States Begin Dealing With Driving Data, Right-to-Repair Laws
In reading this website, you’ve no doubt come across paranoid rants about automotive companies vacuuming up your personal data as connected cars become the norm — often written by yours truly. Frequently bleak, they address a multitude of concerns we believe will only get worse before they can get better.
A large part of that has to do with automakers seeing the potential of leveraging customer data, like so many tech companies have before them. But elected (and unelected) officials also seem to have a loose grasp of the technology and its potential ramifications. When the Department of Transportation initially approved self-driving vehicles for public testing, the guidelines were loose and largely dependent upon self-reporting — few wanted to stand in the way of developing systems that might someday save lives.
However, manufacturers are now beginning to issue over-the-air updates, perpetual internet connectivity, gamification, and in-car marketplaces (complete with advertisements). While the new technology has opened up new doors for customer experiences and corporate revenue, it’s accelerating at a pace that’s difficult to track. As a result, lawmakers in Massachusetts and California are starting to get antsy. The former hopes to address how data will be handled in accordance with the state’s right-to-repair laws. The latter is more directly concerned with privacy.
Ford Wants You to Get Jacked
While Ford Motor Company doesn’t have any trouble offloading F-150s and Rangers on a truck-hungry populace, there’s always another way to sweeten the pot. To boost the appeal of its full- and mid-size offerings, the automaker will now offer off-road levelling kits, perhaps saving a unlucky pickup from scraping its chin.
Developed by Ford Performance Parts, the kits are a dealer-installed affair, offering buyers a way to leave the store with a touch more brawn.
SVE Will Bring Back the Typhoon If GMC Gets the Blazer
Sleeper enthusiasts have a space in their heart reserved for General Motors. While the company’s most famous performance vehicles have typically been difficult to ignore, there was an era where some of its meanest models flew below the radar. This peaked in 1991 with the GMC Syclone pickup and Typhoon SUV — both of which played host to a 4.3-liter LB4 turbo V6 that could give high-end exotics a run for their money in a drag race.
While each of GMC’s unassuming monsters had a tragically short lifespan, evaporating by 1993, Specialty Vehicle Engineering (SVE) announced it would be bringing back the Syclone as a limited-edition “modern classic” earlier this year. Now the company is saying it’ll happily do the same for the Typhoon if General Motors decides to hand over the Blazer to GMC.
QOTD: Totally Embarrassing Mods?
The SEMA show kicks off today in Vegas, not that any of the general public will be allowed to wander inside the convention center halls. Bizarrely, given the amount of money spent in the aftermarket every year by real people, SEMA is a trade event and only those toiling in the automotive aftermarket industry are deemed worthy of a badge.
I digress. There’s a very good chance that most of us, especially in our younger years, spend our hard earned cash on very suspect and — in retrospect — totally embarrassing aftermarket gear for our rides.
It's Always Leg Day in This Pedal-powered Audi A4 Avant
It’s an idea that seems stupid and brilliant all at once, and a Dutch firm wants it to find a home in Europe’s passenger cars.
Europeans, often portrayed in films as sexy people with a penchant for rich foods and impeccably fashionable clothing, aren’t immune from the sedentary lifestyles and obesity afflicting their Western compatriots. Commutes eat up a lot of time, and not everyone bikes or takes a train to work — even in insufferably progressive Amsterdam.
Following a request from an inventor looking to free up more exercise time during the day, Dutch engineering firm BPO set about converting an Audi A4 wagon to run on pedal power. The car’s turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder still does the work, but it won’t work if the driver doesn’t break a sweat.
BMW M2 M Performance Parts Concept Hits Goodwood Festival of Speed
While old school BMW enthusiasts love to criticize their favorite brand for spoiling itself with electronic steering and sacrificing fun for technology, proponents of other automakers claim Bavarian Motor Works has flat out ruined itself. However, the truth of the matter is that BMW still offers an array of suburb performance vehicles that many still find highly desirable — especially if their name begins with the letter M.
Even if the brand can’t use “The Ultimate Driving Machine” quite so liberally in 2018, it would be an untruth to suggest the M division is ignoring the well-heeled enthusiast community. But it doesn’t hurt to have a physical reminder, so BMW sent a rolling example of its motorsport catalog to the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
The “M Performance Parts Concept” is based on the lovely little M2, which was recently replaced by the more hardcore M2 Competition, and serves as a reminder that the German automaker has a genuine interest in building highly competent performers — and will help you take them to the next level for a fee.
Toyota and Subaru Might Actually Be Working on a New 86/BRZ Sports Coupe
It was only a few weeks ago that we told everyone a turbocharged Toyobaru would never happen. Chief engineer Tetsuya Tada said Toyota had built the car it wanted and any manner of forced induction would spoil the recipe, necessitating an entirely new platform. Meanwhile, fans of the 86 have been clamoring for more power like they all suddenly transformed into Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor. Well, they’re all about to utter a resounding uuuuaaagh?!, as the two companies may be starting work on new generation — this one with the brawny might they crave.
Rumored for production at Subaru’s assembly plant in Japan’s Gunma Prefecture, the next 86/BRZ is expected to get an uptick in displacement. So what will supposedly replace the naturally aspirated 2.0-liter?
The Toyota 86 Will Never Be Turbocharged, so Shut Up About It
Tetsuya Tada, chief engineer for the Toyota 86 and upcoming Supra, has finally stamped out the possibility of a from-the-factory turbocharged version of the Toyobaru coupe. That’s right, enthusiasts, the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ are incapable of being turbocharged.
According to Tada, installing a turbo on the model’s 2.0-liter Boxer engines would require an entirely new platform. That’s odd, considering every reputable aftermarket company offers a turbo kit for it. Equally strange is the automaker’s total unwillingness to seriously entertain the idea of a turbocharged Toyobaru, even though it knew the public was clamoring for one.
“When we launched 86, I got literally millions of questions from around the world of ‘when would you be launching the turbo version?'” Tada said. “I believe that often times I answered that there won’t be a turbo version, and there were some articles in the media that Mr. Tada doesn’t like a turbo.”
Ditch That Slant Six: Dodge Hellcat Powerplant Is Now Available as a Crate Engine
This should lead to more than a few odd pairings. Mopar, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ performance and aftermarket parts division, will now offer a Dodge SRT Hellcat engine — the company’s 707 horsepower, supercharged 6.2-liter V8 — minus the car.
Dubbed the “Hellcrate,” the warranty-backed engine and associated kit was unveiled Monday ahead of this week’s SEMA show in Las Vegas. This means Mopar fans looking to own a 707-hp beast have other options than just visiting an FCA dealer and signing on the dotted line for a new vehicle.
QOTD: Having Aftermarket Regrets?
This week, the population of Las Vegas will explode with leagues of auto industry people attending this year’s SEMA Show, an extravaganza filled with aftermarket car products and over-the-top custom vehicles.
Pretty much every gearhead on the planet has affixed an accessory or five onto their rig — with varying degrees of success. From underglow lights to themed valve covers, most of us have at least one aftermarket accessory we’ve affixed to a car that we now look back upon with deep regret.
Dear God, Toyota is Building a Souped-up Prius
Toyota is attempting to morph itself into an edgier, bolder, and sexier brand — to varying degrees of success. However, much of the company’s makeover has been purely cosmetic. The exception is Gazoo Racing, the automaker’s motorsport division and new in-house performance arm behind Toyota’s GR-series passenger cars.
Interestingly, Gazoo literally means “image” in Japanese and some of the upgraded models have been about little else. Still, some of the limited edition cars look like hoonable maniacs when compared to the base unit. The supercharged Yaris GRMN (Gazoo Racing Masters of Nürburgring) with over 200 horsepower is a prime example.
Aiming to go more mainstream, Toyota has decided to unfurl a range of GR and GR Sport models that won’t be handicapped by limited production numbers. Among them is the bewildering Prius Prime GR Sport, a hot hatch variant of the economy-minded hybrid. Toyota has officially lost its mind.
QOTD: What Aftermarket Appearance Part Can You Get Away With?
So, yesterday afternoon TTAC author and moderator Corey Lewis decided to scorch our retinas by posting a photo of a very unique Mazda Miata on Slack. A very bad Miata, too.
The image originated from quaint Saint-Jérôme, Quebec, a northern bedroom community of Montreal. In it (photo rights require us to paint you a grim picture), the red NA Miata sported a laundry list of aftermarket add-ons — accessories the owner no doubt felt made his or her Miata the gosh darn hottest Miata around. Like New York’s hottest club, this thing had it all. Fender skirts. Chrome luggage rack. Chrome wheel arch trim. Oh, and a completely nonfunctional continental kit, as all continental kits are these days.
It was a crime against Miatas.
Which leads to the question: what non-factory add-on isn’t a crime?
When 18-Year-Old Auto Upgrades Go Wrong: Forward Collision and Lane Departure Warning System - Advent LDWS100
If there’s anything we’ve learned with this project, it’s something we should have already known but tend to forget: Most projects turn out bigger than first imagined, and some are so large as to be either impossible, or not such a good idea after all — at least for those without the proper tools or knowledge.
Such was the case when we went to install the Advent LDWS100 Advanced Driving Assistance System. This is not to say the Advent isn’t a good device. Or to say that it is. It’s simply to say that we couldn’t get it working, so we don’t know.
Piston Slap: Crystal Clear Thoughts on Headlight Upgrades
TTAC Commentator flipper35 writes:
I have a 2000 Dodge Durango ( wrote about the brakes on it before, all is good with them) and the lights are not the greatest. After replacing the passenger side due to a deer ramming its butt into it, its headlights no longer match. I’ve looked on several Mopar forums and there doesn’t seem to be any consensus on which lights are good — but they can all agree on what is crap.
So, I am willing to spend $300 on a proper headlight upgrade if that’s what it takes. I see a few conversions where you bake the headlights at low temp to release the glue and then put bi-xenon with the flappy shield in with the ballasts and wiring kit. They sound reasonable but there are some other projector-style lights out there that would be less work if they are focused and aligned properly. I’m mechanically inclined but with family and other projects I would rather spend less time on these and more time on replacing stuff like the worn grommets on the electric seat adjustment screws and such. (At 190,000 miles, it needs front suspension bushings, too.)
The 18-Year-Old Auto Upgrade: Head-up Display - Garmin HUD+
A windshield head-up display, or HUD, is a beautiful thing. Capable of displaying navigational guidance, vehicle speed, and other information on the lower part of the windshield and in the driver’s line of sight, HUD systems have become increasingly common on new cars since their first appearance a couple of decades ago.
More recently, a handful of aftermarket suppliers and startups have gotten on the bandwagon, offering devices that pair with a smartphone via Bluetooth to provide similar functionality, even if these devices lack the seamless integration of a factory system.