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Lamborghini and MIT Join Forces For a New Concept Car

Kamil Kaluski November 3, 2017 The News!

Lamborghini, the Italian maker of fine tractors, really fast cars, and soon again SUVs, will unveil a new concept car on Monday. The concept car is a collaboration of Lamborghini and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where it will be shown. Lamborghini showed the above teaser image of the car which, thank Ferruccio, does not look like a cross-over utility vehicle.

Nothing is really known about this vehicle other than that it has LED lights (because we can see them in the picture), probably four wheels, and that it will utilize some kind of electric power. And it’s probably nothing like the Huracan RWD Spyder that Jeff drove sometime ago. Like most concepts its purpose is to foreshadow the future of technology and design, and set path for future models. 

The really good news is that I will be there for this event, along with every other major automotive media outlet. I’ll have pics and details on Monday! If you have questions, put them in the comments. 

SEMA 2017: New Classic Defenders and Land Cruisers

Kamil Kaluski October 31, 2017 SEMA

Retro-modding or throwback designs are all the rage now. Take an older, classic, vehicle and upgrade everything to modern standards and you get something really cool. It’s been done with American muscle cars, Porsches, and now classic 4x4s are becoming more and more popular. Two of the makers of these cool vehicles showed up at SEMA with their latest designs. brought a modernized 1981 FJ43 Land Cruiser and brought a custom wide-body 1985 Land Rover Defender. 

Click for the details on each of those awesome 4x4s. 

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SEMA 2017: Crate Engines, Turbo Four and Super Eight

Kamil Kaluski October 30, 2017 SEMA

2017 SEMA is officially under way and some of the biggest news today came directly from the automakers. Both Honda and Fiat-Chrysler made big news with the engines from some of their best performing new cars are now available as crate engines. Honda showed its 306-horsepower Civic Type R engine crate engine and Chrysler showed off the 707-horsepower Hellcat engine.

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Redusernab Asks: What Do You Want To See at SEMA?

Kamil Kaluski October 30, 2017 Redusernab Asks

SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association, Show is happening this week in Las Vegas. Jeff and the podcast gang will be there, bringing you a ton of near-future podcast stuff. The rest of us will unfortunately be glued to our computers and other portable electronic devices to get the news. Seeing that just about every damn after-market company will be at SEMA, what would you like to see? The latest OEM builds? Outrageous custom creations? Race parts? LED lights for your ’84 Cadillac? What’s most interesting in the world of aftermarket to you?

Aftermarket Audio: From Replacement to Integration

Back in the good old days, the 1980s and 90s, car audio, like everything else, was simple. Most vehicles had a DIN-, or double-DIN-sized headunit. The headunit would have an AM/FM radio and a cassette or a compact disc player – the truly luxury cars would have both. A small LCD display screen would show the radio frequency or the song number. There would be six preset buttons. Adventurous automakers would integrate CD changer controls which allowed for hours of uninterrupted music, if anyone actually liked the other ten songs those albums.

Today’s headunits are much more than that. CD players are almost extinct. In their place we have USB ports, auxiliary inputs, and blue teeth. AM/FM radio is quickly being replaced by satellite radio. There are apps for Pandora and other such steamers. All of that is displayed on screens that are getting bigger each year, which also display the navigation system. Then there are the camera connections and full integration of phones into the dash. All of this is neatly molded into the dash and controlled from the steering wheel, or knobs or touchpads located by the arm rest. 

All of this makes the simplest audio upgrade, a headunit swap, almost impossible. And frankly, it isn’t desirable, either. Most aftermarket head units never looked right and are often unintuitive and difficult to use. In most cases headunits no longer power the speakers as the use of external amplifiers is increasing. But what if you want a better sound system in your new-ish car?

There are several choices…

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Infographic: Top Selling Cars in Every Country

Kamil Kaluski October 25, 2017 All Things Hoon

Click the above image to see it in its full resolution. It shows the best selling new vehicles in 146 countries. There are not many surprises there: North America loves their F-150s, Europe is mostly driven by various Volkswagen Group vehicles, and Toyota owns Oceania, southern Asia, Middle-East, parts of Africa, and South America. 

What I did found surprising was the popularity of Hyundais. The brand seems totally scattered but it is the top seller in Russia, Nepal, Dominican Republic, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Ireland. Equally scattered is the popularity of Suzukis in Bolivia, Hungary, and Myanmar. As the saying goes, if you can make it in Bolivia, you can make it anywhere, so why are Suzukis not loved equally all over the world?

From the earlier mentioned VW Group, Skoda seems to be kicking ass all over central and southern Europe. Even the Swiss chose the Skoda Octavia over anything else. Moving east, former Soviet Republics are the biggest odd-balls. Turkmenistan fancies the C-class Benzito and is the only country in the world where a Mercedes is the top selling brand. In Azerbaijan, on the other hand, people prefer the reliable, affordable, and capable Soviet-designed Lada Niva. Lithuania, fancies the small Fiat 500.

Fiat is also the top-seller in Italy, which isn’t shocking, but also in Turkey. No other FCA vehicles seem to have the top-seller spot anywhere in the world. BMW outsells everything else in the small but rich Andorra with the X5, of all models. Not surprisingly, Swedes prefer to avoid moose in their domestic/Chinese Volvos.  

The amount of countries where the top sellers are body-on-frame Toyotas, be it pickups or SUVs, is quite amazing. Basically of Central America, Middle East, Africa, and Australia. Who knew Paraguay loved the HiLux so much? It is no surprise that Toyota committed to producing BoF vehicles for the next foreseeable future. 

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Video: Driving a Tiller Cab Fire Truck

Kamil Kaluski October 25, 2017 All Things Hoon

It is totally counter-intuitive and completely opposite to typical driving. You turn left to go right and turn right to go left. I am pretty sure I’d mess it up after a few turns but yet there are firefighters who do it in stressful conditions and get it perfect. If I hadn’t seen those huge trucks go through the same narrow city streets where I have issues fitting a half-ton truck, I wouldn’t have believed it. 

But watching this video I concluded that it perhaps isn’t as hard as it seems. That’s because the driver in the tiller does not look down the road and into the directions he wants to go. No, he or she looks to the sides and steers away from the things he does not want to hit. Suddenly I realized that this is not as hard as it seems. Maybe. I’d love to try one day, somewhere in a safe environment, away from fixed objects. 

Quick Spin: 2017 Kia Soul EV+

There is a dirty little problem with electric vehicles that is going unaddressed. The ability to charge EVs for primary target buyers is very limited. Specifically, people living in urban areas with short commutes. I live in a downtown Boston condominium and I park my car in a common garage. Those garages do not have automotive charging stations and an attempt to plug one’s vehicles into a wall socket would result in an immediate outrage from the neighbors and a scalding letter from building management.

That was my biggest issue with the 2017 Kia Soul EV. I had nowhere to charge it – not at home and not at work. There are street chargers within half a mile from my home but I did not want to park someone else’s vehicle on the street. There are garages with charging stations within a mile, but the parking fees were around $50 for a 24-hour period. I wouldn’t use either with my own car just because they are inconvenient.

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Video: /DRIVE on NBC Sports, Season 4 starts tonight

Kamil Kaluski October 19, 2017 All Things Hoon

It’s unimaginatively called /DRIVE on NBC Sports, and starts its fourth season tonight. The show is hosted by three guys you may have heard of before – Chris Harris, Matt Farah, and Mike Spinelli. Alex Roy makes an appearance on the show, too. And guess what, it’s a show about about cars, hosted by three guys who like cars. If that seems familiar, it’s because it is. Shows like that have been coming and going for years. But many of those shows failed not because of budgets or bad ideas – they failed because the cast was all wrong and everything was scripted and poorly acted. 

What makes the /DRIVE on NBC Sports different is that Chris, Matt, and Mike have known each other for years. They have worked together, hangout together, and drank together. There is no chemistry to be made here because it’s already there. Combine that with some cool cars and good ideas and you have a TV show that can finally rival that one British show.

Checkout the season preview video above. The season starts tonight at 10:00pm EST with a two-episode special, “What Makes Fast” and “Miami Vices”. There are seven episodes in total and the last one is a one-hour special. Looks like good entertainment. 

 

VIDEO: Development of the Lada Niva

Kamil Kaluski October 17, 2017 All Things Hoon

The Lada Niva has been around for more than forty years, kind of like the Mercedes-Benz G-class. You can still buy a brand new Niva today and it isn’t much different from the original model. Again, kind of like the Mercedes G-class, except the Niva has more class, better ride, and is more reliable. 

Except for most things on it, the Niva was an original Soviet design. To pat themselves on the back, in the late 1970’s Soviets released a documentary/propaganda video on how the Niva was developed. The small size of this vehicle, good ground clearance, narrow tires, and locking differentials made the Niva a genuinely capable off-road vehicle.

Looking back at the video now, it’s heartening to see that the primary design point of this SUV was off-road ability and not third-row access or wind-noise at 90mph. The mechanical engineers in the video also seem to be people of great social and commanding importance, unlike the unappreciated and underpaid worker-bees that engineers have become today. The narration is in Russian but you don’t need to understand Russian to understand this short video. Enjoy.