Honda FCX

Honda FCX

My college had a hydrogen-car building program, and every once and a while they’d trot the fleet out on the quad so passersby could gawk and stare. While they were a neat concept, most of them looked like go karts with body kits. Not anything you’d really want to pick up a date in, unless she was a member of the Earth Liberation Front.

Honda’s FCX, the automaker’s hydrogen vehicle, has been around for a few years. Occasionally, one can be seen touring the streets of Los Angeles, but they still weren’t turning any heads. However, at the L.A. Auto Show, Honda unveiled a fully functional FCX that actually looks as cool on the outside as it is under the hood.

The FCX concept car features an improved fuel cell and a high-energy lithium battery, which allows it to travel 30 percent further than the old model. New technology under the hood makes it possible for a sleek, sedan shape instead of a squat SUV style.

The FCX will be released in 2008, albeit in very limited amounts. There are a number of reasons why we won’t all be cruising around in FCXs sometime soon, and most of them have to do with cost. Although Honda is getting the technology right, it is very expensive, and the scope of equipping gas stations with hydrogen pumps is almost impossibly enormous.

Visit Honda’s international website for more info.

Gift Books for Car Junkies

Shopping for holiday gifts (Christmas gifts AND Hanukkah gifts, thanks to my 21st-century blended family) is always a source of stress for me. This year, though, you’ll find some great gift choices for your favorite car buffs in your local bookstore (or on,, and the like)!

Jerry Burton, a familiar name in auto journalism, particularly of the coffee-table book variety, has come out with a lavish new picture book on Corvettes. Corvette: America’s Sports Car: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow is a must-have for any ‘Vette-heads on your list. Gorgeous photos accompany Burton’s thoughts on the iconic American muscle car. It’s a nice-looking, well-produced volume from Hugh Lauter Levin Associates.

Another splashy new picture book that should make that hard-to-shop-for gearhead happy is Muscle: America’s Legendary Performance Cars, from authors Randy Leffingwell and Darwin Holmstrom, with photographs by David Newhardt and Mike Mueller. Leffingwell is one of the great chroniclers of American automotive history, and he knows the muscle, performance, sports, and racing models like few others. Holmstrom, too, is a seasoned motorsports writer. The biggest selling point of this volume, though, has got to be its pictures. They are mouthwateringly gorgeous and beautifully reproduced. You can find this Motorbooks volume in all the usual outlets and (surprisingly enough) through the Restoration Hardware catalogue.

Super hardcore car geeks will be delighted with Stephen Newbury’s latest edition of The Car Design Yearbook (#5). As always, the folks at Merrell Press have put together a great-looking, well-produced book. It’s Newbury’s take on concept cars and new designs that’s the real treat, though; his perspective as a longtime industry insider makes his Yearbook a revelation.

And just in case you want to tease someone with the automotive equivalent of coal in a stocking, let me recommend the 2007 Crap Cars Calendar. Spun off from the 2005 Bloomsbury USA book by Richard Porter, this year’s calendar features some of the automotive industry’s most hilarious missteps, with snarky text and vintage pictures.

New Honda Accord Concept Set for January Debut

Even as we’re still sorting out all the automotive debuts that came out of the L.A Auto Show late last week, we’re starting to hear of introductions slated for the Detroit Auto Show (officially known as the North American International Auto Show), which takes place in early January. Honda, for instance, is one of the first out of the gates with its announcement that it will debut an Accord Coupe Concept vehicle, which “will provide a first look at the direction the next-generation Accord will take,” according to Honda. The automaker also notes that this is the first time an Accord concept car has ever been shown at a major auto show.

Given the fact that the Accord is Honda’s bestselling model in North America (again according to Honda), there’s a lot riding on this new design. And we like what we see so far. The car looks a bit hunkier and more aggressive, with a redesigned tail, wraparound tallights, new wheels, and four exhaust pipes. We’ll know more when the actual car makes its appearance sometime around Jan. 7 to 9, 2007.