Sunday, April 30, 2006

There is Another, Maybe Not So Great, Side to Ethanol; Is GM Misleading Consumers on E85?


That is the case presented by Ed Wallace in Business Week Online. This is a very disturbing article. I've recently expressed enthusiasm for E85 but this article claims:

* Ethanol requires more energy to produce per gallon than is released when that gallon is combusted.

* Ethanol increases VOC emissions and would thus likely lead to more smog in the cities during the summer driving season.

* Ethanol lowers fuel efficiency by as much as 25-40 percent and thus will significantly increase the cost of driving.

If these claims are true, E85 is not a good deal. But I am sure ethanol advocates have answers to these criticisms and I want to hear them. I'd alsolike to hear GM's response.

UPDATE: Corndog Has His Say

As I suspected, Corndog over in Virginny wasted no time responding to the Ed Wallace article. Here's his post. Read it carefully and then post your reaction here in the comment section.








Friday, April 28, 2006

CARNIVAL OF CARS: A Drive Around the Auto Blog Block for Friday, April 28, 2006


Hey, a veritable tsunami of Carnival of Cars submissions came in this week, so let's get this hoopy on the road, shall we?

Shouting Thomas at Harleys, Cars, Girls and Guitars was out on his regular reconaissance run and came across Willow Automotive Service in tiny Willow, New York. Lots of interesting restoration jobs there, including a 1940 Rolls, a 55 T-Bird and a "Wal-Mart" chopper.

Ever wonder how being a law professor stacks up on commuting time compared to other professions? Well, me neither, but then I am a journo, not a briefs geek, but the folks at Workplace Prof Blog did and the results may surprise you. Or not.

Speaking of profs, the good Dr. Stephen Bainbridge wonders if your typical Crunchy Con buys a Prius.

If $3 a gallon gas has you wondering about the tax implications of buying a hybrid, Don't Mess With Taxes has an excellent rundown of what's what and why.

Do you know about Lightning McQueen? No, it has nothing to do with Bullit or barb-wire jumping motorcycles to make the great escape. The Garage Blog tells all about ... well, just go read about a trip to the mall.

Corndog says GM's long involvement in drag racing has played a role in the General's gaining an ethanol edge. It has to do with measuring alcohol content and Corndog's Flexfuel Chevy News has the story.

Brian at Racedriven partook of the racing nightlife at Phoenix and survived to file a report.

Inside Line took a Jeep Commander loaded with stuff for a long day of off-roading and came away mildly impressed.

The Driving Woman has everything you ever wanted to know about "chick cars" and "guy cars." Does this have anything to do with that Metrosexual stuff Bainbridge is talking about?

Cruise control - It actually saves gas. Hey , it's in Strategies for Smart Car Buyers, so it must be true. And who doesn't want to be a smart buyer?

Edmunds editor Karl Brauer reminds in Karl on Cars that it's time for you to cast your ballot for Consumers Most Wanted Cars. BTW, thanks, Karl, for a bunch of great auto blogs - Edmunds is doing it right.

If your 2007 Camry tranny is doing, uh, odd things in second and sixth gears, you need to read this tidbit from Straightline.

Now, moving right along ...

Is NASCAR nation one big honking fraud on the motorsports fan? They actually talk about such heresies without pulling the shades down at The Auto Extremist and their Road Kill columnist, Dr. Bud Bryan, has a lot to say about what he thinks Detroit should tell the France family conglomerate.

GM, DCX and BMW claim lots of progress in their joint hybrid powertrain development venture. The Auto Spectator has the news release with the details and the spin.

If you ever wondered how a BMW Z4 is made, Autoblog links to a TGIF feature just for you.

Do you know who Reed Hillman is? Car Pundit does and also why the guy may well be the most honest man in Massachusetts politics. He knows writing lots of speeding tickets doesn't do diddly for traffic safety. That's almost enough to make this barely reconstructed Rebel move to Yankeeland just vote for the guy!

The folks at Cars! Cars! Cars! are not, shall we say, impressed with the performance of certain of our congressional leaders this week.

There is a new 355 horsepower 4.2 lier V-8 lurking around the Audi stable now. CARSCOOP can tell you all about it.

Maybe the Prancing Horse boys are back on form. Fast Machines takes a look at Michael's return to the top of the F1 podium at San Marino.

Lots of other fabled automakers have done it in various ways in years past, so why not Maserati? Check it out at Gear6.

Melisa Tezanos at GM FYI Blog is calling all Silverado owners who have turned over the odometer twice or more. Bet you can guess what's next on this one.

Over at Grant's Auto Rants, they are ... ranting, of course, and this time around they want to know whatever happened to Joe Isuzu. I always thought he bought it on a lightning bolt after telling one too many fibs.

Somethin' new up at Hot Wheels Blog.

Toyota is spreading around some serious money in NASCAR. That's putting some grins on lots of crew members with non-Toyota teams, too, according to Jalopnik.

Just-Auto's Dave Leggett is suffering through a JD Power conference in Europe. Oh, the humanity!

An "entry level" Ferrari? Riiiiight! And then there will be the Rolls Econolux hatchback. And the Yugo Presidential Limosine. Check it out at Left Lane News.

So this guy's battery cable melts, you see, and next thing he knows the in-car clock won't even run! Austin Davis at My Honest Mechanic has the rest of this 94 Cougar nightmare.

Paul Tan says Proton and Lotus have a new low-end design in the works.

Your search for Aston Martin DB9 wallpaper is over, thanks to Serious Wheels.

True, it's about The Auto Prophet's review of the Dell DJ Ditty, which is not available at your local auto parts collective, but the conversation with the techie dude in India is priceless.

Joel at the Car Blog has been bitten by the bike bug. Guess who is none too happy about that!?! I know exactly what you mean, buddy.

The Truth About Cars' Jonny Lieberman thinks Honda's new Fit is a good fit for the times.

Joe Sherlock describes Santa Cruz as "a town full of burnt-out hippies, assorted wackos and Princess Moonbeams. But the place has a great roller coaster." Check out The View Through the Windshield to find out why Joe is also not real hep on Hamas, Gov. Christine Gregoire's state trooper protection unit and Hassan Abassi's geo-political speculations.

Why does New York have so many bad drivers? Top Speed explains it all.

And that ladies and gentlemen is the last stop on this week's Carnival of Cars Drive Around the Auto Blogs Block. See ya next week!

By the way, I'm doing some housecleaning on the blogroll later today, so if you notice some blogs missing, it will be because they've not been updated in a long time.

By the way II: This entire drive was produced using only my left hand in the "hunt'n peck" typing technique. It's not by my choice, believe me!

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, April 27, 2006

Behind the Wheel Review: BMW 760Li


If you’ve got a spare $127,590 lying around and it’s time to update the machinery in the space marked “Ultimate Luxury Sedans Only” in your garage, you should check out the 2006 BMW 760Li.

This is a, if not the, leading candidate for such a renowned title, even with the explosion of new models at Mercedes Benz, the latest offerings of Lexus and Infiniti, and renewed energy in places like Bentley.

Long-time readers may be a bit puzzled by that last statement, as I have not been kind to the big Bimmer in recent years, thanks almost entirely to the iDrive computer nonsense in the passenger cabin and Chris Bangle styling on the outside, especially at the back end with its pronounced “bustle.”

I was far from being alone in my disenchantment with BMW over these matters, and we see with the 2006 model some healthy changes that almost certainly are the direct result of the widespread criticism.

Most notable in this regard are the revised exterior panels, beginning up front where the Seven Series gets a more sharply sloped hood and a new fascia that looks both more aggressive and simpler.

The mid-section of the Seven Series seems ever so slightly longer, thanks to revised rocker panels, and that makes the whole car look less bulky from several angles. The mid-section appearance is also aided somewhat by the more sharply creased-inward angle of the rear fenders behind the wheels.

There are changes to the tail as well, with the tail lamps being wider and now stretching across into the trunk lid. That bustle butt is still there at the rear end, however, the changes make for a less pronounced Banglization.

My Kalahari Beige Metallic 760Li was powered by the ultimate Bimmer motor, the 6.0 liter DOHC V-12 that produces a rousing 438 horsepower and flings the big sedan from zero to 60 mph in a touch over five seconds.

Inside the Bimmer is a passenger cabin that could easily be mistaken for a super-exclusive English club, thanks to the lavish appointments and the incredible quietness, even on the road.

I still think the iDrive is a plague on western civilization and ought to be tossed out in the middle of the North Sea, but the rest of the Seven Series cabin is simply, unquestionably, totally wonderful.

Dynamically, it’s all here, too, as BMW endows its biggest sedan with every possible technological feature aimed at keeping you safe, swift and serene. Yes, yes, it is awfully expensive, but if I had that kind of money, I’d think it over about two nanoseconds before signing on the dotted line.

After all, don’t want to keep that parking space vacant too long, right!






Tuesday, April 25, 2006

GM Adds New FYI Blog to Cyber Stable

One thing appears certain about the General, the folks there seem to understand blogs better than any other automaker. First it was the Fastlane Blog. Now its GM FYI Blog. GM Communications New Media Director Michael Wiley and the GM executives giving him freedom to develop these blogs deserve plaudits for moving forward.

Here's what they promise with the new effort:

"The FYI Blog will highlight the positive developments that occur at GM on a daily basis, though we won't shy away from controversy. Things that most of us would otherwise never hear about.

"Whereas the FastLane Blog usually gets new entries once or twice a week, the FYI blog aspires to be much more active. Expect to see at least a daily post, written by people throughout the organization.

"Here are the categories of information that the blog will feature:

* Cool Stuff - Stories about innovations; product, technology, facilities and manufacturing
* Our People - Profiles of GM employees and their unique jobs, careers, etc.
* News - Good News stories, including items that you may otherwise never hear about
* Opinions - GM op/ed pieces intended to shed light on issues in the news
* Guest Voices - Blog entries written by third parties who are not GM employees"


Sounds like a more venturesome effort. Go here for the GM FYI blog.

If 8 of 10 Accidents Involve Distracted Drivers, Not Speeding Drivers ....Why Keep the Speed Traps?

Auto bloggers and everybody else who drives should give careful thought to the implications of that joint traffic safety research project between the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Virignia Tech Transportation Institute announced last week.

Why? Consider the lead sentence of NHTSA's official release on the study:
"Driver inattention is the leading factor in most crashes and near-crashes."

Wait a minute, what about speed? Haven't we been told for decades that speed is the biggest cause of traffic accidents? Law enforcement and elected officials, insurance industry executives and traffic safety ideologues like Joan Claybrook have been drilling into the public consciousness for decades that "speed kills."

So now we find out it's distracted drivers, not speeding drivers, who are the leading factor in traffic accidents? Can it really be that somebody in government is actually looking at the real world on the road and seeing through the conventional wisdom about speed?

Apparently so.

"This important research illustrates the potentially dire consequences that can occur while driving distracted or drowsy. It's crucial that drivers always be alert when on the road," said Jacqueline Glassman, acting administrator of NHTSA.

NHTSA said the 100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study tracked the behavior of the drivers of 100 vehicles equipped with video and sensor devices for more than one year. During that time, the vehicles were driven nearly 2,000,000 miles, yielding 42,300 hours of data. The 241 drivers of the vehicles were involved in 82 crashes, 761 near crashes, and 8,295 critical incidents.

"The huge database developed through this breakthrough study is enormously valuable in helping us to understand - and prevent - motor vehicle crashes," said Dr. Tom Dingus, director of VTTI.

Among the key findings of the NHTSA/VTTI study were these:

* Drowsiness is a significant problem that increases a driver’s risk of a crash or near-crash by at least a factor of four. But drowsy driving may be significantly under-reported in police crash investigations.

* The most common distraction for drivers is the use of cell phones. However, the number of crashes and near-crashes attributable to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening. Dialing is more dangerous but occurs less often than talking or listening.

* Reaching for a moving object increased the risk of a crash or near-crash by 9 times; looking at an external object by 3.7 times; reading by 3 times; applying makeup by 3 times; dialing a hand-held device (typically a cell phone) by almost 3 times; and talking or listening on a hand-held device by 1.3 times.

* Drivers who engage frequently in distracting activities are more likely to be involved in an inattention-related crash or near-crash. However, drivers are often unable to predict when it is safe to look away from the road to multi-task because the situation can change abruptly leaving the driver no time to react even when looking away from the forward roadway for only a brief time.

This is big news, folks! Now it's time for a thorough and fearless re-examination of the basic priorities that govern traffic safety and law enforcement, the kind of driving behaviors rewarded and penalized by the insurance industry and, perhaps most important, the way automakers design interiors and driving controls.

Go here for the NHTSA/VTTI study details.

And go here for an editorial in The Washington Examiner that opens the discussion about the needed changes called for by the study in law enforcement, insurance and auto design.







Friday, April 21, 2006

CARNIVAL OF CARS: A Drive Around the Auto Blog Block for Friday, April 21, 2006


This week may prove to be the week that was in the automotive world, thanks to release of that new study that demonstrates distracted drivers - NOT SPEED - are the main cause of traffic accidents. Now if we can just get that message to the gendarmes sitting beside roads everywhere just waiting to extract a contribution from your wallet to the local treasury!

But anyway, it's time to fire up the old cyber buggy and head out for this week's drive around the auto blog block and see what we see, so shall we? BTW, instead of a radar detector, we use a BS detector on this road trip.

Want to see the Camaro Concept in action? NoonzWheels has lots of photos and a video clip of the coming Chevy musclecar in action at the New York Auto Show. Alex likes the look and the sound of it.

And speaking of the NYAS, Brian from Racedriven has some additional thoughts and observations on what he saw at the Javits Center.

Now, moving right along ...

Audi is developing a compact SUV that, judging from the spy shots in TheCarConnection, looks an awful lot like a Dodge Calibre. Or is it just my imagination?

When Joe Sherlock scans The View Through the Windshield, among other things he sees in the newest Honda Civic the 21st Century's pop auto culture icon, just like the 66 Mustang was for the 20th Century. I'm not sure I agree that the Civic will reach that status, but it's an interestng topic of discussion.

Any other suggestions? Ford Explorer maybe? Toyota Prius? The last car GM makes before bankruptcy?

Ohhhkay, moving right along ...

Agree or disagree with him, you have to admit there are few word merchants as lucid or expressive as The Truth About Cars' Robert Farago. He's got Rick Wagoner in his sights this week and it's not pretty. Superbly written, but not pretty.

Michelle at The Driving Woman fell victim to three Chips hiding amongst parked cars on the Pacific Coast Highway. She was doing 64 mph at a point where the speed limit drops from 55 mph to 45 mph. Can you believe that! I mean how could she!!! Think of the threat to public safety Michelle represented at that moment!!!! No matter that the guy she passed as he was weaving around talking on his cell phone represented a greater danger, but .... oh, don't get me started again.

Joel at The Car Blog isn't happy with some of the recommendations he finds for teen cars.

Got indigestion from those high gas prices? The Auto Prophet links to a solid piece of reporting on what's really behind the high-velocity vertical climb of the price-per-barrel.

Straightline has the bad vibes for the Pontiac Vibe AWD and GT. Frankly, I never understood the rationale for a Pontiac Toyota - or Toyota Pontiac - in the first place.

Qt Auto News has a milestone for Insurance.com. Anybody out there familiar with that web site or had dealings with it?

No, the Naza NX-01 isn't for sale here in the states, but you should know what Paul Tan has to say about its launch "over there" in Malaysia anyway because you never know - when gas hits $4 a gallon here, we may all be looking for Nazas.

Joe at My Ford Dreams has an excellent look at the goofy approach Ford too often takes on where it sells its' best products from international platforms. I agree - why isn't that aggressive Focus three-door sold here?

Left Lane News says Hamann is "pimping" the M5, again.

Kevin Connors at Westpundit thinks the world has, finally, outgrown the China Syndrome syndrome. That could be good news for energy consumers, if true.

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.





Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Crashed Ferrari Enzo Story Gets Wierder by the Day

Remember earlier this year when a gorgeous red Ferrari Enzo was shredded along a California coastal highway as a result of an unscheduled contact with a telephone poll after being timed by the local gendarmes at 160+ mph?

The driver allegedly ran from the scene after the crash destroyed the Enzo, according to the guy police found standing calmly next to the shattered center section of the Enzo. "Me, oh, I was just a passenger," he said.

Well, this story has gotten much, much stranger. In fact, it probably is not possible to be any stranger than this one. The Washington Post has a superb story that brings all the wierdness together in one place. Check it out here.

Friday, April 14, 2006

CARNIVAL OF CARS: A Drive Around the Auto Blog Block for Friday, April 14, 2006


Yes, there was that big deal show up in New Yawk this week, but I'm guessing we will find lots of other interesting stuff all around the auto blogs if we just look, so let's get moving:

Can blogs help put a stop to car thievery? StolenCarReports Blog is an attempt to find out.

Scuderi Group's Air Hybrid Blog looks rather interesting.

Betcha Chevy is thankful that's not a "Before and After" piece on the SSR over at Harleys, Cars, Girls & Guitars. Also, don't miss Shouting Thomas' post on the Manhattan gas station.

Did you know there was actually an April Fool's Day prank based on a Mini (the two-wheel kind, not the car)? They've got the details at The Garage. I think this qualifies as a creative approach to viral marketing.

And all you Seinfeld fanatics think Kramer was the first famous Cosmo! WestPundit has a real Topper of a story.

Karl on Cars hopped into the new Mercedes Benz GL450 and was surprised by the comparison with the new full-size SUVs from the General. By the way, Karl, you nail it on the buttons in the Benz.

Meanwhile, Phil Reed at Strategies for Smart Car Buyers was in the Mile High City recently and spent some quality time behind the wheel of a Jetta that runs on biomass. His Daddy has some interesting stuff going on in the biomass arena as well.

Acura took the wraps off its MD-X concept in New York this week and The Driving Woman's Erin had an interesting conversation with Frank Paluch, the chief engineer on the vehicle.

Oh, you want more info on the New York Auto Show? Check out Straightline's video offering.

And don't miss Noonzwheels' comprehensive report on the latest Lexus hybrid.

Now, moving right along ...

Did a Chrysler executive really say those bad things about the nice people in the petroleum industry? Alternative Fuel Universe has the details.

Who said this:

"A really well made car, like a really well made wine, is a work of art. A thing of beauty that appeals to all of one’s senses. And, unlike a painting or a photograph, it also has substantial utilitarian value. You can get some where, while also pleasing your aesthetic side."

No, it wasn't the rest of the quote from Kipling when he compared the relative values of a cigar and a woman. Check out the interview with Prof. Stephen Bainbridge at The Auto Muse.

The Auto Spectator has lots of info on the new "California Special" edition of the Mustang GT. (Ed. Note to TAS: Those ads that interrupt going to the full story are reaaaaalllllly irritating.)

Not everything beautiful and exotic at the New Yawk show has four wheels, as evidenced by the presence of Suzuki's Stratosphere concept motorcycle. Some of the Autoblog folks who saw it were "aroused."

Great roundup at Cars! Cars! Cars! of everything to be seen at the New Yawk doings. Also here.

Nissan does make a Navarra "Monster Truck." If you don't believe me, check this out from Carscoop.

Fast Machine's Scott Keller was at the Long Beach GP and saw evidence of a newly healthy Champ Car Series. That's great news, but why the continuing talks with the guy from the dark side over at IMS?

If you wondered why there has been a paucity of Lutz posts at GM's FastLane Blog, he's posted an explanation.

The world now has a four-door Jeep Wrangler and Gear6 was there for the intro.

Some very serious questions about GM and the UAW are posed by Buickman at General Watch. These are questions that demand answers. Where is The Detroit Free Press? The Wall Street Journal? For that matter, how about Automotive News?

Dorri at If It's Got An Engine ... looks at a five-cylinder radial that makes four horsepower at 8,000 rpm and weighs less than six pounds. Do the RC people have something to teach automakers about packaging and combustion efficiency?

DCX is crowing about hot sales in Asia and ramping up to build 300s over there, according to Jalopnik. But the actual numbers are a bit deceiving.

Did you catch the Spyker in Basic Instinct 2? No, I didn't go see it, either, but JustAuto's Dave Leggett has some saucy observations about remakes and rejects.

Also rounding up the New Yawk stuff is LeftLane News.

Dave Wassman at Motor Alley does an excellent job of adding up the plusses and minuses for GM's Rick Wagoner. It's a comprehensive assessment but not a lot of grounds for optimism.

Joe at MyFordDreams2 was mostly pleased with what he saw at New Yawk and promises a full report in a day or so.

So you mistakenly poured the motor oil into the radiator, right? Time to panic? Curse a blue streak? Dig a hole and crawl into it? Nah, says, My Honest Mechanic's Austin Davis.

Paul Tan says Pininfarina designed the China Brilliance Auto's Zhonghua Junjie. It does look good but the name has got to change.

Anybody else remember the 80s Beta of Nurburgring from the cockpit as Derek Bell hustled a Porsche 956 around on what was claimed to be the fourth fastest lap ever turned there? Well, The Auto Prophet found a new clip of a lap around the place that clearly is not Bell at the wheel but is nevertheless worth watchin.

The Truth About Cars' Michael Karesh was just a little skeptical before driving the Saturn Sky that GM could build a real sports car - you know, something light, lithe and lovely - but he's a little more positive after the experience.

Do you recall what P.J. O'Rourke called Porsche? Joe Sherlock at The View Throught the Windshield does. He's got some thoughts on the next Prius and rumors that it will get 90+ mpg and outperform the current generation, too.

Can you believe it, we are actually at the end of our drive for this week. In case you are wondering why Carnival of Cars is late this week, it's due to my tearing a tendon in my right elbow last weekend, starting a new job Monday and finding Blogger not particularly cooperative with my attempts to post last night or this morning. Sorry about the delays.

And 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.





Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Extreme Pain is .... Extremely Painful!

It was my last day before starting the new job at The Washington Examiner. Had a great time at Discovery Hour and during the worship service at church earlier in the day. First ride on the new Kawasaki Concours.

Crisp spring day, me and the bike agree right from the start. Just a perfect Sunday afternoon.

Then it happened. I stopped at my usual mid-point on the ride to drink a coke, collect my thoughts about the new bike and enjoy the day. The Concours is a bigger, more powerful sport/tourer, compared to the 600S Bandit I've been riding for a couple of years.

I go to put the Concours up on its centerstand and, being unaccustomed to its weight, I get out of rythm in the effort. The Concours is coming down while my right arm is trying to wrench the bike up on the centerstand.

Bad move. Very bad move.

Pow! Pow! Pow! Followed by extreme pain and the realization that something completely unexpected just ruined a perfect day. Claudia and Ted Grainger, a neighbor who also rides, grab a trailor and come collect me and the Concours. It goes home. I go to the emergency room.

Turns out the doc on ER duty is a biker, too, (owns an old Norton, a new Triumph and some classic Hondas), so he immediately understands the motion I describe. Takes a look at the x-rays and says he can't be sure without an MRI but it looks like one or two tendons connecting my right bicep to the bone have been pulled loose.

No wonder it hurts so bad!!! The Doc and a nurse sling my arm in fiberglass and send me off with instructions to see my orthopedic doc ASAP.

A fitful night of sleep follows and I get up bright and early, dress with great difficulty and head to downtown D.C. and day one at the Examiner. Everybody is concerned, helpful and understanding. And perhaps wondering why a 55-year-old guy was fiddling with a motorcycle, but that's another story.

Got in to see the orthopedic specialist in Baltimore in the afternoon and he thinks maybe neither of the tendons are fully severed, but he won't know for sure until he sees an MRI. That can't be done for a day or two (thanks to the insurance bureaucrats), so no definite conclusions yet.

In the meantime, I'm learning to bang out editorials with one hand. Happens to be my left arm. Does that make me a temporary Leftie?

Friday, April 07, 2006

CARNIVAL OF CARS: A Drive Around the Auto Blog Block for Friday, April 7, 2006


Things may be going to Hades on the balance sheet at GM but this was the week Gangrious Motors put the final touches on its first "autotainment" center in Las Vegas.

If that news isn't exciting enough, let's head out for this week's Carnival of Cars and see what we find, shall we?

Battling insomnia, The Auto Prophet took a look at Ford's most recent sales numbers and wondered whether anybody in Dearborn is awake for the approaching "slow motion train wreck." Could there be a connection between that nightmare and this?

Shouting Thomas of Harleys, Cars, Girls and Guitars has also been on the dark side of the auto universe this week.

A new CofC entry this week comes from OK, so I'm not really a cowboy, who loves his brand new Mustang GT. No, I mean he really loves that car. But he does have some suggestions for Dearborn on how it could have been improved during the birthing.

BTW, I really am a cowboy because I gradjeeated from here.

Also new to C0fC this week is The Garage where you will find some quiet thoughts about the death of Paul Dana.

There aren't many cowboys over in Lynchburg, but that doesn't keep Corndog's Flex Fuel Chevy News from being enthused about GM sales, at least at his dealership.

Another new CofC entry this week comes from Kevin Connors at The Daily Brief. He surveys the hydrogen car scene and concludes much of the optimism in that corner is unwarranted: "... any way you get it requires so much more energy than gasoline, or any other fossil fuel, that it simply is not economical."

Dorri at If it's got an engine ... would like to drive the double nickel ... if somebody up ahead in the left lane would just speed up!!!!! I know the feeling, friend.

Now, moving right along ...

Did you know the automobile has just about exhausted all of its potential development? Neither did Joe Sherlock at The View Through the Windshield. Lesson? Never trust the experts, he says. And he's got examples.

Looking at a Honda CR-V? So was The Truth About Cars' Rob Schweitzer and he liked what he saw.

The Driving Woman sat down for a chat with the lone woman competing in Pro Stock, Erica Enders who got all the way to the Gatornationals final with her Chevy Cobalt before losing. Interesting interview offers evidence we will be hearing much more from Erica in the days ahead.

Joel at The Car Blog doesn't have much patience left for folks who post inane questions in automotive forums. And, no, he's not really seriously considering putting those dub twos on his Miata.

Straightline quotes a Ford official who admits a redesign is in the works because they were a bit too conservative with the 500. As "Tater Salad" might say: "Ya think???"

Let's see now, the 2007 Audi TT has been out for how long? Serious Wheels already has some serious shots.

Speaking of Tater, My Honest Mechanic's Austin Davis has a correspondent with a mechanic who wuz wrong. Don't worry, if you don't enjoy this, the "wuz wrong" reference won't make any sense at all.

MyFordDreams2 doesn't sound like he will be eying that slightly used Mustang rag top much longer. And that is, as he says, a "friggin' shame" cuz he's like, you know, a Ford guy.

Then there is this from Wizbang on the Ford front. I don't think this is what was meant when critics said quality had to become a burning issue for Detroit or the imports would take over.

Dave at MPH Blog is in Day 4 of the Ethanol Hunt. Where's ADM when you need them, right?

If you are the person who put the first ding in Wassman's S4, I would stay completely away from MotorAlley if I were you.

Curious about that new TT's price? Left Lane News has what you are seeking here.

A quick-with-the-shutter Jalopnik reader found proof that GM wasn't the only Detroit automaker up to something in Vegas. Remember when Ol' Shel was hanging around Hertz?

Have you had your mufflerscopy this year? The doctor at Grant's Auto Rants will see you now.

Gear6 thinks it's time to discover the Tundra's new web site.

Fastlane Blog has the scoop on the Cadillac BLS and its European debut. And don't miss your chance to be on Chevyapprentice.com! I think Chevy deserves credit for doing that project even though they knew some anti-SUVers would take advantage of the opportunity.

OK, who is the dim bulb marketing genius who came up with the idea of switching Marty Reid from NHRA coverage on ESPN to the IRL, with Paul "The Voice of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Network" Page heading to the quarter mile? FastMachines wants to know.

I am curious about that one, myself. I remember Page when he was Sid Collins' guy in Turn One at Indy.

Betcha wouldn't mind dropping your Subie WRX's 0-60 mph time from five seconds flat to 4.8. Carscoop tells you all about a couple of new ProDrive "enhancements."

I don't know ... crossing an Audi with a Bimmer. Wouldn't that be kinda like marrying your first cousin? Carpundit says ... ah, stop smirking and just go read it, okay?

And finally for this week ...

Alternative Fuel Universe has a photo of an actual bio-diesel home production unit. Next week's exclusive: "The Fish Carburetor Finally Exposed! It's Real!!"

Okay folks, we've reach the end. See ya next week.

And 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.





Tuesday, April 04, 2006

NEW IN REVIEW: Three Series Bimmer Better Than Ever


Of the approximately one million vehicles BMW will sell worldwide in 2006, about 600,000 of them will be variations on the Three Series compact sports sedan that is now into its fifth generation. This is truly the car that made BMW.

It’s had some stumbles along the way – remember the 320i?- but this is the quick, agile grin-maker that first taught Americans that driving fun did not always require eight cylinders and two tons of Detroit iron.

For 2006, the 330i is, like the rest of the Three Series lineup, on a new platform and features the latest and greatest edition of that greatest gift of German engineering to the world, the BMW straight six.

The Three Series is a little longer and wider and there is 150 pounds more on the scales than the previous 330i, but you hardly notice it, thanks to improvements under the hood and throughout the key parts that interact with driver and road.

The 3.0-liter DOHC six is good for 255 horsepower but along with the increased power comes better fuel economy, especially on the highway, thanks largely to a new three-stage induction system and application of the Valvetronic system first seen on the Seven Series.

My Arctic Metallic tester was also equipped with the six-speed stick shift transmission and everything about the 330i seemed livelier than the 2005 model. Acceleration was definitely improved with six-second 0-60 mph times being routine.

But the 330i’s jump off of corners and throttle response in passing situations seems much sharper as well, and the revised double-pivot front suspension and five-link setup in back, along with the 18-inch wheel/tire combination that put a lot of rubber on the road resulted in an extremely fast sedan, regardless of road direction.

The thing I like best about the Three Series is that it looks the least like the Seven Series, with the Banglized rear deck. The 330i still looks very much like a Three Series is supposed to look.
Oh yes, my tester also was without the iDrive horror, which is thankfully an option in the Three Series.

Elsewhere, the interior has a very businesslike steering wheel with a thick rim and thumb grabs in just the right places. The basic stereo and environmental functions are fairly easy to decipher and the front passengers get more than sufficient room to make a long trip quite an enjoyable experience. Rear seaters aren’t quite so fortunate.

The 330i is on the pricey side of the Three Series equation, with my tester bottom-lining in excess of $46,000. There are thousands of folks who won’t even think twice about paying that amount for a 330i and I cannot say that I blame them.