The Mastretta MXT is not very well-known outside of Top Gear buffs who recall Jeremy Clarkson giving the MXT an incredibly hard time for its Mexican heritage. Of course we all know Jeremy is a shock jock more than a motor head these days, so his opinion aside the MXT slots in right behind the Doking as one the more interesting cars on display in Los Angeles. The MXT is the first sports car designed and built-in Mexico, but rather than trying to dethrone Corvette or Mustang, Mastretta is going for the niche market of small, light kit cars. Yes, kit cars. At least north of the border…
Fiat’s 500 may be flopping early in the game, but then, what do you expect from a car with barely 100 horsepower? Though I’m sure the Cinquecento is better with a stick shift, my brief time in an autobox version left me feeling that Fiat’s italophile morsel could use considerably more brio. Well, consider the problem solved, as the 160 HP Abarth version has finally been shown in US-market spec, and sales should start sometime early next year. And based on European reactions to the Abarth, it should be a little firecracker. So, enthusiasm solved… now Fiat just needs to do something about its high prices, uninspiring fuel economy and wretched marketing. Then everything will be just fine… although I still wouldn’t hold my breath for 50k units per year.
Say what you want about Saab fans, the guys have some dedication. At a time when most have finally accepted the fact that Saab is at the end of the line, Saab’s hard-core “dead-enders” are taking up their social media arms to rescue their beloved brand. After all they have a perfect opportunity: after months of wading through a quagmire, uncertain whether to support Victor Muller, Vladimir Antonov, or one of Saab’s Chinese suitors, all Saab fans can now rally against their old enemy, GM. Long blamed for Saab’s decline despite the fact that the brand’s peak sales came under its ownership, GM has long been the bête noire for Saabistas. And with GM now taking the wheel of Saab’s fate, Saab’s rabid fans have taken over GM’s Facebook wall, posting images of their favorite Saabs and demanding The General “let Saab go.” Will it be enough to convince GM to go against its carefully-crafted Chinese relationships and interests by giving Saab carte blanche to ship its technology wherever its new Chinese masters want? Don’t count on it. But for the moment GM has to sit through the online equivalent of an “Occupy” protest.
Americans may no longer be as completely obsessed with road travel as they once were, but for first-time visitors to the USA, a round-the-nation roadtrip is always the ultimate fantasy. And really, what better way is there to appreciate the great expanse and diversity of this great nation than by car? Luckily for those of us without the time, money or reliable transportation to discover America by highway, we can now get a taste of the magic in an internet-attention-span-friendly morsel: five minutes, fifteen seconds. Someone named Bryan DeFrees condensed a 12,225 mile-long road trip in a giant loop across the US into this film, making one of life’s epic adventures available from your desk or smartphone. Warning: Video may cause sudden desire to “hit the road”…
[via: Laughing Squid]
Though we owe Jalopnik a few well-deserved raspberries for this week’s inane tease-n-reveal of some wildly overhyped and under-delivering “renderings” of the 2014 C7 Corvette (look it up if you must), we’ve actually got to tip our hats to the Gawker site for finding a truly relevant petition at the White House website. The petition’s goal?
Stop using Homeland Security funds to seize imported vehicles, and change the DOT/EPA exemption to 15 years.
The Department of Homeland Security spends a shockingly disproportionate amount of its budget not on security initiatives, but on customs seizures. In particular, importers of grey-market vehicles have been targeted by monies taxpayers have intended to be used to secure our country against terrorism and terrorist activity. We call upon the Executive Branch to immediately cease this wasteful activity, and furthermore to change the DOT/EPA exemption time on grey-market vehicles from 25 years to 15 years (to match the vehicle regulations of Canada), recognizing that the 25-year rule was enacted due to support from special interests such as Mercedes Benz North America.
This is the kind of cause that we can absolutely get behind. In fact, if TTAC and Jalopnik combined can’t get under 22,000 readers to sign it… well, it will be Jalopnik’s fault. They’re a much bigger site. Seriously though, please sign this. There’s no guarantee that this will change anything, but as long as future generations can grow believing that they too might be able to someday import some awesomely clapped-out foreign jalopy that will demand all of their spare time and money just to stay running, well… the world just might become a better place.
Done signing the petition? Why not tell us what 15 year-old car you would import if you could?
Drivers cannot be pulled over if they peel out from an intersection with a bit of tire squeal, Alaska’s second-highest court ruled Thursday. In countries like Australia, a similar chirp of the tires could lead to the impounding of the vehicle under “anti-hoon” laws that generate millions in revenue. A three-judge panel in The Last Frontier was more forgiving when considering the fate of Vernon Burnett who was pulled over after midnight on September 20, 2009.
Alaska State Trooper Lucas Altepeter saw Burnett’s truck stop, then spin its tires one-third of the way through the intersection while turning left in the city of Bethel. Burnett made no driving errors, but Trooper Altepeter decided to stop him anyway, as he had “never seen somebody accidentally lose traction and spin their tires as fast and as far as this particular vehicle did.” The trooper believed he could write a citation for the tire spinning alone. A district court judge agreed, saying the the spinning was sufficient proof of negligent driving. The appellate court sided with Burnett.
Garth Stein is a better driver than you. Really. In 2003, he won the SCCA Northwest points championship in his Spec Miata before a crash while driving in the rain, no less, ended those Senna dreams. The novel that sprang from those experiences is a lot like his little Miata: a bit cutesy on the outside but equipped with such a perfect balance of heart and engineering that you can’t help but go back for more. Maybe that’s why it’s been on the New York Times best-seller list for over 120 weeks and Patrick Dempsey, more race car driver than actor now, has picked it up for the big screen.
Reuters reports that GM Europe President Nick Reilly is retiring just as his successor predicts a slowdown the European auto market in the turmoil of the Euro crisis. Replacing Reilly is Opel’s CEO, Karl-Friedrich Stracke, who just last week told Automotive News [sub]
We expect that the automobile market in Europe will experience a painful cooling, and we expect a significant shrinking of the market.
And as if slow sales projections weren’t bad enough, Opel also faces a tough union boss in Klaus Franz, who is pushing for ever more production or not just Opels but Chevies as well, in the Euro zone according to AN [sub]. But despite the challenges facing Stracke, he’s still got a song in his heart… in the tune of GT. Though GM has no lightweight rear-drive platform to draw on, and in spite of all the gathering storm clouds, Stracke tells Auto Motor und Sport that
I can well imagine a car like the Manta, but with new technology and a new design. I could also very well imagine a proper Opel GT which recalls our classic model of 1968.
Ludicrous teasing? Possibly. An understandable escape from the depressing reality of mid-debt-crisis Europe? Definitely. I mean, what would you rather imagine, a cascading collapse of confidence in sovereign debt, or the scenario depicted above? Yeah, that’s what we thought…
We’ve already seen what Toyota’s forthcoming FT-86 looks like (basically), and now that the spec sheet has been leaked [via ft86club.com] there’s really not much more suspense left around the new rear-drive sports coupe. In case you don’t read Japanese, here are the basics:
HP: 147kw (200ps) / 200hp @7000rpm
Torque: 205nm (151 lb/ft) @ 6600rpm
Weight: 1210kg (2662 pounds)
Of course, that’s for a low-spec, manual transmission version, which rides on 16 inch wheels. Top-spec versions with an automatic transmission will weigh as much as 2,755 lbs. Toys for the top-spec version include LED headlights, leather steering wheel, 6 speakers audio and sport pedals… but then, this is all JDM spec anyway. Since the FT-86 will be coming to the US as a Scion, it’s tough to predict how the spec sheet will be structured. Still, the basics are there… and they look tempting (and in line with what the car’s chief engineer has told us). Now we just need to drive the thing!