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Google's Waymo to launch driverless taxi service in two months

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Shaftesbury secures Sky-backed 'Pass On Plastic' pop-up for Beak St

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2019 BMW M5

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The 2019 BMW M5 high-performance sedan gives us all of the feels. The digital wizardry from the last generation is still there, but this year’s version integrates the human into the experience. It’s a better feeling super sedan on a super budget. For 2019, BMW added an M5 Competition version that bumps power output to 617 horsepower...
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Galliford Try goes to the dogs to deliver 200 new homes in Birmingham

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Galliford Try has announced plans to partner with housing association WM Housing to convert the former Hall Green dog racing stadium into 200 new homes in Birmingham.
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Reuben brothers and Shiva to develop new hotel in Soho

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David and Simon Reuben have entered into a joint venture with Shiva Hotels to develop a new hotel across two separate sites they have recently acquired in Soho.
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Unilever's Bedford base hits market for £66m

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Palmer Capital and Wrenbridge have put Colworth Park, home to one of Unilever’s global research and development campuses, on the market for £66m.
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'Quarter of high street space dedicated to F&B', report finds

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JLL’s Evans to head up Cushman’s industrial team

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L&G receives planning to convert 'Dragon's Den' into offices

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Kier 'on track' after property team shake-up

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2019 Lamborghini Urus Review (W/Video): The Age of Exploration

Motortrend News Feed - 8 hours 41 min ago

The driver’s window was down long before he stopped next to me, so I rolled mine down. Clearly, he wanted to talk, but the driver stared at me a few seconds first. Then his eyebrows raised, but his face otherwise remained deadpan. Over the clatter of his diesel, finally: “Holy s–t.”

It was a common sentiment, if not always so eloquent. In a land where “Super Jeeps” like his—all 40-plus-inch tires and snaking snorkels up the windshield pillars—are a common sight, my Lamborghini Urus attracted as much attention as Ed Sheeran, who’d recently added a second night to his debut Icelandic performance due to popular demand (fun fact: Iceland has half the population of Vermont).

That it was, as far as I could tell, the only yellow vehicle on the island certainly contributed.

For an automaker looking to make a splash in the frigid North Atlantic, that’s reason enough for us to be here. Being the first X to do Y always gets attention, and Lamborghinis are all about attention. In a place where sports cars are nonexistent and luxury cars appear to be outnumbered by American heavy-duty pickups (seriously), the locals took up a nationwide game of “spot the Lamborghini” on Snapchat.

Lamborghini doesn’t have an Icelandic distributor, and it’s not because Iceland threw all the bankers in jail a few years ago for transgressions related to the Great Recession. There’s simply never been any good reason to import one. With a maximum national speed limit of 56 mph (90 kph) and more gravel roads than paved ones, it’s not supercar country. That the long, harsh winters wreak havoc on the roads they do have only reinforces the argument against it.

Why are we here, then, other than novelty? Because this is only the second time in the company’s history there’s a reason to be. And really, the first time around only resulted in 300-odd “Rambo Lambos” worldwide, so the likelihood of one making it out here was so low as to be inconsequential. The Urus, though, is predicted to double Lamborghini’s global sales, and it’s capable of doing that specifically because it’s designed for places Lamborghinis don’t go.

Places like this.

I wince at the thought of pulling a supercar onto a dirt shoulder. Getting it dirty is bad enough, but what if the edge of the pavement isn’t level with the dirt and I bottom out? It’s not something you think about when driving the Urus, or at least you shouldn’t. After all, it’s an SUV, and it shares its bones with the Bentley Bentayga, Porsche Cayenne, and Audi Q7, all of which have proven themselves capable off-roaders. Still, there’s a mental hurdle tall enough to require pole vaulting before you just wing it into the dirt.

Part of that is knowing the smallest wheels you can get on an Urus are 21 inches, and even the custom-made winter tires only have rubber band–thick 35-section sidewalls. The other part is knowing Iceland is composed entirely of lava rock, which might as well be called razor rock. I’d successfully compartmentalized such concerns for several hours before our Lamborghini support staff thought to mention his pickup didn’t have any spare tires in the back of it. I probably should’ve asked, or at least looked.

By that point, I’d been ripping up and down the long, winding dirt road to a remote campsite for more than an hour, crashing through deep potholes and powering up steep, narrow passes. In fact, I’m glad he waited to tell me, because by then I was confident the Pirelli Scorpion Winters were as tough as the rest of the vehicle.

It would’ve been easy enough to shred one if I was feeling masochistic. Just a bit of rock crawling would’ve done it—and busted up the lower half of the vehicle for good measure. Air suspension and a maximum of 9.8 inches of ground clearance be damned, the Urus is very clearly the Lamborghini of SUVs. The way it looks, the sound it makes, the way it slams gears in a straight line, they all make it very clear: The Urus is about being fast first and an off-roader second.

Which makes its off-road abilities that much more impressive, frankly. The third thing the Super Jeep driver asked me, after engine size and price, was how it was holding up in Iceland. “Oh, it’s fine,” I said. It was. By the time we met, I’d spent two days roaming the southwest corner of the island, banging down back roads over and over to make sure the videographer got the shot. We never needed a spare tire, or anything else but fuel, for that matter.

It wasn’t just sturdy, though. It was actually fun. When an automaker sends you to an off-road course, you can bet it’s been pre-run a dozen times to make sure the vehicle can handle it, if not deliberately designed to the vehicle’s capabilities. This time, though, Lamborghini didn’t ask where I was going, and I didn’t tell. If the Urus were nothing but a big, yellow mall crawler, it would’ve been obvious pretty quickly. Instead, it was a 641-hp, carbon-fiber WRX.

Even on studless snow tires, the grip impressed in the dirt. Each wheel digs in and goes, letting you drive it like a nose-heavy rally car. As we’ve reported previously, the Urus is incredibly stable off-road and doesn’t respond to Scandinavian flicks. It does push, though, if you muscle it into a corner, a relic of its Audi-derived, engine-forward layout. It’s easy enough to drive around. Finish your braking ahead of the corner, let the grip carry you through, and stand on the throttle when you unwind the wheel. The stability control’s “off-road” setting doesn’t let you get away with much, but the Urus is so completely predictable that you don’t worry at all about turning it off. Goose the throttle midcorner, and you can hang the tail out with good old-fashioned power oversteer, but it would really rather just go. Let up on the power just a little, and it comes right back in line and shoots you down the road.

Does a Lamborghini have any right to do that, though? Yes, actually. Really, Lamborghini is the only supercar builder with any historical claim to SUV heritage, and the Urus has more in common with the LM002 than you might think. The Urus is, of course, the first Lamborghini SUV since the LM, but it’s also the first Lamborghini with a front-mounted engine since the LM, the first four-seat Lamborghini since the LM, and the first V-8 Lamborghini since the LM001, the LM002’s prototype.

It’s also the first Lamborghini since the LM to require you to fiddle with a bunch of levers on the center console while you drive, though the functionality is a bit different. Manual transmission and transfer case shifters are out, lever-actuated electronics with sexy-sounding Italian names are in. I’m still not clear on whether “Tamburo” refers to a specific lever or all three together, but from left to right we have “Anima,” which changes the drive mode, “Reverse,” so cleverly disguised as a hand rest you’ll struggle to find it the first time, and “Ego,” which overrides Anima and loads your personal steering, damping, and drivetrain settings.

There are also levers behind the steering wheel, more commonly referred to as paddles. You’ll use them far more than you think, but only because pulling the one on the right is how you put the Urus in drive. The transmission doesn’t need your input otherwise.

Likewise, reverse will get the biggest workout back down on the Tamburo. Whether you use Anima or Ego more, or at all, depends on the driver. Knowing most of you will keep it on the street, Strada (street) is the default, then Sport and Corsa (race). For the adventurous, keep tugging at it, and you’ll get Sabbia (sand), Terra (dirt), and Neve (snow). Take a guess where Lamborghini expects to sell most of these.

Despite its mountainous terrain, Iceland isn’t suffering an abundance of great driving roads for its depressingly mundane speed limit to ruin. The best ones aren’t paved, which is its own sort of fun, but there are a few tarmac gems scattered here and there. The easternmost stretch of Route 435 near its terminus at Lake Thingvallavatn is the crown jewel. Sure, the twisty bit lasts only 3 or so miles and the best of it is the very last mile and a half, but what a hill climb it is. Climbing more than 1,000 vertical feet through craggy rocks and tufts of moss, it’s a thrilling string of high-speed yet technical corners with precious little guardrail to save what stability control can’t. The view from the top has to be seen to be believed.

Sport is all you really need on the street, but Corsa makes the exhaust sound so much better. Even on winter tires, the Urus has so much grip on pavement that you won’t give a second thought to the “ESC Corsa” message on the digital instrument cluster. Between the rear steering, the adaptive damping, adaptive anti-roll bars, and torque vectoring rear axle, you have to drive like an absolute maniac to get the ESC’s attention at all. Understeer is your primary spoiler, and it’s avoided the same way as on dirt: slow in, fast out. Weld the brake pedal to the floor, let the superlative 17.3-inch carbon-ceramics and their 10 binders each up front eradicate speed, then breeze through the corner and roll the throttle right back to the floor as soon as you pass the apex. The seemingly endless, nose-lifting thrust is accompanied by the best noise a factory-built twin-turbo V-8 has made yet, convincingly naturally aspirated in timbre and appropriately loud for super SUV, if not a supercar.

In the style of famous Italian explorers (Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci) following in the footsteps of criminally underappreciated Norse explorers before them (Erik the Red, Leif Erikson), Lamborghini has not discovered Iceland but instead opened it to the world of exotic automakers. Although others will follow, the Urus is the first because it is the only one that has any historic and functional right to be. Iceland does not tolerate automotive pretenders, and Lamborghini hasn’t built one.

The post 2019 Lamborghini Urus Review (W/Video): The Age of Exploration appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

Celebrity Drive: Steve Darnell of “Vegas Rat Rods”

Motortrend News Feed - 8 hours 42 min ago

Quick Stats: Steve Darnell, Discovery’s “Vegas Rat Rods”
Daily Driver: 1957 Chevy 210 (Steve’s rating: 10 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Other cars: See below
Favorite road trip: Vegas to Pomona
Car he learned to drive in: Old Ford and Chevy truck
First car bought: 1973 Datsun

A 1928 Dodge from his late grandfather started it all for Steve Darnell of Vegas Rat Rods.

“He was a World War II vet, he was a bad-ass, and he was the nicest guy on the planet. I rebuilt the car and I called it ‘The Destroyer’ because he was on a destroyer battleship and he did nine battles and he lived through two or three typhoons. I feel like such a wuss compared to what he went through as a young man at 22 years old.”

Inspired by his grandfather, Darnell dedicated the rat rod to him. “He was a pretty amazing guy, there’s a lot about him here at WelderUp and my life,” he says.

Even though Darnell has built many cars since then, the Destroyer remains WelderUp’s mascot. “It sits in my showroom and we have a lot of people who come to Vegas and … want to see that car,” he says.

This rat rod, a perfect 10 in Darnell’s eyes, epitomizes the world of fabricators and welders who want to channel their creativity into something automotive. Darnell says he’s built fantasy cars for professionals including doctors who drive Porsches during the day, but these rat rods induce a different effect.

“They jump in the front seat of this thing, and it just changes their whole way. They want to go out and do burnouts and piss people off a little bit, be somebody different for a minute,” he says. “And a lot of these are people going back in time of like, ‘Dude, my grandpa had one like that.’ We’re building out now an inspiration for all these kids and their dads. They’re all out building cars in their garages because of this TV show. I hear it every day, ‘You’ve inspired me and my kid to build a rat rod.’ We’re bringing families together, they’re out in the garage and they’re building stuff and it goes from something that looks like you’re a bad-ass to where it’s actually a family thing.”

Besides the WelderUp mascot car, Darnell has a few other favorites in his garage of about 30 cars, such as his 1957 Chevy 210.

1957 Chevy 210

Rating: 10

“What I like about it, is it’s drivable, it’s got a fuel injected motor in it. It’s turbocharged, it makes about 740 horses, it’s no joke,” Darnell says. “What I like about it is I can pull up next to somebody and they’re in their brand-new Camaro and Mustang and I [can smoke them]. That’s what makes it fun. It’s a sleeper.”

View this post on Instagram

The 57!!!

A post shared by Steve Darnell (@welderupvegas) on Mar 1, 2017 at 1:12pm PST

1968 Dodge Charger

Rating: 10

“I love it. It’s got a diesel engine in it, which doesn’t belong in the car, two superchargers, two turbos on it, sticking right through the hood, and the car is just insane,” he says about the Charger, which was built for a music video.

View this post on Instagram

Overcharged!! @fassfuelsystems

A post shared by Steve Darnell (@welderupvegas) on Nov 21, 2017 at 2:48pm PST

1930 Ford Model A sedan

Rating: 20

This Ford is like WelderUp’s own Trevi Fountain, drawing fans in for what it stands for, and a place they can toss coins for good wishes.

“My general manager, his little boy had cancer and I decided to do it right in the middle of our filming season the year before this one. We stopped the shop and I said, ‘I want to build a car about cancer.’ I built a car that literally looks like it has cancer in the front of the car and it just goes through the car, it’ll come out to being brand new,” Darnell says.

That’s a car Darnell had to set aside in its own area. “We’re like a family, so when you have a little boy who barely can talk, already dealing with this, it was a lot to go through as I built the car,” he says.

On a scale of 10, Darnell rates it off the charts with a 20, commenting on how each one motivates him in a different way.

“Every time I build one, I have to go into that place and live it. They’re all different to me. The motivation for most of my builds are something positive, even if it’s creepy.”

He says he’s built scary cars and over-the-top crazy fast cars, but this one is in a whole different place of its own because it’s dealing with a disease that kills people every day.

View this post on Instagram

Missed an episodes of #vegasratrods don't worry head over to the #DiscoveryGO !!!! #vegasratrods #cancersucks #welderup #vegas

A post shared by Steve Darnell (@welderupvegas) on Jun 13, 2017 at 9:19pm PDT

“It was really weird to do it because I was like, ‘Oh man, I hope people don’t get offended by me building this car,’ but people love it and they walk in my showroom and they throw money in the car. It’s really cool,” he says.

Darnell wanted to do something positive with the money people throw in the car, so they’re putting it in a college account for Preston, the boy who inspired this car.

Although Darnell isn’t quite sure why people began to and continue to throw coins, he surmises that perhaps many have lost loved ones to cancer or have gone through it themselves.

“I’ve had women come in here that have had breast cancer and they’re like, ‘The car is exactly what I felt like. I can’t believe how spot on you are.’ I just figured this is how cancer feels; I haven’t been through it personally yet myself,” he says. “But I think a lot of people, they come in, they feel bad or someone’s died and they want to give help to somebody, and the good thing is that they know it’s going to something good.”

Car he learned to drive in

As a kid, Darnell would drive an old Ford truck on his uncle’s cattle ranch in eastern Montana.

“I’d have to feed cows with the truck or a tractor and that was when I was 7 years old because a lot of times back in them old days, you’d sit in the front seat and drive while the other guys sat out the back. So somebody had to steer and drive the truck. That’s when I learned how to drive a stick. You’d have learn how to let the clutch down easy because if not, you could throw a load of hay off and everybody off the back of the truck,” he says, laughing.

When visiting his grandfather in southern Utah, Darnell also drove the old Chevy truck that was there. “He’d put me on his lap and I’d drive his old truck around all the time with him,” Darnell says.

And in Vegas with his dad, Darnell grew up in steelyards. “I’d come here and work for my dad. I learned how to drive a forklift when I was really little,” he says. “I knew how to operate equipment. My dad had me on a forklift moving steel around or I was riding with him. As I got older I started running all kinds of different equipment. Being around all that is really what got it happening. Between the steel industry and out on the ranch and learning all that stuff, it’s good for you when you get older.”

First car bought

The story of how Darnell bought his first car started with a bicycle he bought for $80. “I sold my pedal bicycle that I paid for mowing lawns, a Redline bicycle. I fixed it up, I sold it for $300. I took my $300 and I went over and I bought a 1973 Datsun right out of a guy’s backyard,” he says. “I didn’t have a driver’s license; I was 13 or 14.”

When he tried to start the car, it had problems, so he started it in gear because the clutch didn’t work. “Then I’d ride my bicycle to the junkyard and get parts in Billings, and the old man used to give me parts; he knew I was broke. We’re still friends today,” he says. “I’m friends with him and his family all these years later. It’s been 35 years.”

Darnell got enough parts to get the Datsun running and drove that every day during his first year of high school, without a driver’s license. “Then I got a job so I could really make money. I was mowing lawns and fixing dirt bikes, people would bring motorcycles, I’d fix them in their garage, and I was building bicycles and selling them to people.”

The manual Datsun wasn’t easy to drive without air or power steering, but it meant the world to Darnell.

“The feel of the freedom of knowing that you just went and took your hard-earned money and bought your own vehicle—that day was one of the most satisfying days of my life,” he says, exuberantly.

For Darnell, the Datsun was about the independence of being a young man. “Nowadays, kids don’t even get their driver’s license until they’re 20. We were driving before our driver’s license, we were so excited to drive,” he says. “I couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel of something and turn that radio on and just live and be free. I think that adrenaline rush, now I don’t know how many cars I have, and I’ve been through hundreds of cars, but that Datsun was one of the first ones. It was cool. I wish I could find that one actually.”

Darnell also had a 1970 Chevrolet Blazer during his teenager years. “That was probably the coolest thing when I was in high school that I drove,” he says. “I had a lot of different cars and trucks even when I was younger; I was buying and selling go karts. Since I was a little kid I had dirt bikes.”

It was a struggle to maintain his cars back then in high school. “I went to work when I was 16 years old so I could afford to drive my cars, and before that I shoveled walks and mowed lawns and did side jobs and whatever I could do,” he says.

Although Darnell lived in Montana during his teenager years, every summer he’d go work for his dad in Las Vegas. “I had an old Camaro here and we used to cruise the Strip and Fremont Street and chase girls and have a good time back in the late ’80s,” he says. “I had four different cars before I graduated high school because I was buying them, selling them, fixing them up, selling them.”

Darnell first got the bug for working on cars back in high school, inspired also by stories his parents would tell him of a glorious past with their cars in old Vegas. “My mom and dad in the ’60s were cruising Fremont Street in their ’56 Chevy,” he recalls. “All those stories stayed in my head and I thought it was so cool, so I’ve always been into cars because of that.”

Favorite road trip

One of Darnell’s favorite road trips was driving up to his grandfather’s place in Utah. “I knew that once I got there I could drive his truck and drive the tractor and shoot the guns. So that was always a thrill too when I was younger,” he says.

But today, Darnell’s favorite road trip is from Vegas to Pomona, California. “Some of my favorite highways is the 210, getting ready to get off on Fruit Street so I can go to Pomona for the swap meet,” he says, with a laugh. “Coming down the highway, knowing that I’m getting closer to the Pomona Swap Meet is always a thrill, because I can’t wait to get there.”

Darnell loves the swap meet so much, he tries to go every five weeks when he can. “It’s a blast. For me in my world and what I do, I find stuff and … build something out of it. So it’s fun to go there and find the parts and pieces that I need to be able to create these creatures that I build, but at the same moment it’s like a family reunion. Everybody’s barbecuing in the parking lot, they sleep in their cars right on the grounds, it’s crazy,” he says, laughing.

Now that he stars in his own show, some people are surprised when he camps out like they do. “People trip out because they can’t believe that I’m sleeping out there on the parking lot. I’m like, ‘I’m just hanging out with you guys, man,’” he says, laughing. “But it’s fun, it’s a good time. That’s where I came from, my dad took me there in the late ’70s, so I’ve been there since ’78 or ’79.”

Vegas Rat Rods on Discovery, Tuesdays at 9 p.m.

Darnell’s 1928 diesel rat rod started it all because it went viral before that was even an everyday term. “It was the first rat rod with a twin-turbo six-cylinder diesel engine in it,” he says. “I did this big, big, huge burnout in this parking lot of this church. The church was having a car show and they said, ‘You can do a burnout.’ It went to YouTube and it went viral, a couple million views right away, and that’s when people didn’t really know a whole lot about YouTube.”

He was approached by production companies and they tried to build cars out of ranch finds—they’d go to a ranch and dig around old stuff from years of farming and build a rat rod, Darnell says.

Although a production company in Canada produced the show and it ran on Discovery, Darnell says the current season feels new because it’s now a Discovery Studios production here in the States.

“My exec at Discovery, Kyle Wheeler, had seen value in this show and he’s like, ‘Look, I want you to come to L.A., we need to sit down and talk about this show and see about putting it back on American ground.’ I said, ‘I’ll be there.’ Kyle, he’s a miracle worker, and he’s a straight-up dude and we made it happen, and we did Season Four, which is the best season I’ve ever done.”

His kids now appear on the show, too. “My two boys have been around me since they were little, so they know how to weld,” he says

It’s easy to see why Darnell has helped make the show a hit among his fans, always speaking with genuine conviction and unfiltered passion.

“We’ve got my ex-brother-in-law Justin, a great fabricator, very intelligent. He’s great this year on the show. We’ve got Merlin, my newer mechanic who is very intelligent. Of course my goofy cousin Dave is on the show. And Travis, my artist that helps me with design on paint,” he says. “We’ve been a lot freer, they let us produce the show this year.”

Being able to produce has made a big difference for Darnell, as well. “The pick sites where we go find this stuff, it’s like a mixture of American Pickers and building cars, in a way. I get to down out and find an old sign that has history and I get to tell about it. It’s just so much cooler.”

They also got to film at his favorite swap. “That was what was so cool about our production this year; we got to go to Pomona and I got to go show them how I do it,” he says.

They built a car this season that was haunted. “The guy I got it from, this creepy dude that I know from frickin’ Pomona, his name is Joe, he’s an awesome dude. [A ’55 Chevy we built this year] is called the Haunted Rod, because the car is haunted, but it’s like that Christine feel, like the movie,” he says.

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The Haunted Rod!!!!! #welderup #vegasratrods #sema #55 #chevy

A post shared by Steve Darnell (@welderupvegas) on Oct 31, 2018 at 8:48am PDT

With his success, Darnell makes sure to cater to fans who come to Vegas wanting to make a stopover at WelderUp. On an average day, WelderUp might have up to 150 people. “This morning I did a private tour with 22 people and I take them through the showroom, I explain who I am, I show them some of the cars, I answer any of their questions, and they love it,” he says. “They leave here loving that they came and that they met me and they know that I’m real. Not a lot of these celebrities will take the time to come out and be with the people.”

He says if it wasn’t for these people watching TV, he wouldn’t be where he is today. “I feel like I have to contribute to that and set aside time for the people that really want to know about me and really want to know about what’s going on at WelderUp and Vegas Rat Rods—‘Do we build the cars that fast?’ and ‘Does Discovery tell you what to build and what not to build?’ They just have so many questions,” he says. “They think it’s a big fake thing behind the scenes because TV has got so much drama over the past years that the more real it is, the more they like it.”

Darnell doesn’t have time for drama, he says. “I’m building a car in here with my guys. I’m not an actor, I’m not a host, I am the guy designing and doing all the detailed fabrication, going on the picks, doing everything for the show,” he says. “I’m in here on my hands and knees welding right alongside the rest of these guys in here. And they love that. They love the fact that it’s real and that we’re at the same level. But when you’re a baller, when you’re so far up there, people can’t relate with someone who flew in on their helicopter. And that’s what I like, they feel at home when they come in my shop, they hug me like they’ve known me.”

Darnell is excited about this season and the story behind its production move to Los Angeles. “I’m excited about the help I’ve got this year from everybody, the show runner that I have this year [is] working hard, he wants the best show on TV, so that inspires me and makes me go, ‘OK, now I have something to fight for because we’re working together here,’” he says.

Darnell hopes the show continues to inspire viewers at home to build their own rat rod creatures. “Dads want to go out and build a car, and moms are taking stuff out of the kitchen going, ‘Hey, can we put this in the car, too?’” he says.

See Vegas Rat Rods right here.


The post Celebrity Drive: Steve Darnell of “Vegas Rat Rods” appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

Brexit chaos causes mixed day for the market

Property Week News Feed - 8 hours 54 min ago
Housebuilder share prices were rocked by on-going Brexit chaos on Thursday with Taylor Wimpey (-7.5%), Persimmon (-7.36%), Berkeley Group (-6.26%) and Barratt Developments (-1.14%) all recording losses at market close.
Categories: Property

2020 Toyota Corolla Sedan First Look: Civic’s Prime Competition Is Back

Motortrend News Feed - 14 hours 41 min ago

Toyota’s freshly minted Corolla hatch, based on the hot new TNGA architecture, has been winning friends and influencing editors ever since we first clapped our eyes on it in March. We’ve since buckled in and strapped our gear on a few times and lauded the little hatch for its quantum-leapfrogging of its dreary Corolla iM predecessor. Sprightly dynamics and an upscale cockpit have drawn praise, while stingy rear-seat and cargo space drew raspberries. Those problems would seem to be easily solved by stretching the wheelbase (and rear leg environment) by 2.4 inches and grafting on a trunk. Yes, after testing out the tooling and letting the youth troubleshoot its hatchback for a few months, Toyota is now revealing the Corolla sedan.

Like the 2019 Corolla hatch, the 2020 Corolla sedan gets a broader stance, with its front and rear track widened by 0.5 and 0.9 inch, respectively, relative to the outgoing sedan. It also gets the hatch’s new 18-inch aluminum wheels on top trim levels, with lesser trims making do with steel or alloy 16s. Following a trend that started with the Camry, the whole car stands a bit lower—the height comes down 0.8 inch, the hood sits 1.4 inches lower, and with it the cowl, beltline, and instrument panel each come down a bit. The driver even sits an inch lower and 1.6 inches further rearward. All of this helps lower the center of gravity by 0.4 inch, while thinner A-pillars improve outward visibility.

Other refinements include a huge new one-piece floor silencer pad to hush road and tire noise, and a clever stratified climate control system that can feed fresh dehumidified air to the greenhouse to prevent fogging while recirculating warm air lower in the cabin.

The top powertrain offering in the SE and XSE models matches that of the sportier hatch—Toyota’s new 2.0-liter port- and direct-injected engine featuring a lofty 13:1 compression ratio, electric cam phasing, and variable cooling and lubrication circuits. Here it produces 169 hp (1 more than in the hatch) and 151 lb-ft of torque and comes teamed with a six-speed manual (featuring new micro-polished gear teeth for reduced noise) or a CVT that uses a torque converter and a conventional first gear, which then hands off to the belt-and-pulleys system. Base L, LE, and XLE grades get an updated version of the last model’s 1.8-liter engine, retuned for a bit more power and better fuel efficiency (neither claim has been quantified yet).

The sedan and hatch share most of what’s forward of the B-pillar, with the notable exception of the two fascia designs and the grille. The Toyota sombrero moves up from its central grille location on the hatch to that little island of painted bodywork that sits forward of the hood on the sedan. The Avalon-esque dash carries over, complete with its 8.0-inch touchscreen featuring the Entune 3.0 infotainment system with Apple CarPlay compatibility (sorry, no Android Auto yet). Base L models must make due with a less feature-rich 7.0-inch screen. Top models share the hatch’s 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster speedometer display, while lesser grades get a 4.2-inch multi-information display flanked by analog speedo and tach dials. A full suite of connectivity features is available, including accident reporting, remote vehicle status reporting via phone app, onboard Wi-Fi powered by Verizon, and concierge services.

Continuing where the last-gen model left off and matching the 2019 Honda Civic, every 2020 Toyota Corolla will feature Safety Sense 2.0 gear as standard. This includes a radar- and camera-based pre-collision system that warns and brakes, adaptive cruise control (on CVT models it even handles stop-and-go traffic), lane-departure alert that will steer to prevent lane departure, or with the CVT, “Lane Trace Assist,” which keeps the car centered in its lane. There’s even auto-high-beam assist and Road Sign Assist to interpret and display speed limit, stop, yield, and do-not-enter signs.

The 2020 Corolla’s predecessor placed a disappointing sixth out of seven compacts in a 2016 Big Test comparison. Once the new sedan arrives, we look forward to seeing whether its performance improves without overshadowing the practical strengths that have made the car a sales success for so many years.

The post 2020 Toyota Corolla Sedan First Look: Civic’s Prime Competition Is Back appeared first on Motor Trend.

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