Archive for the ‘Buyer Tips’ Category
In a small, pristine garage in North County San Diego, an unusual project is under way. Huddled around a single steel chassis, a team of expert automotive welders is fabricating a new high-tech supercar, dubbed the Lucra L148. It’s the brainchild of Luke Richards, a quixotic entrepreneur and former pilot, who founded Lucra Cars in 2006. If all goes as planned, Richards and his team of 12 full-time craftsmen hope to create one of the most technologically advanced American supercars ever made.
Unlike most supercar projects, which can take years, if not decades, to complete, Richards plans to deliver the first L148 in the summer of 2014, just one year after the initial renderings. He expects the price to be comparable to that of a new Ferrari or Aston Martin, around $260,000. “A lot of guys try to build a $100,000 car that’s as good as a $300,000 car, but then what you end up with is a failed, expensive, cheap car, all at once,” said Richards. “It needs the correct budget to be built right.”
That hefty budget will include a computer-designed carbon-fiber exterior, a lightweight, super-strong chassis made from chromoly steel – the same material used on Baja 1000 Pro Trucks – mated to a 700-hp GM LS V-8 engine, and several components Richards refer to as being “mil-spec,” or military specification, including a wiring harness typically found on most military aircraft. And unlike Richards’ first creation, the LC470, which was featured in “The Fast and Furious 6“ and on a recent episode ofTop Gear U.S., the L148 will come equipped with air conditioning, satellite radio, and GPS navigation. Hallelujah.
But to understand what makes the L148 unique, and not just some cobbled-together custom car, it’s important to understand how Lucra Cars came to be.
Richards, 42, was born in England, the son of an English father and an American mother. When his parents divorced and his mother returned to the United States, Richards became the product of an intercontinental breakup, spending half his time in Connecticut and the other half in London.
Along the way, he developed a simultaneous appreciation for American muscle cars and finely-tuned European sports cars.”My dad always said you can have a car that goes fast in the straightaways or handles well in the turns, but you can’t have both,” he said. “And that was the attitude for a long time, that you couldn’t merge them together at all.”
Following numerous stints in the car business, Richards moved to San Diego and launched Lucra Cars, promising to build a car that would marry American power with European precision handling. “I couldn’t afford an automotive franchise at the time, so I created Lucra,” he said, noting that prior to starting the business, he had taken up residence on his small vintage boat docked in San Diego Harbor. “Besides, owning a dealership would not have done anything for my creative needs.”
Interestingly, Richards says he credits his extensive automotive expertise to an early passion for 1:8 scale radio-controlled cars. “I learned all about aerodynamics and I had all this gear – slicks and extra tires, different bodies and wings, fully adjustable suspensions – it was like running a little Indy Car,” he said, noting that he holds fond memories of racing RC cars with his father at London’s now-defunct Crystal Palace circuit. “They were like little cruise missiles on the ground – sway bars, shocks, disc brakes, gears – everything a real car has, they have.”
The early days of the company were challenging as Richards struggled to find footing in California’s highly competitive custom car scene. But after the introduction of the LC470, a lightning fast, Lister-inspired roadster, he was able to catch the eye of legendary movie car designer Dennis McCarthy, who asked Richards to consult on numerous high profile projects, including several of “The Fast and Furious“ movies.
“Profit is kind of an equal spread between selling our own cars, helping to design vehicles for Hollywood, and a bit of restoration work,” said Richards, adding that he has sold 57 examples of the LC470, which range in price from $90,000 to $130,000, depending on engine options.
With interest in the LC470 at an all-time high and the introduction of the L148 just a few months away, Richards hopes to be selling between 100 and 200 cars per year within the next five years. “From there I would like to see the next stage of Lucra happen where we get a much larger level of funding and where we go forward and build a big production car — where we move up to the level of Lotus,” he said. “Basically, everything should multiply by 10 every time you make a jump.”
He’s also aware that most niche-market automotive manufacturers often struggle in the face of heavy competition from larger brands. But he doesn’t care. Richards explained that he is out to change the landscape, instead of conform to it. “If you’re in a band, you can play cover songs all day long and play in the local bar down the street till the cows come home,” he said. “If you want to make something of yourself, you have to go write your own music at some point. Otherwise, you are never going to be Van Halen.”
When it comes to its plug-in hybrid SUVs, Volvo is willing to sacrifice a bit of range to go a lot further, in the global sense. The Swedish automaker started producing a diesel plug-in hybrid version of the V60 late last year but doesn’t plan to make that model available around the world. Instead, Volvo will replace it with a gasoline-drinking plug-in hybrid XC90 crossover, Australia’s Drive.com says, citing Volvo executive Lex Kerssemakers. The new plug-in hybrid will use a gas-powered four-cylinder turbo as its engine and deliver at least 300 horsepower. Production of that SUV will start late next year.
Volvo says moving from diesel to gas will shave about five percent off the model’s 120 miles per gallon equivalent fuel economy rating (per the more lenient European standards), so the SUV will still have fuel economy worth bragging about. Kerssemakers said that gas power, as opposed to diesel, would be an easier sell outside Europe. Volvo started making the diesel plug-in last November. The company said at the time that it initially planned to make 1,000 units for the 2013 model year but that advance orders caused them to boost that number to as many as 6,000 vehicles for the 2014 model year.
But some sellers are counting on your not mastering some of the crucial techniques buyers need to maximize the test-drive experience and get everything they need from the “thinking of buying it” ride.
Rolling to the rescue is Edmunds.com which is out with some reminders for car and truck buyers on getting the most from a test-drive.
It’s all about checking much-needed decision-based items off your vehicle shopping list.
“Every car shopper should feel empowered to own their test drive and make sure that they focus on all of the factors that are most important to them,” says Philip Reed, consumer advice editor at the online auto expert. “If the car doesn’t look, feel or sound right in any way, then it’s OK to trust your gut and walk away. The small red flags you find early on could become big waving banners down the road.”
“It’s a little like trying on clothes,” Reed says. “People come in different sizes and shapes, and they have different tastes in what they want. The little things that you spot now could be major annoyances later, so don’t discount any of your reactions.”
That process starts before you get in the car, he says. Go into the experience with your eyes open, especially before you put the keys into the ignition. Here are some of the item on Reed’s text-drive checklist:
- Is it easy to get in and out of the new car without stooping or banging your head?
- Does your body type match the pedal positions? If not, are the pedals adjustable?
- Is the seat comfortable? Is it easily adjustable? Is there a lumbar support adjustment?
- Is there enough room for your head, hips and legs? Remember to sit in the backseat to test it too.
- Are the gauges and controls easy to read and use?
- How is the visibility? Check the rearview mirror and side mirrors and look for potential blind spots.
- Check the trunk space and cargo area. Is the vehicle easy to load? Is there a pass-through in the trunk opening for long items?
- When you do hit the open road, avoid taking phone calls and keep the radio off — the test-drive demands your undivided attention. Pay particular attention to the car engine. Is it running smoothly? Do you hear pings or knocks? If so, those are deal-breakers.
Drive the car or truck like you would if you owned it. If you have a long commute to work, take your test drive out on the highway. If you want a tough, durable truck, take it up a hill or, better yet, a mountain to check out how the vehicle handles the added burden.
Also, focus on the vehicle’s main features. How do the brakes feel? How long does it take to go from zero to 50 miles per hour? Is the dashboard clean, useful and elegant? What’s the gas mileage like?
Mastering the new vehicle test drive is half art, half science. Take the tips above with you to the drive and you can vastly increase your odds of buyingthe car or truck you’ll love over the
Have you ever experienced the thrill of driving a Porsche 911? Just thinking about getting behind the wheel of one gets me excited. And this year there is even more reason to get fired-up about the 911 – it’s turning 50!
For half a century, the iconic Porsche 911 has been a sports car benchmark revered by drivers worldwide. Born as a race car, the instantly recognizable and highly successful 911 is no ordinary automobile. More than 820,000 have been produced since the 911 was first unveiled by Porsche in 1963, and it is widely considered the identity of the company.
Since its inception, the 911 has contained a combination of Porsche’s engineering precision and performance with everyday practicality. This winning formula appealed to driving enthusiasts on and off the racetrack, quickly solidifying the 911 as a cult object around the world.
Today, Porsche continues to push the boundaries of what’s possible for the 911. Driven by strong tradition, values and ideals, the company leans on intelligent innovation and technology to build exceptional sports cars and run a world-class business. “When you want to compete on the global race tracks, you can only succeed with innovative technology,” said Bernhard Maier, Executive Board, Sales and Marketing, Porsche AG in this video interview with SAP. “More than 28,000 victories prove that point.”
Porsche’s race-inspired philosophy to achieve maximum output from minimum input permeates the organization. “The ‘intelligent performance’ principle of more performance with less consumption applies to every process in the company,” said Lutz Meschke, Executive Board, Finance and IT, Porsche AG. But with more than 70 affiliate companies and a worldwide presence, Porsche is faced with unique challenges when it comes to harmonizing the IT environment.
Without fast and efficient business processes Porsche can’t deliver fast cars. So to ensure its lean manufacturing and supply logistics run smoothly, Porsche uses the SAP ERP and SAP Supply Chain Management (SAP SCM) applications. “Logistics must work just-in-time and just-in-sequence,” Meschke said. “Our workers need to get the right part at the right moment and SAP lays the foundation for that peak performance.”
Porsche is also very focused on providing an exceptional and personal level of customer service. “Every Porsche is one-of-a-kind, which poses great challenges to our processes and systems,” Meschke said. With SAP in place, Porsche has the IT flexibility and efficiency it needs to offer customized products and services to its customers. “This allows our customers to change the specification of their car right up to the production point, which gives us a crucial edge on our competition,” Maier said.
And that level of personal touch and attention between Porsche and its customers doesn’t end when a customer drives one of its shiny new sports cars off the lot. “When a car has left the assembly line, we want to stay with it for its entire lifecycle,” Maier said, underscoring Porsche’s desire to develop a lifelong relationship with each one of its customers. “That’s why we need a system that gives us absolute transparency, like the software we developed with SAP.”
With SAP supporting the intelligent performance philosophy behind every Porsche, the 911 will surely win the checkered flag for another 50 years.
And here’s a sweet little surprise you can share with your friends: To celebrate the Porsche 911’s 50th birthday, Italian chocolate manufacturer Ferrero is putting toy 911’s inside its premium collection Kinder Surprise eggs in Europe starting in August! So get cracking and enjoy the ride!
Luxury tuners Vorsteiner have done a number on some high-performance vehicles over the years. Just a handful of our favorites include the Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera, Ferrari 458, BMW M3 GTS5- the list goes on.
Now, they’ve taken on a new project, the McLaren MP4-12C. Arguably one of the best looking sportscars currently on the market, the McLaren went under the knife and received a handsome set of upgrades from the tuning house.
Up front, we’re initially met with a P1-inspired carbon fiber front grille. Vorsteiner claims that each and every component of the vehicle (including the grille) improves the overall aerodynamics and looks.
In the back, we see yet another highly modified diffuser, topped off with a few aerodynamic upgrades along the side, and a gorgeous set of 20-inch front and 21-inch rear wheels and tires.
All of these details are backed up by the 616 horsepower provided by McLaren’s stock 3.8-liter V8. The whole package makes for one stunning machine.
For all the success Cadillac has enjoyed in recent years — reviving itself from a purveyor of slightly nicer Buicks into a credible challenger of German luxury makes — there’s always been something missing from its showrooms. As good as its new smaller cars are, the most famous Cadillacs dominated the road, from the V-16s of the ’30s to the last gasps of the ’70s road yachts. Cadillac execs never say such cars are gone forever, but neither do they vow to revive their dinosaurs.
Today, Cadillac revealed the Elmiraj concept, a 500-hp coupe that harkens back to the past while offering, once again, a suggestion that the era of a full-grown Caddy could return — maybe.
Named for the design inspiration of a 1967 Eldorado, the 205-inch-long Elmiraj forsakes the hybrid/electric infatuation of recent concepts for the brute force of a twin-turbo, 4.5-liter V-8 engine turning the rear wheels, as God and Henry Leland intended. The style further smoothes and lengthens the lines seen on cars like the new CTS and XTS, with a few showy touches like chromed hood vents, but few impractical ones.
Inside there’s the usual designer studio compilation of exotic materials and shapes, but here again the Elmiraj doesn’t resort to unobtanium-filled trims or gadgetry that only exists as a concept. The most innovative touch comes from the rear seats; rather than lengthen the doors to football-field distances as the Eldorados of yore, the seats in the Elmiraj automatically move forward when given a passenger assignment, then slide back once the doors close.
There are a few other hints that the Elmiraj has more of a production possibility than last year’s Ciel convertible. The Elmiraj wears what Cadillac calls a draft version of its new logo (where’d they get that idea?) and, more importantly, was built on a chassis from “an ongoing Cadillac vehicle development project slated for future production.” Nothing’s real in the auto industry until the car rolls off the assembly line, but if General Motors has a way to update the Eldorado for the 21st century and give the only true American luxury car brand a flagship car, what’s stopping it?
There are rumors that Ford‘s (NYSE: F ) next generation F-150 could have an aluminum body. The move could shave up to 700 pounds, or 15%, off the truck’s massive frame, which would go a long way to improving its fuel economy.
However, aluminum might not be the only ingredient fueling the next-generation Ford truck to greatness. That’s because Ford’s F-150 will soon also be available to have a natural gas engine installed. Combine the two, and the end result could be a real breakthrough for the industry.
Built for performance
Aluminum has always been an important material for the automotive industry. It’s already used to make engines and wheels, but today’s advanced aluminum alloys are increasingly being considered for other areas such as the hood, trunk, and doors. In fact, Tesla‘s (NASDAQ: TSLA ) groundbreaking and award-winning Model S credits its all-aluminum body for its remarkable performance.
Ford is rumored to be on the verge of joining Tesla in taking its truck to the next level of performance by replacing its steel body with aluminum. The bold move would not only cut its weight to improve its gas mileage, but it would also improve the truck’s overall performance. That’s because lighter-weight aluminum enables vehicles to brake and accelerate more quickly — all with better handling.
Fuel of the future
Ford’s innovations don’t end with aluminum. The company recently announced that its F-150 will soon be available with a natural gas engine designed by Westport Innovations(NASDAQ: WPRT ) . While it won’t be available until the first quarter of next year, the addition of the Westport WiNG Power System to its fleet will make it the only full-size pickup that can come prepped from the factory for natural gas. The move really boosts the options for customers, as they will soon have the opportunity to purchase a new truck that’s powered by a next-generation fuel.
Not only is natural gas 50% to 80% cheaper than regular gasoline, but it’s also up to 90% cleaner. That’s a true win-win situation for both customers and the environment. Finally, while electric vehicles such as Tesla’s are clearly the future, given the performance requirements of most F-150 customers, the industry has a long way to go before it can offer customers a comparable truck powered by electricity, meaning natural gas is the only real option for the medium term.
What this means for both consumers and investors
The potential of combining the performance gains from aluminum with the economic and environmental benefits of natural gas could truly be a game-changing move by Ford. These moves could make the F-150 the gold standard when it comes to owning an environmentally responsible truck. When looking at that potential, Ford truly could be building the greatest truck of our generation. That means Ford’s stock could prove to be quite a rewarding long-term investment.
We’ve been waiting patiently the arrival of a new Supra. And while the FR-S has temporarily quenched our thirst for Toyota-born sportscars, we still long for something a bit more powerful, more visceral. So far, though, nothing’s officially official.
But there’s hope. As Lexus attempts to shed the beige-ness for which it was previously synonymous, the LF-LC concept could not only come as a successor to the LFA, but according to Automotive News, the platform for a new Supra as well.
With Toyota sportscar development in full swing, the company has been pondering just how they could make a new and improved Supra work in the ever-changing market. As competition like Mitsubishi plans to travel upscale with the Evo XI- along with the Nissan GT-R and Acura NSX, Toyota and Lexus are expected to do much of the same with the LF-LC and a potentially reanimated Supra.
Foreshadowed by the FT-HS concept (pictured) back in 2007, the new Supra would most likely come loaded with a hybrid powertrain, and rear-wheel drive courtesy of the LF-LC. So far, Toyota hasn’t officially given statement on the new Supra, nor Lexus on a production LF-LC, but expect to hear more news closer to the LA Auto Show in November.
The folks at at BoldRide are big fans of Lexus IS F (as you can read in our review). There’s just something so lovable about a Lexus sedan with the heart of a modern-day muscle car. And sure, while it may not come with all the driving refinement found in cars like the BMW M3, it’s bound to go down in history as a cult classic.
But there’s a problem- the current IS F is dying a slow, fruitless death. When Lexus announced a few months back that 2014 would be the last year of the mean muscle sedan, our hearts were filled with despair. But alas, there’s some forthcoming news on the horizon: word from The Motor Report is that the IS F is indeed making a comeback in 2015- albeit with a new face- and Lexus engineers might be ditching the 5.0-liter V8 in place of something a bit more practical.
“That V8 is a little difficult to meet Euro 6 [emissions standards],” said IS chief engineer Junichiro Furuyama in a recent interview, “To produce more power and torque it runs leaner. That is the problem. We probably need a new engine for the F model.”
Reports tell us that there are no plans for a high-powered hybrid Lexus sedan anytime in the near future, but with further restricting of emission standards, the idea that a V6 might take place of the antiquated V8 would make sense.
Expect news on the next-generation of IS F closer to an official release date in 2015.
REPOSTED BY MIDWEST GLASS TINTERS FROM: BoldRide/Yahoo Autos
General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM) is not satisfied with the level of hype surrounding the release of its 2014 Corvette Stingray. So to add some prestige to the launch, Chevy is releasing five hundred models of a Premier Edition of the car. The special edition was introduced Friday by the automaker, in advance of a party to celebrate the car’s launch later this year.
A Power Wheels version is also in the works.
The five hundred Premiere 3LT models will be produced in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Each will come with a “Laguna Blue” paint job and be accompanied by a set of Corvette luggage, designed by Thule. Included in the high price tag is the Z51 performance package, which features a 6.2-liter V8 engine that produces 450 horsepower. The Premier Edition Stingrays will have a special identification number and a members-only plaque on the dash. It’s expected to run above the top-of-the-line Stingrays and cost at least $75,000.