I realize this has little to do with the automotive world, but I believe there is a lot to learn from the success of Apple.
"A good company must impute, it must convey its values in and importants in everything it does from its packaging to its marketing."
Steve Jobs (Left) and Mike Markkula (Right)
By 1977, as Jobs and Wozniak were frenzied, taking orders for the Apple I and looking for venture capital as they developed the Apple II, the men brought on investor Mike Markkula into the business. In addition to injecting $250,000 into the company and becoming a third partner, Markkula penned “The Apple Marketing Philosophy,” a three-point call to action that has served the company well. It can also be an example for other startup businesses.
Point No. 1: Empathy Apple should strive for an “intimate” connection with customers’ feelings. “We will truly understand their needs better than any other company,” Markkula wrote.
Point No. 2: Focus To be successful, Apple should center its efforts on accomplishing its main goals, and eliminate all the “unimportant opportunities.”
Point No. 3: Impute Apple should be constantly aware that companies and their products will be judged by the signals they convey. “People DO judge a book by its cover,” Markkula wrote. “We may have the best product, the highest quality, the most useful software etc.; if we present them in a slipshod manner, they will be perceived as slipshod; if we present them in a creative, professional manner, we will impute the desired qualities.”
Found at http://onetusk.wordpress.com/2011/12/11/the-apple-marketing-philosophy-by-mike-markkula/
Up for sale is a one of a kind MKV GTI. It has a unique history, as it was the development car for APR's product line for the platform. You can read some of the story below the gallery. I am the first owner to buy it out of the "APR family", but it has remained the development car of choice, even while in my ownership. It is mechanically strong, and insanely reliable. If I hadn't owned it myself, I would be skeptical at just how solid this car is, to have so much power beyond stock specifications. But everything was done RIGHT at APR headquarters.
I recently had it painted satin gray metallic, and I'm extremely happy with the results. It is my fighter jet. If I had the option, I would keep it forever. I love it. But we are moving out of state this month, and unfortunately I need the cash to make the transition.
I know that I will never get what it is worth, that is just the nature of selling highly modified cars, so I have set a very reasonable Buy It Now price, and a very low reserve. If the Buy It Now price is reached, I will replace the only three pieces with cosmetic flaws to be found, as shown in the last three photos; antenna rubber is worn out, passenger air vent (grip broke off), and Light switch is peeling. Anything less than Buy It Now, and you'll have to do those yourself.
This article was written by George Achorn in September of 2008 for VWVortex. It’s a good start to learn the history of the APR GTI.
"You might call Chris Gigon a company man. No, he doesn’t work for the FBI – at least he’s not saying if he does. Rather, he’s an employee at Alabama’s APR. Consider his day job and consider that he owns this grey GTI and it’s a pretty good guess that any further discussion involves the word “Stage” and the number “3”.
We should probably rewind just a bit to tell the whole story of this United Grey VW. This Package 0 3-door actually began its modded life in the hands of an APR client as a development vehicle for APR’s K04 program. When the client decided to offload some of his toys, the GTI’s days were numbered… at least until the car was sold to one of Chris’ co-workers– APR’s PR and Marketing guy Keith Lucas. During its period with Lucas, the car served as a development platform for Volkswagen’s R-GTI SEMA show car.
Having served its purpose as development mule for the R-GTI, Lucas finally sold the car to Gigon who owns it today. And, we’re told, he sold it at the same price at which he purchased it prior to the engine modifications – one of many job perks that would play out on this particular GTI.
Gigon quickly set about making the car his own. At this time, he took the opportunity to jump on a full leather setup with bigger-bolstered sport seats – a configuration unobtainable on a sans sunroof Package 0 GTI from the factory.
There was another motivating reason for Gigon to pick up the GTI. Like several of his co-workers, APR had an interest in using the car as a display vehicle to bring to enthusiast events where the Alabama-based firm chooses to show its wares. This meant it had to be a full package, so everything and the kitchen sink from APR and plenty more by APR development partners like BBS, Koni, Michelin and Oettinger.
As you can guess from the name, Stage III goes a few steps beyond the run-of-the-mill engine management programming upgrades. Of course APR has tuned the software, but they’ve dialed it in to work with mix of hardware upgrades as well.
For starters, the GTI’s turbo has been upgraded to an APR/Garrett Honeywell Ballistic Series GT2871APR Ball Bearing Turbocharger. It also gets a investment cast inconel nickel alloy exhaust manifold, upgraded FSI injectors, uprated fuel pump, an APR designed larger cast aluminum mass airflow sensor housing with honeycomb style flow straightener, APR custom Silicone hoses, and an upgraded intercooler with almost three times the capacity of the stock unit. Also part of the Stage III kit, the car breathes more easily via a Carbonio derived carbon fiber intake that pulls fresh and cooler air from the front bumper lower vent opening .
Another optional upgrade for the Stage III kit fitted to this car is APR’s full exhaust upgrade with quad tips at the rear.
To help put the power to the ground, the car also gets a new Stage 4 Clutch from South Bend Clutch (SBC) and a Peloquin limited slip differential. Also firming up power delivery is an APR lower transmission mount insert – minimizing drivetrain shock and slack.
APR has also made a model of finding strong development partners that accentuate the company’s engine-focused product line. Names like Koni, BBS and Michelin have all paired with APR, so it’s natural this part-time APR show piece benefits from products of each of these partners. Koni 1150 threaded fully adjustable coilovers help keep the car stable in the bends, while titanium-finished 18-inch die-forged BBS REs are shod with Michelin Pilot Sport 225/35/18 tires to help keep the car planted and pulling.
For what it’s worth, this grey GTI has a few modifications on the inside – namely the aforementioned Package 2 leather including seats, door cards, and armrest, OEM Navigation, a Valentine 1 radar detector system and Monster Mats from Volkswagen Accessories. On the outside, the car is subtly upgraded at the front with a Votex front lip, and at the sides with a set of Oettinger side skirts and a quad-tip rear bumper insert also from Oettinger. Given it’s a rolling exhibit for APR, full-on graphics promoting the company are expected.
A full-kitted APR 2.0T Stage III setup like the one on Gigon’s GTI is good for a claimed 385-hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. The Alabama firm also claims a 12.84 second quarter mile at 111.71 mph though customers have even reported 12.28 seconds at 115.98 MPH.
Those are impressive numbers, but one of the most intriguing aspects of this particular 2.0T configuration is the drivability. A burbly Audi 4.2 overrun with torque at virtually all revs it is not, but this is also no high-strung tuner car. Power delivery and throttle are virtually OEM in their smoothness and refinement, and the speed comes on as deceptively as the forced-induction Audi RS 6 we recently tested.
As we putter around the college town of Auburn Alabama, APR’s Keith Lucas has his PR hat on and explains quite a bit about the company’s development process. Thanks to a three car Volkswagen GTI racing campaign by APR in the Koni Challenge, the company has had considerable access to former SPEED World Challenge Audi RS 6 driver Randy Pobst. Pobst, under contract with APR, has logged many miles on the brand’s new Stage III during its development on both road and track.
Around town man-handling would send the front wheels spinning with a howling screech that would most assuredly attract Auburn’s finest. On race fuel and race slicks, this particular setup would even spin in third as we’d later find at the wheel of APR’s white SEMA GTI. Gigon’s exhaust sounds cool, though it is a bit much for someone looking for a more OE-sounding setup. For that we’d suggest the company’s new Reflective Sound Cancellation performance exhaust. The latter features NASA-adopted tech – a baffle-free exhaust engineered to bounce sound waves into each other and effectively cancel out a considerable level of noise.
Out on the nearby highway, we can properly stretch the legs of the GTI and are truly impressed. Power builds low (3300 RPM and pushes the car. My neck isn’t snapping like it was around town, but it is pushed back into the headrest firmly as I watch the speedo do its clockwise dance much faster than any GTI has a right to.
Since virtually half of all GTIs and GLIs are sold with DSG, we’re curious about how the dual-clutch auto takes the Stage III’s upgraded torque so we decide to inquire.
Twenty minutes later we’re back at the shop and about to go out on our second test drive in a yellow Audi A3 – a car owned by the company’s president Stephen Hooks and driven by virtually anyone else at the company who has the need to grab the keys because the point is to log mileage and test durability. The A3’s got S-tronic, the very same Stage III setup as Gigon’s United Grey GTI and is just as impressive. More importantly, the DSG car has already logged some 20,000 miles of testing with Stage III and can boast no problems experienced with the transmission unit or the clutches.
That’s one hurdle down for making all GTI owners compatible with the kit, but there’s still another that Lucas tells us they’ve already begun to tackle. This year Volkswagen began producing cars with the new EA 888 series 2.0T from the Volkswagen Group. The engine is different enough that APR’s Stage III setup will need to get a few changes. Prototype units are already being tested, though injector changes mean the kits will be limited to 340-hp on the newer and more capable stock injectors until a new solution has been developed.
For now, those with pre-EA 888 2.0T engines can get the off-the shelf APR kit for a cool $5,299 stand alone or $7,299, with a high pressure fuel pump and intercooler., plus another $899 for the optional exhaust. It’s not cheap, but the cost per horsepower is actually quite reasonable and the refined drivability is hard to quantify. More importantly, it’ll transform a GTI or any 2.0T-powered VW or Audi into a car that can hang with much more expensive sportscars while getting more than 35 MPG on the highway. To a car enthusiast, perks of the job don’t come much sweeter than this."
SINCE THIS ARTICLE Chris swapped out the rims for some Oettinger REs (tying the look together with the Oettinger bodykit) and ultimately sold it to me. I purchased the GTI, removed some vinyl, and APR continued to mold it into the beast it is today. They upgraded the brakes to Brembo Superturismos, and built the engine up to Stage 4 status; brought to life with a custom ECU file. It has too many parts to list, but APR can answer any questions about it you might have. They are the only ones to ever touch this car mechanically. They continue to use it in the development of new parts for the MKV GTI platform. At the time I’m writing this, it is APR’s most powerful MKV GTI build to date boasting 475whp. I have also updated the boost gauge to a Podi stepper gauge, did a rear wiper delete (parts still available to reverse), and painted it a satin gray metallic (shaved headlight washer openings, side marker openings, and filled VW emblem notch). I love the look, and the performance.
I am genuinely proud of this car, and sincerely believe you will be very happy with it for years to come!
This will make some lucky buyer extremely happy.
I found this at http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Volkswagen-Other-Base-Hatchback-2-Door-?cmd=ViewItem&item=140812071870&pt=US_Cars_Trucks#v4-42
Cadillac has long been synonymous with American Luxury and has been known traditionally for its cushy, senior-friendly sedans. After 110 years of business, Cadillac now faces a problematic crossroad: who are their clients and, more importantly, who are they as a brand?
In the past if you wanted a luxury sedan, you would buy a Cadillac. Over time Cadillac has developed their senior-friendly sedans with more plushy leather seating and amenities than you would ever need in a car. It gets to the point where you might be mistaken into thinking that you were actually driving a couch and not a car. Until the introduction of German Big 3 (Audi, BMW, and Mercedes Benz) to the American marketplace, Cadillac automobiles were the undefeated champions.
When the Big 3 showed up in the 1980s with the far superior Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, and the Mercedes Benz C-Class, the American marketplace began to take notice. With superior performance, handling, safety and reliability compared to their American counterparts while still coming in at around the same price, Cadillac knew they were in trouble.
Over the past three decades Cadillac's sales can best be described as volatile at best. In the 1960's Cadillac had a 40 - 50% market share, but in the 1980's and continuing into the 1990's their market share tumbled to below 20%. While BMW was producing nearly 330,000 3 Series sedans for the US market, Cadillac was producing a mere 40,000 Sevilles, the BMW 3 Series’ main competition.
Cadillac has been slowly digging themselves out of a ditch over the past few decades due in part to the early success of the new Cadillac Escalade SUV. Unfortunately the Escalade reached its peak production in 2004 with 62,000 units, compared to the 25,000 units produced in 2011.
Even after over a century of automobile production, the question remains........Who is Cadillac?
They are no longer the main supplier of luxury cars in America, they are no longer the choice for senior drivers, and they have never been the choice of young professionals. Cadillac is going through an identity crisis that has 110 years of an image they need to break.
Cadillac’s key to regaining market share is to not copy what the German 3 are doing with their offerings by increasing their sportiness. Instead, Cadillac needs to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Yes, they have been differentiating themselves for the last few decades, but it has been in the wrong direction.
Please view the video below that reviews Cadillac’s new CTS-V Coupe.
Cadillac's new flagship car, the CTS-V Coupe, takes the company in an entirely new direction. Alas, Cadillac’s new approach is far from innovative. It is filled with engines producing huge amounts of horsepower, where, unfortunately, there is a lot of stiff competition from the German Big 3.
Now how does Cadillac’s new flagship car, the CTS-V, play along with their brand image? Well the short and simple answer is it doesn’t. Cadillac is trying to get into a position within the marketplace where they can make a move to steal back market share and disrupt the German status quo. My question is how exactly does a company break the brand image that it has created for itself over the past 110 years? It won’t be easy to reposition such a well-known brand, but it is possible.
Cadillac has made great strides recently in doing just that. In 2011, Cadillac won in three of ten categories for Kelley Blue Book’s Brand Image Awards; the most of any automotive company. They took home awards for best exterior design brand, best interior design brand, and best comfort brand. While Cadillac is proving they still sit at the top in terms of plushy, big leather recliner worthy comfort, they are starting to be recognized and branded as much more in relation to overall luxury design. A position once held by the likes of Porsche, Lexus, and BMW.
Cadillac recently launched their very first fully backed team to race in the SCCA World Challenge Cup. There is a saying in the automotive industry, “ If it wins on Sunday, it will sell on Monday.” If Cadillac's team car can prove itself on the track, there is no doubt that I'll soon start seeing plenty CTS-V Coupes on my commute to work every morning, which I believe is exactly what Cadillac is hoping to accomplish with this new CTS-V Race Car.
There are many different ways Cadillac could rebrand itself in the marketplace, but one thing they must achieve to succeed is becoming known as a company with superior customer service. Luxury brand customers like to feel special and if Cadillac offered an amazing experience at every touchpoint, customers will be more than willing to switch brand.
We have all heard the saying “Its the Cadillac of Mini-Vans” meaning it is the biggest and comfiest Mini-Van out there. But what does that mean now? Cadillac has the opportunity to change their brand image. Does “It’s the Cadillac of Mini-Vans” mean that is has sharp and aggressive designs and a large engine?
Only time will tell if Cadillac will be successful in rebranding themselves into a highly stylized luxury automotive group that’s no longer for just for senior drivers. But I wish them luck because personally I am a huge fan of the brash CTS-V Wagon.
Chief designer for Sunbeam, Louis Coatalen was once quoted as saying "Racing improves the breed." With Formula One racers that look like nothing on the open road, and NASCAR, whose cars only LOOK like what you can get in a dealership, its hard for the average Joe to see why motorsport is relevant to their daily lives.
Production-based racing is where you can truly find that connection of road car and race car, Cars that wish to enter in these types of race series must start life as a model that you can find at your local dealer. The folks at Compass 360 Racing have chronicled what it takes to turn your daily driver into a race winner, and according to the description, "it's easier than you think."
The team starts out with a 2012 Honda Civic Si and takes the necessary steps to ready it for race series like the Grand Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge. The first move for racing mechanic Steve Stantidakis and the rest of the team is to gut the car almost entirely, removing interior panels, seats, accessories and the engine. The spread of parts along the shop floor in the video is quite remarkable.
Next, they separate parts that will return to the compact racer from the items that will be discarded. Once stripped down, a roll cage is installed, the car is painted, and necessary parts will be reinstalled.
A version of the Si's 2.4-liter VTEC four-cylinder tuned by Honda Performance Development engine is next to go in. According to HPD Senior Engineer Lee Niffenegger, the four-pot achieves roughly 25 percent more power than the standard Si engine through improved intake and exhaust flow, among other things.
And why go through all this trouble to convert a bone-stock coupe into a performance machine? Says Niffenegger, "The reason Honda races is to push our cars to the limit. You can only learn so much through what you do on the street."
From AutoBlog.Com http://www.autoblog.com/2012/07/20/watch-honda-transform-a-stock-civic-si-into-a-race-car/
We don't want to say much about this, because you really should just watch the introductory videos for Cadillac ATS vs. The World, a seriously intense videographic effort for the new entry-level luxury challenger. Racer Derek Hill, son of Formula One World Champion Phil Hill, drives the ATS into some of the planet's most taxing conditions, television actor and anthropology buff Ross Thomas rides shotgun, and Jeff Zwart steps out from behind the wheel of his Porsche 911 GT3 Cup to lead the film crew.
Know beforehand, though, that this is about more than a Cadillac – this is National Geographic meets a really long-form Super Bowl commercial with a ladle full of Top Gear thrown in. And these are only some of the highlights. You can check out this big global video series below, with the launch films from Patagonia and Morocco.
Found at AutoBlog.Com http://www.autoblog.com/2012/07/19/cadillac-kicks-off-ats-marketing-with-new-global-video-series/
Like it or not, autonomous vehicles are coming. Between Google's various efforts and the constant evolution of automaker prototypes, it's only a matter of time before computers take the wheel. Don't get us wrong, either. That's not entirely a bad thing. While U.S. traffic fatalities have fallen to their lowest number since 1949, the reality is 32,310 Americans lost their lives in traffic incidents last year alone. That number marks a decline of around 26 percent since 2005, and analysts believe much of that fall is due to drivers traveling fewer and fewer miles.
So, what if people weren't forced to drive at all? What if a computer, which can't be distracted, never grows tired and is always at peak performance, took over the mundane task of dragging warm bodies to work every morning or off to vacation every summer? Where would our traffic fatalities be then?
In the latest TEDTalks video, Chris Gerdes speaks about how he's been part of a team that's seen Audi tackle Pikes Peak and build autonomous drift cars. But researchers have found something interesting by studying real race car drivers in the cockpit. Namely, human drivers continue to be better at instinctual manipulation of a vehicle than their autonomous counterparts.
HIROSHIMA, Japan—Mazda Motor Corp. is charting a radical course for a Japanese auto maker: betting heavily on exporting, even as the strong yen makes it much harder to do so profitably.
While Japan's biggest car companies are accelerating production offshore, the country's No. 5 brand recently began production here of its first small sport-utility vehicle, declaring that 90% of output would be aimed for export.
The CX-5 is selling well enough in the U.S., Europe and Asia that the company will ramp up production, boosting annual output to 240,000 units by March from the 160,000 planned when the model went on sale in February. Overall, Mazda has forecast a profit of ¥10 billion, or about $127 million, for the fiscal year that ends next March. That would be a turnaround from four consecutive years of red ink totaling ¥245.7 billion. Mazda was the only Japanese auto maker to lose money in the fiscal year that ended in March.
Mazda executives say they can make a profit on CX-5 sales to the U.S. even if the dollar weakens to ¥77 from its current level of about ¥78.80. In contrast, Nissan Motor Co. Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn has said his company will have no choice but to shift production overseas with the dollar at ¥79. Honda Motor Co. 7267.TO -0.80% has said it would keep moving production abroad unless the dollar climbs back to at least ¥100.
The key to Mazda's gamble: Skyactiv Technology, a series of engines, transmissions and chassis that the company markets as long on fuel economy, short on weight and less expensive to make than previous components. Skyactiv—the name is meant to conjure a commitment to "driving pleasure" and environmental and safety performance—is at the heart of a streamlined, cost-stripped manufacturing system aimed at assembling all new models on the same production lines, regardless of size, shape and market segment.Sharing the technology provides economies of scale. Japanese rivals long have built different vehicles on the same production line, generally sharing a platform, for example, for sedans. Mazda says it can tweak what are essentially the same Skyactiv parts to fit different models across market segments —sedans, compacts or SUVs.
"Japan will remain an export base for Mazda," Kiyoshi Ozaki, Mazda's chief financial officer, told reporters after a recent tour of the factory here.
Analysts say the export-heavy strategy risks putting Mazda ever further behind its rivals. A strong yen makes it harder for Japanese exports to compete on price overseas and decreases the value of earnings made abroad when they are brought back home.
As long as Mazda remains heavily dependent on exports from Japan, its "profit level will remain low," warns Koji Endo, an analyst at Tokyo-based Advanced Research Japan. "As long as they are left behind in profitability, the company will lag behind in competition because of less [research and development] spending and cash flow."
The CX-5 is just the most extreme illustration of Mazda's decision to zig when other Japanese companies are zagging. Five years ago the dollar bought ¥114, meaning the Japanese currency has appreciated more than 40% in that time. That has made it significantly harder for companies like Mazda to export profitably without finding significant new efficiencies or raising prices sharply.
That challenge is particularly hard for Mazda, which makes 70% of its vehicles in Japan and exports 80% of them. Japan's top auto maker by sales, Toyota Motor Corp. makes just 40% of its vehicles at home and exports only about half of those. While Mazda's production plans were set before the yen began its steep climb, the auto maker believes production efficiencies can offset the currency's appreciation.
At the 40-year-old Ujina plant No. 2 here near—Mazda's first to build vehicles fully equipped with Skyactiv Technology under its new manufacturing strategy—the blue body-assembly line bustles with workers installing instrument panels, bumpers and other parts for the CX-5.
"Production lines will look much more different when we get more new models" built under the new methods, says Masamichi Kogai, a Mazda senior managing executive officer. The company currently makes three types of engines on the plant's single line, for example. That will become more efficient when more new Skyactiv-series engines roll out over the next few years, sharing common bolts and bolting methods.
Mazda's focus on domestic production is driven in part by loyalty—some analysts say a stubborn one—to its home economy. Mazda's headquarters is in nearby Fuchu, and the company dominates manufacturing in the area.
The auto industry accounts for more than 20% of the goods manufactured in western Japan's Hiroshima prefecture. Mazda's founding family controls the city's perennially struggling professional baseball team, the Hiroshima Carp, who play at Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium, which draws its name from a company advertising tag line.
Mazda is hedging its bets to blunt the yen's threat, looking for ways to expand overseas production. The company is building a factory in Mexico to begin operations by March 2014 and plans to start production in Russia this autumn.
But for now, the mainstay of Mazda's planning is at home, spurring an intense focus on finding efficiencies to offset the pinch of an ever-stronger yen.
The CX-5, the first of eight new models to be fully built with Skyactiv Technology, went into full-scale production late last year. The model went on sale in Japan in February and now is being rolled out overseas.
And while U.S. sales of the new CX-5 are still well below those of its competitors, Mazda has been able to compete on price with its rivals. Honda's CR-V, which since May has been built only in the U.S. and Mexico, sells for $22,495. The made-in-Japan CX-5 sells for as low as $20,695.
From AutoBlog.Com http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303644004577519962084961568.html?KEYWORDS=mazda+hopes+to+rev+up
As expected, the French government issued a firm "Not so fast" to Peugeot's desire plan to shutter a plant in Aulnay, France and get rid of jobs. The plant closure has been in discussion for a while, but the layoff headcount has been rising every time it gets reported, going from 6,000 to 8,000-10,000, and now reaching 14,000 workers that Peugeot wants to shed.
Both Peugeot-Citroën and Renault received billions from the French government during the financial crisis, the quid pro quo being that the companies wouldn't close factories and eliminate jobs. The companies' business positions aren't much better now, with Peugeot's overcapacity touching 25 percent. Sound business practice would dictate getting rid of assets dragging on the balance sheet, but the company remains bound by the deal it made the with the French government.
Nevertheless, the government knows that Peugeot has to do something – a carmaker that drags on state resources while sinking with every job intact is still no good to anyone. So even though French President Francois Hollande has said he wants to rework Peugeot's stated aims and French finance minister Pierre Moscovici said the plan "isn't acceptable" as is, Moscovici elaborated on that by saying "We are here to find solutions," and "I'm here to build."
The idea is to assure everyone that Peugeot's straightjacket will be loosened a bit, even if it's not free to do completely as it wishes. But it also sounds like the French government is getting ready to open the door to worker redundancies – not 14,000 of them, but it seems inevitable that a fair number of jobs will have to go.
From AutoBlog.Com http://www.autoblog.com/2012/07/17/frances-finance-minister-says-peugeot-job-cut-plan-isnt-accep/
We've heard it before: Kids today don't care about cars, and many are ambivalent about whether they will even drive or not. As hard as it might be to understand that mentality for us, it's a bigger problem for the automakers, who have lately been bending over backwards and jumping out of planes to appear relevant to young people.
So here's an idea, even if it's not a new one: Use Lego to get kids to love cars.
The managing editor of the Automotive News website recently took his family to Legoland Florida on vacation, where he was struck with the notion while watching his kids drive little Ford Lego cars, part of a sponsorship that launched last fall. According to the report, Ford's southern dealers are quite pleased with the deal, and have been using tickets to the amusement park as an incentive.
What better way to celebrate the 100th issue of "Walking Dead" than by building a badass zombie survival car? Comic creator Robert Kirkman did just that, partnering with Hyundai and Design Craft Fabrication to convert a Hyundai Elantra Coupe into the Zombie Survival Machine. The car looks so fierce, one can only hope Kirkman will convince Hyundai to enter it into production, though we doubt that'll happen. The car comes fully equipped to take on the hordes with a trunk full of weaponry and food for sustenance, massive wheel spikes to rip and trip walkers, front and back end floodlights, and a roof hatch to let people jump out for battle. In a documentary short on the ZE's production, lead designer Chris Castillo explained why it's the only car you'll need for the apocalypse: "One, it'll have bullets; two, if you run out of bullets you can just run them over with the callcatch; three, you can chop their legs off with the wheel spikes." 'Nuff said. Watch the video below to see how it was built:
Found at BusinessInsider.Com http://www.businessinsider.com/walking-deads-creator-has-built-the-ultimate-zombie-survival-machine-2012-7#ixzz20qMybLud
Generally speaking, until we've had at least twice of the FDA's recommended daily allowance of caffeine, we aren't as observant as we need to be. For instance, when we wrote about the newly announced Fiat 500L, we were so distracted by its massive glass roof, seating for five and the potential of six engine choices we totally overlooked a small, but buzzworthy option.
When launched, the 500L will be the first production car in the world to offer a "true espresso coffee machine." Yup, right there between the front seats plugged into its very own power source will be an actual, water-boiling, caffeine-dispensing, java-juicer.
Developed by famed Italian coffee maker Lavazza, the "Coffee Experience" kit comes with car coffee cups, a spoon holder and its own sugar container. At least one media outlet says the kit will cost €250 (about $300 USD). Fill the Lavazza 500 base with water and pop it into the center cupholder. The heating element boils the water, steeping the coffee-filled pod in the top part and, seconds later, you have a piping hot cup of brew.
Well, not you. Unless you live somewhere other than the States. Because while we fully expect the 500L to be sold here, there's no indication from Fiat that the Coffee Experience kit will make it through the gauntlet of attorneys just itching for a good burn lawsuit. It could happen, but it's not likely, so we're guessing 500L owners will want to keep an eye out on eBay for retrofit possibilities. Check out a couple of videos by scrolling down to see if it percolates your interest.
Al Capone was many things: A criminal, a bootlegger, a tax dodger, and a notable philanthropist. But most of all he was a celebrity. His exploits sold newspapers by the truckload and his appearances in newsreels entertained millions in the era before television. That his armored 1928 Cadillac sold for $621,500 just six years ago is a testament to the mafioso's legend.
Now that car is up for sale again – it will be auctioned on July 28 at the RM St. John's sale in Plymouth, MI, prior to the Concours d'Elegance of America. The Cadillac is quite the piece, what with its inch-thick window glass and rear window that folds down to accommodate backseat gunmen. Although the big car once carried some 3,000 pounds of asbestos-wrapped steel plate in its body panels, most of that armor was removed when the car was first restored some 50 years ago.
The Cadillac spent most of its life being displayed as a museum attraction in Great Britain, Canada and at the Smoky Mountain Car Museum in Tennessee, which owned the car up until 2006. Notable collector and attorney John O'Quinn bought the Capone car at that time. O'Quinn died in a traffic accident in 2009; his estate is now selling the car.
RM's presale estimate of $300,000-$500,000 reflects a poor showing at the 2010 RM Monterey sale, where the Cadillac was a no sale with a high bid of just $355,000. But according to RM's catalog description for the St. John's sale, new information has come to light since the Cadillac was last offered, clearing up questions about the history of the car immediately after it left Capone's hands. Apparently the car was purchased by some carnies from an agent in Chicago, who then exhibited the car in 1932.
Whether this new wrinkle will impress potential buyers enough for the car to find new ownership remains to be seen. Perhaps it will again be consigned to museum duty, as continued curiosity over Capone's celebrity seems as solid as the Cadillac's armor plating.
From AutoBlog.Com http://www.autoblog.com/2012/07/11/you-can-own-al-capones-bulletproof-1928-cadillac/
We've done a triple-take with the Opel/Vauxhall Adam, and after two rounds of grainy spy shots, this third official look brings the car into crisp, clear focus. From the looks of these photos, we like it a bit more than we thought we did initially. Yes, it's got plenty of Audi A1 going on in that greenhouse. Yes, there's a lot going on with sculpting outside and inside. Yes, customers might want to be very careful about how they choose their colors among the more than one million color and trim options – yes, your read that corectly: more than one million. But we'll say again, we like it (though in fairness the front end is likely to divide opinions).
The Adam is a challenger to other premium subcompact hatches like the Mini Cooper and the Fiat 500, and size-wise it's slightly shorter and wider than the Mini and has a slightly shorter wheelbase. To counter the fact that it has taken so long for General Motors to make it happen, the UK price of around £11,000 ($17k USD including Value Added Tax) won't skimp on features: stop/start, ESP, Hill Start Assist, airbags all around and a city steering mode with additional power assistance.
To counter the increasing obsolescence of traditional infotainment and nav systems, the Adam's optional unit will feature a seven-inch screen that plugs into the owner's smartphone and replicates the interface. The owner then has control of his phone via the touchscreen. This mirroring process is becoming more common, but we'll wait for more adoption to see how well it works in places where there's no cell signal and no backup maps on an in-car hard drive.
The four-cylinder gasoline engines available at launch will be taken from the Corsa lineup and paired with a five-speed manual: a 1.2-liter with 69 horsepower and two 1.4-liters, one with 86 hp and one with 99 hp. It will be a year before we see the three-cylinder engines co-developed with SAIC.
And yes, Jam, Glam and Slam will be the trim names. We aren't sure which ones are pictured, but since the trim doesn't appear to be written anywhere on the car, no one has to know. We'll get a better look at it in a few months at the Paris Motor Show, and then on European streets beginning next January.
From AutoBlog.Com http://www.autoblog.com/2012/07/11/opel-vauxhall-adam-zooms-into-europes-supermini-fray-w-video/
Isn't Maserati one of those brands we're always rooting for despite the odds? It's a whole lot like Alfa Romeo in this regard; we root and root for them to turn some magic corner that will signal a huge breakthrough with buyers and trigger a sweet reconnection with a glorious past of which we are so frequently reminded.
But the return to any true and powerful worldwide Ferrari-like glory just lingers out there, seemingly always a couple of years off. That the company is owned by Fiat is mostly a blessing, but it also engenders a set of sensitive political hurdles given the awkward banter between the Trident, the Biscione (the snake in Alfa's logo) and the Prancing Horse.
And then this Sport update to one of the two models built in Maserati's Modena precincts quietly emerges, we drive it as it really ought to be driven, and it's enough to have us cheering again. How can all the world not get behind a car so sexy as the Maserati GranTurismo and command people in that price bracket to buy the damned thing? It just seems wrong – and downright un-Italian – that such coercion isn't allowed. Yet surely the ongoing Maserati situation is the result of other things not going quite right beneath its corporate skin.
But we didn't want to think about all of that on our drive day. We wanted to drive the bells and whistles out of this 2013 Maserati GranTurismo Sport and have something approaching an irresponsible 1960s-style great time at the wheel. And we pretty much got it.
We were driving in and around Modena during the recent flurry of nasty earthquakes, too, so there was significant added drama in the air, and our thoughts go out to the locals. Our nearly 200-mile loop took us from the civilization surrounding Modena, Bologna and the straight-as-an-arrow A1 Autostrada, due south into what is a sports car wonderland of Apennine foothill driving. It is in precisely these sorts of off-the-radar areas where every great racecar driver of the 1950s and 1960s came for their truest form of over-the-road driving pleasure. All of history's great Maseratis were tested here in between exquisite coffee breaks.
This GranTurismo Sport is the model that replaces both the GranTurismo S and GranTurismo S Automatic in the lineup, so now there is just this Sport model in between the base GranTurismo and the heated GranTurismo MC. The GranTurismo Sport arrives in North American showrooms soon after the European launch in July, most likely in September for us. (It's important to get these production launches started prior to the Italian August holiday when things essentially shut down for the entire month.) That the GranTurismo Sport is now more powerful than the GranTurismo MC and quicker to 60 miles per hour in acceleration runs gives us reason to scratch our heads over the MC's higher price tag. While the more rigid 444-horsepower MC currently sits at just a few cents below $140,000, the much-improved 453-hp Sport should start at a little above $130,000.
On the outside, the GranTurismo Sport adopts an approximation of the look introduced on the MC. Headlights and front airflow are the two big items addressed with full-LED daytime running lights and adaptive light control to illuminate curves with up to 15 degrees of steering angle at the wheel. And there is a new front splitter to increase aerodynamic efficiencies and guide more air to the compound metal brake discs for cooling. Other exterior touches include more pronounced side skirts and 20-percent darker tint on the taillamp lenses. This blue you see is the new color dedicated to the GT Sport, called in Italian "blu sofisticato," and the Brembo brake calipers can be ordered in the same color as well. The telltale Trident in the grille gets red highlights now, a Maserati tradition for marking its most powerful cars.
The new power front seats with integrated headrests and more sporting side bolsters are a thoroughly welcome upgrade, the previous thrones never seeming to us to be quite up to the mark. And, despite pooh-poohing comments from jaded journalists, the new flat-bottom steering wheel does help grip strategy and aids leg/knee room while dancing through the regions' hundreds of storybook curves. The entire driver's zone in the cabin is close to ideal for a GT experience in a vehicle this size. Meanwhile, rear knee room is nicely increased thanks to new concave front passenger seatbacks.
Regarding the existing 4.7-liter V8 engine now milked for 453 hp and 384 pound-feet of torque peaking at 4,750 rpm (increases of 20 and 22 units of measure, respectively), this widely shared multi-point injected engine has reached its peak and is wonderful throughout. This, despite teetering on the edge of being replaced by an all-new direct-injection turbocharged V8 beginning in all new Maserati models starting as early as mid-2013 with the new Quattroporte.
But this will not be a good-riddance goodbye; this naturally aspirated V8 built by Ferrari and employed by Maserati and in Alfa's 8C Competizione is an icon of power and sound. We will miss the Sport exhaust roar engineered by the Italians in partnership with Faurecia of Germany. In this latest guise, the roar is best in Sport with gearshifts in the manual MC Auto Shift mode, and we found ourselves leaving the windows open a lot just to hear the song and the five-percent quicker gear changes that waited for our command at the 7,200-rpm redline.
Those shifts from the six-speed ZF automatic gearbox are also as good as they'll likely ever get with such a setup, though things should improve when a ZF eight-speed comes online within the next couple of years. Regardless, we ceased whining about that as we hammered harder and harder over the hills. Keeping in mind that this isn't an all-out performance Ferrari, this six-speed torque-converter-equipped box is extremely well matched to this V8. We expect more in the future from the GranTurismo calibration allowed for North Americans, but it's damned fine right now. We still remember our first drive in the GranTurismo S back in 2008, it had those perfect long carbon fiber shift paddles attached to the column. They continue on here and remain the very best solution in the fingertip-shifting business.
We once again tried the six-speed automated manual Graziano gearbox, called MC Shift, and were once again reminded why the setup was a flop in North America. As it stands, less than 30-percent of buyers in world markets opt to have their GranTurismo thus equipped. The thrill is still there at high revs or on track days, but on public roads and in daily stop-and-go, this transaxle setup is simply too full of the yips and shunts to blend smoothly with Maserati's chassis and gentleman-GT image. North America stopped getting the gearbox imported after a brief test run in 2008, and we'll have to wait and see if there is a new, more sophisticated automated manual solution in store for next-generation Maseratis.
Most important for this 4,100-pound plus GT sex bomb is its improved cornering dynamics thanks in part to a two-millimeter-thicker rear stabilizer bar that matches up with the latest generation Sport Skyhook adaptive suspension and the double wishbone structures at all four corners. We still recall the side-to-side dynamic looseness and excessive roll of the first GranTurismo units in 2007 and 2008. This new GranTurismo Sport is far beyond all of that. The uprated suspension allowed us to do exactly what we envisioned in our mind's eye through every demanding section of road, the standard 20-inch Pirelli P Zero treads sitting pretty all day long, hooking up as required.
We still root hard for Maser, and our latest driving chapter has helped a lot. Now that they've made the absolute best of what they have been handed by the mother company, we're looking forward to ever more inspired driving experiences in the next-generation GranTurismo. News of Fiat wanting upwards of 50,000 Maseratis sales per year by the start of 2016, plus the inclusion of an Alfa 4C-sharing Maserati with new Ferrari-built biturbo V6, is enough to get our hopes up. Much of that volume figures to be the new Kubang crossover model, but hopefully that will generate fat profits to pump back into Maserati's slinkier sports cars. After all, the Trident marque's storied history – and today's luxury buyer – demands nothing less.
From AutoBlog.Com http://www.autoblog.com/2012/07/11/2013-maserati-granturismo-sport-first-drive-review/
In all six Star Wars movies, George Lucas never showed us the hangar bay in the Death Star where the motocross bikes were kept. We have to thank YouTube user FreakinRad for locating Scout Troopers criss-crossing some planetary desert on said motocross bikes – along with some troopers of the Storm variety, a Jawa and a Tusken Raider.
So if you like your rebel searches to come with whips and heelclickers, there's a video for you.
Chris Harris took himself to Modena for an afternoon test drive in the Pagani Huayra. To watch him panting after a spell up some twisty roads, you'd have thought he'd gone for some afternoon delight. It's the most breathless we've ever seen Mr. Harris, and for all the right reasons – perhaps it shouldn't be surprising when he's intentionally getting loosey-goosey in a coupe with an AMG-sourced twin-turbo V12 trying to put down 730 horsepower and 735 pound-feet of torque on some roads as thin as an olive branch.
He agrees with the recent review from EVO that the Huayra is truly sorted in the speed and suspension department, and he does decree the steering slow for the esses he's navigating, but unlike EVO, he loves the gearbox and he pulls off his review without any unfortunate squeaking.
Found at AutoBlog.Com http://www.autoblog.com/2012/07/12/chris-harris-wrings-out-pagani-huayra-in-modena/#continued
Triberg, Germany is known for having the world's largest cuckoo clock and the country's tallest waterfalls. And now, it's known for having gender-specific parking spaces.
After the town's newest public parking lot opened, Triberg mayor Gallus Strobel decided at least two of the spots were hard to get into, "They could be dangerous for your car, so at the same time, we decided to make them for me and then give 12 others for women," Strobel said. Women get the larger, better lit spots.
He admits most of the town thinks it's a joke, and that he does, too. But he says women are welcome to attempt parking in the men's spots but that it won't be easy for them. "Like my secretary. Five time she tried and no success," Strobel said.
The mayor admits the parking rule is out of bounds and controversial, but he hopes it brings the town a little more notoriety. "Perhaps many more people would like to come and not only see our waterfalls but try our parking," he said. "It's a marketing idea and it works. I cannot work this week with all this publicity."
Found at AutoBlog.Com http://www.autoblog.com/2012/07/12/german-town-doles-out-parking-spaces-based-on-sex/