The Force is Strong with Fiat in LA Auto Show Debut

If you're anxiously awaiting next months' release of Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, Fiat's got a treat for you. The Italian luxury carmaker this week debuted a Stormtrooper-inspired concept car at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show. Dubbed the First Order Stormtrooper 2015 Fiat 500e, the ride was created by Garage Italia Customs. It looks a bit like a Mini Cooper disguised as a Stormtrooper helmet, complete with white and black lacquer paint job. Star Wars purists will be the first to point out that car was not modeled after the classic armor design of the Empire's Imperial foot soldier that first appeared in the iconic 1977 original. Instead, inspiration likely was taken from recent designs, most notably that of the armor donned by bounty hunter Bobba Fett's father,...

November 21, 2015
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Are Spare Tires Going the Way of the 8-Track Cassette Player?

Despite the plethora of optional features in today's new cars, there are a few items one simply takes for granted when plunking down the first payment for a chosen ride. You know, a steering wheel, spark plugs, a spare tire - the basics. But according to multiple major automakers, one of these items is no longer a given, and it's got us a bit stumped. A new study by the AAA shows that a full 36 percent of 2015 model year cars sold lacked a spare tire, instead gifting buyers with a tire inflator kits. That figure is a far cry from the five percent of 2006 model cars sold without the trusty spare in the trunk's wheel well, and it adds up to some 29 million rides on America's roadways lacking this crucial piece of safety equipment. So what gives? It turns out that automakers are skipping...

November 11, 2015
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America's Newest Auto Museum Planned for Jacksonville, FL

The nation's newest automobile museum is slated for Jacksonville, Florida - and we here at E3 Spark Plugs couldn't be more excited. That's because it's just a stone's throw from our Ponte Vedra Beach headquarters. Slated for opening in January, the Jacksonville Automotive Museum will be housed at the Regency Mall in an expansive space that formerly was a Montgomery Ward. It will feature more than 100 classic and modern cars and motorcycles, a 200-seat auditorium, an art gallery and four iRacing simulators lining a side wall in a simulated pit lane, Executive Director Bruce Marble told reporters recently. Planned events and programs include car shows, after-hours concerts and automotive restoration education courses. Locals recently spotted workers maneuvering a gorgeous...

November 7, 2015
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Original Batmobile Headed to Lego Land - Maybe

Multiple movies, TV shows, comic books and storybooks have been playfully immortalized in Lego sets, created for kids, but often hoarded by moms nostalgic dads and moms, too. Such will most certainly be the case if one online crusader gets his way. Posting on the Lego Ideas website, a guy (or gal, who knows?) who goes by "B. Rick" is pushing the toymaker to offer a set that includes features from the original 1966 Batman TV series, including the iconic Batmobile by late car customizer George Barris. The proposed Lego Batmobile car, which began life in the TV world as a 1955 Lincoln Futura before undergoing a massive transformation, includes many of the same features you'll remember coveting as a kid, including the atomic turbine engine, Bat radar, rocket launchers, Bat-chutes, the...

November 7, 2015
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Toyota Pumps $1 Billion into AI for Futuristic Rides and Robots

Today's rides increasingly are becoming infused with the kind of artificial intelligence that once was the stuff only of comic books and James Bond movies. Now, Toyota is ramping up for an even more futuristic automotive scene by pumping $1 billion into a research and development laboratory in California's Silicon Valley. Dubbed the Toyota Research Institute (TRI), the initiative will hire hundreds of engineers to staff a main facility in Palo Alto, Calif., near Stanford University, and a second located near MIT in Cambridge, Mass. Heading the TRI is former DARPA program manager Dr. Gill Pratt, an executive technical advisor at Toyota. As CEO, he'll rev up operations in January. At a recent press conference, Toyota president Akio Toyoda told members of the media that the company...

November 7, 2015
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Scary Car Pick for Halloween: Evil Dead's Oldsmobile Delta 88

It's perhaps the cheesiest yet most cult-tastic horror film ever made - 1981's The Evil Dead. Meant to be a truly frightening flick, it proved hilarious. Rather than get offended, director Sam Raimi came back with the seminal Evil Dead II, adding slapstick humor to the over-the-top horror (a nod to the Three Stooges) and solidifying the franchise as a horror/comedy hybrid cinematic favorite. Though the last of the trilogy, Evil Dead III, renamed Army of Darkness proved a box office flop, it remains a cult favorite. Among the stars of the trilogy is that 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale that main character Ash (Bruce Campbell) drives in all three films. It was Raimi's personal ride during his high school days. Boasting a quad-eyed death stare, the car brought Ash and his unwitting...

October 29, 2015
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Road Rage Detector Seat Could Hit Market by 2018

As lovers of all things automotive, nothing much bewilders, angers or saddens us here at E3 Spark Plugs quite like a case road rage. Recent research reveals that over a seven year period, 218 murders and 12,610 injuries were attributed to road rage. Some 66 percent of traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving and 37 percent of aggressive driving incidents involve a firearm. But a new invention dubbed the "road rage detector seat" just may help change that, developers say. Nanterre, France-based Faurecia, the world's 6th largest auto parts manufacturer, is developing what they call the Active Wellness seat. It's designed to monitor the emotions of drivers via built-in stress or fatigue sensors and to quickly offer up a customized response option when those emotions run...

October 29, 2015
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Three Show-Stopping Concept Cars at Tokyo Motor Show

The Tokyo Motor Show 2015 is officially underway and as always, it's a virtual wonderland of impractical, implausible, likely impossible yet absolutely desirable. Produced by the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, the 44th annual event is known for its unveiling of futuristic concept vehicles and this year's theme, "Your heart will race," is proving appropriate. Some 160 exhibitors from 11 countries are participating this year, bringing with them 76 world premieres and 68 Japan premieres all bound to wow some 900,000 visitors. But the show stoppers always are the crazy creative concept rides, most of which will never make the mass production line. Here are three of our favorites from this year's show. Nissan 2020 Vision Gran Turismo: The idea was borne of collaboration...

October 29, 2015
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Tesla Autopilot Nabbed for Speeding During Test Drive

So who's responsible for paying a traffic citation in a self-driving car? Well, you could blame it on the car itself, especially when it fails to adjust its speed when the limits change. But if you're stopped by a Florida Highway Patrolman in bumper-to-bumper I-95 traffic on your way to Miami, that excuse likely isn't going to wash. It's just one of the lessons learned by a Dragtimes.com personality during the recent test drive of the new Tesla Autopilot. He was filming a 16-minute demo of the Tesla Autopilot Model S Version 7 and headed southbound on I-95 in Florida when an FHP officer pulled him over and gave him a warning for going 75mph in a 60mph zone. Turns out there's a bit of a speed glitch in the car, which otherwise performed beautifully, whether speeding down the open road...

October 24, 2015
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Man Gets Stolen '68 Camaro Back After Three Decades

Back in 1981, Ohio's Ron Reolfi was a cash-strapped college student who plunked down a hard-earned $600 for a used Chevy Camaro. He and his father would spend the next year tinkering with the now-classic car, including replacing some 90 percent of the chrome. When their work was done, Reolfi got to enjoy his gleaming new ride for all of a few weeks before it got lifted from the parking lot of the grocery store where he worked. Reolfi reported the theft and searched the streets of Canton, Ohio for a few months before finally giving up, resigning himself to the fact that he'd likely never see his ride again. So, you can imagine his surprise when he got a call last October from a detective in Jackson Township asking about a '68 Camaro. "I told him it was stolen and he says they found the...

October 24, 2015
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