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  Government powers at work

Nearly every driver has done it, but we all fear getting pulled over for doing it. No, not speeding. We mean flashing your headlights to warn oncoming traffic of a cop car hidden off the side of the road getting ready to pounce on a fast driver.

Most of us have been told at some point that the practice is illegal, but I once learned that it actually is not illegal, just frowned upon. Apparently, the police in Seminole County, FL seem to have not gotten the memo that there is no law forbidding it in Florida, or any other state, and handed a ticket to a driver for that exact reason. They certainly got that memo in direct fashion as a Florida judge ruled against the Seminole police saying that flashing your lights to warn other drivers of a speed trap is covered under free speech. This court date was just a civil hearing and the driver still has yet to take the ticket to traffic court, which he surely will win.

The worst part of the whole thing is that the police officer gave the driver, Ryan Kintner, the ticket based on Florida’s law banning aftermarket flashing lights on civilian cars. Flashing your headlights is in no way having an aftermarket flashing light on your car. That is abuse of power to a “T,” but we’re not here to debate police and their power.

Now, before you all go out there and start flashing your lights like crazy to oncoming traffic every time you see a cop, make sure to review your state, county and city laws in regards to high beam usage. Every state or municipality has a rule on when you have to dim your high beam lights, most of which are at 500 feet from the oncoming traffic or 200 feet from traffic heading in the same direction as you.

One feature that automakers have teased us with and even installed on concept cars is an LED screen and camera in the place of the old-style rearview mirror. With all of the cameras placed all around cars these days, like Subaru Subaru ’s EyeSight system and the various backup cameras, we are surprised this hasn’t become a reality. The assumed reasons for rearview screens not taking the place of rearview mirrors are NHTSA and DOT regulations.

Honestly, we don’t see why the NHTSA and DOT would think a hunk of glass glued to the windshield is safer than a crisp LED image from an HD camera. Then again those two government offices – as with all government offices – make strange regulations. Apparently an LED screen and camera are plenty for Audi’s future Le Mans cars, as the automaker has just announced, via a press release, that its closed LMP prototype will run with an AMOLED screen in place of the mirror and a rear-mounted camera feeding the images to the screen.

The main reasoning behind this is that the LMP prototype’s cabin is fully closed, with exception of the front windshield, so a rearview mirror would display nothing but the rear wall of the cabin. So, if this technology is good enough for racecars, why are we not seeing it installed in street cars yet? Well, we just very well might, as you likely do not remember, but the rearview mirror was not used on motor cars until Ray Harroun’s Marmon “Wasp” used one in the first Indianapolis 500, in 1911. It later became standard per NHTSA regulations for all cars to come with this item, thanks to its overwhelming success in racing.

Odds are that if this system is successful in racing that the NHTSA will adopt it, especially given the fact that rearview cameras are soon to become mandatory on all vehicle.

Click past the jump to read the full press release.

There are two things that are a part of nearly every auto show: sexy cars and equally appealing women. With the latter often comes clothing that leaves very little to the imagination. Well apparently, the Capital Ethics Development Office of China – the morality police, per se – decided that it wanted none of it, as they reprimanded the Beijing Auto Show officials for such scantily clad women, per a report from Bloomberg.

From what we saw of the Beijing Auto Show , the number of skin-flaunting women wasn’t nearly as high as we are used to, so we are left wondering what exactly the Chinese government wants. There were, of course, the obligatory more-skin-than-clothes models, but for the most part the women were dressed pretty moderately for an auto show, and the video from Bloomberg (above) shows them.

We totally understand that the Chinese government is more reserved than most, but c’mon, it’s an auto show. Who is mostly drawn to auto shows? The answer is, primarily men in their 30s and 40s. What do most men in their 30s and 40s like just about as much as cars? Well, we think you can figure it out…

We guess we’ll just have to see what happens next year at the Beijing Auto Show. We certainly hope the women aren’t prancing around in pant suits – eek. If so, we will all use a lot less space on our digital cameras.

Source: Bloomberg

For those of us fortunate enough to live in the U.S. or U.K., we are all aware that there is no such thing as a debtor’s prison, regardless of what some overzealous collections agent trying to hit their monthly bonus number might say. Well, in Dubai things are a tad different, as people who cannot pay their debts get thrown into the slammer.

This results in expats that fall into debt problems in Dubai fleeing the country and leaving their indebted property to bake in the not-so-pleasant desert sun. That is exactly what happened in the case of this $1.6 million Ferrari Enzo . The British expatriate purchased this machine and, according to reports, ran into issues with traffic citations that he couldn’t afford, so he fled the country, leaving the Enzo to bake for about 20 months in a parking lot.

Dubai authorities finally found the vehicle and impounded it faster than it can hit 60 mph. Now this million dollar supercar is heading off to the Dubai police auction, along with 23 other luxury cars, and will like fetch a nice sum of money for the Dubai authorities. The other 23 cars have fines attached to them ranging from Dh98,300 to Dh100,000 ($26,766 to 27,229), meaning the highest total the fines can be is $626,267. It is more than likely that the Enzo alone will sell for enough scratch to cover that amount. Sounds like a sweet business move, huh?

How can they do this? Well, in Dubai, the police have the right to seize and auction any car that is abandoned for six months. Chances are, they focus mostly on luxury cars, leaving rotting and sunburned econo-boxes to continue to take on more sand and sunlight. But, who are we to judge?

So, if you would like to snag up a sunburned and sandblasted 1-of-399 Enzo, just head on over to Dubai and get a 30 day visitor’s visa (free for U.K. and U.S. passport holders), pay the Dh110 ($29.95) fee to get into the auction, and bid away.

UPDATE 04/30/2012: Sorry, folks, but this dusty Ferrari Enzo is NOT for sale. Dubai police have spoken to Emirates 24/7 and have stated that the cars "have been seized as part of evidence from various crimes such as robbery, and are not for sale."

Known computer hacking and vigilante justice group, Anonymous, has struck again. This time it is pulling directly at our horsepower sensitive strings. With the upcoming Formula 1 race in Bahrain, an area that is currently in civil unrest due to the actions of its government, Anonymous has decided to nail F1 where it hurts, Interwebz traffic.

Last year F1 was forced to cancel its Bahrain races, due to similar unrest, but this year the race was and still is scheduled to go off without a hitch. This latest attack is an attempt by anonymous to force F1 to cancel the race out of protest, and it just might give the racing group the excuse it needs to pull out.

Anonymous is also calling for all viewers and spectators of F1 to ignore all television broadcasts of the race, as well as not buying tickets to the event. The vigilante hackers also are attempting to coax the drivers to not leave the starting line when the green flag drops.

Anonymous also took down F1 fan site, F1-Races.net, and leaving just a message on its landing page regarding the Bahrain situation.
As we typed this up, the Formula1.com came back live, so it appears that the Anonymous attempt to keep the site down through the race was unsuccessful, and there is no announcement about the attack or cancellation of the race. We will keep you updated as more news, if any, comes about.

Click past the jump to read Anonymous’s press release

Chevrolet Chevelle Z-16

Cloned classic cars are everywhere. Heck even my dad has a cloned 1966 Chevelle SS. There is one difference between my dad, along with most other cloners, and one Bobby Patton, they have no problem admitting that their vehicle is officially a clone.

Mr. Patton apparently purchased a 1965 Chevy Chevelle from a gentleman and figured out that there is one extremely rare model in 1965 that the average person wouldn’t recognize from a regular old Chevelle. This model is the 1965 Chevelle Z16 , which features a boxed frame, different engine stampings, special badges, different rear end, and the most obvious one, a unique VIN.

After tricking some car show judges into giving him a nice collection of trophies, Mr. Patton decided he was going to try and make a quick buck off of this clone by auctioning it off. Well, the problem is that he didn’t identify the vehicle as a clone, but as one of the few Z16s in the world, and was trying to get a cool $100K out of it.

The crack detective team at Chevelles.com sniffed out this fraud and began a conversation with the man that was auctioning the car. The conversations were not accusatory, but instead an attempt to help the guy realize that whoever sold him that car had tricked him. One of the folks talking to Mr. Patton pointed out numerous errors with the vehicle, including a homemade cowl VIN tag, incorrect speedometer, wrong engine stamping, wrong frame, and many other things.

Obviously, the guy kept pressing the issue and it took several days for him to come to his senses and pull the car from the auction site. That was a little too long, as someone reported him to the Ohio State Highway Patrol and they paid him a nice visit.

He claimed to have purchased the car that way, but the cops found out from the original owner that the car was badged, titled, and sold as a Chevelle 327SS, not a Z16 . A long story short, now his car is impounded and he is serving two years of probation. Who would have known cloning a car could cause such issues?

Image is of a real Chevrolet Chevelle Z16.

Fiat is at it yet again. Just a few weeks ago, we complained about the fact that Fiat keeps on reusing the “500” name in the U.S., and once again we are apparently in for more 500s. Just like government documents spoiled the surprise that Fiat’s subsidiary company, Chrysler , was planning a revival of the Barracuda nameplate, government documents are now spoiling the fun for Fiat itself.

Documents leaked from the NHTSA and CARB are showing two models under the 500 umbrella that currently do not exist. One of those vehicles is the 500T, and “T” in this instance obviously means turbocharged. The other, and less newsworthy, is a 500 Abarth Convertible.

For those that know Fiats, you are likely wondering what’s going on, as there is already a turbocharged 500, it’s the 500 Abarth , which has a 160-horsepower Multi-Air 1.4-liter engine. What all of us experts – or so we like to call ourselves – agree upon is that this new 500T will likely feature a slightly detuned version of the Abarth’s 1.4-liter engine, ranging somewhere in the 130 to 140 horsepower range.

What Fiat would be doing with this is trying to target buyers that want a higher performance 500, but don’t want to fork out the $22,000 that it costs to get into an Abarth. If the 500T hits 130 horsepower, that would be 29 horsepower greater than the standard engine and likely enough to satisfy the hunger for a little more performance.

Using reasonable estimations, we would assume that the Fiat 500T would have an MSRP in the $20,000 range, as to keep it less than the Abarth, but slightly more than the 500 Lounge (the top trim level before the Abarth). That would position it just under the base MINI Cooper ($20,200) and well below the MINI Cooper S ($23,800).

Given these two models pan out, and the 500X that Fiat teased us with earlier comes to be, this would put the 500 at a whopping seven models. It’s starting to get a little ridiculous, Fiat.

There are a lot of new car scams in the world and most of them are initiated by the new car dealer, not the buyer. A group of buyers flipped the script on several Los Angeles dealerships, by using fake identities to purchase 20 cars and were shipping them to Hong Kong and Vietnam to sell them for two to three times their U.S. value.

It was a laundry list of luxury vehicles, such as a $280,000 2010 Ferrari 458 Italia , an Audi Quattro , 2012 Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 , along with several Mercedes , Lexus , Infiniti , and BMW SUVs among others. For some reason, the thieves even threw in a Toyota Tundra .

The one that got these fraudsters busted was the Ferrari 458 Italia , as Ferrari fitted the supercar with a GPS system as standard, which Ferrari used to track the car once they found out they were defrauded. This led U.S. Customs and the California highway Patrol to conduct a full investigation and find the cars on a ship that had already pulled away from the port.

Needless to say, that ship was forced to come back and all but four of the cars were recovered. The four non-recovered cars are due to be shipped back by Vietnamese Customs.

According to the report, had the fraudsters not gone after the Ferrari, chances are they would have gotten away with this scam and made a ton of money in the process. The total amount of the vehicles seized by U.S. customs is estimated at $1.5 million, which would have pulled in around $3 million in Hong Kong and Vietnam.

We are still trying to figure out what in the world a Toyota Tundra was doing in the mix with all of these high-end luxury cars. We also wonder which thief drew the short straw and was stuck going to the Toyota dealership to pick this thing up?

BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, and Meritor Defense have been working on a military project dubbed the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) program in an attempt to manufacture a lightweight vehicle that the U.S. armed forces can use anywhere in the world. This project had yet to be officially proposed, as its equipment was still in the developmental phase, but as of today, testing is over and the proposal is to be submitted.

You may be wondering “what does this have to do with production cars?” The driving force of this new military device, which is ultimately the replacement for the Humvee, is shared with one of the best-selling pickups of all time, the Ford F-Series SuperDuty . Yup, this large-caliber-gun-toting machine will come fitted with Ford’s now famous 6.7-liter Power Stroke engine.

The exact specifics of the engine have not been released, so we are not certain if this will be the same 6.7-liter you would see under the hood of a 2012 F-250 SuperDuty . Unfortunately, that will likely never be known, but we do know that the Power Stroke engine is up to the task, pumping out an impressive 400 horsepower at 2,800 rpm and 800 pound-feet of torque at 1,600 rpm.

This will likely end up similar to the Allison military transmissions vs. civilian models deal. The Power Stroke’s basic technology will remain the same, but the engine will be highly modified for combat usage. If the military accepts this design as one of the three it will select, this could mean that the Power Stroke could see much advancement in upcoming years, as the military tinkers with the engine and Ford mimics the modifications. This also means that we are in for a slew of “Ford’s so good, we power military vehicles” styles of commercials, oh boy.

On a semi-ironic aside to this announcement, Ford was once a part of the JLTV program, but dropped out earlier. We guess there are no hard feelings between Ford and BAE.

Hit the jump for the official press release.

Apparently, even a crime fighter like Batman isn’t above the law, especially when it comes to having no tags on his Batmobile...err...Lamborghini .

As it turns out, Batman was cruising around in Maryland when he was pulled over by the Montgomery County Police Department because the car didn’t have any plates on it. While we understand the Caped Crusader doesn’t want people checking on his DMV records, it might still have been a good idea to abide by the law. Otherwise, you’re pretty much attracting police cars to your Lamborghini the same way you do to the Bat signal.

The photo comes courtesy of the Montgomery Country Police Department’s Twitter page and to their credit, they seemed to get a kick out of Batman’s folly more than anything else.

Let’s hope that the Dark Knight learns his lesson the next time he goes out in full garb and hammer. After all, he wouldn’t want more bad press now that his newest movie is coming out in a few months, right?


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