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Five years ago this month, Detroit automakers fanned out across Capitol Hill and much of Washington, warning that without immediate federal help at least one of them would collapse, setting off a chain of dominos that could cost up to 1 million jobs. Many inside and out of Detroit opposed the idea; one potential Republican presidential candidate even wrote an op-ed with the headline "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt." And Congress veered between castigating Detroit for its mistakes and worrying about how to pay for the billions of dollars the companies sought.
Five years later, there's no other word to describe the U.S. auto industry than "thriving." It employed almost exactly as many Americans to build cars, trucks and parts — roughly 822,000, by federal data — last month as it did in October 2008, before the Great Recession closed factories and sent sales plunging. All three Detroit automakers will earn more than $1 billion in profits this year, and thousands of UAW workers at each stand to get sizable profit-sharing bonuses.
Yet the debate over bailout and its effects linger, and for some has never stopped. Within a matter of months, the U.S. Treasury will sell off its last shares of General Motors, closing the books with a loss of roughly $10 billion. Chrysler's future rests on solving a puzzle built into its rescue as a compromise between the government, Fiat and the UAW. And for all that the bailout promised to change, Detroit's profits still lie with the models that made money before the great collapse.Read More »from Five years on, GM and Chrysler roar past the bailout’s echoes
As car enthusiasts, we don’t need much cajoling to get behind the wheel of Volkswagen’s charismatic GTI, a car that VW has more or less perfected over three decades. With its turbocharged four-cylinder engine, flawless transmissions, and delicious handling, VW’s perennial hot hatch puts an ear-to-ear grin on our faces every time we drive one.
But to drive a one-off, 500+ horsepower, all-wheel-drive, GTI concept car? One that is based on the all-new, “Mark 7” Golf GTI that’s hasn’t even been introduced here yet’? Well, that occasion happens exactly never, so when VW reached out and offered us such a chance with its stunning Design Vision GTI concept car shortly after its appearance at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show, we showed up early and stayed late.Read More »from Volkswagen Design Vision GTI, a 503-hp fantasy: Motoramic Drives
If you're dreading a long drive this Thanksgiving, you can take some solace that the trip didn't last 141 days. That's how long it took a team of Ford engineers and drivers to rack up 221,473 miles on a Ford Taunus 12M in 1963 —driving around the clock, averaging 65 mph including pit stops. The stunt was meant to show the V-4 powered Taunus was as durable as any German machine, something the team unexpectedly tested when one driver fell asleep behind the wheel and rolled it. He pushed the car back on its wheels, and after a few checks the Taunus was back on the track. The stunt set a record for endurance driving that's never been equaled, and likely won't be.
This car you see is clearly a new-generation Audi A3 Sportback. Yawn. But look closer and you’ll see the fancy decals that set this Sportback apart from the usual Bavarian five-door herd. “E-tron” is Audi’s sub-brand for all plug-in electric hybrids, and this A3 Sportback e-tron will be the first one of the breed to cruise into America.Read More »from 2015 Audi A3 e-tron, plug-in wagons ho: Motoramic Drives
In a small, pristine garage in North County San Diego, an unusual project is under way. Huddled around a single steel chassis, a team of expert automotive welders is fabricating a new high-tech supercar, dubbed the Lucra L148. It's the brainchild of Luke Richards, a quixotic entrepreneur and former pilot, who founded Lucra Cars in 2006. If all goes as planned, Richards and his team of 12 full-time craftsmen hope to create one of the most technologically advanced American supercars ever made.Read More »from Inside one man’s quest to build America’s next great supercar
Kazunori Yamauchi holds more sway over the auto industry than almost anyone else who doesn't actually work in it. As the creator and grandmaster of Gran Turismo and Polyphony Digital CEO, Yamauchi has brought realistic racing into millions of homes — and created fan bases for vehicles such as the Nissan GT-R, Mitsubishi Lancer EVO and even the old Datsun 510. At the Los Angeles Auto Show, I talked with Yamauchi about how he managed to lure dozens of design studios to produce new models for Gran Turismo 6, like the stunning Mercedes AMG Vision Gran Turismo.Read More »from Gran Turismo 6′s mastermind on why car designers like to play along
Facing an OPEC oil embargo and an approaching winter where some homes could run short of heating oil, President Richard M. Nixon on this date in 1973 made a televised speech to announce an unprecedented step for saving gasoline: a ban on sales from 9 p.m. Saturdays through midnight Sundays, until the crisis eased. "This step should not result in any serious hardship for any American family," Nixon said. "It will, however, discourage long-distance driving during weekends. It will mean perhaps spending a little more time at home." The ban lasted until the embargo was resolved in March; as you can see in the photo above taken in December 1973 in Portland, Ore., most people stayed home rather than waste gas on those Sundays. Today, thanks to more advanced drilling and lower consumption, the United States occasionally exports more gasoline than it consumes.Read More »from November 25: Nixon bans Sunday gasoline sales on this date in 1973
After spending the past few day at the LA Auto Show, learning the future of the automotive industry, it's time to revisit the past. Or, at least, a car that came from the past -- like this 1933 Napier Railton aero-engined race car pictured here by Gordon Calder -- as it relives its past by blasting up the Kop Hill Climb this year, the first time the machine has hit public roads since its birth. If you have a photo to share, please add it to Motoramic's Flickr group, or send us a message via Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.Read More »from Reliving the past: Flickr photo of the day
Being the kind of man he is, our pal Ezra … More »
Earlier this week, we brought you Jaguar's … More »
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