Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show


The most expensive new car ever sold in the USA

February 9, 2007 The first Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe destined for the USA has been bought at a charity auction for US$2 million, making it the most expensive new car ever sold in the USA. Rolls-Royce launched the new Phantom Drophead Coupé at the Detroit Motor Show last month. The hand made two-door, four-seat convertible combines the latest in lightweight aluminium technology and is one of the fastest open top four seaters in the world. All of the US$407,000 Drophead Coupés to be built in 2007 have already been sold.  Read More

Zeroshift Automated Manual Transmission could be an automotive killer app

February 9, 2007 One of the most remarkable claims we’ve heard in a long time and it appears to be true – UK-based technology company Zeroshift has developed the killer app for automobiles – an ingeniously simple way of replacing synchromesh in a manual gearbox with a reliable, cheap-to-manufacture mechanism that allows completely seamless gearchanges. Whatsmore, the Zeroshift Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) changes gear faster than any other gearbox (gearchange time is, as the name suggests, zero) and provides improved acceleration, economy and emissions in any vehicle to which it is applied, be front wheel drive cars, rear wheel drive cars, four wheel drive, motorcycles or trucks. For road vehicles, extra refinement is available by combining gear shift actuation with a clutch, and the resultant system is claimed to be more efficient than Audi/VW’s DSG and a cost effective alternative to the traditional torque converter based automatic transmission. Viewed from a performance basis, the Zeroshift has another compelling attribute – it makes the same vehicle faster – when accelerating with a normal transmission, each up-shift requires the driver to cut the torque momentarily by lifting the gas pedal and dipping the clutch. Good drivers can do this very quickly but not as quick as the Zeroshift which enables the gas pedal to remain pressed firmly against the floor, without any torque interruption. Accordingly, if it takes 30ms for each gearchange, and you have 30 gear changes per lap for 60 laps, Zeroshift offers a 54 second advantage if all other factors are equal. There’s an SAE paper on the subject available here and a great article on datalogging during the development of the system here.  Read More

International debuts Special Edition MXT Mega Image Pickup

February 9, 2007 International Truck and Engine is marking the 100th anniversary of its first truck (built in 1907 at McCormick Works in Chicago) by unleashing the ultimate image pickup truck. The International MXT Limited 4x4 pickup (Top Image) is being appropriately showcased at the 2007 Chicago Auto Show – in the same city it all began. Geared toward those who want to make a powerful statement and demand exclusivity, the International MXT provides an imposing presence on or off the road. The 300 bhp V8 engine produces 530 lb. ft. of torque and the unit is capable of towing just shy of eight tons. The MXT was originally displayed at the Chicago Auto Show in 2005 as a concept vehicle. Since then, it has undergone extensive engineering and testing to provide the comfort and amenities of a luxury interior within its behemoth exterior. The normal production version of the MXT (pictured at bottom) is also now available.  Read More

Mazda Hakaze Concept Car: 4-seat coupe-style compact crossover SUV

February 8, 2007 Mazda will showcase its new Hakaze design concept at the 77th annual Geneva International Motor Show (Salon International de l’Auto de Geneve) next month, continuing its ‘Nagare’ design language lineage onwards from the Mazda Nagare and Mazda Ryuga which were revealed earlier this motor show season. Even when standing still, Hakaze seems to be effortlessly cutting through the air. The Hakaze is a four-seat coupe-style compact crossover SUV designed at Mazda’s European Design Centre and aimed at people in their thirties and forties who lead active, adventurous lifestyles.  Read More

SAM Automotive Kiosk scans, analyzes and reports on your vehicle

February 8, 2007 It is indeed curious to think that your car collects and stores all sorts of data, but the analysis of that data is still largely the domain of the people you pay to look after your car. Now a new service threatens to redress the balance. Smart Auto Management SAM taps into a vehicle's On Board Diagnostic system (OBD) and prints an easy-to-understand report that reveals existing or pending problems. Motorists can save time and money by connecting their vehicle to a SAM self-service kiosk that provides vital information about their vehicle, instantly and affordably, allowing them to make smart choices about vehicle maintenance, vehicle safety and the purchase and sale of used cars. SAM taps into the On Board Diagnostic System of a 1996 or newer vehicle; scans and analyzes over 2,000 system codes pertaining to the engine, transmission, safety systems, body, chassis and more; and provides a printed report on the spot. In less than 10 minutes, for US$15, SAM scans a vehicle's On Board Diagnostic system, and prints a comprehensive report on the spot that identifies any existing or potential problems with the vehicle's engine, transmission, safety systems, body, chassis, and more.  Read More

The world’s first horizontally-opposed turbo diesel engine

February 8, 2007 In 1896, when Karl Benz patented the first internal combustion engine, it had horizontally opposed pistons, and the flat boxermotor (the German term for flat engine) has been powering some of the world’s best known automobiles (Porsche, Volkswagen’s Beetle and Kombi f’rinstance), motorcycles (Honda’s Goldwing and BMW’s mainstay Boxer range) and aircraft (Lycoming and Continental) ever since. Japanese automotive company Subaru has used the boxer design almost exclusively and is now pioneering a new phase for horizontally opposed piston engines with the release of the world’s first horizontally-opposed turbo diesel engine. The Japanese all-wheel drive specialist will be displaying an entire drivetrain at the 77th Geneva International Motor Show next month.  Read More

The Delica D:5 fuses minivan with SUV strength and 4WD

February 8, 2007 Mitsubishi has launched a fully redesigned Delica D:5 on the Japanese market - a minivan that delivers monobox roominess and utility together with high levels of performance and stability in on- and off-road driving. The 2.4-liter 4WD Delica D:5 went on sale at affiliated dealerships throughout Japan last week carrying a tax inclusive price tag ranging from 2,614,500 yen to 3,412,500 yen. Although classified as a monobox minivan, the Delica D:5 sports electronically-controlled 4WD and Active Stability Control (ASC) together with ample obstacle clearance angles and ride height to give it improved running performance and stability both on- and off-road. Other features that will instill a greater sense of safety and reassurance in its users include a new hoop-design "rib bone frame" body structure, a driver SRS knee airbag standard on all models, and plastic resin fender panels that are pliant and have superior shape recovery properties.  Read More

The re-branded and re-engineered smart roadster

February 7, 2007 One of the most interesting new cars planned for 2007 is the re-branded and re-engineered smart roadster to be re-launched under the world-famous marque of AC (think the AC Cobra). Last year the oddly-named Project Kimber purchased the rights from Mercedes for the smart roadster and the latest news is that the engineering team will be headed by none other than world renowned Formula 1 and road car designer Professor Gordon Murray. Murray is best known for engineering the McLaren F1 road car (the fastest car in the world for several years) and the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren but for the last three years, Murray has used a smart roadster coupe for his personal day-to-day transport. As a result, he not only brings to the project his extensive knowledge of design and engineering, but a unique understanding and experience of the core product. Murray’s team will include chief designer John Piper, formerly of Williams Grand Prix, Benetton and Reynard. Piper led the Visioneering team which supplied the engineering capabilities to JCB for the Dieselmax car which set a new diesel land speed record last year. The new car will be available in both normally-aspirated and turbocharged versions using the latest 1.0-litre, three-cylinder Mitsubishi engine running through a Getrag manual gearbox.  Read More

The ZAP-X Electric Crossover - 155mph, 644 bhp, AWD, 10 minute recharge, 350 Mile Range

February 2, 2007 In a marriage seemingly well matched, electric automobile pioneer ZAP has chosen Lotus Engineering’s platform and body structure design as the basis for the development of the high performance electric ZAP-X. The car is based on the advanced APX (Aluminium Performance Crossover ) concept car and will be shown for the first time at the North American Dealers Association (NADA) exhibition which opens tomorrow (February 3). A combination of the lightweight aluminium vehicle architecture, a new efficient drive and advanced battery management systems is intended to enable a range of up to 350 miles between charges, with a rapid 10-minute recharging time. An auxiliary power unit is planned to support longer distance journeys. The good news for sports enthusiasts is the performance courtesy of a killer power-to- weight ratio. - four in-hub electric motors, deliver 161 bhp apiece, which add together for 644 horsepower in all wheel drive mode, and capable of powering the ZAP-X to a top speed of 155mph.  Read More

The 205 mph 1939 Auto Union Type D could set price record

February 2, 2007 What could become the most expensive car ever to be sold in the history of the prestigious auction house Christie's is due to go under the hammer at the international vintage car fair Retromobile in Paris later on February 17. The ultra-rare 1939 Auto Union Type D Grand Prix car was driven by the likes of Nuvolari (pictured in car) and is one of just two remaining examples of the Auto Union which won the 1939 French Grand Prix and 1939 Yugoslavian Grand prix and could fetch as much as UKP8 million (12 million euros). Its 12-cylinder supercharged engine produces 460PS output, giving the beautiful silver bullet a top speed of 205mph. Formed in the Thirties through the amalgamation of four German automotive marques, Auto Union was a precursor to the modern day Audi brand. The car was made in Zwickau in eastern Germany, was taken back to the former Soviet Union after World War II by the Soviet occupation forces as spoils of war and was purchased from Russie before undergoing a full restoration with Audi’s assistance.  Read More

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