Wednesday November 30th, 2011 12:26 5 Classic British Family Cars

British car manufacturing has been in the doldrums for many years. The major manufacturers have all been swallowed up by overseas companies, or have disappeared completely. Whilst there are still many manufacturing plants in the UK, most of the vehicles that emerge from them are designed elsewhere.

For many years however, Britain was the world’s foremost car manufacturer and many iconic designs were produced and exported around the world. This includes models such as the Jaguar E-Type, Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow and the Aston Martin DB5. Just as commonplace though are some of the more practical family designs.

The Austin 7

This was one of the first classic British cars, with a design that was reproduced worldwide in various guises. Ultimately it was to change the direction of the industry by successfully introducing the smaller car design that became popular with the general public. Many different versions were produced, including Saloons, Cabriolets, Sports cars and even vans with nearly 300,000 vehicles in total between 1922 and 1939.

Morris Minor/Morris 1000

Over 1.3 million Morris Minors were produced between 1948 and 1971, and this was the first British car to break the 1 million sales mark. It had been designed by Alec Issigonis, who later designed the Mini, to be an affordable car for the working classes and it was undoubtedly one of the main catalysts of the post-war motoring boom.
Today, the Minor is well remembered with a thriving community of clubs and groups dedicated to restoring and remembering these family classics. In fact, the Minor lives on, with production continuing in Sri Lanka.

Mini

The Mini is perhaps the most iconic of all British cars and one of the most influential cars ever designed. First made in 1959, production continued until 2000 during which time it became a movie icon, a rally star as well as being one of the most popular cars ever made.
The revolutionary design for the time made it possible to create a very small car that still had room for four passengers, and was a direct response to the fuel rationing that had come about after the Suez Crisis. That it had such longevity is testament to Alec Issigonis, the head designer, and his team.

Ford Cortina

Another classic family car that also saw success in motorsport, the Ford Cortina was introduced in 1962 to replace the Ford Consul Classic. The racing and rally versions, built in conjunction with Lotus, were very successful, winning championships in touring cars and a number of rally victories in the late 1960s.

During the 1970s, it became one of the bestselling British cars right up until it was replaced by the Ford Sierra in 1982.

Rover P6

The Rover P6, introduced in 1963, was voted the first ever European Car of the Year in 1964 and also won awards for its safety features. Imagine that, a British car lauded as Europe’s finest! More than 300,000 vehicles were made before production ceased in 1977, Rover having introduced the SD1 as a replacement.

Mark Chalcraft is a writer with an interest in all things motoring. He is writing on behalf of 4Wheelz, who provide driving lessons in Birmingham for learners who aspire to one day own a classic British family car. Or possibly a Ferrari.

In: Family cars, GeneralNo Comments

Monday November 28th, 2011 12:27 New Concept Cars

We realize the future of the automobile will be greener, however, what happens to drivers who love rev-matched downshifts and the coordinated shriek of pistons, valves and cams? Who knows what the future of car performance is, nonetheless, a survey within the automobile industry has come up with some great new automobile concepts. Automobile manufactures use auto-show concept cars that are usually one-of-a-kind prototypes. Just think of your typical haute-couture fashion show, with outlandishly designed outfits to capture the audience’s unswerving attention.

These automobile prototypes are built by hand in order to encapsulate the thoughts of the press and public with eccentric automobile models of what is in store for the future. Some designs seem practical, and others are pure fantasy, not even the Jetson’s era would fathom. Nonetheless, some of the bigwig automakers are pursuing concept cars that may turn out to really be worth something. Some of the automobile concepts are vaguely camouflaged as future possibilities and other present ideas from a technological standpoint that CEOs want to road-test with the press and the public.

Let’s take a look at some of the future concept automobile models:

Maserati Kubang

Maserati Kubang:
Even though the Kubang will be assembled in the same plant as the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the chief bits will be created specifically for Maserati’s new SUV. Included is a new production of Maserati engines, created by Paolo Martinelli. The new engines will be secured to an eight-speed mechanized transmission along with Modena-engineered functioning brakes, suspension and navigation.

Toyota FT-CH

Toyota FT-CH:
The Toyota’s concentrated efforts with the FT-CH concept indicate that they want to increase its utilization of gas-electric hybrid technology to a wider group of vehicles. The company hinted that it plans to introduce eight new hybrid modes in the coming years, and plans to sell one million hybrids per year.

Mazda MX-5 Miata

Mazda MX-5 Miata:
Kijima’s future point-of-view is to take the MX-5 back to the essentials. The planning for the new concept of the Mazda MX-5 Miata began a few years ago, with the company’s goal to decrease fuel consumption by 30% and lessen the weight by 8%. The new MX-5 will be suited with a 1.5-liter Skyactiv-G engine producing approximately 125 Hp with mileage upwards of 50mpg, including a six-speed manual transmission. During the meantime, the American model will still utilize the 2.0 liter engine.

Ford Mustang 2015

2015 Ford Mustang:
The 2015 Ford Mustang suspension will be comparable to the Australian Ford Falcon. Computer managed torque vectoring could be part of the equation for future handling enhancement. The engine is geared to generate 247 horsepower from 2.0 liters.

GMC Granite

GMC Granite:
The GMC Granite is a small concept automobile with a 1.4 liter engine and a six speed transmission. The idea is more in the lines of a square type four-cylinder urban mini-wagon.

BMW M5

BMW M-5:
The BMW M-5 is known for its powerful engine. The future model will have the same 4.4 liter twin turbo V-8 that generates 555 horsepower and 500 pound feet torque. The 2012 model will utilize an automatic start-up utility together with a seven-speed dual clutch transmission as well.

Jaguar 2012

Jaguar C-X16:
To lighten the weight of the Jaguar C-X16 copious sums of aluminum is utilized including all the body panels. Most of the power comes from a highly-charged, straight-injected, complete aluminum 3.0 liter V-6 recognized 375 Hp and 332 ft. lbs. of torque. The C-X16 includes a push-to-pass function that is activated by a steering wheel installed feature. This feature utilizes an electric motor to go with the gas engine with over nine-seconds of added enhancement. Jaguar states that the C-X16 needs only 4.4 seconds to go from 0-60 mph; the highest speed is 186 mph.

Jarod Matthews is a writer providing information about Car Tax Bands and advice on obtaining a vehicle tax band for your car.

, In: General, Green CarsNo Comments

Wednesday November 23rd, 2011 17:32 The World’s Top Cars for Toughness and Reliability

When most people buy a new car, they’re looking for something that looks cool, is in their price range, and will suit their needs – you won’t see a family buying a two-seater, for example. However, there’s one selling point that’s becoming increasingly important these days, and that is reliability.

With winters getting harsher, and incomes getting smaller, tough, reliable cars are becoming preferable to sportier models. How does your car stack up compared to the toughest cars ever built? The following cars have all scored highly on reliability tests, and have had a minimum of warranty issues over the last ten years:

Toyota

The Toyota RAV4 is a four wheel drive that’s fun to drive. If you’re looking for something sporty but hard-wearing then this is a great choice. It’s expensive to find one second hand, but worth the money.
If you can’t find the RAV4, then look for other Toyotas – several of their cars scored highly.

Honda

The Honda CR-V is a flexible, easy to drive, 4×4 that doesn’t eat up the entire road. It’s easier to find a low cost used Honda CR-V than its Toyota counterpart, and it’s a perfect suburban car. Honda is another brand that generally scored well.

Land Rover

The Land Rover Defender is in a class of its own. It’s a tough, iconic vehicle that most definitely means business. Land Rover service fees will add to the total cost of ownership, but if you want something that you could take on safari, then this is definitely the vehicle for you. The 400 and the 75 models also made it on the reliability list.

Volvo

The Volvo XC90 has definitely proved itself as a serious, heavyweight vehicle. It looks great inside and out, is smooth and powerful, and performs well on all kinds of services. As an added bonus, it’s not an expensive car to pick up second hand, and Volvo service costsare good value considering the kind of performance you’re getting for your money. The S/V40 also scored well.

Nissan

This may come as surprise, but the Nissan Micra does well on the reliability stakes. You couldn’t take it up mountains and across bumpy fields, but for day to day driving it’s a tough, roomy, and reliable car that’s easy to drive and cheap to own.

Nissan Micra

All of the vehicles listed above are relatively new ones, simply because they’re the ones that statistics are available for. That’s not to say that older vehicles are any more or less reliable. If you’re looking for a cheap, hardwearing car that will serve you and your family well for many journeys to come, then don’t dismiss an older model just because of its age.

There are many old models that have good reputations, and that are perfect for someone with a little know-how when it comes to maintaining a vehicle. However, if you’re the type that just wants to buy and drive, a newer vehicle that is still under warranty is a much better choice.

This article was written by Amy Fowler on behalf of Main Dealer Discount who offer access to discounted servicing for most makes and models of vehicle.

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Tuesday November 22nd, 2011 11:37 Audi A1 Sportback: Vor-Spring durch Technik

Audi A1 Sportrack

Audi are set to augment their renowned subcompact range in spring 2012 with the release of the hotly-anticipated A1 Sportback.
Hitting showrooms in February, the über-sleek supermini is an upgrade on the three-door A1, already a huge seller for the German firm.
The Sportback features a comparable design to its sister model, though it is larger, more spacious and comes with an extra set of doors. As a result of this latter modification, the Sportback has added 25kg to its kerb-weight, though the improved space for rear passengers is a welcome enhancement.

Wider and taller than its A1 counterpart, the Sportback is aimed at young, trendy drivers, though don’t expect to have to flash photo ID and enter the showroom in skinny jeans and a Tweed jacket in order to purchase one. After all, you don’t have to fit any specific demographic to appreciate the choice of four turbo engines, including the fuel-efficient 1.5ltr TDI, whose emission levels are rated at just 99g/km. For some engines, Audi are even supplying a 7-gear S-tronic force transmission, letting you switch swiftly between gears.

Fitted with a five-seat layout as standard, with the four-seat configuration available as a no-cost option, Audi’s versatile newcomer refrains from upgrading the A1’s 270-litre boot, and looks sure to be a rival to MINI’s Cooper SD hatch. After all, who can quibble with the Audi Connect’s internet capabilities?

The campaign trail is already underway for Audi, and their latest promotional video (attests to the model’s sharp, city-friendly dimensions and gorgeous 16-inch alloy wheels.

An altogether smarter, cooler option than the A1, the Sportback comes with remote central locking, air conditioning, electric front and rear windows and mirrors, and a 6.5-inch retractable display with six-speaker single CD Concert audio system.
If the Sportback itself doesn’t satisfy you, there’ll be a 2.0-litre diesel option joining the top range later in 2012, boasting 141bhp and 0.62mph in 8.5 seconds sprint time. Sport model additions, meanwhile, include sports suspension, sports seats and a Driver’s Information System.
What’s to love about this car?  An awful lot, but let’s focus on its evolutionary styling: its coupe-like roof line, its integration of sporty looks with commendable economy of space, and its low CO2 emissions. If you’re after a car that you can truly feel good about driving – both from the point of view of fuel-efficiency and style – the Sportback can’t be faulted.

With prices starting from £14,527 and topping out at £21,270 (for the 1.4 TFSI with S-line trim), you can get your hands on one in February. In an Olympic year, there’s surely no better time to get back into sports than with the new Audi A1 Sportback.

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In: Car news, New modelsNo Comments

Monday November 21st, 2011 18:49 Looking a Million Dollars on a Budget

Why Choose a Budget Car when you could be Cruising in a Luxury Motor?

When upgrading our car or even buying our first ever set of wheels, many people choose a brand new budget hatchback.
These small cars are convenient, cost-effective and reliable – but why blend quietly into the rush hour queues when for the same money you could be behind the wheel of a classic piece of luxury?

While owning a luxury car might not be for everyone; the rewards that come with doing so are well worth the extra little care and attention they require. It’s amazing to note that for the price of an entry level brand new car you could get a fully loaded BMW or Audi that although it is a few years old will boast the kind of specification the new car will never have.

You’ll stand out from the crowds

Few of us wish to blend in; we want to be noticed (for good things!). Yet you’ll never stand out in a conventional hatchback; you need something a little different for that.

You’ll be the envy of your street

Many luxury cars are thought of as nothing short of a work of art. Park this beauty on your front drive and watch your neighbours fawn over it in admiration and envy. Watch as they try and work out how you afforded that Mercedes or Jaguar.

You might meet new friends

Owning a classic or luxury car instantly makes you a member of a very exclusive club. As well as the opportunity to join internet forums and chat with like-minded enthusiasts, you might find yourself invited to regular events around the country, either to display your own car or simply to chat over the exquisite lines of a vintage Aston Martin.

It shouldn’t decrease in value

When we buy brand new cars, in most cases, we’re being ripped off. We are paying a premium for ‘new’ and the minute we sign on the dotted line and hit the road, its value will begin to drop.

A used luxury car on the other hand can boast a relatively stable value. Initial depreciation costs can be frightening but this levels off over time. So long as they are cared for properly they should sustain or increase in value.

You can hide the cars cost

If you don’t want people to ascertain how much you paid for your car, hide its age. The difference in value can vary by thousands in a few short years so if you want people to perceive your car as more valuable than it is; change the registration plates.

Dateless registration plates can ensure that very few people will be able to tell the year your car was built.
What’s more, dateless registration plates are usually quite valuable. They may cost a good few hundred pounds initially, but they should retain their value or if you’re lucky, gain more value.

It’s eco-friendly

Although older cars might not be quite so eco-friendly on the petrol front, the fact that you are recycling an old machine should more than make up for this.

_______
This article was written by Amy Fowler on behalf of The Plate Market who offer registration plates and number plates for sale.

, In: Green Cars, Tips and TricksNo Comments

Thursday November 17th, 2011 11:42 How to jump you car and ‘get some air’!

Here’s some tips on how to jump your car and get all four wheels off the ground. You’ll be gliding through the air in no time, if you manage to find the right jump for it!

Jumping red mini

1. Find the perfect road

First off don’t try this on the road. You’ll have to find a private road or track to try this on.

Milbrook Proving Ground is famous for having a large hill in its track which if hit right is perfect. If you’ve seen Casino Royale, then the bit where Bond’s Aston Martin rolls was filmed there. Chalmondy Pageant of Power’s hill run also has a nice bump (pictured above).

You’ll want a long stretch of long and wide road after the bump, so that if you lose control you’ll have plenty of room to come to a safe stop.

Green jumping car

2. Choose the right car

Go for the wrong car and you could cause some serious damage. Cars with a really low front splitter, like a Ferrari 458 or even a new Audi A1, could have their whole front bumpers ripped off if the angle of landing is too steep.

Ideally you want a car with suitable suspension, such as a rally car. That way the shock of landing will be absorbed fully.

3. Get your speed right

Hitting the bump at the right speed is imperative for doing a clean jump. Too slow and you won’t get it off the ground, too fast and you’ll go far too high and risk crashing.

White Bentley jumping

4. Don’t expect huge ‘air’

Without a properly built ramp or jump then it’s unlikely you’re going to be able to get more than a few inches off the ground. Don’t think it’ll be just like it is in the movies, it’s probably best for your car that it’s no higher anyway!

This was a guest post from James Hind, editor of carbuzz.co.uk, a revolutionary site that helps you choose which new car to buy.

In: GeneralNo Comments

Wednesday November 16th, 2011 23:11 BMA Calls for Smoking Ban to be Extended to Private Vehicles

The British Medical Association (BMA) has called on the UK government to extend the current ban on smoking in public places to private vehicles.

After an extensive period of research, the BMA believe that there is compelling evidence that shows just how exposed non-smokers are to the effects of second-hand smoke in vehicles. According to the BMA’s review, the restrictive and enclosed environment of motor vehicles leaves drivers and passengers exposed to 23 times more toxins than you would get in one of those smoky bars we used to frequently frequent.

Of those at risk, it is unsurprisingly children who are most at risk. This is because they absorb more pollutants than adults. A child’s immune system, in comparison to an adult’s, is also under developed, and this means that they lack the necessary defences to combat the effects of second-hand smoke.

The BMA’s Director of Professional Activities, Dr Vivienne Nathanson, said: “The UK made a huge step forward in the fight against tobacco by banning smoking in all enclosed public places but more can still be done.” She continued: “We are calling on UK governments to take the bold and courageous step of banning smoking in private vehicles. The evidence for extending the smoke-free legislation is compelling. The current UK Government prefers voluntary measures or ‘nudging’ to bring about public health change but this stance has been shown to fail time and time again.”

Unsurprisingly, since the BMA’s call there has been some push back from those opposed to extending the current parameters of the smoking ban.

Simon Clark, the director of the Forest, a smokers’ pro-choice lobbying group, said: “Legislation is a gross over-reaction. What next, a ban on smoking in the home?”

While there are undoubtedly health benefits from extending the ban to cover motor vehicles, you would have to think that it would be an incredibly tough ban to enforce. Should smoking in private vehicles be banned? What do you think?

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Tuesday November 15th, 2011 12:49 Car Insurance Tips for Geeks

Geeky girl

Auto insurance is something you must understand before you can effectively cover your insurance needs. Most people can satisfy their needs with a basic full coverage auto insurance policy that has liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage. Car rental, emergency road service and uninsured motorist are worth considering depending on individual circumstances.

  1. Liability Insurance covers the other vehicle and passengers if you have an at fault accident.
  2. Collision covers your vehicle and passengers if you have an at fault accident.
  3. Comprehensive covers your vehicle against most other types of incidents including damage caused by hit and run, weather related damage and theft.
  4. Car rental pays for you a rental car while yours is out of commission because of a claimable accident.
  5. Emergency road service pays for car repairs made on the roadside or for tow charges to the nearest garage or dealer.
  6. Uninsured motorist covers your vehicle and passenger if an uninsured driver causes an accident.

In most cases, the law requires liability insurance coverage and if a financial institution has an outstanding loan on the vehicle, they usually require full coverage. Insurance companies collect statistical data on a daily basis. These statistics are contributing factors to the premium you will pay. This information consists of data that tells the insurance company what areas of the country have the most claims and those that have the largest number of serious accidents.

Geek woman

Data shows the age group and sex that have a higher number of accidents and the areas with the highest number of weather related claims as well as much more collected data. You have no control over these premium-setting circumstances. There are circumstances directly related to the amount of premium you pay that you do have some control over. The following tips will help you get the best discounted insurance rates possible.

  1. Multi-vehicle discount- Insuring all your vehicles with the same company will discount the premium.
  2. Multi-insurance discount- Purchasing all your insurance needs from the same company nets a discount.
  3. Deductibles- The higher the deductibles are the cheaper auto insurance rates will be.
  4. Driving record- The best discount given is for a good driving record with no tickets or chargeable claims.
  5. Vehicle type- Some vehicles are more costly to insure than others because of theft, involvement in accidents, safety features and other factors.
  6. Credit history- Good credit indicates a responsible driver and results in better rates.
  7. Miles driven- The more miles you drive the higher insurance rates will be.
  8. Driver training- Any safety drivers course will result in a discount.
  9. Memberships- Ask about membership in organizations because many will provide a discount for you.

When you understand auto insurance terms and what they mean it is easier to calculate your needs. You can buy insurance direct, through an agent or a broker. Direct is cheaper, but you eliminate the expert that can help with questions and claims at any time. Most people find that having an agent or broker at their disposal is worth the cost. Go online to an insurance comparison site and find companies that fit your needs at an affordable price. Research any company you are interested in doing business with to make sure they are solvent and pay claims fairly and quickly.

In: General, Tips and TricksNo Comments

Monday November 14th, 2011 19:21 Keep your Tyres in Top Condition

As any car enthusiast will know, the hardest parts of a car to keep bright and shining are the wheels. This stands to reason as they are continually being coated with road grime and dust from the brakes.

Brake dust can corrode alloy wheels and is difficult to remove. It’s caused by the friction between brake pads and discs. This happens with all cars, whether they are conventional or hybrid cars, it’s not something that can be avoided. As you brake, the brake pad surface gradually wears away, producing the dust that lands on any nearby surface – your wheel rims being first in line.

As the different compounds used to make brake pads contain different amounts of metal content, different brake pads can create varying levels of brake dust. The dust is a mix of metal filings, carbon fibres and adhesive residues. The adhesive helps the dust stick firmly to every surface in comes in contact with, and as the adhesive is acidic, it will cause corrosion, too.

Erosion of the wheel rims doesn’t look pretty, and if left too long it will eventually begin to affect the structure of the wheel.

Fortunately there are ways to combat brake dust. Firstly, you can change your brake pads for low dust-generating brake pads. Choose some that have a high metal content or contain Kevlar-based compounds. Alternatively, or as well, you can fit dust shields. These sit between the rim and the bub, but some people don’t like the way they look. Finally, and perhaps most effectively, you can establish a good wheel care routine.

This isn’t as burdensome as it sounds – at a minimum you can wash the wheels once a week and apply sealant every quarter. This relatively simple procedure will prevent corrosion from taking place. Make sure that you don’t let the weeks slip to months during the winter. Even though it may seem a little pointless as the wheels get dirty again immediately, it’s a better policy than letting salt and brake dust build up.

Whether you’re driving one of the latest eco cars UK showrooms have to offer, or your car has been a faithful part of your household for the last decade or more, all cars will benefit from this kind of regular maintenance.

, In: Green Cars, Tips and TricksNo Comments

Sunday November 13th, 2011 13:57 Subaru Set to Unveil Advanced Tourer Concept Hybrid

Subaru has revealed that it will showcase the Advanced Tourer Concept car at the Tokyo Motor Show in Japan.

The Advanced Tourer Concept is a hybrid car, and is seen as a potential replacement for the Subaru Legacy.

Through the use of a single electric motor, the ATC will have a silent electric mode when travelling at low speeds. The lithium-ion batteries are recharged by a regenerative braking system which kicks in under deceleration.

The Tourer Concept is fitted with a horizontally opposed 1.6-litre turbo boxer engine mated to an electric motor. It may not be as big as the 2.0 and 2.5-litre boxer turbos of the past, but Subaru believe that the 1.6-litre turbo engine is both cleaner and more efficient. Although there are no official statistics for this yet, the word is that the Tourer Concept’s power output will match the 262bhp of the 2.5-litre boxer unit, while both emitting less CO2 and using less fuel at the same time.

Performance figures for the Tourer Concept should be an improvement on those of the current Legacy model, as the engine drives through a Lineartronic CVT transmission. This sends power to all four wheels.

The styling of the car uses Subaru’s “confidence in motion” design language. Visually, the Tourer Concept resembles a cross between a Jaguar XF and an Audi A6. The signature Subaru grille and angular headlights have been restyled to give the car a more aggressive appearance at the front.

The car’s interior features Art Deco style wood and polished aluminium surfaces with leather surfaces. In a fairly strange move, the steering wheel features a built-in digital monitor that displays maps, TV and internet. This is not exactly the safest feature in the world, but it is a concept car after all.

Perhaps with that digital monitor in mind, Subaru’s EyeSight crash avoidance system is incorporated into the design of the Tourer Concept. This system uses two mounted cameras above the rear-view mirror to monitor pedestrians and cyclists.

The Tokyo Motor Show – which runs from the 30th of November to the 11th of December – is a big event for Subaru, as the new BRZ sports car will also allow be on display.

, , , , , , , In: Car news, Green Cars, New modelsNo Comments