All the fun of the fair as SEMA puts on the muscle



The 2014 SEMA show was a very good one for American muscle, with cars like the Ford Mustang King Cobra and the revival of the famous Yenko Camaro. But the SEMA Muscle Crown, if there is such a thing, goes to a car named “Recoil.” It’s a 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle with 980 horsepower and an interior that’s ready for combat. This bad boy is the brainchild of the vehicular craftsmen at Ringbrothers, and they say it’s more than just a sick burnout machine: it’s a “street capable track car.”


Power comes from a Whipple-supercharged Wegner Motorsports LS7 equipped with parts like a Holley fuel injection system, an Aeromotive fuel cell and pump and Flowmaster mufflers. It’s all bolted to a reworked Tremec T56 Magnum transmission.

So, 980 horsepower? That’s all well and good. But even better is the interior, which was hand-fabricated and features five-point racing harness seats, a Racepak gauge cluster, and carbon fibre basically everywhere. The Ringbrothers say the cockpit of a fighter aircraft inspired the inside. Legally speaking, we do believe Recoil qualifies as a weapon of mass destruction it at least a few countries. Cars don’t get much more badass than this.



At last we now know what the mysterious King Cobra Mustang is. It’s a plethora of Ford Racing parts’ packages that when combined make the new pony car very powerful and very fast. This particular car comes loaded with a Drag Pack, Handling Pack and Super Pack supercharger kit.

Equipped with a 2.3-liter TVS/Roush supercharger, the 5.0L V8 gets more than 600 horsepower. And when it has drag radials, it can run the quarter mile in 10.97 seconds. Other tweaks from the three packages include heavy-duty half shafts, a rear sub-frame kit with high-performance bushings, and a one-inch lower ride height due to a revised suspension, a stabilizer bar, high-flow fuel injectors, an intercooler, and a retuned ECU.

That makes it, what, 20 times faster than the 1978 King Cobra, or something like that. As for the body, that’s a snakeskin wrap from 3M, after all, it’s not a King Cobra unless it’s garish as hell.



Courtesy: Jalopnik





A week in the life of alternative power

Our mates at Green Car Reports have a site packed with developments in alternative fuelled vehicles and during the past week they’ve looked at long-distance riding on electric motorcycles, specifically a Southern California biker group that regularly rides a dozen or more electric bikes through the curving canyon roads. You might call them the biker gang you’ll never hear coming.

The big story was the styling of the all-new 2016 Chevy Volt range-extended electric car, which we got another peak at, along with more details of updates to its charging system.

They opened the week by noting that discounts had risen on Tesla Model S loaner cars that the company is replacing with updated version–if you’re in the market for an electric luxury sedan at a slightly higher discount.

During the middle of the week, it was all about this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show, and a whole slew of new small cars and crossovers introduced there. They covered no fewer than three new subcompact crossovers: the Honda HR-V, and Mazda CX-3, and the Fiat 500X, launched with some memorable TV ads too.

Then there was the new Scion iM Concept hatchback, which previews a production model coming next spring. And the Audi A7 Quattro HyMotion concept, an all-wheel-drive luxury sport hatchback, turns out to be a plug-in hybrid powered by a hydrogen fuel cell rather than a combustion engine.

On the Unexpected News front, it seems that the Coda Sedan electric car may have returned from the dead, in the form of what’s now called the Mullen 700e. We’ll believe it when we see it. They then published photos of the 2016 Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car that will go on sale next year, in limited numbers, in Southern California. It will sell for $57,500, or you can lease it for $499 a month. There were more details on the Honda FCV Concept, that company’s five-passenger hydrogen fuel-cell powered vehicle, now slated to go on sale in 2016.

Finally, we noted that the innovative BMW i3 electric car, (that has just arrived in Australia) is selling very slowly in Germany and wondered if the vehicle will maintain its impressive sales pace in the US.

Holden launches customer council and VIP program


Holden has launched a new program that it claims recognises brand loyalty and creates direct feedback between the company and its customers. The first meeting of Customer Council and VIP experience, the only program of its kind in the Australian automotive industry, was held last week when representatives of the company’s 230-strong dealer network met to identify Holden customers to participate in the program.

As a result, ten customers, from across metropolitan and regional Australia, were flown to Melbourne for an exclusive Holden experience that include a tour and driving program at Lang Lang proving ground and a behind-the-scenes tour of Holden’s Design Centre.

image116873_bAccording to Holden’s Michael Filazzola, the Customer Council was not only a means to thank loyal Holden customers but also, critically, to facilitate direct feedback on Holden’s products and customer service.

“We held a question and answer session where we had an honest and detailed discussion about our products, customer service and plans for the future.

“A number of areas were identified in which we can, and will, act on, including streamlining the servicing experience and greater use of technology to aid convenience.”

Gerard Porta, from South Australia (below left) has purchased more than 30 new Holdens and described the gathering as an unique experience with the rewarding opportunity to provide feedback and help shape the future of the company.

“It was just a fantastic experience from start to finish. Going behind the scenes at Holden was incredible and the opportunity to talk to the senior executives and give them my point of view and help them provide an even better experience for customers was pretty special.”

image116872_bOther customer-orientated programs that Holden has launched this year include the Professional Care program that includes the company’s capped price servicing (CPS) scheme,  aimed at “providing the best value and offering complete peace of mind through servicing and genuine parts.”

The ‘Everyday Heroes’ customer experience program aims to ensure customers receive an exceptional customer service experience no matter which Holden dealership they contact or visit.

Australia’s first Audi Sport showroom concept opens in Melbourne








Bobby Zagam’s impressive $25 million redevelopment of the Audi Centre Melbourne has finally flung open the doors to reveal a facility that showcases 40 new vehicles across three levels.

The new facility is the first in Australia to feature the new Audi Sport showroom concept. With Australia having been identified as a pilot market worldwide for the concept, the third floor has been turned into a showcase for the brand’s high performance range.

RS and R8 vehicles, special wheel selections, exclusive vehicle accessories and an extensive range of merchandise are on sale in a ‘shop within a shop’ concept. There are two cafes, multiple lounge areas for customers to relax, and also a private lounge where prospective owners can configure their new Audi using a touch screen.


“It is incredible to see that this has taken shape in such a magnificent form. Now we can really offer our Audi customers the very best service in one of the best retail facilities in the country,” said Bobby.

“The overall design clearly separates the showroom and customer spaces making it is easy for people to connect with the vehicles, or to enjoy the surroundings of the café and lounge areas.”

501 Swanston Street also reflects a number of sustainable design features, achieving a 4-star Nabers rating through the use of low energy, high-efficiency LED lighting, automatic daylight harvesting system and special facade glazing.

The official opening event for 650 guests that featured Melbourne’s Hamish & Andy, Megan Washington and Wikid Force, was sponsored by Laurent Perrier, Port Phillip Estate Wines, Asahi Premium Beverages, Capi Mineral Waters and Leica Camera.

Super squeeze-pop from Woolie’s Workshop



Fresh from Woolie’s Workshop is a Tang-Tang’n two-stroke with capabilities of extremely high engine revolutions per minute and enough squeeze-pop to make your head spin.

This 250cc Yamaha 2-Cycle racer looks fast standing still and is a unique personal project of Venice Motorcycle designer Michael Woolaway, who built it to be competitive in the 250 race class. Yamaha TZs are the stuff of legends in the race world, winning international grand prix races throughout the 70′s.

Like all the builds out of Woolie’s Workshop, it has what Michael describes as that ‘final 5%”, which is always the most assiduously earned and separates the great bikes from the good ones.

This race-spec steed is featherweight and fed by twin Mikunis to produce 50bhp @ 10,500rpm. Tuck in, hold on, and safety-wire your bum to the seat, cuz this little two-smoker is a real zinger!


The cars rumbled in bright and early to bask together in the morning sunshine as the guttural ensemble of air cooled internal combustion serenaded the parking lot and echoed off the walls of Deus Ex Machina in Venice, California a couple of weekends ago, as we played host to Luftgekühlt in a celebration of Zuffenhausen’s finest air-cooled cars…CLICK HERE TO VIEW

And quite a celebration it was, thanks to the thoughtful orchestration by Porsche factory racer Patrick Long and Howie Idelson who assembled the all-star cast of some of the rarest icons and familiar Porschephiles in the arena. Needless to say, the sight of these beautiful machines thoughtfully aligned and squeezed into our bite-sized downtown Venice Beach parking lot was glorious to behold. And not soon forgotten!



High-tech tyre helps drivers avoid costs of twice yearly fuel excise indexation


Toyo Tires says its latest high-tech tyre could cut the cost of family motoring through fuel savings of up to 5.5% compared with a conventional car tyre. According to the tyremakers’ technical manager Steven Burke, independent testing had shown the NanoEnergy 3 tyre can deliver fuel savings of up to $130 a year for a typical family six-cylinder sedan, or more than six times the yearly cost of recent fuel-excise increase.

“Considering average weekly fuel costs for a late model six-cylinder family sedan at current fuel prices, NanoEnergy 3 can save families over $130 per annum, for those driving an average of 15,000km a year…about one cent a kilometre. That’s nearly 90 litres of fuel over 800 kilometres of combined driving, per vehicle, or the equivalent of a free trip from Sydney to Melbourne.”

Using a popular current model V6 family sedan and specialised equipment, performance data was captured at Sydney Motor Sport Park by V8 Supercar driver Jonathan Webb and Motor magazine.

By engineering the rubber compound at a molecular level, Toyo has been able to achieve improvements for rolling resistance, grip levels and wear resistance. NanoEnergy 3 is available in sizes that will suit about half of all passenger cars sold in Australia.

An electric E-Type Jag? You’ve got to be kidding



Carmakers do their best to keep future-model plans a secret, but the sprawling bureaucracy of today’s corporate operations can sometimes make that difficult. A part of that work involves protecting intellectual property for potential new models and technologies that may not even be confirmed for production.

The fact that Jaguar recently trademarked the name “EV-Type” brings up some interesting possibilities. The registration was filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on October 30 and also with a similar registry in Europe, for use on “motor land vehicles” and other applications, according to Green Car Reports.

Jaguar hasn’t confirmed any plans for an electric car, but the use of the ‘Type’ designation indicates that it’s at least considering a plug-in sports car. While Jaguar used to offer the S-Type and X-Type sedans, as well as an X-Type wagon, very briefly. That style of name is currently used only by the F-Type two-seat sports car. The name EV-Type is also a somewhat playful reference to the car that inspired the F-Type, the classic E-Type.


Much of Jaguar’s recent history with hybrid and plug-in electric powertrains has also involved performance vehicles. The C-X16 Concept (below) which previewed the production F-Type, featured a hybrid powertrain consisting of a 3.0L supercharged V6 and eight-speed automatic transmission, paired with an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack.

More audaciously, Jaguar also tinkered with the C-X75, a mid-engined supercar that first appeared at the 2010 Paris Motor Show with a plug-in powertrain that included a pair of gas-turbine engines. Those were replaced by a 1.6L gasoline engine in an ultimately failed attempt to make the C-X75 production-feasible. It was fun while it lasted.

It’s unclear whether the EV-Type has any connection to those previous experiments, or if Jaguar has any serious plans for the name at all at the moment. Yet with global emissions standards getting stricter, Jaguar may have to take a more serious look at electrification in the near future. When it does, at least it’ll have a clever name on hand.

2015 F-Type coupe

2015 F-Type coupe

What’s new pussycat? Chrysler and Audi put on the grunt @ LA and BMW powders it’s cute little nose



image116772_aThe new 2015 Chrysler 300 has gone of display at the LA Auto Show and in the usual auto industry overhyped style is being billed as offering 300 iconic design proportions (whatever that means) inspired materials, plus game-changing innovations. Mind you, it’s not a bad looking unit in a clunky sort of ‘poor man’s Bentley’ kind of way.

The 300C Platinum model features quilted Nappa leather, hand-sanded wood, ultra-premium Poltrona Frau leather-wrapped instrument panel and console, plus platinum-chrome exterior details and 20-inch wheels. There’s a 5.7L Hemi V8 delivers 270kW, 534Nm and 0-100km/h in less than six seconds. The four models in the range are the 300 Limited, 300S, 300C and the 300C Platinum.


Also on display in LA is the Audi prologue show car that the company is billing as a “foretaste of the future”. According head designer Marc Lichte, Audi design is now expressing progressive technology even more powerfully.

“The two‑door coupe has a flowing, elegant shape in a sporty and taut design. Its forms and lines are unmistakable and introduce many new ideas. In the clear and unobstructed interior, the architecture melds with the display and operating concept to create a new type of unit.

“The entire front of the instrument panel is a large touch display, and a portion of the user interface operates with a new type of OLED display made of organic LEDs.”

The 4.0 TFSI produces up to 445kW of power and 750Nm of torque and accelerates the Audi prologue from 0 to 100km/h in 3.7 seconds.


Meanwhile, the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer has arrived in local showrooms. Said to be built on an entirely new architecture designed to maximise interior space in a compact and stylish package, it’s all a bit Mazda-ish looking, which I suppose is not such a bad thing and you still get the blue and white badge.

All models feature six airbags, dynamic stability control, dynamic traction control, automatic parking assistant, rear view camera, lane departure warning and pedestrian and collision warnings with light city braking function and intelligent emergency call.

Under the bonnet, driving through a six-speed Steptronic automatic transmission is BMW’s first three-cylinder engine with maximum outputs of 100kW and 220Nm with an EU combined test fuel consumption of 5.2l/100km and CO2 emissions of 122g/km.




Upgrades make for a smoother ride at no extra cost


Upgrades that include the introduction of ‘comfort suspension’, a premium interior scrub up and a new acoustic package, to cut down noise and vibration, should help shift a few units in the 2015 Holden Colorado range, especially at 2014 prices.

According to the company’s Bill Mott, the Colorado has a great reputation for off-road driving that Holden wanted to translate to urban and highway driving.

“The reduction in noise and vibration and the introduction of a tailored comfort suspension makes driving a comfortable and enjoyable experience in any environment.”

The Colorado truck LTZ and 7 LTZ have a revised spring rate and damper tune and a new, stiffer, front stabiliser.  The same models also get heated leather appointed seats (optional on the LTZ Crew cab) and a more premium cabin feel with upgraded Jet Black, soft touch, surface fascias and centre console.

Testing at Monash University’s wind tunnel facility has resulted in some tweaking to the hill descent control (HDC) and hill start assist (HSA) and the new acoustic package that reduces airborne noise and vibration.


Beethoven or The Beatles it’s all possible with Merc’s autonomous car…maybe!



Autonomous cars will change the way people ‘drive,’ including making the interior more like a living room than a cockpit. With plans to put a self-driving car into production in the near future, Mercedes-Benz already has some ideas about what that transformation will look like.

The manufacturer recently unveiled a virtual interior concept for the autonomous car of the future with an interior mirroring a “private area of retreat” in urban traffic. There’s a variable seating arrangement consisting of four lounge chairs with the front chairs able to rotate so that the passengers can face each other while the car is driving itself.

Untitled-2With nothing better to do that stare at each other, passengers will be offered the ultimate in infotainment systems complete with gesture-based controls that can respond to eye, hand, and finger movements. (Picking ones nose can result in either a Daniel Barenboim Beethoven sonata or a Day Tripper video of The Beatles).

The virtual concept also features display screens that show information about the vehicle’s surroundings, because simply looking out the windows is apparently too low tech. Mercedes is merely positing what a future interior will look like, but it has firm plans to put an actual car with autonomous capability into production. It demonstrated the S500 INTELLIGENT DRIVE prototype in 2013 and plans to have a version of that car’s system ready for showrooms by 2020.

Some semi-autonomous functions, such as self-steering and lane change control, are already available on the current S-Class and these systems will likely act as building blocks to future self-driving cars.