Friday, May 26, 2006

CARNIVAL OF CARS: A Drive Around the Auto Blog Block for Friday, May 26, 2006

It's been 1975 all over again this week as Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, calls for a return of the hated 55 mph national speed limit - one of the all-time most stupid measures taken during the first energy crisis. Saved about a teacup of petrol but cost people billions of dollars in lost time and added travel frustration.

So, let's hit the road for this week's drive around the auto blog block and enjoy the open cyber road while we still can before our power-happy public servants in Washington, D.C. do more mischief.

Debtblog promises to try out all those gas-saving devices starting to appear on the late night cable tv commercials, thanks to $3 a gallon petrol. They aren't enthusiastic about hybrids, either.

Speaking of hybrids, I Want a Jeep discusses the choice between a hybrid version or a diesel and concludes the latter is easily the way to go, if only because it could conceivably run on french fry grease.

Not sure I believe it but The Garage Blog says its great to be young and Amish in Buffalo.

Sure, it looks like a Bimmer, but Straightline knows better - it's a mule of the coming Porsche Panamera testing at the Ring in Germany. Expect it as a 2009 model.

Some guys get to have all the fun, guys like Karl Brauer of Inside Line. He reports on his recent cross-country trek in an M6, which started at this great sausage stand in Wisconsin that happens also to have a race track attached to it.

Stay tuned to Inside Line because they just dropped off a Jeep for service and promise a full report when the vehicle is returned.

"But honey, this is a car that gets better gas mileage compared to our old Altima." Confused? Check out The Driving Woman. It's a new edition of the Cayman that has a nifty EPA rating. Anybody remember those "Sun Porsche" television sports for the 2.0 liter 914?

Over at Strategies for Smart Car Buyers, editor Philip May got to practice what he's been preaching for six years, with a result that a new Honda Fit sits in his driveway. And his wife likes it, too!

Now Honda claims to have invented Bio-Fabric. NoonzWheels has details. This will give new meaning to the phrase: "Nah, I didn't like it much when I first bought it but it's been growing on me."

Okay, that's the bad pun for this week. Aren't you glad I got it over so quickly!

Do you remember the significance of Dinoco to the story line of the original Toy Story? NoonzWheels has that one, too. And photos. Those pixars good ones, too!

Did I say that?

Nick at Punny Money has 10 reasons you should buy a Mini with your money.

Now, moving right along ...

At Auto Extremist, Ethanol Boy previews the Penske v Ganassi battle royal aka The Greatest Spectacle in Racing on this Memorial Day Weekend. My pick to win is Vitor Meira, who EB tabs as a strong dark horse. My second pick is Scott Dixon who, like Meira is due.

Here's another desirable scenario: Michael wins it and we all get to stop hearing about the family curse at the Brickyard.

Autoblog's Eric Bryant has four easy ways to make your buggy handle the turns better.

There's a note about a popcorn Saab for sale over at Carpundit.

Cars! Cars! Cars! says Ford ought to grow up, get rid of the "war rooms" and start making "kick-ass cars and trucks." Sounds about right to me, good buddy.

Betcha didn't know Toyota sells an Avensis in the UK. Carscoop has pictures and more from the official uveiling of a vehicle that looks a lot like an Avalon. Strictly coincidental, I'm sure.

Finally, the war is over! The Spanish-American War, that is. You just thought Teddy ended it with that epic charge of his Rough Riders up San Juan Hill. We've been paying for that war ever since via a three percent federal telephone excise tax. Don't Mess With Taxes reports Uncle Sam has finally decided to stop collecting the tax and will even refund whatever we've paid for the past three years. We get to apply for the refund when we file our 2006 tax returns.

Right, the item above has nothing to do with cars. I just figured you could use some good news.

Allen Brewer at Fast Machines says the new tv trio of Scott Goodyear (who taught me how to threshold brake long, long ago at Summit Point), Rusty Wallace and Marty Reid brings back memories of the first guys on Monday Night Football.

There is another illustrious race right around the corner in June at that fancy-schmancy place A.J. won at once. Fastlane blog has a podcast up that explains how the Corvette team is ready to take another 24 Hour victory for the Bow Tie Brigade.

It won't be on the market for a while but you can see a great artist rendering of the upcoming Audi Q3 at Left Lane News.

The Rooskis get to build Beetles when VW finishes the plant Gear6 reports is now planned to open in late 2007.

The incomparable Robert Farago wonders why GM is paying a bankruptcy expert not to provide his bankruptcy expertise. Find out more at GM Death Watch. Here's just a sample:

"... The General has launched a guerilla war to stop people like us telling people like you that people like Wagoner are running the company into the ground. As revealed by The Detroit News, GM's so-called 'Arlington project' will deploy some 50 GM flacklings throughout 16 U.S. cities. It's part of what the News called 'attempts to secure favorable news coverage.'"

Robert is not impressed.

For those who wonder what life must be like for a "launch manager," Sonya Moore tells all at GM's FYI Blog.

Jalopnik says "I am Indy: Paddle Me Austin!" Interesting, very interesting.

Dave Leggett notes that the main guy behind Hyundai's rather remarkable surge in recent years is facing a long jail term. Go to for more. One thing about the South Koreans - they play politics for higher stakes than we do here in the states.

Dave Wassmann says think again about those internet ads telling you dealers have too many of Toyota's high-demand Prius on their lots and you, too, can get a great deal. Remember what your daddy told you - if it's too good to be true, then odds are it isn't. See it all MotorAlley.

Jerry Flint is talking about Ford again, so naturally Joe at MyFordDreams2 can't resist the urge to respond.

If your 05 Kia Sedona makes funny noises when you hit a bump or make a right turn, Austin Davis at My Honest Mechanic has some info that will be of interest to you.

Brian at has a solid roundup of previews of the major races this weekend, including Monaco. Can you believe they still run F1 there? I still think of Jim Garner's busted suspension in "Grand Prix" and the sight of the faux Jim Clark's vehicle hurtling into the marina every time somebody mentions Monaco.

Want to know what it's like to almost high-side at the Ring? Sure you do and The Auto Prophet has the clip. Note to the producers: It would be so much better w/o the crappy music that drowns out the real music indicated on the tach.

Joel at The Car Blog is snorting coffee again, thanks to the new Mercedes.

They're still making Lincoln LS V-8 Sports and The Truth About Cars has Sajeev Mehta's thoughts on that fact.

I don't know why either but ya gotta read The View Through the Windshield.

And finally, Julie from Harrisburg wants to know what is "drifting." Louis calls it "a specialized driving technique." Mark from Sykesville calls it "a waste of time and tires."

There I go having the last word again!

Don't forget! Submit your blog article to the next edition of carnival of cars using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Hillary Clinton Calls for Return of Double Nickel

Hard to believe but true. The New York Post has the details. Note the backpeddling even within the graph announcing her new view. Expect more backpeddling to begin soon.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Toyota Aims Yaris at U.S. Gas Crisis

You ever get the feeling the Japanese automakers are really running the world? Decisions like introducing a vehicle to a new market require lead-time. Now Toyota unveils its previously Europe-only Yaris for the U.S. just as gas hits $3 a gallon.

Coincidence? Sure.

Originally introduced in Europe in 1999 and based on the same platform as the now discontinued Echo (which by the say proved that not even Toyota is perfect, thanks to its comic book styling), the second generation Yaris is a smartly styled little sedan that can also be had as a two-door hatchback.

The S sedan has a sophisticated look on the outside and combines it with a fairly spacious and attractive interior. The tires are way out at the corners and the integrated headlights and bumpers are complimented by neat little corner spoilers up front.

There are rocker panels on the sides, too. The greenhouse has an arched look to it and, thanks to the longest wheelbase among econocar entries, the Yaris S sedan actually looks a little bigger than it really is.

The interior continues the other Echo feature I disliked, the center-mounted instrument pod. This is not a good idea, Toyota. Other reviewers call it a distraction. I call it a dumb idea that probably sounded good when first proposed. It takes your eyes off the road too long, even after you’ve grown accustomed to its location.

Otherwise, there are comfortable seats front and back for four adults and the usual tight as a drum feeling one gets in a Toyota. Some of the interior materials remind you that the Yaris is priced as a bargain-basement entry, but even so, the passenger cabin is a pleasant place to be, not at all an econocar penalty box.

Performance is decent, thanks to the 106 horsepower 1.5 liter four cylinder under the hood. The Yaris can be had with either a five-speed stick or an optional four-speed automatic. My automatic tester showed a 9.0 second 0-60 mph time and a fuel economy rating of 34 mpg city and 39 mpg highway.

Toyota is determined to price the Yaris as competitively as possible in order to attract young buyers who will become lifetime customers (that’s the theory anyway). My loaded tester came in at $17,340, which seems a bit stiff. Expect most Yaris customers to be in the $15,000+ range.

Friday, May 19, 2006

CARNIVAL OF CARS: A Drive Around the Auto Blog Block for Friday, May 19, 2006

How does one know if one is living in an automotive golden age? This query has baffled experts for decades but what may well be the definitive answer has been found, which you will find here on the Autoblog site.

And with that important question answered, how about we fire up the cyber muscle car and head out for this week's Carnival of Cars drive around the auto blog block!

First, there is OK, I'm Not Really a Cowboy's comprehensive treatment of the alternative fuels alternatives. Ethanol and new-generation diesels get thumbs up, fuel cells and hydrogen don't. An excellent read all the way through.

Corndog's Flex Fuel Chevy News provides an illustration of free market consistency in rejecting import duties on ethanol produced outside the U.S. I admire consistency - Keynes was as wrong about that as he was about everything else.

I know you've been kept up at night wondering about the true weight of that flat-6 in your Corvair, but West Pundit has what you need - a complete list of the weights of engine-transmission combinations. It's so good, it's even got the figure for that V-12 Pierce-Arrow you've got hidden out behind the barn!

Here's the question: Buy a 2007 now or wait for the 2008? Jeep Guy at I Want a Jeep really wants to know! You don't think this blog could actually be ole Deiter's way of letting his inner Jeep free, do you?

Can you believe the nerve of those Canadian Lotus dealers, charging more for an Elise than their Texas colleagues??? Gary at The Garage Blog has the numbers for all the pocket rockets and finds a few more suprises.

Speaking of advanced diesels - yes, that's one of the topics up at OK, So I'm Not Really a Cowboy - Alex at NoonzWheels has the scoop on Audi's intro of a Piezo-enhanced 2.0 liter TDI. Geez, sounds like some kind of new wrinkle cream for women.

And from our For Your Wallet Only files, NoonzWheels also notes the prospective sale of a certain Lotus driven by Roger Moore in a Bond flick. Frankly, I've never understood the allure of owning a car once driven by a movie star in a movie, but, as Jack Kemp always says, whatever floats your boat.

If you are going to the British International Motor Show, don't make the mistake of thinking there are nothing but Bimmers on display. NoonzWheels also has the details on the massive exhibit being planned by Bavarians.

Now, moving right along ....

And you thought Top Speed only dealt with questions about the proper line through the Nurburing's Flugpatz. Here he addresses the important issue of the true efficacy of certain car care products.

OK, they got to drive it before me. No wonder GM is so friggin' screwed up! Get Lutz on the phone now!!

Where would we get an additional million barrels of oil per day for the TAPS pipeline? Joe Sherlock at The View Through the Windshield knows.

Jay Shoemaker at The Truth About Cars spent some time in the latest hybrid Civic and thinks somebody in the Interior Design Department at Honda set the Way Back machine to 1973.

Women still find buying a new car a hassle, according to a survey Joanne May describes at The Driving Woman. My guess is that so do most men.

Joel at The Car Blog has been watching Suze Orman again. Saving money, too.

Now this is going too far! I mean microprocessors, wife and LEDs in your wheels, come on. I fear The Auto Prophet has been seduced by the dread techno-bling complex.

GM has 19 - count'em, 19 - new powertrain combos next year. Straightline has the details.

What's next for Darlington? has thoughts.

I think I want one of these Naza Bestari Sportivos that Paul Tan spotlights. Sounds like an Alfa on steroids.

If your car just stops while you are driving but then restarts and runs fine after a short wait, My Honest Mechanic has the answer. It's a shame folks like the owner of the Buick Park Avenue that occasioned this query to Austin Davis have to go through such nonsense from dealers to get a straight answer.

Have you changed your driving habits since gas prices skyrocketed? Joe at MyFordDreams2 has and so have folks he knows. He wonders why the mainstream media keeps saying people aren't adjusting.

Not sure what to make of this post at Left Lane News.

Is there really a car for champagne greens? Yes and's Dave Leggett can tell you all about it.

Can you imagine a bunch of Toyota execs in cowboy hats and boots, drainin' brewskis with Hank Jr. and arguing about whether Brett Favre is the NFL's version of Dale Earnhardt? No, me neither but Jalopnik has evidence to the contrary. The world is gettin' weirder and weirder, my friends!

Dorri at If It's Got an Engine explains the recent absence and assures that posting will return in a couple of weeks.

Check out the Lambo wall art at Hot Wheels Blog. We're not just talking artzy pitchers here, either.

There's an automotive angle on the immigration debate and Shouting Thomas at Harleys, Cars, Girls and Guitars has details.

Grant's Rants has everything Hummer H1.

You knew "Engine Charlie" Wilson was misquoted but did you know that he said what he actually said before the Senate Armed Services Committee and that he also said he thought GM was too big? Brian Akre at GM's FYI Blog explains everything.

General Watch has the complete text of the report security did not allow to be distributed during the recent GM shareholders meeting.

And the (carbon fiber) wheels go round and round and round .... Mosler is the first and Gear6 has a neat photo.

Larry Burns at GM Fastlane explains that it simply isn't true to say there is no hydrogen distribution network now. Hmmm, maybe this hydrogen deal isn't just a lot of hot air after all. No, I didn't really say that, did I? Maybe it's time for me to back away from the lap top ....

It was Penske Perfect again at the Brickyard during Pole Day qualifying. Fast Machines' Allen Brewer covers the field.

Carscoop says there will be a new high performance Lotus in 2008.

Doing 126 mph on the George Washington Parkway is not a good way to start your legal career, according to Carpundit.

Autoblog says its curtains for Stratus and Sebring.

Ethanol Boy at Auto Extremist was in Houston for the CART, uh excuse me, the Champ Car weekend with the ALMSers at Reliant Stadium and wasn't impressed. You didn't ask for my opinion on this one, but I'm gonna tell you anyway that I think street circuits here in the states are a joke.

I guess that means I got the last word for this week's edition of Carnival of Cars. Sorry, it won't happen again.

Don't forget! Submit your blog article to the next edition of carnival of cars using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Google Pontiac! Is This the Start of Something Big in Auto Ads?

Jeff Jarvis at The Buzz Machine rarely if ever deals with auto-related topics, but he caught something of great interest on the boob tube recently - a Pontiac spot in which the words "Google Pontiac" appeared briefly on the screen. Go here for Jeff's interesting analysis of the ad from the perspective of an Internet/Blogosphere guru.

Friday, May 12, 2006

CARNIVAL OF CARS: A Drive Around the Auto Blog for Friday, May 12, 2006

Well, well. W started hanging around the CAFE last week and this week a bunch of state legislators were clamoring for reducing their gas tax takes. Must be an election year, right? How 'bout let's put the cyber key in the ignition and get moving before the politicians catch us?

Kevin Connors of Westpundit announced this week his serious desire to help field an entry in the DARPA Urban Grand Challenge for autonomous vehicles. This will be the third such contest and DARPA assures that it has nothing to do with data mining the speed data held in the black boxes of millions of Americanss cars.

Professor Bainbridge talks at length about an insurance company's recent survey of the Top 10 Driving Peeves. Personally I would have swapped the positions of the first two in the list but that's okay. I'm just happy to see more attention being given to this issue.

NoonzWheels thinks Citreon's Le Surf is "surprisingly cool." Who knew Bruce Manx had moved to France? NoonzWheels is also rather enthusiastic about BMW's "gloriously retro" Millie Miglia.

Over at The Garage folks want to know whatever happened to the pocket rocket in America. Somehow I don't think EPA is too worried about that kind of endangered species.

Speaking of the rain forests (is there somebody else in this post I'm not aware of?), Westpundit has a second installment in a series on alternative fuels. Kevin has to rain on the ethanol parade by noting such inconvenient factos as a major reason Brazil is chopping down the rain forest faster than a U.S. senator spends pork barrel maoney is to grow sugar cain for ethanol processing. Go here for the first installment in the series.

The Auto Prophet says be wary, be very wary, of American Petroleum Promotions and its promise of $200 gas cards for $150. Not unlike a Ponzi scheme, according to the Prophet.

Now, moving right along ....

Ethanol Boy at The Auto Extremist goes off on the ALMS Series' latest effort to equalize competition in the GT1 class that has been utterly dominated by Corvette for half a decade. Don't miss the great shot of Mario Vintage 2006 buckling up for a ride around the Speedway in his pole-winning Dean Van Lines Special Vintage 1967. Great overhead shot of the Brawner Hawk in the pits, too, which displays the "bundle of snakes" exhaust on the dual overhead cam Indy Ford V-8 that made the most wonderful sound ever made by any race engine anywhere, better even than the Ferrari V-12 at full song.

Just in case you wondered about the results of that May 11 Ford shareholders vote, The Auto Spectator has the complete result.

Looks like $19 million is the latest going rate to rent a ride in the F1 series, according to The Autoblog. I wonder what Christian Klein thinks about Red Bull Racing now?

Carpundit found a classic beater in Bean Town. And a Theocrat (though not of the automotive sort).

Cars! Cars! Cars! links to a CNN report on SUV Moms and their brewskis. Did I miss something sociologically important somewhere?

Inquiring minds want to know! Will Hyundai ever actually produce and sell the Getz featured at CARSCOOP? First caller with the right answer Getz a prize!

Buddy Rice had a slight accident during Indy practice but Fast Machines reports the Speedway doctor has now cleared him for competition.

Remember J. Edgar Opel? Bob Lutz has thoughts at GM Fastlane on the opening of GM's new design center in Germany.

FosFor Wheels wonders if VW's GX3 is short one wheel or suffering from one too many? What puzzles me is why VW wants to go the Morgan route.

Things were not all goofy at VW this week, however, as Gear6 provides the details of the dual-charged International Engine of the Year,.

GM FYI Blog has Sue Mead's latest report from her mission to the Gulf Coast to help out with recovery efforts there. My sweet wife Claudia, our wonderful daughter Ginny and Claudia's sister Linda "Night Crawler" Randall are headed to Mississippi in a couple of weeks on a similar mission. Sue is with a dozen folks from her church in Massachusetts. Claudia, Ginny and Linda are going with a group from our church, Covenant Baptist in Columbia, Maryland. I would be going, too, but it's difficult to swing a hammer or lift a frame-in wall with a torn tendon.

They've got some great review links over at Hot Wheels Blog!

Want to know how to get a job at DCX hauling old Neons to the dump? Jalopnik has the unfortunate details of how a Dodge Nitro driver may have done something along those lines. Guess we could say his career blew up behind the wheel of that Nitro. No, maybe we better not say that ...'s Dave Leggett has Ben Franklin's advice for dealing with the gas crisis. Here's a sample:

"And beware of false prophets. Green and friendly-sounding bio-diesel is only 5% derived from plants; the other 95% is bog-standard diesel."

Hey, it's all right there in "Poor Richard's Almanack."

Jason Vines has had it with "empty flag waving." Left Lane News provides him with a soapbox to elaborate the point. Interesting piece, yes, but I remember Jason's side-splitting stand-up routines at WAPA meetings.

Dave Wassmann at Motor Alley says to keep an eye out for great Jeep Commander lease deals and incentives:

"Although Jeep has needed a three-row seat vehicle for years now, it's unfortunate that they waited to launch the vehicle in the face of new GM product and $3/gallon gasoline. As noted in one of our previous columns, this vehicle was at least 10 years overdue..."

MyFordDreams2 assures us that his recent paucity of posts is not a result of his being held in the county lockup courtesy of the taxpayers. And thanks for the timely CofC plug, buddy!

Things are getting serious when your 89 LeBaron is leaking oil out the valve cover cap where you put in new Texas T. My Honest Mechanic has some sage advice for the owner.

Paul Tan takes a shot at photoshopping what the new Naza NX-02 will look like. Nice work, Paul.

If you are a biker, you know the value of having eyes in the back of your head. Now there's a way to get them in the back of your helmet, according to Qt Auto News. Now if we can just figure out how to be constantly conspicuous ...

Speaking of bikes, I love my Suzuki 600S Bandit and expect to do the same with my brand new Kawasaki Concours (when this torn tenden heals and I get to ride it!), so choppers don't do much for me. I have to admit, though, Chip Foose has a way with two-wheelers. Check it out at Kind of a two-wheel Chezoom.

Then there's this, uh, Cayenne over at Serious Wheels. This is more proof that Barnum was right about one being born every minute. Or was it Mencken who said that? Guess I'm just a sucker for a good quote.

Boy, you in a heap a trouble if you get stopped by this cop car edition of the Hummer reported by Straightline.

Joel at The Car Blog didn't expect to like the 07 Jaguar XK when he saw it in concept form. Now that it's here in the real-live-world, he's singing a different tune about tradition ad class and all that classic veddy British stuff, you know.

Over at The Truth About Cars, the ever-shy-about-expressing-his-real-opinions Robert Farrago doesn't find much at bold about Ford's most recent product offerings, despite the new slogan.

Drop what you are doing and go to The View Through the Windshield. Scroll to the bottom of the Friday post and take in the bad pun of the day. It will leave you udderly speechless. Me? I could read puns till the cows come home. It's Deja Two when you recall a couple of good ones ...somebody ... please, anybody ... stop me before I pun again!

Judging by The Car Connection's spy shot of the upcoming Dodge Caravan, it looks like Chrysler is getting ready to ruin a good thing.

And that is the last word for this week's edition of Carnival of Cars.

Don't forget! Submit your blog article to the next edition of carnival of cars using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Commander Puts Jeep in Third Row Ranks

Here we have the 2006 Commander, which looks an awful lot like the rough-and-ready Jeep your granddaddy drove back in the days long before fast food became America’s favorite way to spread clogged arteries.

In fact, this all-new Jeep is a whole lot more like the old one than that favorite cheeseburger and fries are like real food. The seven-slot grille and faux exposed-head screws around the fender wells provide the appropriate design cues.

You wouldn’t know it gazing at the Commander’s severely blocky exterior shape that it shares the same platform as Jeep’s perennial favorite, the Grand Cherokee. The two vehicles share lots of mechanicals, but the Commander has a longer wheelbase, which makes it possible to stuff a third row of seats out back. Grand Cherokees only come with two rows of seats.

There are three engine choices, including 235 horsepower 4.7 liter V-8 powering my Deep Beryl Green Pearl/Khaki Graystone tester, a big mountain motor Hemi and a base V-6. A five-speed automatic is the only available transmission, but there are three four-wheel-drive choices.

Inside the Commander are generous accommodations for the first two rows of seats, but that third row is hard to get to and not particularly comfortable. The third row of a Dodge Grand Caravan is far more inviting and useful.

The instrument panel is much like the exterior in featuring lots of straight lines and absolutely upright surfaces. The front seats are nicely padded and there is a pleasantly secure feel to the cabin. I loved the saddle brown leather as it made me want to find a campfire and start telling stories of the Ole West. Well, for a few seconds, it did.

Anyway, on the road, Commander has rather numb steering and a bit of ponderousness to its around-town moves. The 4.7 liter V-8 provides adequate power and typical – i.e. rotten – fuel economy.

That said, however, on the interstate, the Commander is a smooth, quiet operator. The tall greenhouse and stadium seating make the Commander ideal for taking friends and family on a scenic tour of, say, the mountains of far western Maryland at the height of the fall leaf season.

My Commander Limited 4X4 tester was liberally equipped, with just about every option available short of the Hemi. At $41,530, the high-line Commander is a bit pricey, but Jeep fans tend to be extremely loyal. I think they’re gong to like this one.

Tendon Update: Everything Healing Nicely

Some folks have inquired about the tendon surgery from last week. I appreciate very much the concern and especially the prayers!

Everything seems fine so far. I had a solid cast for the first week but for the past week and for the next five weeks I have a hinged brace that allows me to type with both hands. The physical therapy will continue for a month or two thereafter, depending on how quickly the tendon heals.

It's an inconvenience to be sure, but I can take the brace off to shower (a relief to my long-suffering family!) and, since I can't get a dress shirt over it or tie a tie, I still get to wear polo shirts to the newsroom It's gonna be so hard going back to the braces and tie thing!

Anyway, thanks again for the inquiries and prayers.

Didn't Gary Bettenhausen drive Indy cars for several years after a crash left his right arm essentially useless?

Friday, May 05, 2006

CARNIVAL OF CARS: A Drive Around the Auto Blog Block for Friday, May 5, 2006

This has been a prime week for people who have a passion for beautiful, fast cars, especially those that are red, are designed and built in Italy and have a racing heritage that pre-dates even that of Ferrari. Yes, I'm talkin' bout Alfa Romeo, which said it's returning to the U.S. market. But that's just the start, so let's hit the road, shall we?

Would you be interested in a diesel Lexus that gets 38 mpg and definitely is not a slow lane penalty box? NoonzWheels will tell you more about the vehicle unveiled in the U.K. this week.

When was the last time you got to use "pimptastic" and Cadillac launch in the same sentence? NoonzWheels explains that one, too.

If you think there isn't magic in a legendary sports car marque, check out Jack Yoest's explanation of why Chinese automakers use a '58 Vette to promote an auto show.

What's the proper location for the "Oh S--t!" handle in the modern automobile? Silflay Hraka has thoughts on that burning question, as well as the case for Ford coming up with a reality show of its own that allows contestants to design cars. I can see it now: "Oh, John, I'm so sorry but America voted has you and your Retro Edsel off the show. Don't let the door hit your tail on your way out."

Would there be a consolation prize for getting the boot from that show?

Anyway ...

It may have lots of "issues," but 20 minutes behind the wheel of a buddy's 79 Austin Mini put a grin on the face of the proprietor of The Garage.

Okay, that "Bond, James Bond" guy is back and so is his Aston Martin. More from NoonzWheels.

Oh yeah, NoonzWheels also has the scoop on the 500 horsepower King Cobra.

Let's see, that makes five CofC submissions in one week from Mr. Noon. Would somebody please hire this guy to do road tests!?

Now, moving right along ...

Louis Albornoz is the pro racer behind Top Speed and he has some sensible things to say about the younger drivers he often "sees driving like crazy idiots." Must be racing Formula Fords.

The Car Connection has a pre-meeting briefing on the upcoming meeting of auto execs with the Chief Executive in the White House.

Joe Sherlock gazes at The View Through the Windshield at news of Rep. Patrick Kennedy's 3:00 a.m. encounter with a concrete wall and asks these reasonable questions:

"'The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From...' Dept.: Why does the headline Kennedy Car Accident seem so hauntingly familiar? And how come didn't he have to take a Breathalyzer test like the rest of us?"

On average, a Buick dealer sells only eight cars a month. Eight. Not Eighty. Eight. The Truth About Cars' Bob Elton explains why. You know you've lost it when people are openly comparing your product - once famous the world over as the last step before a Cadillac - to Hyundai.

Listen up, guys. Michelle has some tips on how to improve your gas mileage over at The Driving Woman. Hey, she saw a 10% improvement. Can you say the same as you pump that three-bucks-a-gallon refined Texas Tea?

Joel at The Car Blog wonders why reviewers aren't more discriminating when comparing vehicles that share common platforsm, such as the Ford Fusion/Mercury Milan/Lincoln Zephyr trio.

No, no, it's the return of the Double Nickel! The Auto Prophet isn't worried.

Straightline says hybrid registrations doubled last year. I'm not surprised. Are you surprised? I'll tell you who is surprised - all those hybrid buyers who thought they would get better mileage than they're getting, that's who!

Did you know there are German tuners who actually work on something other than Mercs and Bimmers? Serious Wheels has three of them who do Vettes.

What's your take on NASCAR's restrictor plates? wants to know.

I say if it doesn't come that way from the factory, it ain't stock. But that's just my reactionary Stone Age gut reaction to the France Family Money Machine.

I'll shut up now ...

Paul Tan says Toyota says the recent decline in Prius sales reflects production problems, not customer problems.

Austin Davis at My Honest Mechanic has some tips to help figure out if your high insurance rates are because of the company .... or because of the way you drive, you Moron!

Sorry, that wasn't very nice and I apologize to all ...

He may have bought a Mazda3, but MyFordDreams2 absolutely insists that wasn't an act of betrayal because that Zoom-Zoom mobile is really a Blue Oval product.

David Wassman at Motor Alley is a former ad guy and now he's a car guy, so naturally the brewing controversy over the latest round of VW spots caught his eye. His basic point is that great ads don't save sinking ships. Just ask the people who were running American Motors back in the mid-60s.

Got your deposit ready for the return of the Gullwing from Mercedes? Left Lane News has details.

JustAuto's Dave Leggett saw some German nutters in action this week over on the other side of the pond.

Jalopnik is cautiously, very cautiously, optimistic that DCX's Tom LaSorda's speech to the Renewable Fuels Association portends a significant shift in Motown thinking about cars, energy and related issues.

Think your Chrysler 300 is a tad boring to look at the way it came from the factory? Hot Wheels Blog can put you in touch with some aftermarket types who may have exactly what you're looking for in the way of a design pick-me-up.

Now that's just ducky, says Shouting Thomas at Harleys, Cars, Girls and Guitars. He's not real happy with the Cubs offense this week, either.

GM FYI Blog hands the mike to GM's Gustav Hoffman, who promptly announces that he's mad as hell and he's not going to take it any more. Well, Gustav, old buddy, let's talk about Buick.

Gear6 reports that VW isn't sure about the future of the GX3. Hey, I'm not even sure what the GX3 is, much less what it's future ought to be!

Lutz thinks GM has turned a corner and word is getting around that the new products are much, much better. It's a detailed post at GM Fastlane and yes, a lot of it sounds like the usual spin, but there are some hard numbers to back it up. Defintely worth reading.

Fast Machines covered it but why didn't we hear more about this in the MSM?

They're makin' sausage again up on Capitol Hill. Don't Mess With Taxes isn't buying it.

A Chrysler/Chery hookup? Check out CARSCOOP.

They're reading tea leaves from CNN about Lutz and GM over at Cars! Cars! Cars! Drinking coffee out of square mugs and eating Biscotti at the Buick stall, too. My favorite, though, is the shot of Hell Frozen Over, thanks to the Lienerts and the Detroit News.

Peter DeLorenzo at Auto Extremist points to what will save GM in the final analysis:

"No, GM's future lies with its True Believers, the men and women who actually go to work each and every day with one mission in mind - to design, build and produce the best vehicle they can possibly muster."

There are more of those TBs in GM than a lot of critics realize.

And that is the last word for this week's edition of Carnival of Cars.

Don't forget! Submit your blog article to the next edition of carnival of cars using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

WAnt to Talk to a Lexus Executive?

Ever been seized with the need to pick up the telephone and call one of the high poo-bahs in Detroit, Tokyo or Stuttgart? Well, it's not the telephone but has a way to achieve the same thing. It's a live chat with a senior Lexus executive tonight. To join the conversation, go here.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Glenn and Helen Show Interviews Jim Meigs of Popular Mechanics on Alternative Fuels

Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit fame and his wife Helen have recently begun blogcasting their own show featuring segments on a variety of topics of interest to public policy wonks, political activists, think tank operators and even car fanatics like yours truly.

The great thing about the show is that the Reynolds consistently produce quality material and that fact is nowhere better illustrated than the most recent production's interview with Popular Mechanics editor Jim Meigs for a segment on alternative fuels.

BTW, Glenn drives a Mazda RX8 and is quite knowledegable about many aspects of the automotive industry and its issues. Meigs hits all the major issues during the interview and provides some worthwhile analysis of why the political system has such difficulty dealing with alternative fuels.

Go here for the full Glenn and Helen Show (you don't even have to have an iPOD!). Also. you won't want to miss the Popular Mechanics feature on alternative fuels that inspired the Meigs interview. This is one of the most comprehensive and readable pieces I've read anywhere on the topic.