Friday, April 29, 2011

Cars of the Royal Wedding

So if you're anything like us, you've had it up to here (imaginary line drawn just above testicles) with all the hoopla surrounding the Royal wedding today.  The one bright shining part of the whole ordeal celebration is the occasional glimpse of Britain's finest motorcars in one form or another.  From Prince Charles' own 1969 Aston Martin DB6 (a 21st birthday gift from his mother) to the Queen's own specially made, one-off Bentley limousine and every other Royal transport in between, ranging from Range Rovers and rolling on to Rolls-Royces.  Interestingly, the "L" plate on the front of the Aston indicates the driver is on a "Learner's permit", which in this case was a practical joke played on William by a friend or relative.

Queen Elizabeth's 2002 one-of-a-kind armored Bentley

TV Star Injured When Semi Crashes Mercedes

Ruth Pineda, AKA "Ruthless" on TLC's hit tattoo reality show LA Ink, was injured when her near-classic Mercedes 300E (W124 in MB-geek speak) was broadsided by a semi truck.  Her injuries were not life threatening and as of today she is released from the hospital and is expected to recover fully. 

Click to the TMZ gallery for pictures:  Ruthless Mercedes Crash

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tornadoes Close Tuscaloosa, Alabama Mercedes-Benz Plant

The Mercedes-Benz plant responsible for North America's supply of ML's, GL's and the new C-class starting in 2012, had been forced to shut it's doors at least until Monday after a series of powerful tornadoes ripped through the area.

The plant, located in Vance, Alabama, just east of Tuscaloosa, was not severely damaged but is suffering in supply disruptions because of the Mercedes-Benz method of "just-in-time" deliveries for parts.  The automated system reduces backup's and parts storage concerns by ensuring that only the exact number of parts required at any given time are on hand.  When local outside suppliers lost power after the storms they were unable to maintain the production and delivery of parts.

The plant did suffer minor damage to it's employee fitness center and an auxiliary building on the property, and several employee owned vehicles were damages by falling trees.  No injuries were reported at the plant.

Downed trees outside the Vance, Alabama Mercedes-Benz factory.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ever Wonder How They Ship F1 Cars?

In the interest of maintaining Death Star-like security, most Formula 1 teams use their own proprietary shipping methods when shuttling cars between the various destinations around the globe.   Here we get a rare glimpse of what sort of specially prepared container is used for non-competition events such as car shows, special media events and the like.

Weighing in at 992-lbs the AMF type container is specially shaped and fitted to conform to the lower cargo area on jets such as 747, 777 and Airbus equipment.  While the container maintains an outward appearance to prevent prying eyes, it has been reinforced inside to protect the precious cargo resulting in a weight increase of nearly 200-lbs over the standard crate.

The transport company who created the special container explains, "The container is equipped with a removable forkliftable car platform. The car platform is taken out, placed in the warehouse and once the F1 car is rolled on and restrained, the platform is than again placed inside the container. After locking the platform into place, ensuring a proper restraint, the container and car are good to go."

The space beneath the vehicle can be used for storage of other goodies like the tires and hand jack as shown below.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Mercedes-Benz Announces 2012 Car Pricing

Mercedes-Benz has announced prices for its new-generation SLK roadster and CLS coupe line. Suggested retail pricing for the 2012 SLK350 will start at $54,800, while the 2012 CLS550 will begin at $71,300 and the high-performance CLS63 AMG at $94,900. Prices exclude a $875 destination & delivery charge.

Source: MBUSA

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Set Your Spark Plugs To Stun

Traditional spark plugs could someday soon be replaced by lasers.  This isn't science fiction but rather the latest innovation to up the efficiency of internal combustion engines.  While many car companies, engineers and even governments around the world are focused on electrics and hybrids, many still think the future lies with traditionally powered vehicles that are hyper efficient.  $5 a gallon doesn't mean much when your car gets 80mpg.  These laser plugs do not offer that kind of efficiency on their own but when combined with a multitude of super-efficient components it is certainly possible.  

The lasers work to reduce pollutants and raise fuel burn efficiency by igniting more of the fuel/air mixture than is possible by traditional spark plugs that burn only the gasses nearest the plug gap.  They also erode over time due to this combustion but lasers would not suffer this fate.

This isn't the first time the concept has been put forth, but before now the laser systems were much to large to situate within the engine bay of a normal road car.

Read the article at BBC: Lasers Could Replace Spark Plugs In Car Engines

Laser-based spark plug (Takunori Taira)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Chrysler is Definiely Owned by the Same People As Ferrari

In a series of Ferrari-like escapades that involve fires erupting from their factory fresh vehicles, Chrysler and it's subsidiary brands has seen an extraordinary series of pyrotechnic events in recent days.

Consider the recall of Jeep Wranglers in China due to fires caused by the (???) automatic transmission and related components.  Then we have the story of the Dodge Durango that caught fire in a Washington DC area Cherry Blossom parade.  Finally, there's the interesting case of the Dodge Challenger that caught fire on the assembly line, supposedly from a heating fan being placed too close to the vehicle.  Makes you wonder why God hates Italians so much.

Jeep Recall in China
Durango Burns During Parade
Challenger Burns on Assembly Line

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Crazy 70's Toys: Hulk Horny!!!

In what was probably one marketing man's biggest stroke of genius and his ultimate reason for termination (I'm guessing), I submit to you a solid piece of vintage 1970's forged toy goodness in the form of The Incredible Hulk Remote Controlled life size figure. OK, so even the the commercial itself shows children cowering away in fear of injury, remember, it was the 70's, toys were still dangerous and you could loose an eye to any number of Cylon Raider rockets or Boba Fett backpacks if you were so lucky. Maybe you were unlucky enough to be burned by your sisters oven thingy that really baked miniature cakes. I mean c'mon, a working oven for your little girl's bedroom, what's the harm?
Whatever the intention was with this inflatable semi-nude muscled green man, I can pretty much assure you that this was "Tommy's first gay experience" when he put old Bruce Banner in for sex doll duty once puberty hit.


Monday, April 11, 2011

For the Last Time, No Such Thing as a Water-Powered Car

Since at least the 1930's there has been an ongoing love affair between a public that's weary of high gas prices and nutty professors the world over aiming to solve our fuel problems.  The common bond that binds these two seemingly disparate groups is nothing less spectacular than the water powered car.  That's right, the technology that seems to rear it's damp little head every time we invade a country for it's oil fuel prices soar is making a comeback for 2011.  While the average person has a pretty clear understanding that this is not based on any proven science, there are those who will happily forward emails to everyone they've ever encountered describing the latest entry into the imaginary world of water powered cars.

Wikipedia is full of examples of inventors throughout history who've claimed making a physics-busting discovery that will change the way we... ummm, water our gardens... forever.  While water fueled cars may sound more akin to the mythological "perpetual motion machine" than science, the foundation of the logic is sound, which is the reason why so many people get suckered into believing that such a vehicle is possible.  Using water as fuel would require the water itself be used up for it's energy, but these inventions only use water coupled with conductive plates or rods as an electrolyte, essentially making a battery.  Let's be clear, a battery powered car is not a water powered car.  Some engineers have also created what are essentially hydrogen powered cars that break H2O down into Hydrogen and Oxygen, using the hydrogen for power and the water as a by product, the issue here being that physics would still consider this a perpetual motion machine in the sense that you can't recover the same energy you put into the fuel cell, some is dissipated in friction, heat, etc. Also, the water itself, again, is not the fuel source but rather a source for the source, which brings us back to the inefficiency that would cause these sorts of vehicles to cost more to run than a traditional gas powered car.  Of course, we could always just start building and importing more diesels, but that would mean we 'mericans would have to face up to the modern truth that diesels are quiet, fast and torque-y.  Hell, next thing you know we might start buying more wagons instead of gas hungry SUV's.

If you want to read some of the science involved check out the Wikipedia links above, or just take our word for it that there is no such thing as a fucking water powered car.  Need more proof?  Check out this photo from the Genepax press release back in 2008 for promotion of their own water powered car.  Maybe it's just my failure to understand the cultural idiosyncrasies of Japanese culture, but having Jason Voorhees acting as your corporate "Stig" doesn't do much for customer confidence.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Jaguar E-Type 50th Commemorated in Vintage Video

Below is a 3-minute film shot when the E-type was still new, gobbling up asphalt around the globe and causing penis-shaped envy among the masses.  It's easy to forget that when this car came out it was like an blast from the future, the lines and overall badassness of the new E-Type (XKE if you must) was at the time perceived as less penile and more elegant supercar, causing grown men to sell their own cars, homes, wives, and whatever else was necessary to begin living their dreams of British Secret Agent, at least while on the way to work at Woolworth.  Enzo Ferrari himself dubbed the E-Type "the most beautiful car in the world" upon it's debut.

Even tho the XK150 had served the company well as a descendent to the popular and stunning XK120 & XK140, the higher-ups knew they needed to turn things up to 11 with their next model.  The C-Type and D-Type racers had been winning races, awards and hearts so this super sleek bodywork naturally became inspiration for the new design.

Revealed to the public in March 1961 at the Geneva Motor Show to stunned silence by onlookers, but the press, thankfully, had much to say.  Reports flew across the wires announcing the new era of Jaguar design, and the rest is basically history.

The popularity of the car is well documented with nearly 40,000 Series I cars produced, just over 18,000 Series II, and 15,000 Series III made.  A dozen Lightweight E-Types with aluminum alloy bodies and components, and a single Low Drag Coupe were also built.

Quick Shift: Toyota to Slow US Production

Toyota today announced that it will shut down production on it's US factory lines for five days scattered from April 15-25.  A total of thirteen North American factories will be affected.  I suppose we should say... "thank you"?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

"I Want to Believe" Mercedes Will Build This Concept A-Class Spaceship

It's been a very long time since anything coming out of Germany even came close to rivaling the Italians in terms of design.  The newest Concept A-Class surprises with it's elegant body shape and might even undo some long held conceptions about what "German" car design is all about.  No longer blocks, wedges and doglegs, the new breed of compact, sexy and advanced motorcars being designed in Mother Deutschland are evidence of a new direction for old companies.

The Mercedes-Benz Concept A-Class will make its debut at both the 2011 New York and Shanghai Auto Shows later this month. Looking as though it might have come from another planet, the Concept A-Class features an expressive and athletic design. Technical highlights include a new turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine, a dual clutch transmission and a radar-based collision warning system with adaptive Brake Assist.

The aggressive appearance of the Concept A-Class, with its long hood, low silhouette and slim side windows, is said to be inspired by the wind, waves and aviation engineering.  A seemingly disparate combination, but hell, it works just fine here. 

The nose of the Concept A-Class catches your attention with the Mercedes-Benz star logo surrounded by what looks like a star-filled sky. The grille consists of myriad metallic silver hexagons on black stems. This theme is echoed in the design of the wheels. The headlights of the Concept A-Class are powerful and innovative full-LED high-performance units matched by the daytime running lamps consisting of 90 optical fibers with aluminum sleeves arranged in a wing-shape within the headlamp to mimic the aviation theme.

The dashboard is formed in the shape of an aircraft wing with a translucent, stretchable fabric lining.
The shape of the A/C vents are reminiscent of a jet and the prominent dials in the instrument cluster are tipped in red, inspired by the afterburner of a jet engine.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

CLK55 P.O.S. Edition -or- Enter the Lion Vagina Car

eBay is known as the single best place on Earth to find virtually anything your heart desires.  It seems that someone's heart desired to ruin a perfectly good Mercedes-Benz CLK55 by creating their own special edition, one that features oddly placed metal old-man eyebrows, a beak that resembles that angry Eagle from the Muppet Show, more added goo-gaws than you'll find in any JC Whitney catalog, and sloppy red accents literally everywhere for that elegant "bloody turd" look.  Seemingly built using only the finest tools Harbor Freight can provide, the CLK55 P.O.S. Edition was meticulously hand crafted with an eye for detail.  Mind you, those details include painting interior buttons completely so as to obscure their markings and exterior accents in what appears to be flat-black paint rather than a matte clear coat (to ensure the car only looks "this good" until you take it to a car wash or, you know, touch it with bare hands).

Interestingly, the seller mentions in the "about me" section of the auction, "(Name deleted for their own sake) Inc. was established to take customization of high end vehicles to new limits."  We are pretty sure they succeeded spectacularly with this goal.  They continue, "We guarantee that you will never stumble upon another vehicle that is identical to yours."  At least they have some idea how traumatizing it would be to see multiples of this little troll hobbling it's way around America's highways, eating children and spitting their bones onto the roadway.

Even though this car seems like something you'd find in a Juarez, Mexico drug czar repossession auction, it calls North Hollywood home.  God bless you California.

If you have a strong stomach, and can resist the temptation to throw a fire blanket over your monitor, have a look at the photos below.

Here's a link to the auction, but expect it to disappear after a short time since it's eBay.
Lion Vagina Car

Family resemblance?

Funny, We Were Just Asking Ourselves "When Is Audi Going to Build a $7,000 Bicycle Made of Wood?"

Thankfully we don't have to wait any longer for the answer to that age-old question.

Audi is pairing with Renovo Hardwood Bicycles to prepare a series of "Duo" bikes in various colors and specifications.  There will be a City, Sport and Road version, each outfitted appropriately to the conditions they will be used in. 

In a press release Audi says, "Wood offers the smoothest ride of any bike frame material thanks to its superior ability to absorb shock and vibration. Since the weight per cubic inch of wood is about one-fourth the weight of aluminum, the duo is lighter than most bicycle frames, while offering equal or superior stiffness, durability, and toughness."  Hmm, so it seems the Ash-framed roadsters from Morgan were on to something decades ago.

The hand-made bikes feature innovative drive train components such as a belt drive, aluminum and carbon fiber components, disk brakes and LED lighting, as well as woods reminiscent of Audi vehicle interiors.

Prices range from $6,530-$7,460 depending on model and options.

Read the full press release over at Scarab Auctions

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Virgin Oceanic is Branson's Next Great Frontier

We realize submarines are clearly not cars, but the blog is called MotoArigato, or "Motors, thank you!" so we are making the editorial decision to include pretty much anything that meets two criteria; (1) it must have a motor and (2) it must be badass.  

Richard Branson, never content just being the guy who makes "The Most Interesting Man In the World" envious, has announced his next futuristic project following the success of Virgin Airlines and Virgin Galactic.  Branson's interest in deep sea exploration has launched the Virgin Oceanic single-person submersible that will allow him to dive to the deepest depths of five oceans including the Mariana Trench in the Pacific, the Atlantic's Puerto Rico Trench and South Sandwich Trench, Molly Deep in the Arctic Ocean & Diamantina Trench in the Indian Ocean.  Branson will share diving duties with his partner and fellow explorer, Chris Welch.

In typical Branson style he alluded to an interest in also producing a larger sub that would be capable of shuttling tourists to the ocean floors, but hopefully not within range of Davey Jone's Locker.

M-class & AMG Vehicles Recalled over Faulty Cruise Control

Mercedes-Benz announced today that they will be recalling nearly 137,000 vehicles in the US & 50,000 in Germany for a faulty brake light switch that causes the cruise control to fail to disengage when the brakes are tapped.  Mercedes claims that steady pressure on the brakes, using the cruise control stalk, or traveling at a speed of 25-mph or less will still disengage the cruise control.

Vehicles included in the recall are 2000-2002 M-class SUV's and 2000-2004 AMG vehicles, tho what specific vehicles those may be was unclear.  Mercedes plans to begin recall repairs starting in about 6-months time in order to build a supply of necessary replacement parts, and owners will be notified by mail in just a few weeks.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Crystal Ball: Final Nail In the Coffin and the Rise of a Superpower

We've watched scenes of horror and destruction thrown upon the shores and the people of Japan, that's a disturbing but true fact.  Another sobering fact for the Japanese economy, and specifically the auto manufacturing segment thereof, is the reality that the glory days are most definitively over. 

Fresh on the heels of the corporate gut-punch that was the sudden acceleration fiasco comes (thus far) unfounded fears from the car buying public of radioactive cars.  Green in every sense, slithering onto our roadways like the second coming of Godzilla.  A much more immediate and real danger is the utter disruption of the supply line in Japan.  Car makers in Europe and North America have felt some ripples that reflect the greater wave that is leaving assembly lines still and dark.  We here in the US can't order a Dodge Challenger in black due to a low supply of so-called "Xirallic", a key ingredient in some colors of paint including several shades of red and black, that is produced by only one plant that is currently not operational.  Contrast that to the problems of the car builders of Japan.  The folks at Toyota have seen their sales drop by half in the last month, Nissan's numbers down by 38% and Honda down by 28%.  It's a combination of factors; factories that have been shuttered, damaged or destroyed by the quake and tsunami, those that cannot operate because they can't get their necessary parts and materials to build vehicles, and would-be car buyers in Japan preoccupied with trying to stay alive.

Enter the Ninja
Hyundai (or as my Grandmother might say, "High-un-die") will take advantage of this disruption, fear and confusion, albeit purely coincidentally, by having showrooms filled to the brim, salespeople willing and able to take special orders, and offering what is admittedly superior design to anything Toyota has managed in the last few years to a public that is anxious to buy smart, attractive and inexpensive vehicles.

I can't say the Koreans will be able to maintain this momentum for more than the next decade, but I also don't see any reason why not. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Learn to Drive in a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3

Ok, so maybe the headline was a tad misleading, we don't expect many pimple faced 15-year olds to slide in beneath that curvaceous gullwing door, ready to check for blind spots as their instructor takes notes in the passenger seat.  No, this car definitely doesn't have two sets of pedals, but it drives like it had two accelerators!  The experience in question is the latest program from Mercedes-Benz called AMG Driving School and it is new for North America.  For the wholly reasonable sum of $2,100 USD you get the chance to manhandle not only the SLS AMG, but it's even more wicked step-sister, the GT3.  There are four stages to the program, each incrementally stepping up the "winning" by about 600%.
Visit the official site for full details:  AMG Driving School USA

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Need Another Reason to Play the Lottery? Historic Bertone Concepts Up For Auction

In one of those rare "you've got to be fracking kidding me" moments, Automobile Magazine reports that design powerhouse Bertone is offering up at least five historic concepts for an upcoming RM Auction event.  Scheduled for May 21st, the design firm is said to be releasing the heretofore privately held vehicles to the general public in an effort to increase their cash/no cash quotient.  All said and done, I never thought I'd see the day when so many GM's and Bertone's of the world turn loose their corporate collections for the sake of a buck.  Haven't they ever heard of Kickstarter?

Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari all have world class museums showcasing the evolution of their various models.  Mercedes additionally administers not one but two Classic Centers (Stuttgart, Germany and Irvine, CA) to promote ownership and driveability of the older but beloved cars.

It seems given the economic gloom still floating around, coupled with a limited buyer pool for one-off Bertone concepts, I dare suggest that at least a handful of collectors will be getting the bargain of the year, even if the prices rise into the high six figures.  It must feel good to be recession proof.

Read all about it here:  Bring Several Trailers...

VW Bullies North America with New Van Concept

The yellow VW camper vans of our parent's heyday, iconic in their lozenge like profile and thick with THC-laden smoke, was a defining image of the era.  The next great van from VW is however updated and better matched to these modern times, ready to spirit you off to the neighborhood cannabis club in record time, in cool air comfort, and free from honks of motorists anxious to get around you.

The Volkswagen Bulli has been exciting the loins of old hippies everywhere with it's retro-cool exterior styling reminiscent of the old vans but still remarkably current in their skillful interpretation.  The more years those former peaceniks pack onto the calendar means the slower they will likely be driving, but at least we can rest easy knowing that legions of grandchildren will be thankful for their automotive inheritance.  That day will not be reserved only for the spawn of Europeans, because VW's American President and CEO, Jonathan Browning, has made it clear that US dealers are extremely interested in such an intriguing new vehicle.

Check out the full report at Automobile Magazine:  VW CEO Wants Bulli for US Showrooms

Friday, April 1, 2011

Galiber? I hardly know her!

The Bugatti Veyron has been the reborn company's public face, and oh what a face!  Thankfully those land based fighter jets made enough cash/money for the bigwigs at Volkswagen to give the official OK to produce the Galiber, what is essentially a fast as fuck adequately powered family touring saloon.  Remember the tagline Aston Martin blessed their wedgy Lagonda with?  "A high speed gentleman's express" hasn't been an appropriate descriptive since the legendary handbuilt brit left the production line, but the Galiber is a suitable heir to that throne.

Long live the Queen!

Check out Autoblog's full report here:  Bugatti Galiber is "go"!

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