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2015 Mercedes-Benz S550 Coupe

  • 2015 Mercedes-Benz S550 Coupe
  • 2015 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S Roadster
  • Chevy Camaro 1LE vs Ford Mustang with Performance Pack, surprises ensue
  • MotorWeek remembers retro icons: Toyota Supra and Acura NSX

Jay Leno takes a Surfin' Safari in a 1937 Ford Woodie Restomod

Posted Oct 23rd 2014 11:00AM

1937 Ford Woodie Restomod

Woodie wagons were a major part of surfing culture in the 1960s, offering coastal style and a ton of room, and they even earned a mention in the Beach Boys' classic song Surfin' Safari. This week, Jay Leno's Garage takes a look at two modern, restomodded examples of these style icons.

Unlike a lot of restomods, builder Scott Bonowski keeps these wagons looking almost completely stock on the outside, and all of the upgrades are hidden underneath the timber. You can't tell by looking at it, but the '37 Woodie (pictured above) has independent front and rear suspension, disc brakes and a Ford 5.0-litre V8 under the hood.

Beyond the mechanical aspect, the craftsmanship into the wood is astounding. Bonowski claims there are between 30 and 50 coats of varnish on this wagon. It makes these woodies as much of a piece of fine furniture as a vehicle to drive.

Leno might be taking his garage to television sometime soon, but until then, we still get to enjoy Jay heaping some love on fantastic cars once a week. Click here to take a tour of two of these intriguing classics in his latest video below.

Related Gallery1947 Ford Sportsman 'Woodie'
1947 Ford Sportsman 'Woodie'1947 Ford Sportsman 'Woodie'1947 Ford Sportsman 'Woodie'1947 Ford Sportsman 'Woodie'1947 Ford Sportsman 'Woodie'1947 Ford Sportsman 'Woodie'1947 Ford Sportsman 'Woodie'1947 Ford Sportsman 'Woodie'

News Source: Jay Leno's Garage via YouTube

Kids 39% more likely to buy parents' car brand

Posted Oct 23rd 2014 10:00AM

CHINA-AUTO-SHOW

Children are a blank slate. They draw their habits, behaviours and mannerisms from their parents. If you subscribe to that viewpoint, then this study out of Michigan State University won't really come as a surprise. According to Soren Anderson, and MSU economist, kids are 39 per cent more likely to buy cars from the brands their parents support.

So, if your parents buy Jeeps, there's a strong correlation that you're going to end up behind a seven-slat grille at some point. Same goes for Cadillac owners, Toyota fans and Bimmerphiles.

The on-going study drew this correlation after surveying 4,300 adult children and their 2,600 parents. The US nationwide surveys were held every two years between 1999 and 2011 and brands were bunched by ownership, so for example, rather than listing Cadillac, Chevrolet, Buick and GMC independently, General Motors was the sole option.

"In theory, these findings could change the way automakers price and market their cars," Anderson claims. "Is this really about the cars or could it be other factors, like parents and children tending to be more similar to each other than other people? We're pretty sure it has something to do with the cars themselves."

The results of Anderson's study will be published in the Journal of Industrial Economics. Scroll down for a press release on the topic.

News Source: Michigan State University

Image Credit: Peter Parks / AFP / Getty Images

Daimler divests remaining interest in Tesla

Posted Oct 23rd 2014 9:00AM

Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive

Back in 2009, Daimler acquired over 9 per cent of Tesla. A couple of months later, it sold 40 per cent of that stake to Abu Dhabi-based Aabar Investments. The following year, Tesla listed on the stock exchange and Daimler's interest was reduced to 4 per cent. But now the German industrial giant has announced it is selling that 4 per cent and divesting from Tesla altogether in a liquidation that is expected to raise approximately $780 million for Daimler. The divestment has also triggered speculation that the move could make room for rival German automaker BMW to take an interest in Tesla.

Despite the divestment, Daimler insists that its technological partnership with Tesla will remain unaffected. Mercedes sources the batteries for its B-Class Electric Drive (pictured above) from the Californian outfit in a deal that is not set to change as a result of the financial realignment. A similar collaboration was in place for the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive, however, now that the new generation of Smarts developed with Renault is on its way, it's possible that a next-generation Fortwo ED will use French tech instead as an extension of the partnership between Daimler and Renault-Nissan.

Daimler has also taken the occasion to point out that, between the Mercedes, Smart and various truck brands, it offers "the industry's biggest portfolio of electric vehicles," including pure EVs, fuel cells and hybrids. The automaker says it will introduce ten new plug-in hybrid Mercedes models by 2017.

News Source: Daimler, Forbes

Mini-doc showing at-risk kids building motorcycles in 100 days will warm your heart

Posted Oct 22nd 2014 8:00PM

Moto Build mini-documentary

There are a lot of things in this world that can make you feel pretty defeated – just turn on the national news on any given night for dozens of examples. It's nice every once in a while to get a reminder that things aren't always so bad. If you're looking for a little pick-me-up, just watch this video.

This five-minute mini-documentary tells the story of The Running Rebels of Milwaukee, WI, as they take part in a contest called Build Moto. The group targets high-school kids who might be close to falling into gang life in the city or just need a place to go, and mentors teach them how to do something productive: build motorcycles. As part of Build Moto, each team has just 100 days to complete a bike from scratch, and later, all of the squads compete in various challenges.

It has to be hard to compress 100 days of work into just a few minutes, but this documentary tells a cohesive story about the team. Check out the video to see a cool project for at-risk kids that results in some pretty neat motorcycles.

News Source: Dear MKE via YouTube, Asphalt and Rubber

McLaren offers glimpse inside P1 GTR program [w/video]

Posted Oct 22nd 2014 7:00PM

McLaren P1 GTR prototype on track in Bahrain

Among the many things we were looking forward to seeing at Pebble Beach this year, the McLaren P1 GTR was near the top of our list. Invoking the spirit of the legendary McLaren F1 GTR that dominated sports car racing in the mid-1990s, the P1 GTR was unveiled in Monterey this past August in concept form, giving us an idea of what to expect. But now McLaren has given us a little more.

McLaren P1 GTR cockpitEnvisioned as a track toy for the wealthy who want to play racing driver, the P1 GTR is a further evolution – and a more extreme one – of the road-going P1. The GTR is being developed exclusively for use on track. To that end, Woking has stripped out the cockpit and installed a multifunction steering wheel said to be derived from the championship-winning MP4-23 grand prix car, allowing the driver to "fully adjust the setup and characteristics of the car without having to take their hands off the wheel." The racing buckets are modeled after a DTM touring car, equipped with six-point harnesses and affixed directly to the chassis. Outside you'll notice Pirelli slicks and a fixed rear wing with F1-style Drag Reduction System.

The P1 GTR is about more than the vehicle itself, though, as McLaren – similar to what Ferrari offers with the XX client test-driver program – is launching a full driver support program to go along with it. Customers will have access to the advanced simulator at the McLaren Technology Centre (typically reserved for the team's contracted racing drivers) as well as the factory's coaches. The program will also include 10 to 12 track sessions each year, to be held at F1-certified tracks around the world, at which each customer will have his or her own garage and crew, all for the benefit of their enjoyment.

The program is laid out in the video below, along with which McLaren has released a fresh batch of images showing the uncamouflaged prototype inside and out undergoing hot-weather testing at the grand prix circuit in Bahrain.

Related GalleryMcLaren P1 GTR
McLaren P1 GTRMcLaren P1 GTRMcLaren P1 GTRMcLaren P1 GTRMcLaren P1 GTRMcLaren P1 GTRMcLaren P1 GTRMcLaren P1 GTR


News Source: McLaren

Audi reveals new TT spec racer

Posted Oct 22nd 2014 6:00PM

Audi Sport TT Cup

We've seen the coupe. We've seen the convertible. We're still waiting on word of the next variant, but before it arrives, Audi has revealed the racing version of the new TT.

Set to form the backbone of the inaugural Audi Sport TT Cup, the competition-spec sports coupe is closely based on the production version packs the same 2.0-litre turbo four and six-speed dual-clutch transmission as the road-going TTS, delivering the same 310 horsepower, but with a push-to-pass boost of an extra 30 hp.

It's also got an active differential, and while the full specifications have not yet been revealed, it's clear that Audi has also outfitted the TT racer with more aggressive aero, track-spec rolling stock and a stripped-out cockpit (complete with the Audi PS1 Safety Seat from the R8 LMS Ultra) to get weight down to from 1,225 kilograms (2,700 pounds) in stock production form to 1,125 kg (2,480 lbs).

The Audi Sport TT Cup will kick off next season in Germany as a support series to the DTM championship with a grid of 24 cars – including 18 permanent spots and six reserved for a changing roster of guest drivers. Aspiring racers will be coached by former DTM and endurance driver Markus Winkelhock and the trophy winner will get a shot at a GT3 race seat.

News Source: Audi

Novel head-up display aims to improve lap times with video-game-like ghost car [w/video]

Posted Oct 22nd 2014 5:00PM

GhostDash Kickstarter

Ever wish racing in real life was more like playing Gran Turismo or Forza? By that don't mean lots of swearing and sideswiping other racers into corners, we think it would just be useful to have all of the game's data available on-the-fly in real life – especially a ghost car for comparing previous laps. A solution for track drivers may be on the way from a company called High Rise Garage thanks to its software and giant head-up display called the GhostDash.

The whole system basically presents the entire HUD from a racing video game as an augmented reality display in an actual moving car. Looking through the 98-per cent transparent screen, a driver can see a ghost car projection running its last lap. At the bottom, there's a display for current speed, the gap and lap times. It's supposed to make learning a faster line much easier. "We believe HUDs and ghost cars are the next step in utilizing the data racers collect to make it easier and safer," spokesman Justin Hayes tells Autoblog. We can see applications beyond racing, too, including basic driver's education programs.

The GhostDash is possible thanks to several pieces of technology working together. The raw data comes from a GPS unit that sends info to software running on a Windows device, which crafts it into an image. A linked projector then displays the HUD on a 15-inch holographic screen that hangs from a mount in front of the driver.

GhostDash isn't quite ready to buy yet, though. High Rise Garage is running a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of $43,500 to complete funding for the system, but the company claims the software and hardware work now. The business needs the funds for final development and manufacturing, and the company thinks it can start shipping units in January, 2015.

The Kickstarter campaign is broken into three major tiers. For $40, pledgers just get the software to run on a Windows device (the company recommends a Surface Pro tablet). For $1,900, people also get the projector and screen to display the HUD on. Finally, $3,600 also adds a Surface Pro 3 to run the software and Vbox Sport GPS unit. For the two lower levels, buyers need to supply their own GPS device and GhostDash currently supports three devices with plans to add two more.

Developing this kind of tech is a huge undertaking, but High Rise Garage is already considering the future. It eventually wants to add features like custom maps to support users who autocross and a racing line to the software. Scroll down to watch a video of the GhostDash in action and read the company's press release about it.

News Source: Kickstarter, GhostDash via YouTube

Image Credit: High Rise Garage

BMW i8 with 500+ horsepower in the cards?

Posted Oct 22nd 2014 4:30PM

2015 BMW i8

While BMW makes plenty of machinery to keep enthusiasts interested, its most enticing models are often based on more ordinary ones. That's what made the arrival of the i8 so captivating, emerging as the first stand-alone BMW sports coupe since the M1. But if its dual purpose – trying its best to both embrace the earth and traverse it rapidly – somehow left you disappointed, the next development could prove to fix that.

According to Automobile, BMW is working on a more potent i8S model. The hardcore version of the hybrid sports car would offer more power and a stiffened chassis to make it that much more aggressive. The Bavarian automaker is reportedly still evaluating two potential powertrain options: The first would pair a 2.0-litre twin-turbo four-cylinder good for 320 horsepower to an electric motor with another 204 hp. The second would use a 3.0-litre straight six with 480 hp and an electric motor with 109 hp. Both would be mated to a nine-speed dual-clutch transmission and an integrated starter motor packing an extra 27 hp.

Either way, we'd be looking at a combined output well in excess of 500 horsepower – far more than the existing i8's 228-hp turbo three and 129-hp electric motor – dropping the 0-100 km/h time down from 4.1 seconds to an estimated 3.5. Couple that to a more advanced carbon chassis, wider tires and other goodies, and the i8 would be transformed into a far more capable performance machine than it already is.

Automobile says the project is not being undertaken by the M division but by the i brand that developed the i8 in the first place – including new program director Roberto Fedeli who came over from Ferrari. Its arrival would be timed to coincide with BMW's centenary celebrations in 2016.

Related Gallery2015 BMW i8: First Drive
2015 BMW i8: First Drive2015 BMW i8: First Drive2015 BMW i8: First Drive2015 BMW i8: First Drive2015 BMW i8: First Drive2015 BMW i8: First Drive2015 BMW i8: First Drive2015 BMW i8: First Drive


News Source: Automobile

Did you know? 1 in 5 vehicles has been recalled this year

Posted Oct 22nd 2014 4:00PM

General Motors Recall

2014 will forever be known as the year of the recalls. General Motors has been the biggest culprit, with over 70 recalls to date, but there have been plenty of other notable recalls competing for our attention this year.

Now, CNN Money is reporting that 2014 has seen a total of 544 recalls, or about two a day, so far. Those recalls have afflicted 52 million vehicles, or about one in every five on US roads alone - that's not even counting Canada! Disturbing as that figure may be, it's made worse by the fact that 2014 has easily eclipsed the previous record of 30.8 million units back in 2004. With another ten weeks left in the year, there remains a solid chance that this year will double the previous total.

While it's easy to chalk up the plethora of recalls to falling reliability, there's a much more obvious reason that so much is going wrong so often. "We all want our cars to do far more than they did in the past," Stericycle VP Mike Rozembajgier told CNN. "It takes a lot of gadgets to make that happen, and that adds to complexity."

With our demand for more and more technology in our cars, it seems likely that 2014 will be far from the last year of huge recalls. Click here to read our article questioning if the auto industry's seemingly endless stream of recalls the new normal?

After GM's Apology: More Than 2 Million Dangerous Cars Still On The Road

News Source: CNN Money

Image Credit: Molly Riley / AP

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