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Automotive

Production ends on Porsche Carrera GT: the most successful supercar in history

May 12, 2006 The manufacture of the Carrera GT at Porsche's facility in Leipzig, Germany, concluded earlier this week, bringing to a close what Porsche labels “the most successful supercar in history.” Porsche’s claim is based on sales of the beastie - more than 1,270 Carrera GTs have been sold since its introduction in late 2003 with around half that finding homes in North America. This figure represents a greater number than the total production of the McLaren F1, Ferrari Enzo, and Pagani Zonda models combined. Regardless, even in an economic climate that did not favor products in this segment of the market, the V-10 supercar sold in unprecedented numbers. Our favourite quote on the Carrera GT was that of MotorWeek TV show host John Davis who said, "the Carrera GT is the best motivation to get rich that we've ever driven."  Read More

BMW Mille Miglia Concept Coupe

May 12, 2006 The world’s most expensive travelling museum gets its annual showing this weekend when the fabled Mille Miglia is run over the original course from Brescia to Rome and back. The most famous motor race in the world in the immediate pre- and post-WW2 period, the Mille Miglia was held on public roads over 1000 miles with Sterling Moss setting a record for the journey in a Mercedes 300 SLR averaging 157.65kph in 1955. Banned in the late fifties, it is now run as a reliability trial where some of the most memorable automobiles in motoring history participate. Each year more than 20 cars are liberated from motoring museums to drive in the event, and the total value of the 375 entries would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. This year, the magic of the event was heightened when BMW unveiled a concept vehicle to commemorate the BMW 328 Touring Coupe which won the event in 1940. The chances it will ever be built are very low – which is an enormous shame because under that gorgeous skin are the mechanicals of the 252 kW BMW Z4 M Coupe. Perhaps there’s a market for retro sports cars built with modern methodology?  Read More

BMW dominates the International Engine of the Year Awards

May 11, 2006 BMW has dominated the 2006 International Engine of the Year Awards held at the annual Engine Expo in Stuttgart, winning the Best Performance Engine and International Engine of the Year for the second year running with its 5-litre V10. The Bavarian car maker also won awards for its Z4 M 3.2-litre (3-litre to 4-litre ) and twin-turbodiesel 3-litre (2.5-litre to 3-litre )in this year’s competition, and hence took ALL awards for engines greater than 2.5 litres, giving it a total of five trophies. The V10 unit saw tough competition from the likes of Volkswagen’s new 1.4-litre TSI Twincharger (which won Best New Engine) and the previous IEOY title holder, Toyota’s 1.5-litre Hybrid Synergy Drive Prius, which in 2006 also won the 1.8-litre and the Fuel Economy categories. Subaru picked up its first ever gong in the 2-litre to 2.5-litre category for its 2.5-litre Turbo engine used in the Impreza and Forester models and Saab’s 9-2X.  Read More

Mazda to release limited edition driver-focused RX-8 PZ

May 9, 2006 Mazda is set to introduce an even more ‘focused’ version of its highest performance, four-door, sports coupe. On sale in the UK from 1 July it will be called the ‘Mazda RX-8 PZ’. Based on the 231ps high-power version of Mazda RX-8 with leather trim, the PZ has been further developed by Mazda jointly with leading motorsport company Prodrive, and specialist component suppliers Bilstein, Eibach and OZ Racing. Mazda’s brief to Prodrive was to build on the attributes of the RX-8 and create a special model that delivers greater driver involvement and an even more rewarding motoring experience, with enhanced ride and handling, while staying true to the original concept and without compromising the car’s passenger comfort as a unique four-seater sports car. Ensuring a touch of exclusivity, just 800 examples of the Mazda RX-8 PZ will be available, priced at UKP 25,995 on-the-road with an insurance rating of 17E compared to 16E for the standard RX-8 231ps model.  Read More

Aston Martin reveals James Bond’s DBS

May 7, 2006 When the James Bond adventure Casino Royale is released in November, it will be the 21st big screen adaptation of Ian Fleming’s spy franchise and ironically a reprise of the first Bond screen adaptation – a made-for-television one hour CBS one hour screenplay made in 1954, almost a decade before Sean Connery took the role to the world in what became the longest-running film series in history. Connery has been succeeded in the 007 role by numerous actors with all but Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan struggling to match Connery’s presence. This year a new 007 will take on the world, when Daniel Craig stars as James Bond. One of the constants in the Bond movie equation has been cars and gadgets. In 2002 we wrote about 40 years of James Bond Gadgets and we’ve written before about the famous Aston Martin DB5 (top right with Connery) (with ejector seat, machine guns and revolving number plates) which starred in the films Thunderball and Goldfinger and became the most famous automobile in the world during the swinging sixties. Aston Martin is hoping to capture the magic of one the most successful product placement deals in history once more by taking the unprecedented step of debuting a new automobile in a film – in true Bond tradition, full details of the Aston Martin DBS are top secret but the images of what it looks like have been released. The success of the DB5 helped popularise the practice of product placement and contributed to a series of high profile automotive film associations with Bond driving such machines as a Lotus Esprit, BMW Z3, 750iL and Z8 and Aston Martin DB7 and V8 Vantage. The last Bond film, ‘Die Another Day’, featured Aston Martin’s flagship model, the V12 Vanquish (bottom right with Brosnan).  Read More

GG Quad with additional bite

May 6, 2006 One of the most intruiging forms of motorized transport we’ve seen in recent times is the GG Quad made in Switzerland. Starting with a modern BMW flat twin motorcycle of 1150cc, Gruter and Gut have evolved a machine that is somewhere between an open wheeler and a motorcycle, with motorcycle-like controls and a very healthy power-to-weight ratio for any four wheeler – 100 brake horsies pushing just 375 kilograms. In gearing the bike down to push the extra weight, top speed has been reduced significantly to just 115 mph, but the acceleration is … breathtaking. By utilising the space between the open wheels, there’s now storage space aplenty. The GG Quad is now available in America, built to order in Switzerland with complete units shipped to the US-based Dallas HQ and distributed to dealers for an MSRP of US$49,500. Delivery times are being streamlined at present and order-to-delivery of the beastie is expected to be less than a month when importing starts in Q3. Check out the extensive photo gallery.  Read More

The unique Mercedes-Benz Museum concept

May 6, 2006 On May 19, 2006, the new Mercedes-Benz Museum will open its doors to the public putting another must-see on the map of the automobile enthusiast. This new building at the gates of the parent plant in Stuttgart-Unterturkheim (Germany) is far more than a home to 120 years of automotive history. The museum was created in a very similar process to that of a new car series. First it was conceived and rough-sketched in the mind and with computer assistance. All parties involved entered unknown territory with the concept. Prototypes of the structure were designed, some even full-scale, to test the feasibility of the idea. As everything gradually neared completion, an intensive test run was conducted to put the entire museum to the acid test. Now the new model is ready. It stands for the brand and its values and is intended to display the permanent innovative spirit of the Mercedes-Benz culture which professes that innovations are the milestones on the way to the future.  Read More

Antonov two speed supercharger

May 6, 2006 Antonov will demonstrate an innovative two speed supercharger at the Engine Expo in Stuttgart (Germany) next week and at Zandvoort race circuit in the Netherlands the following week using a Mercedes and Ford Mustang fitted with the high performance add-on. The Mustang will then be shipped to North America to feature in the Hot Rod Power Tour. The two speed drive enables a Rotrex centrifugal pump supercharger to be better matched to any engine. By driving the supercharger faster at low engine speeds, higher boost ratio can be obtained to provide additional low speed engine torque. As engine speed rises the unit automatically changes up to enable the supercharger to continue to operate effectively at higher engine speeds. The ability of the mechanism to operate as a passive device without the need for additional external control or hydraulics offers low cost, high efficiency and simplicity of application. The compact Antonov drive system - essentially a tiny automatic gearbox - extends the engine torque curve delivered by a centrifugal pump supercharger. This type of supercharger is in itself more compact, less complex and less expensive than a positive displacement supercharger, but in comparison cannot offer the same torque output at low engine revs. The addition of an Antonov drive system, however, extends the engine torque curve available to exceed even the performance of a positive displacement blower. In addition, the torque curve can be tuned so that a smaller displacement engine matches exactly the performance of a much larger naturally aspirated unit.  Read More

The retrofit Driver Vision Enhancer (DVE)

April 28, 2006 As the world seeks to reduce the 30 to 50 million annual road trauma victims, it’s interesting to note the latest development in driver aids from the US military. A wide range of frontline combat and tactical wheeled vehicles are to be fitted Driver Vision Enhancers (DVEs). Utilizing a Low-Power Uncooled Infrared (LPUIR) detector, thermally compensated optics and an 800 by 600-pixel active matrix liquid crystal display panel, the DVE provides drivers with the ability to see clearly at increased distances, regardless of light level, adverse weather conditions and battlefield obscurants, such as smoke and dust. The DVE will provide enhanced situational awareness, target and ambush detection and vehicle tracking, and allows ground support elements to better keep pace with night vision-capable combat forces.  Read More

575 GTZ

April 28, 2006 Yoshiyuki Hayashi is a famous Japanese car collector, who owns numerous cars of great historical value, including several Ferraris such as the 166MM, the 250 Spider California, two Daytonas – a coupe and a spider – and the Enzo. In the classic tradition of the wealthy exclusive car enthuisiasts who stimulated the creativeness of Italian coachbuilders in the 1950s and 1960s, Hayashi asked Zagato if it would be possible to create a body for his 575M, in the style of the famous 250GTZ berlinetta. When Zagato received this request, it informed Ferrari of the project, which would be a good opportunity to celebrate the model’s anniversary, and then created a car that harked back to the 250 GTZ, built around the Ferrari 575. Like its forebear, the 575 GTZ has an all-aluminium body, and, as a tribute to Ferrari and to two-seater Italian sports cars, it has joined an exclusive group of custom-built cars.  Read More

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