I’m not a “tuner” kinda guy. There, I said it. It’s a load off my mind. It’s not that I don’t like extra power, or a different suspension tune, I just prefer parts made by the company that made my car and I like the car to look “stock.”
A case in point was my 2006 Volvo V70R. I kept the factory exhaust tips but jammed in a racing cat, different muffler and I fiddled with the suspension. I didn’t lower the V70R — I raised it. [Say what?] My V70R is a tale for a different time, but I mention it because when I got an email invitation from Shelby, I almost deleted it. Fortunately, my cousin, a rabid collector of classic Shelbys swore he’d saw my nuts off convinced me to fly to Vegas to check out Shelby’s latest wares.
Many in the Volkswagen diesel community are fanatical about their fuel economy and are understandably angry that a fix for the current emissions scandal may see them lose fuel economy in order to lower NOx output. The aftermarket community has provided modifications for the DPF and Adblue systems in the past, meaning there’s good chance they’ll provide parts and tuning to revert any changes Volkswagen may implement on the affected models.
Having royally pissed off all of cyclist-dom with a tone-deaf, multi-brand ad in college newspapers, GM just so happens to have a concept car for the SEMA tuner show featuring a mountain bike. Not that the two are in any way related though, as NASCAR racer Ricky Carmichael is the creative force behind the concept. The 15-time American Motorcycle Association champion explains in a Chevy press release
The car looks so cool, colorful and fun to drive. I live my life on the go and this Sonic really represents that active lifestyle and my desire to have fun when I’m off the race track.
See? Cycling is cool… as a hobby. On the other hand, maybe the bike just a way to escape the photoshopped beach when this slammed Sonic inevitably gets stuck in the sand. Or perhaps it’s there as a reminder that even if you want to drive a Sonic you may be stuck on a bike, as Automotive News [sub] reports that GM has to idle production of the subcompact for two weeks over a parts shortage. Either way, it’s an improvement on shaming cyclists into buying cars.
One of most common complaints that traditional “car guys” have about the modern auto industry is that cars have become so complex and computerized that repairs and modifications have become too complex for their mechanical skillset. But, on the other end of the car guy spectrum, EV enthusiasts are taking over the mantle of the homebrew automotive modifications. The New York Times reports that Nissan Leaf owners are taking the lead to fix issues with the first mass-market electric car, creating more reliable state-of-charge indicators and rapid-chargers, tipping the balance of power from the manufacturer back to the savvy, hands-on consumer. And as EV enthusiasts build communities, share their experiments and improve vehicles like the Leaf, automakers like Nissan are listening.
Despite the antipathy between old-school auto enthusiasts and their new-wave EV counterparts, these two groups have more in common than you might realize… which can only be good news for the larger automotive culture.
I’m no fan of tuned cars, particularly the garish, over-the-top bodykit jobs that seem to curse the high end of the European sportscar market. And yet, when I saw these pictures of the new Porsche 991, as tuned by the Russian house TopCar, something strange occurred to me: this was the first picture of the new 991 that I could instantly recognize as the new model. And then I read, over at Pistonheads, that the 991 will be sold with only minor design changes through 2025, a 14-year lifespan for a model that’s barely distinguishable from its predecessor. And all of a sudden, this garish Russian tune-job started looking a lot better. It may not be subtly tasteful, but there’s an undeniable hunger to its flared-and-scooped styling. It’s trying to be something different, while Porsche’s design evolution has ground to halt. We hear that Ford, which has enjoyed great success working a retro groove with the last couple of Mustangs, is “moving on” to craft an entirely new, non-retro Mustang for the next generation. It seems that we’re going to have to wait about 14 more years for Porsche to similarly realize the benefits of making its flagship a “living document.” In the meantime, if you want a 991 that looks like it has moved with the times, you may just have to look at the aftermarket…
The source of today’s Quote Of The Day, a BMW M Division engineer, is clearly not a native English speaker, but he reveals just where performance cars like the new M5 are going when he says:
More and more demand is from our test engineers from the referring(?) departments and they come over and 80%, 90% are only working on the electronic systems. The other 10, 20 percent are working at the car, under the car….
Of course, the M engineers aren’t developing a car from the ground up here, but it’s still amazing that the workload is so unevenly weighted towards electronic rather than, for lack of a better term, “greasy hands” work.
Since cementing its premium-retro-cutesy positioning in the marketplace, MINI’s been leveraging its two platforms into a niche-munching binge. Soon the MINI lineup will range from cozy Coupe to two-door “Sport Activity Vehicle,” and will include two convertibles, multiple versions of the two-door hatche, two-and-a-half-door hatch, and four door SUV. So what’s missing? A Moke? A Delivery van? What about a re-interpretation of the old Mini Pick Up? You and I may feel like the MINI brand already has plenty of niche offerings, thanks, but here is indisputable proof (found in a supermarket parking lot) that the market thinks MINI hasn’t chased enough niches. Carry on then, lads…