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Auto Shows

Last Massachusetts car shows of the season

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh September 30, 2012 11:25 AM

It might be getting cooler, but the season for open-air car shows is not over. Summer tires, convertibles, exotics, classics -- all of them should be out until the first snowflake hits. At least that's how I see it.

Here's a list of upcoming car shows in October (and only in October). If you have information on more, send me an email at clifford.atiyeh [at] globe dot com. Or, go to calendar.boston.com and add your car show to our site.

Herb Chambers Lexus in Sharon:

Cars & Coffee - Saturday, Oct. 13, 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. (with guest Wayne Carini from "Chasing Classic Cars"

Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline:

VW Day/Transporterfest – Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Tutto Lite – Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Cars and Coffee - Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Extinct Car Day – Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Studebaker Day - Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

More:

Patriot Energy Charity Car Show - Saturday, Oct. 6 in Burlington
British Legends Weekend - Friday, Oct. 5 to Sunday, Oct. 7 in Falmouth
Amvets Post 147 Car Show - Sunday, Oct. 7 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Haverhill
BearskinNeck.net's Annual Fall Classic Car Show and Cruise Day - Sunday, Oct. 7 from 10 a.m. to at least 4 p.m. in Rockport

George Clooney selling Tesla Roadster to fight Sudanese civil war

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh July 31, 2012 01:38 PM

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Can a $100,000 electric sports car really save the Sudanese people from another all-out civil war? George Clooney would like to think so.

The actor is auctioning his 2008 Tesla Roadster – the first production all-electric car since the GM EV1 and Honda EV Plus – to benefit his nonprofit Satellite Sentinel Project, which uses satellite imagery to monitor the borders of Sudan. The group apparently can pinpoint atrocities and other aggressions, to which it then notifies other world organizations. Auction house Gooding & Company estimates the car will fetch up to $125,000. Clooney’s car is one of the first 100 cars sold from California-based Tesla Motors. The Roadster is no longer sold in the US and a new one won’t debut until at least 2014, when Lotus (Tesla’s manufacturing partner) redesigns its mid-engine Elise.

The auctions will take place on Aug. 18 and 19 as part of the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, a California gathering of the world’s wealthiest car connoisseurs and their rare motors. Jay Leno is also auctioning off his Fiat 500 “Prima Edizione,” one of the first 500 Fiats made for the US last year. The money will benefit the Fisher House Foundation, which helps the families of wounded American soldiers.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that Jay Leno was not donating the proceeds to charity. He is, as stated above.

Stirring a Corvair Concours in Sturbridge

Posted by Bill Griffith February 10, 2012 03:42 PM

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(1960 Chevrolet Corvair, courtesy General Motors). Click photo for larger version.

Once upon a time, all I had to do to see a Corvair was look out the kitchen window. My sister owned two of them in succession in the late 1960s.

Nowadays, you may see one at a local cruise night or car show. But how about 200?

That’s the number organizers expect for the Corvair Society of America’s 42nd annual convention to be held at the Sturbridge Host Hotel from July 25-28.

Forty years ago, reliability wasn’t what it is today. Some of those early Corvairs had a penchant for having fan belts pop off pulleys. Then, as the brand rusted away with age, there was the occasional sight of a Corvair blocking traffic because the engine literally had fallen through its rusted mounts onto the highway.

But the brand was innovative with its rear-engine design, air-cooling, four-wheel independent suspension, unibody construction, balanced braking, flat floor (no driveshaft tunnel or transmission hump), light steering, and a low center of gravity. It also had the neat model names of Monza and Spyder.

Chevrolet produced the Corvair from late 1959 until May 1969, selling more than 1.8 million vehicles, including a van and light truck. The Corvair’s handling became the focus of the book “Unsafe at Any Speed” by consumer crusader Ralph Nader.

Auto-related highlights of the Corvair gathering include a competitive autocross on Wednesday, July 25 followed by a road rally through western Massachusetts on Thursday. On Friday, there’s a judged Concours d’Elegance and technical sessions. But Saturday will be the big day for local car aficionados. That’s the date for a giant Corvair-only car show.

The hidden dragstrip in Orange

Posted by George Kennedy November 10, 2011 11:03 AM

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(All photos: Leo Bonarrigo). Click photo for larger version.

It's been said that there is a hidden racetrack in every major city. I often thought Boston was left out of that equation, what with New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H., and Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn. However, in the closing weeks of summer, I indeed found Boston’s secret track — and its a lot closer than you think.

Orange is a stop along Route 2, where many UMass-Amherst students make the turn to 202 South on their way back to campus. Orange is also the home of an airstrip that 60 years ago was the epicenter of hot-rodding in New England. In September, wrench-turners from around New England met to revive the original races at the “Orange Airfield Drag Reunion,” with more than 1,000 cars from the muscle and hot rod eras. Dragsters and high-powered machines from Deuce Coupes with flathead V-8s to GTOs and everything in between were represented for one special day.

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Italian exotics say "Ciao!" at Faneuil Hall

Posted by George Kennedy August 2, 2011 09:08 AM

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Catching a Ferrari on the street is always special. Seeing 30 classic Italian exotics at Faneuil Hall is a rarity unto itself.

That was just the scene this past Sunday, where a number of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Ducati motorcycles parked in front of Quincy Market to promote the upcoming Tutto Italiano car show next Sunday, Aug. 7. The display was put on by the Larz Anderson Auto Museum, a hidden gem in Brookline with a fabulous collection of cars spanning the decades.

"On any given Sunday, from May to October, we have lawn events for different makes," said museum curator Sheldon Steele. "We have a British Car Day, German Car Day, and the largest is the Italian car day, known as the Tutto Italiano."

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The owner of the Alfa Romeo 8C was eager to rev its engine, resulting in a symphony of power echoing off of the stone granite walls of Quincy Market. While motor heads can bore friends with technical data and automotive trivia, events like the Tutto Italiano prove that everyone can enjoy fine cars. It's not hard to develop a dropped jaw when a Lamborghini Gallardo passes by, for instance.

The Fanueil Hall display started off a series of Tutto events this week, including a fashion show and a pair of celebratory dinners. The museum is also selling raffle tickets for a new Fiat 500, the latest Italian car to arrive on American shores.

Go here for ticket information and to see the museum's entire show schedule.

George Kennedy is a senior writer for WheelsTV in Acton. Reach him at gkennedy@wheelstv.net (All photos: Leo Bonarrigo)

North Shore Concours d’Elegance runs this Sunday

Posted by Bill Griffith July 29, 2011 12:00 PM

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(Patrick Cornelissen/Endicott College)

On Sunday, Endicott College will present the second annual North Shore Concours d’Elegance at its Misselwood Estate in Beverly (407 Hale St. on your navigation system).

The event has stepped up to fill the area’s void since the demise of the Castle Hill Concours at the Crane Estate in Ipswich. Last year, a 1931 Packard 840 Dietrich owned by Bob Katz took best in show at Endicott.

Patrick Cornelissen, Endicott’s director of operations, grew up surrounded by cars. “My parents owned a dealership in Belgium and I learned early on to appreciate the beauty and style of cars,” he says.

The event runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with tickets available at the door or online. The $10 general admission goes towards student scholarships.

Early birds get the supercars in Brookline

Posted by Peter Bourassa April 27, 2011 03:57 PM

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(All photos: George Kennedy for Boston.com) Click photo for larger version.

An early-morning California car tradition has found its way to Brookline.

Those who woke up at 7 a.m. earlier this month were treated to the first "Cars & Coffee" event at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum. As most of the neighbors slept their Saturdays away, a high-end assortment of classic American Muscle and modern European supercars showed up.

Cars & Coffee traces its origins back to Georgia, where photographer Ron Rizzi organized the first gathering over a decade ago. More recently, it has flourished in Los Angeles on Saturday mornings, where enthusiasts gather to gawk at and show off niche cars, automotive rarities, and anything interesting on four wheels. It's not uncommon for the car-obsessed celebrity (Jay Leno, for instance) to stop by. Now, thanks to the LA event's popularity, Cars & Coffee has spread across the country.

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Transit Connect taxi now on Boston roads

Posted by Bill Griffith December 3, 2010 11:55 AM

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(Clifford Atiyeh/Boston.com Staff)

At the New England International Auto Show this week we gave a lift to several Ford executives who were about to hail a taxi. Too bad they couldn't have grabbed the one sitting in the Ford exhibit the floor of the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.

It was the first Ford Transit Connect taxi to go into service in the United States.

The cab, belonging to Boston Cab Co., was on hand for a press preview. It was delivered through Sentry Ford in Medford.

Back in April, the Hackney Carriage Unit of the Boston Police Department approved the Transit Connect for taxi use, making Boston the first US city to do so. As part of the approval process the Transit Connect had to meet basic size requirements for passenger headroom, legroom, and cargo space.

"It fits the bill," said Mark Cohen, the unit's director. "The size, shape, and configuration of this unique vehicle make it comfortable for both driver and passengers."

In August 2009, a federal judge overturned a city regulation requiring all new cabs in Boston's 1,850-cab fleet to be hybrids, an expensive upgrade fought by the taxi industry.

In the interim, however, there are approximately 500 hybrids in the Boston fleet.

"The good part of all this was the industry realized the hybrids will hold up in taxi service," says Cohen. "Now this [Transit Connect] is the manufacturer's response. It's a good alternative."

The Transit Connect also is available with an engine preparation package for conversion to compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied propane gas (LPG).

We noted features such as the repositioned second-row seat to allow for extra legroom, the grab handles and rear HVAC vents with passenger controls, plus the vinyl floors and great cargo space.

With airline surcharges on baggage, many travelers are traveling lighter; however, for those big airport runs with lots of bags, the Transit Connect will be ideal. The driver's amenities include a rearview camera and back-up sensors.

While the Transit Connect won't equal the fuel economy of a hybrid, it should get in the 21-26 mpg range versus the Crown Vic's 15 mpg.

Pebble Beach 2010: White Delage takes out black Bentley

Posted by Peter Bourassa August 18, 2010 12:56 PM

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(All photos: Peter Bourassa for Boston.com)

Jim Patterson stands next to his "Best of Show" 1933 Delage.

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif.—On a green baize dotted with 250 multihued cars and motorcycles from 14 countries, some thought she was too white. Some believed she was too delicate, too feminine to conquer the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. In the end, the color of virtue triumphed.

Seventy-seven years after she was delivered to a lady in Paris, The Patterson Collection of Louisville, Ky., brought the white 1933 Delage D8S to Pebble Beach and won the most important prize in the world of car collecting: Best of Show. Owner Jim Patterson has won with other cars at other concours, but said "this is the one that really matters."

"This car could do it all," said Pebble chairwoman Sandra Button. "It did 100 miles per hour in its day. It embodied style, speed, and comfort."

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This is why you sleep past 'Cars and Coffee'

Posted by Peter Bourassa April 14, 2010 12:58 PM

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(All photos: Peter Bourassa for Boston.com)

On a cold morning, this Toyota Highlander was among the event's best finds.

SUDBURY—There are only two things that will get a middle-aged man out of bed at 7 a.m. on a 45-degree Saturday morning. And cars are one of them.

“Cars and Coffee” is a California concept that has migrated east and has landed locally at the new Herb Chambers BMW dealership on Rte 20 in Sudbury. The idea is to get car people to kick off their weekend by dragging their cars to a large parking lot conveniently located near free coffee, have them open their engine bays, and take admiring glances. Most people stay for a while, drift off, and are replaced by others who slept in. Thus, the show is always changing.

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In New York, automakers reveal optimism

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh April 6, 2010 05:14 PM

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(All photos: Clifford Atiyeh/Boston.com Staff)

The biggest show surprise was the 2011 Kia Optima, a stunning design inside and out that exudes sportiness and luxury.

NEW YORK—Recession, you were a jabbing pain in our side, and nearly killed a few of us. You drained our balance sheets, made us sacrifice some of our private jet flights, and even forced a few journalists to pay for meals on press trips. Please, let's forget last year and get back to selling cars.

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Automakers want you to know, despite tough government mandates and below-record sales, that they're recovering fast. At the New York International Auto Show in Manhattan, optimism (and a new Optima) is back.

Breakout designs, advanced hybrid vehicles, and increasing fuel efficiency paired with higher performance were at nearly every stand.

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2011 Infiniti QX56: Ready for acceptance

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh April 2, 2010 03:06 PM

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(All photos: Clifford Atiyeh/Boston.com Staff)

NEW YORK— After 13 years of rebadged Nissan SUVs, Infiniti took a refreshing turn Wednesday with the 2011 QX56, the second generation of the luxury brand's forgotten full-size SUV.

Unlike its groundbreaking and popular FX crossover, Infiniti hasn't understood the finesse behind the traditional SUV segment. Their two efforts in the past 13 years — the Pathfinder-based QX4 from 1997 to 2003, and the first Armada-based QX56 in 2004 — didn't try to hide the more ordinary Nissans underneath. Buyers who wanted status and size have paid attention to Escalades, Range Rovers, Mercedes GLs, and Toyota's famous Land Cruiser.

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First drive: 2011 Ford Transit Connect Electric

Posted by Keith Griffin April 2, 2010 11:37 AM

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(Sam VarnHagen/Ford)

NEW YORK—Do you like full torque acceleration the moment you tap on the accelerator? Does paying pennies to fill up your tank appeal to your beleaguered wallet? Are you a plumber? Then does Ford have a vehicle for you.

The Ford Transit Connect Electric goes on sale this summer. Produced in partnership with Azure Dynamics of Michigan, this commercial van has a 1000-pound payload, an 80-mile cruising range, and a top speed up to 80 mph. It can also climb a 20 percent grade, which should make mincemeat out of most of what New England can throw its way.

As part of media days at The New York International Auto Show, test drives were done on Manhattan’s west side. Fifteen minutes behind the wheel quickly demonstrates that electric vehicles should be a viable alternative for future transportation needs, especially in the commercial trades.

“This is not a golf cart. Even my parents think it is, but it’s not,” said Lisa Drake, Ford’s chief engineer for the Transit Connect Electric.

Charging time is six to eight hours on with a 240-volt supply (like the power source for your washing machine). A standard outlet could charge the Connect in 16 hours. Drake said that air conditioning could reduce its effective range to 60 miles.

Currently, the Transit Connect Electric is only available for fleet purchase through Azure Dynamics, which will outfit the vehicles in Michigan. Local Ford dealers will handle maintenance.

2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI: The wing is back

Posted by Keith Griffin April 2, 2010 11:00 AM

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(Clifford Atiyeh/Boston.com Staff)

NEW YORK—With apologies to Elton John, “The wing is back, the wing is back. Yeah, the wing is back.” That’s what Subaru proudly trumpeted with its introduction of the four-door 2011 Impreza WRX STI on Thursday during media days at the New York International Auto Show.

Clipped in the previous generation STI, the rear wing spoiler resumes its rightful place on this generation’s model.

It’s a wing that’s not necessarily cosmetic as it's paired with a 305 horsepower turbocharged/intercooled "Boxer" engine, six-speed manual transmission, and all-wheel-drive. It’s got the makings of a great rally car, but for everybody’s sake, keep this car out of the hands of new teenage drivers.

It has three drive modes — Intelligent, Sport and Sport Sharp — that are controlled by a rotary dial on the center console. The Intelligent mode would probably be called Comfort by most other manufacturers because it’s your basic everyday commuting setting. Sport provides quick throttle response and “powerful, linear acceleration,” as Subaru puts it. Sport Sharp just amps up all the performance a little bit more.

The WRX STI rides on standard 18-inch aluminum wheels that weigh 17.6 pounds less than the previous standard wheels (for performance, every pound counts). The rubber on the wheels are Dunlop SP600 245/40R18 summer performance tires.

Speaking of summer, all of this performance hits Subaru dealers later this summer. So, you’ll have at least a few good months before frost makes driving those summer tires a bit of a white knuckler, even with all-wheel-drive.

2011 Hyundai Equus: Yes, I'm really $60,000

Posted by Keith Griffin April 2, 2010 10:48 AM

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(All photos: Clifford Atiyeh/Boston.com Staff)

NEW YORK—Hyundai has stepped up its game tenfold with the introduction of the 2011 Hyundai Equus sedan at The New York International Auto Show on Thursday. The Korean manufacturer’s new flagship is going to turn heads with its features, looks, and price.

The luxury sedan has a longer wheelbase than the Lexus LS 460, is reminiscent of a previous generation Mercedes S-Class in its design, comes packed with an amazing litany of features, and, when it’s introduced in the fall, will cost between $50,000 to $60,000, according to Hyundai Motors America president and CEO John Krafcik.

That’s at least $5,000 below the LS 460 and $35,000 below the S-Class.

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2011 Ford Super Duty DeWalt: A real cut and run job

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh April 1, 2010 02:40 PM

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(Clifford Atiyeh/Boston.com Staff)

NEW YORK—I've never ridden in the bed of a pickup truck. Something about it, despite how drunkenly easy Texas college students make it look on spring break, doesn't seem safe. Especially with a rotary saw and hydraulic crane bolted out back.

With those two details, the Super Duty DeWalt Contractor concept is a genuine construction site on 22-inch wheels, and about as far from a party pickup as South Padre Island is from New York City.

There's a winch, battery charging station, and a connection to run a mulcher or other heavy machinery straight off the 6.7 liter diesel.

Should anyone foolish climb in, the crane — rated at 650 pounds — can end that ride very quickly.

2011 Acura TSX Sports Wagon: Back to practicality

Posted by Keith Griffin April 1, 2010 01:36 PM

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(Clifford Atiyeh/Boston.com Staff)

NEW YORK—Practicality continues to creep into the luxury car market. Witness the increasing popularity of station wagons (of all things) like the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and the Volvo V50. Acura has entered the fray with its TSX Sports Wagon that debuted during media days at The New York International Auto Show.

“Sports wagons were always popular in Europe, said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda. "We’re seeing growing potential for this alternative in the U.S.”

The TSX Sports Wagon will be powered by Acura’s 2.4-liter, all-aluminum inline four-cylinder engine paired with a five-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel paddle shifters. That engine in its sedan sibling pumps out 201 horsepower and 170 lb.-ft. of torque. Technology highlights include an available hard disk drive-based navigation system, standard Bluetooth, USB port, and auxiliary jack music interface.

Power and technology are not this wagon’s main selling points. According to Acura, it's practicality. The wagon’s flexible space includes under-floor bins that can hold a laptop and removable side panels for larger cargo like golf clubs. Mendel said during a press conference that the TSX wagon’s expected highway fuel economy is 30 mpg.

No pricing information was announced. The TSX Sport Wagon is expected to hit dealerships in the late fall.

2011 Volvo S60: The car that can't kill?

Posted by Keith Griffin March 31, 2010 01:34 PM

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(All photos: Clifford Atiyeh/Boston.com Staff)

NEW YORK—The 2011 Volvo S60 made its debut today at the New York International Auto Show with interesting words from Doug Speck, president, Volvo North America. He said the “all-new naughty Volvo S60” is going to create a “headache” among the luxury sedan market. Apparently, Volvo is hoping to recreate itself as a company with an edge.

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Kizashi gets a grip with sport trim

Posted by Keith Griffin March 31, 2010 01:05 PM

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(All photos: Clifford Atiyeh/Boston.com Staff)

NEW YORK—The wishes of Suzuki Kizashi fans has been answered — and the hot, new sedan has barely hit the market. Last night on the eve of the New York International Auto Show, the Japanese automaker rolled out its Kizashi sport model. The mostly external modifications drop the vehicle closer to the ground and improve handling.

Let the hype commence. “We took the hottest car Suzuki has ever made and added a little Tabasco sauce,” said Steve Younan, Suzuki director of product planning. (Hot and Suzuki was a classic automotive oxymoron until the Kizashi went on sale this past December.)

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New Englanders win at Amelia Concours

Posted by Peter Bourassa March 23, 2010 12:05 PM

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(All photos: Peter Bourassa/MMR)

New Englanders won significant awards at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance held on March 14 in Florida.

Brookline resident Joe Freeman, with his son Zack, received the prestigious Tony Hulman Award for his 1915 Duesenberg. Only presented at Pebble Beach and Amelia Concours, this award is given to the participant who presents the most historically important authentic race vehicle. Freeman may be the only double winner, as his 1936 Little Six Indy racer won at Pebble Beach.

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Ayer shop brings Kurtis, Bocar to Amelia

Posted by Peter Bourassa March 14, 2010 12:08 PM

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(Peter Bourassa for Boston.com)

This 1959 Bocar Stiletto will be shown at the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance.

A Concours d'Elegance is generally a show at which cars are judged and awarded based on how well they conform to pre-determined standards. A race track is generally a noisy, often dusty venue at which cars are tested to their limits and are constantly changing for myriad reasons. They are not similar car experiences. However, race cars are often invited to Concours events to add noise and color.

KTR European Motorsports, a premier vintage auto racing support facility located in Ayer, brought two cars to the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance today: a 1953 Kurtis 500 roadster and a flame red 1959 Bocar Stiletto racer. Both are frequently used by their owner, Dudley Cunningham, and since they're part of an exhibit and won't be judged, they require little preparation for the trip.

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Fraud, failure bring rarity to 1948 Davis

Posted by Peter Bourassa March 11, 2010 07:50 PM

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(All photos: Essex Television Group)

Wayne Carini, host of the popular television show "Chasing Classic Cars," is bringing a very rare and special car to the Amelia Island Concours this Sunday.

The car, a 1948 Davis, is one of ten survivors of the 13 ever built. Wayne is restoring it from its current purple color to its original light green and will display it in the "Motor Trend Cover Cars" category. It will be a hit.

The story of the Davis Motor Car Company is as extraordinary as the car itself.

By May of 1948, the dream was coming to an end for Glen Gordon (Gary) Davis. In a cross- country trip transporting two Davis Motor Car prototypes, he had convinced investors and established dealerships to invest over $1.2 million in his extraordinary new car. The three-wheel Davis Automobile was an attractive, ultra-modern looking automobile that sat four abreast in its single front seat and sold for only $995.

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Photos: Eye candy at the 2009 Boston auto show

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh December 3, 2009 05:07 PM


Tesla coming to Boston auto show, 8 other brands call quits

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh November 20, 2009 04:55 PM

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(Clifford Atiyeh/Boston.com)

The Tesla Roadster near Pigeon Point Lighthouse in Pescadero, Calif. during a road test.

Tesla Motors, which opened a Manhattan showroom in July, will have a stand at this year's New England International Auto Show as the company prepares to open a Boston dealership next year.

The company is bringing at least two Roadster models, both specified in the more powerful and luxurious Sport trim, according to Don MacNeil, sales advisor for New England. Tesla, which in July received $465 million in federal loans to build the 2011 Model S sedan, is eager to expand its customer base beyond the roughly dozen Roadster owners here in New England. Tesla's six-month wait lists have "dropped through the floor," MacNeil said, to as little as 10 weeks.

While Tesla takes the Boston stage, a surprising roster of manufacturers are opting out: Infiniti, Mercedes, Jaguar, Land Rover, and Porsche. That's in addition to Saturn, Pontiac, and Hummer, vestiges the "new" General Motors can't get rid of fast enough.

Saab, however, will be there with the first new 9-5 sedan in more than 10 years. But with struggling auto sales comes budget cuts, and many automakers, including Nissan, aren't even showing up to the Los Angeles auto show that same week.

"They've pulled out because of the enormous costs," said Barbara Pudney, a spokeswoman for Paragon Group, the show's coordinator. "Because of economic stress, there aren't concepts this year."

To fill the void in the huge space of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Pudney said the show will have 150 modified and tuner vehicles from private owners and various car clubs.

The show opens Tuesday, Dec. 2 and runs through Sunday, Dec. 6.

Swedish faithful soldier on to car show, despite rain

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh October 19, 2009 02:46 PM

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(Clifford Atiyeh/Boston.com)

A 1960s-era Volvo 122 wagon sits among dozens of other Volvos and Saabs at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline on Sunday.

BROOKLINE—Even in the biting swirl of cold rain and wind, Peter Maitland was certain the Saab faithful would show up on the drenched, soupy lawn of the Larz Anderson Auto Museum with their cars. For what were they, Volvo owners?

"More likely you get Saab people at an event like this, in this kind of weather," Maitland said, his 1968 Saab 95 station wagon behind him in the muck.

While the museum's annual "Swedish Car Day" usually attracts more than 200 vehicles in fair weather, more than half of the 60 or so cars on Sunday were indeed Saabs (despite sponsorship from both Charles River Saab and Boston Volvo Village). Maitland, who has come for 10 years and won a best in-class award for his powder blue wagon, smirked as he described the two distinct camps of Swedish auto enthusiasts.

"There's a lot of people who just have Volvos," he said. "Most Saab people tend to know a lot more about their car and its heritage than most Volvo people."

But whether Volvo or Saab devotee, the crowd that gathered outside and within the museum were busy gawking and swapping car stories rather than debating a favorite brand.

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Vintage squirrel, Fiats take over Italian town

Posted by Bill Griffith October 14, 2009 02:08 PM

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(All photos: Bill Griffith/Boston.com)

The Scoiattolo (Italian for squirrel), drives through the northern Italian town of Malcesine.

MALCESINE, ITALY — Stumbling across a car show in a foreign country is a treat. It gives you a look at many of the vehicles that used to grace the local roads, plus a look at what others are collecting.

We were enjoying a weekend in town, about 80 miles northeast of Milan, drawn by the downhill mountain biking and Malcesine's annual Ciottolando con Gusto gourmet tour of the town. For dessert, we got the accompanying annual veterans car club show and rally (actually a parade).

The town parking lot, packed with vans and tents for a Saturday outdoor market, emptied out. At midnight, it was still full of revelers at the Ciottolando Festival. By 8 a.m. it was totally empty, soon to fill with vintage vehicles.

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A bird's eye glance of Benz hybrids

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh October 9, 2009 03:43 PM

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(Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff)

The view high above the Staples headquarters parking lot in Framingham was fantastic. But why was I hovering over the parking lot in a boom truck bucket in the first place? Well, as the operator started to give me a fast 360 degree twirl I too wondered this.

electric-crane.jpgThis particular Eaton bucket truck was a hybrid vehicle, part of a lineup of alternative fuel vehicles designed for commercial fleets.

Admittedly, I am not a commercial fleet owner nor do I plan to be one. So, from my bird's eye view of the assembled vehicles I chose two familiar looking Mercedes-Benz vehicles to look at.

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Herb Chambers' McLaren F1 and coffee

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh October 8, 2009 04:25 PM

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(Bill Polo/Globe File Photo, 2001)

Very few people have seen a McLaren F1 up close outside a magazine. Even those of us who caught Ralph Lauren's silver example at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts auto exhibition four years ago couldn't see the gold leaf under the engine lid, or contemplate what a resting 250-mph speedometer would look like slammed to the max.

Thanks to mega dealer Herb Chambers, who has a 1995 F1 in his exotic and classic car collection, car enthusiasts can see this supercar very close, and sip some hot brew while they're at it.

As a marketing effort to introduce his 46th dealership in the Massachusetts and Rhode Island area, BMW of Sudbury, Herb Chambers is launching the first of what he hopes will be a monthly gathering of "cars and coffee." It's an early morning, no-reservation auto event for cars and motorcycles of any kind (no model discrimination, but preferably not your 1991 Tercel).

Join Herb and whomever shows up (there should be enough, given the McLaren alone) from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. in the Bimmer parking lot on 128 Boston Post Rd. Even though the Bugatti Veyron demolished his F1's once-record 240 mph top speed, there's nothing like a little McLaren in the morning.

Among heavy duty hybrids, Staples goes all-electric

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh October 6, 2009 12:00 AM

Strolling amidst the alternative energy vehicles on display yesterday at the fifth AltWheels Fleet Day exposition in Framingham, Staples Inc. fleet equipment manager Michael C. Payette almost immediately started talking trash.

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“This may very well be the cleanest refuse truck you've seen in your life,” Payette said, stopping next to a green and white Peterbilt dump truck.

As Peterbilt district sales manager Bob Moreau explained, the trash hauler uses a “hydraulic launch assist” system. It stores pressure when the brakes are applied, then uses that force to propel the truck forward. In a truck that starts and stops constantly - up to 1,200 times a day - that conserves a lot of gas.

“You're saving two brake jobs a year,” Moreau said, “and [up to] 25 percent of the fuel.”

Also on display were more than 50 cars and trucks, many powered by electricity, compressed natural gas, or lithium-ion batteries.

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Real BAT cars at Concorso Italiano 2009

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh August 24, 2009 11:15 AM

Alfa-Romeo-BAT-turquoise-front.jpg

(All photos: Gene Ritvo/Boston.com)

By Peter Bourassa, Boston.com Correspondent

Held the Friday before the more serious Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, Concorso Italiano has always been a sort of "people's car show" filled with hundreds of predominantly bright red street cars from the Italian California car clubs.

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Bonham's at Monterey '09: Hailing the Green Goddess

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh August 24, 2009 10:38 AM

Daimler-Green-Goddess.jpg

(All photos: Gene Ritvo/Boston.com)

By Peter Bourassa, Boston.com Correspondent

Held at Quail Lodge in Carmel, Calif. on Friday, Aug. 14, the collection included several important and fascinating cars. The Daimler Green Goddess, one of only eight, that belonged to the late car and motorcycle collector, John Sweeney, former director of the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, sold for $249,000. The Green Goddess, thought not completely restored, was admirably prepared for this sale by local restorer and John's good friend, Spencer Guder of Spencer Restorations.

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Scenes from Pebble Beach 2009

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh August 19, 2009 10:52 AM


Photographer Gene Ritvo of Weston captured these stunning motors at what is perhaps the world's most famous classic car show. To view the non-Flash gallery, please go here.

Brookline's Italian car fest this Sunday

Posted by Bill Griffith July 31, 2009 05:23 PM

The good people at Larz Anderson Auto Museum call it Tutto Italiano (Everything Italian). The event happens this Sunday (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) when the museum's lawn fills with the likes of Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Lancia, Ducati, Moto Guzzi, Lamborghini, and De Tomaso.

In addition to the park and show, the museum will be selling raffle tickets for a chance to win a new Ducati 1198 motorcycle.

One vehicle that won't be there is Ferrari's latest model, the 458 Italiano, which was given a sneak preview this week and will be formally introduced at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September.

(Image from Larz Anderson Auto Museum.)

Driving the good life at Newport Concours

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh June 1, 2009 12:45 PM

Newport Concours d'EleganceBagpipers play in front of an Audi R8 at Newport's exclusive Carnegie Abbey Club.

The bites of grilled swordfish, a man claiming to own 37 cars, wine tasting, bagpipers, and an obnoxious Bentley owner who ripped a deafening backfire into my left ear were all quintessential parts of this past weekend's Newport Concours d'Elegance.

Now in its fourth year, the Concours brought more than 100 vintage cars and their well-heeled owners to Fort Adams State Park in Newport, R.I., the colonial coastal town lined with some of the nation's oldest and largest mansions. It was hard to pick a personal favorite among Sunday's exhibition of immaculate Pierce Arrows, Rolls-Royces, an aquamarine Isotto, woodies, and other long-gone marques. The definite loser was a custom 1999 Aston Martin V8 Vantage, a hideous machine sharing its front with a catfish. FULL ENTRY

Girls of Geneva: Who's your favorite Swiss miss?

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh March 6, 2009 10:14 AM

Lamborghini Murcielago LP670-4 SV(Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

OK, posting photos of attractive women next to shiny sheet metal is a cheap way to get attention online, but consider this a true physiological analysis.

If you're a typical male, chances are a woman has seduced you into purchasing something you wouldn't otherwise take off a whim. If you're a typical female, you can admit at least once that your gender has gotten you something for free. It's not fair, but this vicious, beautiful cycle will continue for eons.

Go here to see the gallery.

(For more photos, check out this 2009 gallery from British magazine iMotor, and for archive's sake, a gorgeous 2007 gallery from Autoblog.)

Two-headed Italian city car turns up again

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh March 3, 2009 02:51 PM

FioravantiTris.jpg(Fioravanti)

As automakers cut costs, perhaps they should become blatantly, honestly cheap and follow the Fioravanti Tris.

The Tris, which uses the same bumpers, lights, and doors on all sides of the car, first debuted nine years ago and is showing again at the Geneva Auto Show. While not much has changed since, the Tris is still a robust lesson in trimming manufacturing costs through the use of minimalist, modular design. Provided, of course, that style and embarrassment doesn't matter to the driver.

If a car like the Tris ever came to production, traffic cops would constantly ticket it for parking in the opposite direction of the street. Perhaps Fioravanti could install a steering wheel in the back to clear that up.

Wiesmann MF4 Roadster, the Shelby/Morgan love child we can't have

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh March 3, 2009 01:26 PM

WiesmannMF4roadster.jpg(Wiesmann)

At last year's Geneva Auto Show, I was fortunate to sit in a Wiesmann MF4 coupe, a visual cross between a Morgan Aero 8 and a Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe. Everything seemed so deliciously old-world: the smooth leather covering every imaginable surface, metal toggle switches, and a cramped cockpit with an amazing view of an obscenely long and narrow hood.

For 2009, this tiny German manufacturer added some needed headroom to the MF4 in the form of a beautiful softtop roadster. As with many cars in Geneva, it's off limits for Americans.

Two BMW V-8s supply the power: a 4.8 liter, 362 horsepower engine from the 550i and the M3's snarling small-block, good for 414 horsepower. A 6-speed manual is standard, with the option of a 6-speed automatic or 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox. The M3-powered MF4 S hits 62 miles per hour in 4.4 seconds, says Wiesmann, and there's little doubt to that claim.

Bentley Supersports, the Congress-friendly supercar

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh February 25, 2009 11:11 AM

BentleySupersports.jpg

Bentley has undone the Photoshop shadows on the ethanol-powered Continental shown last month, and - ta-da! - there's the usual and beautiful wheel, interior, and rear fascia upgrades. We predicted 650 horsepower and a 205-mile-per-hour top speed for the marque's fastest production car (it's actually 621 horsepower and 204 miles per hour).

Some 243 pounds have been cut, which means the Continental GT only weighs 5,000 pounds (about the same as a Hummer H3T or Lexus LS600hL). In place of the rear seat is a crossbar for added rigidity, and the interior also gets a mash of bright red leather, black Alcantara trim, and deeply-bolstered bucket seats.

The Supersports is part of Bentley's plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 15 percent across its entire lineup by 2012, the magic year when General Motors is profitable and the nation's fuel economy is so improved that daisies grow out of tailpipes. And like every cradle-to-grave estimate on alternative fuel, Bentley's claim that the Supersports cuts C02 emissions by 70 percent over the regular Continental is about as accurate as Timothy Geithner's tax returns.

But if Bentley must cite environmental numbers to keep Congress from outlawing their cars, we'll publish them no matter what. Zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.7 seconds, however, is nothing but the whole truth.

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iPhone car ignition powers Swiss concept

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh February 19, 2009 11:28 AM

Rinspeed-interior.jpg(Rinspeed)

An array of automotive-themed iPhone applications – accelerometers, parking reminders, racing games – are little more than cute amusements for waiting in the dentist's office. But the most innovative and useful auto app isn't available for download - it controls a concept car made by Rinspeed, the wild Swiss company responsible for last year's submersible Lotus Elise.

Open the fighter jet canopy of the Rinspeed iChange, climb into the center driver's seat, and plug in your iPhone. A green starter button graphic appears; press it, and the electric sports car is ready to go. Another button closes the canopy, while another raises it several inches to accommodate two rear seat passengers (hence the word "Change"). Need to double-park and grab a quick sandwich? No problem, the hazard indicator switch is there, too, as well as the headlight controls.

It's official, iPhone fanatics: song recognition and 3-D topographic maps are officially lame.

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This BMW is a real PAS

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh February 13, 2009 03:43 PM

BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo(BMW)

So this, a lowered BMW X6, is Chris Bangle's latest, greatest, and final creation. Where is the media firestorm this time?

Bangle, the company's now-departed design chief, has been responsible for the most controversial cars in BMW's history, and despite the criticism, his work has helped sell more BMWs than ever.

His signature "surface flames" and infamous "Bangle butts" have turned every BMW product launch since the 2002 7 Series into a group session of electroshock therapy. Aside from Infiniti's wild FX, mainstream production cars haven't gotten much livelier than a new BMW.

But Bangle's 5 Series Gran Turismo concept looks very tame - and dare we say it - unoriginal, if only because the Z4, 6 Series, 5 Series, and X6 have completely desensitized the auto show crowd. We've seen the big nostrils before, and the body creases and flat, puffy rear ends.

The only bit of surprise comes from the marketing department, which never fails at adding new entries to the dictionary of useless automotive acronyms. Instead of admitting what the 5 Series Gran Turismo really is - a crossover, inflated station wagon, or Chrysler Pacifica clone - BMW has proclaimed it the world's first "Progressive Activity Sedan." According to the press release, that means it "combines the looks and appearance of a sporty BMW Sedan, a modern Sports Activity Vehicle, and a classic Gran Turismo."

Buyers still call the "Sport Activity Vehicle" X5 a plain-old sporty SUV, and still are figuring out what the "Sport Activity Coupe" X6 actually is. When the 5 Series PAS debuts in Geneva next month, Chris won't be there to explain.

Corvette concept armed for 'Transformers'

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh February 11, 2009 02:50 PM

Transformers Corvette concept(GM)

This concept Corvette - just unwrapped at the Chicago Auto Show - will be a new character in the upcoming film "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." Other Chevrolet "characters" include a purple Volt, two Beat subcompacts, and of course, the yellow "bumblebee" Camaro.

Sadly, the Corvette concept won't get on the Bowling Green line for production, though its silky surface, mixed with angled creases like on the Lamborghini Reventon, would translate well into future designs.

Chevrolet says the Transformer Vette is reminiscent of the 1959 Stingray roadster concept. If that doesn't ring a bell, remember the C4 with a marine V-12 engine? Or the mid-engine CERV III? Neither does anyone except Motor Trend, which reviewed the 1959 Stingray and other Corvette concepts that never went past the auto show floor.

For an overkill of photos, head over to Jalopnik.

SHOtime! Taurus moniker returns with 365 hp

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh February 11, 2009 10:25 AM

Ford Taurus SHO(Ford)

After a 10-year absence, the Super High Output nameplate is back - this time, on a much larger car with far more power. Taurus fans - who knew? - have hung a "mission accomplished" banner on the website bringbackthesho.com as the car was unveiled this morning in Chicago. Clearly, there's more than a few people willing to fork over $38,000 for this fully-loaded four-door.

Ford's 3.5 liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 makes a healthy 365 horsepower, 130 more than the last SHO's Yamaha V-8. Besides dual exhaust tips, a subtle rear decklid spoiler and wheels up to 20 inches, there's not much to differentiate the SHO from the standard Taurus, but according to Ford, that's the point of its "authentic sleeper sedan formula."

Unlike the first 1989 SHO, there won't be a manual transmission, but the six-speed paddle-shifter automatic will blip the throttle on downshifts. For a detailed history on all three prior SHOs, head over to bringbackthesho.com or watch this commercial.

Ford Transit: The deliveryman dream van?

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh February 9, 2009 11:36 AM

Ford Transit Connect(Ford)

Admit it. You'd rather make a delivery in the Euro-chic Transit Connect over that paltry Econoline.

Ford has sold more than 600,000 Transit Connects across Europe, where skinny high-top vans work wonders on the continent's narrow city streets. Thanks to the Dodge/Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Americans are somewhat used to this style, but breaking the mold of the US commercial market is like trying to convince R.V. owners to buy minivans. It'll be tough at first, but Ford has finally recognized that its smaller, sleeker, and more fuel-efficient overseas models are an easy way to start making money again. (The Euro-spec Focus and Fiesta subcompact are coming in 2010.)

The Transit, shown in New York last year as a taxi concept, will debut at the Chicago auto show tomorrow and arrive at dealerships this summer. Ford claims 20 miles per gallon in the city, which should be a big improvement over the heavy-duty Econoline, which is exempt from EPA reporting. An electric version with a claimed 100-mile range will go on sale next year.

Two handy options: Tool Link, co-developed with DeWalt and ThingMagic of Cambridge, tracks cargo and tools with radio frequency identification tags, and an on-board computer allows Internet access, printing, and even remote access to an office PC.

Renaissance of the American sedan

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh January 16, 2009 06:11 PM

2010 Ford Taurus

The media would have you believe that Detroit is completely lost in the dark, an industry that has ignored the plight of the little, lightweight gas-sippers that are supposedly saving the world across the Atlantic. Writers on the auto beat are fixated on these cars, and so too, they say, is the American public.

The interest is indeed real, and the Big Three's European divisions have made happy profits from the sales of premium compact cars as their home bases struggled. Upcoming hatches like the Ford Fiesta and Chevrolet Spark will fill a void in the American market, and will no doubt attract younger buyers who want to save space and gas.

But compact cars have never been ideal for families, the industry's core demographic. Unlike Europeans, who like cramming relatives and luggage into Peugeots and Opels, the majority of Americans and their families like room. Those who don't salivate for giant SUVs and crossovers shop for midsize and large sedans, the bread and butter of American motoring that accounts for about 43 percent of all US car sales.

There's no bread or butter in the 2010 Ford Taurus and 2010 Buick LaCrosse. Instead of good intentions mixed with bland execution, there's spice, upscale flavor, and a wholehearted desire in these cars to lead the industry - as Detroit once did - by design. If these two Yankees drive as fantastic as they look, then Detroit is roaring into 2009 with its brights on.

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Latest green cars from Detroit

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh January 13, 2009 02:51 PM

Chevrolet Volt(REUTERS/Mark Blinch)

Check out the hot hybrid, plug-in, and electric cars that premiered at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show. Save for Chrysler, all of these cars will be on the road this year and next.

Lexus submits to four-banger hybrid

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh January 12, 2009 10:53 AM

LexusHS-609.jpg(REUTERS/Mark Blinch)

Lexus has been the only manufacturer to market hybrids as top-tier luxury trims instead of frugal, more expensive economy cars. The V-8-powered GS 450h sedan, RX 450h crossover and flagship $115,000 LS 600hL are not models in restraint, nor are they fuel-efficient. Saying "hybrid" to a Lexus dealer just meant another item checked off on an already lengthy list of features.

But even the affluent are cutting back and downsizing in this dour economy, all the better to introduce the Prius-based HS 250h, the "world's first dedicated luxury hybrid," according to Lexus. A 2.4 liter four-cylinder in a Lexus is also a world first, but those worried about noise, vibration, and harshness should know that Lexus surely did - and that the car probably has enough dampers, insulation, and seals to muffle five screaming babies.

Styling, however, is typical Lexus, a hybrid of attractive lines and copycat curves. With its large blue oval "L" in the middle of a three-bar chrome grill, the front fascia practically screams "Ford Fusion" (a good thing for Ford). Flat, square body panels shape the doors, trunk, and roof into a mold of the last-generation Mazda 6, but they contribute to a slick 0.27 Cd drag coefficient.

EPA estimates and pricing haven't been released, but Lexus says the HS 250h will return 30 percent better mileage than its most efficient model, the combined 24-mile-per-gallon IS 250. Expect the first models to arrive "late summer," right when gas prices should peak. Lexus really does think of everything.

For more photos, see the full entry.

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All eyes on Detroit's debuts

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh January 5, 2009 01:21 PM

SRX-609.jpg

All eyes - including pairs that normally turn blind at the sight of auto shows - will be fixed on Detroit this weekend.

Car enthusiasts with burned retinal images of Ferrari Californias and Corvette ZR1s already know what to expect at the 2009 North American International Auto Show, the industry's first of the year (there won't be any Ferraris, actually, or Nissans or Porsches ...). But since General Motors and Chrysler weaseled their way into $17.4 billion government loans (plus an extra $6 billion for GM and its GMAC financing division, and possibly later, Ford), everyone else is suddenly interested. Interested, that is, to see the cars sell.

Judging by the debuts from GM and Ford, they should indeed. Tired of playing fifth fiddle to the Lexus RX, Cadillac has overhauled the SRX crossover into a tighter, more aggressive package (from January through November 2008, Lexus sold five times as many RX crossovers as Cadillac). The current model's rear-wheel drive, optional V-8, and third-row seating are scrapped in favor of front-wheel drive, a 5.5-inch shorter wheelbase, and a turbocharged V-6. The CTS wagon will also debut, but expect this model to be as rare as a 5 Series Touring around these parts.

The Ford Fusion Hybrid is nothing short of a breakthrough for mid-size family sedans, promising spectacular mileage without looking like an egg (Dan Neil reported 52 miles per gallon in his mixed city-highway testing). The Taurus is also getting a slab-sided makeover at the Detroit show, but the ancient, US-spec Focus remains.

Chrysler, however, doesn't have any new or significantly-updated production models to show. Besides the hairy Dodge Challenger introduced last year, there's nothing but hearsay (Jalopnik reports the possibility of updated 300 and Charger models later this year).

This won't be an easy year for any automaker. But the industry has unwittingly created a spectator sport far better than reality competition shows on television, a literal race to build innovative and unconventional products before the money runs dry. May the best cars (and companies) win.

Elise doesn't want you to leave

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh December 5, 2008 04:30 PM

The Lotus Elise may zip to 60 miles per hour in under five seconds, but getting out of it takes twice the time. Luckily, only a few security guards at the New England Auto Show saw this embarrassing exit. Don't try this in heels.

About Boston Overdrive

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Contributors

Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
In the garage: 1995 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (by association)
Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
In the garage: 2006 Subaru Baja
AAA's Car Doctor, John Paul John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England, a certified mechanic, and a Globe columnist. He hosts a weekly radio show on WROL.
In the garage: Hyundai Sante Fe, Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible
Craig Fitzgerald has been writing about cars, motorcycles, and the automotive industry since 1999. He is the former editor of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car.
In the garage: 1968 Buick Riviera, 1996 Buick Roadmaster, 1974 Honda CB450
Keith Griffin is president of the New England Motor Press Association and edits the used car section on About.com. He also writes for the Hartford Business Journal and various weekly newspapers in Connecticut.
In the garage: Mazda 5, Dodge Neon
George Kennedy is a senior writer for WheelsTV in Acton, which produces video reviews for Yahoo, MSN, and other auto websites.
In the garage: Lifted 1999 Jeep Cherokee
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