Look Out Indy 500- Here Comes The ‘Moth Team’

Ok, it was far from an Indy race car, and hardly qualifies as a ‘car’ at all, but the fact is, 14 different male moths showed that they had no problem operating a mechanical vehicle efficiency and accurately, especially when they were using it to pick up chicks.

Ok, so they weren’t actually chasing lady moths, just the pheromone scent of lady moths, but the similarity to young male driving behavior simply cannot be overlooked. Except in these case there were no squealing tires, speeding or drinking and driving. Just male moths, operating a vehicle to arrive quickly at a point where they think a lady moth will be.

Could driver-less cars soon be replaced by professional moths who drove us where we need to go? The future is wide open…

Danica Patrick Suffers Second Wreck

Danica Patrick stunned fans and foes alike with a stellar run at the Daytona 500. But the past week has not been kind to the still up-and-coming racer as she suffered a duo of crashes, the most recent at Talladega caused by her own teammate, Kyle Larson.

Before her near race-ending wreck at Talladega, Patrick spun-out in Phoenix, crashing into the wall and popping the hood on her racer.

It’s still early enough in the season for Patrick to make a comeback, but so far luck just hasn’t been with her after Daytona.

Here’s a highlight from her Phoenix wreck:

Unlicensed Tow Truck Driver Wreaks Havoc In New York

As if it isn’t hard enough to find a place to park, an unscrupulous independent tow truck drive in Floral Park, New York, has been busted for illegally towing vehicles which were legally parked.

Police say Christopher Capurso, 22, would cruise around Long Island putting up his own “Tow Away Zone” signs at local businesses, then start towing vehicles parked in those zones. He did this without the permission of business owners, and without telling them what he was doing.

The signs had Capurso’s phone number so vehicle owners who returned to find their vehicles missing would call direct to him. Of course he demanded $200 cash only, which meant there was no record of the transaction having taken place. Police know of at least seven vehicles towed in this fashion, parked at a local dry cleaner, a church and a gym, but they fear even more people were victims.

For future reference, if your vehicle is towed be certain you verify with the business owner which towing service they use, and make certain you receive a receipt. Of course the best advice is to be certain you do not park in a “Tow Away Zone” in the first. And if you know it wasn’t a tow away zone when you parked there, before you call the towing service, better call the police, just in case.

Davis Auction A Classic Car Lover’s Dream

Texas businessman Don Davis loves classic cars, but even he can have too much of a good thing.

Davis currently owns nearly 100 classic automobiles. And not just any classic automobiles, but some of the world’s most rare super cars, sports cars and limited editions. These include a 1941 Chrysler Newport pace car from that year’s Indianapolis 500 which is valued at more than $1.2 million; a dozen or so Porche’s; a bunch of Mercedes-Benz 300 SL roadsters and coupes, and a 1967 Ferrari 330 GTS, just to name a few.

Later this month Davis will be clearing out his garage, offering 64 of his classic cars, more than half his collection, up for auction. Most of the cars he is offering at auction are duplicates in his collection, but not all of them. Some, like the Chrysler Newport are one-of-a-kind examples of automobiles the likes of which have never been seen before (or since.) Also being offered for sale is a near mint, black-on-black 1965 Cobra with the original Shelby window sticker, buyer’s order and receipt, and extensive registration records.

Another unique automotive specimen being offered by Davis is the 1967 Ferrari 330 GTS, one of just 99 ever built, powered by a 300-horsepower V-12 engine.

Davis said he is not getting out of the business of collecting classic cars, and is certainly not doing it for the money. He is reducing his collection, he said, because maintaining his fleet of classic cars has become too time consuming for him, and he prefers the “chase” of classic car collecting, to the actual owning.

Davis will place his classic cars up for auction on April 27.

Fisker Automotive Failing In Many Ways

In what is just the latest inability of Fisker Automotive to stay in business, the company announced today it was laying off three-quarters of its workforce. At one time the company had 600 people building cars but most of those had already been sent packing when the company they had been relying on for their battery tech, A123 Systems Inc., went into bankruptcy protection last year.

Since then Fisker has tried to restructure and cut back on expenses (including a reduction in their labor force) but they have been unable to produce a single vehicle. And sales of what vehicles they had produced, the $100,000 Fisker Karma have been tepid. That wasn’t helped by poor reviews of the automobile which included questions about its reliability.

Fisker has been touting a much improved, slightly more modestly priced vehicle they are naming the Atlantic coupe. But that vehicle has not yet been produced, and if something fantastic doesn’t happen soon it seems unlikely Fisker will ever get it off the production line.

The co-founder of Fisker Automotive, Henrik Fisker, left the company recently because he didn’t like the business decisions being made there, decisions being made by the CEO Tony Posawatz, brought on board from General Motors where he was chief of the electric car division. Posawatz has said he hopes to find either a buyer for Fisker or a company which will partner with them, but so far, no takers.

At one time, the height of the electric car resurgence, Fisker was considered a wonderkind of the automotive world, but now, it looks as if what some had hoped would be its greatest contribution to the world will not come to fruition.

EPA Demands Cleaner Standards For Automakers

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a new set of emissions rules which they believe will positively impact the quality of air in the nation and lead to a reduction in the number of asthma cases among children.

Opponents of the plan say the new regulations will cause gasoline prices to increase as much as 9 cents per gallon in some areas and be a hardship on refineries at a time when they are still recovering from the Global Recession.

However, the Office of Management and Budget has been studying the proposed rule changes for more than a year and they say the benefits far outweigh the negatives. They also say the rules changes will only cause an increase in the price of gasoline of about a penny nationwide. And they say the improvements will have concrete benefits when it comes to the state of health in the nation, including reducing health care costs by approximately $23 billion and preventing more than 2,000 cases of premature death.

It also helps that the proposed changes in emissions rules are being fully and whole heartedly endorsed and supported by automobile manufacturers, state regulators and environmentalists who say it long past time that the United States address growing emissions problems.

The Wall Street Journal reports the EPA has estimated that once the new rules are in place they will “cut smog-forming volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides by 80 percent and reduce soot by 70 percent.” That’s a huge reduction, especially when you consider the United States spent more than a decade completely ignoring the emissions issue while it waged war half a world away on two fronts.

Feds Mandate ‘Noisy’ Electric Cars

Electric cars are known for being energy efficient, small and quiet. It’s the last part that has some public activists crying foul and the federal government stepping in to make these cars a little less quiet.

The problem is that these quiet electric cars produce no warning noise for pedestrians-especially blind or vision impaired pedestrians-who might not realize they are close and could potentially step in front of them.

Advocates for the blind have been pushing the federal government to do something about these hazardous situation, and the feds have finally agreed. The new federal government mandate will force electric car manufacturers to install a special noise production device which will alert everyone the vehicle is coming, until it reaches 17mph. What is so far unclear is what sort of “noise” will be considered effective and how much this noise device will cost manufacturers and ultimately the consumers.

There is also something to be said for the fact that the quietness of these cars is a selling point. People like quiet cars. The people who are buying electric cars are the same people who are intentionally avoiding ‘noisy’, gas guzzling cars. They think noisy is uncool and quiet is “in.”

Will noisy electric cars sell as well as the quiet ones did? And given that the quiet ones haven’t been selling as everyone had hoped they would be by now, will this spell doom for electric automakers? Only time will tell.

Consumer Reports ‘Best Used Cars’ For The Money

In what will likely come as a surprise to many the Consumers Reports list of the ‘Best Used Cars’ is not topped by a Honda. Or a Toyota.

Nope. This year, a 2009 Pontiac Vibe takes the title of ‘Best Used Car’ despite the fact General motors did away with the Pontiac brand a few years ago. Of course, because the brand doesn’t exist any more is part of what makes a used Pontiac Vibe such a great deal for consumers. The car is highly rated for performance, quality and mileage and since the Pontiac brand is discontinued, they are also pretty inexpensive comparatively. In fact, Consumer Reports says you are likely to score one for less than $10,000.

Of course you can also find a few Honda’s and Toyota’s, a Hyundai and even the Mazda CX-9 on the Consumer Reports ‘Best Used Cars’ list. These cars known to hold their resale value for longer than most American cars. They are also better quality, better performance and better mileage cars (even used) than most newly built American cars on the market right now.

Now, we’re Americans and we love America just as much as you do, but until American manufacturers start building quality, sensible vehicles for the average consumer (who want performance, and quality) not just ‘muscle cars’ they simply are not going to be as in-demand second hand as more imports.

As an example of this, 12 of the 20 ‘worst cars’ on the Consumer Reports list are American made.

Attack Of The ‘Zombie’ Cars

Subaru has a real problem on its hands. They just issued a recall involving 50,000 vehicles across North America. Unfortunately for Subaru the media has chosen a moniker for their problem which just begs for mocking: ‘zombie cars.’

Specifically, the issue involves more than 45,000 Outback, Impreza and Legacy cars built between 2010 and 2013 along with all the Subaru Crosstrek vehicles built in 2013. An electrical problem is causing these vehicles to start automatically without the driver doing anything. Apparently it is caused by the remote starter embedded in the key fob. If that key fob is dropped or bumped it may start sending a signal randomly to start the vehicle’s motor.

Hence the term, ‘zombie car.’

This latest recall is less than a tenth the number of cars recalled by Subaru in January when they had to recall more than 625,000 vehicles due to a risk of fire. Although this latest recall pales in comparison when it comes to the number of cars, it is slightly more exciting because of the catchy name.

And admit it, a car which starts itself at random is slightly spooky, and spooky is popular. We wouldn’t be surprised if rather than getting a black-eye because of this ‘zombie car’ debacle Subaru actually started selling more cars. People might start lining up for a chance to own a ‘zombie car’ just so they can brag to their friends that their vehicle is perhaps ‘haunted.’

Subaru has told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that at least two minor injuries and a few property damage accidents have occurred as a result of these ‘zombie cars’, but again, we think that might just raise their ‘hipness’ factor with consumers looking for a reason to be excited by driving like they were when seat belts were optional and out-running the police was just a dirt road or cornfield away.