FAW debuts the Mazda6 based, Hongqi Benteng sedan in China

FAW (First Automobile Works) unveiled its new Benteng mid sized sedan at the Hangzhou Auto Show. The independently developed Benteng (translated “Galloping forward” in Chinese) is the first member of a new generation of Hongqi models. Based on the Mazda6, the Benteng is manufactured in China by the FAW-Mazda joint venture.

Benteng is equipped with a four-cylinder, 16-valve engine producing 163 Hp (120 kW) and a maximum torque of 204 Nm (20,8 kgm) coupled with five-speed manual gearbox. The Chinese sedan standard equipment includes ABS with electronic brake force distribution, traction control and dynamic stability control systems and 6 airbags. The Hongqi Benteng will go on sale in August, with prices in China ranging frome RMB 200,000 to 250,000 -or- USD 25.000 to 31.500.

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Antonov presents the world’s first two-speed supercharger drive system that enters series production

· First deliveries target high performance US tuner market ·
· Low cost device ideally suited to high volume car production ·
· Meets the need for engine downsizing which can deliver less CO2 emissions ·

The world’s first two-speed supercharger drive system to enter series production has been demonstrated this week to analysts, journalists and shareholders by Antonov; a research and development company, which licenses its automotive technology to vehicle and component manufacturers.

This first ever commercial application of Antonov technology derives from the company’s original concept for a compact, lightweight and low cost automatic transmission. A small two-speed version of the gearbox applied to a supercharger is not only novel but also highly relevant to the trend to downsize engines by carmakers needing to reduce CO2 emissions.

While the high volume potential for the device lies in its ability to enable engine downsizing on a large commercial scale, a supercharger with variable drive can also boost the performance of high performance vehicles. Hence the initial release of the device into the buoyant US tuner market, which exposes the first production units to a high performance environment and track racing conditions.

Weighing 3.9kg the supercharger drive system is not only lightweight but efficiently designed with a length of 149mm (5.9 inches) and diameter of 170mm (6.7 inches). At engine speeds below 4,200rpm the device provides a gear ratio of 1.36-to-1. Above this speed the drive is direct. The mechanism is entirely self-changing with no electronic, hydraulic or pneumatic control systems and the shift point, which can be set to any desired engine speed, is highly consistent. The drive can be retro-fitted to Rotrex C15, C30 and C38 superchargers.

Demonstrated in a Ford Mustang GT, the Antonov two-speed supercharger drive system increases power at the rear wheels by 58bhp and delivers 55lb.ft additional torque at engine speeds up to 4,200rpm. The 0-60mph time is reduced to 5 seconds compared with 5.2 seconds in the standard GT; while the standing quarter mile is reduced to 12.9 seconds (versus 13.9 seconds) and the quarter mile terminal speed increased to 112mph (versus 101mph).

The two speed variable drive was also demonstrated at the Zandvoort race circuit in a Chevrolet Lacetti as a representative example of its potential application to the mainstream car market.

Specifications: The Antonov Mechanical Module two speed drive system enables a centrifugal pump supercharger to be better matched to the engine. By driving the supercharger faster at low engine speeds, higher boost pressure can be obtained to provide additional low speed engine torque. As engine speed rises the unit automatically changes up to enable the supercharger to continue to operate effectively at higher engine speeds. The ability of the mechanism to operate as a passive device without the need for additional external control or hydraulics offers low cost, high efficiency and simplicity of application.

Essentially a small automatic gearbox, the compact Antonov drive system effectively extends the engine torque curve delivered by a centrifugal pump supercharger. This type of supercharger is in itself more compact, less complex and less expensive than a positive displacement supercharger, but in comparison cannot offer the same torque output at low engine revs. The addition of an Antonov drive system, however, boosts the engine torque available to exceed even the performance of a positive displacement blower. In addition, the torque curve can be tuned so that a smaller displacement engine matches exactly the performance of a much larger naturally aspirated unit.

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Official: New High-Performance Lotus Sportscar to be Built at Hethel in 2009

Lotus officially announced that there new mid engined sports which will occupy the sector vacated by the Lotus Esprit that finished production in 2004, will enter production in Spring 2009.

The Esprit substitute will be manufactured at the Group Lotus headquarters at Hethel in Norfolk U.K. Lotus improved the efficiencies and flexibilities within the manufacturing facility over the last year

In the next few months, Lotus will undergo a small re-organisation process within the manufacturing facility to further improve the efficiencies and flexibility at Hethel. This will lead to further improvements and gains leading up to the start of production.

Mike Kimberley, Chief Executive for Group Lotus plc says: "We are very pleased that Hethel has been confirmed by the Board of Directors as the manufacturing location for this vital new car. However the decision to choose Hethel has not been taken lightly and was influenced not only by our past achievements, but also by firm future commitments to improve the efficiencies and flexibilities within our manufacturing facility. We have a lot of work to do between now and the start of production and this will demand much commitment and hard work from us all at Lotus."

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Ever wonder how a BMW is made? Watch this Video

This is a really cool video showing the whole assembly process of a BMW 3 Series (E90). Watch «man» and «machine» work together in this 1 ½ minute video and learn how parts from various suppliers come together in the major assembly stages: the motor compartment, underbody and frame body. In the video you'll notice how many robots are used to do what humans once did.

Today, much of car manufacturing is automated which is why it’s so important to have skilled workers who can operate and program these robots. BMW’s video provides us an in-depth look at what is a really amazing process.

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Research reveals that five biggest polluters in UK produce more CO2 than all motorists combined

British newspaper Guardian had a very interesting article on CO2 pollution that reveals that just five companies in Britain produce more carbon dioxide together than all the motorists on UK roads combined.

Now, listen to this, in 2005, the top five companies (EON UK, RWE Npower, Drax, Corus, and EDF) produced more than 100m tonnes of carbon dioxide while on average, the 26m private cars on the UK roads produce 91m tonnes each year!

EON UK itself, an electricity generator that owns Powergen, was Britain's biggest corporate emitter of greenhouse gases as it produced 26,4m tonnes of CO2 which is slightly more than Croatia did…

According to the figures that EU released yesterday, British companies produced together more than 242m tonnes of carbon dioxide while they had permits to emit only 209m tonnes. Germany’s permit allowed there companies to produce 495m tonnes of carbon dioxide, but they emitted only 474m. France produced 131m tonnes, but had permits for 151m.

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IAS, a consortium made up from four different companies (Autostudi, Landra Model, Blue Engineering, & Prototyping and SCS Euro Acoustic) presented the philosophy behind there innovative compact SUV, «miniSUV» which was presented earlier this year at the Geneva Motor Show.

Although there are no plans to put the miniSUV into production, it serves as a showcase study for the IAS consortium. The concept car, which was designed for urban and suburban mobility, is characterized for its simplicity. It adopts a four-wheel drive system and 320mm ground clearance which promise to make it suitable for use on all terrains.

Measuring 3.834mm in length, 1.704mm in height and 1.665mm in width, the miniSUV concept seems like a very interesting idea for the like of the Fiat Group. It could base a production model that would let them compete in the quite popular, in Europe, compact SUV category which is dominated now by Japanese models such as the Daihatsu Terios & Suzuki Jimny.

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Dodge Caliber Pig and Bear add: “It’s Anything But Cute”

Found this "black humor" video of the 2007 Dodge Caliber, which continues the “It’s Anything But Cute” philosophy of the other commercials of the car. This specific add tells us the heartwarming tale of two gentle creatures, a pig and a bear and their encounter with the “menacing” Dodge Caliber.

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Seat Leon FR To Make World Debut At Madrid Motor Show

SEAT is going to pull the covers off its hottest new Leon so far at next week’s Madrid Motor Show (25th May), with the world debut of the new Leon FR. This 5door coupe - hatch (notice the Alfa Romeo influenced hidden rear door handles) will be offered with two engines, a 200 Hp petrol and 170 Hp diesel with styling modifications to match.

DESIGN: The arrival of the new FR sees the Leon step up another gear in the visual department. In particular, the front air intake design with honeycomb grille is very distinct from that found on other Leons, taking inspiration from the Leon Touring Cars of both the BTCC and WTCC. At the rear, the effect is equally dramatic, with a black mock-diffuser also inspired by the race-track. Silver-painted door mirrors and 17-inch alloy wheels (with 18-inch versions available as an option) complete the look.

The distinctive red and black ‘FR’ badge is applied to not only the rear of the car, but also extensively throughout the sporty interior. It appears on the specially designed leather-covered steering wheel, silver gearknob, within the rev counter (which, like the other dials, features a white background) and is embroidered on to the backrests of the sports seats.

ENGINES: Power is provided from a choice of two engines. Making its debut for the first time in a SEAT is VW Golf GTI’s turbocharged 2.0-litre TFSI petrol unit, developing 200 Hp and 280 Nm (207 lb ft) of torque from 1,800 to 5,000 rpm. The sprint from rest to 62 mph (0-100 km/h) takes 7,3 seconds while top speed is 142 mph (228 km/h)

With 170 Hp and a 350 Nm (258 lb ft) of torque from its advanced 16-valve, unit-injector engine, the diesel powered Leon TDI FR offers zesty performance with low fuel consumption of 47.1 mpg (provisional figure) on the combined cycle. Top speed is 133 mph (213 km/h), with 0 to 62 mph (0-100 km/h) taking 8, 2 seconds.

The Leon FR will be available in Europe in June. It should be noted that Seat is going to unveil an even more powerful version of the Leon at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. The Leon Cupra will be offered with the same 2.0 TFSI as the FR, but with more power –about 240 HP.

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2007 Opel Corsa – Vauxhall Corsa Official Press Release

Official Press Release: New Opel Corsa: “It’s OK To Be Daring”

Fresh design and innovative technology for a lot of driving fun

With its self-confident looks and friendly, distinctive face, the new Opel Corsa is ready for its first public appearance. The British International Motor Show (July 18 – 30) in London, Europe’s trend-setting metropolis, will be the stage for the Corsa’s world premiere. Unmistakable characteristics of the new Corsa include unique design with strong, sporty lines, a newly-developed chassis for agile and safe cornering, new high-tech features in this class, as well as a new high-quality interior offering plenty of space, comfort, and opportunities for individualization. The fourth generation of Opel’s popular model, which has sold more than 9.4 million units alone in Europe since 1982, will be available at dealerships in October 2006.

Opinions on the new Corsa: Carl-Peter Forster, President, General Motors Europe: “Precision, substance, dynamics. I love cars that have substance, and the Corsa certainly does. This makes it a confident Opel brand ambassador, whose quality is not just skin deep. And thanks to the new agile chassis it’s as sporty to drive as it is to look at.”

Hans Demant, Opel Managing Director: “My motto is: small car, great fun. And that’s what we all had, as we developed the new Corsa on som

e of the world’s most demanding test tracks. Excellent driving dynamics, perfect handling and powerful brakes – these are all characteristics I expect from an Opel today“

Niels Loeb, Chief Designer, Corsa Studio: “It’s OK to be daring, especially when it’s our striking new coupé-like three-door Corsa. And look at its face – bright eyes with a cheeky grin. That’s just what we wanted the design to be - unique both inside and out, giving the owner a lasting sense of feel-good factor. It just cries out to be driven.”

Alain Visser, Executive Director, European Opel Marketing: “Exciting, unconventional, creative, and dynamic. That is London in a nutshell, and the Corsa too. That’s why I think London is the perfect place to hold the new Corsa’s world premiere, with its great blend of fun and energy, which we call ‘Funergy’.”

Characteristics of new Corsa

Design: Slimline stretched silhouette, coupé-like roofline, athletic contours, muscular rear shoulders – the three-door Corsa transforms its compact dimensions (length/width/height: 3.99/1.71/1.49 meters), long wheelbase (2511 mm), and wide track (1473/1458 mm) into a distinctively sporty proportion

Interior: More spacious passenger cabin with a commanding driving position and embracing ambience; wide range of interior motives in corresponding colors, materials and décor including piano lacquer finished surfaces; glowing translucent control knobs and switches (subject to equipment level); clever storage ideas

Chassis: Completely newly-developed; top driving dynamics and agility; optional new Electronic Stability Program (ESP) with Enhanced Understeering Control (EUC), braking at all four wheels if required; ABS with Cornering Brake Control (CBC) as standard; brake assist; first in class to have variable progressive sports power steering; lowered sports chassis and 17-inch wheels optional

Engines: Three gasoline and two common-rail turbo-diesel engines with 1.0 to 1.4-liter displacement, and output from 60 to 90 hp; four-valve technology; new 125 hp 1.7 CDTI with standard DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter) available shortly; gasoline engines all feature Opel’s fuel-saving TWINPORT technology; DPF - a rare feature in the small displacement class - also available for 1.3-liter diesel engines

High-tech: Technology package with new features in this class, such as Halogen Adaptive Forward Lighting, innovative infotainment program, navigation systems with CD or DVD-ROM, radio/CD-player with MP3, mobile telephone with voice control and Bluetooth connection, includes networking for future mobile phone generations, Run Flat Tires, etc.

Individualization: Many customizing-options, from driver’s preferences to electronically-controlled personal settings, such as automatically selectable presets for the electronic climate control or infotainment systems, electrically heated steering wheel, panorama sun roof.



1.49 metres


3.99 metres


1.71 metres



Track (front/rear)


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Caterham get Ford "Sigma" engines for 2007

Caterham Cars has confirmed that the Seven sportscar will be powered by Ford Sigma engines from the end of 2006. The adoption of a new engine from a global manufacturer coincides with the model’s 50th anniversary next year.

Colin Chapman’s very first Seven back in 1957 drew its power from a Ford sidevalve engine, and whilst the 21st Century version of the British two-seater may be going back to its roots in name, that is certainly not the case in terms of performance.

The 1.6-litre British-built Sigma unit will be tuned for Caterham by established powertrain supplier, Power Torque Engineering, and will be the worthy successor to the K-series engine that has served Caterham so well for the past fifteen years.

The decision to move across to the lightweight and reliable Ford Sigma, combined with a new precision laser-cut and robot-welded chassis, signals a continued commitment by Caterham to evolve the legendary Seven using the very latest in technology and engineering quality.

UK customers will benefit from three power outputs – a 160bhp, 140bhp and a new entry-level unit (bhp to be confirmed in due course). Importantly, Caterham has also invested in the development of an 115bhp EU IV compliant unit for the expanding overseas markets.

The three power choices available to the home market will compliment the existing Cosworth tuned 2.3-litre unit (260bhp and a bespoke EU IV 200bhp) in the CSR, and the eagerly anticipated 2.0-litre 210bhp plant that is set to power the new Superlight R400 this summer.

"The infrastructure and support afforded to a globally recognised engine like the Ford Sigma allows us to plan for the future and maintain our proud tradition of protecting and developing the Seven for years to come," says Ansar Ali, Caterham’s Managing Director.

"The engine itself has already proved to be a huge success by reinvigorating the single-seater feeder race series, Formula Ford," added Ali.

Replacing the K-Series engine with something equally light and compact was not an easy task. "The Ford Sigma was selected on technical merit after an exhaustive study of over 80 engines from 19 different manufacturers. It was far and away the most suitable and worthy choice," explains Caterham’s Technical Director, Jez Coates

The arrival of a new EU IV compliant entry level unit will underpin the healthy level of sales in overseas markets which, in over forty countries worldwide, now account for over 50 percent of all production. The 1.6-litre EU IV Ford Sigma, assembled at Ford’s Bridgend engine plant in South Wales, will join the similarly compliant 200bhp 2.3-litre Cosworth that currently powers the CSR model.

Production of the entry-level engine will commence in the last quarter of 2006, with deliveries of the EU IV 115bhp powered unit expected at the end of January 2007.

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Jeep stars in newest Tomb Raider Legend game

Lara Croft gets a new set of wheels in her newest Tomb Raider adventure, dubbed “Legend”. While playing the game you get a chance to drive Jeep’s new Commander and Rubicon models in numerous scenes

For more information and to download the game demo trailer, follow this link: http://www.jeep.com/games/tombraider.html


· Lara Croft evolved! - The dual-pistol wielding heroine is presented like never before with new graphic and animation sets, presenting Lara in the finest fidelity to date.

· Return to the tombs! - Discover and explore living breathing, lost ancient realms that hold clues to the secrets of Lara's past. Physics, Water and Fire systems bring the perilous environments of Lara's world alive, and challenge the player to improvise solutions to obstacles.

· Lara and her foes employ realistically modeled Jeep vehicles in numerous action sequences and cinematics that take place in regions all over the globe. Jeep vehicles and Lara Croft go hand in hand. The rugged determination and go-anywhere-handle-anything qualities shared by both Jeep vehicles and Lara Croft make an unforgettable partnership between the two.

· The Intuitive and Fluid Control System movement allows you to keep Lara in continuous motion; seamlessly handle any obstacle and interact dynamically with any surface.

· Experience the new legend of the Tomb Raider series! - the future of the adrenaline-fueled adventure meets the promise of the next generation gaming systems.

· Utilize strength and intelligence on your quest! - use the grappling hook, an arsenal of new weapons, communications devices, and other tools to achieve your goals.

· Travel the globe to the world's most exotic locales! - explore ancient tombs, treacherous jungles, snowy mountain ranges, and much more...

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Piaggio MP3 -Three wheeler-scooter with two front wheels

With gas prices hiking up every day, a motorcycle seems like a very attractive idea for our city movements. But what if you don’t want’ to –or- you can’t drive on two wheels? Well, then how about three wheels?

Maybe VW’s GX-3 won’t make it to production, but that doesn’t mean we not going to see another three-wheeler vehicle as Piaggio, worldwide known for the Vespa that went in production in 1946, has unveiled an innovative scooter, that draws very close to that concept. Named “PIAGGIO MP3”, the three-wheeler scooter (with two front wheels), want’s to re-define the very concept of ride stability providing an unprecedented riding experience.

Press Release: Cycle parts
The PIAGGIO MP3 frame in high-tensile steel tubes is the result of the best CAD technology and computerized FEM (Finite Element Method) analysis. Elements such as frame strength and weight were precisely defined and tested from the initial phases of the project, with the suitability of each solution checked at every stage.

The PIAGGIO MP3 uses three 12" wheels with large tyres - 120/70 front, 130/70 rear. Together with the revolutionary front suspension, the wheels provide a tilt angle of up to 40° while riding like any normal two wheeler and simultaneously ensuring better road grip on any surface, especially slippery tracks. The parallelogram suspension also ensures increased stability at high speeds.

At the rear, the cycle parts feature a singlearm suspension with two dual effect hydraulic shock absorbers, a helicoidal spring and four-position preload.

Besides its exceptional stability, the PIAGGIO MP3 also provides brilliant braking thanks to three powerful linked brakes, 240 mm in diameter, and the parallelogram suspension. The result is record deceleration (about 8 m per second) with braking space reduced by over 20 per cent on normal road surfaces and as much as 24 per cent on slippery roads compared to a traditional two-wheel scooter.

The PIAGGIO MP3 has innovative, eye-catching styling while maintaining a clear resemblance to the Piaggio GT (Gran Turismo) range. The new two-wheel front assembly doesn't detract in the least from the PIAGGIO MP3's sleek styling. Its size and proportions are those of a normal compact GT scooter, with an overall front-end width of only 420 mm. As a result, the Piaggio MP3 can be type-approved as a standard two wheeled motorcycle.

The rear loading section has been designed to offer maximum comfort and storage capacity: a boot lid painted the same colour as the bodywork provides access to the under seat storage. A substantial 65-litre storage capacity and dual access to the storage area, from the boot lid as well as by flipping up the seat, make the PIAGGIO MP3extremely practical. The storage area comfortably holds two full-face helmets, a small bag and objects up to a metre in length. The under seat storage also has a courtesy light and a seat cover for use when parking in rainy weather. A handy remote control button on the ignition key opens the seat lock and the rear boot lid.

Comfortable, agile, fun and easy to park: with the PIAGGIO MP3, parking hassles are a thing of the past. Because of its innovative three-wheel concept, the PIAGGIO MP3 is equipped with a revolutionary electro-hydraulic front suspension locking system that keeps the vehicle upright without using the usual central stand (which is, however, also available). The rider simply presses a switch on the handlebar to activate the system that stops the tilt mechanism and park without using the stand. An electro-actuator activates a central clamp on the tilt mechanism and generates hydraulic pressure to lock the suspension dampers.

Once the rider has pressed the handlebar switch, the control unit only activates the electro-actuator if the vehicle is travelling at a speed in the range of 23 kph to 10 kph. The exact speed at which this takes place depends on the level of deceleration: the greater the deceleration, the higher the speed at which the tilt mechanism locks. Additionally, the mechanism will not lock unless the butterfly valve is closed and the engine is running at below 3000 rpm.

To ensure rider safety, the tilt mechanism not only shuts off by pressing the handlebar switch, but is also automatically deactivated if vehicle speed exceeds 15 kph, if the butterfly valve is not fully closed or if engine rpm is higher than 3000.

A lever on the inside of the front shield actions the parking brake, making it safe to park without using the stand even on sloping ground and making it possible to park the two front wheels where there is a height difference of up to 20 cm.

The PIAGGIO MP3 dashboard provides comprehensive, at-a-glance trip information. It includes a speedometer, fuel gauge, cooling liquid temperature indicator, clock and partial and total mileage. Other features are a fuel reserve indicator, oil pressure, turn signals, low and high beam, seat or boot lid open warning and an Immobilizer LED. The rider can open the fuel cap and rear boot lid with a single twist of the key in the ignition unit.

The Quasar 125 i.e. & 250 i.e. are Piaggio’s new 4-stroke, 4-valve, liquid-cooled engines that meet Euro 3 standards. The PIAGGIO MP3has an exceptional distance range thanks to low fuel consumption by both engines (about 25 km/l) and a sizeable 12-litre fuel tank.

Read more http://www.mp3.piaggio.com/

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Opel Corsa – Vauxhall Corsa 2007

THESE are the first official pictures of the 2007 Opel – Vauxhall Corsa that holds a strong resemblance to the Astra while the interior seems to follow that of the Antara with the circular air evnts.

As with the Astra, the rear bodywork of both versions vary significantly, in a bid to make them appeal to different types of customer. The five-door Corsa will have a longer wheelbase, which will also underpin the next-generation Meriva, scheduled to arrive in 2009. Spin-offs from the three door platform will include the eventual replacement for the coupe-cabrio Tigra TwinTop, although this is not expected to happen before 2010.

The new Corsa is set to debut at this year’s London Motor Show in July, and will hit the European market in October. It will share many of its mechanical components with the new Fiat Grande Punto, which is built on the same platform. Other shared parts are likely to include the suspension systems, steering and braking components, as well as the much lauded 1.3-litre Multijet diesel engine, which already appears in the current generations of both cars.

Opel’s petrol units will differ from Fiat's, though, and will start with an updated version of the 1.0-litre three cylinder engine fitted to today's entry level Corsa’s. Other options will include the 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre Twinport units, along with an updated version of the 1.7 CDTI diesel from the Astra.

The Corsa range will also include an OPC version (Vauxhall VXR) with Opel’s latest 1.6 Turbo engine that pumps out 180 hp –first seen on the Meriva OPC. All motors will be compliant with Euro IV emissions rules.

Opel also hopes to make the Corsa one of the safest superminis in its class, with airbags all-round, electronic brake­force distribution and other driver aids. These improvements will come at a cost, however, as the newcomer is expected to be slightly more expensive than the model it replaces.

Read the official Press Release: http://autoofcars2011.blogspot.com/2006/05/2007-opel-corsa-vauxhall-corsa.html

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When a Lamborghini Countach retires on… a wall

Now, what can you say about a man who prefers to hang –literally- a classic 1974 Lamborghini Countach on his house wall? Well, Richard Moriarty, an heir to the family that developed South Coast Plaza, bolted his Countach to the wall of his Newport Beach estate in California early on Friday - reports Roy Rivenburg in the LA Times.

"I have a Lamborghini and I've got a big wall," stated Moriarty who bought the Lambo 10 years ago, paying a collector $ 60,000. But the car –according to Moriarty, turned into a nightmare for him as the gas tank had rust damage, and the engine kept stalling. "I got tired of having it towed," he said. On Friday, the black Countach, licensed plate "FAASST", was officially retired, with Moriarty hiring a 70-ton crane to lower the beautifull Italian sports car through a skylight in his living room. Earlier, the once ferocious V12 engine was removed and transformed into a…coffee table (photos Rik Loomis/LAT)

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Land Rover upgrading the Defender for 2007

Customer demand for the Defender will see Land Rover release details of a new model for 2007 later this year, including a series of significant upgrades to enhance the ownership experience and meet forthcoming legislation. It starts going on sale next spring and will help ensure that the Defender remains in production until at least 2010.

The extension to the long life of Defender, which has been in production in various models since 1948, will preserve more than 750 jobs at the Solihull factory where it is produced alongside the Range Rover, Range Rover Sport and Discovery 3. Work is also underway to see if there are opportunities to extend Defender's life beyond 2010.

Annual production of Defender has remained consistent at around 25,000 units in recent years, with much of the demand coming from large contract orders. For example, the Italian energy distribution company, Ente Nazionale Elettricita, recently placed an order for over 900 Defenders.

"With sales growth forecast in 2006, Defender remains a significant contributor to the business as well as an enduring symbol of Land Rover's 4x4 heritage," said Phil Popham, Land Rover's Managing Director. "Its simple concept hasn't changed fundamentally over the years, but it remains as relevant as ever.

Defender continues to play a vital role for emergency services, aid workers and farmers around the world. As we grow Land Rover we're not forgetting our core values and our traditional customers."

With a rugged ladder-frame box-section chassis and aluminium bodywork, the Defender is incredibly tough. Its practical advantages include its unmatched combination of off-road supremacy, carrying capacity and towing capability.

The Defender name was introduced in 1990 but the model is a direct descendant of the original Land Rover introduced in 1948. Production of Defender and its predecessors has passed 1.8 million and it is estimated that over two thirds of them are still in use.

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