Sunday, June 24, 2012

14th Annual All Ford Powered Car Show

On June 10th, the Greater Pittsburgh Mustang Club held their 14th Annual All Ford Powered Car Show at Shults Ford/Lincoln in Harmarville, PA. It was a beautiful day for a car show with hardly a cloud in the sky and the blue oval well represented across the board. The show has been renamed the Tom Cavataio Memorial Show in honor of GPMC longtime member Tom Cavataio who passed away in late 2011. Tom's beautiful Grabber Blue 1970 Mach 1 was prominently displayed by his family. And anyone who knew Tom, knew he shared a great passion for anything blue oval. I entered my 2009 Mustang Bullitt for the 3rd year and brought home 2nd place for 2005-current Mustangs. Here's some pictures from the event as well as a full album of pictures taken throughout the day.

Butler Cruise-A-Palooza 2012

We've been busy the past few weeks, taking in lots of car shows and other events. So sorry for our lack of postings here. Today I ventured North to Butler Pennsylvania, birthplace of the Jeep and home to American Bantam for the 18th Annual Cruise-A-Palooza put on by The Rodfathers Car Club. These are just a few of the pictures of some of the awesome customs, classics, and everything in between that was on display. A rough guess would be easily over 1000 cars in attendance. Here's a link to the full collection of pictures I took.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Ford to the Rescue!!!

Ford dropped some huge news yesterday, announcing a new Special Service Vehicle Package for the F-150. This means in the near future when you are pulled over for speeeding or cited by the fire marshall for having too many people in your restaurant, an uber-cool F-150 might be part of the process.

According to Ford, the SSV package will be available in a variety of cab configurations, and with a variety of engines--including the highly popular EcoBoost powertrain. Making the deal even sweeter, the package comes at no additional cost. The marketing boost from having its trucks constantly in front of the public, just like the old Crown Vics, will undoubtedly more than make up for it. Besides, Ford is the only one out of the big three automakers that didn't get a huge government bailout and it is flush with cash.

It's a good time to be Ford, for sure.

EV Smart Fortwos Start Rolling!

Daimler's smallest production car--the smart fortwo--is now rolling out of the factory with a brand spanking new electric power train. As if the combustion versions of the fortwo are not fuel efficient enough, the new EV models promise even less environmental impact and greater fuel efficiency.

Perhaps most intriguing is that unlike some EVs, the electric fortwo promises a drive quality similar to combustion models. Daimler outfitted them with an electric motor that puts out 55 kilowatts and propels the car forward from 0 to 100 km/h at a respectable 4.8 seconds. While I doubt anyone is going to start racing fortwos of any kind (except for tuners--they modify Nissan Jukes for cryin' out loud) such performance should help drivers merge into urban traffic easily. The car also promises a range of 145 kilometers (that's 90 miles for those afraid of the metric system) in stop-and-go city traffic. Because of its small size, I think Daimler didn't count on anyone road-tripping in the fortwo.

Gone are the days that people viewed electric cars as only quirky and slow. The new crop of electrics are promising a more practical way to drive, all with no tailpipe emissions (the car doesn't even have a tailpipe).

How much will a new electric smart fortwo set you back? US pricing has not been announced yet, but in Europe a coupe model with a rental battery will cost 18,910 Euros, while owning the battery increases the price to 23,680 Euros.

Source: Daimler Corporation

Monday, June 11, 2012

Ford Becoming More Advanced with Turbos

Have you ever owned a turbocharged vehicle? I have owned three, and have drive a lot more. Turbocharged cars are funny things, as they are really not all good or all bad. In fact, having owned three different turbo cars, I can tell you that not all turbocharger setups are created equal. The bad of turbos is that they might have major turbo lag, leaving you waiting for your car to get up and go at stop lights. They also can burn through coolant and oil like nobody's business, leading to overheating, and they love to blow gaskets. The good in turbos includes that they are light on the gasoline, which can translate into a lower cost of operation. Turbos also make cool noises (especially if they have a blow-off valve) and they can turn a so-so engine into a monster (or a monster engine into a rocket).

Some higher-end turbocharged vehicles employ tricks such as twin turbo systems, which help eliminate turbo lag and increase/extend the torque curve for better performance. Unfortunately, having two turbos costs more, so on less-expensive turbo vehicles a single setup is the only option.

Well, in steps Ford, the American automaker who is innovating and shaking like crazy lately, with a new turbo technology for the 2013 Focus ST. The Blue Oval calls the new technology "overboost" turbocharging. You can read all about the technicalities (at least some of them--sorry any engineers out there) on Ford's website. To boil it down to the basics: the overboost technology greatly reduces turbo lag even though the Focus ST comes with a single turbo. Ford's technology also extends the Focus ST's peak torque output from 3,000 RPM to 4,500 RPM for up to 15 seconds at a whack. This increased torque band essentially works like a fighter jet's afterburners, giving the car a needed boost on occasion.

This technology actually isn't new, but the 2013 Focus ST will be the first vehicle sold in North America with the overboost turbo technology. Ford has been doing an excellent job selling Americans on turbocharged engines, with the EcoBoost trim levels going for a premium.

What about the drawbacks of turbocharged vehicles? The 2013 Ford Focus ST's engine is supposed to be tuned to virtually eliminate turbo lag. I have drive some vehicles with single turbos where this is the case, and driving them is a blast. As far as the overheating issue, Ford engineers claim they have outfitted the Focus ST with a very robust cooling system.

Also offered on the 2013 Ford Focus ST are Recaro racing-inspired front seats, as well as an exclusive color called Tangerine Scream. Obviously the American automaker is gearing the Focus ST to portray a thrilling driving experience, and I am hoping they actually deliver. With the new turbo technology, peak power output has been certified at 252 horsepower and 270 lb-ft torque, which sounds pretty thrilling to me.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Volvo teases M3-fighting S60 Polestar ahead of race debut

Remember the hotted-up Volvo S60 that's set to take the fight to the BMW M3 with enhancements from Polestar? The Swedish sport sedan we told you about is apparently not nearly as far off as you might think. According to a report from the TTA racing group, Volvo is set to debut its new steroid-enhanced sedan on June 16 at the Gothenburg City Arena race.

According to Polestar Marketing Director Hans Bååth, "The performance concept road-car is a spinoff of our work evaluating and developing the S60 for racing."

Mum's still the word on exactly what lies under the hood of the new Polestar S60. Rumors have suggested either a Yamaha-sourced V8 (a version of the engine that is used in the XC90) or a boosted version of the turbocharged inline-six currently found in the S60

Lexus heading to Pikes Peak Hill Climb with IS F CCS-R race car

The contingent of race cars that will compete in the 2012 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb continues to grow, with the latest coming from Lexus. Today, the automaker announced that its IS F Circuit Club Sport Racer will compete in this year's race to the clouds.

First seen at the 2010 Tokyo Auto Salon, The IS F CCS-R will be looking to to prove it's more than just a show car. Thankfully, it's properly equipped to tackle the 14,114-foot peak with items like a full roll cage, racing brakes, a lowered suspension and a slathering of carbon fiber throughout the car. The rest of the IS F has been lightened as well, with items like power windows, power door locks, rear seats and roof lining all removed. The powertrain remains the same as the standard IS F production car, however, its 5.0-liter V8 producing 416 horsepower and 371 pound-feet torque.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Watch Audi's A1 Quattro get thrashed on gravel roads

German magazine Sport Auto got its mitts on an Audi A1 Quattro, then tested the limited-edition hot hatch for high speed and gravel prowess. With 252 horsepower and 258 pound-feet underhood from its 2.0 TSFI engine, it's slightly down on gumption from the 500-horsepower A1 Clubsport that Audi showed off at the Wörthersee and Le Mans last year, but the bewinged A1 Quattro will still get from standstill to 62 mph in 5.7 seven seconds and onto a GPS-indicated 257 kph (159 mph).

The A1 Quattro is a little longer than the traditional A1 and it will come packed with enhanced trim, a 456-watt stereo and metallic-white paint, but we're still awaiting the small detail of pricing. Only 333 examples are to be produced

"High Gear" Mustang chosen to be SEMA's first all-female build [w/video]

One of the best looking Mustangs I have ever seen. 

Ford designer Jennifer Seely's "High Gear" Mustang concept will debut at the 2012 SEMA show this fall after collecting the most online votes out of three female-created Mustang concepts.

The SEMA Mustang Build Powered by Women, a partnership between Ford Motor Co. and the Specialty Equipment Market Association, will begin transforming a 2013 Ford Mustang GT into the High Gear concept with an all-female team.

The car features rosegold trim, satin black body, quilted suede seats and will arrive with additional modifications to the engine, suspension, drive train and sound system. Seely also added "angel eyes" to her concept, which are the horizontial lights across the headlamps to give it a distinctive daytime appearance.

The build begins in July by a group of aftermarket specialists. After the car is shown at the SEMA show, it will be auctioned off on eBay to raise money for the SEMA Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Patent application shows BMW working on seven-speed manual

BMW has invited itself to a party that Porsche started. Someone trolling through patent filings found drawings submitted by BMW for two slightly different takes on a seven-speed manual transmission. The first take is a more conventional setup that provides an honest clutch pedal. The second variant uses a shift-by-wire system to swap gears through an electromechanical actuator. To prevent drivers from accidentally engaging an engine-damaging gear in such a closely spaced pattern, both rely on an electromagnetic fluid inside a shifting module that can change viscosity to prevent the 'lever' from making a shift.

According to the filing, the system can work with up to eight(!) gears. It isn't clear if, even in the system with the clutch, the gear lever is actually attached to any of those gears.

What's also notable about the drawings is the shift pattern. Porsche's seven-speed shift pattern in the 991-series 911 places reverse and the odd gears above, the even gears below. But the BMW pattern in the drawing places reverse and seventh gear in opposing positions at the ends of the axis that is normally, entirely, neutral. Also, the shift pattern is drawn on what looks more like an iDrive-shaped stick, not the usual BMW manual transmission knob, nor the stubby dual-clutch stick as found in the BMW M6 whose reverse gear is still located above neutral.

Chinese take majority stake in German tuner Carlsson

It is clear that the Chinese appetite for luxury cars with monumental power and imperial luxury has barely begun, so automakers are positioning themselves to make sure they can provide a growing supply. Zhongsheng Group Holdings, owners of a dealer group that includes Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus showrooms, has taken a 70-percent stake in German tuner Carlsson according to a report in Reuters, and it has plans for its new purchase that offer enormous potential.

Saying that off-the-rack luxury cars have sold so well in major cities that they feel "like driving a Camry in Los Angeles," the Zhongsheng CEO is one of the new faces in the exotic customization segment. He plans to open a number of retail outlets for Carlsson, to use Carlsson to design bodykits and accessories for marques that his company sells, and to build a factory in China for local assembly.

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed. However, Reuters notes that Mercedes-Benz has officially approved the deal, which means warranties will still be honored for Carlsson customers everywhere.

Ford crowdsources first Focus ST commercial for U.S.

Ford has released the first ad for the company's upcoming Focus ST. The automaker headed to the warm streets of Key West with Tanner Foust and stunt driver Greg Tracy to give spectators a glimpse of the hot hatch's capabilities. The two wheelmen spent the evening tearing around closed sections of city streets with plenty of onlookers on hand, but there's a twist. Instead of relying on a professional film crew to capture the high-horsepower antics, Ford asked those in attendance to submit their own footage of the show. Throw in a little clever editing and we have a solid minute of sideways Focus ST action.

The 2013 Ford Focus ST starts at $24,495 and offers buyers a rash of go-fast hardware, including a turbocharged, 252-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 270 pound-feet of torque. A torque-steer compensation system keeps the heathen Focus pointed straight, and those willing to pony up a little extra cash can enjoy Recaro bucket seats indoors. Scroll down to check out the clever spot for yourself.

Watch Ford's Shelby GT500 gun for 200 MPH on Italy's Nardo Ring

There's a reason the speedometer on the 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 reaches all the way to 220 mph. By all accounts, Ford poured a substantial amount of development resources into the supercharged creation by running it through the ringer at some of the world's most hallowed courses. Those include the infamous Nürburgring and Italy's massive Nardo Ring. The automaker has finally released a video detailing some of that work, specifically on the Shelby GT500's high-speed dynamics. In order for a production vehicle to safely operate at 200 mph, the machine needs to not only be able to achieve the speed, but also to maintain the velocity safely.

It also needs to be able to stop at a moment's notice. As such, engineers ran the 642 horsepower sportscar up to V-max and proceeded to induce a full ABS stop. That must have been an interesting moment behind the wheel.

Next VW GTI to get 260-hp from 2.0-liter four

We've heard that Volkswagen will be turning up the wick on the next-generation GTI, and this newest report is certainly fanning those flames. Autocar now says the 2.0-liter turbo four in Volkswagen's next hot hatch will make all of 260 horsepower, but perhaps more importantly, the front differential will get some new technology to keep all that power from just turning into tire smoke.

The so-called VAQ limited-slip would use an electronically controlled Haldex clutch, bringing all-wheel-drive technology to the front-drive GTI, according to the report. The GTI will, of course, continue to be based on the Golf, but it is said to employ aluminum in the floor pans and roof to shed some weight. Supposedly, the top-of-the-range Golf R will actually boast a carbon fiber roof.

If Autocar is right, the Mk7 GTI would be the most powerful yet, topping the GTI Edition 35 and bumping the next GTI up to Golf R-like performance. Which begs the question: So just how powerful will the next R be?

Ecclestone delays F1 IPO amidst market upheaval

Don't expect to see a Formula One IPO until later this year at the earliest. F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone says his company is delaying a public offering due to an uncertain market.

The motorsports organization has been working toward a $3 billion IPO in Singapore that was originally scheduled to go live next month, and marketing for the IPO has already begun. But with Facebook's disappointing showing last month and the tech company's stock continuing to fall in value, Ecclestone says there's no rush to go public.

F1 is offering a unique IPO, wherein the company's shares and debt will be sold alongside one another. Ecclestone didn't offer a firm date on when we can expect to see the his company go public beyond saying, "it's going to be this year." The 81-year-old executive was otherwise guarded about a date, indicating only that F1 will simply wait until it's the right time.

EVO first to get their hands on Pagani Huayra

Over the last couple of decades, we've seen countless attempts by startups looking to crack the supercar establishment. Predictably, the intenders have enjoyed and suffered wildly varying degrees of success. Some, like SSC North America, have attempted to get the attention of the world's plutocrats through sheer speed, while others, like Spyker, have attempted to gain access to the world's wealth through Ming The Merciless design. Nearly all have brought something new to the table, but essentially no new brands have managed to join the pantheon of hypercar royalty founded by Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bugatti and Porsche. Well, nobody except for Pagani. If Horatio and friends don't yet have a seat at the table, they are certainly building the best case for admission, first with a seemingly endless stream of Zonda variants and now with this new Huayra.

The Huayra may have debuted a year ago, but the Modena-based automaker has been a bit skinflint with driving opportunities as it works the kinks out. In fact, the video drive shown above from the UK's EVO is the first full-on road test we're aware of. As we've seen and heard previously, the 730-horsepower Huayra looks the business, but we've been waiting for behind-the-wheel impressions.

According to EVO, the Huayra feels properly fast and engaging, yet it manages to deliver a stable, supple ride without feeling "old mannish." The throttle response from the AMG-sourced 6.0-liter twin-turbo V12 is excellent, but the seven-speed single-clutch flappy-paddle gearbox has its fair share of low-speed refinement issues and the steering is chastised for being a bit slow and heavy. Judging from the audio in the video from about 56 seconds in, it also appears to have its fair share of squeaks, though it could be an early build car, or the noises could simply be from the video camera mount.