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. Sat, 04 Jul 2015 15:51:01 +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 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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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.

15 - 1992 BMW 750iL Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 01 - 1992 BMW 750iL Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1992 BMW 750iL Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1992 BMW 750iL Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1992 BMW 750iL Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1992 BMW 750iL Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1992 BMW 750iL Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1992 BMW 750iL Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1992 BMW 750iL Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1992 BMW 750iL Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1992 BMW 750iL Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1992 BMW 750iL Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1992 BMW 750iL Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1992 BMW 750iL Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1992 BMW 750iL Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1992 BMW 750iL Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1992 BMW 750iL Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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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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In Which Our Author Narrowly Missed a Trip to Jail http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/author-narrowly-missed-trip-jail/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/author-narrowly-missed-trip-jail/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 13:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1104377 Or, as I call it, Virginia is stupid… Last month I spent a fantastic weekend at Pittsburg International Race Complex working my part time gig coaching in supercars. PittsRace is a great facility, lots of runoff, wonderful employees and a pretty great go-kart track. If you swing by, tell Mikey that Mental sends his best. My […]

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Or, as I call it, Virginia is stupid…

Last month I spent a fantastic weekend at Pittsburg International Race Complex working my part time gig coaching in supercars. PittsRace is a great facility, lots of runoff, wonderful employees and a pretty great go-kart track. If you swing by, tell Mikey that Mental sends his best.

My drive home was dictated by WAZE to route me through roughly 90 miles of the Commonwealth of Virginia. I emerged on the VA side of the East River Mountain tunnel and allowed the weight of my SUV to pull me down the hill.

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Yes, I was speeding. I usually am. I learned to drive in Atlanta, and I live here now. We drive fast, as do most metropolitan areas. 15 over will not earn you a second glance in the ATL, unless you have Alabama plates and it’s college football season.

My speed had crept up to around 85. That’s when I spotted the white Ford Taurus Police Special. I was busted. On the rare occasions this happens, I do not feign innocence, I pull over and avoid a prolonged dance. Usually I am stopped before they have exerted effort. I pull far over, turn off the engine, my sunglasses come off, my hands stay in view and I make eye contact in the mirror as they approach.

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The good sergeant informed me I was clocked at 84 in a 70. I acknowledged my egregious ways and dutifully handed over my required documents. When he returned to my vehicle, he let me know that I would only be cited for 80. I credit my retired military plates and polite demeanor for this grace on the trooper’s part. He also informed me this would reduce the charge from reckless driving to simple speeding.

Reckless driving? For 14 over? Even in my home state of Georgia 85 only gets you branded a “Super Speeder.” That adds $200 on top of the actual ticket in a clear fundraising measure.

After I told this tale, my friends informed me of how lucky I was the trooper had mercy. I didn’t realize that reckless driving in Virgina is a jail-worthy offence. They linked me to this gem I missed last year in the midst of my retirement.

For years I have argued that speed enforcement stopped being about safety and became revenue generation during the double nickel era. But jail time is not revenue generation. Jail time equates to an expense. Mr. George paid $400 in fines and court costs and the state paid out over $300 to imprison him. Maybe the lawmakers are just that militant in Virginia – after all, radar detectors are illegal there despite an almost 30-year-old Supreme Court ruling that says different. Maybe Virginia is willing to commit their tax revenues to ensure safer roads. My research shows Virginia more or less in the middle of safest states with regards to motor vehicle accidents. So I was puzzled.

Then I returned from another trip. Waiting in my mail were letters from 5 separate attorneys’ willing to represent me, even if I had already paid the fine. Two more showed up this week. They had gotten my citation from the public records. The first one I opened offered to represent me for only $99 and guaranteed a price match if I found a cheaper lawyer. $99 for a $125 fine. Even Mr. George hired an attorney, so in addition to the $400, he had to pay that bill as well.

There it is. So the good, hardworking law enforcement officers in Virginia have now been reduced from toll collectors for Virginia’s municipalities to rainmakers for their law firms.

In the future, I will be avoiding aiding to the cause of both, as well as avoiding the entirety of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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Bark’s Bites: The FiST Is a Rollover Risk, and Some People Don’t Want You to Know http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/barks-bites-fist-rollover-risk-people-dont-want-know/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/barks-bites-fist-rollover-risk-people-dont-want-know/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 12:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1105169 The year was 2008. I was working the course at the SCCA Toledo Pro Solo during the Ladies’ class runs. For those of you who don’t know what a Pro Solo is like, I’ll try to explain quickly. It’s a mirrored autocross course with two competitors, one on each side. Instead of being waved onto […]

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The year was 2008. I was working the course at the SCCA Toledo Pro Solo during the Ladies’ class runs. For those of you who don’t know what a Pro Solo is like, I’ll try to explain quickly. It’s a mirrored autocross course with two competitors, one on each side. Instead of being waved onto the course by a flagger, like in a regular autocross, there’s a drag tree that starts the drivers. It’s the closest thing to “racing” that you’ll find at an autocross.

As I watched one particular pairing of cars leave the line, I noticed that one of the cars, a Mini Cooper S, was getting up on two wheels in the first 3-cone slalom. As the car rocked back and forth from the left two wheels to the right and then back to the left, the front left wheel bent and caught the cement, tripping the car and causing it to flip forward. It bounced off of its roof, and ended up landing on its wheels, facing back toward the starting line.

It was the ultimate case of jamais vu. I had been autocrossing for about three years, and I had watched hundreds of runs, but I had never seen a car flip before. That sort of thing just isn’t supposed to happen in autocross – it’s supposed to be a totally safe way to participate in motorsports. I froze where I stood for several seconds before I snapped back to reality and ran as quickly as I could across the airfield to the car where the young lady who was driving had exited and fallen to her knees, screaming and keening like a banshee.

My brother had been working the other side of the course, and he and I were the first people to arrive at the car. We were also the only two people to really see what had actually happened. It was a clear case of equipment failure – the wheel had bent under extreme load. However, the wheels had been sold by the Tire Rack, and their on-site representatives were quick to denounce the incident as “driver error.” People were screaming in each other’s faces. It was an ugly, ugly incident.

It was equally ugly on the autocross forums. Amazingly, people who were hundreds of miles away from the incident all of a sudden became experts on physics and driving dynamics. For whatever reason, people just didn’t want to admit that the combination of a high-grip, concrete surface, R-compound tires, and a vehicle with a high center of gravity was a recipe for disaster.

Well, it’s happened again, and this time it’s happened with a car that nobody, least of all me, wants to admit may be flawed. But I’ll be the first to say it to a mass audience: the Ford Fiesta ST may not be safe to autocross, and you deserve to know.

Three-wheeling the FiST isn't hard to do

The SCCA already banned the non-ST version of the Fiesta from street class autocross due to its high center of gravity back in January, citing it as a rollover risk. The ST meets the SCCA’s CoG guidelines, which are basically just a mathematical formula. But when I got my Fiesta ST, I received a few warnings from autocross friends of mine, all very hush-hush, Facebook Messenger types of warnings: “Be careful autocrossing that car. Those things are easy to get up on two wheels. And I’ve heard of people rolling them, too.” Nobody ever gave me any specifics, just that they had “heard” of incidents with them. A Google or Bing search for “Fiesta ST rollover” produces no results.

But that hasn’t kept the video at the top of this post from making the rounds of the autocross community. Eric Simmons, well-known as a serial car buyer, posted this video from an autocross at Hersheypark on November 9th, 2014, and it immediately become the subject of several forum threads. As you can see at about the :22 mark in the video, Simmons gets his Fiesta ST up on two wheels in a tight right hand turn, causing him to miss the next gate. The video, while somewhat terrifying, isn’t exactly news in the autocross community at this point.

The news that a Fiesta ST was rolled over the weekend, however, is. Word is that an autocrosser at a Texas autocross site rolled his ST in a fairly standard ninety-degree turn at relatively high speeds. A few friends of mine posted about the event on Facebook, some of them specifically to warn me because they knew that I have autocrossed mine before and plan to do it again in the future.

All of them were contacted and asked to take down their posts, either by their local SCCA regions or by the non-SCCA sanctioning club where the event took place. The obvious question is: Why?

Are they protecting the driver who rolled it? Possibly. It’s not unheard of for an autocrosser to have a contact-related incident during an event, load his damaged car onto the trailer, dump it in a ditch somewhere, and call his insurance company.

Are they protecting the SCCA and other autocrossing organizations? Eh, maybe. If too much press gets out about an isolated incident such as this one, then it could cause regions to lose their dearly needed autocrossing sites. The SCCA goes to great lengths to make sure that people know that autocross isn’t a “race” (despite the constant whining of its membership) because what parking lot owner would be dumb enough to have people racing cars on his property? The insurance risk is already fairly high for these sites, and nervous sponsors and site owners might just decide it’s not worth the risk if they were to hear about somebody rolling a freaking Ford Fiesta.

Are they trying to protect the Ford Fiesta ST’s reputation? We might be getting closer to the mark. The FiST has proven to be a very popular autocrosser nationwide. It’s taken the top spot in H Street class at nearly every national event in 2015 and has made up eighty to ninety percent of the field. It’s cheap, you can get inexpensive wheel/tire combos, it’s easy to modify, and it’s hella fun to drive. If word gets out that the FiST is a high rollover risk, then a fairly significant number of people might drop out of autocrossing, at least until they can replace the FiST with something else. The SCCA can’t afford that.

The problem seems to begin when you start messing with things that affect the grip level of the ST. In Simmons’ case, he only changed two things about the car, but they were significant: a stickier tire and a smaller wheel diameter, both of which change the behavior of the car in ways that can’t be perfectly replicated at Dearborn’s testing grounds. There’s talk that the smaller diameter of the FiST’s front sway bar (it’s actually smaller than the regular Fiesta’s) might be the culprit – any serious national-level autocrosser will replace it nearly immediately.

As you can see in the photo above, I have gotten my FiST up on two and three wheels several times, but I’m not a rookie, either. Rumor has it that the Texas incident occurred in a 40 mph sharp turn with a novice driver who had replaced his stock Bridgestone tires with the new RE71R, a tire that pulls more lateral Gs than the racing tires of yore. The car got unsettled in a corner, but instead of sliding laterally, like it normally would on the OEM tires, the tires gripped and the narrow sway bar couldn’t handle it, so the car started acting less like a car and more like a bicycle. As a novice driver, he likely got freaked out and dialed in more steering, which caused the roll.

Honestly, I’m not too worried about it for myself. I’m not a “fast hands” type of autocrosser, so I typically don’t unsettle my car that much. But, I do think that these sorts of incidents should be discussed and shared, not shoved into a closet. If the FiST is Unsafe At Any Speed (copyright Ralph Nader), how will those who think that the reputation of the “sport” and the clubs should take precedence over the safety of particpants feel the next time a FiST ends up wrong side up? There’s no legal obligation to share information, but shouldn’t there be a moral one?

I’m not going to tell you that you shouldn’t autocross your Fiesta ST, but I am going to tell you that there’s a risk, and that you should be aware of it. The rest is up to you.

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Piston Slap: What’s so Hellabad about Hellaflush? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/piston-slap-whats-hellabad-hellaflush/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/piston-slap-whats-hellabad-hellaflush/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 11:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1100985   Casey writes: Hello Sajeev, I had a coworker who had an older Acura NSX that was lowered. He complained about having to buy new tires because they were worn on the inside edge (down to the belts!). He had, what I thought to be, extreme negative camber due to an improper lowering. He said […]

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Nice, Slammed, eXtreme? (photo courtesy: www.nsxprime.com)

Casey writes:

Hello Sajeev,

I had a coworker who had an older Acura NSX that was lowered. He complained about having to buy new tires because they were worn on the inside edge (down to the belts!). He had, what I thought to be, extreme negative camber due to an improper lowering. He said it was supposed to be like that. I have seen other cars running the negative camber and I’ve seen cars that were lowered without. So question, is there a reason to run extreme negative camber or is this just a bad lowering job? 

Sajeev answers:

I agree with your assessment. Very few, if any, performance cars come from the factory aligned aggressively enough to wear tires that unevenly. I reckon that NSX was lowered, tweaked to reflect well upon the Stancenation. To live the Hellaflush lifestyle! To embrace the image of performance, without necessarily improving actual performance.

No seriously, facades are awesome like that. Because I’d be a hypocrite if I said otherwise.

New Cadillacs and Lincolns = Cooler in Houston

Now to make inferences, and foolishly justify them.

There’s always a reason for this: a subtle lowering can improve performance and stance at the same time. On an NSX? Probably not, since it isn’t a buffalo-butted, blunt nosed family sedan jacked up to the sky by the factory. I reckon the fastest NSX on a less-than-perfect track has the factory ride height with a slightly more aggressive wheel alignment. A hellaflush NSX will lose…if that was the point.

It’s totally not the point. We all have a need to look cool, even those who claim otherwise in the comments section below. To wit, I put 1.5″ front lowering springs (factory spring rate) from these guys on my Fox Cougar to both look cool with my 17×8.5″ reproduction Cobra wheels and retain factory-like ride/handling traits. The rears have a small (1/8″) spacer because of the mishmash between wheel offset and new axles from a rear disc brake conversion. All this effort for a modest lowering job is important on a suspension as half-baked as a Fox body Ford.

I avoided the “improper” or “bad lowering job” you mentioned. Well, at least I think so.

Some folks think more aggressive suspension and wheel/tire modifications add extra cool factor to their lives. Perhaps I might be one of them, even if I bristle at the sight of most Hellaflush rides. But Hellaflush riders certainly don’t give a shit about what you or I think.

So let your coworker buddy enjoy his cool looking NSX. If you can’t resist the urge to twist the knife, take him to a track day and let serious racers give him an education that he might deserve. Or not.

UPDATE: TTAC commentator “Sketch” corrected me about the NSX’s factory tire wear issues, sadly my Google-fu failed us all. My apologies. 

 

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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TTAC Open Forum: Let’s Talk about the Elephant in the Room (and Everything Else) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/ttac-open-forum-lets-talk-about-the-elephant-in-the-room-and-everything-else/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/ttac-open-forum-lets-talk-about-the-elephant-in-the-room-and-everything-else/#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 21:15:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1105009 On average, TTAC runs 12 stories a day consisting of features, reviews and news. On average, virtually none of those are about TTAC. Let’s change that. It’s not goodbye As most of our loyal readers have noticed, Cameron has left the news position. However, this is not the end of Cameron’s tenure at TTAC. In her […]

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microphone

On average, TTAC runs 12 stories a day consisting of features, reviews and news. On average, virtually none of those are about TTAC.

Let’s change that.

It’s not goodbye
As most of our loyal readers have noticed, Cameron has left the news position. However, this is not the end of Cameron’s tenure at TTAC.

In her heartfelt letter to our readers yesterday, Cameron outlined the main stumbling block with having her take the reins in the news editor position: her lack of a driver’s license.

“But, how does a driver’s license have anything to do with news?” you may ask. It’s simple, really. The news editor is now also responsible for reviews and we may send that person on a trip here and there. Being able to drive is essential to the new role.

Cameron will be back, hopefully sooner rather than later, as she details getting her license as an adult. After this, hopefully she will become a regular fixture at TTAC once again, but that’s more so in her hands than mine.

If there’s one thing I can say about Cameron, though, it’s that she is probably the hardest working writer … scratch that … hardest working person I’ve ever met. Period. I’ve never seen anyone churn out the sheer volume of copy she does while still keeping the quality of said copy as high as virtually everyone else who writes for TTAC.

And truth be told, I completely stopped editing her pieces after a while. Instead, I would just enjoy them like you all did – as news and a break from the daily grind of work.

Say hello to newsbot v2.43.1 Aaron Cole
Denver, Colorado resident Aaron Cole will be taking the reins of the freshly assembled Ikea news desk.

Aaron brings with him 12 years of journalism experience with 5 of those in the automotive world. His responsibilities will include news, op-eds and reviews. He will also help me not make a fool out of myself by editing my pieces before the B&B rip them apart. While I’m on the road, Aaron will act as managing editor.

Please say hello to Aaron. I promise he’s not a robot.

TTAC is growing and we need to keep it that way
Things are looking up for TTAC. Over the last month or so, TTAC readership has increased. If TTAC were an automaker, we would publish a release today about all the gains, breaking it down by article type and opening up our production numbers for interpretation. Instead, I will tell you one very simple, small bit of information that will explain the decisions made above.

Regurgitated news is dead.

TTAC and others crank out copy based on press releases from automakers and other companies involved in the industry. The majority of us automotive journalists start our careers this way as stringers. We do it cheaply too, so as to get a byline and point to it as proof of prior work. Think of it as a character-building exercise.

Unfortunately, it’s this content that also rarely resonates with readers. Only one out of 20 or 30 news pieces garners the same attention as an average feature piece. As a response to that, TTAC will be digging deeper going forward.

Our goal will be to provide a perspective in every story that isn’t offered anywhere else. Unless it’s a breaking news item of significant importance or a piece of information that would be dangerous if omitted, we won’t cover it unless there’s a story to be told. The days of simply copying information from a press release or deriving a story from another article solely so we have another headline will eventually come to an end. They will be replaced by long(er)-form news features.

Obviously, this isn’t a change that’s going to happen overnight. Sit tight, relax, and continue to enjoy the TTAC you know tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that.

Now it’s your turn
The mic is now all yours. Please feel free to sound off in the comments. Aaron and I will attempt to reply to each and every one. Also, don’t limit yourselves to the topics above. Everything is on the table today.

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Neighbors: Corvette Museum Motorsport Park is Too Damn Loud http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/neighbors-corvette-museum-motorsport-park-is-too-damn-loud/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/neighbors-corvette-museum-motorsport-park-is-too-damn-loud/#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 21:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1105049 On Monday, officials served the administrators of the Corvette Museum Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky with notice that the neighbors around the track think the fledgling raceway is too damn loud. According to Bowling Green Daily News (via Hemmings), neighbors complained about the track’s noise, although no specific decibel limit was specifically outlined in the track’s permit to operate. According […]

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1984vette

On Monday, officials served the administrators of the Corvette Museum Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky with notice that the neighbors around the track think the fledgling raceway is too damn loud.

According to Bowling Green Daily News (via Hemmings), neighbors complained about the track’s noise, although no specific decibel limit was specifically outlined in the track’s permit to operate.

According to Mitch Wright, general manager for the motorsports park, track officials met with the city-county’s planning commission today. The track held a meeting Monday night with neighbors and local officials to discuss noise coming from the track.

“This is about us coming together and coming up with meaningful solutions,” Wright said.

The track has operated since last fall, although this is the first official violation they’ve received from neighbors. Wright said in the past neighbors would complain — or not complain — about noise from the track depending on the type of cars or wind conditions from the day. He also stated the motorsports park is building “significant” structures at the track to help mitigate sound escaping, including a 30-foot garage to shield neighbors from the noise.

The track, which is part of the National Corvette Museum complex is a significant tourism draw (read: free tax money.)

“Obviously there’s a number of businesses and industry in this area. From a tourism standpoint, we have a pretty serious effect,” Wright said.

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Chart Of The Day: U.S. Automaker Market Share In America – June 2015 YTD http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/chart-day-u-s-automaker-market-share-america-june-2015-ytd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/chart-day-u-s-automaker-market-share-america-june-2015-ytd/#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 20:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1104993 General Motors generated 17.7% of the U.S. auto industry’s new vehicle sales in the first-half of 2015, a slight decline from the 17.8% market share earned by GM in the same period one year ago. GM, the top-selling automobile manufacturer in the United States, posted a 3.4% year-over-year sales improvement through the first six months […]

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TTAC June 2015 YTD auto brand market share chart

General Motors generated 17.7% of the U.S. auto industry’s new vehicle sales in the first-half of 2015, a slight decline from the 17.8% market share earned by GM in the same period one year ago.

GM, the top-selling automobile manufacturer in the United States, posted a 3.4% year-over-year sales improvement through the first six months of 2015, but that was a full percentage point off the pace set by the industry as a whole.

Similarly, Ford Motor Company, American Honda, Hyundai-Kia, and the Volkswagen Group all failed to grow their sales at the rate of the steadily growing American auto industry. The overall auto industry is beginning to appear capable of selling 17 million vehicles for the first time since 2001, when sales slipped 1.3% from the massive achievement of 2000.

On the other side of the coin, Toyota (including Lexus and Scion) have improved their market share from 14.3% in the first six months of 2014 to 14.4% this year. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, meanwhile, now owns 12.8% of the U.S. new vehicle market, up from 12.6% at this point last year.

America’s top-selling vehicle in the month of June was Ford’s F-Series, but it was roundly outsold by the twins from General Motors, Chevrolet’s Silverado and the GMC Sierra. The Toyota Camry led all cars for the fifth consecutive month. The Honda CR-V likewise expanded its lead in the SUV/crossover sales race. Total June auto sales were up 4% to just under 1.48 million units.

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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