The BatPod replica from Chopper City USA.
Well, it's ultrafast and ultranimble in the movies, anyway; in real life -- far less so, especially the nimble part. While the bike certainly looks the part, the 850cc V-Twin engine runs power to a pair of 360-section tires -- yep, both front and rear tires are that large -- making the BatPod replica about as easy to manage as a drunken elephant, as you can see in the video after the jump.
The motorcycle, amazingly, is street-legal, and an engineering accomplishment by the guys at Chopper City USA despite its handling issues. Bike owner Pankaj Shah says its a tribute to his love for the movie that first showcased it. Based on the way the thing handles, we have a feeling Shah will be reminded that love hurts.
Check out Gizmag's source article for a full gallery of pictures, including during construction.
Voluntary recalls for Toyota Avalon, Lexus LX 470.
The recalls affect mostly U.S. vehicles, though a smaller number in Japan are also affected.
In the States, 373,000 Toyota Avalons from model year 2000 to 2004 are being recalled to fix an improper casting of the steering lock bar, which can cause cracks to develop on the surface if unaddressed. These cracks can potentially lead to the lock bar breaking, which could lead to a crash if the steering wheel locks. Of the accidents possibly linked to the defect, no injuries have been reported.
A steering issue -- though a different one -- is also at the heart of the voluntary recall of about 39,000 Lexus LX 470s from model year 2003 to 2007.
By Izzi Bendall
Bloomberg reports that the fuel sensors can become wedged against the tank, causing the fuel gauge to display a higher amount of fuel than what is present.
Fewer used cars purchased for new teen drivers.
Its not just numbers, but percentages: Whereas five years ago a full 17.4 percent of used cars were sold for use by teens, this year it's less than 11 percent.
By Greg Migliore
The Automotive X Prize is nearing the finish line.
The $10 million contest to produce a highly fuel-efficient car has moved to the validation stage, where the competitors will be tested on a dynamometer. The entries that exceed 100 mpg and meet performance and emissions requirements will win. Cash will be given out in September.
The event began in 2008 and had an original field of 136 vehicles from 111 teams all vying for a piece of the bounty. Now, just nine vehicles from seven teams remain. They just completed on-track testing at Michigan International Speedway and passed technical inspections.
Reports say Toyota to ax slow-selling SUV.
So it seems for Toyota's full-size Sequoia, whose days -- according to reports from Pickuptrucks.com -- are numbered. Looks like Toyota will discontinue the massive sport-ute at the end of its current lifecycle. This is likely due not only to slow sales but to an effort to comply with upcoming government fuel-economy regulations that will go into effect in 2015. The four-wheel-drive versions of all three V8 engines get a measly 13 mpg city/18 mpg highway.
With strong financial backing and a rapidly evolving lineup of new cars, the Swedes are ready to battle back from the brink and regain the loyalty of a once-fanatical fan base.
Saab has kicked off its new, post-GM era, looking to recapture its Scandinavian heritage -- along with the fanatically loyal fans who abandoned the brand as its products grew stale and its competitiveness foundered.
Dutch attorney and entrepreneur Victor Muller, founder of tiny sports-car maker Spyker, acquired Saab in a GM fire sale this year for just $74 million in the ultimate David-buys-Goliath scenario. And while Muller’s audacious rescue of Saab made for a great story, now comes the really hard part: reviving the moribund badge. Saab sold just 8,000 cars in the U.S. last year, down from a high of 49,000 in 2003. It didn’t help that for more than a year, not a single new Saab was unloaded at U.S. docks, as GM wound down the brand and looked to sell off whatever was left.
“It’s hard to make a Saab buyer go away,” the company's chairman told me yesterday at Monticello Motor Club, a private racetrack north of New York, where I drove Saab’s handsome new 9-5 sedan. But with huge millstones around Saab’s neck, including a scanty lineup and a 9-5 that hadn’t been redesigned for 13 years, GM-owned Saab managed the difficult task of sending those loyalists elsewhere -- and Muller doesn't need a detective to know where many went.
“Audi stole all our customers,” Muller said, citing the German brand as the one most often chosen by former Saab owners. Now Muller, along with Saab President and CEO Jan Ǻke Jonsson, plan to steal customers back with the widest-ranging lineup in Saab history. It includes the 9-5, followed next year by the 9-4X crossover, a new 9-3 in 2012, and probably a small 9-2 after that.
Toyota says the FT-86 isn't facing delays, even if the world thinks that maybe it should be.
Nearly as soon as Toyota announced that it would bring the FT-86 concept car to life, rumors about the project's demise started circulating. While some insiders, myself included, were busy salivating over photos of the vehicle -- which is one of the most attractive to roll out of the Japanese automaker’s design studio in years -- others with more conservative minds were saying that the company needed to put the FT-86 on the back burner in favor of other, more pressing projects. Given Toyota's recent troubles, it makes sense that the company would want to postpone more fun-loving projects like the FT-86. So why am I left feeling that shelving this car would be a major error in judgment?
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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
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