Much of the reported tale of unintended acceleration doesn't hold up to initial investigations.
For one thing, the wear on the brakes doesn't suggest that they were fully applied over a sustained period at high speeds, which is a key element in Sikes' story. Instead, the report suggests that Sikes' brakes were actually applied intermittently, and with moderate force.
By Roger Hart
Noted car collectors Sam and Emily Mann won their fourth Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance Best in Show award with a 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster (with covered spare). This car is one of only three known to have been built.
Originally shipped to the German embassy in Argentina, the car has been owned by the Manns for about 18 years. This Best in Show from the 15th-annual Amelia Island concours goes with four Best in Shows from the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance and three Bests from the Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance.
Economy and environment deliver a 1-2 punch to performance
Car nuts have been lucky these past 15 years: We've lived through a new Golden Age of performance. Asian sport compacts created a whole new category of fast, furious fun. Detroit muscle cars were reborn. And in the sports car arena, we’ve been spoiled by everything from the best Nissan Zs, 'Vettes and Porsches in history to unimaginable, million-dollar supercars like the Koenigsegg CCX and Bugatti Veyron.
Unfortunately, this period of performance is starting to come to an end. Between cash-poor consumers and a coming wave of carbon-dioxide and fuel-economy rules, some brake action was inevitable. Ford and GM long ago scrapped their respective high-performance vehicle divisions; now, Mitsubishi has shuttered its Ralliart racing-parts division in the Japanese market (though the company may still slap the "Ralliart" name on its sportier models).
Even the most successful performance groups, such as BMW’s M Division and Mercedes’ AMG, are looking to reinvent themselves through downsized engines, fewer cylinders and some semblance of fuel efficiency -- something that didn’t matter at all when people were hurling cash at models that slurped at 12 mpg while costing owners and manufacturers even more by way of gas-guzzler taxes and multimillion-dollar annual fines for automakers that couldn’t meet CAFE fuel-economy requirements.
Scottish police repurpose confiscated Audi Q7
What you see to the left is a high-style, black Audi Q7 TDI emblazoned with the livery of the Strathclyde (in Scotland) police force.
Why would the police have an Audi Q7, you ask? Because they seized it during an operation against a criminal gang in the city, and decided to keep it themselves (rather than auction it off) as a symbol and a warning to those who make their living from illegal means: What you have today, we may have tomorrow.
A journalist's research suggests a strong chance that the recent Toyota Prius incident was staged
Michael Fumento, director of the nonprofit Independent Journalism Project, does what he says pretty much no one in the mainstream media did last week and calls out in Forbes the "runaway" Toyota Prius story as the work of a fabricator. (We mentioned the story briefly in this post, and spent some time wondering how someone could be in a runaway car for almost half an hour without knowing how to put it in neutral.)
James Sikes, the man whose 2008 Prius allegedly sped out of control, has made some contradictory claims. For example, he said he didn't think to change gears or cut the engine, but at another point during an interview said that he was too scared to take his hands off the wheel -- despite the fact that he was, according to his own story and a recorded call to 911, holding his phone.
More damning is that Sikes recently filed for bankruptcy after racking up $700,000 in debt, and has a history of filing insurance claims for alleged stolen items, including $58,000 worth of gear in 2001.
Gizmag on Arctic Trucks expeditions.
This goes for an Arctic Trucks expedition through some of the world's most breathtaking geography, in the backcountry of Iceland. (I mean, check out that shot -- unbelievable.)
Arctic Trucks was the company that took Clarkson, May and Hammond to the North Pole in 2007, and (depending on your budget) it can do the same for you. The company tricks out Toyota Land Cruisers and other 4WD bad boys with enormous tires -- up to 44 inches, as opposed to the standard 29-inch fare -- and performs some serious undercarriage, suspension, body and transmission mods to ready the rides for some of the most serious off-road conditions imaginable. They can even get through, or over, piles of soft snow, which is no easy feat.
If you happen to be in the area (yes, in Iceland), Arctic Trucks does day trips. However, those making the journey from the U.S. should probably spring for a two- to five-day trip (or longer -- the company will plan to your specifications, if it's possible.)
Best of all, you get to drive these beasts yourself.
Check out Gizmag for an entire rundown of the outfit, and for the whole picture gallery. In the meantime, check out another couple of shots after the jump.
By Greg Migliore
The incentive is for new customers of the R/T, R/T Classic and SRT8 models. Sorry, V6 guys, you have to get the Hemi to get the cash. The offer is good through April 30, just in time for spring cruising. R/T models are rated at 376 hp churned from the 5.7-liter Hemi, while the 6.1-liter SRT pushes output to 425 hp.
The cash can be used for a variety of enhancements, including a factory-installed exterior package with hood scoop and rear wing, and interior trim with special sills, pedals and shifter. The exterior enhancements cost $1,995.
Or go with some performance upgrades and add a cat-back dual exhaust or a coil-over suspension kit. Customer-care packages for maintenance also are available.
Taking a spin in the machine inspired by -- and built for -- Lambo's legendary test driver.
MSN Autos' own Mike Meredith reports in with every driver's dream: a ride in the Lamborghini built for the man with one of the best jobs in the world.
If there's one marque that has stood out as the ultimate dream car for generations, it’s Lamborghini. Many have dreamed of one day sitting in the driver’s seat, but few have ever had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of one of these ferocious machines.
I was lucky enough to get the chance to test out a very special Lamborghini: the Gallardo LP550-2 Valentino Balboni. Not that every Lamborghini isn't special, of course, but the Valentino Balboni edition is a tribute to the eponymous test driver who is equal parts legend and cult hero to Lambo aficionados everywhere.
Balboni has been testing and fine-tuning Lamborghinis since the time of the revered Miura, in the '60s, and has been instrumental in the development of each model since, including the current Gallardo and Murcielago models. Originally hired by founder Ferruccio Lamborghini in 1967, Balboni has been behind the wheel of every Lamborghini prototype built since 1973, and has actually tested most of the production cars that have left the factory since that time.
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Clifford Atiyeh has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own. Raised in Volvos, he has grown to love fast, irresponsible vehicles of all kinds. He is the senior news editor at MSN Autos and also reports for Car and Driver, Road & Track, The Boston Globe and other publications.
In the garage: 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (not his)
Doug Newcomb has covered car technology for over 20 years for outlets ranging from Rolling Stone to Edmunds.com. In 2008, he published his first book, "Car Audio for Dummies" (Wiley). He lives and drives in Hood River, Ore., with his wife and two kids, who share his passion for cars and technology.
In the garage: 1996 Chevrolet Impala SS, two 1984 Chevrolet Blazers, 2008 Honda CR-V
James Tate learned to drive stick at age 13 in a 1988 Land Cruiser - in La Paz, Bolivia. He's since been a mechanic, on a pit crew and has wrenched on every car he's owned since his first 1989 Honda CRX Si (and won't stop until the car is a 1973 Porsche 911 RS). His work has appeared in Car and Driver, Popular Mechanics, Automobile and others.
In the garage: 1995 Porsche 911 Carrera, 1988 BMW M5