Archive for May, 2012

Testa Rossa Most Expensive Car Ever Sold at Auction?

May 18th, 2012

Ferrari Testa Rossa prototype

The world of auction cars, and the ones that hold the record for the most expensive ever, is cloudy at best.

News sources like to flaunt a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa as the most expensive car ever sold at auction. With a $16.4 million bid when the final gavel fell, it is certainly on the list of most expensive cars ever. But does it really hold the record? Let’s take a look.

Not surprisingly, vintage Ferrari cars consistently bring a lot of money into auction houses.

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GM, Facebook, and Prospects for the Auto Industry

May 17th, 2012

GM's Facebook fan page

There’s big noise about the fact that General Motors recently pulled $10 million worth of ads off Facebook. Ford made it clear that its advertising would continue, and the two companies are squabbling.

GM says half its Facebook ads never get clicked on; Ford reached millions when it launched the new Explorer. The jury will be out a long time on this one.

While the food fight was going on, more important things were happening. Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway announced it had bought 10 million GM shares at well below the initial IPO price. That gave the stock a 2.3 percent bump.

Auto sales are on a roll, predicted to top 14 million units this year. Car sales accounted for fully half of the 2.2 percent U.S. economic growth in the first quarter. Take that, Mr. Romney.

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Cars Coming Soon: 2013 Nissan Altima

May 17th, 2012

2013 Nissan Altima

“We didn’t put all of the investment into this product and put in all the features with an expectation to be No. 2.”

That’s the kind of brash, confident talking I like to hear from an auto exec. It might sound like something you’d expect to hear from the head of VW or Chrysler, but in this case the quote is from Bill Krueger, vice chairman of Nissan Americas, in reference to the 2013 Nissan Altima.

Yes, Nissan is serious about its latest sedan. Not only does it want a larger share of the market, it thinks it can take down the perennial number one, the Toyota Camry.

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Total Confusion About BMW’s New 1 Series Offerings

May 16th, 2012


BMW makes great automobiles—and some very strange marketing decisions. Consider the 1 Series. The company announced a couple of years ago that there would be no M1 nameplate, because that moniker was taken by a car no longer produced.

So they built something they fumblingly called the 1 Series M—terrific car, priced to beat the competition ($47,010 to start), though production of 2,700 cars ended in December 2011. Reviews were outstanding.

The 1M (as some have called it, and so should have the factory) “really was an M3—light with a unique looking bodykit and the bi-turbo N54 powerplant.” And it performed as well as the M3 at the Nürburgring (see video here).

Now comes the introduction of the M135i abroad and the 135is (above) in the U.S. The M135i seems to be not really a BMW M car; it simply pushes in that direction.

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New Ford Ideas Are Crazy (and Genius)

May 16th, 2012

2012 Ford Fusion

Two recent developments from Dearborn could be used to make the case that Ford has gone crazy.

Or to affirm the fact that the people running Ford are geniuses.

If a company decides to eliminate its name from advertising, well, why bother advertising, right? Naturally, if someone brought up that idea in a marketing meeting, he or she would be labeled as crazy and promptly fired.

“You know, Mr. Mulally, I think for our next corporate ad campaign we should avoid the word ‘Ford’ and quite possibly not show our logo, either.”


That same guy is probably the one who recommended a motorcycle engine for the next Fiesta, too.

But, you know, both ideas kind of make sense.

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Green Update: Hypercar Hybrids from Porsche and Ferrari

May 15th, 2012

Design study for the F70

We have written about the incredible Porsche 918 hybrid before, with details here and here. Now, 918 Spyder prototypes have been spotted testing, looking a little like the old 917 race cars (see pix here).

The 918 will produce some 770 hp from a V8 and “two independent electric motors, one on the front and one in the drive line, acting on the rear wheels.” All this with decent fuel economy. Production is expected by the end of 2013, so you have time to save up the $850K it will cost.

The new Ferrari F70 is expected to replace the Enzo and may come to market around the same time as the 918, according to Automotive News. The F70 will probably cost more than the Porsche, but has some amazing technology, which we will illustrate below.

Why are these companies building such monster cars?

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Auto Racing, Car Industry News, Car Minded, Exotic Cars, Foreign Cars, General Chat, Green Updates, Hybrid Cars , , ,

Grandma’s Car: The Best Kind of Used Car Available?

May 15th, 2012

2004 Subaru Outback Limited Wagon

A friend wanted to show me her new car.

“It’s a 2004 Subaru Outback,” she said, “and guess how many miles it has on it?”

I looked at the car, which appeared to be in pretty nice shape. No visible dings or dents, clean paint, newer tires. I figured anything under 100,000 miles on the clock would be acceptable. I assumed, since she asked me about the mileage, it must be low. So I guessed low.

“Sixty thousand,” I said confidently.

She shook her head and smiled.

“Nope. Just under 10,000.”

I gasped.

“It was my grandma’s.”

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Shelby’s Gone. Any More Like Him?

May 14th, 2012
Shelby with a Ford GT40

Shelby and the Ford GT40

Caroll Shelby (1923-2012), whom tgriffith wrote about today, was one of the last true Car Guys. There just won’t be any more like him.

Here’s why. Shelby’s career began with sports-car racing, and there he made his greatest mark. He could never have created the Cobra or the muscle cars that followed had he not raced for Aston Martin, Maserati, and finally won Le Mans as driver, constructor and team manager—the only person ever to do that.

That was the great era of sports-car racing—the late ‘50s-early ‘60s—when the sport had a very big following and a bunch of grand individualists. Pete Lyons offers this tidbit in his tribute to Shelby:

“Old Man Ferrari offered me a job and I said, ‘Well, Mr. Ferrari, I have a family, three children, what kinda money?’ He says, ‘Oh, it’s an honor to drive for Ferrari.’ And I said, ‘Well, I’m sorry, I can’t afford the honor.’ And I had a deal with John Wyer, anyway, and I had another deal with Maserati. I had a choice of four or five different offers. So I turned Ferrari down.”

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Auto Racing, Car Industry News, Car Minded, Classic & Vintage Cars, Domestic Cars, General Chat , , ,

The Incredible Legacy of Carroll Shelby

May 14th, 2012

1967 Shelby Cobra

Carroll Shelby: Chicken farmer.

Carroll Shelby: Chili entrepreneur.

Carroll Shelby: Race driver.

Carroll Shelby: Car designer.

Word spread quickly when the automotive world lost an icon late last week. Of course, car people knew Carroll Shelby as the legend behind the Shelby Cobra and, later, the Shelby Mustang. The one-time chicken farmer had more than a half-dozen successful careers during his long life, though, including racing-team owner, automobile manufacturer, automotive consultant, safari-tour operator, storyteller, chili entrepreneur and philanthropist.

But, of course, it’s the cars that made him a legend.

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Automotive Madness: Three Stories

May 11th, 2012

Subaru BRZ

1. You may already have heard that a few dealers are upcharging for the upcoming Subaru BRZ (above)—to the tune of $5,000 over MSRP. Some have called this price gouging, which, of course, it is. Anyone paying this price is a turkey.

One imbecile argues that this is owing to the immutable law of supply and demand. Since the BRZ is in high demand and deliveries are late, if you don’t like the upcharge, “go buy a Civic,” he says. He also questions why anyone would want a BRZ when you can buy a Mustang with over twice the horsepower for the price of the BRZ plus the upcharge (around $30K).

The over-list gouge is not a new thing, of course. It’s been done with the Prius and other cars. Manufacturers should absolutely forbid it and, as one commenter said, take away the dealer’s allocation. It’s a perversion of supply and demand.

2. The Responsible Young Drivers group in Belgium came up with a great idea: Make teens take a driving test in which they are forced to text and drive, with the driving instructor telling them that this is a new legal requirement.

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