New for Advance Auto Parts from the Advance Auto Parts Blog

Rock Legends The Moody Blues to Raffle Custom “Moody Cooper”

Moody Cooper carOne of the hottest tickets in entertainment these days is the “Concert Cruise,” where bands and fans set sail for a few days of rock ‘n’ roll bliss on the high seas.

The Moody Blues Cruise II–-the second annual fan cruise from The Moody Blues (“Nights in White Satin”), sailing the Caribbean April 2-7, 2014 aboard the MSC Divina–-have collaborated with The Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund (DioCancerFund.org), a non-profit charitable fund formed in honor of the legendary rock singer Ronnie James Dio, who lost his life to stomach cancer in 2010.

Moody Cooper 2In support of the charity, the cruise will raffle a 2013 Mini Cooper, featuring customized cruise graphics, plus a permanent plaque and certificate of authenticity signed by The Moody Blues. Hoisted aboard the MSC Divina with a 20-story crane, the Moody Cooper will be displayed on the pool deck throughout the cruise.

To find out more about the cruise, the charity and this ultra-cool car, visit Moodies Cruise.

 

5 Automotive Oddballs

Future classics or manufacturing mishaps? You be the judge!

There have been several cars released in recent memory that many have looked at and thought … why?

They in this case could refer to either the manufacturer (for making such a thing) or the owner (for willingly forking over the cash to buy such a thing).

Oddballs of the automotive world often end up unloved and offered for sale cheap on used car lots and automotive forums. Their current owners sing their praises using descriptors such as “unique” and “rare” but to most prospective buyers they are “strange” and “quirky.”

Here are 5 “unique” examples of “quirky” autos that could turn out to be future classic cars.

Subaru XT (1985 – 1991)

subaru-xt6

At its time of release in 1985, the wedge-shaped Subaru XT was the most aerodynamic production car available for sale in the United States. With flat door handles, an air suspension that lowered at speed and a single windshield wiper that tucked beneath the hood when not in use, the XT made slicing through the air its top priority.

The combination of a 2 door coupe body style, available four wheel drive and a boxer-style turbocharged engine made it even more unusual, as this configuration was extremely uncommon in any car not hailing from Stuttgart or Modena. It wasn’t until a few years later that Japanese competitors caught up with Subaru when the Toyota Celica All-Trac Turbo and Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX made similar four wheel drive / turbo configurations available to U.S. buyers.

Volkswagen EOS (2006 – Present)

volkswagen-eos

Photo credit: Erik Baeumlisberger.

As Volkswagen’s first production non-Golf 2 door coupe since the already classic Corrado, the EOS had very big shoes to fill.

Like the outgoing Cabrio, the EOS is considered both outside and inside the United States to be a hairdresser’s car, but the addition of the 2.0L turbocharged engine and dual-clutch DSG transmission (both borrowed from hot hatch sibling GTI) make the EOS a fun car to drive quickly. The turbo power combined with a “unique” power-retracting 5 piece glass top convertible roof has put smiles on the faces on more than a few skeptical drivers and unsuspecting passengers.

 

 

BMW M Coupe (1998 – 2002)

bmw-m-coupe

The M division is well known throughout the enthusiast world as being the in-house tuning arm of Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW). As such, its existence is dependent upon buyers’ continued willingness to shell out a premium for faster, lower and wider vehicles.

Occasionally, the M division diverts its attention away from performance and towards styling. The M Coupe’s shooting brake design takes cues from classic British and Italian cars, which sounds like a good thing. But in reality, this car has adopted the nickname clown shoe due to its resemblance of, well, a clown’s shoe.

Aside from the love-it-or-hate-it styling (which actually resulted from the engineering team’s attempt to make the car handle better) the BMW M Coupe is a competent sports car with massive rear tires and howling engine that draws crowds at local meets all over the world.

 

Merkur XR4Ti (1985-1989)

merkur-xr4ti

The XR4Ti was assembled by hand in Germany and sold domestically by Ford dealerships who agreed to operate a Merkur franchise. Essentially a reworked European Ford Sierra XR4i, the XR4Ti received a Brazilian built 2.3L four cylinder turbocharged engine instead of the V6 found in the XR4i. U.S. safety laws accounted for several slight visual differences, including the distinctive bi-plane spoiler, which was unique to the U.S. market.

The XR4Ti was both expensive (about $40k in today’s money) and quick, but failed to sell in significant numbers. Last year, Top Gear referred to a group of cars that included the XR4Ti as misunderestimated. We couldn’t agree more.

 

Shelby GLHS (1986-1987)

shelby_glhs

Ok, so you’ll probably be able to find an EOS without much trouble. An M Coupe or XR4Ti will take some doing, but far from impossible. Most XTs, though, have long since succumbed to rust. That brings us to the above–a Shelby GLHS. We doubt if you’ll ever find (much less ever see) one. Only 500 were ever made.

Fun was at the heart of this car. Based on the Dodge Omni GLH (GLH standing for Goes Like Hell) it’s easy to see why the Shelby GLHS (standing for Goes Like Hell S’more) made our list. Like the XR4Ti, even its name is “quirky.”

The GLHS was powered by a 2.2L turbocharged engine, which produced 175HP. This was a big number in those days, especially for a hatchback. By comparison, the turbocharged boxer in the XT managed only 112HP.

The Shelby tuned motor was enough to propel the car to 60mph in 6.5 seconds, which is roughly the equivalent of a modern day non-DSG Volkswagen GTI. For owners that wanted even more power, MOPAR offered a Performance Stage II computer upgrade that pushed engine output to 205HP. The Super 60 Kit was good for 300HP.

Editor’s note: What are some of your ideas for future classic cars? What used car lot rescues are parked in your driveway? Please share in the comments below.

 

Cars of the future: personalized ambulances

Approximately ninety-six years ago, on January 5, 1918, Scientific American made the following prediction about future car technology:

The car of the future won’t leave anything to be done by man power. In two or three years foot brakes will be things of the past except on cheap cars. Why should a man exert muscle to stop a car any more than to start it? What’s that great brute of an engine idling under the hood for? Now, jump three jumps more. If the engine starts and lights and pumps and stops itself, why shouldn’t it steer the car? Revolutionary? Nonsense!…The car of the future will have no such thing as a “driver’s seat.” All the seats in the car save the rear one will be moveable. Driving will be done from a small control board, which can be held in the lap. It will be connected to the mechanism by a flexible electric cable. A small finger lever, not a wheel, will guide the car.

Although the writer of this piece was a bit overenthusiastic about the timetable, he was not far off in his predictions about future car technology. But, here’s one feature that even he didn’t imagine: your car helping you to manage your health.

Why do I need that?

It may seem as though only older people worry about their health–or need to. But, year after year, health-related New Year’s resolutions top the list. You can look at virtually any article listing popular resolutions and find ones that read like this:

  • Lose weight
  • East a healthier diet
  • Get fit
  • Quit smoking
  • Drink less

What’s the common denominator in each of these? An underlying concern about health! Now that we’ve settled that matter . . . let’s move on to news about cars and health.

Technology available today

If you’re willing to pay $95,000 for a Mercedes-Benz, your car’s computer can note–via changes in your body and driving–if you’re getting tired. If that happens, a “big red coffee cup” appears on the dashboard; you’ll hear a chime and you’ll be asked to pull over to get some coffee to fight your drowsiness.

 

Cars Health MonitoringSome cars can act like personalized ambulances, monitoring changes in your body … but should they?

Nissan has the technology to stop you from driving if you’ve had too much alcohol to drink and technology already exists to take the driver’s temperature. But this is, as you’ve probably already guessed, just the tip of the iceberg.

Ford S-Max Concept Car and More

Cars and health are in the news right now largely because of the announcement of the S-Max, a concept car that can monitor the driver’s heart rate through an electrocardiogram (ECG) and detect unusual rates or acute problems. If a heart attack is being detected, the car can contact medical help and put into place safety systems to help prevent an accident. The S-Max can also monitor blood sugar (glucose), helpful for people with diabetes. There are approximately 26 million people with diabetes in the United States alone, of all ages, so this is a potential benefit for a significant segment of the population.

In 2012, David Melcher, a Ford research engineer, discussed how people can manage their allergies and chronic medical conditions through features in their car.

Other car manufacturers, according to TechRadar, are planning medical additions to their cars’ features. Examples include:

  • Pulse monitoring via the steering wheel
  • The car notifying the driver’s family if his/her vital signs look shaky
  • The car automatically driving you to a doctor or hospital, if necessary

So, what do you think? Sound good?

Not so fast

There are some down sides to this added technology, including the additional cost. Plus, what happens if there is a false alarm? If so, a non-drinker could miss an important meeting because of an incorrect breathalyzer reading, while a family may get a scary call about a loved one’s health for no good reason.

Then there is what Cheryl Dancey Balough and Richard C. Balough call “cyberterrorism on wheels.” Cheryl is the communications co-director of the American Bar Association’s Cyberspace Law Committee and adjunct professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law. Richard is the co-chair of the American Bar Association’s Mobile Commerce of the Cyberspace Law Committee–and both are founding members of Balough Law Offices, LLC. In short, these two are experts.

In November 2013, they published an article on the American Bar Association site titled, “Cyberterrorism on Wheels: Are Today’s Cars Vulnerable to Attack?” in which they succinctly sum up the problem at hand.

Modern cars, they point out, are controlled by “complex computer systems that include millions of lines of code connected by internal networks. Cars have become computers on wheels . . . Cars have dozens of electronic control units (ECUs) embedded in the body, doors, dash, roof, trunk, seats, wheels, navigation equipment, and entertainment centers. Common wired networks interconnect these ECUs, which also can connect to the Internet.” And, the reality is that any computer can be hacked.

Richard and Cheryl share more useful information, as summed up below:

If that isn’t scary enough, entertainment systems, hands-free cellphones and satellite radio also provide entry points for malware. So can tire pressure monitoring systems and those such as OnStar that provide instant access to emergency services.

 

PrintCars Health MalwareWhat if malware entered your car’s computer?

To add to the picture, in 2014, General Motors will offer wireless services in their vehicles for phone and laptop use. And, as Cheryl and Richard point out, all of a car’s ECUs are connected so, once malware finds its way into one entry point, it can flow throughout the vehicle. As self-driving features  and vehicle-to-vehicle communication (which allows vehicles to share information about location, speed, direction of travel and more with one another) become more common, the opportunities for hacking will become even more frequent.

By 2040 (just 26 years from now!), estimates suggest that 75% of cars will be self-driving. So, with that in mind, is it any surprise that your car can–and perhaps will someday–be hacked? To add to the problem, it’s estimated that the average auto maker is approximately 20 years behind software companies in fighting off cyber-attacks.

Mind your own business

What about privacy issues? The Wall Street Journal takes on the issue of privacy concerns with biometric cars–meaning cars that take in data (your heart rate, your breathing rate, and the sweatiness of your palms, for example) via sensors; these cars then respond in certain ways to certain data to help prevent accidents.

Joe Smith, a senior editor at the Wall Street Journal, acknowledges that people will want to be able to control the monitoring. He expects that manufacturers will honor that, building biometric cars that come complete with opt-in technologies; this should allow people to decide whether they want to be monitored and where the info does or doesn’t go. Joe notes that Ford says they won’t store any info without consent.

Brian Reimer, an MIT researcher, chimes in, sharing how people today need to juggle increasing amounts of information and make increasing amounts of strategic decisions just to drive–and so the biometric car would add automated features to help the driver when he or she needs the assistance. Brian does not foresee significant privacy issues with biometric driving, comparing monitored driving with online shopping with credit cards. The convenience, he points out, can override the risk.

Brainstorming with Attorney Richard Balough

Will your privacy really be well protected, though? Will the promises being made today–as people are being persuaded to accept the technology–really be kept when drivers become more blasé about increasing encroachments upon privacy?

Richard talked to Advance Auto Parts about the possibilities. “A car,” Richard says to set the context, “is nothing more than a giant computer on wheels. Therefore, any time that monitoring occurs with a car, so can hacking.” So, it would seem that any bulletproof promises of privacy should be looked upon with a jaded eye.

Features on a car that monitor health have, Richard continues, “good sounding purposes” so the main question to ask yourself is “What am I giving up in exchange?” He equates this tradeoff to using one of those plastic cards at grocery stores that, once scanned by the cashier, give you a few cents more off of certain items. “In exchange, they know exactly what I’m buying and how often I’m buying it,” Richard says. “So in effect, I’ve sold them that information very cheaply–for maybe $2 a week.”

He also warns about how much companies can learn about a person with seemingly small bits of data. To that end, he refers to when Target got so good at predictive behavior through the data they collected from shoppers that they could predict when some were in the early stages of pregnancy. Once these women were identified, Target would send those shoppers mailers with relevant coupons. About a year after this program started, a man angrily entered a Target near Minneapolis, wanting to know why the store would send his daughter, still in high school, coupons for baby clothes and cribs.

The store manager was apologetic but, a few days later, the man told the manager that he’d talked to his daughter and she was, indeed, pregnant. To prevent a similar scenario from happening again, Target now mixes maternity-type ads in with ads for unrelated products, such as lawn care products, and sends those mailers to women believed to be pregnant.

Back to brainstorming: clearly, data is already easily and painlessly collected from people in everyday situations. So, we started to speculate about what a store could, theoretically speaking, do with the information they have about a particular person. “Could they sell it to my health insurance provider?” Richard wonders. “What if it shows that I buy two cases of beer every single week–and yet, on my health insurance application, I say that I never drink alcohol?”

Here’s another way that health insurance companies might gather information about you, in a way related to the main topic of this post. Let’s say that your health insurance company will offer you a discount if you agree to health monitoring in your car (which is similar, really, to getting a discount for a good driving record, which is monitored, albeit in a different way). You want the discount, so you go along with the plan, whether willingly or reluctantly.

“The car is gathering and offloading data,” Richard says. “Let’s say that this process is compromised through hacking.  Is your health insurer in violation of HIPAA (which gives people certain rights to privacy as to their health conditions) because of the breach? And, what about the car manufacturers? If they create health monitoring systems that are breached, are they in violation of HIPAA?”

Or, let’s say that your car needs fixed and so the repair personnel hook up your car to a port. Will they have access to your health information? Are you okay with that? Does it seem reasonable that at least some of those workers might share what they learned?

Here’s another thought. Let’s say that you have a car accident and it appears to be the other driver’s fault. After all, he had the stop sign at the intersection and you did not. But then the police access your health data that was collected and stored by your car, and they notice that your sugar was pretty low (maybe you shouldn’t have been driving in the first place?) or that you didn’t seem to brake very quickly (maybe you could have prevented the accident?). Or breathalyzer technology shows that, even though your car started today, many times in the past it didn’t because of your alcohol consumption (maybe you’re pretty hung over right now). How will any of those facts change who gets cited?

On another subject: let’s say that a car automatically slows down because the driver appears sleepy or otherwise not in prime condition. What if that slowing down happens on a busy highway and that causes an accident? Who is liable?

Making your decision

No one has all of the answers right now, of course, and it’s likely that this debate will continue in the upcoming years. But, the bottom line is this: if you have the option of participating in health monitoring while you drive and you feel it might benefit you, think about these questions, offered up by Richard Balough, before making your decision:

  • What information is being gathered?
  • How is it stored?
  • How is it encrypted–if it even is?
  • Who has access to that data?
  • Will I know who reviews it and when?
  • What happens when there is a breach?
  • Will I be made aware of that?
  • Who is liable for that breach?
  • If I had already agreed to be monitoring, did I in effect sign a waiver?
  • Would that relieve the car manufacturer of any liability?
  • Or would the court system decide that a typical driver wouldn’t have enough information to legally relieve manufacturers of liability?

“There is always a trade off,” Richard says. “You can get good services and/or perhaps save money if you agree to health monitoring, but in exchange you might be giving up more of your privacy.”

Ah. The head spins.

Editor’s note: What do you think? We really need to you to weigh in on this controversial issue!

 

Original illustrations by John Sisler.

Apple unveils CarPlay

CarPlay_Honda_Homescreen-PRINTAt The DIY Garage, we love technology solutions almost as much as our beloved torque wrenches. That’s why we’re excited about Apple’s latest announcement for CarPlay, which should go a long way in increasing safety on the road.

Read Apple’s official press release below.

 

Apple Rolls Out CarPlay Giving Drivers a Smarter,

Safer & More Fun Way to Use iPhone in the Car

CarPlay Premieres with Leading Auto Manufacturers at the Geneva

International Motor Show

GENEVA―March 3, 2014―Apple® today announced that leading auto manufacturers are rolling out CarPlay, the smarter, safer and more fun way to use iPhone® in the car. CarPlay gives iPhone users an incredibly intuitive way to make calls, use Maps, listen to music and access messages with just a word or a touch. Users can easily control CarPlay from the car’s native interface or just push-and-hold the voice control button on the steering wheel to activate Siri® without distraction. Vehicles from Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo will premiere CarPlay to their drivers this week, while additional auto manufacturers bringing CarPlay to their drivers down the road include BMW Group, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai Motor Company, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia Motors, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan Motor Company, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota Motor Corp.

“CarPlay has been designed from the ground up to provide drivers with an incredible experience using their iPhone in the car,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of iPhone and iOS Product Marketing. “iPhone users always want their content at their fingertips and CarPlay lets drivers use their iPhone in the car with minimized distraction. We have an amazing lineup of auto partners rolling out CarPlay, and we’re thrilled it will make its debut this week in Geneva.”

Apple has led consumer technology integration in the car for more than a decade. CarPlay brings your car and iPhone together for a thoughtful experience that lets drivers focus on driving, while also tapping into everything they want to do with their iPhone.

Once iPhone is connected to a vehicle with CarPlay integration, Siri helps you easily access your contacts, make calls, return missed calls or listen to voicemails. When incoming messages or notifications arrive, Siri provides an eyes-free experience by responding to requests through voice commands, by reading drivers’ messages and letting them dictate responses or simply make a call.

CarPlay makes driving directions more intuitive by working with Maps to anticipate destinations based on recent trips via contacts, emails or texts, and provides routing instructions, traffic conditions and ETA. You can also simply ask Siri and receive spoken turn-by-turn directions, along with Maps, which will appear on your car’s built-in display.

CarPlay gives drivers access to all of their music, podcasts, audiobooks and iTunes Radio℠ with easy navigation through listening choices from the car’s built-in controls or simply by asking Siri to pull up what you’d like to hear. CarPlay also supports select third-party audio apps including Spotify and iHeartRadio, so you can listen to your favorite radio services or sports broadcast apps while driving.

Pricing & Availability
Apple CarPlay is available as an update to iOS 7 and works with Lightning-enabled iPhones, including iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c and iPhone 5. CarPlay will be available in select cars shipping in 2014.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.

 

For more information, visit Apple.

Best Cars for First-Time Drivers

I get this one all the time, from parents and kids alike: What’s the best car for a first-time driver? And in most cases, “first-time driver” means teen driver, whether it’s a high-school student who just got her license or a college freshman driving off to campus. So I’m thinking about safety, number one, but I’m also looking for fuel economy, technology and just plain old fun. Want to see the winners? Here are the top 3 cars I’d recommend.

Scion FR-S

Scion FR-SThe rear-wheel-drive Scion FR-S is one of those cars that looks fast, but don’t worry, Mom and Dad — it’s actually quite a bit slower than a garden-variety Camry V6. That doesn’t mean it isn’t fun, though; on the contrary, the FR-S will put a smile on anyone’s face, teen driver or otherwise, with its laser-sharp steering, excellent transmissions (manual or rev-matching automatic) and growly four-cylinder engine. This is basically a world-class sports car without the world-class power, which makes it the best first car for budding driving enthusiasts.

Fortunately, the Scion FR-S is about more than just the sporty stuff. It also got top scores from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety in every crash test, and you can expect up to 34 mpg on the highway, according to the EPA. Throw in a standard eight-speaker Pioneer stereo with Bluetooth/USB integration and a touchscreen interface, and what’s not to like? Well, the tiny backseat is a lowlight, but otherwise, the FR-S should impress.

Mazda 3

Mazda 3The redesigned Mazda 3 is a beautiful car, first and foremost, but I can’t recommend a ride just based on looks. It’s got to have a good foundation, too. And the 3 has one of the best, striking an excellent ride/handling balance on the road that makes me think of the BMW 3 Series. If you’re tempted to get the bigger 2.5-liter engine, I urge you to reconsider; the base 2.0-liter four-cylinder is a joy to wring out, especially if you get the buttery-smooth six-speed manual transmission. Plus, fuel economy with the smaller motor is an amazing 41 mpg.

The Mazda 3 is a pleasant surprise on the inside as well, boasting snug front seats, upscale materials and an available touchscreen that also employs Audi-like knobs on the center console. On the safety front, it aced the latest IIHS crash tests. Now here’s the clincher: you can get all of this goodness for under $25k. Honestly, I’m tempted to buy one myself.

Volkswagen Golf

VW Golf 1I’m talking about two cars here, really: there’s the “Mk6,” which is made in Europe and just wrapped up its production run; and there’s the “Mk7,” a redesigned, Mexican-built model that debuts for the 2015 model year. Either way, the Volkswagen Golf is a heck of a hatchback. I love the understated yet high-quality interior–you could slap an Audi logo on the steering wheel and it would work just fine. The optional turbodiesel four-cylinder, a.k.a. “TDI,” can get you close to 50 mpg on the highway if you drive it right. And the turbocharged GTI delivers truly spirited acceleration, especially the new 2015 model with its robust 258 pound-feet of torque (the outgoing GTI makes 207 lb-ft).

Now let me give you a reason to hold out for the Mk7 Golf: the base engine will be an energetic 1.8-liter four-cylinder turbo that’s a huge upgrade over the old five-cylinder lump. I actually liked the five’s gravelly voice at full throttle, but its fuel economy was seriously behind the times. So if you’ve decided against the TDI and GTI, wait for the 2015 to get a regular Volkswagen Golf. Otherwise, even the Mk6 Golf lineup gets perfect crash scores from the IIHS, and it offers a touchscreen with all the device hookups you need. So don’t dismiss a Mk6 TDI or GTI because it’s old; you might just get a great deal on one.

What are your top picks?

Those are my choices, but I always like to hear what you folks have to say. What are your top new cars for first-time drivers? Let’s discuss in the comments.

Editor’s note: Whether you’re a seasoned road dog or a first-time driver, Advance Auto Parts makes maintenance easy—with great selection and even better values. Buy online, pick up in store.

Advance Exclusive: Zephyrhills Winter Auto Fest

Zephyrhills Winter AutofestIf you weren’t able to make it to the Zephyrhills Winter AutoFest in Florida this past weekend, no worries. Advance Auto Parts was there!

Zephyrhills—powered by Carlisle Events—is a collector’s and classic car swap meet and auction, taking place annually at Festival Park.

This time out, the show featured the introduction of an amazing new line of appearance products by DUB from Meguiar’s. We were also able to catch a few clips of some of the happenings at this mainstay auto show.

 

One of the vehicles that caught our eye right away was this pop-culture beauty:

Mystery Machine Van

Scooby Do, anyone?

 

Then, we stumbled upon this mystery vehicle. Does the license plate give anything away?

Can you guess which famous car this is?

Can you guess which famous car this is?

 

Here’s what we found under wraps…a DeLorean:

It's time to go back...to the future!

It’s time to go back…to the future!

 

DUB products make their debut:

Meguiars DUB debut

 

 

Spin the wheel—win some DUB!

IMG_3172

 

Hope you enjoyed this quick trip through Zephyrhills. Stay tuned for more auto show coverage to come! And, let us know what auto shows you’ll be hitting up this year in the comments below!

Learn more about DUB products at Advance Auto Parts.

 

 

Preview: 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06Dunno about you, but I’m still getting used to the latest Corvette. They call it the C7, because it’s the seventh Corvette since the original model came out in 1953 — back before most of you all were even born. But in some ways, the C7 is a whole new beginning for the ‘Vette, from its square taillights (they always used to be round) to all those gills and strakes and vents that punctuate its surfaces. It’s an awesome car — you’ll never hear me say otherwise — but it’s not instantly recognizable as a Corvette, and that’s a radical change for a long-timer like me.

There’s one C7 that already looks just right, though, and that’s the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06. Unlike previous Z06 models, which mostly resembled regular Corvettes, the C7 Z06 looks like a racecar without the decals. Two inches wider in front and three in back, with angry-looking creases and folds all over the place, the new Z06 might have the most presence of any car I’ve ever seen. I can’t wait to drive one. In the meantime, let’s take a deep dive into what we know so far.

1. Supercharged 625-horsepower V8

Come again? Supercharged? Yeah, you heard right. The 2015 Z06 will be powered by a 6.2-liter, 625-horsepower V8 with an Eaton supercharger tucked into its vee. For better or worse, the naturally aspirated Z06 is now a thing of the past.

My first instinct was to go with “worse,” because the C6 Z06′s 7.0-liter, 505-horsepower V8 is one of the best motors ever to grace an engine bay. I used to say that it ought to be in every car on the road, and I wasn’t completely kidding.

But then I ran up against a cold hard fact: 505 hp is a lot less than 625. Shoot, 625 is almost as much as the C6 ZR1 put out. Plus, superchargers are much better than turbochargers from a drivability standpoint — there’s no throttle lag when you punch it, which means no waiting around for that crazy quick acceleration. If you’re going to go the forced-induction route, that’s the way to do it.

On second thought, then, put me in the “better” camp. It seems pretty clear that the C7 Z06 is going to be a real upgrade under the hood, though I’ll definitely miss the NASCAR growl of the old Z06′s 7.0-liter V8.

2. Best-Handling Corvette Ever?

I know I haven’t driven one yet, but all signs point to this thing being the most rewarding Corvette to drive, period. It’s got huge rubber, of course — the rears are 335/25 ZR-20s — but more than that, the engineers have made a point of making the C7 Z06 at least somewhat friendly at the limit. In the past, pushing a Z06 hard could be hazardous to your health, but this one’s tweaked chassis, intuitive steering and standard magnetic-ride dampers should make it the most user-friendly version yet. If you’re worried about braking power, don’t be — the pizza-size rotors measure more than 14 inches all around.

3. Got Luxury If You Want It

I remember when the first Z06 came out, the C5 model. The interior of that thing was so tacky, it reminded me of an S-10 pickup truck. But hey, it went fast and sounded great, so people were in a forgiving mood. These days, of course, the standards are much higher, especially at the $75,000-$80,000 price point where the C7 Z06 is expected to start.

Fortunately, the new Z06 starts with the regular C7′s vastly improved interior and gets even better. Extended leather trim is standard, as is a flat-bottom steering wheel that reinforces the car’s close ties with the C7.R racer. Available competition seats should provide even more support than the already decent standard chairs. You know what? They’re even offering an eight-speed automatic transmission in the C7 Z06, that’s how civilized it’s become. Naturally, the standard transmission continues to be a manual — the same seven-speed stick that comes in the regular C7.

Talk Amongst Yourselves2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 2

I gotta ask: Is there anyone out there who doesn’t drool at the thought of driving the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06? Is there a better value right now among performance cars? I want to hear what you all think in the comments.

Editor’s note: Advance Auto Parts has great savings on quality auto parts and accessories for Corvettes and just about everything else. Buy online, pick up in store.

Lane Motor Museum: Visit an Alphabet of European Cars

Lane Motor Museum showroom. Photo credit: Lane Motor Museum.

Lane Motor Museum showroom. Photo credit: Lane Motor Museum.

Attention, all people who own a European car that starts with the letter “E” or “Q,” and who are looking to donate or sell that vehicle to a museum! You are in demand.

Here’s the story. The Lane Motor Museum has more than 400 European-made cars and advertises that they have cars from A to Z. The problem, though, is that they don’t really have one beginning with “E” or “Q.” Here is what they do have:

  • Amphicar
  • Berkeley
  • Citroën
  • DKW
  • Fiat
  • Georges Irat
  • Honda
  • Ifa
  • Jensen
  • Kawasaki
  • Lotus
  • MG
  • NSU
  • OTAS
  • Porsche
  • Renault
  • Scootacar
  • Tatra
  • Ultra Van
  • Voisin
  • Weidner
  • Xtreme Motor Co.
  • Yamaha
  • Zündapp

In fact, for most letters, they have more than one vehicle – often many more. But, no “E” or “Q.” Yet.

Backing up a Bit

1932 Helicron. Photo credit: Lane Motor Museum.

1932 Helicron. Photo credit: Lane Motor Museum.

The Lane Motor Museum is the brainchild of Jeff Lane, who established this non-profit museum in 2002 to “share in the mission of collection and preserving automotive history for future generations.” This car museum is one of the few in the United States to focus on European cars. These aren’t just display pieces, either; the goal is to keep all cars running and, typically, about 90% of the cars at any one time are in fact operational.

Advance Auto Parts sat down to talk with Jeff Lane, who grew up in Romeo, Michigan, only a 45-minute trip from the Motor City. His grandfather, Wilbur C. Lane, owned a Ford dealership from 1936 to 1954, while his father, Gene, owned an auto supply store. So, it’s not surprising that Jeff admits to being a “car guy from way back when.” When asked about his earliest car memory, the answer is simple: “riding my Big Wheel.”

By the time he was seven or eight, he was already working on mini bikes. When he was ten, his father – who had been overseas in the army – bought an MG and Jeff worked on that vehicle while at his dad’s shop. When not fixing cars, he and his father other traveled around the country to car meets. And, when Jeff turned twelve, his father asked him what he wanted for Christmas – and he, of course, said his own MG. His father delivered . . . providing him with a pickup truck full of MG parts. “It took me four years to put them all together,” Jeff says, “and then I took my driver’s ed test in that car.”

Jeff then began collecting cars. “I am very interested in cars for what they represent and wasn’t focused on the number. But, as I got more and more cars, I needed more and more space. At one point, I thought I had 30 to 40 vehicles but it ends up that I actually had 70. At that point, I needed to put all of my cars in one place.”

The place chosen was a former bakery in Nashville, Tennessee with 132,000 square feet of space featuring a “high ceiling, natural light, and hand-crafted brick and maple wood flooring.” The problem was that it was also filled with junk left over from the bread-making years, ranging from machine parts to old fan motors and pumps to empty boxes to fruitcake labels. The detritus was stacked almost to the ceiling. Because the building had been empty for nearly a decade, parts of the roof were caving in and areas of the floor had buckled.

Lane Motor Museum showroom. Photo credit: Lane Motor Museum.

Lane Motor Museum showroom. Photo credit: Lane Motor Museum.

The renovation took about a year, with the goal being to maintain the architectural flavor of the building while bringing everything up to code. Much of the demo work was done by Lane, his staff and their families while they were also interviewing architects to find just the right one for the project. They clearly succeeded in their quest because, in 2007, they received a prestigious architectural preservation award.

Although Jeff did not begin collecting cars with the idea of a museum in mind, the space evolved into quite an impressive one, opened to the public in October 2003. The main floor (approximately 40,000 square feet) contains the vehicles. Jeff continues to expand the collection, with some vehicles in showroom condition; others are not, but attempts are made to restore each vehicle as closely as possible to original specifications. The car museum also has a children’s playroom on a raised platform where kids can ride cars, build toy towns and color pictures.

Self-described as “weird, wacky and wonderful,” the Lane Motor Museum had more than eighty vehicles at the time of the grand opening and current has 150 vehicles, both cars and motorcycles, on display at any one time. Exhibits do rotate.

Although a small percentage of this collection is not European, this is the largest museum of European vehicles in the United States, and David Yando, manager of the museum, compares it to “walking through a sculpture gallery.”

Wide range of fans

Flags hanging from the ceiling identify country of origin of cars. Photo credit: Lane Motor Museum.

Flags hanging from the ceiling identify country of origin of cars. Photo credit: Lane Motor Museum.

“Hardcore car people,” Jeff says, “those who think they’ve seen everything, discover that they haven’t seen half of what’s in this museum. Maybe they’ve seen pictures of the cars, but not in real life. So enthusiasts love to visit. We’ve also discovered that you don’t have to be an enthusiast to enjoy the vehicles. Other people are simply fascinated by the shapes, coloring and styles of the cars. As just one example, a group of women from California were in the area, attending a conference. Their husbands were car enthusiasts and recommended that they visit. The women were surprised to discover that they loved the museum – and not because they were necessarily interested in the cars; instead, they were interested in the technology.”

Another group of people who frequently visit the car museum: Europeans. “They come to Nashville,” Jeff says, “not necessarily for the museum, then they visit us. We get plenty of visitors from Asia, too. We’ve put up a couple of maps of the United States and the world and we ask visitors to pin where they live. Every five years, we’ve had to change the maps because they’ve gotten so full.”

Fun facts about the Lane Motor Museum

  • Smallest vehicle: Peel P50 at 53” long, 39” wide and 53” high; listed by Guinness World Records as the “Smallest Street-Legal Car” and can achieve speeds of up to 40 mph
  • Largest vehicle: the amphibious LARC-LX, with the width, length and height of three semis parked side by side – with 9 foot tall tires
  • Oldest cars: the 1924 Citroën CV “Trefle” and the 1924 Sima-Violet
  • Newest car: 2003 Smart Car by Mercedes, which gets 60+ miles per gallon
  • One-of-a-kind car: the 1932 Helicron with a wooden body, and four-foot propeller and wooden guard on its front
  • Fastest car: the Caterham Blackbird can go 0 to 60 in 4 seconds, with a top speed of 130 mph
  • Most desired cars to someday be added to the collection (other than ones beginning with ”E” or “Q”): Leyat Saloon with a huge airplane propeller in front, and a Mathis 333 with its three wheels and three seats
  • Car with the most sentimental back story: the MG that took young Jeff four years to assemble
  • How most vehicles are organized: by country with identifying flags hanging from the ceiling and nearby signs describing specs and history
  • The exceptions to the rule in the above bullet point: competition vehicles, motorcycles and micro cars each have their own sections
  • What’s in the parking garage: oversized and military vehicles
  • What remains outside: the 100-ton amphibious LARC-LX, which can be viewed from the motorcycle exhibit area

Important note: Only 150 vehicles are on display at any one time, so you will not see all of these vehicles on any one visit.

Lane Motor Museum showroom. Photo credit: Lane Motor Museum.

Lane Motor Museum showroom. Photo credit: Lane Motor Museum.

More about Jeff and the Lane Motor Museum

“I drive cars home from the museum frequently,” Jeff says. “Not every day, but certainly when the weather isn’t extreme and when it isn’t rainy. The micro car can’t be driven on the interstate, so I use it when I go out to lunch. I enjoy each of the cars and what they represent. I try to drive each one at least once a year and, when I drive a particular car, I remember why I bought it: maybe because of the instruments, or the seats, or the handling. It’s like renewing a relationship once a year.”

Jeff isn’t especially enthusiastic or optimistic about the development of cars in the future. “Because of today’s regulations, from safety to emissions, you have many more rules. In the 20s, 30s and 40s, you could experiment with car design. Some worked. Others didn’t. Today, though, cars are too much like one another and that takes out some of the fun, and much of the diversity. Sure, it was crazy to drive the 1956 BMW where the car bubble opens in front, but now the freedom to innovate has been taken away.”

The car museum employs a small maintenance and repair staff for vehicle upkeep and restoration. If a car is rare and not available for museum acquisition – usually because of small runs – the Lane team will occasionally create a replica, first trying to contact the original manufacturer for blueprints and permission to recreate. If no blueprints exist, the mechanics rely on photographs and drawings to craft the vehicle.

100-ton amphibious LARC-LX, with nine-foot tires. Photo credit: Lane Motor Museum.

100-ton amphibious LARC-LX, with nine-foot tires. Photo credit: Lane Motor Museum.

When asked how difficult that process can be, Jeff says, “The way we look at it, a car is a car, so we can figure it out.”

The museum is largely barrier free, but staff asks that visitors not touch the cars. Approximately 100 posters and advertisements hang in the art gallery, and special events are often planned, including the 2014 microcar meet.

And what might be the most amazing feature of this museum? “It shows that there are about 130 ways,” Jeff says, “to do just one thing: move people around.”

Editor’s note: Whether you drive a museum piece or a beater, Advance Auto Parts has quality auto parts to keep your ride running right. Buy online, pick up in store.

Think outside the
heart-shaped box

Valentines Day Gifts

Show you care for St. Valentine’s Day.

If your significant other is a car guy or girl—someone who loves their vehicle almost as much as they love you—then figuring out what to get them for St. Valentine’s Day should be a snap: something for their vehicle.

But what if you’re in a relationship with someone who just isn’t that into cars or trucks and sees them simply as a mode of transportation? (Yes, there really are people out there who think like that!) What then would be the appropriate Valentine’s Day gifts? Flowers? Chocolates? A mix tape? (Sorry, I was reliving my high school days for a moment.) Two of those three aren’t bad ideas, and are pretty safe as far as Valentine’s Day gifts are concerned, but how about thinking outside the heart-shaped box this year?

What? Have I lost my mind? Am I trying to singlehandedly destroy your relationship? To the contrary. I’m going to improve your relationship by helping you demonstrate to the love of your life that you’ve been listening, and by helping you show how much you care—even if they think you’re not and that you don’t.

Even for someone who isn’t a vehicle enthusiast, there’s still probably something about their car or truck that bothers them, or that they’d at least like changed or fixed. Think about it. Has your partner ever mentioned to you that there’s something wrong with their vehicle or something that needs to be done? Perhaps it’s those squeaky brakes, or that darn interior smell. Or, do their wipers streak for days and is their car in need of an oil change?

Here’s your chance to shine by taking action that demonstrates how much you’ve been listening.

You’re going to solve their problems by taking care of the issues that have been annoying them. Based on a purely unscientific, informal survey of my friends’ significant others, here are the top issues that they’d like their Valentine to take care of now:

  • It’s really dirty. After a long winter, it’s probably filthy inside and out. Wash it. Wax it. Vacuum it. Just make it shine, inside and out.
  • It needs an oil change. The sticker in the window says it’s overdue and so does the owner’s manual. Do it yourself and save some money that you can spend instead on that nice evening out.
  • I can’t see when it rains. The windshield wipers aren’t doing their job because they’re too old. Get new ones, and get them installed for free with purchase.
  • The “Check Engine” light has been on forever. Not only is it annoying, it can also indicate a serious problem. Check it yourself with this diagnostic tool.
  • I need a new headlight or taillight. On most vehicles, this is a really easy fix. Even if the headlight isn’t burned out, if it’s old, consider replacing both of them anyway because new lights have technology that enable you to see further.

 

In addition to making their St. Valentine’s Day special, you just might make a car lover out of them! (There’s always hope!)

 

Editor’s note: Whether your significant other loves cars or not, you can still get a sweetheart deal on parts, tools, accessories and more at Advance Auto Parts

Five automotive legends making a comeback

We know that our readers are nostalgic about cars. There’s probably not one among you that doesn’t remember the new car your dad or uncle brought home that one summer day. You remember how it smelled, how the engine and exhaust sounded and how cool it felt to get picked up or dropped off from school in it.

For many of us, that make and model is no longer being produced. And if it is, it’s probably nothing like it was in those days … but maybe that’s a good thing! Here are five automotive legends that we can’t wait to make it back onto showroom floors.

 UrQuattro1980

 

 

 

Audi Quattro

Original production run: 1980 – 1991
Estimated re-release: 2015

The original Audi Quattro was a road going rally car designed for trips to the shoppes rather than backwoods hooning.

As a Group B rally racer, the Quattro was a formidable foe. The name Quattro was derived from the Italian word for four, which indicated the presence of all wheel drive. The advantage of all four wheels driven (vs. two wheels on competing racers) meant more power could be put down to the ground. During the final year of Group B, the inline five cylinder turbocharged engine was making nearly 600 horsepower.

The production Quattro may have shared its rally cousin’s engine configuration and styling, but not it’s insanely high engine output. Power hovered around the 200 horsepower mark during its entire production run.

In the last few years, Audi has teased us (twice!) with concept versions of a new Quattro. The latest Audio Quattro teaser came in 2013 with a spectacular hybrid powertrain promising 700 horsepower delivered to all four wheels.

We’re sure we could make room for either version of this Group B legend in our garage.

 Lotus_Esprit_03

 

 

 

 

 

Lotus Esprit

Original production run: 1976 – 2004
Estimated re-release: Uncertain

Vivian: Man, this baby must corner like it’s on rails!
Edward: Beg your pardon?
Vivian: Well, doesn’t it blow your mind? This is only four cylinders!

Maybe Julia Roberts (Vivian) didn’t actually drive the Esprit in Pretty Woman (driving scenes with dialouge are often shot through the front glass of a car towed behind a camera truck) but her delivery of the lines above accurately describe two of the Esprit’s many charms.

The first charm – handling. The Esprit was low, wide and light. Weighing just under 2,700 lbs., the Esprit shed weight via exotic material use, including hand (and later vacuum formed) fiberglass and Kevlar (used to strengthen the roof and sides).

The second charm – power. Contributing to the Esprit’s lightness was its diminutive 4 cylinder engine, displacing 2.0 to 2.2L for much of its production run. In turbocharged engine form, the 2.2L engine produced enough power for sub-five second sprints to 60 mph. An all aluminum V8 was offered in 1996.

At the 2010 Paris Auto show, Lotus showed a concept Esprit and rumors of a 2014 production release swirled. Sadly, the Esprit project has been placed on hold for financial reasons.

Our favorite of the run? The Giugiaro designed S3. What’s yours?

Acura_NSX

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acura NSX

Original production run: 1990 – 2005
Estimated re-release: 2015

With the Ferrari 328 set squarely in its sights, Japanese automaker Acura (who was best known for their luxury cars at the time) set out to do the unthinkable – to beat Ferrari at their own game.

With a mid engine layout and an all aluminum monocoque body, Acura created a well balanced car with neutral handling and just enough power (270 to 320 horsepower depending on model and year) to force Ferrari into a response: the more powerful 348.

Unlike Ferrari whose quest to create more and more powerful cars continues to this day, Acura’s NSX changed little throughout production. Any why should it? Formula 1 legend Aryton Senna helped develop it.

The NSX concept debuted in 2012 with production scheduled to start in Marysville, OH during 2014.

 Cosmos3

 

 

 

 

Volkswagen Scirocco

Original production run: 1974 – 1988 (United States)
Estimated re-release: Uncertain (United States)

Like the Esprit, the Scirocco was designed by Guigiaro in the 1970s. Volkswagen needed a sporty coupe to round out their product line. As a replacement for the Karmann Ghia, the Scriocco ditched convertible fun in favor of (what Volkswagen would later refer to as) Fahrvergnügen

Unlike the other cars described here, the Scirocco was no speed demon. The most powerful U.S. version (MkII) produced only 123 horsepower from a normally aspirated 1.8L 4 cylinder engine.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on which side of the pond you live on) there is a MkIII version of the Scirocco. Sold only in Europe, this version was named Top Gear’s Car of the Year upon its release.

Will the MkIII Scirocco be brought to the United States? It’s not looking good. U.S. safety requirements prevent its registration here. But there are a few track-only cars we’ve seen stateside that makes us want one even more.

 1994_Supra_Red_Dragon

 

 

 

 

 

Toyota Supra

Original production run: 1978 – 2002
Estimated re-release: Uncertain

As the longest running production model here (24 years) the Supra has a long and revered history, albeit not one that is based on a factory-backed racing pedigree.

For its entire run, the Supra was powered by an inline 6 cylinder engine. Power output ranged from a modest 110 horsepower in 1978 to a tire shredding 300 horsepower produced by the twin sequential turbocharged engine (2JZ) found in the mid-90s (and beyond) models.

Unlike other twin-turbo competitors of the time, such as the Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4, the Supra drove only the rear wheels. It was also lighter than rear wheel drive competitors such as the Nissan 300ZX.

Today, finding an unmodified twin-turbo 2JZ-powered Supra might be more difficult than finding a leprechaun riding a unicorn chasing a chupacabra. But thankfully, a 2015 Supra concept is rumored to debut in Detroit.

 

Editor’s note: Remember those old cars your dad and uncles brought home when you were a kid? Which automotive legends do you wish could be re-imagined using today’s technology? Let us know in the comments below!