Tony Hawk jumps over a moving Mini Cooper S

Many folks born in the 1970s like me grew up idolizing Powell Peralta’s Bones Brigade and the admiration has stayed with me all my life. Consequently, it should be no surprise we had to post something about 46-year-old Tony Hawk “the King of skateboarding” jumping a Mini Cooper S.  He truly is the greatest skateboarder to ever drop in and it’s so cool that he is still ripping it at his age.  The stunt was performed in celebration of the partnership between Mini USA and Hawk’s Birdhouse Skateboards Tour, details of which you can read in the press release here. It’s worth mentioning that this is great PR on Mini’s part as Tony remains a global sports icon and still very relevant as a youth oriented brand of which Mini is focusing on here in North America.

Check out the video which proves Tony’s still got the moves.

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Today is the year’s best day in auto racing television

The weather is beautiful here in Toronto today so hopefully you are all out enjoying an auto related activity.  However, if you are stuck inside, don’t fret since today is the best day of the year for auto racing television as the F1 Monaco GP, Indy 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 all are happening.

Monaco Grand Prix view

Monaco Grand Prix view

Indy 500 start

Indy 500 start

Coca-Cola 600

Coca-Cola 600

So for the folks staying indoors we recommend you grab a good spot on the couch to experience the greatest day as a racing couch potato.  Of course saying this, if you do end up watching all three races make sure you get some serious exercise this week. Happy watching!

 

How Steve Jobs drove without a license plate

Last week while on vacation I read Walter Isaacson’s biography on Steve Jobs. There is no arguing Steve Jobs was one of the best businessmen of the modern era and he may just be the best one ever having started Apple in his garage and then leading it to become the most valuable company in the world. However, one thing he did was very strange and that was never putting a license plate on his cars.  Yes, especially weird for a car guy of which he was to some degree.  For years, Steve Jobs had the following routine which he got away with legally thanks to a California loophole.

He would trade his current ride of the day, most often a Mercedes coupe for a similar car on the sixth month of his lease. Under California’s temporary license plate law drivers are allowed to have a temporary license plate for six months. Nobody really knows the reason Steve Jobs did this, but obviously he had his reasons. One key observation about this scenario is he must have had a very accommodating leasing company. The whole thing is extraordinary for someone who was worth $11 billion at the time of his death.

Steve Jobs' car  Photo source: abc News

Steve Jobs’ car
Photo source: abc News

De Tomaso Pantera and a Superformance Cobra

Who says classic cars are just for old guys? Well, here’s a video that may change your mind. Check out this 650 HP Pantera while it plays a little cat and mouse with a Superformance Cobra.  The performance makes me want to buy one of these classic beauties.  Since there really is no substitute in the world for the sounds of a high performance eight-cylinder engine….

Porsche 914-6

Petrolicious recently released a new video exploring the Porsche 914-6.  The Porsche 914 was released in 1969 and was a collaborative effort between Porsche and Volkswagen. The vehicle had seating for two and featured a 4-cylinder boxer engine provided the power, while the 914-6 had more power with the six cylinder, 911 engine. In Europe the 914s were badged as Volkswagen/Porsche, while all 914’s sold in were sold under the Porsche brand. Jack Griffin, who is profiled in the Petrolicious video, has an interesting story about his experience with the 914 and has owned his 914-6 for over 38 years.

2014 Cadillac ATS

The 2014 Cadillac ATS is a four door, five passenger luxury sports sedan made by General Motors.  It debuted in 2013 model year to much fanfare and won the North American Car Of The Year award that same year.  Having reviewed the 2013 ATS with the 2.0L turbocharged engine last year, RedlineNorth recently had the opportunity to revisit the ATS.  This time with a 2014, 3.6L engine with automatic transmission. How does this year’s ATS stack up? Read on to find out.

2014 Cadillac ATS

2014 Cadillac ATS

The Cadillac ATS is available with three engine configurations, a 2.0L turbocharged, a 2.5L and a 3.6L engine.  In addition, there are four trim levels depending on the chosen engine from standard, luxury, performance and premium. Our test vehicle was a white 2014 with the 3.6L engine, AWD and luxury trim. The standard ATS starts at $35,695 and reaches a base price of $51,480 at the premium trim level.  The starting price of our luxury level configuration was $46,675. Additional options, destination charge and air conditioning fee brought the total price of the vehicle to $54,885 CAD.

Notable features of the 2014 vehicle with options include:

  • A four year, 80,000 km new vehicle limited warranty with six years or 110,000 km of road side assistance
  • 6 speed automatic transmission
  • Brembo front brake calipers
  • 1 year of OnStar service
  • 18″ aluminium wheels
  • Dual zone climate control
  • Ambient LED based lighting
  • 10-way power adjustable front seat
  • Rear camera
  • Front & rear park assist
  • 8″ touch screen & 3 USB ports
  • The driver awareness package adds forward collision alert, lane departure warning, auto high beam control and rain sensing wipers to name a few.

In terms of style, the ATS shows its aggressive side with sharp angles and a bold appearance.  The sculpted headlights and the 18 inch polished aluminium wheels add to this look. The rear of the vehicle incorporates distinctive Cadillac chevron styling cues as well as dual chrome exhaust pipes.  All in all General Motors should be applauded for their departure from the traditional Cadillac look and feel.

ATS_003

The 2014 ATS has an aggressive exterior style

The interior of the ATS has the fit and finish that one would expect in a Cadillac.  We particularly like the leather seats with precision stitching and embedded Cadillac chevron. The plethora of soft touch surfaces, along with the ambient lighting added to the luxury feel of the vehicle.

The dashboard is organized in a logical and ergonomically pleasing way. The haptic feedback on the CUE touchscreen is a great feature, however, we found that a number of the touchpad style buttons on the dash have to be pressed twice for them to engage.  After a while we figured out the exact spot that needed pressing, but this is something that requires improvement in the future.  Rounding out our likes of the interior was a frameless rear view mirror which blended into the front windscreen and looks great.

ATS_018

Leather stitching and soft touch surfaces add to the interior quality of the ATS.

The back seat of the ATS does have somewhat limited leg room, and is best used for shorter distances, while rear headroom is acceptable. Trunk space is adequate and offers  a pass through for those longer items. Although Cadillac engineers have made efficient use of space overall we found the interior of the ATS a touch on the small side.

In terms of performance, the 3.6L V6 engine provides 321 hp and 274 lbs of torque.  Not surprisingly acceleration was plentiful with reported 0-60 mph times in the six second range. The ATS feels nimble and takes corners well with little body roll.  Breaking is responsive thanks in part to the Brembo front calipers.  Those in the market for a 6 speed manual have only one choice and that is the RWD 2.0L turbo model unfortunately.  It would be nice for the manual transmission option to be available across all engine configurations.

The stated fuel efficiency of the 3.6L engine with AWD is 11.6L/100 km city and 7.6 L/100 km highway, which is based on the current two cycle test.  Next year Natural Resources Canada will require reporting based on the more stringent 5 cycle test which translates into 13.1L city and 9.0L highway.  Note that the 3.6L engine in the ATS only requires regular 87 octane fuel.

ATS_005

Key competitors to the ATS are the BMW 3 series, Audi A4/S4, and the Acura TSX and we think it does a good job stacking up against its German and Japanese rivals.  Despite having a slightly tight interior feel and touch sensitive buttons that could use a rework, overall the ATS is a blast to drive.  Throughout acceleration, cornering and breaking the ATS performs admirably.  We loved the look and feel of both the exterior and interior of the vehicle and with a $46K base price one can enter the world of the performance luxury sedan with some nice options for under $50K. We also look forward to a new ATS stablemate, the 2015 ATS Coupe later this year.

 

2017 Jeep Wrangler may get aluminum unibody

Ford Motor Company certainly has received a ton of ink in the auto press ever since announcing that their 2015 F-150 pickup will be built with an all aluminum-body shedding 700 pounds off the weight of the current version.  This move to aluminum is quite revolutionary and it comes as no surprise other manufactures are now on the bandwagon.

Earlier this week, at Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles’ marathon press conference CEO Sergio Marchionne was asked if they plan to use aluminum in the future Dodge Ram. “Although we have the capability to do an aluminum body for the Ram, I have better places to use aluminum in the portfolio.”

At the end of the day, Automotive News asked if there is a “better use for aluminum” in the lineup than the Wrangler. Marchionne simply said, “No.”

This is not a 100% confirmation the next Wrangler will use aluminum in its chassis or body, but it sure seems like it is the most plausible options as the iconic SUV has gained a considerable amount of weight with each recent generation. Back in 2011, Jeep created an all aluminum-bodied Wrangler Stitch Concept, which was about 498 kg lighter than the standard Wrangler.

Wrangler Stitch Concept

Wrangler Stitch Concept

Check out this video of the Wrangler Stitch Concept from an Indian based media outlet.

Another Gymkhana Battle for the Ages

As our regular readers know we have always been interested in covering the Gymkhana drifting scene so we would be remiss if we did not post this new video from Pikes Peak International Hill Climb champion Mike Ryan. The new video features Mike in his heavily modified Freightliner Cascadia (by Banks Power) and a drift-ready Nissan 240SX driven by Daniel Leavitt. Together with a solid team of stunt professionals Mike and Daniel drive their rides to the limit incorporating everything from tandem drifts, insane jumps to unreal burn-outs.  Honestly, after watching this epic video we are starting to think Ken Block may not be the King for too much longer…..

 

Amazing Car Photography

There are photographers that shoot cars and then there are Dmitry Chistoprudov and Nikolay Rykov. This pair of photographers recently shot a series of car photos on a frozen lake lit from below.  The results are impressive considering they do not appear to be digitally altered.  The preparation involved including making a hole through the 1 meter (3 foot) thick ice with the help of some local fisherman and also an hour of cleaning up the scratches on the ice that the said fisherman made with their spiked boots.

In the end results were well worth it. The creativity and technical know how speak for themselves.

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You can read the original blog post from the photographers (in Russian) or an English translation and also see additional photos of both the set up and end results.

Sources: http://nikolapic.livejournal.com/72873.html, Petapixel.com, English Russia