Sunday, November 18, 2018

“Runs good, some rust, RECARO seats, needs bodywork”: As the taste of car enthusiasts evolves, a legendary seating brand endures—and looks ahead to our driving future

Martin Klein, CEO of RECARO Automotive Seating with RECARO seats at SEMA 2018
RECARO Automotive Seating CEO Martin Klein at SEMA 2018.
Photo by Bill Hayward
By Bill Hayward
Quick, how many brands of automotive seats can you think of, off the top of your head?

Don’t cheat. No Googling allowed.

Chances are, unless you’re highly steeped in automotive-industry minutiae, the list of seating brands you can think of is very short, with only one entry: RECARO.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Maybe you haven’t thought about spark plugs much lately, but NGK’s SEMA announcements show the technology continues to drive ahead

Drag-racing driver Megan Meyer, sponsored by NGK Spark Plugs,
greets automotive-industry attendees of the 2018 SEMA Show
at the NGK booth.
By Bill Hayward
If you don’t spend much time thinking about automotive spark plugs these days, don’t feel guilty. You’re in good company. Thinking about spark plugs a lot less often is something that has been to some extent encouraged since, say, the 1980s.

That said, some of us are old enough to still remember a time when folk wisdom, perhaps with a push from the auto repair industry, held that an “annual tune up” that included changing ignition parts like plugs, points, and ignition wires, was an essential element of automotive maintenance.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

‘This Hellephant is a beast:’ FCA unveils 1,000-horsepower 426 Hemi engine at SEMA 2018. World so not shocked. World thinks it’s awesome anyway. World right.

1968 Dodge Super Charger concept car
Photo by Bill Hayward.
You’ve got to give FCA credit: they sure know how to put on one Hellephant of a show at a tradeshow.

A ginormous crowd was gathered at the FCA booth on the lower level South Hall at the Las Vegas convention center, well ahead of the traditional 4:26 p.m. start time, commemorating the 426-cubic-inch displacement of the original Mopar hemi engine.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Kia absolutely crushes it at SEMA with stunning DUB custom Stinger, K900

2019 DUB Kia Stinger
2019 DUB Kia Stinger custom build at SEMA 2018.
Photo by Bill Hayward
At their opening-day press conferences at SEMA 2018 yesterday, some of the other major automakers drew bigger crowds than Kia did, and had more to boast about in terms of new developments like performance upgrades.

But Kia stole the show when it comes to customizations that can surprise and delight a crowd by bringing out hidden potential, provoking a fresh reassessment of strengths in their production lineup that could be easy to overlook.

This was especially true of two of Kia’s eight reveals at SEMA: a 2019 Kia Stinger and a 2019 Kia K900, both reinterpreted by DUB, the southern-California-based magazine publisher and customizer.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Nexen Tire announces more booths at SEMA, salutes injured veterans with hot Dodge Challenger build

Nexen Tire custom Purple Heart Dodge Challenger build
Photo: Nexen Tire America
Nexen Tire America announced yesterday that they are expanding their booth locations for the 2018 SEMA Show (Las Vegas, October 30–November 1), where they will showcase five custom builds, including the Custom Nexen Tire Purple Heart Dodge Challenger R/T, on display in Booth #61012 along with Nexen’s other show vehicles.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Yes, young people are interested in driving and accessorizing cars, SEMA research finds

Ford EcoSport
Photo: Ford Media Center
Whether your business is cars or automotive accessories, if you’re a smart business operator you know that a thorough, data-enriched understanding of demographics is critical to your success—at least in the long run.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

See you at SEMA 2018?

Classic car on display at SEMA 2018.
Photo: SEMA.
Yes, it’s official. Auto Enthusiasts Newsblaster will indeed be represented at SEMA 2018 (October 30-November 2 in Las Vegas) this year, by yours truly.

I will of course want to check out the many cool builds scheduled to be on display, like the Maxlider Brothers/Union Pacific Industries 1966 Ford Bronco resto-mod and the Prestone Javelin AMX by Ringbrothers. Watch for photos of goodies like these to show up on our website and social media.  I plan to be posting throughout the show to our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

If you’re shopping for a $450,000 car, here’s some good news: Ford will make an extra 350 Ford GT supercars

2019 Ford GT
Photo: Ford Media Center
Apparently, there are more people around with an extra $450,000 burning holes in their pockets, because Ford announced on Thursday that they will increase production of the current-generation Ford GT to 1,350, up from the 1,000 they had originally planned.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Eat your heart out, Tesla—check out this cool electric car that a Nissan predecessor company built over 70 years ago.

1947 Tama electric car.
Photo: Nissan Official Media Newsroom.
OK. So it’s not quite as sleek and sexy as a Tesla Roadster.

But this vintage 1947 Tama electric vehicle built by Tokyo Electro Automobile Co., Ltd., has a funky charm of its own. And for Japanese car enthusiasts, it might be pretty cool to think that a company that is part of Nissan’s history was thinking this early about the benefits of electrification, in response to an energy crisis of its time.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Chevrolet set to show off new crate engines in delicious vintage Chevy builds at SEMA 2018

1873 Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna build - SEMA 2018
Photo: Chevrolet Pressroom.
If the term “crate engine” makes you think only of the “Put a 350 in it, man!” crowd, it might be time for you to take a fresh look.

While it may be true that, as Matt Farah observed during a chat with Jalopnik’s Kurt Bradley on The Smoking Tire podcast this week, a lot more people are talking on the Interwebs about doing crazy LS swaps these days than actually doing them, the Chevrolet crate engine lineup offers a considerable depth and breadth of swap-friendly options, with nearly 50 motors to choose from.

Monday, October 15, 2018

GM says optional extended ‘bumper-to-bumper’ warranty ‘breaks new ground’

Photo: GM Corporate Newsroom.
Coming off a rough third quarter that saw an 11 percent sales drop, GM now seems to be betting that an option announced today to purchase a “no questions asked” limited warranty offering an extended period of “bumper-to-bumper” coverage will be enough to entice more consumers to buy a new Chevrolet, GMC, Buick, or Cadillac vehicle.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

If you’re interested in automotive industry jobs, FCA might make you very happy, survey says

Recruiters greet candidates at an FCA job fair.
Photo: FCA USMedia Website
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) stated this week that they have scored among the top companies in the United States—not just in the car business, but overall—in providing a positive, transparent, and insightful experience for career seekers.

The automaker’s performance as a prospective employer was good enough this year to earn them a 2018 North American Candidate Experience Award (CandE Award), in a competition organized each year by Talent Board, a nonprofit that conducts research on the quality of the job candidate experience.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Well, son of a DAT: Here’s one vintage Datsun/Nissan product that you probably won’t find a tuner chip for

1933 Nissan Phaeton
Photo: Nissan USA Official Media Newsroom
My weekly travels often involve a stop at a strip shopping center where there is both an e-cig store and a Domino’s pizza location. No, I’m not patronizing either of those establishments—my weekly visits have an entirely different purpose that there’s no real need to go into.

Apparently, having both a vaping store and a mostly-delivery pizza joint in the neighborhood is the perfect formula for making a parking lot look like there’s a cars and coffee for the tuner-dudes crowd going on, even when there is not a planned car-guys event taking place.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Dammerman car collection helps drive Saratoga Auto Auction to nearly $6 million in sales

Auctioneer sells vehicles at the 2018 Saratoga Auto Auction
Photo: Saratoga Automobile Museum.
The Saratoga Automobile Museum has credited the 44-vehicle Dennis Dammerman car collection, consigned by the estate of the late GE Vice Chairman Dennis Dammerman, with an important role in propelling sales to nearly $6 million in the second annual Saratoga Auto Auction on September 21 and 22 in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

We’re looking forward to seeing this stunning 1966 Ford Bronco resto-mod at SEMA 2018

A blue and white 1966 Ford Bronco resto-mod
Photo: United Pacific Industries.
To restore, or to resto-mod?

In the automotive hobby, it’s one of those eternal questions of nearly Shakespearean proportions. And it’s a question that can become very personal and emotionally charged depending on the point of view of the individual enthusiast.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

The votes are in: and this year’s SEMA Award finalists are…

2018 SEMA Award finalists.
Photo: SEMA.
The Specialty Equipment Manufacturing Association announced yesterday that automotive-industry exhibitors of the upcoming 2018 SEMA Show (October 30–November 2 at the Las Vegas Convention Center) have voted to select finalists for the SEMA Award, which honors automakers for producing accessory-friendly vehicles.

Finalists for the 2018 SEMA Award were selected in five categories: car, truck, 4x4/SUV, sport compact, and powersports vehicle—the latter of which is a newly created category for the SEMA Awards competition. Awards will be presented to winners at the SEMA Vehicle Reveal in Las Vegas on Monday, October 29, the day before the official opening of the 2018 SEMA show.

Friday, October 5, 2018

RECALL ALERT: Toyota recalls nearly 170,000 Tundra, Sequoia, and Avalon vehicles

Photo: Toyota USA Newsroom.
Approximately 168,000 Toyota vehicles, including certain 2018–2019 Toyota Tundra pickups and Toyota Sequoia SUVs, as well as some 2019 Toyota Avalon passenger cars, are being recalled to address an airbag defect, the automaker announced today.

Citing “inappropriate programming,” Toyota states that the airbag electronic control unit (ECU) may erroneously detect a fault as the vehicle starts, potentially disabling one or more of the crash-detection sensors. If a crash occurs in these conditions, the result could be the failure to deploy of side curtain airbags, front and knee airbags, or both, increasing the risk of injury.

RECALL ALERT: Toyota recalls more than 800,000 Prius and Prius v vehicles

Photo: Toyota USA newsroom.
Toyota announced a safety recall today that affects some 807,000 vehicles in the United States, including 2010-2014 model year Toyota Prius and 2012-2014 Prius v vehicles.

The automaker states that, in certain situations, the affected vehicles may not enter failsafe driving mode as they are designed to do in response to certain hybrid system faults. In this situation, the vehicle may lose power and stall. Although Toyota states that power steering and braking would remain operational, a stall at higher speeds could make a crash more likely.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Automotive safety technology might save your life… but it might not save you much money on your car insurance, study finds

blind spot monitoring
Photo: FCA Media website.
Research organizations such as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety are now compiling evidence that automotive technology features like blind-spot monitoring and lane departure alerts are proving effective in preventing accidents, as reported in the Insurance Journal and elsewhere.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Fiat Chrysler reports record September sales, Ford and GM down

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio
2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio. Photo: FCA Media website.
September sales reports from the automotive industry are out. Although it turned out to be a bearish month for two of the Big Three, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles boasted their biggest September in nearly two decades, with sales of 199,819 vehicles led by Ram and Jeep.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Auto Enthusiasts Newsblaster recognized on top automotive blogs list

Feedspot, a news aggregation and topic-driven content discovery website, has recognized Auto Enthusiasts Newsblaster on its international list of top automotive blogs that “every car enthusiast must read.”

Gaining entry to this list puts Auto Enthusiasts Newsblaster in the respected company of such widely know automotive websites as Motor Trend Magazine, Car and Driver, Autoblog, and Jalopnik.

In their evaluation process for inclusion on this list, Feedspot ranks blogs on a set of criteria that includes:

  • Reputation and ranking in Google
  • Popularity and influence on social media sites
  • Content quality, consistency, and frequency

Each website is also individually vetted by Feedspot’s editorial team.

“It is delightful that Auto Enthusiasts Newsblaster, after less than one year of publishing history, has been able to make enough of an impact in the online automotive media space to gain entry to Feedspot’s list of top blogs in the category,” said Bill Hayward, Editor & Publisher, Auto Enthusiasts Newsblaster.

“As always, I am grateful for the support of the readers who are already enjoying our content, and hopeful that our presence on Feedspot will facilitate our discovery by more enthusiasts who share our passion for maximizing their enjoyment of automotive life and culture—no matter what they drive.”

Monday, October 1, 2018

Waking up to the debate about the efficiency and environmental impact of electric vehicles

I guess I really do eat this stuff for breakfast.

When I awakened this morning, the first things I saw in both my Facebook feed and my email inbox were highly relevant to the ongoing debate on the merits of electric vehicles. The first was a Facebook post featuring photos of a Tesla at a charging station, and the second was an e-mailed press release announcing a partnership between technology company Semcon and hydrogen fuel-cell producer Powercell.

Friday, September 28, 2018

In the mood for something retro? How about a new Fiat 500 1957 Edition?

1957 Fiat 500 ad
Photo: FCA Media website.
It’s hard to keep up with the many flavors of Fiat 500. Clearly, a Fiat 500 is not for everybody. The basic characteristics of the variations that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) markets under the 500 nameplate invite a number of obvious criticisms—too small, too quirky-looking for some tastes, too underpowered.

And for a car that looks so bleepin’ little, they’re actually surprisingly heavy—not a great quality if you’re looking for a small car that you can have fun chucking around.

But, if nothing else, the Fiat 500 lineup adds a lot of personality to an automotive market today that, overall, from a design perspective, at least, is pretty humdrum and samey-samey. For the driver who simply wants to stand out as different or make some kind of a contrarian statement, a Fiat 500 fits the bill quite well.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Vintage car with no Bluetooth? Amazon’s new Echo Auto could be a good solution.

Vintage Plymouth AM car radio
Photo: Tiffany Bailey (Wikimedia Commons).
Amazon announced a new device last week that could expand smartphone connectivity options to those of us who drive older cars that haven’t been upgraded with aftermarket stereos featuring all the fancy-schmancy Bluetooth technology.

As long as your car stereo has a 3.5mm auxiliary input, you’ll be able to plug in the new Amazon Echo Auto, which can then connect to your smartphone through the Alexa app, enabling you to use Alexa voice commands to access features available through your existing phone plan, such as music, navigation, and hands-free calling.

Friday, September 21, 2018

A car that we’re glad exists: Nissan announces pricing for the 2019 Versa Note

2019 Nissan Versa Note
Photo: Nissan Media Newsroom.
With a 1.6 liter, four-cylinder powerplant that makes 109 horsepower, the 2019 Versa Note is not an enthusiast’s dream. It does not exactly qualify as a hot hatch that’ll take you on a thrill ride. That’s in spite of Nissan press materials that seem to be trying to hint in the direction of the hot-hatch vibe, with their reference to the vehicle’s “sporty hatchback design” appealing to buyers looking for “an added level of style to go with a hatchback’s 5-door utility.”

But new cars are expensive today. And with MSRPs for 2019 ranging from $15,650 to $18,360, which Nissan announced on Wednesday, the Versa Note gives you a lot for the money.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Don’t forget: the Dammerman Car Collection goes up for sale Friday at the Saratoga Auto Auction

Dammerman Car Collection
Photo: Saratoga Auto Auction.
If you’re interested in bidding on pristine-quality mid-century American muscle cars, sports cars, or other collector-quality American vehicles of various vintages, you might not want to overlook the second annual Saratoga Auto Auction, which runs this Friday, September 21, and Saturday September 22, at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, NY.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

‘Off-road cruise control?’ Ford’s new Trail Control feature for the F-150 Raptor actually sounds like a good idea—but maybe they should position it a little differently

2019 Ford F-150 Raptor with Trail Control
Photo: Ford Media Center.
By Bill Hayward
If you’re like me, you use cruise control as a means of restraint in higher-speed situations, to try to keep the velocity a little lower and decrease the odds of your driving pleasure being interrupted by red-and-blue lights when you’re on a long roadtrip in your favorite silky-smooth, miles-devouring highway cruiser.

Monday, September 10, 2018

If you're not yet hip to the wonders of diesel culture, steer your cable box to Diesel Brothers on Discovery tonight

Diesel Brothers with Jose Caballero
Photo: Discovery Communications.
According to Discovery Communications, tonight's episode of Diesel Brothers on Discovery Channel and Discovery Go (Monday, September 10 at 10 PM ET/PT) is a big one.

In the episode, the fun-loving, truck-building men of Dieselsellerz, known for crazy online videos and over-the-top diesel builds, will be showing a better side of the American spirit to a Hispanic-American family that, as graphically documented in a smartphone video that went viral, was unfortunately exposed to some of the worst of 'Murican behavior when their truck broke down at a campground.

Friday, September 7, 2018

It’s a little late to announce back-to-school specials, but for a college kid with around $20K to spend, the 2019 MINI Oxford Edition is a pretty cool idea

2019 MINI Oxford Edition 2-Door and 4-Door versions
Photo: BMW Group Press Club.
Cars that are relatively inexpensive when new but still offer some level of an enthusiast-oriented driving experience aren’t exactly plentiful on the market these days.

And now that the industry—in the U.S., at least—seems to think everyone wants a crossover, “cheap sports cars” might become even harder to come by.

But there are a few around, like the Toyota 86 / Subaru BRZ twins and, of course, the Mazda MX-5 Miata.

And then there is MINI.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Lexus previews the 2019 RC Coupe, with official reveal promised for the Paris Motor Show in October

Photo: Toyota USA Newsroom.
Personal luxury coupes may be all but extinct among American automakers, but continuing apace with the category is Lexus, announcing refinements yesterday for the 2019 RC and offering a preview ahead of an official reveal set for October.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Ford says ‘Nothing to report’ on Mustang Mach 1 50th anniversary plans

Photo: Ford Media Center.
So it seems that it’s official: Ford won’t be doing anything in 2019 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the legendary Mustang Mach 1, which made its debut in 1969.

“I have nothing to report for Mach 1,” Ford spokesman Jiyan Cadiz told Auto Enthusiasts Newsblaster, in an email. “As you probably know, we played with the nameplate trim earlier this year. But as far as our current Mustang lineup goes, our focus for 2019 is Mustang Bullitt—celebrating 50 years of the iconic movie and movie car, plus an upgraded Shelby GT350.”