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!
Here’s hoping your weekend motoring has been a little bit safer than surfboard designer Roberto Ricci’s…
The autoblogosphere is agog this morning over what appears to be yet another leak of a Toyota JDM catalog, this time of the highly anticipated Toyota FT-86 sports coupe. But is this what Toyota’s lightweight, rear-drive sportscar will actually look like? Not exactly:the image above is clearly labeled as a Modelista version, which means it’s been visually tweaked by Toyota’s in-house tuner. On the other hand, if you pull off the Modelista bits, specifically the front fascia and ground effects kit, you’ll find that this model more closely resembles the FT-86 Concept than the FT-86 II Concept, most notably in its proportions. With a more compact, cab-forward look, these images show a car that shares the first Concept’s basic shape with just a hint of the II Concept’s wild wheel arches and sweeping character lines. That comports with what the FT-86’s chief engineer told TTAC in a recent exclusive interview, when he said the initial Concept was “kind of close” and the II Concept was “not close at all.” Another clue that this is the real thing (or close to it): ft86club shows that the interior appears to be similar to mules that were caught testing.
Finally, there’s one key issue with this FT-86 image leak that must be considered: when this car comes stateside, it will be as a Scion FR-S, not a Toyota. Which means it could well be visually tweaked even further for our market, as it transitions to Toyota’s youth brand. In any case, the mystery won’t last long: TTAC’s Bertel Schmitt will be on hand for the FT-86 (and Subaru BRZ) reveal at the upcoming Tokyo Auto Show. Until then, speculate away!
Video of cold-weather prototype testing runs fairly hot-and-cold, to use a rather indulgent metaphor. Often times the footage is deathly dull as test drivers nurse their million-dollar charges through the arctic ice. Other times, however, cold-weather test video gives us some of the best prototype footage, as when BMW’s i3 was caught showing off its rear-drive proclivities, or when its brand-mate the i8 revealed its interesting ergonomics when a test driver had to stop to pee. This video is less revealing, as we not only know about the Boxster’s basic attributes, we’ve actually seen it completely revealed. Still, seeing a not-ready-for-market sportscar flipping its tail out thanks to some injudicious use of the throttle is worth a look… even if you just fast forward to the 1:40 mark to skip the less-intriguing stuff. Did the rumored turbo-four base engine feed someone more torque than they were expecting? Did the driver throw some brakes into the recovery effort, or was that the work of a nanny? There’s also a second, less dramatic incident of ass-end antics at around the 2:07 mark, which the driver catches without the use of brakes…
With both China’s NRDC and Sweden’s NDO appearing unready to approve the Chinese takeover of Saab before a Halloween bankruptcy deadline, it seemed that Saab was properly borked. Without Vladimir Antonov or Gemini Investment Fund to hit up for yet another “bridge loan,” we fully expected to see Saab placed into bankruptcy a week from Monday. But if Saab’s parent company, Swedish Automobile, had found a private equity fund that was gullible enough to rush in where Antonov feared to tread and drop $44m on Spyker… well, we should have known that North Street Capital would be fool enough to get sucked into the Saab maelstrom. And sure enough, Reuters reports that
The private equity firm of racing car enthusiast Alex Mascioli, which bought the luxury sports car business of the Dutch owner of Saab in September, is to invest $70 million in the cash-strapped car maker as Chinese bridge financing looks uncertain.
Here we go… again.
When Buick announced that it would not be rebadging the Opel Insignia OPC as the Buick Regal GS, and that instead of the OPC’s all wheel drive and turbocharged V6 we’d be getting a front-drive turbo four performance model, I was a bit skeptical. On paper, the proposed GS just didn’t seem different enough from the turbo model (which I liked well enough as-is) to elicit much initial enthusiasm. But this is why we drive cars instead of just comparing spec sheets: having spent some time alone with the GS, I’m happy to report that my skepticism was entirely unnecessary.
It’s one thing to see a forthcoming performance-model prototype, say an Audi RS4 Avant or a Porsche 991 Turbo, tearing through the “Green Hell.” But it’s quite another to watch one unreleased prototype pass another camo-clad warrior, previewing autobahn battles that are still a good year away. It should come as little surprise that the new Porsche Turbo was able to get around Audi’s speedwagon by diving inside, but given the Audi’s slower line, the cornering-speed battle is closer than you might think. Besides, try taking the kids to hockey practice in an ‘elfer Turbo…
The guys who hang out at forums comparing turbocharged European hatchbacks that will never come to the US market (and which they wouldn’t buy if they did) have a new hypothetical plaything to consider: the upcoming Mercedes A-Class AMG hatch. 320 HP turning all four wheels is the basic proposition, with these exterior looks and this interior. And if the Golf-body looks just don’t jive with your idea of what makes a Mercedes, imagine the same package in this “baby CLS” body, with extra-large cupholders and other “tuned for American tastes” goodness. Myself? I like the idea of a blinged-out Mercedes STi.