2016 Chevy Volt 3D Photos & Reveal Video

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I think it’s safe to assume that the first Chevrolet Volt was designed to look like an electric car. For the second generation of GM’s extended range hybrid car, GM Design has taken a more conservative look, resulting in a Volt that still shares some styling cues with its predecessor but looks more like a conventional car.

There have been some technical improvements as GM continues to develop its battery tech. The 2016 Volt is also the first North American application of GM’s new family of all aluminum direct injected four cylinder engines. It’s a bit larger at 1.5 liters than the 1.4 L ICE in the first Volt, but it weighs 100 lbs less than that engine, which has an iron block.


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The 1.5-liter is the first of GM’s new four-cylinder, direct-injection, aluminum-block engines in North America. Despite a compression ratio of 12.5:1 (compared with the 1.4’s 10.5:1), the 1.5 runs on regular gas and makes 101 horsepower. And the powertrain is 100 pounds lighter than the outgoing car’s, useful considering that Volt drivers generally prefer to motor electrically, carrying the engine as dead weight.

Range is up 31% to 50 miles on battery power and fuel economy when powered by gasoline has also been improved over the 1st gen Volt from 37 mpg to 41 mpg. Volt owners will also save money on the gasoline itself since the new Volt takes 87 octane, not premium gas like the original.

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2016 Porsche Boxster Spyder World Debut: 3D Photos

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All it takes for Porsche to earn back the good graces of their enthusiast fanboys, after introducing SUVs and sedans, is to come out with what looks like a purist sports car. This time it was the Boxster Spyder, said to have all of the essentials with none of the fluff. That may be so and the Boxster may be a very capable performance car, but Porsche is still the most cynical car company in the world. They’ve gotten their enthusiast fans to buy into the notion that it’s the success of the Cayenne and Macan CUVs that allows them to make what purist cars they do make.

Interestingly, Porsche’s version of their minimalist sports car has a styling feature borrowed from their most expensive road car, the 918 hybrid, fairings that run from behind the seat headrests to the back deck of the car. They also evoke the single fairing/fin on the 1950s era 550 Spyder racers.

The Porsche-Piech family that controls 51% of the VW group’s shares likes having the family name associated with fast cars, but I believe that they like being rich even more.

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The Rarest McLaren Road Car – McLarent F1 Longtail XP GT Prototype- 3D Photos

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When the McLaren F1 went racing, it was very successful even though Gordon Murray never meant for it to be a competition car. That’s because it was very much a “Formula One car for the road”. In 1995, the F1 GTR dominated the 24 hour race at LeMans, taking 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th place finishing positions. However, competitors kept pushing the envelope, making race cars with only the barest homologation. To respond, McLaren decided to build a car meant for racing, with all the aero advantages late 1990s tech could provide. To make it legal, the factory built just three road cars with the “longtail” body and revised front bodywork. The result was that in 1997, the F1 Longtail won five of the 11 races of that year’s FIA GT Championship, and finished first and second in its class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Of those three homologation special road cars, two were bought by private customers with the original prototype remaining in factory hands. To celebrate the introduction of the new 570S model and the Sport series, McLaren brought out the “XP GT” protoype, the rarest McLaren road car in existence.

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Much More McLaren Madness: McLaren P1 GTR – 3D Photos

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If you’ve been thinking of getting a track car and you have a spare $3.1 million burning a hole in your pockets, McLaren has just the thing for you, the P1 GTR, a not street legal, lightweight and track focused version of their hybrid P1 hypercar. It’s stripped down, has 1,000 total horsepower compared to the street P1’s 918 HP, has a Formula One style carbon fiber steering wheel, and to save weight the seat is positioned for the buyer and then it is rigidly bolted to the chassis. To that level or personalization is added the McLaren P1™ GTR Driver Programme.

As Paul Mackenzie, McLaren P1™ GTR Programme Director explains, ‘The programme is about enabling our drivers to get the most out of both the McLaren P1™ GTR and themselves. Before they get out on track, each driver will join us at the McLaren Technology Centre (MTC) and have unprecedented access to our cutting-edge facilities, including the racing simulator. They’ll build up a greater understanding of the car’s capabilities and true performance, as well as learning braking and turn-in points before they arrive at the circuit. It also allows them to analyse and discuss their performance ahead of testing themselves in the real-world situation.

‘It is a programme that has been developed over the years for our Formula 1 team and young drivers. It’s not just about fitness, but looks at the full wellbeing of the driver, preparing them mentally and physically for the adrenaline of an unforgettable track experience.’

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The 2016 Range Rover Very Expensive SVAutobiography – 3D Photos

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The base Range Rover is a pretty luxurious vehicle, starting at a bit over $80,000. Take a base RR, put in the 550 HP version of the corporate V8 and another $100K or more worth of high end and bespoke appointments by Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicles and you get the Range Rover SVAutobiography (one word, please). It has a stunning black over silver two tone paint job and an interior (and reclining rear seats) that will satisfy the most discriminating of Chinese entrepreneurs (or party connected cronies). At the New York auto show press conference introducing the RR SVA, Gerry McGovern, Jaguar Land Rover’s director of design, alluded to the maximum Range Rover as being at home in New York’s affluent Hamptons, and closed his description of the SVAutobiography with, “And, it’s very expensive.” I’m surprised that they didn’t just call it the Range Rover Very Expensive since the price tag is surely part of the appeal. Veblen goods indeed.

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More McLaren Madness: McLaren 675LT – 3D Photos

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I’m not sure what the LT stands for in McLaren’s nomenclature. I’m guessing that it’s more likely to mean “lightweight, track”, rather than “Lawrence Taylor”. The 675LT is the most powerful, lightest version of McLaren’s Super series of cars based around the 650S (itself a cosmetic and performance upgrade of the previous 12C). The version they brought to the New York Auto Show was painted in a subtle and quite beautiful dove grey, a color that complements the car’s shape very well. McLaren communications director Wayne Bruce told me that he picked out the color for the show car himself. Well done, Mr. Bruce, well done.

Over the years it’s become pretty much standard form for midengine sports cars to have their engines exposed, either al fresco or under glass or clear plastic. The McLaren 675KT has a tempered glass engine cover with beautifully cut and ground vents that makes some rather notable Ferrari’s plastic engine covers look cheap.

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McLaren Madness: McLaren 650S Spider – 3D Photos

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The introduction of the 570S was a big deal for McLaren so they pulled out all the stops. I’m not sure why a metaphor from pipe organs fits high performance cars, but the event was important enough that McLaren brought out an example of each of their now three distinct lines of cars, the entry level Sport series, the heart of the lineup Super series (based around the 650S) and the P1 related Ultimate series. For the heart of the lineup, they brought out a candy red 650S Spider. Fortunately for our fans of 3D photography, they had the MDDs (McLaren dihedral doors, in contradistinction to LSDs, Lamborghini Style Doors – which actually only come on the top of the line Lambos, not the Gallardo or its Huracan replacement) open.

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World Debut: McLaren 570S – 3D Photos & Video

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The new McLaren 570S is a fabulous looking car. I think it looks better than any of the other McLarens including the uber hybrid P1, which looks a bit insectoid to my eyes. In any case, the 570S and it’s less powerful 540S sibling, just introduced at the Shanghai auto show, bring the McLaren brand to a new, lower price point. While the new Sport series cars are the cheapest cars that McLaren will likely sell, they’ll be competing with the most expensive Porsches, the venerable 911. While the base 911 costs about $85,000, basic options will put the car over six figures (a common thing with top of the line German cars, a $90K car can quickly escalate to a buck twenty five), and the 911 Turbo starts at $150K, which is what the 540 horsepower 540S costs, and the Porsche isn’t made of carbon fiber.


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Until now, Porsche has pretty much had the market space between the Chevy Corvette at the low end, and entry level Ferraris at the high end all to itself. It will be interesting to see how the folks in Zuffenhausen react.

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2016 Lexus RX350 – 3D Photos

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Toyota’s Lexus brand pretty much created the luxury crossover segment with the first RX 17 years ago, and they sold over 100,000 of them in the U.S. last year. They introduced the next RX at the recent New York Auto Show and while it bristles with technology and comforts with luxury, I’m not quite sure how America’s moms will react to the new corporate face of Lexus, what the company calls its “spindle” grille, particularly since the new RX is the most in your face version of it yet. No doubt “spindle” is a reference to Toyota’s origins as a maker of weaving looms. Critics, though, say it’s more reminiscent of the face of the alien Predator from the movies series of the same name. Frankly, the Lexus nameplate probably means more to the families who buy the RX than the styling so my guess is that the RX will continue to sell in the six figures.

If you note, Lexus designers have embraced Jaguar designer Ian Callum’s controversial use of black plastic panels at the Jaguar XJ’s C pillars to visually isolate the roof from the lower body.

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Ron & Jim Kaczmar’s 1951 Crosley Super Station Wagon – 3D Photos

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Jim Kaczmar got his love for Crosley automobiles from his older brother Ron, who bought his first Crosley in 1957 when the older Kaczmar was just 15 years old. In time, Ronnie Kaczmar became a valuable a resource to the Crosley collecting community, providing information, selling parts and restoring cars. Now that Ron has passed away, brother Jim honors his memory by continuing to show the family cars. This 1951 Super station wagon was driven by Ron and the brothers’ father Walter to all 48 contiguous United States.

You can read my post about the Kaczmar brothers and their Crosleys over at The Truth About Cars.

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