vehicle, insurance, gas and a snazzy lunch for this review.

2016 Scion iA Engine Mazda SkyActiv 2016 Scion iA Engine Mazda SkyActiv-001 2016 Scion iA Exterior Front Grille 2016 Scion iA Exterior-001 2016 Scion iA Exterior-002 Wheel 2016 Scion iA Exterior-003 2016 Scion iA Exterior-004 2016 Scion iA Exterior-005 2016 Scion iA Exterior-006 2016 Scion iA Exterior-007 2016 Scion iA Exterior-008 2016 Scion iA Interior 2016 Scion iA Interior-001 2016 Scion iA Interior-002 2016 Scion iA Interior-003 2016 Scion iA Interior-004 2016 Scion iA Interior-005 2016 Scion iA Interior-006 2016 Scion iA Interior-007 2016 Scion iA Interior-008 2016 Scion iA Trunk

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Chart Of The Day: America’s 15 Best-Selling American Vehicles In The First Half Of 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/chart-day-americas-15-best-selling-american-vehicles-first-half-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/chart-day-americas-15-best-selling-american-vehicles-first-half-2015/#comments Mon, 06 Jul 2015 12:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1106937 Remember when the U.S. auto industry was very much an American auto industry? No? I don’t, either. But there was a time when an American car was an American car because it was made by an American car company in America.  Times have clearly changed. Cars.com recently revealed that the most American car, in terms […]

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Jeep Wrangler American flag

Remember when the U.S. auto industry was very much an American auto industry? No? I don’t, either.

But there was a time when an American car was an American car because it was made by an American car company in America

Times have clearly changed. Cars.com recently revealed that the most American car, in terms of its American content and not its badge, is the Toyota Camry. Indeed, Japanese brands grabbed three of the top five spots on Cars.com’s American-Made Index.

 

USA best selling autos June 2015 YTDHowever, even if the Chrysler Group is part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, an Italian-American partnership based in the Netherlands with UK headquarters, we do still tend to view a Jeep Wrangler, for instance, as a traditional Detroit product — one that is, of course, built in Toledo, Ohio. While the Chevrolet Camaro continues, for the time being, to be built in Oshawa, Ontario, we still consider the Camaro an all-American product.

Thus, in honour of the July 4, Independence Day weekend, we display this list of America’s most popular American vehicles through the first-half of 2015, completely ignoring 25 other vehicles, many of which are assembled in the United States. Our standard: if they’re produced by good ol’ Detroit brands, they’re eligible. One wonders what we’d do with the Chrysler TC by Maserati.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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Junkyard Find: 1988 Chevrolet Caprice Classic http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/junkyard-find-1988-chevrolet-caprice-classic/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/junkyard-find-1988-chevrolet-caprice-classic/#comments Mon, 06 Jul 2015 11:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1107577 The third-gen Chevy Caprice, made for the 1977 through 1990 model years, was the last of the traditional box Caprices. Those of us who came of driving age during the Late Malaise Era came to fear the rear-view-mirror sight of the grille of this car, the early Panther Ford LTD, and the Dodge Diplomat, due […]

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00 - 1988 Chevrolet Caprice Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The third-gen Chevy Caprice, made for the 1977 through 1990 model years, was the last of the traditional box Caprices. Those of us who came of driving age during the Late Malaise Era came to fear the rear-view-mirror sight of the grille of this car, the early Panther Ford LTD, and the Dodge Diplomat, due to their popularity among police departments in the 1980s. You don’t see many box Caprices these days, but enough were made that they appear in self-service wrecking yards now and then. Here’s a very governmental-looking example I saw in Denver a couple months ago.
01 - 1988 Chevrolet Caprice Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Made in Texas by Texans! Sajeev would approve, but his loyalty to the Blue Oval is stronger than his love of Texan-made automobiles.

13 - 1988 Chevrolet Caprice Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Carburetors were almost gone by this time, but the Caprice still had a good ol’ Quadrajet on its 305-cubic-inch V8. In 1989, the Caprice got electronic fuel injection (instead of the Holley double-pumper that should have been installed to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall).

14 - 1988 Chevrolet Caprice Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

GM had toned down all the heraldic crests and related gingerbread on the Caprice by the late 1980s, probably because police departments and rental-car companies don’t care about such things, but you still got a few fleur-de-lis scattered about the car.

04 - 1988 Chevrolet Caprice Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

85 mph speedometers were no longer mandated by US law in 1988, but we can assume that GM had a few hundred thousand of these things in their warehouses and wanted to use them up.

PCH-SVO_vs_XR4Ti-Merkur-4

The Merkur XR4Ti also had an 85 mph speedometer, but it was presented with a certain amount of winking and nudging.

As you can see in this “Hearbeat of America” add from 1988, the Caprice wasn’t getting much emphasis in Chevrolet’s marketing in 1988.

Not the most expensive luxury car, but the most preferred.

00 - 1988 Chevrolet Caprice Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 01 - 1988 Chevrolet Caprice Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1988 Chevrolet Caprice Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1988 Chevrolet Caprice Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1988 Chevrolet Caprice Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1988 Chevrolet Caprice Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1988 Chevrolet Caprice Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1988 Chevrolet Caprice Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1988 Chevrolet Caprice Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1988 Chevrolet Caprice Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1988 Chevrolet Caprice Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1988 Chevrolet Caprice Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1988 Chevrolet Caprice Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1988 Chevrolet Caprice Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1988 Chevrolet Caprice Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1988 Chevrolet Caprice Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1988 Chevrolet Caprice Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1988 Chevrolet Caprice Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1988 Chevrolet Caprice Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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RUMOR: Aston Martin Tipped For Deal With Mercedes-Powered Red Bull Racing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/rumor-aston-martin-tipped-for-deal-with-mercedes-powered-red-bull-racing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/rumor-aston-martin-tipped-for-deal-with-mercedes-powered-red-bull-racing/#comments Sun, 05 Jul 2015 17:40:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1108025 The latest rumor to involve Formula 1 also involves a former Nissan executive and one of Britain’s most recognized marques. A report from Autocar sees former world champion team Red Bull ditching their troublesome Renault power units and switching to Mercedes motivation with an Aston Martin logo painted on the air box of the single […]

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Aston Martin Logo

The latest rumor to involve Formula 1 also involves a former Nissan executive and one of Britain’s most recognized marques.

A report from Autocar sees former world champion team Red Bull ditching their troublesome Renault power units and switching to Mercedes motivation with an Aston Martin logo painted on the air box of the single seater.

And there might be some truth to it.

It’s no secret that multiple world champion team Red Bull Racing is less than pleased with its Renault power units as it struggles at the middle of the pack. It’s also no secret that Mercedes would like to bolster the number of teams to which it supplies engines in an effort to amortize the cost of development. A deal between Red Bull Racing and Mercedes F1 may be in the works that suits the needs of both parties and it could come by way of Aston Martin and its CEO Andy Palmer.

With Mercedes holding 5-percent ownership in the British luxury marque and more cooperation planned in the future, the German automaker does not see Aston Martin as a direct road car competitor, thus opening the door for the deal.

Andy Palmer, before his current position at Aston Martin, was the head of product for Nissan and played a major part in Red Bull Racing’s deal with Infiniti. The rumored deal between Red Bull Racing and Aston Martin would be very similar to the Infiniti deal, where Aston Martin branding is visible on Red Bull Racing’s Formula 1 cars and the British manufacturer would provide technical expertise to the team.

When asked by Autocar, a spokesman for Aston Martin declined to comment on the rumor. However, when Autocar posed the question to Mercedes F1 team principal Toto Wolff at this weekend’s British Grand Prix, the door was left open a sliver.

“We must be open-minded. Our number one objective is to win the world championship. At the moment I would say I cannot see a situation of us supplying an engine to our number one enemy – but maybe we need to recalibrate who our number one enemy is tomorrow and next year.”

The deal likely won’t happen next year, though, as Red Bull Racing and Renault are bound to contract until the end of 2016. After that, it’s anyone’s guess where the Milton Keynes-based team will source its power, said Red Bull principal Christian Horner:

“Last week it was Ferrari, this week it’s Aston Martin, next week it will probably be Honda or Lamborghini. We have a contract and commitment with Infiniti, a very good relationship with Infiniti, and anything beyond the end of 2016 is purely speculative.”

Aston Martin last contested Formula 1 in 1959 and 1960.

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More Corporate Average Horsepower, Hellcat Production Going Up http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/more-corporate-average-horsepower-hellcat-production-going-up/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/more-corporate-average-horsepower-hellcat-production-going-up/#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 15:51:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1107873 Nothing is more American than a high-horsepower V8 in a muscle car. Thanks to increased demand, roads are going to feature more of that familiar V8 rumble as Dodge ramps up Hellcat production. According to Automotive News, FCA has produced approximately 4,000 Hellcat engines so far this year, even as the company stopped taking orders for […]

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Supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI® Hellcat V-8 engine produces 707 ho

Nothing is more American than a high-horsepower V8 in a muscle car. Thanks to increased demand, roads are going to feature more of that familiar V8 rumble as Dodge ramps up Hellcat production.

According to Automotive News, FCA has produced approximately 4,000 Hellcat engines so far this year, even as the company stopped taking orders for the Charger and Challenger models in an effort to get caught up with demand.

“We’ve sold 88,000 muscle cars [this calendar year], Challengers and Chargers, and 4,000 of those have been Hellcats. It’s a small sliver of what we sell, but it really creates a halo for the rest of the lineup,” Tim Kuniskis, head of Dodge and SRT, told the trade publication. “For example, the next highest car, the Scat Pack Challenger, I have essentially a zero-day supply. It’s sold out.”

So, if you’re looking for a Hellcat in the near-ish future, you may be in luck. What’s more American than a muscle car assembled in Canada with an engine from Mexico?

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TTAC Open Forum: Go Celebrate Some Independence. We Are. http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/ttac-open-forum-go-celebrate-some-independence-we-are/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/ttac-open-forum-go-celebrate-some-independence-we-are/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 19:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1107345 It’s time to shut it down. Go home. Pack it in. It’s time to wrestle up the family, pets and vacation implements, hit the open road and leave the Internet behind for a few days. Since a number of commenters and writers wished myself (along with Tim and Brendan) a Happy Canada Day earlier this […]

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What would Hunter say? (courtesy pro.corbis.com)It’s time to shut it down. Go home. Pack it in. It’s time to wrestle up the family, pets and vacation implements, hit the open road and leave the Internet behind for a few days.

Since a number of commenters and writers wished myself (along with Tim and Brendan) a Happy Canada Day earlier this week, I wish all our American readers the best this 239th Day of Independence. (Eds Note: Only a Canadian would say “Day of Independence.” — Aaron)

Those of you stuck at your desks for the rest of the day, consider this comment thread all yours. I’ll be enjoying the most American-Canadian car possible – a Charger – and enjoying a little bit of what I haven’t been able to do much of since joining TTAC: actual driving.

We will have a trickle of content over the weekend before normal service resumes Monday.

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After Clearing Legal Hurdles, Taxi of Tomorrow Now Taxi of Today http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/clearing-legal-hurdles-taxi-tomorrow-now-taxi-today/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/clearing-legal-hurdles-taxi-tomorrow-now-taxi-today/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 18:30:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1107321 The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission finally cleared its last hurdle in making the Nissan NV200 the new official taxi for NYC, Car and Driver reports. The commission installed the NV200 as the new official taxi back in 2011, but legal challenges have delayed that process until now. The city licenses more than 13,000 cabs. The […]

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Nissan NV200 Taxi of Tomorrow

The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission finally cleared its last hurdle in making the Nissan NV200 the new official taxi for NYC, Car and Driver reports.

The commission installed the NV200 as the new official taxi back in 2011, but legal challenges have delayed that process until now. The city licenses more than 13,000 cabs.

The challenge stemmed from a group of taxi owners taking exception to the commission dwindling the number of acceptable cab models from 47 down to just one. However, the C&D report points out, owners can choose from a slightly larger list of acceptable hybrids (by larger, we mean three: Lexus 450h, Prius V and Toyota Highlander Hybrid) instead of the gas-powered NV200.

Nissan won a $1 billion bid to become the supplier of the new taxi four years ago beating out Ford and Turkish automaker Karsan.

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Nurburgring May Dump Speed Limits for Manufacturers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/ring-may-dump-speed-limits-manufacturers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/ring-may-dump-speed-limits-manufacturers/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 18:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1107289 Per Road and Track, the operators of the famed Nurburgring in Germany may be preparing to dump its speed limits for manufacturers and may mean a return for manufacturer records. After a Nissan GT-R GT3 crashed and killed a spectator, the famous road installed speed limits during specific sections for safety and enforced those limits […]

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Nurburgring_lap

Per Road and Track, the operators of the famed Nurburgring in Germany may be preparing to dump its speed limits for manufacturers and may mean a return for manufacturer records.

After a Nissan GT-R GT3 crashed and killed a spectator, the famous road installed speed limits during specific sections for safety and enforced those limits during testing for manufacturers — effectively ending record run chest-thumping.

Although the rumor is just a rumor right now, there are undoubtedly a few manufacturers who should be licking their chops today at the chance to unseat Porsche for the production-car throne.

The speed limits are enforced on the Flugplatz section and Gantry to Antoniusbuche sections.

If lifted, speed limits at the track for manufacturer testing would have only lasted a few weeks, and it may signal the end of Pikes Peak two-day run as the new ‘Ring.

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FCA Awaits NHTSA’s Wrath After Recall Hearings http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/fca-awaits-nhtsas-wrath-recall-hearings/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/fca-awaits-nhtsas-wrath-recall-hearings/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 17:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1107233 Yesterday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration took the unusual step of hauling a single automaker to the Capitol to scold Fiat Chrysler for delays in recalls and repairs. The hearing is ahead of anticipated fines NHTSA may deal later this month, possibly as high as $700 million. Attention was focused on Jeep Liberties and Grand […]

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1999 Grand Cherokee Launch-12

Yesterday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration took the unusual step of hauling a single automaker to the Capitol to scold Fiat Chrysler for delays in recalls and repairs. The hearing is ahead of anticipated fines NHTSA may deal later this month, possibly as high as $700 million.

Attention was focused on Jeep Liberties and Grand Cherokees with rear-mounted gas tanks that could leak fuel if struck in a high-speed rear collision and potentially catch fire. Also of importance is the rate at which Jeep notified its owners of the recall.

FCA’s Senior Vice President for Vehicle Safety and Regulatory Compliance Scott Kunselman said at the hearing that FCA “could have done better in carrying out the campaigns.”


Owners of Grand Cherokees and Liberty SUVs had trailer hitches installed on their cars that could protect in low- to moderate-speed impact collisions. Eric Mayne, a spokesman for FCA, said that NHTSA tested the trailer hitches and found them to perform similarly to their peers.

A Massachusetts father testified at the hearing, saying his 17-year-old son was killed when the Grand Cherokee he was driving was struck and ignited. The issue has been linked to more than 50 deaths.

A second recall was recently issued for faulty wiring that could disable airbags.

NHTSA “tentatively concluded” FCA didn’t address the recalls in time, or adequately. Despite issuing a recall in June 2013, NHTSA said only 23 percent of the cars had been fixed by the end of April. FCA said that figure is now around 33 percent.

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Honda Making English Its Official Language by 2020 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/honda-making-english-official-language-2020/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/honda-making-english-official-language-2020/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 16:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1107121 In its 104-page annual sustainability report, Honda announced it would make English its official language by 2020, requiring all interregional communication be conducted in English. Similarly, English-language proficiency would be a requirement for promotion to management. The new mandate appears on Page 70 of the report. Despite burying the lede, it’s a seismic change for the Japanese […]

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Takanobu Ito

In its 104-page annual sustainability report, Honda announced it would make English its official language by 2020, requiring all interregional communication be conducted in English. Similarly, English-language proficiency would be a requirement for promotion to management. The new mandate appears on Page 70 of the report.

Despite burying the lede, it’s a seismic change for the Japanese company. According to Automotive News, five years ago then-boss Takanobu Ito said — possibly in Japanese — that making English the official language of Honda was “stupid.” Five years from now, presumably all of Honda’s workforce, which includes more than 200,000 people — nearly three-quarters of it outside of North America — will be speaking the language.

Honda’s official stance on English isn’t wholly surprising, or new.

According to a report by The Economist in February 2014, Honda was keen on adopting “Corporate English” throughout the company and following suit with many other global manufacturers. Chinese tech giant Lenovo made English its lingua franca. Same goes for Nokia, Renault and Samsung.

Only one quarter of Honda’s workforce is in North America, but accounted for nearly one third of its new hires for 2015. Honda’s move to English is emblematic of its reality: 40 percent of Honda’s sales are in North America and 81 percent of its vehicles are assembled outside of Japan.

Included in the report is an outlook for the future of Honda’s manufacturing in North America.

The U.S. will add more than 3.4 million manufacturing jobs in the next 10 years, the report states, but will have only 1.4 million people to fill those jobs. Honda says they will implement a program in Ohio — where Honda builds cars — to teach middle- and high-school students how to fill those jobs with video games, or by directly funding STEM programs in some schools.

There’s been no word on whether Buick will be making the switch to Mandarin.

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Julie Hamp No. 10 in PR Week’s “Power List”, No. 1 in Badly Timed Awards http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/ex-top-toyota-pr-rep-no-10-pr-list-no-1-badly-timed-awards/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/ex-top-toyota-pr-rep-no-10-pr-list-no-1-badly-timed-awards/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 15:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1107009 Resigned Toyota PR chief Julie Hamp was named to PR Week’s “Power List” two weeks after being busted for allegedly importing illegal prescription painkillers into Japan last month. Hamp allegedly received 57 pills of Oxycodone in a box labeled “necklaces” at Narita Airport in Tokyo. The list, which ranks her No. 10, was released the same day Hamp resigned her position […]

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Julie Hamp Not In BlackResigned Toyota PR chief Julie Hamp was named to PR Week’s “Power List” two weeks after being busted for allegedly importing illegal prescription painkillers into Japan last month. Hamp allegedly received 57 pills of Oxycodone in a box labeled “necklaces” at Narita Airport in Tokyo.

The list, which ranks her No. 10, was released the same day Hamp resigned her position and included an editor’s note at the top explaining the awkward timing.

The author of Hamp’s listing, Senior Vice President of Global Communications for General Motors Tony Cervone, noted Hamp’s ascendance as a woman in a field typically dominated by men:

“Julie understands the need for consistency, but allows it to be expressed naturally and authentically, with special sensitivity to cultural nuances. She understands discipline, but doesn’t drive bureaucracy. In short, Julie provides a great balance. And she fully deserves to be “the first” in so many ways.”

Hamp is reportedly in jail awaiting charges in Japan. According to the Wall Street Journal, her trial in Japan could last anywhere from six months to a year, if it even goes that far.

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QOTD: What Really Makes a Car American? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/qotd-what-really-makes-a-car-american/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/qotd-what-really-makes-a-car-american/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 14:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1106969 Today is the beginning of the Independence Day holiday in America, which is this beautiful historical moment where we all take a few days off work and light things on fire. It’s also an excellent time to examine precisely what makes a car American. I want to do this because there are a lot of […]

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volkswagen-chattanooga-solar-park-08

Today is the beginning of the Independence Day holiday in America, which is this beautiful historical moment where we all take a few days off work and light things on fire. It’s also an excellent time to examine precisely what makes a car American.

I want to do this because there are a lot of Americans out there who will only buy an American car, just like there are a lot of Japanese who will only buy a Japanese car, and a lot of Germans who will only buy a German car, and a lot of South Africans who will only buy cars with bulletproof windows. But in today’s globalized world, what exactly defines a car’s country of origin?

Some would say where the car is manufactured – and that’s reasonable. After all, if a car is built in America, and sold in America by an American car dealership to someone in America, this is a pretty damn American vehicle, correct? You can only get more American if you were to get on a plane and ask personal questions to the stranger sitting next to you, even though they’re obviously trying to read the newspaper.

But wait! There are millions of cars that fit this definition that aren’t made by “American” automakers! The Volkswagen Passat, for example, is built somewhere in the marry-your-cousin hills of East Tennessee by an American factory worker, then shipped to an American dealer by an American truck driver where it’s prepped by an American employee and sold to an American rental car company for use in the commission of an American felony, likely with an American gun.

So is the Passat an American car?

Most people would say no, the Passat is a German car, in the sense that the brand that sells it, Volkswagen, hails from one of those European countries where they smoke cigarettes in corporate offices. Instead, some might say, to be truly American, a car must come from an American brand that has headquarters in America, where they hire many recent Wayne State University graduates to try and figure out whether the Buick Regal should cost $28,936 or $28,934.

The problem with this definition is that many American car companies build their cars in foreign countries. For example: the highly American Chrysler PT Cruiser, which is one of the most American cars of all time based on the total number of elderly owners who enjoy sitting in plastic lawnchairs on their porch, was actually manufactured in Mexico.

This creates a problem when we’re referring to American cars, because – this is an important news bulletin, so pay attention – Mexico isn’t America. Mexico is Mexico. [I thought Texas was Mexico? –MS] It’s an entirely different country, with an entirely different language, and culture, and citizenry, and flavor of Coca-Cola. It is, in fact, a completely different place from the US of A.

So this brings us to another question, which is: Can an American car not be an American car unless it’s made by an American brand and manufactured in America?

If the answer to this is yes, it removes dozens of American cars from our “American car” list. It also removes dozens of foreign cars, even though they often show up near the top of the cars.com “American made” index, which examines just how much of each car actually comes from the United States. Do these cars really deserve to be removed from a listing of American models?

The thing is, it’s just gotten too hard to know for sure. Is a Japanese car really American if the majority of its parts are American and it’s built here? Is an American car not American anymore if it’s built in a foreign country? And most importantly, does anyone really care?

The answer, actually, is a lot of people really care. Many Americans want to buy American, just like many British want to buy British, and many Spanish want to buy Spanish, and blah blah blah. This is why people in Italy buy the Fiat Freemont, thinking it’s an Italian car, even though it’s just a leftover Dodge Journey with a different grille.

And so I ask you, the readers: what exactly makes a car American? What does a car require in order to fit this definition? And in today’s increasingly globalized world, is there even such a thing as a truly “American” car anymore?

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Crapwagon Outtake: 1980 Datsun 280ZX Black Gold Anniversary Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/crapwagon-outtake-1980-datsun-280zx-black-gold-anniversary-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/crapwagon-outtake-1980-datsun-280zx-black-gold-anniversary-edition/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 13:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1106337 Like most sports cars, the Z got fat as it aged. The one/two combo punch of emissions and safety regulations worked over many a performance car throughout the ’70s, some not surviving the decade. The Z changed from SU-clone carbs, to finicky Hitachi flat-tops, to a Bosch fuel injection system over three years, all the […]

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Like most sports cars, the Z got fat as it aged. The one/two combo punch of emissions and safety regulations worked over many a performance car throughout the ’70s, some not surviving the decade. The Z changed from SU-clone carbs, to finicky Hitachi flat-tops, to a Bosch fuel injection system over three years, all the while increasing displacement to handle the extra weight of massive bumpers. Enthusiasts may whine about the changes, but it seems market pressures added the pounds, too. In 1979, the 280ZX was released — a softer, more luxurious car than the predecessor.

Yet, it sold just as well, showing that Nissan were right about the market. New Z owners were pulling up to the valet at the disco, rather than carving canyons.

Yep, it’s the commercial that’s been passed around social media for years like a rolled-up twenty.

The 1980 Anniversary Edition Black Gold ZX was perfect to usher in the new decade. As a little car-fanatic kid in a multiple-Z-owning household, I had a toy R/C model of this very car tucked next to me in bed on occasion, rather than a teddy bear.

$17,000 is a big number for the car I’ve come to refer to as the 2DSC — two door saloon car, as it’s not much different than a Maxima of the era. The later cars, especially the turbocharged examples, brought much of the performance back to Nissan/Datsun showrooms, but these early ZXs were just good, comfortable cruisers.

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Journalist Puts BMW i8 On Its Roof in Mexico City http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/journalist-puts-bmw-i8-roof-mexico-city/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/journalist-puts-bmw-i8-roof-mexico-city/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 12:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1106401 In light of Bark M.’s post on the possible propensity of Fiesta STs rolling over while autocrossing, and TTAC’s tradition of commenting when autojournos manage to wreck press cars (disclaimer: I once brushed a Fiat Abarth’s wheel against a curb), we bring you this report from Wrecked Exotics. A so far unidentified journalist taking an early […]

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In light of Bark M.’s post on the possible propensity of Fiesta STs rolling over while autocrossing, and TTAC’s tradition of commenting when autojournos manage to wreck press cars (disclaimer: I once brushed a Fiat Abarth’s wheel against a curb), we bring you this report from Wrecked Exotics. A so far unidentified journalist taking an early production BMW i8 for a test drive near Mexico City managed to roll the gas-electric hybrid supercar, leaving it bottoms up.

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Cars with battery packs tend to have very low centers of gravity so it takes a bit of effort to roll them. From the photos published at Wrecked Exotics, it looks to me like the driver, who reportedly was uninjured in the wreck, may have misjudged a corner and hit a stone retaining wall, causing the car to flip.

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The other day, Matt Hardigree of Jalopnik posted a pretty detailed look at the business of providing press cars to journalists, including the fact that the cost to supply a single car to a single journalist for review purposes is non-trivial, averaging hundreds of dollars and sometimes running into four figures. My guess is that this will be a fairly expensive review for BMW.

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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Junkyard Find: 1992 BMW 750iL http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/junkyard-find-1992-bmw-750il/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/junkyard-find-1992-bmw-750il/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 11:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1106737 When you spend as much time in fast-turnover self-service wrecking yards as I do, you get this lesson over and over: Nothing depreciates like high-end German luxury cars. Once the interior gets a little rough, or the cutting-edge elaborate electrical system gets a bit confused, or the next generation of engine makes an additional 50 […]

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10 - 1992 BMW 750iL Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

When you spend as much time in fast-turnover self-service wrecking yards as I do, you get this lesson over and over: Nothing depreciates like high-end German luxury cars. Once the interior gets a little rough, or the cutting-edge elaborate electrical system gets a bit confused, or the next generation of engine makes an additional 50 horses… well, your big A8 or 7-series or S-class passes through a sequence of increasingly budget-challenged owners, and then there’s another $700 repair needed, and here comes the tow-truck to take it to U-Wrench-It. Mostly I don’t pay much attention to these cars, because the yards are paved with German luxury, but the numbers of discarded V12 E32s peaked about 5 years ago and they’re getting harder to find now. Here’s one that I saw yesterday in a Denver-area yard.
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Because you can get running V12 BMWs for scrap value or less, 24 Hours of LeMons racers have run a few of them. Here’s Speedycop’s 1963 Ford Thunderbird with a 750iL engine (equipped with an extremely janky ammo-can-plenum carburetor conversion).

15 - 1992 BMW 750iL Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

How much did this car cost in 1992? Well, the answer is just about as depressing as looking up horsepower figures for Malaise Era Detroit cars: $76,500 MSRP, and a lot more with all the options a proper 7-series owner must have. That’s about $130,000 in inflation-adjusted 2015 bucks.

06 - 1992 BMW 750iL Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

V12s are inherently cool. All of us need to start rescuing these engines and swapping them into Edsels and New Yorkers. This one made 296 horsepower, which is 28 more than the 3.5-liter V6 in the ’15 Camry.

14 - 1992 BMW 750iL Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Yessir, that’s a built-in analog car-phone transceiver in the trunk.

27 men in Munich began a project that became a quest that became a car.

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Consumer Reports Reveals New Cars’ Dirty Secret http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/consumer-reports-reveals-new-cars-dirty-secret/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/consumer-reports-reveals-new-cars-dirty-secret/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 20:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1106329 Engines burn oil, but how much oil burn is normal is at the heart of a Consumer Reports study that examined nearly 500,000 new cars for how much oil they have to replace in their new car’s engine. It’s a dirty, dirty business. The report defined excessive oil consumption as adding more than one quart between recommended […]

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Engines burn oil, but how much oil burn is normal is at the heart of a Consumer Reports study that examined nearly 500,000 new cars for how much oil they have to replace in their new car’s engine.

It’s a dirty, dirty business.

The report defined excessive oil consumption as adding more than one quart between recommended oil changes. The biggest offenders: BMW’s 4.8-liter and 4.4-liter twin turbocharged V8’s, Audi’s 2.0-liter turbo four and 3.0-liter V6. The report also said Subaru’s 2.0- and 2.5-liter fours and 3.6-liter flat six were lesser offenders.

According to Consumer Reports, the engines comprise only 2 percent of vehicles on the road, but that small sliver of the segment accounted for nearly 1.5 million cars. The offenders were particularly heinous in their oil consumption, as well — a new BMW 5-Series was 27 times more likely to need oil than an average new car.

Many new cars shouldn’t need additional oil between oil changes, the consumer group said, and oil consumption on vehicles with fewer than 100,000 miles should be the exception — not the rule.

Nonetheless, representatives from manufacturers such as BMW and Subaru said oil consumption for their engines isn’t out of the ordinary and could be dependent on temperature, driving style and transmission type.

The report highlighted the experience of one New York woman who said Subaru offered her $500 to offset the cost of new oil after she complained that her 2012 Impreza was burning too much.

Subaru’s Director of Communications Michael McHale said in a emailed statement that Subaru “doesn’t have a program in place but we do review each case on an individual basis.”

Out of court, some manufacturers have authorized repairing or even replacing an engine if it’s burning too much oil. In court, both Audi and Subaru are defendants in class-action suits regarding the problem.

Representatives from BMW did not immediately return requests for comment.

In some cases, automakers have settled the suits or extended powertrain warranties to cover any excessive oil consumption. In California, as part of a settlement, Toyota extended its powertrain warranties in some Camrys and Corollas to cover 10 years or 150,000 miles. Honda extended its warranty to 8 years on some of its 6-cylinder cars in 2013, after settling a class-action suit where hundreds complained about oil consumption.

BMW spokesman Hector Arellano-Belloc is quoted in the Consumer Reports story saying:

“BMW vehicles have long intervals between oil changes (10,000 miles). BMW engines (excluding the BMW M) may consume up to one quart of engine oil per 750 miles under certain driving conditions.”

Which sucks for me because my own personal 3 Series’ oil capacity is around 7 quarts — or about bone-dry halfway between regularly scheduled changes.

The report also underscores a small, but not insignificant, problem that manufacturers must do everything they can to combat the perception that cars are inefficient, environmentally irresponsible machines. Constantly pumping a car full of dead dinosaur juice may not help.

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Record Sales Pace Partially Fueled by Record Incentives http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/record-sales-pace-partially-fueled-record-incentives/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/record-sales-pace-partially-fueled-record-incentives/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 19:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1106289 The Detroit Bureau is reporting that even though June was a record sales month for many automakers, many of those sales were partly fueled with record incentives from the manufacturer. Buyers could get up to $8,000 knocked of the price of a Kia K900 or up to $7,000 off of Ford hybrids or electric cars — […]

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Insane People at the Stock Photo Dealership

The Detroit Bureau is reporting that even though June was a record sales month for many automakers, many of those sales were partly fueled with record incentives from the manufacturer.

Buyers could get up to $8,000 knocked of the price of a Kia K900 or up to $7,000 off of Ford hybrids or electric cars — even $8,000 for the 2015 Ford C-Max Energi.

Despite the higher-than-normal incentives, the Detroit Bureau reported that the Average Transaction Price for a new car in June was $31,848, up around 1 percent over last year.

Two automakers increased spending on their incentives by more than 30 percent over the same time last year — Nissan and Hyundai. As a percentage of incentives offered to ATP, Kia (11.7 percent), Hyundai (10.5 percent), Nissan (10.3 percent), GM (10.2 percent) and FCA (10.2 percent) were the biggest spenders last month.

As expected, many of the heavily incentivized cars were slow-moving models or cars with narrow appeal, which automakers could immediately offset by selling massive amounts of huge crossovers with equally huge margins.

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Chevrolet Adds Cell Phone Cooling Mat, Welcome To The Beginning of the End http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/chevrolet-adds-cell-phone-cooling-mat-welcome-future/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/chevrolet-adds-cell-phone-cooling-mat-welcome-future/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 18:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1106249 So, the world is coming to an end. Smartphone users who just can’t handle the thought of their iDroidberrys shutting off because they get a little overheated, GM has a solution for you. The automaker announced a feature in upcoming 2016 Chevrolet Malibus and Impalas that will cool the phone while charging on the wireless mat before […]

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Engineers added a cold air vent to certain Chevrolets for the 2016 model year to help keep smart phones wirelessly charging in the car from overheating.  The industry-first feature will be available in 2016 Chevrolet Impala, Malibu, Volt and Cruze models equipped with wireless charging and Chevrolet MyLink. The Active Phone Cooling feature works when the car’s heating, ventilation and cooling system is on.

So, the world is coming to an end.

Smartphone users who just can’t handle the thought of their iDroidberrys shutting off because they get a little overheated, GM has a solution for you. The automaker announced a feature in upcoming 2016 Chevrolet Malibus and Impalas that will cool the phone while charging on the wireless mat before it turns itself into a hot brick of glass, plastic and metal.

Finally, engineers at GM got my letter.

According to GM, the vent will only operate when the vehicle’s heating or cooling system is on. The system works by placing an air vent on the mat, because that makes the most sense.

The feature will also be installed in Chevrolet Cruze and Volt models equipped with the wireless charging mat. For those of us who don’t spring for the wireless charging feature — or don’t plan on buying a Chevrolet soon — we’ll have to continue living in the Mesozoic Era with our nuclear-hot iPhone 6 Pluses.

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Nissan, Toyota, Honda Team to Build Fuel-Cell Infrastructure in Japan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/nissan-toyota-honda-team-build-fuel-cell-infrastructure-japan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/nissan-toyota-honda-team-build-fuel-cell-infrastructure-japan/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 17:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1106169 According to Toyota, three Japanese automakers — Honda, Toyota and Nissan — are working together to build hydrogen fuel stations around for future fuel-cell cars. The program, which will subsidize fueling stations up to 11 million yen ($89,500) per year for each station, is meant to boost the nation’s infrastructure for hydrogen-powered cars. The agreement […]

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According to Toyota, three Japanese automakers — Honda, Toyota and Nissan — are working together to build hydrogen fuel stations around for future fuel-cell cars.

The program, which will subsidize fueling stations up to 11 million yen ($89,500) per year for each station, is meant to boost the nation’s infrastructure for hydrogen-powered cars.

The agreement was formed in February between the large automakers, but began accepting applications July 1.

The program also boosts “awareness” of the FCVs by offering incentives for stations to stay open longer and offer more services.

A similar alliance between automakers in the U.S. could boost FCV participation rates, but maybe we can’t have nice things.

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Robot Kills Man in Germany VW Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/robot-kills-man-germany-vw-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/robot-kills-man-germany-vw-plant/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 16:35:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1106193 According to report from German-language HNA, a robot has killed a contractor in a Volkswagen plant in Germany, near Frankfurt. The 22-year-old man, whose name has not released, was crushed against a metal plate by the machine. According to officials, operator error may have caused the man’s death. The plant is located in Baunatal, which is […]

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Robots

According to report from German-language HNA, a robot has killed a contractor in a Volkswagen plant in Germany, near Frankfurt.

The 22-year-old man, whose name has not released, was crushed against a metal plate by the machine. According to officials, operator error may have caused the man’s death.

The plant is located in Baunatal, which is roughly 60 miles from Frankfurt, and doesn’t assemble vehicles, but is one of VW’s largest component producers.

Reports say the man was assembling the machine in the plant and was not a VW employee. No charges in the death have been filed though investigators are still trying to determine if any are applicable.

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Sales of EVs, Hybrids Slumping After Gas Prices Dip http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/sales-evs-hybrids-slumping-gas-prices-dip/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/sales-evs-hybrids-slumping-gas-prices-dip/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 16:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1105913 Sales figures from automakers this week show slumping sales of electric vehicles and hybrids nationwide as gas prices drop and tax incentives dry up. According to the Detroit News, sales from EV makers such as Nissan and Chevrolet have slowed down significantly — more than 30 percent for the Volt and 12 percent for the Leaf […]

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Atlanta Police Nissan Leaf

Sales figures from automakers this week show slumping sales of electric vehicles and hybrids nationwide as gas prices drop and tax incentives dry up.

According to the Detroit News, sales from EV makers such as Nissan and Chevrolet have slowed down significantly — more than 30 percent for the Volt and 12 percent for the Leaf — last month, and both models may end up down significantly for the sales year.

Hybrid carmakers such as Ford and Honda are also reporting slow sales for their cars. Ford reported that its hybrid sales were down 29 percent over the last five months, and Honda reported a 15-percent drop in June.

Industry analysts say the slowdown could be a result of the lowest gas prices in five years, and a adjustment of states’ EV incentives. Recently, the California Air Resources Board unveiled a tiered incentive program that would adjust rebates based on income. A study showed that more than one in four EV buyers in California earned more than $200,000 a year, but still received the full benefit during the second quarter of 2015. More than three-quarters of EV buyers made more than $99,000. Georgia will end its incentives.

None of this has slowed down automakers’ production of EVs, however.

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2016 Scion iM Review – Toyota’s Tweener Takes a Turn http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2016-scion-im-review-toyotas-tweener-takes-turn/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2016-scion-im-review-toyotas-tweener-takes-turn/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 15:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1105113 To wonder aloud: How long can cool be, you know, cool? For Scion, “cool” has a half-life of around 12 years and the youth-oriented brand from Toyota has a significant turn to right the ship back toward sales from the its first year in America. Last month, Scion posted a 20-percent dip in sales, discontinued two models — iQ […]

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2016 Scion iM (9 of 21)

To wonder aloud: How long can cool be, you know, cool?

For Scion, “cool” has a half-life of around 12 years and the youth-oriented brand from Toyota has a significant turn to right the ship back toward sales from the its first year in America. Last month, Scion posted a 20-percent dip in sales, discontinued two models — iQ and xD — and spelled out an end for its xB — the only Scion to post anything resembling sales growth.

Is it better to be dead or cool? Didn’t Kurt Cobain write a song about this?

The Scion iM is 50 percent of the answer for what’s next from Scion. The new hatchback based on the overseas Toyota Auris/Corolla will hit dealers alongside the iA on September 1. The five-door hatch goes head-to-head with competitors like the Ford Focus, Mazda3 and Volkswagen Golf in a segment that analysts predict will sell more than 500,000 cars this year.

Built in Japan, the iM is a distant cousin to the U.S. market Toyota Corolla in all its splendor, and the iA will be part of Scion’s likely “pragmatic, not necessarily hip” offensive in the coming months.

I can’t wait.


The Tester

2016 Scion iM

Engine: 1.8-liter, direct injection I-4 (137 horsepower @ 6,100 rpm; 126 lb.-ft. @ 4,000 rpm)
Transmission: 6-speed manual (as tested); CVT automatic

EPA Rating: 27 city mpg/36 highway mpg/31 combined mpg (Manual); 28/37/32 mpg (CVT).

Price: $18,460 + $795 destination (manual); $19,200 + $795 destination (CVT)


To be fair, I’ve never driven the Auris overseas, which is jam-packed with a variety of engines ranging from Scion’s preferred here 1.8-liter gasoline-powered mill to a 1.4-liter diesel — even a 1.8-liter turbo-hybrid combo for Japan. For the states we only get one pick, and that’s OK because I’m a bit slow.

2016 Scion iM (21 of 21)

So is the iM. While 0-60 mph happens in around 10 seconds in the iM (which, relatively speaking, is average for a hatchback) the engine never really felt rushed to go anywhere. There’s no huge pickup in power anywhere in its band — not at 4,000 rpm at full twist, not at the 6,100-rpm redline. Thus, it’s fair to say: Don’t worry about the manual; it doesn’t have guts over the CVT anyway.

That’s probably due to the iM’s considerable heft. The five-door hatchback weighs 2,943 pounds with a manual transmission, 3,031 pounds with an automatic, and that’s not including what I had for lunch. Downhill, you’re just fine on power. Uphill, you may want to reconsider that pass, young man.

2016 Scion iM (16 of 21)Instead, the iM’s sport feeling comes from two places: its chassis and brakes. MacPherson’s up front and double wishbones in the back keep the iM planted around corners and relatively flat. The iM’s body kit hides its height — it’s 55 inches tall with 5.5 inches of ground clearance — but the car maintains a relatively firm handle on the road. Multiple times through the twisty drive around San Mateo, the iM held its own and kept tidy around corners. The iM won’t be confused with a sports car, but it does eagerly jump into corners — even if it can’t dart.

The iM’s suspension is firmer than I expected, and way more so than I’d ever expect from a Toyota. It’s not too firm for every day driving, but it is dangerously close.

On the other side, the iM’s brakes are supremely confident and quick to arrest the heavy hatch’s momentum. Even through the car’s standard 17-inch wheels, you can see the big 11-inch rotors waiting and that feeling comes through the progressive, but not lazy, pedal. The brakes could stand another 50 to 500 more horsepower from the engine, I think.

2016 Scion iM (8 of 21)Inside, the iM is surprisingly well considered for a car that costs $19,000. The interior dash accent is well-placed and soft surface materials help keep attention away from the doors, which are powerfully dull. Same goes for the seats, which boast contrast stitching to help visually separate the black-on-black motif, but it does fall a little flat. The good news: You can fit five people in the hatch comfortably to cover up all the interior materials.

There’s plenty of room for gear with 60/40-split folding rear seats and 20.8 cubic feet of space in the cargo area with the seats up.

In keeping with Scion’s strategy of “mono spec” pricing, there’s really only two things to consider with the iM — color and transmission. The same Pioneer audio system comes in all models (with or without navigation as a dealer-installed option, for which there is no dedicated button and confused the hell out of a monkey like me), Bluetooth streaming and steering wheel-mounted controls. Can you hear the stereo? Because you should turn it up. Up a little more. The iM lets in a little more road noise than it should.

2016 Scion iM (17 of 21)

Other standard features include standard 17-inch wheels, backup camera and that body kit that definitely makes the Scion iM definitely not a Toyota Auris. Definitely not.

And the Scion iM’s biggest asset may be its biggest problem as well. It’s helpful for Scion to have a big parent company like Toyota to draw from its international fleet and help flagging sales in the states. But a big parent company like Toyota has all the markings of an automotive behemoth, specifically a massive dealer network that still runs things decidedly old school.

The iM is a decent hatch in itself, but it probably won’t save Scion. The exciting, cool new automaker doesn’t have a lot of cool ideas when it comes to streamlining the buying experience — which they say can be done in less than an hour, so long as you find a participating dealer with a participating price in a participating market.

Cool can’t last forever, even if Toyotas can.

Photography provided by Alex L. Dykes.

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F1 Fan Study: Everything Is The Same/Different http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/f1-study-everything-samedifferent/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/f1-study-everything-samedifferent/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 14:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1105825 A Formula 1 study released yesterday shows that in just 5 years fans have gone from describing the sport as “Exciting” to “Boring” and that the more things change, the more things stay the same. The 17-page report, which polled more than 200,000 fans of the sport, also revealed that fans are growing older and many fondly […]

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Williams-Cosworth FW07D

A Formula 1 study released yesterday shows that in just 5 years fans have gone from describing the sport as “Exciting” to “Boring” and that the more things change, the more things stay the same.

The 17-page report, which polled more than 200,000 fans of the sport, also revealed that fans are growing older and many fondly remember an era that didn’t go over so well in its time.

The study was conducted by the Grand Prix Drivers Association and Motorsport.com, and polled more than 215,000 fans from nearly 200 countries.

Among some of the more surprising responses were the fans’ favorite driver (Kimi Raikkonen), their favorite team (Ferrari) and their favorite era of F1 (2000s). It may not be surprising considering the average age of an F1 fan is 37 years old — the approximate wheelhouse for the Schumacher era. The winningest driver in F1 history finished second in a list of all-time drivers behind Ayrton Senna and ahead of Alain Prost.

While the report may serve as a warning for F1 bosses that the sport is growing dull, uncompetitive and too expensive, it’s very possible that the same sentiment was prevalent 20 years ago.

More than 30 percent of respondents said the 2000-era cars were their favorite (they were panned in their time), 89 percent said the sport needs to be more competitive (despite selecting one of the most-dominant drivers of his era) and the fan’s favorite team is the very expensive, very closed-door, very dominant Scuderia Ferrari.

Among the other interesting answers:

  • Only slightly more than half of respondents think a budget cap would be a good idea (54 percent);
  • Only 40 percent think the Drag Reduction System for passing has worked;
  • Four out of five surveyed think there should be more than one tire manufacturer in F1;
  • Nearly three out of four surveyed say the sound and power of F1 engines are important;
  • Less than half (45 percent) say F1 has the best drivers, although 88 percent say F1 needs to feature the best drivers;
  • And only 60 percent say F1 is still the pinnacle of motorsport.

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