Mazda MX-5 Miata Wins World Car of the Year Award

The New York International Auto Show is underway at the Jacob K. Javits Center in the Big Apple. And all the talk is about the annual World Car Awards. This year, the big overall winner is the Mazda MX-5 Miata, which handily beat the Audi A4 and the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, as well as the Czech Skoda Superb, French Renault Kadjar and Japanese Subaru Levorg. The top nominees in each of five car categories that also included World Luxury Car, World Performance Car, World Green Car and World Car Design of the year were chosen by a jury of 73 international automotive journalists via secret ballot and announced at the Geneva International Motor Show earlier this month. The international accounting firm KPMG tabulated the jurors' ballots and winners were announced this week in New...

March 25, 2016
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US Supreme Court Kapows Batmobile Replica Maker’s Copyright Case

A Los Angeles-based maker of replicas of the iconic Batmobile got another sucker punch in a long, drawn-out legal case earlier this month – an update to a story E3 Spark Plugs first brought you last year. The ongoing battle is over whether Gotham Garage owner Mark Towle violated copyright when he built and sold replicas of the car as it appeared in the 1966 television show featuring Adam West as Batman and the 1989 movie starring Michael Keaton, racking up about $90,000 for each. DC Comics promptly filed suit and last year, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the company, finding that the Batmobile is entitled to copyright protection of the Batmobile. Earlier this month, the US Supreme Court agreed, letting stand the lower court ruling that said the Batmobile's...

March 25, 2016
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1937 Bugatti Draws $9.7 Million at Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance Auction

The recent Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance featured dozens of the world’s most coveted classic and antique rides. And one lucky auto buff took a piece of the show home – for a cool $9.7 million. Deemed by the Bonham’s auctioneer to be among the most valuable of its kind ever, the 1937 Bugatti 57SC Sports Tourer. Though it lags behind the 57SC Atlantic that sold for more than $30 million in 2010 and the 1931 Bugatti Royale that held the record for its $9.8 million sale by Christies in 1987 (that’s nearly $21 million in today’s money), the going price ain’t exactly pocket change. This particular ride was built by Belgium’s iconic Vanden Plas coachbuilders and is powered by a 200-horsepower supercharged 8-cylinder engine. Its wealthy...

March 25, 2016
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Kids in the Back Seat? May Want to Rethink It

Dad in the driver’s seat, mom up front, and Junior safely strapped in behind Dad. It’s the standard on-the-road setup for most families. But national safety officials are calling foul. Turns out the back seat can be a dangerous place for the kiddos. According to the Center for Auto Safety (CAS), between 1990 and 2014, there were nearly 900 instances of children sitting in the back seats of cars being crushed to death when a front seat holding a driver or much heavier passenger collapsed collapsed backward. And this doesn’t just happen in high-speed crashes. In fact, at just 30 miles per hour, most seatbacks are capable of crushing children sitting in rear seats. You’ve likely heard that the back seat is safest for kids. The National Highway Traffic Safety...

March 17, 2016
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Historic Motorsports Trophies Showcased at Amelia Island Concours

At any Concours d’Elegance, the focus is on the gorgeous antique and classic cars showcased. But at this week’s event on Florida’s Amelia Island, there’s another set of head-turners – 11 historic motorsports trophies along with, of course, the amazing cars that won them over a century of racing. Sure to impress are the Borg-Warner Trophy from the 1970 Indianapolis 500 and the rarely seen Maurice G. Bauer Trophy, emblematic of victory in the legendary Cannonball Run – dubbed “emblematic” because it was never awarded. But the centerpiece of the exhibit is the imposing, seven-foot-plus sterling silver Wheeler-Schebler Trophy created by the famed New York luxury jewelry and specialty designer Tiffany & Co. First awarded in 1909, The...

March 12, 2016
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2016 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance to Honor Hans-Joachim Stuck

The 2016 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance is officially underway and this year, top honors go to Formula One racer Hans-Joachim Stuck. Born in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a mountain resort town in Bavaria, southern Germany, Stuck is son of the legendary racer Hans Stuck, best known for his multiple Gran Prix successes during the 1930s – the Silver Arrows era. The younger Stuck learned to drive on the famed Nürburgring and ran his first race in 1969 at the Nordschleife. “Getting to the grid was extremely exciting,” Stuck said of that first race. “All of a sudden, my wishes to become a racer came true. I just wanted to start the race and give everybody hell!” Stuck won his first 24-hour race the next year at age 19 and many more victories...

March 12, 2016
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GM Issues a Recall over Airbags – And for Once, Takata Ain’t to Blame

Detroit’s General Motors just issued a recall and stop sale on nearly 1,800 2016 Chevrolet Colorado, Malibu and GMC Canyon vehicles. The issue involves a faulty airbag, but for once, beleaguered Japanese auto parts maker Takata is not to blame. The latest recall involves a missing part – namely a component required for the second-stage, high-output deployment of GM’s airbags. Turns out the part wasn’t loaded during the making of the airbag’s inflator in affected rides. Trouble is, this missing component means that the airbag won’t deploy as quickly as it should in a high-speed crash. This recall is fully unrelated to the Takata airbag issue which, thus far has resulted in multiple recalls affecting upward of 24 million rides made by 14 different...

March 12, 2016
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2016 Amelia Island Concours Celebrates 50 Years of Lamborghini Miura

If you’re a Lamborghini aficionado, no doubt you’re a fan of the Miura, widely considered by automotive historians as the instigator of the high performance, two-seater, mid-engine sports cars trend. When it first rolled off the line in 1966, it was the fastest production road car available, pumping out 350 hp from a V12 engine. And next month, it’ll be properly celebrated at the 2016 Amelia Island Concours D’Elegance. Produced between 1966 and 1973, the Miura is named after a family of fighting bulls - in traditional Lamborghini fashion. It entered the marketplace at a then-pricey $20,000. To put that figure in perspective, a new Miura would set you back $146,244.44 in today’s dollars. “The Miura rewrote the rules,” said Bill Warner,...

February 28, 2016
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Morgan Freeman Gets a New Voice Gig – As Your GPS Navigator

Road tripping to somewhere unfamiliar typically involves using a GPS to help you successfully navigate new territory and reach your destination on time and unfrazzled. More often than not, the voice doling out lefts and rights and exits and U-turns is that of an odd, computer-generated, monotone, mystery character who, in any other situation, would likely put you to sleep. That’s why the occasional celebrity or character voice offering is a must for frequent travelers. And who better to guide you through town than the dulcet-toned entertainer Morgan Freeman? After all, when it comes to drive-time directions the guy who played God just might be the next best thing to hearing from the Almighty himself. As a marketing tie-in for his upcoming film, London Has Fallen (sequel to...

February 28, 2016
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Full BBC Top Gear Team Announced

If you’ve been anxiously awaiting the reboot of BBC’s Top Gear after former oft-politically incorrect host Jeremy Clarkson’s much-publicized “fracas” with a producer got him canned and the remainder of the 2015 season cancelled, E3 Spark Plugs has good news for you. The show returns to TV sets across the pond, and here in the US for those with access to international programming, in May with an all-new team of hosts and drivers. In late January, producers announced that actor Matt LeBlanc of Friends fame (he played the sexy but not-too-bright Italian Joey Tribbiani on the NBC show that ran for 10 seasons) will join the cast alongside longtime British broadcast personality Chris Evans. Now, we’ve got news of the remainder of the new...

February 25, 2016
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