Pod Rods checks out this weekend's car and motorcycle scene, gets some coffee in a classic (and not so classic) car with Jerry Seinfeld, and takes a swim in a Cadillac (not what you think).
That's all on Pod Rods:
You see them all over Jacksonville looking like a cross between a bulldog and a London tax - JTA Connexion MV-1's for people with disabilities who can't use the regular bus service. Now Mobility Ventures, the AM General company that is making the 4-door cars after the original owner went under, has a luxury model coming.
The MV-1 LX, it says, is the "first luxury vehicle in the United States designed and built exclusively for people with disabilities." Aimed at individual consumers as well as the taxicab and limousine industries, the LX has leather seats, wood-grain trim and a digital navigation package. It has a 4.6 liter Ford V-8, and can be had with a Compressed Natural Gas fuel option. It is built in Mishawaka, Ind.
Chevrolet and GMC have confirmed a new eight-speed automatic transmission will be standard on 2015 Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra and GMC Yukon Denali/Yukon XL Denali models equipped with the 6.2-liter EcoTec3 V-8. The new transmission is about the same size and weight as the Hydra-Matic 6L80 six-speed automatic. Its 7.0 overall gear ratio spread is wider than GM's six-speed automatic transmissions, providing a numerically higher first gear ratio to help drivers start off better with a heavy load or when trailering. The 8L90 also enables numerically lower rear axle ratios, which reduce engine rpm on the highway.
Lamborghini has an extra special Huracán undergoing final testing - a Super Trofeo model seen on track for its first shakedown with chief test driver Giorgio Sanna. The Huracán, which received its U.S. unveiling in March at the annual Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance, is the Italian company's replacement for its Gallardo, and the new Super Trofeo is its newest race car. In 2015, the car will be raced in the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo Series in Europe, Asia and North America.
Mazda has officially shown off its all-new 2016 Mazda2. The sub-compact, aka the Demio in Japan, received its first complete redesign since its global third-generation launch seven years ago. Based on the HAZUMI concept, which debuted at the Geneva Auto Show in March, this fourth-generation vehicle gets lots of SKYACTIV drivetrain technology as well as new "KODO: Soul of Motion" design language to match its larger siblings. The 2016 Mazda2 will begin rolling out this fall to global markets from Japan's Hofu plant with a SKYACTIV-G 1.3-liter gasoline engine and a SKYACTIV-D 1.5-liter clean diesel engine in Japan. U.S.-specific engine info will be released this fall.
Mercedes-Benz has introduced its king-of-the-hill coupe - the 621-hp S65 AMG Coupe with a 6-liter V-12 bi-turbo engine that pounds out 738 lb-ft of torque. Following the S65 AMG and the SL 65 AMG, the new S65 AMG Coupe is the third AMG high-performance car with a V-12 to come to the United States market. It can hit 60 mph in 4 seconds en route to a limited 186-mph. That engine is hooked to an AMG SPEEDSHIFT PLUS 7G-TRONIC transmission with Controlled Efficiency (C), Sport (S) and Manual (M) modes. It has a curve tilting function that lets it lean into bends in a manner like a motorcyclist or skier. ROAD SURFACE SCAN detects surface undulations in advance via a stereo camera, while its MAGIC BODY CONTROL adjusts the suspension in advance to suit the situation.
Volkswagen is expanding its industrial footprint in the U.S. by awarding the production of its new midsize SUV to the Chattanooga plant and investing about $900 million in the production of the 7-passenger vehicle as well as creating 2,000 new jobs VW says the U.S. is one of its most important markets for Volkswagen, which is "going on the attack again in America," said chairman Martin Winterkorn. The plant already builds the new Passat for the North American market.
The recent increase in news about children being left in hot cars has prompted a request from Janette Fennell, head of the non-profit Kids and Cars, which lobbies for children's traffic safety. The group is petitioning the White House and federal government to fund research and development of technology that can detect a child left in the rear seat of a vehicle, not unlike alarms that remind motorists to buckle seatbelts. About 38 children a year die in the United States from vehicular heatstroke, according to experts. More than half of those deaths occur after parents accidentally leave children in the car. So far this year, 17 children have died in the U.S., according to Kids and Cars, one of the latest in Georgia. Other instances of children recently left in cars in Northeast Florida but rescued before they died have occurred in the past two weeks.
Kids and Cars petition wants the Obama administration to fund research into new technology into seat detection technology, then require installation of it in all vehicles or child safety seats. The petition must collect 100,000 signatures by Aug. 13 to ensure the White House staff will review it and send it to the Department of Transportation.
Carmakers always tout how fast their cars have gone at the famed Nürburgring race track in Germany. Now one is talking about how far. Toyota took its Prius Plug-in hybrid to the track to show how little fuel it could use on a single lap of the notorious Nordschliefe. Motoring journalist and Japanese car expert Joe Clifford drove a standard Prius Plug-in on the 12.9-mile circuit at the 37-mph minimum average speed with TRD styling parts and low rolling resistance tires. He recorded 698 mpg, completing his lap in 20 minutes and 59 seconds, with less than five tablespoons of fuel used. The gas engine did cut in on a hill. You can watch the video here.
The granddad of concours is coming Aug. 17 in Pebble Beach, and one of the cars to be shown off will be a special streamlined pioneer from behind the old Iron Curtain.
Pavel Kasik just completed a 20-year restoration on his Czech Republic-built 1936 Tatra T77. It comes 4,279 miles to the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance to be part of a feature on the streamlined automobiles on the 18th fairway of Pebble Beach Golf Links. The car has a
rear-mounted air-cooled 75-hp 3.4 liter V-8 engine and a central tube-steel chassis, plus a streamlined style far ahead of its time. Tatra is the third oldest automobile manufacturer in the world after Mercedes and Peugeot, this model engineered by Hans Ledwinka and designed by Paul Jaray in 1934.
We've been telling you about the Auctions America sale of the historic Littlefield Collection for a while. Now comes news that the July 11-12 sale of classic military vehicles from around the world in Portola Valley Calif. netted $10.24 million in sales with 98 percent of all lots sold. Top sellers: a German 8-Ton Half-Track Personnel Carrier from World War II for $1.2 million and a SCUD-A Surface-to-Surface Missile carrier for $345,000. Bidders represented 10 countries from around the world and 37 states from across the United States. All hammer proceeds to benefit The Collings Foundation, a non-profit educational foundation in Massachusetts.
Every so often we like to take a ride with comedian Jerry Seinfeld in his web series, Comedians In Cars getting Coffee. The premise is that – picking up a comedian and interviewing them as they get coffee. And one never knows what avid car collector Seinfeld will show up in. The ones I've picked for this week range from classic to eccentric. First, Seinfeld gets behind the wheel of a 1978 AMC Gremlin, which he says "was even more horrible" than – well, you guess. Then he picks up Comedy Central star Jon Stewart.
Fellow car collector extraordinaire Jay Leno is luckier. Seinfeld gets him in his own very special 1949 Porsche 356/2, the 40th of 52 built in a sawmill in Gmund, Austria. That car, and Seinfeld, came to an early Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance.
Finally, what the world needs is a classic Cadillac convertible with a hot tub inside, right?
Well, that's what the Carpool Deville is – a real 1969 Cadillac convertible that can still be driven, with a sloshing hot tub where its 6-passenger cabin used to be. The result of a six-year-long project, it still has its original 472-cubic-inch V-8 for propulsion and heating of the water in the fiberglass tub. Its designers also plan to take it to the Bonneville Salt Flats and try for a top speed run, hence the roll cage seen in the vide. Their video is their Kickstarter campaign video to fund that race.
It's the middle of summer, but there's still some cool places to hang out with your car, or see someone elses:
• Wheelers for the Wounded sixth annual Show 'n Shine - 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the St. Augustine Flea Market at 2495 Florida 207. The event is free for spectators and show vehicles, all proceeds to benefit the Fort Benning Wounded Warrior Association and the Veterans Farm of Jacksonville.
• The Kangaroo Express "ROO Ride" kicks off at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Kangaroo Express at 13957 Main St. N. in Jacksonville as a part of the fourth annual "Salute Our Troops" campaign to benefit Fisher House Foundation, American Red Cross Service to Armed Forces, US Veteran Corps and the Florida National Guard Foundation.
Riders take a scenic motorcycle ride from Jacksonville to the Gainesville Fisher House at 5106 NW 8th St., escorted by the Salute Our Troops Red Bull Global Rallycross pace car, which will be donated to a veteran at summer's end.
Registration begins at 4 p.m. and is $20 for riders and $10 for a passenger, the first 50 to register receiving a free ROO Ride biker patch and t-shirt. Guests can donate at any Kangaroo Express store throughout the Southeast through Labor Day.
To reserve a spot to ride and see the route, go to www.kesalute.com.
• Informal cruise-in — 7 to 9 a.m. every Saturday at the Krispy Kreme doughnut shop, located at 11117 San Jose Blvd. in Mandarin.
• Sunshine State Chevelles - 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Auction Direct, 6400 Blanding Blvd.
• Clay County Cruzers - 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Your Pie Pizza, 1545 County Road 220 in Fleming Island.
• First Coast F100 - 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday in front of the Renna's Pizza at the River City Marketplace at 13141 City Station Drive in Jacksonville.
• Lowe's cruise-in - 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Lowe's at 4040 Oldfield Crossing Drive in Mandarin.
• St. Augustine Cruisers - 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Hobby Lobby, 200 Florida 312 in St. Augustine.
• Jacksonville Truck Nights — 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. the first Thursday of each month at Round Boys Grill, 11629-8 San Jose Blvd., and 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at Brewer's Pizza, 14B Blanding Blvd. in Orange Park.
• Aw Shucks Cruise-in - 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday July 13 at Aw Shucks at 9743 Old St. Augustine Road.
• Southeast Georgia Car and Truck Club cruise-ins — 6 p.m. the second Saturday of each month at Sonic's, 395 Charlie Smith Senior Highway, St. Marys; and 6 p.m. on the fourth Saturday of each month at the Millhouse Steakhouse, 1215 East King Ave. in Kingsland, next to Interstate 95.
• Bike Enthusiasts show — 7 p.m. the first and third Thursdays at Cavagnaro's restaurant, located at 1810 South Georgia Parkway W. in Waycross.
• Zaxby's Car Show — 6 to 9 p.m. the third Saturday of every month at Zaxby's, located at 2316 Memorial Drive in Waycross.
Please send information on car shows, cruise-ins, and automotive and motorcycle events to firstname.lastname@example.org or Dan Scanlan, Florida Times-Union, 1 Riverside Ave., Jacksonville, Fla. 32202