Blog Posts by Justin Hyde

  • Watch a 2,400-hp semi slide around the Long Beach docks, drift-car style

    If the constructing of a 2,400-hp diesel semi truck — i.e., the Mike Ryan/Gale Banks Super-Turbo Freightliner — has a downside, it's the lack of appropriate outlets to test its benefits. There are only so many times you can race up Pikes Peak or belch smoke at a racetrack before those venues start to grow a little boring. Being the only truck of its kind rules out head-to-head racing, and even the state fair circuit would demand an upgrade to jet power.

    So Ryan, a Hollywood stunt driver and car wrangler by trade, decided to create his own showcase in the style of Ken Block. Because who wouldn't want to see five tons of Freightliner leap over a row of Smart cars?

    In "Size Matters 2," a sequel to his first truck-flinging escapade, Ryan and team imagine a run around the docks in Long Beach, Calif., led by a drifting Nissan 240SX, a security cruiser gone sideways and a few other tricks from the stunt circus bag. While singlehandedly tripling the carbon emissions of the surrounding area with

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  • New Audi TT leaks ahead of Geneva Motor Show

    The Geneva Motor Show's previews launch on Tuesday, but cars like the new Audi TT wait for no one's schedule. Here, thanks to a Dutch auto forum, is the first look at the modern Audi sports car, with a few fresh angles on the TT's traditional curves.

    Fans of Audi will find the new TT's face similar to the Quattro concept and a variety of similar efforts from the German automaker, with LED lamps front and rear. Built from the soon-to-be ubiquitous Volkswagen MQB platform, the TT is expected to shed weight in its new generation while gaining some speed courtesy of a newer 2-liter turbo good for 296 hp, up 30 from before. We'll have more details when the car rolls out in Geneva.

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  • February 25: Thomas Davenport patents the first electric motor on this date in 1837

    When Thomas Davenport, a blacksmith from Vermont, first submitted his patent around 1835 for a motor that turned electricity into mechanical force, the U.S. Patent Office simply found it unbelievable.

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  • Sinkhole at Corvette Museum swallows eight rare Vettes

    The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky., has long been a mini-Mecca for fans of America's most hallowed sports car. Early this morning, that museum suffered the catastrophe shown above, when a sinkhole in the Sky Dome opened up and swallowed eight rare Vettes, including two that belonged to General Motors.

    According to museum officials, the sinkhole began around 5:30 a.m. while the museum was closed, and within minutes had grown to about 40 feet wide and 25 to 30 feet deep. No one was injured, but the list of Corvettes spelunking in the hole includes two on loan from General Motors, a rare 1993 ZR-1 Spyder and a 2009 ZR1 Blue Devil that may have been the original show car.

    All of the other vehicles damaged belonged to the museum: the 1984 PPG Pace Car, 1992 white 1 Millionth Corvette, 1993 Ruby Red 40th Anniversary Corvette, 2001 Mallett Hammer Z06 Corvette and 2009 white 1.5 Millionth Corvette. The museum was unable to estimate how much damage the cars may have suffered.

    The

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  • GM gives its first female CEO $14.4 million, a 60% pay raise over her predecessor

    Last week, much tumult came forth from the Internet over the supposed pay of Mary Barra, the new chief executive of General Motors. While such dust-ups typically concern how much a CEO earns, these critics suggested Barra, the first woman to run a global automaker, had been shortchanged compared to her male predecessors.

    I said it wasn't true. GM said so too, and today it spelled out just how untrue, announcing that Barra's compensation would total $14.4 million in 2014 — a combination of $1.6 million in salary, $2.8 million in short-term incentives and long-term compensation of $10 million, mostly in stock. That's a 60 percent increase over the $9 million GM gave former chairman and chief executive Dan Akerson, for a company that reported a profit of $3.8 billion for 2013.

    So to be clear: The first female CEO of an automaker will get a pay raise for taking the job. In fact, she'll earn slightly more than the median compensation package for a CEO of a company in the Standard & Poor's 500

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  • Felino cB7 puts Canada into the sports-car discussion

    For as many cars as Canada builds for Americans, its home-grown auto industry hasn't been a player on the world stage for decades. If you want a true all-Canadian car, there's some electric two-seaters or the Campagna T-Rex and that's a-boot it. Here's the idea from Canadian racer Antoine Bessett to change that perception: the Felino cB7, a V-8 powered, carbon-fiber sports car with an unusal amount of aggression for a native of the north.

    While Bessett hasn't released exact performance specs, the Felino should produce ample speed from its GM-sourced 6.2-liter V-8, tuned to 525 hp and 489 lb.-ft. of torque, linked to a six-speed gearbox. Aside from its unusal neo-hatchback shape and styling, the Felino appears designed more for track time than street duty, with unusual options like built-in race suit cooling systems.

    Bessett says pre-production versions will start rolling this year, with a limited but unspecified number set for production. The company says the goal for pricing will be a

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  • Watch the new Mini Cooper make jet-powered waves at its resort reveal

    Those of us in the car reviewing business are accustomed to launches being accompanied by a touch of fanfare, like when the 2014 Mercedes S-Class drove out of a 787 in a German blimp hangar, or when Fiat brought out Romanian supermodel Catrinel Menghia, star of their famously sexy commercials for the Fiat 500 Abarth — in character — who proceeded to slap a photographer as she did in one of the commercials (per the photographer’s request, of course).

    Such was the case at this week’s global first drive program for the 2015 Mini Cooper in Puerto Rico, which started out innocently enough; balmy beachfront setting, 2015 Mini Cooper staged on a floating dock, smiling (and very talented) singer saunters out to warm up the crowd. I whip out my phone to record an isn’t-this-cute video to send to family and friends, and then, as you’ll see, it becomes something of a spectacle.

    minirainboxcropWhile it all seems to have gone off without a hitch, we wondered why the Cooper staged on the floating dock didn’t drive

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  • Leonardo DiCaprio launches electric race-car team

    Leo DiCaprio's Formula E electric race car teamAs an actor who rode a Toyota Prius to the Academy Awards, Leonardo DiCaprio has never been shy about using his star power for his environmental causes, even putting his celebrity (and a small investment) behind the failed Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid. Today, DiCaprio revealed his first foray into motorsports, revealing he's the co-owner of a new racing team. And of course, they're running electric cars.

    As far as electric cars have come on the road, they've made only minor inroads into racing; you're more likely to find an electric racer on drag strips or the Bonneville Salt Flats (where power trumps range) than in any classic European road circuit. But the masterminds of the world's motorsports realize that without a serious electric car series, automakers and teams will wring fossil fuel racing to the last drop — and then leave the sport in history's smoke.

    In September 2014, the biggest gamble that fans will pay to watch electric cars go fast will launch around the world. Dubbed

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  • Trio of Lamborghinis burn in million-dollar wreck

    Three burning Lamborghinis in MalaysiaThe upside to owning a car like a Lamborghini Aventador or Gallardo comes easily; the speed, the attention, the status. The downside comes from when something goes awry — like it did badly on a Malaysian freeway this morning, when three Lamborghinis — two Gallardos and an Aventador — collided and burst into flames, in a million-dollar bonfire of the vanities.

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  • 2015 Ford Mustang revealed as an American pony car with a passport

    After 49 years, you would think Ford would have figured out the formula for designing a new Mustang. Yet every fresh generation of the car since the '70s has drawn great concern from the fan base — and occasionally, those fears came true. This time around, Ford's corporate rule of building models for global consumption led to the most worry; would the new 'Stang lose some of its essential character while chasing new buyers?

    Here's the answer: Yes, there will be right-hand-drive Mustangs, although they'll be a small portion of total output from the Flat Rock, Mich., factory. Yes, there's a new turbo four-cylinder engine option that will hearken back to the SVO days of the '80s. And the rear suspension finally joins the 21st century, dropping the cheap solid rear axle setup as pioneered by the Model T.

    But Ford engineers and designers say their overarching goal with the 2015 Mustang was to preserve all the traits that have made the name a mainstay of American roads and drag strips for five decades — not remake the formula for audiences abroad.

    "We designed this Mustang to be a Mustang, to be the next generation update of everything important, and then take it global," Dave Pericak, Ford Mustang chief engineer, told Yahoo. "We didn't decide to do a global Mustang, because that would be a different product."

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