Posts by Justin Hyde
Justin Hyde at Motoramic 5 days ago
When the original Mercedes-Benz M-Class came forth in 1998 — from a factory in Alabama, of all places — there was a certain amount of skepticism. Sure, it looked the part, and it mostly drove like one, but would German luxury buyers really take to a high-riding SUV?
Today, it's safe to ask whether luxury buyers really want anything else. Where it once stood alone, the Mercedes-Benz midsize SUV is now one of roughly 20 such models for sale in the United States. And despite having its best sales year ever in 2014 — at 46,726 copies — the M-Class was passed by the BMW X5 and the lighter, less expensive models from Asian luxury makes.
Hence the arrival of this, a revamped SUV that now adopts the new Mercedes-Benz nomenclature to be called GLE, because names on luxury cars are apparently as welcome as squeegee men. The engine range remains the same — from a 2.5-liter diesel to two variants of V-6s at 302 hp and 329 hp, and the stonking 5.4-liter twin-turbo V-8, good for up to 577 hp and 561 lb-ft of torque — with one exception: the addition of a plug-in hybrid.
Justin Hyde at Motoramic 6 days ago
Most new car models only have to drive a few feet to their introduction, but the 2016 Jaguar XF's first public drive was more of a high-wire act — literally.
To demonstrate its new, lighter chassis, Jaguar rigged a new XF with special wheels to handle a 787-foot drive on a pair of 1.3-inch wide cables some 59 feet above London's Canary Wharf. The stunt, weeks in the making, took about three minutes to complete as stuntman Jim Dowdell eased the big cat over the water.
The big Jaguar sedan that competes against the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5-Series and Audi A6 has been overshadowed in recent years by the British luxury brand's more sporting models like the F-Type. The new XF arrives up to 265 lbs. lighter than the outgoing version thanks to an all-aluminum chassis, a change that Jaguar claims should pay huge dividends in handling and fuel efficiency.
Jaguar says it will have more details at next week's New York auto show, with the XF set to hit the U.S. market late this year. We'll see if it's as balanced on the ground as it is on a trapeze.
Justin Hyde at Motoramic 7 days ago
While minivans have long been replaced by SUVs as Americans' family haulers of choice, they remain a key part of the history of FCA, the corporation also known as Fiat Chrysler, which invented the segment 33 years ago. Chrysler has already said it plans to launch a new version of the Town & Country at next year's Detroit auto show, but has said the Dodge Grand Caravan would die in its current form.
So what's this minivan-shaped test car covered in camoflauge doing with Dodge badges all over it?
As caught by automotive photographers SpiedBilde, this is likely the 2016 Dodge Caravan; we say "likely" because things have a way of changing at Chrysler right up to a deadline. The photos match the shape of the other test minivans caught earlier — built off the same Fiat-derived platform that underpins the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 sedans. The new minvan is expected to use the 3.2-liter V-6 or some variant of Fiat-Chrysler's four-cylinder; Chrysler has also said the minvan will be its first plug-in hybrid, and could easily adopt an all-wheel-drive system to compete more effectively with the Toyota Sienna.
Justin Hyde at Motoramic 13 days ago
For the past 10 years, no one, not even his son, was allowed inside Bob Koepke's home near Titusville, Fla. The retired NASA accountant had been a fixture for many years around the area's hot-rod circuit and swap meets, and had long wrenched on his own vehicles. When he died last November, his son opened his house — and found it occupied, floor to ceiling, with cars and parts.
After months of pulling vehicles from the weeds and unpacking some four decades of gathering, Bob Koepke's wares will go to auction April 11, and there's a little something for everyone — from the well-preserved 1973 DeTomaso Pantera with 3,800 miles to a bushel of Chevy Tri-Fives and mid-30s Ford coupes in varying states of rust, to hundreds upon hundreds of intakes, carburetors, starters and other parts, including a few built by former friend Smokey Yunick.
Justin Hyde at Motoramic 14 days ago
Much as the classic cars gathering at Amelia Island in March have begun to compete with Pebble Beach's annual concours in scope and beauty, the collector-car auctions around the Amelia Island event have swelled to new heights. Last weekend kept the trend alive, with more than $100 million in classic machinery sold, with 20 rare Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Mercedes drawing more than $1 million apiece.
And then there's this, a 1974 Volkswagen Type 181, a.k.a. Thing, that set a new world record price for VW Things during the sale at Gooding & Co. You'll never believe what this Thing is suddenly worth.
One of several customized for an Acapulco resort, this surrey-topped Thing is rare but not exactly museum-quality; it saw several years of use around said resort and came to Gooding billed as fun driver, not a conservatory piece. Things were slow beasts, what with their 46-hp engines and 0-60 mph times of "mix me another mai-tai while you're at it," but as they were based on widely available VW components, care and feeding has been fairly easy.
Justin Hyde at Motoramic 17 days ago
Ostensibly made to mark the pending sale of the 500,000 Chevrolet Camaro, this Chevy video has a nice amount of sideways Camaro and speed. But it's real reason for existence rumbles into view at the end — the first official glimpse of the sixth-generation 2016 Chevy Camaro, due for its full reveal in the not-too-distant future.
We know a bit about the new Camaro — mainly that it will utilize a much lighter chassis than the current version, and likely arrive with some increase in power and, one can assume, an improvement in handling and balance. More than that, the new Camaro demonstrates a refreshing commitment by Chevy to keep its muscle car fans sated with new technology, rather than letting its models age into obsolescence and competitive disadvantages. (It's doubtful the production model will have the front tow hook of the mule in the video.)
Justin Hyde at Motoramic 21 days ago
Even after a year that saw it recall some 30 million vehicles, General Motors managed to pull off solid profits in 2014, especially in North America, where its lineup has far fewer weak points than four years ago. That success had lured the attention of Wall Street, which saw GM's $25.2 billion cash horde as a lucrative target. Today, GM cut a deal to keep the wolves at bay, announcing it would spend $10 billion on dividends and share buybacks — and in the process, gave its competitors an opening.
The deal was ushered in at the insistence of Harry Wilson, one of the Wall Street types who managed GM's bankruptcy in 2009. Back then, Wilson was steering the government's plan to stiff some investors in favor of GM's other creditors and save the company. Last month, Wilson announced a new job as the point man for a group of investors with 1.2 percent of GM shares, and revealed he would campaign for a board seat to get GM to spend $8.1 billion on buying shares back by 2016.
Justin Hyde at Motoramic 26 days ago
It's normal for one of Europe's big auto shows to host a variety of forward-thinking concept car reveals, but this year's Geneva Motor Show included a rarity — the unveiling of a pair of concept tires by Goodyear meant to expand ideas about what tires can do aside from keeping a car on the road.
The first, dubbed the BH-03, combines two fairly advanced technologies to generate electricity from the tire itself that could help recharge electric vehicle batteries on the road. A weave of thermoelectric fibers transforms the heat generated by the tire's friction with the road into energy, while piezioelectric material does the same using changes in the tire's shape as it moves. Goodyear didn't suggest how much energy such a set of tires could potentially create, but said if put into production could ease EV owners' range anxiety.
Justin Hyde at Motoramic 26 days ago
We're well more than a year away from the first Ford GT going into a customer's hands, a timeline that's led Ford to dispense details about the supercar with an eyedropper. Today, Ford reveal two key data points — the production figures and a strong hint about its price — which puts the GT into clearer focus. If you own a Lamborghini dealership, 2016 may be a rough year.
Ford says it will assemble 250 GTs a year, with final assembly at supplier Multimatic's plant in Canada, which will handle the carbon-fiber and aluminum chassis. Ford stopped short of saying how many years production will run, although Dave Pericak, head of Ford's Performance unit, did say on Monday that total GT production would total in the "hundreds, not thousands."
Justin Hyde at Motoramic 27 days ago
How far have sports cars evolved in recent years? Ten years ago, the most capable supercar on the planet was the Porsche Carrera GT, a wondrous and wickedly complex machine that lapped the famed Nürburgring in 7 minutes, 29 seconds. Today, Porsche unveiled the 911 GT3 RS, a car that costs a fraction of what the Carrera does, uses much of the everyday's 911 chassis, and yet can beat it by a handy nine seconds around the Nürburgring.
While Porsche says the 911 GT3 RS is as far as it can push the line between track-only 911 and one that's still possible to use on public roads, there's nothing common about this 911. The body comes mostly from the 911 Turbo, with a wing that could do double duty as a dining-room sideboard on the rear. To save weight, many of those panels are made of carbon fiber; Porsche has even gone so far to construct the roof from magnesium for greater lightness still.