No Indy 500 pace car this year, but here are the results

May 25th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Scott Dixon Indy car fq

We write this as the 2009 Indy 500 has just finished – an exciting result, but you won’t be able to buy the Camaro Pace Car this year. The reason Chevrolet cites is that producing too many specials devalues the standard car, and what with the Bumblebee Camaro on the cards to celebrate the new Transformers movie, you’ll just have to purchase a standard Camaro and make the stickers yourself.

Results of the Indy 500 2009 (top 10)

1. Castroneves

2. Wheldon

3. Patrick

4. Bell

5. Power

6. Dixon

7. Franchitti

8. Carpenter

9. Tracy

10. Mutoh

Here’s the full list of Indy 500 pace cars since back in the day
Year     Model     Driver
2008     Chevrolet Corvette     Emerson Fittipaldi
2007     Chevrolet Corvette     Patrick Dempsey
2006     Chevrolet Corvette C6     Lance Armstrong
2005     Chevrolet Corvette     Gen. Colin Powell
2004     Chevrolet Corvette C5     Morgan Freeman
2003     Chevy SSR     Herb Fishel
2002     2003 Chevrolet Corvette     Jim Caviezel
2001     Oldsmobile Bravada     Elaine Irwin-Mellencamp
2000     Oldsmobile Aurora     Anthony Edwards
1999     Chevrolet Monte Carlo     Jay Leno
1998     Chevrolet Corvette     Parnelli Jones
1997     Oldsmobile Aurora     Johnny Rutherford
1996     Dodge Viper GTS     Robert A. Lutz
1995     Chevrolet Corvette     Jim Perkins
1994     Ford Mustang Cobra     Parnelli Jones
1993     Chevrolet Camaro Z-28     Jim Perkins
1992     Cadillac Allante     Bobby Unser
1991     Dodge Viper RT/10     Carroll Shelby
1990     Chevrolet Beretta     Jim Perkins
1989     20th Anniversary Pontiac Trans Am     Bobby Unser
1988     Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme     Gen. Chuck Yeager
1987     Chrysler LeBaron     Carroll Shelby
1986     Chevrolet Corvette     Gen. Chuck Yeager
1985     Oldsmobile Calais     James Garner
1984     Pontiac Fiero     John Callies
1983     Buick Riviera Convertible     Duke Nalon
1982     Chevrolet Camaro Z28     Jim Rathmann
1981     Buick Regal V-6     Duke Nalon
1980     Pontiac Turbo-Trans Am     Johnnie Parsons
1979     Ford Mustang     Jackie Stewart
1978     Chevrolet Corvette     Jim Rathmann
1977     Oldsmobile Delta 88     James Garner
1976     Buick Turbocharged V-6     Marty Robbins
1975     Buick Century Custom ‘Free Spirit’     James Garner
1974     Hurst/Olds Cutlass     Jim Rathmann
1973     Cadillac Eldorado     Jim Rathmann
1972     Hurst/Olds Cutlass     Jim Rathmann
1971     Dodge Challenger     Eldon Palmer
1970     Oldsmobile 4-4-2     Rodger Ward
1969     Chevrolet Camaro SS     Jim Rathmann
1968     Ford Torino GT     William C. Ford
1967     Chevrolet Camaro     Mauri Rose
1966     Mercury Comet Cyclone GT     Benson Ford
1965     Plymouth Sports Fury     P.M. Buckminster
1964     Ford Mustang     Benson Ford
1963     Chrysler ‘300’     Sam Hanks
1962     Studebaker     Sam Hanks
1961     Ford Thunderbird     Sam Hanks
1960     Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight     Sam Hanks
1959     Buick Electra 225     Sam Hanks
1958     Pontiac Bonneville     Sam Hanks
1957     Mercury Turnpike Cruiser     F.C. Reith
1956     DeSoto Fireflite Pacesetter     L.I. Woolson
1955     Chevrolet Bel Air     T.H. Keating
1954     Dodge Royal 500     William C. Newburg
1953     Ford Crestline Sunliner     William C. Ford
1952     Studebaker Commander     P.O. Peterson
1951     Chrysler New Yorker V-8     Dave Wallace
1950     Mercury     Benson Ford
1949     Oldsmobile 88 ‘Rocket’     Wilbur Shaw
1948     Chevrolet Stylemaster Six-Series     Wilbur Shaw
1947     Nash Ambassador     George W. Mason
1946     Lincoln Continental     Henry Ford II
1941     Chrysler-Newport (Phaeton)     A.B. Couture
1940     Studebaker Champion     Harry Hartz
1939     Buick Roadmaster Series 80     Charles Chayne
1938     Hudson ‘112’     Stuart Baits
1937     LaSalle Series 50     Ralph DePalma
1936     Packard One-Twenty     Tommy Milton
1935     Ford Model 48     Harry Mack
1934     LaSalle Model 350     ‘Big Boy’ Rader
1933     Chrysler Imperial (Phaeton)     Byron Foy
1932     Lincoln Model KB     Edsel Ford
1931     Cadillac 370 Twelve     ‘Big Boy’ Rader
1930     Cord L-29     Wade Morton
1929     Studebaker Series F-10 President     George Hunt
1928     Marmon ‘8’ (Model 78)     Joe Dawson
1927     LaSalle V-8 Series 303     ‘Big Boy’ Rader
1926     Chrysler Imperial E-80     Louis Chevrolet
1925     Rickenbacker Eight     Eddie Rickenbacker
1924     Cole V-8 Series 890     Lew Pettijohn
1923     Duesenberg Model A     Fred S. Duesenberg
1922     National Sextet     Barney Oldfield
1921     H.C.S. Series 6     Harry C. Stutz
1920     Marmon Model 34     Barney Oldfield
1919     Packard 335     Col. J. G. Vincent
1916     Premier Model 656     Frank E. Smith
1915     Packard Model 548     Carl G. Fisher
1914     Stoddard-Dayton     Carl G. Fisher
1913     Stoddard-Dayton     Carl G. Fisher
1912     Stutz     Carl G. Fisher
1911     Stoddard-Dayton Model 11-A     Carl G. Fisher

Corvette paying its rent for now

May 11th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Corvette ZR1 2009 fq

According to Fritz Henderson, the newly-appointed CEO of General Motors, the future holds exciting things for Chevrolet’s iconic sportscar. Corvette fans were concerned late last year when GM admitted that development of the next-gen C7 Corvette platform was put on “indefinite hold, with no official or set timetable.”

In a bit of good news for Corvette fans, Henderson stated that the “Corvette pays its rent,” meaning that it’s a money-making operation for The General. Now, the longer the automaker can flog off the current C6 architecture, the more profitable it will ultimately be.

No word yet on when the new Covette platform will be revealed, but Henderson is quick to point out that the current C6 chassis is still an excellent unit to build off and one that’s fully competitive with the best sportscars from around the world.

Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport returns

April 27th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Corvette Grand Sport s

Chevrolet is bringing back the Corvette Grand Sport, and it’s very different to the last one offered at the end of the C4’s run in the mid-Nineties. The new Grand Sport has a long list of performance upgrades and rather than treat this revival as a special model with a limited run, Chevy has decided to ditch its Z51 package entirely and offer the Grand Sport that takes the standard cars performance even closer to the range-topping Z06.

While the 430-hp (436-hp with the two-mode exhaust) LS3 V8 remains unchanged, extra width is added to the guards to allow for 18- (front) and 19-inch (rear) wheels that are also wider than before. Larger brakes are included and the special suspension tuning is now even sportier. Other Z06 elements are now included like the front splitter, rear spoiler and functional brake ducts behind the doors. But unlike the Z06, you can order a Grand Sport with a choice of manual transmission or six-speed automatic with paddle shifters. The manual transmission comes with a dry-sump oil system, differential cooler and rear-mounted battery.

The new Grand Sport was announced at the 12th annual C5/C6 Corvette Birthday Bash at the National Corvette Museum in Kentucky, USA yesterday.

Dodge Challenger beats Ford Mustang for sales

March 16th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Over in the states the iconic Ford Mustang has been a driving force in the sales department for a long time. That changed last month when Ford’s iconic pony car has been outsold by the Dodge Challenger by 293 units in February, as the Dodge coupe racked up 3,283 sales during the month. The Challenger’s February victory could be a sign of things to come for the Mustang, as the Blue Oval’s most recognisable vehicle is set to get bombarded with more competition coming from the 2010 Camaro. The Camaro, which goes into regular production on March 16, already has over 10,000 pre-orders waiting.

Don’t rule out the Mustang yet, as the pony car is getting a major makeover shortly. In fact, one reason the Challenger defeated the Mustang in February might be that many potential buyers are waiting for the 2010 model. Automakers also slow production before retooling for a new model, meaning there are fewer 2009 Mustangs from which to choose. The pony car wars are set to continue.

Chevrolet Camaro Convertible delayed

November 17th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Chevrolet Camaro Convertible fq

When Chrysler decided to cease plans for a Dodge Challenger convertible, few people in the industry were surprised. The coupe was never developed with a drop-top variant in mind and it would’ve taken far too much cash to shore up the chassis with the roof removed. Not to mention Chrysler’s financial woes.

Now, reports are coming in that General Motors is delaying the launch of the Chevrolet Camaro Convertible for the same reason, putting off the introduction for another year as the General attempts to keep its head above these financially troubled waters. Spending on such extravagances is hard to justify for both GM and consumers, and if the American federal bailout goes through, it’s safe to assume that legislators would have hard time seeing tax dollars being used to develop such a niche vehicle.

Production Chevy Volt launched

September 18th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Chevy Volt 2011 fq

General Motors launched its next 100 years this week by unveiling the much-anticipated production version of the Chevrolet Volt — a vehicle that delivers up to 65km of emissions-free electric driving, with the extended-range capability of hundreds of additional kilometres using petrol.

“Revealing the production version of the Chevy Volt is a great way to open our second century,” said Rick Wagoner, GM Chairman and CEO. “The Volt is symbolic of GM’s strong commitment to the future … just the kind of technology innovation that our industry needs to respond to today’s and tomorrow’s energy and environmental challenges.”

The design of the Chevrolet Volt production car has evolved from the original concept that was unveiled at the 2007 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Because aerodynamics plays a key role in maximising driving range, GM designers created an aerodynamically efficient design for the production vehicle. Many of the design cues from the concept vehicle endure in the production Volt, including the closed front grille, athletic stance, rear design graphics, outside rearview mirrors and more. The Volt’s rounded and flush front fascia, tapered corners and grille are functional, enabling air to move easily around the car. In the rear, sharp edges and a carefully designed spoiler allow the air to flow off and away quickly. An aggressive rake on the windshield and back glass help reduce turbulence and drag.

Working closely with GM aerodynamicists to shape the Volt, design and engineering teams developed one of the most aerodynamic vehicles in GM’s history. They spent hundreds of hours with the Volt in GM’s wind tunnel, testing and re-testing parts such as the front and rear quarter panels, rear spoiler, rockers and side mirrors. Aerodynamic improvements enabled GM to reach the Volt’s target of driving up to 65km (based on EPA city cycle) without using petrol or producing emissions.

Inside, the Volt offers the space, comfort, convenience and safety features that customers expect in a four-passenger sedan, and it delivers them in a variety of interior color, lighting and trim options unlike any offered before on a Chevrolet sedan. Modern controls and attractive materials, two informational displays, and a touch-sensitive infotainment center with integrated shifter distinguish the Volt’s interior from other vehicles in the market.

Some of Volt’s interior technological features include:

* Driver-configurable, liquid crystal instrument display
* Standard seven-inch touch screen vehicle information display
* Touch screen-style climate and infotainment controls
* Optional navigation system with onboard hard drive for maps and music storage
* Standard Bluetooth for cellular phone and USB/Bluetooth for music streaming

The Chevrolet Volt is leading a new era of electrification of the automobile by creating a new class of vehicle known as the Extended-Range Electric Vehicle, or E-REV.

The Volt uses electricity to move the wheels at all times and speeds. For trips up to 65km, the Volt is powered only by electricity stored in its 16kWh, lithium-ion battery. When the battery’s energy is depleted, a petrol/E85-powered engine generator seamlessly provides electricity to power the Volt’s electric drive unit while simultaneously sustaining the charge of the battery. This mode of operation extends the range of the Volt for several hundred additional kilometres, until the vehicle’s battery can be charged. Unlike a conventional battery-electric vehicle, the Volt eliminates “range anxiety,” giving the confidence and peace of mind that the driver will not be stranded by a depleted battery.

The Chevrolet Volt can be plugged either into a standard household 120v outlet in the USA or use 240v for charging. The vehicle’s intelligent charging technology enables the Volt’s battery to be charged in less than three hours on a 240v outlet or about eight hours on a 120v outlet. Charge times are reduced if the battery has not been fully depleted. At a cost of about US$0.80 per day (10 cents per kWh) for a full charge that will deliver up to 65km of electric driving, GM estimates that the Volt will be less expensive to recharge than purchasing a cup of coffee. Charging the Volt about once daily will consume less electric energy annually than the average home’s refrigerator and freezer units.

More than 220 lithium-ion cells contained within the Volt’s battery pack provide ample power. The Volt’s electric drive unit delivers the equivalent of 150 horsepower (112kW), 273 lb-ft. (370 Nm) of instant torque, and a top speed of 160kph. The lack of engine noise, combined with special sound-deadening materials, make the Chevrolet Volt an extremely quiet vehicle inside.

GM estimates cost savings of US$1,500 on fuel annually for an average driver. Using peak electric rates, GM estimates that an electrically driven mile in a Chevy Volt will be about one-sixth of the cost of a conventional gasoline-powered vehicle. The cost savings are even greater when charging during off-peak hours, when electric rates are cheaper.

The Chevrolet Volt is expected to be built at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck manufacturing facility, subject to GM successfully negotiating satisfactory government incentives. Production is scheduled to begin late 2010 for models in the United States. Pricing has not been announced. It will undoubtedly be converted for right-hand drive markets such as New Zealand, but we may have to wait until 2012 or later.

Chevrolet Cruze to feature on the GM stand in Paris

August 22nd, 2008 by Darren Cottingham


Here are the first pictures of Chevrolet’s all-new compact family car the Cruze, which is set to make its debut at the Paris Motor Show in October.

On sale next year, Chevrolet says that the four-door model is “an entirely global car, which will go on sale across all continents as one of Chevrolet’s core new models” though we doubt very much that we will see the car here, with or without a Holden badge.

Inside, the car features a twin-cockpit design, with a distinct centre console dividing the front into separate areas for the driver and passenger — a styling cue taken from various iconic Chevrolet performance cars.

At launch, three engines will be offered — 1.6-litre 112PS and 1.8-litre 140PS petrol units, both with variable valve timing for optimal power, fuel economy and exhaust emissions, or a 2.0-litre 150PS common-rail turbodiesel.

The Cruze heralds a new era for Chevrolet in Europe, which is set to be built upon even further over the coming months with the introduction of even more new models, including the iconic Camaro.

Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 released (+video)

June 24th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

The new Corvette ZR1 can do the 0-100kph dash in 3.4 seconds and has a top speed of 330 km/h, making it the fastest Corvette ever produced and ranking it among the global super cars of commensurate performance. None of those other super cars, however, equals the ZR1’s performance-per-dollar ratio.

DETROIT — The official Corvette ZR1 numbers are in and they’re good. Very good:


US$103,300 (NZD$136,000)

estimated fuel economy of 17 l/100km city and 12 l/100km highway

0-100kph in 3.4 seconds

Quarter-mile elapsed time of 11.3 seconds at 210kph

“The ZR1 is an incredible machine by any measure,” said Ed Peper, North American Vice President, Chevrolet. “There’s simply no other vehicle in the world that does a better job of balancing performance, price and fuel economy.”

Performance perspective
The Corvette ZR1’s 0-100 performance is 0.3-second quicker than the already-quick Corvette Z06 and the 0-100-mph performance is nearly a full second quicker — 7 seconds vs. the Z06’s 7.9 seconds. It is performance that is equal to or better than many super cars costing substantially more.

“A favourable power-to-weight ratio gives the ZR1 an advantage over the competition and performance that has to be experienced to fully appreciate,” said Tom Wallace, Corvette chief engineer. “Of course, on a racetrack, drivers of competitors’ cars may appreciate the ZR1 in a whole different manner.”

Under the carbon-fibre hood
A new LS9 6.2L supercharged small-block engine powers the ZR1’s performance capability. Heavy-duty and lightweight reciprocating components support high-rpm performance, while a new, sixth-generation supercharger (and complementing charge-cooling system) helps the LS9 make big power and torque across the rpm range. The engine is hand-assembled at GM’s Performance Build Center, in Wixom, Mich.

In addition to the LS9 engine, the ZR1 is a technology powerhouse, designed with lightweight and unique components that reinforce its performance with a confident feel on either a highway or road course.

The standard ZR1 comes with accoutrements based on the Z06, including lightweight seats and lightweight content. The available uplevel interior package includes power-adjustable, heated and leather-trimmed sport seats (embroidered with the ZR1 logo); side air bags; Bose premium audio system; navigation system; Bluetooth connectivity; power telescoping steering column; custom leather-wrapped interior available in four colours and more. Chrome wheels are the only other available option on the ZR1.

Check out the video of the ZR-1 production line below

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