Vacuum Tubes: Travel of the Future?

Acabion da Vinci

Acabion da Vinci

Imagine waking up in your apartment in New York City. You go through your daily morning routine and head out the door to “catch the tube.” You arrive at work in less than an hour, ready for a full day of client meetings.

In Paris.

Possible? One company certainly thinks so, and has a former Porsche, BMW and Ferrari engineer leading the way to develop vacuum tubes that can move people from one point on Earth to another in about an hour.

You probably don’t want to book your tickets just yet, because the tube technology won’t be available until about 2100. But the cars that will travel in them could be ready by 2015.

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More on Barrett-Jackson: JFK Ambulance a Fake?

1963 Pontiac ambulance

A woman named Addison Brown paid $120,000 (or $132,000) on Saturday for a 1963 Pontiac ambulance that was supposed to have carried President Kennedy’s body after the assassination. She was thrilled, she says, to now own “a piece of history,” and “you couldn’t say no at that price.”

Jalopnik has created a small furor in the media by challenging the authenticity of the vehicle and taking Barrett-Jackson, the auctioneers, to task for not performing due diligence. These guys have been challenged before on how they represent cars; their usual recourse is “buyer beware.”

That’s pretty much what they have done here. The more interesting question to me is not whether the car is authentic but what would move a person to buy it. Now, I wouldn’t accuse Ms. Brown of a fatal attraction, but something like that must move those who want to own things associated or involved with such horrific events.

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2011 Barrett-Jackson: Which Car Would You Buy?

1970 Olds 442

I can think of many things I’d rather do besides watching a car auction. Even the collector car auctions typically don’t do much to pique an interest unless a truly special vehicle rolls across the stage and sets a new price record.

While this weekend’s Barrett-Jackson auction in Arizona didn’t offer up a contender to dethrone the $30 million Bugatti 57SC Atlantic sold by Gooding & Company last year, there were some surprisingly tasty treats I would love to get my grimy little hands on.

While browsing the full list of cars up for auction over the weekend, I stumbled across one that poked me in the soft spot I have for classic muscle cars and Sylvester Stallone movies.

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A Four-Wheel-Drive, Three-Door Ferrari

Ferrari FF profile

Ferrari has revealed the FF (Ferrari Four), and it’s causing a stir. Purists are complaining about the looks and the fact that (they say) it looks like a stretched BMW Z3 M Coupe. And some are finding it “pretty hard to digest a hatchback Ferrari!”

We suggest you ignore these ignorant clowns and look at what Ferrari has accomplished here. With a new 6.3-liter V12 (651 hp, 0-62 mph in 3.7 seconds), the car can reach 208 mph, 9 mph faster than the 612 Scaglietti Grand Tourer that it replaces.

But the big deal is that it’s a four-wheel-drive hatchback/shooting brake, with folding rear seats that permit you to carry a lot (up to 800 liters’ worth) of freight—or matched Louis Vuitton luggage, or hunting dogs, or whatever else you want to throw in there.

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Why Do Rich People Get Free Cars?

Kid Rock's Camaro

The last thing Kid Rock needs is a Camaro.

Especially a free Camaro.

That’s what he got, though, thanks to Chevrolet and NASCAR racer Jimmie Johnson, who teamed up to make Kid Rock’s 40th birthday party (at Ford Field, no less) one the Detroit rocker will always remember. Johnson presented the now-40-year-old “Kid” with a brand-new, pimped-out Camaro. For the record, he did seem genuinely grateful, even wondering out loud if he had been punk’d. But no, it’s all too real.

Keep reading for a quick video of the special gift, in all its glory.

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Mitsubishi Brand Overhaul Means Big Used Bargains Ahead

Mitsubishi Concept Global Small

Mitsubishi has been struggling for years in the U.S. And so, by 2014, the company plans to replace all its U.S. models—with what we don’t yet know. But one car to emerge (at Geneva) will be the Concept Global Small, shown above, to replace the Colt in 2012 and spearhead eight new green cars by 2015.

If ever there was a carmaker with global ambitions, it is Mitsu. The Small will be made in a new factory in Thailand. There are, or will be, plants in the U.S., Japan, China, Russia, the Netherlands, Philippines… anyway, there are about ten.

Scrapped will be the Eclipse, Eclipse Spyder, Endeavor and Galant sedan. The Outlander, Outlander Sport and Lancer sedan will get new versions, built in Illinois and based on their present platforms.

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Cars Coming Soon->Cadillac ATS-V, Baby Toyota FT-86, Honda CR-Z Turbo

Cadillac CTS-V

You know what I want?

A car about the size of a Chevy Cruze but with almost 500 hp and a 6.2-liter pushrod V8. I’d also like it to get about 25 mpg on the highway, use regular gas and have a top speed somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 mph. Give or take.

Yes, if I could design the next car I want to park in my garage, that would be a pretty good start.

If the rumors are true, my dreams may become reality thanks to the 2014 Cadillac ATS-V. Of course, if pricing holds me back, I might settle for the baby Toyota FT-86 or a gas-powered turbo Honda CR-Z.

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Anti-Union Voices Having a Field Day

2007 Ford UAW agreement

My compadre tgriffith is at it again, whacking the UAW. He did it just over a week ago, and I thought he had gotten it out of his system. Like many people, he doesn’t know his history or his economics.

Let me acknowledge first that I am a union guy and worked seven years for a large building trades union in Washington in the ‘90s. I wrote a highly praised book about our union and its innovative practices. I know something about the history of the labor movement.

The UAW is probably a dying union, and that is nothing to celebrate.

Unions are about jobs and worker protections—nothing else. If you think there are plenty of jobs for auto workers and that they don’t need to safeguard those jobs from being cannibalized, then I wonder what kind of world you’re living in.

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UAW Death Watch: Day 1

Bob King, UAW

Is this a group you'd want to get involved with?

Well, here’s an interesting development in the United Auto Workers saga:

It appears the UAW wants to unionize the workers of foreign automakers not because it’s looking out for worker’s rights, but because it needs the dues money.

We reported recently on the UAW’s coming efforts to organize American workers at Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen and other foreign automakers who operate plants in the United States. We figured these efforts spawned from a genuine, though misguided, desire to assist American autoworkers through union representation.

Turns out that’s not the whole story, at least according to UAW president Bob King, who let slip his real intentions with this quote given to Automotive News, via InsideLine:

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Green Update–>Could Luxury Wars Benefit Hybrids?

Audi A8 Hybrid

Like other luxury carmakers, Audi is attempting to have it both ways—by building a hybrid while totally glitzing up its gas-powered A8. Of course, the hybrid will have all the same amenities… at a higher price.

There is more “stuff” in the new A8 than any sane person could ever want or use. For an extra $2,000, you get 22-way adjustable seats for driver and passenger, heated and air conditioned, with massagers in the seat backs. Control the settings on the navigation screen at the touch of a lever. You get powered sun shades in the back, a 19-speaker B&O sound system and, for another $3,000, a Technology package to sense approaching collisions, tighten seatbelts, raise headrests, and alert the nearest hospital. (No, not the latter.)

Now, who’s going to beat all that? Mercedes, with its S-Class? Nah. Audi wants to position itself as the greenest and hippest by labeling the S-Class as outdated, gluttonous, excessive, stuffy—even as it fills its cars with unnecessary junk. Watch its Super Bowl commercial after the break.

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