Friday, August 30, 2013

MotoArigato Project Car: Our CocoMats Arrive

Disclosure: CocoMats is sponsoring the rolling restoration of our MotoArigato Project Car by supplying us with this set of custom mats.

You already know everything is there to know about CocoMats thanks to this earlier article, but even writing that story didn't fully prepare us for what arrived in our mailbox recently, our newly minted bespoke set of Sisal Cocomats. Drew T. Phythian and his crew worked their magic for our very own MotoArigato Project Car by kindly supplying us with a set of the mats, custom cut from a pattern they provided that we then trimmed and returned to their South Carolina factory for final production. Our set consists of both front and rear mats in Red Sisal with red vinyl edging and a beautifully hued maroon rubber heel pad.  

Heel pad feels luxurious in color, weight and material
The mats themselves are incredibly substantial with a massive natural rubber backing studded with nibs to prevent slippage and boy, do they do that job well. Once in place, that's it! They are staying there unless you lift them all the way out by hand and readjust them although ours are so perfectly tailored that they almost click into place as if they were part of one of those snap-together models you made as a kid.

The sisal weave itself is much finer and smoother than the coco fibers they are more known for, no better or worse, it really just depends on what look you are going for in your own car. We like the coco fiber for an in-era look but chose the thinner-strand sisal because we felt it matched the elegance of our W111 coupe much better.

Be sure you're getting the real deal, only from
We realized a couple of things after installing the mats over our factory carpets that came as a pleasant surprise. We considered adding sound and vibration damping materials such as Dynamat or a similar product to the floors but after driving around with the Cocomats in place we noted that much of the road noise we had been hearing was now muted or eliminated entirely.

We also had been in no rush to make decisions about altering anything that was original to the car, being such a survivor, and those are clearly becoming rarer by the day, we kept going back and forth between replacing the carpets altogether, or dying them back to as close to original as possible. However, once we laid the mats in the car we were all surprised by how much it classed up the interior, making even dying the carpets something we could take some more time to think about since the car no longer looked like the abandoned puppy of the car world. It's somewhat like those infomercials where they wipe some magic Sham-wow cloth across the counter and everything is sparkling like new including the host's teeth, we don't know how it worked so well, we just know it did.

(L) Cheaply made mat that was in our car (R) New Sisal CocoMat
When we received our car it originally had a set of aftermarket coco fiber mats installed that had easily seen better days, and quite a few of them at that. The original mat is black and red with a cheap, almost paper-like vinyl edging, and you can see in our side-by-side image how frayed and loose it has become with time and use. Also notice there is no backing of any sort? That mat came from the passenger foot well and guests were always smoothing bumps down with their shoes or kicking the top portion off of their feet because it was constantly drooping like a bored hound dog's ears.

There is quite literally no comparison to the CocoMat quality (R)
We rather unexpectedly managed to test one of the features advertised by the company on the first week we had them installed. Dirt, sand, and moderate amounts of water will not penetrate to your carpets because of the natural barrier created by the heavy rubber backing. It seems that somebody, who is writing this article now but shall remain nameless, spilled water on the passenger side mat. That clumsy person quickly blotted it up, used compressed canned air to blow out any remaining water and just like that the mats were like new. Not a drop underneath nor a stain in sight. Mission accomplished! Time, money and effort was saved, we can definitely dig that!

When you write about cars and car products all day you sometimes get accustomed to hearing the same things over and over from PR guys or product catalogs and few products stand out among the rest, but once in a while, when you get your own hands and eyes on a product that just feels right in every single way, you have to share it with your buddies. (PS: You're our buddies.)

Our passenger side foot well, with fire extinguisher visible
We recommend Cocomats without hesitation and suggest you use their custom fitting service to ensure the very best match to your car's interior, especially if you are ordering for a handmade vintage beast like we have where measurements don't always match from one side to the other, let alone one car to another.

I want this stuff in my house now too.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Bling it Like Beckham; Soccer Star Shows Off New McLaren MP4-12C Spider

David Beckham, trophy husband of ex-Spice Girls singer Glorious Spice (or was it Awesome Spice, or perhaps Old Spice?) was spotted tooling around LA in his new McLaren MP4-12C Spider with 14-year old son Brooklyn, who was quite clearly enjoying the ride in pop's new supercar.

While not nearly as valuable as the initial F1 from McLaren the MP4-12C Spider is no slouch in the taking-your-money department as the vehicle is priced at an eye watering $240,000 in the US, and that's before the slew of modifications Becks normally has performed on his fleet, generally consisting or making every bit of the car black or matte black. He is pretty hardcore after all, married to a Spice Girl and all that, so the "murdered out" look makes sense.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

McLaren Sets New Auction Record for F1

McLaren announced via Twitter that a new world record has been set for the sale of their fabulous F1, a mere $8.47-million was achieved at this year's Pebble Beach Concours.

Mr. Bean probably couldn't be happier, tho some owners may now be facing the unenviable dilemma of "is my car now worth too much to keep?"

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

2015 GLA crossover goes official after online leak

Mercedes-Benz released full official details on the GLA crossover SUV just after midnight this morning in an effort to minimize any potential damage caused after images were leaked online by several sources. The new model was originally slated to be revealed at the Frankfurt Auto Show later this fall (September 12-22). You may note on the auto show's website that it proudly boasts being "The World's Most Automobile Show" which, ummmm, is pretty cool? Kinda like in the movie Elf where Will Ferrell compliments a cafe for having the "World's Best Coffee" but in this case, it's just "most automobile" which has to be good right?

Here's the full release on the GLA as provided by MBUSA.

Fit for off-road adventure

Progressive design, serene day-to-day driving and offroad capability: easily handling various automotive applications, the all-new Mercedes-Benz GLA impressively reinterprets the compact SUV segment. It effortlessly masters day-to-day driving and is also robust enough for off-road excursions. The 2015 GLA-Class will arrive in U.S. showrooms in Fall of 2014.

The first Mercedes-Benz in the fast-growing compact SUV segment is highly maneuverable around town (length 173.9" x width 71" x height 58.8"), lively on country roads and athletic and efficient on the highway. The highquality appointments, developed with much attention to detail, and the versatile interior clearly position the GLA as a premium compact SUV.

The 2015 GLA-Class is the first Mercedes-Benz SUV to be available with the new-generation permanent all-wheel drive system 4MATIC, with fully variable torque distribution.
The new GLA rounds off the extensive SUV portfolio of Mercedes-Benz. With five model series (GLA, GLK, ML, GL and G), the company offers the widest range of any European premium manufacturer, and meets all the individual mobility wishes of its customers.

"With the compact GLA we add a fifth attractive SUV variant to the Mercedes-Benz model portfolio in this constantly growing segment. The GLA impresses mainly with its progressive character and agile handling," says Dr. Joachim Schmidt, Executive Vice President Sales and Marketing Mercedes-Benz Cars. "So I am very confident that the GLA with its fascinating design and high everyday practicality will fill many new customers with enthusiasm for the Mercedes-Benz brand."
As a serene day-to-day companion, the GLA has a flexible and variable interior. The rear seat backrests fold down completely, and the generous luggage compartment is well laid-out and can be loaded without difficulty thanks to the low loading sill and the wide tailgate, which can open automatically as an option. The especially rigid body structure provides a reliable basis for the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with 208 hp and 258 lb.-ft. of torque.

The all-new 2015 GLA-Class will celebrate its world premiere at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt in September.

Design: quality and self-assurance
Sensual clarity as an expression of modern luxury - this was the focus for the designers, and is the design philosophy of Mercedes-Benz. The goal is to create clear contours and smooth surfaces that communicate both high-tech sophistication as well as emotional appeal. The sensual clarity is reflected in the core design values of Tradition, Emotion and Progression. These are the guiding star, and are accentuated differently depending on the model. Mercedes-Benz creates a bridge between modernity and the avant-garde, between tradition and progression. Each model series has an assigned role and has a very specific character, depending on the attributes on which the design focuses. And yet a Mercedes-Benz is always recognizable as a Mercedes-Benz. Because in addition to incorporating new stylistic developments, and in the interests of keeping tradition alive, the designers draw from a gene-pool of styling features typical of the brand.

"With its striking features, the GLA embodies our progressive thinking and enthralls with its off-road proportions," says Gorden Wagener, Vice President Design at Daimler AG. "The clearly defined surfaces convey power and serenity, and we have managed to combine as much emotional appeal as possible with as much clarity as necessary."

As an SUV, the all-new GLA combines the design values of Progression and Tradition, and is the SUV of the future. It is a utility player with hallmark Mercedes-Benz SUV genes, but more youthful, sculptural and full of subtle drama.

The low greenhouse, raised vehicle body and large wheel arches give the GLA great appeal. The clearly defined surfaces are supplemented with sharp lines Daimler Communications, 70546 Stuttgart/Germany Mercedes-Benz - A Daimler Brand that provide definition and precision, varying the sculptured contours of the vehicle body which is sensitively modeled and subtly dramatic.
The prominent and self-assured, upright front end with a central star lends a muscular and superior impression to the GLA. Powerdomes grace the hood as sporty highlights, and the twin-louver grille accentuates the vehicle's width. An impressive front face is ensured by the headlamps and available LED daytime running lamps. This iconic Mercedes-Benz design feature was developed further using tri-functional fiber-optics, and gives the vehicle its characteristic light signature. The front bumper features diamond-pattern grilles in front of the cooling air intakes. The standard fog lamps are integrated into the front bumper. A simulated skid plate and contrasting dark-grey sill panels all-around emphasize the SUV characteristics of the GLA. The panels begin low down at the front bumper and provide protection against stone impact.

The side view of the GLA likewise conveys power and serenity. Following the design philosophy, the "dropping line" emerges at the headlamp and extends to the rear wheel arch. The line of the beltline trim gradually rises from the rear door to the C-pillar. Together the light-catching contour on the curvature and the counter-line to the dropping line at side sill height create an interplay of lines that lends the car flowing power and subtle drama. The side panel has depressions shaped like an excavator's teeth to accentuate the SUV character. Chrome roof rails complete the side profile at the top as standard, and as an optional extra roof rails in high-gloss black are available. The GLA features 18-inch wheels as standard equipment, with 19-inch wheels available as an option.
The muscular shoulders over the rear axle are emphasized even further by the inward taper of the C-pillars. In combination with the divided tail lights, this emphasizes the width of the rear end. Its shape is both dramatic and visually unified.

This impression is heightened by the curved rear window and the sweeping chrome handle between the tail lights. Thanks to the divided tail lights, the cargo opening is conveniently wide. The large roof spoiler is another eyecatching feature. It shares the structure of the rear roof trim and accommodates the third brake light. In the area of the rear bumper trim there are other SUV-specific features such as a robust external loading sill guard and a skid plate available in silver-metallic.

Interior: attractive design features and high quality
The muscular and imposing appearance of the exterior is systematically continued into the interior. This has an especially high-quality feel that is achieved by the contours, choice and combinations of high-grade materials. All trim surfaces are galvanized in silver-shadow for material authenticity, resulting in a metallic finish with a "cool-touch" effect. The impression is one of perfect detail. The heavy emphasis on horizontals, the dynamic design and the highly attractive design features are other high-quality attributes. The same applies to the great precision of joints and gap dimensions.

The dashboard consists of an upper and lower section, allowing surface structures that are different in look and feel. Matte and glossy 3D geometries (graining) create an attractive light effect. The three-dimensional trim section of aluminum or wood lends a new, modern touch to the interior. The available matte satin finish of the wood trim is a further enhancement to the modernity, and makes the surface especially pleasant to the touch.

Five round air vents are integrated into the dashboard. As an exclusive GLA feature, the galvanized bezels around these circular vents echo the SUV-look of the skid plate and side sill panels. The direction of the airflow can be varied by butterfly-shaped inserts.

The large, free-standing display has a high-gloss facing in piano-black and a flush-fitting surround in silver-shadow. This gives the display an especially high-quality look. A 3-spoke steering wheel with 12 function keys and a galvanized chrome clasp is standard equipment. When at rest the needles are in the 6 o'clock position. The needle inlays are always in silver.

The choice of seat upholsteries (standard MB-Tex or optional leather) and color combinations allows plenty of scope for individualization. Sports seats with integrated head restraints are available as part of the optional Interior Package.

The premium quality of the sports seats is emphasized by the opening in the lower section of the head restraint. On the rear of the front seats this space is framed by silver-shadow trim, and can have ambient lighting on request.

Set into a galvanized surround, the controls for the standard power driver’s seat adjustment with memory are arranged on the interior door panels in typical Mercedes style - a unique feature in this segment. The interior door panels are likewise of extremely high quality. The soft, matte surfaces extend right from the beltline to the door pocket. In combination with the equipment packages the door armrests have a high-quality chrome trim strip and standard ambient lighting.

Aerodynamics: goodbye to box-shaped
With the GLA, yet another model series becomes the leader in its segment with respect to aerodynamic efficiency. At 0.66 m2 the frontal area Cd x A, which greatly impacts fuel consumption from around 37 mph, is a top figure.

The good air flow characteristics, which are a major factor in the vehicle's low fuel consumption in everyday conditions, result from numerous aerodynamic optimization measures. These include a low A-pillar step with suitable geometry and aerodynamically optimized exterior mirror housings. The rear end is also streamlined. The measures here include the roof spoiler lip and the aerodynamically shaped tail lights. Rear spoilers at the sides ensure that the airflow breaks off for optimal aerodynamic efficiency. Seals in the front bumper (radiator area incl. around the headlamps) round off the aerodynamic measures.

Extensive underbody paneling, additional paneling in the middle area of the rear axle and an aerodynamically optimized rear silencer followed by a diffuser improve the flow of air beneath the underbody.

Numerous measures have also been taken to reduce wind noise in the GLA. These include a multi-level door sealing concept, additional sealing of the joint between the tailgate and the roof and side seals on the tailgate. Especially rigid window frames prevent the airflow from pulling on the doors at higher speeds, and reduce vibrations. External noise has also been minimized by the low Apillar and exterior mirrors connected to the body by a stem.

Engine and transmission: dynamic claim to leadership
A modern four-cylinder engine with turbocharging and direct injection, as well as an ECO start/stop function as standard, make for superior efficiency. The new GLA-Class also takes the lead in its segment with its dynamic performance figures.

The 2015 GLA250 4MATIC features a turbocharged 2.0-liter gasoline engine that generates 208 hp and 258 lb-ft. of torque. The GLA250 4MATIC sprints from zero to 60 mph in only 6.4 seconds, underlining the dynamic claim to leadership of the GLA-Class. It has a top speed of 145 mph. The engine is mated to a 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission which unites comfort and sportiness. The front-wheel drive GLA250 will be available in the U.S. in early 2015.

Suspension: for guaranteed recreational fun
With the new GLA Mercedes-Benz is adding a new member to the successful SUV family. This compact model reinterprets the SUV concept in a new, modern way, because the GLA is less imposing than previous SUVs, and therefore fits perfectly into the day-to-day urban lifestyle. At the same time the optional 4MATIC all-wheel drive, the robust body structure and the variable interior concept guarantee plenty of recreational enjoyment. Motto: away from the daily routine. Rough terrain - the beach, loose ground, dirt roads, off the beaten path - all of these are no problem for the GLA.

The chassis of the GLA features a McPherson front axle and an independent multilink rear suspension. Three control arms and one trailing arm per wheel manage the incoming forces. This means that longitudinal and lateral dynamics are independent of one another. The wheel carriers and spring control arms are made of aluminum to reduce unsprung masses. In the version with 4MATIC, the rear axle carrier is isolated with rubber bushings for the benefit of ride comfort.

Compared to conventional systems, the electromechanical power steering provides better feedback to the driver and makes an important contribution to the vehicle's overall efficiency, as the servo assistance only requires energy when the vehicle is actually steered. It also allows various steering assistance functions that are initiated by the ESP® control unit. These include countersteering when the vehicle oversteers, steering corrections when braking on surfaces with different levels of grip, reducing the effects of frontwheel drive on the steering and compensation of cross-winds and road camber.

The GLA has an extremely rigid body, and therefore the basis for stable and safe handling characteristics both on and off the road, as well as a high level of NVH comfort. There are additional reinforcements to the B-pillars, front damper domes, side members and underbody.

Even more grip: 4MATIC all-wheel drive
The GLA from Mercedes-Benz is optionally available with a new generation of the 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive system, featuring fully variable torque distribution. This all-wheel drive system excels with even more grip and outstanding agility while also enhancing driving safety and energy efficiency.

The components of the 4MATIC system include the power take-off to the rear axle that is integrated into the 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission, and the rear-axle gear with integrated, electrohydraulically controlled multi-disc clutch. This set-up allows fully variable distribution of the drive torque between front and rear axles. Additional benefits of this design are a lower weight than is available from the competition, and high efficiency.

Confident on light terrain: off-road functions
Models with 4MATIC are equipped with DSR (Downhill Speed Regulation) and an off-road transmission mode as standard. DSR is activated by a control button in the center console, and assists the driver on demanding downhill stretches by maintaining a slow, manually selected vehicle speed within the physical limits when negotiating downhill gradients. This is done with the help of the engine and transmission control systems, and by specific braking intervention.

When the off-road transmission mode is selected using the transmission mode switch, the gearshift points and accelerator characteristics are modified so that the requirements for driving on light off-road terrain and especially loose surfaces can be met. In combination with the standard single-disc CD audio system with USB Port, Bluetooth connectivity and HD Radio or optional COMAND system, the head unit can also be switched to an off-road display. The steering angle, the selected off-road transmission mode and a compass are displayed there. The roll angle in degrees, the gradient in percent and activation of Downhill Speed Regulation DSR are also indicated.

Smart safety: advanced assistance systems
Numerous driving assistance systems offer support in the GLA and reduce the driver's workload. Standard features for the SUV include ATTENTION ASSIST drowsiness detection and radar-based COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST with adaptive Brake Assist, which now helps to protect against collisions from a speed of only 4 mph.

This feature combines with DISTRONIC PLUS (part of the Driver Assistance Package) to become COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST PLUS. This incorporates an additional function: If a danger of collision arises and the driver fails to respond, the system is able to carry out autonomous braking at speeds of up to 124 mph, thereby reducing the severity of collisions with slower or stopping vehicles. The system also brakes in response to stationary vehicles at a speed of up to 18 mph, and is able to prevent rear-end collisions at speeds of up to 12 mph.

Established assistance systems, such as Blind Spot and Lane Keeping Assist are also available for the GLA. PARKTRONIC w/ Park Assist (optional) allows automatic parking in parallel and perpendicular parking spaces.

"Always on": the multimedia systems
The latest multimedia generation deployed in the GLA boasts new functions and a modified graphic color scheme.

Like all models in the Mercedes-Benz lineup, the GLA comes with the brand’s acclaimed connectivity service mbrace2, providing users with an extensive range of online and concierge services and apps all linking seamlessly to smartphones for use inside and outside the car. By using cloud technology, mbrace2 is always up to date and offers users wide-ranging and flexible access to content.

Quick Reference Guide: 2015 GLA-Class
Customer Availability:
  • 2015 GLA250 4MATIC – Fall 2014
  • 2015 GLA250 – Early 2015
  • 2015 GLA250 4MATIC - all-wheel drive, five-door premium compact SUV
    (208 hp, 258 lb-ft.)
  • 2015 GLA250 – front-wheel drive, five-door premium compact SUV
    (208 hp, 258 lb-ft.)
Pricing (excluding D&D of $925):
  • GLA250 4MATIC – $TBA
  • GLA250 - $TBA
Standard Feature Highlights:
  • 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission
  • Electromechanical power steering
  • Chrome roof rails
  • 18” 5-twin-spoke wheels
  • Ambient lighting
Optional Feature Highlights:
  • New-generation 4MATIC all-wheel
  • Power liftgate
  • Blind Spot Assist
  • Lane Keeping Assist
  • PARKTRONIC w/Park Assist
  • Panorama Sunroof
  • Sport Package

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Stolen! 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air in Woolsey, GA

Sometime early in the morning of Sunday July 28th, 2013 a thief or thieves made off with the beautiful 30-year pride and joy of a Woolsey, Georgia resident who would greatly appreciate your help in getting it back. The vehicle in question is a 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air and it is believed to have gone missing in the early hours between 2:30-7am on that sad morning.

The photo shows two types of wheels because the owner was trying to figure out which set he preferred when the pics were taken, but the missing car was fitted with the set as shown on the rear wheels all the way around at the time it went missing. Of course the wheels could have been removed by now, the car could have received a rush respray job to hide it's origins, etc., so please be aware of anyone suddenly posting freshly painted parts, or parts for this specific vehicle who may not commonly deal in these parts or know much about them upon further questioning. That doesn't make someone a thief mind you, but it may be worth reporting if you have any suspicion the parts came from this (or any) stolen vehicle.

The owner asks that you contact him directly at 404-456-2113 with any information. You should not attempt to approach or apprehend any possible suspects but rather take as detailed notes as possible about where and when you saw the car and call the number above as soon as possible. We already know the power of the internet in solving these incredibly personal and violating crimes, so let's add another success story to the stack of recovered dream machines! The owner is apparently offering a $10,000 reward, but the feeling of helping reunite a fellow car lover with their cherished vintage ride would probably be even more compelling for many of us gear heads.
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