Archive for February, 2007|Monthly archive page

The bull and the bat: Lambo LP640 in next Batman flick?

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Lamborghini has been on something of a roll lately. It had a record year last year with 2,087 units sold. It introduced special editions of the Murcielago and Gallardo, as well as upgraded the “regular” Murci to LP640 status. A roadster version of the LP640 was a no-brainer and showed up soon after. They also let slip that a super lightweight version of the bread-and-butter Gallardo would be debuting in Geneva. So there are lots of reasons to smile if you’re with Lamborghini or an enthusiast who follows the way of the bull. One particular highlight must have been seeing a Murci Roadster pop up in Batman Begins. As playboy Bruce Wayne, the Dark Knight escorts a pair of lovelies to dinner and makes a most dramatic exit after an impromptu dip in the fountain. Uma Thurman will also be piloting a Lambo on the small screen in Pirelli’s mini feature “Mission Zero”, though this time a Gallardo Spyder. Well, it looks like we might be seeing even more of Lamborghini on the big screen in the near future.

Despite the good press for Lamborghini, there have been rumblings that VW might want to shed its supercar brand. And even with more than 2,000 sales last year, that was less than half of archrival Ferrari’s U.S. total. Even though Volkswagen has said it is committed to keeping Lambo, and Bugatti for that matter, a sales boost sure would help. Lamborghini’s highest profile vehicle, the Murcielago Roadster LP640 was a star of the recent North American International Auto Show last month in Detroit, but getting it into the next Batman movie should get it even more international attention, and that appears to be the plan. Brandweek recently sat down with Automobili Lamborghini CEO, Stephan Winkelmann, to discuss the company’s U.S. strategies. Follow the read link for the whole interview.

[Source: Brandweek]

 

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Mercedes-Benz rolls out new line of bicycles

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Click on the photo for a gallery of high-res shots of the new Mercedes bikes

Think that fancy new Mercedes-Benz in the garage with the urea-injected BlueTec diesel isn’t green enough yet? Now the gang from Stuttgart is offering another option for you (assuming you still consider breathing to be green). The 2007 Mercedes Bike Collection features mainstream “Fitness” and “Trekking” models and an über-cycle Racing version with a carbon-fiber frame. All models get disk brakes, and the Trekking version also has an automatic halogen headlight powered by a dynamo mounted in the hub. The aluminum-framed Fitness and Trekking models come in three frame sizes and start at $1,300 and $1,700 respectively. The racing bike starts at $5,200. Presumably, they’ll also offer a custom-fit rack to go on the back of your big diesel-powered GL320. The complete Mercedes press release is included after the jump.

[Source: Mercedes-Benz]

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Baby used as down payment for used Dodge Intrepid

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Oh baby, we really can’t make this stuff up, folks. Pueblo, Colorado police arrested three people on charges of using a 5-month-old baby as a down payment on a car – not even a new car, but a used Dodge Intrepid. A young woman apparently tried to get a car and some cash and only had the baby to offer in exchange. Allegedly, Nicole Uribe gave the baby to Jose-Juan Lerma and his wife, Irene, for the down payment on the car. She also would have received an unspecified amount of cash, in addition to the car. The baby is now in a foster home, while the three suspects sit in a Pueblo jail with bail set at $50,000 each. After being tipped to the exchange on Monday, Police Sgt. Brett Wilson said they had Uribe in custody within hours. The Lermas were arrested Tuesday. All are being held on charges of felony child trafficking.

Thanks for the tip, Paul!

[Source: CNN]

 

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RIP: Chevy kills off Monte Carlo

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A member of the GM Inside News forum posted today that he received an email from General Motors announcing the end of the Monte Carlo. We rang up the General for confirmation and received word that the Monte Carlo is indeed being offed. May 4th will reportedly be the last day you can order a Monte Carlo and production of the car at GM’s Oshawa plant in Canada will cease on June 20th. Apparently production of the Monte Carlo is being cancelled to make room for all those extra Malibu orders the automaker is expecting when the new 2008 model sedan begins production in October. This is the sixth generation Monte Carlo, and when asked if we’d see the name return on a new model in the near future, we got the canned answer from GM, “We do not comment on future product.” Sigh. Monte Carlo sales were off 64.2% in January of 2007 with only 1,639 units being sold. In 2006, 34,113 units were sold, a slight improvement over 2005.

[Source: GM, GM Inside News]

 

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Honda CRX successor in the works?

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Our brethren over at Winding Road have it on good authority that Honda is in the midst of developing a new CRX, based off the current Fit’s platform. The decision to bring back the much-loved hatch was spurred on by vehicles like the MINI, whose size and sportiness has been attracting consumers of all stripes.

The demise of the CRX in 1991 was a blow to those who loved its small size and chuckability, but its descendent, the Del Sol (CRX in Japan), didn’t garner much love from enthusiasts. Because of past fits and starts, Honda hasn’t made a serious attempt at bringing back a suitable successor, however, a dedicated group of gearheads within the automaker may finally get a chance at returning the CRX to its former glory. Peter Nunn at Winding Road maintains that a “serious design proposal is underway” and that an internal decision is expected in the next few months.

[Source: Winding Road]

 

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Alan Mulally wants more tech sharing with Toyota

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Ford President and CEO Alan Mullaly was in Japan again, this time speaking to the media. During his time abroad, he talked about the desire to partner with Toyota even more closely on the development of new technologies. Ford has been licensing Toyota hybrid technology patents for years, currently employed in the Escape and Mariner hybrids.

The costs involved in developing these alternative technologies is huge. Ford, thusly, is doing the prudent thing, seeking a partner for this expenditure. And Toyota is definitely a company to reckon with on the subject. Future projects would likely include additional hybrids and fuel cells, which have, to this point, been out of the picture. We reported about Mullaly meeting with Toyota Chairman Fujio Cho as soon as he landed the top job in Dearborn back in December 2006. So that’s why he was in Japan, duh!

Mulally also made it clear that snuggling up to Toyota shouldn’t be taken as a statement about their relationship with Mazda. It had been rumored that Ford might sell its share of Mazda to raise some cash, but Mulally confirmed that Ford is committed to its role as the top shareholder of Mazda, as announced last month.

[Source: TheAutoChannel via AutoblogGreen]

 

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Enough already! Smolenski sells TVR

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We’ll parrot our friends over at Hemmings Auto Blog when they say, “Now it’s just getting ridiculous.” After Nikolai Smolenski bought back what assets were left of TVR last week, we’re now getting word from Autocar that Adam Burdette and Jean Michel Santacreu, owners of Evolution Imports, have bought the quirky sports car manufacturer.

The duo has a history of importing “grey market” vehicles Stateside, and they have long sought to bring TVRs to U.S. consumers. How will they succeed actually running an automaker? Ummmm… we’re not saying we’re worried — okay, yeah, we are.

[Source: Autocar via Hemmings]

 

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Caterham celebrates 50 years with Anniversary Pack for the Seven

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Click above image for addition high-res shots of the Caterham Seven anniversary package

Caterham’s letting buyers in on a bit of the fun (as if buying, driving and owning a Seven isn’t fun enough) for its Golden Jubilee celebration. An anniversary appearance package will be available for any 2007-model Seven. Once 50 packages are ordered (one for each year, get it?), it’s history. Buyers can select either silver paint with black and gold accents or a black finish with silver and gold accents. Each car receives a signed, numbered plaque, Union Jack badges, 50th Anniversary decals, gold-trimmed leather seats (if ordered) and anniversary wheel centers to boot. All 2007 Caterham Sevens get the 50th anniversary badge shown at right. The cost is £1,957, honoring the year Colin Chapman gave us the original 7. Nice to see that after fifty years, good things never get old. In the case of the Caterham Seven, it just seems to get better.

[Source: Caterham Cars]

Gallery: Caterham Seven Golden Jubilee Anniversary Package

 

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Geneva Preview: Lotus 2-Eleven track car

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Click on the photo for a high-res gallery of the 2-Eleven

For those that feel the wildest Elise Sport and Exige models from Lotus aren’t enough, next week at the Geneva Motor Show, Lotus will unveil a new race car called the 2-Eleven. The 1,477lb track special is based on the extruded aluminum chassis of the Elise but with high sides for extra rigidity. The running gear is based on the Exige S and the open-top composite body of the 2-Eleven weighs only 88lbs. The 1.8L four cylinder is supercharged and cranks out 252hp and 179lb-ft of torque.

Lotus will start building 2-Elevens at the Hethel factory in England in April and have a starting price of £39,995. One of the cool things about England is the relaxed regulations for Single Vehicle Type Approval which basically means that British owners can drive almost anything on public roads. The SVA package for the UK including plates, inspection and registration for £1,100. A track-only version for sale in the rest of Europe runs £49,575. The track only version gets an enhanced aerodynamics package and a FIA approved drivers seat. The press release with all the details is after the jump.

[Source: Lotus]

Gallery: Lotus 2-Eleven track car

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Mercedes-Benz releases sport package for SL-Class

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click above image to view high-res pics of the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class sports package

Mercedes-Benz has announced a new sports package for those people considering an SL-Class who want a bit extra flair with their expensive set of wheels. As a matter of fact, the visual punch added by the sports package focuses on a new set of 19-inch, twin-spoke wheels that offer a fairly unencumbered view of the silver-painted front brake calipers and cross-drilled rotors in the rear. A set of dark-tinted taillights rounds out the only exterior mods. Inside the car receives silver-colored contrast stitching, new aluminum trim and a roof liner trimmed in black fabric. A new air filter purportedly enriches the sound of the SL 350, while the 7G-TRONIC paddle-shifted automatic makes gear changes a snappy affair in either the SL 350 or SL 500, the only models for which this new sports package is available. The cost is an extra € 2,975 (incl. VAT).

Check out the official press release after the jump.

[Source: Mercedes-Benz]

Gallery: Mercedes Benz CL-Class sports package

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