Hyundai: More American Than Ford, GM and Chrysler?

2011 Hyundai Sonata

Sonata: Built in the U.S.A.

Nothing is more American than the story of Henry Ford tinkering in a Detroit garage and then starting one of the most successful and innovative car brands in history.

The Ford Mustang may be the most iconic American car ever produced.

Chevrolet branded itself as the “Heartbeat of America.”

But the most American automotive brand, as of next year, just might be Hyundai. According to CNN Money, in 2011 80 percent of the vehicles that Hyundai sells in the United States will be built here as well, giving the automaker top spot in the “Made in the U.S.A.” rankings.

Does that really make the Korean company any more American than its Detroit counterparts? Not really.

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New 911 GT3 Cup Car: Porsche Is Taking Orders

2011 Porsche GT3 Cup

I like Grand Touring (GT) racing, because it puts a real premium on car design and driver skill. And the cars are all production-derived. For some years, the worldwide standout has been Porsche’s 911 GT3, and the 2011 racing version, called the Cup Car, will be no different.

It is the latest edition of what Porsche claims is the best-selling race car of all time (1,400 GT3 units sold since 1998). The GT3 RS just picked up the prestigious Autocar magazine’s award for Best Driver’s Car for 2010, beating out the Noble M600 and the Ferrari 458 Italia.

The Cup Car has compiled an incredible record. It has won all kinds of championships, including the 2010 GT2 class at Le Mans. The 2011 version, to come early next year, is still based on the 911 GT3 RS road car, but features much-reduced weight, a wider track, better aerodynamics, and some very neat driver features and controls.

You can see these after the break in a great driving video (the best I’ve seen of true sports-car driving) of the Cup Car at Silverstone in the U.K.

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Feast Your Eyes on Six Obscure Supercars

Can you identify this car?

Can you identify this car?

When talking about cars, it’s never long before the conversation turns to the supercars of the bunch.

Discussing the stats and specs of the most powerful vehicles on earth can be exhilarating, but there’s only so many times you can rehash everything you know about Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, Aston Martin, Bugatti, and Porsche. Next time, wouldn’t it be fun to change things up a bit and say things like, “Hey, what do you think of the Zenvo’s power?” and “Can you believe that Covini? It looks Photoshopped!”

With that in mind, I present you with six obscure supercars to ponder. Which of these would you like to own?

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Used-Car Market Hotter Than Ever

2007 Chevrolet Tahoe: 24% more than last year?

2007 Chevrolet Tahoe: 24% more than last year?

Sales are still strong in the used-car market, and that means dealers are happy. Whether you will be happy remains to be seen. If you’re trading or selling a car, it’s good news.

For some of you buyers, as tells us, it may even make more sense to buy new. That is, if you are looking at late-model higher-priced used cars, check out the incentives and offers on new ones as well. You may find a better deal.

If you are hoping to buy a three-year-old BMW X5, Acura MDX, or Chevy Tahoe, you’ll have to pay on average 24 to 28 percent more than last year. But check with our DealFinder to see if you can do better.

There’s also increased demand for certified pre-owned (CPO) cars—now 18.5 percent of all used cars, up from 13.8 percent last year. Automakers are expanding these programs, and one reason for their success is that some offer discounted or incentive financing on select models.

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Cars Coming Soon->SSC Ultimate Aero II Pics, 2011 Nissan GT-R Specs

SSC Ultimate Aero II

Holy hotness we’ve got some fast cars for you today!

Well, one ludicrously fast car, one really fast car, and one comparably slow but still pretty cool car.

In an ode to the greatest movie of all time with the fastest ship of all time (Spaceballs, of course), we’ll start with the one production car on earth capable of reaching Ludicrous Speed: the Shelby SuperCars Ultimate Aero II.

The astonishingly jaw-dropping white airship car you see above is the weapon of choice SSC will use to try to recapture the title of World’s Fastest Production Car from the Bugatti Veyron. Based on the images alone, there’s no reason not to believe the newest Ultimate Aero won’t reach its target top speed of 275 mph. If you remain unconvinced, keep reading for a stat recap and another recently released picture.

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More Tech Stuff You Don’t Need

LSD doors kits for BMW M3

If you haven’t yet read tgriffith’s piece below on motorized headrests, I urge you to do so. If you like the idea of powered headrests, stop reading now.

If you do think such stuff is cool, you might also like to invest in gullwing doors for your new BMW M3. These are available from German tuner LSD (interesting name) in kit form for $2,418—a bargain, I’d say. If you want only one door, the price is $1,104.

Having only one door will make you look like a dork, but you’ll save over half the cost. (In fact, having two doors will also make you look like a dork.) Or you could buy the chrome Spyker C8 with gullwing doors (shown after the break) that recently appeared in Beijing and really make a statement.

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Refrigerators and Power Headrests: In-Car Tech That’s Gone too Far

2011 Mercedes-Benz CL600

2011 Mercedes-Benz CL600

As an admitted car enthusiast (or addict, according to some people), I revel in new automobile technology.

Well, the cool and useful stuff, anyway.

Engines that churn out more horsepower using less fuel excite me. Advances in car audio get my heart pumping. Heated seats and power liftgates are direct descendants of heaven. But thermoelectric rear center-console refrigerators and power up/down headrests, as offered in the new Hyundai Equus? No, thanks.

These are signs that in-car technology has gone as far as it should. Not as far as it can, but as far as it should. Now that power headrests are an option, it won’t be long before things like thermoelectric power door handles and gasoline-powered cupholders become standard fare. And no one needs that.

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Green Update–>EPA’s Approval of E15 Ethanol Cuts the Baby in Half

Like Solomon, the Environmental Protection Agency finally achieved the ultimate compromise and pleased nobody other than Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa and the corn lobby.

The EPA approved selling fuel containing up to 15 percent ethanol for use in cars and trucks of model year 2007 and newer. The agency is still studying the effects of E15 on older (2001-2006) vehicles. Environmental and auto groups called the “split decision” a disaster. Most ethanol boosters cheered; some, like the Renewable Fuels Association, thought the limits were unjustified.

The auto industry claims that excessive amounts of ethanol can damage a car’s fuel system and engine if it’s not designed for flex-fuel use. (But that’s what EPA is now studying, guys.) Agricultural and food-producing groups believe there’s too much corn going into ethanol production now; more would raise the price of livestock and food, a ridiculous diversion of resources.

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Buy Mahindra or Buy Used?

Mahindra pickup

If you’ve been holding your breath waiting for the U.S. introduction of Mahindra trucks, you might want to take a deep inhale before you pass out. They’re not coming. At least not anytime in the foreseeable future.

Mahindra has been teasing its entry into the U.S. market for quite some time, even selecting an importer, Global Vehicles USA, and receiving EPA certification to sell its small, efficient diesel trucks here.

Then Mahindra terminated its contract with GV USA. Lawsuits erupted, and now the the Indian company has announced that its entry into this country is indefinitely suspended.

That’s probably a good thing…

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Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Ups the Ante to Beat the Bimmers

Mercedes-Benz Concept 358

BMW has owned the hot sports sedan segment with its M3 and M5 forever, or so it seems. There’s a reason: They are marvelous cars with very little competition. Benz has been trying to eat its lunch for some time with another very good car, the C63 AMG.

Now it has dropped this orange bomb, called Concept 358, into the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney. Besides the special paint, the car is a C63 AMG with a Performance Package that boosts output to 480 hp (in shooting range of the M5’s 500 hp), 19-inch black wheels, and special leather inside.

Will it drive like an M5? Who knows? But from what we read, it will easily take on the M3 and finally offer (when and if it comes to the U.S.) an alternative to the stark and homely Bimmers.

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