Posts in Cars

This Is A Hyundai? The Upcoming Equus.

Hyundai has been on the right tracks of car design as of lately. Their new Genesis sedan is a great looking sedan. The upcoming RWD coupe version of the car is even better:

Hyundai Genesis coupe and sedan

Back in August Hyundai leaked out a teaser picture of the new Equus sedan, and this is all we got:

Hyundai Equus teaser

Then earlier this month some sketches were released, and I have to say, they look amazing!  If the 2010 Hyundai Equus looks anything like these sketches, I will be very impressed:

Hyundai Equus front sketch

Hyundai Equus rear sketch

The car looks super agressive, and I love me a mean looking car.  The rear looks like a mixture of a few cars to me.  I see a Honda Accord, Nissan Maxima, and Acura TL.  What do you think?

equus-rear-comparison

The Equus will be Hyundai’s big daddy Sedan, packing a 4.6 liter V8 and eight-speed transmission.  Speculation says there is a possibility of a 5.0 liter 420hp V8, and even talks of a 5.5 liter supercharged version are amok.  The car will be loaded with all sorts of technology, and is going after cars like the S-class Mercedes.

[Source: Autoblog]

Installed RaceDeck Flooring In My Garage…Love It!

One of things has always been to have a killer garage…and that always starts off with cool floors in my opinion. I recently bought a new house (I’ll have some sort of tour post in the future sometime), and it’s now giving me an opportunity to build my dream garage. Stage 1 of course is flooring.

While I was at SEMA back in November, I stopped at one of the booths for RaceDeck, a company that manufacturers garage floor tiles.  They had a great show special, and the final cost would end up being a lot less than if I were to order it myself…so even though I wasn’t necessarily ready to buy, they lured me in.  I’m glad I did.  Installation was a breeze, and the floor looks amazing!  Once the garage is all painted and lighted up, it will look that much better.  Here’s a little picture timeline of the install:

Here’s all the tiles ready to be installed:

Installing RaceDeck floor in my garage

Move all your stuff to one side:

Installing RaceDeck floor in my garage

Here we can see I’m getting started:

Installing RaceDeck floor in my garage

Then I realized I should probably start from the corner:

Installing RaceDeck floor in my garage

It’s growing!

Installing RaceDeck floor in my garage

The most time consuming part was definitely the checkered area, but still not too bad:

Installing RaceDeck floor in my garage

Repeat on the other side, and then done!

Installing RaceDeck floor in my garage

Of course here’s a pic with my baby in it:

Installing RaceDeck floor in my garage

You can order the floor through RaceDeck, as well as design what you want…they have a pretty good designer on their website that will tell you exactly how many tiles of each color you’ll need to order to match your design.  By the way, if you’re thinking that RaceDeck paid me to write this, or I benefit in any way, I am not/don’t.  Just providing a good testimonial for an awesome product and a company that gave me good service.

In Dave’s Garage: 2009 Lincoln MKS

With Ford no longer owning Jaguar, Range Rover, or Aston Martin, its only luxury brands to concentrate on are Volvo and Lincoln. They still make Lincolns? That’s what I thought, until I had the opportunity to get a few minutes with the 2009 MKS at Ford’s upcoming model event back in August.  I was impressed enough with the car there that I decided to get one into the garage for a full fledged review.

2009 Lincoln MKS

Ford sent over an essentially fully loaded all wheel drive model that had a sticker price around $47,000.  For reference, the AWD model starts at $39,590.  Optional equipment which was about $6,700 sticker price included the following:

  • Technology package
  • Navigation Package
  • 19″ wheels
  • Rain sensitive windshield wipers
  • Dual panel moonroof
  • Adaptive headlamps with auto high beam
  • Forward sensing system
  • Voice activated nav system
  • Intelligent access key with push button start
  • Rear view camera
  • THX-II certified audio system with 5.1 surround sound
  • Ultimate leather seating
  • Adaptive cruise control

The 09 version of the MKS is built on the same platform as the Taurus/Sable/Taurus X and Flex, so you can kind of call it a pimped out Taurus.  Under the hood you’ll find a 3.7-liter V6 that provides a decent 270hp and 256 ft-lbs of torque.  The MKS is a bit of a fatty, weighing in at 4,127lbs, so it wouldn’t hurt to have slightly more power.  With the bigger V6 making all that weight move, I was averaging about 19mpg…one of my only bigger complaints about the car.  Then again, gas prices are down, and if you’re spending almost $50,000 on a luxury vehicle, how much do you care about spending a little more money on gas.  The MKS does allow you to use a lower-grade gas in the car if you don’t mind it not performing optimally.

One big thing to keep in mind is that Lincoln is working on an EcoBoost version of the MKS which will supposedly feature a twin-turbo V6 with some of the hp estimates coming in around 350.  While the car does move, enough to not really complain, it will really move with the additional ponies…and maybe even have better gas mileage.  Even a 4-cylinder EcoBoost motor that makes similar power to the current model, but increases the gas mileage would be a welcome option.

Now that we’ve looked under the hood, lets talk about how the car is dressed.  My personal opinion is that Lincoln did a fantastic job at designing this car.  The split grille, which is the new Lincoln “look” is elegant and along with the nicely shaped headlights, give the Lincoln a very classy yet sporty/aggressive look.  It screams luxury, but with a little muscle.

2009 Lincoln MKS front

What I like best though is the rear of the car.  The new vertical LED taillights and generally shape remind me of the Maserati Quattroporte…but better looking.  While the overall design is not revolutionary, it does stand out as a handsome car in a sea of blandness.

2009 Lincoln MKS rear

Maserati vs Lincoln MKS

The interior of the car is the best part of the MKS hands down.  I was pleasantly surprised how nice all of the materials were, how comfortable the car was, and how ridiculously great the technology was integrated.  One of the greatest steps that Ford has made with their lineup has been the integration of SYNC, a car operating system if you will, developed in conjunction with Microsoft.  The added Sirius satellite radio with Travel Link allows you to do some really cool things like auto re-route your destination based on traffic, find the lowest fuel prices in your area, check sports scores and movie listings, and more.  The voice activation feature to tie it all in works practically flawlessly, and is by far the best system I’ve ever used.

2009 Lincoln MKS interior

2009 Lincoln MKS rear interior

If you read the list of optional items that were included in the car, you need to know that everything other than the adaptive cruise control was part of the $5,715 “ultimate package”…and I wouldn’t buy the car without it.  There is just too much cool, convenient stuff to not shell out for it.  Take for example the 5.1 THX-II certified audio system.  For audio cds that support it, you will be extremely impressed by the quality of the sound.

2009 Lincoln MKS dual moonroof

In regards to handling, I was pleasantly surprised to how well the MKS stuck to the road.  While the car looks smaller than it is, it sits fairly high, especially at the rear.  I’ll be honest, I was expecting a good amount of body roll.  What I did find though was that I could take an exit ramp going 60 with no problems.  I was also a little surprised at how much of the road I could feel, I mean it is a Lincoln right?  I think this mostly had to do with the 19″ wheels that also provided a lower profile tire.  Note that there is also an option for a 20″ wheel.  While I did feel some of the road, the car was almost eerily quiet when driving.  It was so smooth accelerating and shifting through gears.  I had passengers in both the front and rear of the car, all complimenting the MKS on how incredibly smooth and comfortable the car was.

2009 Lincoln MKS side

Speaking of comfortableness, the MKS definitely sticks to what you would imagine a Lincoln would be…notably comfortable.  My rear passengers were pleased and with no complaints, they were happy about their rear heat warmers in the 30 degree rainy weather we were in.

The Lincoln MKS puts itself into a class of heavy competition.  With cars like the BMW 5-Series, Jaguar XF, Cadillac CTS/STS, Acura RL, Lexus GS, etc…it’s tough to come out as number one.  What Lincoln does have going over the competition is the pricepoint.  A fully loaded MKS will come in lower than most of the competition, but I still think it’s priced a little high.  The initial reaction I was getting from most people was surprised when they found out how much it costs.  While it’s a nice car, they really need to undercut the competition.  I’d like to see a fully loaded AWD model come in at the lower $40,000 range if it’s possible.  In reality though, it is a great buy for what it is…which is why it was nominated for car of the year from Motor Trend.

For more pictures, as well as the high resolution versions, see the Flickr set.

Profiling My Old Project Nissan 350Z

Once upon a time, two Vipers and Corvette ago, I had a 2004 Nissan 350Z which was my garage queen project car. This car was my pride and joy, I put a lot of time, effort, and money into that car to make it the way I wanted. I thought it’d be interesting to go back and see all of the things I had done to the car to turn it from this:

My old Nissan 350Z

To this:

My old Nissan 350Z

My initial idea was that I wanted to make the car nice overall from all aspects…from performance, to suspension, to audio. Looking back now, the one aspect I didn’t really do enough was suspension, but that would have required dumping in a lot more money. So let’s take a look at what was done:

To start off, I went with some little modifications like a smaller antenna, removing emblems, and intake, etc. The original plan was keep the car naturally aspirated (meaning all-motor with no sort of forced induction like a turbo or a supercharger), which is why I got the intake. That changed over time, but we’ll get to that later.

I also wanted to have a carbon fiber/orange theme, I always thought that the orange matched a gunmetal sort of color really well. To kick that theme off, I installed a JIC front strut tower brace for tighter handling and a nice look under the hood. I also installed 15% tint all-around to give it a more refined orange/black look.

My old Nissan 350Z

Next, I installed RS*R springs. This lowered the car slightly to give it a more aggressive stance, and help improve handling slightly. You can see the height difference in the springs here:

My old Nissan 350Z

In the meantime, I was prepping for a show quality audio system installation by starting to amass parts for that:

My old Nissan 350Z

We can see here I went with Polk/Momo amplifiers, and Inifity Kappa Perfect speakers/subs, along with a Pioneer Elite headunit which isn’t shown.

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In Person Look At The New Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4

Not too long ago Lamborghini updated their Gallardo model with the new LP560-4. Why the name? LP stands for “longitudinal poseriore” because of the rear longitudinal engine position. The 560 part of the name represents the amount of horsepower that the 5.2L V10 pumps out. -4 represents 4 wheel drive. Congratulations, consider yourself a Lamborghini Gallardo naming expert!

I ran over to Lamborghini Washington for a first hand look at the new supercar. They had two in the inventory, one in white, and the other in a semi-dark silver:

Lamborghini Gallardio LP560-4

Lamborghini Gallardio LP560-4

Thinking of picking one up?? The silver one will run you about $265,000:

Lamborghini has a habit of doing this. They design a car that I look at and fall in love with. I can’t even begin to fathom how the design can be improved, but then they redesign, and it looks even better. Most notably to me the major improvements are on the front and rear parts of the car. The frontend has a new, more aggressive looking bumper with larger openings. It looks more like their super duper car, the $1.6 million Reventon. Along with the redesigned headlights, it makes the new rendition much angrier looking.

Lamborghini Gallardo old vs new front

More importantly the rear of the car has been completely redesigned. I would say that the rear of the first Gallardo was the one part of the car that a lot of people didn’t like so much. Obviously Lamborghini heard this too, and redesigned accordingly. The new rear is much cleaner:

Lamborghini Gallardo old vs new rear

The updated lower profile taillights and the quad exhaust tips really do the majority of the improvements for me.

Here’s some more pictures that I took for you to enjoy:

Lamborghini Gallardio LP560-4

Lamborghini Gallardio LP560-4

Lamborghini Gallardio LP560-4

Lamborghini Gallardio LP560-4

Here’s a couple that were hooked up that I saw at SEMA in Las Vegas:

Modified Lamborghini Gallardio LP560-4

2009 Nissan 370Z First Thoughts

I’m a big fan of the Nissan Z, it’s a great performing and looking car for a great price. In fact, I had a 2004 Nissan 350Z that I put a lot of work into before getting into the Viper (See progression of vehicles):

For 2009, Nissan is redesigning the Z, putting a 3.7 liter V6, hence the 370Z instead of the 350Z. Nissan fans have all been waiting to see what the new look be released as. Nissan has finally released official pictures of the car, and even shown it at a couple meets:

As you can see there are a lot of changes that were made to the car, although it is visibly still a 350Z. We can see some resemblance to other Nissan vehicles such as the new Maxima in the headlighs and taillights, as well as the new GT-R in the window/hatch shape. I love the large opening at the front of the car, it makes everything look so agressive. Even though I like it, I saw a lot of complaints about it looking like a fish, which I can see. What I don’t like are the wheels, but who doesn’t change those anyway ;)

The integrated spoiler looks clean, it melds well with the wider fenders. Looks aren’t the only thing changed on the new Z. As mentioned earlier, the 370Z now features the VQ37, a 3.7 liter 332hp V6. On top of the improved power, the car also weighs less than its previous generation, which I would imagine will make quite the difference.

Don’t forget about the interior, which looks much improved. This is probably one of the most talked about improvements so far because it used to be one of the most complained about aspects. The Z is a budget sports car, but the new interior looks great in the pictures. I’m looking forward to see it in person, I’d like to see it in person

Take a look at the following pictures and video for a better idea of how the new Z looks. Jalopnik also did an excellent design dissection that you should gander.

(Pictures from Autoblog)

Ford 2009 F150 Event Day 2

Day 2 of the 2009 Ford F150 event was definitely the day where we had the most fun. It gave me a chance to fully experience and understand the capability of the truck. The day started at 6am where we had breakfast at the hotel. By 7:30 we arrived at Michigan Proving Grounds, an impressive area of all sorts of test tracks and development facilities owned by Ford:

Michigan Proving Grounds

There were four different driving events throughout the day, I??ll cover each one separately. The first event for my group was off road??which was by far the most fun, and the one where we pushed the F150 the most. I had never been off-roading before, so I was looking forward to this. The off road track was amazing, there was everything from huge mud pits to dirt hills which we had to climb. The snake pit was the most challenging section, we had two opportunities to try and make it through. The area consisted of a big hill you climb up, and then come back down into a giant area of deep mud. Getting through successfully was all about giving the truck lots of gas, and hitting the right lines in the mud.

The first pass, I didn??t give it enough gas, which led me to get stuck right in the middle. Fortunately Ford had a truck on standby to pull me out. The second time around, I gunned it, hit the right lines, and was able to make it through. Here??s a couple good pictures from this event:

Mud pit at Michigan Proving Grounds

F150 off-roading

F150 off-roading

F150 off-roading

The next event was the trailer tow, where we drove the 09 Ford F150, 09 Chevy Silverado, 09 Dodge Ram, and 08 Toyota Tundra with a trailer behind each truck??oh and did I mention the 8,000 pounds we were towing? We drove the trucks on a track which gave us the ability to see how the trucks were able to accelerate up hill and handle on turns. There were a few great technologies which some of the trucks had (the F150 was the only one that had them all) that really made towing a trailer easy. Those included:

  • Tow-Haul Mode ?? A driving mode which adjusts the RPMs correctly to downshift at the correct times
  • Integrated Trailer Brake Controller ?? This was one of the most noticeable features, something I??m surprised hasn??t been standard in the past. Normally an aftermarket unit is installed, and essentially it tells the trailer you are towing to brake when you hit the brakes. The problem with the aftermarket units is that there is a slight delay because of the way that they do this, so when you hit the brakes, you??ll actually feel the trailer come towards you for a second before it slows down as well. Same deal with when you are accelerating. The F150 integrates this from the factory, and the way they do it, there is no delay.
  • Trailer Sway Control ?? This does exactly what it sounds like. We were able to swerve the trucks while going about 50 mph downhill with the 8,000 trailers behind us…no problems.

Trucks towing

Trucks towing

Afterwards we went back to one of the facilities for a nice lunch, and then it was off to the next event. This time we covered durability/safety. The test for this was taking the trucks through a straight track which had a variety of things like large cobblestones in the road. Driving over this drastically effects the drivability, and shows you where each truck was able to excel. The Toyota Tundra was by far the worst in this category, some of the bumps would cause the bed of the truck to hit the cab!

F150 on stone creek

You can see a video comparing the F150 and the Tundra here…notice how the Tundra cab is all over the place:

The last event was hauling where we took each truck on an autocross course with 850 pounds of weight in the bed. I enjoyed this event, and was able to get a great idea as to what the trucks were capable of handling, regardless of all the weight in the back. There were certain sections which we were to go a set speed, this way we could compare each truck as unbiased as possible. I was amazed at how well the trucks handled, especially the F150. If you remember when I had tested the 09 Ford vehicles, I was also impressed with how some of their bigger vehicles like the Flex handled on the track. After I tested each truck, I took the F150 out for one more lap driving it as hard as I possibly could. The truck handled amazing, I was floored.

Trucks autocross

Afterwards I hopped on a shuttle, and made my way back to VA. Once again, I??d like to thank Ford for the opportunity to drive and learn about their vehicles. I’d also like to thank Dorri from If It’s Got An Engine and Matt from Ford for some of the pictures that were used above.

Ford 2009 F150 Event Day 1

If you remember, a few months ago I was invited over to Ford in Michigan to check out all of their upcoming 09 vehicles. The one vehicle we did not test was the new F150 pickup truck. Yesterday I arrived at Ford to take a look.

I arrived at Detroit Airport, and we headed over to the Rouge plant for a little presentation. After the presentation, we ate some lunch, and then were given a tour of the plant. This was the first time I had ever had the opportunity to take a look at how the production for the F150 was done. We literally saw each step, and it was something that just blew my mind. The facility alone is about 1.5 million sq/ft, it was monstrous!? It’s really hard to imagine how a car manufacturer can make a vehicle profitable. Here’s a few pictures for your enjoyment:

Ford Rouge plant

Ford Rouge plant

Ford Rouge plant

Ford Rouge plant

After checkout the plant, we headed over to another plant and we were able to see some of the training facilities and going over the new features on the new F150.

Ford F150 wiring harness

Then it was time for some driving!? We took the 2008 F150 and drove it about 40 miles to a Ford dealership, where we got into 2009 F150′s for comparison sake. The difference between the two F150′s is night and day, and the 09 is a huge improvement. There are some really cool technology improvements from aerodynamics to interior that really made some drastic differences.

I was able to drive the new F150 for about 80 miles before we got to our hotel in Romeo, MI (The Royal Park Hotel). It really gave me the opportunity to get a true feeling of the car, and it honestly makes me want one…and I’m not even a truck guy.

We got back to the hotel, which I made is ridiculously nice!? Check out a couple pics of my room:

Royal Park hotel room

Royal Park hotel room

Royal Park hotel room

Royal Park hotel room

Once I put my bags in my room, I headed back down for some cocktails, and a little bit of demo’ing of Ford’s Work Solutions. This is a really neat edition for the F150 meant for working professionals, and in reality more specifically to contractors and construction workers. There are a variety of nifty features worth mentioning:

  • Cable lock system – Ford listened to their customers and found that tool theft was a pretty common occurrence. The cable lock system allows owners to wire lock their tools (or anything else like a dirt bike) in the bed of the truck.
  • The coolest part is the new computer system option up front. The system allows you do anything from get on the internet, to remote desktop, to printing an invoice for a customer on the spot. You can read more here.
  • Crew Chief – This is a system that uses RFID tags. You would simply stick an RFID tag on your tools, and then program them into your car. As long as the tool is in the bed, it will show up on the system up front. This way you will always know you have everything you need. You can even setup specific jobs, for example drywall. You can setup all of the tools you’ll need for drywall, and then it will ensure that all your tools are in the truck when you start your job…as well as leave.

After a couple of drinks, it was time for some more food. We had a great dinner, and at the end Ford raffled away a new Dewalt saw, which I happened to win!

That concludes a great first day, and tomorrow sounds like it may even be better. We’ll be spending the day at the Michigan proving grounds driving the F150 on the track and really putting the truck to the test. I’m really looking forward to it.

Exotic Cars Of Monte Carlo

If you ever visit Monte Carlo, you’ll be amazed by the number of exotic cars that will be driving around. In the period of about an hour, I probably saw 200 or so Ferrari’s. Here’s a little picture gallery of some of the different cars that I saw while in the city…this is tens of millions of dollars worth of cars:

Bentley convertible:

Bentley Convertible

GT3 Porsche – This was owned by the guy that owns the company where we went parasailing and jet skiing.

Mercedes SL65 AMG

SLR Mercedes

Ferrari F430 Scuderia

See more exotic cars pictures from Monte Carlo >>

Semi-Live Blogging: Ford Upcoming Model Event

Monday 11:41pm

I’m going to try and do something a little different with this post, and do a sort of semi-live blogging post.

Ford is flying me out to Dearborn, MI (Home of their headquarters) for their 2009 upcoming model event. What’s in store is pretty much a surprise to me at this point, so I’ll be blogging about the trip as it goes on. What I do know is that the itinerary says this:

Please note that Wednesday will be spent at the track and no shorts or open toed shoes are allowed.

Track time? Sounds awesome to me! I’ll be arriving in Michigan around 6pm, at which point I’ll make my way over to the hotel. They’re keeping me at the Dearborn Inn, which was originally built by Henry Ford to house dignitaries. With 23 acres, 3 restaurants, and much more, it should be a pretty nice place to crash for a night. When I arrive to the hotel, I’ll receive a detailed itinerary of events, so I’ll update when I find out more about what’s going on. I’m definitely looking forward to playing with Ford’s Sync system (powered by Microsoft), as I haven’t really seen one in person before.

In the meantime, bookmark this post as I will update it throughout the trip when I can. Hopefully there will be some internet access at the hotel! I have to go pack!

Tuesday 1:56pm

I’m about to head off to the airport in an hour, I should be reporting back in when I arrive to the hotel.

Tuesday 6:33pm

Just arrived at the hotel, it’s pretty nice. I walked in, got my room key, and walked up to my room, so I haven’t had a chance to explore yet. The hotel is old, but newly renovated, here’s a shot of my room:

Hotel room at Dearborn Inn

My window faces the back of the hotel, where you can see they’ve setup an outdoor dinner event which starts in an hour. Before dinner there will be 30 minutes of cocktails:

I’m thinking about maybe renting a car after dinner and heading down to MGM Grand in Detroit (Most people don’t know there are casinos in Detroit) so I can get some gambling in…but I need to be up pretty early for tomorrow’s events.

Speaking of tomorrow’s events, I just got an itinerary. In the morning we’ll be doing breakfast, followed by a little overview with Ford’s Vice President of Product Development, Derrick Kuzak. Afterwards we’ll be doing a few different events, including some track time with a variety of Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury’s 2009 model year lineup. There will be final remarks by Mark Fields, President of the Americas, and then it’s back to Virginia.

The flight over here was good, we got here really quickly. I shared a limo to the hotel with a fellow that writes for publications such as Motor Trend, Automotive Engineering, and Popular Science, so we had an interesting conversation. I definitely feel like the newb :)

Stay tuned for further updates.

Tuesday 9:43pm

Just got back from our dinner event, had a blast. Basically shot the shit with a bunch of guys I’d only imagine talking casually with. The food was pretty good, there was a good variety of things like chicken, fish, salad, sausage, pulled pork…and open bar. Basically just met a bunch of people in the automotive industry and talked shop. I also had a chance to walk around the hotel a bit…here’s a few more pictures:

My cab just arrived to take me over to the MGM Grand Casino in Detroit, so I have to run. It should be a fun day waking up tomorrow at 6am…we’ll see what time I actually get to sleep tonight!

Wednesday 1:51am

Just got back from MGM Grand. I really wanted to play Texas hold em, but they only had no limit tables…and I’m a limit kinda guy :) Ended up playing roulette the entire time, walked away up a little bit.

I also finally got a shot of the lobby of the hotel…very elegant looking:

It’s time for me to get some sleep since I have to wake up in 4 hours. Tomorrow should be a day of fun stuff, so stay tuned!

Wednesday 6:04am

Awake now, running on maybe 3.5 hours of sleep!

Wednesday 12:02pm/10:35pm

Finally getting a chance to get on the computer, but don’t have any internet access, so I’m writing this now and will update live when I get back to VA. We just finished the first half of events as well as lunch.

After waking up this morning, I headed down to the restaurant in the hotel for breakfast. Afterwards, we all took a shuttle down to Ford’s testing grounds, which was literally across the street. They do all sorts of things here from wind tunnel testing to driving an F150 on a watered down test area (which they were doing!) to camouflaged vehicles that haven’t been released yet being tested.

The grounds are impressive, with all sorts of test tracks and facilities setup. Let me go through the order of events we went through.

The first event that we did was under a tent where we got to see a bunch of presentations from a few departments at Ford that targeted quality & safety. There was a couple neat things here worth highlighting:

This was a neat virtualization software Ford was using to train people how to spray paint better. They literally had a real spray gun that you would use on the screen, you wanted to get an even green color for a good, even coat of paint. Blue was too little, and red was too much. They could even make it so it just shows you how the paint would look, but then they would turn on the pressure map. Even something that looked perfect, could actually have imperfections in the thickness. While 100% of the exterior paint work is done robotically, about 10% of interior paint is still done by hand. This was a great way to ensure good work.

Most of us have seen how they do movements in sports video games like Madden and Tiger Woods golf…they use those motion sensing suits. Ford has applied the same technology where they could see how workers would use body movements to complete tasks, and then make things more efficient:

We saw a chassis from Ford Racing that was updated to improve NHRA safety standards after analyzing an accident that their own driver was in. Here were the improvements made to the chassis you can see in the picture below:

  • The yellow area was widened and foam was added to the sides in order to better protect the head of the driver
  • The blue area was added to make the area where the driver is more protective
  • A sort of black box was added which records all of the information for the race. Ford Racing developed this box, and is now used by all teams in the NHRA.

The next event, we took out a ton of different vehicles, and just drove them around a cones course that was setup. Driving the Mustang Bullit was a blast, but I was really impressed by the Flex. The Flex is this unique vehicle that is an overall large crossover, but it handled much better than I could have ever imagined. I was also really impressed with the Lincoln MKS. First of all, it’s just a great looking vehicle. It has the luxury class, while also looking sporty and aggressive at the same time. I also got to drive the Escape hybrid, which was my first time experiencing a hybrid vehicle. On top of that, it was the first car I was in that used the Microsoft Sync system I mentioned earlier. I was impressed with two things. First of all, the Escape interior with the Sync system was just awesome. A buddy of mine used to have an Escape, and it was horrible, everything was in the wrong place, and it just looked cheap. What a change!? The other impressive thing was that the hybrid engine was capable of staying in electric mode up to 40mph (it used to be 25mph). That’s awesome for people like cabbies who are driving around in the city, I’m sure they could get some crazy mpg numbers.

Here’s a video of the course:

After the cone course we headed back in for lunch. While eating, Dan Kapp, Director of Advanced Research & Engineering came up to speak about Ford’s plans with something called EcoBoost. EcoBoost is a great movement for Ford, and I expect other manufacturers to do similar. EcoBoost is essentially the concept of using a smaller turbo’d engine that can put out more power, get better fuel economy, and have a smaller carbon footprint over a larger naturally aspirated engine. So the idea is that instead of buying a V8 F150, you would buy a turbocharged (EcoBoost) V6 F150 which has more power than the V8 and gets better fuel economy. That’s a win-win situation…and turbo cars are just simply fun to drive :)

The food was good too, they had a variety of salads, sandwiches, and awesome desserts…I’ll let you salivate with a snapshot of the desserts (different types of mousse and cheesecake lollipops):

Next it was on to the “Green & Smart” tent where Ford discussed how it was going more green, as well as highlighting some pretty neat new technologies they were embracing. The green aspect had a lot to do with EcoBoost, but also how they were using bio materials like soy beans and hemp to make things like the foam in your seats. One of the major benefits and things they are working towards is making a car last, but once it’s junked, it doesn’t just sit there and pollute, but rather it can completely decomposite within just 60-90 days. Neat stuff!

There were a few technologies that really stood out to me and I want to highlight:

Ford Sync

I mentioned before that I was excited to play around with this. I got a chance to really get into the system and see everything it can do. All I can say is that I want it in my car. It is an insanely awesome and intuitive system, that I can imagine once you have, it would be hard to not have in your next car. It’s an entire multimedia center, from being able to play DVD’s, to playing music from basically any option (cd, dvd, aux input aka iPod/mp3 player, built-in hard drive, thumb drive, etc), to much much more. This next generation of Sync utilizes Sirius Travel Link, which is essentially a data feed from Sirius that can do things like give you real-time traffic, weather, sports score, movie listings, and even a list of the closest gas stations to you…along with the gas price there. You can easily find the cheapest gas near you!? There is just so much this system can do, and I can only recommend you get to your Ford dealership and play with it yourself to get the full experience. I don’t know why all cars don’t have something like this. The other cool thing is that it’s an actually an option in an entry-level Focus, whereas normally technology like this starts in high-end cars and eventually works its way down.

Blind Spot Mirrors

This is such a simple concept, and I have no idea why it hasn’t been integrated into all cars…but here it finally is. Blind spot mirrors. Between the name and the following picture, it requires no other explanation:

Next Generation Keypads

I’m sure you know how a lot of Ford vehicles have that ugly keypad that lets you unlock the doors. While it’s very functional, it doesn’t look too good. Ford has a Lincoln MKS on display that showed the next generation of the keypad, which is built into the b-pillar and uses touch sensitivity instead of standard buttons. It works like an iPhone, and only lights up when you touch it. Now it looks awesome, and it’s just as functional. While you can see it in the below picture, it was only because of the flash, in reality it blends in to barely noticeable when not lit up:

The last even was on the actual track, and was by far the most fun of the events. We had the same slew of vehicles (including a couple new ones like the Lincoln MKX and the Edge Sport (which handled amazingly well)), but this time were on a real road racing course.? I was able to really push the cars to the limits. Some of the drives we even had people that were on the product development team for the vehicle we were driving in the car. It was interesting to talk to them about developing the car I was actually driving. On top of everything, they had a couple of the upcoming F150′s on display (not for driving) which looks great in person:

Afterwards we closed up with a little speech from Mark Fields, President of Ford North & South America.

I had a great time at the event, and I can honestly say that I have a new appreciation for some of the Ford vehicles, what they stand for, the passion of their employees, and the direction they are taking the company.

Any other manufacturers care to invite me to their similar press events?? Just say the word :)