The Virtual Driver

Nineteen Seventy-Six: A time for heroes

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(April 14, 2013) In the summer of 1976, I was fresh out of high school, and an avid fan of Formula One. My brother Bill had stoked the interest in racing, but we all grew up interested in cars as a result of dad being an engineer at Ford. With five older brothers (including Bill) and two favorite colors (black and blue, you can guess why), I grew up in a house where Road & Track, Car and Driver and AutoWeek were voraciously read (again, thanks to Bill) and both Dan
Gurney and Jim Clark were heroes.

Analog trumps digital in the reality stakes

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(April 7, 2013) This is the first of a couple of Nissan videos I stumbled across, and know you’ll enjoy. It shows Hiroshi Kato and Naoki Maekawa sculpting the new Nissan Note clay model. Note the Sumo sculpture in the foreground made of modeling clay in the picture below.

The Virtual Driver pits '13 Ford Fusion SE against '13 Toyota Camry XLE

By Christopher A. Sawyer
The Virtual Driver

(April 3, 2013) I’ll state it up front: This isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. The Toyota Camry is a top of the line XLE, while the Fusion is the mid-grade SE model. Had they both been top of the line models comparably equipped, the Toyota would have carried a significant price advantage; an advantage that would be considerably smaller if the comparison was SE to SE.

Invisible trailers, automated vehicles and more

THE VIRTUAL DRIVER
By Christopher A. Sawyer

(March 24, 2013) BRIMLEY, Mich. — Brimley is a small town about half an hour outside of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan on the upper edge of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The Soo, the phonetic spelling of Sault, is home to shipping, fishing, and is a small town with a few tourist trap overtones. Busiest in the spring, summer and fall when the Soo Locks between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes are operating, it’s a cold and desolate place in the dead of winter; the combination of flat land, deep snow and plentiful pine trees making it an interesting cross between Bavaria and… Kansas.

2013 Ford Explorer Sport 4WD — Coming up short

THE VIRTUAL DRIVER
By Christopher A. Sawyer

(March 19, 2013) The Ford Explorer is built on a shortened version of the same platform as the Flex, a vehicle designed to replace both the Freestyle/Taurus X crossovers and the Freestar minivan with a single vehicle built off a stretched version of Volvo’s D4 platform. That is, the same platform used by the unloved Freestyle/Taurus X.

Honda to power McLaren F1 from 2015?

THE VIRTUAL DRIVER
By Christopher A. Sawyer

(March 15, 2013) At least, that’s what Autosport’s sources are saying. This would reunite two companies that dominated Formula 1 from 1988-1992, a partnership that arose during Grand Prix racing’s last turbo era.

LaWhat?

THE VIRTUAL DRIVER
By Christopher A. Sawyer

(March 8, 2013) You almost have to wonder if they let some 1950s PR hack — or the vacuous Paris Hilton — name the new Ferrari just prior to the Geneva Motor Show, and after an all-nighter. Yet Ferrari’s President, Luca di Montezemolo, claims the LaFerrari name came about, “because it is the maximum expression of what defines our company – excellence.”

Hybrids and EVs: Cutting through the BS with Jon Bereisa

THE VIRTUAL DRIVER
By Christopher A. Sawyer

(March 5, 2013) Jon Bereisa is a GM retiree, but not just any GM retiree. He was the Systems Architect responsible for the extended range electric vehicle we now call the Chevy Volt. Before that, he was the Chief Engineer, Propulsion Systems on the EV1 electric vehicle and S10 electric pickup.

Cruising the Autobahn at speed… in 1938

THE VIRTUAL DRIVER
By Christopher A. Sawyer

(February 25, 2013) On January 28, Mercedes celebrated the 75th anniversary of a speed record that stands to this day: 432.7 km/h (268.9 mph). The two-way average was set by Mercedes Silver Arrows driver Rudolf Caracciola on the then-new German autobahn between Frankfurt and Darmstadt, and included a one-way top speed of 436.7 km/h (271.4 mph).

One part Alfa, One part Maserati and coming to America

THE VIRTUAL DRIVER
By Christopher A. Sawyer

(February 22, 2013) The announcement that Fiat would sell the Alfa 4C in the U.S. later this year comes as no surprise. This, after all, is the car on which company CEO Sergio Marchionne is pinning the global relaunch of the Alfa Romeo marque; one that recently has been seen running around southeastern Michigan in various stages of disguise.