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City of Angels Most Devilish for Rush Hour Drivers

City of Angels Most Devilish for Rush Hour Drivers

Think your city is the nation’s worst for traffic? Well, if you happen to live in Los Angeles, California, you’re right, E3 Spark Plugs just learned. The most recent TomTom Traffic Index, the annual report detailing the cities around the world with the most traffic congestion, the City of Angels is downright devilish for rush hour drivers. In fact, West Coast cities dominated the top 10 list of most congested locales, but bustling metro areas in the South are close behind. Researchers found that LA had an overall congestion level of 41 percent in 2015, a two-percent boost from 2014. Congestion is measured by extra time travelers spend on both highways and non-highways vs. free-flowing conditions any time of the day, but particularly during the morning and afternoon rushes between home and work. During rush hour in LA, a commute that typically takes half an hour in light traffic takes 81 percent longer in the morning and 60 percent longer in the evening. Overall, gridlocked t...

April 8, 2016


Texas Teenager 10th US Victim of Fatally-Flawed Takata Airbag

Texas Teenager 10th US Victim of Fatally-Flawed Takata Airbag

At face value, it was a minor fender-bender that caused minimal damage to the two vehicles involved. Yet, a 17-year-old girl, who was wearing her seatbelt and wasn’t speeding, is dead. On March 31, Huma Hanif, a high school senior with plans to study nursing after graduating in just a few months, rear-ended an SUV in her 2002 Honda. The slight impact proved just enough to cause the airbag to deploy and rupture, sending shrapnel flying through the car. One piece hit Hanif in the neck, severing her carotid artery. As Fort Bend County Sheriff's Deputy Danny Beckwith told a reporter with Reuters, “Everybody should have walked away from this.” As of the time of this writing, 14 automakers have recalled upward of 24 million vehicles involving some 28 million Takata air bag inflators. Testing has shown that these inflators can cause airbags to deploy and rupture, sending metal shrapnel flying throughout an automobile’s passenger compartments. Despite massive efforts on the part...

April 8, 2016


Formula 1 Car vs. Superbike – Which one Wins?

Formula 1 Car vs. Superbike – Which one Wins?

It’s a foregone fact – Formula 1 race cars are mind-bendingly fast. But just how fast? We typically see them racing against other F1 cars, so there’s not much of an apples-to-oranges comparison to show just what kind of freakish speed these machines are capable of – until now. You might think that because of the sheer weight differences and the decidedly higher level of nimbleness, a badass motorcycle just might have an advantage over an F1 car. You’d be wrong. Miserably wrong. And North One television just proved it by pitting racers Guy Martin and David Coulthard against each other on the track – Martin on a Tyco BMW Superbike and Coulthard in a 2012 Red Bull RB8. To make things interesting, Coulthard’s win depended upon his racing four laps faster than Martin completed three. Which do you think dominated, E3 Spark Plugs fans? Take a look…

March 31, 2016


E3 Spark Plugs-Sponsored Will Kimmel Throws Appreciation Party for Fans

E3 Spark Plugs-Sponsored Will Kimmel Throws Appreciation Party for Fans

Hey, racing fanatics – If you’re a fan of stock car driver Will Kimmel and his team, mark your calendars. Kimmel Racing is throwing a Fan Appreciation Party Friday, April 22, 6-9pm at the teams headquarter, 201 E. Lewis & Clark Parkway in Clarksville, Indiana. The 26-year old racing phenom comes from a racing family. He’s the son of Bill Kimmel, Jr. and nephew of Frank Kimmel and has earned an impressive 13 track championships and over 90 career wins of his own. In 2006, Will Kimmel moved into the ultra competitive Super Late Model division at Salem Speedway where he became the first rookie driver to ever win a feature event in his first Super Late Model start and went on to land a Rookie of the Year designation in the Super Late Model Division. At just 19, he was the youngest driver to ever win the Salem Speedway Super Late Model. Today, he competes in the ARCA Racing Series for his family’s racing company and in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, driving the No. 32 Ford Fu...

March 31, 2016


Sgt. Pepper and his Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Ride Turn Heads at New York Auto Show

Sgt. Pepper and his Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Ride Turn Heads at New York Auto Show

Most concept cars unveiled at major auto shows are decidedly futuristic. But one currently on exhibit at the New York Auto Show is an impressive mix of the future as envisioned in the past and a bit of the Hollywood magic of your youth. Retired New York City police officer Tony Garofalo, who goes by the name of Sgt. Pepper, has put his spare time and retirement savings to good use, creating a street-legal replica of that iconic flying car from the 1968 musical Chitty Chitty Bank Bang. Seriously, E3 Spark Plugs fans of a certain age, you KNOW you wanted that ride. It took Garofalo five years and $100,000 of his hard earned cash to turn a 1914 Overland Coupe with a 1928 Ford engine and a few handcrafted elements like a wooden passenger compartment and copper-plated exhaust headers into the dream car of his youth. "They say everyone has their own Mount Everest, something they want to accomplish in their life," Garofalo told the New York Times in a recent article. "This is my Moun...

March 31, 2016


Fun Facts About Speeding Tickets

Fun Facts About Speeding Tickets

Let’s face it – there’s nothing fun about getting hit with a speeding ticket. But there are a few fascinating and arguably fun facts about these ubiquitous citations. Unless, of course, you live in and drive in Germany. Check out these scintillating stats … Each day in America police officers hand out 34 million speeding tickets. That’s 93,000 a day, 3,875 per hour, 65 per minute. Speeding tickets can be a serious revenue driver for cities, states and countries. Here in the US, they generate upward of $5.1 billion. And don’t think the government bean counters don’t notice. When a city’s economic growth tanks 10 percent, the number of speeding tickets doled out jumps an average 6.4 percent. Ergo… Speed traps! You’ve heard that everything is bigger in Texas, right? Yep. Research shows that 40 speed traps in the Lone Star state racked up more than $178.4 million between 2000 and 2008 – never mind that the combined population of those 40 locations w...

March 31, 2016


10 Rides Most – and Least – Likely to Land You a Ticket

10 Rides Most – and Least – Likely to Land You a Ticket

Each year in America, coppers dole out some 34 million speeding tickets nationwide. That’s 93,000 per day, 3,875 per hour, 65 per minute. If the thought of those blue lights flashing in your rearview mirror are enough to give you an instant headache, we here at E3 Spark Plugs have a tip for you – Don’t speed. But also keep in mind that your choice of rides may actually reflect the likelihood of a police officer flipping on that siren or letting you slide.   According to a recent study by Insurance.com, if you drive a Lexus ES 300, chances are you’ve got a citation or two in your very near future. And if there’s a Buick Encore in your driveway, you might drive like Grandma, but your record’s probably squeaky clean. To reach these conclusions, researchers poured through insurance claim and traffic violation data on 323,000 drivers driving 331 different models between Jan. 1 2014 and Feb. 1, 2016. Here’s what they found… The 10 rides that got the most tickets: ...

March 31, 2016


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

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 York. Other category winners are: 2016 World Luxury Car: The BMW 7 Series, beating out the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90. 2016 World Performance Car: The Audi R8 triumphed over the Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe and ...

March 25, 2016


US Supreme Court Kapows Batmobile Replica Maker’s Copyright Case

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 bat-like appearance and high-tech gadgets make it a character that can't be duplicated without DC Comics’ permission. Towle’s attorneys told the Supreme court that the appellate decision "impermissibly e...

March 25, 2016


1937 Bugatti Draws $9.7 Million at Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance Auction

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 original owners raced in the United States and Europe prior to World War II. Though it sports a light blue paint job and black interior today, it originally was finished in gray with dark red accents. And as an added historic bonus, i...

March 25, 2016


Kids in the Back Seat? May Want to Rethink It

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 Administration has been saying it since 1991, and it’s true – to some extent. Rear-seat placement does help to protect kids from the crushing blow of front-seat airbags. But much of their safety depends on who is se...

March 17, 2016


Historic Motorsports Trophies Showcased at Amelia Island Concours

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 Speedway’s opening year, the trophy was last presented to Harry Hartz, owner of the car leading at the 400-mile mark of the 1932 Indy 500. Hartz donated it to The Indianapolis Speedway Museum. "To have these trophies and the cars that ...

March 12, 2016


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

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 followed, including the Spa 24 Hours endurance race in Belgium in 1972, two 24 Hours of Le Mans races, and the DTM Championship in 1990. He participated in 81 Grands Prix, achieving two podiums and scoring 29 championship points. He a...

March 12, 2016


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

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 carmakers. GM’s airbags come from a different manufacturer.  If your ride is listed in the recall, you’ll likely get a recall notice in the mail. Don’t blow it off. Head to your GM dealer and as for a free-of-charge r...

March 11, 2016


2016 Amelia Island Concours Celebrates 50 Years of Lamborghini Miura

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, founder and chairman of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. “The commendatore [Enzo Ferrari] had a talent for making enemies. He angered Henry Ford and Ferruccio Lamborghini; Ford took Le Mans from him permanently in 1966 and...

February 28, 2016


Morgan Freeman Gets a New Voice Gig – As Your GPS Navigator

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 Olympus Has Fallen), Morgan is lending his famous voice to Google’s free navigation app, Waze. And for this particular gig, he delivers directions in character – as Vice President Allan Trumbull addressi...

February 28, 2016


Full BBC Top Gear Team Announced

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 season’s cast. They are: Eddie Jordan: Irish former racing driver, team owner and entrepreneur inducted into the Irish Motorsport Hall of Fame in 2012 and more recently awarded an honorary OBE (formally known a Most Excellent Order of...

February 25, 2016


Your Wimpy ATV’s Got NOTHIN’ On this Badass Russian Ride

Your Wimpy ATV’s Got NOTHIN’ On this Badass Russian Ride

We here at E3 Spark Plugs have no idea who Alexei Gargashyan. But we’re pretty sure we’d like to spend a day with him conquering the globe in his badass wheeled creation. Dubbed the SHERP, this just might be the first all-terrain vehicle that truly lives up to the description. On land, it tops out at 28 miles per hour. So, it while it might not get you to work on time and certainly won’t win you any races, the SHERP will get you literally anywhere else you want to go on a day off and lend some serious bragging rights. Its enormous wheels can handle anything the earth throws at it, including deep snow and ice. And, its tire treads are designed to propel it trough water, too. This mini truck/tank can easily plow over rocks, fallen trees and concrete barriers and has easily traversed areas where humans rarely venture, including the most distant corners of Tundra, Siberian Taiga, mountain of Kola Peninsula and swamps of the Yugra.  Of course, it’ll cost you. The price ...

February 25, 2016


Five Rides Least Likely to Cost You Big at the Repair Shop

Five Rides Least Likely to Cost You Big at the Repair Shop

In our last blog, E3 Spark Plugs brought you results of a J.D. Power & Associates study that revealed Porsche, Buick, Lexus, Toyota and GMC rides to be the most dependable on America’s roadways, as revealed by surveys of 33,560 owners of 2013 model-year vehicles. But another new study by CarMD, an Irvine, CA-based automotive software solutions provider, shows four other makers also boast highly dependable machines. In its 2015 CarMD Vehicle Health Index, the company looked at some 192 million vehicles built between 1996 and 2015. Of top consideration were the brands most likely to have the kind of issues that kick on the dreaded check engine light, requiring repairs between October 1, 2014 and September 30, 2015, and the average cost to repair those problems. Here’s how the top five played out: Hyundai: Just 2.93 Hyundai rides had serious engine problems and the average bill at the auto repair show was $316.16. Toyota: Toyota’s second-place rank is a bit odd at first g...

February 25, 2016


Lexus, Porsche, Buick Deemed Most Dependable

Lexus, Porsche, Buick Deemed Most Dependable

If you drive a Lexus, a Porsche or a Buick, congratulations are in order. According to a recent study by J.D. Power & Associates, an American-based global marketing information services firm, these three top the list of the most dependable rides on the nation’s roadways. Now it its 27th year, the study looked at data culled from 33,560 owners of 2013 model-year vehicles about any issues they’ve had with their rides over the past 12 months. Top complaints had to do with glitchy entertainment systems; inaccurate or difficult to use navigation systems; voice recognition systems that misinterpret commands; and phones that won’t sync up with a car’s system. All of these features are critical for the Millennials. “If consumers can’t rely on their vehicle to connect to their smartphone, or have faith that their navigation system will route them to their destination, they’re certainly not yet ready to trust that autonomous technology will keep their vehicle out of the dit...

February 25, 2016


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