Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix raises $200,000 for charity

Being a Pittsburgh based car guy and racing fan. I brag about the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix throughout the year. Not only do I show cars and participate in the events, but I also serve as a member of the Car Show Committee. Be it the car shows, the races, the fun of enjoying a nice weekend in the park, what ever fits your fancy, the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix has a little bit of everything. The best though is that ALL proceeds from the PVGP events benefit two awesome charities, the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and the Allegheny Valley School. This year, the PVGP set a new record, donating $200,000 to both charities at the recent "Victory Lap" check presentation ceremony. Representatives from the PVGP, event sponsors, car manufacturers, and participating car clubs were on hand at the Allegheny Valley School's campus for tours, a checkered flag waving and Terrible Towel wave (Myron Cope, inventor of the Terrible Towel sat on the board of AVS and the PVGP, and sales benefit AVS also). Each charity will benefit equally, receiving $100,000 each. This money will be used to provide residential care, treatment and support for developmentally disabled individuals in the Pittsburgh area.
Since 1983, the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix has raised over $2.95 million dollars for both charities, with no signs of stopping.

For more information on how you can donate to the PVGP, volunteer or find out about the 2012 event, please visit

Charity Ambassadors representing each charity;  Anita Iyengar -Autism Society of Pittsburgh and Brandon Fisher - Allegheny Valley School were on hand to receive the $200,000 check. 
left to right: PVGP Showside Director Bob Speer, Shop 'n Save's Rich Haeflein, Autism Society's Dan Torisky and PVGP Race Director Rocky Farrar with the 2011 check for $200,000.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ural takes a giant step back with M70 Anniversary Edition

Ural takes a giant step back with M70 Anniversary Edition

Ural, the Russian motorcycle company that specializes in sidecars, has never been known for groundbreaking designs that blaze a trail through electronic gadgetry or super lightweight composites on the way to the most technologically advanced motorcycles possible.

Instead, the heavyweight iron steeds that roll out of the factory in Irbit near Siberia (out of the range of the bombs of Nazi Germany) trade things like fuel injection and ABS brakes for shovels and machine gun mounts. Seriously.

The latest machine from Ural looks as far back into the past as the Russian sidecar industry can go, harking all the way to 1942 when the first M72 motorcycles were sent into the Battle of Stalingrad based on designs for the German BMW R71, which had been superseded by the R75 in 1941. A total of 9,799 M72 motorcycles were produced by Ural for military use.

The new 2012 Ural M70 Anniversary Edition celebrates 70 years of history with two distinct models; one with a sidecar for $14,200 and one solo for $9,150. Both come painted in a perfect shade of olive drab, and there's a canvas tonneau cover, spare wheel and tire and shovel on the sidecar. And yes, there's also that machine gun mount.

Ural based the M70 on its Retro model with 18-inch aluminum rims, 40mm Marzochhi telescopic forks, Sachs rear shocks and a Brembo front disc brake. The frame boasts a longer wheelbase than other Ural models and sits closer to the ground, making it the fastest and best-handling model available. We especially like the teardrop gas tank fitted with a throwback Ural badge.

<This is so badass, I want the sidecar to put my dog in and just cruise the mountain passes with>

Petersen Museum co-founder, Margie Petersen 1936-2011

It comes with a heavy heart as we announce that Margie Petersen, husband of the late automotive publication giant Robert Peterson has passed away at the age of 76.

Margie and her husband Robert we co-founders of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, Ca. Robert, who passed away in 2007 was the founder of Petersen Publishing. He was the publisher of such titles as Hot Rod and Motor Trend. Since her husbands passing, Margie has served on the board of directors of the museum and has donated millions of dollars to the foundation that operates the museum, most recently the building and cars, totaling over $100 million dollars.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Subaru BRZ vs. Toyota GT 86

Subaru BRZ Vs. Toyota GT 86

Who do you think won in the design contest? The Cars are 
nearly identical but where would your money go?

My Money would go to the Toyota GT 86

Subaru debuts production BRZ sport coupe

Subaru debuts production BRZ sport coupe

Toyoto's UK division spilled the beans on the production GT 86 over the holiday weekend, and now Subaru has let loose on its version of this jointly developed sports coupe: the BRZ. Not surprisingly, most of the details we know about both models are identical, including their naturally aspirated 2.0-liter horizontally opposed boxer engines, your choice of 6-speed manual or automatic (with shift paddles) transmissions, rear-wheel-drive layout and low center of gravity.

Toyota states that the GT 86's engine will produce 197 bhp and 151 lb-ft of torque. Likewise, Subaru says its version will make a nice, round 200 horsepower and 151 lb-ft. Subaru also revealed a couple of tidbits that Toyota left out, including a svelte curb weight of 2,689 pounds and a standard tire size will be 215/45R17 rubber.

As for the car's design, there's nothing here we haven't seen before in the various concept iterations of the BRZ (and FT-86, for that matter). It's up to you to decide whether or not that's a good thing, but we'll just say we think the BRZ's better angle is from the rear.

Nissan Juke Nismo Concept

Nissan Juke Nismo Concept will debut in Tokyo

We've just learned that Nissan's Nismo performance arm has been busy playing with the Juke, and the result is the Juke Nismo Concept that will debut later this week at the Tokyo Motor Show. While not nearly as wild as the GT-R-powered Juke-R that Nissan is also working on, the Juke Nismo Concept nonetheless represents something you might actually be able to park in your garage one day.

Changes to the standard Juke range from the Nismo-developed aero kit that replaces the front and rear lower bumpers, fenders and side sills to the inside of the sport hatchback where all of the elements that a driver comes in contact with – steering wheel, shifter, pedals, etc. – have been redesigned. Being a Nismoproduct, many functional changes were made as well, which include lowering the suspension on stiffer springs, adding larger 19-inch alloy wheels and tweaking the direct-injected 1.6-liter engine for an unmentioned amount of more power.

2002 GMC Savana 2500 Diesel

Ok. Let me start off by apologizing for not posting in awhile. I have been very busy thankfully. I will be updating more often. I have here a nice 2002 GMC Savana 6.5 liter diesel van with 99,859 on the odometer. I am called in after this shop put a motor in and wants to set injector pump timing. They hook up the shop scanner and get no communication. That is when they called me in. I get the same result with my Tech2 scantool. The vehicle starts and runs, so I know something is going on. I poll the modules with my Tech2 and can only communicate with the vehicle theft deterrent module. Lets look at how this system works.
This system utilizes what is called Class 2 communication. Think of it like a telephone line. This line is where modules communicate with each other and with a technician through pin #2 of the data link connector. Each module on Class 2 has the ability to communicate all on it's own. It is what is known as a peer to peer system. It doesn't need a "master" module to work.
Here, I circled the players involved on this vehicle. Since I can communicate with the theft module I know I have some Class 2 communication. I have been down this road before. There are two common modules I see that cause Class 2 issues. They are the ABS module, the SRS (Air Bag) module, and their related wiring. The quick and dirty on these problems is disconnect modules one at a time and see if the remaining modules start talking. So, I put the van up in the air and disconnect the ABS module on the frame rail and recheck Class 2 comunication-no dice. Still only the vehicle theft module reporting.
   Now, the SRS module is under the drivers seat. Here is a shot from the passenger side. GM puts a one piece vinyl mat down throughout the front floor of these vehicles. This mat goes under the seats and over the the top of the SRS module. This vinyl mat is great for holding moisture underneath it. These vans all have water intrusion issues. If the fusebox and PCM isn't filling up with water, the windshield is leaking and causing water to collect especially under the driver's seat. So, we are left with taking the front seats out and peeling the vinyl mat back or slitting the mat around the SRS module with a razor to do some inspection. I get the ok to slice and dice and this is what I see.
Holy corrosion! I have seen these pretty bad, but this by far was the worst. The SDM (Sensing and Diagnostic Module) and it's connector are chia pets! Here is another shot.
I try to disconnect the connector from the SDM and will not budge. In fact, the shell comes off in my hand and the terminals are corroded to the module. Hard decisions need to be made here. I will have to cut this harness to see if we get communication back. I also give a sneak peek to the harness that is running back from the SDM to the front as they frequently corrode as well from trapped moisture. It doesn't look that bad, so I snip the SDM harness and now we have 5 modules reporting on Class 2. SDM, PCM, Radio, Vehicle Theft, and ABS. Now, that I am able to communicate with the PCM we check and adjust injector pump timing as per GM specifications.

Here is a scope pattern of Class 2 after we snipped trhe SDM harness and got the other modules back on line. I should have taken a capture before snipping the SDM harness. I guarantee you that it didn't look anything like this. This is a nice healthy Class 2 pattern. Nice well defined square waves that are 7 volts in amplitude and are off ground approximately 200mv for less noise. The square waves come in "data packets" as modules send signals to one another. What is funny is that the week before this job I was at another shop with a similiar problem. Someone had an aftermarket radio shoved in it and I was very suspicious that the shoddy radio install was causing issues. I pulled the radio out and was shining a light in there and noticed strong evidence of rodents-seeds, acorns, droppings, and chewed wires. Still shining my light in this area I was also greeted by roaches! At this point I fled the vehicle and informed the shop owner he needed an exterminator for the vermin and roach problem his customers van had. The next day another shop had van issues and lifting up the vinyl floor mat revealed a rotted harness and black stringy mold. At that point I informed the shop owner he had a EPA issue with that van. You never know what you are going to find.   

Sunday, November 27, 2011

New trailer for Automation, the car company tycoon video game

New trailer for Automation, the car company tycoon video game

A new trailer for Automation has made its way to the web. As you may recall, the game allows you to design a vehicle from the ground up with your own chassis, engine and exterior design before attempting to sell the car to the masses as part of your own car company. The game is now officially available for pre-order, which can save you $10 off of the final $30 purchase price. Camshaft Software will even throw in some exclusive content with each pre-order purchase.

Automation makes you the head of a new vehicle company in the year 1946. It's your job to turn your startup into a brand that's recognized the world over by producing the best vehicles possible. We couldn't care less about the business end of the prospect, but the thought of designing our own vehicles from the platform on up is enough to get us excited

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Limited-edition hardcore Lamborghini Gallardo 570-4 Super Trofeo Stradale

Limited-edition hardcore Lamborghini Gallardo 570-4 Super Trofeo Stradale

The Aventador is the Lamborghini that's currently getting all the attention, but the automaker doesn't want its entry-level Gallardo range to feel left out. Enter the "all-new" Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Super Trofeo Stradale. Named after the famed one-make race series created as a collaboration between Blancpain and Lamborghini, this limited-edition Gallardo will drop weight while adding racecar spec goodies.

Still, we can't help but feel like we're looking at a car Lamborghini already released. At the 2010 Paris Motor Showthe Italian automaker showed off the LP570-4 Blancpain Edition, which wore dark black paint, a big rear wing and tipped the scales at just 2,954 pounds.

According to the folks at TeamSpeed, the Super Trofeo Stradale seen above wears a beautiful shade of red called Rosso Mars. It also wears a massive rear wing and weighs 2,954 pounds. Both cars run from 0-62 miles per hour in 3.4 seconds thanks to the 570-horsepower V10 engine and all-wheel-drive setup.

Is Lamborghini simply trying to wring out every last coin and dollar that it can from the aging Gallardo? That might be the case, but who can blame them? We expect every one of the 150 examples to be snatched up quickly, and each owner will undoubtedly have a smile on their face when coaxing that 10-cylinder engine into full song. 

Brabus Rocket 800

Brabus Rocket 800

Brabus has been making supersedans out of Mercedes-Benz four-doors since 1996 when it introduced the first E V12 that could only go 205 miles per hour. With each successive sedan, the German tuner managed to inch that top speed ever higher until recently when it claimed a top speed of 230 mph for the latest E V12based on the current generation E-Class. As it goes with the standard cars, whatever the E-Class gets can't be far behind for the CLS-Class. And so Brabus has introduced its second CLS-based super saloon, the Rocket 800, at this year's Frankfurt Motor Show sporting the same mechanicals as the latest E V12.

What that means is stuffing a twin-turbocharged (or biturbo, as the Europeans call it) version of the V12 engine that Mercedes uses in its 600-Series cars into the welcoming bay of a CLS. The monster motor has had its capacity increased from 5.5 liters to a more a generous 6.3, which helps it produce the car's namesake 800 horsepower. Torque is also up to a claimed maximum of 1,047 pound-feet that's electronically limited to 811 lb-ft, which we presume is to prevent the powertrain from annihilating itself. Backed by a seven-speed automatic, Brabus' own limited-slip diff and a range of final drive ratios, the Rocket 800 can reach an ultimate speed of more than 230 mph in certain configuaration, but is limited to just 217 mph for on-road excursions. 0-62 mph happens in just 3.7 seconds.Of course, to be a Brabus you have to look the part, and the Rocket 800's exterior is adorned with all manner of carbon fiber filigree that performs the very real task of directing air where it needs to go (either into the engine or across a spoiler to keep the car planted). It looks suitably more menacing than a standard CLS or even the AMG model, but not so garish that you wouldn't want to be seen in one – something we haven't always been able to say about Brabus products.

Volkswagen Polo R WRC

Volkswagen Polo R WRC

Porsche 911: Evolution of a Racing Icon

Porsche 911: Evolution of a Racing Icon - Special Report

Illustrations of the Porsche 911 race cars from 1964- 2010. With its strong body and eternal soul, the 911 had racing in its blood.

/ Illustrations by Paul Laguette

1964 911
More road car than racing car, Porsche’s first 911-based race car, essentially an off-the-assembly-line 1964 Type 901, was meant to test the 911’s capabilities as a racing car. With Porsche racing veteran Herbert Linge driving and legendary Porsche racing engineer Peter Falk navigating, this Signal Red 160-bhp coupe, which was fitted with Webers instead of the original Solex carburetors, finished 5th in the 1965 Monte Carlo Rally. Now painted gray, this historic 911 rally car resides in the Porsche Museum.

1967 911R
Porsche’s first full-blown 911-based race car, the 911R featured a lightweight steel unit body fitted with fiberglass doors, decklids and bumpers, Plexiglas side windows and other weight-paring components, which reduced the car’s weight to 1786 lb. A 210-bhp, Carrera 6-derived flat-6 powered the 20 customer cars, although a 4-cam 230-bhp engine was used in the factory’s four prototypes. Never homologated, the R raced against other one-offs and, save an overall win in the 1969 Tour de France, enjoyed little success.

1973 911 Carrera RSR
Zuffenhausen’s first wide-bodied 911 race car, the lightweight RSR, set the tempo for the generations of production-car-based 911s that followed. With its signature duck-tail rear spoiler, the 2.8-liter, 308-bhp first-generation RSR won the Daytona 24 Hours, just like its successor, the slot-fendered 3.0-liter, 330-bhp RSR 3.0, which won the 1975 Daytona enduro and became a GT mainstay until it was supplanted by the 934 and 935 Turbo. Fifteen identical 3.0 derivatives were used in the first International Race of Champions series.

1974 911 Turbo RSR
Utilizing the turbocharging technology of its Can-Am racing cars, Porsche’s first turbocharged 911 was essentially a lightweight (1810 lb.) RSR fitted with fiberglass bodywork including wider rear fenders and a full-body-width rear spoiler. A tubular aluminum subframe supported the rear suspension, the transaxle and the turbocharged 2.14-liter 500-bhp engine. The two Martini-sponsored factory cars competed in the prototype category of the 1974 World Championship for Makes, finishing 2nd at Le Mans and at Watkins Glen.

1977 935/77
After the Martini 935 prototypes flexed their muscles in 1976, Weissach’s wizards revised the bodywork and suspension of the first-generation racer, which evolved into the 935/77, a production Turbo race car. While the latest factory cars sported new noses and tails with integrated turbocharger air inlets, cus­tomer 935s were fitted with the older style bodywork. Although the 1977 works cars’ 2.8-liter flat-6s used twin turbos for quicker response, customer 935s were initially supplied with single-turbo engines, which developed the same 630 bhp as the twin turbos.

1978 937/78 Moby Dick
Its massive whale-like bodywork earned this unique 935/78 the nickname “Moby Dick.” Lower, wider and longer than a conventional 935, the car featured front and rear space frames that were grafted onto a steel 935 bodyshell to support the suspension, bodywork and engine—a 3.2-liter, twin-turbo 4-cammer with water-cooled heads. With 845 bhp on tap, Moby Dick, aided by an extended tail reminiscent of Porsche’s long-tail 917 Le Mans race car, hit 227 mph on the Mulsanne Straight. With only a single victory and some DNFs, the car was retired at season’s end.

1986 Type 959 Rally Car
The third racing variant of the 959, the 1986 rally car was a lightweight version of the 959 road car introduced at Frankfurt in 1985. Equipped with an all-wheel-drive system that allowed torque to be selectively split between the front and rear wheels, the rally 959 was powered by the road car’s 2.85-liter twin-turbo 4-cam 24-valve engine, which was detuned to 400 bhp to cope with the inferior fuel encountered in the 1986 Paris-Dakar rally in which the 959s finished an impressive 1-2-6.

1990 911 Carrera 2 Cup
Taking over after the demise of the 944 Turbo Cup in late 1989, the 911 Carrera 2 Cup race car was the first of the 911-based Cup cars, which set the stage for today’s GT3-based cars. A stripped Type 964 weighing 2470 lb., 507 lb. less than the road car, the race-prepped Cup car was fitted with a specially selected production engine that developed between 268 and 272 bhp. Fifty cars were sold to customers competing in the various European Cup series that began in 1990 with the German Carrera 2 Cup.

1994 911 Carrera RSR 3.8
Last of the air-cooled Porsches, the 1994 Carrera RSR 3.8 was based on the Carrera RS 3.8 road car, a 2515-lb. homologation special fitted with aluminum doors and front decklid, and a fiberglass rear decklid with spoiler. Tweaked for racing, the RSR’s 3746-cc powerplant developed between 365 and 370 bhp. After outright wins at Interlagos and Spa in 1993, the RSR 3.8s won their class at Daytona and Sebring, the IMSA GTU title in 1994, and remained successful into 1995.

1996 911 GT1/96
Outgunned by purpose-built cars such as the McLaren F1, Porsche engineers whipped up their own GT1 contender by modifying a 993 bodyshell and fitting supporting members that would allow the normally rear-mounted engine to be turned around to make the GT1 model, the first mid-engine 911. A modified MacPherson-strut front and 5-link rear suspension lurked beneath a lightweight carbon-fiber and Kevlar body, which also hid a turbo­charged 3.2-liter water-cooled 4-cam flat-6 developing 600 bhp. The highlight of the car’s career was a class win and a 2nd overall at Le Mans in ’96.

2003 911 GT3 RS
One of many variants based on the 911 GT3 RS road car, the ultra-light, ultra-fast racing RS sported carbon-fiber body parts (front fenders, nose, doors and rear decklid) that pared its overall weight to 2420 lb. Powered by a 3.6-liter 435-bhp dohc flat-6, an RS entered by The Racers Group outlasted the much faster Daytona Prototypes and finished 1st overall at the Rolex 24, marking the first time since 1977 that a Porsche GT car took overall honors at the 24 Hours of Daytona.

2010 911 GT3 R Hybrid
Offering the racing world a glimpse of the future, the 911 GT3 R Hybrid uses Porsche’s 4.0-liter 400-plus-bhp flat-6 as well as an energy-storing flywheel-cum-generator (housed in a safety cell on the passenger floor) that powers a pair of 75-kilowatt (100-hp) electric motors driving the car’s front wheels. Although power distribution is now computer controlled based on demand, the driver can send power to the front wheels via a paddle on the steering wheel. Combined, the Hybrid puts out more than 600 hp.