New Aston GT comes in under $100K

The new 2015 Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT, revealed last week at the New York Auto Show, will come in a hundred bucks under 100 grand.

The ‘affordable’ GT Coupe gets the good ole 430hp, 4.7-liter V8 with a choice of manual or optional seven-speed paddle-shift auto transmissions, and a top speed of 190mph.

The Brit carmaker has also leaned out the 0-60mph time to 4.6 seconds through some timing and spark changes, based on the RON of the fuel used.

The base model also gets some S goodies such as alcantara trims on the S bucket seats and carbon trimmings, black magnesium paddle-shifts on the auto, and the one on show had a sweet sticker pack to boot.

The GT will be available in convertible as well as coupe - though the latter is not a sub-six price - and will roll out into the US by the third quarter.

Launch Edition launched at NYAS

Alfa Romeo debuts with Launch Edition in two colors - Alfa Red and White

Italian marque Alfa Romeo is finally selling cars on US shores again, though it will be a limited number of a rather expensive model only.

Alfa has previewed its 4C Launch Edition at the 2014 New York Auto Show, revealing it will sell 500 of the mid-engined, turbocharged sportster in the US shortly after its European launch later this year (more may follow, but this is the allocation set for the first run).

We will get three colours (Alfa Red, Rosso Competizione or Madreperla White), and the cars will sport US-spec only additions such as unique forged alloys and carbon fibre spoilers and inserts.

Of course, Alfa is keeping mum about the price for now, thoguh it should hover between $54,000 for a base model up to about $70,000 for all the goods. We will know by June.

OFFICIAL RELEASE: All-new Alfa Romeo 4C Debuts at the 2014 New York Auto Show, Marks the Iconic Italian Brand’s Return to North America

2014 New York Auto Show debut of all-new 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C coupe and limited-edition 4C Launch Edition marks the Italian sports car brand’s return to the North American market
Mid-engine proportions and inspiration from the brand’s racing traditions highlight Alfa Romeo 4C’s purposeful design for maximum performance
Alfa Romeo engineers leveraged advanced materials and technological solutions from Formula 1, including a carbon fiber monocoque, aluminum chassis structures and a composite body shell for an ultra-lightweight coupe with supercar-level performance
State-of-the-art powertrain technology: all-aluminum 1750 cc direct-injection turbocharged engine with intercooler, dual variable-valve timing and advanced scavenging technology is paired to a blistering fast Alfa TCT twin-clutch transmission
Alfa DNA selector optimizes the Alfa Romeo 4C’s powertrain and chassis control calibrations to the level of driving performance and capability needed
Excellence made in Italy: Alfa Romeo 4C combines the best technical and manufacturing competencies of two brands, Alfa Romeo and Maserati
Available this June and designed for America’s “Alfisti,” the Alfa Romeo 4C Launch Edition includes unique appointments and is limited to 500 serialized coupes

April 16, 2014 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - Marking the Italian brand’s highly anticipated return to North America, the all-new 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C makes its New York Auto Show debut – a mid-engine design inspired by the brand’s legendary racing history, state-of-the-art carbon fiber monocoque and all-aluminum turbocharged engine influenced by Formula 1, and advanced technological solutions, all to deliver supercar-level performance and driving exhilaration. Read the rest of this entry »

The Prancing Pony switches trainers

If your eyes were peeled at last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, you would have seen Luca di Montezemolo’s face after the start, watching the Mercs and Red Bulls pull away, and leaving Ferrari in their wake. he diodnt just look disappointed, he actually turned and walked off in disgust.

It may come as no surprise to eagle-eyed viewers that Stefano Domenicali, the long-serving team principal of Ferrari’s F1 team, has resigned.

Domenicali has been at the head of the team for six years, and began his career with a constructors’ title in 2008. However in recent years the team has faltered, finishing up last year with a dismal result to the Merc and Renault-engined cars.

More embarrasing is that the problem is clearly not the drivers; Massa was outed in preference of Raikkonen, who won his fair share of podiums last year for Lotus. Now, Massa is further up the field than either Raikkonon or Alonso; in a Williams no less!

With all the money spent on the sport of F1, it is simply not feasible for the Prancing Pony to continue without results, though it is hardly Domanicali’s fault.

Marco Mattiacci will move up form Ferrari North America to the role from this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix.

F1 jockeys starving themselves for hundredths

Along with engines, turbos and ERS, the Formula One changed its minimum weight limit for driver and car combinations for the 2014 season. The minimum weight was raised, now at 692kg, but on the ultra-competitive world of F1, it seems the weight is still not high enough.

It would seem the rules have forced some drivers to go into an extreme diet to keep their weight down, despite the strength and endurance needed for the top sport in auto racing.

The hardest hit are the taller drivers. Jenson Button may run marathons, but the man looks to have aged about 20 years from last season, he is so thin now.

And now, according to Motorsport.com, Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Jean-Éric Vergne ended up in hospital between the Australian and Malaysian Grands Prix last month after trying to shed those last few kegs.

Vergne is 6′ in height and 152 pounds, while his new teammate Danny Kvyat is 5′11″ and 134 pounds.

“The weight difference between myself and my teammate was making me lose four tenths (per lap),” Vergne told French local media.

“I did a diet this winter, but you get to certain limits that the body can no longer take. Actually, I was in hospital between the Grands Prix in Australia and Malaysia because of a lack of water and a little bit of lack of everything. I was very weak.

“Frankly, this (situation) is stupid,” he insisted. “Formula one cars are very difficult to drive and we need all of our skills. Being forced to lose weight is not good.”

Schumacher stirs

Former F1 champ Michael Schumacher is reportedly showing “moments of consciousness and awakening,” according to an official statement released by his agent, Sabine Kehm.
This follows an horrific skiing accident last December, where Schumacher hit his head and cracked his helmet, putting him a coma. Originally medically induced, doctors hve been trying to ‘wake’ Schumacher for the past two months.
“Michael is making progress on his way,” said Kehm. “He shows moments of consciousness and awakening. We are on his side during his long and difficult fight, together with the team of the hospital in Grenoble, and we remain confident.
“We would like to thank you all for the continuous sympathies. At the same time we again ask for understanding that we do not intend to disclose details. This is necessary to protect the privacy of Michael and his family, and to enable the medical team to work in full calmness.”
After recent news of Shumacher’s wife shelling out $1.6 million to turn several rooms of their home into a palliative care suite, this may be the best news yet of a possible recovery.

Warehouse playhouse

There’s some cool infoblogs and undercover vids out there oN the web - in fact, you have to wade through the really dreadful stuff to dig out the bits of gold like the fellas who have brought us “How To Build A Drift Car For Under $5,000″.

Their latest video encompasses any self-respecting car fanatic’s dream - a rear-drive ca, a flat piece of concrete and full creative licence to cut sick.

The driver is Chris Forsberg, and the car is his demo V8 Infiniti M45. Enjoy it HERE.

Paul Walker crash findings point to speed - and old tyres

The Porsche Carrera GT of Fast & Furious franchise star Paul Walker, who died while sitting shotgun in the vehicle beside friend and racing driver Roger Rodas, was travelling at double the posted road limit when the car crashed and ignited, taking both of their lives.

It’s less than the media beat-up of over 100 miles an hour, but they were still speeding. The single car collision happened at about 3:26PM on Saturday, November 30, 2013 in the city of Santa Clarita. The posted speed limit in the area of the collision is 45mph.

More interestingly is the findings about the super-rare GT. While the car itself has been ruled out of fault in the accident, it’s demise may have something to do with the tyres it was shod in at the time, whicvh were nine years old. Nine years to perishable rubber which is brought out on the odd specialoccasion and treated to high levels of sudden heat and cooling is, well, a recipe for disaster.

It does raise another question - how many other examples of precious metal on our roads, used only on weekends or the odd blat to clear out the pipes, would have similar shoes?

OFFICIAL RELEASE: Cause of Collision that claimed the lives of Paul Walker & Roger Rodas

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s traffic collision experts have determined the speed of the vehicle driven by Roger Rodas, that claimed his life and the life of Paul Walker, was between 80 and 93 Miles Per Hour (MPH) at the time the car impacted a power pole and several trees.

“Investigators determined the cause of the fatal solo-vehicle collision was unsafe speed for the roadway conditions,” said Commander Mike Parker, North (County) Patrol Division, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Read the rest of this entry »

Flat four for Boxer, Cayman… 911?

The old rumor a four-cylinder engine for the compact mid-engined Porsche Boxter has reared again. It’s an oldie but a goodie, on the table for more than a decade when the Boxter idea first became a reality.

However, according to Automotive News, Porsche is finally preparing to launch a new flat four, based on the six but shortened and centered. Reducing the cylinders should enable both cars to handle and brake more efficiently, plus it cuts manufacturing costs and R&D.

Porsche has confirmed the report that both the Boxter and the Cayman will indeed be available for the first time with flat-four boxer engines soon. It’s not an alien prospect - Porsche offered a flat-four engine from 1938 to the mid 1970s (and the 944 inline four-cylinder engines of the 1990s).

Porsche chief Matthias Muller indicates that the new engine could produce as much as 395 horsepower, 55 horses more than the current Cayman GTS figures.

The big rumor now is: will it make it to the 911?

The One Ring is sold - and will stay

After a year of worry and rumour, it is with great relief that we report one of world’s greatest racetracks, the Nurburgring in Germany, will remain open, running, and in German hands. Phew!

This time last year, we reported that the Ring was for sale for $160 million. it sold for far less - Düsseldorf-based Capricorn Development bought the track for 77 million euros ($106.8 million), and it’s promising to invest a further 25 million euros ($34.7 million) into repairs and revisions.

The company will take over full ownership on January 1, 2015.

Beer saves the day!

There’s a lot riding on the new pairing of Thierry Neuville and Hyundai. After a lacklustre debut that has seen the promising young Belgian and codriver Nicolas Gilsoul well into the third round of the year without a finish due to mechanical woes, the pressure was on at last weekend’s Rally Mexico.

Running in second place, with all the hard work and stages done, Neuville was suddenly struck by another gremlin, the radiator leaking out all over the road on the last liaison back to the ceremonial finish.

Perhaps they had opened the beers too early - but it was lucky that they had. A huge liter-plus glass bottle of Corona had been handed to the competitors at the final check point of the last competitive ‘power stage”.

It was enough to top up the radiator by the side of the road, and get them to the finishing line.

Ironically, Neuville doesn’t actually drink… Yay for beer!