James Garner, star of such Hollywood television and film classics as Maverick and The Rockford Files, has passed away at his home at the age of 86. Garner is believed to have died of natural causes.
While Garner is best known for his television and movie roles, he was also a certified car guy. After starring in Grand Prix in 1966, James Garner developed a taste for racing, later being part owner of the American International Racers team, which took part in Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring endurance racing events. Garner's outfit also took part in the Baja 500, finishing 7 out of 10 AMC SC/Ramblers and taking three out of the top five positions. Garner himself drove an Oldsmobile 442 in off-road competition in 1969 and 1970. Garner's love of racing extended to the Indy 500, where he drove the pace car in 1975, 1977 and 1985.
With such a certified pedigree for competition racing, it comes as little surprise that Garner's automotive obsessions carried over into this acting career, gaining particular notoriety in The Rockford Files, where the gold Pontiac Firebird Esprit Garner's character drove became something of a star in its own right. Anyone who has watched the series is surely familiar with the J-turn that Garner's character, Jim Rockford, employed for quick getaways. So engrained was this stunt, which Garner performed himself, in the show that it is commonly referred to as the Rockford Turn.
We've gathered together some auto-themed clips for which Garner is known. Scroll down to take a short trip down memory lane as we celebrate the life and career of James Garner.
James Garner, celebrated actor and auto enthusiast, dies at age 86 [w/videos] originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 20 Jul 2014 12:53:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
When it comes to sweet-sounding V8s, there are few outfits around the globe that can match the work of Mercedes-Benz's AMG division. The in-house performance group has blessed us with such masterpieces of metal as the iconic 6.2-liter V8, code-named M156, the supercharged V8 from the McLaren SLR, code-named M155, and the 6.2-liter V8 found in the SLS AMG, code-named M159.
The next great sounding AMG engine is code-named M178, and it will sit under the long hood of the Mercedes-AMG GT. The 4.0-liter V8 will turn out 503 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque with the help of two turbochargers. Of course, you already know this. We detailed it all right here.
Today, though, we have more on the sound that will come from this GT's four, rectangular tailpipes, in the form of a short video. The new model will boast four different driving modes, each of which comes with its own unique acoustic signature. We like the idea of being able to choose things like suspension firmness, but when it comes to engine noise, we'll leave it on the loudest setting, thank you very much. As has been the case with most AMG-badged Mercedes products (regardless of the number of cylinders under hood), the GT should also pack a ear-pleasing bark on startup.
Scroll down for the full video on the sounds of the new Mercedes-AMG GT.
Mercedes-AMG GT's new V8 will sound just like an AMG should originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 20 Jul 2014 10:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
The website Final Gear is one of the premiere fan sites for Top Gear on the Internet. For over a decade, it has been providing followers of the show and its spinoffs with BitTorrent links for the episodes and gave people a place to discuss all things related. However, the site was hobbled on July 17 by a Digital Millennium Copyright Act Takedown notice that forced it to remove all of its links to the series.
In addition to publishing the notice in full, the site left this brief message to fans: "While FinalGear.com does not host any torrents or copyright infringing material, we have had to disable all episode links due to a DMCA Take-Down covering every Top Gear (and spin offs) episode." The letter indicated that it came from BBC Worldwide Consumer Products, and it specifically requested that Final Gear remove all of its links to Top Gear, Top Gear Australia and Top Gear America. While not mentioned, the site removed BitTorrent connections to Fifth Gear, as well. Otherwise, everything else, including the episode summaries and forum, are still up and running, as of this writing.
According to Final Gear, the site originally launched in October 2003 and did host the actual downloads at the time. In March 2004, it was redesigned and began using the torrents. Autoblog has reached out to the site for more information on what it plans to do going forward. We'll update this story, if we hear back.
The best place to get your Top Gear fix online has been thwacked by lawyers originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 20 Jul 2014 09:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
For decades, Jaguar has been a company of two minds. On one hand, there are its luxurious, British saloon cars. They might be quick, even sporty, but when it comes down to it, they usually put a focus on comfort and accommodations above all. On the other hand, Jag has its sports cars to really get its buyers' blood pumping. Think about it: the XJ might look pretty sweet, but you know deep down that you would rather take the F-Type for a spirited drive, reveling in its snorty exhaust note. In its latest video, Xcar Films takes us on a very enjoyable history lesson covering some of the Brit brand's most exciting models ever.
Xcar hits all of the highlights, starting with the often-overlooked C-Type from early '50s with its somewhat bulbous shape. Things then progress to the drop-dead gorgeous D-Type. The one in this video is actually the first ever made and therefore worth a fortune. Because of that, the host isn't really able to get too aggressive, but it's fantastic to get an idea of what it's like to experience being behind the wheel of this icon. Finally, it ends with a Series 1 E-Type. This was when the classic model was still something of a sports car; instead of the grand tourer that the E-Type became in its later days.
All three of these cars are legends in their own right, and maybe one day the F-Type could be too. Scroll down for a history lesson on some of Jaguar's best sports cars.Permalink | Email this | Comments
It's easy to forget that high-performance cars are not limited in size to something like a Lotus Elise or Mazda MX-5. They can get big. Take Lamborghini, for example. It might focus on combining low curb weights and high-output engines, but an Aventador very nearly occupies the same amount of space on the road as a fullsize Range Rover (the Lambo is only about eight inches shorter, although it is an inch wider, excluding the mirrors on both vehicles).
Considering this, getting one of the Italian exotics inside the cramped confines of a mall is a rather tall order. After all, the thoroughfares there are designed for people, and are often bisected by either smaller shopping stands, pillars or some sort of flora. Getting five Lamborghinis in, though, is an exercise in patience in precision.
Lamborghini of Miami did just that, stuffing five of the exotics inside a local mall. On the way out, one of the workers used GoPros to chronicle the entire process. It's an entertaining bit, if not a bit cringe-inducing on some of the tighter bits.
Scroll down and take a look.
Watch a parade of five Lamborghinis make their way through a shopping mall originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 19 Jul 2014 17:19:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Three customized Volkswagen Buses (pictured above) made to look like blocks of Tillamook cheddar cheese are safe again after being stolen on July 12, and two men are in police custody for the alleged theft.
The cheesy cadre of VWs, their custom trailer and a Ford F-350 to haul them were on a promotional tour when they were stolen from a hotel parking lot in Manteca, California. Police began searching for them, and the group of bright orange Volkswagens wasn't too hard to sniff out. The three vans with an estimated value of $100,000 each were recovered undamaged on July 14 from a storage center in California about 50 miles away from where they were taken, according to Oregon Live. It reports that one of the men arrested rented a space there.
Unfortunately, the trailer and pickup used to haul the classic VWs weren't so lucky. Prior to finding the vans, police discovered the other vehicles burned out. It appears the alleged thieves tried to turn them into grilled cheese...Permalink | Email this | Comments
Aston Martin may possibly (hopefully?) axe plans for a Lagonda-badged SUV, according to a new report from the blokes at Piston Heads. If this is true, it'd serve as proof that the auto gods are good, and want us to be happy.
The report is based on statements made by Director of Design Marek Reichman.
"We still have plans for the brand. There might be some surprises in the marque's re-establishment into the market place, but as a very unique coachbuilt experience. And that's probably what's most befitting of the brand," Reichman told PH when asked about the Lagonda SUV, which debuted way back in 2009.
"That was a different time [when the Lagonda debuted]," Reichman continued. "It was [Dr. Ulrich Bez's] time. And now we're in a very, very different time, with a different plan and with a different projection of what that brand should become."
Considering the spy shots we've already seen (inset), PH's conclusion that the Lagonda brand would be reborn as an ultra-exclusive sedan doesn't seem far off. As for the rumors that AM would look to Mercedes-Benz for its SUV architecture, well, it's not looking so good any more.
What do you think? Should Aston Martin launch a sedan above the Rapide? What would you expect in terms of price and performance? Let us know in Comments.
Has Aston Martin abandoned plans for a Lagonda SUV? originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 19 Jul 2014 13:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
In America, a driver's test seems almost like a formality. Can you park? Can you parallel park? Can you navigate down a road without hitting/killing any other cars, people, animals, houses, buildings, street signs or yourself? Yes, yes and yes? Congratulations, you're licensed to drive. Things are more difficult in the United Kingdom, it seems.
According to the UK Department of Transport, the average pass rate for both the theory and practical tests in the first three months of 2014 was barely half. While that's a discouraging stat, it hasn't put off a 28-year-old woman from the UK, who has sat through the practical portion of the test 110 times. At a cost of 31 pounds (about $53 at today's rates), she's shelled out over 3,000 pounds ($5,120), according to The London Evening Standard.
Now, we're not at all advocating that driving tests should be made easier. But after spending a pretty substantial amount of money, at what point should the UK driving authorities just waive the fees and let her try and sit the test again?
It's unclear if the anonymous woman, who happens to live in London and has a vast public transit network at her disposal, has passed the practical portion of the driver's test. She is, however, easily the record holder for most attempts at the written portion, with the next closest challenger at 86 attempts (he also hasn't passed).
UK woman has failed driver's test 110 times at a cost of over $5,000 originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 19 Jul 2014 11:18:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
With all the money they generate, you'd be forgiven if you thought the roads to America's oil wells and shale fields would be paved in platinum and lined in gold. The reality is, though, that these roads are so devastated that they're starting to actively hurt the oil industry.
A large portion of the blame can be placed squarely on the shoulders of the semis that bring things in and out of the fields. As Bloomberg points out in an excellent piece, the popularity of fracking has required huge imports of water, sand, chemicals and steel structuring to the fields, consequently increasing the weight and frequency of trucks on roads that were originally designed for cattle ranchers.
"If you drive a cattle truck one or two times a year, you're not affecting that road very much, but the first day you drive a 175,000-pound substructure of a drilling rig up that road you begin to destroy it," DeWitt County judge Daryl Fowler told Bloomberg.
There are other issues, though, that are making life difficult for the men and women in America's oil industry. Roads are crumbling due to torrential rains and spring thaws in addition to the weight of trucks. The result is a situation that's not only hurting profits, it's increasing accidents.
Solutions, meanwhile, are in short supply. Tax dollars are short, with Texas estimating it'd need to spend $1 billion just to maintain roads in its energy producing regions. That's equal to the total road maintenance costs for the rest of the state - to which we ask, wouldn't it make sense for the oil companies, whose trucks are responsible for much of the wear and tear on these roads, to chip in for their upkeep?
Head over to Bloomberg for a comprehensive piece on the problems facing these surprisingly important roads, and what it will take to fix them.
US energy boom thwarted by... bad oil field roads? originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 19 Jul 2014 09:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
There are many beautiful cars in the world, and then there is the Ferrari 330 P4 that outdoes practically all of them. Combining more curves than Christina Hendricks and the singing voice of Adele, it might just be one of the most aesthetically pleasing cars ever made. In its latest video, Petrolicious takes a look at the sole remaining original P4 in existence and talks to the lucky man who gets to drive it.
Ferrari Corsa instructor Nick Longhi has the enviable task about getting behind the wheel of the V12 racer in this video, and he says it doesn't drive the way you might think. The P4 isn't out to bite drivers who aren't paying attention. Instead, he claims that the car just does everything right and helps the person at the controls be that much better.
Historically, the P4 was Ferrari's attempt in the 1967 season to take on the dominating Ford GT40. The Prancing Horse's major achievement that year was a 1-2-3 finish in the 24 Hours of Daytona, but it couldn't quite beat the Ford at the famous race at Le Mans.
Arguably, the later Ferrari 312PB that Petrolicious highlighted a few weeks ago sounds better, but it's got absolutely nothing on the voluptuously elegant design of the P4. Scroll down to learn about this thoroughbred of a Prancing Horse with some fantastic cinematography.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Filed under: Etc.
Toyota warns self-driving cars could increase fuel use
Autonomous vehicles have become a popular industry goal with automakers and lawmakers alike, in part because of their anticipated fuel savings and presumptive benefit to society thanks to their potential to save both lives and hours. Now, a Toyota researcher cautions self-driving cars might actually burn more fuel and further urban sprawl.
2014 Renault Clio RS 200 Turbo
Ah, Renault has long been a dominant player in the European hot hatch game. With their new Clio RS 200 Turbo, they attempt to rewrite their own rulebook by adding forced induction and moving away from the manual transmission in favor of a dual-clutch gearbox. Does it work? We drive it in the UK and weigh in on this tasty yellow forbidden fruit.
Auto industry grapples with cyber threats
The advent of the microchip changed cars forever, but we're only now at the tip of the computer revolution's sphere in the industry. With digital controls having an ever-greater sway over the automobile, security measures against hacking is gaining in importance, particularly as we dive headlong into autonomous vehicles. We take a look at how the industry is working to keep motorists safe.
- GM confirms 2015 Silverado, Sierra to get 8-speed automatic
- Kia recalls 2014 Soul over steering issue
- Tesla Model S hacked by Zheijiang University
Match up a hot hatch with a supercar of the same vintage, and we'll tell you who will win every time. It's easy, really, as the supercar invariably features a more advanced suspension, stickier tires and most importantly, more power. What if the hot hatch is race prepped, though?
In that particular case, all bets are off. A circuit-tuned suspension, a stripped-down cabin, an ultra-quick sequential transmission and the greatest equalizer of them all, slick tires, are all that's needed to turn the typical hot hatch into a proper dragon slayer.
Perhaps seeking to prove this, Evo has put together an interesting head-to-head between the Audi R8 V10 and a race-prepared Renault Clio Cup. Host Dickie Meaden takes us through each car, highlighting the bits and bobs on both sides which should make this a tight competition. And boy, is this one tight.
Scroll down for the full video from Evo, and let us know what you think of the result in Comments.
Audi R8 V10 Plus vs. Renault Clio Cup racecar will make you go hmmm... originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 18 Jul 2014 19:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Hyundai has managed to get another vehicle on the prestigious Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick +, as its new 2015 Sonata sedan performed admirably in crash testing.
The redesigned Sonata's new look belied an improved crash test in the difficult small overlap front test, where Hyundai's family sedan improved from a "Marginal" score to "Acceptable." Meanwhile, the Sonata's optional Forward Collision Warning system garnered a "Basic" rating on IIHS' three-tier rating scale for these sort of automatic safety systems.
Netting a spot on the Top Safety Pick + list requires a "Good" or "Acceptable" score on the small overlap test, as well as "Good" scores on the four standard tests and some form of automated safety system.
You can view the Sonata's crash test video below, as well as the full press release from IIHS. Scroll down and take a look.
Watch the 2015 Hyundai Sonata crash its way to an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 18 Jul 2014 18:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Which automaker do you think ships the most cars out of North America, one of the Detroit Three or perhaps one of the Japanese automakers? Nope. It turns out the BMW's Spartanburg, SC, factory is the biggest automotive exporter from the continent in the United States. According to a recent profile by Bloomberg looking at the plant's 20th anniversary, Bimmer's southern ops sends out more vehicles than all of Michigan combined.
When the Spartanburg factory opened up in 1994, its success was hardly assured, largely because of South Carolina's relatively small economy at the time. However, BMW picked the site because of its proximity to East Coast shipping that made it easier to move engines and transmission in from Germany and export vehicles back to Europe, according to Bloomberg. The Bavarians clearly made the right choice.
Today, the plant has developed into an absolute powerhouse. The factory currently assembles the X3, X4, X5 and X6 and exports about 70 percent of the vehicles built there. Things are only getting better. BMW is investing $1 billion through 2016 to boost annual production from the current 300,000 units up to 450,000 and to build a new flagship crossover called X7. The expansion also adds a further 800 jobs there to take total employment up to about 8,800. Including the latest financing, BMW has put over $7.3 billion into the factory since it opened, notes Bloomberg.
These days, BMW clearly sees strength in the North American market as a production hub. In addition to Spartanburg, it runs a carbon fiber factory as a joint venture in Washington State that is due for a further $200 million expansion in 2015. The Bavarian automaker also just announced a $1 billion factory in San Luis Potosí, Mexico, that will build 150,000 cars a year starting in 2019.Permalink | Email this | Comments