Archive for July, 2007|Monthly archive page

Seen a salad do 150 mph? Check out the Eco One

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Faced with a bucket full of potatoes, cashew shells, hemp, rapeseed oil, wheat, and sugar beet, most of us would try and find some pigs to feed. If your name were Ben Wood, however, you’d snag that bucket, shells and all, add 20,000 British pounds sterling and make a car called the Eco One Speedster.

Designed by a researcher at Warwick University’s Manufacturing Group, the department that works with industry, the car took Wood two months to build. The tires are partly made with potato starch, which creates less friction on the road. The brake pads are made from cashew shells blended into a resin, which means brake dust that doesn’t hurt the environment. The body is fashioned from hemp and rapeseed oil. It’s powered by a Triumph Daytona engine, which was not made from fruits or legumes, but steel. Yet that engine runs on fermented wheat and sugar beet, and still gets to 60 in under 4 and is good all the way up to 150 mph.

The car is 95% biodegradable or recyclable, that last 5% comprising things like its steering wheel, seat and electrics. It is nearly the ultimate expression of what can be done with food — and we say “nearly” because it still has some plastic components that Ben says could be made from organic items. Ultimately, the aim is to race the car and convert many of its applications to motorsport. In the mean time, for those of you England-way, the car will be on show at the National Science Museum in London from August 28-30.

[Source: Daily Mail]

 

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New windscreen wipers, still boring

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Windscreen wiper blade designs have barely changed over the decades, but that doesn’t mean they’ve reached the peak of their performance. One of the world’s largest auto parts suppliers, Germany’s Bosch, has developed a new wiper blade that can adjust itself to perfectly complement the shape of your car’s windshield.

The wiper blade feature a spring-loaded rail that’s connected to a steel bar whose job it is to force the rubber wiper onto your screen, forming an ideal curvature of the blade.

According to its designers, the new blade, or Aerotwin as it’s called, applies pressure evenly along the length of the blade and in the long run reduces wear. A simple Quick-Clip Adaptor that comes with the Aerotwin means it can be retrofitted to most cars, but we suspect many new models will be featuring it or a similar system in the not too distant future. The wipers are now available in the UK but there’s no word on a US release date.

[Source: Auto Express]

 

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Bring the Toys! UK’s Totcars announces Christmas ride-on lineup

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Click image for photo gallery

Here in the States, the kids lust after Power Wheels. On a recent shopping trip to buy my daughter her first real bike, she pointed at a red Power Wheels Mustang, and asked, “Can we get that?” One pink bicycle with handlebar basket later, the pint-sized ‘Stang is but a distant memory (thank goodness). Still, the attraction is understandable — those ride-ons are pretty cool.

In the UK, a company called Totcars appears to be the heavy hitter in this segment, and it’s released its lineup of electric and pedal cars for Christmas 2007. From the looks of things, British moms (or is it “mums”) and dads are just as likely to be besieged with pleas from their kids as we are. Since Totcars is on the other side of the pond, there are some models represented that we’d never see here. That Alfa 8C is pretty cool, as are the Ferrari F1 cars and Renault Megane Trophy. Oh, and dig that Caterpillar dump truck — it has twin 12V motors. We’ve included pics of everything in the attached gallery, and Totcars’ press release is pasted after the jump.

[Source: Totcars]

Gallery: Totcars 2007 Christmas Lineup

Continue reading Bring the Toys! UK’s Totcars announces Christmas ride-on lineup

 

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Rendered Speculation: VW Porsche-fying next-gen New Beetle

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Here’s a rendering of the new, new, New Beetle, courtesy of AutoBild. The 2009 edition of the remade icon still hasn’t been shown in public, but that hasn’t stopped artists and prognosticators from sharing images of a likely form for this most legendary people’s car. In a sort of twist on the normal gameplan, it is believed that the cabrio will debut before the coupe this time around, and there’s even a talk of a Microbus variant in the mix!

The Beetle should share the VW Golf VI platform, but the Microbus would likely use older Golf and Touran parts. Either way, the new look of the Beetle is sportier, with a hint of Porsche in the front fascia. Okay, more than a hint. Looking at the clipped pic at right, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a 997. The new Beetle should also share powertrains with the Golf VI, and therefore the Golf V, as most are expected to carry over from the current models. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

[Source: AutoBild via TheGermanCarBlog]

 

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Freelander/LR2 to come with 7-passenger seating

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As the all-new LR2 graces billboards all over America, an all-newer LR2 (Freelander 2, to Euros) is already being planned in Europe. Land Rover won’t admit to it, but Auto Express claims inside knowledge that a 7-seat variant is being drafted. If such a vehicle is in the works, it won’t appear for another year-and-a-half, which means it might need to claw back a fair bit of ground on competition that is already parading out of showrooms, namely the Peugeot 4007 and Chevrolet Captiva.

The LR2’s dimensions are plenty big enough for a set of convertible seats, though the load area would be reshaped to allow for necessary legroom. The question is whether it will come with such seating or if it will be an option, and whether the U.S. will get the 7-seater choice. While the UK has nine (count em, nine!) different LR2 options, the US just gets one model, the SE, whose sole engine option is an inline six. The US-spec LR3 comes with room for a septet, and with the baby CUV wars warming like the climate, there’s no reason to think the LR2 won’t offer the same.

[Source: Auto Express]

 

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eBay Find of the Day: Insurgent-proof party bus

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click above image for more pics of the Armored Limo

When you’re headed out for a night on the town in one of the world’s hot spots — and by “hot spot” we mean someplace like Kabul, Chechnya, or the Congo — and you want to guarantee safe passage, you need one of these. It’s billed as an H1, but it’s actually an armored limo built on a 4×4 Ford F550 using the 6.0-liter Power Stroke V8. Part of a lot built for US diplomatic missions, they are street legal and armored to level A9, which will stop high-powered rifle and sits just below ‘tank’ on the protection scale. They’ve also got a 1/4-inch of ballistic steel explosion protection in the floor, seven exits, rear seats that can be folded flat and used as shooting platforms, and room for 22 civilians or 16 combat-equipped soldiers for when you want to roll with your friends from the 1st Marine. It’s also got the kind of interior that makes you wonder what diplomats do in their free time, and what limo would be complete without a Ballisticom Outside Intercom System with Siren? They’ll paint it a more appealing shade if you wish, but if you’re rolling in a 20-foot Brinks truck, making a fashion statement probably isn’t high on your list of priorities.

Thanks for the tip, Mike!

[Source: eBay]

Gallery: Armored Limo

 

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Rendered Speculation: 2009 Mazda6

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Several prototypes for the next-gen Mazda6 have been spotted in recent months, but most were covered with enough camouflage to prevent prying eyes from catching a glimpse of the car ahead of its launch early next year. New renderings that have just been released allow us to peel away the protective camouflage, however, revealing a car that retains the sporty ‘Zoom-Zoom’ look of the current model.

Sharing its platform with Ford’s new mid-sized Mondeo sedan, the new Mazda6 is expected to grow several inches in both length and width compared with the current model. New to the range will be a 3.5L V6 developing around 250 hp, which will likely be eclipsed by an even hotter motor, possibly turbocharged, for a new Mazdaspeed 6/MPS model a year down the road.

Though the renderings only show a sedan, the current five-door hatchback and wagon variants are also expected to continue on for the new model, though the current generation wagon and Mazdaspeed6 have been shelved for the ’08 model year. Let’s hope that Mazda’s new weight saving initiatives that were used for the new Mazda2 will also be applied for the six.

[Source: World Car Fans]

 

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One more Mini Clubman detail: European pricing

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Yesterday we brought you the Full Mini Monty including all the details we had on the Clubman… at the time. Now we can make it a Fuller Mini Monty by telling you that the European Mini Clubman will sell there for £14,235, a £1,210 increase over a comparable two-door Mini. With current exchange rates, that’s about $28,900 in U.S. currency. Gulp.

A better way of deducing what the Clubman will cost us in the U.S. might be to look at the percentage of price difference between European hatchback and Clubman models. In that case, a European Clubman costs about 9.1% more than a two-door hatchback. With a U.S. spec, base-model Cooper starting at about $18,050, that could mean a comparably equipped U.S. Clubman might come in under $19,700. Much better, but all speculation, of course.

Starting Nov. 10, Brits will be able to choose between the diesel version at £15,400 and a higher-performance petrol engine with 173bhp at £17,210. Our sale date has yet to be announced, and we haven’t heard any plans of a diesel option here. Yet.

[Source: WhatCar]

Gallery: 2008 MINI Clubman

 

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Long-wheelbase Mondeo sighting in China

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Motor Authority just posted a photo of a special long-wheelbase version of the Ford Mondeo, apparently made for the Chinese market. This has been a popular pastime for automakers of late, as LWB versions of sedans from Cadillac, BMW, Audi and others have surfaced as psuedo-limos for the Chinese market.

The picture of the stretched Mondeo was apparently found on the Chinese forum SoulImage, and shows an obviously-lengthened Ford Mondeo sedan with a longer wheelbase to accommodate its extended rear door. It’s a bit strange to see cars that have just debuted going through the taffy puller and coming out with different proportions than the press photos, especially before we have yet to see the real thing in person, but this Mondeo manages to still look handsome and stylish even with the extra inches. No word on whether or not this Mondeo plus will make it to other markets, though.

[Source: Motor Authority]

 

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Alfa Romeo Returns! 8C Competizione in America in 2008

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Click on the Alfa Romeo 8C for a high res gallery from the announcement

After being absent from the US market since 1995, Alfa Romeo is finally coming back to America one year from now and they are returning with a bang! The opening salvo from Alfa will be the 8C Competizione, which has been appearing in Europe for several years now. Alfa is only building a grand total of 500 8Cs for the entire world with less than 100 of those coming here, and they will be the last of the series.

As part of the preview for this weekend’s Meadow Brook Concours >d’Elegance, Maserati North America boss Jim Selwa unveiled the 8C for the first time in North America in final production form. Befitting such a low volume car, it will command a commensurately high volume price. In Selwa’s words, it will be “somewhere north of $200,000.” The carbon fiber bodied Alfa has a 4.7L V-8 with 450 hp passing through a six-speed paddle-shifted transaxle. Needless to say, there is no wrong wheel drive silliness here.

Under the glass rear hatch resides some custom fitted leather luggage, including a special briefcase in it’s own slot at the back. The 8C will be offered through a limited number of Maserati dealers with the highest rated outlets getting priority. After the 8Cs are all gone, the Alfa renaissance will continue with more mainstream models coming over in 2009. According to Maserati NA PR manager Jeff Ehoodin, the models that will be available will be announced at a later date. For those with a taste for Italian style, the 8C is a wonderful way to start.

[Source: Maserati North America]

Gallery: 2009 Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione

 

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