eBay Motors peoples picks contest


You’ve never been shy about expressing your opinions on your favorite cars, parts and accessories. So let the world know what you already know by voting for your favorites. The winning brands will be annouced at this year’s SEMA in Las Vegas.

Vote for your favorite brands and you’ll be entered to win the Grand Prize, a VIP trip to SEMA plus $10,000. And hundreds will win other awesome prizes.

Have fun voting folks!

Unipower GT

Goodwood was the place where, sometime in the 1960’s, the first meeting took place between two men who were passionate about racing cars: Ernie Unger, an admirer of the cars built by Carlo Abarth, and who some years earlier had raced with a Lotus, and Val Dare-Bryan, connected with the development and production of racing cars in the workshop of the racing driver Roy Pierpoint. Sharing the same enthusiasm, the two men decided to build a small GT car which would bring together British effectiveness and Italian beauty. Another motor sport enthusiast joined the project, Tim Powell, as did his great friend Andrew Hedges, the BMC factory racing driver.

In 1966, the UNIPOWER GT was presented at the London Racing Car Show where it was received with great enthusiasm by both the public and the motor sport press. Universal Power Drives Ltd, the company run by Tim Powell, started at last to produce the beautiful and fast Unipower GT. At the end of 1968, after 60 cars had been built, Powell lost interest in the project which he always regarded as an adventure, and sold UNIPOWER to Piers Weld-Forrester. Piers Weld-Forrester, a racing driver as well as also being an adventurer, transferred UNIPOWER GT production to the new company Unger, Weld-Forrester (U.W.F.). U.W.F. was responsible for building just the last 15 UNIPOWER cars built. In spite of having a full order book, production stopped in 1970!

In the space of 3 years a total of 75 cars were built. These had a tubular chassis, glass fibre reinforced plastic (GRP) bodywork, independent suspension, based on Formula 3 cars, and some innovative solutions for its time.

The Unipower GT power unit was made by the BMC group. Most of the cars were fitted with the 998cc Cooper engine, installed in the “wrong” place, that is, at the rear and in a central / transverse position. Some of the cars were, however, fitted with the 1275cc Cooper S engine.

Thanks to its daring design and the quality of its construction, unusual for its time, the UNIPOWER GT became the most beautiful and sophisticated car based on Mini mechanics ever built.

The UNIPOWER, 95 cm high, weighing 500 kg and designed by a car racing enthusiast, was planned right from the start as a racing car. In their catalogues, UNIPOWER advertised sale by order of competition cars, the Special light-weight competition series. This group comprised 20 cars out of a total of only 75 cars ever built.

The 20 rare Special light-weight competition cars were prepared in a different way by the UNIPOWER GT people responsible for planning and building them and by the racing driver “adventurers” in several parts of the world who ordered the UNIPOWER competition prototypes.

UNIPOWER competition cars were used in speed races, mountain and slalom events, rallies and even in the World Manufacturers’ Championship.

A good idea that just vanished.

This was the handiest thing for a lot of pick up loading and unloading. It made packages and appliance moving a breeze. But the idea just vanished as pickups became more a status symbol and less and less an utility vehicle.

Did Toyota try to cover up the acceleration problems?

The following article is from TTAC and it brings up some interesting speculation.

Bloomberg reports that a lawsuit accuses Toyota of a widespread coverup of unintended acceleration in its vehicles. The suit alleges that

“Toyota technicians” confirmed that vehicles were unexpectedly accelerating and the company bought back the vehicles, had customers sign confidentiality agreements and didn’t disclose the problems to regulators… In testimony about acceleration defects before Congress, Toyota Motor Corp. didn’t disclose that the technicians had replicated instances of sudden unintended acceleration not caused by pedals or mats… The company also didn’t report the customer agreements to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration… Toyota ordered employees to remove names of executives from acceleration related e-mails and to stop using specific acceleration terms in e-mails to prevent damage to the company in litigation

Toyota’s response:

Steven Curtis, a spokesman for Toyota’s U.S. sales arm in Torrance, California, said today in an e-mail that no technicians for the company or field specialists confirmed unintended acceleration in vehicles. He said the plaintiffs’ lawyers are referring to service technicians employed by dealerships, which are independent businesses… the claims are based on anecdotes and fail to identify any specific defects in the vehicles.

Plaintiffs claim that dealer techs are “agents of the company” and that vehicle repurchases and confidentiality agreements are proof positive of a coverup. Toyota admits that it investigated and repurchased two vehicles after dealer techs found “acceleration events,” but says its factory technicians were unable to replicate any problems. If this sounds like a complicated mess of he-said-she-said, consider that this suit is just one of 300 currently pending against the world’s largest automaker. The lawyers will probably be busy with this one for decades.

Will Saab survive?

Saab is one sick puppy. Third quarter results are out for the Dutch-Swedish automaker, and they’re not good: the firm has lost $70m on an operating basis last quarter, and has burnt through $160m in the the first nine months of 2010. Wholesale and retail sales in the first three quarters were down by 10 percent and 45 percent respectively compared to the first nine months of 2009, and Saab has cut its 2010 sales projections from 45,000 units to 30,000 units, or half of the 60k projection Saab started 2010 with. Improbably, the company still believes it will sell 80,000 Saabs next year, and 120,000 in 2012. And though Saab-Spyker has a negative equity of about $234m, the company says it does not need to recapitalize.

Is it a curse? Or just the results of a socialist governments meddling in the companies operations. They need an 96 or another standout car to break back into the auto world.

Can Stryker continue to throw money into the historically failure prone Saab? Or will they take what they can of the underlying designs and sell it off?

This 64 Aguzzoli Condor II was a mid engined racer with body lines and layout that would be made famous by other Marques in the 70’s.

“Built on an Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ chassis and is powered by the Giuletta SZ’s engine. The car was commissioned by Giovanni and Sergio Aguzzoli, wealthy father and son salami traders of which the car bears it’s name.

Finally, Sergio Aguzzoli, Alfa Romeo dealer firms in Parma, forces his own workshop built a prototype car called the Giulietta Condor Aguzzoli. Manually model, purely functional body, moved from glass to plexi, lack of bumpers – all evidence of the desire to reduce the weight and destination of the racetrack. A distinctive feature of Condor was a centrally placed engine, in front of the rear axle – a solution that (such as sports cars, not racing) first appeared here very early in relation to the period of its dissemination.”

Fiat 2-cylinder TwinAir.

Fiat Twin Air

As promised earlier this year, Fiat has officially adorned their beloved 500 with a brand new engine option: the 2-cylinder TwinAir.

The 85 HP, turbocharged 0.9 liter engine reportedly has the performance characteristics of a much larger 1.4 liter, 16-valve engine, but it consumes about 30% less fuel—resulting in a fuel economy of 57 mpg as rated on the combined Euro cycle. If it were sold in the U.S. and rated on the EPA cycle, that number would likely drop to around 50 mpg.

Unfortunately for now, there are no plans to sell the 85 HP TwinAir engine as an option on any of the Fiat 500’s that are rumored to be reaching U.S. shores by the end of this year.

Chrysler K-310

Ghia got in touch with Chrysler in 1950, although they bodied a Chrysler 75 back in 1929.
So there was Luigi Segre whose first Plymouth bodied cars ..er wasn’t ranked among the era’s greatest.
Chrysler president Kaufmann T. Keller had been impressed by the Ghia craftsmanship and modest cost of the above mentioned car so he permitted stylist Virgil M. Exner, who had been bought in by Keller to revive Chrysler’s design image, to proceed with the commissioning of other Chrysler-based concept cars from the Torinese carrozzeria.

The explanation of the name: K: Kaufman T. Keller, then-chairman of Chrysler 310: the hopeful power output (in fact it only developed some 180 bhp). The car was based on the new hemi-head V8 Saratoga chassis, and cost $20.000 to build at Ghia.
Chrysler ordered 40 Ghia-Chrysler but the commission was cut back because of the Korean War.