Category Archives: Auto

We Watched Fast and Furious 6 So You Don’t Have To

Check your brains in the parking lot and cinch down your cupholder mounts for two hours of cars blowing up, cars making wildly improbably leaps, squadrons upon squadrons of girls in bikinis, and plenty of short sentences that burble out of Vin Diesel’s pie hole, because "Fast & Furious 6" opens tomorrow.

We saw it. Now you don’t have to. And in true "Fast and Furious" form, the best and most coherent part of this movie is the fact that there will be a sequel. We can already infer some predictions:

1. In every "Fast and Furious" movie, poor Vin Diesel has to fight someone increasingly larger than himself. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in the fifth movie, Danish bodybuilder and real-life Contra character Kim Kold in this one. Based on this escalation, in the next movie Vin Diesel will fight the planet Jupiter.

2. Except for several hundred innocent motorists and their passengers, nobody ever dies in the "Fast & Furious" franchise. Does this mean we’ll see the return of Jesse, the poor sap who got machine-gunned to death in the first movie? Will he be driving the same white Volkswagen Jetta? Will he have to buy it back from Frankie Muniz first? Will Frankie Muniz play the bad guy in the next movie?

3. The value of Jensen Interceptors will increase fivefold. The value of undamaged Vauxhall Astras will skyrocket. The value of original Ford Escorts, its owners not wanting to be associated with such a tawdry piece of work, will plummet.

And so on, and so forth.

We expect the franchise to go on for the rest of civilization’s existence. But for now, you can read our review of the sixth movie at Autoweek.com, as well as our predictions for the future. Commer Spacevans and Humber Super Snipes, unite!

The Best Australian Fords

I remember getting interested in Australian car culture the moment I saw my first Mad Max Interceptor. With news that Ford is ceasing production of big RWD cars in Australia we thought we’d look back at the best with your help.

Years after seeing that first big Ford, I had flatmates from down under while living in London who kept telling me that being a Holden (GM) or a Ford guy is "more serious business than a cricket final against the All Blacks (New-Zealand)." Now it seems like Australian Fords are going even further down, leaving us without Falcons and their Ute variants.

Ford Australia was founded in 1925, so you have almost ninety year’s worth of Aussie steel to choose from. Which is your favorite?

Photo credit: Sicnag

Should “Mr. Saab” Buy A Subaru BRZ or a Honda S2000?

At /DRIVE, both on screen and off, we’ve been playing a game called #BRZorThat, in which we debate whether we’d buy a new BRZ — the most hyped sports car in the history of sports cars — or something else. Today, that something else is the Honda S2000.

This week on AFTER/DRIVE, Ian "Mr. Saab" Whalen steps out from behind the camera to discuss a budding desire to replace (or supplement) his beloved 9-3 Viggen with either a used Honda S2000 or a new BRZ (or Scion FR-S) — two cars that couldn’t be more different in character from the 9-3.

[UPDATE — I’d kept forgetting to watch this great, very apt comparo of the FR-S, RX8 (watch for this one in an upcoming #BRZorThat) and S2000 from our friends at Everyday Driver, to whom I will suggest starting their own Kinja page here to post their stuff. It’s good.]

The point of the segment is largely academic — who loves to argue more than car enthusiasts? And frankly — to pull back the curtain — YouTube is more than happy to have decent conversations going on in their comment section. To our surprise, these shows produce far fewer "you suck" and "get a fucking haircut" trolls than average.

Spider-Man Playing Basketball? Spider-Man Playing Basketball.

Andrew Garfield took a couple minutes off the set of Not Another Spider-Man Movie to shoot some hoops on a court in New York’s Chinatown. In full costume.

Eh, even if he had web shooters and spider-sense, I’d still take LeBron 1-on-1.

[Gothamist]

What Car Is Superman Trashing On The Action Comics No. 1 Cover?

Superman’s been on minds lately, what with that new movie and the story of a man finding an original Superman-introducing 1938 Action Comics 1 in the walls of his house, and that’s got me thinking. You know what else is on the cover of Action Comics 1, other than a very strong man in ankle boots and a bodysuit? A car.

Because of the caped and underpants’d fellow on that cover, very few people seem to pay much attention to that green car. It’s not even entirely clear what’s going on with that car. Sure, based on what I know about Superman, I can assume he’s doing something constructive there, probably helping out the guy crouching in the green pants there. But if you didn’t know about Superman, as people seeing this back in 1938 wouldn’t have, it looks a lot more like some roided-up nut in a cape is smashing a car into some rocks, as people flee in head-clutching terror.

But, even more importantly, what kind of car is that? After all these years, don’t we deserve to know? I firmly believe in determining the makes of all cars we encounter in our culture, from Monopoly to money.

Of course we deserve to know. So that’s what I set out to find out. I think it’s likely based on an actual car, since it makes sense that Joe Shuster, the artist, would have used photographic references for much of what he drew, as comic book artists did then and still do today.

The car is clearly a late-30s car, though at first glance it really could be almost any American brand. If you often lament how alike so many cars look today, I’d suggest not wasting your precious time-travel research by going back to the 1930s, because many makes of cars looked alike then, too. The bulbous fenders, suicide doors, large, scarab-ish shape, tall grilles — all of these traits describe both the Action Comics car and a great number of American cars of the era.

After configuring the Jalopnik dyna-satellite linkup and conferring with fellow auto historian Raph, we came up with some reasonable options. A ’37-38 Chevy sedan was an earlier contender, and while the grille was a dead-on match, the split windshield suggested we needed to keep looking. Soon, it appeared that the most likely candidate for the car was something Mopar. Something like a 1937 Dodge, which was pretty damn close, save for the grille. But everything else matched up well — general shape, proportions, locations and style of trim and lighting equipment, etc. Luckily, Chrysler was lazily badge-engineering all sorts of these cars under different names with different trim and details.

It was Googling these variants that I found that someone had already figured this out.

While looking for examples of DeSoto, Chrysler’s short-lived luxury marque, we came across Wriphe.com, and the excellent analysis of just this issue on the site. It seems the author, Walter Stephens, came up with the same conclusions as we did, just way back in 2009. Here’s what they had to say:

Chrysler produced nearly identical touring sedans with the Chrysler, Dodge, DeSoto, and Plymouth nameplates. These models have minor superficial differences, though their general features are all a great match to Superman’s sedan. The car that appears between the pages of Action Comics #1 appears to have different front grills in different panels. It is possible that Shuster used different cars for different panels, depending on which angle he was drawing. Maybe he even had a brochure featuring many of Chryslers sedans. (Chrysler was not shy about the cross promotion.) However, after comparison, the 1937 DeSoto touring sedan is perhaps the best match for the grill depicted on the car in Superman’s hands on the cover.

So, instead of being disillusioned, I’m going to be encouraged. That car that Superman is making kiss those boulders, again and again, is, quite definitively, a 1937 DeSoto. At least two separate websites agree, and I think that counts as a majority on the internet.

It feels good to know.

RideApart Comparison: Ducati 1199 Panigale S v R

RideApart Comparison: Ducati 1199 Panigale S v R

We’ve spent the last two weeks living with the fastest motorcycle in the world, the Ducati 1199 Panigale R, also riding it alongside the less exotic Ducati 1199 Panigale S. How do the two stack up in the real world?

Photos: Shera Richter

What’s Different
The Panigale is a very special motorcycle. It’s the first production bike to ditch the frame in favor of an airbox that doubles as a front subframe, connecting the forks to the front cylinder. The rear subframe bolts to the rear cylinder. That helps it achieve an extremely light weight: 361.5lbs (dry) in the case of the S model. That’s lighter than a 600.

The Panigale is the first Ducati to benefit from 2nd generation traction control, which works seamlessly to help you put the power down in an effective manner. Previous Ducati superbikes were fitted with a herky jerky system that was essentially there for safety only.

Included in that electronic rider aid package is also ABS brakes, quick shift and, thanks to a ride-by-wire throttle, switchable riding modes. You can also adjust the level of engine braking and even the damping settings front and rear through the full-color TFT screen. Preload remains manual.

The R retails the S’s top-shelf Ohlins NIX 30 front and TTX36 rear suspension, forged Marchesini wheels and Brembo M50 brake calipers. That’s good, because those are essentially the nicest components out there.

To the S, the R adds:
- Titanium connecting rods that drop 630 grams of reciprocating inertia
- A 700 gram lighter flywheel
- The above changes add 500rpm to the max revs, taking them to 12,500rpm
- Gearing is reduced to 15/41
- Unique Ducati Corse graphics on the still-plastic bodywork.
- An exposed aluminum fuel tank
- Fairing extenstions in front of the rider’s hands
- A tall windscreen
- A suede-covered seat
- Full Termignoni exhaust system
- GPS-enabled data collection with channels prepared for suspension potentiometers (not included)
- A four-way adjustable swingarm pivot.

Ducati claims the same 195bhp peak power figure at the same RPMs for both bikes, but because the included exhaust system is wink wink, nudge nudge in terms of legality (it ships uninstalled), they don’t tally the additional 7bhp it brings. So figure the R makes 202bhp and 100lb/ft of torque.

We just went to ProItalia.com and added up the price of that exhaust ($3,568.90), DDA kit ($600), seat ($264.10), sprockets ($389.75) and screen ($151.90) and got a total of $4,974.65. That obviously doesn’t include the adjustable swingarm pivot, engine parts or aluminum tank. Considering the R carries only a $7,000 premium over the $22,995 S, that actually makes it something of a bargain.

Particularly if you’re planning on racing the R, which is really the market this ultimate Panigale is going after. Its racers that stand to benefit most from the increased RPMs and adjustable swingarm pivot. The former allows them to hang on to a lower gear for longer in corners, increasing drive, while the latter increases their ability to set the bike up for specific weather conditions, tires and tracks, choosing to maximize stability, drive or turn in speed.

RideApart Comparison: Ducati 1199 Panigale S v R

The S comes in solid red or the white version you see Adey riding here.

The Ride
I rode the S up Angeles Crest Highway to Newcomb’s Ranch and the R back down. Then spent about two weeks using the $30,000 bike as everyday transportation.

The most apparent differencesbetween the two obviously come from the considerably lower gearing on the R. Where the S uses 15/39, the R’s two extra rear teeth increase thrust at full throttle in 3rd gear by 10 percent and by 18 percent in 6th. While no, we aren’t hitting full throttle in top gear on the road, there remains noticeabley stronger drive on the R. It also becomes much more prone to pulling wheelies simply through aggressive application of the throttle.

The other big differences come from the screen, which does a much better job of directing wind blast over your shoulders, even at legal highway speeds and, surprisingly, that suede seat. Where my Roadcrafter was unable to grip the slippery stock seat at all, the suede helped me stay in place during braking and acceleration and helped me relax more while hanging off around corners.

The really big difference though? Some guy named Troy Bayliss was the last person with this particular bike and he’d set up the suspension for laps at Chuckwalla. With them, the R’s steering was notably sharper than the stock-setting S, you could be more aggressive with trail braking and the bike was more stable while driving out of corners, allowing you to get on the throttle early. Want to try them for yourself? Set up the preload for your bodyweight, then plug these in using that TFT screen:

RideApart Comparison: Ducati 1199 Panigale S v R

“Our” R was fitted with the stock 200/55 rear over the slightly taller 200/60. Those settings also made the R an absolute bear around town and on Los Angeles’s bumpy highways, bouncing me fully out of the seat on several occasions.

Neither the S nor R is ideal for use on city streets, through real world highways or in congested traffic. The Panigale’s intense, take-no-prisoners experience actually makes it slower in those environments than most other sport bikes even practical machinery like a V-Strom 650. Even in Sport mode, it surges unpredictably, occasionally cuts out under braking, tracks grooves and ruts and literally spits fire; the Termignoni will shoot a 6-inch flame on overrun.

But, get it on a smooth, twisty canyon road and you’re rewarded with the absolute fastest, most responsive, sharpest tool possible. Riders of less than expert ability beware, this bike will cut you.

“I felt more at home on the R,” says Adey, who’s pictured in these photos. “Between the more comfy race seat and track suspension settings left by Troy Bayliss. The bike was was more inviting to go fast on. In the same breath it was also quite tame and rideable on the street. Throttle response is crisp and predictable. Keep in mind I always ride in race mode.”

“The S model needed some getting used to with its slippery seat and softer suspension settings. Even though the S shares the same suspension hardware as the R, the settings you apply make or break the ride. I’d take either one, just save the suspension settings from the R!”

RideApart Comparison: Ducati 1199 Panigale S v R

What’s Good
The R’s extras are totally worthwhile and part of a reasonably affordable package. The aerodynamics work on the road just as well as they do on the track. The seat does a much better job of holding you in place. The gearing seriously improves acceleration. The apocalyptically loud exhaust sounds absolutely wonderful.

In fact, riding around on the R is akin, at least in our minds, to driving something like a Ferrari Enzo or Lamborghini Reventon. You’re obviously not going to be using its performance to ride to a party at Vivienne Westwood, but when you get there, you’ll actually be able to park right out front. As an added bonus, the R’s subtle flash only tells cognoscenti that you dropped serious dime on this bike. Cristiano Minchio, the CEO of the brand’s US operations, knew what it was, and was suitably impressed, but everyone else figured it was just another a nice Ducati.

RideApart Comparison: Ducati 1199 Panigale S v R

The latest Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SPs do a good job of heating up quickly and providing as much grip as you’ll ever need, even on 65 degree days and around town.

Those tires, combined with both ABS and TC, actually lead to a reassuring sense of safety. Something that’s welcome on such a fast, intimidating machine. The brakes always delivering commanding stopping power, even over sketchy, bumpy surfaces and you can wind on that immense power with confidence.

The full-color, TFT screen is bright and conveys information clearly and immediately.

RideApart Comparison: Ducati 1199 Panigale S v R

What’s Bad
Fueling that’s so perfect at wide-open throttle becomes jerky and unpredictable in city traffic. The R was prone to cutting out while gently decelerating, such as you would do while approaching a red light.

Even with the new-for-2013 engine and exhaust covers that are now standard acros the Panigale range, the bike gets extremely hot at city speeds.

Comfort, while exponentially improved over previous Ducati superbikes, is still…limited. Even while riding fast on good roads, vibrations made both my hands and feet numb after just a few miles and your wrists will cry for mercy after 10 minutes in city traffic.

Changing settings through the TFT screen using the turn signal switch and two little buttons located above and below it is terribly confusing and frustrating. Even just switching from Race to Sport mode, you’ll find yourself turning on the indicators and swearing.

The R feels like it’s fitted with more aggressive brake pads than the S. Great around a track like COTA, where you’re regularly braking from very high speed, not so great in traffic, at night, on slippery roads. ABS helps a lot, but the brakes still end up being a little much.

TC, ABS and all the other stuff combine to make both the S and R confidently exploitable for expert riders giving it all of their attention. They do not make the Panigale in any way accessible or appropriate for anyone else.

The Price
$29,995 makes this the cheapest R-model Ducati ever. That’s great if you plan to go racing with it, but the bike is unnecessary if you’re only planning to ride it on the street or use it on trackdays. We’d add a suede seat, lowered gearing and taller screen to the S and spend the remainder on tires and gas. You’re going to use a lot of both on this Ducati.

The Verdict
That the Ducati 1199 Panigale R remains useable on the street is quite the accomplishment, given its absolute-fastest race track performance. Still, you can go just as fast on the road with the S on a bike that looks just a nice to 99.9 percent of people. Maybe because we’re fresh off hitting 202mph on one down at COTA, but we didn’t mind posing on this R one bit. “I’ve got the fastest bike in the world, in my garage,” just has a nice ring to it.

RideApart Rating
Ducati 1199 Panigale R: 10/10
Ducati 1199 Panigale S: 9/10

Gear
Helmet: Shoei RF-1100 ($397)
Leathers: Alpinestars Race Replica ($2,900)
Gloves: Alpinestars GP-Pro ($240)
Boots: Alpinestars Supertech R ($450)

Joe Strummer Lost His Dodge in Spain

The Clash was on a downward spiral in 1984/5 and Joe Strummer went to Spain to get away for a while. During that time he acquired a Dodge 3700 GT, which he later lost in a parking garage in Madrid.

The story of the lost Mopar has inspired a documentary film by Nick Hall, who is looking for funds to finish the sound mix and help pay for music licensing. Check out the teaser trailer at MoparBlog.

Did The McLaren P1 Just Obliterate The Lap Record At The Nurburgring?

The McLaren P1 is obscenely fast. Like ridiculously quick. Especially on a track. We just received word that the P1 might have made it around the Nurburgring Nordschliefe in just 6:33. That would make it the fastest ever production car to hit the ‘Ring. By 15 seconds. Holy shit.

We were expecting the P1 to be very, very fast at the ‘Ring, as well as pretty much everywhere else. But 15 seconds quicker than the current street-legal record holder, which is a 6:48 second lap by a Radical SR8? That’s ridonkulous. It’s even faster than the non-street legal Zonda R’s 6:47 lap time.

This image appears to come from autohome.com.cn, a Chinese car website. I looked for a long time at a translated version of the site, but couldn’t find the record time anywhere.

I sent a note to McLaren to see if they could confirm the time and am yet to hear back.

Chrysler Wants To Start A Fight With Tesla

This is The Morning Shift, our one-stop daily roundup of all the auto news that’s actually important — all in one place at 9:00 AM. Or, you could spend all day waiting for other sites to parse it out to you one story at a time. Isn’t your time more important?

1st Gear: Tesla, Chrysler Would Like To Have A Word With You

Tesla paid off its Department of Energy loans yesterday, nine years ahead of schedule. They made a pretty big deal out of being the first and only to do so, and they made the government, and us taxpayers, $12 million.

Chrysler saw Tesla’s statement about the loan repayments, and seems to have taken it personally, at least that’s what it seems like on their corporate blog:

On May 22, 2013, Tesla, a California-based EV manufacturer, said it has repaid a DoE loan adding: “Tesla will be the only American car company to have fully repaid the government.” (http://www.teslamotors.com/about/press/re…

The information is unmistakably incorrect. It’s pretty well-known that almost exactly two years ago – May 24, 2011 – Chrysler Group LLC repaid (in full and with interest) U.S. and Canadian government loans more than six years ahead of schedule.
Question: short memory or short-circuit?

Chrysler did repay everything that was asked of it, but they’re really opening a can of worms here. Of the $12.5 billion loan, Chrysler repaid $11.2 billion. That left $1.3 billion that will probably never be repaid to the government. So the loan to Tesla: $12 million profit. The loan to Chrysler: $1.3 billion loss.

Chrysler also applied for the same loan program that Tesla received from the DoE, but withdrew its request in 2012. It’s unclear why Chrysler would bring this up. Tesla didn’t mention Chrysler anywhere in its announcement or provoke them in any way. The loans that Chrysler repaid were also very contentious. Yes, it is good that they repaid all they asked, but brining up anything as politically motivated as the automaker bailout is probably not the best decision, especially now since people aren’t thinking about it anymore.

Maybe they’re ticked that the Circuit EV never took off.

2nd Gear: The Chevy Spark EV Is Way Cheap

If you say that the only barrier to you getting an electric car is the high price, then Chevy just made you find another excuse. When it goes on-sale, the Chevy Spark EV will cost $27,495, which means that the federal tax credit will bring that price down to $19,995.

That compares quite favorably to the Nissan Leaf ($29,650), Fiat 500e ($33,200), and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV ($29,975). The Spark also has 400 pound feet of torque, which I believe makes this one of the cheapest stump pullers you can buy today.

3rd Gear: The New Toyota Corolla Looks Furia-ous

The new Corolla is set to be released imminently, and Toyota has released a SWEET picture of its rear light. I know we aren’t teaser fans, but the Corolla is one of the best selling cars ever made, so this is important.

If this strange angle shot of the rear light is any indication, then what we’re getting for the Corolla is a toned down version of the Furia Concept that we saw in Detroit.

Not a bad thing, the Furia was a handsome car. Of course, if they tone it down too much, then it will just be another boring car that will sell like Wonder Bread.

4th Gear: Consumer Advocacy Group Wants Five Million Jeeps Recalled

The Center for Auto Safety is calling for the recall of five million Jeep Grand Cherokees built from 1993 until 2004.

The reason behind the recall request is the fire hazard they say is posed by the location of the gas tank and fuel filler, and they cited that three children have died in car fires since 2006 in Grand Cherokees and 157 total have died in fires.

A letter was sent to Fiat Chairman John Elkaaan to express their concern.

5th Gear: Australian Built Fords Are Dead

As we reported last night, Ford Australia has announced that it will cease operations at the end of 2016. High operating costs, a fragmented market, and a strong Australian dollar has led to $578 million in losses over the last five years. That isn’t sustainable, and declining sales meant that there was a long road to making it profitable again.

Ford will still have a presence in Australia, but the cars will all be imports. That means that the Falcon, Ford’s last rear-wheel drive sedan, will live on until 2016 and then be relegated to the annals of history.

That’s a shame. It also means that Holden fans will have a lot to gloat about in the near future.

Reverse

On this day in 1934, wanted outlaws Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker are shot to death by Texas and Louisiana state police officers as they attempt to escape apprehension in a stolen 1934 Ford Deluxe near Bienville Parish, Louisiana.

[HISTORY]

Neutral

What do you make of Chrysler saying that they were the first to pay off loans? Why would they bring that up? Why do they care about Tesla’s statement?

For $6,900, What’s A Ute?

Ned Flanders drove a Metro, and when implored by his wife Maude to go faster so as to escape a clingy Homer Simpson, he screamed I can’t, it’s a Gee-ohhh! Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe custom pickup may be similarly lethargic and Geo-riffic, but will you find its price to be completely cartoonish?

You know the old movie meme where there’s this mousey girl who, underneath the unflattering glasses, unkempt hair, and Kmart Dowager’s-Choice fashions, is really a hot and saucy minx- you know the fugly duckling story? Well 66% of you thought yesterday’s 1988 Camry All-Trac, while possessing duck-like weather-capabilities also came with a swan-esque price. And that was all despite its salvage title, which is irreversibly ugly.

If we’re doing one of these things is not like the other this week, then yesterday’s somnambulantly stock Camry sedan would stick out like a sore thumb amidst all the custom pickups, of which today’s 1996 Geo Metro is the latest.

The Metros, as well as their Suzuki Swift cousins, and Chevy Sprint predecessors, are like the Cicadas. Instead however of emerging once every 17 years for a mad round of creepy bug sex and death, they seemingly arrive in droves in the nation’s classifieds whenever gas prices rapidly climb by more than 20%.

That’s owed to the fact that the Geo Metro’s reputation for frugality rivals that of Scrooge McDuck. And when gas prices ebb, so do the Geo ads, although there are outliers. Our candidate today is just such a car – and it doesn’t get much more outlier-ier than a custom Metro Ute.

Claimed to be the winner of three – count ‘em, three – car shows, this painfully twee little utility looks like something Oompa Loompas use to cart bratty children to their doom at the Wonka factory. Actually, the conversion appears so professionally done that the car looks freakishly like a three-quarter scale version of Chevy’s Brazilian Montana Ute.

According to the ad, the car’s exterior sports a fresh coat of arrest-me red, and the pictures show a set of wheels resplendent in Pep Boys bling. Speaking of pictures, this is about the smallest car you could possibly find outside of aMonopoly board, and yet the seller couldn’t even manage to get the entire thing in a single shot.

On the inside, there’s custom upholstery and no need to apologize to riders about the lack of rear seat legroom. The customization in there seems to be limited to a stylized Z on each door panel, and the work of someone pining for the eventual creation of Pinterest.

Mechanically this ‘96 Metro is stock, and that means the 67-bhp Suzuki G13BA four cylinder and 5-speed stick driving the front wheels. That combo is not going to engender much excitement unless hybrid-like fuel economy gets your party started. These things can easily break 40-mpg owing to their tiny dancer of an engine and sub-ton weight.

Unless the conversion to pickup was undertaken with former nuclear power plant shielding and Brando-brand Bondo, this trucklet should be similarly light and efficient.

The question of course is whether or not its price is equally demonstrative of frugality. The seller is asking $6,900 for this custom little truck, and you need to now vote on whether you think that’s a fair shake. What do you say, does that price suit this Ute? Or, is that too much to ask for so small a truck?

You decide!

Columbia Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

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