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The annual Cattle Baron's Ball goes off Sept. 29th and will feature music, local food and a special vehicle auction. All proceeds will go to the American Cancer Society. But, before that starts, auction attendees need to have their collective whistles whetted. To that end, a preview of the auction vehicle will happen at the Nieman Marcus store at the Somerset Collection in Troy, Mich. Potential buyers will get their first look at the 2013 Ford Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca. This is a one-of-a-kind Candy Apple Red Mustang with an adjustable, race-ready suspension, Ford Racing wheels and a coupon for the TracKey, which allows full use of the pony's power. The winner of the car will also get complete build documentation including photographs and a certificate stating its one-of-one status. It also comes with the Boss Track Attack program, which is held at Miller Motorsports Park in Toole, Utah. That includes instructor-led training and track time, and an extra day to run hot laps with the Ford Mustang Team. To sweeten the deal even further, the Ball is throwing in a private tour of the Auto Alliance International plant in Flat Rock, Mich., an opportunity to meet the Mustang…
Wednesday, 12 September 2012 00:00

Notes from the Driverless Car Summit

Autonomous cars by 2022? That's the question posed by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International's (AUVSI) Driverless Car Summit held recently in Detroit. Whether you consider the idea of robotic cars fact or science fiction of the type that's always a decade from reality, the lesson from this convention is that the technological change is inevitable. AUVSI describes itself as the world's largest non-profit devoted to unmanned systems and robotics, including military vehicles and aircraft. Proponents of driverless cars point to reduced stress in daily commutes and more productivity. Autonomous cars also will give you more time to Google a moveable feast of websites. The online search monolith has consistently declined comment to this and other publications about its driverless car program ("Trend," June 2011), but Chris Urmson, Google Incorporated's tech lead on the driverless car program, gave some details.   "Our vehicles apply brakes and throttle a lot more smoothly than drivers do," Urmson said. Google's program already has yielded its own law and license plate in Nevada, and California may follow suit. The autonomous Toyota Priuses are tested by taking 100-mile trips from the company's Mountain View's headquarters, crossing various bridges into San Francisco. Each car has…
Monday, 10 September 2012 18:37

BMW introduces anniversary edition 760Li

Twenty-five years ago, BMW delivered the first V12 7-series sedan. It used 5.0 liters of displacement to make a whopping 296 hp, which was powerful for its time.   Now the marque from Bavaria introduced the 25th anniversary edition of that V12 sedan with more displacement and much more power. Only 15 examples of the model will be produced for the U.S. market. The cars will be delivered early next year.   The 2013 BMW 760Li will sport badges reading “V-12 25 Years Edition” and will be offered in a full range of colors. Champagne Merino leather is standard along with black piping. Floor mats, footrests, doorsills and headrests are all uniquely designed as well. Rear-seat entertainment is standard, as are 20-inch wheels, Alcantara trim and piano-black inlays.   A 6.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V12 making 535 hp and 550 lb-ft is under the hood. That's good for a 0-to-60-mph sprint of 4.5 seconds and a limited top speed of 130 mph without the M Sport Package, 155 mph with the option. Those specs are made more impressive by the sedan's 5,015-pound curb weight.   The cost of the special edition is $159,695 including shipping charges. The government adds a $2,100 gas…
Monday, 09 July 2012 17:53

Why Young People Are Driving Less

Automakers pitch new small cars, from the Fiat 500 to the Ford Fiesta and Chevrolet Sonic to the Acura ILX, as models designed to appeal to America's urban-oriented Generation Y. Marketing experts fill product presentations with statistics and anecdotes of how tuned-in youth fetishize smartphones, the Internet, and keeping in touch with friends via Facebook from their loft apartments in "walkable" cities.Cars? Not so much. Click to view GalleryThe problem begins with the assumption that youth moving back to the cities want A- or B-segment hatchbacks, when they're more likely to spend the money on smartphones, tablets, laptops, and $2000-plus bikes.Gen Y has car enthusiasts, of course, just like every other age group. As always, car enthusiasts are a minority. Today's young people appear to have less interest in driving and owning a car than do their mainstream, non-enthusiast older counterparts.The Great Recession's effect on the ability of 16- to 34-year-olds to find a good-paying job has exacerbated this, according to the Frontier Group's study, "Transportation and the New Generation," by Benjamin Davis and Tony Dutzik, released last spring. If the U.S. automotive market has truly recovered from its 10.4-million-unit nadir in 2009 to an expected 13.5- to 14-million this…
Sunday, 08 July 2012 12:00

2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

Shelby GT500 conquers the strip We could see the evidence long before the cars themselves, a column of black billowing from somewhere within the confines of Atlanta Dragway. By the time we pulled up to the drag strip itself, the smoke—which climbed and spread out until it obscured most of the timing tower—had started to dissipate. A minute later, a roar erupted, and a thick plume appeared anew. The gathered mass of Ford engineers had been burning rubber and tearing up the strip for who knows how long before we showed up, their official task to find the optimum launch settings for each of the 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500s queued in the staging lanes. But one look at their faces and we knew better: Official, schmofficial. They were having as much fun as they could before having to cede the asphalt to a bunch of spoiled journalists. Early forecasts had pegged the car, with its all-aluminum 5.8-liter supercharged V8 engine, at 650 hp, but final specs put it higher, at 662 hp and 631 lb-ft of torque. Ford likes to proudly remind all comers, in the finest American muscle-car “mine is bigger than yours” tradition, that this pony car…
Saturday, 07 July 2012 12:00

2012 Jaguar XFR

ROAD TEST EDITOR JONATHAN WONG: Back when we had our long-term Jaguar XF Supercharged, I always used to get stopped in parking lots and approached at gas stations asking what I was driving. And why wouldn't they? The XF was a stellar-looking car then, and it's still eye-catching in 2012. The 2012 model year saw the debut of a facelifted XF with a revised grille, hood and front fenders now with triangular side vents. And with LED accent lights being all the rage, Jaguar added those to the front headlight assembly is what they call a “J-Blade” arrangement. On this XFR there are larger lower fascia openings, black mesh grille inserts, a rear spoiler, rear diffuser and quad exhaust outlets. Inside, the seats are new for more support, and more hard buttons were added to the center stack to make navigating through the touch-screen interface quicker. Most importantly, the $13,900 price premium over the XF Supercharged gets you 510 hp in the XFR, which is a 40-hp jump to propel you to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds, instead of 4.9 seconds. Not only is the 5.0-liter blown engine responsive and powerful, but it sounds great. And as always, the six-speed…
Get used to the aesthetics of the Mazda CX-5 – you're going to be seeing a lot more of it. Yes, the automaker's new Kodo design language will be rapidly spreading across the entire lineup, and that's clearly evident in these spy shots of the next-generation Mazda6 wagon. Friendly as the Nagare styling may have been, we're happy that Mazdas won't be smiling at us anymore. Here, we can clearly see the automaker's new corporate face with prominent details like a larger, more upright grille with a strong character line that extends into the headlamp surrounds. Around back, there's a rakish rump design with taillamps that appear to have been pulled straight off of the larger CX-5 crossover. Under that shapely new skin, expect a full suite of Skyactiv technologies to be employed – everything from lightweight materials to more efficient powertrains. Expect Mazda's 2.2-liter Skyactiv-D diesel engine to be the breadwinner elsewhere in the world. Here in the U.S., it's unclear if we'll even get the wagon variant, let alone the diesel. Mazda has confirmed that the Skyactiv-D engine will be coming to the States at some point, though what vehicle it will reside in is still unknown. The…
Thursday, 05 July 2012 20:13

MINI Confirms 2013 Arrival Of The Paceman

MINI officially joined the ranks of other automakers trying to broaden out the definition of "coupe" when it confirmed the arrival next year of the Paceman, a two-door version of its Countryman crossover SUV. MINI showed the Paceman as a "concept car" at the 2011 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. MINI made the announcement that the Paceman will arrive at dealerships next year on the first day of its MINI Takes The States cross-country rally that started in New Jersey on July 4 and finish in Los Angeles on July 14. Details of the car will probably be revealed at the Paris Auto Show in September. Power for the Paceman show-car comes from Mini's John Cooper Works 1.6-litre twin-scroll turbocharged engine that puts out 211 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque (207 with the overboost function). The Paceman is expected to be offered with both a two-wheel-drive set up and ALL4 all-wheel drive, as well as offered with both manual and automatic gearbox. Coupes have traditionally been designed off sedans as the two-door versions of those cars, such as the two door BMW 3-Series, or purpose-engineered as a coupe only like the Chevy Camaro. But with the popularity…
Monday, 02 July 2012 20:34

Talking cars prevent accidents

By Logan Patmon Envision driving down the road and your cell phone rings, in the split second it takes you to look down you are T-boned by another car running a red light. These are the types of accidents that the new Vehicle-to-Vehicle communication system is designed to prevent. The new communication system, often called V2V, allows cars to wirelessly communicate their location, speed, road conditions and other information to vehicles around them. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation "V2V communications will enable active safety systems that can assist drivers in preventing 76 percent of the crashes on the roadway, thereby reducing fatalities and injuries that occur each year." V2V isn't a completely new idea; many luxury cars on the road have similar technologies that warn drivers of other cars. The difference is that existing systems use cameras and lasers that can't see around large objects or sharp turns that may obstruct the driver's vision, while V2V can because of the wireless system it uses. The new technology has the capability to warn drives of oncoming cars well before they can be seen, of cars that are likely to run red lights because of their speed and of ice…
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