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Carroll Shelby, legendary car builder and racing champion, dies at age 89

Carroll Shelby, an international automotive icon who rose from a bed-ridden childhood in Texas to build one of the most iconic sports cars ever and become a world-champion racer died Thursday at the age of 89 after a lengthy illness. His cars will live forever.

A winner at Le Mans in 1959, a driver in everything from Formula 1 to the Bonneville Salt Flats, Shelby’s lasting impact will be the cars he built, namely the Shelby Cobra 427 that beat Ferrari in Europe and his variations of the Ford Mustang that he was involved with from the 1960s through his death.

Throughout his career, Shelby battled and overcame his physical limitations, from racing crashes to a congenital heart defect that required several surgeries and eventually a heart transplant in 1990.

Born Jan. 11, 1923, in Leesburg, Texas, Shelby was the son of a rural mail carrier. After being confined to bed for much of his first several years, his heart grew strong enough for Shelby to take an interest in cars. During World War II, Shelby served as a flying instructor, and wrote letters to his fiancée by putting them in flying boots he’d drop on her farm.

Married with children after the war, Shelby began a racing career that quickly rose to international acclaim. After rushing to the track for his early races wearing the same bib overalls he wore at his chicken farm, the look became his trademark. Sports Illustrated named him driver of the year in 1956, and Shelby wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1959.

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Ford prices 2013 Focus ST from $24,495* [UPDATE: Configurator launches]

UPDATE: The Focus ST has officially been added to Ford’s configurator. Click here to build one yourself.

Well now, the inexpensive performance game just got considerably more interesting. Ford has officially dropped pricing on its upcoming 2013 Focus ST, and it starts at $24,495 (*including a $795 delivery charge). That kind of coin will net you a EcoBoost 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine good for a whopping 252 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque, along with a torque-steer compensation system that works in conjunction with electronic power steering to keep the nose pointed in the right direction. If you’re keeping track, those power metrics are slightly north of the figures Ford had previously released. A variable-ratio steering rack toes the line between sport and comfort while the sport suspension sits the chassis 10 mm closer to the ground than the stock configuration.

That fire-spitting four-cylinder breathes easy through a free-flowing exhaust, and interior options like Recaro bucket seats give the cabin a little pedigree. Of course, massive wheels and plenty of aero work are both part of the package as well. What’s more, Ford says it will give early buyers a GoPro HD Hero2 Motorsports camera when they pick up the keys. Sweet.

The entry price puts the Focus ST well below fellow front-drive competitors like the Volkswagen GTI and Mazdaspeed3, but within spitting distance of playful hardware like the Toyobaru twins and the all-wheel drive Subaru WRX. Suddenly, it appears we live in a world where cheap speed is in abundance.



At 662 HP, 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 Certified as World’s Most Powerful V8! Segment-Leading Fuel Efficiency

DEARBORN, Mich., April 26, 2012, – The all-new supercharged 5.8-liter powerplant in the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 has been officially SAE-certified as the most powerful series production V8 in the world with peak output of 662 horsepower and 631 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s more power and torque than low volume sports cars costing tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the GT500, which is the most fuel-efficient vehicle in its segment. In fact the 2013 GT500 is the most fuel-efficient car with over 550 horsepower in any segment available in America.
Unlike high-strung engines found in much more expensive exotic supercars, the GT500 engine generates its massive thrust throughout its operating range with 395 lb.-ft. of torque available just off idle at 1,000 rpm. More than 90 percent of the peak torque is available from 2,200 to 5,800 rpm so that no matter when you squeeze the go pedal, the GT500 will just get up and run.
The combination of the new TVS 2.3-liter supercharger, twin overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder ensures this stallion can breathe all the way to 7,000 rpm with the peak power production coming at 6,500 rpm and holding fairly steady right to the rev limit.
“Our goal is to create outstanding all-around performance cars, not just stoplight-to-stoplight sprinters,” said Jamal Hameedi, SVT chief engineer. “We’ve backed up this amazing powerplant with a more refined chassis tuning that helps keep the rubber on the pavement without punishing the driver’s spine and six-pot Brembo brakes that dissipate speed with ease stop after stop.”
The broad, flat torque curve of the GT500 engine makes it tractable and easy to drive whether trolling along in traffic or powering out of a turn on a twisting country road. With more than enough grunt to push the coupe to 200 mph and beyond, the chassis has been tuned to absorb the road imperfections that can cause instability at high speeds. The revised front fascia and splitter help manage the flow of air around and under the GT500 so that it offers 33 percent more effective aero loading at 160 mph compared to the 2011 model and feels more firmly planted.

All-New Ford Escape with EcoBoost Engine EPA-Certified at 33 MPG, the Most Fuel Efficient Small SUV on Market

The new Ford Escape is certified by the U.S. EPA as the most fuel efficient small SUV with an automatic. The Escape’s 1.6-liter EcoBoost® engine is certified at 33 mpg – 2 mpg better than the Honda CR-V and 5 mpg better than Toyota RAV4.

All three engines in the new Escape are EPA-certified at 30-plus mpg on the highway. The 2.0-liter EcoBoost, certified at 30 mpg on the highway, beats the Toyota RAV4 by 3 mpg and the Chevrolet Equinox by 6 mpg.

“The fuel economy of the all-new Escape showcases the continued success of Ford’s development of smaller, yet more powerful engines,” said Raj Nair, group vice president, Ford Global Product Development. “Ford understands people want fuel-efficient vehicles without sacrificing power and space requirements.”

Escape’s 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine – offered for the first time in North America – delivers 33 mpg highway and 23 mpg city, produces 178 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque, topping the Mazda CX-5 by more than 20 horsepower and 30 lb.-ft. of torque.

Those looking for maximum power coupled with solid fuel efficiency can opt for the 2.0-liter EcoBoost with 30 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg in the city. The 2.0-liter EcoBoost delivers 240 horsepower and 270 lb.-ft. of torque. It is also rated at 3,500 pounds towing, which leads the pack for small, turbocharged SUVs.

The Escape’s 2.5-liter offers 31 mpg on the highway – a 3 mpg improvement over the outgoing standard engine – and 22 mpg in the city.

EcoBoost engines are standard in the SE, SEL and Titanium editions. The SE and SEL models come with the 1.6L standard and the Titanium comes with the 2.0-liter.  The 2.5-liter is available in the S edition.

With the EPA certification, the Escape is the latest vehicle to join Ford’s fuel-efficient lineup. Ford now offers eight vehicles with 40 mpg or more and 11 vehicles with fuel-efficient EcoBoost engines.

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2013 Ford Explorer Sport: Basically, An SHO

The 2013 Ford Explorer, with its dramatic looks and somewhat less inspiring performance, has been due a truly potent version, some might say, since the V-8 of the last model died with it. AsFord’s solution to the V-8 power requirement while delivering (slightly) better fuel economy, the V-6 EcoBoost engine makes good sense.

But does it make sense in the Explorer? Dynamically, it’s uninspiring–particularly when compared to the likes of the Flex, or even the Edge. But more power means more towing, better highway passing, and more overall flexibility, as well as more money at the pump–the Explorer Sport only yields 16 mpg city and 22 mpg highway. Ford says it’s the most efficient high-performance SUV on the market.

Those with an eye to minimizing the Explorer’s thirst already have a good option, however: the smaller EcoBoost brother, the 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Rated at 28 mpg highway, that smaller EcoBoost engine is on the very efficient end of the spectrum for conventional crossover SUVs.

The larger direct-injection 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 won’t deliver such friendly figures, but those with a taste for power will find the tradeoff sweet: 350 horsepower in place of 240. Driving all four wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission, it’s basically an Explorer SHO–especially since the Explorer and Taurus share some of their architecture as well. It’s two full seconds quicker to 60 mph than the fastest non-Sport Explorer.

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Ford Defends Fleet Sales, Boosts Market Share of Bulk Business

Ford Motor Co. (F), which sells more than three out of every 10 vehicles to fleet buyers, has boosted its share of U.S. fleet market to 27 percent, from 22 percent five years ago.

“It’s a very productive and profitable business,” Kevin Koswick, director of Ford’s North American fleet, lease and remarketing operations, said today in Detroit in a speech to the Automotive Press Association. “It’s something that’s good for our business.”

Ford sold 675,901 cars and trucks to fleet buyers last year, according to Koswick. About 41 percent of those vehicles went to daily rental companies, which buy in bulk and typically pay less than individual customers. Ford depends less on sales to rental companies thanGeneral Motors Co. (GM) (GM) and Chrysler Group, LLC and attempts to take a “balanced” approach to protect resale values, Koswick said.

“We’re very disciplined about what we want to do,” Koswick said in response to a question about the stigma of the rental lot hurting resale values of Ford models. “I don’t see it as an issue as long as you manage your fleet and you’re balanced in what you do.”

Koswick valued the industrywide U.S. fleet business, including government and commercial sales, at $57 billion last year. Ford and other U.S. automakers have attempted to back away from rental-car sales, which generate lower profit margins.

Ford slid 1.3 percent to $12.32 at the close in New York.

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The Geek Dream Car: Project Detroit Brings Windows 8 and Kinect to a Mustang

What do you get when you cross a retro Ford Mustang with the finest of new technology, such as Microsoft Kinect and a variety of other Windows services? A dream car that can’t possibly exist. Fortunately, it is very much real, thanks to West Coast Customs.

The California-based car customizers teamed up with Microsoft to create this impressive car, currently named Project Detroit. The car itself is actually a 2012 Ford Mustang in a 1967 Mustang fastback body, modded with neon blue under-car lighting. The best part, though, is what’s going on inside the car.

First off, you can remotely locate, lock, and unlock the car using the Viper SmartStart app on a Windows Phone. Once you’re inside the car, the dashboard greets you with a whole load of awesome: In addition to Ford SYNC, a Windows 8 touchscreen on the passenger’s of the dash side lets a passenger play on Xbox without distracting the driver, surf the Web, or pull up Bing maps-to give you directions or find the nearest restaurant so you don’t have to.

The car also has a heads-up display on the windshield. Plus, for extra entertainment, when you park, the rear windshield doubles as a projector for playing Xbox Kinect.

Continue reading ‘The Geek Dream Car: Project Detroit Brings Windows 8 and Kinect to a Mustang’

News and Events for the Ford or Lincoln owner and enthusiast.

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