Wednesday, October 31, 2007

VW announces TDI Cup race series.

Volkswagen announced the Jetta TDI Cup racing series at the SEMA show today. VW is no stranger to motorsports, and neither are diesel powered race cars. What will be totally unique about the series is that the cars will be a clean diesel series, with the cars being carbon free.

The cars themselves will all be owned by VW, and will feature the all new 2.0 liter TDI motor. Each car will have 170 Horsepower, with 300 ft lbs of torque. Backed by a 6 speed DSG automatic transmission, 4 wheel ABS disc racing brakes, a mutli link 4 wheel independent racing suspension, and rack and pinion steering.

The races, sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) will have 8 events during the 2008 North American season. This follows after the 2006 GTI Cup series and the New Beetle Cup of 2000. VW also announced a partnership with the SCCA to use Volkswagens as pace cars during the 2008 season.

Official Press Release:

Volkswagen of America, Inc. announced today that it will bring TDI clean diesel technology to select North American race tracks starting in May 2008. The Jetta TDI Cup series will be sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Pro Racing Inc., and will appear at up to eight major racing venues in North America during 2008.
"The Jetta TDI Cup racing series will celebrate Volkswagen's diesel technology and heritage in motorsports as good, clean fun," said Stefan Jacoby, CEO, Volkswagen of America, Inc. "Not only will the young drivers gain real-life track experience in a factory-prepared race vehicle, it will allow them to develop their own mindset of today's clean diesel technology, and foster increased awareness of its advantages in this new era of environmental sensitivity."

The Jetta TDI Cup shifts gears from the previously announced GTI program, allowing Volkswagen to showcase the power and performance of its new clean diesel technology, available in the upcoming 2009 Jetta TDI sedan and SportWagen. With up to 30 Jetta TDI's competing in the hands of aspiring, young drivers, this unique motorsport offering will highlight a new, exciting platform of racing that does not currently exist – a full field of clean diesel powered vehicles.

"With the Jetta TDI Cup, Volkswagen has created an amazing platform to develop young drivers and expand their knowledge about clean and quiet diesel technology," said Robert Wildberger, president and CEO, SCCA Pro Racing, Inc. "We look forward to the series in hopes that it will attract more attention to the drivers and advantages of diesel power."

The Jetta TDI Cup racecars will be optimized for track performance and safety. To focus on the skill of the young drivers and to ensure performance parity, proper maintenance and safety standards, all vehicles will be owned and maintained by Volkswagen. The heart of the Jetta TDI Cup racing vehicle will be the all-new, high-tech 2.0-liter four-cylinder TDI clean diesel engine rated at 170 horsepower and nearly 300 ft.-lbs. of torque in racing trim. The Jetta TDI race vehicles will be outfitted with a six-speed automatic DSG® transmission, electro-mechanical power rack-and-pinion steering system, and advanced multi-link fully independent race-tuned suspension, driver airbag supplemental restraint system, and four-wheel ABS racing brakes.

Signifying Volkswagen's environmental commitment, the Jetta TDI Cup series will be certified as CarbonFree by Additional program details will be available at by mid-November 2007.

Source: Volkswagen

Chrysler ready to slash products from vehicle line up.

Chrysler LLC is preparing to cut many redundant vehicles from their portfolio. On October 10th, Jim Press, Chrysler's c0-president acknowledged that there is a product problem at Chrysler. Vehicles on the chopping block include:

Chrysler Aspen
Chrysler Pacifica(finally)
Chrysler Sebring
Dodge Durango
Dodge Magnum
Jeep Commander
and the Jeep Compass.

"We have models that overlap, where we've got two ro three vehicles that serve the same market segment or maybe the same customer, and we actually compete with each other to some extent. That's not very efficient." Press said at an annual meeting for dealers in Las Vegas.

New management at Chrysler is conducting a product review geared at aligning each of the three brands to match certain characteristics that they have set up. This will mean cuts and a speed up on re-engineered vehicles. Hopefully some new and fresh products in the line up.

Chrysler is also going to begin looking at their dealer network. Which is a combination of stores that are all three brands, and some with just two or one brand.

Chrysler is also seeking to become a worldwide power in the automotive world. They are right now a "North American" company, and that is no longer working. Bob Nardelli, Chrysler chairman, was quoted saying.

Chrysler I think is finally on their way to getting turned around in the US market. Hopefull these cuts, re-engineered , and hopefully fresh products will work.

Source: Automotive News

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

SEMA 07: Big Bad Ford Super Duty.

The Ford Super Duty is the baddest truck to prowl the road. Especially when you combine it with a dually bed and a PowerStroke diesel. DeBerti brought along their low rider F450. Though it is just a bit different. This F450 is designed for hauling motorcysles. A Dallas Smith Axleless Lo-Floor front-wheel-drive chassis conversion puts the bed floor almost on the ground entirely. What more could a bike lover want? You get to ride right into the bed of your truck. No clamp on ramps or steep grades to ride up. What more could you look for in a truck?

SEMA 07: Cadillac CTS Sport Concept. A temp fix til the new CTS V?

With the new CTS-V set to arrive hopefully next year, and the new CTS already out and making car guys drool. We see the CTS Sport Concept making its debut at SEMA. Cadillac enhanced the already beautiful CTS, taking it to the next level.

Cadillac altered the front and rear fascias and added ample amounts of carbon fiber to things like the fender extensions. LEDs trim the headlights, a beautiful set of export taillights (and why don't we get those?), and LEDs in the brake ducts in the lower front fascia. And there are two words for the OnStar antenna: land shark. Engine power comes in a 3.6L engine producing 304 Horsepower, with a cat-back exhaust blowing out 3.5-inch square, chromed apertures. And check out the rear diffuser. Hotness. Sources at General Motors are saying that you're basically looking at the body of the upcoming CTS-V. One thing's for sure. The new V will be one hot car!

SEMA 07: Lots of cool Toyota trucks.

One thing about the SEMA show is all the cool trucks in attendance. This year Toyota is no exception with the concept trucks they brought to Las Vegas this week. Here are a few of them.

TRD Tundra concept. Very aggressive look with it's six and a half foot bed, five inch wide fenders, and redesigned front and rear fascias. Powered by a supercharged TRD 5.7 liter V8 that puts 500 horsepower to the ground and is 50 state legal. Underneath the body work is a beefed up long travel suspension set up for the front and rear. The Tundra also comes with 17 inch TRD off road wheels with giant 37 inch BF Goodrich tires.

Attached to the bed via a 5th wheel hitch is a 28 foot 10,200 lb Featherlite car hauler. The trailer, meanwhile, isn't carrying Toyota's latest racing Tundra, but rather is filled with some of TRD's current product catalogue that SEMA attendees can browse at the show. I'm sure they're more interested in the truck, but I sure could put that trailer to good use.

The Toyota FJ-Runner is a cross between the popular FJ Cruiser and the 4 Runner. Toyota describes this concept as "ruggedness personified", which we'll agree with here at AAM. Outside it is essentially a 4 Runner with a FJ front clip. Mechanicals are not mentioned in the press release so we can only assume that the engine and suspension are relatively stock. There are 20 inch off road style wheels with 33 inch Nitto Mud Grapplers for rubber. Stopping power is brought by Stoptech brakes. Inside the FJ Runner is all business. Rubber floors and water proof seats for ultimate durability, and a host of Alpine stereo, multimedia, and rear seat entertainment upgrades. I give this one a thumbs up since it pulls off the look quite well to give a bigger cruiser, without being a mammoth sized land stalker.

The Toyota FJ Cruiser Convertible also brings a unique twist to the Jeep Wrangler competitor. A removable roof had always been a part of the original Land Cruisers, though was lost in the 1980s when the cruiser grew in size. This time Toyota removed the roof and made a strong a durable, yet lightweight top frame.

Features to this truck include 17 inch KMC Endouro wheels with 35 inch Nitto Mud Grapplers(like the FJ Runner), ARB Old Man Emu suspension and ARB front and rear bumpers with high intensity driving lights. TRD exhaust system, Eclipse navigation, and lastly front and rear Warn bumper mounted winches.

Finally, after years of requests for some sort of diesel powered truck, we have the Tundra Dually Diesel concept. So not only did Toyota respond, they responded with gusto. The chassis is really nothing to write home about as 2 medium duty Tundras were utilized to make the frame. But under the hood you find a JO8E 8.0 liter in line six cylinder turbodiesel with a Magnaflow exhaust. Horsepower is right around 300 with 600 ft lbs of torque through an Eaton 5 speed manual trans. So it has no problems there. The body is a Crew Max cab with a 6.5 foot bed. And gives the look of a ready to work truck. Alcoa 22.5 inch wheels put the power to the road. The bed, and much of the exterior trim is covered with either raw diamond plate or brushed aluminum. Otherwise, the rest of the truck is mostly stock.


Monday, October 29, 2007

SEMA 07: Chrysler SR-392 Hemi Roadster breaks cover early.

Thanks to the guys over at for this breaking news. The Chrysler SR-392 Hemi Roadster was spied in the open before it's unveiling at the SEMA show in Las Vegas. The roadster is based on a reproduction 1927 Chrysler body, which has been heavily modified. The Custom SR-392 Roadster features a 392 Hemi crate motor from Mopar. The distinctively 'Detroit' roadster is a collaborative build project between Chrysler's Mopar Underground SEMA design team and Quality Metalcraft.
Rods seem to be the hot item at this years SEMA show. The Chrysler SR-392 is the second such vehicle to be unveiled. The first being the Chevrolet E85 rod from General Motors. Look for more info as the car becomes official. At cursory glance, the Chevrolet seems to be a bit more polished with it's look and overall finished product. But the Chrysler gains extra kudos in my book as it's a roadster, and it's got a Hemi..... Sweet!

Official Press Release:
Auburn Hills, Mich. -
What do you get when you combine the new 392 HEMI crate engine from Mopar with the world's first-ever steel reproduction of a 1927 street rod body and three car-crazy designers? The result is a custom SR 392 Roadster that will debut in the Mopar booth (#42427) at the 2007 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show. The SEMA Show is the annual showcase of technology, trends and products representing the $36.7 billion automotive parts and accessories industry that will be held Oct. 30 - Nov. 2, 2007 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

For nearly two years, Chrysler's Mark Allen and Ralph Gilles planned to build the SR 392 Roadster as a SEMA stunner with Michael Chetcuti of Livonia, Mich.-based auto supplier, Quality Metalcraft (QMC). Allen is chief designer, Jeep®/Dodge Truck Studios - Chrysler LLC and Gilles is Vice President of Jeep/Truck & CFM Design, Chrysler LLC. Gilles and Allen are members of Chrysler's Mopar Underground SEMA design team, a group of in-house automotive enthusiasts who donate their time to SEMA project vehicles.

Allen said, "It was important to convey the car's theme as an homage to Detroit - the cool Detroit with its unique artistic community, music and gritty vibe. We used durable materials and let the mechanicals show to reflect the industrial backbone of the city. We wrapped it all up in a high-gloss black-and-chrome wrapper to evoke Detroit's cool attitude."

Allen, Chetcuti and Gilles saw a challenge in proving that the 6.4-liter HEMI crate engine could apply to a vehicle other than traditional muscle cars or modified up fits. The team's idea was to redefine the classic hot rod with a more functional urban and industrial attitude to create a distinctly 'Detroit' roadster.

The project was assisted by Chetcuti's QMC since the company has tooled, designed and now stamps the first-ever steel reproduction of a '27 street rod body -- the Shadowrods XL-27 Roadster and Lakes Modified bodies developed by hot rod legend, Jon Hall.

"The core design elements of this roadster speak to the grit and industrial edge of our city," said Chetcuti. "Things like the mezzanine flooring detail and Eames-inspired seating -- these take an industrial cue but are by no means 'rat-rod.' It is a refined and organized design throughout."

After several design variations were discussed (California hot rod king Chip Foose even had a peek), Allen brought his full resources to the design's completion. QMC stamped and performed the initial assembly on the reworked Shadowrods body - and fabricated and fit the revised hood, hood side panels, lower rocker panels and doors to the body.

With the car's extremely low stance, Shadowrods was asked to build a custom frame using a unique staggered truss concept. For the final build of the SR 392 Roadster, QMC turned to longtime concept- and show-car builder Wheel to Wheel Powertrain of Madison Heights, Mich.

Overseen by Gilles, the Mopar Underground SEMA design team has been customizing Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge production vehicles for the SEMA show since its creation in 2002. The team creates tricked, tuned and customized vehicle concepts meant to develop performance parts, accessories and customization, vehicle concepts and keep the Mopar spirit and passion alive.

SEMA 07: More GM E85 performance madness

Following hot on the heels of the C6RS Corvette, is the 1934 Chevy Coupe E85 FlexFuel Hotrod. This time around it's a 2.0 liter Ecotec Turbo, with Stage III tuning from GM Performance Parts. In total the engine makes a very impressive 500 Horsepower! The body is a reproduction that has been channeled and chopped. The suspension has been custom fabricated with power hitting the ground through a 8 3/8 quick change rear end with 5.20 gears. The wheels are 18 & 20 inch Budnik wheels with 29 & 35 inch tall Excelsior tires front and rear respectively. Full press details available below.


With a 500-horsepower engine, a channeled body and a chopped top, GM's custom street rod looks right at home on the salt flats of Bonneville. But instead of a traditional gasoline V-8, this '34 Chevy replica rod sports a turbocharged 2.0L Ecotec engine that runs on E85 ethanol. Appropriately, it has been dubbed the FlexFuel Chevy Hot Rod.

"Since the 1930's, hot rods have embodied American ingenuity, aesthetic flair and the quest for performance," said Bryan Nesbitt, vice-president of General Motors North American Design. "The ethanol Hot Rod is a modern statement that today's hot rodder can address energy concerns about the consumption of petroleum without sacrificing performance or style.
"The car's low-slung stance and stripped-down essence suggests track cars and speed racers of the late 1940s and early 1950s. Open hood sides reveal the high-powered Ecotec engine, which has been pumped up with the help of GM Performance Parts' Stage III performance kit and a larger turbo. The higher octane of E85 enabled engineers to tune the engine for more power. It is backed by a GM Powertrain 5L40 five-speed automatic transmission.

"The engine was built using the basic recipe that is available in the Ecotec performance book available from GM Performance Parts," said Al Oppenheiser, GM Performance Division director of concept and vehicle integration. "Also, the E85 conversion is based on a kit that GM is exploring for regular production engines."

True hot rod aesthetic:

Like hot rods built for the last 60 years, the FlexFuel Hot Rod is built from an assemblage of factory and aftermarket parts. The frame and body are based on the 1934 Chevy, but both were fabricated by the craftsmen at the GM Performance Division (GMPD). The body has been sectioned and channeled to give the car its true hot rod aesthetic, while the frame is a one-off piece designed, engineered and built by GMPD. The slanted grille – with a unique chrome mesh pattern – and hood are integrated for a smoother look, which includes a sun visor characteristic of period hot rod racers.
Like any good rod worth its salt, there are no fenders or running boards; the 10-inch headlamps are mounted to the core support. The front suspension is all custom-built, complete with period-perfect lightening holes drilled in it.

A sturdy 8-3/8-inch Winters Quick-change rearend is suspended by a parallel four-link suspension. It is filled with 5.20 gears, which are used to generate brisk acceleration with 35-inch-tall, racing-type Excelsior rear tires and 29-inch-tall front tires. The tires are mounted on custom 18-inch front and 20-inch rear "kidney bean"-style wheels from Budnik.

Steering comes from a custom-fabricated linkage that is connected to a reversed Corvair steering box. The linkage is mounted to the outside of the frame rail.

Hand-crafted cabin:
Inside, the FlexFuel Hot Rod maintains its racing-inspired minimalist theme, but with contemporary feel. Hand-formed sheet metal and earth-friendly materials were used to trim the cabin, as well as the racing-style aluminum seats. The dashboard was hand-finished, too, and filled with traditional-looking Stewart-Warner gauges.
One of the interior's central points of interest is the racing-style driveshaft tube, which covers the custom driveshaft. It is a prominent fixture in the cabin because the body has been lowered around the chassis to achieve the streamlined appearance that was characteristic of old-school hot rods.

Road ready:

More than just a conceptualized vision of an alternative-fuel street rod, the FlexFuel Hot Rod is a driver that GM Performance Division will press into service for a number of road events and tests.

"This thing is going to rack up a lot of miles," said Oppenheiser. "With the FlexFuel conversion, it can run purely on E85, gasoline or any combination of the two. That means it can be refueled anywhere the road takes it."

Tokyo 07: VW Space UP!

The “New Small Family” from Volkswagen is gaining speed on its journey to the future. Just six weeks after the world premiere of the up! – the two-door city specialist – Europe’s largest automobile producer is now introducing the second member of the “New Small Family” at the Tokyo Motor Show: The space up! concept car. “The world premiere of the up! at the IAA in Frankfurt served as an initial test to see how the concept of our New Small Family would be received in Europe. And the results of this test were more than favorable,” says Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Head of Technical Development. Volkswagen’s chief engineer continues: “The second member of this new family now follows in the space up!. The small van shows that we are consistently exploiting every millimeter of space and creating an emotional design.

”Walter de Silva, Chief Designer of the Volkswagen Group, underscores the assessment of the board member heading development: “In formal design terms, one can see that the space up! is fun and at the same time offers maximum space on the smallest of platforms. Our New Small Family brings a smile back to the road. An exceptionally amiable charisma unites the up! and the space up! now being presented in Tokyo. At the same time, it is apparent at first glance that despite all of the emotionality of this car we avoided superfluous gimmicks of any kind. This has created a very straight-lined and confident design.”

The space up! is a small space wonder. On just 3.68 meters (141.7 inches) length and 1.63 meters (64.2 inches) width, it offers the space of a considerably larger vehicle. The clever space concept of the space up! is to a great extent attributable to its engine layout: The environmentally-friendly gasoline, diesel and electric powertrains of the future up! family are always located in the rear – just like on the Beetle and the Bulli (Microbus) of the past.

A brief comparison: The space up! is exactly 23 centimeters longer than the up! shown at the IAA in Frankfurt; accordingly, its wheelbase is also larger (2.56 meter). At 1.54 meter, the van exhibits a height gain of four centimeters.

In contrast to the two-door up!, the space up! has four doors. And in actuality there are even six. That is because the van concept car does not have a classic tailgate, but instead a two-part rear door. Hidden behind this door are 220 to 1,005 liters of cargo space, four seat positions that are multivariable in design, and an exceptionally innovative cockpit concept. Numerous functions are controlled via a touch screen with 3D graphics and proximity sensors.

Volkswagen is introducing the space up! as the second model variant of the “New Small Family”. The up! concept car presented at the IAA in Germany and the space up! now being shown in Japan are unified by a common design philosophy. The cars are characterized by a simple, clear language of forms. The designers consciously omitted any superfluous gimmicks. Like the up!, the space up! is characterized by a completely new harmony between technical layout, on the one hand, and emotional design on the other.

Front end: Distinguishing the front end of the “New Small Family” are the headlamps that take an inward diagonal line, between them the horizontally integrated air inlets (minimized aperture optimizes aerodynamics), the VW logo arranged on the front hood (as the only exterior detail kept in chrome) and the smooth-surfaced bumper with a lower segment. An important new aspect when it comes to the headlamp design of the space up!. Here they extend far into the fender, and this also affects the side profile.

Side profile: On its sides, the concept car – like the “Bulli” in earlier days – exhibits a long extended window section and a clearly distinctive, powerful C-pillar whose form is typical of Volkswagen. The A-pillar is positioned far forward. The space between the A and C pillars is spanned by the line of butterfly doors with opposing hinges. Both the front and rear doors are opened by door handles at the height of the B pillars. Since they open in opposition, in the style of the legendary Samba bus, and extend across nearly the entire space between the wheel housings – i.e. the entire sill length – all four seating positions are exceptionally convenient to access. A key concept here is wheel housings: Hidden under them are the self-confident and large 18-inch wheels with size 165/50 tires. Distinctive in this area are the short front and rear overhangs. The front overhang, from the axle hub to the outer skin of the bumper measures just 53 centimeters; in the rear it is 59 centimeters. The result: Crisp proportions.

Rear end: Also unmistakable are the design features of the rear end. Take the example of the rear door: It fills out practically the entire car area above the bumper. Similar to the smaller up!, the door – split 1/3 to 2/3 here – consists of a transparent material. Integrated beneath it are the taillights. Fully opened, the door offers a cargo width of 101 centimeters. The bumper itself was designed to match its counterpart at the front end.

Thanks to the wide track width of 1.42 meters the outer edges of the wheels are in line with the wheel housings. The effect is that the entire vehicle width of 1.63 meters seems to consist of axles plus tires and wheels. Meanwhile, the only details that boldly jump outside of the vehicle width are the round-shaped outside mirrors, like the ones on the up!

The space up! is a full-fledged four-seater. In the rear, a bench seat is implemented with two integrated child seats. To convert them from adult to child seats, the seating surfaces are simply folded over, and two shoulder supports are folded out on each side. Finished. But not only will children travel comfortably in a production version of the concept car. The reason: The cushions of the four seats – for driver, front and rear passengers – consist of an airflow foam that automatically adapts to individual anatomies. In addition, the seating position is pleasantly high, making it extremely comfortable.

With the exception of the driver’s seat, all seats can also be folded and removed. If the seats are “only” folded, this creates a level cargo area with a capacity of up to 1,005 liters. With four people on board, cargo capacity up to window level height is still 220 liters. Since the low-profile engine of the space up! is located in the rear, objects with a maximum length of 2.8 meters can be stowed in a pass-through to the front cargo space. Remember: The concept van is just 3.68 meters long and thereby 15 centimeters shorter than the Fox, which is the most compact Volkswagen today.

Since the car’s cockpit was conceived as a module to be applied across all models of the “New Small Family”, the cockpit unit was copied from the up! concept car presented in Frankfurt, with slight modifications. It is a cockpit with a great future. In detail, the space up! has two central displays: In the cockpit, an 8-inch monitor displays information such as vehicle speed, fuel level and range as well as momentary CO2 emissions. In the middle of the instruments a 7-inch monitor shows how future human-machine interfaces might look and operate. Here all conceivable functions are controlled via a touchscreen that – using proximity sensors – reacts to gestures as well, i.e. specific hand movements.

Menuing was retooled and reorganized so that people without computer science educations would be able to operate the system. The developers intentionally separated “display” and “control” levels from one another. Always shown on the screen is a control bar with standard functions such as climate control or audio volume control. Developers packaged functions of other higher-order systems – navigation, telephone, radio, Internet, images, films, etc. – on a display level that has been referred to internally as the “main menu carousel” – a type of virtual carousel. It consists of the icons of different system functions (telephone, navigation, etc.). When the user touches the “main menu carousel” it can be rotated by touchscreen. Visually, this control is just as spectacular as it is intuitive. When the desired function appears on the main menu carousel – such as the telephone – the user just needs to move his or her hand to the display to switch to the telephone menu thanks to proximity sensor technology. It was true on the up! and it also applies to the space up!: The new type of user control is fun, easy to understand in any cultural environment and very safe. That is precisely what is typical of Volkswagen. Toward the end of this decade, the first Volkswagen customers might be able to enjoy this new generation of intuitive controls aboard the New Small Family. The development of production models has already begun…’

Source: Volkswagen of America

VWoA announces new executive appointments & brand management restructuring.

Volkswagen of America, Inc., CEO Stefan Jacoby today announced new executive appointments and realignment of the Volkswagen brand executive management team, taking effect January 1, 2008.

Jacoby will add the title of executive vice president of the Volkswagen brand, in combination with his duties as CEO, Volkswagen of America, Inc.

The executive vice president role at Volkswagen has been held by Adrian Hallmark since November of 2005. Hallmark will transfer to corporate parent Volkswagen AG in Wolfsburg, Germany where he will lead Volkswagen sales and marketing initiatives for the Asia/ Pacific region.

Also announced was the appointment of Michael Lohscheller as executive vice president, chief financial officer for Volkswagen of America, Inc., reporting to Jacoby. Lohscheller transfers from corporate parent Volkswagen AG, where he was most recently director, Group Marketing and Sales Planning. He has been with Volkswagen AG since 2004, after holding various senior finance positions with Daimler and Mitsubishi Motors.

In addition, Falk Beil has been named executive vice president, Service & Quality, Volkswagen of America, Inc. Reporting directly to Jacoby, he has held multiple inter-disciplinary posts since joining Volkswagen AG in 1988.Jacoby also appointed the following vice presidents, both reporting directly to him, within the Volkswagen brand, taking effect immediately.

Mark Barnes has been named vice president, Customer Service. Mark has held numerous management positions at Chrysler, Hyundai and Nissan, bringing 25 years of Parts and Service experience in both national and regional operations.

M. Toscan Bennett has been named vice president, Product Marketing & Strategy. He replaces David Goggins, formerly director, Product and Marketing Strategy. Bennett brings more than twenty years of automotive brand management experience at Ferrari, Chrysler and Mitsubishi. Goggins will return to Bentley Motors headquarters in Crewe, United Kingdom where he will lead Bentley global communications.

"With these organizational changes, we have strengthened the enterprise to best meet the challenges of the dynamic American automotive marketplace," said Jacoby. "The Volkswagen Brand will continue on the path set by Adrian. We appreciate his efforts to build a solid platform for continued growth and profitability."

Sema 07 Update: Jay leno's E85 powered Corvette C6RS

There is no denying Jay Leno's love of cars, not to mention his involvement in the development of new technologies with General Motors. Meet the Corvette C6RS. The car that shows that green technology and performance can go hand in hand.

The C6RS started life as a Z06 that was restyled to resemble the C6.R race car. Performance is brought by a 8.2 liter (500 CID)aluminum small block V8 with 600 Horsepower and 585 ft lbs of torque. And it runs on E85 Ethanol rather than conventional gasoline. This is definitely a Corvette worth looking at. More info and pics below the jump.

Here is the official GM press release:


LAS VEGAS – "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno's predilection for performance cars is no secret, but many fellow enthusiasts may not know that he is keenly interested in alternative fuels. To prove that red-blooded power mixes easily with a touch of green, Leno partnered with Pratt & Miller – the engineering company that builds and campaigns C6.R Corvettes – to develop a modified Corvette Z06 that is capable of running on E85 ethanol. It was unveiled at the 2007 SEMA Show.

More than merely a conversion of the stock LS7 engine to E85 capability, Leno's alternative-fuel supercar is powered by a custom, 8.2L (500-cubic-inch) all-aluminum small-block V-8 that pumps out approximately 600 horsepower and 585 lb.-ft. of torque.

"The C6RS is the result of an idea we hatched to prove that high-performance cars and alternative fuel technology weren't diametrically opposed concepts," said Leno. "I love the idea of having 600 horsepower at my disposal, but using a homegrown alternative to gasoline.

"The engine is built around a custom aluminum cylinder block that was CNC-milled from a single block of billet aluminum. And while the cylinder heads, intake system and dry-sump oiling system are stock LS7 components, the engine – which has larger bore and stroke dimensions than the 7.0L (427-cubic-inch) LS7 – uses a one-off reciprocating assembly, including a forged steel crankshaft, forged rods and forged pistons. Katech Engines, the company that builds engines for the Corvette C6.R racing program, developed the engine.

The fuel system and engine control computer were modified to accommodate E85, and spent gases exit through a Corsa exhaust system. Supporting the 600-horse engine's power is a blueprinted and strengthened T-56 six-speed transmission and a high-performance Centerforce dual-friction clutch.

C6.R inspiration:

On the outside, Leno's bad and black C6RS emulates the styling of C6.R race cars, with wider front and rear fenders and a wider rear fascia with an integrated spoiler on top and a racing-style diffuser at the bottom (the diffuser incorporates an LED-lit backup lamp). A C6.R-style waterfall hood front fender louvers, rockers and lower grille opening further define this special Corvette – and all of the car's front-end panels are made of carbon-fiber, including custom brake air ducts routed through the front fenders. With all of its body modifications, Leno's C6RS is 1.6 inches wider than stock.

The C6.R's – and production Corvette's – aerodynamically styled bodywork is designed to slice efficiently through the wind, which helps enhance fuel mileage.

The race-ready look of the car is enhanced with a quartet of BBS wheels that feature racing-type locking center hubs. The forged aluminum 18-inch front wheels and 19-inch rear wheels ride on Michelin P295/30ZR18 and P345/30ZR19 tires, respectively.

Adding authenticity to the car's custom bodywork was the involvement of Pratt & Miller. The company took on the task of crafting Leno's Corvette into a street-going replica of the race cars, which included installing or fabricating a host of unique components, including:
* A custom DeWitt high-capacity radiator with dual cooling fans.
* A carbon-fiber ram-air induction system.
* Carbon-fiber inner fender panels that vent hot air from the engine compartment.
* Brembo brakes with six-piston mono-block calipers in front and four-piston rear calipers.
* Dyna-Mat used throughout the cabin and chassis to reduce interior noise.

While the exterior and drivetrain were inspired by the racetrack, the C6RS's cabin exudes luxury, with premium touches and enhancements from Genuine Corvette Accessories that include a two-tone shift knob and boot; leather-covered console armrest, parking brake handle and boot; an interior trim kit, racing-style pedal covers and more.

With its 600 horses on tap and domestically produced E85 fuel in the tank, Jay Leno's alternative-fueled C6RS is an all-American supercar that proves high performance and environmental consciousness go together like the Corvette and checkered flags.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Porsche take over of VW now possible due to changes in VW Law.

It is no secret that Porsche has been buying up stake in Volkswagen for the last year. Though a piece of legislation called the VW Law has been the only thing to prevent the sports car builder from completely take over Europe's largest automaker. Currently Porsche has a 31% stake in VW, but with news today of the European Court striking down the VW Law, many expect the company to quickly increase its stake to a controlling 51%.

The VW Law itself dates back to 1960, and while a bit complicated to understand, basically stipulates that 80% shareholder approval is required to pass major decisions and regardless of how much stake a single entity holds, its voting block cannot be greater than 20%. Since the company's home state of Lower Saxony owns 20.1% of VW, it alone holds the power to influence the company's decision making. Under the VW Law, Lower Saxony has the power to block any decision that would threaten its jobs and the local economy. Thus, Porsche's desire to own a controlling stake in VW has been blocked by Lower Saxony as well as its inability to use the full force of its 31% stake in voting.

Though two separate companies, Porsche and Volkswagen share a long history dating back to Dr. Ferdinand Porsche who was the designer of the Beetle, as well as the Auto Union Silver Arrow race cars. Much of the leadership at VWAG are also direct descendants of Dr. Porsche as well. Dr. Ferdinand Piech is Dr. Porsche's grandson. Though the family ties do not end there. Volkswagen and Porsche have collaborated on many projects. The Porsche 914, 924 & Cayenne were all joint developments between the two companies.

BMW 1 Series tii concept. The 2002 will rise again!

Ahead of its official unveiling in Tokyo, 1Addicts has obtained photos and the official press release on the BMW Concept 1 Series tii. Painted Alpine White with black stripes and accented with black and blue elements, this design study gives us an idea of what BMW has in store for us when the new 1 Series arrives. BMW has chosen to entice enthusiasts' by resurrecting the tii label used on the BMW 2002.

The 1 Series tii has a lightened body thanks to the use of carbon fiber on the hood and other trim pieces like the rear diffuser insert, mirror covers, gurney flap, and intakes on the front air dam. Both the front and rear bumpers and the side sills are new designs, and are exclusive to the tii. The suspension has been worked over too, giving the car the right stance. Followed up by 18 inch split-spoke wheels to finish off the tii. On the inside, BMW makes use of black alcantara, with white accents on the seats and steering wheel. BMW made the tachometer the central focus on the instrument cluster by making it white-faced. The press release makes no mention of the actual performance upgrades to the car. Though knowing BMW, it will be quite a little barn stormer.

(Source: BMW &

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Christie's out of the collector car auction business.

It was short and to the point. The September 5th statement from Christie's Auction House was just three sentences long. The world famous auction house has chosen to close their International Motor Cars department. The decision was made "following a periodic strategic review of operations". The department closed at the end of the month.

Shortly after the announcement, word came that three of the five member department, Rupert Banner, Philip Kanto, and Cordon McCall were all joining rival auction house Bonhams.

The 241 year old auction house started the International Motor Cars department in 1972, and was one of the oldest collector car auctioneers in the business. Christie's has sold many of the top dollar collector cars that have broken records for value. Recently they auctioned a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTL Lusso formerly owned by the late Steve McQueen, for a record $2,310,000. Christie's was also to auction a 1936 Auto Union "Silver Arrow" grand prix racer, but the auction on the car was canceled when the history of the car was questioned.

Cadillac CTS-V retires from SCCA World Challenge.......temporarily.

Cadillac has announced that it will retire from the SCCA Speed World Challenge to pursue other venues. This comes after Andy Pilgrim won his second race of 2007 this past weekend to secure Cadillac a Manufacturers Championship in the SCCA SWC. Cadillac finished out the season with 71 points followed by Porsche with 60, Chevrolet with 50, and Dodge with 24 points.

After the race, Cadillac announced that this would be the brand's last season in the series, at least temporarily. "With the second-generation CTS-V still a year away from its introduction, we'll close this chapter of Cadillac in racing and explore future opportunities to showcase the performance of the Cadillac portfolio," he said.

With this, Cadillac ends its dominant four-year run in the Speed World Challenge as the most successful team. Cadillac drivers racked up a total of twelve wins, the most of any manufacturer in the series, as well as two manufacturer championships for the Cadillac brand and General Motors.

With the second generation Cadillac CTS already on showroom floors and scoring rave reviews. And a new CTS-V already in the pipeline for 2009. I think it will only be a matter of time before we see Cadillac back in the Speed World Challenge.

2008 Hummer H3 Alpha. Finally, V8 power!

Since the introduction of the Hummer H3, there has always been one thing lacking for the performance nuts. A V8 engine. Starting in 2008 the General has given us our wish. A 5.3 Liter V8 will be available in the Alpha edition, which was last seen on the Hummer H1.

The new small-block V8 puts out 295 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque, a very welcome increase over the Inline 5's 242 horses and 242 lb-ft of torque. The available V8 gives the small Hummer a maximum towing capacity of 6,000 pounds.

Inside, the H3's interior remains essentially unchanged for 2008. Though it will include an "Alpha" badge on the steering wheel. It's well-appointed to begin with, as the H3 Luxury Package is part of the greater Alpha trim level. Roof rail side curtain airbags, an option on the 2007 H3, is now standard equipment. Like the big brother H2, all 2008 H3s get silver-painted lower front bumpers. The Alpha package can also be combined with the H3X to give the maximum bling H3 the newfound V8 punch as well. Look for the H3 Alpha to hit showrooms soon.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sema Preview: Pontiac Solstice SD-290 Concept.

GM released only this single view of the Pontiac Solstice SD-290 Concept for SEMA. The Solstice features a cover over the passenger compartment that is reminiscent vintage single-seat club race cars and includes a new windscreen and separate review mirror mounted in the middle. It's likely powered by something that's green and mean. Look for further updates this week.

Ferrari F43 Scuderia. Formula 1 technology in a street car.

Ferrari recently revealed the new F430 Scuderia. This new Prancing Horse is probably one of the best looking cars in the Ferrari line up. Originally thought to be called the F430 Challenge Stradale. Regardless of what it's called, this new F430 joins the coupe and spyder, yet takes a decidedly harder, more track-oriented edge than its siblings.

The Scuderia weighs around 220 lbs. less than the standard F430 coupe, and this version of Ferrari's 4.3L V8 produces 510 horsepower versus the standard 483 horsepower. That gives the Scuderia a frighteningly low power-to-weight ratio of 1 horsepower for every 5.4 lbs! The new F430 Scuderia also promises to carry a lot of trickle-down F1 technology as well, including lightning-quick 60 millisecond shifts and an integrated traction and stability control system. In order to accentuate the car's F1 connection, none other than famed F1 driver Michael Schumacher officially unveiled the car in Frankfurt in September. Here's the official Ferrari press release.

Press Release:
The Ferrari 430 Scuderia. Michael Schumacher will officially unveil the car at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

The new Ferrari 430 Scuderia will join the road-going V8 line-up alongside the F430 coupé and the F430 Spider. The 430 Scuderia is a truly high-performance 2-seater berlinetta which demonstrates how Ferrari's Formula 1 know-how is carried across to its production cars.

The new model is a special series based on the F430 and is aimed specifically at Ferrari's most passionate and sports-driving oriented clients. Development focused on light weight, minimum trimmings and innovative technology. All this to exalt the car's extremely high-performance and ability to thrill the driver.

The new car can count on an extremely low weight-to-power ratio of just 2.45 kg per hp thanks to a low dry weight of just 1250 kg - 100 kg less than the standard F430 – and to the naturally-aspirated 4308cc V8's 510 hp at 8500 rpm.

Superb performance both on and off the track is assured by a series of cutting-edge solutions. There is the latest F1 software - Superfast – which reduces gearchange times to just 60 milliseconds, and new traction control which, for the first time, combines the E-Diff electronic differential and the F1-Trac traction and stability control in a single integrated system.

Vehicle dynamics, control and performance thus represent the zenith of Ferrari's achievements in terms of developing road-certified sports cars.

The 430 Scuderia will be officially unveiled by Michael Schumacher on September 11 2007 at the IAA Motor Show in Frankfurt.

Kimi Raikkonen wins Formula 1 Driver's Title at Brasil. Race review

With the season finale to the 2007 Formula One season, we have a new champion. Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen has been crowned with the 2007 Driver's Title at the Brazilion Grand Prix. Ferrari could have also won the Constructer's Title as well, but lost that to McLaren. Ferrari finished off the season woth 204 points to McLarens 218.

Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa, having started from pole and led much of the race, dutifully did the right thing by not trying to make a race of it as his team mate needed the 10 points for victory. Massa carried it off with dignity in front of his adoring countrymen.

The Williams team came to Brazil under pressure from Red Bull for their fourth place overall, and rose to the occasion magnificently as Nico Rosberg battled with and beat the BMW Saubers team of Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld in a fantastic battle that was sadly overshadowed by the world championship.

Fernando Alonso initially said he could hold the Ferraris off, but not when they really began to push their cars. Had his tranmission not shifted to neutral on the eighth lap, before resetting itself, Lewis Hamilton might still have had his crack at the title. As it was, he was able to fight back to seventh place, bringing his points tally equal to Alonso’s but taking second overall on countback on the strength of five second place wins to Alonso’s four.

Ferrari owned the race from the start, and Raikkonen's ability to run three laps longer in the second stint proved crucial as the new world champion sped home to a deserved sixth victory of the year.

All in all it was an excelent, action packed finale to the 2007 season.

They see me rollin. My Ferrari Segway limited edition

Forget that you have to drive in an upright position. Meet the limited editon Ferrari Segway. Top speed is a whopping 12.5 miles per hour and achieving the envy of every treckie, you can now have your very own Ferrari. This comes just in time to celebrate Kimi Raikkonen's F1 championship.
However, despite being painted in tifosi-red, having a "Genuine Leather" handlebar and sporting the Cavallino Rampante shield, it doesn't run any faster than a regular Segway version of the famous but slow-selling gyro-stabilized scooter. It costs $12,000, so don't expect an owners' racing series to arise anytime soon, except maybe after hours at the Oracle campus.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Audi wins its 4th American LeMans Series.

Dindo Capello (Italy) and Allan McNish (Scotland) recorded Audi’s fourth outright American Le Mans Series victory with the revolutionary near 650 hp R10 TDI in this year’s 12-race series when the 2007 LM P1 champions won an exciting four-hour ALMS finale at Mazda Laguna Seca Reaceway for a second consecutive year.

Their #1 Audi started from fifth on the 30-car grid and averaged 87.755mph around the sweeping 2.238 mile track to finish a mere 0.410secs ahead of the second-placed #7 Porsche after a thrilling, race-long battle with both LM P2 Porsches. It marked the 21st consecutive category win for the revolutionary Audi R10 TDI which remains unbeaten in the LM P1 class since its debut in March 2006.

The "sister” Audi R10 TDI driven by Marco Werner (Germany) and Mike "Rocky” Rockenfeller (Germany), started seventh and went on to finish third overall (2nd LM P1) – 21secs behind the winning Audi. The #2 Audi required a front nose change after contact with another car when running third overall with 90mins to run. Audi’s win marked the German manufacturer’s seventh overall Laguna Seca victory since 2000.

Congratulations to Audi Sport on a superb 2007 season!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Audi Metroproject breaks cover.

Meet the Audi A1 "Metroproject Quattro" unveiled at the Tokyo Auto Show. While the full press release has not yet been made available, here is what we can tell.

The A1 appears to be a "Mini Fighter" in size. Styling is crisp to Audi's standards, and definately looks the part with its squat, aggressive, hatchback body. At first glance at an interior shot, it would seem that the engine is mounted in the rear like the VW UP! but it isn't. That's a battery pack back there, with a glass cover showcasing the fact that this little Audi is a hybrid.

Being the fact that is an Audi, of course this concept features Quattro all wheel drive. If Metroproject Quattro does make it to production. The main competition will be the Mini and the new Fiat 500. Combined with all wheel drive and Hybrid tecnologies, this is definately one car to keep an eye open for. Due to a full press release not being available. Please check back for further info on this exciting new Audi.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Volkswagen introduces Touareg R50 In Sydney.

WOLFSBURG, Germany - In a world premiere, Volkswagen will be presenting the Touareg R50 on October 11 at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney. Its power of 258 kW / 350 PS (at 3,500 rpm) positions the new Touareg version among the most powerful SUVs in the world. The Touareg R50 can be ordered in Germany at prices starting at 88,260 Euro; it will be introduced to the market this November.

The engine characteristic of the Touareg R50 is marked by a torque level nearly unattainable by the competition: The V10 TDI of the Touareg R50 develops its enormous power of 850 Newton-meter at a low 2,000 rpm. The turbo diesel was derived from the well-known ten cylinder with 230 kW / 313 PS. Adjustments to its turbo charging and modified engine management enabled a 28 kW / 37 PS increase in power and a considerable 100 Newton-meter increase in maximum torque. Under these new parameters, the SUV accelerates to 100 km/h in just 6.7 seconds (production car: 7.4 seconds); its top speed is 235 km/h. In relation to engine power and vehicle size, the fuel consumption of the production ten-cylinder diesel equipped with a particulate filter is a moderate 9.6 liters per 100 km (highway) and 12.6 liters per 100 km (overall). Despite big gains in power and torque, its DIN fuel consumption values have remained constant compared to the Touareg V10 TDI.

In keeping with the performance potential of the R50, Volkswagen Individual designed new exterior and interior features according to the R philosophy. From the outside, the new Touareg R50 is easy to recognize with its 21-inch Omanyt type alloy wheels and size 295 tires, blue painted brake calipers, discrete wheel well flares, side skirts and distinctive bumpers (Sport Design Package), as well as a modified radiator grille (in a matte finish chrome).
Offered exclusively on the Touareg R50 is the car color "Biscay blue". Blue hues of this type have been typical of the high-powered R models since the first Golf R32 was introduced in the year 2002. Offered as optional car colors on the Touareg R50 are "Campanella white", "Reflex silver", "Black Magic" and "Atacam gray".

The car’s extensive features also include an air suspension sport chassis: The so-called "Driving dynamics package with adaptive roll compensation" and chassis lowered by twenty millimeter supplements the "Sport" mode of the manually or automatically controlled air suspension by achieving a stiffer spring rate.

On the inside, the SUV’s features include a sport seating system in anthracite-colored nappa leather with R50 logo integrated in the headrests. The logo was also integrated in the stainless steel tread plates. Also in keeping with the sporty character of the Touareg is the light-colored "engine spin" decor of the interior – a metallic structure similar to that previously used on race cars – as well as metal worked caps for the accelerator and brake pedals. A R50 logo also decorates the gearshift lever of the six-speed automatic transmission (Tiptronic). Standard features the Touareg R50 also include a winter package (including seat heating for the rear seats), the Premium Memory Package (including electrically adjustable seats, steering column and seatbelt height), net partition behind the rear seats and a ski sack.

Source: Volkswagen.

DeLorean Motor Company set for a comeback.

Texas based DeLorean Motor Company is gearing up to begin production on a brand new version of the famous stainless steel gullwing sports car. Since 1995DMC has been offering original parts, accessories, and restored DeLorean sports cars that went out of production over 2 decades ago. Starting in 2008 DMC will begin producing a limited run of new DeLoreans at a rate of one to two cars per month. On the outside, the car will look nearly identical to its counterpart produced in the 1980s. Updates will be found in the interior and mechanical parts of the car. The plan is to fix all of the kinks that were found in the original car.

The original DeLorean, made famous by the Back to the Future trilogy, and company owner and designer John Z. DeLorean's brush with the involving drugs. Had reliability issues, a massively underpowered engine, and less than spectacular performance.

Plans include for a 197 HP engine upgrade, choice of 3 spd automatic or 5 spd manual transmissions, Eibach suspension kit, Xenon headlights, XM or Sirius sattelite radio, iPod integration, navigation system, and much more. Prices are expected to be in the $60,000 range.

For more information, visit the DeLorean Motor Company website.

Mr.Norm Strikes Again!

In the 1960s and early 1970s there were special dealers in the automotive industry who epitomized the spirit of high performance. Cheverolet had Yenko, Nickey, Baldwin, Gibb and Dana. Ford had Tasca; Pontiac had Royal, Knafel and Packer. The Mopar guys had Mr. Norm’s Grand Spaulding Dodge.

Norm Krauss revolutionized how high-performance cars were sold, and went so far as to create his own prototype 383 Dart GTS and the now famous M-Code 440 Dart, both eventually made it into regular Chrysler production.

Well, Mr. Norm is back and is offering a repeat of the golden days with the finest 21st century parts and accessories. However, the new Mr. Norm Mopars exceed the performance of the originals in every way. Each vehicle has its own production number and comes with a build book, production sheet and build order, and is delivered by Mr. Norm himself, just as he did back in the day. These new 1968 Darts are powered by a 528 cubic inch Hemi putting out 725 HP! It will also have 17" wheels and disc brakes all around.

Production will be limited to just 40 cars. Mr. Norm’s GSS Hemi Darts are capable of 10-second quarter-mile times. For more information, call 847-838-8749

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

2007 Porsche Cayman S "Porsche Design Edition 1"

Coming soon to a Porsche dealer near you! Porsche will offer a special editon Cayman S. The Porsche Design Edition 1 which emphasizes the purist nature of the Cayman. The car will feature sparkling black paint, black leather and Alcantara upolstery, Porsche Design Chronograph styled instruments, even the steering wheel, gear lever, handbrake, and roof lining are also covered in black Alcantara, a numbered plaque will also be displayed on the dashboard. The 19 inch 997 Turbo wheels perfectly accent the black paint. Edition 1 will be powered by the standard 3.4 liter 6 cylinder engine producing 295 Horsepower and 252 ftlbs torque. Along with the long list of standard equipment on the Boxster S. Edition 1 owners will also receive a matching briefcase packed with a matching Flat Six Chronograph watch, pocket knife, sunglasses, pen, and key ring. All of which are painted the matching black of the car. Only 777 of these special Caymans will be available. Thus making this Porsche a true collectors item. Germany will begin to see the Porsche Design Edition 1 starting in November 2007 with the United States following in January 2008. The price is expected to be around $93,000.

Jaguar X Type axed for North America

Jaguar has announced that the X Type sedan will no longer be sold in North America. Production for the "Baby Jag" will end in December. The up coming Jaguar XF is slated to replace both the X Type and the aging S Type for next year. Since its launch in 2002 the X Type has failed to meet the sales goals Ford Motor Co. & Jaguar had hoped for.
Competition from the Mercedes Benz C Class and BMW 3 Series won over potential buyers. Potential buyers were disappointed with the cheaply appointed interiors, and poor packaging of an old design that rode on the Ford Mondeo platform. Since the 2002 launch, sales have steadily decreased. 33,018 units were sold in 02. Through September of this year, only 2,403 X Types have been sold. While production for North America will come to an end. The X Type will still be sold elsewhere in the world through 2010, when production is expected to end.


Hello, and welcome to Autobahn Automotive News. In this blog you will find some of the latest news to come out of the automotive industry. We will have product anouncements and news from all corners of the world, event happenings, and even some automotive history. So sit back, put on your driving gloves, and let's hit the gas!